Nutrition Myths... and some silly Questions Answered!

Is it true that carbohydrates make a person fat?
If you eat more calories than you expend in energy, then anything can be stored as fat - protein, fat or carbohydrate.

Will eating fat make me fat?

As with the myth that carbohydrates make one fat, the answer to this is the same. Calories ingested and absorbed above expenditure contribute to increasing fat stores. However, there is some evidence that would su ggest it is easier to get fat when consuming a high-fat diet. It seems the human body has a difficult time regulating food intake on high-fat diets, making it easier to accidentally eat excess calories. Also, because fat provides a lot of calories for a small volume (nine calories/g vs. four calories/g for protein and carbs) one may have a harder time feeling satisfied with the smaller food volume a high-fat diet would provide.

Will eating past 7 p.m., especially carbohydrates, result in weight gain?
The body does not have an enzyme with a watch that after 7 p.m. preferentially stores items, especially carbohydrate, as fat. All of us have a certain number of calories we can consume without gaining weight. If you happen to change your daily schedule and end up eating a final meal or snack later in the evening without changing your calories, you are in no danger of accumulating weight as a result of that minor alteration. Ideally, however, you would spread your allotted number of calories throughout the day to prevent hunger and prevent wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can sap your energy levels.

What is insulin's role in storing fat?
Humans, as periodic eaters, need insulin to survive. Following a meal, insulin is secreted, with its job being the storage of energy (glucose, amino acids) in the liver, muscle and adipose tissue (fat). We will always eat more at a meal than can immediately be used for energy, making this storage necessary. As the hours after a meal go by, this stored energy is released to fuel the continuous needs and activity of the body.

The predominant fuel source for the human body during normal daily activities is fat. As insulin levels diminish after a meal (within an hour), another hormone, Glucagon, is secreted. It signals the body to begin releasing stored energy (glycogen from the liver and fatty acids from adipose tissue) into the blood stream to fuel the body's energy needs, even though no new energy is coming in (from food). The cycle is repeated with every meal.

Whether one increases or decreases the size of their fat stores day to day depends upon the relationship of calories consumed and absorbed versus energy expended on metabolism and daily activity. If you were in a caloric deficit at the end of the day, then more fat would have come out for energy than went in for storage, so your fat stores would be decreased. However, if you were in caloric excess, then more would have gone in than went out, so your fat stores would increase. As you can see, insulin is only a mechanism for fat storage. It needs material to work with to cause fat stores to increase and stay that way. That material is the calories we eat.

Is it true that anyone attempting to lose fat and/or gain LBM should eat a high-protein diet?
No. Any amount exceeding 25% of total caloric intake would be considered high. There is no advantage to high-protein intake for the majority of fat loss subjects. It's all about calories. There are disadvantages to excess protein intake (see below). High-protein weight-loss diets are generally low-calorie diets in disguise that eventually will not satiate the user. This leads to uncontrollable eating behavior and concurrent weight gain. Initial weight loss from a high-protein diet is predominantly loss of body fluids.

Does whey protein build more muscle quicker than other complete proteins?
This is generally not true. The possible exception may be the underfed and over-trained athlete. For well-fed individuals, there is no nutritional advantage to whey protein over other complete proteins. Casein, the other Milk Protein is absorbed much more slowly and is therefore considered a 'recovery' protein, maybe best used before bed. No dietary protein initiates hypertrophy; appropriate exercise does.

Do protein drinks build muscle?
No, appropriate exercise and adequate nutrition build muscle.

Does eating fat cause weight gain?
Excess calories make you fat, not fat. Currently, Americans are consuming 300 calories per day more than 10 years ago and are moving less. Portion sizes, calories, technology and social habits have contributed the most to our country's expanding waistline.

Should I try to cut all fat out of my diet?
No. Dietary fat calories should never dip below 10 percent of total caloric intake. Dietary fat can add to palatability and satiety. Dietary fat carries our necessary fat soluble vitamins & essential fatty acids.

Is dietary fat bad for you?
Some fats are actually good for you, in moderation. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, found in some fish, can assist in lowering cholesterol as well as other positive physiological and psychological responses.

Are high-fat diets safe?
Diets high in saturated fats generally raise cholesterol levels and leads to overeating. Total fat intake should not exceed 30 percent of the total caloric intake.

Do high-fat diets assist in weight loss?
Remember, you lose fat when you consume fewer calories than you burn, regardless of whether they are fat, protein or carbohydrate calories. However, diets that contain more than 30 percent fat generally slow metabolism and lead to overeating. A very small portion of the population appears to feel and function better on a higher-fat diet (above 25%) while pursuing weight loss. This is due to bio-individuality and the satiating power of fats for this group. Most people would not benefit from a high-fat diet.

Do Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) assist in fat or weight loss?
There is no benefit in consuming extra calories (each gram of MCT yields 9 calories) during a fat and/or weight-loss program. Therefore, the additional MCT calories would only be used for energy in lieu of fat stores and consequently slow fat loss.

Do Carbohydrates make you fat?
This is FALSE. Americans currently eat approximately 300 calories more per day than 10 years ago and move less - thus, we are fatter. Calories and technology are the primary reasons for our nation's expanding waistline. Excess calories make you fat.

Do fruit or fructose make you fat?
Excess calories make you fat. Fructose is thought to be the sweetener of choice for fat loss because it does not elicit a strong insulin response... However, since it doesn't elicity the insulin response, most of it goes to your liver where it can be stored as fat quite rapidly... Scientifically it makes sense, but if you are competing, you should restrict your fruit intake and chose more complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, bulk, and satiety purposes.

Does wheat make you fat?
No, but wheat may cause bloating in a small percentage of people who are allergic to it. Wheat does not make anyone fat, excess calories do.

When attempting to lose fat, should I avoid fruit, wheat products and/or dairy products?
No. When reducing calories for continuous fat loss (i.e., fitness models or bodybuilders striving for very low body fat levels) these foods (except wheat) may be eliminated as competition nears. Fruit and dairy products lack the substance or bulk of complex foods, so they don't contribute to satiety when calories are extremely low. But calories are calories.

I've heard that insulin resistance causes weight gain, so a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is recommended. Is this true?
This is false. Weight gain from high fat diets usually leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to other health problems such as coronary artery disease.
The scientific recommendation for almost all insulin-resistant individuals, genetic or acquired, is a low-fat diet, moderate amounts of protein, high in complex carbohydrates and exercise. Insulin resistant individuals gain weight like anyone else - when they eat more calories than they burn. Insulin resistance may depress satiety signals, leading one to overeat.

Does pasta make you fat?
No. Pasta is a carbohydrate (Maybe Your ONE TRUE FRIEND!). Excess calories make one fat.

Is it true that eating carbohydrates, or any food at night, causes weight gain?
No. If the daily caloric intake allows for fat loss or maintenance and is spread throughout a 24-hour period you will not gain weight. Excess calories make you fat.

Explain why switching from a high-protein diet to a high-carbohydrate diet might cause you to feel bloated initially.
Each part of stored glucose (as glycogen) contains 2.7 parts water. With a high-protein diet, glycogen stores are consistently low and therefore water content is low, which decreases the cells' efficiency. The bloated feeling will eventually normalize when the body recovers to a properly hydrated state. The gain is water in the muscle cells (good), not fat!