#FitnesswithKaren: Nutritional Myths vs. Realities

Eating Before Bed

It seems that every Instagram post argues that eating before going to bed will make you gain weight. Or that eating past 8 will result in the same outcome. Now, math isn’t particularly my strong suit, but I do know that 50 calories eaten at noon is the same as 50 calories eaten at midnight. Meaning, eating before bed DOES NOT make you gain weight. It doesn’t matter when you eat a meal; rather, what your meal is composed of is more indicative of gaining or losing weight. I personally believe that this myth was born because people at night tend to crave more calorie-dense foods that would eventually lead to weight gain; however, the time at which you eat ultimately has no bearing on weight gain.

All Fat Is Bad

Though many people correlate eating fat with getting fat, it is actually an essential part of our diet. The difference is the type of fat. Unsaturated fats, aka healthy fats, are in foods people deem as nutritious without actually realizing they’re high-fat foods. In fact, the good fats can even help lower cholesterol and risks of heart disease, which surprises people since most of the population can’t correlate “fat” and “lower” in the same sentence. Examples of healthy fats are avocados, salmon, and walnuts. Saturated fats and trans fats, in turn, are dubbed as unhealthy fats since they have less benefits than unsaturated fats. Examples of these include fats found in most prepackaged foods, fried foods, and cookies.

Eating Less to Lose Weight

It’s a common misconception that eating less will contribute largely to weight loss, when in fact, it’s actually improving the quality of what you consume that contributes to reaching your ideal weight. For example, if you eat on average only one meal a day while working out excessively, it’s not only very unhealthy, but the deprivation of calories will also negatively impact your workout. You will feel sluggish and less energized with the lack of calories and you will also increase your chances of binge eating. Instead, try switching the bread on the burger with a lettuce wrap. Swap out calorie-dense foods with healthier options that allow you to eat more for less.

Healthy + Unhealthy = Healthy

On the flip side of the previous point, people tend to think that if they eat salads all the time, they can eat an infinite amount of food as long as it’s healthy. However, there is a cap on the amount of calories you need in order to maintain your body weight. While it’s great that you incorporate healthy foods into your diet, it doesn’t mean that you can splurge on the rest of the calories for the day. Additionally, eating a salad to counteract eating fries will not achieve the results you might be looking for.

More Protein = More Muscle

In my first article for Her Campus at UPenn, I noted that many women fear having bulky muscles because they are not typically associated with society’s definition of femininity. As a result, they avoid eating protein due to the belief that it will make them gain more muscle. However, while protein does help facilitate the growth of muscles, it doesn’t necessarily equate to the growth of bulky ones. We are so scared of consuming protein for fear of developing large muscles that we don’t see the side benefits of consuming the right amount of protein. This includes skin renewal, hair growth, and tissue repair. So, don’t be afraid of eating a protein-packed meal — if anything, it’ll just help you achieve your fitness goal.

While there are many more food misconceptions and myths out there, I’ve slowly incorporated many of them in my own lifestyle. The only way to a healthier you is to not cheat your meals or nutrition. There aren’t many healthy, yet tasty, meal options at dining halls or swipe-ins; but, it only takes a second to search up the macros on something, which is a tip we shouldn’t take lightly. I hope you found my advice to be helpful and will always remember to stay healthy!