You might have noticed that Twitter has been going crazy following the post of the article Can this woman change the way you eat forever? on Marie Claire. It makes some ridiculous food claims quoting so-called ‘nutrition expert’ Kimberly Snyder. To set the records straight we decided to tackle each claim made and separate fad from fact. We sought the expert opinion of seven leading Registered Dietitians on social media.
- ‘RETHINK YOU PROTEIN QUOTA’
Claim: ‘If you want to consume animal protein, reduce it to one meal a day…’
Eating all your protein during one meal might not be the most efficient way to build your muscles as Megan explains…
“Distributing your intake of protein across the day has been shown to have a positive influence on muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. In fact, one study showed that muscle protein synthesis was ~ 25% higher in the group who ate protein across three meals compared to just one meal.” (Mamerow et al., 2014)
Claim: ‘Calorie for calorie, broccoli is actually more dense in protein than steak (though you do, of course have to eat more broccoli to get the numbers in).’
How much protein do we really need and is it the same for all? Gemma explains…
“It’s completely nonsense to recommend broccoli as a source of protein!! Yes, it contains a bit of protein, but you’d have to eat 430g of raw broccoli to get just 10g of protein. There are much better sources of plant-based protein that actually contain a decent amount. E.g. Legumes, soy, tempeh, fortified tofu etc.
Also on the protein front, 0.8g/kg is a ‘safe’ amount for the general population. It doesn’t mean that it is the right amount each person should eat, or that it is enough for everyone. Especially if people are highly active, they will have much higher protein requirements to meet demands on their body. If someone has impaired kidneys, then excessive protein can be problematic. However, there isn’t any evidence that higher amounts of protein e.g. 2-3g/kg is damaging to healthy individuals such as athletes competing in a lot of sport and training. It depends on the physical demand and is very individual.”
2. ‘LEARN THE RIGHT WAY TO EAT FRUIT’
Is there really a right way to eat fruit?
Claim: ‘I eat lots of fruit every day, and cut down on oils (which are not a whole food). To get the maximum benefit from fruit its best if you reduce fats…’
Fats have an essential role in our diet and demonising them is misleading and can create unnecessary fear. In fact, research has shown that fats have a role in increasing the absorbance of certain antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, as Megan explains. Antioxidants have been proven to have beneficial effects for our bodies.
“Several antioxidants found in fruit such as carotenoids are fat soluble meaning our body absorbs them better when consumed with some dietary fats, particularly monounsaturated such as olive oil. Bottom-line moderate amount of healthy fats is important in the diet.” (Brown et al., 2004)
- ‘GREEK YOGURT – NOT A GOOD WAY TO START THE DAY’
This statement causes alarm bells to start ringing in our heads. We would like you to listen to the real experts; Helen, Nic and Rosie, who set the record straight.
“It’s a myth that dairy products cause a calcium loss and weaken your bones. Scientific evidence doesn’t support this, or many of the other claims in this article. Apart from the fact that the health claim “acid forming foods cause calcium loss” completely disregards the role of your kidneys in regulating the pH of your blood, research has linked dairy products (and other ‘acid forming foods’ like protein) with stronger, not weaker bones. Milk and dairy products are a healthy, cheap and accessible source of nutrients, especially for growing children and teenagers. Dismissing dairy as ‘unnatural’ and unhealthy is elitist and unscientific.”
“Given that dairy foods are an excellent source of both calcium and protein, and the majority of people can tolerate dairy foods without any problem it is totally irresponsible to advise people not to consume it. It could even be damaging, especially for young girls who’s bones are still forming; they could be at risk of osteoporosis in the future if their calcium intakes are insufficient.”
“Modest amounts of dairy are a key part of the traditional Mediterranean style diet; a way of eating associated with longevity and lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
Dairy is also a good source of protein of which adequate amounts are needed to prevent osteoporosis and age-related muscle loss. A 200ml glass of semi-skimmed milk contains 7g of protein compared to almond milk which only contains about 1 g.
Contrary to popular belief, the lowest rates of lactose intolerance are actually found in Northern Europe and Northern America with less than 5% of the British population estimated to be affected. Furthermore, those those who do have lactose intolerance are thought to still be able to tolerate a 12g dose of lactose (equivalent to a glass of milk) without any adverse symptoms.
Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yoghurt can therefore be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet. It’s worth noting that some dairy products such as flavoured milks or yoghurts may contains added sugar, so always read the label.
As Kimberly mentions, her thoughts on dairy are in her “opinion”. This doesn’t mean evidenced-based!”
- ‘SUGAR VS SWEETENERS – DISCOVER THE TRUTH’
Sweeteners have been approved as safe for human consumption and their safety is re- evaluated constantly. Be mindful when you read extreme statements! Systematic reviews and meta-analysis studies are the gold –standard in research!
Reducing the sugar you add in your coffee can help with weight control. A teaspoon of sugar added in tea/coffee will add about 16 kcal compared to 1kcal added with a tablet of a low calorie sweetener. If you still want to opt for the sugar option, don’t be fooled into believing that ‘natural sugar, such as raw honey’ has fewer calories than the refined white (caster) sugar. Gram per gram they contain the same amount of calories.
- ‘KNOW YOUR GOOD FROM BAD SHORTCUTS’
Claim ‘Stick to clean’.
This notion simply implies that certain foods are good or bad. Some foods are more nutritious than others, but all have a role in a healthy balanced diet. (Read previous post on The Dirty Truth Behind ‘Clean Eating’.
The processing of food itself is not dangerous and unhealthy, as some want to claim. Virtually every food that you eat has been processed in some way- from caning, smoking, freezing, peeling or vacuum packing. It is a crucial part of developing products and improving the profile of the foods we consume. For example, recently M&S and Tesco fortified their mushrooms with Vitamin D, an essential vitamin particularly in the UK in the grey winter months!
Genetically modified foods have been tested for safety and the pesticides present on the foods we eat pose no risk to our health. Make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables and you have nothing to worry about.
********* ‘DETOX & ALKALINE DIETS *********
Kimberly is an advocate of detoxing and has built her career on the notion that we must follow a detox diet or alkaline diet. The principle behind this diet is that certain foods make our bodies acidic and we should balance this acidity by choosing specific foods to neutralise these effects. This is completely untrue. Our bodies are naturally fully capable of removing toxins (detoxing) by two unique organs: the liver and kidneys. Read previous article on The Truth About Detoxing.
Finally, we leave you with two tips:
“A healthy diet is more about what you keep in your diet as much as what you cut out. Over-restricting your diet with unnecessary food avoidance makes it SO much harder to achieve the health benefits you’re striving for.”
“Scrutinising individual foods by using sensational fear tactics provokes an unhealthy relationship with food. My top tip: Check the credentials of the author – if they’re not a registered dietitian or registered nutritionist, then find another source where the claims are backed up by solid scientific evidence.”