Ever heard of some these statements below and wondered if they were actually true?
Today I threw some questions, out of curiosity, to my year 7 class; I thought that being younger than me and with more education and knowledge at their disposal than ever, they’d be a lot more switched on than I was. I asked them to decide whether each statement was true or false, and the statements I gave them were:
1. Carbs make you gain weight
2. Sugar is bad for you
3. Protein is good for you
4. Eating meat is bad for the environment
Before you read on below, what would you decide about each statement now?
I was surprised at their responses!
1. Carbs make you gain weight - FALSE
At least half of the class put their hand up for true this one! Some wanted to qualify this and
say ‘only if you don’t burn them off’ etc., but I couldn’t believe that the basic scientific
method of weight loss is still getting lost; put less calories in than you burn, and you will lose
weight. Put more calories in than you burn and you will gain weight. No matter where those
calories come from – carbs or salad!
2. Sugar is bad for you – FALSE
Again I had about half the class voting that this was true. There is no ‘good’ or’ ‘bad’ food.
There is only food. There is no such thing as ‘clean’ eating, being ‘naughty’ or ‘cheat’ meals.
There is only eating. Yes, sugar has nutritionally very little value to it as it has no fibre,
vitamins or minerals, but you just need to be aware of this when you eat sugar. It’s tasty. But
eat in moderation (as you would ANY other food).
3. Protein is good for you – FALSE
The whole class had their hand up for true here! Well done marketing campaigns. Again,
how are we defining ‘good’ for us? The question is more ‘where is that protein coming
from?’. EVERYONE has jumped on the protein bandwagon and is using it to sell their
products, so there is protein porridge and chocolate bars and protein powders touted to us
everywhere. The reality is, yes we need protein, but most of us should be able to access
enough protein from whole foods that are normally in our diet, without needing highly
processed supplements (the exception, for example, is when you would struggle to get a
meal within an hour of intense exercise, so it is for convenience only. But be aware, a
chocolate protein bar is still a chocolate bar!).
Furthermore, protein gets pedalled at the expense of the awareness of other important things in our diet. For example, we are supposed to have 30g of fibre a day, but most people in Western society average about 18g of fibre; lack of this is linked to poor bowel health, and diverticulitis. Fibre also can improve cholesterol levels, protect from heart disease and stabilise blood sugar levels; why aren’t we talking about it more?!
4. Eating meat is bad for the environment – TRUE
Ironically, not everyone in the class had their hand up for true here! Cattle farming is one of
the largest contributors of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, specifically methane. Other animal farming and products are not as bad, but still not brilliant. A study came out recently that looked at whether the world actually had the resources to feed the current population of over 7 billion, and the answer was yes, IF everyone essentially adopted a plant based diet, with the equivalent red meat to one hamburger a week. I switched to a ‘flexitarian’ diet (consciously choosing to eat little or no meat) about 2 years ago – have you considered what changes you could make?
Any other fitness or nutrition information that you have come across that you think doesn’t
deserve the hype it gets… or is just blatantly untrue?