Saturated fat raises your cholesterol levels which leads to heart disease.
A vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet.
Whole grains are a nutrient dense “heart healthy” food.
Long distance cardio is the best way to burn fat and lose weight.
If calories burned exceeds calories consumed, you’ll lose weight.
These are just some of the lies we’ve been fed (pun intended) over the years that don’t actually hold up in reality or in the research. What I’ve found on my journey to optimal health and vibrant living is that pretty much everything I thought was true about nutrition, is actually wrong, and in fact the exact opposite is true. I thought that if I counted calories and made sure I burned more than I consumed I’d get skinny (I didn’t). I thought that by eating less fat and no meat I’d be healthier (I wasn’t). I thought that running every day would make me perfectly fit and thin (it didn’t). And the list goes on…The big question then is: If what we have been told about nutrition and health were true, why aren’t we all perfectly healthy?
The fact of the matter is a lot of what we’ve been told just isn’t correct. Information was gathered from one study or another (that may or may not have been funded by companies that benefit from a certain result) and that information, true or not, was propagated by the media, doctors, and those companies that benefit from the information being mainstream. And once this happens it is hard to reverse. I’m sure many of you saw the recent cover of Time Magazine with the tagline “eat butter.” Well this finally came out 30 years after an eggs and bacon frowny face donned the cover, vilifying fat, specifically saturated fat, and sparking the fat-fearing craze in America that has clearly not made us any healthier. I’m hoping it won’t take quite so long for some of these other myths to be busted in a mainstream sort of way.
I’m not going to go into tons of research here about how these myths are wrong and why they came about in the first place. Liz Wolfe does that way more eloquently than I ever could in her book Eat the Yolks. So I’ll just cover some basics…
Dietary fat does not necessarily raise blood cholesterol levels and high blood cholesterol levels do not cause heart disease. This misinformation is based on bad science years ago that has continued to be propagated despite evidence to the contrary because it benefits those with the power (call me a cynic, but it’s true). Replacing saturated fat from animal sources with “healthy” unsaturated fats and the “fat free” garbage has only made us sicker (source). I could write a whole post about this but I’ll save that for another day.
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan for moral or religious reasons then that’s cool. Keep doin’ what works for you! But if you don’t eat animal products because you’re under the impression that this is the healthiest way of eating then you may want to reconsider. Vegetarians and vegans especially are often lacking in many essential nutrients. Responsibly sourced animal products are full of bio-available nutrients and are more easily digested than their plant based counterparts (contrary to popular belief). And vegetarian and vegan diets are often (but not always) comprised of processed soy based crap that can actually be quite harmful to your health (source).
While they may contain certain nutrients, the anti-nutrients in whole grains actually bind with these nutrients and prevent their absorption. Also, all carbohydrates, whether simple or complex, are broken down into simple sugars in your body. So while you may think you’re getting all sorts of nutrients from your whole grain bagel, all you’re really getting is a sugar rush (source).
We have this obsession with calories today that’s based on this idea that as long as you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. But it’s so much more complicated than that (obviously or we would all be skinny). I believe this is part of the reason why people believe cardio is the best exercise for fat loss: because it burns more calories. But that isn’t the case in reality. Sure you may burn more calories in the hour you spend on the elliptical than you would lifting weights for 30 minutes, but what about after you’re done working out? Weight lifting increases your metabolic rate for a longer period of time after you stop working out than cardio, meaning you burn more calories overall. Plus it makes you stronger which is pretty bad ass if you ask me!
I know, this is a lot of info and I could spend a whole post talking about each of these topics. You may be hesitant to believe me and I totally get that. I don’t have an MD or a PhD, or even an RD. The internet is full of conflicting information and these ideas certainly aren’t mainstream at this point. But if you don’t believe me, I hope you’ll seek out the abundance of research that has been done supporting the views expressed above. Maybe in another 30 years, there won’t be any controversy over what is and what isn’t healthy and everyone will be perfectly fit and disease free. I doubt it, but one can hope, right?
If you have any thoughts about what I’ve shared here, please feel free to comment below!
In vibrant health,