Carbs- Essential part of your weight loss diet

In my weight loss consulting practice, I am surprised at the number of people who come and tell me that they have decided to move away from carbs because their gym instructor or friend has told them to do it. Unfortunately there are many quacks, who do not have a good understanding of nutrition and advice different diets for weight loss based on hear-say. They will not take any responsibility for what happens to your health based on your advice.

A daily diet is a balancing act, firstly of calories to make sure that you have enough energy through the day to continue the lifestyle that you are pursuing. Also it is a balancing act to make sure that you get sufficient amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats.

weight loss diet
balanced nutrition necessary while planning weight loss

A lot of people have problem with this, while they are managing weight loss. They come back and tell me.. I want to lose weight – why are you telling me to consume carbs and fats… Well my answer is they are required. The only thing that you need to do is to make sure that you maintain the balance.

Carbohydrates – More commonly referred to as carbs, this is the body’s primary source of fuel and supplies us with a lot of our energy. You will find two diverse kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Sugars often make up simple carbs while starches and fibers make up complex carbs. Carbohydrates are utilized to produce glucose, and although an overabundance of carbs will trigger your body to store the additional glucose as fat, if taken in moderation they’ll supply your body with plenty of punch and energy that is vital to maintain your daily lifestyle

Proteins – Protein helps your body develop and repair muscle. As your body breaks things down, by way of running, working out or other physical activity, protein builds it back up. It’s essentially the maintenance system for our body. Consuming excess proteins will result in protein accumulation in the body and can lead to uric acid related disorders like Gout, which can be very painful.

Fats – Although it’s the ultimate taboo word, our body needs fat to function correctly. Fat consumption is needed for organ function, works as a lubricant and is also utilized as a secondary source of fuel. Fat can be either saturated or unsaturated, with unsaturated being the overall healthier alternative. When balanced into your diet, fat is an essential factor for your health.

Vitamins and minerals –Various forms of vitamins and minerals improve essential bodily processes. Vitamins and minerals can assist with everything from the prevention of certain diseases to growing strong bones and wholesome teeth. Researching and discovering the particular effects of each vitamin or mineral can help you establish what to add into your diet.

Becoming more comfortable with basics of nutrition will aid with the worries of keeping a balanced diet. It’ll also supply you with rewards of understanding how the food you eat can impact your health.

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Keeping to your weight loss plan in the monsoons

If you are used to exercising outdoors, then the monsoons are a dampener on your plans. How do you go about sticking to your weight loss plan in the monsoons. You get up at 6am only to find the rains pouring down, making it almost impossible to even make a quick dash to your car without getting soggy and uncomfortable?

Weight Loss in the monsoon season
Keeping to your Weight Loss in the monsoon season

To continue to stick to your weight loss plan in the monsoons you need to do two things.

1) Ensure that you pay attention to your diet & nutrition (considering that your exercise levels are going to be reduced)

2) Invent exercises that you can do indoors and compensate for your high calorie outdoor burnout

Typical Diet changes in Monsoons :

  • Drink purified or boiled water because the ground water, particularly in cities, is affected by overflowing drains and sewage. If you find yourself less thirsty than, for instance, in summer, don’t worry. People who suffer from arthritis should drink warm water with a little tulsi and dalchini first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. This improves bowel movements and also decreases pain in the joints.
  • Corn Cob – Monsoons bring with it your favorite buttawala . Enjoy your evenings with roasted corn (with lemon & salt)
  • Soups – It can get pretty chilly indoors with all the rain around. Cosy yourself with some nice hot soups. Corn,Mushroom, Vegetables,chicken, whichever way you want to
  • Avoid eating raw vegetables & fruits, especially outside. Rains bring with it the common water borne diseases. If you are eating salads at home, make sure that you cut it just prior to your meal, not hours before it..

Indoor exercises for the monsoons

  • Lie down on your stomach. Now with your palms and toes touching the floor, push up. Then with your toes firmly on the floor, bring your upper body as close to the floor as possible and push up again, fast. Complete as many pushups as you can in 30-60 seconds.
  • Assume a comfortable stance with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width and your toes pointing out slightly. Now push your hips back and keeping your back straight, sit down as if you are sitting on a chair. These are called free squats. The aim is to get your hips and thighs at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your knees do not protrude beyond your feet or you’re not doing it right. Now stand up using your heels to push up and squat down again. Do as many as you can for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Burpees: From a standing position squat down, drop your hands to the ground and jump your feet back to assume a push-up position. Do a push-up. Jump your legs forward to between your hands then jump up into the air and land back into the squat. Do as many as you can for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • High-knees or high- step run: Stand in a spot and bring your knees to the chest fast. It’s a combination of running on the spot and bringing your knees high. Do this for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Spot jogging/skipping/dancing  – Make the music work for you. Time your activity. Enjoy a great workout indoors.

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Your healthy summer nutrition plan

Welcome summer with a change in your nutrition plan.  Believe it or not, but your summer nutrition plan needs to be different than your usual one. Sure, the basics stay the same – you need to eat a balanced diet, watch your calorie intake, etc. However, there are some extra things that you have to pay attention to when the temperatures outside start to rise.

Here are a few smart nutrition tips to remember this summer:

1.    Drink plenty of water. It is always important that you get enough water in your diet. Water helps to make all of your bodily functions work properly. It helps with the digestion of any of the other foods that you take in. Drinking water helps to keep your energy levels up. It’s particularly important in the summer since it’s so warm outside and it causes dehydration. Drink the minimum of eight glasses of water per day. Try to get in other forms of water as well.

2.    Cut back on the caffeine. Not only do you want to make sure that you are getting enough water in the summer but you also need to make sure that you’re not getting too much caffeine. Among other things, caffeine can dehydrate the body, which will negate the positive effects of all of that water that you’re drinking. You can’t afford to have that happening during the hot summer months so you should cut back on coffee and aerated drinks. If you can’t stand to only drink water then you can add unsweetened herbal iced tea and low-fat milk to your diet.

3.    Get in your proteins. Many people tend to reduce their protein intake during the warmer months of the year. Your body just doesn’t crave all of those meats in hot weather. However, you don’t want to neglect protein altogether. It’s an important part of your diet especially when you are very active outdoors and having to do with chlorinated swimming!

4.   Be smart about your salads. Many people start to eat a lot of fresh salads during the summer months. This is a great idea because salads are easy to prepare, don’t require cooking in a hot kitchen and are healthy for your body. However, you do have to make sure that you’re using smart nutrition when you eat a lot of salad. The main thing is to pay attention to how much dressing you put on your salads and what type of dressing you are using. A fresh dressing made from lemons and olive oil is going to be a lot healthier for you than a creamy packaged dressing.

5.    Get enough potassium. Many people tend to be more active in the summer months. There are more hours in the day so you have more time to get outside and horse around. Unfortunately, sweating during the summer months can cause muscle problems because it throws off your electrolytes. You can avoid this problem by making sure that you get enough potassium into your diet during the summer months. Good sources of potassium include bananas and several other fruits.

6.  Make sure you get loads of vitamin C. Dehydration during summer can drain essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Make sure that you get loads of vitamin C. In the summer months, you can have your dose of vitamin C from raw mangoes (Kairi Panhe) as well as several kokum and amla based juices.

7. Eat fruit smoothies instead of ice cream. It’s tempting to eat some foods during the summer that really don’t offer the best nutrition for you. Ice cream is a terrific example of a summer food like this. Learn to make substitutions so that you’re eating foods that are just as refreshing but a lot healthier for you. Substituting fruit smoothing (made from milk, yogurt and fresh fruit) for your ice cream is a great example of how to do this. Another easy alternative is to have Lassi or buttermilk (with asafoetida)

8. Make sure that your food is fresh. All of that great nutrition that you’re getting from following these other tips is going to go right out the window if you make yourself sick by eating foods that aren’t fresh. This is a particular concern in the summer because the temperatures get warmer and foods spoil more quickly and can lead to stomach problems like gastro.



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Will I lose weight – What’s the weight loss guarantee?

Amidst all the consumerism, people do look for guarantees in everything that they take on. Then how can weight loss be any different. If you happen to glance through some of the ads that appear in newspapers, magazines,there are all sorts of assurances and guarantees that are on offer. Does someone try and go behind this to find out — what happens if the desired outcome does not come true??

In the nutrition/weight loss world, this is very true as well. There are a host of agencies providing weight loss guarantee using a host of mechanisms, but has someone spent time to go down two levels deeper? .

Weight loss is a simple equation and we only aim to help people understand how the equation works.

1) Consume food, as per your lifestyle requirements and based on what fits your medical profile. Also don’t try to do something drastically different. Try and keep things simple. Eat what you like (with the limitations of calorific value of foods)

2) Be aware of the calorific value of the foods that you consume and try to balance your nutrition to curtail the total number of calorie intake to a certain maximum per day (We will need to arrive at this based on your current lifestyle, metabolism and medical profile)

3) Make sure that you burn your calories with some simple physical activity. Walking is just ideal and about 45 mins to 60 mins of walking 5 times a week should help you manage your objectives pretty well.

Maintaining a balance of all the three elements above is a tough challenge and this is what we nutritionists/dietitians work on helping you with. After all that’s what professionals in every field do (right?).

We provide you with alternate food groups and nutritional information that helps you make an intelligent choice and manage your objectives better. In some of my patients, initially weight loss is a bit of a challenge, but once the concept is understood, they never ask for any weight loss guarantees, because their weighing scale is already providing them with the weight loss guarantee.

Remember that fad diets or starvation will also help you lose weight, but it is not possible to sustain that diet,besides being unhealthy. It is important to follow a diet that suits your requirements, yet helps you achieve your objectives.



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How to ensure healthy nutrition for your children

Your children are your life’s treasures. They need you to take good care of them. One way is to ensure that they are always healthy. However, there are some instances when feeding your children healthy nutrition in foods can be quite a challenge. It’s hard to encourage your kids to eat the right kind of food all the while, but to make it easier especially for them, if you can serve plenty of variety and colour.

As parents, you need to continuously come up with inventive healthy recipes that your kids will look forward to and are also very enjoyable. To help you with your dish choices you need to know what food groups to serve your children. The “food plate” will guide you as to what is a recommended serving, in what certain food group, and what combinations to serve your children. When picking out healthy recipes, it is important that you always remember that kids are generally very choosy, so consider what different foods they all like.

Because of their growing years, they need healthy nutrition including proteins and carbohydrates for energy. It is important that you do not stuff them with junk food. Also there are varied opinions about whether health drinks served with milk really provide the necessary nutrients. In fact milk is best and needed by children till they are 1 year old. After this, you should leave the choice to them. Include a lot of curds, flavored yoghurts, puddings, which are much more healthy and filling too.

For mid-evening snacks, avoid canned and packaged fried food which contains color and preservatives. Instead prefer fresh foods like different types of dosas (you can use different kinds of flour to ensure variety). You can incorporate brown bread sandwiches, include cheese, paneer, or salads. If you are non-veg, you can go ahead and consume egg, chicken in these sandwiches as well. You can have roasted nuts like chana, peanuts, cashews, almonds. You can also have jaggery based products like nougat, chikkis. you can also give parathas, milk shakes, fresh fruit shakes. steamed items like idli, dhoklas, which are much more healthier than packaged foods.

Do yourself and your child a big favour and help them to build up a habit of healthy nutrition. Believe me it is a big worry to see your child growing up to be unhealthy!



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Visible & Invisible fats in a weight loss program

While you are on a weight loss diet, wouldn’t it be great if you could see through the fats that you consume in your daily diet. Mind you, I am in no way saying that fats are bad for your body, but consuming excess fats can cause undesirable effects, while you are on a weight loss diet.

I often talk about this concept of visible fats and invisible fats. In most instances, for the food that we consume for the major meals, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, we have a fair idea of the fats that we are consuming.This is typically the amount of oil/ghee/butter that we are using as our cooking medium. This applies to all methods of cooking like baking, frying, grilling etc.

The other types of fats go un-noticed as we consume them involuntarily assuming that there are hardly any fats in it. These are what I call as invisible fats. Typical examples are packaged foods, namkeens like sev, farsan, cookies that are rich in butter, khari biscuits, peanuts. We use these items liberally without knowing what effects they can have on us.

Anything in moderation is not bad, but if you are consuming invisible fats, to maintain your nutrition balance, you need to compensate elsewhere, which is usually difficult as most people find it difficult to compromise on their main meals.

In summary, while you focus all your attention on visible fats, do keep in mind about invisible fats that you keep consuming from time to time.



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Why both quality & quantity are important in a weight loss diet

I have faced many common conversations… I did not eat any fried food, I completely gave up sweets and I exercised so much, still I have not lost any weight…I don’t think this weight loss diet works.. The real fact is that in a weight loss diet, both quantity and quality are equally important .

quality and quantity in weight loss dietWhat then does this quality and quantity mean?

