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The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds

Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that the standard prescription for weight loss is to reduce the amount of calories you consume.

But a new study, published Tuesday in JAMA, may turn that advice on its head. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

The strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. And their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates, a finding that casts doubt on the increasingly popular idea that different diets should be recommended to people based on their DNA makeup or on their tolerance for carbs or fat.

The research lends strong support to the notion that diet quality, not quantity, is what helps people lose and manage their weight most easily in the long run. It also suggests that health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

“This is the road map to reducing the obesity epidemic in the United States,” said Dr. Mozaffarian, who was not involved in the new study. “It’s time for U.S. and other national policies to stop focusing on calories and calorie counting.”

The new research was published in JAMA and led by Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. It was a large and expensive trial, carried out on more than 600 people with $8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Nutrition Science Initiative and other groups.

Dr. Gardner and his colleagues designed the study to compare how overweight and obese people would fare on low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. But they also wanted to test the hypothesis — suggested by previous studies — that some people are predisposed to do better on one diet over the other depending on their genetics and their ability to metabolize carbs and fat. A growing number of services have capitalized on this idea by offering people personalized nutrition advice tailored to their genotypes.

The researchers recruited adults from the Bay Area and split them into two diet groups, which were called “healthy” low carb and “healthy” low fat. Members of both groups attended classes with dietitians where they were trained to eat nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods, cooked at home whenever possible.

Soft drinks, fruit juice, muffins, white rice and white bread are technically low in fat, for example, but the low-fat group was told to avoid those things and eat foods like brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, quinoa, fresh fruit and legumes. The low-carb group was trained to choose nutritious foods like olive oil, salmon, avocados, hard cheeses, vegetables, nut butters, nuts and seeds, and grass-fed and pasture-raised animal foods.

The participants were encouraged to meet the federal guidelines for physical activity but did not generally increase their exercise levels, Dr. Gardner said. In classes with the dietitians, most of the time was spent discussing food and behavioral strategies to support their dietary changes.

The new study stands apart from many previous weight-loss trials because it did not set extremely restrictive carbohydrate, fat or caloric limits on people and emphasized that they focus on eating whole or “real” foods — as much as they needed to avoid feeling hungry.

“The unique thing is that we didn’t ever set a number for them to follow,” Dr. Gardner said.

Of course, many dieters regain what they lose, and this study cannot establish whether participants will be able to sustain their new habits. While people on average lost a significant amount of weight in the study, there was also wide variability in both groups. Some people gained weight, and some lost as much as 50 to 60 pounds. Dr. Gardner said that the people who lost the most weight reported that the study had “changed their relationship with food.” They no longer ate in their cars or in front of their television screens, and they were cooking more at home and sitting down to eat dinner with their families, for example.

“We really stressed to both groups again and again that we wanted them to eat high-quality foods,” Dr. Gardner said. “We told them all that we wanted them to minimize added sugar and refined grains and eat more vegetables and whole foods. We said, ‘Don’t go out and buy a low-fat brownie just because it says low fat. And those low-carb chips — don’t buy them, because they’re still chips and that’s gaming the system.’”

In a new study, people who ate lots of vegetables and whole foods
rather than processed ones lost weight without worrying about calories or portion size.

Dr. Gardner said many of the people in the study were surprised — and relieved — that they did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

“A couple weeks into the study people were asking when we were going to tell them how many calories to cut back on,” he said. “And months into the study they said, ‘Thank you! We’ve had to do that so many times in the past.’”

Calorie counting has long been ingrained in the prevailing nutrition and weight loss advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, tells people who are trying to lose weight to “write down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, plus the calories they have, each day,” while making an effort to restrict the amount of calories they eat and increasing the amount of calories they burn through physical activity.

“Weight management is all about balancing the number of calories you take in with the number your body uses or burns off,” the agency says.

Yet the new study found that after one year of focusing on food quality, not calories, the two groups lost substantial amounts of weight. On average, the members of the low-carb group lost just over 13 pounds, while those in the low-fat group lost about 11.7 pounds. Both groups also saw improvements in other health markers, like reductions in their waist sizes, body fat, and blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

The researchers took DNA samples from each subject and analyzed a group of genetic variants that influence fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Ultimately the subjects’ genotypes did not appear to influence their responses to the diets.

The researchers also looked at whether people who secreted higher levels of insulin in response to carbohydrate intake — a barometer of insulin resistance — did better on the low-carb diet. Surprisingly, they did not, Dr. Gardner said, which was somewhat disappointing.

