By Charlyn Fargo
The news is in. We managed to gain 2 pounds a month during our shelter-in-place quarantine. That’s according to a new study published in JAMA. Overall, that’s where the extra 20 pounds registering on our scale comes from. Just blame COVID-19.
So, we’re already getting older and exercising less, and now we need to buy a new size of pants.
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Study author Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist at the University of California, and colleagues analyzed 7,444 weight measurements from 269 people in 37 states who voluntarily used Bluetooth-connected scales (Fitbit or iHealth) from Feb. 1 to June 1 of 2020. They found participants (enrolled in the Health eHeart Study) had a steady weight gain of more than half a pound every 10 days, or about 1.5 to 2 pounds a month.
They also found that many of the participants were losing weight before COVID-19 hit.
Here’s the good news: You’re never too old to lose weight. In a study published recently in Clinical Endocrinology, a group of randomly selected individuals with obesity attending a hospital-based weight loss program lost weight whether they were 60 and over or younger than 60. Both groups were given dietary and psychological support to make lifestyle changes. And both age groups lost around 7% of their body weight.
My best tips for losing those COVID-19 pounds? Start tracking your calories. Write it down, or use an app on your phone. There are lots of good ones, such as MyFitnessPal, Lose It! and Fitbit. Choose one you like, and use it every day. Tracking calories is like keeping track of your bank account. You don’t know what you have to spend — whether it’s calories or money — unless you keep track.
And second, exercise daily. It takes a lot of exercise to lose a pound, but the value is in the mental state it puts you in. You think twice about that bowl of ice cream at night if you know it will make your workout harder in the morning. More important, exercise makes you feel good, from the endorphins you get to your joints and that general feeling of wellness.
Q and A
Q: Can you eat less red meat and still make a difference in your heart disease risk?
A: Absolutely. A study published recently in the BMJ, a medical trade journal of the British Medical Association, found that eating either processed or unprocessed red meat was associated with higher risk of heart disease in American men. However, just one serving a day of healthy protein-containing plant foods (think oatmeal or quinoa) was associated with lower risk of heart disease. The study found men over 65 had the greatest benefit from the switch. Unprocessed red meat includes fresh beef, pork, lamb and venison. Processed red meat includes deli meats, bacon, ham, sausage and jerky. Substitute beans, lentils, nuts, soy products and quinoa or other whole grains for just one serving of meat a day to make a difference. It can be as easy as skipping breakfast meats in favor of yogurt, oatmeal or cottage cheese.
Spring is when I think of adding more veggies to my meals. And I’ve found a great way to do that is in a stir-fry. Here’s a recipe for an Asian Stir-Fry, adapted from the Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Dummies.
ASIAN CHICKEN STIR-FRY
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
6-8 large Brussels sprouts, quartered
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon raspberry preserves
Saute chicken, scallions and olive oil in large skillet or wok until chicken begins to look cooked through. Add zucchini, squash and peppers, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add remaining vegetables, water, sauces and raspberry preserves. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, allowing flavors to marry. Serve on its own or with brown rice.
Per serving: 440 calories; 52 grams protein; 20 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 143 milligrams cholesterol; 5 grams fiber, 345 milligrams sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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