There’s always some new diet fad or healthy eating craze being promoted to us. But with so much advice from gurus and experts, it can be baffling to know what guidance to follow.
Here we take a look at some of the so-called ‘rules’ you should actually ignore.
Fill up on fruit
Recently, fruit has been in the firing line for its containment of a natural sugar called fructose. Fructose in large quantities is certainly bad for you, as in order for it to be digested, the liver turns it into fat. This can contribute to the risk of a number of health problems such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
However, a portion of fruit is not loaded with fructose, but it is loaded with vitamins and fibre which are good for you and leave you feeling fuller for longer. In order to dangerously overload on fructose, you would have to eat an enormous amount of fruit which is quite impossible to do.
When it comes to sugar content, fruit juices are actually worse. One 200ml glass of orange juice is typically made out of ten oranges. As a portion, or a so-called ‘one of your five a day’, this is an overdose of concentrated sugar. Therefore, drinking excessive amounts of fruit juice is bad for you.
Fruit juice and dried fruit is also bad for your teeth. The acids attack the teeth and in large quantities can cause long-term dental problems.
The fructose found in fruit is in small quantities. It’s actually the amounts found in the ‘added’ sugar of our diets that is far more dangerous.
So go ahead and have an apple a day, just don’t drink apple juice and eat dried fruit every day as well!
Choose sweeteners instead of sugar
Sweeteners, unlike fructose or sucrose, are artificial sugars, manufactured to have little to zero calories. Normally seen as a ‘healthy’ alternative to sugar, research has now shown that sweeteners can actually cause weight gain rather than help keep the pounds off.
The body and brain expects there to be calories with sugar, so when sweeteners are used and no calories are found, the body’s satisfaction gauge is confused. How many times have you eaten a low-fat yogurt, only to be craving some chocolate ten minutes later?
Artificial sugars are said to actually be sweeter than natural sugar, resulting in an even bigger tooth for sweet things. In order to satisfy this sugary craving, people then eat more calorific foods meaning they gain weight.
In addition to messing up our body’s satisfaction levels, research into artificial sugar has also found it to be addictive. And it’s pretty simple – the more you eat of anything, the higher the risk of weight gain.
Instead of using sugar or artificial sweetener to curb your sweet tooth, try and add a small amount of natural honey or agave nectar to sweeten hot drinks, baking or dishes.
Iron out red meat
There have recently been lots of scare stories around red meat and its links to cancer and heart disease, much of it is still being disputed and proved.
You should remember that red meat is a great source of iron, although it isn’t the only source. Dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruits are also rich in this mineral. Red meat is, however, one of the few natural sources of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 helps keep nerve and red blood cells healthy. Red meat also contains zinc, which boosts our immune system.
Red meat is also a good source of protein too, helping us to build bones and muscles. A 3-ounce portion of lean beef is only one hundred and eighty calories and is rich in nutrients.
Drinking water and watch the pounds drop off
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite like that.
Drinking too much water can actually be bad for you as it lowers the body’s salt levels (yes, salt is actually needed to a certain extent).
This condition, known as hyponatraemia, can be potentially fatal. Drinking excessive amounts of water can also lead to disturbed sleep patterns and restlessness as the need to go to the toilet increases. This frequent urination may also cause kidney damage.
It is recommended that we drink up to 1.2 litres of water a day. The benefits of water far outweigh the negatives. It suppresses appetite as well as boosting the body’s metabolism to burn more calories. Good hydration means healthier skin and nails, and can prevent headaches and increase your concentration levels. Just don’t expect to drop a dress size drinking water alone.
Carbs are not cool
The biggest diet craze is always aimed at carbohydrates. Ever since the Atkins diet came into play, the typical reaction to carbs is that they are fattening and should be cut out. Other ideas linked to this health rule include the fact that carbs cause bloating and carbs contribute to disruption in blood sugar levels. This can cause binge eating and other unhealthy eating patterns.
But a diet without carbs leads to an imbalance of hormones in the body for both men and women. This can trigger erratic mood changes, tiredness, headaches, and general energy levels. And believe it or not, next to protein, carbohydrates are a much needed part of our diet, for energy and muscle building.
Keep it moderate; keep it balanced. Low carb, high protein might be the way forward, but a healthy lifestyle means simply making healthy choices,not extreme ones. Cutting food groups out altogether will actually be detrimental to your health.
One way of knowing what sort of food you should be consuming daily is macro percentages, using the macro percentage calculator you can figure out what of your dietary intake of fats, carbs and proteins should consist of. Keep to the national recommended daily allowance of sugar, this should never be more than 10% of the energy you take from food and drink a day which translates to around 50 grams for women and 70 grams for men. Be careful though as this amount can vary depending on your size, age and how active you are.
So, rather than trying to keep up with the ever-changing healthy-eating rule book, it’s far easier to follow one simple rule – follow a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Hayley B is a Blogger for the online fitness videos site that stars Lucy Mecklenburgh from TOWIE and her personal trainer Cecelia – Results with Lucy.