You don't have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of these weight loss tips

August 19, 2009


By Shaun Chavis
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So, you're looking for diet advice. Would an NFL player be the first person you turn to? For many women, probably not: There are a lot of stereotypes about how men eat and work out that many women wouldn't want to adopt. But the new book The All-Pro Diet: Lose Fat, Build Muscle, and Live Like a Champion ($26), coauthored by Kansas City Chiefs player Tony Gonzalez, isn't strictly for the boys.

Gonzalez's coauthor Mitzi Dulan, RD, a nutritionist for the Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals, says there's a lot for women in the book too. (And not just the warrior-type woman who lives for boot camp workouts.) I've known Mitzi as a colleague for a few years, and she's given me some invaluable encouragement in my own endeavors to shape up. Here, she discusses the weight-loss questions you want answered.

Why should the average busy woman pick up this book?

She should get this book because it will show her how to lose weight but still feel satisfied. She will learn how to gradually shift her diet to include some plant-based meals and discover the foods that might be sabotaging her weight-loss efforts.

Is there any advantage to approaching weight loss like an athlete (even if you're not)?

Yes, we give dieters simple ways to create big results. We are not striving for people to eat “perfectly.” We just want to teach them what changes they should make. Once they make the changes and feel great, they will see for themselves how much better they feel when following the principles of the All-Pro Diet.

You and Tony address the importance of protein and say that we aren’t getting enough. Your recommendation is nearly double the government recommendation—and that’s just for people who aren’t athletes. Why so much protein, and how does it relate to losing weight?

Protein has been shown to improve satiety. As a registered dietitian for more than 13 years, my clients who make sure they are eating a source of protein at each meal tell me they have less hunger throughout the day. It is also important for people losing weight to maintain muscle mass and a healthy immune system while losing weight.

Studies have shown that people who are active, as well as athletes, do require higher amounts of protein. The good news is, most people can tell an immediate difference when they make this change. When you go from a bagel and coffee for breakfast and a salad (without any added meat) for lunch to adding protein at every meal, you will feel a huge difference in energy levels and level of satisfaction.

Here’s the interesting thing about your approach to protein: You advocate more, but it’s not like we’re seeing sides of beef here. What are some of the other foods suggested in the diet?

Including plant-based sources of protein is a very important part of the All-Pro Diet, so we've tried to make it easy by showing you all the options. For some people, they should try some of the delicious recipes in the book using beans, lentils, and quinoa. You can really save money in this area as well. Eating fish, chicken, nuts, and seeds are some of the other sources of protein in the diet.

You also write about protein powder. Is that something an everyday woman should consider adding to her daily routine?

It provides an easy way to help boost protein intake to meet protein goals without adding a lot of additional calories. For example, you can add about 22 grams of protein for about 120 calories. For some of my clients who struggle to consume enough protein at breakfast, I will suggest a smoothie with a scoop of protein powder.

You and Tony also recommend avoiding artificial ingredients. Why is that important?

In general, we promote eating clean, real foods as close to nature as possible. When ingredient lists start getting long and you can’t pronounce the ingredients, that’s a hint that it doesn’t need to be consumed. When you buy single-ingredient foods like kiwi, avocado, honey, or quinoa, you know exactly what you are eating. Also, real foods are delicious, and, for a bonus, they help you avoid all the added sodium.

What about cost? This sounds like it could be an expensive diet.

By eating more plant-based foods and replacing some of the meat in your diet with plants and grains, you will definitely save money. You will also save when you do more cooking for yourself instead of eating out and buying lots of convenience foods. For fresh produce, you can save money by shopping at farmers’ markets where the farmers follow organic standards. Also, you can eat higher quality ingredients, but less of them—otherwise known as smaller portions! We don’t expect everyone to always buy organic, so we also list the most important foods to buy organic—foods that have the highest pesticide content when they're raised conventionally.

A lot of women are intimidated by strength training. What’s your take on women, strength training, and weight loss?

I absolutely think that all women should do strength training. One common myth that women have about strength training is that it will build big, bulky muscles; they are scared of losing their femininity. This will not happen, as we don’t have the same amount of hormones as men. Women should strength train because it helps to build metabolism-boosting muscle. It will help you gain strength, and is also very good for the bones. Finally, strength training does help with weight loss and weight control. You burn calories while you are training, and you are building muscle that will continue to burn calories long after your strength-training session ends.

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