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21 Nutrition Myths Debunked

Myths and facts about nutrition are often hard to discern from one another as misinformation is frighteningly common, especially online. No doubt you’ll have heard of some of the more common myths we seek to debunk on our list, whilst others may be news to you.

Regardless, you need to be aware of the facts when it comes to nutrition myths and truths.

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Now let’s get these nutrition myths debunked!

Common Nutrition Myths Debunked

Myth #1 - Snacking is Bad For You

Diet myths such as this are a common misconception, as the idea of snacking is often conflated with eating junk food. As the two tend to go hand in hand, this nutrition myth is responsible for swaying people away from the possibility of healthy snacking.

Treating healthier snack foods like nuts or breakfast bars like you would, say, a packet of crisps can yield remarkable benefits.

When it comes to losing weight, cravings can often get the better of us. it’s important to subsidise these intense urges with healthier alternatives; in other words, it’s not the snacking that’s unhealthy, it’s the snack!

Of course, there’s a lot of choice when it comes down to what you should be snacking on. Ideally, the snacks you choose should be filling enough to tide you over until your next meal and prevent you from reverting to junk food.

You want to be looking for healthy carb options to give you energy, a few of which are:

  • Whole grain cereal
  • Rice cakes
  • Raw vegetables

Add some protein snacks to your mix to fill you up and help with muscle recovery, such as:

Try to overhaul your snacking diet to maintain consistently healthy daily eating habits and help yourself achieve your fitness goals, and avoid diet myths like this one.

Myth #2 - Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

nutrition facts and myths

While it’s important to fuel your body for a busy day, you don’t always need to bend your schedule around having a fulfilling breakfast.

One of the benefits of actually totally ignoring your breakfast before a morning workout is that you experience the fat-burning effects of intermittent fasting. As you’ve not eaten in some time since you’ve been asleep, your body will be naturally low on fuel.

You might think this is a bad thing, at least at first. How could you get through your workout or even your day without fuelling up?

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Well, since it’s already low on energy due to a lack of glucose from food, your body will draw power from body fat by burning that instead.

This means you’ll be burning more fat away passively, resulting in accelerated weight loss. Even if you totally substitute breakfast for a small snack, you’ll still be able to burn a little fat and manage your day-to-day at least until lunchtime. 

The idea that you need to eat a huge breakfast to kickstart your day not only isn’t true, but can actually often result in the opposite effect.

Eating too much at once can leave you feeling groggy and sapped of energy as your body concentrates on digestion, leaving you with little fuel to continue your day. Overall, it’s best to find a balance, whether you skip breakfast entirely and catch up at lunch or whether you have a healthy, measured meal in the morning.

Finding the difference between nutrition myths and truths such as this one can impact your entire day, so be sure to stay sharp.

Myth #3 - You Need to Totally Cut Out Your Favourite Foods to Lose Weight

This is among the top nutrition myths as it perpetuates the idea that losing weight and dieting in general has to be a miserable process- it doesn't!

It’s often the case that your favourite food may not exactly be a beacon of all things healthy, and that’s okay.

Having a balanced diet means enjoying foods with higher levels of fat and sugar sometimes, and many people’s understanding of strict diets is that you need to totally remove these foods from your new regime all of the time.

 

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This simply isn’t the case; you just need to enjoy things in measured portions. Just because your favourite food doesn’t exactly fit into the parameters of your weight loss plan doesn’t necessarily mean you should totally cut them out.

Enjoying the process is key to success when it comes to dieting, so it’s okay to reward yourself after a tough week to break the rules a little as long as you don’t go overboard. 

Giving yourself this light at the end of the tunnel style incentive can actually improve the odds of success with your diet as it helps you to stay motivated and stay on top.

Nutrition myths like this one could make the dieting process joyless if they were to be believed, so keep aware.

Myth #4 - Eating Smaller Meals More Frequently Will Help You Lose Weight

There are a lot of benefits to adopting this style of eating, but weight loss certainly isn’t one of them. 

By eating this way, you’ll find that your appetite will become more stable, experiencing less drastic sensations of being hungry or full. 

One of the most common nutrition myths is that a positive byproduct of this eating method is a more potent metabolism, but this just isn't the case.

In fact, there’s no difference between splitting your daily calorie intake between 3 meals and 6 meals, so dispersing your food across the day just comes down to your preferences when it comes to appetite management. 

Ultimately, losing and maintaining weight loss all comes down to calorie intake. If you decide to eat smaller portions more often but your calorie intake is actually higher than it would be if you ate less frequently, then you’ll still be looking at weight gain.

So, the takeaway from common nutrition myths such as this is that you could take up this method to aid your cravings and balance your appetite, but don’t expect simply spacing out your portions to help you lose weight alone.

Myth #5 - Fruits Can be Unhealthy Because of Their Sugar Count

Whilst it’s true that many fruits can be relatively high in their sugar count, the benefits they offer far outweigh the drawbacks.

After wading through the digital swamp of nutrition myths and facts, you’ll find that whole fruits can be rich in a variety of nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Soluble Fibre
  • Folate

Consistently incorporating fruit into your daily diet can reap serious rewards in the long run. For example, studies have shown that increased consumption of fruits can result in a reduced risk of heart disease and strokes. 

When put into perspective, long-term benefits like this make a little bit of sugar worthwhile.

With that said, it’s important not to go overboard with your fruit intake. Sure, your 5-a-day is great, but any more than that could result in excessive sugar consumption, especially when considering other food items you’ll have throughout the day that already contain a high sugar concentration.

Overall, this nutrition myth is false- but try to adhere to a reasonable level of daily sugar consumption, otherwise your dentist could have their hands full.

Myth #6 - White Potatoes are an Unhealthy Carb Choice.

nutrition facts and myths

White potatoes are found absolutely everywhere- it seems every restaurant in the world serves them in one form or another, whether it be french fries, roast potatoes or waffles.

What matters when it comes to the classic white potato is how it’s cooked.

There are some unhealthy versions of this carb, sure. If a spud is deep fat fried into a bowl of greasy chips, then it’s safe to assume that it’s pretty unhealthy. 

Your best bet is to bake a potato, which results in less nutrients lost overall than other methods of potato preparation. Alternatively, steaming a potato is pretty much on par in terms of nutrient retention.

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The problem is that unhealthier forms of this carb are popularised, easy to get hold of and, most importantly, tasty! This means they’re hard to avoid and resist, but if you can help it you should always go for the healthier choice and dispel myths of nutrition like this one.

Myth #7 - Vegan Diets Don’t Have Enough Protein

This is one of the biggest nutrition myths. Despite what this idea may perpetuate, proteins can be found in a variety of foods, not just in meats or other non-vegan options.

There are actually plenty of great vegan protein sources, such as:

  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts

More specifically, veggies like broccoli and spinach are extremely high in protein, which is why they’re so prolific in the diets of bodybuilders. 

Vegans aren’t limited to eating beans and greens exclusively for their protein sources, though. You can find vegan protein powders online to diversify your intake, creating flavoursome shakes to help your muscles strengthen and recover. 

To roundup, vegan diets have plenty of protein from both natural and manmade sources.

Myth #8 - Zero Fat Options are Healthy For You

Sure, on paper a zero fat diet sounds great, right? This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Fat is an essential component to a healthy, well-rounded diet that you absolutely need. The idea with this nutrition myth is that with non-fat substitutes, you’ll actually be healthier due to the removal of excess fat from your foods.

In fact, these alternatives often contain harmful additives like:

  • Salt
  • Sugar 
  • Flavouring chemicals 

These actually make the non-fat version of a food product less healthy than the natural version!

There’s even evidence to suggest that zero fat foods make you hungrier sooner after eating. This is because your blood sugar levels are dependent on fat; without it, they deplete far sooner, leaving you feeling hungry and therefore eating and consuming more calories than you would have without the zero fat alternative.

The domino effect here backfires on this nutrition myth, rendering it counterproductive to the intended goal of losing weight. 

Fat is important because it satiates you and creates essential fatty acids that your body can’t manufacture, which then helps absorb vitamins.

Myth #9 - Going Vegan is a Guaranteed Method for Losing Weight

While it’s true that a lot of vegan food choices are generally lower in calories than carnivorous foods, this still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll lose weight from exclusively eating vegan-style. 

Losing weight is all about burning fat and entering a calorie deficit.

In other words, it doesn't matter how much you change up what you eat so long as the calorie count changes alongside the contents of your plate. 

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To debunk this myth completely, no diet guarantees weight loss; success depends on your discipline and commitment as well as your understanding of the diet you’re undertaking.

You need to know what nutrients you’re getting daily and, most importantly, how many calories you’re consuming- keeping these aspects controlled and balanced is the key to losing weight, a dieting style won’t do all the work for you.

Nutrition myths, true or false, right or wrong, need to be clarified to prevent you from rapidly changing your diet to something drastically different, so keep this in mind before switching up your lifestyle.

Myth #10 - You Shouldn’t Bother with Food Supplements

Myths about nutrition such as this are just plain old nonsense. Food supplements have been scientifically proven to enhance people’s diets for a litany of reasons.

Most commonly, food supplements are associated with the practice of bodybuilding and gaining muscle mass. Protein powders can be served in all sorts of forms across gyms and fitness cafes wherever you are, be it:

  • A protein pancake 
  • A classic protein shake
  • A smoothie blend

As a food supplement, the powder provides some of the nutritional value found in everyday foods, just without the same taste! Each bag of protein powder varies in the numerical values of the nutrients within, so you should take a look at the label and see the ingredients for yourself.

By adding more nutrients to your body by topping up on a supplement between meals, you’re putting yourself on a fast track to achieving your fitness goals, despite what many myths about nutrition would suggest. Enhancing your diet is the key to unlocking your potential, and food supplements are a great way to go about it.

Myth #11 - Strictly Abiding by an Extremely Low-Calorie Diet is the Only Way to Lose Weight

Firstly, everyone has a unique definition of what constitutes a ‘low calorie diet’. If you’re used to consuming large amounts of food per day, say 4000 calories, then a 2500 calorie diet may be classed as low, whereas for somebody else this could be an increase.

When it comes to nutrition facts and myths, sometimes the myth in question may be closer to fact for some than it is for others, such is the case here.

You need to find a calorie deficit that’s manageable for you, and not abide by a universal calorie guide, as everyone has different eating tendencies and metabolisms.

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Secondly, there are more supporting methods to losing weight that can help accelerate your progress, not just starving yourself with a harsh diet.

Consuming fewer calories than you burn is of course a vital component to losing weight, but upping the exercise in your life will help the process greatly.

By performing intense fitness feats, you’ll burn fat and lose weight alongside your diet, meaning you could take a less harsh dieting route and subsidise the added calories with harder work on the gym floor.

It’s also been proven that while extremely low-calorie diets can lead to short term weight loss, they’re not sustainable over longer periods of time, resulting in many who undertake this dieting style eventually putting the weight back on.

This nutrition myth is harmful as it can lead you to become malnourished and unhappy in a diet that’s frankly not possible to maintain.

Myth #12 - Superfoods Aren’t Very Beneficial

There’s no such thing as ‘superfoods’- not really, anyway.

The term is marketing jargon for food that’s supposedly packed with nutrients and vitamins whilst also containing minimal calories.

The very fact that these foods are marketed as miracle workers detracts from the actual health benefits they offer, and lead many to believe the nutrition myth that they’re highly overrated.

They aren’t.

Generally speaking, the nutrients within most superfoods or superfruits help your immune system more effectively combat contagious diseases. Superfoods are also high in antioxidants, which help prevent various types of cancer and heart disease.

Many superfoods are high in fibre too- this promotes healthy digestion and can even help prevent diabetes. 

Despite this, it’s agreed that too many superfoods can be harmful by causing imbalance in your antioxidants. 

#13 - Myth: You Need Additional Calcium Supplements to Keep Your Bones Healthy

If you have a healthy, balanced diet and regularly consume calcium products then you don’t need calcium supplements- in fact, it may even be harmful for you to take them.

These supplements can actually come with a whole host of side effects. Even if you take the regular suggested dose, you can become subject to bloating and constipation. 

High doses of calcium supplements can even cause kidney stones in some cases! This, on top of a balanced diet is simply too much for anyone to take. If you feel as if your diet is generally low in things like:

  • Milk
  • Cheese 
  • Other sources of calcium

Then maybe you should consider investing in these supplements.

However, they are by no means a must-have to keep your bones healthy- you can do that all on your own with a steady diet.

Getting the top nutrition myths debunked is important in maintaining your health, as you could actually be causing yourself harm.

Myth #14 - Coffee is Actually Really Unhealthy For You

Coffee on its own isn’t the issue here; in fact, it’s proven to have some great health benefits that we’ll get into.

The main issue derives from the excessive consumption of caffeine, which can have negative health effects. Too much caffeine has been linked to anxiety, sleeplessness and migraines. 

This isn’t made any better by the fact that caffeine is addictive and can stay with you as something habitual. Once you’re hooked, you could be suffering from one of these issues and making them worse by the day.

This is why it’s important to control your caffeine intake levels- for example, only having a couple of cups of coffee a day at maximum and being aware of any other products you ingest that may contain caffeine. 

Coffee in moderation has a plethora of health benefits, one of which being that it’s linked to a lower risk of contracting illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and depression. 

To ensure you get diet myths debunked, you should drink coffee! It’s healthier than you might have thought, but just keep it in moderation.

Myth #15 - Salt is Unhealthy For You and You Should Cut Down on Using it

top nutrition myths

Whilst excessive consumption of salt can possibly result in health complications, salt alone can actually be a healthy addition to your daily diet.

Without it, you could be suffering from minor health issues like headaches, muscle cramps and a lack of hydration.

Upon finding the recommended daily amount (anywhere between 1.5 and 2.3 grams), you could take advantage of improved hydration. Your body needs a balance of both sodium and potassium to retain the water in your body for longer, and natural sea salt contains both of these.

Salt also boasts good vascular health, and yields electrolytes that help prevent muscle cramps. 

Getting these diet myths busted will allow you to gain health benefits from a variety of food sources and types, rather than cutting out or cutting down on things like salt.

Myth #16 - Losing Weight is Simple

This is among the biggest nutrition myths of them all.

Losing weight, no matter how much, is one of the most difficult things an individual can do. There are so many factors that go into the process; losing weight is a plate-spinning exercise of balancing calorie deficits with schedules, be they:

  • Sleep
  • Work 
  • Life in general

Resisting the temptation of eating junk food and bingeing takeaways is challenging enough, but maintaining a fitness-oriented lifestyle is extremely difficult. You need to find the time in your day to burn calories through cardio or working out on top of being disciplined with your diet.

Anyone who perpetuates the myth that losing weight is ‘simple’ has never seriously attempted the feat, so those who dare to try should be commended, as they’re getting diet myths busted.

Myth #17 - All Foods High in Cholesterol Should be Avoided

top nutrition myths

Whilst it’s true that you should be aware of foods with high cholesterol levels and make efforts to measure your intake, totally avoiding these foods could mean you’re losing out on important nutrients. 

Myths about diet such as this will limit your food intake drastically, so it’s important that they’re dispelled. 

For example, all red meats are typically high in cholesterol. Generally speaking, the higher the calorie count of a food, the higher the levels of cholesterol, so this isn’t as severe in leaner meats.

Nevertheless, you'd be missing out on huge benefits provided by these foods if you cut them out of your diet entirely purely due to the high cholesterol factor, such as:

  • The plentiful amount of iron that various red meats can provide, helping your body with growth and development 

  • Red meats help your body to create useful protein cells like myoglobin.

  • Red meats are also high in vitamin B12, which helps your body to maintain red blood cells. 

  • Red meats are chock full of zinc and protein- the former helps you to build and keep a strong immune system, and the latter will help to grow and repair muscle tissue.

In short, this nutrition myth is muddled; you shouldn’t cut out high cholesterol foods, but nor should you eat them excessively.

Get these diet myths debunked and find a balance in your diet- enjoy a good steak every once in a while, it won’t bite!

Myth #18 - Detoxing Regularly is a Necessity

Among the most common diet myths, this notion perpetuates the idea that you need to expunge certain toxins in your body to stay healthy, when this just isn't the case.

Manually detoxing isn’t in fact a necessity as your body will remove toxins all on its own every day.

Your liver and lungs play a key role in this process, with the liver filtering your bloodstream and your lungs filtering toxins from oxygen.

Releasing sweat will also provide natural detoxing, as well as going to the toilet.

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If you want to manually detox, that’s great! You just need to be careful how you go about it. Most of the detox ‘diets’ out there will just have you starving yourself and losing water weight in the short term- they aren’t long term solutions to weight-related issues, and often cause more harm than good.

Ensure that you’re still maintaining a steady calorie count with a variety of food types when you undertake a detox.

Myth #19 - All Smoothies are Good For You

Smoothies and shakes are a common option for dieters, ‘detoxers’ and everyone in between- but they’re not always a healthy choice.

The nutritional value of any given smoothie of course depends on what it consists of. Whilst some certainly can be healthy, they’re usually the ones that don’t taste so great.

People tend to create blends of sweet fruits like:

  • bananas
  • strawberries 
  • grapes 

Together, these can actually result in a smoothie that’s chock full of sugar. All natural fruits contain relatively high levels of sugar anyway, so when you combine them, you’ve got yourself a seriously sweet concoction. 

Having these smoothies in addition to a relatively fattening or even somewhat balanced diet can tip your daily sugar count over the edge, and even result in health or dental complications down the line. 

Keep an eye on the nutritional values of smoothie recipes you come across, and make sure you’re choosing drinks with only 1 or 2 fruits inside to stay on the safe side to avoid common diet myths like this one.

Myth #20 - Pre-Workout Offers No Benefits and is Dangerous

There are a lot of different components that go into making pre-workouts, and this varies brand to brand as each product can serve a different end purpose. 

Whilst using this supplement in excess can certainly prove dangerous due to potentially overdosing on caffeine (possibly resulting in irregular heart beating and sleeplessness), taking it in moderation is generally safe unless you’re allergy-prone to any ingredients within.

The myth of danger surrounding substances like pre-workouts mainly stem from the unnatural sensation associated with the consumption of them.  

This is due to the ingredient, beta-alanine. This amino acid helps to prevent lactic acid from appearing in your muscles, meaning you can work out harder for longer. This effect comes with a kind of static, itching sensation beneath the skin, which can be uncomfortable but it’s ultimately nothing to worry about.

One of the biggest diet myths is that pre-workouts offer no real benefits- this is also untrue.

Many pre-workout formulas include BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), which aid in muscle growth and reduce pain after a workout, enabling you to put your body back to work much sooner.

This means you don’t have to take a sizable break before continuing your exercise regime, allowing you to potentially fast-track your gains and avoid one of the top nutrition myths. 

True or false, it doesn’t matter which way the myth may lean, you need to know the absolute facts.

Myth #21 - Creatine Can Cause and Accelerate Hair Loss

This nutrition myth is a tricky one; in short, the jury’s still out.

Whilst there’s no definitive evidence to suggest that creatine does cause hair loss, there also isn’t definitive evidence to suggest that it doesn’t.

Let’s break down both sides.

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Some have suggested that creatine usage increases the body’s production of a hormone known as DHT which speeds up the cycle of growth in hair follicles, causing them to fall out faster; but this research isn’t concrete.

Others argue that creatine has been shown to rebuild and strengthen hair structure, even amongst damaged hair that’s been bleached.

The bottom line is that no one can say for sure what the right answer is here, so the confidence that this myth seems to have in its own hypothesis is misplaced at best.

FAQ’s

What are Myths of Nutrition?

A nutrition myth is a falsehood, rumour or point of conjecture about anything involved with nutrition. This misinformation could be to do with particular types of food or drink, dieting style or even your general health.

Whilst many of the rumours you wade through online are just slightly wrong or misleading when taken as fact, there are some myths about diet that can be genuinely harmful.

When it comes to changing your nutritional lifestyle, you need the cold hard facts on your side. As much as you can, try and ensure that what you’re reading is verified by reliable sources, since a harsh change in the wrong direction of diet can result in degrading health conditions.

Not only this, but you could be working hard for nothing. If you were to buy into misinformation about losing weight for example, then at best you could be wasting your time, at worst you could actually be gaining weight without realising.  

You simply need to know the difference between nutrition myths and facts to thrive in your diet. 

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What is a Non-Nutritive Component of a Diet?

There are thousands upon thousands of non-nutritive components of foods out there.

They consist of substances that don’t grant you energy or contain calories, such as fibre, waters and flavours. 

Despite not offering any nutrients, they are still of vital importance to your daily diet. For example, fibre increases the bulkiness of foods and makes what you eat more satiating, whilst also assisting with your digestion and constipation.

Water, of course, keeps you hydrated and lubricated and so much more. This non-nutritive component actually takes up 90% of the volume of your blood, helping to transport nutrients to your cells as well as keeping your temperature in check.

Just because something is non-nutritive, doesn't mean it’s non-essential.

How is Nutrition Different from Food?

Food is what we eat to give us energy and generally keep us alive and well. Nutrients are contained within the food, and are metabolised by the body to give it all the substances it needs to stay up and running. 

Whilst the two concepts are of course linked, their separation is key to understanding how to achieve a balanced diet that’s in line with your fitness goals.

If you need certain nutrients only found in certain foods, you need to review the food source and see if it’s compatible with your current diet, if not then you can find the same nutritional value elsewhere in another food or supplement.

Nutrition facts and myths often boil down to issues about both food and nutritional value, so it’s key to be clued up on both sides. 

Before You Go!

We hope we’ve rescued you from the pitfalls of the biggest nutrition myths and prevented you from falling into any more. It's important to stay sharp and vigilant online, as misinformation is rife everywhere, not just in the fitness world.

If you’re clued up on health and fitness and think you can help others by separating myths and facts about nutrition for a living, you should take a look at our full course prospectus and consider qualifying yourself or gaining additional qualifications as a personal trainer. 

Written by Harry Griffiths

Freelance Fitness Writer & Enthusiast

Harry is a freelance article writer for Origym. With a degree in creative writing at his back, he writes about all things fitness for our company blog, covering everything from exercise techniques to product reviews. A passionate weight lifter, Harry’s commitments to fitness
and wellbeing extend from behind the keyboard all the way to the gym floor.

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