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The Fabulous Four Challenge

by: Dr. Mary Claire Haver
A small salad next to a notebook/planner and laptop on a desk with the Galveston Diet logo in the bottom right corner.

If you have not tried this tip, it just might change your life… 

If you are struggling with weight loss, especially in middle-age, and you feel that you have done everything people have told you to do, and nothing is working, try this tip: STOP COUNTING CALORIES.

Yes. You read that correctly. I am asking you to stop counting calories, just for a few weeks. Trust me. If you are reading this, calorie counting is likely not working for you. 

Table of Contents

Here are the important facts to remember:

All calories are not created equal in terms of health.

It’s critical to distinguish between quantity and quality. Even meals with the same calorie count might have extremely varied nutritional qualities and have distinct health consequences. Furthermore, nutrient-dense meals like fresh fruits and vegetables have been related to a decreased mortality risk.

Aside from their impact on health outcomes, different nutrients have distinct effects on the mechanics that control your weight: metabolism, hormone levels, hunger, and appetite.

The purpose of this exercise is NOT to become supplement dependent. Supplements are essential to many people, but they cannot replace excellent nutrition gained through whole foods. Supplements are meant to supplement a nutritious diet.  

If your physician has recommended a supplement, continue to utilize this as prescribed, but do not track it for this exercise. The goal of the exercise is for you to use FOOD for nutrition, not supplements.  


1. Go to the App Store and download a free nutrition tracker; my favorite is CRONOMETER.

2. Most of these apps were developed to track calories or macronutrients, and I do not want you to do that.  

3. I want you to track 4 nutrients: fiber, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D.  

4. After you track them for a week, I want you to choose nutrition (not supplements) that will raise you to 100% of the recommended daily intake for each nutrient.  

5. Do not count calories or macros: just nutrients. The tracker should have the recommended daily intake (RDI) loaded into the app. If you currently take a supplement, do not track them. 

6. Not only will you lose weight, but you will gain health benefits that will blow your mind.  

What is the magic? Good nutrition trumps calories every time. 

A graphic with the title "The Fabulous 4 Challenge Instructions" that repeats the instructions from the paragraph above in a visual format.

The 4 nutrients to track and the foods that are rich in these nutrients


A diet high in fiber has been linked to a variety of health advantages. Soluble fiber is found to reduce cholesterol by attaching to bile (which is made up of cholesterol) and removing it from the body. This removal might assist in lowering your risk of heart disease. A high-fiber meal slows food digestion in the intestines, which may help reduce blood sugar levels from increasing too quickly. A high-fiber diet may help you feel fuller for longer, reducing overeating and hunger between meals.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming about 25-35 grams (g) of total fiber per day, with 10-15 grams from soluble fiber or 14g of fiber per 1,000 calories. 

Fiber Content of Common Foods


Bread Serving SizeFiber Content
Bagel (whole wheat)3 1/2 inchesTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Light white/wheat2 slicesTotal fiber: 1 g
Soluble fiber: trace
Pita (whole wheat)7 inchesTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Pumpernickel1 sliceTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Whole wheat 1 sliceTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: trace
Rye1 sliceTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g


GrainServing SizeFiber Content
Barley1/2 cup cookedTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Brown rice1/2 cupTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: trace
Pasta (whole wheat)1/2 cup cookedTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Quinoa1/2 cup cookedTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Lentil pasta1/2 cup cookedTotal fiber: 6 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Edamame pasta1/2 cup cookedTotal fiber: 6 g
Soluble fiber: 3 g

Legumes & Starchy Vegetables

VegetableServing SizeFiber Content
Garbanzo beans1/2 cupTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Kidney beans1/2 cupTotal fiber: 6 g
Soluble fiber: 3 g
Lentils1/2 cupTotal fiber: 5 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Potato (with skin)1 mediumTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Sweet potatoes1/2 cup cookedTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Squash (winter)1/2 cupTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Green peas (cooked)1/2 cupTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Lima beans1/2 cupTotal fiber: 7 g
Soluble fiber: 3 g

Nuts & Seeds

Nut/SeedServing SizeFiber Content
Almonds1/4 cupTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Peanuts1/4 cupTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Sunflower seeds1/4 cupTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Walnuts1/4 cupTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: trace
Flaxseed (ground)2 tbspTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Chia seeds2 tbspTotal fiber: 10 g
Soluble fiber: 7 g
Hemp seeds2 tbspTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g


