Diets

One of the biggest topics online. Diets and general weight management information are in the news almost 24 hours a day. Whether it's obesity, the Western bulge or the validity of fast track slimming aids that seem to proliferating from the pharmaceuticals, diets are now a mainstream issue and are here to stay. So what are we covering when we talk about diets? Broadly speaking both meanings - the act of changing the food you eat and secondly the actual type of food and drink we eat. They are both key to understand if we are to broach this issue properly. It's not even like this is an issue confined to any particular age, socio-group or ethnic grouping - it's an issue for thousands of young, middle aged and senior people whether you are black, white, middle class or lower class.

Healthy diet articles

Types of diet

 

Healthy diet

When you're considering starting a diet, healthy diet articles and journals from a range of professional and researched sources are extremely useful. You can research everything you need to now so make sure you're fully up to date. Find information on the latest practises, technologies and procedures as well as health risks and healthy diet advice through articles and journals relating to dieting. With so many helpful sites available online, it is a good idea to get actual figures and statistics to help you to decide upon the right one for you. National health guidelines and government organisations such as the food and drink and heart federations offer you access to these details. The World Heart Federation, The Food and Drink Federation and The British Medical Association are all viable options for locating useful healthy diet articles and journals.

There's publicly available information on everything from diabetes and food intolerances to salt intake guidelines and health risks. Find reports on the Atkins diet, eating disorders and a multitude of other interesting and vital diets, conditions and general information and advice. Get to grips with the latest breakthroughs in health care. Research fully all the facts that can help you to lose weight fast. Read through official government articles and literature that holds the key to your dieting success.

From men's and women's health magazines, such as Slimmer Magazine, to weekly magazine spreads on general health improvements, in 'Woman', for example and supermarket magazines such as 'Tesco Magazine', there's information of your health practically everywhere. If you want to find really useful, official information, then there are plenty of organisations available for you to browse through their websites. You'll notice that there is a great deal of essential information at your fingertips so choosing the right diet for your requirements should be a simpler task, given all this excellent assistance!

It is important to familiarise yourself with documents and literature that can help you to establish what condition your health is in and what targets you may want to set for yourself to aim towards your target weight. Journals on food hygiene, daily recommended allowances for salt and sodium consumption and related health risks such as hypertension are all on offer. Discover details on replacing your daily intake of foods that you are intolerant to, the actual health benefits and risks that come from being overweight or eating certain products and solutions for a healthier lifestyle.


5 a day for healthy eating

Eating 5 a day is a simple rule of thumb for keeping yourself fit and healthy by making sure you have a balanced diet. The idea behind 5 a day is that you eat five daily portions that contain both fruit and vegetables. While some of us may regard fruit and veg as boring, with a little bit of imagination, you'll discover there's a huge amount of variety to be found in a 5 a day diet. In fact variety really is the spice of life as making sure you get plenty of different types of fruit and vegetables is the best way to ensure you get the nutrients, fibres, vitamins and minerals that you need. This is not about starving yourself; in fact, you can eat as much fruit and veg as you want. It's a far more realistic and long-term way of controlling your weight.

There are also huge advantages for your health. For a start, eating plenty of fruit and veg makes you less likely to develop heart disease. They contain high quantities of the minerals and vitamins that are essential to keep your body running smoothly. They also help to boost your immune system and reduce the risks of developing cancer. They provide plenty of the vital fibre and antioxidants that help keep you strong and energetic. As they're low in fat, added sugars and calories, they also won't cause you to pile on the pounds. Most people, particularly young people, in Britain don't have enough fruit and veg in their diets and this is a major threat to their future health. Just upping the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat can make a huge difference to your well being.


Foods for anti-ageing

Are there really foods for anti-ageing? Sadly, there isn't some magic apple you can eat that's suddenly going to knock twenty years off. However there are indeed foods for anti-ageing that can help you look and feel younger. It is now thought that the antioxidants contained in certain foods do indeed slow the ageing process in human cells.

Apples are in fact a good example as they contain not only antioxidants but also pectin, which help to lower cholesterol levels. Other foods that are particularly good for anti-ageing include avocados, carrots, kiwi fruit, strawberries and grapes. Berries with their high vitamin C content help because vitamin C helps add new collagen to the skin. Garlic is good for killing off germs connected with skin, intestinal and respiratory infections. Eating tomatoes is thought to help protect against cancer and heart disease because they are a rich source of lycopene, an anti-cancer agent and type of antioxidant. Eating tofu is also good as soybeans contain isoflavones that help correct hormone imbalances. Even chocolate is said to add a year to your life if eaten regularly. And red wine boosts circulation to the skin as well as being a protection against heart disease. Of course if not consumed in moderation, red wine and chocolate will quickly undo most of the good of the other more obviously healthy foods. At the end of the day, we are what we eat. Eating fresh food as part of a balanced diet will help keep you looking fresh and balanced too.


Artificial sweeteners

Instead of natural sugar, artificial sweeteners are used in many products. The reason for using artificial sweeteners is that they have such a low calorie content. In fact it's not so much that they've no calories in them as that you need only tiny amounts to achieve the same degree of sweetness as a spoon of sugar. Many diet sodas for example contain artificial sweeteners rather than sugar.

Saccharin and aspartame are two of the best known types. Saccharin was developed towards the end of the nineteenth century and is estimated to taste three hundred times sweeter than sugar. Unfortunately, it can leave a slightly bitter after taste and some studies have shown that it causes bladder cancer in rats. Although the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at one point considered banning it, it has since removed saccharine from its list of potentially cancer causing agents. Aspartame has also been the subject of controversy over how safe it is as it contains trace amounts of methanol, a known cancer agent. While the FDA approved its use in 1981 after studies showed the amounts of methanol involved were too small to have an impact on humans, some debate over the issue continues. A rare genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU) means that sufferers lack an enzyme for properly breaking down aspartame and should make sure they consume only small amounts. While these substances can satisfy our craving for sweetness without the risk of piling on the pounds, it's probably wise to be aware of how much of them you are consuming.


Your need for Calcium

Why do you have a need for calcium? There are many fundamental reasons why your body has a need for calcium on a daily basis. These include the fact that it is a mineral that is absolutely essential for maintaining the strength of your bones and your teeth. If the level of calcium that you need in your blood drops below a certain level, than your body will compensate by drawing from what is already present in your bones. If this happens and is not replaced by enough new in take, then gradually your bones will be weakened and become brittle. This can ultimately lead to osteoporosis and other skeletal problems. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that particularly effects women and can be a major health hazard in later life. It is a condition where the bones are weakened and therefore vulnerable to breaking easily. It is currently estimated that fifty percent of women in the US are at risk of osteoporosis because they do not get enough Ca, one of the body's most important minerals.

This type of deficiency can also affect the ability of your muscles to work properly as well as your nervous system. It has a negative impact on the health of your heart and the ability of your blood to clot. In order to make sure you're getting enough of what your body requires, you should try to eat foods that are high in calcium. These include broccoli, cheese and of course milk. Non-fat powdered dry milk can be added to many dishes, including soups and casseroles, and is a good way to up your intake. Other foods may be specially enriched, such as cereals and orange juice, so it's worth keeping an eye out for these.


How much carbohydrate

How much carbohydrate should there be in your diet? It's a tricky question as there are quite a number of factors to consider and it varies for individuals. Some experts say that between forty five and sixty five percent of your total calorie consumption should come from carbohydrates. However, it's not just a matter of how much, it's also a question of what type you are eating.

How much carbohydrate you consume will have a major impact on your health. Low carb diets are currently fashionable as they encourage the body to burn fat as a source of energy. The risk here is that carbs are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Drastically reducing your consumption of them for an extended period can have a negative impact on your body's ability to function. Among other essential processes, you need vitamins for your circulatory and immune systems. Also, you should be aware that meat could contain saturated fat, which is particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. The main point to bear in mind is that low fat carbs, such as found in cereals, fruit and vegetables, are often high in valuable nutrients. High fat carbs, such as found in cakes, biscuits and chocolate, tend to be low in nutrients as well as more likely to lead to weight gain. So, think not just in terms of quantity, but quality and try to ensure a healthy balance in your diet.


Is celery a wonder food?

It might seem like a bizarre question but is celery a wonder food? There's quite a lot of evidence to suggest that it is. While celery might not seem a wonder in itself, being a rather nondescript green vegetable, it contains many secret powers. Although most nutritious when eaten raw, celery can still work as a wonder food when cooked. The greener it is, the more of those magic vitamins and minerals it will contain.

For a start, it's very low in calories so it's not going to go to your hips. All vegetables do contain some calories so it's not a miracle in the sense that digesting it is unlikely to burn more calories than the stalks themselves contain. However, as it contains a high amount of water and fibre and low calorie content, you're likely to feel full long before you're in any danger of gaining weight. You can eat as much of it as you like but it's been suggested that four stalks a day can really help to relieve high blood pressure. This was a traditional treatment for the condition in Vietnam. It's also thought to contain eight different types of compounds that help to prevent cancer. It's known to be an excellent source of potassium as well as other vital minerals and vitamins, including Vitamin C. In addition, it has been used to treat arthritis. There are even those who claim it can act as an aphrodisiac by boosting your libido.


Cholesterol levels & a healthy eating

When it comes to keeping your body healthy, cholesterol levels are a matter of great concern. It's not that cholesterol as such is bad for you; it's a question of the levels in your blood.

This type of fat or lipid is vital for energy production, making hormones and in forming the building blocks that make up your cells. Yet, high cholesterol levels can lead to hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This is known as atherosclerosis. Basically, fat builds up over many years on the lining of the arteries meaning that blood flow becomes restricted. This in turn causes heart disease and increases the chances of you having a heart attack or stroke.

There are actually two different types of cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (unsaturated fat) is very good for you and in fact helps to break down the lipids that cause the body damage. The kind of fat that does you harm is known as low-density lipoprotein (saturated fat). The ratio of the two types to one another is what determines what is dangerous. You can find this out via a blood test. While genetics plays a major part in how your body deals with lipids, what food you eat can also have a significant impact. If there is a history of heart disease in your family, you should pay particular attention to how much and what kinds of fats you are consuming. Nevertheless, even if there isn't, it's important to watch your fat intake and try to eat food that is low in saturated fat.


Diet and prostate cancer

Diet and prostate cancer has been much debated, as there is evidence to suggest that watching what you eat can help prevent this potentially fatal disease. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers amongst men living in the Western world. It is now believed that this may be due to the high fat content of the typical Western diet. While prostate cancer is also genetic, research has shown that in countries where the overall consumption of saturated fat is high, there are a proportionally higher number of cases of this disease.

The prostate is a gland that produces prostatic fluid, which is one of the components of seminal fluid. Symptoms of potential problems in the cells of the gland include the following: lower back pain, pain in the pelvis area, pain while urinating, needing to urinate frequently, difficulties in beginning to urinate and/or breaks in the flow of urine, as well as blood in the urine or semen. If you suffer from any of the above, you should see your doctor about being screened. The condition is slow developing and treatable if caught early enough. Being aware of how much saturated fat you are consuming is also very important. Red meat is thought to be the main culprit here as it is often very high in saturated fat. Dairy products are also a concern. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables as a high fat content also exposes you to heart disease and other life threatening conditions.


Keep drinking water

To tell people to keep drinking water may sound like an incredibly obvious statement. As our bodies are mainly made up of water, it's clear that we need to keep drinking plenty of it to avoid becoming dehydrated. Surely, we know when we have to keep drinking water because we feel thirsty. Yet, in fact, it's more complicated than that as many of us are suffering from the symptoms of dehydration without even realising it.

H20 makes up over sixty percent of our body weight. A loss of as little as two percent of this can make us feel tired, listless, and cause headaches. As we get older, our bodies' ability to tell us when we're thirsty lessens. Urinating, sweating and even breathing causes us to lose fluids. Exercise can cause fluid loss to occur before feelings of thirst set in. Many people use the 8x8 rule; meaning consuming eight glasses of eight ounces a day to ensure they get as much as they need. This translates as approximately 1.9 litres. However, it can only be considered a rough guideline as how much fluid your body needs varies considerably between individuals. If you find you are constantly thirsty, this could be a sign of diabetes and you should consult your doctor. Pregnant or breast feeding women should make sure to consume more fluids to keep themselves healthy. You can also get your fluids from other sources. An estimated twenty percent should come from your food intake. Fruit and vegetables are a particularly good source. H20 is the essential substance of human life; make sure you're getting enough of it. Otherwise, you'll find that your energy levels are greatly reduced and your overall sense of well being will be lessened.


E numbers & healthy eating

Essentially food additives, E Numbers have been passed for safety by the EU. The E originally stood for European Community, which is now known as the European Union. By law, their presence has to be listed in the ingredients of products. While E numbers have passed scientific tests that are intended to prove they are not harmful to human health, there is still considerable debate over whether they can have negative consequences. Some people suffer from allergies to certain additives and knowing which e numbers to watch out for can help you to avoid the ones that don't agree with you.

Food additives include preservatives, flavourings and colours, which are used to enhance the look of food or lengthen the amount of time it remains safe to consume. As food in the Western world is increasingly processed, as opposed to freshly produced, the amount of additives has steadily grown. While some experts point out that these help to avoid the dangers of food poisoning from produce that has gone off, others question whether the amount of chemicals added to our food has got out of hand. Some food additives have been accused of causing hyperactivity in children while others of increasing the risk of developing cancer. The amount of danger involved is quite difficult to prove as different people can react differently to different chemicals. It's generally worth paying attention to what you are consuming, however, so that you can strike a balance between what's natural and what's artificial in your diet.


 

You are what you eat

The expression 'you are what you eat' has become such a clich? that few of us consider its significance. While eating nothing but pizza won't actually turn you into a pizza, the truth remains that your body processes food into new cells and the energy required to keep them running. It is in this sense that you are what you eat. Your diet has a direct impact on how you look and feel as well as how well and how long you are likely to live. Keeping the pounds off is not just about controlling how much you consume but also thinking about how your body will deal with what you put into it. 'You are what you eat' is a useful saying to bear in mind next time you're tempted to shove some greasy, fatty, sugar loaded concoction down your throat. Although your body can tell you when you're hungry, it can't tell you what it needs you to consume. It's important to make sure you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, to keep your body ticking over properly. A lack of balance in your diet can lead to forms of malnutrition where you feel constantly tired, run down, and lacking in vitality. This may not be because you're not eating enough, but rather that you're not eating the right foods. Not eating properly can affect you not only physically but also your ability to concentrate, complete tasks efficiently and the functioning of your brain. Dieting and exercise can help to make you feel fitter, but at the most basic level what really counts is an understanding of nutrition, the science of nourishing the body. When you ensure that you're getting all the proper nutrients you need, your whole being will feel happier and healthier.


Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are essential in the sense that your body cannot produce them and you must therefore include them in your diet. They are also considered essential fatty acids because of their importance for human health. Not all fats are bad for you; in fact, EFAs help the body to breakdown and get rid of unhealthy saturated fats. As necessary for life as vitamins and minerals, the full significance of essential fatty acids has recently become increasingly recognised.

There are different types of EFAs but one of the most important is Omega-3s. These are vital for the creation of cell walls that are supple and flexible. They help to produce haemoglobin in the blood and with the transfer of oxygen around the body. They are also fundamental to how our bodies are able to turn food efficiently into energy. This makes them of particular importance to growing children. Omega-3 deficiency is thought to be a major cause of poor health in Western countries, particularly in the US. Symptoms include depression, obesity, heart and circulatory problems, growth retardation, tingling sensations in the arms and legs as well as a reduced ability to fight off infections.

Heat, light and oxygen can destroy EFAs; so it's better to try to consume them in a raw, rather than a cooked, form. For example, raw nuts are likely to have a higher content than roasted nuts. Heating olive oil may also weaken the EFAs it contains so try to include some uncooked oil in your diet.


Food additives & healthy eating

As a standard, food additives come in many different forms. Some of the best known include preservatives, colours and flavours, such as sweeteners. Food additives are generally considered to be any substance added to food to help it maintain quality, taste, and texture. These chemicals have grown enormously as part of the Western diet as we consume more and more processed food. While food additives help to preserve food and reduce the chances of food poisoning from eating what is no longer fresh, they are also thought to potentially cause harm to our bodies.

There is considerable debate over how much of a negative impact the different chemicals added to foods can have. While the Food Standards Agency points out that all these substances must pass scientific tests to ensure they are not damaging to human health, others continue to express concern over their effects on certain people. Some are thought to cause hyperactivity in children. Hyperactive children typically have short attention spans as well as being excitable and aggressive. The causes of hyperactivity are not fully understood but some research has shown that changing a child's diet can, in some cases, help to solve the problem. Other reactions to preservatives that have been reported include asthma and other allergic reactions. The debate is complicated by the fact that not all of us respond to either natural food or chemicals in the same way. If you know you are sensitive to allergies, it's probably worth paying attention to what has been added to your food. Also, while processed food is not necessarily harmful, it's important to include some fresh food in order to have a balanced diet.


Food intolerances & healthy diets

The definition of food intolerance is when eating a particular type of food causes an adverse reaction in your body. It does include allergies but they are just one form of food intolerance. It's not the same as disliking the taste of particular foods or finding them objectionable. Rather it is based on biochemical reactions within the body. Symptoms can include asthma, vomiting, eczema, fatigue and depression.

One type of food intolerance is caused by the lack of certain enzymes that the body needs to break down certain foods. For example, some people are lactase deficient. As lactase is needed to digest dairy products, they have difficulties after drinking milk or eating cheese, yoghurt, chocolate etc. Another common problem is people who are gluten intolerant. Gluten is a protein found in wheat products and sufferers report that cutting gluten from their diet makes them feel much healthier. Certain food additives are also thought to produce adverse reactions in certain people.

Why some people react badly to particular foods is not entirely known. It is thought that our bodies produce certain antigens, which are a vital part of our ability to fight off infection and other harmful substances. However, allergies occur when the body has an immune reaction to what is essentially a harmless substance. They are often genetic and people who suffer from food allergies may be vulnerable to other allergic reactions, such as to house dust or pets. If you're allergic to certain foods, then eating them may result in your body releasing histamine. This in turn can lead to swelling, headaches, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you suspect your body may not deal with a type of food very well, try cutting it from your diet for a while to see if you feel better without it.


Healthy fish foods

Healthy fish foods are not only very good for you; they can also be perfectly delicious. There's plenty of variety in recipes that are for the most part cheap and easy to make. More and more people are turning to fish foods as a vital healthy part of a balanced diet.

But why is eating healthy fish foods so important? Research has shown that they can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes. This is because they tend to be low in saturated fat, which clogs up our arteries causing high blood pressure and other serious problems. Of course, if you fry them up in lots of oil or dip them in batter, this greatly increases their fat content. But perhaps even more importantly than the lack of fat is the fact that most species, particularly cod, mackerel, salmon and tuna, tend to be high in omega-3 oil. Omega-3 actually helps to prevent blood clots in the arteries and to keep them in good shape. It's generally recommended that you should eat an average of two fish meals a week. These meals are also high in protein and therefore an excellent source of energy. They're a good source of calcium, which helps to prevent osteoporosis. This is particularly true of canned sardines as well as whitebait where the bones are easy to eat. It's especially good for those suffering from, or at risk of developing, diabetes and is even thought to help prevent asthma in children. However, the levels of mercury and other pollutants present in some species have given rise to concern, so it's worth being aware of where your meal is coming from.


Hydrogenated fats in your diet

In the beginning, hydrogenated fats are those that start out as being of the harmless unsaturated kind. However, as hydrogen is added through processing, they become more solid and dangerous. Hydrogenated fats are found in many different types of processed food from soups to chips to pastries. There are also in frozen pizza as well as deep fried foods such as donuts and chicken. One of the most common sources is margarine and vegetable oil.

The problem with hydrogenated fats or lipids is that they can lead to high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol in turn causes fat to build up in the arteries so that they narrow and harden. This leads to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. While many people are aware that eating large amounts of butter and other products high in saturated fat is not good for them, less are aware of the dangers of what may be found in margarines and other products. If these lipids have gone through a hydrogenation process in order to make the product last longer, this means of preservation may turn them into a more solidified form. For example, corn oil in its natural state is good for you but when producers add hydrogen to preserve it, it becomes a source of harm. This is because it now contains what is known as trans fats. These are thought to be just as dangerous as saturated fats, yet manufacturers are not legally required to list their presence. Therefore, it's important to keep a careful eye on potentially harmful substances that you may unwittingly be consuming.


Iron deficiency

If you are feeling weak, iron deficiency may be what you are suffering from. This leads to iron deficiency anaemia, a condition where there is a decrease in the amount of red blood cells in the blood. Symptoms include paleness, dizziness, shortness of breath, brittle nails, headaches, decreased appetite, feelings of exhaustion and an overall lack of energy. Some sufferers also report always feeling cold as iron deficiency means that your body is less able to regulate its temperature.

The reason this mineral is so vital to life is that it helps form haemoglobin, the part of your blood that is responsible for carrying oxygen. People with this kind of anaemia tend to feel tired all the time because their bodies are being systematically starved of oxygen. They also are unable to produce enough myoglobin, which helps the cells in your muscles to store oxygen. Women are more vulnerable to anaemia because of the blood loss caused by menstruation and because their bodies store less iron than men. Other factors that can lead to anaemia include pregnancy, growth spurts or blood loss due to haemorrhaging. However often the problem is a question of diet as sufferers are not getting a high enough daily intake. You also need to consider your body's ability to absorb what you eat. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb this mineral better. Vegetarians can be at risk because they do not eat red meat but vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, are also excellent sources. If you are worried that you are anaemic, ask your doctor for a simple blood test to find out.


Get your oily fish

Why should you make sure you get your oily fish? While the phrase oily fish may not conjure images of scrumptious delicious meals, there are very important reasons why getting your oily fish is vital to a healthy diet. Eel, herring, kipper, mackerel, pilchards, sardines, salmon, trout and whitebait are all included so there's also no reason why it can't be tasty as well as good for you.

The key element here is that they all contain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids have proven to help reduce the risk of a fatal heart attack and other forms of heart disease. They're also thought to be particularly good for expectant mothers and those who are breastfeeding. This is because before, and immediately after birth, they help develop the central nervous system.

It is, however, possible to have too much of a good thing so you should avoid eating more than two portions per week. (One portion being approximately one hundred and forty grams.) This is because of industrial pollutants that may be in the fish that can become harmful if eaten in excessive quantities over a long period.

It's all about finding the right balance and making sure you get the right amount of what you do need. While you can enjoy your omega 3 whether it comes canned, frozen or fresh, bear in mind that not all forms have the same levels present. For instance, while fresh tuna is a good source, canned is not as the process involved reduces the amount of omega 3.


Too much salt

Most of us are vaguely aware that too much salt is not good for us. Yet, few really understand just how dangerous too much salt can be. This essential flavouring that we liberally sprinkle over everything we eat can be a real threat to human health if consumed in excessive quantities.

Too much salt essentially means that we absorb more sodium than our bodies actually need. Sodium in itself is a vital substance that helps to regulate the amount of water in your blood. It does this by helping to hold water inside the blood vessels. However, sodium becomes a problem in large quantities because it causes excessive amounts of water to be held in the blood. This increases the volume of blood pumping through your veins, which in turn puts increased pressure on your heart. This causes you to develop high blood pressure, a potentially life threatening condition as it greatly increases the risk of you suffering a heart attack, stroke or developing kidney disease. Between approximately 1000 and 3000 mg of sodium per day is all most people need. However, the daily intake of many people in the Western world is over twice this. Sodium is found in high quantities in many snacks and junk food as well as other types of processed foods. It really is worth paying attention to your consumption of this extremely common, but far from harmless, ingredient.


Low calorie diet

If you are trying to lose weight, low calorie diets can be a good way to go. Calorie consumption of around 800 per day is considered to be a very low calorie diet. It is, however essential to consult medical advice prior to embarking upon any type of diet, especially a low calorie diet. The recommended duration of such eating habits should not really exceed three to six months as the consequences may prove to be harmful to your health as opposed to beneficial. Short term weight loss results are good but in the long term, dieting alone may not produce the results you're after.

Low calorie diets should only be used by people who are overweight or obese and although they can be extremely useful in the quest to lose weight, they can also be dangerous as energy levels may be too low or inadequate for your daily requirements. By losing significant amounts of weight, you can effectively reduce various risks to your health. These risks include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Dieting alone though cannot help you to achieve long term or sustainable weight loss results. A sensible eating plan in combination with taking regular exercise is the key to ensuring you have the ability to lose weight effectively and efficiently over a prolonged period of time.

Side effects of such diets include deficiency diseases which may arise through insufficient nutrients in the diet and such conditions as diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness, constipation and sometimes nausea. Although they are usually only short term side effects, they can pose health problems if this type of restricted calorie consumption continues for longer than about six months.

The problem with any diet plan is that it will not help you to achieve long term, sustainable results unless it is combined with regular physical activity. However, with a dramatic reduction in calorie consumption, exercise can be dangerous as energy levels are so depleted. Children, pregnant women or those suffering from illnesses should avoid such diets and before embarking upon this or any restricted calorie diet plan, a doctor or medical professional should be consulted to ensure you're eating sensibly and safely. .

Our opinion:

A very cautious approval for this route. You will lose weight, but this is only to be undertaken with medical guidance due to ease of deficiency diseases and very low energy levels.

Low Carb Diet

The essential things to know about low carb diets are that they are predominantly based upon the theory that consuming fewer carbohydrates ensures that the body produces less insulin. This means you utilise fat and protein (which is stored within the body) to provide energy. Low carb diets are well known and highly useful for enabling you to achieve excellent weight loss results. Examples of famous low carb diets include the Atkins, the Zone, the Scarsdale and Ketogenic diets. You can find reviews of these and more within our pages.

The body is in a state of ketosis when low carb diets are introduced. This means that the body is being forced to use up fat stores as opposed to carbohydrates as the main source of energy. This can result in tiredness and nausea. By almost completely reducing your carbohydrate intake (such as bread, pasta and rice) and increasing the amount of fat (such as butter) and protein (meat, fish and poultry) that you consume in your daily diet, you can actually burn calories simply through metabolism - in essence you can lose weight just by eating!

Calories from certain types of food differ. Carbohydrates contain calories that are used up almost immediately by the body whereas fat and protein calories take longer to break down and this means the body actually burns up more calories through metabolism. They can be helpful for weight loss and most people that try them agree that the results are promising and weight loss is rapid. These diets are ideal therefore if you're trying to lose weight quickly for a special event, for example.

Although this may seem like a great initial solution to your weight problems, it isn't all so straightforward. Health issues may arise for various reasons. Essential vitamins and minerals, required by the body for functionality and important processes are often lacking from such diets. These deficiencies can lead to diseases such as anaemia and scurvy. The kidneys and liver are also required to work much harder than usual due to all the extra protein in the diet. The problem is also that most of the weight loss is predominantly through water loss and lean muscle. Upon reverting to a more regular diet, people tend to struggle to maintain constant weight control. This is basically due to a decrease in lean muscle which is necessary for maintaining the metabolic rate. Long term testing is yet to be done so the prolonged effects on the body remain undetermined..

Our opinion:

You will lose weight this way. However, the majority of your weight loss will come from loss of water and muscle tissue, not fat, which unfortunately for long term weight management is what you need.

Low Fat Diet

For a relatively simple route to sustainable weight loss, low fat diets can be the answer you've been looking for. You should gain about a third of your daily calorie intake from fat. Carbohydrates with a low Glycaemic Index should also be included in the diet regularly. Low fat diets should usually comprise of about 1200-1500 calories per day and are an excellent way of gaining sustainable weight loss and control when taken as part of a healthy lifestyle involving not just healthy eating, but also regular physical activity. Most calories that you consume should, ideally come from carbohydrates. Many low fat diets recommend this and suggest that eating sugary, salty or processed foods should be avoided.

With low fat diets, weight loss is usually sustainable as the initial amount of weight that you lose is fairly small, around 2lbs per week. This means that dieters can generally maintain weight loss as opposed to other diets where people can experience a greater initial weight loss more rapidly but the results are much harder to maintain and when they revert to their usual eating habits, they tend to gain weight more quickly.

Some fats are god for you too. These include monounsaturated fats found in sunflower or olive oil, for example which are helpful at keeping the heart healthy. Reducing saturated fats and increasing monounsaturated fats is highly recommended for providing excellent health benefits. Oily fish such as mackerel contains omega-3 fatty acids which can prove to be extremely healthy for your heart. You should also try to limit the amount of hydrogenated oils you consume as these can elevate blood cholesterol levels which can lead to a higher risk of developing heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Generally, it is a good idea to replace fats that are bad for you (saturated) with those that are healthier for you (polyunsaturated). Saturated fats can be found in such foods as butter, some vegetable oils and fats in meat. Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and are found in foods such as sesame oils, olive oil, fish and nuts.

Our opinion:

Slow weight loss equals more sustainable weight loss in the long term - however the bad news is?.. you still have to have the willpower to keep on the straight and narrow.

Low cholesterol

In general, low cholesterol levels are one of the keys to a long and healthy life. This is because while a certain low level is essential as fat is an important source of energy; a high percentage can kill you. The way to make sure you have low cholesterol intake is to pay attention to what you eat.

Cholesterol is produced largely in your liver through processing saturated fat. If you consume too much saturated fat, it can build up in your arteries as a kind of plaque and may eventually block them. Partial blockage leads to heart disease and pains associated with angina. When blood flow to the heart becomes completely blocked, this causes you to have a heart attack. If the blood flow to the brain is blocked, you may suffer a stroke. Therefore foods high in saturated fats should be avoided. Saturated means that these fats are solid at room temperature. However some vegetable oils have been 'hydrogenated', a chemical process which means that they also are in fact saturated. Try eating carbohydrates as a source of energy rather than fatty foods such as chips, cakes, and deep-fried processed foods. Saturated fats are also found mainly in full fat milk and fatty meat. In addition to limiting your intake of saturated fat, it's also a good idea to watch the amount of salt in your diet as this also increases blood pressure and the strain on your heart. It's also important to keep your weight down and to exercise regularly to prevent fat building up in your body.


Low Fat Diet

In our Q&A for low fat diets, we look at some of the key questions, and possible answers, that come up when discussing the value of low fat diets. Perhaps the most common Q&A has to do with why go on a low fat diet in the first place?

There are in fact a number of good reasons. The most important of which may be that high consumption of saturated fat has been proven to lead to high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can build up on the inside of your arteries thereby partially restricting or blocking the flow of your blood. This in turn leads to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. High cholesterol levels are potentially fatal. So if you're worried, ask your doctor to test your cholesterol levels and advise you on what dietary restrictions you may need to make. In addition, fat is the body's way of storing energy. It is broken down for use far more slowly than proteins or carbohydrates and is therefore more likely to add to your overall weight. Being overweight or obese also puts considerable strain on your heart and on your body in general.

So should I be cutting out fat completely? It's over simplistic to describe fat as evil. It is in fact an important part of any healthy diet. The key here is what kinds of fat are you consuming? Unsaturated fats, such as that found in nuts, seeds, and oily fish, are in fact good for lowering your cholesterol levels and keeping your body's systems running efficiently. Saturated fats, such as those found in deep fried foods, chips, and cakes, are the ones that clog up your arteries and pile on the pounds. Watch out for hydrogenated fats that are often present in vegetable oils. These are fats that used to be unsaturated but have been chemically processed so that they are now as dangerous as saturated fats.


High fibre diet

A high fibre diet comprises of consuming carbs that cannot be digested. This means that you don't actually consume any calories from eating them. An example is the F plan. Eating lots of roughage can help you to gain feelings of satiety and promote weight loss as you tend to reduce the need to snack between meals. A high fibre diet, with low fat consists primarily of eating plenty of vegetables, wholegrain cereals, bread, pasta, bran, brown rice, pulses and fruits. The F plan recommends restricting calorie consumption to around 850-1500 calories per day. Eating a high fibre diet therefore means that you can lose weight more easily. Eating a wide range of different types of foods containing both soluble and insoluble fibre also means that you get a better array of essential nutrients and this can produce obvious health advantages.

The government suggests that an average of 18g of fibre each day is sufficient for adults. High fibre diets can prove to help with preventing constipation and associated problems such as piles and bowel cancer due to the fact that it can assist with maintaining a healthy digestive system as well as helping to lower blood cholesterol and therefore reduce the risk of developing heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

If that wasn't enough, such dietary plans as the F plan can also offer you benefits such as helping you to maintain constant blood sugar levels by reducing the rate at which carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into the blood. These types of food are packed with excellent nutrients and the vitamins and minerals found in them can also help to promote health benefits.

The main downside of consuming this type of food is that flatulence may result. Gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen are formed in the intestines and bloating can be another disadvantage. Although this is usually only a short term issue, it can be a little uncomfortable. You can avoid this through introducing fibre into the diet slowly. Without complimenting the intake of roughage with extra liquids, constipation can occur as fibre tends to soak up the fluids you consume. Overall, for sustainable weight loss results, this type of diet is excellent.

Our opinion:

Apart from the wind, this is a good way to lose weight and less risky than some other routes like low calorie intake.

Appetite control & dieting

In general, appetite control is considered one of the keys to successful weight loss. It's not about some magic potion that will stop you feeling hungry however. Achieving appetite control involves accepting that a certain amount of hunger is normal and that this is the body's way of telling you that you need food. Starving yourself will only succeed in teaching your body that it needs to hold on to fat for as long as possible. Far more effective is incorporating appetite control into a healthy and well balanced diet where calorie intake is controlled.

For in fact it's not so much a question of how much you eat as what you eat. At least initially your stomach cannot tell the difference between being full up with vegetables or full up with cheeseburgers. Yet the ratio of calorie intake to energy required for digestion can be huge. You can eat vast quantities of cabbage without gaining a single pound. The same is not true for greasy chips. Therefore the trick is to eat foods that make you feel full but don't expand your waistline. This is why foods high in fibre but low in saturated fat are the way to go. If you experience hunger pangs, try eating an apple or a bowl of bran cereal with skimmed milk. These high fibre foods fill up your stomach and take longer to digest so that more time will pass before you feel hungry again. Other options include drinking water, which is a natural way to suppress hunger, and eating lots of salad with low calorie dressing.


