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

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

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

What is Lap-band surgery?

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

Who can use Lap-band surgery for weight loss?

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

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

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

4. People who are not alcoholics

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

Who cannot use Lap-band surgery for weight loss?

Lap-Band surgery is not recommended if:

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

2. You are addicted to alcohol or other drugs

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

4. Women who are pregnant

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

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

How much does lap-band surgery costs?

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

Should I use Lap-Bad surgery for weight loss?

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

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

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

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

7 Practical ways to start losing weight today

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

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

1. Spring clean the cupboards

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

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

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

2. Keep a diary

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

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

3. Take measurements

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

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

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

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

4. Find your type

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

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

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

5. Don’t despair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Set realistic goals

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

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

7. Recognise every achievement

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

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

Most effective exercises to lose weight fast

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

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

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

1. The exercise that suits you.

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

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

2. Functional training

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

Farmers walk

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

Farmers walk exercise

To perform: Standing, straight back and shoulders back.

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

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

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

Single arm Bend over dumbbell row

This exercise works on the back and arm muscles.

Functionality: Think of cutting wood for the fireplace.

Single Arm Bend Over dumbbell row exercise

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

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

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


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

Burpee exercise

To perform: Begin in a standing position.

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

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

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

Return to the starting upright standing position.

Single arm squat and swing.

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

Single Arm Squat and swing exercise

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

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

Squat to the floor and swing the weight between your knees

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

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

3. Circuit training.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Always warm up to avoid injuries.

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

5 Ways to lose one pound of fat

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

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

What is fat?

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

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

How to lose fat?

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

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

1. Avoid full fat foods

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

2. Prefer fat burning foods

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

3. Fiber, fruits and vegetables

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

4. Cardio and fat burning exercises

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

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

5. Consistency is the key for fat loss

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

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

I Want To Lose Weight Where Do I Start

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

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

Create a calorie deficit the healthy way

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

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

If you want to lose weight you have to exercise

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

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

Follow a weight loss program that suits your needs

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

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

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

Sunday, November 11, 2012 8:59
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The keystone message of the medical industry, to eat more vegetables, can be difficult to swallow, but this is one area where you should redouble your nutrition efforts.  Why?  Eating more vegetables usually result in a slimmer, stronger figure, a lower risk of chronic disease, and a longer life.

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

Tantalizing Texture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Added Antioxidants

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

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

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

Fiber and Filling Factors

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

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

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

Shelf Stability

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

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

Bursts of Color

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

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

Savory Sensations

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

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

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

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

10 snacks under 100 calories for your sweet tooth

Sunday, November 11, 2012 8:05
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100 calorie snacks

You sometimes need to eat something sweet but at the same time you do not want to ‘break’ your diet. Finding low calorie snacks and desserts can be a challenge, so here are some recipes and snacks less than 100 calories to keep around the house for those moments of temptation. They are delicious and easy to prepare and will satisfy your sweet tooth without adding extra calories to your daily diet.

Chocolate covered banana

This tasty treat is one that you can make on your own or get in the frozen foods aisle of your supermarket.  Chocolate covered bananas make for an excellent dessert with only a few calories and yet numerous health benefits!  When making your own chocolate covered banana you want to use half a banana and about a half ounce of dark chocolate.   For frozen bananas you can check the nutrition label for calorie information, but often they are smaller bananas than what you would see in the fresh produce aisle.

Mini fruit filled crepe

Crepes make a great sweet snack because they can be bought or made in large quantities and quickly wrapped with some fresh fruit for a refreshing and low-calorie treat.  The crepes you make or buy should be only about 5 inches across or else should be cut in half.  Fill with ½ cup of fruit such as cinnamon apples.  For breakfast the thin, delicate sweetness of a crepe is also a great alternative to its heavier cousin, the pancake.


Mix a third a cup low-fat frozen yogurt, a cup of frozen berries, and a handful of ice and blend for 20 seconds for an excellent on-the-run snack.  Since all of the ingredients are frozen there is no concern for fruit spoiling.  Those who usually buy fresh product may even have a reason to switch; frozen berries are picked at their peak and often have more nutrients than fresh fruit that is out of season.

Kettle Corn

Among the greatest inventions of the popcorn industry is the 100-calorie microwavable bag.  If you’ve never tried kettle corn it is lightly sweet and salty.  Add that to the vast amount of fiber popcorn can add to the diet and you’ve got yourself a healthy yet sizable treat.


Dried mango

1 ounce (about 3 large pieces) of unsweetened dried mangoes is a snack great for those who like a bit of work to their food.  Other dried fruits make great snacks too but try to go for the unsweetened variety; I promise the fruit has enough sugar on its own!



Fancy coffee is not usually considered a snack, but it should be.  With sugar, cream, syrups, and chocolate as common ingredients it can be easy to get even as much as 400 calories in a large beverage!   So how do you get to a 100-calorie coffee?  First, order a coffee that is about the size you would get in a restaurant.

Most coffee joints offer 12 ounces as their ‘small’ portion, but for some this is simply not enough caffeine.  If you feel the need for an extra jolt, ask for another shot of espresso in your cup.  Coffee itself has virtually no calories and may actually have some antioxidant benefits.

A 12 oz. cappuccino made with 1-cup non-fat milk, and a single packet of sugar gets you to about 100 calories.  For adventurous coffee drinkers you can get a double shot of espresso, add a tablespoon of light cream, a tablespoon of chocolate syrup, and a packet of sugar for a small but stimulating dessert-like effect.

Chocolate covered walnuts

Walnuts are a very healthy nut and actually stay fresh longer when coated in chocolate! Combine about 4 walnut halves with about 15 grams melted dark chocolate (a quarter of a normal chocolate bar).   This snack is a bit high in fat, but also a good source of protein and sugar, which makes it a great pre- or post-workout treat.

A small box of raisins

This may be a flashback to your childhood lunchbox, but there are some great reasons to get more raisins in your day.  Grapes are rich in antioxidants that, like red wine, can help to prevent heart disease.  Additionally, these small boxes are easy to keep in a purse, a gym back, or at the office, making this snack ultra-portable as well as ultra-healthy.

Greek yogurt and pomegranate seeds

Seeding a pomegranate is a quick way to stain your clothes.  The solution?  Seed the pomegranate underwater.  After you pull the seeds out they will sink to the bottom while the bitter while pulp floats to the top.  Skim the top and strain the seeds.  Once dry, they can be refrigerated and last for a week or more.  Mix ½ cup of these seeds with about ½ cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt and enjoy!

Rice crispy treats

Lets end with a classic here.  Rice crispy treats are a nostalgic and easy snack that you can bring just about anywhere.  Individual packs are 100 calories and just as delicious as when you were a kid!


So here you are, 10 snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking your diet!

4 ways to avoid weight loss disappointment

Sunday, November 11, 2012 7:48
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weight loss disappointment

The market is saturated with weight loss products, resources, weight loss plans, tips, articles, hypnosis and counselling solutions and everything else your mind can think. You would think that all the weight loss problems are solved. Well if you are on this page it is probably the opposite. Going on to lose weight is not always as straight forward as it seems and often it turns up in disappointment.

There are things you can do to avoid weight loss disappointment and in this article we have summarised 4 of them. It must be said they are not the only things you can do to help you but they do give a good start.

Planning and setting goals

Having a plan will do wonders in helping you to achieve your goals. It kind of makes sense that in order to achieve your goals you will have to set them first.

1# Set your goals. Set both short term and long term goals. How much is the weight you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? Keep it realistic and feasible. It is no good to say that you want to lose 100 lbs in 1 month. Set goals which are easy to reach and reflect the reality of your lifestyle. Factor everything in, your family, work, commitments how they affect you etc.

2# Consider your attitude to food. For many people food is more than just a means of survival. Food can serve social, emotional, habitual purposes in our lives and they can all affect the way we go about weight loss dieting. Are there any types of food that you can’t live without? Do you tend to emotional eat? Is food the last thing in your mind and you always end up with last minute takeaways?

