Category Archives: bulky foods

Six foods for a happy belly

by PF Louis 

(NaturalNews) What is a happy belly? Well, an unhappy belly will produce flatulence, bloating, nausea, cramps, and so called heartburn. You should be able to digest foods without any hassles, providing you don’t overeat. That’s a happy belly.

Considering that digestion begins in the mouth, it’s wise to chew your food thoroughly. In addition to reducing the food into smaller, easier to digest pieces, the saliva from chewing produces more digestive enzymes early in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

It’s also important to take your time and relax while eating. Rushed eating while stressed or hassled in any way will result in digestive stress that can create a very unhappy belly while depriving you of the food’s nutritional value.

Foods and beverages to help your belly’s happiness

As usual, organic food sources are the best choices. If you can purchase reliably clean raw milk for milk kefir, do so. Always use purified fluoride-free water.

Reverse osmosis is the best accessible system. Stations are available for filling containers in larger food markets. Make sure to re-mineralize with sea salt or some other mineral solution.

(1) Fermented foods provide probiotics that aid digestion and more. Having an intestinal flora microbial balance of 80 percent to 20 percent healthy bacteria to pathogenic bacteria is vital for even more than good digestion. It’s an important part of our immune system.

Without a well balanced intestinal flora stocked heavily with an abundance of healthy bacteria, Candida overgrowth is given a nice breeding ground. (

Fermented foods include sauerkraut, yogurt (unflavored and unsweetened) kimchi, miso, pickles, and tempeh or fermented soy, which is the only soy that’s consumable without digestive issues.

You can always add good honey or maple syrup to plain yogurts. Yes, you can make your own sauerkraut. (

If you can get a good sourdough bread baked with sprouted grains without using bromide, that’s good for making your belly happy too. Sourdough is fermented. Sprouted grains reduce gluten’s harmful effects. Bromides block the enzyme that helps your thyroid produce adequate hormones for metabolism.

(2) Probiotic beverages can be as potent as some probiotic supplements, and a lot cheaper. Kombucha is a popular item that offers the same probiotic potential as fermented foods. Even more powerful are water and milk kefirs. You need starter grains specific to either purified water or milk, best to find raw milk.

Then you can make your own. (

A woman who cured her really bad case of colitis with milk kefir showed this author how to make it. She didn’t even use raw milk, which is recommended. Here’s a good source for milk kefir starter grains with excellent instructions. (

There are also several DIY kefir YouTube videos online.

(3) Prebiotic foods are essential for helping the healthy bacteria from probiotics flourish. They don’t contain healthy probiotic bacteria, but they provide the food energy to help probiotics maintain a GI tract stronghold.

Bananas, berries, artichokes, garlic, honey, legumes (beans) and whole grains such as brown rice are good prebiotic food sources.

(4) Apple cider vinegar is regarded as an excellent digestive aid by many alternative practitioners and nutritionists, but not so much by MDs and mainstream dieticians.

Us an apple cider vinegar that has not been pasteurized or filtered for best results. Before each meal, one or two tablespoons downed in a half glass of water can be beneficial. Water with meals should be room temperature for optimum digestion.

(5) When your stomach becomes unhappy, stay away from the Tums and try something healthier. Ginger root is one such choice. Only a few dare chew on a ginger root. It’s usually converted into a tea by peeling the root and cutting it into thin slices.

Make enough thin slices to cover the bottom of a pan, fill the pan with good non-fluoridated water from reverse osmosis. Simmer for 30 minutes after boiling. It can be refrigerated for several days. Ginger has been known to remedy queasy or cramping stomachs, and it’s good for general inflammation as well.

(6)The king of natural GI tract and stomach disorders is Aloe vera juice. Aloe vera juice needs to be shopped wisely. The cheap adulterated ones with preservatives or pasteurized stuff won’t cut it. Get only pure, whole unpasteurized aloe vera juice. Yes it’s pricier, but worth it.

Stomach ulcer sufferers swear by it. There have been many, many reports of Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease sufferers curing themselves with aloe vera juice, as well as some experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

With a disease as intense as Celiac, Crohn’s or IBS, it takes several days to a few weeks of daily use to get results. (

Pure aloe vera juice has many, many other curative capabilities and health benefits. It has been clinically tested successfully on AIDS and cancer patients. (

10 Forgotten Muscle Building Foods

Ahh, the lean bulking diet; say what you want about the merits of trying to add pounds of muscle without adding a single ounce of extra bodyfat, but as a nutritional consultant I can tell you one thing: some of these lean bulking diets are the most meticulous and repetitive things the world has ever seen.
Now, I’m all for having a food preparation routine; it makes things simple and convenient, and it’s much easier to track results and avoid falling off the wagon when you know exactly what you’re eating at every meal.
The problem with this is, guys get stuck in such a routine that they don’t have any variety, and may even be missing out on a lot of nutrients–not to mention calories–that can contribute to their health and growth.
As bodybuilding friendly as it may appear to be, a diet based on egg whites, chicken breasts, brown rice and broccoli does not meet your needs, I can assure you of that. While it may be a “clean” diet, it is most certainly not an optimal one.
Bodybuilders weren’t always this damn boring. There are many foods that old-school lifters used to swear by for gaining mass that their contemporaries seem to have forgotten or cast aside, mainly due to piss-poor nutrition recommendations and a foolish fear of saturated fat.
Today, I’m going to revive some of those foods, with the hope it inspires you to make some changes in your own diet; changes that could result in you adding some mass that may have eluded you on your ultra “clean” diet.

Full Fat Grass-fed Dairy

While I’m definitely not a big fan of conventional dairy due to poor production, poor quality, loss of important fatty acids, and high estrogen content, dairy from pasture-raised grass-fed cows is an entirely different animal.
Since these cows are actually allowed to eat what they were designed to eat, their milk quality is vastly superior — containing more actual nutrition like vitamin A, vitamin K (in the more powerful form of K2), omega-3’s, and CLA. In fact, grass-fed cows have been found to contain up to 500% more CLA than their conventionally fed brethren!
Now you’ll also notice that all of those compounds are either fatty acids or fat-soluble vitamins. That’s right, many of the benefits of dairy come from its fat content, regardless of the fact that it is mainly saturated.
Scoff all you want, but these are incredibly important differences. CLA has been shown to be a powerful ally in the fight against cancer, and has been found to greatly reduce tumor growth in animals, and possibly in humans as well.
In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet had a 60% lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Simply switching from conventionally raised grain-fed meat and dairy to pasture-raised grass-fed versions would have placed all the women in the lowest risk category.
The best part may be vitamin K (in the form of K2-MK4). Several studies have found that a higher vitamin K2 intake is associated with a lower risk of heart attack, ischemic stroke, cancer incidence, cancer mortality and overall mortality. Men with the highest vitamin K2 consumption had a 51% lower risk of heart attack mortality and a 26% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to men consuming the lowest amount!
One of the ways vitamin K2 improves cardiovascular health is its ability to decrease arterial calcification by 30-40%. And this only speaks to vitamin K2’s effects of cardiovascular health; it’s also crucially important for proper fetal development and bone health, to name a few additional benefits.
One final note that I think will speak to many of you, beyond the health benefits —muscular growth. Researchers compared skim milk to whole milk in the post-training period, to see which would produce greater anabolic effects. They pitted 14oz of skim milk against 8oz of whole milk, to make them calorically equal. Theoretically, the results should be even or in the favor of skim milk, since it had six more grams of protein. The research showed that whole milk was more effective than skim, despite lesser protein content and equal total calories. Another notch in favor of whole-fat over fat-free.
So, for those of you busting your ass to gain some size, why in the world would you choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options? You’re trying to sneak calories into your diet, not out of it! Full-fat versions, especially from grass-fed cows, are vastly superior for health, and for growth.
There are several companies that are available nationwide that provide high quality milk from grass-fed cows, like Organic Valley and Whole Foods 365 brand. To find about a company near you, or to see if your current organic milk stacks up, check out this report from the Cornucopia Institute.
While I’ve gone to great lengths to trumpet the value of full-fat, grass-fed dairy in general, here are some specific food recommendations:

Whole milk

Whole milk used to be a staple of the old-school bodybuilding crowd, and was successfully used by innumerable men in the quest for more mass. It provides a lot of easily consumed calories, a nice blend of whey and casein, as well as a good dose of electrolytes — calcium, potassium, magnesium and some sodium. It also offers a good source of vitamin A, vitamin D, and a few B vitamins to boot.

Full fat cheeses — Cheddar, Cottage, etc.

These are also very high in calories, especially cheddar cheese. Cheddar cheese is one of the best sources of vitamin K2 due to the fermentation process, as well as providing relatively even amounts of protein and fat without any carbs. Cottage cheese is an incredible source of protein, and the full-fat versions are again more calorie dense.


Cream, especially the heavy whipping kind, is extraordinarily calorie dense. This can be a great addition to smoothies as it improves mouth-feel, flavor, and just provides a ton of calories.

Misunderstood Carbs

There are many fantastic carbohydrate sources out there that seem to have fallen off most bodybuilder’s radars. Two perfect examples are potatoes, replaced by sweet potatoes, and wild rice, replaced by brown.
Now those replacements are fine foods, but are they really any better than the foods they’re substituted for? Not really.

White Potatoes

White potatoes have gotten a bad rap recently, mainly due to their high glycemic index, which is higher than the more celebrated sweet potato. But really, who cares? You aren’t eating a white potato all by its lonesome, so that T-bone and steamed veggies with it, along with the pastured butter inside it, will slow its digestion anyway, making that point rather irrelevant.
All the talk about garbage white potatoes and saintly sweet potatoes has been taken a little far. Sweet potatoes are awesome, but white potatoes have more iron, magnesium and potassium than sweet potatoes, and they’re one of the most satiating foods on the planet.
They pack a lot of calories into a small package, were a staple of the old-school crowd, and have helped thousands of lifters pack on some serious mass. They’re also a good source of 12 vitamins and minerals, and provide 7 g of both fiber and complete protein in each large one.

Wild Rice

Wild rice has become a barely spoken word in bodybuilding and even health-conscious circles these days. Is brown rice actually any better? They’re both good sources of 8 vitamins and minerals; wild has 3 g of fiber and 7 g of protein in 1 cooked cup, while brown has 4 g of fiber and 5 g of protein. Does anybody see a significant difference there? I would say wild is every bit as good, plus offers a nice change to the palate for your much-neglected taste buds. And really, did a little variety ever hurt anyone?

Old School Protein

Be honest, how much do you really enjoy eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts multiple meals per day, every day? While a fine food, there are so many other great protein sources out there that have been largely forgotten with the explosion in consumption of said chicken breasts.
These sources have micronutrients, fatty acids, and more that chicken breasts don’t have, and they just bring some more flavor and variety, as well as calories to help spur growth. You might even enjoy eating meat again.

Whole Chicken

Many old-school bodybuilders used to absolutely crush whole chickens. Whole chickens, whole milk, and potatoes were the name of the game, and they certainly worked. So why do we just eat plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts today?
I’ll grant you that they’re very convenient, easy to prepare, go with just about anything, and can last for several days precooked in the fridge (or up to a week for the more daring). But in terms of price per calorie, whole chickens are crazy cheap, provide more total calories and taste loads better. What’s not to love?


Breasts, thighs or the whole damn thing. Turkey is a vastly underappreciated meat that arrives in spades come Thanksgiving, but then goes virtually unnoticed the rest of the year. Turkey is a fantastic protein source, a good source of 11 vitamins and minerals, including being an excellent source of the cancer-fighting selenium. Plus, it’s just a nice change of pace from eating chicken all the damn time.


Tuna was once a dietary staple, though it seems to have gone the way of the dodo lately. No one talks about it, and even less seem to eat it. It’s no longer the pretty girl at the dance, having been replaced by the sexier salmon. Though salmon does have more omega-3’s, and that powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, tuna is no slouch.
It’s a better protein source, contains over 1 gram of omega-3’s per can (amount varies by type), and is a good source of 7 vitamins and minerals. It’s also an incredible source of selenium, containing over 3 times the amount in turkey! Finally, it’s one of the absolute cheapest protein sources around, though I would recommend the light variety, due to the marked decrease in its mercury content.

Whole eggs

Eggs do seem to be making a comeback of late, but I can’t tell you how many guys I know who are trying to gain weight and are still knocking back cartons of egg whites. Two whole eggs with six egg whites don’t even come close to the caloric or nutritional powerhouse of five whole eggs.
Whole eggs contain the brain-boosting and anti-inflammatory choline, lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health, vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, iodine for proper thyroid function and more. Whole eggs are one of nature’s greatest foods, so why are you only eating the damn whites? If you still think that saturated fat and cholesterol contribute to heart disease — wait, no one still really believes that, do they?
If you can get access to pasture-raised eggs, their nutrient content is vastly superior, with 4-6 times the vitamin D content, 3 times the omega-3 content, and 8 times the beta-carotene content.

Pork Chops

Pork chops were something I remember growing up with, and yet they seem to have largely disappeared from the American Diet, probably due to the late 80’s/early 90’s fear of fat. While pork chops do contain more fat than chicken or turkey, again, who cares? The majority of the fat is in the form of the monounsaturated oleic acid, just like in olive oil, and they’re a good source of 10 vitamins and minerals.
Chops are also an excellent source of several B vitamins, as well as the brain-boosting and anti-inflammatory choline. Plus they’re tasty, which isn’t a crime, no matter what the guys eating six meals a day out of Tupperware might tell you.

Off To The Grocery Store

Consistency is key to any successful bodybuilding plan, but that doesn’t mean you should try to live off of a mere dozen or so “clean” foods. There are plenty of tasty, nutritious foods that can help you pack in some serious calories and nutrients while providing some much-needed variety to your palate.
Chicken breasts, brown rice, broccoli, and egg whites are all fine foods, but they aren’t your only choices — and especially not day in, day out. Give some of these forgotten foods a shot; what have you got to lose?

Leheska JM, Thompson LD, Howe JC, et al.  Effects of conventional and grass-feeding systems on the nutrient composition of beef.  J Anim Sci. 2008 Dec;86(12):3575-85.
Ponnampalam EN, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ.  Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health.  Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):21-9.
Dhiman TR, Anand GR, et al.  Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.  J Dairy Sci.  1999;82(10):2146-56.
Aro A, Mannisto S, Salminen I, et al.  Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women.  2000;38(2): 151-157.
Elwood PC, Strain JJ, Robson PJ, et al.  Milk consumption, stroke, and heart attack risk: evidence from the Caerphilly cohort of older men.  J Epidemiol Community Health.  2005;59:502-505
Elwood PC, Pickering JE, Hughes J, Fehily AM, Ness AR.  Milk drinking, ischaemic heart disease and ischaemic stroke II. Evidence from cohort studies.  Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;58(5):718-24.
Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al.  Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study.  J Nutr.  2004 Nov;134:3100-3105.
Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, et al.  A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease.  Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis.  2009 Sep;19(7):504-10.
Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Kaaks R, Linseisen J.  Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg).  Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1348-58.
Spronk HM, Soute BA, Schurgers LJ, et al.  Tissue-specific utilization of menaquinone-4 results in the prevention of arterial calcification in warfarin-treated rats.  J Vasc Res. 2003 Nov-Dec;40(6):531-7.
Elliot TA, Cree MG, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR, Tipton KD.  Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Apr;38(4):667-74.
Pork chops are a tasty alternative to the chicken-fish-beef trifecta.

Pork chops are a tasty alternative to the chicken-fish-beef trifecta.

Commercial dairy may be suspect, but full fat, grass fed dairy should    be a bodybuilding staple.

Commercial dairy may be suspect, but full fat, grass fed dairy should be a bodybuilding staple.

A lean, powerful physique requires a variety of nutrient-dense food.

A lean, powerful physique requires a variety of nutrient-dense food.

Full fat (grass fed) milk has more muscle building bang for the buck    than fat free versions.

Full fat (grass fed) milk has more muscle building bang for the buck than fat free versions.

A classic turkey shot!

A classic turkey shot!
About the Author

Brian St. Pierre

Brian St. Pierre is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He received his degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a focus in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the same institution. He was the Nutritionist and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA for 3 years. He is also the author of the Show and Go Nutrition Guide, the accompanying nutrition manual to Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training System.
With his passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. For more information you can check out his website.

© 1998 — 2010 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


11 Secrets the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

We’ve uncovered the truth about the products that line your supermarket’s shelves.

And what we found might just surprise you.

If you want some insight into the food industry, take a stroll through your grocery store’s candy aisle. There, on the labels of such products as Mike and Ike and Good & Plenty, you’ll find what perhaps is a surprising claim: “Fat free.” However, it’s completely true-these empty-calorie junk foods are almost 100 percent sugar and processed carbs.

You see, food manufacturers think you’re stupid. In fact, their marketing strategies rely on it. For instance, it may be that the aforementioned candy makers are hoping you’ll equate “fat free” with “healthy” or “nonfattening”-so that you forget about all the sugar these products contain. It’s a classic bait and switch.

And the candy aisle is just the start. That’s why we’ve scoured the supermarket to find the secrets that food industry insiders don’t want you to know. The very ones that deep-pocketed manufacturers use to prey on your expectations, your wallet, and most important, your health. Call it the Eat This, Not That! crib sheet for helping you to beat Big Food at its own game-and eat healthier for life.

Keebler Doesn’t Want You to Know
. . . that Numbers Can Be Deceiving

On the front of a box of Reduced Fat Club Crackers-in large yellow letters-you’ll find the claim, “33% Less Fat Than Original Club Crackers.” Their math is accurate: The original product contains 3 grams of fat per serving (per 4 crackers), while the reduced-fat version has 2 grams (per 5 crackers). So statistically, it’s a 33 percent difference, but is it meaningful? And why doesn’t Keebler tout that their reduced-fat crackers have 33 percent more carbs than the original?

Maybe they simply don’t want you to know that when they took out 1 gram of fat, they replaced it with 3 grams of refined flour and sugar.

Beverage Makers Don’t Want You to Know
. . . that Some Bottled Green Tea May Not Be as Healthy as You Think

We commissioned ChromaDex laboratories to analyze 14 different bottled green teas for their levels of disease-fighting catechins. While Honest Tea Green Tea with Honey topped the charts with an impressive 215 milligrams of total catechins, some products weren’t even in the game. For instance, Republic of Tea Pomegranate Green Tea had only 8 milligrams, and Ito En Teas’ Tea Lemongrass Green had just 28 milligrams, despite implying on its label that the product is packed with antioxidants.

Food Companies Don’t Want You to Know
. . . that Your Food Can Legally Contain Maggots

Sure, the FDA limits the amount of rodent droppings and other appetite killers in your food, but unfortunately that limit isn’t zero. The regulations below aren’t harmful to your health-but we can’t promise that the thought of them won’t make you sick.

Kellogg’s Doesn’t Want You to Know
. . . the Truth about Cornflakes

Case in point: They’ve placed a “Diabetes Friendly” logo on the box’s side panel. Never mind that Australian researchers have shown that cornflakes raise blood glucose faster and to a greater extent than straight table sugar. (High blood glucose is the primary symptom of diabetes.) The cereal maker does provide a link to its Web site, where nutrition recommendations are provided for people with diabetes.

Quaker Doesn’t Want You to Know
. . . that a Bowl of Some of Their “Heart-Healthy” Hot Cereals Has More Sugar than the Same Serving Size of Froot Loops

One example: Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal. Sure, the company proudly displays the American Heart Association (AHA) check mark on the product’s box.

However, the fine print next to the logo simply reads that the food meets AHA’s “food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol.” So it could have a pound of sugar and still qualify. But guess what? Froot Loops meets the AHA’s criteria, too, only no logo is displayed.

The Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
. . . that Food Additives May Make Your Kids Misbehave

Researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK found that artificial food coloring and sodium benzoate preservatives are directly linked to increased hyperactivity in children. The additives included Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Red #40, and sodium benzoate, which are commonly found in packaged foods in the United States, but the researchers don’t know if it’s a combination of the chemicals or if there’s a single one that’s the primary culprit. You can find Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 in Lucky Charms and sodium benzoate in some diet sodas, pickles, and jellies.

Land O’Lakes Doesn’t Want You to Know
. . . that There’s No Such Thing as “Fat-Free” Half-and-Half

By definition, a half-and-half dairy product is 50 percent milk and 50 percent cream. Cream, of course, is pretty much all fat. So, technically, Fat Free Half & Half can’t exist. What exactly is it? Skim milk–to which a thickening agent and an artificial cream flavor have been added. You may be disappointed in the payoff: 1 tablespoon of traditional half-and-half contains just 20 calories; the fat-free version has 10.

The Meat Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
. . . that the Leanest Cuts May Have the Highest Sodium Levels

Leaner cuts by definition are less juicy. To counteract this dried-out effect, some manufacturers “enhance” turkey, chicken, and beef products by pumping them full of a liquid solution that contains water, salt, and other nutrients that help preserve it. This practice can dramatically boost the meat’s sodium level. For example, a 4-ounce serving of Shady Brook Farms Fresh Boneless Turkey Breast Tenderloin that’s enhanced by a 6 percent solution contains 55 mg sodium. But the same-size serving of Jennie-O Turkey Breast Tenderloin Roast Turkey, which is enhanced by up to 30 percent, packs 840 mg-more than one-third of your recommended daily value.

Supermarkets Don’t Want You to Know
. . . that Long Lines Will Make You Buy More

If you’re stuck in a long checkout line, you’ll be up to 25 percent more likely to buy the candy and sodas around you, according to a recent study at the University of Arizona. Psychologists have found that the more exposure someone has to temptation, the more likely it is that he’ll succumb to it. This may also help explain why supermarkets lay out their stores so that the common staples-such as milk, bread, and eggs-are at the very back, forcing you to run the gauntlet of culinary temptation.

Food Companies Also Don’t Want You to Know
. . . that Their Calorie Counts May Be Wrong

That’s because in order to make sure you’re getting at least as much as you pay for, the FDA is more likely to penalize a food manufacturer for overstating the net weight of a product than understating it. As a result, manufacturers often either “generously” package more food than the stated net weight or make servings heavier than the stated serving size weight. With an ordinary food scale, we put a range of products to the test by checking the actual net weight and serving size weight. Sure enough, we found that a number of popular products are heavier than the package says. And that means you may be eating more calories than you think

The Food Industry Also Don’t Want You to Know
. . . that Companies Must Pay to Be an American Heart Association-Certified Food

That’s why the AHA logo might appear on some products but is absent from others-even when both meet the guidelines.


The Secrets of Thin People

How they get there, how they stay there.

by Lorie Parch

Various fitness aids

Sang An

Thin people favor bulky foods.

Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, has done extensive research on “calorie density,” or the ratio of calories to the weight of food.

Simply put, foods with a high water content―fruits, vegetables, water-based soups and stews, and cooked whole grains―are low in calories but satiating. Most also contain lots of fiber (an apple has three grams; one cup of cooked barley has six), which fills you up.

Whether consciously or not, many thin people follow the strategy of starting out with a sizable soup or salad, which leads them to eat less for the rest of the meal. One Rolls-led study found that subjects who began a meal with a low-calorie salad―about 100 calories for three cups―were more likely to eat fewer total calories. “It subtracted about 12 percent of the calories from the meal,” she says. Foods with a lot of water, she adds, “can help you perceive that you’ve eaten more.” Drinking water with a meal, Rolls has found, doesn’t have the same effect.

Thin people watch portion sizes.

No, most thin individuals don’t travel with a food scale and measuring cups or demand fat-gram counts from waiters.

But to keep an eye on what they eat without being obsessive, many focus on filling their plates with mostly fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. “No one ever got fat from a grilled shrimp,” says Stephen Gullo, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of The Thin Commandments Diet (Rodale, $25,

They also use strategies such as buying just a single serving’s worth of food, eating portion-controlled frozen meals, passing up gargantuan-portion family-style restaurants, and using smaller-than-normal plates.

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), an ongoing study of how more than 5,000 people keep off the weight they’ve lost long-term, has found that successful weight maintainers tend to eat five small meals a day rather than three squares, which may make it easier to scale down portions.



Thin people can put themselves first.

For five years, Anne Fletcher, a registered dietitian and the author of Thin for Life (Houghton Mifflin, $15,, worked in an obesity clinic. “So often the women I saw were people who refused to take time for themselves,” she recalls. “Their whole lives were spent giving, giving, giving―which women tend to do anyway, but it was really to a fault. Sometimes you need to put yourself first.”

Thin women prioritize eating right, exercising regularly, and reducing stress―all of which are conducive to staying slim. Fletcher confesses to missing the occasional Little League game to work out but contends that such behavior shouldn’t induce guilt. Rather, it’s about taking care of yourself.

“When people take the reins, they realize that the solution to weight control is inside them, not in some magic potion or fad diet that their mother or sister is on.”

Thin people have thin parents.

And genes are only partially responsible.

“Perhaps 30 percent of being thin is genetic―the rest is environment,” says James O. Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in Denver, and cofounder of the NWCR. If you’re raised playing sports and eating healthy, unprocessed foods, chances are you’ll continue those habits into adulthood, significantly raising your odds of staying slim.

Holly Johnson, age 45, a co-owner of a Sarasota, Florida–based marketing and public-relations firm and the mother of an eight-year-old, describes her father as a “beanpole” and says her mother still weighs “within three pounds of what she did when she married my dad.”

But while genetics were clearly in her favor, Johnson credits healthful home-cooked meals for creating a model of good eating that helps her maintain her weight. “We always had breakfast and dinner together,” she says. “I was brought up with family meals, and now my family sits down every night and lights candles. Dining and healthy eating are important to me.”

Thin people don’t skip meals.

Slender people don’t drop everything to eat the minute their stomach starts to rumble, but they don’t let themselves get famished, either.

