Earlier today, many of the Office Challenge contestants participated in the first of two nutrition webinars we’re hosting during the contest. Yes, they can earn points by participating. But more than that, I’m hoping they walk away with some really useful tips in their arsenal for how to keep their bodies fit and healthy.
As our contestants reach the halfway mark of the contest this week (where the heck did time go?), today’s topic was more than timely: What to do when you hit a weight-loss plateau. UnitedHealthcare’s wellness director Andie Rowe offered up a ton of useful tips and advice.
“Oftentimes when you’re eating too little, your body goes into starvation mode. It’s very sparing in energy expenditures,” said Rowe. “It might seem counterintuitive, but if you eat a little more, you’re actually going to start losing weight.
If you feel you’ve plateaued, try tracking your eating and drinking for a few days, and see how many calories you’re actually consuming. If it’s too little, consider adding an extra 100 to 200 calories to your daily total.
“You’ll be surprised to see that you’re body starts losing weight again,” Rowe said.
Despite what fad diets—ahem, Atkins—tell you, you shouldn’t cut entire food groups out of your diet. Instead, aim for a the right mix of carbohydrates (they should account for between 50 to 60 percent of your daily calories), protein (between 20 and 25 percent of calories), and fat (no more than 30 percent of calories).
So if you’re aiming to take in 1,800 calories a day, that means you want 200 to 240 grams of carbs, 90 to 112 grams of protein, and up to 60 grams of fat. Fat contains nine calories per gram, while grams of protein and carbs have four calories each.
But don’t think that all carbs are created equal. You want to eat mainly wholesome carbohydrates—veggies and fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains like brown rice—rather than processed carbs, such as sugary, refined cereals and cookies.
With fats, choose mono- and poly-saturated fats, and stay away from saturated and trans fats. Reading food labels should help you decipher between these varieties. But generally speaking, don’t eat full-fat dairy or fatty red meats, and use olive or canola oil for cooking. Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) should be consumed at least twice a week.
“Remember, a healthy diet should reflect a variety of foods,” Rowe said. “Break through a plateau by measuring your foods, reading labels, and tracking what you eat for a few days. Make adjustments from there.”
Want to get started? Here’s the food journal [PDF] Rowe gave our contestants to help them track their food and drink consumption. She calls it “the single most helpful tool to lose weight and maintain weight loss.”