Now that Shrove Tuesday has come and gone, many people will have been giving things up for lent, which will no doubt mean some folk taking this opportunity to have another go at accomplishing the diet they resolved to go on at New Year.
However, anyone needing to diet properly will need to be aware that a good diet is not just about cutting out bad food, but also eliminating unhealthy drinks, be they full of sugar or alcohol.
That means low calorie beer can play just as important a role as ditching your daily chocolate bar or swapping burgers for lean, white meat.
However, if diet is about liquids as well as solids, it is important to keep them in balance, as many experts have said in the wake of a recent tragic event that has rocked the world of sport; Shane Warne’s death from a heart attack at the age of 52.
Shane Warne may have been the greatest leg spin bowler in the history of cricket, but he didn’t do it through supreme athletic fitness. Throughout his career he was famous for smoking and unhealthy eating, often piling on the pounds through notoriously idiosyncratic favourites like lasagne sandwiches.
He even ended up serving a one-year ban for a drug offence not because he wanted to enhance performance, but because of a banned ingredient in a diuretic pill he had acquired from his mother in a bid to remove his double chin before a press conference.
The flip side of this was that Warne would regularly seek to get his weight down through crash dieting, often going on a 14-day liquid diet consisting of juices, mineral drinks and soups. It was known that Warne was dieting hard when he died as he had posted on Twitter that “operation shred” was underway to get him in tip-top shape by July.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Gail Rees, associate professor of human nutrition, at the University of Plymouth, said the lack of certain important food types in such a diet, like protein, fat and sometimes fibre, could have serious downsides."You'd feel drained and exhausted after a week,” she noted.
Dr Rees said a far better approach is to have a more balanced diet with healthy foods included such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, while cutting out unhealthy food like takeaways, sugary snacks and drinks containing alcohol.
What the tragic and untimely death of the cricketing legend has done is to highlight that these liquid diets can actually place significant strain on the body and its organs, with the potential for significant long-term damage.
That may not be the whole story, of course; Warne’s liking for a cigarette or ten may also have been a major contributory factor. Nonetheless, the lesson is clear; allowing your weight to bob up and down like a cork through dramatic switches between very unhealthy consumption and equally unhealthy crash dieting is not safe or beneficial.
Of course, nobody wants eating and drinking to be a dull, functional activity, so if you want to go on enjoying a beer with your meal, an alcohol-free alternative can help ensure you live a long life without it being a dull one.