It’s the start of a new year, and you want to make some healthy changes — beginning with your diet. Which nutrition trends are truly beneficial, and which are simply misconceptions?
NoVA-based nutritionist Romy Nathan debunks some diet myths and weighs in on the nutrition trends you should implement.
DO NOT: Eliminate complete food or macronutrient groups
“When starting out with a new diet or eating plan, people will often start off by trying to eliminate entire food groups, typically complex carbs or avoiding all added sugar,” says Nathan.
And often times, this nutrition trend tends to backfire because generally, this is not sustainable, she says.
“It’s one thing if you have an allergy or a true intolerance, but this is not usually something that you can keep up with forever,” Nathan says.
While added sugar is definitely something you should try not to consume in excess, Nathan says there is often a misconception surrounding carbs.
“People tend to think that eating carbs causes you to gain weight, but this is not necessarily true,” she says. “Carbs don’t cause you to gain any more weight than any other macronutrient.”
Carbs simply just tend to hold more water weight in the body.
“People often think, ‘Oh, if I just avoid eating carbs, then that will help me lose weight,’ but as soon as you have a splurge back on carbs, you will likely gain back that water weight.”
Keep in mind that grains and other complex carbs are important as far and getting nutrients and fiber in your diet, as well as healthy sources of necessary vitamins, says Nathan. “They also help with satiety and maintaining a healthy gut as our gut bacteria feeds off of fiber.”
DO NOT: Eat too much protein
Another common thing that people tend to do when they are trying to eat healthier is to add a ton of protein to their meals.
“Many people seem to have this idea that they need to eat a lot of protein at one time. I’ll see people having 35 to 40 grams of protein at one meal and then skipping other meals, and this is just not beneficial,” says Nathan.
The human body can only use about 20 to 25 grams of protein at a time, Nathan says.
“If you want to focus on building muscle, you would be better off having around 25 grams of protein every four hours,” she says. “That way, your body can actually maximize the protein you’re taking in.”
Otherwise, it just ends up getting stored or going to waste, Nathan adds.
DO NOT: Skip out on breakfast/healthy snacks
It’s the million-dollar question. Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Nathan says she sees people skipping it far too often.
“I see a lot of people making the mistake of skipping breakfast, having a little protein with lunch, and then a ton of protein at one time at dinner, and then nothing before bed,” she says.
But you could utilize your protein intake better if you space it out across your day, starting with breakfast and ending with an evening snack before bed, Nathan says.
Allowing enough time between eating and intaking the proper amount of protein can ensure you are maximizing your nutritional benefits.
DO NOT: Rely on supplements
Supplements are great when you have a medical reason to have to eliminate a food group or have a vitamin deficiency, but it’s important to make sure you understand what something is and why you are taking it, says Nathan.
And be sure that you are not relying on them as a way to be “healthy,” she adds.
“People sometimes tend to overdo it with supplements and make the mistake of thinking that they are being healthy just because they are getting their vitamins,” Nathan says. “It’s important to remember that you should rely on getting nutrients straight from food sources whenever possible.”
DO: Frontload your calories
“It’s beneficial to frontload your calories earlier in the day, rather than waiting to have your largest meal at dinnertime,” says Nathan.
In other words, eat breakfast.
“Many people tend to eat their heaviest meal at dinnertime, but if you consume more of your calories in the morning and at lunch rather than dinner, then you have the whole day where you are moving around and burning calories off rather than after dinner when people tend to sit around and relax more.”
Eating more calories earlier in the day also helps with having sustained energy levels throughout the day.
And it’s very easy to put breakfast together or meal prep the night before, Nathan says.
DO: Incorporate plant-based meals
Adding some plant-based meals into your rotation is one of the nutrition trends you should try, says Nathan.
“Keep in mind, you don’t need to go vegetarian and never have meat,” Nathan says. “Meat has its benefits, too. It’s just that the more plants and fruits and legumes that you can introduce into your diet, the more beneficial it will be to your overall health.”
Plant-based meals have been shown to be helpful for your cardiovascular health, weight control, blood pressure, and diabetes prevention.
“Maybe if you’re currently eating no meatless meals, just try incorporating two or three per week for lunch or dinner and go from there,” says Nathan. “Following the Mediterranean diet is a great way of doing this.”
Feature image courtesy nadianb/stock.adobe.com
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