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weight loss

Don’t Believe These Common Weight Loss Myths

Breaking down 5 of the most common and unhelpful weight loss myths. Plus what you should do instead.

There’s a lot of misinformation about there about health. We see it all the time, but especially when it comes to losing weight. There are weight loss myths of all kinds that get spread like wildfire. 

The reason is that people know how hard it is to lose weight. They know it’s one of the toughest things to do and there are millions of Americans who are somewhere along their weight loss journey, just looking to make it easier.

So naturally, myths about how to do it best are everywhere. And it’s easy to get caught up in some of these myths, especially if you feel like you’ve been trying and failing over and over again.

So let’s get into some of those most common weight loss myths and what actually works instead based on the best research around right now.

Myth 1: You must have an intense exercise plan to lose weight

You’ll find any number of trainers and health gurus suggesting the most extreme measures when it comes to exercise.

But the truth is, you can lose weight through diet alone, but not through exercise alone. If you exercise and just keep up with the same eating habits, or even add food because now you’re hungrier after adding intense exercise, you’re actually undermining your weight loss efforts.

For most people, losing weight depends on eating fewer calories than you burn each day. But how you go about doing that will depend on your unique circumstances. And it isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are tough physical and psychological challenges that come along with changing lifestyle habits to lose weight. Weight loss is hard. No matter how anyone tries to boil it down to a simple equation of calories in vs calories out.

With all that being said, it’s still important to do exercise. There are countless other benefits from exercising regularly, from preventing cancers, improving heart health and blood pressure, to reducing stress, and improving sleep, energy, and mood. And the kind of exercise you do has an impact on your physique as you lose weight through dieting efforts. Your physique outcomes will be different if you spend most of your time exercising by lifting weights instead of running.

But the important thing to know about exercise and weight loss is that you don’t have to do a crazy intense workout program. The minimum recommended amount of exercise for optimal health benefits is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. 

How to exercise for weight loss:

The important thing to know about exercise and weight loss is that you don’t have to do a crazy intense workout program. The minimum recommended amount of exercise for optimal health benefits is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. 

What’s most important is to find the kind of exercise you like most and pair it with a healthy diet and ideal calorie intake for your weight loss goals. You also want to make sure your program is something sustainable—something you can actually stick with for long enough to see results. 

You also want to train in progressions. Start with 30-minute sessions and build to 60-minute sessions if you have the time for that. It’s ideal to get a mix of training styles. Two days of cardio and three days with strength training, all for 30 minutes, is a great place to start. 

Myth 2: Healthier foods are more expensive

We hear this one all the time, don’t we? We hear about how all the healthy food is just so out of reach for many Americans.

But the opposite is actually true.

Let’s think first about what we mean by “healthy”.

Healthy doesn’t mean organic. By healthy foods, we mean whole foods—fruits, vegetables, legumes, complex grains, and depending on your dietary restrictions, certain dairy (like yogurt and low-fat cheese) and lean meat as well.

So how expensive is it to eat healthy whole foods compared to lower quality foods and fast-food? Well it depends on how you calculate the price of food. According to USDA, we often hear that unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods because the conversation centers on one way of calculating cost: price per calorie. It’s true that unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods when talking about calorie density. But it’s a misleading way of talking about food cost alone.

Calories aren’t the only way to think about food. You can also think about the overall nutritional value. And how filling the food is. The same report from the USDA found that when calculating the cost of food by edible weight or by average amount eaten, the healthy foods are cheaper than unhealthy foods. 

The one caveat is that you do end up spending more time preparing meals when you opt to buy the fresh whole and healthy foods over other options. And that time can seem like a huge downside. 

But in the long run, for your health, that time spent is worth it. And cooking, once you get used to doing it and learn some tricks, can be not only fun, but relaxing. 

Myth 3: Losing weight is impossible if you have snacks

Okay, there’s a lot of hate for snacking out there. But there’s nothing inherently evil about snacks. It’s all about moderation and smart choices in your diet plan.

