30 Snack Ideas from The Biggest Loser Club
It's better to make your own snacks rather than buy them off the shelf in the grocery store. This way, you're sure to get quality calories instead of empty ones. Here are some suggestions:
Snacks for Convenience
1. 3 dates stuffed with an almond in place of the pit (90 calories)
2. Ryvita cracker (2 crackers) with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (140 calories)
3. Medium orange and 6 whole cashews (110 calories)
4. Small apple and 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter (150 calories)
5. Yogurt (1/2 cup plain) and 5 almonds (105 calories)
6. 3 cups air-popped popcorn (80 calories) and 1 teaspoon canola oil plus a dash of salt (120 calories)
7. Banana, peeled and frozen (120 calories)
8. Kashi TLC granola bar (140 calories) - when buying "healthy" energy bars look for varieties that have at least 3 grams of fiber per 150 calories
9. Hard-boiled egg (75 calories)
10. 14 raw almonds, 1 miniature box of raisins (130 calories)
1. Edamame (1/2 cup), buy frozen and follow cooking instructions (80 calories)
2. 5 celery stalks (4" long) and 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (95 calories)
3. 1 large dill pickle and 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (125 calories)
4. Wasa Rye Crispbread (1 cracker) with 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (115 calories)
5. 2 slices turkey breast lunch meat rolled with 2 teaspoons cranberry jelly (100 calories)
6. Thinly sliced medium apple or pear with 1 ounce of cheese (150 calories)
7. Shrimp cocktail, 12 small shrimp with 1/4 cup cocktail sauce (100 calories)
8. 1/4 can tuna with 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt and 1 miniature box of raisins (125 calories)
9. Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup low-fat, and 1/3 cup canned pineapple (120 calories)
10. Veggie burger, soy-based, 2 pickle slices and 1 tablespoon of mustard (110 calories)
Crunchy and Filling
1. Whole grain rice cake (50 calories, see label) with 2 tablespoons of low-fat hummus (110 calories)
2. 7 baby carrots and 2 tablespoons hummus (100 calories)
3. 1 cucumber (8") sliced with 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt and sprinkling of dried dill (100 calories)
4. Greek salad: 1 cup of sliced tomato and cucumber with balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil and a spray of Bragg Liquid Aminos (105 calories)
5. Large tomato, sliced with 1 ounce fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil leaves (100 calories)
6. 2 cups of salad greens with 1 cup sliced cucumber and 1 tablespoon tahini dressing (70 calories, see label)
7. 2 cups raw spinach greens, balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and oregano (100 calories)
8. Carrot, beet and raisin salad: 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup shredded beets, 1 tablespoon raisins, 1 tablespoon Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette (90 calories)
9. Nori wrap: nori seaweed sheet rolled with 2 tablespoons hummus, slivered cucumber, shredded carrot, sprouts (125 calories)
10. 1 whole grain rice cake (35 calories, see label) with 1/4 California avocado (110 calories)
by Greg Hottinger, RD, The Biggest Loser Club nutrition expert
Ten Ways to Get Quality Sleep
Research is finding that those who get 7-9 hours of sleep are thinner than those who get less than seven. There are many theories as to why this may be true. One theory is that less sleep impairs glucose and insulin metabolism, making weight more difficult to lose. Another is that inadequate sleep may slow metabolism by lowering levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone. Another is that not getting enough sleep increases cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can affect appetite and metabolism. Yet another theory is that inadequate sleep has been shown to lower levels of the hormone leptin (this hormone signals fullness) and increase levels of ghrelin (this hormone signals hunger).
In addition to getting 7-9 hours of sleep, I recommend that you focus on QUALITY sleep. Here are 10 ways to get a better quality sleep:
1. Go to bed well hydrated (drink plenty of water during the afternoon and early evening).
2. Avoid bright lights in the evening (bright light interferes with melatonin production, which is a hormone we produce that helps us sleep).
3. Avoid eating two hours before going to sleep if possible.
4. Use white noise, like a fan, to mute out background noises to keep you at a deeper sleep level.
5. Make your bedroom as dark as possible.
6. Exercise during the day, but not in the evening.
7. Avoid stressful things like paying bills or watching scary movies right before bed.
8. Try chamomile tea or other non-caffeinated hot beverages in the evening.
9. Take a bath or shower. Light candles if taking a bath is relaxing for you.
10. Stretch or do yoga an hour before bed.
by Michael Scholtz, MA, The Biggest Loser Club fitness expert
Undereating: Why Too Few Calories Can Undermine Your Weight Loss
Undereating can deliver weight loss results, but often those results are fast and, unfortunately, sometimes only temporary. On such a diet, as long as you can stick with eating so few calories, you may see the scale move downward, sometimes rapidly. Then again, sometimes even a very low-calorie diet won't make the scale budge. Regardless, at some point, weight-loss progress (on a very low-calorie diet) fizzles out, in large part because it's typically very difficult for individuals to maintain a very low-calorie intake long-term.
Here are four additional reasons eating too few calories doesn't work:
Reason 1: Eating too few calories can cause you to lose muscle. With muscle loss there is also water loss, which makes you think you're doing great when you get on the scale. As you lose muscle, your metabolism creeps downward, making weight loss more difficult week after week.
Reason 2: Eating too few calories can sabotage your exercise program. Not getting enough fuel can make you feel more tired and less likely to exercise as much or as hard. You will be more successful by burning more calories through consistent exercise and strength training three times a week to maintain and build muscle.
Reason 3: Eating too few calories can feel like punishment and create feelings of hunger and deprivation, leading to rebound eating - overeating, that is. This is where the term "yo-yo dieting" comes from.
Reason 4: Eating too few calories can make your body slow down its metabolism by as much as 20% to prevent starvation. This is when and how your body resists weight loss. The goal is to keep your metabolism happy by eating enough - a happy metabolism is your best weight-loss friend!
- "L" Massey, RD, The Biggest Loser Club nutrition expert
Make Peace with the Scale
Some weeks the scale will show a change and others it won't. That's to be expected. So decide not to let the scale drive you crazy. Great results in your health and changing (that is, improving) body composition won't necessarily show up on the scale week to week.
It's normal (though not at all desirable for most people) for weight loss not to show up on the scale from week to week (not to mention day to day), for it to show up very slowly, and/or for it to show up occasionally as a temporary gain. None of these results, however, is necessarily a sign that you're doing something wrong. It's just the typical way weight loss transpires, mainly because weight loss isn't linear. That is to say, it doesn't happen like a math equation. Rather, it occurs over time because you consistently eat less than you burn.
"Normal" weight loss typically comes off in "spurts," like four pounds one week and then nothing the next or a slight gain. What this could mean, for example, is that one week you actually lose two pounds of excess weight, but due to your body holding onto an extra quart of water the day that you step on the scale - each 16 ounces of water = 1 pound - the scale indicates you didn't lose any weight (even though you have actually lost weight, and may likely be noticing it in a looser fit of your clothes). In this same scenario, one week later, let's say you lose two more pounds of excess weight while your body lets go of those two pounds of extra water. Consequently, the scale then indicates that you lost four pounds. See how this works? Any time you step on the scale, remind yourself that scales don't necessarily reflect what's actually going on.
- "L" Massey, RD, Biggest Loser Club Nutrition Expert
There are many Biggest Loser Club members who struggle with urges and cravings for food outside their Biggest Loser eating plan. The first step, from a physical perspective, is to make sure you are eating enough calories and the right types of food. If you aren't, then you're experiencing physical cravings.
The next step is to determine if your cravings are emotional in nature, and if so, what can be done about them. There are strategies you can use to help reduce the incidence and severity of emotional eating. If these strategies aren't enough to help you reach your goals consistently, then it's a good idea to meet with a therapist experienced in emotional eating so that you can explore the underlying feelings that trigger the urges you're feeling.
For starters, these five steps will help you stay on track:
1. Getting enough sleep
2. Engaging in regular exercise
3. Having healthy food at your fingertips
4. Keeping the tempting junk out of your sight as much as possible
5. Establishing a consistent eating structure
Then, develop strategies to help you make it through the challenging times:
If you have the desire to eat after dinner (or when you know you're not physically hungry), agree to delay eating for 10 minutes. This may be difficult to start with, but if you can drive a wedge in between your emotional feeling and automatic eating, you'll increase your chances of making healthier choices. Drink a glass of water. You can distract yourself during this time (listen to music, read a book, take a shower, check your email). If after 10 minutes, you still really want something, then start with a healthy snack. If you STILL want that certain something, then go ahead and have it.
When you feel the desire to eat for emotional reasons in the evening and you have time, turn off the TV and get busy doing something you enjoy doing. Choose an activity that brings you real pleasure. Hobbies are particularly nurturing to the emotional self, so think about resuming a hobby that you used to enjoy, like playing an instrument, painting, drawing or quilting. Or do something easier like crawl in bed with a good book, pull out a favorite movie or start writing a letter to a good friend.
Understand the Emotion
Consider that your driving force is the voice of an irrational child who's upset, resentful, scared or whatever. You may need help from a therapist to unlock these suppressed emotions.
If you feel numb and want to escape reality with food, get your journal and go sit in a comfortable spot and write about what you're feeling. Invite your troubled self to freely express what's going on inside. I'm not saying this is easy, but it will start you down the path of greater awareness. If you can create a safe space to express (without judging yourself), you'll begin to notice that you'll feel better and begin to see things clearer by writing about your emotions. Ultimately, journaling is a great tool for making peace with your emotions.
By Greg Hottinger, RD, The Biggest Loser Club nutrition expert
Weight Loss Simplified
How Does My Body Burn Calories?
Your body burns calories three ways, say The Biggest Loser Club experts Greg Hottinger and Michael Scholtz.
1. Resting metabolism (RMR)
Your body burns calories just to stay alive and run all of your vital organs. These are the majority of the calories you'll burn. For most people this is 1200 to 2000 calories per day.
2. Daily activity
Your body burns calories when you get out of bed and go about your day. For instance, when you walk to and from places during the day, or when you do basic housework and other life things. Most people burn 300-600 calories per day, but this amount can be much higher for those who do physical work all day.
Your body burns calories when walking, swimming, biking, weight training, doing yoga, etc. For most people, this is 200 to 600 per exercise bout.
It's important to eat the number of calories at or near the RMR calorie level. Going lower can slow down your metabolism and make weight loss painfully slow. If you're exercising a lot, you'll need to bump up your calories; otherwise you'll feel hungry or unusually tired, and your weight loss will slow down.
Here's an example for a typical BLC member:
1. RMR: 1300 calories burned
2. Daily Activity: 300-600 calories burned
3. Exercise: 200-400 calories burned
Total calories burned in a day: 1800 to 2300 calories
So on light days, she burns 1800 calories and consumes 1300 - this is a 500-calorie deficit - which would lead to a pound per week weight loss if she did this every day. (NOTE: One pound = 3,500 calories, so a deficit of 500 calories per day x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
On the heavier days, she's burning 2,300 calories and has a 1000-calorie deficit, which would lead to a two-pound per week weight loss.
Pedometers can be a really good addition to your exercise routine. Here are some facts and guidelines:
Most sedentary people take only 2000-3000 steps per day.
Increasing steps by 5000-7000 per day can lead to significant improvements in health.
The gold standard for an "active" lifestyle is 10,000 steps per day.
Estimates for the level best associated with weight loss are as high as 15,000-18,000 per day.
My recommendation is that you wear a pedometer both during your everyday activities as well as during exercise.
Don't count on the pedometer to measure distance unless you're using it for straight ahead, evenly paced walking, and you can calibrate your model for stride length. A rough estimate is that 2,000 steps equals about one mile. It's most useful for counting "movement," including exercise, chores, walking around the office, etc. Most people find that wearing a pedometer inspires them to be more active than they would otherwise be.
Perhaps, for example, you can increase your overall activity by including a five-minute walking break several times during your workday. Increase from your baseline measurement in small increments of approximately 10% per week.
- Maria Patella, MA, The Biggest Loser Club fitness expert
After 10 weeks on The Biggest Loser ranch, Season 13 contestants are challenged to move out of their comfort zones on several fronts, including having to switch trainers. Ah, comfort zones are cushy places. But it's where we often find ourselves when our weight-loss efforts stall, and sometimes the scale can hit a plateau.
Trainer Bob Harper offers this workout tip to push yourself through a plateau:
If you aren't moving forward in your workout, try it in reverse. Reverse the order of movements of each exercise. For example, instead of starting your workouts with cardio, try ending them with cardio.
Instead of walking forward on the treadmill, walk backwards. Instead of pull-ups, try lat pull-downs. Reversing your workouts shocks your body, so you can shed more calories and break free from that plateau.
And here are six more tips for plateau busting from The Biggest Loser Club's expert Greg Hottinger:
When I hear stories from those who are working hard, not eating much and still struggling to lose weight, I feel badly and wish I could wave a magic wand to make it easier. Let's focus on what you can do to get results.
Here are my best suggestions:
1) Improve the quality of your sleep.
New research shows that those getting seven to nine hours of sleep are less likely to be overweight. Sleep improves blood sugar regulation, reduces stress hormones and balances out hunger/fullness hormones (leptin, ghrelin). Are you getting good sleep? If not, is there anything you can change that would help?
2) Increase and/or preserve muscle mass.
The only way to push your metabolism back up is to gain muscle mass. The only way to gain muscle (or improve your ratio of fat to lean muscle) is to engage in strength training (a goal of two times per week isn't enough because often, you'll only get one of those in).
3) Be very selective with type of carbs.
Choose lean protein, lots of veggies (cooked and salads) and stick with higher fiber carbs (brown rice, high-fiber cereal, high-fiber bread, beans and fruits). You could experiment with replacing one to two of your carb servings each day with veggies and protein.
4) Practice stress reduction.
There is evidence that lower stress levels are associated with lower body weight. Regular exercise, hobbies, yoga, meditation, breaks at work, getting sunshine, etc. all help you lower stress levels, balance hormones, sleep better and be better able to make healthier choices.
5) Revisit your eating.
Are you writing things down or are you guesstimating? In fact, you may not be eating enough! Under-eating can actually undermine weight loss as your body goes into starvation mode.
6) Revisit your exercise program.
Your body adapts to your exercise program - which means you burn fewer calories doing the same thing. You may need to increase intensity or duration.
- from The Biggest Loser Club
13 Keys to Weight-Loss Success
6 Exercise Keys to Success
- Do 200-300 minutes of cardio per week (or build up to it).
- Make sure your cardio exercise is challenging. Beginners do a steady, challenging pace. Experienced exercisers alternate a hard day with an easier day to help recover from hard efforts.
- Make steady and measurable improvements in your cardio fitness.
- Do strength training for each major body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, core) two to three days per week.
- Make sure the resistance you use for your strength exercises is very challenging.
- Make steady and measurable improvements in your strength.
7 Nutrition Keys to Success
- Eat every three to four of your waking hours (which will give you five to six small meals/snacks per day).
- Eat protein and/or fat with carbs.
- Choose high-fiber carbs and not white-flour carbs.
- Make sure you have a good source of protein at lunch and dinner.
- Choose healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, fish, avocado and olive oil, and eat a couple of servings daily. Don't cut your fat intake too low.
- Make sure you're eating two to three servings of fruit each day.
- Make sure you're eating at least three servings of vegetables each day.
- from The Biggest Loser Club experts
Rewrite Your Script
How would you like the rest of your life to look? This is an exercise that The Biggest Loser Club expert Greg Hottinger posts in his message board forums, and it's a good way to get out of a negative thinking rut or to inject some excitement. If you're concerned that your life will be somewhat boring and rather depressing, then this homework exercise is to consider writing a new script for yourself.
How your life will look is up to you. How would a more exciting and more empowered life for you look different? What is something that you'd love to do?
Notice all of the thoughts that come up during this exercise and write them down. Don't judge them - just be truthful with the thoughts that are there.
Get Your Family on Board
So you're trying to eat healthy and exercise, but your family isn't quite on board. External support is really what makes all the difference in weight loss. If you lived in a community of healthy, like-minded folks for a year, you would find it EASY to eat healthy and stay active because that's what everyone is doing. Unfortunately, our culture today is the opposite.
I encourage you to keep leading by your actions and modeling good choices. The changes can take time, but by slightly improving the quality of snacks and meals, you will be shifting your family's eating habits. Ultimately, they will choose what works for them, but if you're healthy and full of energy, it's quite attractive.
Greg Hottinger, RD, The Biggest Loser Club nutrition expert