British adults are at an “increased cancer risk” from eating a staggering 100 million fast food and takeaway meals every week, according to a new report*.
Young adults are seven times more likely than over-65s to eat fast food, microwave meals, pizzas and chips at least once a week, according to the study by Cancer Research UK.
The report shows that men are more likely to indulge in ready meals, sweets and soft drinks than women – with more than 55% tucking into convenience food at least once a week, compared to 44% of women.
Overall, UK adults consume up to 300 calories more than the recommended daily amount.
Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: “These figures show that ‘grab and go’ foods and a growing appetite for takeaways and ready meals are helping to propel us towards an epidemic of larger waistlines and increased cancer risk.”
In the study, more than 3,200 people had their body mass index (BMI), physical activity levels and diet patterns measured.
It found that 71% of men and 61% of women were “sufficiently active”, including 46% of obese participants.
Jyotsna Vohra, head of the Policy Research Centre for Cancer Prevention – which published the report, said ‘food manufacturers need to reduce salt, sugar and fat levels in their products’.
She said: “We do know that obesity has been increasing in the UK due to lifestyle choices that people make, including turning to ready meals because of convenience.
“There is no one silver bullet related to obesity”.
However, if you’re serious about improving your health, cutting back on processed foods is a great place to start. Breakfast cereals, deli meats, sweets and crisps are all packed with “empty” calories that contain little nutritional value. On top of that, many of these products contain nitrites, additives, preservatives and artificial flavours that can cause long-term damage to your health. Their modified taste and texture is designed to make the body crave more. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply improve your health, it’s imperative that you say “No” to processed foods.
Take small steps
Giving up processed foods entirely is a tall order, and one you’re unlikely to achieve overnight. It’s much easier to remove one artificial food at a time. Focus on not drinking fizzy drinks and fruit juices first; after that you’ll be ready to start eliminating the excess sugar that’s in your food. Then you can move on to refraining from processed meats and additive-laden sources of refined carbs i.e. crisps from your diet. Meanwhile, seek out healthier substitutes for your favorite foods. Replace deli meats with fresh meat and drink fruit-infused water instead of juices.
Choose whole foods
The next step is to replace processed foods with whole food varieties. Choose brown rice instead of white, whole grains instead of sweetened breakfast cereals, whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta and fresh fruit instead of canned varieties. These simple dietary changes will reduce your intake of junk calories, fuel your body with essential nutrients and leave you feeling fuller.
Read food labels
Many so-called healthy foods contain hidden sugars and chemicals. For instance, fat-free ice cream is often packed with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, while energy bars can be high in carbs and formulated with little or no protein. Make sure you read food labels carefully. Avoid foods containing high levels of glucose, golden syrup, caramel, dextrose, fructose, malt syrup, sucrose, treacle, agave and other forms of sugar. Watch out for processed ingredients too such as unbleached wheat flour, white flour, hydrogenated soybean oil and canola oil.
Cook more often
The best way to cut back on processed foods is to cook your own meals. That way, you’ll know exactly what’s on your plate. There’s no excuse for not doing this these days as you can use cookbooks, food blogs and smartphone apps to find healthy recipes and meal plans. Get creative in the kitchen and experiment with new foods and spices. You can even make healthy desserts that are low in sugar but full of flavour, with the aid of some whey protein and a few other choice ingredients.
Cut back on processed foods and not only will you eat better – you’ll look and feel a whole lot better too.
So you want to shed the processed food and shred the fat
From fashion models to bodybuilders, most people encounter this problem at some stage in their life. A stressful lifestyle, bad eating, improper training and certain medications can all take their toll, making it hard to shift stubborn fat.
However, if you’re working out and eating right but are still carrying excess fat, you may be doing something wrong. Here are five possible reasons why you’re not losing belly fat.
