nutrition questionWhat should I focus if I want to control my weight?

You should focus on total calories, but don’t get too crazy counting. You can start by keeping a log so you get an idea of what you are eating on a daily basis. People hate to do this and it can be annoying, but it is a great idea to see what you are consuming in order to get a baseline. We eat foods that are mixtures of the four calorie-yielding nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol. A balance of these nutrients is important as they all offer value. It’s calories in and calories out overall so weighing ourselves weekly can keep us in check.

Are all carbohydrates bad?

No, definitely not. Carbohydrates can be simple to complex, and indigestible. The trouble comes from refined grains and simple sugars, which can play havoc with our body weight, blood sugar and triglyceride levels, as well as cause inflammation which leads to many chronic diseases. As humans, we prefer sweets but we can train ourselves to reach for an apple or orange instead of a cookie or cake.

Higher fiber carbs, on the other hand, offer many health benefits. Fiber not only promotes health, it also helps reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. Fiber can prevent constipation, prevent some cancers and help lower cholesterol reducing the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, fiber can help lower blood sugar and therefore help manage diabetes. Fiber also fills you up so try to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies as well as at least 6 servings of grains per day (three of which are whole grains) and you will more than likely meet your daily requirements for fiber. Bottom line: eat your fruits, veggies, and whole grains!

Should I be going gluten-free?

At this time the only recognized reason to go gluten-free is if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease. There are some risks in going gluten-free, because a gluten-free diet excludes many grains. Diets deficient in whole grains tend to lack fiber and B-vitamins and are higher in simpler carbohydrates. Whenever you have a restricted diet, you need to stay in touch with your doctor in order to see if there are any nutrient deficiencies that can lead to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, poor concentration and exhaustion. Some people think that going gluten-free will help them to lose weight, but what they don’t realize, is that many gluten-free products have more sugar and calories than regular products. I always tell my patients “Check the label, most times if they are taking something out, they are putting something else in.”

 Are daily vitamins necessary if I eat a healthy diet?

Unless you are pregnant or planning to be pregnant soon, you usually do not need to take a daily vitamin, if you eat a balanced diet that includes at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. However, you should have your vitamin D checked, as many seem to be deficient in this vitamin. Because many people over the age of 50 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods due to a decreased production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, if you are over 50 you should have this checked as well.

Will eating egg whites instead of whole eggs help me lose weight?

Yes, eating fewer yolks means fewer calories, but research shows that whole eggs may help with weight loss by increasing the feeling of fullness. They’re also full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Yolks are rich in vitamin A, which is good for your vision, fertility and immune system, choline a vitamin essential for metabolism and neurotransmitters, and other chemicals that help protect our eyesight such as lutein and zeaxanthin. However, yolks are loaded with calories, cholesterol and fat. One yolk has 55 calories, 210 milligrams of cholesterol and 4½ grams of fat; an egg white has only 17 calories, no cholesterol and no fat. Try making an omelet with one whole egg and two egg whites.

 

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