Stay­ing the course

In your ef­fort to lose weight, don’t be side-tracked by myths.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By IN­DRA BALARATNAM

The typ­i­cal Malaysian break­fast is laden with sugar and calo­ries. To lose weight, sub­sti­tute the and with health­ier op­tions.

THERE is much con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion about weight loss. Most have no sci­en­tific ba­sis at all, fur­ther adding to the con­fu­sion. This is how diet myths come about. But when they start to wear down your bet­ter judge­ment, then it’s time to take a step back and use your com­mon sense.

Be­low are some com­mon weight loss myths:

> Diet myth #1: Drink­ing wa­ter will burn off fat.

I am the first to agree that drink­ing enough wa­ter is one of the best health habits you can in­cul­cate. Un­less you’ve been ad­vised by your doc­tor other- wise, the rec­om­men­da­tion to drink at least two litres of wa­ter (about eight cups) through­out the day has many health ben­e­fits, such as keep­ing you hy­drated, pro­vid­ing im­por­tant salts and min­er­als, and has­ten­ing the elim­i­na­tion of waste prod­ucts from your body.

Wa­ter has zero calo­ries but if you’re drink­ing lots of wa­ter in hopes that it will wash away your spare tyre or flabby arms, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen.

Do it right: Re­al­is­ti­cally, weight loss only hap­pens if you con­sume fewer calo­ries than what your body uses up as en­ergy. And this is where wa­ter helps. Drink wa­ter in­stead of highly sweet­ened bev­er­ages which give you noth­ing else but ex­cess calo­ries and dampen your ap­petite to eat nu­tri­tion­ally bal­anced meals. The calo­ries you save from hav­ing less of these sweet drinks – as well as junk snacks – will see a smaller you in no time.

> Diet myth #2: Su­per-fast weight loss plans must be very good.

Of­ten, diet plans that prom­ise weight loss in a very short span of time come with added clinchers, such as no ex­er­cise needed.

When you get to the bot­tom of these crash di­ets, the weight loss comes as a re­sult of con­sum­ing very lit­tle food. At the on­set, you will see some weight loss from dras­ti­cally cut­ting down the calo­ries. But don’t let the ini­tial ex­cite­ment cloud your bet­ter judge­ment for achiev­ing good health. Con­sum­ing too few calo­ries for a pro­longed time can de­prieve your body of im­por­tant nu­tri­ents and cause your metabolism to hit rock bot­tom. And once you start eat­ing prop­erly again, you might gain the weight you lost and more!

Do it right: Like any­thing in life, if it’s too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is. So don’t diet to the point of de­priv­ing your­self of im­por­tant nu­tri­ents. Sen­si­ble meals should be rich in whole grains, lean pro­tein, low-fat dairy, veg­eta­bles and fruit. Be smart at sub­sti­tut­ing fat­ten­ing foods with nu­tri­tious, low­ercalo­rie ones. For in­stance, in­stead of hav­ing roti canai all the time for break­fast, have a bowl of whole­grain ce­real with low fat milk. Or en­joy a bowl of chilled low-fat yo­gurt with fruit in­stead of ice cream. This way, your weight loss diet plan is one built on good nutrition, not fan­tasy.

> Diet myth #3: Ex­er­cise makes you even hun­grier.

We all know that an im­por­tant com­po­nent for achiev­ing weight loss is some form of ex­er­cise. The hu­man body is meant to move, not be sta­tion­ary. How­ever, ur­ban liv­ing and time con­straints have made many peo­ple lead a seden­tary life.

The irony of it is, many peo­ple feel hun­grier af­ter an ex­er­cise ses­sion. How many times have you seen ex­er­cis­ers sweat­ing it out, only to end up in­dulging in a heavy meal be­cause they’re so fam­ished? Be­cause of this cy­cle of ex­er­cis­ing, feel­ing hun­gry af­ter­wards and then overeat­ing, many don’t see the true weight loss ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise.

Do it right: Un­der­stand why you feel hun­gry af­ter work­ing out. Think of it as driv­ing your car. The more you drive it, the more petrol it needs. Sim­i­larly, your body re­quires more food to act as fuel for the in­creased ac­tiv­ity you do. Ah, but herein Wa­ter is an ex­cel­lent sub­sti­tute for sweet­ened drinks. lies the trick. To achieve weight loss, you must sat­isfy your ap­petite with­out tak­ing in more calo­ries than what you just burnt off while ex­er­cis­ing.

So be smart about fit­ting your work­out be­tween meals so you don’t skip meals al­to­gether. Af­ter a work­out, have a snack con­tain­ing car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein, such as low-fat yo­gurt with a fruit, whole­grain ce­real with low-fat milk or a cou­ple of whole­grain crack­ers with a ta­ble­spoon of peanut but­ter. You’re re­fu­elling your­self with calo­ries, but in a way that doesn’t add ex­ces­sive calo­ries. This will also help you not get overly hun­gry be­fore your proper meal time so you don’t overeat on fat­ten­ing foods.

> Diet myth #4: Eat­ing break­fast will make you fat.

It is a myth that break­fast makes you fat. More im­por­tantly is to see what kind of break­fast you typ­i­cally eat. The typ­i­cal Malaysian break­fast choices are usu­ally high in calo­ries and fat. If you con­sis­tently eat such food for break­fast, cou­pled with other poor food choices through­out the day and a lack of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, it’s no won­der that your weight goes up.

Do it right: Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, if you want to ef­fec­tively shed the ki­los, hav­ing a light break­fast within one hour of wak­ing up will rev up your metabolism to en­able your body to be a more ef­fi­cient fat-burn­ing ma­chine through­out the day. Healthy break­fasts need not be elab­o­rate. The rule of thumb for a light, bal­anced break­fast is that it con­sists of whole­grain car­bo­hy­drates and a pro­tein. Think sim­ple, time-sav­ing op­tions such as whole­grain ce­real with low­fat milk, whole­meal bread with an egg, or whole­grain crack­ers with cheese.

De­velop the habit of hav­ing break­fast at home be­fore you leave the house for the day. This will help you break the habit of then end­ing up in some warung or res­tau­rant near your of­fice for yet an­other heavy meal you’ll re­gret later.

Don’t ever let non­sen­si­cal diet myths get the up­per hand. Ap­proach your weight loss with the clar­ity and sen­si­bil­ity of a well-in­formed per­son. – Ar­ti­cle cour­tesy of Nes­tle Fit­nesse ‘Shape Up Your Life­style’ n In­dra Balaratnam is a con­sul­tant di­eti­tian.




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