Quality – Our body cannot survive on just one type of food group. You need proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats. All of these are available in different forms in different types of foods. You need to consume the right foods, depending on your health condition, lifestyle needs, and something that suits your medical profile.

Quantity – Our body requires a proper mix of the various nutrients.  Eating excess of one food group does not fill in the requirement of nutrients that other food groups provide. A balance is always recommended. Typically any excess, apart from what the body requires is stored as fat.  Also, while you are on a weight loss diet, eating larger quantities of non-fried, or non-sweet items is equally harmful to your objectives. It is important to know how much to consume and when.

It is important that you take up a diet that suits your lifestyle. Taking up a diet that drastically reduces your intake (starvation diets) or consuming just one food group or liquids (detox diets) is both harmful.



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Fitness at what cost? – What happens if you consume excess proteins

Gym is one of the most frequented fitness destination for many. However at several gyms, along with exercise, several trainers coax members into buying protein supplements or recommend protein supplements. Proteins help build muscle – but what happens if you get too much of it?. Also an important question to ask – What is the current level of proteins in your blood. Have you ever investigated?

Protein isn’t particularly dangerous, but an over-consumption of protein may be associated with:

  1. Weight gain. Excess calories from excess protein may be stored as body fat.
  2. Intestinal irritation. Too much protein has been linked to constipation, diarrhoea and/or excessive gas.
  3. Dehydration. Experts advise drinking a half gallon of water per 100 grams of protein.Non-consumption of the necessary amount of water can lead to internal dehydration.
  4. Seizures. Seizures have been linked to excess protein intake – but only if insufficient amounts of water are consumed.
  5. Nutritional deficiencies. Just focusing on protein intake causes some high-protein dieters to overlook other nutrients. Ensure that your diet is balanced and nutritious.
  6. Risk of heart disease. This is a bit misleading. A healthy high-protein diet is not associated with heart disease. But if you are getting all of your protein from unhealthy sources that are loaded in unhealthy fats, obviously the risk for heart disease will increase.
  7. Gout– High protein diets can lead to uric acid deposits at joints and can lead to joint aches and gout, which is very painful.
  8. Kidney problems. Some believe that high protein and low carbohydrate diets – when done long term – can possibly cause kidney issues, but more research needs to be done.

While this list may seem alarming, it’s important to remember that many of these side effects are only associated with highly excessive protein diets coupled with unbalanced nutrition and/or dehydration.

The average person needs about 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight. Active individuals may require 1.2 to 1.5 grams.  Are you consuming the right quantity of proteins along with a balanced nutrition plan?



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Managing a weight loss diet plan during festivals

Come September and we have a series of Hindu festivals lined up. The list of festivals goes on and culminates with Diwali, the mother of all festivals. What’s a festival without tons of sweets and goodies. No matter how much you try, it is difficult to stick to a weight loss diet plan during festivals.

What can you do to avoid putting on too much weight during festivals

Managing a weight loss diet plan during festivals
Managing a weight loss diet plan during festivals

1. Increase exercise levels – Slightly increase exercise levels during festivals. Don’t exhaust yourselves, but be conscious that you are putting in more exercise than your normal routine

2. Eating sweets & fried items – Enjoy your sweets and fried items, but do be conscious of the quantity that you are consuming. Consume slowly, so that people do not dump more into your plate without your knowledge

3. Pre-eat partially before you head out – This will help reduce your appetite, while you are out at a function.

4. Carry it back – You can always carry stuff back, insist that you are too full. Once you carry it back, you can eat it in pulses over extended periods of time.

5. Balance your diet – Do consult your dietician to balance your diet for the excess calories that you plan to intake. Increase fibers and fruits in your diet and reduce other elements like carbs, pulses temporarily.



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The right exercise to go along with a weight loss diet plan

For a weight loss diet plan to be successful, along with your diet, you also need to put in some moderate amount of exercise. Contrary to perceptions, you don’t need to get into a heavy exercise regimen like running, jogging, mountain climbing etc.

Right exercise to go with your weight loss diet plan
Right exercise to go with your weight loss diet plan

Moderate level of walking (40-60 minutes of walk 5 times a week), Swimming (20-30 mins 5 days a week), cycling is also good to go with your weight loss diet plan. People who have limited time or patients with arthritis problems can split the exercise routine per their convenience. There is no necessity to do the entire exercise routine at one go.

Moderate exercise along with a planned diet can help you in losing body fat pretty quickly. Once you lose certain amount of fat, a person can go for focussed exercises for spot reduction.



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