Episode 156 – Debunking 10 Nutrition Myths – Rapid Fire

Key Topics Covered

Question mark made up of fruits and vegetables in a cartoon style.

Creatine Causes Hair Loss

  • This myth is largely based on a small study on rugby players where an increase in the hormone DHT was found.
  • We don’t even have clear evidence creatine increases DHT, let alone hair loss
  • With the current information, it seems unlikely that it would lead to hair loss, which is part of why it hasn’t been studied extensively.
  • For context, even just lifting weights increases DHT. And in this creatine study, DHT stayed within the healthy range the whole time regardless.

For Fat Loss, You Want to Keep Insulin as Low as Possible

  • While insulin promotes the storage of fat and decreases the breakdown of fat, solely focusing on that is an issue.
  • You can still be losing fat, even while insulin is in your system.
  • Research has found that when calorie intake is controlled, differences in insulin levels do not significantly affect weight loss.
  • Carbs increase insulin significantly more than fat does. But when low carb vs low fat diets are compared with calories and protein matched, the fat loss outcomes are similar.

Protein Is Bad for the Kidneys

Kidneys highlighted in red being stressed.

  • In people with healthy kidney function at the baseline, there is no reason to believe higher protein diets lead to a decline in kidney function.
  • The logic that high protein intakes place greater “strain” on the kidneys doesn’t have much merit. 
  • Exercising puts “strain” on the heart, but we also know exercise reduces the risk of CVD. Subsequently, putting our organs to work doesn’t necessarily lead to negative outcomes. 
  • Research has also consistently shown that higher protein do not lead to declining kidney function in healthy populations.
  • In people with kidney issues such as chronic kidney disease it is a more complex debate. We do have guidelines that suggest an appropriate amount of protein that is neither significantly low or high. 
  • But as a general rule, I think it would be unfair to say “protein is bad for kidney function”.

If You Have High Cholesterol, You Need to Avoid Eggs

  • Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol. We care about blood cholesterol.
  • Dietary cholesterol only has a small impact on our blood cholesterol, vs other factors.
  • Of course, if taken to an extreme, eating a lot of dietary cholesterol can play a role. But for most people, this variable is far less important than most other factors. 

Plant-Based Protein Sources Are Terrible for Muscle Growth

Plant protein sources including legumes and nuts.

  • Research using relatively high protein intakes of 1.6g/kg+ per day typically finds equally good outcomes for muscle growth in both acute and long-term data.
  • There can be other logistical challenges around getting enough after adjusting for the amino acid profile and digestibility differences with animal protein. But once again, to say they are terrible for muscle growth is not supported by research. 
  • Overall, it just requires a more conscious effort.

Eating Small Frequent Meals Boosts the Metabolism

  • The easiest way to debunk this is to look at the research. 
  • A review titled “Meal frequency and energy balance” included a variety of relevant research and found no noticeable difference in energy expenditure. That’s simple enough. 
  • They also highlighted flawed thinking that some people use based on short-term studies looking at the thermic effect of food. Over larger time frames, calories burned through TEF are more linked to total intake rather than frequency.
  • If this did boost metabolism, it would also present issues in the Intermittent Fasting world too. But we know that does not happen in practice.

Low Fat Dairy Is Worse Because While They Take out the Fat, They Add in Heaps of Sugar

Dairy containing foods on a table including milk, cheese and yoghurt.

  • You can debunk this just by reading labels. 1) Look at the nutrition panel and compare 2) Check the ingredients.
  • Sometimes they do this, sometimes they don’t. There are heaps of dairy products that are low fat and have no added sugar.

Eat More Fat to Lose More Fat

  • This is based on the flawed logic that burning more fat = fat loss.
  • This is an argument we often see in the low-carb and keto spaces.
  • Your body will typically adjust what it is burning to account for what is coming in. It is always burning both carbs and fats, but the ratio will change.
  • We could point to research here – but really there is common sense too.
    • Let’s say you increase your dietary fat intake by 100g per day, and that increases your fat oxidation rate by 80g per day, you can see how 20g fat is leftover to be stored. That’s a simplified example, but it highlights how fat oxidation in isolation is misleading.
    • We care more about the balance of calories generally over the course of days/weeks/months. 
  • Though in the research we do see low-carb & low-fat diets both working well for fat loss when calories are matched, just to drive the point home.

You Can Test for Food Intolerances With an IgG Test

Food intolerance test tube being held.

  • IgG (Immunoglobulin G) tests measure the levels of IgG antibodies in the blood, which are produced as part of the body’s immune response. 
  • These tests have well and truly been concluded to have a low level of accuracy for food intolerance testing
  • The presence of IgG antibodies is generally indicative of exposure to food, not intolerance.

You Should/Shouldn’t Count Collagen as Part of Your Total Protein Intake?

  • The main complication here is that while collagen is a form of protein, it has a unique amino acid profile. It has an exceptionally low biological value, which is typically used to express the “quality” of the amino acid profile.
  • From our perspective, if somebody has a relatively high protein intake, I would count it as part of their total protein intake without thinking much about it, assuming it wasn’t a large percentage of their total intake.
    • They will end up with an abundance of all relevant amino acids.
  • If somebody happened to have a low protein intake, I’d have a slightly different opinion. While I would count it, I wouldn’t say 30g of collagen protein is the equivalent of 30g of a good quality protein source. This is largely just because the intake of certain key amino acids would be lower.