Tag Archives: Weight Loss

How to Choose the Best Drinks for a Successful Diet

Choosing the Wrong Drinks Adds Extra Empty Calories

Adapted with permission from the original article published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal.

You are starting your weight loss journey. You’ve been through your kitchen and thrown all the junk food into the trash. A diet plan has been chosen and you’ve taken those awkward “before” selfies.

What is the one thing you may have missed?

Frappacinos not healthy living
Credit – domtree_m

Have you made the common mistake of underestimating the caloric content of your favorite drinks?

The majority of beverages consumed by the American public each day are packed with hidden calories. The drinks you gulp down could be responsible for weight loss plateaus or lack of progress toward your weight loss goals.

Examples of Non-Healthy Drink Choices

  • The “healthy” smoothie from the organic store? It contains more calories than a double cheeseburger (a large Strawberry Surf Rider from Jamba Juice has 640 calories; a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger has 440 calories).
  • Heavily sweetened coffee on your morning commute?  A Venti Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino has 550 calories, while two Dunkin Donuts Glazed Donut have 520 calories.
  • Having a beer with dinner? That’s more calories than a candy bar (a Lagunita’s IPA has 220 calories, while a Hershey bar has 214 calories).

This is not a suggestion to replace empty-calorie drinks with empty-calorie fast foods or sweets – it was for comparison only.

Beverages Can Add 100s of Calories Each Day

Whether it it a juice drink, flavored coffees, sodas, beers, popular “healthy” smoothies made commercially, they all contain high amounts of empty calories.

Instead of changing your diet, try rethinking your lifestyle.

Don’t count calories, make calories count!

Every calorie you choose to eat should be filled with nutrients (including beverages). Make them count. They should satisfy your hunger and help you reach your weight loss goals. The next post will discuss the best drinks to help you get there.

Beverages Are Not as Satisfying as Nutrient-Rich Foods

The first step is to be aware of the number of liquid calories you’re consuming each day, which often have little nutritional value. They may satisfy your sweet tooth; but they do not satisfy your hunger.

Studies have shown that meals with solid foods provide better sensations of fullness compared to liquid meal replacements alone.1

When you limit your daily calorie intake to kick-start weight loss, it is important to maximize the nutritional value of every calorie.

Every Calorie Counts When Committing to a Healthy Diet

  • A typical 16 oz bottle of soda has around 200 calories; that’s approximately equal to six ounces of chicken breast.
  • An average juice smoothie from a national chain has around 300 calories; that’s the equivalent to four whole eggs.
  • Most beer has at least 150 calories, equivalent to five pieces of turkey bacon.

Choosing the non-beverage option in each of these scenarios will not only provide more nutritional value but will also help you feel full.

The soda manufacturers have taken advantage of the “diet mentality” that is a big factor in drink choices. They have provided an alternative to “sugared drinks” in the form of diet or zero-calorie drinks. The problem is they remove the sugar and add artificial sweeteners – neither one is good for your health. Bottom line: sodas are not healthy drinks.

Potential Side Effects of Sweeteners

Studies have shown body weight, fat mass, and blood pressure may all be negatively affected by the consumption of sweeteners.

Two of the most commonly added artificial sweeteners are aspartame and saccharin.2 Another is sucralose. All three carry a potential risk of adverse metabolic effects and type 2 diabetes.3

Be careful. Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners. They can be harmful to your health.

The best choice is always a natural, non-processed drink that contains minimal sugar and minimal artificial sweeteners to be safe. We will discuss those in the next posting.

Starting today….every time you have a craving to buy your favorite beverage. Stop and ask yourself some simple questions. 

  • What is in this drink? (Learn to read labels or look it up on the Internet.)
  • How many calories does it contain?
  • Are they healthy, nutritional calories – or empty?
  • Do I really need this, or should I eat something solid instead?

Treating your self occasionally with a favorite drink is OK, but don’t make it a habit that takes the place of real food.

Awareness and making smart food choices are the first steps to a successful diet.

See you next time for the second post in the series,Seven Healthy Drink Options for a Healthy Diet.”

Nancy

Note:  This was a long article originally that I am posting in segments for easier reading. If you want more information on the research, click on the numbered links in the posting. They will take you to the references in the original article. 

 

Little Extras for Help with Weight-Loss Success

The two basic things you have to do to have a successful weight-loss journey is consume fewer calories (eat less) and exercise more.  It is a pleasure to report that it is possible to do both of these things without feeling deprived or overwhelmed. Just add these two little extras for help with weight-loss success.

Add a Little Extra Exercise to Your Daily Routine

Little Extras for Help with Weight-loss Success
Image by AndreyPopov

A simple way to increase the level of exercise during your week is by adding a little more effort into your daily activities – the things you are going to do anyway.

For example, we all have to do housework right? So, that is an easy one! Instead of taking your time and working at a leisurely pace, work faster.

As you sweep and mop the kitchen floor, put some oomph into it. Work at a steady, brisk pace. Stretch your arms and use your muscles. This will definitely increase your heart rate, and burn more calories.

When it’s time to clean the windows, reach up as high as you can – stretch to the top of the windows and be sure to get into the corners. Then, buff the glass to a high sheen, which will involve a little more elbow grease than normal.

When you scrub out the tub and the shower, do it with energy and a song – make those tiles shine.

Play fun music and dance when you sweep, mop or vacuum.

Work for longer periods of time – 20 to 30 minutes of active cleaning is much better than 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. It gives you more time to get your heart rate going and a better boost to your metabolism.

These are things you can do to keep your house sparkling and build the new you. So, start throwing in an abundant amount of gusto for extra calorie burning and body shaping.

Add Two Healthy Snacks to Your Daily Meal Plan

A great way to focus on success with your weight loss journey is to plan what you are going to eat in advance. When you shop ahead and know exactly what you will be eating, temptation to fall into old eating patterns – and indulge in foods that will throw you off track are taken out of the equation.

Be sure to include at least two healthy snack options in your daily plan. They should not only be healthy choices, but foods that are easy to grab when you are feeling a little out-of-sorts – and also handy when you are on the go.

Planning ahead ensures that you will eat healthy snacks that you enjoy as well as satisfy your hunger. Make sure they are nutritious and satisfying, and fit in with your diet all at the same time.

You can find suggestions for healthy snacks everywhere – in books, magazines and all over the Internet. Just be sure that they are in keeping with your diet of choice and give you the nutrients you need.

You can find a few good options at the more health-focused stores (Trader Joes, Sprouts, or Whole Foods), but read labels VERY CAREFULLY if you are buying pre-packaged snacks. Many of them have hidden sugars, additives and empty calories, which will NOT be good for your weight-loss journey. Try to stick with fresh fruits, veggies, raw nuts (use roasted peanuts) and seeds, etc.

One of my favorites is my version of mixed nuts (macadamia, almonds, pecans, and pistachios) with a few dark chocolate chips in the mix (use the chocolate chips sparingly).

Make small snacks packs of two tablespoons each and keep them available. Toss ONE into your lunch bag each day. It is a also good idea to have one in your car cubby for a quick pick-me-up when you need it – a much better choice than a candy bar.

Another excellent choice is a generous serving of fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries with a dollop of Crème Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt with a little organic honey) – YUM!

It is important to find your own preferences that fit your personal taste and dietary needs. Set aside time each week to prepare home-made options that can be stored and used whenever you need them.

In Summary

Try these two little extras for help with weight-loss success. Adding a little extra exercise and adding two healthy snack options each day will make a big difference on your weight-loss journey. They will help you reach your destination – a healthy, fit and happier life.

Positive Results of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet became popular when statistics revealed that people in Mediterranean countries actually live longer and experience less heart disease!

Mediterranean Diet
Image by lunamarina

This sparked a lot of interest among researchers who began to dig deeper into the reasons behind the statistics. They found that the type of fats eaten in this diet were actually good for heart health and the type of nutrient-rich diet the Mediterranean people enjoyed could have profoundly beneficial results.

Since you may be considering it as a possible healthy diet, I wanted to share some specific positive results of the Mediterranean Diet.

Overall Better Health

The Mediterranean Diet improves your overall well-being – and does so in several important ways.

We have already talked about the importance of the healthy fats found in olive oil and the heart benefits of resveratrol found in red wine. The diet also includes an abundance of garlic and fiber which are both helpful in sustaining healthy blood pressure.

The nutrient rich foods – fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains provide Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamins D & E, which make you look healthier. They give your skin a natural glow; plus, they make you hair and nails stronger and the whites of your eyes whiter.

Add sunshine (and sun screen) to give yourself a nice healthy tan to complete the picture. Everyone looks better when our bodies are strong and healthy.

More Energy

Just think what you could accomplish if you had energy that lasted throughout the day, with plenty remaining for evening activities. That is possible when you eat nutrient-rich foods that fuels your body with everything it needs.

A healthy diet improves the function of your mitochrondria (the structures within cells that convert food into a form of energy that cells can use), which provides the body with lots of usable energy. As a result, you will feel supercharged and ready to go whenever you need to be!

Healthier Weight Loss

If you are one of the many who is always looking for a way to control their weight, the Mediterranean Diet is a good choice. It contributes to weight loss in a healthy, sustainable and long-lasting way.

You will want to snack less and your hunger will be satisfied with smaller portions. This is primarily because you will no longer be eating empty-calorie junk food; and your body will be far more efficient at burning fat the way it was meant to.

Better Lifestyle

The Mediterranean Diet has a wonderful another benefit than you may not have thought of – an overall happier, healthier lifestyle.

You will gain a new respect for food and its importance in your life. This diet is about taking the time to cook REAL meals with REAL FOOD – about taking the time to actually enjoy what you eat. And . . . most important – it is about eating good, healthy foods.

When all of that becomes important in your life, you will find yourself spending more time with your family – and even preparing lovely romantic meals for your spouse or significant other.

Food will no longer be something you eat to live. The Mediterranean lifestyle encourages you to slow down, enjoy the process of cooking, enjoy the wonderful aromas that come from the simmering pots – and sitting down with family and friends around a lovely table with warm sunshine on your back as your eat, laugh and enjoy . . . . together!

Why Choose the Mediterranean Diet

Why choose the Mediterranean Diet? The answer is quite simple. You eat lots of fruits and vegetables with olive oil and feta cheese, plus red wine, hard cheese, salads, garlic, nuts and seeds, plus lots of fish. What can be better than that?

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

If you are unfamiliar with this diet, it may seem completely counter-intuitive when you think about dieting for weight loss.

Of course, eating fruits, vegetables and lots of salad, even fish makes sense; but how can adding fats (even healthy fats) and wine help you lose weight?  Also, when you read about the diet, there are no restrictions in quantities of food that you can eat.  Strange . . . right?

Let’s take a closer look to see exactly how this diet works.

The Origin

Unlike most of the popular (or fad) diets that are rampant on the Internet and through all types of media, the Mediterranean Diet was not created to sell a book or to make the author famous.

It is simply a natural diet eaten by people who live in Mediterranean countries. That alone makes it far more appealing than an extreme fad diet created by some unknown doctor, nutritionist, or health “expert” with specific (sometimes unusual) recommendations or restrictions that most of them include.

I love this quote from the NIH (National Institute of Health), “Mediterranean tradition offers a cuisine rich in colours, aromas and memories, which support the taste and the spirit of those who live in harmony with nature.”

Unfortunately, for some time, there were many who did not consider this a healthy diet primarily because of the olive oil and the wine, which are major components of the diet.  It wasn’t until some of the “experts” began studying statistics regarding the health of people who lived in the regions where the diet originated.

They quickly found the population had longer lifespans and a much lower incidence of  heart disease, diabetes and cancer!

The Science behind the Phenomenon

What is really going on?  It is not so strange when you take a close look. First – people in the Mediterranean enjoy eating more than most Western cultures like the U.S. and the U.K.

Sadly, the Western cultures see  preparation of meals and the necessity of eating are seen as more of an inconvenience than something to enjoy.  The majority of us eat to live – to fuel our bodies, nothing more.

We eat quickly with no thought about what we are eating – much of it extremely unhealthy. We eat large quantities of  junk food like Big Gulps, candy, cookies, potato chips . . . anything that can be purchased, opened, and gobbled, or chugged down.

It is no wonder so many people have serious health problems and that as a society we are on the verge of a pandemic of obesity

Delicious, Nutritious Food

In direct contrast to the way many Americans eat, the people of the Mediterranean region enjoy eating. They take the time to create and savour delicious dishes made from fresh fruits, vegetables, lots of fish and delicious cheese – cooked or topped with olive oil (not butter) and served with whole grain bread and red wine. That sounds like a great way to live!

It spite of what we have heard for years, fats are not bad for us. In fact, our bodies need some fat and healthy fats are good for us. When they are eaten with fruits and vegetables they actually help absorb the nutrients more easily.

When people embrace the Mediterranean way of eating, they learn to eat natural foods that strengthen and nourish their bodies – and – they learn to truly appreciate what they are eating. More time is taken to prepare and serve the food and it is eaten with much greater relish – all of which has a huge impact on health and well-being.

To me, it sounds like something everyone should incorporate into their lifestyle!  I challenge you to give it a try very soon. You have nothing to lose (except weight) and everything to gain

Healthy Weight Loss the Mediterranean Way

My last post was an overview of the Mediterranean-way of eating. Today, I would like to add another dimension – healthy weight loss the Mediterranean way.

Halthy weight loss - Mediterranean Food
Image by lunamarina

I mentioned the studies that have supported the diet’s ability to reduce heart disease and cancer and improve longevity – important points, for sure, and hopefully enough to encourage people to change their eating habits.

However, the American public in general seems to be more inclined to change their diet if they think it will help them lose weight. In fact, losing weight is one of the strongest motivating factors for adopting a new diet. This is not always the case, but often, it is.

In that light, I thought it wise to let you know how the Mediterranean Diet fares in the weight loss category. Let’s take a closer look…

Fats and Weight Loss

The Mediterranean Diet is quite different than many popular diets. It does not involve counting calories, cutting carbs, or cutting fats. In fact, the diet includes fats – with lots of olive oil.

Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, I understand why it may be a concern. For those reasons many people think that it is not a good choice for weight loss. In fact, the question must be asked: How can a diet that includes fats possibly contribute to weight loss?

Simple! The fats on the Mediterranean Diet are primarily olive oil and canola oil (healthy fats) that contain lots of nutrients and keep you feeling fuller – longer. And, there are other factors.

Nutrient Rich

The diet as a whole gives your body real food (close to nature) that provides the necessary nutrients. As a result, you actually get to feel full and the cravings will diminish – both of which help with weight loss.

Another fact you may not know is that many nutrients actually enhance weight loss. For example, Vitamin B Complex from veggies, cheese, legumes, CoQ10 from the meats and fish, plus the generous use of garlic – all improve metabolism.

Weight Loss – YES

This is a diet that helps you to eat healthier. When that is your focus, you are keeping your body well-fed and energized and weight loss comes naturally.

The meals that can be prepared with the foods on this diet are delicious and the lifestyle is practical. It is a diet you will enjoy so that staying with it is not such a challenge. However, diet (any diet) alone is never the formula for weight loss.  It is a critical component, but should be accompanied by adequate rest and regular exercise.

If you take care of your health through diet, exercise and rest – weight loss can be a natural benefit.  Give it a try.