Diet Facts and Myths

Diet Facts and Myths

banner8

There are a lot of myths and misinformation around diets and the weight loss industry in general.  Below are some of the common misconceptions.

Myth: All diets work.

Fact: When people try many new diet fads, no matter how impractical and unlikely the diet appears to be they may get results.

This is because clearly what they were eating before going on the diet was not working for them and by going on the diet they made a change. Unfortunately in most cases the change is not sustainable because it is too restrictive, too expensive, too time consuming, too repetitive etc or initial weight loss is mainly water. Many diets do indeed work short term but unless they are an easily maintained ongoing practical eating lifestyle they are a waste of time and can actually be damaging.

Myth: No diets actually work.

Fact: People are familiar with initial body fat loss from a change of diet and then body fat gain to return to old levels and often higher, so called yo-yo dieting. This has led to many people including experts in the field (e.g. Dr Robyn Toomath Wellington Hospital endocrinologist and leading obesity awareness activist) to conclude that diets don’t work.

Myth: A healthy diet for weight loss is all about restricting fat and sugar.

Fact: Western countries are eating less fat in their diet and are becoming more overweight and obeses.  There are probably many reasons for this but it does show that the currently favoured low fat diet is not the solution to the problem.  We certainly need fat in our diet for good health.  The Zone shows you thehealthiest fat choices and the optimum amount to eat to facilitate healthy body fat loss.  The Zone is not a high fat diet but many of our clients lose body fat while acutally eating more fat in their diet.

Fact:  Probably the most misleading and confusing advice relates to sugar in our diet.  We are told to cut down sugar (sucrose or table sugar) and eat lots of carbohydrates.  This is actually nonsense because all carbohydrates are sugars and the carbohydtrate we ultimately appears in our bloodstream as blood sugar.  What is worse the dense refined “complex” carbphydrates we are encouraged to eat most of tend to give us the quickest and biggest burst of sugar into our bloodstream.  The fact is that excess carbohydrate in our diet be it from complex carbohydrates or table sugar is the major cause of overweight.

Myth: Weight loss is a good measure of body fat loss.

Fact: Our body is about 66% water so the main thing we are weighing when we get on the scales is water and this can vary considerably so even if you weigh yourself at the same time of day without clothing your weight can easily vary several 100 grams up or down depending on your state of hydration and quite independent of body fat.

Myth: BMI is a good measure of how fat we are.

Fact: BMI as used by many medical authorities is derived from the formula weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared. This can give an indication of degree of overweight and obesity. However the reliance on just weight and height in the formula can lead to anomalies in results when we consider the fact that muscle is heavier than fat. This was graphically demonstrated when the 2003 New Zealand Rugby World cup team were all but one player deemed to be obese by their BMI calculations. This is of course a nonsense when you look at these fit muscular men. The problem was that the BMI formula was recording the weight of a lot of their muscle as fat.

Myth: You need to eat lots of carbohydrate to maintain energy levels.

Fact: This is one of the most common nutrition myths and is one of the easiest to disprove. Lowering carbohydrate intake from a high to a moderate level (40% of energy intake in calories) enables you to switch from using sugar for energy to accessing body fat for energy. Fat is a premium fuel compared to sugar. Increased energy is an almost universal result of eating in the Zone. We work with a lot of athletes who consistently measure increased performance in the Zone. Although anecdotal, since 1997 I have not eaten a grain of rice, only a single tablespoon of pasta and virtually no flour products or potatoes and I have never had as much energy in my life, often working 100 hour weeks. You can very soon prove this for yourself by allowing us to show you that increased energy is simply one of the many benefits of the Zone eating lifestyle. Note the Zone does not completely eliminate grains we restrict the most unfavourable and select and balance the most favourable. Zone nutrition is all about awareness of the foods that cause us to be overweight and unhealthy and eating them appropriately and selecting mainly favourable choices.

Myth: Reducing carbohydrate to Zone levels will not work long-term.

Fact: Many of the old school dietians advised against the Zone’s cutting down dense refined carbohydrates and simply said that it would not work. This created a problem for them when people who tried it discovered that it worked very well and scientific studies started to show the Zone offered the best weight loss and other health benefits.

The evidence of the Zone’s effectiveness is so overwhelming that the only thing they can now think of is that they are worried about the “long-term effects”. We would like to put their minds at rest on this with many people still getting good results since starting in the Zone in the 1990s. We have been eating in the Zone since March 1997; Kevin’s cholesterol and blood pressure continue at the excellent levels created by first eating in the Zone and his % body fat has not changed since he reached current levels in September 1997.

Note: It is common for diet advisers to confuse the moderate carbohydrate Zone and the low carbohydrate Atkins and then heap some of the valid criticism of Atkins on the Zone. Atkins also does not restrict saturated fats and can be restrictive of many healthy food items so there is some justification for being concerned about the long-term safety and sustainability of Atkins.

Myth: Regarding body fat control all calories have equal effect (i.e. a calorie is a calorie is a calorie).

Fact: It would appear to be a basic fact that body fat gain or loss is determined by the balance of calories in and calories out. Although this is an very widely held belief throughout the nutrition world it is quite simply not supported by properly constructed scientific studies.

A scientific study carried out by Professor Alan Kekwick and Dr Gaston Pawan at the University of London in the 1950s put a study group of patients on a 1000 calorie diet that was 90% fat and this resulted in significant weight loss in the individuals. They also got significant weight loss from a 90% protein 1000 calorie diet (although not as much as the 90% fat diet). When the same patients were then put on a 90% carbohydrate 1000 calorie diet there was virtually no weight loss.

Myth: Grains are an essential natural part of the human diet.

Fact: Modern humans are regarded to have been around for about 100,000 years. Grains in any quantity have only been in our diet for about 10,000 years since our ancestors began to cease their hunter-gatherer lifestyle of constantly moving in search of food and settled in one place long enough to take up agriculture and start growing grains as a significant food source. The fact is that 75% of the population have simply not adapted to a lot of grains in their diet. Note the Zone does not completely eliminate grains, we restrict the most unfavourable and select and balance the most favourable. Zone nutrition is all about awareness of the foods that cause us to be overweight and unhealthy and  learning how to eat them appropriately by selecting mainly favourable choices.