Eating right is key to losing pounds



Eric-Emin wood for Metro Toronto


Running is a good way to burn lots of calories, says Beth Beauchemin, fitness director and personal trainer at the TAC.


Berries are a great addition to your morning oatmeal and make for an easy, tasty breakfast.

Ah, spring. The season when a young person’s fancy turns to love... and possibly weight loss. After a winter spent gorging on holiday dinners and more than a few office parties, not to mention cold weather that makes you hungry while stifling the need to exercise, it’s no wonder many people enter the season needing to lose weight. And experts agree —eating right is one of the most important aspects of losing weight.

“I get lots of people that skip breakfast, and then have a small lunch, and then a massive dinner,” says Elizabeth Zemelman, founder of the Nutrition Group. “And that would be the worst thing you can do.”

Zemelman sees many people for weight loss, and her initial advice to them is usually the same: Eat half a plate of vegetables (“a low-calorie way to fill up”) with lunch and dinner, reduce fat intake by eating less butter, margarine, dressing, and mayonnaise, and load up on fibre and whole grains.

“The best thing is to spread your meals throughout the day,” she says, “so you have a very good breakfast, with a snack, good lunch, snack, dinner, snack.”

As resident dietician at the Toronto Athletic Club, Barbara Parisotto has helped plan diets for a number of athletes, including body builders and triathlon participants. When asked for specific meal ideas, she suggests oatmeal and berries for breakfast, a sandwich and salad combination for lunch, grilled fish or chicken with a side of vegetables such as broccoli or sweet potato for dinner, and snacks of raw fruits and vegetables, yogurt, or nuts and seeds during the day.

Like Zemelman, Parisotto says a lot of weight loss comes down to meal timing. “Pacing your regular meals and snacks,” she says, “is really the trick to preventing extreme hunger and making sure your metabolism’s revved up for most of the day.”

Beth Beauchemin, fitness director and a personal trainer at the TAC, agrees.

“Make sure you eat right after you exercise,” she says, “and make sure you don’t go into exercise with a completely empty stomach. You should be eating between one to two hours before you exercise.”

And that exercise can be as basic as running or jogging. “(Running’s) a huge help,” she says. “You’re going to burn more calories. And you lose weight by burning more calories than you take in.”