Frequently Asked Questions about Diet, Nutrition and Wellness
What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of total body fat. It is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. The weakness of BMI is that it doesn't tell us what type of fat we have.
Do all obese people have unhealthy metabolism?
No not quite. But up to 90% of people eating the Western Pattern Diet (processed food, fast food, fizzy drinks) have early signs of metabolic syndrome.
Is obesity genetic?
Genetic influences comprise around 40—80% of our weight. Genetic influence on obesity increases with age. Epigenetics means our mother's diet whilst pregnant with us has an influence too.
Why do I feel hungry two hours after eating a snack?
Eating a sugary snack causes a big surge of insulin, the sugar is rapidly cleared from the blood but the insulin takes at least two hours to clear and then results in low blood sugar, this then makes us hungry.
Do Low-fat yogurts and low-fat foods help us to lose weight?
Sadly not! Low-fat foods have reduced fat, which is replaced with sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These sugars are more fattening than the fats they replace. They are also metabolically harmful and liver toxic.
Does autophagy replenishes our cells, reducing ageing?
Yes, autophagy is the natural process of degradation and recycling of cells and their components. Exercise, fasting and eating less than five spoons of sugar per day increases autophagy, making us healthier and age better.
What are the three macronutrients?
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins, we might sensibly also add in water as our fourth
Are fats found in nuts?
Yes, very healthy fats are found in tree nuts. That said, they are also extremely high in calories, so take care on the quantity. Eat them like a Buddhist, slowly and mindfully. Savour a few; don't scoff the lot.
Is table sugar a nutrient dense food?
No, quite the opposite. Sugar is a high calorie, nutrient poor food. In fact, there is no nutritional requirement for added sugar in any living mammal, including humans.
Do super-refined carbohydrates lower my insulin levels?
No, refined and super-refined carbs when eaten cause insulin release. And when insulin circulates in our blood for several hours, we are unable to lose fat. Circulating insulin increases our fat stores.
Does fiber slow the absorption of sugars in food?
Yes it does. Soluble and solid fibre surround the sugars in food and slow its absorption into the blood. This is why whole fruit is preferable to fruit juice, where in fruit juice, the lack of fibre causes a toxic jolt of blood sugar and insulin.
How can I improve my gut health
Improve your gut bugs diversity. Fit, healthy, lean people have the most diverse microbiomes. As the gut bug diversity decreases, so does our health. Our gut bugs thrive on plant fibre. Think fibre, fibre, fibre, and eat over 30g per day.
A low-GI food causes less insulin release, than a high-GI food
True, low GI foods are generally higher in fibre. They cause less of a blood glucose spike, less insulin release and less fat to be stored and also feed our microbiome (gut bugs).
What does your brain use for energy?
Glucose and ketones. Our brain thrives on glucose. But we don't need to eat this! Your liver can make glucose for our brain from fat. Our brain in times of fasting detoxes and 70% is perfectly happy to function on ketone bodies.
Are fruit smoothies a good source of fiber?
No, fruit smoothies are processed, which removes a large amount of the fibre. They also have a large amount of sugar, so gives our liver a big sugar hit, which is toxic. Insulin is released and excess sugar is stored as fat.
Does my gut communicate directly with my brain?
Yes, it does. Your guy sends both neurological information and chemical information to your brain. We used to believe it was one way traffic from brain to gut. We now know the communications go both ways, yes your gut speaks to your brain.
Are fats proven to be bad for us?
Fats get a 'bad press' but in fact are an essential part of our diet. The exceptions are partially hydrogenated trans fats, and excess omega-6s from cooking oils like sunflower and safflower, which are not healthy.
Are Omega-3s anti-inflammatory?
Yes, omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Increasing these in our diet protects our heart and helps with many chronic diseases including asthma.
What should be the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in my diet
It should be less than 4:1. If we get this ratio below 4:1, we massively reduce inflammation. This is beneficial in our fight against all chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. It may also play a role in prevention of dementia.
Are Trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats) dangerous and harmful?
Yes, Trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats) both cause and worsen cardiovascular disease in addition to many chronic diseases including cancer.
Can elderly people build muscle?
Muscle can, and should, be built at all ages. We should try and combat the natural wastage. From the age of 35 years, we begin to lose muscle mass and without effort to combat this, will lose 5g per decade from then on.
Are all 21 amino acids are essential in our diet?
Only 9 amino acids are essential, which means they must be eaten. The other 12 can be manufactured by the body from other nutrients.
Do I lose muscle as I get older?
Natural muscle loss begins at 35 and carries on throughout life. From the age of 35 years we begin to lose muscle mass and will lose 5 kg per decade from then on. Muscle can, and should, be built at all ages. We should try and combat the natural wastage.
Do our muscles burn the most calories in the body?
Muscles account for only 15% of our daily burn. Even the brain uses more energy at 20%, the other organs and skin and bones using the remainder.
How much energy does our brain burn per day?
Our brain burns about 20% of our daily calories. The rest is burned by muscles, organs, bones and skin.
Does snacking raise my insulin levels?
Yes, your body sees a small snack as a meal. Most snacks and drinks contain very refined carbs and sugars, and cause a blood glucose spike and then insulin release. This prevents fat from being used and instead causes sugar to be stored as fat.
Does eating refined carbohydrates cause hunger?
Yes, refined carbs and sugars are the main causes of our hunger. Snacking and sugary or fruit drinks also make us want more of the same. This can be a dangerous cycle leading to obesity.
Does fasting for longer generally cause more hunger?
Surprisingly not, any early hunger soon disappears when fasting, and settles completely into long fasts (over 1 day)
Is fasting is a relatively modern diet trend?
Fasting is as old as the hills and was practised by almost all ancient philosophers to treat their illnesses and to clarify their thinking. Food feeds an illness, fasting cures illness and our body knows that.
Have modern diets changed?
We now eat 50 times the refined carbohydrates that we did 100 years ago, this is the main reason for obesity and chronic disease. Remember 75% of all processed and fast foods contain added sugar, which is often converted and stored as fat by our body.
Does loneliness affect our physical health?
Studies have repeatedly shown that loneliness badly affects our physical and mental health.
Is stress is always a bad thing for our bodies?
Short term stress and the release of cortisol is part of our protective fight and flight mechanisms to protect us from danger. It is when cortisol levels stay high (chronic stress) that serious mental and physical health problems result.
Does stress keeps me from having a good night's sleep?
Short term stress releases cortisol and high cortisol levels can prevent sleep. We should all try and prepare ourselves for sleep, called sleep hygiene. This includes relaxing, cooling down, reducing blue light and not eating before bed. Sleep is when our bodies repair themselves.
What is the minimum amount of sleep for good health?
Seven hours, this is the sweet spot. Less starts to become harmful, as does poor quality sleep (drug and alcohol induced).
Do telomeres naturally shorten with age?
True, they do. But these 'shoe lace ends' on our chromosomes can be lengthened by good diet and exercise. In particular, dietary omega-3s have been shown to be protective of our telomeres.
Can diet and lifestyle changes can lengthen telomeres?
Yes, a diet low in sugars and refined carbs and rich in nutritious whole foods combined with exercise and good sleep. A lowered omega-6 to omega-3 ratio also helps.
When we lose weight how does fat leave the body?
We mainly breathe out the fat! Fat that is neither burned nor converted into other nutrients is reduced to carbon dioxide and water, that then leaves the body. The CO2 is breathed out.
Is calorie restriction a proven way of maintaining weight loss long term?
Calorie restricting diets have been shown to work initially, but fail long term.
What is driving the present obesity epidemic?
Refined carbs and sugar consumption have increased 25-50 times in just 100 years. That is what is driving obesity. Carbs make us fat, and fat can makes us thin!
What is Leptin?
Leptin, the satiety hormone is released 20 mins after we start to eat. So if we eat too quickly we do not let our leptin hormone tell us when we have had enough. This is the danger of processed and fast food, when it is eaten quickly.
Is snacking bad for me?
Snacks are often sugary, refined carbs and processed foods. They cause a big spike in blood sugar, followed by a big spike in insulin, followed by hunger. Your body cannot tell the difference between a snack and meal and often turns the sugar to fat.
Can I lose weight after eating a meal?
Insulin is released after eating a meal. Insulin prevents the breakdown of fat meaning you cannot lose weight after eating.
Should I divide one big meal into 10 smaller meals?
No, this is bad for your metabolism! We know from studies that multiple small meals drives insulin release and can lead to obesity. It is better to eat one meal.
How can I lose weight?
Reduce your EatSpan: the time from your first to your last meal. Science tells us that from the first meal to the last should be less than 10 hours. The shorter the EatSpan the better, and the greater the weight loss.
Does eating snacks between meals lead to weight gain?
Yes. Snacks of any kind are unnecessary and are usually refined processed carbs. These will increase insulin and that will turn excess sugars from the food into fat that will then enter our fat stores.
Is a juiced fruit more fattening than eating the whole fruit if the same amount consumed?
Yes. The fruit juice has had the fibre mulched out of it, which turns a healthy food like an orange into a toxic sugary cocktail. Fruit juice is more fattening than eating the whole fruit.
Is eating late at night is bad for you?
Yes, you should finish eating or drinking at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. Sleep is for repair, your body can't digest food and repair cells at the same time.
Does eating before bedtime causes weight gain?
Yes, eating late at night promotes weight gain. The least fattening time to eat is in the morning. That's why Sumo wrestlers eat last thing before bed.
How is our body clock controlled?
Our body clocks are controlled by our eyes being exposed to early morning daylight. A good dose of early morning light resets the master clock every day, via receptors in our eyes that speak to the brain. The master clock in turn controls your body clocks.
What is the main cause of raised blood cholesterol?
The liver produces 80% of blood cholesterol. But high 'bad' cholesterol is caused by eating too much sugary refined processed carbohydrates and food and drinks with added sugars, not dietary fat.
Are Low-fat spreads are healthier than butter?
No, many low fat spreads contain trans fats. Eat real butter like your forefathers did. It's much healthier.
Are low fat milk and yoghurts are healthier than the normal fat ones?
No, when fat is removed it is often replaced by added sugar or high fructose corn syrup, both of which in excess are liver toxic and cause obesity.
What is Fructose?
Fructose is a type of sugar. Fructose together with glucose are found in table sugar and fruits. In excess, it is liver toxic and causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
Do people with diabetes have lower levels of Akkermansia in their gut bugs?
Akkermansia, an important gut bug, is found in lower numbers in people with diabetes.
Can high fat foods help us to become thinner?
If combined with a very low carb diet, a high fat diet is a powerful tool in weight loss because fat raises insulin less than carbs and protein and therefore causes the least fat storage.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, present in meat, dark leafy vegetables, oily fish-all foods which are part of a low carb, high fat diet.
Do processed foods usually have added sugar?
Yes 75% of all processed foods have added sugar. Eat real, whole foods and enjoy them whilst you lose weight.
Can eaten processed foods damage our liver?
Frequently eating processed foods and excess sugars can damage our liver. In particular, HFCS in processed foods damage the liver and give us non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Is it dangerous to miss a meal?
Missing a meal is not dangerous. Fasting is often a good thing as it gives the body a welcome rest and time for recovery, particularly if you miss breakfast or supper. There is limited benefit to missing lunch, if that day you eat breakfast and supper as your EatSpan remains unchanged. Reducing EatSpan is the key.
Can high sugar diets cause cancer?
High sugar, high refined and highly processed foods and drinks are associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer as well as chronic diseases and weight gain.
Does laziness cause of obesity?
Whilst exercise is essential for fitness and health, exercise is not necessary for weight loss. So, no laziness does not cause obesity, but insulin resistance causes us to be sedentary.
Is calcium deficiency bad?
Calcium deficiency causes bone thinning also called osteoporosis or (in the early stages) osteopenia.
Will a night-time snack helps me sleep well?
no, eating at night is bad for your sleep hygiene. It is difficult for our bodies to both digest food and go to sleep. Sleep is for repair and regeneration and digestion needs to be finished before the reparative processes get going.
Do high fibre diets help to prevent obesity?
High fibre diets can provide part of the solution to losing weight. If you get your fibre over 30g a day and cut out processed high sugar foods, you will be part of the way on your journey to metabolic health and weight loss.