- Published on Sunday, 15 July 2012 00:42
- Written by Dr. Ali Mzige
- Hits: 1122
IF you really want to be a Michelin man, eating fatty food is the best way forward, as fat has over twice as many calories as carbohydrates (foods with starch-wanga) and protein.
Fat in your food is quickly converted into pot belly (kiriba tumbo) and other bumps on your body. When dietary protein and carbohydrates tend to get used up for energy and cell rebuilding, fat quickly becomes part of your spare tyre. Official guidelines say that men should get no more than 30 per cent of their daily calories from fat, although more and more experts urge a maximum of 25 per cent.
For a man consuming 2,500 calories, this would be 69 grams of fat per day. As well as eating too much fat, we eat the wrong kind. Butter, hard cheese, chips (French fries) and red meat are but a few of our favourite foods that have high levels of saturated fat (bad cholesterols) the type that increases blood cholesterol and blocks arteries. Good fat comes from vegetables and nut oils such as olive, cotton seed, sunflower, coconut and peanut.
Studies done in the UK, has showed that half of the population are known to have cholesterol levels which are thought to contribute markedly to heart disease. Follow up study of rural migrants from Morogoro coming to Dar es Salaam over a period of five years have begun to show signs of obesity marked with high cholesterols, raised blood pressure and some becoming diabetics or potential diabetics.
We need fat. It helps maintain our cell membranes and blood vessels, keeps our hair and skin healthy, cushions and insulates our bodies, and it is vital for producing hormones. Most of us simply eat too much food, more than we need to sustain all the body’s activities. If you take in more calories than you burn, the excess gets converted into fat and stored in fat cells for future use. Little by little the bulges build up.
Fat is also an important source of fuel. Your most concentrated form of energy, it contains nine calories per gramme-compared to four calories per gramme in both protein and carbohydrates.The high energy concentration makes fat great for storage. When you consume more food than you need for immediate use as energy, body building, or repair, the body converts all the remaining protein and carbohydrate into fat and stores it away (along with fat from the food you eat) for future use.
The fat is stored in billions of cells. These fat cells can shrink way down when they are not needed, but they don’t go away. As they swell up with fat-each one becoming up to a thousand times bigger-so do you. Later on if we take in less food than our bodies need, the energy reserves in the fatty cells are mobilized for action and burned as fuel. In the course of human evolution this brilliant plan has sustained countless lives through periods of famine, but in affluent societies it has just one result: unhealthy weight gain.
We all know that hereditary plays an important role in determining how much weight we carry. But here is the catch. Ask the Genetic scientist, the reply will be “Genes don’t determine what you are going to eat for dinner, or how much you are going to exercise”. That part is up to you.
A genetic predisposition towards overweight is no more than that: it is not a life sentence. The way you live, and the decisions you make, will ultimately determine whether you get fat. If you have that genetic tendency, you will have to work harder-and smarter-to eat foods that are high in fibre and low in fat, foods that fill you up without filling you out. In other words, what is normal for one person may be high –or-low for some one else. That makes a lot of sense, considering that all sorts of other characteristics, such as height, hair colour, body type, and build run in families.
Genetically, you may inherit from your parents a large body frame, a slow metabolism, and a large number of fat cells. If you get this package, you will have to work very hard to maintain a healthy weight. Sedentary lifestyle: How many times have you been reminded of the importance of exercise, and vowed to do more? Yet we will have pretty good odds if we bet that you didn’t do much. Only a very small per cent of Tanzanians exercise regularly and vast numbers of us do not get any exercise at all.
If you keep stuffing your face and don’t burn those calories off, they are going to be staring you in the face from your mirror. If you are a weight watcher, you should gain 500 grams to 800 grams annually, if you weigh 60 kilos now and you are a newly appointed officer, during your retirement your weight should not go beyond 70 kilos, to remain healthy with ideal weight with no fatty bumps and humps.
Did you know? Men who watch television for three hours or more per day are twice as likely to be obese as men who watch for less than an hour.