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The crimes against weight loss in your fridge
An ordinary, healthy fridge... or so it would seem. No matter how vigilant your nutrition, weight-loss killers can still give you the slip. Research from Norwich Union Healthcare shows most weight-loss plans are dead within a month of starting. Sugar, hidden calories and low-fat foods that are anything but healthy can deceive you into thinking youre following a sensible diet, when youre just as prone to weight gain as ever. To find the true culprits, the MHnutrition lab has bagged and tagged the contents of your fridge, and is on hand to solve the weight-loss case.
Treats like cake may be prime suspects, but in this case they are nothing more than red herrings. Studies from the National Weight Control Registry show people who keep weight off dont avoid their favourite foods, they simply limit their intake of them. By denying your urges youre more likely to embark on a mid-afternoon crime spree with an entire packet of chocolate fingers.
Case solvedThe key to getting away with it is how often and how much you allow yourself. Research shows people are satisfied with smaller portions of strong flavours, so pick dark chocolate or strong cheddar. There are 280 calories in a wolfed-down-in-five-seconds Mars bar. But each square in a 100g bar of Dark 85% Green &Blacks chocolate contains just 23 calories and 2.1g of fat. Take a square of dark chocolate after lunch or dinner its one good reason to be behind bars.
You might think fruit juice comes calorie-free, but that would be a case of mistaken identity. Two small glasses (300ml) gives you 114kcal and 30g sugar (over 40% of your RDA). Increased sugar leads to more insulin in the body, storing glucose in your cells, which is later stored as fat.
Case solvedOpt for tomato or grapefruit juice, or switch to the hard stuff to get your five-a-day: a medium apple provides 47kcal and 12g of sugar but also 1.6g fibre, which slows sugar absorption.
A cut-and-dried case
Fruit is one of the usual suspects for low-calorie snacks but theyre not all innocent. Dried fruit has high energy density, with a lot of calories in a small space.
Case solvedThe higher the water content, the lower the calories. Grapes are 82% water compared to raisins 13%. A handful of grapes provides 60kcal and 15.4g of sugar, whereas a handful of raisins provides 82kcal and 21g of sugar.
Cooking too much foodinevitably leads to gluttony inthe second degree. And thosetempting leftovers in your fridgecan lead to a cycle of reoffending.Research from the Universityof Navarra, US, found snackingbetween meals increases yourobesity risk by 69%.
Case solvedWhen you haveleftovers, try to use them up inone meal rather than picking atthem for days. Youll save an extra364kcal finishing off that sliceof pizza or 130kcal smugglingin those onion bhajis.
Lets take a shot in thedark. This two-minute pastasauce suggests you eat quicklyand that can mean late. A study atNorthwestern University, US, foundeating late affects your circadianrhythms, slowing weight loss.
Case solvedIt takes 15 minutesfor your brain to tell youre full, soslow down youll eat 10% less ifyou take half an hour more eating.Plus an early supper will get you tobed earlier: theAnnals of InternalMedicinefound less than six hourssleep halves fat-burning potential.
The suspect is proneto skipping breakfast. A bad idea,as Imperial College London foundmissing the first meal of the daymakes you crave high-calorie foodslater. And beware of the cerealbar sugar makes up to 36% of theingredients in some cases.
Case solvedDo time at the tablewith muesli, natural yoghurt anda tin of peaches. This is low GIand research from the Universityof Nottingham found it increasesfat oxidisation during exercise andrest. If you really need breakfast onthe-go try Marmites savoury cerealbar. Its rich in B vitamins, whichare important for your metabolismand for lowering cholesterol.
Call in the forensics team for thisone. When we eat excess salt, ourbodies hold on to water to dilute it.The 2g of salt in a 100g serving ofolives can make your body retainup to 1.5 litres of fluid, causingweight gains of up to 2-3lb.
Case solvedCut salt intake witha new accomplice for starters.A handful of shelled prawns witha garlic and lemon marinadecontains just 99 calories andtrace levels of salt. Universityof London research found lowersaltdiets reduce the likelihoodof obesity, so you wont becarrying any dead weight.
Sian Porter is a registered dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
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