Posts Tagged ‘Weight loss’

ID-100128822You can hit that gym for 3 hours burning over 2,000 calories, or walk your dog around the block…depending on your fitness level, you still need to think about what to eat to recover after intense activity so you can keep yourself in top shape without turning into a zombie the following day.  It is recommended to have protein for muscle recovery and carbs/fat to replenish energy storage 30 minutes after activity.  Don’t assume that because you have SOME protein you will ‘bulk up’ as it is just as important for recovery as it is for muscle building. Here are a few good options for post workout recovering, or to recoup after shoveling all that snow:

  • Eggs – 1 large egg contain only 70 calories with almost 7 grams of protein. Pair some eggs up with kale, tomatoes, onions and avocado, and you have a super nutritious meal that will fill you up, and is surprisingly healthy.
  • Hummus and Pita – Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) have both protein and carbs, plus when blended with olive oil and tahini, you have a very dense mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.  Remember that this is a bit calorically dense, but since you just used up a bunch of energy, this is the perfect time to add energy back.
  • Trail Mix – Nuts for protein and fats, fruit for carbs, trail mix is natures candy! It also has the benefit of being portable…so mix your own and take it with you.  Pairing nuts with dried blueberries and banana will also keep your immune systems in tip-top form.
  • Quinoa – It is super trendy AND super healthy with even more nutrients than brown rice, plus the added fiber will keep you fuller longer.  It can be eaten hot or cold and can be snuck in meals anytime of the day.
  • Protein Shake – You may or may not consider this an option, but protein shakes have been specifically formulated for muscle growth, recovery, and storage.  However, make sure you do not overdue it, as you may be gaining weight in either muscle, or fat form.  You need no more than 20 to 40 grams depending on the type of activity you just finished.  Also make sure you have carbs in the mix to replenish your energy as well.
  • Stir Fry – Many people are very hungry after workouts, but as stated before, don’t assume you can eat truckloads of food. For those of us who like the ‘full’ feeling, its a good idea to bulk on on the low calorie veggies, with the addition of protein (shrimp, chicken, tofu…) and some whole grains.  Sodium is an electrolyte that needs to be replenished if you worked up a good sweat, so a little soy sauce doesn’t hurt either.
  • The Salad – Maybe not smothered is super high fat dressing or made with 50% cheese, but a well planned salad full of colors, crunchy nuts and seeds, and even some dried fruit would be an excellent choice after raking up all those leaves.
  • Sandwiches – Protein and carbs in sandwich form.  Easy to make, easy to carry, but tasty to eat!

There are 1,000’s of other options, so comment with your favorite post-activity meal or snack!

Random chubby guy eating pizza. Ooohhh the irony...

Random chubby guy eating pizza. Ooohhh the irony…

Like I said before, I like to feel full when I eat.  This causes a problem when also on a calorie restricted diet!  Here is a list of low calorie food options that you should add to your diet to pack in the VOLUME of food you want, with a low amount of calories!

