Busted Diet Myths
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Leading dietician Lyndel Costain says: 'People tend to think they need a low-fat diet to lose weight, but you should still have a third of your calories coming from fat.'
The body needs fat for energy, tissue repair and to transport vitamins A, D, E and K around the body.
Lyndel Costain adds: 'As a guideline, women need 70g of fat a day (95g for men) with 30g as the minimum (40g for men).
'There's no need to follow a fat-free diet. Cutting down on saturated fats and eating unsaturated fats, found in things like olive oil and avocados, will help.
This may be true in the short term, but ultimately it can hinder weight loss.
Claire MacEvilly, a nutritionist at the MRC Human Nutrition Research Centre in Cambridge, explains: 'Losing weight over the long term burns off fat. Crash dieting or fasting not only removes fat but also lean muscle and tissue.'
The loss of lean muscle causes a fall in your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories your body needs on a daily basis.
This means your body will need fewer calories than it did previously, making weight gain more likely once you stop dieting.
It's also why exercise is recommended in any weight-loss plan to build muscle and maintain your metabolic rate.
Claire MacEvilly adds: 'Fasting can also make you feel dizzy or weak so it's much better to try long-term weight loss.'
Many diets tell you not to eat after a certain time in the evening. They say the body will store more fat because it is not burned off with any activity.
A study at the Dunn Nutrition Centre in Cambridge suggests otherwise.
Volunteers were placed in a whole body calorimeter, which measures calories burned and stored.
They were fed with a large lunch and small evening meal for one test period, then a small lunch and large evening meal during a second test period.
The results revealed the large meal eaten late at night did not make the body store more fat.
It's not when you eat that's important, but the total amount you consume in a 24-hour period.
Lyndel Costain adds: 'It is true that people who skip meals during the day, then eat loads in the evening are more likely to be overweight than those who eat regularly throughout the day.
'This may be because eating regular meals helps people regulate their appetite and overall food intake.'