5 diet myths... busted!

Our expert answers your eating plan FAQs

Thinking about losing weight but want to make sure you’re doing it the healthy way? We approached Spinneys’ nutritionist Freda Molamphy with a few popular diet-based questions – here’s what she had to say:

Q: Should I stop eating past a certain time if I am trying to lose weight?
A: Generally speaking, the rule for losing weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn. Calories consumed during the day are burned off for energy and the excess is stored as glycogen in the liver. This glycogen is then released during the night while you sleep.

However, if you eat at night, because of your body’s inactivity when you sleep the calories that you’ve just consumed are not burned off as effectively and the excess is sent to the liver or stored as fat.

The best rule of thumb is to try and eat within a 12-hour timeframe (7am-7pm, 8am-8pm etc.) allowing your body time to recover for the 12 hours following that (7pm-7am).

Q: Is it better to have three square meals a day or to consume smaller meals more frequently?
A: It really depends on what suits your lifestyle. If you’re more inclined to have three meals, try to have your larger meals in the morning and afternoon with a light meal in the evening. But if your schedule is hectic or snacking is a habit of yours then five smaller meals spread throughout the day would probably fit you best. Just make sure that these are actually small meals and that you are not over-eating.

Q: Should I be going carb free?
A: You definitely should not be going carb free – low-carb is a better option. Cut out sweet, sugary carbs and focus on wholesome carbs such as pulses, wholegrains and starchy vegetables like potatoes. Do remember that fruit, delicious and healthy as it is, also contains a lot of sugars so try to reduce the fruit portions you eat and focus on the less-sweet varieties.

Q: Do I need to stick to ‘diet’ or low-fat foods if I am trying to lose weight?
A: Not at all. Many low-fat or ‘diet’ foods are manufactured using additional sugars and/or hydrogenated fats – the latter of which has very negative effects on the body as it increases our risk of high cholesterol and cardiac issues.

We all need some fat in our diet – it’s beneficial to our health and makes food more palatable. Certain fats, like those in nuts, seeds and oily varieties of fish provide essential fatty acids which we need for the manufacturing of certain hormones, to maintain healthy blood vessels and to keep up the correct functioning of our nervous system.

We also need the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are only supplied by foods containing good fats. It's better to eat a little of the healthier fats (fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, including avocados and olive oil) rather than cutting fat completely from the diet.

Q: Is cutting out gluten a good way to lose a few pounds?
A: A gluten-free diet is essential for those who suffer from coeliac disease, but there is no evidence to prove that it is effective for weight loss. In fact, in order to make them taste good gluten-free foods are often higher in GI, sugar and added fats while lower in overall nutrition and lacking in the fibre of their gluten-containing counterparts.

Rather than turning to gluten-free eating as a weight loss tool, focus on the amount of gluten-containing foods you eat (bread and cereals, for example), make sure you are eating the healthier varieties (like wholegrains, for example) and not overdoing portion sizes.

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