Do you really lose weight by fat-free and sugar-free diets? Know the pros and cons of such eating patterns  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
New Delhi:Navratris mark the beginning of the festive and even the wedding season in India. With various festivals like Diwali, Dushehra, and at least one wedding in the family, everyone wishes to be in shape, lose weight, and look their best on these events. Many people think of Navratris asnot just a time to worship, but also as a time to lose weight with fasting. However, most people end up gaining weight, instead of losing. Weight loss is a long process that requires consistency, watching what you eat, but also how much you eat.Ms.Shivani Bavalekar, nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Kalyani Nagar, Pune, shares insights on how consuming fat-free and sugar-free food may or may not help you lose weight, and what you must include in your diet for weight loss during fasting.
Navratri festival is full of lights, dance, energy and fasting (upwas). Usually many people in this season fast for complete 9 days and consume fasting food or we can call it as UPWAS thali. The people who are fasting always feel they will lose weight but the fact is different. When you go on fasting for a longer time the body goes into starvation and converts the food into fats, which for many people turns into weight gain instead of weight loss.
We all think that consuming sugar-free or fat-free products will help our weight loss but every factor has its pro and cons.When we say sugar-free, itmeans excluding sugar from the diet which technically is not possible. Hence, what most people do is that they substitute sugar with artificial sugar or saccharine. However, they do not realise that overeating sugar-free products is equivalent to eating sugar-filled products. Many sugar-free products contain artificial sugar along with hidden sugars, which giveyou the same calories as present in normal sugar. The main way to lose weight and stay healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet which consists of lean protein, fibre-rich carbohydrate and healthy fats, and at the same time, exercise regularly.
It is recommended to replace your white sugar with jaggery, date syrup etc. which are natural sources of sugar, but to consume in moderation i.e. 5 teaspoonsper day, only if your weight is normal, and you dont have any co-morbid conditions.
Pros of sugar-free diet
Weight Loss - Cutting down on sugar is nothing but cutting on empty calories. Hence doing this will help you in weight loss but you also have to observe the portion size of what you are consuming.
Cons of sugar-free diet
Difficult to achieve - At some point during your diet, you may end up craving sugarand there is a chance you end up eating a lot of sugary foods such as chocolates, and desserts. At times, you may also find it difficultto identify the difference between added sugar and artificial sugar, as many products have hidden sugar with different names.
There are fat-free products available in the market but eventually, these types of products are loaded with starches, salts added sugar, which will not help you lose weight.
When its come to health, its more important to focus on what type of fat and how much amount you are consuming.For instance, in-case if you are consuming a whole big packet of baked potato chips,it may sound healthy as it is baked and not deep-fried, but still, this might increase your weight, as this product has addedsugar, starches and salts to replace the missing flavours of fats.
Pros of a fat-free diet
Weight loss - If you make effort to reduce the fat intake, you might lose your weight, but this shall include restricting carbohydrates, too. However, to keep this weight off, you will need to continue limiting visible fat in your diet, and try adding healthy fats as walnut, flaxseed, and safflower seeds.
Cons of a fat-free diet
Fat-free diets mostly eliminate fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, because of which it alsoreduces their absorption in the body. It might affect our bone health, eyes and skin as well.
Hence, fats are also equally important as other nutrients but the recommended amount is 5 teaspoonsper day, only if your BMI (body mass index) and other factors are normal.Hence, whether its sugar-free or fat-free products or diet, what matters more is theportion size, when it comes to weight loss.
Please note - In pregnancy, exercise caution while taking any type of fasts, as the baby's needs are specific and usually fasting is not encouraged. If you are still keen to know how to modify your diet during Navratri, please contact your nutritionist for safe personalized guidance via a video consultation so that you can reach out from the safety and comfort of your homes.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.
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