Food Hacks

Tips, tricks and optimal strategies for preparing food and making recipes that will help geeks get fit and lose weight.

These snacks can help you feel full and eat less


Snacks are a double-edged sword for many Weighthackers trying to lose weight. The wrong kind of snack can not only add empty calories to your day (and thus unwanted fat to your body), they can actually make you feel hungrier later on. But the right snacks can make you feel satiated, which means you’ll ultimately eat less and lose weight. So what are the right kinds of snacks to eat?

According to a recent presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists (yes, there are such things as food technologists) Annual Meeting and Food Expo, the snacks you want to focus on are things high in fiber like nuts and peanuts. The presentation was done by Roberta Re, Ph.D., nutrition research manager at Leatherhead Food Research in Surrey, England.

Re referenced a study in which participants who regularly consumed almonds as a mid-morning snack reported increased feelings of satiety “resulting in a reduced energy intake at lunch and dinner with no increase in overall” calorie intake.

I’m a big fan of eating snacks with nuts in them like Kind Bars or my new favorite, Health Warrior Chia Bars, which have Chia seeds in them. Chia seeds are loaded with, you guessed it, fiber.

Just be aware that you still have to watch how much of even a high-fiber snack you eat. If you just chow down on loads of almonds between meals, you’ll find yourself packing on pounds quickly because almonds have a lot of calories. A reasonable snack should be about 100-150 calories.

Pro Tip: Eat your snack with two big glasses of water. That will help you feel even more full.

Posted July 30, 2013 @ 12:37 pm | Tags:

Interview: Darya Pino Rose talks about her new book Foodist



Darya Pino Rose is an online buddy of mine, a highly regarded nutrition blogger, and a real-life neuroscientist (or as she says, a PhDork). Her new book Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting is out and I highly recommend giving it a read. Darya shares a lot of the same weight loss philosophies that I do, which is one reason I interviewed her for my own upcoming book Weight Hacking.

Darya was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about Foodist and answering my questions about the book. Here’s how it went:

Foodist is a cool title. Er, what does it mean?

A foodist is someone who understands that the purpose of food is to make life awesome. Real food (not the overly processed fake stuff) should nourish you to health, bring you pleasure by tasting amazing, and bring you closer to friends, family and community.

A foodist is the opposite of a dieter, who is usually at war with food. My main goal with the book is to teach people how to transition from dieters to foodists. However, Foodist can help anyone, even non-dieters, learn to get healthy using real food.

What sets Foodist apart from all the other weight loss books out there?

Before becoming a foodist I tried every diet under the sun. The one thing they all had in common is that they only worked for a limited amount of time. They are also all based on restriction, which makes life more difficult and not more awesome.

One of the reasons most diets fail is because they focus on what we should and shouldn’t eat instead of why we make the decisions we make. In Foodist, I talk a lot about the brain (I have a Ph.D in neuroscience) and why it’s important to know how it works if we want to make the best food decisions. When we work with our brain instead of against it, we have a much better chance at success. Foodist is therefore more of a long-term plan to get healthy and lose weight, and is very different from the short-term suffer-parties that most diets resemble.

A few things intrigued me about the subtitle of Foodist, which is “Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting.” Let’s talk about that:

1) What do you mean by “real food”?

I love the way Michael Pollan defines “real food” in his book In Defense of Food. He says real food is anything your great grandmother would recognize as food. That means fresh food and ingredients that look and sound like they come from the earth (soil, sea or air). It excludes packaged foods filled with ingredients that were made in a lab.


Posted May 9, 2013 @ 11:32 am | Tags: ,

14-year-old McDonald’s hamburger shows no signs of decay

burger2This is a picture of a McDonald’s hamburger that its owner, David Whipple, says is 14 years old but that shows almost now signs of decay. And two of those years were spent forgotten in his coat pocket! Here’s the entire bizarre story, including more pictures. Whipple says he shows it to his grandchildren to dissuade them from eating fast food.

Posted April 23, 2013 @ 5:31 pm | Tags: ,

How a guy who was hooked on takeout learned to love cooking at home


Over on Lifehacker there’s a good post by Jeffrey Bunn on how he was able to break his addiction to takeout food and start cooking at home. He found it was easier than he expected, saved him time and also saved him a lot of money: “Simply eating takeout food for lunch each workday can cost up to $3,000 a year. If you often eat out for dinner, you can expect that number to double. When I cook at home, I always cook enough to bring to work for lunch the following day. This immediately pockets me that $3,000 per year and saves more money in a non-obvious way.” Read more…

Posted April 18, 2013 @ 8:33 pm | Tags: ,

How using the ‘pistachio effect’ can help you eat less


The otherwise innocuous pistachio shell is a great example of the counterintuitive way human beings consume food. While we think the amount of food we eat is driven primarily by hunger, that’s rarely the case. In reality, the amount of food we consume is usually dictated by the food environment around us.

For instance, research has repeatedly shown that we’ll eat more food regardless of how hungry we are if more food is put in front of us. And a study called “The Effect of Pistachio Shells As a Visual Cue In Reducing Caloric Consumption” demonstrates that simply seeing the remains of our food can have an impact on how much we’ll eat. Here’s how it worked:

The subjects were told they were going to evaluate a variety of brands of pistachios and were surveyed at the end of each day to determine their fullness and satisfaction. The subjects were offered pistachios on their desks for an 8-h period on two separate days and were able to consume the pistachios at their leisure during that time. Subjects began each day with a sixteen ounce bowl filled with four ounces of pistachios in the shell. They were also provided with a second sixteen ounce bowl, in which they were instructed to place the empty shells from the pistachios they consumed. Every 2 h throughout the day pistachios were added in two ounce increments. In condition one, the shells remained in the bowls until the end of the day, whereas in condition two, the shell bowls were emptied every 2 h throughout the day.

At the end of the day both groups reported being equally full and satisfied by their allotment of pistachios. However, the group that kept the empty shells in front of them ate 18 percent fewer pistachios than the other group. The study concluded that having a visual cue of how much they’d eaten (in the form of empty shells) is what made the difference.

This coincides with a similar study at Cornell University where two groups of people were given chicken wings to eat. For one group, the discarded bones from consumed wings were removed from the table right away, while in the other group the bones were left on the table in plain view. By the end of the meal the second group had eaten 27 percent fewer wings.

“The results suggest that people restrict their consumption when evidence of food consumed is available to signal how much food they have eaten,” said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell.

In practical terms, you can apply the “pistachio effect” to other things as well. If you’re eating food that comes in a wrapper, don’t throw the empty wrappers away until after you’re done eating so they’ll help you keep track of how much you’ve eaten. At big social settings where there might be lots of hours d’oeuvre offerings, don’t clean your plate to make room for more goodies. And if you’re eating food buffet style, don’t get a fresh plate to go back for seconds. Keep your original plate with you to remind yourself of what you’ve already had. The result is that you’ll eat less but still feel satisfied.

Posted April 2, 2013 @ 12:55 pm | Tags: ,,

Why scientists who formulate fast food won’t actually eat fast food


While researching his new book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michael Moss made an interesting discovery: Many of the scientists and executives who create fast food won’t eat it themselves. Why? Because they know how unhealthy it is.

Here’s a telling excerpt from an interview Moss just did with Heathland describing what he found out:

 Were you surprised by how many scientists and food company executives avoid their own products?

It was everything from a former top scientist at Kraft saying he used to maintain his weight by jogging, and then he blew out his knee and couldn’t exercise, his solution was to avoid sugar and all caloric drinks, including all the Kool-Aid and sugary drinks that Kraft makes. It ranged from him to the former top scientist at Frito Lay. I spent days at his house going over documents relating to his efforts at Frito Lay to push the company to cut back on salt. He served me plain, cooked oatmeal and raw asparagus for lunch. We toured his kitchen, and he did not have one single processed food product in his cupboards or refrigerator.

The scientists and executives were pretty honest about their roles in creating unhealthy food. Did you get the impression they felt guilty about their products?

One reason they don’t eat their own products, is that they know better. They know about the addictive properties of sugar, salt and fat. As insiders, they know too much. I think a lot of them have come to feel badly. But not blaming themselves necessarily, because the older ones invented a number of these products back in the days when dependency on them was much lower. In the 70s and the 80s for example, we were eating more home cooked meals from scratch and eating more mindfully. As society evolved and we became more dependent on these conveniences, these people came to see their work with real misgivings. The inventor of the Lunchables, Bob Drane, wishes mightily that the nutritional aspects of that product could’ve been made better. He is still hoping it will be made better. They came to have regrets about their work in the context of the health effects their products seem to have that go hand-in-hand with society’s increasing demand of their products.

Posted February 26, 2013 @ 1:04 pm | Tags: ,

Scientists compare soda to a ‘ruthlessly efficient bioweapon’


The health advocacy organization Center for Science in the Public Interest is petitioning the FDA to limit the amount of sugar in soft drinks “to safe levels consistent with authoritative recommendations.” Its position is that the quantity of sugar manufacturers put in soft drinks has become so large that it’s basically poisoning people.

“As currently formulated, Coke, Pepsi, and other sugar-based drinks are unsafe for regular human consumption,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.  “Like a slow-acting but ruthlessly efficient bioweapon, sugar drinks cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  The FDA should require the beverage industry to re-engineer their sugary products over several years, making them safer for people to consume, and less conducive to disease.”

Yes, that sounds extreme when you first read it (and if you’ve seen statements by the CSPI before you’ll notice they like to use a little shock value to draw attention to health issues). However, their point is actually a valid one. As Yale’s Dr. David Katz has pointed out, sugar is one of many substance where the “dose makes the poison.”

The notion that sugar is a “poison” was established when a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig espousing that view went viral.

While the construction of alarming tables and figures demonstrating the calamitous effects of sugar (and specifically, fructose — Dr. Lustig’s particular nemesis) can be defended with legitimate science, it is nonetheless something of a distortion. Even more calamitous pathways could be mapped out for oxygen, which in excess is not just highly toxic, but lethal in rather short order. Oxygen, per se, is not poison of course. The dose makes the poison.

So, too, for sugar — including fructose. Our excessive consumption of it is the poison.

Basically what Katz and the CSPI are saying is that a modest amount of sugar isn’t going to harm anyone, but many people are currently eating (or drinking) way too much of it. The CSPI illustrates this by pointing out that while the American Heart Association recommends that women take in no more than 6 grams of added sugar a day and men no more than 9 grams, one sweetened 20-ounce soda contains 15 grams of sugar, far more than either recommendation. And that’s causing all sorts of health problems.

The bottom line for Weighthackers is that, because food companies are loading up their products with sugar so they can sell more of them and not because they’re good for you, it’s up to you to be aware of what’s in the things you’re eating and drinking. If you like soda, consider getting something like a Sodastream so you, not Coke or Pepsi, can decide what goes in your drink. That way you can keep your sugar intake under bioweapon levels.

Posted February 19, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

Good news! Smaller snacks found to be as satisfying as large ones


All right Weighthackers, I know you were probably wondering today “would a small snack satiate me just as much as a larger one?” Well you’re in luck, because not only do I have an answer for you, it’s an answer you’re going to like.

The smart folks at Cornell University did some research and found out that, yes, small snacks are indeed as filling as large ones. Here’s a summary of what they learned (I added the underlines for emphasis):

The study found that, as expected, portion size has a direct impact on calorie intake – but it also discovered that portion size did not have a direct impact on the level of satisfaction of the person eating the snack. Researchers came to these conclusions after testing 104 adults, who were given large and small portions of the same snack. Those who ate large portions consumed 77 percent more calories than those who ate small portions. Yet, despite consuming substantially more calories, hunger pangs of people eating large portions decreased by the same amount as those eating small portions. In both conditions, craving tendencies were significantly decreased 15 minutes after eating.

