Munch on vegetables to lose weight

Published 9:38 am Friday, April 15, 2011

I think all of us, who’ve tried to lose weight, have at some time heard the adage, “you have to eat to lose fat.”

Actually it’s true, but no ever tells you what that really means. I’m going to tell you exactly what it means. Once you’ve eaten, food doesn’t merely fall through your body. It has to be “worked,” if you will, through your body.

This not only includes digestion of foodstuffs, but the distribution of nutrients throughout the entire body, and the discarding of waste products also. This process involves both “voluntary” and “involuntary” actions by the body.

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To achieve this, calories, which are units of energy, must be burned. In other words, the body has to spend calories to process any amount of food.

For instance to process any amount of food eaten, the body has to burn 100 calories. Let’s say you eat a 5 calorie grape tomato. You have in essence burned or used up 95 calories just by eating a 5 calorie grape tomato.

Other water-rich vegetables will work the same way. Celery, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and tomatoes, along with many different vegetables are referred to as negative calorie foods.

These negative calories are sometimes referred to as kilocalories.

Simply put, negative calorie foods like water-rich vegetables require more calories to chew and digest, than they themselves offer. This results in a net loss of calories from fat. Let’s say you eat a 5 calorie grape tomato or other vegetable every hour.

Depending on your metabolism, you’ll burn 95 calories or so, every hour just by eating. Also, remember your body can’t tell the difference between what you choose to do, and what you have to do, so here’s the best part…if you eat a grape tomato or a bite of another veggie every hour, your body doesn’t know you’re choosing to eat, it just knows food is available.

Your body then says to itself “foods coming through here all the time, so I don’t have to hold on to all this fat.” Your body will then release some of its fat stores.

Another benefit of eating vegetables every hour is they provide the extra vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your body needs. Eating every hour will also help prevent hunger, which will in turn, help prevent binge eating.

One thing to be careful of is to not eat starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, beans and peas. These contain a type of sugar called polysaccharides. These are often referred to as “complex” sugars or carbohydrates.

Also, while fruit is good for you, and you should eat it, I don’t recommend eating it every hour when trying to lose body fat. The reason for this is that fruit contains a type of sugar called fructose. Fructose is known as a disaccharide (two sugars). The third type of sugar is called a monosaccaride, also known as simple sugar, which comes from candy or table sugar.

Remember from one of my earlier articles, we learned that if sugar is in your bloodstream, you can’t dip into your fat stores. Something of great importance that I will repeatedly tell you through my columns is to always chew your food well (even more than you think you should).

This helps with digestion and makes things easier on your GI (gastrointestinal) track. With fruits and vegetables it’s particularly important to chew well.

Plant cells have something called “cell walls,” which are made up of cellulose. Cellulose is microscopically like little bits of wood. We can digest it some, but not very well.

If we don’t break open these cell walls, we can’t get the nutrients inside them. By chewing well, we break open more of these fruit and vegetable cells, and get the goodness inside.

David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist for 24 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.