Diet Myths - essential read for a fat person

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2005/08/05 13:40:26 (permalink)

Diet Myths - essential read for a fat person

Myth 1

Cholesterol is bad for you, low or zero-fat diets are good for you.


Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is made mostly by the liver. We all need some blood cholesterol as it's used to build cells and make vital hormones - and there's good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Leading dietician Lyndel Costain explains, 'Saturated fats found in food like meat, cheese, cream, butter and processed pastries tend to raise LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol - known as 'bad' cholesterol - and this delivers cholesterol to the arteries. HDL (high density lipoprotein) - or 'good' cholesterol - transports cholesterol away from the arteries, back to the liver.

People tend to think they need a low fat diet to lose weight, but you should still have a third of your calories coming from fat. As a guideline, women need 70g (95g for men) of fat a day with 30g (40g for men) as the minimum. There's no need to follow a fat free diet, just cutting down on saturated fats and having unsaturated fats, found in things like olive oil and avocados, will help.

Myth 2

Crash dieting or fasting makes you lose weight.


This can be true in the short term but as Claire MacEvilly, nutrition scientist from the British Nutrition Foundation, explains it can have negative side effects on cholesterol levels. 'Losing weight over the long term burns off fat, and crash dieting or fasting not only removes fat but also lean muscle and tissue. It can also make you feel dizzy or weak so it's much better to try long term weight loss.'

Myth 3

Food eaten late at night is more fattening.


Many diets tell you not to eat after a certain time in the evening in the belief that the body will store more fat because it is not burned off with any activity. However, a study at the Dunn Nutrition Centre in Cambridge suggests otherwise. Volunteers were placed in a whole body calorimeter (which measures calories burned and stored) and were fed with a large lunch and small evening meal for one test period, then a small lunch and large evening meal during a second test period. The results revealed the large meal eaten late at night did not make the body store more fat – it's the total amount eaten in a 24-hour period that's important. Lyndel Costain says, 'It is true that people who skip meals during the day, then eat loads in the evening are more likely to be overweight than those who eat regularly throughout the day. This may be because eating regular meals helps people regulate their appetite and overall food intake.'

Myth 4

Vegetarians can't build muscle.


Vegetarians can be equally as muscular as meat eaters by getting their protein from vegetable products like nuts, pulses and grains. Claire MacEvilly says, 'You need protein to build muscle but too much can lead to long-term side effects, like putting the kidney under too much pressure. The body can only store a certain amount of protein, too much can damage the kidney. The Department of Health recommends that 50 per cent of energy should come from carbohydrates, 35 per cent from fat and the remaining 15 per cent from protein.'

Myth 5

A slow metabolism prevents weight loss.


This is a common myth among overweight people trying to manage their weight. Studies have shown that resting metabolism, which is the number of calories used by the body at rest, increases rather than decreases as people become fatter. In other words, the larger you are, the more calories that are required to keep your body going. Clare Grace, obesity research dietitian at the Royal London Hospital, says, 'Weight gain occurs when the number of calories eaten is greater than the number used up by the body. Unfortunately, people are becoming increasingly sedentary, burning off less and less calories, and it seems likely this is a crucial factor in the increasing numbers struggling to control their weight.'

Myth 6

Fattening foods make for rapid weight gain.


Believe it or not, true weight gain is a slow process. You need to eat an extra 3500 calories to gain one pound of body fat (and vice versa for losing it). Lyndel Costain explains, 'If the scales say you've gained a few pounds after a meal out, it's largely due to fluid, which will resolve itself - as long as you don't get fed up, and keep overeating! A lot of people feel guilty and think they've blown their diet if they eat rich foods. But, how can a 2oz chocolate bar make you instantly put on pounds? Balance high fat foods with healthy food and activity for long term weight control.'

Myth 7

Low-fat milk has less calcium than full-fat milk.


Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk actually have more calcium, says Harley Street nutritionist Alison Sullivan, because the calcium is in the watery part, not the creamy part. 'If you're trying to lose weight and cut fat from your diet, skimmed milk is your best bet because not only is it lower in fat but it also has 10mg more calcium in 200ml of milk than full fat. Semi-skimmed is best for maintaining a healthy lifestyle if you're not dieting. Full fat milk is best for children, and adults who are underweight.'

Myth 8

Low-fat foods help you lose weight.


'Low-fat' or 'fat-free' doesn't necessarily mean low calorie or calorie-free, warns Lyndel Costain. Check the calorie content of foods, especially cakes, biscuits, crisps, ice creams and ready meals. Extra sugars and thickeners are often added to boost flavour and texture, so calorie content may be only a bit less, or similar to standard products. New Government guidelines now discourage the use of '% fat free' claims. A low-fat food should contain no more than 3g fat per 100g. 'And watching the quantity is important,' adds nutritionist Alison Sullivan. 'People tend to have half-fat spread but then use twice as much. And things like fruit pastilles may be low in fat but are high in sugar which turns to fat. So in low fat foods, look to see where else the calories might come from.'

Myth 9

You always gain weight when you stop smoking.


When people stop smoking, some gain weight, some lose and some stay the same. It's far healthier to be an overweight non-smoker than not to bother giving up because you think you'll put on weight. Alison Sullivan says: 'Where people tend to fall down is when they replace a cigarette with comfort food. Chewing sugar-free gum or snacking on vegetable strips kept in the fridge is a good idea as you can have these instead of reaching for the biscuit tin. And something like a satsuma keeps your hands occupied until the craving goes away.'

Myth 10

Bananas are fattening.


They are actually low in fat. There is only half a gram of fat and 95 calories in a banana. Not only that but they are packed with potassium, come in their own packaging, are clean and very handy as a snack!


The most important thing i learned from reading this is that fat people actually have better metabolism then lean people.

The reason lean people tend to look like they eat more then a fat person is that they eat regularly were as a fat person only has 2/3 meals a day.

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    RE: Diet Myths - essential read for a fat person 2005/08/05 13:51:09 (permalink)

    Alison Sullivan says: 'Where people tend to fall down is when they replace a cigarette with comfort food. Chewing sugar-free gum or snacking on vegetable strips kept in the fridge is a good idea as you can have these instead of reaching for the biscuit tin. And something like a satsuma keeps your hands occupied until the craving goes away.'

    Poor advice obviously from a non-smoker! Much better to lock the door, shut the curtains, unplug the phone and hide under the duvet for a week crying and screaming. A satsuma indeed!
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