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Cut calories: Lose weight without dieting

Last updated on: October 08, 2013 19:27 IST

Cut calories: Lose weight without dieting

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Shameem Akthar

People struggle with weight-loss or diet management. It is rather simple really, though the rules may not make sense in the conventional sense. For instance, people on a diet-management spree may gulp down glasses of fruit juice, thinking it is healthy, and therefore it may help them lose weight, yet maintain a healthy glow.

On the contrary, fruit juices are higher in calorie intensity than cut fruit pieces. So, though healthy, they have a higher sugar content, which means after a while you will suffer a drop in blood sugar, making you more hungry in just a short time.

On the other hand, fruit pieces, taking longer to digest and with less sugar content, will not create this dangerous sugar spike.

Eating less is not always the way to cutting calories. Eating the right foods that help manage calories or fat absorption are far better.

But favouring only one type of eating (only fiber which helps by positively affecting fat absorption) can be outright dangerous: eating too much fiber actually tends to remove food faster out of the intestine, preventing absorption of nutrient (which is the sole purpose of eating food!) and can cause skin problems and hair loss.

Similarly, it can also thin the mucuous lining of the large intestine, occasionally causing bleeding through the anus.

In these contemporary times, we rely too much on diet management fads that can be dangerous. It is best to be educated and informed before trying one or the other diet fads. Interestingly the traditional system of eating was far wiser and thus, even today, easier to follow.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center and author of three books, enlightens you on some simple tricks to cut calories.


Photographs: Dale Bhagwagar Media Group

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1. Chew your food

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It may seem silly, but in yoga you are advised to sit down calmly (ideally on the ground because this locks the restless movements of the leg, letting more blood flow to the digestive system) and eat in a silent manner, so the focus is only on the food.

Once this focus is established, you must chew each mouthful well (some people who like to give numbers to every formula, say each mouthful must be chewed at least 20 times).

Chewing food well allows for the right release of salivary enzymes required to digest certain starches. Also, when we eat slowly and steadily, our brain hits the satiety signal more effectively. The brain has to give a signal that we have eaten enough, and then we will not have the craving for more.

This signal is askew in those who are obese either because they are not focusing on their food or are gulping it down too fast. Try this. It never fails.


Image: Pradeep Bandekar

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2. Eat a heavy breakfast

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This is very difficult in the current scenario, of rushed mornings, eating on the go, and/or skipping breakfast altogether. Several researches have shown that more than cutting calories, a heavy breakfast could be the answer you were seeking for all problems dealing with heart health, memory power, depression, attention deficit issues, acidity, ulcers, chronic fatigue, even fertility.

This is easy to understand why: the maximum nutrient absorption happens later in the day, after the food you'd consumed for breakfast passes through the various departments of a system, that end-to-end, is longer than 32-feet.

The rest of the food and its impact is only cosmetic. The main impact on your health and energy levels comes from your breakfast. If it is complete, and eaten by 11 am latest, you will find that food cravings or energy lows -- which make you reach out for unhealthy food—will disappear.



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3. Eat a light dinner

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Keep the dinner early and light. This is because the digestive system begins to shut down early in the evening. Anything you eat overloads a system that needs a rest.

A light dinner will give you a chance to wake up feeling energetic, lighter and even more flexible. When you wake up feeling light and energetic, you will find the rest of your day flows more smoothly around it, and with greater discipline. If you are fatigued or have suffered nutrient malabsorption, as happens when you overeat, your body will try to compensate desperately by seeking more food, since its nutrient needs have still been left unattended.

Eat the dinner wisely, lightly, so the digestive system stops its habit of craving. Also, when you eat less,the stomach's elastic muscular walls learn to shrink. It is when the stomach becomes larger and larger, through regular overload and lack of digestion from sleeping immediately after eating, that it starts to need more food.

The stomach will tone up from inside, thus shrinking its volume and your need for overeating will be controlled in the best possible manner.


Photographs: From UTV Stars' show Breakfast To Dinner
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4. Low glycemic index foods

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Choose foods with low glycemic index. These are foods which release energy more slowly, which means they help maintain your sugar levels at a consistent level.

For instance, brown rice or whole wheat has lower glycemic index, while maida, as refined starch, has a higher glycemic index. This means, the same quantity of food of either will have different impact on your hunger levels.

The first one will keep you feel fuller longer, while the latter will cause a sugar dip, making you hungry sooner.

Initially, it may seem like a big effort to calculate or get an awareness of such food index. But soon it will become a natural way of choosing foods, either at the market or at the diner's. This will also go a long way in helping you maintain your weight, prevent depression, control diabetes and high/or low blood pressure.


Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
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5. Cook it right

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Choosing the right way of cooking is also a simple way towards controlling calories. Obviously boiled foods have less calories than deep fried food. However, since some food items need the texture of frying, you may have to fry them.

But even here, you can parboil the food item before frying it, thus reducing the use of oil and the duration of the frying.

The humble ragda pattice for instance is a good example: pattices made of boiled potatoes are lightly fried to get the crunchy texture of fried potatoes satisfy our craving for certain food textures without bulking up on calories.

Baking, boiling, microwaving, tandoor are the less-cal route towards eating.


Photographs: Courtesy Gud2Eat.com
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6. Drink a lot of water

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Drinking water during the day keep our body hydrated and cool. It also helps control hunger pangs. Often,too, we mistake thirst for hunger and try to satiate both by drinking some fuel-loaded energy drink or a canned fruit juice. Instead sipping water will help sort this problem.

It is also a good way to flush out food faster out of the gut, if you have overeaten!


Photographs: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
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