Diets that are are no sugar,no carbohydrates or low fat essentially those that require you to give up on one or the other nutrients or for that matter advocate not combining carbohydrates and proteins,are hard to stick to. Such novel approaches to dieting,also called mono-diets or the one-nutrient-at-a-time-fad-diet,seem to have gained popularity in the last few years. These are based on the belief that fat or carbohydrates are responsible for obesity and the treatment,therefore,lies in reducing these to very small amounts in the diet.
Mono-diets are based on segregating macronutrients such as carbohydrates,proteins and fats. According to these diets,when carbohydrates and proteins are eaten together,their enzymes cancel each other out,halting the digestive process and causing weight gain. These diets discourage foods that contain combination of nutrients. Each time a theory or hypothesis gains popularity,fad diet solutions appear. In addition,they become a significant profit centre for the food industry busily adopting to make products sugar free,fat free,low fat and bring with it sugar and fat substitutes.
The real problem is the one-nutrient-at-a-time-fad-diet approach. Variety is an important principle of healthy eating. Combining different food groups and encouraging variety within each group is one way of ensuring that your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
For instance,having multigrain flour chapati with vegetables,dal and yogurt is far superior nutritionally than just doing a wheat chapati with vegetables within the same calories.
While,such diets may help you lose weight because of reduction in your daily intake due to elimination of numerous foods and food groups,but they are based on non-scientific principles. Foods,more often than not,are a combination of nutrients including carbohydrates,proteins and fats in various proportions. For example,cereals,pulses,dairy products and nuts are a combination of carbohydrates,proteins and fats. Therefore,there is no reason to believe that they cannot be digested in the body successfully. Elimination of one nutrient such as carbohydrates,sugars or fat,also is deleterious to health.
Besides causing confusion,such regimes neither encourage healthy eating nor establish safe and permanent weight loss. They are not easy to follow long-term,do not fit in with lifestyles and disrupt eating with family and friends.
What counts is how much,how and when we eat them. We need to discourage the individual nutrient blame-game and focus on enjoying an overall health eating pattern.
Along with healthy eating,regular physical activity is essential. Learning to accommodate indulgence foods smartly without conflicting with overall health by employing principles of healthy eating i.e. portion control and balance,is key to a sustainable approach.