The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Water vs weight

The last few weeks of extreme temperatures had turned Calcutta into a sauna. The endless streams of sweat trickling down your body may have made you believe that you were losing weight and, that too, with an added bonus of not having to go anywhere near a gym. Add to that reduced appetite during the sweltering months and you thought summer is the best time to lose weight! But is it?

Water loss vs weight loss

Increase in atmospheric temperature will lead to increase in body temperature. In order to prevent an excessive rise in body temperature, the body must lose this additional heat. This is done through several mechanisms, of which evaporation of sweat on the surface of the skin is most important. Loss of water in the form of perspiration cools the body and helps in maintaining normal body temperature. If you perspire excessively, you are certainly losing water from the body and would drop a kilo or two on the scale. However, true weight loss is fat loss and not water loss. You must understand that excessive perspiration does not lead to permanent weight loss. Sweating should not be encouraged to lose weight because it can lead to dehydration that can become a medical emergency in extreme heat. Plus, it also makes you lose essential minerals and salts, which makes you feel weak and tired. Moreover, profuse sweating makes you thirsty. Once you drink water, the dehydrated tissues retains it and the original weight springs back.

Muscle vs fat

Summer months are also months of disease. Food poisoning is rampant because extreme heat is an ideal environment for both food and water-borne pathogens to prosper and thrive. If vomiting and diarrhoea have led to reduced weight, well, that’s not the ideal way to shed your bulk. Furthermore, when one contracts a disease, the body goes into a catabolic state and loses more muscle than fat. Once you achieve normal health, original weight returns.

Calorie count

The heat does kill one’s appetite. Conversely, if normal meals are replaced by sugar-loaded aam pannas, full-fat creamy lassis, aamras made from full fat buffalo milk and dollops of ice creams and sundaes, the total calorie intake is not compromised. Hence reduced appetite has not led to reduced calorie intake. If you are primarily on a liquid diet, gastric emptying is faster and you feel hungry relatively more often and hence consume far more calories than what you would have normally.

Also, the availability of delicious mangoes and juicy litchis adds to the calorie count. These two fruits have relatively higher calories compared to other tropical fruits. Those who give in to the fruity temptation and binge are certainly going to gain weight in summer.

Lazy lamhe

Some stop their morning walks because of the strong blazing sun. Some feel that since they are sweating without exercise, they can do without the gym. The rest just get into an inactive mode because of extreme tiredness and fatigue. Reduced activity and low energy output lead to less burning of calories that causes weight gain.

The only activity in hot summer months for some is to roam the cool environs of a mall. While loitering aimlessly in the malls, one invariably heads toward the food court. Tempted by the sights and smells, one gives in to cravings. Result? We consume more calories than a normal meal at home.

So, if you want to make the rest of the summer work for you, choose your foods judiciously and cut down calories.

Steamed Patrani Machhi

Serves: 4

Ingredients for first marination

Boneless bekti or pomfret: 4 pieces (150 g each)
Red chilli powder (optional): 1 tsp
Kasundi: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste

Ingredients for second marination

Coriander: 200g
Mint leaves: 75g
Coconut (freshly grated): 75g (optional)
Garlic: 4-5 cloves
Black pepper powder (freshly crushed): One-fourth tsp
Banana leaves: 4. Cut them into squares, big enough to wrap the fish pieces.


Wash and clean the fish.

Pat the pieces dry.

Marinate the fish with the ingredients of the first marination.

Leave aside for half an hour.

Make a paste of all the ingredients for the second marination and marinate the fish for half an hour.

Steam the banana leaves a little so that they become soft and do not break when you are wrapping the fish.

Put the marinated fish in the centre of the leaf and fold it from all sides.

Keep aside for one or two hours.

Meanwhile, prepare a steamer if you have one. Otherwise you can use the idli steamer in your pressure cooker.

Put the pieces of fish in the hot steamer and steam for 10-12 minutes.
Serve hot.

If the fish is a little raw inside, you can microwave it for few seconds.

Recipe Courtesy: Chef Sharad Dewan, executive chef, The Park.

Shoot your diet queries to
Hena Nafis is available at her clinic Nutrience at 2B Colonel Biswas Road.
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