Belly fat truth and myths

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 14:41
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belly fat truths

One common concern among dieters is the fat accumulated around the belly, waist and bum. It is obvious that the weight loss world has hundreds of solutions for you to tackle the belly fat issue. In this article I have collected 7 truths and myths about belly fat.

Belly Fat Myths and truths explained

1. There are specific foods that burn belly fat.

There is no or very little scientific evidence to show that there is a specific food or supplement which will cause weight loss in general let alone in specific areas. To my knowledge research supports that green tea and dietary calcium (through foods not supplemented) can help in increasing weight loss. For everything else there may be some theories, very little, poor or no evidence at all that they increase weight loss. For those supplements which could increase weight loss but are deemed unsafe I will put them in the same category.

If you lose weight, you will lose weight from the belly area as well as others. There is no need to spend your money just yet with the promise or guarantee of belly specific fat loss. Just follow an appropriate weight loss diet. 

2. Fibre is the saver of the overweight world and you must eat loads of it. Oh yes, it also burns belly fat.

Fibre is recommended in almost every weight loss diet, tip, and article. If you believe everything you read then fibre will save the world, is a magic substance, it will take the dog for a walk and clean the house for you while it makes you thinner!

Well undoubtedly fibre has health benefits like helping to lower cholesterol. It is recommended to include fibre in your diet, especially the one found in vegetables and fruit. However, large amounts of fibre consumption, especially the one which derives from all-bran and cereal, can lead to gastrointestinal complaints and irritation.

3. Women tend to store belly fat easier especially during or after menopause.

Well that may not be quite as true. In fact studies suggest that men tend to store fat more in the abdominal area and women in the areas around the hips and bottom. A theory for this is related to the sex hormones and the differences of them between men and women which lead to differences in fat storage. However, sometimes body type and build can affect where someone may have the tendency to store fat easier. Body shape does not mean that you will be stuck with fat in your tummy however.

It is true that during or after menopause hormones undergo through a lot of changes which do affect where fat is stored. Decrease of some hormones such as oestrogen and increase of others such as cortisol, can favour deposition of fat in the upper body and around the waist instead of the hips and thighs.   

5. It is very difficult to burn belly fat.

As mentioned earlier when losing weight you will lose from the belly area as well. Some studies actually suggest that is easier to lose fat from the belly than other locations. Fat in simple terms can be divided into subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is the one stored in the surface underneath the skin and is usually found in the lower body.

Visceral fat is usually stored in the deep abdominal cavity and the organs. Belly fat which is subcutaneous (Usually the one you can pinch) is the one which can be harder to lose.

Sometimes it could be loose skin or unconditioned abdominal muscles which may give the impression of having a ‘tummy’. Also bloating can have the same effect.

Studies do indicate that a healthy balanced diet such as cutting down on refined carbs and sugars and increasing protein intake, should be sufficient for belly fat loss.

6. Belly fat is more dangerous than other fat for your health.

Well always think how much excess fat do you have? If you are within a healthy weight range and you just have a bit of a superficial tummy, no it will not kill you. In simple terms subcutaneous abdominal fat is not as harmful as visceral fat. Storing measurably a lot of excess belly fat is considered to increase health risks.

Scientists suggest that a large waist can increase the risk of development of type II diabetes even if BMI is within healthy range. Therefore, it is recommended that waist circumference measurements are taken in combination to BMI. Waist circumference and health risk will be dependent in a number of factors such as ethnic background.

Body fat (especially visceral fat) is considered to produce hormones and in general to be a biologically active tissue. Excess fat (especially visceral fat) can influence cells response to insulin, appetite regulation, and inflammation; and can lead to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type II diabetes, amongst others.

7. Crunches will not help you burn belly fat and are dangerous.

There is no evidence that spot training will burn fat from a specific area. So no if you do 100 crunches does not result in burning all the belly fat and only the belly fat. However, any exercise can help in conditioning the muscles and if performed correctly it is not dangerous. Adding a set of crunches, which are performed correctly, will not result in miracles but also it will not kill you.

It is needless to say that you don’t need to invest your money in a super crunch buster machine either. If you have a ‘bit of a tummy’, exercises which tone the abdominal muscles such as Pilates, can give the flat tummy effect by conditioning the muscles and holding things better in place.

If you have any musculoskeletal complaints which crunches could make worst it is obvious to say, avoid them.

A full body work out which incorporates both resistance and aerobic exercise for the average person is the best choice. This way you do get to condition most muscles and systems around your body. Increasing your muscle mass will help in increasing your metabolic rate and therefore increase the calories you burn.

Always consult a fitness professional when taking on exercise. A fitness professional can assess you physical and fitness condition and devise a program which will correspond to your individual needs. Also can show you the correct techniques for performing exercises and avoid potential injuries. 

5 reasons to avoid low fat diets

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:05
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healthy diet

When you walk into a supermarket, you are bombarded with products claiming to be ‘low fat’ ‘no fat’ ‘fat free’ or ‘less than 10% fat’, so it is no wonder that many people have a negative attitude to fat in their diet.  Many weight loss diets promote very low fat eating patterns and we are constantly advised to steer clear of high fat foods. Is a low fat diet really the best way to lose weight, or do we need some fat in our diets?

The different types of fat

The answer depends very much on the type of fat.  Saturated fats found in fatty meat, cakes, pastries, many commercial foods and other animal products such as cheese and full fat milk, can be detrimental to our health.  This fat increases the unhealthy cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (LDL) and the total cholesterol in the blood, while lowering levels of healthy high density lipoproteins (HDLs); the type of cholesterol you want in your blood.

HDL cholesterol helps to remove the unhealthy fat from the blood stream, preventing the build up of blockages.  A high intake of saturated fat in the diet has been linked to heart disease, some cancers, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and a range of other conditions; therefore it is safe to say that a diet low in this type of fat is the way to go.

Similarly, a diet high in trans fats can also lead to negative health effects, much the same as those of saturated fats.  Trans fats are found in many commercial food products such as cakes and biscuits and in some oil based spreads such as margarine, (although this is now tightly regulated, and most margarine now contain very little or no trans fats).

Fat contains the most calories per gram of all of the macronutrients, (carbs, protein, fatand alcohol), therefore it makes sense that reducing them will reduce our calorie intake and assist with weight loss.  However, fats are not all bad news.  In fact it is necessary to include some fats in your diet, or risk nutrient deficiencies and increase risk of conditions such as heart disease.

The fats that we should be including in our diets are the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs and MUFAs).  These types of fats are found in fish, nuts, vegetable oils, seeds and grains.  A healthy diet should not contain more than 30% of calories from fat, but it is essential to include these healthy fats for the body to function correctly.

We need to consume unsaturated fats to provide essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3 and 6.  These cannot be synthesised in the body, but are necessary for numerous processes and functions.  Essential fatty acids play a key part in hormone production, cell membrane structure, and cell communication to name a few.

 Why we need fat in our lives

1#  For a strong immune system and inflammatory response

Diets low in unsaturated fats, in particular Omega 3s have been associated with reduced immune response.   In animal models, essential fatty acids have even been found to reverse or significantly improve autoimmune diseases.   It is also thought that Omega 3s may have anti-inflammatory effects and thus be beneficial for sufferers of conditions such as arthritis.

2# For correct function of the brain and nervous system

Fatty acids help to conduct electrical impulses in the nervous system, they are also the building blocks for cell membranes and hormones which regulate function of the nervous system.  Omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, is important both for nervous system development in babies and in preventing deterioration of the nervous system in the elderly.  It may delay development of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognitive function.  Another essential fatty acid, EPA, when combined with DHA may provide benefits for conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD.

3# To absorb fat soluble vitamins

The fat soluble vitamins A, E, K and D are absorbed by the body via chylomicrons, which are globules of fat.  If your diet is low in fat over a long period, you are at risk of deficiencies of these vitamins, as they cannot be absorbed.  These vitamins are essential for functions such as bone growth, blood cell development and clotting, healthy skin , eyes and reproduction.  As well A and E being powerful antioxidants, fighting free radicals in the body.

4# To lower unhealthy blood cholesterol

Unsaturated fats such as omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol, as well as reducing the overall amount of fat in the blood.  This protects against heart disease, and is also likely to reduce risk of other lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and stroke.

5# For healthy skin, hair, eyes and bones.

Due to their role in cell membranes, essential fatty acids play a part in keeping skin and hair healthy.  Deficiencies of these fats may result in flaky itchy skin and dry brittle hair.  It has also been found that women taking Omega 3 supplements experience less bone density loss over time, indicating a preventative effect in conditions such as osteoporosis.

Omega 3 fatty acids are also thought to have beneficial effects on many aspects of eye health.  A diet high in this essential acid can help to protect against macular degeneration, decrease dryness and redness and improve production of tears.

What’s the recommended calorie intake for women to lose weight?

Monday, November 12, 2012 19:44
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daily calories

The recommended calorie intake for women to lose weight depends on the following factors: age, weight, height and activity level. Let’s see how you can calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI), Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) and the number of calories you should eat per day in order to lose weight.

Step 1: Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Depending on your BMI you belong to one of the following categories:

BMI of 18.5 or less –> Underweight
BMI of 18.5 to 24.99–>Normal Weight
BMI of 25 to 29.99 –>Overweight
BMI of 30 to 34.99 –> Obesity (Class 1)
BMI of 35 to 39.99 –> Obesity (Class 2)
BMI of 40 or greater–> Morbid Obesity

This is more of a scientific classification of your weight and does not necessary mean that if you have a normal BMI (18.5 -24.99) you do not need to lose weight. If you want to lose weight or not this depends on how you feel about your body. The BMI calculation is just an indication that is used for medical purposes. To calculate your BMI you need to apply the following equation:

BMI= (weight in pounds * 703) / (height in inches) x (height in inches)

or

BMI= (weight in Kg) / (height in meters) x (height in meters)

Step 2: Calculate your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR)

BMR is the amount of calories our body needs to carry out basic body functions such as breathing, digestion, blood circulation etc. It is the minimum amount of calories you spend each day. You can calculate your BMR using the following equation. Please note that the formula below applies for WOMEN only:

BMR = 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

Or

BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x weight kg) + (1.8496 x height cm) – (4.6756 x age)

Step 3: Calculate how many calories you need per day

Once you know your BMR you can calculate how many calories you need per day in order to maintain your current weight. This number is important because if you want to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than what you need. To calculate your daily calorie requirements you can use the following formula depending on your lifestyle:

If you are sedentary (minimum or no physical activities): BMR + (BMR x 20 %)

If you are lightly active (doing some form of light exercise, e.g. walking): BMR + (BMR x 30%)

If you are moderately active (exercise at least 3 times per week): BMR + (BMR x 40%)

If you are very active (exercise daily): BMR + (BMR x 50%)

If you are extra active (intensive work out on a daily basis): BMR + (BMR x 60%)

The table below shows the average daily calorie requirements for women based on their weight.

Weight Female
50 kg / 110 pounds 1680 Cal per day
60 kg / 132 pounds 1800 Cal per day
70 kg / 154 pounds 1920 Cal per day
80 kg / 176 pounds 2040 Cal per day
90 kg / 198 pounds 2155 Cal per day
100 kg /240 pounds 2270 Cal per day

Calorie intake for women to lose weight

Ok, so you have calculated all the above numbers but what do these numbers actually mean? Let’s demonstrate this will a real example.

The basic Data: Woman aged 40, Current Weight: 70Kg, Height 1.60M, Lifestyle: Lightly active (doing office work, household activities and walking for 1 hour per week).

Calculating the BMI

BMI= (weight in Kg) / (height in meters) x (height in meters)

BMI = 70 / (1.6×1.6) = 27.34

A BMI of 27.34 tells us that this woman is in the category of overweight.

Calculating BMR

BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x weight kg) + (1.8496 x height cm) – (4.6756 x age)

BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x 70) + (1.8496 x 160) – (4.6756 x 40) = 1433 Calories

1433 is the number of calories needed by this woman’s body to carry out normal functioning.

Calculating Daily Calorie Needs

For lightly active (doing some form of light exercise, e.g. walking): BMR + (BMR x 30%)

i.e. 1433 + 430 = 1863 Calories

1863 Calories are needed per day for this woman to maintain her current weight of 70Kg. For this particular woman to lose weight she should consume fewer than 1863 calories per day. If her goal is to lose 2 pounds a month then she needs to save 7000 calories per month (1 pound of fat is 3500 calories). So, to be able to save 7000 calories per month she should reduce her calorie intake by 233 calories. This means that the max amount of calories to consume per day in order to lose weight is 1863-233 = 1630. Following a balanced diet and exercising regularly can speed up this process.

Healthy recipes for Weight Loss

Monday, November 12, 2012 17:47
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healthy weight loss recipes

Sometimes you are looking for a healthy launch, snack or dinner but you just don’t know what or how to prepare it. We have carefully compiled a list of healthy recipes for weight loss that are delicious, can be prepared easily and above all they are calorie friendly. We will continue to update the list on a regular basis and you are welcomed to submit your own healthy recipes.

Healthy Recipes for Weight loss

Low carb meat loaf
Spicy cauliflower
Baked walnut-cinnamon apples
Mixed berries whey-protein smoothie
Green salad with Greek graviera cheese recipe

Healthy Lunch Recipes for Weight Loss


Low carb meat loaf (serves 8 )

Ingredients

2lb extra lean minced beef,   2 red onion finely chopped, 1 garlic clove finely chopped,  ½ red pepper finely chopped,   ½ cup fresh parsley chopped,  1 tsp cumin, 3 eggs, 2 tbsp olive oil.

Preparation

Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. When mixture all blended together form a meat loaf on a baking dish. Cook the loaf in the oven at 200 degrees for 45min or until cooked through. Use a knife to check if cooked at the thickest point of the loaf.

Serve with vegetables or salad.

Spicy cauliflower (serves 1)

You can make your vegetable option more interesting and tasty. Eat as a main meal or a side salad to your main meal.

Ingredients

325g (12oz) steamed or lightly boiled (cooked through but with a crunch) and chopped cauliflower.

90g (3oz) chopped red peppers

1 tbsp pine nuts

75g (2 ½) finely chopped spring onions

100 g (3 ½) finely chopped tomatoes

1tbsp finely chopped mint

Sauce: 1tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp turmeric, 1tbsp lemon juice, pinch of cumin, salt & pepper to your taste.

Preparation

Mix well all the ingredients given above for the sauce. Place the cauliflower, pine nuts, spring onions, tomatoes, and mint in a bowl. Add the sauce and toss/mix until all evenly combined.

You can add a pinch of chilly if you like more spice. Taste before adding.

Nutritional Information: Carbs: 9.5g, protein: 6g, fat: 24g,

Healthy Snack recipes for Weight Loss


Baked walnut-cinnamon apples (serves 4)

Ingredients

4 apples , 1 cup of raisins, ¼ chopped walnuts,  ¼ tsp cinnamon,  ½ tsp natural vanilla extract, ½ cup of water.

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 150 degrees Core and pierce the apples using a fork in several places around the centre to prevent them from bursting. Mix the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon & vanilla in a bowl and stuff the apple with the mixture. Place in a baking dish and put any mixture left over the apples (if any left) and then poor the ½ cup of water over them. Cover with foil and bake for 30min or until tender.

You can serve with Greek style or thick natural yogurt for extra taste. 

Healthy Drink Recipes for Weight Loss


Mixed berries whey-protein smoothie (serves1)

An easy recipe for breakfast or a refreshing snack beverage. You can use fresh berries instead of frozen if you are looking for a less cold option.

Ingredients

50g frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries etc.), 25g whey protein powder, and water.

Preparation

Place the frozen berries and the protein into a mixer/blender. Add half a glass of water and blend. Add water or ice-cubes to your preference.

You can blend with low fat natural yogurt or milk if you like smoothies thicker and with fuller taste.

Nutritional Information:Fat: 0.5g, Carbs: 10g, Protein: 18g

Healthy Salad Recipes for Weight Loss


Green salad with Greek graviera cheese recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients

Salad: mixed lettuce, (romain, red leaf, green leaf) 5 cherry tomatoes chopped in half, 1 red pepper, a pinch of fresh thyme, 4 x wedges of greek graviera cheese (if you can’t find graviera use a salty yellow cheese of your preference. Chop and mix together in a salad bowl. Use as much lettuce as you like and as many different varieties you like.

Preparation

Sauce: In a shaker add: 1tspn honey with a little bit of hot water (to mix and liquidise the honey with a spoon).

then add: 2 tbspn olive oil, 1 tsp wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp raisins,. Cover the shaker and shake all together.

Is lap-band surgery a safe way to lose weight?

Monday, November 12, 2012 11:34
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lap-band surgery for weight loss

Some people reside to surgery to lose weight. This is because either they cannot lose weight naturally or because they need faster results. One of the most popular surgeries is the Lap-Band surgery. One must be very careful before choosing such weight loss methods and certainly it should be after the close examination of a certified doctor. There are many parameters to examine before you are allowed to undergo surgery and it should be understood that weight loss surgeries are not applicable for all people. Let’s see below more details about Lap-band surgery as a way to lose weight.

What is Lap-band surgery?

Lap-band is an adjustable gastric banding system that helps you consume less quantities of food and this gradually leads to weight loss. It is applied through a surgery procedure with all the risks associated with surgeries. Lap-bad is an FDA approved system but not for all people. You must be at least 30 pounds above your normal weight and must not suffer from other more serious conditions or diseases.

Who can use Lap-band surgery for weight loss?

1. Men and Women who are at least 18 years old

2. Overweight people having more than 30+ pounds (for a period of more than 5 years) above their normal weight with a BMI of at least 40

3. People who have already tried to lose weight healthy but for various reasons have not succeeded. Healthy weight loss is always the recommended way to lose weight.

4. People who are not alcoholics

5. People who have a good state of health and not suffering from other diseases.

Who cannot use Lap-band surgery for weight loss?

Lap-Band surgery is not recommended if:

1. You have gastrointestinal problems, heart problems or other chronic diseases

2. You are addicted to alcohol or other drugs

3. You are allergic to certain materials used by the lap-band system

4. Women who are pregnant

5. Generally people with a history of disorders or problems that prohibit them from going under any type of surgery.

Your doctor or surgeon can examine your health condition and make recommendations as to whether you can use lap-band or any other weight loss surgery.

How much does lap-band surgery costs?

Lap-band surgery and after treatment follow up may cost you up to $30,000. This depends on many factors but many patients stated that the overall cost is close to this amount.

Should I use Lap-Bad surgery for weight loss?

Now that we have gathered all the facts about lap-band the next question is: Should I consider lap-band for weight loss?

By definition we are against any non-natural ways to lose weightand this also includes lap-band or any other surgery. Only in exceptional cases should someone reside to such risky measures especially when there are many ways to lose weight naturally, safe and healthy. You may read that the method is safe but it is still a surgery and it is still non-natural. Why go under all this trouble and take all the risks and costs when you can safely lose weight?

Remember that there are no short-cuts when it comes to losing weight. You many need more time if you decide to do it healthy but you are sure that you are doing a step towards a healthier life. Even if you do the surgery you still have to change your lifestyle if you want to keep the weight off.

Surgery will not give you a permanent and effort-free solution to your weight loss problems. Many people have also reported side effects after surgery which made their situation worse than before. Our recommendation is not to consider surgery before trying to solve the weight loss problems in a healthy way.

7 Practical ways to start losing weight today

Monday, November 12, 2012 10:36
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practical weight loss tips

Another year has come to a closure and a lot of people will be filling their resolution lists. Losing weight tends to make it in that list whether being that you eaten a little bit more during the party season or whether your weight has always troubled you. Losing weight is not necessary hard; you need motivation and a good weight loss plan. In this post we outline 7 practical ways to start losing weight today.

1. Spring clean the cupboards

I am sure that through the festive season your cupboards managed to get full of everything eatable. This includes sweets, cakes, snacks, crisps, dried mixed nuts, fizzy drinks, alcohol and you name it is there, or what’s left of it.

It usually takes ages to go through all that food and by Easter you may still find a box of chocolates hidden at the back.

With so many temptations hanging around at eye level it is almost impossible to keep to a diet. As they tend to say ‘out of sight out of mind’, so start by emptying your cupboards from all those foods which will not do any favours to your health or your weight.

2. Keep a diary

Keeping a ‘diet’ diary before and while you are on a weight loss regime will help you in many ways. First it will give you an insight to what you tend to eat and when. Recording your feelings also helps to find any emotional eating patterns which may later hinder your efforts.

In addition, keeping a record of what you eat while on a weight loss regime can help you keep on track and you can always go back and compare, find little calorie disasters you may not known were there, or just simply find what works for you and what doesn’t.

3. Take measurements

Take all your vital statistics before you start your weight loss regime and then every couple of weeks. Setting a day in which you will be measuring your vitals may be helpful as it can create a solid program for you.

Now what do you need to measure: Your weight will be one but don’t depend only on it for your dear life. Weight can fluctuate especially for women who go through their menstrual cycle. Apart from that you may be losing fat but this may not reflect at the beginning on your weight as there may be a number of changes that take place on your body.

In addition to your weight, try to record your waist and hip circumference. To measure waist circumference use a tape measure.  Find your upper hip bone and place the tape measure flat around your abdomen (tummy) and measure around your waist. In the same manner measure the circumference of your hips at the widest point with your legs kept close together.

The important thing is not to find the exact correct point but to measure every time at the same point. This way you will be keeping an accurate record of any changes in your body. If every time you measure a different point naturally it would be misleading.

4. Find your type

By this I don’t mean your body type or blood type or any other types you may have read about weight loss dieting. What I mean is find your own diet type. Use your diary to get more information. So what do you like to eat? Are you always on the go? Do you need guidance, a strict regime or a flexible one? Are you good with taking specific foods out of your everyday diet or just cutting down on portions?

Picking up from the shelve any diet it will not necessarily do it for you. Yes ‘x’ diet may have worked with your best friend or family member or girl at work but does it suit you individually? Think of your lifestyle, your food preferences and how feasible something is to follow.

Yes there are good and bad diets in terms of health risks and by all means don’t ingest a tape worm just because it seems the most suitable for you. Do make sure the weight loss regimes you are looking at are safe and are based on scientific evidence.

5. Don’t despair

You done it all, got organised, and been following a diet regime for ‘x’ amount of time but nothing is happening. You have been there a few times and you are frustrated and just attack the next plate of chips and greasy food. Now hold your horses, and don’t despair. Go back to base and think what it that you are doing is.

Ask yourself if the regime you are following is the right for you, are you realistic about what you are expecting and most of all are you actually doing it right. Last but not least are there other reasons which may be stopping you from losing weight.

It is important to check that there aren’t any medical reasons involved and I would actually suggest consulting a medical professional before you even start on a diet regime especially if obese. Making sure you are not putting your health in unnecessary risks is very important. In addition, some types of medication may hinder weight loss and even cause you to put on weight. Having appropriate advice is equally important.

Now when you are trying to lose weight keep in mind the following:

1. Depending on the diet regime you are on you may find that your weight loss may take time to kick in. In addition, you may find that there times in which weight loss reaches a plateau. There are ways to overcome these.

2. The diet regime you have chosen may be just another fad diet so it simply doesn’t do anything. Try something different, read what other people may have said about it or look if there is anything else.

3. If you are simply DIYing your weight loss regime, are you actually consuming the amount of calories you need to lose weight? You may have cut down on calories and portions but you may be simply on a calorie balance which means that you just staying the same.

4. Keep in mind that your body takes about 2 weeks to adapt to any diet changes. Usually during the first week any weight lost does not include a significant measurable amount of fat.

5. Have you been realistic in your expectations or plans? Someone may have claimed that on that regime they lost 10lbs in the first week however, is this something realistic or is it just claims?

6. If you are keeping a diary go back and look what you are actually eating. Are you recording everything? The extra biscuit in the office, or picking a chip from the kids’ plate, or a spoonful of this and a pinch of that which you just tried earlier are still calories and food which you have consumed. You will be surprised what you may find.

6. Set realistic goals

Setting short term goals can help you keep in track with your weight loss. If you say I need to lose 100lbs sounds daunting and hard work. Moreover, losing a large amount of weight could take a long time possibly a few months. During that time you may have plateau times, ups and downs and so on, it is so easy to lose scope of what you are doing.

Set short term goals such as every 2 weeks. Keep your expectations and goals realistic. If you set your goals too high and to points which are physically impossible to reach then you will just be setting yourself to fail. There is nothing worse psychologically than having worked hard for 2 weeks and battled all temptations and then climb on the scale and be miles away from your goal. But then was that goal realistic?

7. Recognise every achievement

As mentioned above through a weight loss period you are likely to get ups and downs. As I already have said do not despair and also look at the bigger picture. If you lost 10lbs in ‘x’ amount of time and maybe gained 2lbs back or if you lost 2lbs instead of 5lbs don’t just punish yourself. Pat yourself in the back and say well done.

Every little achievement you make is as good. See the positive things you concurred and build on them. Maybe you lost 1lb but managed to stop eating chips. Well done! Build on that and move for the next thing you can achieve.

Most effective exercises to lose weight fast

Monday, November 12, 2012 10:14
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men working out

Unfortunately there are a lot of misconceptions about exercise. I always believed that there are too many people with too little real knowledge and give too much advice. The scope of this article is not to look into all the misconceptions surrounding exercise or to clear the myths and truths of fitness but to outline the most effective exercises to lose weight fast. Exercise is vital for weight loss and with so much information available, and some of it of ill content is no surprise that people don’t tend to stick with exercise.

Here I have summarized some really good exercises to help you lose weight. This is not an exercise program to follow as such and they are only some suggestions.

1. The exercise that suits you.

This makes top of my list. Regardless of what anybody may say of what is best and what is not, the one exercise regime which you are likely to stick to is the one that rocks your boat.

I have come across statements such as ‘exercise is only pumping iron in the gym (in other words lifting weights) and all the rest can’t even be defined as exercise’. I won’t even bother to comment on that, I will simply say that as long as physical activity is done in the correct technique, it does not contradict any health issues and you are not placing a high injury risk on yourself, it is good enough.

2. Functional training

I have written about the benefits of functional exercises before. In simplified words ‘functional’ exercises tend to incorporate more muscle groups than static exercises and also they are based in ‘real life’ movements. Here are some examples:

Farmers walk

Farmers walk is a simple classic exercise however a lot more demanding that it may appear to be in the first instance. It is good for hand grip, back and shoulders. It also works on the abdominal, pectoral gluteal and leg muscles. You can try to contract the Transversus Abdominus muscle (tummy) to help you keep your posture. Remember to breath.

Farmers walk exercise

To perform: Standing, straight back and shoulders back.

Dead lift two weights in each hand. Choose lights weights if a beginner in exercising, such 2kg dumbbells. Hold the weights with arms straight in each side and walk up and down a room.

Walk 4 lengths (depending on the size of the room) or until you feel that your shoulders are falling forward and you can’t hold the weights. Rest the weights on the floor and repeat.

Functionality: Think all the shopping bags you carry walking around.

Single arm Bend over dumbbell row

This exercise works on the back and arm muscles.

Functionality: Think of cutting wood for the fireplace.

Single Arm Bend Over dumbbell row exercise

To perform: Use a bench. Stand on the side, place your right knee flexed and right hand for support on the bench.  Keep your left leg straight on the floor positioned slightly back. *Assume a semi on fours position.

Hold a dumbbell with the left hand. Pull the dumbbell upwards on the side by flexing your elbow until the dumbbell touches your ribs. Lower until the arm is straight (keep elbows relaxed) and repeat x8. Repeat exercise with opposite side.

Start with low weights to your own comfort and increase with practice.

Burpee

It sounds rude but is a very good exercise for agility and an all over strength workout. Aim to perform this exercise as fast as possible but make sure you keep the correct technique. Best practice a few times and increase the speed as you build more confidence.

Burpee exercise

To perform: Begin in a standing position.

Lower to towards the ground into a squat position and place your hands on the ground.

By placing your weight to your arms to support yourself, extend your feet backwards in one quick motion to the front plank position.

Then bring your legs back in and return to the squat position in one quick motion.

Return to the starting upright standing position.

Single arm squat and swing.

This is another example of a whole body exercise. The single arm squat and swing works the muscles in the hips, thighs, back and abdomen and arms.

Single Arm Squat and swing exercise

To perform: Stand with your legs hip width apart, back straight and shoulders back and down.

Hold a dumbbell (or any weight) with your right hand.

Squat to the floor and swing the weight between your knees

Return to standing position and at the same time swing the weight over your head. Keep your arm extended during movement. Lower the weight and repeat x4 with each arm.   

Practice with low weights before moving to heavier weights or increasing the speed in which you perform the exercise to avoid injuries.

3. Circuit training.

A good circuit program would incorporate exercises for most parts of the body. It would also incorporate both resistance and some aerobic exercises. They also tend to alternate high and low intensity exercises. Alternating the intensity of the exercises can help increase the fat you are mobilising during exercise.

Most places such as gyms and health clubs tend to offer circuit classes. You could make your own DIY circuit program however it may be challenging to gather all the paraphernalia and set up your own circuit.

4. Finish your workout with a blast of aerobic exercise.

If you opt for the old fashion resistance program finish off with a blast of aerobic exercise. There has always been a debate between aerobic fans and weight fans as to which one is best for weight loss. The truth is that there are a number of factors that influence weight loss and the effects of exercise.

Performing resistance exercise first can lead into using most of the glycogen you have stored. If you combine this with an aerobic workout then you are likely to be mobilising fat as a fuel.

1. Always warm up to avoid injuries.

2. Best recommended to consult a health professional and/or exercise professional prior to taking on any exercise.

5 Ways to lose one pound of fat

Monday, November 12, 2012 8:00
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lose one pound

To lose one pound of fat you need to take a number of factors into account. First you need to understand the role of fat in the body, what it takes to lose fat and why fat is the cause of a number of diseases. There are many ways to do that and in this article we discuss the 5 most effective ways to lose one pound of fat.

What is fat?

Fat is unused energy stored in the body. This is a very simple explanation of fat but is enough to understand that fat is the result of excess energy (calories) consumed through food that is not burned in the body and as a result gets accumulated in the muscles and body organs. When we consume food our body processes it and takes the energy needed to carry out the normal body functions as well as give us energy to cope with our physical activities. When the calories we consume through food are too many and not used by the body as energy they are stored in the fat reserves.

Fat is not necessarily bad, on the contrary it is vital for the normal functioning of the body as it is used for building up cells, producing hormones and keeping the temperature of the body at normal levels. What is not needed is excess fat that is the cause of a number of cardiovascular diseases and the major cause of obesity.

How to lose fat?

In mathematical terms one pound of fat is about 3500 calories. In other words when you consume more calories than your body burns and this number is above 3500 you gain one pound, on the other hand when you consume 3500 calories more than you consume you lose one pound. It is a straightforward calculation and to lose one pound of fat you need to ensure that the number of calories burned are constantly more than you consume.

For example if you can manage to create a 500 calorie deficit per day then in one week you will lose one pound. If your target is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months then you need to burn 580 calories more per day (10 pounds x 3500 calories = 35000 / 60 days). Have in mind that the minimum number of calories your body needs per day is about 1800-2000 so it is not recommended to go beyond this number. Here are 5 of the best ways to lose one pound of fat.

1. Avoid full fat foods

Since the only source of energy is the foods and drinks we consume, by minimizing the calories we eat and drink we increase our chances of losing weight and fat. So, try to avoid full fat foods, processed foods or foods that contain sugars and artificial substances. Instead prefer low-fat foods, sugar free drinks and lots of fruits instead of snacks and sweets. Read carefully the food label of each food you consume and ensure that it is low in fats, calories and sugars. Organic and natural foods are by definition healthier and have less calories and fat than non-organic food items.

2. Prefer fat burning foods

Although there is no such thing as fat burning foods, you can give preference to foods that are fat friendly. For example low fat milk and low fat dairy products, almonds, fish, oats, whole grain, lean meat and green tea are foods that have minimum amount of fats and they are recommended for a healthy diet. Some of these can even help you burn more calories by eating them than the calories they contain and they usually called negative calorie foods.

3. Fiber, fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals; Fiber has the special characteristic of keeping you full for longer periods and is also wasted from the body without adding to the fat reserves. This is the reason that all diets and weight loss programs suggest that you eat 5-6 servings of fruits daily. With fruits you keep your stomach full and away from other full fat foods.

4. Cardio and fat burning exercises

Dieting is the best way to protect your body from consuming fat but the best way to lose the accumulated body fat is through exercise. Exercise is the only way to accelerate the fat burning process and burn more calories. Not all exercises are equal when it comes to fat loss since exercises that accelerate the heart beat rate generate better results. The most common form is cardio exercises (walking, running, aerobics, cycling, swimming, tennis, squash, climbing etc.).

For even better results you can combine strength training exercises with cardio. Remember your goal is to increase your fat burning process so what is needed is less but more intense repetitions of the exercises (with minimum breaks) and not long repetitions with long breaks. Your goal is to push yourself to the limits so that the body will utilize the fat reserves for energy. This action is needed to actually lose more calories and in turn fat from the body. Exercising does not only make you weigh less but also look better.

5. Consistency is the key for fat loss

We mentioned above that in order to lose fat you need to constantly generate a calorie deficit between the amount of calories consumed and the amount of calories burned (remember 1 pounds = 3500 calories). The key for long term success is not to do that only once or a couple of days per week but to constantly keep the calories burned more than the calories consumed.

So you need to create a diet and exercise plan and stick to that plan for some time (at least a couple of months). Make sure that you exercise 4-5 times per week for at least 45 minutes per session. Combine your cardio exercises with weight lifting and strength training exercises and ensure that you follow a healthy balanced diet with moderate consumption of fats and carbohydrates. If you do that consistently for a number of weeks you will notice results both when you weigh in and in your appearance.

I Want To Lose Weight Where Do I Start

Sunday, November 11, 2012 9:06
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weight loss tricks

I finally made the decision: I want to lose weight! If you’ve decided that you need to lose weight – be it for aesthetic or health reasons – it’s often difficult to know where to begin. There are so many different techniques, methods and diets to try that it’s almost impossible to make an informed decision. Luckily, weight loss usually comes down to a few important rules and these are where you should start. This article will take you through the most basic rules of all – reducing your calorie intake and increasing the amount of exercise you do.

Create a calorie deficit the healthy way

Although it isn’t fashionable to say that weight loss is just about creating a deficit in the number of calories your body uses, in reality that’s all that really matters. For that reason if you’re beginning to lose weight you need to work out how many calories you consume on an average day. It can be quite shocking to discover how much you’re eating which is why it’s always useful to make a note of everything you eat over a certain period. Once you have a benchmark you can then work on reducing your average intake.

This is important because many people assume that they have to crash diet in order to lose weight. Fortunately, this simply isn’t true and trying to eat as little as possible can actually damage your health and chances of losing weight in the long run. For example, if you suddenly stop eating then you may lose weight but your body’s metabolism will also have decreased. This means when you go back to eating normally you’ll put on weight much faster. Another problem is that a crash diet is very difficult to keep up for any length of time.

If you want to lose weight you have to exercise

Exercise is the other piece of the weight loss puzzle. If you’ve never been interested in sports then increasing the amount of exercise you do can seem daunting. You might imagine that the local gym is full of slim, fit people and be embarrassed to visit. The truth is that to lose weight you need to start exercising as much as possible. Some experts estimate that you need to perform cardiovascular exercise for around 250 minutes a week in order to lose weight which is a lot more than many people do in a month.

It’s important not to think you have to reach this goal straight away though. Start by setting yourself smaller targets and work up to 250 minutes a week. This will increase your confidence as you can see gains in your fitness. If going to the gym doesn’t excite you then consider going swimming, joining a dance group or taking up a new sport. Jogging is also great for weight loss although you need to be careful not to increase your mileage immediately.

Follow a weight loss program that suits your needs

Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas for getting started with weight loss. It’s vital that you come up with a plan – both for diet and exercise – that you can stick to for an extended period. The most common mistake people make when trying to lose weight is not creating a balanced diet which means it’s difficult to be consistent. Yo-yo dieting (where someone loses weight, puts it back on and then loses it again) is not only frustrating but could also potentially damage your health and hence should be avoided at all costs.

In summary, if you want to lose weight you should work out your daily calorie intake and then decide how to reduce it by at least 20% – potentially more if required. You should then increase the amount of exercise you do in a way that’s fun, enjoyable and sustainable.

How many servings of vegetables a day? 5 servings. Find out why

Sunday, November 11, 2012 8:59
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vegetables

The keystone message of the medical industry, to eat more vegetables, can be difficult to swallow, but this is one area where you should redouble your nutrition efforts.  Why?  Eating more vegetables usually result in a slimmer, stronger figure, a lower risk of chronic disease, and a longer life.

It’s true that produce is a powerhouse of important nutrients like Vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron, but here are some additional reasons to keep reaching for the crisper.

Tantalizing Texture

Texture is an easily forgotten aspect of the eating experience, trumped constantly by aroma and flavor, and yet it plays a key role in the snacks that wreak so much havoc on our waistlines.

Food companies are keenly aware that when you’ve got a craving, the odds are that you’ll reach for something crisp.  Crisp foods make for great mindless eating, a hazard for those trying to watch their weight.  Fortunately there are some excellent crisp vegetables to take the place of processed snacks.

Baby carrots or those sliced on an angle can make a great replacement for chips when paired with hummus.

Mini bell peppers make a great, nutrient dense finger food at only about 90 calories a pound.

For creamy food lovers, cooked cauliflower can be incorporate into a dip for a tasty, healthy twist.

Peas, cooked, masked and mixed with avocado, can make for a low calorie guacamole.

Added Antioxidants

The term ‘antioxidant’ snuck into our food vocabulary so gradually that many people are still unsure of exactly what it means.   Here’s a brief low-down: our body is constantly exposed to harmful stressors in the form of UV sunlight, smog or smoke, and even the blackened surface of grilled foods.

These evildoers cause oxidation in the body (like human rust) that increases the likelihood of arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.  Antioxidants are chemicals formed naturally in many plants such as soybeans, sprouts, beats, and onions and are the body’s first line of defense against such diseases.

As a bonus, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage) have a whole additional class of health promoters called isothiocyanates that have been shown to very drastically reduce cancer risk when eaten regularly.

Fiber and Filling Factors

Weight loss gurus are well aware that adding fiber-rich foods to the diet can increase fullness after a meal, resulting in easier weight loss.  Vegetables are a great source of both important types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber, while not filling, is important for gastrointestinal and heart health.  Insoluble fiber is very filling and promotes digestive regularity.  Both types promote health and weight loss, but on top of that the vitamins and minerals can fight hunger in a surprising way.

Many of the nutrients we need each day go toward cognitive functions like concentration and sharp-mindedness.  By eating vegetables that keep a clear, focused head can help reduce mindless eating and fight temptations.

Shelf Stability

That’s right, vegetables have a great shelf life.  Frozen and canned vegetables have lasting power and retain many of their original nutrients.  Frozen vegetables in particular are picked and frozen at the peak of freshness, meaning that they may have better flavor and health qualities than even their fresh equivalents.

Pre-made frozen vegetables dishes, like those at Trader Joes, are quick and easy entrées on a busy day.   With advances in food production vegetables have even taken a leap onto your snack shelves.  Puffed vegetables (ignore corn products) and other vegetable snacks can be worth your while as long as the sodium stays low. 

Bursts of Color

Much like texture, visual stimulation is a powerful driver in eating behavior.  Why consume controversial artificially colored foods when bright beautiful hues are available naturally in the garden?  Keeping attractive bright vegetables around the house can encourage healthy eating behaviors.

When storing vegetables, keep them at eye-level in your refrigerator, instead of in a drawer, as a reminder of your nutrition goals.  Disposing of forgotten and spoiled vegetables hidden in the crisper is just one more deterrent to a healthier lifestyle.   On food, colorful vegetable salsa can improve the appeal of a healthy baked fish or chicken dish.

Savory Sensations

Yes, texture and color are under-appreciated  but where would we be without flavor?  The heat of peppers, the pungency of onions, the bitterness of greens and the sweetness of tomatoes make for a rich palette of flavors far beyond that of the fatty, salty foods that weigh down the western diet.

Incorporating more of these dynamic, rich vegetables into the diet can actually change your taste preferences so that less healthy foods begin to taste bland!  Changes in tastes like this take time, but are well worth the commitment.  Simply reducing calories can make an impact on temporary weight loss, but adding vegetables can create lifetime habits that result in lasting health.

Vegetables are the most diverse and colorful part of the eating experience and can change your body for the better.  Incorporating more vegetables into your diet is less challenging than you think, just stick to these rules:

  • For a snack, pick vegetables with a crunchy texture
  • Experiment with super-vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • For better weight loss, eat more fiber-rich vegetables
  • Choose frozen or canned vegetables for shelf-stability
  • Buy pre-made frozen vegetable dishes for a fast weeknight meal
  • Keep vegetables at eye-level in the refrigerator
  • Use more flavor-rich vegetables like peppers and onions to liven up a meal

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