Nutrition Fox

48 Nutrition Experts Debunk Top Nutrition Myths

Welcome to our 2nd Expert Roundup! The topic for this one is “Nutrition Myths“. We didn’t really know what to expect when we started doing these,  however, our first Expert Roundup is about to break 9,000 views and has over 1,000 social shares!! So to keep things rolling we decided to do another one and make this one even bigger and better.

First off, we just want to say how much we appreciate all of the Registered Dietitians that have contributed to these roundups so far, it really means a lot to us. They are taking time out of their busy schedules to submit their responses for these topics so that we can share them all with you. With that said, if you guys could please connect with the RD’s by following them on their preferred social media profiles, I know they would really appreciate all the love and it’s the least we can do for them.

For this roundup we were able to get 48 Registered Dietitians involved and have them share 1 nutrition myth each. There are a TON of nutrition myths out there, and we think that most of you will really find this information useful and will finally learn the truth about some common myths.

This post was super fun to put together, it was a great topic to cover and awesome to be able to finally debunk a bunch of myths.

This post is a bit long and will entail a decent amount of scrolling, so if you’d like to jump straight to a specific experts section, please just click on their name below and it will jump you right to their “Nutrition Myth”. Otherwise, let the scrolling begin!

Nutrition Myths Debunked!


Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN Read Bio

Myth: Everyone should take a multivitamin.

Truth: There’s no magic in the multi.

Most Americans don’t eat enough nourishing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, and low-fat dairy, so they fall short of their vitamin and mineral needs – especially when it comes to potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. If your diet’s full of junk, a multivitamin can stave off deficiencies, but it won’t promote optimal health. If you’re trying to prevent disease and maintain a healthy body weight, choose a balanced diet full of whole, minimally processed foods.

I recommend people try to meet their nutrient needs from food whenever possible. Well-nourished adults in low-risk groups don’t need to take multivitamins. However, some populations like women who are or may become pregnant, those with known deficiencies or malabsorption issues, strict vegetarians, vegans, and older adults may need supplements.

If you choose to take a multivitamin, talk to your healthcare provider or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to determine the right type: needs vary depending on diet, health history, age, and medical conditions. For instance, healthy postmenopausal women and adult men should choose a multivitamin without iron, unless recommended by a doctor. Smokers should avoid supplements containing beta-carotene because of an increased risk of lung cancer and mortality.

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Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD Read Bio

Myth: Detoxing, or using certain foods to detox, removes impurities from your body.

Explanation: It seems detoxes are everywhere lately, with people subsisting just on juice or tea or something similar in order to flush the “impurities” out of their cells. But how does that even work? To my knowledge, no one food or herb has ever been demonstrated to be able to “detox” the organs, and I am not aware of any research that has been able to identify the “toxins.” If we have functioning skin, liver and kidneys, we are detoxing every day. Even if a quick detox works for weight loss, the gains are short-term because you can’t stay on it forever. While you might lose weight, that’s only because you’re not getting enough calories. A detox might briefly make you feel better, because you haven’t eaten junk food for a few days, but does that really mean you’ve made long-term progress?

So for all these reasons I’ve developed the idea of a nutrition reboot. In my private practice I’ve helped hundreds of clients reboot their bodies through balanced nutrition. The results of that experience have led me to write my new book, Whole Body Reboot. The idea is simple but revelatory. Rather than just cleaning up your eating for a few hungry days, a nutrition reboot is designed to get your eating habits on track, so that your whole body — your organs, your skin, your brain, your heart, your immune system, and your mind — are all feeling renewed.

Here’s the idea: You fill your body full of nutrient-dense foods, rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. All of these nutrients help restore your entire body’s systems for optimal function. You feel better physically because you are consuming fulfilling, satisfying healthy food, not just junk. And you feel better psychologically because you know you’re taking care of yourself with good and balanced nutrition and that is a prolonged detoxifying effect. It’s a great way to start the new year — or a new day.

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Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS Read Bio

Myth: “Butter is back – you can eat all the saturated fat you want”.

While we now know that total fat itself is not as much of a concern, type of fat is still important. Evidence shows that when you replace saturated fat with refined carbohydrates, it’s a wash. But when you replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, you see reduction in heart disease. Saturated fat may not be as bad for us as previously thought, but it does not appear to be beneficial — unlike unsaturated fats, which clearly show a health benefit. No studies have shown health benefits of increased saturated fat. In terms of full-fat products, it is ok to consume these depending on what the rest of your diet is like. If you have a diet full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and beans and legumes, and healthy oils, then eating full-fat dairy products or red meat is probably not an issue, as you aren’t over-consuming saturated fat. On the other hand, if you are not eating much fresh produce or beneficial foods, then adding full-fat foods into an already unhealthy diet is not recommended. However the bottom line for best health benefits is to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and reduce intake of refined carbohydrates.

