Health

Eat to lose

You’ve been on a diet since, well, you can’t even remember. You’ve been depriving yourself of cakes, bakes, shakes… everything and anything your tastebuds crave. But the results don’t seem worth the effort. Here’s what you should know about the food you eat.

Your body is unique. Your friend looks oh-so-svelte post a certain diet, and you want that body! Doesn’t always happen. Your body will respond to similar foods in very different ways.

“Every plan needs to be tweaked according to a person’s medical history, biometrics (weight, height at different stages in life), lifestyle, appetite, exercise patterns and so on,” explains Delhi-based sports nutritionist Lovneet Batra. “The plan has to be flexible; it must change to accommodate the changes in your body as you go along.” To make it easier to sustain, it must include foods you like.

Fads are simply bad. Though you may be tempted by the promises, it’s a lifestyle change you’re looking at. “On a restrictive diet, you lose the first 3-5 kg, which is basically water weight, easily, then reach a plateau,” says Ryan Fernando, sports nutritionist, Qua Nutrition, Bengaluru.

When you return to your regular eating pattern (which you will, eventually), you’re likely to gain more than you lost. Low-carb diets can lower your metabolism, bringing down your body’s fat-burning capacity.

“When your calorie intake is significantly reduced, your body can go into starvation mode, and instead of burning fat, it starts storing fat,” says Delhi-based nutritionist Rupali Datta.

Diets that have few carbohydrates lower energy levels, affecting your ability to exercise.

They could even cause fluid and electrolyte loss. “For proper utilisation of proteins by the body, carbs are essential,” explains Batra. “High protein-low carb diets can lead to uric acid formation,” she warns, and this could stress your liver and kidneys, causing kidney stones and gout.

Restrictive diets often remove certain fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, which contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that prevent chronic diseases like high blood pressure, osteoporosis and heart disease. So beware! Short-term benefits could translate into long-term losses.

Labels have deceptive messages. Low-calorie/baked/organic packaged foods may not be all they claim to be. “Foods labelled low-fat actually contain carbs, trans fats and fillers,” says Datta. Emulsifiers, refined grains and sugars in processed food can lead to inflammation, which brings on belly fat.

As for those supposedly healthy breakfast cereals, “They are like desserts, loaded with sugar,” says Batra. “It’s better to eat a paneer paratha for breakfast.” So stick to fruits, veggies, whole grains and nuts, rather than those deceptively-labelled packaged foods.

Thinking of switching to diet sodas to cut down on calories? “They leach calcium from your bones,” warns Batra. Oh and organic? Yes, it may be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t packed with calories. Packaged food is packaged food, and best kept to the minimum. Period.

You may not realise how much you’re consuming. Tempted by the sizzling dosa at the roadside dhaba? Fernando warns: “One gram of oil is 9 calories and one tablespoon is about 15 gm. The average dosa takes two tablespoons, which adds up to about 270 calories.” So you’d probably need a couple of hours to work that off! Again, a boiled egg would have 88 Kcal, while a fried egg would have about 161 Kcal. If you prefer to butter your toast for breakfast, you add approximately 45 Kcal per teaspoon for every slice of toast. A piece of tandoori fish is about 174 Kcals, while fried fish fingers are about 443 Kcal. So you may think you’re eating healthy — an egg, whole wheat toast or fish — but what is added to them could make a difference.

Too much of a good thing is bad. If you can’t figure out how you’re gaining weight despite eating only healthy food, this may be your problem. You can gain extra calories from low-calorie, healthy food like nuts, cheese and dark chocolate, if you binge on them.

Very little causes weight gain. Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, is a very bad idea. “When your calorie intake is significantly reduced, your metabolism slows down, and the body starts storing fat instead of burning it,” says Datta. You also tire easily and your body’s endurance levels fall, making it difficult to keep up a diet regimen.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2020 12:15:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/weight-loss-by-eating-right/article19575897.ece

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