“It would have been sweet to say we have a simple clinical test that will point out whether you’re insulin resistant or not and whether you should eat more or less carbs,” he added.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said the study did not support a “precision medicine” approach to nutrition, but that future studies would be likely to look at many other genetic factors that could be significant. He said the most important message of the study was that a “high quality diet” produced substantial weight loss and that the percentage of calories from fat or carbs did not matter, which is consistent with other studies, including many that show that eating healthy fats and carbs can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.

“The bottom line: Diet quality is important for both weight control and long-term well-being,” he said.

Dr. Gardner said it is not that calories don’t matter. After all, both groups ultimately ended up consuming fewer calories on average by the end of the study, even though they were not conscious of it. The point is that they did this by focusing on nutritious whole foods that satisfied their hunger.

“I think one place we go wrong is telling people to figure out how many calories they eat and then telling them to cut back on 500 calories, which makes them miserable,” he said. “We really need to focus on that foundational diet, which is more vegetables, more whole foods, less added sugar and less refined grains.”

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR      FEB. 20, 2018
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Walnuts May Control Your Mind To Help Lose Weight

No nut is going to control me, you may say. You are your own person. You eat what you want, when you want. But science may say otherwise about walnuts.

What is up with deez nuts? Five researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (Olivia M. Farr Ph.D., Dario Tuccinardi M.D., Jagriti Upadhyay M.D., Sabrina M. Oussaada, and Christos S. Mantzoros M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D.) conducted a study published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. The researchers first randomly assigned ten hospitalized patients with obesity five straight days of either a smoothie with 48 grams of walnuts or a similarly tasting and textured smoothie without walnuts. Then after one month of returning to their original diets, those who first got the walnut smoothie then got five days of the non-walnut smoothie and vice versa. One participant eventually dropped out of the study, leaving nine who completed the whole protocol.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers measured each of the study subjects’ brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. After the 5 day smoothie diet, study subjects then underwent another fMRI to see how things had changed.

Then there was the food porn. The researchers showed the study subjects different pictures while undergoing the fMRI. Pictures included those of “highly desirable foods” (high-calorie or high-fat images, e.g., cakes, onion rings), “less desirable foods” (low-calorie or low-fat images, e.g.,, vegetables and fruits) and “non-foods” (e.g., flowers, rocks, trees). Yes, you rock and flower eaters may say that everything’s subjective, but these were the designations by the researchers. Before and after each fMRI scan, study subjects completed visual analog scales (VAS) to measure how hungry or full they felt.

The study resulted in two major findings. First, after the walnut smoothie diet, study subjects reported feeling less hungry than after the non-walnut smoothie diet. Secondly, following the five days of walnut smoothies, study subjects had differences in their brain activity (as measured by fMRI) when shown food porn. Specifically, the right insula part of the brain seemed to be more active. Parts of the insula may be responsible for satiety and inhibition. In other words, something about walnuts may be telling your brain to simmer down when shown mouth-watering food. This could be some Vulcan mind meld-like stuff: walnuts may help you control your appetite and thus help with managing your weight.

 

Of course, this is a very small study with measurements taken only over a short period of time. It also does not prove that walnuts can actually control your appetite or if any of the findings will persist over time. Effects can wear off as the brain and body get used to eating a certain type of food. More, larger, and more complex studies are needed before drawing stronger conclusions. But these results are encouraging. Note that the California Walnut Commission (CWC) did provide funding for this study. However, they were not directly involved in designing, conducting, interpreting, or reporting the results for the study.

These findings are not completely surprising. There is increasing evidence that food and their ingredients don’t simply just provide calories and nutrients to your body like emptying a dump truck into a hole (with the hole being your mouth). Food and ingredients may interact and communicate with your body in many different and mysterious ways. For example, the work of Tim Moran, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral and Biological Research for our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) and Paul R. McHugh Professor of Motivated Behaviors at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has shown how your gastrointestinal tract and brain are communicating back and forth with each other to help regulate your hunger, cravings, and metabolism. Even though your body may seem relatively quiet (although some people’s bodies may seem louder than others), there’s a lot of discussion and maybe even arguments going on inside you. Here’s a talk from Dr. Moran for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that begins to show just how complex these systems are:

How noisy your body and brain may be may vary compared to others, depending on you and all of the cues around you. For instance, a recent study published in the journal Neuroimage and led by Susan Carnell, PhD, another member of our GOPC and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, found that adolescents who are at higher obesity risk may have different brain activity patterns when presented with words representing different types of foods.

As Dr. Carnell explained, “When it comes to hunger and satiation, a calorie is not necessarily a calorie. Food with a high glycemic index, like pasta, are processed more quickly than those with a low glycemic index, like beans and nuts, so you may still feel hungry after consuming a large amount of mac and cheese.”

Thus, adding an ingredient here and there to your food, especially artificial ones, could change what your food is saying to you. For example, Alice Walton previously wrote for Forbes about how artificial sweeteners may even lead to weight gain by interfering with brain connections that usually associate the sensation of sweetness and energy intake. In other words, your brain may usually equate a certain amount of sweet food with a certain amount of calories. When this association is messed up (which is a scientific term), your brain may say something is screwed up, eat more food. That’s why the global obesity epidemic may be due in part to the content of our food having changed. Since the 1980’s more and more “manufactured” and highly processed food has entered our diets.

All of this reemphasizes how you, your surroundings, food, nutrition, health, and obesity really form very complex systems and how obesity is very complex problem. It also says that even when you are eating alone, you are not really alone. Your food is having conversations with your body and brain. You might as well say in your best Robert De Niro voice to your food, “you talkin’ to me?” The answer with walnuts is probably yes and maybe in a good way.

Bruce Y. Lee , CONTRIBUTOR       AUG 19, 2017       Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


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8 Healthy Ways to Boost Energy

Your food and beverage choices can have a big effect on your energy levels throughout the day, an expert says.

As our energy levels decrease because of our overstressed lifestyles, many people look for a quick fix to combat fatigue.

Energy drinks mask the symptoms of fatigue and dehydrate the body. The majority of energy drinks contain excess sugar, high levels of caffeine and other stimulants.

Relying on caffeine and energy drinks makes us feel worse in the long run by causing our system to crash.

Continued fatigue decreases the immune system, making us more susceptible to depression and illness.

So what to do? Exercise, sleep and reducing stress are important in fighting fatigue. But our eating habits also directly affect energy levels. And nutrition can affect energy levels throughout the day.

Here are some tips on healthy ways to boost your energy:

Drink water

The body needs water – multiple glasses a day.

Being hydrated is an easy and inexpensive way to increase energy levels. You don’t need vitamin water or sports drinks; they only add extra unneeded calories. Keep a fresh water source with you at all times and drink throughout the day. Add lemons, limes or oranges for taste variety.

Eat breakfast

This is the meal that sets the stage for the entire day. Studies show that breakfast helps keep you alert, starts your metabolism for the day and keeps you satisfied until lunch.

But a healthy breakfast is the key. Good options include whole-grain cereals, breads, fruit and lean protein instead of doughnuts, pastries and white breads. A hard-boiled egg sliced into a whole wheat pita, oatmeal with fruit, and whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter are all healthy choices.

Don’t forget protein

Not consuming enough protein during the day can be a primary reason for fatigue. Protein-based foods provide the body with fuel to repair and build tissues. Protein takes longer than carbohydrates to break down in the body, providing a longer-lasting energy source. You can find protein in poultry, fish, lean red meat, nuts, milk, yogurt, eggs, yogurt, cheese and tofu.

Keep your carbs smart

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. Pick whole grains like cereal, brown rice and whole wheat bread, and avoid sweets, which cause energy to plummet. Many processed carbohydrates contain little to no fiber. Always read the nutrition label.

Snacks are important

If you let yourself get too hungry between meals, your blood sugar falls, and you get lethargic. Keep your blood sugar and energy level steady during the day by consuming snacks. Choosing the right snacks prevent peaks and valleys in energy.

Combine complex carbs with a protein and/or fat for lasting energy. The protein and fat slow the breakdown of sugar into the blood, preventing fatigue. Snacks also can prevent overeating at mealtimes. A few examples of smart snack choices are yogurt with fruit, mixed nuts, veggies with hummus, pears with almond butter, whey protein shake or blueberries with a cheese stick. Plan ahead!

Omega-3 fatty acids

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, combat depression and improve mood and memory. Try to focus on omega-3 fats from food rather than supplements. Excellent sources include salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds, leafy greens and hemp seeds.

Magnesium

Almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral important in converting carbohydrates into energy. Other good sources of magnesium include whole grains and dark green vegetables.

