How to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism

Monday, November 19, 2012 14:46
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People often refer to as having a slow or a fast metabolism. This categorization has also been used some times to explain why some people may put on weight easier or slower and /or why they can fail losing weight. Is there such a thing as slow metabolism and if so what can someone do in order to lose weight?

This article will look into some basic metabolic principles and how does energy expenditure (calorie burning) work so as to understand better how to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism.

What is the metabolic rate?

In order to understand what ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ metabolism is and how it affects weight gain, we will first explain some basic metabolic principles. Firstly metabolism is the combination of processes that take place in the body in order to function and maintain life. The means in which we take in nutrients and deliver energy as required is called metabolic regulation.

The rate in which the cells break food into energy (or simplified the rate in which we burn calories) is the metabolic rate. So when people usually refer to a ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ metabolism they usually refer to the metabolic rate.    

Each person’s metabolic rate depends on genetics, hereditary factors and amount of lean body mass (i.e. body mass minus fat such as in adipose tissue). However, it must be noted that in the general healthy population these differences are very small and metabolic rate on its own will not necessarily lead to measurable weight changes.

How does the metabolic rate work or measured?

The diagram bellow is a simplified way of explaining how the metabolic rate works.

An important thing to understand here is that regulation of energy metabolism and body weight takes place by highly complex systems and is not as simple as ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ metabolism.

What affects metabolic rate?

A second step is to look into which factors can cause substantial changes in the metabolic regulation and affect the metabolic rate and what makes some people to burn calories slower or faster. Some of these can affect directly the metabolic rate and others can affect hormones or organs which are involved in metabolic regulation and result in dysfunctional metabolism.

Some of the factors are summarised in table1 below; for the purposes of this article we will concentrate only at the aspects which can cause the metabolism to slow down.

Condition / factor Effects
1. Thyroid dysfunction Hypothyroidism: in simple words is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. One of the effects of hypothyroidism is decreased metabolic rate, and changes in the metabolic regulation. Weight gain can be common in hypothyroidism, not only due to the slowing down of the metabolic rate and the hormonal changes but also as a result of other symptoms. Symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and weakness can lead to decreased physical activity and associated bad eating habits.
2. Genetic conditions / diseases There are a number of different conditions and these can range in the way they affect metabolism and weight gain. However, it is beyond the scope of this article to look into each one in details.
3. Very low calorie intake This could include very low calorie diets, fasting for religious or other purposes, anorexia etc. Metabolism slows down to conserve energy and its own stores. Also muscle mass can be lost which would further decrease the metabolic rate.
4. Sleep deprivation Chronic lack of sleep does not directly lower metabolism. It affects production of some hormones which are involved in metabolic and appetite regulation.
5. Stress Stress affects hormone production which indirectly influence metabolic rate. Stress can have a dual effect. For some people it indirectly increases metabolic rate and for some it decreases it.
6. Menopause During menopause a number of hormonal changes take place some of which influence metabolism. Menopause has been associated with low energy expenditure at rest and exercise and increase in central fat deposit and fasting insulin levels.
7. Age Metabolic rate decreases with age. Some scientist will argue that the decrease in the metabolic rate starts as early as 25 years of age. One of the reasons for metabolic rate changes is the decrease of muscle mass with age.

 

How to increase your metabolism?

1. Consult a medical professional: In cases where metabolic changes and weight gain are due to medical conditions/disorders or you have any concerns, the best way forward is to consult the appropriate medical professional. It is important to receive the appropriate medical treatment for any medical conditions, as these could have serious implications to health if not treated properly. In addition, for some medical conditions it is important to follow the appropriate and recommended diets.

You could try every trick on the book for metabolism or weight loss but if not appropriate you could actually be harming yourself and worsening a condition.

2. Increase your muscle mass: Probably one of the most important ways of increasing the metabolic rate. With exercise is not just a matter of burning calories while we exercise. The more muscle mass we have in our body the higher the metabolic rate at rest. In the average healthy person what makes the difference in having a ‘lower’ or ‘faster’ metabolism is muscle mass (more specifically what is called lean body mass which is the muscle mass and organs).

Any form of physical activity will increase the rate in which we burn calories so you don’t necessarily have to join the gym, simple things such as going for a walk, taking the kids swimming, or cleaning the house can help.

3. Avoid very low calorie diets: As mentioned above very low calorie diets can decrease the metabolic rate (see table 1). In order to lose weight decreasing the calorie intake may be necessary and metabolic rate may show some decrease in order for the body to adapt. The recommended calorie intake is 1500-2000 kcal per day for women and 2000-2500 kcal for men.

These are just guidelines and calorie intake does depend on individual factors such as levels of physical activity, age and body build. For a sedentary person who consumes 3000 calories a day is safe to aim reducing the calories within the recommended ranges. For a sedentary person whose calorie intake is within the upper recommended limits then a small decrease up to 500 calories should be sufficient and safe.

There are healthy ways of decreasing calories or increasing energy expenditure instead for losing weight without having to resolve into very low calorie diets.

4. Do not skip meals: Delaying having breakfast will actually help in burning more fat as fuel. However, skipping meals does not help your metabolism. Some scientist will argue that the body needs both periods of fasting and periods of feeding. This could help in improving metabolic flexibility which is the ability of the body to adapt easily in utilizing carbohydrates (sugar) and fats as a fuel and transition between them.

In very simple terms the systems becomes more efficient. In other words avoid loads of small meals and snacks (healthy or not) but aim to have all the meals in a day (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner).

5. Increase protein intake: Some studies have shown that protein does help in increasing the metabolic rate. However, you do need to include carbohydrates as well as very low carbohydrate intake can have negative effects in thyroid hormone production.

6. Caffeine: Caffeine is considered to increase the metabolic rate and the use of fat as fuel. However, caffeine is a stimulant and can induce a stress response among other negative effects. Therefore, it would not be recommended to have large amount of caffeine especially if you are experiencing other day to day stresses.

7. Sleep well: As mentioned earlier sleep deprivation can affect the body’s metabolic processes. Sleep is important for the body and it does allow it to reset itself. A good night’s sleep can make miracles for your body in every aspect.

8. De-stress: As with sleep, stress can have negative effects, not only for your metabolism. If you are actually one of those people who lose weight when under stress you may be tempted to think that is not a bad thing. Chronic stress can have number of implications to health and could actually result in chronic conditions.

9. Cold: Cold does increase metabolic rate as the body works harder in order to sustain its body temperature. Some people have gone as far to create the ‘cold diets’ in which they recommend to drink iced water and turn the heating off in the winter.

Although in cold weather we do burn more calories, chronic exposure to cold can actually lead into weakening of the immune system and being ill. So torturing yourselves with a T-shirt in the snow or with iced baths is definitely not recommended. Dress appropriately at all times and just simple appreciate that in the winter you will be using more calories.    

Do You Know How to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat?

Monday, November 19, 2012 14:24
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Do you know how to lose stubborn belly fat? Take the following multiple choice quiz and see if you know all there is to know about how to shrink you waistline and keep the inches off.

(1) What types of foods contribute to excess fat in the abdominal area?

(a) Foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.
(b) Fried foods
(c) High protein foods
(d) All of the above

Answer: (b) Fried foods often add unwanted inches to the abdominal area as the majority of their calories come from saturated fat. This type of fat is made from animal products and is also known to raise the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Therefore, fried foods are not only bad for your waistline but for the health of your heart as well. Foods high in monounsaturated fats are actually good for the abdominals if they are consumed in conservative portions. High protein foods speed up the metabolism and therefore help burn fat.

(2) What types of foods should be eliminated from the diet if you want to lose stubborn belly fat?

(a) Eliminate all sugary foods such as doughnuts and pastries.
(b) Toss out any foods that contain trans fats, such as chips from the vending machine.
(c) Remove low-fat dairy foods.
(d) Both (a) and (b)

Answer: (d) – Both (a) and (b) are the correct answers. Low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt or skim milk are actually helpful in getting rid of belly fat as they release fat from fat cells in the abdominals and therefore reduce the amount of fat that is absorbed.

(3) Which food actually increases the body’s capacity to burn calories and therefore reduces belly fat?

(a) Chili peppers
(b) Oat or rice bran
(c)  Asparagus
(d) None of the above

Answer: (a) Chili peppers. Hot peppers of any kind contain capsaicin which increases the capacity for the body to burn calories by as much as five to ten percent.

(4) What is the best way to speed up the metabolism and therefore reduce fat from the belly?

(a) Eat foods high in protein, such as egg whites, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds as well as certain berries.
(b) Consume nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.
(c) Drink plenty of water.
(d) All of the above.

Answer: (d) All of the above. Combined, all of the above approaches work as they speed up the body’s ability to burn calories and therefore reduce belly fat.

(5) When trying to lose weight, it’s helpful to detox the system to flush out any impurities so you can burn fat more efficiently. Which of the following fruits then is particularly useful in flushing out the kidneys?

(a) Kiwi
(b) Apple
(c) Cranberries
(d) Apricots

Answer: (c) Cranberries are specifically helpful in flushing any impurities from the kidneys. In fact, they are often used in clearing infections from the urinary tract.

(6) By adding fiber to your diet, you can significantly lose belly fat. Therefore, by simply doubling your fiber intake, how much weight, on average, can you lose in a year?

(a) 5 pounds
(b) 15 pounds
(c) 10 pounds
(d) None of the above. You can’t lose weight by merely doubling the amount of fiber you consume.

Answer: (c) 10 pounds. It’s been shown that if you simply alter your eating habits and include foods that contain more fiber, you will also see a lower number on the bathroom scale.

(7) Which of the following exercises is the best exercises to lose belly fat?

(a) Crunches
(b) Lifting Weights
(c) Running
(d) Both (b) and (c)

Answer: (d) Both (b) and (c) are the correct answers. Although crunches are good for toning and strengthening the abdominal area, they will not necessarily reduce the fat. The only way to burn fat is by speeding up the metabolism. A cardio workout like running assists in increasing the heart rate and the body’s ability to burn fat and calories.

Used in conjunction with resistance trainingor an anaerobic exercise such as weightlifting, you will indeed lose weight in the abdominal area. That’s because resistance training causes you to keep burning calories even after you’ve completed your session of exercise.

(8) Which of the following beverages will aid in reducing one’s waistline?

(a) Skim milk
(b) Coffee
(c) Green tea
(d) Both (a) and (c)

Answer: If you said (d) – both (a) and (c), you are correct. Skim milk is a low-fat dairy product. Any low-fat dairy product is helpful in lowering the amount of absorbed fat in the abdominal region and therefore reduces any accumulation of fat. Green tea too is a good beverage to consume if you want to reduce inches from your waist as it’s been proven to boost the metabolism and therefore burn fat. On the other hand, coffee dehydrates the system and is not a good choice if you want to lose weight in the abdominal area. It’s important to keep hydrated when you want to burn calories and lose excess weight. So coffee isn’t the best choice when it comes to something to drink.

(9) Which of the following foods is not rich in fiber and not necessarily helpful in weight reduction?

(a) Chick peas
(b) Strawberries
(c) Potatoes with skins
(d) None of the above.

Answer: (d) None of the above. All of the foods listed are rich in fiber and can help you lose weight if consumed in conservative portions.

(10) If you must cave in to temptation, which of the following treats would be best to eat if you want to keep your belly washboard flat?

(a) One or two bites of dark chocolate with almonds.
(b) An ice cream sandwich.
(c) Pork rinds.
(d) None of the above.

Answer: (a) Believe it or not, it’s been found that you can eat a small amount of dark chocolate without any adverse effects. If you wrap it around a protein like almonds, then you’ll even obtain more benefits. Dark chocolate contains monounsaturated fat, which is produced from plants and is an acceptable food to eat provided you consume only a small portion as it’s also dense calorically.

How do you “weight in” when it comes to belly fat? Did you get most of the above answers right or do you need to do some more homework? Regardless of your score, remember to keep a healthy perspective, which is the best way to lose belly fat. You’re already on your way to losing weight if you can maintain a positive outlook.

How much weight should I lose?

Monday, November 19, 2012 8:47
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weight loss scale

The amount of weight each person should lose is partly a personal choice. So in some ways aim to lose the weight you want to lose. For some people it may be a matter of losing a couple of pounds for others it may be a lot more.

If you do not have a personal goal and are unsure how much weight loss to aim for, there are ways to work it out.

Below we have summarised some of the methods, most commonly used to classify people according to their weight and body measurements. These methods can help you determine if you are overweight, obese or even within a healthy weight range. These classifications are only a guide and they do come with their flaws so do use them as they intended; as a guide.

How to set your personal weight loss goals 

1. Do not attempt to lose more than 1-1.5 kg per week

Regardless of how much weight you want to lose don’t aim in losing more than 1-1.5 kg per week. When it comes to weight loss ‘too much too fast’ is not recommended for health reasons. It may sound like a dieter’s heaven but trust me it is usually not good.

2. Do not fall on the underweight classification.

You may be on your ideal weight or even slightly underweight but you know that there is a bit of a tummy, or an annoying big bottom etc. Well maybe it is not weight loss what you should be looking for. Maybe just eating the right foods, or adding some exercise to firm the areas which bother you could be the answer. On the other hand it could just be the shape of your body, and learning to love what you got is even better.

3. The 2 most important things about weight are your health and being happy.

You may need to lose 200 lbs in order to reach your ideal weight but you don’t particularly want to be America’s next top model. Have the weight you feel comfortable with and happy with even if slightly over the line, as long as this does not affect your health. The truth is thin does not always mean healthy.

4. Don’t get obsessed with numbers such as your weight, your body mass index (see below), calories etc.

Firstly being obsessed may not be a good place to be, secondly all these numbers are guides and not a setting stone. You may find that you don’t lose pounds but inches and fat. How is that possible? Well weight loss can be more complicated than just losing weight; your body’s composition can change, as well as other factors.

Body measurements and classifications

Here we have summarized the following, body mass index (BMI) measurement, waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference. You can use them as a guide to help you find your ideal range of weight. It is always best to use a combination of them for a better picture of your body’s weight.

For example, you may be within your ideal weight range but you may have a high waist circumference which could indicate a high risk to specific health conditions. In simple words you could be carrying a high amount of fat in your belly and this is linked to developing some diseases/conditions. Or on the other hand you could be exercising and carrying a lot of muscle which can lead to a high BMI (i.e. very common with athletes). This doesn’t mean you are overweight.

Ideally you can have direct body composition measurements, such as bioelectrical impedance, which can determine the percentage of fat, lean mass, and water in the body. However, this can be costly and sometimes hard to get.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a simple way to classify individuals within ranges according to their weight and height.

BMI does not actually measure or show the amount of fat and non-fat mass in the body.

You can calculate BMI as follows:

BMI = (Mass (kg))/(Height (m))^2

BMI = weight divided by (height x height)

For example: If your weight is 60kg and your height is 1.70m then:

60 ÷ (1.70 x 1.70) ? 60 ÷ 2.89 = 20.76

Your BMI is 20.76.

Once you have calculated your current BMI then you can look on the table below to see at which category you are. You can also look at table 2 to see height and weight recommended ranges.

Classification

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Underweight

<18.50

Severe thinness

<16.00

Moderate thinness

16.00 – 16.99

Mild thinness

17.00 – 18.49

Normal range

18.50 – 24.99

Overweight

?25.00

Pre-obese

25.00 – 29.99

Obese

?30.00

Obese class I

30.00 – 34.99

Obese class II

35.00 – 39.99

Obese class III

?40.00

 

Female Height to Weight Ratio

Height

Low

Target

High

4′ 10″

100

115

131

4′ 11″

101

117

134

5′ 0″

103

120

137

5′ 1″

105

122

140

5′ 2″

108

125

144

5′ 3″

111

128

148

5′ 4″

114

133

152

5′ 5″

117

136

156

5′ 6″

120

140

160

5′ 7″

123

143

164

5 ’8″

126

146

167

5′ 9″

129

150

170

5′ 10″

132

153

173

5′ 11″

135

156

176

6′ 0″

138

159

179

 

Male Height to Weight Ratio

Height

Low

Target

High

5′ 1″

123

134

145

5′ 2″

125

137

148

5′ 3″

127

139

151

5′ 4″

129

142

155

5′ 5″

131

145

159

5′ 6″

133

148

163

5″ 7″

135

151

167

5′ 8″

137

154

171

5′ 9″

139

157

175

5′ 10″

141

160

179

5′ 11″

144

164

183

6′ 0″

147

167

187

6′ 1″

150

171

192

6′ 2″

153

175

197

6′ 3″

157

179

202

Waist –To – Hip Ratio (WHR)

WHR is often used to determine the overall health risk. Increased abdominal fat has been linked with increased risk of developing some conditions. WHR is another simple way of categorising individuals’ health risk according to the circumference of their waist and hip.

It is calculated as:

WHR =Divide the circumference of the waist with the circumference of the hips.

Place the tape around the waist and hips to the areas shown on the picture. The point at which the tape measure meets is the reading of the circumference.

Once you have calculated your WHR you can look at the table below to see if you are within a range which increases risk of developing health conditions. As mentioned it can be used in combination with the BMI.

For example if you are on a normal range BMI but have a high WHR you could be looking at losing weight from your abdominal area (belly). This could be easily achieved with a healthy diet and some exercise. Therefore your weight loss goal could only be a few pounds and even less than a stone but your concentration would be more in what foods you eat and how you can improve the condition of your belly. 

Waist to Hip Ratio Chart

Male

Female

Health Risk Based only on WHR

0.95 or bellow

0.80 or bellow

Low Risk

0.96 – 1.0

0.81 – 0.85

Moderate Risk

1.0 +

0.85 +

High Risk

Waist circumference is a simplified way of the WHR measurement. Just measure the circumference of your waist as above. Waist Circumference it is often used to determine overall health risks in relation to the circumference of a person‘s waist. Waist circumference can be recommended for those people who may be classified within a healthy range with using BMI measurements but may have excess fat on their abdomen.

The table below shows the classifications of waist circumference in relation to the health risk. As mentioned earlier in the case where you need to lose abdominal fat, a healthy balance dietmay be most adequate. In addition you may not be measuring weight loss in terms of pound/kilos weight in general but in inches.

Classification

Waist Circumference

Men (cm)

Waist Circumference

Women (cm)

Risk of metabolic complications

Neither overweight nor obese

<94

<80

None

Abdominally overweight but not obese

?94 and <102

?80 and <88

Increased

Abdominally obese

?102

?88

Significantly increased

How much weight should you lose? 10 tips to help you decide

1. There is not one fits them all answer when it comes to translating measurement (i.e. BMI) with pounds to lose. There are a number of changes that your body will make during a day, a month and even more during a weight loss regime. There are different body types, genetics, ages, and 100s of other factors which are all pointing to one thing:

Everybody is an individual with different needs and circumstances. Even 2 people who appear to have the same height do not necessarily mean that they would have the same weight. Moreover, no one has a stable weight through all their day let along their whole life.  

2. Use the calculations and measurements above to find in what range and category you are in. Are you overweight, in a risk of having a lot of abdominal fat, within normal weight range? But don’t forget they are a guide not a setting stone.

3. Once you have an idea of your body measurements you can start planning on what you need to concentrate on. This could be just losing a couple of pounds to feel more comfortable in yourself, or losing some inches of your tummy or losing more weight to get within a normal range of weight.

4. Don’t obsess over numbers. Above all is your health and satisfaction. Lowering the risk of developing health conditions and being at the weight you feel satisfied is a good place to start. If you are however borderline underweight or your goals bring you to an underweight range do reconsider. Your health is important and skinny does not translate to healthy. Start thinking that maybe you should start loving your own body.

5. It is important to think what is it you want to achieve. Regardless of what measurements say what is your own goal? Do you just want to go down a couple of dress sizes even if you are still in an overweight range? How much do you weigh then? For example if you are a dress size 18 and want to just go down to a size 16 your goal could be losing 1-2 stones.

This is only an example as each person’s body is different. The point is, do think where you want to be. Set your goal and review your progress.

6. Losing weight versus losing fat. Yes you don’t always have to see it on the scales. There is such a thing as losing fat mass but not necessarily translating to pounds but more in inches or sometimes it is not as clear at all. You could be putting lean mass on. Keeping a record of your measurements sometimes can give you a guide of what is going on. But don’t over obsess.

7. This brings us to the point of don’t just look at finding an exact weight goal from day one. Keep in mind that you did not put on the weight in one day so it is unlikely that you will lose it in one day.

If you have quite a lot of weight to lose set a 2 week goalsto start from. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to make long term changes and adapt (this can vary depending on each individual).

Monitor your diet and weight loss and body changes (i.e. lost inches, lost pounds, to hard diet to follow etc.). After that, set your weekly goals and monthly goals. For example you want to lose 10lbs in one month, so you will aim for approximately 2lbs per week. It may be that one week you lose 1lb and one week you lose 3lbs but overall you have reached your monthly goal.

Over the time you will know at which point you are happy with what you have achieved.

8. Do it healthy. I think I have already said that a few times. Well here it goes once again. Being healthy is more important than being thin and thin does not always mean healthy. Aiming for a healthy body state, a change towards a healthier diet and lifestyle rather than stressing about how many pounds you should be is probably a better thing to do.

9. If your weight loss is for mainly health reasons then it is also advisable to consult an appropriate medical professional. A medical professional should provide you with the guidance you need regarding your health and weight.

I know that sometimes physician may tell you that you must lose weight for your health but often don’t tell you how or how much. Insist in guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and more information. It is your health and this is their job.

10. In that matter it is always recommended to advise a medical professional before taking any exercise or diet regime, especially if you there are pre-existing health complaints.

5 Foods to avoid while dieting

Monday, November 19, 2012 6:37
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unhealthy food

In this article I am going to present 5 foods to avoid while dieting or at least reduce their consumption to a minimum in order to succeed in your weight lost and reach an optimum health. I am sure you are familiar with several foods which are detrimental for your health and I may cover some of them, but I hope I will introduce something new for you.

All the following foods can have some harmful effects, so try to avoid all of them and start eating healthier today.

1.         Unfermented soy products

Many people who are committed to having a healthy life style have been convinced in believing that processed unfermented soy products are good for health. Soy is seen as miracle healthy food of 21st century.  The soy industry is a huge business and its popularity and success was the result of a massive investment in marketing.

So what’s wrong with soy and why it’s unfermented products havoc health?

Soy contains natural toxins (anti-nutrients) which interfere with enzymes needed for protein digestion. Soy also contains several substances which interfere with normal body functioning. Just to name few:

•           Hemagglutinin – causes red blood cells clot together, therefore disturb absorption and distribution of oxygen to tissues

•           Phytates – can prevent absorption of several minerals

•           Gointrogens – can interfere with thyroid function

Moreover, majority of soy on US market is genetically modified (GMO) (European soy should be “GMO  clean”, but there is no guarantee due to contamination through natural pollination). This form of soy is resistant to toxic herbicides Roundup; therefore it is loaded with this toxic pesticide. It also contains genes from bacteria that produce a protein which has never been part of the human food supply.

2.         Fructose

A few years back fructose was the healthy solution in place of sugar. Whether it was for weight loss purposes or health purposes (i.e. diabetes) it was used in plethora. These days fructose has fallen a little bit out of favour.

So why should include fructose in your foods to avoid while dieting shopping list?

Scientific theories suggest that in nature foods would not normally contain large amounts of fructose. Therefore the body is not accustomed in consuming too much of it.

One theory of how this happens suggests that fructose has a greater potential in turning into fat in the liver in comparison to glucose (ordinary sugar). In other words when you consume fructose it is more likely to be turned into fat and stored than if you were consuming ordinary sugar.

A second theory supports that fructose is linked with appetite deregulation in the brain. Some fructose based sweeteners used in foods derive from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Moreover, some scientists have implicated HFCS as a possible contributor in excess energy consumption (eating too many calories).

However, let’s make it clear: don’t stop eating fruit. The amount of fructose contained in fruit does not really translate in high amounts unless your diet consists of just fruit.

3.        Trans-fats

Everybody needs some fat in their diet, however, the chemical structure of fat plays an important role in the way is processed in the body and the health implications it can have. Often people connect saturated fats with health risks and conditions, but if there is one fat to really watch is the trans-fat.

Why should you remove foods containing trans fats from your diet?

Well trans fats have been connected with a number of health risks. They are believed to increase the risk for coronary heart disease and components of the metabolic syndrome. In addition, studies suggest that trans fats may exacerbate diabetes as they can increase insulin resistance (in simple words the cells resist the effects of insulin and respond slower or not at all). These are some of the health risks, as the list goes on.

In brief it is suggested by studies that trans fats can cause more health problems than saturated fats. When it comes to trying to avoid trans fats it can be a mind field as most food labels do not list the amount of trans fats they contain. In general is best to try and avoid processed food, fast food, margarines, and deep fried food.

4.         Sugar

I think, these days, just about everybody is aware about the harmful effects of sugar in both the waistline and health. It does make me sad to say that sugar has to go as I do love cakes, chocolate, sweets, cheesecakes…the list goes on.

However, sugar does contain a lot of calories. If your aim is weight loss then sugar is your number 1 enemy and it is definitely one of the foods to avoid while dieting.

In addition, to the high calorific properties of sugar it can also increase health risks such as development of insulin resistance and diabetes. In simple words when sugar enters the system, your body produces a hormone called insulin which one of its roles is to signal to the cells to absorb sugar.

Too much sugar and all the time can lead into producing too much insulin all the time. When the cells are chronically stimulated by insulin they can become kind of insensitive to it which can then lead to what is called insulin resistance and diabetes.

In addition sugar can make insulin to rise in the body sharply and fall sharply which amongst others it can make you feel hungry, irritable, and tired.

One point to remember, when we refer to sugar is not just the one you add to your coffee. Starchy foods such pasta, bread, cereal and pastries are mainly sugars. It is quite hard to remove all sugars, however not impossible. When it comes to bread, pasta and rice an alternative can be to opt for wholemeal.

Moreover, you can replace the morning cereal with a protein based breakfast which can make you feel full for longer and can provide a better insulin response.

If you are experiencing any issues or health complaints with any of the above mentioned is always recommended to consult a health professional before making any changes to your diet.

5.         Farmed salmon

A quite high amount of salmon which is consumed in USA and Europe is farmed. A few studies have looked into the level of contaminants contained in farmed salmon and the health risks these can impose. The studies are more or less in agreement that the level of contaminants is higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon; the question however is what does that mean in terms of health?

Some of the contaminants studies refer to are concentrations of dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB),3 polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and some pesticides. These names may not make much sense for a lot of people; however, the main argument about all these contaminants is mainly that they increase the risk of cancer amongst some other health issues.

Some studies have argued that the level of contaminants in farmed salmon depend on the region it has been raised. For example Chilean and South American farmed raised salmon is believed to contain less contaminant than European farmed raised salmon. A lot of these points, as well as the argument of whether the benefits of consuming salmon outweigh the risk, have not been fully explored and answered.

A solution to the issue could be to aim for either wild salmon or chose farmed salmon which could be less contaminated. In addition, why not try other oily fish which can taste as good and still contain all the necessary nutrients beneficial for health?

In summary the 5 foods to avoid while dieting are: unfermented soy products, fructose, trans-fats, sugar and farmed salmon.

The 17 day diet review

Sunday, November 18, 2012 14:56
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17 day diet review

The 17 day diet appears to be the new craze in the weight loss world. It is not unusual for diets to appear, become fashion and in time disappear or get discredited by professionals. So it will not come as a surprise if the 17 day diet follows the same path or if people start questioning its credibility.

So does the 17 day diet really work or is just one of the many trends that come and go? This article will look at the details of the 17 day diet and review these.

The 17 day diet details

The diet was designed by Dr. Mike Moreno a family practice physician and became popular after being introduced in a US TV program. The diet is mainly available through the internet, and is detailed in the 17 day diet book, published by Dr. Moreno.

The diet is divided into 4 cycles each lasting 17 days which are accompanied with specific diet plans. The cycles are as follows:

  • 1st – The accelerate cycle (Days 1-17). During the 1st cycle the diet plans allow unlimited lean protein (in the form of lean meat including 2 eggs per day), a small amount of oil (i.e. flaxseed oil or olive oil), small amount of fruit and probiotics such as yogurt. Total recommended/given calorie intake is 1200 cal.

Diet plans don’t allow starchy vegetable such as potatoes, processed or ‘white’ carbs (i.e. pasta, bread), sugars and alcohol.

The plans also include drinking green tea and 64 ounces (aprox. 2 litters) of water. According to Dr. Moreno the 1st cycle is like a cleansing period in which the body clears sugar and toxins from the blood. It also promotes rapid weight loss and fat-burning, discouraging fat storage. It promises weight loss of 10-12 pounds.

  • 2nd – The activate cycle (Days 18-34). During the 2nd cycle the diet plans decrease the amount of fat into 1 serving and introduces ‘healthy carbs/starches’. Examples of Dr. Moreno classifies as healthy carbs/starches are legumes, brown rice, bulgar and sweet potatoes. The average calorie intake is around 1500 cal.

What is important in this cycle is ‘calorie cycling’. What is classified as calorie cycling here is alternating low calorie days with high calorie days. The theory is that this calorie yo-yo’ing will confuse the body and will keep the metabolism guessing. In result the ‘confused’ metabolism will not slow down and weight loss will not plateau.

  • 3rd – The achieve cycle (Days 35-51). During the 3rd cycle the diet plan expands and allows a large variety of fruit, vegetables, proteins, fats and starches/carbs. Protein is restricted to the size of a sponge.

The cycle also allows 100 calorie snacksand a serving of alcohol.

  • 4th – The Arrive cycle (days 52-life). The 4th cycle is the maintenance cycle which is meant to last a lifetime. The diet plan is to just follow plans from cycles 1, 2 and 3 through the week. At the weekend the plans allow 1-2 favourite meals (eat what you like) and 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day.

The recommendation given is splurge but do not binge. The theory is that in his way dieters can keep in track with their weight and it will be easier to pick up on Monday from where they left off. The last cycle is considered to be the weight stabilisation cycle. Dieters are advised weighing themselves once a week and if they have gained 5 pounds to go back to the 2nd cycle and diet until they lose the weight.

The theory behind the 17 Day Diet

According to Dr. Moreno the diet will guarantee fast, radical and sustainable results. The theory behind it is that:

  • By breaking down the diet in 17 day cycles dieters will not feel bored and are more likely to comply with the diet. In addition the body takes approximately 17 days to adapt therefore each cycle is 17 days.
  • A 2nd aspect is calorie cycling and tricking the body and the metabolism. By calorie cycling the metabolism will not slow down and therefore weight loss will not plateau.
  • The diet will give the basis for healthy eating and healthy lifestyle so when dieters arrive in the 4th cycle they will just practice what they learned from the previous 3 cycles.
  • The diet is also accompanied with a 17 min exercise workout which will aid in both weight loss and healthy living.
  • Dr. Moreno is citing a scientific research which supports that fast weight loss has more sustainable results than slow weight loss.

The facts

  • It is not a very bad diet. It has some principles for healthy eating and lifestyle, such as don’t eat junk food, and do eat fruit and vegetable combined with exercise. Some people do like to follow a specific diet when trying to lose weight, and in comparison to some other diets available in the market, it is not too bad.
  • However, it is not something new. The Dukan diet has a similar 4 phase outlook and structure. Phase 1 or cycle 1 in all those diets involve a very low carbohydrate high protein plan. There is some scientific evidence to actually support that higher protein diets are better for health than higher carbohydrate diets. However, very low carbohydrate diets are not recommended. There are healthier options when choosing carbs, such as legumes instead of bread or pasta and can be as healthy if included in a diet.
  • Indeed the body does take about (±) 2 weeks to adapt completely to changes. So if transferring from a high carb to a very low carb diet there will be some effects until the body adapts. Dieters can expect to feel tired, have cravings for sugar, feel irritable and have possible mood swings. Therefore, following the 1st cycle can be a challenge for some people. Lowering carbohydrates gradually may be easier and more feasible.
  • Depending on the level of exercise, an adequate amount of carbohydrates should be taken. Exercise does not necessarily require large amounts of carbs as years ago used to be believed. However, if involved in intensive exercise, eating some carbs is important.
  • The 1st cycle is predominately a low calorie diet. Yes the body shifts into burning more fat during a low carb diet, however, during the 1st week most of the weight lost will be water mainly with some fat and protein. Needing time to adapt means that the body needs those 2 weeks to adapt before making long term metabolic changes. In addition, any low calorie diet would result in weight loss.

The 1200 kcal could be for some people within a safe range however, calorie intake can depend on body build, age, gender and levels of physical activity. For example men in general have higher calorie ranges and for some 1200 kcal may be too low.

  • Some research does show that in obese and morbidly obese people, very low calorie diets and fast weight loss can be more effective and can show better results. However, if obese and/or morbidly obese, taking on radical changes such as following a very low calorie, very low carb diet can be a shock to the body. It is recommended that a doctor, medical professional and/or a registered dietician, as there may be high risks for health.

In terms of overweight people there is no sufficient scientific evidence that fast weight loss can have better results. I must note that the research Dr Moreno has cited in his book is regarding obese women and not overweight. In general, fast weight loss is not recommended.

  • Some studies have shown positive effects and some have studies have suggested that there may be links to negative long term effects to health.
  • The diet appears to promote a long term obsession with dieting and weight. It does recommend dieters weighing themselves once a week and if they have gained 5 pounds to go back into dieting. This constant preoccupation with weight and dieting is surely not a healthy behavior.
  • It is probably much better for people to commit themselves in changing behaviors and eating habits rather than follow a lifelong diet. Finding the reasons why one may have put on weight and changing those behaviors and reasons could have long term sustainable results. If for some people it works to follow the diet in order to make those changes could be as effective. However, I would not recommend lifelong weight and dieting obsession. Balanced diet, moderately lowering calorie intake, and increasing physical activity is as good and safe option for losing weight.
  • As with every weight loss programsif suffering from any medical/health conditions and complaints always consult a medical professional before starting any diet. The 17 day diet would not be recommended for people who may have kidney problems/complaints, diabetics, pregnancy, high uric acid such as gout. If in any doubt or if you have any concerns always consult a medical professional.

Why I am not losing weight?

Sunday, November 18, 2012 14:44
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not losing weight

I have been able to lose 13.5 pounds. I am having trouble going below 200 pounds. I have been eating 1,000-1,100 calories daily and walking 2 to 2 1/2 miles per day. I do not understand why I am not losing weight. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you so much!!

Thank you for your question. In theory with what you are doing you should be losing weight, however, there could be a couple of reasons for weight loss to have slowed down. I have listed a few things for you in order to answer your question.

1st I would advise to check with your doctor for any hormonal problems such as thyroid dysfunction and possible underlying diabetes. Excess weight can be connected with hormonal imbalances or possible first stages of type 2 diabetes. If you haven’t had all these checked I would highly recommend it. Such issues can slow down weight loss or they could be the reason you cannot lose any more weight. In such case your doctor will be able to advise you in terms of treatment and appropriate diet.

2nd Make a diary of the foods and drinks you eat for about a week. It could be little things which you may not have accounted for such as fizzy drinks (coke, lemonade), sugary milky coffees, alcohol etc. which can carry a lot of extra calories. From your diary you can see if indeed there are things which were adding to your calorie intake and you can adjust your diet accordingly.

3rd You have lost quite a lot of weight so far. Was that done over a long period of time or quite quick? Sometimes the heavier we are (especially passed the overweight range) the more difficult it is to lose that little bit of extra weight. It could be that your body reached a plateau and is straggling to gain the momentum it needs. Some research has shown that for some people with a lot of excess weight is best to follow a very low calorie diet. But before you consider following a radical diet have a check with your doctor (1st point as well as if it would be safe for yourself). Very low calorie diets can be hard to follow and can put considerable strain to the body. In addition, if you do follow a very low calorie diet, make sure that:

  • Consult your doctor and make sure is safe, appropriate and that there are no underlying medical issues.
  • You have a varied nutrient intake. Aim for a diet that has a higher protein intake and lower carbohydrate intake. Keep some carbs for your walking.
  • Don’t follow it for very long period. Use a very low calorie diet to help your body gain momentum in losing weight and not as a very long term prospective.
  • Account that you are doing some walking and should have an appropriate calorie intake for it.
  • If you do lose some more weight increase your physical activity/exercise and slightly increase your calories to have enough energy for exercise.
  • If you do opt for as low as 500 kcal a day best not to do any high intensity exercise.

4th Make sure you do not skip meals. I understand that you do consume an average of 1000 kcal per day, however, if you have breakfast and nothing else all day for 10 hrs until the night you could be slowing down your metabolism. You would still use some of your own reserves for fuel but your body will try to hang on to as much as it can as it feels that is starving through the day.

It is best to have all 3 meals through the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner). You can try to delay breakfast in the morning to increase fat burning but do have it. Also have a protein based breakfast which helps in felling full for longer. Moreover, you could add green tea to your diet which has been linked with increasing metabolism and aiding weight loss.

However, don’t expect that you will lose loads of weight with just drinking green tea. It just helps in combination with everything else to increase weight loss.

5th Try splitting your ‘walking’ into 2 sessions instead of one. Some studies suggest that by having 2 sessions of exercise can increase metabolism. It may be helpful to add some resistance exercises as well. Don’t have to go to the gym just adding a couple of exercises for 10 min such as bicep curls could help. I would not recommend lifting heavy weights or doing squats as it can put extra strain to your knees and back and lead to injury.

Light weights, and to your ability. In general just try to keep physically active through the day with things such as cleaning the house, walk to the shops instead of taking the bus etc. However, if you do follow a very low calorie diet do not increase your exercise.

I hope these few steps help to put you in the right direction. If you have any further questions please do contact me again.

Weight loss with crash diets, is it possible?

Sunday, November 18, 2012 8:23
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crash diets

Is weight loss with crash diets the same as looking for gold at the end of a rainbow? Wouldn’t be great if we could eat whatever we liked and when we did need to lose weight, we could pick up a miracle diet follow it for a week and get results in our doorstep. Wouldn’t be great if there was a bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow as well? Well for a lot of the available crash diets that’s more or less the case. I am holding my breath for the one diet that I might have missed.

Crash diets explained

There are actually hundreds of different crash diets in the market and it is beyond the scope of this article to look into each and every one of them. Crash diets are usually of restricted calorie intake and aim in achieving radical weight lossin a small period of time. Such diets are usually fasting diets sometimes combined with exercise and are often accompanied by supplements, diet pills or laxatives.

It is very common for crash diets to be based on a fruit or vegetable which is meant to have unique weight loss powers. Examples of such diets are the cabbage, grapefruit and the acai berry diets. In general a lot of the crash diets are based in extreme eating habits such as drinking only juice (juice diet), or ingesting a tape worm (the tape worm diet, yes it is real).

Although crash diets are predominately short in duration (usually 3- 10 days) some may advocate that they can be followed for longer or follow a cyclical pattern such as one week on one week off . Crash diets have in general been criticised as being unrealistic, unhealthy and that there isn’t such thing as quick weight loss. However, there are testimonies from people who swear they lost the weight and it is the best thing on earth. So what is the truth, and do crash diets actually work?

Crash diets: the theories answered

Each crash diet has its own theory behind it. In this part I will look at some of these theories and provide an answer for each.

Theory 1: In some simple terms one theory is that if you radically reduce calorie intake you will lose weight.

Well that is partly true. By reducing calorie intake the body will mobilise its stores to use for the energy it requires. In order to lose weight there will have to be a negative energy balance, which means that the calorie intake should be less than the calories used by the body. It must be noted that in real terms this is a little bit more complicated than that and there are a number of factors that can influence the metabolic processes of the body such as medical conditions, and stress. But we will accept for the purposes of this article that this is in part true for the average healthy person who sleeps well and is stress free.

However, what is important to remember is the process in which the body will start using its energy reserves. Even if complete starvation takes place the first thing the body will start using is its glycogen stores (sugar stores) from the liver and the muscles. It will then start mobilising some fat and protein and within all the process it will lose a lot of water as well. The body does use some fat throughout the day anyway, but to it does need more time to adjust in burning solely fat once glycogen has started finishing.

Protein is the most important thing so it will try to save it as much as it can. It will use some protein in the process but it will indeed try to spare it for as long as possible. What does all that mean in terms of weight loss? In the first phase (about 1 week) of fast like dieting what you lose is glycogen loads of water and some fat. In general the amount of fat lost is not measurably significant.

So yes you will lose pounds but is mostly glycogen and water with a small amount of fat. In addition, metabolismwill start to slow down quite quickly so by the end of a week you will be burning even less energy.

Theory 2: The fruit/vegetable/supplement has unique properties and causes the body to lose weight very fast.

Whether is acai berry, or cabbage, or grapefruit or a juice from Mars there are not sufficient scientific evidence to show that either of these induces weight loss. Some studies which may be available are of poor quality and results are highly questionable. Some of the fruit may have different nutritional properties such as acai berry is an antioxidant and is no doubt that they may have positive effects in health. However, this is a different matter and not always related to weight loss.

To my knowledge these which have shown results in some scientific studies in aiding weight loss are green tea catechin and dietary calcium on its own or in combination with vitamin D (basically from food and not as a supplement). However, do not expect to drop dress sizes with just drinking loads of green tea. A healthy and appropriate weight loss program will be needed in combination.

Theory 3: The diet plan will change the body’s metabolism achieving weight loss and it will be all from fat.

Well there are ways to alter the metabolic processes and increase the metabolic rate (rate by which we burn calories). However, for any long term adjustments to take place (example retraining your body to burn fat more efficiently) do take around 2 weeks. Each person may react differently and may take slightly longer or slightly quicker in making such biological adaptations but at average 2 weeks is the time required. A 3 day crash diet is unlikely to induce such long term changes.

It is true that your body will start adapting to extreme conditions almost immediately. The word is start and in extreme conditions it will adapt for survival. For instance in starvation or fasting style diets the body will start to make metabolic changes in the 1st 8 – 10 hours after the last meal. If no food is being ingested as the day goes on changes will continue to be made with survival in mind.

In addition, the body can learn/adapt to burn more fat as fuel however, there is no such thing as burning only fat. We use a combination of fuels all the time. We can use one kind of fuel more or less according to the activities we carry out and our diet among other factors.

Theory 4: Fast weight loss with crash diets is healthier and safe.

There is not a yes or no answer for this. It is true that some studies have shown that obese people who achieve fast weight losshad better long term results in sustaining the weight loss and in terms of health. It is also true that a number of studies suggest that crash diets can lead to weight fluctuations related to yo yo dieting and have been associated with a number of health complaints and risks.

What is important to consider is what kind of diet is used and if someone is obese or not. There are major differences from biological to general health between obese/morbidly obese and just overweight people. It is often the case in obesity that health risks deriving from obesity outweigh the health risks of a fast weight loss.

However, in either case I would not recommend to follow a crash diet just because you read somewhere that research says is better. Always consult a medical professional especially if there are any other medical conditions and complaints present. It could well be that the strain put on your body trying to deal with food deprivation is high and risky.

I would definitely argue that a crash diet such as the tape warm diet is not healthy or safe for anybody regardless of body size, age, or any other factor in the world. This is just an example to actually say that some diets are far from healthy or safe. Some very low calorie diets may be recommended for some situations, but it is usually advised to try and include a variety of foods and nutrients.

Also some of these diets are only meant to be followed for a very small period of time. They are not designed for longer as they may not be healthy or safe. If you are not getting results from a 1 week diet does not mean that you need to do it longer but that it is actually not working. Maybe it is true that you will not lose 1 dress size in a week. Moreover, restrictive and very low calorie diets have been associated with musculoskeletal complaints, and can lead to suppression of the immune system leading to high risks of contracting illnesses and infection.     

Theory 5: The diet is cleansing, detoxifying, as nature intended, healing, will aid digestion.

There are not actually sufficient scientific evidence to support that detoxing or cleansing the body has any health benefits. The body has its own mechanisms to filter and remove toxins. In addition, some of the theories in which foods are ‘toxins’ for the body and which are ‘healing’ foods are not based on scientific evidence.

Diets which are very restrictive in what kind of foods they allow such as just juice diets could lead in nutrient deficiencies. Very restrictive diets which are recommended for long periods have been connected with vitamin A, vitamin C and amino acid deficiencies. All nutrients are vital for the body, including fat. Nutrient deficiencies are far from ‘healing’ or ‘healthy’ for the body.

In addition some of these fasting/only liquids diets can lead to gastrointestinal complaints. Suffering from diarrhoea is not a form of detoxifying or aiding digestion or ‘the way nature intended’.

In simple words the benefits gained from a crash diet are not usually sufficient enough. Any weight lost will be mostly water and it will be gained back very quickly. If someone wants to use a crash diet to lose that inch to fit in that dress/trousers etc yes it is possible as long as you are aware that is not actually loads of fat what you are losing.

How to lose weight if you have PCOS?

Sunday, November 18, 2012 8:08
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how to lose weight

We got the following question from a reader: How to lose weight if you have PCOS. I have POCS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and I need to lose 15 pounds in 6 months. It is so hard to lose weight with this condition. What diet should I use and what else can I do?

I assume that by saying you have PCOS you mean polycystic ovary syndrome. I am sure that your doctor will have filled you in about details of the condition. It has some genetic basis but research is unsure to what extent women are born with it. Overweight and obesity have been related with developing the condition as well as family history of type 2 diabetes. Studies support that there is a relationship between developing symptoms of PCOS and insulin resistance.

In very simple terms insulin resistance means that the hormone insulin is less effective in stimulating the body cells. Insulin is involved in the metabolism of sugar in the body, by stimulating the cells to take sugar from the blood and use it for energy or store it among other things. Due to the high risk and the links to diabetes it is quite important to try and keep your blood sugars to a low level and stable (within normal ranges).

You would benefit from reducing your calorie intake, and increase exercise to achieve weight lossand improve insulin sensitivity and sugar metabolism. I would very much suggest following a lower carbohydrate – higher protein –lower fat diet. Below are some of my suggestions:

1. Decrease your calorie intake.

If you find it easier to follow a specific structured diet I would recommend choosing one which is a higher protein – lower carbohydrate diet. Such diets are the zone diet (or 30-40-30), the new Atkins diet and the Dukan diet. I am sure that you will find a plethora of other high protein diets available, however, avoid the ones which tend to cycle calories or carbs (i.e. one day high carbs – one day low carbs or one day high calories – one day low calories cycling). Your aim is to achieve stable and low blood sugar levels which ‘cycling’ or fluctuating calories/carbs diets don’t particularly do.

I find the ‘New high protein diet book by Dr Charles Clark and Maureen Clark quite good. It has a number of recipes and lists of foods for meals which you can choose from. If you are not a person to follow an organised diet to the letter the book can be quite useful. This is a suggestion, as there are a number of high protein recipe books which you can pick up from anywhere if you need meal ideas.

2. Avoid the so-called crash diets.

In a general manner whether you do it yourself or follow a specific style diet, what you are aiming for is to have meals which contain protein, small amount of fat and small amount of carbohydrates. Examples of protein are: red meat, chicken, fish, dairy products such as cheese, and eggs.

Examples of carbohydrates are: bread, pasta, potatoes, cakes, sugar and pastries. Choose complex carbohydrates instead of refined carbs i.e. whole meal instead of white bread and pasta. If you look at food labels aim for those with low Gl or GI (glycemic load and glycemic index respectively). If you can try avoid large amounts of bread, pasta etc all together. Opt for legumes which have a lower amount of carbs and for vegetables, salad and fruit instead. If you can’t live without bread etc. as I said opt for wholemeal and have only one slice per meal.

In terms of fat intake, try to lower the amount of fat as well. Best avoid trans fats all together which are found in processed foods, hydrogenated oils such as vegetable oils, crisps, margarine, fried foods etc. Well in general do avoid takeaways, fried foods, fast food and junk food sweets and snacks. I would not suggest going for low fat versions such as low fat version of a cheese.

Opt for cheeses which are lower in fat anyway such as cottage cheese or if you have full fat cheese have a smaller portion. Also avoid fruit yogurts as they may have more sugar, but if you are going to choose between a cake and a fruit yogurt the later is better or add some fruit to plain yogurt and half a spoon of honey even better. Find those combinations that work better for yourself. Do opt for healthier fats such as those found in avocados, oily fish, nuts, olive oils etc. They are beneficial for health.

3. Lower your calorie intake.

Keep a diary of what you eat and drink for a week. This will help you see which foods/drinks you can avoid in your diet and also find calories you are consuming which didn’t think were there. Things such as fizzy drinks and sugary milky coffees and hot drinks contain quite a lot of calories and sugar. Have no sugar in your coffee if you can help it, or have a green tea instead and only one coffee a day.

In average females need 1500 – 2000 Kcal per day. The amount of calories will depend on amount of physical activity and exercise, fitness, build, age etc. In general terms 1200 – 1500 kcal is a safe range for dieting. Don’t go hungry though and don’t over decrease your calorie intake to start off. I understand that it may be difficult to lose weight with PCOS.

Try with a moderate calorie reduction and if you see that it is not working then consult your doctor for the option of going on a very low calorie diet. In some cases a very low calorie diet may be recommended especially if health risks due to weight are present. However, it should be your last option as it can be very hard to follow and can place a lot of stress to your body as well as it may carry some health risks.

4. Be realistic in your weight loss expectations.

You will lose some fat in the first 2 weeks but majority of the weight loss is water, glycogen (stored sugar) and some protein. It does take 2 weeks approximately for the body to adapt to diet and metabolic changes so don’t give up if you don’t see massive results at first. Allow 2-3 weeks and then evaluate your diet.

How much weight have you lost, how do you feel and how difficult is it. If you are used to having a high carbohydrate diet you may experience some craving and mood changes in the first 1-2 weeks. Your body is used to having carbs and it will miss it. Be prepared for it. Find things you can do to distract yourself like a hobby or go for a walk.

Set realistic weight loss goals for each week/month. There is not point setting your weight loss for a stone per month as if you are not going to reach it you will be very disappointed and you may lose your diet momentum. Set it low and if you do lose more, then it is a bonus and you can reward yourself. An average of 0.5 – 1kg per week is within a healthy range for weight loss. However, it does depend on each individual, and also you may find that you may get some good results at first and maybe reach a plateau or straggle at the beginning and then gain momentum. Each person is different.

5. Our bodies burn mainly fat first thing in the morning after an overnight fast, when blood sugar levels are low.

If you can delay having breakfast even for 30min you extend the time by which your body burns fat. Also if you have a protein breakfast it will make you feel full for longer and you will avoid having sugar craving between meals.

6. If you can avoid snacks is the best thing.

However, if you find yourself feeling peckish between meals opt for healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetable sticks or a handful of dried fruit and nut. Dried fruit and nuts are very nutritious but can contain a lot of calories so do keep it to just a handful.

7. Exercise.

It will improve your blood sugar levels, health and increase weight loss. Choose an exercise workout which will suit you. An all over body work out is always better. If you do go to a gym you can get advice from one of the trainers and they should be able to show you an easy and appropriate workout. It doesn’t have to be for hours upon end. As little as 30min a day, 4 times a week should be enough to yield some results. If you can do more exercise the better. If you cannot go to the gym you can try walking, running, cycling, swimming.

You can get some small weight to use at home and do some upper body exercises and some leg, bum and tummy exercises. Is always best to consult an exercise professional to show how to perform exercises correctly as incorrect technique can lead to injuries. A professional can also tell you what your level is as he/she can assess your fitness level.

In terms of increasing fat burning is best to do resistance exercise first (i.e. weights) and aerobic after. An example of a very simple workout can be: 5min warm up mobilising all joints upper and lower body. You could even worm up by hovering the house or tidying up. Start with low weights (i.e. 1kg) do 5x bicep curls for each arm, 30 sec rest, 10 arm circles (no weights) in each direction, 5x each leg prone swimming (from Pilates) and 10 crunches. Then go for a 15min brisk walk; that could be to the shops or around the block. Alternatively if you have stairs go up and down the stairs a couple of times.

This is just an example of a 30min workout. Is always best to consult an exercise professional who can assess your fitness level and ability and also health status (i.e. health questionnaire); this will ensure that the appropriate exercises and at correct level and technique are provided.

Before you follow a diet or exercise regime consult a medical professional especially if there are pre-existing health complaints.

8. Try to increase your sleep.

6 hours is ok but it may not be sufficient to provide rest. Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain or hinder weight loss.

Hope this is off help and if you would like more explanation for any of the points please do contact me.

5 weight loss mistakes you should avoid

Saturday, November 17, 2012 16:46
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weight loss mistakes

People will often say ‘I tried everything but nothing works and I can’t lose weight. There are a few exemptions in which weight loss is hindered due to physiological reasons such as specific medical conditions. For the rest, to put it simply, weight loss should happen. However, in reality it is the majority of people who find it almost impossible to achieve their weight goals.

In previous articles we have looked at some of the factors which influence the success of a weight loss program. In this article we will look at simple mistakes which people may make when pursuing their weight loss goals. Avoid these and you could be a step closer in succeeding to shed those pounds and possibly making life slightly easier.

Mistake 1: Losing weight for the wrong reasons.

The reasons why we choose to do something can influence the final outcome. Before you start on your weight loss quest, ask yourself the question ‘why do I want to lose weight’. If you are doing it for someone else or because you think you should be, or even because Angelina Jolie has, then you may not be on a good start.

Have your own clear reasons which will keep you motivated and focused in what you want to achieve. Weight loss can be hard at times and it may take months to get to your ideal weight; in order to stick to it you will need a good reason why.

Mistake 2: Choosing an inappropriate weight loss program.

There are hundreds of diets available in the market and can be a mind field to decide which one to follow. Often people will follow the latest trend and even more often a quick fix. A common result is to think that again you failed to lose weight. Well maybe is the diet that failed you and you who have failed the diet. It would be great to believe that there is a magic wand which will make you slim but to my knowledge there isn’t. A quick fix fashionable diet may be like the magic wand; just a fairy tale.

Pick a regime which is supported by science and evidence, is safe and provides a balanced and healthy program and most of all suits your lifestyle and your preferences. Make your choice realistic as well. A diet which promises 20lbs in a week may belong in the magic wand category. A regime which has worked for Angelina Jolie may not necessarily work for you.

Mistake 3: Unaccounted calories and double eating.

Have you ever thought how many calories are in a packet of mints? Well it can vary slightly for each brand, but I know that the ones I keep in my bag contain 155 kcal per packet. I also know that through a working day I can easily go through the whole packet. 155 kcal will not tip the scales but a packet of throat sweets or mints is only one example of calories you may be consuming through the day which are unaccounted for. A green tea with a spoonful of sugar, a packet of crisps or an energy drink can all be examples which if added all together may give you a calorie overload.

It is easy to control and calories count the big meals, however, it is the little things which can go unnoticed and can make a difference. Another example is finishing off leftovers (especially if you have children) or nicking food of someone else’s plate. In your mind you may think ‘I hardly had anything to eat for lunch’ but in reality you could be having an extra meal with all the unplanned calories. They still do count.

Mistake 4: Classifying food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Foods are often classified as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and in many diets people are advised to avoid some ‘bad’ foods like the plague or eat unlimited of the ‘good’ foods. Undoubtedly there are some foods which can be potentially damaging to health especially if consumed in large quantities. However, these classifications can have a number of drawbacks in terms of weight loss.

  • Psychologically when classifying foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it makes the ‘bad’ foods feel as a sin and it can make you feel as you are depriving yourself. If you feel that you are being deprived the diet can feel like a prison service; well I don’t know many people who do actually enjoy or want to stick to a prison service. Needless to say that weight loss will feel a lot harder and will not be sustainable, making it more likely to indulge to every ‘bad’ food you can get once the diet is over.
  • Moreover, you may follow a diet of fruit and salads, all classified as ‘good’ foods and you can lose weight on it but in the long term it will neither be healthy or sustainable. Think food in balance and variety. As I have already mentioned in previous articles ‘replace’ don’t ‘avoid’ and eat in moderation. For example if you do like having chips you could replace the deep fried-take away ones with homemade cooked in the oven with a little bit of olive oil and have them once a week.
  • To add to the above you could also over eat in ‘good’ foods. Foods such as mixed nuts, avocado’s and oils may be very ‘good’ for your health but they do also contain quite a lot of calories.

Mistake 5: Forgetting about the rest of your lifestyle

You have the diet and the plan – check!

You are correctly calorie counting and have dealt with all of the above – check!

You are still struggling – check!

What could possibly go wrong?

Well what about the rest of your lifestyle?

Factors such as not drinking enough water, lack of sleep and stress can all influence weight loss. Check your lifestyle as well and try to make those little changes which could make a big difference. The benefits will stretch beyond to just losing weight.

I will be boring and I will finish off with saying, exercise. If you are going to make a change in your lifestyle make it to be more physically active.

10 tips for those who are desperate to lose weight fast

Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:18
Comments Off on 10 tips for those who are desperate to lose weight fast

desperate to lose weight

Are you desperate to lose weight quickly but you do not know where to start? Every time you climb on the scales or look in the mirror you think I need to lose weight. Time goes on and you still need to go on a diet but to be quite honest you don’t know where to start. It’s not laziness, it’s not that you are avoiding the matter is simply you just don’t know how.

People assume losing weight or going on a diet is a simple straight forward affair. We very well know that this is not the case. Whether being breaking the habits, or choosing the best diet for yourself, or what is a good diet or not, it is not as easy as it sounds.

In this article, I have summarised some steps and tips to help you start on the weight loss mission.

Step 1 – Consult a medical professional

Before you even think about any diet, if you suffer from any medical/health condition or have any health concerns consult the appropriate medical professional. Even if you know that losing weight is necessary due to a specific medical condition, do not just follow any diet, ask if the diet you are thinking of is appropriate or just ask for general guidance.

Not all weight loss regimes are appropriate for everybody and for some people changes in the diet may have detrimental effects to their health. Do not let the fact that you are desperate to lose weight take on your logic and force you into desperate measures. Your health is very important.

Step 2 – Find how much weight you want to lose.

It may sound not important but knowing how much weight you want to lose can help you decide on the type of diet regime you can follow. So do you want to just lose a couple of extra pounds, a few more or half of your current body?

Obviously the more weight you want to lose the longer it is going to take. Therefore, you should be looking at diet regimes that are designed for long term rather than shorter versions and vice versa. This does not mean that you cannot follow a long-term diet for a couple of months; the aim is to be realistic about your goals and stay away from desperate weight loss measures.

Step 3 – Be realistic about what your weight loss goals.

When choosing a weight loss regime be realistic in what you can expect from it. Yes there are hundreds of diets or methods which do promise the world and amazing weight loss results in less than 2 weeks etc. There may be exceptions and there may be some people whose body may work in extraordinary ways but in general do not expect to lose 10 lbs. in a week. If you have a lot of weight to lose, be prepared that it will take some time and there may be weeks which are slow, weeks which are fast or weeks where nothing is happening.

Each individual is different and each and every one will progress in a different way.

Step 4 – Keep a foods and drinks diary for a week

Record what you drink and eat for a week and you will learn a lot from it. You may already know that you eat too much or the wrong things but sometimes if you see it in writing and in detail you can find things which you never thought mattered. Keep it as detailed as possible as it is the small little things, such as the 2 sugars with coffee, or the sneaky biscuit in the office, which add up.

I remember a work colleague once who used to say to me that her big problem is picking. She would make the kids school lunch and have a packet of crisps or steal a couple of chips from the dinner plate and a piece of this and a piece of that….when she added them all up it was a big calorie surprise.

Step 5 – Find out your own diet style.

Let’s be clear here. No matter how good or healthy or successful a diet regime or method is, if it does not suit your needs it will not work. You may discipline yourself and follow it for a while but you will soon get fed up and hate the whole thing and eventually give up.

Losing weight can be hard to do for some people, so imagine if you are doing it in a way which is wrong for you. By all means even if you are desperate to lose weight, I would never recommend following a regime which may be harmful to your health just because it suits your style, so don’t go swallowing any tape warms in a hurry.

Ask yourself the questions: ‘What foods do I like to eat?’ ‘Do I have a busy schedule and eat out a lot?’ ‘Do I hate cooking and depend on ready meals?’ ‘Do I like a strict specific diet or do I prefer something more flexible?’

Ask as many questions you can think which will help you determine which way is the best way to go about losing weight. If you feel you can’t do it without support then maybe you should consider a diet club such as ‘weight watchers’ or ‘slimming world’ and so on.

Step 6 – Research about diet regimes

There are hundreds of weight loss programsout there and there are some ‘Diet reviews’ as well. Read what each diet has to offer, how does it work and what scientific evidence is there for it. Once you know all the above, like how much weight you need to lose and what style of diet suits you then look what diets are out there.

It may sound long winded but there are some important points here:

1. You are actually following something you like,

2. To the best of your ability you have found something which is safe and does not have massive health risks.

3. You are not wasting your money or energy in the process.

Step 7 – Plan

Ok, you worked out most of the above and you have found a nice little regime for you self or maybe you want something simple healthy and flexible. Before you start getting confused or lost in the process, plan.

When are you starting the diet? Usually at the beginning of the week is best but if for other reasons it doesn’t suit you set a day. Be realistic however, don’t start a diet the week you have that dinner party, or wedding or holiday trip etc but don’t use it as an excuse either. If you have more reasons not to start the diet constantly well maybe you should go back to square 0 and find if you really want to lose weight.

Make a list of the foods / menus / your diet plan and pin it in the kitchen & keep a copy in your bag. Whether it is a set diet plan or a flexible one or a DIY one have it pinned in the kitchen. You can refer to it any time you need. Keep it in your bag so if you are out you can have an idea about what your diet plan suggests etc.

Write your shopping list and do your shopping. What ingredients do you need for your meals for the week? Make sure you have them all as not having what you want on the day can make you get frustrated or deviate from your diet.

Step 8 – Exercise

Exercise can help you lose weight and also benefit your health and if that doesn’t really matter to you eventually you do look good. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean join the gym. As with a diet regime choose the type which suits you best. Find what you like, and if you are unsure about it try different things. A lot of gyms do free day passes for trial or you may be able to buy one or two passes individually.

Other ideas include trying a sport such as football, basketball, tennis etc. Alternatively you can try exercise classes, dancing classes, cycling clubs. There are all sorts of options and activities on offer to choose from.

If money is an issue you can sill exercise for free. Try going running or even just walking, use the stairs instead of the elevator, go cycling in the park.

Points to remember:

  1. Consult a medical professional. Similarly with dieting, if you suffer from any health conditions/complaints or have any concerns consult a medical professional.
  2. Do you need to diet? For some people exercise alone may be enough to help them lose weight and/or sustain their current weight. If your issue is a couple of pounds and in general you follow a balanced healthy diet exercise may just balance that extra biscuit now and then.
  3. Exercise alone is not the answer for everybody and for all your problems. Well just because you started exercising or do exercise doesn’t mean that you can get away with a nutritional murder. At the end of the day if you do consume more calories than you use, you will put on weight (unless there are underlying health issues or the gifted few who never put on weight).

In addition, if you are desperate to lose weight and have more than a couple of pounds to lose exercise alone may be a slow process or may not be enough.    

Step 9 – Which is the best way to go?

You worked everything out but still you are not sure which one is the best way to go? The healthy way is a balanced healthy diet however, for many people it doesn’t really explain anything and is general and confusing.

In general a healthy balanced diet is one which includes all nutrients and from a variety of sources. In simple words it has a little bit of everything. Opt for fresh ingredients and avoid takeaways, fast food, deep fried foods, processed foods etc. 

Step 10 – Lifestyle approach

A weight loss regime, no matter how good it is, will only achieve what is meant to achieve, weight loss. But this is what you wanted, yes? Well whatever the reason was making you put on weight in the first place will still the same unless you remove that reason. Is it too much food to blame, or the wrong kind of food, or sedentary lifestyle or all of the above?

Looking at weight loss as a way to change your lifestyle towards a healthier way rather than a magic temporary pill will probably have a lot more long term benefits. When making decisions and choices is always best to look at the long term goals.

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