Can I Lose Weight with an Online Weight-Loss Coaching Program?

Apple and tape measureIn a 2012 comparative study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers compared weight-loss results between obese people enrolled in an in-person weight-loss program and those registered in telephone/web-based weight-loss interventions. Each group was enrolled in a program that differed only in its format – in-person or telephone/web-based. Both groups provided support on diet and exercise and had accountability components (i.e., food journals/trackers).  At the end of the multi-year study, the doctors found that the people registered in online programs lost a statistically similar amount of weight as those enrolled in an in-person group.

Other research suggests that the answer isn’t so clear – in a review of recent research, Columbia University physicians analyzed studies involving 4,100 participants, finding that while using a web-based program to virtually track weight-loss is more effective than reading and using weight-loss pamphlets to inform eating habits, dieters who worked with a live support group lost more weight over time than those enrolled solely in computer-based programs.
So, can you lose weight with an online weight-loss program or not? While it remains up for debate whether online programs are more effective in enabling weight loss than programs with a live component, the research suggests that the bottom line answer is yes – using an online program will help you shed undesired pounds. How, then, do you decide which to use? There are implications to using an online program that must be considered when determining which type – online or in-person – is best for you.
Thinking in a metacognitive fashion about what works for you as an individual is crucial in determining whether an online weight-loss program is for you. Are you the sort of person who needs a friend to check in with them to stay on top of your projects or meeting your goals? Perhaps a weight-loss program that offers an in-person element and a group of people to support you is necessary. Conversely, are you the type of person who absorbs and loves data, putting everything involving numbers into an Excel spreadsheet? If you find that entering your daily food intake, exercise and weight-loss progress into an online database is enough for you, then the online route might be the one to follow.
What if you’re just not sure? Try a hybrid program (a program that offers both online and in-person services). If you find that having a live support group helps you, stick with it. If not, switch to strictly online. One benefit to online programs to consider is cost – there are a few sites that offer journaling services and weight-loss free of cost, while the majority of programs that meet in person have monthly fees. Online coaching programs usually have a fee associated with them, but allow you more flexibility with scheduling sessions and conferences. Ultimately, the decision lies with you and what works best with your dieting style – but, whether the weight-loss system is online or not, you can and will lose weight if you adhere to the program’s guidelines and keep yourself accountable.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Foods Can I Eat as Much as I Want and Still Lose Weight?

carrots and vegetables                In April 2012, Shape Magazine published an article titled “Healthy Snacks: 6 Foods You Can’t Overdo,” purporting that there are a few snack foods out there that you can eat as much as you want without worrying about sabotaging your diet plan. The Chicago nutritionist interviewed for the article, Dawn Jackson Blatner, Ph.D., argued that vegetables are the only food group that you can eat without thinking about the portion. She named several snack ideas for vegetables: cucumbers with rice vinegar, zucchini with lemon and pepper, artichokes and baked kale chips.
It’s common knowledge that vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants – so eating endless amounts of spinach won’t hurt you. The problem with vegetables is that eating them by themselves often does not produce the feeling of being full that cues your body that it does not need more food. So while vegetables are one of the only foods you can eat as much of as you want and still lose weight, the catch is finding ways to prepare and eat vegetables in a manner that promotes the full feeling your body needs. So, eat as many vegetables as you want, but follow these tips to make them interesting and satisfying.

  1. Fill your plate with raw, crunchy vegetables – Replace heavy starches like potatoes and carb-rich sides like rice with raw, crunchy vegetables (think: carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peppers).  Finding vegetables that you can munch on – and are inherently yummy – is important. The crunch of these vegetables makes you feel fuller when eating and are in no way detrimental to your diet.
  2. Find delicious foods made out of vegetables – There are non-vegetables that are made out of vegetables. Noodles, typically made with grains, are a food not associated with vegetables. Kelp noodles, however, are made out of sea kelp and are rich in water.
  3. Employ condiments to make vegetables more satisfying – Add flavor to vegetables with little to no-calorie condiments like white wine vinegar or hot sauce. Both have few to no calories and add flavor and spice to otherwise boring veggies. Adding Texas Pete’s to celery, or steaming broccoli with white wine vinegar and garlic powder does not dramatically alter the calorie content of the vegetable, but may make you feel more satisfied when snacking.

Find vegetables that you enjoy and bountifully add them to your meals – finding the right kinds of vegetables and preparing them in unique ways will make you feel fuller, preventing you from overeating less healthy, carb-laden snacks.

What are the best beverages for dieting?

Cup of White Tea

When constructing a diet plan, the focus is often placed on developing meals that healthfully balance carbohydrates, protein and fat. But – frequently overlooked are the beverages that accompany these meals.

If you find yourself saying, “I’m not worried. I drink no-calorie diet soda!” you may need to reevaluate your verdict. A recent study published by the University of Texas suggests that guzzling multiple Diet Cokes each day may be linked with weight gain. Despite how counter-intuitive that may seem, researchers have found that the artificial sweeteners common in diet beverages may cause the body to crave the additional calories it tastes, but is actually missing.

So, if Diet Coke doesn’t cut it – what ARE the best beverages for dieting?

Water

Hands down, the best drink for dieting is water. Why? Water makes up approximately 60% of our body weight. Water aids almost all bodily functions – from cleansing your body of toxins built up in the kidneys to aiding the transmission of neurons in the brain. Not only does water help our body function – it just might help you lose weight. A study published in Obesity suggests that overweight women who escalate their consumption of water experience an increase in metabolism and weight loss.  There is not an official consensus on the effects of drinking water on weight loss. However, recent research implies that drinking water makes you feel full, consequently causing you to ingest fewer calories. There is no known harm in drinking water – so drink as much as you need to feel full and energized before exercising.

Sparkling Water

Do you know how beneficial water is, but still find yourself craving the bubbles that only carbonation can provide? Despite rumors surrounding the negative effects of sparkling water, sparkling water is just that – water that sparkles! Nutrition experts agree – the positive effects of drinking sparkling water are identical to those of regular water. Basically, sparkling water is regular water, with carbonation. Carbonation is not known to affect weight – so if you want the benefits of drinking water, swig all of the sparkling water you want!

Green Tea

First brewed over 4,000 years ago, green tea has been long been a staple in Eastern culture. While drinking green tea has voluminous benefits, one major advantage is its effect on weight loss. Containing a combination of caffeine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), green tea increases metabolism. A randomized placebo-controlled study found that moderately overweight adults who sipped 1,900mg of green tea daily lost an average of 2.64 pounds in 90 days (without working out). Drink a cup of hot green tea each day – or swallow it cold – to help lose weight!

One-Percent Reduced-Fat Milk

Drinking a glass of milk isn’t as bad as people might think. One cup of one-percent reduced-fat milk carries similar nutrition contents as a small, healthy meal. An average glass has about 110 calories, 8 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates. A study published in the “Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism” (2010) found that increased consumption of one-percent reduced-fat milk may aid weight loss in overweight women. Having a glass as a snack may make you fuller longer, while still giving you the energy you need to exercise and feel great.

Making the Right Choices

When creating your healthy eating plan, don’t forget to assess the beverages that you consume. You may be thwarting your weight loss efforts with unhealthy drinks. Before drinking, ask yourself: Does this drink have calories or artificial sweeteners that might negate my diet? Rather, does it have nutrients or elements that might help accelerate weight loss? Allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite drinks is important, but make sure that your overall beverage consumption does not repudiate your weight loss.