Is this the end of the fad diet?
Today we have a guest post from the guys from the Natural Alternative. Enjoy!
It’s the beginning of a new year, might this be the year of the new you?
Exercising or keeping active is an obvious one, but what about how you fuel yourself to get the most out of all the effort you put in?
As Nutritional Therapists we’ve got some great advice to accompany all that exercise you’re doing to help you be on top of your game, feeling energized, with an abundance of concentration, improved mood and yes in better shape too.
The secret to a healthier fitter you isn’t starvation or cutting out certain food groups like many diets might suggest. Most people end up weighing more than when they started as diets are too restrictive and when target weight is reached it’s too difficult to mainain strict eating habits for the rest of your life.
On a really basic level it’s about balancing blood sugar levels. Eating more vegetables to fill you up (limiting fruit to no more than two pieces per day). Allow 15 minutes before eating something sweet – this is how long it can take the gut to communicate to the brain. Be realistsic with goal setting – 0.5 – 2lb loss per week is where you should be aiming. Even losing a total 10% of body weight has huge health benefits.
There is an easy structured way to understand how foods effect your blood sugar levels, it’s a ranking of foods by their Glycaemic Index/Load (GI/GL) which is how quickly the carbohydrate breaks down into glucose. On a basic level the quicker a food breaks down into glucose the quicker sugar levels rise in your blood (which is OK if you’re about to exercise but not so good if you’re sitting at your desk all day). Some examples include:
|Low GI||Medium GI||High GI|
|Fruit with skin (apple, orange, pear)||Honey||Sugar|
|Beans and lentils||Shredded wheat||White & wholemeal bread|
|Sweet potato||Weetabix||Brown rice|
|Porridge||New potatoes||White rice|
|White basmati rice||Banana, mango, pineapple|
If you would like to eat one of the higher GI foods it is best to combine it with either protein, fibre or fat e.g. banana plus handful nuts. Protein, fibre and fats slow down the speed at which glucose is released.
One reason for weight gain is eating an excessive amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an quick source of fuel for the body to use – they should be a part of our diet but less in quantity.
They are long chains of sugar which will be stored and converted to fat which longer term is obesity. Choose the best times to eat them – if you would like a quick energy burst before exercise choose simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit). If you’d like a more sustainable energy increase eat complex carbohydrates (seeded/granary bread, oats, seeds, peas, lentils).
Generally we do not eat sufficient protein which fills you for longer providing more sustainable energy, concentration and mood. It’s essential for muscles, injury repair, immunity and hormone transport. Off the 22 amino acids which make up protein nine are essential which means the body cannot make them – we need to get them from our food. Every meal/snack should include a source of protein (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, dairy, eggs, soya, quinoa).
Fats are generally unbalanced in our diet, we eat too much bad (saturated and trans fatty acids e.g. red meat, cheese, cream, cakes, buscuits, crisps, chips) and not enough good fats (unsaturated, poly and mono unsatirated fats e.g. fish, flaxseed, seeds, avocado, olive oil). We need fats as each cell and organ has a layer of fat for protection and insulation.
If you can it is advised to eat three meals per day and only snack if necessary. Protein should be included in every meal, and the evening meal plate should be ½ vegetables/salad, the protein approximately the size of the palm of your hand and the carbohydrates approximately fist size.
Consider the calorie content of alcohol too, some examples:
- 1 pint beer (187 calories)
- 1 pint cider (233 calories)
- Standard glass white wine 175ml (130 calories)
- Standard glass red wine 175ml (119 calories)
- Bottle white wine (555 calories)
- Bottle red wine (510 calories)
- Light spirit + mixer (126 calories)
- Dark spirit + mixer (142 calories)
Health food/drink swaps
We also wanted to share with you some of our healthy food/drink swaps including every day items and what you could swap them for making them that little bit healthier. Swap:
- Tuna for tinned sardines (sardines are higher in omega 3)
- Carbonated drinks for sparkling water (which does not contain sugar)
- Ice-cream for frozen yogurt (which has less sugar and tastes the same)
- Jam for nut butter (almond and cashew butter are not available in supermarkets)
- White/wholemeal bread for grananry/seeded bread
- Low fat yogurt for full fat yogurt (reduced fat yogurts are often higher in sugar)
- Fresh fruit/vegetables for frozen fruit/vegetables (frozen at source making them potentially healthier)
- Traditional English tea for Rooibos (South African tea which does not contain caffeine)
- Margarine/spread for butter (the chemical structure of margarine is altered more during processing)
We hope this article has provided some guidance both academic and practical to help improve your health and wellbeing and to convince you that fad diets are a thing of the past. The answer to a healthier you will always be a balanced diet with most things in moderation.