Fats, carbohydrates and calories are three of the most common dietary myths that I constantly find myself explaining to my clients. I’m so passionate about sharing the truth. Here’s what I’ve learnt:
Calories – a diet that encourages you to count calories is inefficient for many reasons. I’ve written about it in detail here. In short, the key reasons are: our metabolisms all burn food differently (every single person is different), counting calories becomes completely unnecessary when your food doesn’t come with labels (eat wholefoods), calories are not created equal (high fibre foods contain many calories, yet support weight loss), a restrictive diet that involves calorie counting is unsustainable and actually slows your metabolism (and promotes weight gain!), it encourages you to eat processed/packaged food (because they come with clear labels displaying calories), you fail to address the real reason why you overeat or gain weight (emotional or medical), it encourages you to ignore your natural hunger and satiety signals (we need to learn to listen to our body) and restrictions result in cravings which turn into binges.
Fat – good fats in the form of avocado and olive oil are essential for hormone balance, satiety and reducing inflammation. Eating good fats does not make you fat. Processed food makes you fat. The low-fat fad is one of the biggest and most damaging nutritional myths. Avoid fat-free products, especially fat-free yoghurt. When the fat is removed from a product, often sugar is added to ensure the taste and texture is appealing. Fat-free products are on my list of 6 Fake Health Foods.
Carbohydrates – don’t forget to eat your carbs. Carbs have been demonised in recent times. Many of my clients come to me following a carb-free diet. We need to re-educate ourselves. Carbs are an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbs provide energy, ensure satiety and promote the production of serotonin (the feel good hormone). If we restrict carbs our body will use protein in its place. When protein is used for energy (instead of a building block) we can experience hormonal issues, increased hunger, low moods and muscle loss. It’s so important that you enjoy carbs in their whole form (for sustained energy), such as sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa, banana, beets and oats. Avoid processed carbs such as bread, pasta, flour, cakes, biscuits and muffins. Complex carbohydrates are a vital component of our diet. Aim to fill a 1/4 of your plate with complex carbohydrates. This post sets out what to fill your plate with.