Updated: July 27, 2015 4:29:47 pm
Currently, I have five friends on diets. One eats full meals only every other day and subsists on nuts, water, fruit and nimbu-paani in between. Another, mortified by summer holiday weight gain, has joined several gyms at a go (close to home, close to office and a central one for when stuck in Delhi traffic). There is a weird but comforting logic in spending money to kick-start a shaky commitment. A third is thrilled after losing some kilos post a juice cleanse, currently the trendiest, go-to term among those obsessed with shedding pounds.
Apparently, all this time we’ve been doing it all wrong. When we make fruit juice at home in a mixie, the heat kills the nutrients and live enzymes naturally present in fruits and vegetables. The new technique is to extract juice by masticating and grinding the produce without spinning blades or heat. A slew of cold-pressed juice companies have sprung up in Delhi and Mumbai (Raw Pressery, Juicifix, Jus Divine and Cleanse Up), offering cleansing and detox regimes where you consume 10 drinks a day instead of meals. Made with ingredients such as spirulina, goji berry, probiotics and protein powders, they’re delivered to your doorstep and can cost upwards of Rs 1,000 a day. This liquid diet allegedly rests the digestive system, kick-starts metabolism and ultimately, at the end of the three-seven day programme, you will lose some weight. Celebrities and models swear by its energising effects. The story goes, Deepika Padukone didn’t consume solids for a week before shooting for the song Lovely in Happy New Year.
Of course, it doesn’t last. People on the juice programme are consuming a 1,000 calories a day, far less than the 1,700-plus required for the average woman to maintain her weight. Like any crash diet that involves semi-starvation, the body goes into shock mode without solids. The light-headedness you experience can feel momentarily glorious since almost magically, you’re instantly lighter. But unless you plan to consume only liquids for the rest of your life, the weight will creep back, along with a slower metabolism, making it tougher to lose pounds in the future.
The concept of fasting a day a week to cleanse your body of excess toxins is not new; virtually every religion advocates it. In the som vrat (Monday fast), popular among Hindus, you are permitted fruits and foods made with sabudana and sattu (gram flour). It’s not a bad idea to start the week light, a good beginning to make up for indulging over the weekend. The Paleolithic Diet also supports fasting on the premise that our ancestors went for long periods without food, and survived. But as any doctor will endorse, fasting for too many days altogether will deplete muscle tissue or even reduce the functioning of vital organs. The sugar content in any juice with fruit is high, potentially dangerous for undiagnosed diabetics.
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It’s interesting to note that diet, as a word, is no longer used in academic articles on nutrition and trends in fitness. It connotes restriction and pain, and is almost certainly, self-defeating. Does it matter? Probably. A diet sounds far tougher than following a meal plan, which means balanced food that contains everything humans need to live. People who want to lose weight are willing to try almost anything and are motivated, solely, by quick results. Which is why chic, faddish options like juicing do well. There’s no getting away from the simple mathematical equation: to lose weight you have to consume less than what the body needs, as a lifestyle — not just seven days.
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