Sunday, May 30, 2021

Tips On Meal Planning For Weight Loss


How to meal plan for weight loss

When it comes to weight loss meal plans, the magnitude of options can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you search for the most suitable plan.

Creating a calorie deficit in a nutrient-dense way

All weight loss plans have one thing in common — they get you to eat fewer calories than you burn.

However, though a calorie deficit will help you lose weight regardless of how it’s created, what you eat is just as important as how much you eat. That’s because the food choices you make are instrumental in helping you meet your nutrient needs.

A good weight loss meal plan should follow some universal criteria:

  • Includes plenty of protein and fiber. Protein- and fiber-rich foods help keep you fuller for longer, reducing cravings and helping you feel satisfied with smaller portions.
  • Limits processed foods and added sugar. Rich in calories yet low in nutrients, these foods fail to stimulate fullness centers in your brain and make it difficult to lose weight or meet your nutrient needs.
  • Includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. Both are rich in water and fiber, contributing to feelings of fullness. These nutrient-rich foods also make it easier to meet your daily nutrient requirements.

Building nutrient-dense meals

To incorporate these tips into your weight loss meal plan, start by filling one-third to one-half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. These are low in calories and provide water, fiber, and many of the vitamins and minerals you need.

Then, fill one-quarter to one-third of your plate with protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, tofu, seitan, or legumes, and the remainder with whole grains, fruit, or starchy vegetables. These add protein, vitamins, minerals, and more fiber.

You can boost the flavor of your meal with a dash of healthy fats from foods like avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds.

Some people may benefit from having a snack to tide their hunger over between meals.  Protein and fiber rich snacks seem the most effective for weight loss.

Good examples include apple slices with peanut butter, vegetables and hummus, roasted chickpeas, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts.

Helpful tips to make meal planning work for you

An important aspect of a successful weight loss meal plan is its ability to help you keep the lost weight off.

Here are some tips to help increase your meal plan’s long-term sustainability.

Pick a meal planning method that fits your routine

There are various ways to meal plan,  so be sure to pick the method that best fits your routine.

You may decide to batch cook all of your meals over the weekend, so you can easily grab individual portions throughout the week. Alternatively, you may prefer to cook daily, in which case, opting to prep all of your ingredients ahead of time might work best for you.

If you don’t like following recipes or prefer a little more flexibility, you may opt for a method that requires you to fill your refrigerator and pantry with specific portions of foods each week while allowing you to improvise when putting them together for meals.

Batch-shopping for groceries is another great strategy that helps save time while keeping your refrigerator and pantry filled with nutrient-dense foods.

Consider trying an app

Apps can be a helpful tool in your meal planning arsenal.

Some apps offer meal plan templates that you can alter based on your food preferences or allergies. They can also be a handy way to keep track of your favorite recipes and save all of your data in one place.

What’s more, many apps provide customized grocery lists based on your selected recipes or what’s left over in your fridge, helping you save time and reduce food waste. 

Pick enough recipes

Picking an adequate number of recipes ensures that you have enough variety without requiring you to spend all of your free time in the kitchen.

When selecting how many meals to make, look at your calendar to determine the number of times you’re likely to eat out — whether for a date, client dinner, or brunch with friends.

Divide the remaining number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners by the number of meals that you can realistically cook or prepare for that week. This helps you determine the portions of each meal you’ll need to prep.

Then, simply sift through your cookbooks or online food blogs to pick your recipes.

Consider snacks

Allowing yourself to get overly hungry between meals may push you to overeat at your next meal, making it more difficult to reach your weight loss goals.

Snacks can help lower hunger, promote feelings of fullness, and reduce the overall number of calories you eat per day.

Protein- and fiber-rich combinations, such as nuts, roasted chickpeas, or veggies and hummus, appear best suited to promote weight loss.

However, keep in mind that some people tend to gain weight when adding snacks to their menu. So make sure you monitor your results when applying this strategy.

Ensure variety

Eating a variety of foods is instrumental in providing your body with the nutrients it needs.

That’s why it’s best to avoid meal plans that suggest batch cooking 1–2 recipes for the whole week. This lack of variety can make it difficult to meet your daily nutrient needs and lead to boredom over time, reducing your meal plan’s sustainability.

Instead, ensure that your menu includes a variety of foods each day.

Speed up your meal prep time

Meal prepping doesn’t have to mean long hours in the kitchen. Here are a few ways to speed up your meal prep time.

  • Stick to a routine. Picking specific times to plan the week’s meals, grocery shop, and cook can simplify your decision-making process and make your meal prepping process more efficient.
  • Grocery shop with a list. Detailed grocery lists can reduce your shopping time. Try organizing your list by supermarket departments to prevent doubling back to a previously visited section.
  • Pick compatible recipes. When batch cooking, select recipes that use different appliances. For instance, one recipe may require the oven, no more than two burners on the stovetop, and no heating at all.
  • Schedule your cook times. Organize your workflow by starting with the recipe requiring the longest cooking time, then focus on the rest. Electric pressure cookers or slow cookers can further reduce cooking times.

Inexperienced cooks or those simply wanting to reduce the time spent in the kitchen may want to pick recipes that can be prepared in 15–20 minutes from start to finish.

Store and reheat your meals safely

Storing and reheating your meals safely can help preserve their flavor and minimize your risk of food poisoning.

Here are some government-approved food safety guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Cook food thoroughly. Most meats should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (75°C) while cooking, as this kills most bacteria.
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator. Thawing frozen foods or meals on your countertop can encourage bacteria to multiply. If you’re short on time, submerge foods in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  • Reheat food safely. Make sure to reheat your meals to at least 165°F (75°C) before eating. Frozen meals should be eaten within 24 hours of defrosting.
  • Dispose of old food. Refrigerated meals should be eaten within 3–4 days of being made, and frozen meals should be consumed within 3–6 months.

The bottom line

A good weight loss meal plan creates a calorie deficit while providing all the nutrients you need.

Done right, it can be incredibly simple and save you a lot of time.

Picking a method that works for you can also reduce your likelihood of regaining weight.

All-in-all, meal planning is an incredibly useful weight loss strategy.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Why You Should Keep A Food Diary.

What should you include in a food diary?

Most experts agree that the secret to successful food journaling is accuracy and consistency. So, what should you record? A basic food diary should include the following:

  • What are you eating? Write down the specific food and beverage consumed and how it is prepared (baked, broiled, fried, etc.). Include any sauces, condiments, dressings, or toppings.
  • How much are you eating? List the amount in household measures (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons) or in ounces. If possible, it is best to weigh and measure your food. If you are away from home, do your best to estimate the portion.
  • When are you eating? Noting the time that you’re eating can be very helpful in identifying potentially problematic times, such as late-night snacking.

Jotting down where you’re eating, what else you’re doing while you’re eating, and how you’re feeling while eating can help you understand some of your habits and offer additional insight.

  • Where are you eating? Record the specific place you are consuming food, whether it’s at the kitchen table, in your bedroom, in the car, walking down the street, at a restaurant, or at a friend’s home.
  • What else are you doing while eating? Are you on the computer, watching TV, or talking with a family member or a friend?
  • Who are you eating with? Are you eating with your spouse, children, friend, or a colleague, or are you alone?
  • How are you feeling as you’re eating? Are you happy, sad, stressed, anxious, lonely, bored, tired?

Tips for successful food journaling

Here are more tips for keeping a successful food diary:

  • Write down the food or beverage as soon as you consume it. Don’t wait until the end of the day because your recollection is likely to be less accurate.
  • Be as specific as you can with the food or beverage. For example, if you are drinking a latte, note the type and size.
  • Be sure to include any alcoholic beverages you consume.
  • A smartphone app like Lose It! or MyFitnessPal can support your efforts. These apps also offer information on calories and other nutrients.

You’ve kept a food diary. Now what?

After completing a week’s worth of food journaling, step back and look at what you’ve recorded. Search for any trends, patterns, or habits. For example, you might consider:

  • How healthy is my diet?
  • Am I eating vegetables and fruit every day? If so, how many servings?
  • Am I eating whole grains each day?
  • Am I eating foods or beverages with added sugar? If so, how frequently?
  • Do my moods affect my eating habits? Do I reach for unhealthy snacks when I’m tired or stressed?
  • How often do I eat on the run?

Set SMART healthy eating goals

Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, set one or two healthy eating goals for yourself. In doing so, use the SMART Goals format. That means your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. Here are a few examples of SMART goals.

Food diary observation: You average two servings of vegetables per day.
Goal: Eat more vegetables.
SMART goal: Eat three servings of vegetables per day.

Food diary observation: You order takeout three or four nights per week.
Goal: Cook more at home.
SMART goal: Order take out no more than one or two nights per week.

Food diary observation: You eat healthy meals and snacks until about 3 pm, when you hit the office vending machine.
Goal: Eat healthier snacks.
SMART goal: Bring a healthy snack (a piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts) to work every day.

Keeping a food journal can be very informative and move you toward improving your health. Using the data from your food diary to make SMART changes, and continuing to track your progress, is a great place to start your journey for a healthier 2019.


Friday, May 14, 2021

Warming Socks: A Great Way To Boost Your Immune System


Feeling that familiar tickle in your throat? Why not try a pair of cold wet socks? Warming socks, as they are known in naturopathic circles, are the application of damp cold socks to the feet before bed. Their purpose is to increase blood flow and circulation to the feet. Most patients find this recommendation disconcerting at best, but they can be a great way to boost your immune system and help you relax a little. Truth be told they are not even that cold!  

How does cold wet socks actually help your immune system? It seems improbable, but hydrotherapy is a great way to stimulate circulation of blood and lymph.  The “warming” sock treatment focuses on increasing circulation to the feet.  By increasing blood flow to the feet, overall circulation of blood and lymph are improved. This in turn impacts upper body congestion and the immune system. This is a great home treatment when you get that “am I getting sick?” feeling. Beyond cold and flus, the treatment is relaxing and can address concerns like stress, insomnia, and headaches.  

Most people who are willing to try them become instant fans of the treatment. It is important to note that there is no research supporting their use. However, there are studies that demonstrate the benefits of hydrotherapy (water therapies) in a larger context. Further, temperature regulation specifically foot temperature regulation and the effect on sleep has been studied. 

Is it a safe therapy? Yes, in general it is a safe therapy. As with anything, there are people who would not benefit from this application. If you have problems with circulation such as with Raynaud’s phenomenon or claudication, it is better to avoid this therapy.  

How do you do it?  

First, gather supplies. You will need one pair of light cotton socks, thicker wool socks, and cold water from the tap. It is a good idea to start off with warm feet. If your feet are cold a warm foot bath or shower can help. Next take a pair of light cotton socks and soak them in cold water. Wring them out thoroughly so they are cold and damp, but not soggy. Put them on your warm feet. Immediately put on the wool socks over the top of the cold damp socks. Go to bed. The cold sensation should not last very long, as your body rapidly warms the socks. Usually, they are dry within a couple of hours. It is important that the rest of your body stays warm so add an extra blanket as needed.  

Friday, May 7, 2021

How Much Water To Drink After A Sweat Session


Why you get so sweaty, anyway

First things first: What point does sweating actually serve? Sweating cools the body down. Once your internal temp passes 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, your brain’s hypothalamus (basically, the body’s thermostat) goes off, and it triggers your sweat glands to release a salty mixture of water, sodium chloride, and other electrolytes. Then, when the sweat leaves the skin’s pores, it evaporates into the air, taking some heat with it, which cools you down.

But it’s not just body temp that causes you to sweat while you work out. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiology, during exercise, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, which in turn makes the body pump out more sweat.  Plus, the more often you exercise, the more you sweat.  That’s because your sweat glands are able to predict that physical exertion is coming. 

So, if wringing out your shirt post-yoga is your norm, consider it a badge of sweat-gland adaptation.

Trust your thirst, or try this rehydration formula

During exercise, the amount of sweat pouring out is often greater than the amount of fluids heading in. The best way to measure your water needs is by how your body feels. But if you want to get really specific on how much water you need after a workout. Start by weighing yourself before and after exercise. After your workout, drink 16 ounces of fluid for every pound you’ve lost. This number is going to be reflective of how much you’ve sweat (assuming you don’t take a mid-workout bathroom break). If after exercise you lost plus or minus 1.5 percent bodyweight, you’re properly hydrated.  If you’ve lost 1.5–4.5 percent bodyweight, you’re dehydrated. And if you’ve lost any more than 5 percent bodyweight, you’re severely dehydrated.

It’s important to drink H2O throughout the day. A good base goal (whether you’re working out or not) is to divide your bodyweight in half and drink that number in ounces of water every 24 hours. This way, you’ll walk into the gym in optimum fluid balance, which not only helps prevent a major water deficit later, but also ensures you’ll get your best workout, since even slight dehydration can cause an energy lag. 

And if you’re working out for longer than an hour (and especially if it’s hot and humid in your gym or outside), it’s a good idea to replace your electrolytes as well as the fluids you lost during your sweat sesh.

How do you know when you’re properly rehydrated? You’re feeling good! You’re not experiencing common signs of dehydration like lightheadedness, lower energy, dark yellow pee, dry skin, muscle cramps, increased heart rate, or stinky breath. 

There’s not an exact, one-size-fits-all water rule because a lot factors into each person’s individual needs (including age, gender, activity level, where you live, and even how heavily you breath. And yes, perspiration comes in to play, too.

Just how many times do you need to refill your water bottle on days you take a HIIT class or go for a long run in the hot sun, and how does it compare to how hydrated you need to be when you’re sitting at your desk?

The bottom line: There’s no exact science to how much water you need to drink based on how much you’re sweating. But if you’re thirsty, it’s your body telling you that it’s time to drink up.