I was recently asked to lead a 16 week weight loss program for the hospital employees at my work. I quickly became really excited and started planning out my curriculum, committing to writing about topics in nutrition, stress management, physical activity, sleep, and healthy lifestyle changes as it relates to weight loss over the next 16 weeks. Because I am so excited about these topics, I want to make these tips available to my blog readers! I hope you decide to join us on these next 16 weeks.
Week 1: Introduction to a Real Food Diet
I hate the word diet…. Diets don’t work. They denote deprivation, hunger, restriction, inflexibility, mood swings, etc. To top it all off, 95% of people fail on diets and regain all their weight or more. That’s why I want you to forget about your diet mentality while doing this weight loss challenge. I get it, you want to lose weight, you want to win the jackpot, but the most important thing for me is that you be healthier, have more energy, a better mood, and fewer cravings. And believe me, the weight loss will come too! But I’m hoping to equip you with tools to develop a lifestyle around food and to help you be in that 5% that loses weight and doesn’t regain it back, while focusing on all those other benefits I mentioned.
The national weight control registry is a group of people who have lost 30 lbs and kept it off for a year or more. In fact, I encourage you to sign up for this registry once you have lost your weight. Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
Secrets to their success include:
Food proportions and combinations: Know your SANE score, get the C.R.A.P. out of your diet, and the 30/30/40 rule
The first thing you need to do is to take the CRAP out of your diet. Taking these ingredients/foods out of your diet will put you on the path to clean eating and boost your metabolism.
C = Chemicals you don’t use in your own kitchen. Words like: azodicarbonamide, carrageenan, potassium bromate, soy isolate, brominated vegetable oil, and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil.
R = Refined sugar and flour. Look for words like refined flour, enriched wheat, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and anything ending in –ose (sucrose, maltose, dextrose….etc)
A = Artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors. Words like caramel coloring, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, dyes, diacetyl, and just plain “artificial flavoring.”
P = Preservatives. Words like: sodium nitrate/nitrite, BHA, TBHQ, BHT, heptyl paraben, and propyl gallate.
A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. Suffice it to say that 100 calories of sweet potato will behave quite differently in your body than 100 calories of candy, even though they are both carbs. One cup of sweet potatoes contains 38433 IU of vitamin A (769% of the daily value), 39.2 mg of vitamin C (65% of the daily value) and is a very good source of the mineral manganese, while also being a fantastic source of fiber. Fiber is the main component in foods that makes you feel full and helps regulate your blood sugar. The sweet potato takes more mechanical energy to chew and to process than the readily available sugar from the candy. Thus, you burn more calories from eating the sweet potato. So I want to implore you to think of food as information for your body and not just food or calories. With every bite, you can either do harm or good for your body. Think of every food having a SANE score.
S = Satiety: How quickly the calories fill you up and how long they keep you full. Typically, foods with higher water content, higher fiber content, and higher protein content are the most satisfying and filling.
A = Aggression: How likely the calories are to be stored as body fat. (Simple carbs > complex carbs > fat > protein).
N = Nutrition: How many nutrients – vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids – the calories provide. Which foods have the highest nutrient density per calorie? Think non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, and sustainably raised meat.
E = Efficiency: How many of the calories can be stored as body fat. I.e. When you eat 100 calories of almonds, only a percentage of that is consumed because it takes calories to breakdown and use the calories in the almonds compared to the candy. Thus, the net calories in the almonds are less than 100 calories.
Need more proof that a calorie is not a calorie?
· Research at Cornell University split people into groups, each eating 1,800 calories a day. The group who ate the higher-quality calories lost 86.5% more body fat than the “typical” dieters – even though they ate the same calories.
· A similar study at the U.S. Naval Hospital revealed that simply by altering the quality of food consumed (NOT the number of calories), test subjects lost twice as much body fat in just 10 days.
The secret to losing weight is NOT to eat LESS food, but rather to eat MORE higher-quality (SANE) food. You should not be hungry! SANE cheat sheet!
Food Combinations and hunger and weight loss:
Every time you eat carbs, your body releases insulin. Insulin acts to store sugar as fat in your body's cells. Insulin also inhibits fat breakdown, making it harder to lose weight. I will often recommend that people check their blood sugar before and 2 hours after a meal to monitor their blood sugar and make sure it’s within range (even non-diabetics).
What happens when you eat a lot of carbs: (A reader’s digest article where I discuss the subject can be found here)
You get wide fluctuations in your blood sugar: Sugar isn't the only thing that will spike your blood sugar - refined carbohydrates, a fancy word to denote carbs that don't have much fiber, and starches break down very quickly to sugar in the body and can cause highs in your blood sugar. Now just like Newton's law of what comes up must go down, your body secretes insulin in response to all the sugar, leading to blood sugar lows. Avoid: candy, sweets, soda, juice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Limit: White bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, and alcohol. When in doubt, look for foods that have at least 3 grams of fiber and that their grams of sugar are less than their grams of fiber plus grams of protein.
