Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

What’s the recommended calorie intake for women to lose weight?

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 11:44 AM PST

daily calories

The recommended calorie intake for women to lose weight depends on the following factors: age, weight, height and activity level. Let's see how you can calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI), Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) and the number of calories you should eat per day in order to lose weight.

Step 1: Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Depending on your BMI you belong to one of the following categories:

BMI of 18.5 or less –> Underweight
BMI of 18.5 to 24.99–>Normal Weight
BMI of 25 to 29.99 –>Overweight
BMI of 30 to 34.99 –> Obesity (Class 1)
BMI of 35 to 39.99 –> Obesity (Class 2)
BMI of 40 or greater–> Morbid Obesity

This is more of a scientific classification of your weight and does not necessary mean that if you have a normal BMI (18.5 -24.99) you do not need to lose weight. If you want to lose weight or not this depends on how you feel about your body. The BMI calculation is just an indication that is used for medical purposes. To calculate your BMI you need to apply the following equation:

BMI= (weight in pounds * 703) / (height in inches) x (height in inches)


BMI= (weight in Kg) / (height in meters) x (height in meters)

Step 2: Calculate your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR)

BMR is the amount of calories our body needs to carry out basic body functions such as breathing, digestion, blood circulation etc. It is the minimum amount of calories you spend each day. You can calculate your BMR using the following equation. Please note that the formula below applies for WOMEN only:

BMR = 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)


BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x weight kg) + (1.8496 x height cm) – (4.6756 x age)

Step 3: Calculate how many calories you need per day

Once you know your BMR you can calculate how many calories you need per day in order to maintain your current weight. This number is important because if you want to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than what you need. To calculate your daily calorie requirements you can use the following formula depending on your lifestyle:

If you are sedentary (minimum or no physical activities): BMR + (BMR x 20 %)

If you are lightly active (doing some form of light exercise, e.g. walking): BMR + (BMR x 30%)

If you are moderately active (exercise at least 3 times per week): BMR + (BMR x 40%)

If you are very active (exercise daily): BMR + (BMR x 50%)

If you are extra active (intensive work out on a daily basis): BMR + (BMR x 60%)

The table below shows the average daily calorie requirements for women based on their weight.

Weight Female
50 kg / 110 pounds 1680 Cal per day
60 kg / 132 pounds 1800 Cal per day
70 kg / 154 pounds 1920 Cal per day
80 kg / 176 pounds 2040 Cal per day
90 kg / 198 pounds 2155 Cal per day
100 kg /240 pounds 2270 Cal per day

Calorie intake for women to lose weight

Ok, so you have calculated all the above numbers but what do these numbers actually mean? Let's demonstrate this will a real example.

The basic Data: Woman aged 40, Current Weight: 70Kg, Height 1.60M, Lifestyle: Lightly active (doing office work, household activities and walking for 1 hour per week).

Calculating the BMI

BMI= (weight in Kg) / (height in meters) x (height in meters)

BMI = 70 / (1.6×1.6) = 27.34

A BMI of 27.34 tells us that this woman is in the category of overweight.

Calculating BMR

BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x weight kg) + (1.8496 x height cm) – (4.6756 x age)

BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x 70) + (1.8496 x 160) – (4.6756 x 40) = 1433 Calories

1433 is the number of calories needed by this woman's body to carry out normal functioning.

Calculating Daily Calorie Needs

For lightly active (doing some form of light exercise, e.g. walking): BMR + (BMR x 30%)

i.e. 1433 + 430 = 1863 Calories

1863 Calories are needed per day for this woman to maintain her current weight of 70Kg. For this particular woman to lose weight she should consume fewer than 1863 calories per day. If her goal is to lose 2 pounds a month then she needs to save 7000 calories per month (1 pound of fat is 3500 calories). So, to be able to save 7000 calories per month she should reduce her calorie intake by 233 calories. This means that the max amount of calories to consume per day in order to lose weight is 1863-233 = 1630. Following a balanced diet and exercising regularly can speed up this process.

Healthy recipes for Weight Loss

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 09:47 AM PST

healthy weight loss recipes

Sometimes you are looking for a healthy launch, snack or dinner but you just don’t know what or how to prepare it. We have carefully compiled a list of healthy recipes for weight loss that are delicious, can be prepared easily and above all they are calorie friendly. We will continue to update the list on a regular basis and you are welcomed to submit your own healthy recipes.

Healthy Recipes for Weight loss

Low carb meat loaf
Spicy cauliflower
Baked walnut-cinnamon apples
Mixed berries whey-protein smoothie
Green salad with Greek graviera cheese recipe

Healthy Lunch Recipes for Weight Loss

Low carb meat loaf (serves 8 )


2lb extra lean minced beef,   2 red onion finely chopped, 1 garlic clove finely chopped,  ½ red pepper finely chopped,   ½ cup fresh parsley chopped,  1 tsp cumin, 3 eggs, 2 tbsp olive oil.


Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. When mixture all blended together form a meat loaf on a baking dish. Cook the loaf in the oven at 200 degrees for 45min or until cooked through. Use a knife to check if cooked at the thickest point of the loaf.

Serve with vegetables or salad.

Spicy cauliflower (serves 1)

You can make your vegetable option more interesting and tasty. Eat as a main meal or a side salad to your main meal.


325g (12oz) steamed or lightly boiled (cooked through but with a crunch) and chopped cauliflower.

90g (3oz) chopped red peppers

1 tbsp pine nuts

75g (2 ½) finely chopped spring onions

100 g (3 ½) finely chopped tomatoes

1tbsp finely chopped mint

Sauce: 1tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp turmeric, 1tbsp lemon juice, pinch of cumin, salt & pepper to your taste.


Mix well all the ingredients given above for the sauce. Place the cauliflower, pine nuts, spring onions, tomatoes, and mint in a bowl. Add the sauce and toss/mix until all evenly combined.

You can add a pinch of chilly if you like more spice. Taste before adding.

Nutritional Information: Carbs: 9.5g, protein: 6g, fat: 24g,

Healthy Snack recipes for Weight Loss

Baked walnut-cinnamon apples (serves 4)


4 apples , 1 cup of raisins, ¼ chopped walnuts,  ¼ tsp cinnamon,  ½ tsp natural vanilla extract, ½ cup of water.


Preheat the oven at 150 degrees Core and pierce the apples using a fork in several places around the centre to prevent them from bursting. Mix the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon & vanilla in a bowl and stuff the apple with the mixture. Place in a baking dish and put any mixture left over the apples (if any left) and then poor the ½ cup of water over them. Cover with foil and bake for 30min or until tender.

You can serve with Greek style or thick natural yogurt for extra taste. 

Healthy Drink Recipes for Weight Loss

Mixed berries whey-protein smoothie (serves1)

An easy recipe for breakfast or a refreshing snack beverage. You can use fresh berries instead of frozen if you are looking for a less cold option.


50g frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries etc.), 25g whey protein powder, and water.


Place the frozen berries and the protein into a mixer/blender. Add half a glass of water and blend. Add water or ice-cubes to your preference.

You can blend with low fat natural yogurt or milk if you like smoothies thicker and with fuller taste.

Nutritional Information:Fat: 0.5g, Carbs: 10g, Protein: 18g

Healthy Salad Recipes for Weight Loss

Green salad with Greek graviera cheese recipe (serves 4)


Salad: mixed lettuce, (romain, red leaf, green leaf) 5 cherry tomatoes chopped in half, 1 red pepper, a pinch of fresh thyme, 4 x wedges of greek graviera cheese (if you can't find graviera use a salty yellow cheese of your preference. Chop and mix together in a salad bowl. Use as much lettuce as you like and as many different varieties you like.


Sauce: In a shaker add: 1tspn honey with a little bit of hot water (to mix and liquidise the honey with a spoon).

then add: 2 tbspn olive oil, 1 tsp wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp raisins,. Cover the shaker and shake all together.

Best foods to build muscle for women

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 07:43 AM PST

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

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 07:30 AM PST

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

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 08:06 AM PST

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

Best time of the day to exercise?

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 08:06 AM PST

best time to exercise

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.

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-Balériaux 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

Weight Loss Success Stories: Secrets of a traveling dieter

Posted: 02 Feb 2012 08:00 AM PST

weight loss success

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?

How to read a nutrition label correctly

Posted: 30 Jan 2012 07:17 AM PST

nutrition label

If you are seriously interested in losing weight then one of your first steps is to learn how to read a nutrition label correctly. Nutrition labels are in all foods and it is very important to be able to interpret the data from the label and based on that to make the decision on which foods to consume.

For individuals who are trying to become more health-conscious, reading a food label can be difficult.  These tips can help you learn how to read a nutrition label and change the way you eat forever.

How to read a nutrition labelServing size:  The most important thing you will take away from a nutrition label is the serving size.   For instance, look at the serving size and number of servings on a 16 oz soda or a box of cereal.  You may realize that the beverage you have been enjoying at only 120 calories actually has 2 or 3 servings in the bottle or the serving size for your cereal is much smaller than what you pour every morning.  (See also: Easy tips to cut 200 calories per day from your diet)

Calories: The percent daily values on a label are based on a 2000-calorie diet.  If you are thin, small, and inactive this may be an overestimation for you.   If you are bulky, tall, and athletic this is an underestimation.  Before looking at a label, get an estimate of how many calories you should be eating a day.  If you use an online calorie calculator, be sure it factors in your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.


For those trying to lose weight, subtract 300-500 calories.  Remember that the calories listed on the box are only for one serving of that food.  If there are five servings in a package and you eat the whole thing, that's five times the calories listed! (See also: The ultimate list of fat burning foods)

Fat, saturated fat, and trans fat:  After you have an estimate of the amount of calories you should eat a day divide it by 30.  That is the estimate of total grams of fat you should have in a day.  Only about one-fourth of those fat grams should be saturated fat.  None of it should be trans fat.  When a food is well balanced the percent daily value of each nutrient, listed down the side, should be about equal.  If a label has a much higher percent daily value for fat than it has for calories, you have yourself a high-fat food.  If the percent daily value of saturated fat is higher than total fat, beware: the fat in this food is particularly unhealthy.

Sodium:  Generally the milligrams sodium should not be more than twice the amount of calories.  Canned soups commonly have disproportionately high sodium for the calories.  Why to I compare sodium to calories?  Because if you eat a 1200 mg sodium soup that is 200 calories, you have 'used up' a large chunk of your daily sodium on a small portion of food.  Are you going to eat unsalted food for the rest of the day?  Very unlikely. People with high blood pressure should consult their doctor, but should usually aim for about 2000 mg of sodium a day.  If you don't know if you have high blood pressure, or even if you think you don't, go to get it checked.

Cholesterol: Recent evidence has shown that only about 10% of the population is affected by consuming dietary cholesterol.  These individuals should try to keep the total daily cholesterol below 200 milligrams per day.  Foods low in cholesterol have less than one tenth the cholesterol compared to calories. For example: a 200 calorie food should have less than 20 mg cholesterol, a 300 calorie food should have less than 30.  For those who do suffer from high cholesterol, eating foods enriched with plant sterols may be beneficial.  If you do not know if you have high cholesterol, go get it checked!

Carbohydrates, sugar, and fiber:  If you know about how many calories you need per day, divide that by 8.  That is the total amount of carbs you should have each day in grams.  Divide that number again by 5 and that's the amount of sugar.  Yes, it's a low, low amount!  The majority of your daily carbs should not be sugar.  Diabetic patients should consult their doctor or dietitian about carbohydrates in their diet.  Patients are generally recommended to have about 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal.  This is even a good rule of thumb for the non-diabetic population.  If you do not know if you are diabetic, guess what?  Go to get your blood sugar tested, along you're your blood pressures and cholesterol!

Finally, fiber is very important for health and has been linked to successful weight loss.  About 25 grams a day is recommended and it can be a hard goal to reach, so if your food is high in calories (in the 400-600 range) it should also be high fiber (5 g or more per serving).  (See also: 13 healthy snack ideas for weight loss)

Protein: Protein, like fiber, has been liked with feelings of fullness and reduced appetite.  Some people have decided that this link warrants a diet where you consume nothing but protein and fat and cut out carbs completely.  High protein diets can result in severe kidney damage, so I strongly discourage this weight loss strategy.  Also, carbohydrates are the pretty much only source of energy used by the brain; so if you cut them out don't expect to be thinking very clearly.

Again, if you know your ideal amount of calories per day, divide that by 20 and you will have a rough estimate of your daily protein requirements in grams.  Unless you are building or maintaining a lot of muscle, try not to exceed this number.  Contrary to popular belief, supplementing vast amount of protein in your diet is not a great way to gain muscle.  Muscle building requires muscle-specific exercises and requires less protein than you might think.  Those with kidney disease should speak with a physician or a dietitian about their protein intake.

Vitamins and Minerals:  The only vitamins and minerals required to be on a nutrition label are Vitamins A and C, Iron, and Calcium.  Deficiencies in vitamins A and C are not very common, however iron deficiency (known as anemia) and calcium deficiency (a risk factor for osteoporosis) are common.  Women in particular suffer from anemia and osteoporosis.  Unlike for protein, carbohydrates, and fat, the levels of nutrients recommended do not change by weight or height, only by gender and age.  Look for the percent daily value and aim to get 100% each day, or else take a multivitamin.  Other vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, and phosphorus may be listed on the nutrition label.  These are great to know when they are there, but are not listed reliably on all foods.

One or two trips to the supermarket along with these tips can be all it takes to become a master of food for life, something that will definitely come in handy in achieving healthy weight loss!

Summary Tips for Reading the Nutrition Label:

  • Check your serving sizes and try measuring them out
  • Multiply all other values by the amount of servings you consume
  • Learn the amount of calories per day that is right for you
  • Calculate the amount of fat and saturated fat you should eat per day
  • If you have high cholesterol, aim for less than 200 mg cholesterol per day
  • Sodium is too high if it is more than twice the amount of calories
  • Have about 45-60 grams carbs at a meal and about 15-30 grams for snacks
  • Aim for only about 10% of your daily calories from sugars.
  • Snacks should have 2 g or more fiber, meals should have 5 g or more.
  • Try to pick snacks with protein but don't drastically exceed your protein per day
  • Aim for 100% of vitamins and minerals each day
  • Check your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol regularly.  In fact, do it now.

What are liquid diets and do they work for weight loss?

Posted: 26 Jan 2012 07:34 AM PST

liquid diets

Fast weight loss, no calorie counting and no hassle. This sounds like every dieters heaven and a dream come true. This is also what most liquid diets profess to offer, but is it too good to be true?

Liquid diets defined

A liquid diet is more or less what it says on the box; a dietary pattern which consists mainly of fluids (liquids). There are a number of different ways and patterns in which liquids diets can be followed, depending on who has devised the dietary plans. Some liquid diets suggest replacing all meals with a liquid of some sort and some which replace only some of the daily meals and suggest a low calorie solid meal for the rest.

The liquid meals tend to be shakes, or soups, juices, smoothies or just a dietary liquid formula. For some commercial liquid diets you can purchase their pre-prepared shakes, soups or dietary formulas and often they may also provide some snack bars and other nutritional supplements. There are also the do it yourself liquid diets in which dieters can make their own liquid meals, juices, shakes and etc.

