There is a lot of misinformation in the fitness world when it comes to nutrition and what you should and should not be doing. I’m here today to debunk a few of the most common myths that are floating around in space.
You need to eat first thing in the morning since your body is depleted from sleeping.
False. People in the fitness game are always talking about how you need carbs to restore glycogen when you wake up, since it’s all been depleted and you are going to lose muscle. Glycogen, or carbohydrate energy stored in the body, is found in your muscles, but also in your liver. So, liver glycogen is depleted overnight, sure, but that’s okay – your muscles are fine. They didn’t do anything to use their glycogen stores unless you ran a marathon in your sleep. Eat when you feel like it, no need to wake up and eat five packets of oatmeal with egg whites immediately upon rising.
You need to eat every two hours while dieting to keep your metabolism high, and burn more fat.
I hear this one all the time, and it will probably never die. If you’ve ever even considered going on a diet, you’ve probably heard that you need to be eating small meals every 2-3 hours to “stoke the metabolic fire” or something along those lines. This is absolutely not true.
Eating every 2 hours may keep you full and help you get into a routine, which may help you stick to your diet. It could also stress you out, greatly increase the amount of time you spend prepping and eating meals, and make you panic if you miss a meal.
In 1997, a thorough review of all relevant research showed that 24-hour energy expenditure was not affected by meal frequency; there was no difference in energy expenditure with either nibbling or gorging. (Bellisle, McDevitt, Prentice). So sure, if you want to carry your Tupperware around all day and eat chicken and rice every two hours, knock yourself out. Just know that ultimately, it’s all about the total amount of food you’re taking in every day, regardless of how you spread it out.
Your body can only absorb 30 grams of protein at a time.
It takes a long time for your body to clear the stomach, especially from whole food sources. If you eat a big meal, chances are you’ll stay full for a few hours at least. Say you eat a nice big steak. As your digestive system works to break this down, it doesn’t measure out 30 grams of protein, and immediately throw the rest out for processing.
If your goal is to build muscle, you probably want to spread that protein out throughout the day, but if you take in more than 30 grams at a time, it’s not being wasted.
Eating carbs at night makes you fat.
This is false. You can eat carbohydrates whenever you want, though they will be most useful around exercise time. If you want to optimize your fat loss or performance, then sure, you probably don’t want to be eating pints of ice cream every night before bed.
Just like with meal timing, however, research has shown no differences in results between groups spreading their carbs out, and groups eating all their carbs right before bed.
Now, I wouldn’t say you should be saving all your carbs for right before bed, but if you have some leftover in your daily allotment, and it’s past 6pm or whenever the hell the magical cutoff time is supposed to be, it won’t kill you to eat them.
[Image via Shutterstock]
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