Mainstream nutrition is full of contradictory nonsense and it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate truth from mere product placement. Despite major advancements in nutrition science, there is still a bunch of old myths that don’t seem to be going anywhere and you may have unknowingly adopted many of these.
In fact, much of what we believe about food is really just hearsay. But clinging to misconceptions can waste your time and energy and even hurt your progress, so you might want to learn how to separate fact from fiction in order to finally shed the habits that are holding you back.
Here are 4 common nutrition myths that have been debunked by science and deserve to be forgotten right away!
#1. Don’t Miss the Anabolic Window!
The story goes like this: right after you finish your workout, you have an “anabolic window” that lasts around 30 minutes and during which you must drink a protein shake or consume some protein-rich food in order to enable proper muscle recovery and growth.
However, there is zero conclusive evidence that shows ingesting carbs or protein immediately after a workout raises muscle protein synthesis. Although a few studies have discovered a slight benefit, most of them are focused on emphasizing the far greater benefits of consuming a pre-workout meal. So in reality, there is no magic post-workout time window in which you must consume protein to preserve muscle growth. Moreover, it has been found that overall nutrient intake throughout the day is much more important than the timing of meals.
You don’t have to worry about the anabolic window to grow like a beast. Instead of glorifying post-workout nutrition, make sure to keep your body properly fueled all throughout the day!
#2. Eating Little and Often VS Three Meals a Day
Nutrition gurus have long preached about the benefits of eating 5-6 small meals per day instead of the traditional three meals. This is supposed to be the optimal meal frequency that will skyrocket your metabolism, prevent hunger and help you burn more overall calories.
Although it sounds great, this is far from true. Research has repeatedly proven that meal frequency doesn’t have any significant effect on metabolic rate or total amount of fat lost. One study found that switching from three daily meals to six didn’t boost fat loss – it actually made people want to eat more.
If your goal is to lose as much body fat as possible, it’d be much wiser to focus on the thermic effect of food and aim to consume more foods with a high thermic effect (calories burned in the process of digesting food) instead of simply increasing meal frequency. That amounts to about 20-30% of calories for protein, 5-10% for carbohydrates and 0-3% for fat.
Do what works for you and your lifestyle. As long as you eat the right total amount of the right foods, any meal frequency will be effective.
#3. Skipping Breakfast Is Dangerous
This is one of the most pervasive myths in modern society. We tend to perceive breakfast as far more important than other meals and we believe that skipping it will raise our risk of fat storage and obesity-related health issues. Eating breakfast every day is supposed to keep your metabolism running smooth and prevent overeating later in the day.
Unfortunately, many recent studies have disproven this popular belief and some of them have even suggested that breakfast can actually be detrimental to fat loss. There is zero scientific research confirming a direct cause-and-effect relationship between skipping breakfast and gaining weight, and for some people, eating breakfast creates a larger eating window and actually leads to storage of excess fat in the long run.
You don’t have to force yourself to eat breakfast if you don’t feel hunger, especially if your breakfast choices include sugar-loaded pastries or cereals. In fact, skipping breakfast can help you transform your body into an efficient fat-burning machine. Research on intermittent fasting has shown that prolonged periods of fasting can help spark your metabolism and support your fat loss efforts, especially if you work out before eating your first meal. If you have to eat breakfast, make sure you’re consuming sources of high-quality protein and fat that will keep you satisfied for a longer period of time.
#4. Eating Before Bedtime Makes You Fat
Eating too close to your bedtime will promote fat storage and sabotage your weight loss efforts, so it’s better to go to sleep with a rumbling stomach than to satisfy your hunger, right? Wrong.
Your body doesn’t really care what time you’re consuming food – it will break nutrients down the same way regardless of the time of consumption. The key factor here is the type of food you’re eating. If you choose a healthy snack instead of soda and a chocolate dessert, you can actually enhance your metabolism and keep your blood sugar levels stable through the night. Not only will eating the right type of bedtime snack not make you fat, it will probably promote weight loss!
If you skip the bedtime snack, your blood sugar will crash shortly after you fall asleep and your fat-burning hormone, glucagon, won’t be able to do its job, so you won’t sleep well and you’ll end up packing on more pounds. Therefore, if you’re hungry, eat, but make sure you’re eating real, high quality food. The only people who reap negative effects from bedtime snacking are the people who eat the wrong types of food.
As you can see, the take-home message from this is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, so you shouldn’t be a slave to dogmatic myths about what’s right and wrong.
Instead, feel free to experiment with different dieting styles and meal frequencies until you find the regime that works best for you and your individual goals. As long as you make sure that you’re eating high quality, clean foods, and keep your macros in check, you are free to organize your meals in any way you want. The most important part is to create an eating pattern that’s sustainable and doesn’t make you constantly starved and frustrated. Remember that your success depends on many different factors and you don’t have to let myths scare you into following nonsensical rules.