Some of the most common commercial liquid diets (pre-prepared or DIY) include the slimfast, Medifast, Optifast, Hollywood diet, Master Cleanse diet, Cabbage diet and the juice diet. (See also: Most popular weight loss diets)

Apart from the commercial form of liquid diets there are also 'hospital' or 'medical' liquid diets and are usually prescribed before a medical procedure, because the patient may be unable to swallow solid food, as a supplement to the existing diet or in general for a specific medical reason. Medically prescribed liquid diets vary in their constitution and could be of clear liquids (water, gelatine, broth) or of a specific formula.

The weight loss principles of liquid diets

Well the weight loss principles are pretty much simple and more or less the same for most of them. By eating the recommended liquid meals people consume a low amount of calories through the day. Therefore, they lose weight. Some of the diets do include a miracle or a super food element to them and a number of them also profess on the detox element of following a liquid diet.

Studies haven't yet provided strong scientific evidence regarding the existence of a super food so I cannot positively and with no doubt say that it is the magic powers of cabbage which will make you lose weight if you follow the cabbage diet for example. Another common claim of the liquid diets is detoxing; the body goes through a detox process by following liquid diets. Based on the detox claim diet loss is either enhanced by effect or is a pleasant secondary effect of detoxing.

However, there is not strong scientific evidence regarding the detoxing effects of diets either. As a matter of fact there is no evidence to actually support a 'detoxing' process takes place at all, apart from the one which your liver does all the time.

So what is proven? Most liquid commercial diets tend to consist of 400-800 kcal dietary plans. These diets tend to belong in the category of very low calorie diets (VLCD) which create a calorie deficit and in principle lead to weight loss.

Do they work?

It is quite relevant how well these diets work and whether people do lose weight on them. Liquid diets are not recommended to be followed for long period of time and some are only safely recommended for 7-10 days. A week to 10 days does not usually produce any measurable significant fat loss and most of the weight lost is water and sugar. The result is to put the weight back on quite quickly post dieting. (See also: Do quick weight loss diets work?)

If you follow a VLCD for prolonged time you will lose weight but so you will with starvation which in some cases may be cheaper. However, starvation is not recommended as a safe, healthy or wise way for weight loss and I would most definitely not recommend it.

Studies which have tested some of the commercial liquid diets have produced controversial results. In simple words there is not much agreement whether they work in promoting weight loss and whether the weight is maintained post diet. For some cases of morbidly obese people a VLCD may be recommended as the best solution. However, such cases the risks of following a VLCD outweigh the risks of obesity. Moreover, they should always be followed under the guidance of a medical professional as they can have detrimental effects to health.

Issues involved

As with most controversial diets there are a number of issues related to liquid diets. Here are some of them.

Potential of misuse: As already mentioned liquid diets are usually recommended to be followed for a limited amount of time. However, guidelines and recommendations can often be ignored and people can follow them for longer periods. Well recommendations are there for a safety reason and when ignored the results do come with a potential risk and a number of health problems.

Inadequate nutrient intake: Formulas sold as part of a liquid dietary pattern have improved a lot since they first come out. However, still there is a debate about the limited amount of nutrients they may contain. The lack of nutrients may be more prominent in DIY versions which tend to be based on just one food or one group of foods or if a diet is followed for prolonged periods.

Inadequate fibre intake: Fibre can be an important element for digestive processes, health and weight loss. Quality is as important as quantity, and a number of liquid diets may not provide either of them.

Constipation / Gastrointestinal complaints/complications / Nausea: Constipation can be a side effect due to inadequate fibre intake. But also your digestive processes may be suffering a little bit, thus gastrointestinal complaints can be common. 

Hair loss: Think nutrient deficiency. Our body needs all nutrients including fat and there is a reason for it.

Dizziness: Very low calorie intake can be one of the reasons why people may experience dizziness. You may think you have enough energy stored for the whole neighbourhood however your body doesn't like sadden changes and it does take time to adjust. Losing a lot of weight too fast is something else which may lead to health complaints.

Regaining the weight past dieting: If the weight lost is mainly water and sugar then you are most likely to put it straight back on. On the other hand is a common diet issues. If you follow a diet for 'x' amount of time and you lose 'y' amount of weight and you go back to what you where eating before the diet you are likely to be back t where you started.

Moreover, if you follow a VLCD for a period of time your body will try to adjust to that diet. The minute to stop liquid dieting and go back to solid food and higher calories here will come the weight.   

Metabolism slowing down: Look above. You go to a VLCD your metabolism will slow down on a bid to survive. These mechanisms are there for a reason; if you were in nature and there was no food you would need to survive as long as possible. So you could be potentially struggling to lose the weight. In some cases a VLCD may be the only option to kick start a weight loss and research may have shown favourable results for morbidly obese cases. However, this is usually done under the guidance of a medical professional and when the risks of obesity outweigh the risks of dieting, or when some metabolic processes have 'lost their way' to put it in very simply words.

No behavioural modification: Following a box standard liquid doesn't quite teach people how to eat or makes a lot of changes in the eating behaviour. The extra weight got there in some way and part of it is because of specific eating behaviours. Changing these behaviours is what will help to deal with the future and maintaining the weight loss.

The verdict

Indeed a lot of liquid diets may have improved a lot in recent years. However, some are still in the category of 'fad' dieting which most of the time is not recommended. For some people it may be that little help to push them into weight loss or may kick start the processes, but for most it may not be a recommended solution. Not all liquid diets are the same and therefore quality of the diets is different between them. Make sure you consult a medical professional, and search for real scientific evidence.

Overall, apart from some specific cases you may be better off sticking to the old fashion healthy balanced diet.

20 ways to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes or less

Posted: 22 Jan 2012 09:16 AM PST


Do you know that by burning just 100 calories (extra) per day you can lose about one pound per month without extra effort? It sounds good and really is if you manage to spend just 10 minutes per day. This will not be your 'official' exercise routine but the ace in your sleeve to get faster results.

Everybody can find 10 minutes per day to work out and there are hundreds of exercises to choose from. You can even do them at home or at a time it suits you better. Most people prefer to exercise in the morning before going to work and this is the best time to exercise. Morning exercises are more efficient in burning fat since your body has to convert fat (from the reserves) to energy in order to deal with the extra requirements and in addition will help wake up your body, digestive system and mind.

Below we outline 20 suggestions to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes or less.

5 exercises that burn more than 100 calories every 10 minutes*

Aerobics, Step: high impact 128
Bicycling, Stationary: vigorous 134
Circuit Training: general 102
Rowing, Stationary: vigorous 109
Ski Machine: general 122


15 Sports and activities to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes*

Basketball 102
Bicycling: 12-13.9 mph 102
Boxing 115
Football 115
Handball 154
Martial Arts 128
Racquetball 128
Rope Jumping 128
Running: 6 mph (10 min/mile) 128
Skiing: cross-country 102
Snow Shoeing 102
Beach Volleyball 102
Water Polo 128
Climbing stairs 100
Weight training (super circuit) 137


Calories and weight loss

We mentioned above that doing a 10 minute session per day can help you lose 1 pound per month. For those interested in the theory and reasoning behind this statement, this is the logic:

One pound of fat is approx. 3500 calories. In simple terms if you manage to burn 3500 more than you consume you will weigh one pound less. So, if you do a 10 minute session per day (using one of the exercises and activities specified above) you can generate a deficit of 30×100=3000 calories per month which is about one pound. Of course there are other factors involved like loss of water weight so we suggest also reading about the difference between weight loss and fat loss.

5 Tips to make the most of your 10 minute sessions

Plan in advance: 10 minutes is not a lot of time and with a bit of effort everyone can find 10 minutes to exercise. What is important is to plan your session in advance and preferably from the day before.

Be Flexible: You do not have to perform your 10 minute session at the same time every day. Sometimes it will be more suitable to exercise in the morning but other times you may do it after work or even late at night. What is important is to exercise daily and avoid skipping a session.

Improvise: Your goal is to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes and there are more than one ways to do this. You can choose to do the same activity every day or a number of activities during a single workout. For example you can run for 5 minutes and do stationary cycling for another 5 minutes. The combinations are endless all you need is imagination and willingness.

This is a bonus: Do not forget that this is not your formal workout routine but a bonus to help you get quicker results. You should not rely on this 10 minute workout alone but you should still follow a more formal routine for at least 2-3 per week and a balanced diet.

Why not make it 15 minutes? This is not actually a tip for your 10 minute session but once you get into the habit of doing 10 minute sessions why not increase that to 15 minutes per day and get 50% more results. If you follow this approach by making one small step at a time you will soon realize that you can actually do many things and get the motivation you need to meet your weight loss goals.

* Kcal estimation is based on 10 minute sessions for people weighting 160lbs.

The Difference between Weight Loss and Fat Loss and Why You Should Care

Posted: 16 Jan 2012 09:27 AM PST

weight loss vs fat loss

What is really the difference between weight loss, fat loss and muscle loss and should you really care? Does the scale lie or is there a relationship between weight and fat loss?

The answer is straightforward and this is what we are discussing below.

Weight loss – Water Weight – Fat loss – Muscle loss

The percentage of total overweight and even obese people is rising at alarming levels (Around 33% of Adults are Obese and 17% of Children). People are looking for more ways then ever to lose weight and that is fine, but what is not fine is some of the methods people are using to achieve weight loss and how it truly affects their body.

If the average person loses 12 pounds for example, they will automatically assume it was ALL fat loss and this can be a very costly assumption.  When you lose weight or gain weight for that matter, you are changing your bodies’ composition of Water, Fat, and or Muscle. Now I listed them in that order for a reason, water weight is the quickest to change and we will discuss that first.

Water Weight

Water weight commonly refers to the amount of weight in water your body is carrying at that given time and is a constantly changing, considering the human body is estimated to be made up of around 60% of water. Water weight can be affected by many variables in your day-to-day life and can cause your weight loss to be misleading.  If most the weight you lose is from water weight, you will most likely gain it back very quickly and that can be a main reason people are turned off by dieting. Most diets these days actually capitalize on this misunderstanding and promise quick weight loss when all they are doing is manipulating your water weight through sodium and water intake itself.

If you do not drink enough water throughout the day, your body will go into a "survival mode" in which it holds on to every ounce of water it can.  The other major factor in water weight changes is salt or sodium intake, if you consume less sodium you will hold less water weight and if you consume more sodium your body will retain more water weight, sodium directly affects your body's tendency to store water.

So hopefully by being  more informed on that variable in your weight loss, you can now watch your weight  loss more closely from that aspect  and understand whether the weight you are losing is mostly coming from water weight, which means the weight is likely to come back quickly and is not true fat loss.

Fat Loss

Luckily, the next easiest form of weight loss can be done by losing fat, which is what people actually want to lose. Fat is built up over time and stored around your body, in what experts have coined fat stores.  However, it is also important to note where you actually store your fat is largely dependent on your genetics and this is not the same in every individual.  To target these fat stores and get rid of excess fat you will need to force your body to burn the stored fat as energy. That is what they are there for after all, your body stores fat for later energy use.  However, if you never take any measures to get rid of this excess fat it will just keep building and building.

To lose fat efficiently you need to be in a calorie deficit for the day, meaning you need to have burnt more calories that day then you consumed, if you did not consume enough calories that day your body will be forced to find other ways to create the energy, such as using its fat stores. However, there is more to consider when trying to achieve fat loss through calorie deficits and exercise and that brings us to the final variable.

Muscle Loss

Muscle loss is the hardest thing to achieve and that is a good thing, you never under any circumstance should lose muscle no matter how bad you want to lose weight. Muscle loss is the hardest to do because to lose muscle you need to either be in too big of a calorie deficit (Approaching Starvation) or doing too intense of cardio where your body burns muscle instead of fat.  If you cut calories too much and are barely getting enough to even function, like some extreme diets recommend is very dangerous to your short and long-term health. Most experts have agreed that by following a very low calorie diet you may lose 1 pound of muscle per 1 pound of fat so a 50/50 ratio, which is unacceptable.

The other way I mentioned you might lose muscle is through too intense of cardio sessions. Cardio should be done in a pretty comfortable pace if done for long periods of time and if you do  need to  do intense cardio, be sure to  do it in short intervals , long bouts of intense cardio is very  likely to use muscle as energy and is a big risk to your general health.

How to ensure you are losing fat…

So, in summary the easiest way to make sure you are losing weight in the desired way of fat loss is to monitor how fast you are actually losing the weight.  If you are losing the weight at too fast you are most likely losing water weight or even worse muscle.  A good goal for fat loss is to lose 2-5 pounds a week depending on how overweight you are, but remember 5 pounds for most individuals is the top of the line.

More than 5 pounds per week would be a strong indication that not all of the weight loss is resulting from fat loss and you need to reconsider the methods you are using.  I included a helpful list of weight loss tips below that hit the key points in being sure your weight loss is mostly fat loss and truly beneficial for you in the long run.

1.  Be sure you are meeting your recommended daily servings of water, which is 96 ounces plus an extra 8 ounces for every 25 pounds you are above your goal weight.

(Recommended by theNationalAcademyof Sports Medicine)

2.  Avoid very low calorie diets. Calculate your BMR to find out how many calories you should consume per day just for normal function and never go beyond this number.

3.  Be sure your cardio sessions are not too intense to avoid your body using muscle as energy instead of fat.

4.  Monitor the rate that you are losing your weight at weekly intervals, if you are losing more than 5 pounds a week it is most likely that not all is coming from fat loss and is dangerous to your health.

10 most popular weight loss articles of 2011

Posted: 31 Dec 2011 08:38 AM PST

time to exercise

During 2011 thousands of people visited our web site, read our articles, commented on our posts and interacted with our free online tools. To wrap up a successful year for Weight Loss Help and Tips we have selected the 10 most popular posts of 2011. These are the posts that received the most comments and social media mentions (Facebook likes, Google+ and tweets). Go through our list and select your favorite posts and do not forge to share them with your social media friends! You can also register to our RSS Feed (on the sidebar) to receive our new articles directly in your inbox.

Weight Loss TipsWeight Loss Tips
The most visited page of our web site was the home page. More than 1000,000 people landed on our home page in 2011 and selected one of our articles. Our huge collection includes more than 500+ weight loss tips.

Fast weight lossFast weight loss
20+6 tips that matter the most when it comes to fast weight loss. This post explains the most important factors that affect weight loss and what you can do to ensure that you will lose weight and keep it off.

20 Healthy weight loss tips
We always encourage and promote healthy weight loss methods. This post outlines 20 healthy weight loss tips you can easily fit in your lifestyle and get results without making too much effort.

Diet and Exercise PlannerFREE Diet and Exercise Planner
During 2011 we also introduced our free diet and exercise planner. Our on-line tools include a food calorie counter and fitness calorie counter as well as a diet calendar and weight tracker.

Weight loss tips for womenWeight loss for women
The majority of our readers are women and this post is especially for them. 12 Weight loss tips for women of any age and body type. If you are not the woman that can spend endless hours in the gym then this post is for you.

Weight loss tips for teenange girlsWeight loss tips for Teenage girls
More than 60 teenage girls commented on this post asking for weight loss advice and more than 50 got a personalized answer (by email) from our experts. We try our best to reply to all emails and help even more teens get into the right path of following a good diet and exercise program suitable for their age.

Weight loss motivationWeight loss motivation
You cannot lose weight if you are not motivated enough. Motivation is perhaps the most important success factor. If you are motivated and know what to do you cannot fail. Set your weight loss goals today!

Best Tips for Fast weight loss7 Best tips for fast weight loss
The 7 most effective tips for quick results. If you need results fast you must ensure that you follow these 7 tips. Start now and post your favorite weight loss tip in the comment and see  what works for other people.

Best Weight loss programs for womenBest weight loss programs
There are hundreds or even thousands of weight loss programs on the Internet today but which ones are the best? Which programs can you trust that they can generate results in a healthy way.

Weight loss exerciseExercise for weight loss
Last but not least, exercise for weight loss. Regular exercise promotes good health, well-being and weight loss. If you are serious about losing weight then exercise is a must.

7 tips for setting your new year’s weight loss resolutions

Posted: 27 Dec 2011 09:07 AM PST

weight loss goals

One more year is coming to a close, the pads come out and the resolutions begin. January is actually the busiest time in the fitness and gym industry. February and March are probably the quietest with most people having given up on the weight loss and fitness effort…well until the bikini time comes around again. Setting New Year's weight loss resolutions is no different than setting other goals. Your goals need to S.M.A.R.T, in other words: Simple-Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timely, but most importantly you need to have the desire and willpower to work hard towards your targets. In this article we share 7 tips for setting your New Year's resolutions in such a way so they are achievable and realistic.

Weight Loss Tips for 2012

1. Set life goals

Instead of making a resolution list of the things you want to do make a list of the things you want to have and/or achieve in your life. For example a resolution list of the things you want to do could look like this:

Resolution List 2012

1. Lose weight

2. Join the gym

3. Change my job

Instead think 'what do I want to have in my life'? For example:

Life Resolution List 2012

1. Look good and feel healthier

2. Be happier in my job

3. Be less stressed

Then think how you can achieve each one of them. Weight loss and exercise can then be a process of achieving to look good and feel healthier but is not the end to all means. In addition, there are other ways to achieve your goal such as eat healthier, or cut down on takeaways and sweets.

If you just concentrate on losing weight you will join the gym and get the next diet regime in the hype of the times. Then you will soon lose sight of why you are torturing and depriving yourself from food. No surprise most gym memberships are sold in January to never be used again by February with maybe small exceptions when preparing for the bikini season.

2. Compare your list with last years

What did your resolution list look like last year? Do you automatically list the obvious things which are expected to be in your list? For example I used to be a smoker and for about 10 years in the top of my list was I will cut smoking. Smoking was bad for me and I knew I had to give up so every year I expected myself to try and stop smoking and then feel depressed as I had failed myself.

In addition think why you didn't follow your last year's resolutions. Did something affect you? Did something change? Finding the reasons why you didn't do what you wanted last year it may be a way to help you avoid the same mistakes or help you plan for this year.

3. Be realistic

Christmas and New Year can be emotionally charged times. The end of an era and the beginning of a new one it can make us make decisions based on emotions and not reality.  Don't forget to also ask yourself if you are realistic in what you want. My resolution could well be finding a gold bucket at the end of a rainbow but no matter what I do it may not quite reach fruition.

4. Get off the diet wagon.

Another problem with concentrating with dieting is that you are likely to grab the next diet regime, book etc that looks good. Does it work? You may lose some weight in a few weeks but you will have to stop dieting at some point and then what? Have a break until the next diet or is it that you never stopped.

The weight loss industry is a very lucrative business and it does bank on the fact that you are looking for quick solution. I will go back to my first point which says make life goals and not a dieting commitment. Therefore, weight loss would be part of the life changes you want. Undoubtedly not everybody can do it by themselves, however try to pick that weight loss solution which will help you to learn about healthy eating, give you tips for your everyday life and support in what you are trying to achieve.      

5. Get support

Studies have actually shown that people who have support tend to lose more weight and adhere to diet regimes. Support which comes from your immediate family environment is always the best. However, if for any reason you can't make that work support could come from friends, weight loss buddies, and even weight loss clubs and online weight loss services.

There are plenty of choices out there so you can find the one that works for you.

6. Move everyday

Physical activity and exercise is a bonus for your health and weight management. Make a pledge to move every day. You don't have to necessarily pay big monthly subscriptions to a gym. Make a pledge to move a little bit every day.

Go for a walk, or run in the park, go shopping and walk around the shops, have a spring clean, play a game with the kids, have a swim and so on. All you need is commitment and imagination.

7. Start living

Once you set your life goals and resolutions all you have to do is start living. This is my new year's mojo. Stop dieting and start living. I am sure I'm not the only one who says that but I am loving it.

Single best exercise for weight loss for Women

Posted: 15 Dec 2011 08:49 AM PST

exercise for women

This is a question we get very often especially from women: "What's the best exercise for weight loss?" What can I do so that I get results fast and without the risk of putting the weight back? Is there a single exercise I can do at home and make me slim and fit? There are two answers to these questions and this is what we are going to explain below.


First let me say that this is not a new question for us. If you read most of the comments you will see that women are constantly looking for the best way to get fit. It is no coincidence that one year ago we published the post "Best Weight loss exercise for great results" which talks about the most efficient weight loss exercises. Basically the post gives more insight about the number of calories you can burn through stationary bike, elliptical trainer, step aerobics and running. These are certainly among the best weight loss exercises but this is not the complete answer for today's question.  The complete answer has other parameters which are equally important to the calories burned by each exercise.

The best exercise for weight loss is the one you can do

What do we mean by this? The best exercise for weight loss for you is the one you enjoy doing. It doesn't matter how many calories you will burn what it matters most is that you do it regularly and for a long time.  For example, you can burn approx. 600 calories per hour by doing step aerobics. This is great if you like doing aerobics, if you have the time to do aerobics and if you are physically fit to perform this type of exercise. Maybe step aerobics is the best exercise for weight loss but when it comes to you, this is not your best exercise. You may enjoy walking or running or any other form of cardio exercises and this is what is right for you. The 2 main reasons that most people fail to lose weight with exercise are:  boredom and injury. In other words they either get bored to do their workouts or they get injured because they attempted to perform a workout that does not fit into their body style and physical condition. How do you solve this problem?

Make a list of the exercises you like to do

So, as a first step make a list of the exercises you would like to do and find out how many calories you can burn for a 30 minute workout.

Then once you have your list, identify which of the exercises you enjoy doing and select the one(s) that is more efficient in terms of calorie burning. For example, let us suppose that this is your list:

Exercise Calories burn (30 minutes session)
Aerobics, high impact 250
Aerobics, low impact 180
Aerobics, water 200
Basketball game 270
Bicycling, < 10 mph, 150
Canoeing 130
Dancing, ballroom 110
Weight training 190
Rope jumping 430
Running, 5 mph 300
Stair treadmill 330
Swimming, laps 210
Walking, 2 mph 100


From the list above the best exercise is rope jumping with 430 calories per 30 minutes. Maybe you don't like to do rope jumping but you enjoy dancing, water aerobics, swimming and running. If you only have 30 minutes per day to work out then running is your best exercise for weight loss since it is an exercise you enjoy doing, it is an exercise you can do constantly and it is the most efficient exercise in terms of calorie burning from the other exercises you would like to do.

What if I do exercises I like but get bored again?

It is normal that doing the same exercises over and over again will sometimes make you bored. The solution of this is to do cross training. By doing cross training you basically do different exercises instead of doing just one. This has a number of benefits: first you will not get bored, second you get better results (more calorie burning), third you exercise more muscles and fourth you avoid the risk of injury by moving the pressure to different joints.

You already have the list with your favorite exercises so why not choose 2-3 exercises and do them in terms. For example you can do swimming on Monday, running on Wednesday and finish your week on Friday with aerobics. In between you can do walking for 30 minutes (10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon and 10 minutes at night). If you take this approach you will never get bored and you will get better and faster weight loss. You can also apply cross-training within your exercise sessions. For example do 10 minutes walking, 10 minutes running and 10 minutes aerobics instead of doing a single 30 minute session. Choose whatever suits you better and do it consistently for a number of weeks.

Learning how to exercise correctly is very important

It is not enough to exercise but you need to learn how to exercise correctly. For each exercise there is a good and a 'bad' way to do it. Doing it the wrong way will not give you the expected results and also you run the risk of getting injured. It is best to consult a professional trainer before starting any exercise or at least make sure that you have the right equipment (e.g. good running shoes, exercise mats etc) before starting your workout. We have outlined 10 fitness tips for women in a previous post that gives you guidelines on how to structure your workout.

Exercise is only part of the weight loss equation

Everybody knows that the best way to lose weight is by following a balanced diet and doing regular exercise. Exercise is a key part of the whole process that can help you lose weight faster but most importantly keep the weight off and never gain it back. Besides that, there many other tips you can follow for more solid results. You need to take care of your diet and lifestyle habits. We have gathered in a previous post 28 weight loss tips with exercise for getting the best results from your exercise sessions.

 The best exercise for weight loss for women is…

To sum up the best exercise for weight loss for women is the set of exercises you like doing consistently and for a long time without getting bored and can generate the best calorie burning results according to your lifestyle, body structure and physical condition. Finally, always remember that doing any exercise (even walking on a daily basis) is better than not doing any exercises at all.

The 5 most important weight loss tips for 20 year olds

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 09:31 AM PST

weight loss for teens

The basic principles of weight loss apply to all ages but there are specific weight loss tips for 20 year old that take into account the energy and enthusiasm of young people. To start with, people in their twenties have more than one reason to take care of their weight and appearance. Ages 20 – 30 is the period to make friends and connections and the last thing you want is to worry about your weight. So, the 5 most important tips that will help you lose weight and make you look better but most importantly feel better are:


Tip #1: Learn the very basic rules of weight loss

You probably do not have the patience to read a lot of theories about weight loss but it is important that you know at least the basic rules:

  1. You will lose weight if you manage to eat less calories and burn more. The only way to eat less is by being selective on what you eat and drink and the only way to burn calories is through exercise and activity (e.g sports).
  2. One pound of fat is 3500 calories. This means that for every 3500 calories you save (by eating less and exercising more) you will lose one pound. If the opposite happens (i.e. you eat more than you burn) you will gain one pound.
  3. If you don't want to go on a diet then use a food calorie counter to count the calories you take in and try to burn more calories through physical activities.

You can also read why lose weight and how to do it correctly for more detail information as  well as easy tips to cut 200 calories per day from your diet

Tip #2: Drinks do have calories

Statistically people in their twenties tend to drink a couple (or more) drinks especially those containing alcohol. What you should understand is that drinks do have calories and if not taken into consideration can literally destroy all your efforts to lose weight. It is common to take care of what you eat but neglect the calories contained in drinks and then wonder why you are still putting on weight. You should take note that:

1 can of soft drink (cola diet – non diet) contains 140 calories. If you multiply that by 30 its 4200 calories or 1 + ½ pounds just by drinking one soft drink per day.

1 can of pre-packaged orange juice may contain up-to 600 calories

A regular vodka and tonic has 130 calories

Medium glass of wine has 130 calories

One pint of beer has about 240 calories

One shot of Whiskey about 55 calories

Calories from drinks are considered "empty" calories since they have nothing to offer (no nutritional value)

Tip #3: If you don't want to join a gym then move!

Going to a gym on a regular basis will help you stay fit and within your normal weight. Unfortunately not all people like or want to spend time in the gym but this does not mean that they cannot lose weight. Use your energy wisely and engage into activities that you like and at the same time burn calories. Sports are perfect examples where you have fun, socialize and lose weight at the same time. For instance:

With Cycling you can burn 300-400 calories every 30 minutes

Playing 30 minutes racquetball is equivalent to 300 calories

30 minutes of basketball is 290 calories

30 minutes of tennis is 300 calories

Hint: You can use our free diet and exercise planner to analyze the calories you burn from each sport or activity

You can also read 28 exercise tips for weight loss and Best weight loss exercise for more detail information.

Tip #4: Do you drink enough water per day?

I cannot stress enough the importance of water for a good health and weight loss. Water helps your body organs function better, enables easier digestion, replaces lost body fluids and can delay (and minimize hunger). The best way to start drinking water is by first taking note on how many classes of water per day you normally drink. Do not be surprised if the results are 1, 2 or 0! Many people tend to drink other beverages instead of water but NONE of them can replace water functions. So, find out your daily average and try to increase that to 6-7 classes per day. The more you can drink the better is for your health.

Tip #5: Breakfast, protein and carbohydrates

A protein rich breakfast is important for many reasons. It will give you enough energy for your daily activities and keep your stomach busy until lunch time. It is a fact that many people do not eat breakfast, especially when they wake up late in the morning but it is important to make an effort and change this habit. You can read the importance of a good breakfast for more detail information.

Also you should have clear in your mind about the role of protein and carbohydrates in losing weight. Both nutrients are necessary for a healthy and balanced diet. Protein promotes weight loss by keeping you full for longer, helping you build more muscles (and burn fat) and by making your bones stronger. Carbs are as equally important since they are used as a 'fuel' from the body. They are especially important for those who exercise regularly and when taken in moderation can do more good to your health than any harm. Read more about carbohydrates and weight loss.

You may also like to read:

Weight Loss for Teens and Weight Loss Tips for Teenage Girls

How do Americans lose weight?

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 06:10 AM PST

weight loss for americans

A very interesting study by Gallup reveals how Americans lose weight. The study, among other things, shows that the real way to lose weight is not through weird weight loss programs but by adopting the basic principles of losing weight (eating less and exercising more) in your everyday life. These are the concepts we are trying to promote in our web site and products and we are more than happy to see that the majority of the people who want to lose weight follow this path and not any other shortcut. The 10 main findings of the study are the following:

  1. 52% of Americans have succeeded (at least once) to lose weight in their life. This also means that 48% failed but hopefully the results of this study will motivate them to give it another shot and succeed.
  2. The most effective way to lose weight according to the responses is by working out and exercising (31%) and by eating less (23%).
  3. 12 % of those who choose to go on a diet used a calorie counter to achieve results while 10% gave more preference to natural foods.
  4. Among the commercial diets, Weight Watchers is the most popular (4%) while the majority (32%) used a DIY diet i.e. eating less sugars and sweets, taking care of portion size and giving more value to fruits and vegetables.
  5. Diet pills and other weight loss supplements account only for 4% of the answers while surgery is only used by 1%.
  6. Men tend to exercise more compared to women and people over 55 tend to prefer dietary changes rather than exercise.
  7. The best method to lose weight is to combine both diet and exercise. 47% stated that this combination can generate the best results.
  8. It is believed that 66% of all Americans believe that they are overweight but only 1/3 are actively trying to lose weight. These numbers show the magnitude of the problem and backup the statement that obesity is one of the most popular diseases of the modern American Society. These numbers are consistent the last 5 years which makes the problem even more serious.
  9. The percentage of women who are trying to lose weight (or tried even once) is bigger than men. This shows that women take weight loss more seriously than men, something we have identified many times in the past.
  10. Women have more willingness to lose weight and 37% have tried between 3-10 times while men give up after one or two unsuccessful attempts.

