Eating Fruit Can Actually Help You Lose Weight. A Nutritionist Explains

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Here's some good news if you love berries, pears, and apples: Ditching fruit isn’t necessary to lose weight. It’s also not smart. Yes, fruit contains carbs and naturally-occurring sugar. But there are important reasons to make fruit a daily staple in your diet, even when you're working to slim down. The key is to eat it strategically. Doing so can actually help you shed pounds.

Natural substances in fruit—including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and prebiotics—are incredibly good for you, not just in terms of protecting against chronic diseases, but also for managing your weight. Even if you eat plenty of veggies, nixing fruit means missing out on the unique antioxidants they provide.

In research, fruit has actually been tied to weight loss, not weight gain. One study found that overweight and obese adults who ate more fruit experienced greater weight loss than those who didn't. Another study, which followed more than 130,000 adults over 24 years, found that consuming fruit was associated with improved weight loss over time.

This link may be because fruit can help boost satiety, satisfy a sweet craving, and decrease your desire to dig into goodies like candy or baked goods. Fruits also tend to replace higher-calorie treats, whereas veggies tend to be add-ons. In other words, you’re much more likely to choose an apple rather than a piece of broccoli in place of a cookie; and that swap can help you limit total calories and avoid added sugar, the real culprit when it comes to weight gain.

RELATED: Here’s What to Eat for Lunch If You’re Trying to Slim Down, According to a Nutritionist

As for sugar, even the strictest guidelines from groups like the American Heart Association and World Health Organization don't lump the sugar from fresh, whole fruit in with added sugar, the refined type used to sweeten foods (think almond milk, or the spoonful you add to your morning coffee).

That's because the naturally-occurring sugar in fruit is much less concentrated, and bundled with water and a number of key nutrients. For example, one whole orange provides about 17 grams of carb, about 12 of which are natural sugar. But it also supplies fluid, 12% of your daily fiber needs, and nearly 100% the recommended amount of vitamin C, along with B vitamins, potassium, and substances like hesperidin, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.

Compare that to one tablespoon of table sugar, which contains 16 grams of carbs and no nutrients. Essentially, whole, fresh fruit and added sugar don’t belong in the same category.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited amounts of fruit. Fruit does contain carbohydrates, and the job of carbs is to fuel the activity of your cells. When you eat more carbs than you can burn after a meal or snack, even from fruit, the unneeded surplus can either feed existing fat, or plump up fat cells.

For this reason your total carb intake, including fruit, should correspond to your fuel demands, which are based on your height, ideal weight, sex, age, and physical activity level. Most of my women clients can afford to eat two servings of fruit per day (more if they are taller or more active), with one serving being one cup, or one piece about the size of a baseball.

Since the carbs in fruit help fuel activity, when you eat fruit matters too. Downing a huge bowl of grapes late at night while you’re watching TV or surfing the web (when your fuel requirement is low) doesn’t make a lot of sense. Instead, build fruit into the meals and snacks you consume before your more active hours of the day. For many of my clients that may mean eating a small banana 20 or 30 minutes before a workout, or eating berries with breakfast before heading to work—and pairing an apple with almond butter in the afternoon to help power through the rest of the day.

RELATED: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

As far as the type of fruit you choose, try to get a good variety to expose your body to the broadest spectrum of nutrients and antioxidants. In my opinion no fruit is off limits if you’re thoughtful about the amount and timing. For example, while watermelon is a high glycemic-index fruit, enjoying it when it’s in season is smart, since one cup of cubes contains less than 50 calories, and it provides vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants tied to anti-inflammation, protection against heart disease, and improved exercise endurance and recovery.

Bottom line: fruit is incredibly nutritious and not inherently fattening. Its impact on your weight depends on when you consume it, and how much you eat. Banishing fruit completely can backfire for weight loss, and negatively impact your overall wellness. Instead, strike the right balance to reap all the benefits of fruit and still achieve your slim-down goals.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: http://www.health.com

Trying to Lose Weight? Your Partner May Reap the Benefits, Too

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Committing to a weight-loss program can have an unexpected benefit: Your significant other may shed some extra pounds, too, even if they aren’t trying. That’s what researchers found in a new study on the so-called weight-loss ripple effect, published today in the journal Obesity.

The study, which was sponsored by Weight Watchers, tracked the progress of 130 married or cohabitating couples for six months. In all of the couples, one partner had a desire to lose weight, and both partners agreed to weigh-ins after three and six months. Half of the partners followed Weight Watchers, while the others received a four-page handout with healthy-eating and exercise tips, and were told to try to lose weight on their own.

The researchers wanted to see if one approach would work better than the other. As it turns out, they were both effective, and everyone involved lost weight. After three months, those in the Weight Watchers group had lost more weight (about 7.4 pounds versus 4.3 pounds), but by the end of the trial, both groups had lost about 14 pounds.

But the partners who didn’t participate — most of whom were men — lost weight, too. On average, people whose partners joined Weight Watchers lost about 3.3 pounds in the first three months, and about 4.9 pounds over the full six-month study. Those whose partners were given a self-guided weight-loss approach had lost about 2.1 pounds at the three-month check-in, and 4.2 pounds at six months. Because of the study’s margin of error, the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.

Lead author Amy Gorin, PhD, a professor of psychological sciences at the University of Connecticut, said in a press release that when one person changes their behavior, it’s not unusual for the people around them to change, as well. When one partner starts counting calories, weighing themselves regularly, or making healthier food choices, for example, their partners might emulate them.

Four or five pounds may not seem like a lot. But by the end of the study, about a third of the “untreated” partners in the study had lost more than 3% of their initial body weight, which the experts say has measurable health benefits.

Partners also tended to lose weight at similar rates: If one member of a couple lost weight at a steady pace, his or her partner did too, and the same goes for people who lost weight slowly.

“This data suggests that weight loss can spread within couples, and that widely available lifestyle programs have weight loss effects beyond the treated individual,” the authors wrote in their paper. They also suggest that programs like Weight Watchers could help more people by actively involving spouses and partners in the weight loss process.

Gorin says she and her colleagues next hope to look at whether the weight-loss ripple effect could go even further, to other family members who share a household, or to close friends or coworkers.

Source: http://www.health.com

Short-term weight loss before bariatric surgery leads to better outcomes

For patients undergoing weight loss (bariatric) surgery, losing at least 8 percent of excess weight just one month before the procedure directly impacts their ability to shed even more pounds in the year following surgery, according to new study findings published as an “article in press” on the website of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons ahead of print.

Source: http://www.news-medical.net

How This Dad Lost Nearly 100 Lbs.—and Gained a Six-Pack

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Jeremiah Peterson decided to get serious about weight loss when a family hiking excursion last summer proved to be too taxing for his then 290-lb. frame.

“I remember being bent over heaving just trying to catch my breath,” the Missoula, Montana-resident tells PEOPLE. “When I looked up, I saw my wife and three kids [10, 8 and 7] easily hiking, talking and laughing with each other — without me. It was a hard-hitting moment.”

He continued: “I felt sadness and shame in that moment thinking how I had let myself get to this, but so much deeper than that. If I continued to live like this, I would not live.”

When he returned home, Peterson, 39, began researching weight loss options and found a video advertising a transformation challenge. “[It] sealed the deal for me. I signed up knowing I was going to give this challenge every single thing I had,” he says.

Prior to losing weight, “a typical day for me was to not eat all day and then get home from work, drink a few beers and eat a big dinner,” says the antique store owner. “Putting my body into starvation mode and then overeating made my body blow up like a balloon, quite literally. I had constant bloating, heartburn and awful stomach issues.”

After finding out he was gluten intolerant, Peterson switched over to a keto-based diet consisting of healthy fats, lean protein and green vegetables. The new nutrition plan and twice-daily hour-long hikes “made the weight start to pour off.”

He also started weight lifting six days a week, focusing on a different body part each day.

Peterson ended up dropping 82 lbs. during the 150-day transformation contest, called the 1st Phorm Transphormation Challenge — and he won the $50,000 grand prize.

Now 198 lbs., Peterson continues to document his journey on Instagram and inspire others.

“I have so much more energy and I feel like I am always in a great mood. I feel like I have become the dad and husband that I really wanted to be,” says Peterson.  “I feel like I have drive and ambition like I have never had before in my life — and I’m almost 40!”

Source: http://www.health.com

6 Foods That May Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals—And What to Eat Instead

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If you’ve ever tried to shed excess pounds, you know that losing weight can be a complicated (and frustrating) process. Not all foods—or calories, for that matter—are created equal, and just as some foods can expedite your weight loss journey, others can derail it quickly.

Here, three health experts explain which types of foods fall into the latter category—and what you should eat instead.

Foods with emulsifiers

Why they are harmful: Many processed foods, like ice cream, mayonnaise, margarine, chocolate, bakery products, and sausages, contain emulsifiers, which are chemicals that help blend together ingredients that would not naturally mix well together (e.g. oil and water), explains NYC-based registered nurse Rebecca Lee. Emulsifiers also make food look appealing, keep it fresh, and prevent molding. That may all sound harmless, but a study on mice found that consumption of these chemicals may do a number on your body by altering gut bacteria, triggering inflammation and increasing the risk of obesity and heart disease.

Check labels carefully to see if the food you’re consuming contains emulsifiers. Common emulsifiers include: lecithins, mono- and di-glycerides, polyglycerol ester, sorbitan ester, PG ester, and sugar ester.

What to eat instead: Where possible, opt for unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Foods with MSG

Why they are harmful: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a highly addictive flavor-enhancer commonly used in fast food (like Chick-fil-A and Kentucky Fried Chicken), Chinese takeout, ramen noodles, canned foods, processed meats, and numerous other prepackaged foods, explains Lee.

Regular consumption of MSG-laden foods is linked to weight gain, as well as many other health issues. A study of 750 Chinese men and women found that those who used the most MSG in their cooking were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than those who didn’t use any, she explains. Even scarier, the increase in obesity risk was independent of physical activity and total calories consumed.

Other MSG-linked conditions include fibromyalgia, fatty liver and liver toxicity, high blood sugars, asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, neurological brain disorders, digestive disorders, and metabolic syndrome, says Lee.

MSG can be disguised by more than 40 different names, explains Lee. Key terms that may denote its presence: glutamate, anything “hydrolyzed”, yeast extract, gelatin, soy protein, soy or whey protein, soy sauce, anything "…protein", and calcium or sodium caseinate. MSG is hard to avoid because the FDA requires it to be listed on the label only if it’s used as a main ingredient, and not if it’s used only as a processing agent, which is a very common practice, explains Lee.

What to eat instead: Seek out foods that are minimally processed and seasoned with simple spices. Even better, flavor your meals with chile peppers for an extra metabolic boost. (Numerous studies suggest that capsaicin, the compound in chile peppers that gives them their heat, also raises metabolism).

RELATED: 5 Foods to Rev Up Your Metabolism

Artificial sweeteners

Why they are harmful: Many people use zero-calorie sugar substitutes as a weight-loss tool, but these sweeteners may actually have the opposite effect, says Lee. In a mice study, those who were fed artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose or aspartame developed glucose intolerance, a metabolic condition associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. “The artificial sweeteners altered the animals’ gut microbiomes towards a balance of bacteria associated with metabolic diseases,” says Lee. What’s more, in a follow-up study on 7 human volunteers, 4 became glucose intolerant after consuming the maximum recommended dose of saccharin for just one week.

What to eat instead: Consuming too much regular added sugar isn’t good for you either, so satisfy your sweet cravings the natural way with whole fruits, cinnamon, nut butters, or sweet potatoes.

RELATED: What’s Better? Sugar-Free, No Added Sugar or Unsweetened

Refined carbs

Why they are harmful: Eating a diet high in refined carbs (think: pasta, bread, sweets) will cause a surge in blood sugar, which will trigger your pancreas to produce insulin to help clear the sugar from your blood, explains New Jersey-based registered dietitian Jeanette Kimszal. That translates into your body digesting and absorbing food more rapidly, which can cause energy crashes later on and damage your metabolism in the long term.

What to eat instead: Reach for complex carbohydrates consisting of whole grains and vegetables, like quinoa or spaghetti squash. “They contain fiber, which will slow digestion and keep your metabolism in check,” explains Kimszal. “Look for whole grain products that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and do not contain the words ‘enriched’ on the package.”

Low-fat products

Why they are harmful: Most of us tend to assume that foods labeled ‘low-fat’ are good for weight loss, which in theory makes sense, given the fact that gram for gram, fat has twice as many calories as proteins and carbs. But in a study published in the journal Appetite, researchers analyzed nutrition information for nearly 6,000 foods in Canada and found that, overall, products with low-fat claims were not significantly lower in calories than their full-fat equivalents. What’s more, “low-fat foods may even lead people to consume extra calories,” says Lee. A separate study investigating the effects of different fats on satiety found that participants were less hungry two hours after eating regular muffins compared to fat-free muffins.

What to eat instead: Instead of avoiding fat, rev up your metabolism by consuming good-for-you fats, like the omega-3’s found in salmon, tuna, mackerel and other cold water fish.

Soda

Why it is harmful: “Because it contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), soda can cause metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around waist) that occur together, increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, NYC-based registered dietitian, author of The F-Factor Diet and creator of F-Factor. Fructose, when consumed in the same quantities as other sugar, has more damaging effects on the metabolism, she adds. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that HFCS may lead to obesity because of its negative effects on the metabolism.

What to drink instead: Get your fizzy fill with Kombucha, a carbonated, fermented tea that’s loaded with probiotics, recommends Zuckerbot. Probiotics have been shown to help regulate digestion, weight and metabolism.

Source: http://www.health.com