The 17 day diet review

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

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

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

The 17 day diet details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The theory behind the 17 Day Diet

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

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

The facts

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

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

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

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

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

Why I am not losing weight?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weight loss with crash diets, is it possible?

Sunday, November 18, 2012 8:23
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crash diets

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

Crash diets explained

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

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

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

Crash diets: the theories answered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to lose weight if you have PCOS?

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

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

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

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

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

1. Decrease your calorie intake.

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

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

2. Avoid the so-called crash diets.

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

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

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

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

3. Lower your calorie intake.

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

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

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

4. Be realistic in your weight loss expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Exercise.

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

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

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

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

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

8. Try to increase your sleep.

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

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

5 weight loss mistakes you should avoid

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

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

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

Mistake 1: Losing weight for the wrong reasons.

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

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

Mistake 2: Choosing an inappropriate weight loss program.

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

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

Mistake 3: Unaccounted calories and double eating.

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

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

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

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

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

Mistake 5: Forgetting about the rest of your lifestyle

You have the diet and the plan – check!

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

You are still struggling – check!

What could possibly go wrong?

Well what about the rest of your lifestyle?

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

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

10 tips for those who are desperate to lose weight fast

Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:18
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desperate to lose weight

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

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

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

Step 1 – Consult a medical professional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 5 – Find out your own diet style.

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

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

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

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

Step 6 – Research about diet regimes

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

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

1. You are actually following something you like,

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

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

Step 7 – Plan

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

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

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

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

Step 8 – Exercise

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

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

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

Points to remember:

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

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

Step 9 – Which is the best way to go?

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

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

Step 10 – Lifestyle approach

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

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

9 Tips for maintaining weight loss

Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:06
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woman and weight loss

You have spent considerable amount of time trying really hard to lose those extra pounds. You climb on the scales and the moment of truth has come; to your relief and joy you did it. You reached your weight loss goal. What a great moment. But how long does it last?

Often the weight lost doesn’t stay away for too long and it slowly creeps back. Another diet cycle follows, or you convince yourself that the only way is to be on a diet for eternity, or just give up.

If only you knew that maintaining weight loss is not that hard after all. Well for most of the cases. Read on to find out how and why.

Which diet?

Weight maintenance will depend on which diet did you follow to begin with and how much weight did you lose? To put it blandly if you did a 7 day radical – starvation regime and you lost a couple of pounds it is likely that you will put the weight back on. How to maintain the weight? Choose a better diet next time.

Any weight loss resulting from fast (a few days – 1 week), radical, very low calorie diets is mainly water, glycogen and some not significantly measurable fat. The minute you go back to your usual dietary patterns the weight will go back on as water, glycogen and some fat.

Think ahead

Plan for the after-the-weight-loss period before you even start a diet. For whatever reason you chose to lose weight and follow a weight loss diet, don’t just treat it as a blip moment in your life which now is over and thank god for that. Treat your weight loss as a time in which you will make lifestyle changes.

Is always best to choose a healthy balanced weight loss diet which will allow you to lose the weight you want and also teach you how to eat healthy and balanced post diet. These little habits which you will pick up on the way are the ones which will help you to keep the weight off.

A lot of the diet regimes these days do contain sections of how to go about it post-weight loss. Take the time to look into them. They may have valuable advice on what to do next.

Find your weight gain nightmares

Well what does make you put on weight? The simple answer for majority of people would be too many calories, the wrong foods and too little physical activity. Look into more specific reasons such as ‘which foods do you tend to eat more’? Is it too many takeaways, too much sugar, big portions and so on? For each person may be a different combination.

The principle however, is one. Whatever made you put on weight to start off is what will make you put on weight again if you don’t change it.

Keep a foods and drinks diary for a week

A foods and drinks diaryis usually the best way to find those little weight gain nightmares mentioned above. It will provide you with the information of what do you eat, when and how much and you may find patterns which you didn’t know were there.

It is also helpful to include your emotion as well. For example how were you feeling –sad, happy, stressed etc- and what did you eat. You don’t have to be an emotional eater but you may choose specific foods based on your emotions. For example, you have those biscuits in the office every time you are stressed or you have that extra cake every time you meet your friends and are having fun chats.

Don’t deprive yourself

Changes your dietary habits or your lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean deprive yourself from specific foods forever. Do have a takeaway day, or a chocolate moment or a cocktails night. Well maybe not have a ‘day’ everyday. For example have a takeaway day once a week or once every 2 weeks or keep those threats for when you go out. Allow yourself a piece of chocolate or an ice cream, biscuit etc once every so often.

You can still enjoy the things you like, only in moderation.

Keep a plan

Following from above, set your own plan on when you will be having a takeaway for example. This will help you keep more control on the foods you eat. Be flexible about it, your plan doesn’t have to be setting stone. For example if Friday is a takeaway night doesn’t mean that you can’t have it on a Tuesday instead or that Friday you may choose to eat something else.

The point is more like saying Tuesday was a takeaway night and Friday I fancied a pizza and Saturday we visited some friends and they ordered some food…..Well you either end up losing count and control or when you do want a pizza to feel as if you depriving yourself when you have to say no.

Don’t make food special

Food is food and is a fundamental need for life and that all it is. Some foods can have harmful effects to health or affect your weight, some foods taste better (depending on peoples taste) some foods have health benefits and so on. However, don’t start putting food in terms of treats or special or any other category. Foods are not rewards, or treats. A takeaway or cake or whatever else you like is a food item which you enjoy and you occasionally include in your diet. Connecting food with emotions can create emotional cycles and can make food items more important than they are.

A lot of people may say I achieved something today or this week so I earn a takeaway or I will treat myself to a piece of chocolate. If you want to treat yourself choose something else you enjoy such a pampering session, or a dress or fishing trip if you are man or a ticket to a game. There are loads of different things you can do and you can find ideas which they will not necessarily break the bank.

Keep an eye on your portions

Apart from what kinds of foods we eat what is also important is how much we eat. Use a smaller plate and avoid layering the food. If you are still hungry is best to have a little bit more once you finished what you have in your plate. We often pile the food in our plates and eat more than we actually need or past the point of satiety. Also a half empty big plate can make us feel as if there is not enough food but a full smaller plate may not even if the two plates have the same amount of food.

Think of the speed of your hands

A friend recently said to me that how much we eat does not depend only on how fast our mouth processes it but also how fast our hand puts it in our mouth. This is actually a very valid point. It is easy to lose control on how much you have eaten when your fork goes with 100miles per hour and you pile the food into your mouth. Take your time and put your fork down every so often between takes. Give your brain a chance to realise how much food you eat.

11 ways on how to lose water weight

Saturday, November 17, 2012 10:54
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water weight

Have you ever heard someone say I am having a fat day today? Well apart from the psychological aspect of a ‘fat day’ there are other reasons which can influence how we fit in our clothes and how our body feels. So if one day you fit just right in your jeans and the next they feel claustrophobic it could be that you have water retention.

What is water weight?

Water retention (water weight) or fluid retention is when your body will retain excess fluid in the tissues and/or the cavities of the body beyond the normal standards. There are a number of different reasons why your body will retain water. Water retention can be visible such as oedema which is associated with the retention of fluids beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body and it usually causes swelling.

As there are a number of different reasons why your body will accumulate excess fluids there are different ways to lose the excess fluids and water weight.

1. Fast very low calorie diets

Not a recommended way to lose water weight. People on fast low calorie diets which usually last one week tend to lose mostly water. However, that is not a recommended way to go about losing water weight. If you haven’t really got water retention and you just need to look good in that dress for one night you may just achieve that with following a fast diet. However, you will have most probably dehydrated your body and as soon as you start eating normally it will all come back on.

This is without saying that you will most probably be stressing out your body and could have health risks. In addition a weight loss diet is not always what your body needs. Water retention can be cause due to malnutrition and very low calorie intake (especially if consuming less than 1200 kcal). In other words you could be just exacerbating the problem. Most of all water retention could be the symptom of an underlying health condition and it may need medical attention.

2. Consult a medical professional

As mentioned above water retention could be a symptom of a health condition so it is very important that you consult a medical professional first before you look at any option. Some of the medical reasons which can lead to water retention include:

·            Diabetes

·            Kidney disease

·            Cardiovascular disease

·            Thyroid dysfunction

·            Hormonal imbalances

·            Pre-menstrual Syndrome

There are a number of other health reasons why your body may retain water and it is most important to follow a correct medical investigation. It is always highly recommended not to try to home remedyor follow box standard diets designed for losing water if are suffering or have concerns that you may be suffering from any health conditions as it could have detrimental effects for health.

3. Drink plenty of water

You wouldn’t think of it but dehydration itself can lead to water retention. Your body is designed for survival and if you deprive it from what it needs it will hold on for dear life in what it’s got. Drinking plenty of water will also help circulation and clearance of fluids from the body.

It is a misconception to think that since your body holds on to water is better to avoid water.

4. Low salt diets

Eating too much salt can lead or exacerbate water retention. Although it is suggested that excess consumption of salt is unlikely to cause a massive amount of water retention, it definitely will not help with the problem and it is also not recommended for health. It could also exacerbate other health conditions responsible for water retention such as kidney disease and cardiovascular diseases.

Sodium, which is a component of salt, tends to regulate water balance in the body. Sodium is necessary for a number of functions in the body, but as with everything else when in excess can lead to dysfunctions.

A large amount of salt consumed from the diet does not necessarily come from the salt shaker. Processed foods, takeaways, tin food and junk food in general contain large amounts of sodium and salt. Cutting down on such foods, or reading the labels on foods and making healthier choices will decrease your salt intake by a lot more than just not adding salt in your food.

5. High protein diets

Water retention can be a symptom indicating that the body lacks of protein. Usually very low calorie diets followed for long period of times and vegetarian or vegan diets inadequate in good quality protein can lead to protein deficiencies.

Being protein deficient does not necessarily mean that someone will be underweight as protein deficiency does not always reflect body weight but quality of everyday diet. Someone who is obese could be protein deficient if the everyday diet they follow is high on carbohydrates and sugars and very low on protein.

6. Low GL diets

As mentioned earlier water retention can be a reflection of the quality of the diet someone follows. Diets high in carbohydrates and Glycemic Load have been associated with increased risk of inflammation, obesity and high risk of development of conditions such as metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

Such conditions can lead in water retention and oedema. On the other hand diets low in carbohydrates, sugars and glycemic load have in general been associated with promoting positive health outcomes. In particular Mediterranean dietary patterns have been suggested by a number of studies as providing a healthy balanced dietary style and decreasing the risk of developing such health conditions as mentioned above, and/or helping to improve health outcomes.

Mediterranean style diets constitute of ample fruit and veg, moderate protein intake and fats such as olive oil and fish oils. Such components are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and omega fats.

7. Ample of fruit and vegetables

As mentioned above, fruit and vegetablescontain a number of antioxidant components, minerals and vitamins which help to improve the body’s functions and promote health. They also contain a large amount of water which will further help in keeping hydrated.

Inflammation and obesity largely constitute in water retention. Aiming for weight losswith a healthy balanced diet can make miracles for your body.

8. Monitor your diet for food intolerances and allergies

Do you feel bloated after you have eaten certain foods? The problem may simply come from an intolerance or allergy to specific foods. Intolerances and/or allergies do not necessarily lead to big allergic reactions but it could be subtle symptoms such as bloating, feeling sick or water retention amongst others.

Allergies and intolerances if unnoticed can lead into chronic inflammations and high amounts of histamine in the body. Apart from the fact that it is not good for your health and can lead to other serious problems, it could lead to water retention. Avoid the foods which irritate your digestive system, make you bloat or just don’t agree with you. If unsure and you have concerns consult a medical professional who can properly assess you for food intolerances and allergies or other metabolic functions.

9. Exercise

Lack of movement will affect blood circulation amongst others and can lead in water retention and oedema. Exercise will improve blood circulation and aid with lymphatic function which in result can help in reducing water retention.

You don’t have to rush and join the gym, but you can take a walk, pilates, or use the stairs, cycle or swim. In simple words start moving around.

10. Elevate your legs

If you spend a lot of time standing up (in your job for example) or after a long flight you may noticed that your legs feels swollen. Elevating your legs preferably above the heart can help to alleviate the swelling and oedema. Just put your feet up after a long day and place your legs on a stool when you are sitting down.

This may also be helpful for people who suffer with bad circulation. Think of gravity.

11. Medication

Medication can have a dual effect. There are certain types of medication which encourage water excretion such as anti-diuretic tablets. These are usually prescribed by a medical professional as part of treatment for certain health conditions. It is not advised to source the internet to try to find them in the black market in order to help you lose water weight. As with every medication they carry risks and they can have serious complications if taken inappropriately.

On the other hand there are some types of medications which could lead to water retention. Your medical professional should be the one to advise you regarding medications and how to deal with side effects. Always read the leaflets provided with the tablets for side effects or other information provided and if you have any further concerns advise your doctor.

Best diets to lose weight

Friday, November 16, 2012 14:26
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woman doing exercise

If only I had a penny every time someone asked me: ‘Which one is the best diet?’ I would be rich by now. Well what does make a diet be the ‘best diet’ for losing weight? I would say that each and every individual on this world would have their own answer. Some of the elements I would look in a diet are:

1. Good weight loss results would be one element. Losing weight is the aim so it does make sense.

2. Health outcomes and risks I would say is the next, after all you don’t want to be placing unnecessary risks on your body.

3. User friendliness, in other words how easy is it to follow and

4. Sustainability of the weight lost.

So let’s see what we get in the weight loss world. In our diet menu today you will find:

Mediterranean Style Diets – a combination of health and good weight loss results

High Protein Diets – Popular commercial diets

Healthy Diets – Focus on health

1.The diet that suits you

I will first exclude all those fast and radical diets which can have high risks for your health from this category. What is left is the one diet which you have tried and tested and works for you. This is very general as it could be any diet but that any diet is what works for you.

Yes there is such a thing as optimum nutrition and we will look as some diets which do offer that.  However, unless a weight loss diet rocks your boat and ticks your boxes it is not the best for you. If you try to do something which you don’t particularly like you will manage to do it for so long before giving up and you could end up hating the whole thing.

In addition, not everybody loses weight in the same way or rate. Choose a diet which will suit your preferences and circumstances, will have be health friendly and will return good weight loss results for you.

2. The Mediterranean dietary pattern

To make it clear, the ‘Mediterranean style’ is not one diet. The Mediterranean diet derives from the countries which are located around the Mediterranean Sea (approximately 18 countries). Each country and regions within the countries have their own dietary habits, customs, cooking practices and so on. So we are talking about a dietary pattern rather than one diet.

To the point however, the Mediterranean dietary pattern has the subject of numerous scientific studies and research over the years and it is believed to decrease the risks of developing certain diseases and returning positive health outcomes. In addition, studies suggest that it promotes weight loss.

Some examples of a Mediterranean type diets are:

The Cretan diet

It derives from the island of Crete in Greece. Although it is not a weight loss diet per se or is not designed by some weight loss/nutritional author it has been suggested by studies to be the cream of the crops of the Mediterranean style diets. You don’t have to move to Crete to follow the diet either (although it may sound as a good idea) there is a plethora of cook books and dietary information out there which can provide you with more details. The bonus is that moderate alcohol intake is one main part of the diet.

The Combination diet

It is our very own creation. It is a 2 week dietaiming mainly for abdominal fat. The diet is designed to provide flexibility and a holistic approach to weight loss. What that means is that apart from the diet you get a weight loss package which includes calorie calculator, food diaries, access to weight loss advisor and updates.

3. High Protein Diets

The ‘low – carbohydrate’ style of dieting is not something new, however it is in the few recent years that it has gained a lot of popularity. More and more studies suggest that diets higher in proteins and lower in carbohydrates tend to be effective in controlling blood sugar and decrease the risk of development of some health conditions.

High protein diets do not go without criticism and scientist are still cautious in their recommendations for consuming high amounts of animal protein.

Why is that? Consumption of high amounts of animal protein has been connected with increasing cholesterol and blood pressure.

Studies do suggest that if consumption of high amounts of animal protein are part of a healthier diet and lifestyle (i.e. coupled with consumption of ample fruit and veg. and an active lifestyle) it actually has beneficial effects to health.