This is another Weight Hack I use every day myself. Back when I was 65lbs heavier than I am today, I’d happily have eaten a standard size Hershey’s chocolate bar as a snack, which weighs in at 210 calories and has 24 grams of sugar (that’s the same as 4 packets of sugar…ugh). Now I buy individual squares of high-end dark chocolate (from Le Maison du Chocolat if you must know) and have one of those instead. I’m just as satisfied and I’m only eating about 30 calories, which makes it win-win in my book. And oh, I’m also 65lbs lighter!

So next time you go for your usual snack, try only eating half of it and then put the other half out of sight. If you wait 15 minutes, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t want the rest.

Bonus Weight Hack: You can also try drinking a big glass of water with your half-snack, which will make you feel even more full.

Posted February 1, 2013 @ 9:30 am | Tags: ,,

These 2 simple changes helped hundreds of people lose weight


Putting down your utensils between bites and allowing yourself an afternoon snack only if you’ve first eaten a piece of fruit are two small but significant changes that helped hundreds of people lose weight. That’s what a new report has to say about the National Mindless Eating Challenge, a Web-based healthy eating and weight loss program that was made available to the public from 2006-2009.

The program was set up to see if “small behavioral and environmental changes based on simple heuristics may have the best chance to lead to sustainable habit changes over time.” The people who reported adhering to the program at least 25 days a month lost an average of 2lbs a month. Although that might not seem like, much, over the course of the year that would add up to 24lbs without much effort.

Another suggestion that helped people lose weight was “Any time you think you might eat when you’re not hungry, go ahead and do so, but only if you first say (out loud): “I’m not hungry, but I’m going to eat this anyway”.” I imagine most people didn’t do that one in public restaurants though.

Check out the link above to the full report for more tips.

Posted January 29, 2013 @ 11:41 am | Tags:

10 easy ways to lose weight quickly (and permanently) in the New Year


Welcome to the New Year, which is traditionally a time when most of us look ahead to how we can improve our lives over the next 12 months. And if you’re overweight, probably the #1 thing on your 2013 To Do list is losing weight. Well, Weighthacker has you covered. Below are 10 of the best tips and hacks you can use to start losing weight quickly and, more importantly, permanently in the New Year.

Read on if you want to start losing weight today:


1) Don’t “Lose Weight”

“Losing Weight” is a great intention for the New Year but as an actual goal it’s terrible because it’s too vague. A better goal would be “lose 25 lbs by the end of March.” People who research goals say being specific does 4 valuable things for you: it focuses your efforts, it keeps you motivated, it makes you persistent and it inspires you to learn and grow.

2) Don’t Got On A Diet

In multiple studies the failure rate of dieting has been pegged somewhere between 80-95%, largely because of one issue: people can lose weight on almost any diet but they gain all the weight back once they go off the diet. So instead of going on a diet, focus on making permanent, sustainable changes to your diet. See tips 1, 3, 4, 5 and 10 for ways to do that.

3) Know How Much Food You’re Really Eating

According to registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, “Nobody knows how many calories they should be eating, nobody knows how many they are eating, and nobody knows how many calories are in foods.” And it’s going to be hard for you to lose weight if you don’t know any of that. So sign up for a free online service like Loseit or MyFitnessPal that will help you easily understand and track what you eat. In fact, just writing down what you eat each day using something as low tech as a pen and paper will make you more accountable to yourself, which will automatically make you eat better.

4) Know How Much Food You Should Be Eating

There are dozens of free online calculators like this one that will help you figure out how much food you should be eating each day. Using them takes less than 5 minutes and will give you a whole new perspective on your food intake. Once you know how much food you should be eating, it will be easier for you to figure out how to eat the right amount to meet your weight loss goals.

5) Eat Whole, Not Processed, Foods

Whole foods like apples are more filling, have fewer calories and contain more nutrients than heavily processed foods like muffins and bagels. So an easy way to lose weight is to substitute whole foods for processed ones whenever you can. A good place to start is looking at the food label on the back of what you’re buying. In general heavily processed foods will have many more ingredients than whole foods, and they’ll also have ingredients with chemically-sounding names that you don’t recognize. Avoid those!

6) Walk

This one is easy and we were all born to do it: Walk. Many smart people believe walking is the single best exercise you can undertake, and a half hour a day of putting one foot in front of the other is all you need to do to start getting the benefits from it. It’s also free and you don’t need to go to the gym to do it! (I also suggest getting a walking desk if you can swing it. It changed my life.)

7) Track Your Steps

Splurge on a simple Web-enabled device like this Fitbit to track how many steps you walk each day. It will wirelessly upload your data online so you can chart your progress, set goals and (of course) share your info via social networks. Just like tracking your food helps you eat less, tracking your steps motivates you to walk more.

8) Plan To Fail

Losing weight is like playing a video game. You’re never going to do things perfectly the first time you try it, but the more you play the better you’ll get. So go into the New Year knowing that there will be setbacks and pitfalls on your weight loss journey. Instead of letting them derail you, use them as opportunities to figure out what went wrong so you can do better the next time.

9) Mod Your Environment

Using smaller plates, putting junk food in opaque vs. clear containers, and leaving your fruit bowl out in the open are some of the many ways you can mod the environment around you to help you lose weight. Check out this interactive guide from Diane Magazine for 11 tips on how to rearrange your kitchen for maximum weight loss help.

10) Planned Obsolescence

One of the biggest reasons people regain the weight they lose is because once they reach their goal weight, they slowly abandon the habits they used to lose the weight in the first place. 5 days at the gym becomes 3, then 1, then none. A splurge day turns into two days, then into a splurge week, etc. And because you previously lost weight, you fall into the mindset of “well, I can lose it again any time I want.” Before you know it, you’ll be back to where you started or, worse, heavier than you used to be. You can avoid all that by planning to segue smoothly from “weight loss” mode to “maintenance” mode, something most people never consider. When the behaviors you used to lose weight become obsolete, replace them with a new set of behaviors to maintain your progress, otherwise you’ll default back to the old ways that made you overweight to begin with.

To get more weight loss strategies and tips throughout 2013 and beyond, follow me on Twitter at @weigthhacker, over on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also sign up for the Weighthacker newsletter using the form on the right-hand column or pre-order my upcoming book.

Remember, you can lose the weight you want to!

Posted January 3, 2013 @ 9:00 am | Tags: ,

Take a picture of your meals to help you eat better and lose weight


When researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked dieters to both keep a written food journal and to photograph their meals, they found something interesting. The photos were better tools than the diaries when it came to encouraging participants to select healthier meals, and they were more effective at helping people remember if they had overindulged in snacks.

According to the Telegraph:

Prof Lydia Zepeda and David Deal, the researchers who carried out the study reported in New Scientist magazine, found that written food diaries were often filled in hours after the meal and were not as powerful in creating an impression of how much food had been consumed.

“Nutritionists see diaries as recording tools. Now they should explore the role of photo diaries as intervention tools,” Prof Zepeda said.

Since all you weight hackers probably have easy-to-use cameras built into your phones, try snapping pics of all your meals to help you eat better and lose weight. And I do mean all your meals, not just the fancy ones you’re already putting on Instagram. If you don’t take a picture of everything, you’re more likely to “forget” you ate it.

Also, if you’re an iPhone user, check out The Eatery app by Massive Health. It’s a free, elegant way to take pictures of your meals, rate them, then share them with your friends. In an interesting twist, The Eatery also lets other users rate your meals anonymously, so you’ll get a crowdsourced view of how healthy your meals are. If that seems a little intimidating, just remember, you get to rate their meals too.

Posted December 12, 2012 @ 9:30 am | Tags: ,,,

3 insidious reasons we gain weight during the holidays (and how to fight them)

First, here’s the good news. Although on average everyone thinks they gain about 5 pounds a year due to holiday eating, most of us actually only gain about 1 pound of holiday weight. Not bad, right? Well…

The bad news is, most of us never lose that pound. In fact, about 51% of our average annual weight gain occurs during the six-week holiday period. Worse still, “this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life,” according to  the National Institutes of Health.

Another factor of note to Weighthackers is that if you’re already overweight, you’ll gain more during the holidays than someone who isn’t overweight. While a normal weight person may only add half a pound during the holidays, someone who’s overweight or obese will average five extra pounds.

So let’s talk about why we all overeat during the holidays, then I’ll show you how to avoid it:

1) Abundance: During the holidays we’re surrounded by food. Co-workers bring in cookies and cake, families gather for huge meals and refrigerators are stuffed with leftovers. The problem is, when we’re surrounded by food, humans tend to eat it even when we’re not hungry. So that’s the first strike.

2) Palatability: Another problem with holiday food is that it tends to be what’s called “highly palatable,” which means it tastse good to us. And the better a food tastes, the more of it we’ll eat. So not only are you surrounded by food, it tends to be really tasty food. Strike two.

3) Peer-Induced Overeating: We’ll eat more when our friends and family around us overeat, even when we’re not hungry. And most people around us overeat during the holidays, so the pressure to join in is enormous (and can make us enormous too!). Strike three.

You may notice something here. None of the reasons I outlined above seem “bad” per se. You’re around friends and family, the food is good and there’s lots of it. These are all typically considered desirable things. And that’s exactly what makes holiday weight gain so insidious. You’re put into an environment where it’s nearly impossible not to overeat, and nothing seems particularly wrong about it.

Okay, back to some good news. With a few simple changes you can avoid holiday weight gain altogether but still enjoy the holidays themselves. Here are 6 easy weight hacks to get you through the upcoming “eating season”:

1) Start with Breakfast: Eating a nutritious breakfast, especially one that contains a protein like eggs, will help keep you full throughout the day, so you’ll naturally eat less.

2) Have a Plan: Think about what you’re going to eat before you get into an eating situation. Love that fruit log that Aunt Sally makes? Plan ahead of time to have one piece. Love turkey and mashed potatoes? Plan to have one plate and no more. Studies show that if we have an “eating plan” we tend to stick to it.

3) Avoid a Food “Free for All”: In a buffet style atmosphere where we can get more food whenever we want, we have a hard time keeping track of how much we’re eating so we end up eating too much. Your strategy in those situations is to put everything your’e going to eat on one plate first and when you’ve finished that plate, stop eating.

4) Write it Down: Another strategy for keeping track of what you eat is to write things down as you eat them. This doesn’t have to be complex or obvious. For instance, I just keep my iPhone handy and use the Notes feature to jot down what I’ve had.

5) Don’t Clean Your Plate: When you’re done eating, don’t clean off your used plate. Instead, keep it around as a visual reminder to your brain and body that, yes, you’ve already eaten and, no, you don’t need to eat more. These kinds of visual cues are an important component of tracking what we eat, and they also signal us to feel more full.

6) Fill Up On Good Stuff First: Before you get to Aunt Sally’s fruit log, get a helping (or two!) of fruits or veggies. Because they’re low-calorie but take up more volume than heavily processed foods like cake, they’ll make you feel full but not add weight. Then when you get to the fruit log, you’ll have a smaller helping.

A few other things that will help: If you have a regular exercise routine, make an extra effort to stick to your scheduled workout during the holidays. The last thing you want to do is overeat then forego the gym. And, if you’re bringing food over to friends and family, don’t bring a treat that you know you’ll love and want a lot of. That’s setting yourself up for disaster!

Last year I used these weight hacks so successfully that I was able to lose weight during the holidays. Not only didn’t I miss all the overeating I used to indulge in, it also made the holidays sweeter than ever.

Posted November 20, 2012 @ 1:38 pm | Tags: ,,,

Reddit’s 10 best tips, tidbits and tricks for losing weight

Over on the Reddit weight loss forum r/loseit there’s a great discussion going on about the best tips, tidbits and tricks for losing weight. I’ve cherry picked 10 of the most weighthacker-like suggestions below, and if you have time I suggest you head over to Reddit and give the whole thread a read. Here are my favorites:

  1. “These are the questions I ask myself before I eat. Yes, that tastes good, but how I will I feel after I eat it? Is this the correct fuel for my body? Is this the right amount of fuel?”
  2. “Log everything you eat. Everything. Weight loss is all about managing a caloric deficit. I struggled to lose weight for almost a year before I became meticulous about logging everything.”
  3. “I stopped keeping ready-made foods around. When I go grocery shopping, I ONLY buy ingredients – meat, vegetables, pasta, etc. That way if I want to eat, I have to make something.”
  4. “I eat ice cream out of a shot glass to seriously limit my servings, and buy really expensive stuff so I want to make it last.”
  5. “Buy smaller plates.”
  6. “Cut out all sweet drinks. I just stick to water, coffees and teas. Don’t even drink 0 calorie sweet drinks. Firstly this reduces a lot of empty calories but also had another amazing effect. It reduced my snacking appetite and my need for sweet things.”
  7. “If I don’t have any junk food in my house, I don’t eat junk food.”
  8. “Brush your teeth when you feel hungry. I hate eating after I’ve brushed my teeth, the mint never goes with anything aside from a cold glass of water, and if I go drink a glass, the water usually fills me up and tides me over.”
  9. “Once you feel the faintest signs of fullness, just stop eating. It takes you about 20 minutes before the food actually reaches the stomache and you get a feel of how much you actually ate, so by doing this you will most of the time find you ate just right.”
  10. “As a single guy I simply motivate myself by asking whether or not I’d want to sleep with me if I were in somebody else’s shoes. Sounds kind of shallow but honestly it pushes me harder to achieve my personal fitness goals.”

If you’re a member or Reddit, look me up. My user handle is weighthacker.

Posted November 12, 2012 @ 9:58 am | Tags: ,,,,

5 foods that will keep you satiated the longest (and 5 that won’t)

Satiety Index

Many people trying to lose weight struggle with feelings of hunger because they need to eat less food than they’re used to in order to burn off all the excess stored energy they’ve built up in their bodies (in the form of fat). This is especially true if they eat heavily processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, as those tend to be among the least filling things you can eat.

To solve this problem a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in the 1990s created a “Satiety Index” of foods to determine which kinds of foods were the most satiating and which were the least. Based on their findings of 38 different foods served in 240-calorie portions, here are the foods that are most, and least, likely to make you feel full after eating them:

Most Satiating

  1. Potatoes (but not French Fries)
  2. Fish
  3. Porridge (i.e. Oatmeal)
  4. Oranges
  5. Apples

Least Satiating

  1. Croissant
  2. Cake
  3. Donuts
  4. Mars Bar
  5. Peanuts

The study also came up with a few interesting findings. For instance, although potatoes scored highest on the satiety index, french fries were on the low side because of the way they’re prepared (i.e. fried). Popcorn scored the highest among pure “snack” foods because it adds a lot of bulk to your stomach but doesn’t have a lot of calories.

Amusingly, jelly beans actually rated comparatively well as a snack food (but not compared to other foods like fish or protein), possibly because they made people nauseated so they ate less later!

Fatty foods were less satiating than expected, which was attributed to the fact that the body absorbs them quickly and thus might not have enough time to register how much energy it’s taking in. Also, more palatable foods like those high in fat and sugar tended to create a desire to eat more among the test subjects, making them less satiating. Conversely, foods that were more bland like potatoes and oatmeal didn’t produce the same desire to consume more.

