Eat Right, Eat Light
People often try anything to help them lose weight. The reasons to lose weight are many – to be healthy, maintain fitness, or to look and feel better. Most companies that promote special diets or diet plans take advantage of this. They lure people by promising weight loss quickly and easily.
Some “quick-fix” crash diet plans may help you lose weight in the short term. There are plenty of such stylish weight-loss plans that promise exciting results. Many people prefer these instead of making an effort to lose weight through long-term changes in their eating and exercise habits.
Unfortunately, most of these diets are not healthy and do not result in long-term weight loss. On the other hand, some of these diets can be hazardous to your health.
Warning signs of a dubious diet:
Here are some warning signs (red flags) to look for when choosing such plans. Avoid all promotions and products with these features:
- The product or plan claims that you will lose weight even without exercise. Avoid them like the plague. I have personally witnessed some “herbal” preparations that contained hormones like thyroxine (thyroid hormone) to induce unhealthy weight loss. Some products contain medicines like thiazides (diuretics, that induce water loss from your body) and produce “fake” weight loss.
- The claim of quick weight loss – It is not a good idea to lose weight quickly. Losing more than 2-3 kg per month is rapid weight loss, and this does not give your body enough time to adjust. I have seen persons who have developed various health issues, including severe tiredness and syncope after rapid weight loss.
- They show you prominent “before-and-after” comparison photos. Most of these images are fake. Even if they are real photos, they are indeed exaggerated. It is an advertisement, after all.
- They limit the choice of your food and force you to take imbalanced nutrition.
- They advertise endorsements from “clients” or “experts” in weight loss. These people are paid to promote such products and do not mean what they say.
- They demand money in advance.
Healthy suggestions to eat well and remain healthy:
Here are some useful tips for everyone interested in healthy eating habits.
- Breakfast: Please eat breakfast every day and avoid skipping meals.
- Variety: Eat a variety of food items, so that you get essential nutrients.
- Fat, low-fat and healthy fats:
- Limit your intake of saturated fat. Many fried and baked eatables have partially hydrogenated oils, and they are rich in trans fats. Avoid trans fats.
- Most low-fat diets have very high carbohydrates and can be counterproductive. Instead of low-fat, try to eat healthy fats.
- Sugar: Reduce sugar intake. High sugar foods are high in calories and very low in nutrients. Soda (carbonated drinks) and alcohol are very high in calories too. These drinks are so easy and tempting to gulp, the liquid calories in them can add a lot of calorie weight to your diet.
- Modest quantities: Eat a moderate amount in each meal. Stop before you are “fully satisfied” with your meal. Have more substantial portions of fibre-containing foods like vegetables and fruits. If you have conditions like diabetes mellitus, you may need to avoid certain types of fruits.
- Eating during functions and events: In the Indian context, it is common for people to consume high-calorie foods during weddings and other such events.
- Unfortunately, the practice of overfeeding guests is considered a kind gesture here.
- Choose your food items wisely; prefer to eat in buffet services rather than in seated services.
- Exercise: Regular exercise is critical. Pick any activity that you enjoy and do it for at least 45-60 minutes every day, at least 5-6 times a week.
- Physical activity: Even in your routine daily life, avoid using vehicles for short distances and avoid lifts and escalators, whenever you can. Get a pedometer or use your smartphone’s fitness tracking features to target about 8000 – 10000 steps per day.
These tips will help you healthily lose weight. Some quick-fix diet products will induce weight loss by reducing water content in your body or muscle mass, not body fat. It defeats the very purpose of weight loss.
Short-term Vs Long-term weight loss:
Quick weight loss often leads to rebound weight gain. Healthy weight loss needs patience and perseverance.
Eat right, eat light and most importantly, wait, to lose weight.
Dr Shashikiran Umakanth (MBBS, MD, FRCP Edin.) is Professor & Head of Internal Medicine at MMMC, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, and has clinical responsibilities at the Department of Medicine, Dr TMA Pai Hospital, Udupi, Karnataka, India.