Somewhere in the last 30 or so years we’ve let Big Food and Big Pharma with the nod from Big Government convince us that the human body doesn’t know how to be healthy on its own and we need them to tell us what is best for us. Along with that information came the idea that being overweight and sick is normal and, for good measure, our own fault because we are lacking motivation and willpower. And by listening to them we’ve only gotten sicker and fatter.
Let’s look at three health myths we’ve been sold and what the real outcomes are:
Myth # 1 – Fake sweeteners will save us from obesity
Truth – Various fake sweeteners are associated with migraine risk, insulin resistance (which leads to diabetes), irritable bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. And because your body was expecting calories due to the sweetness and didn’t get calories, it makes you go ahead and eat more calories later than you otherwise would have. So, they don’t help with the obesity issue after all.
What to do instead – Blackstrap molasses and date sugar. They both have calories and should only be used sparingly and to encourage us to eat real, whole, plant foods. But they do have some nutritional value.
Myth # 2 – Low fat will save us from heart disease
Truth – When we were told that fat was making us fat and killing us with heart disease, we listened and suddenly anything with “low-fat” splashed across the package became synonymous with “healthy.” Unfortunately, often sugar was added to make up for the lost flavor and in the case of dairy products, reducing the fat content increased the percentage of protein. Milk protein has been linked to cancer promotion. Thirty + years on we are fatter and heart disease is killing more of us than ever.
What to do instead: The issue isn’t “fat” across the board. It is the saturated fats found in animal-based products (meat, dairy, eggs) and processed plant fats (oil). Become a flexitarian (eating meat only once maybe twice a week) and you reduce your risk of heart disease by 27%. Vegetarian (no meat) and you can drop your risk 53%. Go vegan (no meat, dairy or eggs) and your risk drops 61%. But what if you go whole-food plant-based (no meat, dairy or eggs, plus minimize oils and sugar, AND eat high fat plants like nuts)? Now your risk of dying of heart disease drops a striking 80%! Need we say it? Eat whole-food plants!
Myth # 3 – Eating carbs* is making us fat
Truth – The human body burns carbs as fuel and is very inefficient at converting carbs to fat. If carbs are stored, they are stored as glycogen and then burned as heat. However, the animal protein and fat you’ve been putting on your carbs (think, loaded baked potato) are easily stored as fat. Your brain needs about 500 calories of carbs a day. It’s the only fuel your brain can burn. Going low-carb, which by definition means high-fat and high-protein, stresses the human system. Sure, you can lose weight in the short-term because you’re cutting calories. But going low-carb is mortgaging your future health for short-term weight loss. It’s not good for humans, no matter what fancy, fad-diet name is used.
What to do instead – Humans thrive on a diet that is about 85% whole-food starch (carbs). Fill your belly to your heart’s content with root veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes, grains like brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa and legumes (beans, peas, etc). They will fill you up, keep you satisfied and keep your brain running like a champ. And you’ll likely reach and maintain your ideal weight without ever feeling deprived.
*Note: Not all carbs are equal. We are talking here about whole-food plant carbs. All bets are off if you fill up on processed carbs that are loaded with sugar like cakes, cookies, and donuts. I don’t want to hear, “Well RnR said carbs were good” as an excuse to eat half a birthday cake.
The bottom line – You can’t trick the human body. Chemicals meant to mimic food, aren’t food and they are going to cause problems. Hunger is an engrained survival instinct. You cannot make a lifestyle of depriving yourself. Give your body the right fuel and it will take really good care of you.
Are you ready to take back control of your health? Book a consultation with Dr Robyn today to outline where you are and how to get started. Your health is your responsibility.
Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.