Are you entering January with that (ahem) full-figured feeling? You’re not alone, of course. Year after year, losing weight remains one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.

Read these 10 smart tips to get yourself back to fighting weight and shape—and keep it off. Next year, it won’t even make your resolutions list.

1. Eat real food. Start to add more whole, real foods into your daily meals while cutting back on the processed foods. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store for fresh fruits and vegetables. When you fill your body with the right kinds of food, you’ll feel full and have more energy.

2. Eat meals throughout the day—like, five. Eating multiple meals during the day—especially with a 40/30/30 zone-style eating plan—helps you lose weight while getting all your nutrients and having lots of energy. The important part: Don’t starve yourself! When you go too long without eating, your body is going to crave sugar and carbs ASAP. That’s why you reach for cookies or potato chips instead of fruits and vegetables.

3. Say no to after-dinner snacking. A lot of mindless eating happens in the evening hours after dinner. Cutting out this alone can be the first step to losing weight. If you need to wean yourself, go for apple sauce instead of ice cream. Save a piece of fruit for that evening craving or have a cup of tea with raw honey, which is a superfood. Try setting a “last call” for your day’s eating.

4. Drink plenty of water. When you don’t give your body enough water, your metabolism drags, according to a WebMD slideshow on Diet Mistakes. Drink a glass of water upon rising and with each meal; sip water throughout the day, and if you feel unexpectedly hungry, try drinking some water. Sometimes those hunger sensations are really signs of dehydration. Don’t fill up on sweet drinks and sodas—even drinking too many diet sodas (like more than one a day) can contribute to weight gain.

5. Get plenty of sleep. Have you ever noticed that when you’re run down, you crave junk food? That’s because your body responds to lack of sleep in the same way as it does when in starvation mode: It craves sugars and carbs now. Maybe this is the year you take a 20-minute nap, learn to take some downtime, or get to bed a half hour earlier at night.

6. Move! Exercise burns fat and contributes to weight loss—and has been known to boost mood and suppress appetite. Find something you love to do: Walk, run, swim, bike; do yoga, gymnastics, weights, aerobics classes; join a rock-climbing gym; or take belly-dancing classes. Find a community you can tap into—classes, a team, a buddy system—with people you like, who inspire you to show up and make it fun.

7. Get to the bottom of emotional eating. If you’re a stress eater, give yourself a new buffet table of options to turn to when you get twitchy. Write down a list of alternative activities: walking, reading, exercising, socializing, listening to music, meditating, journal writing. This is about changing habits, which takes dedication and time—but if you stick with it, you’ll reach for a pen, some music, or your running shoes instead of the bag of chips. Which brings us to…

8. Don’t keep it in the house. If you don’t want to eat it, don’t buy it. You don’t want it whispering to you from the cupboards. Which brings us to…

9. You don’t have to be perfect. We’re not asetics here. Eating is part of our lives and often the center of social gatherings. So, instead of stocking the freezer with ice cream and eating a pint before bed, make ice cream an outing—take a walk with a friend and go grab a cone. Or, meet some pals at a favorite bakery for your pie fix and a have great catch-up session.

10. Make changes you can live with. Find what works for you and your lifestyle—and make inspired decisions that fit your personality. Bring in an experimental, playful attitude as you make discoveries about foods you like, create fun exercise plans, and enjoy improved energy levels and a better mood. As you start to add the good stuff, the empty bad-habit calories just might fall away naturally—poof!

When you’re losing weight for life, don’t focus on what you’re giving up—look at what you get to add to your life.

And don’t forget—food isn’t the enemy! We wouldn’t be here without it.

Links:
Read up on how SuperFoods can help you sustain weight loss.
Read up on how to burn fat faster when you exercise.
Learn more about how Chef by Request supports permanent weight loss.
Learn more about Chef by Request.
Get—and stay—lean and mean! Sign up for Chef by Request.

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Fueling for High Performance

December 15, 2009

When you start fueling for high athletic performance, you are entering a new state of mind. You begin to view your body as something to be fed, nurtured, and tended to. You start to really know that if you are good to your body, your body will be good to you.

When we talk about high-performance sports, we’re including anything from a CrossFit-style strength workout, training for a marathon, or a dedicated fitness plan that focuses on weight loss or competition.

Check out the following for some of the best overall tips on how to eat for a sports-oriented life—focusing on the Chef by Request zone-style or Performance Paleo diets.  

Increase the quality of your food. Replace processed food with fruits, vegetables, animal proteins, and good fats and oils. Eat animal protein (protein is the body’s basic building block) to help the body repair itself. Carbo-load with fruits and vegetables instead of pasta (carbs are your body’s basic energy source). Eat the right kind of fats (oils high in omega-3, fish, avocados) for long-lasting energy, especially for endurance sports. “When you’re eating clean, the body processes all these foods efficiently and takes the nutrition it needs to feed muscles,” says Rob Martin, owner of CrossFit West Seattle.

Eat the right amount of calories. Controlling portion size and knowing how much to eat for your body type and workout volume is essential. The right amount of calories keeps your energy and blood sugar levels balanced, which lets you bring your best self to your workouts and training. So how do you figure out the right amount of calories? If you’re a Chef by Request customer, all meals are custom-proportioned to fit your height, weight, activity level and weight-loss goals. Otherwise, you can do a Web search for a calorie calculator (and then apply the 40-30-30 rule to your calories). Or, you can do as Martin suggests: contact a nutritionist who has experience working with high-performance athletes. You can play around with your diet to see what works. “If you pay attention to what you’re eating and how much you’re eating, you’ll become more in tune with your performance,” says Scott Schactler, a coach at Northwest Crossfit. One way to stay consistent and see what works is to try Chef by Request meals: they are all pre-portioned.

Prepare pre-workout meals. Don’t go to the gym or hit the running trails on empty. A pre-workout meal gives your body essential resources to work from. Schactler suggests eating 20 to 30 minutes before a workout—try something like an apple, two slices of turkey, and six almonds. Or have a shake that you like (a pre-made or homemade one). For some of you, creating a pre-workout meal will take practice. Start small and build up. Experiment a bit to see what works.

Remember post-workout meals. Eating after a workout is one of the most important rules for sports performance. Recovery is a crucial part of training (including rest days and sleep), and fueling your body after it’s been depleted and maxed-out lets it repair and get stronger, faster, and build endurance. Martin suggests eating a 40-30-30 meal of carbs, animal protein, and fat within the first couple of hours after a strength training workout (he often has whole milk or chocolate milk immediately afterward). If you’ve gone on a long run or bike ride, you’ll want to get unprocessed sugar to your muscles in the first half hour after exercise. Schactler suggests a couple palmfuls of good starchy food like sweet potatoes, yams, or raisins. Follow that up with a balanced meal an hour or two later.

Eat multiple times during the day. Five healthful meals a day helps you get in all of your daily nutrients from a variety of food sources. “Eating a zone diet gives you an idea of how your body runs,” says Schactler. “You become more in tune with your performance if you pay attention to what you’re eating and how much you’re eating.”

You don’t have to do it perfectly. Martin, a Chef by Request customer, has been eating the zone-style diet now for five months. He gives himself one day each week when he can eat and drink whatever he wants. And he kept the coffee part of his diet. The benefits of combining this new eating lifestyle with his CrossFit workouts have been huge.

“My energy level is higher and stays straight all day long,” he says. “I have not been able to find anything to lean me out like these two programs have. I’m 42 and in the best shape of my adult life.”

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Want to read more?
Nutrition information at the main CrossFit Web site
The Paleo Diet for Athletes” by Loren Cordain and joe Friel
The Zone” by Barry Sears

 

More links:
Get Chef by Request’s Performance Paleo meals.
Get Chef by Request’s zone-inspired meals.
Read about Chef by Request’s partnership with CrossFit.
Get healthy and fit: Sign up!

Are SuperFoods for Real?

December 4, 2009

SuperFoods: another diet trend—or is this for real?

