It is not news that weight loss and fitness is selling big time in Nigeria at the moment. More and more people are getting involved in this new trend whether it be for health or vanity reasons. Marketers of counterfeit weight loss products push slogans like “Lose 30kg in 30 days!” “Eat as much as you want and still lose weight!” “Try this tea and lose inches fast!” Have you heard these claims before? I’m sure you have! I’m also sure you have that one friend that has done all sorts of diets from the good ole starvation method, to drinking water mixed with cayenne pepper, lemon and maple syrup (I’m guilty of this one) to the famous locking your teeth for 30 days, or drinking shakes for 8 weeks. These days it has become increasingly difficult to identify who and what to believe with regards to the right way to lose weight.
I’m going to help you identify frauds, debunk myths, and provide facts and tips about weight loss, nutrition, and physical activity. This should help you make healthy changes in your daily habits. You can also talk to your health care provider if you have other questions. A registered dietitian may also give you advice on the healthy eating plans and safe ways to lose weight and keep it off.
Myth: Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off.
Fact: Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. These diets often promise quick weight loss if you strictly reduce what you eat or avoid some types of foods. Some of these diets may help you lose weight at first but they are super restrictive and hard to follow. Most people quickly get tired of them and regain any lost weight. Fad diets are unhealthy. They may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, you may lose 3kg the first week and 1 or 2kg the first few weeks. But fad diet may increase your chances of developing gallstones (solid matter in the gallbladder that can cause pain). Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious health problems.
TIP: Make healthy food choices. Eat moderate-sized portions. Build exercise into your daily life. For instance, as opposed to driving walk to the supermarket, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car further than usual. Combined, these habits may be a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. These habits may also lower your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Myth: Carbs are the devil, RUN from carbs.
Fact: Carbs are highly controversial these days. I’ve never been a fan of low-carb diets: our bodies and our brains need carbohydrates to work effectively. The dietary guidelines suggest that we get about half of our calories from carbohydrates. The main purpose of carbohydrates in the diet is to provide energy. Most carbs get broken down or transformed into glucose, which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat (stored energy) for later use. There are two types of carbs, Simple carbs and Complex carbs. Complex carbs (the good stuff) pack in more nutrients than simple carbs (the bad stuff), because they are higher in fibre and digest more slowly.
This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. They are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes because they help manage post-meal blood sugar spikes. Simple carbs are processed, packaged foods and sugary beverages are the primary culprits in your daily overdose of sugar. The obvious sugar-filled foods are cookies, cakes, syrups, ice cream, chocolate, candy, and other sweet treats. But you’d be surprised to find out that a lot of other “healthy” foods are major sources of sugar too – cereals, protein bars, trail mix, tomato sauce, crackers, sausages, smoked salmon, just to name a few. Sugar is hidden almost everywhere.
TIP: To lose weight, reduce the number of unhealthy calories you take in and increase the amount of physical activity you do each day. Create and follow a healthy eating plan that replaces less healthy options with a mix of fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods, and low-fat dairy.
Myth: “Low-fat” or “fat-free” or “gluten-free” means no calories.
Fact: A serving of low-fat or fat-free food may be lower in calories than a serving of the full-fat product. But many processed low-fat or fat-free foods have just as many calories as the full-fat versions of the same foods—or even more calories. These foods may contain added flour, salt, starch, or sugar.
TIP: Read the Nutrition Facts label a food package to find out how many calories are in a serving. Check the serving size, too—it may be less than you are used to eating to improve flavour and texture after fat is removed. These items add calories.
Myth: If I skip meals, I can lose weight.
Fact: Skipping meals may make you feel hungrier and lead you to eat more than you normally would at your next meal. In particular, studies show a link between skipping breakfast and obesity. People who skip breakfast tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast.
TIP: Choose meals and snacks that include a variety of healthy foods.
There’s no fad diet or miracle pill that will change your body overnight, nonetheless losing weight is within your reach. What works takes time. If you want to lose weight, you need to develop a new relationship with food that can carry you for years.
Culled from The Guardian