January 31, 2016

Common Food Misconceptions

One of my goals this year, and in my every day life, is to always be expanding my talents. So for that reason I've been watching a lot of The Bachelor episodes because I think that is a talent that I really have to offer this world.

Just kidding.
If you don't watch the bachelor a) You're missing out b) You are wondering what this chick is doing with her mouth (actually we all wonder that). c) You have not come to know the craziness of one Olivia Caridi, the bachelor villain disguised as a pretty and normal news anchor in episode 1, later to be revealed as the mean crazy chick. There's always gotta be one. 

Anyway. I want to continue to write and be better about doing it regularly. So even though blogs are a thing of 2011 and Instagram is life, I'm back at it kids. I would also like to say that the way I type while blogging has significantly changed since the popularity of emojis in every day text has skyrocketed. It's hard for me to type a sentence without wanting to insert a face, or maybe a dancing person, or maybe even a taco. Currently I want to insert the "I'm kind of scared or in trouble face"… you know, the one with the teeth showing. Yeah I know you know what I'm talking about you little emoji addict.

And with that little intro, here it is.

Obviously you know that health and fitness are a major part of my life. It has been and continues to be a journey. I used to always admire those who lived a healthy and active lifestyle but I never thought that I could be that person. I pretty much thought those people were a special breed of people who were born in a field of kale, and unfortunately I was just born in a regular old hospital. But I've realized that "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day" (one of my favorite quotes by Richard G. Scott.)

I made this just for you because this quote is THAT GOOD.

I didn't wake up one day and all of a sudden I was the way I am. I continue to learn new things, make changes in my life, and over time those things become a part of my lifestyle. Consistency becomes character.

So I wanted to write about some of the misconceptions about food, health, and fitness that are common but that over time I have learned are false. Some of these I learned fairly quickly, but others it took me a few years to learn or find out so consider this your shortcut to being born in a field of kale. For today's post I'm just going to focus on common food misconceptions and I'll follow up with a post about fitness misconceptions in a later post.

Misconception #1. Eating fats makes you fat.

Why it's wrong: For a long time the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) told us that fats were the contributors to obesity, diabetes, and many other diseases. Because of that, people turned away from fats and turned towards high amounts of refined carb, processed foods and sugar.  In addition, companies began making low or non fat products that were filled with chemicals to replace the fat that they were getting rid of. Long story short- the FDA was wrong in pointing fingers at fats.

As soon as I started doing research on this and realized that I too was guilty of a fat fear, I began to add fats back into my diet and that was seriously life changing. I have always struggled with low energy that would hit me at random times of the day. Once I started incorporating fats back into my diet, I had so much more energy that lasted all day. In addition, my body leaned out big time (in combination with adding more protein- see #2). Fats keep you fuller for longer, keep your blood sugars stable, contribute greatly to brain function, and so many other great things.

Keep in mind that there are good quality and bad quality fats. Trans fats (found in a lot of baked goods and fast food) are bad. Hydrogenated oils are bad (one of the biggest culprits is peanut butter! So many PBs contain hydrogenated oils, but many don't.  Look at the ingredients. My favorite is the Smart Balance Natural Peanut Butter.) Some examples of good fats are those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, butter, and even grass fed beef. Did someone say hamburgers? *hamburer emoji, heart eyes emoji*

Initially it's hard to train yourself to see these foods as good because for so long we have been told to avoid them. But over time you will be ok with shoving 3 tablespoons of peanut butter in your face. I don't mind it one bit.

For more information on fats, here is a good article.

Misconception #2. Getting too much protein will make you bulky or gain weight.

Why it's wrong: This one goes hand in hand with the fats portion of this post. Protein and fats lead to satiety, or in everyday terms- they make you feel full and satisfied. This leads to not eating 4 bowls of cereal because 1 bowl leaves you feeling hangry. Don't be a protein skeptic!

When I first started CrossFit I knew I probably needed some sort of protein supplement. I remember researching what proteins or how much will or will not make me bulky or make me gain weight. This is not even an issue. We as women don't have the testosterone to make ourselves bulky simply by drinking protein shakes. In fact, most women get significantly less protein than their bodies need. But again thanks to the trusty FDA, we have been fooled for a long time.

I can't tell you exactly how much protein you need because that varies from person to person. Many fitness sources will tell you that 0.5-1.0 grams per pound of body weight is a good range. However that is quite a big and vague range. That would put someone that weighs 130 pound at either having 65 grams of protein or double that- 130 grams of protein. Those are two very different numbers. So I'll tell you what has worked for me and that is 1 to 1.1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. That's a lot of protein and it's a daily struggle to reach that number, but it has worked miracles in toning my body.

Do yourself a big favor and for 3 days track what you eat and then calculate how many grams of protein you are getting. You're most likely going to be surprised at just how little you get! Protein will help you in your fitness journey. I promise! It was absolutely the biggest game changer for me.

And because I get questions about this a lot, I use Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein from either bodybuilding.com or allstarhealth.com. There are 7,312 flavors. at least. You can also buy it from Costco for a great deal, but like anything at Costco it's massive. and they also only carry 1 or 2 flavors (vanilla or chocolate.)

I drink my protein after a workout, for breakfast if I am in a rush, or sometimes throughout the day if I just need to add in some extra protein. Always pair any protein with a source of carbs and a source of fat! For example a scoop of protein mixed with water (or milk), a half a banana, and some peanut butter obvi. I rarely eat a meal or even a snack that doesn't have a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats (see #4)

Other good go-to sources of protein for me on a daily basis:
Chicken or any kind of meat (cooked in various ways depending on my mood. aka my level of laziness)
Deli meat
Babybel cheese
Premier protein chocolate shakes (such an easy 30 grams of protein. Can also be found at Costco.)
Cottage cheese (I currently can't eat it for health reasons but it's a great source if you're able to eat dairy)

Misconception #3. Counting (and limiting) calories is the best way to lose weight.
Why it's wrong: In my opinion, there are 2 main reasons why counting calories is not the best way to get into shape:

1. 1200 calories a day is neither healthy nor sustainable. This is a typical calorie range for a lot of people who decide they want to lose weight. The ultimate goal is to make your healthy living a lifestyle, not a diet. Restricting your calories results in yo-yo dieting. You lose the weight because you're most likely cutting your calories significantly, but then you're hungry all the time and you get burnt out, so you go back to your regular diet and gain the weight back. This is yo-you dieting and this isn't what we want.

2. Not all calories are created equal. A 1/2 cup of almonds has 260 calories while a twinkie has 270 calories. So technically on this calorie train, I could eat about 5 twinkies a day and stay in my 1200 calorie goal range and be healthy right?

This is why it's important to not get hung up on calories. Much more beneficial, healthy, and sustainable than counting calories is counting your macronutrients.

I'll give you a quick rundown of what this means if you don't already know. The 3 macronutrients your body needs through your diet are proteins, fats, and carbs. There are multiple online calculators that can tell you approximately how much of each of these 3 macros you need per day. This will vary on your height/weight, your level of activity, and your goals (are you trying to lose weight, gain muscle, etc).

For example my current macro goals are 30% Protein, 35% Fats and 35% Carbs. What this means is that on a daily basis, 30% of my food intake should be protein, 35% should be fats, and 35% should be carbs. I input what I eat in the app called MyFitnessPal (it's free!) which then shows me where I'm at in relation to my goal percentages. The goal is to meet those percentage goals at the end of each day. Here is a great resource to show you how to set up with MyFitnessPal. It also has links to a few different macro calculators.

When you first dive into calculating your macros it can be intimidating. But check out the link I gave above (and the additional links she provides as well) and you'll begin to understand it more. I promise that this is so much more beneficial than counting calories! Your macro needs may change over time and this is where listening to your body comes in. Everyone's needs are different. Everyone's body responds differently to food. There's no one size fits all for macros so find your percentages, stick to them for a few weeks, and see how you feel.

Misconception #4. The things you read online are the the bible truths of fitness.

Why it's wrong: The reason we have certain misconceptions about the way we eat is because we listen to what other people tell us about our body more than we listen to our own bodies. As I said before, fitness and health are not a one size fits all approach. It depends on your body, your metabolism, your goals, your genetics- there are so many factors involved! You may find on one website that you should never ever ever eat egg yolks, and then find on another website the exact opposite opinion. The fact of the matter is that there are so many factors involved in the human body and so many factors involved in research. Just because one study came to a certain result and it happened to be published in the media does not necessarily make it true. In fact oftentimes when the results have been the same for the past 40 studies, and then one researcher finds a different result the media goes crazy and publishes the new results as complete truth. It may be, but it may not be. This is where listening to your own body and evaluating different studies for yourself comes in.

I hope you guys found this info somewhat helpful. I love helping people who are lost in the world of health because I've been there (and I'm still learning every day). It can be overwhelming. There's so much conflicting information and sometimes you just don't know where to even start. Start where you are, do what you can (Pretty sure that's another general conference quote. Are you allowed to use those when talking about diet? I hope so. *scared emoji face. again.*) If you have any questions let me know!