Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lose Weight; Eat Real Food!

For many of us, ringing in the New Year brings a renewed commitment to improve our lives with resolutions to make positive changes. Diet resolutions are among the most popular. Fitness centers fill up, and restaurants sell more salads. TV shopping channels hawk diet supplements, exercise equipment and lots of Spandex active wear. But more often than not, even the most enthusiastic plans to “finally lose weight this year” fade by the time Super Bowl snacks appear.

Instead of setting yourself up for failure with another fad diet, remember that the only way to successfully maintain weight loss is to make lasting changes. Real food is the answer; real food is what you find around the outer aisles of the supermarket. This is where you find the fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy. You also find real food in the frozen food cases. The other real foods include certain breads, dried beans and grains, and canned goods. Real foods are foods that you can recognize without having to read a long list of ingredients. Broccoli is broccoli. Cheese is cheese. Milk is milk. Apples are apples. Chicken is chicken (see where I'm going with this?)

Now that you know what the real foods are, you must restrict yourself to those real foods that are not laden with too much sugar and salt. Many canned goods are high in sodium or sugar. Too much sodium, from salt or sodium chloride, is linked to hypertension. Too much sugar adds too many calories. Furthermore, too much salt and sugar causes us to crave more food and overeat. That's why you can't eat just one potato chip. That's why when you drink certain sweetened beverages, you're still thirsty.

To lose weight you must burn more calories than you eat. Professional athletes can eat several thousand calories per day and remain lean because they burn several thousand calories per day. People who sit at a desk all day don't need to eat as much as pro athletes. If you work at a desk and you eat as much as Venus or Serena Williams, then you are going to get fat. A point of clarification is in order here: Lean and thin are not the same thing. You can be thin and fat, meaning that you have no significant muscle mass or muscle tone. Serena Williams is not thin, but she is lean. She has lean muscle mass.

In addition to eating real food, you must eat sensible portions. If you eat food without a lot of sugar and salt, it is easier to eat smaller portions. You will not be as easily subject to cravings, and you will be more easily satiated because your body will get nutrients from real food. Real foods are nutrient dense and will not ignite cravings, so begin now to incorporate them in your diet.

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