There is an interest group for seniors at the Toa Payoh Public Library called Lim Kopi, Let’s Talk. I’ve attended a couple in the past, to discuss current topics such as transport and environmental change. Yesterday’s session was comparing the pros and cons across a range of strategies with a health coach from a social enterprise championing healthy eating in schools and at home.
The first thing the speaker said was that we can lose weight by eating good fat and one of the ways is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, use the right cooking method and the right ingredients. Our body weight is composed of three main components: fat, lean body and mass weight. (Fat would include visceral fat which will penetrate into our arteries, resulting in clots, the result of which could be fatal.) We were then shown a video about visceral fat in the body (taken from the National Geographic Channel) where we saw how less muscle means the body burns fewer calories and surplus food get converted into fat. Too many calories and fats make a lethal combination. Examples of fats are from bad oil and processed food.
A few types of diets were discussed: The Paleo Diet (a ‘hunter lifestyle’ advocating lean protein), The Vegan Diet (which no one was interested in), Intermittent Fasting (which includes the 5:2 Diet whereby one restricts intake to 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days in a week and eats normally on the other five days), The Low Carb Diet and The Ultra Low-fat Diet. The last two are the most popular :
The Low Carb Diet – Consume more fats and protein while severely limiting carb intake. When carb intake is very low, fatty acids are moved to the blood and transported to the liver where some of them are turned into ketones. (We’re supposed to find out more about ketones on FB on our own.) Deep fried items are out, so are peanuts which have very high fat, and no rice or porridge. Even starchy vegetables are considered carbs. Carbs stored in the body become visceral fats, so one can really lose weight if the quantity and frequency of carbs are reduced. The downside of this diet is that it does not suit everyone (like me). So we’ll just have to be mindful of “calories in and calories out”.
The Ultra Low-fat Diet – Limit the intake of animal fats. This diet is very high in carb and low in protein. Benefits include improving risk factors for heart diseases, inflammation and type 2 diabetes. The downside include problems in the long-term, limits the intake of many healthy fats, lacks variety and extremely hard to stick to. This diet is only feasible for the short term.
The speaker also mentioned two programmes called Herbalife and ageloc TR90. The former works, but the downside is that the effectiveness is short-term. The two conditions for the latter to work are discipline and determination. But it is a rich person’s weight management programme. (So neither suits me.)
The take-home message is that there is no such thing as a “best” weight loss programme. Different diets work for different people and the best diet is one in which we can stick to in the long term. Besides making daily healthy food choices and knowing the various ‘protecting’ foods (fruits and vegetables), ‘storing’ foods (whole grains and brown rice), ‘burning’ foods 1 (high protein vegetables) and ‘burning’ foods 2 (steamed fish, chicken), regular exercise is important if we want to maintain a healthy weight.
A Body Composition Analysis was offered to all present. As what I already suspected, I’m not only classified as obese (having a BMI between 24 and 25) but also have a higher percentage of body fat (including visceral fat) compared to skeletal muscle and a low resting metabolism. However, my skin carotenoid score is good (in the blue zone).
Already, I’m very disciplined with my exercise (I go the the gym for an hour every morning but the exercises are low intensity because – this is not an excuse – of osteoarthitis); so I’ll have to be stricter with my diet which is an uphill task in Singapore because there is so much yummy food around!