Archives for posts with tag: weight loss

low_carb_comic1-300x215Since the beginning of January I have heard many people talking about how they are trying to eat better and are on a specific diet or cleanse. If weight loss is your goal, dieting (severely restricting calories) may not be the way to go. Don’t get me wrong, they do work–in the short term. However, statistics show that 97% of people who lose weight on a restrictive diet regain the weight they have lost (and sometimes even more) within three years.

In addition, weight loss without exercise can cause one to lose lean tissue (muscle).  When the weight is gained back, it is gained back as fat. The result is a change is body composition leaning towards a higher percentage of body fat.

So what is the best way to lose weight permanently? The answer is simple– to make permanent lifestyle changes. These changes include making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your routine and making smarter choices with the food that you eat.

Here are 5 ways to get started on your journey to health:

1. Get moving

If you are new to exercise, start slowly. A great way to start exercising is by walking. Set some time aside in your day to go for a walk, or find some time to incorporate more walking into your day. For example, if you drive to work, park about a 10 minute walk away. The 10 minute walk to work and the 10 minute walk back to your car five days per week adds up to 100 extra minutes of exercise per week.

2. Eat whole grains

Whole grains are much more nutritious than refined grains. In addition, because they are higher in fiber they help you to feel more full, which means that you will eat less. Start by trying out whole or sprouted grain breads, replacing white rice with brown rice, or trying out a new grain such as quinoa, whole wheat couscous or barley.

3. Eat protein at breakfast

Your body is better able to make use of protein if it is eaten throughout the day, rather than in large amounts at dinner or lunch. This is especially important for those trying to gain muscle.  Eating protein in the morning also helps you to feel more satisfied, which means you will likely eat less unhealthy snacks later in the day. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, soy, dairy, nuts and legumes.

4. Have an apple a day

Everyone has heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, science shows that there is a lot of truth to that statement. Eating more apples (as well as other fruit and vegetables) can improve cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of disease, including breast cancer.

5. Eat your greens

Dark green vegetables are low in calories and  rich in nutrients. They contain many vitamins including A, C, E and K as well as B vitamins. They are also rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. These are all nutrients that many Canadians do not get enough of.  To further convince you on the importance of eating greens, check out this article.

carb511The question I probably get the most about nutrition is: “What type of diet do you recommend?” When people ask this question they are expecting a simple answer such as Paleo, gluten-free, or vegan.

The truth is that there is no one best diet for everyone.

Here are some of the factors that contribute to my definition of a healthy diet:

1. Adequacy

Your diet should provide adequate nutrients to meet your individual needs. Quite often a diet that eliminates an entire food group will put a person at risk of nutrient deficiency. For example, the Paleo diet eliminates dairy products. If other calcium-rich foods are not included to replace dairy, it puts one at risk of a calcium deficiency. Remember, osteoporosis is an old age disease. Cave men didn’t live long enough have to worry about it.

2. Variety

The diet should include a variety of choices. Not only does this prevent boredom, but it also limits the chance of over- or under-consuming nutrients.

3. Moderation

No food should be eaten in excess and no food needs to be completely eliminated (except in the case of allergies, religion, or ethics). Nutrient excess can be as dangerous as nutrient inadequacy.

4. Calorie control

A diet should provide the appropriate number of calories to meet your individual needs. Diets higher in calories are required to fuel physical activity and growth. If weight loss is the goal, calories should be low enough to promote fat loss, but high enough to provide adequate energy and to prevent metabolism disruption.

5. Enjoyable

The food you are eating should be enjoyable to eat and enjoyable to prepare. Quite simply, if you don’t like the food you are eating it will not be sustainable long-term.

6. Affordable

Your grocery bill should fit within you budget. For example, a diet that calls for multiple servings of meat or expensive powders and supplements is likely not financially sustainable.

The bottom line:

There are many factors involved in the makeup of a healthy diet. Eating healthy should not be viewed as a temporary fix, but as a long-term solution.

Click the above link to read an insightful article by a B.C. chiropractor, Dr. Jesse Moreton, on the science of satiety and paying attention to your fullness cues.

I have been training in kickboxing (Muay Thai), for about two years. When I first started, I had no idea how important my eating habits were to my performance. Through trial and error, I learned that what I eat, how much, and when plays a huge role in my energy levels. I went through a period of time where I was trying to lose a few pounds, so I cut back my food intake significantly (big mistake). I was exhausted, cranky, and had a lot of trouble making it through my workout. I also learned that eating a big meal close to the start of class made me sluggish and want to puke, and not eating enough made me feel weak. Through a little research and my own experience, here is what I now know:

Kickboxing is a high-intensity sport that requires a lot of energy—and the main source of this energy during your workout is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen. Your body uses these glycogen stores as energy during your workout. It is very important to include quality carbohydrates in your diet, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes to keep this energy store full. If you exclude carbohydrates from your diet, you won’t burn fat instead while exercising, you will just run out of energy.

The total amount of food you are eating also plays a role in your energy levels and body composition. How much you need to eat depends on your fitness goals.

If you are trying to lose weight: In order to lose one pound, you need to consume 3500 calories less than you are burning. 500 calories less per day is equal to one pound of weight loss per week. It is generally not recommended to lose more than two pounds per week. I you are eating too little, your metabolism will slow down (your body thinks it is starving, will break down your muscles, and will store any excess calories as fat) and you will not have enough energy to keep up with your exercise routine.

If you want to maintain your weight: Likely, if you are exercising more than you used to, you will need to eat more. Not only are you burning energy during exercise, but also you are building more muscle, which leads to more calories burned while at rest. If you feel hungry, then eat, but make sure that it is healthy food (fruits, vegetables, grains and lean dairy and meats). It is common when you exercise often to think: “I work out. I can afford to eat a hamburger with fries and pie and ice cream for dessert!” This type of thinking may lead to unwanted weight gain.

If you are trying to gain weight: To gain one pound of muscle per week, you need to eat about 350-500 calories more than you are burning daily (this only works if you are working out, otherwise it will become fat). Once you gain the muscle, it takes an adequate amount of energy intake to maintain this increased weight. These calories should come from carbohydrates, protein, and some fat. Keep in mind, there is a limit to how much muscle one can gain, and this limit depends on your gender, genetics, and exercise routine.

Not only is what you eat during the day important, but when you eat it.  Eating too much too close to the start of your workout can make for a very uncomfortable experience, and not eating enough can make it difficult to maintain energy throughout the class.

It may be helpful to follow these guidelines:

2-4 hours before your workout: Eat a regular meal that includes a carbohydrate and protein source. If your meal is closer to the 2 hour mark, be sure to keep it relatively low in fat and fibre, as these nutrients slow the digestion of food and may give you a stomach ache during your workout.  Examples of appropriate meals: Pasta with meat sauce and a side of salad. Meat or Tofu stir-fry with vegetables and rice.

1 hour before your workout: If you don’t have time to eat 2 hours before, eat a light meal or snack 1hour before. Keep this meal low in fat and fibre, and high in carbohydrates.

Afterwards, you will need to replenish the glycogen stores lost during your workout. The two hours after you exercise is when this process is most efficient. This can be a snack that includes carbohydrate and some protein or a meal if you didn’t eat one before class.  Examples of post-workout snacks: Toast (carbs) with peanut butter (protein) and a piece of fruit (carbs). Smoothie with yogurt (protein), banana (carbs) and berries (carbs).