Don’t Punish! Just Flourish!
Food is your body’s fuel. Without fuel, your body wants to shut down.
– Ken Hill
“Dieting” is taboo for almost everyone. More than encouragement, you will hear a lot of discouraging comments. Friends or may be some family members trying to lure you into that sweet dish, or keep discussing food with you all the time. This is mostly, because they associate dieting with starving. But this is not true. Dieting is not starving, it is eating what is right. Choosing your food is the key in every diet plan. There are many diet plans available in the market. While, it is really really advisable to begin your journey with professional help, here are some aspects that you may need to be careful about during the journey.
BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. The BMR varies by age, height and weight and most importantly, your exercise pattern. The BMR when calculated once, gives you a base to calculate your bodily requirement of calories. Then depending on the level of activity you perform you can decide the goal. If you wish to plan based on BMR Calculation, please take professional advise.
Initially, when I began my journey I was not really aware of this calculation. My goal was to burn calories as much as possible. In order to loose weight the simple mathematical calculation is add less, subtract more. So exercise to loose more calories and eat lesser calories (not lesser food).
The idea of a nutritionist asking you to give up on fried food, bakery products or sweet, is because of the fact that a small portion of these have a large number of calories. You wont feel full by eating a small portion and then end up adding calories.
Cutting Back on Carbs
The first step is to cut down on your sugar intake and carbohydrates. On doing this, your hunger levels go down and you may end up eating lesser calories. With a low carb diet, the body uses the stored fat as a replacement to produce energy and thus it becomes really effective. This does not mean that you should completely stop eating them. Carbs are needed in moderate quantity for our body as they give us the energy for heavy workouts. In most of the foods we eat, we inadvertently end up consuming carbs and thus, we need to be conscious about the carbs that we are consuming.
When I began my fitness journey, I had given up completely on sugar, rice and bread for the initial 3 months. In the initial 3 months I lost a good 10 kgs by just cutting down on sugar and carbs. However, after 3 months I began running longer distances sometimes a little more than 5 kms on a daily basis. I realised that I was not able to sustain the running and experienced fatigue. That is when I added, 1 toast in the breakfast and a portion of rice in the lunch and then in dinner as needed. This really helped me to get my energy back and reduce the fatigue levels. Here you need to listen to your body and understand what you may require based on your workout schedule. The fact remains, that the lunch and diner had larger portions of dal and sabji or salad and lesser portions of rice.
For the longest time, people have criticized rice in the rice vs. chapati debate. Scientifically, both of them have the same qualities and have their own pros and cons. Probably, chapati will not make you hungrier sooner as compared to rice. But, it really cannot be replaced. Yes, Maida and for that matter and “gehu” roti is also something that no trainer would advise. If you really have to opt for it, then try to include a millet like bhakri or so in your food. Rice worked well for me, and did not really affect my weight loss journey, especially as the intensity of my workout was on the higher side.
Proten, Fat & Veggies
The diet needs to be balanced. Each meal needs to include a good protein source, a fat source, good amount of vegetables and small portion of complex carbs, such as whole grains.
Protiens are important to help rebuild lost muscle due to your daily workout regime. It helps maintain your health and build good muscle mass and thus weight gain or loss. You can get regular protien from meat [beef, chicken, pork and lamb], fish and seafood [salmon, trout, shrimp etc.], whole eggs, beans, legumes, sprouts etc etc. I am a non-vegetarian, so I would start my day will boiled eggs. Whole eggs are a good source of nutrients if you are working out well. Chicken is a good source or protein, but it looses its nutrient value when you make dishes like Biryani or Chicken Masala or Butter Chicken. 150gms of Chicken in a meal, boiled and a few spices added to it becomes a great source of protein. Similarly about 100 gms of Paneer with a lot of veggies, cooked in lesser oil is good as well. But frankly, dals, pulses, legumes, sprouts are a great source of protien as well. Whether you are vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, our daily food has a lot of source of protiens. Read about your options and discuss with like minded individuals, and you will find a lot of them.
Personally, I am not in favour of any protein powder or supplements. However, if your target is bulking up your body, then you may need additional protien supplements. But protein supplements should be administered with caution and with proper advise from a professional.
Green Veggies are an important source of various nutrients. Learn to load your plates with salads or a nice sabzi. Keep large portions of dal and sabji in your food. This is what I followed in the inital days and it really helped me reduce my appetite considerably. Interestingly, they can be filling, without increasing many calories.
Fats are required in your balanced diet, but they have to be a very small portion. In our indian cooking we tend to use oil regularly. While we cannot avoid it, fats such as butter, refined oil and coconut oil can be used but in moderation. When you go online you will read a lot about using olive oil. Olive oil has a very high heating point. This means that in Indian cooking you can leave your food half cooked, which is not really healthy. So I am not sure if we can really use olive oil for Indian cooking. But yes, if you are trying Italian Salads or a half baked / cooked foreign dishes, olive oil can be a choice for seasoning. Nevertheless, for Indian cooking sticking to basics really helps. Just reduce the quantity of oils that you use. If you use 1 tbsp, try using 1 tsp.
When you decide to reduce the portions of your meals, it will be important to space out all meals and have about 5-6 meals in a day. While we have 3 major meals, we may have about 2-3 snack meals. Dry fruits, non-buttered toast (bread toast), cut-up seasonal fruits can be great meals. As a pre-workout meal I normally have either a toast with peanut butter or dry fruits with black coffee. Morning brunch for me is always one or 2 fruits. For evening snack I sometimes try some oats recipie or dry fruits or a couple of boiled eggs. I have developed a taste for tea without sugar and after all these years now it is kind of tough to go back to adding sugar to my tea.
When you begin this journey, the first thing you will encounter is that this is not easy. Well, if it was; then wouldnt everyone follow it? The diet plan requires a lot of thought process. It is important to include items that you like rather than eating what you dislike and give up on the process. So choose your food wisely. As you go deeper, you will realise that there are many many options to choose from and believe me when I say, you will never go hungry.
Stay Fit! Stay Healthy!