From A Dietician: How to Eat If You’re Trying to Lose Weight from From A Dietitian: How to Eat If You’re Trying to Lose Weight

From A Dietitian: How to Eat If You’re Trying to Lose Weight

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From A Dietician: How to Eat If You’re Trying to Lose Weight

Obesity has been a public health problem for decades. More than one-third – 34.9 percent or 78.6 million – of U.S. adults are obese, according to a study by the Journal of American Medicine, and there is no indication of a decline.

The weight loss industry is worth billions of dollars a year. Many people get into a frenzy trying to shed pounds and don’t understand why it’s not working.

The reasons are endless as are the number of ways you can improve your lifestyle so you burn more calories (and faster) than you consume. The following tips are several “rules of thumb” you should keep in mind when choosing what food, how much and when to put in your body.

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Don’t under-eat

“Common mistake I have seen people make is to drop their calories down too low,” Heather Blanchette, registered and certified dietitian-nutritionist at IEM, says. “There is a difference between eating healthy and eating healthy to lean down and lose body fat.” You need enough nutrients, and fat, for the body cells to function properly; otherwise the body will go in “crisis mode” and store the caloriesfor later, resulting in no pounds shed off.

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Pay attention to proportions

Overeating is another mistake Blanchette says she sees all the time. Learn the proper portions, as per the Dietary Guidelines. Then, cut back a little bit at a time until smaller portions become a new habit. Eat from a small salad plate so it looks like you’re having more food and you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.

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Eat protein and complex carbs for breakfast

You should begin your day with a healthy breakfast that includes a lean protein and complex carbohydrate, Blanchette says. “One of my favorite breakfasts to have is mixing egg whites and oatmeal into a pancake.”

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Cut the smoothies every day

“Most smoothies are packed with a lot of sugar (and sometimes fat),” she adds. “So if you are trying to lose body fat, you will get better results sticking to a protein shake instead of a smoothie.” The smoothies popular chains serve can sometimes have artificial sweeteners to make them taste good.

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Try small but frequent meals

“Meal frequency is a key factor that influences the metabolic rate,” Blanchette says. “Eating once every three hours is crucial because it allows your body to utilize and expend calories in an efficient manner.” But listen to your body. “If you are hungry, ask yourself ‘why am I hungry? Is it time for me to eat or did I skip a meal/ snack earlier?’” she adds. If it is time for you to eat, go ahead, but if the 3 hours have not gone by, ask yourself why you are looking for something to eat.

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Pay attention to meal ratios

“I would aim for 20 percent fat, 30-35 percent protein, 45- 50 percent carbohydrate,” Blanchette says. A rule of thumb would be to keep protein about the size of your hand (length and thickness), and the carbohydrates about the size of your fist, Blanchette says. Good sources of protein are eggs, dairy, seafood, chicken, turkey and yogurt; foods with healthy fats include avocado, fish, seeds and nuts; and good carbs come from sweet potatoes, chick peas, oats and brown rice. 

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Avoid certain snacks

“Snack smart – chose healthy snacks that will keep you satisfied and not grazing all day on empty calories,” Blanchette says. For example, one option could be choosing a plain nonfat Greek yogurt and mixing it with 1/2 cup berries. “Some snacks to avoid if trying to decrease your body fat are protein bars [because] they can have a lot of hidden fat and/or sugar, nuts, hummus and pretzels, trail mixes.”  

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Forget about low-carb diets

“You should have a good amount of complex carbohydrates all throughout the day,” Blanchette says.  “Our body converts carbohydrates to glucose for fuel. Without carbs your body will pull glucose from the liver and muscle glycogen stores.” When you're not eating carbs, you begin using your reserve glycogen stores by breaking down muscle. Every gram of glycogen is attached to 3-4 grams of water, she adds. “By ridding your body of glycogen with the associated water, you appear to lose weight but are actually taking from muscle and thus slowing your metabolic rate down.”

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You can have too much of good foods

Avocado, nuts, seeds, hummus, oils, edamame – they are all delicious and healthy but be careful not to eat too much of them, Blanchett says. Even though they are good, they have calories. The more you consume, the more calories you intake. Regardless of where they come from, if you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight.

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Cut back on alcohol

“To lose weight while still drinking alcohol occasionally, consider reducing the frequency that you drink, or cut back on the amount you normally would drink,” Blanchette says. For instance, if you normally have a glass of wine every night with dinner, consider only having a glass on the weekends. Avoid  those empty calories because they add up quickly.

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Don’t eat foods you don’t like

You are only allowed a certain amount of calories a day, so why use them up on foods you don’t find delicious? If the fries are too greasy, don’t finish them, and if the dessert is to sweet, leave it alone. “I allow my clients to eat what they want as long as 80 percent of the time they fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables and include protein and a healthy starch,” Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian at Lainey Younkin Nutrition in Boston, says. “The other 20 percent of the time, they can indulge in what they want, as long as they boost their activity the next day and get right back on track with vegetables at the next meal.”

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The more colors, the better

Look at your plate before sitting down and count the colors you see. The more, the merrier. More colors mean a better balanced plant-based meal which has different vegetables (unrefined carbs). This means you’re getting more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which will keep you healthy with a flat belly, while also preventing  weight gain and illnesses.

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Don’t eat dinner after 7

Studies with mice have shown that eating after 7 p.m. is hindering your efforts to lose weight. It looks like timing is important when it comes to dieting as well. The group of mice that were fed after 7 o’clock, even though they had the exact same meals and performed the same exercises, gained weight and the other group of mice didn’t.

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Cook as much as you can

This is the only way to ensure what goes into your body. Set a day during the week to cook in a healthy way. The more you cook the more leftovers you’ll have to bring for lunch the next day so you don’t over-snack on bad foods that are ruining your diet. This will save  you a lot of time and frustration.

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Drink water, not soda

Hydration is like magic in the body. It prevents bladder and kidney tract infections, skin issues, flushing free radicals and toxins out of cells. Drink a glass of water before eating because the body often confuses thirst with hunger. Don’t drink soda, not even diet soda, as both are slowly killing you because of the sugar and artificial sweeteners. They have no nutritional value but contain a lot  other things that can make you sick over time.

From A Dietitian: How to Eat If You’re Trying to Lose Weight