IF you are embarking on a New Year diet like thousands of others this month, take a few moments to get your facts straight.
We are often told things like chocolate and bread are bad for you, right? Not necessarily.
Here I look at some diet “facts” and shed light on exactly how much truth there is in them . . .
1. DON’T EAT BREAD IF YOU ARE ON A DIET
BREAD is often seen as the “carb-filled villain” when it comes to weight loss.
But if made from the wholegrain – wholemeal flour to make wholemeal bread – it gives us a wealth of weight control advantages.
While its fibre feeds good bacteria in our gut, some of which can help to boost our mood and control appetite, it also ups B vitamin intake.
This is crucial for keeping our metabolism ticking and our nervous system healthy.
Wholegrain bread also supplies iron, the mineral that we need for buoyant energy levels.
2. FULL-FAT DAIRY IS A NO-NO
EATING full-fat dairy can ease cravings for fast-release, sugar-packed processed foods, says Harvard University nutrition professor David Ludwig.
He explains that unhealthy carbohydrates cause blood-glucose fluctuations and insulin release.
This can lead to weight gain and also increase risk of heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes.
Professor Ludwig also points out that full-fat dairy – like a dollop of Greek yoghurt, put simply – is “luscious”.
This can be good for our slimming psychology, by helping us to feel that we are enjoying our food.
3. CHOCOLATE IS ALWAYS BAD FOR YOU
A DAILY choc treat may actually be good for you, reckon scientists from Tufts University in Boston, US.
The experts point out that dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, which is great for your heart and insulin sensitivity.
Meanwhile researchers at University College London have discovered, in a study of more than 13,000 adults, that those who ate a little dark chocolate daily had better moods than others who opted instead for milk chocolate.
Feeling happy is key to maintaining dietary patterns, so it could be just what you need for your diet.
4. RED MEAT EQUALS BAD MEAT
PROTEIN-rich foods help increase gut-derived hormones such as glucagon-like peptide 1IN, reports the Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome.
This hormone is an active compound in weight-loss drugs such as Wegovy.
It helps to lower appetite and raise the speed at which we burn calories.
While red meat is often seen as not being good for us, nutritional psychiatrist Dr Uma Naidoo explains: “Well-sourced lean poultry, seafood, eggs and grass-fed beef are good choices to ensure you are getting protein and the essential amino acids.”
For plant-based protein, tofu, beans and lentils work well.
5. AVOID PROCESSED FOOD AT ALL COSTS
WE all know the drill about cutting back on ultra-processed foods, with studies showing it is easy to eat 500 calories more per day without realising when consuming them.
But “processed” rather than “ultra-processed” options like canned beans, canned fruits, vegetables and canned fish can be both economically and nutritionally sound choices.
Baked beans, red kidney beans and butter beans are perfect for protein and fibre.
Canned fruits in juice and vegetables in water count towards your five-a-day, and tinned fish like sardines are great for your heart, with anti-inflammatory essential omega 3 oils.
6. NUTS ARE FULL OF CALORIES
IT is true that nuts are packed with calories, but a study from the University of South Australia shows you can eat almonds and lose weight.
Lead researcher Dr Sharayah Carter admitted: “Nuts like almonds are high in protein and fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals, but they also have a high fat content which people associate with increased body weight.”
Despite these facts, though, the study showed participants achieved an almost ten-per-cent reduction in weight, while regularly snacking on the nuts in place of traditional snacks as it helps you feel fuller for longer.