However much I try to eat healthy I am gaining lots of weight. I am very busy at my job and can’t find time to go to the gym. A friend has advised that I should opt for fruit and juice fasts in order to reduce my weight if I got no time for gym. I am thinking its a good idea I would like to try for at least a month or so but I also wonder if its healthy to live on fruit and juice only for weight loss. What would you advise me to do?
Vicky Kamikazi 26, Kicukiro
I think you have been trapped in the vicious cycle of indulgence and obesity. Initially when the weight increases due to indulgence in food and drinks, and lack of exercise one does not heed much attention. As the body weight increases, demand for food also increases, making it difficult for a person to check it. This is the most common cause for obesity.
Some cases of increasing weight can be due to endocrine disorders like diabetes and hypothyroidism. Drugs like corticosteroids also increase weight when taken for long time. Severe pain in hips, legs limiting movement and genetic predisposition are some other reasons for obesity. When the weight becomes more than the desired for one’s height, it makes one more prone to diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks and severe osteoarthritis of the knees.
It is not necessary to go to the gym to reduce weight. No matter how busy you are, you can start doing some exercise regularly, maybe brisk walking in your garden or even office premises for 20 to 30 minutes daily in the morning or during break time. Regular yoga will not only help you to shed extra calories but also tame the mind to do exercises and be disciplined in food. Avoid sitting continuously for long hours as that tends to increase fat. Try moving about in the office room itself in between your work.
Your friend has advised you as a well wisher but consuming only fruits and juices or fasting is not healthy for the body. Fruits lack calories hence in a month or so, you may lose some weight, but you will be deprived of other necessary nutrients making the body weak. Fruits provide vitamins like vitamin C, anti-oxidants (anti stress elements) and fiber to the body but they lack other necessary nutrients like calories, zinc, vitamin B.complex, vitamin E, and many other micronutrients needed by the body.
Moreover if one consumes only fruits, the quantity consumed will be greater to satisfy hunger. The extra quantity consumed shall be stored by body and converted to fat.
Avoiding white sugar and its preparations like ice creams and cakes, alcohol and soft drinks is very beneficial in reducing weight. These provide lot of calories and have no nutritional value. All meat products, except fish, add to calories and can be avoided. Deep fried foods like chips, add to body weight. Similarly substances like cheese and butter if consumed regularly increase body weight as well as cholesterol.
What you need is ideally a balanced low calorie nutritious diet. This includes whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fresh fruits and fish. Drink plenty of water. Avoid snacks in between meals and start doing some exercise regularly at your home.
Dr. Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital.