Thursday, June 5, 2014

Weight Loss Diets: Myths, Fallacies and Getting Your Basics Right. By Veeraj Goyaram

Nutrition Megasection

Weight Loss Diet Myths and How to Get Your Basics Right
 Researched and composed by Veeraj Goyaram 

Does dieting mean starving yourself?
For most people, the mere mention of the word "diet" conjures up images of terrible sacrifices, intense food restriction or outright famine. There are many misconceptions and myths that underlie the failure of most "diets". To start I want to highlight a "diet" should not be some kind of crash course with the aim to achieve a certain target weight. The diet should rather be considered as a change of lifestyle. If you do it this way your results may be permanent and the whole process will be a lot more fun. This article attempts to shed light on some of the most common dieting mistakes while giving you clues on how to fix them.

"The diet should rather be considered as a change of lifestyle"

The most common mistakes

1. Significantly reducing food intake and skipping meals
Dieting does not mean stop eating. A diet simply means eating better. Of course, weight loss fat depends on a calorie deficit, forcing the body to dip into its reserves. The best way to create this deficit is to reduce your calories as sources of unhealthy calories and at the same time burning calories through exercise. Unfortunately, many people choose to create this deficit by drastically reducing the calories to avoid exercise. They are being plain lazy. In addition, many people tend to skip breakfast thinking that no food will force the body to rely on body fat for energy. This is the biggest mistake you can make. Your body has a survival mechanism. When it feels that less food calories is being taken in it switches to a "conservation mode" Your metabolism slows down and fat loss comes to a grinding halt.
You don't want to become like this, do you? 
2. Not eating balanced meals
I always mention that many diets are not balanced. They are often low in protein and can lead to a loss of muscle tissue. Similarly, many who engage in the plans are all wrong when it comes to calculating consumption of macro-nutrients.
A fruit salad is nice but it's not a complete meal
Even as a dieter, a balanced diet is necessary. A balanced diet means a diet that contains proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the right amounts. It is obvious that to achieve your goals of weight loss, the relative amounts of these nutrients will be different from those recommended for someone looking to gain weight. In the case of someone trying to lose weight and stay healthy, a diet rich in protein, moderate in fat and low in carbohydrates is what is often recommended. There is a big tug of war between proponents of low carbohydrate diets and those who recommend to not severely reduce carbohydrates but that's beyond the scope of this present article. My point here is that you need all three macro-nutrients, no matter what ratio you decide to adhere to. Eating a bowl of oats for breakfast, followed by a lunch of an apple and salad for supper simply won't cut it. You need a source of protein and fat too.

3. Eliminating fat is BULLSHIT!
Fats have received bad publicity and have been implicated as a cause of obesity and cardiovascular complications. This led to people avoiding fat like the plague. If you ask someone who is dieting what is the first thing he removes his diet, you will always get the response "fat." This is not always a good practice because the fact that fats are the main cause of obesity and heart problems is a lie. Are you surprised?

I will deal with the topic of fat in a future article, but for now suffice it to say that all fats are not the same. A good diet should consist of good sources of fatty acids such as almond oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, salmon and avocado, among others. You will shoot yourself in the foot if you eliminate fat from your diet.

The mistaken belief about fat as I mentioned above has led to what people think they are better off eliminating fat from the diet. Therefore, one can think a bowl of breakfast cereal is excellent, because "zero fat" is indicated on the label. And this is what people will eat! Zero fat is a hoax marketing. What about carbohydrates in foods? Indeed, excessive carbohydrates, especially sugars may be responsible for weight gain, obesity and diabetes. But, you see, even people who follow a diet and feel that it does not matter as long as they eat less food and less fat. Your testosterone levels may also drop if you severely reduce fats, by the way. 
This is low fat and supposed to be healthy.WRONG. It is loaded with carbs and sugars.
Low fat is not always = healthy 
Here is an example of a typical poor diet (carbohydrate-based) that I've met too often

Breakfast: cereal mixture and instant fruit (if people eat breakfast today)

Snack (if any): Apple

Lunch: vegetable salad and bread

Dinner: vegetable soup and bread

Solutions and some recommendations:

A. Eat more often
Smaller meals that are evenly spread throughout the day are often recommended for weight loss because it helps keep the metabolism elevated. This means that you should eat regularly. Instead of three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or even one meal a day, you should eat six small meals of breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner. Obviously, your main meals are smaller to accommodate these snacks. Again, a fruit by itself is not an appropriate snack. A piece of fruit (carbohydrates) and a handful of almonds (protein and fat) is a much better solution. Another alternative is pro-vita biscuits with cottage cheese.

My New Position regarding meal frequency: I am always willing to change my position once new data become available. For instance, as you can see above, I used to believe that smaller and more frequent meals are better for fat burning. But in the light of available evidence I need to say that this may not be the case (Leidy et al., 2010; Cameron et al., 2011). Experiment and go by what works best for you and what fits your schedule. An article will soon follow on the effect of meal size and frequency on fat loss. 

2. Prepare your meals in advance
Food is one of our basic needs and we work hard to be able to feed ourselves properly. Why, then, people take shortcuts when it comes to their diet? Why do people work hard to eat badly and then go spend money on weight loss drugs? Not having time is a lame excuse. I wake up at 4 am every morning to make my meals for the day or I go to sleep an hour later that my meals are prepared for the next day. Yes, I eat because I'm an athlete, but you can also prepare a few meals for the day. A homemade meal is much healthier and cheaper than fast food. 

But here is the good news. One of my friends, Hans, has set up a nice ready-made meal distribution business in Mauritius. An avid lifter himself, Hans set up Food Designers to cater for bodybuilders and health conscious individuals in Mauritius. You can design your own healthy meals yourself. I respect such initiatives and I can say that Hans did this out of genuine concern and not to make a quick buck or rip you off. Visit his facebook page for more details. This is a personal recommendation, not advertising.
Food Designers allow you to design your own meals
People no longer pack meals to bring to work anymore.
They'll eat out or worse, starve thinking they'll lose weight. LOL
3. Again: eat balanced meals and make adjustments:
A meal should consist of a portion of protein, carbohydrates and lipids. Your rich food protein should be more or less the size of your fist. Vegetables can be quite abundant while starchy foods should be limited. You must include a fat source too. Vegetarians need some adjustments because their protein sources also come with quite a bit of carbohydrates. I'm not too knowledgeable about vegetarian diets and I welcome your input.
This is an example of a balanced meal
I hope this article has helped you to identify mistakes in your diet and provided basic information to better prepare a diet. My future articles will focus on selected topics of nutrition and exercises that help burn fat and tone the body. Until next time, goodbye and good health to all.

Cameron JD, Cyr MJ, Doucet E. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br J Nutr. 2010 Apr;103(8):1098-101.

Leidy HJ, Tang M, Armstrong CL, Martin CB, Campbell WW. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Apr;19(4):818-24.

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My Bio: I am a Mauritian originally from Roche Bois, Port Louis and now based in Cape Town, South Africa where I am busy with my postgraduate studies in molecular biology of exercise. My research, supervised by Prof. Edward Ojuka and Dr. Tertius Kohn, looks at the influence of nutrition and exercise in gene expression in muscle, research which is relevant and applicable to exercising individuals, sports persons and diabetic individuals. The knowledge that I share with you stems from my 18 years of experience in bodybuilding and 8 years (and counting) of university education in the field. I have also published work in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism (2012, 2014), International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2013) and co-authored two book chapters on exercise and diabetes. I also presented my research work at the 2012 International Sports and Exercise Nutrition Conference (UK). I am grateful to each and everyone at the UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. "Knowledge without sharing is worth nothing"
©,2013, Veeraj Goyaram, Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited.
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