In addition, it is believed that consumption of high amounts of protein can place considerable strain on the kidneys. However, research indicates that high amounts of protein should not lead to kidney problems unless there are existing kidney conditions.

On the plus…

Studies suggest that protein tend to keep you full for longer and therefore people tend to consume fewer calories. In addition, it is suggested that it helps in controlling blood sugar better which has a number of health benefits and it can lead to fewer cravings.

The New Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet has been around for ages and is a classic high protein diet. After having received a lot of criticism of being too rigid and not incorporating any carbs resulting in low amounts of fruit and some veg. it came back in a revised version The New Atkins Diet. The New Atkins diet does incorporate more carbohydrate options and it is still quite popular.

The Ducan Diet

A fairly new diet which gained a lot of popularity after a few celebrities said they are following it. It can be easy to follow as it is not very restrictive. It does make recommendations for a healthier lifestyle rather than just losing weight and for exercise. Although it is not something new or revolutionary it can be a ‘not too bad option’ out of the commercial diets, is not extreme or unhealthy and people do report to lose weight.

The DIY diet 

This is the diet which you follow at home by yourself. If following a rigid program is not your cup of tea it is easy to just make your own. The basic principles of any high protein diet are to consume a higher amount of protein, moderate amount of carbohydrates which mainly derive from wholegrain and a moderate amount of fat. On top of this add ample amounts of fruit and vegetables.

You could pick up a cook book which provides healthy, higher in protein recipes and DIY at home. Keeping an eye on the calories will need to be part of your diet if you want to lose weight.

4. The health related diets

These are the diets which mainly concentrate on health first and weight loss second. This is not to say that other diets do not have health benefits it is more like the case that some diets have been designed to tackle some specific health issues. Needles to say however, that if you have any health issues and concerns the best point of contact is your doctor and/or health professional and you should above all follow their advice.

The DASH diet

The DASH diet claims to be designed by a team of doctors and health professionals and to also have been tried and tested before being sold to the public. The main focus of the DASH diet is to lower blood pressure and it was recently been voted in a survey as no 1 best diet.

As it concentrates on blood pressure it recommends low consumption of animal protein. Although there is a main DASH diet plan, each individual is meant to enrol to the official site and get a personalised diet plan according to the information he/she provides (i.e. age, gender, weight etc).

The plus…It does recommend seeing dieting as a lifestyle approach rather than a short event and encourages people to make lifestyle changes. It also incorporates exercise advice. Overall is not a bad diet although it can be too low on protein at times.

The minus…Just because it is designed by health professionals it doesn’t necessarily translate to this diet is good for you specifically if you suffer from high blood pressure or other health conditions. The DASH diet site also recommends checking any diet plans with your own health professional(s) as it could not suit your circumstances. Well if you do suffer from specific conditions your health professional should be advising you regarding your diet in the first place and paying for extra subscriptions may not be necessary.

Also following a very low protein diet for too long may lead to other deficiencies and that should also be discussed with your health professional.

The healthy balanced diet

It is very similar to the DIY diet. You just opt for healthy balanced food options. You can try this at home and could be your cheaper option. It may not recommended for those who are unsure where to start although there is ample of information available everywhere. Couple your diet with exercise or any physical activity and you could have excellent weight and health results.

Consulting an appropriate health/fitness professional is always recommended before making any diet and exercise changes.

A diet is what you make of it. In simple words a diet will be as good or not good depending on how you follow it and how much does it suit your personal circumstances.

Studies which have compared commercial diets between them do not necessarily find large differences in their results. Although some diets may be of better dietary quality what it really comes down to is what works for each individual.

I do exclude those diets which can harm your health though…

How many carbs to eat per day

Friday, November 16, 2012 11:59
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carbohydrates

Many people are often confused about the role of carbohydrates in a weight loss diet. We got a number of questions from readers asking a very simple question “How many carbs should I eat per day?” In this post we explain in simple terms how to calculate the amount of carbohydrates to consume per day, analyze foods that have a lot of carbs and how to control your daily intake of carbs.

Step 1: Determine your ideal total daily carbs

The amount of carbs you should be eating each day depends on factors like your age, height, weight, sex and activity level.  The first step to determining the amount of carbs you should have each day is to determine the amount of calories you should have in a day.  Total calories are best determined by a qualified professional but can be estimated semi-accurately by an online calculator that takes into account all of the factors listed above.

The best calculators are based on a scientifically verified mathematical formula like the Mifflin St. Jeor formula and also take into account your daily exercise or activity level.  If you are trying to lose weight subtract 300 to 500 calories from that number.  Once you have a number or a range for your total daily calories, divide the number by 8.  What you get is approximately the total grams of carbohydrates you should consume each day.

  • Endurance athletes need more energy from carbohydrates and should divide their daily calories by about 6 instead of 8.
  • Individuals who are diabetic should consult a registered dietitian or a physician before making dietary changes.

Step 2: Know your major carb sources

There is nearly an infinity of food products that contribute carbohydrates to the diet, so how do you know which are carb heavy and which are not?  Usually you should consult the nutrition label to see how many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving.  Pre-packaged foods that are traditionally carb-heavy include snacks such as pretzels, chips, cookies, and candy, but also soda and juice.  Yes, even juice.

A true serving of juice is about 4 ounces, or about a quarter of a traditional water bottle.  When you have a full glass of orange juice at breakfast you can be loading on the carbs long before you’ve even started your day!

On top of this, many of us get a large portion of carbs from foods that don’t come labeled.  These are foods prepared by family, friends, ourselves, or even the local take-out restaurant.  Rice, pasta, or bread could be the smoking bullet in these dishes, but surprisingly some vegetables such as peas, potatoes, and corn make the list too.  All of these items are very high in carbs and should not make up the bulk of a meal.

Finally, we get to treats.  A single candy, chocolate, donut, pastry, or mixed drink can pack a punch where carbs are concerned.  Here is where moderation is key and it doesn’t have to be painful.  Life is worth living and sweets are a great part of it, but they are better enjoyed when they aren’t accompanied with guilt and health expenses down the line.

Step 3: Splitting per meal

Unless you are an endurance athlete a good general rule is to have 45 to 60 grams of carbs at each meal and 15 to 30 at snacks.  If you are on the petite side, for example if you are a shorter female, you want to aim for the 45 and 15.  If you have a larger frame and higher daily calories you probably want to go for 60 grams at meals and 30 grams for snacks.   It is important to split your carbs up throughout the day and not to have them all at once in a single meal.

When you eat many carbs at once your body stores some in the blood and some in the muscles and liver and everything else gets converted to body fat.  It would be great if the body began breaking down fat when you need more energy later in the day, but your body generally drains carbs from your blood, muscles, and liver first leaving you tired and sluggish.

Step 4: Fiber

Fiber is technically a carbohydrate, just not one that our body can use for calories.  Fiber instead goes through the digestive system straight to the colon as food for bacteria.  It may sound strange, but it is important that these bacteria stay happy.  Studies have shown that individuals with healthy intestinal bacteria are often lower in body weight and less at risk for some types of cancer.  Also, high fiber foods tend to be healthy for many other reasons and are a good choice for at least half of the carbs in your meal.  Good ways to include more fiber include eating oats, whole grain bread or pasta, brown rice, and alternative carbs like quinoa.

Step 5: Added Sugar

If you still have the number for the total calories you should have each day, divide it by 40 and that’s the amount of grams added sugar you should be consuming.  Sugar found in fruits is almost exactly the same as the sugar you will get anywhere else, be it high fructose corn syrup or table sugar, except for one important difference: nutrients!

The value for total ADDED sugar is so low because added sugar has no nutritional value other than calories.  If you choose to get all of your sugar each day from whole fruits have at it, but if you want to have the chocolate cake or the breakfast donut you should at least be aware of the amount of added sugar and how it factors into your healthy diet.

7 Tips to become aware of carbs in your diet:

  1. Know your total calories and divide by 8 to get grams carbs
  2. Aim for 45 to 60 grams carbs for meals
  3. Aim for 15 to 30 grams carbs for snacks
  4. Be aware of major carb sources in each meal and try to keep it to about ¼ of your plate.
  5. Try to have at least half of your carbs from whole grain sources
  6. Aim for 30 grams fiber each day
  7. Limit your added sugars to 10% of your daily calories