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Carbs DON’T make you fat, you CAN eat after 7pm and most people don’t have a wheat allergy: Nutritionist busts 8 food myths ‘even smart people believe’…

  • Nutritionist Rob Hobson says there are many misconceptions around diet
  • Oats, pasta and rice contain 4 calories per gram – the same as protein
  • Eating small meals over the day doesn’t raise metabolism significantly
  • Food is still digested after 7pm, and we still metabolise food in our sleep 

Carb lovers rejoice – oats, rice or pasta are back on the menu.

Containing four calories per gram – around the same as protein – they are not fattening on their own, nutritionist Rob Hobson says.

And while man of us believe bread will cause us to bloat, sensitivity to wheat is rare, and a gluten tolerance is rarer still, affecting only around 0.5 per cent of the population, he adds.

From raw foods ‘preserving the enzymes in the body’ to saturated fats ‘raising cholesterol’, Mr Hobson, a London-based nutritionist, claims there are many misconceptions around healthy diet.

In some cases, the facts are plain wrong, while in others they may not be as straightforward as previously thought, he explains.

Here, writing for Healthista, he separates the science from the hype…


1. All carbohydrates make you fat

Yes and no. Nutritionally, there is nothing fattening about complex carbs with a low GI, such as oats, wholegrain rice or wholemeal pasta, which contain four calories per gram (the same as protein).

When eaten in sensible portion sizes, these foods are a rich source of nutrients such as fibre and B vitamins (used to covert food into energy) and have less impact on blood sugar levels than their high GI counterparts.

However, what you choose to put on these foods will only add to their calorie count and it’s worth mentioning that an excess of any food will potentially encourage weight gain.

Not all carbs are the same though, sticking to fibre-rich, carbs with a low GI, will fill you quicker (with more nutrients) on smaller portions than opting for carbs with a high GI such as sugar, which are easy to over consume.

They instigate insulin spikes that can encourage the storage of fat as well as put you at risk of diseases such as heart disease when eaten in excess.

Cutting back on carbs and opting for small servings of low GI varieties whilst increasing protein does appear to be a useful weight loss strategy (protein and high fibre carbs are very filling when served together), especially for people who find it difficult to stay in control when eating carbohydrate-rich foods.

But there is no reason to completely remove all carbohydrate foods from your diet.

2. You shouldn’t eat after 7pm as food is stored as fat

Firstly, the body doesn’t suddenly decide to turn food eaten after 7pm into fat.

Secondly, although your metabolism may slow down as you sleep, it still continues to digest any food in the gut.

The amount of fat you lay down is determined by the excess amount of calories you eat during the day against those you use up by keeping active.

This tip may be useful for weight loss but only by preventing people from overeating at night and so reducing their overall calorie intake. 

3. Bread causes bloating

Putting gluten-sensitivity and coeliac disease aside, some people are sensitive to wheat, which may cause bloating. However, sensitivity is not that common and wheat allergy is rare.

There is also no diagnostic test for wheat sensitivity and treatment involves an exclusion diet.

Research investigating the effects of eating bread found that bloating was less when compared with pasta.

Research also showed that 1 in 5 Brits believed they would benefit from avoiding bread and 5 per cent claimed to be gluten intolerant (actually affects about 0.5 per cent of the population).

Only physical activity can raise the metabolism

It’s also thought that bloaters are more sensitive to the feeling of abdominal gas whilst not actually producing more of it.

Other unproven theories linking bread to bloating include the baking method (Chorleywood process of skipping the second rising) and yeast, which is actually deactivated during the baking process.

Other factors can also be responsible for bloating such as IBS, skipping meals, constipation, a lack of good bacteria in the gut and foods rich in fermentable carbohydrates such as onions, artichokes and leeks.

A sudden increase in dietary fibre can also cause bloating so should be done gradually.

Opting for toasted bread and speciality loaves such as sourdough can reduce bloating in those sensitive to wheat.

The trend for gluten-free diets has had a big impact on attitudes towards bread and other carbohydrate foods resulting in people unnecessarily cutting out food groups, which in some cases may lead to nutrient imbalances.

In the UK, bread contributes to 1/5 of the calcium and magnesium intake as well as 15 per cent of iron and 20 per cent of fibre.

4. Frequently eating small meals throughout the day can increase your metabolism and help you to lose weight

It’s true that your metabolism increases slightly as you eat but not enough to cause any significant weight loss.

Snacking is often used by dieters as way of avoiding hunger pangs but the downside is that any meal occasion has the potential for overeating.

The only way to actively boost your metabolism is with regular exercise and those with a greater ratio of muscle to fat tend to have a higher metabolic rate.


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