How Many Calories Should I Cut For Weight Loss? | Q+A

How Many Calories Should I Cut For Weight Loss? | Q+A

Question:

I am 35 years old 6 foot 2 inches, my weight is 225 lbs. I want to go down to 210 lbs., my current body fat is 18%. How many calories should I be taking in?

– Frederick B.

Answer:

It’s a lot easier to cut 500 calories daily (for weight loss) than to count up to 2,000+ calories for a full day. If you know how many calories you’re already consuming, you can reach the desired deficit by reducing portions and substituting lower-calorie foods. For example, you can save over 300 calories by switching from 3 large slices of pepperoni thick-crust pizza to 3 medium slices of cheese thin-crust pizza.

Let’s say you have no idea what your current energy intake is. One calculation estimates you’d need to consume no more than 2100 calories (2600 – 500) per day to lose weight, assuming 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity. Another indicates 2500 calories under the same conditions. The actual amount you need depends on your activity level and individual metabolism.

The real question is how you’ll count all those calories. You could use a diet analysis app or follow a plan that has 2200 calories already calculated. See a sample plan in my answer to a similar question here: Food Options to Drop Weight & Tone | Q+A.

If your weight plateaus, you don’t necessarily need to cut back further on your food! So that you don’t end up under-eating and missing nutrients, you may want to consider increasing your exercise to create a sufficient caloric deficit to lose those 15 pounds.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Which Foods Assist With Losing Back Fat? | QA

Which Foods Assist With Losing Back Fat? | QA

Question:

Which foods assist with loosing back fat? I have a flat stomach but can’t get rid of my back roll/fat.

– Queen

Answer:

Your question resonates with so many others. Usually carrying extra body fat results in generalized fat deposition. Fat accumulation on the back (posterior torso adipose tissue) is quite common (and may be inherited), and could be a result of yo-yo dieting or age.

Despite numerous products and advertisements, there is no way to target fat loss in that area alone. There is no evidence to support a particular diet or foods for reducing a roll of fat on the back. Spot reduction from exercises does not work either.

The good news: amping up your cardio and cleaning up your diet will help you get the results you want as your overall body fat composition improves!

Some serious basics for your fat-melting meal planning include:

  • Reduce portions
  • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you are satisfied
  • Include 5-7 total servings of vegetables and fruits daily
  • Make half of your grain products whole-grain
  • Consume more plant foods and fewer animal products
  • Include healthy unsaturated fats
  • Drink plenty of water

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Let’s Talk About the Mediterranean Diet

Let’s Talk About the Mediterranean Diet

Question:

I’ve been doing some research and came across the Mediterranean diet as a great way to maintain a healthy weight as well as gaining many lifelong health benefits from the foods/ingredients it’s centered on. Are you familiar with the Mediterranean diet and if so any pointers for transitioning from one diet to a different diet?

– Shelby G.

Answer:

The key specifics of a Mediterranean style diet depend on who you ask, since it is truly a reflection of a regional dietary pattern, not from one particular person, author or company.

Bordering the Mediterranean Sea are Southern Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. Dietary patterns from countries of the latter two started to be referred to as a “Mediterranean Diet” in the 1960’s.  According to the Mediterranean Diet, the major source of calories come from grains, fats and oils, with less meat (predominantly beef, pork, and mutton) than other areas, and the remainder of protein is obtained from dry beans and chickpeas1.

Based on the observed health status of southern European countries, the Mediterranean pyramid was introduced in 1993 and serves as the basis for what most people now refer to as the “Mediterranean Diet”, which is what I’ll address.

The Mediterranean style diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and healthy fats as core foods. Within the main portion of the pyramid you will find traditional foods such as olive oil, pine nuts (pignolias), broad beans, lentils, chickpeas, barley, oats, potatoes, hard winter wheat, apricots, dates, figs, grapes, melons, pomegranates, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomato, and zucchini.

Oldways, one of the founders of the original Mediterranean pyramid states “Fish and seafood are typically eaten at least twice a week, and dairy foods – especially fermented dairy like yogurt and traditional cheese – are eaten frequently in moderate portions. Eggs and occasional poultry are also part of the Mediterranean Diet, but red meat and sweets are rarely eaten.”

As far as weight maintenance goes, research shows a definite positive effect for those following a Mediterranean style diet. I could list all sorts of individual studies, but researchers have already compiled all of the findings into a summary2. Weight and body mass index tend to go down (coupled with exercise and energy restriction) on a Mediterranean diet, especially if done over 6 months. This would seem surprising, given that fat provides over 30% of calories. The power of whole grains, ample produce and limited saturated fat are the trick!

Besides the change in lifestyle (shopping/cooking), I’d consider your gut happiness in transitioning from one diet to another. A drastic change in intake can upset your intestines. If you have a sensitive stomach, consider incorporating only a few new items daily. After 2 or 3 weeks you should have fully transitioned into your new dietary pattern.

References:

  1. “A Proposed Explanation of World Dietary Patterns” by HG Kariel in Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers © 1964 University of Hawai’i Press, Vol. 26, pp. 43-50.
  2. Mediterranean diet and weight loss: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Esposito K,et al. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2011 Feb;9(1):1-12. doi: 10.1089/met.2010.0031. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Meal Prep For Single Bachelors With No Time | Q+A

Meal Prep For Single Bachelors With No Time | Q+A

Question:

I’m a single bachelor, and I work about 60 to 70 hours a week, so I always end up eating out instead of cooking. I was looking for some 1-pot recipes that I can cook and pack up at work and eat at night as well. Any recommendations?

– Robert W.

Answer:

I’ve tried a few 30-minute meals recipe books and always found that including pre-cooked meats or already-diced ingredients was a bit of a cheat. But you’ve got to save time somewhere, and it often comes at an expense (of money) or in sacrifice of nutrition. My advice is to either prepare your meats and raw produce in bulk when you bring them home from the store, or buy a few already-prepped convenience ingredients.

One big-time saver is pre-cut fresh produce, such as a container of onion and bell pepper strips or a mirepoix mix of diced onion, celery and carrot. Frozen plain vegetables are simple to microwave or steam. No-salt-added canned corn kernels, sliced beets or diced tomatoes are simple to pop open, drain and add to an appropriate dish for a pop of color, fiber and vitamins/minerals.

Simple, healthy and easy-to-prepare meals often mean 1-pot cooking. For example, in a heated large stir-fry or fry pan, you can start by searing chunks of your preferred protein, add chopped vegetables, then pour in a bagged frozen meal and cooking until heated through when sauce is melted and starch (pasta, potato or rice) is soft. Voila two portions become three with less sodium per serving!

Starting a slow-cooker in the morning makes coming home to a finished meal easier. Choosing your recipe and prepping your ingredients the night before means just turning on the cooker and popping in your food before leaving for work. Remember that smaller chunks of food cook faster. You can adjust heat settings and total cook time for larger items like whole chicken breasts or pork loins.

See our article Inexpensive Meal Prep | Q+A for more tips.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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10 Surprising Food Combinations You’ll Love

10 Surprising Food Combinations You’ll Love

Aaah, the pairing of two foods that harmoniously go together like peanut butter & jelly, or macaroni & cheese, both pleasing to the soul and the palate. Kudos to the first person to combine each of those classics, BTW. Here, we offer our suggestions of more unusual tasty duos that work into a healthy diet. Most items are basic grocery staples that you can find at the corner market. Warning – taste buds beware of surprise!


01.

Blue Cheese & Pear   

The slightly bold sharpness of blue cheese balances the mild sweet acidity of pear for a hearty and robust combo.

Examples: Anjou pear, crumbled blue cheese and chopped walnut salad drizzled with honey. Roasted bosc pear halves filled with Stilton, cranberries and slivered almonds. Bartlett pear and gorgonzola flat bread pizza with arugula.

02.

Coffee & Meat

Coffee adds a rich earthy tone to meat, plus it contains natural acids that tenderize. Coffee accentuates the savory flavor of meat while balancing the pepper, chiles and sugars common in meat recipes.

Examples:  Fresh coffee grounds and spice dry-rubbed pork loin chops. Add a shot of espresso to lean ground beef chili for a punch. Skirt steak marinated in chilled strong coffee overnight.

03.

Eggs & Green Veggie 

Breakfast marries dinner in this combination of protein, fiber and vitamins that can serve as a dish its own right.

Examples: Spinach and poached egg atop 7-grain toast w/ feta. Soft-cooked egg and potato-zucchini hash. Scrambled egg and asparagus with whole wheat noodles.

04.

Figs & Pistachios       

This match made in heaven jazzes up plain old bread or crackers and soft cheese for a filling snack with WOW appeal!

Examples: Diced figs and pistachios mixed with honey atop warm brie on a baguette. Fig jam with goat cheese and pistachios atop toast rounds. Fig halves filled with ricotta cheese and toasted pistachios, served with crackers.

05.

Peanuts & Chilies  

The heat and crunch from this duo add boldness to plain/mild items like tofu and starches. The intense spicy flavors fade while the satiety of peanuts last.

Examples: Peanut butter and sriracha sauce on a side dish of noodles.  Finely diced peanuts and jalapeno with cayenne over a scoop of brown rice.

06.

Pomegranate & Meat

 

The sweet-tart aspect of pomegranate plus the umami flavor of meat make for excellent sweet and savory entrées.

Examples: Glaze roasted chicken with reduced pomegranate juice. Beef chuck roast braised with pomegranate juice and dry red wine.

07.

Prosciutto & Melon 

Another sweet and savory blend that is a flavorful snack on its own or an addition to green salads.

Examples: Prosciutto wrapped honeydew slices with mint leaves. Caprese-style stacks of prosciutto, cantaloupe and mozzarella slices with basil leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

08.

Sauerkraut & Cheese

 

The creaminess of cheese with the bite of sauerkraut make for a tangy pair with crunch.

Examples:  Grilled Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on rye sandwiches. Layered al dente egg noodles, shredded part-skim mozzarella and sauerkraut, baked as a casserole. Quesadillas made with low-fat cheddar, well-drained sauerkraut and thin Granny apple slices.

09.

Strawberry & Tomato

These vitamin C packed fruits are light and refreshing. Strawberries subtly enhance the sweetness of tomatoes.

Examples: Strawberry and heirloom tomato salad tossed with basil and lemon juice. Strawberry tomato gazpacho. Roasted tomato halves topped with strawberry slices, fresh tarragon and oregano, drizzled with apple cider vinegar.

10.

Vinaigrette & Fish

 

The acidity and herbs from vinegar-based sauces (plus fat from the oil) make for tender, flavorful fish.

Examples: Vidalia onion vinaigrette over seared or pan-fried tilapia and halibut. Citrus vinaigrette works with stronger fish like tuna or swordfish. Soy vinaigrette on chilled leftover salmon.


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