You Can’t Out-Run A Bad Diet

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? Hope all is good at your end. 

The covid cases are soaring again with a new variant, though thankfully, the symptoms are much milder now for everyone. Hope the numbers would start declining soon and this pandemic would disappear, forever! 

Today’s post is about a myth so prevalent in the society and more so, in fitness-conscious people (because they at least do some form of regular exercise regularly!) that it would take hundreds of posts like this, to even change the mindset just a bit.

And the fact is – One can’t outrun or out-exercise a bad diet!

Many of us make this mistake and in past, I used to do it too…workout to burn calories. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad thing necessarily. It is important to keep a tab on our daily (or weekly) calorie intake as well as creating a calorie deficit to maintain or lose weight. So, burning calories to stay in a negative, is crucial.

The problem starts when:

  • We try to create the deficit through unhealthy dietary choices
  • We eat unhealthy and then try to take our regular exercise routine ONLY as a mean to burn calories

The thing is, for optimum health and a normal blood report, one needs to eat well. One just can’t NOT eat healthy and think that they will burn all the bad/excess diet through the workouts next day and stay fit or even, healthy. Doesn’t work like that!

Why? 3 reasons why.

  1. We need to work a lot to burn calories from junk food. The exercise-cost (exercise needed to burn junk-calories) is pretty steep and bluntly put, not many can achieve it easily, on a consistent basis.

Do you know that a burger with fries and cola (even diet cola) would be around 1200 calories and to burn that off, one would require more than 208 minutes of walking?? Can you?

A plate of 8 fried momos with mayo…more than 1000 calories…just run for about 104 minutes, to “burn it off”, would you?

  • Exercise should be a consistent, gradual process. One that is enjoyable at least to some degree…to stay healthy and to be able to move. It is not a punishment for eating food.

In the whole weight-management or weight loss game, the contribution of exercise is quite low – about 20%. Rest 80% is your diet.

Exercise should be a non-negotiable part of our daily lifestyle no doubt, but for countless other reasons (strength, functionality, moods, joints, healthy aging, better sleep etc.) and not just burning calories. That 20% can be the game-changer for various reasons!

  • This ‘exercise-cost’ mindset destroys our relationship with food and our own body/mind 

It is a risky attitude to develop. It can result into eating disorders or excessive exercising which are both huge complications, on their own. It can become a psychological trap for the person.

Food is all about essential nutrients, fuel for our body and even enjoyment. Punishing ourselves for it, is never a great idea!

Also, it would be worth keeping in mind that though fitness is the next ladder to health…it necessarily doesn’t mean one and the same thing. The blood-work and mobility are the ultimate judges!

Now, that we have some hard facts on hand, how about we start trying to keep both the two things separate? Food is food, nourishment for our body and exercise is super-important for mobility, functional strength (strength for carrying day to day activities) and of course, burning that stubborn fat!

Hope the post today resonates with you and helps you understand that finding exercise cost of the junk food that we eat frequently (not once in a week kind) is not going to work at all!

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 1: Are You Addicted To Sugar?

Hi friends, how are you doing?

This pandemic, almost everyone is complaining of either putting on weight or of feeling down or of being anxious for lost opportunities. I don’t even want to think about people who are daily wage earners or people in occupations that are hit the hardest in this pandemic but still, it hasn’t been easy for anyone. Definitely not for the women of the house either, who deals with multiple chores including job and online schooling, all without much external help. I know I go crazy at times!

However, one thing is for sure. Everyone has realized the importance of being healthy. Call it immunity or call it weight management, the end goal is same – good health! As it should be. Weight -management is a part of the ‘being-healthy’ package as many illnesses or chronic diseases stem from being overweight/obese.

One thing that leads to not just weight-gain but many other diseases, is high-consumption of refined-sugar and products containing it. Ice-cream, cake, cookies, desserts, sweets, mocktails, few sauces all contribute to our daily sugar consumption. For some, sugar is a serious addiction and a big hurdle in their weight/disease management journey.

Have you ever thought about sugar being a serious addiction?

Yes, it’s true! Like other addictive drugs, sugar is addictive. But why? Seems pretty harmless despite all the otherwise claims…the to-die taste of desserts and cakes – what can be wrong with a little fun in life, eh?

What Is Sugar Addiction?

A true addiction happens when our brain chemistry changes to such an extent, due to some substance, that even when we know it’s bad for our health, we still consume it or repeat the experience.

Research has proved that too much sugar-consumption can lead to a true addiction.

Sugar addiction is basically the physiological or emotional dependence on sugar-laden food especially when we feel tired or feel low mentally.

Why Does It Happen?

This happens because our brain loves sugar. Sugar is the fuel for it and eating it releases dopamine and opioids chemicals in our brain.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and is what makes us feel rewarded when we indulge in our addiction. It makes us feel high and happy when we eat sugar. This dopamine is what compels us to repeat the experience again to again – to feel happy and high…and wanting more sugar! Opioids help with this process  and compulsive behavior.

And every time we gave way to our craving, our brain becomes even more hard-wired for it. We feel withdrawal symptoms when we try to quit sugar. Many of us can vouch for it, am sure!

Though in reality, sugar addiction is not as strong as let’s say, cocaine addiction (even if some researchers do say so) but it still is pretty harmful for us. What makes things worse for sugar is that it is widely accepted in our society as something to be indulged in and is even associated with all celebrations in a big way.

Are All Sugar Addictive?

All added sugars are addictive, for sure. Honey and fruit-juices come under the same category. In 2015, WHO recommended to consume no more than 5-6 spoons of sugar on a daily basis and this amounts to 5% of our total caloric intake.

5 spoons? That seems fine, we can do it, right? Not quite right actually as here is how we keep getting added-sugars, throughout the day:

  • From daily foods and snacks – granola bars, energy bars, protein bars, ice-creams, cereals etc
  • From bakery items – cookies, cakes, doughnuts, breads etc
  • From beverages – mocktails, liquor, soda, energy drinks, fruit-juices, coffee and tea – hot or cold
  • From ‘health’ foods – fat-free versions of many things, salad dressings etc

Do I Need To Quit Sugar Completely?

The good news is, no. We don’t need to completely quit and it is natural and alright for us to enjoy it unless we have a medical condition that strictly prohibits it.

One of my clients has rheumatoid arthritis and for him, it is absolutely essential that among other diet modifications, he quits added-sugar completely. Fruits, plenty for him!

How Are Fruits Allowed?

Most fruits are super sweet and that is how we love them, at least I do. For most of us, it is difficult to over-eat them and to get addicted to them.

Fruits are also packed with fibre so when we consume them whole, the sugar in them is regulated in such a way that it doesn’t cause high spikes in our blood. Fibre also does so many good things for us that this regulates the overall effect much better!

Another good news is that it is possible for us to re-wire ourselves, to effectively reduce the dependence on sugar. Physiological and mental, both. How? Stay tuned for the sequel post, next Friday.

Do join me on Instagram for regular updates on health, nutrition and fitness on the link below:

Till next Friday

Love, Health and Peace

The Confusing Business Of Calories

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all?

At my end, it has been pretty hectic lately. No helps still and the house is full of never-ending chores. Everyone in the family (two elders, one Other Half, two little ones and one dog…they all do their bits to help out but at the end of the day, the lady of the house gets the lion’s share of…err, chores, isn’t it?

Anyways, all this keeps me on my toes whole day (now night also, thanks to the latest addition of Kia, the pup. At 5 months, she is now tall enough to pull my hair while I am dreaming at night). I am sure your story is quite similar to mine and a big hug to all of us brave hearts!!

Amidst all the chaos, have you continued your fitness routine or diet plans? Or started any? Tell me if you have!

It does get all very confusing at the end of the day, isn’t it? Especially the term calories! Calories…low calories…zero calories…empty calories…high calorie food…calorie-dense food etc. What are these calories after all? Almost a scary word today especially for weight watchers. Let’s decode calories today!

What Are Calories?

Calories in simple terms, is energy that we need for day to day functioning.

Technically, ‘calorie’ word is the unit of energy that we get from a certain food item. This is how we measure energy. All food items provide us energy – be it sugars, fats, proteins or carbs. The amount of energy or calories each food provides varies. Every single cell in our body needs this energy.

Depending upon the goals and lifestyle, the daily calorie requirement ranges from 1600-2400 calories for adult females and for adult males, 2000-3000. However, men shouldn’t eat less than 1500 calories and women not less than 1200 calories per day – to get all the energy and nutrients required by the body for optimal day-to-day functioning.

Empty Calories

Empty calories come from food which would give us energy for sure but without any significant nutrients. Such foods are what we call as junk food also. Interestingly, one can lose weight on empty calories too, whether it would be healthy or not, is anybody’s guess. A few examples are pizzas, burgers and sugary foods/drinks.

Zero Calories or Low Calories

Products having zero calories such as diet foods and drinks are not necessarily any healthier, if you ask me. Replacing a good balanced meal with a low calorie meal-replacement bar/shake is not a great idea in long run! It just is not sustainable and can easily backfire unless accompanied by a healthy lifestyle change.

High Calories/Calorie Dense Foods  

This include foods that are high on calories in a relatively smaller portion such as butter or sugary sweets. Interestingly, some very healthy foods are very high in calories as well e.g. quinoa (yes, the superfood quinoa), avocados, dried fruits, olive oil etc

Similarly, low calorie foods have low amount of calories relative to the portion size such as many fruits and leafy greens.

How Many Calories Per Day?

The answer to this question would differ from person to person. It depends upon that person’s activity level and resting metabolic rate.

It is important to consume sufficient calories even if one is trying to lose weight. The calories consumed should be balanced out by calories spent.

Under-eating, over a period of time lowers our resting metabolic rate which in turn, affects our capacity to burn calories. So, if you crash-diet or starve yourself in the name of dieting, know that it is going to be rendered ineffective soon enough.

I have found an easy calculator online which should help you to with your daily calorie requirement. The credit goes to the website for it:

So, What Kinds Of Calories Should We Consume?

That’s a very important detail and the turning point for you if you have specific goals such as muscle-building, fat loss, weight loss etc. Ideally, 45-65% of calories should come from carbs, 20-25% from fat and 10-35% from protein. Of course, it also depends upon your lifestyle, medical history and goals. Kids need more energy coming from fat as they are growing.

Do you want to know a few easy ways to reduce your calorie consumption? Do let me know.

In The End

It is crucial that we change our lifestyle in such a way that the focus is on staying healthy- physically and mentally. This is the only way to enjoy the process and keep it sustainable in the long run. This enables us to have fun while staying active and healthy. World-cruise at 60, anyone?

Also, it is important to consult a nutritionist or your doctor if you plan to make a big dietary change/switch or go on any low-calorie diets.

Hope you found today’s post informative and it cleared away a few doubts. To join me on Instagram for more tips/tricks on health & nutrition, follow the link below. Your support means a lot to me 🙂

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace