Monday, January 28, 2013
I met this guy at the gym yesterday who is on a crazy diet - he's trying to lose weight and build muscle at the same time. So he has decided to eat five eggs for breakfast and then two to three pounds of chicken later in the day. That's it, nothing else (no veggies, no fruit, no whole grains - just eggs and chicken). In my opinion, that's absolutely nuts! But he did say one thing that I've wondered about (although he takes this to an extreme as well). He is careful not to eat anything at night before going to bed. In fact, he eats nothing during the eight hours prior to bedtime. Should I refrain from eating at night as well? I've heard the opinion that your body has no time to burn off food eaten in the evening - so it goes straight into fat. So I've wondered if I shouldn't stop eating earlier, say, no more food after 7:00 PM so so? But I protest !!! I love my evening snacks and I'll say why in a minute.
With this question in mind I was drawn to read the Spark People article: Is Evening Eating Destroying Your Weight Loss Efforts? There I found a nugget of very good news that I was eager to hear: "From a metabolic standpoint, there is really no reason not to eat food in the evening. A calorie is a calorie regardless of when it is consumed. A morning calorie is metabolized in basically the same way as an evening calorie." Ah, so I can have my evening snacks afterall!
The article had some common sense advice about how eating most of one's calories during the day avoids the desperate evening hunger that can lead to a nighttime binge. It talked about how overeating at night can interrupt good sleep through indigestion and how that can become a vicious cycle because less sleep generates more ghrelin in the blood stream which stimulates appetite the next day. More sleep, on the other hand, produces leptin which helps suppress food intake. So you don't want your food intake causing sleep problems. Plan your meals so no more than a third of your calories are consumed in the evening - the article did recommend not eating two to three hours before bedtime, perhaps to avoid the indigestion problems.
Well, I found all this to be very good news! I can have my evening snacks! I have discovered that I feel much less deprived, and less like I'm on a "diet" if I can look forward to a healthy snack in the evening. Evening would be the hardest time for me to "fast". I do know well the unhappy vicious late night binge snacking cycle described in the article (a problem before joining spark people), accompanied with indigestion and poor sleep etc. etc. But I have discovered that I also have problems with the other extreme. If I go to bed hungry - that also interrupts my sleep. Hunger makes it hard for me to go to sleep and to stay asleep. So that doesn't work for me either.
I doubled checked my food trackers and I have not been eating more than a third of my calories at night I've been eating between 10 and 25% of my calories in the evening (snacks that I really enjoy by the way). I don't have indigestion problems anymore because these are controlled, planned, good portion control snacks - not binges. I'm sleeping well, and I'm losing weight. So I'll keep looking for those 100 to 150 delicious calorie healthy snack ideas and with this new information I can keep enjoying them in the evening. It works for me, I enjoy it, and I'm glad to know there is no problem with what I like to do. The huge difference for me has been learning to snack and track! I check to see how many calories are left for the day before evening snacking and I plan my snacks accordingly, being careful to stay within my daily calorie goal. A few radishes work if there are no calories left for the day. So I can usually have popcorn and other fun healthy things in the evening, sort of as a reward for good eating all day long. I'm glad to know that a calorie is a calorie, no matter when you eat it. That works for me!
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
What do you do when you have a great tossed salad but discover that there is no salad dressing to be found in the house? That was my predicament recently. Not wanting to go to the store, I decided on a whim to try using balsamic vinegar as my salad dressing. I was rather stunned by the results. It tasted good to me, really good on my salad.
Then I had to wonder why do we have this custom of putting oil with vinegar on our salads? What does the oil add except lots of calories? Can I really taste the oil? Well, no. I couldn't really say that the oil adds anything that I would ever miss now that I think about it. I just added oil by habit, I guess.
A little more thinking got me really sold on the idea of letting the balsamic vinegar handle the salad all by itself. Salad dressings have 60 to 120 calories or more per two tablespoon serving (oil and vinegar has 140). Balsamic vinegar, on the other hand has ten, virtually calorie free. Wow, why waste one's calories on salad dressing when there is such a delightful alternative? I could give up the salad dressing without any sense of loss and have a chocolate covered cherry for dessert instead! With this line of reasoning in place, I bought myself a bottle of dandy balsamic vinegar just for my salads and I've been munching happily away ever since.
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