Dietary Mistakes: What Not To Do

Dietary Mistakes: What Not To Do

What sportsman, whether in competition or otherwise, has not suffered at one time or another from cramps, hunger pangs, exhaustion, digestive problems, stitches, a sharp decline in muscular tonus, or desperate thirst?

All these problems can be prevented by a balanced, suitable intake of food, either before, during or after the competition. In fact, good eating habits should be adopted a long time in advance. They play a large part in bringing the athlete gradually up to top form. The opposite is also true-a freak diet during the competition or pre-competition period frequently results in poor performance during exertion.

Among athletes, there are two extremes: some over-sacrifice dietary rules to gastronomy, while some do quite the opposite, building dietetics up into an infallible and miraculous means of helping them win victories. According to the latter, success depends on a so-called “wonder” foodstuff or even nutrient, whether it be raw meat, vitamins, potassium, sugar or glucose, etc. In both cases, the nutritional mistakes or beliefs are numerous. We shall therefore look at the most common dietary mistakes and beliefs which are encountered in the sporting environment.

Related Link: Life and Trends

Work less and eat chocolate for a healthy heart

Work less and eat chocolate for a healthy heart

Eat dark chocolate, watch funny movies, and avoid stressful jobs are ingredients for a healthy heart.

Eat dark chocolate, watch funny movies, avoid stressful jobs, and pedal hard when biking are all ingredients in the recipe for a healthy heart, according to experts meeting in Paris this week.

Whether one is afflicted by a heart attack, high blood pressure or constricted arteries depends in large measure on a host of lifestyle choices. But the ideal formula for avoiding heart problems remains elusive: it is hard to tease apart the factors that impact cardiovascular health, and the right mix of things to do — or not do — can vary from person to person. Even commonsense measures such as exercise or a balanced diet must be fine-tuned.

It is not, for example, how long one rides a bike but the intensity of one’s effort that matters most, according to research presented Monday at a five-day gathering, ending Wednesday, of the European Society of Cardiology.

The study, led by Danish cardiologist Peter Schnohr, showed that men who regularly cycled at a fast clip survive 5.3 years longer than men who pedalled at a much slower pace. Exerting “average intensity” was enough to earn an extra 2.9 years.

Work less and eat chocolate for a healthy heart

For women, the gap was less striking but still significant: 2.9 and 2.2 years longer, respectively, compared to slowpokes. “A greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individual’s own perception of intensity,” Schnohr said in a statement.

The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” was proven true by another study which found that a good dose of humour helps blood vessels.

Michael Miller, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, had already shown in earlier research spanning a decade that men and women with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to see typical life events in a humorous light.

In the new study, he asked volunteers to first watch a stressful movie such as Steven Spielberg 1998 World War II film “Saving Private Ryan.” During harrowing battle scenes, their blood vessel lining developed a potentially unhealthy response called vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow.

But when the same subjects later saw a funny, heart-warming movie the blood vessel linings expanded. Over all, there was “a 30-to-50 percent difference in blood vessel diameter between laughter and mental stress phases,” Miller said.

Acutely stressful working conditions, both physical and mental, have long been associated with poor health. But new research unveiled Monday shows that a mix of intense pressure to produce results coupled with conditions making it hard to meet those demands is a recipe for heart disease, and even early mortality.

Finnish researchers led by Tea Lallukka of the University of Helsinki, in a review of recent academic literature, concluded that “job strain and overtime are associated with unhealthy behaviours, weight gain and obesity,” according to a press release.

At the same time, they noted, “employed people are generally better off.” Perhaps the most painless path to better cardiovascular health is one that comes all-too-naturally to many people: eating chocolate.

Earlier research had established a link between cocoa-based confections and lowered blood pressure or improvement in blood flow, often attributed to antioxidants, but the scale of the impact remained obscure.

Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University of Cambridge reviewed half-a-dozen studies covering 100,000 patients, with and without heart disease, comparing the group that consumed the most and the least chocolate in each.

They found that the highest level of chocolate intake was associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease, and a 20 percent drop in strokes, when compared with the chocolate-averse cohort.

No significant reduction was reported in the incidence of heart attack. The findings, alas, come with an important caveat: the healthful molecules are found in the bitter cacao, not in the sugar and fat with which they are routinely combined.

“Commercially available chocolate is very calorific and eating too much of it could in itself lead to weight gain, risk of diabetes and heart disease.”

Is Greek yogurt really healthier?

Is Greek yogurt really healthier?

There are two reasons nutritionists love the trendy breakfast food even more than regular yogurt.

Move over, regular yogurt. Going Greek is in, and this exotic option has elbowed its way onto refrigerator shelves everywhere. Most give a big thumbs up to its taste—tangier and less sweet, as well as creamier—but is it healthier than its conventional counterpart?

First, to be clear: Both Greek and regular yogurt, in their plain, nonfat or low-fat forms, can be part of a healthful diet. They’re low in calories and packed with calcium and live bacterial cultures. But our Mediterranean friend—which is strained extensively to remove much of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it its thick consistency—does have an undeniable edge. In roughly the same amount of calories, it can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half.

Those are “two things dietitians love,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet. “For someone who wants the creamier texture, a little bit of a protein edge, and a sugar decrease, going Greek is definitely not all hype.” And it’s really got a following: In the past five years, Greek yogurt sales nationwide have skyrocketed, likely because it satisfies consumers’ needs for health, convenience, and taste, according to Nielsen, a global marketing and advertising research company.

Here’s a closer look at how the two stack up nutrition-wise.

Protein

Greek yogurt is high in protein, which helps promote fullness. A typical 6-ounce serving contains 15 to 20 grams, the amount in 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat. That makes it particularly appealing to vegetarians, who sometimes struggle to get enough of the nutrient. An identical serving of regular yogurt, on the other hand, provides just 9 grams, meaning you may feel hunger pangs sooner.

Carbohydrates

Going Greek is a smart choice for low-carb dieters. It contains roughly half the carbs as the regular kind—5 to 8 grams per serving compared with 13 to 17. Plus, the straining process removes some of the milk sugar, lactose, making Greek yogurt less likely to upset the lactose-intolerant. Remember, however, that “both types of yogurt can contain high amounts of carbs if they’re sweetened with sugar or another sweetening agent,” says Kari Hartel, a Missouri-based registered dietitian. “No matter which type you choose, opt for yogurt with less added sugar.”

Fat

Be wary of Greek yogurt’s fat content. In just 7 ounces, Fage’s full-fat Greek yogurt packs 16 grams of saturated fat—or 80 percent of your total daily allowance if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet. (That’s more than in three Snickers bars.) Dannon’s regular full-fat yogurt has 5 grams of saturated fat in an 8-ounce serving. Saturated fat raises total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk for heart disease. Read nutrition labels carefully. If you’re going Greek, stick to low-fat and fat-free versions.

Sodium

A serving of Greek yogurt averages 50 milligrams of sodium—about half the amount in most brands of the regular kind. (Low-sodium versions of regular yogurt are available.) Too much salt can boost blood pressure and increase the risk of other heart problems. The federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines urge Americans to cap sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, or 1,500 milligrams if they’re older than 50, African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Calcium

Regular yogurt provides 30 percent of the federal government’s recommended daily amount. Greek yogurt loses some of its calcium through the straining process, but still packs a wallop. A 6-ounce cup typically supplies about 20 percent of the daily recommendation. If you’re still worried about calcium intake, load up on milk, seeds, and almonds, says Sarah Krieger, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.Still undecided on which team to join? Compare the labels of Dannon’s regular and Greek varieties. (Other popular brands of Greek yogurt include Chobani, and Stonyfield Farm’s Oikos.)

Greek (5.3 ounces, nonfat, plain)

Calories: 80
Total fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 10 milligrams
Sodium: 50 milligrams
Sugar: 6 grams
Protein: 15 grams
Calcium: 15 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet

Regular (6 ounces, nonfat, plain)

Calories: 80
Total fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol 5 milligrams
Sodium: 120 milligrams
Sugar: 12 grams
Protein: 9 grams
Calcium: 30 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet.Greek (5.3 ounces, nonfat, plain)

Though most experts agree that Greek yogurt has a nutritional edge, both kinds help you lose weight by keeping you full on fewer calories. The key is sticking to plain, nonfat, or low-fat varieties. In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard researchers found that yogurt can keep help keep age-related weight gain in check. People tended to lose nearly 1 pound every four years if they added a daily serving of yogurt to their diet, probably because of the way bacterial cultures affect our intestines.

If you do opt for Greek yogurt, take advantage of its versatility. Mix it with seasonings like garlic, dill, and parsley to create a unique dip for carrots, celery sticks, or cucumber slices. Toss in some berries or high-fiber granola. You can also substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream on tacos, for example, or for the eggs and oil in baked goods. It’s an acceptable replacement for fatty ingredients like cream cheese, mayonnaise, and butter. “Its thick texture makes it an excellent swap for mayonnaise on sandwiches, or in dishes like potato salad, egg salad, pasta salad, and coleslaw,” Hartel says. “Since these are comfort foods, it makes it easier to transition to using yogurt in recipes.”

Can drinking water help you lose weight?

Drinking water before meals aids weight loss

Dieters have been encouraged to try this trick for ages, but many wonder if it works.

Late November marks the start of the gluttonous holiday season. But a simple step might help keep food intake in check: a glass of water before meals. Dieters have been encouraged to employ this trick for ages, with the reasoning quite simple: the water fills the stomach, thus reducing hunger. But only in recent years have studies borne this out.

In the most recent, a randomized trial published in the journal Obesity in February, scientists at Virginia Tech followed a group of overweight subjects age 55 and up on low-calorie diets for about three months. Half the people were told to drink two cups of water before every meal. At the end of the study, the water group had lost an average of 15.5 pounds, compared with 11 pounds in the other group.

A 2008 study showed a similar effect, finding a 13 percent reduction in calorie intake in overweight subjects who consumed water before breakfast. But a third study, this one in 2007, had a peculiar finding: drinking water 30 minutes before a meal reduced calorie intake and feelings of hunger in older adults, but had little effect on subjects under 35. It’s not clear why, but the researchers pointed out that because older adults are at increased risk of being overweight and obese, further studies should determine whether this is effective for the aging population.

Studies show the average person gains about a pound between Thanksgiving and January. Most adults gain one to two pounds a year over a lifetime, so staving off the holiday pound can go a long way.

Related Link: Weight Loss, Feel Motivated

Jessica Simpson to get back her weight-loss plan

Jessica Simpson to get back her weight-loss plan

The new mom reportedly has at least two good motivations to get back into her Daisy Dukes.

Now that Jessica Simpson has finally delivered her bundle of joy, she’s apparently prepared to lose weight for a bundle of cash.

Last December, the New York Post reported that the star had inked a $3 million deal with Weight Watchers to become its spokesperson. That means we could watch the reality TV star go from maternity duds to her Daisy Dukes.

The fashion mogul, who jokingly called herself “fat” while pregnant, has another motivation: She is planning to wed her fiancé, Eric Johnson, and would probably like to be slimmed down for her walk down the aisle.

Us Weekly, citing an unnamed source says Simpson “would have one year to use the point-counting program to ‘lose a significant amount of weight.’”

Then, as those familiar with the program know, there would be the big reveal of skinny Jessica, who would appear in ads for the diet company touting its formula for success.

The 31-year-old wouldn’t be the first star to cash in on her post-baby weight gain. Current spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson signed on with Weight Watchers after giving birth and lost 80 pounds on the diet plan.

And good news for the star, who has been enjoying being off diet and exercise of late: The Points Plus plan is flexible, assigning a number value to foods that dieters already eat. So J-Simp won’t have to give up the sandwiches (11 points) she craved throughout her pregnancy. All that’s required is simple math.

Simpson told Hello magazine that she put on 40 pounds during pregnancy, and added, "Eating and not having to worry too much about it has been fun. But I’m ready for it to be over. I’m ready to have my body back.

