You only live once, so go ahead and eat that piece of cake. Right! Wrong…
It’s true, you only live once. But that’s why it’s so important to make sure you take care of yourself by eating healthy. Our unhealthy eating habits now cause more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined. Let that sink in for a minute. Could your diet be worse for your health than smoking?
But can you have your cake and eat it … and just burn it off at the gym?
Exercise is like medicine. Regular exercise has consistently shown to be as powerful as several types of medication used to manage chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease and even depression. It also plays an important role in preventing these conditions, as well as diabetes and certain cancers. It boosts our mood, improves social interaction and encourages us to spend more time outdoors, all important factors for overall health, happiness and well-being.
On paper, it seems that there really isn’t much that exercise can’t do. The reality is different. Regular exercise plays a limited role in weight loss. Say what now?
Isn’t it all about balancing calories?
We traditionally believed that to lose weight, you must use more energy (exercise) than what you consume (what you eat). Again, that sounds legit in theory. But why in the past 30 years or so has obesity rates rocketed when there has been little change in physical activity levels? What has changed, is the way we eat, and not in a good way.
Not all calories are created equal – calories versus calories
Our body responds differently to calories from different sources (carbohydrates, protein and fat).
Here’s a good example. There are 140 calories in a can of coke, whereas an egg has around 155 calories. If you’re counting calories, the coke already sounds better, doesn’t it? Once it leaves your mouth, the drink will spike your blood sugar, cause a sudden increase in insulin and possibly leave you feeling a bit low, and hungry. The egg, however, will keep your blood sugar constant and make you feel full and satisfied so you won’t need to eat again for another few hours.
Insulin is also known as the fat storage hormone, and converts any excess sugars floating around straight to fat. Drinking a can of coke every day for five days will have a vastly different effect on body weight, and health, compared to eating the same calories from eggs.
We usually avoid foods that contain fat, such as eggs, nuts, avocados and fish with a very high calorie count on a calorie-controlled diet. But, besides these types of foods being healthy in terms of your heart and brain, they also keep your appetite, and your weight at bay.
Quality over quantity
Studies have found that regardless of the amount of exercise you do, people with high quality diets have less body fat, especially around the liver and belly. This is important, since this type of fat is closely associated with several health conditions including diabetes and heart disease.
What is Banting?
Banting is not a new concept. It’s been around since the 1860s but has since evolved. William Banting, obese and unhealthy, went to his doctor who prescribed a diet of high fats and very low carbohydrates – and he lost a tremendous amount of weight.
Today Banting consists of low carbohydrates, medium levels of protein and healthy fats. It means eating vegetables, meat, nuts, seeds, little fruit and minimal starch. Banting avoids all grains and sugars and focusses on real foods and healthy fats for energy – getting back to the basics of eating and preparing real food.
Did some say fat bomb?
These types of diets have been criticised for the amount of fat it allows. But there is a clear distinction between healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats help you feel fuller for longer. Even though you are allowed to eat butter, you’re not advised to fry your bacon in it. There are many healthy fats that you can eat like nuts, seeds, avocados, dairy and seafood.
Research has shown us that healthy fats are necessary for good health and also helps with brain health.
So where to from here?
Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, there is no exercise class, magic bullet or quick fix. The best (and healthiest) weight loss plan is the one you can turn into a lifestyle by making sustainable changes to your way of buying, preparing and thinking about food.
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