Nutrition, true or false?

There are a lot of misconceptions about food and nutrition. Likely, you have heard some expert say any number of the following. So what do you think about these popular nutrition/fitness beliefs? 12th Street Gym trainer Jim Hart will help you sort out fact from fiction. 1. “Fat free” means fat free Don’t assume the label “fat free” gives you a license to eat as much as you want of your favorite snack without gaining weight. The label “nonfat” means a product has less than half a gram of fat per serving than the full-fat version, but usually will contain high amounts of sugar to make up for taste and texture, so you are usually consuming empty calories without nutrients. Beware of over-indulging in fat-free cakes, cookies and ice cream or you may wind up with a bigger gut. Treat yourself once a week to a portion-controlled serving of the real thing at an ice cream shop or bakery and satisfy your craving. 2. Fasting after 6 p.m. will help you lose weight

If you live a sedentary lifestyle, this makes sense. But, if you are a reasonably active person trying to build muscle, your body needs nutrients to build and repair muscles while you sleep. Yogurt, cottage cheese and protein shakes are great choices. A recent study shows it’s not the time of day that calories are consumed but the overall amount that leads to weight gain. 3. Fruit juice is a better alternative to soda A half-cup serving of orange or apple juice has as much sugar per ounce as a regular Coke! For a lower sugar, higher-fiber alternative, eat an apple or an orange instead of drinking its juice. 4. A calorie is a calorie

The number of calories you consume is not the only determining factor in how you lose or gain weight. Be sure to consider the type of calories. Look for foods with lower calories from fat. Also, eating high-fiber foods will discourage your body from storing fat.

The size, frequency and timing of meals are also important. Large, infrequent meals promote fat storage while small, frequent meals increase metabolism, maintain higher energy levels and promote better nutrient absorption. Instead of one or two large meals a day, try several smaller meals throughout the day to combat weight gain. 5. Eggs will give you high cholesterol Eggs are back! They are truly a low-cost wonder food. A large egg has 70 calories, 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of healthy fat. They contain all the B vitamins and choline, a nutrient your body uses to prevent fat deposits in the liver. As for cholesterol, the liver pumps cholesterol out regardless of the amount consumed, so the amount that comes from food doesn’t matter as much. 6. Pasta and potatoes make you fat Did someone say low-carb diet? These food staples have fallen victim to the false premise that carbohydrate consumption equals weight gain. Slumping sales of flour-based products such as bread and pasta and the decline of potato and orange juice sales have forced these industries to hold emergency meetings to come up with ways to convince the public that these products aren’t bad for you. Like anything else, portion control is the key. Most restaurant-sized portions of pastas and baked or mashed potatoes are three to four times larger than a normal serving — and they are usually served up with high doses of cream, cheese and butter. It’s no wonder people get fat from them! Eat one cup of cooked pasta tossed with lots of fresh vegetables and tomato sauce. Eat a small baked potato and, instead of butter, use nonfat sour cream or salsa. Here’s the point: Be careful what you eat and be careful what you believe! Popular myths don’t always hold up to reality and can get in the way of smart eating and achieving your fitness goals. Jim Hart is a registered personal trainer at 12th Street Gym. For more information, visit or