We know most people might not think it’s possible to lose weight eating Nigerian food but this is false, we have done it and so are hundreds of people using the basic principles of weight loss with Nigerian food, as itemized below:
1. Eat Less Carbohydrate
The typical Nigeria Diet is heavy on Carbohydrate, a sample daily food consumption might include: Yam for breakfast, Eba/garri for lunch and Rice for supper. Most food guides recommend 6-7 servings of grain products (Carbohydrate based) for adult female and 8 servings for adults male.
To put things in perspective, daily carbohydrate requirement for the average adult, based on a 2000Calories diet will be 300g/day. In food Lingo, 300g of carbohydrate will consist of: 2 slices of bread for breakfast (70g), 2 cups of garri (156g) for lunch and 11/2 cups of rice for supper (68g).
The body (through an elaborate process) store excess carbohydrate as FAT and continuous excess carbohydrate consumption result in increase weight gain. when trying to lose weight, it is extremely important to watch carbohydrate intake, consuming below the daily carbohydrate requirement means that your body will be forced to access stored energy (fat) which translates to weight loss.
Sample Heavy Carbohydrate Nigerian foods: Garri, Yam, Pounded Yam, Semovita, Spaghetti, Rice, Cornflakes, Bread, Cocoyam.
2. Consume Less Oil
Oils are high in calories and fat, avoid using Oil when you don’t have to, and if you must, use only a small amount
3. Watch the Salt
When we cook with packaged seasoning mixes, we introduce lots of salt into our diet. The typical seasoning like Maggi, Knorr, and Royco e.t.c contains high amount of salt in them, adding extra table salt to dishes that already contain these seasonings means salt overload.
Salt in itself has little to no calories, but Over-consumption of salt leads to temporary weight gain as it causes the body to retain water. Conversely, low consumption of salt will result in temporary weight loss as it causes the body to expel water. It is important to note that salt has no direct interaction with fat gain or fat loss, however excess water retention will make a person appear bigger than they actually are.
4. Watch What You Drink
We consume loads of excess calories from drinks, as we are more likely to pay more attention to what we eat than what we drink. Drinks are equally as important when it comes to weight loss. Pop (Soda/minerals) should be avoided all together. Some drinks that are perceived as Healthy drinks can also contribute to excess weight gain, a typical 300ml of malt drink for example contains 48g of Carbohydrate, this is the same as 1 cup of white rice. The point isn’t that you shouldn’t consume health drinks (malts and juices), but do not neglect the calories in these drinks when it comes to your daily diet.
5. Choose Meat Wisely
It is extremely difficult for Africans to ignore red meat; it is a staple in most soups and sauces. If you must eat red meat, make sure to trim off as much excess fat as possible. The recommended red meat option for dieter is goat meat; goat meat is comparable to beef in protein but contains 50% less calories and significantly less fat. See the chat below for meat comparison:
6. Oven Bake and Oven Fry (avoid deep frying)
I am sure it’s a no brainier that we should avoid fried foods when trying to lose weight. Fried foods introduce high amounts of oil, calories and fat into our diet which makes it more difficult to lose weight. An alternative to frying is oven roasting and oven frying. With a fraction of the oil required for deep frying, oven frying helps to save a bundle of calories and fat.
7. Avoid High Calorie Snacks (Fan Yogo, gala, lacasera, chin chin, buns, Puff puff, plantain chips)
The typical snack on the Nigeria street contains >225 calories. When trying to lose weight, snacks are a diet sabotage. It’s extremely easy to consume high calories snack and ignore the calorie count. It is okay to indulge every now and again but do not underestimate the effect of small snacks and small chops on your diet. Carry healthy snacks in your purse, so you are not forced to buy unhealthy street snacks. High fibre snacks like granola bar will help you lose weight. I will do a post on homemade health bars that can be stored for weekly use.
8. Eat Spicy Foods
Hot peppers have been shown to raise your metabolism, but the real Benefit of peppery food is that they slow your eating. When you eat too fast, as many of us do, by the time your body signals it’s full, you’ve overeaten. Eating more slowly is a good weight-loss strategy, and making food spicier is an easy way to do it. Also spicy foods requires water; by increasing your water intake you feel full faster.
9. Eat More Fiber
Fibre helps you feel full sooner and stay full longer which means less snacking and binge eating. Foods that are high in fiber includes Beans and legumes.
10. Walk Walk Walk and Exercise
This last point isn’t about food, but weight loss cannot be achieved with food alone. To lose weight, you must expense more energy than you consume and an easy way to expense energy is to exercise. Exercising doesn’t always require gym memberships; try home workout DVDs, walk for 30mins a day, go to the playground with your kids (or nieces and nephews) , join a sport league like soccer or volleyball, take the stairs. Any activity that elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time counts as a workout (all you married folks can get creative). It doesn’t really matter what exercise program you chose, you just have to be consistent.
Good Luck with your weight loss goals!!