According to many weight loss and nutritional experts, body weight is affected by a proportion of twenty percent exercise and eighty percent diet. Thus no matter how much we exercise, if we want to maintain or lose weight, we have to consider both the quantity and quality of our food intake as well.
Rita Larsen, R.D.N. (registered dietary nutritionist) and certified adult and child weight management expert, works with people in guiding them in good eating habits and nutrition for all of the Elite Sports Clubs. She is an author and lecturer on proper nutrition, and a specialist in athletic nutrition, and works at Elite with those ranging in age from children as young as six through adulthood.
Larsen feels strongly about proper nutrition. “Many people have made the mistake of not giving enough attention to their food intake for their daily lives and expenditures. For example there are people who try to lose weight by exercising. Exercising is good; however, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good nutrition which should become part of everyone’s goals in their body weight.”
Larsen said she works as a team with Elite’s personal trainers in helping people reach their desired weight goal. “The trainers at Elite, and myself as a nutritionist, work together as a team to produce the best results for each individual. We emphasize that we are very serious about what people put into their bodies in terms of food.”
She continued, “People often mistakenly feel they can exercise extra hard and then go home and eat anything they want. That’s completely wrong. As time goes on I think people are becoming more educated about good food. I feel that special electrolytes and super energy sources can follow a workout, or perhaps a couple of clementines before they exercise.”
“For daily food intake I suggest five to six simple meals. For example a simple meal might consist of plain fruit, a hard boiled egg and some whole wheat or cracked wheat toast. However with every meal always hydrate with a six to eight ounce glass of water.”
“A morning meal could be a quarter cup of almonds, or one granola bar. Lunch could be a glass of skim or almond milk, a simple sandwich, for example, with two ounces of lean meat, lettuce, tomato and cracked or whole wheat bread and a whole fruit and vegetable like red pepper, and an apple.”
“Dinner could be six to eight ounces of lean meat and one or two carbohydrates, like a medium baked potato and a small dinner roll, butter, a salad with vinegar and olive oil dressing, one cup cooked or steamed vegetables and a half cup ice cream or frozen yogurt.”
“For those who workout later in the morning you could have a whey protein shake.”
“The maximum number of maintenance calories for a female who exercises daily is about 1600 to 1800 calories, and for an active male it’s about 2000-2400 or more. To lose weight, females should have an intake of about 1200 calories (25% or 500 calories less than usual) and men, about 1800-2200 (or, again, 25% or 500 calories less than usual).”
“Concentrate on foods that are going to provide dietary fiber like whole fruit rather than fruit juices, which also have a lot of sugar. Juices affect the body negatively providing rapid spikes of insulin, instead of being metabolized slowly like fruit. The body has to respond within twenty minutes to juice instead of an hour and a half for a piece of fruit. Nuts are also healthy and provide dietary fiber.”
“Eating more slowly will also help in losing or maintaining weight.”
“If you are on the go, or at work, always carry snacks like cut up celery or carrot sticks, healthy food bars with fiber, water, electrolyte drinks, and easy-to-eat fruits. I myself have an emergency food pack with me at all times, accessible in my car, which usually contains almonds, clementines, cut-up vegetables, simple saltines, pretzels, granola and high protein bars, and my water bottle. It is survival food if I am somewhere unable to get healthy food.”
“I know that sometimes in our busy lives we feel that we don’t have the time to cook healthy, from-scratch meals as they are time consuming to prepare, so I would suggest perhaps making enough for a couple of meals so you don’t have to do this every day.”
Larsen expressed her concern about obesity in American children.
“More children in the U.S. are becoming obese than ever before, with the lack of normal exercise, and availability of snack foods. It’s never too early to start teaching your children about nutrition, even when they are toddlers. Try to instill a taste for fruits and vegetables. Don’t reward them with candies and cookies. Offer good food choices like unsweetened apple sauce, cut-up fruits, peppers, and carrots. Try to include well-rounded food choices for snacks. For protein offer cheese, other than processed, such as cheddar, or skim mozzarella, unsalted pretzels, and simple crackers, (check for ingredients like hydrogenated, palm, or coconut oils).”
“For school-age children’s lunch boxes, include simple sandwiches with sliced lean meat like turkey on wheat or rye with an ice pack to keep everything cold. Include sliced vegetables and fruit. If you have trained them right the chances will be that they will be nutritionally right the rest of their lives.”
“Good nutrition is also of paramount importance to the health of their teeth. Use a minimum of sugar and try not to make a cupcake with frosting a treat.”
“You may not be able to remove all food temptations like cakes, candy, and cupcakes from your children’s social lives, however treat this as something they may have at friends’ birthdays, not something that is in the child’s nutritional diet daily.”
“At school, food-wise, there are lots of decisions to make. I’m unhappy that too many schools don’t have good nutritional offerings. Some even offer catered fast food. However, if children can bring their own lunches, parents should see that they do so. Parents can see what the schools are offering, as menus are published ahead of time. In that case, they can have a discussion with the child whether to have the school lunches or to bring his own.”
“There seems to be a correlation between overweight children and type two diabetes. Doctors are now even able to detect early signs of potential adult heart disease, and high blood pressure at earlier and earlier ages in these obese children. Often obese children have one or two obese parents who also have unhealthy eating habits.”
“I can’t emphasize enough that you should start inculcating good eating habits and respect for good nutrition in your children as early as possible, and also with your entire family. Remember, you as a parent can offer your children good food for them to make good choices from.”
“I would like to recommend an instructional movie, Fed Up with Katie Couric, an eye-opener revealing thirty years of history in the food industry, changes in the American diet, and what goes into our bodies.”Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
This article was written by Arlene Becker and previously published in Modern Health and Living, a Milwaukee publication dedicated to health and nutrition that focuses on traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine.