January is the month when many of us make resolutions to lose weight. Whether it’s to lose an extra 5 or 10 lbs. or to change our lifestyle completely, we often create lofty and unrealistic weight loss goals. Between those unattainable goals and the dirty “diet” word, our resolution can send us running for the comfort of unhealthy snacks and sweets, destroying our success before we even start. If diet is a four-letter word you don’t want to use never fear, because you can lose weight without a diet. Kimberly Altman, MS, RD, LD/N and Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, sheds the light on how to shed the pounds.
At Pritikin, we never recommend calorie counting or portion control for weight loss. Why? Because 99 percent of the time when you put yourself on that kind of diet, two things happen: One, you get hungry, and two, you get grouchy! Once stress hits you, you feel frustrated and break the diet.
But wait, you’re probably wondering, if there’s no portion control, how can you lose weight?
Here’s where the Pritikin “magic” begins. I guarantee that you will not be hungry on the Pritikin Eating Plan. As a matter of fact, hunger is the biggest sabotage to weight loss. At Pritikin, we believe in caloric density, which is a term found in science literature where every food is evaluated in one-pound increments. So when we look at apples, potatoes, bread, chicken, and martinis, for example, each of these will have a certain amount of calories per pound.
What is the lowest-calorie-dense food on the planet? Veggies! Vegetables have the least amount of calories per pound due to their high fiber and water content; think of picking up a bucket of water—it’s heavy. As food gets drier (bread, crackers, cereal), the calorie density goes up.
What it the highest-calorie-dense food? Surprisingly, not junk food (though it’s still high density). It’s the oils, even the healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and olive oil. If you do nothing to change your diet but add two small handfuls of any kind of nut or seed (almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, walnuts, etc,), you will gain 20 pounds in one year. Nuts!
So, how can you lose weight using Calorie Density and the Pritikin Eating Plan?
Start by increasing your vegetable intake. We recommend a minimum of five servings of vegetables every day, but the more, the better. A serving of vegetables is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked. The vegetables fill you up for the lowest calorie density and give you a ton of nutrition—vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Front-load your meals with vegetables. Eat a big salad, a bowl of soup, or some cut-up crudités before your meal. You will notice that when you start eating, you are the hungriest, so eating vegetables first will help you eat the least caloric load—you’ll feel satisfied on less for the day.
Get rid of all added fats. There is plenty of fat found naturally in foods. You don’t need to add any, and when you do, you are adding the highest-calorie-dense foods around. Once you add full-fat salad dressing to your salad, you top a very low-calorie-density meal with the biggest weight gainer around
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