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Tips to avoid late-night snacking

An important weight management tip is to eat when you we feel true, physiological hunger. Eating when not truly hungry can lead to excess calories and weight gain. Excessive snacking before bedtime and/or late at night, in particular, can become a bad habit. It can be a ‘go to’ behavior to distract us when we are experiencing uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, such as frustration, anger, fear and boredom. Even excess stress and exhaustion can play a role in night-time eating. Here are some tips to limit mindless eating at night:

Eat well during the day: Aim to consume regular, well balanced meals with a wide variety of foods. Take time to plan your meals and snacks. Listen to your body and stay fueled throughout the day, according to your hunger levels.

Include fiber-rich foods: Few Americans eat enough of fiber-rich foods. Fiber, found in plant foods, promotes digestive and heart health and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes are fiber-rich. The more fiber you eat, the more important it is to drink plenty of water.

Don’t skimp on protein and overdo processed carbs: Noshing on processed carbs all day, such as crackers, white bread, granola bars, sugary cereals, sweets, pastries, and chips, for example, doesn’t provide your body with what it needs for optimum performance. Stick with healthier carb choices, such as fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Pair these foods with a source of protein, such as a hard-boiled egg, Greek yogurt, nut butter, cottage cheese, hummus, tuna, etc.

Think twice before taking a bite: what are you really feeling? Is it true hunger or are you anxious, bored, frustrated or tired? What other activities and behaviors would satisfy you? Consider calling a friend to chat, playing a game, going for a walk, taking a relaxing shower or bath, reading, etc.

Go to bed earlier: if you are eating out of boredom or as a compliment to late-night television, consider an earlier bedtime. Sleep is important for weight control. Inadequate sleep can interfere with efficient carbohydrate metabolism, increase fat storage and hunger.

If you are truly hungry, eat a healthy balanced snack, such as yogurt with fruit, oatmeal with raisins and nuts, 1/2 small turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or a slice of whole wheat toast spread with peanut butter or low-fat ricotta cheese and a dab of honey or jam. Keep your portions small and avoid distractions while eating.

Tips to Stay Hydrated in the Summer HEAT!

Water is the most essential nutrient and substance after air for sustaining life. The human body is composed of approximately 60% water. Lean body mass (muscle) contains more water than fat, 70 to 75% versus approximately 40% for fat. Thus, men’s bodies, as well as athletes’ bodies, that have more proportionately more lean muscle tissue, contain more water than bodies with less lean muscle mass and more fat.

The functions of water in the human body are many. It is the medium in which all biochemical reactions occur, is essential for removing waste and transporting nutrients, maintaining blood volume and circulation throughout the body and maintaining body temperature. Regulating body temperature is particularly important in hot weather and during exercise (inside or outside, especially in hot weather).

During physical activity, your internal temperature raises. This heat travels through your bloodstream to your skin. This causes you to sweat, your bodies’ attempt to cool. Evaporated sweat cools your body…returning your body temperature to normal, which is important for optimal function. You must replenish fluids regularly. Once you feel thirst, you have lost approximately 1% of your body fluid. A 2% water loss can cause noticeable adverse symptoms, such as extreme fatigue. Fluid needs depend upon external factors as well – even the clothing you are wearing!!

Top Hydration Tips

  1. Drink enough fluids to prevent thirst. Hydrating fluids include: water, tea, coffee (try iced in summer), juices/diluted juices, milk and soups. Caffeine (in tea and coffee) was once considered to be a diuretic but recent research suggest that a slight diuretic effect doesn’t discount their hydrating properties. If you don’t enjoy plain water, try carbonated water or add natural flavoring to it (mint leaves, cucumber slices, citrus fruit wedges).
  2. Monitor your urine color and volume. It should be a pale yellow color. If it is dark yellow, cloudy or pungent (in odor) you may be dehydrated.
  3. Consume five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily. All foods contain SOME water, but fruits and vegetables are higher in water content than other foods and can help quench your thirst. Keep melons, citrus fruits, juicy pears, cucumbers, tomatoes, berries, etc…
  4. Alcohol is very dehydrating and when consuming alcohol, your urine may indicate you are hydrated when in fact, you are not. Alternate sips of your alcoholic beverage with water; never exercise with a hangover and consume alcohol in moderation.


Calories etc: How many calories do I need?

If you have a calculator, then you can figure out how many calories you need. Sure, there are dozens of online calculators, but either of the following expert-recommended mathematical equations are super accurate for calculating your calorie needs. One (the Harris-Benedict equation) uses the metric system. Both formulas yield a similar result.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?

The first step for either formula is to calculate your BMR. This is, quite simply, the minimum amount of energy (in calories) you need daily to sustain life. BMR factors in not only your height and weight, but your age. BMR declines every decade beyond age 30, some say up to 10%. This impacts your calorie needs – you need fewer calories daily to maintain your weight as you age. Calculating BMR is only the first step. You need to multiply that number by a physical activity level (PAL), also known as an activity factor. Choose this number based upon your exercise level and lifestyle (active or sedentary job).

Calculations for calories needed

Harris-Benedict Equation:
Men = 66 + (6.3 x weight in lbs) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR
Women = 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR

Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation:
Men = 10 x (weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 x age in years) + 5 = BMR
Women = 10 x (weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 x age in years) – 161 = BMR

The next step is to multiply your BMR by the most suitable physical activity factor (keep in mind that most individuals overestimate their level of physical activity):

Sedentary = BMR x 1.2
Light activity = BMR x 1.375
Moderately active = BMR x 1.55
Very active = BMR x 1.725
Extremely active/Athletic = BMR x 1.9 or more

Using the Harris-Benedict Equation, the BMR for a 40 year-old man, 5’10” and 164 lbs = 1,730 calories
Using the Mifflin St-Jeor formula, the BMR for the same man = 1,661 calories

Calories to lose or gain weight

Now, if you want to gain or lose weight, you need to go a step farther. To lose 1 lb in one week, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. The best way to do this is to decrease your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. You can do this by cutting down on the calories you consume and/or increasing the amount of calories you burn by increasing your exercise intensity, frequency and/or duration. The reverse is true for gaining weight.