Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fiber as the Key

As everyone begins to seek out diet programs in anticipation of warmer weather, one study on the importance of fiber may peak interest.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health funded a study that asked 240 adults at risk for type 2 diabetes to change their diets for a year. Half were asked to increase their fiber intake to 30 grams per day by eating foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains - not by taking supplements. Otherwise they were able to eat what they wanted and were not asked to implement any exercise regiments. The other half were asked to follow the American Heart Association (AHA) diet which involved 13 guidelines or restrictions.

At the end of a 12 month span, the participants who adhered to the fiber increase averaged a total weight loss of 4.6 pounds while those who had been subject to the full AHA plan only averaged 1.4 pounds more at a total loss of about 6 pounds on average. Though these numbers aren't exactly awe-inspiring, when considering that this many participants were able to achieve almost the same weight loss results from following one rule instead of having to adhere to thirteen, some significance can be accredited to this study.

Adding in 30 grams of fiber from foods like fruits and vegetables also helps to fill you up with the right kind of sustenance. Munching on apples and carrots can help to curb your appetite for processed junk in addition to providing your body with valuable nutrients.

So instead of killing yourself to adhere to every diet rule you've ever heard of right out of the gate, start with an easy change like adding in 30 grams of fiber to your daily routine to begin your path towards a healthier lifestyle.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bikini Crunch-Time

As the warmer weather continues to creep up on us, many people are cracking down on their beach-body prep. Many "Shrink a size in 14 days" posts start appearing on pinterest boards along with an influx of healthy meal pins. One of the consistent elements is found in the majority of these weight loss plans and may be the secret to seeing quick results. Many plans begin with strength training workouts before incorporating more cardio to burn away those stubborn pounds.

When considering the science behind this reasoning it makes sense. Muscle burns more calories than fat. So starting to build up the muscle you have can elicit more powerful results during your cardio sessions. Making sure to incorporate both cardio and strength training into your workout can also be key. While many of us might have preferences towards one or the other, the balance of both types of workouts will help you achieve faster and more well-rounded results. Maybe even try devoting different days to different workouts. Focus primarily on cardio with a little bit of strength training 3 days out of the week, alternating with 3 days to focus primarily on strength training with an easier or shorter cardio workout (taking the 7th day to rest and stretch out).

Incorporating a healthy weight loss supplement can also greatly increase the speed of your results. Try Garcinia Cambogia (advertised many times by Dr. Oz as the new miracle weight loss pill), or White Mulberry extract for a powerful combination of natural ingredients that can help to increase your metabolism and burn away those last few pounds.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Midterm Stress Relief

It's that time in the semester when midterms stack up against you, inducing sleepless nights, mountains of work to be done, and a lost social life. But fear not, there is relief for this hell week.

Try out one of these 5 helpful tips along with a little 5-HTP to boost your serotonin production and leave your ready to take on the world (without gorging yourself in fast food 3 times a day).

1. Exercise - while this may seem like the last thing you want to incorporate into an already packed schedule, this could be the key to your survival. A little physical activity of your choice be it yoga, running, jogging, or even dancing will release those "feel good endorphins" as P90X Tony Horton calls them, leaving your rejuvenated and renergized to take on a night of studying. It's a great break for your eyes and will help your brain to refocus on the tasks at hand. Everyday Health even claims that a 20-minute jog around the block could result in improved mood for up to 12 hours.

2. Do something enjoyable - take a moment to do something you actually want to do. Whether that means taking a coffee break with a friend for some social interaction, drawing or writing to stimulate your creative outlets, or even vegging out for a 20 or 30-minute TV show, allow yourself a little reward for your dedicated work. It's important to give yourself some opportunity to be happy with what you're doing instead of wanting to pull your hair out reading 10-point font studying a subject you couldn't care less about. Just make sure to be careful you don't get carried away and lose all motivation for the work you still need to tackle.

3. Pucker up - a study on WebMD suggests that kissing your significant other can help to significantly reduce your stress levels. A quick peck and hug from someone you care about can help to reassure you that you're supported and will get through this rough spot. As Dr. Laura Berman says "Kissing relieves stress by creating a sense of connectedness, which releases endorphins, the chemicals that counteract stress and depression."

4. Laugh - laughter really can be the best medicine when you're feeling overwhelmed. According to Mayo Clinic something as simple as laughing "enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain." Taking a break to watch some hilarious videos on youtube, or even some Aziz Ansari or Kevin Hart on Netflix can help to reboot your mood and leave you feeling a bit more relaxed.

5. Power Nap - sleep deprivation is never a fun thing and unfortunately also a common bi-product of a week full of tests and papers. Not getting enough rest can leave you feeling groggy, unmotivated and even hinder your ability to retain the information you're trying to ingrain into your brain. WebMD informs us that different lengths of naps can benefit different target brain functions. The 15-20 minute power nap, or the "stage 2 nap, is good for altertness and motor learning skills like typing or playing the piano. Slow-wave napping... for 30-60 minutes is good for decision making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions. Getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually 60-90 minutes of napping, plays a key roll in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Family Outtings

With the weather beginning to warm up it's a great time to get the whole family outside! Combat the growing nature-deficiency in your kiddos' generation or let the dog escape the confines of the yard for an afternoon. Spontaneous family games can be a great way to burn a few extra calories without even thinking about it - throw a baseball around, start a pick-up soccer game with the kids, play keep-away with your dog. The idea is just to get out and get moving! Combat the pale that's accumulated during the winter and get some good ol' vitamin D from the sunshine.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weight Loss Lesson from Europe

People love to talk about the obesity problem in America, but has anyone ever stopped to consider why this isn't such an epidemic in other first world countries? What about in Italy - with a diet full of pasta, bread, and cheeses, why is their population not suffering the same widespread weight gain as Americans?

The answer may be simpler than you think.

As many study abroad students can testify, Europeans do considerably more walking than Americans. Even on the confines of smaller college campuses here in the states, students can be seen driving from their dorms to the academic buildings just to avoid a 15 minute walk. In many European cities, including Paris and Florence, walking or biking to a destination is the main mode of transportation for locals. Walking to the grocery or a restaurant, or out to the pharmacy or the bus station can easily provide a few miles of easy exercise.

Many doctors even advocate walking over jogging or running for patients looking to incorporate a little extra physical activity into their day. Walking places less stress on your joints than the two more intense exercises, resulting in fewer injuries and long-term damage. Yet a couple-mile walk still provides adequate exercise for the body. Managing to take the stairs at work or make the 15-20 minute walk to the post office, grocery, or classroom (where safe pedestrian walk-ways have been provided) could mean all the difference to your overall goals - further boosting a fitness plan that incorporates a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Taking regular walks in conjunction with eating smaller portions at mealtime and drinking lots of water have positive effects on overall weight loss. Putting your food on smaller plates can sometimes help with portion control, tricking your brain into thinking you're eating a lot more food since your plate is full. Growing up it's likely you heard the 8 x 8 rule for drinking water "Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day". The Institute of Medicine determined even more precise amounts to be consumed, as well as the differences between genders, placing adequate daily intake at 3 liters (13 cups) for men, and 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) for women. Keeping your body well-hydrated can have a positive impact on your body's weight loss by ensuring all of your body's essential functions run at their optimal levels.

Many students who studied abroad in Europe experienced this gradual weight loss to shed a total of 10 or more pounds upon their return to the U.S.. In my own personal experience while studying abroad in Florence, my inevitable daily walks on my way to class, running errands, or simply exploring the city, combined with my higher water intake and smaller portions at mealtimes, resulted in a loss of 30 pounds. My two other American roommates also reported weight loss numbers around 15 pounds.

We discovered just how all the Italian women around us stayed so skinny- the lack of fast food in our diets, a lot more water, and just a little walking.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Paelo Diet and Mental Disorders

In Dr. David Perlmutter's book, "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar," featured on U.S. News, this neurologist explores the affects of a high-carb diet on the brain.

In his book, he explains that the human body is not meant to be able to digest the high amounts of gluten found in today's processed foods. When the body encounters gluten in the bloodstream your sugar levels spike, causing inflammation and severe harm to the brain which can ultimately result in degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's or dementia.

 To avoid such horrible illnesses, Dr. Perlmutter advocates a diet very similar to the Paelo diet, one of the most popular low-carb diets today. In opposition to the rule of no dairy products or grains found in some of the most strict Paelo diets, he instead suggests small amounts of dairy and gluten-free grains as part of a weekly meal plan.

Some nutritionists oppose a diet absent of grain products, insisting that this food group is essential to a balanced diet. However, Perlmutter quoted to U.S. News:

'"The idea that people are nutritionally deprived because they don't eat grain has no scientific basis," he says, adding that the nutritional value of grain products is nothing more than a marketing ploy.'
As with many other suggestions for a healthy lifestyle, the neurologist suggests incorporating consistent exercise, a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and (if red, grass-fed) meats, plenty of sleep, and a few added supplements for a healthy brain.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Crash Diet Fad

Diets can be tough to stand by. By now a significant portion of people have already given up on their New Year's Resolutions, resigning themselves to old habits and crushed aspirations. But you still have plenty of time to put in the hard work now to reveal that bikini body or six-pack abs in time for Spring Break or summer vacations!

With the warmer weather just around the corner, some people will resort to "Emergency Beach Body" plans or more appropriately dubbed crash diet fads. These sorts of diet regiments are never fun and the least healthy paths toward a slimmer figure.

In Australia, news.com.au actually took the initiative to poll the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA) to find the worst diets in the country. Coming in at the number one spot was the Lemonade "Detox" Diet. Advocating no food at all for 10 full days, its no wonder the diet plan scored so poorly. Instead of a well balanced diet, this plan claims to be a "Master Cleanse" in which the participant drinks a concoction of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper 6 to 12 times a day to "combat hunger", supplemented by an herbal laxative tea and saltwater drink. Sounds a lot more like a plan for an eating disorder than a healthy detoxifying cleanse. If the concoction itself sounds less than appealing to drink, that's because it is. While not horrible upon the first sip, I found that by the bottom of my first glass I never wanted to drink the mixture again. Yet it's supposed to be the sole source of consumption for a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 40?! I think not.

Even the health professionals of WebMD made it clear that the Lemonade website's claims of a healthy detox was far from the truth. While you are essentially starving your body, you may lose weight but it will not be a lasting change. Not eating will also slow your metabolism - an obviously counter-productive effect to your weight loss aspirations. Because your body's lack of food intake is recognized as starvation, it automatically slows these processes and tries to store what calories it can.  This response is meant to conserve the resources it has to keep you functional for as long as possible without sustenance.

It is this same reason that breakfast is the most important meal of the day - you are literally breaking the mini fast your body has endured from dinner the previous night to breakfast time 7-10 hours later.

The much healthier alternative towards getting bikini-ready is to workout consistently and start a diet plan focusing on low-carb meals with lots of proteins and veggies. This way you can eat until you are fully satisfied without harming your body or hindering your weight loss progress. To help give your diet that extra kick, supplement it with something like the White Mulberry Leaf Extract. This awesome supplement combines the powers of white mulberry leaf extract, garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean extract, African mango extract and cinnamon for a powerful metabolism booster. With a full diet focused on the right foods, a little supplement boost and at least 3 days of exercise, you'll have your results in no time in a way that's HEALTHY and effective.