7 Ways to Eat Smart and Lose Weight

26 10 2011

 

By Chrissy Wellington M.S., C.N.S., L.D.N., C.P.T
For Active.com

With fall right around the corner, how can you stay consistent in the months ahead and maintain your beach body?

The weight-loss industry confuses us on a daily basis. Many diets have been created and promoted that drastically differ from one another. These diets have gained popularity even with very little research to support their claims.  Weight loss should be as simple as addition and subtraction. To lose weight, burn more calories, eat your vegetables and pass on the dessert. Yet, the component of weight loss we often forget is not necessarily the “what” we are eating, it’s the “how” we are eating.

The A-Z Diet study compared the Atkins (extremely low carbohydrate), Zone (low-carbohydrate, high protein), Ornish (very low fat), and USDA Guidelines/LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition) (high carbohydrate/moderate-low fat) diets for one year and results show that all dieters lost weight over the course of the yea. Yet Atkins seemed to hedge out the most weight lost. Theories about why this group lost just a little bit more are very clear: when these folks eliminated refined foods and sweetened beverages from their diet, they also eliminated empty calories.

The bottom line when it comes to weight loss is to burn more calories than you take in. You can easily do that by shaving extra calories from food and beverages and increasing caloric burn through physical activity.

How much should I weigh?

A healthy weight is defined as the weight you would attain after a sustained period of time, (12-18 months). During this time you must eat the best that you can eat, and exercise to the best of your ability.

 

Take Care of Your Metabolism

Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast is a daily habit for “successful losers.” Insulin sensitivity is higher after eating breakfast. Insulin is a hormone released in response to eating. Insulin sensitivity refers to how well the body responds to the hormone insulin. When you eat more earlier in the day, your total caloric intake throughout the day actually decreases. Wake up with protein. When consuming lean protein in the morning, don’t forget to add omega-3 rich eggs or egg whites; low-fat, organic dairy; lean and clean breakfast meats; as well as high protein, whole grains like steel cut oatmeal or quinoa.

Count Calories

Calories are the energy in food. Regardless of where they come from, the calories you eat are either converted to physical energy or stored as body fat. If you eat 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. About 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat. For a one pound weight loss, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in or cut 500 calories from your daily diet each day.

Portion Distortion

Choose satisfied over stuffed. The sizes of your portions affect how many calories you’re getting. Double the amount of food equals double the number of calories. Most Americans underestimate how much they’re eating, especially when dining out. Always plate your food. Eating out of the box or bag gives you no sense of what or how you are eating. Serve foods  with measuring cups, or spoons to see how much you are actually eating. The average woman, with moderate daily exercise should be consuming approximately 3 to 4 oz. of lean protein per meal, half to 1 cup of whole grains per meal, and 1 to 2 cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables per meal.

Eat Fiber

Fiber comes from plants, particularly legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods which are high in fiber are usually low in calories. More of these types of foods can be eaten without consuming too many calories. Fiber rich foods can be quite satisfying. They need a longer amount of time to break down. Fiber slows the rate of digestion helping us feel full longer. Aim for 25 to 50 grams of fiber rich foods daily. Be sure to balance the intake of the soluble and insoluble forms (i.e. fruits, vegetables and whole grains.)

 

Snack

 

Although snacks are part of a healthy diet, they can become a source of extra calories. Always keep moderation in mind. The goal for snacking is to limit snacks to 150 to 200 calories.  Always include the three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Always understand the ingredients, avoiding anything artificial or refined.

Small meals consumed approximately every three hours can contribute to stable blood sugars throughout the day. Choose treats that are high in fiber (5 grams or more per serving) such as, bean dips, fruits and vegetables with peanut butter or hummus, and low-fat dairy. Choose whole grains that have a low glycemic index and include a small amount of protein with them to keep your cravings in check.

Sleep Enough

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of American adults are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.  When afternoon hits, most people are confusing fatigue with hunger. The trip to the vending machine is justified.  These foods do make us feel better, because they quickly raise blood sugar due to the large amount of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation can elevate levels of ghrelin, which is our appetite-stimulating hormone, and lower levels of leptin, our appetite-suppressant hormone. As a result, we take in more calories throughout the day leading to ultimate weight gain.

Exercise

The key to successful weight loss and improved overall health is making physical activity a part of your daily routine. The key to weight control is balancing your intake with expenditure. Exercise along with cutting calories helps to improve your weight loss. A 2011 JAMA article shows that approximately 150 to 200 minutes of exercise each week regardless of duration or intensity may result in weight loss.

Chrissy Wellington is co-author of Navigating the Supermarket: A Nutritious Guide to Shopping Well. To pick up a copy of her book, please visit willpowermatrix.com/public/120.cfm.

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