Tuesday, May 04, 2010


This week the group was supposed to look more closely at what they ate. After a week of keeping a daily food journal, it should be pretty easy to make sure they’re getting the right amount of food. Remember from last week, studies show that people who write down what they eat lost more weight than those who didn’t.

The journal will also tell them where they have holes in their diet. That could be from either missing meals or snacks, or from missing even part of their meals. To be well rounded, each meal should have a source of protein, starch (complex carbs), and fruits or greens.

Protein is for building muscle and bone. Without protein in your diet, you will slowly waste away. Your bones won’t be as strong as they could be either. This explains in part why our elderly become frail, with bones that are easily broken.

Studies show that people in their 80’s can increase muscle mass after just six weeks of regular exercise such as walking and basic strength training. And if our seniors would dedicate 45 minutes to an hour a day to regular exercise, and ensuring they get enough protein in their diet, they’d be amazed at how good they’d feel.

My dad will be 87 in July, and he spends at least an hour a day in the gym doing a very similar routine to what our Biggest Losers are doing in the first month of training. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, he hits the strength circuit, doing most of the machines, three times around. On Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, he focuses on Cardio, riding the exercise bike, and walking.

He also gets up in the morning and goes for a walk outside for 20-30 minutes. That’s right. He does two workouts a day! His weight is down to what it was back when he was in basic training in the army during World War II. I’m sure he had a bit more muscle back then, but come on, he’s 86! Sometimes I tell him he needs to focus on getting a little more protein.

Sources of protein include meats, poultry, fish, dairy products like milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, nuts, and some beans. You need to make sure you get some protein in every meal. Some people need to supplement this with a protein shake, if they’re very active.

Starches are the next category to look at. Starches are complex carbohydrates, meaning that the starch molecules are more difficult for the body to break down. This means they’ll give the body longer lasting energy, compared to simple sugars that are used right away.

Sources of starch include whole grain breads and cereals, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, corn, rice, and some beans like the navy and pinto beans. Also a good source of vitamins and minerals, and some fiber, complex carbs need to be part of every meal too.

Dad tends to stick with the basic starches like whole grain breads and cereals. The bread should feel heavy, compared to the other choices. You should also be able to smell it when you pick it up. That means you’ll have more of the good stuff in there.

The last category was fruits and greens. These need no description—a fruits a fruit, and greens are all the other vegetables out there. Most people eat very little of either, and that’s unfortunate because they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that will help your body work better, and make you feel great.

Dad really scores well here. He eats fruits for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. He likes the fact that they’re very low in calories, so he can eat them without worrying about gaining weight. They have lots of fiber too, so as he says, “they fill you up.”

The other main benefit of eating fruits is quick energy. Unlike the more complex starches, fruits are simple sugars (fructose), so your body breaks it down in a hurry. If you ever feel a little run down and need a quick pick-me-up, have some fruit. You’ll feel better within minutes.

Dad eats a ton of veggies, too, mostly in a home-made soup that he puts together a couple times a week. It’s got every vegetable under the sun in there. There will be some quick energy from the vegetables, but the main benefit there is all the natural vitamins and minerals, and the fiber.

As the Biggest Losers start getting their diet squared away, each meal will start to have all three key components: protein, starch, and fruits or greens. Once they start eating that way, they’ll start feeling better, and their body will use everything they eat (assuming they’re eating the right amount). That means nothing will be stored as fat, and their bodies will be working great.

Speaking of fats, it’s not necessary to worry about them too much. All you need to do is make sure you eat leaner cuts of meats, trim the fat where possible, and choose low fat dairy products during the day. It’s also a no brainer that you need to avoid junk foods and fried foods too. This will keep you from getting too much of the bad fats.

For the good fats, you’ll be getting that low fat dairy every day, and hopefully eating some other things like fish, and nuts that are high in Omega-3. Finally, it’s best to take a good supplement that has all three of the Omegas: Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. Experts used to focus only on Omega-3, but lately, they’ve been leaning toward a balanced supplement.

Don’t forget to get plenty of water each day, too. The more active you are, the more you need, but most people aren’t even getting the minimum daily recommendation: 48 oz. Personally, I think that’s about half what an active guy needs. I’d shoot for 3-4 bottles a day if you’re an active female, and 4-5 bottles a day if you’re a guy.

This week’s winner was Mindi Milner, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and 4.2 lbs. Second place went to Carrieann Phegley, who lost 1.8% and 3.2 lbs. Venessa Becker took third, losing 1.5% and 2.0 lbs. John Kaufman was fourth, losing 1.4% and 3.0 lbs. Cheryl Clark was fifth, losing 1.3% and 2.8 lbs, and Karen Brown and Nicole Clodfelter tied for sixth place, both losing 1.1%. Karen lost 2.4 lbs while Nicole lost 2.8 lbs.

Finally, a big shout out to everyone who completed the Christie Clinic Illinois Half or Full Marathon over in Champaign this weekend! I wish I could have been there with you, but a stupid sinus infection knocked me out of the running. Sigh. Great job you guys.

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