This post could be a book. It seems there is so much ground to cover when talking about fact vs fiction when it comes to nutrition. Was eating always this complicated? Is it complicated? Why are we so obsessed with food and weight and nutrition?
It seems like it should be very simple, and it is, but it’s not easy, and there is a big difference.
There are so many ways to approach nutrition. I eat mainly to fuel my body and think of food in terms of how many miles of running, biking or swimming, can I get out of it. I also have fun with food and try not to take myself too seriously, indulging in desserts and libations pretty much every weekend.
The following is about food in general, and how the average person approaches food, without thought to athletic training or weight loss.
#1 – I SHOULD CUT OUT ‘X’ FROM MY DIET
The major offenders here are usually sugar, carbs and gluten. If you’re cutting out one of these for a set period of time, like 21 or 30 days, with specific goals in mind, there is probably no harm. If you think you can live the rest of your life without eating sugar, whole grains (unless you have celiac disease) or carbohydrates, not only is that absurd, it’s unhealthy.
If you do not have celiac disease, eat wheat. I know some people feel better when they don’t eat it, which obviously is great but, it should not be used as a weight loss tool. Plus, have you tried gluten-free bread? It’s more flavorful and satisfying to eat the plate it comes on.
Fact: All foods and food groups are healthy when eaten in moderation. If you embark on a 30 day diet which excludes a macronutrient (like carbs), have a plan to work it back into your diet.
Articles worth reading on sugar and carbs:
Sugar’s Siren Song Deciphered | Science Daily
- Sugar’s sweetness and calorie content combine to give it lethal power to destroy diets, many scientists have assumed. However, a new study suggests that the brain responds to taste and calorie counts in fundamentally different ways. And only one of these responses explains why most New Years’ resolutions have already disappeared under a deluge of Boston Crème Pies.
Carbs are the most important source of energy for your body. Your body will break down carbs into glucose (the sugar found in your blood), and your blood helps transport this fuel all over your body to provide the energy you need to do everything from run and jump to sit and sleep.
#2 – FULL FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS ARE LINKED TO OBESITY AND HEART DISEASE
This was shocking to me as well so hear me out. We all know that high-fat dairy products are among the richest sources of saturated fat and have a ton of calories, which is why most of us eat low-fat or fat-free yogurt and milk products. However, several studies do not support the findings that eating high-fat, high-calorie dairy causes weight gain or increased risk of heart disease.
Some, in fact, claim the opposite:
“In terms of obesity, we found no support for the notion that low-fat dairy is healthier,” says Dr. Mario Kratz, first author of the review and a nutrition scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Of the 25 studies included in his team’s review, Kratz says 18 reported lower body weights, less weight gain, or a lower risk for obesity among full-fat dairy eaters. The other seven studies were inconclusive. “None of the research suggested low-fat dairy is better,” he says.
In my very first call with my nutritionist, he told me to eat full-fat greek yogurt and whole milk. Now, I’m very excited about the yogurt but not sure I can do full fat milk. I started drinking 2% and will go from there. Baby steps.
Articles worth reading on full-fat dairy:
FACT: “What we do know is that fat is not the enemy. Fat is good for us. It provides satiety, that feeling of fullness. It helps us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. So it’s good for us for several reasons. However, the fat that’s found in dairy is saturated fat, which may not be the best fat out there. There’s other, healthier fats like monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 3s. Having fat in dairy is one piece of the whole nutrition puzzle, you have to look at, what else are you eating? What is the entire picture?”
#3 – MARATHON TRAINING MAKES ME GAIN WEIGHT
FACT! *well, it can be a fact
I have heard this, seen it and read about it many times. I can tell you from personal experience that I definitely did not lose any weight when training for two marathons in 2015 and I absolutely lost weight when training for duathlon (run, bike, run) nationals and worlds the previous year.
Possible reasons for weight gain (or no weight loss) during marathon training include increased muscle mass (although don’t count on this one!), storing more sugar, eating more calories then you’re burning (because running all those miles makes you ravenous!) and too many “extra” calories in the form of gels, energy drinks and bars.
Marathon training is also about LSD or long, slow distance mileage. If you’re gunning for a personal record then you will probably do more calorie torching sessions that involve speed and/or hill workouts. However, the majority of your training will most likely involve miles and miles of running at a pace you can sustain over 26.2 miles, which equates to a slow burn.
Articles worth reading on marathon training and weight gain:
Why You Might Gain Weight Training for the Marathon | Runner’s Connect
“I shower up and head out to the local bar for the 12pm Packer game. I am starving and feeling like I deserve a treat so I order a basket of boneless buffalo wings and fries. This could be anywhere from 800-1000 calories, depending on if I am in a sharing mood. Add in the ranch dipping sauce and we are talking another 200-300 calories. Now let’s add the 3-4 pints of beer (Miller Lite because I am “health conscious” and from Milwaukee): another 400-500 calories. Grand total? 1400-1800 calories
During my 20 miler I burned about 1600 calories.”
How to Avoid Marathon-Training Weight Gain | Runner’s World
“…weren’t you working out hardcore before you started marathon training? And wasn’t your body accustomed to the calorie burn in the first place? We runners are fine-tuned machines, but not so fine-tuned that our bodies become hypermetabolic once the “marathon training” switch is activated. In other words, you don’t get to eat loads more just because you are in training and now running consistent mileage.”
FACT: You are most likely training harder and longer for a marathon then you have in the past. Just as you have a marathon training plan, have a plan on how to fuel your body properly. Do some research and be prepared for post-long run with healthy and satiating options and don’t count on marathon training for weight loss.
#4 – I NEED TO DRINK ‘X’ AMOUNT OF WATER PER DAY
This is my favorite argument because my husband drinks a ton of water and I don’t. We constantly “discuss” which method is better and obviously mine is. I don’t see any swords hanging out near his desk. Anyway…
The recommendation of 8 glasses of 8 ounces per day somehow became a golden rule. Most of us know by now that there is also a danger (called hyponatremia) in drinking too much water. So, how do we know how much we need?
Drink when you are thirsty. *MIND BLOWN*
Seriously, that is pretty much it. Of course how thirsty you are depends on a plethora of factors including sex (meaning male or female not actual sex but I guess that could be a game changer?), training intensity, weight, environmental conditions, age and diet.
Also, let’s not forget how much water is contained in some foods. Obviously watermelon is very hydrating as is lettuce, celery, strawberries and cucumbers.
Articles worth reading on hydration:
10 Ways to Stay Hydrated (That Are Not Water) | Daily Burn
“[8 glasses of 8 oz a day] It’s not the recommendation,” she says. “But it’s also not that far off. For women, it’s about 11 cups and for men it’s about 15 cups. But remember, that includes 20 percent from food.”
How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day? | Medical Daily
“Harvard recommends drinking 30 to 50 ounces a day, which is equivalent to approximately four to six glasses of water. However, the team isn’t just recommending water to drink at this optimal standard, but fluids in general to aid in hydration.”
Hopefully you are not more confused then before reading this post. As with most things, when it comes to nutrition, listen to your body. Most often it will tell you exactly what it needs.
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Right now mine is telling me I need a Bloody Mary because it’s Wednesday and I had a root canal yesterday. Don’t worry, there are nutrients in the vegetable juice, the celery stick is very hydrating and the olive is full of healthy fat. Cheers!
Do you have any to add to my list?
Any challengers out there?