Our country, the land of sublime contrasts has those who have the diseases of poverty as well as the diseases of plenty. Where on the one hand we have women giving birth to underweight babies simply because they did not get enough to eat when pregnant, on the other we have the archetypal overweight Indian riding the lift up to the home and office, driving the car to and from, and then finally finding the time to workout on a stair climber, exercycle or treadmill.
Thankfully we have a long way to go before we catch up with Americans in the obesity department (over a third of the American population is obese) or the amount spent on weight loss (the Americans spent a staggering $33 billion to $55 billion on weight loss in the year 2008). However in terms of gullibility we don’t lag far behind – we believe a lot of the tripe that the food and product manufacturers feed us. So if you ever come across any of these weight loss myths, you know to smirk and give the I-know-better eye-roll.
1. There are negative calories
A number of scams pivot on this myth: it takes more calories to digest a particular food than the number of calories that the food itself contains. So that food effectively has negative calories. One such product touted as a weight loss supplement is Bromelain, a pineapple extract. There is also the Acai Berry and products made from the Acai Berry or its extract. The truth is that the weight loss touted by such products is negligible and the studies supporting it mostly inconclusive.
2. You can ‘melt’ fat away
This myth is a a favorite with shopping channels on television. Here’s another lie they’ve been feeding us for years: you put on a belt of some sort and go about your daily chores and either the heat orthe vibrations from the belt make the fat melt away. They call it the ab contour belt or the ab isolator or similar. So if you want to loose weight stop eating the chips while you are watching that ridiculous weight loss gadget for Rs. 999.
3. Brown bread is better than white
Mostly this is a lie too. They call it brown bread – that much may be true, but the implication may well not. The ‘brown’ may be imparted by caramalised sugar and not whole wheat flour. If you read the nutrition information, you will see that so called whole wheat bread contains about 30% atta (max) and the rest is still maida.
4. ‘Low fat’ and ‘sugar-free’ mean low cal
It looks good on the packet and you feel less guilty as you chug down the ‘baked chips’ and the ‘sugar free ice cream’. Fact is, the sugar free ice cream is probably loaded with hydrogenated vegetable oil, and the baked chips may have a only a fraction less fat content than their fried cousin with more calories than the regular fried chips and ice cream.
5. ‘Healthy’ or ‘diet’ snacks will help you lose weight
The fact is that anyone can put ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ on the package. There is a very large unregulated packaged food industry out there. Anyone and their cousin can make a tasty snack, stick in a clear plastic bag and slap on a ‘healthy khakhra’ and ‘diet Dhokla’ sticker.
6. A colon cleanse helps
Basically this is someone giving you an enema. Not nice. There is no scientific evidence of any benefit of a colon cleanse – it induces neither weight loss nor does it detox the body as claimed.
7. Fad diets make you lose weight
It is possible that some diets will make you lose weight; even perhaps very quickly. But the kind of weight loss that results from mostly loss of muscle and water loss which is almost always temporary and usually unhealthy leaving you worse off from when you went on this diet.
8. Herbal/Ayurvedic is better for health
This is one that works very well with us Indians – we assume that if it says herbal or ayurvedic, it must be better than anything that comes out of an allopathic blister pack. Truth is that herbal is a unregulated term – anyone can and does use it. Take a so called herbal product and see the list of ingredients on the rear. Nothing herbal about it! Some so called ayurvedic products could contain toxic heavy metals even which could put in the ICU if taken in excess amounts or if you are allergic to certain ingredients commonly found in these pills/juices/syrups.
9. Weight loss products will make you lose weight effortlessly
If they tell you that a product will make you lose without effort, while sitting about and reading, be suspicious, very suspicious. Alas when it comes to weight loss, it’s very much a case of no pain no gain. Some of these products are diuretics and purgatives which can actually be dangerous which can cause dangerous levels of dehydration, dizziness and mood swings.
10.The before and after photos
Sure there may be some genuine ones out there who lost weight with the help of some tough exercising and healthy eating or perhaps some help with a stapled stomach. But some are quite simply courtesy your friendly neighbourhood Photoshop app. Either that or there’s a really fit guy standing in a fat guy’s pants.
By – Reena Daruwalla
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