Health

Popular diet myths exposed and debunked!

Dr Sally Norton, health and weight loss consultant surgeon, clears up some common misconceptions about the best ways to lose weight 

MYTH #1 Dieting is the best way to lose weight 

Research shows that when women, in particular, want to lose weight they turn to dieting. Unfortunately, research also shows that this is highly unlikely to lead to long-term weight-loss with over 85% of people regaining all of the weight they have lost, and more, by a year after the diet.

This can then lead to the misery of yo-yo dieting, which can be harmful for health and is no way to live your life. Instead, you are much better making a few changes to your lifestyle and eating habits that you can keep up for good.

MYTH #2 You need a good breakfast 

A recent study confirmed that whether you have a good breakfast or not makes no difference to weight loss. Everyone is different – you may be an early riser or a night-owl when it comes to sleep, so it is not surprising that your breakfast desires may be different, too. Listen to your body when it comes to eating – if you are having proper nutritious food, your body will tell you when it needs fuelling. If you focus on a bit of protein (as confirmed by other recent research) and avoid sugar and processed carbs then whether you have a quick snack or a feast for breakfast is entirely up to you!unnamed (60)

MYTH #3 You need to eat regular snacks throughout the day 

It is often said in dieting folklore that eating little and often stops you getting so hungry and encourages you to burn off more energy. However, I believe that our inner cavewoman would disagree. Our bodies weren’t built for constant snacking – particularly on the sort of food we eat nowadays. You are better off getting used to going without food for a few hours at a time – it helps you understand that you are often not eating from hunger, just from habit…and that “hunger” can be ignored for a while without us falling flat on the floor! Recent research backs up this view showing that women who ate 2 meals or 5 meals of the same calorie content, showed no difference in the amount of energy they burnt off. Interestingly, it also showed that eating more frequent meals produced more signs of inflammation in the body (and therefore may increase risk of disease) than eating less frequently.

MYTH #4 Exercise doesn’t really help weight loss unnamed (59)

Yes, in a very literal sense, exercise does not lead to weight loss – if you believe that all an hour of exercise does is burn off 200 calories worth of a 400 calorie doughnut.

But it isn’t black and white like that. Losing weight isn’t just about making sure that energy out is more than energy in…we are much more complex as human beings than that overly simplistic model!

The research abounds with studies showing that exercise can help weight loss in other ways. Exercise builds up muscle – which burns more energy in the longer term. If we are more muscular, we are more toned, have better posture and thus look slimmer. Looking good makes us feel better about ourselves – and if we feel fit and healthy we are more likely to make healthier choices – which promotes weight loss. Rather than a vicious cycle (like dieting!) it is a win-win situation!

Also, exercise, particularly in the cold, seems to increase the ‘fat-burning’ brown fat, which is found more commonly in people who keep a healthy weight.

There is also evidence that aerobic exercise reduces the risk of developing tummy fat and metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease).

What’s more, just getting out in the fresh air makes most of us feel so much happier – not to mention giving us a top up of Vitamin D!

I won’t be hanging up my trainers, that’s for sure!

MYTH #5 We should be stocking up on low-fat foods to lose weight 

The myth that fat is bad has been particularly harmful to our health and waistline. Many fats are healthy in moderation – and yet we are bombarded with low-fat yoghurts, “slimming” ready-meals and processed spreads that are bulked up with sugar, salt or chemical nasties that provide little, if any, nutrition.

Butter, cheese, full-fat yoghurt and other dairy and animal fats are natural and seldom processed, unlike many low-fat alternatives. Coconut oil is another fat that has recently been enjoying popularity.

Of all of the diets that have been shown to help weight-loss, it is not the low-fat diet that wins out. In fact, the low-carb high-fat diet seems to be most successful – though long-term weight-loss is no better with this diet than with any others that can’t be made part of your day-to-day life.

You are therefore best off focusing on real food – that means avoiding anything processed wherever possible. By doing so you will automatically be reducing your refined carbs, eating natural fats and proteins, bulking up with fruit and veg – and dramatically cutting down on your sugar intake.

That is the best tip I can give for weight-loss that lasts!

For more health and weight loss tips from Dr Sally Norton, visit her website at vavistalife.com 

Health

Fasting diets reduce important risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Fasting diets (based on intermittent energy restriction) clear fat from the blood faster after eating meals than daily calorie restriction diets – therefore reducing an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

That’s according to a report in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) following the first study of its kind in which the University of Surrey examined the impact of the 5:2 diet on the body’s ability to metabolise – as well as clear – fat and glucose after a meal.

Researchers compared it to the effects of weight loss achieved by a more conventional daily calorie restriction diet, whereas previous studies have predominantly focused on blood risk markers taken in the fasted state, which only tends to be overnight.

During the study, overweight participants were assigned to either the 5:2 diet or a daily calorie restriction diet and were required to lose five per cent of their weight.

Those on the 5:2 diet ate normally for five days and for their two fasting days consumed 600 calories, using LighterLife Fast Foodpacks, while those on the daily diet were advised to eat 600 calories less per day than their estimated requirements for weight maintenance (in the study women ate approx. 1400 calories, men ate approx. 1900 calories/day).

Under the expert guidance of the team, those on the 5:2 diet achieved 5 per cent weight-loss in 59 days compared to those on the daily calorie restriction diet who achieved their goal in 73 days.

27 participants completed the study, with approximately 20 per cent of participants in both groups dropping out because they either could not tolerate the diet or were unable to attain their 5 per cent weight-loss target.

According to the BJN, researchers found that participants who followed the 5:2 diet cleared the fat (triglyceride) from a meal given to them more efficiently than those who undertook the daily diet.

Although there were no differences in post meal glucose handling, researchers were surprised to find variations between the diets in c-peptide (a marker of insulin secretion from the pancreas) following the meal, the significance of which will need further investigation.

The study also found a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats) in participants on the 5:2 diet.

Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 9% of following the 5:2, compared to a small 2% increase among those on the daily diet.

A reduction in systolic blood pressure reduces pressure on arteries, potentially lessening incidences of heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Rona Antoni, Research Fellow in Nutritional Metabolism at the University of Surrey, said: “As seen in this study, some of our participants struggled to tolerate the 5:2 diet, which suggests that this approach is not suited to everybody; ultimately the key to dieting success is finding an approach you can sustain long term.

“But for those who do well and are able stick to the 5:2 diet, it could potentially have a beneficial impact on some important risk markers for cardiovascular disease, in some cases more so than daily dieting.

“However, we need further studies to confirm our findings, to understand the underlying mechanisms and to improve the tolerability of the 5:2 diet.”

Health

Could hypnosis help beat junk food addiction?

New research has found that the UK has the unhealthiest diet in Europe, with Brits consuming five times more processed food than Portugal, and four times more than France, Greece, or Italy.
According to HypnoSlimming, 50% of the average person’s diet in the UK is processed food, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
It says this kind of processed junk food can be as addictive as hard drugs, with salt and sugar being habit-forming substances that create positive feedback loops in the brain.
Eating any food triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, however certain sugars, fats, and processed chemicals can have the same effect as cocaine, flooding our brain with more dopamine than it is used to, thus overriding dopamine pathways to only release the neurochemical when we eat those unhealthy foods, which causes an addiction.
This leads to cravings, which are distinctly different from hunger. Hunger is when our body needs sustenance; cravings are when our bodies want a reward. Dopamine is not necessary for maintenance of the body, only as a reward which makes us repeat behaviour. This is why some people eat junk food even when they’re not hungry.
Eating less of these foods can eventually reset our dopamine levels and responses, but this is easier said than done. Fighting addiction is one of the toughest things a person can do, especially when combined with the fact that so much of what we eat is the very thing we’re trying to cut out of our system.
HypnoSlimming claims hypnosis can bypass the addiction by tapping into the power of the subconscious mind, meaning people eat less junk food without exerting any effort.
Hypnosis expert Adam Cox is offering a free hypnosis test to find out if hypnosis is right for anyone trying to lose weight or get healthier.
He says: “Foods that are high in sugar or salt are more likely to be addictive, when blood sugar levels are lowered there is a physical craving which is hard to resist. For people with processed food addiction I use hypnosis to help them believe that junk food is toxic or poisonous.
“People respond to foods differently if they associate them with being dangerous. Since junk food is responsible for so many health issues from obesity to Type 2 diabetes it’s not difficult for the unconscious mind to accept that junk food is genuinely dangerous.
“However since not everyone can afford to work with a Harley Street hypnotherapist I’ve created an audio download that can help people destroy their cravings for unhealthy food.
“Changing eating habits, especially if you can’t control yourself, is never easy, which is why so many people are turning to hypnosis to get the help they need.”