The Dangerous Myths
The health industry is filled with myths. Anyone whoâ€™s tried to lose weight knows how much conflicting information is out there. Someone has to be mistaken, right? Well...believe it or not, the US government is responsible for encouraging one of the most devastating myths in the history of our nationâ€™s health. When the US government introduced the â€˜food pyramidâ€™ in the 1990s, a low-fat, high-carb diet quickly became the Americaâ€™s â€˜go toâ€™ for health and weight loss. Refined carbohydrates â€“ pastas, breads and rice â€“ were encouraged, and fats and oils were shunned as unhealthy.[i] Somewhere in the process, we started associating dietary fats with body fat. Somewhere in the process, we started to lose the battle against obesity.
This focus has proved disastrous. In the struggle towards weight-loss, Americans have been following low-fat diets for the past 30 years. As more products became marketed as low-fat, the assumption by many nutritionists at the time was that there would be a new era of lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Sadly, over the last 30 years, Americans have been getting larger, and rates of heart disease and obesity are the highest they`ve ever been. Between 1980 and 2000, obesity rates have doubled. More than 2/3rds (68%) of US adults are now overweight or obese. [ii] Even more severly, childhood obesity rates have been on the rise, and children have been facing a variety of diseases commonly associated with adults such as type two diabetes. North American nutrition beliefs appear to be in severe need of a change if we expect any of these statistics to improve.
The Scientifically-Supported Reality
In the last decade, scientists have actually found that a balanced diet with a good amount of the right fats is not only healthy â€“ but can actually help us lose weight. The likes of Dr Walter Willett (Harvard School of Public Health) have dismissed the US-governmentâ€™s food pyramid as ineffective and dangerous. Recent studies have discovered certain food qualities are vital for health and maximum weight loss. These include:
- Balanced Macronutrients â€“ Getting a balance of each macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) is vital in keeping healthy, staying fuller for longer, and losing weight.
- Low GI (Glycemic Index) â€“ Low GI foods break down gradually, limiting blood sugar spikes responsible for weight gain. Examples: fruits, oats, sweet potatoes, green vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds.
- High Protein â€“ A high protein diet is essential for smart weight-loss â€“ not only does protein increase your satiety (fullness), it also helps preserve your lean mass as you lose body fat.
- High Fiber - High fiber diets (of at least 30g a day) have been found to lower the risk of high blood pressure, and prevent heart disease and type two diabetes. [iii]
The Right Diets
As science starts to set the facts straight, nutritionists and health experts are quickly following lead â€“ adding the above qualities to their arsenal. Some modern diets are actually highly effective at achieving weight loss â€“ permanently.
- The Paleo Diet - Focussing only on natural, unprocessed foods â€“ the same as our ancestors might have consumed â€“ the Paleo Diet is a long-term answer to a balanced, nutritious diet for both weight loss and health.
- The Biggest Loser Diet - Followers of this diet will find themselves eating regular meals filled with a balance of food types â€“ including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrains. Sounds pretty sensible, right? The diet makes for a fantastic weight-loss and disease prevention programme.
- Forming the Right Habits - Choosing the right diet is half the struggle. Creating the right habits wins the battle. The smallest, daily decisions you make impact how successful your weight-loss attempts are.
- Dream Big - Start Small - Big dreams â€“ scientists have found â€“ are powerful motivators. But they can be intimidating, too. Set yourself small, achievable goals to boost your confidence and ease yourself into a routine. Good yet small changes include drinking more water and getting more fiber.
- Remove Temptations - If your willpower is already weak, remove easy temptations. Avoid eating out at unhealthy food joints. Replace high-calorie, processed snacks with healthy alternatives. Make it difficult to indulge in bad habits. Celebrate your willpower victories by treating yourself in a non-dietary manner, such as investing more in your hobbies, or taking a day to pamper yourself. It is important to treat food as a positive influence in your life, but avoid using food to fill a void or to treat boredom.
- Make It Convenient - The less effort healthy eating is, the more likely youâ€™ll stick to it. With a bit of preparation, you can make sure youâ€™re getting a good balance of healthy meals and snacks throughout your day. Getting hungry is the biggest danger to relapsing into less healthy meals and snacks, so make sure that healthy, filling, and low calorie snacks are near you when you`re on the go and might be more likely to stop by a convenience store for an unhealthy and sugary snack.
While everyoneâ€™s diet will be different, here are some powerful, highly-effective dietary habits to help you lose weight:
- Eat a high-protein breakfast
- Replace juice/soda with water
- Fill yourself with low-carb and high fiber, green vegetables
- Consume healthy, nutritious snacks daily
Eating the right snacks is extremely important. Healthy snacks can curb hunger, keep your metabolism revved up, and help you in your quest towards weight loss. High-protein, low-sugar snacks are ideal.
- Almonds â€“ High in protein, fibre, and healthy fats, almonds are natureâ€™s superfood, and a sure-fire way to keep you fuller â€“ for longer.
- Hard-boiled Eggs â€“ Hard-boiled eggs are a powerhouse of vitamins, protein, healthy fats, and convenient, versatile snacking on the go.
- Protein Bars - Protein bars can either be highly nutritious, filling, and low-calorie, or sugar-filled candy.