Please to enjoy.
Hi MizFit Online Readers!
It’s Beth and Heather, Registered Dietitians from Vtrim Online, and we’re here with answers to your wonderful questions from MizFit’s 12/9 blog post.
We were excited to see so many great questions that showed us you do not take your health for granted. Especially at the holidays, we all should give thanks for the gift of health! It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving, right?
At Vtrim, we value credible, scientific information – no gimmicks! So with that in mind, we narrowed your questions down to nine questions that were timely and applicable to many people. We merged a few questions into one response to get more of your questions answered. And we have made note of several of your questions that we will answer on the Vtrim blog (www.vtrimblog.org) over the next couple of weeks. You are always welcome to visit us at our blog and post your questions and thoughts. We’d welcome a conversation with you.
Beth & Heather, Vtrim Online
1. Rebecca asked: “Carbs/Cals Carbs/Cals – what’s your take on what’s more important?” and Joanna commented: “I’d love for you to talk about nutrient combo’s…Do you think Protein/Fat/Carbs belong in the same meal or broken down into P/F and P/C meals?”
Calories trump carbs, fat and protein. The calorie is king. It doesn’t matter what source your calories come from—if you consume more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight. Case in point: the second our society deems a nutrient bad for you, the food market creates products to match the rage (Think low-fat cookies, fat-free ice cream, low-carb bread, for example). Beware these claims! Just because the package claims it is “healthy,” doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. The key to managing your weight is monitoring the calories you consume and the calories you expend in exercise. For better appetite control, eating meals balanced with protein, carbs, and heart-healthy fats is best. There’s no danger in combining fats and carbs together in a meal, especially when they are healthier carb/fat sources (think whole grains, olive oil, fish, or nuts).
2. Cindie asked: “I am a Weight Watchers member, where the points formula basically gives you credit for more fiber. So many foods these days seem to have added fiber, which makes me skeptical. A 100 calorie Hostess cupcake pack with 4 grams of fiber essentially becomes 1 point instead of 2 because of the fiber. Seems like cheating to me! What’s your take on added fiber?”
We always appreciate a skeptical consumer. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This applies to Cindie’s example. Sure, the Hostess cupcake has some added fiber, but you probably aren’t eating that cupcake because you’re looking to add fiber to your diet. You’re typically eating the cupcakes because you want a treat. The strategy of pre-packaged portion-controlled treats is a good one if it helps you satisfy that craving without overeating; however, the reality is, you want to learn to eat a healthier diet overall. Even though the fiber is lowering the WW point value, it’s not taking away the high-calorie, low-nutrient quality of the cupcake. Added fiber in food can be a good thing, but it depends on how it’s played out. A lower point value doesn’t truly mean it is a healthier food choice. You still have to be a smart consumer and make healthy choices within your calorie goal, or in this case your points allotment.
3. Sagan asked: “Is it a good idea to eat first thing in the morning and at regular intervals throughout the day and a couple hours before bed, even if you’re not that hungry? Is it okay to let longer periods of time go by?”
Paying attention to WHEN you eat is a very valuable assessment. A key part of our Vtrim philosophy is this little maxim: it isn’t just WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat as well. What are your eating routines, triggers, etc, and how do they play a role in your total calorie intake, or your exercise habits? Eating regularly is a helpful strategy to keep you from becoming ravenous, thus, triggering overeating. In fact, research shows that people who skip meals tend to eat as many, if not more, calories than people who eat regular meals and/or snacks.
Paying attention to hunger cues and eating mindfully is also important. People who skip meals and go long hours between meals tend to have a harder time recognizing and responding to hunger cues appropriately. I’d recommend using a hunger scale to help guide your eating intervals throughout the day (On a scale of 1-10, 1 being starving, 10 being “totally overdid it”). Avoid the extremes at each end of the hunger scale. Aim to eat when your hunger level is between 3-4 (beginning to feel a little hungry or feeling uncomfortable and ready to eat), and to stop eating between 5-6 (comfortable and could only eat a little more or satisfied and feeling comfortable and full). As you keep track of your food choices and timing of meals each day, consider how your level of hunger impacts the quality and quantity of what you eat. By paying attention to your hunger cues, you will determine which eating patterns work best for you.
4. Kristy asked: “How to decide if the sleep is going to be more beneficial than the morning workout? I.E. Get 7 hours of sleep instead of 6 or take the 6 hours of sleep and do a 30 minute cardio session before work?”
Sleep or exercise? Exercise or sleep? It’s a tough spot to be because both are critical for good health and weight management. Research shows the impact sleep (or lack thereof) has on our bodies’ chemical/hormone balances, stress levels, and overall health, but there is also solid evidence explaining how exercise affects these same things too. It is ideal to make both work for you—enough sleep and exercise. The million dollar question is how will you find more time? Ask yourself the following questions:
**Are there activities you can eliminate (TV time) in order to exercise?
**Can you workout while doing something else (treadmill and TV, a walk to get an errand done, lunch break walks with a coworker)?
Research shows that breaking exercise up into several shorter bouts throughout the day (at least 10 minutes of continuous exercise at a moderate pace) can be as effective or more effective in completing your exercise for the week. This approach can seem more manageable than finding the time for 3-4 long workouts when sleep becomes a precious commodity. This also might be more realistic than getting out of bed an hour earlier. On the flip side, fatigue from sleep issues often stem from staying up too late rather than getting up too early. Can you use your time more efficiently in the evening and get to bed earlier to log more snoozing hours? If you try, you can look for and find ways to fit exercise into your regular daily routines and still hit the pillow at night in a timely manner.
5. Nikki asked about unintentional weight loss. She said: “I’m not trying to lose weight, and I do eat smaller meals throughout the day….Should I see a doc? Should I be putting some more weight on & what can I do to put on a little weight without bulking up my mid section which always seems to be the case?”
Being overweight or underweight can present health problems. Unintentional weight loss can be an indicator of other health issues, so anytime you’re losing weight without explanation warrants a visit to your doctor. As far as putting on weight without bulking up in the mid-section?
Unfortunately, we tend to put on weight in the places our bodies are genetically predisposed to storing fat (i.e., the classic apple shape vs. pear shape). You can’t control where you will store fat just as you can’t spot reduce fat either. The best bet is to make sure you are balancing calorie intake with your activity level. Make exercise a regular part of your week, including strength training to keep muscles toned and defined to work on your mid-section, focus your exercise activities on abdominal muscles if that is your trouble spot?
Stay tuned for part 2 of Your Questions Answered on January 20th.