Integrating healthy foods in our daily diet can provide that extra nudge in our weight loss journey. Delhi-based nutritionist Ishi Khosla explains, chronic inflammation in the gut triggers a series of physiological factors that affect our metabolism and lead to weight gain and adverse lifestyle conditions including obesity.
“Grains (like wheat), corn and soya are the culprits that sometimes cause primary inflammation,” explains Khosla. She says that apart from excess consumption of animal protein, sugars, processed foods and trans fats, lactose intolerance also leads to issues like weight gain and obesity.
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Gurugram based clinical nutritionist Gunjan Jain says that proper diet is the most integral aspect of weight loss.
“Consuming nutritious low-calorie foods is important for achieving your weight loss goal in a healthy manner,” explains Jain.
According to these experts, some highly recommended foods for obese and overweight people embarking on their weight loss journey are:
To maintain the hunger and energy levels, Khosla recommends snacking on seeds (which are also known as “superfoods”), which can fill one up. Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds can be munched on to keep hunger at bay.
According to Jain, pumpkin seeds, which are rich in fibre, protein and unsaturated fatty acids, can work wonders for weight loss. Seeds should always be consumed raw and unsalted to avoid excess calorie intake.
2. Fibre-rich vegetables
Khosla highly recommends fibre-rich (green leafy vegetables) and brightly coloured vegetables (loaded with vitamins and minerals) to overweight and obese people. She also adds that they should be always eaten either sauteed, steamed or boiled.
Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower contain a great combination of protein and fibre. These (water and fibre-rich vegetables) are low-energy-dense foods which makes them ideal for weight loss.
According to Jain, eggs contain a high amount of healthy protein and fats. Although they (egg yolk) have been often implicated for raising cholesterol, a moderate consumption has also been linked to weight loss.
Having eggs for breakfast keeps you feeling satiated and reduces chances of overeating. “However, instead of frying the eggs, it is best to have them in boiled or poached form so that the nutrients remain intact,” is her advice.
When you are on a weight loss programme, you are likely to experience hunger pangs and cravings. Having almonds, walnuts, peanuts and pistachios (packed with protein, fibre and healthy omega-3 fatty acids) can keep your hunger in check.
“It is a good idea to snack on nuts in between meals so that you don’t end up feeling hungry and eating junk food,” says Jain.
Nuts (which contain good soluble fats) consumed in moderation along with exercise do not cause weight gain.
Snacking on fruits is a great way to watch your diet and prevent overeating. “Fruits like apples, pears, papaya, bananas and oranges are great for weight loss and keeping your sugar cravings in check,” explains Jain.
Fruits rich in fibre boost your metabolism which aids weight loss. Apart from vitamins and minerals, they also contain antioxidants which prevents cell damage.
“Having a medium-sized bowl of fruit during the day is a good way to fill one up in a healthy way,” explains Jain.
6. Whole grains
Someone who wants to lose weight without excluding carbs should aim to consume complex carbs found in finger millet (ragi), sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), oats, quinoa, brown rice or red rice, says Jain.
Khosla, who also recommends the use of millets, adds that for those aspiring to lose weight, replacing white rice and wheat flour with ingredients having low glycemic index and high fiber content is the way to go.
According to Khosla, jackfruit flour is also a great alternative to wheat flour. “For carb lovers, it can even be mixed with ragi flour to make chapatis,” adds Khosla.
Besides improving metabolism and keeping your weight in check, cinnamon also regulates blood sugar levels and insulin functioning. “It is also known to aid visceral fat loss according to some studies,” says Jain. However, consuming cinnamon tea should be accompanied by healthy eating and an exercise routine to yield favourable results.
8. Curry leaves
For losing weight effectively, it is also important to cleanse and remove the harmful toxins from the body. “When the toxins are removed, metabolism improves, thereby aiding weight loss,” explains Jain.
She recommends consuming curry leaves on an empty stomach. “Curry leaves have been found to contain a compound called mahanimbine, which is known to have anti-obesity and lipid-lowering effects,” she adds.
However, a person on a weight loss journey shouldn’t go overboard with the consumption of curry leaves as it can cause digestive issues or heart burn.
9. Chamomile tea
Another brew associated with weight loss and gaining popularity amongst fitness enthusiasts is chamomile tea.
Its anti-inflammatory properties are known to aid digestion and maintain a healthy gut which is a precursor to weight loss.
Chamomile tea is known to be rich in rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A. It is also known to have a calming effect in your body.
According to Jain, having it before going to bed helps you to get a good night’s sleep, which is also an important part of weight loss.
10. Pulses and sprouts
These low-calorie treats double up as a snack which can fill you up or may even replace your meal. Packed with fibre and protein, pulses can be consumed in boiled or sprouted form and can even be made into cheelas or dosas (crepes).
Soaking lentils overnight and leaving them in a muslin cloth to sprout can maximise their benefits. “The sprouted lentils or grams are known to have higher amount of nutrients than the regular ones,” explains Khosla. The fibre and protein content keeps you full, yet makes you feel good and light in the stomach.
11. Good fats
According to Khosla, if you use the right kind of (cold pressed) oils (like coconut, sesame and mustard), in the right quantity and refrain from reusing them, you can enjoy food and even desserts without worrying about weight gain.
While being physically active is a prerequisite to losing weight, consuming hydrogenated fats and re-used oils is a big no-no.
For weight loss and good gut health, Khosla also advices to look out for food sensitivities like dairy or gluten intolerance.
“While portion control is key, always address your peak hunger time (be it breakfast, lunch or dinner) and have food before 7pm,” says Khosla.
- Eating healthy with wise food choices is an integral aspect of controlling body weight.
- Some healthy food choices include vegetables with high fibre content, protein rich foods and some nuts and spices.
- The dietary choices will only be effective when it is accompanied by a proper workout regime to ensure healthy calorie expenditure.