We’ve all heard of (and sometimes ridiculed) the latest fad diets such as cabbage soup, paleo and the 5-2. But without a balanced diet and regular exercise, our health really does suffer. We only pile the pounds back on when we stop dieting and working out. In this month’s blog, we look to science for a long-term answer to beating the January bulge!
In the UK, over 40% of men and 30% of women are overweight and 25% are obese. This poses the threat of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Ultimately, the only way to keep weight off is to calorie count whilst eating a balanced diet. In other words, only take in the number of calories as are needed.
However, the recommended intake varies from person to person. Generally, young or fat people, as well as males, have faster metabolic rates than older, thinner people or females. There are plenty of tables published by medical journals to help you ascertain your RDA of calories. Remember, you can adjust your calorie intake to be more than the recommended daily allowance if you exercise. Simply walking will increase the rate of burning up calories from 90 an hour while sitting to 280 (based upon the metabolism of an 11 stone 40-year-old female). Jogging will increase this to 750 calories.
The reason losing weight is far harder than putting it on is because your body will also burn up your protein stores rather than just the fat. Further, lots of exercise in a short space of time will make you hungrier. Therefore, a realistic and healthy goal to weight loss is 10% and then to stabilise for a few weeks at that weight, before aiming for another 5-10%.
An Alternative – The High Calcium Diet
An interesting fact I learned whilst watching the BBC Documentary ‘The Truth About Food’ some years back, was a high calcium diet bound up the fat being processed in your colon into little soap-like cakes which were passed and not absorbed. In trials, calorie-controlled dieters eating low-fat yoghurts lost 20% more body fat than the others, mostly from their abdomens; wow!
The RDA of calcium is about 1g (1,000 mg) and there is 400mg in 1 serving of natural yoghurt. It is not recommended to increase to more than 2.5g per day. You may be surprised as to the sources of calcium outside of dairy, such as baked beans, soya milk, salmon and sardines. Although most leafy greens also contain calcium, the other compound they usually contain (oxalates), prevents absorption by our bodies. This is especially true of spinach, rhubarb and chard.
If this wasn’t enough, calcium also has another great effect to help dieters. While the body slows its metabolic rate down during a reduced-calorie diet, calcium can offset this effect, keeping your metabolic rate as normal. It seems to reduce the rate at which new fat cells form.
It also appears to scientists that there are some compounds in whey, (rather than curds which go on to make hard high-fat cheeses) which contain chemicals that assist in the intake of calcium. In short, low fat cheese and yoghurt may really help your new year’s resolution in more ways than one!
Lucy Sherry, Solicitor-Advocate; Head of Medical Negligence specialises in medical negligence litigation, previously representing the NHS Litigation Authority and one of the GP Unions. Lucy now works with injured individuals and bereaved families to achieve compensation for adverse outcomes. Lucy has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge, regularly delivering medico-legal training to lawyers, attending many hours of medical lectures each year to keep abreast of changes in treatments, and gaining an insight into new health and medical findings to share with Thomson & Bancks’ clients and visitors to this blog.
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