Combating Creeping Weight Gain

When it comes to losing weight, we are not not using our best resources. Looking to processed diet foods and pharmaceuticals leave us gaining one to three pounds per year. The term “creeping obesity” comes to mind. In the words of our own Dr. Anne Barnard, we cannot continue to do what worked in years past when it comes to diet and exercise and expect to maintain our physical fitness.

August 3, 2011 NPR’s Here and Now reported on a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health finding that eating more of certain foods, and less of others could help combat slow and steady weight gain because, according to Dr. Dariush Mozzafarian who led the study, there are “certain types of calories that make us more full and make us eat less.”

And what are these foods? Nuts, fruits, non-starchy veggies and whole grains. Increasing these foods, because of how they influence our bodies biologically, increases weight loss. We took pause here at the of mentioned nuts. Yes, we know nuts are full of nutrients and good fats but considering them a diet food? In the interview Dr. Mozzafarian told an anecdote of a person who ate several ounces of high-calorie nuts midday but later in the day consumed fewer calories overall. This person maintained steady weight loss over the year. Even high calorie nuts, because they are nutrient dense and because they contain healthy fats and calories, help you consume fewer calories, especially empty ones found in white breads, crackers and other sweets later in the day. Using ourselves as test cases, we realized we can eat a lot of nuts and feel satiated longer. So if nuts are what you love, go for it. And if it’s nut butters look for pure ingredients such as the nut and salt only, and serve it up on a fruit, veggie or whole grain cracker.

Back to the study. The next weight loss food they found was yogurt. And not just from a single study, but three separate studies found that the bacteria in yogurt alters the bacteria in your gut in a favorable way to combat long term weight gain. It is the bacteria in yogurt that is so beneficial, not the degree of fat content as neither whole fat, low fat or no-fat yogurt made a difference in the results.

And onto the dark side: there are certain foods that foster weight gain and they are called: Refined Carbohydrates. Corn flakes, white rice, non-whole grain bread or pasta, crackers, some types of health bars, chips, cakes, mashed potatoes – these are just the same as sugar and should be treated as such, Dr. Mozzafarian said. Just as you wouldn’t base your meal around a box of Mike and Ikes (at least we hope not), nor should you base your dish around these refined carbohydrates; they should be saved as occasional treats.

The Healthy Eating Food Pyramid published by the Harvard School of Public Health puts refined carbohydrates in the small top point of the food pyramid along with red meat.

For more on the study, please visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21696306 and more on the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid, please visit http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/

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