“No clothes are fitting me anymore – I must lose 10 kg as early as possible”.
“My blood sugar, blood pressure is high, not getting period on time, doctor asked me to lose 25 kg”
“Is white rice fattening?”
Sounds like your problem?
Enough of soup and salad, low carb, high fiber, high protein, low-fat diet – let’s understand how to plan a balanced Indian diet to lose weight. Read this step-by-step guide till the end.
Step 1: Set your Goal right
Setting right goal is the first step in your weight loss journey.
If you are not a part of showbiz (model /actors) and a normal office goer or homemaker, you must set a sustainable goal for weight loss.
Why? You are not alone. You are a part of family. Therefore no special diet is possible to maintain for the long run.
Weight loss is necessary and it should be a part of your health goal but that’s not your life. So let’s fix a target and go slow and steady. Over enthusiasm often kill the motivation early.
Weight loss or fat loss – what do you want?
They might look same but they are not.
- Weight loss = Fat loss+Muscle loss+Water loss
- Fat loss = Reduction of stored fat in the body
The water loss – Temporary weight loss
Generally, your body weight is consist of –
• water: 10-25%
• organ and other body tissue: 10-15% of body weight
• bone: 15% of body weight
• fat: 10-30 % of body weight
• muscle: 30 -35% of body weight
Apart from this, water is also present in muscle and fat. Your body is all about 50-65% of water. So water is a crucial factor contributing to your weight.
You can easily reduce 1-3 kg just by losing the water weight with a few days of fasting/ acute dehydration/ fever/ illness. But certainly, that’s not permanent. You will get back all these weights once you refill and recover yourself.
The fat loss – The long route
I am sure you would like to go for the fat loss option. Remember, this will take some time but definitely more effective.
Concentrate on losing fat by keeping your muscle intact. In fact, developing some muscle during your fat loss journey is always a good idea.
Ideally, the fat percentage should be –
• for men 10-15%
• for a female between 15 -20%
Save your muscle
One pound of muscle is four times smaller than one pound of fat. So muscle is denser than fat. That’s why two people may have the same weight but the body measurements are different. Or the body measurements are the same but weight is different.
Dense muscle burns more calories than fat. One pound of muscle can burn 6-10 kcal whereas one pound of fat burns only 2-3 calories. So having a good muscle percentage improve your metabolism rate and helps to burn more calorie on a regular basis even while you are sleeping.
I want to reduce my belly fat and some from the thigh area – what to eat?
You are asking for spot reduction which is not easy to achieve by following only a diet. You must start exercise focusing on fat around your belly and thigh.
When you start losing weight, first you lose some water weight, and then slowly you’re fat burning process starts from all over the body.
There is no way to keep the fat around your arm or butt intact and lose only around belly and thigh through diet.
How to plan an Indian diet for weight loss?
The popular “weight loss” diet generally looks like –
• No carbs – no rice/ no roti or, replace rice with roti or, reduce the number of rotis and no potato, mango, banana
• No carbs and salt for dinner – only soup and salad for dinner
• High protein – for non-vegetarian it is grilled chicken, for vegetarians its tofu and soy chunk
• High fruits and vegetables – Include kiwi, avocado, lettuce, kale, broccoli, and latest cauliflower. Keep having watermelon throughout the day whenever hungry.
• So-called healthy fat – drops of olive oil in food
Ask yourself –
- Can you follow this diet for rest of your life?
- Being a part of a family, is it feasible for the long run?
The sign of a fad diet are –
- It does not speak about balanced nutrition
- It encourages to have a particular type of food – salad diet, soup diet, juice diet, liquid diet, etc.
- It’s biased towards nutrients – low carbohydrate, low fat, high protein, high fiber diet, etc.
- You don’t feel energetic following these diets
- Your craving for “junk” increases
But, If you have read the “set your goal” section above, you know what is to do –
- No short cut as they are temporary
- Focus on fat loss by keeping the muscle mass intact
- Follow a sustainable Indian diet considering your situation and preference
How to follow a sustainable Indian diet ?
