Don't skip dinner to shed kilos as you need carbs even to cut calories, experts tell us
Should you have a glass of milk or just fruits for dinner? No, say experts. That may be too little. Eat breakfast like a king (or queen), but don't starve for dinner either.
Keep the meal light, but make sure you get your nightly fix of carbohydrates, vitamins and fibre. This will aid digestion and keep your weight down. Recent research, too, shows that carbs at bedtime may just help in losing and maintaining weight. The American Dietetic Association recommends eating both carbs and protein as a snack, giving examples such as crackers and low-fat cheese, yoghurt and fruit or cereal and milk. Carbohydrates are necessary to process and break down fat in the body.
Fitness expert and nutritionist Namita Jain says it's a myth that one must avoid carbs for dinner. She explains, "Carbs should make up 55-60 per cent of your diet, as they are the body's main source of energy. Fruits and vegetables are examples of carbohydrate-rich foods that have great nutritional value, as they are loaded with fibre, plus essential vitamins."
She adds, "Incorporate healthy or good carbs by including whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. These carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable."
Explains Ritika Samaddar, Max Healthcare, "A healthy diet consists of the right carbs and proteins. Just a soup or salad may not be enough for a meal as it may not give you the minerals and fibre you require. Start with a soup, which fills you up, and then go on to your regular meal." Eliminate processed foods and anything made with white flour and white sugar. These cause your blood sugar to go up and down, leaving you tired and sapped of energy.
And don't skip meals. A study, published a couple of years ago in the American medical journal Metabolism, and conducted by the National Institute on Aging, found that skipping meals during the day and eating one large meal in the evening resulted in a delayed insulin response, which could lead to diabetes.
As the day progresses, our metabolic rate goes down. It's advisable to have a light and early dinner. Give your body time to digest the food before you go to bed. Rahul Rana, executive chef from Galaxy Hotel, Gurgaon, recommends dining between 7.30 pm and 8 pm, as it takes three hours for the food to be digested. "Sleeping after dinner can store all your energy, which then turns into fat," he adds. An ideal dinner, he says, is one of soups, salads and fruits, which is high in proteins, minerals, vitamins, fibre and has less fat.
Nishant Chaubey, executive chef of Cibo, believes that most Indians still opt for a traditional meal of roti/chawal-sabzi-dal. He states, "We need 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram that we weigh."
Two rotis, sabzi, dal and salad is a good meal to end the day with, to get your fix of important nutrients. The trick is to keep the meal light and non-greasy, but make sure it's nutritive. Says Mahima Trivedi, spa manager, Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai, "Fruits are not a substitute for dinner. Have a soup and salad, with a slice of multigrain bread. Avoid clear soups as they are low in nutrients. In salads, avoid heavy dressings."
She adds, "The right carbs, along with fibre, make digestion faster. Avoid potatoes and rice, and go for pulses, green vegetables and fruits. In meats, go for lean meats and opt for grilled over fried. Avoid red meats as they can make you feel heavy. A grilled chicken or chicken breast is a good dinner option." She adds, "One can even have a pizza for dinner if it has veggies but no cheese."
Remember not to skip meals, especially dinner!
The Good Dinner Diet?
- Chapatti, veggies and dal are an ideal meal.
- Soup, salad, wholegrain bread and tofu are a good option.
- You can have a healthy helping of beans such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, fava beans, and lima beans.
- Frozen corn, peas, and other vegetables can be added to a recipe.
- Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it! Try water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice.
- Trans fats are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, fried foods. Also avoid processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Say a big no to desserts!