The 5:2 Diet Might Just Be Tricking You

The 5:2 Diet Might Just Be Tricking You

The “new” weight-loss strategy known as the 5:2 diet has been receiving much attention in the media since the book The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting – Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer was launched late last year. But does it really work? Surinder Baines examines the evidence. Lettuce picture from Shutterstock The 5:2 diet allows you to eat as usual for five days and to fast for two days. On fasting days, the dieters need to restrict intake of food to approximately 2000 kilojoules (500 calories) a day for women or 2400 kilojoules (600 calories) for men. The two days of fasting don’t have to be consecutive and you can decide how you want to spread your food intake on those days as long as you adhere to energy restriction. The food consumed during the two fasting days should have little fat and carbohydrate content and alcohol consumption is not recommended. During the two fasting days, you are typically allowed protein foods such as eggs, or low-fat yogurt or cheese for breakfast and protein foods such as chicken, fish, lean meat, along with salad or other non-starchy vegetables for lunch or dinner. You are permitted water, green tea, or black coffee. While you can have milk with your beverages, it must be counted toward your caloric intake. Not a fad? Intermittent fasting or restricting energy intake for weight loss, which is what the diet is based on, is not a new concept. And there are other kinds of fasting diets around, such as “alternate day fasting”. But while energy restriction in the form of various weight-loss diets has been investigated in...
Handbags, are they dirtier than toilet seats?

Handbags, are they dirtier than toilet seats?

The next time your wife is rummaging around in her handbag for her lippy or car keys, you may want to surreptitiously hand her a wet wipe. A new study from UK washroom company Initial Hygiene has found that women’s handbags are often crawling with harmful bacteria that can pose a significant health risk to humans. Handbag picture from Shutterstock Researchers from Initial Hygiene took swab samples from used women’s handbags along with the items inside them. Disturbingly, around 20 per cent of the bags tested were found to contain higher bacteria levels than the average toilet seat. “Handbags come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces; so the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high, especially as bags are rarely cleaned,” Initial Hygiene explained in a statement. “[Our research] found that one in five handbag handles was home to levels of bacteria-related contamination which pose a significant risk of cross-contamination, while the single dirtiest handle swabbed housed almost three times this level.” Leather bags were discovered to be the dirtiest as the spongy texture provides the the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and spread. The dirtiest items in a handbag were found to be face and hand cream, lipstick and mascara. The report concludes that regular hand sanitisation is essential to prevent the presence of bacteria and that bags should be regularly cleaned to remove contamination build ups. My first instinct was to dismiss this report as a lame attempt to gain brand recognition through a raft of icky headlines (the lack of methodology or sample size information in the press...
Why your brain always has to be right

Why your brain always has to be right

I’m sure it’s happened to you: You’re in a tense team meeting trying to defend your position on a big project and start to feel yourself losing ground. Your voice gets louder. You talk over one of your colleagues and correct his point of view. He pushes back, so you go into overdrive to convince everyone you’re right. It feels like an out-of-body experience. In terms of its neurochemistry, your brain has been hijacked. Picture: Hey Paul Studios/Flickr The Role of Cortisol In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building and compassion shut down. The amygdala, our instinctive brain, takes over. The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to and hide behind group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him). All are harmful because they prevent the honest and productive sharing of information and opinion. But, as a consultant who has spent decades working with executives on their communication skills, I can tell you that the fight response is by far the most damaging to work relationships. It is also, unfortunately, the most common. That’s partly due to another neurochemical process. When you argue...
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