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You’re try­ing to be smart about your diet. You’re ex­er­cis­ing. But for some rea­son, the scale isn’t budg­ing, or the weight re­fuses to come off as fast as you’d like. “A weightloss prob­lem means there’s a prob­lem in your fat cells,” ex­plains nutri­tion sci­en­tist and ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist David Plourde, founder of The Plourde In­sti­tute in the US.

In his in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary, science-based weight-loss pro­gramme, he helps peo­ple in­crease the ac­tiv­ity of hor­mone-sen­si­tive li­pase, an en­zyme that breaks down fat. Once their cells can re­lease fat, the ex­tra ki­los start to dis­ap­pear.

One way he does this is by putting his pa­tients on a high-fi­bre diet free of added sug­ars and sim­ple starches, such as white flour, since the body burns sugar for fuel be­fore burn­ing fat.

How­ever, if you try to re­strict your to­tal carb in­take on your own, it can be tricky. So many foods you’d never imag­ined to have carbs are se­cretly loaded with these diet wreck­ers. You don’t know you’re con­sum­ing them, so the scale re­mains stuck.

A study David con­ducted bears this out, re­veal­ing that when peo­ple know where car­bo­hy­drates lurk, they can avoid them and lose body fat. In the study, he di­vided 308 over­weight peo­ple, all on a high-pro­tein, mod­er­ate-fat diet, into three groups. The first re­ceived no guid­ance on how to avoid se­cret carb sources, while the sec­ond had lim­ited in­for­ma­tion. The third group was given de­tailed in­struc­tions on how to steer clear of hid­den sug­ars and starches. Armed with the most info, the third group lost 71 per cent of their body-fat mass – al­most 50 per cent more than the group left in the dark.

So how can you avoid sneaky carb sources? Firstly, scan in­gre­di­ent lists for words like “mod­i­fied starch” and “mal­todex­trin” (which means it’s made from starch). Also, take a closer look at what is in foods you wouldn’t nor­mally think of as hav­ing carbs, like chicken – if you see the word “prod­uct”, it’s a clue that the chicken is for­ti­fied with starch – and reg­u­lar as well as diet bev­er­ages, pre-sep­a­rated egg whites, and even med­i­ca­tions.

Or go by this smart rule: Eat sim­ple food with only a few, if any, added in­gre­di­ents. “If the list of in­gre­di­ents is a para­graph long, you don’t need a Ph.D. in chem­istry to know that you’re prob­a­bly get­ting some hid­den car­bo­hy­drates,” says David. For more info, visit www.plour­de­in­sti­tute.com.

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