The 5 most important weight loss tips for 20 year olds

Monday, December 5, 2011 17:31
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weight loss for teens

The basic principles of weight loss apply to all ages but there are specific weight loss tips for 20 year old that take into account the energy and enthusiasm of young people. To start with, people in their twenties have more than one reason to take care of their weight and appearance. Ages 20 – 30 is the period to make friends and connections and the last thing you want is to worry about your weight. So, the 5 most important tips that will help you lose weight and make you look better but most importantly feel better are:

 

Tip #1: Learn the very basic rules of weight loss

You probably do not have the patience to read a lot of theories about weight loss but it is important that you know at least the basic rules:

  1. You will lose weight if you manage to eat less calories and burn more. The only way to eat less is by being selective on what you eat and drink and the only way to burn calories is through exercise and activity (e.g sports).
  2. One pound of fat is 3500 calories. This means that for every 3500 calories you save (by eating less and exercising more) you will lose one pound. If the opposite happens (i.e. you eat more than you burn) you will gain one pound.
  3. If you don’t want to go on a diet then use a food calorie counter to count the calories you take in and try to burn more calories through physical activities.

You can also read why lose weight and how to do it correctly for more detail information as  well as easy tips to cut 200 calories per day from your diet

Tip #2: Drinks do have calories

Statistically people in their twenties tend to drink a couple (or more) drinks especially those containing alcohol. What you should understand is that drinks do have calories and if not taken into consideration can literally destroy all your efforts to lose weight. It is common to take care of what you eat but neglect the calories contained in drinks and then wonder why you are still putting on weight. You should take note that:

1 can of soft drink (cola diet – non diet) contains 140 calories. If you multiply that by 30 its 4200 calories or 1 + ½ pounds just by drinking one soft drink per day.

1 can of pre-packaged orange juice may contain up-to 600 calories

A regular vodka and tonic has 130 calories

Medium glass of wine has 130 calories

One pint of beer has about 240 calories

One shot of Whiskey about 55 calories

Calories from drinks are considered “empty” calories since they have nothing to offer (no nutritional value)

Tip #3: If you don’t want to join a gym then move!

Going to a gym on a regular basis will help you stay fit and within your normal weight. Unfortunately not all people like or want to spend time in the gym but this does not mean that they cannot lose weight. Use your energy wisely and engage into activities that you like and at the same time burn calories. Sports are perfect examples where you have fun, socialize and lose weight at the same time. For instance:

With Cycling you can burn 300-400 calories every 30 minutes

Playing 30 minutes racquetball is equivalent to 300 calories

30 minutes of basketball is 290 calories

30 minutes of tennis is 300 calories

Hint: You can use our free diet and exercise planner to analyze the calories you burn from each sport or activity

You can also read 28 exercise tips for weight loss and Best weight loss exercise for more detail information.

Tip #4: Do you drink enough water per day?

I cannot stress enough the importance of water for a good health and weight loss. Water helps your body organs function better, enables easier digestion, replaces lost body fluids and can delay (and minimize hunger). The best way to start drinking water is by first taking note on how many classes of water per day you normally drink. Do not be surprised if the results are 1, 2 or 0! Many people tend to drink other beverages instead of water but NONE of them can replace water functions. So, find out your daily average and try to increase that to 6-7 classes per day. The more you can drink the better is for your health.

Tip #5: Breakfast, protein and carbohydrates

A protein rich breakfast is important for many reasons. It will give you enough energy for your daily activities and keep your stomach busy until lunch time. It is a fact that many people do not eat breakfast, especially when they wake up late in the morning but it is important to make an effort and change this habit. You can read the importance of a good breakfast for more detail information.

Also you should have clear in your mind about the role of protein and carbohydrates in losing weight. Both nutrients are necessary for a healthy and balanced diet. Protein promotes weight loss by keeping you full for longer, helping you build more muscles (and burn fat) and by making your bones stronger. Carbs are as equally important since they are used as a ‘fuel’ from the body. They are especially important for those who exercise regularly and when taken in moderation can do more good to your health than any harm. Read more about carbohydrates and weight loss.

You may also like to read:

Weight Loss for Teens and Weight Loss Tips for Teenage Girls

How do Americans lose weight?

