Q: I am a 35-year-old woman struggling to reduce fat from my tummy and around the hips. Please suggest a diet plan.

There could be several reasons for the stubborn bulge around your tummy and hips, including hypothyroid, excess production of androgens, insulin resistance or even PCOS. But the solution is simple. A lot of recent studies show that 90 per cent of the time, the issue is with what we are eating and how much we are eating rather than the exercise. So there are a few things you can do to monitor your food intake, but you will need to be dedicated to the process for 12 weeks rather than just giving up on it in a few days or weeks.

[Protein options for vegans]

1: Check how much you are eating through the day. You can use a simple app like My Fitness Pal to evaluate this. If you are not working out but eating more than 1,500 calories, chances are you will continue to gain weight.

2. You need to see where the calories are coming from. Even if you are eating 300-400 calories extra but they are coming in from healthy fats and protein, you can experience a drop in weight. But this is individual-specific. Everyone has a unique metabolism.

3. Thirty per cent of your daily calories should come from healthy proteins such as eggs, fish, meat or chicken. If you are vegetarian, then lentils and vegan protein shakes.

4. Do a 15-20 day gut cleanse before you start following all of this, where you eliminate some anti-inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy and sugar. Sometimes, the problem is in your gut and without a proper cleanse, your body will find it hard to lose the extra weight.

5. Stress less and do more. Most often, we stress more about our weight and don’t really take any action to lose the weight. When we are anxious, we lose the ability to think straight and a lot of times move into the victim mode, spending too much time and energy criticising our body rather than appreciating it and thanking it for doing so much for us.

6. Lastly, if you’re dehydrated all day, even the best diet won’t help. Have at least three litres of water daily, so your liver has all the support to metabolise fat efficiently.

Rashi Chowdhary is nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.