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Q&A: Working Out & Watching What I Eat with No Results

We receive several comments and questions on our nutrition blog regarding working out.  A lot of people are expressing their frustration, because they are working out and watching what they eat, but their efforts are not reflected in their results.

Since this seems to be such a common concern, we’d like to share our answer to this frequently asked question. If you have any additional questions, please post them below.


Hello….I need HELP with my current weight situation.  I have been doing really intense workouts for the past 1 1/2 months, watching what I eat, lots of protein, etc….with absolutely no results.  My metabolism is so off and it is so frustrating.  Any suggestions?


Answer by: Cindy MarasiganSkinny Gene dietetic intern, nutrition counselor, fitness instructor, and culinary chef 

It sounds like you’re doing positive changes on achieving a healthy lifestyle. Here are some weight loss tips and exercise tips that I found to be helpful. Pick the tips that will work for you.


 Weight Loss Tips:

  • Eat at least three times per day.
  • Pay attention to your body. When you feel like you have had enough to eat, stop. Quit before you feel full, stuffed, or sick from eating. You can have more if you are really hungry.
  • If you still feel hungry or unsatisfied after a meal or snack, wait at least 10 minutes before you have more food. Often, the craving will go away.
  • Drink plenty of water and other calorie-free drinks  ( tea, coffee, diet soda- in moderation). You may be thirsty, not hungry.
  • Pick lean meats, low-fat or nonfat cheese, and skim (nonfat) or 1% fat milk instead of higher-fat/higher-calorie choices.
  • Get plenty of fiber. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are good sources. Have a high fiber cereal every day.
  • Cut back on sugar. For example, drink less fruit juice and regular soda.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor) that you drink.
  • Keep all food in the kitchen. Eat only in a chosen place, such as at the table. Don’t eat in the car or the bedroom or in front of the TV.

Food Preparation

  • Plan meals ahead of time.
  • Try cooking methods that cut calories:
    • Cook without adding fat (bake, broil, roast, boil).
    • Use nonstick cooking sprays instead of butter or oil. You can also use wine, broth,or fruit juice instead of oil when cooking.
  • Use low-calorie foods instead of high-calorie ones when possible.
  • If you do make extra portions, put them away as soon as they are ready so you can save them for other meals. Store the leftovers in containers that you can’t see through.
  • Cook when you are not hungry. For example, cook and refrigerate tomorrow’s dinner after you have finished eating tonight.
  • Make fruits, vegetables, and other low-calorie foods part of each meal.
  • Drink water while you cook.


  • Divide your plate into four equal parts. Use one part for meat, one for starch (such as pasta, rice, potatoes, or bread), and two for nonstarchy vegetables.
  • Do not put serving dishes on the table. This will make it harder to take a second portion.
  • Put salad dressing on the side instead of mixing it with, or pouring onto your salad. Then dip your fork into the dressing before you spear a bite of salad.
  • Change your usual place at the table.
  • Make mealtime special by using pretty dishes, napkins, and glasses.
  • Eat slowly. Take a few one-minute breaks from eating during meals. Put your fork down between bites. Cut your food one bite at a time.
  • Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cake, pie, or other sweets.
  • Remove your plate as soon as you’ve finished eating.


Snacking can be part of your plan for healthy weight loss. You can eat six times per day as long as you plan what to eat and don’t eat too many calories.

  • Plan ahead. Be sure to have healthy snacks on hand. If the right food is not there, you may be more likely to eat whatever is available, such as candy, cookies, chips, leftovers, or other “quick” choices.
  • Keep low-calorie snacks in a special part of the refrigerator. Good choices include the following:
    • Reduced-fat string cheese, low-calorie yogurt, and nonfat milk.
    • Washed, bite-size pieces of raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, pepper strips, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower. Serve with low-calorie dips.
    • Fresh fruit.

Eating and Emotions

Do you use eating to deal with feelings other than hunger, such as boredom, being tired, or stress? If you eat for these reasons, here are some other things you can try:

  • Call a friend for support.
  • Use inspirational quotes to help you avoid the temptation to eat.
  • Take a warm bath or shower.
  • Listen to music or a relaxation CD.
  • Take a walk.
  • Try activities that keep you from eating. For example, it’s hard to eat while you’re exercising. If you are gardening, you probably won’t eat while your hands are covered in soil.

Exercise Tips:

A successful weight-loss program includes an exercise regimen.  Adding a combination of strength-training, cardiovascular exercise, and a nutrition plan helps burn calories and reduce extra weight.

  • The American Heart Association suggests aiming at the lower end of your target heart rate zone, about 50 percent, and gradually building up to the higher end, 75 percent, within the first few weeks of a new exercise program. After about six months evaluate your progress to see if you can comfortably raise your intensity to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
  • Include strength-training in your program. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. Strength-training adds lean muscle mass. The lean muscle mass acts like a furnace that will continue to burn calories throughout the day even after you’ve finished working out.
  • Relax. Stress knocks the body’s hormone system out of balance. In order to regulate the system, the body releases cortisol (a hormone) to get it back on track. “Cortisol demands the most readily available sources of energy: high-fat, simple-carb foods that your body can use quickly,” Try meditation techniques or stretching exercises to help unwind from tension.


1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition Care Manual. General Nutrition/ Weight Loss Tips. Available at:

Accessed May 19, 2012.

2. American Heart Association. Heart Rate and Exercise. Available at:  Accessed May 9, 2012.



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