“In my work with over 15,000 patients, the number one behavior that leads people to lose control is skipping meals,” psychologist Stephen Gullo says. Why? Being ravenous makes you much less likely to control impulses to overeat.

Alice O’Neill, a trim 40-year-old playwright in Brooklyn, is quite familiar with this phenomenon. “Skipping meals can be deadly for me, because I do get really hungry and I don’t bear the pain of hunger well,” she says. “And if I’m hungry, I’ll eat anything, and too much of it. Sometimes I use hunger as an excuse to eat things that aren’t good for me, like pizza and French fries.”

Thin people limit their options.

While everyone needs a variety of foods for optimal nutrition, professor of nutrition Barbara Rolls’s research shows that the more types of food we have available, the more we tend to eat. It’s related to what’s called “sensory-specific satiety”―meaning our stomachs and appetites will cry “Uncle!” after we eat a lot of pasta, but if dessert is pie à la mode, suddenly we’ll find just enough room to partake.

“What happens during a meal of many different foods or courses is that we experience satiety for each food as we eat it,” says Rolls, who is also the author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (HarperCollins, $26, “But we are still ‘hungry’ for foods we haven’t eaten yet, particularly those that have different tastes, aromas, shapes, textures, and other sensory properties.”

Still, Rolls would never recommend severely limiting the number or types of food in an effort to stay slim. “People should increase the variety of low-calorie-dense foods they eat―such as vegetables, fruit, and soup―to get the nutrients they need,” she says.

Thin people live in Colorado.

OK, so there are thin people outside Colorado. But there must be something the Centennial State knows: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado has the highest percentage of people with a normal weight (meaning neither overweight nor obese) in the nation.

And why are there fewer fat Coloradans? “My take is that, traditionally, Colorado has attracted people who value outdoor living and health and wellness more,” says James O. Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in Denver, who has lived there for 14 years. “People will take off every Friday because they go to the mountains. They’re willing to prioritize health and wellness.”

The state has the country’s largest system of city parks, more than 3 million acres of national parks and forests, 10 major ski resorts, and 400 mountain-biking trails. In addition, 20 percent of Coloradans belong to health clubs―the second-highest percentage in the United States. (Delaware has the highest.) Colorado’s weather also helps. Says Hill: “We have 300-plus days each year when it’s nice to be outside.”

Thin people don’t sit still.

At the Endocrine Research Unit of the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, a study of 20 self-proclaimed couch potatoes―half of whom were lean, half mildly obese―revealed that the thin volunteers were more likely to stand, walk, and fidget. The researchers noted that the obese participants sat, on average, more than two hours longer every day than the lean ones did.

“If the obese subjects took on the activity levels of the lean volunteers, they could burn through about 350 calories more a day without working out,” says endocrinologist James Levine, the lead author of the study. “Over a year, this alone could result in a weight loss of approximately 30 pounds, if calorie intake remained the same.”

Simply moving around more, taking walks during the workday, and parking your car at the far end of the parking lot can burn many calories. But regular exercise is important, too. “Ninety percent of people who maintain their weight are exercising in a way that’s the equivalent of walking four miles a day,” says registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer, the author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet (McGraw-Hill, $17,

Johnson, for instance, does “some yoga stretching and light weights in the morning.” Then, she says, “I combine a run with walking my son to the bus. I’ll usually get some aerobic exercise every day.”

Regular workouts have another dividend: “Exercise makes you more aware of your body,” psychologist Stephen Gullo says. “You’re less likely to eat the chocolate cake that you know will take hours to burn off on the treadmill.”

Thin people weigh themselves.

For years diet experts discouraged stepping on the scale to keep weight in check. Yet one of the findings of the NWCR is that slim people do weigh themselves regularly. Not obsessively, not agonizing down to the ounce, but at least a couple of times a week. “At the first sign of weight gain, they go right back to their weight-loss plan,” says registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer.

Anne Fletcher, also a registered dietitian, says of the weight maintainers she’s interviewed over the years, “Most have found that it’s easier to manage their weight if they don’t allow themselves to go over their goal.”

Holly Johnson, age 45, a co-owner of a Sarasota, Florida–based marketing and public-relations firm and the mother of an eight-year-old, confirms their findings. She always knows whether she’s in her preferred range of 105 to 113, because she weighs herself about twice a week. “If the scale starts creeping up to the higher end or I feel that things are starting to get out of control,” she says, “I cut back on starchy carbs and dessert.”

Thin people don’t skip breakfast.

You’ve heard it ad nauseam: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s also a way to stay svelte.

A 2002 study of nearly 3,000 NWCR participants found that 78 percent ate breakfast every day; just 4 percent said they never ate breakfast. (The registry also found that people who don’t eat breakfast have caloric intakes similar to those who do, meaning the skippers make up the calories later.)

A recent study of breakfast eaters in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association backed up other findings that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t.

Thin people enjoy their food.

It’s tempting to think that one of the reasons thin people stay that way is that they simply aren’t “foodies.” Not true, psychologist Stephen Gullo says. “Naturally thin people enjoy their food every bit as much as overweight people do,” he says. “In fact, many enjoy it more, because they eat without self-reproach.”

Feelings of guilt, or believing that everyone is watching what you’re eating (and thinking you shouldn’t be having that hot-fudge sundae), interfere with enjoyment. “Thin people are selective gourmets,” Gullo says. “Our bodies have a budget, like our checkbook. We should ‘spend’ on what we eat selectively, not compulsively.”

Thin people practice early intervention.

“A large number of the people who seem to be ‘naturally’ thin have evolved their own strategies for staying that way,” psychologist Stephen Gullo says. They have to, because thin people do gain weight. But they take action when the numbers on the scale creep up or their pants become hard to button.Their response usually involves a combination of exercise and dietary changes.

Carla Matthews, a 38-year-old stay-at-home mother of two in Newport Beach, California, says that when she goes over her upper limit of 130 pounds, she cuts out dessert and wine, drinks more water, and rides her exercise bike three times a week instead of once (in addition to doing Pilates twice a week). “I also tend to eat more salads and do my ‘halves’ routine, where I only eat half of whatever I would normally,” she says. “After 7 to 10 days, my weight is usually back in the comfort zone.”

Understanding what causes you to put on pounds can go a long way toward preventing them. “Thin people know they need to either limit exposure to certain foods that trigger appetite or limit the quantity or frequency of those foods,” says Gullo, whose personal kryptonite is pizza. “Or, if they can’t do any of those, they ban the food completely.”

Anne Casher, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mother of two in Wilton, Connecticut, has learned to steer clear of her enemy: “I decided not to keep ice cream or cookies in the house,” she says, “because if there are some really good chocolate-chip cookies in the drawer, I’m inclined to eat them after dinner even if I’m not hungry.”

Because stress, sadness, anger, loneliness, and grief can send anyone to seek solace in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, the successfully thin person knows mood-driven eating when she sees it and defends against it, Gullo adds. “Thin people recognize the syndrome and don’t bring trigger foods into the place where it happens,” he says. “Mood eating takes place primarily at home.”

Thin people do what works.

Perhaps nowhere does the frequently cited definition of insanity―doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result―apply more aptly than with weight loss. The math makes this clear: By one estimate, one-third of Americans are on a diet, but 64 percent of us remain overweight or obese. Something doesn’t add up.

The biggest difference between the permanently thin and everyone else might very well be this: Those who don’t gain (or regain) have come up with effective, specific, and often personal ways to keep their weight in check.

Becky Grebosky, age 38, a children’s-clothing and gift manufacturer and a mother of two in Albuquerque, New Mexico, makes a smoothie when she feels like having a treat. “I mix up yogurt, a bit of juice, some water, ice, and whatever fruit is around,” she says. “It tastes like a milk shake.” Other thin people can’t live without dessert, so they shave calories elsewhere or “pay” for the indulgence with extra time or intensity at the gym. “Thin people get out of the mind-set of being ‘good’ or ‘bad,’” psychologist Stephen Gullo says. “It’s about doing what works.”

This practice may account for the single most annoying trait of the always-thin: that their achievement seems effortless. But it’s not. “People think you never have a fat day―I do,” Holly Johnson, age 45, a co-owner of a Sarasota, Florida–based marketing and public-relations firm and the mother of an eight-year-old, says. “I have days when I feel awful. But I spend a lot of time and energy on fitness and cooking. And I have to work really hard, especially now that I’m over 40.”

But when good habits are integrated into your life, something shifts. There’s no need to count calories, agonize over an order of fries, track miles walked, or (worst of all) talk endlessly about what you’re eating and not eating. For the thin, feeling strong, healthy, and, yes, slim are powerful rewards―and their chief motivation to continue, as Anne Fletcher, a registered dietitian, has heard from dozens of people. “More than 90 percent of those who have mastered weight maintenance feel like they’re not dieting,” she says. “It becomes a way of life.”

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