Personal trainer Rob Donker gives us his top ten diet myths and diet pet peeves. The things you cringe at; when your new client tells you they’ve been on the cabbage soup diet, that they’ve been on and off Slimming World for two years, that they only drink ‘diet’ sodas.... And only three pizzas and 12 pints a week - because they cut down.
Rob has a great approach to nutrition with his clients and in his own life. Everything is about realistic change over time and not trying to send the body into some rapid overnight change. He says: “Extreme or fad dieting is the complete opposite of sustainable long term change. It leads to regain and excessive regain of weight. Weight [as in what the scales say] and aesthetics come after health. Health must come first. The aesthetics and weight comes hand in hand with your health and fitness journey anyway but it should be the secondary goal. The lifestyle change is the priority.”
So in no particular order:
Weight loss does not necessarily mean fat loss: If after two days your body lets go of water retention, but it’s really because you’ve been eating so little, it’s not a fat loss miracle. Nothing happens that fast.
Diet products often contain ingredients that are actually counteractive to losing body fat: Soya protein for example; there’s a lot of literature showing that soya can actually raise estrogen levels, making it in fact harder to shift that body fat. Fructose is another one. In fruit, in its pure form, it’s ok because it has fiber content but it’s been shown to have a big impact on raising insulin levels.
Over priced products: These diet products just don’t stand up to their price. It should be top notch products for the kind of prices companies charge. If you’re educated [and that doesn’t mean formally, but there is so much solid information out there from sources such as Precise Nutrition, Livestrong etc] you can buy a lot better through buying simple whole foods.
Not every ‘low fat’ product is good for you: Often these foods are loaded with added sugars or chemically enhanced sugar alternatives. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. It will not help your weight loss goals, only elevate your insulin levels through the roof. Next time you pick up a low fat product, check the ingredients list and notice how many chemicals, additives, preservatives you can find. A full fat natural yogurt for example next to its low fat counterpart of the same brand....
The diet industry has actually demonised products which are good for you: Things like butter [people were told to eat low fat margarine - gross], egg yolk [this is where all the best nutrients are in the egg - the high cholesterol camp forgot to mention that], these are high quality foods, especially when you get a pure, organic butter and good organic eggs where you really notice the difference in the egg yolk. The diet industry talks about risks of stroke but for the majority of people, it doesn’t matter how much dietary cholesterol they eat. Cholesterol and all the good fat found in egg yolk is an integral part of our nutrients. Our brains are 90% cholesterol. When you take statins, you’re actually destroying your brain and your body’s ability to heal itself. It’s ridiculous that the medical industry are so blase about handing out medications.
Companies like Weight Watchers which base their systems on points, don’t value nutritional values of food: It’s all about the points which is as bad as calories, which encourages a culture of binge eating when people save up all their points for one crappy meal. It doesn’t make people independent and educated but sets them up for failure as it’s not a sustainable way to be.
Carbs are bad: Oh yes, the age old myth. Stop eating carbs and the weight just drops off. The reality is that your carbs should be aligned with your activity levels. If you’re smashing bowls of rice and not training, then maybe that’s excessive but if you’re mindful of your activity, and your carb consumption matches that, eat carbs! You need it not only for physical but mental function too. Too little carbs will soon show in your performance at work, your energy levels, your ability to sleep and general wellbeing.
Not all calories are created equal: Yes a calorie deficit is required to lose weight but the source of the calorie has a huge effect on the weight loss. You could eat 1,000 kcals of junk a day and get skinny fat but eat 10,000 kcals of meat and veg and have a good body shape [with the right training - not everyone should eat 10,000 kcals!]. Having the education to work out your calorie consumption is important and that’s why so many of these apps like My Fitness Pal are so good. You don’t need to be a trainer or nutritionist to do this. You’d be surprised how many calories you can pack away in a junky little meal vs how many you can eat in a good quality plate. It’s good to work with a professional to find your healthy deficit, to do the weight loss in a way that’s coaxing your body into giving away fat but not enough that it goes into shock and stress.
Liquid diets: Yes, people are still doing these. Firstly, itt kills the metabolism. It’s actually less possible to absorb nutrients when you do that. Juicing is a supplement not a diet and should be part of a balanced diet. The metabolism makes up for 30 per cent of your kcal consumption which is why it’s so important for your body to break down solid food. Chewing your food creates the saliva which makes the pancreas release insulin, the flow of digestive fluids. Why would you suppress something that the body naturally needs?
Fat burners -They won’t magic your weight away: Things like over the counter fat burners [think green tea extract, CLA, fat loss teas] may give you a 1% edge. Unless you’ve got the basics right, it’s not going to give you any advantage. Most people think it works because of the placebo effect. They start training better and eating better so they get the results but not because of the Dh300+ supplements.