There’s no shortage of fabrications and old wives’ tales when it comes to food. (Just think of how many kids are convinced that apples will grow in their stomachs if they eat the seeds!) After you’ve heard them enough times, it’s a challenge to differentiate between dietary fact and fiction.

But don’t fret: At some point, everyone falls prey to misinformation about nutrition—much of which centers on calories, fat, and weight management. To help, we expose oft-repeated fallacies right here.

Myth 1: It’s better to drizzle fat-free dressing on your salads.

Truth: This assumption is fundamentally flawed in three big ways. First, active women need fat for many different bodily functions, including proper hormone development, energy production and brain function, says Heidi Skolnik, MS, CN, a nutritionist with the Women’s Sports Medicine Center in New York City. Opt for bland dressing sans this macronutrient and you’re already behind the eight ball. Next, Skolnik points out that many fat-free dressings are pumped full of sugar to boost taste.

Myth 2: White poultry meat is better than dark.

Truth: The notion that you should be chicken about eating dark meat is without merit. What gives the dark meat of chicken or turkey its overcast appearance are high amounts of myoglobin, which provides oxygen to working muscles. Chickens and turkeys don’t fly, meaning they walk a lot, so their leg (thigh) meat is saturated with myoglobin while their breast and wing meats are paler due to low levels of this compound.

Compared to white meat, dark meat has only a few more calories and a measly

Myth 3: All saturated fat is bad for your health.

Truth: Porterhouse and Gorgonzola lovers rejoice! Some saturated fat is harmless and may actually be good for you. Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) researchers found that women who had the highest saturated fat intake had the least amount of plaque buildup in their arteries and a better balance of good and bad cholesterol levels.

Previous studies blaming this much-maligned fat for heart disease, obesity and diabetes have been fraught with shortcomings. It seems a key element in

Myth 4: If you want lean muscle and fat loss, you should shun all carbs.

Truth: Never mind the late Dr. Atkins, you need carbs to build a lean, muscular physique. Much of that, according to Skolnik, is because carbohydrates are the primary fuel for muscle cells during high-intensity workouts. A revved-up gym session burns a ton of calories and stimulates muscle growth, both of which translate into a leaner, meaner you. Take away all the pasta, rice and potatoes and your muscles may be forced to convert protein into energy–a definite contradiction to muscle growth.