By: Taylor Eisenstein
Benardot structured his lecture by first presenting a misperception about nutrition and then correcting that statement with the reality, while providing specific examples to support his points. The misperceptions he addressed are as follows:
Misperception #1: Weight is a good indicator of health and well-being. Benardot first noted how individuals often misinterpret their weights. “Weight is the wrong measure for virtually everything that it is commonly used for,” he noted. When we measure our weights, we often neglect to consider what we are weighing. Our bodies are composed of lean mass, bone mass, fat mass, and body water, he said.
Misperception #2: The energy cost of exercise is always the same. Benardot explained that this is not the case; in fact, humans tend to burn less energy the more that they perform a specific exercise.
Misperception #3: Only eating too much will make you fat. Eating too little can be just as detrimental to a person’s health. In fact, some studies illustrate that obesity tends to be more prevalent in breakfast ‘skippers’ than consumers.[1,2]
Misperception #4: Low calorie diets are an effective weight loss strategy. Like the previous point asserts, low calorie diets may lead to an increased BMI. Dr. Benardot explained that approximately 95 percent of low calorie diets are “doomed to fail.”
Misperception #5: Supplements are an effective means of improving nutritional status. Supplements can be detrimental because an excess of nutrients can lead to toxicity. A study performed in 2011 noted that certain supplements might be associated with increased mortality risk. “More than enough [nutrients] is not better than enough,” Benardot said.
Misperception #6: Focusing on perfect foods assures good nutritional status. Different types of food provide different types of nutrients; therefore, eating one type of food does not provide you with all the nutrients that you need. “There is no single food that can supply all of the phytonutrients associated with good health,” noted Benardot.
Misperception #8: Diets help you lose body fat. The body requires an adequate energy intake, and diets lower one's energy intake. According to Benardot, the body's reaction to a lower energy intake is to "lower the tissue that needs energy." That's lean mass—not fat mass.
Misperception #9: 3,500 calories = one pound of body tissue. Simply put, as Dr. Benardot said, humans are not “bomb calorimeters.”
Misperception #10: If you eat (calories in) the same calories you expend (calories out) over a day, weight stays the same. Wrong. A human's body does not work according to a 24-hour system. Benardot explained, "Humans have endocrine systems that react in real time."
1. Deshmukh-Taskar, P. R., Nicklas, T. A., O'Neil, C. E., Keast, D. R., Radcliffe, J. D., & Cho, S. (2010). The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumption with nutrient intake and weight status in children and adolescents: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2006. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(6), 869-878. Chicago
2. Cho, S., Dietrich, M., Brown, C. J., Clark, C. A., & Block, G. (2003). The effect of breakfast type on total daily energy intake and body mass index: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 22(4), 296-302.
3. Mursu, J., Robien, K., Harnack, L. J., Park, K., & Jacobs, D. R. (2011). Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women: the Iowa Women's Health Study. Archives of internal medicine, 171(18), 1625-1633.