How to cut your calo­rie in­take (with­out putting your­self in dan­ger)

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HEALTH - By ROSA SIL­VER­MAN

It sounds de­cep­tively sim­ple: to lose weight, and de­crease your likelihood of suc­cumb­ing to a range of weight-re­lated dis­eases, just re­duce your calo­rie in­take.

In­deed, this week we’ve learned that a clin­i­cal trial in­volv­ing 300 peo­ple in Scot­land and Ty­ne­side, funded by Di­a­betes UK, dis­cov­ered that an 800 calo­rie diet can re­verse type 2 di­a­betes (which is strongly linked to poor diet and ex­cess weight) in half of cases.

A num­ber of di­ets aimed at a more gen­eral au­di­ence — that is, those who want to shift weight but don’t nec­es­sar­ily have di­a­betes — are also based on sig­nif­i­cant calo­rie re­stric­tion.

Within a healthy, bal­anced diet, a man needs around 2,500 calo­ries a day to main­tain his weight, while a woman should have around 2,000, ac­cord­ing to NHS ad­vice. Some diet plans in­volve cut­ting this back to as lit­tle as 1,000 calo­ries or fewer. For ex­am­ple, Fast­ing Mim­ick­ing Di­ets (FMDs) such as ProLon re­strict calo­ries to be­tween one third and half of nor­mal in­take, pro­vid­ing ap­prox­i­mately 750 to 1100 calo­ries per day for a five-day pe­riod. When the FMD regime, de­vel­oped by re­searchers at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, was tested, those on it were found within three months to have re­duced biomark­ers linked to age­ing, di­a­betes, can­cer and heart dis­ease, as well as less over­all body fat.

But di­eti­tians and nu­tri­tion­ists stress that rapid weight loss is often un­sus­tain­able. Re­strict­ing calo­rie in­take, more­over, must be done within a safe range, they say. The Bri­tish Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­per­form mends a 500 calo­rie deficit on your daily needs if you’re try­ing to lose weight.

Very low calo­rie di­ets of 800 calo­ries per day or fewer “are typ­i­cally for adults who are obese — de­fined as hav­ing a BMI over 30 — but should not be the first op­tion to man­age obe­sity,” says the NHS. “These di­ets should only be fol­lowed un­der med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion for a max­i­mum of 12 weeks con­tin­u­ously, or in­ter­mit­tently with a low-calo­rie diet — for ex­am­ple, for two to four days a week.”

Most peo­ple who want to lose weight do not need to fol­low a very low calo­rie diet, they ad­vise. Such regimes, af­ter all, can leave di­eters de­prived of the nu­tri­tion they need, as well as feel­ing low in en­ergy and suf­fer­ing headaches, dizzi­ness, cramps and hair thin­ning.

So how should we re­strict our calo­ries enough to lose some weight but in a safe and sus­tain­able way? We asked some nu­tri­tion­ists for their tips. Here is what they told us ...

Nu­tri­tion­ist Kim Pear­son says low calo­rie di­ets can be done healthily as long as they’re done in the right way and by the right peo­ple (not those with eat­ing dis­or­ders, for in­stance). She cau­tions that it’s not just a case of how much you eat, but what you eat. Pear­son ad­vises eat­ing foods as close to their nat­u­ral state as pos­si­ble and try­ing not to rely on pro­cessed food, in­clud­ing those such as bread and ce­real.

“Many peo­ple have a very car­bo­hy­drate-heavy diet and per­haps don’t get enough pro­tein or the right types of pro­tein,” says Pear­son. “Pro­tein is sat­is­fy­ing. It fills us up and keeps us full for longer.” She rec­om­mends a palm-sized por­tion of pro­tein at each meal.

Eat­ing the right kind of car­bo­hy­drates is im­por­tant, says Pear­son. Those that re­lease en­ergy slowly are the ones to go for. Plenty can be found in veg­eta­bles, so large help­ings of bread, pasta and rice are not nec­es­sary. “We have a habit of bas­ing our meals around starchy car­bo­hy­drates,” she says. “A good rule is to fill your plate half full of veg­eta­bles.”

Wa­ter it down

Many peo­ple eat to ex­cess be­cause they are ac­tu­ally thirsty and con­fuse their thirst for hunger. Some nu­tri­tion­ists rec­om­mend drink­ing a glass of wa­ter be­fore ev­ery meal to keep hunger — or per­ceived hunger — un­der con­trol.

When you haven’t had enough sleep, your body in­creases se­cre­tion of the hunger hor­mone, ghre­lin, warns Pear­son. Stud­ies have found that adults who sleep for less than seven hours a day are 30pc more likely to be obese than those who sleep for 9 hours or more.

Rhi­an­non Lambert, a lead­ing Har­ley Street nu­tri­tion­ist, says sauces, dips and condi­ments can rack up your calo­rie in­take, as well as your in­take of sugar and salt. “One ta­ble­spoon of may­on­naise, for ex­am­ple, can add nearly an ex­tra 60 calo­ries to your meal. By mak­ing your own, you can see what in­gredi- ents are added and make sure no un­nec­es­sary ad­di­tives are in the mix,” she says.

Swap your packet of salt and vine­gar crisps for veg­etable crisps or pop­corn, sug­gests Lambert, whose book Re-Nour­ish is pub­lished later this month. By mak­ing this swap, your di­etary fi­bre in­take will be in­creased, keep­ing you fuller for longer. Other healthy snacks in­clude veg­gie sticks with hum­mus, peanut but­ter on rice cakes, and fruit. These have higher nu­tri­ent con­tent than vend­ing ma­chine snacks, will fill you up for longer and in­crease your daily vi­ta­min and min­eral in­take, says Lambert.



Go nat­u­ral

Eat your pro­tein





Play your carbs right

Sleep well

Make your own condi­ments




Snack sen­si­bly

“Be­ing dis­tracted when eat­ing does not al­low your brain to ac­knowl­edge when your stom­ach is full, so you usu­ally end up eat­ing the whole plate,” says Lambert, who cites tele­vi­sion and mo­bile phones as dis­trac­tions to avoid dur­ing meal­times. Stud­ies have shown that eat­ing when dis­tracted made sub­jects eat 30pc more than peo­ple who were mind­ful about their meal, she says.

Eat mind­fully

“As we en­ter the fes­tive pe­riod, ev­ery­where is sell­ing their ver­sion of the tof­fee nut or bil­lion­aire short­bread cof­fee for ex­am­ple, and while they taste tremen­dous, often these drinks con­tain a high calorific amount and a very high sugar con­tent,” says Lambert. Swap your daily gin­ger­bread latte for a co­conut latte or cap­puc­cino, she ad­vises, and re­strict high sugar cof­fee drinks to an oc­ca­sional treat.

Don’t drink your calo­ries


Some diet plans in­volve cut­ting this back to 1,000 calo­ries or fewer.

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