Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

What are empty calories foods with examples

Posted: 27 Feb 2012 08:06 AM PST

"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 Calories Foods

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. (See also: 100 calorie snacks)

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!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

5 Bodyweight exercises that burn fat

Posted: 23 Feb 2012 08:57 AM PST

Not everybody wants or can spend an hour in the gym everyday training. A lot of people would be happy to know a handful of exercises which they can do at home and still have the fat burning benefits.

In this article we have gathered 5 exercises which they use your own body's weight but they can still provide a fat burning and muscle building workout. I don't believe in absolute statements such as 'the very best of exercises' or 'the only exercises'. These exercises are not the only 'best' exercises you can do as there is a plethora of exercises which will deliver good results. You can use these in combination to another workout or pick the ones you like and use them with others you may have in your list. Below are some things to keep in mind regarding exercising.

Before you start exercising

1. When you are exercising your body will use calories (energy) to fuel the exercise, no matter what exercise it is. The type of fuel, whether it is fat, sugar or other will depend on the type of exercise, the intensity, the meal consumed before and when and a number of other reasons.

2. In very simple terms, the exercise must place some considerable challenge in your body and muscles in order to 'build muscle'. However, this doesn't mean that you should jump to intermediate level when you never exercised before in your life so you get maximum results. You are more likely to get loads of injuries and suffer. Build gradually.

3. The more muscles/muscle groups you use when performing an exercise the more fat you are likely to burn.

4. The more muscle mass you have the more calories and fat you will burn even when you're resting.

5. It is always recommended that you consult a medical professional and/or a fitness professional before taking on exercise especially if you have pre-existing health complaints and injuries.

You can also read: 28 weight loss tips with exercise | Best time of the day to exercise

5 Bodyweight exercises that burn fat

The exercises below are placed in an order in which they could be performed as a little circuit workout and alternate the muscle groups they target. However, even if you performed in isolation or at a different order is as good. Just be aware not to overload one group (i.e. front legs) and neglect another (i.e. back of legs or upper body). It is always best to train muscles in balance and throughout the body to avoid muscle imbalances and injuries in the long term.

! It is important to do a 5-10min warm up prior to starting exercising. A warm up session should aim to warm and mobilise the major muscles and joints.

Rope skipping

You will need a rope to perform the exercise. You can buy 'special' skipping ropes but in my opinion any rope which is suitable for your height is fine. The one I usually use to train is a children's one which I bought from a shop for a couple of dollars. It does have some bright yellow handles but 'hey' it's fit for purpose. However, the length is important, as if it is too short for your height you will be tripping yourself with it.

How? To perform the skipping, try to keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward. Keep the elbows tacked in your body and the turning of the rope should come from the wrists. If you have to rotate your elbows to turn the rope then the rope may be too small. If you are a beginner in skipping, best jump two footed as it is easier to do. You can build different variations as you become more confident, such as alternate legs or cross arms etc.

How much? Perform for 3 min at the start of your workout to get your muscles and cardiopulmonary systems going, and then for another 5 min at the end. Skipping is more of an aerobic exercise and for maximising the fat you burn it is better if you perform resistance exercises 1st and aerobic exercise at the end. The 3 and 5 min may not seem as much but trust me if you never skipped before (being a child was the last time) you will find that is not as easy. If you are more fit then by all means add min on. Go at you own paste and fitness level.

Push ups

Push up or press ups as they may also be called, target the muscles on the chest, shoulders, arms, and back. There are a number of variations in performance and when performed on the floor with straight legs then they also work leg tummy and buttocks as stabilisers.


How?  1. Lay prone on the floor with palms flat on the floor placed slightly wider under your shoulders. Keep arms extended but do not lock the elbows.

2. Extended legs and toes tacked in to the floor (raise on to your toes), keep your back straight.

3. Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks. Keep breathing don't hold your breath.

4. Inhale, bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor.

5. Exhale, extend your arms and push your body back up to starting position. Repeat movement.

Easier variations include push ups against the wall (if you are really unfit) or the keeping the legs bend (on fours). Harder variations include one arm push ups or the legs placed on a bench or Swiss ball. Aim for what suits your own fitness level.

How much? Well it is quite a hard exercise. Aim for 4 to start off, rest for 30sec and perform another 4. If that is too hard then just do 4 and try to build on it or go for one of the easier variations and build on it. If you are fit and can do a couple of sets or more push up by all means judge it and go for it.

The plank

The plank is a good all over body stability exercise.




How? It is the same with the push up starting position. In the plank you just hold yourself in that position for a few seconds. Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks. Easier variation includes assuming the plank position with placing your elbows bend under your shoulders and resting your forearms on the floor. Harder variations include placing your legs on a bench or Swiss ball and also alternating from side with one arm to centre to alternate side.

How much? Hold your position for 30 sec rest for 30 sec and repeat for another 30 sec. If you are unfit 30 sec will seem like a lifetime. As with all other exercises follow your fitness level and build on that.

Rear leg raises

Rear leg raises target the muscles at the back of the legs (hamstrings), and buttocks (gluteal). It also works the muscles of the back, chest and tummy as stabilisers.

How?  1. Get on an all fours position on the floor. Bend the elbows and under the shoulders and rest the forearms on the floor.

2. Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks.

3. Raise your right leg keeping your leg straight. Raise the leg no further than hip level. Perform movement slowly and controlled.

4. Lower your leg to the floor and raise again. Repeat movement with the left leg.

For a slightly easier variation bend your knee with your heel pointing on the ceiling. Make sure that movement comes from the hip and not the knee when you raise the leg.     

How much? Repeat 4 times with each leg.

Stick ups

The stick up exercise works the upper back, and shoulder muscles and also those muscles located in the shoulder blades (scapula). A good exercise which can offer some relief from upper back stiffness especially if cause from sitting in a desk for a long time. However, do consult a doctor if you have any previous complaints in that area and don't take it for granted that every treatment fits everybody.


How? 1. Standing up, keep the back straight, shoulders back and down.

2. Lift your arms straight above your head.

3. Slide your arms by bending the elbows and tucking the elbows on your side. Keep the forearms looking upwards. When lowering your arm squeeze the shoulder blades together so when your arms have slide down the shoulder blades have gone back into their place.

4. Extend the arms upwards in the same manner and repeat. Perform exercise slowly and controlled.

There are variations in which you perform the exercise against the wall or lying on the floor.

How many? Perform 8 stick up exercises. It is a simple but quite hard exercise. If 8 is too many, then adapt the number as with every other exercise and build on it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Benefits of drinking water for weight loss

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 07:41 AM PST

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.

Water for weight loss

Daily needs for Water and Digestion

Every day your body needs on average 3.7 liters of water if you are male and 2.7 liters if you are female.  Let's put this into perspective: bottled water is usually a half a liter, 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 liter 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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Best foods to build muscle for women

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 07:43 AM PST

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).

Build muscle for women

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 labelMeats 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 disproven.  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 rundown- 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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

How To Stop Binge Eating At Night

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 07:30 AM PST

So imagine this, you just spent all day following a solid diet plan and you even got in some exercise. However, now its nighttime, 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.

How to stop binge eating

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 nighttime.

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 nighttime 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 anymore. 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.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

How many calories you should be eating a day

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 08:06 AM PST

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 or alternatively you can use our calorie calculator below to get an instant answer on how many calories to eat if you want to lose weight.

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

How many calories to lose weight – Calculator

Age: yrs.
Weight: kg
Height: cm
Activity Level:

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
  6. Use of Free Calorie counter and fitness tracker to keep track of the calories consumed per day

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Best time of the day to exercise?

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 08:06 AM PST

Best time of the day to exercise? Well it depends on what you want to achieve. Different studies have looked at various physiological and exercise components at different times of the day. Although some elements may only appeal to athletes, the time of the day exercise takes place can have different effects.

However, we must be careful not to overestimate just one factor, time for our purpose. There are a number of other factors which will similarly influence the effects of exercise and for that matter the results we will get out of it. The type, intensity, duration, regularity, timing of meals, even geography and not to forget individual differences are some of those factors which will play a role in what results you get at the end. So as a first conclusion, as with most things, there is not one-fits-them-all answer.

Best Time of the Day to Exercise for Weight Loss

Exercise for fat Burning

Does the time of the day matter in burning fat while exercising? It may come as a surprise but yes it can affect what fuel you burn. Before you jump on the exercise horse though, remember it is not that simple.

To the point however, your body tend to burn more fat in the morning. The reason, in simple words your blood sugar levels are at their lowest in the morning after an overnight fast. Your body will mobilise the next available fuel which is fat (amongst others in smaller percentage). In addition, hormones tend to peak in the morning following what they call circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms in summary are changes in your body including physical, mental and behavioural which tend to follow an approximately 24 hour cycle. Cortisol which tends to aid in fat burning is at its highest in the morning as well.

Downfalls: Cortisol is a stress related hormone and as yes it is not the only stress hormone which is high first thing in the morning. Exercise itself is stressful for the body so in combination you could be placing quite a lot of strain and stress. In addition, having breakfast and the type of exercise will influence what fuel your body will burn during exercising.

Best time for exercise adherence

Some studies suggest that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to build a routine and adhere to exercise in the long term. They suggest that one of the reasons could be the fact that by the afternoon or evening people may feel tired and also have more time to find excuses not to exercise. If you find it hard to stick to exercise in the long term then giving it a go in the morning may help in building a routine.

However, morning exercise can be a stressful affair for your body (see above) and also it doesn't mean that it suits everybody. The best way to stick to exercise is to opt for the kind of exercise you like (i.e. gym, classes, swimming etc) and also to fit it to your own lifestyle and circumstances.

Exercise for performance

A number of studies have compared aerobic and anaerobic performance in the morning and in the afternoon/evening (usually around 18:00hrs). Their findings suggest that performance is greater in the afternoon/evening than in the morning. In general studies indicate that some performance components, such as strength, maximal power etc, are higher in the afternoon/evening than in the morning. In addition, afternoon/evening exercise can induce higher neurological and hormonal responses.

What does all that mean in simple words? Well basically that you are likely to perform better and for longer and some processes in your body to respond better. Although there is, as always, some controversy studies suggest that you may have more physical gains as well by exercising in the afternoon/evening. Basically, some argue that by performing for longer during an exercise session that would normally lead to gaining more by that exercise session. Also with exercise inducing higher hormonal responses these responses could lead to a more favourable towards anabolism outcome. In very simple words you could be getting more muscle hypertrophy.

Keep in mind: Some studies are carried out with well trained athletes and not everything applies to the average 'Joe'.  

Exercise for better sleep

US physical activity recommendations for adults and older adults. 

The current physical activity recommendations suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity).
Taken from Buman, M.P, King, A.C. (2010) 

A number of sleep organisations recognise that exercise can be an important non-pharmacological component for the treatment of poor sleep. Considering that issues with sleep affect approximately 50 to 70 million Americans annually and an estimate 10% of US population can suffer with insomnia, this can be important.

But what do studies say? Long term exercise appears to have a beneficial effect and to improve sleep. The results about the acute effects of exercise on sleep are not that clear. In simple words don't expect massive changes in your sleep by exercising just once but you will have to be exercising for longer time. In addition, intensity and duration will also play a role. Exercise session of 2hr and longer may actually keep you awake, as well as exercising less than the current US physical recommendations.

In terms of time of the day, results are not as clear. However, in general there is a notion that exercising to close to bed time could negatively affect sleep. Best time to exercise for sleep appears to be in the afternoon (4-8 hrs prior sleep). However, exercising even in the evening was better than no exercising at all, so if the evening is the only time you can spare don't drop it.

Exercise for health

The benefits of exercise in terms of health are documented over and over again. This does not always mean that all exercise is good for everybody. Exercising first thing in the morning can place a considerable amount of stress and strain on the body. In addition, you may need to follow a more thorough warm up to make sure all body components are well prepared.

Early afternoon hormones tend to dip and you may feel more tired and it could be that you may struggle through it. Afternoon/evening sessions are suggested to show better health protective results. However, research results are not entirely in agreement and there is not one fits-them-all answer.

In general advise a medical professional before taking on exercise especially if you have pre-existing health conditions and complaints. If your aim for exercising is health benefits advising an appropriate professional will put you in the right direction depending on your personal needs and circumstances.