Excessive portion sizes
The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat. Oversized portions are synonymous with an oversized waistline because when you eat a lot, your stomach expands. Over time, this can lead to abdominal distension. Research has shown that most people will usually finish what’s on their plate – regardless of its size. Choose a smaller plate to keep your portion sizes in check without feeling cheated. When dining out, don’t be fooled into ordering supposedly healthy choices that prove to be anything but. For example, a large Caesar salad with all the trimmings can easily exceed 1,000 calories.
Poor food choices
Some foods may be healthy and nutritious but still contain a huge amount of calories i.e. nuts can contain up to 700 calories per 100 grams and it’s easy to eat more than that in one sitting. Almonds, pistachios, nut butters, coconut oil, avocado and other nutrient-dense foods are a great addition to your diet but you still have to eat mindfully. Healthy food is not calorie free. The same is true of what you drink; if you’re eating sensibly all through the week before loading up on alcohol at the weekend, all your hard work will have been for nothing. The odd drink may not derail your progress but half a dozen certainly will.
Poor training choices
Fat loss requires more than mere cardio. If you’re racking up miles on the treadmill but aren’t seeing results, it’s time you took a different approach. While steady state cardio will burn calories, its benefits stop the moment you stop. For a smarter approach to weight loss, try HIIT. This intensive form of cardio is a highly effective means of burning fat. What’s more, research has shown that your body will burn additional fat up to 24 hours after completing a HIIT workout. Don’t limit yourself to cardio either – resistance training is another great way of fighting fat. Keep your rest period between sets to under 60 seconds to maintain a high heart rate throughout.
Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep affects every system in your body. When you don’t get enough shut-eye, your cortisol levels go up and testosterone levels go down. At the same time, insulin sensitivity decreases. These factors combined may lead to chronic stress, muscle loss, weight gain and metabolic disorders. To shed belly fat, prioritise sleep. Create a calming bedtime ritual and avoid using electronic devices late at night. Good sleep is the key to better health, stress relief and greater gains. Aim to get seven or eight hours a night.
Lack of motivation
If you’re struggling to shed those last few pounds, it’s easy to get discouraged. Loss of motivation can leave you prone to making poor dietary choices and skipping workouts. To reclaim your willpower, you need a challenge; a goal that will keep you focused and incentivized; a reason to eat right and train hard even on the days when you’re not feeling it. By training smarter, sleeping better and making simple lifestyle changes, you can improve your health and bid good riddance to stubborn fat for good.
Professional sportsmen or real bodybuilders follow a professional sportsman’s diet or a real bodybuilding diet. This means eating up to six meals a day, spaced two or three hours apart. It means subsisting on lean meat, fish, egg whites, whey protein, sweet potatoes, rice and lots of veggies. It means packing a tupperware box of grilled chicken and steamed broccoli every time they leave the house.
Unless you’re currently training for a competition, you’re not a professional athlete or a bodybuilder. You don’t have to plan your day around your meals and faithfully record your macros. But you can still benefit from adopting their good habits. From selecting wholesom
e foods to regulating portion sizes, there’s a lot you can learn from the pros. Follow these steps to clean up your diet and start eating like an athlete.
Healthy eating is a way of life
Clean eating is not a fad you adopt for a few weeks – it’s a lifestyle. Get over the concept of ‘dieting’, with all the notions of quick fixes and short-term gains this elicits. When you’re dieting, you’re more likely to feel deprived and more prone to cheating. Instead, think of clean eating as a lifestyle choice – one that will benefit you every day for the rest of your life.
In summary, cleaning up your diet requires four steps:
1. Start thinking of clean eating as a lifestyle rather than a short-term fix
2. Ditch the processed foods and choose foods that will support your fitness goals
3. Include good sources of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs
4. Use quality supplements to optimise your body
Get those four right and the rest will fall into place: better habits and a wholesome diet that will help you build a better body.
These tips will help you to stick to your nutrition plan and make life a little easier.
HOWEVER, YOU CAN MAKE LIFE EVEN EASIER BY USING THE FOOD PREP AT FIT FOOD SHACK OR EVEN JUST DROPPING IN FOR BREAKFAST OR LUNCH ON A DAILY BASIS.
* Policy Research For Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) – Dr J Vohra