Popular Diet Plans

Those of you who have had your nutritional status checked out, and maybe even had a Metabolic Type Test done, will have a good idea what foods you need to eat. This knowledge is also very important for people who are considering going on a diet, as it enables them to tailor the chosen diet plan to suit their particular dietary requirements,

But which diet plan? – there are a number out there. To help you choose the one best suited to you, we are now going to look at the pros and cons of the most popular plans.

Atkins Diet

The Atkins is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, eating plan created in 1972 by cardiologist Robert Atkins. The premise is that you begin with a low-carb diet for the first two weeks, during which time you are restricted to eating meat, seafood, eggs, cheese and specific vegetables.

This first phase produces rapid weight loss that can be as high as 15lb (6.8kgs). This is followed by three more phases during which you start eating increasing quantities of carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. These subsequent phases will see a gradual reduction in the amount of weight lost. The diet also emphasises the importance of exercise.

Pros – the plan works – many people have lost weight with it. It’s also good if you need to lose weight quickly for whatever reason.

The diet eliminates the refined carbohydrates found in food such as white bread, cakes, pasta, biscuits, etc, and instead promotes unrefined carbs that are much healthier. It allows foods that other diets restrict – steak, bacon and eggs, for example. This makes it easier to follow.

Cons – the amount of carbohydrate, and hence fiber, allowed on the diet is too low. This can cause a number of health issues such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, weakness, insomnia and constipation.

A large proportion of people who lose weight with the Atkins Diet regain it once they’ve gone back to eating normally. Also, the diet does not provide sufficient minerals and vitamins so supplementation is required to prevent nutritional deficiency.

While weight is lost initially, in the long term it is difficult to sustain. This is due to the lack of carbohydrates – most people can only stick this for so long before going back to eating them. Furthermore, the rate at which weight is lost is often too rapid to be healthy.

Over the long-term, the Atkins Diet can cause serious complications, such as kidney disease, kidney stones, brittle bones and heart disease.

Dukan Diet

Similar to Atkins, the Dukan diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet. However, unlike Atkins, it restricts fat and omits vegetables completely in the first phase. These are gradually introduced in the subsequent phases of the diet.

The first ‘attack’ phase lasts for up to ten days and restricts you to a choice of 68 high-protein foods – no carbohydrates are allowed at all. The next ‘cruise’ phase allows you to start eating carbs as well as protein – you can choose from 28 approved vegetables. The third ‘consolidation’ phase adds fruit and dairy foods, while the fourth ‘stabilization’ phase is basically a set of rules for life that stop you putting the weight back on.

Pros – initially, you can expect to lose weight quickly. The diet will appeal to those who don’t want to spend their time counting calories and wondering if one food is better than another. Basically, it simplifies things by specifying just what you can and cannot eat.

Cons – the low carbohydrate and fiber intake causes the same problems as the Atkins diet. In the long-term (and it is touted as being for life!) the diet can cause problems ranging from cancer and heart attack to premature aging. These are due to its nutritional deficiencies and lack of antioxidants.

The diet is not sustainable in the long-term, so most people regain the weight they’ve lost. More importantly, though, it is nutritionally unbalanced as it minimizes the importance of fruit and vegetables, whole-grains and fiber. Not to mention missing out on the general health benefits of eating a variety of food types. This diet does your health no good at all – avoid it.

5:2 Diet

This is essentially a part-time diet that allows you to eat normally five days of the week, but for two, non-consecutive days, eat just a quarter of what you normally would. For women, this should be no more than 500 calories and, for men, 600 calories. On the ‘eat’ days, you can eat whatever you want. Most people lose approximately 1lb a week as a result.

The diet employs the principle of intermittent fasting which not only helps in weight loss but can have other health benefits, such as reducing insulin resistance, suppressing inflammation and fighting free radical damage.

Pros – weight is lost at a sensible, sustainable rate unlike with most diets. Also, you only have to count calories and feel hungry for two out of seven days. For many people, this makes it much easier to persevere with.

Cons – quite a few. One major drawback is that people feel so deprived during the two fasting days that they overeat during the non-fasting days. As a result, they either lose no weight at all or actually put weight on!

Another is that the very low nutrient intake on fasting days can cause irritability, tiredness, lack of concentration and sleep issues. Also, exercise will be difficult on fasting days due to the low energy intake.

The diet can also have an impact on social life – dinner and/or drinks with friends and family on fasting days will be a non-starter.

For many people, the diet works well enough. However, the strict fasting aspect means it is unsuitable for people sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels, people with a history of eating disorders and people with type 1 diabetes.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet basically takes you back to the days of cavemen by restricting you to eating the foods they did. This is in the belief they were healthier than we are. Accordingly, you can only eat foods that can be hunted and fished, i.e. meat and seafood – and foods that can be collected, i.e. nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and eggs.

Essentially, it is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet that eliminates grains, dairy produce, root vegetables, refined sugar and salt. Healthy fats and oils like olive, flax and coconut are encouraged.

Pros – the Paleo diet lowers blood sugar levels and so is good for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Also, the diet is ‘cleaner’ than most given that the foods it permits have very low levels of pesticides and preservatives. Another plus is that it gives people a feeling of satiety due to the high amount of fats and protein.

Cons – the Paleo diet disregards the benefits provided by whole-grains. Not being able to eat dairy produce can mean an inadequate intake of some minerals – calcium being an important example. Also, for some people, the amount of protein in the diet may be too high.

It’s a nice theory but does have some inherent flaws. Firstly, the idea that early humans didn’t eat grain-based foods doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. There is actually plenty of evidence that they were eating grasses, cereals, beans and legumes before the Palaeolithic era even began.

Secondly, the diet assumes they were the same as we are today, and lived their lives in similar fashion. This is complete rubbish – for one, they were far more active than ever we are, which simple fact alone goes a long way to explaining their better health (assuming it was better!).

Having said all this, it is a diet that, with a bit of tweaking, i.e. including some grain-based foods, can be a very healthy one.

Alkaline Diet

The Alkaline diet is touted as being able to help you not just lose weight but to also avoid health issues such as osteoporosis, kidney and gall stones, cancer, arthritis and diabetes.

It works on the theory that dairy produce, eggs, meat, grains and processed foods, all produce an acidic waste product that adversely affects our body’s pH (acidity and alkalinity) level. As a result, the likelihood of us getting the above-mentioned diseases is increased.

The diet supposedly works by cutting out the foods that do this and, instead, eating foods that have an alkaline-promoting effect on our bodies. The latter includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.   

Pros – the only real advantage of this diet is that it makes you stop eating unhealthy processed foods which are high in refined sugars and additives.

Cons – the first point that must be made here is that acid-forming foods aren’t necessarily bad for us – in fact, most of them are actually highly nutritious. Even if they do have adverse effects, these are more than outweighed by the health benefits they offer.

Secondly, the idea that we can manipulate the body’s pH level though diet is fantasy – our bodies regulate this themselves regardless of what we do or don’t eat.

Thirdly, it can actually damage our health by cutting out foods that are good for us.

This diet is highly endorsed by Hollywood celebrities and the like which, in-itself, is probably reason enough to ignore it. It pretends to have a scientific basis (pH levels, etc) but there is no serious study that gives it credence. We suggest you give this one a wide berth.

Mediterranean Diet

One of the most well known diet plans of all is the Mediterranean diet. The basis of this plan is to eat the foods traditionally eaten in countries such as Italy and Greece. The inhabitants of these countries tend be healthier overall than those of other western nations. What’s more, they have a much lower risk of getting killer diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The diet allows you to eat as much vegetables, seafood, potatoes, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, unrefined grains, herbs, spices; and healthy oils such as olive and coconut, as you like. Poultry, eggs and dairy produce can be eaten in moderation, while red meat is eaten rarely – maybe once a week. Foods that cannot be eaten at all are basically anything that is highly processed.

With most diets, water, unsweetened tea and coffee are the only liquids that should be drunk. On the Mediterranean diet, however, you are also allowed one glass of red wine a day.

Pros – the ‘diet’ is not actually a diet – it’s more a healthy way of eating that has evolved over many years. Most overweight people who try it naturally lose weight, (albeit much more slowly than with regular diets) as it is low in processed foods.

With regard to its fat content, this is largely of the monounsaturated type, which considerably lowers the risk of heart disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Cons – the amount of dairy produce that can be eaten is limited. This can result in a less than ideal intake of certain minerals, such as calcium. Another drawback is that it can be a confusing diet to follow as specified parameters are vague, i.e. ‘moderate’, ‘often’, etc. So if you’re the type of person who needs hard and fast rules to follow, this may not be the diet for you.

The Mediterranean diet is actually more of a lifestyle plan than a method of losing weight. It’s a way of eating and drinking that, if followed for life, will result in a much longer and healthier life than the average westerner achieves. 

Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic diet is very low in carbs and very high in fats, and is similar to the Atkins and Dukan (both of which can sometimes end up being ketogenic if taken to extremes). The main difference is the amount of protein allowed – less with the Ketogenic diet.

Following the diet will put you into ketosis. This is a condition that compels the body to produce tiny fuel molecules called ketones that it uses as an alternative fuel when blood sugar is in short supply (as it will be due to the very low level of carbohydrates). As these ketones are produced from fat by the liver, the body turns into a fat-burning machine rather than the carbohydrate-burning machine it is normally. The reason protein is limited is that in the absence of carbohydrates, the body will turn it into sugar and so stay out of ketosis.

Pros – turning your body into a fat-burning machine is the ideal mechanism for weight loss. Furthermore, when in ketosis it produces much less of the fat-storing hormone, insulin. This can be extremely beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

Another benefit is that ketosis creates a steady flow of fuel to the brain – this is known to improve cognition and concentration. Many people use ketogenic diets specifically for this reason. Ketogenic diets are also a very effective treatment for people with epilepsy and have been used for this purpose for many years.

As if all that’s not enough, a ketogenic diet has another trick up its sleeve – it can increase your level of physical endurance. This is because your body is being fuelled by its fat reserves that last much longer than stored carbohydrates which, typically, only last for an hour or two. Having said that, there is evidence that suggests the level of performance achieved with ketosis is not as high as it is when you are fuelled by carbohydrates. You may be able to keep going longer but you won’t be going as fast.

Cons – given the above, what’s not to like as the saying goes? Well, it has to be said all is not rosy in the ketosis garden. For a start, it can take an adaptation period of up to two weeks to actually get into ketosis. During this period, you may feel rather grotty.

Also, those who need to expend high levels of energy – sportsmen and people doing manual labour, for example, may not be able to produce the amount of energy their particular activity requires while in ketosis.

By necessity (you have to eat something after all), your fat intake will be at a level that’s high enough to maybe be detrimental to your health. Also, due to the highly restrictive nutritional guidelines – four grams of fat for every gram of protein or carbohydrate, it can be difficult to adhere to the diet.

The Ketogenic diet undoubtedly has its uses. For those wanting or needing to lose weight fast, it’s probably the best diet out there. It’s also a proven treatment for people unfortunate enough to have epilepsy.

However, there are concerns about it. For one, it is a very high-fat diet. If people can restrict that fat intake to the healthier unsaturated fats, all well and good. Unfortunately, many people are going to take this plan as their cue to fill up with more saturated fat than is good for them.

Another concern is that it’s just too extreme. Most people simply don’t need to lose weight as rapidly as they are likely to with this diet.

Weight Watchers Diet

The Weight Watchers diet allows you to eat whatever you want – cheese, cream, biscuits, pasta – nothing is off-limits. However, in order to achieve its goal of making you shed those pounds, it encourages you to plump for more healthy foods.

The basic concept is that all foods are given a rating dependent on their protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber content. Foods that are good for you have a lower rating than those that are less good. Essentially, the diet steers you toward vegetables, fruit and protein, and away from the fatty, sugary stuff.

Dieters are given a points target that is worked out according to their nutritional profile and what they want to achieve. They can then spend their points on whatever food they like as long as the total spent is within their daily allowance.

An unusual aspect of this diet is the level of support available. Besides the optional meetings and personal coaching, Weight Watchers has an online community, a magazine, and a web site with tools, recipes, tips, success stories and more. There is even a section just for men. You can also sign up online for a newsletter.

Pros – the support network is key for many people as it gives them the encouragement they need to persevere with the diet. The focus on nutritious foods makes it a good choice for people with, or at risk of, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Also, the Weight Watchers system encourages daily exercise and rewards it with Fitpoints. These can then be used to buy more, or higher calorie, food. Another advantage is that weight is lost at a slow, steady rate – much healthier than losing half a stone a week or whatever as with some of the more extreme diets.

Cons – Weight Watchers is not free – there is a monthly fee that depends on the level that you choose. If you have a lot of weight to lose, the cost may end up being significant. The need to be always counting points is tedious and time-consuming and soon puts many people off.

Dieters with limited self-control find that being able to eat anything they like is too tempting. Plans that set strict guidelines are better for these people.

Another drawback is that it makes you count points rather than calories. So when coming off the diet, many people quickly put weight back on because they simply don’t know the calorific value of food. They may be aware that a burger and fries is worth 14 points but they don’t know it contains around 800 calories!

For many people, this diet does work. However, there is a financial cost and, to a large degree, it depends on dieters attending the meetings. For these reasons, it will not be for everyone.

Yellow-tooth Diet

Lastly, we have our very own Yellowtooth Diet Plan. Learn all about it here.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a scheduled eating plan in which food intake is restricted to a certain length of time. The most common way of doing it is to restrict eating to a window of about six to eight hours. This can be done daily, every other day or even weekly.

How Intermittent Fasting Works
When you are fasting intermittently, your body functions differently during the ‘feasting’ stage than it does during the ‘fasting’ stage. The food you eat during the feasting period is digested and the energy it contains is extracted into the blood stream. As it is in the blood, and thus immediately available, this is the energy your body will burn.

During the fasting period however, the opposite happens. As you haven’t eaten for a long time, there is no surplus energy in your blood stream just waiting to be used. So, when energy is needed, your body has to take it from the next available source – it’s fat stores.

Typically, the fast times are between sixteen and eighteen hours – some people do it for longer periods such as thirty six hours and even several days. We don’t advise this however, as it is taking the concept to extremes that really aren’t necessary. The way we do recommend is to skip breakfast, eat your lunch around midday and your dinner by 6.00 pm. Then eat nothing until lunch the following day and so on. By doing so, you’ll be eating within a 6 hour window and fasting for 18 hours.

If done correctly, intermittent fasting offers a range of benefits that include the following:

Weight Loss
The theory of intermittent fasting as an aid to weight loss is based on the fact that the body stores sugar as glycogen in the liver but only enough for six to eight hours. So assuming nothing else is eaten during this period, i.e. the glycogen store is not topped up, after six to eight hours it will all have been used up. This compels the body to switch to the next available fuel – its stores of fat. Essentially, the process replicates (to a degree) what our ancestors were often exposed to in terms of food availability.

Intermittent fasting compels you to eat less frequently. Unless you eat more when you do eat in order to compensate, your calorie intake will be less and you will lose weight – it’s as simple as that!

Intermittent fasting also induces changes in the way certain hormones act. For example, human growth hormone (HGH). Intermittent fasting causes the levels of these hormones to rise, one effect of which is to trigger the burning of fat. At the same time, it also helps build muscle. Another effect of these hormonal changes is that the body’s metabolic rate increases by up to 15 percent. This, in turn, leads to even more calories being burned and so more weight being lost.

An interesting aspect of intermittent fasting as a means of losing weight is that a lot of the fat burned is from around the waist and hips  – traditionally the most difficult parts of the body from which to lose fat.

Reduced Risk of Insulin Resistance
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and its purpose is to enable the body’s cells to absorb glucose. When the human body becomes insulin resistant, its cells cannot absorb glucose as they should and so to compensate, it produces more and more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone for the body’s needs. The result of this is a sharp rise in blood sugar level.

Causes of insulin resistance include:

  •   chronic stress 
  •   high doses of steroids
  •   a sedentary lifestyle
  •   a diet high in carbohydrates 
  •   being overweight or obese

Ensuring none of these apply to you will eliminate, or at least considerably reduce, the risk of insulin resistance. Another method is intermittent fasting. Recent studies have demonstrated that it reduces both blood sugar levels and insulin by a considerable degree.

Reduced Effects of Aging on the Brain
Research shows that intermittent fasting can have a significant effect on the human brain in a couple ways:

The first is that intermittent fasting causes the body to stop using glucose as an energy source and instead use fat. When it does this, the fat releases substances known as ketones. These are used by the body, the brain in particular, as an alternative fuel source. As ketones are a more efficient fuel than glucose, the brain receives a significant boost of energy.

The second is that ketones increase the number of mitochondria (minute organs that generate energy) in brain cells. This happens particularly in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that handles learning and memory. Cells in the hippocampus are known to degenerate when subjected to age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This can lead to cognitive impairment, loss of memory and more. Thanks to the increased amount of energy provided by the ketones, however, brain cells that would otherwise die are able to survive.

The takeaway here is that intermittent fasting is associated with improved motor coordination, learning response and a decrease in oxidative stress (oxidative stress is what we often consider normal age-related change). So intermittent fasting improves healthy aging of the brain and decreases the cognitive decline that is generally considered a normal part of the aging process.

Regeneration of  the Immune System
Humans have a type of cell known as a stem cell that have the ability to mutate into different types of cell. These stem cells stay dormant until they are activated by disease or an injury to body tissue. When they are activated, they can generate a range of cell types from the originating organ, or even regenerate the entire original organ. In other words, stem cells provide the body with a way of repairing and renewing itself.

A related body function is known as mitophagy, the literal meaning of which is ‘self eating’. This is a process that enables the body to clean and detoxify itself by, quite literally, eating cells that are no longer needed or are damaged. The process is also thought to have a role in controlling the body’s immunity system and inflammation. However, mitophagy doesn’t just happen – it has to be kick-started. The way to do it is by subjecting the body to an unusually high level of stress. There are three methods of achieving this:

  • Exercise – strenuous workouts damage your muscles by causing microscopic tears that the body then has to heal. This makes the muscles stronger than before, more resistant to further damage, and also builds new tissue. The more intense the exercise, the greater the benefit

  • Eating a ketogenic diet. This forces the body to burn fat to fuel itself and enables people to lose body fat while, at the same time, retaining muscle

  • Intermittent fasting. Although it wasn’t always so, this is now an unnatural thing for us to do and so our bodies find it a stressful experience. When the body is in a ‘fed’ state, mitophagy is low. However, when in a ‘fasted’ state, the opposite applies – insulin levels drop and mitophagy increases

Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Triglycerides are a type of fat that is used to store excess energy from our diet. A high level of it is associated with cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting is known to reduce the level of this type of fat significantly.

Reduced Levels of Inflammation
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to damage or danger. This can be bacteria infecting a wound or a splinter in your finger, for example. It is not always helpful to the body though – with some types of disease the immune system actually attacks itself by mistake. Examples of this include psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. These are all chronic inflammatory diseases that can last for years, or even a lifetime, in varying degrees of severity.

A substance called Leukotriene B4 plays an important role in a number of cellular processes involved in inflammation. It is known that a diet high in fish oil decreases the production of Leukotriene B4. With this fact in mind, recent studies have been done to see if a reduction in calorie intake would also have a beneficial effect. The results have all shown that fasting, both intermittent and long-term, causes a decrease in the production of Leukotriene B4 and thus has an anti-inflammatory effect. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is straightforward enough. That said, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you start:

DON’T do it if you are pregnant, diabetic, have any underlying medical problems or are taking prescription drugs.

DO listen to your body. If you feel abnormal in any way, don’t be a hero – stop immediately. In particular, heart palpitations, dizziness and weakness must not be ignored.

DON’T do strenuous exercise while fasting. Light stuff is fine but it’s best to avoid things like high-intensity cardiovascular exercise, especially if you’re not used to it.

DO ensure you are drinking enough water. A large proportion of our water intake is from the foods we eat, so you will need to compensate by drinking more than you normally do.

DON’T fast intermittently if your usual diet comprises a lot of processed foods. Addressing the quality of your diet is crucial before you start fasting. Take a couple of weeks to slowly cut back on the refined carbohydrates, sugar and grains. Foods you should eat are those rich in natural carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats – eggs, cheese, butter, olive oil,  coconut oil, avocados, nuts, etc.

DO work to a schedule by only eating in the same window. Working to a routine makes it easier to stick with.

DON’T give up! Half of the fasting period is when you’re asleep. That just leaves eight hours or so. Drink water and tea whenever you start to waiver.

Bottom Line
Some lucky people are able to lose weight easily. Most, however, find it anything but easy. You think you are doing everything that you should be but the weight stubbornly refuses to disappear. Intermittent fasting may be the answer. It also offers a range of other benefits.

However, do make sure your body is up to to it before you start. If in any doubt, consult a healthcare professional.

Weight Loss Mistakes

To lose weight, we need to create an energy deficit, either by eating less calories or increasing the number of calories we burn through physical activity, or both. Some people – the lucky ones – are able to do this without too much trouble.

Most, however, find it anything but easy. You think you are doing everything that you should be but the weight stubbornly refuses to disappear. In all too many cases, the reason is that people are making mistakes. 

The following are the most common of these mistakes:

Fixation With the Scales
Many people when dieting become fixated by what the scale is telling them. Despite sticking religiously to the weight-loss plan, the figure stubbornly refuses to drop. What many don’t know, however, is that the scale reading is just one measure of weight change.

Weight is actually influenced by several factors. For example, fluctuations in the quantity of food and fluid in the body which can cause a persons weight to change by as much as 4 lbs (1.8 kg) during any one day.

A lot of people combine their weight-loss plan with an exercise routine in the hope of getting fit as well as losing weight. What many of them fail to realize though, is that in terms of body weight, one can cancel out the other. They may be losing weight thanks to loss of fat caused by the diet but they are replacing it with muscle gained by the exercising. A simple way of establishing if this is happening to you, is to measure your waist with a tape measure. This will show if you are losing fat. If so, you will also notice that your clothes are looser than they were, particularly around the waist.

An issue that affects the fair sex is that of estrogen levels and hormones. Increases in the former and changes in the latter can cause the body to retain water which, of course, causes an increase in weight, albeit temporary.

Misjudging Calorific Content
In order to lose weight, the body has to to burn more calories than it actually gets. With regard to the precise amount of calories needed for this to happen, there is no easy answer – it varies from person to person. Occupation, age, gender and genes are just some of the factors involved.

Furthermore, most people simply have no idea of the calorific content of the foods they are eating. This makes it impossible for them to regulate their calorie intake to the degree necessary, not just to lose weight, but to lose it at a sensible rate that is both safe and sustainable.

Study after study has shown this to be so. People consistently underestimate the amount of calories they are taking in – wishful thinking perhaps?

Assuming Healthy Foods Are Low in Calories
Many people assume that because a particular food is known to be healthy, it follows that it must be low in calories as well – it’s an understandable way of thinking. With many foods it is indeed true – vegetables for instance. However, many other healthy foods are anything but low in calories – nuts and dairy produce being just two examples.

Consuming too much of the latter will cause you to put weight on. You will be healthier than fat people who don’t eat healthy foods but you will still be fat yourself, and thus not as healthy as you could be.

Again, this where it pays dividends to know the calorific content of the foods you are eating.

Dieting Too Rigorously
Some people take it too far – they reduce their calorie intake to the point where their bodies simply cannot function properly. When this happens, the body shuts down as much as possible in an attempt to conserve what little energy it has. It does this by slowing its metabolic rate (one aspect of metabolism is the conversion of food and drink into energy).

Unfortunately, any weight lost during an extremely low-calorie diet will usually be swiftly regained when the person starts eating normally again. The reason for this is that their metabolism will be unnaturally low for some time after the diet ends and, during this readjustment period, the body will store as much fat as it possibly can – it is programmed to do just this.

Lack of Exercise
An unavoidable side effect of losing fat when dieting, is the simultaneous loss of muscle mass. And since muscle tissue burns many more calories than fat tissue does, it follows that muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.

This is why it is very important to exercise while you are dieting. Doing so will limit the amount of muscle you lose and, in turn, prevent your metabolic rate dropping as low as it otherwise would. This helps the body to burn as much fat as possible.

With regard to what type of exercise is best for this purpose, it is important to realize that you don’t need to do anything extreme. Moderate weight lifting and cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, jogging and swimming fit the bill perfectly here.

Lack of Resistance Training
Resistance training is extremely important when embarking on a weight loss regime. Numerous studies have shown that lifting weights is one of the best exercises for increasing muscle mass and metabolic rate.

It also improves overall body composition and is particularly effective when it comes to losing the stubborn fat around the waist. If there is such a thing as an ideal weight loss strategy, combined aerobic exercise and weightlifting appears to be it.

Eating Diet Foods
Almost always advertized as being low in fat and so ideal for losing weight, so-called diet foods appear to fit the bill perfectly. What usually happens when people eat them regularly however, is that they either don’t lose weight at all or, even worse, actually put weight on.

The reason for this is that foods of this type contain little in the way of fat. This makes them inherently tasteless (most of a food’s flavor is found in the fat). So in order to make them palatable, the manufacturers load them with large quantities of sugar. As a typical example of this, one cup (245 grams) of low-fat yogurt can contain as much as 11 teaspoons of sugar.

Another issue with these foods is that they have a low content of fiber and nutrients. As a result, it’s not long before you’re feeling hungry again and so eating more of them. Once again, this often results in weight gain rather than weight loss.

Overestimating Calories Burned While Exercising
Just as many people underestimate the amount of calories they are consuming, other people overestimate the amount of calories they are burning while doing their exercises.

In most cases, it is a lot less than they think – often several hundred calories less. Having got their breath back after a  run round the park, they head for the kitchen thinking they can fill up to the tune of four or five hundred calories. The reality, however, is that their 30 minute run has only burned about 300 calories. So, at best, they lose no weight and, at worst, actually put it on.

Having said that, exercise is still crucial for overall good health and will help you to lose weight. It’s just that it doesn’t burn quite as many calories as some people think.

Not eating enough protein
In a recent clinical study, subjects who reduced their intake of calories while following a high-protein diet, lost more weight than subjects with a similar reduction in calorie intake but who ate less protein. This is thought to be because protein is a more satiating nutrient than either carbohydrates or fat.

However, be aware that you can overdo the protein as some foods rich in it are also high in carbohydrates. Protein bars and shakes are examples of this. The types of protein you eat matter, too. A tub of plain, fat-free yogurt won’t set you back very many calories but a large steak and fries followed by crackers and cheese will, not to mention being high in saturated fat.

Lack of Fiber
A diet that lacks fiber will definitely hinder your weight loss efforts. Although it is a carbohydrate, it is a type of carbohydrate that is low in calories and also one that the human body finds difficult to digest. As a result, a meal rich in fiber keeps you feeling full for much longer periods than a low-fiber meal will.

Because high-fiber foods are so filling while, at the same time being low in calories, you can eat large portions of them and so do not have to go hungry as you do with some of the diet plans out there. Furthermore, fibrous foods must be well chewed which also helps to create a feeling of satiety.

Fiber comes only from plants. Their skins, seeds and membranes are particularly rich in it. Good sources of fiber are beans, legumes, flax seeds, asparagus, brussels sprouts and oats.

If you have read this article, it won’t surprise you to know that the processed food industry has moved in on this market with it’s range of fiber supplements. Don’t waste your money – it’s cheaper and much more effective to buy the real thing.

Eating Too Often
Conventional dietary advice decrees that we must eat something every three hours or so in order to prevent hunger and a subsequent drop in metabolism. It shouldn’t be much – just enough to keep those hunger pangs at bay. And, indeed, for people who don’t need to lose weight it makes perfect sense. However, for people who are overweight because they cannot control how much they eat, it is dangerous advice.

If you are one of the latter, you must do the precise opposite – quite simply eat less often. Restrict yourself to breakfast, lunch and dinner – nothing else. People who try this usually find that once they get out of the habit of snacking, they quickly lose the urge to do it.

Unrealistic Expectations
Many people are more likely to hit a target, regardless of what it is, if they start off with a clear plan and a realistic idea of what it is they are trying to achieve. It keeps them motivated.

However, setting the target too high can be counter-productive. A number of studies show that dieters who expect to lose large amounts weight, or to lose it very quickly, are actually the ones least likely to succeed.

The message from this is clear. Restricting your expectations to a realistic level that is more likely to be achieved can stop you from getting discouraged, and thus improve your chances of success.

Not Reading Food Labels
Virtually all food products these days come with dietary information on the rear label. This information can provide very good insight as to whether a particular product is fit for your purpose.

The first mistake many people make with regard to these labels is simply not reading them. While most labels consist mainly of a long and incomprehensible list of God knows what ingredients, they do also provide information vital to the dieter – specifically, the calories in the food, and the amounts of fat and sugar it contains. Taking note of this info will stop people who have a limited knowledge of the calorific content of foods eating stuff that will prevent them losing weight.

Needless to say, the processed food industry hates having to provide these details and fought the requirement tooth and nail when it was first mooted. They would much rather their customers have no idea at all about what’s in the food they’re buying. With no choice in the matter, however, the PFI’s only option is to deceive and confuse as much as possible. So, not only do you have to read the food labels, you need to read between the lines because the PFI simply cannot be trusted.

Eating Processed Food
Absolutely the worst thing people can do when trying to lose weight is to eat processed foods – usually, this is the reason they’re overweight in the first place! One of the main problems with these foods is that most of the fiber and nutrients have been processed out of them. What’s left is simply not substantial enough to create a feeling of satiety.

Because of this, it won’t be long before they’re feeling hungry again, Basically, it’s very easy to overeat processed foods. Natural foods on the other hand are difficult to over- consume because they contain fiber and so are satiating.

Weight Loss Tips

Losing weight is not easy and millions of people all over the world struggle to do it. We all know how to do it – dieting or exercise (both ideally). What many of us may not be aware of though, is that there are ways of making the process just a bit easier as we see below.

To be clear, we aren’t claiming that these tips can make the difference between success and failure. They will, however, definitely help.

Eat Slowly
Studies show that if we eat our food slowly, we ingest fewer calories, i.e. we eat less. At the same time, there is an increase in our production of hormones linked to weight loss. According to these studies, people who eat at a normal speed are 30 percent less likely to be obese than people who eat quickly, while people who eat slowly are 45 percent less likely..

The message here is that by wolfing your food down, you increase the likelihood of being overweight by a considerable degree.

Chew Your Food Well
People who are overweight are more likely to chew their food less than people of normal weight do, even when they are eating the same food and in the same amounts. In a study done for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people were asked to chew each mouthful 50 times. This resulted in them eating less. Furthermore, they felt less hungry and thus were more easily satiated.

It’s also a known fact that people who chew their food well, eat more slowly. This  reduces calorie intake as well.

Don’t Have it in the House
If it isn’t there, you can’t eat it. This is probably the most simple strategy of all for watching what you eat. Sure, when you get those hunger pangs you can nip out to the nearest store, but the very fact that you have to do so may well be enough to stop you actually doing it.

Keep Hunger at Bay
Carrying on from the previous tip, when you get hungry eat something rich in fiber –  this is a natural and powerful appetite suppressant.

Good examples of fibrous food that also happen to be very low in calories are carrots and celery. Keep some in the fridge and whenever you get the urge to eat, nibble a stalk or two of celery or a carrot. It may not be as tasty and enticing as a piece of cake but it will fill you up quickly with virtually no calorie intake.

Sleep More, Stress Less
The amount of sleep we get directly affects our body’s desire for food. When we don’t get enough, it over-produces two hunger causing hormones known as leptin and ghrelin. This makes a person more likely to overeat, while at the same time being less satiated by it. Accordingly, people who are sleep deprived tend to weigh more, and have more trouble losing that weight, than those who get adequate rest, even when they follow the same diet.

People who habitually sleep for less than six hours a night also tend to have higher levels of glucose and insulin. This applies even if they are otherwise in good shape. The reason is that consistent lack of sleep prevents the fat cells in our body from utilizing insulin properly. As a result, the body produces increasing amounts of it, which leads to the build-up of fat. Eventually this can cause diseases like such as diabetes.

Lack of sleep also increases our stress levels. One side effect of this is that we are then less able to control our appetites. A body deprived of sleep will produce more of a hormone called cortisol (known as the stress hormone). This activates the reward center in the brain thus creating a sudden desire to eat. When combined, excess levels of ghrelin and cortisol makes people need to eat greater amounts of food than they normally would in order to feel satiated.

Yet another effect of sleep deprivation is that it can increase cravings for foods high in sugar and salt. People affected in this way are more likely to eat unhealthy foods, such as candy, chocolate, salted snacks, etc. One of the main benefits of sleep is that it refreshes the mind and improves our ability to make decisions. Lack of sleep has the opposite effect by reducing mental clarity and judgment. As a result, it is far more likely that someone will not just eat unhealthy food, but also too much of it.

Drink Plenty of Water
Having a sufficient quantity of water in the body is an extremely important factor with regard to keeping fat levels under control. Not only does it aid in burning fat that’s in the bloodstream, it also helps to burn the body’s stores of fat. This is because without an adequate amount of water, the body’s metabolism slows down thus reducing its ability to burn fat.

Furthermore, water is an excellent appetite suppressant. Drinking a glass before a meal helps fill you up before you start eating. Drinking it ice cold  is even better, as doing so gives the metabolism a further boost. This is because the body has to work in order to warm the water to the optimum temperature, thereby burning calories.

Lose The Love Handles

By ‘love handle’ (also known as a spare tire), we mean the fat around the waist and hips. It tends to accumulate in this part of the body due to the close proximity of the liver, which is of course an organ that plays a major role in the processing of body fat.

Unfortunately, once a love handle has developed it can be extremely difficult to get rid of. In fact, it’s quite common for people to diet right down to their correct weight and still be left with a love handle, albeit a smaller one.

So, on to the million dollar question; the one we get asked more than any other. Is it possible to lose a love handle and, if so, how? The answer to the first part of the question is a straightforward yes; the answer to the second part is less so.

The first thing people need to be aware of is that it is simply not possible to target any specific part of the body with regard to losing fat. Basically, it’s all or nothing. If you take in less calories than your body needs, you will lose weight all over, including around the hips and waist. The same basic rule applies to exercise; despite what you will read on dozens of websites, there is no exercise that will get rid of fat anywhere on the body. Exercising will build muscle but it cannot remove fat.

What we are saying therefore, is that there is no magic panacea with regard to getting rid of a love handle. The only way to do it is to knuckle down and go on a weight-loss diet. As your body sheds the fat, your love handle will diminish – it’s as simple as that.

However, there are steps you can take that will help the process. These are as follows:

  • Stop eating junk food – junk food is basically the majority of what the processed food industry churns out. High in sugar and unhealthy fats, and low in nutrients, it is the major cause of the obesity crisis currently sweeping around the western world
  • Exercise more – simply going for a long walk and doing weight bearing exercises such as pull-ups, press-ups, planks and squats will help enormously. You don’t need a gym
  • Cut out alcohol – studies show that alcohol is one of the main offenders with regard to stomach fat. It contains a high amount of ’empty’ calories which don’t have any nutritional value. Women are more likely to store the fat created by surplus calories on their hips, thighs and arms, while men store it on their tummy, i.e. the ‘beer belly’
  • Get plenty of sleep – sleep is one of the most important aspects of overall health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to managing weight. In one study, it was shown that women who slept for less than five hours a night were significantly more likely to gain weight around their stomach than those who slept seven hours or more
  • Eat plenty of protein – there is evidence that suggests protein is a very important factor when it comes to losing stomach fat. Firstly, it releases the hormone PYY which sends a message to your brain that you’re full. Secondly, studies have been done that prove people with a high protein intake have lower levels of stomach fat
  • Stop counting calories – quit calorie counting and, instead, start eating a healthy diet comprised of unprocessed fresh foods, such as fish, eggs, meat and vegetables. Don’t be afraid of eating good fats, such as avocados, nuts and oily fish

We said at the beginning of this article that it’s quite common for people to diet right down to their correct weight and still be left with a love handle. So the only option for these people is to continue the diet until the love handle has gone completely. By the time they have achieved this, of course, they will be well under weight and probably looking somewhat skeletal.

It’s at this point that they have to start putting weight back on. However, it’s absolutely essential that they do so by only eating foods that contain healthy fats. Processed food will be a no-no. By eating healthy foods that are free of refined sugar and starches – in other words, eating as they should have done right from the start – they will be able to put on weight without developing another love handle.

Weigh Yourself Thin

While weighing yourself on a scale doesn’t in itself make you lose weight, a recent study suggests that weighing yourself frequently just might. The study found that people who weighed themselves daily were more likely to lose weight than those who didn’t.

The researchers analysed data taken from 500 adults with an average age of 45. Over the nine month course of the study, the participants were supplied with digitally connected scales and asked to weigh themselves as they normally would. The Wi-Fi scales enabled their weight to be remotely monitored on a daily basis.

At the end of the study, the subjects who didn’t weight themselves at all, or did so infrequently, hadn’t lost  any weight. However, the ones who weighed themselves every day saw their their weight decrease by 2.1 percent. To explain this, it is thought that by closely monitoring their weight, people are more aware of how lifestyle choices, such as how much they exercise, how much they eat, etc, affects their weight.

In years gone by (and it wasn’t that long ago), food shortages were all too common. Even when it was available, very often it was of a low quality. However, because human beings were designed so they could adapt to lack of food and so were able to cope with it, they survived. Now fast forward to today where, in large parts of the world, particularly the western world, food is literally everywhere. The pressure on us to eat, eat, eat is relentless and, being what we are, is very difficult to ignore. This makes it essential for us to be aware of the consequences of the dietary choices we make. One very good way of doing this is to weigh ourselves daily – it focuses the mind and keeps us on top of the issue.

However, it has to be said that this constant monitoring of weight isn’t advisable for everyone. People who battle with their weight, and those who are over-conscious of their body image to the degree that it negatively affects their lives, should give daily weighing a definite miss. While most people can see the number on the scale rationally – just a piece of data; with some it can trigger an emotional response that can be the cause of depression, anxiety and other issues that include irrational behaviour. Two classic examples of the latter are binge eating and under-eating. People with these types of issues are well advised to weigh themselves no more than once a week.

Daily weighing is really only helpful to people who able to use the information they gain from it. By doing so, they are able to see clearly, and immediately, how the way they live their lives affects their weight. For example, alcohol intake, eating out, eating at night, exercise, sleep, etc, etc.

The Bottom Line
People need to be in a good mental place, free of phobias, neurosis and anxiety, before they make weighing themselves a daily habit. But if they are, it can be a very useful tool indeed, not just for losing weight but also improving their lifestyle in general.

Boost Metabolism – Part 2

Putting weight back on after a successful diet is a common problem. One of the reasons it happens is that the human body reacts to the loss of fat by slowing its metabolism – this results in it burning less calories than it would normally. Indeed, many people are unfortunate enough to regain more weight than they originally lost.

A prevailing theory states that all calories work in the same way. However, a recent study has shown that this is not necessarily so. Instead, it suggests that reducing our intake of carbohydrates can give a boost to our metabolism. This, in turn, makes the body burn more calories. If correct, this has implications for the many people who regain weight after a successful diet.

The study was done on 100 overweight people who had all recently dieted and lost approximately 15 percent of their body weight. These people were then split into two groups and put on either a low or high carbohydrate diet for 25 weeks. The calorie intake in both the groups was adjusted throughout the course of the study so that no-one gained or lost significant amounts of weight.

Over the period of the study, the energy expenditure of the participants, i.e. the calories they were burning, was measured accurately. The results showed that those on the low carbohydrate diet burned about 300 calories more per day than those on the high carbohydrate diet.

This was thought to be because the consumption of processed carbohydrates is known to cause high insulin levels. This makes the body store excess calories as fat, and also slows  its metabolic rate. These two factors cause an increase in weight.

However, by eating less of these refined carbohydrates, the body’s metabolism is increased with a corresponding increase in the amount of calories it burns. The more calories burned, the greater the amount of weight lost.

A third contributing factor was that people on the low carbohydrate diet had a much lower level of ghrelin, a hormone that reduces the rate at which calories are burned.

So, on the face of it, this seems like the way for successful dieters to avoid the frustration of seeing that all hard lost fat quickly piling back on.

However, the following should be noted:

  • It wasn’t just any low-carbohydrate diet. Rather, it was a very specific eating plan with the nutrient content calculated to the exact gram. Accordingly, a lot of  people who give this type of diet a try will probably not have the same level of success as they simply don’t know precisely what to include in it
  • The carbohydrates provided on the diet weren’t the usual highly processed ones typically found in the stores. They were all high quality foods that had undergone no, or minimum, amounts of refining. This is a critical point – the success of this diet is entirely dependant on eating the right type of carbohydrates, such as nuts, fruit and non-starchy vegetables. These will have the desired effect as they provide an adequate intake of phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber

The takeaway message from this is much the same as that from many of the articles on this site – successful weight-loss, and subsequent maintenance of that loss, is dependent to a very large degree on the avoidance of highly refined carbohydrates, i.e. the products of the processed food industry.

Boost Metabolism – Part 1

Basically, a person’s metabolism is their internal power plant – it keeps them alive and kicking. It operates at a speed that varies from individual to individual. People who have a slow metabolism usually eat more calories than they need and which their body stores as fat for when times are hard. Those with a fast metabolism, on the other hand, burn all the calories they consume and so are less likely to have a fatty body. This explains why some lucky people can eat whatever they like without gaining weight while others pile it on.

Let’s take a closer look at this issue of metabolism, explain why it varies between people, and see ways that you can speed up your own metabolism so as to burn more calories.

What Is Metabolism Precisely?
Metabolism is a term used to describe the combination of biochemical processes that our bodies employ to convert food into energy. The faster it runs, the more calories needed to maintain it at that speed and vice versa.  

The speed at which a person’s metabolism operates is known as their metabolic rate. Basically, it’s the amount of calories they burn in a set period of time.

Factors That Affect Metabolic Rate
There are a number of factors that affect our metabolic rate. These include how old we are, how much muscle we have, the size of our body, our environment, the amount of physical activity we do, and how much fat we carry on our body.
The older a person is, the slower their metabolic rate will be – this is the main reason that most people put on weight as they get older.

The more muscle this person has, i.e. their muscle mass, the higher their metabolic rate and so the more calories they burn. Similarly, the bigger their body, the more calories they need to fuel it. Everytime this person engages in physical activity of any type, their metabolic rate rises and they will burn more calories. If the person is exposed to cold, he/she has to burn more calories to stay warm – again, their metabolic rate is affected. 

Another factor, and a very important one, is the amount of body fat a person carries. Research shows that overweight people have faster metabolisms than people of normal weight. This is because the larger the body (whatever the reason), the more energy it needs to carry out basic bodily functions. 

Then there is genetics. This is not a factor in metabolic rate as such – it’s actually more of a base starting point – nature dictates our metabolic rate at birth. And, being genetically generated, it’s completely beyond our control. 

Metabolic adaptation
Metabolic adaptation (also known as starvation mode) is a crucial factor in the gaining and losing of weight. Put simply, it is the body’s response to lack of calories. When we don’t take in enough calories, our body compensates by reducing its metabolic rate and thus the amount of calories it needs for its basic functions.

The extent to which it does this varies considerably from individual to individual but is greater in people who are overweight. 

Methods of Increasing Metabolic Rate
As we have seen, losing weight involves more than simply reducing calorie intake. To do it with the maximum possible effectiveness requires a strategy, or strategies, that will boost the metabolism. 

Here are several ways of doing this:

  • Get eight hours of sleep – eight hours of deep, unbroken sleep is absolutely critical for good health. It gives the body a breathing space in which to recover from the travails of the day. Lack of it limits the body’s ability to repair and maintain itself. Part and parcel of this is metabolic rate – lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, causes it to drop. Quite apart from the negative effect this has on the body’s ability to renew itself overnight, it also results in less calories being burned which, of course, can lead to weight being put on

  • Activity – any body movement, no matter how slight, directly increases metabolic rate and thus the amount of calories burnt. The greater that activity, the greater the rise in the metabolic rate. Note that this doesn’t mean we have to be running marathons and working out in the gym every day. Just very basic activity, such as standing up regularly, walking, and doing things around the house makes a major difference in the long term. For example, just sitting rather than lying down can increase metabolic rate by 5 percent. If you fidget while you sit, your metabolic rate can increase by up to 50 percent

  • Aerobics – taking the above a step further leads us to aerobic exercise. This is a type of cardiovascular conditioning that is an extremely effective way of raising metabolic rate. Activities such as cycling, swimming, running, and even just a brisk daily walk are all ideal ways of raising metabolic rate significantly. A good target to aim for is three hours of aerobic activity every week

  • High-intensity workouts – one of the most effective types of exercise is high intensity interval training. This is a form of exercising that involves vigorous bursts of activity followed by periods of lesser activity. It gives our metabolism a significant boost – one that is still present for a considerable time after the exercise has ended

  • Weight exercises – there are any number of weight exercises that can be employed as a means of raising metabolic rate. Weight bearing exercises like push-ups and pull-ups are ideal, as is weight lifting with barbells and dumbbells. They both have the added bonus of increasing muscle mass which, in turn, leads to more calories being burned. Studies have shown that just 10 minutes a day doing weight exercises can raise a person’s resting metabolic rate by up to 10 percent. This results in approximately 150 extra calories being burned every day

  • Avoid crash dieting – many people attempt to lose weight as quickly as they can reasoning that the quicker they do it, they sooner they can get back to eating normally. However, this rarely works and the reason is that limiting calorie intake too much results in a significant drop in metabolic rate. As explained above, this is known as metabolic adaptation, or starvation mode, and is the way our bodies prevent starvation. A daily calorie intake of less than 1000 is known to cause a serious reduction in metabolic rate. Furthermore, this low rate can persist for a considerable period after the diet has been stopped. Not only is it not good for general health, it also makes regaining any weight lost as a result of the diet much more likely

  • Hydrate yourself – studies have shown conclusively that the simple act of drinking water gives a temporary boost to our metabolic rate. The medical term for it is ‘water-induced thermogenesis’. The effect is more pronounced when drinking cold water because in order to bring it up to body temperature, calories have to be burned. It is thought that around 15 ounces of cold water can raise metabolic rate by about 20 percent for a period of about an hour. So, if done on a daily basis, drinking cold water can result in a significant loss of weight in the long-term

  • Eat plenty of protein – protein is a macronutrient essential to the building of muscle mass. And, as we have already seen, the more muscle mass a person has, the higher their metabolic rate. It’s also a fact that while the consumption of all types of food raises metabolic rate, protein raises it far more – typically three times as much. Another effect of high protein consumption is that loss of muscle is minimized, as is the reduced metabolic rate commonly experienced when dieting

The Bottom Line
All human beings are born with a base metabolic rate that is determined by genetic factors. This puts it beyond our control. However, as we have shown in this article, there are a number of ways in which we can boost our metabolic rate. Just one reason for doing so, of course, is to help our bodies shed those unwanted stores of fat.

Yellowtooth Diet Plan

To understand the rationale behind the Yellowtooth Diet Plan, it is necessary to first take a look at the foods we have been eating over the years, why we have been eating them and what they have done to us. The story starts not that long ago – we’re only going back to the first half of the 1900’s. This was a volatile time in world history, what with the two world wars, the Russian civil war, the Afghan civil war and the Mexican revolution. There were plenty of lesser conflicts as well.

Food would have been scarce anyway because the methods used in agriculture and farming were basic and inefficient. The various wars made it even scarcer. However, although it may not have seemed so at the time, this was not necessarily a bad thing for some. With food limited, people who would perhaps have over-eaten and become overweight, or even obese, simply weren’t able to do so. As a result, the incidence of heart disease and strokes was low.

The end of the second world war saw things improve rapidly. Industry and farming became increasingly mechanized and, hence, efficient. Chemical pesticides and new types of fertilisers were developed which enabled farmers to vastly increase crop yields. Within a very short period, food shortages in the western world were a thing of the past.

The foods commonly eaten at this time were high in saturated animal fat – red meat, cheese, butter, full-fat milk, lard and cream. They were rich in nutrients and also nice to eat. However, food wasn’t the only thing that was plentiful – cardiovascular diseases were now as well.

In fact, by the late 1950’s, heart disease was pandemic in the USA and rapidly becoming so in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. In an attempt to discover why, government agencies were commissioned to investigate and find solutions. One of these studies – the Seven Countries Study – was conducted in 1958 by a scientist called Ancel Keys. This focused on the link between diet and cardiovascular disease in different countries. The study concluded that the countries where people ate the most saturated fat had the highest rates of heart disease – the connection seemed obvious.

However, for some reason, Keys ignored a number of contradictory facts. One was that in some of the countries, such as Holland and Norway, fat consumption was high but rates of heart disease were low. But in other countries, such as Chile, fat consumption was low but the rates of heart disease were high. Basically, Keys disregarded anything that didn’t support his theory.

However, the American Heart Association allowed itself to be convinced by Keys thus giving credence to the flawed study. Massive exposure in the media followed and, very quickly, the demonisation of saturated fat began. Suddenly, it was all ‘fat and cholesterol are bad for you’ and ‘carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains are good’. This was the beginning of the obesity epidemic currently sweeping around the globe.

If people had stuck to eating mostly fruit and vegetables there wouldn’t have been a problem. Not only is the carbohydrate content of both these food groups much less than that of grains, it is also digested by the body at a much lower rate thanks to their high fiber content. Unfortunately, they didn’t. Instead, they latched on to carbohydrate-rich grains. Most foods produced from wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc, go through an industrial process that removes virtually all their fiber, vitamins and minerals. While they provide energy in the form of calories, they offer very little in the way of nutrition – they are basically just empty calories.

The other problem with them is that they are quickly and easily digested by the body – often in as little as two hours – a process that should take between six and eight hours! Because the body turns carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), the result is a rapid increase in both blood sugar level and insulin. After an hour or two, the blood sugar level will drop back and, in so doing, stimulate the parts of the brain associated with reward and craving. These signals create a craving for more food and are a known cause of over-eating.

Now, if the person eating the carbohydrate is active to a sufficient enough degree, the body will use the glucose for fuel and simply burn it off. However, if not, the glucose won’t be used and the body will instead store it as fat for use in emergencies such as famine – just what nature has programmed it to do.

Now, couple the above with the following:

Firstly, people lead sedentary lifestyles these days. Indeed, they spend most of their time sitting down. They sit in their offices at work, they sit in buses, cars and trains, they sit at the movies, they sit on the beach and they spend their evenings sitting in front of the TV. Much of the time they’re doing this sitting, they are eating and drinking and, therefore, taking in shed-loads of calories that their bodies simply don’t need. The inevitable consequence is that they put on weight.

Secondly, it is a fact that many of the most popular foods and drinks on the planet consist mainly of carbohydrates, i.e. bread, cakes, rice, biscuits, pasta, pizzas, pastries, fruit drinks, sports drinks, etc. These are all naturally very high in calories, a fact that is compounded by the food manufacturers adding large amounts of refined sugar to make them more palatable. This makes these already fattening foods even more fattening.

Thirdly, regardless of what they are consuming, people these days are simply consuming far too much of it. It’s understandable enough as eating and drinking are activities that we all enjoy; many of us however, are overdoing it. Another factor in this is the ready availability of food these days – if you have the money, you can have as much of it as you want, when you want.

The way we live our lives has had an effect as well. Years ago, eating was largely restricted to set mealtimes of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, with the instant availability of processed foods, people snack at all hours of the day and night, as well as eating at mealtimes.

This last point takes us back to the processed food industry, which is so vast these days that it basically rules the world. As a result, their high-carbohydrate foods are everywhere – restaurants, supermarkets, stores, bus stations, airports – you name it and processed food will be there. It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that many people just don’t bother cooking any more. As we have shown here, the processed food industry is also extremely dishonest and packs its products with vast amounts of sugar, the presence of which it tries to conceal with sneaky product labeling. Because of this, many people are completely unaware of the horrifically high calorific content of the foods they are consuming.

And so to the situation as it is today. Since the 1980’s, the number of overweight and obese adults in the developed world has quadrupled to around one billion. One in three adults is overweight. In western countries, such as the USA and the UK, the situation is even worse as two-thirds of adults are overweight. Of these, one in three is considered to be obese and one in twenty is considered to be extremely obese. With regard to children and adolescents, the situation is not much better.

These people all have a much higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, which are now the leading causes of premature death in the world. They are also much more likely to get type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and osteoarthritis, not to mention cancers such as breast, colon, endometrial and kidney.

As we have pointed out, there are several factors at play here, such as sedentary lifestyles and the over-abundance of food. However, the main one is the fact that refined carbohydrates are a highly fattening food and, of these, the worst is sugar. Therefore, the Yellowtooth Diet Plan is based on eating foods that either don’t contain any carbohydrates or are very low in them. Merely cutting out sugar in its most obvious forms is not enough.

You need to remember that your body converts all the carbohydrates you eat to sugar in the form of glucose – so, those carbs have to go! While the plan eliminates a lot of the foods people have become accustomed to over the years, and will therefore miss enormously at the beginning of it, the hard fact remains that these foods are basically empty calories that provide little or no nutrition. They are also the foods that make people put on weight – that’s the bottom line!

What the diet does permit is a range of more natural foods that provide all the nutrients needed to fuel the body and keep it operating at it’s maximum capacity. At the same time, the vastly reduced intake of carbohydrates means it is not constantly making the glucose sugar that invariably leads to the creation of body fat. Not only will it make you feel younger, it may even make you look younger!

The foods we are talking about here are non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, nuts and seeds, fish, meat, eggs, spices, herbs, full-fat dairy products and some types of vegetable oil. With the exception of the vegetables, herbs, fruits and spices, they all contain high amounts of healthy fats.

To people raised on the old belief that eating fat makes you fat, this may make the diet sound contradictory but it’s not. All the evidence now actually indicates the opposite – eating fat is good for you (and not fattening) as long as you eat the right type and in the right quantities.

The diet is also adaptable – it can be tweaked to suit your requirements. If it’s rapid weight loss you want, the diet in its most extreme form will deliver weight loss in the region of half a pound a day. Combine it with intermittent fasting and you will lose even more.

At the other end of the scale, for those of you who are already at the right weight and just want to eat a healthy diet as a lifestyle choice, the Yellowtooth Diet Plan can, again, be the one to follow. In this case, instead of virtually no carbohydrates, it’s quite possible to introduce a limited range of them. Remember, there are many carbohydrate-rich foods that are actually good for you. These include fruits, legumes such as lentils, beans and peas, and whole grains, such as oats, quinoa and brown rice.

Not only do these foods increase the options available to you, and so make the diet more varied and easier to persevere with, they provide a vital nutritional resource – fiber. You can even eat some carbohydrates that aren’t particularly good for you; bread being a typical example.

The big no-no on the Yellowtooth Diet Plan is processed food. Basically, anything that comes in a box, packet or tin is processed to one degree or another. The nutritional value of this type of food is usually very poor. Plus, of course, it is invariably packed with carbs and hence calories.

Losing Weight With The Yellowtooth Diet Plan
We have looked at the most popular diet plans and while they all have their pros and cons, none of them in our opinion are as good as they could be. For example, the Atkins and Ducan diets that restrict fiber intake in the early stages to a level that’s low enough to be potentially dangerous.

A lot of them try to make you lose weight at a rate that is not good for you. To achieve this, these diets are extreme – in some cases, they forbid entire classes of food. So not only can they actually be bad for you, they can also be difficult to persevere with. The Yellowtooth Diet Plan is different in a number of ways.

Firstly, and unlike other diets, it is healthy and includes all the nutrients your body needs in order to keep firing on all cylinders. This is in stark contrast to some that actually do the opposite!

Secondly, while not designed to be a weight-loss diet as such, it is a fact that overweight people who follow it will lose weight as sure as night follows day. However, unlike with most other diets, the weight loss will be slow, steady, easily sustainable and, ultimately, much healthier.

Please note that the Yellowtooth Diet Plan is just part of what you need to do to get your body as fit and healthy as possible. The other part is exercise and this is every bit as important as the foods you eat and don’t eat. That’s another story though.

So, let’s take a look at the foods you can and cannot eat on this plan.

White meat such as chicken is the favored option as it contains less calories than red meat. This is due to its lower fat content. If you prefer red meat though, you need to choose carefully. Go for leaner cuts and trim off as much of the fat as you can.

Of the red meats, beef is the highest in calories with pork and lamb having slightly less. The red meat with the least amount of calories is game animals, such as deer, elk, rabbits, etc.

As regards processed meat, this must be given a wide berth – the processing leaves all types high in calories. The worst are the sausages, such as salami, hot dogs, bologna and chipolata. Not only are they padded-out with highly fattening starches, they contain unhealthy additives.

Nutrition-wise, there is little to choose between red/white meat and seafood. However, seafood has the edge with regard to it’s fat content which is much less. As low fat means low calories, this makes seafood an extremely good option for the dieter. There are many different types though – which ones do you go for? Unsurprisingly, the answer is the species with the least fat content – namely, cod, flounder, sole, hake, haddock, pollock and shellfish.

The species with the highest amount of fat, and so the highest calories, are the oily fish like herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon.

Note that with most fish species, the color of the flesh is an indication of their fat content. The leanest species have a white or light color and the fattier species usually have a darker color.

Luckily, the low-calorie fish also happen to be the ones least affected by mercury and other sea contaminants.

Dairy Produce
Let’s start with milk. The skimmed type, from which all the cream has been removed, is the lowest in calories. It is, however, tasteless – little more than water. If you can stomach the stuff, fine; if not, the next best option and the one we recommend, is low-fat milk. While it may have more calories, it does at least have some flavor and nutritional content. Whole and raw milk should be avoided when on a weight-loss diet.

Moving on to cheese, this is in general a high calorie food that is not the best thing to be eating when trying to lose weight. With this in mind, you may be tempted by the low-fat cheeses on the supermarket shelves. Take our advice and give these a miss. Virtually all foods labeled as ‘low-fat’ are the processed food industry’s attempt to cash in on the current trend for healthy eating. While foods given this label may indeed be low in fat, don’t think for a minute they will also be low in calories – they won’t!

However, one cheese in particular is naturally low in calories and so can be incorporated into a weight-loss diet. This is cottage cheese which has only 98 calories per 100g. At the other end of the scale are the hard cheeses such as cheddar and monterey jack – these contain over 400 calories per 100gm and are definitely to be avoided.

The situation with butter is largely the same as with cheese. It is simply too high in calories to be part of a weight-loss diet. There are products marketed as low-fat butter but these are usually spreads made with vegetable oils and margarine. As with low-fat cheeses, steer well clear.

Another very popular dairy food is yoghurt. Is it ok in a weight-loss diet though? Well, there’s no question that the fruit yoghurts are high in calories, typically in the region of 250 calories per carton. Plain yoghurts on the other hand, of which Greek is an example, only have about 150 calories in a carton – much better. Once again, give the low-fat versions a miss – many of these contain alarming amounts of sugar.

Nuts are extremely nutritious and offer vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. They  also have a lot of fat though, which gives them a high calorie count. On the face of it, this would seem to make them one of the last things to include in a weight-loss diet. However, this isn’t the case. There’s plenty of evidence to show that dieters who eat a small quantity of nuts are more likely to stick to their diets. This is because the fat and fiber content of the nuts is extremely satiating and, as a result, they are not as hungry and, ultimately, eat less.

The key to it is portion control. All you need to eat is about one ounce of nuts per day – this equates to just one handful. With almonds, brazils, cashews, pistachios and walnuts, this will be about 170 calories. Peanuts have the lowest calories – 150, while pecans and macadamias are the highest at about 200 calories.

Vegetables are the dieter’s best friend. Very low in calories so you can eat as much of them as you like and, at the same time, high in satiating fiber. Really, what more could you ask for?

First on your diet plan should be leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. They are incredibly nutritious and very high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Next are the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. You should also eat peppers – hot peppers like chilli particularly. They contain a substance called capsaicin which has been shown to help reduce appetite and increase the body’s ability to burn fat.

The vegetables you don’t want be eating are the root varieties – carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc. These contain more starch and so are higher in calories.

Fruits of all types are very good for us. They do, however, have an inherent problem – they all contain sugar to one degree or another. Some have a lot more than others and so can be quite high in calories. The key to including fruit in a diet plan, therefore, is knowing which types to avoid.

In the list of fruits below, the figures given are the calorie content in 100 grams of fruit.

The fruits with the lowest calorie count are:

  • rhubarb 21
  • strawberries 33
  • honeydew melon 36
  • peaches 39
  • blackberries 43
  • nectarines 44
  • cranberries 46
  • oranges 47

Fruits with a medium calorie count are:

  • apricots 48
  • cherries 50
  • pineapples 50
  • apples 52
  • raspberries 53
  • tangerines 53
  • pears 57
  • blueberries 57

Fruits with a high calorie count are:

  • mangoes 60
  • kiwifruit 61
  • grapes 67
  • guavas 68
  • bananas 89
  • figs 107
  • dates 280

Be aware that dried fruits like raisins, sultanas, prunes, figs and dates have the highest sugar count of all. They most definitely should not be part of a weight-loss diet.

The nutrients in fruit are simply too good to miss out on, even when dieting. Accordingly, we recommend that the low calorie fruits should be part of your diet. The relatively small amount of sugar they contain is nothing to worry about.

Foods made from refined carbs are simply not worth eating – all the nutrients have been stripped out, they’re starchy, full of sugar, and additives are needed to make them palatable. However, this doesn’t apply to carbohydrates left in their natural state. The main thing these offer to the dieter is fiber. As with the fiber in nuts and vegetables, this is filling and so acts as a powerful appetite suppressant. Accordingly, diets that include them are easier to adhere to.

It is a fact that fruits, vegetables and nuts all contain carbohydrates, and a diet rich in these foods will provide everything you need in this respect. However, you may have reasons of your own for limiting your consumption of them or, indeed, not wanting to eat them at all. If this is the case, there are several carb-rich foods that will be the perfect substitute. The ones we’re talking about are legumes (lentils, beans and peas), whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Another good reason for including them in your diet is to add variety. Just remember they are quite starchy and so should be consumed in small amounts.

With regard to what you can drink on a weight loss diet, there’s only one contender really and that’s water – lots of it. It’s absolutely the best thing you can drink. The worst are soda drinks, juice drinks, sports & energy drinks and alcohol. Very few people, though, are going to stick rigidly to water and nothing else. Nor is there any need to.

Smoothies, which we look at here, provide a very good alternative. Just remember to leave out ingredients high in calories.

The most popular drink in the world next to water is tea. When flavorings and additives are added, such as sugar, milk, herb extracts, oils, etc, it’s calorific content goes up. Taken by itself, however, it is virtually calorie-free and can be drunk in any amount. In this form, it should be part of any diet.

Vegetable juices are another good option. These require a juicing machine as we describe here. Just don’t over-do it – too much of a concentrated dose of vegetable nutrients isn’t recommended.

Currently, coconut water is very popular. This is the clear liquid found inside a green coconut. It’s a healthy drink that has plenty of nutrients. It is also relatively low in calories so can be taken in reasonable quantities. Just remember not to confuse it with coconut milk. Higher in fat and calories, a cup of coconut milk is about 550 calories compared to about 50 calories in a cup of coconut water.

The fruit drinks and squashes available in the stores all have an extremely high sugar content and so have no place in any diet. However, there’s no reason dieters can’t make their own – it’s just fruit squeezed into water after all. By doing so, they can adjust the amount of fruit and, hence sugar, it contains.

Lastly, there is alcohol. There’s no question it shouldn’t be drunk at all, never mind on a diet. However, it is a fact that many people can’t get through life without it. So, for these people, the best options are light beers, wine (both red and white) and neat spirits. Give all alcoholic drinks that contain mixers a miss – this is where most of the calories come from. Sweetened drinks like cider are strictly taboo as well. Never, ever, go near the frozen alcoholic drinks you see in the supermarkets – these are liquid sugar!

Be aware that the calories in alcoholic drinks are not just down to the sugar they contain – their carbohydrate content is also a factor. Beer is a good example of this – virtually no sugar but, thanks to the carbohydrate content, quite high in calories.

Dieting Myths

There is absolutely no doubt that a calorie-controlled diet is the best way to lose weight successfully. More than that though, it has the potential to minimize the chances of getting serious diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. With this in mind, many people embark on diet plans of various types but, unfortunately, very often fail to achieve their target.

The same goes for those attempting to improve their wellbeing by eating healthy food. One of the main problems here is the numerous myths and misconceptions spread on the Internet and social media. These lead many people to make bad decisions that can negate their efforts or even make things worse.

Lets take a look at the most common of these misconceptions:

There is no such thing as starvation mode
Starvation mode is when a person cuts back severely on their calorie intake. The body responds by switching into ‘starvation mode’ by lowering its metabolic rate. This enables it to conserve its stores of fat, and so the person finds it difficult to lose weight.

However, a current theory rapidly gaining ground states that this is a fallacy – there is no such thing as starvation mode. Well, be advised that this theory is not correct- starvation mode does exist and there have been numerous studies to prove it.

What we will say is that starvation mode is not quite as drastic as some people would have us believe. It does restrict weight loss to a degree but not by much. In any case, as long as the person persists with their diet, starvation mode or no, they will eventually lose weight.

Don’t weigh yourself too often
This myth states that it is counter-productive to weigh yourself frequently as doing so causes an unhealthy fixation. This is complete rubbish.
Humans simply aren’t designed to live in an environment where high calorie foods are readily available. However, in large parts of the world, particularly the western world, we are rarely far from a food outlet.

To be able to cope with such an environment – one that promotes unnecessary eating, we really have to be conscious about the choices we make. One way of doing this is by weighing ourselves frequently, if not daily – it focusses the mind. Studies have demonstrated quite clearly that people who weigh themselves several times a week weigh less than those who don’t.

It is essential to eat regularly
The thinking behind this claim is that irregular eating causes a person’s blood sugar to drop to possibly dangerous levels.
While this is true to an extent, the fact is that drops in blood sugar levels due to eating less are minor and perfectly safe. More important is the fact that eating less forces the body to burn fat – the whole object of the exercise!

Eat frequent small meals
Supposedly, eating small amounts of food at regular intervals throughout the day, instead of two or three normal size meals, will cause a person’s metabolic rate to rise. As a result, they burn more calories and so lose weight.
This doesn’t work in practice though. Studies have shown that people who eat two meals daily actually lose more weight that those who eat the same number of calories but in smaller, more frequent meals. One reason for this is that the people eating two large meals are more satiated and so simply don’t feel as hungry.

Exercise boosts weight loss
It’s a nice theory and is true to an extent. After all, exercising burns calories and so must result in loss of fat. There are two problems with it though.
The first is that it takes an extreme amount of exercise to lose a significant amount of weight. For example, to lose a pound of fat will require a person to run for some 40 miles or so (this does vary by how much a person is overweight).

Most people overestimate with the result that they actually lose nothing of any significance. The second is that exercise is hard work. And human nature is such that people like to reward themselves for doing hard work – a favorite way of which is to eat something nice. What happens all too often is that the treat contains more calories than was burned doing the exercise. Instead of losing weight, they actually put it on. While exercise does provide many benefits, significant loss of weight is not likely to be one of them unless taken to extremes.

Losing weight slowly is better than losing it rapidly
A lot of experts consider it is better to lose weight slowly. They think that doing so makes it less likely that any weight lost will be regained when the diet comes to an end.
This is indeed true but the trouble is, the weight must first be lost. And it is a proven fact that people who try to lose weight gradually are less likely to succeed than those who do it rapidly. 

The science, if it can be called that, is simple. Most people need to see tangible results when they are doing something they don’t enjoy, If they don’t, they soon give up. Therefore, someone who sheds the pounds rapidly is going to be more motivated, and thus more likely to persist. Having said that, it is also a fact that this same crash dieter is more likely to put the weight back on when he/she stops dieting.

This is because the appeal of food after having been virtually starved of it is much greater. Binge eating is often the result of crash dieting. Basically, then it’s all down to the individual with regard to doing it fast or slowly. If you are the type who can stick to something and not lose heart if you don’t get instant results, then slow is better. If not, fast is better (just try and take it easy when you start eating again).

Low-fat foods are good for you
For a long time now, the mantra has been that people concerned about their weight, or eating for a healthy heart, should eat low-fat foods. As a result, sales of high-fat foods, such as dairy produce have dropped.
To counter this, the manufacturers have removed much of the saturated fat from their products in an attempt to make them seem healthier.

However, they have chosen to replace the saturated fat with hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans-fats.  Furthermore, in order to make this supposedly low-fat food palatable (most of a food’s flavor is in the saturated fat), they have also had to add large amounts of sugar. So, containing very unhealthy trans-fats, refined carbs and sugar, as they do, these ‘low in saturated fat’ foods, rather than being good for us, can actually be positively harmful.

Lose weight by eating a large breakfast
This is another very common myth. The theory behind it is that by eating a hearty breakfast, we don’t get hungry or, at any rate, so hungry later on in the day. So we eat less overall and thus lose weight.
However, studies have shown that whether we eat a large breakfast or not makes absolutely no difference to the amount of weight we lose when dieting.

Don’t eat snacks
It all depends on the snack! If it’s chocolate, biscuits, candy, cakes etc, then yes, snacking should be avoided. If, however, the snack is something healthy, low in calories and high in fiber, then snack away.
Doing so will also help to suppress those feelings of hunger thus making it less likely that you will overdo it when you do eat something. Healthy snacks include salad vegetables, fruit and low-fat yoghurt.

Carbohydrates are fattening
It’s calories that count and, gram for gram, unadulterated carbohydrate has less than half the calories of fat and so isn’t particularly fattening. However, the same cannot be said of the carbohydrate-rich foods churned out by the processed food industry.

These are almost always unnaturally high in calories because of the fillings and toppings commonly added to them – such as creamy sauces on pasta, and butter or cheese on bread, baked potatoes, etc. Some carbohydrate foods, especially wholegrain versions, are rich in fiber which help to keep hunger at bay. For example, wholegrain pasta is more filling than white pasta and will keep you satisfied for longer.

Treats are a no-no
Depriving ourselves of all the foods we enjoy rarely works. Human nature being what is is, most of us will eventually give in to temptation. And when we do, we usually eat far more of the treat than we would otherwise have done.