High fibre food

In most instances, high fibre food is particularly good for you for a number of reasons. For a start, eating high fibre food prevents constipation. In fact, overall it's very healthy for your digestive processes. This is because high fibre food takes longer to digest so that your stomach and small intestine empty more slowly. This contributes to giving you a feeling of fullness so you won't get hungry again as quickly after eating and are therefore less likely to overeat. This slower digestion also reduces the risk of your body producing what's known as an 'insulin surge' to cope with a sudden absorption of glucose into the blood. Sometimes when food is digested very quickly, it causes your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly leading to over insulin production which can in turn lead to diabetes.

In addition to how it helps you digest food at a slower pace, it's thought that these types of foods can also help prevent the development of rectal cancer and haemorrhoids. Good sources include fruits, vegetables and nuts as well as brown bread, brown rice, and brown flakes. The emphasis on the brown here is because white bread and rice have been processed so that much of their vitamins, minerals and fibre have been stripped away. Similarly, try to go for wholegrain pasta and breakfast cereals and check the content listed in the ingredients. To be considered a good source, a product should have at least three grams per one hundred grams. Make sure you're getting what you need as part of a healthy balanced diet.


High Fibre Sample Plan

This high fibre sample plan is a rough guide to getting enough roughage. It is vital for your body to process enough of this kind of food in order for your digestive processes to work properly. With our high fibre sample plan, you can keep healthy and avoid constipation. The principle advantage of these foods is that they take longer for your body to digest. This slow digestion helps to keep you from feeling hungry and consuming more calories than you need. It can also be very important in preventing serious conditions such as diabetes and rectal cancer. So start today with our high fibre sample plan and give your body more of what it needs.

  • For breakfast, begin with a bowl of bran flakes or Weetabix plus some healthy fruit such as an apple or a banana. Indeed if you feel like a snack between meals, fruit, dried or fresh, is an excellent healthy alternative. Dried apricots or figs are particularly recommended.

  • For lunch, you could try some wholemeal bread with lentil soup or skinless chicken.

  • For dinner, how about a jacket potato with cheddar cheese, beans and salad? Or you could try wholegrain rice or pasta with beef.

Make sure you get plenty of vegetables such as cabbage and celery. It's much better to leave the skins on, particularly for potatoes. Try to use skimmed milk. It's also good to remember that brown is healthier than white when it comes to most foods, including bread, pasta and rice.

Dietary sources of fibre

What are the best dietary sources of fibre? What's the best way to get this essential part of our daily intake? Dietary sources of fibre are basically from the part of plants that we're not able to fully digest. You won't find it in meat. You might wonder why you need something that your digestive system isn't able to break down. The reason is basically that it keeps your colon working properly so that you don't become constipated. This also helps avoid other digestive problems and even more serious conditions like rectal cancer, diabetes and heart disease. By making sure you have in your diet good dietary sources of fibre, you're ensuring that you keep your whole system on track.

The problem with many processed foods, including cereals, is that much of the goodness has been removed from them through the industrial processes used to make them. This is why it's worth checking out the listings on the packet. As a general rule of thumb, wholegrain pasta, brown bread and brown rice are less likely to have been stripped of their content than the white versions of the same products. In order to be able to put high in fibre on their packaging, foods must contain more than six grams per serving. Most people eat less than fifteen grams of this vital substance per day. Recommended intake is approximately twenty-five grams per day. So try to make sure you're eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as cereal that have a high content.


High protein diet

The premise behind high protein diets is that you have an energy deficit. This basically means that if you indulge in a high protein diet (such as Protein Power), which is low in fat and carbs, you can lose weight if you consume less energy than you utilise each day. So in reality it is not the high protein diet that can assist you with losing weight but instead simply the reduction in calories compared to the amount used up each day.

It is true however that protein consumption can actually help to suppress your appetite. Therefore you consume fewer calories and essentially lose weight. Much like eating fibre, high protein diets can induce the feeling of fullness so you're less likely to feel hungry and thus reducing your desires for eating. This can also help you to avoid snacking which is often a cause of increased calorie consumption in your daily diet.

Metabolism is also increased through eating protein such as lean meat, fish, poultry and some dairy products so these foods can assist with weight loss as more calories can be burned. The problem once again though is the lack of a balanced diet. Without consuming sufficient quantities of protein, fat and carbohydrates as well as fibre, you tend to limit the amount of essential vitamins and minerals you receive through your diet. If you don't take multivitamin supplements to compliment your diet, you may suffer from such nutrient deficiency diseases as osteoporosis and anaemia.

Such diets are therefore highly useful for achieving sustainable weight loss results. However, to ensure you are eating healthily is not always enough. To maintain weight loss and control on a permanent basis you need to establish sensible targets and you shouldn't expect instant results. Also, the best way to achieve your weight loss targets and maintain them is to combine healthy eating with regular physical activity. This way, you can get the results you're after more quickly and most importantly in a sustainable way. You should consult medical advice and ensure you are eating the right amounts of the right foods and that your exercise regime is sensible and catered to suit your personal requirements. .

Our opinion:

Provided you ensure a balanced intake of vitamins and minerals, this can be a successful route to weight loss. It relies on your consuming less calories than you use up each day. Simple really.