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Nicole German Morgan, RDN, LD, CLT Read Bio

Myth: “If I eat fat, I will be fat”.

False! Eating the wrong types of fats can contribute to inflammation, and cause weight difficulties. However, eating the right types of healthy fats can help us stay satisfied with our meals and snacks so that we eat less! Healthy fats control hunger, and may help you eat less throughout the day. The key is to know what is a healthy fat, and what is not. Avocado and nuts are examples of healthy fats. An added bonus is that eating more fats helps you eat less sugar and carbohydrates which is a key element for weight loss.

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McKenzie Hall, RD Read Bio

Myth: You should avoid foods that are high in fat.

The Truth: Fats are an essential part of a healthy, well balanced diet and are necessary to help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K). They’re a great source of energy and help us have glowing skin and shiny, healthy hair. Fats are satiating, keeping our blood sugar steady and helping us feel satisfied in-between meals and snacks. Unsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, have also been linked to protection against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. When you’re eating foods higher in fat, just choose smaller portion sizes. You’ll likely be more satisfied in the long run.

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Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, CLT Read Bio

Myth: Fruit has to much sugar, it is causing me to gain weight!

Response: Fruit is filled with natural sugar from fructose as well as many other important nutrients, like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruit can most definitely fit into a well balanced meal plan and help satisfy your sweet tooth in a natural way. Weight gain is a brought on by a variety of factors that can stem from a poor diet or activity regimen. I have yet to find a client whose gained weight from eating to many apples!

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Dixya Bhattarai, RD Read Bio

Myth: Eggs are bad because of its cholesterol content.

A large egg contains about 185 mg of cholesterol and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a limit of 300 mg per day which is basically two eggs before you exceed your limit. The confusion primarily arises from the assumption that when you eat more cholesterol (from eggs and other animal foods), your blood cholesterol increases. However, research has consistently and reliably shown that the dietary cholesterol (cholesterol from food you eat) has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in your blood. Besides that, egg yolks are a great source of essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, B6, folate, and B12. Rather than avoiding eggs completely (for the fear of cholesterol), it is safe to make eggs part of your diet but you need to pay attention to the “trimmings” that come with your eggs such as cheese, sausages, and home fries.

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Ruth Frechman, MA, RDN, CPT – America’s Fad-Free Nutritionist Read Bio

Myth: Becoming a vegetarian means I will lose weight and be healthy.

To lose weight, it’s not what you eat, it’s the total amount of calories consumed. Some people cut out red meat, chicken, fish, even dairy and expect to lose weight. However, when they cut out the protein, their choices are limited. They may start eating too much rice, bread or pasta. Sometimes vegetarians think that they can eat extra sweets or French fries in place of protein. The calories from Fried foods and foods with added sugar add up quick.
There are even vegetarians who don’t eat fruits or vegetables. In order to lose weight on a vegetarian diet, it takes planning 1) to get all the necessary nutrients and 2) to get the proper amount of calories.

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Sara Korzeniewski, RD Read Bio

Myth: Vegetable Oils are good for you.

Vegetable oils are a polyunsaturated fat and not all of these fats are created equal. By far the biggest source of Omega 6 fatty acids in the modern diet are processed seed and vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, canola, and sunflower oils. We need both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats to be a certain ratio to be healthy. Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory and may lower many diseases. When we consume a lot of vegetable oils we actually increase our source of omega 6s which is unnatural for our bodies and can actually increase the risk of heart disease.
Avoid vegetable oils and instead reach for the healthier coconut oil, grass fed butter, and olive oil.

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Emily Cooper, RD Read Bio

Myth: One nutrition myth that I’m constantly busting is that “gluten free” doesn’t mean “healthy”.

Yes, those who cannot tolerate gluten in their diets are in fact healthier without it, but a lot of folks are still buying gluten-free foods simply because they think they are healthier. A gluten-free chocolate chip cookie is still a chocolate chip cookie, and is probably a lot more expensive too. Focusing on naturally gluten-free foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, and seeds are much healthier options than processed junk and packaged foods whether or not you’re gluten intolerant.

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Kath Younger, RD Read Bio

Myth: It is a myth that eating a diet of fat-free foods is the best way to lose weight.

Fat isn’t digested until it reaches the small intestines, so it keeps you feeling full for hours. Healthy fats like avocados, full-fat dairy (yes even cheese!), nuts and nut butters and coconut go a long way to keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal. Plus fats are important for healthy skin so you’ll be glowing from the inside out!

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Carissa Bealert, RDN Fit2Flex.comRead Bio

Myth: Wheat is BAD for you!

Wheat makes you gain weight..yadda yadda yadda! Unless you have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance then there’s no reason you need to avoid wheat. Wheat and products made from whole wheat and even enriched wheat have great nutritional benefits including essential B-vitamins. Carbohydrates are also the preferred fuel source of your brain, so choosing carbs like wheat toast or cereal as part of your morning meal is a smart idea. Wheat alone also doesn’t cause one to gain weight. Excess calories, inactivity, and myriad of other items cause weight gain. Bread in moderation is in fact NOT the devil. Just enjoy it, in moderation, and preferably with a lean source of protein and a side of produce!

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Jamila René Lepore, MS, RD/N Read Bio

Myth: There are specific protein powders designed to work for men and others for women.

Explanation: Protein doesn’t discriminate between men and women, so there’s no need for you to either. Women are often targeted with “pretty” packaging and catchy phrases like “lean” and “slim” or “low carb” and “metabolism boosting.” Don’t be fooled by marketing claims. These are typically no different than other protein powders, other than in price (expect to pay more $). Where your attention is better served is in evaluating the type of protein. And which protein is best completely depends on your goals and preferences. Protein concentrate versus isolate, animal protein (ex: whey, egg) versus plant based (ex: soy, pea, rice), or whether you want to use protein powders at all. If you want to know more, I break down the pros, cons, and applications of different proteins here:

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Ashley Galloway, MS, RD/LDN Read Bio

Myth: Taking a Multivitamin will keep me healthy when I forget to eat fruits and vegetables.

Explanation: Multivitamins do not contribute the same health benefits as does real food. There are many phytonutrients in plant foods that protect against developing disease that are not found in vitamins. For optimal health and longevity, it’s always best to get your nutrients from food itself.

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Kate Scarlata, RDN, LDN Read Bio

Myth: Eating nut or nut butter is fattening.

Explanation: While overeating any food can pack the pounds on, nuts and nut butter are nutritional powerhouses that should not be ignored. Research studies reveal that regular nut consumption is unlikely to contribute to obesity and likely, helps with weight loss. There is strong evidence that nut consumption lowers risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Nuts are a great source of magnesium, an important mineral, that is deficient in up to 60% of the diets of Americans.

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Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CDE Read Bio

Myth: Sugar causes diabetes
Being a diabetes educator, I often hear people say they’ve heard that sugar causes diabetes. The truth is, if you do not have diabetes, sugar intake alone will not cause you to develop the disease. Genetics and lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in calories (regardless of the source), being overweight or obese and being physically inactive, are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes. However, if you have diabetes, you do need to manage how much sugar and carbohydrates you eat. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you to manage your blood sugar level.

Type 2 diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder. There are multiple factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and what may have contributed to one person getting diabetes may be completely different for someone else. You must look at the bigger picture rather than singling out one specific probable cause or risk factor.

Research has shown that drinking sugary beverages is linked to type 2 diabetes. This does not imply causation. Again, a high calorie diet (regardless of the source) is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people should avoid intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages include: regular soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks. These raise blood glucose levels and can provide several hundred calories, all while providing little or no nutritional value. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – drink water!

Additional risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Pre-diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels: high blood triglycerides and/or low HDL “good” cholesterol
  • Gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • High alcohol intake
  • Belonging to certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Japanese Americans.
  • Age: The risk of developing type 2 diabetes begins to rise significantly around age 45, and even more so after age 65.
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Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD Read Bio

Myth: You shouldn’t eat after dark

Truth: The metabolism does not shut down because it’s night time. It’s common for people to eat TOO much at night while they are sitting on the couch, which is a bad idea if you’re trying not to gain weight. While the body needs fuel about every 4 hours that you are awake, match supply with demand. If you’re less active at night, eat a bit less… yet if you do an evening workout, don’t skip that post workout meal before bed!

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Cassie Bjork, RD, LD Read Bio

Myth: Cholesterol doesn’t clog your arteries! This is a myth! The real problem is inflammation.

Without inflammation, cholesterol wouldn’t accumulate in our vessel walls. Cholesterol simply comes to the rescue to heal your body of existing inflammation. The latest research tells sugar acts as little pieces of glass that are cutting up your vessels and causing inflammation. When this happens, cholesterol comes to the rescue as a protective mechanism. Cholesterol doesn’t clog your arteries and is the hero, not the villain!

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Stephanie McKercher, MS, RDN Read Bio

Myth: You need meat to get enough protein.

Reality: It’s pretty simple to get enough protein on a completely plant-based diet! Good sources include beans, lentils, soy, nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, and peas.

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Elizabeth Abrahamson, RD Read Bio

Myth: Don’t eat after 7 pm.

Some choose to avoid eating later in the evening because they are afraid it will lead to weight gain. The problem with eating later in the evening usually isn’t due to time of day, but rather it is a result of poor food choices. People tend to do more social eating in the evenings which often includes foods like pizza, chips, or ice cream. Social eating also leads to overeating. Listen to your body. If you’ve had a physically demanding day and you’re truly hungry at 8 pm, grab something healthy to eat. However, if you’re out with friends be careful not to eat too much and always keep your eyes open for healthier options!

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Nichola Whitehead, UK RD Read Bio

Myth: Eating fat (in particular saturated fat) will make you fat & is bad for your health!

It’s TOO MANY CALORIES that make you fat!!

In the 1960’s it was concluded that saturated fat, rather than total fat intake was associated with heart disease .. but association does not mean causation and years later it was actually found that sugar intake was more strongly associated with heart disease (think biscuits, cakes, sweets etc).

In the mean-time though National Guidelines (perhaps wrongly) encouraged the reduction of TOTAL fats to no more than 30% of total energy intake. This guidance was simplified and twisted and eventually all fats were seen as bad.. with the advice to cut it out if you wanted to improve your health or lose some weight.

Saturated fat (found in animal products such as meat, butter, eggs and milk) appears cardiovascular (heart) disease risk neutral. The problem has been that when you tell people to cut down on saturated fat (found in whole/natural foods) they naturally seek other food alternatives – which in our societies’ case seems to have been foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar. So it’s not our saturated fat intake that we should be worrying about.. it’s the overall quality of our diet; is it based on mainly naturally, whole foods such as meat, fish, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes or is it loaded with so called ‘junk’ or heavily processed foods such as takeaways, sweets, biscuits etc.. I’m sure that you can work out which is better for us!

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Andrea Ovard, RD (The Baking Dietitian) Read Bio

Myth: Low carbohydrate diets are healthy.

False! The low-carb diet seems to be a trend these days. It’s one of those diets that comes and goes all the time. It keeps cycling back around in different forms and under different “names”. The fact of the matter is carbs (in the right amount and the right kind of carbs) are good for us. You’re brain literally needs carbs to work effectively and efficiently. Studies have shown that you need at least 130 grams of carbohydrates per day for proper brain function. A better recommendation than “low-carbohydrate” is to make about 45-65% of your total calorie intake from carbohydrates and try to consume most of your carbohydrates from natural sources like fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and whole grains. Limit carbohydrates in the form of added sugars, such as baked goods and candy. So remember CARBS ARE GOOD, you just need to eat the right amount from the right kinds of foods! Myth de-bunked!

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Robyn Coale, RD, RN Read Bio

Myth: That eating “xyz” food will make you gain weight.

Explanation: Weight management is SO much more than eating certain foods, a certain amount of calories, or exercising in a certain way. Stress and sleep play a MAJOR role in weight maintenance. If there are high levels of stress in your life from work, family, inadequate nutrition, too much exercise, not enough sleep or other stressors, weight gain or an inability to loss weight occurs regardless of what you eat or how much you sweat.

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Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian, author of Plant-Powered for Life and The Plant-Powered Diet Read Bio

Myth: You can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet.

This is not true. In fact, studies show that vegan people typically get enough protein in their diets. The fact is that we often overestimate how much protein we really need. If you weigh 135 pounds, you only need 49 grams of protein per day, according to the Dietary Reference Intake. It’s true that some people need a bit more protein, such as athletes, body builders, and older people. But it’s still not hard to meet these protein needs on a plant-based diet. When you eat real, whole plant foods—whole grains, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, vegetables—you are getting protein in every bite! Beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds are particularly rich in protein, too. So, if you include some protein-rich plant foods—beans, lentils, tofu, soy milk, peanuts, pistachios—into each meal and snack, along with a variety of whole grains and vegetables, you’re good to go!

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Nicole Geurin, MPH, RD Read Bio

Myth: “Overweight” individuals must pursue weight loss to improve their health.

Explanation: Pursuing weight loss often leads to more harm than good. People of all sizes can benefit from a weight-neutral, Health at Every Size® (HAES®) approach — a balanced, intuitive approach to well-being that does not focus on weight loss or achieving a specific “ideal weight.”

