News alert: IIFYM, Sugar, & Sweeteners

I have always been fascinated by the strange world of nutrition science (or lack thereof); every day there is a new diet in the news or a new supplement with promises for weight loss or muscle gain. It’s exhausting to follow all of the new trends, but one trend that has caught on across social media is called IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). This diet, or lifestyle, is about breaking down your diet by nutrient: carb, fat, & protein. It’s not about what you’re eating, but instead about the nutritional breakdown. For example, x amount of cotton candy is 50 carbs, but so is a huge bowl of fruit–and thus, those two food choices are counted equally.

A lot of individuals say this makes them feel free to eat “unhealthy” foods without guilt; if that is what it takes for you to have a balanced diet, then more power to you. I personally think food should never come with guilt–whether you’re choosing to eat that cotton candy or the fruit. Instead, see how you feel. I know I would savor and enjoy the fruit, while the cotton candy would leave me on a sugar high & crash. Sure, enjoying cotton candy at the county fair once a year is fun, but it’s not what I would consider a balanced diet.

Despite this IIFYM obsession, I read a recent article that concludes that sugar sweetened beverages, when compared to starchy carb equivalents, have a more harmful effect & increase cardiometabolic risk factors.

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These same researchers also concluded that there is no strong evidence supporting the idea that noncaloric sweeteners (like Splenda, aspartame, etc.) contribute to weight gain. A quick google search shows that popular media has run wild with the idea that fake sugars will only increase weight, but there is little support for this theory. Takeaway: If you’re going to drink Coke or Diet Coke no matter what, drink the Diet Coke.

Nutrition is about balance and for a lot of people, simple harm reduction. One fewer sugar-sweetened soda. One extra serving of veggies. All of these small daily choices add up over a lifetime. Use your common sense, and don’t believe everything you read.

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How do you make your nutritional choices? Do you drink regular or diet soda?

Hannah

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