December Weight Loss Tips | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

December Weight Loss Tips | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Dropping extra pounds can be tough enough. Add frigid temps and extra merrymaking to the task and it can feel even more challenging. But don’t let the dog days of winter derail your diet. Committing to a program like Nutrisystem can keep you on track with your weight loss goals. We’ve rounded up 10 simple, Nutrisystem-approved tips to help you lose weight this December.

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Here are 10 tips to help you drop pounds this December:

1. Ease up on coffee concoctions.


If you take a look at the average seasonal latte from a popular coffeehouse, a large size topped with whipped cream can contain almost 500 calories and high amounts of sugar. As much as you enjoy a hot coffee on a cool morning, those fancy brews and other sugar-sweetened beverages (like sodas and flavored fruit drinks) are no good for your waistline.

Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that regularly consuming sugar-sweetened drinks is linked to weight gain and obesity. Unsweetened tea and coffee are your healthiest options. If you like some extra flavor, add a dash of cinnamon or pumpkin spice to plain coffee, stick to skim (not whole milk) and skip the whipped cream.

2. Befriend your food processor and spiralizer.


Eating an abundance of non-starchy vegetables is an important part of your Nutrisystem program. They offer vitamins and minerals and are also low in calories and high in fiber to help you feel fuller, longer. But sometimes the mere thought of shredding a carrot or cutting up greens makes you tired. Enter your new kitchen BFFs: with the push of a button or turn of a crank, you can slice, chop or create pasta-like noodles with minimal effort.

Check out these must-try veggie noodle dishes! >

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3. Walk the mall.


Sure, it’s warmer than pounding the pavement outdoors. But there are many other reasons to hit the mall in December when you want to walk for exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mall walking as an alternative way to increase physical activity. According to Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, the mall is the second most popular place to walk after neighborhoods. They explain that the mall is free (if you stick to window shopping) and convenient in that you can walk any time the mall is open. The ground is flat, there is good lighting and benches are available for relaxing. There’s also easy access to bathrooms and water fountains. Plus, there’s no pressure to compete or keep up, like there might be at the gym or on a track.

Here are more creative ways to meet your step goals this winter >

4. Gift yourself a set of dumbbells.


If a gym membership is too much for your budget in December, invest in a few pieces of strength training equipment you can use at home—like dumbbells or resistance bands. According to Mayo Clinic, lean muscle mass decreases as you age, leading to an increase in body fat percentage. However, they explain that strength training and lifting weights can help build and preserve muscle and increase your metabolism.

5. Stress less.


It may not be the easiest of tasks around the holidays. However, it’s most definitely worth the effort. Stress affects everything—your health, your mood and your behavior, says Mayo Clinic. Recent research also indicates that it can impact your weight. A study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, suggests that stress can slow the metabolism. According to Harvard Health, stress can also increase hormones that stimulate appetite and alter food cravings to be higher in sugar and fat.

Learn how to ditch holiday stress >

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6. Start with soup.


Nothing says December like a hot bowl of hearty soup. According to, researchers at Penn State University found that consuming low-calorie soup prior to a meal can decrease the number of total calories you consume at that meal. They discovered that people who opt for this cold-weather favorite as a first course consumed 20 percent fewer calories at lunch, compared to when they had the same meal without the soup appetizer.

Try one of these tasty, Nutrisystem-approved soup recipes >

7. Skip the potato chips.

potato chips

Of all the tempting finger foods at your next holiday party, chips are the ones to avoid. A study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that these fried slices were “strongly associated” with weight gain. And if that’s not reason enough, chips and other deep-fried foods are typically loaded with unhealthy fats and other ingredients.

Get the salt and crunch you crave while staying on plan with these healthier veggie chips! >

8. Eat slowly.


This one applies in the summer, spring and fall, too: If you slow down during a meal, it gives your brain time to receive the “I’m full” signals from your stomach, says Harvard Health. Scarf it down and it’s much easier to eat more than your body really needs. One review of research, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that eating fast “is positively associated with excess body weight.”

Learn more about how slow eating can lead to weight loss >

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9. Embrace the cold.


The arrival of December weather might seem like the arrival of unwanted pounds. However, research suggests that cold temps could promote the formation of brown fat cells—the kind of fat in our bodies that burns calories to generate heat, says Business Insider. White fat cells, on the other hand, store energy and contribute to “dangerous excess body fat.” In one in vitro study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists found that at lower temperatures, stem cells formed brown fat instead of white fat.

10. Stop binge-watching before bed.


As good as that show is, set your TV to turn off after one episode—for two reasons. First, lack of sleep is linked to metabolism changes and obesity, says Mayo Clinic. They explain that it may increase your hunger and appetite, while decreasing your odds of exercise. Plus, falling asleep with the TV on may also increase your risk of weight gain. A study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that exposure to artificial light at night is associated with the development of obesity.

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Social Life: Dieting While Socializing

Social Life: Dieting While Socializing

One thing that makes Nutrisystem so great: You can lose weight without losing your social life. Unlike other diets that tie you to the kitchen, you can stay on-plan with Nutrisystem while meeting friends, family and coworkers for happy hours, dinners out or weekend barbecues. With Flex™ meals, you have the opportunity and the guidance you’ll need to stay on-track while preparing healthy foods at home with non-Nutrisystem foods or eating out.

But maintaining a social life can still be tough when you’re trying to stay on track—there’s tempting appetizers, tasty desserts and sugar-heavy drinks just waiting to blow your diet. Don’t let them get you!

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Follow these 10 tips to having a social life without slipping up on your journey to weight loss glory:

1. Don’t just plan your day. Plan your week.

meal plan

Weight loss isn’t just about creating a caloric deficit today. It’s about creating one for the week, the month and beyond. Start with those seven days: Depending on where you are in the Nutrisystem program, you might get one or two Flex™ meals per week. So if you know you’re going to happy hour on Thursday with friends or a picnic this weekend, save it! Stick to your no-questions-asked Nutrisystem meals and snacks, and save the Extras and Flex™ meals for when you head out, so you can order without stress.

2. Offer to host.


You don’t have to go out to have a social life. Invite friends and family over to your place, where you can control what’s served so you know what’s in it and how much, so you know what’s a solid serving to stay on your plan. Or if you’re meeting at another person’s house, offer to bring something—show up with a healthy dish that you enjoy. When it’s time to eat, you can pile a big portion of this item on your plate, and fill in the rest with other offerings that look tempting.

3. Suggest a get-together that isn’t focused on food.


Go bowling, try a painting-with-wine class, have a board game night, start a book club or see a concert. Find events that you’ll enjoy that keep you in touch with your social life without focusing just on food. And if you are at a bar, restaurant or barbecue, remember why you’re really there: Put your focus on catching up and bonding with friends and family while you’re there.

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4. Look at the menu before you go out.

Online food

If you do decide to get together at a restaurant, go in prepared: Pull up the menu online before you head out. See if calorie counts are listed, and use them to guide your decision. If they’re not, find a dish that looks delicious and fits with your plan and decide to order it before you go. That way, you won’t feel pressure when you sit down, and wind up ordering something off-plan—or something you won’t end up enjoying.

5. Don’t show up hungry.


You might think it’s best to “save up” for a treat like a night out by eating less throughout the day. But this can backfire: You may wind up so ravenous that you eat more than you originally planned. Put a little something with fiber and protein in your stomach before you head out so you can feel a little full in advance—a Nutrisystem shake is a perfect, easy choice. This way, you can enjoy your socializing treat with a healthy portion.

6. Attack your cravings!


Don’t dance around your cravings: Nutrisystem dietitians say to attack them. If you’re really craving a juicy burger, order one and have a portion-controlled size. Our experts say that when you avoid your cravings, you can end up overeating by trying to satisfy it with other foods—eating a bunch of pretzels, for instance, when what you really want is a bite of chocolate. Instead, recognize your craving, order something that will satisfy and take the time to enjoy it.

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7. Keep a Nutrisystem snack tucked in your bag.


One way to attack those cravings is to come prepared. If you’re out longer than expected, you might want to dive into dessert, even if it’s not in your original going-out plan. Having a Nutrisystem snack handy—like Nutrichocolates or, if you’re into salty, Popcorn or Snack-a-Rounds—can give you something safe to munch on and stay on-plan.

8. Alternate a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage.

glass of water

You’ve heard this one before, but that’s because it works: Water will help you metabolize the alcohol, so you don’t get too tipsy—which can lower your inhibitions to other foods and portions you’re trying to avoid. In fact, the alcohol may make greasy or other cheat foods seem more appealing: In a 2015 study of 35 women, those who had alcohol in their system had a more sensitive brain response to food aromas, which led to eating more than those who were sober. Water will also keep you hydrated, which can make you feel less snacky, since our bodies sometimes mistake thirst for hunger.

9. Ask a friend to be your accountability buddy.


Staying on track is easier with support. In fact, multiple studies have found that it’s easier to stick to a diet or fitness plan when you do it with a partner or friend. When you head out, enlist help. Ask a friend that you trust to help you: Tell them your goals for the evening and ask them to gently help you with a subtle reminder if you go for an extra dessert or order something off your plan. You may still decide to have a small off-plan treat, but the reminder could be enough to make you mindful of your decision and stay on track.

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10. Remember: It’s cheat meal, not cheat day.

social life

If you go overboard at a social lunch or happy hour, you haven’t ruined your weight loss progress: Many dieters trip up at one meal, get discouraged, and go overboard for the rest of the day because it’s already “ruined.” The term is “cheat meal,” not “cheat day”: If you have a meal that you think could set you back, remember that it’s just one meal. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up. Give yourself some slack, remember that you enjoyed your cheat and get back on track—little decisions that you make, starting right away, will lead you to weight loss success.

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Your Top Personalized Grocery Picks

Your Top Personalized Grocery Picks

You took the first step towards your new healthy lifestyle and have received your first personalized Nutrisystem order. Throughout your journey, you won’t just lose weight. You will learn about healthy choices, portion control and preparing nutritious meals that works best for YOU. When you reach your weight loss goals, you will feel confident in your ability to maintain your success and continue healthy living. Your new meal plan is built for your body type, taste buds and goals in order to create a plan that you can stick too, enjoy and lose weight.

Along the way, you will add in grocery additions to your day and prepare your own Flex Meals and Snacks throughout the week. You will be shopping for PowerFuels, SmartCarbs, Vegetables, Extras and Free Foods using your personalized grocery guides suggestions.

To go along with your personalized Nutrisystem program, you need personalized grocery picks that fit your needs. We know there are a lot of options, so we put together a list of YOUR top 10 picks from each category to compliment your plan. Make sure to also print out your FULL personalized Grocery Guide for even more ideas by clicking here. This will provide more details on each category, proper portion sizes and more examples that will work for you.

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Your Top 10 PowerFuels

grocery guides

With your personalized plan, PowerFuels should be near the top of your shopping list. PowerFuels are high-quality lean proteins that keep you fueled throughout your day. One PowerFuel is between 80 to 120 calories with at least five grams of protein.


If you’re a cheese lover, stick to low fat and part-skim options to keep saturated fat to a minimum. Cheese can also be higher in salt, so consider choosing lower sodium varieties when they are available. Swiss tends to be lower in sodium than other cheeses. Enjoy shredded cheddar in salads, a slice of Swiss in a low carb wrap or a piece of string cheese as a snack.


Eggs are another great PowerFuel option for you. One large egg or about three to four egg whites is considered one PowerFuel serving. You could enjoy an egg white and veggie omelet for breakfast or a hard-boiled egg at snack time. Check out these egg-cellent recipes >

Fish & Shellfish

Seafood such as fish and shellfish are delicious, lean choices. When measuring your seafood, keep in mind that a serving of white fish or shellfish is three ounces, while a serving of fatty fish is only two ounces. Avoid fish and seafood that is covered in breading and consider buying frozen for a cheaper alternative. Make some tuna salad or enjoy tilapia over roasted veggies for a filling Flex Dinner.

Lean Meat & Poultry

Lean meat and poultry are some of the higher protein foods on this list. Try to choose lean cuts of meat and poultry to reduce your saturated fat intake. If you enjoy the deli counter, ask for low sodium options if they are available and avoid more processed meats like bologna and salami. The serving size for lean meat is generally two ounces, while the portion for chicken or turkey is three ounces.

Nuts & Nut Butters

Nuts and nut butters are super versatile and full of healthy fats to keep you full all day long. Enjoy some peanut butter on celery or sprinkle cashews on your salad. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this nutty ingredient. The serving size of nuts is two tablespoons for whole nuts and one tablespoon for nut butters. Choose your nut butter here >

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are a quick and easy way to fit PowerFuels into your day. You can use any protein powder that you enjoy, however, you should check the calories and adjust the serving size as needed. Whey protein shakes like Nutrisystem Protein and Probiotic Shakes are packed with protein and keep you full all day. If you are unable to tolerate dairy, soy or pea protein shakes would also be acceptable. One serving is generally two tablespoons of protein powder but check the label to ensure it fits into the PowerFuel guidelines. Find a tasty recipe here >


Low fat yogurt is delicious as part of a breakfast or a snack. Greek yogurt tends to be higher in protein than regular yogurt. Choose yogurt that is free of added sugars and add your own sweetness using stevia or monk fruit.

Soy Products

If you’re unable to enjoy dairy, soy products make a tasty and high protein alternative. Soy cheese, milk and yogurt can replace dairy versions and would be a great option for you. If you want to enjoy a meatless Monday meal, use tofu or tempeh as your PowerFuel. Edamame and soy nuts are also perfect protein snacks to take with you on the go.

Check out your full list of personalized PowerFuels here >

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Your Top 10 SmartCarbs

grocery guides

SmartCarbs are nutrient-rich carbohydrates that are lower on the Glycemic Index and packed with fiber to keep you full. They are an important piece of your personalized balanced meal plan and are included in several of your meal occasions throughout the day. Your SmartCarbs should be between 80 to 120 calories with at least three grams of fiber.


Your balanced meal plan can benefit from the delicious banana. This sweet, yellow fruit is full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. So, go bananas and enjoy banana in your smoothies and cereal. It’s also the perfect base for blended “nice” cream. Get the 4-ingredient recipe here >


SmartCarbs that pack a protein punch like beans are your best bet. Canned beans are convenient and easy to prepare. However, they can be high in sodium. Luckily, low sodium canned goods are becoming more popular and readily available in the grocery store. Add beans to chili and salad as a high fiber addition. Hummus made from chickpeas is delicious with fresh chopped veggies. The serving size for beans is a half cup. Learn how to eat more beans >


You may think that bread is completely off limits when trying to lose weight. However, you can enjoy higher fiber options like rye or whole grain made with flax seeds. Try making a healthy grilled cheese or tuna salad sandwich as a diet-friendly Flex Lunch.

Brown & Wild Rice

Certain rice varieties are also acceptable SmartCarbs. Select wild or brown rice as these contain more fiber than regular white rice. Make your own healthy sushi using brown rice, veggies, salmon and low sodium soy sauce. A half cup of rice is one SmartCarb serving.


This starchy vegetable made it to your list of top SmartCarbs due to its high fiber content. It’s also a rich source of potassium, folate and antioxidants, says Healthline. Corn is delicious straight from the cob. However, you can also mix it into your salads, soups and pasta.


Snacking is an important part of your personalized Nutrisystem plan. Crackers are a versatile snack food that pairs well with sweet or savory ingredients. Snack smart and choose a cracker with at least one gram of fiber. Top your crackers with almond butter and berries, cream cheese and sliced cucumbers or tuna salad and chopped onions.

Dried Fruit

Eat your serving of fruit on-the-go by enjoying it dried. Dried fruit, such as raisins, dried apricots, prunes, figs and dried cranberries are natures candy. They are convenient SmartCarbs that pair well with many recipes. Add dried fruit to your trail mix, smoothies and salads for some texture and sweetness. Keep in mind that many varieties contain unnecessary added sugar, so be sure to check the ingredient list before buying. You can also try making your own dried fruit. Use our guide here >


When summertime comes around, you can feel free to indulge in delicious melons. Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are healthy SmartCarb options packed with nutrition. One cup of melon is considered one SmartCarb serving. Throw some cubed honey dew into a fruit salad or blend cantaloupe into a smoothie. This refreshing fruit will keep you on track towards your weight loss goals.


Pasta on a diet? You heard us right! You can enjoy a hearty bowl of spaghetti on your personalized plan. When choosing your noodles, just make sure to select varieties with fiber to ensure it fits into the SmartCarb guidelines. We recommend a half cup of whole grain pasta as one SmartCarb serving. If you’re feeling fancy, grab a bag of whole grain couscous or check out one of these healthy pasta alternatives >


Starchy vegetables such as potatoes are allowed in moderation on your plan. They contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients. About a half cup of potatoes is considered one SmartCarb serving. Enjoy a baked sweet potato with butter spray or make our Healthier Potato Salad. Get the recipe here >

Check out your full list of personalized SmartCarbs here >

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Your Top 10 Extras

grocery guides

Extras! Extras! Read all about them! Add a little more flavor to your day with Extras. You are allotted three Extras per day. One Extra contains 10 to 35 calories per serving. In total, you have an extra 105 calories to play around with during the day for things like condiments, beverages and more.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is gaining popularity and many love to use it as a low calorie alternative to milk. We recommend choosing an unsweetened almond milk because it doesn’t contain added sugars. Use it to make smoothies, soups and more. About one cup is considered one Extra.

