Beyond Numbers: Embracing Sustainable Weight Loss

Beyond Numbers: Embracing Sustainable Weight Loss

🌱 Beyond Numbers: Embracing Sustainable Weight Loss 🌱

In a world obsessed with quick fixes and rapid results, it’s time to shift the spotlight from numbers on a scale to a more profound goal – sustainable weight loss. Let’s unravel the truth about why chasing numbers often leads us astray and how embracing a holistic approach can bring lasting change.

🚫 The Numbers Game: Focusing solely on pounds lost or gained can be misleading. Our bodies fluctuate for various reasons, and fixating on numbers can create a rollercoaster of emotions.

💡 The Puzzle Pieces: Sustainable weight loss is more than just a mathematical equation. It involves nourishing our bodies with wholesome foods, staying active, managing stress, and prioritizing sleep.

🥗 Nurturing Nutrition: Crash diets and extreme restrictions can’t provide sustained health. Instead, opt for a well-balanced diet that supports your body’s needs and fuels your journey.

🏋️‍♀️ Movement Matters: Exercise isn’t just a tool for calorie burning. It boosts mood, supports metabolism, and builds a stronger body, making it an essential piece of the puzzle.

🧘‍♂️ Mindset Magic: Our relationship with food and our bodies plays a pivotal role. Cultivating a positive mindset and practicing self-compassion are vital for sustainable success.

🕐 The Long Game: True change takes time. Instead of chasing rapid results, aim for steady progress that supports your body’s natural rhythms and allows for lasting transformation.

👥 Support System: Surrounding yourself with a supportive community, whether friends, family, or professionals, can make the journey feel less lonely and more empowering.

🌟 Holistic Health: Embrace a wellness-focused approach that values not just the external changes, but the internal growth and vitality that comes with sustainable weight loss.

Remember, it’s not about a number on a scale; it’s about the vibrant health, confidence, and well-being you gain along the way. Shift your focus from chasing numbers to nurturing a sustainable and empowering journey. 💪

 

Next Steps!

If you’re ready to embark on a personalized weight loss journey that considers all of these factors, join our physician-designed Seriously Simple Steps program today and start your weight loss journey with our sustainable and easy-to-implement program!

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Its About The Portion Size

Its About The Portion Size

Think about this: bears eat fish and vegetation and look how big they get! It’s definitely about what you eat, buts it’s also about how much. If you eat enough of anything, you can gain weight.

I’ve told you a lot about how to make healthier eating choices and how to plan ahead to make these choices, but you really need to know how much of these healthier choices you should be eating, i.e., you need to know about serving sizes and measuring a specific portion size. The truth is that if you eat too much of anything, it’s not good for you. And these days, our plates seem to be getting bigger and bigger both at home and at restaurants too.

Use a seriously simple method to determine portion size

Measuring a serving size can be quite simple, even using the parts of your hand! Using this method to determine your unique portion size makes sense because smaller people have smaller hands, and bigger people have bigger hands.

A fist or cupped hand is equal to 1 cup. And one serving of raw or leafy green vegetables equals 1 cup. One serving of cereal, cooked pasta, or rice equals ½ cup. The same goes for a serving size of cooked or raw chopped vegetables or fruit.

Your palm is equal to 3 oz. of meat. One serving of lean meat (poultry, fish, shellfish, beef) equals 3 oz. (your palm!) And you should be eating two serving sizes of raw meat (or two palms) as part of your daily diet. 

A thumb is equal to 1 oz. of cheese. You should eat 2-3 servings of dairy per day, and 1 ½ – 2 oz. of low-fat cheese counts as one of these servings.

Your thumb tip is equal to 1 teaspoon. This measurement is good for high-fat foods you should keep at a minimum, such as peanut butter or mayonnaise. It is also good to know that a tablespoon equals three teaspoons (or three thumb tips!)

A handful is equal to 1-2 oz. of snack food. 1 handful is equal to 1 oz. of nuts and small candies. For chips and pretzels, two handfuls are equal to 1 oz.

And finally, one tennis ball is equal to 1 serving of fruit. You should be eating 2-4 daily servings of fruit.

Think about your next meal and snack

So before you grab a few handfuls or your favorite snack, spread on too much mayonnaise on your sandwich, or eat a large bowl of pasta take a good look at your hand, and think about how much you really should be eating.

Do you have any good ways to remember how much to eat in a portion size? I’d love to know! Please share your thoughts at our Facebook page.

In the meantime, save this image to your phone or print it out as a reminder of how you can measure serving sizes for your meals, and help to control your weight by practicing portion size control.

Use this guide

Portion size using hand

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Ultimate Guide to Time-Restricted Eating and Benefits

Wall Clock

Ultimate Guide to Time-Restricted Eating and Benefits

So many fad diets focus solely on what we eat and not the why, when, or how

However, a new study from the journal Cell Metabolism found that the later people ate during the day, the more hungry they were throughout the day. 

Part of losing weight is limiting our desire to snack and overeat, contributing greatly to weight gain. That’s why most mainstream diet plans forgo simple carbs for high-protein meals or complex carbohydrates that help us fight snack cravings. 

The science is simple; to lose weight, you need to consume less than your basal metabolic rate (or how many calories your metabolism burns). 

One way to accomplish this is to eat less. But that may be difficult to do when you eat your meals socially or if your meals don’t make you feel full. 

One ancient hack humans had learned long ago is the practice of fasting, which can cleanse the body of toxins and also turn it into a fat-burning machine. Time-restricted eating offers a modernized approach that has shown universally positive results.

As you’ll find out, by controlling when we eat, we can program our bodies to work for us instead of against us. 

What is Time-Restricted Eating?

Time-restricted eating is a dietary approach that limits the number of hours individuals can consume calories to a small 6-12 hour window. 

While I mentioned fasting before, time-restricted eating does not involve calorie restrictions like intermittent fasting. As a result, time-restricted eating allows people to eat as much as they want within their eating window but gives the body time to digest and burn excess fat before their next eating window. 

The body relies on excess glucose stored from carbohydrates for up to eight hours before tapping into fat reserves. So by giving the body time to burn off excess glucose and sugars, it allows the body to burn fat for fuel. 

Strangely enough, the biggest benefit of time-restricted eating might be for your sleep. Research shows that time-restricted eating can improve our circadian rhythm and help us sleep better.

So why is this important? According to one study, people who slept less during a 14-day period had a 55% decline in fat loss. 

Not only do we burn calories during sleep, but our sleep impacts our hormones and hunger level. In sum, not eating 3-4 hours before bed on a time-restricted eating schedule will help our sleep and help our bodies burn more calories. 

Summary

Time-restricted eating is a dietary approach that allows people to consume as many calories as they want within a 6-12 hour window. This helps people tap into fat stores and sleep better, which allows them to lose weight more easily. 

 

Does Time-Restricted Eating Work?

Research shows that time-restricted eating is beneficial, though not more beneficial than a low-calorie diet. A recent New York Times article found that time-restricted eating had no additional benefits when paired with a calorie-restriction diet–though patients still lost weight. 

However, additional research from the JAMA Network found that moving time-restricted windows to earlier in the day (7 am to 3 pm) did improve weight loss results, blood pressure, and other biomarkers. 

Furthermore, studies in mice have found that timing when you eat calories can impact gene expressions and your circadian rhythm, influencing a range of factors, including your sleep, blood pressure, and heart health. 

While time-restricted eating may not be better than a low-calorie diet short-term, we do know that calorie deprivation lowers our metabolism, which causes many people to regain the weight they lose. 

Time-restricted windows without calorie deprivation don’t impact our metabolisms as long as we consume at least 200-300 below our basal metabolic rate

In sum, time-restricted eating’s benefits may help other processes that influence weight loss, most notably sleep. Further, research points out that the earlier you close your time-restricted window, the better it is for your health. 

 

Summary

Time-restricted eating is effective for weight loss–especially the earlier in the day you eat–and may be more effective long-term than low-calorie diets. 

 

Benefits of Time-Restricted Eating

  • Eat Less: While time-restricted eating does not involve calorie restriction, limiting when you eat will prevent you from overeating and snacking outside of your eating windows.  
  • Improved Sleep: Eating before bed impairs your sleep, so people recommend not eating 3-4 hours before bed. 
  • Improved Heart Health: Some studies suggest that time-restricted eating could help lower bad cholesterol, improving your heart health. 
  • Lower Blood Pressure and Sugar: Researchers have shown that time-restricted eating can help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 
  • Improved Quality of Life: Time-restricted eating allows people to eat normal meals without significant calorie restrictions and still enjoy weight loss benefits. 

Is Time-Restricted Eating Good for You?

 

Yes, time-restricted eating is good for you if practiced responsibly. Unlike fasting, there is very little risk to your body of fainting or consuming too few calories. 

However, eating your normal or recommended amount of calories within a window without overdoing it is essential. 

Overall, time-restricted eating has proven helpful for weight loss and provides several other benefits. 

Summary:

There are very few health risks to time-restricted eating, and it has several proven benefits. 

 

What is the Best Time-Restricted Eating Schedule?

As a general rule, the earlier in the day you eat and the smaller your schedule, the more benefits you will reap. 

As previously stated, researchers from the JAMA Network found that eating between 7 am and 3 pm produced the highest benefits for individuals, including weight loss and improved mood. 

Eating earlier allows you to consume most of your calories early, so you have more time to burn them during the day. 

Plus, early schedules allow you to fuel up before and after the gym if you exercise, further compounding your weight loss benefits. 

Summary

 

Research suggests eating between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. is the best schedule. Generally, the earlier and smaller the schedule, the more you benefit. 

How to Start Time-Restricted Eating

Starting a time-restricted schedule may require you to shuffle around a few things in your life to accommodate your new eating schedule. So here’s how to get started. 

Pick a Schedule

First, pick an eating window of 10-12 hours to get started to ease you into the process. Since most nutritionists recommend eating early, consider starting your schedule at your normal wake-up time and adding up the hours. So if you wake up at 8 am, end your schedule for a 10-hour window at 6 p.m. with no food after that time. 

I recommend ending your eating window 3-4 hours before bed so that you can improve your sleep and burn calories while you sleep. 

Don’t Skip Breakfast Entirely

It’s very tempting for people who practice intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating to forgo breakfast and eat later in the day.

Well, not only does a later schedule impact your sleep, but studies show that a big breakfast will actually curb your hunger throughout the day. 

It turns out breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  

Time Workouts Around Eating Windows

Eating before and after a workout allows you to fuel up for the gym, so you stay more motivated and build muscle, which tears through calories. 

In addition, you’ll be able to put those calories to work immediately after you start eating. 

Again, morning exercise offers the best benefits, so if you have to adjust your schedule to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier, I highly recommend it. 

Skip the Snacks

While time-restricted eating doesn’t restrict your calories, I highly recommend you lay off of the snacks during your window. The more you snack and the later you do, the hungrier you will be later in the day, making it harder to stick to your eating windows. 

Watch What You Eat

Time-restricted eating is not an excuse to eat whatever you want, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Replacing simple sugars with complex carbs and fiber that help us feel fuller for longer will help us reduce snacking and avoid overeating during our eating windows. 

Besides, you want to get as many nutrients as possible during your eating window to feel satiated and energized during the day. 

Stick to Your Schedule

Finally, you need to stick to your eating schedule if you want to see positive results. While results will not be instantaneous, they will arrive slowly. 

One or two cheat days are not the end of the world, but the more you break your fasting window, the harder it will be to maintain consistency. 

In sum, time-restricted eating has been demonstrated to be an effective tool for weight loss.  

Be sure to develop an eating schedule that works for you, though you may derive more benefits from an earlier eating schedule. Whatever you decide, be sure to stick with your schedule and go back to it, even if you have a few cheat days here or there.

Time-Restricted Eating FAQs

Can you drink coffee while time-restricted eating?

Yes, drinking black coffee does not break your fast. With that said, it’s important to drink your coffee black, though adding some healthy fats won’t be the end of the world. Just avoid sugar and creamer. 

Does time-restricted eating slow your metabolism?

Generally, time-restricted eating should not slow your metabolism if you do not limit your calories too significantly. As a rule, I recommend my patients not deprive themselves of over 200-300 calories below their basal metabolic rate

What is the difference between time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting?

Time-restricted eating places greater emphasis on eating within a specific time window, allowing you to eat whatever you want within that window. On the other hand, intermittent fasting may involve calorie restriction and prolonged fasting from time to time.

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Skip the Fad Diets. This is the Hottest New Health Craze

Skip the Fad Diets. This is the Hottest New Health Craze

The cat is out of the bag. The genie is out of the bottle. I noticed it a few years ago while traveling on the West Coast and then in Colorado. I see it happening all around us, and I am really impressed with this new “craze.”

It’s the new fad in diets, the next big thing, the new magic trick to losing weight, building more energy, and feeling great while becoming healthier is (drum roll please….) eating healthy foods! 

Eating natural and freshly grown foods, as our ancestors did, is at long last becoming popular once again. Likewise, consuming processed foods and processed carbs seems to be on the way out. 

Weight loss is nearly inevitable when we shift away from processed foods and starts almost immediately for those transforming their diet. I have noticed this trend with many of my patients and friends, as well as with myself. 

For example, I’ve been making healthy smoothies for breakfast and snacks for several years. I’ve also been juicing vegetables and fruits for one full day every week. I see many others following suit. 

Practically every single day, I meet another happy convert in my practice or in public. And why are they so happy? They see and feel results within days of improving their diet! 

So the questions become, are fad diets actually effective, and what is the best way to lose weight? Make sure you read to the bottom to find 5 Healthy Eating Habits that Lead to Weight Loss.

The Problem with Fad Diets

Many nutritionists and doctors always warn against fad diets. However, many of us are inundated by influencers across the web who share results from their journey with keto and actually lose weight. 

So what is the disconnect? 

While fad diets may offer short-term weight loss results, they often don’t offer sustainable results. In my practice, I’ve noticed people who shed lots of weight put the weight back on and then some. 

According to a study of contestants from one season of the Biggest Loser, almost all of the 14 contestants who lost weight put it back on, plus more weight on top of it. However, there are many reasons for this trend. 

Sustainability

First and foremost, most diets, including Keto, Paleo, Atkins, or South Beach, can be highly difficult to maintain over a lifetime. For example, it’s difficult for people to avoid carbs for the rest of their life, which is why a majority of people who go on Keto fail. 

Other restrictive diets suffer from this same dilemma. However, more dangerous to the individual than the restriction of certain tasty foods is the number of nutritional deficiencies that can occur from fad diets. 

Nutritional Concerns

Dieting requires balance, which is typically not promoted by fad diets. For example, many fad diets place people into significant calorie deficits, which can eat away at muscles and make people feel sluggish and tired. 

Other diets may promote too much of one thing, such as protein and fats, at the behest of carbs, leading to an unbalanced diet. 

Overall, individuals who experience dehydration, excessive hunger, or fatigue should quit a fad diet immediately before harming their body or liver. 

Miscalculating Metabolism

Unfortunately, our bodies have evolved over time to ensure we always have the proper fuel for essential bodily processes. While suitable for survival, this makes weight loss difficult.

Studies show that extensive caloric deficits decrease your body’s basal metabolic rate, meaning even though you consume fewer calories, your body is burning less for survival. In turn, eating what would have been a normal portion of food two months ago will now lead to weight gain. 

Another reason fad diets can fail is that they target the wrong things, such as water weight, which only delivers short-term results. 

What We Eat Matters as Much as How Much We Eat

When it comes to dieting and weight loss, willpower becomes very important. While eating fewer calories than your basal metabolic rate (if done appropriately) will help you lose weight, this is highly difficult if your diet is filled with processed foods. 

Unfortunately, many processed foods strip the fiber and water content out of foods, meaning that they are digested faster and leave people unsatisfied. Eating more fibrous foods, such as fruits and vegetables, will help you stay fuller for longer and allow you to eat fewer calories to feel full. 

Additionally, other complex carbohydrates also are released into the bloodstream more slowly, allowing people to feel longer. If overeating or lack of self-control is an issue, eating high-fiber foods is a great solution.

I’ve witnessed this principle in action in my personal practice. For example, I just ran into a colleague who lost 30 pounds over the past six months. He looked great, and I asked what he had been doing and how he had found success. 

He explained that he had read just a few of my blogs about eating healthy and followed my lead on eating more naturally and “crowding out”  processed foods slowly over time. He has been filling up on smoothies for breakfast and big salads for lunch and dinner. He supplements his diet all day with fruits. He says he is never hungry and now has more energy than ever!

Overall, what you eat greatly influences how much you are likely to eat. 

Why Healthy Eating Is Becoming so Popular

If the rise of diet fads indicates anything, it’s that people are searching for healthier solutions to the processed foods we eat every day. 

Everywhere I go, I notice people who avoid sandwiches and processed carbs by ordering healthy salads and entrees without bread, pasta, rice, and starches. 

While traveling to the West Coast several years ago, I noticed that most restaurants, convenience stores, and food outlets offer healthy smoothies, vegetarian options, and natural foods. These healthy offerings were ubiquitous on every menu, sign, and advertisement. 

This obviously makes it easier for people to choose healthy options and the people in that area seemed healthier, thinner, and more vibrant. 

In some ways, the move to greener and healthier options represents two significant shortcomings of fad diets. First, they simply are not as effective as eating healthy foods and adopting healthy eating habits. 

Secondly, many diet fads are not convenient, especially for people on the go. For example, someone on the keto diet has very few options for eating at a takeout restaurant aside from taking the bun off of their burger. Even getting fruits or a salad with dressing can cause them to abandon ketosis. 

Instead, adopting healthy habits like eating healthy foods with better nutritional content and eating food more slowly can lead to better results. 

5 Healthy Eating Habits that Lead to Weight Loss

This leads me to another important point: how you eat your food is just as important as what you eat. 

This may be a surprise to modern Americans conditioned on indulgence instead of austerity. 

However, managing weight loss and eating healthy comes with adopting the right habits. Here are five important healthy eating habits that everyone should adopt to be more healthy. 

  • Limit sugar intake

One reason to read labels is to avoid sugar, which is a fast-acting carbohydrate that can spike insulin levels, damage the gut, and make us crave more food. Replacing sugar with complex carbs will not only curb cravings but also give you more essential nutrients. 

  • Supplement meals with high-fiber foods

If you’re looking for a quick snack or meal to curb cravings, opt for a high-fiber vegetable or fruit. Fiber is great for digestion and is more slowly absorbed by the bloodstream, helping us feel fuller for longer. 

  • Hydrate before meals

Another way to cheat your body and feel fuller with fewer calories is to consume more water before meals. Water fills our stomachs, slows digestion in our stomach, and helps us feel fuller while giving us much-needed hydration

  • Consume meals slowly

According to research, it takes up to 20 minutes for our bodies to signal to our brains that we are full. Unfortunately, by eating as quickly as possible, we bypass this mechanism and consume more than our bodies are willing to handle. Overeating doesn’t just put your diet at risk but could lead to digestive issues, such as reflux and gallbladder issues. 

  • Eat More High-Protein Foods

Supplementing heavy-calorie meals with high-protein meals is a great way to feel satiated faster and also stimulate ATP production in cells that help burn more calories. Thanks to the latter, adding more protein to meals can help you burn more calories at rest.

However, I highly suggest eating plant-based proteins that are not high in saturated fats and give you all of your necessary vitamins and minerals. 

You have already arrived at my program website for Seriously Simple Steps, which covers the topic of eating healthy foods throughout the program, and provides more detailed lists of the types of foods you can consume to help you reach your weight and fitness goals. Check out the program today

You Can’t Shortcut Weight Loss

As I’ve witnessed in my practice, fad diets are highly unsustainable and sometimes dangerous. Now, this doesn’t mean some diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, are bad diets, but that eating a balanced diet and adopting healthy eating habits are just as important for weight loss. 

Most importantly, there is no magic pill or smoothie to promote total weight loss. Physical health, like mental health, requires adopting a disciplined and balanced approach that may take months, if not years, to achieve that payout we all desire. 

However, we should be thankful that by adopting these healthy habits, we can hold onto them for life and use them in other areas in our life that would not be possible if dieting was as easy as taking a pill or eating the same protein shake day in and day out. 

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The Ultimate Complex Carbs List for Healthy Eating

Complex Carbohydrates

The Ultimate Complex Carbs List for Healthy Eating

Thanks to fad diets like Keto and Atkins, carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years. 

 

However, carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient of any diet, as the average nutritionist recommends at least half of your diet should include carbohydrates.

 

Not only do carbs produce glucose required for energy and exercise, but they also aid digestion, manage cholesterol, and influence how full you feel after every meal. 

 

Nevertheless, there are healthy and unhealthy carbs, which you need to be aware of if you are on a diet program or trying to lose weight.

 

This article will explore the benefits of complex carbohydrates (i.e., good carbs) and provide a complete list of good carbs and ways to incorporate them into your diet. 

What Are Complex Carbohydrates? Understanding Carbs

Carbohydrates are composed of sugar molecules found naturally in food and broken down into glucose in our cells to power our bodies. 

 

There are two types of carbohydrates we tend to differentiate, simple and complex carbs. 

 

Simple carbohydrates consist of a single or dual sugar molecule that requires minimal effort by the body to process. Essentially, they start breaking down the moment you put them in your mouth.

 

The most common simple carbohydrates include table sugar, fructose, and other highly processed ingredients. 

 

The problem with processed foods is that they often strip the fiber and starch off the products during processing, leaving consumers with fewer nutrients. 

 

Additionally, consuming simple carbohydrates, which are often designed to taste good, can lead to overeating. They can also spike insulin levels because they are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly and give you those classic “sugar highs” and crashes. 

 

Complex carbohydrates are composed of several sugar molecules–also known as polysaccharide molecules–which require significantly more effort by the body to break down and the intestines to absorb. 

 

Vegetables, fruits, and nuts are all forms of complex carbohydrates that contain lots of nutrients and are good for the gut. 

 

The primary difference between simple and complex carbs is that simple carbs contain very few nutrients (e.g., vitamins and minerals), and complex carbs contain lots of nutrients. And, since complex carbs are more difficult to break down, they also help us feel fuller longer. 

 

There are two types of complex carbohydrates:

 

  • Fiber: A polysaccharide molecule that cannot be digested in the stomach but is broken down in the gut. 
  • Starch: A polysaccharide molecule that normal enzymes can digest. 

 

We will talk more in-depth about starchy and fibrous carbs, but both provide immense nutritional benefits and are a healthy addition to any diet. 

The Benefits of Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates offer tremendous nutritional value and are great for curbing cravings. 

Some widespread benefits of complex carbs for weight loss and health include:

  • Higher nutritional value than simple carbs 
  • Greater feeling of fullness after meals
  • Regulating bowel movements
  • Managing cholesterol
  • Improving gut microbiota
  • Reducing glucose and blood sugar spikes
  • Sustainable energy
  • Adding complex carbs to any diet will ensure you get proper nutrients and maintain a healthy gut biome. 

Additionally, complex carbs can be a good source of satiety if you’re trying to lose weight without piling on the calories. 

Best of all, many foods rich in complex carbohydrates are tasty and versatile, making them your ultimate pal in the kitchen

The Importance of Fiber

Before we get into the list of complex carbs, I want to focus a little more on the benefits of fiber. 

 

Incorporating fiber into a diet for weight loss or any reason is especially important because it helps us feel fuller for longer and provides significant nutritional value. 

 

There are generally two forms of fiber, which we differentiate:

 

  • Insoluble Fiber: Fiber that doesn’t dissolve in water and helps regulate bowel movements (ex., Kale, seeds, almonds.) 
  • Soluble Fiber:  Fiber that does dissolve in water and helps regulate cholesterol and insulin levels (ex., Apples, beans, berries). 

 

Both forms of fiber are fundamental and can address different needs in your diet. However, soluble fiber may be more important for addressing specific health concerns, while insoluble fiber can be a healthy snack alternative to curb cravings for longer. 

 

I’d also like to mention resistant starches, which contain soluble and insoluble fiber properties. 

 

Resistant starches are not digested by the small intestine and ferment in the large intestine, feeding the good bacteria in your gut. In addition, most resistant starches provide synbiotics and prebiotics, which, if you take probiotics, can help improve your gut microbiota.  

 

With that said, I wanted to provide a complex carbohydrate list of the best sources for these macronutrients to help you find ways to incorporate more good carbs into your diet.

List of Complex Carbs and Popular Sources

Starches

Starches are a very important complex carbohydrate, which can be a good source of iron, fiber, B vitamins, and other minerals.

Starches also help us achieve satiety and provide sustainable energy throughout the day. 

In cooking, starch can be used as a healthy thickening ingredient, most often associated with cornstarch. 

Wheat-based products, potatoes, oats, and cereals are great sources of starches that can serve as a hearty breakfast or an endearing side for any meal. 

Since nearly all complex carbohydrates contain fiber of some kind, I wanted to outline a list of foods that contain starches, which you should experiment with in your diet.

  • Oats
  • Durum wheat
  • Buckwheat 
  • Einkorn
  • Cereals
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bread
  • Bulgur
  • Emmer
  • Kamut
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Spelt
  • Rye

Recipe Ideas and Additions

  • Opt for whole grain cereals and oatmeal instead of sugary cereals for breakfast.
  • Make sweet potato fries as a side to any meal. 
  • Use brown rice as a side or base for grain bowls or other healthy meal options.
  • Experiment with homemade pasta to consume less processed ingredients. 

Whole Grains

You’re probably inundated with products that list whole grains on a daily basis, but what are whole grains? 

Whole grains are derived from cereals, grass-like plants, such as wheat and oats, and some non-grass plants, such as quinoa.

A whole grain is anything that contains all of the grain plants and is not refined or stripped of any of its three parts (bran, germ, and endosperm). 

Whole grains can help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.  Some of the most popular sources of whole grains include:

  • Millet
  • Bulgur
  • Farro
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Kamut
  • Sorghum

Recipe Ideas and Additions

  • Opt for whole wheat or whole grain bread for sandwiches. 
  • Replace traditional pasta with whole wheat pasta that’s much more fibrous. 
  • Substitute white rice for brown rice. 
  • Add brown rice, quinoa, farro, or millet as a side or the main dish for your next meal. 
  • Look for whole grain cereals at the store (Be sure to read the label for added ingredients!)
  • Substitute all-purpose flour with buckwheat or millet (account for added leavening times).

Vegetables

Next up are vegetables, which should be a staple of any diet. 

In terms of consuming healthier vegetables, I highly recommend growing your own–gardening is a great hobby to get into. Additionally, I recommend sourcing locally grown vegetables at farmer’s markets that are more nutritious.

Vitamins, like Vitamin C, are photosensitive and will deteriorate with age and light exposure. As with many nutrients, the fresher you harvest your fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it will pack. 

In terms of eating raw and cooked vegetables, I recommend incorporating both. Raw vegetables contain higher fiber content, although they may be harder to digest for people with gut issues. Furthermore, cooked vegetables may allow for more bioavailable nutrients, which are easier to digest and absorb. 

Fortunately, almost every vegetable on this list can be served hot or cold, as a side, or herb. 

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Squash/zucchini 
  • Alliums (onion, garlic, leeks)
  • Asparagus
  • Swiss chard
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Parsnip
  • Beats

Recipe Ideas and Additions

  • Roast vegetables with oil and sea salt for a healthy snack.
  • Use natural herbs from a garden or store instead of dried herbs. 
  • Add steamed vegetables as a side with any dish.
  • Make a salad with any leftover vegetables in your garden or refrigerator.
  • Make soups and chili using vegetables.
  • Experiment with veggie-based noodles in place of pasta.
  • Add vegetables, like spinach, peppers, or asparagus, to omelets and quiche.
  • Shave vegetables like asparagus for easy digestion and use the shavings as a salad garnish.  
  • Top sandwiches and wraps with cooked vegetables like broccoli rabe. 
  • Combine vegetables like carrots and celery with sauces for a snack.
  • Juice vegetables like carrots, ginger, or celery for a healthy tonic. 
  • Create a casserole using several different vegetables.  

Fruits

It hardly seems necessary to talk about the benefits of fruits, but fruits contain several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C. 

Furthermore, fruit is highly fibrous and can serve as a good snack to help curb cravings if you feel hungry.

Some fruits you can find at any American supermarket and incorporate into your diet include:

  • Berries (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, etc.)
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Lemons
  • Limes 
  • Pears
  • Dragonfruit
  • Pineapple
  • Coconut
  • Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe)
  • Citrus (clementine, oranges)
  • Avocado
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Jackfruit
  • Grapes
  • Guava
  • Kiwi
  • Kumquat
  • Jujube
  • Nectarine

Recipe Ideas and Additions

  • Substitute salty snacks like pretzels with an apple or a handful of berries.
  • Combine berries with honey and lime juice for a sweet snack. 
  • Add almond butter to apples for a fun kid’s snack. 
  • Incorporate dried fruits like raisins and banana chips for greater fiber. 
  • Add fresh fruits to salads and make your own raspberry or blueberry walnut dressing. 
  • Create smoothies with fresh fruits, milk, or alternative milk. 
  • Add fruits to yogurts for a parfait.
  • Create a fruit salad for a dinner appetizer. 

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are all-natural foods that are low in fat and contain several important nutrients, such as folate, iron, B vitamins, and zinc.  

In particular, beans are a great source of fiber and protein–especially if you are on a vegetarian diet. 

With that said, you can buy several different bean varieties and legumes at affordable prices in the supermarket. 

  • Black beans
  • Fava beans
  • White beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Green split peas
  • Chickpeas 
  • Lentils
  • Lupins
  • Vetches

Recipe Ideas and Additions

  • Create vegetarian soups and chilis using beans and legumes.
  • Mash up dried beans, like garbanzo beans, into a falafel. 
  • Add cooked beans to sandwiches, wraps, and salads. 
  • Puree beans for a delicious dip.
  • Form a bean patty for a vegetarian meal. 

Nuts and Seeds

Finally, nuts and seeds are considered the ultimate protein replacement for any vegetarian diet and pack a healthy punch of fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, and healthy fats. 

Depending on the nut or seed, you may even find different benefits. For example, some nuts, like walnuts, are a great source of omega-three fatty acids, commonly found in fish. Other seeds, like pumpkin seeds, contain high levels of zinc and are considered a fertility food. 

Check out the list of nuts and seeds below and experiment with adding them to different meals. 

  • Chia seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pine nuts

Recipe Ideas and Additions

  • Add chia seeds to smoothies for more fiber.
  • Garnish finished meals with nuts, like fresh pine nuts. 
  • Add nuts like pecans and hazelnuts to salads and dressings.
  • Add nuts and seeds to wraps and sandwiches.
  • Bake bread with plenty of seeds for added fiber. 
  • Roast pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack. 
  • Snack on nuts, like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews, etc., as a healthy solo snack.

Not All Carbs Are Bad

It’s clear that carbohydrates have become the unfortunate scapegoat and boogeyman of a society addicted to processed foods and fast sugars. While simple sugars can be dangerous in excess, complex carbohydrates provide many essential vitamins and minerals that no diet should ignore. 

From complex B vitamins to magnesium and zinc, complex carbohydrates can be an excellent source of nutrition and incredibly healthy for your heart, kidneys, gut, and blood sugar. 

Experiment with ways to incorporate more complex carbohydrates into your diet, whether it’s just topping your food off with healthy nuts or opting for a tasty melon instead of a cookie. 

Over time, you’ll find that the benefits of these complex carbs and how you feel when you put them into your body will dwarf any cravings for sugary snacks and simple carbs that you’ll one day be able to refuse proudly.

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Where Does Motivation Come From? How To Find That Spark!

Where Does Motivation Come From? How To Find That Spark!

Why does a person try to lose weight 50 times and finally find success on the 51st time? Why does a woman attempt to quit smoking ten times in her lifetime, and on the 11th try, she does it? And why do people tell themselves that they will start an exercise program 100 times over and finally start one on their 50th birthday? The answer is that something just clicks!

We may not know where the motivation to begin our weight loss program begins, but finding it is an essential first step on that weight loss journey.

How Does Motivation Manifest?

I can’t tell you what sets this click in, but I have thought about it countless times. It truly fascinates me, and I wish I could bottle up the click. 

This click is likely the result of a motivational chemical event that becomes permanent in a region of the cerebral cortex, the higher-functioning area of the brain. 

We can all try to motivate a friend or loved one to make healthy changes. For example, you can tell your spouse they need to lose weight or exercise to avoid a heart attack or diabetes. But they need it to click with them.

As a doctor, I can be very firm in telling patients they must lose weight, eat better, increase their exercise, stop tobacco, or cut down on alcohol. But the truth is we all must make our own decisions and find that inner motivation to become successful. 

Most people in the world want to make healthy choices but are very often only able to find the motivation once that click sets in. No one can convince them otherwise until a person decides to take action. 

I am not saying that we should not let our friends and loved ones know that we want them to make healthy decisions and take care of themselves, but it likely is a waste of time and counterproductive to nag them persistently. Eventually, they will stop listening, tune us out, and continue their bad habits out of spite.

How to Foster Motivation

I believe that we need to educate each other and offer support. 

For example, when I see a patient who is a smoker, I often give them several reasons to stop smoking, such as the risk of cancer and emphysema, during multiple office visits.  After two or three attempts, I often say to them, “I hope you decide to quit smoking soon. I won’t continue to lecture you on why, but when you are ready and make that decision, please come back and see me, as I can help you succeed in several ways.” And they often do just that!

I have seen several patients try to diet and lose weight dozens of times with very little success, then finally, they find success with long-term results. 

The truth is, there is no perfect diet or weight loss system. However, there are hundreds of very good weight loss programs out there that will work for many different people on any given day. Any individual just needs to find one that they feel comfortable with and have a connection to. 

Until we make the click, we need to keep trying. Do not give up! Chances are if you keep trying, you will eventually be rewarded with positive results.

Motivation Can Strike When You Least Expect It

The old saying that you must be in it to win it rings true here. For example, I have tried for several years to expand my diet off my limited intake of chicken and tuna fish to become healthier and lose a few pounds. 

Several years ago, I followed a vegetarian diet for nearly two years. I even read a few great books, and had a consultation with a dietician. Though I did not remain a vegetarian, I learned to eat differently and continued to eat primarily plant-based foods. 

Before this experience, I made countless short-term attempts to change my eating habits though it was this experience, combined with working with others on their weight loss and wellness journeys, that created my “click.”

Your motivation and success may come from reading a blog, speaking with your physician, joining a gym, or perhaps reading a book. Most likely, it will be a combination of all these things. 

The important message here is to keep plugging away. Keep trying and keep your mind open to new ideas and challenges.  The click will come as a culmination of many of these experiences, and your brain will finally decide to get on board for the ride.

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How Do I Calculate My BMR? Understanding Basal Metabolic Rate

How Do I Calculate My BMR? Understanding Basal Metabolic Rate

Losing weight is challenging for many people because they can be misinformed about how weight loss truly works. 

In its simplest form, losing weight comes down to a mathematical equation of subtracting calories consumed from calories burnt. 

The biggest factor influencing our ability to burn calories and lose weight is our metabolism. 

In many ways, your metabolism is a like a computer; program the computer to work for you and not against you, and you’ll lose weight naturally. 

That’s why the key to understanding calories and weight loss comes down to calculating our basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which we burn calories at rest.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about your basal metabolic rate, how to calculate it using a BMR calculator, and some factors that influence your BMR.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?

At its most fundamental principle, if you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Therefore, calculating how many calories you burn at rest with or without exercise can establish a benchmark for how many calories you need to eat each day under your BMR. 

Once your body exhausts all of its fuel through food and water, it will break down fat stores in the body to convert them to energy. However, consuming too few calories can actually be counterproductive, as we’ll explain. 

Dr. Matthew Kulka recommends consuming between 200-300 calories less than your BMR daily to hit that sweet spot for weight loss and not risk lowering your metabolism too low.

How Does BMR Factor into Weight Loss?

The human body transforms food and water into energy through the process of metabolism. While some people think of metabolism as a muscle in your stomach, it’s a core body function carried out by each cell in the body.  

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) calculates the number of calories your body needs to run while at rest. 

In scientific terms, your basal metabolic rate measures the number of calories your body burns at rest when the digestive system is inactive in a neutral climate. 

Our bodies need energy to run basic core functions, such as pumping blood, breathing, and all of the other unconscious processes we perform. As a result, it’s estimated that 60-70% of the calories you burn daily come from basic bodily functions.

For example, your body will burn more calories from regulating ion levels in the blood than it will from flexing a muscle. 

Since most of your calories are burned through metabolism at rest, calculating your BMR significantly impacts how efficiently your body can lose weight.

 

How to Calculate Basal Metabolic Rate

To calculate your BMR, we use a specific formula that gives us the best estimate for your BMR. Unlike measuring your blood pressure, there is no instrument other than a calculator you can use to calculate your BMR. 

Most calculators use the Mifflin St. Jeor formula or the Harris-Benedict equation (Seriously Simple Steps allows for both) to calculate a person’s BMR accurately.

Generally, we divide the BMR formula by sex, so men and women will have different equations to properly calculate their BMR.

Male Equation: Mifflin St. Jeor

(4.536 × weight in pounds) + (15.88 × height in inches) − (5 × age) + 5 = BMR

Example: 6’ male, age 38, weighs 245 lbs.

(4.536 x 245) + (15.88 x 72) – (5 x 38) + 5 = 2,069 calories per day

Female Equation: Mifflin St. Jeor

(4.536 × weight in pounds) + (15.88 × height in inches) − (5 × age) − 161 = BMR

Example: 5’ 5” female, age 52, 175 lbs.

(4.536 x 175) + (15.88 x 65) – (5 x 52) = 1,405 calories per day

The Mifflin St. Joer formula is considered the most accurate to date. However, you are welcome to use the Katch-McArdle Formula if you know your body fat percentage. 

However, your BMR may not factor in calories burnt through exercise or your daily routine, which is why we often use total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) in tandem with BMR. 

TDEE, RMR, and BMR: What’s the Difference?

Before we touch on TDEE, we need to discuss resting metabolic rate (RMR), otherwise known as resting energy expenditure (REE). This measurement is virtually the same as BMR and tells you how many calories your body consumes at rest.

The only difference between RMR and BMR is that RMR accounts for food digestion, increasing energy expenditure by up to 10%. For the purposes of weight loss, calculating your RMR will not be necessary. 

On the other hand, if you want to factor in how many calories you burn through exercise and physical activity, you’ll need to calculate your TDEE. 

Fortunately, your TDEE uses the same formula as your BMR, except with a multiplier to account for exercise levels. 

In short, you will take your BMR and multiply it by the following values based on your estimated level of exercise:

  • Low exercise or only one day per week = BMR x 1.2
  • Semi-moderate exercise of 1-3 days per week = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderate exercise between 3-5 days per week = BMR x 1.55
  • Heavy exercise between 6-7 days per week = BMR x 1.725
  • Extreme exercise daily = BMR x 1.9

So if we take the BMR from the male in the previous section and say he has been hitting the gym about 2-3 times per week, we can calculate his TDEE at roughly 2,882 calories (2,069 BMR x 1.375). 

Your TDEE is a rough estimate, which is why we use BMR as a better indicator of hitting your caloric goals. 

Factors that Impact BMR

  1. Once you calculate your BMR, the question becomes: is BMR static? 

Your BMR will fluctuate based on weight and other factors that impact our BMR formula. 

In general, the following factors will impact your BMR calculation:

  • Weight:  BMR will change with your weight. As you lose weight, your metabolism will shrink so your body can consume enough energy to stay active. This is why many people may have rebound results after losing a lot of weight. 
  • Age: While conventional wisdom has told us that our metabolism slows with age, a recent study published in Science has challenged this notion. However, age may impact our activity levels, which will alter our metabolism over time. 
  • Fat-free mass and fat mass: The ratio of fat-free mass to fat mass directly impacts your BMR. Since muscles require more energy to function, having a higher muscle mass will boost your BMR. 
  • Exercise Level: Exercise can improve muscle mass, which boosts BMR and your TDEE. 
  • Genetics: Genetics slightly influences your BMR, but this can be altered through exercise and diet. 
  • Sex/gender: Women tend to have much lower metabolisms than men. 
  • Hormones: Hormone regulation from your thyroid gland can impact your metabolism. 
  • Diet/Drugs: Different foods require greater energy to digest and store, directly impacting your BMR. In addition, drugs can also impact your hormones, insulin levels, and other factors that contribute to your BMR. 
  • With these factors in mind, you can discover ways to boost your metabolism to work for you and burn more calories at rest. 

How to Boost Your Metabolism

  • Exercise: Engaging in moderate exercise can significantly boost your metabolism and TDEE so you can eat more and still lose weight. Even walking for a half hour a day can make a big difference.
  • Drink water: Unlike sugary drinks, which increase your calorie intake, water doesn’t add extra calories, and it forces your body to burn more through digestion. In turn, water is a natural way to boost your REE.
  • Get good rest: Sleep regulates hormone levels, organ function, blood pressure, and several other factors that impact our metabolism. For example, studies show that sleep reduces hunger, regulates insulin, and is when you burn most of your calories
  • Eat high-protein foods: High-protein foods that fuel muscle mass require more energy to break down and store, thus improving your BMR.

Is it Harmful to Eat Below Your BMR to Lose Weight?

While severe calorie deficits can lead to malnutrition and extreme thermogenesis, eating below your BMR is not dangerous. In fact, your body will respond by burning more fat naturally.

 

Unless you have a lean body type, eating below your BMR is not a cause for concern. 

 

However, extreme caloric deficits can often be counterintuitive, and we’ll explain why. 

Does Losing Weight Slow Your Metabolism

Unfortunately, extreme calorie deficits can lead to a condition known as adaptive thermogenesis. In essence, the more weight you lose, the more your body will slow down your metabolism to keep itself functioning. 

 

In turn, it can be more difficult to keep weight off the more rapidly you lose it. For example, in a study conducted on contestants of The Biggest Loser, 13 out of 14 contestants put the weight they lost back on.

 

That’s why Seriously Simple Steps takes a progressive approach to weight loss, only encouraging a mild caloric deficit under your BMR, paired with other nutritional steps. 



To recap, your BMR is a calculation of the number of calories you burn at rest. Since you burn most of your calories at rest, calculating your BMR can help you establish daily calorie goals to lose weight. 

 

There are several ways to boost your BMR through exercise, sleep, and other helpful factors. However, it’s essential to go about dieting and caloric deficits in a slow and controlled manner, lest you risk slowing down your metabolism and regaining all of the weight you lost. 

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

This is one of my favorite quotes and rings true with many of the difficult things we have to do in life. It applies to long-term goals in school, work, and at home. But, I believe it’s also a great way to look at our health and wellness. 

We can easily become overwhelmed any time we make a drastic decision to change our life, whether it’s starting a new weight loss program or going for a degree at school. There are so many options and choices in the health and wellness world, but, sadly, most people tend to ignore all of them.

Often, it can be for good reason, such as starting a diet that’s too restrictive and that doesn’t allow you to eat out with friends. 

I believe that in order to jumpstart the process, we should choose a single healthy activity or dietary choice and incorporate that one step at a time before proceeding to another lifestyle change.

The Benefits of Gradual Diet Modification

Let’s say someone decides to start exercising and does not know where to start. She may decide to join a fancy gym or sign up for a Yoga or spin class. Unfortunately, she will likely burn out in a few weeks or months because the experience can be so overwhelming. 

A simple approach is for that individual to just buy a $60 pair of sneakers and start walking. She could then add biking or perhaps jogging and up the intensity of the workout the more comfortable they feel with exercising regularly. 

Once she starts seeing the benefits, such as increased energy and weight loss results, she will be motivated to go even harder during each workout. I am a big fan of using simple step-by-step changes in diets and lifestyle choices because they are the easiest to adopt. 

Instead of advising a hesitant patient to enter a strict weight loss program with way too many rules, I usually start with a simple one-step instruction. As many of you know who have started the program, I like to start patients with a simple time-restrictive eating exercise based on their BMR they can incorporate over the course of a week. 

I’ve found from experience this gradual approach to dieting works so much better than an all-or-nothing approach. For example, instead of advising patients to limit all carbs as much as possible, I like to start by limiting their carb intake after 2 p.m. 

My patients tend to learn to cut down on carbs later in the day and get used to eating a larger amount of healthier alternatives such as vegetables, fruits, salads, and lean meats. 

Very often, these dietary changes tend to spill over into their breakfasts and their lunches. If they start to see beneficial effects from cutting carbs (e.g., feeling better and losing weight) then they usually spread the good habits to other parts of their lifestyle. This may encompass things like discovering healthier foods or starting new exercise habits.

Focus on the Journey, Not the Result

My point here is that we should not fixate on the end result. Stop thinking that you must lose 20 pounds or run a marathon. Start focusing on one healthy activity at a time. You can begin by deciding to do just one of the following:

If you already do one of these things, then add on another. If you take the first step, you may soon find yourself on a journey.

Remember, to have a reminder with you that will help you push forward each step at a time. For patients of the S3 program, I like them to wear a gree bracelet that gives them a gentle reminder to make healthier choices so the next time they reach for a cookie, they’ll think about a carrot instead. 

 

By focusing on simple lifestyle modifications one step at a time, you will be more likely to achieve your desired results at the end of your journey. Just remember to be patient and keep moving forward!

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