Low in Fat, High in Lies

You know the drill. You’re walking down the supermarket aisle, trying to decide what to buy for breakfast that’s easy and quick to eat so you can sleep an extra ten minutes. Toast is out (isn’t there some fad thing about gluten?), the cereal section crushes your heart (it’s too hard to guess which ones sneak sultanas in) and suddenly you see it at the end in the freezer: yoghurt! So you stroll your cart on over and try to pick something that won’t ruin your diet- oh look, one’s 99% fat free.

The problem with this is many brands will add in sugar and flavourings in order to better the taste- because once they remove the fats, it tastes gross. Whilst too much saturated fat is bad for you and your heart, the trans-fats that companies replace this with is damaging is also bad for us and our cholesterol. To make foods low in fat, companies replace saturated fats with trans-fats (through changing the oil structure within the food), as well as adding sugar, flour and salt. This is problematic because, not only does the food most likely have as many carbs as the original version, but your body is now experiencing blood sugar cravings- making you eat more of the low fat food to combat this. All of this sugar also comes with its own set of health warnings: it can lead to obesity which we know is linked to diabetes, as well as the standard heart and high cholesterol issues.

So the solution here, as recommended by many nutritionists and health associations, is to consume a healthy amount of “good fats”. These can be described as monosaturated fats (which are found in oils made from olives, canola, peanuts, safflower and sesame). Another “good fat” is polyunsaturated fats (which are found in oils made from soybeans, corn and sunflowers as well as in fish like mackerel, salmon, trout and herring). The most important part of beating this myth is to check your food labelling: if an item has “low fat” and subsequently has high sodium, sugar or trans-fats levels then it is no better for you than its regular counterpart.

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The Caffeine Lie

B-real 

We get it. Maybe you need it to get through that 8am meeting at work. Maybe you need it to finish that essay you were meant to start three weeks ago. Or maybe you’re just that keen that pumpkin spice season is back at Starbucks. Whatever you need it for, it’s impossible to admit that that cup of caffeine in your hand is a cup of death. So don’t worry- because it isn’t.

Caffeine has gotten a seriously bad rap over the years, and it’s time to debunk some of these myths. Before we forge ahead, we want to say that it is recommended that you keep it to three cups a day max. But it’s really not the liquid evil that many people paint it to be.

First things first: provided you’re not tapping a vein and funnelling caffeine into your bloodstream, chances are it’s not going to cause heart disease or cancer. Caffeine has even been discovered to possibly help in the fight against cancer, and for heart disease there has been no evidence to suggest that the recommended amount of caffeine increases your blood cholesterol or changes the frequency of your heart beat. Caffeine has even been proven to increase cognitive function through improving memory, alertness and reasoning.

We should also address some of the false positives attributed to caffeine. Sorry everyone, but caffeine does not sober you up. Drinking a cup of coffee will not make it okay or safe for you to drive, your abilities will still be impaired and your chances of getting in an accident will still be high. The only solution to this problem is to wait it out. Caffeine also doesn’t help you lose weight, this myth started because of the fact that caffeine increases your metabolism. And whilst this is true, it doesn’t do it to such a rate that will be effective for weight loss.

So just remember when you’re one hipster friend is shaming you for not ordering tea, that coffee and caffeine is not bad for you. You simply need to keep your caffeine hits to three times a day. If there are any ‘addicts’ out there let us give you some advice for cutting back: don’t go cold turkey. That will only make you experience withdrawal symptoms. Instead, wean yourself off it slowly, this will be a lot easier.

Fat Burning

Is it possible that there are a variety of foods just waiting in your local supermarket aisle that will burn off fat for you? Well, as we learned this week at Foodbusters, the answer is: sadly not. The popular myth is that eating foods like grapefruit, nuts, celery, green tea and chilli will make you burn weight, which frankly just seems too good to be true. And that’s because it is.

