If you’re like me, ready to follow any game plan to look your best, you must be following atleast a hundred social media pages on healthy food recipes, fitness and dieting tips, health experts and who not. One day, during my religious Facebook scrolling, I came across Dr. Luke Coutinho. One post caught my eye. It was about debunking a diet myth most of us have come to believe, thanks to Google, our friend – The post was about how eating three times a day is sufficient for our body and is enough to have an active metabolism, which may not be the case if you’re following the popular theory of eating five times or perhaps seven times a day.
Now, when you’ve grown up in a household that talks about food the entire day, you are taken aback. Dr. Coutinho’s theory hits that place where it hurts the most: my sceptic brain. You see, after all this while, after reading numerous books, watching channels, listening to nutritionists and dietitians talk about food, following them on my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and what not, suddenly my self-trained-nutritionist side has many questions to ask.
So, I decide to mail Dr. Coutinho and ask him, “Why is it that everyone around me is on a five-meal plan then? Where will I get my protein from if I don’t eat it as my snack? How will I look fabulous for a cousin’s wedding by eating three calorie-dense meals?” And honestly, I am more concerned than curious. Dr. Coutinho has spoken about debunking myths, but for me, he has wasted my three-year long efforts’ based conjecture and shocked a head full of information based on reading, listening and watching.
In my little research, I find out that I know Dr. Coutinho even before I saw his post on social media. He has written ‘The Great Indian Diet’ with celebrity and fitness enthusiast Shilpa Shetty and he is the mastermind behind the fitband I wear, Goqii.
So, following are the questions I emailed to him and the answers I got, even though the school of ‘health’ thought that I follow does not agree with this completely. Here’s what his theory explains:
1. What is the ideal time to consume fruits and nuts, if not in between meals?
Fruits are best consumed on an empty stomach. Nuts and seeds, on the other hand, can be consumed between meals, specially when the gaps between main meals are long, for example the gap between lunch and dinner may be over 5-6 hours. Fruits and soaked nuts can also be consumed.
2. You often talk about the importance of bio-feedback. What does it exactly mean?
Bio- feedback is the feedback your body is constantly giving you when something is going wrong, for example, fatigue may be an indirect feedback related to the quality of your sleep, or could mean improper nutrition. Similarly, a white coated tongue could mean a toxic or unclean tummy; headaches and migraines could be related to constipation and so on.
3. You have spoken about calorie-dense foods. Could you please specify what comes under this category?
Pumpkin seeds, raw coconut oil, Moringa, all soaked nuts and seeds, green leafy veggies, dry fruits, etc. are examples of calorie dense foods.
4. You have spoken about how eating every two hours can harm our bodies. What about completing daily calorie requirement? For example, if a person is 90 kgs, how will they complete their calorie requirement with just three meals, if we go by the principle of 30 calories/kg?
We don’t count calories. One must eat according to one’s body size, goal, environment, work and health. Counting calories puts a blinder on the person and does not teach a person to listen to the body and mind. When physically hungry, eat, when not, don’t eat. We can achieve this when we listen to our body attentively.
5. You post talks about how consumption of nuts every 2-3 hours can harm us as our body won’t digest its proteins. Considering that a typical vegetarian Indian diet is low in protein, as the only sources of protein are milk, cottage cheese and pulses, how will they fulfill their protein requirement with just three meals? If the minimum requirement of protein is 1 gm/kg, how will they complete this protein deficiency?
There is no such thing as 1 gm/kg. That’s very generic. More than protein, what is important for the body is amino acids, and how the body breaks down protein into amino acids. This is not about just three meals, if the gaps are longer between meals, which is normal in the Indian culture, one must have a snack every 3.5 to 4 hours. A Jain can get sufficient protein from a vegetarian diet without the need of supplements, it’s about quality protein and not just quantity.
6.You have mentioned about going back to our evolution and how they ate. Do you think that with the present day stress scenario, this is possible? If yes, then how?Everything is possible if people start looking within themselves more and less outside. Humans today are filled with fear, insecurity, anger, guilt and what not and we keep finding ways to numb all these feelings with junk food, cigarettes, socialising, TV etc. People are scared to look within themselves and work for their limitations and fears. So, stress only increases. One of the seven deadly sins, greed, is consuming so many people in terms of success, ambition, materialistic things, among others. There is a large void in people today and that can only be filled by the person in the long run, never with anything else. Therefore, many people eat to feed their emotions. Going back to simple ways is the key.