Some weight loss myths

apple_measure_tape_1600_wht_131291   Giving up carbs

Processed carbs can contribute to weight gain but you shouldn’t give up on complex carbs or wholegrain such as brown rice which have a lot of fibre and make you feel fuller longer.

Complex carbs can also have a lower glycaemic index (GI) – which is a measure of the rate at which sugar is digested – so you won’t get highs and lows in blood sugar.

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker says it’s more about portion control and suggests limiting the calorie-dense healthy carbs such as rice, oats , or pasta, and alternate with lighter ones like butternut squash or corn on the cob which are just as filling.

2   Extreme exercise 

We think that if we expend more energy than we consume we should lose weight. And exercise does increase our metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) but when we push ourselves too much it can actually prevent weight loss. “Pushing ourselves to do long runs and jogs can cause the body to release cortisol, a stress hormone, which encourages fat to build up round our middle” according to nutritionist Shona Wilkinson.

She recommends interval training instead as this boosts fat loss, gets the heart working, but controls the release of cortisol.  Also strength and resistance training which helps to build lean muscle and increases metabolism as well as burning calories which will lead to weight loss. She suggests 3 mins of fast running followed by 3 mins of walking, repeated 3 times 3 times a day.

3   Diet pills

A market worth £125 million ripping off people every day (in my opinion). All I want to say is that people who rely on pills are deluding themselves and may even put on weight because they aren’t careful about what they eat or exercising relying on their magic pill instead (And I could say the same about nutritional drinks sold by some sales people masquerading as personal trainers).

4   Skipping breakfast

Yes you might miss out on the 250 calories in an average breakfast but probably over-compensate by snacking mid-morning on sugary foods or eating more in your other meals. There is research that shows that people who skip breakfast are heavier than those who don’t  and Louisiana State University found that eating a 250-calories serving of oatmeal for breakfast resulted in reduced calorie intake at lunch.

5   Eating little and often

Or grazing. Problem is not the eat little but the often part of the equation. Just how often? it’s probably better to eat three meals a day. Our body releases insulin when we eat carrying sugar to our cells to burn as energy. This lasts for about 3 hours after which the body has to use energy from our fat stores. So an early breakfast followed by a noon lunch and you are already burning up your fat.

Research in Prague into people with Type 2 diabetes found that they lost more weight having two regular meals than eating 6 small meals with the same total amount of calories.

6   Going fat-free

All types of fat are high in energy. A gram of fat whether saturated or unsaturated provides 9 calories of energy compared with4 calories of carbohydrate and protein.

Healthier unsaturated fats are better at helping you to lose weight. For example Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish can help to reduce our addictive tendencies according to Dr Sally Norton, a former weight loss surgeon. “Fatty food also slows our stomach emptying making us feel fuller for longer”.

And beware foods labelled as healthy – they can contain more calories than the regular version. Harvard School of Public Health found that low-fat diets are no better for longterm weight loss than high-fat ones. (See “Healthy foods can be bad for you“)

7   Sticking to salads

Beware the calories in the salad dressings. And processed salads from fast-food chains or supermarkets can contain nuts and avocado which are rich in calories. Pret a Manger’s superfood salad contains 431 calories and 18 g of fat without a dressing but 662 calories and 42 g of fat with.

But who wants to eat nothing but salads? They hardly seem as if they would satisfy your appetite without some fish or similar alongside. So stick to salads as side dishes.

8   Not eating after 7 pm

Who comes up with these ideas. Have you never seen families eating evening meals in Spain late in the evening?

The premise behind this seems to be that eating later gives you less time to burn off the calories. It’s true that metabolism slows when you are asleep but it doesn’t automatically turn your food into fat.

Impose a deadline and you find yourself eating earlier so it doesn’t help you lose weight.And according to the US Department of Health it doesn’t matter what time of day you eat. “It’s what and how much you eat and how much physical activity that you do that determines whether or not you gain, lose, or maintain your weight level

And that’s the most sensible piece of advice I’ve heard.

Source: the Times


Your face gives away your lifestyle and hides your real age

P1020307If you’re married, have fewer than four children, and come from a higher social class – you probably look younger than you actually are.

If you have lost a significant amount of weight, fallen down the social ladder, or are living as a lonely singleton – then you probably look older.

The combination of lifestyle, medical history and diet has a measurable impact on how your looks age.

Generally speaking a youthful face is an accurate indicator of good health (as is how energetically you walk).

Marriage is more beneficial for a woman knocking almost two years off her age (and if she moves up the social ladder she can look four years younger – and the same applies to men).

For men marriage generally only knocks off one year but having one to three children makes a man look a year younger while it makes no difference to a woman.

These benefits disappear in families with four children.

Looking chubbier as you get older helps men look younger as it smooths out the wrinkles. Adding 2 points to your body mass index (bmi) will take of a year whereas a woman would have to add 7 points to her bmi to get the same effect.

An affluent married man with no more than three children will took ten years younger than someone who is homeless, single and has lost weight (2 points off his bmi).

All the factors combined can lead to people in their 40s looking up to seven years younger than their contemporaries.

Public Health scientists at the Danish twin registry led the study to be published in the journal Age and Ageing.

They asked nurses to guess the ages of almost 2,000 identical and non-identical twins in their seventies. They then looked at environmental factors including marriage, parenthood and social class. Previous studies have shown that non-genetic factors account for 40% of the variation in perceived age.

The effects of heavy smoking are relatively  modest. You would have to smoke 20 a day for 20 years to gain extra wrinkles and tobacco smoke only causes half that damage to women’s skin.

However heavy drinking can add a year to both sexes as can diabetes, chronic asthma or the regular use of painkillers.

Excessive exposure to sunlight had no effect on the perception of men’s ages but added over a year to women’s faces by the time they reached seventy.

Depression makes women look a lot older than men. Almost 4 extra years compared with 2.4 for men.

One of the researchers, Dr Kaare Christensen, said “It is a lot more dangerous looking one year older than one year younger”. If you are not depressed, not lonely, not a smoker, and not too skinny, you are basically doing well”.

Dr Chris Philipson, professor of social gerontology at Keele University says “diet and exercise are crucial factors. You can do an awful lot over the age of 40 to 50 to change the way you experience growing old“.