How NOT to Gain Weight During the Holiday Season

Keep Weight Off During HolidaysIt is possible to maintain a steady weight during the holidays!  It is difficult but I know many people who indulge in some of the delicious holiday food and enjoy the holiday season but they are also able to brag in the New Year that they did not gain weight!

Take note of some basic things you can do to keep your waistline trim this holiday season!

Use only one plate at holiday gatherings!

It is so easy to go crazy at holiday gatherings but make sure to review the menu or the items first and take a small sample of everything you want but stick to the one plate rule.  This will allow you to enjoy the foods you want but at smaller quantities so you do not overeat.  Dessert calories add up very quickly so include that in your one plate rule as well!

Slow DOWN and taste your food!

Many of us get so excited about all the great foods that are on our plate but many of us just scarf the food down without enjoying it!  Slow down and taste your food.   Your taste buds are in your mouth, not your stomach!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Hydration is important all times of the year but especially important when we are tempted to overeat. Many times when you feel hungry you are actually just thirsty so keep a water bottle with you at all times and when you feel hungry drink 8 oz of water. If you are still feeling hungry choose snacks with high water content such as celery, watermelon or oranges.  You will know if you are hydrating properly by examining the color of your urine.  Clear to pale yellow is good.  Dark yellow means you need to drink more water.

Move that body!

During the holidays it can be hard to get your normal work out in but just because you can’t go to the gym does not mean you can’t exercise.  Grab a co-worker and go for a walk at lunch. Do some sit ups and push ups while watching TV and encourage your family to join you making a fun game of it to see who can do the most. Break up your normal workout into 2 workouts – go for a 15 minute walk at lunch and then another after work with your dog. A bike ride around the neighborhood or a few minutes on that stationary bike in basement is also a good way to burn some calories.

Manage blood sugar

Eat plenty of protein (lean meats like fish and lean chicken are good options) but also include a good amount of fiber (in fruits and veggies) to your diet to maintain proper blood sugar balance.  People tend to overeat when they starve themselves and then say they can eat what they want.  By maintaining consistent meals and snacks you are less likely to overindulge in the holiday goodies!

In summary, it is all about planning and making good choices!  If you decide what you will do before the gathering then you are more likely to stick to that plan.  Get a “party buddy” and hold each other accountable for your food choices.

I know at the time of temptation it can be hard to follow these rules but you will be so proud and thankful you did when the New Year comes and you don’t have to make that resolution to lose weight!  Your athletic goals in 2013 will be easier to accomplish if you don’t have excess weight to lose!

Check out even more holiday weight loss tips from the Emory Bariatric Center!

About Dr. John Xerogeanes

John Xerogeanes MD

John W. Xerogeanes MD, is Chief of Sports Medicine at the Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center. Known as Dr. “X” by his staff and patients, he is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University as well as an Adjunct Professor at Georgia State and Mercer University. Dr. Xerogeanes is entering his 11th year as Head Orthopaedist and Team Physician for Georgia Tech, Emory University, Agnes Scott College and the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. Dr X specializes in the care of the knee and shoulder for both male and female athletes of every age. He is Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery and has his Sub Specialty Certification in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.

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The Meatless Workout – Making Sure Vegans Get The Nutrition They Need for Exercise

vegan diet and exerciseIt turns out, a healthy vegan workout diet doesn’t differ much from a healthy omnivore workout diet. Everybody needs the same energy-sustaining fuel, and effective fuels don’t have to be meat, eggs, or dairy products.

People choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet for a multitude of reasons, and a meat-free diet can be a very healthy diet. In fact, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, appropriately planned vegetarian diets, whether vegetarian or vegan, may provide health benefits that aid in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

So how do you make sure you’re eating the right foods to keep you going strong during a workout? It’s all about getting the fuel your body needs both during and after working out, whether you’re doing cardio or strength training.

Cardiovascular workouts – High-carbohydrate foods will fuel your body for cardio. Whole-grain oats with nuts and dried fruit are a great start for a morning workout. Some other excellent high-energy vegan options are bananas, dates, potatoes, whole-grain pastas, and mixed-grain salads. Just be sure to give your body about an hour to digest each 200 calories you take in before you go for that run. And don’t forget to hydrate!

Strength-training workouts – Choose foods that are high in protein to give working muscles the amino acids they need to rebuild. A protein smoothie with berries, soy milk, and soy or hemp protein makes a tasty and quick pre-workout vegan snack. Other protein-rich foods include tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans, unrefined grains, and nuts and nut butters (like almond, cashew, and peanut). The one-hour/200-calorie rule also applies to strength training, as does the hydration.

After you exercise, be sure to replenish your body’s energy stores with high-carbohydrate, medium-protein, low-fat snacks and, of course, plenty of water. That goes for the omnivores, too.

If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, what do you eat before you exercise? Do certain foods give you more energy? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

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Vitamin D & Calcium – A Healthy Bone Building Partnership (Part I)

Our team gets lots of questions about bone health, ranging from questions like “does soda decrease my bone strength?” To “how much calcium and Vitamin D are needed to maintain bone health?” In honor of National Nutrition Month, we want to share some interesting findings from new research being conducted around Vitamin D and Calcium and suggest few ways to get more of both in your diet, if you need them.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, a division of the National Institute of Health, “low Calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates.” And while Calcium is critical in building bone health and density, Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb this Calcium. According to findings from the CDC last year, about 1/3 of all Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. So if you’re looking for ways to boost your Calcium or Vitamin D intake, where should you start? Well, first, check out the latest recommendations on Calcium and Vitamin D intake from the Institute of Medicine:

Calcium & Vitamin D Recommendations

Then, after taking a look at your own diet as it compares to these recommendations, determine whether you need more or less of either Calcium or Vitamin D in your diet. If you need more of either, below we’ve listed some sources of both Calcium and Vitamin D.

Good Sources of Vitamin D

  • Sunlight
  • Supplements
  • Food
    • Cod Liver Oil
    • Fatty Fish (Swordfish, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel)
    • Fortified Orange Juice or Milk
    • Eggs (Vitamin D is in the yolk)
    • Fortified Dairy Products & Cereals

Good Sources of Calcium:

  • Dairy Products
  • Fortified Cereals and Soy Beverages
  • Tofu
  • Spinach, Soy Beans, Beet Greens & Collards
  • White Beans

As is always the case, you should consult with your physician before changing your intake of any vitamin or nutrient, so make sure to discuss your bone health concerns with he or she at your next visit to get advice specific to your needs. If you have additional tips and ideas on Calcium, Vitamin D, or bone health, please leave them for us in the comments below!

Should I Eat Before, or After I Exercise?

exercise nutritionI myself have heard friends make unsupported claims that working out on an empty stomach is more effective, or that people should wait a certain amount of time after exercising to eat. Because I’ve been wondering whether it’s better to eat before or after I exercise, and more specifically, which foods I should be eating to support a physically active lifestyle, I reached out to our own Dr. Amadeus Mason to get answers to my questions.

My first question for Dr. Mason was:  Do you recommend eating before or after a workout? Does your recommendation change whether the workout type is cardio-based or strength training?

Dr. Mason’s answer was extremely helpful, “Eating after exercise is pretty much the standard recommendation now. But what you’re eating is actually more important than when you eat it. For people who exercise often, high carbohydrates, moderate protein levels and increased fluid intake is important.” He noted though, that “carbs are the most important.”

After hearing this, I was curious. I typically like to avoid making my diet too heavy in carbohydrates, but I trust Dr. Mason and knew that he would help clarify this concern. So I asked, what is your daily recommendation for carbohydrate intake for people who work out regularly?

Again, Dr. Mason came through with some great answers, “I recommend 6-10 g/kg/day of carbohydrates.” Wait, I thought, ‘g/kg/day!? What does that even mean!?” G/kg/day is a reference to the grams of carbohydrates a person should intake daily, depending on their weight, in kilograms. I personally don’t know my weight in kg and I’m sure I’m not the only one. If you’re looking to calculate your personal ideal g/kg/day carbohydrate number, you can convert your body weight into kg here.

Once I understood that concept, Dr. Mason broke down the details on when I should be intaking these carbohydrates. “You should consume 1/5g/kg within 30 minutes of exercising and an additional 1.5g/kg within 2 hours of your workout. You should seek to consume remaining 3-7g/kg over the course of the day.”

That’s extremely helpful information. To keep your body functioning at peak performance and make your workouts more effective, it’s really not so much about whether you eat before or after you workout as it is about what you’re eating and how you’re breaking it up. One last cool tip from Dr. Mason? “Try high carbohydrate liquids too, such as chocolate milk, which is great for supporting workouts.”

Thanks Dr. Mason for helping me answer these questions for both my own workout practices and our readers!