BENGALURU : In today’s busy life, most of us do not get sufficient time to take care of our own bodies, which may lead us to many of the lifestyle disorders and this fact is not a mystery anymore. But to understand the current situation, I would like to take you back to Stone Age. During the first stage of our very own existence, every day was focused on survival. On a few lucky days, our ancestors used to hunt and eat at a large quantity so that they could survive for the next few days by storing up energy in their bodies. To be clearer, they ate in a large amount of calories, but also burned a lot of calories through their activities.
Any excess calories were stored to allow our ancestors to survive during periods of food shortage. Now you must be wondering why I am giving this example. Do I want us to go back to the same era again?
Well, the answer is NO. While we cannot turn back the wheel of technology, at the same time, we also should keep one point in mind: Our bodies were designed to be active and to store any extra calories that are not burned through daily activities.
When it comes to our current health, there are a few things which are not in our hands, so there’s no point thinking about those factors. Rather we should concentrate on those factors that are still in our control. Today, many of us with sedentary lifestyles are also dealing with some problems related to lifestyle i.e. cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, elevated uric acids, obesity etc, because of which we are always looking for short-term fixes and following fad diets without thinking about the long-term consequences.
Theoretically speaking, if your body burns more calories than what you intake, you should be losing weight. But in reality, we all first need to know how our bodies burn calories, then it will get easier for us to understand our daily needs.
Well first of all, the majority of the calories we burn each day are accounted for by our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the minimum amount of energy that our bodies need to function while at resting state. On top of it, the other physical activities that we do are an additional source of calories burned. Now when we start any diet, most of the time we tend to concentrate on cutting our calorie intake, but focus less on an important part of the equation, which is exercise.
As you keep cutting your calories to create a calorie deficit, slowly, your body also starts to adjust with the situation and reduces its own requirement (BMR). As a result, you may end up to a situation where you will not be able to cut down your calories anymore and soon, you may hit plateau which is a situation where it seems that you do not lose your weight anymore.
So what is the solution? While restricting excess calories is important, exercising for at least half-an-hour to forty-five minutes is equally important. An active lifestyle will not only help you be physically fit but also may help in keeping a healthy BMR by maintaining and enhancing muscle mass. This is important, as – kilo for kilo – our muscle burns more calories than our fat mass.
So what about nutrition and food intake? It takes a combination of balanced nutrition and physical activity to keep us fit and healthy. But when it comes to nutrition, it is not only calories that you should think of. Though a well-calculated calorie-restricted diet is important, it is equally important to consider where these calories are coming from. When you reduce your calorie intake, it can be difficult to consume all the recommended amounts of nutrients when you have fewer calories to spend. So the quality of the diet becomes very important.(The author is a Nutritionist at Herbalife International India Pvt. Ltd)