Thursday, December 1, 2011 14:10
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weight loss for americans

A very interesting study by Gallup reveals how Americans lose weight. The study, among other things, shows that the real way to lose weight is not through weird weight loss programs but by adopting the basic principles of losing weight (eating less and exercising more) in your everyday life. These are the concepts we are trying to promote in our web site and products and we are more than happy to see that the majority of the people who want to lose weight follow this path and not any other shortcut. The 10 main findings of the study are the following:

  1. 52% of Americans have succeeded (at least once) to lose weight in their life. This also means that 48% failed but hopefully the results of this study will motivate them to give it another shot and succeed.
  2. The most effective way to lose weight according to the responses is by working out and exercising (31%) and by eating less (23%).
  3. 12 % of those who choose to go on a diet used a calorie counter to achieve results while 10% gave more preference to natural foods.
  4. Among the commercial diets, Weight Watchers is the most popular (4%) while the majority (32%) used a DIY diet i.e. eating less sugars and sweets, taking care of portion size and giving more value to fruits and vegetables.
  5. Diet pills and other weight loss supplements account only for 4% of the answers while surgery is only used by 1%.
  6. Men tend to exercise more compared to women and people over 55 tend to prefer dietary changes rather than exercise.
  7. The best method to lose weight is to combine both diet and exercise. 47% stated that this combination can generate the best results.
  8. It is believed that 66% of all Americans believe that they are overweight but only 1/3 are actively trying to lose weight. These numbers show the magnitude of the problem and backup the statement that obesity is one of the most popular diseases of the modern American Society. These numbers are consistent the last 5 years which makes the problem even more serious.
  9. The percentage of women who are trying to lose weight (or tried even once) is bigger than men. This shows that women take weight loss more seriously than men, something we have identified many times in the past.
  10. Women have more willingness to lose weight and 37% have tried between 3-10 times while men give up after one or two unsuccessful attempts.

Obesity is indeed a huge problem for Americans and despite the directions given by the different Government departments and non-profits organizations the problem becomes even bigger. The percentage of people who never tried to lose weight (48%) is big and this is very worrying. Lifestyle is to blame but it is also the responsibility of each and every one of us to take action for our own benefits and health. Weight loss is the result of eating less and exercising more, you do not need to engage into complicated, restrictive and dangerous programs. We have many weight loss tips that are very easy to implement and help you get started. Do not delay it any longer but take action today. You can continue by reading our 300 weight loss tips

How do Americans lose weight

7 weight loss tips for Christmas

Sunday, November 27, 2011 14:42
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weight loss tips for 2012

Christmas is approaching and along with the big present’s shopping comes the big eat. Christmas is almost synonymous with putting on weight. After all there are so many festive parties, dinners and goodies which you only get to enjoy once a year.

Can you go through the party season and not topple the scales but at the same time enjoy what the festivities have to offer? I say yes and it is easier than you may have thought. Read below our weight loss tips for Christmas.

Tip #1: Beware of the sweets

I think we all may know that sugar and sweets do contain a lot of calories and are what I call sticky; they stick in the thighs, belly, and bottom and well just about everywhere. If you have the will power of superman then you can go through the festive season without touching them but I’m sure there will not be many people who can do that.

1. Have a daily allowance of sweets. For example set a 200kcal limit a day or 2 sweets a day. Work it out in whichever way it suits you, whether it is keeping your sweet eating for one meal, or a little bit per day, or once a week.

2. Keep your sweet eat allowance for those sweets which you really want. Boxes of chocolates change hands constantly through the season and you could find a couple in work, a couple in the house, sweet sampling in the streets or shops, in your neighbour’s or friend’s house. As a matter of fact there are in every corner and they look inviting and delicious. Don’t spend your day picking and picking and picking, instead save it for those specific sweets which you have been waiting all year for.

Tip #2: Save your calories for the main meals

Cut down on snacking through the day. A lot people tend to pick food all day, and do what we call grazing. Once upon a time everybody used to advise that the secret to weight loss is to eat a little bit and often. This may be recommended if you have insulin/blood sugar problems or if your doctor has advised it for other reasons. However, in general grazing all day can have some problems.

1. You could be consuming more food than you think. Snacks such as a packet of crisps, a biscuit, and a cereal bar etc can contain a lot more calories than you think and when all put together they may be more than your main meal. Be especially careful during the festive period where there are snacks and nibbles everywhere.

2. Plan your snacks and meals so you have an account of how many times and what you are eating.

Tip #3: Plan for the dinner party

Do not skip meals. Do make sure you have the 3 main meals through the day. If you have a dinner party don’t just starve all day so you can save your calories for the evening meal. Starving all day and then having one big meal once a day will not do any favours to insulin levels or other metabolism and hunger controlling hormones. The result could be that you may be feeling hungrier and end up eating more or storing more calories as fat.

Tip #4: The ‘It is a healthy food so it is ok to eat it’ misconception

Well dried mixed nuts are good for you, right? So it is fine if you have a load of those caramelised hot nuts which are popular in Christmas markets, right? Actually the answer is no. Just because a food item contains some healthy ingredients it doesn’t mean that is automatically healthy or low on calories. For example a mixed fruit stew, cooked in masses of margarine and sugar probably has as much trans fats and calories as a portion of chips. Same could go for apples covered in chocolate or caramel, or other popular festive foods.

1. Think how far has this food come from its natural form and how much cooking and processing it has gone through before you eat it. Also what ingredients does it contain? A lot of commercially prepared food could be fried or cooked in vegetable oils and margarines. They could also contain high amounts of salts and sugars preservatives etc or you could be adding on top of it loads of toppings such as creams and sauces which are far from healthy.

2. Try home cooking. You could save a lot of money and calories. Well sugar is sugar but if you make your own apples and bake them instead of frying them or add less sugar, or in general go for healthier cooking options you could be better off. You could also be having some quality family time as well.

3. Count all calories. If you are trying to stay on a calorie budget then all calories do count no matter how small or secret or healthy they are. Be aware not to go mad or obsessed with calorie counting but be aware what’s coming in.

Tip #5: Work the buffet food.

Buffets are a common festive practice and in general are full of pastries, sandwiches, chips or potato wedges, pizza pieces, breads, mini burgers…and you can fill your plate as much as you like and usually as many times as you like!

1. Look carefully the options contained in a buffet and don’t just go through adding everything and anything. There are healthier options such as chicken pieces, salad, some past options. Avoid things which are drowning on mayonnaise or other creamy sauces, loads of pastries or bready foods such pizzas, burgers etc.

2. Don’t add it on your plate just because is there and don’t eat just for the sake of it. You do not have to eat from every single platter just because is there.

3. Don’t over fill your plate as if you are not going to see food for the next 10 years. It is a buffet and it could well be that there is enough food to feed the whole of the neighbourhood. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat it all. Add one layer not mountains and when you finish wait 5 minutes before you have a second helping. Think are you really hungry or do you just eat because it is there.

4. Don’t stand over the buffet and keep on picking. Do you ever say ‘I am on a diet’ or ‘I don’t want to eat loads’ and you just put one small piece of something on your plate? Then you sit or stand by the buffet and every 2 minutes you go and pick one thing. You can so easily loose count of how much food you had or what you had. Better put on your plate what you think you are going to eat and eat that, than kid yourself with regular trips and grazing.

4. Sit yourself away from the buffet or with your back to it. You will be less likely to go for seconds if you are not constantly looking for food or if you are sitting in a sit which is harder to go back out to the buffet.

Tip #6: Just because it’s free it doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

You walk through the mall or though the supermarket and there are tones of people who want to sample this and that. You have a tiny piece of chocolate, a piece of cheese, or a piece of cake. In addition, this morning someone brought a box of doughnuts in the office, or there was a buffet in the kid’s school. It is all offered for free so why turn it down.

As with everything else a little piece at the time adds up to a massive piece. You also loose count of what you had and finally just because it is free and someone offers it to you doesn’t mean you have to have it. Saying no thank you is not a bad thing.

Tip #7: Don’t fall into the festive moment of compulsive buying & compulsive eating.

The festive season more than often does end up with masses of money being spend and giving in to compulsive buying. As with everything else left post festivities you have loads of food still to eat in your kitchen.

Marketing is well designed to make you buy and with the festive season is so easy to give in to compulsive shopping without a second thought. But think to yourself do you really need so much of everything. The more you buy the more you are likely to eat and from experience it is usually around March that the last box of chocolate gets eaten.  

Sausage & Fennel Stuffing

Sunday, November 20, 2011 23:38
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From our resident Chef Silvia – her own special stuffing……

“Regardless of who hosts Thanksgiving in my family, I’m always asked to make the stuffing. It’s become a family classic – it’s so flavorful, easy and different. I made this with sweet Italian sausage but you can use hot or a combination. I also spiced it up with a few pinches of crushed red pepper and a diced jalapeno pepper but you can leave that out if you have little ones. This recipe is enough to stuff a small turkey but you can easily double it. ”

Recipe
1 lb. Italian Sausage
14 oz package of corn bread stuffing (or bread stuffing if you prefer)
1 fresh fennel bulb (sliced thinly)
1 large sweet onion (medium dice)
¼ cup of olive oil
1 large fresh garlic clove (medium dice)
2 cups chicken broth
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
1 diced jalapeno pepper (medium dice)
Finish with a about ¼ cup of fresh chopped Italian parsley

In a large sauté pan over medium heat add about ¼ cup of olive oil (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Heat until hot but not smoking and add the onion and the fennel (and the jalapeno pepper).

Cook for about 5 minutes or just until the vegetables are soft and golden.

Add the garlic (and the crushed pepper) and cook for about 15 seconds followed by the sausage.

Cook for about 10 minutes until the meat browns. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl if your pan isn’t large enough to accommodate the stuffing.

Add the stuffing followed by the broth (a little at a time) and stir until all of the mixture is moistened. Finnish with the parsley and that’s it. Stuff your turkey.

Enjoy!

5 Weight loss myths for a safe weight loss

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 14:57
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green tea

If you are looking for weight loss information, you probably read hundreds of weight loss tips and tricks, diet reviews and product showcases but how many of these are truth and which ones are fake or just myths that emerged over time? Read our post below for the top 5 weight loss myths of all times.

Myth #1: Fast weight loss diets work for permanent weight loss

The majority of weight loss programs promise fast and permanent weight loss results. This is one of the biggest weight loss myths for two simple reasons. First rapid weight loss diets are restrictive and this makes it very hard to follow for a long time, as a result people get tired and quit and the result is of course weight gain.  Second, crash diets are unhealthy and sooner or later people realize this and give up.

Do not fall into the traps of marketing gurus, if you want to lose weight permanently then follow healthy weight loss tips and guidelines and have in mind that the recommended (maximum) amount of weight to lose per week is ½ to 2 pounds.

Myth #2: Avoid fat and carbohydrates when dieting

Both carbohydrates and fat are necessary for a healthy body. Completely avoiding them is not recommended and will not aid your weight loss efforts. Following a diet that is very low on carbohydrates will make you feel tired and weak and may cause ketosis which can prove very dangerous in certain cases. Carbohydrates are necessary for normal digestion and also give you the feeling of fullness for longer periods thus saving you calories from ‘unnecessary’ eating.

It is true that fats have twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein but they are necessary to keep your body in normal temperature levels and your stomach full for longer periods.

The only way to lose weight is by following a balanced diet which includes moderate consumption of both carbohydrates and fat. It is no wonder that during a recent study the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet (both diets are balanced diets) were voted as the best weight loss diets.

Myth #3: You can lose weight by exercise alone

It is a fact that exercise is the only way to burn calories. During a normal day your body burns calories to perform the normal body functions (breathing, digestion, walking, etc) but to accelerate this process and burn more calories you have to exercise. Exercise also promotes good health and increases your chances for a permanent and safe weight loss.

Exercise alone though cannot give you optimum results. You also have to be careful on what you eat. Weight loss will happen when the calories you burn are more than the calories you consume. When this deficit is above 3500 calories you will lose one pound. Also, consider that to burn the calories you consume from a meal may take many hours in the gym so by taking care of what you eat your chances of losing weight are greatly increased.

Myth #4: Light or low-fat foods have 0 calories

Not really. Compared to the same size full-fat version the low-fat will have fewer calories but certainly not zero. The label ‘low-fat’ is not representative of the number of calories a food may contain. Some low-fat foods have more calories than the full-fat equivalents because of added sugars or other ingredients that add calories.

Myth #5: Just be careful on what you eat without counting your calories

Many people believe that by just eating less (compared to what they used to eat) will lose weight. This is partly true. If you have more weight than normal then this means that you are consuming more calories than what your body needs. So, one of the expected actions to reverse this situation is to start eating less. But this is not the end of the story. You need to know approximately how many calories to save per day in order to lose weight. By making some simple calculations you can find out how many calories to eat per day, how many calories to burn through exercise and how to distribute your calorie intake between meals.

10 Dining out tips for losing weight

Sunday, November 13, 2011 18:10
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weight loss tips

Eating out is unavoidable but this should not impact your weight loss efforts.  There are little things that make a big difference when eating out and if you manage to follow our weight loss tips correctly, you can enjoy your next meal without feeling guilty and more importantly without breaking your weight loss plan.

10 Dining out tips for losing weight

Tip 1: Select a good restaurant

A ‘good restaurant’ in our context is one that:

Serves a variety of menu dishes (not buffet) including fish and salads

Displays nutritional information for each meal

Has a good reputation for serving fresh food

Tip 2: Decide in advance what to eat

It is better not to go to the restaurant with an empty stomach and it is advisable that you know in advance what to eat. Before leaving home do your research by visiting the web site of the restaurant and make your decisions.

Tip 3: Choose your meals wisely

Eating out once in a while will not destroy your weight loss efforts but it is better to make smart food choices so that the impact is limited to none. As a rule of thumb try to order ‘Mediterranean style’ dishes such as fish, poultry, salads, legumes and whole grains. If this is not possible then give preference to the following dishes:

Steak – remove the fat and eat only the lean part (no sauces or gravy)

Chinese – prefer dishes that have lots of vegetables and avoid eggs as well as sweet and sour sauces. Go for steam rice instead of fried and try to avoid oil as much as possible.

Italian – Pasta with red sauce is a great choice. Carbonara and other cream sauces better be avoided.

Pizza – Vegetarian pizzas or margarita are better.

Mexican – Spicy foods are good for weight loss since they help metabolism. You can order chicken fajitas with vegetables and rice instead of chips. Minimize though the consumption or sour cream.

Tip 4: Drink Water or wine with your food

Soft and alcoholic drinks are full of calories and sugars. You can enjoy your meal with a class of red wine or water. It’s also ok to order a zero (light) soft drink. Also try to avoid fresh fruit juices and cocktails.

Tip 5: Eat an appetizer

It’s a good idea to eat an appetizer before your main meal. This will cut down your hunger and save you many calories. When choosing an appetizer avoid creamy food, cheese (for example nachos), sauces (for example chicken wings with barbecued sauce) and prefer: Salads (for example a small green salad), seafood (smoked salmon is a great choice), soups and vegetables. Have in mind that avocado which is used very often as an appetizer has a lot of fat and calories.

Tip 6: What about side dishes?

Restaurants have many choices for a side dish. You can safely choose steamed or boiled vegetables, baked potato (without butter, cheese or sauces), rice, noodles or even seafood. Potato chips, salads with dressings, fried food is not recommended.

Tip 7: Eating slowly does matter

One of the little things that do play a role is eating slowly and chewing your food very well. When eating slowly you give enough time to the brain to get the ‘signal’ from the stomach that it is full and thus avoiding the consumption of extra and unnecessary calories. Also by chewing your food very well you make the digestion process faster and easier for the stomach. Take your time, talk with your friends, drink your water or wine and enjoy your dinner.

Tip 8: Size does matter

The size of the portion does matter. Restaurants usually have big plates and this makes the food quantity look small but in reality this is not the case. Do not judge the size of the portion from the plate size but during your meal try to stop when you are feeling full. Do not get carried away by what your friends may be doing or eating and make sure that you leave space for a desert as well.

Tip 9: Deserts

Deserts don’t have to be full of fats and sugars to be tasteful. You can still enjoy a fresh fruit salad, a low-fat yogurt or a lemon pie for a desert and be happy. It’s ok to have a small ball of vanilla ice cream but as a rule of thumb try not to eat chocolate cakes, cookies and creamy deserts.

Tip 10: Enjoy your meal without feeling guilty

Even if you eat more than expected it is not the end of the World. Do not feel guilty about it, try to enjoy your meal and try to be better next time. What is important though is to take corrective actions. If for example you eat a few calories more then try to burn those calories the next day by walking, running or using other forms of exercise. You need to keep a balance so that you are happy and satisfied. If you made a mistake during your meal then you need to correct your mistake by doing something more during your exercise sessions.

Dash diet and Mediterranean diet voted as the best overall diets

Saturday, November 5, 2011 14:16
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November 5, 2011. A recent ‘diet ranking’ by 22 experts (under the supervision of USNews.com health section), nominated the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet as the world’s healthiest diets. This is no surprise at all since we have been talking about these diets for a very long time.  In our article last week we explained the real benefits of the Mediterranean diet which go beyond weight loss and DASH diet is included in our ranking for the best weight loss programs.

Both the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet share similar concepts. They are based on the principle of eating healthy food in moderation without exaggerations and by giving preference to lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grain and low fat dairy.

The DASH diet can help prevent and lower high blood pressure (hypertension) and was developed with the endorsement of The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).Besides the benefits of lowering blood pressure the DASH diet can also accelerate weight loss in a healthy manner.

On the other hand, The Mediterranean diet is considered as a heart healthy diet, can help prevent cancer, improve mental health and increase longevity. It is not just a diet but a lifestyle which encourages activity and other healthy habits. One of the unique characteristics of med diet is the consumption of wine in moderation and the excessive use of olive oil.

The other 3 diets that made it to the top of the list are:

TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes)– Created by the national health institute and offers more flexibility than other commercial diets.

Weight Watchers Diet – The best diet among the commercial diets

Mayo Clinic – A healthy diet but not very effective for long term weight loss.

In addition to the above list we would add our own Combination Diet which is based on Mediterranean diet principles. It is also flexible and not restrictive. You can read more in our previous post: Lose weight with the Combination diet.

Certainly if you are looking for healthy ways to lose weight the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are the best you can get, not neglecting the effectiveness of TLC, Weight Watchers, Mayo Clinic and Combination diet.

In general when choosing a diet to lose weight you should always select a diet that you can follow and can fit in your own lifestyle. Avoid restrictive diets and prefer non-commercial diets since these are created for the whole purpose of helping you lose weight and life healthier and not for the intention of making profit.

The real benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Sunday, October 30, 2011 8:15
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mediterranean diet

It is a common claim that people in the Mediterranean live longer and are stronger and healthier. Is it true or is it a claim to help sale olive oil?

The Mediterranean dietary pattern has been linked with weight loss and positive health outcomes. Studies seem to be supportive of following a Mediterranean dietary pattern as a solution for weight loss and obesity.

We already nominated the Mediterranean diet as the best diet in our previous post 5 best weight loss programs for women and we have seen how to lose weight with the combination diet, a diet based on the Mediterranean dietary pattern.

In this article we have gathered a summary of some of the real benefits of the Mediterranean diet which go beyond weight loss.

The Mediterranean diet defined

The Mediterranean diet derives from the countries based in the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The differences in dietary habits, cooking style ethnic and religious customs make it impossible to give one single definition of what the Mediterranean diet is.

Much of the scientific research originally looked at the benefits of the Cretan diet in Greece. Later studies looked and compared diets in the rest of Greece and Northen Italy. There are common components shared in the dietary patterns in all the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea however, at the same time there is a large diversity.
Therefore, it may be more accurate to refer to a Mediterranean dietary pattern or style rather than a ‘Mediterranean diet’.

Health benefits – cardiovascular disease

One of the main elements of the Mediterranean dietary pattern is the high consumption of foods deriving from plant origin such as fruit and vegetables. Why is this beneficial?

Plant foods are rich in fibre, vitamins minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols, factors which can lead to a number of health benefits. Studies indicate that such elements can have a protective role from cancer and CHD (coronary heart disease). A lot of the characteristic of the plant-derived foods consumed in a Mediterranean dietary pattern such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, garlic, herbs, and red wine contain a large amount of bioactive compounds. These can collectively provide significant health benefits. For example, nuts, are rich in phenols, flavonoids, and phytosterols, fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids, carotenoids, folic acid, and fibre, all of which are important in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health benefits – cancer and other conditions

The protective benefits of the Mediterranean dietary pattern, against disease, don’t stop only with cardiovascular conditions. Some of the food elements which are part of the Mediterranean dietary pattern, such as aromatic herbs and wild greens, contain antioxidants and other compounds which may have a protective role against cancer and other diseases.

In addition, according to some studies this style of eating has been associated with positive outcomes for insulin resistance (improving insulin sensitivity) and lowering the risk of developing diabetes, inflammation and other conditions.

Drinking wine is a good thing

It is not often you hear the health experts and scientist saying that having alcohol is good. Some of the protective against disease elements of the Mediterranean diet are awarded to the moderate consumption of wine.

The moderate consumption of red wine in particular (1-2 small glasses per day for men and 1 glass per day for women) is suggested to help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol contained in the wine is believed to favourably change the balance of fats in the blood which results in production of the HDL (high density lipoprotein) or what people tend to refer to as ‘good cholesterol’. Another benefit of consuming alcohol but in moderate amounts is that alcohol tends to stop the blood from clotting together. Finally, wine can contain antioxidants as resveratrol, quercitin and epicatechin which can have a protective role in the blood vessels.

Some studies argue that in the case of women wine consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer. Although these links are not always clear cut, in general it advised that women don’t consume wine and alcohol in large amounts.

Beneficial for mental health

Some studies have also looked into the benefits of following a Mediterranean dietary pattern in terms of mental health. Although scientific evidence are not as clear studies support there is a link between following a Mediterranean dietary style and reduced risk of developing some mental health conditions. For example some studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean dietary pattern show decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Live longer

Studies have shown that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns tend to live longer. It is not just an olive oil advert, but it is a scientific fact. I guess it kind of makes sense that if you have fewer diseases you will live longer. Yes that may be one reason why the Mediterranean dietary pattern has been connected with longevity. However, apart from keeping away from diseases which could kill you sooner, elements of the Mediterranean dietary pattern have been suggested to promote longevity.

Variability in the menu

With more than 18 countries based in the Mediterranean region there is plenty to choose from. Each country has its own recipes, customs and styles which can provide the Mediterranean menu with huge variability. Variations are also found within regions of every country so one kind of food may have hundreds of ways by which it can be cooked.

One could argue that you will never feel bored and you can always find something to like in such a huge menu.

Palatability

Apart from being spoilt for choice the menu can quite palatable dishes. In the Mediterranean regions recipes use plethora of aromatic herbs and spices, wine, and other taste enhancing elements.

The use of such herbs and spices is not only good for the taste but also for health. A lot of these aromatic herbs have protective effects on health. For example rosemary and sage are antioxidants possibly due to the components (such as polyphenols or isoprenoids) they contain.

Weight loss

The Mediterranean dietary pattern has also been praised for helping in weight loss. Mediterranean style diets are believed to offer a healthy balanced option which can be low in calories.

Obviously a dietary style/pattern is what you make of it. For example, vegetables are, in general, low in calories and can contain vitamins and minerals. However, depending on how they are processed and cooked they may provide a meal with high calorific content and very little nutritional value.

The French paradox

Traditionally the French diet is rich in saturated fats, animal products such as cream, meats and they consume high amounts of wine. However, despite following such a diet they used to have low rates of cardiovascular disease and cholesterol and in majority they were very slim.

These statistics have changed in more recent times in which the French follow more westernized diets. A lot of scientists have tried to give different explanations for what they call the “French Paradox” but in general they believe that drinking wine and consuming large amounts of fruit and veg. are some of the main reasons for this phenomenon.

Similarly the Cretan diet can consist of a lot of red meat in some regions, however, the Cretan diet is considered as one of the healthiest.

Chef Silvia’s Advice “Change the recipe – in life and in the Kitchen!

Friday, October 21, 2011 12:48
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Our resident chef, Silvia, has a important words of wisdom for your life and when dealing with recipes in the kitchen……

In order to change anything in your life, change the recipe you’re using. The recipe always involves what you think, believe and do. Examine the ingredients that go into these three areas and continue using the ones that produce the results you want. Replace the ones that no longer work with new ingredients that do. The results will speak for themselves. Keep tweaking the recipe until you’re happy with what you’ve got.

Recipes are a hard thing to write. After having written hundreds of them, it does get easier but not less challenging. That’s because people expect them to be exact and I know there’s no such thing. How can there be when the very nature of a recipe is to merely be a guide? True, baking recipes come closer to being an exact formula, but cooking has another story.

When I give a cooking class, I never hand out recipes until after the class. That’s because I want the student’s attention on what is taking place around them, not on a piece of paper. Though having to create something without step-by-step instructions is enough to make some people quite uncomfortable, I know it’s the only way to learn. They learn by doing, by noticing how something tastes, smells, feels and looks. They learn that a “mistake” often leads to new discoveries and if not, if it’s truly inedible and can’t be fixed…you simply start over.

The reason a recipe cannot be exact is that a recipe is affected not only by the quality and differences of the ingredients used, but by what is expressed from within the cook. I know that to teach someone how to cook is to give them the tools to create a life…along with something good to eat. Cooking is a sacred act. Stirring a sauce with happiness will bring more flavor to it than anything you can add from the spice rack.

The famous chef Thomas Keller said, “A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.”

So let a recipe guide you to new culinary adventures. Celebrate your mistakes. Share your triumphs. Play with the variety of fresh ingredients available this harvest season…and send me your recipes
.
Enjoy this season of harvest,

Chef Silvia

Every autumn, as the weather begins to get nippy and the air is crisp, I’m delighted because now I can begin to make soup. And if there’s any recipe that is open to variations, it’s soup. To inspire you, take a look at what I did as a variation of split pea soup.

Split Pea and Tomato Soup with Sausage
1 lb of split peas (rinsed and any small stones removed)
¼ cup of olive oil
1 lb. of your favorite sausage (cut into bite sized pieces)
Half a small onion (or shallot) medium diced
1 fresh garlic clove (fine diced)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Half of a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
Tablespoon or two of chicken base (or bouillon)
8 cups water
Season to taste
Finish with chopped fresh parsley

In a medium/large saucepan, over medium/high heat add ¼ cup of olive oil or just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the sausage and brown on all sides. Add onion and cook until softened. Add the pepper flakes and the garlic. Cook for a few seconds, quickly followed by the tomatoes (this will prevent the garlic from burning). Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes and then add the water. Bring to a boil and add the chicken base. Stir. Lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook for an hour or so or until the peas arrive at your desired level of doneness. Add more chicken base or water if needed and season to taste. Serve in individual bowls and finish with parsley.

Lose weight with the combination diet

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 10:59
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When I was writing the ‘Combination Diet’ book someone asked me if writing a diet book was a wise decision. Their argument was that there are so many diet books out there written by big ‘celebrity status’ names and so called diet gurus, backed up by big companies and advertising campaigns. So they quite rightly asked ‘What makes you think that your book can compete with all these?’

I say a fair enough question and here is my answer. First I am not writing a book to compete with anybody. Secondly if all the weight problems were solved and covered by all these books and diets then why is obesity reaching epidemic levels? From my experience so far I can say that there is a considerable amount of people visiting weight loss websites every day and they all are looking for the same thing; a weight loss solution.

Will the combination diet be the answer to all weight problems?

To put it quite simply, No it will not. Each and every one of us is a unique oddity and we can’t believe that one simple thing will suit each and every one of the few trillion of us around the world. Yes there is such a thing as optimum nutrition or the best recommended diet pattern but let’s be totally honest it is not for everybody. There will always be an ‘X’ diet which works for ‘Z’ amount people and an ‘A’ diet which will suit ‘B’ amount of people.

Dieting is a personal thing; we all have different tastes, different lifestyles, different metabolism, different habits and preferences. To try and fit everybody in one box will be like setting up our self to fail.

What does the Combination Diet has to offer then?

Through our experience in the weight loss field, (the team who some of you may already know through the weight loss articles) we have seen that people are looking for answers. We gathered this experience and all the information you all have passed to us through the time with your contact, comments and questions and we decided to put the ‘Combination Diet’ together. So basically the project was inspired by what people have showed us they want and need. 

Why that diet regime? We looked at our scientific knowledge and we looked at what science says and we put together a healthy, balanced diet which aims to return weight loss results. Our no 1 goal was weight loss and our no 2 goal was health. Our philosophy was try to provide people with a solution which will be easy, practical and above all healthy. As you may know there are numerous ways and diets you can go about losing weight but there are not always healthy.

From the above, and to quote my own self, we thought that not everybody is the same and so the ‘Combination Diet’ had to offer flexibility. Indeed flexibility in terms of food choices and calories to be consumed is the no1 philosophy of the diet.

What else is different?

Weight loss is not always an easy job, as some of you may know. We did not want to just sell a diet to people but put together a lifelong solution. Therefore, we have created the ‘combination diet’ package. The book itself is packed with tips and guidance for every step of dieting whether being with following the ‘combination’ regime or whether being making a lifestyle change, or following any weight loss regime. In addition, we have added an exercise section to further help you tackle and improve abdominal condition.

But it doesn’t stop there…there is actually more added on to it. With buying the combination diet you are actually buying to a membership which entitles you to online services such as calorie counter, food and activities diaries and support from our experts. In other words you are not alone. We are there to guide you and help you in your weight loss steps. Our aim is to continuously update the members’ site with tips, menus, recipes and with whatever else you tell us you need.

More on the diet.

I was looking at the diet 2 days ago with one of my colleagues and I simply said tell me any comments. After going through the diet she said to me I could never eat tuna for breakfast, I would be sick, I don’t like salmon and I think I could only eat eggs for a couple of days. My response to her was ‘What do you like to eat?’ It turns out that she can only eat porridge and although she wants to lose her belly ready for the Christmas period she couldn’t give up her porridge.

I bring this example as I am sure a lot of people may think along similar ways. I would never in a million years want to create a diet which would be a torture for people. This is one main reason why the diet had to be flexible. The diet offers lists of menus for main meals and additional choices which you can combine with your main meals. In that respect you can chose what you want to eat, when you want to eat it and how much you want to eat. There will be choices which you don’t like at all, well then you don’t have to eat them.

The nutritional and calorie information which come with all the choices will further help you to set your own calorie range to follow every day. There is a step by step guide to help you determine how to set your own calorie range depending on how much weight you want to lose. Are you having difficulty to decide how or what to do, then ask us and we will help you.

To go back to my colleagues comments I have added a few weight loss tips to further take with you with the ‘Combination Diet’.

        Tip1.   You do not have to be rigid in following the combination diet. The menus provided are a guide. For some people the choices may suit them just fine for others it may not be all to their taste and preference.

        Tip2.   If the above is the case then make a list of the foods which is no absolute way that you can give up. For Stella it was porridge for breakfast, for you it may be something else. Once you done the list go through it and try to think if you can give it up for a few days, not at all, or if they could comfortably go to a ‘once a week’ category.

        Tip3.   Be realistic with your list. Well if your list includes I can’t give up on chips and pizza, be realistic that this kind of food will not lead to weight loss if eaten every day unless you starve all day just to have chips and pizza for dinner. Well that is unrealistic and unhealthy. If you are willing to eat chips and pizza once a week then this is more realistic and possible.

        Tip4.   Put foods which you can’t stop eating in small portions (bag or container etc). For example: Is it chocolate your biggest weakness? Cut the chocolate in small portions and store it in separate bags. Make an agreement with yourself as to when you will eat a portion of chocolate and stick to it. The agreement could be I will eat one portion a day, or I will eat it only when my friend come around for coffee, it can be as specific or as general as it suits you. Make sure you calculate the calories of a portion of the food of your choice and add it to your daily calorie intake.

        Tip5.   If you are like Stella and you can only have one thing for breakfast then don’t torture yourself trying to give it up. Try to make it as healthy as possible. In the case of Stella I would say that porridge can be high in sugars especially when adding syrup, sugar, jam etc for taste. Avoid the syrup and add a handful of nuts. Nuts can keep you feeling full for longer so you will not be getting the sugar cravings mid day. Or make sure you have a nice protein based snack or nuts if you do feel the mid day cravings. Use our food finder to calculate how many calories are in porridge and add it up. Adapt the diet to your needs and not your needs to the diet.

        Tip6.   Follow the principles of the diet for any other food changes. For example if you don’t like chicken and you prefer turkey then make sure you grill it and not fry it and again use the food finder in the site to find how many calories that food has.

        Tip7.   Be realistic with your weight loss goals and the diet results. Well is needless to say that if you do chose to have a small portion of chips with your dinner every day, because you cannot live without chips then you will also need to be more linear with your expectation. It could mean that losing that extra pound it may take a little bit longer. At the end of the day you will not be losing loads of weight by eating chips. The idea is that if keeping the chips will mean sticking to a diet then that is better than not losing weight at all or resulting to extreme and possibly unhealthy option (i.e. tape warms).

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