Many diet books present a single, inflexible program which forces you to stay on that regimen or risk another dieting failure. Rather than teach you just one way to lose 10 or 20 or even 50 pounds, *The Flex Diet* shows you how to lose a single pound...in 200 different ways. Here are 10 of my favorite tips to get you started:
A cardiologist recommending eggs? In a diet book?
Until recently, you could not find a physician who would allow an egg to get near one of his patients. Eggs typified a high-cholesterol, devil-may-care breakfasting lifestyle on the edge-and eggs would be the last thing you'd want to encourage in someone who had heart disease or wanted to avoid it. But as our understanding of nutrition has evolved over the years, it turns out that eggs are better for you than you (or your doctors) might think.
It all comes down to cholesterol. Your cholesterol levels. These numbers-the total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), HDL (high-density lipoprotein), and triglycerides-are important indicators of your overall riskof getting heart disease. We cardiologists work hard to make your numbers better with medication and lifestyle recommendations. Diet included.
So it would seem to make sense that if you eat foods high in cholesterol, your cholesterol levels should go up significantly. But it is not that straightforward. We now know that dietary cholesterol does not play that big a role in influencing your cholesterol levels-it is the saturated fats and especially the trans fats that you have to think about. While eggs are high in cholesterol, their saturated fat content is actually tolerable. Bottom line? Yes, you can still have eggs for breakfast. And you can knock out the saturated fat almost completely if you use egg whites rather than whole eggs. If you don't mind preservatives and a higher cost, packaged alternatives like Egg Beaters, AllWhites, and Better'n Eggs will also do the trick.
So eggs are safe. But do they help you lose weight? Absolutely. The low carbohydrate content of eggs makes them a great weight-loss food. They fill you up, and because they are low glycemic they help keep your blood sugar stable so you don't hanker for a muffin with your midmorning nonfat latte. Researchers have actually examined the impact of eating eggs for breakfast as compared to eating bagels, and they've found that eggs not only help you lose weight but also make you feel fuller. And the even better news? No significant differences in total cholesterol, LDL, or triglycerides. Could eggs be the perfect breakfast food?
What You Need
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 scallions, sliced
2 egg whites
1 ounce sliced smoked salmon
Ground black pepper
What You Do
Add oil to pan over medium heat.
Add scallions and cook until transparent.
Add egg whites and cook briefly.
Add salmon and cook, stirring, until just set.
Season to taste.
What You Get
Calories 116 • Saturated fat 0.9 g • Cholesterol 6.5 mg
Sodium 682 mg • Fiber 0.8 g
A New York Times editorial once described bagels as "unsweetened doughnuts with rigor mortis." But they do taste good. They are actually one of my favorite foods, which makes it that much more difficult to present the following public Solution announcement:
Bagels are not great if you are on a diet.
A lot of people get fooled. Bagels are not fried, they aren't particularly sweet, and they do not seem like too much of a treat since they are not filled with chocolate chips or glazed. You might absentmindedly buy one the next time you are at your favorite coffee establishment, snack on one during an afternoon break, or just grab one from the bag in your office lunchroom on a Friday morning. But as with any food decision that becomes a habit, this one has consequences that add up-and quickly. For many people, breakfasts or even snacks do not change much from day to day, so breaking the bagel habit is a good way to institute a small change in caloric intake for a great weight-loss result.
Bagels from a bakery or café usually have about 400 calories, and who can resist just a little cream cheese? At 100 to 150 additional calories per bagel, maybe we should try harder. With so many breakfast alternatives out there with fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, and more nutritional value, a bagel with cream cheese should not be your first choice for breakfast, and it should be your last choice for a midmorning or afternoon snack.
A simple switch to an English muffin will satisfy your carbohydrate craving and with about one-third fewer calories than a bakery bagel. Add a little sugar-free jam or even a touch of vegetable oil spread and you will still take in substantially fewer calories. And if you must eat a bagel, consider buying frozen ones at the grocery store rather than buying from the bakery aisle; frozen bagels usually have about half the calories of fresh ones.
While substituting English muffins or healthier bread for bagels is the most effective Solution, there are other options for those of us who don't want to make such a drastic change.
Consider the scoop.
The concept is simple. Use a fork or your fingers to scoop out the doughy interior of the bagel while maintaining the crust as well as theillusion. Scooping your bagel can reduce the number of calories by half. So eating two halves of a scooped bagel has the same calories as eating half a bagel, but it seems like you are eating more. Fooling your brain makes you feel fuller. For the typical oversized bakery bagel, this could mean upwards of 200 calories. But you do have to be careful that you don't make up in cream cheese calories what you lose in dough.
Before you get any crazy ideas, you should know that the "bagel scooper" has already been patented more than ten times, and inexpensive scoopers are available for purchase online if you don't like using conventional utensils at home. And if you buy your bagel at a bagel bakery or café? Have them do it for you. For two dollars, it is not too much to ask.
And remember, your knife can be used for more than just spreading cream cheese — use it to cut your bagel in half and cut some calories too.
Not only does eating while you drive divert your attention from more important things — like the road — but driving, in turn, diverts attention from what you are eating. It is rare enough to find good food choices on the road, whether you are eating at fast-food restaurants or buying snacks from gas stations or convenience stores. But eating while you drive makes bad choices even worse, because you lose your ability to calculate appropriate serving sizes. When a bag of chips or pretzels sits in the passenger seat, it is easy to munch absentmindedly. But if you take the time to sit down in a restaurant to have your lunch, you may actually decide against some of the fast-food outlets that would be more convenient if you are eating on the run. Convenience foods also tend to be high in carbohydrates and are often wrapped in plastic-you can't really eat a salad on the road. Better to avoid them.
Continued on next page >