With spring in full bloom, many hope to lose pounds before summer’s heat descends. University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) exercise and nutrition experts offer tips for those in search of a summer slim down.
EatRight by UAB Weight Management Services Clinical Dietitian Lindsey Lee R.D., said nutrition is necessary to support weight loss efforts.
“Incorporate good nutrition habits — eating fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and lean protein sources — to get the calories you need to maintain an exercise program,” Lee said. “If you restrict calories too much, you could start to feel burn out.”
To bolster the burn, Lee suggested:
Fill up on lower calorie fruits and vegetables
Choose water over high calorie sodas
Decrease high calorie, high fat options
Switch up food preparation; instead of steaming vegetables, grill them
Toss unique vegetables like skewered okra or fresh asparagus on the grill
“The one important thing to remember is to limit the fat source you use,” Lee said. “Try different herbs and spices to season your veggies instead of heavy amounts of olive oil, canola oil, or butter.”
Restaurant meals can be deceptive and pose a special challenge to healthy eating.
“Even meals you think are healthy in restaurants are loaded with calories because of cooking methods that add a lot of fat and sodium, so ask to have foods prepared as light as possible to avoid extra calories,” Lee said.
She also suggests that people generally underestimate the calories they take in, and they overestimate the calories they burn. The best bet, she said, is to watch the calories consumed daily and get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week.
UAB School of Education Associate Professor of Health Education Retta Evans, Ph.D., said to start by adding a walk or bike ride to a daily routine, then mix it up with other activities to keep things interesting.
“Piloxing, which is a combo of Pilates and kickboxing, is fun,” Evans said. “There are also a variety of yoga disciplines to try, as well as barre fitness dance classes. Mixing it up with different activities is a good way to ramp up your program.”
Evans said a personal trainer can take physical activity and weight loss goals to another level.
“They can sit down with you and map out a timeline to meet your goals, and then they can be there as a motivator to keep reaching those,” Evans explained.
If a personal trainer is not in the cards, Evans suggests looking to the internet for free exercise programming instruction. Either way, properly setting expectations is important.
“In a three month period, you can expect to drop up to three percent of your body composition,” Evans said. “Some people will drop more, and some will drop less. But in that time frame, you’ll start to see changes in how your body looks and feels.” •