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Newsletter for November 2009
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The Real Secret to Weight Loss and Optimum Fitness
By Laura LaValle, RD, LD Top
Just as there are
many "miracle" exercise products which deceptively promise an
Atlas-like body Miracle foodsin just a few minutes a day, in
the food world there are promises of weight loss from super foods or "miracle" juices (think acai berry).
Unfortunately, there is no one food that will magically melt away unwanted pounds. However, the overall quality of our diet IS crucial to
our success with weight management, and can make or break our fitness level.
So what dietary measures should you to take to support weight loss and overall fitness?
1. Reduce calories, especially from carbs. Studies continue to show that when it comes to losing weight, diet is by far the most important
factor. To put it another way, studies have found that physical activity produces only minimal weight loss when calories are not also reduced.
1 If you are a regular THB reader, you know that when it comes
to calorie reduction, we believe that the most important
calories to reduce are
from carbohydrates. When compared head to head, diets that are lower in carbs and higher in fat and protein, outperform every time on weight
2,3 And it's especially critical to reduce your intake of
sweets. Studies have indeed shown that calorie for calorie, high
glycemic index foods
(sweets and refined carbs) lead to less appetite control, greater calorie intake, and even reduced metabolic rate.
4 The simple sugar fructose, which comes from fruit and fruit juices, is also associated with weight gain and increased appetite.
5 The studies show that good weight loss and metabolic health
are achieved with about 25 to 35% of your calories from carbs.
That's about 110 grams of carbs on 1800 calories per day and 75
grams on 1200 calories per day.
2. Take in plenty of potassium. Believe it or not, potassium helps us preserve muscle. A recent study found that people who ate 3,540 mg of
potassium per day or more preserved almost 4 pounds of muscle over a 3-year period compared to people who took in half that much potassium.6
This is enough to offset the natural losses of muscle that tend to occur as we age (called sarcopenia). It should also help us retain the muscle
we work so hard to build with workouts!
Foods are highly variable in their potassium content, but the best sources are fruits and vegetables -- a ½ cup serving of beans averages
about 500 mg of potassium. A 1 cup serving of fruit and vegetables averages about 400 to 500 mg. So ½ cup of beans, 1 cup of fruit, and 5
cups of vegetables per day will get your intake where it needs to be.
3. Take in enough protein. As long as you don't have any metabolic disruptions like lack of sleep, protein really helps support a healthy
metabolism. For one, it provides the amino acids necessary to build and repair muscle. Resistance training in particular causes micro-tears in
your muscle fibers, and the more you do, the more protein you probably need to build and maintain muscle.7
But even for people who don't work out as intensely, there's another reason to eat a diet that's higher in protein -- hunger control. Studies
have shown that diets that are higher in protein lead to reduced appetite, reduced calorie intake and more weight loss than lower protein
diets.8 The amount that achieved those goals was 30% of the calories as protein or 90 to 135 grams per day on 1200 or 1800 calorie diets,
Having some protein for each meal and snack is a good goal. And if you exercise strenuously, you may want to add a post-workout snack such as a whey protein shake.
As several THB articles have pointed out, it's also important to choose organic protein foods as often as possible to reduce your intake of
pesticides that can interfere with thyroid hormones and induce insulin resistance.
As you can see, it's not just the amount of food you eat, but the types of foods you eat that can have a huge impact on weight loss, muscle retention, and your overall fitness. This can take some planning, but the benefits are well worth it!
For help on implementing a diet that is lower in carbs, but still high enough in potassium and protein, I recommend our recent e-book, The Metabolic Code Diet: Unleashing the Power of Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss and Vitality.
* Caution: Anyone who has failing kidneys should consult their doctor before increasing protein intake.
1. Fabricatore A and Wadden T. Clin Diab. 2003. 21(2): 67-72.
2. McCauley KA, et al. Diabetalogia. Jan 2005. 48(1):8-16.
3. Gardner C, et al. JAMA. 2007. 297(9):969-77.
4. Agus M, et al. AJCN. Apr 200. 71(4):901-07.
5. Teff KL, et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004. 89:2963-72.
6. Dawson-Hughes, B, et al. AJCN. Mar 2008. 87(3): 662.665.
7. Lemon P. J Am Col Nutr. 2000. 19(90005):513S-521S.
8. Weigle DS, et al. AJCN. Jul 2005. 82(1):41-48.
[Ed. Note: Laura B. LaValle, RD, LD is presently the director of dietetics nutrition at LaValle Metabolic Institute. Laura and her
husband, Jim LaValle, R.Ph, CCN, ND have developed the powerful and life-changing Metabolic Code Diet – containing step-by-step, easy to
follow recommendations for harnessing optimal metabolic energy and turning your body's chemical make up into a fat-burning furnace.
courtesy: Total Health Breakthrough.com
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