Get your nutrition facts straight
CAIRO: With over 30,000 diets available to choose from, it’s not surprising that we are confused. Many people go it alone and try to find what works for them. Take note of the following myths that you may be living by and modify your lifestyle to help you reach your goal.
Myth: Cutting my calories really low will give me a jump start for healthy eating.
Fact: Low-calorie diets are usually very short lived and quickly followed by binging. Due to the lack of important nutrients required by the body to function correctly, the body starts craving foods that will offer a quick fix for satiety; namely fat and sugar. On top of that, low-calorie diets can lead to any of the following: Calcium loss, fluid imbalance, loss of energy, slow metabolism, hunger, moodiness and dizziness and lack of concentration.
Myth: Pasta and bread make me fat.
Fact: Everyone is becoming “carbophobic these days. Once you have eaten and the body has broken down the food, it sees only glucose, the body’s preferred source of fuel. Too many calories make you fat. If you lavish your pasta with high fat sauces and your bread with lashings of butter or cheese, you are adding high fat calories to low calorie food. The trick is to limit these foods (not to cut them out completely), and find some healthy, low calorie, low fat alternatives that still satisfy your taste buds.
Myth: Fat is bad for you and should be avoided
Fact: Fats are the most versatile of all the nutrients and play a very important role in our daily diet. However, some are better than others. Saturated fats are found in animal products and can raise your bad cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. However, monounsaturated fats found in avocado, nuts and olive oil can help improve cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in fish. Research clearly shows that this heart friendly fat can decrease the risk of cancer and strokes. However, fat should be eaten in moderation; every gram of fat equals nine calories. It is recommended that no more than 30 percent of your total calorie intake per day comes from fat.
Myth: Eating after 7 pm will make me gain weight.
Fact: No. The amount of calories you eat throughout the day will determine if you gain weight or not. Eating 5-6 small meals a day will help increase your metabolism and encourage the body to burn more calories even at rest.
Myth: Eating once a day will help me lose weight quickly.
Fact: Always eat at least five times per day; little and often is the key. By doing so, you will control your blood sugar levels and have a constant flow of energy. If you only eat one meal in the day, you will start to feel tired and sluggish and it is probably due to a decrease in sugar levels and lack of energy. This will encourage you to reach for high calorie, high fat foods for a quick fix.
Myth: High protein diets make you lose weight quickly.
Fact: Undoubtedly you will lose weight on a high-protein diet because there is also a decrease in calories. Health officials do not dispute weight-loss as a result of decreased carbohydrates, their concern lies in the potential for increased health risks and possible metabolic diseases. The biggest problem is that it teaches you nothing about changing your lifestyle. Once you come off a high-protein diet and return to normal eating, you will undoubtedly put on weight again and it may spike cravings for high sugar and high carbohydrate foods.
Myth: You can eat more foods if they are low fat or fat free.
Fact: Low fat or fat free does not mean fewer calories. If something is taken out, in this case fat, something has to replace it; sugar is the common favourite. This often makes the “diet product the same calories and in some cases more calories. Unfortunately, when people see low fat or non fat, it encourages them to eat twice the amount and in turn they take in twice the calories. Remember, too many calories make weight gain, not too much fat.
Myth: A vegetarian diet is a healthy one.
Fact: Vegetarians also need to watch the choices that they make. It is still possible to eat high fat, high calorie foods with little nutritional value. Those that still eat dairy products need to be aware that the whole milk products do carry high saturated fat content than their low fat or non-fat version. Also, while nuts is a healthy choice they too carry a high fat content and are a high calorie food that needs to be controlled.
You will find people telling you things to help you lose weight every day. The important thing to remember is that everyone is an individual and what works for one, will not necessarily work for another. Plan, read nutrition labels and keep junk out of the house, then you will not be tempted in the small hours of the night.
Gina Grant is an AFAA certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, an APEX and ISSA certified Sports Performance Nutritionist and a J.G. Spinning instructor. She has written for various international publications on a variety of topics relating to health and fitness.