Thursday, 30 June 2011

Weight Watchers Strawberries and Cream Flavour Dessert Whip

If you’re looking among the jelly crystals, you might come across Weight Watchers Strawberries and Cream Flavour Dessert Whip. This is a powder which you add to milk then whisk up until it’s light and creamy. Pop it into the fridge for 5-10 minutes, then it’s ready to serve.You can also freeze a portion and eat it as a frozen dessert.
Packet has since been updated, but is still 1 ProPoint

This is a handy store cupboard dessert which takes a moment to make. It states it serves two people, however the serving sizes are tiny at only 69g each. It makes more of a satisfying dessert if you top it up with fresh fruit, especially strawberries or raspberries. Naturally the calories are low, at only 44 per serving and each serving is worth 1 Weight Watchers ProPoint.

Nutritional Information: Per 69g serving: 44 calories, 2.1g protein, 6.3g carbohydrates, 3.9g sugar, 1.1g fat, 1.0g saturates, 1.2g fibre, 0.14g sodium. Suitable for vegetarians.

The finished product with added strawberries

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Study Says Diet Fizzy Drinks Can Make You fat

Scientists seem to love presenting new research which can throw dieters good intentions out of the window. The latest findings from a study seem to suggest that if you drink diet fizzy drinks, you’re more likely to become overweight than those who don’t drink them.

Results from a ten year study by US researchers from the University of Texas, were announced at the American Diabetes Association. The study assessed data from 474 elderly men and women to examine the relationship between drinking diet soft drinks and change in waist size.

In addition to their diet fizzy drink consumption, the data also included recording measurements of their weight, height, waist circumference, diabetes status, whether they smoked, their activity levels, age, gender, ethnicity, residential neighbourhood and years in education.

The findings showed that those who drank soft drinks on a regular basis, were 70 percent more likely to show an increase in waist circumference than those who didn’t drink these products. And those who drank two or more diet sodas every day showed a waist increase which was five times greater than non-diet soda drinkers.

The researchers said: "These results suggest that, amidst the national drive to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, policies that would promote the consumption of diet soft drinks may have unintended deleterious effects.”

Of course, no one is saying that diet fizzy drinks are healthy, or any diet drinks for that matter. What they offer is a chance to drink something that’s not loaded with sugar but is infinitely more palatable than a glass of water.

What’s interesting to note about these results, is they don’t mention whether those people not drinking diet soft drinks also weren’t drinking regular soft drinks. So they’re not saying you may as well swap your diet cola for ‘full fat’ cola.

What they seem to suggest is that it’s the artificial sweeteners which are messing with our physical relationship with calories. Our body is obtaining something sweet in the form of a fizzy drink, and is therefore expecting a load of calories. When it doesn’t get these calories, it might make you feel hungrier so you’ll go on to eat more than if you’d consumed a regular sugary fizzy drink.

It can all become very confusing. But when it comes down to it, if you’re on a diet, fizzy drinks do fill you up, they contain no calories so they won’t make you fat. What will make you fat is eating too many calories from other food or drink!

© Diets and Calories 2011

Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (2011, June 28). Waistlines in people, glucose levels in mice hint at sweeteners' effects: Related studies point to the illusion of the artificial. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from¬ /releases/2011/06/110627183944.htm

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Welch’s Purple Grape Light Juice Drink

If you’re looking for an alternative drink to regular fruit juice, you might like to try Welch’s Purple Grape Light. Not only is it lower in calories than fruit juice, it’s rich in the beneficial antioxidants which are associated with purple grapes.

You may have heard that red wine possesses some health benefits including helping to maintain blood pressure and reducing cholesterol. Well, those same benefits can be found in purple grape juice. Welch’s Purple Grape Light also has the approval of Heart UK, the cholesterol charity.

As described on the carton: “Welch’s Purple Grape ‘Light’ is blended using anti-oxidant rich American Concord grapes from Welch’s own Vineyards, but is lower in sugar so you can now experience the delicious taste of Purple Grape with less than half the calories.”

You can find Welch’s Purple Grape Light in branches of Tesco in the long life section.

Nutritional Information: Per 100ml: 27 calories, 0.2g protein, 6.1g carbohydrates, 6.1g sugar, trace fat, 0g saturates, trace fibre, trace sodium, 30mg vitamin C.

Weight Watchers Original Bagels

Bagels make a tasty snack and can be eaten straight out the pack, or cut in half and toasted under a grill. They’re a good choice for those who are trying to keep their fat content down since they're very low in fat. The majority of bagels have around 225 calories each. However, Weight Watchers have their own version which contain only 150 calories each and are worth 4 ProPoints.

