While it is true that what you eat and how much determines your weight to a significant extent, fad diets can do more harm than good while eating too little can cause long-term health problems. Experts say there are healthier ways of managing your weight.
Foods that burn fat
“Foods can assist in burning fat by boosting your metabolism and inducing thermogenesis, two of the most important aspects of fat loss. Food also plays a role in managing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which in turn helps create a favourable environment for fat loss,” says Luke Coutinho, holistic nutrition expert and founder of Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems. First on his list is apple cider vinegar. “The benefits of apple cider vinegar extend beyond burning fat. Scientific studies suggest various health benefits at a therapeutic level when it is used regularly and in the right way. It stimulates the release of digestive acids and promotes blood glucose control, which aids healthy fat loss,” says Coutinho.
Next are spices. “Spices, such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and turmeric, have great thermogenic and anti-inflammatory effects. They boost circulation and help control insulin and blood sugar levels—all vital when trying to lose fat,” says Coutinho. Coconut oil is equally good. “Not all fats are created equal. Fats like coconut oil and ghee are unique because instead of getting stored as fat, they are utilised by our body to produce energy thereby increasing fat burn, if used in the right proportion,” says Coutinho. “The effects of medium-chain fatty acids like coconut oil on abdominal fat can be pleasantly surprising. You just need a tablespoon of cold pressed oil for that.”
The ayurveda approach
In ayurveda, planning a diet for reducing fat is based on age, gender, metabolism, body constitution and health history. However, there are some general habits one can adopt. “A light dinner, a gap of two to three hours from sleep and a mild walk after dinner help keep body weight in check. It is also imperative to follow regular eating timings,” says Dr Reji Raj, general manager and senior ayurveda consultant at Amal Tamara, a holistic wellness ayurveda centre in Kerala. Dr Raj also recommends infusions of curry leaves and fenugreek to fight fat. “A plant-based diet and garcinia cambogia can help with fat loss. Minimising the intake of dairy products and carbohydrate-rich, oily and fried food is a must,” he says.
Can superfoods help?
Nutritionist and gut health expert Avantii Deshpande swears by nuts and seeds. “These are effective in your weight-loss journey. They are anti-inflammatory and rich in protein, Omega 3 fatty acids (good fat) and fibre. These foods are best as a snack and mid-meal choices as they will keep you fuller for a longer time without really causing insulin spikes,” says Deshpande. She also suggests including two tablespoons of mixed seeds and 10-15 nuts in the daily diet in the form of snacks, in ladoos, smoothies, breakfast bowls and salads, or even as nut butter and chutney.
Deshpande also suggests good intake of curd or buttermilk as these are rich in probiotic lactobacilli which aid gut health. “Research has proven that a healthy gut is the gateway to good health, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of metabolic diseases, including obesity, as well as better mental health,” she says.
What not to eat
According to Rohit Shelatkar, fitness and nutrition expert and vice-president at a UK-based Vitabiotics Limited, removing processed sugar from diet goes a long way in shedding the extra kilos. “Reduce consumption of carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and wheat. Avoid trans fats in the form of fast foods and deep-fried items,” says Shelatkar. The trick, he says, is to replace calories with fibre. High-fibre foods take longer to chew and leave you feel full. “Eating high-fibre foods, such as carrot, apple, cabbage or broccoli, two eggs a day, 300-400 grams of yogurt, and drinking lots of water and sleeping well will help you get into shape faster,” says Shelatkar.
Coutinho advises overall lifestyle changes as well. “Focusing on foods alone and not making essential changes in your lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity, emotional health and sleep isn’t going to help achieve your goals. The fat-burn process is dependent on the quality of lifestyle,” he says. We couldn’t agree more.
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