Not losing weight? I talk to people on a regular basis who just can't seem to shed those unwanted pounds, even though they feel like they're doing everything right. It's increasingly frustrating when we're trying our hardest, and the scale won't budge.
I've put together some tips for why it may not be working for you, and what to do about it, gleaned from 25 years as a dietitian.
You need to eat more, more often. It seems counterproductive to eat more to lose weight, but eating regularly throughout the day keeps your energy levels high and hunger in check. That in turn, prevents overeating. Skipping meals results in low energy and low nutrient intake. Your body needs fuel to be efficient. No food, no fuel. Not eating can put your body into starvation mode (like hibernation for a bear) and you'll end up storing fat instead of burning it. Eat every 3 to 4 hours.
Get enough sleep. Sleeping less than seven hours a night could be the reason your weight won't budge. Sleep deprivation throws off your leptin and ghrelin levels. (Those are hormones that control feeling full and stimulating hunger). When you lack sleep, leptin levels decrease and ghrelin levels increase, which makes you feel hungry all day long. Lack of sleep also affects your thinking. We all make better choices when we're well-rested.
Eat more protein. An intake of 20-30 percent of calories from protein can boost metabolism and often decrease cravings for sweets. Protein affects ghrelin levels, which regulates appetite. It's important to have protein at breakfast. That will keep you full longer and decreases the release of ghrelin.
Don't forget to eat carbs. Contrary to popular myths, carbohydrates are crucial for optimum health and wellness. Carbs are the brain's preferred form of fuel, as glucose from dietary carbs is synthesized easily. Complex carbs such as brown rice, whole-wheat flour, beans, fruits and vegetables are the best choices. Skipping carbohydrates can result in a high fat diet, which isn't necessarily healthy. You want to include all the food groups for a well-rounded diet.
Drink more water. So many times when we think we're hungry, we're actually thirsty. And our kidneys need water to flush out our system. Without enough water, the liver takes on some of the workload and can't do its job of burning fat. Try drinking a glass of water when you first get up.
Be patient. I tell my clients that the weight didn't go on overnight, and it's not going to come off overnight. Slow and steady is always best. Diets that promise a 10-pound weight loss in a week are simply measuring water loss. Rather than yo-yo dieting, commit to a healthy lifestyle based on the USDA My Plate, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
Q and A
Q: What is vitamin K and what role does it serve in the body?
A: Vitamin K is an umbrella term for a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play an essential role in coagulation, or blood clotting. Vitamin K also improves bone health. Natural forms of vitamin K fall into two categories: phylloquinones (vitamin K1 from plants) and menaquinones (vitamin K2 from bacteria). Since the body has limited vitamin K storage capacity, regular adequate intake is important (90 micrograms/day for women and 120 micrograms/day for men). This is easy to achieve with about 1 cup/day of dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts or broccoli. Deficiency is rare in healthy adults but can cause bleeding or bruising and increase osteoporosis risk. Those at high-risk for deficiency include people with chronic malnutrition, digestive diseases and infants (who commonly receive a vitamin K injection at birth). While toxicity from dietary vitamin K is uncommon, patients taking blood thinners (warfarin) should keep intakes consistent as sudden fluctuations may alter drug effectiveness.
Information courtesy of Environmental Nutrition.
The all-things-flavored-pumpkin craze has hit, and I admit, I'm a fan. The sad news is that not all things with pumpkin are healthy or low in calories. A classic pumpkin loaf can pack 400 calories per slice. Cooking Light developed a lighter loaf that includes quick oats and white whole-wheat flour while keeping the pumpkin flavor from pureed pumpkin. You can also pour the batter in muffin tins for individual servings.
3/4 cup whole buttermilk
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark-colored maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons roasted unsalted pumpkin seed kernels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Place buttermilk and oats in a bowl; stir to combine. Let stand 15 minutes. Whisk together pumpkin, maple syrup, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in oat mixture. Set aside. Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt and soda in a bowl. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture; whisk just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle with pumpkin seed kernels. Bake at 350 degrees, 55 to 65 minutes, until done. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Cut into 12 slices. (Serves 12).
Per slice: 200 calories, 5 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 13 grams sugars, 146 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 @Nutrition Rd. 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.