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