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"So What Should I Eat to Lose Weight?" hemera/Thinkstock An Overview of the TOPS Preferred Meal Plan W henever people start something new, no matter what it is, they want a road map. Members are always asking, "What should I eat to lose weight?" TOPS doesn't promote a one-size-fits-all solution, but that doesn't mean we leave you hanging. The Food Exchange System guides you to use variety and flexibility in your meal planning to achieve balanced nutrition at a calorie level that is best for your goals. groups are: starch, fruit, milk, nonstarchy vegetables, meat and meat substitutes, and fats. How It Works It's called the Exchange System, beWhat Exchanges Mean cause you can swap any All calories come from carbohydrates, item (in the portion listed) protein or fat. Most foods contain a mixture with any other food item of these three nutrients. The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND)—formerly known on the same exchange list. In the example at the top as the American Dietetic Association—and the American Diabetes Association developed of the next page, a 6-inch flour tortilla may be exthe Food Exchange System, which groups changed for a ½ cup of foods that have similar combinations of carbs, protein and fat. The six main exchange bran cereal or a 1-oz. 16 HEALTHY & ACTIVE 2014 KEY TO FOOD EXCHANGES Fat Free Fruit Meat and Meat Substitutes Milk Starch Vegetable istockphoto/Thinkstock (food icons) "The Exchange System removes the rigid 'eat this but not that' guidelines of other weight-loss plans, but it also requires some work up front by you to get it going," says Katie Ferraro, Registered Dietitian and nutrition expert for TOPS.

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