What has become known as “SuperFoods” is very real—as real as blueberries, salmon, garlic, and raw honey. But it’s the term “SuperFoods” that’s become a bit of a trend, after the publication of the blockbuster 2003 book, SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life, by Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews.

The book introduced us to 14 “SuperFoods”— whole foods that are so densely packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants that they help improve our overall health, fight disease, and slow aging. A couple of years later, Pratt and Matthews wrote a second book, SuperFoods Healthstyle, and nine new foods were added.

These 23 SuperFoods include walnuts, oranges, spinach, broccoli, green and black teas, blueberries, pumpkin, oats, turkey, tomatoes, soy, yogurt, wild salmon, beans, avocados, cinnamon, garlic, onions, kiwi, dates, honey, pomegranates, and dark chocolate.

According to an AOL Health & Fitness interview with co-author Dr. Steven Pratt, all SuperFoods had to stand up to the following three requirements before being included in the list:

  • Easily available in American supermarkets.
  • Part of healthful diets in cuisines around the world.
  • Sufficient scientific research to prove they could contribute to preventing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

These days, you can browse the Web and find articles by nutritionists (like this WebMD article) that expand on the original 23 SuperFoods to include eggs, red meat, dark leafy greens like kale, buckwheat pasta, and goji berries. But there is a common thread: These are foods that have been around for thousands and thousands of years. 

A trio of benefits

SuperFoods offer three nutritional benefits: nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Here’s a rundown on each one, and which SuperFoods deliver the most (note that most SuperFoods deliver well across all three).

Nutrients: We’re talking vitamins and minerals. Vitamins help our bodies function; minerals are the body’s building blocks. We don’t work without them. Nutrient-rich SuperFoods include kiwis, yogurt, salmon, broccoli, onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes.  

Fiber: It’s not just your grandmother’s prunes. Fiber helps the digestive system, improves the absorption of nutrients, gives that long-lasting full feeling after eating, increases insulin effectiveness, and decreases the overall risk of disease. Your grandmother might have called her SuperFoods “roughage.” Fiber-rich SuperFoods include: vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.

Antioxidants: These nifty molecules repair the body’s wear-and-tear, which comes from eating processed food, getting too much sun exposure, excessive exercising, and taking in environmental chemicals. All produce free radicals in your body. These free radicals are believed to be connected to cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants can reduce free radicals or eliminate them. For that reason, antioxidants have become a vital part of staying healthy in a modern world. SuperFoods rich in antioxidants include: berries, kiwis, apples, cranberries, chocolate, and beans.

Chef by Request SuperFood meals

If you’re a Chef by Request customer, you might notice by now that your meals are filled with these SuperFoods. If you’re not, here’s a peek at how our chefs, Katia Sabbah (San Francisco) and Patrick Fagan (Seattle and Portland) pack healthful, energy-boosting foods into their creative, delicious meals. Some of these are great examples of how to stack a meal with SuperFoods.

Seattle and Portland Supermeals:

  • Meatloaf or turkeyloaf rolled in whole oats
  • Pumpkin and brown rice salad
  • Energy bars with pomegranate extract, oats, honey, and very dark chocolate
  • Blueberry pancakes
  • Cranberry chicken salad with toasted walnuts drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and walnut oil
  • Lentil and vegetable salad

San Francisco Supermeals:  

  • Blueberry sour cream muffins
  • Pomegranate-glazed salmon
  • Spiced chickpeas with yogurt and pine nuts
  • Tomato tartlets with ricotta
  • Pumpkin muffins with cinnamon
  • Sweet potato and pumpkin biscuits
  • Spinach salad with cranberry and turkey breast  

How much SuperFood?

Let’s face it; most of us don’t measure our servings, so start by recognizing what these foods are and why they’re important. You’re probably eating some of them already. Next, strive to eat more whole real foods and a greater variety of them over the course of the next few days, weeks, and months.

Who knows, you may not only love the foods you discover, you may fall in love with how you feel. 

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More links:

Learn more about how Chef by Request supports your great health.
Learn more about Chef by Request.
Stay healthy! Sign up for Chef by Request service.
SuperFoods RX