Women's Health Walking Workouts
Eating For Weight Loss
Study after study has shown you can lose more weight by cutting kilojoules than you can by simply burning them off with exercise. So why not take advantage of this fact and adjust your diet to slim down and shape up as quickly as possible? Eating healthily will benefit your body in other ways too: you’ll have more energy, boost your immunity and protect yourself against disease.
We asked dietician Heidi McIndoo, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Superfood Cookbook – and fellow walker – to share smart nutrition guidelines that will energise your workouts and help you burn the most fat for the fewest kilojoules. Read on for 10 tips that can lead to faster weight loss.
1. Make friends with fibre
Try to eat at least 20g of fibre per day from whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Fibre helps keep you feeling full longer – a big benefit when you’re trying to lose weight. A 2009 study from Brigham Young University College of Health and Human Performance demonstrated that women who ate more fibre significantly lowered their risk of gaining weight and fat. Each gram of fibre eaten correlated to 500g less body weight. The researchers suspect that the higher fibre intake led to a reduction in total kilojoules over time.
2. Get more calcium and vitamin D in your diet
Strive for three servings of calcium‑ and vitamin D‑rich foods a day. These two nutrients often occur together in food, especially dairy. Calcium and vitamin D work together in your body, primarily to strengthen your bones. But if the latest research is any indication, both of these nutrients may flex some muscle in your weight‑ loss success. Dairy is the prime source of calcium and vitamin D in the diet. In a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, college students who came closest to meeting the three‑servings‑a‑day dairy requirement while eating an otherwise healthy diet weighed less, gained less and actually lost belly fat, compared with students who consumed little or no dairy. Moreover, vitamin D by itself may play a role in weight control. Extra body fat holds on to vitamin D so that the body can’t use it. This perceived deficiency interferes with the action of the hormone leptin, whose job it is to tell your brain that you’re full. And if you can’t recognise when you’re satiated, you’re more likely to overeat. You may also want to consider a vitamin D supplement. The latest research suggests that this nutrient may be a factor in protecting you from everything from heart disease to memory loss and even chronic pain. Evidence is mounting that we need more than the current recommended intakes, especially as we age, because older skin produces less vitamin D. That’s why experts in vitamin D research are now recommending a daily supplement of 1 000 IU of vitamin D3, the kind most readily used by the body.
3. Don’t fear fats
Good fats – including monounsaturated fatty acids and omega‑3 fatty acids, found in oils, nuts, avocados and certain fish – are an important part of a healthy diet. Aim to eat three to four servings daily. A recent study published in the journal Appetite shows how these fats – besides being good for your heart – can help you feel full for longer after meals. The study participants with a higher intake of omega‑3 fatty acids (more than 1 300mg a day either from food or from supplements) reported feeling less hungry right after their meals, as well as two hours later, compared with a lower omega‑3 intake (less than 260mg a day). Less hunger means less munching and an easier time keeping your kilojoules in check. More specific research has been done on walnuts, a good source of monounsaturated fat. An Australian study had participants follow a healthy low‑fat diet either with walnuts or without. Both groups ate the same number of kilojoules and lost approximately the same amount of weight at six months. But during the next six months of the year‑long study, the walnut eaters continued to lose weight and body fat, while the other group stopped losing – even though they were still following the same diet.
4. Lean on protein
Eating three servings of lean protein – such as eggs, low-fat dairy, fish, white meat, chicken and turkey, and lean beef, sirloin – helps keep you feeling full for longer, which is a big benefit when you’re trying to lose weight. In a small study, participants who ate a higher-protein breakfast were more satiated afterwards (and took in fewer kilojoules at lunch) than those who ate a lowprotein breakfast.
5. Believe in breakfast
Speaking of breakfast, the old saying about it being the most important meal of the day really has some merit. As the first meal after a long period of not eating, breakfast wakes up your metabolism for the day. Also, the types of food that make up a healthy breakfast, such as whole grains, fruit and low-fat milk, pack a nutritional punch – a great opportunity to get a head start on your daily requirements for fibre, calcium and an assortment of other nutrients. Breakfast plays a role in weight loss too. Countless studies have shown that people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who skip this morning meal. The explanation for this may have been revealed, at least in part, by recent research in which breakfast eaters ended up taking in fewer kilojoules throughout the entire day than non-breakfast eaters. The morning eaters also had a lower body mass index (BMI), a measurement commonly used to assess how healthy a person is based on her height and weight. Another study, in the Journal of Nutrition, found women who ate a high-fibre, low-sugar breakfast burnt more fat when exercising. Fat burning was higher immediately after eating the higher-fibre breakfast as well as three hours later when the women took a 60-minute walk. In addition, lunch was more satiating after the higher-fibre breakfast.
6. Get to know H2O
Studies from Stanford Prevention Research Center suggest that water helps promote weight loss in two ways. First, drinking more water – at least four cups per day – was linked to a twokilogram weight loss over the course of a year. According to the researchers, this amount of water increases the amount of energy or kilojoules your body burns. Second, substituting water for sugary drinks – fizzy cooldrink, sports drinks, flavoured waters and sweetened milk, coffee and tea – resulted in even more weight lost. The exact number of kilos depended on how many sugary drinks were consumed in the first place and how many were replaced with water. Interestingly, switching from sweetened drinks to diet drinks instead of water also resulted in weight loss, but only about one kilogram instead of slightly more than two with water. Don’t think you can give up cooldrink, sweetened coffee or other sugary drinks? Then consider this: it’s been shown that when people consume a certain number of kilojoules, they’re hungrier and more likely to overeat at their next meal when those kilojoules are in liquid rather than in solid form. Translation: if you eat an 800kJ snack, you’ll be more satisfied afterwards and eat less later than if you drink an 800kJ beverage. So frequently drinking kilojoule-dense beverages could increase both your hunger and your kilojoule intake throughout the day.
7. Give green tea a chance
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of green tea. But did you know that while you’re following the walking workouts in this book, it’s extra beneficial to sip at least three cups of green tea every day? The reason: catechins, the antioxidants found in high amounts in green tea, have been shown to be helpful in promoting weight loss, specifically belly fat. In a study at
the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in the US, participants who drank the equivalent of three cups of green tea a day lost twice as much weight as those not drinking tea. The tea‑drinking group also lost significantly more belly fat than the non‑tea drinkers.
8. Chew away hunger
Everyone knows sweets aren’t part of a healthy diet, but sugar‑free gum just might be. A study asked participants to chew sugar‑free gum for 15 minutes of every hour between lunch and a snack. When they did so, they ate 170 fewer kilojoules of their snack than they did on the days when they didn’t have gum. Now, 170kJ may not seem like a big deal, but it adds up to more than two kilos over the course of a year. And that’s from just chewing gum!
9. Sit down and savour
When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to mindlessly gulp down your food, eating more than if you were paying attention to every bite. For a US study, six women were asked to eat slowly, chew thoroughly and stop when their food no longer tasted as good as when they took their first bite. These women lost four kilos, on average, compared to a 1.5kg weight gain for a control group.
10. Make your own meals
While cooking healthy food may seem like another task you don’t have time for, the pay‑off is worth the investment. Whenever possible, cook dinner for yourself at home and lunchbox your snacks and lunches – whether you’re at the office, out running errands or on the road. That way, you’re not at the mercy of cafeterias, food courts, vending machines or drive‑throughs.