3 Common Diet Myths – And How to Beat Them | STACK Fitness
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

3 Common Diet Myths – And How to Beat Them

December 15, 2012 | Chris Hitchko

Must See Nutrition Videos


I’ve been training athletes for a long time. Along the way, I’ve heard plenty of diet and exercise advice, some of it good, lots of it bad. And perhaps no field is more full of nonsense than nutrition.

After all, how many times have you heard about a “magic” eating plan that will cause you to drop extra pounds, get that shredded midsection you’ve always wanted, and pack on pure muscle? Probably too many to count. And too often, people who try these methods wind up failing. Why? Because the plan they followed was based on a bad idea to begin with.

I could probably write a book about all of the diet myths I’ve heard, but here are the three worst—along with real solutions you should follow instead.

Myth: You should eat a specific (and small) number of calories each day.

Although the numbers may change (I’ve heard people say that women should eat as few as 1,200 calories a day, and 1,500 calories for men), the gist of this advice is the same: you need to restrict yourself to X or Y calories—no more, no matter what. Always be skeptical of plans that prescribe a specific calorie number. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition. How is it that a 5'5" 150-pound male should eat the same amount of calories as a 6'2" 200-pound male? It simply makes no sense.

Reality: Your eating habits should be based on your hunger levels.

While it can be helpful to have a ballpark estimate of how many calories your body needs in a day (here’s a quick way to calculate that number), proper eating is simple: if you are hungry, eat. Just make sure the foods you eat are healthy, like a meal consisting of a lean protein and veggies, or an apple with almond butter as a snack. Try and quash your cravings by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Find the right combination that works for you; just try to make sure the majority of the calories you take in come from whole, non-processed foods.

Myth: You should never eat__________(insert food group here).

Diets that restrict or eliminate a major food group—most often, fat or carbs—are not just ineffective in the long term, they’re downright dangerous. Carbs fuel your brain. Fats provide energy for your body and deliver essential fatty acids that are important for blood clotting and brain development. So the idea that you can subsist on a diet that removes one of these key nutrients is totally unrealistic.

Reality: You should find balance through natural foods.

The negatives of eliminating a food group outweigh the benefits by a long shot. So rather than sign up for a diet your body literally cannot handle, try and get a balance of foods and nutrients through your diet. Eating fat will not make you fat—unless you’re taking in several hundred or more calories a day above what you should. One of the easiest ways to overeat is to opt for processed foods filled with calorie-dense ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals. Your digestive system often won’t register how much it’s taking in.

Myth: You can eat as much protein as you want.

Protein is an amazing macronutrient. It is the building block for muscle, bone, skin, nerves, enzymes, blood, brain and even hair. It’s also the favorite nutrient of many bodybuilders, lifters, and even trainers, who recommend that people take in megadoses of protein to build muscle. The only problem? Our bodies have a limit to how much protein they can metabolize per meal. The excess consumption of protein will either be used for energy or stored as fat. (Find out how much protein you need.)

Reality: You should eat smaller amounts of protein throughout the day.

For athletes who exercise less than 90 minutes each day, extra protein means extra calories, which can mean an extra layer of chub around the waistline. (Long distance runners may be able to process megadoses of protein through their long runs; however, protein is harder to digest than carbs, so it might cause some stomach distress along the way.) Try to limit your consumption of protein to less than 30 grams per serving, and space your protein meals two hours apart.

Topics: DIET
Chris Hitchko
- Chris Hitchko, CSCS, owns ShowUp Fitness, a personal training facility with locations in Santa Monica and the San Francisco Bay area. He is also an...
Chris Hitchko
- Chris Hitchko, CSCS, owns ShowUp Fitness, a personal training facility with locations in Santa Monica and the San Francisco Bay area. He is also an...
Must See
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 7,916,698
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 3,056,420
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 545,004

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 135,407
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 14,586
Elite Performance With Mike Boyle: Train the Core While Standing Views: 311,611
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,221,618
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,105
How Greg Nixon Gets More 'Twerk' on the Track
Views: 950,576
Corey White's Off-Season Guide to Making Plays
Views: 1,396,869
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 2,814,024

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

If you've ever taken antibiotics or struggled with common digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea, then your digestive tract has taken a...

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

The Boston Cannons'

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

The Case for Red Meat

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices