Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:09

Can we lose weight without counting calories? by Dr Chris Van Tulleken

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Recently I have watched a programme on BBC regarding calories, what are the simple ways of losing weight and the importance of good and bad calories and I found it extremely interesting and informative.

The programme was presented by Dr Chris van Tulleken a doctor and a broadcaster. The programme was very well presented and explained by Dr Chris. It was straight to the point and easy to understand. So before writing this article I did some research on Dr Chris van Tulleken, to discover his amazing contribution to the world of global health.

Dr Chris and his identical twin brother Xand van Tulleken are both doctors and are both currently working on television projects examining different aspects of global health. They are two remarkably interesting people, the kind I would love to meet one day. If you wish to see their some of their work you can visit their website:

CALORIES by Dr. van Tulleken for BBC:

1. Do we have to count calories?

It's common knowledge that if you eat more calories than your body needs you will gain weight. But counting calories accurately is difficult and time consuming.

The good news is that it is easy to make yourself 'calorie aware'. This basically means understanding roughly how many calories you need to consume each day and which foods are surprisingly high in calories.

But are all calories the same when it comes to weight gain and loss? And how much does exercise help? This guide explains the facts behind the myths

2. How do we lose weight?

It's important to have an idea of how many calories your body needs, based on your age, body size, sex and levels of physical activity. There are lots of online calorie calculators to help you do this.

The NHS advises that trying to lose about 0.5-1kg (1lb-2Ib) a week is a safe target for most people who need to lose weight. Do this until you reach a healthy weight for your height. To lose this amount you need to take in about 500-600 kcal less than you require each day.

Eating 500-600 kcal more than you need each day will make you gain weight at the same rate.

Accidentally eating an extra 600 kcals is easier than you might imagine.

One portion of apple pie and cream or a bar of chocolate that you would gobble up in about five minutes, or a bag of peanuts.

3. Not all calories are the same

It's not simply the calorie count we consume that we have to think about. The type of food we eat can make a difference to our daily calorie intake too.

The calories in processed sugar are digested quickly. Sweets, snacks and fizzy drinks can all cause a surge in blood sugar levels, which then crash soon after eating, making us tired and hungry again.

Fibre is your friend

Brown bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, fruit and other natural foods that are high in fibre are digested more slowly.

They provide slow-release energy and make you feel full for longer, which helps you to avoid snacking.

Swap sweet snacks for fruit, choose brown bread instead of white, and have porridge for breakfast instead of sugary cereal.

Are all calories equal? This is one of the misinterpretations in diet.

The importance of Fibre: the way our guts work means that not all calories are equal. We absorb most of the calories in our food, but some foods are rich in fibre, and fibre is different. We only absorb about half the calories it contains, the rest passes through our gut undigested and some fibre can absorb water in our stomach making us feel fuller for longer.

4. Are nutrition labels reliable?

By law food labels are allowed to be slightly inaccurate, as minor variations from pack to pack during manufacturing are difficult to avoid.

Reference intake

Nutrition labels sometimes provide information about how much of your body's daily calorie requirement a food provides. This is referred to as 'Reference intakes' (RIs), and unless the label says otherwise it is based on the energy requirement of an average-sized woman doing an average amount of physical activity: 2,000 kcal per day. The RI is not intended to be a target, as energy requirements are different for all people

Label terms

If a food is labelled 'light' or 'lite', it should be substantially lower in at least one typical value, such as calories or fat, than standard products. But you may be surprised by how little difference there is between foods that carry claims to be 'light' or 'lite' and those that don't.

The TDay Note:

So cutting calories can be quite easy if we follow simple daily ways of reducing them. Exercise should always be part of the agenda, not only for calorie loss purposes but for our general health and well-being… Here are some tips on easy everyday calorie reduction:

  1. My favourite one… Fibre is the key! Feel fuller and improve your digestive health by eating more fibre.
  2. Swap sweets to fruits. Swapping a regular chocolate bar (240 kcals) for an apple (60 kcals) will save you 180 calories a day. If you are dying for a chocolate have some dark chocolate it is all a matter of habit.
  3. Get rid of soft drinks and sugary drinks, try plain fizzy water. Each can of soft drink you drop saves you 140 kcals, or more. Soft and sugary drinks have about 10 teaspoons of sugar in every can.
  4. For breakfast choose a whole-grain bran cereal packed with fiber, such as bran flakes or whole- wheat bread instead of sugary cereals or granola. Granola may be natural but it's often high in fat. Use granola sparingly or as a topper on low-fat yogurt. (Unnecessary calories if you ask me), add fresh fruits for a nutritious start of the day.
  5. Popcorn Vs Potato Chips. Popcorn is a perfect healthy snack; low-fat popcorn is crunchy, delicious, and a source of whole grain fiber. Plus, you can enjoy a large, filling portion! The type of popcorn you choose does make a big difference in how healthy it is, however, so skip the high-calorie, high-fat movie popcorn drowning in butter and choose air-popped or the ones made with the fat free butter! Potato chips are high in fat and it's hard to eat just a few. If you love chips, go for the baked ones and watch your portion size.

Approximately 28gr of potato chips contain 150 calories and 10g fat and 1% fiber when 4 cups of popcorn contain 60 calories, 2g fat and 4% Fiber!!

A list of some of High in Fibre Foods:

  • Brocoli
  • Brown Rice
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Sweet Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal, instant, cooked
  • Spinach
  • Lentils
  • Greens
  • Carrots, Raw
  • Rasberrys
  • Prunes
  • Figs
  • Barley
  • Air-Popped Popcorn
  • Strawbberies
  • Artichokes
  • Bulgur
  • Bread whole wheat or multigrain
  • Bran Flakes
  • Raisins

Women sould try and eat at least 21 to 25 gram of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30-38 grams a day.

And don't forget to exercise regularly, it always feels so good after...

Have a productive and healthy Tday!!!  

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