Summer is just around the corner—that time of year we start shedding layers, embracing crop tops (or no shirts) and shorts on outdoor adventures. In preparation for the summer, we not only have people wanting to shed their extra winter weight, but their COVID-19 weight also. This year I saw many clients coming in complaining about an extra 5 to 50 pounds that they put on from stress eating and lifestyle changes caused by COVID-19 closures. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m here to share the most common tips I give to shed the extra pounds and most importantly, how to keep it off!
Up to 60% of your body is water! Your brain and heart are made of 73% water, your lungs are about 83% water, your skin is 64% water and your muscles and kidneys are 79%. You want everything to function at its best? Stay hydrated! Water is needed for every cell in your body to function. Our bodies need water to metabolize and transport food and nutrients we consume. If we aren’t getting in enough water, we may start feeling hungry because your body knows it can get water from food. Other symptoms of dehydration may be headache, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and lightheadedness. That being said, not getting in enough water may lead to eating more food and fatigue, which may decrease your energy for physical activity.
Exact water needs vary by weight, activity level, and weather. Some recommend half your body weight in ounces. Others, like the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, recommend men consume about 125 ounces a day and women consume about 91 ounces. Their recommendation includes water from foods such as soups, vegetables and fruits, as well as water. My go-to recommendation is to check your urine color. If you’re hydrated your urine should be clear to faint yellow. If it’s not, drink up!
Pro-Tip #1: Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Most of us aren’t drinking water at night and are waking up dehydrated. If you start your day with coffee, you’re adding to the dehydration because the caffeine found in coffee is a diuretic. People who start their day with coffee and not water may be starting their day dehydrated and sluggish (once the caffeine wears down) without even knowing it.
Pro-Tip #2: Drink a glass of water before each meal and snack. This helps you remember to drink water and may help with portion control at the meal.
Pro-Tip #3: Drink water with a straw. Drinking through a straw increases fluid intake. Also, something to consider when having an alcoholic beverage this summer—you may want to lean off the straws in this case.
Getting enough protein at each meal helps balance blood sugars, decrease appetite hormone ghrelin and increase satiety, helping you eat less throughout the day without feeling deprived. Protein also helps weight loss by increasing thermogenesis. Your metabolism starts firing up—(this is thermogenesis)—when digesting proteins much more than when digesting carbohydrates, resulting in more calories burned. Several studies have shown high protein diets are more effective at promoting weight-loss and improving cholesterol levels than higher carbohydrate diets. Multiple studies have shown that people who replace protein for carbohydrates eat 200-400 calories less a day and find it easier to watch portions.
A high-protein diet doesn’t have to be extreme. You want to aim for about 1.8-2g per kg of body weight (2.2lb= 1kg) and spread protein throughout the day. The average American eats only 10g of protein at each meal. To meet this recommendation, I suggest aiming for at least 30g of protein at each meal and 10g for each snack.
Another benefit to protein is that it helps preserve muscle while losing weight. When someone loses weight, almost 50% of that can be from lean muscle and the other 50% from fat. By supplying your body with enough protein it will help decrease muscle loss while losing weight. Great sources of protein include all Designer Protein powders, lean poultry, fish, tofu, edamame, Greek yogurt, Icelandic Yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, tempeh, lentils and beans.
Pro-Tip #1: Batch cook your proteins a head of time. You can make foods such as meat balls, marinated tofu, slow cooker meats, pre-made quiches, hard boiled eggs and egg bites all a head of time to help you make your meal time easier.
Pro-Tip #2: Keep easy proteins on hand. Greek or Icelandic yogurts, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs and all of Designer Protein powders are easy to grab when racing out the door.
I couldn’t make this list without including the obvious: physical activity. This includes activity outside your normal routine. American College of Sport Medicine recommends 300 minutes of organized physical activity for weight loss and weight loss maintenance. This can be split up to whatever is most convenient for you. If you’re pretty far from 300 minutes a week, start slow with realistic goals and increase each week.
ProTip: Get an activity tracker to help you quantify and make a visual of your activity level. It also helps accountability when it’s blinking in your face reminding you to get up.
Get those ZZZ’s. Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry and decrease leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. Clinical research has shown that people report feeling more hungry and tend to crave energy-dense, carb-loaded foods when they experience less than 6 hours of sleep. Now you now why you day dream about cupcakes, chips and treats when you’re tired.
To help get those ZZZ’s, eat foods high in nutrients such as melatonin, tryptophan, B-vitamin’s and magnesium.
- Melatonin helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm. Foods high in melatonin include walnuts, pistachios, tart cherries, kiwis, tomatoes and bell peppers.
- Tryptophan is a building block (amino acid) for serotonin. One role of serotonin in the body is to regulate sleep. Our bodies do not make tryptophan so we must get it from our diet. Great sources of tryptophan include: chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, cheddar cheese, peanuts, and oats.
- B-vitamin’s such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) are needed to make melatonin. Great sources include eggs, dairy, beans, salmon, poultry, Designer Protein Lite, Designer Protein Aria, Designer Protein Energy and Designer Whey.
- Research shows that increasing magnesium in the diet improves insomnia and quality of sleep. Excellent sources of magnesium include nuts, beans, tofu, avocados, Designer Protein Energy, Designer Whey, Designer Plant and Designer Whey Meal Replacement.
Pro-Tip #1: Take a look a your nightly routine. Avoid screen time too close to bedtime.
Pro-Tip #2: Keep a journal by your bed. If thoughts about to-dos for the next day tend to keep you up, write them down as you’re winding down.
Pro-Tip #3: Write a gratitude list before bed about things you are grateful for. This helps change your focus and may help with decreasing stress before bed.
Pro-Tip #4: Eat foods high in the nutrients listed above throughout your day and especially closer to bed time.
My number one tip is finding a way to stay accountable. This is seriously the secret to weight loss success. I have clients who visit me weekly just to check-in. Studies have shown that having external accountability helps increase weight loss. This can be with a professional, a friend, a group, colleagues or whatever works best for you.
Tying it Together
Creating a realistic weight loss plan to help you slim down for summer doesn’t have to be hard, trying even just one of the pro-tips will help you on your journey. My favorite go-to to help clients cut calories, increase protein, meet nutrient needs and decrease cravings is to mix in Designer Protein’s Lite Protein in the diet. With flavors like vanilla cupcake and chocolate cookies and cream, it helps combat sweet tooth cravings, plus helps meet your protein goals and supply the b-vitamin’s you need to charge your metabolism and promote sound sleep. Just 1 scoop contains 10g of protein, 60 calories, 125-200% of your B-vitamin needs and makes a super easy addition shakes, yogurts, oatmeal, chia seed pudding, protein pancakes, energy bars and baked goods.