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'There are no zero-calorie sweets'

Last updated on: April 16, 2014 16:08 IST

'There are no zero-calorie sweets'

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In an online chat with readers Nutritionist and health expert Naini Setalvad addressed queries on how to control sugar intake and lose weight.

People in India are increasingly becoming more conscious about their lifestyle and especially, their diet.

In an attempt to look good and stay fit, people across age groups are hopping on the fitness bandwagon, and opting for sugar substitutes and sweeteners over sugar.

How helpful are these sweeteners?

Is there a natural way to control your sugar intake?

To help our reader understand the pros and cons of adding sugar in the diet, Rediff.com had organised a chat with renowned nutritionist and obesity consultant Naini Setalvad on April 16 between 3 pm and 4 pm IST.

For those who missed the live chat, here's the unedited transcript:


Ca-Bharat-C-Bhandari: Due to time constraint.. I have to do my work out at 08:00 pm to 09;30 pm . My question is what time gap should have between my work out & dinner ? What food you suggest in Dinner time..? My height 5ft 11" and weight 92.5 KG


Naini: Serving: one teaspoon is 5 grams, one tablespoon is 15 grams, 1 fruit is serving of fruit, 1 roti or 1 bread is 1 serving of grain. Half a bowl of cooked pulses is one serving of lentils. Fish or chicken in the size of a deck of cards equals 100 grams of serving. 200 ml of milk is one serving which is equivalent to one medium sized glass.


vivek paliwar: What diet should I avoid to reduce belly fat?

Naini: Definitely avoid high-calorie, fried and sugary foods. Cut down on all beverages with added sugars.


Vivek Paliwar: Thanks, Rice & Milk in night should also be avoided?

Naini: Lots of vegetables in the night with a small quantity of long-grain rice and dals, lentils which have spices in it to aid digestion. Milk does cause phlegm. Why would you have something after eating a full meal?


Kanishka Gurdasani: How do I stop craving for sugar?

Naini: Add a little protein to your food eat plenty of vegetables. Do not keep long intervals of food as it leads to a sugar drop and you hit out on white sugar.


swati sharma: Is sugar also made from sugarcane like jaggery?? Also what is the best substitute of sugar for me?

Naini: Using a zero-calorie sweetener that tastes just like sugar and doesn't leave any bitter aftertaste.


jeet gupta: kindly let me know is eating in evening results in gaining of weight.

Naini: Excess eating at anytime will result in weight gain, whether it is a morning or evening. But its nice to have a light dinner so that you can sleep properly and not feel any intestinal discomfort.


Purushottam Rathi: How to increase good cholesterol?

Naini: By improving quality of food, increase vegetable intake, nuts, cut out fried foods, white flour and above all: sugar. Add garlic, turmeric, lots of leafy greens, tomatoes to your diet.


swati sharma: I have heard that regular intake of artificial sweeteners affects the brain..is that true?

Naini: A multitude of studies have shown that sucralose based sweeteners are safe for consumption. In fact, reputed organizations such as USFDA and WHO have validated their safety.


amrita pandey: Can any one suggest me that slimming centre are beneficial for loosing weight pls reply

Naini: Go to nutrition centres that do not do fad diets, prescribe healthy and safe eating with moderate cardio vascular exercises, yoga and deep breathing.


RaviCM: Hello Ms.Naini,I am Ravi here, aged 54yrs,underwent Angioplasty 5 yrs back for single block. my weight is 74 kgs.same for the past 5 yrs. i regularly walk vigorously for 1 hour in the morning. i want to bring my wt to 68kgs. i am on oil free veg diet.take lot of salads

Naini: Please do not go on an oil-free diet as fat is necessary for a lot of metabolic processes. Opt for oils rich in MUFA and PUFA and snack on nuts. Cut down sugar completely, if there is a craving, take the help of safe sweeteners which is sucralose-based and contain zero-calories.


Viraj Datar: I have heard that the sweeteners don't taste so good. How do I choose a good tasting sweetener? Which is the best tasting one?

Naini: A sucralose-based sweetener that leaves no bitter after-taste is the best fit for you. A sweetener such as this in a zero-calorie form is available nowadays. Such a sweetener is ideal because it tastes just like white sugar, doesn't raise bloog sugar levels or weight. Enjoy your cuppa with a dash of sweetener.


amrita pandey: pls suggest my weight 59 kg height 5.1 inch.skipping i do 50 times and what other exercise can i do. I am getting married, pls give some suggestion. If i walk more there is a swelling in my legs. pls suggest some exercises I can do from home.


Naini: Be careful of knees, it is better if you swim or cycle. Do cardio. Static cycling at home (you can reasonable foldable cycles today)

swati sharma: I love sugar in my tea and coffee. I need this to kickstart my day. what should I do?

Naini: Take the help of safe sweeteners which are zero-calories which leave no bitter aftertaste. You will adapt faster and not have side-effects such as weight gain, diabetes and cancer-cell multiplifers.


Pradeep Nair: Zero-calorie sweets -- what are these?

Naini: There are no zero-calorie sweets. You can have zero-calories sweeteners (sucralose-based).


swati sharma: I have heard that sugar has side effects..but can I substitute it with jaggery or does that also harm the body?

Naini: Jaggery has calories, which can lead to weight gain, as well as increase blood sugar levels.


Mona Shah: hi, a friend of mine has low sugar problem in what form should he have sugar?

Naini: It's better to add protein so that his sugar does not fall and if he wants to, he could eat raisins.


anu mishra:Hey, a friend of mine has a bulging belly. Can intake of sugar be modified to affect him?

Naini: Yes, you can cut down on white sugar and choose a substitute that has no calories which will cut down on excess calories and stop weight gain. Avoid natural sugars in fruit juices and sweets as well.


smarty huma: how to lose fat?

Naini: Zip your mouth, control your food, cut down fried sweets, sugars, increase vegetables. Make food fun and tasty, make your junk healthy, satisfy your sweet cravings with fruits. Sweeten your beverages with zero-calorie sweeteners. Add cardio workouts to your regime, make this your lifestyle.


Amit Shellar: How much sugar is bad for you?

Naini: White sugar is bad, opt for a sucralose-based sweetener instead if you need to sweeten your beverages. Natural sugar is recommended (2-3 servings a day from fruits and dry-fruits).


SURESH ALEXANDER: Despite exercise and food control my weight is not coming down (45 minutes in tread mill). How to reduce weight?

Naini: Cut down sugar completely (other than that present in fruits), this leads to more significant changes. Hopefully white sugar, fried foods, excess grains is not included. A small amount of protein during every meal and plenty of vegetables are recommended.


Pradeep Nair: Sugar or oil more dangerous to increase weight? Suppose I have to select between chocolate or samosa, which better?

Naini: These are devils that lure you from good health. Learn to eat healthy and not give in to cravings or like a smoker, you will keep wanting more and more.


faisal parkar: Hi I am 35 years male, I was weighing 97 kg a year ago now I lost 15 KG by means of exercise and diet but still I have some Fats around my waist. Also I have some Body Lumps on my Forearm, Arm and legs. Kindly advice the best possible diet.


Naini: Lots of vegetables combined with protein. Cut down high-sugar foods (including natural foods), this means lesser grains, which Indians tend to have more. Adding a protein and not more than 2 servings of fruits a day. Shifting to a sweetener that is USFDA approved and contains zero calories.


anu mishra: Hi Naini, does deficiency of sugar lead to any side effects?

Naini: Nope. White sugar is not the sugar your body needs. If you have balanced meals, which consist of vegetables, fruits and grains, you will get ample sugar.


Lalji Margasahayam: Dear mam i am on diet but I cant resist sugar. gulab jamun is my favourite. Please advice how to control my urge?

Naini: Add protein and nuts to your food, it cuts down on sugar cravings.


Pradeep Nair: I am over weight, i cut down sugar intake now taking only 1 cup tea with sugar.. No other sugar drink rarely eat chocolate .1 sugar tea a day is ok?

Naini:Well, is having one cigarette a day okay? White sugar is a cancer cell multiplier, increases weight, risk of obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular diseases. Why should you have it?


amrita pandey: Pls tell be what basic thing which I can do for losing weight. My height 5.1'' and weight 59 kg.pls pls

Naini: Basic things you can do: cut down fried sweets, sugar, aerated drinks, savouries, biscuits. Start cardio exercises, walking. Snack on fresh fruits and nuts. Include plenty of vegetables in your meal.


Jignesh Kaisth: Hi mam, nice topic to discuss. How to control daily sugar intake?

Naini: By adding safe, zero-calorie sweeteners. Adding protein to your food. Snacking on nuts and doing light cardio exercises.


Deeps: How much sugar should one be consuming in a day?

Naini: White sugar: none. Natural sugar: in fruits, dry fruits (2-3 servings a day).


Anuradha Gupta: Hello Mam, Besides sugar in its crude form, there is sugar in almost everything we eat. How good/bad is sugar found in fruits/vegetables other natural sources? Is Jaggery is good substitute to sugar. How much sugar is good for growing up children?

Naini: Fruits and vegetables are good sources. Opt for honey and jaggery occasionally as treats. For children, opt for the natural sugar available in these foods so you can avoid giving table sugar to children.


Dinkar Dosanjh: How many spoons of sugar is okay in a day?

Naini: White sugar is completely unhealthy and there is enough sugar in fruits, vegetables, grains. So you do not need any added/extra sugar. If you would like to sweeten your beverages and food, use natural sugar found in fruits/dry-fruits (honey/jaggery) or safe sweeteners.


Kartik Dhadda: Please tell me how to lose weight. What to include and what to avoid.

Naini: Just avoid white sugar, white flour and have 2 fixed meals. Snack on healthy items such as nuts and fruits. Make substitutes wherever possible, you can cut out on sugar by using a sucralose-based substitute. This will be a starting point in knocking off exess calories.


magesh kumar: I am overweight i want to lose fat from body.

Naini: Start your day with a vegetable and protein based breakfast such as dosas, egg whites, omlettes, poha, upma (all tossed in with vegetables). Cut out fried sweets, aerated drinks, sweetened beverages including fruit juices.


rehan: Is there a limit of artificial sweetener one can use? and does it help put on weight?

Naini: There is no limit when it comes to using sweeteners that are approved for safe use by bodies such as the WHO & USFDA. In fact, sweeteners help you control weight.


Jyothika Roy: Is it necessary to quit sugar completely to lose weight or some amount of sugar is acceptable? if so what is the acceptable scale?

Naini: It is best to quit sugar completely. To satisfy sweet cravings, just shift to a zero-calorie sweetener. Opt for a sweetener that is approved by the US FDA as that will be a safe choice. White sugar as dangerous as tobacco.


Manasi Nath: I don't like honey. What is a better substitute?

Naini: Choose a sucralose-based sweetener, preferably a zero calorie sweetener that doesn't leave any bitter after-taste. This will make a healthy and tasty choice.



Image: Is there a natural substitute for sugar?
Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com