You're irritably moody - When your blood sugar falls, you might feel a "crash" - tired, irritable and shaky. The more carbs you eat, the more variations in your blood sugar and your mood. Do your family a favor and add some peanut butter or cheese to your carbs.
You're a sugar addict - Sugar, Salt, and Fat increase dopamine which excites the brain. Sugar is the biggest culprit of this. When you eat foods with sugar or refined carbs, your brain lights up and stays that way giving you constant food cravings. This is very similar to the excitement the brain receives from drugs and alcohol. The solution? Eat whole foods found in nature without excess amounts of sugar.
You're always hungry:
Did you know that you can actually become hungrier after you eat refined carbs? Your body's response to low blood sugar is hunger. So if you eat more carbs, chances are you will have a lot more fluctuations in your blood sugar and feel even hungrier after your blood sugar crashes in less than an hour. If you ignore the hunger and don't eat, your blood sugar remains low until your next meal. At this time, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, leading you to overeat at your next meal.
You can't seem to lose weight despite restricting your calories - Every time you eat carbs, your body releases insulin. Insulin acts to store sugar as fat in your body's cells. Insulin also inhibits fat breakdown, making it harder to lose weight.
You gain weight at the sight of carbs - For the reasons mentioned above, if you eat too many carbs and are not restricting your calories, eating too many carbs can lead to weight gain.
You're sluggish and drained despite getting a good night's sleep - Consuming carbs, particularly refined carbs and starches, can provide a short-term rush of energy. But once your body releases insulin to help regulate your blood-sugar levels, the swift removal of those carbs (now turned into sugar) into your muscles, liver and other organs can leave you feeling lethargic and tired. The solution? Look for carbs high in fiber and/or pair your carbs with protein or other fiber-rich foods.
Your cholesterol is through the roof - Carb consumption from refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and low in fiber, is associated with lower levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol) and higher levels of LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides, which is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Very high carbohydrate intakes of more than 60 percent of total calories -- along with excess sugar consumption -- are associated with an increase in triglycerides, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. A 2005 OmniHeart study by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions compared three diets that emphasized either protein, unsaturated fat or carbohydrate and found that the protein and unsaturated fat diets were more effective in reducing the risk factors for heart disease than the high-carbohydrate diet.
A bit about choosing carbs: Not all carbs are bad, in fact, we need carbs for energy. But most of us don't need as many as we eat and we eat the type of carbs void of the "good stuff" that keeps our blood sugar, hunger, and mood in check. This "good stuff" is fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
When possible, substitute the refined carbs for healthier carbs. There are the obvious switches such as substituting white rice for brown rice and white bread for whole wheat bread. But you can also expand to include other high fiber grains such as quinoa, millet, and sorghum. This could be substituting spaghetti squash for spaghetti (42 vs 221 calories per cup), cauliflower mash for mashed potatoes (70 vs 120 calories per cup), kale chips for chips (50 vs 160 calories/cup), or collards/lettuce wrap for a tortillas (30 vs 300 calories per 2 wraps). The list is endless as pureed fruit makes (9 calories per 2 tbs) a good substitute for pancake syrup (104 calories/2 tbs) and brewed chai tea (0 calories) or turmeric golden milk (127 calories) makes a good substitute for an overly sweetened chai latte from Starbucks (240 calories). Also, be aware of your drinks! Sugar-sweetened beverages, not traditionally thought of as a carb, act like a refined carbohydrate in your body. Limit your consumption of soda, juice, flavored coffee drinks, and alcohol or substitute with fruit infused or sparkling water.
If unable to sub out the refined carbs, pair them with another food that is either high in protein or healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocado, lean meat or dairy.
So how do we track that we are getting the right nutrient composition? My favorite app for doing this is MyFitnessPal, also Loseit! Is another great app.
30/30/40 Rule: 30% calories from protein, 30% calories from fat, 40% calories from carbs; easy to track using MyFitnessPal app or online tool!
Hint: Focus on eating protein at every meal and snack!
More -->Goals --> Calorie and Macronutrient Goals --> update percentages to 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat
The Plate Method: Another way to look at the 30/30/40 rule
This week, try to make your proportions closer to the 30/30/40. Weight loss jump-start: try substituting your starch portion for starchy vegetables (i.e. sweet potato, squash, beets, carrots, turnips).
Some ideas for breakfasts: http://greatist.com/eat/healthy-breakfast-cup-recipes-to-fuel-your-mornings (except save the French toast one for a special treat)
Some lunch ideas: http://greatist.com/eat/paleo-lunch-recipes
Some Dinner Crockpot ideas: http://greatist.com/eat/paleo-crock-pot-recipes
1) Log your foods using MyFitnessPal, Loseit, or on paper (make sure you update your proportions to the 30/30/40 rule)
2) Try to eliminate the CRAP from your diet
3) Think about the SANE score when choosing your foods