How to lose weight while in college?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 15:10
Comments Off on How to lose weight while in college?

It is very common for college students to gain weight during their first year in college. In this article we explain what you should do in order to reverse the situation and actually propose 6 weight loss tips on how to lose weight while in college.

Question: Hello! I’m 18 years old and just returned home from my first year away at college.  I’ve always been very skinny (5′ 3″ and 110 lbs), but my first year of college I gained the dreaded freshman 15, more like 20.  I’m home for summer now and weigh 132 lbs.  I’m so devastated that I gained that much weight that quickly, especially considering I was more physically active at college than I had been my last year of high school. I took up running as a hobby and even ran my first 10K race.  With that in mind, I cannot believe the amount of weight that I gained.  The areas I am most concerned with are my tummy, love handles, thighs, and rear. It’s now almost summer and I’m embarrassed with my weight, especially given all of the running I’ve done.  I want to lose this weight as quickly as possible. WHAT CAN I DO? Please help.

Answer (by Hara Hagikalfa)


Thank you for your question and apologies for any delays in responding to you. I have calculated your BMI and as far as I can tell from the information you have provided you are within the normal range. At your pre-college weight (110 lbs) you were actually borderline underweight, which is not actually very good. I understand that it may not feel right to you as you are used to be thinner but is not always healthy or good to be too thin. Therefore, if you do want to lose a little bit of weight I would suggest you don’t aim to lose more than a stone (14 lbs). Also you do not need to be embarrassed about your weight. As I said you are within the healthy weight range and I am sure that with all the running you are quite fit as well.

You mention that you did quite a lot of running this year. That would mean that you have probably put on some more muscle on your legs. Muscle does weigh more than fat and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of pounds are due to developing muscles. This is a good thing though and it does not mean to say that you have put on weight.

It is sometimes common that people who take on exercising such as running to increase their carbohydrate intake. You do need to have an adequate carbohydrate intake to fuel exercise however, if you have overly increased your carbohydrate intake your diet could be consisting by more calories than you need and therefore gaining weight. Also things like alcohol can add calories which you may not think were there.

It very good that you have been exercising and I would hugely recommend you keep with it and don’t let your weight gain put you off. If you can keep on doing some of your running at your holidays as well it would be even better not only because is good for you but also if you stop exercising you would decrease your energy expenditure which will make losing weight harder.

Weight loss tips for college students

1. I always suggest that people keep a diary of their food/drink intake and their activities for a few days or 1 week. This will give you the opportunity to see what you eat or drink which may contribute in putting on weight. You can also see what could have changed in what or how much you eat in comparison to pre-college time.

2. You could add some resistance exercises as well targeting the areas which you are most worried such as tummy, thighs and waist (love handles). You don’t have to join the gym you can spend 30min before you go running (recommended before as it helps with fat burning) in the house. Some example exercises are:

crunches (for you tummy),

the bridge exercise (works bottom, hamstrings which are the muscles at the back of your legs and tummy)

side leg circles (thighs, tummy and bottom),

flatter kicks (hamstrings and tummy) and push ups.

You can find information about these exercises in the internet, but if unsure about performing any of these do consult an exercise professional i.e. gym instructor to avoid any injuries (see also 28 weight loss tips with exercise). Also do exercises according to your own ability and level and increase intensity and/or difficulty as your ability and fitness increase. You don’t need to do a lot of repetitions, maybe start with like 10 crunches, and 2-3 push ups and 5 reps for the other exercises. You will find that by toning your torso and hamstrings it will help you with your running and also will create a balance in muscles and can help to avoid running injuries such as knee injuries which can be common with runners. Most of all it will help to condition the muscles in the areas you want to target and get rid of the fat around. You can also look on my answer for ‘How can I get rid of love handles’ for more ideas. Always have a day off from exercise though to allow your body to rest and rebuild.

In terms of food:

3. 1st look at your diary to see what could be that you can cut out. It may be the extra biscuit or one too many cereal bars (not as good as they meant to be). Start by making these little changes.

4. Have a delayed protein breakfast. When I say delayed it doesn’t mean to say wait for hours, just delaying your breakfast by 30min is enough. This helps to burn more fat. Example of protein breakfast could be eggs, bacon (grilled not fried), cheese, ham and yogurt. You can see more information on ‘How can I get rid of love handles’.

5. You do need carbohydrates if you are exercising, but you can opt for healthier options such as brown rice and have plenty of vegetables and salads. For example you could have a chicken salad for lunch and rice with tuna and veg/salad for dinner. You don’t need to starve yourself or deprive yourself from things you may like. Just make them healthier. Have a take away but make it be only once a week. Have a fruit salad or a handful of nuts instead of a cake (eat nuts with caution. They are very nutritious but also they have high calorie content); avoid too many coffees with sugar and cream or too many sugary fizzy drinks (coke, orange drinks etc). Some studies suggest that green tea helps with weight loss, you can add some in your day; don’t fry your food grill it instead or have roasted potatoes (in moderation) instead of chips.

6. If you keep on exercising you will not need to lower your calories dramatically in order to lose weight. You do need to have adequate energy intake. By making some of the above changes, such as eating smaller carb (i.e. pasta, potatoes, bread) portions with salad instead of one big carb meal such as pizza, you will find that you will be eating fewer calories anyway. The good thing about veg and salad is that you can eat loads of it and they have low calorie content, and off course they are healthy. However, try not to drown them in salad sauces such as mayonnaise. Opt for a bit of oil, vinaigrette, lemon instead. Women in average need 1500 – 2000 kcal. If you are exercising you are probably in the higher end of the range if not more. Calorie requirements for each individual can be different and can depend on age, activities, environment, build etc. To lose weight you just need to have a small calorie deficiency, and use more energy than you burn. As long as you don’t consume massive amount of calories exercise should create that deficiency. However, always make sure that you don’t create a massive deficiency as you need the energy for exercising and you don’t want to make yourself ill either.

If at any point you have any concerns, health complaints or if you do suffer from any health conditions always consult a medical professional before making any changes in your diet or exercise.


What is HCG Diet and can it help you lose weight?

Sunday, May 22, 2011 8:42
Comments Off on What is HCG Diet and can it help you lose weight?

The HCG diet dates as far back as 1954 when it was first introduced by Dr, Simeons. Dr. Simeons was a British physician and who carried out studies on obesity and came across HCG while in Rome practicing medicine.

The HCG diet has since been a controversial subject and although it is practiced in a number of clinics it is still not recognised by the FDA as safe. In this article we will look at what is the HCG, if safe and most of all does it work for weight loss?

The HCG diet explained

The HCG diet as practiced today is pretty much the same as the HCG diet Dr. Simeons introduced 57 years ago. There may be different variation of the diet available; however they are all based on the principles of Dr. Simeons. The original form of the diet consists of consuming a very low calorie diet of 500 kcal supplemented with low doses of HCG on a daily basis. The HCG can be taken via injection, orally (liquid or pills) and more recently is available as a transdermal (on the skin) cream.

The hormone used in the weight loss programs is usually laboratory produced from cell cultures and not harvested from pregnant women. In some diet protocols a homeopathic version may be used which can be taken in the form of a spray or drops.

The diet can be followed for a long period, and usually a 40 injection or a 15 kg weight loss limit is imposed at a time.

What can you eat with the HCG diet?

The 500 kcal food intake proposed with the diet can be quite strict. The original protocol devised by Dr. Simeons allows seasoning, tea, coffee and water. Also the ratios for the 500 kcal should come from approximately 200gr of fat-free protein and a very small amount of starch. A list of vegetables is allowed as is a specific list of fruit.

Some variations of the diet can be less strict; however they still do limit the food intake in 500 kcal per day. One of the popular protocols available is that devised by Kevin Tredeau. His protocol is divided into four phases. Kevin Trudeau’s protocol in general recommends organic food, plenty of herbal teas and some exercise and is a little bit less strict than the original protocol.

What is HCG?

HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone and is secreted during pregnancy from the fertilised embryo at first and then from the placenta. The role of HCG during pregnancy is to preserve the corpus luteum (the site in the ovaries where the egg has come from). The corpus luteum in return will secrete the hormone progesterone and oestrogen. It is also considered to be involved in the foetal production of testosterone, enhance corticosteroid production and suppress the mother’s immune reaction to the foetus. Some studies also suggest that HCG hormone in pregnancy is involved in conserving energy and fat deposition and is one of the mechanisms responsible for women gaining weight during pregnancy.

HCG is also used to treat some medical conditions and as a fertility treatment.

HCG and weight loss: the theory

  • The theory behind the HCG is that the hormone plays a role in stimulating the hypothalamus (part of the brain). The hypothalamus which is related in controlling metabolism will then mobilise the fat from the fat stores of the body and make them available for use. Some of the clinics / theories support that the HCG diet will ‘reset’ the hypothalamus.
  • The 500 kcal food intake is related in that the dieter does not need any more calories as the body will be using the fat which is released from the fat stores. Some studies have also suggested that HCG works in releasing fat when a low calorie intake (energy deficiency) is present.
  • Dieters should expect to lose an average of 1 – 2 pounds of fat per day. The clinics support that it is healthy to lose that amount of weight per day as it all comes from fat and not from muscle. Exercise is sometimes recommended to guarantee fast weight loss, as is increasing vegetable and fibre intake.
  • Dieters should be expected to feel hunger at the first few days but that will slowly stop. Supported on the theory that energy will be coming from the fat stores, dieters are advised that they will feel healthy and will report a feeling of wellbeing.
  • HCG diet will ‘reset’ the hypothalamus and it will also help in making a change for the better in appetite. The eating behaviours adopted through the HCG diet will stay with the dieters even after they have finished. Exercise is recommended in order to maintain the weight loss.

HCG diet the facts and weight loss tips to take with you

  • Most of Dr. Simeons theories come from observations he made himself through his practice. There are a few studies carried out in the 1960’s and ‘70’s however they have shown controversial results. More recent studies and reviews carried out in the effectiveness of HCG hormone in obesity and weight loss suggest that there is not enough scientific evidence to support that it actually works. More specifically they suggest that there is not enough scientific evidence to show that HCG causes weight loss, redistribution of fat, decreases hunger or that it induces a feeling of well-being.


  • A study carried out in 2007 looked at the effects of HCG in vitro (in the direct cellular level rather than indirect measurements i.e. weight measurements, observations etc). Researchers found that HCG had no direct effect in the breakdown and mobilisation of fat from the tissues. They also suggested that HCG plays a role in conserving energy and may be an influencing factor in weight gain and fat deposition in pregnancy. One of the side effects included for use of HCG as a fertility drug is weight gain.


  • One theory the above study suggested is that HCG may indirectly through other pathways stimulate growth hormone which can influence weight loss. An argument that can be made here is that, if weight loss is achieved through growth hormone stimulation and not directly from the HCG, then why not supplement with growth hormone instead and get the same results.


  • Most clinics will argue that there aren’t any serious side effects or dangers with using HCG in the low dosages the diet suggests. Some of the people, who have reviewed HCG, suggest that some of the side effects include nausea, headaches, constipation, cramps, and trouble with sleeping.


  • Supplementation of HCG is not approved by the FDA as a safe weight loss protocol.


  • A lot of people will testify that it works and they will lose weight. With a 500 kcal food intake anybody would lose weight. That calorie intake would be borderline malnutrition and if you starve yourself for as long as the diet suggests no doubt you will lose a lot of weight. This is not miracle or magic cure. Even with metabolism slowing down, 500 kcal are hardly enough to cover for basic energy requirements. The energy you need to be alive let alone function has to come from somewhere, so your body will mobilise its stores, including fat, glycogen (sugar store) and protein.


  • With such a low calorie regime you will not just lose weight, you will lose water and protein (in the form of muscle, enzymes etc). This is not recommended as healthy and can have negative effects to health.


  • Another testimony that I have come across is that people must stick to the 500 kcal as even an alcoholic drink or the slightest of deviation will cause them to put on a couple of pound overnight. Well I will argue here that if HCG is such a miracle making weight loss cure a slight calorie deviation surely shouldn’t cause you to put on weight? With such a low calorie intake the body will try to reserve as much as possible. So if you give it a little bit of extra calories will think that it needs to save it as is hard times.


  • Hunger will disappear after a few days. This is normal and observed in starvation as well. There are a number of things that happen in the body such as using ketone bodies (derived from break down of fat and protein) to make energy.


  • If you are determined to follow the HCG diet regardless do try to do it in the safest of ways.


  • Consult a medical professional. You could have an underlined medical condition that could be affected from HCG. In addition, the low calorie intake could affect your health. Do not follow if pregnant.


  • I would not recommend following exercise through the diet. This is not something I would usually say, but such a low calorie intake coupled with exercise can place considerable amounts of stress to the body. Moreover, 500 kcal may not be sufficient energy intake to sustain the exercise requirements. If you are putting too much strain in your body can have detrimental effects to your well-being and health.


  • Try buying the hormone or following the diet form a reputable source. Especially when purchasing from the internet, as you have no means to know what they are selling you. Prefilled injections could also be contaminated, not prepared under proper conditions and guidelines, and most of all the quality could be compromised. It is your body and it is your health. Make sure is safe.


  • Give the healthy balanced diet coupled with exercise option a try. It may prove as effective and healthier.

HCG diet review by Hara Hagikalfa

Can weight loss supplements help you lose weight?

Sunday, May 15, 2011 13:18
Comments Off on Can weight loss supplements help you lose weight?

Weight loss supplements and pills, do they work? With thousands of people, all over the world, interested to lose weight the market has just about everything to offer. With compliance to conventional weight loss programs being poor, a vast array of weight loss supplements have been developed and marketed claiming to be effective. Undoubtedly ‘weight loss’ is an ever growing lucrative business and weight loss supplements account for a large part of it. The role of medication in weight loss is quite a controversial subject and often the results are limited.

See Also: Quick weight loss diets

With so many available how can someone choose which supplement to take and most importantly do they actually work? This article will look at weight loss supplements and their effectiveness in weight loss management.

Weight loss supplements general information

Dietary and weight loss supplements in the USA are regulated by the FDA which places dietary supplements under the general category of ‘foods’. The FDA states that it is the manufacturers’ responsibility to make sure a product is safe however, the manufacturers do not have to show what evidence they have for their claims about a specific supplement.

Types of weight loss supplements and their effects

Considering the vast amount of supplements in the market, it is beyond the scope of this article to look at each brand, or product separately. Dietary supplements can be divided into categories according to their effects. These categories include:

  • Stimulants, energy / metabolism boosters, thermogenic agents.

The general (and simplified) theory behind these compounds is that they mimic or affect hormonal / neurological pathways which in return are involved in breaking down fat. Example of such pathways is the stimulation of adrenaline and noradrenaline (also called epinephrine). Eg. Ephedrine, ephedra, caffeine bitter orange, theophylline or theobromine (from cola nut, guarama or mate).

Effects: Ephedrine and ephedra were banned from the US market in 2004 due to adverse effects and increased risk of psychiatric, neural and cardiovascular complaints. In general there is little evidence that stimulants have considerable effects in weight loss.

  • Appetite suppressants

In theory appetite suppressant supplements work directly or indirectly on pathways (hormonal, neural etc) which are involved in regulating appetite. In simple words if people are less hungry they will eat less. Some of the most common ingredients in appetite suppressants are: Phentermine, Benzphetamine, Phendimetrazine, Sibutramine Topiramate and Rimonabant.

Effects: Topiramate and Rimonabant have been associated with weight loss but are not yet approved by the FDA. There is little evidence to support that appetite suppressants have significant results in weight loss.

  • Fat and/or carbohydrate modulators and absorption blockers.

In theory they stop (inhibit) the absorption of a portion of the ingested fat or carbohydrate. Most commonly known is Orlistat.

Effects: Most studies have shown that people who were taking orlistat lost more weight than those who didn’t. However, the mean weight lost was not very high, and also when people stopped taking the orlistat they gained most of the weight back, although they were in weight maintenance diets. Some beneficial effects to cholesterol and glucose tolerance have been observed. Moreover, adverse effects include diarrhoea and oily stool are common (especially if the diet is high in fat), decrease in fat soluble vitamins, risk of essential fatty acid deficiency and in theory increased risk of colon cancer. See also: Carbohydrates and weight loss

  • Laxatives

Laxatives are primarily foods or drugs which stimulate evacuation of the bowel.

Effects: There is no substantial evidence that laxatives increase weight loss. Stools, in the colon, are usually waste products and undigested food, nutrients and calories have been absorbed in prior stages. Also laxatives and subsequent diarrhoea caused by laxatives, can lead to losing substantial amounts of fluids from the body. One part of weight loss can be attributed to simply fluid loss and in addition, it can lead to dehydration.

Tips for using weight loss supplements

1. For majority of the weight loss supplements in the marker, there is NO sufficient scientific evidence to support their claims.

2. There are a number of adverse effects which have been associated with a number of the weight loss supplements. Some of these can be dangerous especially if pre-existing health conditions are present. An example is side effects of increase in blood pressure and palpitations in combination with cardiovascular conditions.

3. Luck of research in the weight loss results of supplements also means luck of research in the health risks. A lot of the supplements do not have sufficient information about their long term effects to health.

4. If you have any health conditions or concerns always consult a medical professional before taking any weight loss supplements.

5. Just because they are approved by the FDA does not mean they work or that they are always safe.

6. Avoid buying supplements from dubious websites that promise the earth and moon in results.

7. Try researching about the ingredients. Simple searches on the internet in sites such as the FDA can provide you with some basic information about the ingredients. Alternative ask your pharmacist.

8. Calcium and green tea have been shown to aid with weight loss. This is true for dietary calcium and not for supplements. Calcium and green tea have also been shown to help with weight maintenance as well.

9. Lifestyle changes (i.e. increase physical activity) and diet can have better long term effects.

10. People usually put the weight back on after they stopped taking weight loss supplements. They have often been described as a short term solution to a long term problem. Even if weight loss is achieved without long term diet and life style changes the results will be short lived. There is a reason why you may have put on that extra weight. Start from removing the reason.

11. Some people will claim that they use weight loss supplements to kick start weight loss and motivate themselves in sticking with a program. If that is the case make sure that you do it safe. Choose those supplements which have the least adverse effects, give the most and detailed information about their effects and ideally name the studies which support them.

12. Take them safely. Do not increase the dosages to increase results and always follow the instructions provided.        

13. Last but not least, avoid them all together if you can. Do not forget that healthy weight loss is the best way to get slimmer.

Are quick weight loss diets healthy?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 15:30
Comments Off on Are quick weight loss diets healthy?

A couple of days ago we reviewed the most popular weight loss diets. Today we are going to discuss another hot topic in the area of weight loss and this is no other than quick weight loss. Is there such thing as quick weight loss? Are there any quick weight loss diets that work and is losing weight quickly healthy?

Solely for the purposes of this article I will divide these diets into 2 categories. This is not a scientific division of diet regimes just an easy way of looking into them. One category includes the low calorie diets with or without a miracle nutritional aid and the other the nutritional and lifestyle modifying diets.

1. Low calorie diets and very low calorie diets (VLCD). With low calorie diets weight loss will be achieved if followed for a period of time. However, a lot of them tend to lack of essential nutrients, and they can result in the metabolism slowing down. Other adverse effects can include headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, tiredness and irritability. Needless to say that, such diets are not healthy especially if followed for long periods. Side effects can depend on the severity of the calorie restriction. Diets such as the HCG diet restrict the calories to 500 per day which is by far a healthy recommended calorie level.

Apart from the health issues which surround VLCDs, such diets, are hard to follow and after the initial few days the metabolism tends to slow down resulting in actually decreasing the rate in which weight is lost. Moreover, a lot of the weight lost does not come only from fat reserves but also from protein. The actual reserves of stored protein in the body are very small which means that large amount of the protein lost during radical calorie restrictions would come from enzymes, muscles, organs and tissues.

Fasting style diets and increased calorie restriction can influence thyroid and hormone functions. These diets can also be stressful for the body and/or increase the levels of stress.

Some studies indicate that in the case of obesity, very VLCDs are the best solution. However, it should be considered that in obesity the body has been adapted and used to a specific way of working. Any sudden and radical changes could be a huge shock for the body to cope. Such changes should be made under medical consultation and supervision.

2. Nutritional and lifestyle modifying diets. Through the years the trends in modifying everyday diets has shifted from high carb – low fat to high protein diets. Although it must be noted that high protein diets are not a new thing and some of them date back in the 70s, and some of them such as the Atkins diet, tend to come in and out of popularity.

More and more studies suggest that high protein diets can have favourable results in weight loss and health. However, a lot of the diets can be restrictive in the vegetable intake or not include a wide variety of nutrients. In addition, when moving from a high carb to an extremely low carbohydrate diet, the body can take up to 2 weeks to adjust. During that period of adjustment, adverse effects can include tiredness, carb craving, mood changes, constipation, and irritability. In addition, intake of vegetables and fruit is highly recommended for better health outcomes.

One could argue that making a whole diet and lifestyle change it is a better option than short fix diets. That could be true, as long as the diet modifications do have better health outcomes and are a diet that an individual is happy with. If happy with the diet there are more chances to adhere with it.

10 Diet tips to identify which quick weight loss diets work?

Bellow I have summarised some diet tips about quick weight loss diets to help you navigate through them.

1. To my knowledge there is not such a thing as miracle food, food aid or diet which will break the rules of nature. Weight loss is a very lucrative business and there are a lot of diets which aim in you spending money or advertising a specific product.

2. The first week of dieting you will not lose significant measurable amount of fat and it will mostly be water. Fact

3. Therefore, a lot of the VLCDs which are design for a small period of time i.e. 2days-1week will not actually lead to significant fat reductions. Once you stop following these diets the weight will be gained back as most of it was just water.

4. You should not follow VLCDs for long periods as the health effects can be serious.

5. If you have any health conditions or concerns, always consult a health professional.

6. It is best when modifying your diet to do it gradually to allow for your body to adjust and avoid adverse effects such as mood changes, cravings, and constipation.

7. If following a higher protein diet increase your water and liquid intake as high protein can increase the water loss.

7. The best and most efficient way to speed up weight loss is with exercise. Opt for a mixture between aerobic and strength exercise. You don’t have to join the gym or torture yourself, sometimes simple everyday activities such as walking, cycling and cleaning the house can be as good.

8. Always look at the credentials of a diet. Just because it carries the name of a doctor it doesn’t necessarily make it healthy or safe. A lot of the diets regimes in circulation do not have good quality research to back them up in terms of results and safety.

In addition, just because the celebrity world or the stars follow one regime doesn’t mean is healthy, or even results in sustainable weight loss. Celebrities have the time, the personal assistants, and cooks, trainers and so on to help them lose weight and sustain it. Moreover, celebrities can suffer from adverse effects and health conditions as a result of their dieting even if it’s not made public. Most importantly they have airbrushing and photo manipulation, there is a whole different world out there in the naked eye…

9. With VLVCDs is almost guaranteed that the weight will be re-gained. The best way to sustain weight loss is to change lifestyle and follow a healthy and balanced diet in general. You can lose weight with a radical diet but as soon as you go back to old eating habits the weight will come back. There was a reason why you put on the weight in the first place. Changing those habits is a lot more effective than yo-yoing in kilos.

10. You could probably achieve similar results with just moderately decreasing your calorie intake, decreasing fat, and carb intake and increasing exercise. Then just follow a reasonable healthy and balanced diet to sustain the weight loss.



Most popular Weight loss Diets Review

Sunday, May 8, 2011 15:06
Comments Off on Most popular Weight loss Diets Review

What are fad diets and can you lose weight by following any of the popular weight loss diets? In this article our experts review 6 of the most widely used diets: dukan diet, cabbage diet, acai berry diet, hgc diet, hollywood diet, atkins diet and explain how fast we should lose weight.

In the weeks leading to the recent royal wedding in Britain a lot of speculation was made about the bride’s – Kate Middleton weight loss. Magazines, newspapers and internet sites, all had a suggestion about which diet regime she is following to look good for her wedding day. Suggestions were made, that the secret was the Dukan diet and as it may be expected thousands of people will rush to try the new miracle diet. I can quite picture the time scale and progression of the diet; it will make headlines for a while with many followers to its name. Controversy will be borne and a number of arguments will be made about the theory behind it and if it is safe or if it delivers results.

However, this is a common story for many diet regimes through the years. Many of them profess fast, radical and easy weight loss, and off course they argue that they are the best, the safest, healthiest and the only diets in the world that work.

Is there such a thing as quick, safe and healthy weight loss? This article will make a succinct review of some of the diets available and will provide weight loss tips on how to navigate through quick diets.

What are fad diets?

There is not a clear cut definition for ‘fad diets’ and the term can sometimes be used to refer to a poor quality weight loss diet. The term ‘fad diets’ is usually used to refer to those diet regimes which tend to come in and out of popularity.

A simple search on the internet will reveal dozens of weight loss diets, ‘fad’ or not, and navigating through them can be a confusing job. The table bellow summarises some of the diet regimes available for quick weight loss. These are only a small sample of diets which are available and the list can go on and on.

What is considered ‘quick’ weight loss can be subjective and difficult to define. Some diets promise results in 48 hrs of dieting other diets measure results in a 2 week period framework. In addition, what is ‘quick’ for one person may not be quick enough for someone else. The question that matters most is how quickly can we actually lose weight?

Most Popular Weight loss Diets

Dukan diet

A 4 phase high protein diet. Attack phase (1st phase): Strictly protein only, no fat, no veg, and no carbs. Vegetable, carbs and fat increase progressively through the rest 3 phases. The 4th phase includes eat whatever you want but eat protein only on a Thursday for life. Phases last according to how much someone has to lose.

Promises: Radical and quick weight loss. Can lose up to 7lb in a week and then about 2lb per week. Weight loss takes place in the 1st and 2nd phase. Some studies have looked into very high protein diets and do suggest that are effective in quick weight loss.

Review: However, is not recommended to follow diets with very low vegetable intake for long periods. Also when radically changing your diet from high carb to no carbs the body takes will take up to 2 weeks to adjust. Adverse effects of this could be memory impairments, irritability tiredness and constipation. Dehydration can be another issue. It is important to drink plenty of water as high protein diets can lead to an increase in water loss.

Cabbage diet

Based on eating a cabbage soup and a very limited list of foods for 7 days. It is mainly a very low, high fibre diet and is ONLY for 7 days.

Promises: Quick and radical weight loss As a very low calorie diet it can lead to weight loss quickly.

Review: However, in a week most of weight loss will mostly be water. High fibre diets can lead to gastrointestinal complaints, so it would not be recommended for someone with pre-existing gastrointestinal problems. Adverse effects of very low calorie diets can include tiredness, light headed irritability.

Acai berry diet

Not a specific weight loss plan apart from using acai berry in combination to any weight loss plan of your choice. The principle is that the acai berry is a powerful antioxidant which will enhance wellbeing and weight loss among other things.

Promises: Improve digestion, increase metabolism and weight loss.

Review: Some studies do support that the acai berry has antioxidant properties and as with other antioxidants can have benefits to health.

There is no substantial research to support that the acai berry on its own will increase weight loss. If people are following a weight loss program any effects could be solely from that and not the berry. It can be expensive to buy supplements and other acai containing nutritional aids.

HGC diet

A 500 calorie diet in conjunction with HCG (human Gonadotropin Hormone). The original HCG form is via injection but it can also be taken orally.

Promises: Quick and radical weight loss. Treatment is recommended for 40 injections or 15 kilos weight loss only, at any time.

Review: Weight loss can be result with only just following the 500 calorie diet. However, this is very low and not recommended. In addition, there is not strong research evidence supporting the claims about HCG and weight loss.
Moreover, the hormone can have a number of adverse effects to health. Some could be headaches, irritability, depression, and ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome which can be life threatening.

Hollywood diet

Short 48 hr diet. The base of the diet is juice drinks called the Hollywood diet miracle juice only. No food is allowed for the duration of the diet.

Promises: Up to 5 pounds in 24 hours and 10 pound in 48 hours. Claims to be detoxifying and to assist in restoration of minerals.

Review: Unlikely that in the weight loss will be anything more than water in that short period. It has no good quality scientific evidence to support what it claims.

Atkins diet

Principally a low carb – high protein diet. The new Atkins diet version is less strict and does allow vegetables and fats.

Promises: Quick weight loss

Review: It is based in the same principles in which most high protein diets are. Arguments about Atkins are similar with other low carb-high protein diets (see Dukan diet).

The new Atkins diet does include a larger variety of fats and vegetables and it can be argued that provides a more balanced approach.

How fast can we lose weight?

If we starve ourselves, during the first week we lose some fat, some protein and glycogen, however, these are not significant measurable results. Most of the measurable weight lost is water. The amount of fat, protein or glycogen lost will depend on each individual’s metabolic rate, exercise levels and type of diet followed. However, the body has its own limitations, and not losing 7lb of fat in the first week of starvation is one of them.

There aren’t any good quality studies to actually support that there is such a thing as a miracle food, drink or diet which will actually achieve results beyond the natural limits. It must be noted that the rate in which we burn fat can be increased by quite a lot with exercise. We use energy (calories) while exercising and while at rest. However, when exercising an appropriate diet should be followed and starvation would not be recommended.

By Hara Hagikalfa, Reviewed by Dr A.Slee

Weight loss for Women over 40

Thursday, May 5, 2011 13:28
Comments Off on Weight loss for Women over 40

Weight loss for women over 40 is very challenging. It is very common for women who go through menopause to have weight fluctuations. This is due to the changes in hormones such as oestrogen, and progesterone which influence metabolism, weight loss rate and appetite. Read 7 weight loss tips that work.


I am over 40 and menopausal.  I am doing everything “right” in order to maintain a healthy weight; however, I am finding myself gaining weight instead.  I use a stationary bike, elliptical machine and swimming.  I eat right and get plenty of rest; yet in the past 6 to 8 months I have put on roughly 12 pounds. By military height and weight standards I am currently 17 pounds overweight.  How do I reverse this trend?

Answer: (by Hara Hagikalfa, Reviewed by Dr Slee)

Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for your question. I am providing this answer in consultation with Dr Slee. It is very common for women who go through menopause to have weight fluctuations. This is due to the changes in hormones such as oestrogen, and progesterone which influence metabolism and appetite. My first suggestion would be to consult your doctor about your concerns and if possible to look/investigate the profile of your hormone levels. The doctor should be able to consult you about different options available for menopause.

I’m afraid there is not a miracle diet or answer for this one. However, I have the following suggestions which may helpI would recommend to spend a week keeping a food and activities (i.e. exercise) diary to have a full picture of what you are eating etc. I know you say that you eat ‘right’ but having a full picture of what you eat and when, does help in finding things which you can avoid or didn’t realise were there. You can see some of my previous answers such as ‘How can I lose weight I have gained quickly’ for more information. Also apart from going through menopause try to see what may have changed for the last 6-8 months in which you have put on weight. Have your habits changed, or have you been under a lot of stress? Sometimes is the combination of things which may lead to weight gain.


  1. Try cutting down on carbohydrates and sugar. Some studies suggest that some women may be more sensitive to sugars during menopause. Try cutting down on your carbohydrate intake for 2 weeks and see if it does affect your appetite and weight. It will take 2 weeks for any significant adaptations or changes to take place. It is important to keep some carbohydrates in your diet especially if you are doing exercise. An easy way to lower carbohydrates is to avoid or minimize bread, potatoes, rice and pasta, and have instead loads of vegetables, high fibre foods and fruits. Be more careful with fruits as some can contain a lot of sugar, such as bananas. Also avoid sugary drinks, takeaways, processed foods, juices too many sugary coffees, too much alcohol etc. You can also see my article on healthy weight loss about more ways on how to cut down on carbohydrates in a healthy way.
  2. Unfortunately with hormonal issues such as menopause there is not always a way to avoid putting on weight. It can be different for each person. It may be the case that you need to be stricter with your diet all together.  For example if you had a treat i.e. a takeaway once a week, it may be that it will need to be once a fortnight or once a month. However, DO NOT follow very low fat diets or restrict your calories very low. They will not actually benefit in this situation. Some studies indicate that primrose oil and fats such as fish oils may be of benefit. Fats can also be beneficial in terms of steroidical hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. Do avoid unhealthy fats such as trans fats which are found in margarines, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, processed food etc. See also ‘Why lose weight and how to do it correctly for more information.
  3. I would not recommend that you lower your calories too low. If the underlying reason for weight gain is hormonal then you could do more harm than help to your body. By keeping a diary of food and activities you can roughly calculate how many calories you are consuming. Remember to include coffees, juices etc. Also calculate how many calories you burn with exercise and physical activities. Your calculations don’t need to be down to the last calorie but a rough estimation. This way you can see how many calories you are consuming and how many you could possibly cut down without going to low. For example if you have 2 coffees per day with 1 sugar each, maybe you could cut it down to 1 coffee with no sugar or half a sugar. If you are having sandwiches for lunch try replacing them with a meat/fish salad which you prepared. Overall you may decrease your intake by 200 calories but it will be in a healthier way. I must say do not over consume yourself with calories. As I have said before calories are not the means to all ends.
  4. Try strength exercises as well. Strength exercises help to keep on muscle which means you could burn more calories. The muscles become more efficient and burn fat more and also it can increase your resting metabolic rate (the rate in which you burn energy when you are resting).
  5. In my articles I have summarized tips on healthy eating and weight loss diets such as having a delayed protein breakfast. You can incorporate some of these tips in your diet and see if it has helped in sustaining your weight (as in not gaining any more) or even losing some.

Kate Middleton weight loss and the Dukan Diet

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 20:12
Comments Off on Kate Middleton weight loss and the Dukan Diet

There is a lot of buzz lately about Kate Middleton and how she managed to lose weight before the big wedding. The royal wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince Williams is without a doubt one of the biggest moments of 2011, but one aspect of this great event that opened a lot of discussions has to do with Kate’s weight loss methods. It’s no secret that she managed to get slimmer and reached the ideal weight so as to look bright and beautiful in the white dress. But how did she do it?

A lot of people made up a number of stories about her weight loss methods. Some journalist’s even suggested that she is suffering from a form of anorexia nervosa for the brides named ‘Brideorexia’. They reported that she became a size 2 from size 6 in just 2 months. The rapid weight loss was for them a sign that she became anorexic and they even gave advice to their readers on how to identify if someone is suffering from this disorder. The truth is far from that. Although Kate is a fit and energetic person and this alone makes it easier to lose or gain weight almost at wish, what really created results for her is the Dukan Diet.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan Diet is a very famous diet in Europe, created by Pierre Dukan in 2000. Pierre is an experienced doctor who specializes in weight loss diets. The Dukan diet is similar to the also famous Atkins diet and besides Kate Middleton a number of celebrities have also used this diet program to lose weight. The Dukan Method as it is called, is based on the principle of high protein,low fat, low carb diet. In other words the foods suggested to be part of this diet create servings that are high in proteins, low in trans fats and low in carbohydrates. This is a deviation from what we call a balanced diet which includes all three food categories in almost same quantities. The main idea behind this composition of meals is to concentrate more on the quality of foods you eat rather than quantity. In fact quantity is not a factor for the Dukan Diet as you are allowed to ‘eat as much as you like’ but the right foods.

The Dukan Diet Phases

The Dukan Diet program is separated into 4 distinct phases. This is how Dr Pierre decided to approach weight loss and he believes that these 4 phases can guarantee fast and permanent weight loss results. The first phase is the Preparation or Attack phase as he calls it and basically during this phase you are allowed to eat only protein foods. The plan has about 80 items which are pure protein foods and you can select which ones to consume daily. The second phase is a combination of pure protein plus vegetables and the duration of this phase depend on how much weight you want to lose. The third phase is something like a protective phase where you gradually start to eat foods from other food items as well so as to protect you from gaining all the weight you lost back. Finally the fourth phase is actually the end of the diet where you are given instructions how to maintain your weight by eating healthy and fat friendly food items together with advice on how to be more physically active during the day.

You can read more about the Dukan Diet in the Dukan Diet Book which is one of the International Best Sellers.

As a final word, remember that there are no miracles when it comes to diet and fitness. If you want to lose weight you need to combine 2 things: 1st willingness and hard work and 2nd a good diet program that really works. The Dukan diet worked for many people but this does not necessarily mean that it will work for you unless you are willing to try hard and be committed to it until you get the results you want.

Diet Tips: The role of proteins in weight loss

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 1:09
Comments Off on Diet Tips: The role of proteins in weight loss

By Hara Hagikalfa, Reviewed by Dr A.Slee

Many people are confused about the use of protein in weight loss. What is the role of protein in losing weight? What are proteins, why they are important and how they can affect our weight loss efforts?

In one of our previous articles we talked about carbohydrates and weight loss and provided 4 diet tips for the role of carbs in any diet. In this article we will focus more on protein and try to explain why protein is necessary for a healthy weight loss.

What are proteins?

Proteins are usually known to be found in animal products such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs, yogurt etc. They are also found in tofu and soya products, and in smaller amounts in legumes. Proteins can be divided into essentials (can only get them from food) and non-essentials (can make them in our body). The quality of the protein we eat is very important as regardless of the amount of protein we consume if it lacks of essential proteins it could have negative effects to health.

Why are proteins important?

Proteins are essential for our body in all levels. We need them to build muscle, hormones, and enzymes, used for the immune system, bone tissue, organs and the list goes on and on. Protein is the last resort the body will use as fuel as it is very important for the body and will try to preserve it as much as it can. Protein is not stored as such as all protein in the body is active and in working component.

Protein and diet

Protein and weight loss

It was very much believed that high consumption of protein could lead to kidney disease and liver disease. However, some recent studies indicate that although high protein intake makes the kidneys work harder, it does not necessarily lead to kidney disease in healthy humans. In general, research has not clearly shown that too much protein has adverse effects for health whereas too little protein can have fatal effects.

Protein has the effect to make you feel fuller for longer, which in effect can help curb the snacks and have one more benefit in weight loss.

4 Essential Diet Tips

1. Quality can be vital. Quality of protein is determined by how easy can it be digested and how many of the essential amino acids (they make proteins up) they have. Some plant proteins are hard to digest and are incomplete. Combinations of foods provide the best solution. Diet should include a large variety of foods both from animal and plant sources.

2. Balance nutrients. Very high protein diets are usually recommended for athletes but not for everybody. Balanced diets in which protein, carbohydrates and fat are in equal or near equal amounts are usually the most recommended.

3. If you have any health problems, especially related to kidney dysfunctions and high cholesterol consult a medical professional before taking on any diet.

4. Increase water intake. Increasing the protein intake can lead to dehydration. Increasing water intake will help both the kidneys and avoid dehydration.

Diet Tips: Carbohydrates and Weight loss

Sunday, May 1, 2011 20:20
Comments Off on Diet Tips: Carbohydrates and Weight loss

By Hara Hagikalfa, Reviewed by Dr A.Slee

Carbohydrates (carbs) have been the subject in a number of debates in the world of healthy nutrition and weight loss. A lot of people may have heard or read on food labels about ‘low/high glycemic index’ (GI) or ‘glycemic load (GL)’ or may have read about ‘refined carbs’. What do all these terms mean and how do you find your way when making healthy nutrition choices?

This article will look into carbohydrates and how they are processed in the body. It will provide tips and suggestions on how to optimise what to eat in achieving weight loss and optimizing health.

What are carbohydrates?

As with fats and protein, carbohydrates belong in the category of the macronutrients. In their chemical structure (in simple terms) they are sugars, some more complex and some simple (based on their chemical structure). So when people refer to carbohydrates they refer to foods such as bread, pasta, vegetables, potatoes, cereal and grains and obviously sweets and sugar. Some carbohydrate based foods such as bread, chocolate and potatoes are high energy density foods (contain a lot of calories) and others such as vegetable are low density foods, but also contain a smaller amount of carbohydrates.

How do they work in the body?

Carbohydrates and Weight loss

When we have a meal which contains high amount of carbs, the sugar levels in the blood increase. In response to increased blood sugar the pancreas (organ of the body) secretes a hormone called insulin which main role is to facilitate the taking up of sugars from the blood and storing it in the body. Carbohydrates are often described according to their GL and/or GI.

Glycemic Index: Is a measure of the blood glucose response to the carbohydrate.

Glycemic Load: Is a measure which includes both the amount of the portion and the GI of the carbohydrates. It combines both quantity and quality of the carbohydrates.

Carbs and health

With diets high in carbs the insulin levels increase accordingly. When the cells are chronically stimulated by high levels of insulin they can become less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This can lead to what is known as insulin resistance and has been linked the onset of diabetes (explained in simple terms).

It must be said though that carbs as with everything else are needed for the body. Again the word to say here is in moderation. Some studies suggest that women may need them more than men. Women who are in very low carbohydrate diet appear to be more susceptible to developing mental health problems such as depression. Men are quite the opposite, and they seem to do better in very low carbohydrate diets.

Carbs and exercise

Carbohydrates are quite essential for exercise especially for aerobic exercise. Things like running, swimming, cycling are examples of aerobic exercise. The body does need some crabs as fuel during this type of exercise so it is important if you are following exercise regimes to make sure you are consuming an appropriate amount. What consists of an appropriate amount will depend on the kind, the duration and the intensity of exercise.

A few diet tips to keep in mind for carbohydrates and weight loss:

1. The body will use sugars as its preferred fuel for energy, because it is easy to use. Therefore, in diets high in carbs the body will use the carbs over the fat.

2. Some of the excess calories consumed in the form of carbs, will be stored as fat.

3. Carbohydrates can make you feel hungry. How does this work? Well as mentioned above when eating carbs the blood sugar levels increase and so the insulin levels. Once the blood sugar levels fall after they have been stored in the body for later, and insulin decreases again, the body picks that up and signals that it needs more sugar. If we do not eat, the system will slowly mobilise its reserves for use. However, in the process we feel hungry again as our body tells us that we need more energy.

4. The yo-yo style sugar and insulin levels can affect mood and make you feel irritable. A lot of people will say that ‘if I don’t eat I feel I will drop’. Such an effect is not very good for wellbeing but also it will make it hard to stick to a diet regime at it can make you feel desperate for food. A common trend in dieting is that we should eat a lot of small meals. That does make sense when the diet is high in carbs for the reasons mentioned above. However, some researchers have argued that we need periods of fasting and periods of eating.

Vegetarian Diets Reduce Cataract Risk

Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:16
Comments Off on Vegetarian Diets Reduce Cataract Risk

Cutting meat and eating more vegetables may help cut the risk of developing cataracts, says a new study.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cataracts develop during aging (or injury) as the eye tissue changes and becomes cloudy, causing blurred or dimmed vision, difficulty seeing at night, sensitivity to light, double vision, and other symptoms.

When compared to meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans had up to 40% lower risk of developing cataracts.

2 Comments | Continue reading…