Get Your Bottom Back into Your Bikini—and Keep It There!

It’s almost summer, and I recently had a moment of panic: will I still fit into that bikini that’s lain crumpled in the back of my dresser drawer all winter long? I know I’m not the only one hoping the answer is “yes.” But if it’s not, I know that I’m not looking for a quick-shrink kind of diet; I want the plan that will get me back in bikini shape, and keep me there (until I decide to go bonkers at the buffet this Christmas). A tested and approved plan that cares about weight maintenance as much about weight loss is Volumetrics. Originally pioneered over ten years ago by Dr. Barbara Rolls, it’s been updated with new science and new recipes in The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet. Here, Dr. Rolls explains many of the myths and misconceptions about weight loss and diet “tricks.” Her partner in research and recipe developer, Mindy, chimes in with her own insights, too.

Can you gain weight on healthy food? How can eating healthy foods help you to lose weight?

 Barbara:  A calorie is a calorie when it comes to body weight, so if you eat more calories than your body needs – even if those calories come from healthy foods such as fruits – you will gain weight. However, you can lose weight by eating bigger portions of lower calorie density foods like vegetables in place of those that are more dense in calories.  When volunteers in my lab were served extra vegetables without any change in the amount of meat and grain on their plate, their meal calories didn’t change. Their total calories went down only when we substituted veggies for other foods on the plate, and we got an even bigger drop in calories when we decreased the calorie density of the vegetables by eliminating butter or sauce.

 Mindy: Many of our recipes show how to reengineer a dish by increasing the amount of low calorie density ingredients such as veggies and cutting back in other places. One of my favorites is the Fajita Breakfast Burrito, where we filled the burrito with lots of vegetables instead of breakfast meat and cheese.

 Is there anything wrong with sneaking veggies into foods?

 Barbara: Sneaking in vegetables gets a bad rap in some circles, but I think it’s a great strategy for not only adding more vegetables but also lowering calories. I think of it as recipe improvement. And research in my lab shows that you can sneak in a lot of vegetables without kids or adults knowing they’re there. When we hid four to five times the usual amount of veggies in entrées served to preschoolers, the kids doubled their daily vegetable intake. Of course, kids need to learn about whole vegetables and parents need to keep offering them. In adults, sneaking four and a half times the usual amount of vegetables into recipes for carrot bread, macaroni and cheese, and chicken-rice casserole increased daily vegetable intake by 80 percent and helped reduce daily calorie intake by 360 calories.

 Mindy: To try this stealth approach at home, start with about 1/4 cup of extra vegetables or fruit for each serving in a recipe, for example, a cup of vegetables is a dish to serve four. Hide vegetables where they blend in easily and are not noticeable such as in mixed dishes, pastas, stews, and soups. Remember to cut down on ingredients that are calorie-dense in order to trim total calories.

 Does it matter whether you eat or drink your calories?

 Barbara: I suggest keeping drink calories in check. Beverages don’t affect hunger and fullness the same way that food does, and you could drink a lot of beverage calories without making a difference to how hungry you are. For example, if you have a large regular soft drink, are you full or do you still have room for food? Studies show that you will likely eat just as much food when you have the soda as when you don’t. The beverage calories add on to the calories from food.

 How can you lose weight if you eat a lot of meals at restaurants?

 Barbara: While people who eat out frequently eat more calories and tend to be heavier than people who have most of their meals at home, it is possible to make choices that can help you lose weight. It is essential to manage portion sizes. When we surveyed chefs, about three-quarters thought they serve regular-size portions. But they reported serving up to eight times as much meat and pasta as the government recommends and barely half a cup of vegetables, which is too small a portion. One of the smartest strategies is to pick a restaurant that has plenty of lower-calorie-density options such as soups, salads, and vegetable side dishes on the menu.

 Mindy: Don’t be afraid to ask questions before ordering. Find out how a dish is prepared and ask if it can be made in a more healthful way, for example, grilled with a small amount of butter or oil instead of pan-fried. Request that high-fat, high-calorie ingredients can be reduced or eliminated. Request smaller portions, or pack half your meal to bring home.

 Is it really possible to keep weight off?

 Barbara: Yes. It is important to make lasting changes in your diet and lifestyle rather than looking at weight loss as a short-term goal. Your daily meals should include plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean protein, and fat-free dairy products. Limit extra calories from fat, sugar, and beverages. Incorporate daily physical activity to improve your health, help you feel more energetic, boost feelings of well-being, and reduce stress. Importantly, being active reinforces your commitment to a healthy lifestyle for maintaining your weight loss. Also maintain a record of your eating and activity; it’s one of the most important ways to improve your chances of success.

For more, visit The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet on Facebook.

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