Myths vs. Facts

  • MYTH
  • FACT

MYTH

A healthy diet comes from paying attention to one or two types of foods.

FACT

A healthy diet is the product of many variables. Popular diet trends blame a host of health issues on a few things, like sugar, carbs, fat, or preservatives. While these factors are important, they aren’t everything. Many factors from what you eat, to how much you eat and even why you’re eating those foods is important.


MYTH

Diet is 90% of results.

FACT

Diet plays an important role, but the reach of its influence depends on your goals and circumstances. In some cases, diet may not be quite as important as training and lifestyle factors. You won’t build much muscle and strength if you don’t do strength exercise regardless of what your diet looks like. In that case, pull-ups could be said to be more responsible than diet.

When it comes to weight loss, diet is technically 50% of your calorie balance (intake) and while you can make a lot of change happen by changing your diet, that doesn’t mean the other 50% (expenditure) isn’t important.


MYTH

Calories don’t count.

FACT

Everything counts including calories. Even though some dietary dogmas focus on a certain type of food or ingredient, that doesn’t mean calories are not important. Most of the time, focusing on a certain ingredient works because it influences your calorie intake.


MYTH

You can accurately measure calorie intake and expenditure.

FACT

Calories are notoriously difficult to measure over long periods of time. Calorie tracking devices and food labels are only an estimation of your calorie intake and expenditure. That doesn’t mean they don’t have some value as even estimates can give you a rough idea of what’s going on. Just keep in mind the numbers in a diet journal are not always correct.


MYTH

You are your own worst enemy.

FACT

You are your only hope. Some dietary methods portray your desires and appetites as bad things that you must fight on a daily basis. This is often portrayed as a you-vs.-yourself mentality.

While change does sometimes require facing some inner demons, know that you can’t fight yourself and win in weight loss, fitness and life. Fighting and distrusting yourself is only going to make success harder. Learning how to listen to your own needs, and trusting yourself to make good decisions is an important part of achieving success.


MYTH

Fat, protein and carbohydrate calories are different.

FACT

Different foods can affect the body in different ways, but the actual caloric energy within those foods is the same value. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the types of foods you select, but it does mean that there’s no such thing as good or bad calories.


MYTH

You have to “eat right” to be healthy.

FACT

You get healthy by eating better and progressing your dietary habits over time. Eating right implies that there’s one specific, and unchanging way you’re supposed to eat, but everyone is different. In addition, your dietary needs will change over time, so what’s healthy for you today may be different from what’s healthy tomorrow. These reasons are why true healthy eating is a learned skill that’s developed over time with practice. It’s not a 3-step plan you can learn from an infographic.

Also, don’t forget diet is an important variable in your health, but sleep, stress and other lifestyle habits play a role too.


MYTH

You can’t out-train a bad diet.

FACT

Most people out-train a bad diet every day, you probably already are.

Well, yes, you can’t out-train malnutrition which is really what a bad diet is, but this idea isn’t about out-training a nutrient deficiency. It’s about weight control and the idea that you can’t lose weight no matter how much you exercise if you don’t “eat right.”

It’s certainly possible to lose weight through activity with a sub-par diet. I’ve done it and I know others who have as well. The catch is it takes more work than most people think. I did it back in college when I was active or exercising 3-6 hours a day.

If you’re active, but not losing weight, then your exercise is keeping your weight stable by burning calories that would otherwise contribute to weight gain. So in a sense, you already have a “bad diet” you’re just staying the weight you are with the exercise you’re doing now.


MYTH

If it tastes good don’t eat it.

FACT

Your enjoyment of food plays a crucial role in the satisfaction of your appetites which is the whole point of a healthy diet. This doesn’t mean you should only eat overly palatable foods, but to find ways to enjoy a variety of natural whole foods as well. It also means you don’t need to force yourself to eat something you don’t enjoy just because it’s supposedly good for you. If you don’t enjoy kale then don’t eat it. Eat something else like spring mix, brussel sprouts or mixed veggies. Satisfying your desire for palatable food is also a good way to satisfy of hunger and cravings.


MYTH

Food cravings and hunger are signs you’re “being good.”

FACT

While some temporary cravings and hunger are part of a disciplined lifestyle, chronic desires are a sign your diet may be lacking. When the goal of a healthy diet is to satisfy your appetites, constant hunger and the desire to eat something means you’re not fulfilling your needs.


MYTH

Avoid emotional eating.

FACT

Emotional eating is unavoidable. Every choice you make has an emotional foundation to it, from deciding what to eat to when you go to sleep each night. Trying to eat with a robotic mentality deprives you of many of the pleasurable benefits of food which leads to an unsatisfying and thus unhealthy diet.

There are two types of emotional eating. Negative emotional eating is when you make food choices from feeling stress, anxiety or boredom. Positive emotional eating is when you make food choices based on good feelings like happiness, excitement and the desire to take care of yourself. So while eating without emotional content is not possible, it’s the type of emotions you feel while eating that is important.


MYTH

You have to eat perfect to achieve the perfect body.

FACT

While a healthy diet does a lot to help you look and feel your best, it’s not everything. Those perfect images you see on social media have a lot more behind them than just a perfect diet. Exercise, lifestyle, and genetics also play a vital role. It’s also worth remembering the perfection a camera captures is also very temporary and heavily staged. Not to take anything away from the hard work and dedication that person has invested, but nobody looks perfect even half the time. 

A satisfying healthy diet will help you look and feel great, but it won’t produce perfection. Then again, neither will eating perfectly 100% of the time because there are too many other variables that need to be perfect as well.