In today’s weight-obsessed society, achieving an ideal body weight comes with many positive results and benefits. It reduces the risks for many major health diseases and makes us feel more comfortable. The science of yoga helps us rebalance our body and reignite our metabolism naturally with its specific dietary pattern so that we can shed excess pounds more healthily while optimizing our overall quality of life. If you are a spiritually inclined person and an ardent fan of yoga, you must already know about the sattvic yoga diet and its weight loss benefits. Here, we are going to talk about everything related to it. Stay tuned.
The Importance of Diet in Yoga
Food habits or dietary practices impact an individual’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. It plays a crucial role in channelizing the thought processes and nature of the person, which influences the progress towards the realization of a spiritual path. On the other hand, our dietary choices reflect the three ‘Gunas’ that define the qualities of energy in Prakriti (physical matter) in every living being. These are ‘Sattva’ (purity, health, harmony, and well-being), ‘Rajas’ (stress, anger, activity, and restlessness), and ‘Tamas’ (dullness, laziness, and lethargy), which are present in us in varying proportions. Hence, a yogic way of life emphasizes the consumption of pure foods that purify the mind and become part of pure consciousness. In other words, a diet in yoga is a tool to increase the proportion of ‘sattva’ guna, thereby ensuring a healthy body, mind, and soul or consciousness. (1)
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Different Types of Yoga Diet
According to Hindu scriptures and yoga practice, the diet preferences of an individual can be of three types based on the quality of the foods and their effects on the body (2). We have detailed them below:
- Sattvic Diet: Foods in this diet are obtained from nature in their simplest forms to create a balance between our body and mind. They lead to truthful thoughts and actions while keeping the body healthy, thus providing peace, stability, and happiness.
- Rajasic Diet: This diet contains overly stimulating foods, which produce sorrow in the body by causing restlessness, anger, and desires. Being intense, they excessively circulate the ‘prana’ in the body and cause heaviness, which is not recommended for a yogi.
- Tamasic Diet: Impure, stale, and cold foods come to this category. They give birth to laziness, intolerance, and violence in thoughts, which makes the person monstrous and causes trouble in his/her life. This type of diet is also not suitable for a yogi.
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What is the Sattvic Yoga Diet?
The word ‘sattvic’ came from the Sanskrit word ‘sattva’, which signifies “pure, essence, nature, vital, energy, clean, conscious, strong, courage, true, honest, wise, rudiment of life” (3). The sattvic diet also includes nutrient-dense foods that are “pure, essential, natural, vital, energy-giving, clean, conscious, true, honest, wise” to raise sattva or our consciousness levels (4). It has its roots in the 5,000-year-old Indian Ayurvedic system, which focuses on ‘Mitahara’ or “moderation in eating” while exemplifying ‘Ahimsa’ or “the practice of non-violence”.
Among all three types of diet, only the sattvic diet is considered the true ‘yogic diet’ as it takes an individual to the next level of spirituality by promoting longevity, physical strength, and mental health (5). It is, essentially, a simple, light, and vegetarian diet that is very high in dietary fibers and micronutrients and significantly low in fatty acids. Furthermore, the foods included in it are also fresh, seasonal, and free from all sorts of animal remnants, which are believed to clean the mind and the body completely. Hence, yoga enthusiasts become able to balance their overall energy and attain optimal physical and mental health by following a sattvic diet.
A rajasik diet includes spicy, rich, and heavy meals containing onion, garlic, chocolates, coffee, tea, and items that are sugary, refined, or deep-fried. Conversely, a tamasik diet mostly includes meat, eggs, alcohol, cigarettes, and items that are chemically processed, reheated, etc.
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Foods to Eat in Sattvic Yoga Diet
Knowing about the foods considered sattvic before fully indulging in the sattvic diet is essential. Some of the most common foods that can be consumed liberally include:
- Whole grains, cereals, wholemeal bread, etc.
- Land and sea vegetables (spinach, carrots, celery, potatoes, broccoli, kelp, lettuce, peas, cauliflower)
- Fresh fruits (apples, bananas, papayas, mangos, cherries, melons, peaches, guavas, berries)
- Legumes and beans (soy, chickpeas, lentils, mung beans)
- Seeds (flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
- Nuts (walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts), and dried fruits
- Sprouted beans and grains (barley, amaranth, bulgur, millet, quinoa, wild rice)
- Coconut products, including unsweetened coconut
- Sweeteners (Honey, jaggery, etc.)
- High-quality milk (almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk) and dairy products (butter, yogurt, paneer, tofu, seed, and nut-based cheese).
- Healthy oils and fats (clarified butter or ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, red palm oil, flaxseed oil)
- Spices and herbs (coriander, basil, nutmeg, cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger)
- Fresh fruit juices
- Non-caffeinated herbal teas
- Fresh and clean water
The aforementioned foods should be consumed majorly while following a sattvic dietary pattern. However, you may also choose their looser or stricter variations based on your physical and medical requirements.
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Foods to Avoid in Sattvic Yoga Diet
A sattvic yoga diet should avoid foods that fall in rajasic and tamasic categories. Given below are the items that are not allowed for consumption in it:
- Specific fruits and vegetables (onion, garlic, durian, scallions)
- Animal proteins (meat, poultry, fish, eggs)
- Salty, spicy, sour, and stale foods
- Foods with refined grains (white bread, bagels, cakes, cookies)
- Sugary items (white sugar, sweets, corn syrup, candy, chocolate, soda)
- Deep-fried items (french fries, fried vegetables, etc.)
- Highly processed foods (fast food, chips, microwaved, frozen, canned, genetically modified, etc.)
- Beverages and stimulants (tea, coffee, caffeinated drinks, sugary drinks, alcohol)
Key Features of a Sattvic Yoga Diet
A sattvic diet is a healthy yoga diet, which has its distinct features and needs to be followed the right way. Check the key rules and guidelines of the diet below:
- It is preferably vegetarian (certain fish and non-veg items are included for people with medical conditions)
- Choose fresh, seasonal foods that are clean and easily digestible
- Always go for organic foods (grown and ripened naturally) as they are pure and not chemically treated
- Make sure that you cook and eat your food with love, awareness, and gratitude
- Do not consume foods of the same type and property in excess quantity
- Do not repeat the same diet every day
- The meals must be less spicy and very lightly flavored
- Finish your dinner before 8 p.m.
- Fast at least once or twice every month for proper detoxification (only if you are medically fit)
Benefits of the Sattvic Yoga Diet
Although the sattvic diet is quite restrictive, you may still reap some potential health benefits by adopting it in your daily life:
- A lightweight diet that remains easy on the stomach by getting digested easily
- It contains whole, nutritious foods that promote health by maintaining proper bodily functions (6)
- Detoxifies the body and boosts immunity naturally by providing the body with balanced meals
- Features fiber-rich, calorie-restrictive foods that improve the metabolic system and aid in healthy weight loss
- Reduces the overall risks of developing chronic diseases like hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular disorders (7), diabetes (8), certain types of cancers (9), etc.
- It calms down the mind and helps achieve better clarity through enhanced perception.
- Induces a feeling of happiness and contentment by raising love and compassion within the self
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Sattvic Yoga Diet and Weight Loss
So, how does the sattvic yoga diet help lose excess body weight? We have already talked about the types of food included in this dietary practice. As you can see, it is a high-fiber, low-fat, and nutrient-rich diet that is mainly based on seasonal fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, seeds and nuts, non-caffeinated beverages, and so on. These are time-tested ingredients that eliminate toxins from the body and support the metabolic system while nourishing and naturally balancing the body. Moreover, the sattvic diet is an entirely plant-based diet, which lowers the body mass index (BMI) and reduces the body fat levels significantly (10) (11). As a result, it becomes easier for even overweight individuals to lose extra body weight and keep it in check (12) (13). In addition, a sattvic diet is also very effective in regulating appetite as healthy foods reduce calorie density and increase satiety. This also helps in stimulating the weight loss efforts of individuals.
