Why am I not losing weight even though I run or swim every day?
Your body adapts to any exercise programme if you keep repeating it for a long time. You must aim to challenge yourself in every session. Try circuit training—mix cardio exercises with weight training on alternate days to increase your metabolic rate. For cardio workouts, try and push your endurance. If you jog at a slow pace for 20 minutes, it does not help much. Instead, run at a quicker pace for 5 minutes, walk briskly for 5 minutes to recover and then run again for 5 minutes. Do this for 15 minutes. Similarly, just easy-paced swimming for 20 minutes will not burn significant calories. Mix as many fast laps as you can. A simple way to test that you are burning calories during an exercise session is that you should not be able to say more than a few words at a time without pausing for breath when you hit your maximum intensity. Try to stay in this zone for 10 minutes in a 20-minute session.
—Jaya Radhwani, senior physiotherapist, A+ Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, New Delhi
Does eating every 2-3 hours keep weight under check?
Eating every 2-3 hours does keep weight under control, but only when you are eating the right foods. Eating calorie-dense foods will not work, but low-calorie foods such as cucumber, carrots and tomatoes are good for constant snacking as they keep you feeling full. Fruits are good as well and we recommend three-four portions of fruit a day as long as the person doesn’t have dietary restrictions caused by, for example, diabetes. If you have dinner at 7pm or 8pm, there are remote chances of you actually feeling hungry after that, but if you do, fruit and skimmed milk are the best options. If you are in the habit of having dessert, eat something prepared with a low-calorie sweetener and skimmed milk as these don’t cause hunger pangs later.
—Veena Shahani, chief dietitian, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai
Are there any safe dietary supplements that can increase libido?
There are, but you need to consult about your diet with an endocrinologist and a physician before taking any. Remember, supplements should not be prescribed by a dietitian and I would recommend taking them only if you really need them and have constant follow-ups with a doctor. A lot of the time, a decreased libido is caused by alcohol issues, whether chronic or just because of casual consumption. The first thing we recommend is to cut out alcohol completely and the problem should take care of itself. Restricting alcohol, refined sugars and saturated fats does the job almost 80% of the time. Dietary restrictions are usually more effective than dietary supplements.
—Vidisha Parekh, chief dietitian, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute, Mumbai
Is training barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes during runs or workouts good?
It’s best if one gets a professional assessment of the feet and legs to decide if running barefeet is advisable. Everyone is used to footwear, so when you are subjecting your feet to a high-impact repetitive action like running, exposure might not be a good idea. However, over a period of specialized training to improve strength and stability, runners can begin to wear minimalist shoes or even go bare, since our body is designed to accommodate the changes being made over time. This should be a slow process—wearing expensive cushioned shoes is not always necessary but for those not used to contact with the ground, minimalist or no shoes could result in impact injuries.
—Preeti Ashok, physiotherapist and marathon runner, Bangalore