KARACHI: When you wake up one fine day and feel a little flabby or when you try to pull on a pair of jeans and realise you can’t button it –it’s time to gear up and hit the gym.
However, working out and having a healthy diet go hand-in-hand when it comes to reducing or maintaining your weight. For an effective weight-loss plan, a reduction in carbohydrates is imperative as they convert into sugar and ends up bloating us. But when you are merely trying to maintain your weight level, then a certain level of carbs is perfectly healthy.
Avoiding junk food, sodas and sugary drinks, foods made in basin (pakorey, dahi bharay and Nimco specifically, which people on diets tend to binge on with each pack containing at least 200 calories and then wondering why they aren’t losing any weight) and not divulging in all kinds of fattening food is all a part of maintaining a healthy diet. According to Sayyam Dar, a Karachi-based nutritionist and owner of Top 2 Toe slimming centre, the maximum number of calories an average woman should be consuming is 1,500 to 1,600 but a lot of women seem to exceed 3,000 on a daily basis.
“Having a bowl of daal or haleem, which is an excellent source of protein and carbs, is a great meal. But if you add rice it actually slashes the whole point as you are doubling the carbs,” says Dar, adding that being aware of what you eat is crucial if you want to watch your diet. “The concept of tarka is also very common in our society and ghee, needless to say, should be avoided at all costs. But we just love adding those extra pounds!”
With winter around the corner, these diets are recommended:
1. Fruit diets
The benefits of fruits cannot be emphasised enough. If your body feels lethargic, cleanse out your internal system with a revitalising two-day fruit diet. By only eating low-calorie fruits throughout the day, such as apples, peaches, oranges, grapefruits, guavas and not high-calories ones such as mangoes and bananas, your body will be consuming multi-vitamins resulting in an increased metabolism and a clean digestive system, making you feel fresher than ever. Fresh juices can also be consumed keeping in mind that they are “fresh” and with no added sugar; when we add sugar to a glass of fresh juice, we are adding 150 to 200 extra calories.
2. Soup diets
While the cabbage soup diet has been overused and overdone, Dar feels it still isn’t consumed in the appropriate manner. “Most people shred cabbage and let it lie in water till it boils for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, which is absolutely wrong,” she says, adding that overcooking vegetables results in them losing their nutritional value and fail to be beneficial to us. The correct way to make cabbage soup: Let the water boil and when you see it bubble, add shredded pieces of cabbage for two to three minutes and it’s ready!
Dar also believes that ready-to-cook soups are the ideal option as they are readily available in stores, easy to make and contain 60 calories a pack which is more than enough. This is a good option for lunch as well — you don’t end up starving yourself throughout the day and then heading home and eating for five people!
Dieter’s note: When you are on any diet, you have to give your digestive system at least two weeks to adjust to the new diet plan before simply giving up because you don’t notice instant results.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Losing weight should not be a month-long plan or a temporary change in your eating habits — it needs to be a permanent lifestyle change. “Get in the habit of consuming two meals a day,” says Dar. “Have a filling breakfast and a complete meal for dinner.” To start an active day, have an egg, a toast, a glass of fresh juice and any fruit — the benefits of consuming an apple on an empty stomach are countless with one being the ability for your body to absorb all the iron an apple has which in turn is a prerequisite for blood cell formation. Butter should be avoided, as Dar says: “Women, please don’t do this to yourself — stop adding that extra fat!” For lunch, have a light sandwich or salad.
Dinner, on the other hand, should be eaten by 8 or 9 pm and not after that. Have some rice or a home-made roti — not from outside, which are normally made in baking powder which is extremely fattening — and follow it up with a 15 to 20 minutes walk to help digest the food before jumping into bed.
Last but not the least, one fact that cannot be emphasised enough: Starving does not help shed weight. When you starve yourself, your body ends up feeding on your existing fat which turns you weak. As a result, you will either become a victim of malnutrition or constipation — so take your pick. Filling your stomach is vital, but with the right quality and quantity of food. Therefore, awareness of the food groups is essential.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2012.
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