Healthy Weight Loss Essentials
1 g of carbohydrates = 4 Kcal
1 g of protein = 4 Kcal
1 g of fat = 9 Kcal
Carbohydrates are either simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are glucose and fructose found in fruits and honey. Complex carbs are found in cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Fiber is present in plant foods and cannot be digested by the human body. Soluble fiber is present in vegetables, fruits, beans, rice bran and oats. It delays the absorption of carbohydrates and helps regulate blood glucose levels. Insoluble fiber present in whole grains, fruits and vegetables adds bulk to the diet.
Fats can be classified into:
Saturated fats – coconut, ghee/butter, vanaspati, cream, mayonnaise
Monounsaturated fats- groundnut oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil
Omega 6 fatty acids, e.g. rice bran oil, sesame, groundnut, sunflower and soybean
Omega 3 fatty acids, e.g., mustard oil, soybean oil, flax seeds, bajra, kidney beans, soybean, fenugreek, mustard seeds and fish.
Saturated fats raise the levels of total and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and are, therefore atherogenic. On the other hand monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats reduce total and LDL cholesterol and are therefore anti-atherogenic. Use of more than one source of fat/oil has the added advantage of providing a variety of minor components in the diet.
Cholesterol is found in most tissues of the body, especially in the brain, nerve tissues, blood and bile. It is produced by the body in the liver and is obtained exclusively from foods of animal origin including milk and milk products. It is needed by the body for various functions. Lack of exercise and excessive consumption of animal foods (meat, whole milk, cheese, cream, butter, eggs) as you grow older tends to increase cholesterol levels.
We cannot do without cholesterol because the body needs it up to a certain level for various functions. Even if we do not consume cholesterol, the liver can manufacture the necessary amounts for the body. Like everything else, when in excess, too much cholesterol can clog the arteries and eventually choke the blood supply to the heart, leading to heart disease. In a healthy adult, the cholesterol levels in blood are 180-200mg/100ml. Reduction of even one percent of cholesterol in the blood reduces the incidence of cholesterol related diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart diseases, gall stones, and obesity.
Energy needs to be restricted in case of overweight individuals. Emphasis has been placed on including foods high in complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber rather than simple sugars.
The body converts all the carbohydrates you eat into sugar (glucose) which is then used up as fuel by the body. When glucose molecules pass from the intestines into the bloodstream, pancreas produces insulin that helps absorb the glucose into the blood stream. Once the cells absorb glucose, the insulin levels return to normal.
The main element that differentiates good carbs from bad carbs is how fast the carbohydrate foods are converted into sugar in the intestine and absorbed into the bloodstream. This is known as glycemic index (GI). Foods with a high glycemic index are considered to be the bad carbs whereas foods with a low glycemic index are considered good carbs. This is because low GI foods are rich in fiber which release glucose into the bloodstream very slowly and aid better digestion.
Examples of low GI good carbs: whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Examples of high GI bad carbs: white breads, muffins, croissants, pastries, fruit juices, sugar laden sodas, sports drinks, chips, crackers, sherbets, ice-cream, and even boiled potatoes.