  • Arugula – The is a peppery flavored leafy green packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  There are also some findings that dark leafy greens improve your libido. (Wink wink, nudge nudge…know what I mean?!)
  • Cabbage – The darker green and brighter purple the better.  Very affordable, great crunchy texture, and contains properties that may reduce your risk of cancer and stink up your house when cooked.
  • Kale – You have seen, and will see this ingredient popping up more and more on menus and store shelves.  It has been classified as one of the best super-foods, which means it packs an amazing nutritional punch with very little calories. You can also call yourself a hipster while eating it.
  • Beets – A slightly sweet, earthy vegetable with beautiful color and rich in iron, potassium, and folate.  It is also growing on the ‘trendy’ side by being added to veggie burgers, and new improved salads. Dr. Dre would be proud.
  • Cauliflower – Another great source of vitamin C and folate, this vegetable is wonderful in place of mashed potatoes, used in indian curry dishes, and a whole head can be sliced into planks and grilled for cool presentations.
  • Mushrooms – No matter if you use standard button mushrooms, or branch out into the hundreds of varieties available, mushrooms are low in calories but are full of immune-boosting antioxidants.  They also contain the elusive UMAMI flavor profile which will add some savory meat flavor to your recipes.
  • Tomatoes – Real tomatoes are actually very low in calories! It is only when we associate they with pizza, ketchup, and meat sauce do they pack in the calories.  Tomatoes contain all those healthy vitamins and minerals you are looking for plus some natural sweetness.
  • Zucchini – This squash is VERY low in calories while being VERY easy to grow in your own garden. It is pack with vitamin A and is a tasty treat raw, or cooked. Call them courgettes to be extra fancy.
  • Egg whites – 1 whole cup of egg whites has about 120 calories and 26 grams of protein. HHHMMM maybe make an omelet with all the above ingredients mixed together?!?!?
  • Cod – This is a mild white fish that is very high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Since it is so mild, it will easily blend with any other flavors you add to it.
  • Bison – If you are a red meat fan, grass fed bison is actually a healthier option due to minimal fat marbling, and it contains just as much omega-3 fatty acids as salmon. It also contains even fewer fat calories, and lower cholesterol than skinless chicken! Also, Dances With Wolves is a must watch 😉
  • Fat-free cottage cheese – You can get about 11g of protein for a half cup serving with only 70 calories.  This type of protein is digested very fast, so it is perfect for recuperating after a tough workout.
  • Coffee/tea – It is only when you blend with heavy cream, sugar, whipped cream, honey, chocolate syrup, and caramel do these beverages become high in calories.  There is also, of course, caffein which has been shown to improve your calorie burning thru the day, but still does not increase the quality of your work, or make that morning meeting any better.

Now before you yell at me…yes I know there are plenty of other healthy, low calorie food options (feel free to post your favorites!)  Before you troll my post…yes I know there are other, more nutrient dense foods like fruits, whole grains, legumes, and all that fun stuff.  Before you comment with your biased opinion…yes I know you feel that processed foods are to blame for being fat, and you should eat clean.  Before you post about your vegan, paleo, or gluten-free diet…maybe this post isn’t for you.  Read the title and you will get it 🙂

p.s. There is no spoon…

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This post will not involve lining your pockets with bricks or chugging water right before your initial weigh-in.  If you are planning on doing a weight-loss challenge at work, school, gym, or just for yourself, why not try and do it right.  I will also not be talking about tricks for your final weigh-in to nudge past your competition.  That being said, here are a few points to have a successful and healthy weight-loss competition:

  • Have fun and be a team – Even though you want to destroy Sally in HR or make Steve in Accounting cry, you will not be successful unless you and your fellow participants are working together to achieve the goal for the greater good.  Some appropriate, motivating smack talk and competitive strategy is great, but if there are people lagging behind in the contest, motivating them will be beneficial for them AND for you.  Leading a weight-loss charge makes a fun and exciting challenge right through the final weigh-in and beyond.
  • Plan ahead – Do you have a big lunch meeting scheduled and feel obligated to eat? Plan ahead by reviewing the menus online to find an appropriate meal that fits within your diet restrictions.  Will you not have time to run out for lunch tomorrow?  Make sure you have a supply of healthy and readily available foods at home to bring for lunch or if you are traveling.
  • Read your food label or menu – Nutritional callouts like ‘low-fat’, ‘low-carb’, or ‘cholesterol-free’ don’t necessarily mean LOW-CALORIE.  Make sure you are eating the appropriate type of foods for whatever your dietary goals might be.  Do a little research into the ingredients used to make your choices.  Understand what a real portion size is as it relates to the ‘per serving’ ingredient and nutritional labeling.  Some choices may be better than others in some circumstances, however it might not be appropriate for YOUR diet.   For instance, olive oil has more health benefits compared to butter, however both are fats which contain about 9cal/gram, meaning they both have the same amount of calories, and if you are on a calorie restrictive diet, supplementation is not as good as reduction.
  • Keep Eating – Metabolism is a tricky thing, however if you don’t eat enough calories, your body will shut down and you will not lose any weight.  Take a look at my previous post on metabolism to understand how  it works.
  • You have time to work out – Anyone who says they have no time to workout is lying.  In the morning before work, at lunch, right after work, while traveling, with your family or co-workers are all possible as long as you plan accordingly.  When you have limited time, a quick, high intensity workout is going to separate the losers from the real-losers.
  • Weight-loss diet is temporary, weight-maintain diet is permanent – There is nothing worse than losing a whole bunch of weight, only to put it back on after the competition.  You have to remember that once you reach your weight-loss goals, your diet needs to evolve into a weight-maintain diet.  Read my previous post about the weight-maintain diet and make sure you adjust accordingly so you don’t bounce back.
  • Write it down – Keeping track of your food and beverage consumption can really put into perspective what your calorie and nutrient intake is like.  Writing down meal plans, exercise schedule, or list of appropriate foods for your diet allows you to stay on track without losing focus on your goals.
What are some of your tips for a successful weigh-loss challenge???

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For those who are just starting out on their diet adventure, unlike what most personal trainers and nutritionist say , your restrictive diet and exercise plan is only temporary! Too often, people do not adjust their plans after achieving their goals.  After you have shed those unwanted pounds or even start to see the outlines of what almost could be a six-pack, you have to adjust your eating habits and exercise schedule for your next goal.

I recommend that starting out (assuming you are in the weight/fat loss stage,) you consume a low fat/lower calorie volumetric diet as well as an exercise plan based around using your fat stores as energy.  You will want to eat a lot of low calorie but nutritionally dense foods to keep you full and energized (chicken, lean fish, vegetables, whole grains…) along with more frequent, smaller meals.  You will want an exercise regiment consisting of 30 to 45 minute activities followed by a small intake of calories.  If you like to spend a lot of time at the gym, make sure you are still consuming calories every 30 to 45 minutes which will keep your body using some of your stored fat along with the protein/carbs you are consuming (see my previous metabolism post.)

The wonderful part about this plan is when you do finally hit your target goal…lets say you lose the 30 pounds of fat you didn’t want, you can now switch your diet to more of a weight maintain version of your previous plan.  Along with adding back some of the fat you removed, you can now be a bit more lenient overall and increase some of your portion sizes.  At this point you will also be increasing the difficultly of your workout (same routine but faster paced or increased weight and reps).  This ALSO means that you will have more muscle mass, and will be burning more calories, which ALSO means you can eat more calories throughout the day and still maintain your current weight!

This applies to both men and women.  Women do not have to be bulky to increase there muscle mass and benefit from this type of diet plan.  I feel that this system overall help with those fluctuating dieters who try to stick to a super intensive plan only to fall off the wagon and have to start over again.  This plan rewards you by allowing you to eat more food as time goes on.  It also stresses more of the exercise portion to be the buffer when you feel like a sunday afternoon BBQ feast.

Do you have any tips or trick for anyone looking to follow this type of diet/exercise plan?

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I like to eat, and I like to be full!

This weight reducing diet is what helped me lose a good portion of the weight I have dropped over the last few years.  This diet is not for everyone, and has some conflicting theories to traditional diet plans.  I personally feel that this weight loss diet is a good way to learn about caloric density of food, to train yourself to eat more meals throughout the day, and is the perfect supplement for those of us who can eat like it’s our job. (For some of us..it is our job)

Basically, this diet plan involves being able to eat larger volumes of food, as long as the food has very low caloric density.  To put this into perspective, place a 100 calorie slice of pizza next to 100 calories worth of celery, and you will see the difference.  Again, in my opinion, I like the idea of eating food until I am full, not eating a specific amount of calories per meal.  However, you will have to do work upfront to understand which foods will fit into a low caloric density category:

  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Lean meats and seafood
  • Broth based soups and sauces
  • Fruits with high water content

High caloric density foods would be items like:

  • Fats, oils, butters
  • Nuts
  • Candy and soda
  • White flour or high starch based foods

This diet also promotes relatively high fiber content which can slow down how fast your body absorbs calories.  Brown rice, whole grains, and certain fruits will allow you to stay full longer, which makes timing your meals much easier.  Any doctor or nutritionist will tell you that a diet lower in fat and calories with an increase of lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grain is a winning combination.

There are of course a few tidbits of info I am going to bring up which have helped me along the way that everyone might not agree with.

  • First of all, SALT CONTAINS NO CALORIES! You can argue all day long, but salt itself has negligible caloric density, and since you will be eating a low fat diet (fat being flavor) I recommend using salt to compensate for this. Yes, salt with increase your water weight, but that is not FAT and can be flushed out with physical activity. There are of course other health concerns involving a high sodium diet, but physical activity can counter act those negative effects.
  • Which brings up my second point, physical activity. Starting out, you wont be running marathons, but as time goes on you should be increasing your physical activity as you become more ‘fit’. At the same time, you can start to slowly transition from very low caloric density foods and incorporate other items like nuts, healthy fats, and caloric dense fruits. Once you build up your ability to burn calories, you can start being a little more lenient on your diet.
  • Fat is fat is fat.  Yes I know that olive oil is more ‘healthy’ than butter HOWEVER when speaking about caloric density, they are the same. Fat contains 9 calories per gram if it’s olive oil, corn oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, butter or margarin. Starting out, you will want to limit your overall fat intake. Once you increase your physical activity, you can then start incorporating these healthy fats back into your diet, as well as reducing some salt intake since fat is the greatest thing to happen to food since bacon.
  • This diet is not designed for you to drop 10 pounds in a day. You need to stick this out and try to lose 2 or so pounds a week. This is much easier to do while also being full.  This is also not the type of diet to weigh yourself every day. The good part is you get to eat a large volume of food…the not so good part is your weigh will fluctuate more day by day.
  • This diet is made to fight boredom. Many people eat for comfort, boredom, or out of habit. If thats the case, grabbing those low caloric density foods is perfect compared to grabbing that bag of chips. Loading your fridge with fresh veggies and low-calorie dressing (SALT SALT SALT) make them a convenience food as well!

There are some fundamentals of the Atkins diet that can apply here as well, but I do not believe in a carbohydrate free diet.  The nature of humans is to use fat AND carbs as energy, but choosing the right carbohydrates at the right time is key.

If you like being full, enjoy finishing your plate, not necessarily following a calorie counting diet, or are a boredom eater, this might be the diet plan for you!

Please feel free to comment with questions other useful information!

Here is a quick explanation on how metabolism works in regards to your diet.  Yes, many factors affect your overall metabolism (age, sex, muscle, physical activity), but this analogy will discuss why smaller meals more frequent is the way to go for successful weight loss.

  • YOU ARE A MACHINE – You are a car.  You run on fuel, and get a certain amount of miles per gallon (this is your metabolism).  Some gas is better than others, however for this explanation,  we are converting gas into general calories.  So to sum it up, the amount of miles you travel compared to how much gas you have in the car will represent how well your metabolism is working.
  • RAN OUT OF GAS – Let say you have no gas in your car.  Your car will, of course, not move.  It is a fact that when you consume little to no calories, your metabolism is inactive.  Your body will stop utilizing gas (calories) as its energy, and start breaking down the internal car parts to move.  I don’t think I have to tell you that this is bad.  Many people who are on a very calorie restrictive diet who also work out a lot will find it hard to lose weight because your body is trying to hold on to as much as it can to function normally, while using what it does’t think is important as energy. YOUR CAR WON’T MOVE WITHOUT GAS.
  • TO MUCH GAS – Your car has a gas tank that can expand and can hold WAY more gas than it needs.  You can fill it up as much as you want, and your car will work VERY hard, but your car will move SLOWLY.  All of that gas is weighing your car down and decreasing your miles per gallon.  You are producing excess exhaust and making your engine parts dirty.  Overfilling your gas tank will cause some gas to spill out and unfortunately, your car absorbs this excess weight as ‘hard to use gas’ aka…fatty fat fat.  YOU DON’T NEED ALL THAT GAS.
  • JUST RIGHT – When you fill up your gas tank just enough to get to your next destination, you win.  You have found that happy medium of the right amount of gas for the right amount of miles. When you are traveling, and you are running out of gas in this mode, you will coast to the next gas station to refuel (coasting is my way of saying fat/weight loss).  You are getting the best miles per gallon because you are not being weighed down, and you have gas to move.  Your parts are running very efficiently and your system know how to handle the waste.  For longer road trips, you can add more gas to the tank, but just enough to handle the extended distance. JUST ENOUGH GAS IS GOOD.

As stated earlier, this is in regards to your diet.  If you have a high tech car with super premium gas, you will have better performance.  Certain model cars just work better than other.  Upgrading your car parts will increase its ability to run.  Now how hard is that to understand???

Eat smaller meals more often Speed-Racer!

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