The MSN homepage had an interesting little slideshow, “11 Small Tricks for Big Weight Loss.” Check it out and see what you think. Of course, I had to disagree with a few of the “tips”…
1. Blot. “Use a paper napkin to blot a teaspoon of fat off a pizza slice.”
OK, I agree with the first one. Reducing saturated fat is a good thing. Blot the grease off the pizza… we’re off to a good start…
2. Drink More Milk. “Consuming 1,800 milligrams of calcium a day could block the absorption of about 80 calories.”
This is silly advice. First, you would have to consume at least 4 servings of milk to get close to 1800 mg of calcium (which would be over 300 calories). Additionally, there’s solid research to support that dairy is NOT the best source for calcium. Here’s some great info from the Harvard School of Public Health about calcium.
3. Buy Cut Veggies. “They cost more, but they’ll pay dividends later-because you’re more likely to snack on them than on some other, less healthy food.”
Disagree. Pre-cut veggies are sometimes disinfected with chemicals. These chemicals can remain on the veggies and can degrade nutritional value. If you buy them, it’s a good idea to wash them again- even if they claim to have been washed. Here’s more from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (be sure to look at the “Related Projects” in the right sidebar).
Additionally, these convenience items often come in wasteful packaging. Save some plastic and some dough by purchasing whole and cutting them yourself. I get fresh veggies once a week and spend 10 minutes on Sundays and another 10 on Wednesdays chopping them up into snack sizes. I save money and enjoy the meditative chopping and increased connection with my food. I’m a firm believer that the more you connect and find gratefulness for your food, the less you will eat. This equates to weight loss.
4. Get watered down. “A recent German study showed that drinking water burns calories. Drinking about two cups of cold water-no warmer than 72 degrees-used up roughly 25 calories. Drink a liter a day and you’re talking five pounds a year.”
There’s a lot of controversy over the perfect drinking water temperature. It’s known that the body will absorb warm water more easily than it will absorb cold water. Because of this, it may be possible that drinking warmer water would hydrate you more efficiently and could then decrease overall caloric intake (because you would be more hydrated).
In my opinion, research on water temp and increased caloric burn is just a waste of money. The simple point is to drink enough water to stay hydrated. If you like your water cold, hot, with lemon, with lime or with 1oz of cranberry juice mixed in (mix the cranberry with 8 oz of water- makes for a nice change); however you like your water, make it that way and drink more of it.
5. Go smaller. “Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Studies show that putting your portions on smaller dishes means you’ll end up eating less at a meal.”
Yay! I agree!
6. Dilute juice. “Add water to your fruit juice to reduce calories.”
I kind of agree… I mix the “potent” juices (cranberry, cherry, pomegranate, etc.) with water to make my own healthy faux Gatorade. But, I would never put water in my high pulp orange juice. Ick. No watery OJ for me. Of course, liquid calories are not so great. Our bodies don’t “register” liquid calories quite like solid food, so it’s likely that you’ll still be hungry after that glass of OJ (versus eating a full orange). My solution is to have a small glass (4 oz or so) of a quality OJ and enjoy the sweet flavor and texture of the juice- no added water.
7. Make your drinks count. “Have a V8 or tomato juice instead of a Diet Coke.”
Very much agreed.
8. Have a power snack prepared. “Mix three different kinds of beans and sprinkle in some low-cal Italian dressing. Have it as a snack all week.”
Good advice, beans are nutritional super-stars, so eating them as a snack is a great idea. I’m a hummus and cowboy salsa fan- both of these are full of beans. I’ll post my recipes for them tomorrow. If you have some healthy bean recipes that would make good snacks, please share them!
9. Think about eating. “Eat without doing anything else-no TV, no reading, no working.”
Ahhh yes, eating mindfully. This is a great way to connect with your food. If you have less distractions and more attention to the experience of eating, you will take in fewer calories. You will also enjoy your food more. Serving Fire is an amazing book that discusses more about mindful eating and connecting with your food.
10. Stop mindless snacking. “Chew a strong-flavored gum like cinnamon while you’re cooking. Sneaking a taste of the food will be less appealing.”
I’ve never been a big fan of this tip. I believe that a full-flavored herbal tea is a better choice. If you sip a strongly flavored tea (like a mint or cinnamon) while cooking, it’s likely that you will stay away from grazing. As a bonus, you’ll be hydrating your body, getting the benefits of the real herbs and you won’t be ingesting some of the crappy ingredients that are in a lot of gums. I also like to put some veggie sticks out to nosh on while I cook.
11. Tighten your belt. “When you feel a craving and temptation to gorge, tighten your belt a notch-as a reminder of the size you’d like to be.”
This sounds like it might backfire. If I did this, I would have the following conversation with myself, “Stupid belt. Now my love handles are hanging over the sides. This is so tight. I think I’m constricting blood flow to my legs. I have red marks now, how embarrassing. Screw it. Pass the donut.” I would then remove my belt, unbutton the top button and likely have another donut.
This tip seems like a really negative behavior to engage in. Additionally, focusing on external goals (what size you want to be, having a 6-pack, etc.) is often not a helpful focus for weight loss. It would be more advantageous to focus on health benefits (e.g., reducing diabetes risk, sleeping better, decreasing symptoms of depression) than to focus on looking hot in a swimsuit.
So, there’s my breakdown of MSN’s 11 tips. Share your thoughts- what tips do you agree with? What tips do you think are a joke?