Tip the scales for nutrition

Tip the scales for nutrition

Proper nutrition and nourishment are vital for achieving the ideal weight, writes Dr Kiran Rukdikar


Diets are the first thing that people change to lose weight and there are indeed a dime and dozen to choose from for quick results. Diets tend to tip scales as they sometimes click but for some, a diet plan can leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Over a period of time, the word diet has acquired a negative connotation. There are often doubts raised as to what is a diet and how different it is from nutrition? Diet is the food you eat and drink, whereas nutrition is the nourishment you get from the food you consume. The trick is to start nourishing your body with food that helps in reducing fat and keeping diseases at bay.

Money has a vital role to play in our lives, similarly calorie has an important role in nutrition. An intake of high calorie food is the main reason for obesity and calorie deficit nutrition is the key for weight and fat loss. You can’t be normal and become obese in a week or month’s time. It takes a huge amount of calorie-dense food (and lesser physical activity) over a longer period of time that make metabolic changes to gain more weight. Food has to be consumed according to ideal (for males) or optimum body weight (for females) and not actual body weight. The calorie or energy required for a body to live, grow, fight a disease is dependent on the age, height, gender, sleeping hours and level of activities.

Calories or energy?

We get calories from carbs, proteins and fats in the food. Carbs and proteins give us the same calories or energy (four calories per gram), fat gives us more (nine calories per gram). So it’s a no brainer that we should consume less amount of fat or oil and foods containing fats. Fat/oil-based foods can be broadly divided into naturally occurring foods like oil seeds, nuts and animal fats, man-made fried foods (samosas, vadas, farsan etc.) and milk products (cheese, butter etc.). It is essential to avoid all these fat /oil containing foods when you’re on a weight reduction plan.

Carbohydrate or carbs are a major source of energy and can be divided into two parts — simple sugar and complex carbs. Complex carbs come from naturally occurring cereals/grains, vegetables, fruits, roots and tubers etc. They are a crucial part of our nourishment and can be consumed within a required limit. Simple sugar makes a huge negative impact on our health. Man-made simple sugar and jaggery is being used in making many sweets and deserts. The amount of energy we consume while eating these simple carbs is huge. So avoiding the intake of food items loaded with simple carbs will help a lot in weight reduction. Protein is essential for life — it’s the building block of every human cell and helps in the vital biochemical functions of the human body. It is important for growth, development as well as for the repair of tissues. It is also a great source of energy. As anything in excess is harmful, so is protein. A different school of thought is ‘more the protein, better for weight-loss’. Unfortunately, the body can’t handle that extra protein and can harm the kidneys and other organs. Moderation is the key. For fat-free protein, eat egg whites, skin-free chicken and seafood. Vegetarians can have pulses, legumes and fat-free milk. 

Since most people eat home-cooked food, reducing the number of calories should not be an issue. Eating out should be a combination of low oil/fat, low sugar and reducing the portion size. If you are eating a balanced meal of different types of carbs, proteins and fats in required amount as per your ideal body weight, you will get essential vitamins and minerals. Hunger and thirst are two important cues, follow them. Reward your body with good food so that it works for you in a healthy way and for a longer period. The journey to weight loss is not about eating less, it is about eating right.

(The author is obesity physician &
director, Liven Weight Loss Center)