Saturday, August 11, 2018

Added Sugar: BMI = 27.0

Sugar is sugar, but not all sources of sugar are equal. I recently encountered someone who argued that there is no chemical difference between the fructose in their sugary beverage and the fructose in the fruit that I eat at breakfast. While they were right about fructose being fructose, they were very wrong in thinking that it doesn’t matter how you source that fructose.

To begin with, sugar is not an essential nutrient – it is nothing more than a source of empty calories. The can of soda pictured above contains more sugar than the bowl of fruit next to it and no other useful nutrients. Both are sources of sugar, but the bowl of fruit provides essential fiber, vitamins and minerals. Also, that bowl of fruit fills my belly much more than a can of soda ever could.

Even though that bowl of fruit contains lot of great micronutrients, that doesn’t mean you can eat as much fruit as you want. The Canada Food Guide recommends that I eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommends that I include one serving of dark green and one serving of orange vegetable in those 8 servings. That means that if I skip all other vegetables, I should only have 2 bowls of fruit as pictured above.

If I choose to have a sugary beverage in place of fruit, then I am cheating myself of essential nutrients. If I choose to have a couple of sugary beverages as well as all that fruit, then I am simply doubling or tripling my sugar intake for the day. Not all sources of sugar are equal.

By the way, I am now 6 weeks into my experiment of eating an extra 900 calories per day and I’ve put on 3 lbs. I think that I will have gained nearly 5 lbs by the end of August and then I intend to cut out that extra 900 calories to see if my rate of weight-loss goes back to what it was in the early days of my reformed diet.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Metabolic Adaptation: BMI = 26.9

In the first 100 days after I changed my diet, I lost 60 lbs. I went from eating about 4000 calories per day of comfort food to eating about 2500 calories per day of mostly healthy food with some snacks that I slowly cut out of my diet over the first 7 weeks.

In the second 100 days of eating a healthy diet I lost about 25 lbs. During that period, I went from eating about 2500 calories per day of fairly healthy food with some cheating, to eating about 1800 calories per day on a very balanced diet with very little cheating.

In the third 100 days I lost about 12 lbs, eating an average of 1800 calories per day of very healthy food. The forth hundred days were about the same, as were the fifth 100 days. I’m now well into the sixth 100 days of eating right and several weeks ago it became apparent that I was unlikely to lose 10 lbs by the end of this phase.

So how did I go from losing 60 lbs on a 2500 calorie diet to having trouble losing 10 lbs on an 1800 calorie diet that is healthier than ever? Then answer, it seems, is that my metabolism is adapting to a diet that has been very static over the past year. My instincts keep telling me that I need to eat less, but each time I cut back, my weight-loss plateaus. Because of this, I’ve decided to eat more!

About four weeks ago I decided to try to increase my calorie intake to 2700 calories per day. The biggest change is the portion of pasta that I now eat. I’ve increased the portion of my pasta lunch from 450 calories to about 800 calories.

It’s hard to eat 800 calories of pasta and sauce, so to ensure that I get up to 800 calories I add some grated Padano cheese.

I’ve also increased the amount of fruit I have at breakfast, and increased my portion of hot cereal a bit, increasing my breakfast from 650 calories to around 850 calories.

At supper, instead of adding my protein to my veggies, I put it in a sandwich of whole grain bread, which adds an extra 100 to 200 calories more than eating my veggies with crispbread.

Since it takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat, one would think that eating an extra 900 calories per day would cause me to gain almost 2 pounds per week. As it turns out, however, over the past 4 weeks I’ve only gained about 2 pounds, and most of that was gained in the first 10 days.

What I’m trying to do here is get my metabolism to adapt to 2700 calories per day. I’m hoping that if I keep eating like this until the end of August, I will only gain another 2 or 3 lbs. At that point I want to drop back down to 1800 calories per day to see if I can return to the sort of weight loss I experienced in my second 100 days of eating right. In other words, I should be able to take off 25 pounds before Christmas.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Accurate Portions: BMI = 26.7

Even though my healthy eating habits are well established, I still take the time to accurately measure my portions for each meal. It’s easy to overlook a little extra pasta sauce or oversized portion of pasta when I’m hungry.

I weigh my pasta when it is dry to get the most accurate portion possible. If you weigh your pasta after cooking, you might find that you have left-overs, and then you might find yourself eating those leftovers rather than storing them for another meal. Lately I’ve been increasing my pasta portions – for reasons that I will be discussing in a future post.

I measure my vegetable portions to ensure I’m getting all the servings recommended by the Canada Food Guide. I rely on counting servings more than I do on counting calories.

I usually use a scale for recording and recreating my recipes – a habit that I picked up at work. Scales are the best way to measure when baking, although I must admit I don’t do much baking anymore.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Switching Habits: BMI = 26.7

If you have a bad habit that you would like to curb, try sugar-free gum. I’ve recently begun trying to cut down on my cigarette habit and I’ve found sugar-free gum helps a lot. I think it might have helped a lot when I was trying to break my bad habit of snacking.

I also chew gum when I’m around a lot of finger food. Sliced meats, cheese, pickles and crackers are still very temping to me but I’ve found that chewing gum keeps my cravings in check.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

An Easy Food Diary: BMI = 26.7

If you are having trouble figuring out why you keep gaining weight, then try starting a food diary. If you have a smart phone or a tablet, then it only takes a moment to grab a photo of each meal or snack.

How much cheese are you adding to your pasta? Do you really care to remember?

If you grab a bag of snack food or a yogurt cup, take a photo of the nutritional information label to remind yourself later.

At the end of the day you can go back and verify whether you’ve had all your servings of fruits/veggies and grains, and whether or not you’ve overdone it on protein-rich foods and/or snack foods.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sugar-Free Iced Tea: BMI = 26.8

On a hot summer day, nothing beats a tall glass of iced tea. Unfortunately, commercially-made, powdered iced tea has far too much added sugar. The good news is that iced tea is so easy to make that there is no reason at all to buy commercial iced tea.

All you need is a pot of boiling water and some orange pekoe tea. Simply add three teabags per liter of water and let it steep for twenty minutes. Remove the teabags and refrigerate.

When it has chilled, pour it into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon and resist the urge to add any sugar. If you really need a little sugar in there, then go ahead but try to add a little less each time and you might eventually find you don’t need that sugar as much as you had believed.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

My Daily Meal Plan: BMI = 26.9

I typically eat between 1600 and 1800 calories per day. That can be a lot of food if you avoid added sugars and go light on protein dense food. I’m not that worried about calories, though – what concerns me is getting all the servings of fruits/veggies, grains, milk, and meat as recommended by the Canada Food Guide.

Breakfast is my biggest meal everyday. I try to eat two servings of whole grains, two servings of milk, at least two types of fruit, and two walnuts. When I do an audit of my breakfast it normally totals between 600 to 700 calories. Without any added sugars, that is a lot of food but that is why I have very little cravings for snacks.

Lunch these days is usually just whole wheat pasta and sauce.

I use a scaled to portion out both the pasta and the sauce, just to avoid going over 500 calories.

It’s not a terribly exciting meal but sometimes I add some crushed pepper flakes to spice it up.

For my evening meal I like to start with a half liter of diced veggies. Make sure to include one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable.

At least twice a week I have a half can of salmon or tuna with my veggies. Other nights I just have roasted pork, beef, or chicken.

I mix it all up with some mayo and/or my sugar-free vinaigrette. This mayo has some sugar in it, but I do allow a little added sugar from time to time for convenience.

By the time I top my salad with three slices of Wasa crispbread, my supper provides over 500 calories.

By ensuring that I eat three square meals everyday, getting all the servings recommended by the Canada Food Guide and limiting the foods against which they caution, I’ve managed to lower my BMI slowly, but consistently, almost every week for the past 18 months.