It can be quite confusing to tailor a healthy diet for yourself with a slew of varying information circulating on the Internet and even in your own friend group! However, there are some dieting ground rules that can help you start off your fitness regime. Dietitian Mac Singh, founder of Fitelo responds to some burning dieting questions that are sure to clear the air!
Do carbs actually make you fat?
"It is astonishing how carbohydrates have suddenly got a bad name after being a staple part of our diet for more than 170,000 years! Carbs have a protein-sparing effect that helps our body retain muscles and use carbohydrates as the primary source of energy. Moreover, carbs such as fibre are crucial for your gut health and to prevent many lifestyle diseases. The key is to opt for healthier complex carbohydrates rather than simpler, processed ones rather than completely eliminating this food group."
Is exercising the best way to lose weight?
"When it comes to losing weight, the first step one can think of is to hit the gym to shed a few kilos. However, exercise is not the best nor the only way to lose weight. To understand this, you need to know how your body burns energy. The type of body fat percentage burnt by your body is your basal metabolic rate, 10 per cent the thermogenesis of your body and only 15-30 per cent burnt by your body is physical activity. So, try to focus on nutrition first if you want to drop those kilos faster."
Should I count my calories?
"Whether the 300 Kcals are from a pint of beer or a bowl of salad or a slice of cake, calorie-counting does not really explain the nutrients you are consuming. So, what you eat can be high in calories but low in nutrition, such as diet soda that might be a zero-calorie drink but is not really a healthy product. The better option is to make sure you meet your daily nutritional needs instead."
Should I take nutritional supplements instead?
"Marketing departments of supplement companies have successfully brainwashed us that we cannot fulfil our bodies' nutritional requirements. And, for that, it's necessary to consume supplements. Most of these supplements available in the market today are synthetic which can be made from petroleum oil to coal tar to acids. Thus, these artificial supplements can have side effects. So, consult your dietitian to gauge your requirements and take supplements accordingly."
How much protein do I actually need?
"The protein requirement of your body depends upon your age and your physical activity levels. But these days protein is promoted as the ultimate survival nutrient giving rise to the trend of protein supplements, protein bars, protein spreads and whatnot. On average, a sedentary adult requires 0.8 gm of protein per kg of body weight. If you are a couch potato, consuming a protein shake can do more harm than any good."