This list is not the 10 dumbest or most popular misconceptions about diet and nutrition, but instead the ones that I find most interesting
No.10 Aspartame is safe/not safe
Whenever I read someone preaching — and I do mean preaching — about the evils of aspartame, I imagine a dreadlocked hippie who refuses to get their kids vaccinated. It’s not a fair comparison, but it’s what pops into my head because I’m an opinionated bastard sometimes. “That sh*t causes cancer, man!” they say. Then I imagine they toke up.
Yes, it does cause cancer. Bladder cancer to be specific, at ridiculously high doses in male rats, who are so prone to the disease it seems like they get bladder cancer if you sneeze on them. This piece by a renowned skeptic and MD alleviated a lot of concerns about aspartame, but then you see brand new research published in a respected medical journal that suggests high diet-soda intake can cause stroke and heart attack.
So, is it safe? My guess is that in moderation, it’s OK, but we’re just not 100% on this stuff yet. Some shades of gray remain, so go easy.
No.9 Eating six small meals a day boosts metabolism
This myth has helped sell a lot of books, and not necessarily good books either. Many believe that eating six small meals a day keeps your metabolic furnace revved up because it’s in a continuous state of digestion, or something. Well, last summer I wrote a piece for AskMen that used actual scientific research to rip the crap out of this concept. Low meal frequency can lead to obesity, but if you dig three squares a day and it helps you keep your calories in check, go that route. Some may argue that six small meals enhances nutrient absorption, and it may do that, a little, but this is what I call trying to separate fly sh*t from pepper. It’s not worth worrying about.
No.8 Weight loss is about something other than calories in vs. calories out
Calories in vs. calories out is based on the first law of thermodynamics. It’s not a hypothesis or a theory, but a physical law, like gravity. You can’t deny it any more than you can deny that if you jump out of a high-flying aircraft without a parachute gravity will not be your friend.
And it’s been proven via research many times that it doesn’t matter what you eat: If calories are negative, weight is lost. Remember the guy who lost weight eating Twinkies?