I’m a doctor – here are 12 food myths that could harm your health and why you should NEVER buy fat-free foods

CARROTS will help you see in the dark. Do not leave any food on your plate. Use margarine instead of butter.

Most of us grew up with food myths and old wives’ tales like these, usually told by loving parents who wanted to make sure we were well nourished.


Dr. Richard Allison debunks some of the most common food myths and sets the record straight on all things nutritionCredit: Getty Images – Getty

But are they all really true? And how many of us still live our lives by them?

According to a recent study by Herbalife Nutrition, many of us still believe in traditional food myths, which experts say could be detrimental to our health.

We asked nutritionist Dr. Richard Allison to debunk some of the most common food myths and set the record straight on all things nutrition.

Myth 1: Don’t skip breakfast

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Around two-thirds of Britons (66%) think breakfast shouldn’t be skipped, but Dr Allison said it’s actually your body’s first opportunity to refuel after sleep.

He said: “You need to replenish the glycogen stores that fuel your body and your muscles with energy.

“Skipping breakfast can often lead to reduced physical activity, as your body would lack the energy supply needed to exercise/move efficiently.

“But it also depends on your lifestyle.

“For example, someone who trains first thing in the morning may not have their first meal of the day until around 10/11am.

“Therefore, it’s important to tailor your intake to your individual needs, whether it’s training, work, or other aspects of your lifestyle.”

Myth 2: The fresher the food, the more nutritious it is

The majority of people (59%) believe that fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutrient dense than frozen foods.

According to Dr. Allison, these people are not wrong.

However, frozen foods are not completely devoid of nutrients.

“Generally, fresh foods may be considered more nutritious, but many essential nutrients can also be preserved with ‘quick freezing’ techniques,” Dr Allison explained.

Myth 3: Certain foods help you burn fat

According to research, more than half (54%) of all Britons believe that certain foods can help boost metabolism or reduce appetite.

“All foods boost metabolism — however, certain types of foods, such as hot peppers, may have a greater impact on metabolism than others,” Dr. Allison explained.

Eating these foods can help with weight loss, however, the most effective way to lose weight is to maintain a calorie deficit, Dr. Allison said.

In order to reach a calorie deficit you need to eat and drink fewer calories than you burn.

“Certain foods can make it easier to achieve this goal by making us feel full longer,” he said.

“Nuts are one of those satiating foods and are also super nutritious because they’re high in protein and good fats, both of which are good for offsetting hunger.”

Myth 4: Fasting can make you lose weight fast

One in three (36%) believe fasting will speed up the weight loss journey.

It is partly true. When you fast diet, you put yourself in a calorie deficit because you will naturally eat fewer calories than normal, or even no calories for a certain period of time.

At the same time, reducing your calorie intake can alter the way your body burns and stores fat, Dr. Allison explained.

“It may not be sustainable in the long run because your body may go into starvation mode, which comes with a number of risks,” he said.

Myth 5: Eating six small meals a day is better than three large meals

About a third (36%) of people think it’s true and while it’s not technically false, it’s not entirely true either.

“Eating six small meals a day may be a better approach to avoiding unhealthy snacking because you won’t have as much time between meals to be tempted to make a bad decision,” Dr. Allison said.

“However, as long as the nutrient intake between three large meals and six small meals is the same, there shouldn’t be too much of a difference between the best option.

“The key factor in weight loss is total calorie intake, not meal frequency.”

Myth 6: Egg whites are more nutritious than egg yolks

Both egg yolk and egg white are very nutritious, but in different ways, Dr. Allison explained.

That means the 29% of you who thought egg whites are more nutritious than egg yolks are wrong.

“In fact, egg yolk has a higher nutrient density than egg white, mainly due to egg white being mostly water.

“Egg yolk alone is a high calorie food, containing 322 calories per 100g, while egg white contains significantly fewer calories comparatively.”

Myth 7: Low-fat foods lead to a healthy, fat-free bodys

About 29 percent of you believe the myth that after a low fat diet is actually better for you.

When in fact, following a very low fat diet can put you at risk of missing certain vitamins.

“It can impact the functionality of your immune system and reduce the body’s ability to heal itself,” Dr. Allison said.

“It’s best to avoid saturated fats and make sure your diet includes healthier fats by including more fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, including avocado and olives.”

Myth 8: You can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise

Around a quarter of people (26%) said you think you can eat whatever you want as long as you burn it off with the equivalent exercise.

However, Dr Allison said it was actually quite difficult to put into practice.

“The truth is, if you’re on an ‘eat what you want’ diet and you burn a lot of calories very quickly, especially when you eat processed foods with minimal nutritional value, you’ll find it incredibly hard to to burn so many calories,” he said.

He added: “It is an unsustainable approach to rely solely on exercise and to ignore the body’s need for foods of high nutritional value.”

Myth 9: You need to consume protein right after your workout

About 26% of you protein-lovers thought you needed to eat your protein right after your workout for it to be effective.

Getting the right amount of daily protein is the priority for most people right now.


Getting the right amount of daily protein is the priority for most people right now.Credit: Alamy

However, Dr. Allison said that up to eight hours after your workout is a good time to drink this shake.

“After a workout, your body will attempt to rebuild its glycogen stores as well as repair and regrow these muscle proteins.

“At a time like this, getting protein is especially important because eating the right nutrients will help your body rebuild and restore itself much faster,” he said.

“Although it is often recommended to ingest protein immediately after exercise, the body’s ability to build muscle is high for hours after exercise, so consuming the right amount of daily protein is prioritized over time, for most people.”

Myth 10: Carbohydrates are bad for you

One in four Britons (25%) will avoid crabs when trying to lose weight, according to research.

However, Dr. Allison said carbs are essential, especially when you’re exercising.

“When training, it is important to replenish your central muscle glycogen stores with carbohydrates, as these stores will have diminished during exercise.

“Also, carbs can be good for you in a variety of ways — for example, carb intake later in the day can help promote good sleep.”

He added: “But it really has to be looked at on an individual basis because it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Myth 11: Supplements don’t work

According to research, 21% of Britons believe that the vitamin supplements does not work.

“In an ideal world, we would all get the necessary level of daily nutrients from the foods we eat, but that’s not always possible,” Dr. Allison said.

However, global estimates reveal that only 20% of populations meet targets for omega-3 fatty acids, and very low blood levels of these are common across Europe.

“That’s why supplements can help,” he adds.

“Certain groups might also benefit from a supplement, including people trying to lose weight, athletes, vegans, vegetarians, and pre-menopausal women.”

Myth 12: Supplements are notsure

Most food supplements are regulated by food law, which is based on the principle that products should be safe for consumption and not display misleading labelling.

However, 19% of you thought supplements were unsafe.

“Before you buy supplements from a company, check that they’re regulated,” Dr. Allison says.

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