Advice for how to eat, exercise, rest, and anything else related to health and fitness is everywhere. Sometimes it's hard to know what to trust. To clear up some of that confusion, Dr. Emily Cooper of Seattle Performance Medicine shared her tips for how to eat right and get healthy.
First, Dr. Cooper busted some common food myths.
Myth: Carbs will make you fat and are bad for your health.
Facts: Carbohydrates actually keep our metabolism strong, give us energy and improve testosterone levels in men. Our brains run completely on carbs, so they help mood and thinking.
Carbs are stored largely with water in muscles, so weight loss on low carb diets is actually water weight that causes muscles to dehydrate.
Carbohydrates prevent us from burning up muscles for energy. We need a minimum of 3 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight per day if sedentary, and 6 grams per kilogram if active.
Myth: Eating fats will make you fat.
Facts: The brain and nervous system are made of fat. Hormones are built from fat. Fat helps keep blood sugar balanced and acts as long-acting fuel throughout the day. We need about 1 gram of fat per kilogram of body weight per day.
Myth: High protein diets are the best.
Facts: Higher-than-required protein does not build more muscle or burn more fat. Protein is needed for muscles, bones, ligaments, and the immune system, but it doesn't burn cleanly as a fuel source and produces toxic waste products that are more difficult for the kidneys to process than carbs. We need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Myth: You should never eat after dinner.
Facts: Eating after dinner does not make you store more fat. Going to bed hungry could actually slow your metabolism and interfere with sleep. However, for some, eating close to bedtime could aggravate reflux symptoms.
Myth: Snacks are off limits.
Fact: Snacks help balance blood sugar and keep metabolism strong through the day. They keep the brain fueled and muscles ready for exercise.
Myth: If you don't eat before workouts, you'll lose weight and burn more fat.
Facts: Not eating before workouts does not lead to lower body weight or more fat loss. Eating before workouts actually helps increase the metabolic rate and provides energy for muscles to burn more fuel during exercise.
Fat burned during exercise is not from body fat. It is from droplets of fat stored as fuel to use by the body during exercise.
Tips for health and nutrition:
- Follow the food pyramid with modifications for higher fat intake, more legumes and whole grains
- Balanced eating of all food groups
- Choose whole foods over processed foods whenever possible
- Be flexible and enjoy food
- Eat frequently throughout the day (every 3-4 hours) to keep blood sugar balanced and energy up