News flash…french fries are not helpful when trying to lose weight! Okay, so this isn’t really news, but what is news can be found in a recent article published in the New York Times questioning some conventional wisdom related to weight loss plans. No one doubts that eating less and exercise are beneficial for those trying to lose weight and improve overall health. But what exactly do we need to eat less of?
Five health experts at Harvard University studied the factors that influence weight gain in 120,877 participants, who, at the beginning of the study, were both healthy and not obese. The study examined the subject’s diets, exercise, sleep and other habits such as amount of TV watching, smoking and alcohol use. The participants were observed over 12 to 20 years by way of detailed questionnaires administered biennially and recording information on health and habits – including information on weight gain and loss. The results yielded some obvious answers, but it also revealed some blows to conventional wisdom on what we eat and how those foods impact fluctuations in weight.
Moderation Doesn’t Quite Cut It!
The study concluded that what might seem to be reasonable recommendations like, “eating things in moderation will result in weight loss” might not necessarily hold true! Many dieters believe in counting calories and that as long as their caloric total meets targeted numbers, we won’t gain weight but will actually drop pounds. But Dr. Dariush Mozaffarrarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the study says, “This study shows that conventional wisdom—to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories and avoid fatty foods—isn’t the best approach.” Rather, he says, “What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories won’t matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you’re eating.” Lastly, he adds: “The notion that it’s OK to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want.”
Exercise Works to Drop Weight but Only with Proper Diet
As one would expect, the subjects of this wide-reaching study did lose weight by exercising. That said, they only lost weight by exercising and following a healthy diet, together. We’ve all seen football players and other athletes who undoubtedly work out and run constantly, only to look like large tubs of goo on the field! So, it’s evident that exercise alone could make someone physically fit and muscular, but not necessarily thin. Unless you’re training to play for the Packer’s offensive line, it stands to reason that combining diet and exercise is the only way to go!
Types of Foods Matter More Than Quantity
On the Harvard study’s hit list of middle-modifying foods, fried standards like french fries and potato chips topped the chart as waist-enlarging choices. Again, not real news there! The only potentially enlightening observation was that some believing they can get away with “moderate” portions and even infrequent downing of fries and potato chips, are going to be wrong. As we said, “Put down the fries, now!” If you’re up for a reward for sticking to your weight loss program, choose a low fat yogurt, topped with fresh fruit. It tastes better and doesn’t leave you with that oily, sluggish feeling after. And by just eating this one healthy snack, you’re supplying nutrients your body needs to process foods and support your GI tract, for better absorption and digestion. Other waist-busting foods making their mark in the study included sugar-sweetened drinks, red meats and processed meats, other forms of potatoes, sweets and desserts, refined grains, other fried foods and butter. The research also found that foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts (including peanut butter) helped subjects lose more weight. Again, not particularly surprising news, but reaffirming.
Anytime we embark on a weight loss program, we do tend to miss out on some essential vitamins and minerals surprisingly found naturally in even the worst of foods. That’s where all-natural supplements come in! Taking a daily multivitamin replaces those lost components needed for healthy living in an easy-to-swallow tablet. Likewise, there are weight loss supplements to help us suppress our appetites and make it easier to follow a healthy diet with healthy portions and feel better doing it! So, let’s get started, and for goodness sake, stay away from the fries and chips!