What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is the name given to the process by which all living creatures absorb compounds essential for life. These compounds are known as nutrients and include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. With them, we can generate the energy we need to function, regulate and repair ourselves.

However, for optimum health, our bodies need other things as well, one of the most important of which is fiber. This is found only in plants – meat and fish do not contain any. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet and helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers. It also improves digestive health.

Another essential element is calcium – a compound used to build and maintain bones. However, a nutritious diet is just one factor in achieving good health. It’s also important that the energy created by nutrition, i.e. calories, is actually used, i.e. we exercise. If it isn’t, two things happen:

The first is that we gain weight. This is due to the fact that our bodies store energy as fat in the anticipation that it may be needed at some other time – essentially, it’s a backup. Exactly the same thing happens if we eat too much – the body has more energy than it can use and rather than just throw it away, it stores it in the form of fat for a rainy day. Do this too often, as so many people do these days, and weight gain will be the inevitable result.

The second is that we become weak. This is because our bodies are controlled by muscles and without them we can do absolutely nothing. The more we use these muscles, the stronger and more efficient they become. This leads to increased physical strength, endurance and stamina. Our organs are controlled by muscles as well. For example, cardiac muscle in the heart is responsible for pumping blood around the body. The stronger all these muscles are, the greater the overall health of the body.

However, if we don’t exercise to use the energy, the opposite happens. Our muscles become weak and so we are able to do less physically – everything becomes an effort. More dangerous, however, is the effect on our vital organs, i.e. the heart, lungs, liver and the kidneys. Weak, under-used muscles in any of these results in reduced functionality that makes us feel unwell, restricts our ability to do basic things and, ultimately, are the cause of illness, disease and, all too often, premature death.

Our diets can also be affected by factors such as genetics, our environment, age and culture. Many people have to take these into account when deciding what they can and cannot eat. For example, there may be a family history of heart disease, or risk factors such as high blood pressure, that rule certain foods out. Young and active people need more food than older or less active ones. Also, people who are trying to lose weight can find it difficult to get the nutrients they need due to their necessarily restricted diet.

The information on this site shows how to ensure you have a healthy, balanced diet that will keep your body firing on all cylinders. This will, without doubt, be the single most effective thing you can do, to not just feel good but also vastly reduce the likelihood of getting dangerous conditions and diseases. The ones we are talking about are cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Currently, these are all rife, particularly in the western hemisphere, and ruin millions of lives every year. Much of it is preventable and a healthy diet is the starting point.

Some pertinent quotes:

“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food” – Hippocrates

“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” – Arabian Proverb 

Nutrition Myths

Nutritional research has come a long way in the last few years. Despite this, however, a lot of people still give credence to outdated theories and ideas. For example, that fat is bad for you, eating eggs raises cholesterol and that gluten should be avoided.

Many of these have come about due to simple misconceptions. Others are due to a deliberate policy of misinformation by food manufacturers. Then there’s the Internet – the first port of call for many people when they decide to alter their diet. Unfortunately, a lot of what they read here is pure myth.

So we’ll take a look at the most common of these theories and see what’s true and what’s not. In no particular order, we have:

Fresh fruit & vegetables are healthier than frozen
Not necessarily – fresh fruit and vegetables can be less healthy. This is because of a process known as respiration, whereby all fruits and vegetables continue to breathe after being harvested. This breaks down their fat, carbohydrate and protein content, which leads to loss of both flavor and nutrients. It also causes their sugar levels to rise.

However, when they are frozen, the respiration process stops and the sugar and nutrients are preserved at the existing level – sugar low, nutrients high. So, if they are eaten immediately after having been harvested, they are definitely healthier. However, the longer they are left before being eaten, the less healthier they become. In this case, freezing them is the healthier option.

Gluten-free diets are healthier
No, they’re not. Assuming you don’t have an intolerance to gluten, or have Coeliac disease, there is absolutely no reason to remove gluten from your diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, which means it’s in many carbohydrate-based foods such as biscuits, pies, cakes and pastries. These are all foods we shouldn’t be eating anyway, but the presence of gluten is not the reason.

Saturated fat is bad for you
Most health authorities are still making this claim with regard to heart disease. However, recent studies have demonstrated that it’s not true at all. In fact, not only is saturated fat actually good for us, it is absolutely essential. Consider this simple fact – human breast milk is 54 percent saturated fat. Would nature give babies saturated fat if it was bad for them? It is only bad when eaten in excessive quantities – something that applies to all foods!

The studies show that it’s actually the trans-fats made from vegetable oils, excessive carbohydrate intake, and sedentary lifestyles – all of which cause obesity and high blood pressure – that are really behind the heart disease epidemic.

Egg yolks are bad for you
Eggs have been castigated for years because of the high level of cholesterol and saturated fat in the yolks. However, what the health agencies who propagate this nonsense don’t tell you (or perhaps aren’t even aware of) is that cholesterol is extremely beneficial to our health.

So much so, in fact, the liver actually makes it as very few people get enough through their diet. The more cholesterol we eat, the less has to be made by the liver, and vice versa. In other words, the body always keeps its cholesterol level in balance.

A very large recent study found no association between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke. Other, earlier, studies have reached the same conclusion. Quite clearly, the cholesterol and saturated fat content of eggs isn’t an issue.

Carbohydrates are bad for us
This one has been around for a while now and is due to the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins. The ‘carbs are bad’ theory from Dr Atkins and co has led to many people being confused about this foodstuff and its role in our health.

The answer is yes and no. It all depends on the type, quality and quantity of carbohydrate being eaten. Carbohydrates that are highly processed, such as those used in biscuits, cereals, breads, cakes, pasta, crackers and so on, have had most, if not all, of the nutrients refined out of them. These foods also have a very high sugar content, which is bad for people as it makes them put on excessive amounts of weight with the all attendant health issues this brings.

The carbohydrates that are good for us are the ones that have either not been processed at all, or just minimally. These do contain nutrients and include all vegetables (particularly root), fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Salt is bad for us
Not only is salt supposed to be bad for us in general, it can also contribute to cardiovascular disease apparently. However, years of scientific research has failed to show any evidence of this.

Salt is actually an essential nutrient – we simply cannot live without it. A diet too low in salt can cause a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia – when the level of sodium in the blood is abnormally low.

There are two types of salt – natural salt as found in lakes and the seas, and table salt – highly processed and so far less healthy. The latter is created by super-heating natural salt, the act of which destroys virtually all its nutrients. The salt is then bleached and cleaned with a chemical solution to make it pure white. Finally, compounds, such as moisture absorbents and anti-caking agents, are added to make it easy to sprinkle and pour.

While refined table salt in sensible quantities won’t cause a stroke or heart attack, neither does it do us any good due to its lack of nutrients. Natural salt, however, is very good for us.

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie
It’s not, far from it actually. The body stores and uses calories in various ways that are dependant on the nutrients in the food. As an example, lets compare eating oats and eating fish. Oats contain a type of starch known as ‘resistant starch’, which is resistant to digestion. Fish, however, doesn’t. As a result, the body is unable to absorb and use as many calories from the oats as it can from the fish.

It’s a similar story with high-protein foods like poultry. Protein is a high-thermogenic food which requires an expenditure of energy to digest, absorb and transport its nutrients to the body’s cells. Carbohydrates and fats, on the other hand, are low-thermogenic foods that don’t require energy to be used.

Everything else being equal, calories from fats and carbohydrates will make you gain more weight than an equivalent amount of calories from protein.

Brown bread is better than white bread
This one actually is not a myth, assuming you can find some that is actually made with whole grain! Unfortunately, much of the brown bread sold is simply white bread that has been colored with caramel or molasses to give the appearance of a brown loaf. Nutritionally, it will be no better.

To ensure you don’t fall for this con, check the loaf’s packaging for the words ‘whole grain’ or ‘100% whole wheat’. Also, the first ingredient listed should be a grain of some type, i.e. oats wheat, rye, barley, etc. If it is, you have the genuine article and it will indeed be healthier.

Dairy produce is unhealthy
Another myth perpetuated by the ‘saturated fat is bad for you’ brigade. Dairy products, such as cheese and butter, do contain high levels of saturated fat but it has now been established that they contain a type called omega-3 that is actually very good for us.

Their fat content apart, dairy products are also full of essential nutrients, such as protein, zinc, B vitamins and calcium. Furthermore, weight-loss diets that include dairy produce have been shown to be more effective than diets that omit them.

Organic produce is more nutritious
This one is true but only to a degree. The fact is, the nutritional difference between organically grown and conventionally grown produce is not that great. For most people, it is not enough to justify the expense of organic food. That said, for people who take their health seriously, it is, although maybe only just.

Another consideration is that organic food is much less likely to be polluted with pesticides and so may be worth the extra expense for this reason alone.

We need to drink eight glasses of water a day
Eight glasses is a lot of water and, together with our water intake from the food we eat and other liquids, is far more than the average person needs. When we need water, our bodies will tell us – we’ll suddenly be thirsty. It’s as simple as that.

This is a myth propagated by the bottled water industry. When you read this claim, you’re reading a marketing stratagem – take no notice.

Eating at night makes us put on weight
Eating at night has long been associated with weight gain. However, this is complete rubbish. What makes us put on weight is eating more calories than we actually use.

