Woman’s Own: Diet facts v fiction

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    Struggling to lose weight? Diet guru Monica Grenfell sorts through the myths and old-wives’ tales and tells you the real secrets to be slim – forever!

    ‘I’m from an overweight family so it’s in my genes. There’s nothing I can do about it’


    Obesity and thinness do tend to run in families but it is nothing to do with genes – It’s what’s called ‘shared environment’. Children with obese parents copy their habits, like watching a lot of TV and having sweets as a reward. If you don’t see parents going for long walks, you less likely to think about doing it yourself. Also, people love to be told there is a gene to explain their weight problem. Studies on twins found that a genetic link is small, about I in 10 million people.

     ‘Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you exercise you’ll gain weight’


    Muscle is 22% heavier than the same size portion of fat, but it is also denser and metabolically ‘active’, meaning it has a blood supply and a job to do, This is why a muscular body uses more calories than fat, even when you are not exercising. Fat is much less dense and does nothing but sit there! Think of it another way – a 10 stone body that is more muscle is much smaller and tighter than a ten stone body that is mostly fat. Never get hung up on what you weigh, but what that weight consists of = fat or muscle?

    ‘I’m over 50 – there’s no point in trying to lose weight or get fit at my age’


    We can’t prevent the ageing process but we have total control over the rate our bodies age. Small, age-related changes, like joint stiffness usually start around 65 and are inevitable. Changes due to lack of use, however, can occur at any age, and are reversible and preventable. It is never too late to begin a diet rich in antioxidants, fish oil supplements, milk and colourful vegetables. It will show benefits in a matter of weeks. Fitness and beauty are in the mind, so is lack of fitness. I firmly believe if you convince yourself you are past it, and you will be!

    ‘When you diet, your body goes into starvation mode’


    is not as drastic as it sounds. Energy is needed for everything we do,
    and that includes eating and digesting food. If you are not eating, your
    body has nothing to do and it uses less energy, but there is no special
    ‘starvation mode’ and bodies are not ruined by years of yo-yo dieting.
    The most important thing for your body is routine – similar amounts of
    food at regular times of the day, routine sleep and routine exercise. The body likes a regular pattern.

    ‘Cutting carbs doesn’t have any effect on weight loss’


    Cutting calories is the only way to guarantee weight loss.

    ‘Eating in the evening is bad because you can’t burn it off’


    is there to feed your growth and repair your body, not be ‘burned off’.
    The average person burns 480 calories while sleeping. The most
    important time to eat is at the end of the day, and the best foods are
    small portions of starch and dairy foods, such as rice pudding, risotto or jacket potatoes, eaten up to two hours before bed.