We often hear food advice from the infamous “they.” You know, someone will tell you “they” say you should eat this or don’t eat that. We rarely know who “they” are, but for some reason these bits of information become facts. 

It’s time to set the record straight on 10 common nutrition myths.

You should drink eight glasses of water a day

The eight-glass benchmark was never really based on much science. The amount of water a person should drink to keep their body hydrated depends on their body size, the daily activities they’re doing and the temperature/weather conditions.

Don’t judge your level of hydration by how thirsty you feel. A better indicator is the colour of your urine, which should be pale yellow.

Eating late at night makes you gain more weight

Not necessarily. The body needs to process calories whether they’re consumed in the morning or at night, and your metabolism doesn’t slow down at night.

The downfall of eating at night is that we tend to eat when we’re tired or distracted by TV, leading to unhealthy choices. Even if your schedule means you work out in the evening, you still need to eat healthy food afterward.

Low-fat food is always the best choice

Talking about fat in food can lead to confusion. There’s a belief fat in food creates the fat in our body. That’s a mismatch in vocabulary. Fat is a critical nutrient for our bodies.

If you remove fat from food, you’re changing the taste of the food and the way the body processes it. To improve the taste, something else is usually added and that’s often more sugar, salt and chemical flavouring.

A low-carbohydrate diet is the best way to lose weight

People can lose weight on any diet. Simply put, your body must expend more calories than it takes in. That can be done by eating low carbs, high carbs – any way at all.

When we do cut out carbs, we tend to see a dramatic slash in calorie consumption. Naturally, this leads to losing weight, but you don’t have to go low carb to do so.

Red meat is bad for you

A lot of studies vilifying red meat haven’t made the distinction between a quality piece of pasture-raised meat or something like a hot dog, cold cuts or hamburger with added antibiotics or hormones. You can’t lump them all into one category.

A cow raised on grass fattens up much slower, leading to more lean meat. The natural omega-3s from the grass are also incorporated into the meat.

You should only eat organic food

Not all food is necessarily healthier just because it’s organic.

Have you heard of the “Dirty Dozen”? It’s a list of foods that are often grown with pesticides, including strawberries, spinach, tomatoes and apples. It’s those foods that are better if they’re organic, even though organic prices are usually higher. 

There is also the “Clean 15”, foods that mainly have thick skins such as avocados and sweet corn. They don’t need to be organic because they’re protected and not affected by pesticide residue.

It's better to eat small meals throughout the day

The common theory behind this is that eating small amounts during the day keeps our blood sugar regulated and we’re going to burn more calories. However, if you eat a balanced diet of fats, carbohydrates and protein, you shouldn’t have big swings in your blood-sugar levels or crashes of energy if you haven’t eaten anything in four hours.

There’s also no science proving you’re going to increase your metabolic rate by eating more frequently. In fact, sometimes if you eat more often, you end up just snacking all the time and don’t sit down for a good meal.

Yogurt is a healthy snack

This depends on your choice of yogurt. About 90 per cent of yogurt isn’t a healthy snack because of the sugar that’s added to the popular flavoured types.

Plain Greek yogurt has much less sugar and it’s naturally occurring sugar is in the lactose.  Add some fresh fruit to give it a natural flavour boost.

It's better to cook with olive oil

Olive oil shouldn’t be cooked at a high heat because it can easily burn, plus, if it’s extra-virgin, unrefined olive oil, the cooking can destroy its vitamin E.

Saturated fats such as butter should be cooked gently and polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oil shouldn’t be cooked at all because they can go rancid during the heating process.

When it comes to using oils that aren’t cooked, it’s really about quality. Buying cold-pressed oils that haven’t been treated with deodorizers and chemicals is what you should aim for.

Salt is bad for you

Our body needs salt because it helps with the function of enzymes and adrenal glands, which manage our stress hormones. Additionally, studies have shown a lack of salt can lead to a loss of taste and smell and cramping if you sweat.

Some foods naturally have sodium such as seafood. It’s how much we add to food that can be a problem.

Now you know 10 nutrition facts. The next time you hear advice from “they”, take it with a grain of salt.