It’s the calories, not the carbs. Noshing my chicken barbecue meal after running 21-K in last year’s Camsur Ironman 70.3.

“Diet” is “Die” with a “T.”

This popular quote from famous fat cat Garfield, along with the image of him agonizing over his lettuce leaf dinner, might just capture how you feel when you’re on a diet. But like last song syndrome or the ubiquitous presence of Kris Aquino, there are laws to weight loss that you can’t avoid, if you’re seeking to drop those pounds for good.

#1 A diet is forever.
Garfield’s definition of “diet” as “die” with a “t” isn’t quite that. The origin of the word comes from the Greek word “diaita” which means “mode of life” or “manner of living.” Once you reach your dream weight, the diet doesn’t stop there. Studies show that 80 percent of people who lose weight gain that weight back once they tell themselves the diet is done. But a diet is something you pursue for life. Throw in exercise to definitely keep the pounds off. In your routine, you can burn more calories when you spin or run first then lift weights, says the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

#2 Make your portions smaller.
My most fave dish at Mr Jones in Greenbelt 5 is their baked mac and cheese with truffle oil. It was served to me in this ginormous plate-cum-bowl. I made a mental note to eat half; “I can’t finish this,” I thought. Well, whaddya know? I scarfed down the entire dish and almost licked it clean! Before that, I had already munched on four pieces of bread. That was a deee-licious dinner, but I ran an extra 3 kilometers on the treadmill the next morning. Before eating out, have some broth or soup at home to fill you up a bit. Drink some glasses of water. Once your meal arrives, think of it as two servings. Share it with a friend or have the waiter pack up the other half for lunch the next day before you tuck in. You’ll squeeze into those skinny jeans someday if you practice this.

#3 Carbs don’t matter but calories do
So yes, you’ve gone on low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach and you dropped two sizes because of it. Good for you! But remember that these diets worked because it made you eat less. It’s not how much you cut back on carbs, says a review of low-carb diet plans in the medical journal The Lancet but how long you stay on a diet and how much you restrict your calorie intake. So you can be cutting back on carbs, but if you’re loading up on steaks and potato chips, you’re negating any lasting weight loss effects. The calories you eat should consist of 35 to 50 percent carbs, 25 to 35 percent fat and about 25 to 30 percent protein.  A pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories. So shave 500 calories a day from the number of calories needed to maintain your lifestyle (are you active or sedentary? How many calories should you eat a day? See the chart “Consume fewer calories than you burn” on the following page to calculate.) and you’ll lose the fat for life.

#4 Make friends with fiber.
This rule can be a corollary of #2 to get you to eat smaller portions. Fiber is can be your best friend. That’s because there are less calories in foods rich in water and fiber and they can make you feel full faster. A Women’s Health guide points out that “a cup of strawberries has about the same calorie count as a small cookie but is far more satisfying.” Start your meals with a big bowl of broth-based soup (again!) or a large green salad and go easy on fat-laden sauces.

#5 Eat… and do just that.
I’m glad our office disallows eating at our desks at all times. I have a tendency to finish the entire family size bag of Marty’s Cracklin salt and vinegar when I am doing something else like watching videos, surfing the Net, or checking Facebook. A 2001 study shows that we eat too much when we’re doing other things. Women ate about 50 calories more at lunch when they listened to an audio book than when they ate alone with no distraction, said the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Remember that it takes 15 minutes after you’ve eaten for your brain to tell your stomach that it’s full. So eat slowly, focus on your food.

georgina_wilson_womens_health_cover.jpgFor more of the health, nutrition, fitness and weight loss tips you can do today, grab your copy of Women’s Health! The May issue is out in newsstands now.

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Consume Fewer Calories Than You Burn!

To lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories than you burn. Here’s how to compute the number of calories you need to eat daily:
a) What is your weight in pounds?
b) Multiply a by 11 to get your basic calorie needs (how much your body burns just by existing)
c) Multiply b by 1.6 to estimate your resting metabolic rate (rate of calorie burn when you factor in your daily activities)
d) Multiply the number of minutes per week that you  run, cycle, or play sports by 8
e) If you do a vigorous two sets of weight training exercises, add 600 to your answer in d. If you do not, leave your answer in d as is
f) Divide your answer in d or e by 7
g) Add c and f to get your daily calorie needs
h) If you’re happy with your weight now, stop here. Otherwise, subtract 500 from g. This is your estimated daily calorie budget if you want to lose 1 pound per week, Subtract 1,000 to lose 2 pounds a week. Anything more and you’ll lose more muscle than fat.





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