These are my top ten things to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Although the following recommendations may be simplistic, if done consistently, they are the answer to weight control.
1. Eat Breakfast: Breakfast will jump-start your metabolism and improve performance. Often people skimp on breakfast and lunch and then are ravenous by dinner. Try to eat your calories more consistently throughout the day to keep your metabolism up and to give you energy for the workday and exercise. Don’t skip any meals, especially breakfast. Those people who don’t eat breakfast are 45% more likely to be overweight than those who do. So your mother was right, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
2. Read Nutrition Labels: When reading nutrition labels, refer to the %DV listed to the side of each nutrient. You should look for 20% or more for Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron and 5% or less for Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Sodium and Cholesterol.
3. Watch Portion Sizes: Refer to nutrition labels and take the Pie Test Challenge: 1/2 of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 should be a whole grain and the remaining 1/4 should be a lean protein.
4. Plan Ahead: Be sure to make healthy food available as you will only be as successful as your environment allows you to be. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This can include packing lunches and snacks rather than relying on drive-thrus or vending machines and making a grocery list for the week after planning meals.
5. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods: Focus on complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Fiber will keep you feeling fuller longer. They have what we call “slow release energy” which means that you will still be feeling satisfied and full hours after you eat as opposed to eating refined carbohydrates that leave you wanting more.
6. Choose Lean Proteins: Choose poultry, fish, beans, tofu and low fat or fat free dairy products. Prepare with low fat cooking methods and remove any visible fat, skin or bones. Most Americans can stand to cut back on their animal products. Stick to 2-3 servings of dairy products and no more than 5 ounces of meat per day while looking to beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, soy products and legumes for additional protein. In fact, try to make at least two dinner meals per week vegetarian meals to help control calories, saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
7. Be Active: The recommendation for exercise is 30-90 minutes per day. More exercise burns more calories resulting in a bigger calorie deficit, (unless made up for in food) which can lead to more weight loss. The most important reason for exercise is that those individuals who have lost weight while exercising and eating well are more likely to keep the weight off than those who just eat better.
8. Eat Out Less: You have little control over how food is prepared when eating out. Cooking at home allows you to limit added fats, use whole grains, increase vegetable intake while using the freshest ingredients. The typical American eats out 4 times per week so what used to be a special occasion is now mainstream. The problem is that most people still treat it like a splurge, even though they do it more often. To compound the problem, people usually underestimate the calories consumed when eating out by at least 20% if not 90%! Make sure to check nutritional information on-line and don’t be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared. Ask for substitutions or omissions such as a baked potato instead of fries or steamed veggies in no butter.
9. Avoid Fad Diets: Rather than dieting focus on lifestyle changes that will allow you to lose the weight AND keep it off. Make changes that you will be able to live with because once you go off a “diet” you will gain the weight back. That weight cycling can wreak havoc on your body composition and increase fat mass in relation to lean body mass. Make realistic goals while maintaining a healthy outlook on food, exercise and life.
10. Dont Drink Your Calories: Soda pop, juices and other high sugar drinks are empty calories and do not satisfy hunger cues. You will be quenching your thirst without the triggers that you are eating and getting full. Alcohol can also be problematic and should be kept to no more than one drink per day. There are 50 calories in every two ounces of alcohol and be aware of mixed drinks that can contain a lot more calories and sugar. Try to keep any carbonated, caffeinated or artificially sweetened beverages to no more than 12 ounces per day.
Adapted from a blog post by: Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD
“Staying Motivated..” Sigh. That’s a tough one. Well, we know that your motivation to work out and stay healthy can’t come from a “please-distract-me-from-what-I-am-doing-strategy”… it should come from that gut feeling, honest level of “I-am-doing-this-because-I-know-I-will-feel-better-after.”
When you don’t feel like working out, that inner voice has to speak and say, “feeling like working out isn’t part of the game – do it anyway”. Then you just do it because you know you will be happy you did after.
This can apply to doing an actual workout – or to sticking to your meal plan – or choosing NOT to eat that extra dessert/serving of healthy food/etc.
Now…with that said, if you need motivation in the actual workout area — I always go to the cardio interval class or something similar for when I am not really feeling the workout thing. These workouts begin easy — so you can warm up gradually – and then they get tough. Usually if you give yourself an extended warm-up you will come around to the workout. OR if you can – take a class at the gym that you really like – like hip/hop, spin, body pump, yoga, TRX, pretty much ANYTHING.
Regardless – your motivation has to be rooted in your belief that living a healthier, more balanced life will result in you being healthier and more balanced. BUT….you have to really want that. If you don’t really want to be healthier and more balanced…..then we have a completely different issue.
Hang in there – being balanced takes work….and if you think about it, being unbalanced takes work too.
You may have heard of most of these before but that doesn’t mean you are actually doing them! Take a good hard look at what you are currently doing and decide where you can CUT some calories. Some of these are easy as long as you are committed!
- Quit drinking your calories. This includes milk, juice, alcohol, sweetened tea and coffee with sugar and cream.
- Eat more often. That’s right, if you are going too long in between meals, you are probably overly hungry and eating too much.
- Switch to leaner proteins. Poultry or fish instead of red meat. Skim or low fat milk and dairy instead of whole. Beans, legumes, nuts and seeds work well too!
- Add in produce. Every time you eat, make sure it includes a fruit or vegetable. This will add volume and bulk without all the calories.
- Go Veg. Try to make 2 lunches and 2 dinners each week vegetarian. Meats can be high in calories, especially for the portion sizes that we currently eat. Case in point, 8 oz of salmon (the size of filet you would buy or order eating out) is 440 calories.
- Use lower calorie condiments. Try mustard, ketchup, canola or olive oil based mayonnaise, vinegar, light oil based dressings, worcestershire sauce, light soy sauce, hot sauce, lemon/lime juice, horseradish, salsa, relish, herbs and spices for added flavor without the calories. And order all condiments on the side when eating out.
- Downsize. Use mini-bagels, pre-portioned yogurts or ice cream bars, order half size entrees or salads at restaurants and look for smaller fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Look for easy ways to cut portions.
- Ditch the sugar. Look for unsweetened or lower sugar fruits, cereals, granola bars, condiments, etc.
- Leave 3 bites on your plate. You don’t have to finish it! And by starting with 3, you will realize that it is possible.
- Go fresh. Eat the whole food instead of the processed version: an apple instead of applesauce, chicken breast instead of the chicken nugget, plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurts.
- Bake lighter. Anytime you are baking, cut sugar by 1/2 and fat by 1/3 and you will still get good results.
- Eat for volume. Start your meal with a broth based soup or a large salad. This will fill you up without adding calories.
- Get adequate sleep. If you aren’t sleeping 7-8 hours at night, your leptin hormone level may be lower resulting in weight gain. You’re also awake more hours which means more hours to eat!
- Stay hydrated. That way you won’t mistake hunger for thirst.
- Eat at home. Meals eaten at home are much lower in calories, fat and sodium and higher in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
- Be picky. If you don’t like it don’t eat it! Make sure it is worth it.
- Be assertive. Don’t be afraid to order food the way you want it. Some examples: order meats grilled “dry” (without butter or oil), steamed veggies without butter, ask for whole grain options, order condiments on the side.
- Be mindful. Quit nibbling on dinner before you eat it. Don’t take bites out of your kids’ food. Take the long walk around the office avoiding the candy dish. When you eat, make it count!
- Eat breakfast! You will eat less overall during the day by starting with a nice breakfast.
Adapted from a blog post written by Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD
So… it’s the holidays if you hadn’t noticed. 🙂 We wanted to share just a little sampling of calorie counts for some traditional holiday foods so you can see which foods are higher and lower in calories while planning your menus.
The Fact: Calories Count
Nutritional Facts for Traditional Holiday Foods
Turkey, 4 oz= 130 calories, 5 g fat
Glazed Baked Ham, 4 oz= 140 calories, 4 g fat
Gravy, 1/4 cup= 50 calories, 2 g fat
Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup= 250 calories, 9 g fat
Sweet potatoes, mashed,1 cup= 258 calories, 1 g fat
Stuffing, 1/2 cup= 180 calories, 9 g fat
Green Bean Casserole, 3/4 cup= 160 calories, 10 g fat
Cranberry sauce, 1/4 cup= 110 calories, 0 g fat
Roll, 1 small= 120 calories, 1 g fat
Egg Nog, 1 cup= 360 calories, 20 g fat
Gingerbread cookie, 1 small= 190 calories, 3 g fat
Sugar cookie, 1 small= 165 calories, 9 g fat
Fudge, 1 oz= 140 calories, 4 g fat
Pecan Pie, 1/8th of 9 pie= 508 calories, 29 g fat
Apple Pie, 1/8th of 9 pie= 400 calories, 20 g fat
Pumpkin pie, 1/8th of 9 pie= 316 calories, 14 g fat
Here is a sample meal for 800 calories. You can adjust if you would like to eat less but this is a reasonable amount for a holiday meal.
4 oz Turkey = 130 calories
1/2 cup Mashed Potatoes = 125 calories
2 tbsp Gravy = 25 calories
1/2 cup Stuffing = 180 calories
1 small Roll = 120 calories
2 tbsp Cranberry Sauce = 60 calories
1/2 slice pumpkin pie = 160 calories
This HCG diet is getting a lot of attention, especially in Utah it seems! I get so many questions about it and found this great article that explains it well.
Basically, individuals take daily injections of HCG, a hormone released from the placenta during pregnancy. It is actually the hormone that pregnancy tests detect in blood or urine. The theory is that it makes fat more available for fuel while decreasing hunger. On this diet, you are also instructed to eat no more than 500 calories and exercise for an hour.
Yes you read that correctly, no more than 500 calories and exercise for an hour. Is it any wonder that you would lose weight? And as for the claims that HCG some how aids in weight loss, they have not been proven, in fact many studies found no difference between administering HCG and a placebo.
This is not a new diet. It was done back in the 50s and 60s, and brought back by Kevin Trudeau, the author of “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About”. He has all sorts of conspiracy theories and has been in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission many times.
Long story short, it is yet another fad. Weight loss will never be as easy as a pill, shot, elixir or potion. It all goes back to eating less and moving more and, hopefully, making healthy lifestyle changes that will last.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD