FOR THE PAST 30 YEARS, THE MOST WIDELY ACCEPTED BELIEF IS THAT TO LOSE WEIGHT YOU MUST FOLLOW A LOW FAT, CALORIE-CONTROLLED DIET. BUILT ON THESE BELIEFS IS AN INDUSTRY WORTH MILLIONS OF POUNDS, WITH WEIGHTWATCHERS, SLIMMING WORLD AND LIGHTERLIFE DIETS LEADING THE WAY.
The problem is, these diets do not work particularly well in the long run, with many dieters regaining the pounds lost – and then some.
There are many reasons for this, but the psychological side of poor eating habits plays a major role. Behaviour change is also a factor, but even more so is being aware about the effects of certain foods on health, mood, energy levels and so on.
We are facing a global epidemic of obesity with 67 per cent of British men and 57 per cent of British women overweight. Alongside this is the huge increase in diabetes, cancer, heart disease and many other health problems.
So what is the answer?
Firstly some simple steps to get you on track:
- Cut down on what I call the main offenders of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy and wheat. This will not only help you lose weight, but will really kick-start the body into burning off those extra pounds. If you can, try and cut out altogether for a week or two; you will be amazed at how good you feel.
- Keep your blood sugar levels stable by choosing the right kind of carbohydrates that have little effect on raising your blood sugar. These have been proven to stop those sweet cravings and help control your appetite.
- Look for foods with a low glycemic load, a precise measure of the amount of available carbohydrate in the food in question. The glycemic load is more effective than the glycemic index because you can still get fat eating low GI foods, due to the quantity of carbohydrate. GL is a measure of both. Try to eat some protein with your carbohydrates; this is the reason high protein diets such as Atkins and South Beach work for many people. Simply, the extra protein and reduced carbohydrate helps to keep the blood sugar stable and therefore the appetite is decreased. Unfortunately, this can also be unhealthy due to the high meat content, which creates excess acidity and inflammation.
- Patrick Holford, the founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, recommends no more than 40 GLs a day if you are to maintain permanent weight loss. You can find the GL value of foods on the internet or multiply the GL by the amount of carbohydrate in food. For example, ten points for breakfast, ten points for lunch, ten points for dinner and five points for each for two snacks.
- Balance your acid/alkaline levels. Perhaps the most important aspect of a healthy body is our PH or acid/alkaline balance. When we consume acid-forming foods, such as meat, dairy, grains/wheat and sugar, and drink anything other than water, we are left with acidic residue internally which creates weight problems, poor health and tiredness.
- Aim to eat a ratio of 70 per cent alkaline forming food, such as fruit and primarily vegetables, and only 30 per cent acid.
- Eat good fat. Known as essential fatty acids, or EFAs, these actually help you to burn fat. We have been brainwashed by the low fat promoters that any kind of fat is bad, but nothing could be further from the truth. Omega 3 essential fats, which are primarily from fish and flax seeds, are hugely beneficial to the brain, immune system, hormonal system, skin and cardiovascular system. The body treats one calorie of these fats very differently from one calorie of saturated fat.
- This is a great example of how a calorie is NOT just a calorie. My nutritional mentor, Dr Michael Colgan, who has worked with countless Olympic athletes, said if this were true then those athletes burning off up to 7,000 kcals daily and only eating half that amount would waste away!
- Take the right supplements. I have previously highlighted that deficiencies in certain nutrients are now at epidemic levels. Alongside dietary changes, I would recommend a good quality multivitamin with additional vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin C to promote optimal health.
These are some very simple guidelines to get you started. At MK Lifefit, we have just launched our Health Made Simple System, which is a lifelong programme for everyone. It deals with the Four Pillars of Health and we guarantee that whatever level you choose on the plan you will succeed!