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Nepali youths wooed by weight loss program

Losing a few kilos or shaping up with no physical exercise is trending in social media. And Nepali youngsters are no exception.

Many weight loss programs are in the market, making promises to help shrink a few sizes without any effort.

Putting Health At The Top (PHAAT) is one of the many weight loss programs which has been followed by a number of people from the Nepali community in Australia.

Nepali youths are not only following this weight loss program but also becoming active promoters and mentors.

Sabita Lama says she is satisfied with the result she got after following the diet plan.

She had gained 20 kilos when she was pregnant and was desperate to lose it post-pregnancy.

Sabita Lama
Sabita Lama's before and after photos

“Before following this weight program, I started going to the gym. I even tried six weeks of boot camp.

Even though that was physically exhausting, I only lost around 4 kilos.”

Ms Lama admits that she had some doubts about this diet control program in the beginning because when she started, there were not many users in the community.

Another PHATT program follower Sarju Raut also admits that she had doubts about the program in the beginning, "initially being a health professional I had few questions basically because you have to eat supplement provided by the certain company."

Sarju Deuja

Sarju says, "Nepali foods contain so many carbs, oil, salt, sugar rice, which is not good for health and controlling it is the main motto of this program."

Sarju has lost 8 kilos after following the diet plan of PHAAT program and says this program gives you the chance to live a healthy lifestyle.

But Prakriti Shrestha, a professional bodybuilder champion, thinks this type of weight loss programs is unsustainable.

 How to be in shape?

National as well as international bodybuilder Prakriti Shrestha had started bodybuilding since 2016. 

Strict diet control and exercise is her lifestyle, and she believes that the supplements and pills for weight loss can only work in two ways.

"So many people are promoting these products claiming that it will help reduce certain kilos of weight in certain days, It might work... it either works by absorbing dietary fat or suppressing the appetite and its not long term." 

Prakriti's husband is also a bodybuilder, and they both are known for their physique.

And the couple had been approached by some Australian brands to promote and endorse products like chewing gum with the same claim 'weight loss'.

Prakriti Shrestha is a champion Nepali bodybuilder living in Sydney Australia

She also said they had been approached by a weight loss programs to sell products and expand the network from which they would get a commission.

But she refused.

According to her, she felt responsible and refused both offers as she doubted it would have an impact on the user's health.

"We eat portioned diet, and a day or two days before the competition, we go for zero carbs (carbohydrate) diet. But I can't think anyone can do day to day activities without carbs."

People come to her asking for advice before joining the weight loss program, where she suggests to them to not to fall for a temporary result.

Prakriti calls these claims as gimmicks and suggests to stay out of it.

 Health perspective:

Juhi Bhambhaney, an accredited practising dietitian, finds weight loss programs with no carb diet unsustainable. 

According to her the body gets accustomed to the diet for a certain time but in a long run the body needs carbohydrate as it is the source of glucose which is the body's preferred fuel.   

“It’s hard to retain that weight loss not because you lack self- control but because your body has a tendency to move towards its original weight.” 

When asked about the use of medicines and meal replacements in weight loss diet Juhi says it is also not sustainable.  

“It’s not advisable for young people to be using it because their bodies are still growing.” 

According to her supplements and medicines (weight loss pills in particular) can have side effects like nausea, vomiting. 

And it’s most adverse effect can be gallbladder diseases, says Juhi Harish Bhambhaney.   

Juhi Harish Bhambhaney
Juhi Bhambhaney

She says carbohydrate is the primary source of energy to conduct daily life. And cutting it entirely from regular meals can harm health. 

“When you cut out carbohydrate, you are going to feel tired; you are going to feel fatigued. A lot of fibre comes from carbohydrate so you might get issues like constipation.” 

According to Juhi, every food group is extremely important for a balanced diet, including fat and carbohydrate. 

She says one doesn’t have to follow a new diet to lose weight; instead, she recommends ways to improve the regular meals. 

Juhi believes Nepali food dal, bhat, tarkari is ‘extremely’ healthy.  

Dal Bhat Thali
Dal Bhat Thali
Abhas Parajuli

Carbohydrate, protein and other required nutrients are present in Nepali popular meal (rice, lentil, vegetables and yoghurt). 

And she says healthy ways to lose weight is not skipping ‘three times a day’ meals (especially breakfast) and having a balanced diet.  

She also emphasises the importance of physical exercise; not necessarily in the gym but just even walking. And young people should choose sports for a healthy physique and increase ‘feel-good hormones’. 

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