Foods lower in energy density and higher in fiber and water were universally found to be most satiating, as were proteins. But almost across the board any food that had been heavily processed was less satiating than unprocessed, whole foods.

(The graphic above is part of this Massive Health Infographic)

Posted November 9, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

11 ways to avoid eating too much (or any) Halloween candy

Halloween Pumpkins

October is a tough month for people trying to lose or maintain weight. Not only does free candy abound everywhere, but there’s tremendous social pressure to participate in the gluttony, both by eating junk yourself and by giving treats to others. Also, stores go crazy with candy marketing, putting up massive candy displays everywhere.

I’m not  just talking about supermarkets either, but also places like coffee shops that push pumpkin scones and ghost-shaped cookies, drug stores that sell mega-sized “value packs” of candy bars, etc. It’s a classic example of how the environment around us changes so that overeating becomes the norm and eating well becomes difficult.

However, you can participate in the fun of Halloween without over indulging by using some simple weight hacks that have seen me make it through many an All Hallow’s Eve without eating a single sweet. Here’s how:

1) My first and best hack is what I call the “$100 method” because in the beginning of October I tell my friends and co-workers that if they see me eat any candy, I’ll give them $100 on the spot. This not only gives me a powerful incentive not to eat junk, it also automatically redirects my brain’s focus from food to dollar signs should I find myself tempted.

2) If you do eat candy, keep the wrappers in front of you instead of throwing them away. This forces you to track how much you’ve eaten and will keep you from unconsciously chowing down chocolate bars like a runaway wood chipper.

3) Alternatively, write down how much candy you eat and when you eat it. Not only will this keep you honest just like the wrapper method, you can also spot any patterns in your sweet eating. If you find, for instance, that everyday at 2pm you’re eating a treat, it may mean you’re not getting enough food at lunch.

4) If you really feel a need to indulge, plan what you’re going to eat ahead of time. If Fudgtastic Bars are your thing, set one (but only one) aside to eat after lunch so you can satisfy your craving without going overboard. If you already have a specific quantity and time pre-determined, it’s easier to stick to it.

5) Don’t enable your own overeating by buying more candy than you’re likely to give out “just in case you need it” or by buying things you know you really, really like. Recognize that both of those are just excuses to chow down.

6) Another of my personal favorite tricks is to only buy candy to giveaway that I don’t like, that way I’m 100% not tempted to eat any. This one is sure-fire for me.

7) For that matter, don’t give out candy like everyone else. You can easily give away inexpensive toys from the nearest dollar store like super balls that look like eyeballs, plastic dinosaurs, glow sticks, small stuffed animals, etc. (Just don’t buy anything small kids will mistakenly eat!)

8) Another alternative to giving out candy is to give out fruit. Not only is that healthier for everyone else, if you start nibbling out of the Halloween bowl, at least you’ll be eating something that’s good for you.

9) If you must give out candy, only buy and give it out on Oct. 31, not all month long. That way even if you over indulge it will only be for one day.

10) Don’t bring leftover candy from your house to work. Yes, your co-workers will eat some, but you’ll just be tempted by it all day long. Give it to someone or someplace where you won’t have access to it.

11) If all else fails, throw out any excess candy that you’re likely to eat. We’re all taught not to “waste food” but 1) candy isn’t really food and 2) there’s no sense in “saving” the food by storing it as fat in your body if your’e already struggling to lose weight.

You can also help control your candy urges by making sure to eat regular, well-balanced meals so you don’t suddenly find yourself next to a candy bowl when you’re starving. And, if you’re out trick or treating make sure to get as much walking in as possible so you counter some of that candy intake by moving more and burning more calories.

What are your healthy Halloween eating tips and strategies?

Posted October 23, 2012 @ 8:30 am | Tags: ,,

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