Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ten Easy Ways to Cut Your Calories

Here I’ll share with you ten easy ways to cut your calories. They are very practical and easy to apply, hope you find them helpful.

1. Get the facts. Foods that seem healthy can be loaded with calories and fat, so check the nutrition facts. In terms of weight management strategies, calories rule. For example, although nuts are unbelievably healthy for you, most of its calories come from fat. A cup of nuts can be as much as 600 calories.

2. Limit sodas and alcohol. Although it is fat free, alcohol contains about 70 calories per ounce. That goes also for sweet drinks. One glass of sweet tea and one glass of soda a day contain 320 additional calories that don’t do anything for you. You can eat about 4 medium apples and you’ll get the same amount of calories. You can gain 30 pounds in a year because of those extra calories. As a rule of thumb, don’t drink your calories.

3. Switch to smaller plates. Do you have a regular-size dinner plate? What does that mean? Put your food on a smaller salad-size plate. In that way you reduce your portion sizes and save a lot of calories.

4. When you go out to eat, don’t be embarrassed to order child-size portions. We tend to eat what is front of us. If you order a big portion, that’s what you’ll eat. You won’t die if you eat a smaller one.

5. Serve in the kitchen, eat in the dinner room. If you eat in the kitchen you’ll be tempted to pick from the serving bowls in front of you. You can easily pick yourself into an entire meal.

6. Eat slowly. This is unbelievably hard for a lot of folks, including myself. Put your fork down and calm down while you chew your food.

7. Use plates. Snacking from packages is absolutely deadly. Your brain only remembers what it sees. If you decide you’re going to have a cookie, put it on a plate, sit down and enjoy it. Don’t grab the cookie out of the package.

8. Fill up with plant foods. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains take up stomach space. They take time to chew and time to eat. As a plus, they are incredibly healthy for you.

9. For every member in your family over the age of 2, switch to lower-fat dairy products. Reduced fat, low-fat or fat-free dairy products contain significantly fewer calories. That reduced fat in your milk can represent a significant change in weight over time.

10. Dull is good. I don’t mean dull as in boring, but dull as “not shiny”. When you see a salad that is shiny, it usually means that a lot of vegetable oil was added to the vegetables. You can save a lot of calories by avoiding these fats.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Weight Loss Plateau

If you lose weight on a fad diet, the probability of you keeping off that weight really isn’t very high. Between 90% and 95% of people who lose weight regain that weight later. That’s because they are looking for a quick fix. Usually when starting on a diet, you lose weight in the first week, after that you reach a weight loss plateau. Many people get discouraged at this point and abandon the diet, regaining all the lost weight. There are physiological reasons for these plateaus. If you calorie intake is too low, your body says “wait a minute, there’s not enough energy coming in”, and lowers the metabolic rate. This makes your diet increasingly less effective despite your restricted calorie intake. As you lose weight, you become more energy efficient and you require fewer calories to maintain your lower body weight.

In addition to the changes in metabolism there is a difference in fuel use. During the first few days of a diet, your body is burning its limited carbohydrate stores and some lean mass. Do you remember how many calories are there in a gram of protein and carbohydrate? Only 4 calories. So, it doesn’t take very long to burn those calories off. After you burn those carbohydrate stores, you start burning your lean mass. It takes you about three to five days to actually start burning body fat.

Why wouldn’t your body use fat first? That’s because YOUR BRAIN MUST HAVE CARBOHYDRATE. Your brain can’t use anything other than carbohydrate. Your body’s going to have to burn protein, which can be converted into carbohydrate, and it will need a time to adapt to using less carbohydrate for the central nervous system.

A weight loss plateau usually occurs about the second week. This is signaling that you are starting to burn more fat than protein. How many of us celebrate that? When the weight loss slows, it means you’re using more of your body fat as an energy source. Don’t get discouraged, celebrate. When weight loss plateaus occur, stick with it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

7 More Weight Loss Tips

  1. Eating small frequent meals on a regular schedule can help you lose weight. However, if you don’t know what “small” means this won’t work for you. A small meal should be between 200 and 300 calories. If your “small” meals are 700 calories each, you are now eating six large meals instead of six small meals. Morning intake is much more filling than late-night eating. If you’re eating at night, are you generally having a ball of cereal or a scrambled egg? Are you having a turkey sandwich? No. We usually go for sweeter snacks later at night with many calories but with few nutrients.

  2. Your grandma was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast can alter the way we use insulin. It can raise cholesterol and can lead to higher energy intake later on in the day. Maybe you say you don’t have much appetite in the morning, but at 3 o’clock you starve and you go for a cookie and coffee. You gotta eat your breakfast.

  3. Physical activity is essential to weight management and it promotes overall good health. Also, as a really nice side benefit, it can discourage overeating by reducing stress. It also produces positive feelings of well-being. This is because of the endorphins that are released during physical activity.

  4. If you’re just trying to maintain weight, 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise everyday is good. If you need to lose weight, you need to aim for 60 minutes per day. Create a program that includes some kind of cardio, like running or cycling. Also include some strength training and stretching.

  5. Cardio that you can sustain for about an hour can help to trim that body fat permanently. However, strength training is also important, as it can help to increase lean body mass. Lean body mass burns more calories at rest than body fat.

  6. You don’t need to do all your exercise at one time. You may go out and take a 30 minute walk in the morning and ride the bike at night. For strength training, concentrate on big muscle groups. Lift heavy enough weights for it to be a challenge.

  7. Be easy on yourself. You’re going to screw up a lot, I assure you. Don’t beat yourself up because of that. I’ve learned that perfectionism is not the best way to go to achieve your goals. You may end beating yourself up for small things. I think that a better way to live and to achieve great things is by following this standard: “It is okay if you’re not perfect, as long as you’re persistent”. Focus on the five days you DID GO to the gym, not on the two days you skipped. Whenever you don’t live up to your expectations, whenever you don’t act as your ideal self would, say to yourself: “It’ okay. You’re growing. What did you learn from this?” This takes practice, as anything.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

7 Quick Weight Loss Tips

Weight loss is quite easy, in theory. You’ve got to reduce the calories you’re taking in, and increase the calories you’re expending. Calories come from three sources: carbohydrate, protein and fat. Total energy expenditure is determined by your basal metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food and your physical activity. To learn how to calculate your basal metabolic rate and how many calories you need you may want to visit this link. Now, how do you go about losing weight? Here are 7 quick weight loss tips:

1. You should strive for a bodyweight that optimizes your health. Even though people talk about an “ideal bodyweight”, that may not be a practical goal for you. The first step is to stop weight gain. If you’ve been gaining weight on a regular fashion over the last couple of years, your main goal should be to stop that.

2. You also want to aim for metabolic fitness. Metabolic fitness means that the biochemical risk factors (high blood pressure, triglycerides, etc) improve. You can do that loosing 5% to 10% of your total bodyweight. Let’s say you’re trying to lose 10% of your bodyweight. You ideal bodyweight may be 120 and you weight 200. Even getting down to the range of 180 pounds is going to help you reduce your risk factors.

3. Focus on creating a lifestyle that includes eating healthy foods, getting exercise, thinking positively about your food choices and body image, and learning how to cope with stress (having time of rejuvenation). Most of the problems we have are lifestyle problems. If you develop a lifestyle for successful weight management during early adulthood, healthy behavior pattern are very likely to take hold. You also need to adopt behaviors you can maintain. What might work best for me isn’t what is going to work best for you.

4. Losing weight is simple: take in less calories than you burn. This is the MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGY. Watch your portion sizes! Most of us significantly underestimate the amount of food we take in. You should also take care of the balance of foods. Crash diets don’t work! These are diets that contain minimum calories. You may set the goal of eating 500 calories daily, but you’re not going to be able to control it when the hunger kicks in. When this happens we beat ourselves up, we think there’s something wrong with us and become depressed. This is not very intelligent.

5. Fat, with 9 calories a gram, is the easiest place to reduce calorie intake. Fat is the most concentrated source of calories. Fat calories are also more readily converted to body fat than calories from protein and carbohydrate. Fat intake should be lowered to 20% to 35% of your total calories. High fat, low fiber diets tend to make us feel not very full and encourage overeating. Foods that are labeled low-fat or fat-free can actually be high in calories. Despite lowering their fat content, manufacturers often increase the sugar to make it taste good.

6. To balance your energy sources you also need to look at the carbohydrates in your diet. Between 45% and 65% of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrates. However, some people are going to do better with a reduced carbohydrate intake, those who have insulin resistance. High-sugar foods provide calories but really few nutrients.

7. Eating an all-protein or almost-all-protein diet is not going to promote optimal wellness. Aim to balance your energy sources. Focus on creating a healthy lifestyle. Diets that are high in complex carbohydrates and moderate on protein are better paths to take. Protein helps promote a sense of fullness, but be careful, because foods high in protein can also be high in fat. Protein should be in the range of about 10% to 35% of total calories.

More tips to come! Stay tuned!
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