We sort out the food facts from the fiction to outline the nutrition myths costing you abs. To do this we roped in the help of three expert nutritionists and a whole load of legit science so you’re always as lean as you deserve to be.
Myth 1: Low carb diets are unhealthy
Lots of people swear cutting back carbs helps you get lean but just as many say it’ll damage your health. “That is simply not true,” says nutritionist Kris Gunnars. “Since 2002 over 20 randomised control trials have consistently found a low-carb diet improves fat loss and reduces major risk factors for disease.” What’s more carbs are important for your mental wellbeing. To ease yourself into a low-carb eating plan, cut out rice, bread and pasta.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Low-carb diets are a healthy and effective option if you want a lean body with abs that show.
Myth 2: Low-fat products are healthier
It sounds right, but they’re often a nutritional scam that are costing you abs. “Many low-fat foods — yoghurt, mayonnaise, hummus — have been highly processed to remove the fat,” says nutritionist Laurent Bannock. “Fat provides flavour, and without it food can taste pretty bland. Manufacturers often compensate by adding sugar, even though they know it’s worse for your waistline than the fat it’s replacing.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Always go full fat.
Myth 3: Canned food is bad for you
The problem with the tin can, we have been told, is that it leaches the toxic chemical bisphenol (BPA) into the packaged food, causing serious health problems for the endocrine system. But a recent US study from the National Toxicology Program suggests otherwise. Rats were given 70 times the amount people would normally be exposed to in a typical diet. And according to researchers, there were “no biologically significant changes observed at all.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Canned food is not harmful. That said, it should always be a last resort.
Myth 4: Saturated fat is bad for your heart
Governments have been championing this idea for decades, but recent studies — including a meta-analysis in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition — have disproved the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. If anything, it can benefit your health — especially the kind found in meat and dairy. In small doses it will strengthen your immune system, maintain cell structure and boost testosterone.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Saturated fat is good for you in moderation. Scoffing too much of this can lead to a high-carb pasta disaster and sink your dietary goals.
Myth 5: Eggs raise cholesterol
You’d be forgiven for thinking cholesterol-rich foods would raise your own levels but, thankfully for egg-lovers everywhere, science says otherwise. “Recent studies have found that it’s actually refined sugars and processed carbohydrates — present in man-made snacks and fast foods — that raise the levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your blood, which is what increases your risk of strokes and heart disease,” says nutritionist Scott Baptie. “Eggs are rich in protein and a host of key nutrients. You can even buy omega 3-enriched varieties that increase your levels of good HDL cholesterol to counteract the negative effects of LDL.” Dig in with impunity at breakfast.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Junk food — not eggs — will raise your LDL cholesterol levels.
Myth 6: Red meat gives you cancer
Here’s the truth: regularly feasting on Fred Flintstone-sized steaks is not going to harm your health or abs. “The association between unprocessed red meat and diseases such as cancer has been highly exaggerated,” says Gunnars. “Large review studies show the real risks come from cheap processed stuff or meat that’s been overcooked, which causes harmful compounds to form.” What’s more, red meat — especially the organic, grass-fed variety — is extremely nutritious. It offers high levels of muscle-building protein and creatine, plus energy-boosting vitamin B12.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Avoid cheap processed meat and don’t overcook the good stuff.