Posts Tagged ‘weight management’

Understanding Nutrition Facts Labels

Nutrition LabelCalories? Fat? Sodium? Carbohydrates? What do you look for on a nutrition facts label? Food labels tell you a lot about what’s in the foods you choose to eat. But they can be hard to decipher. Follow these simple steps to help you make the best food choices for what your body needs.

Step 1: What’s the serving size?
One of the most important pieces of information is also the most ignored! How many times have you eaten an entire package, thinking it’s one serving, just to turn it around and see that it’s actually two servings! That means you have to double all the numbers on the label. Instead of 150 calories, you ate 300. Instead of 7 grams of fat, you ate 14, and so on. Always check the serving size before portioning out your food.

Step 2: How many calories?
This section is helpful to look at if you are working on losing, gaining or maintaining weight. “Calories” listed on the left side are the number of calories for one serving. “Calories from Fat” tell you how many calories come from the fat in the food for one serving. Balance how many calories you eat with how many calories your body uses to maintain weight. Eat more calories than you burn to gain and less calories than you burn to lose.

Step 3: Nutrients to Limit
Choose foods with lower numbers of the following nutrients: Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium. Eating too much of these nutrients may increase your risk for heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure.

Step 4: Get More of these Nutrients
Most Americans don’t get enough fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron from the foods they eat. Eating more of these nutrients may improve your health and help reduce the risk for some diseases and health conditions.

Step 5: What are Percent (%) Daily Values?
The percentages listed on the right side of the label tell you whether the food gives you a lot or a little of that nutrient. Five percent (5%) or less gives you a “low” amount of that nutrient. Twenty percent (20%) or more gives you a “high” amount of those nutrients.

Do You Have to Choose Between Wine & Your Waistline?

Alcohol Weight Gain

When it comes to drinking alcohol and your health, thousands of experts have weighed in. One thing that they can all agree on is that when it comes to drinking alcohol and your weight, moderation is key.

A recent article on CNN.com shed some light on the fact that alcohol not only adds hundreds of calories to your diet – a regular beer can add up to more than 150 calories while a glass of wine can cost you 100 calories – but it also temporarily halts your body’s ability to burn fat. So, while the beer you had with pizza and wings might not be a major caloric offender, your body insists on breaking down the calories from the alcohol first, leaving the calories from what you ate to get stored as fat.

So, does this mean that you must resign yourself to teetotaling? No, says Meagan Moyer, registered dietician for the Emory Bariatric Center. But you do need to follow a few rules to keep from growing a beer belly or wine waist!

  1. Keep it simple – A good rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients the better. It’s generally safer to go with a glass of wine or a beer rather than a fancy mixed drink that is loaded with sugar or salt from added juices, soda and mixers.
  2. Eat before you drink – It might sound counterintuitive if you’re trying to skimp on calories, but eating a snack or meal with healthy fat, fiber and protein can help stave off the sugar crash that often comes after a night of drinking. It also can help you feel full so that you’re not picking off of every tray being passed.
  3. Keep count – Conventional wisdom points to the one drink a night rule for women. So, does this mean you can abstain all week and then blow it out on Saturday? Not so fast. Drinking several drinks in one night will mess with your blood sugar, add hundreds of calories to your diet and decrease your judgment in making good food choices – a trifecta of disaster for your waistline.

Author: Meagan Moyer, RD/LD, Emory Bariatric Center

 

 

Nutrition Fact or Fiction? Emory Bariatric Center Dietician Sheds Light on the Most Important Meal of the Day

Nutrition Fact or FictionWhen it comes to losing weight, exercising and eating healthy, myths and misconceptions abound. And, with an overabundance of conflicting diet and weight loss information available, it’s hard to know if your breakfast routine is keeping you on target for your weight loss goals or if you’re  unknowingly derailing your path to healthy living.  Is it best to work out in the morning or at night? Can a doughnut really be better for breakfast than a muffin? Fortunately, Meagan Moyer, a registered dietician with the Emory Bariatric Center, can help distinguish diet and exercise myths from the truth to help you get your day off to a great start.

Check out Meagan playing a friendly game of nutrition fact or fiction with 11Alive’s morning news team.

Related Resources:

6 Healthy Eating Tips To Stave Off Holiday Weight Gain

Tips to Keep Holiday Weight Gain Off

As the year comes to an end, so often do the thoughts of healthy eating habits.   the thought of keeping the pounds off during the holidays.  With multiple holiday parties throughout December, it may seem hard to keep the weight off, but preparation is the key to success.

1) Have a Plan
Plan to succeed or plan to fail. Plan accordingly if you know you are going to be limited on the foods you can eat at holiday parties. Bring some healthy snacks to eat at the party or eat a light meal before going to curb your appetite. Sample the foods at the party, rather than eat a plateful of each dish. If it is a party where you bring a dish, bring something that you know you can eat and enjoy. Vegetables and low fat dip are always a good option to add color to the table.

2) Everything in Moderation
There is no need to avoid your favorite holiday foods if you eat them in moderation. Portion sizes are important in weight management and weight loss. Controlling portions allows you to eat the foods you like without depriving yourself. Take one serving of the food you want to eat and walk away from the table. It is more satisfying to eat smaller portions of a variety of foods than a big portion of one food.

3) Exercise
Keep moving to stay warm as well as burn off those holiday calories. Walking 30 minutes a day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing some light weight resistance training can help keep you on track with your weight loss goals.

4) Drink Right, Feel Right
Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Drinking water can make you feel fuller and help prevent overeating. Avoid alcoholic beverages since they add extra calories and sugar. If you do chose to drink alcoholic beverages, drink wine, light beer or spirits with no-calories mixers.

5) When in Doubt, Fruit and Veggie It Out
Include fruits and vegetables at every meal. Snack on vegetables or fruits throughout the day instead of the holidays goodies at work. Not only are fruits/veggies low in calories, they are high in antioxidants, giving you extra immunity during the cold winter months.

6) Forgive Yourself and Move On
Don’t let the thought of overindulging at Thanksgiving keep you from moving forward in your weight loss goals during the rest of the holiday season and into the new year. Take every day as a new day and a fresh opportunity to get closer to your goal.

Diet Frustrations? 5 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight

5 reasonsLosing weight is hard and can be very frustrating at times.  Here are some common pitfalls that people make and suggestions on how to get over them.

  1. You think fat-free also means calorie-free – When a food claims to be fat-free, sugar-free, or light, it doesn’t mean the food is low in calories or even healthy.  Eating these foods often lead people to think they can eat more!  How many times have you thought, “These cookies are low-fat, which means I can eat more.”?  Always check to see how many calories there are in one serving before you begin eating to avoid any unwanted surprises.
  2. You’re not being truthful to yourself – No one saw you eat that handful of potato chips, so it doesn’t count, right?  Accountability is a big part of weight loss, and it’s a lot harder to be accountable to ourselves than to other people.  Many people find using food diary websites or Smartphone apps to log their food intake as a great way to stay accountable.  Try using My Fitness Pal or Lose It!
  3. You are skipping breakfast to save calories – People who skip breakfast actually eat more!  Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism for the rest of the day.  Eating only one or two large meals at the end of the day is like throwing wood into a fire that has no flame.   Eat something within one hour of waking up.  If you are not a breakfast person, try having a meal replacement shake or smoothie, which are not as heavy on the stomach.
  4. You think you can’t exercise Anything that raises your heart rate counts as exercise.  Think about what kind of physical activity you enjoy doing — you are much more likely to stick to it if you like it.  For those that are short on time, exercise is cumulative.  You don’t need to exercise for long periods of time to see the benefits.  And most importantly, remember that some exercise is always better than none at all.
  5. You are expecting perfection – We all know that no one is perfect.  But for some reason, we expect ourselves to be perfect when it comes to losing weight.  We get angry with ourselves for “falling off the wagon”.  Learn to forgive yourself.  Remember that we don’t have to hit a home run; we just need to get on base.

 

Smart & Simple Snacks

Simple SnacksDid you know that consuming small snacks in between meals instead of simply eating three big meals per day can increase your metabolism and your curb hunger? Over the years, many Americans have adapted this eating style, but unfortunately, many of these snacks are often high in calories, high in fat, and high in sodium. Between 1977-78, the average daily caloric intake of Americans was 1,803 kcals. This figure rose to 2,374 kcals between 2003-06 due to several factors, one being poor snack choices. So what are some healthy snacks that taste great and will keep me satisfied? Glad you asked. The following are 3 smart and simple snack ideas that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Ah Nuts!
Nuts are a part of a group of foods often referred to as “healthy fats” due to their high monounsaturated fat content, which includes heart healthy omege-3. Nuts are also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, and plant sterols. The dietary recommendation for nuts is equal to one ounce or one handful per day. Nuts make a great snack choice when on the go.

Carrots & Celery
Carrots and celery make great snacks that are not only healthy, but also easy to prepare. These family friendly vegetables are not only good sources of fiber but are also packed with several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C. Next time you are in the mood for a yummy and filling snack, try dipping a celery or carrot stick in your favorite all natural nut butter and enjoy.

Cheerios & Raisins
Did you know that Cheerios may help lower your cholesterol? Did you know that 1 cup of Cheerios is also an excellent source of fiber, which helps to increase satiety? Not only is Cheerios a healthy and delicious breakfast cereal, but it can also be eaten as a yummy snack too. For some added anti-oxidants, combine Cheerios with one small box of raisins or a small handful of dried cranberries.

Snacks should not only be nutritious and delicious, but also should be easy and on the go available. One suggestion is to make your snacks at the beginning of the day or the night before. Then you will be already when it is time for your smart and simple snack.

Exercise: A Sometimes Forgotten Key to Weight Management

Exercise Fitness Weight LossIn today’s market of many different diet plans, it is easy to forget about the role of exercise in managing one’s weight. After all, counting the calories used up during an hour on the treadmill or at the gym can be a bit depressing when one realizes that those calories amount to only one-seventh of a pound and are completely reversed if one eats a nice piece of pie as a reward for doing all that exercising. Indeed, one only burns about one M&M candy’s worth of calories in 50 yards of walking. This has led some to suggest that exercise is not that important in weight management and that people should focus their attention on eating less and not worry too much about exercise.

However, there are other data that would argue against ignoring exercise as an important component of weight control. If one thinks historically about the nearly tripling of our nation’s obesity rate in the last generation or two, much of that has happened with reduced exercise. As we have moved away from an agrarian economy to one based on information, more and more people have desk jobs and there is no need for almost anyone to burn many calories to survive. Cities in which people walk a lot, such as New York, have a significantly lower obesity rate than the nation as a whole, and the state with the lowest obesity rate is Colorado, which is famous for outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing.

If one takes a long-term view, there is good reason to expect that exercise can help a lot with weight, aside from its many benefits for general health. After all, if you weigh 175 pounds, increasing walking by a half-hour a day at a moderate pace translates into an extra weight loss of about 25 pounds per year, and even a 10-minute daily increase is worth about 8 additional pounds off per year. It is much more important to develop an exercise/activity plan you can stick with that is very feasible and moderate than to “go like crazy” once in awhile to lose as much weight as possible. Just as in the famous fairy tale, the tortoise, known for persistence and continuous plodding ahead, beats the hare, known for jump starts and sprinting ahead at an unsustainable pace.

Given that maintenance of exercise is a key, we all might keep in mind some factors that help us stick with a behavior:

  1. Make it fun. We are much more likely to walk or do anything else if we enjoy it. Many people will walk a considerable distance with a friend, for example, while considering walking on a treadmill to be drudgery, particularly if there is not something to watch while walking, such as a movie or television show.
  2. Make it regular and structured. If we get ourselves into a routine, it often can be maintained. Consider setting regular times to exercise, whether they be gym visits, walking during the lunch hour, or arrangements with friends to exercise together.
  3. Make exercise feasible and reasonable, even if it seems to be a small increase. Make sure you exercise within your medical limitations.
  4. Think of things you can do on a daily basis to increase your exercise. Examples might be to park further away from stores, have a policy to use the second-closest rest room, take stairs at work rather than the elevator, and/or walk while talking on the phone.
  5. Use the three principles of behavior change to help you maintain exercise. Keep track of what you are doing, set goals regularly, and set up a support system which will cheer you on and encourage you to continue.

Do you have other tips? Share them with me and our readers in the comments below!

Author: Stanley L. Chapman, PhD – Emory Bariatric Center

Makeover your Exercise Routine for Maximum Fat Loss

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric CenterIt is well known that when you reduce your calorie intake, you will lose even more weight if you exercise too.  More exercise is always better than some and some is better than none at all.  But what does more mean?  How much do we really need to exercise to lose weight and improve our health?  A 2009 study found that people who did 225-420 minutes a week of moderately vigorous exercise lost the greatest amount of weight.  This same study also found that exercise is the best way to keep weight off that you have already lost.  People who were able to maintain their weight loss, exercised for 150-250 minutes a week.

So we now know how much time to devote to exercise, but what kind of exercise should we do?  The short answer is any exercise that you enjoy so that you keep doing it.  For the long answer, let’s take a look at this Ultimate Metabolic and Calorie Burning Makeover, adapted from a recent lecture by exercise expert, Len Kravitz, PhD.

Importance of Warming-Up Before Working Out

Warming up for 5-10 minutes before your workout increases blood flow to your muscles for better performance.  It also gets your carbohydrate and fat enzymes going.  Translation: you will burn more calories and fat during your workout if you warm up first!

Cardiovascular Calorie Burn

After your warm-up, increase the intensity by 10-15 percent (this can mean going faster, increasing incline, etc.) and continue for 4 minutes.  Increase your intensity again by 10-15 percent for 4 minutes.  Continue this pattern until you have reached your moderately vigorous intensity level.  Maintain this for as long as you feel comfortable.  Then decrease the intensity by 10-15 percent for 4 minutes, and again another decrease for 4 minutes until you reach your original intensity level.

Weight Training Burns Fat!

It was once thought that weight training was only good for strengthening and building muscle.  Turns out we also burn fat during weight training and up to 2 hours after our workout is finished!  Try this regimen: Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions (lifts) at 85% of the maximum amount of weight you can lift.  Rest for only 90 second between sets.

References:

Donnelly, JE. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain in adults. J Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009, vol. 41, 459-469.

Herrera, L and Kravitz, L. Yes! You do burn fat during resistance exercise. IDEA Fitness J. 2009, vol. 6, 17-19.

What Roles does Watching TV Play in Weight Gain?

Watching TV Cause Weight GainBeware of too much television viewing!  Published in the journal Obesity, a 2006 study by Raynor and colleagues examined the relationship between weight and viewing of television, VCRs, and/or DVDs.  Their subjects included 1422 subjects who had just joined the National Weight Control Registry.  In order to join the Registry, each subject had to have reported losing at least 30 pounds and maintaining that weight loss for at least a year.  One interesting fact emerged right away from information gleaned from these subjects:  they had not been frequent television watchers at the time they joined the Registry.  Only 12.5% reported watching television for three hours per day or more, and 38.5% reported doing so for less than 10 hours per week, versus an average television watching time of 28 hours per week for the American public at large.  One wonders if the low television viewing may have contributed to the subjects’ losing enough weight to qualify for joining the Registry.

The authors found that the subjects who watched the most television gained significantly more weight back in the year after joining the Registry than those who watched the least.  In addition, those who increased their television watching during the succeeding year gained more than those who did not, particularly if they also reduced their level of physical activity.  Specifically, subjects who increased television watching while decreasing physical activity averaged gaining back 9.0 pounds during the year, versus an average weight gain of 2.2 pounds for those who increased physical activity and reduced television watching.

These results are not too surprising.  After all, the great increase in the incidence of obesity in the last 20-30 years has been associated in time with a greatly increased role of television, VCRs/DVDs, and computers in the daily lives of most Americans.  We have become a largely sedentary culture, with so many means of entertainment for which we primarily sit and do not move.

This study did not provide a definitive answer for why television watching is associated with weight regain.  Certainly, low physical activity is one factor, but when level of physical activity was held constant, subjects who watched a lot of television or increased their watching still gained more weight over the course of the year than those who did not.  Snacking during watching television may be a culprit; many people who gain weight report a tendency to snack a lot, particularly with high-calorie and high-fat food and at night.  If people get used to eating in front of the television, the mere act of turning it on may become a learned cue for desiring and eating food.

These results challenge all of us to consider how watching television (or, for that matter, engaging in other sedentary entertainment such as using the computer) might affect our own ability to maintain or extend weight loss in the long-term.  Do such activities take us away from the physical exercise needed for success?  Has the television or the computer become a conditioned cue for overeating? If so, how can we combat these effects?

The best ways to prevent weight gain associated with sedentary entertainment vary from person to person, but several ideas may be helpful.  One might be to combine television watching with exercise, perhaps with a treadmill or stationary bicycle.  Another might be to arrange regular exercise on a schedule, or to make sedentary entertainment contingent on completing a certain amount of exercise each day.  You might also consider how to reduce calorie intake in front of the television or computer, perhaps by making a rule to eat only at the table, or to eat only prepared low-calorie snacks.  Using the three behavioral principles of self-monitoring, goal-setting, and support may also be helpful.  You are likely to benefit from keeping track of what you eat in front of the television or computer, setting specific and realistic goals for such eating, and/or enlisting the help of your support system to encourage you while you work on behavioral change.

Related Resources:

Reference:  Raynor, DA, Phelan, S, Hill, JO, & Wing, RR.  Television viewing and long-term weight maintenance results from the National Weight Control Registry.  Obesity, 2006, vol. 14, 1816-1824.

Embark on a Great Grain Adventure!

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric CenterPeople often say that eating healthy is boring but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Bring some adventure to your plate by incorporating grains from across the globe. Using multiple whole food sources to get your necessary nutrients provides many health benefits.

About a quarter of our plates should be filled up with starches, including whole grains. The world provides us with a plethora of great grain options to keep us healthy and provide variety. Travel the globe through eating grains that are native to other countries and banish the boring. Here are two grain options to start your adventure.

great-grain

Teff – is a grass native to Ethiopia with small seeds which cook quickly. The teff flour is traditionally used to make injera bread and now is used as a grain side dish in cultures in Europe and the US. Teff is an adaptable grain, thriving in both drought and waterlogged soil environments.


Millet
- Millet is the name given to a number of different small seed grains grown widely around the world. There are many varieties of millet with Pearl Millet being the most widely used variety. India is the largest producer of millet, with it often eaten as a popped snack, where as in the US, people often feed millet to birds! Americans are now giving millet a second look and seeing the value in consuming it themselves. Millet is a gluten-free grain and therefore can be consumed by people with Celiac disease. Millet contains high levels of magnesium, niacin, B6, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc; however, millet needs to be roasted or germinated before boiling to get the most out of these nutrients. The protein in millet is similar to that in wheat. Millet is often cooked as porridge or with a stew and made into bread and crepes.Teff is a very nutritious grain being a good source of fiber, niacin, iron, thiamin, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and protein. Containing all 9 essential amino acids, it is considered a complete protein. It is also a gluten-free product so it can be eaten by people with Celiac disease.