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'Biggest Loser' nutritionist says all calories are not created equal

BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
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June 26, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • How many calories do you need in a day? Find out when Cheryl Forberg is a guest on a live Web chat.
How many calories do you need in a day? Find out when Cheryl Forberg is a guest… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

With nutrition information everywhere, why is it still hard to figure out how many calories we should eat? Join a live Web chat with "The Biggest Loser" nutritionist Cheryl Forberg on Monday, June 27, at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. CT, 3 p.m. ET) and learn how to devise a sensible nutrition plan that's easy to follow.

Forberg is a registered dietitian and trained chef who graduated from the California Culinary Academy. She's also the author of "Flavor First: Cut Calories and Boost Flavor with 75 Delicious, All-Natural Recipes," which shows how healthful, flavorful food can taste just as good as highly processed, fattier fare. We asked Forberg how people can become more informed about the food they eat.

"There are a lot of credible sources out there," she said, "but you have to be careful--there are also a lot of non-credible sources that give faddish information about weight loss plans that aren't really sound and are way too low in calories. For example, if you ever encounter a weight-loss plan that tells you not to exercise, run--literally."

Forberg finds that many of the contestants she counsels on "The Biggest Loser" don't understand food and diet basics--but they're not the only ones. Many Americans don't have a clue about how much they should eat.

"Most people don't know how many calories their body needs," she said. "A woman might have a 1,200-calorie budget, so I would tell her to divide that into three 300-calorie meals and two 150-calorie snacks. But what on Earth does a 300-calorie meal look like? I can talk about lean proteins and complex carbs, but people don't know what that looks like unless you're referring to a Lean Cuisine or something. It really is a vertical learning curve."

Another critical part of sensible eating, Forberg said, is recognizing true hunger: "We're all emotional eaters. When people find themselves eating to extreme or eating too much, sometimes we need to ask ourselves, am I hungry? Why am I eating this?"

Do you have a question for Cheryl Forberg? Email jeannine.stein@latimes.com and join the chat to see the answer.

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