LIMIT FAT OR CARBS?
Should you go low fat or low carb if you want to lose weight? It’s a hotly debated question that a recent Californian study tackled head-on with interesting results. The researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine Randomly assigned 600 overweight and obese 18 to 50 year-olds to a low-fat low-carb diet and also tested them for genetic variants linked to diet as well as insulin response to glucose.During the trial, all participants had help from dieticians to keep their diet as low as they could sustain in either carbs or fat over the long term. They were encouraged to eat plenty of vegetables and fibre, while avoiding sugar and refined grains.The results? Ultimately it didn’t seem to matter that much which diet people ate!After a year, average weight loss for the low-fat and low-carb diets was very similar– 5.3kg and 6 kg respectively. Even more interestingly, those who had a genetic makeup and insulin response that should have predicted a better response to a low-carb diet did perfectly well on a low-fat diet and vice versa.The authors say what predicts success was not low fat or low carbs, but eating more mindfully, cooking at home more often and focusing on whole foods. So the take-home message is don’t get hung up about the carb or fat content of your diet,but find a sustainable, enjoyable and healthy diet you can stick to.
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BOOST BABY’S BRAIN
If you’re pregnant, you’ll no doubt be taking folic acid and possibly some vitamin D and iron too. But it could betime to add the lesser-known choline,found in egg yolks, red meat, fish, poultry and nuts, to the list. Choline is needed for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter in the brain, and in a recent study at America’s Cornell University, information-processing speeds were found to be higher in the babies of a group of expectant mums who consumed 930 mg choline per day during pregnancy compared with a group that took 480 mg per day over the same period. Though The study was small, it suggests that pregnant women may not be getting optimal amounts of choline from food and that a high-dose supplement might boost a baby’s cognitive abilities.Try taking one to three Solgar Choline 350 Mg capsules (£9.44 for 100 from luckyvitamin.co.uk) a day to boost your intake to the suggested levels.
STUBBORN STOMACH FAT
Q Is there a way to specifically target belly fat?
A Unfortunately, it’s impossible to significantly spot-reduce or alter where your body deposits or loses fat from, which can be genetically determined and also affected by your age and hormones. You can tone your stomach muscles with targeted core exercises, but the muscle won’t emerge until you’ve shed the overlying fat. Try cutting down on refined carbs such as sugar and white flour and having a lower-glycaemic-index diet rich in whole grains. This can help reduce circulating insulin levels, which may help minimise stomach fat. There’s also some evidence that people who eat a diet higher in calcium from dairy may be slimmer round the midriff – it’s thought that the more calcium there is in a fat cell, the more fat the cell will burn.