They’re made from wheat flour which also includes wheat fibre making it a particularly high fibre food. Each bagel has 7.2g of fibre, which is nearly one third of the recommended 28g minimum daily fibre intake for women, or one quarter of men's recommended minimum of 28g.

They’re available as packs of 4 or 5 and can be found in branches of Tesco, Sainsbury and some branches of Poundland.

Nutritional Information: Per Bagel: 4 ProPoints, 158 calories, 6.4g protein, 28.4g carbohydrates, 2.8g sugar, 0.5g fat, 0.3g saturates, 7.2g fibre, 0.4g salt.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Naturally Skinny People Not So Healthy After All!

Hardly a day goes by without the publishing of another set of statistics to cast doubt on previously held beliefs of what’s healthy or not. According to new research published today, slim people may be just as likely to suffer from heart disease or diabetes as those who are obese. While naturally skinny folk appear to have it easy when it comes to maintaining their weight, it seems their lack of fat doesn’t always mean they’re as healthy as one might think.

A team of researchers from the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, compared the genetic codes of more than 75,000 people to look for the genes which determine body fat percentage. They found one particularly common gene called IRS1, which was strongly linked to having less body fat.

Those who have this gene tend to store less fat underneath their skin, giving them their slender appearance. However, it made no difference to the amount of visceral fat – the hidden fat which is stored around vital organs such as the heart. It is this fat which is particularly harmful to health and raises the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

This could explain the anomaly as to why some thin people, who seem to eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle, may also have higher than normal cholesterol or high blood pressure. Although one of the the main risks factors for cardiovascular disease is obesity, this research serves as a warning that even those who maintain a healthy lifestyle, should still obtain regular health checks, including blood pressure and cholesterol testing.

This research was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Volvic Sugar Free Still Mineral Water

Plain old water isn’t to everyone’s taste, which is probably why there are so many different flavoured bottled waters available now. But health conscious individuals and people watching their weight need to be careful because not all flavoured waters are as healthy as they might at first appear. In fact, many are loaded with sugar.

One tasty and diet friendly flavoured bottled water is Volvic’s Sugar Free natural mineral water. It’s available in two flavours: ‘Touch of Strawberry’ and ‘Touch of Lemon & Lime’, and in two sizes: 50cl and 1.5 litres.

As a warning, if you’re looking for Volvic ‘Touch of’ flavoured waters, be aware they are also available in the same flavours but with sugar as the sweetener. These contain nearly 20 calories per 100ml compared with 1.4 calories for the sugar free version. So a 50cl bottle of sugar free has 8 calories whereas the same sized bottle of the sugared variety clocks up just under 100 calories.

They’re widely available in many outlets which sell flavoured bottled waters.

Nutritional Information: Per 100ml: 1.4 calories, 0g protein, trace carbohydrates, trace sugar, 0g fat, 0g saturates, 0g fibre, 0g salt.

Cumberland Sausages Sainsbury Be Good to Yourself

The majority of sausages are loaded with fat and calories which means they’re off the menu for people watching their weight or trying to lower their cholesterol, for example.

However, sausages remain a firm favourite among the British population and fortunately there are a few brands around which are low in fat and calories while managing to taste pretty good too.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Walkers French Fries

Walkers French Fries are part of the ’99 calories or less’ range of crunchy snacks. The others are Quavers, Squares and Wotsits. French Fries are a crispy potato snack which are available in three flavours: Salt & Vinegar, Cheese & Onion or Ready Salted.

As detailed on the pack, they are ‘slim and slender, long & twisted. Snap them in half, take a nibble. Start at one end and crunch your way through, there’s plenty of delicious crispiness to munch through before you’ve got to reach for the next one. Go on – pick one out and munch away.’

Each pack holds just enough to make a satisfying snack for those days when you just need something to crunch on, that’s not going to pile on the pounds. Available in multi packs in supermarkets.

Nutritional Information: Per packet: 83 calories, 1g protein, 12.4g carbohydrates, 0.2g sugar, 3g fat, 0.3g saturates, 1g fibre, 0.48g salt. Suitable for vegetarians and coeliacs.


Friday, 24 June 2011

Why Stress Leads To Comfort Eating

If you find yourself eating more when you’re under pressure or feeling stressed, you’re not alone. Around 40 percent of people under stress automatically feel hungrier and are more inclined to start overeating. And naturally, it’s more likely to be high fat and sugar foods rather than lettuce leaves. This isn’t ideal if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight.

A study (on mice) by U.S. researchers from the University of Texas, has narrowed this reaction down to the hormone, ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating the appetite. Two types of mice were induced into a stressed state by a ‘bully’ mouse which is a more dominant type of mouse.

Scientists found that wild-type mice headed towards a chamber they knew contained mouse ‘comfort food’, while the genetically-engineered mice, who were unable to respond to stress-induced increases in ghrelin, didn’t head off to the same chamber in search of this comfort food. Even when they were deliberately given fatty, comfort food, they didn’t each as much as the wild-type mice.

Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, assistant professor of internal medicine and psychiatry, said: "Our findings show that ghrelin signaling is crucial to this particular behavior and that the increase in ghrelin which occurs as a result of chronic stress is probably behind these food-reward behaviors."

He also said: “Many people when stressed turn to high calorie ‘comfort foods’.”

It’s not bad news for all stressed out dieters though, as not everyone reacts to stress in the same way. There are still another 60 percent of people who don’t automatically reach for cakes and biscuits when they become stressed. And if you are one of the 40 percent who find themselves yearning for comfort food in times of anxiety, why not try chewing some sugar free gum? This act of chewing can help get you through the most crucial time until you’re feeling a bit calmer.

The results from this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center (2011, June 23). Ghrelin likely involved in why we choose 'comfort foods' when stressed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 24, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/06/110623130336.htm

Weight Watchers Sweet Shop Favourites

Hard boiled sweets are not only bad for your teeth, they’re not great for keeping your weight down either. They might taste nice, but the majority of boiled sweets are made entirely of sugar. You can find a few varieties of sugar free boiled sweets in stores these days, two of which are from Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers Sweet Shop Favourites are available in two varieties: ‘Peaches & Cream’ and ‘Strawberries & Cream’. They actually come as a double pack so you get both flavours together. They’re completely sugar free and they state on the packs that they do not promote tooth decay.

Each entire box of Peaches & Cream and Strawberries & Cream contain 83 calories and 84 calories respectively. But, if you’re not going to consume the entire packet in one go, it’s good to know that each individual sweet has a mere 6 calories. Each box holds 14 sweets.

These were found in the branch of a chemist. So check out your local chemist of pharmacy to see what sugar free sweets they sell.

Nutritional Information: Per packet (Peaches & Cream): 83 calories, 1 Weight Watchers Points value, 0g protein, 34.5g carbohydrates, 0g sugar, 0g fat, 0g saturates, 0g salt. Suitable for vegetarians.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Study Says Food Quality Not Quantity Maintains Weight

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has found that when it comes to keeping slim, it’s not the quantity of food we eat, it’s the quality and that calories should not be the main focus when trying to maintain your weight.

Three large-scale studies of US health workers, conducted by Professor Frank Hu, a nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that making small lifestyle changes including diet, sleep, exercise and alcohol intake, all had an effect on weight gain.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Del Monte Duo - Raspberry or Mango Iced Smoothies

Frozen ice lollies are all the rage these days and barely a week goes by without a new variety appearing on the supermarket shelves. A fairly recent addition in Tesco’s freezer section are Del Monte’s Duo frozen iced smoothies. They’re available in two flavours: Raspberry or Mango and each one has only 43 and 45 calories respectively. They are also a low fat product.

Del Monte Duo is shaped like a small choc ice which has a frozen yogurt centre with iced smoothie around the outside. They’re exceptionally creamy and very tasty, although a little on the small side. But for a mere 45 calories or less, they go a long way to satisfying a craving for something sweet and refreshing.

Each box holds four individually wrapped Duo bars and they’re found in the freezer section of Tesco at the time of writing.

Nutritional Information: Per Bar (Raspberry): 43 calories, 0.8g protein, 8.5g carbohydrates, 7.4g sugar, 0.6g fat, 0.5g saturates, 0.4g fibre, trace sodium. Suitable for vegetarians.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Cadbury's Mini Fingers

Dieting isn’t much fun if you’re a chocolate addict. Most bars of chocolate simply aren’t good for us, unless you count that ‘feel good’ feeling you get when you’re eating it. Chocolate is full of fat, sugar and calories and it certainly won’t help you lose weight. True, dark chocolate has been found to have certain beneficial effects on our health, but if you’re a milk chocolate fan, the dark stuff just won’t do.

Still, even when you’re counting calories, there’s no harm in eating a tiny bit of milk chocolate. And with Cadbury’s mini fingers, you can do just that. Most of us are familiar with Cadbury’s Fingers. Well, these are a mini version worth a mere 14 calories each. Each mini finger measures one and a half inches (just under 4cm). They come packed in a re-sealable 125g bag so you can take out one or three, seal them up and hide them away for another day.

Cadbury’s mini fingers are available in major supermarkets.

Nutritional Information: Per mini finger: 14.4 calories, 0.11g protein, 1.7g carbohydrates, 1g sugar, 0.8g fat, 0.3g saturates, 0.01g salt. Suitable for vegetarians.

Tesco Soft Cheese Extra Light

Cream cheese is delicious and extremely versatile. However, most cheeses contain unhealthy amounts of fat and this means extra calories. Fortunately there are a quite a few low fat alternatives for those who are watching their fat and calorie intake, one of which is Tesco's own reduced fat version cream cheese. It retains all the creaminess of regular cream cheese but has a reduction of 75 percent less fat than standard full fat soft cheese.

Tesco Soft & Light Soft Cheese has only 115 calories and 4g of fat per 100g. This compares with 165 calories and 11g of fat for Tesco’s medium fat soft cheese and 240 calories and 23g of fat for the full fat variety. You can find this cream cheese in larger branches of Tesco and some smaller Tesco outlets.

Nutritional Information: Per 100g: 115 calories, 13.2g protein, 5.6g carbohydrates, 5.6g sugar, 4.0g fat, 2.2g saturates, 0.6g salt. Suitable for vegetarians.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Serving and Portion Sizes and How To Read Nutrition Labels

Much of the packaging on the food we buy these days provides useful information for health conscious consumers. This usually includes nutritional details such as the amount of fat, sugar, salt and number of calories in the product. Many also provide a serving size or a portion size.

However, this is where consumers can often become misled, since portion sizes and serving sizes are not one and the same. So what’s the difference?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Wholemeal Danish Thick Sliced Count on Us

Swapping your regular sized bread for a smaller loaf can save loads of calories, especially if you eat lots of bread.

This Danish wholemeal loaf is from the Marks & Spencer Count on Us range, making it a good choice for dieters and those who are watching their weight.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Teacake Mini Bites Marks & Spencer

Extremely Chocolatey Teacake Mini Bites from Marks & Spencer are absolutely delicious and once you’ve tasted one, it’s hard to stop. The little mini bites consist of a semi-soft biscuit base topped with velvety marshmallow and are smothered in milk chocolate.

They may not be the healthiest of foods, but each mini bite has only 30 calories. So, even if you’re trying to lose weight, you can afford to squeeze in one or two of these as a treat without worrying too much about breaking your diet.

A 280g tub of Teacake Mini Bites contains around 45 mini bites and they're available from branches of Marks & Spencer Food stores.

Nutritional Information: Per mini bite: 30 calories, 0.2g protein, 4.5g carbohydrates, 2.7g sugar, 1.26g fat, 0.7g saturates, 0.13g fibre, trace salt. (Not suitable for vegetarians)

Walkers Quavers – Cheese Flavour

Quavers are twisted, curly, snacks which are exceptionally crunchy with a strong cheesy taste. Although they're available in Salt & Vinegar and Prawn Cocktail flavours, the traditional Cheese seems to be the most widely available.

Each 17g packet has only 88 calories and you can find them in supermarkets packed in various sized multi-packs. They’re suitable for vegetarians and contain no artificial colours.

Nutritional Information: Per packet: 88 calories, 0.4g protein, 10.3g carbohydrates, 0.7g sugar, 4.9g fat, 0.4g saturates, 0.2g fibre, 0.36g sodium

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Oasis Light Low Calorie Fruit Juice Drinks

Oasis is a still, low calorie, fruit juice drink which is great for those who don't like the taste of plain water. However, the regular versions do have quite a few calories.

Oasis Light is the no added sugar variant of Oasis which offers the fruity flavours of Oasis, but with less sugar. Buying the Light version will save you quite a few calories. For example, a regular 500ml bottle of Oasis Summer Fruits contains 90 calories, whereas the diet variety has only 18.

Currently Oasis Light is available in two flavours: Summer Fruits and Peach Passionfruit.

Most supermarkets sell Oasis Light as well as many smaller, individual stores and off licences.

Nutritional Information: Per 100ml: 3.5 calories, trace protein, 0.5g carbohydrates, 0.5g sugar, 0g fat, 0g saturates, trace fibre, 0.03g sodium

Vanilla Milk Lollies (Sainsbury's)

If you’ve ever bought a box of Mini Milk Ice Lollies, you’re probably aware each box has three flavours – chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. In our household, it’s the vanilla flavour that always disappears the fastest.

So I was delighted to find these yummy vanillia milk ice lollies new in the freezer section of Sainsbury’s. They’re delicious and taste just like a frozen vanilla milkshake on a stick.

Each ice lolly has just 48 calories and is suitable for vegetarians. Although they’re low in fat and calories, has lolly has nearly two teaspoons of sugar. This means they’re a high sugar product for their size.

Each box of vanilla flavour milk lollies comes in a box of 8 and they’re available in branches of Sainsbury’s.

Nutritional Information: Per 35ml lolly: 48 calories, 1.1g protein, 8.5g carbohydrates, 8.1g sugar, 1g fat, 0.6g saturates, 1g fibre, trace salt

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

How Your Mind Can Help You Slim

The mind is an incredibly powerful tool which can work against us when we try losing weight. How many of us have started a diet only to find our willpower weakening at the first hunger pang?

However, it doesn't have to be like this. By Our mind is an incredibly powerful tool.

But, there are ways of tricking your mind into suppressing your appetite, thus reducing the desire to eat more.

Here are a few ideas which may help.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Crumpets (Tesco)

Despite the avalanche of new and exotic looking breads swamping the supermarket shelves, crumpets remain a permanent fixture. There’s no other taste that quite matches a crumpet fresh out of the toaster and smothered in butter. Of course, this might seem out of the question if you’re dieting. But many brands of crumpets are surprisingly low in fat and calories.

These crumpets from Tesco are available in packs of 8 or 12. Each one has only 75 calories so you can afford to treat yourself to a few extra calories by spreading with a little reduced fat butter for a tasty and satisfying snack under 100 calories.

Nutritional Information: Per crumpet: 75 calories, 2.5g protein, 15.2g carbohydrates, 0.6g sugar, 0.5g fat, trace saturates, 1.5g fibre, 0.5g salt.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

15 Super High Fibre Breakfast Cereals

Many of us find it difficult to eat enough fibre each day. But fibre can be a helpful weight loss aid because it takes longer to chew and digest. Also, because of its slow passage through the digestive system, you feel fuller for longer and are less likely to experience those sudden cravings for something sweet and high calorie.

As a general guide, adults should be aiming for a minimum of 30g of fibre in a day (NHS).

One of the easiest ways to incorporate a substantial amount of fibre into your diet is to eat a high fibre breakfast cereal. Just one bowlful of All Bran, for example, provides nearly two thirds of your minimum daily fibre needs.

Friday, 10 June 2011

6 Tips to Slow Down Your Eating & Lose Weight

It’s not just eating fast food that can make you fat, eating fast can also cause you to pile on the pounds. A study carried out by scientists at the Osaka University in Japan, found that those who ate their meals the fastest and those who ate until they were full, were three times as likely to be overweight.

The research which was published in the British Medical Journal Online First, detailed the investigation into whether eating quickly was linked to a high body mass index (BMI). Out of 3,287 Japanese men and women aged between 30 to 69 years, one third of men were overweight and just under a quarter of the women were overweight.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

McVities Jaffa Cakes and Mini Jaffa Cakes

McVities Jaffa Cakes have been popular in the UK and Ireland for decades. They’re sort of a cross between a cake and a biscuit, where each cake consists of a light sponge with a zingy orange centre and is covered with a blend of bittersweet dark, crackly chocolate.

There was a debate some years ago as to whether they were a cake or a biscuit. Apparently, if they were classed as a biscuit they would be liable for value added tax, whereas cakes are not. McVities had to defend their case to prove that the Jaffa Cake is indeed a cake. They did this by demonstrating that the Jaffa cake goes hard when left in the open air, as a cake does.

The good thing about Jaffa Cakes if you like them, is that each cake has only 46 calories. But if that’s too much, McVities now have Mini Jaffa Cakes which come packaged in a ‘tear & share’ bag and can be re-sealed with the attached sticker. So if stopping at one regular Jaffa Cake is too difficult, ease your conscience by eating two mini cakes instead, for a similar number of calories.

Nutritional Information: Per mini Jaffa Cake: 24 calories, 0.3g protein, 4.3g carbohydrates, 3.1g sugar, 0.6g fat, 0.3g saturates, 0.1g fibre, trace salt

Nutritional Information: Per Jaffa Cake: 46 calories, 0.6g protein, 8.6g carbohydrates, 6.4g sugar, 1g fat, 0.5g saturates, 0.3g fibre, <0.1g salt. Each regular size Jaffa Cake is 1 Weight Watchers ProPoint.

Go Ahead Crispy Fruit Slices

Go Ahead produce a range of tasty fruity biscuit snacks which are available in most supermarkets. Go Ahead Crispy Fruit Slices are light, crispy biscuits with a sultana and fruit filling. They’re ideal for those who are looking for a low calorie treat which is a bit more substantial than a biscuit but not quite as calorific as a piece of cake.

Choices available include Apple, Forest Fruit, Orange, Raspberry, Red Cherry. They’re suitable for vegetarians and contain no artificial colours of flavours.

Inside each packet are five packs of three slices. Each slice is under 60 calories. However, take care not to be misled, since inside each wrapped pack of three you are getting three slices, each at 55-60 calories. So don’t eat all three thinking you’re eating less than 60 calories!

Nutritional Information: Per slice (Apple): 55 calories, 0.8g protein, 10.9g carbohydrates, 5.4g sugar, 0.9g fat, 0.2g saturates, 0.4g fibre, 0.1g salt

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Why Yo-Yo Dieting Isn't Always Bad

Many of us who have been on a diet are familiar with the term ‘yo-yo dieting’. This is when you go on a diet (often extreme) and lose weight only to regain it again once the diet's finished.

What happens next? You go on another diet, lose a bit more weight, stop again, regain the weight, with a bit more for good measure! And so it goes on, year after year. While this pattern of dieting has long been considered unhealthy, a research study may just prove otherwise.

According to the Calorie Control Council, some 45% of Americans who went on a diet over the past year, successfully lost weight. However, two thirds of them weren’t able to maintain that weight loss.

Various studies have indicated that the yo-yo diet cycle is definitely not healthy. Apart from the fact that it seems to mess up the metabolism, rendering the body less efficient at burning off calories, it can be potentially harmful to health in other ways such as decreasing immunity and increasing risks of developing high blood pressure.

However, according to a new piece of research by US scientists, rapidly shedding weight then regaining it again, may not be as harmful as once thought. Once again, laboratory mice were put to the test. In this study which was carried out over a period of two years, one group of mice were placed on a diet which alternated between high and low fat food. Another group were given a continuously high fat diet while the others were fed a permanently low fat diet.

As to be expected, the researchers found that mice who were fed the high fat diet ate more, had higher levels of body fat and blood glucose and showed early signs of diabetes. And the mice given the yo-yo diet similarly displayed a decline in health during the high fat phase of their diet. However, once they started cutting calories again, their weight and blood glucose levels returned to normal.

Overall, the mice fed the low fat diet lived longest with an average of 2.09 years. The yo-yo mice lived 2.04 years and the mice on the high fat diet lived 1.5 years. Apparently the normal life span for this type of laboratory mouse is just over two years.

While this research has only been conducted on mice, it seems to show that yo-yo dieting is still better for overall health than not dieting at all and living off a high fat diet. So even if you keep regaining that lost weight, try and try again. You could be healthier for it.

© Diets and Calories 2011

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Growing Success of Diet Coke

Coca Cola is possibly the most well known brand name on the planet. With around 1.6 billion servings being consumed on a daily basis, virtually every country in the world sells at least one version of Coke.

In these health conscious times, more of us are trying to reduce our sugar consumption and fizzy drinks such as Coke contribute a large amount of sugar to the daily diets of many people. For example, a regular 330ml can of Coke contains 35g of sugar, equating to just over eight teaspoons of sugar and 139 calories. Fortunately, for Cola addicts and those watching their waistbands, there is Diet Coke.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Biscuits Still a Favourite Treat

A recent report by market analysts Mintel, found that sales of biscuits have increased by 22 percent over the past five years. This seems to be in line with the country’s economic downturn.

According to Mintel’s senior food and drink analyst, Amy Lloyd, “The UK biscuit industry has benefited from consumers reaching for the biscuit barrel throughout the recession. The ritualistic nature of eating biscuits with a hot drink appeals to consumers, demonstrating how ingrained this occasion is within British culture but emphasising the need for the biscuit category to expand beyond the tea-drinking audience.”

Although chocolate digestives, chocolate chip cookies, custard creams and Bourbons are favourites, it is interesting to note that sales of lower fat and lower sugar varieties are increasing in popularity. In fact, a quarter of all biscuit sales were within this sector. This could be an indication that those who are trying to follow a healthier diet, still like to have a biscuit as a treat and see the lower sugar and fat biscuits as a viable option.

These days there are plenty of lower calorie biscuits on the supermarket shelves, many of which are under 30 calories each. So even when you’re watching your weight, it’s perfectly possible to treat yourself to a few biscuits. As long as you avoid the large American style cookies, shortbread and those filled with cream or covered in chocolate, there are still many types of biscuit which can easily be incorporated into your daily diet. Just don’t eat them all at once!



Saturday, 4 June 2011

Hartleys Low Calorie Jelly Pots

Sugar free jellies are great because you can eat loads of it without having to worry about calories. But if you don’t have the time to wait for a jelly to set, it can be helpful to have a few ready-made pots on standby.

These low calorie jelly pots from Harleys have less than 10 calories a pot and come in three different flavours: Cranberry & Raspberry, Blueberry & Blackcurrant, Mango & Passionfruit. While they have a nice fruity flavour, they don’t always seem to be fully set.

If you are looking out for these, don’t mistake them for the ‘fat free’ jellies from Hartleys which look very similar but have around 100 calories a pot!

Nutritional Information: Per pot: 8.75 calories, 0g protein, 1.75g carbohydrates, 1.75g sugar, 0.18g fat, 0g saturates, 0.7g fibre, trace sodium.

Weight Watchers Oat & Wheat Crackers

Weight Watchers Oat & Wheat Crackers are low fat, light and crispy crackers which go perfectly with cheese (low fat of course), or any other topping you care to add. They’re the same size as regular cream crackers, but wafer thin, crunchy with a slightly chewy texture which is probably due to the oats.

Each box of crackers contains five wrapped packs of 3 crackers, so they’re handy to take out with you for snacking on later. Each pack of 3 crackers has 55 calories and are worth 1 Weight Watchers ProPoint.

Available in supermarkets.

Nutritional Information: Per 3 crackers: 55 calories (18 calories a cracker), 1.3g protein, 11.7g carbohydrates, 0.4g sugar, 0.2g fat, <0.1g saturates, 0.4g fibre, 0.3g salt. 1 Weight Watchers ProPoints per 3 crackers. Suitable for vegetarians.

Friday, 3 June 2011

McVities Shortbread Bites

OK, it’s probably stretching it a bit far to call these biscuits a diet product. And they’re not. But what’s different about these delicious all butter Scottish shortbread biscuits is they’re baked into tiny bite sized cubes. More and more products are coming out in bite sized portions which is great news for dieters (as long as you don’t eat the entire pack in one go!)

Shortbread is enormously high in calories at around 100 calories per biscuit. But there aren’t many of us who would have the willpower to break a piece off instead of taking a whole biscuit. But with these tiny bites, you can take one or two out of the packet, enjoy eating them and not worry about consuming loads of extra calories.

These have been found in Sainsbury's so far.

Nutritional Information: Per biscuit (4.5g): 24 calories, 0.3g protein, 2.6g carbohydrates, 0.7g sugar, 1.4g fat, 0.9g saturated fat, 0.4g fibre, 0.13g salt.

Hovis Nimble Wholemeal Bread 400g

Bread can be high in calories, particularly those which are full of seeds and grains where one slice can clock up over 130 calories. But if you’re looking for a lower calorie bread, Hovis Nimble Wholemeal bread is a delicious, high fibre loaf whereby each slice has only 48 calories.

It’s made from 100% British wheat and contains no artificial preservatives or flavourings. It’s also low in fat and sugar and suitable for vegetarians. Most of the larger supermarkets stock Hovis Nimble Wholemeal.

Nutritional Information: Per slice (22g): 48 calories, 2.7g protein, 8.1g carbohydrates, 0.5g sugar, 0.6g fat, 0.1g saturates, 1.5g fibre, 0.23g salt.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Weight Loss Procedure - Gastric Balloon (BIB)

Those who are overweight but not having success with dieting, may have considered gastric surgery. However, this can be a daunting prospect and not everyone relishes the idea of going under the knife. But there is another option, the Gastric Balloon. This is a safer, non-invasive alternative to weight loss surgery and carries fewer side effects.

Who Can Have This Procedure?

The gastric balloon is suitable for those who are moderately overweight and not having any success with conventional dieting. But it’s also an option for people with very high BMI’s where the potential risks of undergoing weight loss surgery are too great. In some cases, such patients can have a gastric balloon inserted, then if sufficient weight is lost, they can go on to have conventional weight loss surgery later.

What Happens During The Procedure?

The gastric balloon procedure can be done as a day case and should last between 20-30 minutes. The patient lies on an operating table but usually remains awake throughout, though they are given a muscle relaxant medication beforehand. The balloon is then inserted into the patient’s mouth using a gastroscope, and they will be encouraged to swallow. The balloon is then fed right the way down into the stomach and is filled with a blue liquid. It’s then sealed and left to float inside the stomach.

The entire procedure is viewed on a large screen which enables the surgeon to clearly see what is happening. The balloon can remain in place for up to six months. However, after this time it must be removed as the silicone material can become weakened by stomach acids and tear.

The balloon is removed in the same way as it was inserted only in reverse. The balloon is punctured, deflated then retrieved back through the mouth.

How Does It Work?

Once the gastric balloon has been inflated inside the stomach, it has the effect of making the patient feel full after consuming only small amounts of food. This should mean the patient will eat fewer calories and gradually lose weight. The patient must combine this procedure with diet and lifestyle advice so they can use this time to re-educate themselves to eat smaller portions and learn about healthier eating. If they don’t do this, once the balloon comes out, they will simply regain any lost weight.

What Can Be Eaten?

For the first few weeks after the gastric balloon is inserted, patients can only have liquids as their stomach adjusts to the balloon. Gradually, pureed foods are introduced then normal solid foods. Although anything can be eaten, it’s hoped that patients will use this time to improve their eating habits so they’re able to maintain their weight or keep losing it once the balloon is removed.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Side effects are minimal and if they do occur, are likely to be experienced in the first few days after the procedure. These include nausea, stomach cramps or vomiting but should cease within three or four days. They may also experience back pain, reflux and a heavy feeling in the abdominal area. If, on rare occasions the balloon ruptures or leaks, the patient is alerted by their urine which will appear blue due to the colour of the liquid inside the balloon. If it deflates enough, it will pass out naturally along with other waste through the bowel.


The gastric balloon procedure costs less than conventional weight loss surgery and patients might expect to pay between £2,000-£5,000 to have it done privately in the UK. This is cheaper than having a gastric band fitted which costs an average of £7,000.


Results vary quite a bit with this procedure but generally, weight loss isn’t as great as with gastric surgery. Patients sometimes find that within a month or two they can go back to eating similar amounts of food as they could before the procedure, which possibly explains the lower weight loss.

But those who have the gastric balloon inserted have to realize it isn’t a quick fix for losing weight. It needs to be used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and increased exercise, or it’s probably not worth going through with it. However, for those who follow dietary advice, weight loss can be substantial.

Diagrammatic Video Showing the Gastric Balloon Being Inserted

Hospital Procedure Showing the Gastric Balloon Being Inserted

For further information, visit: The National Obesity Surgery Centre

© Diets and Calories 2011

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Heinz Tomato Ketchup (Reduced sugar and salt)

Most households probably have a bottle of tomato sauce in their fridge or cupboard. But market leader, Heinz tomato ketchup is probably the most well known. Heinz also have a reduced sugar and salt version which cuts down on the calories as well. A 100ml serving of regular Ketchup has 103 calories compared with the reduced sugar version with 77 calories.

Though many people are put off buying low calorie versions of favourite food products, according to blind taste tests conducted by consumer group, Which?, 42% of people actually preferred the reduced sugar version, saying it tasted more natural.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup (reduced sugar and salt) is available in a 500ml top down squeezy bottle in most supermarkets.

Nutritional Information: Per 100ml: 77 calories, 0.9g protein, 16.6g carbohydrates, 16.3g sugar, 0.1g fat, trace saturates, 0.7g fibre, 01.7g salt.

Breadless Sandwiches

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The breadless sandwich has arrived at Waitrose. OK, they’re really a salad, but packaged in such a way that you can hold them like a sandwich. These are ideal for dieters or those looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake as each one averages around 100 calories.

There are two types: the Cos lettuce ‘sandwich’ and open lettuce boats.

The lettuce sandwich consists of Cos lettuce leaves wrapped around either chicken & mango or feta cheese together with cucumber, red onion and pepper.

The open lettuce boats can be picked up and eaten like an open sandwich and they have a choice of two toppings: sweet chilli chicken or oriental king prawn with a sachet of sauce. They’re also mixed with rice noodles, so you’re getting a small amount of carbohydrates, and crunchy vegetables (carrot & courgette). Each are served in a plastic container with a plastic knife and fork.

They taste fantastic, really flavoursome and spicy even before adding the sauce. They're also surprisingly filling. Each pack provides 1 of your 5 a day and they can be found in branches of Waitrose.

Nutritional Information: Per slice pack (King prawn and lettuce boat): 90 calories, 9.5g protein, 12.0g carbohydrates, 7.9g sugar, 0.5g fat, 0.2g saturates, 3.4g fibre, 0.48g sodium.


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