How co-workers can make you fat

How co-workers can make you fat

Peer pressure to indulge in a homemade treat isn’t the only potential diet danger at the office.

It’s one thing to keep an eye on workplace rivals. But another type of sabotage can be much harder to spot. Shawna Biggars’s saboteur would deliver dense, creamy slices of homemade carrot cake to her desk, “wanting affirmation that he was a great cook,” she says. When she politely declined, he would press, saying, “You can’t not have cake for the rest of your life,” she says.

Finally, Ms. Biggars, a human-resources director in Wichita, Kan., “had to sit him down and say, ‘If I were an alcoholic, you wouldn’t say, ‘Just take one drink.’ ” Over 2½ years, Ms. Biggars lost 120 pounds.

Some 29% of people on diets say colleagues pressure them to eat more, make fun of their diets or order them restaurant food they know isn’t on their diets, according to a recent survey of 325 dieters by Survey Sampling International for Medi-Weightloss Clinics, a Tampa, Fla., franchiser of physician-supervised weight-loss clinics.

The approach can seem innocuous, but can result in weight gain over time. A colleague brings in home-baked cookies to celebrate a promotion, a birthday or to rally the team, and who wants to look like they don’t appreciate the work of others if they decline?

Patrice Gibson, a sales representative for a medical-supply company, often sparred with her co-worker Michelle Nunemaker while they ate lunch at their desks. As Ms. Gibson laid out small, measured portions, Ms. Nunemaker “would make fun of what I was eating,” Ms. Gibson says. She predicted failure, saying, “I know people who did that and the minute they went off it, they gained it all back,” says Ms. Gibson, of Tampa, Fla. She let the criticisms “bounce off” her.

Ms. Nunemaker says she regarded Ms. Gibson’s strictly controlled diet as unhealthy and prefers “exercise and watching what you’re eating.” While she and Ms. Gibson kept the conversation light and friendly, “I was saying serious things that I really believed,” she says.

When Ms. Gibson shed 35 pounds, Ms. Nunemaker congratulated her. But “it didn’t change my opinion,” she says. Peers’ attitudes and behavior are linked to success in weight loss, according to a study published last month in the journal Obesity. Among 3,330 participants in a team-based weight-loss competition, including many teams of co-workers, those who reported having positive influence from teammates lost a larger percentage of their body weight than others.

“Social contacts can be extremely powerful,” says Tricia Leahey, the study’s lead author. While peers’ encouragement helps, dieting failures or negative attitudes among colleagues can discourage people from sticking to their own weight-loss plans, says Dr. Leahey, an assistant professor of research on obesity at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. “It cuts both ways.”

At the annual “chili and dessert cook-off” competition Ms. Biggars helps organize at her company, co-workers asked again and again, “Why aren’t you eating?” she says. “It’s a dieter’s nightmare.”

Deep down, some co-workers may feel abandoned by a dieter who no longer joins them for big lunches or happy hour, says Chelsey Millstone, corporate dietitian for Medi-Weightloss Clinics. Some feel jealous because they aren’t losing weight. Or they see a trimmer colleague as a career threat, Ms. Millstone says. Consciously or not, these co-workers may pressure a dieter by “calling them out” with embarrassing personal questions or comments, she says.

Pushing back can cause some “very touchy” conversations, however, says Becky Hand, a registered dietitian with the weight-loss and fitness website SparkPeople, based in Cincinnati. Colleagues often think they’re showing appreciation by bringing in food or building harmony in a department, and they can get annoyed or hurt. In her work as a hospital nutritionist, Ms. Hand coaches weight-loss patients to script a response in their heads and practice in front of the mirror, saying such lines as, “I’ve had your food in the past and it’s always delicious. But I’m sorry, at this time in my life, eating those extra whatever isn’t benefiting my health.”

Three diet mistakes that can make you fat

Three diet mistakes that can make you fat

Decadent dips ruin the benefits of healthy choices like raw veggies.

Sometimes a carrot stick is just a carrot stick. But for many of us, it’s a crunchy, bright orange vehicle for decadent dip—blue cheese, perhaps, or a nice herbed ranch. And as you dunk your sixth or seventh spear into that delicious dressing, you might tell yourself, Well, at least I’m eating a hearty serving of veggies right now. True–but you’re also consuming quite a lot of salt, fat, and calories.

Wrecking our otherwise healthy food picks along with our waistlines is often beyond our control. In his book The End of Overeating (Rodale), former FDA commissioner David Kessler, MD, explains that when you smell, see, or even think about “highly palatable” foods–ones that are high in fat, sugar, or salt–your brain can trigger the release of dopamine, the reward-seeking neurotransmitter. So in a way, you can blame the dopamine surge for forcing you to eat that glazed doughnut. The fact is, it’s possible to stop your pleasure-seeking brain from making menu decisions.

You dunk veggies into fat traps

While it may seem like a good idea to watch Parenthood with a plate of crisp crudités on the coffee table in front of you, that jar of peanut butter sitting right next to it can spell trouble. Sure, peanut butter provides healthy fat and protein, but it also has 94 calories per tablespoon–so this seemingly healthy snack can tip the scale in the wrong direction. And 2 tablespoons of creamy dressing can pack 145 calories and 15 g of fat. “Eating just one hundred calories more each day can translate to about a ten-pound weight gain over the course of a year,” says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

The healthy move: If you’re dying to dip, mix fat-free plain Greek yogurt (it has about twice the protein of regular yogurt) with salsa or zingy seasonings such as horseradish or curry powder. Prepared hummus or black-bean dips coat raw veggies with protein, fiber, and flavor; just check the labels because fat and calories can vary among brands. Finally, beat boredom by introducing new vegetables into your rotation, such as crunchy jicama or radishes that offer a naturally peppery bite.

You go for fried sweet potatoes

Besides the beta-carotene (a disease-fighting carotenoid that our bodies convert to vitamin A) that’s responsible for their vibrant color, sweet potatoes provide vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber–all for about 100 calories in a medium potato. But when you fry these and other vegetables (hello, broccoli bites and zucchini sticks), the fat and calorie counts skyrocket. Not only that, but a study in the Journal of Food Science found that certain vegetables, like zucchini, actually lose some of their antioxidant power when fried.

The healthy move: A baked sweet potato is the worry-free choice (mash in 2 tablespoons of a creamy fat-free dressing for extra flavor); eat the skin and you’ll also get at least 4 g of fiber. If you’re just not satisfied with a baked spud, buy a bag of oven-ready frozen fries at the supermarket. Compare labels and choose ones that have no trans fat and no more than 0.5 g saturated fat per serving. See the packaged sweet potato “fries” that Prevention likes best.

You drown your food in olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is high in “good” monounsaturated fat–the kind of fat that can help lower LDL cholesterol–but it also has about 477 calories and 54 g of fat per 1/4 cup. If you don’t measure the amount of oil you use to sauté, grill, broil, or roast, you can end up with way more than you need.

The healthy move: When grilling or broiling, use a pastry brush or nonaerosol pump to lightly glaze food with oil, says Jennifer Nelson, RD, director of clinical dietetics and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. If you’re making a stir-fry, wipe a paper towel dipped in olive oil around the wok before adding ingredients–or better yet, use a nonstick skillet. You can also make your sautés sizzle with wine, soy sauce, chicken broth, or 100% carrot, tomato, or vegetable juice.

Daily habits to guarantee weight loss

Daily habits to guarantee weight loss

It’s not just what you eat or how much you exercise that can impact your fitness goals.

Understanding and working with your body’s natural hunger and sleep rhythms will vanquish cravings, increase energy, and help you lose more weight.

It’s not just what you eat or how much you exercise that matters; it’s the timing of each component that is the true secret to weight loss success. Research shows that our bodies’ inner eat-and-sleep clocks have been thrown completely out of whack, thanks to all-day food cues and too much nighttime artificial light. The result: You’re caught in a “fat cycle”: a constant flow of hunger hormones that makes you prone to cravings. By tuning in to your body’s natural eat/sleep schedule, you can finally say good-bye to your belly.

The Perfect Day of Eating

Drop Around The Clock! Follow this hour-by-hour slim-down schedule to control hunger hormones, banish cravings, and get trim and toned–fast!

6 to 8 AM: Get Moving.
Within a half hour of rising and before you eat breakfast, do 20 minutes of cardio. Research has found that exercising before breakfast may help you burn fat more efficiently. If you can get outside, even better. Early morning sunlight helps your body naturally reset itself to a healthier sleep/wake cycle (regular indoor lights don’t have the same effect).

6:55 to 8:55 AM: Drink Up.
Before every meal, drink two 8-ounce glasses of water. Research shows that people who drank this amount lost 5 pounds more than nonguzzlers.

7 to 9 AM: Eat Breakfast.
The alarm clock also wakes up ghrelin, the “feed me” hormone made in your stomach. Ignore ghrelin and your body will produce even more, eventually making you ravenous. To suppress ghrelin’s effect, eat a mix of complex carbs and protein, such as eggs and whole grain toast, within an hour of waking.

10 to 11 AM: Munch Midmorning.
Ghrelin begins to rise again a couple of hours before lunch. It turns off when you chow down, particularly on carbs and protein, so have a small combo snack, like blueberries and Greek-style yogurt.

12 to 1 PM: Have Your Midday Meal.
Galanin, another hunger hormone that makes you crave fat, rises around lunchtime. However, dietary fat causes you to produce more galanin, which then tells you to eat more fat. Instead, fill up with complex carbs and protein, such as chicken-vegetable soup or black bean chili.

2 to 3 PM: Take a Nap.
Instead of hitting the vending machines, find a quiet place to grab a few Zzzs. (Hint: Your parked car is the perfect impromptu sleep pod!) Just set an alarm–15 to 20 minutes will energize your body without affecting your ability to sleep at night.

3:30 PM: Get Buzzed.
Need a boost? This is your last chance to have a cup of joe. Drinking coffee after 4 PM disturbs circadian rhythms and can keep you from falling asleep at night.

4 to 8 PM: Trim and Tone.
Now’s the time to do your strength training, plus any additional cardio. This is when your body temperature is highest, so you’re primed for peak performance. In one study, subjects who worked out in the late afternoon or early evening built 22% more muscle than morning exercisers.

5 to 7 PM: Time to Dine.
To ensure you don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night, add a serving of healthy fats, such as flaxseed or fish oil, to your meal. If you’re a wine drinker, pour a glass now. Drinking later can delay dream (REM) sleep, waking you frequently during the night.

9 to PM: Have a Presleep Snack.
Enjoy a carb-based bedtime snack, such as a serving of low-fat frozen yogurt. Nighttime carbs create tryptophan, which helps your brain produce serotonin. This feel-good chemical triggers your body to make melatonin, the sleep hormone.

9 to 10:30 PM: Power Down.
Step away from digital devices, including the TV. They emit a blue spectrum of light that’s even more disruptive to sleep than regular bulbs. Do something calming–read, take a bath–in dim light so you’re ready to nod off when you hit the sheets.

9:30 to 11 PM: Go to Sleep.
Crawl under the covers at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. Having a regular sleep-and-wake schedule helps you fall asleep faster over time.

Foods that do the weight-loss work for you

Foods that do the weight-loss work for you

Increasing your fiber intake is an easy way to encourage your body to shed nagging pounds.

Do you want to lose weight for good in the new year? Try increasing your daily fiber intake in the form of nutrient-rich high-fiber foods. Why fiber? Recent research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests eating more fiber as a way to prevent weight gain or even encourage weight loss. Over the course of the two-year study, the researchers found that boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories resulted in about 4 1/2 pounds of weight lost.

Try it for yourself. If you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, aim to increase your fiber by 16 grams. Here are 7 fiber-rich foods that help do the weight-loss work for you.

1. Apples: A medium apple (3-inch diameter) contains 4 grams of fiber; a large apple (3 1/4-inch diameter) has 5. Apples also offer a bit of vitamin C and potassium.

2. Green Beans: One cup boasts 4 grams of fiber, plus a healthy dose (30% daily value) or skin-helping vitamin C.

3. Sweet Potatoes: A medium-size baked sweet potato (2 inches wide, 5 inches long…a little larger than your computer mouse), skin included, offers 5 grams of fiber-for just 103 calories. It’s also a nutrition powerhouse: providing 438% daily value of eye-healthy vitamin A (eat these foods to help you see more clearly), 37% daily value of vitamin C, plus some potassium, vitamin E, iron, magnesium and phytochemicals like beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

4. Raspberries: Raspberries are a great source of fiber-some of it soluble in the form of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. One cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber. Raspberries are also an excellent source of vitamin C.

5. Strawberries: One cup of strawberries has a respectable 3 grams of fiber and more than a full day’s recommended dose of vitamin C-an antioxidant that helps keep skin healthy.

6. Chickpeas: Just 3/4 cup of chickpeas has a whopping 8 grams of fiber! You also get a good amount of vitamin B6 and folate, both of which play a role in forming healthy new cells.

7. Pumpkin: A cup of cooked pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber. You also get vitamin A (245% daily value), vitamins C, E and potassium.

12 ways to cut 500 calories a day

10 ways to cut 500 calories a day

Many skinny people have a habit that helps them burn calories without even thinking about it.

1. A little here, a little there

The most basic way to lose weight is to slash calories. That’s Diet 101. But how many do you really have to cut or burn to see results? It’s simple: You can drop a pound a week by trimming 500 calories each day. (Calories burned are based on a 150-pound woman.)

2. Tap your foot

Your skinnier friends are probably fidgeters, who burn up to 350 calories a day just by tapping their feet or being restless.

Try it for a few days. Walk around while you’re on the phone, or tap out a tune with your hands or feet (in the privacy of your own office, of course).

3. Step away from the nuts

Especially if they’re in a big bowl. The bigger the serving bowl, the more you’ll eat, Cornell University researchers say.

Nuts have heart-healthy fats, but they’re also high in calories: 1 handful (about 1 ounce) of oil-roasted mixed nuts has 175 calories; 3 handfuls have 525. Cut out nuts altogether and save more than 500 calories.

Can’t resist ’em? Eat pistachios: 2 handfuls are just 159 calories, and the shelling will slow down your munching.

4. Don’t eat in front of the TV

You’ll eat up to 288 calories more, according to research from the University of Massachusetts.

Instead, eat at the table, and trade 1 hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that’s 527 calories burned.

5. Limit salad toppings

A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than lasagna or fettuccine Alfredo. Cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, dried fruit, croutons, and vinaigrettes can add lots of calories.

Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms), and using half the dressing.

6. Use smaller plates

Swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. You’ll eat 20 to 25% less—and save up to 500 calories. You won’t feel any less full, either, researchers say.

7. Skip the whip

Or at least size it down. Dessert-like coffee creations can contain as many as 670 calories, with large sizes and options like whipped cream, whole milk, and syrups.

Craving whipped cream? Try it on a shot of espresso for a total of just 30 calories. You save 640 calories!

8. Count your chips (and crackers)

No, you can’t eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it’s waaaay too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. (Remember Oprah’s blue corn–tortilla chip confession?)

A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.

9. Serve and sit

Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds.

Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too.

10. Skinny up cocktails

Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices, and creamy additions turn drinks into desserts: an indulgent Mudslide can have more than 800 calories.

Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice, or a squeeze of citrus; or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You’ll save up to 800 calories.

11. Don’t clean your plate

Leave 25% of your food on the plate at every meal, says weight-loss expert James O. Hill, PhD, author of The Step Diet. Save what’s remaining as leftovers for a yummy lunch the next day.

If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you’ll cut 500 calories.

12. Get enough sleep

A lack of shut-eye can make you snack, new research from the University of Chicago shows. People who got only 5 1/2 hours of sleep noshed more during the day. Snooze more and save about 1,087 calories.