Hunger – The Biggest Weight-Loss Obstacle?

hungry
Today marks the second consecutive day in a row in which I’ve immediately come across a doom and gloom weight-loss article. Perhaps this just a formula for writers to drive a home their main argument, but I think these articles have a way of beating down our resolve, causing a double hand throw in the air and a long look in the ‘goodies’ closet to once again celebrate defeat.
You can read the article in question here, but I’ll save you 1,000 words of reading by simply saying that the initial position of the article is that it’s purely hunger that is the true obstacle of weight-loss. Now, if you’re on a severely restrictive diet (which either means you’re in a life or death situation and under a Doctor’s direct care, or you’ve chosen a really, really poor diet) of course hunger will be a problem. However, while there are always obstacles to losing weight and even maintaining your target weight, I wouldn’t have placed ‘hunger’ in even the top 5. In fact, when I work with clients, I can’t tell you how many times I repeat “do not let yourself get hungry”. This may sound obvious, but the trick is to have a solid plan and stick to it. By doing so, you can basically eliminate hunger, or, at very least, as the article soundly suggested at one point, be easily able to cope with it if your next meal is right around the corner.

Here’s a sample of the article:

Is it possible to lose weight without hunger? Logic tells us it’s not. If dropping pounds were easy, we’d all be wearing the same size jeans we wore in high school.
The reason it’s not easy is that your body is trying to protect you. “It sucks to diet, unfortunately,” says Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., author of The Fat Loss Prescription. “Our bodies fight to regain that weight.”
Not everyone regains it, to be sure. In a Penn State study, about one in six adults who lost at least 10 percent of their maximum body weight were able to keep it off for a year or longer.
Average sustained weight loss in that group was 42 pounds. But that still leaves five out of six who regained some or all of it.
“Hunger becomes an issue whenever you try to lose weight,” Dr. Nadolsky says. “It’s difficult to continue to eat less when we have a physiological drive to eat more.”
When everything under the hood is running smoothly, hunger should reflect how much food you need to keep your body at its current size, give or take a pound or two.

Again, I recognize that the article might be using these supporting statements to set up the “8 ways to combat hunger” as mentioned in the title of the article, but I just don’t believe it’s as big an issue as it wants you to believe. Clients demonstrate a more difficult time with letting go of poor eating habits (read: cravings) than anything else, but those can easily be dealt with. If hunger is your biggest problem with your weight-loss program, it’s likely the program that is at fault, not you. Overly restrictive diets, or weight-loss programs with high intensity workouts without properly nutrition could be two big drivers.

The Misinterpretation Of “Diet”

diets
For a lot of people, simply hearing the word “diet” is enough to put them in a brain-locking tail-spin with visions of deprivation and carrot sticks.  The word seems to be synonymous with hunger pains, bland food, and tiny portions, conjuring feelings of not only boredom, but pure dread.  This goes hand in hand with black and white thinking, starting with complete over-indulgence (a period of time where we don’t consider food quality and portion control at all) to a 180 degree swing to absurd rigidness in an attempt to compensate for bad behavior.

An example of this rigidness is our own 30 day fat shred program.  It’s designed to help you quickly reset your body by feeding it high quality food and removing the processed junk that is breaking down your body. However, it’s a program with a fixed length.  It’s not a practical life-long eating plan.  It’s meant to reset and then reintroduce foods smartly and with true moderation.  It helps not only with weight loss but with food addictions, namely sugar.

What’s missing from this life-sucking loop is implementing a feasible and adoptable eating plan.  Sure, you love your pancakes and can’t imagine a life without them, but do you really need them 4 times a week?  When food is a significant part of fabric of your life, it’s likely being used to deal with emotions and, newsflash, it’s not helping you cope, but actually making matters worse.

Where To Start?

Let’s assume, though, that you’re ready to create an adoptable plan, one that’s meant to be a way of life rather than a fixed-length diet.  Where do you start? Well, there are different approaches.  If food isn’t an addiction for you and you want to jump right in, you can start by following the 80/20 rule. Take 80% of your calories from whole, unprocessed, real foods, and save 20% of calories for indulgences.  Doing so will allow you to avoid feelings of deprivation without overdoing it by forcing good portion control.  Remember, the last bite of our favorite food is never as good as the first, so no sense in binge eating and derailing your entire week when you’re getting so little reward.

