Chances are good that if you’ve fallen off your diet in the past, it was because you felt deprived of food. According to Barbara Rolls, a Pennsylvania State University professor of nutritional sciences, you can actually lose weight by eating more if you choose the right foods.
In her new book, she explains her theory of calorie density. “Foods vary in the number of calories they pack into each bite. Reduce the calories per bite — that is, the CD [calorie density] — and you can eat the same amount of food (bites) while saving calories.” Rolls’s 12-week plan specifies filling and satisfying foods that won’t overload you with calories. Each week has its own focus, from learning to build your meals around fruits and vegetables to rethinking the liquid calories you take in. Did you know that for the same 100 calories, you can have 5.3 ounces of whole milk, 6.8 ounces of orange juice or 9.3 ounces of skim milk?
It’s all very user-friendly, and Rolls includes some handy calorie charts, meal plans and recipes. One of the best features is the side-by-side photo comparison of meals and beverages that contain the same number of calories. It really puts things into perspective when you see that 500 calories can give you a snack-type serving of pretzels and almonds or a full meal including a cup of salad, a cup of soup, a few crackers and a handful of grapes. When you start to grasp the concept of calorie density, you’ll think twice about grabbing a few pieces of candy when you could have had a whole bowl of fresh cherries.
When your personal trainer says jump, you say how high, right? Well, according to experts interviewed by Fitness magazine’s Peg Rosen, the advice you hear at the gym may not always be correct.
Perhaps you’ve been told that heat and vigorous exercise can help you sweat out toxins. It feels great to sweat — otherwise, Bikram yoga wouldn’t be so popular — but Rachel Vreeman, a pediatrician at Indiana University School of Medicine, argues that the body does a fine job of ridding itself of toxins through digestion and that the only role of sweat is to keep us cool.
Maybe you’ve heard that the more flexible you are, the better. This is not just false; it’s a dangerous theory, says Jo A. Hannafin, orthopedic director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Hannafin says “there is no health benefit in having a hyperflexible body or being able to twist yourself into a pretzel just for the sake of doing so. In fact, pushing your body into extreme stretches can cause injury.”
Should you replace your sneakers every six months? Will the pounding of running break down collagen and give you wrinkles? Can performing yoga twists purify your organs? Those are common claims that have no hard evidence to back them up, Rosen says. Remember that your trainers may be certified, but they are not nutritionists or doctors.