When it comes to fitness, diet and workout go hand in hand. You may have often heard that what you eat makes up for almost 70 per cent of your efforts to get your body in shape. So, if you are working on your glow-up or just furthering your health goals, we spoke to dietitian Shikha Mahajan, holistic nutritionist and founder of Diet Podium, to answer the most-asked questions by fitness enthusiasts:
Should I count calories?
"Generally, I don't recommend this. Being more aware of what you're eating and why you're eating can help with weight management. Savour your meals and think about how your food will feed your body. Listen to the hunger and satiety of your body — eat when your body tells you that you need food, and stop when your body tells you that you're full. Chewing your food well and eating slowly helps you better understand the needs of your body."
Can you eat too much protein? How much do we need?
"Eating too much protein is a tough one to answer. First of all, eating more than 2 g per pound of bodyweight is extreme and no longer useful to a healthy person. Second, protein has 4 calories/grams of excess in a normal dietary plan, which could cause a person to overeat calories and gain unwanted weight. A healthy person who works out or exercises regularly may require 1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight per day. However, the general rule is to consume at least 1 g protein per pound of body weight per day to help with performance and to ensure that your body gets all the amino acids it needs."
What's the best diet?
"The best diet is one that is low in processed foods, added sugars, high in vegetables, and has enough lean protein to prevent muscle breakdown and loss. From there, there is a huge discussion and divergence of ideas about high-grain diets versus low-carb diets, low-fat diets versus fat diets as the majority of calories. Some people recommend animal protein as the preferred protein, while others are those who feel the vegan diet is best. Yet the "right diet" is the one you consider the simplest to execute at the end of the day."
Is the time of day relevant when you eat?
"Our bodies follow the circadian rhythm (a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies how to sleep, wake, eat) and some research shows that we metabolise food poorly when we eat at irregular times ( e.g. sleeping during the day and eating at night). Try to eat at similar times every day, and don't eat right before you go to bed. However, the circadian rhythm does adjust as per your routine, so even if you tend to have night shifts, keeping a routine for sleep schedule and for meals will help your body adjust."
What are some good snack options to keep at my workplace?
"If you're stuck in the office, often without good food choices, the best choice would be to pack healthy nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachio), nut butter, hummus, high-quality protein powder, Greek yogurt, homemade protein bars, vegetable sticks, cans or packs of tuna and fruit. Be careful with your portions, and all of these can keep you in-between regular meals."