Tag Archives: carbs

Are You Indian? Careful About Diabetes and Hypertension

Research over the last several years has shown that Indian bodies and genetics are different from their western counterparts. Not in a good way- Indians suffer from abdominal obesity compared to people in the west, whose bodies are uniformly obese. As a result of this, Indians are at a higher risk of diabetes and hypertension.

Watch your blood pressure and sugar (stephanobenito@flickr)

There are currently 41 million diabetic people in India and this number is expected to rise by 170 per cent in the next 20 years. Even today, India has the largest population of diabetics in the world. By 2050, India is projected to be diabetes capital of the world. Today, one in every three Indians has high blood pressure, which is expected to shoot by 60 per cent in the next 20 years.

Not much can be done about the genetic risk of Indians, but a lot can be done to take measures about reducing your risk. First, get yourself tested for blood sugar and hypertension. Then, watch your diet and exercise. The Indian diet is very high on carbohydrates. Watch the type of carbohydrates that you put into your body- some carbohydrates promote fat storage. You don’t have to cut out fat from your diet. Just eat the healthy fat. Here are snacks that are delicious and healthy- Almonds keep you fit, Yoghurt reduces fat, Apple fights cancer, Guavas build immunity- read for their health benefits.

Need to lose weight. Call Fitho or email us at fitness@fitho.in. We provide effective diet and workout plans that are customized to your needs.

If you have not exercised in a while, then this is your chance to start- start with a walk, and graduate to a jog. There are innumerable benefits of running. Read these tips to start running. The classic pushup exercise, builds muscle and burns fat.

You’re never to old to get in shape! If you need to lose weight, get on a healthy weight loss plan, with a balanced diet and an effective exercise routine.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Did You Know That Biscuits Hinder Weight Loss? Learn about the Bad Biscuits

If you have planned to munch biscuits and skip meals, so that it enhances your weight loss process, give it a second thought. Are you sure that it really helps in losing weight? Spare yourself the myth; face the facts. Let’s have a quick overview of the common ingredients of biscuits and see what effects they have on human body. To your surprise, you will learn that munching biscuits does not help in losing weight; rather, consumption of biscuits results in calorie gain – the last thing you would want.     

Photo – Biscuits are unhealthy                                                                              

1. Refined flour

Known as ‘Maida’, refined flour is the main ingredient in biscuits. It is basically processed flour with negligible fiber content and minimal nutrients. Refined flour is devoid of components like bran and germ that are removed when wheat is processed. It is not as healthy as it seems; it is less satisfying than good carbohydrates like whole wheat flour. Since itcontains less fiber, the body absorbs processed grains and simple sugars relatively faster, resulting in increase of blood sugar levels. As a matter of fact, high blood sugar triggers a release of insulin, and makes you feel hungry in less than a couple of hours after eating. The fact remains, by munching biscuits you end up gaining unwanted calories.

 2. Sugar

Most biscuits are sweet and contain good amount of sugar in it.Sugars contain high calories and are less satisfying in nature, which makes you eat more, leading to weight gain. Sugar consumption also contributes to the development of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity as it increases the levels of insulin in the blood. High insulin level in blood enhances the storage of fat.

 3. Fat

Biscuits contain trans fats because it is a processed product. These artificial trans fats are formed during a food process called hydrogenation, which turns liquid oil into solid fat.

During hydrogenation, vegetable oil is heated at very high temperature while hydrogen is ‘bubbled’ through it, creating new chemical bonds which have a similar structure to plastic. The result is hydrogenated vegetable oil, or hydrogenated fat. This is used in biscuits, cakes, pastry, margarine and processed food items to ensure that they have a long shelf life and don’t melt too easily. Unfortunately, these fats are considered bad fat which increases cholesterol in the body and cause other health problems. On the other hand, researchers at Wake Forest University find that trans fats increase the amount of fat around the belly, not only by generating new fat, but also by moving fat from other areas to the belly.

 4. High Fructose corn syrup

While processing biscuits, some brands use high fructose corn syrup (HFC) instead of sugar. HFC is an artificial sweetener with negligible difference if compared with table sugar.The fact is that HFC is not a healthy ingredient. It leads to weight gain and give way to other health problems like obesity anddiabetes. It is important to know that sugar in any form is harmful for health. While in times of complete glycogen depletion (i.e. post work-out or true hunger), fructose can be used to replenish these stores, any excess will mostly be converted to fat. So, eating fructose in excess of the very small amount our body can handle is really like eating fat – it just gets stored in your fat cells, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction, obesity and related diseases.So, both sugar and HFChave significant contribution to causing obesity.

 Biscuit is not good in fiber, not less in calories, and therefore, not good as a healthy snack option. When giving up on biscuits is difficult, what you can do for yourself and your family is to take healthier options. The healthier biscuits are the whole grain or multi grain biscuits. These are high on fiber content and nutrition value. It is important to check the nutrition labels while purchasing any food product.

Your high tea may seem incomplete without the munching of your favorite coconut flavored biscuits. And you will find many like you who are fond of biscuits as a wonderful thing to munch when you are hungry, but the hunger is not heavy on you. You have now known that biscuits are no good for your weight loss venture, since they are high in calories and contain little nutrition. So, look beyond the alluring advertisements and make a wise pick when you choose your biscuit.














— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Nutrition Tips for Peak Performance – Before the Marathon

There are plenty of marathons and long distance running events (list of running events in India). You might be training for it, or probably know someone who is. As important as training for it is, its equally important to get your nutrition right. Incorrect nutrition can complete destroy your performance.

Here are some nutrition tips that help you build stamina and improve performance.

We’ll break the nutrition down into 2 parts based on its timing- The first one is before the run, and the second is during and after the run. Here we’ll focus on the nutrition before the run. We personally rate the nutrition before the run as the most important, since it lays the foundations for your energy requirements:

1. Dinner: On the night before the big run, have a carbohydrate rich dinner, like pasta or rice. The surplus carbohydrates are stored in your body and are used to supply glycogen to your muscles during the run.

2. Hydration: About 1.5 hours before the run, drink a litre of water. This water will hydrate your body. The timing is important, since it gives your body enough time to process the water out. That way, you’re standing at the start line, not the line for the toilets.

3. Pre Run Breakfast: Breakfast anyway rules as the most important meal of the day. On your run day, its even more important since you need it to fuel you through the run. Eat a good breakfast with lots of slow release carbohydrates, some protein and low fat. Eat this meal atleast 45-60 minutes before the run. An example would be oatmeal with low fat milk and a banana. Fast release carbohydrates (sugary) are not recommended since it can cause a sugar low, and impede performance at the start of the race. Some protein is good to feed your muscles. Fat free is not important, but low fat is- Fat takes longer to digest so it will sit in your belly, make you feel heavy, and affect your performance.

4. Vitamin B: Pop a Vitamin B with your pre marathon breakfast. Your body uses Vitamin B to produce energy. For long runs and workouts, your body needs to produce extra energy and stamina, and a Vitamin B will help with that.

5. Sleep: Last but not the least, get 8-9 hours of sleep before your run. Sleep has lots of benefits. Your body should be completely well rested to perform in a long run.

All this nutrition should get you in good shape till before your run. Also know about nutrition tips after marathon focuses on the nutrition during and after the run. See our tips to run better.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Eat Healthy and Still Eat at McDonalds

Sounds unbelievable, but if you are at a McDonalds and still want to eat healthy, we have a fantastic news for you- You can do it!

The Mexican Chicken Wrap at McDonalds is a tasty and healthy option at McDonalds India. Since its got chicken, it has protein which will help build muscle and burn calories. Its not fried with much breading (the crisp stuff coating the chicken), so its not ridden with bad carbs, and will less breading, it also absorbs less fat. The most amazing part is still not over, which is the bread that it is wrapped in is not made from refined flour! We confirmed this from employees of McDonalds. The wrap bread is made from whole grains! Whole grains are high on fiber, and have a low glycemic index, so they keep you full for longer, so you won’t snack on unhealthy food.

Photo: Burger (debbiedoescakes@flickr)

The wrap is stuffed with crisp vegetables , which seem relatively raw, so they should have some fiber. The down side is that these vegetables are in a sweet, cheesy sauce- So, there is probably some sugar and fat in the sauce.

With the mix of fast dissolving and slow dissolving carbs and protein, this could make a great post workout snack to build muscle.

Overall, its a great tasting wrap. If you’re vegetarian, they also have a Paneer Wrap. Paneer is high in protein and since its a dairy product, it can help reduce belly fat.
So, the next time you’re at a McDonalds, don’t feel guilty about cheating on your diet, and order a Mexican Chicken Wrap or a Paneer Wrap for an appetizing and healthy meal.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Keep off the wedding season weight

The Indian wedding season is here. With so many weddings, its a ‘make-me-fat’ mine field trying to avoid the fat loaded food. To make the food taste better in these gathering, its loaded with oil, cream and butter and lots of refined, simple carbohydrates.

Photo- Indian Wedding Food (rpslee@flickr)

So the wedding food you consume is loaded with calories- high fat and sugar. No matter how much you might want to watch your portions you still are in the grave danger zone of adding fat to your system. Then, there’s the free flowing alcohol which slows your metabolic rate and because of the high calorie and sugar content, promotes fat storage. Lastly what throws you off the edge is the high sodium content food that promotes water retention, to make you feel even more bloated.

To fix this, you can completely avoid any weddings. But since that’s a really tough one, and you don’t want to be the social recluse, Fitho has some tips that you can use to avoid those pants getting tighter through the wedding season:

Snack well: Have a heavy snack before you head out to the wedding, so you avoid snacking on the deep fried, calorie loaded wedding snacks.

Portion Control: Buffet style served food always makes portion control difficult, so to help yourself, load your plate only once, and then drop the plate (not literally).

Skip the desserts. If you really want some, ask for small portions, or share your plate with a friend.

Go Italian or Chinese: Most weddings have a pasta station, or a stir fry station. Ask them to make you a sauté of vegetables, and go easy on the pasta. Since they cook everything right there, chances of them loading it up on the oil and the salt are low. Also, most pasta stations would use olive oil, that’s good for you.

Have the salads- not the creamy, calorie loaded potato salad, but the leafy, green one.

Now you can enjoy the wedding season without your pants getting tighter. For more tips, check out our tips to stay fit in the festive season.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

White Bread – Your Weight Loss Enemy

The title says it all- white bread is not on your side in the war against fat, unhealthy lifestyle and diabetes. If anything, it promote fat storage and diabetic tendencies.

White bread is made from refined wheat flour(maida) which gives it a high content of simple carbohydrates. Then, it contains added sugar to improve flavour, further increasing the simple carbohydrate content. To top it, many people add a layer of sugar laden jam to their white bread- completely loading their snack with simple carbohydrates. These simple carbohydrates (carbs with high GI- read more here) promote fat storage in the body. There are also theories that also link consumption of excess sugar to suppression of the immune system.

So, you should really watch your white bread consumption. People with high blood sugar (diabetes) or those trying to get in shape, you should completely avoid white bread. Due to the high glycemic index of white bread, the glucose level in your blood spikes, that leads to fat storage and an increase in the production of insulin to compensate.

Wheat bread is a great alternative to white bread- it provides you with long lasting energy from the complex carbohydrates, more soluble fiber which helps to cleanse your arteries of the plaque choking them and does not promote fat storage in the body. So, give wheat bread a shot!

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Nutrition Timing is Key to Muscle Building

Before most of the women stop reading this article, we have to tell you that this article is as important for you as it is for guys. Building muscle is key to looking good and being healthy for both men and women. Losing fat is good, but if you don”t have muscle, how will you get those toned arms, that flat midriff, the shapely butt, and those hot legs. All these body parts have muscle supporting them. And if the muscle is in good shape, then it looks good

Woman with muscle

rondavis @ flickr

Coming back to the topic- timing of nutrition. For ease of explanation, I will break the day up into 3 parts, pre workout, post workout and regular.

Pre-workout nutrition is important because this is the fuel for your workout. Sure, you might be eating through the day- remember that your body was probably using up what you ate. So, before your workout, eat a snack which is low in fat, and has a carboydrate:protein ratio of 1:1. So, if it has 25 gms of carbohydrates, then it should also have 25 gms of protein. This ratio is suggested, since the carbohydrates will help to fuel your workout and the protein will be used to supply to the muscles during your workout. Note, that it should be a low fat snack/meal. Fat slows down the absorption of nutrients into the body, so if your pre workout snack is high fat, then it won”t be absorbed quick enough by your body to really fuel your workout. Ensure that the carbs are not all simple carbohydrates, since no deposit online casino that will give you instant energy, but will also create an energy crash, which affects motivation. A good protein shake should provide you with this mix of nutrients (Note, protein shake mixes vary, so note their contents). If you don”t have access to protein shake, then a chicken/turkey sandwich, with some cheese and wheat bread should do. If you”re vegetarian, then try the protein shake, or some lightly spiced chole (since they have both complex carbs and protein in them)

Muscled Man

Post workout nutrition is key since after your workout, your muscles are sore and all the glycogen from your muscles in completely depleted. Your muscles are in a repair mode, and you want to supply it with nutrition to ensure that they repair themselves and build further on the existing muscle. Your post workout snack should be eaten within 30 minutes of completing your workout. It should again be a low fat snack, with a carb:protein ratio of 2:1. Low fat because it will speed up the absorption process. This snack needs a higher carbohydrate content because your muscles” glycogen stores are depleted and to repair them, to supply them with nutrients your body needs fast dissolving carbohydrates. So, this is the time you want to eat simple carbohydrates (carbs with high Glycemic Index). The protein should be preferably whey protein since it is absorbed faster by your body. For this snack, high nutrient absorption rate is key. If your snack is liquid, all the better. An ideal post workout shake is low fat chocolate milk. Or a protein shake with honey, or other simple carbs. Another simple snack is low fat yogurt with sugar- yogurt has a combination of whey (fast absorbing protein) and casein (slow absorbing protein), and the sugar/yogurt will give you fast absorbing carbohydrates. At this time, you can also pop in a multivitamin with your snack. The vitamins and minerals are micro-nutrients that help perform body functions and help with building muscle.

Rest of the day: Through the rest of the day, feed yourself every 2-3 hours. Your muscles need food for maintenance, so you need to keep supplying them with it. Ensure you get healthy fats, from sources like nuts, fish, olive oil. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure you get all the nutrients.

Time your nutrition correctly, and you”re all set to get that hot body!

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Corn Flakes Calories, Nutrition- Are they healthy or fattening?

Traditionally, when people think of breakfast cereal, they think of corn flakes and milk. Yes, breakfast is good for you. But what is odd, is the association of corn flakes with healthy food. Many people eat corn flakes to lose weight or reduce harmful belly fat.

The base ingredient in corn flakes is corn, but along with that the other major ingredient are sugar, malt flavouring, and high fructose corn syrup. All these ingredients have a high content of GI carbohydrates. In fact, there is a huge controversy linked to the excessive use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in food- it has been linked to obesity, since it promotes excessive food consumption and insulin resistance in the body. As Indians, we already have the ‘belly gene’, and are prone to diabetes. So consumption of high GI carbohydrates only increases that risk.

Apart from the adverse health effects of HFCS, corn flakes has a high content of GI carbohydrates, which also promotes fat storage in your body. Besides the fat storage, high GI carbohydrates increase your blood sugar drastically. This high blood sugar level promotes fat storage in the body. This is the ‘sugar rush’ or ‘energy rush’ that you experience after eating sweets. Your brain’s job in the body is to balance all processes. So to counteract this increased blood sugar level, your body over produces Insulin. (Insulin is a hormone which regulates blood sugar levels. For more, know more about Insulin). With extra insulin in your system, your blood sugar level reduces drastically. Your brain assumes this low blood sugar is a signal of less energy, which is why you experience laziness post a carbohydrate heavy meal (rice, white bread, etc). Your brain also signals you to eat despite being full, since it misinterprets these low sugar levels for lack of energy in the body.

Calories and Nutrition in Corn Flakes: Each cup of corn flakes (approx 25 grams) contains, 21.7 gms of carbohydrates and only 1.7 grams of protein and low fiber content, if any. Due to its low protein content, it will not keep you full for long. Each cup of corn flakes has approx 95 calories.

Some breakfast cereal advertisements might show that corn flakes help you lose weight, but they only expect you to eat limited corn flakes for your meals. The irony of corn flakes is that its low in fat, but the high sugar content promotes fat storage!

If you really enjoy corn flakes, then have it with some low fat milk, and add a dose of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants with fruits like berries, apples or bananas. Add some nuts for protein, healthy fats and some more fibre. It’ll make a delicious and healthy breakfast and great post workout snack. If you’re diabetic, watch your diet – we have the complete list of foods that diabetics should avoid.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Healthiest Indian Sweets and Desserts

With the Indian festive season and celebrations at their peak, we all love to indulge in the delicacies, specially the delicious sweets and desserts. We’ve told you how sugar makes you fat. Now, all these desserts are loadd with sugar, so consuming too much of them will promote weight gain. If you’re trying to stay fit, its hard striking a balance, but its not impossible. Besides providing you with tips to stay fit during the festive season, we have a list of which Indian sweets are healthy, unhealthy and downright health disasters. With our health guide to Indian sweets, you can satisfy your sugar cravings and avoid the harmful belly fat:

Sandesh- Healthy Indian Bengali Dessert

The healthy Indian Sweets: Rasgulla (rosogolla) and Sandesh are both paneer based (Indian cottage cheese) and in most cases are lightly sweetened. So, their calorie content is relatively lower. They are not fried, so their fat content is lower. Since they are paneer based, they have good protein content as well as calcium. Protein keeps you full for longer and helps you burn more calories. It also helps to build and repair your muscles! To make Rasgulla healthier, squeeze out the syrup- its just sugar loaded syrup.

Besides these healthy Bengali sweets, Kheer (or Payasam) can be made healthy too-Use low fat milk, lightly sweeten with sugar, and add slivered almonds to add some health and taste oomph to it. Similarly Shrikhand can be made healthy.

The unhealthy Indian sweets: Unfortunately, this list is longer. It covers all types of Laddoos, Sohan Papdi, Barfi. What makes these worse than the previous list is their higher fat and sugar content. Along with being intensely sweet, many of these are deep fried, so they have high fat content. Note: There are many types of laddus and barfis. Some unhealthier than others. Since not all can be covered here, they’ve been generalized to this category.

Jalebi- unhealthy Indian dessert- high on sugar and fat content

Delicious Jalebi- Loaded with sugar and fat

The unhealthiest Indian sweets: This list is the one that you want to really watch out for. Once you know what’s on this list, you’re not going to be happy since they’re all lip smacking. All these delicacies are just absolutely loaded with oil/ghee and soaked in sugar- Halwa, Mysore Pak, Gulab Jamun and the mighty Jalebi. On this list, there’s really no way to get away with a healthy option. Its close to impossible to make these healthy.

If you really must indulge, go ahead and do so. But watch your portions. The calories can really add up!

If you need help to lose weight, call us or email us at Fitho.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Fitho Recipe- Strawberry Banana Yoghurt Smoothie

Need a great breakfast, mid day snack, or a post workout shake?

Here it is: Take 6-8 strawberries, 1 ripe banana, 2 cups plain low fat yoghurt, 1/2 cup crushed ice, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp vanilla essence and blend it all in a food processor. This makes 3-4 servings.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

This shake is loaded with fiber, protein and good carbohydrates to keep you going for longer, besides all the vitamins and antioxidants from the fruits and honey. Each serving of this smoothie should be about 60-80 calories. This smoothie also has a medium glycemic index.

So, make yourself this smoothie and enjoy it knowing that its good for you This strawberry smoothie is a great post workout snack!

To make this a weight gain smoothie, swap the yoghurt with vanilla ice cream. Don’t worry, ice cream can be healthy.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo