Tag Archives: metabolism

Does Low Calorie Diet Work?

Few people tend to remain fit all through their life. But for most of us age and lifestyle catches up with our metabolism and makes us unfit and old. First step towards knocking off the unwanted kilos is getting on a low calorie diet. While it works for some but there are more simple ways to melt those kilos and get fit.

What are low calorie diets. They are diets that give you approximately 1000 calories or fewer to eat in a day. This calorie allowance is not based on your gender or physical activity level. Mostly they are one diet plan that fits all kind of a routine. Besides the calories you only get to eat very selective kind of food which contains no fat or carbohydrates and are largely focused on protein & fiber to help you lose weight. Before we go deeper into low calorie diet let us understand what the reasons behind weight gain are.

The weight gain usually happens over a certain period of time. This can be largerly attribute to not focusing on eating right and not being physically active. not exercising or simply – not making health and fitness a priority. If you know the reasons that have resulted in weight gain then working on those factors could help you lose those pounds again. But does it actually work this way or is there more to losing weight than just eating food.

Lifestyle has a major impact on your weight loss efforts. Weight gain can happen due to many factors other than just eating food. Your sleeping patterns, stress at work, changing eating patterns, hormonal change, skipping meals, alcohol consumption, smoking, no workouts, sedentary work life, leisurely lifestyle etc. The list can go on and on and there innumerable such reasons which might seem small, but all add up to have a huge impact on weight management.

Maybe a low calorie diet is the not the right answer to your weight loss. Its not the quantity but the quality of food you eat that matters. Since the weight gain happened over a period of time you need to know that short term strategy of low calorie diet might get you some weight loss in short term but the side effects outweigh the short term gains i.e disappointment, poor health and weight gain in the long term.

Do you know our body is a fat storing machine. If we eat too much it starts storing it as fat but if we eat too little even then it starts storing fat. Our body’s are wired to go into a survival mode as soon as you cut down your calorie intake. They learn to survive on minimal and that is why when you go back to eating regular calorie diet you tend to gain the weight back again.

Another challenge of being on a low calorie diet. You kick start the diet by losing weight very fast but suddenly you will hit a wall commonly known as a weight loss plateau. When you start cutting down your calories the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.

A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. You start to burn fewer calories than you did earlier doing the same activities. All this effort and then a road block. In retrospect you wish someone had told you to be wiser and not fall for the low calorie diet.

Besides low calorie diets are outdated. People get on a diet to lose weight but land up losing their health. The reason why low calorie diets also fail is because they dont factor in lifestyle changes that are key to sustain weight loss efforts and maintain good health. A good diet should focus on quality of food and also give importance to physical activity.

Exercise plays a vital role in weight management as it helps to improve blood flow and circulation in the body, accelerates metabolism for faster calorie burn and lowers your stress levels. Exercise helps you to use the excess fat stored in your body by burning it. It is an essential part in weight loss and weight management process. If you have never exercised in your life before starting with 15 minutes walk post your meals can help you boost your metabolism.

We have nothing against eating less. Its okay to manage your calorie intake but what you need to ensure is the balance of nutrition in the diet. Just cutting your calories will not boost your metabolism. Infact the right kind of food combinations can help you get best results. So don’t waste your time on low calorie diets that restrict you to eat different variety of foods and force you to eat one kind of food every day.

If you focus on including seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet, be conscious about how food is cooked you will automatically reduce your calorie intake. Healthy food besides being nutritious makes you full faster and longer curbing your need to constantly reach out for food,

So stay away from fad diets that just focus on cutting down your calories while forcing you to eat insipid food. Instead say yes to diets that control your calories by adding essential nutrients to your daily diet. The idea is to lose weight and not your health.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Diet Tips

People either exercise or diet to lose weight. While to really lose weight & keep it off you need a combination of both. If you are not watching what you eat and think just by exercising you will get results then you have uphill task ahead of you. Smart people know that to lose weight they need to first watch what they eat and then add physical activity to multiply your efforts and lose weight fast.

Here are six easy diet tips that will not only help you lose weight, be healthy and keep the weight off for longer.

1. Stop obsessing about food

For most of us food is the center of our being. Maybe that’s our downfall. You need to make an effort to stop obsessing about food so much. Start by eating 3 proper meals a day. Eating every two hours will not help you keep your mind off food.

2Don’t overeat in the name of “healthy

This specifically applies to food that we eat out. Just because it is labelled as healthy that does not mean it does not contain calories. It might have marginally lesser calories than its counterpart or may contain one of two ingredients that make it healthy but it still does not give you an excuse to overeat.

3. Grab an apple before you step out of the house

Leaving house on an empty stomach is a bad idea. You are setting yourself up for eating extra calories while you are out. Eating an apple before you step out will prevent you from being tempted and eating food just for the heck of it. It will also help you choose smartly while ordering something to eat. Try this for a month and watch how much weight you will actually lose by following this simple trick!

4. Eating Sugar makes you crave more sugar

Eating food high on sugar makes you crave more food that contains sugar. Did you know sugar is addictive?! Infact it has been compared to have the same effect on our brain as some drugs do. Be smart and skip sugar. This also means staying away from processed foods that contain sugar in the form of ‘concentrate’, ‘fructose syrup’ or ‘corn syrup’. Read the label before you buy anything off the shelf.

5. Try ordering water instead of coffee 

Don’t look surprised, try it. You don’t realize how many empty calories are consumed while hanging out at coffee shops. Next time you go to a coffee shop order a bottle of water instead of your regular drink. You will have something to drink without an added burden of calories! If plain water doesn’t make the cut you can always get yourself a cup of green or black tea without sugar.

6. Exercising is not your ticket to overeat

The most common mistake made, maybe that’s why you see them going to the gym day after day and yet look the same size. Even the most exhausting workout can burn may be 300 calories per hour but a slice of pizza is approximately that much. So don’t let your hard work go waste.

Stay on track with these diet tips and practice moderation to help you not only lose weight but also keep it off.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

TV in the Bedroom Might Be Linked to Childhood Obesity

Obesity is amongst the most common health problems among the youth today. There can be many reasons that lead to obesity such as overeating, medical condition, no physical activity, etc. In a recent national study, researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that having a television in th bedroom was a significant predictor of adolescent weight gain. The researchers have observed that children who have televisions in their bedroom put on much more weight and show high BMI parameters than those who don’t.

The researchers said they don’t know the exact reasons for the weight gain but they offered two possibilities: greater exposure to food advertising and disrupted sleep patterns, including later bedtimes and poorer sleep quality.

Sleep deprivation is one of the adverse effects of having a television in the bedroom. Sleep is very necessary for our health. At least 7-8 hours of sleep a day is required. It is seen that children with televisions in their bedroom, have sleep problems and ultimately gain weight. According to experts “When kids have TV in the bedroom, they isolate themselves from the family,” he added. “They tend to go to bed later. They tend to be less active. They tend to snack on junk food. All of this will increase weight.”

It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough hours of good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.

Also, when you are sleep deprived, you will automatically feel low on energy and will grab something unhealthy to eat, which will gradually give you unwanted fat.

Bedroom televisions linked to increase in BMI

Results of one of the study revealed that having a television in the bedroom was linked to an excess BMI of 0.57 at 2 years after study baseline and an excess BMI of 0.75 at 4 years after study baseline. Furthermore, they say a bedroom television may increase exposure to child-targeted food advertising.

It becomes important to conduct parental education regarding this issue which can affect the child’s health. It is important to keep the youngsters in discipline in their daily routine. Removing the television from the bedroom could tackle the problem of obesity to some extent.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

There Might Be a Connection Between Your Genes and Your Fat

If you are overweight, your genes could be at fault. Research studies have found that your genes could be linked to a variety of factors, from your cravings to your lagging metabolism, to the fat on your belly.
Researchers say that a certain mutation in genes called KSR2 may be responsible for the hunger pangs and slowing down of the metabolism in obese people. Not just KSR2, there is another gene known as the MRAP2 which alters the body’s basic process of utilizing energy.
Then there is FTO, commonly known as the “obesity gene”, which regulates the level of hunger inducing hormone, known as ghrelin.

But along with genes, your environment and behaviour also play a big role in cravings, metabolism and fat. While genetic factors like FTO do play a role in development of obesity, genetic factors do not stop you from shedding off fat weight. The process might be slower than that of the average person, because of certain factors, but if you exercise regularly and eat healthy, there is no reason for you to not lose that stubborn belly fat. Also, regular exercise and diet over an extended period of time can increase your metabolic rate and help you reduce fat more efficiently.

The genes and DNA of an entire race of people in a certain region of the world could be responsible for higher fat levels. For example, people in South Asia are more prone to put on weight around their bellies. And fat accumulation in the abdominal region is the worst kind of fat possible, since it is the most dangerous as it is responsible for a variety of diseases. In fact, not just fat accumulation around the belly, even gaining muscle mass is harder for South Asians, compared to the average European population. The genes of an individual could even be such because of the previous generations’ poor food habits and low physical activity. South Asians in general are less active during their growth years and have an overall poorer diet quality than Europeans. There has even been a study that has found a connection between the health of parents and a new born baby. Parents who were unhealthy when they conceived the child passed on poorer quality genes to the child.

