Being obese or overweight is linked to dietary habits, physical activity, lifestyle modifications, and genetics. According to WHO, obesity or being overweight is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that impairs health. Nearly 13% of the world's adult population is obese. It leads to many comorbidities such as CVD, Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Autoimmune diseases, and Cancer. Poor diet and physical activity play a major role in fat accumulation leading to weight gain.
An ideal weight is maintained when you consume the same amount of calories as your body burns. When you consume more calories than the body can burn, it leads to weight gain. Then what about the type of calorie you eat? Should we take calories from one specific nutrient like fats, carbohydrates or protein? Is there any specific food? Is there any specific diet? The answers to all these questions have been briefly explained below.
There is a handful of research on foods and eating patterns for diabetes, CVD, and other disease conditions. Healthy diets consisting of vegetables, greens, and whole grains along with controlling disease conditions help in maintaining a healthy weight. Similarly, foods like carbonated drinks, processed and packed foods, and fast foods increase the incidence of non-communicable diseases along with weight gain. In order to lose weight, calorie restriction should be implemented and the calorie you consume should be from a healthier source for overall benefits without any ill effects.
Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the macronutrients that provide calories to our body. The quality of carbohydrates and fat plays a major role in weight control. Consuming more complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains like millets and unrefined cereals helps in controlling weight. Restricting the intake of deep-fried foods and oily foods is helpful as they are loaded with trans fats and saturated fats, which are the major contributing factors to fat accumulation in the body. Complete restriction of fat is also not recommended, as it may lead to fat-soluble vitamin deficiency. A good source of fat like oily seeds and nuts is recommended, which also gives the feeling of a fuller stomach. Similarly, a good amount of protein should be included in your diet, as they give you the feeling of fuller (increased satiety) and helps in increasing lean body mass. Another advantage is that it takes more energy to metabolise protein compared to other macronutrients. Fish, poultry, nuts and beans are the recommended protein sources instead of processed and red meats.
Fruits and vegetables play a major role in reducing weight, as they are rich sources of dietary fibre. Research shows that dietary fibre helps in losing weight and reducing the incidence of other disease conditions. Dietary fibre increases the feeling of fullness and reduces the appetite, hence you will end up eating little as your cravings are minimised. Another advantage of fibre is that it traps the fats and sugars in blood and eliminates it from the body. When you take a surplus amount of vegetables and fruits, you will be meeting all the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. This will benefit the overall health of an individual. Try to include seasonal vegetables, greens, and whole fruits (not fruit juices) in your diet.
There was a taboo that nuts and seeds promote weight gain, as they are packed with calories. The truth is that it is loaded with proteins and good fats, which help you to keep your stomach fuller and curb your hunger. Good fats like HDL help to decrease bad fats like LDL and Cholesterol level in blood. Almonds, walnuts, and unsalted pistachios can be included as a snack option for your weight loss diet.
Consumption of carbonated beverages leads to weight gain. Evidence shows that carbohydrates in liquid form contribute to less satiety and increased food consumption compared to solid form. This results in gaining weight. They do not contain any other nutrients other than sugars.
Evidence shows that regular consumption of alcohol leads to weight gain. This is because it has too many calories, but keeps the satiety level low. This leads to cravings for salty and greasy foods. It also increases hunger, so people end up eating more. Apart from weight reduction, consumption of alcohol leads to other life-threatening diseases. So, it is better if we avoid alcohol intake.
People find it easy to consume processed and fast foods in this busy world. These foods are loaded with salts and sugars to preserve them for a longer time. These salts and sugars have a negative impact on people's health like insulin resistance, swelling, and renal issues. Processed and fast foods are loaded with trans-fat and saturated fatty acids, which build up the fat cells in the body. It is recommended to restrict the consumption of fast foods and processed foods. Following a calorie-deficit diet by including proteins, fiber-rich vegetables, and fruits helps in losing weight. Along with diet, lifestyle modifications like regular physical activity and a stress-free mind play a significant role in weight reduction. Always consult a dietician before starting any weight loss diet, so they can customise the diet plan according to your body's condition.