So, will red wine make you live longer? Will olive oil make you thin? Is honey excreted undigested from your system? Is the best way of dieting as simple as eating a small portion of food every two hours?
I have heard so many theories about food, health and dieting over the last couple of years that I decided to do some digging to try and find out how many of these theories have any scientific foundation.
I looked far and wide but the best single source of accurate information was Dr Michael Mosley, author of the Fast Diet books. You might want to look him up.
Myth: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Well, yes and no. It’s good to eat breakfast but there is little evidence for the claim that you need a good breakfast to get your metabolism going or that people who eat breakfast are slimmer and healthier.
One recent study took 300 overweight volunteers and asked those who always ate breakfast to try skipping it. Those who never ate breakfast were asked to eat something every morning. At the end of four months, they weighed both sets of volunteers.
People who had never before eaten breakfast but had now started had lost 0.76kg over four months. But regular breakfast eaters who had now begun skipping it had also lost 0.71kg.The researchers concluded that whether or not you eat breakfast makes no difference to your weight.
Also read: Have chocolate to lose weight
The truth is that chocolate does contain tiny quantities of substances that can elevate your mood. So far so good. But many other foods contain much larger quantities of these substances: salami, for instance. And yet, I have never read an article that says “Want to feel happy and romantic? Eat lots of garlic salami!”
One reason why people often feel a degree of elation after eating chocolate is because chocolate usually contains sugar and they get what is known as a sugar rush.The problem is that cheap chocolate usually contains the most sugar. But the claims are made most often for very expensive, low-sugar dark chocolate.
It turned out that the people who ate regular meals lost an average of 1.4kgs more than the group that ate several small meals. More significantly perhaps, they also lost about 1.5 inches more from around their waists. The people who kept eating small meals not only lost less weight but were also highly dissatisfied and hungry throughout the day.
Scientists are sceptical of exercise instructors and dieticians who suddenly decide that they understand the complicated business of metabolism. And so should you be.
Myth: Drink water to lose weight
I am so fed up of beauty editors and other morons on the staffs of women’s magazines who pretend to understand how the human body works.
Indians should know that this is not necessarily true for healthy individuals. We have a long tradition of fasting and our ancestors managed okay. But there is now research to back up this view.
One study showed that volunteers who lived on nothing but water for 84 hours did see drops in their blood glucose levels. They fell from 4.9 mmols/1 on the first day to 3.5 mmols/1 by day four. But these levels are not unhealthy. They are not in any sense abnormally low and pose no great danger to health.
And there’s a silver lining. The same study showed that as blood glucose levels diminished, the levels of fatty acid in the blood shot up. This demonstrates that fasting causes your body to switch to fat-burning mode. And so, it’s not a bad way to lose weight, after all.
From HT Brunch, July 20
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