Rob: Myth #1: It is best to eat many, small meals throughout the day.
Dr. Kevin: It is often suggested that people should eat many, small meals throughout the day to keep their metabolism high or to prevent hunger or to stop blood sugar from crashing or to lose weight.
Studies clearly disagree with this. Eating 2-3 meals per day has the exact same effect on total calories burned as eating 5-6 (or more) smaller meals (British Journal of Nutrition 1997, 2010).
Eating frequently may have benefits for some people (like preventing excessive hunger), but it is incorrect to believe that this affects the amount of calories we burn.
There are even studies showing that eating too often can be harmful… a new study came out recently showing that more frequent meals dramatically increased liver and abdominal fat. (Hepatology May 2014).
Eating frequently throughout the day tends to perpetuate blood sugar and insulin dysregulation thereby causing the individual to move closer towards Type II diabetes.
Rob: And we were talking earlier on how frequent meals may actually cause weight gain….
Dr. Kevin: That’s right Rob new research (Cell Metabolism Dec. 2014) done on rats showed that those that ate at all hours, frequently throughout the day became obese and metabolically unwell compared to rats that ate the same amount of calories but limited the eating to a 12 hour period daily. Those rats maintained a lean body mass. This is what I have found in my practice….
Rob: Myth #2: Eggs should be avoided because they are high in cholesterol, which promotes heart disease.
Dr. Kevin: We’ve been advised to cut back on whole eggs because the yolks are high in cholesterol. However, cholesterol in the diet has remarkably little effect on cholesterol in the blood, at least for the majority of people.
Studies have shown that eggs raise the “good” cholesterol and don’t raise risk of heart disease (Clinical Nutrition in Metabolic Care Jan. 2006). An excerpt from this study states… ”We need to acknowledge that diverse healthy populations experience no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol but, in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by the inclusion of eggs in their regular diet”.
One review of 17 studies with a total of 263,938 participants showed that eating eggs had no effect on the risk of heart disease or stroke. In addition, people with higher egg consumption had a 25% lower risk of developing hemorrhagic stroke.
Whole eggs really are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks.
Telling people to throw the yolks away is outrageous. Eggs are also satiating….
Rob: Myth #3 Salt causes high blood pressure and should be avoided.
Dr. Kevin: In the 1940s, a Duke University researcher named Walter Kempner, M.D., became famous for using salt restriction to treat people with high blood pressure. Later, studies confirmed that reducing salt could help reduce hypertension.
Large-scale scientific reviews have determined there’s no reason for people with normal blood pressure to restrict their sodium intake. If you already have high blood pressure, you may be “salt sensitive.” As a result, reducing the amount of salt you eat could be helpful although most people only see a very minor decrease in blood pressure with a sodium reduced diet. Studies show on average lowering salt can reduce blood pressure by 1-5 mm/Hg, but it is important to note that it doesn’t have any effect on reducing heart attacks, strokes or death
Rob: But salt can make you puffy and cause you to retain fluid can’t it?
Dr. Kevin: Yes it can if you ingest very large amounts of it or if you are one of those few “salt sensitive” people.
It’s also been known for the past 20 years that people with high blood pressure who don’t want to lower their salt intake can simply consume more potassium-containing foods. Why? – Because it’s the balance between the two minerals that matters. In fact, Dutch researchers determined that a low potassium intake has the same impact on your blood pressure as high salt consumption does. And it turns out, the average person consumes 3,100 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day—1,600 mg less than recommended. So eat more of the healthy potassium-rich fruits such as oranges, avocados, grapes, blackberries, tomatoes, artichokes, lima beans, acorn squash, carrots and spinach. Other high-potassium foods include all meats, sunflower seeds, almonds, chicken and some fish, including salmon, cod and flounder. If you are still not getting enough potassium one can take a potassium supplement.
Rob: I noticed you left bananas out of that list – they are high in potassium aren’t they?
Dr. Kevin: You’re right Rob but they are generally an unhealthy fruit to eat so that’s why I left them out.
Rob: Myth #4: Eating Fat Makes You Fat… so if You Want to Lose Weight, You Need to Eat Less Fat
Fat is the tissue that is under our skin, making us look soft and puffy if we have too much of it. Therefore it seems logical that eating fat would give us even more of it. However, this depends entirely on the context. Diets that are high in fat AND carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat.
In fact, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets… even when the low-fat groups restrict calories. (New England Journal of Medicine May 2003) Severely obese subjects with a high prevalence of diabetes or the metabolic syndrome lost more weight during six months on a carbohydrate-restricted diet than on a calorie- and fat-restricted diet, with a relative improvement in insulin sensitivity and triglyceride levels, even after adjustment for the amount of weight lost. Another study published in Obesity Reviews (12 Aug. 2008) showed the same results and also indicated that BP was also reduced in the carbohydrate reduced group.
Rob: Fat has more calories than protein and carbohydrates so doesn’t that mean that fats will increase your total caloric intake and therefore you will have to exercise more after eating equal amounts of fats versus carbohydrates?
Dr. Kevin: Technically that is true Rob – if you are young and have no blood sugar issues this is probably true however being that over half of the North American population has blood sugar dysregulation in some form – especially as we age – then this statement has to be revamped. This is where we see that the old adage “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” is just not true. And the reason all comes down to insulin – insulin is elevated in the body by sugars, starches and caffeine. When insulin is elevated it promotes fat deposition. Fat and protein have virtually no effect on raising insulin levels unless eaten in very large quantities frequently. Fat tends to be very satiating so we tend to feel full faster we eating fats.
Rob: Myth #5: The only people who should eat gluten-free are those with celiac disease, which is only about 1% of the population
Dr. Kevin: It is often claimed that no one benefits from a gluten-free diet except patients with celiac disease. This is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, affecting around 1% of North Americans
However another condition called gluten sensitivity is much more common and is said to affect about 6-8% of people. Studies have also shown that gluten-free diets can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (Am. J of Gastroenterology Mar. 2011), schizophrenia (British Journal of Psychiatry 1969), autism (Nutritional Neuroscience Sept. 2003) and epilepsy (European Journal of Epilepsy, Feb. 1998).
However… people should eat foods that are naturally gluten free (like vegetables, fruits nuts, seeds and meats), not gluten-free “products.” Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.
Some new studies suggest that it may be other compounds in wheat that cause some of the digestive problems, not the gluten itself. Many people just feel better on a gluten or grain free diet so try it and see how you feel!