4 flab-fighters


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If you are thinking of jumping into some fast weight loss diet it won't work in the long run; overeating is likely to follow, taking you right back to where you started. Your best plan of action is to make moderate changes in your diet with the goal to focus on long-term behaviour changes.

The weight-loss nutrients
Carbohydrates Carbohydrates, gram for gram, have less than half the calories of fat and your body can't burn the fat you eat without them. They also give you energy and help raise your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories and your metabolism speeds up enough to use most, if not all, of the calories you take in from carbohydrates. But any extras you don't burn, your body breaks down and stores as fat. Fortunately, about a fourth of these extra calories get used up in the process. On the other hand, you burn up almost no calories storing the fat so you gain more weight from eating excess fat calories than you do from an equal number of extra carbohydrate calories. Unprocessed grains-like brown rice are one of the best sources of carbohydrates. They haven't lost any of their nutrients and fibre to processing and since they are whole and firm, it takes longer for your body to break them down and you may absorb less starch and calories during digestion. Other "star" carbohydrates include vegetables like dry beans, peas, carrots, etc., and as long as you stay within your calorie limits, fruits are another good choice; chopped apples, bananas, strawberries, etc., make a healthy carbohydrate treat. Other low calorie carbohydrate sources are celery, cucumber, lettuce, etc., which are an ideal snack for the dieters and weight-watchers.

Sugar, also a carbohydrate, is not at all the friend of a trim waistline; it adds empty calories without any nutrition and desserts rich in sugar and fat are doubly dangerous to your dreams of good health and slender figure.

Fats The right kind of fat in right amounts and eaten the right way, believe it or not, can help you lose weight and weight loss is not the only reward from eating fish; this healthy fat (omega-3 fatty acids in salmon or tuna) helps protect you from diabetes, depression, heart disease and cancer. Fats from plant sources like olive or canola oil, nuts, seeds are better options than meats and full fat dairy products. But remember, if you eat too much fat of any kind, you will ruin your chances of ditching those extra pounds (one gram of fat has the same calories, no matter what the source).

Protein Your body needs the complete protein you get from fish, chicken, eggs, dairy products (low fat). Some plant foods, like beans and whole grains, provide incomplete protein. Yet, if you eat them together, as in a dish of red beans and rice, you also get the complete protein. Very popularly known very high protein diets can actually be dangerous; they can put a strain on your liver and kidneys and contribute to artery disease and bone loss. They also lack some of the important nutrients you need so the best bet is to eat everything in balanced amounts without going overboard on anything.

Fibre Eating fibre rich nutrients like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be a big help in taking off extra pounds; just be sure to drink plenty of water. The liquid makes the fibre swell, causing you to feel full and since it passes slowly through your upper digestive tract, you won't get hungry right away.

Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant special to Times of Oman

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