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, 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.