Don’t skimp on calories

Skimping on calories decreases your metabolism and causes you to feel lethargic. Keep your energy levels high and increase metabolism by meeting your caloric needs each day. Whole foods are preferred over supplements to obtain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals instead of one or two single nutrients. Consume a variety of foods for overall health but also to keep your energy levels high.

By Tiffany Barrett, Special to CNN      November 28, 2012
source: www.cnn.com


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Want to Lose Weight? You Should Stop Counting Calories

No more meal math: Eating high-quality foods—including plenty of fat—is the new golden rule of weight loss.

Keri Rabe, a 41-year-old elementary school librarian in Austin, Texas, used to be a hard-core calorie counter. Each day for a year, she logged everything she ate, squeezing in caloric space for twice-baked potatoes and tater tot casseroles by making them with low-fat dairy, believing fat would make her fat. She studied the menu before eating out at restaurants, choosing a dish by how many calories she had left for the day. “I thought for sure that was the only way to consistently lose weight,” she says. “I thought I’d have to do it for the rest of my life.”

By one measure, it worked; Rabe lost 10 pounds that year. But even though she met her goal, she was frustrated. She hated doing math before and after every meal, and even though she got away with eating low-quality food while losing weight, she still didn’t feel good—and she wasn’t satisfied.

So one day, Rabe stopped logging and went searching for a better path, not just to lose weight but to keep it off. “I was looking for a way I could eat for the rest of my life,” she says.

Rabe was about to learn what experts are now discovering: The quality of calories is what matters most for staying healthy, losing weight, and maintaining those results.

“When you eat the right quality and balance of foods, your body can do the rest on its own,” says David Ludwig, MD, an endocrinologist, researcher, and professor at Harvard Medical School, who wrote the 2016 weight-loss book Always Hungry? “You don’t have to count calories or go by the numbers.”

Outsmart your metabolism

The problem with foods that make people fat isn’t that they have too many calories, says Dr. Ludwig. It’s that they cause a cascade of reactions in the body that promote fat storage and make people overeat. Processed carbohydrates—foods like chips, soda, crackers, and even white rice—digest quickly into sugar and increase levels of the hormone insulin.

“Insulin is like Miracle-Gro for your fat cells,” explains Dr. Ludwig. It directs cells to snap up calories in the blood and store them as fat, leaving the body feeling hungry in a hurry. This is why it’s so easy to devour a big bag of chips and still feel famished.

Repeat this cycle too many times and your metabolism will start working against you. What’s more, “when humans try to reduce their calorie balance, the body fights back,” says Dr. Ludwig. This happens in two ways: Metabolism slows in order to keep calories around longer, and you begin to feel hungrier. “This combination of rising hunger and slowing metabolism is a battle that we’re destined to lose over the long term,” he adds. In a dramatic study last year, researchers followed 14 contestants who had all lost big (most about 100 pounds) on The Biggest Loser, and they found this to be the case. Within six years, all but one of them had regained much or all of the weight they had lost because their metabolism stalled and their levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin plummeted.

Put fat back on your plate

The best way to break this fattening cycle is to replace processed carbs with healthy fats, argues Dr. Ludwig: “Fats don’t raise insulin at all, so they can be a key ally for weight loss.”

That idea, of course, contradicts decades of dietary advice. Americans have long been warned about the dangers of fat, since the nutrient contains more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates and proteins. By the math alone, replacing fat with carbs seems like a good idea—but it’s not. Studies have shown that people on a low-fat diet tend to lose less weight than people on a low-carbohydrate diet.

In another twist, eating healthy fats—the types that actually support the heart, like the omega-3s in tuna and the monounsaturated fat in olive oil—does not seem to cause weight gain. A trial published last year in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and fat for five years lost more weight than those who were told to eat low-fat. A related study showed that folks who followed a high-fat diet reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by about 30 percent, while those instructed to eat a low-fat diet did not.

“After hearing for 40 years how eating fat makes you fat and how we have to count calories to control our weight, people are afraid of foods that humans have enjoyed and viewed as healthy for hundreds of years, like olive oil, nuts, avocado, fatty fish, even dark chocolate,” says Dr. Ludwig. “These foods are among the most healthful foods in existence, even though they are loaded with calories.”

