Today the answer to everything is available online. From deciding what to wear to choosing where to visit to even giving us material to study, Google seems to have wholly sorted our life out – or so we think.
The flip-side of the internet culture is the tendency to collate random information, put it together and come up with your absurd version of facts.
For example, a person looking to get in shape will search for popular fad diets and start following them – even if it is not meant for them.
We, at The Better India, spoke to nutritionist Geetha G H, affiliated to the Indian Dietetics Association, to get her opinion on fad diets and what they do to you.
“It is a world of instant gratification, where people need really quick results today. The access to information on the web and the media empowers them. But they do not fully decipher the jargon and perhaps ignore the risks too”, Geetha says, when asked about the most common mistakes people make when trying to get on a fad diet.
What about the various kinds of diets that people follow:
“Cutting out white rice, maida, white bread, bakery items, sweets and sugar can help most individuals, particularly those watching their weight, blood sugars and lipids and especially those experiencing metabolic syndrome. But various phases of the Atkins diet also requires one to avoid most grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables that have several health benefits.
Though there is a rapid and short-term improvement in blood sugars, lipid profile, blood pressure and weight loss, the long-term risks must also be weighed in. Excessive protein intake is also an extra strain on the kidneys.”, Geetha says of the highly-popular Atkins diet, that recommends a high-protein plan with very few carbohydrates.
Like the Atkins diet, the Keto diet is a popular way to lose weight as well. However, this has side effects as well, primarily because of the high amount of red meat consumed.
“A ketogenic (keto) diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. It is effective for controlling seizures in epilepsy. It has become quite popular for weight loss”, Geetha says, enumerating that carbohydrates found in grains, lentils, fruits, starchy vegetables and milk are essential for healthy living as it is the first source of energy for the body.
These foods also offer vital vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Geetha explains Ketosis, which is the side effect of metabolising high fat in the body. Bad breath, nausea, vomiting, headaches, tiredness, constipation and sleep problems are not uncommon. Long-term research evidence is essential to study its impact on blood cholesterol.
Another very popular diet is the Paleo diet, which recommends a lot of protein through meat, fish and eggs, and eliminates oil, sugar, pulses, dairy and root vegetables.
“Paleo is eating like a caveman”, Geetha explains, adding that steering clear of processed foods is an advantage but consuming meats high in saturated fats, cholesterol, and creatine paves the way to blocked arteries, elevated blood lipid spectrum, and a fatty liver.
As Geetha points out, it is always best to be cautious and adapt foods from the current choices, culture and region for sustenance and success. Health goals can be attained by manipulating calorie intake, macronutrient (such as carbohydrates, protein and fats) quantity and quality to lose weight, manage blood sugar and fat.
An essential aspect of nutrition – the choice of cooking method:
Geetha suggests that we ensure half the grain consumption we make is whole. Opt for lean protein choices as oily fish, dressed chicken or plant-based protein choices like pulses and moderate the servings of red meat avoiding processed products.
“Boiling, stewing and steaming is ideal – especially for chicken and meat – over methods that use high temperatures such as deep-frying and charbroiling (barbecued, tandoor, grilled, smoked ). The high heat method causes an increase in burnt bits – which leads to the formation of cancerous compounds (Heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons),” Geetha says.
The most important question: What does one do if they wish to start a diet plan?
“I would suggest a slow and steady approach that has farfetched benefits. Dandy diets die soon! The foundation for healthy eating should be simple and pragmatic, based on all food groups with wholesome choices of adequate fruits, vegetables, moderate protein portions and good fats.”
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Rounding off, Geetha shares the most important points of nutrition, diet and healthy living.
“It is superfluous to emphasise the importance of keeping active all through the day coupled with scheduled exercise time, both cardio and weight bearing. Always take guidance from a qualified dietician or nutritionist to personalise the diet plan to suit one’s food habits and lifestyle.”
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)