Obesity is indeed a huge problem for Americans and despite the directions given by the different Government departments and non-profits organizations the problem becomes even bigger. The percentage of people who never tried to lose weight (48%) is big and this is very worrying. Lifestyle is to blame but it is also the responsibility of each and every one of us to take action for our own benefits and health. Weight loss is the result of eating less and exercising more, you do not need to engage into complicated, restrictive and dangerous programs. We have many weight loss tips that are very easy to implement and help you get started. Do not delay it any longer but take action today. You can continue by reading our 300 weight loss tips

How do Americans lose weight

7 weight loss tips for Christmas

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 06:42 AM PST

weight loss tips for 2012

Christmas is approaching and along with the big present's shopping comes the big eat. Christmas is almost synonymous with putting on weight. After all there are so many festive parties, dinners and goodies which you only get to enjoy once a year.

Can you go through the party season and not topple the scales but at the same time enjoy what the festivities have to offer? I say yes and it is easier than you may have thought. Read below our weight loss tips for Christmas.

Tip #1: Beware of the sweets

I think we all may know that sugar and sweets do contain a lot of calories and are what I call sticky; they stick in the thighs, belly, and bottom and well just about everywhere. If you have the will power of superman then you can go through the festive season without touching them but I'm sure there will not be many people who can do that.

1. Have a daily allowance of sweets. For example set a 200kcal limit a day or 2 sweets a day. Work it out in whichever way it suits you, whether it is keeping your sweet eating for one meal, or a little bit per day, or once a week.

2. Keep your sweet eat allowance for those sweets which you really want. Boxes of chocolates change hands constantly through the season and you could find a couple in work, a couple in the house, sweet sampling in the streets or shops, in your neighbour's or friend's house. As a matter of fact there are in every corner and they look inviting and delicious. Don't spend your day picking and picking and picking, instead save it for those specific sweets which you have been waiting all year for.

Tip #2: Save your calories for the main meals

Cut down on snacking through the day. A lot people tend to pick food all day, and do what we call grazing. Once upon a time everybody used to advise that the secret to weight loss is to eat a little bit and often. This may be recommended if you have insulin/blood sugar problems or if your doctor has advised it for other reasons. However, in general grazing all day can have some problems.

1. You could be consuming more food than you think. Snacks such as a packet of crisps, a biscuit, and a cereal bar etc can contain a lot more calories than you think and when all put together they may be more than your main meal. Be especially careful during the festive period where there are snacks and nibbles everywhere.

2. Plan your snacks and meals so you have an account of how many times and what you are eating.

Tip #3: Plan for the dinner party

Do not skip meals. Do make sure you have the 3 main meals through the day. If you have a dinner party don't just starve all day so you can save your calories for the evening meal. Starving all day and then having one big meal once a day will not do any favours to insulin levels or other metabolism and hunger controlling hormones. The result could be that you may be feeling hungrier and end up eating more or storing more calories as fat.

Tip #4: The 'It is a healthy food so it is ok to eat it' misconception

Well dried mixed nuts are good for you, right? So it is fine if you have a load of those caramelised hot nuts which are popular in Christmas markets, right? Actually the answer is no. Just because a food item contains some healthy ingredients it doesn't mean that is automatically healthy or low on calories. For example a mixed fruit stew, cooked in masses of margarine and sugar probably has as much trans fats and calories as a portion of chips. Same could go for apples covered in chocolate or caramel, or other popular festive foods.

1. Think how far has this food come from its natural form and how much cooking and processing it has gone through before you eat it. Also what ingredients does it contain? A lot of commercially prepared food could be fried or cooked in vegetable oils and margarines. They could also contain high amounts of salts and sugars preservatives etc or you could be adding on top of it loads of toppings such as creams and sauces which are far from healthy.

2. Try home cooking. You could save a lot of money and calories. Well sugar is sugar but if you make your own apples and bake them instead of frying them or add less sugar, or in general go for healthier cooking options you could be better off. You could also be having some quality family time as well.

3. Count all calories. If you are trying to stay on a calorie budget then all calories do count no matter how small or secret or healthy they are. Be aware not to go mad or obsessed with calorie counting but be aware what's coming in.

Tip #5: Work the buffet food.

Buffets are a common festive practice and in general are full of pastries, sandwiches, chips or potato wedges, pizza pieces, breads, mini burgers…and you can fill your plate as much as you like and usually as many times as you like!

1. Look carefully the options contained in a buffet and don't just go through adding everything and anything. There are healthier options such as chicken pieces, salad, some past options. Avoid things which are drowning on mayonnaise or other creamy sauces, loads of pastries or bready foods such pizzas, burgers etc.

2. Don't add it on your plate just because is there and don't eat just for the sake of it. You do not have to eat from every single platter just because is there.

3. Don't over fill your plate as if you are not going to see food for the next 10 years. It is a buffet and it could well be that there is enough food to feed the whole of the neighbourhood. However, it doesn't mean that you have to eat it all. Add one layer not mountains and when you finish wait 5 minutes before you have a second helping. Think are you really hungry or do you just eat because it is there.

4. Don't stand over the buffet and keep on picking. Do you ever say 'I am on a diet' or 'I don't want to eat loads' and you just put one small piece of something on your plate? Then you sit or stand by the buffet and every 2 minutes you go and pick one thing. You can so easily loose count of how much food you had or what you had. Better put on your plate what you think you are going to eat and eat that, than kid yourself with regular trips and grazing.

4. Sit yourself away from the buffet or with your back to it. You will be less likely to go for seconds if you are not constantly looking for food or if you are sitting in a sit which is harder to go back out to the buffet.

Tip #6: Just because it's free it doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

You walk through the mall or though the supermarket and there are tones of people who want to sample this and that. You have a tiny piece of chocolate, a piece of cheese, or a piece of cake. In addition, this morning someone brought a box of doughnuts in the office, or there was a buffet in the kid's school. It is all offered for free so why turn it down.

As with everything else a little piece at the time adds up to a massive piece. You also loose count of what you had and finally just because it is free and someone offers it to you doesn’t mean you have to have it. Saying no thank you is not a bad thing.

Tip #7: Don't fall into the festive moment of compulsive buying & compulsive eating.

The festive season more than often does end up with masses of money being spend and giving in to compulsive buying. As with everything else left post festivities you have loads of food still to eat in your kitchen.

Marketing is well designed to make you buy and with the festive season is so easy to give in to compulsive shopping without a second thought. But think to yourself do you really need so much of everything. The more you buy the more you are likely to eat and from experience it is usually around March that the last box of chocolate gets eaten.  

5 Weight loss myths for a safe weight loss

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 06:57 AM PST

green tea

If you are looking for weight loss information, you probably read hundreds of weight loss tips and tricks, diet reviews and product showcases but how many of these are truth and which ones are fake or just myths that emerged over time? Read our post below for the top 5 weight loss myths of all times.

Myth #1: Fast weight loss diets work for permanent weight loss

The majority of weight loss programs promise fast and permanent weight loss results. This is one of the biggest weight loss myths for two simple reasons. First rapid weight loss diets are restrictive and this makes it very hard to follow for a long time, as a result people get tired and quit and the result is of course weight gain.  Second, crash diets are unhealthy and sooner or later people realize this and give up.

