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6 summer diet myths debunked

When it comes to health and fitness advice, the conflicting viewpoints can leave us baffled. Is fat the devil? Is it carbs we should be avoiding? Are smoothies good for you?

Loosing weight

Nutritionist and neuroscientist Victoria Wills, founder of the NuBeginnings weight loss plan, exposes the health myths that are really holding you back…

Myth 1: You should avoid fat to lose weight

Throughout the 80s, a notion persisted a fat-free diet would result in a fat-free body. Now, in hindsight, it’s thought this bogus advice has actually made obesity and diabetes rates worse. If you take the fat out of food, it doesn’t taste as nice. The big food companies cottoned on to this and substituted fat for sugars, sweeteners and salt, creating a whole new wave of unhealthy cravings. And because of this added sugar, ‘low-fat’ versions of food in your supermarket actually contain more calories than their normal counterparts. Fat is good for you – in moderation of course – and is necessary for a healthy brain, plus skin and heart function. Unless it’s dangerous ‘trans fat’, found in processed foods; eliminating it is simply a bad idea.

Myth 2: You can eat what you want as long as you exercise

Wrong. The amount of exercise needed to lose just one pound of fat is 3,500 calories. To burn through that relatively small amount of lard, you’d need to run non-stop for six hours at a steady speed of 5mph, even longer if you’re going slightly slower. So, looking at the scientific stats, it’s not hard to see why it can be hard for even the healthiest people to keep the weight off through physical activity alone. As with anything, you need to combine it with a healthy eating plan.

Myth 3: Smoothies will help your diet

According to America’s Boston University, as humans we don’t gauge the number of calories in liquids nearly as well as we do for those in food. This means they are less satisfying and confuse the internal mechanisms that help us feel full, so we often indulge a little too much. Some juices and smoothies are often crammed with sugars. When you ‘juice’ a fruit, the fibre, cellulose and the roughage is removed. That gets rid of everything that was in the natural fruit, which slows down the absorption of the sugars into the blood. So when you have a large smoothie, it’s going to cause a blood sugar spike. That in turn creates a big release of insulin – a hormone known to aid the production of fat.

Myth 4: You should cut out entire food groups

There are many modern diets that tell you cutting out certain food groups entirely – fat, carbohydrates, meat, etc – can be great if you want to get in shape. But as far as the science is concerned, it’s not a great idea unless you want to feel tired, lethargic and grumpy. It’s all down to the nine essential amino acids your body requires to function well. They’re ‘essential’ because they can’t be made by you – instead you have to get them from food and drink. And by cutting out certain food groups, you end up depriving yourself of certain amino acids, which can lead to all sorts of problems. Remember – everything in moderation, and don’t skimp on the everything bit.

Myth 5: Olive oil products are always good for you

In its pure, cold-pressed form, yes it is. In fact, olive oil is really good for you, aiding in everything from preventing heart attacks to stopping you going blind in old age, because it’s full of lovely unsaturated fats and healthy HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol. But when it comes to ‘spreadable’ olive oil – the type that looks like butter on the supermarket shelves – it’s another thing altogether. These spreads are generally loaded with bad trans fats. And, without naming names, have a look at just how much actual olive oil is in the product – some are just four per cent olive oil, while the other 96 per cent is… not nice at all. Traditional butter is a much better choice.

Myth 6: You should starve yourself for a day a week

When your body is starved of food, your metabolism goes haywire. Your body wonders where all the good stuff has gone and slows down its calorie burning process in order to conserve energy. When you start eating normally again, your metabolism is still in its chilled-out, relaxed state. It can’t be bothered to start burning through the calories you’ve just ingested. And so, hey presto; more of the food you normally eat gets stored as fat and you put on even more weight than before. Likewise, simply eating fewer calories can often have a negative effect – you’re too tired to go to the gym so any weight you do lose comes from water, muscle and fat, when you only really want to lose the fat!

For information about NuBeginnings visit nubeginnings.co.uk

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