You heard right. By changing what you eat, you can actually lose weight! Hang on, we’ll show you how you can eat your way skinny…
There’s no doubt that physical exercise has countless proven benefits, including:
- Lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels
- Strengthening muscles and bones
- Improving mood and self-esteem
- Reducing the risks of diabetes, breast and colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
- Improving your brain’s cognitive functioning
- Boosting your energy
Exercise is an overall, natural, ‘feel-good’ therapeutic activity. However, don’t necessarily count on it to have exclusivity on weight loss success without proper nutrition.
Any good weight loss/maintenance program should involve physical exercise, but the first thing you need to get a grip on is your eating habits and how to improve them.
According to National Academy of Sports Medicine Elite Trainer Carlos Mirabal, around 80% of one’s ability to reduce excess body fat will be determined by what is consumed into his or her body. Only the remaining 20% is directly related to exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits like stress reduction and adequate sleep.
“Proper nutrition and exercise are both needed for weight loss. Proper nutrition is 80% responsible for weight loss, while 20% is exercise,” Mirabal says. “I want to make it clear that you need both to have effective weight loss. Eat right outside of the gym. Build muscle inside the gym.”
Loyola University Health System nutritionist and researcher Amy Luke concurs:
“Evidence is beginning to accumulate that dietary intake may be more important than energy expenditure level,” Luke says. “Weight loss is not likely to happen without dietary restraint.”
Registered dietician Vanessa Briggs, MBA, RD of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center offers additional insight:
“Good nutrition is vital to successful weight loss and management, and for good health,” says Briggs. “A good weight loss and management program incorporates sound nutrition practices, behavioral changes, and physical activity.”
Briggs continues, “To avoid the “yo-yo” cycles [of crash dieting, then putting the weight back on, then getting discouraged which is so typical of quick solution fad diets] and ensure adequate nutrition, a balanced diet and incorporation of proper nutrition is necessary in making a life-long commitment to adopting a healthy lifestyle.”
According to Briggs, there are three principles of proper nutrition, which include: variety, balance, and moderation. No single food group supplies all the nutrients a healthy body needs. A balanced diet, appropriate in quantity and for age/gender, does supply those needed nutrients and calories.
“Many people believe they have to deprive themselves of their favorite foods, but choosing certain foods in moderation is key to successful long-term weight loss,” she adds.
Briggs suggests the following guidelines to begin a weight loss program:
- Set a realistic initial weight loss goal. It’s reasonable to expect a reduction in body weight of approximately 10% in the first six months and be able to keep it off for one year.
- Monitor your eating habits by keeping a food journal for a period of one or two weeks to familiarize yourself with your eating habits: how much you are eating, where, why, with whom, and what mood are you in when you eat. You can keep track by registering with www.dietwatch.com .
- If you are eating a 2000 kcal/day diet or more, reduce your caloric intake by 500 – 1000 kcal/day to promote a safe weight loss of 1- 2 pounds/week. Do not starve yourself. Avoid rapid weight loss and its dangerous side effects such as light-headedness.
- Use the Food Guide Pyramid to plan your meals so that you select foods from all six food groups.
- Read the Nutrition Facts Food Labels. Pay special attention to the fat, sodium, and carbohydrate content when shopping, especially if you have cardiovascular and/or diabetes risk factors.
- Choose protein sources from plants and lean sources of meats. A good rule of thumb in selecting meats with less fat is to look for the words “round” or “loin” when shopping for beef, and the words “loin” or “leg” when shopping for pork or lamb. Remember, when shopping for poultry, white meat has less fat than dark meat.
- Choose a diet rich in soluble fiber including oat bran, legumes, barley, and most fruits and vegetables. Try to get 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily.
- Watch serving sizes and avoid going back for seconds.
- Plan in advance when dining out to choose healthy options.
- Drink at least 8 -10, 8-oz. glasses of water each day.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol. It provides empty calories.
So remember, it’s not so much the exertion and sweating that helps you lose weight, it’s more about what you actually ingest.
Good nutrition certainly takes time to develop and practice. So next time, when it’s late at night and you have the munchies, think of this: weight loss is about a lifestyle and mindset change. What you eat accounts for 80 percent of how you look and feel.
You really can eat your way skinny!
By Jonathan Crowell
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