In the initial part of Dr. Dhurandhar’s book, the reader is provided a chilling perspective on the mushrooming of “quack nutritionists” and “quack dieticians” who unashamedly exploit the gullibility of a helpless section of people. A lady visits the clinic of Dr. Dhurandhar, hoping to receive a dietary regimen that would aid and assist in her desperate endeavours to shed weight. Whilst placing the cuff of the sphygmomanometer on her hand, Dr. Dhurandhar notices a blue-black bruise. Suspecting some sinister domestic incident, the doctor politely asks his patient about the bruise. Her response leaves him poleaxed – the bruises are part of an ongoing weight reduction therapy called “fat breaking treatment.” This astonishing method involves the practioner hitting his patients with a cricket bat all over the body so as to “break down the excess fat” literally! Dr. Dhurandhar immediately educates his patient about both the futility and dangers about this downright ludicrous treatment.
“Fat Loss Diet” is a practical, implementable and scientific foray into the Science of fat reduction written by a veritable authority on the subject. The son of India’s foremost obesity expert, Dr. Vinod Dhurandhar, Dr. Nikhil is a physician and nutritional biochemist who has been treating obesity from the past three and a half decades. Inducted into the US National Academy of Inventors, he is also the Professor and Chairman of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University. The author begins the book with a very articulate erudition on the interplay between three important hormones/chemicals that trigger appetites and also monitor the balance of fat content in the human body. “A chemical named leptin, travels to the brain via the bloodstream. Too little leptin signals to the brain that there is too little fat in the body whereas too much leptin means too much fat. The lesser your brain receives leptin, the more your brain makes you eat. Whereas, if you have too much fat, the brain notices too much leptin, tries to make you eat less, so you could lose some fat. Ghrelin is a tiny chemical messenger (a hormone) that is made by the gut and generates the feeling of hunger. The hormone tells the brain it is ‘time to eat’. PYY (peptide tyrosine tyrosine), tells your brain when the stomach is full and stops you from eating further. I suppose you are getting the picture. Our free will can still overrule the brain signals and we may eat even when the brain signal says we are full, or refuse to eat, even when the signal is that we are hungry.”
Dr. Dhurandhar places extreme importance on a diet that is strong in proteins. He also clarifies the single significant difference between “weight loss” and “fat loss”. Hence a need to guard against too much muscle loss that will invariably accompany a weight loss programme. Dr. Dhurandhar also warns his potential patients not to embark on a weight loss regimen unless they are mentally ready. A case in point is that of a member hailing from a royal family in India. Hoping to reduce a significant proportion of weight from his existing 110 kgs, he approached Dr. Dhurandhar. But the patient had two conditions. “He drank an entire bottle of scotch and twenty-two bottles of Coca Cola (there was no Diet Coke those days) every day. He did not want to reduce his scotch or Coke, but was prepared to reduce food a bit. Clearly, this was not going to work. A reasonable amount of alcohol could certainly be accommodated in a weight-loss diet. But, not a full bottle of scotch, every single day, let alone those bottles of sugary-sweet water. He was not ready, even though he said he was.” Accompanying a readiness from a mental perspective, care ought to be taken that there is no weight regain after the weight loss regimen period.
Any fat loss programme, according to Dr. Dhurandhar ought to embed three quintessential components:
- Adequacy: A diet plan that is low in calories, yet provides key nutrients needed for health;
- Applicability: While there is no size fits all approach, the diet should be tailored in such a way that it is relatively homogenous in its application to a large number of people; and
- Quality of life: A carefully calibrated diet should not leave one famished. It should not be viewed by the patient as a punishment.
Ten Components of a Healthful Diet for Weight Loss
Dr. Dhurandhar also highlights ten key and critical components that are necessary in any healthy diet targeted for obese and overweight individuals. While it would be doing the book an injustice to reveal the ten components in exhaustive detail, here is encapsulating some of the salient elements in a nutshell:
Stay Hydrated. At least two litres of water must be uncompromisingly consumed during the period one is on a weight-loss diet;
Pay heed to “cell-healthy fats”. Even though oil, ghee, butter and cream might seem a sacrilege for a person striving to shed the extra pounds, these need to be consumed in moderation since fat is an essential of our body, skin, brain, cells and cell cover known as the cell membrane;
Bone-friendly milk: Unless and until the person dieting suffers from a case of lactose intolerance, milk should be an essential ingredient of the diet. Milk possesses good quality protein and calcium. Curds can be an adequate substitute as all the benefits of milk in terms of calcium and protein is bestowed by curd. In addition, curds will have gut-friendly bacteria which are helpful for the intestines and general health;
Fruits: Fruits provide fibre and vitamins. Fruits, when eaten raw, right after cutting them are rich in vitamin content;
Build up a Protein shield: Consuming protein increases fullness and protects one from feeling hungry. Strategically placed protein snacks at mid-morning and late afternoon protect you from excessive hunger and cravings during the day and at night, respectively.
The book also contains invaluable guidance and suggestion on exercise as a supplement to a diet programme and not a substitute. Dr. Dhurandhar reiterates the fact that the best exercise that would yield visible positive results when practiced religiously and in an uncompromising manner is level and slow walking. Contrary to myths that state that a person need to sweat profusely when exercising, Dr. Dhurandhar emphasizes that it is the regularity and commitment that matters more than intensity and rigour.
“Fat Loss Diet” is replete with implementable, rational and logical suggestions that encourage, inspire and induce positivity. No wonder Dr. Dhurandhar is held in such high esteem by one of Bollywood’s biggest and brightest talent’s Aamir Khan. Not only has the actor penned the foreword for this book, but he has also gladly consented a full disclosure of how he appropriated Dr. Dhurandhar’s assistance in undergoing a transformation from a grossly overweight wrestler to a fit and strong athlete in the film “Dangal”. The Chapter detailing the transformation jointly brought about by the doctor and his disciple makes for some fascinating reading.
Leaving the last words to the man himself: “Let me say this loud and clear – food does not ‘cause’ obesity, nor does greediness or laziness. Surprised? There is more. From now on, forget the words ‘weight loss’. It is ‘fat loss’ that you should be thinking about. Obesity needs a specific and strategic treatment plan because just trying to eat healthier and exercising more will not address the obesity concerns of most people. Furthermore, it is not true that to keep from regaining fat you should live like a sanyasi, giving up all the good things in life like tasty food and drinks and survive on only salads.”