Your attitude towards food could be one of the reasons you have put on weight. Finding what causes the ‘problem’ and making practical changes then could be half away to solving your problem.

3# Practical planning. What that means is all the everyday little things you need in order to follow your weight loss plan. Some of these include, clearing your cupboards of all things that you may be tempted, having food plans and/or recipes for your daily meals, working out your shopping list etc.

Choosing the way

Once you know what your goals and plans are then the next natural step is to try and match these with an appropriate weight loss plan. The market is saturated with different weight loss diets, weight loss plans and so on. If you have tried most of them and failed you should possibly consider that they have failed you and not the other way around. So how do you pick a plan that is guaranteed to succeed?

4# The one that suits your lifestyle. Not all weight loss plans are good for everybody. You may know of one that your friend tried or someone in the office tried and lost weight or you may have read about one which most people recommend. Well no, none of them would do if they do not suit your personal preferences and circumstances. Look at a few and match them to what you want and what you need.

5# Avoid fad plans and trends. If it promises too much too fast, or if it involves a super or miracle food it is likely that is a ‘fad’. With these kinds of plans you are less likely to lose the weight you want and you are more likely to have a dent in your pocket and loads of disappointment.

At the end of the day you didn’t put the weight on overnight so it is less likely that you will lose it overnight. Aim for safe and slow weight loss, after all your health is important. 

6# Weight loss plan versus life style plan. Now should you be looking for a weight loss plan which lasts, let’s say one month, or should be looking at making lifestyle changes? Obviously the advice would be look at making those lifestyle changes which in the long run they will promote positive outcomes for both your health and weight.

Think of it this way: you say you put on weight after months or years of ‘bad’ eating habits. You can go on a diet lose some weight and then go back to what or how you were eating pre-diet. The result: weight gain.

It may be that some people do have a relatively healthy balanced diet and what they are looking for is those couple of pounds loss. A specific weight loss plan may just do it. It may also be that for some people it works that they need a structured diet plan in order to be able to start learning and getting used to eating changes.

Either way it is always best to have in your plan a transition process in which you move from weight loss plan to everyday eating. 

This is the real life

Being realistic about what you want and how you will achieve it is quite important as mentioned already. However, being honest and realistic with your self is something which is often overlooked. Losing weight requires making an effort, planning, showing willpower and sometimes fighting those cravings.

One of reasons people tend to fall for the fast, fad miracle weight loss plans is because they don’t want to make that effort and would rather believe that the ‘x’ and ‘y’ miracle pills will do it for them and it doesn’t then disappointment comes.

7# Are you ready to lose the weight? Ask yourself if you are ready and if you do actually want to lose the weight. Falling on the trap of ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘diets don’t work for me I tried everything’ is easy and in some ways comfortable. Think well if you do want to do it as doing it because you have to, or for someone else when you are not sure you really want to then you are likely setting yourself to fail.

8# Are you motivated? Motivation is key into reaching any goal. If your efforts are for all the wrong reasons then you are likely to not go too far or give up.

Tip: Make a list of why you want to lose the weight. Ask yourself if it is important to you that you do lose the weight. Also ask yourself where you want to be in a month’s time and in a year’s time. People may lose weight for various reasons so concentrate on those personal reasons.

It may be that you want to lose weight so that you increase your chances for pregnancy, or because you don’t want be ‘a fat bride’ or because you are on the edge of getting diabetes or even just because you want to wear the clothes you like without feeling bad for yourself.

Make 2 copies of your list and then place one in your kitchen (i.e. wall, fridge, cupboard etc) and one copy in your bag. This way you will have it handy every time you are in doubt.

9# Love yourself. Are you on a weight loss diet because you always have done, or because you just think that is what you should be doing? If you can’t find those important reasons to motivate you then maybe it is not about losing weight. Stop torturing yourself with another ‘diet’ and start loving who you are and what you look like.

Keep flexible

Weight loss comes with ups and downs and plateaus. This is a fact. At the start you may lose more weight or you may have a slow start, then plateau then start moving on. Your body will be going through changes and in the process and it will try to adapt to those changes and even fight the weight loss.

10# Be positive, little changes add up. Don’t look at short term and don’t obsess with the scales. One week you may lose more, one week not at all. Keep positive and think of all the little small things which you may have achieved through out your weight loss.

11# Keep evaluating your plan. Re-think of your goals and what is working or not working for you. Make changes and also break the boredom.  If you are on a weight loss for months it can get boring and tedious, especially if you have reached a plateau. Make small changes, think your food intake, and try new healthy recipes, get active or try a different approach. Keep motivated.

Causes of belly fat and health dangers

Saturday, November 10, 2012 9:40
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causes of belly fat


A simple and straight forward reason for belly fat is just too much food. People consume more calories than they burn and the rest is stored as fat. Over a long period of time they put on weight and become overweight and obese. There are factors such as gender, body type and genetics which will affect the tendency of the body of storing more fat in some parts than others.

However, when passing the stage of carrying a few extra pounds, (in general) fat will be stored everywhere. There are no catches here, only the well-known old fashion “too much food too little exercise”.

For the old fashion cause there is an old fashion solution. Healthier diet, decrease calorie intake and increase exercise/activity.

Hormones and gender differences

Hormonal imbalances, conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and menopause can influence weight gain and also the area in which the body will store fat. For example women during and after menopause tend to store fat in the abdominal area easier. This is mainly due to the hormone changes women undergo during menopause, such as the decrease in estrogens.

It must be noted that hormonal imbalances are not exclusive to women, and men can be affected as well.You may have heard the ‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus’ saying. Well is not just an excuse to blame fat distribution on sex differences. Men and women do have differences in the ‘sex’ (steroid) hormones.

In simplified terms women have higher levels of oestrogens and progesterone hormones and men have higher levels of androgens such as progesterone hormones. These differences translate into women having the tendency to store more fat around the hip area and men in the abdominal (belly) area.

Being a man or a woman will not make you put on weight. Excess calorie intake and lack of exercise will (unless you do have hormonal imbalances and/or health conditions).

If you do suffer from any conditions which affect your hormones consult your doctor who can give you options for treatment. In addition, the doctor can advise you for condition specific diets.

Environmental pollutants and estrogens

It has long been established by science that environmental pollutants/chemicals can have disruptive effects in the body’s processes. In the past decade much attention has been given in the effects specific chemicals have in human metabolism and more specific in influencing weight gain and obesity.

The ‘Obesogen Theory’ supports that exposure to chemicals which can disrupt the endocrine system (hormonal, metabolic etc), especially during development, can program the development of obesity and other diseases.

Ok so you can’t move to Mars for a pollutant free environment… However, you most definitely you can avoid using to many plastics, or remove food from plastic packaging before placing in the microwave.

In addition, avoid too many soy products and drinking too much beer.

One such chemical believed to influence weight gain and belly fat is the environmental estrogens. In the body estrogen is a ‘sex’ hormone. In very simple words the environmental chemicals tend to mimic the effects of the hormone when in the body. Studies have shown that there is a strong link between consumption of environmental estrogens and weight gain, with more specific increasing fat storage in the abdominal (belly) area. Men seem to be more affected than women.

Environmental estrogens can be found in plastics (food containers, bottles etc and can pass in food) and also in some foods such soy products (i.e. phytoestrogens in foods such as tofu, soy milk etc).conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Although, the exact mechanisms of how this happens are not fully understood, it is however accepted that environmental chemicals do influence how and in which areas people gain weight.


There are a number of theories related to alcohol and belly fat. One of the theories relates to the estrogen content of drinks such as beer (see above). Another theory suggests that alcohol influences liver metabolism which leads to storing fat in the abdominal area (belly). However, the exact mechanisms are not fully understood and some research evidence is not as strong.

