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  • 3 Nutrition Myths Debunked - ABC News

    Wouldn't it be nice if it were illegal for anyone to knowingly convey false or misleading informationabout nutrition in print or on TV? Alas, it may seem dishonest, but because of one main driver--profit--the misinformation continues.

    But as an informed, not-easily-persuaded runner, you might be wondering, "why don't more peoplebuy into the 'if it seems too good to be true, it probably is' line of thought?" Well, there are actuallyquite a few reasons.

    First of all, we all want quick and easy solutions to life events that confound us. Things we absolutelycan't control, like aging or incurable diseases, and the things we can control with a lot of work, likemanaging the amount of stress in our lives, addressing our fluctuating weight, and more.

    Fad diets and fad products also sell because we tend to believe what we want to hear, we tend tobelieve what we see in print, and many ads sound quite scientific and true. So it makes sense thatwe dive in with both feet and believe nutrition news that's current and hot off the press.

    This week in Fuel School, we're going to explore a few popular and cyclical nutrition myths anddebunk them.

    Nutrition Myths Debunked

    We've all heard this one, and my answer to this slogan is, "Arsenic is technically natural."

    There's no set definition for "natural" on a food label, and if you ask the FDA what they consider tobe natural, here's what you'll find out: From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a foodproduct as "natural" because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product ofthe earth. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not containadded color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

    Many manufacturers who produce "natural" products to improve your health aren't always qualifiedto do so, and if you're opting for a natural remedy for whatever ails you, you might want to thinktwice. Keep in mind that some "natural" dietary supplements are not benign and can actuallyinteract with other meds you might be taking or might even derail your running performance due topossible side effects. At the end of the day, more research is needed, and funding is not available toanalyze every "natural" product. Remember: Just because that supplement or snack food claims tobe natural doesn't mean it's going to boost your health and performance!

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    Nutrition Myths Debunked

    Thank goodness this one isn't true.

    While in large doses, caffeine can have a diuretic effect, a 2002 study by the researcher Armstrong(and colleagues) showed that despite its mild diuretic effect, caffeine does not dehydrate. In fact,

  • many of us actually rely on caffeine-containing drinks (coffee, tea, soda, etc.) to hydrate us. If you'rea habitual user, it's likely that any effect on urine losses is minor. Added bonus of caffeine? Just amoderate amount can actually improve your performance.

    The researcher Ganio and colleagues suggest that caffeine ingestion can be an effective ergogenicaid for endurance athletes when taken before and/or during exercise in moderate quantities (3-6mg.kg body mass). They also add that abstaining from caffeine at least 7 days before an event willgive the greatest chance of optimizing the ergogenic effect.

    Remember, a little bit of caffeine can go a long way and taking more won't make you faster; there isno evidence of a dose-response relationship to caffeine, and too much can make you feel jittery orworse. One word of caution--there are some runners who are sensitive to caffeine, and if you're oneof them, I'd recommend leaving the coffee and caffeine-enhanced gels at home.

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    Nutrition Myths Debunked

    The other day I was in a coffee shop, and based on my attire, the cashier realized I was a runner. Aswe got to chatting, I let slip that I was a sports RD. Her eyes lit up, and she said she had somethingshe'd been dying to know. Her question? "Exactly how important is breakfast, and will any foodjump-start metabolism?"

    It's probably not a coincidence that the frequency of eating breakfast has declined over the pastdecade while the incidence of obesity has skyrocketed. Time and time again, research has foundlinks between eating breakfast and weighing less, and eating breakfast and having an overallhealthier diet. Research suggests that by eating regular meals throughout the day, the risk forobesity and chronic diseases can be reduced, thanks to mechanisms involved in energy balance andmetabolism.

    Breakfast actually is very improtant because when you skip breakfast, it may lead to an up-regulation of appetite (i.e. you feel hungrier) and this may lead to weight gain over time. Folks whoskip breakfast tend to have a poorer quality of diet mainly because breakfast-eaters have higherfiber and nutrient intakes for fewer calories than those who skip breakfast, are starving by 10 a.m.,and then dive into the box of donuts at the office.

    But to answer the cashier's question, "What should I be eating?" luckily you've got some options. Ifit's a choice between skipping your meal altogether and chowing on double-deep fried donuts, I'dhave to lean toward abstaining until something healthier is available. The best breakfasts includecomplex carbohydrates (e.g. whole grains), as research has found that whole grains and plant foodscan help you feel satisfied for longer. Along with whole grains, breakfast is a great place to add inyour first serving of fruit (and we're all looking to up our fruit and veggie intake, right?). For stayingpower, try adding in a source of lean protein, like skim milk mixed into your oatmeal or Greek yogurtwith your granola.

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    Nutrition Myths Debunked

    Surprise--this one isn't actually a myth and is backed by scientific evidence. Researchers have foundthat the time of day in which food is consumed may influence appetite and overall energy intake.

  • Just as eating breakfast has been found to decrease overall food intake throughout the day, eatingmore later in the day has shown a positive correlation with overall food intake throughout the day.For more information about the benefits of shutting down the kitchen after dinner, turn to our classsession on "Stop eating after dinner to lose weight."