Carbohydrates have received very bad press in recent years and many popular weight loss diets such as Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo haven’t helped. There is nothing inherently fattening about carbohydrates. They provide the same amount of energy/calories per gram as protein (4kcal per 1g). Eating more calories than you use, regardless of whether they come from protein, fat or carbohydrates, will make you fat.
However, certain types of carbohydrates are less nutritious than others. Consistently loading up on sugary, processed carbohydrates such as fizzy drinks and sweets, white bread and pasta can increase your risk of becoming overweight and developing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. But cutting out the so called “good carbs” such as vegetables, whole grains and beans, will mean that you are missing out on your body’s main source of fuel along with all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and whole grains that naturally occur in these foods.
In terms of weight loss, for many people, a low-carb diet may be harder to stick to in the long run and may have no difference in long term weight loss. A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association compared weight loss among overweight and obese adults who were following different popular weight loss diets. The study concluded that significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet however, the difference in the amount of weight loss between the diets was small. The paper supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight. So in terms of weight loss, the best diet is the one you can stick to whether it’s Paleo, South Beach, Atkins etc and in terms of carbohydrates making you pile on the pounds, you should look and the types and amounts of carbohydrates that you’re eating.
Drinking lemon water may taste better than regular water but there is no clinical evidence to suggest that lemon water will boost your metabolism. Some caffeine containing foods may speed up your metabolism for a short period of time but this does not cause weight loss. Drinking plenty of water (1.5-2Litres daily) is required for normal bodily function and will help you to regulate your appetite, which of course can play a role in weight loss, and prevent constipation. For a little flavour boost, some lemon can be used. More accepted ways of speeding up your metabolism include: eating regular low fat, high fibre meals; being more physically active and including weight based/resistance exercise in your weekly physical activity (at least twice a week).
This is one of the worst nutrition myths out there because eggs contain a huge range of vitamins and minerals, some of which are otherwise difficult to source from the diet. A perfect example is vitamin D, with the majority of the Irish population lacking in this fat-soluble vitamin. The Irish Adult Nutrition Survey reported a mean daily intake in Irish men and women (18 – >65 years ) of 4.3mcg when the recommended daily requirement is 10mcg! The yolk of a single boiled egg will provide you with 10% of your daily vitamin D requirements. It is important to note that almost all of these vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk of the egg as the white of an egg is purely protein. The white of an egg contains an excellent quality protein and is deemed one of the best in terms of biological value. Biological value is the amount of protein absorbed from the source. In recent years, eggs have been accused of contributing to cardiovascular disease because of their saturated fat content. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease. A meta-analysis published in 2013 showed that higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in otherwise healthy individuals. It is always best to purchase free range eggs and if you can, Omega-3 enriched are the most nutritious. In terms of weight management, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity concluded that the inclusion of eggs in the diet may offer a nutritious supplement to enhance weight loss.
By the time fruit and vegetables are consumed at home, whether fresh or frozen, the nutrient content is similar or more nutritious in frozen fruit and veg when compared to fresh. Frozen vegetables are frozen within hours of being picked during their peak time of freshness and nutrition. The method of cooking however will determine how you get the most from these foods. Avoid boiling your vegetables where you can, as water-soluble vitamins can leak out of the foods into the water that you ultimately dispose of.
There is absolutely no evidence for this. Calories are calories and it doesn’t matter what time you eat them. What is important is the total amount of calories you eat vs. the total amount of calories you use/burn in a given day, not the time of day you eat those calories. Eating any extra calories above what you need may be stored as fat regardless of the time of day they are consumed.
There are lots of low fat products on the market that are healthy to eat in moderation and that will be very helpful in weight management but you need to be aware that once fat is removed or reduced, taste is affected. To compensate for taste, a lot of low fat products will have added artificial sweeteners or added sugar, which of course increases the calorie content of the food. The terms “fat free” or “0% fat”, on a label does not necessarily mean that an item is healthy. Check the label before you buy a low fat product and pay attention to the sugar content per 100g. Use the guide below to help choose a low sugar product:
- LOW SUGAR: No more than 5g of sugars/100g (solid foods) or 2.5g of sugars/100ml (liquids).
- HIGH SUGAR: Greater or equal to 10g of sugars/100g for solids or liquids.
Find a happy medium between these two amounts, favouring the lower end of the scale.
The World Health Organisation has stated that high consumption of red meat and especially processed meats are associated with an increased risk of stomach and colorectal cancer and this has perhaps contributed to the myth that red meat is bad for you. When eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy diet, lean cuts of red meat are an excellent source of high quality protein, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins and haem iron, which is the most easily absorbed type of iron from the diet. Iron is essential for circulating oxygen around all of the cells in your body. When you are in the supermarket shopping for red meat, pick meats that are deep red with a small amount of marbling/fat (little bits of white amongst the red).
Only one in 100 Irish people will suffer from coeliac disease which requires a life-long gluten free diet. For these people, removing gluten from their diet will make them feel better and more energetic but only because they were sick from being unable to digest the gluten protein before. Individuals who do not have medical needs to avoid gluten shouldn’t feel the same benefit if they remove gluten from their diet. If you think about it logically, coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley; it’s marked by damage to the small intestine that leads to deficiencies because nutrients cannot be absorbed. Malabsorption of nutrients would mean that those nutrients are not metabolized and so those calories are not absorbed, resulting is weight loss (not weight gain), one of the symptoms of coeliac disease. Gluten free foods are quite expensive and so unless medically indicated, there is no need to spend excess money on foods that will give you no nutritional benefit.
On another note, just because a food claims to be “gluten free” this does not mean it is healthier or is low in calories. in fact, many gluten free products have extra sugar added to compensate for their taste and texture. Many celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus, have followed a gluten free diet and have praised it for helping them shed the pounds. It is not the gluten protein itself that will cause weight loss, it is limiting your diet. If you want to lose weight you shouldn’t eliminate an entire nutrient like gluten and it’s associated food group. Save your money and concentrate on including 60-75mins a day of moderate exercise and creating a calorie deficit, while eating real foods and proper portion sizes. If you feel that you are gluten intolerant or think that you may have coeliac disease, don’t self-diagnose. Get a nutritionist or dietitian involved to ensure you are not at risk of nutritional inadequacies.
All forms of cooking reduce nutrient values in foods. The longer and hotter you cook a food, the more you’ll lose certain heat and water sensitive nutrients, especially if you add water, as water-soluble vitamins can leak out of the food. Vitamin C and some B vitamins (thiamin) are particularly sensitive. Microwave cooking often cooks foods more quickly so it can actually help to minimize nutrient losses. A review published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Food in 2009 showed that the greatest losses were with boiling or pressure cooking foods. If you are microwaving foods, do not microwave your food in plastic containers unless they specifically state that they are microwave safe. This is because some harmful chemical compounds may leak into your foods when heated. Also be aware that microwaves can cook foods unevenly so you should stir your food while cooking it and use a microwave with a rotating shelf.
Your body has its own system specifically designed to remove toxins—namely, the liver, kidneys and spleen. There is no evidence to say that fasting or consuming only juice for a period of time makes them do this job any better. Juicing or detoxing are very strict regimes and usually limit individuals to consuming fruit and vegetables only. There is a danger that if followed long term you may miss out on important nutrients that are found in all of the foods you are limiting, risking nutritionally inadequacies. Side effects from fasting or juicing include fatigue, weakness, dizziness and constipation. Juicing is not recommended for weight loss as it does not teach individuals how to make healthy food choices necessary for long-term weight loss. the truth is, the faster you lose weight, the more likely it is water-weight and thus the quicker it’s regained.