Why does everything have to be to excess in today’s society, why can’t we establish that middle ground of moderation and balance? What makes a diet that is moderate in protein, carbs and fat, whilst remaining adequate in fibre (such as fruit and veg) such an issue? Would this mean to say we should consume equal amounts of protein, carbs and fat…no, does this suggest that we should have particularly low amounts of carbs, certainly not, instead I’d like to think it fits in with current recommendations made by our governing bodies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the likes of. The FSA have been clear in stating that the average citizens diet should comprise approximately 50% Carbs (comprising mainly starches), 35% Fat and around 15% Protein. This ratio varies slightly dependant on activity levels and lifestyle, however the principal of moderation and balance remains the same.
Disproportionate rise in carb intake
The British now eat 46 per cent less saturated fat than they did in 1975. The result of this is a disproportionate increase in total carbohydrate intake, however this cannot all be attributed to the advice to reduce total fat, and the nation’s cravings for sweet, sugar based foods such as confectionary is a major factor too. However, our intake of refined carbs has spiked dramatically in the sense that fish and egg based breakfasts have all but disappeared since the mid- seventies, and the intake of refined cereals have taken over many peoples breakfast tables. So current recommendations are now suggesting that people stop consuming so much cereal, particularly the sugar laden versions available.
How might this affect the UK’s dietary intake?
The consequence of this though is that the public are now turning to the complete opposite…cooked breakfasts. What I don’t want to see as a Sports Nutritionist with a Dietetics degree is a major exclusion of the low sugar, high fibre cereals such as Shredded Wheat, Weetabix and Porridge as a result. We are a nation of extremes (not to be confused with extremists…that would be concerning), and going from eating pretty much all cereal to all cooked breakfasts is NOT the way to go. Vary it up, heed the current recommendations on the Eatwell plate and use this to direct your diet and let some balance ensue. A cooked breakfast maybe twice a week may be an option, combining this with scrambled eggs another two times a week and filling the gaps in the week with porridge may well be optimal according to a meta- analysis (research investigating ALL papers on a given subject…in this case fat) conducted by faculty members of Harvard and Oxford University. Of course the dietary amendments spread into other main meals over the day, it just so happens that some of the most drastic dietary changes occurred in the morning during breakfast.
One final problem is this…many people think that the recent paper conducted by Harvard and Oxford rules saturated fat out as a risk to health…it doesn’t. Yes, the paper argues that saturated fat may not be the out and out villain it was once prosecuted as, yes the research papers that attacked saturated fat were somewhat flawed back in the day, however this new paper does NOT clarify what the UK population should do now. Should we ramp up the amounts of saturated fat we consume now, no, should we continue to replace the saturated fat with carbs (as most seem to have done), no again because an increased carb intake, the largest source of calories in the UK diet, means the risk of heart disease remains the same. Conversely, if saturated fat is proportionately reduced and the difference is replaced with polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oils, other plant based oils and nuts, then current evidence suggests that the risk of heart disease may reduce.
Harvard School of Public Health, (2014). Dietary fat and heart disease study is seriously misleading. Retrieved 27th August, 2014, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2014/03/19/dietary-fat-and-heart-disease-study-is-seriously-misleading/
The Telegraph, (2014). No link found between saturated fat and heart disease. Retrieved 27th August, 2014, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/sarah-knapton/10703970/No-link-found-between-saturated-fat-and-heart-disease.html