Real, natural foods with fiber, protein, and fat are so satisfying, you’ll naturally eat less of them, the new thinking goes. “If the meal contains all three, then the food will move more slowly through the GI tract,” says Mira Ilic, a clinical dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. When a food takes its time passing through the body, you feel fuller longer.

Instead of choosing a meal based on calories, Ilic advises picking foods from all three categories: one high in fiber, like a vegetable or whole grain; a protein source (think: chicken or salmon); and a healthy fat, like a salad with olive oil and chopped avocado.

Listen to your body’s cues

But it’s still possible to overdo it, even on healthy foods. The biggest temptations are typically peanut butter and almond butter—when you eat them by the spoonful—and whole avocados, says Ilic. She likes the “healthy plate” method of foolproof portion control: assembling half a plate of nonstarchy vegetables, which are automatically healthy; a quarter plate of protein; and a quarter plate of quality carbs, like whole grains or legumes. Foods with healthy fats will pop up in the protein and carb parts of the plate, and if you stick to that formula, you’ll be less likely to overeat them. After creating so well-rounded a meal, you’ll find it easier to keep the amount of good fat you add to it in check.

Another way to guard against overeating healthy-but-rich foods is to slow down at the table. “A lot of people are eating way too fast,” says Ilic. “It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to pick up on satiety, the fullness of the stomach, and you miss the cue of being full if you’re eating too quickly.”

Be present to shed pounds

Recent research found that when people did a short mindfulness exercise called a body scan meditation—in which you take stock of how you feel inside—they were better able to pick up on internal cues that signal hunger and fullness. People who are more mindful have also been shown to experience fewer weight fluctuations over time.

Even though eating quality calories will help you crave treats less, there’s still room for the occasional indulgence. Dr. Ludwig is a fan of dark chocolate, which has heart, brain, and satiety benefits. If that doesn’t do it for you, you can keep the occasional cookie in the mix. “After cleaning the metabolic slate and lowering their insulin, people may be able to enjoy pastries, pasta, etcetera in moderation,” says Dr. Ludwig. If you miss these foods, he recommends experimenting to see what you can handle before cravings are triggered. “For others whose metabolism doesn’t tolerate that as much, the benefits of being in control of hunger and not having to fight cravings will be much greater than the fleeting pleasures of those processed carbohydrates.”

As for Rabe, she ended her year of dodging calories by embarking on a new one in which she embraced fat and reduced sugar. She lost about as much weight while gaining leanness, strength, and a steadier stream of energy.

“I feel so much freer to not be restricted and obsessed over calories,” she says. “I’ve made some really major changes in the quality of my diet, and I feel I can sustain them.”

Best of all, ditching the meal math renewed her love for food, so much so that she started her own cooking blog.

Rabe says she’ll never go back to counting calories. “I’m internally motivated to eat the way I do, because I enjoy it,” she says. “I like the way I feel now.”

 

By Mandy Oaklander             May 26, 2017
 


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Fun Fact Friday

    • Neurologists claim that every time you resist acting on your anger, you’re actually rewiring your brain to be calmer and more loving.
    • Sleeping on the job is acceptable in Japan, as it’s viewed as exhaustion from working hard.
    • Thinking burns calories.
    • Cuddling triggers the same neurological reaction as taking painkillers.
    • Cotton Candy was invented by a dentist.
    • The brain treats rejection like physical pain, according to scientists.

 

anger
  • Dancing has been proven to build confidence and release stress.
  • 1.6 billion people – a quarter of humanity, live without electricity.
  • A banana is actually a berry and a strawberry isn’t.
  • Age is just a number, maturity is a choice.
  • 11% of the world is left-handed.
  • Regular sex enhances mental performance and increases the production of new neurons in the brain, according to researchers.
    Happy Friday  🙂
    source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Top 11 Most Common Nutrition Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Nutrition is full of misinformation.

Everyone seems to “know” what is right, most often based on zero evidence.

Here are the top 11 most common nutrition mistakes that people keep repeating.

1. Drinking Fruit Juice

Fruit juice isn’t always what it seems to be.

It is often little more than water mixed with sugar and some kind of fruit concentrate.

In many cases, there isn’t any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit.

But even IF you’re drinking real, 100% fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.

That’s because fruit juices like orange juice have just about the same amount of sugar as Coca Cola and Pepsi!

Fruit juice is like fruit, except with all the good stuff removed.

There is no fiber, no chewing resistance and nothing to stop you from downing massive amounts of sugar.

