Weight loss success with smart and sustainable changes

Dietitian explains nutrition guidance.

Dietitian offers nutrition principles for weight loss.


Two main factors affect weight loss – energy in and energy out. As the Health Promotion dietitian, I will focus on discussing the energy in component. I will speak in general terms here, but nutrition therapy is tailored to each person’s needs and goals. For any Airman or individual interested in scheduling an appointment for one-on-one counseling and individualized nutrition therapy, reach out to Health Promotion dietitian at 846-4183 or laura.k.makarewicz.ctr@mail.mil.

There’s been a lot of research recently showing that the “COVID-15” is real. Emotions and stress definitely play a role in eating habits. If you feel like you’re eating for reasons other than being truly hungry, such as boredom, being tired, stressed, or just as something to do while you watch TV some things to try instead include: taking a walk, calling a friend or family member, gardening or doing yard work, or simply being mindful of whether you’re truly hungry or not. For more information on mindful eating – see previous article Mindful Eating in the New Year, located in the “Health Promotion” section of the Kirtland app.

Weight loss requires work and effort for both exercise and nutrition. The recommendations for safe weight loss for overweight and obese individuals is 1-2 pounds per week, or up to 10% of total body weight in six months. For example, in a 200-pound person, this would equate to 20 pounds weight loss over six months.

Fad diets such as keto and intermittent fasting can result in very rapid weight loss for some, but these eating patterns are largely unsustainable for most individuals. Keto, in particular, has shown to reduce lean muscle mass as well as bodyfat. That is, you’re losing significant muscle along with fat with this weight-loss strategy. These “diets” also can lead to weight “yo-yo-ing,” or fluctuations in weight, which is quite hard on the body. Recent research has also shown that these restrictive dietary patterns are no more effective at achieving weight-loss goals than following healthy eating principles from USDA’s My Plate, incorporating moderation and portion control. Focusing on small, sustainable changes for steady weight loss is the recommendation.

Let’s discuss the basics of weight loss and nutrition. Eating three meals a day, and having meals planned out ahead of time, has shown to be helpful in weight loss. While it may seem counterintuitive, eating three meals a day helps give the body a steady supply of energy. Observational studies have shown eating breakfast leads to less overall calorie intake throughout the day. Listening to your body and your hunger cues is also important in healthy eating patterns. No one strategy works for everyone; eating is individualized and personal.

Getting plenty of fiber with meals will also help you feel full and satisfied throughout the day. So what does this mean? Building all of your meals with half your plate non-starchy vegetables, choosing whole-grain carbohydrate sources (breads, pasta, crackers, cereals) will increase your fiber intake, as well. Look at the Nutrition Facts label for high-fiber foods with at least 3-5 grams of fiber/serving.

A huge place to cut “empty calories” from a person’s diet is through examining beverage choices. Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, energy drinks, and even alcohol provide no nutritional benefit - in other words, they don’t have beneficial vitamins and minerals for our bodies. Many of these are also high in caffeine. The recommended intake of caffeine per day is 400 milligrams, with no more than 200 mg per serving at a time. Of note, caffeine in beverages varies widely – most dark roast coffee has 200 mg, while an energy drink has around 300 mg. The recommended intake of added sugar per day is 30 grams. A regular 20-ounce Dr. Pepper or Coke contains 250 calories and 64 grams of sugar. That’s more than five tablespoons of sugar, twice the recommended intake of added sugar for a day. That’s the calorie equivalent of a grilled chicken sandwich. Which would you rather have, and which sounds more satisfying?

Making simple and smart changes in your everyday diet can help with weight loss goals. If you’re interested in personalized nutrition therapy and counseling, reach out for an appointment – we are here to help! 

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