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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Why you should NOT diet!

Why you should NOT diet!

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Last updated on: January 07, 2005 12:37 IST

Healthy food

The Low Fat Diet.

The Low Carb Diet.

The Zone Diet.

The Atkins Diet.

The Fruit And Vegetable Diet.

The Don't-Mix-Your-Food-Groups Diet…

With so many fad diets going around, you'd think nutritionists had the obesity problem licked and we could go ahead and choose the diet of our choice according to our food preferences.

Heck, with so many choices, I think I'll make up my own fad diet and make some money. How about calling it the Eat-All-You-Want-And Still-Lose-Some-Weight Diet?

Let's get serious here

Diets might seem attractive, their guarantees might seem believable, and the before-and after-photos might get you exited enough to jump off your couch and grab your wallet.

Let's get one thing straight, folks -- any diet that restricts calories will make you lose at least a little bit of weight. But the real task is keeping the fat off. And this can only be achieved by combining a well-balanced diet with an exercise routine.

Just sitting on that couch chewing those soy snacks won't cut it.

Nutrients derived from food can be divided into two categories – macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

A look at the macronutrients

1. Carbohydrates

This word is considered foul and unhealthy in today's 'Atkins' world.

However we seem to forget that this macronutrient is a major source of fuel for our bodies, as well as our brains.

You must include complex carbohydrates like starches and fibre in your diet.

Stick with unprocessed forms of carbohydrates such as whole grain rice, whole grain bread, oats, beans, etc, to get the most from this food group.

Don't forget, carbohydrates are a source of sustained energy levels.

2. Proteins

What could we find wrong with this ol' macronutrient? The favourite one is: You eat too much protein -- you'll get too muscular!

Protein provides your body with the raw material it needs for tissue growth, repair and maintenance.

Under certain conditions, such as during exercise, protein can be broken down to be used for energy as well.

Stick with leaner sources such as egg whites, low fat dairy products, chicken breast, etc, to avoid all that artery-clogging saturated fat.

3. Fats

Eat fat and you'll get fat -- this is true to a certain extent.

Fats have various functions in the body. They are an essential part of every cell. They are the producers and regulators of hormones. They increase your immunity and lots more.

Try and focus your fat intake on healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, cold water fish and avocados, rather than the not-so-healthy saturated fats (found mostly in animal products) and the supposedly deadly trans fats (found in baked goods like doughnuts and pastry, deep fried foods such as fried chicken, French fried potatoes and chips, and imitation cheese).

The menu

With that, you have a basic idea of the various macronutrients.

The proportion in which they should be eaten would differ according to the lifestyle of the person.

Here, however, are a few basic guidelines:

1. Eat breakfast

You've heard it before, but I'll say it again -- this is the most important meal of the day.

It's the time of the day your body craves food to replenish the nutrients it lost during its overnight fast.

Missing your breakfast means running on an empty gas tank.

This leads to low energy levels, crankiness and grogginess due to low blood sugar levels and low mental alertness.

Besides, you'll feel so hungry, you'll lose control and pig out later during the day.

And NO, a cup of coffee doesn't qualify as breakfast.

2. Get rid off excess fat in your diet

One gram of fat is nine calories (one teaspoon of ghee, for example, contains nine grams of fat).

One gram of protein or carbohydrates is four calories.

Thus, a lower fat diet would allow you to eat much more protein and carbs. At the same time, you would be taking in fewer calories as compared to a higher fat diet.

3. Eat your veggies

Once again, momma was right!

Vegetables provide you with a large amount of vitamins and minerals; most of them contain a very small amount of calories.

Besides, most veggies contain fibre, which helps to fill you up and give you that satisfied feeling at the end of a meal, thus preventing overeating.

3. Eat more often

Whatever your goal, try and eat at least four to five smaller meals during the day instead of two to three square meals.

Your body requires food every few hours, but it can only process that many calories from each meal to perform its functions.

Providing your body with smaller portions of food every few hours is a much better option than overloading it with more food than it can handle, all at one time.

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Rustom Warden, a personal trainer, has been running his own personal training gymnasium in Mumbai since 2002.

Rustom Warden
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