Nutrition Nonsense

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What Can I Believe In The Media About Nutrition?

Nutrition is a science, however, much of what you hear in the media through news and advertising is not only false, but disregards the current scientific knowledge. Let’s explore a few of these pieces of nutrition nonsense:

The Best Diet is a Low-Fat Diet, With Carbs at 50-60% of Calories

The low-fat diet has been put to the test in several huge randomized controlled trials. It does not cause any weight loss over a period of 7.5 years and it has literally no effect on heart disease or cancer. The low-fat diet has been a huge failure. All the major studies show that low fat diets don’t work. Consider that the next time you go to purchase something “non-fat” or “low-fat” at the grocery store.

  • Howard BV, et al. Low-fat dietary pattern and weight change over 7 years: the nWomen’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006.
  • Howard BV, et al. Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006.
  • Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial: Risk Factor Changes and Mortality Results. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1982.

Eggs Raise Cholesterol and Will Lead to Heart Disease

The cholesterol in eggs does not raise the LDL cholesterol in the blood. It raises HDL cholesterol (good) and eggs actually improve the blood lipid profile.
The studies show that egg consumption is not associated with heart disease. Whole eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Consider this the next time you’re tempted to buy “Egg Beaters” at the market.

  • Rong Y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 2013.
  • Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 2006.
  • Blesso CN, et al. Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolism, 2013.

Polyunsaturated Fats Lower Cholesterol and Reduce Heart Disease Risk

There are two types of polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3 and Omega-6. It is true that Omega-3s reduce the risk of heart disease, but the same is not true for the Omega-6s. Even though the Omega-6s (soybean oil, corn oil, canola, sunflower and safflower etc.) can lower cholesterol, the studies show that they actually increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, the horrible advice to increase polyunsaturated fat, without regards to the type, is probably contributing to heart disease instead of preventing it.

  • Ramsden CE, et al. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death. British Medical Journal, 2013.
  • Lands WE, et al. Dietary fat and health: the evidence and the politics of prevention: careful use of dietary fats can improve life and prevent disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2005.
  • Ramsden CE, et al. n-6 fatty acid-specific and mixed polyunsaturate dietary interventions have different effects on CHD risk: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 2010.

Fat Makes You Fat

Even though fat has more calories per gram than carbs and protein, it is not any more fattening. Eating foods that are naturally high in fat tends to reduce the appetite. The studies consistently show that diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) lead to much more weight loss than diets that are low in fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar makes you fat. Eating good fats can actually help you stay healthy. So, eat good quality fats and real, whole, fresh food, and don’t worry about it.

  • Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.
  • Yancy WS, et al. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004.
  • Westman EC, et al. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2008.

Weight Loss Is All About Your Calories In and Calories Out

This is completely false, different calorie sources go through different metabolic pathways in the body and have varying effects on hunger, hormones and the brain. Also, let’s not forget that health is about way more than just weight. Certain calorie sources (added sugar, vegetable oils) can cause harmful effects on metabolism that have nothing to do with their caloric value. The idea that weight loss is all about calories in/calories out is ridiculous because it totally ignores how certain foods affect your hormones that deal with appetite and fat storage affect your weight.

Take the example of fructose, found in drinks as high fructose corn syrup… Fructose, when it enters the liver from the digestive tract, can be turned into glucose and stored as glycogen. But if the liver is full of glycogen, it can be turned into fat… which is then shipped out or lodges in the liver. Consumed in excess, it can cause insulin resistance, which raises insulin levels all over the body and insulin drives fat gain.

  • Feinman RD, et al.“A calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutrition Journal, 2004.
  • Johnston CS, et al. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2002.
  • Veldhorst MA, et al. Presence or absence of carbohydrates and the proportion of fat in a high-protein diet affect appetite suppression but not energy expenditure in normal-weight human subjects fed in energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition, 2010.
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