Food That Help You Lose Weight

By AM Northwest Staff

Elizabeth Somer joined us to share the 5 Power Foods for Weight Loss

As we head into the holidays, the glut of foods combined with the time crunch and stressed-out schedules are a mean combination for trying to manage your weight. But, Elizabeth Somer, Dietitian and author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet, says some of that holiday fare might actually help you LOSE weight. She was here to give us the scoop on 5 super foods that help with weight loss, and 5 foods that you might want to avoid.

Some foods can actually help us lose weight. Granted, your weight is a direct reflection of calories you take in from the diet and the calories you burn in exercise. If you are overweight, your incoming calories out-weigh your out-going ones, while if you are losing weight that means you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning in activity. It’s a very simple fact, despite what all the silly fad diets tell you about food combining or carbs making you fat. It’s just about calories. That said, there are a few foods that can speed up the weight-lose process when combined with a healthy, low-calorie diet.

1. GRAINS

Do choose Whole grains

Carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years. Granted, the claim that carbohydrates make you fat is partly right. In the past few decades, our appetites have dramatically increased for thousands of highly-refined, calorie-dense grain-based foods, including doughnuts, cookies, white pasta, sweetened cereals, white bread and bagels, sports bars, and snack foods. Along with our increasingly sedentary lives, these carbs have packed on the weight, especially with the super-sized portions we’ve so grown accustom. Along with the pounds have come an escalating risk for disease.

The main paradox in the controversy over grains is that refined grains cause the same diseases that whole grains help prevent. Fiber-rich whole grains lower our risks for everything from heart disease and cancer to diabetes, and they fill us up without filling us out, so they help keep us svelte. That’s because foods high in fiber and water are satiating, so we push back from the table feeling full before we have over-eaten, which explains why numerous studies show that people who consume the most whole grains also have the easiest time managing their weight.

Of course, not all whole grains are created equal. Skip anything that says "with whole grains" and go straight to the ingredient list. Choose products that say 100% whole grain or that list "whole" as the first ingredient.

Don’t choose Refined Grains

During the holiday season, cut out the junk. The more processed a food, the higher its calories, fat, and/or sugar and the lower its fiber. Compared to whole grains and other "real" foods, many processed foods are "calorie dense," that is - they pack a big calorie bang for their nutrient buck. (Hint: There is 440 calories in one 12-Grain Bran Muffin at Starbucks compared to 86 calories in a slice of whole wheat bread). The combined effect of more calories and less fiber means these foods are less likely to fill us up, so we gobble more and gain weight. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found that the more calorie-dense processed foods people consume, the more body fat they accumulate, while the more real foods they included in their diets, the lower their calorie intakes and body weights.

2. PACKAGED FOODS

Do choose soups and vegetable juices

Having a bowl of soup or a glass of tomato juice before a meal or party takes the edge off your hunger, so you are less likely to overeat. Research from Penn State shows that people consume up to 150 calories less when they start a meal with a broth-based soup or glass of tomato juice. Even a 150-calorie deficit every day and you’ll lose two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years! If you don’t have time to make soup from scratch, choose canned ones that are lower in sodium, then add extra frozen vegetables to them.

Don’t go for the "low carb" or "reduced fat" items

The packages of reduced fat crackers and cookies and the low-carb ice cream, but the reality is that in most cases these foods have just as many calories as their original. In addition, research shows that when people eat foods that they think are low in fat or calories, they eat more. Consequently, we consume more calories and that means weight gain. Besides, most of these foods are just highly-processed junk, low in fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fats that your body needs to stay healthy. 

3. SNACKS

Do snack on Nuts

An ounce or two of nuts added to the diet several times a week could cut your risk for heart disease by up to 39%, as well as lower cancer and diabetes risk. Yet, if you’re like most Americans, you’re averaging less than an ounce of nuts a week, not a day, so are depriving yourself of a rich source of protein, magnesium, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Granted, nuts are high in calories, but the fat in most nuts is heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats and appears to help with weight loss. Studies show that people can eat up to an ounce of nuts several times a week without it causing weight gain, and in fact, the nuts help people stick to their weight-loss efforts probably because they are satisfying and give you a little decadence.

Don’t snack on potato chips

Chips are our number one snack food and everyone would be better off not eating them. I don’t care how pretty the packaging, now healthy the advertisement, or even if the bag says you get a serving of vegetables in every bite, a chip is a chip is a chip, supplying about 120 to 150 calories/1 ounce serving. Up to 59% of those calories come from fat, they are loaded with sodium, and almost devoid of nutrients once found in the original potato. Skip the chips and snack on baby carrots w/ dip, a few of those nuts, or apple slices.

4. THE ENTREE

Do choose fish or turkey breast

Protein is satiating. It sticks with us longer than does fatty foods or even carb-rich foods, so we are less tempted to graze after a meal or snack. To maximize the benefits, choose low-calorie, protein-rich foods, such as fish (a serving of halibut has half the calories of a serving of steak) or turkey breast (a 3 ounce serving of turkey breast has 25% fewer calories than dark meat). Of course, you still must keep a serving size to a reasonable portion of 4 to 6 ounces max.

Don’t Go Overboard Using Fats in Cooking

Fat has more than two times the calories per teaspoon compared to protein and carbs, so it is easy to double, triple, even quadruple the calories in a meal if you use fats of any kind. Tablespoon for tablespoon, all fats from butter to olive oil, have about 100 to 110 calories/tablespoon. Those calories add up. For example, batter and fry a serving of halibut and you increase the calories by 55%. Top your potatoes with a dollop of gravy and you add an additional 70 calories; smother the plate in gravy and you could be getting more calories and fat in that one meal than you need in an entire day. So, roast, grill, pan-fry using cooking spray, and broil your meats, rather than saute, fry, or top with fatty sauces 

5. DRINKS

Do drink water

Many times we eat just to keep our hands busy or to satisfy a vague craving. How many times have you mindlessly eaten appetizers at a party just to be doing something with your hands? Many people turn to ice cream to satisfy a craving, when really they just need something that is wet and cold...like water. Keep your fingers out of the appetizers, your spoon from taste-testing while cooking, and your cravings at bay by drinking water, sparkling water, or water flavored with a little fruit juice.

Don’t go overboard on alcohol

Liquid calories add up fast. Our bodies don’t register calories from liquids, so the calories in a cola or a Gin Fizz are added to, rather than replace, other calories in our total day’s intake. It’s as if the internal calorie counter in our brains that tells us when we’ve eaten enough is blind to liquid’s calorie load. In one study from Purdue University, people were given a snack of jelly beans or a soft drink, both having an equal number of calories. Only the people drinking their calories gained weight. Alcohol is the least filling of the four calorie-containing substances. At seven calories a gram, alcohol has a calorie content closest to fat, so the calories add up fast. The average drink - such as a beer, glass of wine, or shot of liquor - supplies about 150 calories, but that’s just a start. Add sugary mixes or cream to any drink and the calories can double or even triple. For example, a hot buttered rum or homemade egg nog can have up to 350 calories! "A meal that includes alcohol, fatty foods, and excess calories is especially fattening, since more of those calories are stored as body fat. We also eat more when we drink. Alcohol stimulates appetite by increasing the production of saliva and gastric acids, both cause abdominal contractions that resemble a rumbling stomach. Combine that with alcohol’s ability to dissolve our resolve and you have the perfect recipe for overindulgence. In fact, we gobble up to 200 more calories when a meal is accompanied by one alcoholic drink l than when we don’t imbibe.

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