Nutritional Advice for Lowering BMI

Nutritional Advice for Lowering BMI

Question:

Hello my name is Lateshia S., I am 5’6” and weigh 170 pounds. I was trying to figure out how many calories a day would I need to eat, and what foods should and shouldn’t eat in order to achieve my goal of becoming leaner. When I did my fitness assessment I believe my BMI was about 27% and so I’m trying to get down to about 20-22% and I already exercise for an hour, 3 days a week since starting my membership in late June. So as far as dieting goes what should I do to see a change?

– Lateshia S.

Answer:

As far as calories go, you can use the base of 1,800-2,100 calories per day for a 5’6”, 170 lb., 30-year-old woman with your activity level to lose weight and adjust by 70 calories for every decade your actual age differs from thirty.

Some people have success by shifting to smaller portions or lower-calorie options of what they currently eat. Others do better with a more drastic change by eliminating fried items, fast food, and pre-packaged meals while adopting fresh wholesome salads, grilled poultry, and home-cooked meals. Even shifting calories to earlier in the day by eating a bigger breakfast and foregoing anything after a certain hour (say, 8 PM) can help prevent excess calorie storage.

Generalities of “eat fewer calories”, “reduce fat” and “increase fruits and vegetables” can apply to the vast majority of people looking to become leaner. What you need to eat depends on what you are currently eating. Only you know what and how much you are consuming. If you don’t know – find out by recording your intake and examine a few days’ worth with a decent diet analysis program. You might identify areas in which you need to improve.

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

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Mini Nutrition Hacks

Mini Nutrition Hacks

Cheats to save you time and money for the best of health. 

Frozen beverage cubes 

Fill an ice cube tray with leftover coffee, lemonade, tea or other non-carbonated drink so you can use them later to chill similar drinks without dilution for maximum energy and taste. 

DIY produce wash  

Rinsing isn’t enough to remove pesticide residue and waxes from fruits and vegetables. It’s easy to make your own wash with baking soda and water. We suggest the recipe we found here: https://www.healthline.com/health/mini-hack-diy-fruit-and-vegetable-wash 

Pureed vegetables 

Don’t want to chew on more rabbit food? Yep, blenderize leftover cooked veggies so the vitamin-rich puree can be used in soups, spreads, and sauces. Best if used up to a ratio of 1 part puree to 3 parts liquid/paste of similar color (red + green = brown). 

Diced crisp greens 

If you’re not into eating a pile of leaves, these savory little gems fit as garnish for everything from pasta, potatoes, and salads to soup. Tear well-dried kale leaves or dice Brussel sproutstoss in extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 degrees F on sheet pans until crisp. Stir every few minutes and keep an eye on them so they don’t char. 

Grease & oil sopperupper  

Use the inside of used paper grocery bags laid over newspaper as underlayment for just cooked meats, cookies, and fried foods to absorb extra grease and oils. Unlined paper plates (the lightweight matte ones) also work well but aren’t eco-conscious. 

Appetite dampener 

Before you grocery shop or head to that party, eat an entire raw apple and drink a cup of water to fill you up, thereby reducing impulse buys and unintended high-calorie nibbles. 

Portion tricks 

Fool your eyes into thinking you’re getting more than you actually are by using smaller cups, bowls, and plates. When you finish these smaller containers filled with food, you’ll feel more satisfied than eating from partially full larger ones that leave you wanting more. 

Double up 

Cook once but eat twice! Plan on using leftovers for a subsequent quick meal by preparing your first meal with double the quantity. Go even bigger by tripling and freezing a third full meal portion. 


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When Bulking Up Isn’t Working

When Bulking Up Isn’t Working

Question:

I’m trying to bulk up, but I keep losing weight. I’m down to 142 lbs. I mostly eat turkey sandwiches and chicken breast.

– Donald M.

Answer:

First and foremost, Donald, please visit your healthcare provider as unexplained weight loss could be the result of an underlying medical condition. If you have any GI problems or trouble chewing, there are interventions to assist with breaking down your food.

That said, here are my tips for bulking up…  Eating more volume is an obvious plan. Adding calories to what you already eat is important. Your turkey sandwiches need to be laden with avocado, full-fat mayonnaise, pesto or cheese to maximize calories. Chicken breast can be breaded, fried, or served with sauces and creams to increase energy density.

Get the most out of every bite by making sure starches are dressed with heavier condiments – baked potato with butter and cream cheese, pasta with alfredo or pesto, risotto with cream sauce, etc. Opt for the densest version of food items like dried fruit vs fresh, granola vs cereal, and tortillas vs bread. Choose energy-rich produce (e.g. bananas, cherries, peas, sweet potato) over watery varieties. Use nut butters on crackers, rolls and in shakes.

Power-pack your beverages by adding a couple spoonsful of the concentrated version to your fluid. For example, pour some evaporated milk into your glass of milk or thawed juice concentrate into your OJ. Use leftover drinks to make ice cubes to use later instead of regular ice (water has no calories).

– 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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To Wash or Not Wash Organic Fruit?

To Wash or Not Wash Organic Fruit?

Question:

If you buy organic fruit, do you have to peel the skin (e.g., from apple)? Do you have to still wash the fruit thoroughly?

– Michael J.

Answer:

Dashing out the door, I’ll admit that sometimes if my fruit is organic I won’t take time to wash it. But I should! Though organic produce is not treated with pesticides or herbicides, there is the chance for contamination from the spraying of nearby fields, handling, and processing. Cold germs can even get on your fruit at the grocery store from other shoppers. In a review of over 200 studies, researchers found that organic produce was equally likely to be infected with E. coli compared with conventional produce*. Yes, wash your fruit thoroughly! No need to peel it.

For further reading see our July 2018 article What No One Tells You About Organic Produce

* Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review. C Smith-Spangler, et al. Annual of Internal Medicine. Sept 2012; 157(5): 348-366.

– 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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Airline Crew – Healthy Food Options

Airline Crew – Healthy Food Options

Question:

Could you recommend any best practices, storage methods, perishable and non-perishable food items, protein shakes, or other helpful tips for flight attendants or airline crew who desire to eat healthily but have limited access to refrigeration or healthy food options while on 3-5 day work trips?

– Ryjean R.

Answer:

The two flight attendants I asked replied that they usually bring hard boiled eggs, avocados, salsa, sealed chicken apple sausages, green smoothie singles, lots of sturdy fruits like apples and oranges, nuts and seeds, carrots, jicama, and celery sticks with almond butter. For meals: vacuum-packed brown and white rice (can be served cold with cheese cubes and peas/corn), pasta salad with diced ham, or some frozen items like homemade casseroles or chicken curriesmicrowave required. Having a good cooler is essential!

Also see our previous answer to another flight question – What meals can I pack that will keep for up to 5 days, and that will help me lose weight?

– 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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Recommended Reading - Q+A

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