Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Some weight loss myths

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apple_measure_tape_1600_wht_131291   Giving up carbs

Processed carbs can contribute to weight gain but you shouldn’t give up on complex carbs or wholegrain such as brown rice which have a lot of fibre and make you feel fuller longer.

Complex carbs can also have a lower glycaemic index (GI) – which is a measure of the rate at which sugar is digested – so you won’t get highs and lows in blood sugar.

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker says it’s more about portion control and suggests limiting the calorie-dense healthy carbs such as rice, oats , or pasta, and alternate with lighter ones like butternut squash or corn on the cob which are just as filling.

2   Extreme exercise 

We think that if we expend more energy than we consume we should lose weight. And exercise does increase our metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) but when we…

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The Water Diet

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stick_figures_at_water_cooler_pc_1600_clr_3800Not a Gywneth Paltrow gimmick or a Posh Spice suggestion (she only eats lightly salted spinach apparently), although lauded by the likes of Jessica Alba, Gisele Bündchen and Reese Witherspoon.

However there was no scientific evidence that drinking copious amounts of water is necessarily good for us. Until now.

Researchers at Illinois University have published a paper, based on over 18,000 people, in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics which shows that drinking water does actually help you to eat less and have less sugar and cholesterol.

They found that drinking an extra three coups of water a day meant you consumed up to 200 fewer calories which equated to losing a pound of fat in two weeks, regardless of what you ate or how much you exercised.

Scientists are also getting excited about pre-loading; drinking half a litre of water 30 minutes before each meal. Working with overweight and obese patients…

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Breakfast is King – not necessarily

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whats_for_dinner_1600_wht_11336Many people believe that having a large breakfast prevents overeating later in the day and can help you lose weight. Even doctors have suggested that you eat about a third of your daily calorie intake at breakfast, enhancing breakfast’s reputation as the most important meal of the day. But where’s the evidence?

James Betts, a senior lecturer in nutrition at the University of Bath has dismissed the idea that “eating breakfast like a king” will kickstart the metabolism to burn more energy and prevent unhealthy food choices later on. “These are largely assumptions based on observations which have never been tested” he says.

Do healthy people eat breakfast or does eating breakfast make you healthy? He thought there would be lots of evidence but couldn’t find it. The idea seems to have started as a marketing ploy by John Harvey Kellogg at the turn of the century…

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Crash diets make you even fatter

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stick_figure_overweight_scale_1600_wht_3853There is a risk that crash diets will damage a person’s capacity to burn calories.

A study of people on a reality TV show, The Biggest Loser,  which challenges obese people to lose weight, found that they are now condemned to a lifetime battle with food as their bodies strive to get back to their original weight.

And to make matters worse they are no longer able to burn calories at the rate they once did.

The show had been criticised previously for irresponsibility in promoting drastic weight loss through dieting and fitness. Almost all the original contestants from 2009 have now returned to their original weight with many now heavier than before.

The study was carried out by Dr Kevin Hall at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Maryland, USA. Analysis of their metabolic rates shows that they are physically unable to process a…

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Eat well, live longer

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over_eating_on_couch_anim_500_wht_6531and look younger? Well according to the Timesnutritionist Jane Clarke you can achieve all those things by eating better.

By which she means eating less (a low calorie i.e. no more than 1,800 a day, healthy diet is claimed to  add 7-10 years to your lifespan). If you are physically active however you will need more than that.

And eating foods high in anti-oxidants will reduce the cell damage caused by sun, smoke, pollution, burnt meat and rancid fat.

Avoid foods low in transfats, salt, and refined sugars which can increase your blood pressure, add to your weight and increase your risk of heart diseases.

So here is her recommended list of super-foods. Look them up yourself to see specific benefits.

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Hemp oil
  • Live yoghurt
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Prunes
  • Sardines
  • Black tea
  • Water

There you have it. Eat, enjoy!

It might also help if you get…

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Lite meals my a**e

I’ve always resisted buying low fat foods or “lite meals” because I objected to paying the same, or more in some cases, for less content than was found in a normal meal. And because they reduced the amount of salt, sugar and fat – which is a good thing  – they often tasted bland.

Seems I was wrong. According to the Sunday Times many of these so-called “light foods” actually contain more calories than the regular version and some contain more fat or saturated fat.

There are lots of examples including Walkers crisps, and Benecol drinks, where the light versions have more calories, and McVitie’s light Rich Tea Biscuits which have more calories than supermarket own brands.

A senior food researcher at Which? said; “a food which says it is light does not mean it is low in fat. sugar, or salt. The same products from other manufacturers may even contain less….” .

Under EU rules the word light can only be used where there is a 30% reduction in calories, fat, sugar or salt. Manufacturers get round it by comparing with their own products not similar foods from competitors. And even when they do reduce the fat by 30% it can still be at what is considered a high level eg Philadelphia Light cream cheese has high levels of saturated fat.

Pepsico, which makes Walkers crisps, says that Walkers Lights contain fewer calories and saturated fat per bag than regular crisps and the bags are labelled with nutritional information. The ST story says that  Walkers standard extra crunchy cheddar & sour cream crisps contains fewer calories but marginally more fat than Walkers Lights. Decide for yourself who to believe.

Clearly these light meals are intended to appeal to health conscious people or to help people on diets. Fat chance of these really helping!

See also: “Mums a girl’s best friend – unless she’s dieting”  and “Apples & Pears – what fruit is your bum?”