Nutrition for Slow Weight Loss | QA

Nutrition for Slow Weight Loss | QA

Question:

I have been a member at the LA Fitness in Dunedin, Florida for 5 months. I have had very slow progress in losing weight. I am down from 207 lbs. to 194 lbs.; my body fat has remained at about 133 lbs. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, have a whey drink in the middle of the morning, chicken or the like at lunch with green beans and no bread, and yogurt for dinner. Help. I am 5 ft 4 inches tall and work out every other day with a trainer then do 25 mins on a stationary bike at level 8. Do you have a menu to help me lose the pounds?

– Adam F.

Answer:

There are plenty of menus to be found on sites like Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, and FitBit, or you can attempt to create your own. Rather than following a preset menu that has nothing to do with you, consider outlining a meal plan with guidelines for you to follow. You’re better assured to stick by parameters that you identify as being relevant to your dietary habits. See other members’ success stories under the Motivation tab of the Living Healthy blog and check out how one man overcame diet plan indecision here 

My feedback on your described diet thus far is that there is very little detail or diversity and unknown portions. Remember that your body thrives on feeding it adequate nutrition including vitamins, mineral and water, not just macronutrient calories.

Why not try switching it up a bit and have egg-avocado-whole grain toast for breakfast, plain nonfat Greek or Skyr yogurt with fresh fruit for snack, tuna salad and greens for lunch, then stir fried vegetables with mukimame (soybeans) for dinner one day? 

Keep up the consistent exercise, Adam! You’re making progress and your body adapts so remember to continually push yourself by increasing the time, intensity or duration of your workouts. 

– 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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How to Add Exercise to Your Busy Lifestyle

How to Add Exercise to Your Busy Lifestyle

Making time to exercise can be a balancing act… work, kids, after school activities, family & friend obligations, just to name a few.

The most common excuse for not exercising: “No time,” says clinical psychologist Lavinia Rodriguez.1

How to make time for exercise

How do you make the time for exercise when you have no time?

Morning Workout. Fitness experts will suggest a morning workout. Why? Because life gets crazier as the day goes on. By getting in a workout first thing in the morning, you have time for other day-to-day stuff without having to think about when you are going to fit in a workout.

Find a Friend. Grab, drag, or bribe a friend to come with you. Having your best bud or accountability partner come with you can make workouts so much fun! Keep one another accountable, set goals, or create challenges with one another. Having someone to go with you means you are less likely to make excuses not to go to the gym.

Write it down. Create a schedule for yourself. Take time on Sunday evening before you go to bed and write down your schedule for the week. Then find pockets of time where you can go to the gym and commit to your schedule. Once you’ve committed to your schedule, it’s less likely that you are going to break it and less likely to make excuses.

Set small goals. Small goals can be BIG wins! Start with working out one or two days per week. These small goals will turn into a routine and eventually become a habit.

Decide. You must decide that you are going to make time for exercise. Make the decision and follow through with it. There will be days when you don’t want to go to the gym, that’s when you need to prove your willpower.

Set your alarm. Set your alarm so you don’t forget. If you set your alarm for the morning, it’s not always easy waking up early. Challenge yourself not to hit snooze. Put your feet on the ground, get vertical, and start walking around. If you set your alarm for the afternoon, you may be hurting for time, but everyone needs to take a break. What you will soon realize is that working out helps improve productivity. So, hit the gym!

Don’t stress. Bottom line, any exercise is better than no exercise. Do what you can, when you can. Don’t stress out or put pressure on yourself because you didn’t make it to the gym.

For even more tips on how to add exercise to your schedule, check out these Workout Strategies for a Busy Lifestyle, or, read up on . For all our blog posts, and to get notified when we upload something new, subscribe today!

SOURCES

  1. Lavinia Rodriguez, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management (iUniverse, 2008).

 

Losing Weight When You Love Bread and Cheese | QA

Losing Weight When You Love Bread and Cheese | QA

Question:

I really want to lose stomach fat and thigh fat, but I also really love food which is a problem. What tasty foods can I have but still lose the fat? I don’t do very well with an only fruits and veggies diet; can I have pasta? Maybe rice? Bread? Cheese? Thanks! 

– Abigail C.

Answer:

Once upon a time there was a potato chip whose fat couldn’t be digested. Hurray for the crisp lovers! Unfortunately, people experienced digestive issues and such products went by the wayside. Common sense prevailed that fried snacks need to be limited not re-engineered. I share the story because you seem to want “tasty” foods that aren’t fattening. That depends on what your taste buds are, of course! 

I agree a traditional salad won’t do. To me, colorful plates of mixed textures and strong/mild flavors hit the spot. Enjoying your food healthily means incorporating favorite items in a portion-controlled way. Pasta or rice should comprise only a quarter of your plate.

For bread and cheese, focus on whole grain breads (two ounces per meal) and stronger flavor cheeses (an ounce maximum). So foot long subs, mac n’ cheese and lasagna are out. Pear with blue cheese crumbles, an English muffin pizza and chicken + mushroom wild rice soup are in.  

You can achieve successful weight loss on an infinite number of diets that include or exclude one particular type of food. Don’t like broccoli? Then opt for zucchini or other green vegetables. Beef lover? Stick to 3-4 ounce servings of sirloin and tenderloin. Grossed out by the texture of cottage cheese? Substitute Greek yogurt or diced tofu. The keys are: 1) wholesome naturally low-calorie foods (like plants) should make up the majority of your diet; 2) no matter which foods you choose to eat, most should be raw, freshly grilled, steamed or baked and little of it fried (in real oil, please). 

– 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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Member Spotlight | The Value of Personal Training

Member Spotlight | The Value of Personal Training

“Throughout our sessions [my trainer] was able to tailor specific routines for me and quickly adjust as required for my preferences and accommodate for chronic injuries.”

Martyn D.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

An Unexpected Turning Point 

Martyn D. is an LA Fitness member who changed his lifestyle when he least expected. With a busy work schedule and a long-standing shoulder injury, Martyn found himself “in a slump, with little to no change in [his] routines and inspiration.” 

One day, he won a few free training sessions at LA Fitness and was hooked ever since. “I enjoyed them so much I decided to continue for the 6-month program,” Martyn says. 

If you’re hesitant to start a workout routine due to an injury, or if you’re in an emotional funk, Martyn’s story is the perfect example to showcase how proper guidance from a qualified instructor can help you move towards your goals.

Personal Training Made a Big Difference 

The key to personal training is the fact that it is customized for you. It’s not just about having someone tell you what to do.  

Martyn appreciated that his trainer, Patrick, “was approachable and easy to talk to” and that he took the time to really flesh out his personal fitness goals. 

“Throughout our sessions he was able to tailor specific routines for me and quickly adjust as required for my preferences and accommodate for chronic injuries,” explains Martyn, “he was also flexible with my schedule when I had limited time with work.” 

Overcoming Injuries 

Injuries can pose a myriad of obstacles when it comes to working out. Some people will advise you to use the muscles lightly, others will advise you to avoid all activities that may strain the muscles further.  

One advantage of having a qualified trainer is in your access to their knowledgebase on muscle recovery and on proper form. Martyn shares that despite a shoulder injury that had been bothering him for years, Patrick “has been able to significantly help by strengthening weak areas and improving [his] form, both of which allow [him] to lift more.” 

What’s Next for Martyn? 

“Exercising has always been a stress outlet for me with a sense of accomplishment afterwards” says Martyn. However, the added improvement really boosts those feelings. Call me a glutton for punishment but I plan on staying active for as long as I can. I still browse online videos for different exercises to try out but having a knowledgeable pro on hand is invaluable. Plus, he would not let me slackoff, which I appreciate afterwards. 

Closing Thoughts 

Having the help of a personal trainer can make a world of difference. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete who is looking for new ways to test your abilities, or just starting out, some knowledgeable guidance can go a long way. Martyn is living proof that personalized training, paired with a commitment to your goals, can produce real changes that you can be proud of. 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 


 

For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided.

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What Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Do for Your Health

What Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Do for Your Health

November 7th was National Bittersweet Chocolate and Almonds Day! With this tasty treat still on everyone’s mind, let’s talk about what has been learned about the benefits of this bittersweet indulgence. Perhaps because researchers just wanted to prove that chocolate can be healthy, the work has been done to study its nutrients and their effects on the body.  

By now, you may already know some of what they have unearthed. First and foremost, that bittersweet chocolate, that is at least 65% cacao, wins the nutrition battle over milk chocolate. In case you haven’t heard, or if you’d like to know more, allow us to give you a few reasons why you should add some dark chocolate (and almonds) to your snack drawer. 

Dark Chocolate and Almonds are Both Loaded with Antioxidants

Antioxidant and Free Radical Diagram

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Antioxidants are those agents that help shield your body from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause cells to lose their ability to function normally.1

Essentially, free radicals hang out in your body with only one electron. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these free radicals seek out healthy atoms in your body to steal one of their electrons. When those healthy atoms lose an electron to a free radical, this causes damage to it.

Antioxidants help by giving free radicals the electron they need so they don’t steal it from other cells. 

A study comparing cocoa powder and dark chocolate with super-fruit powders and juices found that the former had the same, or significantly larger, amounts of antioxidants and flavanols!2

The article explains that cacao powder successfully competes with or outperforms the antioxidant power of blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate powders.2 It’s pretty nice to know that cacao seeds qualify as a super food! 

 

Antioxidants and Flavanols

We should back up a bit here, however, because you might be wondering what flavanols are and why you need them. 

Flavanols are interesting because, according to a chocolate-making company called Ombar, they are actually very mildly toxic! This toxicity, however, prompts your body to produce more of its own antioxidants.3 This might be why chocolate is able to pack such a healthful punch. Not only does it contain antioxidants, it also stimulates your body’s natural production. 

As for almonds, eating them with the skin will get you more antioxidants than eating almonds without the skin.4 You can enjoy them roasted or raw, but the key is in that outer protective layer. Next time you reach for a bar of dark chocolate, choose one that contains unskinned almonds. 

 

Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Both Benefit Your Blood 

They Can Lower Your Blood Pressure:

The flavanols in dark chocolate are partly responsible for the lowering of your blood pressure,2 while magnesium is behind this benefit in almonds.5 Fortunately, almonds contain 20% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium.5 

They Can Lower Blood Sugar:

In dark chocolate, the antioxidants may help your body use its insulin more efficiently, and as a result, this can help lower your blood sugar.6 In almonds, magnesium comes back to play another role. It happens to help control your blood sugar by increasing your insulin sensitivity.5  

They Can Help Prevent Blood Clots:

A study on cocoa’s effects on platelet activation and function concluded that cocoa had “an Aspirin-like effect” on blood.7 Almonds, which are naturally high in Vitamin E, have a blood-thinning effect for this reason.8 

Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Improve Your Brain Function 

Strokes and Dementia

A study was conducted to measure the brain’s responses to cognitive tasks after eating flavanol-rich cocoa. The most notable conclusion drawn from this study was that the cocoa significantly increased blood flow to gray matter in the brain.9 The study suggests that this means cocoa flavanols have the potential to aid in the treatment of strokes and dementia.9 

Memory Problems and Neuro-Degenerative Diseases

Almonds, on the other hand, can help protect the brain from age-related memory problems and neurodegenerative diseases.10 This is because they contain nutrients like tocopherol, folate, mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols. In separate studies, these nutrients have “shown promise as possible dietary supplements to prevent or delay the onset of age-associated cognitive dysfunction.”10 

 

While technically these neurological effects have been observed by researchers, it’s still wise to take this information with a grain of salt. There is not enough information to prove that eating dark chocolate or almonds will improve your brain function by statistically significant numbers.  

We think this information just goes to show that what your body needs can be found in an assortment of natural foods and ingredients, whereas highly processed foods strip most of those benefits away.  

How Much is Healthy for You? 

Dark Chocolate

We’d like to say, after learning the many benefits, that we can eat as much dark chocolate and almonds as we’d like. Unfortunately, we’re too aware of the truth in the statement that “it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.”  

Looking closer at what we’ve shared with you so far, you may notice that all the benefits of dark chocolate lie in the cocoa powder. The other ingredients in your chocolate bar, like sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, do more harm than good in large amounts.  

The recommended portion of dark chocolate that allows you to reap the benefits and avoid too much of those other ingredients, is about an ounce and a half per day.11 That’s about half or 1/3 of a standard chocolate bar. 

Almonds

As for almonds, the recommended portion is about one ounce, or 23 kernels.12 Because almonds are high in calories, fat, and fiber, eating too many can lead to weight gain as well as gastrointestinal problems from the excess of fiber. So, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water if you’re planning on having more than a small handful.  

For more healthy snacking ideas, read our Super Snacking Guide. Or, listen to our podcast on How to Read a Nutrition Label to prepare yourself for your next grocery trip. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. Liou, Stephanie. “About Free Radical Damage.” HOPES Huntington’s Disease Information, 11 Oct. 2015, hopes.stanford.edu/about-free-radical-damage/.
  2. Crozier, Stephen J, et al. “Cacao Seeds Are a ‘Super Fruit’: A Comparative Analysis of Various Fruit Powders and Products.” BMC Chemistry, BioMed Central, 7 Feb. 2011, bmcchem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5. 
  3. Ombar. “Flavanols in Cacao – What Are They and What Do They Do?” Ombar, 2017, www.ombar.co.uk/blogs/news/flavanols-in-cacao-what-are-they-and-what-do-they-do. 
  4. Garrido, I, et al. “Polyphenols and Antioxidant Properties of Almond Skins: Influence of Industrial Processing.” Journal of Food Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18298714. 
  5. Leech, Joe. “9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Almonds.” Healthline, 6 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds. \
  6. Doheny, Kathleen. “Pick Dark Chocolate for Health Benefits.” WebMD, WebMD, 24 Apr. 2012, www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120424/pick-dark-chocolate-health-benefits#1. 
  7. Rein, Dietrich, et al. “Cocoa Inhibits Platelet Activation and Function.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 July 2000, academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/72/1/30/4729373. 
  8. Doucette, Chrystal. “Almonds As a Blood Thinner.” Healthfully, 15 Oct. 2019, healthfully.com/485795-almonds-as-a-blood-thinner.html. 
  9. Francis, S T, et al. “The Effect of Flavanol-Rich Cocoa on the FMRI Response to a Cognitive Task in Healthy Young People.” Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461. 
  10. Batool, Zehra, et al. “Repeated Administration of Almonds Increases Brain Acetylcholine Levels and Enhances Memory Function in Healthy Rats While Attenuates Memory Deficits in Animal Model of Amnesia.” Brain Research Bulletin, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26548495. 
  11. DeNoon, Daniel J. “A Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/diet/news/20040601/dark-chocolate-day-keeps-doctor-away#1. 
  12. Wolf, Nicki. “Side Effects of Eating Too Many Almonds.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 8 Feb. 2019, www.livestrong.com/article/468243-side-effects-of-eating-a-lot-of-almonds/. 

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