Irrespective of your genes, the right diet and exercise can help you lose weight and mildly alter your body type, even if you are genetically more prone to becoming obese. It might take a little more effort than it does for the average individual, but you will be doing yourself a favour, since you will be fitter and healthier.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Habits that are slowing your metabolism

Metabolism – the process of turning food you eat into energy for the functioning of heart, muscles and other organs. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn. But, sometimes due to certain habits, our metabolism slows down, affecting our weight loss goals.
Here are some habits that you should avoid, to prevent a slow metabolic rate.

1. Unsystematic eating schedule
Some studies found that eating low fat diets with erratic meal times lead to more weight gain than balanced, normal meals at scheduled intervals. Researchers concluded that eating at the same time every day (without very long intervals between meals) trains the body to burn more calories between meals.

2. Drinking less water
A lot of calories are burnt when one remains hydrated, so drinking less water will not help you lose weight. It actually slows the metabolism of the body. One should drink at least 10-12 glasses of water in a day.

3. Skipping Breakfast
When you skip breakfast, you not only binge on your other meals but also slow down the metabolism by conserving your energy instead of burning it. So, if you are looking to boost your metabolism, then never skip breakfast.

4. Infrequent sleep pattern
Many researchers concluded that people who sleep less put on more weight than those who get sufficient sleep. The reason is that, in a person who is sleep deprived, hormones that control appetite show a reverse effect i.e. you start eating more, which ultimately slows down your metabolism leading to weight gain. One should get 7-8 hours of sleep in a day to avoid slow metabolism.

5. Constantly stressed
Stress is one factor which is common for all unwanted health issues. There is a hormone called cortisol, which is activated due to excessive stress. This leads to fat storage in the body, which slows down the metabolism. Try to reduce stress as much as possible.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Dangers of Yo Yo Dieting

Yo-Yo diets come under the category of fad diets. It is followed by cyclic weight loss and weight gain. This kind of a diet is always easy to follow but has poor sustainability. These diets cause short term water and lean muscle tissue loss giving the illusion of weight loss. There are some reasons why yo-yo dieting is dangerous. Read the following drawbacks-:

1.    Increased risk of various diseases

Extreme calorie restriction among yo-yo dieters can increase the stress hormone known as cortisol. When this hormone is present in your body over long periods of time, it can have negative health impacts. It can even increase your risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

 2.    Effect on metabolism

Due to calorie restriction in yo – yo dieting, the metabolism of a person also becomes slow which can lead to low energy levels. On the other hand, the dieter also feels irritation, frustration and weakness.

3.    Muscle loss

Yo – yo dieting initially promotes weight loss but once individuals start coming back to their normal routine, they start gaining weight. A person will with a physique that lacks muscle and carries a lot of excess fat can have various health complications.

 4.    Nutrient deficiencies.

One of the drawbacks of yo-yo dieting is nutrient deficiency in the body. It Increases the risk of osteoporosis, fractures and broken bones due to calorie restriction and a nutrient deficient diet.

So, the solution to effective weight loss is to stick to balanced meals and a regular exercise regime.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Understanding metabolic rate

We often hear about the metabolic rate. But do you really know what it is and how it affects our body? The metabolic rate is the minimum calorie requirement to sustain basic functioning of a human body. A person’s BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the biggest factor in determining their overall metabolic rate, as well as the number of calories they need in order to maintain, lose, or gain weight. A person’s BMR is determined by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Factors that affect metabolic rate

Age, gender, muscle mass, hormonal imbalance, hydration and nutrition are the factors that generally influence the metabolic rate. Let’s talk about them in detail.

Body composition: Fat tissue has a lower metabolic activity than muscle tissue. As lean muscle mass increases, metabolic rate increases.

Gender: The basal metabolic rate (BMR) averages 5 to 10 percent lower in women than in men. This is largely because women have more body fat and less muscle mass than men.

Age: A decrease in lean muscle mass during adulthood results in a slow, steady decline of roughly 3 percent per year in BMR after the age of about 30.

Hormonal levels: Thyroxine (T4), the key hormone released by the thyroid glands has a significant effect upon the metabolic rate. Hypothyroidism is relatively common, especially in women near or after menopause. Everyone with a weight problem should have their thyroid function checked by their doctor and treated appropriately if it turns out to be low.

Basically the long term factors needed keep a high metabolism are regular exercise / physical activity, sufficient rest/sleep and a healthy diet.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

7 ways to Naturally Lose Weight

You want to lose weight but are not sure where to start? Here are 7 ways to help you lose weight naturally.

1. Sleep for 8 hours: Many studies have shown that an erratic sleeping pattern can disturb the physiology of your body. When you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and an unnecessary consumption of calories. Also, lack of sleep can cause imbalance in your hormonal levels and can slow down your metabolism. Therefore, sleep for a minimum 8 hours a night to avoid cravings and empty calories.

2. Stay hydrated: Consuming enough water keeps you hydrated and helps your internal organs function properly. When fully hydrated your body eliminates waste more effectively, which can make the digestive system more efficient and can help you in losing weight. Recommended amount of water is 10-12 glasses per day.

3. Green Tea: Green tea is a good source of antioxidants. Polyphenols present in green tea have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects. Unsweetened brewed green tea is a zero calorie beverage and contains much less caffeine than tea/coffee. It is also known to have different health benefits such as preventing stress, chronic fatigue, treating skin conditions and improving arthritis by reducing inflammation.

4. Increase Protein intake: Protein takes longer to get digested and therefore keeps you full for longer. However, increasing protein intake does not mean that you have to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Your body needs carbohydrates to produce energy and protein to build muscles; therefore, it is required to keep a balance between protein and carbohydrates. Good sources of protein include eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, beans, fish, soy and lean cuts of chicken and beef. But to balance their protein content include vegetables, multigrain bread or chapattis in your meals in combination.

5. Avoid Sodium: Sodium is a mineral which maintains the electrolyte balance of your body. But excessively consuming foods high in sodium leads to water retention in the body, thus increasing your weight on the scale. Limiting the amount of sodium in your diet can help your body to expel the retained water. Major source of sodium in diet is table salt which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Other sources of sodium include packaged potato chips, pickled food, cured meat, salami, and various fermented sauces like soya sauce.

6. Avoid Simple Carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates are simple sugars which easily get digested in the body. Therefore, you may start feeling hungry soon. This can lead to over eating. Processed and refined foods are high in simple carbohydrates. These foods include white bread, potato chips, etc.

7. Regular Exercise: Regular exercise helps in burning fat from your body. Make it a routine to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. It will also help you in maintaining your hormone levels, avoiding sugar cravings and keeping yourself fit.

Incorporate these tips in your daily routine to lose weight naturally.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Alcohol Spoils Your Fitness Regime

Question / Dilemma: Will an occasional drink mess up my health regime?

Answer: As ruthless as I might sound, but alcohol will entirely spoil your fitness regime. The logic is simple. It’s not about the calories in alcohol, but alcohol in general slows down your metabolism. The body traditionally treats alcohol as poison, so when you drink, immediately your body starts working on the removal process of the toxins and starts cleaning the system. So the entire focus of your metabolic system shifts. Intake of alcohol therefore slows down this weight loss program. So, if you really want to lose some weight over the next three months, you must completely cut down on your alcohol intake. Trust me; you will see a huge difference. Now, coming to the damage that has already been done, well there’ll always a way out. Keep your body hydrated by drinking lots of water, eat light and exercise.

Answered by Prachi Agarwal, first appeared in HT City (Hindustan Times), Get Healthy Delhi! campaign, where she is a Fitness Expert on the panel of health experts.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

The Habit that Makes You Fat

Nowadays, many people find it difficult to lose weight even after following a diet and exercise plan.  If you are one of them then it’s time to check your habit which may be interfering with your weight loss. The main habit we often ignore is not getting enough sleep. Getting little or disturbed sleep causes hormonal imbalance which leads to weight gain. Sleep is very important. Here are some facts about how sleep might be affecting your health -

Effect on appetite: Staying up late night or not sleeping enough increases the chances of getting obese. Many studies have shown that when you do not sleep enough it disturbs your hormonal balance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its affect on appetite and disturbed level of ghrelin hormone leads to increased appetite.

Effect on diet: Many studies have shown that your diet and your sleep patterns are related. Staying up late night can lead to disturbed physiology of your body. So, when you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and over-consumption of calories because when you are craving for food it is so easy to get tempted to reach for a cup of coffee and a doughnut for a quick shot of energy. But this will only adds up to your weight. So sleeping at least eight hours each night helps you in managing your weight.

Effect on metabolism: Late-night hours are typically inactive hours where you may be watching television or working on a computer so it affects your metabolism. When your body is deprived of sleep your metabolism gets slower down and will not function properly. It directly affects your weight loss as your body is not working effectively in burning the calories.

To overcome the habit of staying up late night -

- Start with avoiding big or heavy meals and caffeine drinks before your bedtime.
- Make sure you are drinking enough water through the day.
- Include exercise in your daily routine as exercise helps you in managing your hormonal balance.
- Lastly, eat a balanced diet and have a set routine that will help you stay healthy and get good sleep at night.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo