Tag Archives: calories

WHEN IS A DIET BOOK FICTION?

kareena-kapoor-yogaI had heard of some nutritionist who had become famous because of actress Kareena Kapoor who had lost weight and allegedly become more attractive. I had also heard that this lady had written a book on the subject of nutrition and weight loss. Even better, I thought. Then a couple of patients asked me about the book and what I thought of it. It was then that I chanced upon the book by accident at a bookstore. I bought ‘Don’t Lose your mind, Lose your weight’ by Rujuta Diwekar and proceeded to read it.

To say I was disappointed would be understating the truth. I was dismayed. Shocked. Nauseated, even. Not only was the language atrocious (the author tries to act cool by using Mumbaiya slang liberally, and gleefully discusses acts normally referred to discreetly by polite society), but the substance was horribly false and unscientific.

She adds weight to her deliberations by name dropping. Astonishingly, she credits Anil Ambani with the quote “Common Sense is Uncommon”. I was impressed by that—how shallow and hypocritical does one have to be to do that bit of name dropping and eminence-by-association? Of course, the lovable ‘Bebo’ is freely referenced. The whole credibility of the author and the book seems to rest on this one case of weight loss and health gain. 

The author makes amazingly dumb claims like “laddu can be as wholesome a breakfast as omlette”, “pasta does not make you fat” and many more. I am getting irritated to even continue this critique of this most unworthy piece of nutritional fiction. 

I thought I would point out the scientific fallacies freely thrown about in every page. I thought I would underline to the reader and show that the blanket truisms she spouts every other line as if they are beyond question are almost all fake and false at the least, and fraudulent at the worst.

However, so numerous are these, so wild and outrageous the claims that I am already tired of rebutting them one by one. 

If she really believes all she wrote, she knows no actual nutritional science. If she does know the science, she has written fiction. Let her decide what she has done.

I do understand that I need to substantiate my comments on the book. As tiresome as it is, I will merely list a few, and only a few:

* “Because alcohol raises estrogens in the body, drunk men giggle like girls”. Does this need any rebuttal, you think?

* “In the absence of carbs, fat cannot be burnt” (a more idiotic statement that this would take some doing!).

* “Bread, biscuit and alcohol are all bad carbs”. Yeah, I wonder she didn’t say beef was bad carbs, too!

* “Carbs reduce bloating and improve metabolism”. And my name is Janet Jackson.

* “If you eat sweets during your festivities without guilt, you won’t put on fat. Take your body into confidence.” Where will the calories go, you ask? Probably gets burnt off by all the smiling and shitting (her favorite word) that the guiltless binge must induce.

* “Animal proteins are difficult to digest”. Really? I thought they were easily digested, absorbed and had a high biologic value (the BV of eggs is nearly 98% or so).

* “Protein by itself leads to muscle breakdown (catabolism), irritation, constipation, etc.” Powerlifters and bodybuilders who eat proteins obsessively are clearly victims of the muscle breakdown, huh, Ms. Diwekar?

* Fasting is bad. Eat every two hours for fat burning.” Evidence? “I am Kareena’s nutritionist”, she seems to say.

Enough already. Dissecting trash is not really a good utility of one’s time.

Does this book have some plus points? It does, a few, but they are unimportant.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON AN UNFIT AMERICA (PART I)

Back after a 3 week long vacation spent in North America (mostly US), I decided to get something out of jet lag by blogging about it.
Here are some random thoughts of mine, having visited the US after 3 years. My health-fitness change had occurred in the interim, so my perceptions are new.
* Starbucks continues to maintain its smart image by doing things differently, and doing different things. They have a new drink that looks like a post workout drink (is that a first?) called Vivanno, that is a smoothie with strawberries/bananas/chocolate along with whey proteins. Around 280 calories and 15 grams of protein.Check this out for the full details.
retail_vivanno
(pic source: from Starbucks site)
They did have good breakfast foods, though their rich pecan toffee pie (see screenshot) and Tropical Paradise (which I had several times and helped to my adding 7 lbs of fat in 3 weeks) would more than compensate by way of sugar-loading your system!
Picture 2
They also scratch the patriotic itch by adopting soldiers in Afghanistan: you buy the coffee, and Starbucks sends it to them!
* Americans are patronizing fast food restaurants more than ever, and the results are showing! Mortons, an upscale restaurant chain, did not seem to be having as many customers as they would like, while McD’s were always crowded. Clearly a winner, though health experts continue to be traumatized at the ‘train-wreck nutrition’ of the company’s products.
* Soda consumption continues unabated, with very few people drinking water. Coke and beer continue to be as cheap as, if not cheaper than, water.
* Fitness ads on TV are all geared towards promoting gimmicky products. Nothing has changed over all these years: people buy into ‘new’ things that do nothing for them, rather than rely on the proven and trusted ‘old’ methods of fitness.
* I was impressed with one company (I forget which- Green Leaf, probably) that offered low carb products (they identified these clearly). However, their employees couldn’t tell me what a low-carb tortilla was made of!
* Another company, Au Bon Pain, had caloric numbers listed right beside the food names, unlike (almost) all others. This helped me: I baulked at ordering sandwiches/wraps/pizza slices that ranged towards 1000 calories a serving, even though I was hell-bent on going overboard with good-tasting (as opposed to healthy) food!
* Most good quality fitness products I wanted (like Therabands, mini-bands, ab wheels, etc.) were not available in the popular stores. Eventually, a City Sports store proved to give me most of all I needed (including Vibrams’ Five Finger Shoes and a foam roller).
Picture 1
* We all hear about the ridiculous food portion sizes in the US, but it is only when you experience it personally that you can imagine the havoc such food can cause to your health. A Porterhouse steak in Mortons weighs 48 ounces! That is like nearly three pounds of meat! Cookies, pies, cakes, drinks are all sized for monsters. Why, then, do companies continue to sell products that keep giving them constant bed publicity?
The answer is probably ‘value for money’: each dish could be shared by 3 or 4 people, I think, if it has to make any kind of nutritional sense. But do people do that? Clearly, no. Sharing does not seem to be fashionable.
* Italian restaurants, especially the highly recommended ones in New York, serve very small portions that simply cannot be justly shared. This seems to illustrate the Italian/French paradox: these people continue to maintain relatively lean profiles in spite of eating grains, sugars and fats in good measure, probably in part due to portion control.
* Indian food in Edison continued to be unhealthy for the most part. A couple of kebabs were surprisingly delicious and spicy. Fast food restaurants in the area served unhealthy food, as you would expect pav bhaji, sev puri, and mithai to be.
In the next post, I shall share more thoughts on related issues.

CALORIES, CARBOHYDRATES, CONFUSION?

Fat loss is basically all about creating a calorie deficit, right? We have been told for years together by experts, including a recent trial published in the revered New England Journal of Medicine, that fat loss can be established with a caloric deficit, and the individual macronutrient component of the diet is immaterial. In other words, whether you do low carb or low fat, you should be fine when running an energy deficit.
Many experts in the field of nutrition, especially the whistle-blowers of traditional nutrition (like Gary Taubes, for example) disagree vehemently. According to them, this is one of the sinister myths of conventional ‘wisdom’. Obesity is not the result of overeating, but the cause of overeating. This has been memorably exemplified in the movie Fathead. Check this link.
According to this school, if you eat carbohydrates, the resultant insulin spike causes fat deposition, and further cravings for sugars that leads to overeating. Therefore, obesity causes overeating. It is synonymous that carb consumption causes obesity.
The low carb school of nutrition advocates consumption of natural fats and proteins ad libitum, and avoiding even fruits (except occasionally, perhaps). On this diet, you don’t need to count calories, and you will lose fat even if you exceed your caloric requirement. How, you ask? In the absence of carbohydrates and insulin, how does the body fuel itself? You got it–adipose tissue, aka fat (a process called gluconeogenesis).
There are lots of people who have got impressive results with a low carb lifestyle. The more extreme low carb votaries advocate a ketogenic (meaning nearly zero carb) status as a matter of permanence.
So, for the average Joe or Jane seeking to shed 10 lbs (or 100, for that matter) of blubber, should one go low carb or should one tie down calories?
If you can go low carb, go for it! If you find it difficult (I, for one, can’t forego my mangoes, litchis or jackfruits in the insanely hot Indian summers), eat carbs, but stay clear of processed sources of these. No noodles, pastas, chips, etc., if you want to eat healthy carbs/sugars from fruits or the odd Bengali sandesh (made from dairy).

In this kind of scenario, keep your caloric intake down below your requirement. Be warned, however, that cutting carbs is the easiest way to earn a caloric deficit. If your carb count climbs up, so does your caloric count!
11_mango_lg

If I don’t eat sweets or fruits like mangoes, keeping a carb intake down to less than 100 grams per day is easy. On fasting days, it is as low as 50 grams. If you want to get it even lower (to ketogenic levels) then you need to avoid dairy. For Indians and vegetarians, dairy is a major source of nutrition, especially proteins.
litchis
Even though I agree largely with the Paleo outlook, I continue to enjoy verboten foods like sugary fruits and dairy. To me, therefore, a Paleo lifestyle is a major guide, but not a religion.
I go low carb on three days a week (when I fast and my carb/calorie intake is consciously and naturally low), and high carb on the other days. However, I should repeat that high carb for me does not mean I eat processed foods or more than bare minimal amounts of grains. Even on my high carb days I don’t reach near the recommended 300 grams per day. Most of my sources of carbs are dairy and fruits.
To sum up: if you can go low carb, do so by all means. If you can’t, keep the calories down! Exercise is one way of increasing your caloric deficit, though a relatively minor one.
At the day’s end, suit your fat loss method to what you will be able to sustain for a lifetime!

INDIAN FOOD AND NUTRITIONAL VALUE

I reckon this should be the title of a book, not a blog post! I will possibly tackle this on several other occasions, so don’t take this as a complete treatise on the subject.
I am putting down a list of Indian foods that I had a hard time finding the nutritional info of, and I hope this will help people looking specifically for this. I have made these calculations on my own, using the ingredient lists and from Fitday.
As far as possible, I have tried to be accurate.
KIRAY/KIRAI: A South Indian spinach dish flavored with grated coconuts and fried lentils. Very healthy, with veggie proteins, heathy fats (coconuts have medium chain triglycerides) and iron. The caloric value depends on how much of coconut is used.
Let me get into the details (all numbers rounded off):
400 grams spinach: 160 cals
1.5 cups of grated coconut: 424 cals
1 tbsp moong dal (lentils): 42 cals
1 tsp oil: 40 cals
Total: 666 calories, 63 grams fat, 18.6 gms protein, 40 gms carbohydrates.
This together gives you 6 cups of kirai. I can easily eat two or three without a blink (if not the whole thing).
Each cup of kirai, therefore, gives you:
Calories: 111
Fat:10 gms
Protein: 3 gms
Carbohydrates: 7 gms
Iron:16% of daily requirement
Potassium: 392 mgs
Sodium:194 mgs

CHICKEN KEBAB:

Each plate carries 273 calories , 15 grams fat, and 25 grams of protein.

DIMER DEVIL:

This is a much beloved Bengali snack that is essentially a boiled egg wrapped by boiled potato and minced mutton and crumb-fried in oil.
Each Devil contains 185 calories, 12.2 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and nearly 10 grams of protein.

FIRNI:
Picture 2

PANEER BUTTER MASALA:
Picture 3

CHANA DAL:
Note: each serving of chana dal should contain roughly an ounce of dry dal.
Picture 1

RAJMA:
A large serving with 100 grams of boiled beans
140 cals, 5.9 grams of fat, 17.8 grams of carbs, and 5.7 grams of protein.

RAVA MASALA DOSA:

385 calories.

SANDESH:

The size of the sweet and the quality of the milk makes caloric estimation uncertain. I take it as 170 calories per sweet, though you can also make lower calorie ones containing around 90 calories.

ROSSOGOLLA:

Similar problem with this delicious symbol of Bengal’s confectionary superiority: I estimate roughly 120 calories for each rossogolla.

MASALA MURI/ JHAAL MURI:
Picture 4

MUTTON SHEEKH KEBAB:

One serving should carry around 164 calories, 8 grams fat and 11 grams protein.

PAYESH/PAYASAM:

A serving of this sweet rice porridge carries roughly 140 calories, 5 grams each of fat and protein, and 18 grams of carbohydrates. Note that there are too many individual variations to account for, so use your judgment when calculating this.

More to come later. Hope this helps someone at some point of time!