Nutrition information and dietitian services brought to you by a Registered Dietitian and nutritionist. Alyssa believes in creating health through nutrition. With all the confusing nutrition data and diet foods available on the web, this is a site maintained by a nutrition professional you can trust. Alyssa provides services and programs specializing in weight loss, creating optimal health, reversing high blood sugar, and relieving the pain and discomfort caused by food sensitivities.

How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?


I get asked this all the time, and finding the answer to this question is one of the first things I do when working with a client who wants to lose weight. Calories are a big deal; the fact is, if we eat too many, we gain weight and if we eat too few we lose weight. There are different ways to control your calorie intake, including calorie counting or tracking, following a calorie-controlled meal plan, and eating mindfully by getting in touch with feelings of hunger and fullness. The most important thing I want my clients to know about calories is that although to lose weight you need to eat less, going too low in calories while dieting can have detrimental effects.

You may have heard of this equation before: There are 3500 calories in one pound of fat, therefore if we create a 500 calorie deficit each day, we will lose 1 pound per week, and if we create a 1000 calorie deficit each day, we will lose 2 pounds per week. I recently watched “Fat Head,” a documentary starring Tom Naughton. I did not care for the movie, mostly because he was very good at pointing out problems but fell short in offering solutions. One of the problems he pointed out was that this equation does not always translate to producing the expected result when put into practice.

Most people who work in the health and fitness industry already know this (Mr. Naughton is a comedian and computer programmer). The reason for the discrepancy is because when your calorie deficit is too large, your body decreases your metabolic rate, this closing the gap of deficit. This is a survival response and prevents you from starving. Although this will happen any time you reduce your calorie intake for a prolonged period of time, the effect is much more significant the more severe the calorie deficit.

If you are just starting a weight loss program and doing it on your own, I advise limiting your calorie deficit to 500 calories per day. You can further help protect your metabolism by splitting the deficit between calories and exercise; eating 250 fewer calories, and burning and extra 250 calories. Then, be patient. We all know time passes so quickly, except when you are waiting for a pot of water to boil, or weighing yourself daily waiting for those pounds to fall off. Keep in mind as with everything, weight loss takes time, and since time will pass anyway, you may as well set some very achievable habits into place to do consistently that will help move you toward your goal weight.

Here are some helpful steps to getting started:

  1. Determine how many calories you need per day given your age, gender, weight, height, activity level, and other factors that affect total calorie expenditure. A great resource to help you get started is the Healthy Body Calculator created by my fellow RD Joanne Larsen MS RD Select “maintain weight” in the assessment form, and that way you can create your calorie deficit manually. Or, call me for an appointment at 480-703-8883 for help determining what your appropriate calorie intake should be.
  2. Decide how you will burn an additional 250 calories daily. Choose a physical activity you enjoy enough to be able to stick with. Cut your daily calories by 250 per day; use a calorie tracking tool, or contact me about getting weekly meal plans for your target calorie level to take the hassle out of calculating and planning your menus.
  3. Implement your plan and log your progress. You can’t measure something you have no data on, so it is crucial while changing your habits to lose weight that you log your daily food consumption, fluid intake, and exercise. Then, each week, decide on 1 or 2 things you are going to improve upon next week. Perhaps you will add 5 minutes to your daily walk, or increase the speed of your walking. Or maybe you will decrease episodes of eating out from 5 to 2 times per week. Make the goals specific, because a goal like “eat better” is very difficult to track and measure, and is usually not effective in helping you change your habits.

Please comment below with your own experience or suggestions, and remember to sign up here for more free tips via email, check with me at for weekly meal plans, or click here to sign up to have weekly dinner plans emailed to you.

Healthy a healthy day!


Health and Nutrition Information: Quality Resources

Salvatore Vuono /

Dietitians and consumers alike are constantly frustrated by the amount of information in the mainstream media and even the medical community about nutrition that is not evidence-based. Because Registered Dietitians are trained in providing evidence-based information backed by peer-reviewed research, it’s frustrating to see people seeking good information about health instead finding nutrition information that is at best untrue and at worst, harmful to their health.

Fad diets are often promoted by celebrities, fitness experts, and even doctors, many of whom do not have specialized knowledge in the science of nutrition. These diets often come with elegantly written “science” backing them, that sadly is not based in evidence and ignores many of the dangers to the approach, the limited long-term effectiveness, and/or the limited duration of time most people are able to sustain the diet.

In days past, dietitians gained the reputation of “food police,” only telling you what NOT to eat. In fact, a colleague of mine recently mentioned when people see her eating at a party they’re surprised and look at her like “you’re EATING?” Most of us now consider ourselves advocates for food and make sure to provide plenty of information on what TO eat for optimal health, not just what to avoid. By the same token, I think for this topic it’s important that I not just bash fad diets, but that I provide you with good resources to find sound, evidenced based nutrition information.

The following are some of my favorite nutrition resources. These are places to go to search for good information on whatever topic you’re looking for. Go straight to these sites for quality info rather than doing your standard Google search and subjecting yourself to whichever diet sites win the race of internet marketing and end up on your first search page:

Evidence-based nutrition information
This is a leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information.  Features a symptom checker, drugs and medications A-Z, health topics A-Z, and a doctor directory.
This is run by WebMD and brings even more great information on different medical conditions, nutrition information, and medication. Features a medical term dictionary and even info on pet health!
Information on healthy diets, healthy cooking, menus, and grocery shopping. It even has expert answers on a variety of different nutrition topics and questions, and includes an expert nutrition blog.
This site includes a BMI calculator and information on achieving a healthy weight.  Includes a menu planner, recipes, shopping tips, a food/activity diary, and more.
This is the website for the largest organization of dietitians and nutrition professionals. It has plenty of trustworthy, science-based information for the public as well. Click on the “public” tab for information on healthy weight loss, disease prevention, and many other nutrition topics.
Provides independent test results, reviews, ratings and comparisons of vitamins, supplements, and herb and nutrition products. The place to go for trustworthy information on supplements.
Here is the link to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were most recently updated on 2010. These guidelines are published every 5 years since 1980 by the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This is the Center for Disease Control website. You can easily search topics on health and nutrition and find outstanding information and research.
This easy to use and interactive site helps you build your own meal plan, track your foods, and provides useful tools to helping you achieve a healthy weight with a balanced diet. The Food-A-Pedia feature allows you to input foods and get nutrition information on what you’ve eaten, and the food and physical activity trackers also help you keep track of your energy balance.

Popular nutrition tools
Free online calorie counter and diet plan. You can track your caloric intake quickly and easily for healthy weight loss. Includes mobile apps and nutrition facts for over 1000000 foods.
Healthy and delicious frozen meals created for people who want and need to eat healthfully. Includes meals for people with diabetes and other diet-specific ailments like gluten free and low sodium. Order online or find physical stores.
The largest online diet and healthy living community. Provides information and tools on nutrition, recipes, and more.
Helps you create and organize your grocery lists easily. With a mobile app that includes a database of millions of items, and includes barcode scanning, integrated coupons, product details, and sorting by isle.

Online fitness classes

I am a hug proponent of fitness videos. If you can’t get to the gym, can’t afford exercise equipment, or have physical limitations that prevent you from doing certain activities, there’s still a fitness video for you. It couldn’t be cheaper or more convenient. That combined with my love of the convenience of online shopping, it’s easy to see why I love the following sites for providing fitness videos online:

Check out one or more of these sites or services and share your experience in the comments section below.  To get blog posts as I post them via email, sign up below:

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Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Herb N’ Garlic Brown Rice Pizza Dough Recipe

Suat Eman /

Suat Eman /

This recipe is so very delicious.  I never used to think a dough that didn’t contain gluten could taste so good, and be crunchy and chewy in all the right areas. This recipe, being gluten free, is great for someone with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.  (Please note the adaptations in italics below for LEAP clients.)  However, this recipe is a healthy option for ANYONE, to add some variety to your diet and provide an alternative to the standard “whole wheat” pizza crust.  Brown rice is also a whole grain, so this recipe is not only delicious but nutritionally superior to white pizza crust.

If some of these ingredients look unfamiliar to you, that’s because they may be hard to find at your standard grocery store.  However, they are available at most health food stores.  Bob’s Red Mill is a wonderful company that sells affordable alternative grain products such as the flours listed below.  Bob’s Red Mill products are available in health food stores and at  Whole foods is also another great source:   And, you can shop online at both of these links, a convenience I absolutely love!


  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup 110 degree F milk (soy, cow, or rice)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour or other allowed grain flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour (may substitute potato starch)
  • 2 tsp xantham gum (may substitute guar gum or pre-gel starch) *
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey (or allowed sweetener), make sure honey is room temp
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or any allowed oil)
  • 2 Tbsp additional olive oil for working with dough (or any allowed oil)
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¾ tsp dried basil
*xantham gum is what replaces the gluten and gives the dough its shape and structure


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine milk with yeast and honey/sweetener and allow to sit
  3. Blend brown rice flour, tapioca flour, xantham gum, oregano, basil, and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Add olive oil, vinegar, and garlic to the bubbly liquid mixture.  Combine with flour mixture and mix well with your hands
  5. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes
  6. Press dough onto greased pizza pan (may use additional olive oil) Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove, add toppings, and bake another 10 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

Please comment below on how you like the recipe!


Image: Suat Eman /


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