Heart Choices: Fitness Friday ~ Pritikin Center -->

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Fitness Friday ~ Pritikin Center

Today is Friday and so ...it must be Fitness Friday. I'm linking to Sandy's blog @ God Speaks Today. After all, she's the one who started Fitness Friday. And I have to say, the more I read her blog posts ...the more I've grown to love her.

Sandy is very real and transparent. I would encourage you to read her latest series called God Speaks Through the Storm. I'm amazed that after all she's been through, she still has such a loving, kind and fun heart. I think you'll be encouraged as you read her words. I'm so glad I can call her a blogging friend of mine.

Well, on to my Fitness Friday post!

I decided to write about something I learned about weight loss at the Pritikin program. This program was originally started by Nathan Pritikin who is no longer with us. It's a medically based health program for people who want to get serious about their health.

Greg and I had the opportunity to stay at their facility a number of years ago for three whole weeks. At that time, they were located in the Santa Monica Hyatt, which is oceanfront and next to the world famous pier. That's the one that you can often see in movies with the ferris wheel.

They've since moved to the east coast and the center is located at the Yacht Club at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, Florida. Hmm ...maybe I'm due for a healthy vacation?

The Pritikin program claims to have an important key to losing weight!

And since I believe it's important to be a life long learner, I thought I'd give you some information about this important key. It's called calorie density.

Most diet programs tell you what you can't eat and include all the "don'ts" that you shouldn't do like ..."you must cut calories" and "don't eat carbs".

But the strategy that the Pritikin program encourages is to ...add nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This will help you to lose weight.

And believe me, it works!

Both Greg and I lost weight during our stay and continued to lose after we returned home. Of course, they had us exercising our buns off, which were getting smaller over time.

Low calorie density foods are filled with water and fiber, which makes them heavy and more filling. So there are less calories contained in them. One of the main problems with trying to lose weight is the hunger that often accompanies cutting back on calories. If you eat lots of low caloric density foods, you won't experience chronic hunger.

In contrast, high caloric density foods have lots of calories. Examples include things like brownies, breads, cookies, butter, tortilla chips and oils.

It's all about the volume of food you eat. If each bite you eat has an average of 5 calories (like an apple), it's much better than each bite being about 50 calories (like a double cheeseburger).

With each bite, high calorie density foods can be up to 10 times the number of calories of low calorie dense foods!

So, here's your choice.

An apple= 60-100 calories

A plain Dunkin Donuts cake donut= 300 calories

Now, I'm not saying you can never have a donut again. But let's get educated about this and see the difference in calorie density.
One donut isn't very filling. I don't know about you but when I have a donut an hour later ...my blood sugar plummets and I feel terrible. And then I end up looking for something else to eat so I'll feel better.

If you increase the amount of fruit and vegetables (which are basically low calorie density foods), it will help control your feelings of hunger. It will also promote a feeling of satiety and at the same time ...reduce your energy (calorie) intake.

There have been many research studies to back this up. Recent NIH funded research from Penn State University analyzed 658 overweight people who also had high blood pressure. They were attempting to lose weight over a six month period.

The people who made the greatest reduction in calorie density lost the most weight averaging 13 pounds. Those who made the smallest reduction in calorie density lost the least amount of weight, averaging 5 pounds.

So, what does this mean for you?

Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Grab an apple instead of a donut when you need a snack. And don't forget to exercise!

Now how about you? What do you grab when those hunger pangs hit you? An apple or a donut? I really want to know!

And don't forget to visit Sandy for her Fitness Friday post.

Debbie Petras
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  1. Hi Debbie!

    I guess I knew this all along, but I didn't have an official name for it.

    I think "calorie density" is one of the reasons I don't love Weight Watchers or straight calorie counting for weight loss. It's too easy when food just has a "number" attached to it, to choose the lower number with no regard to nutrients.

    One thing I hear all the time when I talk to people about weight loss is this, "Even with all the junk I eat, I'm still within my calories, so I don't know why I'm not losing weight."

    There is a bigger picture than just the sheer number of calories one is eating. There is the over-all effect of the food on your health in the long term.

    I usually try to choose the most nutrient-dense food. Which one will fill my body with the most vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein...etc.

    Otherwise, it's too easy to choose the donut.

    And, regarding the donuts...I have to say that I have seriously NOT had a donut since probably 2001. Maybe earlier. I don't even remember.

    Now, Girl Scout Cookies are another story...

    Have a wonderful day, my friend!

  2. This makes perfect sense. I've given away all my diet books except one that deals with blood sugar issues because it has a lot of other info that is important to me.

    It's still true that to lose weight one has to use up more calories than they take in but I do believe the kinds of calories make a difference. 1,000 calories of salt, fat and sugar-laden foods has to react in the body differently than 1,000 calories from veggies, fruit, whole grains and lean meat.

  3. I love this information!! I was thinking about that when I as hungry yesterday, I grabbed and apple, then ate some grapes and then I felt guilty I was eating so much but then realized it was all stuff good for me!

  4. Always Debbie with usuful information. Thanks friend!

  5. Debbie,

    I start my day with fruit and try to incorporate it through the day instead of sweets and no longer drink soda. I do drink sweet tea when we go out to eat but that's it.

    However, with that said, I still will eat a bite or two of a donut and this last week I have really splurged on Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls ... I'm so PMS'ing (sorry if that is too much information) ... but I know it will pass and I'll go right back to eating normally. I don't let it control me anymore.

    Very nice post, my friend. I never knew this kind of eating actually had a specific name.

    Big Big hugs to you!

  6. Who knew? I didn't know that it was called that. I'm more prone to grab whichever is handy. That means I should buy more fruit.

  7. You are right on my friend. That is how I eat. High density, low calorie foods. Fruits, Veggies, lean meats. Yum!

  8. I grab whatever is around, and most of the time, I'm not even hungry. I'm not a big donut eater...don't buy them, but chocolate and chips are big.

    Just curious, what equals a serving size for fruit? Apples come in all sizes. I know that seems an obvious question, but if I've got to eat 9 fruits and veggies a day, I'd like to know what size counts as a portion.

    Not had a good eating week at all, but there are other reasons for that.

    Thanks for checking in.


  9. This makes perfect sense. Have a great day!

  10. Dear Debbie,
    the trick about writing down what I am eating is so very useful.
    it's so easy to say no, when I know I¨'ll have to write down one Snickers.
    It's all about being honest.
    I also get cranky and dizzy when my blood sugar goes to low. Man, have I eaten lots of carrots (they're tasty), apples, oranges, even grapes and bananas.
    I'm now using the advise for diabetes patients. 3 main and 3 small meals a day.
    Main being bread and cheese (you know the Norwegians eat dark bread for morning an late meal)( also using the ostehoevel cheese slicer), drinking only water tea or coffee bare (without sugar or milk). Small meals are fresh fruit, vegetables and lettuce.
    I'm having a fine life, no diet. Too little exercise though.
    Gotta keep a diary for that too.
    Might help.
    Still loosing weight, just a half pound this week.
    Thank you for being so important and inspiring.
    My physiotherapist is also exited.
    She has given your advise to clients with weight problems.
    From Felisol

    PS I don't think I'll be able to participate in your meme.
    Lack of computer time.

  11. I grab whatever is fastest. So if I have sliced veggies waiting in the fridge, I grab them. If I have a box of donuts on the counter....

    There is a lesson there I'm sure. :-)


I love to read your comments! I know you have something to share so join in the conversation. And thank you for taking the time.

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