It doesn’t matter what time of day we eat. It is what and how much we eat, and how much physical activity we do during the day, that determines whether we gain, lose or maintain weight.

Red wine is good for us
There is no question about this – red wine is indeed good for us as it has a high content of antioxidants, such as resveratrol. These fight free radicals (rogue cells that can cause enormous damage) and so reduce the risk of conditions like cancer and heart disease. What’s not to like then?

Well, maybe the fact that red wine is, like all alcohol, actually a neurotoxin – a poison. It may be that the benefits of drinking small amounts (one small glass daily is the suggested limit) outweigh the poisonous effects on the brain. On the other hand, they may not!

As these benefits can also be had by simply eating less and exercising more, why take the risk? If the thought of not drinking alcohol at all bothers you, remember why you’re reading this article!

Eat many small meals throughout the day
The theory behind this claim is that by eating more frequently than normal but eating less when we do, our metabolism will remain high. This stops us getting hungry, and also controls our blood sugar level. As a result, we eat less overall and so lose weight.

It’s a nice theory but unfortunately it doesn’t work in practice. It might raise our metabolism slightly but it’s the amount of food eaten that controls hunger levels, not the number of meals. In fact, research has shown that eating many small meals a day actually makes people want to eat more – not less.

It should also be pointed out that it is unnatural for our bodies to be constantly in the fed state. In years gone by, it was the norm to go without food for long periods of time, i.e. fast. Research has shown that this is actually good for us.

Low-fat foods are healthy
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 appear 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 unhealthy trans-fats, refined carbohydrates and sugar as they do, these ‘low in saturated fat’ foods can actually be harmful for us rather than good.

Omega-6 fat is bad for us
Omega-6 fat is a polyunsaturated fat – one of a number of fatty acids found in certain foods and virtually all vegetable oils.

As to whether it is bad for you, the answer is both yes and no. Omega-6 fat actually provides a range of  benefits which include keeping blood pressure low, reducing the risk of heart disease, fighting inflammation, stimulating skin and hair growth, maintaining bone health and many others. It is, in fact, essential for good health.

The problems come when it is taken in excess, as it is in most western countries due to it’s prevalence in processed foods. All of a sudden, a fat that can be really good for us becomes the instigator of a number of health issues. These include heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and many more.

The polyunsaturated fat most people should be eating a lot more of is omega-3. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is 1:4, but in the typical western diet it is between 1:20 and 1:50. To achieve this ratio, people need to reduce their consumption of grain-based processed foods and eat more fish, nuts and seeds, all of which are high in omega-3 fats.

Vegetarian diets are healthier
A vegetarian (vegan) diet consists of nothing but plants and foods made from plants. Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from animals. The problem with this is that human beings are omnivores – we are designed to function at our best when eating plants and meat. A lot of important nutrients are omitted in a vegetarian diet. Vitamin B12 is one example – others are protein, vitamin D, iron, zinc and calcium.

There are no studies that show a vegan diet to be healthier than diets that include meat. If a person on a vegan diet is healthy, it’s more likely to be because they are health-conscious generally, i.e. they exercise, don’t smoke or drink, etc. Not eating meat has nothing to do with it.

The lack of animal nutrients (vitamin B12 and protein in particular) actually makes the vegan diet less healthy. For children, it can be positively dangerous.

Sugar should be avoided
Another word for sugar is energy. And as we all need energy to function, it follows that it can’t be bad for us. And indeed, in small amounts, it isn’t. Sugar only becomes a problem when we eat too much of it – as most of us do! This is because our livers can only process a small amount, currently thought to be about six teaspoons a day. Any more is converted into fat.

The problem is exacerbated when we eat refined sugar, such as white table sugar. With nothing to slow its absorption, the liver can be overwhelmed.

When we eat sugar in its natural form – in a piece of fruit for example – we are also eating fiber, minerals and vitamins – these reduce the rate at which the sugar is absorbed in the body, and so ease the load on the liver. Plus, the fiber is satiating and so stops us eating too much of the fruit and, hence, sugar.

A related issue is that sugar can be addictive. A large dose of refined sugar gives an instant high, which is soon followed by a low – this creates an urge to eat more sugar. Do it too many times and you can end up being addicted to the stuff.

So remember, as long as you restrict your intake to no more than about six teaspoons a day, eating sugar – be it natural or refined – won’t cause you any problems.

Bottom Line
People should not rely on unregulated sources, such as gossip, the Internet and social media, when making important decisions on what, and what not, to eat. They can end up doing themselves more harm than good. Making sure we eat the right foods is far too important to be left to chance in this way.

If in any doubt, consult a healthcare professional. Leave the guesswork and assumptions to those gullible enough to listen to them.

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.

Meat
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.

Seafood
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
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
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.

Fruit
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.

Carbohydrates
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.

Liquids
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.