You are what you eat
Debunking weight myths to separate facts from fiction
Here's a grim fact: being obese can take years off your life - by up to 10 years - and in some cases may be as dangerous as smoking, a new study by British researchers at the University of Oxford discovered.
Published in the medical journal Lancet in March 2009, the largest-ever investigation of how obesity affects mortality analysed 57 studies, following 894,576 participants for an average of 10 years to 15 years. The researchers found that death rates were lowest in people who had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 23 to 24 but those who were extremely overweight could lose 10 years of their life, they said.
BMI for BMI, however, Asians are at greater risk of illness and death compared to Caucasians. This is because an Asian has 4 per cent to 5 per cent more body fat than a Caucasian of the same size. A healthy BMI for Asians is 18.5 to 22.9, and obesity in Asians starts at a BMI of 27.5 and not 30.
What you eat impacts your weight
One of the major factors that contributes to obesity is a psychosocio-economic one - what and how we eat (this is besides physical activity or lack of it). Many of us know we become what we eat. But often, we have very little clue what is the "right stuff" to eat while managing our weight.
Here are some common weight myths that often trip people.
Convenient, cheap food is nutritious
Innocuous looking quick-bites and hawker foods may harm you in more ways than you think. The amount of fat, carbohydrate and in some cases protein found in these foods are usually of "poor quality calories" and/or excessive. If consumed long-term, they'll create havoc for your health.
Take fat for example. It has good use - it's a form of energy and serves to absorb nutrients, keeps your skin and nails healthy, your digestive system going, etc. However, if it's taken excessively, it'll turn into fat stores. Worse, if "unhealthy fat" is taken, such as saturated and trans fat, it'll clog arteries that may lead to stroke or heart failure.
As for carbohydrate, its chief use is for energy and is the main fuel for your brain. But like fat, if it's taken in excess, it gets converted into fat and gets stored in the fatty tissue. As a result, it'll increase the risk of life-threatening diseases like diabetes.
The recommended daily calories intake is 1200 to 1500 for women, 1500 to 1800 for men; daily recommended for fat intake is 30g. So watch out the quick bites or hawker foods you're hooked on - they may add up very quickly to bust your daily calorie limit while dumping "awful stuff" into your body. Let's take a look:
|Instant Noodle $0.50
||Beef Curry Puff $1.00
||Char Kway Teow
||Portion: 320 g
||Portion: 385 grams
|Energy: 440 calories
||Energy: 237 calories
||Energy: 666 calories
||Energy: 742 calories
||Protein: 30 g
||Protein: 22.7 g
||Carb: 55 g
||Carb: 76 g
|Total Fat: Total 16g
||Total Fat: 14.8g
||Fat: 44 g
||Fat: 39 g
|Saturated Fat: 3g
||Saturated Fat: 1g
|Sodium: 1170 mg
||Sodium: 400 mg
||Sodium: 1334 mg
||Sodium: 1463 mg
|Fat 33%, Carb 56%, Protein 11%
||Fat: 53%, Carb 37%, Protein 10%
||Fat: 34%, Carb 43%, Protein 13%
||Fat: 28%, Carb 55%, Protein 17%
Juices are good, healthy options
A glass of orange juice sounds healthy, but it's not. It contains 180 calories, 7 teaspoons of sugar, and has no fibre! It's no surprise that an in-depth American study following the long-term health of 70,000 female nurses, over an 18-year period, has shown that just one glass of orange juice a day could significantly increase a person's risk of diabetes - by up to 18 per cent - besides weight gain.
A healthy alternative would be a simple orange. It contains only 50 calories, is rich in Vitamin C, a great source of fibre, with 11 vitamin & minerals and negligible fat (0.21g).
If you crave sweetened drinks, go for those that are refreshingly guilt-free. The Xndo Cola, made from plants and only 3 calories per can, has no harmful chemicals or ingredients. It's free of preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, or phosphoric acid. Xndo natural flavoured drinks such as Zesty Orange and Tango Mango contain essential fibre, antioxidant and health-enhancing properties, e.g. anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging.
So before you take that glass of orange juice, think again. You may unwittingly destroy your health.
Skip meals to lose weight
Some resort to skipping meals to lose weight.
Meal skipping causes your body to go into "starvation mode" in order to compensate for intake of fewer calories. However, this will cause a decrease in your body's metabolic rate - sometimes by as as much as 10 to 15 per cent. Worse, your body will burn muscle while it holds on to the fat.
Your muscle is key to burning calories. It should be protected and developed all the time.
But with meal skipping, you disrupt your basal metabolic rate and decrease your muscle mass. This explains why when you "resume" your eating regimen, you put on weight very easily. This phenomenon is called yo-yo effect.
What's more, skipping meals makes you easily exhausted, and with little calorie intake and poor nutrition, you're likely to snack on high-fat and high-sugar foods to keep you going.
Xndo has introduced an exciting range of meals that are full in size, nutritionally balanced and have controlled calories. With Xndo meals, which are available at the Xndo Centre and all major retail outlets like 7-Eleven, Guardian and Cold Storage, you don't have to go hungry in order to manage your weight.
Exercise alone can help manage my weight for life
This is one of the biggest weight myths ever. Just imagine, if you need to lose weight by burning off 1kg of fat, which is equivalent of 9000 calories, you'd need to walk for about 33 hours. To burn off one Big Mac Meal, which is 1150 calories, you'd need to swim for 3.2 hours; to clear 150 calories in a glass of orange juice would demand a 45 min walk; a glass of wine of about 140 calories would require a 35 min jog.
All said, can you realistically burn off all the calories in these meals and drinks? The answer is a clear no.
What is key is that combined with smart food choices guided by a healthcare practitioner - such as the full-size, calorie-controlled, protein-dominant Xndo meals and near-zero calorie Xndo drinks - embark on simple and mild exercise to promote your muscle development, which in turn will maintain your basal metabolic rate and aid to burn calories.
Effective exercise is about shifting your body's existing energy store from fat mass to protein mass, so that it can be burned off efficaciously. Under the Xndo System for Ideal Weight Management, exercise comprises kinetics such as distance travel, e.g. brisk walk for at least 30 min daily, and statics, e.g. movement of your hands while your body stays stationary.
For more guidance, see an Xndo healthcare practitioner at the Xndo Centre for Proactive Health Care (www.xndo.net).
Tan Chin Kar
The Reborne Group, the company behind the Xndo Centre for Proactive Health Care
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