How to snack smart

First off, make sure any snacks you add don’t put your over your daily calorie amount. Then you want to make sure your snacks are still nutritionally balanced. If all of your snacks are a serving of chips, sweets, and other high calorie foods, then your snacks aren’t serving you well.

The point of a snack is to have something to tide you over until you get to your next meal if you need it. Or for an energy boost in the afternoon when you start feeling sluggish.

So to make it impactful, you want to have a snack that is filling and full of essential vitamins and nutrients.

Good options would be a high-protein, low-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt or skyr are great choices. An apple with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, depending on your calorie allotments. Both of these are tasty snacks that are filling enough to get you through to your next meal. Plus you get important nutritional requirements from them.

Myth 4: Losing weight is all about willpower

This is very likely the most harmful weight loss myth on this list. And one of the most damaging of all the myths around weight loss.

Now I won’t deny that losing weight takes a certain amount of discipline. But it’s about so much more than that.

There are ingrained patterns to overcome. There are eating habits that you’ve been living by for years and it will take time to undo and recover from that damage. A lot of times, these are habits or thoughts about food you don’t even realize you have. This is true of everyone. 

How to think about your weight loss journey instead?

Will power isn’t something you can rely on forever. The key is to find a weight loss plan that works for you and that you’re happy to do.

And equally as important is to be patient with your progress and trust it will come. And in the meantime practice gratitude.

Be grateful for what your body does for you and be patient while waiting for the outcomes that you want. 

Take it all one day at a time. Don’t judge yourself for what you did last year, last week, or even yesterday. Know what you need to do each day and give it your best effort to reach it. And if you fail one day, it doesn’t mean you’ll fail the next. With continued effort, changes will come about over time.

Work with us

As experts, we know that losing weight is a complex process. And while there are general rules everyone can follow to lose weight, what works best for you depends on your unique circumstances.

It’s our goal to help you create a plan with the best information and resources available to help you get to your ideal weight as soon as possible in a healthy and safe way.

Contact one of our offices today to get more information about what we offer and how you can work with one of our experts.

Sources:

  1. Carlson, Posted by Andrea, et al. “Healthy Foods Not Necessarily More Expensive Than Less Healthy Ones.” USDA, 21 Feb. 2017, www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/05/16/healthy-foods-not-necessarily-more-expensive-less-healthy-ones
yogurt, healthy gut

Healthy Gut Bacteria Can Help You Lose Weight

Healthy gut bacteria is an often overlooked key to improving health and losing weight

Did you know that when you eat a piece of pizza, you aren’t the only one consuming all of those calories? There are trillions of bacteria in your gut you share that pizza, and all the rest of your food with.

This sounds pretty great because you aren’t actually absorbing all the calories of the food you eat. There are more bacteria living in and on your body than you have cells, and those bacteria need plenty to eat.

But it also means there’s a lot more going on inside our bodies when it comes to our health and weight. We have to be aware of the role our gut bacteria plays in our health.

The importance of healthy gut bacteria has become more clear in recent years with more studies finding that your microbiome impacts your health in unexpected ways. The bacteria in your body help your immune system work better and supply essential nutrients vitamins to the rest of your body.

Researchers are also finding that gut bacteria play a role in weight gain and weight loss

The connection between healthy gut bacteria and weight

Some of the earliest research into the gut microbiome and weight loss showed the connection between certain types of bacteria and weight. 

There are a lot of different bacteria in your body. You have Prevotella that helps you digest carbohydrates and fiber. Then there’s Bacteroidetes for processing meat and fats. You also have Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia which are important for your gut barrier. They line your intestines and prevent inflammation by limiting inflammatory chemicals from entering your bloodstream. And this isn’t even scratching the surface of all the bacteria in your body.

What’s fascinating is that the types of bacteria you have drastically influence your weight. So much so that scientists discovered that when they put the gut flora from overweight humans into lean mice, the mice gained weight weight.

Other studies showed that scientists could predict whether a person would be overweight or lean based on their gut microbes. Even in twin studies, researchers could predict which twin was lean or overweight based on the flora in their gut. They found that the lean twin and the overweight twin have different types of gut flora, and bacteria in different quantities. Individuals who are lean have bacteria in greater quantities and with more diversity compared with those who are overweight.

So what can you do to improve your gut health?

Eat more fermented foods

One of the best things you can do for your gut health is to eat fermented foods. What are those exactly?

Fermented foods have gone through the process of fermentation—which is when yeast and bacteria break down food components into something new. So when the yeast and bacteria break down sugars into other molecules that change the taste, texture, and flavor of the food or drink.

Some common examples of healthy fermented foods are sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, skyr, tempeh, miso, and kombucha.

Eating more of all of these foods have been associated with improved gut health and weight loss. Especially yogurt. One weight loss study looked into the impact of dietary factors on weight and found that people who introduced yogurt into their diet and ate it regularly lost weight over the course of the year.

Eat more fiber

We often talk about how eating fiber is great for curbing your appetite. High fiber foods are known to be low-calorie, high-satiety. They keep you feeling full longer than other foods like simple carbohydrates and processed foods. 

But fiber is also helpful for losing weight by promoting a healthy gut microbiome. Fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breakfast cereals provide the type of fiber and nutrients that your gut bacteria likes to feed on.

Aim to get the recommended amount of fiber every day. You should have 25–30 grams of fiber from food, not from supplements. Most American adults don’t get enough fiber and it wreaks havoc on the gut flora.

Eat less processed sugar

All the highly processed foods packed with sugar and unhealthy fats aren’t just bad for your own cells. They’re bad for your gut bacteria too. 

Part of the reason that so many people lack a healthy quantity of the gut bacteria that help them break down food properly is that many of the bacteria that rely on fiber and complex carbohydrates from legumes and whole grains have been starved. 

Your bacteria can’t live on sugars alone. So when they’re only fed unhealthy foods, they become so hungry that they die or adapt and eat what’s available: the mucus inside your intestines. Sounds gross, I know. But experts believe that this could contribute to inflammation, which is linked to obesity.

So just like your cells require the variety of nutrients found in whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, and complex carbohydrates, the bacteria in your body need a healthy diet too. And the healthier they are, the healthier you can be too.

Talk with experts

Making sure your gut bacteria is healthy and thriving requires a lot of the same dietary and lifestyle changes to keep the rest of your body healthy. And there’s no doubt that making such lifestyle changes are hard to do. Especially when trying to do it alone.

At Valley Medical Weight Loss, we help you with your weight loss plans and talk about creating a diet that works for you and keeps your gut flora healthy.

Contact our experts and get the support you deserve to lose weight and live your healthiest, happiest life.

Sources

  1. E;, Thaiss CA;Zmora N;Levy M;Elinav. “The Microbiome and Innate Immunity.” Nature, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27383981/.
  2. LeBlanc JG;Milani C;de Giori GS;Sesma F;van Sinderen D;Ventura M; “Bacteria as Vitamin Suppliers to Their Host: a Gut Microbiota Perspective.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22940212/.
  3. Ridaura VK;Faith JJ;Rey FE;Cheng J;Duncan AE;Kau AL;Griffin NW;Lombard V;Henrissat B;Bain JR;Muehlbauer MJ;Ilkayeva O;Semenkovich CF;Funai K;Hayashi DK;Lyle BJ;Martini MC;Ursell LK;Clemente JC;Van Treuren W;Walters WA;Knight R;Newgard CB;Heath AC;Gordon J. “Gut Microbiota from Twins Discordant for Obesity Modulate Metabolism in Mice.” Science (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24009397/.
  4. Turnbaugh, Peter J, et al. “A Core Gut Microbiome in Obese and Lean Twins.” Nature, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Jan. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19043404.
  5. Mozaffarian, Dariush, et al. “Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, 15 Sept. 2011, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/Nejmoa1014296

Overcome Common Weight Loss Obstacles

If you hit a wall in your weight loss journey, don’t stress, and don’t give up! We have some tips to help you.

When you start your weight loss journey it’s easy to feel motivated and excited for the changes you imagine in your life. The last thing on your mind is all the weight loss obstacles that could get in your way.

But the changes you want take time. And over time the excitement starts to fade. You realize just how difficult it is to lose weight. And it’s not uncommon for all your goals to suddenly feel impossible.

But you can do it. Just like the thousands of others who have found success before you.

But we know it’s not easy. It’s never as simple as just do more exercise. Or just stick to your diet.

If it were as simple as just following those suggestions, then no one would be overweight.

The truth is…no matter how much weight you want to lose, there will be ups and downs. You will encounter roadblocks.

The key to success isn’t pretending that won’t happen. 

It’s in being prepared.

So here are some insights about how to overcome six of the most common weight loss obstacles. 

That way you can make a gameplan from the start. And when something inevitably tries to get in your way, you will overcome it and succeed in your weight loss journey.

1.Diet Struggles

Constantly feeling hungry

Hunger is one of the most difficult feelings to ignore. And if you’re constantly feeling hungry, then you most likely won’t be able to maintain your weight loss plan for very long.

But there are ways of getting around that. Like by choosing foods that are high satiety, but low calorie. High satiety means foods that make you feel full after eating them.

Foods like oatmeal, fish, greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr, popcorn, soup, fruits, vegetables, and potatoes (not in french fry form—sorry, I know they’re delicious).

These foods are filling and low calorie. Many of them highly nutritious too. 

And they’re a good place to start for another problem people face around food and weight loss:

Not knowing what to eat

There’s a lot of conflicting information about what the best diet is. 

But it really doesn’t have to be so complicated. Your goal is to eat for health and weight loss.

Based on your personal conditions, you may eat a different variety of foods from another person, but there are a few general rules to stick to:

You want to eat more foods that have high nutritional value. Foods that get you a mix of the right essential nutrients your body needs to be healthy. And you want to keep your caloric intake low enough to lose weight.

But when you don’t have time to put in the research to learn about all there is to know about diet, it’s easy to feel stuck.

This is why having a meal plan created for you can be so helpful. It takes all the thinking out of the equation on your end. You get an expertly created meal plan and the results will follow when you stick to it.

You don’t have time to cook

When you decide to cook your own meals because it’s healthier than going out to eat or relying on microwavable meals, you realize how time-consuming cooking can be!

Plus you’re tired after work every day. The last thing you want to do is cook every night.

The best way to get around this weight loss obstacle is to meal prep.

Every Sunday making all of your meals and putting them into portions that you can easily grab and heat up throughout the rest of the week.

It removes the temptation to go out to avoid cooking. It saves you the time of cooking a new meal every single day.

And it’s the best way to set yourself up for success.

2. Exercise Obstacles

Find exercise boring

If you can’t find the motivation to exercise it’s possible that you find exercise boring.

The thought of going for a run sounds like mind-numbing torture. And walking on the treadmill for an hour? Total snoozer.

Not everyone would choose to spend hours of their week doing rigorous activity. You might have other passions and interests you want to invest your time in.

But there’s no denying the importance of exercise for your health. You avoid doing it at your own peril.

The reality is that there are so many types of exercise out there. And while you see fitness influences all over social media, or professional athletes on TV, don’t assume that you must go all or nothing into exercise as they have.

Find an activity you enjoy—yoga, swimming, walking, jogging, team sports, lifting, or dancing.

It can be anything. But you have to do it regularly.

At least three days a week of moderate to intense activity is recommended. But what’s even better is getting into the habit of doing 30 minutes of fun physical activity every day.

Just remember that if you start to get bored you can always switch things up.

Don’t have time

I get it—we live in a culture where being busy is the default.

So this makes creating time for longer workouts difficult for many people. It’s hard to show up for classes that run for an hour or longer when you barely have time for everything else.

But there are ways of saving time in your workouts.

One simple way is by choosing to workout at home instead of the gym. This cuts down on commute time you inevitably have to factor into your day.

And don’t feel like you have to follow any program that will take you longer than 30 minutes to complete in a day.

30 minutes is enough time to get in a solid workout. And it’s a reasonable chunk of time to set aside each day.

It’s going to be difficult to do at first. Especially if you haven’t established a routine. Or if your daily schedule really does feel like mayhem.

But the 30 minutes you invest now will improve the quality of your life now and for your future.

Pain 

Pain is one of the hardest weight loss obstacles to overcome.

But it can be done.

Work with a trainer. Speak with a physical therapist. These are people who are specially trained to work with you through your pain.

And with so many different types of exercise to choose from, you can find something that won’t cause you pain. 

3. Embarrassment 

It’s easy to feel embarrassed when there’s a lot of social stigma around weight.

Maybe you’re embarrassed that all your past attempts at losing weight failed. And you believe no one will take you seriously when you say you want to try again.

Maybe you don’t want to step foot in the gym where you see plenty of fit and thin people.

That kind of embarrassment and fear is paralyzing.

So how do you overcome it?

One way is to remember that you aren’t alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy. And everything you’re doing deserves compassion and celebration.

Know that you belong anywhere. If fear of the gym is stopping you from getting the exercise you need to burn calories and lose fat, let’s consider a few things:

  • No one in the gym actually cares about what you’re doing or even notices. And if they do, they’re the problem, not you.
  • The gym exists for everyone who wants to get healthier–that includes you!
  • Give yourself time to learn. You won’t feel like a pro in the gym at first. Embrace those feelings of uncertainty and channel them into learning so you can feel more at home there.

And finally, find people who support you. Anyone who cares about seeing you feel healthy and happy won’t shame you for trying. Even if you tried and failed before. 

Having the support of others normalizes what you want to do. Support helps you overcome any weight loss obstacles and helps you feel less embarrassed.

4. Motivation Fluctuates 

Our motivation to do everything comes and goes in waves. Truly, for everything.

Professional athletes, musicians, writers, and people from all walks of life will have plenty of days where they just don’t want to do it.

It might be one day. It might stretch to two weeks.

Because what happens with everything is we often reach a plateau. Or we find ourselves stuck in a rut. 

But progress is still happening. Even if we can’t see it or hear it, it’s happening. And you’re not far away from another burst of motivation and improvement if you just. keep. going.

So you will face low points in your weight loss journey. You’ll feel like it’s no use or that you aren’t making the progress you want.

This is truly one of the most insidious weight loss obstacles because it’s so easy to convince yourself nothing you do matters during times of low motivation.

It’s overcoming those low points that are the ultimate challenge. But there are some ways to regain that spark and stay on track.

Read motivational books, listen to motivational podcasts, watch inspirational documentaries. Find people who are willing to listen to you and motivate you.

Surround yourself with all the positive reminders of why you want to lose weight. 

And most importantly: don’t beat yourself up if you slip.

Did you have an extra cheat meal this week? Did you eat more in the last two days because of some social events that came up?

Do not worry.

A lot of times, when we break a pattern or a streak we feel like we’ve completely ruined everything.

And when we feel this way, it’s easy to just say you’re a failure, and give up altogether.

Instead, try to recognize the truth of the situation: you enjoyed the first treat in a month because you were happy and wanted to enjoy yourself.

Accept it, embrace that moment, let it happen, and then move on.

To shame yourself will only ever keep your motivation in a downward spiral. It will turn harmless incidents into catastrophic events even when it wasn’t close to being one to begin with.

5. Stress 

Stress is one of the most overlooked but hugely important barriers to weight loss.

Our metabolism actually slows down under stress.

And when we are stressed it’s easier to feel demotivated and run into more weight loss obstacles than when we feel at ease.

So if weight loss is your goal, it’s important to consider how stressed you are. And what you can do to reduce your stress.

Some common ways are to meditate, spend time outside, read a good novel, watch a fun series, take a bubble bath, or exercise. All of these activities can help you take your mind off what’s causing you to worry. And instead, let you focus on the present.

And if stress is really interfering in your life in many ways, it’s worth talking to a professional about your stress. 

The outcome would be a better state of mind and improved physical health.

6. Schedule Changes 

Have you ever gone on vacation and realized that it’s nearly impossible to stick to your usual weight loss plan?

Here’s the reality about vacations: they’re fun but they wreak havoc on your weight-loss plan. 

It’s harder to exercise. You don’t know what kind of gym your lodgings will have—if any. And you don’t know how much of your usual training routine you’ll be able to stick to.

There’s also the matter of food.

Chances are you’ll eat out regularly. This means you won’t be sticking to the meal plan that’s best for your weight loss and overall health.

Whether it’s a vacation, a new work schedule, or a life change that’s going to upend your normal routines for the foreseeable future, you can overcome these.

First off, it’s important not to stress out about these changes. Whether they’re temporary or long-term, the key to overcoming this obstacle is to create a new plan to keep losing weight.

People have achieved their weight loss goals under so many different circumstances. Some are undoubtedly easier than others. But your goals are always possible.

What’s the easiest way to overcome all of these weight loss obstacles?

With support.

It’s proven that those who have support in their weight loss goals are more successful and happier while doing it.

Why?

Because the changes you’re making are huge! They’re life-altering. And there’s no doubt that making lifestyle changes and creating new habits is one of the hardest things for us to do.

But when we feel supported and like our goals have a purpose outside of ourselves, they become more attainable. They become more enjoyable. 

Find out how to get life-changing weight-loss support at Valley Medical Weight Loss to make your weight loss goals a reality.

Sources:

1.“7 Filling Foods to Prevent Hunger Backed by Science.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324078.

2. Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K, et al. “Daily Stressors, Past Depression, and Metabolic Responses to High-Fat Meals: a Novel Path to Obesity.” Biological Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Apr. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289126/.

buffalo cauliflower

Healthy Recipe: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

It’s October, which means playoff baseball, especially if you’re a Red Sox or a Dodgers fan. Even if you don’t care about baseball, you’ll probably find yourself at some championship game and/or World Series party. What you may not find is a healthy snack that fits into your weight loss plan. The solution: bring one yourself! These Buffalo Cauliflower Bites have all the flavor of the traditional deep fried buffalo chicken wings, but with a better nutritional profile. They’re low fat, low carb, Keto, and paleo, so they’re sure to please everyone at the party.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot sauce
  • 1/4 cup ghee

What To Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond meal, garlic, parsley, and salt in a large sealable plastic bag and shake to mix.
  3. Whisk egg in a large bowl. Add cauliflower and toss to coat completely.
  4. Transfer coated cauliflower to bag with almond meal mixture and toss to coat.
  5. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 30 minutes or until softened and slightly browned.
  6. While cauliflower is baking, combine hot sauce and ghee in a small saucepan over low heat.
  7. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add cooked cauliflower. Toss to coat. Serve hot.

 

Is Yogurt Healthy? Making Sense of the “Diet” Food

Since 2010, more than 670 new yogurt products have made their way into your local supermarket. Manufacturers market these yogurts as a healthy, waist-reducing option, but that’s not always the whole story. It’s true that yogurt can make for a great breakfast or on-the-go snack, but you have to choose wisely. Some contain almost as much added sugar as a can of soda! Others may not have added sugar, but are loaded with artificial ingredients. Yogurt can quickly turn from “healthy” to “junk food” if you’re not careful. With so many choices out there, how can you narrow it down? Should you make yogurt a part of your diet or should you skip it altogether?

Because yogurt is a rich source of calcium and protein – and many have the added benefits of live cultures that can improve your digestion – we think that it’s earned its place in your diet. We’re going to make it simple for you to choose a healthy yogurt by letting you know what to look for and what to avoid.

Sugar in Yogurt Isn’t So Sweet

The first thing you should do when choosing a yogurt is check the sugar content. Flavored yogurts and those with fruit on the bottom contain approximately 26 grams of sugar – that’s a LOT of sugar. Some of this sugar is naturally occurring, but about 14 grams are added – and those are the grams you want to avoid. Steer clear of any flavored yogurts or yogurts with added fruit or granola and opt for plain, non-fat varieties, which contain only 6 grams of naturally-occurring sugar, instead. You can spice up your yogurt by adding some fresh berries, a handful of crushed nuts, or some chia or flax.

Investigate the Ingredients

The only two ingredients needed to make yogurt are milk and live bacterial cultures — specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus — yet many commercial brands add unnecessary ingredients like sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and gums. Read the ingredient list and choose one that contains only milk and live, active cultures.

Figure Out the Fat

Yogurt comes in three main varieties – nonfat, low-fat, and full-fat. Full-fat yogurts typically contain 16 grams of saturated fat, which is about 80 percent of the amount you’re supposed to eat in an entire day! Instead of getting a full-fat yogurt, opt for low-fat or nonfat instead. You can add in your own healthy fats – in the form of a handful of nuts or a drizzle of almond butter, if you’d like.

Protein Power

Protein promotes fullness, so choosing a yogurt that is higher in protein makes it more likely that you’ll get through the afternoon without overeating or reaching for unhealthy snacks. A 6-ounce serving of regular yogurt contains 9 grams of protein, while the same 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains about 15 to 20 grams. Opt for yogurts that have a higher protein content.

We want to hear from you! What’s your favorite? What are your go-to yogurt toppings?

green tea

Top 4 Drinks for Weight Loss

Many people don’t realize just how bad choosing the wrong drink can be for their waistline. Sugary drinks, like soda and lemonade, contain loads of calories and no nutritional benefit. Even drinks that are advertised as “healthy,” such as enhanced waters and sports drinks, tip the scale when it comes to sugar. Stay away from these diet saboteurs and stick to drinks that are lower in sugar and offer plenty of vitamins and minerals. These weight loss drinks can help you shed the pounds while still quenching your thirst.

Water

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you, but water tops the list of drinks you need to stay healthy and trim. Yes, water quenches your thirst, but it also helps carry nutrients to your cells and flushes out toxins from your organs. Water also lubricates your ear, nose and throat tissues and helps you maintain your body temperature. Drinking water before meals can also help you eat fewer calories in the long run.

Coffee

We know seeing coffee on this list probably makes us your new best friend, and it’s true, coffee can be good for you! Coffee is naturally calorie-free, so if you enjoy it black — or with a no-calorie sweetener — you’re not adding to your caloric intake for the day. It’s also a great source of antioxidants, including those that keep your heart healthy. The caffeine in coffee has also been shown to boost metabolism speed. Of course, moderation is key. Too much coffee can cause jitteriness and anxiety. Limit yourself to three cups a day.

Green Tea

Green tea is high in a specific category of antioxidants called flavonoids, specifically catechins. Research has shown that catechins may be more powerful in fighting cell damage than other antioxidants, like vitamins C and E. Because of this, drinking green tea may help reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, such as bladder, breast, lung, colon and skin. But it’s not just that. The caffeine and catechizes together can speed uo metabolism and help break down excess fat. The combo also helps increase the amount of energy the body uses (or the amount of calories you burn.

In addition to green tea’s antioxidant properties, it can also help lower LDL cholesterol, which may help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. These benefits were generally seen with about 3 cups of green tea per day.

Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies

Smoothies can be a healthy drink option, when done right. Some smoothies, like the prepackaged versions at your grocery store, can contain lots of sugar and calories. When you make your own smoothies, however, you can whip u[ a drink that is rich in protein, fiber and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Smoothies are also a good way to meet your fruit recommendations for the day. Combine non-dairy milk with half a banana, a half-cup of strawberries, a handful of almonds and a handful of spinach. Blend and you’ve got a nutrient-packed breakfast that will help keep you full until lunch. If you order a smoothie while you’re out, ask them to hold any added sugar, like juice or ice cream. Fruit is naturally sweet enough.

vitamin b12

What Does Vitamin B12 Do for My Body?

Getting an adequate amount of vitamin B12 each day is vital to your health. The nutrient is essential to a number of processes and functions: it helps make DNA, keeps the body’s blood cells and nerves in tip-top shape, prevents certain types of anemia and more.

What are the Top Benefits of Vitamin B12?

  • The vitamin is important for energy production because it helps the body change carbs into glucose. Getting enough vitamin B12 each day can decrease lethargy and fatigue and give you more energy.
  • Vitamin B12 reduces brain shrinkage, stress and depression because it helps regulate the nervous system.
  • Essential for healthy and beautiful nails, skin and hair, vitamin B12 helps renew and reproduce the body’s cells.
  • Vitamin B12 is important for the digestive system, and it also protects against heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes.
  • The vitamin can also offer protection against lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer.

What If I Don’t Get Enough Vitamin B12?

A deficiency of this essential nutrient can cause constipation, weakness, tiredness and anemia in addition to balance issues, depression, dementia, soreness of the tongue or mouth, confusion and poor memory.

How Can I Get More Vitamin B12?

Animal foods are the top sources of vitamin B12, and some foods are fortified with it. The best sources of the nutrient are clams and beef liver, but eggs, milk, poultry, fish and meat are also good sources. The vitamin is also found in most multi-vitamins.

If you are not getting enough vitamin B12 from your diet, B12 injections may be a good option. Injections allow the vitamin to directly access your cells and maximize absorption for maximum benefits. If you are trying to lose weight, injections can jump start your results by increasing your metabolism and promoting energy.

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low calorie foods

Get the Flavor Your Crave Without the Calories

If you are like most people, your list of favorite foods is probably filled with treats that taste great but don’t rank high on the nutrition scale. Luckily, eating a healthier, more balanced diet does not have to mean foregoing all your favorites. With these lower-calorie substitutions, you can still enjoy the flavors you crave without the calories that pack on the pounds.

Cookies

Cookies are often loaded with sugar, chocolate, cream and other things that may make your taste buds rejoice but your waistline suffer. Swap high-calorie, high-fat treats with a more sensible, lower-calorie alternative, like fig bars. Still technically cookies, the sweet treats give you the flavor you desire without as many calories, and the fruit inside delivers an extra nutritional punch.

Potato Chips

Ruffled, covered with barbecue flavoring or sour cream and onion powder, kettle cooked or just plain, potato chips are a favorite indulgence but an unhealthy choice. Once you tear open a bag, you might eat half without even realizing it, and the calories and fat in each chip really add up. Next time you are tempted, try a serving of air-popped popcorn instead. It’s salty, crunchy, satisfying and has far less calories and fat than deep-fried chips.

Ice Cream

If you are craving something cool on a hot Arizona summer afternoon, skip high-calorie ice cream in favor of homemade Greek yogurt popsicles made with the season’s ripest berries, a smoothie made with ice, fresh peaches and almond milk, or ice cream made with coconut milk and topped with your favorite fruits.

Pizza

The cheesy, saucy goodness of pizza is certainly delicious, but it is also loaded with fat and calories. Instead of indulging in a slice (or three!) of traditional pizza, make your own on a whole-wheat pita with fresh veggies and a light sprinkling of low-fat cheese. Dress it up with your favorite spices and dig in without the guilt.

Soda

The high fructose corn syrup, sugar and calories in soda can do serious damage on your body, but you don’t have to give up sweet drinks entirely to get healthier and cut calories. Instead of gulping down a calorie-laden soda, try a glass of unsweetened tea or ice cold water with slices of lemon, lime or strawberries. You’ll get the sweetness you want without the calories.

French Fries

As with potato chips, it is hard to just eat one french fry. Instead of reaching for a deep-fried, crisp and salty fry, try slices of baked avocado topped with panko crumbs, zucchini fries or slices of baked sweet potatoes.

Learning to deal with cravings is one of the cornerstones of healthy weight loss, and making these simple substitutions can help you make healthier choices and shed pounds. To learn more about curbing cravings, boosting your metabolism and upping your energy, check out our weight loss programs today!

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