Busting 10 Diet Myths
The theory: Protein and carbohydrates require different enzymes for digestion; if you eat the two separately, you improve digestion and further weight loss.
The reality: Your digestive tract can handle a variety of food groups at the same time. There is no proof that eating protein and carbohydrates separately aids digestion or weight loss, says nutritionist Christopher Gardner. Indeed, it's healthier to combine protein and fiber-filled carbs than to separate them. "The pairing of protein and fiber is what fills you up the most and gives you the most energy," says Elisa Zied, a New York City-based registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "An apple is good, but an apple with peanut butter is more filling." Also, some of the best foods for you―nuts, seeds, legumes―are made up of both protein and carbohydrates. "To people who say that you should separate protein and carbohydrates, I say, 'Why did God make beans?'" says dietitian Ellie Krieger.
The best advice: Eat protein along with carbs, but choose with care. The best protein choices are lean meats, poultry, low-fat dairy products, and tofu, because they have little (if any) saturated fat. The best carbs are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which offer more health benefits than refined grains. "Those foods take longer to absorb, so there's a slower release into the body and a more steady energy source," says Hope Barkoukis, an assistant professor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland.