Ayurva Traveller Nutritionist Steph Liu

Hi there everyone!

Hope you have all had a splendid weekend and a raring start to the week! This is my first official blog for Ayurva and I would like to touch on a topic that I am very passionate about and give you some nutritionist advice.

As someone who is involved in fitness and nutrition, a question I commonly get asked is What foods should I be eating to lose weight. For anyone not directly involved in the field of nutrition, I feel this is a fair question. Most of us have this notion that x foods help us lose weight while y foods will make us gain weight and these are ideas that are constantly peddled by the media and various corporations whose bottom line isn't concerned with our health.

In my experience, what we look like physically is a manifestation of the way we choose to fuel our lifestyles. More simply put, you get out what you put in!

So today we play a game of Myth Busters! Where I will be busting a few popular 'dieting' myths wide open and hopefully, by the end of the article, I will also be able give you more practical and feasible ways of achieving your health goals.

Myth 1: Drastically cutting your calories helps you shed weight

True, at first this will cause you to lose weight. That is naturally what happens when you consume less energy than you expend. Eventually though, your body will hit what we call a plateau and here's why:

  • Your body will not only burn fat for energy, it will also start eating up your muscle-which means a decrease in your metabolism (how much energy you expend through the day) more muscle= higher metabolism.
  • Your body will go into a 'survival mode' and start holding on to everything that you eat; evolutionarily this is what are bodies are adapted for: Survival.
  • When the time comes that you are no longer able to sustain this way of eating and resume the way you used to eat you will gain all that weight back, if not more.

Instead of taking such a harsh approach, aim for balance. Launching yourself into a restrictive diet and going completely cold turkey is unsustainable and will end up with you falling off the wagon. Instead, have a close look at your current diet and pick out little bits and pieces you think you could do without. Perhaps opt for eggs in the morning instead of sugary cereal or 'low fat' fruit muesli or a smaller serving of rice in the afternoon but with more veggies and protein.

Myth 2: Skipping meals is a quick weight loss strategy

Similar to the first myth, not only will skipping meals slow your metabolism, it will also end up in you over-eating at your next meal.

Again as I mentioned earlier, aim for moderation, not deprivation. Not only will skipping meals end up in you over-eating during your next meal, it will also affect your daily productivity, leaving you feeling mentally and physically drained. 

Myth 3: Eating fats makes you fat/ eating carbs will make you fat

No. Eating fats will not make you fat any more than eating carbs will. Eating too many calories than what you expend is what leads to weight gain. I.e. when you cut an entire food group out of your diet it will naturally cause you to lose weight. This approach is extremely detrimental to your overall health because each food group contributes to your wellbeing in different ways. For example, fats are important in providing energy, required for vitamin absorption and hormone production; cutting them out will result in sluggishness and malnourishment.

Try to go by the motto 'swap it don't stop it. For instance, try swapping a couple of the sugary treats you have throughout the day for a piece of fruit; you'll get your sugar fix and a ton of vitamins and fiber as an added bonus! If you are into baking, there are heaps of substitutions you can make with your ingredients to 'healthy-fy' your desserts.

Myth 4: Eating after a certain time will result in weight gain

Fortunately for us, our bodies do not have an internal clock that is able to tell what time of day it is and base fuel usage or storage on that. So whether you stop eating at six PM every night or carry on eating till the time you get to bed has no consequence on whether your body stores food as fat. The relevance of this myth is that if you stop eating by six PM every night you are less likely to overshoot your calorie budget for the day and therefore less likely to put on weight. However, this is only true if by six PM you haven't already overshot your calories for that day.

My nutritionist advice would be to space out your meals and allocate your carbohydrates around the times when you will need an energy kick i.e. at breakfast time or before and after the gym. Other meals can focus more on healthy fats and protein. Just keep tabs on your portion sizes and you are good to go.

At the end of the day, the key is to find a balance in everything. Eating healthily or changing your lifestyle doesn't have to be a painful experience. You do not need to deprive yourself of everything that you love in the name of losing a few kilos. You just need to take a practical approach and make smart choices. Most importantly don't create an emotional relationship with food. This is where most people tend to struggle. As long as you fuel yourself appropriately everything we try so hard achieve like the perfect body or the perfect skin or increased energy levels they all just end up happening as a byproduct of your approach to nutrition.

With love and good health,

Steph