Tamil Diet Plan For Weight Loss
Table Of Content
Tamilians who developed the regional cuisine of Tamil Nadu believe that serving food is like a service to humanity.
The region has a very rich food heritage and is characterised by the use of rice, lentils, whole grains, and legumes for staples and a mixed blend of spices, curry leaves, tamarind, chili peppers, coconut, etc for aroma and flavor.
Over the years the four divisions of Tamilakam - ancient Tamil Nadu which comprises:
- The Chettinad region in the north,
- Southern districts - Madurai, Tirunelveli, etc,
- Nanjilnadu region in the east, and
- The Kongunadu region in the west,
Each have developed their variations of the Tamil cuisine; each distinct in terms of native flavours and ingredients.
- For example, the northern region is famous for traditional vegetarian dishes like uthappam, idiyappam, paal paniyaram, etc.
- The southern regions like Madurai are unique for jigarthanda, paruthipal, etc.
- When we come to the east we get to see dishes prepped using coconut, coconut oil, and other by-products of coconut.
- Finally, the Kongunadu cuisine highlights its abundant natural crops with dishes like Sandhavai, oputtu, ragi pakoda, thengai parpi and so much more.
The flavors are immense and the variety is remarkable, and if you are speculating whether you can enjoy these authentic dishes and still lose weight, it is very much possible. Let us explore how!
Ideal Tamil Sapad.
Food from Tamil Nadu is rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, carbohydrates, protein, and other essential nutrients. It includes a variety of ingredients that are plant-based and can easily be a part of a full weight-loss diet.
Kashayam, or a herbal tea blend is often used to kickstart the day. Herbal teas are a great pre-starter for meals and pose a lot of additional health benefits. They are popular for their immune boosting and anti- inflammatory effects.
Typically Tamil diets include a lot of whole grains like jowar, ragi, millets, rice,, etc. These are often paired with lentil based stew's like sambhar or even lentil based curries like Kottu or Paruppu Usili -A perfect nutrient packed breakfast.
Fresh salad's using local ingredients, the liberal use of fruits for its appetite suppressing effects and cooling drinks such as buttermilk or coconut water also feature quite often in everyday meals.
All in all, the traditional vegetarian dishes of the local cuisine are already healthy. It is the touch of globalisation in certain parts of Tamil Nadu, coupled with excessive use of meat and dairy products, that forms the main cause of obesity in the region.
What elements of the Tamil diet are making you obese?
Before we discuss about dishes that can help you lose weight and stay healthy, it is very important to understand the parts of your current eating habits that are leading to weight gain and obesity.
Weight loss is not about going on an extremely restrictive meal plan or overtraining, but, rather about making lifestyle changes that are sustainable on a long- run. Here are examples of what these lifestyle changes might loss like;
If we look at food alone, here are a few things you might want to keep off your plate for sustained fat- loss.
Instead of thinking about 'restricting' your pallet, think about expanding it by adding new recipes that are whole- some to your weekly menu. Switch out the below ingredients with healthier alternatives and let plant's form the center of your plate and pallet.
Use of meat (chicken/ mutton and pork).
Researchers from the EPIC-PANACEA study which observed people from around 10 European countries have found a positive association between the consumption of meat with weight gain.
Though the study was conducted to study for the positive association between meat consumption and cancer risk, weight gain was one of the parameters studied.
When the same conclusion was contradicted by the National Cattlemmen’s Beef Association saying that the weight gain was due to increased muscle mass, the numbers were then re-run.
Samples of over 90,000 people were taken and their abdominal obesity was measured which is an area where fat is largely stored. It was then concluded that even when the calorie count was kept the same, in the participants who consumed more meat, their belly fat increased further.
Animal protein naturally consists of harmful substances like glycotoxins, trans fat and heme iron that can lead to free radicals which then cause oxidative stress to the body leading to inflammation, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A plant-based diet fulfills all the nutrient requirements of the body including protein and you won’t have to count calories anymore. Clinical trials are testimony to such a claim where the quality of food rather than quantity; was improved with plant-based meals and people still lost weight. These foods have a low-calorie density which means that even if you stuff your face and your stomach signals you that you are full, you will not be overconsuming calories.
Modernisation of cooking techniques:
Modernization of Indian cooking has led to a shift towards a more westernized diet, which is often high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars.
Whole grains have been a staple in our diets for centuries. Starting from the Aztec empire to the Asian, African, and European empires, you will find the consumption of whole grains as a part of diet starting from the dawn of civilization.
To date, you can find whole grains available at your local store. However, when whole grains are processed into flour they lose some of their nutrients. Not only that, they also lead to more weight gain. From using millets to make fermented batters for idly and dosa's, Tamil food today surrounds around white rice idly/ dosa's and maida parota's.
Researchers at Wake Forest University found out that people who refined grains and consumed meat developed plaque in their arteries which would ultimately lead to atherosclerotic diseases over time. Therefore consuming processed grains in the form of bread, flour, white rice, or even refined oils must be avoided not just for a slim body but for a healthier life.
With the rise of modernization in India, there has also been an increase in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, energy drinks, and sugar- sweetened fruit juices. These beverages are high in calories and added sugars, which can contribute to obesity.
Besides this, as more people move away from traditional, home-cooked meals, they are more likely to eat out or order in. These meals are often higher in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars, compared to traditional Indian meals that are cooked at home with fresh ingredients.
Use of jaggery and sweeteners for sweet dishes.
We extremely love the sweetness of jaggery in rava laddus and Sakkara Pongal. In the name of jaggery being healthier than sugar, we give ourselves the permission to eat as much as we want.
Now while jaggery does contain some vitamins and minerals more than table sugar, it really is nothing you cannot get by eating fruits and vegetables.
For instance, while white sugar contains as little as 1 mg of calcium for every tablespoon, jaggery contains 4 mg of calcium for every tablespoon. Our daily calcium requirement is 700- 1000 mg, this clearly shows that jaggery does not have as much as we require.
Jaggery is a form of unrefined sugar made from the date palm, palmyra palm, coconut palm, or sugarcane. It is used as a natural sweetener by a lot of Asian, Latin American, and Southeast Asian countries, however, the benefits of jaggery are far more exaggerated than the reality.
Jaggery has a glycemic index more than that of table sugar. Meaning, when we eat jaggery, our blood sugar will rise as much as with white sugar. An excess rise in blood sugar levels means obesity and other chronic diseases.
Extensive use of ghee in cooking.
Ghee is a staple in every Tamilian household. Be it the savory Milagu Pongal or Masala Dosa, Ghee is used to flavour multiple dishes. However, this golden liquid that claims to have nutritional benefits, might just be bad for you. Watch this to understand more:
Ghee, which is a type of animal fat is very high in saturated fats. Ghee is composed 62% of saturated fats, making it extremely calorically dense. Ghee also contains growth hormones and sex hormones that are harmful for the body. This means that even a teaspoon of ghee per day can lead to obesity, inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
To gain any adequate amount of nutrients from ghee you will have to consume huge quantities of it. This can simply be avoided by switching to healthier plant-based foods.
Things to REMOVE from a Tamil diet to help with weight loss:
Before we discuss what you should be eating to help with weight loss, lets look at foods that are making you obese and are a cause for diseases.
Research shows that people who consume diets that are rich in meats particularly red and processed meat are at a higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Trans fat and heme iron that are present naturally in meat can lead to free radicals which then cause oxidative stress to the body leading to inflammation and type 2 diabetes. Needless to say, obesity is also a side effect of consuming excess meat.
Meat can easily be substituted with plant-based sources of protein such as chickpeas, beans, quinoa, etc. These foods are not only high in important nutrients but also bump up your fiber intake.
An analysis of 12 high-quality studies where people followed plant-based diets for an average of 18 weeks showed significant changes in their weight as compared to non-vegetarian diets.
Milk and particularly other dairy products like cheese, cream, butter etc. naturally contain a lot of calories. By removing dairy from your diet you are automatically dialling down your calorie intake.
Milk is a top food allergen and it can trigger auto-immune responses in a lot of people. Due to its inflammatory properties, it is advisable to cut down dairy from the diet if you want to lose weight and stay healthy.
Dairy can also cause excessive bloating, hence if you are looking to reduce some of that ‘visible weight’, try replacing dairy with products like soy milk, oats, nut butter, etc.
Sugar/ Artificial Sweeteners
A diet rich in sugar and other artificial sweeteners tends to be rich in calories without having any essential nutrients like fibers or proteins. Due to this, sugary foods and beverages are linked to weight gain. It has been estimated by the National Institute of Health that adults in the US get 15% of their calories from sugar alone.
Adding sugar to the diet is also associated with increased visceral fat in the organs; making you susceptible to chronic diseases. Apart from weight gain, the consumption of processed sugar can contribute to harmful health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, cholesterol, etc.
5 Lifestyle changes to help with weight loss:
One of the reasons my clients lose weight and sustain the weight loss is due tot he fact that we make lifestyle changes and not follow particular 'diet plans'.
Diet plans have an expiry date, but lifestyle changes are taking steps in the direction that help you sustain your results forever.
Here is a video I made about lifestyle changes VS diet plan's for weight loss that you might find interesting:
There a a few changes I recommend everyone make. Before we discuss a meal plan, here is the list of essential lifestyle changes:
1) Eat as per your circadian cycle:
Our bodies are fine-tuned to the patterns of the sun rising and setting, in fact almost every tissue and organ in our body has its own biological clock.
This regulating system is responsible for a lot of factors in the body such as digestion, metabolism etc.
A study published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows us the association between the timing of calorie intake and its effectiveness in weight loss. The study suggests that middle-aged men and women who ate a larger portion of their daily calories during the day rather than eating their main meals at night gained lesser weight over time.
So you could be eating the exact same calories of food as someone else, but the time you have those calories determines how fast you will lose weight.
Some direct explanations for these conclusions could be that:
- People who tend to eat later in the day also eat more.
- It could also be the sedentary lifestyle of individuals later int he day or,
- the late-night cravings which make people want to consume calorie-dense foods such as ice creams and chips during the evening.
In short, keep your dinner the lightest meal of the day and make sure to stop consuming foods post 7 pm.
2) Include 50- 100 grams of leafy greens daily:
Leafy greens such as Amaranth and Dill Leaves contain a compound called thylakoids. These compounds delay the absorption of fatty acids in the body. Because thylakoids delay the absorption of calories, the undigested calories reach the small intestine which then sends strong satiety signals to the brain that you are full. Thus, thylakoids work on reducing your appetite.
In Sweden, a study was tested on women who were given blueberry juice mixed with and without powdered spinach every day. Within 12 weeks, the group who consumed the juice mixed with the green leafy powder lost 11 pounds, had lower LDL levels and decreased urge for calorie-dense foods.
We can say that the high water and fiber content in leafy greens attributes to their hunger-suppressing nature, but thylakoids could be the proper explanation for why you should include almost 50-100 gm of leafy greens every day in your diet.
3) Include plant- diversity, and reduce the diversity of hyper-palatable foods:
It is ingrained in our biological drive to eat a diverse range of food to meet the body’s nutritional requirements. When we eat the same foods over and over again, we end up developing nutritional deficiencies, probably the reason why fad or mono diets are not a sustainable way to lose weight.
But in the name of diet, we often cut down on healthy plants such as whole- grains and legumes. Instead, try and include healthy whole- foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains.
“Choose and prepare a greater variety of plant-based foods,” - concluded strategy for combating obesity and controlling chronic diseases by Harvard and NYU dieticians
4) Include 30 minutes of walking per day:
A healthy diet combined with regular physical exercise is the only way to sustainably lose weight.
Including activities such as walking for at least 30 minutes in your daily routines can help you burn more than 150 calories per day.
A study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and biochemistry affirms the same when they saw results in obese females who walked 50-70 minutes 3 days per week for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, the women who walked lost more body fat and overall weight.
Apart from consistency, pace also makes a big difference in how many calories you burn. For example - jogging will help burn more calories than walking. However, it does not mean everyone has to maintain the same level of intensity in physical activities, adding a brisk walk will also help you burn off those extra calories.
5) Start your day with a raw meal like fruits or smoothies.
Fibre is a five-letter word that can show miraculous in your weight loss journey. As per the Journal of Nutrition, fiber can help an individual lose weight when assessed individually keeping aside other dietary factors.
Apart from helping you lose weight fiber can slow down digestion and help you manage your insulin and blood sugar levels. It reduces LDL levels in the body, improves bowel movements, and prevents a variety of chronic diseases related to the digestive system.
On average, an adult woman should consume 25g of fiber every day and the best way to do so is through cooked and raw plant-based foods.
Including raw fruits and vegetables in your diet especially in the morning can help you curb hunger throughout the day and improve digestion. You can consume fruits and berries in the form of smoothies which are not only easy and quick to make but are easily broken down and absorbed in your body, ultimately helping you shed extra inches.
Tamil Meal Plan for Weight Loss.
While I firmly believe that lifestyle changes is what leads to ultimate health and lifestyle changes need to be customised from person- to - person, nutritional changes can help too.
However, use the below meal plan only as a guidelines with regard to the type of foods you can include. A meal plan is very personal, and must consider factors like financial availability, economic availability of food, likes and dislikes, preferences etc. Contact my team or me personally for a customised meal plan, keeping the above and many other points in mind.
Please note, I have not included breakfast recipes here. As discussed before, making one meal raw is essential for overall health. Aim to start your day with only fruits or even a green smoothie.
Here is a generic Tamil weight loss plan:
Please use minimum oil's while cooking and keep the recipes loaded in vegetables. Start your meals with a salad, soup or fruits as they act as appetite suppressors and help you feel fuller, faster.
It is very important to tailor your diet plan for weight loss based on what you like to eat and the type of food and ingredients available at your disposal.
Crash and Fad diets often lead to unsustainable weight loss solutions that are not only hard to maintain but will eventually lead you to gain back all the lost weight.
Hence, fill up the lead form below if you want a customised meal plan for yourself, catered to your body and goals.
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