All entries tagged with “Weight Loss”

Habits--They Can Change


Like many of my patients, the struggle to exercise is very real to me.

I woke up one day a few weeks ago determined to work out. I had every intention to make it happen in the afternoon, before I left work. After making sure my gym clothes and shoes were in my bag, I was out the door.

The day was packed with seeing patients and accomplishing things around the office. When my last patient left, I began responding to emails, then busying myself with other tasks. Eventually, it was time to leave, and I hadn’t made any attempt to start exercising. The thought hit me as I put on my coat, “I was going to work out today. I really wanted to work out. Why didn’t it happen?” That was when I realized something needed to change.

Good intentions are not enough to change behavior, especially when distractions abound.  In the New York Time’s bestseller, The Power of Habit, the author describes what steps are required for creating what is referred to as a “habit loop”. Establishing habits will help you achieve your goals by turning your good intentions into action.

Now let’s talk about how to practically create a habit loop. First, find a cue to disrupt your typical daily routine and get you on track with the habit you want to create—exercise. Second, choose an exercise routine to follow. Third, consider a reward—is it satisfying enough to feel accomplished after a workout? Do you need to treat yourself to a cup of tea or sauna time afterwards? Having something to look forward to will help solidify your habit loop and continue to make the cue you created work in the future.

Cues look different for everyone—here are some ideas:

  • Dress for your work-out first thing in the morning, for all you early birds
  • Plan a stop to the gym before arriving home after finishing the work day
  • Set an alarm to remind you it’s time to exercise if you work at home
  • Plan to watch your favorite show while on the treadmill instead of sitting on the couch (watching your show can also be an example of a built-in reward).

At any rate, you need to decide what will work best for your lifestyle. For me, I decided that the moment my last patient left, I would put on my sneakers and get moving. This way, I had plenty of time to exercise and then finish up my work after feeling refreshed.

Now think about your habit loop. What cue will you create to trigger this habit? What routine will you follow? Lastly, what reward will help your habit stick?

Created By: 
Jacqueline Duca MS, RDN, LDN &

Amy Anichini MS, RDN, LDN

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Beware of Fad Diets



Nutrition fads. We have all heard of them. Many seem like a good idea; others are plain bizarre. Each plan promises results, but all too many don’t deliver and leave people worse off than when they started. As healthcare professionals, it is important to inform consumers on which fad diet are actually safe to pursue and which are flat out a bad idea. Below are some guidelines on how to sift through whatever fad diet you may be thinking of.

Aspects to consider before starting:

1.     Calorie Restrictions

Any nutrition plan that highly restricts calories is not a good one. Many will suggest 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men. They will choose these numbers because they are the lowest numbers that can still be considered “safe”. However, most adults need more than these amounts. Over restricting calories will cause someone to lose weight too quickly and ultimately starve the body of necessary nutrients.

 2.     Macronutrient Balance

It is paramount to choose a plan that has proper nutrient balance. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The general recommendation is that

  • 50% of total calories should be from carbohydrates,
  • 20% from protein and no more than
  • 30% from fat.

Many fad diets will recommend drastic restrictions to any one of these macronutrients, which will render less than ideal results and compromise your overall wellbeing.

3.     Drinking vs. Chewing

Human beings have a natural need to chew. Thus, fad diets, classified as detoxes or cleanses that call for liquid or smoothie meal replacements will leave someone ultimately unsatisfied.

4.     Sustainability

The most important aspect to consider when choosing a nutrition plan is sustainability. Most fad diets are not sustainable in nature; however, there can be valuable lessons to be learned, which can be incorporated into a sustainable lifestyle. If the fad diet you are considering has favorable answers to the first three points discussed, here are some questions to ask yourself after completing it.

Questions to ask after finishing:

  1. What were the positives elements about this temporary fad diet?
  2. What were the negative aspects?
  3. How will I incorporate what I found positive into a sustainable lifestyle, moving forward?

Discuss your answers with a registered dietitian to receive professional guidance and create further accountability for long term sustainability. 

Created By:
Jacqueline Duca MS, RDN, LDN

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Nutrition for Exercise

Over the past few months, I have noticed an interesting pattern. Many people believe that in order to lose weight, eating before or after exercise will "undo" all of their efforts during a work out. They therefore choose not to eat something after exercise. This is a false notion, and can actually have a negative impact on your ability to lose weight.

Prior to a workout, the carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, grains) that we've eaten are broken down into glucose, and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Fat and protein are stored too, but cannot be mobilized quick enough to be used by exercising muscles, so the body relies predominantly on carbohydrates. Muscle glycogen is the preferred energy because it can be accessed the fastest; if depleted, the body will turn to the stores of glycogen in the liver, which we want to avoid.

While working out, the amount of stored energy begins to deplete, just as a gas tank creeps steadily from full to empty during a road trip. And if the 'empty light' goes on during a road trip, it's very important to get to a gas station and refill. If you have ever started to feel dizzy, shaky, or light headed during or after a workout, this is your body's "empty light," and is the physiological response to the fact that your muscles are depleted of energy; you are running on empty.

Unfortunately, this will very likely lead to a binge on starchy carbohydrates immediately after you finish working out....not such a great scenario for weight loss. Workouts such as cycling are such high intensity that people often deplete their glycogen stores, leading right to a binge on quick and convenient carbohydrates. A prime example is the person working hard at Spin class week in and week out, who somehow does not lose a pound. They are eating back more energy than they expended through exercise, and therefore do not lose any weight.

The best way to prevent this is to plan ahead: eat a light meal or snack about one hour before your workout that consists of protein and carbohydrates to prepare your body for exercise. Examples include a turkey sandwich, a salad with grilled chicken, or an omelet with vegetables.

Post workout nutrition is also critical, for exercisers at any level. Eating a snack of 25-50 grams carbohydrates and 6-20 grams protein within one hour of working out is extremely beneficial, and, contrary to popular belief, does NOT undo all of your hard work. Rather, post exercise is a unique window of time in which the insulin response in your body causes an increase in the uptake of glucose into the muscles. Picture your muscles as tiny gas tanks, and glucose as the gas that refills those tanks. You don't want to overfill the tank, so it's important to pay attention to how much fuel you're ingesting. A good goal is 100-250 calories. The addition of protein in your snack also helps with muscle repair, and is especially important after resistance training. Examples of great post-workout snacks are as follows:

  • Banana + 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter ( 220 calories, 30 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams protein)
  • 12 almonds, 7-8 walnut halves, 2 Tbsp Craisins (240 calories35 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams protein)
  • 6 oz Greek Yogurt + 1 cup berries ( 185 calories, 30 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams protein)
  • 8 oz chocolate skim milk (140 calories, 27 grams carbohydrate, 8.5 grams protein)

 To drive home the importance of eating after a workout, understand that if a snack is delayed for more than an hour, the ability for muscles to use that fuel for stored glycogen is seriously decreased. This in turn will affect your next workout, because your muscles aren't properly fueled. By getting into the practice of eating before and after exercise, you will be properly fueling your body with the nutrients that will help to continually improve your workouts. And, by providing your body with the right amount of energy when you actually need it, you will be improving your ability not only to lose weight, but keep it off.



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