Shiney, 32, a fitness patriot visited me on being recommended "strict diet consultation" by her physician after she underwent two horrific episodes of passing out at work. The tests showed erratic results leaving her bruised, confused and baffled. Borderline blood sugar, very low blood pressure, low bone density, insufficient vitamin D, low haemoglobin and palpitations were not things that she expected to face after diligently following a new diet and regular exercise regimen - recommended by her gym trainer who doubled up as her nutritional expert. In short, the fitness freak in her freaked out.
So, what went wrong?
Shiney, like many fitness enthusiasts, made some common mistakes. She was randomly following a diet plan not customised to her needs, but which had given good results to many of her gym mates, overlooking her personal medical condition and predisposition. Not only that, she was also a victim of the "in food syndrome" or "fad diets" that many of her friends followed blindly just because they promised rapid weight loss.
Consequently, she became malnourished. To add to it, she kept ignoring signals like fatigue, short breath, and irritability, lack of vigour, general disinterest, persistent weakness and fatigue, all the while focusing on the classic mistake of considering visually evident body shape, the biggest parameter of fitness ignoring holistic health completely.
But, isn't eat little to loose more, a cardinal rule?
No its not. Your body needs fuel to run all its vital organs even while you are asleep. The rate at which the body consumes this fuel is called the BMR (basal metabolic rate), and the rate of consumption of extra fuel by the body to help you perform your daily chores forms the AMR (active metabolic rate). The sum of these two is the amount of total energy you require to run your body efficiently, broadly referred to as RDA (recommended dietary allowance) or the amount of calories prescribed for a person based on gender, age, profession and lifestyle. Come what may, your daily calorie intake should never go below the given BMR even for the purpose of creating calorie deficit to help one loose weight, if need be.
These parameters should form the basics of any diet plan recommended for you. Remember, no nutrient can replace the other. Adding or subtracting nutrients or micronutrients without considering the bigger picture makes your diet intake imbalanced. Let me elaborate - eating steamed broccoli can give you satiety, vitamins, minerals but cannot replace a staple energy source. All celebrated seeds (flax, hemp, chia, sabja), leaves, potherbs, condiments should supplement your food intake but not usurp your basic food intake.
But, Shiney had followed a "Famous Diet" plan, like many do...
One size does not fit all. The diet one opts for should be precisely focusing on ways to boost the metabolism, break the plateaus, circumvent nutritional deficiencies and in no way should be causing any. Ideally, a diet plan should be customised by a trained professional after in depth study of the person's medical and genetic history, for fruitful results.
So, what's the way out for Shiney and others like her who face the same ordeal?
Simple. Don't starve and exhaust. Instead nourish to flourish. Check out these super six rules:
1. Eat all components of food, choose the source judiciously and take help if confused. Don't abstain from a particular food unless it's a metabolic or a medical need to do so. Like no AC can replace fresh air, no concoction or processed food can replace seasonal, traditional foods.
2. The menu should cover all nutrients and micronutrients to term the diet as " ideal". Fats and carbohydrates are important nutrients to help sustain the body, as they are integral to its proper functioning. So are vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, which strengthen immunity to help one fight diseases.
3. Calorie deficit or surplus should be created after keeping in mind precise calculations of BMR, AMR, fat percentage and so on.
4. Make sure curtailing of calories and tweaking of diet does not hamper or alter normal blood sugar, blood pressure, haemoglobin and vitamin and mineral profiles of an individual. It should only be resorted to help in managing any pre-existing health condition like metabolic disorders, for instance, thyroid and diabetes.
5. Indulge in scheduled eating. No meal of the day should be skipped or clubbed together. Small, frequent meals are important to stoke the metabolic fire and psychologically, they aid you in breaking the monotony of routine. So eat.
6. Hydration, correct electrolyte balance, exercise and adequate sleep are like cherry on the cake for being fit and healthy. Body aches, regurgitating acid reflux, constipation, flatulence, loss of appetite are small reasons to stop you short of experiencing big happiness.
Simple thinking and disciplined eating are all that matter, helping you glide through the beautiful journey called life.
Don't just waste your life worrying about weight, work towards health instead. Live and enjoy every bite you take, making sure it has all the nutrition you need.