When the pudge doesn’t budge

You’re up at the crack of dawn for that morning walk, you’re eating right, heck you’ve even given up sugar (well, except for in your morning coffee), and yet, you’re overweight. Nutritionists tell us why our efforts seem to bear no fruit and how to force off the fat.

Blame those genes!

Go ahead, say ‘I told you so’ to the non-believer! According to Ryan Fernando, sports nutritionist, Qua Nutrition, Bengaluru, the ADIPOQ gene that produces adiponectin, a fat-burning hormone, doesn’t function well in people of Indian origin. So, when you go on a low-calorie diet, the body automatically switches to starvation mode. You are actually likely to reach a plateau quickly and maybe even begin to gain weight. “The under-functioning ADIPOQ gene doesn’t allow muscle to burn fat, but instead, begins to store it,” says Fernando. He firmly believes all nutrition plans need to be guided by a person’s genetic history. “We collect blood and saliva samples from our clients and our specialists read what the genes say, before working out plans for them,” he says.

Muscle up

You can’t get away from cardiovascular exercise (running, biking, swimming), but if your primary goal is weight loss, then resistance and weight training are musts. “You need to build your muscles to raise your metabolism and increase the body’s capacity to burn fat,” says Fernando. “With an hour’s strength training, your body continues to burn fat for the next 36 hours,” he explains. After a cardio session, however, your heart rate will drop within 30 minutes to an hour.

“If you walk for an hour a day, you lose approximately 28 gm of fat per day; that’s approximately 800gm-1kg in an entire month,” he says. So, work out a good cardio-strength training combo with your trainer. Fernando advises strength training at least thrice a week.

Find your groove

Your friend’s turned into a head-turner by doing a fun Zumba class thrice a week. But mimicking her may not melt that muffin top off you. “Yoga is a fabulous form of exercise, but will not work for everyone,” says Rupali Datta, a Delhi-based nutritionist. The trial-and-error method might work. Try them all — yoga, pilates, Zumba, different forms of cardio — in consultation with a trainer for three-month periods, then work out what works for you. Sometimes it’s a combination of two or more types.

You may not immediately attain the svelte figure you were aiming for (in fact, you may not become svelte at all, if that’s not your body type), but trying them out will definitely make you fitter. The aim is to reach your peak fitness figure and try to maintain that, instead of some unachievable media-fuelled goal of being a model size.

Bust that stress

You can definitely blame some of the bulge around your belly on family drama, your mom-in-law’s tantrums and your unbearable boss. Whenever you’re under a lot of stress, the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, rises in your blood. “Cortisol can raise insulin levels, causing your blood sugar to drop, making you reach for high-fat, high-sugar foods,” says Datta. Remember all those fries you downed with sugary soda the last time you were working on a tight deadline?

It also happens when your body is fatigued after little sleep. This can become a habit and add substantially to your girth in the long term. So tune out some of the noise in your life. Try yoga or meditation, or just put on a pair of headphones! Don’t let your diet become a stress factor either. According to Datta, “Happy people, who take the diet as part of routine, do a much better job, than those who look at it as punishment.” So, cut out the constant, ‘Oh, I’m on a diet’ negativity.

Acknowledge inequality

Yes, ladies, you’re right! You probably sweat it out at the gym as much as your male partner and maybe eat much less, but he seems to shed those kilos so much more easily. This is because men have more muscle mass and higher levels of testosterone, which helps build muscles, in turn burning fat faster. “Biologically too, women store more fat, particularly around the hips and thighs, as we require it for child-bearing,” explains Delhi-based sports nutritionist Lovneet Batra. It’s terribly unfair, but men tend to lose fat around the stomach much more easily too.

But don’t despair, ladies. It may take a little longer, but you can reach your goal. “The right diet and exercise regimen will definitely show results in the long term,” says Batra.

Put it down to age

The pounds add up over time. “Our metabolism slows down every decade due to a decrease in muscle mass,” says Fernando. The slowdown is approximately 2-8% each decade, but after our 40s, we lose almost 10% muscle mass every 10 years, which means an addition of as much fat. As muscle mass, which burns most calories, goes down, so does our calorie requirement to maintain weight. After your mid-40s, continue with your cardio but add in strength and resistance training, to help preserve and build muscle.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2020 12:34:29 AM |

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