In conclusion…..

Which is the best time to exercise will depend on what you want to achieve and which are your personal circumstances.


Bird, S.P, Tarpenning, K.M. (2004), Influence of circadian time structure on acute hormonal responses to a single bout of heavy-resistance exercise in weight-trained men. Chronobiology International. 21(1):131-46.

Buman, M.P., King, A.C. (2010), Exercise as a Treatment to Enhance Sleep. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Reilly, T., Baxter, C. (1983), Influence of time of day on reactions to cycling at a fixed high intensity. British Journal of Sport Medicine. 17;2: 128 – 130.

Scheen, A.J., Buxton, O.M., Jison, M., Van Reeth, O., Leproult, R., L’Hermite-BalĂ©riaux M., Van Cauter E., (1998) Effects of exercise on neuroendocrine secretions and glucose regulation at different times of day. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism.  274:E1040-E1049

Friday, February 3, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Success Stories: Secrets of a traveling dieter

Posted: 02 Feb 2012 08:00 AM PST

A true weight loss success story and an honest review of Atkins, South beach, Jenny Craig, Medical Weight loss and Weight Watchers.

I have struggled with my weight most of my life.  To top that off, I travel almost every week for work, and I spend more time in hotels and dining in restaurants than I do in my own home.  But I'm still losing weight.

In high school, I victoriously joined the varsity swim and dive team and lost sixty pounds while following a strict meal regimen and an incredible amount of daily physical activity, partnered with an unfaltering amount of willpower.  And as I'm sure you've guessed it, as most yo-yo dieters would empathize, that weight crept back up on me.

It's important that both men and women struggling with their weight understand the diet industry.  This is a multi-billion dollar industry – annually.  If half the items worked as promised, we wouldn't be overweight anymore.  The industry wouldn't make billions of dollars any longer because there wouldn't be a need for it.  And quite frankly, statistics of obesity rates in America would no longer be so atrocious (33% of adults, 17% of children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

I have come to learn there are no true quick fixes that are both effective long-term and sound for your body and health.  As my father has always told me, you did not put on the weight overnight, and so it will not come off overnight.  Unfortunately for most, this is an incredibly daunting and equally intimidating piece of information.   Below are some of experiences and opinions on several popular diets and various diet trends.

The Atkin's Diet

Atkins DietI would first like to point out that this diet has now been revised, but the same rules apply: low carbohydrate, high protein.  I never noticed any significant weight loss on this diet, and I followed this regularly for months as it was not an option:  my parents were doing this, as well and I was maybe fourteen.  I remember how awful the cravings for sweets and carbohydrates were the first three to five days.  These were probably the most overwhelming cravings I have ever experienced in my life: my mother would make whipped cream with Splenda and sugar-free Jell-O for dessert, and it always felt like there was never enough.

In terms of eating on this diet, it makes me sick to relive the amount of bacon and beef I ate, every day, simply because it was "allowed."  The ultimate goal of this diet was to put your body into ketosis, which is not a bad place to be, because it means your body is using fat for energy, but one of the by-products of ketosis is a molecule called acetone, that cannot be used.  It is typically the reason why people on low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets have bad breath, and if you've ever used a test kit strip to check out the amount of ketones your body is expending, this specific molecule is the reason the strip turns purple when you test your urine with it.

I can see this program working for a few weeks, at the most.  There is no plan for the long-term involved, absolutely no emphasis on physical activity, and unfortunately, with such tight restrictions on what you can and cannot eat (despite what this diet suggests, fruit and whole grain is necessary for specific vitamins and nutrients in your health), there is no longevity to sticking with this plan.

South Beach Diet

South Beach DietI read these books and fell in love with them.  I still cook meals from their cookbooks because they are healthy and delicious.  This diet was designed originally for patients with Diabetes and it works because you're eating from the Glycemic Index.  The smaller the number on the Glycemic Index, the longer a food keeps you feeling full.  It also means your blood sugar level will not spike, and the idea behind spikes and lulls in your blood sugar level is simple: when your blood sugar level spikes and then suddenly drops, you will feel hungry because your body is signaling a low sugar level.  Eating according to the Glycemic Index, you prevent such spiking, which in turn keeps you feeling satisfied.

I loved that the South Beach Diet explained medical and biological facts in easy to understand, every day language.  This plan puts an emphasis on explaining the how and why your body works the way it does.  For instance, it explains why artificial sweetener, used in excess, is just as bad, if not worse, for your body.  It also explains the difference between fat, saturated, and unsaturated fat, and why using a full-fat version of an item would overall benefit your body as opposed to a low-fat or fat-free version of the same product.  However, as with most plans, it was much more difficult to live life day-to-day while following this diet than I would hope and I gained back every pound, and then some, when I stopped.

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig dietNow, I will admit that Jenny Craig probably has some of the best tasting frozen food I've ever had.  This program costs you based on the amount of weight you need to lose and the cost of food each week, which is actually fairly expensive.  You'll also have to stock your fridge with fresh veggies and a few other staple items, which is going to add to the overall expense of losing weight.  The program is designed to teach you about well-balanced meals, as well as portion control.  And I do believe this is a valuable lesson for any overweight person: let's face it, you didn't get fat because you can handle your portions or you know what a well-balanced meal looks like.

This program fails, however, because you are doomed if you have to go out to eat for a celebration, or a work function, or just because sometimes, it's nice to dine out.  I'd also like to mention that while the portion control is nice, unless you weigh 150 lbs., a single frozen meal is not enough to make you feel full, and while most people believe in order to lose weight, and "diet," you'll have to feel hungry, that simply is not true.

I wasted a lot of money on this program, which is regrettable.  I also did not lose nearly what I had anticipated, and while Jenny Craig locations do sell exercise equipment and workout videos, my consultant never once discussed physical activity with me.

Medical Weight Loss

Medical Weight LossAnother program I regrettably spent far too much money on.  This is a diet plan with doctors and dieticians on staff to keep you motivated.  They do blood work, monitor your cholesterol, blood pressure, ketones, etc.  The up-side is getting to cook your own meals.  The downside is the cost of the program (again, you'll pay per pound you're hoping to lose) in addition to protein bars, snack foods, and various high fiber, high protein mixes designed to boost weight loss.  These items are pretty tasty, in all honesty, but you are required to eat three, every day, and most of these items are $14, for a box of seven.  So, it's a very expensive plan.

I loved several of the technicians at the location I frequented.  I did lose weight, as well, but there is a specific list of food you can eat, how often per week you can it said food, and there is not much wiggle room: if the food is not listed on your sheet, you don't get to eat it.  Period.

I tried almost any weight loss program available…

I have participated in fasts, fad diets (how many of you have heard of the cabbage soup diet?) and I have even tried my own "diet plans," as well as taking diet pills – a road I will never go down again.  The truth is simple:  people who need to lose weight need help in doing so.  As I stated before, obese men and women did not become overweight because of their knowledge of eating well-balanced meals and understanding portion control.  There is no quick fix for undoing years of what's been done to your body.  You will have to put in the time and effort, and when you're ready, it will be worth every tear, and pound, shed.  So, what works for me?

Weight Watchers

Weight WatchersI have been a part of Weight Watchers online for a long time now.  I would not be honest if I said I haven't gone astray before, but the beauty of Weight Watchers is really learning what it means to be healthy.  There is an emphasis on physical activity that is unsurpassed in the diet industry.  They reward you for being active.  There are Weight Watchers 5k's to sign up for, as well as a program called Lose for Good, which allows you to give back to the community based on the weight you lose.  They calculate points based on fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, as opposed to only focusing on one aspect of nutrition.  Weight Watchers encourages you to go out to dinner, and enjoy a piece of cake on a special occasion, or eat full-fat cheese instead of omitting it completely.  They allow you to splurge, and drink alcohol, and you don't have to feel guilty for it.  The learning comes naturally, and dare I say, it's even fun.   I have met wonderful people on the forums.  I have learned great new exercises and have discovered a desire to be active in my life, and I attribute all of this to Weight Watchers.

All in all, the most successful weight loss programs are balanced.  They put an emphasis on whole grain, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein, but also on healthy fats and exercise.  They are attainable in your everyday life because let's face it, what good is a "diet" if it doesn't fit into your everyday life?