Meeting your weight loss goals doesn’t have to be expensive or snack-free. Snacking can actually be good for you as long as it’s done in moderation. Snacking will actually make you eat less during meals, and spreading your calories throughout the day rather than eating three traditional meals will increase your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories and fat while at rest. I eat over 1,000 calories in snacks per day and have lost 12 pounds in two months and fit into my high school jeans.

You can keep snacking, too, as long as you know which snacks are best for you and which to avoid. Obviously, eating Hostess Twinkies every day isn’t going to be good for you. The 260 calories in two Twinkie cakes is more than even M&Ms, as is the 43 grams of carbohydrates packed into those golden cakes.

The high-calorie snacks not named Twinkies are Oreos, Chips Ahoy!, Lay’s Potato Chips (pick your flavored poison), Cheetos, Fritos Corn Chips (Chili Cheese and Original), and my personal favorite, Fritos Honey BBQ Flavor Twists. All come in packing 160 calories per serving, and all come with between nine and 10 grams of fat. I understand you probably love a snack on this list, and I feel for you, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy that snack. Just do so in moderation.

You don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition, and you don’t have to pay more for healthier snacks, either. While Smartfood Delight Sea Salt Popcorn is supposed to be healthy, it still has 140 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving. And at 50 cents an ounce, it’s the most expensive snack I found at Wal-mart. Another surprise was Sun Chips, which come in with 140 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, all for 42.6 cents per ounce. They do have a lower salt content than most chips, with just 120 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Now that you know which snacks to avoid, here are the 5 healthiest and affordable snacks on the market.

5. Stauffer’s Animal Crackers

To my personal delight, Stauffer’s Animal Crackers came in with the second-lowest fat content (2 g) and fourth-lowest calorie content (120) per serving. Animal Crackers also have just 7 grams of sugars per serving, but don’t eat too many. They had the third-highest carbohydrate count (24 g), but at just 8.25 cents per ounce, they are an absolute steal.

4. Snack Pack Pudding

Snack Pack Puddings impressed. The chocolate flavor packs just 100 calories, which was second-best, and each serving comes with just two grams of fat. While the protein content leaves a lot to be desired (less than a gram per serving), the 7.12 cent-per-ounce price was the best of all the snacks studied.

3. Greek Yogurt

It took me awhile to get on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, but I’m on it for good. Brands matter when it comes to Greek yogurt, though. The Dannon Light Banana Cream Greek Yogurt packs just 80 calories, nine grams of carbs, and no fat per serving, while Chobani has 130 calories, 18 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fat. Yoplait impressed with 15 grams of protein per serving. At 18.9 cents per ounce, it’s a bit more expensive than the cheapest snacks here, but the protein content makes Greek yogurt very valuable. It was cheaper per ounce than Pepperidge Farm’s Cheddar Goldfish and Chex Mix.

2. Triscuits

In the head-to-head matchup between Triscuits and Wheat Thins, Triscuits took it in a knockout. With just 80 calories per serving, Triscuits took the title for lowest-calorie snack. They were second only to Greek yogurt with 13 grams of carbs, and their 2.5 grams of fat per serving is half as much as Wheat Thins. The only category Wheat Thins won was in cost. Triscuits were 27.5 cents per ounce, while Wheat Thins were 24.3 cents per ounce.

1. Fruits and Vegetables

I know you’re thinking, “Well, duh!” But to give you a sense of how fruits and vegetables stack up against some of the packaged snack foods, there’s just 46 calories in a cup of strawberries and just 11 grams of carbs and not even half a gram of fat. And they’re 8.9 cents per ounce when in season. A serving of carrots is just 15 calories and eight grams of carbs. They run 7.6 cents per ounce, so when you’re considering what you want to snack on during the week, don’t forget about fruits and vegetables.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information

I’ve been using the MyPlate app by Livestrong to log my daily meals and exercise for two months now, and not only have I lost weight (almost 13 pounds to be exact) and fit into my high school jeans, but I’ve hardly increased my exercise habits because of what I’ve remedied regarding my daily food intake.

I wrote a piece called “10 ways to enjoy losing weight” when I was just starting to use the MyPlate app, and the folks at Livestrong were kind enough to grant me access to the “locked” exercises that come with a paid membership. I haven’t used any of them yet and still managed to cut an inch off my waist and lose 13 pounds. This only affirms my hypothesis that nutrition is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight, and most of us aren’t consuming what we should and would be surprised by what’s in the foods we eat.

There are plenty of ways the MyPlate app can help you lose weight, but here are the five things that helped me and opened my eyes the widest. 

1. Having a Specific Goal Really Works

Having a specific weight and timeline in mind is the only way you’ll achieve your weight loss goal. You can’t reach a goal without having one. Simply wanting to lose weight isn’t enough. You have to want to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain date and then want to keep it off.

The first thing MyPlate does when you begin to use the app is ask you your height, weight, age, gender and weight loss goal. That’s how MyPlate determines the number of calories you should consume each day.

I’m a 31-year-old, five-foot, 11-inch male that weighed 185 pounds, and I wanted to lose 1.5 pounds per week and get back down to my college weight of 170 pounds. MyPlate recommended a diet of 1,645 calories per day, and while that’s less than the 1,800-calorie-diet recommended for a man, I assure you it’s plenty, especially if you eat the right foods. I managed to average just 1,469 calories per day and never felt hungry once in the last two months. I would guess my actual intake was higher because I think we subconsciously think are portions are smaller because we want them to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if my daily average is actually more than to the lowest recommended diet for men of 1,500 calories per day. 

How active you are during the day also plays a big role in your daily calorie recommendation. Since I sit in front of a computer for a living, I don’t burn a lot of calories naturally throughout the day, which is why my calorie recommendation is low. I do, however, bicycle often and do a lot of walking when I take public transit downtown for a ballgame, so more often than not I met my goal of 250 calories burned per day. And when I didn’t, I still generally burned 100 calories. I averaged 272 calories burned per day over the first two months of using MyPlate.

I managed to do a pretty good job of meeting my net calorie goals, so, naturally, I lost weight. To maintain my weight, I can start consuming the 1,800 calories recommended for a man per day as long as I continue my exercise habits, which shouldn’t be too difficult since I hardly changed any of my exercise habits. 

2. Carbs are Killers

As I stated in my previous piece about nutrition, I knew cutting carbohydrates would be the key to reaching my weight loss goal. I’ve been known to enjoy an IPA or two and have a childlike love for Stauffer’s Animal Crackers. I love sourdough and garlic bread. I’m a snacker, too, so a lot of the crap I was putting in my body came between meals. MyPlate helped me manage my snacking by logging my carbohydrates and scaring the hell out of me.

While I’m still struggling to cut carbs due to a limited budget and the affordability of breads, I wouldn’t have come in under my goal as often as I did had I not known what my problem was. I managed to nearly cut microbrews out of my diet entirely. I think I’ve had six in the last two months, and two of them I drank yesterday, which accounted for almost 500 calories and 36 grams of carbs.

2. It’s Okay to Cheat Once a Week

The debate over “cheat days” has not been settled and likely won’t, but I can tell you that I feel best when I go slightly over my daily calorie limit once per week. You can see those days pretty easily on my calorie intake graph, and it’s something that happened naturally. My body wanted to consume more, so I abided. 

Restricting calories limits the body’s leptin production, which is the hormone responsible for maintaining our energy levels and weight loss. So while cheat days only raise your metabolism slightly the following day, the way I feel the next day makes it worth the extra calories regardless of the limited effect on my metabolism.

Yesterday was a cheat day for me, and today I woke up rejuvenated and ready to work. I’ll probably go work on my scooter engine after this, which wouldn’t have been the case yesterday, when I wanted to do as little as possible and fell asleep watching baseball at eight o’clock. 

Cheating doesn’t mean you get to eat whatever you want for a day, though. It generally means you can splurge during one meal, but you still shouldn’t eat more than your body needs at any time. I made that mistake yesterday at lunch despite finishing just half of a Red Cow blended burger and barely touching some fries covered in gravy. I felt pretty terrible the rest of the day. So while you can eat foods with a bit more fat and sugar on cheat days, it’s not a reason to eat until you feel sick.

3. Cutting out Fat is Easy

I managed to cut my fat intake after the first few weeks of using the MyPlate app thanks to a Ninja 900-watt blender. I realized the fatty foods I was eating were generally snacks and fatty meats. Replacing the fatty hamburger and pork with turkey, chicken and fish was easy, and while I still eat both pork and hamburger, I do so in much smaller portions.

