Five Common Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight

14 07 2010

Don’t sabotage yourself by making these weight loss blunders.  Read on to find out more about mistakes I often see clients make, and how to avoid them.

Skipping breakfast to save calories.

Research has shown that people who skip breakfast tend to eat more later in the day, cancelling out whatever calories they saved at breakfast.  Also, going long periods of time without eating can affect how your body handles the food you eat.  Those who eat more later in the day tend to store more body fat and have less muscle.

Not eating enough protein.

Eating protein throughout the day will help you maintain muscle as you lose weight.  Your goal should be fat loss, not just weight loss.  Protein also makes you feel full longer.  Simple protein foods to include are meat, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, or beans.

Eliminating entire categories of food (like carbohydrates).

Too many people believe they can’t eat carbohydrates.  The problem with this mindset is if you eliminate carbs then you don’t have enough energy to train optimally.  Exercising at a higher level will allow you to burn the necessary calories for fat loss.  The harder you train, the more carbohydrates you actually need.  High quality carbohydrate foods are fruits, whole grain breads, high-fiber cereals, & sweet potatoes.

Not paying attention to liquid calories.

As you are trying to lose fat, your hydration should mostly come from water.  Sports drinks are only intended to be consumed around workouts.  They should not be consumed all day long.  Juice is also very high in calories.  By avoiding these outside of exercise, you save yourself unnecessary calories.  In addition to these, alcoholic beverages add up quickly and can prevent your progress toward your fat loss goal.  Besides the extra calories, alcohol hurts weight loss in other manners.  It stimulates appetite and you mostly likely won’t choose healthy food when you are drinking.  Lastly, alcohol has a negative impact on your sleep and hydration, which in turn will make it more difficult for you to lose weight.

Trying to lose weight In-Season.

If you wait until the season starts to try to lose weight, you may be jeopardizing your performance.  By eating fewer calories than you burn, you may have less energy than necessary for workouts.  Therefore, it is best to plan ahead and make the necessary changes in the offseason.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.

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Tainted Weight Loss Supplements

12 07 2010

Yet another weight loss supplement has been found to contain pharmaceutical drugs.  On March 20, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a nationwide alert about tainted weight loss products containing undeclared, active pharmaceutical ingredients. That alert listed more than 70 weight loss products that may be harmful.

This past Thursday, July 8, the FDA has added another supplement to that list.  Que She, advertised as “Slimming Factor Capsule” and as “an all-natural blend of Chinese herbs,” was found to contain the following pharmaceutical ingredients:

  • fenfluraminea stimulant drug withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1997 after studies demonstrated that it caused serious heart valve damage
  • sibutramine – a controlled substance and prescription weight loss drug, which has been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have a history of heart disease
  • ephedrinea stimulant (ephedra alkaloid) with potential side effects of irregular heartbeat, seizures, heart attack, stroke, or death
  • propranolol – a prescription beta blocker drug that is used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Que She has been distributed locally at Sacred Journey in Lawrence, KS.  The website listed by the FDA is also run by Sacred Journey.  People who have purchased Que She should stop taking the product immediately and consult a health care professional.

If you are interested in getting further updates from the FDA, you can go to their consumer updates page:  http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/default.htm

As I always stress to clients, there is no such thing as a “magic pill” for weight loss.  You need to:

  1. Eat Right
  2. Exercise
  3. Get enough sleep

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Can tea help you lose weight?

6 07 2010

In 2009, Americans spent 3.64 billion dollars on food, beverages, and supplements that were marketed for weight management.  Obviously, people are searching for something to help them lose weight.  What if it was as simple as drinking tea with meals?

Let’s look at two popular varieties of tea, green and black.

Green tea has been getting a lot of publicity for its health benefits over the past few years.  The part of green tea that has been studied the most is a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).  According to a recent study in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, EGCG was found to increase fat oxidation by 33 percent.  This is the reason a lot of supplement manufacturers add this green tea extract to their products.  But I always recommend that you try to get what you need from food first before turning to supplements, so…

How much green tea do you need to drink to see benefit?

According to Dr. Josh Lambert, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science at Penn State, the effective dose is a minimum of 3 cups per day.  It is most likely you will need to drink 3-6 cups per day.  I am referring to tea that you have brewed either using tea bags or loose leaf tea with an infuser.  So, this means bottled green tea, like Arizona Tea, doesn’t count.  As bottled teas sit on the shelf, the polyphenols degrade and you lose the benefit you are looking for.  In addition, most have a lot of added sugar, which would counteract any weight loss effects.  There are many varieties of green tea.  Personally, I like “Gunpowder Green Tea” (loose leaf).  If you live in Lawrence look for it in a Hyvee grocery store.

And now let’s look at black tea.

Some new research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that black tea may be as effective in weight management as green tea.  This research study used mice, so it still needs to be repeated with humans.  But the results are intriguing.  The researchers fed mice a high-fat, high-calorie diet.  The mice that were given black tea extracts did not see the body weight and fat gain.  These benefits were linked to reduced fat absorption.  So if you are looking to lose weight, you may benefit by drinking some black tea with your meal.

As a reminder, I promote food first.  There are real concerns with a lot of supplements, especially those marketed for weight loss.  Green tea is safe.  However, green tea extracts in the form of a supplement may cause toxicity.  Another point for consideration; tea can inhibit iron absorption.  So, if you tend to have low levels of iron, make sure you separate the consumption of iron-containing food and tea by at least an hour…

Bottom Line: Tea may be beneficial in weight loss.  Drink it with meals (unless iron deficient) and as part of snacks.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





How to Lose that Belly Fat

25 06 2010

When I meet with people who want to lose body fat, there are a few things that I focus on initially.  One of these is getting adequate fiber throughout the day.

A recently published study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Am J Clin Nutr 91: 329-336, 2010) looked at total fiber, cereal fiber, and fruit/vegetable fiber to see if there is a difference in how they affect weight and abdominal fat.  They found that those who ate the most fiber had the least amount of belly fat and weighed less. They also found that cereal fiber was the most effective at preventing abdominal fat gain.

Therefore, when picking a cereal, choose wisely.  One of my general rules for cereal selection is it should have at least 2 grams of fiber and protein for every 100 calories.  (Though, I prefer them to be even higher)

What is fiber? Dietary fibers are structural components of plants. The type and amount of fiber in plants vary from species to species.

How much do we need? A healthy adult should get 10 – 13 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories they eat.  Most women should aim to get a minimum of 20 grams per day and men should aim for 35 grams per day.  Unfortunately, most Americans only consume about 10 grams daily.  To get the appropriate amount of fiber, adults should include the following in their diets:

  • two to three servings of whole grains
  • three pieces of fruits a day
  • two cups of vegetables a day
  • one or two servings of legumes every week

Sources of Fiber

Food Amount Fiber (grams)
Kashi Go Lean Cereal 1 cup 10
Beans, cooked ½ cup 5-8
Peanuts ½ cup 6
Raspberries 1 cup 6
Whole wheat bread, 100% 2 slices 6
Harvest burger 1 burger 5
Apple or Pear 1 fruit 4
Blueberries or Strawberries 1 cup 4
Oats, uncooked ½ cup 4
Sweet potato w/skin, baked 1 potato 4
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 4
Sunflower seeds ¼ cup 4
Broccoli 1 cup 3

Are there side effects to increasing your fiber? Yes. Some people experience gas and bloating.  But you can avoid these side effects by gradually increasing the amount of fiber you eat daily and drinking plenty of water.

Bottom Line: To help lose that belly fat, choose a high-fiber cereal and include fruits and vegetables daily.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Did you know that exercise alone will not make you lose weight?

23 04 2010

I am sure that you have heard before or even said it yourself.  “I have been exercising consistently for a month and haven’t lost any weight.”  Losing weight involves eating fewer calories than you burn.  So, it would make sense that exercise will make you lose weight because it causes you to burn more calories.  However, our bodies like to maintain homeostasis.  This means that your body wants to stay where you are.  With moderate exercise, certain hormone levels increase.  One in particular, ghrelin, signals to your brain that you are hungry and need to eat.  So, your body naturally responds to exercise with an increased desire to eat and compensate for the calories you burnt.  If your goal is weight loss, then when you exercise you need to follow a detailed plan to control for calories you consume.  Research is showing that the elevation in appetite hormones is more pronounced in women.  So, ladies have to work extra hard not to overeat and cancel out their caloric deficit.

An exception to this is when exercise is intense.  Interval training seems to be more effective at fat loss than steady state exercise.  An example of interval training would be:  On an exercise bike, pedal as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds and then go slow for 1 minute.  Example RPMs would be greater than 100 for the sprint portion and 50-65 on the recovery portion.  This style of training can be done on the elliptical, stair climber, and treadmill.  On a track it could be sprinting the straight-aways and walking the curve.

In a recent study conducted in an energy-metabolism lab, researchers had a group of volunteers spend an entire day sitting.  Then they repeated the experiment with the same volunteers but had them stand all day.  When the participants stood, they burnt hundreds of calories more than when they were seated.  One of the most positive finding was that with the increase in calorie burning, there was no increase  in their blood levels of ghrelin or other appetite hormones. Standing, for both men and women, burned multiple calories but did not ignite hunger. The lead researcher concluded that if you want to lose weight, you don’t necessarily have to go for a long run. “Just get rid of your chair.”

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Lack of sleep can lead to fat gain…

13 04 2010

Lack of sleep can lead to fat gain…

Sleep affects both behavioral and metabolic characteristics.

Sleep loss affects the body’s levels of cortisol, insulin, and growth hormone.

Cortisol increases with a lack of sleep.

In response to this increase, insulin also increases, leading to fat storage.

Growth hormone decreases, resulting in fat storage & muscle loss.

Some research has shown that when tired, people crave more sweet high-carbohydrate foods.

Combine this with increased cortisol & insulin, and you are set for fat storage.

Lack of sleep affects exercise intensity.

You tend to compensate by reducing your intensity during  workouts.

You also lower the intensity of your normal daily activities.

This combination results in fewer calories burned daily.

Bottom Line:

Get at least 7 consecutive hours of sleep.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.