Ask the Dietitian -
Ask the Dietitian

1. Can I lose weight eating anything I want?
Yes and No. Weight maintenance is primarily about calorie balance; however, some researchers would argue that all calories are not created the same. There are some foods and food habits that promote weight gain. For example, high glycemic (high sugar content/low fibrous) foods and foods with a lot of trans- and/or saturated fatty acids are stored more efficiently as fat. Also, metabolisms can be sabotaged by eating only one meal a day or by eating too much at one time.

2. Does eating after 8pm cause me to gain weight?
Yes and No. Your body needs a certain amount of calories a day to function no matter what. Whether you eat them in the morning or at night, it doesn’t matter. Eating a small snack at night will not cause you to gain weight. However, studies show that people who eat most of their calories later in the day tend to eat more total calories, therefore, leading to weight gain. It is better to spread your calories throughout the day.

3. Should I be taking a multi-vitamin/mineral?
Yes and No. The main reason someone would need to take a multi-vitamin/mineral is because there is a possibility of some nutrient lacking in their diet. It is better to get vitamins and minerals from natural food sources by trying to maintain a balanced diet. Multi-vitamins should be taken with caution and with approval from your physician. Developing toxicities are a risk while taking them. Supplements are concentrated substances and should be treated just like medicine. They are not inspected by the FDA. Taking a multi-vitamin, occasionally, should not be a problem for most healthy individuals. There are stages of life when taking a multi is appropriate and encouraged, like during pregnancy.

4. Do I need a lot of protein to gain more muscle?
Yes and No. To gain extra muscle, more protein is needed to build and repair the muscle, but not too much. Many bodybuilders believe that they can eat all the protein they want and their bodies will excrete what is unused. That is far from true. Our bodies will only utilize so much protein and the rest is turned to fat. Bodybuilders generally will need around 1.4-1.7 g/kg of body weight to gain muscle mass sufficiently.

5. Are nuts fattening? And Should I avoid them?
Yes and No. Nuts are primarily composed of fat but, the type of fat in nuts is good for you. They contain primarily mono- and polyunsaturated fats and have been linked to improving health in many areas. On the other hand, nuts are high in calories. Eating a ton of nuts can result in adding extra pounds. Eating one ounce a day is sufficient for getting the health benefit of nuts.

6. Should I avoid fast food altogether?
Yes and No. The problem with eating at restaurants is that you never really know what all is going into your food. That is one reason why it is better to cook and prepare food for yourself, especially, if you want to lose weight and cut fat out of your diet. However, these days, fast foods and restaurants are offering more healthy alternatives to their menus. This makes it easier to eat healthier while we are living such a “fast-paced” lifestyle.

7. Should I be following a low carbohydrate diet?
No. Our bodies need carbohydrates to function. Carbohydrates are what our bodies use to fuel our muscles and brain and to give us energy. Without sufficient carbohydrate, our bodies go into ketosis and/or an acidic state. A diet comprised only of protein can be harmful to your kidneys and other organs/systems. These conditions sound bad because they are bad. People on low carbohydrate diets are usually losing weight because they have cut calories along with the carbohydrates, leading them to weight loss.

8. What foods should I eat everyday?
The American Dietetic Association recommends that we all need 5-7 fruits or vegetables a day. Getting fruits and vegetables daily in your diet is so important. The benefits are countless. I recommend researching, “on-line”, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables or just talk to your local dietitian.

9. Do I have to exercise to lose weight?
All you need to do to lose weight is to have a calorie deficit. You can eat less or burn more energy. Those are the only two ways to do it. You don’t have to exercise but, you should. The health benefits of exercise are too numerous to count. Exercise has been linked to disease prevention/cures and will help you lose weight. I recommend doing both… exercising a little more and eating a little less.

10. Why don’t I lose weight when I am only eating 1,000 calories a day?
I don’t know how many times I have seen an obese woman come to me and say “I am only eating 1,000 calories a day. Why am I not losing any weight?”. They regularly show me their very detailed food journal with each calorie accounted for. Sometimes, metabolisms are slowed due to not getting enough calories. Usually, these clients are too restrictive and are not eating enough calories to maintain their basal metabolic rate (rate at which calories are burned at rest). We need a certain amount of calories a day, even to lose weight.

11. Why am I so tired every afternoon?
I have discovered that many people suffer with low energy levels in the afternoon because something is wrong with their diet. To help maintain energy throughout the day, it is important to eat small meals every 2-3 hours, eliminate caffeine, and drink plenty of water. Meals should be balanced with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and good fats. Energy levels are improved by maintaining good blood glucose levels throughout the day.

12. How can I get my family member to be healthier?
The best way to help someone be healthy is to be healthy yourself. Be an example for all people, not only those you live with. Someone is always watching your habits. I recommend to families to make health a positive thing in the home and not negative or “weight-focused”. Contact your local dietitian for more help and tips.

13. How can I lose weight the fastest?
If you want to lose more than 1-2 lbs. per week then, you do probably not want to lose fat. It is recommended to not lose more than one-two lbs. per week. If weight loss is occurring more rapid than this, then water and muscle are being lost and burned, not fat. When this happens, weight loss is not permanent and more weight will be gained than before. Weight loss is a very delicate process. To do it right, you need to know how many calories you need to eat for a 1-2 pound per week weight loss. It takes a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound of fat. The best way to lose it for good is to lose it slowly.

14. Why are these last 5 lbs. so hard to lose?
At this frustrating point, you are usually in a routine and those last 5 pounds won’t come off. I find it most common that this is the time when your body needs a change. Your body has become efficient at whatever routine and diet you are following. It is probably the right time to surprise your body again with a change in workout or diet.
On the other hand, there is a concept called “set point theory”. This theory suggests that our bodies are happiest at a certain weight. If you are in your healthy body range and trying to dip below your ideal body weight by trying to lose 5 “vanity” pounds, then you are fighting an uphill battle. If you dip below this weight, your life will be miserable and you will be hungry all the time. More than likely, your body will fight you “tooth and nail” to get back to where it wants to be, at its healthy/ideal body weight.

15. What impacts my metabolism?
Several factors impact our metabolism. Unfortunately, only a few of them we can change. They are: body size, gender, age, diet, activity, climate, genetic factors, hormonal state, psychological state, drugs, and disease.