You are what you eat, which is why what’s on your plate matters. Want to look and feel your best? Find out the ingredient and type of food that many nutritionists say to always avoid.
The One Ingredient to Always Avoid
If there’s one type of food you should avoid at all costs, foods containing trans fats would be it. “I try to avoid any foods with trans fats, since they can increase the risk for heart disease or stroke,” says Tamara Melton, a registered dietitian nutritionist and an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “While there are other foods I definitely wouldn’t eat in excess, I try to enjoy all other foods/nutrients in moderation.”
Trans fats are used to improve taste and texture in processed or fried foods, so they can be hiding in many things we eat. Even if you check labels, you could still be eating foods with trans fats without even knowing it. That’s because US regulations allow companies to round down to zero grams if their food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Since that can add up to unhealthful levels if you’re not careful, it’s better to look for words like shortening, partially hydrogenated oil, or hydrogenated oil. Common foods that contain trans fats include salad dressings, frozen pies, and cake frosting, so be sure to limit your consumption of these processed foods.
Steer Clear of Sugary, Processed Foods
In general, you can’t go wrong by just avoiding processed foods altogether. It’s not just trans fats you have to worry about: foods made with any type of refined sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup can contain more than a day’s worth of added sugar to your day, which is harmful to your health for more than a few reasons. “It ages the skin and causes joints to stiffen,” says Simone Gloger, a registered dietitian and head nutritionist for the Dukan Diet. Not only that, but opting for something processed means that you’re missing out on the nutrients you need to feel and look your best.
How to Do It
Limiting these foods can be hard when you’re running around town and starving enough to grab the first snack you see at the convenience store. That’s why preparation is key. “I always carry healthy snacks with me throughout the day to avoid getting in a scenario when I am hungry and have to resort to junk food or processed food items,” says nutritionist Kathie Dolgin, author of Sugar Savvy Solution. Allison Enke, a Whole Foods registered dietitian, goes even further. “One food I avoid eating is movie theater popcorn: depending on the size and toppings, [it] can contain anywhere from 500 to 1,500 calories and be a significant source of fat and sodium,” Allison explains. “If I want to snack at the movie theater, I usually smuggle in a healthy, portion-controlled one like a baggie of trail mix or fresh fruit.” When it comes to trans fats, always read labels and limit the fried foods you order at restaurants and fast-food chains, since many use trans fats to deep-fry (some states and countries, however, have rules against using trans fats in restaurant foods).
Isn’t breakfast wonderful? Not only is it delicious and full of so many of our favorite foods, but you can also use it as a tool to lose weight. Want to know how? We’ve enlisted the expertise of two nutritionists – Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition – to share the perfect equation for how to make a scrumptious and satisfying breakfast that will help you lose weight. Follow their advice below to start seeing results.
Aim for a range between 300 and 400 calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with the 300 to 350 range, and if you’re trying to maintain weight, especially if you’re working out, shoot closer to 350 to 400 calories.
About 45 to 55 percent of your breakfast calories should be devoted to carbs, which is about 40 to 55 grams of carbs. Skip sugary and overly processed foods or those made with enriched white flour, and choose whole grains, fruits, and veggies.
About 15 to 20 percent of your breakfast calorie amount should be protein, which works out to about 13 to 20 grams. Getting enough protein at breakfast is important for keeping you satisfied throughout the morning. And studies have shown that getting at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast may help you lose weight as well. Eggs, dairy products, soy milk, protein powder in smoothies, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are great sources of protein.
Shoot for about 10 to 15 grams, which is about 30 to 35 percent of your total breakfast calories. Instead of saturated fats like bacon and cheese, go for monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) like olive oil, nuts and seeds and the butters made from them, and avocado.
Aim for about 25 percent of your recommended daily total of 25 grams per day. That works out to about six grams, but it’s OK to go above that, as long as it doesn’t bother your digestive system. Berries, pears, apples, greens and other veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can help you reach that goal.
If you follow the equation for carbs above, then you won’t have to worry about going overboard on sugars, especially if you’re eating a combination of foods like fruits, whole grains, and dairy products. But for a ballpark number to keep in mind, stick to 36 grams or fewer. And when it comes to added sugar, try not to exceed six grams – that’s about 1.5 teaspoons’ worth of any sweetener (white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave).
Ideally you should eat breakfast within 30 to 60 minutes of waking up. If you’re not keen on eating anything big first thing, split this meal up into two parts, having something light close to waking up and the other half about an hour and a half later. This also works well if you’re a morning exerciser and prefer not to have a full stomach while you work out. If you’re exercising, you can aim to have the more carbohydrate-based portion of your breakfast (fruit, toast, etc.) prior to working out and the more protein-centric portion afterward.
A Few Examples of Perfect Breakfasts
- Steel Cut Oats With Fruit and Nuts: Steel cut oats not only have more fiber than an equal amount of rolled oats, but they also have more protein since you’re eating more of the original grain. Cook one-half cup steel cut oats in a mixture of one-half cup water and one-half cup unsweetened soy milk. Top with one-half cup blueberries, one tablespoon chopped walnuts, and one teaspoon drizzle of maple syrup.
Total fat: 9.7 g
Saturated fat: 1.0 g
Carbs: 51.1 g
Fiber: 7.2 g
Sugars: 16.6 g
Protein: 11.8 g
- Mexi-Egg Wrap: Scramble one egg and one egg white with two tablespoons black beans, one-quarter cup chopped tomato, and two tablespoons onion, until eggs are set. Stir in one cup spinach. Fill a nine-inch whole-wheat tortilla with the egg mixture and top with one-quarter of an avocado, cubed, and one tablespoon salsa. Add salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste.
Total fat: 15.7 g
Saturated fat: 3.5 g
Carbs: 36.8 g
Fiber 9.7 g
Sugars: 3.2 grams
Protein: 17.4 g
- Smoothie and a Hard-Boiled Egg: Pair a carrot cake smoothie made with two medium carrots, half a frozen banana, two cups spinach, one cup unsweetened soy milk (you can use almond), half a scoop plant-based protein powder, one-eighth cup golden raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This is easy to split – have half of the smoothie before your workout, then have the rest plus the egg after the workout.
Total fat: 12.6 g
Saturated fat: 5.1 g
Carbs: 49.5 g
Fiber: 9.4 g
Sugars: 25.5 g
Protein: 25.4 g
Photo: Jenny Sugar
Breakfast Mistakes to Avoid
- Skipping out: When you sleep, your body slows down while you’re not eating. So when you wake up, if you don’t break the fast (yup, that’s where the name comes from), your body will burn calories slowly. To jump-start your metabolism and get your body burning calories, you need to eat. Not fueling up also deprives your brain of glucose, which is why you feel foggy-headed and cranky. Think of breakfast as an opportunity to get your fill of valuable nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamin C.
- Skimping: You know skipping breakfast entirely is a no-no, but not eating enough will also backfire. It’ll leave you feeling hungry soon after eating, which will cause you to need more food and can translate to more calories consumed over the course of the entire day. Stick to the formula above, and you’ll not only feel satisfied longer, you’ll also have more energy for the workouts that can make you drop pounds even faster.
- Imbalanced meal: Leaving out a key component of the breakfast formula such as avoiding all carbs or going too heavy such as having an all-protein meal means you’re not going to get enough satisfaction or nutrition from this first meal. Following the formula above will allow you to eat a balanced meal while also helping you see weight-loss results.
Whether you’re new to the smoothie-making scene with a barely-out-of-the-box NutriBullet in your kitchen or your blender has hundreds of smoothies under its blades, you can easily learn how to make a delicious, satisfying smoothie that can also help you slim down. We’ve enlisted the expertise from three nutritionists – Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition and Elyse Wagner, CN, from My Kitchen Shrink – to share the perfect equation for how to make a filling, lip-smacking-good smoothie that will help you lose weight.
Photo: Jenny Sugar
If you’re no stranger to the struggles of trying to lose weight, the solution might be a few tweaks to your regimen. We enlisted the expertise from three nutritionists – Stephanie Clarke, RD and Willow Jarosh, RD of C&J Nutrition, as well as Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin and CLIF Bar nutrition partner. Check out what they say are the biggest mistakes most people make when trying to slim down.
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