*Written by Dylan R. Smerillo, Dietetic Intern and Nutrition Professional* Introduction I am a recently married, recently graduated 22-year-old, and although I don’t know much, what I do know for sure is that I have a lot ahead of me. With secondary education out of the way it's time to start thinking big picture, such as career (not job) searching. Building credit and saving money to buy a home one day, trading in the old beater for a more efficient and reliable vehicle, having a more consistent routine, and prioritizing free time for my wife and I and the activities that need to be done around the home. That’s a pretty good start, but surprisingly enough there is something not in that list that close friends and family mention constantly.... that’s right, I'm talking about babies. Not one! Not two! These people want lots of em, without very much concern for how many I want. Don’t get me wrong, this is something that excites me, and having children in the near or distant future is absolutely a part of my wife and I’s “plan”. But when does this “plan” start? When do we start to prepare financially, physically, and most importantly, nutritionally to have a child and start a family? I realized as a nutrition professional and dietetic intern that an answer to this question would be helpful to all couples and partners wanting to have a healthy and happy infant. Because it seems so obvious to eat and live healthy while you are pregnant, but completely flies over people's heads that being healthy while trying to get pregnant is just as important if not more important. Nutrient intake during preconception and conception can significantly alter the health of the infant and the mother throughout the pregnancy and does not take drastic changes to drastically improve the likelihood of having a healthy baby. The Ingredients It seems obvious that the ingredients that make a baby should be of good quality in themselves if we want a healthy baby, however this is often overlooked. The health and quantity of our reproductive gametes (sperm and ova) have a significant effect on the health of the zygote, embryo, fetus, and eventually the growth and development of the infant. We will talk about how to improve the health and fertility of both the male, and female reproductive cells, starting with... sperm! Healthy Sperm Having healthy sperm or ova is not an overnight change. Your reproductive cells go through cycles of life and death just like us and take time to mature and grow and respond to their environment as gene expression follows. Sperm specifically goes though about a 74-day cycle, where about after 74 days the sperm dies and is reabsorbed by the body if it is not expelled. Therefore only a few days or weeks of an adjusted diet and routine is not sufficient to alter the overall fertility and health of your sperm. Weeks and months of consistent intake of a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and staying hydrated is necessary to increase fertility. Antioxidants and phytonutrients from a variety of fruits and vegetables neutralize the free radicals flowing in our body, preventing them from damaging our reproductive cells and causing oxidation. Lean protein intake along with a resistance training regimen is also essential for increasing fertility in men, because of the increased testosterone production associated with exercise and muscle growth. Whole grains are imperative for providing an ample energy source and a high fiber content. Cardiovascular health is important to manage during preconception, and a high fiber diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Supplementation may also be necessary while adjusting your diet. It can be hard to obtain the recommended intake of specific vitamins and minerals through diet alone, so a multivitamin may be necessary to incorporate. One mineral in particular, is mentioned a lot in studies about preconception nutrition, and that mineral is zinc. Although zinc is not very hard to come by as it is in most animal meats in high quantities, it is still a very important mineral for men to consider while preparing to get their wives pregnant. According to the American Pregnancy Association, they recommend a daily intake of 15 mg of zinc for men to regulate fertility health due to zincs association with sperm and testosterone production. There are a lot of other factors of course when it comes to increasing fertility, besides just changing your diet. Getting the correct amount of sleep and recovery, exercising consistently, staying hydrated, and avoiding trans/saturated fats, pollutants, and toxins as much as possible. But for women, one factor in particular can have a big effect on their fertility, and that is weight. Healthy Ova To be perfectly clear, being “skinny” is not the expectation of achieving a healthy weight that prepares the body for caring a growing fetus for 9 months. A “healthy” weight is what is important and is different for every woman. Achieving a healthy weight during preconception is imperative because it will increase the mother's fertility when she is ready for conception and prepare her for a long pregnancy ahead. And just like with increasing the fertility and motility of sperm in men, increasing fertility in women takes a lot of time and consistency. There are two major reasons why achieving a healthy weight as a mother is imperative during preconception. First off, obesity and being overweight are associated with irregular menstrual cycles, and problems with ovarian hormone production. This makes it difficult to become pregnant, because using the routine timing of your menstrual cycle will allow you to time conception with ovulation. When you ovulate is when you are most fertile and hitting this window can make getting pregnant a lot easier. However, if this window is irregular and inconsistent, then it is hard to find the best time to conceive, decreasing the chances of becoming pregnant during the first few attempts. The second reason why a healthy weight is so important is because of the risk associated with gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes and pregnant women who are obese or overweight. Because the growing fetus is attached to the mother's blood stream, via the placenta, any chronic conditions the mother has will affect the fetus. This includes fluctuation in blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. Women who become pregnant while they are obese or overweight risk developing these gestational diseases if they don’t make immediate changes to their diet and lifestyle. The risk and danger of developing these diseases is far more severe for the growing fetus than it is for the mother. There could be a list of developmental issues, and early on the pregnancy these diseases could even be the cause of a miscarriage. Ok so we have been spending a lot of time talking about weight, and how achieving a healthy weight is important for fertility during preconception and for the health of the growing fetus during pregnancy. But of course, there is a lot more to increasing fertility than just that. Just like we discussed with men, a balanced diet (including folate of course), having an exercise routine, staying hydrated, getting sleep, and avoiding environmental toxins are all necessary as well to improve fertility in women. You may use a lot of these already to achieve a healthy weight but continuing with healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle is necessary throughout preconception, conception, pregnancy, and breast feeding. Conclusion As you can see, living a healthy lifestyle, consuming a healthy diet, staying hydrated, getting the correct amount of sleep and recovery, exercising frequently, and managing stress and environmental toxins is the recipe for improving fertility during preconception. For men an exercise routine involving resistance training and a focus on muscle growth and increased natural testosterone production should be the focus alongside these healthy habits. And if you are a woman, achieving a healthy weight prior to conception and pregnancy will significantly improve your fertility, and the health of yourself and the growing fetus during pregnancy. Whether you are a man or women developing these healthy habits, along with monitoring chronic conditions and usual body weight can significantly improve fertility and overall health. Preparing you for conception, a long pregnancy, and a healthy infant.
Registered Dietitians are individuals who are scientific experts in the areas of food and nutrition. Their title, "registered dietitian", is a protected entity governed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration and individual state legislation.
Registered Dietitians often have the credentials, "RD" after their name which signify their job profession and education; however, some Registered Dietitians may instead use, "RDN", meaning "Registered Dietitian Nutritionist". Both titles/credentials are interchangeable for usage.
According to Minnesota Statute 148.621 Subd. 7., " 'Dietitian' means an individual who engages in dietetics or nutrition practice and uses the title Dietitian".
Minnesota Statute 148.621 Subd. 9 states, " 'dietetics or nutrition practice' means the integration and application of scientific principles of food, nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, food management, and behavioral and social sciences to achieve and maintain human health through the provision of nutrition care services".
Minnesota Statute 3250.0010 also states Registered Dietitians who actively practice Medical Nutrition Therapy must be licensed in the state of Minnesota to practice (see below for more information about Medical Nutrition Therapy).
The training and education to become a Registered Dietitian could equally be as demanding and difficult as a registered nurse.
To become a Registered Dietitian, one must...
Complete an undergraduate (baccalaureate) or graduate degree in food and nutrition, dietetics, or related field that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Requirements are changing on January 1st, 2024 to require individuals to hold master's level degrees at minimum to become a Registered Dietitian.
Examples of classes include Medical Nutrition Therapy, Biochemistry, Human Physiology, Human Metabolism, Lifecycle Nutrition, Food Policy, Pharmacology, and Food Science.
Complete a 1,200 hour post-education residency rotating through each of the following areas...
The main skillset of Registered Dietitians is to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Medical Nutrition Therapy is the "nutritional diagnostic, therapy, and counseling services for the purpose of disease management which are furnished by a registered dietitian". Medical Nutrition Therapy is a specific application of the Nutrition Care Process in clinical settings that is focused on the management of diseases. Medical Nutrition Therapy involves in-depth individualized nutrition assessment and a duration and frequency of care using the Nutrition Care Process to manage disease.
Little do people know, but the way you eat or how you alter your metabolism may have harmful effects on any medication regimens you are on; this is why there is a need for a Registered Dietitian to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Registered Dietitians are the only food and nutrition professionals, who are also considered medical providers, that can legally deliver Medical Nutrition Therapy; thus many Registered Dietitians work in the clinical stetting like hospitals or clinics. They may get to wear scrubs or a lab coat! Of course, many Registered Dietitians can be found elsewhere such as at a retail setting like Mackenthun's Fine Foods, health departments, operating food service operations, food companies like Dairy Queen, and more!
In the clinical setting, a Registered Dietitian could perform any of the following duties including...
Write a prescription for nutrition support (tube feeding or IV therapy) to meet the needs of a patient in the intensive care unit who is unable to eat due to intubation.
Round with the nurse case manager and develop interventions to improve the status of a complicated, diabetic wound.
Adjust the dosing of phosphorous binder medications of the kidney failure patient to improve blood phosphorous values to reduce the risk for osteoporosis (weakening of bones).
Investigate potential drug interactions that may cause a person to gain a significant amount of weight who does not want to gain weight; discuss medication changes with their primary care doctor.
Work with the speech-language pathologist to implement altered food textures for a patient who cannot swallow safely and is at risk for aspiration pneumonia.
Coordinate safe eating interventions with the occupational therapist to prevent weight loss or severe burns from spilling coffee at the meal table.
In the foodservice management setting, a Registered Dietitian could perform any of the following duties including...
Develop allergen-friendly kitchens and menus for a college campus.
Research, test, implement, and evaluate a recipe for quality control.
Train foodservice staff and other members on food safety to reduce foodborne illness risk.
Review menus for childcare programs for reimbursement and compliance with the Child Adult Care Food Program (CAFCP).
Manage department personnel and the financial operations of the foodservice department.
Work with the speech-language pathologist to have altered textured foods available in accordance to menu regulations for healthcare.
Order adaptive equipment such as 2-handled cups with lids and divided plates to help the occupational therapist improve the food consumption of a patient with mobility difficulties.
In the foodservice management setting, a Registered Dietitian could perform any of the following duties including...
Plan, develop, implement, and evaluate community cooking classes.
Increase and improve food access to underserved communities.
Participate in school health programs in educating children on nutrition for growth and development.
Work with farmer's markets to have a nutrition program voucher to improve food access and nutritional well-being to low-income shoppers.
Research and analyze statistical data of the state or nation's food consumption for disease risk.
Act as a spokesperson for an organization to debunk nutrition claims and provide factual education.
Provide nutrition counseling and education to NCAA Division 1 athletes.
Deliver a cooking segment on television news and explain the science of the impacts of carbon on the size of baked goods.
What is a Nutritionist
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All Registered Dietitians are "Nutritionists" but not all nutritionists are not "Registered Dietitians".
Nutritionists can also be experts in food and nutrition; however, "nutritionist" is not a regulated title in much of the country compared to the Registered Dietitian title. Some states do have specific legislation of who can call themselves a nutritionist.
According to Minnesota Statute 148.621 Subd. 8, " 'Nutritionist' means an individual who engages in dietetics or nutrition practice and uses the title nutritionist".
Minnesota Statute 3250.0020 reports nutritionists who wants to practice nutrition with the title "nutritionist" must hold state licensure.
Each state may or may not have specific licensure or practice guidelines; however, in the state of Minnesota, persons with the title "nutritionist" must have completed and hold the following...
A doctorate degree in food and nutrition or related field
Complete a 900-hour supervised internship under a Registered Dietitian or a "Certified Nutrition Specialist", or "Clinical Nutrition Specialist"
Be registered as a "Clinical Nutrition Specialist" through the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.
Apply for licensure in the state of Minnesota as a "Licensed Nutritionist" to practice nutrition.
Complete 45 continuing education credits per every three year cycle to keep the "Licensed Nutritionist" title; in addition to, any continuing education credits needed for the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.
Note, depending on state legislation, individuals who call themselves "Nutritionists" may not be required to do continuing education credits. The purpose of continuing education credits is to continually do research and education on topics of interests to continue providing scientific-based education and interventions to clients that are up-to-date.
Education Requirements for Nutritionists
Many Nutritionists may have gone to school for a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degrees in food and nutrition, or a related field. As stated before, Each state may or may not have specific licensure or practice guidelines for a Nutritionist with the exception of Minnesota requiring a doctorate degree and registration with the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.
Some Nutritionists do not have special training or a scientific educational foundation at all. Some perhaps will receive training from the organization they work for. If you do a quick Google search for "Certificates in Nutrition", you will find many programs offering training and education in nutrition in as little as two weeks. These trainings may not include Human Physiology, Biochemistry, or Pharmacology.
Many Nutritionists are social media influencers and self-proclaimed experts which can do more harm than good to the public in regards to knowing how to decipher what is scientific, evidenced-based information. A common source of information they may provide, not all, are personal anecdotes to justify success and "research" of the nutrition plans they provide. Nutritionists also tend to do more meal / menu planning and utilize interventions such as counting macros, calorie tracking, or specifying a specific diet or lifestyle that may not coincide with your patterns and interests. Nutritionists can work anywhere; however, most clinical settings like the hospital or clinic will not hire a nutritionist, even if they are a Certified Nutrition Specialist or Clinical Nutrition Specialist due to the different trainings and education they receive from Registered Dietitians.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for nutrition advice on how to improve your overall wellbeing while being cognizant of your medical needs like medications, lab work, and disease conditions; then Registered Dietitians are the way to go.
If you are look for nutrition advice on how to improve your overall wellbeing from a general perspective without regard to other factors like your medical history; then a Nutritionist may be for you.
As always, use discretion and do research on your provider, whether that is on a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist.
*written by Cat Daoheuang, Normandale Community College Diet Tech Student
Ice cream is one of the most popular treats for the summertime. With so many different flavors and varieties, it is hard to choose a favorite. Soft serve is a popular example of ice cream that has a nice, creamy texture, but how exactly is it made? This popular dessert is often seen as unhealthy. Surprisingly however, there are some health benefits of ice cream. If ice cream is not in your alley, there are healthy alternatives to regular ice cream that you could try.
What is Overrun?
Overrun is the percentage of ice cream that is air incorporated in the product during the freezing process to expand and make more product with less materials. This affects the smoothness, consistency, and taste of the final product. Overrun is a main component to soft serve ice cream. The right amount of overrun is crucial to achieve the perfect soft serve ice cream. The perfect soft serve ice cream should look fluffy, stand well without dripping or falling, and seem generous in amount. Therefore, some soft serve ice cream cones look large in serving but are using the same amount of product as a scoop of harder ice cream.
Health Drawbacks and Benefits of Ice Cream
It is well known that ice cream is not the most health-conscious food out there. Some health drawbacks of ice cream include:
High in added sugar, with many varieties containing 12-24 grams of sugar per ½ cup serving. One to two small servings can easily push you towards the daily recommendation of 50 grams of sugar per day.
Calorie-dense and low in nutrients, which may promote weight gain and lack of necessary vitamins and minerals.
May contain unhealthy additives, like artificial colors and flavors. Some artificial ingredients and preservatives have been associated with negative health effects, such as hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children, and intestinal inflammation.
On the contrary, eating ice cream may have provide some benefits to health. Positives of eating ice cream include:
High energy dense food, it is rich in carbohydrates, fats, and some protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one ½ cup of vanilla ice cream provides 137 kilocalories of energy. This is about twice the amount of energy provided in one ½ cup of whole milk. This is a great way to achieve extra calories if you need to gain weight, which is common in older adults who don’t eat much.
Rich in calcium and phosphorus, with about 10% of the adult recommended dietary allowance in a single, one ½ cup serving. Calcium and phosphorus help promote strong, healthy bones to prevent bone loss, known as osteoporosis.
Some ice cream brands, such as Halo, are lower in fat, carbs, sugar and has more protein than the average ice cream. A pint of chocolate Halo Top ice cream has only 280 calories.
Ways to Make Ice Cream Healthier and Healthy Alternatives
Even with the drawbacks of eating ice cream, it is possible to make it more nutrient dense. Make ice cream a little healthier by:
Adding fresh fruitsnuts, such as strawberries and peanuts, and granolato add more fiber, vitamin C, and healthy fats to the ice cream.
Italian ice is a dairy and egg free, low-fat option for those who are watching their fat intake. However, italian ice is high in sugar. If you are also looking at keeping your sugar intake low, a low-sugar option would be good option to consider.
Sorbet is another dairy free and low-fat alternative to ice cream. If you are vegan, there are some vegan varieties available, such as Talenti Mango and Raspberry sorbetto.
Make “nice cream”, which is made by freezing spotted bananas and blending the frozen bananas with your choice of milk (either dairy or plant-based). The spotted bananas will provide enough sweetness so you won’t need to add any extra sugar. Add cocoa powder, matcha powder, or any of your favorite flavorings for a healthy treat. Top it off with fruits, nuts, and granola to make it even more nutrient dense.
Even though ice cream may seem indulgent and unhealthy, it can still be part of a healthy diet if enjoyed in moderation. For more information regarding ice cream and dairy, please visit https://www.idfa.org/ for more information.
*written by Sophia Wagner, Dietetic Senior from Minnesota State University - Mankato; Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Registered & Licensed Dietitian
You may have known Starkist® growing up as the "tuna people"; however, Starkist® is more than just tuna...they also do chicken!
Starkist® makes meals solutions easy and super simple for busy families, or, the athlete or gym-goer who is looking for a high-protein option.
If choosing tuna, tuna is a fatty fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Starkist® products are ready-to-eat straight from the can or the pouch. Make a quick and easy Salad Niçoise by using Starkist® tuna pouches instead of taking the time to grill up your own tuna steak, or, try something that is high in protein and low in fat like the Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad featured below. The possibilities are endless with Starkist®.
*written by Sophia Wagner - Dietetics Senior from Minnesota State University - Mankato
Many people fall into the impression that healthy eating is very costly, which at first glance it may be. A pack of ramen is under 50 cents while a container of strawberries could be four or five dollars. A McDonalds burger and fries would be under five dollars, but a pound of ground beef is $6.49...so that must be the case then eating healthy is going to cost an arm and a leg?
Food Processing and How it Makes Our Food Cost More
Something that impacts our food prices is how much a food is processed. Contrary to popular belief food processing is not a bad thing. Fermenting is an example of food processing. A common fermented food is yogurt, which provides probiotics, beneficial for gut health. Any way we alter food to yield something with more vitamins and minerals, a longer shelf life or better taste and texture are ways a food has been processed. The image below illustrates the different ways foods are processed.
As you can see there are definitely benefits to processing foods. However too much of anything is too much. Highly processed foods, such as frozen pizza, some breakfast cereals, chips, candy and pastries are examples of foods that have been processed to be highly palatable and give us a lot of calories, but not a lot of nutrition in return. It also costs money to turn ingredients into convenience foods.
More often than not, whole food in its original form is reasonably priced and packed with nutrition.
Lets compare some foods...
Pop tarts are $2.85 for 8 servings coming out to $0.36 per serving versus oatmeal is $4.99 for a container of 30 servings costing $0.17 per serving.
A frozen XXL pizza is $11.29 or $1.88 a serving, in comparison, chicken breast is $7.01 for a container coming out to $1.47 a serving.
A 13 oz bag of potato chips at $4.79 equals $0.37 a serving.
...Meanwhile a bag of baby carrots is $1.19 for a 16 oz bag, which is $0.24 a serving.
For the most part, a healthy, nutritious meal can be made costing the same, if not less than a meal made from convenience foods. When it comes to grocery shopping on a budget buying staples in bulk or larger containers is a way to save money. Also, take advantage of frozen or canned fruit and vegetables. Not only is this a cost effective way to buy produce but their shelf life is extended, decreasing the chance of them going to waste. Depending on your grocery store if it has a bakery, its worth checking to see if they have a "day old" section and you can get those items at a discount. Along with that, buying the store brand or off brand of foods is a way to cut back on grocery expenses. As you can see in the picture below these two products are largely the same, but the store brand is $1.50 less.
Now lets explore some meal ideas that are inexpensive to prepare and do not take a lot of cooking skills.
Breakfasts: -PBJ Oatmeal. Oatmeal with frozen fruit drizzled with peanut butter or another nut butter of choice. -Egg tacos, make scrambled eggs and normal and add to a whole wheat tortilla with some cheese and salsa if desired.
Lunches: -Tuna or egg salad sandwich, made with a lighter mayo and served on whole wheat bread to add fiber and increase fullness. -Burrito bowl. Rice and beans are very budget friendly staples, add lettuce, corn, taco sauce, sour cream, cheese and anything else you like this meal is very versatile.
*written by Cat Daoheuang, Normandale Community College Diet Tech Student
Why is child nutrition important?
Healthy nutrition during childhood and adolescence is crucial for proper growth and development. Eating healthy during childhood and adolescence has been shown to improve academic performance in school such as improving cognitive function and mood, and reducing absenteeism. Healthy nutrition also is important for prevention of various health conditions, such as obesity. It is estimated that 1 in 3 children in America are overweight and obese. Eating adequate nutrition may help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight while reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, and cavities. Furthermore, good nutrition during childhood and adolescence will help establish healthy eating habits and nutritional knowledge that will be used throughout life.
Why parents may be too busy with meal ideas?
There may be multiple factors that may cause parents to be too busy to prepare home meals. According to one study, these factors include:
Lack of time, this is the most common cause
Not enough confidence in their ability to cook
Preference to taste of processed foods
In another study, it found that parents eat up to 156 meals standing up do to hectic work and family schedules with about 1 in 4 parents doing this regularly. Furthermore, some parents buy processed and microwavable foods because they are cheaper and easier for children to prepare as opposed to healthier food options.
Easy and nutritious meal ideas for busy parents.
Even with a busy time schedule, it is still possible to have healthy food options available. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, here are some easy meal ideas that are easy to make but still very nutritious for your family. Breakfast
Yogurt cups, sliced fruit, and granola
1-minute quick oats with milk, sliced fruits, sliced nuts, and maple syrup
Jimmy Delights breakfast bowl with mixed vegetables and black beans
Dole Boost Blends blueberry and banana protein smoothie with pulp orange juice, milk and yogurt
Salad from the cold bar, with prepared ingredients such as spinach, arugula, diced chicken, tomatoes, eggs, carrots, and premade dressing of choice. Serve the salad with a soup from the hot bar to complete this meal.
Grilled or rotisserie chicken wrap with whole wheat tortilla, avocado spread, cold bar items, and dressings of choice. Serve with sweet corn on the side for extra fiber content.
Hot food bar's teriyaki veggie stir fry, grilled salmon, and frozen brown rice
Tacos with Kingsford Pork Carnitas with taco shells and toppings of choice. Healthy toppings include black beans, brown rice, salsa, light sour cream/Greek yogurt, corn, shredded cheese and shredded lettuce. All these ingredients are readily available for use in the produce, frozen, and canned isles.
Grilled chicken sandwich with a whole wheat bun, cheese slices, avocado slices, tomatoes, onions, kelp pickles, and sauces of choice.
Banquet Meals Sliced Turkey with brown rice, frozen broccoli and carrots, and whole wheat bread roll
Frozen red and green grapes
Veggie tray and dips
Mixed nuts or trail mix
Apple slices and peanut butter
To get more ideas on easy healthy recipes, visit healthyfamilyproject.com for more information.
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Achieving weight loss is a great milestone for many. The achievement took time and dedication that may have involved frustration, joy, confusion, and probably tears. It is no easy task to do. We all want to lose weight for different reasons - be able to fit in clothes better, reduce joint pain to run with our grandchildren, manage our diabetes...amongst many others.
When weight loss is achieved, it is quite common to see the weight come back.
A study review by Lowe and colleagues, published in 2013 in Frontiers in Psychology, concluded from 15 out of 20 studies found non-obese persons who have dieted often gain if not all, most of their weight loss back.
According to Franziska Spritzler, Registered Dietitian, dieting does not properly teach a person about nutrition as a whole and it neglects giving a person the understanding of the hunger and appetite hormones. During severe calorie deficits that are not nutrient dense (food that is high of nutritional value), cortisol (stress hormone) increases which triggers the body to produce ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to get the body back on track to protect itself. Not eating enough protein, fat, or even carbohydrates can increase ghrelin.
So...Why did our weight come back? Does fat not disappear when we lose the weight?
Fat Stays Put In Our Body
There are two types of fat we carry in our body - visceral and subcutaneous fat.
Visceral fat is the body fat that surrounds the organs. Its purpose is to provide protection and cushion the organs from external trauma to the body.
Subcutaneous fat is located under our skin...the jiggliness we can see as we shake our arms in joy or when we run and our belly flops in all directions. When excess calories are consumed beyond what your metabolism can deal with, the by-products digested from fat or carbohydrates may be converted to a type of fat called triglycerides. Triglycerides are then stored in our fat cells to be used as an energy source for emergencies; however, causes our fat cells to expand. Our body uses carbohydrates first as energy. When the availability of carbohydrates are no more, the body then taps into our muscle stores for glycogen (stored carbohydrates) as energy. Once that disappears, usually after 60 minutes or so, then it taps into our fat for energy from triglycerides. Most people do not get the point of using triglycerides as body fuel unless they are quite active. Metabolism of triglycerides as an energy source is a major contributor to carbon dioxide production. The more carbon dioxide your body produces, the more breaths you take in and out to get rid of carbon dioxide. Heavy, fast breathing during activity is often a sign that you are burning triglycerides for energy; thus, increasing the chance that the fat cells will shrink back down.
Do I Need to Do Cardio to Burn Fat?
Image Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/
You may have heard weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. That is true.
In Nutrition for Sport Exercise by Dunford and Doyle, published in 2012, examined a common claim many fitness industries shared to improve weight loss is to exercise in the fat-burning zone. Many cardio equipment have "fat-burning modes" available; however, Dunford and Doyle found these modes are often set to lower-intensity levels and indicates fat burning as only a percentage of calories burned. In Dunford and Doyle's case of a marathon runner, when the athlete ran at a speed of 9 minutes per mile for an hour, his fat burn was 300 calories. When his run was decreased at a lower pace to 9:30 minutes per mile for an hour, his fat burn was 282 calories.
What if we told you that to lose fat, fat needs to burned during exercise. If you look at athletes such as sprinters, weight lifters, and body builders, they are appear very lean and have low levels of body fat, yet their sport is of very high intensity. These sports utilize an anaerobic system, a metabolic process that is able to work without oxygen and uses very little fat as an energy source. In an old study by Grediagin and colleagues published in 1995 found the most important factor in weight and fat loss is total calories spent, not the exercise intensity or source of fuel used in exercise. In their study, half of the subjects exercised at low intensities, but the time duration was matched to equal the amount of calories spent by the other group at higher intensities. Both groups lost weight and identical amount of body fat.
What if we told you it is possible to burn more calories at rest than when doing any type of exercise?
If you go back to basic biology, you may remember learning about cell structure and organelles. One particular organelle worth mentioning is called the mitochondria, also known as the "power house" of cells. Every cell in our body has mitochondria including fat. Muscle cells have the most mitochondria out of any other cell. Why? Muscles need to generate energy quickly to provide movement to our body.
The purpose of weight training is to work your muscle into exhaustion to create microtears. These microtears are healed up by your muscle cells which result in muscle mass growth. The more muscle mass, the more mitochondria available to burn off calories as energy. Joey Gast, registered dietitian and owner of IThrive Nutrition, specializes in nutrition and fitness for women. His approach is teaching his clients how to adapt their eating habits while enjoying their favorite foods, no cardio, but incorporate weight training. Through this approach, Joey's clients lose on average 5 pounds a month.
What If I Do Not Want or Cannot Exercise?
There are many reasons people do not want to exercise or cannot exercise. It could be to chronic pain in the joints from arthritis, or, the lack of time available to go to the gym to use equipment that could be too expensive to get for the home.
It is possible to lose weight without exercise by cutting down calories; however, not only fat loss will happen, muscle loss will happen to. That 2 pound weight loss you had; that could be 1 pound of fat and 1 pound of muscle. This has the potential to alter your metabolism; the more muscle you lose, the less mitochondria available to burn extra calories at rest.
Instead of thinking of exercise as...well, "exercise", think of it instead as "movement". What is movement you like or can do without pain? Could that be mowing the lawn, walking the dog, cleaning the house...any activity that involves movement will require your muscles to keep telling those mitochondria to burn calories.
Does Weight Loss Require a Calorie Deficit?
There is many research from various organizations such as The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harvard Medical Center, and the National Institute of Health that support the claim that putting yourself in at least a 300 to 500 calorie deficit each day may result in a 1 to 2 pound weight loss per week.
Some people may already be doing a calorie deficit; however, are still not seeing the results they would like. You put yourself in a calorie deficit, but how are you doing that? Are you omitting a certain food group completely? Are you making sound, nutrient-dense choices? Putting yourself in a calorie deficit with balance is still important. If you are not feeding your body nutrient-dense foods, how is your metabolism going to get adequate nutrients to function properly? Maybe you are doing all of this. So why are we not seeing weight loss?
Stress levels are too high. Remember earlier how high levels of cortisol may increase your levels of ghrelin? High levels of stress may create mental barriers and reduce your ability to stay on track. You may be so focused on trying to get all your work projects done that it is making you forget to track your meals; or perhaps you are reaching out for a granola bar instead of the nutritious meal you have prepared in hopes it is enough nutrients to keep your metabolism in check.
What Makes the Fat We Get From Food Different From What Our Body Fat Is?
Fat we get from food, whether that is a piece of chicken or from butter, is often referred to dietary fat. You may have heard examples of dietary fat as saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat.
Saturated fat are fats that are solid at room temperature. Examples of this include bacon grease, margarine, shortening, and beef gristle. Saturated fats are known to raise your bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein), it is recommended to consume little saturated fats as possible to reduce the risk of heart-related conditions. Ever tried draining grease down your kitchen drain? Due to the thickness of the nature, even with hot running water, can collect in the pipes and eventually cause the drains to back up. Imagine that, but with your blood vessels.
Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) differ in their chemical structure. Regardless, they are liquid at room temperature. Examples of this include olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. MUFAs and PUFAs are known to raise your good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein); thus, lowering your risk of heart-related conditions.
Eating in excess of either saturated fat, MUFAs, or PUFAs, results in triglycerides to be stored in your fat cells.
But...dietary fats also serve special purposes metabolically too. Fat-soluble nutrients known as ADEK (Vitamin A, D, E, and K) need adequate amounts of dietary fat to be absorbed during digestion. Many persons who are deficient in Vitamin D are often deficient in calcium as you need to take both Vitamin D and calcium at the same time to help each of them be absorbed; however, if a person is already doing this and their numbers are still low, they can improve their odds by taking those supplements immediately after a meal with a good source of dietary fat.
Sources: Eun-Jung, R. (2017). Weight cycling and its cardiometabolic impact. Journal of Bbesity and Metabolic Syndrome, 26(4), 237–242. https://doi-org.ucark.idm.oclc.org/10.7570/jomes.2017.26.4.237 Grediagin, A., Cody, M., Rupp, J., Benardot, D., & Shern, R. (1995). Exercise intensity does not effect body composition change in untrained, moderately overfat women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 95(6), 661-65. Lowe, M. R., Doshi, S. D., Katterman, S. N., & Feig, E. H. (2013). Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 577. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/balance-hormones ttps://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319236#:~:text=But%20there%20are%20two%20different,fat%20that%20surrounds%20the%20organs. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/where-does-fat-go-when-you-lose-weight#:~:text=During%20weight%20loss%2C%20fat%20cells,breathing%2C%20urination%2C%20and%20sweating. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/dietary-fats
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Cooking oils have evolved over the years as more food manufacturers are meeting the demands of their consumers by making more "nutritious" cooking oil options available.
