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The actress says her favorite body part is her calves.
This article originally appeared on People.com.
Dear Dr. Google: Chrissy Metz does not need your opinion on her weight.
The This Is Us star says that the one question she wishes people would stop asking her is if she’s going to get weight loss surgery.
“Some people do feel like they’re my doctors, and they have tried to diagnose me on the internets,” Metz tells Today. “So that’s … that’s weird. Cause like, I’m good. I’m good, boo. But thanks. But I’m good [laughs].”
Metz, who plays Kate Pearson, a woman struggling with her size, on the hit show, recently explained that she is contractually obligated to lose weight for the role, but she doesn’t have a goal she has to hit.
And Metz is happier with her body than Pearson. The actress says her favorite body part is her calves.“People are like, ‘Enough. Don’t do anymore calf raises.’ But I don’t!” she says. “But I’ve come to love them and realize, like, they carry my body around. And I could probably kick some ass.”
Metz’s confident attitude extends to clothing, and she says her style heroes “are anyone who wears what they want to wear, when they want to wear it, to where they want to wear it to.”
Metz also talked to Today about her favorite emoji (all of the hearts) and her favorite purchase of late (Josie Maran’s Argan Oil).
“You can use it for your legs and all your skin parts,” she explains. “And it’s delicious.”
There are more than 100 meal kit options on the market, including Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, and Plated, just to name a few. Some of my clients who are looking to shed pounds have asked a key question—can a meal plan help me lose weight?
The reality is that these kits are generally designed to make it easier to cook at home, not slim down. You order the meals online, and the recipes and the correct amount of each ingredient are delivered to your door.
Meal kits aren’t standardized, can vary widely, and do not guarantee weight loss. But they may help. Here’s my take on the trend.
RELATED: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast
Ingredients are important
When it comes to losing weight, ingredient quality, macronutrient balance, and portions are all key, and that’s where meal kits may fall short. A lot of kits include recipes calling for refined carbs, like white pasta or noodles, white rice, and white-flour pizza crust, bread, burger buns, and tortillas. And in some recipes, a surplus of refined carbs is combined with a heavy sauce, and scant amount of vegetables and protein—not the ideal meal balance for shrinking your shape.
Portion sizes can be a problem
Another snag I’ve run into with my clients is portion control. Many kits include recipes that serve a minimum of two people. The people I counsel have sometimes made the entire recipe, with the intention of bringing the second portion to work the next day, only to wind up eating both portions in a single sitting.
You need the time to cook
Meal kits also require the time needed for cooking. Yes, the recipe is picked out, and you don’t need to shop for the ingredients, but will you actually make it? I’ve had clients forgo kits in favor of something faster (and less healthy) because they were either too tired or too busy to prepare the meal. If this sounds like you, meal kits probably aren’t your best bet.
You need to choose the right meal plan
But, is there a work-around if you really like the idea of having ingredients delivered to your door and you’re looking to slim down? Sure. First, review all of your options and choose a service with the best selection of recipes for your goal. Aim for dishes that include larger portions of veggies, a lean protein source (seafood, poultry, lentils, or beans), and a smaller portion of healthy carbs, such as a whole grain, like brown rice or quinoa, or a starchy vegetable such as fingerling potatoes.
You can alter the recipe to fit your needs
And remember, there’s no rule that you have to use all of the ingredients. For example, if a salmon burger recipe includes a bun, you can ditch it, wrap your burger in a romaine lettuce leaf, and add a healthier starch instead, like a small baked yam. Or, make half of the rice portion in a kit and mix in a generous portion of shredded zucchini or chopped spinach.
Cooking at home does offer you more control over what you eat and how it’s prepared, and that’s an important strategy for sustainable weight loss. If meal kits offer you a cooking shortcut, just remember that you have the option of tweaking them. And about that second portion. If you have a tough time not dipping in, try this tip. Before you even plate your meal or begin eating, place the second half in a sealable container and stash it inside your lunch sack in the fridge. The more steps you have to go through to get to it the less likely you are to eat it. Bonus: you save money by actually getting two meals out of the deal, and you can put that savings towards a non-food treat, like a massage.
