Find Answers to Common Dieting Questions

Here is a list of some diet questions we received from our visitors. If you wish to send us a question click here. Due to the volumes received we cannot answer every question, try looking at our other pages before sending.

List of Questions

    • Question: Why am I piling the weight back on after I have worked hard to lose it?
    • Answer: Our bodies don’t like losing weight, so they do everything in their power to gain the pounds back again, this may be in the form of an increasing appetite or a change in our biochemistry to make us feel low in energy so we move less. From an evolutionary point of view this worked well – being too thin reduced your chances of survival so natural mechanisms encouraged us to eat more and redress the loss. Unfortunately, one of the main mechanisms is still very much in working order today – the production of a hormone in our stomachs called ghrelin, which triggers appetite. Knowing this is useful because if you start to feel ravenously hungry then you’ll understand why that is, and you can try to take preventative action.
    • Question: Why does my metabolic rate slows down while I’m losing weight?
    • Answer: The more drastically we cut back on calories, the slower the speed at which we burn them. It’s another survival mechanism for humans, but not such a welcome these days if we want to lose weight. The answer is to shed weight slowly, at about a pound each week, and you can achieve this by eating foods that keeps your blood sugar levels steady. Low glycemic index foods help minimize gherlin production and reduce drops in the metabolism.Another trick is to eat around 30 grams more protein a day when you hit your target weight. This could be an extra half-pint soy or standard skimmed milk or an extra 50 grams of protein food like tofu, beans, fish or meat at both your main meals. The protein will help keep you feeling fuller while boosting the metabolism.
    • Question: Is it true that some people weigh more but look smaller than an individual that weighs less than them? If so, why is it that?
    • Answere: It is possible for a person to be smaller than another of similar body types but yet weigh more. The reason for this is usually muscle mass. The heavier, smaller person tends to carry more muscle. Muscle is much denser than fat weight, thus it occupies less space. Fat takes up more volume of space per pound than muscle. Therefore, a fatter person tends to be bigger than a lean person of the same weight.We can all witness this process as people age. After the age of around 30 years our body very slowly loses muscle (the rate of loss is slowed with regular exercise). As you lose muscle it reduces the metabolism, the result is we need less calories. Eventually this leads to a positive energy balance (we take in more energy than required) and we slowly replace lost muscle with fat weight. In many cases (those managing to maintain a steady weight over time) some people remain the same weight for years yet they seem to grow in size and width (butt gets bigger, hips, etc). The fact is they do grow bigger as the fat percentage rises. This process is often referred to as “middle-age spread”.
    • Question: Is it true, that if you want to lose abdominal fat you shouldn’t do crunches because you will tone the muscles but not lose fat?
    • Answer: If you train your stomach muscles intensely they become larger, but if you don’t burn off the layer of fat that surrounds the waist then the waistline will become bigger even though you are not actually fatter. Although, this does not mean abdominal exercises are a waste of time, remember training any muscle will always give some positive benefits. Tone your muscles and go swimming or walking to melt the fat cells.
    • Question: I am trying to lose weight and get fit. When I train I am in the upper end of aerobic and into anaerobic heart rates, so from what I have read I am only burning carbs. If I weight train for about 20 minutes before getting on the treadmill for 40 mins, will I be only burning fat when running?
    • Answer: We never only just burn one source of fuel, we always burn a combination of all 3. The difference is in the percentage shift of fuel used. When training at higher levels of exertion we tend to burn a much greater percentage of carbs over fat during that activity. For you personally, if you want to get fit, you’re probably doing the right thing, although remember to slowly raise the effort by re-challenging your body. Try to improve on each workout by beating your time or the amount of weight used. For example, run the same distance but try to improve a little on the time. If you train with weight then use a little more weight each workout.

      Weight training will add a great mix to your workouts and should give some improved results. Burning fat always depends on the intensity of a given exercise as well as the present nutritional state of the body. If you deplete your muscular carb (Glycogen) levels by weight training first, then there’s a greater chance, but no guarantee that a higher percentage of fat would be burned.

    • Question: I have just turned 62 and exercise regularly (biking, walking, running and weights). I have a Timex Ironman heart rate monitor with a data recorder. Several months ago I recorded a maximum of 194 and last evening my resting (sleeping) rate was an average of 54 with lows of 30. I used your formula to calculate my target heart rate zone (102.7 and 134.3). Like many men I am trying to lose my “love handles” and having a hard time doing it! The lower range (102.7) seems very low ( I would have a hard time keeping it there). Is this the rate I should be using to burn fat (and ultimately lose my love handles)? I am 6′ and 210lbs (I was 193 when I ran the marathons). Your assistance is appreciated. Have a wonderful day and keep up the good work.
    • Answer: In order to lose the last few pounds around the difficult areas I usually train at the higher end of my target heart rate zone. This way I burn off more calories and slightly help improve the speed of my metabolism. As for yourself, you seem to be a very fit individual, as indicated by running marathons and having a resting heart rate under 60 (a good sign of physical fitness), and as you suggested the lower end of the scale will probably be too low to gain any worthy results. If you have the fitness and can cope with higher impact training then I think it’s worth sticking to the higher end of target heart rate. Just remember to make sure you’re getting sufficient recovery between workouts. Hard training always takes longer to recover from, it also requires good, complete nutrition.
    • Question: For nearly a year I have been doing exercise: running three times a week for an hour each time (sometimes more when in training) plus weights three times a week, and sometimes swimming too. I am now very fit. But although I appear to be doing the correct exercises, I can’t get rid of what appears to be a slight beer belly. I have cut down on drinking but still like a few glasses of wine of a night. I have also started eating more healthily: I only occasionally (once or twice a month) have fast food. The thing is, my belly doesn’t even appear to be fat. Is this bloating, or does my intestine need cleaning out?
    • Answer: We really cannot comment on any possible medical condition, you should see your doctor if you feel there is anything not right.As for fat levels, you may just be struggling to lose the last few pounds of fat stores around those difficult areas. High Intensity weight training can be great for boosting the metabolism but if you cannot stay within a negative energy balance you can never lose the fat completely. If you have gained a lot of fitness then you’ll probably need to workout at the higher end of your target heart rate zone.
    • Question: Can chocolate be eaten as part of a healthy diet?
    • Answer: No food should be out of bounds, as long as you eat it in moderation and as part of a complete balanced diet. Some dark chocolate can be good for you as it contains good antioxidants. Chocolate is also high in fat and calories so try to limit your chocolate to a small bar on occasions, and best not to make it a daily habit.
    • Question: I have been loosing weight for the past seven months. I am female 5’4″ in height and weigh 134 pounds (I started at 157 pounds) but I am now trying to get leaner. I feel like if I could just loose a bit more stubborn fat I would have nice definition. I read that I should try doing high intensity interval training. Starting at 5 minutes and increasing a minute every workout. It seems like it wouldn’t be that effective, I tried it today and didn’t even break a sweat. Any advice? How can I get leaner?
    • Answer: High Intensity interval training can work well for some people but at your progress level it may not be the best thing for you. If you have gained a lot of fitness then you’ll probably need to workout at the higher end of your target heart rate zone.

Studies also show that people who keep up regular physical activities and do a regular “meal audit” are most likely to keep the pounds off. Your audit involves jotting down what you eat for a couple of days each week so you don’t fall prey to unconscious snaking – and it’ll also help you keep tabs on serving sizes so they don’t gradually grow bigger as your willpower fades.

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