Coffee Creamer

If you enjoy waking up to a cup of joe, you can add one tablespoon of a low fat coffee creamer to your cup. Pick an option that doesn’t have added sugar to avoid unnecessary calories.


Condiments and spreads, such as ketchup, mayonnaise and relish can be enjoyed with care. However, stay conscious of your calorie intake by choosing reduced sugar and low fat options.

Honey & Maple Syrup

Add some sweetness to your meal plan with pure maple syrup or honey. They are less refined sweeteners than sugar and can provide delicious flavor. However, keep in mind that they still contain sugar in higher amounts and are best enjoyed in moderation. It’s also important to purchase pure varieties that don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy ingredients. Drizzle a teaspoon of honey in your tea or some pure maple syrup over your Nutrisystem pancakes.

Salad Dressing & Balsamic Vinegar

You may want to drizzle some salad dressing on your favorite bowl of non-starchy vegetables. Most flavors and varieties are acceptable. However, the serving size will vary based on the type you choose. For regular full fat dressings, about one teaspoon is one serving. If you’re going for a light or reduced fat dressing, you can have about one tablespoon since they are lower in calories. Make sure to check the label to ensure it is low in added sugars. Making your own salad dressing is also super simple and you can control the ingredients and flavors you add. Check out our salad dressing guide here >


If you enjoy snacking, popcorn will be your favorite Extra. Plain, air-popped popcorn is quite low in calories. So low, in fact, that one whole cup is considered one Limited Extra on the plan. Make a fresh bowl for your movie night or try one of these easy recipes >

Tomato Paste

Use up that can of tomato paste that has been sitting in the back of your pantry. This underappreciated ingredient can add some serious flavor to your Flex Meals. Add it to any recipe that calls for tomatoes to boost the tomato taste and nutrient profile. You can also make your own pesto or unsweetened ketchup using this super secret ingredient.


Take your diet to the tropics with coconut. Although it’s technically a fruit, coconut is higher in calories and will fall into the Extra category. A tablespoon of dried, unsweetened coconut flakes is a sweet and crunchy addition to your trail mix and smoothie bowls. A half cup of coconut water is a refreshing beverage that’s delicious blended with pineapple or mango.

Check out your full list of personalized Extras here >

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Your Top 10 Free Foods

grocery guides

Free Foods will be your best friend while on the Nutrisystem plan. These are condiments and other ingredients that are so low in calories, you can enjoy as much as you want. Free foods are anything less than 10 calories per serving. They are unlimited on the plan and can be a great addition to meals, snacks and veggies to add some flavor.

Butter Spray

Cook your vegetables in a low calorie butter spray to add a buttery tasty with almost no calories.

Citrus Juice

Citrus juice such as lemon and lime juice can add some zest to seafood, vegetables and even your water!

Salsa & Capers

Fresh salsa or capers are perfect toppers for a healthy salad. Both can add flavor and fiber to any dish, with very little calories.

Low Sodium Soy Sauce & Hot Sauce

When you’ve run out of your limited Extras, low sodium soy sauce and hot sauce are low calorie flavor in a bottle! Keep them handy throughout your journey when you’re needing something spicy or savory.

Fresh Herbs, Spices & Seasoning Blends

With your personalized plan, there should be no shortage on flavor. Spice up your life and feel free to use your favorite fresh herbs, spices and seasoning blends. Spices and herbs don’t only bring flavor; many also come with amazing health benefits. We recommend selecting spices and seasoning blends that are low in sodium. Spice up your veggies, Flex Meals and Nutrisystem entrees to your liking!

Zero-Calorie Sweeteners

Even if you’re trying to lose weight, you can still enjoy some sweetness. Our favorite zero-calorie sweeteners include stevia, monk fruit and sugar alcohols like erythritol. Add a little to your tea, coffee or plain low fat yogurt.


Vinegar packs a punch of flavor with very little calories. Make a salad dressing with apple cider vinegar, flaxseed oil, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. You can even infuse your own vinegar with fresh herbs easily to add even more flavor.

Check out your full list of personalized Free Foods here >

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Macros & Weight Loss | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Macros & Weight Loss | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Understanding how to eat a healthy diet can be confusing when you hear about it on the news or see posts on your social media feed. However, choosing the right foods for you becomes a lot simpler when you focus on a few basics about the ingredients and your body. A smart way to start is to think about what nutritionists call the “macronutrients” or “macros.” The three macros—protein, carbohydrates and fats—are all essential components of a healthy diet. Macros have a major impact on our efforts to lose excess weight. However, they affect us in different ways, depending on our bodies’ individual inclinations.

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Here’s what you need to know about macros and weight loss:



This macronutrient is composed of sugars and starches. According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, your body breaks these down quickly and turns them into glucose, your primary source of fuel. Unused glucose, however, is stored as body fat. Every gram of carbohydrates comes with four calories, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While all carbs are made up of sugars and starches, there are important differences. According to Medical News Today, simple carbohydrates are sugars that are typically low in fiber. This means they are digested quickly, so you are hungry again soon after eating them. Complex carbohydrates break down slower and are higher in fiber. This helps food move through the body gradually, so you feel full longer.

At Nutrisystem, we classify foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates as SmartCarbs, because they are both nourishing and satisfying. For people whose body type is best described as apple shaped, choosing high fiber SmartCarbs is especially important because excess simple carbohydrates are often stored as fat around the belly.



Your body uses protein as both an energy source and as a building block for the new cells it is constantly making to replenish its supply, says Healthline. Protein is composed of amino acids. The human body requires 20 different amino acids in order to work correctly. Like carbohydrates, a gram of protein has four calories, according to the USDA.

Protein comes in a variety of forms. When people think about proteins, they tend to focus on meats and fish. However, nearly all foods have some amino acids. Many kinds of protein come with fats, particularly saturated fats that are loaded with extra calories. In your Nutrisystem plan, you’ll see the best protein sources are identified as PowerFuels. These lean meats and fish, along with low fat dairy products and legumes, fill you up and provide plenty of energy.

If you carry extra weight in parts of your body other than your midsection, your body may be shaped like an hourglass, rectangle or inverted triangle. Consuming high-quality proteins will help these body types preserve lean muscle mass while they drop pounds. People who have an hourglass body type should get about 25 percent of their daily calories from protein. Just be sure to choose the lean options and eat plenty of high fiber foods.

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To someone trying to lose extra weight, fats sound like a food to avoid at all times. However, Harvard Health explains that your body needs fats for energy, to absorb certain vitamins and minerals and many more important bodily functions. The concerns about fat consumption stem, in large part, from the nine calories in every gram—more than double what you get from the other macros, says the USDA.

As with carbohydrates and proteins, the key for weight loss is to choose the right fats. The healthiest types are unsaturated, which includes polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. According to Harvard Health, monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, avocados and nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are an important type of polyunsaturated fat that is found in fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseeds. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, says Harvard Health.

Saturated fats, common in most cuts of beef and pork, have been shown to elevate your body’s cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. According to Harvard Health, saturated fats are found in meat, high fat dairy products and coconut. Even worse are “trans fats,” found in many processed foods. Eating a lot of trans fats is associated with increased cholesterol, inflammation and heart disease, says Harvard Health.

It is especially important for people with a pear, hourglass or rectangle body shape (as well as anyone eating a high protein diet) to be wary of consuming unhealthy fats. Be mindful of the dietary fats you consume and choose polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats when possible.

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Salt Cravings and Weight Loss

Salt Cravings and Weight Loss

We all need salt. Sodium is essential for keeping the balance of fluids in our bodies right, helping our muscles contract and our nerves sending messages to our brains, says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The mineral is a component of a wide variety of foods. Due to salt cravings, most of us get more sodium than our bodies require in our daily diets. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the federal government recommend that we limit our sodium intake to about 2,300 milligrams per day, which is about one teaspoon of salt.

If you consume too much sodium, you increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, according to the FDA. Excess sodium causes our bodies to retain extra fluids, which may show up as temporary unwanted pounds. Even worse, Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports that too much salt in our diets causes us to drink less water and stimulates our appetites, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. High salt intake is also associated with an increased risk of obesity, according to researchers who reported their findings in the medical journal, Hypertension.

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Still, sometimes we feel like we really, really need the flavor of salt. The trouble is, many of the choices we make to satisfy our salt cravings load us up with more than just sodium, derailing our weight loss efforts. Salty foods such as chips, pretzels and crackers typically contain simple carbohydrates that are high in calories and low in nutrients and fiber.

That doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your salt cravings and stick to your healthy eating plan. The Nutrisystem snack menu offers you a wide range of healthy options that provide balanced nutrition. You can also try these other simple and nutritious ideas:

Veggie Chips

kale chips

The craving for a salty snack is often more about the urge to crunch than a desire for sodium. That’s a good time to reach for chips made from kale, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. Along with the crispy texture, you get vitamins, minerals and fiber. Add all the pepper and spices you’d like and go light on (or without) the added salt. To be sure you keep the salt content low and the nutrition high, use our recipes on The Leaf! We love kale chips but also recommend these six recipes that make ridiculously delicious veggie chips >


salt cravings

Peanuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts come in a variety of forms and flavors, including raw or dry-roasted. Munching on them can satisfy a craving for savory flavor, even when you choose the unsalted types. Nuts are also high in protein, which makes them a perfect PowerFuel.

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salt cravings

Do you love to dip when you’re hankering for savory flavor? Hummus, a creamy dip made from chickpeas and spices, is a tasty way to perk up raw vegetables such as carrots and peppers. You get both crunch and flavor in each bite. Best of all, humus is loaded with protein, low in carbs and has just 70 mg of sodium in 2 tablespoons, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Make this Spicy White Bean Hummus >


salt cravings

Vinegar can satisfy some of the same taste buds that sodium does. However, it’s a Free Food in your Nutrisystem weight-loss plan because it’s almost calorie-free. When cucumbers or other vegetables are preserved with vinegar and made into pickles, they can hit that savory spot without unwanted carbs. Try to choose reduced sodium varieties and enjoy pickled veggies as an Extra on your Nutrisystem plan.

The Skinny on Sodium: How Much is in Nutrisystem Foods?

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Herbs and Spices

salt cravings

Instead of reaching for the salt shaker when you want to pump up the flavor of your food, sprinkle on the spices. Hot pepper flakes, garlic, black pepper, oregano and many other seasonings can make any dish savory without adding one milligram of sodium. They’re all Free Foods, so you can use as much of them as you want. Try these five zero-calorie ways to add flavor to your food >

Hot Sauce

salt cravings

Zesty flavors can chase away your craving for salt without adding extra sodium to your diet. If you like food that gets your tongue tingling, add a few drops (or more, if you dare) of hot sauce to any dish. It’s another Free Food that you can use to your heart’s—and taste bud’s—content.

5 Cravings That Could Signal a Health Condition

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How to Survive Holiday Travel Slim-Down Style

How to Survive Holiday Travel Slim-Down Style

If you’re one of those holiday hustlers who will go the distance to avoid missing out on festivities with family and friends (literally), this article is for you. Do your holiday plans include jet-setting from party to party? Will you be so busy making merry that your slim-down is at risk of becoming full-on festivity roadkill?

The holidays, in all their go-go-go glory, can wreak havoc on your health. But with a little planning, they don’t have to. Keep your slim-down cool while you’re on the move with these trim-down tips for travelers:

1. Take it to go: Prepack an emergency snack kit, including Nutrisystem snacks and meal bars, water bottles and fridge-free produce to bring on your travels.

2. Watch the clock: Eat at regular mealtimes. Schedule pit-stops around meals if you can. If not, have Nutrisystem foods on hand for when the clock strikes “Eat!”

3. Be a mover and shaker: Long drive? Plan walking/stretching stops. Flying? Get physical by walking the airport pre-flight.

4. Book it: Bring a book, magazine or deck of cards during your holiday travels. Avoid snacking out of boredom by engaging in other downtime distractions.

5. Snooze to lose: Take advantage of travel time to catch up on ZZZs. Nap on the plane or train; alternate taking the wheel if driving with a copilot.

6. Don’t forego H2O: Don’t slack on hydration. It’ll keep your immune system strong as you hustle along!

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