3 Nutrition Lies Exposed
By: Brad Dieter, PhD
Read Time: 5 minutes
There is a lot of misinformation circulating around the interwebz. Some of it malicious, some of it remnants of bro-lore (I ain’t hating, bro-lore has taught us a ton) and some of it just the result of misinterpretation of data and bad research studies.
Let us take a few minutes to clear up some of the misinformation on 3 nutrition lies that have pervaded the industry and update our thinking!
1. Carbohydrate timing is important for fat loss
Lets see. . .Oprah told us to not eat carbs at night because they make us fat. Then we heard that you should skip carbs in the morning and only eat them at night because of some crazy awesome effect of being more insulin resistant in the morning and storing carbs as fat.
Well it turns out that there is no magical timing of carbohydrates for fat loss.Seriously, timing your carbs at either breakfast or dinner probably won’t do anything for your fat loss. At least not based on the data we currently have. If you have some compelling data let me know, I would love to see it!
But what might be important is getting carbs in before training if you are a hard-charging athlete or someone who trains a lot. Carbs are perhaps the best “ergogenic aid”. Consuming carbs before and during longer training sessions can make them more productive.
2. BCAAs can make a big difference in your results
Branched chain amino acids are special amino acids that activate mTOR and make you muscles produce more muscle. At least that is what biochemistry studies tell us. However when you really dig into the research it turns out that BCAAs don’t make a substantial difference in your muscle gains or your fat loss.
Despite all the marketing and all the BCAA supplements out there, there is not a lot of data to show they have a substantial effect on your muscle gains or your fat loss. In fact, we (along with Dr. Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon) critically reviewed a study that claimed they did and found the data to lack the “umph” necessary to support that claim (check that article out here).
The reason the biochemical studies and the cell culture studies don’t translate well into real world results is that anyone eating a sufficiently high protein diet is getting enough BCAAs from their food and the addition of 7-14g/day of supplemental BCAAs is likely not going to make a huge difference. There may also be an issue of really low levels of absorption when taking straight BCAAs.
So the long and short of it is that BCAAs really don’t make a meaningful difference in your results. Your training and your diet are going to be about a million times more important.
3. Eating Fat Makes you Lose Fat
This one is a result of all three reasons these type of lies originate. There is definitely some malicious intent in its history, there is a lot of bro-lore, and A LOT of misinterpretation of data.
Let’s skip all the gnashing of teeth and blaming people and skip straight to the poor interpretation of data.
This myth likely originates from data showing that if you increase your proportion of fat intake there is an increase in fat oxidation. . . now let’s unpack that a bit.
There is a large disconnect between biochemical fat oxidation at a cellular level and fat loss. Put simply, fat oxidation does not mean fat loss.
Let me put this another way, by quoting sir Alan Aragon who said it best, “The oxidation of circulating free fatty acids or intramuscular triglycerides from an increased proportion of dietary fat is distinctly different from the oxidation of fat from adipose storage.”
Part of learning involves the shedding of old ideas and updating your thinking based on new information. Hopefully we can lay some of these old ideas to rest and carry on making progress by having better tools and knowledge at our disposal!