Focus on three points on your diet –
Step 2: Pay attention to the quality of your diet –
Do not fall in the trap of counting only calorie, rather focus on the quality of food you are consuming.
Remember your body is made up of protein, fat, and water. You need carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to run the body. Therefore each component is important.
A balanced diet focuses on providing this entire component at the right ratio so that you manage to create a calorie deficit without harming your body functions.
2.1: Remove toxins from diet
First thing first, if you continue to consume toxins on a regular basis and try to fix the other component of the diet, you are taking the wrong path.
Therefore avoid excess intake of –
Research shows regular consumption of these ingredients will harm your physical as well as mental health.
What are the common sources of these toxins?
- Biscuits (healthy/ digestive/ salty/ cookie/ cream – all type)
- Instant noodle, Instant pasta, Instant soup, Instant popcorn
- Readymade packaged fruit juice/ vegetable juice
- Soft drinks, chips, packaged snacks, the mixture
- Readymade cake, pastry, donut, and other bakery items
- Packaged breakfast cereal
Once you have decided to say NO to all these ultra-processed and packaged foods, it’s time to concentrate on making your daily diet doable and wholesome.
2.2: Concentrate on good carbohydrate
As mentioned earlier, you need carbs to run your body effectively. 60% of your daily calorie must come from the carbohydrate to keep your energy level high.
You can not afford to take rest just because you are low on energy because of your low carb diet. Right?
Is low carb diet good for weight loss?
A low carb diet or a very low carb diet works well for short-term weight loss. But there is a high chance of further weight gain once you get back to your normal carbohydrate intake.
We Indians love carbohydrate-rich foods. In fact, our climate is such which demands the consumption of more carbs, unlike western countries. Therefore following a low-carb diet is difficult as a part of a sustainable diet especially for the Indians.
What are the good carbohydrates to add in the daily diet?
Consider picking any following grain and grain products of your choice. Try to consume 2-3 types of grains every day as a part of your breakfast, lunch, evening snack, and dinner.
Keep the quantity under check. But don’t miss out on your grain consumption. Remember missing grain means missing your carb. If you start missing your carb intake, you are going to be on low energy.
|Rice||Rice, Murmura, Chirwa, Kheel/Khoi|
|Wheat||Atta, Maida, Dalia, Sooji, Pasta, Noodles|
|Oats||Steel cut oats, rolled oats|
|Millets||Jowar, Bajra, Ragi, Buckwheat|
|Corn||Popcorn, Boiled corn|
Can you lose weight on a high fiber diet?
A high fiber diet doesn’t always mean better weight loss. If you suffer from acidity, gas, bloating, and indigestion often, a high fiber diet will make your condition worst. So do not blindly opt for a high fiber diet. You must maintain a balance between soluble and insoluble fiber. Adequate fiber as a part of a balanced diet helps to reduce weight.
Can I eat brown rice daily for weight loss?
Brown rice contains more fiber compared to white rice. Brown rice may get difficult to digest especially if you have weak digestion capacity. It leads to stomach aches, gas and may give you a feeling of uncomfortable fullness, etc. Therefore, it is not necessary to have brown rice for weight loss. Start having semi-polished steamed rice which is in between polished white rice and brown rice in terms of fiber content.
Will millets, oats reduce belly fat? Shall I stop having rice?
Having millet or oats replacing rice is not going to make any huge difference for your weight loss. Understand these are all grain and good sources of carbohydrates. Therefore whatever grain you choose, you must have it in moderation. Eat the grain that you like and feel comfortable with and bring variety in your grain choice.
2.3: Pick your protein
You must have heard multiple times how a high protein diet enhances the rate of weight loss. Yes, protein is important not only for weight loss but also for the overall betterment of health. However, you must not fall into the trap of madness for protein.
In general, if you look at our diet carefully, we tend to have more rice/ roti compared to dal/ milk/ curd, etc. Right? The problem is not that we have less protein but have more carbs. That is where the carb: protein ratio looks bad. Control your carbohydrate consumption as suggested above, your protein intake will get fixed automatically.
No, you don’t need any protein supplement even if you are a vegetarian. Remember if you consume protein supplements, you must burn that within 3-5 hrs by doing some heavy workout. Otherwise, that extra protein may hurt your organ especially your kidney.
Sustainable protein choice
Consider having any 3 types of following food to meet the protein requirement –
- Variety of dal, sprouts, soybean etc – 2 bowls
- Milk and milk products – homemade curd, paneer, buttermilk, lassi etc – 1 glass/ 1 bowl
- Whole egg – one
- Fish / chicken/ mutton – 100 g
- Peanut/groundnut – one handful
2.4: Find the right fat
A mindful selection of dietary fat will NOT make you fat. So relax. In fact, good fat in moderation will help to improve your hair and skin quality.
Avoid refined oil for cooking. Switch to kachhi ghani or filtered cooking oil. Prefer cooking in mustard oil, sesame oil, groundnut oil, coconut oil, etc. Try to restrict oil use within 5-6 tsp per day per head. Therefore try to avoid fried food as much as possible.
If you can restrict your oil usage to 4 tsp per day, you may add 2 tsp of ghee to your meal. So you still have the freedom to apply little ghee on your roti provided you reduce the oil consumption. Do not use olive oil for Indian cooking.
Omega 3 and omega 6 are two essential fatty acids that are necessary for your regular diet for multiple health benefits. Consume a fistful of nuts and seeds every day to meet their supply. Feel free to consume a mixture of walnut, almond, cashew, pistachio, pumpkin seed, flaxseed, garden cress seed, watermelon seed, sesame seed, etc. Remember the quantity – just a fistful daily.
2.5: Ensure a supply of Vitamins and minerals
Weight loss is possible when you restrict your total calorie intake with good quality food and improve the metabolic rate. Vitamins and minerals act as a cofactor in our metabolic process. Therefore you need an undisturbed supply of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.
A variety of fruits, vegetables is the best source to meet the micronutrient requirement. Make your food plate vibrant with naturally colorful fruits and veggies.
Do not miss on –
- Green leafy vegetables – spinach, agathi, amaranthus, coriander, mint, etc
- Roots and tubers – potato, sweet potato, radish, beetroot, carrot, yam, tapioca, etc
- Other vegetables – gourd, capsicum, pumpkin, cucumber
- Citrus fruits – lemon, mosambi, grapefruit, amla, orange, etc
- Other fruits – banana, mango, papaya, watermelon, sapota, guava, litchi, jamun, pomegranate, etc
The thumb rule to pick fruits and vegetables are –
- Go local
- Pick seasonal
- Avoid exotic ones (to reduce chemical/ preservative load)
- Keep variety
- 3-4 types of vegetables a day – one green leafy, one roots & tuber, and 1-2 from other vegetables
- 2 types of fruits a day – one citrus and one other
Remember you need cooked as well as uncooked vegetables to boost the micronutrient supply. Therefore add cooked sabji to lunch and dinner along with some salad. You may think of trying raw vegetable juice on a daily basis. Caution: don’t expect the vegetable juice to be tasty but this is very effective for the betterment of your health.
Pick any 2 types of vegetables, wash thoroughly, and put them in the blender to form the juice. You may think of adding fruit to it to improve the taste. Don’t strain the juice as you need the fiber too.
Are bananas/ mango bad if you are trying to lose weight?
Sweet fruits like banana, mango, chikoo, custard apple, etc are absolutely safe even if you are trying to lose weight. Do not look at the fruits only for their calorie or sugar content. They also provide multiple other vitamins and minerals. However, consumption should be in moderation to create a better balance. One banana or one mango a day is fine. Try to pick any one type of sweet fruit a day.
Is fruit juice help to lose weight?
