Nutrition Misinformation: 12 Myths that are Holding Back Your Health

Let's bust some common nutrition myths circulating online that might be slowing your progress toward achieving your health goals.

Nutrition Misinformation: 12 Myths that are Holding Back Your Health

The internet has put a healthy lifestyle at our fingertips — a quick search or scroll on social media can teach you everything you need to know about what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat it. But rather than a fast track to a lean body and boundless strength, most of what you learn will be entirely incorrect. From personal experiences portrayed as scientific credibility to legitimate dieticians being paid to push harmful products, nutrition misinformation is rife.

Zing Coach surveyed 2000 people to work out the most common nutrition misconceptions getting in the way of our health goals. If you’ve heard any of these before, here’s why they’re best ignored to keep your body and mind in peak condition.

Key Takeaways

  • A third of people are willing to skip meals in order to shed the pounds. Yet, research shows eating too little slows metabolism, ultimately leading to weight gain.
  • Some 19% of people worryingly believe all sugar is bad, and 18% believe cutting fat is the secret to a slimmer waist. Likewise, 65% of people believe eating before bed leads to weight gain.,
  • However, research shows it isn’t so much about when or how much you eat. It’s a matter of providing your body with everything it needs and eating in moderation.

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1. “Exercise won’t work unless I’m watching what I eat”

87% of people believe that, without control of nutrition, exercising won't produce the desired results.

Some 87% of people believe exercise is pointless without proper nutrition. It is important that your body gets the right nutrients to keep it healthy and energized, while you need protein to maintain muscle. But if you find counting calories and watching what you eat demotivating, you don’t need to cut out your favorite foods entirely. It’s a matter of meeting your body’s needs and eating in moderation.

2. “Eating less will help me to lose weight”

36% of people would skip meals to lose weight.

More than a third of people are willing to skip meals in order to slim down. Yet, research shows that starvation is an ineffective way to shed weight. When you skip a meal, your body’s natural mechanisms cause your metabolism to slow and calorie intake to increase. As soon as you start eating again, you’re going to pack on the pounds.

3. “I won’t lose weight if I don’t eat fewer calories than I burn”

59% of people believe that being in a calorie deficit is necessary to achieve a lean body.

Almost two thirds of people believe a calorie deficit is vital to achieving the model look. Yet, body composition is influenced by numerous factors: muscle mass, hormonal balance, and overall metabolism. It isn’t how much you eat; It’s what you eat — and it’s entirely possible to build muscle and shed body fat simply by maintaining a protein- and nutrient-dense diet.

4. “If I want to look healthy, I just need to eat less fat”

1 in 5 people think that eating fat makes you fat.

For 18% of people, the weight loss journey starts with cutting fatty foods. Yet, a daily dose of fat is an essential part of a balanced diet. Mono and polyunsaturated fat — alternatively known as ‘healthy fat’ — are not only great for our cardiovascular health, but they help us to feel full (and avoid snacking).

5. “Low-fat food is always the healthiest option”

3 in 10 people agree that low-fat or fat-free foods are always healthier.

Some 28% believe that low-fat or fat-free foods are always the best option, but it’s impossible to know without scouring the ingredients list first. To compensate for the loss of flavor, many products are packed with unhealthy ingredients, which will ultimately leave your body worse off.

6. “I can’t eat sugar if I want a good body”

1 in 5 people believe that all sugar is bad.

Almost a quarter of people believe that sugar plays no part in a healthy diet. While excessive sugar intake will slow your weight loss down and eventually lead to health issues, moderate doses of naturally occurring sugars will pack your body with nutrients — providing vital workout fuel.

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7. “I need a protein shake if I want to make progress”

27% of people think that protein shakes are necessary to gain muscle.

Some 27% believe that it’s impossible to achieve a ripped aesthetic without a protein shake to start their workout. There’s no doubt protein is essential to muscle repair and growth, yet the average person gets more than enough from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. You don’t need a shake unless there’s a deficiency in your diet.

8. “There’s no harm in having another protein shake”

2 in 3 people believe that you shouldn't eat too much protein.

Some 67% of people believe that consuming excessive amounts of protein can have a negative impact on our health. Too much protein can damage our kidneys and contribute to heart disease, but fortunately, it’s virtually impossible to consume a dangerous amount, and the odds of experiencing any adverse effects are slim.

9. “I can’t eat until after I’ve worked out”

1 in 5 people believe that you should work out on an empty stomach.

For 18% of people, one of the hardest parts of staying fit is fighting the urge to eat before a workout. Yet, without an adequate supply of energy, the body struggles to maintain intensity. For optimal results, eat a balanced meal containing carbohydrates and protein an hour or two before you hit the gym.

10. “I’ll put on weight if I eat after 7 pm”

65% of people believe that eating before bed makes you gain weight.

With intermittent fasting today’s go-to weight loss technique, 65% of people believe eating before bed will undo all their hard work. While effective, it isn’t the timing of meals that matter, but the reduced number of calories consumed. Eat less, lose more — whether it’s day or night.

11. “I need to detox in order to stay healthy”

65 of people think that everybody should detox regularly.

Almost two-thirds of people believe detoxes are vital to rid the body of toxins. The reality is that our bodies are excellent at keeping themselves fit and healthy and don’t need us to spot them. With our livers and kidneys working as a built-in detoxification system, there’s little evidence that detox diets serve any real benefit.

12. “I can’t afford to live a healthy lifestyle”

44 of people believe eating healthy is very expensive.

Healthy food has a reputation that while good on the waistline, it’s not so good on the wallet. Some 44% of people believe eating healthy is expensive. That’s often true. Yet, there are plenty of affordable options — beans, lentils, whole grains, and frozen fruit and vegetables — that can enable anyone to maintain a healthy body and a healthy bank balance.


To create this study, researchers from Zing Coach surveyed 2000 people aged over 18. Participants were selected at random and with no focus on particular genders, ethnicities, social backgrounds, or body size and shape.

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