There is a great deal of misinformation out there especially when it comes to nutrition. The below points are based on scientific research and these facts have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
1. Eating Too Little Protein
When it comes to losing weight, it is important to stick to a clean, healthy eating diet where protein plays a major role. Adding protein to your diet is the easiest and simplest way to lose weight.
Studies show that protein both increases your metabolic rate and helps
reduce appetite . This is due to the fact that more energy is required to metabolize protein and you can end up burning 80 to 100 calories per day. Protein is also more satiating, people who ate 30% of calories from protein ate 441 fewer less calories a day. Protein also tends to fight cravings and reduced the desire for late-night snacking by 50%.
2. Eating too Many Carbs
Reducing the amount of carbohydrates that you eat is a very effective way to lose weight. People who do this tend to notice that their appetite is reduced and they eat fewer calories. Eating a diet low in carbohydrates until you feel full; can make you lose about 2-3 times as much weight as a calorie restricted low-fat diet.
Low carbohydrate diets are extremely beneficial for people who are insulin resistant, obese, have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Some of these health issues can literally be reversed by eating a clean diet which is low- carb based.
The types of carbohydrates that you should be eating should be high in fiber and from whole single ingredient foods such as beans. No PROCESSED goods made from refined white flour and sugar.
3. Being on a “Low-Fat” Diet
Interesting feedback from the biggest and most expensive diet study in history, The Women’s Health Initiative, randomized 48,835 women into groups… one ate a low-fat diet, the other group continued eating the standard Western diet.
After 7.5-8 years, there was only a 0.4 kg (1 pound!) difference in weight and there was no reduction in heart disease or cancer.
Many other studies have led to the same conclusion. The truth is, the low-fat diet is a miserable failure. Almost every time it is pitted against another type of diet in a study, it loses.
Even diabetics have been advised to follow this type of diet… the “carb up and shoot up” strategy that benefits no one but the drug companies. It is a simple biochemical fact that carbs raise blood sugar. This keeps the
diabetic patients dependent on blood sugar lowering drugs.
Although low-fat diets may be okay for healthy people, they are a
complete disaster for people with obesity, metabolic syndrome and type
In fact, low-fat diets can adversely affect some key risk factors for metabolic syndrome and heart disease. They can raise triglycerides, lower HDL and increase small, dense LDL particles.
4. Did You Think That Fruit Juices Are Healthy ?
Most fruit juices are fruit flavoured water with a great deal of added sugars. Even 100% fruit juice should be a rare treat as it still spikes your blood sugar levels as all the fiber has been taken out. Whole fruits do contain some sugar but it is bound within the fibrous cell walls, which slows down the release of the sugar into the bloodstream.
Did you know that the sugar content of fruit juice is actually very similar to sugar-sweetened beverages like Coca Cola.
In conclusion it is definitely best to eat the whole fruit and to avoid drinking fruit juices, especially when you are trying to lose weight.
Fat is a word filled with such emotion. It conjures up images of greasy food or bulging weight. Do you calorie count your foods and buy fat-free, low-fat and lite foods ? Many of these foods may be lower in fat but higher in sugar. These mass-produced products had the fat taken out and sugar, sweeteners and additives put in.
Low-fat yogurts, margarines, spreads, low-fat ready meals, breakfast cereals, cereal bars and juices are all technically low in calories, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make you overweight. We know that excess sugar gets converted to fat in the body, usually around your middle area. If we eat a lot of these types of foods, the mid-section weight gain is always hard to shift if unknowingly eating too much sugar.
Research shows that eating too much sugar is behind the huge surge of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, so not only are these low-fat foods making us fat, they are making us sick too !
Which fats should we stay away from ?
The chemically derived fats are the ones that should be feared. They come from mainly vegetables oils, such as canola, soya, sunflower, safflower and corn. These oils go through an industrial solvent extraction process, which requires a number of heating treatment and chemical processes (petroleum to mention one) before they are bottled and sold. Unlike butter, coconut butter and olive oils, which do not undergo these processes, vegetable oils, if being used for something like margarine, have to go through a further process called hydrogenation, which makes them solid when cooled. Avoid all products which contain hydrogenated fats like biscuits and other processed packaged foods. Read the labels.
Which fats you should eat and why ?
Eggs, oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, nuts and seeds, oils and avocado’s contain essential fatty acids which serve multiple important health functions in the body and can only be obtained from food. Every cell in the body has an outer layer that’s made up of fat, so we need to consume good fats to keep these cells strong and healthy, which in turn keeps us strong and healthy.
I hope you’ve realized so far that it is not necessary to demonize fats; but let’s keep this in perspective. It isn’t a green flag to eat all the cheese, red meat, sausages and butter that you want.
I’m suggesting that you ditch the margarine and bread and use a little butter on some delicious, steamed veggies. Enjoy meat occasionally about once or twice a week and if you can make it organic or free-range. Don’t buy processed red meats like ham, salami, sausages, mince and bacon which are health harming. Enjoy small amounts of good quality goat’s cheeses and eat them alongside vegetables and herbs.
These are the fats that I encourage you to include in your diet:
When it comes to athletic performance and body composition goals, there is often more focus on training. Yet, an athlete's nutrition is just as important, since it provides the recovery that allows your body to adapt to higher levels of intensity.
There are three simple nutrition strategies that can seriously improve your performance:
1. Pay Attention to Protein
High-quality sources of protein contain all nine essential amino acids, which help repair and rebuild your muscles. Essential amino acids don't occur naturally within our bodies, so we must consume foods or drinks the contain them in order to build muscle and perform other key functions at an optimal level. Consuming a protein meal post-workout can promote muscle protein synthesis, which is important for building muscle.
Also, protein has a high thermic effect, meaning it is not as easily digested as other macronutrients, hence more energy is expended to digest it. Because it is not easily digested, protein keeps us full for longer periods of time. This is definitely an important factor with respect to fat loss.
Consensus in the sport science field recommends that protein needs are determined by weight, not percentage of calories. As your caloric needs increase, so too, do your carbohydrate needs to provide fuel for the greater physical output. Endurance (Triathletes, long distance runners, cyclists), strength and power, and stop-and-go athletes appear to need between 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Examples of foods high in protein relative to the carbohydrate and fat content.
• A range of lean meat and meat products (e.g. chicken, ham, ostrich)
• Fish (e.g. tuna, codfish, trout, redfish)
• Low fat dairy products (some may be high in sugar)
• Legumes (baked beans, beans, peas, chick-peas, lentils)
• Quorn or other meat replacement products
• Nuts and seeds
• Sports food may assist with timed protein supply
2. Use Carbs as Fuel
Another macronutrient that has a huge impact on performance is carbohydrates. Stored as glycogen in muscles, they are the body's preferred fuel source.
However, this doesn't mean you can consume all the carbs you want. Choosing the right amount of carbs for the right level of activity is important. If you are only doing a brisk treadmill run for 30 minutes, I suggest putting down that sports drink; you probably don't need the extra carbs. However, if you are participating in a marathon or an intense game or practice spanning several hours, consuming carbs can help improve your performance.
Think of carbs as fuel. The higher the intensity of your activity and the effort you expend, the more carbs you probably need. If you plan to compete or train and want to perform at your highest level, consuming carbs prior to the activity can definitely help.
Carb consumption is also important after you work out. Aim to consume a meal or drink with at least a ratio of 2:1 carbs to protein after intense exercise.
General guidelines for carbohydrate consumption in everyday training:
• Minimal physical activity: 2-3g/kg/day
• Light physical activity consisting of 3-5 hrs / wk: 4-5g/kg/day is needed
• Physical activity 10-19hrs /wk: 5-7g/kg/day is needed
• Physical activity 20+ hrs/wk - 7-12g/kg/day is needed.
• Physical activity more than 4-6+hrs / day: 10-12+g/kg/day is needed.
3. Food First, Supplements Only If Needed
I'm not against the use of supplements. I use them regularly. It’s important to use good quality supplements. Buying the latest hot supplement being advertised on late-night infomercials. A simple pill or powder isn't enough to change your life for the better; in some cases, it might actually harm you.
Relying on supplements over quality food to reach a performance or body composition goal is a big mistake. The power of supplements simply cannot compare to the power of a well-balanced diet.
Instead of thinking about nutrition in terms of what supplement you need to buy next, start thinking of the foods you can eat to help you reach your goals. Once you look at the macronutrients of the foods you're eating, you'll be able to make adjustments and replacements that will help you. If you make a concerted effort to do this and still come up short on certain nutrients, then and only then should you start looking to supplements to fill the gap. That's why they're called supplements; they're meant to supplement a good diet, not replace it.
Some common supplements that athletes use are omega - 3's, creatinine, beta-alanine magnesium and a good quality whey protein (I personally use vegetarian sources from hemp, rice and pea).
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !