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Ask a nutritionist: Best dieting foods, juice cleanses and more

weight loss

weight loss

Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN and CSSD is a licensed registered dietitian and personal trainer. She has a private practice in Manhattan and appears regularly in the media. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in nutrition and exercise science from Cornell and Columbia.

I exercise a couple of times a week, and eat fairly well. Is it possible for me to lose weight? Yes, of course it is possible. In order to lose weight, your body must have a calorie deficit. A calorie is a unit of energy: 3,500 calories equals one pound, so to lose one pound, you would need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. We can decrease calories by consuming fewer (eating less) or by burning more (with exercise).

Start with a food diary. Research shows that the most success in weight loss is correlated with food journaling.

If you can add an extra workout or two, that is great: you will burn more calories. If this is not possible, make sure you are maximizing your effort during the times you do schedule workouts. Try moving faster between exercises. Do jumping jacks or core exercises.

Leave your phone in your locker or gym bag.

When it comes to weight loss, is drinking alcohol as bad for you as eating fatty foods? Moderate consumption of drinks may have heart health benefits. Compounds including antioxidants and resveratrol can help increase "good" (HDL) cholesterol and prevent artery damage from "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Alcohol is not an essential nutrient. ... [But] if we are referring to "bad" saturated fats, such as those found in fried foods and packaged dessert and snack foods, I am almost tempted to say a glass of wine would be a better choice. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, while fats have 9 calories per gram. (Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories per gram.). If you do choose alcohol, go easy. Remember that alcohol can decrease inhibitions and lead to eating indulgences.

What are the best dieting foods? There is no one right answer. But I will share my favorite two:

Water: At least 70% of the time we think we are hungry ... we are actually thirsty. Maintaining proper hydration not only takes away that false feeling of ?hunger,? but can help get rid [of] excess bloat. [It] may sound counterintuitive, but drinking more water allows us to shed excess water weight.

Vegetables: They are high in fiber [and] water, full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and low in calories. They help keep you feeling fuller for longer, and can even decrease caloric intake if eaten at the beginning of a meal. Research has shown that including vegetables at all three meals can help increase weight loss and improve body composition (more lean muscle, less fat). Just watch out for vegetables that are higher in calories and digested in your body like a starch, including peas, corn and carrots.

My friends do juice cleanses. Is this really advisable? There are different schools of thought on the practice of "cleansing" and "juicing." Only 12-13% of adults meet their daily recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables. Juices can be a great way to load up on all the nutrients found in the vegetables and fruits used to make the drinks. Liquids can be easier to digest than solids since some of the work is already done for the body, so these drinks may help with metabolism.

Be careful when drinks are meal replacements. Some contain significant amounts of protein, others do not. Skipping protein can be detrimental and sabotage diet and weight loss efforts.

That said, I like to do a detox with my clients ... to provide a "jump start" before a special event or vacation, or after a long period of particularly unhealthy habits.  


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