Some persons may use one specific type of cooking oil for all their cooking needs - deep frying, oven frying, stir-frying, pan-frying, making salad dressing, marinades, and amongst many other things. Though it may be best to have one specific type of your favorite cooking oil in place, either due to cost or lack of storage capacity, it is becoming more common now to see a household with at least two or more types of cooking oil in their pantry. This leads to the question, "what cooking oil is best"? There is no definitive answer and here is why.
Understand the Smoke Point
The smoke pointis defined as the moment when a cooking oil stops shimmering and starts to smoke; in other words, the point when the cooking oil starts to burn. You will know when a cooking oil has reached its smoke point when the color changes and black speckles start to form in the liquid.
The issue with cooking oil that is starting to smoke or burn while you are cooking affects the quality of your food. It could leave your meal a burnt taste, bitter flavor, or increase the risk of consuming free radicles which may in turn increase the risk for certain cancers.
Sometimes the smoking of a cooking oil is inevitable depending on the cooking method you use; however, it is best to select the correct cooking oil to ensure you retain the utmost quality of the meal you are preparing. The higher the smoking point of a cooking oil, the more difficult it will be to burn.
If you plan on deep-frying or pan frying food, it is best to use an oil with a high smoke point. An example of this (see chart above) is either using safflower oil or rice bran oil; however, these are often more expensive than other oils and may not be feasible for every household. A common cooking oil many restaurants use for these cooking techniques are soybean (vegetable) oil, peanut oil, and corn oil.
Oils with lower smoke points like olive oil, sesame oil, or even butter is best used for quick cooking, high-heat methods, or slow cooking, low/medium heat methods. Examples of quick cooking methods are stir-frying and sautéing; examples of slow cooking methods are oven, crock pot, and stewing.
Besides Smoke Point, Are There Other Considerations?
Now that we have a brief explanation down for smoke point, there are also other considerations that may determine what kind of cooking oil you should buy or use.
Neutral Oil or Flavored Oil. As you may have seen on the chart (see above), there is a column that either states "yes" or "no" for neutral oil. What this means is, does the oil have a tasteless flavor or is similar in taste to vegetable oil? Oils like olive oil, avocado oil, and beef tallow will give food a slight flavor of those specific oils compared to neutral oils. If you are thinking about using coconut oil to cook scrambled eggs for example, do you want your eggs to have a slight taste of coconut? It is okay if you do not mind it.
Refined or Unrefined Oil. Cooking oils are produced by extracting them through pressing of seeds like sesame and safflower, or the fruit of the plant like olives. Unrefined oil is cooking oil that is extracted and packaged in its natural state. They can often be labeled as virgin, cold-pressed, or raw. Unrefined oils however often have lower smoke points compared to their refined counterparts. They also have a lower shelf life and goes rancid faster. Refined cooking oils go through filtering and a heating stage to get rid of volatile compounds (that causes burning in the oil), increasing the smoke point, shelf life, and the likelihood of creating a neutral flavor.
Besides Cooking, Are There Nutritional Considerations?
Cooking oils are often associated as the number one contributor to high cholesterol and heart health issue because cooking oils are basically a type of fat. Regardless of this, there are specific oils that are more mindful and nutritious than others.
Saturated or Unsaturated Oils. Oils that are solid at room temperature are high in saturated fats. These are known to increase the risk for heart disease and cholesterol issues. Examples of this are butter, bacon grease, and coconut oil. Unsaturated fats are oils that are liquid at room temperature. Examples of this are olive oil, corn oil, and canola oil. Unsaturated oils are higher in polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats which research shows may actually improve heart health and lower cholesterol. A lot of unsaturated oils are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and/or omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids, often found in seafood, is known to support neurological health, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.
Cooking Oils Contain Vitamins Too. We often think of other food sources like produce and meats that contribute to vitamins; however, cooking oils, especially plant-based oils like safflower or canola, also contain vitamins for our health too! The most abundant vitamin found in cooking oil is Vitamin E. Vitamin E supports the immune system, maintain healthy eye and skin membranes.
What is the Hype Around Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil contains a fatty compound called medium-chain triglyercides, or MCT. It has been claimed that those who have a high diet of MCT will see greater improvements in their weight. From a chemistry perspective, the structure of MCTs are quite shorter than other types of fat it is absorbed quite easily by the liver to be used as energy; that is however, if the body already has completely used up its energy stores from glycogen stored in the muscles. If MCTs are not able to be used as energy, it gets stored as body fat instead.
A study published in 2015 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics by Mumme and Stonehouse found diets high in MCTs have minimal effects on weight loss. Of the 749 study participants, the study resulted an average of 1 pound lost, 0.38 centimeter reduction in waist size, and 0.4 pounds in fat mass lost; all in a month.