Always choose whole fruit over fruit juice. The skin of the whole fruit contains insoluble fiber and the pulp is rich in soluble fiber. You need both. These are needed to keep the insulin level in check and improve gut health.
Can vitamin supplement help in weight loss?
Vitamins are essential for general metabolic processes and weight loss. But vitamin supplements are a complete waste until you develop any vitamin deficiency. Regular consumption of vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, and seeds, etc are enough to provide all the micronutrients.
Excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins (vitamin – B Complex and Vitamin C) will flush out through urine and accumulation of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, K) may cause toxicity.
2.6: How much of sugar and salt are okay?
Try to restrict both sugar and salt intake for better weight loss. No, I am not suggesting you stop the consumption completely.
Two tea spoon of sugar and one tea spoon of salt intake a day are fine.
You may use white sugar, brown sugar, honey, jaggery anything of your choice. Please note, whatever form of sweetener you choose – all are going to give you some amount of calories.
Avoid using any type of artificial sweetener.
Excess use of salt will increase the chance of holding more water in your body. Apart from this, excess sodium is not advisable considering your heart health and blood pressure. Therefore as per WHO guidelines, one teaspoon of salt is safe to improve health.
2.7: Drink water
It’s the basic yet we all forget. Drink lots of water. Don’t make it complicated with warm water, cold water, hot water, or infused water. Just drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.
Don’t forget, we often misinterpret our thirst with hunger. So keep sipping water throughout the day.
Start your day with water. You may go upto drinking one liter of water if you can.
Step 3: Focus on Quantity of food
How much to eat to lose weight ? It’s a common question.
Don’t eat so less that you start feeling hungry within 15 minutes. That is dangerous. It will push you to end up eating biscuits or some other junk.
Eat mindfully – that means, focus on your food while eating. Avoid any type of distraction like phone, television, laptop, etc. Make your mealtime family time. Relax, chew your food and eat slow. This process will tell you when to stop eating.
Half the time we miss the signal when your body is telling you to stop eating. Be mindful to stop when you feel almost full. Remember you must feel energetic after a meal. If you are feeling sleepy post-meal, that indicates you have eaten too much.
Try to use small plate for meal.
Cover ¼ th of your plate with a grain (rice/ roti/ millet etc) and keep your dal, sabji, etc in the rest of the ¾ th part. You can never go wrong with this method.
Think twice before taking the second helping. Calorie deficit will help you to lose weight.
Step 4: Fix a regular eating frequency
Another common doubt is how many times we shall eat to lose weight.
Is it better to intermittent fast or eat 6 small meals?
Intermittent fasting or small frequent meal – both have their own benefits. It is best to follow the one which suits your routine and your body. Whatever you choose, stick to eat. Try to eat the meal at the same time. Do not miss any meal.
You may prefer to eat one/ two / three square meals a day. You may find it comfortable to split your meals into 5-6 small meals. Remember, whatever frequency of meal you follow, you must eat healthily and complete your daily calorie requirement within those number of meals.
Step 5: Consider other factors
If you are serious about your weight loss, only diet is not enough. You must fix the other aspects too –
- Try to get deep sleep for 6-7 hrs a day. A well-rested body will lose weight fast
- Stay active throughout the day. Make an exercise routine for 30-40 minutes 5-6 days a week. Go for yoga, zumba, dance, walk, jog, run whatever you enjoy.
- Try to do some strength training (under expert supervision) exercise at least twice a week. This will improve bone health and will also help to tone your body.
- Lastly, manage your stress. Stress increases fat deposition, especially around your belly. It makes you overeat and eat junk. Try some method to control your stress. Yoga, meditation may help you
If you are overweight, you need to lose weight not only to look good. You need weight loss for being healthy and fit. Weight loss doesn’t mean you will have to stop eating. Adopt a sustainable diet by eating good quality food as per your preference and situation. You must eat and healthy Indian diet that is good enough for your weight loss. Eat mindfully, eat in moderation. You will be fine.