Fatima Zara Mallick, CEO and head trainer at FZM Boutique Fitness, debunks 3 popular nutrition myths and offers healthier alternatives. Read on for a quick lesson in food science and nutrition.
As a health coach, I have women asking me about tricks and short cuts all the time. I’m shocked at the amout of erroneous information and bogus fitness concepts being sold to naïve and desperate consumers. It is high time we separate fact from fiction!
Detox Drama and Juicing Trends
Your liver and your kidneys are your natural detox organs. The idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things. There is not a single scientific study to date that supports the idea of ‘detoxing’ and ‘body cleansing’ with juices/liquid diets. Besides, 90% of the weight loss on a juice cleanse is water. It comes back within 5 days of resuming a regular diet!
Intermittent fasting is a much better alternative. It is simply a pattern of eating (without changing the foods that you are eating). You don’t eat for 10 to 16 hours at a stretch, giving your digestive system a much needed break. Before you stress, the 10 hours can be scheduled however you want. For example, I have a hearty dinner at 6 pm and then eat breakfast the next day at around 10 am. This gives my body a good 17 hours of rest and recovery before my next meal. Intermittent fasting allows your body to utilise stubborn brown fat (the body uses the glucose in the blood and then taps into fat reserves for energy during the fasting period).
Intermittent fasting has been utilised by athletes for many years. It is simple, effective and scientifically proven to reduce body fat levels. The same cannot be said for fads like ‘detoxing’ and ‘juicing.’
Lemon Water, Herbal Waters and other myths and legends
Unless you also believe in fairies and unicorns, please slash this ‘weight loss trick’ off your list. Think lemon water with honey will give you a J. Lo abs? If only it were that easy!
Pure lemon juice is rich in vitamins but it does nothing to reduce body fat levels. Honey (unless it is organic and procured from your own farm) is just a concentrated source of sugar. Commercial honey hardly has any benefits: it is merely white sugar repackaged as a pseudo ‘health food.’
Instead, just drink two to three glasses of water when you wake up. It can be lukewarm or cold water. According to Harvard university scientists, this simple trick increases the metabolism by 20 per cent. I’ve tried it and found that it provides wonderful bowel stimulation and an immediate feeling of energy. Besides, it is always a good idea to hydrate after eight to ten hours of sleep. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink water as soon as you are up!
Herbal water is another crazy idea. If only weight loss was that simple. Most of the centres that promote ‘herbal water’ also give clients a very strict and nutritionally unbalanced meal plan of no more than 500 to 800 calories a day! The herbal water is merely a crash diet disguised as a supposedly ‘healthy’ and ‘miracle’ regime.
The diet ends and the weight creeps back!
Much like detoxes, herbal water is yet another marketing gimmick that makes customers dependent on a particular product. They lose weight, they stop, they gain it back and they come to buy more! Genius from a business point of view but terrible for the health and self-esteem of clients!
How ‘super’ are super foods?
A recent trend amongst health circles has been to promote strange super foods from exotic corners of the world…the more difficult to pronounce, the more ‘marketable.’
While the benefits of chia seeds, avocados, aloe Vera juice, maca, quinoa, organic cocoa, amaranth (blah, blah blah) are undeniable, I rather not be sucked into the marketing gimmick! My main problem with super foods is that they promote the notion that eating right is expensive and only for the mega-rich. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a huge fan of the numerous unsung super foods that we eat on a daily basis. Cabbage, spinach, aubergines, turmeric, fresh red chilli and lentils are just some examples of locally available fresh products that are cheap, wonderfully nutrient rich and amazing for weight loss.
‘Think global, eat local’ is the key phrase here. Avocados and kiwis are great but they lose most of their nutritional value when they are shipped across the globe. Instead, eat seasonal fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and easily available. Both your body and your pocket will thank you!
About the author
Fatima Zara Mallick is CEO and head trainer at FZM Boutique Fitness. She has studied fitness in Italy, Singapore, Thailand and UAE. She is a Level 1 Crossfit Coach, a Zumba instructor and Pakistan’s first and only Piloxing (Pilates and Kickboxing) trainer. Additionally, Fatima specialises in Rehabilitation (injury) training as well as pre and post-natal training. She has completed courses in Kettle bell and Battle rope (velocity) training from FTA (Functional Training Institute, Asia) and is a certified Boot Camp Instructor from the International Bootcamp Alliance (Melbourne, Australia).