PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Leslie Bonci is the dietician to the stars of Pittsburgh sports as well as other professional sports teams around the country.
Now, she’s put her weight loss advice in a book called “The Active Calorie Diet.”
In addition to helping football, hockey and baseball players with what they eat, Bonci counsels regular Pittsburghers.
Many of them have tried diets, lost weight and gained it back.
So, she came up with a diet that’s easy to follow and believe it or not, it is not about counting calories. It is about making them count.
“The reason we call it the ‘Active Calorie Diet’ is because all calories are not the same. In other words, there are certain foods you eat that when you eat them, your body actually expends more calories to break them down,” Bonci said.
Bonci, with co-author Selene Yeager and the editors of Prevention Magazine, came up with an easy way to remember how to make those calories work for you.
They came up with the acronym, “CHEW.”
“C” stands for chewing, because you expend calories just by chewing.
“What I mean by that is instead of someone saying I’m just having a glass of juice. When you eat the apple, you have to bite into it, you have to chew it,” Bonci said.
Chewy foods include fruits, vegetables, meat and nuts.
“H” stands for hearty which applies foods that are filling and satisfying.
Hearty foods like soup, oatmeal, cereal and high fiber foods take up more room in your stomach.
“E” stands for energizing, which applies to foods or drinks that have caffeine in them.
“What happens when you have caffeine, you feel a little more stimulated. But actually, in the body, particularly things that have green tea, you get an added advantage because of the fat burning perspective,” Bonci said.
Bonci does not recommend soda, but dark chocolate in moderation works.
“W” stands for warming, which applies to spices such as chili pepper, Tobasco or salsa.
“It could be ginger, in spice or fresh ginger itself. Curry, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, all those types of things. The good thing about them – no calories. They add a ton of flavor to what you eat, but they have no calories in them,” Bonci said.
Vinegars are also warming.
However, can these simple changes really make a difference?
“With any of these it will work. You will burn a little bit more. So, cumulatively over the day, if someone says I’m chewing more, they incorporate the hearty, they feel a little bit fuller. If I add in the energizing and I’ve added the warming, what can that add up to calorically in a day? Fifty, 70 calories extra burned,” Bonci said.
Bonci also said to burn even more you should eat protein with every meal.
“The body expends more calories to break this down than it does the carbs,” Bonci said.
Bonci also recommends being more active in life, even in preparing your food.
“I have my vegetables. I’m actually going to chop them. You expend energy when you have a knife and you’re chopping, or perhaps somebody’s mincing or stirring. All are small motor movements, but it’s still calories expended,” Bonci said.
A sample active plate would include turkey, strawberries, broccoli and pasta and it would be topped with wonderful spices or vinegars.
The diet worked for Pittsburghers who served as the test panel.
Professional golfer Carol Semple Thompson lost 14 pounds and more than seven inches in a month and said she never felt like she was dieting.
The book has more than 140 recipes and also great visual guidelines with graphics of what your plate should look like.
If you eat out a lot, there are also suggestions of how to have an active plate at a restaurant or fast food joint.