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.

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.

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.