When it comes to nutrition, there’s a lot of information out there. With the advent of the internet, we have access to millions of ideas at the press of a button and we
have the ability to truly educate ourselves on any topic we desire. With this ability, however, we encounter a couple problems. With so many bold claims out there, how can we know what to trust? In this article, we’ll go over 10 interesting and unusual nutrition facts that you may have been led to believe are incorrect, but will actually help you improve your diet tenfold.
1. “Fat-Free!” does not always mean healthier
Often times, when there are substitutes for things are substituted out in food, for example, sugar, gluten, fat, etc., they are replaced with alternatives that may seem healthier, but are actually just as bad for you. If you examine the nutritional value of sugar-free Oreos compared to normal Oreos, you’ll find that the sugar-free Oreos have 10 fewer calories, but carry with them many chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols that aren’t much better than just the plain sugar in regular Oreos, itself. And with only a 10 calorie difference per cookie, you’d probably be better off just to treat yourself with a normal cookie and enjoy the authentic taste. Another crime often committed is saying that “Reduced fat” is better for you.
In Oreos again, reduced fat just means that they lowered the fat content and increased the sugar content, which doesn’t actually make them any better for you at all. While a healthy diet shouldn’t consist of a lot of Oreos, the cookies help illustrate the point. Smart advertising will often try to convince the consumer that a certain food is better for you because it’s free of something, but the substitutes aren’t often any better. Knowing this, you can make smarter shopping choices and avoid foods that are trying to trick you into thinking they’re healthier than they are.
2. Fat is not the enemy
This fact is one that even the most knowledgeable of us fitness enthusiasts mess up. When working with a caloric deficit, you often look for ways you can get more out of what you have, and there are tons of ways to do this, such as eating greater or fewer meals, eating more vegetables, etc. One method is eliminating fat from your diet, or just sticking to the minimum. While this may work for some people, as everybody’s individual needs are different, this option forgets about the importance of fat in one’s diet.
Yes, fat has more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, so technically, you would get to eat more grams of food with low-fat foods, but fat helps the body perform functions that carbs and protein don’t. Fat helps keep you full as well as providing the body with a lot of energy, it helps absorb vitamins and other nutrients, it helps the brain function, it keeps your metabolism functioning properly, and it aids in digestion, which is especially slow while cutting. But these are only a few of the importances of fat, the rest would require its own article. In summary, however, one should know that fat is an important part of any diet and one should figure out how much they need before cutting it out entirely.
3. You don’t need to give up bread and butter to be healthier
Contrary to popular belief, removing bread and butter from your diet is not the first step to improving it. Take it from me and many others: the right type of bread and butter can be great for your diet. Personally, I have sprouted whole-grain bread and organic grass-fed butter every morning to start my day. The bread is a complex carb, meaning the sugars in it digest in the body over time providing consistent energy over time.
The butter is high in good cholesterol which helps the brain function, and since it’s grass fed, it contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is a fatty acid that helps the body increase its metabolism, improve its immune system, and regulate its levels of cholesterol. When the right bread and butter (opt for the full-fat, choose grass-fed for CLA) is chosen, bread and butter can actually be two incredibly nutritious foods to include in your diet.
4. Trail mix is not be as good for you as it seems…
Trail mix was designed to be lightweight, portable, and pack a lot of energy in a small package, and it does all of these things. The tasty snack, however, is not ideal for those concerned about calories. When it comes to snacking, trail mix is actually one of the easiest ways to go wrong. Because of the nuts in the mix, which are high in fat, and therefore, calories too, it’s easy to go overboard when eating the mix. In addition to this, any flavored trail mix will have tons of added sugar, which will only increase one’s craving for more and make the snack even less nutritionally beneficial.
The problem with trail mix isn’t the fact that it’s high in fats and nuts, instead, the problem is that it’s easy to eat 300 calories of trail mix and still be left hungry. With that amount, you could have 3.75 medium sized apples, which would definitely hold you over until your next meal and leave you feeling much more satisfied than trail mix would with the same amount of calories.
5. …And neither is dried fruit
When compared to their natural counterparts, dried fruits have more calories, more sugar, less fiber, and are much less filling. Like trail mix, when it comes to dried fruits, it’s easy to go overboard on calories without feeling filled up. Also, the nutrients coming from the dried fruits are nowhere near as good as their natural versions.
