Weight Loss Tips for Vegetarians

Thursday, March 15, 2012 16:15
Comments Off on Weight Loss Tips for Vegetarians

vegetarian diet

It is a common misconception that a vegetarian diet is ‘healthier’ and therefore better for weight loss than a diet containing meat products.

Although a vegetarian diet is likely to be higher in vegetables, beans and legumes than a more carnivorous eating style, this does not necessarily mean it is lower in fat and calories.

To lose weight, the total calories that we eat need to be less than those which we burn.  Adopting a vegetarian diet may help you to achieve this negative balance, but it is important to be aware of vegetarian foods that can contribute just as many calories to your diet, if not more, than meat products.

Whether you have chosen a vegetarian diet for weight loss, or for other health or ethical reasons, it is still essential to be well informed about the types of food you are eating and the way they can impact on your health.

Benefits of a vegetarian diet for weight loss

A well planned vegetarian diet can provide many health benefits to the follower.  Vegetarians often replace meat products with legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas.  These are high in fibre and contain many key nutrients, as well as being lower in fat than most meat products.

Vegetarians also normally eat more or a greater variety of vegetables than meat eaters too, meaning their diet is likely to be richer in vitamins.  Processed meats and high fat cuts of meat contribute large amounts of unhealthy saturated fat and calories to the diet, so by eliminating these products, calorie intake may be reduced.

However, eliminating meat alone is not usually enough for significant weight loss.  To achieve healthy weight loss on a vegetarian diet you can try to follow these tips.

 1# Choose low fat dairy products

Many vegetarians use dairy products as a substitute protein source to replace meat in their diets.  This does have the benefits of providing a complete protein source, with essential minerals such as calcium, but can also be a high saturated fat and calorie alternative.

It is important to choose low fat versions of products such as milk and yoghurt; these will still have the same amount of protein and calcium, but less weight loss hindering calories and fat.

Cheese is another popular vegetarian choice.  Low fat hard cheeses can have a bland taste and still be relatively high in fat, so you may find it better to substitute with a naturally low fat fresh cheese such as cottage or ricotta, or simply limit your hard cheese intake to only a few times a week in small serves.  Using a more strongly flavoured cheese such as parmesan in cooking means you need less to appreciate the taste.

2# Use low fat cooking methods

Vegetables, legumes and beans are all low fat and calorie, high fibre, nutrient packed foods, as long as you cook them the right way.  Frying foods in oil, coating salads in oil dressings, or spreading butter on wholegrain bread are all easy ways to add a lot of calories to your diet and slow weight loss.

Try frying in a non-stick pan with a tiny amount of unsaturated olive oil, or use a method that requires no fat such as grilling or baking.  Sprinkle vegetables with fresh or dried herbs and spices and drizzle with lemon juice for added flavour without the calories.

Try to avoid using butter and mayo in sandwiches and on bread.  Opt instead for low fat spreads such as mustard.

3# Avoid processed foods high in sugar, fat or refined grains

By choosing to eat vegetarian foods, you do eliminate a number of unhealthy food choices from your diet. However, there is still a huge number of processed, high calorie and fat foods that contain no meat products and will stop you from losing weight.  Biscuits, cakes, donuts and pastries (sweet and savoury) can all ruin a diet.

Be especially aware of vegetarian options such as pasties, quiches and pies.  Although they may contain more vegetables than the meat version, the pastry and fillings and still be high in fat and refined grains.  See also: What are empty calories food.

4# Beware ‘fake meat’ products

Meat substitutes come in just about every shape and form.  These are usually made from gluten or soy proteins and flavoured to resemble popular meat foods such as bacon, burgers and hot dogs.

Whilst in general, these are lower in saturated fat than meat, as they are made with vegetable proteins, it must be remembered that they are also processed foods, and it is not always clear exactly what is in them.  It is important when choosing products that you check the calorie and fat content of the product as many contain hydrogenated fats and fillers that bump up the calories.

Also bear in mind that if you use unhealthy cooking methods such as frying, or add unhealthy condiments to a meat substitute, the calorie and fat content will also be increased.  A burger made with vegetarian bacon and burger, but still slathered in mayonnaise, fried onions, and cheese, all on a sugary refined white bun isn’t going to help you lose weight.

5#Choose healthy restaurant and takeaway meals

Vegetarian meals are becoming more and more readily available in restaurants and take away joints.  This means that there are usually a lot more choices on a menu than in the past when a vegetarian diner may have been met with one or two options, or even just a salad.

Unfortunately, not all chefs are well versed in vegetarian cooking, meaning that a lot of vegetarian dishes are bland or rely heavily on ingredients such as cheese, cream and fat for flavour.

It is important to make informed choices when eating out if you are trying to lose weight, for example always choose a tomato based pasta sauce rather than a creamy or cheesy one and ask for less cheese on pizza toppings.  Ask for your salad dressing on the side and opt for oil and vinegar versions rather than creamy one such as Caesar.

Try to choose dishes that have been cooked in a healthy manner such as grilling, boiling or steaming rather than frying.  If you are unsure of how something is cooked or what is in it, ask!  This can be particularly important in Asian restaurants, which generally have a lot of vegetarian options, but are often deep fried. See also 10 Dining out tips for losing weight.

6# Watch your portion sizes

Even if you are eating the healthiest foods, if you eat too much you will put on weight.  For vegetarians, it is important to watch the size of the carbohydrate portion of your meal.

As you are not eating meat, more of your plate may be made up of carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes or rice.  These are all easy to overeat and may not keep you as full for as long as a protein based food.  Try to fill the majority of your plate with vegetables and include a protein source at each meal to avoid over eating carbohydrates.

If necessary, buy smaller plates as these give the illusion that you are eating more.

Is a Gluten Free Diet Beneficial For Weight Loss?

Monday, March 12, 2012 17:00
Comments Off on Is a Gluten Free Diet Beneficial For Weight Loss?

gluten free diet

Gluten free diets are becoming increasingly popular in the diet world.  More and more gluten free products are available in supermarkets and restaurants are serving up a wider range of gluten free dishes.

However, many people are following the diet for the wrong reasons and it needs to be stressed that the gluten free diet is not primarily a weight loss diet, but in fact a necessary diet for people with the clinical condition, Celiac Disease.  It is also important to note that a gluten free diet is not the same as a low carb diet.

This is not to say that people who follow a gluten free diet will not lose weight, but the diet is not designed for this purpose, so there are no guarantees.  Furthermore, people following this diet need to be aware that by following a gluten free diet, they are eliminating a large number of nutritious foods from their diet and are therefore at risk of nutrient deficiencies unless appropriate substitutions are made.  See also: What is a well balanced meal

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye grains.  It is therefore present in foods such as bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and anything made with flour.  Gluten is also present in many processed foods due to thickeners, flavours and coatings such as bread crumbs, which contain derivatives of these grains.

Who should follow a gluten free diet?

A gluten free diet is suggested for patience of Celiac disease. This disease affects more than two million Americans (possibly more) as it is often left undiagnosed.

When people with this condition eat gluten, their immune system attacks the protein and causes damage to the tiny, protrusions called villi in the small intestine, which are responsible for the absorption of nutrients into the blood stream.  This damage means that nutrients are not absorbed well into the body and the person can miss out of vital vitamins and minerals necessary for the body to function.

In addition to these nutrient deficiencies, more obvious symptoms may include weight loss, anaemia, upset stomachs, bloating and fatigue.  If the damage continues over the long term, irreversible damage may be done to the intestine, and there is a higher risk of intestinal cancers.

It is therefore vitally important that a strict gluten free diet is followed at all times.

What does a gluten free diet involve?

Many people who take up a gluten free diet for weight loss or reasons other than Celiac disease do not realise the effort and risks of following the diet.  A strict gluten free diet not only eliminates bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, crackers and any flour containing products but also means that a huge amount of frozen foods, takeaways, processed foods and condiments cannot be eaten.

Even if the main ingredient is not wheat, barely or rye, many foods contain products derived from these grains and must be avoided.

There is also a risk of contamination.  If you are following a true gluten free diet, you should have a separate toaster, chopping board and knife for gluten free bread.  Foods with gluten should not be prepared in the same area or pans as gluten free foods as even the smallest amount of contamination can do damage to the intestine.

At restaurants, people with celiac disease need to not only request gluten free meals, but also make sure the chef is aware of the possibility of contamination and prepares the foods separately.  If you do not have celiac disease, you may not follow the diet as strictly as this, but if you do not, your diet is unlikely to be completely gluten free.

A gluten free diet also represents a large increase in food costs to followers.  Gluten free products such as bread and pasta are usually significantly more expensive than normal versions and although they are becoming more readily available, it can still be difficult to locate products in smaller shops and supermarkets.

Another issue is taste, although this is also improving, gluten free products derived from other types of grains and proteins often have a different, and in many cases undesirable, taste and texture.

People on a gluten free diet must also be conscience of the foods and therefore nutrients that they are eliminating from their diets.  Cutting out breads and pasta from your diet can lead to a lack of the B group vitamins these foods contain.

This can cause low energy and fatigue if these vitamins are not obtained from another food source.  Fibre intake may also be low, as eliminating whole grain products from the diet and replacing them with gluten free products often made from refined corn or rice flour can decrease dietary fibre intake.

It is important to replace the eliminated foods with alternatives that provide these nutrients such as alternative grains like quinoa and wild rice.

Is a Gluten free diet beneficial for weight loss?

There is little scientific evidence that a gluten free diet is beneficial for weight loss.  Although there are many people who report successful weight loss and energy with a gluten free diet, this may in fact due to the fact their overall food intake has decreased.

Foods containing gluten such as pasta, bread, cakes and pastries are the types of foods that are often over eaten, so by eliminating these from the diet, most people will be eating less calories. Unfortunately, if they are not substituting these foods with gluten free alternatives they are also placing themselves at risk of nutrient deficiencies and fatigue due to low carbohydrate intake.

If following a strict diet, it is also probable that dieters are avoiding many other weight inducing foods such as processed foods and takeaways, high fat condiments and sauces in case they also contain gluten.  This may also be a contributing factor for those who have experienced weight loss on this diet and may in fact be a good practice to adopt.  These foods usually contain little nutritional benefit and thus can safely be eliminated from the diet. See also quick and healthy weight loss tips

On the other hand, it is also important to remember that realistically a gluten free diet can easily contain just as many calories as a diet containing gluten.  Gluten free foods are often just as high in fat and calories, if not more so than their gluten containing counterparts.  A gluten free diet does not aim to reduce calories and fat, and so is not designed to cause weight loss.

It is not recommended to follow a gluten free diet for weight loss purposes as there is no scientific evidence to support this as a viable technique.  If you suspect you are suffering from Celiac disease, it is important to get an official diagnosis from a doctor, and see a dietician for advice on how best to follow a gluten free diet.

Do you gain weight with alcohol?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 13:47
Comments Off on Do you gain weight with alcohol?

alcoholic drinks

The common saying I hear in the office after a stressful day is that there is nothing better than a nice meal and a couple of drinks at the end of a hard day. Most of my colleagues will argue that a glass of wine will do miracles for their stress levels.

This is usually followed by the comment ‘but not good for my waist’. We all have heard before and especially if you ever followed a weight loss diet, that alcohol contains quite a few calories and it doesn’t help with losing weight.

Do you gain weight with alcohol?

However, in a world were something new comes out every day, how true is that and could it be that alcohol is responsible for the extra weight? Bellow we have looked at what research has to say and whether you need to say goodbye to a favourite past time; having a drink that is.

Looking at a few studies it appears that nothing is as clear cut as it seems. Some studies have shown one thing some studies have shown another thing and so on. Based on that I have looked bellow in some of the main points and beliefs about alcohol consumption and whether they are true or not.

1# Alcohol contains calories

Yes indeed alcohol does contain calories and some drinks can be quite calorie heavy for that matter. So consuming alcohol will add up to your total weekly or daily (depending how often you drink) calorie intake. However, whether these calories do add up to weight gain is not clear cut.

Here are some of the calories different drinks contain. Calorific values are an example and would vary depending on the brand and the alcohol percentage contained.


Calories Kcal

Lager (beer) 1 pint,  4% alcohol


Wine – 1 glass 175ml, 13% alcohol


Whiskey – 25ml shot


Champagne – 1 glass 175ml, 12% alcohol


Baileys – 50ml, shot 17% alcohol


Vodka – 25ml, shot 40% alcohol


Gin – 25ml, 37.5% alcohol


Bacardi – 25ml, 37.5% alcohol


Spirit mixed – 25ml shot + mixer, 37.5% alcohol



2# Extra calories coming from alcohol will lead to putting on weight

In simple words if you consume more calories than you need then you should put on weight. If these extra calories come from alcohol then it should translate to weight gain. However, studies seem to show that this is not quite the case.

Moderate alcohol consumption in women does not seem to lead to weight gain. If anything women who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol gained less weight or lose weight than non drinkers.

3# Men are different from women

Yes even in alcoholic calories men are from Mars and women are from Venus. If you are a woman there may be good news but if you are a man not so good. As mentioned above women do not show to put on weight whereas men are more likely to do. Alcohol consumption was related to weight gain in men regardless of the kind of drink they consumed (see also our weight loss tips for men).

Although it is not clear why this takes place, one of the possible reasons given is hormonal and metabolic differences between the two genders.

4# Alcohol will stop you burning fat

Your body will burn the alcohol (well the products of the alcohol) first as a fuel in favour of fat. In addition, alcohol is shown to suppress the actual burning of fat process (fatty acid oxidation). Read also our how to burn fat with food article.

However, it is suggested the process of utilising alcohol in your body tends to require more energy; therefore you will also be using more calories to do that. In real terms, researchers are not quite sure why women tend to not put on weight however with alcohol so they give a number of different reasons, different dietary choice being one of them.

In addition, some studies suggest that consumption of alcohol (even low levels) can improve the HDL and LDL profiles of women consuming a high-fat diet which is typical in the U.S but does not have an effect in low-fat diet followers.

To put it simply, these lipoproteins (HDL and LDL) are referring to cholesterol, and to an extend lipid metabolism, and all they are saying is that improved cholesterol profiles are connected to low risk of cardiovascular disease. Although you can get improved profiles of cholesterol when following a low-fat diet, alcohol will not have an extra effect.

5# Alcohol will increase your appetite

Now some studies say yes some say no. There is the binge eating thing that tends to happen after a heavy night out. You may have been there, where you have come back home on a Saturday night after a few too many, with a large kebab and fries or a large pizza and eaten it all. Often you find out the next morning mainly because a piece of pizza may still be stuck on your chin.      

On the other hand there are studies which have not found any differences in appetite level between alcohol and no alcohol consumption. Scientists in other words are unsure and debate the whole alcohol makes you eat more theory. What they may have observed however, is that women tend to eat less carbohydrates (sugar in particular) overall when consuming moderate amounts of alcohol. This could suggest that women may be substituting the sugar with alcohol.

6# The beer belly phenomenon

It is quite a typical image, a man with a big belly and a beer on his hand and I am sure you may have heard people saying it is a beer belly. Now that is not 100% true. You will not be storing the beer on your belly as it may have been suggested in the past and the ‘beer belly’ may just be an urban legend in some ways. However, it may be that in indirect ways beer may cause increase in abdominal fat.

This comes from the environmental estrogens theories. Some studies suggest that consumption of environmental estrogens does lead to fat being stored in the abdomen. Beer contains such estrogens and although there is not a lot of straight forward evidence it may be that it plays a role in that belly.

In conclusion, do you gain weight with alcohol?

Well if you are a woman it definitely seems as it is better news than if you are a man. Scientists tend to suggest that women can enjoy the one or two glasses of wine at the end of a stressful day and not pile the pounds on after all.

However, alcohol can have some negative effects in health and also what effect the different types of alcoholic drinks have has not been studied to a large extend. Keeping in things in moderation and drinking wisely is not a bad way to go.

9 Tips about alcohol and Weight Loss

Here are some tips to help you further:         

   Tip1.   Avoid the takeaways. If you are a Weekend post-party binge eater maybe try to avoid the takeaway place at the end of the night. When you are drunk and merry is harder to say no to a full on heavy calorific meal (see also How to control your desire of food).

   Tip2.   Don’t drink on an empty stomach and eat something before you go out. You are more likely to be hungry after the drinking session and attack anything you can find. Also this is not a good treatment for your stomach and they do say that you don’t get drunk as easy. Think of your health as well.

   Tip3.   Drink water in between drinks. Yes you heard that before I’m sure. You will be potentially drinking less alcohol and also it does miracles for that next day hangover. Alcohol can make you visit the toilet once too many times, and you could be potentially be dehydrating yourself. Drinking water between drinks will keep you hydrated.

   Tip4.   If you are thirsty drink water first, before going for alcohol. I remember a friend we were on holidays in Greece with. He would say I am thirsty let’s get a beer. Now I never understood how having alcohol in 400C was a good but also if you are thirsty why not drink water (or a juice even). If you are thirsty you are more likely to drink more alcoholic drinks and faster.

   Tip5.   Opt for red wine. Some studies suggest that red wine has protective effects for the heart and general health. It tends to get praised as being one of the elements in Mediterranean dietary patterns which benefit health. However, in moderation is the magic word here.

   Tip6.   Avoid the sweet drinks. There are a number of low alcohol mixed drinks and they are often called ‘alcopops’. Now these tend to contain a lot of added sugar and mixers which are not very calorie friendly. Plus the more sugar an alcoholic drink contains the more drunk people tend to get.

   Tip7.   It is ok to be ‘teetotal’. In other words if you do not want to indulge in alcohol you don’t need to worry about it. You don’t have to start drinking just to keep your weight down. It s not a diet and it is a personal preference. I am sure that there are millions of non drinkers who are doing just as well with their weight.

   Tip8.   Consult an appropriate medical professional. If for any reason you have any concerns with your alcohol intake, your weight or any other issues the most appropriate people to ask are appropriately qualified medical professionals. Alcohol can have negative effects in health as already mentioned, and also it could contradict some medical conditions and/or medications. Before making any choices, changes or decisions you should seek appropriate advice.

   Tip9.   Don’t obsess with calorie counting and don’t starve in the name of a drink. This is nothing new I am saying. Be aware that alcoholic drinks do contain calories and that you could be consuming the equivalent of 2 meals in one party session. However, as you can see, research does not 100% agree that you will necessarily pile on the pounds. Don’t starve yourself just so you can have a drink and keep the calories in a range. Drink wisely and eat wisely should do the trick.


1. Beasley, J.M., Ange, B.A., Anderson, C.A.M., Miller III, E.R., Erlinger, T.P., Holbrook, J.T., Sacks, F.M., Appel L.J., (2009) Associations between macronutrient intake and self-reported appetite and fasting levels of appetite hormones: results from the optimal macronutrient intake trial to prevent heart disease American Journal of Epidemiology 169; 7: 893–900

2. Colditz, G.A., Giovannucci, E., Rimm, E.B., Stampfer, M.J., Rosner, B., Speizer, F.E., Gordis, E., Willett, W.C., (1991) Alcohol intake in relation to diet and obesity in women and men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54:49-55 

3. Hong, J., Holcomb, V.B., Dang, F., Porampornpilas K., Núñez, N.P., (2010) Alcohol consumption, obesity, estrogen treatment and breast cancer. Anticancer Research 30: 1-8

4. Raben, A., Agerholm-Larsen, L., Flint, A., Holst, J.J., Astrup, A., (2003), Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77:91–100

5. Rocha, K.K.H.R., Souza, G.A., Seiva, F.R.F., Ebaid, G.X., Novelli, E.L. B., (2011) Pharmacology and cell metabolism weekend ethanol consumption and high-sucrose diet: Resveratrol effects on energy expenditure, substrate oxidation, lipid profile, oxidative stress and hepatic energy metabolism Alcohol and Alcoholism 46;1:10–16,

6. Rumpler, W.V., Clevidence, B.A., Muesing, R.A., Rhodes, D.G., (1999) Changes in women’s plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations due to moderate consumption of alcohol are affected by dietary fat level. Journal of Nutrition 129: 1713–1717Wannamethee S.G., Shaper A.G., (2003) Alcohol, body weight, and weight gain in middle-aged men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 77:1312–7

7. Wang, L., Lee, I-M., Manson, J.E., Buring, J.E., Sesso, H.D., (2010) Alcohol consumption, weight gain, and risk of becoming overweight in middle-aged and older women. Archives of International Medicine, 170;5: 453-561

What is a well balanced meal?

Monday, March 5, 2012 16:00
Comments Off on What is a well balanced meal?

healthy balanced meal

A well balanced meal should contain all the macro-nutrients required for optimum health and to maintain the cells, tissues and functions of the body.   These nutrients include protein, carbohydrate and a regulated amount of healthy unsaturated fat.

Ideally a well balanced meal should also include a variety of vitamins and minerals.

The importance of eating a well-balanced meal

It is important to eat well balanced meals most of the time to ensure that your overall diet is also balanced, and that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy body.  Eating healthy, balanced meals will also provide you with plenty of long lasting energy and keep you full for longer.

Obviously it is not always possible to eat a completely nutritionally balanced plate of food at every meal, but if you aim for a balanced the majority of the time, you will end up with a nutritionally complete diet overall.

Try to ensure that each meal contains at least a protein source, carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables.  It is not necessary, and in fact would be almost impossible, to consume every nutrient in every meal, so try to look at your diet as a whole over a more long term time frame, and keep your diet varied.  Try new foods and look for new recipes and interesting ways of changing your diet.

The USRDA recommend that a balanced meal should be made up of half fruit and vegetables, a quarter with protein and the remaining quarter carbohydrates.  A serve of low fat dairy is also recommended.  It is also suggested that sodium intake should be reduced, less than 10% of fat intake should be from saturated sources and solid fats should be limited as should refined grains and alcohol.


Protein is essential in the body, not only to keep us full longer, but also to provide essential amino acids that are used in the body to regenerate protein in the body.

Most Americans eat too much protein, so try to ensure that the protein portion of your meal only occupies about a quarter of your plate at most.  A serve of meat for example should be about the size and thickness of a pack of playing cards.

There are two main sources of protein.  The first is high quality or complete protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese.  These contain all the essential amino acids.  The second class are the incomplete proteins, which provide adequate amounts of amino acids, but not all of them.  These include beans and other legumes, rice, tofu and other vegetarian protein sources.

Due to their incomplete nature, to obtain all the necessary amino acids from non animal sources, it is important to eat a combination of these foods together.  For example, beans and rice will provide all amino acids when eaten together, as each is rich in different acids.

It is also important to choose low fat sources of protein.  Choose lean cuts of meat and remove any visible fat and chicken skin.  Cook using low fat methods such as grilling or baking, or fry in a small amount of olive or vegetable oil.


Carbohydrates provide us with the energy our body needs, in addition to important B group vitamins and fibre.  Diets that eliminate or drastically reduce carbohydrates may leave you lacking in energy. Rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes are all excellent sources of carbohydrate.

Try to choose wholegrain or brown varieties for increased fibre and longer lasting energy and try to avoid refined carbohydrates sources such as cakes.    Low GI carbs such as sweet potatoes are a good alternative to potatoes to keep blood sugar levels more level.


Although fats are often portrayed as a food to avoid, we do in fact need some fat in our diet.  Choose unsaturated fats such as olive oil, vegetables oils and margarines for cooking, or include some healthy fat foods such as avocados and nuts in your diet.  These healthy fats help to prevent the build up of cholesterol in the blood and also contribute valuable fat soluble vitamins.

In order to maintain a healthy weight however, we do need to watch our fat intake.  Try to cook with minimal added fat, switch to low fat dairy products and stay away from high fat products such as cakes and fried food, particularly if you are watching your weight.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals play a vital part in the healthy function of our bodies.  Different types of foods provide different vitamins, which is why it is essential to eat a variety of different foods.  Fruit and vegetables are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and in addition to being low in calories and fat and high in fibre, this makes them a very important part of a healthy diet.

Try to fill half your plate with vegetables at a meal.  If this is difficult, eat slightly less vegetables and have a piece of fruit for dessert.  Eating more high fibre vegetables is a great way to fill up without loading your body with unwanted calories.  It is important to remember however that potatoes, whilst technically vegetables, are really part of the carbohydrate group and should not be part of your vegetable intake for the day.

What does a healthy meal look like?

Here are some balanced meal ideas to help you get started.

Balanced Breakfast Ideas:

  • Wholegrain breakfast cereal with low fat milk, fresh fruit and low fat yogurt
  • Wholegrain toast with scrambled eggs, low fat cheese, baked beans and fresh fruit salad.
  • Porridge oats made with low fat milk topped with bananas, sultanas and a small handful unsalted nuts
  • Fruit smoothie with low fat milk, with peanut butter on wholegrain toast.
  • See also The importance of breakfast for weight loss

Lunch Ideas

  • Wholegrain bread sandwich with a low fat filling such as turkey or tuna, with fresh fruit, green salad and low fat yoghurt.
  • Veggie burger (with beans or tofu) on wholegrain bread, with roasted vegetables (minimal oil) and fresh fruit.
  • Wholegrain pita pockets stuffed with tuna or hummus, salad and low fat cheese served with pumpkin soup made with low fat milk.
  • See also Diet Friendly Frozen meals

Balanced Dinner Ideas

  • Oven baked fish with roasted vegetables and potatoes, low fat yogurt garlic sauce and fresh fruit.
  • Bean and vegetable stew with brown rice and low fat frozen yogurt
  • Whole wheat pasta with tomato based sauce, tuna and roasted vegetables, topped with parmesan cheese, with fresh fruit and low fat dairy dessert.
  • See also: 13 healthy snack ideas for weight loss

Diet Friendly Frozen meals

Thursday, March 1, 2012 16:41
Comments Off on Diet Friendly Frozen meals

diet frozen meals

For many people frozen meals have become a way of life.   Hectic lifestyles mean people have less and less time to cook, let alone shop for fresh ingredients on a regular basis.  Eating out or grabbing takeaway can be expensive, so frozen meals provide a quick, cheap alternative that is ready to eat just minutes after you walk through the door.

Not only are they fuss free, generally it is possible to buy a complete meal in one packet.  There is no need to even reheat foods separately, and all parts take an equal amount of time to be ready to eat.  Another positive aspect for many is that no cooking skill and very little equipment is required.  All that is needed is a microwave and perhaps a fork to eat with (although some meals often come with this thoughtfully included).

Are frozen meals diet friendly?

So frozen meals are a quick, easy food option that is affordable and often a necessity in our busy lifestyles, but are a diet of frozen meals detrimental to our health and diet?  The answer to this question depends largely on the frozen meal you choose.  Traditionally, frozen meals were often high in fat, salt and preservatives and low in nutrients, however, now there is a huge range of diet friendly frozen meals, catering for every imaginable food requirement.  Low calorie, low fat, high fibre, high protein, low carb…..the list of tailored frozen meals goes on and on.

Modern advances in freezing techniques have vastly improved over the years, meaning that fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables can be snap frozen almost as soon as they are picked.

This ensures that maximum nutrients are retained.  In some cases, frozen vegetables may be more nutrient rich than fresh ones that have been transported, and then sat around on supermarket shelves.  Taste and texture of frozen foods have also improved with more efficient freezing techniques and advances in preservatives and flavours.

A huge advantage of frozen meals for dieters is that they come in a portion controlled pack.  So as long as you only eat one, you can’t pop back to the kitchens for seconds, or keep the rest in the fridge to nibble on later on.

How to choose healthy and diet friendly frozen meals?

In the past a diet of frozen meals probably meant a few slices of soggy pizza, often dripping in fat, clogged with cholesterol raising cheese and processed meats and not a vitamin in sight.  This does not need to be the case in this day and age; however it is still important to make the right choices when faced with a sea of frozen meals in your supermarket.  It is essential to choose the right type of meals if frozen meals are going to be a part of your everyday life.

Firstly you are aiming for a balanced meal. Look for meals in bowls that feature, carbohydrates such as rice, pasta or potato, a source of protein such as fish, meat, chicken, beans or a vegetarian alternative such as tofu and plenty of vegetables.

If the meal you choose has a disappointing amount of vegetables on opening, throw in a handful of frozen peas, carrots or beans whilst cooking.  This adds very little extra effort, but increases the nutrient value of the meal.

In order to further increase the nutrient value of your meal, serve it with a side salad and finish your meal with a low fat yogurt for calcium and protein and fresh fruit for added vitamins and fibre.

Fat and Calorie Targets for frozen meals

Fat and calorie content are also very important.  Whilst there are thousands of healthy diet frozen meals available, there is an equal number of unhealthy high calorie, high fat options.  These are not always obvious, using packaging tricks like small serve sizes or phrases like ‘low sugar’ or ‘high fibre’ to draw attention away from the high calorie or fat options.

Be aware that if a food that is usually high in calories and fat, such as macaroni cheese, is labelled as a low fat, low calorie product, it is either a very small portion, or it is likely to be a disappointing chemical sauce that often hasn’t seen any real cheese or milk.

Try to choose meals that look as if they are naturally low in fat and calories such as stir fries, steamed fish and rice, or tomato based pasta.  A lot less intervention is needed with these types of food to make them low fat and low calorie, so they are likely to be a more natural product.

Ideally look for meals which contain no more than 300-400 calories, of which less than 30% should come from fat, ( i.e. about 10-14 grams).  Obviously the less calories the better if you are trying to lose weight so spend some time reading the food labels, always be careful to check the serving size on the label and the weight of the meal are the same!

Saturated fat content can also be high in frozen meals so look for meals with less than four grams per serve.  This will generally mean steering clear of frozen pizza, particularly those with added fat bonuses such as stuffed cheesy crusts, pastry based products and creamy sauces (unless they are the previously mentioned artificial type reduced fat sauces).

Salt and additives

Sodium can be very high in frozen meals, as in any packaged meal as it is such an effective preservative.  High salt can be detrimental to our health, particularly for those with salt sensitivity or with high blood pressure.  Aim for less than 600 mg of salt per serve.

Other chemicals such as flavour enhancers, colors and preservatives can also be high in frozen foods.  Try to choose all natural varieties and check labels for enhancers such as MSG, monodosium glutmate on labels.  MSG may also be a common ingredient in autolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed pea protein and sodium caseinate, so look out for these ingredients too.


Choose frozen meals with 4-5g of fibre per serve.  This helps to you to stay full for longer, which is important for dieters.  Choose meals with lots of vegetables and brown rice or pasta where possible.

Which ones to choose

The healthiest frozen meal options tend to be those produced by companies targeting the weight loss and diet market specifically, such as Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine and Healthy choice.  Weight Watchers Smart Ones for example all contain less than 300 calories per serve, and less than 5g of fat, making them the ideal choice for dieters.

Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir Fry is also a good choice, with 240 calories, 4.5 g fat, 680g sodium and 4 grams of fibre, as is Trader Joe’s Chicken Tandoori with spinach which comes in at 360 calories and 5 grams of fibre.

There a literally thousands to choose from so spend some time reading labels to find the best choices, and try a few to find out which suit your tastes.  It is also worth remembering that possibly the healthiest frozen meal of all is a home-made one.

Although it takes a little more planning than buying pre-made meals, you know exactly what is going into your food.  Cook a large pan of your favourite healthy dish, such as a vegetable based pasta or bean stew or the weekend and freeze in individual portions, for a quick defrost tasty meal during the week.

What are empty calories foods with examples

Monday, February 27, 2012 16:06
Comments Off on What are empty calories foods with examples

empty calorie foods

Empty calories foods” is the term used to describe foods that provide energy (calories), but offer little or nothing in terms of nutritional value.  The most common sources of empty calories are those high in fat or sugar (or both!) and are often processed or snack foods.  Think about soft drinks, candy, chips and French fries – to name just a few.

All of these foods are high in sugar or fat, provide a large amount of calories, but provide few or no vitamins, healthy fatty acids, fibre or essentials minerals to the body.

Unfortunately, these foods are consumed in vast quantities in America and in some part are probably to blame for high levels of obesity and diet related illness such as Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease.

Empty Calorie Foods and Malnutrition

About one third of Americans are classified as obese.  What many people do not realise is that many of these people may also be malnourished.  Although most people associate malnutrition with people who are under weight and do not consume enough calories, a person who exists solely on a diet of high fat and sugar foods is also at risk of dangerous nutrient deficiencies.

A diet high in empty calorie foods can lead to lack of vitamins and minerals that can cause both minor and serious health problems.  This is often forgotten if the person is obese, as it is presumed that the person is eating sufficient food to provide these nutrients.    People who often replace healthy, nutrient rich foods with empty calorie alternatives are at a high risk of micronutrient deficiencies.

This is illustrated in the eye opening documentary “Supersize Me” , in which Morgan Spurlock develops a huge range of health problems, many of which were probably caused at least in part to nutrient deficiencies, after thirty days consuming only McDonalds food.

What are the most common empty calorie foods?

The first culprits are those foods and drinks which are high in sugar, and not a lot else.  These include not only the obvious soft drinks, ‘fruit’ drinks (often containing no actual fruit), sports drinks and candy, but also sources of calories which are easily added to your diet without realizing such as condiments.  Syrups and jams can add a huge amount of calories if used in excess and provide very little nutritional value.

The second group of empty calorie foods are those high in fats and oils.  Chips, crackers and other commercial snack foods are often high in saturated fats, providing a huge amount of calories and very little nutrition.

High fat sauces and meats such as bacon are other foods to avoid. One tablespoon of  Mayonnaise for example , will add about 100 calories and 10 grams of fat to your meal, and while some might argue that the eggs yolks used to make homemade mayo are packed full of vitamins, many commercial varieties have not been anywhere near an egg and don’t even have this to save them.

Cakes, pastries and some sweet breads also fit the empty calorie category, as do flavoured popcorns which are generally coated in saturated fats and sugar.

The third main source of empty calories are fast and processed foods.  Although not strictly devoid of all nutritional value, these foods provide such as large dose of sugar, fat and calories that the small nutritional benefit is not really worth it.  Frozen pizza or a hamburger for example will feature some vegetables providing vitamins and essential amino acids from meat proteins, but given the fat content they also provide a huge amount of calories that contribute nothing to your health.

It is also important to remember that alcohol is a source of empty calories, and one that is all too easy to over consume.  Whilst red wine has the benefits of heart healthy antioxidants, the same cannot be said for spirits and beer.

Alcohol is second only to fat in terms of calories per gram of all the macronutrients.  A night out on the town could result in the intake of a meals worth of calories from drinks alone, not to mention the quick burger grabbed on the way home, leaving a night of empty calories with little nutritional benefit.

How can we avoid empty calories?

If you are watching your weight, the last thing you want to do is eat empty calories.  If you are eating less than normal to reduce your calorie intake, it is important that every food that passes your lips is worthwhile and benefiting your body in some way.  This is not only important for dieters; whilst the occasional empty calorie food is OK, anybody who is consuming a large quantity is at risk of nutrient deficiencies, regardless of their weight.

It is important for everyone, overweight or not to base their diet on foods that benefit their body, so here are some changes you can make to your diet to get more nutritional value for your calories.

Swap chips and fried savoury snacks for nuts, seeds and dried fruit. 

Although these foods are still fairly high in calories they provide a huge amount more nutrients that are beneficial to your body.  Nuts are packed with Omega three fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, while dried fruit provides many important vitamins.  For roughly the same serving size, almonds contain a similar amount of calories as chips, but half the saturated fat, and a many more healthy nutrients.  (See also: 13 healthy snack ideas for weight loss)

Go wholegrain

By swapping breads, cakes and crackers made from refined white flour, for those made with wholegrain you are easily upping the nutritional value of your snack.  Whole grains contain essential B vitamins used for energy production in the body.  They are also slower to be digested and therefore keep you full for longer.

Make your own versions of processed foods.

If you make your own pizzas, hamburgers and even French fries, you can eliminate empty calories and boost the nutrition value by knowing exactly what goes into the food.  A healthy vegetable pizza made on a whole grain pita bread base with roasted vegetables, low fat cheese and lean chicken will contain far more nutritional value than those you buy in the freezer section of the supermarket, and is likely to contain far less calories and fat.  You can even try making French fries with vegetables such as sweet potato or pumpkin, roasted in the oven with olive oil for a nutrient packed low calorie snack.

Swap soft drinks and cordials for fruit juices.

As with nuts and dried fruit, juices, even those made directly from fruit, are high in calories, and so should not be consumed in excess.  However, juices also provide a huge amount of vitamins and for the amount of calories, are therefore a much more nutritious choice.

Look for reduced fat and sugar varieties of your favorite treats.

Generally these contain less calories than normal varieties, hence reducing empty calories (although not always increasing nutritional value).  Be aware of reduced fat foods that substitute fat for a higher sugar content, these may even contain more calories than the original!

Benefits of drinking water for weight loss

Monday, February 20, 2012 15:41
Comments Off on Benefits of drinking water for weight loss

water for weight loss

There are many ideas floating around the nutrition and health world about the role and benefits of water in weight loss.  Some are true and some are false, but before we get to any of them its important to make this first point clear.  By weight loss in this article we mean body fat loss.

This is an important distinction when talking about water because water is heavy and it can account for some higher numbers on your scale, even if you are sticking to your healthy habits and improving your body composition.

When reading about the tips below keep in mind that drinking more water may make your weight temporarily go up, just like dehydrating yourself will make the weight temporarily go down.  These changes are not very reflective of your health though, so wait for a couple of weeks before determining whether dietary changes are having the impact you desire.

Daily needs for Water and Digestion

Every day your body needs on average 3.7 litres of water if you are male and 2.7 litres if you are female.  Let’s put this into perspective: bottled water is usually a half a litre, so a woman needs to drink almost 6 of these bottles each day.  For men this is 8 bottles per day– approximately a full gallon!  If you exercise regularly you need even more.  What is your body doing with all this water?  There are many ways water is used in the body but lets focus on the ones that pertain to weight loss.

It takes your body about 1 litre of water to digest each 1000 calories you eat.  Water travels with food, particularly with protein and carbohydrates.  Water also maintains the balance of salts and electrolytes in your body.  This means that when you eat more of these water-carrying nutrients you will carry more water naturally.  How does this impact your diet?  Read on!

The impact of water in your diet


So you are out with your friends for dinner and you have a substantial meal.  How full are you?  Well you might think of your dinner as a sponge.  If you were drinking water with your meal and you feel full afterwards you have a pretty accurate impression of what you had to eat.

If you weren’t drinking water with your meal and you feel full, just you wait.  In addition to the fullness you’re experiencing you will get hit a second time once your meal absorbs many times its weight in water.  This can take some time, so eat slowly!

There are some that claim that fullness associated with drinking plenty of water is enough to stifle a food craving but the research for this is not conclusive.  Water doesn’t stick around the stomach very long, so the effect may be short-lived.   The best bet is to drink lots of water regularly, especially if you tend to drink too little, and especially with meals.


On the topic of cravings, water can help when you are in the kitchen and aren’t sure what you’re after.  Having a unidentifiable craving and being in the kitchen can be a dangerous affair that often ends with you eating a lot of everything you own while standing in front of the open fridge.

This is the time to take a gamble: assume your craving is for water, drink down a glass, and wait 10 minutes.  If you aren’t paying very close attention to your body you may misinterpret a signal to drink water (say after eating a handful of salty snacks) for a signal to snack some more.  Water is always the safest bet in these cases because there is no penalty for being wrong!


As mentioned previously, water caries electrolytes in the body.  These electrolytes are important for brain function, which is partly why dehydration causes headaches.  What you may not realize is that having enough water, just like having enough food, can drastically alter your focus and memory.

This relates to weight loss in a strange but interesting way; when you are more tired, unfocused, and inattentive you are more likely to stray from your healthy habits for the first food-like item in your path.  Keeping your brain sharp by having a large glass of water first thing in the morning can set the course for your whole day!

Drink Replacement

An often unintended but incredibly beneficial side effect of water drinking is that it often decreases the amount of other beverages consumed.  What do I mean by other beverages?  I mean everything from juice to lattes to soda or alcohol.  All of these add calories to your diet and, being liquid, don’t contribute significantly to your sense of fullness.

It can be easy to forget about all of the calories you get from drinks but it’s a safe bet that replacing one of these beverages each day with a glass of water will go far towards achieving your health goals.


Finally, these goals you have set for yourself can be difficult to remember, especially when you are hungry and being tempted.  Much like Pavlov did with his dogs, you can condition yourself to keep these thoughts in your mind throughout the day by pairing them with something you do frequently throughout your day.  Might I suggest: drinking water?  Every time you fill up your glass it will be a tangible reminder of your promise to yourself.

Tips for improving water drinking throughout the day

  • Have a full glass first thing in the morning
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day
  • Make an effort to drink water with meals
  • Replace water for other beverages you commonly drink
  • Go for water when you aren’t hungry but you get a craving
  • For women: Try to get about 2.7 liters of water a day
  • For men: Try to get about  3.7 liters of water a day

Best foods to build muscle for women

Thursday, February 16, 2012 15:43
Comments Off on Best foods to build muscle for women

woman building muscles

Gaining muscle always seems to take the back seat to losing weight for women, but muscle can actually help in the quest for weight loss.  In fact, adding some pounds of muscle will improve your body composition- an important factor in determining your overall health.  While you are lifting weights your body is strengthening its bones, lowering your heart rate, and maximizing your lung capacity.  The popular belief is that protein powder is all that’s needed to get ripped, but this is inaccurate (and unpleasant).

Energy (Calories, Iron, and B-vitamins)

The first thing to understand is that strict weight lifting does not require you to fuel up the way you would for a run.  There are some weight lifters who make it into an intense feat- moving from machine to machine and working so hard that their heart is racing and sweat is pouring by the end of just a few minutes, but this represents only a few of the many people who lift weights.

Casual (and I mean not deathly exhausting) weight lifting only requires a modest increase in daily calories because the majority of the hurt you are feeling is you pushing past the load-bearing capacity of your muscles.  So don’t use weight lifting as an excuse to have an extra helping at dinner. Weight lifting can help with weight loss, but not in quite the way people have always said.

Adding muscle does not increase your caloric requirements drastically, but it does do some great things to reduce fatigue during the day- making your goals that much more achievable.

So what do you need as a woman to power your workout?

Iron and B-vitamins are big-time nutrients for athletes.  Iron helps your blood deliver oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.  Women have a higher requirement than men for iron (18mg vs. 8mg a day respectively) and are therefore more likely to be anemic.  Iron-deficiency anemia can cut your workout short by reducing the oxygen carried from your lungs to your muscles.

This means more pain, more fatigue, and a slower recovery.  B-vitamins also do their part by helping your body break down nutrients for energy.  Eating foods high in both of these nutrients can give your body the oxygen and energy it needs to push through your workout, even when things seem their worst. Iron comes in two types: animal and plant source.

Animal source iron is far more compatible with our intestines than plant source iron is, meaning that you need far less of it. For example: spinach is a plant high in iron, but the body can use only about 5% of the iron listed on the label.

Meats are the best iron source, but if you can’t or choose not to eat meat, you may consider supplementing your iron. B-vitamins can be found in many meat, seafood, egg, and diary products as well as in whole-grains.

The absorption of many B-vitamins is negatively affected by alcohol however, so be sure not to drink for at least 48 hours prior to a workout.

Bone Health (Calcium, Phosphorous, and Vitamin D)

You may not think it, but weight lifting isn’t just a workout for your muscles, it’s a workout for you bones too!  For women, bone density and bone growth is mostly decided by the age of 25, long before anybody starts to worry about osteoporosis.

Fortunately, weight-bearing exercises like those that build muscle are a great way to trick the system and store more minerals in the bones while you can.  When you lift weights you will be putting strain on your bones as well as your muscles, and it is important to eat foods that will help to repair both.  For bone health calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are the three to look for.

Calcium and phosphorus are two minerals that aid in bone strength and vitamin D is the partner in crime that helps them get into the body.  Dairy products aside, high calcium foods include oranges, broccoli, almonds, beans, and dark leafy greens.

Phosphorus, like calcium, can be found in dairy products but is also common in beans and fish. Vitamin D, as a fat-soluble vitamin, is found mainly in fish oil from fatty fish varieties.  An easier way to get your daily vitamin D is from the sun.  Fifteen minutes a day of exposure (without sunscreen) is just enough each day to get the Vitamin D you need.

Recovery (Protein, Vitamin C, and Zinc)

To understand muscle building it is important to understand how muscle is built.  During intense exercise we tear some of our muscle tissue.  During the repair, the body adds more muscle over top, making you larger and stronger than you were before.

When you plan for your muscle-building workout you should be planning for wound healing.  There are three big nutrients that are needed for this: protein, vitamin C, and zinc. You usually need somewhere between 80 and 120 grams protein per day just to maintain your body in a resting state.  Building muscle requires even more.

Eggs have protein and many other nutrients; and don’t forget to eat the yolks.  The stigma surrounding eggs, that they raise bad cholesterol, has been mostly dis-approved.  Besides, about half of the protein in an egg is in the yolk!

Meat is also great, but choose carefully.  Go for cold cuts, lean meat, or fish.  If you enjoy beef you should start including lean cuts such as round, loin, shoulder, and chuck. Beef is high in iron and zinc as well as protein.

Just remember that a serving is 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.   Nuts, beans, and alternative grains like quinoa are also high in protein. Vitamin C and zinc are nutrients that aid in wound healing.

Vitamin C helps to re-build connective tissues while zinc is important for growth and cell replication.  Eating foods high in vitamin C and zinc can help speed up the recovery time between workouts.  Vitamin C can be found mostly in fruits (oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries) and vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussel’s sprouts). Zinc can be found in meat, seafood, and nuts- conveniently all high-protein foods!

10 awesome foods for women who want to build muscle!

So here is the run down- 10 awesome foods for women who want to build muscle!

  1. Oysters
  2. Tuna
  3. Lean Beef
  4. Beans
  5. Raisins
  6. Leafy Greens
  7. Oranges
  8. Almonds
  9. Broccoli
  10. Eggs

How To Stop Binge Eating At Night

Monday, February 13, 2012 15:30
Comments Off on How To Stop Binge Eating At Night

lose weight

So imagine this, you just spent all day following a solid diet plan and you even got in some exercise. However, now its night time, you are bored, your families probably asleep and you are most likely watching TV. You grab a “harmless” bag of potato chips and before you know it they are halfway gone. I have bad news for you, there is a good chance you just ate more calories than you saved all day dieting and burnt off exercising.  This means to an extent you just wasted an entire day and did not move any closer to your goal of weight loss.

What a horrible thing to think about right? But you’re in luck, you were only IMAGINING remember, you don’t actually do that do you? Well the fact is we all have been there before, I have done it, you have done it, and everyone you know has done it.  It is a common problem facing many people every single night, people are more stressed than ever these days and this means they are staying up later , binge eating more and  thus continuing to sabotage their own plan to lose weight.

How to stop binge eating

However, you are probably wondering how you can avoid binge eating at night and save your own diet? There are actually a few simple steps that you can follow to avoid excess eating at night time.

Step 1: Go to bed earlier, sleep is very important in our day-to-day lives and you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Step 2:  If you have to stay up late or find you cannot sleep one night, keep yourself entertained! Boredom is a primary reason people binge eat at night, they just have nothing else to do and find themselves hungry.

Step 3.: If  it is too late for you and you are up later and bored already and find yourself hungry , drink a cold  glass of water first . This may be all you need to feel full again and may even relax you enough so you can fall asleep.

Step 4:  If drinking the water does not ease your hunger at all and you still need to eat, at least make sure you choose a healthy snack.  Eat something such as raw vegetables, fruit, or 100-calorie snack packs.  Even sugarless gum works for many people as it keeps them chewing.

By following those simple steps hopefully, you will be on the road to breaking your unhealthy night time eating habit and keeping your weight loss goals on track.

Prevention is the best way to fight binge eating

However, if you find yourself still wanting to eat unhealthy at night consider taking all junk or unhealthy foods out of your household until you break your habit. Binge eating at night time is regarded by many Doctors and Fitness Experts to be as addictive as smoking , you just begin to do it every night and look forward to that last snack.

Pre packaged healthy snacks are also a great way to keep you on track. Pre package things like raw vegetables, fruits, low salted pretzels, baked chips ect in containers and place them in easy to grab locations so eating healthy is convenient for you.

Drinking water is important

Nevertheless,  I cannot stress enough  how important for you drinking water is for you in your weight loss , a common cause of extreme hunger at night is you are not consuming enough water on a daily basis.  The human body has been estimated to be made up of around 60% of water and you need to be drinking around 96 ounces a day to keep in peak health.  However, more importantly regarding this matter, water also can help suppress your appetite, if you are hungry and drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes, you might find you are not hungry any more  Your body has a tendency to make you feel hungry when all you really need is water.

In conclusion, with binge eating becoming so habitual for many people, the easiest way to stop it is either by going to bed earlier or if you can’t sleep, at least keep yourself busy. If those two tactics cannot keep your hunger at bay then follow the more direct methods I listed above for you.

I hope that with the knowledge you have gained from this article, you will find it easier to stick to your diet during the night and reach your weight loss goals faster.

How many calories you should be eating a day

Thursday, February 9, 2012 16:06
Comments Off on How many calories you should be eating a day

calories and nutrients

Have you ever noticed with jealousy that you don’t seem to be able to eat as much as some other people?  You may be one of the rare individuals blessed with the gift of eating as much as you want, but more likely you are one of the masses who have to watch what they eat to stay trim.  The first step in taking good care of your body is to know how many calories you should be eating a day.   So take out a calculator and sit yourself down, I’m going to explain it all.  Be sure to keep track of the numbers you get for each step!

Find out your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

Calculating the number of calories you need each day for normal body functioning is the first step in finding how many calories you should be eating a day if you want to lose or gain weight.

Step 1: Weight

Did you know that heavier people often have more muscle mass than the general population?  Any extra pounds make for built-in weight training, which can put tremendous strain on the bones and cause the muscles to kick into overdrive.  Those with more muscle mass, or perhaps just a larger frame, also need more calories each day.  Fortunately, this is one part of your energy equation that you can change by adding muscle or losing weight.

Take your weight (and I mean your accurate current weight) and follow the equation below:

FOR KILOGRAMS: 10 times your weight in kilos
FOR POUNDS: 4.54 times your weight in pounds

Step 2: Height

The influence of height on daily calories is a bit less of a mystery- taller people have inches of body to feed than shorter people do!  Unlike weight this is not something that you can modify.

Find out your high in inches (12 inches to a foot) or meters and use the following equation:

FOR CENTIMETERS: 6.25 times your height in centimeters
FOR INCHES: 15.88 times your height in inches

Step 3: Age

Age has a negative effect on daily calories and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Yes, you tend to be less active as you get older, but also your body doesn’t function as effectively, your cells don’t replicate as frequently, and you have a general lower need for nutrients.  This equation only works if you use your true age, not how old you tell your friends are.  If you don’t know your age, consult a calendar.

AGE: 5 times your age in years

Step 4: Gender

I hate to say that men need more calories than women- even women of the same age, height, and weight.  This step is where you can add everything up:  add your numbers from steps 1 and 2, subtract the number from step 3, and add or subtract the number below according to your gender.

MEN: Add 5
WOMEN: Subtract 161

Step 5: Activity

The number you got in the previous step is called your resting metabolic rate (RMR)This is the amount of calories you burn each day without trying.  These calories go toward maintaining your brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and muscles.  If you want to understand how your daily activities factor into this equation, you need to do some soul searching and think about just how active you are in your day.  Your ‘activity factor’ usually falls somewhere between 1.2 and 1.9 with 1.2 being somebody who is completely sedentary with no daily exercise and 1.9 being a professional or endurance athlete.  Choose where you fall with care- if you overestimate you are only cheating yourself!

SEDENTARY: Multiply RMR by 1.2
INTENSE EXERCISE: Multiply RMR by 1.75

How many calories to eat per day if you want to lose weight?

You may or may not choose to modify this number, depending on whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.  If you want to keep your weight the same but transition fat to muscle there is no need to change your daily calorie intake.

TO GAIN WEIGHT: Add 300-500 calories
TO MAINTAIN WEIGHT: Add 0 calories
TO LOSE WEIGHT:Subtract 300-500 calories

Take the number you get and try to keep your calories to about that level each day!  This method is not foolproof; using an equation to determine your total daily calories is fine for estimation, but it doesn’t account for your body’s innate metabolism.  The simplified version of this equation (called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation) is below:

MALE:             10 * weigh (in kg) + 6.25 * height (in cm) – 5 * age +  5

FEMALE:        10 * weigh (in kg) + 6.25 * height (in cm) – 5 * age –  161

For example:
For a male age 35, weight 90kg, height 1.80m doing little or no exercise the Resting Metabolic Rate is 1855 calories and the number of calories needed per day to maintain current weight is 2226 calories. Our calculator also shows the BMI which is 27.7 (according to BMI classification the person belongs in the overweight category). In other words if this person wants to lose weight he needs to reduce calories per day to a number below 2226. Let’s say that he manages to consume 2000 calories per day then he will save 6000 calories per month which is about 2 pounds (1 pound = 3500 calories).

How to estimate your daily calorie requirements

Finally, here are some tips for better estimating your daily calories:

  1. Get an accurate and current weight
  2. Be honest with yourself about your daily exercise habits
  3. Don’t try to decrease your calories more by more than 500 a day to lose weight
  4. Speak to a qualified health professional about getting a body composition analysis
  5. Speak with a qualified fitness professional about determining your resting metabolic rate (RMR) through scientific testing