Tag Archives: diet

9 Myths and Facts About Weight Loss

scale-series-4-1077712-mFor all the information that’s available about dieting and exercise, we still have a lot of misconceptions about weight loss. Sometimes, the research and studies about weight loss even contradict each other.

I read a study that said you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. It has since been found that there are many variables that can affect weight loss, including age, weight, height, sex and body fat.

The biggest problem we have as Americans is that we want a quick fix and instant gratification. However, there is no magic way to lose weight and maintain it. The best results are achieved when you find balance in all areas of your life and achieve a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, eating right, reducing stress, getting plenty of sleep, breaking bad habits and setting goals for success.

Here are 9 myths about weight loss and the facts that will help you live a healthier lifestyle:

Myth: Snacking is always bad for you.
The idea that you shouldn’t eat between meals is a myth. The problem with snacking is that you may be making poor food choices. Grabbing something from a vending machine will most likely be a fattening treat. The fact is that snacking between meals may actually help you eat less. The key is to eat nutritious foods – such as a moderate amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts or yogurt. Snacking can also keep you from overeating because you won’t feel like you’re starving when you finally eat a meal.

Myth: The secret to weight loss is removing one type of food from your diet.
Any diet plan that removes a specific food – or requires that you to focus on one type of food – will fail in the long run. You may have tried to cut fat, carbs, dairy or gluten. You may lose weight initially because you are eating fewer calories, but eventually you will replace it with something else. The key is to eat a balanced diet of all sorts of healthy foods.

Myth: Eat breakfast to lose weight.
This myth isn’t completely black and white. While I do believe that breakfast helps jump start your metabolism and allows you to begin the day feeling full and satisfied, it depends on what you eat. A bowl of oatmeal with fruit and a piece of whole-wheat toast will satisfy your hunger without loading on calories. A full breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and orange juice will jump up your daily calorie intake.

Myth: Everyone gains and loses weight the same way.
Studies of twins have shown that people gain and lose weight in different ways. Some people gain weight more easily than others, while some must work harder than the average person to burn it off. Try not to compare your weight loss efforts and success to someone else. Each person should set his or her own expectations and plans for losing weight.

Myth: All carbs are bad.
While eliminating all bread won’t help you magically shed weight, changing the type of bread you eat may help. There are good carbs and bad carbs. While all bread is high in calories, white bread doesn’t offer much nutrition. Whole-grain bread is high in fiber and provides more nutritional value. You can also enjoy the carbs found in fruits, vegetables, beans and other whole grains.

Myth: No more fast food.
You can still eat fast food and lose weight. It’s about portion control and making healthy choices. You can get a salad, grilled chicken, whole grain tacos or flat bread. Ask for sauces or dressings on the side, or scrape them off as much as you can.

Myth: Eating fat makes you fat.
Once again, it comes down to the type of fat. Some fat is actually food for you. Animal fat and saturated fat have been linked to weight gain and health problems, such as heart disease and high cholesterol. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, have been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Myth: Don’t eat before bed.
It’s not eating before bed that is an issue – it’s what you eat before bed that may cause a problem. We tend to grab unhealthy snacks, like cookies, cake, ice cream or movie theater butter popcorn late at night. It comes down to how many calories you eat each day. Snacking before bed is fine if you make healthy, low calorie choices.

Myth: Just exercise and you’ll shed pounds.
Cutting calories by adjusting what you eat is the best way to lose weight. However, many of us think that because we exercise we can eat whatever we want. In addition, exercising may make you more hungry and then you eat more. Exercise alone won’t make you drop pounds. Keep in mind that drinking a can of soda can be 140 calories. It takes 30 minutes of moderate walking to burn it off. The best option is a healthy, lower calorie diet with regular aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching.

When it comes to diet and exercise, the one thing you can count on is new weight loss schemes coming out every day. The secret to losing weight and maintaining it is finding the right balance between exercise and healthy eating that works for you!

10 holiday diet mistakes to avoid

Eat healthy balanced diet during holidaysI am feeling pretty guilty after attending many scrumptious feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate a little bit of everything and then had some more.

Like many Americans, I am now in panic mode as Christmas and New Year’s approach. These holidays bring more opportunities to overeat and make poor food choices. Not to mention, I will meet up with friends and relatives I don’t see very often, and I want to look my best.

At times like this, many of us turn to diets and less than healthy eating habits in hopes of looking and feeling better by the next round of holiday gatherings.

Here are 10 diet habits you should avoid and tips on what you should do instead:

Skipping breakfast
While skipping breakfast seems like a good way to cut calories, it can sabotage the rest of your day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast that is high in fiber and protein can help you feel more full throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Ignoring food groups
Different diet plans call for avoiding different types of foods. The latest fad may mean leaving out gluten, carbs, meat, dairy, sugar or fats. Yet, we need all of these nutrients for a balanced diet and for our bodies to work properly. Even dairy may help our bodies burn more fat by supplying calcium.

Forgetting about snacks
We often consider snacking a bad habit, but eating healthy, nutritious snacks actually helps  control hunger and aids in weight loss. Snacking on a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or some veggies can keep you on track and make those bad choices less appealing.

