Most of us know not to trust every piece of health advice we read in the news. Yet, some tips are so persistent that we hear them everywhere, even if they’re extremely wrong. And since medical knowledge changes over time, many of the healthy living tips we presume that are cold hard facts are actually under debate within the medical community—or even considered downright bad. Here are the current trendy pieces of advice that professionals most vehemently disagree with.
1. Go easy on soy to prevent breast cancer.
You might’ve heard that foods like tofu and tempeh contain phytoestrogens, which mimic estrogen, potentially leading to cancer and hormonal imbalances. But while some forms of breast cancer are tied to estrogen-related problems, soy will not likely have this effect, says registered dietician Edwina Clark. In fact, soy has actually been shown to protect against cancer. Even on the off-chance that a lot of soy could be risky, consuming one or two servings a day definitely won’t hurt you.
2. Eat a high-fat, low-carb diet to optimize workouts.
Some athletes are told to avoid carbs to perform at their peak, but this could actually be sabotaging them. “Carbohydrate remains the most important fuel during high-intensity exercise, and there are countless studies to prove it,” says Clark. Lowering carbs may work for certain elite athletes during endurance training, but it’s not something everyday people should be doing, especially without the guidance of a trainer.
3. Supplements don’t work.
While you should aim to get all the nutrients you need from food, that’s really hard to do when you don’t have a dietitian planning your meals, and vitamins and other supplements can help pick up where your food leaves off. Registered dietitian Samantha Bielawski recommends multivitamins, Omega-3, magnesium, and probiotics.
4. Start your day with whole grains.
You might’ve heard that whole grains leave you feeling full, but they could actually have the opposite effect, says Bielawski. Since they make your blood glucose levels spike, they could lead you to crave carbs just hours into the morning. If you want a breakfast that holds you over until lunch, eggs are a better option.
5. Eat lots of small meals.
At some point over the past few years, it became popular to advocate eating many small meals or snacks throughout the day rather than just three meals. But while you can do this, it isn’t best for everyone, and it’s definitely not necessary. “Some people do better eating more frequently, while others do better eating their three square meals per day,” Bielawski explains. “Some do better with occasional intermittent fasting. Do not force yourself into the often inconvenient routine of eating every two hours if that’s not a sustainable option for your schedule.”
6. You’ll lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume.
Calculating calories is not an effective weight-loss strategy, says Bielawski. “The caloric value on the label is not equal to the caloric value of the food once it’s inside our body,” she explains. For example, some foods can speed up or slow down your metabolism. Plus, if you plan to cut down on calories, you need to make sure you’re still getting the nutrients you need and eating foods that leave you satisfied, or else you can end up in an unhealthy cycle of weight loss, weight gain, and generally poor health.
7. Get outside to get your vitamin D.
While going out in the sun can up your vitamin D levels, the risks certainly outweigh the benefits, says dermatologist Delphine J. Lee, M.D. “Ultraviolet light is a carcinogen, like a cigarette smoke,” she explains. “Think of it this way: if someone said you could get vitamin D or some other nutritional supplement from smoking a cigarette, would you take up smoking?” Instead, make sure to apply sunscreen when you’re out in the sun, and if you’re deficient in vitamin D, a supplement is a way safer option.