The myth states that these foods burn fat by increasing your metabolism, as well as taking up energy in the subsequent digestion of these foods. However, whilst it does increase your metabolism, this is a short-term effect, and will not be nearly as effective as actual exercise. Despite the falseness of the myth, many of the foods that have been suggested to ‘burn fat’ are in fact good for you, and should be included in part of your balanced diet.

One of these foods is lean meat, which contains protein. Protein might be a controversial choice, considering its role in its own myth (that too much protein is bad for you). As high protein levels have been blamed for kidney failure, many people have decided to lower the amount of protein they eat to combat this. However, studies have proven that a healthy protein amount, which is dependent on your body type, is beneficial to your body as it helps with calcium and bone density.

Green tea is another ‘fat burner’, but is really healthy for you because it improves brain functions and helps ward against cancer. Two other pluses are that green tea has been shown to lower chances of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, as well as improving dental health (which means it reduces bad breath!). Lentils are another food that is good to include in your diet, particularly if you’re iron deficient as it is instrumental in raising your iron levels. Lentils also help with your blood cholesterol levels and overall heart health.

So, at the end of the day it’s time to admit that you can’t burn fan by eating- but you can reduce weight gain by eating the right foods. Try some of the foods we mentioned above in order to boost your metabolism, as well as raise protein, iron and calcium levels in your body. Couple these healthy foods with some regular exercise, and you might just burn some fat after all.

Night Snacking

Whoever started the rumour that you shouldn’t eat food after a certain time at night, must go to sleep as soon as the sun goes down. Who amongst us can honestly say they haven’t been awake at 3am with a rumbling stomach, and then proceeded to eat their weight in snacks? There are so many versions of this myth: you shouldn’t eat after 7pm, wait- maybe it’s 8pm, or maybe it’s after the second ad break in The Walking Dead.

So what’s the deal with night eating? Turns out, this is an untrue myth. People tend to use this myth in association with weight loss- as its commonly believed that eating after a certain time makes you gain weight. However, it’s not the time of day that should concern you when trying to lose weight, but rather the amount of kilojoules you’ve eaten. When trying to get ready for bikini season, you need to make sure that you burn as many kilojoules as you consume, if you don’t, that’s where the weight gain is likely to happen.

So, if by the time 8pm rolls around, you have already eaten the recommended amount of kilojoules in a day, and the only exercise you see yourself doing is reaching for the remote, then sadly you’re going to have to put that bowl of cereal away.  If you haven’t however, then feel free to go ahead and eat those Coco Pops, you’ll be fine.

If you are a night snacker, then one great way to burn off the kilojoules you’re eating is to exercise whilst you’re watching your TV shows! Head on over to this awesome Tumblr and see if your favourite show is there!

The Truth About Chocolate and Acne

When you were in high school, did you ever eat some form of chocolatey goodness only to break out with the kind of pimples you thought existed only in nightmares? It was probably at this point, when you were trying to figure out if you could get away with wearing a balaclava to science, that every person you’d ever met suddenly gained a medical degree and diagnosed you: you got the pimples, because you ate chocolate.

We’re here to say that this rumour is more fiction than fact. There is no evidence at all to support the claim that chocolate gives you acne. In fact, there’s nothing to suggest that eating any fatty foods will directly cause your skin to erupt with a pimple colony. So where does this come from? The rumour is likely given weight by the fact that a diet that is high in both sugar and fat can have detrimental side effects to your body, one being that it may lead to acne. So if you are a chocolate-lover, make sure you supplement your daily dose with foods that aren’t so high in sugar and fat. This will ensure your body is still getting the nutrients it needs, and will give you healthy skin to boot.

In order to celebrate the debunking of this slanderous myth (and just in time for Halloween too!), we’re ranking our top 5 ways to consume chocolate:

  1. Chocolate and Coffee:

I’m not afraid to admit it- sometimes coffee by itself is just too much for me to handle. That’s why  Mocha’s are my go-to drink for a caffeine hit

  1. Chocolate Ice-Cream:

It’s summer, and your skin is melting like the Wicked Witch of the West’s. So what better way to embrace the heat than to cool down with chocolate ice-cream? Because let’s be real, those other flavours don’t come close.

  1. Chocolate Biscuits:

If you’re Australian, chances are you were born and bred on Tim Tams, man’s greatest achievement. But we’re not haters, any chocolate biscuit will do: from Oreo’s to cookies, we love them all.

  1. Chocolate and Cake:

From mud cake, to cheesecake, to cupcakes and brownies: any form of cake will do. Why do people even pretend there are other kinds of cake out there?

  1. Chocolate Blocks:

Obviously the best way to eat chocolate is in its untainted form: just one whole block and nothing else. And for when you’re feeling a little cray, you might mix it up with a combination of white, milk and dark.

What’s your favourite way to eat chocolate? Let us know!

The War of the Cokes

It feels like since the beginning of man, there has been a great divide: those who drink Coke, and those who drink Diet Coke. For years, there have been debates on the topic; insults have been hurled, facts have been presented, but what is the real truth? Is Diet Coke better or worse for you than regular Coke? If you’re hoping the Diet in front of the Coke held the answers to your salvation, we’re sorry to disappoint you. It seems that drinking Diet Coke is really not a healthy choice. In fact, it appears you’d be better off just drinking the regular kind, or maybe the vanilla flavour if you’re feeling fancy.

Drinking Diet Coke can actually have serious effects on your health- and it all comes down to the artificial sweetener. In theory, it sounds perfect. Tricking your body with the old ‘it’s not sugar’ fake out, but that’s actually where the problems begin. Because you’ve fooled your body into thinking it’s the real deal, it now has no idea what to do when actual sugar comes pouring down. Your body doesn’t release the hormone it should when dealing with sugar, and so sugar isn’t absorbed into your blood stream as it should be.

It gets worse. It seems that the drink you choose in order to not pile on the pounds could be making you do just that. In a series of studies, there have been links between drinking soft drinks with artificial sweetener and weight gain. Also connected to diet soft drinks are metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol and even strokes.  There have even been studies which suggest that pregnant women should not drink diet soft drinks at all.

There are a few dodgy ingredients that are in Diet Coke, and have been found to be not that good for you.  One such ingredient is aspartame, a sweetener which might trick your body into weight gain, and in test on animals has shown an increase in cancer. Another one is caramel colouring, which also had carcinogenic results in animal testing. So, it seems the evidence is mounting. Whilst Coke might not be the healthiest drink choice, it seems that Diet Coke also helps you gain weight. We suppose there is one plus side: at least it’s not Pepsi.

Your Mum Lied

We’ve all been there. Feeling the will to live slowly drain away as your Mum tells you she won’t be buying you that McFlurry, because if you eat too much sugar you’ll get diabetes. But science tells us all that emotional turmoil was for nothing, because it isn’t solely the intake of too much sugar that will make you contract type II diabetes. This myth stems from the fact that being overweight is a contributing factor to the cause of type II diabetes, and so many people have come to associate that roll-up you wanted for school lunches with the disease.

However, type II diabetes is actually caused by a whole lot of different factors, such as your physical health, i.e. whether you’re overweight, your calorie intake, your glucose levels (which is where the sugar element of the myth comes in), and your genetic background. There are even studies to back this up, showing that within a group of approximately 39,000 women, the ladies who ate the most amount of sugar did not have a higher risk of getting diabetes. It is actually when a person’s blood sugar levels have risen so high that their body cannot respond to insulin that they contract diabetes. But to stop this, you can’t simply just stop eating sugar. You have to maintain a balanced diet, and even then you may still be at risk if you have a familial history of getting the disease.

However, even the myth that people who have type II diabetes can no longer eat sugar is wrong. When you have diabetes, you need to control your total carbohydrate intake in order to maintain your health levels, so you are still able to eat lollies, you just have to closely monitor how much you have. So at the end of the day, the myth is untrue. Eating too much sugar will not give you diabetes. But, in order to remain at a healthy weight, and therefore lower your chances of getting the disease, it’s probably best to not eat the entire tub of ice cream in one go, no matter how hard Ben and Jerry’s calls to you.