The skinny on Slimfast and low calorie diets.

You know the ads “Give us week and we’ll take off the weight”, but what are you really losing? Usually water and muscle is lost since fat requires oxidation and thus more time than one week.

Did you know that a can of Slimfast has as much sugar as a candy bar (35 grams) in fact, the second ingredient is sugar! Slimfast is touted as a “high protein” drink yet has only 10 grams of protein, roughly the same as a slice of pecan pie!

A much healthier food choice is an MRP-Meal Replacement Powder. Such brands as Myoplex, Met-Rx and Lean Body* and contain approximately 3 grams of sugar, 42 grams of protein and 50-100% of the RDA of vitamins and nutrients! Quality nutrition for about the same calories as a Slimfast. These are as portable as a Slimfast too, just put the powder in a large drink container, add water and shake. No, this is not a commercial for these drinks, this is an education on how to obtain quality nutrition in a “fast food” so that you can keep that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight!

Low Calorie Diets
On extremely low calorie diets, like the one Slimfast proposes, your metabolism shuts down and stores food as fat easier. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. When weight is lost through low calorie diets, most of the weight is muscle and water. That may look good on the scale, but not on your body or your metabolism. Weight gain occurs after a “diet” is over because the body has been starved and the metabolism lowered.

Stop Dieting!
Cutting calories is not the best way to lose fat. Fueling your metabolism with a healthy eating plan is the secret to increasing your metabolism and losing fat weight. What is a “healthy eating plan”? First let’s notice what is NOT a healthy eating plan: eating 2-3 times per day, eating a potato alone, eating less than 1000 calories, eating only when you are hungry.

Once you feel hungry, your body is in starvation mode and ready to store fat. The trick is to feed the body before that starvation point so the body thinks a constant supply of food is available and will let go of fat for energy. Thus, a vital component of a healthy nutrition plan is to eat scheduled meals and snacks, whether hungry or not.

Secondly, combine a protein and a carbohydrate at each meal. A high protein meal raises the metabolism about 30 percent above normal. This usually occurs within one hour after the meal, and this effect can last as long 3 to 12 hours.1 It is equally important to eat a protein with a carbohydrate to produce a slow release of glucose to keep your energy level high throughout the day.2 When “dieting” many people have a high carbohydrate lunch, like a baked potato or a sandwich with less than 3 oz of meat, and then feel sleepy by 3 or 4 PM. The mid-day blues can be eliminated by including more protein at lunch and by scheduling a snack for 3 or 4 PM. MRPs (meal replacement powders) are an example of a valuable quick snack!

Inadequate calories suppress the metabolism and force the body to use protein from muscles instead of fat for energy. You must count calories to make sure you are eating enough! Your individual caloric requirement is based on several variables such as height, body fat, activity and goals. A professional fitness trainer can help you best determine your caloric needs.
article by Kira Langolf, NSCA-PT, AFAA-CPT