Benefits of drinking water for weight loss

Monday, February 20, 2012 15:41
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water for weight loss

There are many ideas floating around the nutrition and health world about the role and benefits of water in weight loss.  Some are true and some are false, but before we get to any of them its important to make this first point clear.  By weight loss in this article we mean body fat loss.

This is an important distinction when talking about water because water is heavy and it can account for some higher numbers on your scale, even if you are sticking to your healthy habits and improving your body composition.

When reading about the tips below keep in mind that drinking more water may make your weight temporarily go up, just like dehydrating yourself will make the weight temporarily go down.  These changes are not very reflective of your health though, so wait for a couple of weeks before determining whether dietary changes are having the impact you desire.

Daily needs for Water and Digestion

Every day your body needs on average 3.7 litres of water if you are male and 2.7 litres if you are female.  Let’s put this into perspective: bottled water is usually a half a litre, so a woman needs to drink almost 6 of these bottles each day.  For men this is 8 bottles per day– approximately a full gallon!  If you exercise regularly you need even more.  What is your body doing with all this water?  There are many ways water is used in the body but lets focus on the ones that pertain to weight loss.

It takes your body about 1 litre of water to digest each 1000 calories you eat.  Water travels with food, particularly with protein and carbohydrates.  Water also maintains the balance of salts and electrolytes in your body.  This means that when you eat more of these water-carrying nutrients you will carry more water naturally.  How does this impact your diet?  Read on!

The impact of water in your diet

Fullness

So you are out with your friends for dinner and you have a substantial meal.  How full are you?  Well you might think of your dinner as a sponge.  If you were drinking water with your meal and you feel full afterwards you have a pretty accurate impression of what you had to eat.

If you weren’t drinking water with your meal and you feel full, just you wait.  In addition to the fullness you’re experiencing you will get hit a second time once your meal absorbs many times its weight in water.  This can take some time, so eat slowly!

There are some that claim that fullness associated with drinking plenty of water is enough to stifle a food craving but the research for this is not conclusive.  Water doesn’t stick around the stomach very long, so the effect may be short-lived.   The best bet is to drink lots of water regularly, especially if you tend to drink too little, and especially with meals.

Cravings

On the topic of cravings, water can help when you are in the kitchen and aren’t sure what you’re after.  Having a unidentifiable craving and being in the kitchen can be a dangerous affair that often ends with you eating a lot of everything you own while standing in front of the open fridge.

This is the time to take a gamble: assume your craving is for water, drink down a glass, and wait 10 minutes.  If you aren’t paying very close attention to your body you may misinterpret a signal to drink water (say after eating a handful of salty snacks) for a signal to snack some more.  Water is always the safest bet in these cases because there is no penalty for being wrong!

Focus

As mentioned previously, water caries electrolytes in the body.  These electrolytes are important for brain function, which is partly why dehydration causes headaches.  What you may not realize is that having enough water, just like having enough food, can drastically alter your focus and memory.

This relates to weight loss in a strange but interesting way; when you are more tired, unfocused, and inattentive you are more likely to stray from your healthy habits for the first food-like item in your path.  Keeping your brain sharp by having a large glass of water first thing in the morning can set the course for your whole day!

Drink Replacement

An often unintended but incredibly beneficial side effect of water drinking is that it often decreases the amount of other beverages consumed.  What do I mean by other beverages?  I mean everything from juice to lattes to soda or alcohol.  All of these add calories to your diet and, being liquid, don’t contribute significantly to your sense of fullness.

It can be easy to forget about all of the calories you get from drinks but it’s a safe bet that replacing one of these beverages each day with a glass of water will go far towards achieving your health goals.

Goals

Finally, these goals you have set for yourself can be difficult to remember, especially when you are hungry and being tempted.  Much like Pavlov did with his dogs, you can condition yourself to keep these thoughts in your mind throughout the day by pairing them with something you do frequently throughout your day.  Might I suggest: drinking water?  Every time you fill up your glass it will be a tangible reminder of your promise to yourself.

Tips for improving water drinking throughout the day

  • Have a full glass first thing in the morning
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day
  • Make an effort to drink water with meals
  • Replace water for other beverages you commonly drink
  • Go for water when you aren’t hungry but you get a craving
  • For women: Try to get about 2.7 liters of water a day
  • For men: Try to get about  3.7 liters of water a day

Best foods to build muscle for women

Thursday, February 16, 2012 15:43
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woman building muscles

Gaining muscle always seems to take the back seat to losing weight for women, but muscle can actually help in the quest for weight loss.  In fact, adding some pounds of muscle will improve your body composition- an important factor in determining your overall health.  While you are lifting weights your body is strengthening its bones, lowering your heart rate, and maximizing your lung capacity.  The popular belief is that protein powder is all that’s needed to get ripped, but this is inaccurate (and unpleasant).

Energy (Calories, Iron, and B-vitamins)

The first thing to understand is that strict weight lifting does not require you to fuel up the way you would for a run.  There are some weight lifters who make it into an intense feat- moving from machine to machine and working so hard that their heart is racing and sweat is pouring by the end of just a few minutes, but this represents only a few of the many people who lift weights.

Casual (and I mean not deathly exhausting) weight lifting only requires a modest increase in daily calories because the majority of the hurt you are feeling is you pushing past the load-bearing capacity of your muscles.  So don’t use weight lifting as an excuse to have an extra helping at dinner. Weight lifting can help with weight loss, but not in quite the way people have always said.

Adding muscle does not increase your caloric requirements drastically, but it does do some great things to reduce fatigue during the day- making your goals that much more achievable.

So what do you need as a woman to power your workout?

Iron and B-vitamins are big-time nutrients for athletes.  Iron helps your blood deliver oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.  Women have a higher requirement than men for iron (18mg vs. 8mg a day respectively) and are therefore more likely to be anemic.  Iron-deficiency anemia can cut your workout short by reducing the oxygen carried from your lungs to your muscles.

This means more pain, more fatigue, and a slower recovery.  B-vitamins also do their part by helping your body break down nutrients for energy.  Eating foods high in both of these nutrients can give your body the oxygen and energy it needs to push through your workout, even when things seem their worst. Iron comes in two types: animal and plant source.

Animal source iron is far more compatible with our intestines than plant source iron is, meaning that you need far less of it. For example: spinach is a plant high in iron, but the body can use only about 5% of the iron listed on the label.

Meats are the best iron source, but if you can’t or choose not to eat meat, you may consider supplementing your iron. B-vitamins can be found in many meat, seafood, egg, and diary products as well as in whole-grains.

The absorption of many B-vitamins is negatively affected by alcohol however, so be sure not to drink for at least 48 hours prior to a workout.

Bone Health (Calcium, Phosphorous, and Vitamin D)

You may not think it, but weight lifting isn’t just a workout for your muscles, it’s a workout for you bones too!  For women, bone density and bone growth is mostly decided by the age of 25, long before anybody starts to worry about osteoporosis.

Fortunately, weight-bearing exercises like those that build muscle are a great way to trick the system and store more minerals in the bones while you can.  When you lift weights you will be putting strain on your bones as well as your muscles, and it is important to eat foods that will help to repair both.  For bone health calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are the three to look for.

Calcium and phosphorus are two minerals that aid in bone strength and vitamin D is the partner in crime that helps them get into the body.  Dairy products aside, high calcium foods include oranges, broccoli, almonds, beans, and dark leafy greens.

Phosphorus, like calcium, can be found in dairy products but is also common in beans and fish. Vitamin D, as a fat-soluble vitamin, is found mainly in fish oil from fatty fish varieties.  An easier way to get your daily vitamin D is from the sun.  Fifteen minutes a day of exposure (without sunscreen) is just enough each day to get the Vitamin D you need.

Recovery (Protein, Vitamin C, and Zinc)

To understand muscle building it is important to understand how muscle is built.  During intense exercise we tear some of our muscle tissue.  During the repair, the body adds more muscle over top, making you larger and stronger than you were before.

When you plan for your muscle-building workout you should be planning for wound healing.  There are three big nutrients that are needed for this: protein, vitamin C, and zinc. You usually need somewhere between 80 and 120 grams protein per day just to maintain your body in a resting state.  Building muscle requires even more.

Eggs have protein and many other nutrients; and don’t forget to eat the yolks.  The stigma surrounding eggs, that they raise bad cholesterol, has been mostly dis-approved.  Besides, about half of the protein in an egg is in the yolk!

Meat is also great, but choose carefully.  Go for cold cuts, lean meat, or fish.  If you enjoy beef you should start including lean cuts such as round, loin, shoulder, and chuck. Beef is high in iron and zinc as well as protein.

Just remember that a serving is 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.   Nuts, beans, and alternative grains like quinoa are also high in protein. Vitamin C and zinc are nutrients that aid in wound healing.

Vitamin C helps to re-build connective tissues while zinc is important for growth and cell replication.  Eating foods high in vitamin C and zinc can help speed up the recovery time between workouts.  Vitamin C can be found mostly in fruits (oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries) and vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussel’s sprouts). Zinc can be found in meat, seafood, and nuts- conveniently all high-protein foods!

10 awesome foods for women who want to build muscle!

So here is the run down- 10 awesome foods for women who want to build muscle!

  1. Oysters
  2. Tuna
  3. Lean Beef
  4. Beans
  5. Raisins
  6. Leafy Greens
  7. Oranges
  8. Almonds
  9. Broccoli
  10. Eggs

How To Stop Binge Eating At Night

Monday, February 13, 2012 15:30
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lose weight

So imagine this, you just spent all day following a solid diet plan and you even got in some exercise. However, now its night time, you are bored, your families probably asleep and you are most likely watching TV. You grab a “harmless” bag of potato chips and before you know it they are halfway gone. I have bad news for you, there is a good chance you just ate more calories than you saved all day dieting and burnt off exercising.  This means to an extent you just wasted an entire day and did not move any closer to your goal of weight loss.

What a horrible thing to think about right? But you’re in luck, you were only IMAGINING remember, you don’t actually do that do you? Well the fact is we all have been there before, I have done it, you have done it, and everyone you know has done it.  It is a common problem facing many people every single night, people are more stressed than ever these days and this means they are staying up later , binge eating more and  thus continuing to sabotage their own plan to lose weight.

How to stop binge eating

However, you are probably wondering how you can avoid binge eating at night and save your own diet? There are actually a few simple steps that you can follow to avoid excess eating at night time.

Step 1: Go to bed earlier, sleep is very important in our day-to-day lives and you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Step 2:  If you have to stay up late or find you cannot sleep one night, keep yourself entertained! Boredom is a primary reason people binge eat at night, they just have nothing else to do and find themselves hungry.

Step 3.: If  it is too late for you and you are up later and bored already and find yourself hungry , drink a cold  glass of water first . This may be all you need to feel full again and may even relax you enough so you can fall asleep.

Step 4:  If drinking the water does not ease your hunger at all and you still need to eat, at least make sure you choose a healthy snack.  Eat something such as raw vegetables, fruit, or 100-calorie snack packs.  Even sugarless gum works for many people as it keeps them chewing.

By following those simple steps hopefully, you will be on the road to breaking your unhealthy night time eating habit and keeping your weight loss goals on track.

Prevention is the best way to fight binge eating

However, if you find yourself still wanting to eat unhealthy at night consider taking all junk or unhealthy foods out of your household until you break your habit. Binge eating at night time is regarded by many Doctors and Fitness Experts to be as addictive as smoking , you just begin to do it every night and look forward to that last snack.

Pre packaged healthy snacks are also a great way to keep you on track. Pre package things like raw vegetables, fruits, low salted pretzels, baked chips ect in containers and place them in easy to grab locations so eating healthy is convenient for you.

Drinking water is important

Nevertheless,  I cannot stress enough  how important for you drinking water is for you in your weight loss , a common cause of extreme hunger at night is you are not consuming enough water on a daily basis.  The human body has been estimated to be made up of around 60% of water and you need to be drinking around 96 ounces a day to keep in peak health.  However, more importantly regarding this matter, water also can help suppress your appetite, if you are hungry and drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes, you might find you are not hungry any more  Your body has a tendency to make you feel hungry when all you really need is water.

In conclusion, with binge eating becoming so habitual for many people, the easiest way to stop it is either by going to bed earlier or if you can’t sleep, at least keep yourself busy. If those two tactics cannot keep your hunger at bay then follow the more direct methods I listed above for you.

I hope that with the knowledge you have gained from this article, you will find it easier to stick to your diet during the night and reach your weight loss goals faster.

How many calories you should be eating a day

Thursday, February 9, 2012 16:06
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calories and nutrients

Have you ever noticed with jealousy that you don’t seem to be able to eat as much as some other people?  You may be one of the rare individuals blessed with the gift of eating as much as you want, but more likely you are one of the masses who have to watch what they eat to stay trim.  The first step in taking good care of your body is to know how many calories you should be eating a day.   So take out a calculator and sit yourself down, I’m going to explain it all.  Be sure to keep track of the numbers you get for each step!

Find out your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

Calculating the number of calories you need each day for normal body functioning is the first step in finding how many calories you should be eating a day if you want to lose or gain weight.

Step 1: Weight

Did you know that heavier people often have more muscle mass than the general population?  Any extra pounds make for built-in weight training, which can put tremendous strain on the bones and cause the muscles to kick into overdrive.  Those with more muscle mass, or perhaps just a larger frame, also need more calories each day.  Fortunately, this is one part of your energy equation that you can change by adding muscle or losing weight.

Take your weight (and I mean your accurate current weight) and follow the equation below:

FOR KILOGRAMS: 10 times your weight in kilos
FOR POUNDS: 4.54 times your weight in pounds

Step 2: Height

The influence of height on daily calories is a bit less of a mystery- taller people have inches of body to feed than shorter people do!  Unlike weight this is not something that you can modify.

Find out your high in inches (12 inches to a foot) or meters and use the following equation:

FOR CENTIMETERS: 6.25 times your height in centimeters
FOR INCHES: 15.88 times your height in inches

Step 3: Age

Age has a negative effect on daily calories and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Yes, you tend to be less active as you get older, but also your body doesn’t function as effectively, your cells don’t replicate as frequently, and you have a general lower need for nutrients.  This equation only works if you use your true age, not how old you tell your friends are.  If you don’t know your age, consult a calendar.

AGE: 5 times your age in years

Step 4: Gender

I hate to say that men need more calories than women- even women of the same age, height, and weight.  This step is where you can add everything up:  add your numbers from steps 1 and 2, subtract the number from step 3, and add or subtract the number below according to your gender.

MEN: Add 5
WOMEN: Subtract 161

Step 5: Activity

The number you got in the previous step is called your resting metabolic rate (RMR)This is the amount of calories you burn each day without trying.  These calories go toward maintaining your brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and muscles.  If you want to understand how your daily activities factor into this equation, you need to do some soul searching and think about just how active you are in your day.  Your ‘activity factor’ usually falls somewhere between 1.2 and 1.9 with 1.2 being somebody who is completely sedentary with no daily exercise and 1.9 being a professional or endurance athlete.  Choose where you fall with care- if you overestimate you are only cheating yourself!

SEDENTARY: Multiply RMR by 1.2
MODERATE EXERCISE: Multiply RMR by 1.4
INTENSE EXERCISE: Multiply RMR by 1.75
ENDURANCE EXERCISE: Multiply RMR by 1.9

How many calories to eat per day if you want to lose weight?

You may or may not choose to modify this number, depending on whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.  If you want to keep your weight the same but transition fat to muscle there is no need to change your daily calorie intake.

TO GAIN WEIGHT: Add 300-500 calories
TO MAINTAIN WEIGHT: Add 0 calories
TO LOSE WEIGHT:Subtract 300-500 calories

Take the number you get and try to keep your calories to about that level each day!  This method is not foolproof; using an equation to determine your total daily calories is fine for estimation, but it doesn’t account for your body’s innate metabolism.  The simplified version of this equation (called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation) is below:

MALE:             10 * weigh (in kg) + 6.25 * height (in cm) – 5 * age +  5

FEMALE:        10 * weigh (in kg) + 6.25 * height (in cm) – 5 * age –  161

For example:
For a male age 35, weight 90kg, height 1.80m doing little or no exercise the Resting Metabolic Rate is 1855 calories and the number of calories needed per day to maintain current weight is 2226 calories. Our calculator also shows the BMI which is 27.7 (according to BMI classification the person belongs in the overweight category). In other words if this person wants to lose weight he needs to reduce calories per day to a number below 2226. Let’s say that he manages to consume 2000 calories per day then he will save 6000 calories per month which is about 2 pounds (1 pound = 3500 calories).

How to estimate your daily calorie requirements

Finally, here are some tips for better estimating your daily calories:

  1. Get an accurate and current weight
  2. Be honest with yourself about your daily exercise habits
  3. Don’t try to decrease your calories more by more than 500 a day to lose weight
  4. Speak to a qualified health professional about getting a body composition analysis
  5. Speak with a qualified fitness professional about determining your resting metabolic rate (RMR) through scientific testing

Best time of the day to exercise?

Monday, February 6, 2012 16:06
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best time to exercise

Best time of the day to exercise? Well it depends on what you want to achieve. Different studies have looked at various physiological and exercise components at different times of the day. Although some elements may only appeal to athletes, the time of the day exercise takes place can have different effects.

However, we must be careful not to overestimate just one factor, time for our purpose. There are a number of other factors which will similarly influence the effects of exercise and for that matter the results we will get out of it. The type, intensity, duration, regularity, timing of meals, even geography and not to forget individual differences are some of those factors which will play a role in what results you get at the end. So as a first conclusion, as with most things, there is not one-fits-them-all answer.

Exercise for fat Burning

Does the time of the day matter in burning fat while exercising? It may come as a surprise but yes it can affect what fuel you burn. Before you jump on the exercise horse though, remember it is not that simple.

To the point however, your body tend to burn more fat in the morning. The reason, in simple words your blood sugar levels are at their lowest in the morning after an overnight fast. Your body will mobilise the next available fuel which is fat (amongst others in smaller percentage). In addition, hormones tend to peak in the morning following what they call circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms in summary are changes in your body including physical, mental and behavioural which tend to follow an approximately 24 hour cycle. Cortisol which tends to aid in fat burning is at its highest in the morning as well.

Downfalls: Cortisol is a stress related hormone and as yes it is not the only stress hormone which is high first thing in the morning. Exercise itself is stressful for the body so in combination you could be placing quite a lot of strain and stress. In addition, having breakfast and the type of exercise will influence what fuel your body will burn during exercising.

Best time for exercise adherence

Some studies suggest that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to build a routine and adhere to exercise in the long term. They suggest that one of the reasons could be the fact that by the afternoon or evening people may feel tired and also have more time to find excuses not to exercise. If you find it hard to stick to exercise in the long term then giving it a go in the morning may help in building a routine.

However, morning exercise can be a stressful affair for your body (see above) and also it doesn’t mean that it suits everybody. The best way to stick to exercise is to opt for the kind of exercise you like (i.e. gym, classes, swimming etc) and also to fit it to your own lifestyle and circumstances.

Exercise for performance

A number of studies have compared aerobic and anaerobic performance in the morning and in the afternoon/evening (usually around 18:00hrs). Their findings suggest that performance is greater in the afternoon/evening than in the morning. In general studies indicate that some performance components, such as strength, maximal power etc, are higher in the afternoon/evening than in the morning. In addition, afternoon/evening exercise can induce higher neurological and hormonal responses.

What does all that mean in simple words? Well basically that you are likely to perform better and for longer and some processes in your body to respond better. Although there is, as always, some controversy studies suggest that you may have more physical gains as well by exercising in the afternoon/evening. Basically, some argue that by performing for longer during an exercise session that would normally lead to gaining more by that exercise session. Also with exercise inducing higher hormonal responses these responses could lead to a more favourable towards anabolism outcome. In very simple words you could be getting more muscle hypertrophy.

Keep in mind: Some studies are carried out with well trained athletes and not everything applies to the average ‘Joe’.  

Exercise for better sleep

US physical activity recommendations for adults and older adults. 

The current physical activity recommendations suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity).
Taken from Buman, M.P, King, A.C. (2010) 

A number of sleep organisations recognise that exercise can be an important non-pharmacological component for the treatment of poor sleep. Considering that issues with sleep affect approximately 50 to 70 million Americans annually and an estimate 10% of US population can suffer with insomnia, this can be important.

But what do studies say? Long term exercise appears to have a beneficial effect and to improve sleep. The results about the acute effects of exercise on sleep are not that clear. In simple words don’t expect massive changes in your sleep by exercising just once but you will have to be exercising for longer time. In addition, intensity and duration will also play a role. Exercise session of 2hr and longer may actually keep you awake, as well as exercising less than the current US physical recommendations.

In terms of time of the day, results are not as clear. However, in general there is a notion that exercising to close to bed time could negatively affect sleep. Best time to exercise for sleep appears to be in the afternoon (4-8 hrs prior sleep). However, exercising even in the evening was better than no exercising at all, so if the evening is the only time you can spare don’t drop it.

Exercise for health

The benefits of exercise in terms of health are documented over and over again. This does not always mean that all exercise is good for everybody. Exercising first thing in the morning can place a considerable amount of stress and strain on the body. In addition, you may need to follow a more thorough warm up to make sure all body components are well prepared.

Early afternoon hormones tend to dip and you may feel more tired and it could be that you may struggle through it. Afternoon/evening sessions are suggested to show better health protective results. However, research results are not entirely in agreement and there is not one fits-them-all answer.

In general advise a medical professional before taking on exercise especially if you have pre-existing health conditions and complaints. If your aim for exercising is health benefits advising an appropriate professional will put you in the right direction depending on your personal needs and circumstances.

In conclusion…..

Which is the best time to exercise will depend on what you want to achieve and which are your personal circumstances.

References

Bird, S.P, Tarpenning, K.M. (2004), Influence of circadian time structure on acute hormonal responses to a single bout of heavy-resistance exercise in weight-trained men. Chronobiology International. 21(1):131-46.

Buman, M.P., King, A.C. (2010), Exercise as a Treatment to Enhance Sleep. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Reilly, T., Baxter, C. (1983), Influence of time of day on reactions to cycling at a fixed high intensity. British Journal of Sport Medicine. 17;2: 128 – 130.

Scheen, A.J., Buxton, O.M., Jison, M., Van Reeth, O., Leproult, R., L’Hermite-Balériaux M., Van Cauter E., (1998) Effects of exercise on neuroendocrine secretions and glucose regulation at different times of day. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism.  274:E1040-E1049

Weight Loss Success Stories: Secrets of a traveling dieter

Thursday, February 2, 2012 16:00
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weight loss success

A true weight loss success story and an honest review of Atkins, South beach, Jenny Craig, Medical Weight loss and Weight Watchers.

I have struggled with my weight most of my life.  To top that off, I travel almost every week for work, and I spend more time in hotels and dining in restaurants than I do in my own home.  But I’m still losing weight.

In high school, I victoriously joined the varsity swim and dive team and lost sixty pounds while following a strict meal regimen and an incredible amount of daily physical activity, partnered with an unfaltering amount of willpower.  And as I’m sure you’ve guessed it, as most yo-yo dieters would empathize, that weight crept back up on me.

It’s important that both men and women struggling with their weight understand the diet industry.  This is a multi-billion dollar industry – annually.  If half the items worked as promised, we wouldn’t be overweight anymore.  The industry wouldn’t make billions of dollars any longer because there wouldn’t be a need for it.  And quite frankly, statistics of obesity rates in America would no longer be so atrocious (33% of adults, 17% of children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

I have come to learn there are no true quick fixes that are both effective long-term and sound for your body and health.  As my father has always told me, you did not put on the weight overnight, and so it will not come off overnight.  Unfortunately for most, this is an incredibly daunting and equally intimidating piece of information.   Below are some of experiences and opinions on several popular diets and various diet trends.

The Atkin’s Diet

Atkins DietI would first like to point out that this diet has now been revised, but the same rules apply: low carbohydrate, high protein.  I never noticed any significant weight loss on this diet, and I followed this regularly for months as it was not an option:  my parents were doing this, as well and I was maybe fourteen.  I remember how awful the cravings for sweets and carbohydrates were the first three to five days.  These were probably the most overwhelming cravings I have ever experienced in my life: my mother would make whipped cream with Splenda and sugar-free Jell-O for dessert, and it always felt like there was never enough.

In terms of eating on this diet, it makes me sick to relive the amount of bacon and beef I ate, every day, simply because it was “allowed.”  The ultimate goal of this diet was to put your body into ketosis, which is not a bad place to be, because it means your body is using fat for energy, but one of the by-products of ketosis is a molecule called acetone, that cannot be used.  It is typically the reason why people on low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets have bad breath, and if you’ve ever used a test kit strip to check out the amount of ketones your body is expending, this specific molecule is the reason the strip turns purple when you test your urine with it.

I can see this program working for a few weeks, at the most.  There is no plan for the long-term involved, absolutely no emphasis on physical activity, and unfortunately, with such tight restrictions on what you can and cannot eat (despite what this diet suggests, fruit and whole grain is necessary for specific vitamins and nutrients in your health), there is no longevity to sticking with this plan.

South Beach Diet

South Beach DietI read these books and fell in love with them.  I still cook meals from their cookbooks because they are healthy and delicious.  This diet was designed originally for patients with Diabetes and it works because you’re eating from the Glycemic Index.  The smaller the number on the Glycemic Index, the longer a food keeps you feeling full.  It also means your blood sugar level will not spike, and the idea behind spikes and lulls in your blood sugar level is simple: when your blood sugar level spikes and then suddenly drops, you will feel hungry because your body is signaling a low sugar level.  Eating according to the Glycemic Index, you prevent such spiking, which in turn keeps you feeling satisfied.

I loved that the South Beach Diet explained medical and biological facts in easy to understand, every day language.  This plan puts an emphasis on explaining the how and why your body works the way it does.  For instance, it explains why artificial sweetener, used in excess, is just as bad, if not worse, for your body.  It also explains the difference between fat, saturated, and unsaturated fat, and why using a full-fat version of an item would overall benefit your body as opposed to a low-fat or fat-free version of the same product.  However, as with most plans, it was much more difficult to live life day-to-day while following this diet than I would hope and I gained back every pound, and then some, when I stopped.

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig dietNow, I will admit that Jenny Craig probably has some of the best tasting frozen food I’ve ever had.  This program costs you based on the amount of weight you need to lose and the cost of food each week, which is actually fairly expensive.  You’ll also have to stock your fridge with fresh veggies and a few other staple items, which is going to add to the overall expense of losing weight.  The program is designed to teach you about well-balanced meals, as well as portion control.  And I do believe this is a valuable lesson for any overweight person: let’s face it, you didn’t get fat because you can handle your portions or you know what a well-balanced meal looks like.

This program fails, however, because you are doomed if you have to go out to eat for a celebration, or a work function, or just because sometimes, it’s nice to dine out.  I’d also like to mention that while the portion control is nice, unless you weigh 150 lbs., a single frozen meal is not enough to make you feel full, and while most people believe in order to lose weight, and “diet,” you’ll have to feel hungry, that simply is not true.

I wasted a lot of money on this program, which is regrettable.  I also did not lose nearly what I had anticipated, and while Jenny Craig locations do sell exercise equipment and workout videos, my consultant never once discussed physical activity with me.

Medical Weight Loss

Medical Weight LossAnother program I regrettably spent far too much money on.  This is a diet plan with doctors and dieticians on staff to keep you motivated.  They do blood work, monitor your cholesterol, blood pressure, ketones, etc.  The up-side is getting to cook your own meals.  The downside is the cost of the program (again, you’ll pay per pound you’re hoping to lose) in addition to protein bars, snack foods, and various high fiber, high protein mixes designed to boost weight loss.  These items are pretty tasty, in all honesty, but you are required to eat three, every day, and most of these items are $14, for a box of seven.  So, it’s a very expensive plan.

I loved several of the technicians at the location I frequented.  I did lose weight, as well, but there is a specific list of food you can eat, how often per week you can it said food, and there is not much wiggle room: if the food is not listed on your sheet, you don’t get to eat it.  Period.

I tried almost any weight loss program available…

I have participated in fasts, fad diets (how many of you have heard of the cabbage soup diet?) and I have even tried my own “diet plans,” as well as taking diet pills – a road I will never go down again.  The truth is simple:  people who need to lose weight need help in doing so.  As I stated before, obese men and women did not become overweight because of their knowledge of eating well-balanced meals and understanding portion control.  There is no quick fix for undoing years of what’s been done to your body.  You will have to put in the time and effort, and when you’re ready, it will be worth every tear, and pound, shed.  So, what works for me?

Weight Watchers

Weight WatchersI have been a part of Weight Watchers online for a long time now.  I would not be honest if I said I haven’t gone astray before, but the beauty of Weight Watchers is really learning what it means to be healthy.  There is an emphasis on physical activity that is unsurpassed in the diet industry.  They reward you for being active.  There are Weight Watchers 5k’s to sign up for, as well as a program called Lose for Good, which allows you to give back to the community based on the weight you lose.  They calculate points based on fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, as opposed to only focusing on one aspect of nutrition.  Weight Watchers encourages you to go out to dinner, and enjoy a piece of cake on a special occasion, or eat full-fat cheese instead of omitting it completely.  They allow you to splurge, and drink alcohol, and you don’t have to feel guilty for it.  The learning comes naturally, and dare I say, it’s even fun.   I have met wonderful people on the forums.  I have learned great new exercises and have discovered a desire to be active in my life, and I attribute all of this to Weight Watchers.

All in all, the most successful weight loss programs are balanced.  They put an emphasis on whole grain, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein, but also on healthy fats and exercise.  They are attainable in your everyday life because let’s face it, what good is a “diet” if it doesn’t fit into your everyday life?

How to read a nutrition label correctly

Monday, January 30, 2012 15:17
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nutrition label

If you are seriously interested in losing weight then one of your first steps is to learn how to read a nutrition label correctly. Nutrition labels are in all foods and it is very important to be able to interpret the data from the label and based on that to make the decision on which foods to consume.

For individuals who are trying to become more health-conscious, reading a food label can be difficult.  These tips can help you learn how to read a nutrition label and change the way you eat forever.

How to read a nutrition labelServing size:  The most important thing you will take away from a nutrition label is the serving size.   For instance, look at the serving size and number of servings on a 16 oz soda or a box of cereal.  You may realize that the beverage you have been enjoying at only 120 calories actually has 2 or 3 servings in the bottle or the serving size for your cereal is much smaller than what you pour every morning.  (See also: Easy tips to cut 200 calories per day from your diet)

Calories: The percent daily values on a label are based on a 2000-calorie diet.  If you are thin, small, and inactive this may be an overestimation for you.   If you are bulky, tall, and athletic this is an underestimation.  Before looking at a label, get an estimate of how many calories you should be eating a day.  If you use an online calorie calculator, be sure it factors in your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.

 

For those trying to lose weight, subtract 300-500 calories.  Remember that the calories listed on the box are only for one serving of that food.  If there are five servings in a package and you eat the whole thing, that’s five times the calories listed! (See also: The ultimate list of fat burning foods)

Fat, saturated fat, and trans fat:  After you have an estimate of the amount of calories you should eat a day divide it by 30.  That is the estimate of total grams of fat you should have in a day.  Only about one-fourth of those fat grams should be saturated fat.  None of it should be trans fat.  When a food is well balanced the percent daily value of each nutrient, listed down the side, should be about equal.  If a label has a much higher percent daily value for fat than it has for calories, you have yourself a high-fat food.  If the percent daily value of saturated fat is higher than total fat, beware: the fat in this food is particularly unhealthy.

Sodium:  Generally the milligrams sodium should not be more than twice the amount of calories.  Canned soups commonly have disproportionately high sodium for the calories.  Why to I compare sodium to calories?  Because if you eat a 1200 mg sodium soup that is 200 calories, you have ‘used up’ a large chunk of your daily sodium on a small portion of food.  Are you going to eat unsalted food for the rest of the day?  Very unlikely. People with high blood pressure should consult their doctor, but should usually aim for about 2000 mg of sodium a day.  If you don’t know if you have high blood pressure, or even if you think you don’t, go to get it checked.

Cholesterol: Recent evidence has shown that only about 10% of the population is affected by consuming dietary cholesterol.  These individuals should try to keep the total daily cholesterol below 200 milligrams per day.  Foods low in cholesterol have less than one tenth the cholesterol compared to calories. For example: a 200 calorie food should have less than 20 mg cholesterol, a 300 calorie food should have less than 30.  For those who do suffer from high cholesterol, eating foods enriched with plant sterols may be beneficial.  If you do not know if you have high cholesterol, go get it checked!

Carbohydrates, sugar, and fiber:  If you know about how many calories you need per day, divide that by 8.  That is the total amount of carbs you should have each day in grams.  Divide that number again by 5 and that’s the amount of sugar.  Yes, it’s a low, low amount!  The majority of your daily carbs should not be sugar.  Diabetic patients should consult their doctor or dietitian about carbohydrates in their diet.  Patients are generally recommended to have about 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal.  This is even a good rule of thumb for the non-diabetic population.  If you do not know if you are diabetic, guess what?  Go to get your blood sugar tested, along you’re your blood pressures and cholesterol!

Finally, fiber is very important for health and has been linked to successful weight loss.  About 25 grams a day is recommended and it can be a hard goal to reach, so if your food is high in calories (in the 400-600 range) it should also be high fiber (5 g or more per serving).  (See also: 13 healthy snack ideas for weight loss)

Protein: Protein, like fiber, has been liked with feelings of fullness and reduced appetite.  Some people have decided that this link warrants a diet where you consume nothing but protein and fat and cut out carbs completely.  High protein diets can result in severe kidney damage, so I strongly discourage this weight loss strategy.  Also, carbohydrates are the pretty much only source of energy used by the brain; so if you cut them out don’t expect to be thinking very clearly.

Again, if you know your ideal amount of calories per day, divide that by 20 and you will have a rough estimate of your daily protein requirements in grams.  Unless you are building or maintaining a lot of muscle, try not to exceed this number.  Contrary to popular belief, supplementing vast amount of protein in your diet is not a great way to gain muscle.  Muscle building requires muscle-specific exercises and requires less protein than you might think.  Those with kidney disease should speak with a physician or a dietitian about their protein intake.

Vitamins and Minerals:  The only vitamins and minerals required to be on a nutrition label are Vitamins A and C, Iron, and Calcium.  Deficiencies in vitamins A and C are not very common, however iron deficiency (known as anemia) and calcium deficiency (a risk factor for osteoporosis) are common.  Women in particular suffer from anemia and osteoporosis.  Unlike for protein, carbohydrates, and fat, the levels of nutrients recommended do not change by weight or height, only by gender and age.  Look for the percent daily value and aim to get 100% each day, or else take a multivitamin.  Other vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, and phosphorus may be listed on the nutrition label.  These are great to know when they are there, but are not listed reliably on all foods.

One or two trips to the supermarket along with these tips can be all it takes to become a master of food for life, something that will definitely come in handy in achieving healthy weight loss!

Summary Tips for Reading the Nutrition Label:

  • Check your serving sizes and try measuring them out
  • Multiply all other values by the amount of servings you consume
  • Learn the amount of calories per day that is right for you
  • Calculate the amount of fat and saturated fat you should eat per day
  • If you have high cholesterol, aim for less than 200 mg cholesterol per day
  • Sodium is too high if it is more than twice the amount of calories
  • Have about 45-60 grams carbs at a meal and about 15-30 grams for snacks
  • Aim for only about 10% of your daily calories from sugars.
  • Snacks should have 2 g or more fiber, meals should have 5 g or more.
  • Try to pick snacks with protein but don’t drastically exceed your protein per day
  • Aim for 100% of vitamins and minerals each day
  • Check your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol regularly.  In fact, do it now.

What are liquid diets and do they work for weight loss?

Thursday, January 26, 2012 15:34
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liquid diets

Fast weight loss, no calorie counting and no hassle. This sounds like every dieters heaven and a dream come true. This is also what most liquid diets profess to offer, but is it too good to be true?

Liquid diets defined

A liquid diet is more or less what it says on the box; a dietary pattern which consists mainly of fluids (liquids). There are a number of different ways and patterns in which liquids diets can be followed, depending on who has devised the dietary plans. Some liquid diets suggest replacing all meals with a liquid of some sort and some which replace only some of the daily meals and suggest a low calorie solid meal for the rest.

The liquid meals tend to be shakes, or soups, juices, smoothies or just a dietary liquid formula. For some commercial liquid diets you can purchase their pre-prepared shakes, soups or dietary formulas and often they may also provide some snack bars and other nutritional supplements. There are also the do it yourself liquid diets in which dieters can make their own liquid meals, juices, shakes and etc.

Some of the most common commercial liquid diets (pre-prepared or DIY) include the slimfast, Medifast, Optifast, Hollywood diet, Master Cleanse diet, Cabbage diet and the juice diet. (See also: Most popular weight loss diets)

Apart from the commercial form of liquid diets there are also ‘hospital’ or ‘medical’ liquid diets and are usually prescribed before a medical procedure, because the patient may be unable to swallow solid food, as a supplement to the existing diet or in general for a specific medical reason. Medically prescribed liquid diets vary in their constitution and could be of clear liquids (water, gelatine, broth) or of a specific formula.

The weight loss principles of liquid diets

Well the weight loss principles are pretty much simple and more or less the same for most of them. By eating the recommended liquid meals people consume a low amount of calories through the day. Therefore, they lose weight. Some of the diets do include a miracle or a super food element to them and a number of them also profess on the detox element of following a liquid diet.

Studies haven’t yet provided strong scientific evidence regarding the existence of a super food so I cannot positively and with no doubt say that it is the magic powers of cabbage which will make you lose weight if you follow the cabbage diet for example. Another common claim of the liquid diets is detoxing; the body goes through a detox process by following liquid diets. Based on the detox claim diet loss is either enhanced by effect or is a pleasant secondary effect of detoxing.

However, there is not strong scientific evidence regarding the detoxing effects of diets either. As a matter of fact there is no evidence to actually support a ‘detoxing’ process takes place at all, apart from the one which your liver does all the time.

So what is proven? Most liquid commercial diets tend to consist of 400-800 kcal dietary plans. These diets tend to belong in the category of very low calorie diets (VLCD) which create a calorie deficit and in principle lead to weight loss.

Do they work?

It is quite relevant how well these diets work and whether people do lose weight on them. Liquid diets are not recommended to be followed for long period of time and some are only safely recommended for 7-10 days. A week to 10 days does not usually produce any measurable significant fat loss and most of the weight lost is water and sugar. The result is to put the weight back on quite quickly post dieting. (See also: Do quick weight loss diets work?)

If you follow a VLCD for prolonged time you will lose weight but so you will with starvation which in some cases may be cheaper. However, starvation is not recommended as a safe, healthy or wise way for weight loss and I would most definitely not recommend it.

Studies which have tested some of the commercial liquid diets have produced controversial results. In simple words there is not much agreement whether they work in promoting weight loss and whether the weight is maintained post diet. For some cases of morbidly obese people a VLCD may be recommended as the best solution. However, such cases the risks of following a VLCD outweigh the risks of obesity. Moreover, they should always be followed under the guidance of a medical professional as they can have detrimental effects to health.

Issues involved

As with most controversial diets there are a number of issues related to liquid diets. Here are some of them.

Potential of misuse: As already mentioned liquid diets are usually recommended to be followed for a limited amount of time. However, guidelines and recommendations can often be ignored and people can follow them for longer periods. Well recommendations are there for a safety reason and when ignored the results do come with a potential risk and a number of health problems.

Inadequate nutrient intake: Formulas sold as part of a liquid dietary pattern have improved a lot since they first come out. However, still there is a debate about the limited amount of nutrients they may contain. The lack of nutrients may be more prominent in DIY versions which tend to be based on just one food or one group of foods or if a diet is followed for prolonged periods.

Inadequate fibre intake: Fibre can be an important element for digestive processes, health and weight loss. Quality is as important as quantity, and a number of liquid diets may not provide either of them.

Constipation / Gastrointestinal complaints/complications / Nausea: Constipation can be a side effect due to inadequate fibre intake. But also your digestive processes may be suffering a little bit, thus gastrointestinal complaints can be common. 

Hair loss: Think nutrient deficiency. Our body needs all nutrients including fat and there is a reason for it.

Dizziness: Very low calorie intake can be one of the reasons why people may experience dizziness. You may think you have enough energy stored for the whole neighbourhood however your body doesn’t like sadden changes and it does take time to adjust. Losing a lot of weight too fast is something else which may lead to health complaints.

Regaining the weight past dieting: If the weight lost is mainly water and sugar then you are most likely to put it straight back on. On the other hand is a common diet issues. If you follow a diet for ‘x’ amount of time and you lose ‘y’ amount of weight and you go back to what you where eating before the diet you are likely to be back t where you started.

Moreover, if you follow a VLCD for a period of time your body will try to adjust to that diet. The minute to stop liquid dieting and go back to solid food and higher calories here will come the weight.   

Metabolism slowing down: Look above. You go to a VLCD your metabolism will slow down on a bid to survive. These mechanisms are there for a reason; if you were in nature and there was no food you would need to survive as long as possible. So you could be potentially struggling to lose the weight. In some cases a VLCD may be the only option to kick start a weight loss and research may have shown favourable results for morbidly obese cases. However, this is usually done under the guidance of a medical professional and when the risks of obesity outweigh the risks of dieting, or when some metabolic processes have ‘lost their way’ to put it in very simply words.

No behavioural modification: Following a box standard liquid doesn’t quite teach people how to eat or makes a lot of changes in the eating behaviour. The extra weight got there in some way and part of it is because of specific eating behaviours. Changing these behaviours is what will help to deal with the future and maintaining the weight loss.

The verdict

Indeed a lot of liquid diets may have improved a lot in recent years. However, some are still in the category of ‘fad’ dieting which most of the time is not recommended. For some people it may be that little help to push them into weight loss or may kick start the processes, but for most it may not be a recommended solution. Not all liquid diets are the same and therefore quality of the diets is different between them. Make sure you consult a medical professional, and search for real scientific evidence.

Overall, apart from some specific cases you may be better off sticking to the old fashion healthy balanced diet.

20 ways to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes or less

Sunday, January 22, 2012 17:16
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calories

Do you know that by burning just 100 calories (extra) per day you can lose about one pound per month without extra effort? It sounds good and really is if you manage to spend just 10 minutes per day. This will not be your ‘official’ exercise routine but the ace in your sleeve to get faster results.

Everybody can find 10 minutes per day to work out and there are hundreds of exercises to choose from. You can even do them at home or at a time it suits you better. Most people prefer to exercise in the morning before going to work and this is the best time to exercise. Morning exercises are more efficient in burning fat since your body has to convert fat (from the reserves) to energy in order to deal with the extra requirements and in addition will help wake up your body, digestive system and mind.

Below we outline 20 suggestions to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes or less.

5 exercises that burn more than 100 calories every 10 minutes*

Aerobics, Step: high impact 128
Bicycling, Stationary: vigorous 134
Circuit Training: general 102
Rowing, Stationary: vigorous 109
Ski Machine: general 122

 

15 Sports and activities to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes*

Basketball 102
Bicycling: 12-13.9 mph 102
Boxing 115
Football 115
Handball 154
Martial Arts 128
Racquetball 128
Rope Jumping 128
Running: 6 mph (10 min/mile) 128
Skiing: cross-country 102
Snow Shoeing 102
Beach Volleyball 102
Water Polo 128
Climbing stairs 100
Weight training (super circuit) 137

 

Calories and weight loss

We mentioned above that doing a 10 minute session per day can help you lose 1 pound per month. For those interested in the theory and reasoning behind this statement, this is the logic:

One pound of fat is approx. 3500 calories. In simple terms if you manage to burn 3500 more than you consume you will weigh one pound less. So, if you do a 10 minute session per day (using one of the exercises and activities specified above) you can generate a deficit of 30×100=3000 calories per month which is about one pound. Of course there are other factors involved like loss of water weight so we suggest also reading about the difference between weight loss and fat loss.

5 Tips to make the most of your 10 minute sessions

Plan in advance: 10 minutes is not a lot of time and with a bit of effort everyone can find 10 minutes to exercise. What is important is to plan your session in advance and preferably from the day before.

Be Flexible: You do not have to perform your 10 minute session at the same time every day. Sometimes it will be more suitable to exercise in the morning but other times you may do it after work or even late at night. What is important is to exercise daily and avoid skipping a session.

Improvise: Your goal is to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes and there are more than one ways to do this. You can choose to do the same activity every day or a number of activities during a single workout. For example you can run for 5 minutes and do stationary cycling for another 5 minutes. The combinations are endless all you need is imagination and willingness.

This is a bonus: Do not forget that this is not your formal workout routine but a bonus to help you get quicker results. You should not rely on this 10 minute workout alone but you should still follow a more formal routine for at least 2-3 per week and a balanced diet.

Why not make it 15 minutes? This is not actually a tip for your 10 minute session but once you get into the habit of doing 10 minute sessions why not increase that to 15 minutes per day and get 50% more results. If you follow this approach by making one small step at a time you will soon realize that you can actually do many things and get the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

* Kcal estimation is based on 10 minute sessions for people weighting 160lbs.

The Difference between Weight Loss and Fat Loss and Why You Should Care

Monday, January 16, 2012 17:27
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weight loss vs fat loss

What is really the difference between weight loss, fat loss and muscle loss and should you really care? Does the scale lie or is there a relationship between weight and fat loss?

The answer is straightforward and this is what we are discussing below.

Weight loss – Water Weight – Fat loss – Muscle loss

The percentage of total overweight and even obese people is rising at alarming levels (Around 33% of Adults are Obese and 17% of Children). People are looking for more ways then ever to lose weight and that is fine, but what is not fine is some of the methods people are using to achieve weight loss and how it truly affects their body.

If the average person loses 12 pounds for example, they will automatically assume it was ALL fat loss and this can be a very costly assumption.  When you lose weight or gain weight for that matter, you are changing your bodies’ composition of Water, Fat, and or Muscle. Now I listed them in that order for a reason, water weight is the quickest to change and we will discuss that first.

Water Weight

Water weight commonly refers to the amount of weight in water your body is carrying at that given time and is a constantly changing, considering the human body is estimated to be made up of around 60% of water. Water weight can be affected by many variables in your day-to-day life and can cause your weight loss to be misleading.  If most the weight you lose is from water weight, you will most likely gain it back very quickly and that can be a main reason people are turned off by dieting. Most diets these days actually capitalize on this misunderstanding and promise quick weight loss when all they are doing is manipulating your water weight through sodium and water intake itself.

If you do not drink enough water throughout the day, your body will go into a “survival mode” in which it holds on to every ounce of water it can.  The other major factor in water weight changes is salt or sodium intake, if you consume less sodium you will hold less water weight and if you consume more sodium your body will retain more water weight, sodium directly affects your body’s tendency to store water.

So hopefully by being  more informed on that variable in your weight loss, you can now watch your weight  loss more closely from that aspect  and understand whether the weight you are losing is mostly coming from water weight, which means the weight is likely to come back quickly and is not true fat loss.

Fat Loss

Luckily, the next easiest form of weight loss can be done by losing fat, which is what people actually want to lose. Fat is built up over time and stored around your body, in what experts have coined fat stores.  However, it is also important to note where you actually store your fat is largely dependent on your genetics and this is not the same in every individual.  To target these fat stores and get rid of excess fat you will need to force your body to burn the stored fat as energy. That is what they are there for after all, your body stores fat for later energy use.  However, if you never take any measures to get rid of this excess fat it will just keep building and building.

To lose fat efficiently you need to be in a calorie deficit for the day, meaning you need to have burnt more calories that day then you consumed, if you did not consume enough calories that day your body will be forced to find other ways to create the energy, such as using its fat stores. However, there is more to consider when trying to achieve fat loss through calorie deficits and exercise and that brings us to the final variable.

Muscle Loss

Muscle loss is the hardest thing to achieve and that is a good thing, you never under any circumstance should lose muscle no matter how bad you want to lose weight. Muscle loss is the hardest to do because to lose muscle you need to either be in too big of a calorie deficit (Approaching Starvation) or doing too intense of cardio where your body burns muscle instead of fat.  If you cut calories too much and are barely getting enough to even function, like some extreme diets recommend is very dangerous to your short and long-term health. Most experts have agreed that by following a very low calorie diet you may lose 1 pound of muscle per 1 pound of fat so a 50/50 ratio, which is unacceptable.

The other way I mentioned you might lose muscle is through too intense of cardio sessions. Cardio should be done in a pretty comfortable pace if done for long periods of time and if you do  need to  do intense cardio, be sure to  do it in short intervals , long bouts of intense cardio is very  likely to use muscle as energy and is a big risk to your general health.

How to ensure you are losing fat…

So, in summary the easiest way to make sure you are losing weight in the desired way of fat loss is to monitor how fast you are actually losing the weight.  If you are losing the weight at too fast you are most likely losing water weight or even worse muscle.  A good goal for fat loss is to lose 2-5 pounds a week depending on how overweight you are, but remember 5 pounds for most individuals is the top of the line.

More than 5 pounds per week would be a strong indication that not all of the weight loss is resulting from fat loss and you need to reconsider the methods you are using.  I included a helpful list of weight loss tips below that hit the key points in being sure your weight loss is mostly fat loss and truly beneficial for you in the long run.

1.  Be sure you are meeting your recommended daily servings of water, which is 96 ounces plus an extra 8 ounces for every 25 pounds you are above your goal weight.

(Recommended by theNationalAcademyof Sports Medicine)

2.  Avoid very low calorie diets. Calculate your BMR to find out how many calories you should consume per day just for normal function and never go beyond this number.

3.  Be sure your cardio sessions are not too intense to avoid your body using muscle as energy instead of fat.

4.  Monitor the rate that you are losing your weight at weekly intervals, if you are losing more than 5 pounds a week it is most likely that not all is coming from fat loss and is dangerous to your health.

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