Steer clear of these 5 calorie traps and stick to your diet resolutions
The one time numbers almost never add up is when you’re counting calories to lose weight. No matter how frugal your diet, how elaborate you exercise plan or how good your math, the weighing scale stubbornly sticks to a digit several kilos higher than what your calorie-calculator throws up.
Before flushing your fitness-tracker and deleting your nutrition app in righteous rage, consider dodging these five hidden calorie traps that derail more diets than cheesecakes and banoffee pies.
If you want to lose weight, stay away from saturated fat. These fats -- found in meat, poultry, dair and vegetable oils such as palm and coconut -- are not only packed with calories but also affect the functioning of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates hunger and satiety.
A study in the journal Frontiers on Cellular Medicine found saturated fats trigger inflammation in the brain that affects its ability to control how much you eat, what you choose to eat and when to stop eat, all of which are essential ingredients in the recipe for obesity.
Saturated fat is widely used in processed foods because it is cheap and adds to the flavour and shelf-life of products.
Healthy alternatives are unsaturated fats, such as mustard, soya bean, canola, groundnut, sunflower, fish and extra-virgin olive oils.
More than fat, it’s calories from sugar and simple carbohydrates that make you fat. And even as most people cut back on added sugar, they often don’t factor in natural sugars in fresh foods.
It’s not just juice with added sugar that needs to be stricken off healthy menus, but all juice except uber-healthy vegetable ones without any additives such as salt or preservatives. Even homemade fresh juices are high in natural calories.
Sweetened juices contain as much sugar as soda (200 ml has about a heaped tablespoon of sugar), so it’s best to have whole fruit with all its fibre to prevent an insulin rush because of sugar levels from spiking in your blood.
Sugar in all its forms must be shunned, so watch out for hidden sugar in packaged juices labelled as dextrose, fructose, maltodextrin, juice concentrate and high -fructose corn syrup. Don’t assume juices labelled organic are free of sugar, they may have sweeteners added that widen your waistline.
Among the healthiest salads in the world is what passes off as salad in India, which is seldom more than sliced onion, cucumbers, tomatoes and radishes arranged on a platter with lemon wedges. Salads lathered with commercially-available dressings are calorie dense and if added to salads with chicken or meats, can take up the total calorie count of a salad to 600-800 calories.
Add to that soups thickened with cream or cornflour and served with croutons and breadsticks and you have a meal as high in calories as a burger and coke.
Fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and yoghurt are healthy low-cal dressings, while soup lovers must stick to clear soups and broths.
Foods labelled low cal, reduced fat, baked, low sugar and lite are designed to take away the guilt of making wrong nutrition choices. The fact is that everything processed, however healthy, contains some amount of added salt, sugar and fat to add to flavour and shelf-life. This includes breakfast cereals, cheeses, breads, heat-and-serve meals, and processed meats such as cold cuts, sausages, bacon and ham.
Even healthy-sounding savoury snacks are loaded with calories and salt, found an analysis of 210 popular chilled dips, including hummus, guacamole, salsa, taramasalata and tzatziki.
The analysis, done by the UK-based Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) found that 100 gm of hummus, made from chickpeas, had 280 calories.
The study found that 100 GM of some dips had more salt than four packets of chips. Taramasalata, made from smoked cod roe, had 1.25 gm of salt per 100 gm, compared to the least salty salsa with 0.49 gm of salt per 100 gm.
Salt intake for adults should not exceed 5 gm one level teaspoon) a day, recommends the World Health Organisation. Including foods high in potassium -- sweet potato, banana, yoghurt, leafy vegetables and kidney beans -- cuts the effect of salt and lowers water retention to help your weight stay on track.
Foods are best eaten fresh, raw, steamed or cooked from scratch with little salt and no sugar. When it’s not possible, choose whole fruit, yoghurt and nuts and seeds over cereal and wholemeal toast.