Ditch the diet!
Jane McGuire

Ditch the diet!

The benefits of a nutrition course

First published date August 05 2014 Amended date August 15 2014

We live in a society obsessed with our waist lines. With the boom of the designer fitness lines, it’s apparently no longer acceptable to just go for a run in your baggy university sweatshirt and every month a new wonder pill, tea or diet plan is released for us to try. Going from fad diet to fad diet, losing weight is a lifetime mission many of us embark on, but is the secret to long term health more obvious than it seems? We take a look at the five worst diets and highlight how a nutrition course could be the answer we have all been looking for.


‘No carbs before marbs’

Diets that cut out entire food groups are unlikely to product any long term results. It may be true that eating excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates is not good for the waistline, but there is no research to suggest healthy carbs found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables can cause weight gain. Other popular fads include the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet and the raw food diet. You may lose weight quickly, but is eating cabbage soup forever a commitment you feel ready to make?

Scientists have proved that when you cut out a favourite food ‘forever’ in a diet plan, you begin to envision a life without chocolate, pick and mix or bacon and your brain begins to crave the forbidden food more, putting you in a restriction-binge cycle that will cause the diet to fail. Nutritionists prove it really is all about the balance; even returning to our caveman roots and only eating protein is unhealthy.


The magic pill

We’ve all seen the adverts – weight loss pills with claims that seem too good to be true. News flash, in most cases, they probably are. Weight loss drugs can help in the short term but can often have negative effects on the body. With cramping, a raised blood pressure and heart rate on the common side effects list, these little pills can be unhealthier than they look.  After around six months your body will begin to develop a tolerance to the pill and if you have not changed your diet or exercise regimen the weight will creep back on. What’s more, drugs containing amphetamines, anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants can be a dangerously addictive mix. Nutritionists argue that vitamins found in food are far superior to any provided in a pill and learning how to include these foods in your diet can lead to long term change.


The yo-yo

Fasting is fine for a day, but can be counterproductive for weight loss and act as the diet yo-yo we all want to avoid. Contradicting modern myths, science proves that when you consume too few calories, your body goes into ‘starvation-mode’ and adjusts its metabolism. Starvation can lead to rapid weight loss, but the weight that you lose is mainly muscle and fluid. When you finish your ‘starve’ and start to eat normally again, your metabolism does not readjust straight away.  The pounds regained will all be fat and the loss of muscle means they perform less metabolic work. So be warned, despite their fast results, very low calorie diets can cause dehydration, tiredness, confusion, mood swings and weight gain in the long run.


The calorie counter

While we are on the subject, it’s important to remember that calories are not all the same. For example, an avocado has the same amount of calories as a Cadburys Crème Egg but affects the body in a very different way. The type, timing and quality of the calorie is something that many counters forget. Quality calories are nutrient dense, as opposed to those that do not contain any nutrients, referred to as ‘empty’ calories – like that Crème Egg, or a portion of McDonalds chips. Remember that you are what you eat, so understanding the nutrition behind calories and fats can help you achieve your weight loss goals.


The detox

A popular choice for Hollywood stars, the detox or juice diet is proven to be good for your body, helping people restart their eating routine and shake off bad habits. However, it is important to remember that blending food forever is not a long term goal, but is something that should be incorporated into a healthy diet plan. Moreover, juicing all your fruit and veg removes the all important fibre, found in the pulp and skin, so make sure you get some of your five a day in its natural form as well.


The need for nutrition

If you want to lose or maintain your weight or just eat a little better, learning about the importance of nutrition is one lesson you will not regret. Courses will focus on the physiology of the digestive system and the major nutrients your body needs at different stages of your life. Most will also help you develop a personalised healthy meal plan, focused on your energy and weight requirements.


Ten things to remember:

  1. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, kick starting your metabolism after the body has been deprived of food over night.
  2. Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day keeps your metabolism working, so avoid skipping meals. Keeping a food diary is a great way to keep on top of what you are eating each day (secret eaters this is one for you).
  3. Exercise is vital when it comes to weight loss. Cardio is great for boosting your metabolism, while lifting weights burns calories during and after training (and won’t make you bulk up). Although the number on the scales might go up, remember that muscle weighs more than fat but more muscle means more calories burned.
  4. Eat according to the amount of exercise you are doing each day. Alter your routine to avoid getting bored of the same meal.
  5. Stay hydrated – your metabolism needs water and you are actually more likely to gain ‘water weight’ from not drinking enough.


So ditch the diet and lose weight this summer. 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.