International No Diet Day: Focus on nutrition, not calories to lose weight

Fad diets have become the quick fix and go-to methods for people looking to lose weight. Many people focus on eliminating foods from their diet instead of including healthy and nutritious foods. On International No Diet Day 2023, Health Shots brings you insights into healthy eating and diet myths highlighted by clinical nutritionist and weight loss specialist Leema Mahajan.

Leema Mahajan, a believer in holistic health and functional foods, says people need to stop blindly dieting. No diet is one-size-fits-all, she says.

Diet myths to lose weight.

Speaking about the importance of understanding nutrition, the expert highlighted some common myths associated with eating habits. These are mostly popular with people who are struggling to lose weight. Let’s take a look at diet myths.

1. Caloric deficit to lose weight

According to Leema Mahajan, the biggest trend myth is ‘Calories in, calories out’. Clarifying where he stands on the matter, he explains: “Creating a calorie deficit is important for weight loss, but that’s not the only thing that works. Variables such as hormonal imbalances, sleep, certain medications, and metabolic adaptations are some of the factors that make weight loss difficult for some people.”

She is also concerned when people eat very low-calorie, nutritionally poor foods following this approach. “While deficit is key, how you fuel your body during the process will decide how well you can reach your goal and then maintain it,” says Mahajan, warning that such diets are a surefire way to get nutritional deficiencies and mess you up. hormone balance.

Eliminate calories from your diet with caution. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Having worked with clients who were eating just 800 calories a day and still not losing weight, she says that metabolic adaptation has a lot to do with weight loss. Crash diets can cause side effects, so education about healthy eating is paramount.

“People benefit when their calorie intake is gradually increased over weeks with more nutritionally dense foods. Our human body is much smarter. With drastically low calories, it shuts down other functions and focuses only on survival.”

2. Eliminate fat from the diet to lose weight

People tend to ditch fat as soon as they think about losing weight and switch to boiled and steamed foods, Mahajan notes. “Grease has a reputation as ‘The bad boy of the heart.’ But not all fat is created equal. Nuts and seeds are high in fat, but the monounsaturated fats they contain lower LDL cholesterol (known as bad cholesterol). Omega-3 in ghee helps fight inflammation,” he adds.

It is important to note that fat is not just a source of energy, as it is perceived to be. Fat cells also help produce key hormones.

But you need to avoid sources of unhealthy fats like margarine, soybeans, palm oil, and canola oil. Most bakery foods, ice cream, are high in trans fat. Now, that’s the kind of fat to stay away from, so choose your fat intake wisely!

Also read: Why Saturated Fat Isn’t the Enemy You Always Thought

girl eating ice cream
Yes, ice cream is delicious, but it can add fat to your belly! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Consuming incorrect information

Thanks (or not) to the world of social media, most nutritionists or health professionals have a single piece of advice for leading a healthy lifestyle. They may end up eliminating essential food groups without realizing the nutritional implications, or focusing too much on a particular aspect of nutrition without considering the big picture. But consumers of this information should be careful.

Leema Mahajan, who is quite popular on Instagram, says, “People often hear conflicting advice from different sources and this can lead to confusion and frustration. Incorrect information can be particularly dangerous when it comes to diet and nutrition. People may follow advice that is not supported by scientific evidence and could end up doing more harm than good.”

It can also be difficult to tell the difference between good and bad advice. So while there may be plenty of appealing “quick-fix” advice, it may not always be based on solid scientific evidence. Whether it’s a high-fat diet or a low-carb diet, it’s important for people to read the latest nutrition research and ask their health care provider for advice before making drastic changes to their diet, Mahajan says.

Also Read: Hey Millennials, Is Your Diet Really Worth Trying?

One size does not fit all for weight loss

Weight loss or gain: Whatever your ultimate goal, Leema Mahajan says people need to recognize that there is no single “right way to eat.”

“Everyone’s dietary needs are different and what works for one person may not work for another. It is essential to find a diet that works for you and to listen to your body.”

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