4 Nutrition Tips to Maintain a Healthy and Active Life

Weight Management: How Much Exercise is Enough?

If you want to lose weight temporarily, you don't have to exercise; you "simply" need to create an energy deficit by eating less food. (Think about people in the hospital who lose weight without exercise.) But if you have already lost a lot of weight and want to maintain that fat-loss (and help minimize fat-regain), you need to be active for about one hour a day.

According to obesity researcher Dr. Jim Hill, "Unfortunately, that's the price a person who has lost 70 pounds needs to pay for having been obese."  

Dr. Hill suggests there is a yet undefined "sweet spot" where just the right amount of exercise—not too much, not too little—enhances fat loss.

More: Eat to Build Lean Muscles

As many frustrated dieters have learned, too much exercise forces the body into starvation mode and then the traditional weight loss rule—to knock off 500 calories per day to lose one pound of fat per week—becomes a myth. The less you eat, or the more you exercise, the more your body down-regulates to conserve energy and your metabolic system adapts. The body has a very complex system that makes weight reduction difficult.

While any type of exercise is good for weight management, lifting weights and doing other forms of strength training help maintain muscle mass.

Dr. Brendon Gurd of Ontario suggests high intensity interval training can contribute to fat loss, particularly abdominal fat. Plus, you'll effectively improve your fitness in less time.

More: Weight-Lifting Tips for Newbies

Weight and Taste Buds 

Weight gain is related to not only under-exercising, but also to over-eating.

Why do some people routinely overeat? According to Dr. Beverly Tepper of Rutgers University, the answer might be related to their taste buds.

About 30 percent of the population has a genetic variation in bitter taste that results in a preference for the taste and texture of high fat foods, such as creamy salad dressings, cheese and ice cream—as well as spicy hot foods. Combine this with our enticing food environment—voila, overeating.

When compared by body mass index—BMI, a ratio of weight and height—fat-preferring women have a higher BMI—30 vs. 24; obese vs. average physique—as compared to women with a different version of this gene.

More: What is BMI and How to Calculate It

When presented with a buffet lunch—that encourages overeating—genetic "fat lovers" need to muster more dietary restraint to consciously choose foods that are lower in fat. Otherwise, they may eat 88 percent more calories than usual, while those without the gene will consume only about 38 percent more calories. Buffets can be dangerous.

In a three-day food experiment during which women ate a standard breakfast—OJ, yogurt, toast—and then selected their lunch and dinner, the genetically predisposed "fat lovers" chose more added fats—butter, salad dressing, cakes and pies—while the others preferred more fruits and vegetables. Perhaps obesity prevention programs could include genetic screening so these people can be taught to better manage our food environment?

More: 6 Ideas to Overcome Obesity

Cooking Tip

Mushrooms have an umami—meaty, savory—flavor that allow them to easily substitute for meat. Taste-testers equally enjoyed tacos made with 100 percent beef, 50 percent beef with 50 percent mushrooms or 20 percent beef with 80 percent mushrooms. How about adding more mushrooms to your next beef stew, spaghetti sauce or meatballs to save calories and saturated fat—as well as helping save the environment?

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, for every two pounds (1 kg) less beef we eat, we spare the environment about 60 pounds (27 kg) of greenhouse gasses.

More: 9 Bargains for the Health-Conscious Foodie

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