Fasting is a common occurrence during various festivities in Indian culture. The people who are fasting feel that they will lose weight, but that is not always true. When you go on any kind of fasting for a long time, the body goes into starvation mode and converts the food into fats, which for many people turns into weight gain as opposed to the expected weight loss. We all think that consuming sugar-free or fat-free products will help us in weight loss, but every such product has its pros and cons. Shivani Bavalekar, Sr. Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Navi Mumbai (Vashi), helps us understand.
When we say sugar-free, it means excluding sugar from the diet, which technically is not possible. People end up substituting sugar with artificial sugar or saccharine. But it should be kept in mind that over-consuming sugar-free products is almost equivalent to eating sugar-filled products and not entirely healthier. Many sugar-free products contain artificial sugar along with hidden sugar, which gives you the same amount of calories as normal sugar. Also, sometimes the products have other additives to enhance flavours.
The right way to lose weight and stay healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet that consists of lean protein, fibre-rich carbohydrates, healthy fats and regular exercise. Hence, it is recommended to replace your white sugar with jaggery, date syrup etc. (but to consume in moderation i.e. just four to five tsp per day, depending on your weight and only if you don’t have any comorbid condition) as this will give you more health benefits as compared to white sugar.
Pros: Cutting down sugar is nothing but cutting down empty calories. Hence, doing this will help you in weight loss but you also have to observe portion sizes of overall meals and foods that you are consuming.
Cons: It is difficult to achieve weight loss with this. At one point, we crave sugar and then there is a chance you end up eating a lot of sugary food. At times, it will be difficult for you to identify the difference between added sugar and artificial sugar, as many products have hidden sugars with different names.
Fat-Free Products Or Diet Foods
There are many fat-free products available in the market, but these types of products are loaded with starches, extra sodium and added sugar, which will not help you lose weight. When it comes to health, it is more important to focus on the type of fat and the quantity of fat you are consuming. For example, in case you are consuming an entire packet of baked potato chips, it might lead to weight gain as these products are loaded with sugar, starches and salt to replace the missing flavours of fats.
Pros: If you make an effort to reduce fat intake, you might lose weight, but this will include restricting carbohydrates too. However, the solution to keeping this weight off is to limit the consumption of visible fat in your diet. Try adding healthy fats like walnut, flaxseed, and safflower seeds instead.
Cons: Fat-free diets mostly eliminate fats drastically and this interferes with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K in the body and might affect our bone health, eyes and skin health.
Hence, fats are equally important as all other nutrients. The recommended amount is about four to five teaspoons per day if your BMI (body mass index) and other factors are normal. Hence, whether it’s sugar-free or fat-free products, what matters more is portion size, the nutritive value of the particular foods and the type of food you consume.
Also Read: Should You Eat Carbs When Fasting?