High protein, low fat, juice cleanse, diet soda… where to begin? We know it can be confusing with all the overload of information out there! Here are a few myth-busting facts to set the record straight and help you stay on track with your #abgoals
Myth # 1: You can’t eat fat if you want abs.
The idea that eating fat will make you fat is a common misconception. In fact, eating fat from whole foods such as avocado, nuts, olive oil, flax-seeds and oily fish switches on our satiety centre – the part of our brain that tells us we’ve had enough and feel full. This prevents overeating, plus these foods provide a wide range of essential nutrients including anti-inflammatory properties.
The trick here is to get your serving size right. Place your index, middle and ring finger together. That’s a good indication of serving size for healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and healthy oils.
Myth #2: Diet soda has no sugar, so it’s just as good as water.
Let’s set the record straight: Diet soda is not the same as water and should basically be treated like any other soft drink. They are usually full of chemicals, preservatives and thickeners designed to trick the body into thinking it is high-fat or high-sugar – and these additives can have worse effects than the fat or sugar we are trying to avoid in the first place! My recommendation: see these drinks for what they really are. That doesn’t mean you have to cut them out completely, if you do enjoy them, do so sparingly.
Myth #3: To keep your metabolism burning, you need to eat 6 meals a day.
This is where it becomes important to listen to your body and our individual requirements vary based on activity levels and the type of foods we are eating. Eating 6 meals per day isn’t necessary – you can have a healthy metabolism with 2-3 meals a day.
To know whether you’re eating the right amount, it’s important to keep your vitals, like hydration, in check. It’s easy to mistake de-hydration or boredom for hunger, which can result in overeating. If your overall intention is to reduce body fat, you’re better off eating at normal times and grabbing a healthy (small) snack in between (when and if you get hungry).
Myth #4: The more protein in your diet the better.
Protein is an essential macronutrient in the building of lean muscle mass and in muscle recovery. But more protein does not automatically mean more muscle and less fat. Our bodies need a balance of fibre and protein to function effectively. Low-carb and high protein diets are usually low fibre, which can lead to bloating, constipation and overall blah-ness. In other words, not the path to a 6-pack. The excess nitrogen by-products found in protein can cause your kidneys to work overtime to filter out to your blood.
Adequate protein with strong stimulus in your training is the key to lean muscle gain. The RDI for Australians is around 0.84 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Aim for a palm-sized serving of protein at each meal and ensure you are getting loads of fibre from vegetables and leafy greens to keep your digestive system happy.
Myth #5: Green juices will help you detox and lose weight
Don’t get me wrong, green juices are great – when they contain the right ingredients. Next time you grab a pre-packaged bottle or order a fresh juice from cafes, look at the ingredients. It’s highly likely you’ll notice a whole lot of fruits involved and just a handful of spinach. This makes your Popeye juice taste great, but it also means a lot of liquid calories in the form of (natural) sugars.
If you love green juice, make it yourself or ask for half the amount of fruit juice (or none if you can handle the taste!). If you want a juice with fruit in it, make sure they put the whole fruit in, so you get all the fibre (non-cold pressed), and only put as much fruit as you would eat in one sitting. i.e. one apple, not four. If your goal is a defined mid-section, healthy, balanced meals are the best way to go. Controlling your carbs and a healthy fat intake will also help, but there’s no need to go on a juice-only diet.