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Low-carb diets are popular at the moment. In this article we will explain what a low-carb diet really is, low carb Indian food, how it can help you and a diet chart you can follow to implement a lower-carb diet.
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers that are the main source of energy in our bodies. We get it from most staple foods, mainly grains like rice and wheat. Almost all foods that we eat contain carbohydrates in some amount. We need to distinguish foods that have little carbohydrates and foods that are mostly carbohydrates.
Foods high in carbohydrates
The foods that are mostly comprise of carbohydrates are:
The current Indian diet tends to be very heavy in carbs. Here is an example to show this. Imagine a day where you eat the following:
The oats, rice, dal & rajma are all high in carbohydrates. There is some protein in the dal/rajma but you should note that they have 3-4 times the amount of carbs. Similarly, millets like ragi are also marketed as being higher in protein than white rice. While this is true, millets also contain a fairly high amount of carbs as well!
We don’t realize it, but it’s likely that for many of us 70% or more of our daily diet is made up of carb-rich foods.
Recent surveys of the diet of Indians confirms this.
No. The poison is in the dose. Remember two things:
Carbs are essential as a source of energy. For most of us, the carbs come from grains – rice, roti, bread.
There’s nothing wrong with having Carbs. But you can have too much of it.
And that’s exactly what we see with most people. When you add up all the carbs in the day, it can be 70% or more of your daily diet. That is too much and causes the following problems:
Problem 1: You overeat
Compared to protein and fat, you’ll need to eat a lot of carbs to feel full. There’s a reason many meals have a mountain of rice in the center, because there isn’t really much else on that plate.
High-carb meals get digested quickly and you will feel hungry soon after. This is why you have sugar or sweet cravings soon after a high-carb meal.
Problem 2: You lose out on nutrients
Carbs don’t tend to have as many nutrients as other foods like vegetables and protein. If most of your diet is carbs, you just won’t get the nutrients your body needs. That results in nutrient deficiency and health problems down the line. For example, deficiency in vitamin B12.
Problem 3: You don’t get enough protein
Your daily diet should be about 25-30% protein. With 80% carbs, you’re certainly not going to get enough protein. That’s a problem as protein is involved in most of the processes that occur within the body, and is important for several reasons including your bones, skin, immunity and hormones.
Problem 4: You’re at risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes
Your body will store all excess energy as fat, whether it comes from too much carbs or fat or something else.
Overeating carbs over a period results in weight gain and compromises many systems in the body.
This ends up causing problems like diabetes, fatty liver, PCOS, thyroid issues and hypertension.
Instead of focusing on reducing carbs, start thinking of re-balancing your plate to accommodate more vegetables and protein. This is a better way to get the right amount of nutrients required for the vital functioning of the body. Also, this will automatically take care of reducing the carbs.
Here’s a great example of what a balanced plate looks like. You’ll notice that grains (carbs) only make up about a quarter of the plate. This makes space for plenty of vegetables, protein and fruit.
Source: Canada Food Guide
If you’re looking at this plate and thinking that this is far away from where you are now, do not worry. Start with small steps and you’ll be surprised at how soon the little changes add up.
Low-carb diets are popular but that is not what we are saying. We are not suggesting that you give up on carbs or adopt some form of a low-carb diet. Such diets usually require you to have carbs to be under 20%. This is not sustainable, especially for women.
Going too low on carbs can adversely impact women’s hormonal health since their bodies are very sensitive to energy intake.
What we are saying is that it’s likely that you’re eating too much carbs now and that you should reduce the carbs and make space for important foods like protein foods and vegetables. So lower-carbs and now just low-carb.
Individual carbohydrate requirements vary between individuals, so instead of making drastic changes to your diet, start with small and sustainable changes. Observe how you feel and then think about improving it one step at a time. You will find the right balance to help you in achieving your goals soon.
Remember that this is not about switching from one high-carb food like rice to a supposedly healthier but still high-carb food like millets.
While the nutrients in millets are different from that in white rice, and it may be slightly lower GI than white rice, millets also contain a lot of carbs. So when you swap rice for millets, you are just swapping one high-carb food for another.
We have a lot of choice for low carb Indian foods. Here are the main foods you will have come across and that you can eat as part of a lower-carb diet plan:
Most Indian vegetables have a very low amount of carbs. They are also rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Any locally available vegetable is ok, the most common being ladies finger, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, spinach, carrots, onion, tomato.
The exceptions to this are vegetables like potato, yams and raw banana as they are high in starch (carbs).
Vegetables are very versatile and can be used in many ways in our daily cooking – from vegetable chutneys or vegetable filled parathas for breakfast, to salads, side dishes (sabzis), raitas and mixed vegetable-and-rice preparations like biryani for lunch and dinner.
We are blessed to have a huge variety of fruits in India throughout the year. Mango, jackfruit, watermelon, sitafal and chikoo are some examples. In addition, we get many varieties of banana, orange, papaya etc throughout the year. Use these fruits as your main snack. Eat the fruit, not the juice.
Chewing food helps your brain realize you are full.
Drinking juice does not have the same effect.
Milk, curd and paneer are rich in protein and lower-carb. They also have healthy fats and will help you stay fuller for longer. A bonus – curd and buttermilk are also probiotic and good for our gut!
Lentils and legumes
Dal, channa, rajma are lower in carbs compared to grains and can be included as part of a low-carb diet plan. Soybean is an excellent source of protein and very low in carbs. The soybean is preferable to the highly processed soy nuggets.
Eggs, seafood & meat
These foods are high in protein and low-carb. They also contain some healthy fats. They are a good option to include in any low-carb diet plan as these foods are very filling and will keep you satisfied for a long time.
Below is an easy to follow low-carb diet chart with an Indian diet that can be followed for a week (7 days). The portions are based on someone in the weight range of 65-75 kgs and should be used as a guide.
We have provided three separate low-carb diet plans – one for pure vegetarians, a plan for those who eat eggs and a plan for non-vegetarians.
Please note the following points:
While we have provided a low-carb diet plan below, please use this as a guide only. There is no single ideal diet chart as a one-size-fits-all answer approach will not work when it comes to a weight loss diet plan. One’s nutritional requirements will vary based on a number of factors, including gender, height, weight, meal preferences, any medical conditions, allergies etc.
This diet plan is a sample, and we would recommend that you work with a Daily9 coach to customize it for your needs.
Roti and paneer bhurji
1 fist fish curry
Rice and fish curry
If you’re reading this, we know that weight loss is a high priority for you. We also know that there are many program out there offering you quick weight loss. Many of them require you to do extreme things like eat zero or very low carbs. These are not sustainable and can even harm your health. And in almost all these cases, the weight that you lose comes right back. This is disappointing and frustrating. We want to help you break this cycle.
At Daily9 our focus is helping you achieve weight loss in a way that lasts. Without doing anything extreme and by sticking to the Indian way of eating. You will see that in the 7 day diet plan for weight loss that we have provided above, we have provided a mix of Indian and multi-cuisine options, including possibilities of eating out occasionally. This is a more practical approach because many of us do eat out or order in. In our program we recognize this fact, and so aim to help you make better choices while also enjoying it. This makes Daily9 easy to follow in the long run and helps you with both weight loss and weight maintenance.
We’ve worked with thousands of Indian men and women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight or find a weight loss diet plan. You can see some of our success stories here. TheDaily9 system is proven to work with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian men and women face like digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight.
Most importantly, the Daily9 weight loss diet plan is practical and suits an Indian family environment.
If you’re looking for a scientific and practical approach to weight loss, take a look at the Daily9 coaching program. It’s the only program that helps with weight loss and weight maintenance.
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