Get Fit. Stay Healthy. Have Fun.

Brent Wilson, Registered DietitianAs the days get longer, sleeves disappear and the flip-flops enter the scene, it’s evident that summer is just around the corner! However, along with summer comes the dreaded bathing suit. Don’t worry though; here are some tips from a local expert to help tone up prior to putting on that bathing suit.

Brent Wilson, a registered dietitian at Integris, works in an outpatient setting and focuses on diabetes education and prevention, as well as weight management. In his teens, Wilson was eating way too much fast food, processed meats and sugary beverages and missing out on essential vitamins and minerals. He was unhealthy and dehydrated. At 18, when Wilson found out he had high blood pressure that required medication, a body mass index in the obese category, and diabetes not far behind, Wilson decided it was time to make a lifestyle change for the better.

“I found that eating real, wholesome foods, not only makes us look better, but most importantly, it makes us feel better,” said Wilson. “And who doesn’t want more energy?”

Change Your Lifestyle

While Wilson recommends a complete healthy lifestyle, and not just a quick weight loss for the summer months, he shares some tips that will help people get lean and feel confident before heading out in their bathing suit.

An easy option is to remember is to eat real foods. Foods that come from the earth—think fresh fruits and vegetables—are high in fiber and keep people full longer. Choose protein from sources like fish, eggs, nuts, chicken and beans. When someone bases their meals around vegetables, fruit and lean protein, they will quickly reach their health goals.

“As a nation we have become dependent on fast and convenient food—but unfortunately these are often filled with empty calories, saturated fat and sodium,” said Wilson.

People trying to lose weight should also keep a food log to hold themselves accountable and better understand their daily eating habits, and where they may get off track. Not only can writing it down help people resist that candy dish because they don’t want to note it, but they will also see how misguided they may be when it comes to portion size.

“Use phone apps to help you see the nutrition information in the food you eat every day, and consider the portion size,” said Wilson.

What to Eat

Brent Wilson, Registered DietitianSo what shouldn’t someone eat before hitting the beach? Wilson says two things immediately come to mind, simple carbohydrates and processed meats. Simple carbohydrates cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, initiating insulin production, which leads to weight gain and the development of Type 2 diabetes. Instead, focus on complex carbs like whole grains and fruits. It’s similarly time to say goodbye to processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage and bologna that are loaded with saturated fat and staggering amounts of sodium. These foods cause cholesterol and triglycerides to skyrocket and ultimately can lead to heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Wilson references author Michael Pollan in his quote “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” To lose weight, eat natural food from the earth, measure portions, keep a food log and eat mainly vegetables.

When looking to drop a few pounds, most people would be surprised to hear that eating snacks throughout the day actually helps one lose weight. Snacks can fuel metabolism as well as keep people from overeating at their next meal.  Wilson recommends snacks to have a source of protein and fiber, which will help people feel full longer. For example, eat fresh fruit paired with string cheese or a handful of nuts; 100% whole-wheat toast with peanut butter; or carrots and hummus.

Preparation is Key

The most common issue when people aren’t successful in their weight loss is lack of preparation. Not having healthy foods around the kitchen will cause people to choose fast and convenient foods, which are usually poor choices. Meal prepping can keep people focused and on track. Wilson suggests choosing one night a week to meal prep—clean produce, pack snacks and make a weeks’ worth of breakfast and lunches.

Generally, someone can determine how many calories they should consume in one day by multiplying their current weight by 11. This number is the calories needed to maintain current weight. If they want to lose weight, aim below that number and add some exercise!

“Stay positive, there will always be ups and downs. The most important thing is that you don’t let those slip-ups ruin your progress,” said Wilson. “Trust me, I know weight loss is tough, but you can do it!”

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