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.

 

 

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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. 

 


Childhood Obesity – Hispanics at Increased Risk

07/26/2010
1 in every 3 young children are overweight or obese.
 
Hispanic youths are more likely to be obese and are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease as they get older.  Hispanic kids of low-socioeconomic status consume too much total and saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugar and sodium.
 
White children and teens watch 2 hours and 45 minutes of TV per day while Hispanic children watch 3 hours and 23 minutes per day.
 
Hispanic children are less likely to exercise on a regular basis.
Take a couple of minutes to watch this well done, informative video about the childhood Hispanic obesity epidemic.
We are nurse practitioners who are also trying to educate hispanics to develop healthier lifestyles. We have an adult book ready to be published “TOME CONTROL DE SU SALUD Usted Puede Prevenir la Diabetes, un Ataque al Corazon  o un Derrame Cerebral”  which discusses (in Spanish) risk factors and prevention tips for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Hispanic/Latino parent can help themselves and their children prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes by developing healthy habits and lifestyles – this book will show you how! Please visit our website www.heart-strong.com for more info.

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


Women and Heart Disease Across the Lifespan Part 1 (Young Women)

05/26/2010
This is the first of a three part series titled “Women and Heart Disease across the Lifespan.”  On this show we will concentrate on heart conditions that are more likely to affect young women. We will discuss the following conditions: palpitations, tachycardia, pericarditis, conditions that may occur during pregnancy, and premature heart disease.


Sleep Apnea Can Kill You – Severe Sleep Apnea Increases Overall Mortality

04/26/2010

 The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute estimates that 12 million adults in the U.S. have sleep apnea.  Unfortunately most people with sleep apnea are unaware – undiagnosed and untreated. 

 People with sleep apnea stop breathing while they are sleeping.  In severe sleep apnea a person’s airway is blocked and they stop breathing for 20 to 30 seconds and this causes the person to wake up abruptly.  Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea included: excessive snoring, waking up with a headache, waking up and still feeling tired, and excessive daytime fatigue.

Sleep apnea does not permit the body to rest and instead causes stress on the heart.  High blood pressure is very common in people with sleep apnea and the risk of heart attack and stroke is higher in people with sleep apnea.

 A recent study from John Hopkins University of 6,400 middle-aged men and women over 8 years found that people with major sleep apnea were 46% more likely to die from any cause.  People with mild sleep apnea were not at a higher risk.

The most effective treatments for sleep apnea are:
Weight loss (if overweight)
Nasal CPAP mask (keeps the airways open during sleep and allows normal breathing)
Surgery (may include tonsil removal)
Mouth guard

 If you suspect you have sleep apnea you should talk to your healthcare provider about having a sleep study.  With proper treatment your risk for heart disease and strokes can be reduced and blood pressure normalized.

If you are looking for more information about health and wellness and preventing heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com


Workplace Weight Loss

04/12/2010

Office work has always been considered sedentary and therefore causes workers to put on the pounds.  What if you were able to lose weight at those “desk jobs?”

 Dr. James A. Levine and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic performed a small study with 18 Minneapolis office workers. The result was a total of 156 pounds lost in 6 months! Dr. Levine’s approach focused on “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” or NEAT. This is the natural burning of energy that occurs with everyday movements like standing, moving, bending, turning, etc.  According to Levine, minor lifestyle changes can boost your daily NEAT by 20%.

 In the study, typical desks were exchanged for a desk attached to a treadmill and walking tracks were installed around the perimeter of the office space so meetings can be held while walking.  This activity is not considered exercise, but falls into the NEAT category due to the slower pace and amount of energy use. Other changes in the office included mobile headsets for phones, space for games like the Wii and nutritional counseling was provided.

The average weight loss was 9 pounds each with 90% of the weight lost being fat loss. The employee’s triglyceride levels also decreased by 37%.  Of the employees who wanted to lose weight, the average weight loss was 15.5 pounds.

In addition to the positive health effects for the individual employees, the company also benefitted.  Workplace productivity actually increased and after 3 months corporate revenue had increased by 10%.

The study was very small and is awaiting publication.  What it proves, though, is all extra activity counts! You do not need to go to a gym for hours to burn calories.  An extra 100-150 calories per hour can be burned by incorporating physical activity into your work routine. 

So, talk to your bosses, managers, and business owners about incorporating some of these small changes at your workplace.  Both you and your employer will benefit!

 If you are looking for more tips about Heart Healthy Lifestyles visit our website www.heart-strong.com and check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart”