Sep 10, 2019

Misleading claim on replacing rice with chapati



I came across this ad of Annapurna Atta with the claim "Replace rice with chapati and lose upto 2 kgs in 3 months." I know many South Indians who have switched to wheat and diligently eat chapathis every night, hoping it would help in weight loss and deal with other lifestyle disorders. Some even have chapathis for breakfast too. You step into a South Indian restaurant in Chennai, hoping to relish a proper banana leaf meal. What's the first thing they serve? 2 chapathis / 3 pooris and only after that, they serve rice. I firmly ask, "chapathis vendaam. rice podunga". Not that I don't like chapathis but I don't see the need for it in a typical Tamil lunch menu.

This idea "wheat is better than rice" is a false claim, being propagated by packaged atta brands.

Let's come to this brand. In fine print, they try to justify their claim. 

Many factors affect weight management and individual weight loss results will vary. To be consumed as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Based on analytical studies, Annapurna atta has 3 times more dietary fibre than commonly consumed variety of rice (Sona Masuri and Ponni).
Replacing 1 bowl of rice (300 g of cooked rice / 100g of uncooked rice) with 3 chapatis (made from 75g wheat flour, without oil) in 2 meals per day for a duration of 3 months causes a calorie deficit (179kCal per day) enough to obtain upto 2 kg of weight loss.

 Let's dissect this paragraph

- Wholewheat flour has more fibre than white polished rice, fair enough BUT nobody eats ONLY a bowl of white rice OR ONLY chapathis. The vegetables/dals increase the total fibre of a meal and so that needs to be taken into account.
- The brand recommends replacing 100g of uncooked white rice with 75g of wheat flour. I checked the quantity that we normally consume in a meal. Yes, when I make chapatis, I use around 75g of wholewheat flour per person BUT when I make rice, it is certainly not 100g of rice per person per meal. I use around 60-70g. Please do check how much quantity of white rice do you eat in a meal. The 100g mentioned in this ad seems too steep.
- The whole comparison relies on calorie deficit. Just replacing white rice with wheat isn't enough, one has to maintain an overall calorie deficit of 179kCal per day (for 3 months) to achieve the 2 kg weight loss.

There are plenty of indigenous rice varieties that are high in fibre, various vitamins and minerals. The glycemic index of such rice varieties is lower as compared to white rice. Given the high amounts of fibre and the fact they are unpolished/semi-polished, they give satiety, we don't end up eating more quantity of rice. My suggestion would be to not fall for such "wheat is better than rice" claims OR that wheat helps in weight loss. If that was the case, we wouldn't be seeing such high obesity rates in Punjab.

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