Drink Water for Weight Loss

By Dory Karinen, Personal Trainer, Elite Sports Club-West Brookfield

There’s so much more to water beyond just quenching your thirst! And as the weather heats up, there’s no better time than now to use weight-loss as an excuse to stay properly hydrated!

Water Glasses

8 glasses a day keeps the fat away.

As incredible as it may seem, water is quite possibly the single most important catalyst in losing weight and keeping it off. Although most of us take it for granted, water may be the only true “magic potion” for permanent weight loss. Water suppresses the appetite naturally, hydrates your body, and helps the body metabolize stored fat. The kidneys cannot function properly without enough water. When the kidneys can’t function properly, they deposit everything into the liver. The liver’s function is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy. If it is doing some of the kidney’s work, then it is not working at 100% capacity and more stored fat stays as stored fat. Water reduces fluid retention in your body. When your body doesn’t get enough water, it perceives this as a threat to survival and begins to hold on to every drop of water and every drop of fat. More often than not, when you feel hungry, it is because your body is dehydrated, not food-starved.

Water Facts:

  • You can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water.
  • 60-70% of your body is water.
  • Obesity decreases the percentage of body water – to as low as 45%.
  • 8-12 cups of water are lost daily and must be replaced.
  • Thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger.
  • By the time you feel thirsty, your body may already be dehydrated.

Water is critical for all bodily functions, especially when you are losing weight.

Water is required to maintain muscle mass. Muscle is the “furnace” for burning fat and calories. You need to maintain your muscle mass while losing weight. In fact, every chemical reaction in the body, including the breakdown of body fat, requires water. Water also helps rid the body of waste. During weight loss, the body has a lot more waste to get rid of – all that metabolized fat had toxins stored in it that must be eliminated. Without adequate water, waste products just stay in the system.

Water helps to suppress the appetite naturally and is the best treatment for fluid retention.

When people feel hungry, they may actually be thirsty! Drinking more water than recommended does not cause bloating or water retention when you have normally functioning heart and kidneys. Excess water is very quickly eliminated, and allows the body to function properly. If you have a consistent problem with water retention, too much salt may be to blame. Processed foods contain a tremendous amount of salt. The more salt you eat, the more water your system needs to get rid of it. If you don’t get enough water you will feel bloated. But getting rid of unneeded salt is easy – just drink more water! The more you drink the more ya shrink!

Drinking Naturally Flavored Water

Water is such an integral part in our overall health and wellness. Often people complain that they don’t like the “taste” of water. Instead of purchasing processed and sugar-filled bottled “health” waters, or adding crystallized (sugar) flavoring, consider adding fruits like berries, or lemons to your water. Or you can even try mint & cucumber for more of a “cocktail” flavor!

Our certified and educated staff at Elite Sports Clubs are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to this and other topics! You are always welcome to consult our trainers & Registered Dietitian for health & nutrition advice. Interested in becoming a member at our clubs? Stop in for a tour of any of our 5 Elite Sports Clubs locations. We look forward to seeing you soon!

How many glasses (or ounces) of water do you drink each day? Do you drink it plain, or add in some healthy “flavors”? Tell us in the comments!

Four of the Best Foods You Should be Eating Regularly

By Rita Larsen, Elite Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

For a long time, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been speaking in very general terms to “eat a variety of foods.” Today, scientists are able to be more specific about their research in order to target those foods that will help you prevent certain kinds of illnesses and disease processes. These include heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers—and promote better overall health. You can look better and feel better, too, when you eat a healthy diet. So, consider putting some of these foods to use in your eating plan today, and every day!

Berries

Berries at Farmers Market

According to the American Cancer Society, foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. The antioxidants in berries may help maintain normal communication of the neurons in your brain. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and raspberries and blackberries are good sources too. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are also low in calories and high in fiber.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables in this family contain compounds called glucosinolates, which are being studied for possible anticancer effects. A new laboratory study shows that compounds in cruciferous vegetables can selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal, healthy cells unaffected. The family includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, turnips, radishes and watercress.

Nuts

Nut bowl

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help protect against heart disease and promote brain health. Some research suggests that nutrients such as vitamin E may be important in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Nuts also are high in protein and fiber (but also in fat, so be careful with portion size).

Whole Grains

Whole GrainsIn contrast to refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, whole grains are rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Eating whole instead of refined grains can help to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Eating whole grains can also reduce the risk of diabetes and improve digestive health. Refining wheat strips away significant amounts of vitamins B and E and virtually all of the fiber.

Courtesy of the American Cancer Society, and the Cotton—O’Neil Heart Center. Spring 2013, Heart Health News.

Sweet-and-Sour Savoy & Fennel Salad

Serves 4

Sweet Sour Savoy Fennel Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 ½ cups thinly sliced Savoy Cabbage (about 6 oz.) [or Napa Cabbage]
• 6 Tbs. Olive Oil
• ¾ lb. Fennel Bulb (sometimes called anise) stalks trimmed flush with bulb and bulb chopped fine (about ¾ cups)
• ¼ cup Water
• ¼ cup Cider Vinegar
• 1 cup Orange sections

Preparation:

1. Using a sharp knife cut cabbage and fennel in strips as you would for coleslaw.
2. Mix well.
3. Mix dressing ingredients together.
4. Pour over salad mixture.
5. Section orange and add.
6. Let set in refrigerator for 1 hour.
7. Serve chilled.

Looking for more recipes to add to you cookbook? Or just general guidance on how to incorporate the above foods into your daily menu? Get in touch with Rita, our Registered Dietitian at Elite Sports Clubs! Also, make sure you follow our other Nutrition blog posts for more great tips!

Berries, cruciferous veggies, nuts, and whole grains! Oh my! Do you eat foods from all of these categories on a regular basis? Tell us in the comments!

A Spoonful of Sugar: The Cereal Trap & Guidelines for Sugar Intake

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Dietitian & Nutritional Counselor Sugar Cereal Photo

Every night, millions of Americans hit the sack for a 7-8 hour opportunity to recharge the batteries. As we sleep, our bodies work hard to keep our hearts pumping blood, our lungs breathing, and our brains constantly functioning. This takes work on the part of the body, and in the morning, our body is looking for nutritious nourishment. Why then do so many of us replenish with sugary cereals?

A large percentage of popular cereals on our grocery store shelves contain massive amounts of simple sugars. Simple or added sugars (or simple carbohydrates) are digested quickly and are usually void of essential vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association was one of the first to issue formal guidelines on sugar intake.

Last year, the AHA recommended no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and no more than 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons a day for men. They backed their recommendations with a scientific statement in the journal Circulation which stated, “…excessive consumption of sugars has been linked with several metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions, as well as shortfalls of essential nutrients.” The AHA did not go after any one type of sugar/syrup or manufacturer of sugar; its focus was instead on sugar consumption as a whole. There has been strong scientific data linking excess sugar above these limits and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes (Malik VS, et al “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes” Diabetes Care 2010; 33(11): 2477-2483).

So how many grams of sugar should you aim for? As little as possible, but try to stay within the American Heart Association guidelines.

  • Women: no more than 100 calories per day which equals 6 teaspoons or 24 grams
  • Men: no more than 150 calories per day which equals 9 teaspoons or 36 grams

The majority of sugar-sweetened cereals contain at least 4 teaspoons of sugar per serving. More complex sugars occur naturally in fruits, vegetables and dairy products; these foods are nutritious staples of any good diet and are not a threat to your diet or health. The simple sugars you need to look out for are added simple sugars. In addition to the adverse health effects discussed earlier, added sugars actually cause us to eat more and thus, put us at risk for weight gain.

HOW SUGAR CONTRIBUTES TO HUNGER

Most of us, however, don’t notice the effect that sugar may have on our appetite. We just know we’re never quite satisfied after our sugary breakfast and are usually looking for more unhealthy foods not long after having breakfast. Why? Processing and preparation do play a factor, but overall, added sugar consumption causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin followed by a crash.

Man at Vending Machine PhotoThis leaves us feeling even hungrier than we were before, and more likely to continue eating until we can find something to make us full. It’s not far off to say that having a can of cola or a candy bar will not make you full, is it? If you’ve ever consumed something like this in place of lunch on a busy day, you can feel it, literally. Perhaps you have a doughnut every morning on the way to work yet still find you’re looking for the vending machines not long after you arrive.

Whatever your sugar vice, the effects are for the most part the same and it leaves you wanting for more. You give in to your hunger, you eat more calories than you can burn, and before you know it, you’re up a notch on your belt buckle.

1-can of sweetened soda is absorbed within the body in 20 minutes!

Remember, you make the choices best for you! Have a great week, and let us know if you need help kicking your morning cereal habit!

Just getting started at changing your dietary habits? Check out these other nutrition & diet articles.

What was your favorite sugary cereal as a kid? Have your tastes changed since then? Tell us in the comments!

Your Weight Loss Journey: How to Make a Change

By Rita Larsen, Elite Dietian & Nutrition Counselor

There are “Stages of Change” that each person must go through in order to actually do anything new. The Academy of Nutrition has the following listing of processes for every person’s development towards change in behavior:

  • Pre-contemplation: Stage before any thought is given to modify any behaviors.
  • Contemplation: Subject is aware they have a change they would like to make, but have not made the commitment.
  • Preparation: Decision-making has arrived; and the person will take action within about 30 days. They are already making small behavioral changes.
  • Action: Subjects make notable overt efforts to change; and have targeted behavior they want to be different.
  • Maintenance: Persons stabilize behavioral changes to avoid relapse.

All in all, everyone must go through these steps in order to arrive at a good outcome.

One other excellent source of input on this matter of change is the work at the University of Pennsylvania Foundation for Positive Psychology. Dr. Martin Seligman, is a world renowned expert on the “positive approach” and its necessity in the change process. The Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program has been used by the military, workforce development, and many other social institutions that benefited greatly by the use of this process.

So, with that said, I challenge you to approach everything as though it is a new and wonderful day of experience.

  • Go to the gym with renewed energy and excitement.
  • Plan to meet friends at the gym and use teamwork to obtain a positive outcome for all.
  • Each day eat the best nutritious foods that you can find. Learn that perhaps a full feeling at all times throughout the day is not needed, and that waiting for the next meal is a positive experience.
  • Make the scale your friend and, for sure, your scorecard to success!

Energy and persistence conquer all things. -Benjamin Franklin

For more detailed information on the topics discussed above and how they can help you, let us know more about your goals and what you would like to change.

Where are you in the stages of change? Do you use positive emotions & psychology to get through your change process?

Why the Word Diet is Often Seen in a Negative Way

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor Diet Vegetable Word

As early as the 1920’s, the American Academy of Nutrition began to speak about the changes you made in the foods that you ate, as your “diet.” That is; any change that you made to improve health or for the better was a good diet. Today, in a more popular way, we can often be seen discussing new and different diets and how they can help us achieve our personal goals, quickly. Some are healthy, some are not so healthy. It is possible that the only thing that makes the word diet seem negative, is how we treat a normally sound principle, like eating right. So, what are some of the things we do that will make diet a difficult process? After all, we are just trying to eat healthy and lose some weight, right? For example,

  • Many people feel they would like to fast for a day? That cleansing in this way with only liquids is a good plan. I have never worried about this too much because people do end up hungry. And, it may help to reduce body stores of calories, if you do not overeat the day after.
  • Some feel that waiting all day until they eat a meal will help them avoid kicking off some response to overwhelming hunger. As, “the longer I wait, the better it is.” You run a risk of becoming very hungry and overeating by the end of the day. After all, you did not eat ALL day.
  • Yet others feel that perhaps, they can avoid eating entire groups of foods; like carbohydrates or fats, to keep their unwanted pounds away. Science works fine on these concepts until we completely eliminate whole food groups. It does not work well and you may miss important nutrients.
  • Lastly, many feel that if they really bare down during the week, they can have a little extra on the weekend. Sorry to say, but it does not take much added food on the weekends to cause a plateau.

What is wrong here is the manipulation of the schedules, the timing, the food choices or lack thereof, that can make you feel tired and worn out as a result of doing any of these choices.

Your body wants to cooperate with anything you do! It “records” what you did yesterday, and tries to repeat it. But along the way, your metabolic rate is going to need to readjust downward to what you are doing, and what you thought you were trying to do, just became worse. Eat responsibly throughout the day, give your body fuel to work on, don’t store too much for another day, and feel proud that you have eaten what your body needs to go another mile!

Want more advice on dieting in it’s true form? Let us know, by filling out this form and telling us a little more about you and your goals!

What does the word “diet” mean to you? Tell us in the comments!