Spring is finally here! Finally, the opportunity to congratulate Seattle for behaving according to season, and enjoy tulips that Dougie in the spring breeze, and the first panic wave reminds you that you’ve got only a few weeks before bikini season (you get the point). Your innocent neurons automatically fire “detox diet’ and “cleanse”. Well, let me warn you that I am not a fan of the “drink maple syrup and eat lemon wedges” diet. Not because nutritionally they are a joke, but if you follow one, you morph into a mix of Tasmanian devil and Garfield, a creature with a short temper, little patience, an appetite with no boundaries, yet profound laziness.
Instead, how about something realistic with sustainable results? Here are tips to clean up your eating behaviors and make sure you are on track to tackle your goals.
Track Your Intake:
Do you know how much calories, fat, sugar, fiber, fluids, etc. you are concerned about, that you are consuming these days? This is where you need to start. Portions and packages are blowing up, so chances are that our “guesstimations” are undershooting significantly. For all of you smart phone owners, try MyNetDiary, MyFitnessPal, or Lose It! All are incredibly simply to set up and use. Scan barcodes of your own foods, enter in your own recipes, or select from the available reference library to input items into your daily log. Track for a minimum of three days (5 if you are willing) to get an idea of what you are consuming on average.
How many calories do you really need?
So you know what you are consuming, now look at how this compares to what you really need. Most tracking apps will tell you how many calories you need to achieve your goal (if you have entered your height, weight, and age).
Use the Hamwi equation to determine what a healthy weight is for your height. If you need to lose a few L-Bs, then try subtracting about 250 calories from the estimated energy expenditure (after multiplying for physical activity) to arrive at the total. This is pretty close to what is considered the “mindless margin,” according to researcher Brian Wansink, PhD.
This margin of 100-200 calories are calories you won’t realize you’re missing (i.e. you shouldn’t be complaining “I’m starving.”) Alternatively, a couple hundred extra calories consumed during the day might go right under your radar, and over time can lead to noticeable increases in your weight. Examine your daily log you’ve completed previously, and look to where you are overindulging to cut there first (cutting down by ½ cup of rice can be the easy fix).
Hydration is key always, but deserves special attention on the topic of cleansing as most of these crazy plans hone in on fluid intake. In addition to temperature regulation, and roles in vital cellular functions, fluids assist in removing toxins from the body. You need to know what your body requires, and there are several options to figure this one out:
- Look at your urine color. If it’s clear, you are hydrating appropriately (if you are taking vitamins this might be difficult to tell). If it’s dark, you need to up your fluid intake.
- If you are thirsty. This mechanism doesn’t fire at the optimal time to remind us to drink- in fact, it’s likely past the point that you need to hydrate.
Listen to the Institute of Medicine:
- General recommendations for women are ~2.7 liters (91 ounces), men ~3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of water daily from foods and beverages.
The mathematical way:
- The easiest is 35ml/kg.
- If you want to make this difficult to arrive at the near same answer (this one is likely slightly higher), take 1500ml for the first 20kg of your body weight, then add 20ml/kg if you are less than age 50, or 15ml/kg if you are greater than age 50.
- Some people recommend 1ml per 1kcal, however if you are on a calorie restriction, this may be leading to under hydration.
If you are physically active, replace fluids you have lost via exercise. How do you do it? The Sweat Test. This test takes your pre and post-workout weights, fluid intake and urine output, and duration of activity to determine your sweat rate (in ounces per hour). One pound of weight loss equates to approximately 15floz of fluid needed for replacement. Check this calculator out.