Eat More, Weigh Less

11/21/2011

from the Diet and Fitness Health Center

Do you always feel as if you should lose a few pounds? Many of us think of ourselves as being overweight—even fat—when we’re not close to that mark. Yet we watch the numbers on the scale and worry if our weight registers a pound or two (or kilogram) above what we’ve decided the right number ought to be.

That’s because depriving ourselves of food seems an inevitable part of losing weight. When we look at our dinner plate while dieting, we often see more plate than dinner.

No wonder losing weight feels like a battle against ourselves. We’re fighting our natural biological and psychological needs to have our appetites satisfied. Yet it’s possible to eat ample meals, feel full, control hunger, have a nutritious diet and still lose weight or maintain weight loss.

Less is more

Scientists who study the body’s feeling of fullness, called satiety, have shown that foods with high concentrations of calories in each portion increase our body weight and the overall amount of food we eat. The high energy density of foods such as fried onion rings or homemade chocolate chip cookies makes them taste appealing, but they don’t create feelings of fullness until you’ve overeaten.

By contrast, foods with low energy density (vegetables and fruits, nonfat milk, cooked grains, soups, stews, lean protein), have fewer calories, but make us feel more full. They also promote weight loss.

Since most of us eat about the same weight of food every day, it makes a difference whether that food has a high or low energy density. If you combine big portions with high energy density—such as happens in many fast-food selections—you’re cramming your daily food intake with too many calories.

Why water works

The key to keeping energy density low is water—not the stuff you drink from those cute little bottles, but the water content of foods. According to researcher Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutritional sciences at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins, 2005) and The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan (Quill, 2000, HarperTorch, 2003) foods with low energy density are loaded with water. When you eat them, you can increase the volume of food you consume for the same, or fewer, calories.

To understand the influence of water on food volume—and its ability to dilute calories—consider that for a 100-calorie snack, you could eat either two cups of water-rich grapes or one-quarter cup of raisins (dried grapes). The volume of grapes you can eat for 100 calories is a more satisfying portion.

The most energy dense component of food is fat, at nine calories per gram. Water has zero calories per gram. So if you cut fat a bit and add more water (with vegetables, fruit or broth) in your cooking, you reduce energy density significantly.

Eating more fiber is also important for lowering energy density. High-fiber foods, such as whole-grain cereals and breads, help you feel full longer.

Calculating energy density

Understanding the energy density of foods and using it to guide eating choices, Rolls says, “can help people eat the way the research suggests they should be eating—not only for weight management, but for optimal health.”

Here’s a simple method she offers for determining the energy density (calories per gram) of foods you buy in the supermarket:

  • Look at the Nutrition Facts label on the food package.
  • Find the serving-size weight in grams and the calories per serving.
  • If the calories are a smaller number than the grams, the food has low energy density. Feel free to enjoy satisfying amounts of that food.
  • If the calories are equal to, or twice as much, as the grams, eat moderately and watch your portion size.
  • If the calories are more than twice the grams, limit your portions.

You’ll discover that dry foods, like crackers, have high energy density (calories more than twice the grams). Surprisingly, fat-free pretzels have the same energy density as cheese. Munching on these without controlling your portions can quickly add weight.

“Do a little pre-planning,” says Jo-Anne Rizzotto, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., a registered and licensed dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston. “Fill snack baggies with cut-up vegetables or cut-up melon, strawberries or any fruit and line them up in the refrigerator so you can just grab them to go for lunch or snacking on the run.”

To add fiber and lower energy density, Rizzotto recommends looking for breads with at least three grams of fiber per serving and cereals or starches with at least five grams of fiber per serving. In recipes, she suggests using smaller amount of potatoes and using more vegetables like green beans, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.

Add another course

It may seem hard to believe, but when you add an additional course to your meal—increasing food volume—you can reduce the overall number of calories you consume.

Rolls and her colleagues conducted a study in which women were given a first course of a large portion (three cups) of low-energy-dense salad. The salad was made with greens, vegetables, nonfat Italian dressing and reduced-fat cheese. Following that, the participants ate a main course of pasta.

Eating the salad boosted the women’s feelings of fullness and reduced their total meal calorie intake. In other studies, having a first-course soup instead of the salad produced similar results.

Why does this work? “You get an awful lot of food without many calories,” Rolls explains, “which then helps to displace the calories in the next course of higher energy dense foods.” Simply drinking more water doesn’t have the same effect.

Tips for low-energy-density eating

  • Want to add a starter salad to your lunch or dinner? Remember to keep the energy density low. That means you can fill your bowl to the brim with greens, veggies, and low-fat dressing, but use only a very small amount—if any—of full-fat cheese or dressings, croutons or bacon bits.
  • When choosing soup as a first course or snack, make it broth-based, such as chicken with rice or vegetable soup. Creamed soups, chowders and hearty bean soups have more calories and higher energy density. They’re better as main dishes.
  • Double the vegetables in your favorite recipes, from chili and beef stew to pasta or chicken salad.
  • Watch what you drink. Each regular soda adds 150 unneeded calories to your daily total. Instead, choose water, tea, coffee (not the fat-laden specialty drinks!), diet soda, or add a splash of fruit juice to seltzer. Alcohol has a high energy density, so limit your daily consumption to one glass or less.

Full-plate menus

In The Volumetrics Eating Plan, Rolls provides satisfying, 1,400-calorie-a-day menus (and recipes), with choices based on the principles of energy density—foods that are rich in water, high in fiber, low fat, or lean protein, with low-calorie beverages and portion control for high-energy-dense selections.

Here are her suggested menus for two days:

MENU #1:  
   
Breakfast: 1 cup wheat bran flakes
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: Roasted portobello mushroom sandwich on a Kaiser roll
1/2 cup tabbouleh
1 pear
   
Dinner: Sautéed skinless chicken breast with vegetables and Canadian
bacon
2/3 cup brown rice
1-3/4 cups mixed greens and fennel salad
1 cup strawberries tossed with a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar
   
MENU #2:  
   
Breakfast: 1 packet instant oatmeal
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: One wedge of vegetable pizza, made with nonfat mozzarella
1-2/3 cups chilled gazpacho
1 snack cup, nonfat chocolate pudding
   
Dinner: Baked fish fillets with sautéed vegetables
2/3 cup oven-roasted potatoes
3/4 cup roasted asparagus
fresh fruit dipped in chocolate fondue

 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

 

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

 

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness
 

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

 

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 


3 Shortcuts to Exercise Success

10/04/2011

from the Healthy Living area

Are you losing interest in physical activity because you’re not seeing quick results from your efforts?

While there are no magic pills for becoming more fit (and staying that way), some exercises are more effective in less time than others. Check out these three ideas for burning more calories and strengthening muscles faster:

  1. Switch back and forth: It’s called interval training, and it boosts your results by stepping up the intensity or duration of your activity, on and off, throughout your workout. Interval training works like this: Instead of walking for 10 minutes at your usual pace, start by walking at your normal exercise pace for the first two minutes, then increase your speed for the next two minutes, followed by two minutes of your usual pace, and so on. Adapt this system for any length walk. The interval time may vary as well. Your body goes into “active recovery” during the lower speed segments, so you can continue exercising with less risk of injury, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Yet you gain quicker benefits from the higher intensity intervals.
  2. Squat: Pear-shape alert!You’ll strengthen more muscles at one time by doing squats. This exercise works the major muscles in your lower body—the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. When asked to list the most effective exercises, the majority of 17,000 ACE-certified fitness professionals put squats at number one. Make sure your form is correct: with feet at shoulder-width and back straight, bend your knees as you lower your bottom. Don’t let your knees move out over your ankles. If you are doing squats with weights on a barbell (which increases intensity), be sure to have a spotter or trainer check your form.
  3. Rev your engine: All activities are not created equal. For a 135-pound woman, 30 minutes of brisk walking burns 130 calories. In that same 30 minutes, you can lose 258 calories with freestyle swimming or 322 calories by running at a 6 mph pace. Include higher calorie-burning exercises in your activities to boost speedy results.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/condition/stress

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Top 6 Fitness Myths

07/26/2011

from the Healthy Living area

Maybe you already know that “no pain, no gain” is a fitness myth. You don’t gain from pain; instead, if you workout until (or after) you have pain, you can injure yourself.

Fitness misconceptions such as “no pain, no gain” or “women who lift weights get bulky muscles” abound (that second belief is also not true—our biology makes it nearly impossible). Because of such erroneous ideas, many of us exercise incorrectly or avoid being physically active at all.

Even if you don’t fall for the two fitness follies above, there are plenty more you might believe. Here are 7 common exercise misconceptions, with realistic suggestions for effective activity:

Fitness Folly #1: Ab Crunches Will Flatten Your Mid-Section
How many sit-ups or crunches does it take to turn tummy fat into tight muscle? The answer is: none—you can’t turn fat tissue into muscle. Contracting your abdominal muscles in a crunch “will strengthen those fibers, but has nothing to do with the fat sitting on top” of those muscles, says Kathy Stevens, MA, a fitness consultant in Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA.

Stevens calls it “wishful thinking” to believe that exercising one spot on your body will take off fat in that location. “We want to hold onto that belief, even though we’ve been told time and time again that there’s no such thing as spot reduction,” she says. “Fat loss is systemic.”

What to do: Be patient and do activities you enjoy that burn as many calories as possible, such as aerobics, swimming and brisk walking.

Fitness Folly #2: Regular Exercise Keeps Your Balance Strong
You work on your strength and on your endurance, but when was the last time you worked on your equilibrium? Vonda Wright, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, cautions against taking your balance for granted. “When women fall down and break a hip, 50 percent of them don’t return to pre-fall function,” says Dr. Wright, co-author of the upcoming book Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age.

Muscle strength helps you maintain your equilibrium, but it’s not enough, she adds. If your balance is wobbly, you need to do activities that will build it. To test yourself, stand near a table and place your fingertips on the table top. Close your eyes and stand on one leg. You should be able to balance for 20 seconds.

What to do: To increase balance, Dr. Wright suggests getting into the habit of standing on one leg while washing dishes or brushing your teeth. If that becomes easy, close your eyes.

Fitness Folly #3: You Can Tighten Your Upper-Arm Flab with Weights
You may be familiar with “turkey arms”—the wobbling flap of flab that hangs below the upper area of an outstretched arm. These shaky sections are especially common if you’re in midlife or older. Many women try to banish the unsightly flesh by lifting weights, only to discover that not much seems to change.

Sadly, that flab in the tricep area can’t be targeted, according to Irv Rubenstein, PhD, an exercise physiologist, teacher and certified personal trainer in Nashville, TN. “Women tend to deposit fat there, and with the change in collagen over time (with age), the area loses tautness and texture. It’s a nearly perfect storm,” Dr. Rubenstein says. Gravity finishes off the job. “Like the skin that starts to sag over your knees, it’s the same principle,” he adds. Swell news, huh?

What to do: Forget about that one spot, but do resistance training with weights or bands to build strength and overall functioning.

Fitness Folly #4: My Arthritis/Weight/Diabetes, etc., Keeps Me from Being Active
When you have an ongoing health concern, your condition can be a great excuse for avoiding fitness activities. Yet, in most cases, being physically active will help reduce your health problems.

Arthritis pain lessens with exercise, as does high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Physical activity will help a weight-loss effort and reduce the cardiovascular and diabetes risks of metabolic syndrome. By choosing the right activities and using medications as prescribed, you can also exercise with asthma or allergies.

What to do: First, see the physician treating your chronic condition and talk about physical activity options. To avoid stress on joints, choose pool activities or bike riding. Those with asthma or allergies will be helped by exercising indoors, especially during hot or cold weather. Warm, moist air is best for asthma, so swimming is a good choice.

Fitness Folly #5: You Must Lose Weight to Be More Fit
If you’re larger, imagine being let off the hook that demands you must lose 20, 30 or more pounds to achieve good fitness. Well, permission granted!

Research conducted with a group of overweight and obese (don’t we hate those terms!) women aged 30 to 45, showed that those who accepted their bodies as they were, ate according to their natural signals for hunger and fullness (not dieting) and pursued enjoyable activities instead of regimented exercise had a sharp increase in moderate activity. What’s more, they were able to sustain that activity level over time.

“Their overall health measures were amazing—reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol and psychological factors,” compared to a control group that dieted and followed exercise recommendations, says physiologist and nutritionist Linda Bacon, PhD, MA, a researcher at the City College of San Francisco. Dr. Bacon conducted the study and is author of a forthcoming book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, based on her research findings.

In group meetings during the study, the non-dieters talked about ways to add movement they enjoyed, from shooting baskets with a child to walking to a farther bathroom at work. Although the control group initially lost weight by dieting, both groups were at their starting weights after two years. The non-dieters showed greater fitness, which they kept up with little effort. “You can improve your health dramatically without a change in weight,” Dr. Bacon says.

What to do: Accept your body as it is right now. Add physical activity to your life that you find fun. Walking in a natural area is interesting and helps the time pass swiftly. If you like social interaction, play a game with others. Avoid workout classes that make you feel discouraged or self-conscious.

Fitness Folly #6: Exercise Takes Too Much Time and Effort
It’s true that you can’t be physically active unless you actually get up and move. Once you get past that hurdle, you don’t have to push yourself hard. You’ll gain fitness benefits from very light to moderate exercise. That benefit is even greater if you are overweight or have been sedentary. As for time, all you need is 30 minutes a day of activity, which you can accumulate in 10-minute chunks.

What to do: Start by using time you ordinarily waste sitting in front of the television. Stand up and do 10 minutes of brisk walking while you watch. You can move around the room or walk in place. Swing your arms to ramp up your results. Do that three times daily and you’ll help banish the fitness follies.

 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

 

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

Wellness in Practice Blog: www.healthywomen.org/womentalk/blog/wellness-practice

 

 

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 


Keeping the pounds off (after weight loss)

10/24/2010

 

Once a person loses excess weight, the next great battle is keeping those pounds off!

A recent study from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research found that people who consistently logged in to an interactive Internet version of a personal coach were able to keep the weight off.  The key word is “consistently.”

For 6 months before the trial, men and women reduced their caloric intake and exercised in an effort to shed pounds. Those who lost at least 19 pounds were randomly assigned to 3 groups for weight maintenance. One group was self-directed, another contacted a health counselor once a month, and a third group relied on an interactive website.  All of the participants were obese or overweight, and were taking medications for hypertension or high cholesterol.

Those men and women assigned to a personal coach regained the least amount of weight overall, but the ongoing expense sometimes does not make this an option.

At the end of 30 months, the people assigned to a personal coach regained on average 10 pounds, while the web site group regained 12.5 pounds and the self-directed group regained 14 pounds.

The men and women assigned to the weight-management website who visited the site once a month maintained more of their weight loss than patients who checked in sporadically.  On the Web site, participants could record their weight, caloric intake, and minutes of exercise and compare that information with the goals they had set for themselves. A bulletin board allowed them to read other peoples’ success stories and share their own, as well as get advice from experts on exercise and behavior change.

A weight-management web site appears to be a good alternative to a personal coach for those who may not be able to afford personal coaching fees.  You should look for a site where you can enter data on weight, caloric consumption, and exercise, and receive reminders if you forget to supply this information.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in J Med Internet Res. online July 27, 2010. 

 


Biggest Health Threats Among Hispanics Today

08/21/2010
Heart disease is the #1 killer of Hispanic men and women in the U.S. Hispanics are at a higher risk to develop diabetes which is a strong risk factor for heart problems. Heart disease and diabetes risk factors specific to the Hispanic/Latino population will be discussed and strategies to reduce risk.


Do you or someone you know snore? That snoring could be Sleep Apnea – and it could kill you!

07/23/2010

 Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have pauses in breathing (actually stop breathing) or shallow breaths while you sleep.  Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep.

When I lecture about sleep apnea and heart disease I often ask people to take a deep breath and hold it for about 20 to 30 seconds (why not try it now)…

Okay after the 30 seconds let the breath out.  That is how long many people with sleep apnea stop breathing while they sleep, often several times every hour.

Take a look at this short PSA on Sleep Apnea:

Untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes!
  • Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
  • Lead to irregular heartbeats  
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

 Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings at night sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)

Sleep apnea can be treated once it is diagnosed. By treating your sleep apnea you can actually also protect your heart from future problems.

For more info on sleep apnea visit www.sleepapnea.org

For more info about risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com

We are nurses practitioners who have spent years taking care of people with heart disease and our mission now is to help people PREVENT heart attacks and strokes.  We have written two books that may help you learn about your individual risk factors and what you can do to prevent heart problems, strokes and diabetes.  “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart – So simple you will not even have to stop and ask for directions” – our books offer realistic steps to help you develop a healthier lifestyle, all of the information in the books comes from the latest medical guidelines available and is written in an easy to follow and understand format.


Depression May Cause Increased Belly Fat

06/22/2010

A recent study in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health evaluated a possible link between depression and extra inches around the waist.  Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined data from the CARDIA study, a 20 year longitudinal study with over 5,100 men and women.

They discovered that over a 15 year period everyone had put on some weight, but the depressed people gained weight faster. People reporting high levels of depression gained weight fast. The interesting finding is that being overweight initially did not lead to changes in level of depression.  The stress hormone cortisol plays a role in both depression and abdominal obesity, so increased levels of this hormone may be the reason why the depressed people gained the belly fat faster.

This study shows the importance of recognizing and treating depression not only for its psychological consequences, but also for physical reasons.  In order to control obesity and obesity related diseases, it is important to also make sure depression is appropriately recognized treated.

 Depression is a modifiable risk factor – prompt treatment can prevent permanent health problems. To find out more information about risk factors you can control to prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com