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Eat Well to Live Well

Mar 3, 2021

Susan Williams

by Susan Williams
PT, DPT | Metro Center Location

Let’s Celebrate “National Nutrition Month” Together

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created National Nutrition Month to increase awareness of nutrition’s importance and how nutrition can help you achieve your goals. Specifically, the month is geared to educate people on the importance of making healthy food and drink choices, create improved eating habits, and incorporate more physical activity into their daily lifestyle to prevent the onset of many chronic diseases.

I hear a lot from my clients about what they “used to be able to do” and “used to look like” before they were injured. Many people undergoing physical therapy tend to gain weight due to their pain-limiting movement and exercise, along with the emotional tendency to eat when they are suffering. Here are a few tips that may help you on your journey to looking, feeling, and living better.

Cardio Versus Cutting Calories
Woman jogging outside by the ocean

The two most effective ways to lose weight are adding cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, biking, running, and decreasing your caloric intake. There are benefits to choosing one over the other. For example, if you have significant arthritis in your knees, making walking painful, initially cutting calories to lose weight may be the smarter and more comfortable choice. Alternatively, if you have been dieting for a while and are already at a low caloric intake, adding cardio may be your only option. However, both may be used in combination to accelerate and meet your goal.

Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Image of fruits and vegetable shaped like a heart

We need fruits and vegetables in our diet to ensure that we are getting a full dose of all the essential minerals and vitamins our bodies need to perform optimally. However, one of the biggest problems I see from patients is excessive carbohydrate intake. While fruits may be a better choice than potato chips, one small apple has 21g carbohydrates (77 calories), and one medium banana has 27g carbohydrates (105 calories). Adding one piece of fruit to each meal and snack can equate to an additional 125g of carbs or 500 calories over the course of the day. Be mindful of the amounts. Try for 4-5 servings of each per day; here’s a great infographic.

Timing of Meals

One of the most common myths I hear is that you cannot eat after 8 p.m. or all the food will be stored as fat. The second most common is that you need to eat multiple small meals a day to speed up your metabolism. Both could not be further from the truth. Eating at night will only cause the scale to give you a higher number in the morning. Recent studies have shown that fat loss is achieved in a caloric deficit, regardless of whether a majority of calories were consumed at night or spread evenly throughout the day4. When consuming the same number of calories over the day, be it between two large meals or six small meals, there is no difference in metabolic rate in overweight or obese individuals1,2. Furthermore, this was also true in healthy-weight individuals when consuming two versus seven meals per day3. Eat the number of meals you need when it works for your schedule to meet your nutritional needs each day without stressing the timing.

Alcohol Consumption

This one is short. Don’t forget that your nightcap not only has carbohydrates but it also has alcohol. Alcohol is a toxin to the body, which means that your body puts all stomach contents needing to be digested on hold while it rids your body of the alcohol. Each gram of alcohol requires nine calories of energy to break down and free it from your body. Even light beer adds nearly 80-125 calories for every 12oz, and a glass of red wine can add between 125-150 calories for a 5oz pour.

At Foothills, our goal is to get you back to the activities you love. If you’re looking for more tips on how to live a healthy life, contact a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic near you to schedule an appointment!

  1. Taylor, M. A., & Garrow, J. S. (2001). Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity,25(4), 519-528.
  2. Garrow, J. S., Durrant, M., Blaza, S., Wilkins, D., Royston, P., & Sunkin, S. (1981). The effect of meal frequency and protein concentration on the composition of the weight lost by obese subjects. British Journal of Nutrition,45(01), 5-15.
  3. Verboeket-Van De Venne, W. P., Westerterp, K. R., & Kester, A. D. (1993). Effect of the pattern of food intake on human energy metabolism. British Journal of Nutrition, 70(01), 103-115.
  4. Sofer, S., et al., Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2011. 19(10): p. 2006-14.



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