Looking to lose weight before the summer? Here's what real people involved in The National Weight Control Registry collectively agree on — forget the superfoods, eat a healthful diet, don't splurge and exercise regularly.
That's it. Intentional weight loss boils down to consistency.
The NWCR celebrates 25 years of existence and is deemed "the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance," according to its website. The registry tracks more than 10,000 adults, "with about 4,000 active participants at any one time," Today's Dietitian reports. The website offers great resources for people to learn how to lose weight permanently from others who have had success. To join the study, you have to be at least 18 years old and have "lost ... and maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for one year or more."
So just what have participants done to maintain weight loss? While there is a variety in how it's done, most participants "report continuing to maintain a low-calorie, low-fat diet and doing high levels of activity" (about 90% of participants exercise an hour a day). A few other statistics from the website:
— "78% eat breakfast every day.
— "75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
— "62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week."
In addition, most of the participants generally eat about four to five small meals a day, and they track their calories and exercise with apps or other resources.
Here's another big part of the success: They "take corrective action for small amounts of weight gain," Today's Dietitian says. In other words, they get right back on track when they fall off the consistency wagon. If you have one higher calorie day, cut back the next day.
Be encouraged that you really can lose weight if that's your goal. The secret to consistent weight loss isn't a secret at all; it's consistently eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. There's nothing magical about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate pattern. Cook at home more; buy packaged foods less. Get excited about trying a new fruit, vegetable or grain. Move more. Track your food calories.
That's a plan for healthy eating — and weight loss.
Q and A
Q: With all the concern about carbohydrates, what is the best bread to choose?
A: First, let's talk about those carbohydrate concerns. Carbs aren't the enemy. We actually need them, and they are a great source of energy. What you want to choose is complex carbohydrates or carbs with fiber. So, the best bread to include in a healthy diet is a whole-grain or whole-wheat bread. Look for at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. The way to find that is to look at the label; if it has whole-wheat flour or whole grains listed first, it's going to be higher in fiber. Then look at the amount of fiber per slice. White bread, with white flour listed as the first ingredient, is going to be low in fiber, typically less than 1 gram. We all need 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Choosing a higher fiber bread for toast or sandwiches can help accomplish your fiber goals.
Much of the Midwest has been flooded with rain, which means it's a good time to bring out the comfort food — and your slow cooker. Here's a healthy twist on chicken soup that combines white beans and kale with chicken for a whopping 27 grams of fiber per serving. Pair it with a salad and crusty bread and you've got an easy meal. It's from Eating Well magazine.
SLOW-COOKER CHICKEN & WHITE BEAN STEW
1 pound dried cannellini beans, soaked and drained
6 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup sliced carrots
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 (4-ounce) Parmesan cheese rind plus 2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 bone-in chicken breasts (1 pound each)
4 cups chopped kale
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Combine beans, broth, onion, carrots, rosemary and Parmesan rind in a 6-quart slow cooker. Top with chicken. Cover and cook on low until the beans and vegetables are tender, 7 to 8 hours. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board; let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Shred the chicken, discarding bones. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and stir in kale. Cover and cook on high until the kale is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper; discard the Parmesan rind. Serve the stew drizzled with oil and sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley. Serves 6 (1 1/4 cups each).
Per serving: 493 calories; 44 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams total sugars; 0 grams added sugars; 11 grams fat (3 grams sat); 68 milligrams cholesterol; 27 grams fiber; 518 milligrams sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Illinois, and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.