9 Biggest Health and Diet Myths
This year, I’ve appeared regularly on Dr. Oz to bust all the common health and diet myths that exist in our society.
And I’m not going to stop there.
Listen, you deserve the TRUTH about what’s good for you and what’s not. And with all the bad information out there, I’m here to demystify all the noise out there and cut to the cold, hard truth.
Because for years, we’ve been told by so-called health experts the wrong information. Maybe they don’t mean any harm, but that’s causing us to make poor decisions detrimental to our health.
Like, how many times have you been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day? I know my mamma and nonna would tell me that ALL the time!
Thanks to science, I’ve learned that’s not true...along with a lot of other health-related beliefs I had growing up (and STILL hear from patients).
So buckle up, because you’re in for a wild ride...let’s jump into these 9 myths plaguing our society. (And find out why breakfast is not that important!)
Health Myth #1: Fat Makes You Fat
It makes sense, right? If you don’t eat fat, you won’t get fat. And therefore, you won’t be at risk for heart disease. Unfortunately, it’s really not that simple.
Doctors and experts have been recommending us to cut saturated fats and replace them with whole grains (breads, cereals, etc). But these whole grains can have the potential to cause obesity and negatively impact cardiovascular health! And remember, simple sugars from carbohydrates contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, and of course--inflammation. And inflammation is just the beginning of a host of other diseases.
In fact, one study found a diet like the Mediterranean diet--full of omega-3 fats and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, showed a 72% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. And of course, it’s rich in olive oil.
Plus, researchers found NO link between dietary fat and obesity. So, eating fat does NOT make you fat. As proof, we’ve reduced dietary fat intake, yet obesity rates in the US increased! Clearly we’re doing something wrong...and we have the wrong information.
So next time you reach for that margarine or low fat milk, think again. Instead of avoiding fats, pay attention to the quality and quantity of carbohydrates. Dietary fat isn’t the culprit--it’s sugar! And guess what? Low fat foods tend to have more sugar.
I talk about “fat bombs” and how they help you lose fat in this Dr. Oz segment. They’re not just healthy, but they taste decadent, too!
Health Myth #2: Your Metabolism Slows Down as You Age, So It’s Natural if You Gain Weight
At one of my girlfriend’s birthday recently, my other friend made a comment: “I remember when I was your age, my metabolism just slowed down and hardly stopped working.”
This freaked out my friend. She was so scared it would magically happen to her out of nowhere! Poor woman.
The truth is, you’re not supposed to gain weight as you get older. And if you do, it’s NOT because your metabolism is naturally slowing down.
Rather, as we age, we often become less physically active. Or, maybe our diets change...which of course is a reason why our metabolism slows down. It’s not simply because of aging.
Which means, if this is happening to you, you don’t have to accept it as reality. There are natural ways to stop weight gain and keep up your metabolism well into your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Personally, I drink bone broth regularly to keep my gut healthy and glowing. I also take probiotics to balance out my bacteria and maintain healthy metabolism.
And of course, I intermittent fast twice a week to get rid of visceral belly fat. In fact, many adults over 50 years old are losing 6-14 pounds using this method--in just three weeks.
Health Myth #3: Eat 6 Small Meals a Day
The best way to maintain nutrition and lose weight is to eat a small breakfast, lunch, and dinner...with snacks in between each meal. Or, so we heard!
One study found eating two larger meals (breakfast and lunch) is far more effective for weight loss than eating six smaller meals throughout the day. Eating only breakfast and lunch with equal calories to six smaller meals resulted in greater losses of liver fat and blood sugar levels while increasing insulin sensitivity.
Then, researchers looked at folks who were inactive and ate smaller, more frequent meals. Only small amounts of protein positively impacted blood insulin levels and appetite control. There was no positive effect in weight control or body composition during frequent eating.
But that’s not all.
Scientists studied a group of people eating smaller, more frequent meals. They found no effect on fat burning, but here’s where it could be harmful. More frequent meals could increase hunger and trigger overeating. Your body gets so used to eating 6 times a day. So when you’re not feeding it that often, it will want more food. And therefore, you may end up overeating. And THAT’S how you end up gaining weight by accident.
Finally, a study published in The International Society of Sports Nutrition found eating smaller, frequent meals does nothing for body composition or boosting metabolism.
So don’t force yourself to eat 6 small meals a day. You’re only harming yourself and causing more, frequent hunger. And you’re certainly not speeding up metabolism.
Instead, incorporate intermittent fasting into your weekly routine and gain lean muscle, boost your immunity, and fight inflammation.
Health Myth #4: You Need to Exercise Long and Hard to Reap Benefits
The fitness myths are endless, but I’ll start with the most common. Many of my patients wonder why they’re not losing weight, even after an hour on the treadmill a couple times a week.
They wonder if they should just increase the time on the elliptical or treadmill to get better results.
But that’s neither efficient NOR effective!
Eating less and exercising more is not some magic formula for maintaining a healthy weight. We’ve got to consider other physiological reasons people gain weight and to help them reach a healthy weight.
If you haven’t heard of High Intensity Interval Training, it’s where you do short bursts of intense (but not too crazy) workouts--like sprinting or weight training for thirty minutes. The key here is you’re doing 45 seconds of intense workouts, 15 seconds of rest each minute, for example...rather than 30 minutes of jogging.
HIIT workouts like this are far more efficient for burning fat and toning muscle. You only need 30 minutes!
Always remember: you can’t outrun a poor diet. So if you’re looking to slim down and trim inches off your waistline, make sure you’re also eating a healthy diet--like eliminating the NO foods and incorporating more YES foods from my Bone Broth Diet or my 80/20 plan.
Health Myth #5: Exercise "Burns" Calories
I alluded to this earlier, but you can’t “out-exercise” a bad diet. Meaning, if you ate a pasta dish worth 900 calories, burning 1000 calories on the treadmill won’t offset that.
To burn fat and become lean, you need both a healthy diet AND consistent exercise. Combining quality foods with exercise is simply how you look and feel your best, naturally.
Interestingly, exercise alone produced the least effects in studies. Turns out, your diet is much more effective than exercise alone.
In addition, exercising more and eating less calories is NOT a way to lose weight, either. Our bodies are far more complex than that. And they need nutrition to stay healthy and burn off fat.
So make sure you’re eating healthy--grass fed, organic meats with vegetables and fruits, and eliminating sugar and grains from your diet. Couple that with some interval training, and you’re on your way to a complete transformation!
Health Myth #6: It's All About Calories In/Calories Out…A Calorie is a Calorie
I’ll cut right to it: not ALL calories are made equal. If a candy bar is 200 calories and a salad is 400 calories, going with the candy bar will NOT help you lose weight.
Take a look at this study, and how it disproves the “calorie is a calorie” theory. Scientists compared two diets: lower-carbohydrate diets and lower-fat diets. Participants on each diet consumed the exact same amount of calories, but those on the low-carb diets lost significantly more weight than those on the lower-fat diets.
Surprise, surprise! That’s because of Health Myth #1. If you remember, we learned that fat is NOT bad for you. So low-fat diets won’t help you lose weight, right?
And while we’re speaking of quality of calories, I’ll briefly mention the quality of food matters, too. I highly recommend eating only grass fed and free range meat and eggs if you want to reap the benefits of these foods. They contain more omega-3s and vitamins than its processed counterparts.
What you eat matters. You won’t lose weight counting calories (at least not long-term) if you’re eating “dirty” foods. Processed foods tend to make you overeat, which ends up in weight gain. Cleaner, high protein and high fiber foods will curb your hunger longer while making you less likely to overeat.
So when you’re at the grocery store or the restaurant, make clean choices!
Health Myth #7: Breakfast is The Most Important Meal of the Day
Sorry, moms and grandmas everywhere. Breakfast isn’t as important as you think, and I’ve got the studies to prove it.
Researchers found no evidence that skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism or impacts weight loss. There’s no link between skipping breakfast and obesity, either.
In fact, no real evidence exists that people who eat or skip breakfast have significant health benefits. Rather than just eating breakfast period, you need to look at the quality of foods you eat.
If you’re eating a donut or French toast for breakfast, it doesn’t mean you’re healthier than a person who skipped breakfast altogether.
Which is why quality matters. If you eat a high protein breakfast, you will perform better cognitively through the day and show that to-do list who’s boss. You’re also less likely to overeat throughout the day. But the same is true for any other meal!
Rather than thinking of breakfast as the most important meal of the day (and completely ignoring the others!), we need to reclassify breakfast as similar to any other meal. And like any other meal, the quality matters.
Love pancakes, but want to eat healthy? Try my favorite pumpkin pecan pancakes recipe. Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day, but it sure can be tasty!
Health Myth #8: Salt is Bad for You
Are you seeing a trend here? Low-fat products don’t help you lose weight. And guess what? Neither does low-sodium! That’s because most “low-sodium” products are highly processed...and reducing sodium doesn’t make them that much healthier.
Listen, salt is absolutely essential to health and is a crucial nutrient for nerve and muscle function. Salt also helps us regulate water and fluid balance. In fact, recent research challenges the idea that restricting salt can reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Make no mistake--this doesn’t mean you should pile on the salt and salty sauces. A diet with modest salt restriction and optimal potassium intake can help prevent or control hypertension and decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It’s all about balance, people!
What if you’re salt-sensitive? Modestly reducing sodium is good for your blood pressure. But for everyone else, under-consuming salt can cause cardiovascular issues and could unsafely increase your blood pressure. That’s because salt contains minerals for regulating blood pressure, ensuring healthy bones, and maintaining proper fluid balance.
So needless to say, your body does need some salt. I always opt for high quality salt--kosher or pink Himalayan--and I recommend you do the same.
Health Myth #9: Grains Are an Essential Food Group
Remember that food pyramid you learned about in elementary school? And remember the base of the pyramid--the largest part of all--that says you need 6-11 servings of grains?
I want you to set that aside for a moment. I’m not asking you to believe this myth right this moment. I’m only asking you stop from disbelieving and hear me out.
The studies prove it: Grain intake (whether whole or refined) contributes to inflammation, higher body mass index (BMI), and belly fat. It’s simple as that.
A lot of doctors and health experts will say you need whole grains because of the fiber. Well, guess what? You can get PLENTY of fiber in vegetables! I’m talking spinach, kale, squash...almost any vegetable is higher in fiber--and won’t add fat to your waistline.
Remember, inflammation shows up in your belly, the weighing scale, and in your complexion. It stops you from losing weight, it bloats your midsection, and it causes skin problems--including redness, acne, uneven skin tones, and eczema.
Needless to say, grains are not an essential food group, and in some cases they can create inflammation that contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. So they can be quite deadly, too...especially if you’re eating it every day.
Like that whole grain cereal you have every morning? Studies show wheat and other cereal grains can damage your gut lining, causing further inflammation and contributing to autoimmune disease. If you already have an autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation also puts your immune response in overdrive.
How exactly do grains cause inflammation?
Dietary lectins, found in high concentrations in grains--and especially wheat--puncture your gut lining wall. When your gut has holes in its lining. This is significant because 80% of your immune system is in your gut. So a “leaky gut” leads to autoimmune disorders, poor nutrient absorption, and other inflammatory conditions.
Researchers measured the amount of inflammation caused by consuming wheat and other cereal grains. They looked at blood inflammatory protein levels, including cytokines and interleukin, that can create autoimmune responses. Turns out grains spiked these inflammatory protein levels and activated these inflammatory pathways.
Which is why gluten-free diets (like my Bone Broth Diet and 80/20 plan) can reduce inflammation, and insulin resistance. Simply omitting gluten from your diet can prevent obesity and metabolic disorders.
Plus, it will help you lose weight (and that stubborn belly fat!).
Even though grains have phytochemicals, B vitamins, protein, and fiber...they also have “anti-nutrients” like phytic acid and lectins that block mineral absorption and cause chronic inflammation. So if you’re eating grains with vegetables and superfoods, you may not be reaping all of their benefits.
The Truth About Your Health and Diet
So there you have it, folks. I just went through 9 popular health myths you can now throw out the window.
You can also throw out those fad diets floating around. A lot of them are built on these common health myths.
And the problem with these fad diets are threefold: 1) They simply don’t work, 2) They lead you to believe you need to starve or only eat bland, unappetizing food, and 3) They aren’t sustainable in the long-term.
That’s why I’m all about the TRUTH about what works for losing weight, and keeping it off. My 21-Day Slim Down Program is not only easy and delicious (pork chili or chicken cacciatore, anyone?)...it works in just 21 days, and beyond.
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!