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Fad diets: A long-term weight loss solution?
June 25, 2007

Your cousin advocates one diet. Your friend, another. Your colleague, a third. As you battle the kilos, it is increasingly easy to fall prey to a fad diet.

What you need to know, more than anything else is what you need to eat. You also need to know the right proportion of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and fats that you must have to lead a healthy life.

Fitness consultant and nutritionist Samreedhi Goel chatted with readers June 18 about this and other health and diet-related issues.

For those of you who missed the chat, here is the transcript.

aba asked, Hi Samreedhi, tell me the proper diet to control heartburn.

Samreedhi Goel answers, To avoid heartburn you must make sure that you have fixed meal timings and that you eat small meals at regular intervals. Avoid oily and spicy food as well as fried food and sweets. If you have not eaten for more than three to four hours avoid eating large amounts of food all of a sudden. Raw vegetables should be avoided and drink at least one litre water daily.

namita asked, I was on a herbal life diet, and lost 3-4 kgs in a month, but when I resumed my normal course of food I began gaining weight. Please advise.

Samreedhi Goel answers, That is what usually happens when you go on a crash diet. I would suggest you consult a dietician who will plan your meals according to your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes. It is better to lose weight slowly by modifying your diet and exercising regularly. This will result in a more permanent change.


mishu asked, Tell me how I can reduce my belly.

Samreedhi Goel answers, There is no such thing as spot reduction. You cannot lose inches only on one part of your body, however if you do a full body workout and ab crunches, it will help you to burn fat, while helping you to tone your abdominal muscles. Controlling your diet ie lowering your intake of fried food, sweets will also help you chisel off those extra inches from your tummy.


preeti asked, Just want to know whether it is good to skip a meal while dieting and how to reduce the maximum amount weight by dieting. What is the easy way?

Samreedhi Goel answers, The easiest way to diet is to avoid dieting! Eat your three fixed meals everyday and have a small snack in between your meals like a fruit or sandwich or idlis. Exercise regularly and you will lose weight and get in shape.


kris asked, My wife is 50 years old, her height is 5 feet and she weighs 74 kilos. Her problem areas are her belly and hips. She is a non-vegetarian. Can you please suggest a diet to reduce the fat and keep healthy. She a hypo-thyroid and has one tablet of Eltroxine everyday. Please advise.

Samreedhi Goel answers, She needs to avoid cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, broccoli and soya bean in raw form. Avoid fried food and sweets. She must try to go for a 30-minute brisk walk daily and can also sign up at a gym or a yoga class, which will also help her lose weight.


mark asked, What would be your diet for travelling executives?

Samreedhi Goel answers, You have to teach yourself to make good food choices every time you are eating out. Several restaurants offer diet options in the form of low-fat dishes. If you discuss it with the waiter he will guide you. As a thumb rule in meats choose chicken and fish over the other meats, avoid gravies and desserts. Start you meals with a soup and a salad (without cream) and reduce your portion size.


Are youmac asked, Is upma good for breakfast?

Samreedhi Goel answers, Yes, upma is a good choice but make sure you add vegetables to it too. Poha, vegetable sandwich, idlis and cereal with milk are the other options for a good breakfast.


overweight asked, I am 43, and weigh 82 kg. I go to the gym for one hour daily, but there are no results. Please prescribe diet/day.

Samreedhi Goel answers, Check your thyroid levels and maintain a food diary so that you know where you are going wrong food-wise.

Angusfire asked, You look great on the rediff page! Tell me about best protein source apart from eating chicken and Soya.

Samreedhi Goel answers, Milk, eggs, dal and wheat or dal and rice combined together are good. Fish too is a good source of protein.


Preet asked, I am 24 years, male, 182 cms in height and weigh 90 kgs. I work for almost 18 hours and I have to sit in one place and do my job, I had started taking some health drink to control weight, it helped for some time, but after discontinuing it, I have gained weight again, please let me know how to reduce my weight, I think I am overweight by 10 kgs.

Samreedhi Goel answers, I am sure you get at least weekends off. If you do, then sign up for an outdoor activity like tennis or swimming or just walking for 30-40 minutes will also do. Cutting out drinks can help you lose weight. Control your food habits by eliminating fried food sweets and refined food.


dytng asked, I have a history of diabetes in my family. What precautions should I take to avoid diabetes? On certain occasions my blood sugar has risen to 240. I was on medication for a couple of weeks and it came to normal level. I am 31, male, 180 cms and 78kgs.

Samreedhi Goel answers, You can take two teaspoons of methi seed powder daily in the morning after brushing your teeth. It helps bring down your sugar. You need to start an exercise routine after consulting your specialist and keep a close watch on your blood sugar. Ask a good dietician to design a diet plan for you.


jardinevg asked, I am 5'4" & weigh approx 77 kgs. I was 85 kgs six months back but I did some yoga and brought my weight down to 77. According to my height, I am still overweight. Please advise me on what should I do to reduce further. I would like to bring to your notice that I am unable to get any rigorous exercise as I have arthritis. I generally have four cups of tea in a day with one Marie biscuit, breakfast is of two toasts of brown bread and 1 egg, lunch 1-1 1/2 rotis with vegetables and chicken, and dinner is two toasts or 1 roti with vegetables.

Samreedhi Goel answers, Congrats on your weight loss! See a physiotherapist who will show you knee-strengthening exercises for your arthritis. You can join a gym provided the trainers there are experienced in dealing with your condition. Your diet seems quite okay.


deepika asked, I am not eating dinner and breakfast daily to reduce my weight, but I don't feel I am reducing. Can you suggest a better approach?

Samreedhi Goel answers, What you are doing is called "starvation" and not fasting! It will only cause you to become unhealthy. Eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner normally everyday and exercise daily for 30 minutes.


arpita asked, Is dieting necessary?

Samreedhi Goel answers, That depends on your definition of dieting. To me, dieting is about options and not restrictions; it is about making the right food choices and staying healthy.


namaramesh asked, Once I start walking, for four kms in one hour daily, after few days, I suffer from ankle and heel pain. Is there anything wrong in my walking. I use NIKE AIR shoes and walk on cement surface.

Samreedhi Goel answers, You may not be doing a sufficient warm-up before you start. Make sure you warm-up for at least 5-7 minutes by walking slowly. Then gradually build up your speed. Visit this link and stretch after you are done walking.


manoj asked, I am 36 years, male, 5'5" and my weight is under 50 kg. I want to increase my weight by about 10 kg. Please help.

Samreedhi Goel answers, You don't gain weight easily because you have a very high metabolic rate. When you do gain weight you should aim at muscle gain, as excess fat would affect your health adversely. To gain muscle mass you must first train with weights with a knowledgeable trainer three to four times a week. Eat at least five to six small meals (take a good diet plan from a nutritionist/ dietician). If you are non-vegetarian, consuming a good quality protein is easy; in the way of milk, eggs, chicken and fish. If you are vegetarian, make sure you drink milk and combine cereals and pulses for good quality protein. But just an over-emphasis on protein won't help, see that your diet includes plenty of complex carbohydrates ie whole grains, cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables.


rakesh asked, I am 30 and go to gym. Is taking protein supplements healthy or should I stick to natural protein sources?

Samreedhi Goel answers, I always prefer to go natural. Avoid synthetic supplements as far as possible.


Lalith asked, I was hospitalised for a day, 3 weeks back with severe stomach cramps. The doctor diagnosed it as constipation. Now I am looking for a proper diet to solve this. Please advise.

Samreedhi Goel answers, Drink at least two litres water daily. Cut out all refined food and stick to whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Milk, papaya and raisins should be included in your diet daily for at least the next two weeks. Walk daily for 30 minutes in the morning to get rid of constipation.

rajv asked, I am 37, and was recently diagnosed as being diabetic. I am a staple rice eater. Should I avoid rice completely? Are idlis allowed for breakfast?

Samreedhi Goel answers, You can switch to unpolished rice and reduce your quantity per meal. It will be better if you eat wheat cracks (dalia) for breakfast and eat idlis once a week. Speak to your specialist about dietary guidelines.


sreenivas asked, I am 24 years old and weigh 66 kg. I want to control my weight. I am doing exercise regularly and concentrate on cardio exercises. But I feel a bit tired after doing exercise. Can you suggest a proper diet for me?

Samreedhi Goel answers, Eat a fruit after the workout and drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. Consult your doctor and take a multivitamin daily after breakfast.

Part II -- Make your diet work!

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