Mangos are a perfect example of these differences. The obvious first difference between dried mango and normal mango is the calories in each. In one cup of dried mango, there are roughly 480 calories, and in a single cup of normal mango, there are only 99, almost 1/5 of the amount of calories that dried fruit have in the same volume. Normal mangos also have 4.8x fewer carbs (25g/cup v. 120g/cup) than their dried counterparts, and more of those carbs come from fiber when you eat dried fruits if the same amount of calories are consumed. Lastly, dried mangos have much less vitamin-C than normal mangos; a cup of normal mango has
100% of one’s daily value, whereas dried mango only has 2% due to the loss of vitamin-C in the drying process.
6. Fruit juice is misunderstood
When it comes to drinks, you really can’t go wrong with plain water. Most people are aware that soda lacks any nutritional benefits…but what about fruit juice? I would argue that the majority of people if polled, would not realize that fruit juice is actually not much different from soda. Like soda, fruit juice is mostly sugar and flavoring, not to mention it lacks many of the nutritional benefits of actual fruit.
When fruit juice is made, the actual juice from the fruit loses flavor so flavoring is added to the drink. Unfortunately, this flavoring is mostly sugar and makes the drink just as bad as a can of soda. The juice lacks the fiber from actual fruit and is much less filling. A cup of unsweetened apple juice will have 113 calories, while the average apple might have around 80-90. The biggest difference, however, is that the apple will leave you feeling much fuller than a cup of fruit juice.
7. You can’t have too many eggs
Until recently, there used to be much controversy surrounding eggs, and specifically, the yolks. Like butter, whole eggs were thought to be unhealthy because of the saturated fat and cholesterol inside the yolks. Scientists, however, discovered that there were multiple forms of saturated fats, some containing stearic acid which negatively affects cholesterol levels in the body and that the saturated fat in egg yolks does not contain this acid. The saturated fat present in eggs, on the other hand, has many nutritional benefits, such as being an agent against the formation of cancerous cells.
In addition to the saturated fat in the yolks, there is also dietary cholesterol, which is important for the brain’s function. While increased cholesterol can be bad for the heart, the cholesterol in eggs shouldn’t be a problem for any active individual.
8. Fat-burners don’t burn fat on their own
There’s a saying, “Nothing works unless you do.” that gets thrown around in the supplement industry; this is especially true with fat burners. Fat burners are probably the most likely product somebody without a nutritional background will go to if they want to lose weight, but unfortunately for most, they soon discover they don’t work entirely as described. While it is correct that fat burners will do things to help you lose weight, such as suppressing your appetite, controlling your hormones, and increase your metabolism, the difference is not substantial enough to undo a bad diet or a lack of exercise. A fat burner will only help increase fat loss if the user is simultaneously eating nutritious foods and consistently working out.
9. Gluten-free and organic don’t equate to healthy
An organic cookie is still a cookie, and a gluten-free brownie can still be just as bad for you as a regular one. When in doubt, always refer to the nutrition labels on the back of the product and choose foods that allow you to reach your macro and micronutrient goals for the day.
10. Don’t trust the media
One of the biggest reasons for the lack of knowledge regarding nutrition in the US is our own media. Every other week there’s a new trend or a new superfood to help you lose weight. While many of them may work, again, nothing works unless you do. No food or fad-diet will help you reach your goal if you can’t put in the time and effort and commit yourself to reaching it. The best, most tried and true way to lose weight is simply to become educated on it. Once you understand nutrition, you will have opened the Pandora’s box of fitness secrets.
If you eat a nutritious diet of whole, unprocessed foods and meet your macro/micronutrient goals every day, in addition to exercising consistently and reaching caloric requirements, you will find that there are no tricks, it’s just simple dedication. The truth is, most people know what they need to do to lose weight, but they cannot commit to the work that it takes to do so, so they instead adopt trends and fad diets that will never work in the long term. The successful people in the fitness industry are those who have adopted a sustainable lifestyle and never gave up on reaching their goals.
While many of these facts may have been commonly known among those in the field, they often come as a shock to people just getting started on their fitness journeys. Whether it is losing weight, improving one’s diet in general, or anything else, these facts provide good information on things that may have been assumed, but are incorrect. By helping share facts like this, we can eliminate some of the hearsay from the fitness industry and prevent more fad diets from springing up because the one diet that will always work is just hitting your macros consistently and eating nutritiously beneficial and whole foods.