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No shortcuts to caring




We are frequently told to love others as we love ourselves. The question is, how can we even care for others if we don’t care enough for our well-being as much as we care for our loved ones? Or when we neglect our health and treat our bodies like machines, subjecting it to an unhealthy amount of work, stress and neglecting to give it enough nutrients or much-needed rest?

Sometimes, we care more for our cars, houses and other material possessions than we do our bodies. We only begin seriously caring for our health when our bodies start manifesting distress in the form of disease or sickness.

Cliche as this may seem, loving ourselves, our bodies in particular by taking care of our health, just may be the greatest manifestation of love there is.

It’s common knowledge that the right diet, exercise and enough rest are the basic how to’s to a life of good health.

No to keto

It’s common knowledge that the right diet, exercise and enough rest are the basic how to’s to a life of good health. Yet, we still choose to ignore this basic rule and come up with all kinds of ridiculous shortcuts and quick fixes. For example, the existence of fad diets, like the keto diet, may at first produce desired results, but are unsustainable and damaging in the long run.

“As a registered Nutritionist Dietitian, it is my job to promote proper nutrition and evaluate diet plans with regards to their long-term risk factors. Many people lost weight in keto diet, but it doesn’t mean it is done healthfully,” says Fia Batua, a nutritionist dietitian-sports and elite fitness trainer. She is also the nutritionist of two diet delivery companies in the Philippines and leads a community of nutritionist dietitians and coaches to sports nutrition.

“Keto diet wasn’t designed for weight loss alone,” she emphasizes. “(It was) originally made for medical use, and losing weight is one of the side effects. In long-term use, keto diet can put someone’s health at risk due to nutrient deficiency, that’s why most keto dieters take supplements. I find it unnatural and too drastic. The body is forced to lose body fat in a short period of time by depriving the total carbohydrate intake.”

“Much so-called research about keto diet and weight loss doesn’t fully show long-term effects on overall health and weight management. There’s no good research study yet to support its claims. And when I say research study, we should be looking at a 10-year or more proven and tested. Most long-term studies available are all about keto diet and its relation to epilepsy. In fact, from these studies, most side effects will be hair loss, constipation, high cholesterol levels, vitamin deficiency, weight loss and lethargy.”

Fia Batua, nutritionist dietitian-sports and elite fitness trainer.

Adhering to the standards of the National Nutrition Council, Batua says she recommends diet plans that are more sustainable, balanced and also can give safe weight loss without the bad side effects. She points out a proper weight loss program should be done with calorie deficit approach.

“When, in fact, if we focus and listen to the Nutrition authorities, we have one of the best diet patterns. Have you searched about Pinggang Pinoy? (It is) balanced, high in fiber, low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol,” she explains.

According to the Department of Health, Pinggang Pinoy is a food guide that uses a plate model to show the right food group proportions every meal. It is used alongside the FNRI (Food and Nutrition Research Institute) Daily Nutritional Guide (DNG) Pyramid guide, which “builds from the base, showing that we should eat more foods from the bottom part of the pyramid like vegetables, whole grains and less from the top such as red meat, sugar, fats and oils.”

Sustainable mix

A diet can even lead to better and more sustainable results when combined with exercise. Batua recommends a workout with cardio-strength exercises.

“For a regular person, a 15- to 30-minute cardio exercise, plus 45 to 60 minutes strength workout is enough for three to four times a week. Especially if you are already doing a calorie deficit meal plan for weight loss, there’s no need to overdo the exercise part. Plan your week,” she advises.

And one does not even need to go to the gym to do this. Batua says the common excuses people make are that they’re busy at work and the time management problem.

“I tell them to try managing their schedule. They got day-offs, right? If there’s really no time for exercise, at least stay active by walking 10 to 30 minutes a day, taking the stairs at work, and being mindful with their total calorie intake versus their physical activity,” Batua explains.

There’s a belief that one can eat anything as long one burns it off through exercise. “In some cases, yes, especially if you train five to seven times a week, two to three hours per day.
Most athletes consume 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day. But if you’re a regular person, who works eight to 10 hours a day, mostly sitting, with no time for exercise or who exercises three times a week only, eating too much than enough is not advisable.”

Bento and vitamins

As most Filipinos are not really full-time athletic and dieting types, they have to be mindful of food choices at work and, perhaps, go back to the old habit of making “baon” — or bento boxes as it is known nowadays.

“Focus on the portions. For example, if there’s really no way to skip red meat because of what is usually served in their area, just be mindful. One to two pieces matchbox-sized red meat is enough, and limit on the sauces. Always choose meals that are offered by portions and vegetable/veggie-meat combo meals.”

“We should go back to the old school baon to work or school. This way, you get to control your food intake and this also encourages you to appreciate your portions and food choices. Meal preparation is the key,” she reiterates.

As for vitamins, Batua emphasizes on diet and exercise. “Vitamins are just supplements. I would rather encourage someone first on the proper way of eating and staying active. Vitamin supplementation comes second,” Batua concludes.

For more details, follow Batua these social media accounts: MSF Sports Nutritionist Dietitian, Instagram: @missfianutrition, Doctor Diet Manila

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