The one thing I knew I had to do was eat more fruits and vegetables. Even when I tried to eat more fruits and vegetables during those first few weeks, I’d generally only do it for one meal per day (generally breakfast). Then I invested in a blender, and now I consume more than the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

I’m also replacing less-healthy snacks with healthy ones. I have up to two blended smoothies per day, usually containing three servings of fruits and vegetables each. Plus, I add two tablespoons of hemp protein powder in an attempt to reach my seemingly unattainable goal of 123 grams of protein per day.

4. There’s Sugar and Salt in Everything

I managed to cut into my sodium intake substantially, and I never put salt on anything! I was against salt more so than sugar going into this little experiment. I know where that salt has gone, too. It’s been replaced by sugar.

My substitution of fruit smoothies for crackers and other snacks has been a key to cutting my daily sodium intake. I’m a sucker for Dot’s pretzels (360 mg, 17% sodium daily value), Frito’s Honey BBQ Flavor Twists (180 mg, 7% sodium daily value), and Roasted Garlic Triscuits (135 mg, 6% sodium daily value). Those numbers are all per serving -- not per box -- and I can eat half a box, and in the case of Dot’s pretzels, half a bag. I used to be able to eat a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos -- and not one of those small bags. I don’t do that anymore thanks to my blender.

I have not been able to cut my sugar intake substantially, though. I’ve managed to come in under my recommended daily sugar intake of 33 grams a dozen times in roughly 60 days. I gave up ketchup and mostly cut out barbecue sauce in an attempt to cut down on sugar consumption, and nothing’s changed. I still go over my recommended sugar intake almost everyday.

 

The foods highest in sugar that I’ve eaten the last two months are sodas and juices I’ve used to mix with my smoothies and the fruits also in those smoothies. And if I cut out the three or four ounces of soda or juice I use in my smoothies, I’m still going over the daily recommendation for sugars. The only way I see a way around sugars is to eat nothing but vegetables and nuts and drink nothing but water, which I’m not ready to do. I focused on salt.

5. Logging Your Meals and Exercise is Too Easy Not to Do

Just because I can fit into my high school jeans doesn’t mean I’m done with the MyPlate app. I’ll probably never stop using it. It’s a part of my life now, and that doesn’t bother me. People use their phones for worse things than logging meals and exercise.

I’m still only using the free workouts, of which I’ve done five or so times over two months, and they really work. I did the 7-minute Cardio Sculpting Workout yesterday because it was my “cheat day” to eat, and my butt and legs are sore. I’m looking forward to really getting into the locked “Gold” exercises, which I’ll review in another two months. The 10-minute Abs Workout doesn’t require any gym equipment, so I’ll start with that one.

MyPlate even counts my steps, so if I walk or run a few miles or climb steps, the app automatically subtracts those calories burned from my net intake for the day. The amount of time you’ll spend logging your meals everyday amounts to a few minutes per day. If you can’t take a few minutes out of your day to learn about what you’re putting in your body, you’re not dedicated enough to your weight loss goals.

You can’t just get down to your weight and stop logging your meals and exercise, but the beauty of MyPlate is that it’s too easy not to use. Regardless of where I am I can log my meals and exercise. It might be harder to do when eating out, but that’s because restaurants that don’t have more than 20 locations aren’t required to post nutrition facts on their menus, or anywhere. You can still find a similar recipe for a restaurant menu item and add the ingredients one by one, though. Since using the MyPlate app I’ve been less inclined to eat out because I know those foods are less healthy by design. The foods from fast food chains and restaurants are designed to be addictive, and that’s just more sugars and salt I don’t need.

Livestrong’s MyPlate app is a perfectly reasonable way to start losing weight. It’s doesn’t cost anything but the few minutes per day before or after each meal (I recommend before). I also recommend subscribing to the Livestrong blog. You’ll notice they have valuable information. Try MyPlate for two weeks without changing a thing like I did, and you’ll see what’s going into your body and want to change for your body’s sake.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 19:42

10 ways to enjoy losing weight

Most people think losing weight has to be a drag, but there is a way you can enjoy losing weight and keep it off. You don’t even have to commit an hour per day to exercising, which is another myth about losing weight. You don’t have to join a gym. You don’t have to leave your home. You can even lose weight at the office with some simple changes to your furniture and habits. So here’s how to enjoy losing weight and keep it off.

  1. Get in the Right Mindset

How to enjoy losing weight starts with the proper mindset, as do all things worth doing. You have to really want to lose weight. If you don’t really care to lose weight, you’re more likely to give up after a few weeks or be discouraged when the scale gives bad news. Understanding that sculpting a body comes with peaks and valleys will make losing weight more enjoyable. There will come a time when you “plateau,” and it will seem like you can’t lose anymore weight. The best thing you can do is prepare for the plateau. It’s going to happen. Accept it. If we all lost two pounds per week forever there’d be no weight left to lose eventually.  

Dr. Daliah Wachs says keeping before-and-after photos of yourself can provide motivation to continue pursuing your weight loss goals. She advises to keep the before photo in places you frequent, like the office, the bathroom mirror, in a gym bag or on the refrigerator.

  1. Get to Know your Body

It is imperative to know your body and what you’re putting in it if you’re going to enjoy losing weight. This is a great activity for the first week of your weight loss program. Download the free MyPlate app from Livestrong on your Apple or Android device and start logging everything you eat and drink for a week. This food diary is your first step to losing weight, because eating nutritious meals is more important than exercise. The free version of the MyPlate app logs your calories, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, cholesterol, dietary fiber and sugars, and it will set goals for each given your current weight, height, gender, daily activity and weight loss goals. I’m five-foot, 10-inches, around 185 pounds and a moderately active male looking to lose 1.5 pounds per day.

You’ll immediately notice your problem areas, and if you’re in tune with what you eat currently, you probably already know. I knew my problem was empty carbs. I enjoy craft beers and Animal Crackers dipped in tea, so getting six-pack abs for the first time will obviously require giving up six-packs of microbrews. (I’ll never give up my Animal Crackers. In fact, I’ve given up bread because I’m poor and eat a lot of pasta.) But by monitoring my food intake (I refuse to call it a diet, because it’s not) I know exactly what I should consume throughout the day.

For instance, given my age, height, weight, gender and goals, the MyPlate app sets my daily calorie goal at 1,725 calories and my carbohydrate goal at 173 grams. I was around my calorie goal yesterday (1,783 calories) but way over my carbohydrate goal (248 g). My protein intake was also well below the recommended level of 129 grams per day, which means I’ll be picking up protein powder at GNC today and replacing my breakfast of cold pizza with a protein shake full of fruit. Protein shakes don’t have to be chalky and terrible, either. Here are some delicious recipes that will make you enjoy losing weight. (Hint: cottage cheese is key.)

The MyPlate app also links to the Health app on Apple devices and Google Fit on Android devices, so it will count your steps and calculate your calories burned. It also allows you to track your water consumption. Two-thirds of us don’t drink enough water, and it’s a key to losing weight Wachs informs.

“Drink a glass of water before you eat your meal. That works,” she said, adding later that eating the vegetables of your meal first, which are mostly water, also fulfills your appetite while providing proper nutrition. Wachs thinks this a great tactic to keep kids healthy, too.

  1. Dedicate Yourself to Your Body

While I’m trying to help you enjoy losing weight, there is a lot of dedication involved in achieving your weight loss goals. Your body is the only thing you take to the grave, so you should be dedicated to it. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.

You must continue logging every food you eat, every drink you drink and every rep of exercise you complete. This is your body diary, and it is as important to your physical health as an actual diary is to your mental health. Once you stop logging that information on paper or in the MyPlate app, you’re starting to accept your body as it is. Don’t do that. Every time you don’t want to log a meal or even a beverage, just think of your weight loss goals. Envision your body as you’d like to see it, and pick up your phone or notebook and log that meal or drink. Speaking of drinking...

  1. If You Take a Drink, Drink Liquor

I told you that you’d enjoy losing weight. Even light beers don’t come close to beating the caloric content of most liquors, and the carbs are killers. Jose Cuervo tequila consists of just 96 calories per shot and has no carbohydrates. While Miller Lite also has 96 calories, you have to drink three of them to get the same effect as the shot of tequila. Every 12 ounces of Miller Lite comes with 3.2 grams of carbs, too. If you’re into microbrews like me, giving those up sounds difficult and certainly not enjoyable, but I assure you, you’ll not only shed pounds drinking liquor, you’ll save money, too.

If you’re a whiskey drinker like me, Crown Royal Special Reserve has just 96 calories per serving, as does Pendleton. Most gins and vodkas will also have 96 calories or so. Rum and bourbon will have a few more calories, but are still better for you than beer despite having trace carbs. I suggest you drink all liquor straight, on the rocks or with 100-percent juice. Soda, even diet soda, provides no nutritional value whatsoever. It is literally empty calories and sugar and doesn’t even quench your thirst. That’s why I’ve mostly given it up since 2004, but I’m committed to never letting soda touch another ounce of alcohol for the rest of my life.

  1. Exercise at Work

When your coworkers go out for a 15-minute smoke break, that doesn’t mean you have to keep working. (Oh yeah, if you want to look good quit smoking. It’ll make exercising easier.) While just nine states require rest breaks by law, the 15-minute smoke break happens almost everywhere. Most employers understand that their employees will be more productive if they get away from their desk or work space every few hours.

The best thing about the MyPlate app is that it provides exercises you can do at home, at the office or in the gym, with videos of proper form and even a timer and voice letting you know when to start and stop each exercise.

I did MyPlate’s seven-minute, cardio sculpting workout for the first time, and I can tell you it works. Not only is my body telling me what muscles I haven’t been using enough, but the app says I likely burned 235 calories in just seven minutes.

If you don’t have enough room at work to do the MyPlate exercises, there are still a couple of ways you can burn calories. The simplest thing you can do, whether you sit or stand all day, is work your core muscles. It’s as easy as crunching up your abs and breathing deeply.

Replacing your desk chair with a stability ball makes your entire day a core workout that can burn up to 350 calories. The Varidesk is also a nice contraption because sitting all day is still not good for you, regardless of your seat. The more you can get up and move around during your workday the better, and the more you’ll enjoy your work, too.

  1. Exercise at Home

One of the reasons people don’t enjoy losing weight is the daily trip to the gym, where they’re judged by those around them or, if you’re a woman, hit on incessantly by bros and former frat boys. The internet has totally changed the way people workout, though. More and more fat-burning exercises can be streamed to your television, computer, tablet or phone, either for free or for a nominal fee.

  1. Get Paid to Lose Weight

You can even get paid to meet your fitness goals! Pact pays those who meet their weight loss goals with the money of those who don’t, and HealthWage allows you and a team to collectively work toward weight loss goals. I told you that you could enjoy losing weight. Now you can enjoy the money that comes along with it!

  1. Do More of the Physical Activities You Already Love

I catch just about every home Minnesota Twins game, and I take public transit to get there and do at least one lap around Target Field while I’m there (150 calories burned). If I go out for trivia or a freeroll poker tournament near my home, I ride my bike (650 calories burned per hour). I’m surrounded by lakes in the land of 10,000 lakes, which works out great for me because I love to swim (around 585 calories burned per hour swimming breaststroke, depending on weight). There’s a yoga studio by my house I’m considering joining (between 135 and 550 calories burned per hour plus improved flexibility).

  1. Eat More Lean Meats

Lean meats and seafood have just 45 calories per ounce. Fish has significantly less saturated fat than other meats, though. The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice weekly, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout and herring.

Skinless chicken is also a great way to lower your fat and caloric consumption while keeping protein levels up, so chicken wings are perfectly okay to eat on football Sundays as long as they’re eaten in moderation and prepared without a bunch of hydrogenated oils or butter.

I’m not advocating you stop eating red meat. I could never do it myself, but you should find the leanest cut of beef, pork or lamb available and prepare it without adding oils, butter or salt. In fact, 75 percent of the sodium you consume is already in processed foods or from restaurants. You shouldn’t be adding salt to anything. Most foods come with more than enough salt as it is.

  1. Eat More Salad

Eating salad might not sound enjoyable, but I assure you, a good salad can be a great way to enjoy losing weight. You can’t tell me poached salmon and watercress salad with dill-yogurt dressing doesn’t sound delicious, or that shrimp with feta, radish, watercress and mint salad wouldn’t be delightful. Grilled panzanella with arugula, burrata, summer squash and olives makes me want to eat bread again, and I might make Moroccan lamb salad with carrots and mint when I get off work.

So there’s 10 ways to enjoy losing weight, and hopefully, you enjoy it so much the weight stays off. I’ll be checking in to update you on my pursuit of six-pack abs in the future.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information

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