I’ve written about this in the past, but when my account was deleted the blog was wiped out too. I’ve had a few requests for information recently, so I am re-posting this.
Why would I be writing a blog on losing weight? After many years of dancing and my personal background in the professional weight loss field, as well as having experience losing semi-large amounts of weight, I have years of knowledge on the topic of weight loss. Don’t expect me to post anything about random subjects like riding a Harely, I have no clue! However on the subjects I do know about I am more than happy to share.
I am getting more requests from people wanting to know how to lose weight. One of the toughest things to do is to lose weight without the assistance of medication or surgery. The second toughest part is sticking to what you are going to do. So write it down and stick to it!
First, to properly understand nutrition you really need to know a few terms. Don’t think I don’t watch people in the grocery stores staring blankly at the food labels not knowing what they mean… or worse yet not even knowing! Pull out a few things from your fridge and read down the list to start comparing food groups. Try taking out a can of beans, a carton of skim milk, and maybe those cookies you have tucked into your cupboard that you save for those really bad cravings… then read on.
One of the most important steps you will ever make to becoming healthy is to understand what you are putting into your body. While no extreme diet is healthy, finding what is best for you is. Let’s take a look now at the items you’ll find on a nutrition facts label.
Serving Size: The amount that is given (typically in cups) for a single serving, which makes it easier for the consumer to compare food nutrients side-by-side. WARNING! One container often contains multiple servings.
Calories: A unit of food energy equal to the temperature needed to increase the temperature of either a gram or kilogram of water by one degree celsius. An average active male will consume about 2,000 calories per day. If you are a female, particularly and inactive female, you don’t need 2,000 calories per day!
- Empty Calorie: A slang term that refers to a calorie containing potential for energy buy not any vitamins, minerals, or amino acids. Think of these as snack foods that you know are not good for you.
Fat: All fats are NOT equal. There are four main types of fats:
- Saturated Fats (bad): All of the carbon atoms of saturated fat are filled with hydrogen. Saturated fat raises LBL (bad) cholesterol. Generally these fats are found in animal products such as: meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, margarines, lard, and vegetable shortening. You want to think of these fats as a primarily bad fat.
- Trans Fat (bad): Trans fat occurs when liquid oils are hydrogenated to withstand food production processing. Trans fat is actually worse that saturated fats because it raises LDL cholesterol and lowers your good (HDL) cholesterol. These fats are typically found in fried foods, french fries, potato chips, vegetable shortening, and margarine. As of 2006 companies producing foods containing trans fat are required to state on the nutrition facts label that the food contains trans fat. Often you will see partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated, meaning there is a small amount of trans fat.
- Polyunsaturated Fat (good): These contain more than one double bond because there is more than one hydrogen atom missing in the carbon chain. These fats lower cholesterol, and are good for the body. The fats come in two types, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fat is found in fish, nuts, seeds, canola oil, and safflower. Omega-3 has been linked to weight loss. People looking to lose weight should consider adding Omega-3 to their diet. For meat eaters I recommend taking gelatin capsules of Omega-3 which often comes from fish sources. For vegetarians I recommend liquid flaxseed oil mixed into protein shakes… the liquid is thick and the taste is horrid!
- Monounsaturated Fat (good): There is one space on these fats which is missing a hydrogen atom. Again, these fats lower cholesterol levels. Some manufacturers list monounsaturated fats, if you don’t see it listed subtract the saturated and trans fats from the total fat. Monounsaturated fats can be found in canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, and nuts.
- On a low fat diet less about 30% of your calories should come from fat. You can find out how much fat you need with an online calculator: http://www.xenical.com/percen_fat_calc.asp
Cholesterol: This like a wax that is found in the bloodstream, and it helps produce cell membranes and hormones, so it’s important to have. However, too high of cholesterol can lead to problems (think of how wax builds up) and lead to heart attacks and other problems with the body.
LDL Cholesterol (bad): This is the cholesterol that can build up and plug your arteries leading to many health problems.
HDL Cholesterol (good): This type of cholesterol keeps everything flowing nicely and clears up and blockage.
Sodium: Think of sodium as salt. A person should have less than one teaspoon (2,300mg) of sodium per day. Sodium preserves food, but dries out the body and causes high blood pressure. Sodium is often found in: canned foods, frozen meals, nuts, seeds, dried beans, peas, lentils, pretzels, chips, dairy products
Potassium: A mineral that changes to conduct electricity needed for sending nerve impulses and releasing energy from food. Adults should consume a minimum of 2,000mg of potassium per day. Potassium is greatest in raw foods, so cook in minimal water and for the shortest amount of time to preserve potassium in your food.
Carbohydrates (Carbs): In their best form they are energy. However your body can only use so many carbohydrates per day. The excess carbohydrates are turned into sugar and then into fat. Foods high carbohydrates are: bread, pastas, potatoes, beans, fruit, carrots, corn and juices. You can’t think of carbohydrates as the enemy, because the body needs them for energy. The key is to know how many your body needs. If carbs continue turning to sugar and then fat, you will develop diabetes type II.
- I’m a huge animal lover. If you cherish your pets, watch what you feed them! Talk to your vet about what types of foods are best for your pet. Generally off the shelf dry foods are high in corn, and thus carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates turn into sugar, pets that are not active enough to burn the carbs can develop diabetes!
- For the effective (bad) carbs, take the number of carbs listed and subtract the dietary fiber (good) listed below. This tells you the number of “net carbs” you are actually looking at or need to worry about.
- Low carb diets revolve around ketosis. If you cheat on a low carb diet then ketosis will not occur and the weight will not be lost. During the first two weeks of a low carb diet you may eat 20 carbs per day, after that you may have 30 carbs per day.
Protein: A chain of amino acids required to build, maintain and replace body tissue, muscles, organs and glands. It is also used in the production of hemoglobin. Protein is important to a nice body and many diets emphasize high amounts of protein. Look for protein shakes or other options high in protein and low in sugar. Amplify & Carb Solutions are both great brands of shakes.
In addition to all the things we just reviewed there are numerous vitamins and minerals which are important as well.
Before we can get into how much of what you should be getting, there are some more terms which you will want to familiarize yourself with on your journey through the weight loss adventure.
Body Mass Index (BMI): This is an index number based on your weight and height that is a measure of your body fat. Your index number should be between 18.5 and 24.9. Anything under 18.5 is underweight and anything over 24.9 is overweight. European runway models are now required to have a BMI of at least 18 to be on the catwalk. Playboy models normally have a BMI between 19 and 20, with a tendency around 19.2. Find your BMI: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): This is the amount of energy used under normal resting conditions. It should not be confused with Basal Metabolic Rate, which has more strict rules for testing. Think of it as the amount of energy used laying on a couch doing absolutely nothing. This will help you understand the bare amount of calories and nutrients your body needs. This number varies from person to person so the only true way to figure it out is to go to find a health center, fitness center or hospital with a machine (MetaCheck), which can test your RMR, or to buy a handheld version (BodyGem) of the machine. Calculators are available online to give you a rough estimate only.
Fullness Factor (FF): This is how full a given food will actually make you. Foods are rated on a scale of zero to five. If you were starving and had the choice of kale (3.5 ff) or a pretzel (1.5 ff), kale would be a better choice to get you over your hunger. Understanding the fullness factor is about how foods fill you up and learning to make smart choices. Find out more by registering online here: http://www.nutritiondata.com/tools/nutrient-search or read more here: http://www.nutritiondata.com/topics/fullness-factor
Now, onto losing weight!
1lb of Body Fat = 3,500 Calories
So the trick to losing weight is knowing how much to each, and burning more calories than you eat. If I eat 2,000 calories, and my Resting Metabolic Rate requires 1,600 calories per day, then I would need to burn the extra 400 through exercise to maintain my current weight. On the other hand, if I go to the gym three times per week how many calories would I need to burn to lose two pounds per week?
14,000 Calories taken in (2,000 x 7 days) = 2,800 Excess calories (400 x 7 days)
3,500 Calories to lose 1lb x 2lbs = 7,000 Calories
I would need to burn 7,000 calories plus my 2,800 excess calories to lose two pounds in a week, that is 9,800 calories to burn! Okay, so that is a little dramatic. I’ve been walking, doing dishes, taking the trash out. I am burning more than my resting metabolic rate of 1,600. You know what though? I’m just going to continue using that number because it keeps me motivated to keep moving… I’m working towards a goal of burning 1,400 calories per day.
I could try to work off 1,400 calories per day, but who has time? This is where creating the calorie deficit comes in. Eat less calories than you burn! If I weigh 120lbs and decrease my caloric intake by 200, even without exercising I could get down to 110lbs in 5 months and 25 days. When considering a low calorie diet, speak to your physician if you are considering a diet with less than 1,200 calories per day. For more calculators to aid you in planning see the following website: http://www.caloriesperhour.com
What other tips do I have for you to lose weight through eating?
- Track everything! Get a three ring binder and find a good way to track everything you put into your body (calories, fats, carbs, proteins, etc.) and everything that comes out through exercise. I recommend a tracking system/journal or try an online program like: http://sparkpeople.com
- Kick start your metabolism, then keep it running. Begin each morning by exercising, this gets your metabolism going and you can actually burn more calories faster if you exercise and then eat. Follow up exercising with breakfast. Get out of the three meal routine and start having 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day.
- Drink water. You should be getting 8 glasses of water per day. This helps flush the body and contributes to weight loss. If you hate the “taste” of plain water, water flavors are now available in most stores in a variety of flavors. Check your local store next to either the teas or Kool Aid.
- Take a multi-vitamin. The correct amount of vitamins helps your body to rejuvenate and work productively, including burning calories.
- Use fillers before meals. Try eating broth soups which will make your body feel more full prior to eating your meal.
- Eat lots of salad. Lettuce contains mostly water and will create the same effect as soup to help you feel full. Look for alternatives to salad dressings which are high in calories, fat, and carbs. Put more protein into your salad with tuna, tofu, or low fat cheese to help add flavor, or consider a citrus fruit to go with the salad. If you must use salad dressing opt for low fat and have it served on the side so you can dip in and control the amount.
- Do not consume your food quickly. It can take up to thirty minutes to feel “full”, long after you’ve had more food than you really need. Also, don’t eat when you aren’t hungry.
- Eat a single food at once. By eating just one food (peas for example), our brain does not signal the same sensations created by mixing flavors. It actually is sort of boring and so the mind does not send messages to your body that you should “want more”.
- Use blue. Blue is great for dieting because it’s not a color that food normally takes on. Try eating small portions off of blue plates, color your kitchen blue, use a blue light in your refrigerator or even use food coloring on your food.
- Cut out the carbs, fat, sugar and calories that you don’t need.
- If you eat soy products, do not over use them. There is debate about the effects they have on thyroid.
- Get proper amounts of sleep.
After working out the amount of food you need, the next step is finding a way to burn the calories. It’s normally best to do a combination of cardiovascular workouts and weight training. While the cardio workout will help you burn large amounts of calories, weight training will help you to define your muscles. The toughest thing to realize is that there is no such thing a spot reduction… you just have to burn the calories and the pounds will come off first in the same areas were you first started seeing the excess fat develop.
You will find many calculators online that will help you to determine how many calories you are burning. My favorite calculators can be found at http://www.caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.html and http://www.nutristrategy.com/activitylist4.htm
There are many wonderful activities that you can participate in to help you lose weight, many times without even thinking about it! Here are some activities that are enjoyable while helping you lose weight; I’m comparing these off the charts for a person at 130lbs since that is what is listed.
- Swimming – 352 calories per hour (cpr) (great for losing weight and toning up)
- Dancing – 266 cph
- Roller Skating 413cph
- 10/11 mph Bicycling – 236 cph
- Jumping Rope – 590 cph
- Hula Hooping – 455 cph
- Aerobics / Aerobic Dance – 354 cph
- Walking slow – 148 cph (think in terms of window shopping)
There are a lot of great ways to burn those calories. People tend to think they need to go to the gym or that working out needs to be really vigorous. Although getting your heart rate up will help you burn more calories faster, it’s not required.
For weight training you can go to the gym, or use things around the house. Water is a wonderful resource for weight training, starting by maybe lifting bottles of water while you are on the phone chatting with friends. To work out your legs purchase a pair of five or ten pound ankle weights that you can strap on underneath your pants when you go walking or even as a daily routine.
Try getting a group together 2-3 times per week and spend an hour and a half or two hours working out. Get some friends to go out dancing at the night clubs and ditch the alcohol and opt for water. On the days you aren’t with friends, set aside some time in the morning and evening for 30 minutes to 1 hour to exercise.
Personal Favorite Foods
This is my list of things that I love, which overall fit into the low carb/ high protein/ low fat/ low calorie diet. I’m vegetarian, so my list doesn’t include meat, but if you eat meat be sure to get lean meats. I would recommend not over doing the dairy, because it can be fattening to have too much of.
This only comes in the cans. My second favorite is the High Protein Mix.
Dannon makes two versions of Light & Fit, so make sure it says “Carb & Sugar Control” on the package. This yogurt comes in blueberry, strawberry, peach, raspberries and vanilla.
- Knorr Bouillon Cubes – Vegetable, Beef, or Chicken available
These are normally found in the soup aisle.
Pretty much all the brands are healthy, but check the label. Most are less than 2g carbs for two tablespoons. A little goes a long way!
- Mozzarella non-fat cheese
- Unsalted pumpkin, sunflower and walnut seeds
- Tofu – Mori-Nu lite extra firm
- Morningstar Farms imitation meats – Chik’n Strips, Bacon Strips, Sausage Links & Patties, Steak Strips, Grillers Prime Burgers, Grillers Recipe Crumbles, Cheddar Burgers, Veggie Dogs.
- Quorn imitation meats – Cran & Goat Cheese Chik’n, Naked Chik’n Cutlet, Turk’y Roast
- Yves imitation deli meats – Roast Beef Slices, Turkey Slices, Canadian Bacon
- Legumes – Boiled lentils or split peas
- Leafy Vegetables – Arugula, Endive, lettuce – all types, spinach, watercress
- Veggies – artichoke, asparagus , broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, mushroom (white or portabella), okra (boiled with small amount of salt), radish, snap/string beans, squash (all varieties), zucchini
- Fruits (1/2 cup at most) – Apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, gooseberries, kumquats, lemon, limes, loganberries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, tomato, watermelon
Before beginning any diet or exercise program, check with your physician, particularly for major weight or exercise changes. With a little determination and effort you’ll be on your way to a healthy and tighter body in no time!