Ayurveda decides any yogic diet for weight loss as per 3 main doshas – Kapha (water), Vatta (air), and Pitta (fire). Each individual is said to be dominated by one of these doshas. So, it is advisable that you find out which dosha you belong to first and then, plan your diet accordingly.
Sattvic Yoga Diet Plan for Weight Loss
We bring you a simple sattvic yoga diet plan for weight loss with many alternatives. Create your diet chart by shuffling these foods and coming up with the best one to suit your body type:
- Begin your day with a glass of warm water mixed with lime juice and honey.
- Breakfast should comprise a bowl full of fruit salad. You can also include a bowl of cereals instead, along with a glass of fresh milk or sprouted quinoa porridge with almond milk, berries, flax seeds, and unsweetened coconut. Other nice options are grass-fed yogurt with berries, walnuts, cinnamon, or oatmeal with stewed peaches and cashew butter.
- For lunch, choose a big bowl full of salad with a blend of sprouts and vegetables like lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and boiled beetroots. You can also add lentils, paneer, or tofu while mixing some fresh curd or a dash of lemon juice into it. Otherwise, go for quinoa salad with sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, and kale.
- Dinner can be the same as lunch, or you can have tomato soup or wild rice stew and a baked vegetable dish along with some light salad comprising boiled mung beans and tofu. For another option, try mango rice with coconut milk and boiled chickpeas.
- Make sure that you consume various drinks in between the meals. These can be green tea, coconut water, lemon juice, etc., without sugar, or resort to plain water.
To shut the hunger pangs in-between meals, you can have all types of fresh fruits.
Potential Drawbacks of Sattvic Yoga Diet
The biggest drawback of adopting a sattvic diet for weight loss is that it is pretty restrictive, and many healthy foods are off-limits. For example, you cannot have animal proteins while following this diet, thus depriving your body of plenty of healthy fats and micronutrients. The sattvic diet also excludes certain rajasic and tamasic foods like onion, radish, chili peppers, mushrooms, etc., which are not unhealthy (14).
The food habit impacts an individual on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Based on the quality of the foods as well as their effects on the body, our diet preferences can be categorized into Sattvic Diet (pure, organic, vegetarian foods), Rajasic Diet (overly stimulating foods), and Tamasic Diet (Impure, stale, and cold foods). Among these, only the sattvic diet is considered as the true ‘yogic diet’ that includes nutrient-dense and energy-giving foods to raise our sattva or consciousness levels. The simple, light, and vegetarian diet is very high in dietary fibers and micronutrients as well as significantly low in fatty acids. It includes fresh and seasonal items like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, seeds and nuts, non-caffeinated beverages, etc. while excluding all sorts of rajasic and tamasic foods. Though there are plenty of health benefits offered by the sattvic diet, it is highly admired by non-yogis for its weight loss effects. It detoxifies the body, supports metabolism, lowers BMI, reduces the body fat levels, and increases satiety to keep our body weight in check. Create your own diet chart by shuffling the sattvic foods and come up with the best one to suit your body type.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which White Foods Should I Avoid?
Refined and enriched foods that are white should be avoided by everyone struggling to lose extra body weight. These include wheat flour, white flour, corn syrup, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, bagels, pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, crackers, cereals, commercial baked goods, ice cream, potato chips, and pretzels.
Does Yoga Burn Belly Fat?
Yes, the regular practice of yoga helps in detoxifying the body, enhancing the metabolic system, increasing immunity, and losing excess abdominal fat in overweight individuals.
Does Rice Cause Belly Fat?
Based on the types of consumed carbohydrates, you may end up developing belly fat. For example, white rice is a refined and processed carbohydrate, it quickly leads to a bulging abdomen.
Does Potato Increase Belly Fat?
Though potato is a type of carbohydrate, there is no scientific evidence that it increases belly fat automatically.
What is Sattvic Diet Good for?
A sattvic diet is good for increasing physical strength, improving mental clarity, promoting longevity, and enhancing the overall quality of life.
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