A more simplified connection is that alcohol does contain high amount of calories. Well a few drinks can accumulate a few extra calories which add up to putting on weight. In addition, it is suggested that alcohol increases appetite and food intake. A few drinks coupled with a calorific takeaway the result: belly fat.

Diseases and conditions

There are certain diseases and conditions which affect metabolism. An example is AIDS; the disease has been correlated with dysregulation of lipid metabolism and increased abdominal fat. With any health complaints, conditions/ diseases a medical professional should be consulted about such issues.


Another factor which can lead to increased belly fat is medication. There are numerous drugs which can affect metabolism and weight gain. One such example is antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. Abdominal weight gain could be one of the adverse effects of taking a specific medicine and it may not affect everyone.

Dangers of belly fat

Dangers of belly fat are mainly associated with visceral fat; the kind which is stored deep in the abdominal cavity and in the organs. Visceral fat is considered to be metabolically active and an endocrine organ which means that it produces hormones which are involved in energy metabolism and appetite regulation.

The visceral kind of belly fat has been associated with a number of conditions and diseases. Some examples are increased risk for ’metabolic syndrome’ insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The list goes on and on and can include increased risk for cardiovascular disease, liver disease, inflammation, cholesterol, dyslipidemia, and so on, and in general with the metabolic complications of obesity.

It must be noted that you don’t need to be obese to have a high risk of developing any of the above conditions/diseases. Being relatively slim but with a belly can still have the same effect. In additions, visceral fat is the one which you can’t see, and is easy to ignore.

What can you do? Well what about the old classic solution. A healthy diet coupled with increasing physical activity?

Always consult a medical professional if you have any health complaints or concerns and/or before you change your diet or exercise

7 best ways to trim your tummy without exercise

Saturday, November 10, 2012 9:16
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woman with thin waist

Is it really possible to trim your tummy fat without exercise? Exercising is beneficial for most of people. Not only is good for health and weight loss but it also has added beauty benefits. You look fit, trim, everything tends to stay in place and where is meant to be, not to mention that clothes do look good on. Let’s face it though, exercise is not for everybody. Call it luck of time, call it ‘I don’t like it’ or demanding lifestyle, well is not feasible for everybody.

So what can you do to get your waistline back in control which does not involve exercise? How can you lose belly fat without spending endless hours in the gym? Read on to find out.

1. Diet

No 1 after exercise is diet. If you are putting on weight it usually indicates that you have eaten one too many. Even if you follow a healthy diet, overconsumption of calories will lead to putting on weight. If you lose weight you will lose belly fat and it usually tends to be the first to go.

Always ensure that any weight gain or increased belly fat is not due to any medical/health reasons. In addition always consult a medical professional before making changes to your diet.

Which is the best diet to lose belly fat? The one diet which suits your individual needs, it is healthy and balanced. Usually diets based on moderate macronutrient intake (moderate protein, fat and carbs) are the best recommended. Personally I am a supporter of Mediterranean style diets, as they tend to provide a variety of nutrients, they can be rich in essential fats (such as omega fats) and research indicates that such diets can be beneficial to health.

2. Cut down on sugars

If you are following a healthy balanced diet for weight loss you are most probably on the way of low sugars. Why cutting down sugars is important? Apart from the calorific value they usually carry, which is quite high, sugars can lead to negative health effects.

Belly fat has been linked with increasing the risk of developing conditions such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. On the other hand such conditions can lead to increased belly fat. By decreasing sugar intake you can aid in improving conditions such as insulin resistance which in turn can aid in losing belly fat. It is a matter which is a little bit interrelated and slightly more complicated but is beyond the scope of this article to analyse it in detail.

Be aware that sugar is not just the white or brown powder you add to your coffee. Pastries, pasta, bread etc. are all sugars, or as most commonly referred to, simple carbohydrates.

3.  Cut down on foods which make you bloated

If your tummy refuses to fit in the jeans, it may not just be because you have put on weight but could be due to bloating. In general sugars and simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, pastries etc are all guilty of making you bloat which is one more reason to cut down on them. Some nutritionist / dieticians support the theory that complex carbohydrates tend to be better as they are broken down slower (to put it in simple words). However, if your diet is mainly based on carbohydrates, you may benefit from cutting down on them either way.

In addition, consuming too much fibre, grains and legumes can have the same effect. Fibre can have health benefits and is always recommended to be included in everyday diet.

However, consumption of large amounts of fibre can lead to gastrointestinal complaints and bloating. The magic word I like to usually use is ‘in moderation’.

Fibre is found in vegetables and some fruits as well as grains. Consuming a combination of all foods without going overboard with one or the other should be enough to provide substantial amounts of the nutrients you need and keep any complaints at bay.

If you do suffer from increased bloating and regular gastrointestinal complaints it is always recommended to consult a medical professional. Conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and food intolerances, could be the cause. The appropriate medical professional should be able to advise you on diet and treatments.

4. Cut down on stress and stay happy

Ok I agree that this is easier said than done. I must say that I find nothing more irritable than being stressed and people telling me to relax. However, according to research both stress and depression could have a role to play in the expanding waistlines.

Studies indicate that stress hormones increase appetite for sweet and high calorie foods as well as increasing capacity to store any excess calories. In other words not only it makes you want to eat fatty foods it helps in turning it into fat. Moreover, stress hormones combined with increased levels of insulin are indicated to increase abdominal fat.

With depression the processes may be a little bit more complicated. However, studies similarly show that there is a link between depression and increase in abdominal fat.

Avoiding every stressful situation we all know can be mission impossible especially if you juggling work, family, kids, global recession, hurricanes, and everyday life. Why not try distressing with having some ‘me’ time and maybe have a nice bath or book a massage.

If that is hard to do, you can have a glass of wine or practice some breathing techniques which aim to alleviate stress. Alternatively you can go for a walk in fresh air or do some therapeutic journalism.

5. Improve your posture.

Do you remember when your mum used to tell you night and day to stand straight, stop slouching and keep your shoulders back? I do sometimes wonder if anybody did actually did listen to all that… Well slouching will not make you put on weight on your belly as such and if you do stand straight will not make you lose weight as such either.

What it will do is actually improve the look of your belly and will help to condition your muscles a bit. Slouching can make your belly look bigger than it is along with all the not good effects on your back, chest etc.

Why not try it and you may see that you may have stopped some of those aches and pains on your back.

6. Liposuction

I will include it but in general I would not recommend any surgical procedures for the purpose of weight loss. Liposuction can be found with a number of different names and can be done with a number of different techniques. In its essence it is the removal of fat deposits from specific areas of the body via a surgical procedure. Depending on the area and/or the amount of fat to be removed the procedure can be performed under general or local anaesthetic.

As with every surgical procedure it carries dangers and it should not be taken lightly. Infections, blood clots, severe bruising and deformations are some of the complications that can take place. The more fat is removed and the less experienced the surgeon is, the more dangers the procedure can carry.

Moreover, unless you remove what makes the fat to be stored it will be back. Is it your diet, your lifestyle, stress lack of physical activity what expands your dress size? Well if it stays the same it will only have the same effect.

7. Tummy tuck

As with liposuction it is a surgical procedure and it carries a number of dangers. Although it is a way to trim your tummy without exercise, I would not recommend it.

Tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) usually includes carrying out liposuction to remove the excess fat and also removing sections of the skin. As with any major surgery it can put increased strain in the body and it can have fatal results. It can also carry risks of infection, blood clots, scarring and deformations.

In some cases tummy tuck may be necessary or beneficial such as after major weight loss. It is often the case that the skin has lost its elasticity and there are folds of skin left on the body. Apart from beauty purposes the skin folds may be removed for health reasons as well.

Always consult the appropriate medical professional before making any changes to your diet and especially if considering any surgical conditions. In which case do make sure that it is your last option and the benefits do outweigh the risks.