Bottom line: meal kits can be a helpful tool, but they aren’t a complete weight loss solution. To see real and lasting results you have to find ways to make them work for you.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets
Fields of sunflowers, miles of coastline, and spectacular scenery make the Mediterranean a popular travel destination. Yet, scientists are beginning to appreciate this part of the world for an entirely different reason: its diet. Dozens of studies confirm that a Mediterranean style of eatingone that is rich in fruits, vegetables, olives, and whole grainsis not only healthful for the heart but for overall well being, too. In The Mediterranean Diet, health writer Eve Adamson and registered dietitian Marissa Cloutier join forces to detail many of the reasons why eating like they do in Greece, Italy, France, and other Mediterranean countries can be good for your long-term health and may even help you shed a few pounds in the process.
Eating and living as they do in rural areas of the Mediterranean with a strong focus on plant foods and a routinely active lifestyleis no doubt a healthful strategy. It probably can help with weight loss, too. Unfortunately, the book gives short shrift to how dieters can convert a Mediterranean diet into a weight loss regimen. It doesnt give a lot of practical details on activity, either. To be honest, the information here is organized in a haphazard way. Particularly troubling is the rampant use of Q & A format, which makes it difficult to locate information pertinent to weight loss. Nevertheless, theres much to be learned here about the Mediterranean approach to eating, which includes sources of monounsaturated fatslike olive oil, nuts, and fatty fishthat harbor heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Instead of counting calories, the idea is to approach food the way people in the Mediterranean do. Its not simply about what foods are best to eat, but how to eat. Mediterranean style means slowing down and savoring foods. As for the foods, forget gyros, high-fat cheeses, or fettuccini. Rather, the focus is on rural or peasant fare. Youll want to embrace a style of eating rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with small amounts of seafood and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
How the diet works:
Only a small portion of the book actually talks about weight loss. In that chapter, the authors offer a sample week of menus for weight loss, but dieters are encouraged to consult with dietitians or health professionals for daily caloric intake recommendations or diets tailored to their needs. The rest of the advice is broken down into four general strategies: Enjoy your food; watch portion sizes; drink lots of water; and exercise, rest, and relax.
What you can eat:
There are no food groups or appropriate portion sizes discussed in the chapter on weight loss. Included early in the book, however, are general guidelines for a Mediterranean diet. Design meals around fresh produce and whole grains, using only small amounts of high-fat animal products including meat and dairy. In addition, dieters could look to the general guidelines on how much and what kinds of foods make up a Mediterranean diet. Meat is eaten only a few times a month. Fruit is the best dessert. Olive oil is preferred, but use it carefully since its still high in calories. For folks who need precise amounts, a food pyramid lists serving sizes for a variety of food groups. One serving of vegetables, for example, is 1/2 cup, and three servings of vegetables are encouraged per day.
Does the diet take and keep weight off?
Who knows? A small study from Harvard suggests a Mediterranean-style weight loss diet, as long as it controls for calories, might be more satisfying for dieters. When researchers divided dieters into two groups, putting one group on a 1,200-calorie diet plan that was also low in fat (20% fat) and the other on a 1,200-calorie diet with more liberal Mediterranean-style amounts of fat (35% fat), the Mediterranean group was better able to keep weight off and reported feeling more satisfied with their diets. Although the book doesnt mention it, a new 5-year diet study funded by the National Institutes of Health is currently underway to test the Harvard Mediterranean regimen with a larger group of dieters. That study began in 2004.
Is the diet healthy?
What little there is of it. Theres just one week of weight loss menus with no information about how many calories the menus contain.
What do the experts say?
Kathy McManus, RD, director of nutrition at Brigham & Womans Hospital, and one of the primary researchers on the Harvard weight loss study mentioned above, finds a lot of inconsistencies. “In some ways, the book sells short the benefits of olive oil and some of the healthy foods in traditional Mediterranean diets,” McManus says. It encourages keeping fat intake to 30 percent of calories or less on most days. The true Mediterranean approach, she adds, allows for higher amounts of fat as long as its the right kind: the monounsaturated fats that keep the heart healthy. “I dont think the average dieter is going to want to read all of this, but its not complete enough for health professionals, either. Its missing a lot of the latest research on Mediterranean diets,” McManus says. Joan Kanute, MS, RD, of Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, says she wouldnt recommend the book to her patients, either, because it seems too technical for the average reader and doesnt give specific enough advice about what to eat. “It was hard to weed through. If I wasnt a dietitian, Id probably think, ‘Well, what the heck are you trying to say here? What exactly should I be eating?” Kanute asks, adding that the weight loss information is pretty minimal. “They give you a sample week of menus, but when youre done, where do you go from there?”
Who should consider the diet?
If you want to brush up on the general health benefits of Mediterranean diets, this is an OK (but certainly not the best) tome on the subject. Skip it unless you want a dietitian to serve as your interpreter. While other books about the Mediterranean lifestyle may suggest a less sensible approach to eating, this version doesnt offer enough information for the do-it-yourself dieter.
There’s no question that the Mediterranean diet is a healthful one, but this book misses the boat when it comes to making the diet come to life for consumers. It overwhelms with scientific details rather than practical advice.Back to Diet Guide
As seen on TV: After insane days at the office, Olivia Pope likes to relax with a big bowl of popcorn and a bigger glass of red wine.
Reality check: Actually, this is not the worst way to indulge, says Eliza Whetzel Savage, RD, of Middleberg Nutrition, a New York City wellness practice. Popcorn is a great whole grain munchie that’s full of fiber, and red wine has the antioxidant resveratrol, which may deliver disease fighting benefits. “While snacking isn’t the best form of stress relief—I’d suggest a bath or yoga—reaching for popcorn instead of cookies or cake is a win,” she says. Olivia’s pick is particularly smart if you’re watching your weight: Popcorn is a “volume food,” explains Whetzel Savage, meaning you can eat lots of it for few calories (three cups can be under 100 calories). As for the wine, rethink Olivia’s oversize goblet. Whetzel Savage prefers a petite pour of four to five ounces.
Niki Tuck lost 63 pounds, thanks to hard work at the gym and inspiration from fitness gurus on Instagram.
Niki Tuck, 22, 5’3″, from San Diego, California
Before: 175 lb., size: 18
After: 112 lb., size: 0/2
Total lost: 63 lb.
Total sizes lost: 8/9
I grew up being the fat, funny friend, always feeling like my personality had to match my size. By senior year of high school, I weighed 160 pounds and was ready to make a change. Hoping to become a new and improved Niki, I moved from New York to San Diego for college in August 2013. Since people out west are active and outdoorsy, I assumed I would be, too; I also thought I’d kick my junk food habit. The problem: My meal plan gave me access to every fast food chain on campus. In two months, I gained the freshman 15 on top of my already overweight frame.
Finding what works
By spring semester, I realized my size was making it hard for me to get around. Fed up, I began logging an hour and a half on the elliptical early each morning in the empty campus gym. I dropped 20 pounds in three months. Unfortunately, I also tried several fad diets, which resulted in a year of ups and downs on the scale.
So I spent the summer before my junior year studying body-building sites, learning from fitness influencers, prepping meals, and eating clean. By August, I was down to 138 pounds, and for the rst time ever I liked my reflection in the mirror.
Falling for fitness
I continued to strength train five or six days a week during my junior year and entered a 12-week body transformation challenge in January 2016. I didn’t win, but my preparation brought me down to my lowest weight: 109 pounds. These days, I’m still lifting weights and eating right. I’ve also added hikes around Cowles Mountain to my regimen. Five years ago, I’d never even gone to a gym. Freshman year of college, I’d show up at dawn, too ashamed to be seen. Today? I’m taking sweaty sel es and loving it.
Four tricks that helped Niki get in the best shape of her life
1. Scale down. Buying a food scale was critical for me, since I always overate. Weighing my meals helped me learn what a proper portion size actually looked like.
2. Share your success. I used to love seeing people’s progress pics on Instagram; they made me feel like change was possible. I now share photos of my own transformation on my account, @nikituck, hoping to motivate others who are on a weight-loss journey.
3. Choose a motto. My favorite quote is from George Bernard Shaw: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” This pushed me to keep working toward my goals and reminded me that I could make whatever I wanted of myself.
4. Go ahead—splurge. I’m all for indulging, because the occasional blowout teaches my body to appreciate the healthy foods I typically eat. My go-to splurge? Mexican food, always.
As told to Anthea Levi
First, start with an online calorie calculator. (You’re not going to count calories, but this will help you figure out your macros). The calculator you use should ask for factors like your age, gender, activity level, and goal weight (or your current weight, if you’re trying to maintain it). It will estimate how many calories you need in a day to hit your target. “It’s not set in stone, but it’s a starting point,” says Salter.
To lose weight, lower your usual daily calorie intake by 100 to 250 calories, suggests Irick. That may not sound like a lot, but this way you can adjust to macro counting, give it time to work, and see a downward trend in your weight. “I am pretty conservative because for me as a coach, the goal is to keep you eating as much as possible while still seeing progress,” she says. Plus, if you reduce it too much, it’s hard to go any lower and adjust as needed when your weight loss hits a plateau.
Next, Salter suggests aiming for a number of grams of protein per day that’s equal to your weight in pounds. So a 140-pound woman should set her protein goal at 140 grams per day. You’ll notice that’s far more than the RDA of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. In the latter scenario, a 140-pound woman would need about 50 grams of protein daily. Given protein’s important role in weight loss, you’ll want to consume more of it.
Then, fat and carb numbers will totally depend on your goals and taste preferences. Let’s say your calorie goal is 2000 calories per day. One gram of protein supplies four calories. If you’re eating 140 grams of protein, you’re getting 560 calories from protein. You have 1440 calories remaining to split between fat and carbs.
One gram of carbohydrate also supplies four calories, and one gram of fat contains nine calories. From there, you do the math (aka, count your macros). “You plug in and adjust the number of grams of fat and carbs that meets your taste and energy preference,” says Salter. For example, a healthy plate can be broken up as a four-ounce serving of protein, one to two cups of vegetables, one-half to one cup whole grains, and one to two tablespoons of fat via butter, salt, or salad dressing, adds Irick.
RELATED: 7 Breakfasts Under 300 Calories
Counting macros is a trial and error process, and it can take time before you arrive at a macros combo that works best for you. You’ll know you’ve found it when you feel good, have energy, can tackle your workout, and you start to move toward your weight loss goals at the healthy rate of 1-2 pounds per week on average.
In one of the largest studies to compare the health effects of low fat and low carbohydrate diets, researchers say the focus on fat may have been all wrong.
This article originally appeared on Time.com.
If there’s one message that most people get about their diet, it’s to cut back on fat. Too much fat, especially the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal meat, dairy products and cheese, can clog up arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and obesity.
But fat may not be only culprit in those unhealthy conditions. In recent years, studies have revealed that cutting back on fat doesn’t always contribute to a lower risk of heart disease or reduced chance of dying early. In fact, some studies show the opposite, that people who eat extremely low amounts of fat tend to die earlier.
That may be because of something else they’re eating instead. In one of the most comprehensive studies to date looking at how diet affects health and mortality, researchers led by a team at McMaster University report that rather than lowering fat, more people might benefit from lowering the amount of carbohydrates they eat. In a study published in the Lancet, they found that people eating high quantities of carbohydrates, which are found in breads and rice, had a nearly 30% higher risk of dying during the study than people eating a low-carb diet. And people eating high-fat diets had a 23% lower chance of dying during the study’s seven years of follow-up compared to people who ate less fat.
The results, say the authors, point to the fact that rather than focusing on fat, health experts should be advising people to lower the amount of carbohydrates they eat. In the study, which involved 135,000 people from 18 different countries, the average diet was made up of 61% carbohydrates, 23% fat and 15% protein. In some countries, like China, south Asia and Africa, however, the amount of carbohydrates in the diet was much higher, at 63% to 67%. More than half of the people in the study consumed high-carbohydrate diets.
The findings add more data to the continuing debate over the best advice for healthy eating. When the focus on cholesterol emerged in the 1970s, connecting fatty foods and heart disease, doctors urged people to reduce the fat in their diet by cutting back on red meat, dairy products, eggs and fried foods. Food makers took up the mantra, and pumped out products low in fat. But they replaced the fat with carbohydrates, which scientists now understand may be just as unhealthy, if not more so, than fat.
That’s because carbohydrates are easily stored as glucose in the body, and they can raise blood sugar levels, contributing to obesity and diabetes — both of which are also risk factors for heart disease.
MORE: The Case for Whole Milk
So why has there been so much focus on fat? The researchers say that the first studies to link fat to heart disease were conducted primarily in North America and Europe, which has the highest consumption of fat worldwide. It’s possible that different diet advice may be needed for different populations. In western cultures, where there is an excess of fat, reducing fat may play a role in lowering heart disease, as long as people aren’t replacing the fat with carbohydrates.
MORE: Ending the War on Fat
In other parts of the world, where carbohydrates make up a large part of the diet, cutting back on carbs may make more sense than focusing on fat. “Individuals with high carbohydrate intake might benefit from a reduction in carbohydrate intake and an increase in the consumption of fats,” the study authors write.
More study will also be needed to figure out exactly how much fat and how much carbohydrates should be recommended for optimal health. The study did not compare, for example, people who ate low-fat diets to those who ate low-carb diets to see how their diets affected their mortality.
Summer can feel like one looong semi-vacation—and it’s easy to fall into the trap of the “anything goes” vacay mindset for oh, three whole months. If you’ve indulged more often than you planned (hello, BBQ, ice cream, and many glasses of frosé!), you may be itching to get back on track, and recommit to clean eating this fall. Here are a few simple ways you can prepare to hit reset after Labor Day.
Eat every 3 to 5 hours
And start with breakfast, even if you don’t feel especially hungry first thing in the morning. Regular meals help regulate your hunger hormones, keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady, and maximize your metabolism—which are all key factors for seeing quick weight-loss results.
Get in the habit of prepping clean meals and snacks, and choose some go-to recipes, so you can stock up on the right ingredients. A good breakfast option is a veggie and avocado omelet, with a side of fresh fruit. For lunch try fresh greens lightly tossed with vinaigrette made from balsamic vinegar, Dijon, lemon, and Italian seasoning; and topped with lean protein, avocado, and a small scoop of quinoa or chickpeas.
At dinner you can’t go wrong with a veggie “pasta“: Sauté a generous portion of veggies in low-sodium veggie broth with garlic and herbs, and serve over a bed of cooked spaghetti squash. Then add a lean protein on top, and garnish with sliced almonds. If there’s a long stretch between lunch and dinner, snack on nuts or seeds and fresh fruit.
This fall become the type of person who packs a lunch! Sign up for our 21-Day Healthy Lunch Challenge now
Commit to H2O
Making water your beverage of choice is one of the most impactful changes you can adopt. Why? There are lots of reasons: Water curbs appetite, and supports metabolism, digestion, and circulation. It can also do wonders for your skin, and help you de-bloat from sodium-triggered fluid retention.
Start weaning yourself off bubbly beverages, and all drinks sweetened with sugar and even natural, no-cal substitutes. Also, begin every day with a tall glass of water; then sip three 16-ounce servings throughout the day. If you don’t like water plain, add lemon or lime, sliced cucumber and mint, or slightly mashed berries.
This strategy is one of the quickest ways to flatten your belly, and get sweet cravings under control. One of my personal tricks is to fill an eight-cup water filtering pitcher at night and finish it the next day. If I’m going to be away from home, I use the pitcher to fill a stainless steel bottle to take with.
RELATED: 14 Surprising Causes of Dehydration
Cut back, but don’t omit carbs
Yes, curbing carbs can help you shed pounds, but in my experience, nixing them altogether can backfire. A no-carb diet may lead to crankiness, and cravings that trigger binge eating. It can also lead people to consume an excessive number of calories from low-carb foods like nuts. Instead of banishing carbs, I recommend including a small serving of fiber- and nutrient-rich carbohydrates in each meal. Think of them as an accent, not the main attraction.
For example, at breakfast you might have a cup of fresh fruit, or a half cup of cooked oats. Then at lunch and dinner, have half-cup portions of foods like quinoa, brown rice, pulses, and sweet potato. Increase the amount if needed, based on your activity level, but make sure the veggie portion of each meal is at least twice the size of the carb-heavy side.
I recommend breaking out your measuring cups to put together your meals—at least for a little while. It’s a pain, but it will help you become familiar with these new portion sizes, so eventually they become second nature.
Stock up on dark chocolate
Slashing sugar is a good idea, but it’s not realistic to declare that a speck of sugar will never again cross your lips. To get your fix healthfully, and with fewer calories, make a few squares of dark chocolate (with at least 70% cacao) your daily treat. Research has shown that a small amount of dark chocolate can satisfy cravings for both sweet and salty foods. It also packs antioxidants and minerals, and is hearty-healthy too. You might savor one square after lunch, and another after dinner. Many clients tell me that knowing they have this treat to look forward to every day helps them say “no” to temptations, and stay on track.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.
This article originally appeared on Time.com.
Whether you have some extra weight in your upper arms or rear end, it makes sense that targeting those areas with exercise—curls for your arms, lunges for your butt—would slim them down.
Weight-loss experts refer to this as “spot reduction.” But it turns out that in most cases, this kind of laser-focused weight loss isn’t possible. One study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that six weeks of intensive ab workouts did nothing to slim the exercisers’ midsections. A related study found that 12-weeks of one-armed workouts resulted in less loose skin in the trained arm, but zero fat loss.
Working out just one part of your body probably won’t slim it down, but some body parts are more likely to shed fat when you exercise. Your stomach is one of them.
“Some fat deposits are more metabolically active than others, and those may be more responsive to exercise interventions,” says Arthur Weltman, a professor of medicine and chair of the department of kinesiology at the University of Virginia. “Abdominal fat in particular is one of the most metabolically active fats.”
When you exercise, your workouts trigger the release of hormones, Weltman explains. The higher the exercise intensity, the more of these hormones your body pumps out, and the more of that metabolically active fat you lose. (Some of Weltman’s research suggests that high intensity interval training (HIIT), in particular, may slim your midsection.)
If you have fat stored in your gut, arms and chest, a lot of your fat is metabolically active, so it will likely respond to exercise and diet changes, he says. That’s especially true of your abdominal fat. The bad news is that extra fat in these regions is also linked with a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other ailments.
On the other hand, if you store excess fat in the hips, butt and thighs, that fat is not metabolically active. You have a lower risk for many diseases, “but that fat is very hard to reduce,” he says.
What type of exercise is best for targeting the tummy? One studycompared strength training to aerobic training in terms of fat reduction in different parts of the body and found that while aerobic training—running, swimming, cycling—led to greater whole-body fat loss, resistance training targeted abdominal fat in particular.
In a nutshell, spot-targeting fat isn’t very effective—in most cases. But if you’re trying to lose fat around your stomach, a mix of resistance training and high-intensity aerobic exercise, along with a healthy diet, may help reduce your belly fat.