On the other hand, too much nibbling can be detrimental to your good eating habits. You grab a pastry and iced coffee at the morning meeting. You snack on pretzels at your desk. You finish your child’s chocolate shake. All of these extra calories can add up throughout the day.

Drinking diet sodas
It can be tempting to fill up on diet sodas. The fizzy drinks make you feel full and can taste good, too. Diet sodas may actually be sabotaging your weight loss. It has been found that artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

The answer: drink more water. Water is essential for burning calories. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. When you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, you burn more calories.

Starving yourself
When people want to lose weight fast, they tend to think that eating less will get the best results. By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you actually send your body into starvation mode, and it starts storing fat to get you through the lean times. A better approach is to make a modest cut to calorie intake and then maintain that level for a long period of time.

Cutting out the fat
It isn’t so much the fat we eat that causes weight gain as much as it’s the total amount of calories and bad fats that lead to health problems. We need to cut down on the trans and saturated fats found in meat and processed foods. We still need to include good fats in our diets, such as those found in olive oil and fatty foods.

Thinking good calories don’t count
We think because some foods are good for us, we can eat as much as we want. However, you still need to keep your total calorie intake in mind. Just because whole grains, beans, chicken and cheese are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat 10 tacos in one meal. Even fruits and veggies eaten in excess can be converted to fat.

Leaving out exercise
When we get busy with preparing for the holidays, it may be easier to drop your exercise routine so that you can fit more into your busy days. Yet, if you keep up your exercise routine, you can eat more of the things you enjoy and still lose weight. Exercise can also help you relieve the stress brought on by the hectic holiday season.

Setting unrealistic goals
Deciding you want to lose 30 pounds between now and Christmas is probably unrealistic. You need to set a more realistic goal, such as planning to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You should also set other goals, such as running a mile without stopping or swimming a certain amount of laps in the pool. You will feel pride and accomplishment without relying solely on weight loss.

Using a diet at all
For the most part, I feel like “diet” is a bit of a four-letter word. Any time you are being deprived of food, you are more likely to fail in your eating habits. It’s more important to change your lifestyle and create a balance among all of the aspects of living a healthy life. You need to make healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and relieving stress into habits that you can live with every day.

7 tips for healthier eating habits

healthier eating habitsAny time I hear someone say, “I’m on a diet,” I want to cringe. To me, “dieting” is almost a dirty word.

Dieting generally has a negative connotation because it conjures up ideas of fad diets and unhealthy weight loss. Going on a diet means you are temporarily depriving yourself of some type of food. A diet is not something you sustain over time.

When you go on fad diets, you are typically leaving out necessary nutrients. Dieting can make your body think it’s starving, and it actually starts to store fat. You can also become food obsessed – worrying about counting calories, carbs, proteins or fat. When taken to the extreme, dieting may be doing harm to your body and putting you at risk for illness.

The best diet is not a “diet” at all but a way of life that lets you eat the nutritious foods your body needs to thrive. By creating healthy eating habits, you can lose weight, tone up, feel better and have more energy. It may mean changing your mindset from dieting to eating a healthier, more balanced variety of foods.

Here are some tips to help you develop healthier eating habits and stick to it:

Tip 1: Start slowly
It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling all your eating habits at once. Trying to change everything at once can be hard and often leads to cheating or simply giving up. Start by adding a salad once a day. Or, make it a point to cut down on fried foods.

Tip 2: Think smaller
A key foundation for eating healthier is portion control. Over the past few decades, serving sizes have grown to huge amounts. One way to reduce your portions is to switch out your dinner plates for smaller plates. Think about moderation as you fill your plate. It can be especially hard to eat a normal-sized portion in a restaurant. Choose a starter or an appetizer instead of an entrée. Or, split a large main dish with a friend.

Tip 3: Eat your fiber
You can eat plenty of high-fiber foods – this means fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These are “good” carbs and are nutritious, as well as help fill you up. They are also relatively low in calories. These foods can provide important vitamins and minerals.

Tip 4: Everything in moderation
Well, mostly limit the bad things. We all know what they are – unfortunately most of them taste really good! Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined grains like white bread and salty snacks. In addition, cut down on trans fat, which comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils and many fast foods. It’s also important to cut down on animal fat. It is high in saturated fat. Cutting down on fats may even help you lower your cholesterol. Also, if you drink alcohol, it should be done in moderation.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a cookie, slice of cake or some potato chips. It just means to eat these things in moderation.

Tip 5: Add more fruits and vegetables
Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. You should be eating 5 servings or more a day. Try to add more color in your fruits and vegetables – include greens, oranges and yellows, as well as purples, blues and reds.

Tip 6: Take your time
Slow down and think of food as nourishment, rather than something you eat between meetings or grab on the go. Sit down and eat at the table. If you eat in front of the TV or computer, you aren’t thinking about how much food you are actually consuming. Eating with others leads to conversation and helps you take breaks as you eat. Also, if you eat more slowly, your body will tell you when you’re full.

Tip 7: Keep it all in balance
The best tip for healthy eating is to keep it all in balance. Eat a wide variety of foods and think about smaller portion sizes. Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.

And remember to take small step and make changes to your eating habits over time. The next thing you know you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better!