Mar 22, 2014

Eating to Lose Weight

Everyone knows that food is a huge part of losing weight or staying in shape and there are many trains of thought in reference to it.  There are many ratios about food versus exercise such as diet is 75% and exercise is 25%.  Or food is 30% and exercise is 70%. 

Some people like to cut carbs (carbohydrates), some people like to cut fat and others like to cut sugar, soda or whatever else they deem to be 'bad' and it all equates to the same thing:  Cleaning up the diet to reach a goal.  It may be a weight loss goal or it may be a goal to become healthier.  Personally, I don't like to cut stuff from my diet.  In another blog I talked about clean eating where I consumed all items that were marked "low calorie", "low or reduced fat" or "fat free".  I did pretty well for a while like that and then one day I became a binge eater.  Plus those types of foods usually have some type of chemical enhancement to achieve that.  Not that I NEVER eat additives or chemically processed items but I try to limit it here and there to make up for the crap I do eat... or drink ha!

Eating consistently cleaner, lighter and healthier will give way to desired results. By no means am I saying this is easy... I know it is NOT. That is why I always keep veggies at the house and eat lots of them. (my choices are limited to what is in the house) They are fiber and nutrient dense which is a great way to fill up on something beneficial to the body and keep the calorie content low. Avoiding drowning them in butter, sauce or dips will also keep calorie content low. It is important for them to be flavorful or nobody will want to eat them (including you or me) so experimenting with different seasonings can be a great idea. I like Cajun, garlic, sea salt and black pepper for main staples and for certain veggies I like to add oregano, rosemary and Italian seasoning. Oh, and lemon juice is a great way to reduce the amount of sodium if you are someone who loves salt.

Pointers about veggies:

1.  Try to remember that high starch means high carbs and usually more sugar as well.  Carbs come in the form of pasta, wheat, oats, rice, bread, potatoes and fruit as well as in vegetables.  Again, we need them in order to function and it helps our body deliver nutrients to the brain.  Every person's needs may vary based on their level of activity and physical fitness - and, of course, genetics.  Experimenting with fruits and veggies that you like as well as what works well for you is always best.  And, as always, gotta check with the doc before starting any new diet or workout plans.

2.  Limit the amount of starchy veggies because these are higher in calories and carbs so non-starchy vegetables are going to be better choices and you can fill up on 'em guilt free!  As long as they taste good, right?  (see above paragraph)  Examples of higher carbohydrate veggies are edamame which have 15 grams of carbs and 189 calories in 1 cup.  I know I am not getting full on one cup of edamame... but they are good.  Corn has 123 grams of carbs and 77 calories per serving.  Holy carbs!!  A person maintaining their weight could eat 100-150 grams of carbs a day.  Green beans have 31 calories and 7 grams of carbs in one cup.  This means I can eat twice the amount of green beans and still have less calories and a little bit less carbs.  Remember, your body needs carbs and calories so do not be afraid to eat them, just be wise.  Broccoli is another good example of a veggie to eat a lot of because it has about 50 calories and 10 carbs in a serving.  This is the kind of ratio I am talking about!  One of my personal favs is asparagus but I do not want to bore you with listing every single food choice there is.

As a weight loss consultant at Jenny Craig, I boasted that a person did not have to work out if they chose not to.  Some people do not want to work out.  Ever.  While others work out a little to moderately and some worked out vigorously.  It is also important to mention the category of individuals who may have an injury that prevents them to work out. What do they do? 
Good question!  Regardless of a person's level of activity, there is hope.  Remember, each person is different and all of our bodies are different.  We all require different numbers of calories to fuel our bodies.  Some require a lot and some require little.  Either way, there is hope for everyone.  The difficult part is figuring out what works the best for you

I think food is 75-80% of the ratio.  With working out being only 25-30% of the equation.  This is based on personal experience and by witnessing clients who had reached their goals with little or no physical activity.

Some guidelines to go by are to incorporate fruits and veggies.  Another is to watch portions.  Most foods are labeled with what a serving size is which requires measuring.  Measuring is one of my favorite tips. 

Portions at restaurants are almost always more than a serving.  They can even be 3-6x an actual serving.  Take a look at the above picture.  This is cashew chicken with TONS of veggies, which is great, but the plate is huuuuge.  Take a look at the pic below and notice how much of a difference it looks like on the plate in a normal size serving.  I like to feel like I am getting seconds so I put a small amount on my plate (a little bit smaller than a serving size) and then if I love what I am eating soooo much that I just have to have more, then I can.  Also, look at that heaping plate of rice noodles.  That is probably 6 servings of noodles.... that is waaaay to much to even eat half of the plate. 

Have you ever looked at the serving of a piece of cake on a boxed cake?  Or brownies?  Who eats 1/16 of a brownie or 1/12 of a cake?!  The same goes for pasta.  It is comical to see the actual size a serving should be of pasta.  If we are eating more than the serving size, we are eating more calories.  If the body takes in more calories than it needs, it stores it in the fat cells for later use.  If not used, it stays right where it is.

I have learned that I do pretty well with carbs in the morning and afternoon.  My evening carbs come in the form of veggies but usually not pasta or bread.  Is this always my rule of thumb?  Not anymore.  It has not been for a few years now.  It is more of a general rule of thumb.  Something I practice most of the time.  I have realized it is OK to have the things I like when I want them, in moderation.  I used to have cheat (or treat) meals 1-2x per week.  I still do that but, admittedly, I have a bite of chocolate here and there in between -thanks to the bf  :)

In addition to paying attention to portion sizes, it also wise to be aware of what the food is and what nutritional value it holds.  It is best to minimize the number of meals or food items that contribute little or no nutritional value to the body.  It is important to eat balanced meals.  We need protein, carbohydrates, good fats, and many other nutrients that we obtain through fruits and vegetables.  Since some veggies are higher in starches, sugars and carbs than others so it is important to be aware of this as well.

An example of a well balanced meal is the soup pictured at the beginning of this blog.  It has protein, veggies and carbs.  When losing weight, half of the plate should be veggies and a quarter meat (or whatever protein you eat), the other quarter carbs.  On days that I have more pasta or cake than I need I know it has to be balanced either with the next meal or the next day if the heavy meal was at dinner time. (right -->)

Many plates look a little more like the pic below that has more sweet potato than anything else on the plate. 

The key to losing weight is knowing what foods are good for you and also knowing which of those have higher caloric or carbohydrate values.  When they do contain higher calories then it is important to consume smaller amounts so that the daily intake does not exceed what the body needs.  More so, the daily intake should be less than what the body needs so that it can burn the stored fat.  MaryFran at Believing in Myself calls it a 'budget'.  I like that word because it does not sound restricting.  Thanks MaryFran!

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  1. Very good post. I love that you emphasised that weight loss and eating healthy is different for everyone! LOVE that!

    I eat my processed foods on occasion, but I try to steer clear of them as much as possible. I can feel a difference in my body when I'm eating natural foods that readily give me the nutrients that my body so craves!

    1. Thank you for the compliment. Sometimes I get so involved in blogging that I forget to mention everyone is different. What works for one may not work for the other.

      So true about processed vs natural foods.