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OF THE MEDICAL REPORT
Tom Rifai, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
Internist and Physician Nutrition Specialist
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THE FACTS ABOUT Reducing Diabetes Risk and Weight Management

Background

There is no reason to live with a diet mentality—one that stresses using "will power and a no-pain, no-gain" mantra.Instead, there are small changes that you can make in order to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Podcast Posted: 03/15/2010
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There is no reason to live with a diet mentality—one that stresses using “will power and a no-pain, no-gain” mantra. Instead, there are small changes that you can make in order to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

“Eating small, frequent meals and understanding the principles of calorie and protein density are two little, but impactful, steps that you can take to lead a lifestyle that promotes weight management and wellness,” says Tom Rifai, MD, Medical Director of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland’s Metabolic Nutrition and Weight Management Program.

Cautions
Skipping breakfast can slow metabolism and lead to overcompensating by eating one or two high calorie, larger, later day meals. This may result in muscle loss and fat gain over time—both of which are risk factors for heart disease and cancer. While there are people who are exceptions, generally speaking, by eating a lean breakfast and then smaller amounts of lean, healthy foods every two to four hours, resulting in two to three smaller meals and two to three small snacks, you will follow a lifestyle pattern known to be more consistent with a healthy weight.

Notably, people tend to skip breakfast because they feel they do not have time or can get away with it. However, based on medical evidence linking breakfast eating to lower diabetes risk and leaner bodies, even if you do not feel hungry, it is important “to break the fast” with some quality protein and a low calorie density carbohydrate. If you’re in a rush, a low calorie, quality protein “meal replacement” shake and a piece of whole fruit can do just fine.

Make Good Food Choices
In addition to smaller, more regularly scheduled meals and healthy snacks, the role of understanding calorie density and protein is critical to achieve satiety, or feeling full, on the lowest amount of calories as part of a healthy lifestyle change. Low calorie density foods, such as whole fruits and vegetables, are those that have fewer calories per bite and can help fill you up on less calories in general, particularly if eaten early on in the meal. In addition to low-calorie density “filler foods,” making sure that the meal or snack also has a quality source of protein, whether meal replacement-based, or lean foods like fish, egg whites and breast of poultry or fat-free Greek yogurt, is also important to sustain fullness longer and maintain muscle mass during fat loss.

As calorie density is the utmost principle to learn in losing weight without hunger (in addition to breakfast and the protein issues noted), try this tip: make sure that the majority of the low protein foods you choose have FEWER calories per serving than grams of food per serving. The gram weight of the serving is found at the serving size area of a nutrition facts label. Research has shown that calorie density is the most reliable indicator of how to feel full on fewer calories after eating a particular food or meal.

Therefore, you want foods that will give you a generous portion for as few calories as possible. That is why whole fruit is much healthier in terms of weight loss than dried fruit. It takes two and a half cups of grapes, for instance, to make a quarter cup of raisins. Also avoid or limit liquid calories like sugared pop, fruit juices, sports drinks and alcohol, as they are stealthy forms of calories that do not reduce the amount of food you’ll eat andhence are typically called “empty calories.”

Referral
As a metabolic/nutrition specialist, Dr. Rifai partners with each patient’s primary care physician to address weight management and wellness. To learn more about St. Joseph Mercy Oakland’s Metabolic Nutrition and Weight Management program, please call (248) 858-2475.

 

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