While whole fruits take a long time to eat and digest, it is easy to consume large amounts of fruit juice in a short amount of time. One glass of orange juice can contain the sugar equivalent of several whole oranges.

If you’re healthy, lean and active or you just ran a marathon, then you can probably tolerate fruit juice and other sources of sugar without problems.

However, the majority of people would do best minimizing all rapidly digested sugars, which can lead to insulin resistance and all sorts of serious diseases down the line.

So… eat your fruit (unless if you’re on a low-carb diet, which may require moderating them) but avoid fruit juice like the plague.

Bottom Line: Most fruit juices contain as much sugar as sugar-sweetened beverages. It is best to avoid them and choose whole fruits instead.

2. Not Reading Labels

Many of the marketers at the junk food companies are shameless liars.

They tend to put highly misleading labels on foods… convincing health conscious people to buy unhealthy junk foods for themselves and their children.

Because most people don’t know much about nutrition, they repeatedly fall for labels like “includes whole grains,” “low-fat” or “contains Omega-3s.”

Adding small amounts of healthy ingredients to an unhealthy, highly processed food does not make it healthy.

For example, tiny amounts of Omega-3s are not going to make up for the fact that a food contains large amounts of sugar.

So… it is important to read labels. Even health foods can contain sugar, refined wheat and other very harmful ingredients.

This also applies to children’s foods that are marketed as healthy… do NOT trust the food manufacturers, READ the label.

Bottom Line: It is important to read labels, even “health foods” can contain nasty ingredients like added sugar.

3. Eating Whole Wheat

Awareness of the harmful effects of refined wheat has increased dramatically in the past few decades.

However, whole wheat is often mistakenly assumed to be healthy.

The problem is that whole wheat usually isn’t “whole” … the grains have been pulverized into very fine flour.

This makes the grain rapidly digestible and it can spike blood sugar just as fast as its refined counterpart.

Wheat also contains large amounts of gluten, a protein that many people are sensitive to and can contribute to various adverse effects like digestive issues, pain, fatigue and stool inconsistency.

There are also multiple studies linking wheat consumption to serious diseases, including schizophrenia, autism and cerebellar ataxia. One study shows a dramatic increase in cholesterol for people eating whole wheat.

Saying that whole wheat is better than refined wheat is like saying that filtered cigarettes are better than unfiltered cigarettes.

Using that same logic, everyone should be smoking filtered cigarettes for the health benefits. It doesn’t make sense.

Bottom Line: Whole wheat is often mistakenly assumed to be healthy, but studies show that it can contribute to various symptoms and health issues.

4. Not Focusing on Real, Unprocessed Foods

When it comes to optimal health, people tend to get lost in the details. They miss the forest for the trees.

Even though “nutrition” as an academic discipline can be incredibly complicated, eating healthy can and should be simple!

Keep in mind that humans and pre-humans have managed to survive and be healthy for millions of years.

Yet, we only learned about calories, vitamins, macronutrients and all that stuff very recently. Knowing about this stuff has NOT made us healthier.

What healthy, non-industrial societies that maintain excellent health all have in common is that they eat real, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.

Multiple studies have examined such societies and noted almost a complete absence of Western, lifestyle-related diseases like obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it!

Bottom Line: It is most important to simply eat real, unprocessed foods. Avoid stuff that looks like it was made in a factory.

5. Not Eating Enough Protein

The health authorities advocate a relatively low protein intake.

They say that we should aim for about 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women.

However, even though this meager intake may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, it is not enough for optimal health.

nuts

Studies show that a higher protein intake can be beneficial for body composition, especially in people who are physically active.

Protein is also by far the most satiating macronutrient and your body expends quite a few calories metabolizing it. For this reason, adding protein to your diet can help you lose weight without even trying.

Bottom Line: Most people aren’t getting enough protein in their diet. Increased protein can enhance fat burning, reduce appetite and improve health in various ways.

6. Being Afraid of Eating Fat

Back in the 60s and 70s, many scientists believed that saturated fat was a leading cause of heart disease.

This idea formed the foundation of the low-fat, high-carb diet… which has been recommended to all Americans since the year 1977.

Since then, multiple studies have shown that the low-fat diet simply does not work. It doesn’t lead to weight loss or a lower risk of heart disease or cancer.

In the past few decades, many studies have examined the health effects of saturated fats.

They consistently show that these fats are harmless. They raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and change LDL (the “bad”) to a benign subtype. Saturated fat does NOT raise your risk of cardiovascular disease.

The fats to avoid are man-made trans fats and refined vegetable oils like corn, soybean and others.

There is no reason to avoid foods that are naturally high in saturated fat. This includes butter, coconut oil, eggs and red meat… these foods are perfectly healthy!

Bottom Line: Studies show that saturated fat is harmless and that the low-fat diet pushed by the mainstream nutrition organizations doesn’t work.

7. Throwing Away The Egg Yolks

“When life gives you eggs, you eat the damn yolks.”
– Mark Shields.

Nutrition professionals have an excellent track record of demonizing perfectly healthy foods.

Probably the worst example of that is eggs… which happen to contain a large amount of cholesterol.

Because of the cholesterol, people have been advised to reduce their consumption of eggs.

However, studies show that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t really raise cholesterol in the blood and that eggs do NOT increase your risk of heart disease.

What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, quality protein, healthy fats and various nutrients that are important for the eyes and brain.

Keep in mind that this applies to whole eggs only. The yolk is where almost all the nutrients reside, the white contains nothing but protein!

Throwing away the yolks and eating only the whites is just about the worst thing you could do.

Bottom Line: Eggs are incredibly nutritious, but most of the nutrients are found in the yolk. Despite being high in cholesterol, eggs do not raise the bad cholesterol in the blood or your risk of heart disease.

8. Thinking That All That Matters is Calories

There is a large misconception that all that matters for weight (and health for that matter) is calories.

Even though calories (the energy we take in and expend) are important, they are far from being the only thing that matters.

The truth is that different foods and macronutrients go through different metabolic pathways and can affect hunger and hormones in different ways.

Even though simple calorie counting and portion control work for a lot of people, many others fail using these methods.

For some people, it is much better to focus on the right foods and macronutrients to optimize your hunger and hormones to make your body want to lose weight.

Eating less sugar and carbohydrates with more protein and fat can help you lose weight without counting a single calorie.

Bottom Line: Weight loss and health are about much more than just calories. Different foods affect hunger, hormones and health in vastly different ways.

9. Cutting Back on Sodium

The nutrition organizations consistently tell us to reduce sodium in the diet.

This is supposed to lower blood pressure and reduce our risk of heart disease.

However, this doesn’t actually work.

Even though sodium restriction can cause mild reductions in blood pressure, studies show that this doesn’t lower the risk of heart disease, stroke or death.

Restricting sodium too much can even lead to adverse effects such as insulin resistance, as well as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.

The biggest source of sodium in the diet is processed food. If you’re already avoiding highly processed foods, then there’s no reason not to add some salt to your foods to make them palatable.

If the “experts” had their way… we’d all be eating bland, tasteless foods with zero evidence that it would actually lead to health benefits.

Bottom Line: Despite being able to mildly reduce blood pressure, sodium restriction doesn’t lead to improved health outcomes. Avoiding salt is completely unnecessary for most people.

10. Eating Too Many Meals

Many people seem to think that it is best to eat 5-6 small meals per day.

They say that you need breakfast in the morning to “jump start metabolism” and then eat regularly throughout the day to “stoke the metabolic flame.”

It is true that eating can raise your metabolic rate slightly while you’re digesting and metabolizing the food

However, it is the total amount of food you eat that matters, NOT the number of meals.

This myth has actually been tested and refuted repeatedly. Controlled trials where one group eats many, smaller meals and the other fewer, larger meals find no difference between groups.

The thing is… it’s not natural for the human body to be constantly in the “fed” state.

The human body is well equipped to handle short periods of famine and there are studies showing that a cellular repair process called autophagy starts to occur when we fast for a short while.

Bottom Line: Eating so frequently is completely unnecessary and highly inconvenient. There is no evidence that it leads to improved outcomes.

11. Eating Too Many “Health Foods”

Every passing year, more and more people are becoming “health conscious.”

For this reason… the market for so-called “health foods” has grown rapidly in the past few decades.

The marketers have taken notice and brought all sorts of foods that are supposed to be healthy to the market. On these foods, you will find labels like “organic” and “gluten-free.”

The problem with many of these foods is that they usually aren’t healthy at all. Organic sugar is still sugar and gluten-free junk food is still junk food.

It is best to avoid processed, packaged foods… even if they are found in the “health food” aisle.

If the packaging of a food tells you that it is healthy, then it probably isn’t.

By Kris Gunnars, BSc