“Should I stop eating carbs if I want to lose weight” or “I am on a low-fat diet but still not losing weight. Why?” or “Is dairy bad for me”. These questions come up almost every day in my conversations with people.
Our “food wisdom” is often swayed by the food marketing industry. Last decade they made fat the “villain” and I see that happening to our good ol’ friend “carbs” now.
All macronutrients – Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins are required for a healthy body. It’s the form in which we eat them make them good or bad for us.
Adults and “active” children need approximately “50%” of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates or carbs can be “simple” or “complex” based on their chemical makeup and what your body does with them. Simple carbs are quick-burning fuels. They very quickly break down into sugar in your system. You want to avoid these. They can be found in cakes, processed foods, soft drinks, candies etc..Complex carbs take more time to break down, which allows for a slower, more gradual release of energy. Whole grains, beans, legumes, and starchy vegetables are all examples of complex carbs. Complex carbs have fiber and vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients so go ahead and enjoy your “roti”, rajma-rice, potatoes or any of your favorite complex carbs without guilt.
Similarly, there are good and bad fats. Fats from coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, and fish are all good for us. Chemically created fats that are made in a lab, like partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats, are what causes harm to our body. Avoid all foods that contain trans fat. These fats are found in most of the packaged and fast foods.
So how do you lose weight then?
The answer is not that simple. A human body is very complex and many factors contribute to its functioning like nutrition, environment, lifestyle, even our thoughts as our mind and body are closely inter-linked. The first step is to understand the underlying cause of weight gain – is it stress, is it junk food or eating outside or is it because of your erratic lifestyle and eat/sleep patterns. Once you understand the root cause, it will be easier to plan your weight loss. Most people go on “strict” diets by eliminating various food groups without understanding the root cause but If the cause is not addressed, the weight will come back – pretty soon.
Here are the four pillars for a healthy lean body: L.E.A.N.
Lifestyle – how you live? Do you have a disciplined lifestyle? How well do you sleep at night? Do you eat/sleep in a “fixed” window every day? All of these factors control how your body functions. Also, there are so many toxins in everyday products that have impacted our health in a negative way. From household cleaners to cosmetics – everything is full of harmful chemicals that we expose our body every single day (a topic for another time) . Try to simplify your life by having a routine and using natural products whenever possible.
Exercise – how do you move? People always ask what is the best exercise to lose weight and the answer is whatever exercise you love to do. For some people, it could be walking/running, for others yoga or dancing. Whatever you enjoy doing is what is good for your body. Also, sitting all day and then going to gym for one hour is not a good idea. Stay active by walking, taking stairs or just standing instead of sitting whole day. Also, don’t “over-exercise” to lose weight faster. Too much exercise could put stress on the body and will be counter-productive in your effort to lose weight.
Attitude – how do you think? A lot of studies have shown a strong correlation of stress to weight gain, especially around your mid-section (tummy) area. No amount of diet or exercise will work if you are constantly stressed out. Try deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation to manage stress and the weight issue will automatically be taken care of.
Nutrition – how do you eat? First of all, you don’t need to eat less to lose weight – you have to eat right. Add more raw fruits and veggies to your diet: Most of the food we eat is either cooked or processed, which are depleted of most nutrients. Try to add more unprocessed, uncooked raw food in your diet. Start your day with a bowl of fresh fruit and have a salad with your lunch and dinner. If you need to eliminate something, eliminate junk, processed food. Eat all food groups because they are full of nutrients that your body needs. Fat or carbs do not make you fat; eating junk food that is full of toxins makes you fat.
These are some simple guidelines that clarify some myths about food/diet and how to start thinking about weight loss. Start off by introspecting and making small positive lifestyle changes based on your root cause. Follow LEAN to get lean!
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need additional help to meet your goals.