Health and fitness expert Saskia Gregson-Williams exclusively told Express.co.uk readers what they should learn – and unlearn – about food as they embark on their weight loss journey.
Myth 1: Eating fats makes you fat
Saskia exclusively told Express.co.uk: “People often believe they need to steer clear of all fats to avoid putting on weight.”
And while this can be true of processed and frozen foods which are high in saturated fats, there are several healthy, unsaturated fats, too.
These are found in foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
Saskia told readers: “Consuming more calories than you burn is the real reason you gain weight, regardless of where the calories come from.”
Rather than being afraid of fat, the expert suggested that “roughly 30 percent of your daily calories” should come from them.
“But choose good fats which are linked to improved immunity, cardiovascular functioning and brain functioning, as well as reduced inflammation.”
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Myth 2: Detox diets are important for a healthy lifestyle
Saskia explained: “Detox diets have become more and more popular in the wellness industry in recent years, which claim to rid toxins from the body and even help issues like obesity, bloating and digestive problems.”
However, the expert revealed that there is “little research to support this” – so dieters needn’t follow these intense calorie restricted diets in order to see results.
“In reality, you don’t need to bother with these to be healthy because they aren’t actually cleansing you of anything – the body is actually very good at removing toxins itself.
“What’s more, detox diets can actually be unhealthy.”
There are several drawbacks of detox diets; because the body isn’t getting enough protein, crash dieters can suffer “nausea, dehydration and light-headedness”, not to mention compromising the immune system.
Myth 3: A balanced diet must include meat
It is absolutely possible to be meat-free and healthy, according to this expert.
“Most vegetarians and vegans have been told that it’s unhealthy to cut meat out of their diets. For example, ‘where will you get your iron from?’ is a common question.”
While meatless eaters can run the risk of falling short of iron, as well as essential nutrients such as vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, with the “right planning”, this can be amended.
Saskia explained: “Nuts, pulses and leafy green vegetables are all sources of iron, while soya-based foods contain omega-3, and you can buy things like cereals and unsweetened soya drinks that have been fortified with vitamin B12.”
Myth 4: Fruit is bad for you because it contains too much sugar
The weight loss discourse around fruit can be complicated and confusing, with some experts recommending that dieters get their five-a-day, and others shunning fruit because they are high in sugar.
Saskia debunked the myth once and for all.
“Does that mean we should ditch fruit? Absolutely not.
“Firstly, fruit contains natural sugars, like fructose, rather than processed sugars which pose risks like tooth decay and weight gain.
“Natural sugars are harmless unless in excessive amounts, and while it’s easy to over consume artificial sugars in food and drink, it’s very difficult to consume excessive amounts of fructose by eating fruit.”
Myth 5: White potatoes are bad for you
“White potatoes have developed a bit of a bad reputation in recent years, with sweet potatoes often considered the healthier alternative.”
However, Saskia had some good news for potato lovers.
She revealed: “White potatoes can be part of a healthy diet depending on how they are prepared and processed,” but she added one caveat.
“It goes without saying that baking or boiling them is going to be much better for you than frying them or mashing them with lots of butter.
“White potatoes are full of essential nutrients and vitamins, fibre and high-quality protein, and the carbohydrate content makes them a great source of energy.”