• Obesity expert, Dr Nick Fuller, says eating more good food is a much better weight loss strategy than restricting your food intake and dieting. (E+/Getty Images)Source: E+/Getty Images
If your family and friends won’t accept – ‘no thanks, I’m on a diet’ – as an excuse when you refuse to eat more food, it might be a nutritional blessing. Obesity expert, Dr Nick Fuller, explains why eating more really does help you achieve long-term weight loss.
Yasmin Noone

28 Jan 2020 - 10:45 AM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2020 - 10:45 AM

There are a few mistaken beliefs about weight loss that most of us have adopted as fact, despite many a Mediterranean mother’s regret.

It’s that all carbs and all fats are bad, diets are good, and eating less actually helps us to lose weight and stay slim.

Dr Nick Fuller, an obesity expert from The University of Sydney, tells SBS that although fad diets may enable us to lose weight in the short-term, over time they could cause weight gain. And yes, if your mother advised you to kick in the diet and eat more of her home-cooked pasta meals laden with vegetables to be healthier, she was probably right.

“This is because food restriction is not good for us – our body is very smart and our metabolism will alter for that weight loss [and slow down].”

“We’ve come to this belief that food restriction is the way to go to lose weight but that is the worst practice a person can adopt,” says Dr Fuller.

“What happens is that after around three-to-six months of weight loss resulting from being on a restrictive food program, the body will start to shut down as part of a defence mechanism.

“This is because food restriction is not good for us – our body is very smart and our metabolism will alter for that weight loss [and slow down].”

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Dr Fuller adds that by eating less food, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds may be turning their back on their healthy, traditional eating practices.

“We know that, for instance, the Mediterranean style of eating has nutritional benefits,” he says. “But what is happening now is there is a disruption in family environments and traditional meal routines, as there are so many people on these diets.

“For example, someone might be under the impression that they can’t eat a lot of food or can’t eat a certain food group [like healthy fats, pasta, bread or other carbohydrates] because they believe it will be detrimental to their waistline.

“The result is that they are moving away from their traditions and culture to follow something they’ve been brainwashed to believe is healthy.”

The truth of the matter, he says, is that eating less can be very unhealthy.

“From our research on clinical patients with obesity at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, we found that that 95 per cent of them don’t even meet basic requirements for nutrition. They are not meeting the standard recommendation of five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit a day. They are not getting enough calcium or iron.”

“The result is that they are moving away from their traditions and culture to follow something they’ve been brainwashed to believe is healthy.”

The key to real sustainable, healthy weight loss, Dr Fuller explains, is to eat more nutritious foods including those that are protein and fibre dense. It’s also recommended to cook more meals at home using in-season vegetables and whole-grain ingredients.

According to the dietary advice contained in Dr Nick Fuller’s new book released this week, Interval Weight Loss for Life, the best way to lose weight is to slowly reprogram your body to become leaner, one month at a time.

“We need to change our focus from eating less to thinking about eating more but filling up on wholesome nutritious foods as part of long-term successful weight loss plan.”

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Dr Fuller says one way to reprogram the body to enjoy more food and lose weight is to ensure that breakfast is the biggest meal of the day. Larger family lunches are preferred over big dinners.

“We should be training our body to know that breakfast is the biggest meal of the day and then practice fuel reduction throughout the day.”

Yet Dr Fuller gives people permission to fill up their dinner plate with as much Mediterranean style vegetables as they like.

“If you do have these good items, there’s going to be a lot of food on your plate. They are nutrient-dense but energy dilutes foods – that means you can eat more food.”

He adds that you should always aim to eat the recommended portions of proteins like fish, wholegrain bread and cereals, healthy fats, and nuts and seeds at each meal, including dinner. 

“If you do that, you will get a much better balance of nutrition and as a result, much better satiety as you will feel fuller for longer.” 

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