5 Facts About Nutrition You Need to Forget
- Written By:Jenna Werner, RD
As a registered dietitian my duty is to help you, the reader, and anyone interested in learning about nutrition, take complicated scientific information, science-based evidence, research, data, chemicals, molecules and food science and turn it into digestible, easy to understand information for you to apply. That by itself is pretty complicated. Now, with social media being the primary space where people receive their “nutrition” knowledge, and everyone being so passionate about the “facts” they are sharing, it can be very difficult to sift through the information and find the true facts.
There is no lack of information out there, but there is a lack of good information out there. Information that is constantly being discussed and debated, mostly by those that do not have the education to do either. Thus, causing more confusion than ever.
Simply put, I want you to remember this, your DNA is unique to you and therefore, so is your nutrition. Nutrition is not black and white, in fact, it is more like 50(+) shades of grey. It is a young science in the grand scheme of sciences that is ever changing.
Focus on what works for you. What you will consistently do will create change. To start, focus on quality nutritious foods, eating in balance and portion, listening to your body by eating when hungry, stopping when full – understanding what your needs are and learning to enjoy your foods along the way. But to have some fun – lets discuss some of my favorite nutrition “facts” and why you need to forget them.
1. No eating after 7pm.
Guess what, an apple has the same number of calories in it at 11am as it does at 8pm. This is a fact. However, the notion that eating after a certain time of day is bad for you – is not only a rule you need to forget, it is for sure not a blanket statement that can cover everyone’s needs. The key here is not necessarily when you are eating but in fact what you are eating and how much of it. I will say this a few times in this article, but the simple truth is (for the most part – outliers do exist) if you are trying to lose weight you must be eating in a calorie deficit. If you are eating within your designated needs recommended to you by a registered dietitian and/or health professional, it really doesn’t matter what time you are eating, what you are eating at that time matters more. So, this is not permission to have a free for all at night time, but it is permission that if your schedule designates that you can’t eat dinner until after 7pm and you are within your daily needs, please don’t stress.
2. To lose weight you need to eat six small meals per day
You absolutely can eat six small meals per day, but you absolutely do not need to in order to lose weight. This as usual, is truly based on the individual. The only way to achieve a goal is to have a plan that you are able to stick to. For some that may mean spreading out your calories in six small meals, for others it could be a combination of meals and snacks. As long as you are within your designated recommendations and you adhere to them, you are likely to achieve your goals.
Whichever method you deem best for you, you first must understand what your needs are, then you can divide them by however many meals or meals plus snacks you want to eat to reach those numbers. The other reason this fact is so fun is because unless you are aware of what a “small meal” contains, it is very possible that you could significantly over eat using this “weight loss” method.
3. Eat less and move more to create weight loss.
But what is less and what is more? This one is so complicated. The human body is incredibly complex and so is weight loss. I hear so many people say that you simply have to “eat less and move more,” but sadly, that is not necessarily the case. Your hormones, genetics, lifestyle, diet history and therefore metabolism play a major role in weight loss, alongside the quantity and quality of your food intake and movement.
Depending on the individual, often times in my practice I find myself encouraging my clients to in fact eat more, not less, to stimulate a metabolic response and assist with weight loss. In our world right now so many people have been severely undereating for years on end creating damage to their metabolisms and hormones because of this terrible advice. Many factors are involved in finding a sustainable, healthy weight loss method right for an individual – eating right and involving exercise is vital to weight loss success, but simply stating that the solution is only to eat less food and create more sweat is really unfair.
4. To lose weight – 1,200 calories is the magic number.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that you will not lose weight by eating 1,200 calories, simply because I do not know the specific needs of everyone reading this article. On the flip side, I will also not tell you that this is for sure not your magic number for the same exact reason. Anyone that doesn’t know you, your diet and nutrition history, your previous medical history, your activities of daily living and your exercise habits, cannot and I repeat, cannot give you a recommendation of how many calories you need to eat to lose weight.
There is a formula, in fact there are several formulas that are used and calculated to find out what your number is and, spoiler alert, it is different for every person. To lose weight, as mentioned before, you need to eat in a calorie deficit. However, a calorie deficit for you could be 1,800 calories, or it could be more, or even less, but it is specific to you. So, I don’t know who started this ugly little lie that everyone should eat 1,200 calories per day to drop weight, but unfortunately this is a big myth and if you are not careful could really impact your metabolism and hormone health in a negative way.
5. Carbs will make you fat.
This by far is my favorite one. As a registered dietitian and self-proclaimed food lover, the foods I love include carbohydrates. It actually hurts me to hear people talk this way about this beautiful MACROnutrient. (Macro = big by the way – hinting to the fact that carbohydrates are intended to be at the very least, a part of your diet.) Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source, not just for fitness and movement purposes but also for your brain, to learn and to absorb information. In addition, carbohydrates, specifically higher fiber carbohydrates, play huge roles in our digestive health.
But you are right, not all carbs are created equal and portions matter. Too many carbs over time (i.e. creating a calorie surplus) can cause weight gain. The reality here is that, an excess of any food group or food or simply put an excess of your caloric needs, can cause weight gain. At any time if you eat more than your body needs there is an opportunity for storage of excess. As it pertains to carbohydrates, aim to choose higher quality, higher fiber carbs and keep your focus on the portion you consume in addition to what else you eat with them.