Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Diets and Falacies (V): Other extreme diets.

Other extreme diets
There are many other extreme diets like the ‘cabbage diet’ and the ‘bread and water diet’. These extreme diets fly in the face of healthy eating and I do not recommend anyone partake in such health-damaging food regimes.

Another terrible trap to avoid is skipping meals. This may seem a good way to reduce calories, but in fact is very bad for you and will cause long-term weight gain.
Over the centuries of human existence we have been through hardships and famine. From this our bodies have developed a defense mechanism to combat long periods without food.

After skipping meals or going for long periods without eating our bodies release huge amounts of insulin to store the next thing we eat as fat so it can be slowly used in case the perceived famine continues.

Therefore, eat regularly and do not let yourself get over hungry and your body will reward you by using the food for energy throughout the day.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Diets and Falacies (IV): Low GI diet

Low GI diet

Carbohydrates are all classified on a scale depending on how fast they release sugars into the blood stream. Glucose is 100 and no food is 0. This is called the Glyciemic Index.

Foods are known as high glyciemic if they are 70 and above, medium is 56 to 69, and low is below 55. High GI foods include bread, potato, white rice, pasta, sweets, banana and most dried fruits. Low GI foods include apple, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lean meat and fish. 

When high GI foods are consumed there is a large spike in your blood sugar levels. The body reacts by releasing the hormone insulin whose job it is to lower blood sugar levels by gathering up blood glucose and storing it in fat cells.

A high spike in blood glucose will cause a large spike in insulin. This causes blood sugars to drop dramatically, often too low. In turn, this gives a person a low energy, flat feeling and a desire for more high GI foods. The same cycle repeats itself in a yoyo fashion all day – gaining body fat with low energy slumps.
The body functions best when blood sugars are at a constant level. By eating medium to low GI foods the blood sugars stay lower and energy is released at more constant level.
Less insulin is released and food is used for energy and not put into storage. There is a lower desire for sweet sugar foods and you feel less hungry.
The GI level of carbohydrates can be lowered by adding protein or fibre. For example add seeds or almond slithers to cereal or yoghurt.
As a guideline to a healthy diet and to assist weight loss I recommend people eat low GI foods and avoid high GI foods.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Diets: Facts and Falacies (III). The low fat diet.

The low fat diet
Fat has higher levels of calories per gram than either proteins or carbohydrates.

The low fat diet can therefore be a good way to reduce the total amount of calories consumed.

Although fat has a bad reputation, it is also vital for us to live. Fat is:

1. our energy store: fat is stored energy to be used when there is not food.

2. insulation: our body is insulated by fat to keep us warm.
3. organ protector: organs are protected by a layer of fat.
4. toxin storage system: toxins are removed from the body are stored in our fat cells.

The problem with a low fat diet is that it is very hard to find good sources of proteins that are low in fats. The body also needs ‘good fats’, omega 3 and 6. Good sources of these are found in fish, nuts, olive oil and avocado.

I would recommend reducing saturated fats (animal fats, butter, eggs, red meat...) and trans fats (margarine, chips, fast food, baked products, cereals...) rather than putting all fats in the same category.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Diets: Facts and Falacies (II). The Low Carbohydrate Diet (LCD).

The Low Carbohydrate Diet (LCD)

The low carb diet is another commonly used diet. There are many different structures, some good and some bad.

Basically the person drastically reduces the amount of carbohydrate (sugars) they consume.
This includes all flour and sugar products, breads, cereals, rice, pasta, potato, grains, processed foods and even fruit. 

When the carb intake is extremely low the body switches to a state called ketosis. This is where the body turns fat and proteins into sugar for use of energy. If you switch to a higher-protein, higher-fat, higher-fibre and lower-carb diet you won’t have enough sugar to burn as fuel and your body will have to make its own, mostly from fat and some protein.

1. Low carb diets do work but can have negative effects. For instance, lack of fruit and fibre cause the bowel to slow, and vitamin levels suffer.
2. The human brain needs carbohydrates so brain function and concentration may be impaired.

I would only recommend a more flexible LCD that allows fruit and some good carbohydrates during the day, or a simple version where you drop starchy carbs from the diet like bread, pasta and potato.


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Diets: Facts and Falacies (I). Why NOT to do a VLCD.

Weight loss or body fat reduction is a problem that hangs around like a bad smell. Many people are constantly worrying about or battling this issue. For some, it is the major battle in their lives.

There is a huge amount of information available on this subject, much of it conflicting. No wonder most people are confused about the correct way to go about reducing their body fat. Hopefully these series of posts will set you on the right track.

As the world has evolved into a place of convenience and abundance, our waistlines have expanded accordingly. Over the past 100 years the human lifestyle has changed dramatically. Thanks to technology our daily physical activity has decreased resulting in a far smaller energy output. This, coupled with an increase in our intake of processed and pre-prepared foods that are very high in calories and often low in nutrition, has caused an increase in the numbers of overweight people. The consequence has been a skyrocketing amount of body fat in the western world!

Reducing body fat comes down to two major components, exercise and diet. Many you may also have tried several types of diets or eating plans. Some may have been a complete failure, some may have affected your health, and some may have worked in the short-term. Many diets are confusing, hard to follow, and virtually impossible to maintain in the long-term. In these series of posts I want to touch on a few common diets and give my opinion of them. Today:

Why NOT to do a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet)

The VLCD is one of the most common diets attempted by the average person. Followers consume only a very small number of calories in a given day. The calories consumed are much lower than the amount used by the body. This causes the body to source the extra calories it needs from fat and muscle tissues.
1. This diet may be effective in the short term but is very hard to maintain over a long period. As soon as the person begins to eat normally again the weight goes back on much faster than it came off.
2. The VLCD has some negative effects on your health. Energy levels suffer and the body’s metabolism slows down. The body begins to burn muscle as fuel which slows the metabolism even more.
I personally do not recommend this type of diet to anyone!