An Apple a Day
Published: Sunday, April 17, 2011
Updated: Sunday, April 17, 2011 22:04
Diet fads are more common than ants at a picnic these days.
It seems like every other day there is a new weight-loss infomercial promising dramatic results in no time. Take this pill and sit on the couch—fat will melt off! Buy my product and you'll be sure to drop 20 pounds overnight!
"I lost 42 pounds with Hydroxycut. It really works!" Brittany Dobrin said in one infomercial.
But what no one sees is the fine print on the bottom of the screen that reads: "Brittany used Hydroxycut with diet and exercise and was remunerated."
Furthermore, the Hydroxycut website says those participating in the study were put on a "calorie-reduced diet."
If I were being paid to lose weight with diet and exercise, I'd be sure to drop those pounds too. Unfortunately, I'm not.
These pills aren't the catalyst for change. It's the diet and exercise.
To lose or maintain a healthy weight, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests cutting back on calories and for females generally sticking to a 1,200 calorie per day plan. Men and women over 165 lbs. are allowed up to a 1,600 calorie per day plan.
Weight loss programs like Jenny Craig work on a calorie-counting plan. The plans are personalized to members first by assessing their current body mass index and then determining the optimal plan for weight loss based on calorie intake.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), using BMI as an indicator of body fat should be the first step in determining how to live a healthier lifestyle. By understanding your BMI, you can create a specific calorie diet to maintain your weight, to lose weight or to gain weight.
The CDC standard explains that BMI is determined by a height to weight ratio. Those with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 have a normal weight status. Anyone with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered to be overweight. And those with a BMI over 30 are obese. While measuring BMI works for most, it doesn't factor in body fat in the elderly, who have muscle loss, or in athletes, who often have a more muscular build.
But the average college student doesn't have the time or the cash flow, to join Weight Watchers or have deliveries of Nutrisystem sent to them.
Instead, we're left on a limb to find the healthiest options at the dining hall or cook for ourselves. And let's face it, buying fresh produce gets expensive.
So, like all good techies, we head straight for our smart phones. There's an app for everything, right?
Well, as a matter of fact, there is.
Lose It! is the free weight loss app for iPhone users. It works from a daily calorie budget and keeps track of calories eaten and burned. It features a database of restaurants and brand name foods for easy logging.
CardioTrainer is the Android-only app that uses GPS technology to track fitness information and features a pedometer. Additionally, it shows you how many calories you've burned and gives a food example of how many calories it is.
IMapMy is the free tracking app that records workouts with an interactive map. The app is able to sync to a heart-rate monitor for a more specific burned calorie count and also syncs with the MapMyFitness website.
While tech gadgets and smart phone apps can help with the number crunching, it doesn't mean they comprehend serving sizes or calories that don't come from pre-packaged, labeled foods.
The iPhone app Meal Snap determines the calorie details in foods after you upload a picture of the meal. The $2.99 app uses advanced technology to determine all the ingredients for an idea of how many calories are in the meal, but some users say the app fails to identify all the foods correctly.
Even with the help of smart phone apps, it's good to have an idea of food portions for one serving.
Eat This, Not That, the bestselling book series, says one serving of spaghetti, or a half-cup, is the same size as a fist and equivalent to 99 calories. A half-cup of ice cream, 143 calories, is about the size of a tennis ball. And 3 ounces of beef, 219 calories, is the same size as a deck of cards.
Check out more iPhone apps for a healthy body during your college years.