Do you know any children that are picky eaters? This isn’t exactly the same topic that most of my blog is about, but I wanted to share with you some of the things I have been working on. I worked at the Children’s Hunger Alliance in February and May and wrote this short article about growing a healthy eater. Please like it and make me famous 🙂
Motivation is the first step in losing weight. Losing weight will take effort as you will have to educate yourself, think about what you eat, and plan ahead of time. If you aren’t really motivated or confident that you can do it, then it’s simply not going to happen. Now, you don’t need to be Mrs. Super Gung-Ho obsessed with health, food, and fitness, but you will need some motivation to keep you going. The key is finding this motivation and reminding yourself about it constantly. You also need to find ways get rid of de-motivators, which are things that prevent you from starting or that make you want to stop. I will address de-motivators first because they can have a big effect on our confidence can prevent us from starting in the first place. This section may get a bit touchy feely but don’t let it turn you away from the rest of the article.
Please get a notebook and a pencil and be ready to write!
The big de-motivators that I’m going to address here are low self-esteem, past failure, and not knowing where to start.
First off, I want you to know that you are worth it. People care about you. People love you. People want you to be happy. Ask your friends what they like about you, I’m sure they have something great to say about you. You make other people happy. Think of all the people you have made smile in the past week! The world is a better place because of you in one way or another. Think about all the ways that the world is a better place because of you and write them down. Maybe you raised some good kids that you love, you have had a successful career, ect.
I care. I’m writing this because I care about you and everybody that struggles with their weight. Nobody is better than you just because you need to lose weight. Don’t compare yourself or try to be better than others. All you can to is work towards a better, healthier you.
Maybe you have failed before, even multiple times, but you can do this! You really can. This time you will be successful. I’m going to help you, but I need you to be confident in YOU (and my plan). I will show you how to start and make you diet a long-term success.
It will be a long journey and you may have a lot to learn. It may be tough at times and you may not be perfect every day, but this will be a long journey to a new you.
Why You Should Be Motivated
Now that we have addressed some things that may be de-motivating you, I have a question!
How motivated are you to lose weight and eat healthier on a scale of 1(Not Motivated)-10(Extremely Motivated)?
If you answered less than a 5, then maybe you don’t know the benefits of losing weight. Losing weight will greatly decrease you chance of a ton of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney failure, reflux, cancer, and stroke. The treatments for many of these diseases are quite unpleasant. Surgery, amputation, dialysis, and radiation are definitely things that you want to avoid. Have you ever met anyone that has had a bad stroke? They can’t control their mouth or maybe even half of their body. I’m not trying to scare you, but everyone should really be trying to avoid these things. In addition to avoiding chronic diseases, you will feel better physically and emotionally. You will feel comfortable in your body. You will be able to wear more of the clothes that you want to. You will likely live longer and get more time with the people that you love. You can have a better quality of life. Maybe you will be able to play with your kids or grandkids for longer without getting out of breath. If you still aren’t motivated, read the rest of my article and the first page of this article to see if you can be motivated.
Find Your Motivation
I want you to write a list of all of the things that motivate you to lose weight. Don’t write negative things. Be positive about it. I’ll give you some examples to get started.
I want to look better. I want to feel better. I want to be healthier. I want to take less medication. I want to avoid a heart attack. I want to avoid diabetes. I want to control my diabetes. I don’t want to lose a limb to diabetes. I don’t want to lose my sight to diabetes. I want to reduce my cholesterol. I want to decrease my blood pressure. I want to avoid a heart attack. I want my reflux and heartburn to go away. I want to live longer. I want to live longer for my husband, for my kids, for my parents, ect. I want to live to see my grandkids grow up and get married. I want to fit in to the pants I fit in to 10 years ago. I want to be able to fit in my favorite dress. I want to be down to a size 12,18,22, ect. I want to focus on me for a little while. I want to feel more attractive. I want to eat what my body needs, not what it wants. I want to get more muscle. I want to start working out. I want to get stronger. I want to find other hobbies to keep me busy instead of eating when I’m bored. I want to get better at cooking healthy meals. I want my kids to grow up with good eating habits.
You can probably think of a few more. Write these down right now! Not later. Now! I’m waiting….
Keep this list somewhere that you won’t lose it. I want you to read it one time a day for a month. After the first month, read it anytime you aren’t motivated or if you fall off the horse.
The Importance of Social Support in Motivation
Social support has been proven to be very beneficial to weight loss. You need people on your side because it may be difficult to do this alone. When you want to lose weight, you should tell some people. Try telling your friends, your significant other, your family, and whoever shops/cooks in your house. Explain to them why you want to lose weight/eat healthier and how it would make you happy. Ask them for their support. If they also could stand to lose weight/eat healthier, then ask them to read my articles and lose weight with you. Call, text, or email each other encouragement and keep each other accountable. If it is somebody that lives with you and they don’t want to, at least ask them not to tempt you to eat unhealthy foods or eat these foods in front of you. Maybe you could ask them to hide it from you or put it in a place that is hard to get. If it is your children encouraging you to buy these unhealthy snacks, maybe you should consider cutting back on how much you buy. Remember that they should learn healthy eating habits too!
Social support is also a great way to get yourself to exercise. Exercise is important for millions of reasons and is especially helpful during weight loss. Now I’m not asking you to go run for an hour or lift weights five times per week. This could be as simple as asking someone that lives with you to go for a walk (or even make your dog you walking buddy!). Maybe you could invite someone over to exercise to a youtube video with you. Maybe you could go to the gym, walk, and then lift some weights. Make it a routine. I will be posting more about exercise for weight loss in the future to try to give you more guidance so stay tuned 🙂
If you can’t find anyone you know to support you or you want extra support, join an internet community. One problem with joining an online community is that you will likely run in to a lot of people with misconceptions about weight loss and a lot of advertisements that will try to suck you in to following a certain magical diet that is complete BS. This website is a good forum where you won’t run in to a lot of the bad stuff and you can post in the “logging your progress” section of the website. Try posting about your plan to lose weight here and check out other people losing weight that you can talk to. At a later time, I might update this article with more forums that I approve of, and I might even make my own forum in the distant future.
While you were reading this section on social support, I’m sure at least a couple of these ideas struck your interest. Write these down on the same paper with what motivates you.
Let Your Progress Motivate You
If you follow my 5 step plan, I guarantee that you will lose weight. All you have to do is start and not stop. If you motivate yourself to get started, then you will start to see progress. Progress is an awesome motivator. Imagine watching the scale go down almost every week! Imagine feeling better about yourself, more focused, and less tired.
Weigh yourself every week (not every day, progress doesn’t happen overnight) and write it down on your list of things that motivate you. Every time that you notice a difference in something to do with your health or weight, write it down in your notebook. For example, you could write “My jeans feel looser today (1/8/13)” or “I’m feeling a little fitter and less out of breath (1/8/13).”
Reward yourself every five pounds that you lose with something nice. Don’t use food as your reward though! That is a dangerous habit to get in to. Try treating yourself by taking extra time to relax, going to a spa, watching a movie you’ve really wanted to see, or buy tickets to a game/concert. Once you lose ten or more pounds, you can reward yourself with some new clothes. Just don’t buy a whole new wardrobe if you will be losing more 🙂
What Matters in This Blog Post
1. Motivation is the first step in losing weight and making a healthier you.
2. De-motivators like low self-esteem, past failures, and not knowing where to start can stop you before you start. You can’t think negative thoughts about yourself.
3. You should be motivated to lose weight to live longer, decrease your risk for chronic disease, and to feel better mentally and physically.
4. Write down all the things that motivate you!
5. Let you progress motivate you. It feels great to watch the scale go down and for your clothes to fit better.
6. Reward yourself (but not with food) for successfully meeting your weight loss goals!
WARNING: Sciency Article.
Many popular diets are higher in protein and many people suggest eating more, but is it safe? You can read about the benefits of a high protein intake and my recommendations for protein intake here: How Much Protein Do You Need? But even with all these benefits, could there be some harm? Dietitians and doctors alike often claim that a high protein diet is bad for the kidneys and for a variety of other reasons. Some of these concerns are real and some have no real proof to support them. Below I will state some common health concerns with higher protein intake on health and comment on each:
Reason 1. Increased stress on kidneys because of increases in filtration rate.
This is probably the most common and significant concern that I hear about increasing protein intake. Higher protein diets in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease cause kidney function to decline at a faster rate than consuming less protein. Therefore, people think that high protein diets may cause healthy kidneys to decline in function. This belief comes from studies that prove that kidney filtration increases when you eat more protein. They think that the increased rate of filtration is bad for the kidney.
However, there is absolutely no evidence that higher protein intakes can cause people with healthy kidneys to develop Chronic Kidney Disease. None. Zero. High protein diet studies conducted for up to 6 months have not shown a decline in kidney function. The rate of kidney filtration increases during pregnancy and during removal of a kidney as an adaptation to compensate for the lost kidney just like it does when eating a higher protein diet. Pregnancy and kidney removal are not risk factors for developing Chronic Kidney Disease, so why should we just assume that high protein diets are a risk factor when there is no further evidence? Based on this evidence that increased kidney filtration rates do not necessarily cause a faster decline in kidney function and the lack of evidence behind high protein intake causing a decline in the function of healthy kidneys, the argument that high protein intakes are bad for healthy kidneys is unsubstantiated and purely speculative. More research is needed in this field (long-term studies comparing a high protein diet to a standard diet that observe kidney function).
See this study here.
Reason 2. Increased calcium excretion and negative effects on bone mineral density.
If you eat adequate calcium (RDA 1000-1200 mg), then protein actually has a positive effect on bone health and promotes higher bone mineral density. If eating too little calcium, high protein diets may have a negative effect on bone mineral density.
Reason 3. Decreased blood pH, leading to low grade metabolic acidosis.
Eating adequate fruits and vegetables neutralize the acid from the protein and negate this potential negative effect. Potassium to protein ratio is a better indicator for how diet alters acid-base balance in the body.
Reason 4. Increased risk for chronic disease like cancer and heart disease (mostly an accusation made towards increasing protein by eating more red and processed meats).
Epidemiological research (correlational rather than causational) shows that people that eat large amounts of red and processed meat get cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, more often even when variables like exercise, smoking, and other factors were controlled for. This increased rate of cancer is likely because of compounds that increase when red meat is cooked and nitrates that are added to processed meats. There are ways to decrease the harmful compounds in red meat that can be found here. Decreasing the harmful compounds in red meat can be summarized as marinade it, don’t burn it, be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables with it, and minimize the processed meats with added nitrates.
The World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting red meat to a total of 500 grams (1 lb 1 oz) of cooked red meat per week. Using the methods above to decrease the harmful compounds in these red meats likely gives you some wiggle room to eat a little more red meat than this recommendation without increasing your risk for cancer.
High protein diets are likely safe if eaten with plenty of fruits and vegetables to offset acidosis and adequate calcium (1000-1200 mg/day) to benefit bone health. Try to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables (1 servings = 1 cup raw vegetables or ½ cup cooked), 4 servings of fruit (1 serving=1/2 cup), and 3 servings of dairy (1 serving= 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1.5 oz hard cheese) when eating a high protein diet to negate potential negative effects on bone health and from metabolic acidosis.
What Matters in this Blog Post
1. High protein diets confer some benefits found here: How Much Protein Do You Need?
2. No proof exists that high protein diets are bad for healthy kidneys.
3. Protein improves bone health when enough calcium is consumed, but hurts bone health if not enough calcium is consumed.
4. Protein won’t cause acidosis if adequate fruits and vegetables are consumed.
5. Eat less than 500 g (1 lb 1 oz) of red meat per week. Avoid processed meats with added nitrates. Ways to decrease harmful compounds in red meat and possibly allow you to eat a little more red meat can be found here.
6. Eating more protein as a part of a balanced diet is very likely safe. There is no reason to assume otherwise.
Have you ever heard of the energy balance equation? It’s the key to shrinking that waist line, so you better know it. In my previous post The Truth about All Weight Loss Diets, I briefly talked about the energy balance equation and how all successful weight loss diets trick you to do one thing: eat fewer Calories (energy). Calories are simply the unit of measure for energy in food we eat. This is the energy balance equation:
Calories (Energy) in – Calories (Energy) out = Calories Lost or Gained by Body Stores (Energy Balance)
“Calories in” is the energy in food we eat and beverages we drink. “Calories out” is the energy that our body uses to maintain homeostasis, keep organs functioning, and contract muscles. Our bodies store calories in the form of body fat, muscles, and liver and muscle glycogen (carbohydrates). When we eat more Calories than we use, our bodies store the energy (mostly as fat if you don’t exercise). When we eat fewer Calories than we use, our bodies break down body fat, muscle, and glycogen. One pound of body fat contains about 3500 Calories. One pound of muscle contains about 600 Calories. Of course, the goal of weight loss is to lose mostly fat and to preserve as much muscle as possible, although some muscle will inevitably be lost except in some special circumstances. I will discuss ways to that you can make sure that you lose mostly body fat and minimize muscle loss while losing weight in a future article.
Tom is a 250 lb man that needs 2500 Calories per day to maintain his weight. He is trying to lose weight so he eats 2000 Calories per day for a week
2000 Calories in – 2500 Calories out = -500 Calories Lost by Body stores x 7 days = 3500 Calories Lost
Ok so how much weight did Tom lose? It depends on how much of that weight loss is muscle and how much is fat.
Scenario 1: Tom did a good job minimizing muscle loss and lost 90% of his weight from fat and 10% from muscle. He lost .98 lbs of fat, .11 lbs of muscle, and 1.09 lbs total.
Scenario 2: Tom did not follow these guidelines. He lost 70% of his weight from fat and 30% from muscle he would lose .93 lbs of fat, .4 lbs of muscle, and 1.33 lbs total (not counting water weight changes).
As you can see, Tom lost less fat in scenario 2 and lost almost four times as much muscle! If you follow my guidelines, a 500 Calories deficit will cause a weight loss of about 1.09 lbs per week, mostly from fat. If not, you will lose more weight, but less fat and more muscle.
How Big of a Calorie Deficit Should I Have?
For simplification purposes, think of a 500 Calorie deficit per week causing about 1-1.5 lbs of weight loss per week and a 1000 Calorie deficit per week causing about 2-3 lbs of weight loss per week depending on the ratio of fat to muscle lost. Most people should try to create a Calorie deficit of 250-1000 Calories per day to lose .5-3 lbs per week (depending on a number of factors). Heavier people may safely lose weight faster (2-3 lbs/week as a general statement) and leaner people should try to lose weight slower (.5-1.5 lb/week).
*Note: Some people say that a 500 Calorie deficit will cause 1 lb of weight loss per week, but they are assuming that 100% of the weight lost is fat which rarely happens.
Let’s take a more in depth look at each section of the energy balance equation. If you know how it works, you can use it to your advantage.
As mentioned previously, Calories in are the Calories that come from food and drink. For our food to “count” towards calories in, it must be absorbed by our body. There are some ways that you can prevent Calories from being absorbed by your body. If you eat more soluble fiber (found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains like oatmeal), then you will poop out additional calories. You also only absorb about 1.5-2.5 Calories per gram of fiber compared to 4 Calories per gram of carbohydrates too. So the effect of fiber is twofold in decreasing Calories you absorb (and has many other benefits for weight loss and health too!). Resistance starch is another food that resists absorption and you don’t end up absorbing as many Calories. Look for pastas and other grains made with resistance starch when you eat these foods. Artificial sweeteners are also a great way to avoid absorbing calories. Substitute these in recipes. Splenda can often be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with sugar and if you don’t like the taste, try replacing ¼- ½ of the sugar with splenda to see if you can mask the taste while reducing Calories. Certain supplements may prevent absorption of calories, but I want to focus the things that make the biggest difference and these supplements have minimal effect – remember to focus on what matters.
Calories out refer to the calories needed to maintain homeostasis in your body, move your body during exercise and every day activity (including keeping your posture, standing up, twitching, ect.), and the energy lost as heat when the body absorbs food. I discuss specific types of exercise in a future article and give you some general guidelines. Exercise is an important component of weight loss by increasing energy burned and for maintaining muscle. Other ways to increase your activity and calories used every day is to find simple ways to keep yourself moving during the day. Try parking farther away so you walk a little further, take the stairs, tap your foot when you sit down, get up from your desk at work and walk a lap… you get the idea. Little things matter in the long term. Another way to increase your energy out is to eat more protein (which has additional benefits for weight loss as well). Although food labels say that protein has 4 Calories/g, the body loses energy as heat while absorbing it makes it actually count as 3.2 Calories/g. If you were to replace 50 g of carbohydrates every day with 50 g of protein, you would lose an extra 40 Calories every day (and likely feel fuller and prevent muscle loss).
Many people may be interested in the effect of drinking water or cold water on weight loss. The studies have shown inconsistent results, but drinking plenty of water should be a part of any weight loss diet to keep you full and for overall health. Having some extra fluid is likely dangerous as long as you aren’t ridiculous. To get an idea of how much fluid you need every day, use this formula to get a minimum or use my fluid needs calculator:
(Weight in lbs x .275 cups/lb) + 1 cup for every 1/2 lb of weight lost during exercise = Needs
*If you have heart failure, CKD, or another condition that causes fluid retention then DON’T use this formula.
A Random Note
Many people think of weight loss mostly as increasing exercise. Unfortunately this is not true. For most people, diet is likely the biggest factor that is holding you back from your weight loss goals. Exercise is great for so many reasons, especially during weight loss, but those of you that consider exercise to be your main problem holding you from losing weight should really give their diet a close examination. Again: eating fewer Calories will likely make a bigger impact than exercise on your weight loss (unless you are an athlete).
If you believe the energy balance equation is false or want an even more in depth explanation then you can read this great article by Lyle McDonald- http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/the-energy-balance-equation.html
What Matters in This Blog Post
1. Calories (Energy) in – Calories (Energy) out = Calories Lost or Gained by Body Stores (Energy Balance)
2. One pound of body fat contains about 3500 Calories. One pound of muscle contains about 600 Calories. You lose both muscle and fat when you lose weight.
3. A 500 Calories deficit causes 1-1.5 lbs and a 1000 Calorie deficit causes 2-3 lbs of weight loss per week depending on the amount muscle loss. If you follow the guidelines here “sadfadf link”, you will lose less muscle.
4. Looking to lose weight? Eat 250-1000 Calories less than you need every day.
5. Fiber, resistant starch, and artificial sweeteners are a great ways to reduce Calories in by decreased absorption.
6. Increasing exercise, finding ways to increase movement throughout the day when not exercising, and eating more protein are the ways to increase your Calories out.
7. Eating fewer Calories will likely make a bigger impact than exercise on your weight loss (unless you are an athlete).
Have you ever wondered how the gluten-free diet works? What about the Atkins diet? What about insert your fad diet of choice here? Are carbs what make you gain weight? Or is it fats? What about protein?
The truth about all weight loss diets that actually work is that they trick you in to eating fewer Calories. I’ll repeat that in a different way: any diet that causes weight loss does so by finding a way to make you eat fewer Calories than you use in a day.
Calories are simply the measure of energy in our food and this energy comes from carbohydrates, fat, protein, and alcohol. Weight loss is a matter of energy balance – energy that we get from food vs energy that our body uses to operate. Another way to look at energy balance is through this simple math problem:
Calories (Energy) in – Calories (Energy) out = Energy Balance (Calories lost or gained)
I will go in to more depth on this equation in the future, but I will give you a brief overview now. “Calories in” is the energy in food we eat and beverages we drink. “Calories out” is the energy that our body uses to maintain homeostasis, keep organs functioning, and contract muscles. Our bodies store calories in the form of body fat, muscles, and liver and muscle glycogen (carobhydrates). When we eat more Calories than we use, our bodies store the energy (mostly as fat if you don’t exercise). When we eat fewer Calories than we use, our bodies break down body fat, muscle, and glycogen.
Now let’s go back to all of the common fad diets out there. To follow one of the common fad diets, you will be required to completely cut out certain foods. For example, following a gluten-free diet will make you cut out all wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. Think about how many foods that you eat that have those ingredients in them… it’s a lot right? Well if you cut out all of these foods, then you will be eating fewer Calories if you don’t replace them with other foods. This is how the gluten-free and other fad diet tricks you to eat fewer Calories and lose weight. Again, weight loss is not caused by avoiding gluten, never eating carbs or sugar, cutting out fat, eating fruits and vegetables, juicing, following a detox diet, or drinking Slim Fast. Eat fewer calories than your body uses in a day, even if you get all of your calories from twinkies*, and you will lose weight.
*Note: I am not recommending that you eat a lot of twinkies. It is still important that you eat a variety of healthy foods to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy. You should also keep in mind that eating the right foods can help to keep you fuller and make your diet easier. This will be outlined in a future post.
The basic message that I’m getting at here is that no weight loss diet is special. They all work by getting you to eat fewer Calories through unnecessary restrictions in your diet. In fact, these fad diets may be harmful to both your health and weight loss efforts. Most fad diets cut out some healthy foods groups completely just to get you to eat less. Not getting the healthy nutrients that these foods provide may be harmful to you later on. You also need to consider your ability to stick to the diet long-term. If you follow a diet that never lets you eat your favorite foods in moderation, then you will likely not stick to that diet for very long and end up gaining all the weight back. Knowing that Calories are what make us gain and lose weight can help you be more flexible with your diet. You can eat the foods that you want in moderation and still lose weight if you don’t eat too many calories.
What Matters in this Blog Post
1. Weight loss fad diets work by tricking you to eat fewer Calories (energy)
2. Eating fewer Calories than your body uses is what causes weight loss. Energy in – energy out
3. Most weight loss fad diets are not good for your health or weight loss because they often cut out healthy food groups and are too restrictive, causing you to give up and gain the weight back.
4. Knowing that Calories are what make us gain and lose weight can help you be more flexible with your diet. You can eat the less healthy foods that you want occasionally and still lose weight if you don’t eat too many calories.
5. However, it is still important to eat a variety of healthy foods while losing weight to give your body all the nutrients that you need to stay healthy while losing weight.