FruitServing SizeFiber Content
Apple (w/ skin)1 mediumTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Banana1 mediumTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Blueberries1 cupTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: trace
Grapefruit1/2 cupTotal fiber: 1 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Orange1 mediumTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Pear (w/ skin)1 mediumTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Prunes3Total fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Strawberries1 cupTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g

Vegetables (non-starchy)

VegetableServing SizeFiber Content
Broccoli1/2 cupTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Brussel sprouts1/2 cupTotal fiber: 4 g
Soluble fiber: 2 g
Cabbage (green)1 cup (fresh)Total fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Carrots1/2 cup, cookedTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Cauliflower1/2 cup, cookedTotal fiber: 1 g
Soluble fiber: trace
Green beans1/2 cupTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Kale1/2 cupTotal fiber: 3 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Spinach1/2 cupTotal fiber: 2 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g
Squash (zucchini)1/2 cupTotal fiber: 1 g
Soluble fiber: 1 g

Track your nutrition for better results with the Cronometer App.


Magnesium is a mineral found in soil, the sea, plants, animals, and people.

Magnesium is present in your bones and makes up for about 60% of your body’s magnesium, while the remainder is found in muscles, soft tissues, and fluids, including blood.

It plays a role in over 600 bodily responses. Magnesium assists in the conversion of food into energy assists in the synthesis of new proteins from amino acids, assists in the creation and repair of DNA and RNA, is a component of muscle contraction and relaxation, and finally, regulates neurotransmitters, which convey messages throughout your brain and neurological system.  

Unfortunately, research shows that nearly half of people in the United States and Europe consume less magnesium than is advised daily.  

Recommended Daily Dose of Magnesium = 320 milligrams (mg) per day

Foods Rich in Magnesium

FoodServing SizeMagnesium Content
Apple1 medium9 mg
Almonds 1 oz (dry roasted)80 mg
Avocado 1 cup (cubed)44 mg
Banana1 cup44 mg
Beef (90% lean)3 oz (ground)20 mg
Black beans1/2 cup60 mg
Bread (whole wheat)2 slices46 mg
Breakfast cereal (fortified)10% fortification40 mg
Broccoli1/2 cup (cooked)12 mg
Carrot1 medium (raw)7 mg
Cashews1 oz (dry roasted)74 mg
Cereal (shredded wheat)2 large biscuits61 mg
Chicken breast3 oz (roasted)22 mg
Cocoa powder (unsweetened)1 tbsp27 mg
Dark chocolate (60% cacoa)1 oz50 mg
Edemame (shelled)1/2 cup (cooked)50 mg
Halibut3 oz (cooked)24 mg
Kidney beans1/2 cup35 mg
Milk 1 cup24-27 mg
Oatmeal (instant)1 packet36 mg
Peanut butter2 tbsp49 mg
Peanuts1/4 cup (oil roasted)63 mg
Pumpkin seeds (in shell)1 oz74 mg
Pumpkin seed kernels1 oz168 mg
Potato (with skin)3.5 oz (baked)43 mg
Raisins1/2 cup23 mg
Rice (brown)1/2 cup42 mg
Rice (white)1/2 cup10 mg
Salmon (Atlantic, farmed)3 oz26 mg
Soy milk1 cup61 mg
Spinach1/2 cup (boiled)78 mg
Yogurt (low fat, plain)8 oz42 mg


Omega-3 fatty acids are nutrients obtained from food (or supplements) that aid in developing and maintaining a healthy body. They play an important role in the construction of every cell wall you have. They also serve as an energy source and aid in the proper functioning of your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system.

EPA and DHA are important because they are only present in specific fish. Another omega-3 fatty acid, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds.

DHA is particularly abundant in the retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells.

These fatty acids are not only necessary for your body to operate, but they also provide significant health advantages.

According to the American Heart Association, patients without a history of heart disease should consume at least two meals of fish each week (a total of 6-8 ounces). A variety of fish is recommended. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in cold-water wild fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, and herring.

Even if you use medicine to decrease your triglyceride levels, you may need to eat additional foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids if you have high triglyceride levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a fish oil supplement. For individuals with excessive triglyceride levels, 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA per day is suggested. Triglyceride levels have been found to be reduced by 25 to 35 percent when this quantity is consumed.

Triglyceride levels can be reduced using fish oil. You’re at risk for heart disease and stroke if your blood fat levels are too high.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a kind of arthritis in which the body’s joints become inflamed. Supplementing with fish oil (EPA+DHA) may help to alleviate joint stiffness and discomfort. Anti-inflammatory medications’ efficacy appears to be boosted by omega-3 supplementation.

According to several studies, societies that consume meals high in omega-3 fatty acids have reduced depression rates. Fish oil supplements have a mixed record when it comes to depression. More study is required to see if it makes a difference.

The growth of a child’s infants’ visual and brain development appears to be dependent on DHA.

Inflammation, a fundamental component of asthma, is reduced by eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, additional research is needed to determine whether fish oil supplements enhance lung function or reduce the quantity of medicine required to manage the disease.

According to research, fish oil can help certain children with ADHD symptoms by improving their mental functions such as thinking, remembering, and learning. More research is needed, and omega-3 supplements should not be utilized as first-line therapy.

Omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as having a beneficial effect on aging-related memory decline, according to some studies.

Recommended Weekly Dose of Omega-3 Fatty Acids = 2 – 3 servings of fish per week

Amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Selected Fish and Seafood

SeafoodServing SizeOmega-3 Fatty Acid Content
Anchovy3 oz1.4 g
Bluefish3 oz1.2 g
Halibut3 oz0.9 g
Herring3 oz1.3 – 2 g
Lake Trout3 oz2 g
Lake White Fish3 oz1.5 g
Mackeral3 oz2.5 – 2.6 g
Salmon (wild)3 oz1.8 g
Sea Bass3 oz0.65 g
Striped Bass3 oz0.8 g
Tuna (Albacore)3 oz1.5 g
Tuna (Bluefin)3 oz1.2 g
Tuna (white meat canned)3 oz (drained)0.5 g

What if I have a fish allergy or refuse to eat fish?

Although fish is the finest source of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA may also be found in a variety of plants. Although this is not a very high source of omega-3 fatty acids, some research suggests that ALA may help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ground or milled flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, soy foods, and canola oil are all excellent sources of ALA. Algal or algae oil, which is broken down to DHA, is another source of ALA. Algae oil is used in a lot of omega-3 fortified meals. These are fantastic alternatives for vegetarians who don’t eat seafood.

There are no serving size recommendations for ALA-rich foods at this time. However, including these items in your diet can help you lose weight.


Vitamin D is generated in your skin in reaction to sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that belongs to the same family as vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.

When your skin is physically exposed to sunshine, your body generates vitamin D naturally. To guarantee appropriate amounts of the vitamin in your blood, you may also receive it through specific meals and supplements.

Vitamin D serves a variety of purposes. The regulation of calcium and phosphorus intake and the facilitation of proper immune system function are perhaps the most important. Vitamin D is necessary for proper bone and tooth growth and development and enhanced resistance to some illnesses.

You’re at danger of developing bone abnormalities like soft bones (osteomalacia) or brittle bones if your body doesn’t obtain enough vitamin D. (osteoporosis).

Vitamin D has also been shown to fight disease, reduce depression, and aid in weight loss in overweight individuals. 

Recommended Daily Dose of Vitamin D = 600 IU or 15 micrograms (mcg) per day

Foods Rich in Vitamin D

FoodServing SizeVitamin D Content
Cereal 10% fortified2 mcg
Cod liver oil1 tbsp34 mcg
Egg1 (scrambled)1.1 mcg
Liver (beef)3 oz (braised)1 mcg
Milk (2%, vitamin D)1 cup2.9 mcg
Milk (soy, almond & oat)1 cup2.5 – 3.6 mcg
Mushrooms (white, exposed to UV light)1/2 cup (raw)9.2 mcg
Salmon (sockeye)3 oz (cooked)14.2 mcg
Sardines (Atlantic, canned)2 sardines (drained)1.2 mcg
Trout (Rainbow, farmed)3 oz (cooked)16.2 mcg
Tuna (light, canned)3 oz (rained)1 mcg

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This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency room immediately.

The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other institution with which the authors are affiliated.

While the information on the site was prepared to provide accurate information regarding topics related to general and specific health issues, the information contained in the site is made available with the express understanding that neither Dr. Mary Claire Haver,, nor the other experts on the site, nor the site itself, nor members of the Site are dispensing medical advice and do not intend any of this information to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.


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