If you’re someone who needs to step down slowly, you can start small and make incremental changes each week until you reach the end goal of 80/20.  You can start by using a different ratio, or, by adding more unprocessed foods and vegetables at the start (which will make you too full for more junk) and eliminate more processed and unnatural foods each week.

Healthy foods aren’t boring

If you’re in the mindset that eating healthy means boring, you’re not following the right recipes. Cooking with unprocessed, fresh, natural foods makes delicious meals that won’t invite post meal crashing, bloating, and poor digestion.  As a bonus, the more meals you replace, you’ll notice your cravings for heavily salted foods with a lot of sugar and fat will diminish.  Remember, however, that you still can have the foods you crave, just a little less frequently and in smaller doses.

So, let’s change how we react to the word diet.  Let’s stop associating it with negative feelings and displeasure and start associating it simply to the construct of how you eat.  After all, your personal diet (how you eat) means something completely different than a cabbage soup diet, right?

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The Case Against Low-Fat Milk Is Stronger Than Ever

Gallon of Whole Milk

Low Fat vs. Full Fat Diary

The war on low fat vs. full fat dairy rages on!  For that matter, so does the long-standing debate around eating dairy at all! I think it’s just part of our culture and our human nature to endlessly bicker about the nuances of dieting while completely ignoring the problem from a macro level; but let’s save that for another post.  Let’s assume dairy IS part of your diet and that you truly want to know which is best for you.

Despite the fact that a recent article from Time magazine seems to posit that eating full fat dairy may actually be better for you, the body of the article, if read correctly, really says it’s up to you. Well, rather, it’s up to you based on your needs.

Read: The Case Against Low-Fat Milk Is Stronger Than Ever

Despite seemingly taking a side, though, the article isn’t about which is inherently healthier.  It’s rather about how studies demonstrate how people work dairy into their daily lives.

the body of data is beginning to reveal both that full-fat dairy has a place in a healthy diet, and also how focusing on one nutrient in the diet may backfire. When dietary guidelines began urging people to lower the amount of fat they ate, the idea was to reduce the amount of cholesterol and unhealthy fats in the body. But by focusing just on cutting out fat, experts didn’t count on the fact that people would compensate for the missing fat and start loading up on carbohydrates, which the body converts into sugar—and then body fat.

then

 people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels

Despite this good initial data, which started down the path that the full-fat versions were, in fact, inherently better, the remainder of the article supports the idea that those who eat low fat dairy generally eat less fat on a whole, replacing fats with higher carb, higher sugar foods.  Doing so will obviously translate to not only weight gain but higher risk for disease.

I fully support their admonishment to avoid doing just this.  Removing necessary macronutrients like healthy fats (we’re looking at you Avacado) is not the right path to heathy weight-loss.

I personally use low fat and fat free dairy, but only due to the calorie content.  I do not shy away from healthy fats like nuts and olive oils, though.  However, for how little I eat dairy I can easily cut a few calories by using the fat free version of milk for my coffee or the occasional bowl of whole grain cereal.

So, to answer the original question, which is better is up to you. If you like the taste of full fat dairy and have your daily calorie target under control, then definitely have it. If you need to find easy ways to cut down on calories to stay within your goal, using the fat-free version is a simple way to help.  Do not, however, cast ‘fat’ on a whole as an evil and substitute healthy fats for processed junk.  This message is to those who specifically seek to continue to eat low fat and fat free versions of junk food to avoid changing habits.  Fats are a necessary macronutrient, you just need to avoid the unhealthy saturated fats and trans-fats found in processed garbage you find on the supermarket shelves.

 
Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

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5 Ways To Increase Your Motivation

motivation

One of the most common weight-loss questions is “how to stay motivated?”.  It definitely makes the top 3 list and is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Sure, most of us can white knuckle through a week of clean eating and working out, but long term success comes from translating that into a life-long commitment.

To help satisfy this oft-asked question, here are the top 5 sources of motivation for me.

  • Calorie Tracking – I don’t know why so many weight loss programs are so quick to advertise “no counting calories!” It’s as if this simple and impactful activity is time-consuming and tedious. While this may have been the case a decade or two ago, using a free app on your smartphone has reduced it to child’s play.  I literally spend 1 minute a day logging what I eat and the payback is phenomenal.  It holds you accountable to your target, it opens your eyes to what you’re eating, and it makes it snap to recognize easy swaps that can make a big impact on your intake
  • Activity Tracking – For the same basic awareness principle as calorie tracking, understanding how many calories you’re burning each week is the other side of the puzzle (the calories out vs. the calories in above). Quite simply, it will make you aware of your intensity and your total calorie expenditure both of which will make you more aware of how long it takes to burn off a simple 20oz bottle of soda.  Knowing that will make you want to skip it.  Again, it’s about awareness
  • A well-constructed plan – Sadly, it’s entirely too common for people to have no plan at all. Instead, trying to live by the concept of moderation, which is not only imprecise, but completely underestimated.  A well-constructed plan (which will count calories, track workouts, have goals, consider macronutrient ratios, food quality, and many other elements) will keep you motivated by not only keeping you accountable, but by providing you with a specific road-map rather than wandering blindly without results.  A plan of simple moderation will allow you to have birthday cake at an office party on a whim.  A well-constructed plan will have a time when that’s allowed, but will not give you carte blanche access to derailing treats.
  • Friendly Competition – nothing motivates like a little competition. Grab a friend and do a class or go through a strength training workout together. Without even giving much though, I bet you find that you automatically up your intensity when you know someone else is watching.  That’s just inherent to our nature.
  • Results – Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing (for me) motivates like results. I dare you to find success in a 3 week program and completely fall off in week 4 (this will ONLY happen if your plan is entirely too restrictive or entirely too grueling). The key is to have a well-constructed plan that you can live with long term.  If you can master that, than the results will keep you hanging on like nothing else.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

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Sleep Munchies: Why It’s Harder To Resist Snacks When We’re Tired

sleep

Article by Allison Aubrey, published on NPR.Org

What’s it about?

The article posits that not getting adequate sleep leads to higher rates of snacking.

Why?

““Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.

Now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation (getting less than five hours of sleep per night) produces higher peaks of a lipid in our bloodstream known as an endocannabinoid that may make eating more pleasurable.

So, what’s an endocannabinoid? If you look at the word closely, you may already have a clue. The prefix endo means inner, or within. And cannabinoid looks like … you got it: cannabis.””

The Study

““The study was divided into two parts, each lasting four days. For one session, the participants were allowed to follow a normal sleep schedule, about 8 1/2 hours per night.

But during the other session, they agreed to a crazy schedule. They went to bed at 1 a.m. and were woken up at 5:30 a.m., so that they got a maximum of just 4.5 hours of sleep per night.

In both sessions, study participants were offered buffet-style meals and plenty of snacks, including candy and chips.

“They were given way more food than they could ever eat, “says Hanlon.

It turned out that when participants were sleep deprived, they ate about 400 more calories from snacks. That’s “a lot more,” Hanlon says.”

In Summary

Getting adequate sleep is in the top 5 rules of most weight-loss plans. This new evidence lends an additional reason to get your ZZZ’s. If stress and anxiety is leading to insomnia for you, seek help in working out the issue.  From recovery and muscle growth to satiety, it seems it’s a huge component of successful weight management.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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Man To Survive On Potatoes For A Year!

potato

This real life Mark Watney is trying to survive for a year on nothing but potatoes, says an article by Jennie Jackson from “Quartz”. Read the full article here.

From Jackson:

“In an attempt to lose weight and improve his relationship with food, Andrew Taylor has decided to eat nothing but potatoes for a year. But is this approach likely to work, or will he run out of nutrients? And could he have chosen a better single food On which to live?”

The skinny: The article walks through the how and why and discusses the pros and cons of selecting the potato as the single food of choice.

What’s good: While the potato does offer a wide array of nutrients, the article eventually came to the same conclusion I had when I started reading; that your diet should consist of a wide variety of foods because of vast number of nutrients it needs to serve all of its functions. Obviously, then, no single food would cover everything, and only eating a variety of foods from all of the groups will help you achieve optimal health.

Conclusion: The idea behind the rather bizarre plan is novel. Removing processed foods, especially those riddled with saturated fat, sugar, and sodium can do wonders for improving health and removing unhealthy cravings, but rather than stick to one single food, load up on vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and lean proteins.

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Should You Give Up Dairy To Lose Weight?

dairy

This was the title of a recent article by Julie Stewart from fitness magazine.  She writes “Here’s a surprising statistic: One in 10 millennials are vegan, according to a report in Nutrition Business Journal. Call it a lifestyle or call it an elimination diet—either way, it’s picking up steam due in part to like backers like Beyoncé. (Who doesn’t want to be a little more like Queen Bey?!) And even Khloé Kardashian recently claimed that she lost 11 pounds just by cutting cheese and milk from her diet.”

Having backers like Beyonce, Khloe, and social media tends to send things viral:

“Social media has also spread the word about blogs and other media touting veganism. Many restaurants have added vegan options, and stores are stocking more plant-based substitutes for meat, dairy, and egg products, eliminating some of the roadblocks that used to make vegan diets hard to stick to, she says.

Ditching dairy for environmental or animal welfare reasons is totally a personal choice, but going vegan as a way to lose weight is a little more complicated. Just because it worked for Khloé doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have the same effect on you.”

Aside from the obvious rebuttal that dairy does have its benefits by being good sources of Vitamin D (something too many of us are showing deficiency) and calcium, if your diet is already a mess, simply removing dairy isn’t going to do much good.  This is true for any one type of food you may read to eliminate (or add, as is the case with the recent study showing protein consumption will aide in fat-loss).  PS, this is certainly not a knock against veganism, this is more of a warning to those with a traditional diet to be careful about removing categories of food without understand the role it plays in your diet and, more importantly, to be more aware of what else you’re eating.

The best approach for weight-loss is to be sensible.  Eat a wide variety of food to ensure you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.  Cut back on processed foods and added sugars, get your exercise, and watch your calories.

This is what it’s meant to live mindfully, and you can check out our full Mindful Living program here.

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3 Easy Ways To Cut Calories

calories

If you’re a believer in the pure mathematical approach to weight-loss: “burn more calories than you consume”, then your daily calorie count is of utmost importance.  By now, it’s common knowledge that to lose 1lb per week, you need to create a daily deficit of 500 calories.  Too many people think exercise alone will help, but even a good 30 minutes will only yield you about 300 calories.  If that’s not enough, add the fact that we tend to eat more after exercise, both due to physiological reasons and our own belief in ‘rewards’.   As such, the best way to help offset calorie surplus is to leverage proper diet.  Since many of us are averse to adopting major changes to our daily habits, here are three quick ways to help create the necessary deficit:

  1. Do not drink your calories – If you’re not a food label lover or being mindful of what you eat and drink, you might be surprised how many calories are in your beverages. If you’re drinking sugary drinks with your meals (fruit juice, soda), energy drinks after workouts, or high calorie dessert beverages (think large coffee bar drinks or smoothies) you’re almost assuredly drinking more than 500 calories a day.  Eliminating these and sticking to regular coffee, tea, water and seltzer (diet soda is bad, stop soda altogether) will not only help cut calories but will help improve your overall health and sense of well-being.
  2. Switch to non-fat dairy – 1 gram of fat carries 9 calories (compare that to 4 calories per gram for both protein and carbs), so if your diet is rich in milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. using low fat or fat free versions can save you a bunch. choose-myplate-selected-consumer-messages-51-728
  3. PrePlan your Snacks and exercise portion control – Although some of us do fine with simply eating 2 to 3 meals a day, most of us snack up to 3 times per day. If handled properly, this is a great way to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.  The problem is that too few of us actually plan snacks and simply wing it by pulling something off the checkout counter or vending machine.  These types of items are typically empty calories, and offer way too many for their serving size.  Preplanning your snacks and making healthy choices will fulfill your need to eat, as well as provide nutrients that will help you feel full. Making better choices can easily shave 100 calorie off of each snack time.

These tricks are part of what it means to live mindfully, and you can check out our full Mindful Living program here.

Also check out our 30 day fat shred program and our online coaching page.

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Building Your Own Meal Plan: The Right Macro-nutrient Ratio For Fat-loss

ratio

If you haven’t heard of macro-nutrient ratios, or even macro-nutrients, this may sound like a super advanced principle, but you’ll quickly realize it’s not only simple, but understanding it can help you build your own meal plan more effectively.

Macro-nutrients, as most commonly used in nutrition-speak, refer to the components of our diets that we need in large quantities.  Specifically Carbohydrate, Protein, and fat. Macro-nutrient ratios, then, are the percentages of each that we consume in a given time frame, usually per day.

Just as it’s true that no person reacts the same to a predefined diet, I will caution that not every person will respond according to generally accepted macro-nutrient rules, but, as much as we can provide a ‘one-size-fits-all’ the following should work for most of us.

The most common goal for folks new to Meal Planning is fat-loss, which is why it landed in the title of this post.  And, you won’t be surprised to learn that of the 3 common ratios, this is the one with the lowest carbohydrate percentage, and the highest protein intake. The ratio is:

Carbohydrate: 10-30% (I’d be careful about going under 15-20% myself, but these are generally accepted amounts)

Protein: 40-50%

Fat: 30-40% (Please understand that the bulk of these fats should be of the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats and omega 3’s.  Saturated fat should be kept under 15 grams per day, and trans-fats should be avoided altogether)

So, what does this mean for your meal plan, how can you tell what the ratios are based on what you eat?

Well, it requires math, but it’s very simple.  You start by knowing how many grams of each macro nutrient you’ve eaten in a day. Then, multiple the grams of Protein and Carbohydrate by 4, and Fat by 9.  This will give you the total calories for the day.  Then simply divide the calories of each macro-nutrient by the total.

So, for example, if you had 1,800 total calories yesterday from 90 grams of Carbs, 225 grams of Protein,

and 60 grams of fat, your total calories per macro would be:

Carbs 90 x 4 = 360

Protein 225 X 4 = 900

Fat 60 x 9 = 540

And your ratios would be:

Carbs = 20% (360/1,800)

Protein = 50% (900/1,800)

Fat = 30% (540/1,800)

This would be a very typical ratio for Fat-loss.  If this is your goal, design your meals to mirror these same ratios, but start first with your total calorie target and work backwards.  And remember, you calorie target should be set 500 calories below your maintenance needs as to create a calorie deficit.

Creating these types of meal plans is something we can help you with, both with our online coaching and our 30 day reset, which focus on the fat-loss ratio.

To recap, here are the suggested ratios by the three primary goals (C/P/F):

Fat-loss: 10-30%/40-50%/30-40%

Maintenance: 30-50%/25-35%/25-35%

Bodybuilding/muscle gain: 40-60%/25-35%/15-25%

Want to make this super easy? Download an app like Lose it! and it will do the work for you. You can see your ratios at a glance each day and adjust as appropriate.

 
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5 Sugary Things You Need To Avoid

soda

I recently did a post talking about all the conflicting information available with regard to Nutrition and Exercise. While there will continue to be controversy over extremes (anything from Paleo to Low-Fat dieting), one of the few universal things we all agree on is our need to significantly cut down on added Sugars.

Ellie Krieger of the Washington Post writes “Beyond adding empty calories and spiking blood glucose, which can contribute to weight gain and the myriad health issues linked with that, eating sugar dramatically increases your risk of dying from a heart attack. A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that people who ate close to 20 percent of their daily calories from added sugar had a whopping 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate half as much. (For clarity, I am talking about added, refined sugar here — the concentrated sweetener put into foods, as opposed to the sugars inherent in whole fruits and dairy. Because those foods are naturally “packaged” with water, fiber and other nutrients, they do not have the same negative effect on your health. In fact, most of us should be eating more of them.)”

Here are the 5 no-no’s for anyone concerned about their added sugar in-take (and that needs to be ALL of you)

  1. Soda – There’s absolutely nothing good coming from Soda, even the diet version. If you need the fizz, switch to seltzer and if you absolutely need something to cut the taste, add a very small amount of fruit juice.  This will make it taste more like soda with only a fraction of the sugar.
  2. Sugar Cereals – I know it’s a quick way to get your breakfast in the morning, and I salute the effort, but check your labels.  Even cereals you think are good for you are still loaded with sugar.  Find cereals made from only whole grains and ones that include that as the ONLY ingredient.  If not, skip it.  To sweeten the taste, add fruit.
  3. Candy – This should not be apart of your daily routine as an adult.  If you’re someone who thinks they need chocolate or the like to get through the day, recognize that you have unwittingly created a bad habit and it needs to be broken.  Remove it from your routine for 30 days and you’ll be shocked how you will no longer crave it.
  4. Sports drinks – Unless you’re a pro athlete please give me a break.  Stop this now.  You want energy? Grab a handful of almonds.
  5. Coffee – This is another habitual drink.  Remove it from your coffee for 30 days. I bet on day 31 you’d find your old coffee too sweet and undrinkable.  Do not drink sugar, it’s pointless.

Read Ellie Krieger’s full article here.

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