Nutritionist Frida Harju sorts fact from fiction
The problem with fad diets is that while you may see impressive results in a short space of time, once it’s over the weight will come back and often it will be more than the amount you managed to lose in the first place. The other issue is that these diets often aren’t sustainable, hence the subsequent weight gain. A lot of them don’t ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need in order to stay healthy and some are far too complex to realistically follow for a prolonged period of time. The best way to look after your wellbeing and maintain your weight is to adopt a healthy, balanced lifestyle, combining exercise and nutritious foods without denying yourself the things that you enjoy. To encourage you to steer clear of dodgy diets, I’ve revealed the truth about some of the most common fads.
The carb-free way of eating is like any other fad diet – there is some truth to it, but most of the time it is part of a study taken out of context and applied to a wider scenario. Some carbohydrates are better for you than others, and while you should try to limit the amount of processed carbs you eat (including white pasta, bread and cereals), it is the overeating that causes weight gain, not the carbohydrates themselves. Simply cutting out the excess of processed carbs from your diet could help you to lose weight. Eliminating an entire food group is not linked to good health, and this is far more important than dieting to get fast results.
DETOXES AND JUICING
There is no such thing as detoxing your body, so juice or cleansing diets should always be treated with caution. It’s also important to remember that the human body is well equipped to deal with any toxins that enter the body. Your kidneys, for example, filter your blood, removing any nasties they find, while your liver stops some toxins from entering your bloodstream and breaks others down, and they are then removed from your body. Following a diet of nothing but water, vegetables and juice is not a sustainable or healthy option and is likely to do you harm and leave you tired, irritable and ravenous.
VERY LOW CALORIE DIET (VLCD)
The VLCD may seem like an effective, quick weight loss solution at first, but keeping your calorie intake as low as possible (especially below 1,000 calories) can actually have the reverse effect. Rather than shedding pounds, your body may think you are in starvation and react by slowing down your metabolism and absorbing all of the calories you eat, instead of just some, in an attempt to store energy.
These have been a craze for a while, however fats are a vital part of our diet and the right kinds should be consumed in healthy amounts. Good fats provide essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself which help it to absorb nutrients and act as a source of energising fuel.
NO FOOD AFTER 8PM
The truth is that calories can’t tell the time – whether you eat them in the morning, afternoon or evening, they’ll still get digested. It is true that food consumed right before you go to bed will take longer to digest, but as soon as you start moving again, it passes through as normal. The best thing to do is to ensure that your meals are regular, include a healthy breakfast and filled with vitamins, nutrients and protein to keep you full throughout the day.
Not all calories are the same. Eating 200 calories of something packed with sugar is not the same as consuming 200 calories of fruit, vegetables or brown rice. Instead of counting them, it’s wiser to focus on what kinds of calories you’re eating. A diet that is healthy and balanced overall will help you to lose more weight than obsessing over numbers.
Frida is the in-house nutritionist at Lifesum (lifesum.com)
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