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Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN Read Bio

Myth: Carbohydrates Make You Fat

We gain weight from eating excess calories, not carbohydrates. Like gasoline to a car, carbohydrates are our energy source. They provide the fuel to keep us powered throughout the day. Yes, there are some carbs that aren’t so great for us: soda, candy, doughnuts and sugary cakes and cookies. These carbs have little nutritional value and don’t promote health. Stick with the healthy plant-based carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts to enhance your daily energy output, keep your brain sharp and contain nutrients that support good health.

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Jessica DeGore, RD, LDN Read Bio

Myth: Frozen Fruits and Vegetables aren’t as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested at their peak which locks in nutrients such as antioxidants, including polyphenols, anthocyanins, lutein, and beta-carotene. Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Nutrients are not destroyed when freezing and purchasing frozen allows you more access to a variety of fruits and vegetables year round. Make sure you check the ingredients list when purchasing frozen produce to make sure it only lists the fruit or vegetable and is free of salt, sugar, or additives.

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Emily Cope, MS, RDN Read Bio

Myth: Vegetables Taste Bad

I admit, at one point I thought this to be true too. But the thought that vegetables taste bad is so wrong! Vegetables can be some of the most delicious items on your plate – it is all about how you prepare them. Look for recipes by registered dietitians, the experts who know how to really make all vegetables taste amazingly delicious!

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Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, founder of Family. Food. Fiesta., weight management and sports nutrition specialist Read Bio

Myth: Don’t eat after 7pm or you’ll gain weight. False!

There are no studies or research that back up this statement. However, to prevent weight gain at night, eat a meal that is less than 30% of your total daily caloric intake. This way dinner is not the biggest meal of the day. In addition, allow your body time to digest the food before going to bed (at least 2-3 hours). For example, if you choose to eat at 8pm, you go to bed around 11pm. Portion sizes and meal timing are important when it comes to weight management.

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Abbey Sharp, RD Read Bio

Myth: “I can’t eat after 8 PM, I will automatically gain weight!”

This is one of my all time favourite myths to debunk because I am proof that it’s BS. I eat dinner after 8 PM, and I usually have a little sweet snack right before bed. I’ve done this my whole life and never had a problem with my weight. Likewise, think of Europeans. If you dine out in Italy, or Spain, 10 PM is the ideal reservation slot- that means they’re it’s quite common to dine well into the late evening hours. Meanwhile, if you look at their weight or more importantly, their health patterns as a whole, you’ll see that they’re doing a heck of a lot better than us. So what about all of those headlines you’ve read in the past about late night snacking being linked to weight gain? It’s important here to distinguish between causation and association. Late night snacking may be linked to unwanted pounds but it likely has nothing do with the time on the clock. The problem lies in the types of foods we normally tuck into late at night when we’re relaxing and unwinding after a long day- chips, pop, beer, sweets, all of which are high in calories. If instead, you were to choose healthier snacks like some hummus with veggies, greek yogurt and berries, a handful of toasted nuts, then that association would drastically diminish. Ultimately, fat is fat, protein is protein, carbs are carbs, and alcohol is alcohol- all of these things contribute calories to the diet. Your body acknowledges those calories, it doesn’t acknowledge the time on the clock.

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Lauren Gibson, RD Read Bio

Myth: Low fat products are always a healthier choice.

Fat carries flavor. Many products that are marketed as “low fat” often contain more sugar or refined carbohydrates to compensate for the loss of flavor from the removal of fat. I recommend that consumers always compare the sugar and sodium content between a low fat and regular version of a product. In some cases, the low fat product may indeed be the better choice. If I see more sugar in the low fat product, I almost always choose the regular version. Plus, fat helps with satiety. Low fat products may lead you to become hungry earlier, resulting in more snacking and greater intake overall.

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Michaela Ballmann, MS, RD, CLT Read Bio

Myth: Gluten is toxic

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other relatives. Though people with Celiac Disease should avoid it completely as it causes damage to their GI tracts along with both hidden and painful symptoms and malabsorption of nutrients, most people tolerate gluten just fine. It has been the scapegoat for obesity, brain fog and every other condition imaginable, but the culprit is often refined starches and highly processed carbohydrates, not the gluten in those foods. Other populations that may benefit from a gluten-free diet include people with Hahimoto’s Thyroiditis and certain autoimmune conditions.

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Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT & Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT, co-authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure Read Bio

Myth: Fresh produce is always better than frozen or canned.

Truth: Fresh produce is not always better than frozen or canned. Fresh produce loses nutrients when it’s exposed to heat, air or light, so when it’s shipped distances or exposed to sunlight or kept in a warehouse or store shelf, nutrients are lost. When produce is frozen, it is picked and frozen immediately, nutrients intact.

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Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author, The Elimination Diet Workbook: A Personal Approach to Determining Your Food Allergies Read Bio

Myth: You need a ton of protein right after a workout

While it’s true that protein is important for building muscle and improving its ability to use oxygen in future workouts, you probably need less than you think. And more isn’t better, it’s just more. Further, it’s worth noting that most people will be better served by eating protein in several small meals throughout the day.

After rigorous strength training or endurance exercise, the body has up to 24-hours to benefit from protein, though most experts agree that sooner is better (within a few hours). When it comes to post-exercise protein, 20-25g will do. Just to put that into perspective, you can get 20g protein from 8 oz of Greek yogurt, 3 oz of chicken, or 3 oz of salmon. Higher intakes don’t do any more good for protein synthesis; in fact, it increases amino acid oxidation and the nitrogen waste product urea. In other words, if you overdo it on protein, you’re just paying for expensive pee.

Now, if you are a recreational athlete — doing an hour’s worth of jogging, yoga, barre, or mixed cardio with light weight training — there’s no need to worry about packing in extra protein at all. Just make sure to get protein at every meal, with a little more in the evening than during the day.

The takeaway: for most people, they should include protein in every meal, and shouldn’t worry about over-thinking their post-workout protein. Either way, there’s room for an entirely food-based approach to meeting protein needs, including seafood and plant-based protein.

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Anne Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND

Myth: You can eat as much fresh fruit as you want because it is healthy.

Yes fruit is healthy because it is a nutrient dense food that is low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals. But fruit has sugar in it and can add excess calories when eating too much. 2-3 fist size servings a day is recommended.

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Nina Crowley, PhD, RDN, LD ~ Bariatric Surgery Dietitian Read Bio

Myth: Weight Loss Surgery is the Easy Way Out

Each year I practice as a dietitian working with weight loss surgery patients, I find it to be more and more untrue. Surgery is a life changing journey, and patients who keep weight off long term struggle daily to remain successful. Early on post-operatively, weight loss is rapid, and this is the critical time to initiate behavior changes, so that when the weight loss slows, you have started the process of making behavior changes automatic. The more entrenched these changes are into your daily life, the better you will be able to defend your weight, and lower the risk of regain. I am impressed every day at how hard my patients work to make permanent lifestyle changes!

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Monica Pelle, RD, CPT Read Bio

Myth: What you eat before and after exercise doesn’t determine workout results.

As a registered dietitian and personal trainer, I see first-hand that most people do not connect the importance of proper nutrition & hydration with best workout results. I teach all my clients how to maximize their exercise efforts with pre and post workout nutrition. This applies to everyone, no matter what level of exerciser you are.

The right workout nutrition is very important, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to fit in. With a little preparation and planning, optimum results can be yours. Just remember that eating and exercise go hand-in-hand. Timing and type of food are crucial. The BIG picture goals are to satisfy hunger, fuel workouts, and aid in recovery. For detailed guidelines on timing and types of foods, check out my blog post “Best Advice for Eating Before & After Exercise.”

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Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition Read Bio

Myth: Snacks are required for good health and weight control.

Truth: You have probably heard that snacking or eating several mini meals boosts metabolic rate. But science doesn’t show that eating often makes a difference over the course of a day. When 24-hour metabolic rate is measured in a lab, the overall rate is similar when identical food is eaten during few or many occasions. In fact, for many people, snacking brings extra pounds because it means more opportunities to consume too many calories. The results are mixed when researchers look at cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Some studies find that frequent eaters have healthier levels. Others find that cholesterol and blood sugar levels aren’t affected by the number of times a person eats.

What to do: The quality of your snack is far more important to your overall nutrition and health than the number of snacks you eat. If you choose to snack, pick foods that you aren’t eating enough of. For most people that means vegetables, fruits and more vegetables. I recommend that my clients create a written snack list – say 5 – 10 snacks that they know they’ll enjoy and are able to keep on hand. Having a list will free you of the mental energy of weighing your options everyday. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Low fat cottage cheese and fruit
  • Raw veggies and hummus
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Portabello pizza: Fill the cavity of a large portabello mushroom with jarred spaghetti sauce, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of oregano. Then bake.
  • Any fresh, frozen or canned fruit without added sugar
  • Edamame beans
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Diana Wind, RDN-Chef Read Bio

Myth: $$$ I Can’t Afford to Eat Healthy

I’ve actually written and had articles published about this myth. Do your own cost check of foods to prove that this simply is NOT TRUE. This myth is an excuse often used to justify eating poorly. You can eat healthy on a budget!

Beans – full of fiber and nutrition are one of the cheapest protein-rich foods on the planet only 69 cents a can, which is less than 5 cents an ounce!

Chicken – is another lean protein that is always available on sale. Look for Perdue oven stuffer roaster promotions for .99 cents a pound! A 6 lb. roaster can generously feed 4 people for only $1.50

Whole grains – such as brown rice can be bought for as cheap as white rice. One ounce of uncooked rice is less than 5 cents per ounce!

Water – FREE from the tap. And to drink two, 8 oz glasses of milk per day only costs 25 cents per 8 oz glass when you purchase milk by the gallon @$3.49/gallon.

Veggies – are available in steamer bags now for low cost specials such as four, 12oz bags of broccoli for $5 bucks. Only $1.25 for 12 ounces, which is only 10 cents per ounce.

Bottom line is you can have a delicious and nutritious family meal for less than ½ the price of eating out fast food! Eat a healthy dinner meal for only a few dollars pp: $2.15 (~414 calories) versus fast foods for $7.57 (~860+ calories) – more than double the calories! Fast food commercials and advertising is tempting Americans on every corner. People think it’s cheaper, but if you take a minute to investigate: you will discover that your family will get too much of everything: higher cost, calories, fat, sugar and sodium. You can’t afford not to eat healthy!

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Angie Dye, MS, RDN, LDN Read Bio

Myth: If I restrict my calories at breakfast and lunch, I can eat whatever I want at dinner and still lose weight.

Many of my clients have tried this approach before coming to see me, and cannot understand why they are not achieving their weight loss goals. By using principals of Intuitive Eating, I help my clients to learn to satisfy their hunger throughout the day, instead of only at night. This usually promotes a greater satisfaction with food, which in turn leads to less cravings, less overeating and a gradual weight loss, if needed.

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Bridget Swinney, MS, RDN, LD Read Bio

Myth: When you are pregnant, you should eat for two.

This is one of those long-standing myths that won’t go away. It’s true that some of your nutrient needs double when you’re pregnant, but calorie needs only increase by around 400 calories per day–at the very most. Women who start their pregnancy overweight, need even fewer calories. During the first trimester, you really don’t need additional calories–but you do need quality nutrition in every bite! (Another myth is that every nutrient in the amount you need is in your prenatal vitamin–NOT!)

To sum up what I recommend for moms-to-be from my book Eating Expectantly:
1. Eat Clean–avoid processed foods as much as you can and choose organic when it makes sense.
2. Eat a variety–it’s the spice of life and the key to a well-rounded diet!
3. Fill half your plate with veggies & fruits–mostly non-starchy.
4. Eat a variety of protein–including eggs, lean beef, lean pork, fish, chicken etc. Also have vegetarian meals regularly.
5. Keep moving–it can help with weight gain, prevent gestational diabetes and also improve your mood 🙂

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Diane Boyd, MBA, RD, LDN Read Bio

Myth: It’s important to fast periodically or use a dietary cleanse to remove toxins.

Fact: As a registered dietitian, I make evidence based recommendations and there is clearly NO scientific evidence that dietary cleanses do any of the things they promise, including ridding the body of toxins, promoting weight loss, increasing mental clarity or improving sex drive. Here is my rebuttal to those supporting and/or taking a soft approach to the dietary cleanse:

• It is not scientifically based.
Anyone who has studied the human body knows it rids itself of toxins via the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. These organs do this daily, not just on a whim! The idea that we need to buy a book or expensive juice drinks to do this seems more like a marketing ploy than anything more substantial.

• The idea of promoting it because it motivates dieters with an early rapid weight loss is bogus. Let’s be honest-you are simply losing water weight!
It is important to distinguish between weight and body composition and look beyond a number on the scale. Effective weight loss is loss of excess body fat. A cleanse results in mostly a loss of water and is a false sense of weight loss. Water weight loss is temporary! The goal of weight loss should be permanent.

• The body’s response to a severe lack of food is hormonally controlled and there are unintended consequences. These are:

You will likely not feel like exercising because liver and muscle glycogen (the bodies preferred energy sources) are reduced and can be completely depleted within 12 to 18 hours after beginning a fast or extremely low calorie diet. Low glycogen stores can negatively effect your ability to exercise.
You will begin to breakdown muscle to be used as source of glucose. Yes, I know you think you have plenty of fat and your body should use it, not muscle. Your muscles can use fat stores for energy, but your central nervous system cannot. Therefore, muscle is used for energy. Yikes!!! A good weight loss plan should preserve muscle, not break it down.

Your metabolic rate plummets. Furthermore your the body maintains this lower metabolic rate for up to 2 weeks after the low calorie diet ends. For this reason the low calorie diet and cleanse can result in eventual weight gain. To make matters worse, some individuals tend to regain weight as fat, not muscle, resulting in an overall increase in body fat.

In my opinion, there is plenty of illogical thinking going on. If dietary cleanses are the rage, does that just underscore the fact that we have lost perspective on the subject of weight loss? Are we listening to the marketers at the exclustion of the health experts? You can continue to expect me to encourage weight loss and maintenance through long term sensible dietary changes and moderate daily exercise.

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Heather Mason, MS, RD Read Bio

Myth: Brown sugar is healthier for you than white sugar

Truth: The brown sugar sold at grocery stores is actually white granulated sugar with added molasses. Brown sugar contains the same amount of calories and sugar as white sugar. Similarly, there are no real health benefits of using maple syrup or honey instead of white sugar. Honey is useful for soothing a sore throat, but that’s another topic. Brown sugar, pure maple syrup, and honey do contain trace amounts of minerals. Unless you are downing a whole cup of maple syrup or honey (which I don’t recommend) the minerals are insignificant.

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Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD Read Bio

Myth: People who are lactose intolerant shouldn’t eat cheese.

Lactose, also known as milk sugar, is hard for some people to digest. Consuming it can result in abdominal pain and digestive distress. Luckily, some milk products, including many cheeses, are actually very low in lactose, and needn’t be avoided by people with lactose intolerance. Cheesemaking involves separating the liquidy whey from the cheese curds, and almost all the lactose in the milk is removed along with it. Aging the cheese further reduces its lactose content, so aged cheeses such as cheddar and Swiss are good choices. On the other hand, un-aged, “wet” cheeses such as cottage cheese and ricotta still retain a fair amount of lactose. Tip: If the nutrition facts panel on a cheese package says “0” on the sugars line, one portion of that cheese (usually one ounce) is virtually lactose-free.

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Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN Read Bio

Myth: Eating fat makes you fat.

Not true! I discuss this with almost every client of mine. The low-fat/fat-free trend in the 80s and 90s still infiltrates the doctrine of so many dieters. But, when we cut fat too low, we can starve our bodies’ cells and deplete them of essential fats that are required for healthy immune function, a hot metabolism, and steady energy. Balancing your total caloric intake and filling up on healthy, natural fats, like olive oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocado, and full-fat organic dairy can support healthy weight loss and a healthy immune system!

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Abigail Dougherty, RDN Read Bio

Myth: One nutrition myth that people often have is that if a person is thin, that automatically means they are healthy.

This one is tough because it is engraved in our heads and in our eyes that what you see is what you get in regards to appearance, weight and health but we were not all created to be a size 2 or even close to that. We were all created in different shapes, frames and sizes and not meant to look the same. My goal is to teach people to eat more fruits and veggies, focus on the healthier foods and move in a fun way and not focus solely on the weight. I have had many clients that are not feeding their bodies enough food and their low weight is actually a result of not getting enough nutrition! I think we need to go easier on ourselves and remember that maybe the ultimate goal should be to enjoy life and feel fabulous eating a variety of foods instead of focusing on a specific weight (Dietitian steps off of soapbox)!

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Megan Roosevelt, RD, and Founder of Healthy Grocery Girl Read Bio

Myth: You cannot consume adequate protein on a vegan, vegetarian or plant-based diet

Truth: It is possible to consume an adequate amount of protein & meet your personal protein needs with a vegan, vegetarian or plant-based diet! Meeting with a Registered Dietitian is an excellent way to learn how many grams of protein your body personally needs per day & to learn about protein packed plant-based food options. For example; quinoa, lentils, legumes, hemp seeds, nuts & nut butters, seeds & seed butters and many other plant-based foods contain protein.

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Melissa R. Burton, RD, CDN Read Bio

The Myth I like to dispel is about sugar.

People don’t often know that there’s a difference between naturally occurring sugars found in milk and fruits and added sugars in foods (these do NOT appear naturally in food). Limiting ADDED sugar in one’s intake is something we should all strive to do but limiting fruits because they “have too much sugar” is ridiculous. The amount of sugar associated with fruits is minuscule compared to the amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber that “nature’s candy” provides.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post, we hope that it was of some value for you and that you learned something you didn’t know before. We also want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the experts that contributed in this roundup, it was an absolute pleasure speaking with all of you and I know that your contribution will benefit everyone that reads it.

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1 Comment

  1. Quinton Hamp

    October 21, 2015 - 12:25 am

    Incredible round up. I find it awesome how much awareness there is now that fat is “good”. I also appreciated the discussions around carbs. I tend to favor low carb diets for weight loss… and that can’t be the healthiest way to do it.

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