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It’s March so those New Year’s Resolutions to eat healthy and get to the gym are potentially slipping. With the abundance of information out there on what to eat, when and how, you might find ourself overwhelmed and frustrated. We spoke with Registered Dietician, Elizabeth DeRobertis, from Scarsdale Medical Group to get our facts straight and it might help you get back on track with your nutrition goals.
Can you clear up the myth that eating late (say past 7pm) can lead to weight gain?
There is no magical cut off time for eating, when it comes to weight loss. People should not eat late at night and then lay down shortly after if they have reflux/GERD. Often when people set a cut-off time for eating, it works as more of a behavior modification strategy. If they say that they will not eat after 8pm, and that helps them to eliminate the calories that they once took in by snacking in the evening, certainly this will help them to lose weight. But they will lose weight because they are now reducing the calorie intake, not because the food was consumed earlier in the day.
Does eating breakfast really jump start your metabolism in the morning?
I do believe eating breakfast puts someone on the right track for the day. Often people will say that if do not eat breakfast, they won’t be hungry until lunchtime. And that they find if they do eat breakfast, they may feel hungry for a mid-morning snack. However, when people do not eat breakfast, they feel hungrier later in the day, as though their body is looking to make up for the calories it was missing earlier in the day. In fact, I often see that people who skip breakfast end up eating too much after dinner. The best way to start the day is with a high-protein breakfast, and this should put you on track to have a successful day of healthy eating.
Are there certain foods that are known to rev up your metabolism and/or burn fat and calories?
There are foods that are thought to increase metabolism, and even foods that people say take more calories to process than the food itself even has. However, the true impact of any of these on actual weight and calorie burning is minimal. I think that the most important thing for metabolism is to eat the right amount of calories, spaced out strategically during the day so that we do not go too long without eating. We should be getting our calories primarily from lean protein and vegetables and foods that are a “good deal” in terms of calories, meaning that they follow the Volumetrics theory of bigger portion sizes for less calories. This will help us to feel satisfied with less calories during the day, and combined with exercise, this is truly the only way to efficiently burn fat and calories and increase metabolism.
Are there certain foods that should not be combined for nutritive or digestive purposes? I once read that fruit should be consumed alone.
There has been talk about this for years, with not much scientific support, other than the impact that some of the carbohydrates may have on blood sugar for people who have diabetes. For general weight loss, there are no food combining rules that need to be abided by. If anything, when people think they need to combine foods, they often actually end up increasing their calorie intake. For example, if someone thinks they should not eat a piece of fruit alone, they may add a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter to it, and now they have doubled the calories of that snack. If someone has diabetes, they should not eat too many carbohydrates in one sitting. So for the purpose of reducing blood sugar, I would say not to have multiple sources of carbs in the same meal. For digestion, there are guidelines to follow if someone is having GI distress, such as to limit spicy and citrus foods among others. But for weight loss and optimal nutrient absorption, this is not necessary.
Elizabeth DeRobertis, MS, RD, CDN, CDE is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Elizabeth has been providing nutritional counseling for over 20 years, and has helped thousands of people to lose weight and keep it off. Elizabeth started The Nutrition Center at Scarsdale Medical Group about 9 years ago, and has helped her clients to lose from 10 – 150+ pounds, and dramatically improve the quality of their lives, through the variety of programs that she has created.
The provision of high-quality, personalized health care to Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley region has been the mission of Scarsdale Medical Group since 1957. Their working philosophy of compassion, confidence, and commitment has enabled them to become known and respected by patients and peers throughout the tri-state area.