Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Soy Ahoy!

Soy milk, produced when soybean is ground and mixed with water, is supposed to be an excellent substitute for milk for people who are lactose-intolerant or vegans. Soy milk is also supposed to be more nutritious than dairy milk - it has as much calcium and more Vit A & D and fiber than dairy milk - without the lactose, cholesterol & saturated fats of milk.

Soy milk is a great source of protein, Vit B1, B2, B6 & magnesium. It is an excellent choice for people trying to lose weight as it is devoid of cholesterol, saturated fats and is high in fiber.

The other purported benefits of soy milk are:

  • It contains prebiotic sugar that boosts immunity and helps decrease toxicity
  • Being low in saturated fats & cholesterol, it can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease
  • It contains 'isoflavones' that are believed to help reduce the risk of certain cancers, lower cholestrol levels, ease menopause symptoms, prevent osteoporosis & reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, particularly prostate & breast cancer
  • Soy milk contains only vegetable protein which cause less loss of calcium through the kidneys

Non-flavored soy milk is rather unappetizing, though you may just like its peculiar taste, but there are a number of flavors available in the market today, such as vanilla, strawberry, chocolate etc. 'Soyfit' is one of the brands widely available in Indian metros.

(Photo courtesy : Kolkata Mirror)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Go Tomatoes!!

Here’s some good news for tomato lovers…tomatoes help in shedding excess weight & staying trim.

According to a research done at Reading University (UK), tomatoes act as a natural appetite suppressant, making it easier to resist the urge to snack. This could be because consuming tomatoes changes the levels of ghrelin, an appetite-regulating hormone in the body, though this is yet to be explored scientifically. Lower levels of ghrelin tend to make us feel full.

What is know about tomatoes is that they are rich in fiber, and fiber boosts satiety.

The other health benefits of tomatoes are as follows:

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant, and protect against a number of cancers such as colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

They’re a very good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Potassiam & Folate, all of which help reduce the risk of heart disease & stroke by lowering the level of cholesterol & preventing damage to the walls of blood vessels.

Tomato juice is also known to be a natural anti-inflammatory & a good source of Vit K that helps maintain bone health.

More information on the nutritional properties & health benefits of tomatoes can be found here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I am thinking of doing the GM diet again. I lost 2 kgs the last time, though I didn’t follow the diet strictly...I didn’t give up the sugar in my tea, I cheated once (had a roomali chicken tikka roll because I was having terrible cravings) & I gorged on Chinese on the last day.

To be honest, I wasn’t mentally completely prepared for the diet. I mean, I was prepared to do it but I wasn’t prepared for the impact...the kind of cravings it gives rise to. Sure, you hear about all that from other people who’ve gone on the diet before you, but you can’t gauge the impact until your system experiences it.

I’m more prepared for it this time around. I know that the first day (fruits only but no bananas or mangoes) will be the toughest as your system receives a shock. Last time, I mixed up all the fruits together and had them for breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch & evening snack. By dinner time, I was sick of eating fruits and felt I’d throw up if I ate anymore, so I ended up skipping dinner. Bad idea...it can cause severe gas & acidity.

I also know I’ll get cravings the first 3 days. Your system is still adjusting to the new diet & is missing the things it’s generally used to getting. But I also know that the fourth day, which I thought would be the toughest because the only things you can eat all day are bananas & milk (I can handle the bananas but I can’t get myself to have 4 glasses of milk in a single day!!), will go off quite easily because by then your system has adjusted to the change. And I also know that I will get a major craving towards the end of the week and the prospect of cheating will be very tempting because you’re so close to the finishing line. I know what to expect, so I’ll be able to handle it better this time around I feel.

If you’re planning to go on the GM Diet as well, the thing to remember is that you MUST eat at regular intervals, else you’ll get a major bout of gas & acidity. In fact, people who have gastro-intestinal problems are advised not to follow the diet, I think. The other thing to remember is that this is more of a detox rather than a weight loss diet (weight loss happens as a result of elimination of toxins), so it is recommended you do it only once in two months. One must also remember that the weight loss will start showing only after the first 3-4 days or so, so don’t hop onto the weighing machine after the first or second day expecting to be lighter by 1-2kgs! You will be tempted to, but seeing that your weight hasn’t dropped at the end of Day 1 or Day 2 in spite of the efforts you’ve put in already can be quite de-motivating.

How effective is the diet? From personal experience & watching the results of those around me, I would say it’s pretty effective. You can lost 2-3 kgs in a week (guysenerally lose more than girls...maybe it has something to do with their mass?) Also, the thing about the GM Diet, as with all drastic diets is that once you go back to your normal eating pattern, you will end up gaining most or all of the weight you had lost, back. Some people have told me they gained more! So there are going to be some permanent eating & lifestyle changes that you are going to HAVE to make in order to keep the weight from coming back. For instance, I have stopped eating carbs post 7-8 pm & stopped snacking on junk food.

While not eating carbs (rice/rotis/bread) at dinnertime might not be a practical option for everyone, we can try and make certain changes to our dinner habits, such as eating dinner by 8 pm (we Indians have a nasty habit of eating around 10-11 pm, which is one of the worst disservices we can do to our health) & increasing the non-carb component. Since sugar contains empty calories, we can substitute it with sugar-free sweeteners. Junk food is extremely tempting but it is one of the biggest culprits behind weight-gain. Giving up on these things, and possibly more, sounds tough but then, who said losing weight was going to be easy? One thing I can promise you though (from personal experience)...once you adopt healthy eating, you are not going to want to slip!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Walk When You Talk :)

Seems like Idea knows what they're talking about in their new commercial. Walking is an easy way to burn calories in order to lose weight and decrease body fat.

The number of calories you burn depends on how fast you walk as well as how much you weigh. Apparently, research suggests that a person needs to burn 2000-3000 calories through physical activity every week to control body weight - which works out to be about 60-90 minutes of walking per day.

The minimum duration for which a person must walk in order to lose weight is 30 minutes. Shorter bouts of walking can improve one's overall health but is unlikely to lead to weight/fat reduction.

The good part though is that the 60-90 minutes of exercise can be spread out into small bouts of 15-20 minutes at a time. Walking short distances instead of driving / taking a cab, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car at a farther spot in the parking lot etc. all help.

Walking can be complimented by making small reductions in one's calorie intake such as skipping desserts after meals, using skim instead of whole milk, replacing sugar with an artificial sweetener etc.

However, if you feel that you cannot start with 60-90 minute walks, you can start with 15-20 minute sessions and add a few minutes every week. The important thing though is that once you manage to lose weight through any form of exercise, including walking, you must continue with it for the rest of your life in order to keep the pounds from piling back on!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The G M Diet

The General Motors Diet was developed for employees of General Motors and their dependents. It was developed in conjunction with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration of the United States.

Along with being a tool for rapid weight loss, the diet also flushes your system of toxins, giving a feeling of lightness, well-being and an improvement in one’s attitude/emotions.

The idea behind this diet is that the food you’re advised to eat burns more calories than what it gives to the body.

This 7 day diet requires that you abstain from all forms of alcohol and drink at least 10 glasses of water every day. This is what the diet program looks like:

Day 1 : You can eat all fruits except bananas. Consumption of melons is strongly recommended. Fruits are laden with nutrition, and limiting one’s food intake to only fruits prepares the system for the upcoming program.

Day 2 : All vegetables – boiled (with a little bit of salt & pepper) or raw. There is no limit to the amount or type of vegetables you can consume. For the complex carbohydrate requirement of the body, you can start the day with a large baked potato (which may be topped with a small pat of butter) for breakfast. The idea is that vegetables, when consumed boiled or raw, are virtually calorie free and provide the essential nutrients and fiber. However, one must take care not to overdo the salt, as it helps retain water in the body. The dose of oil (in the form of butter) is recommended for energy and balance.

Day 3 : A mixture of fruits and vegetables of your choice in desired quantities. However, no bananas and potatoes are allowed as the carbohydrate requirements of the body are met through the natural sugar present in fruits. The system is now prepared to start burning excess fat.

Day 4 : You can consume up to 8 bananas & 3 glasses of milk. This can be accompanied by a special soup which is made of onions, green peppers (capsicum), tomatoes, cabbage and carrots – in limited quantities. You probably will not be able to consume all 8 bananas but they are recommended to make up for the potassium you have lost and the sodium you may have missed the past 3 days.

Day 5 : Is feast day! You will eat beef (or chicken for non-beef eaters and tofu + paneer for vegetarians) and six tomatoes. The beef is for iron and proteins, and the tomatoes are for digestion and fiber. It is recommended that you increase you water intake today as that will help get rid of toxins and the uric acid you will be producing.

Day 6 : Today you can eat unlimited amounts of beef and vegetables. Beef will give you iron and proteins, and the vegetables will give vitamins and fiber. By now your system will be in a complete weight loss mode.

Day 7 : Today your diet will consist of brown rice, fresh fruit juices (without added sugar) and all the vegetables you can consume. Canned/packaged fruit juices should be avoided as they are high on sugar.

The soup that was suggested on Day 4 is a supplement to the diet and can be consumed anytime throughout the program. You may substitute vegetables according to your taste. For instance, you may add vegetables such as asparagus, peas, corn, turnips, green beans, cauliflower, etc. However, any kind of beans (lima, kidney etc.) are best avoided as they tend to be high in calories.

Beverages that can be consumed while on the diet:
Water - flavored with lemon if desired
Club Soda
Black tea & coffee - No cream/cream substitute or sugar

I am planning to go on this diet later this month. Will let you know how much weight I manage to shed!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tone Up!

Here are some easy tips for losing weight and toning up your abs, legs & back. I recently read them somewhere. They do not require enrollment at a gym and can be done at home or outdoors.

  • Walking briskly or jogging for 30 minutes daily.

  • Whenever possible pulling in our stomach as much as we can, holding for a few seconds and releasing. This is a great way to tone our abs. Similarly, squeezing and releasing our butt will help in getting firmer hips.

  • Lying on our back with our feet raised up towards the ceiling (at an angle of 90 degrees to the floor), lifting our hips towards the head in a back & forth movement will tone up lower abs.

  • For some of us, our body tends to store fat on our back. To lose that flab, lie down on your stomach, facing downward. Place your palms on your back below the waist. Slowly pull your shoulders up and back, keeping your feet on the ground. Repeat 20 times.

  • To firm your legs, stand with your hands on your hips or resting on a wall (for support). Raise your right let to the side of your body as high as you can. Keep your back straight. Bring your leg down without touching the floor. Repeat 20 times. Do the same exercise with your left leg.

  • Drinking 10-12 glasses of water daily helps flush out the toxins from our body and give us a glowing complexion.

  • And of course, easier for some but very difficult for most of us - avoiding sweets and fried food as much as possible :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Drink Your Way to Fitness

Tons of people swear by the efficacy of honey & lemon juice in warm water in helping aid weight loss. I read somewhere recently about why this concoction might work and what other purposes it serves, and would like to share it here...

The key ingredient in this mix is the water. Research shows that drinking water as soon as you wake up in the morning, raises your metabolic level significantly. This works because through the night, our body is deprived of water, and since our system uses water as a medium for all processes, it (the system) slows down during the night. Drinking water in the morning helps re-start the system thereby hiking up the metabolic rate.

Lemon & honey are also known to contain vitamins & minerals and are therefore considered safe even when consumed on an empty stomach.

However, this drink alone is not enough to lose weight. It has to be accompanied by exercise & sensible eating. And it is also believed that once our body gets used to this concoction, the weight loss stops, though the drink will continue to help in the digestive process.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Proteins All The Way!

People, here is some dope on the role of proteins in promoting weight-loss.

Many people, including I, swear by a low carb-high protein diet. It's said to work in two ways -The body needs more water to digest starch, so eating less of it creates a fluid loss which means you would lose a couple of pounds almost immediately.

Secondly, protein is more filling than carbs, stays longer in the system and the body needs more calories to burn it.

Personally, a low carb diet works for me. I try not to consume rotis, rice or bread at dinner time. You can feel the effect of this within a couple of days! You feel lighter and if you consume proteins such as chicken & paneer for lunch, it will keep you full for a long time and there would be no cravings for junk food in the evenings!

So there, the secret behind the effectiveness of a high-protein diet in helping reduce weight is unraveled!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get Fit

This is going to be a fitness blog. 'Fitness' is an area that interests me. Always has. But I have not always had the initiative to get in shape.

I have spurts of enthusiasm leading to temporary correction of my eating habits & exercise schedule (or the lack of it) before like takes over. Of late, though, I have realized that it is practically impossible to attain fitness unless we make it a way of life. If we see gymming or dieting as a chore, chances are we will not be able to stick to it for long.

Therefore, it is better to make lifestyle corrections – such as incorporating physical activity into our lives (for instance walking short distances whenever possible, taking the stairs instead of the elevator if we need to climb only a few floors etc.) & becoming conscious of our eating habits (such as consciously lowering the consumption of junk food, making sure we eat our dinner at least a couple of hours before going to bed etc.). These are minor changes but when made a way of life I believe they will be sustainable in the long run & will go a long way in helping us get fit.

I so wish I was a Health & Nutrition expert! I would have written a book on fitness. But given that I’m not, I’ll do the next best thing! I shall compile fitness & nutrition trivia I read on the web or in books/magazines, or hear about from experts (such as gym instructors, doctors etc.) & publish them on this blog.

I'll be doing this mainly out of interest & for my own entertainment. If you are interested in Fitness, you are most welcome to read this blog. But please please do NOT follow anything that's written here unless you have checked with an expert....because I am NOT one!

Lol...So happy reading!! :)