answers your questions on matters of
diet and food. Send your questions to 'Ask Emma'.
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Q: What about high-protein diets? Do they work?
A: Prolonged high protein low carb diets such as Atkins can be difficult to maintain. Your body will be low on energy, and you will crave high-fat and high-sugar foods - and when you finally give in and eat those foods, you are likely to eat more calories than you need.
This will cause weight gain - and may end up on a cycle of yo-yo dieting, which is unhealthy. And the restricted intake of certain foods in these diets, such as fruit and vegetables, whole grain cereals, could increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The carbohydrate intake is below the minimum required for the brain and muscles to function properly, which explains the increased rate of muscle cramps, general weakness and headaches in those who follow the Atkins diet.
And, recent research at the University of Copenhagen has shown that although a high protein, low carb diet is more effective in weight loss over 6 months than a conventional low-carb, low-fat diet, there is no advantage over 12 months!
On balance, it is better and easier to follow a nutritionally balanced diet, along with increased exercise: lose weight gradually and safely, and keep it off!
We touched last time on the 5/2 diet - well, the good news is that Dr Michelle Harvey and Prof Tony Powel of Manchester University have published their research on the ‘intermittent fasting diet’ - it can work for you, whether you’ve been struggling with your weight for years or if you have only just made the decision to lose weight.
The 2-day diet is simple, you diet for just 2 consecutive days a week and eat normally for the other 5 days.
There are plenty of benefits such as:
• It is flexible.
• It is easy to follow and can be fitted into a normal, busy lifestyle.
• If followed correctly, it is nutritionally balanced to meet all your body’s needs.
- It will improve your health, protect you from disease and boost your energy levels.
- It is low enough in calories to enable you to lose weight, but without leaving you feeling hungry.
- It is easier to stick to two restricted days than cutting calories every day.
Results from studies have shown that after 3 months of following the 2 day diet:
- cholesterol levels are reduced by 6-34%
- Insulin levels are reduced by 12-76%
- Blood pressure is reduced by 11-40%
2 day dieters also lost more weight from their waist than the seven day dieters.
Although certain intermittent fasting diets (which are higher in protein) can be beneficial for weight loss, this should be done under dietetic supervision to ensure prudent dietary guidelines are met, weight loss is safe, and muscle is spared. There are many types of intermittent fasting diets advertised for weight loss, however they are not all balanced and are not all aimed at maintaining good all round health and disease prevention: weight loss must be safe.
I am available at Anamaya on Wednesday mornings - call reception and make an appointment, and we can chat about an intermittent diet plan that is tailored to you.
Remember, research shows that losing even a small amount of excess weight (5-10 % of your body weight) can help reduce your risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.