Do not fall into the traps of marketing gurus, if you want to lose weight permanently then follow healthy weight loss tips and guidelines and have in mind that the recommended (maximum) amount of weight to lose per week is ½ to 2 pounds.

Myth #2: Avoid fat and carbohydrates when dieting

Both carbohydrates and fat are necessary for a healthy body. Completely avoiding them is not recommended and will not aid your weight loss efforts. Following a diet that is very low on carbohydrates will make you feel tired and weak and may cause ketosis which can prove very dangerous in certain cases. Carbohydrates are necessary for normal digestion and also give you the feeling of fullness for longer periods thus saving you calories from 'unnecessary' eating.

It is true that fats have twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein but they are necessary to keep your body in normal temperature levels and your stomach full for longer periods.

The only way to lose weight is by following a balanced diet which includes moderate consumption of both carbohydrates and fat. It is no wonder that during a recent study the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet (both diets are balanced diets) were voted as the best weight loss diets.

Myth #3: You can lose weight by exercise alone

It is a fact that exercise is the only way to burn calories. During a normal day your body burns calories to perform the normal body functions (breathing, digestion, walking, etc) but to accelerate this process and burn more calories you have to exercise. Exercise also promotes good health and increases your chances for a permanent and safe weight loss.

Exercise alone though cannot give you optimum results. You also have to be careful on what you eat. Weight loss will happen when the calories you burn are more than the calories you consume. When this deficit is above 3500 calories you will lose one pound. Also, consider that to burn the calories you consume from a meal may take many hours in the gym so by taking care of what you eat your chances of losing weight are greatly increased.

Myth #4: Light or low-fat foods have 0 calories

Not really. Compared to the same size full-fat version the low-fat will have fewer calories but certainly not zero. The label 'low-fat' is not representative of the number of calories a food may contain. Some low-fat foods have more calories than the full-fat equivalents because of added sugars or other ingredients that add calories.

Myth #5: Just be careful on what you eat without counting your calories

Many people believe that by just eating less (compared to what they used to eat) will lose weight. This is partly true. If you have more weight than normal then this means that you are consuming more calories than what your body needs. So, one of the expected actions to reverse this situation is to start eating less. But this is not the end of the story. You need to know approximately how many calories to save per day in order to lose weight. By making some simple calculations you can find out how many calories to eat per day, how many calories to burn through exercise and how to distribute your calorie intake between meals.

10 Dining out tips for losing weight

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 10:10 AM PST

weight loss tips

Eating out is unavoidable but this should not impact your weight loss efforts.  There are little things that make a big difference when eating out and if you manage to follow our weight loss tips correctly, you can enjoy your next meal without feeling guilty and more importantly without breaking your weight loss plan.

10 Dining out tips for losing weight

Tip 1: Select a good restaurant

A 'good restaurant' in our context is one that:

Serves a variety of menu dishes (not buffet) including fish and salads

Displays nutritional information for each meal

Has a good reputation for serving fresh food

Tip 2: Decide in advance what to eat

It is better not to go to the restaurant with an empty stomach and it is advisable that you know in advance what to eat. Before leaving home do your research by visiting the web site of the restaurant and make your decisions.

Tip 3: Choose your meals wisely

Eating out once in a while will not destroy your weight loss efforts but it is better to make smart food choices so that the impact is limited to none. As a rule of thumb try to order 'Mediterranean style' dishes such as fish, poultry, salads, legumes and whole grains. If this is not possible then give preference to the following dishes:

Steak – remove the fat and eat only the lean part (no sauces or gravy)

Chinese – prefer dishes that have lots of vegetables and avoid eggs as well as sweet and sour sauces. Go for steam rice instead of fried and try to avoid oil as much as possible.

Italian – Pasta with red sauce is a great choice. Carbonara and other cream sauces better be avoided.

Pizza – Vegetarian pizzas or margarita are better.

Mexican – Spicy foods are good for weight loss since they help metabolism. You can order chicken fajitas with vegetables and rice instead of chips. Minimize though the consumption or sour cream.

Tip 4: Drink Water or wine with your food

Soft and alcoholic drinks are full of calories and sugars. You can enjoy your meal with a class of red wine or water. It's also ok to order a zero (light) soft drink. Also try to avoid fresh fruit juices and cocktails.

Tip 5: Eat an appetizer

It's a good idea to eat an appetizer before your main meal. This will cut down your hunger and save you many calories. When choosing an appetizer avoid creamy food, cheese (for example nachos), sauces (for example chicken wings with barbecued sauce) and prefer: Salads (for example a small green salad), seafood (smoked salmon is a great choice), soups and vegetables. Have in mind that avocado which is used very often as an appetizer has a lot of fat and calories.

Tip 6: What about side dishes?

Restaurants have many choices for a side dish. You can safely choose steamed or boiled vegetables, baked potato (without butter, cheese or sauces), rice, noodles or even seafood. Potato chips, salads with dressings, fried food is not recommended.

Tip 7: Eating slowly does matter

One of the little things that do play a role is eating slowly and chewing your food very well. When eating slowly you give enough time to the brain to get the 'signal' from the stomach that it is full and thus avoiding the consumption of extra and unnecessary calories. Also by chewing your food very well you make the digestion process faster and easier for the stomach. Take your time, talk with your friends, drink your water or wine and enjoy your dinner.

Tip 8: Size does matter

The size of the portion does matter. Restaurants usually have big plates and this makes the food quantity look small but in reality this is not the case. Do not judge the size of the portion from the plate size but during your meal try to stop when you are feeling full. Do not get carried away by what your friends may be doing or eating and make sure that you leave space for a desert as well.

Tip 9: Deserts

Deserts don't have to be full of fats and sugars to be tasteful. You can still enjoy a fresh fruit salad, a low-fat yogurt or a lemon pie for a desert and be happy. It's ok to have a small ball of vanilla ice cream but as a rule of thumb try not to eat chocolate cakes, cookies and creamy deserts.

Tip 10: Enjoy your meal without feeling guilty

Even if you eat more than expected it is not the end of the World. Do not feel guilty about it, try to enjoy your meal and try to be better next time. What is important though is to take corrective actions. If for example you eat a few calories more then try to burn those calories the next day by walking, running or using other forms of exercise. You need to keep a balance so that you are happy and satisfied. If you made a mistake during your meal then you need to correct your mistake by doing something more during your exercise sessions.

The real benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 01:15 AM PDT

mediterranean diet

It is a common claim that people in the Mediterranean live longer and are stronger and healthier. Is it true or is it a claim to help sale olive oil?

The Mediterranean dietary pattern has been linked with weight loss and positive health outcomes. Studies seem to be supportive of following a Mediterranean dietary pattern as a solution for weight loss and obesity.

We already nominated the Mediterranean diet as the best diet in our previous post 5 best weight loss programs for women and we have seen how to lose weight with the combination diet, a diet based on the Mediterranean dietary pattern.

In this article we have gathered a summary of some of the real benefits of the Mediterranean diet which go beyond weight loss.

The Mediterranean diet defined

The Mediterranean diet derives from the countries based in the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The differences in dietary habits, cooking style ethnic and religious customs make it impossible to give one single definition of what the Mediterranean diet is.

Much of the scientific research originally looked at the benefits of the Cretan diet in Greece. Later studies looked and compared diets in the rest of Greece and Northen Italy. There are common components shared in the dietary patterns in all the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea however, at the same time there is a large diversity.
Therefore, it may be more accurate to refer to a Mediterranean dietary pattern or style rather than a 'Mediterranean diet'.

Health benefits – cardiovascular disease

One of the main elements of the Mediterranean dietary pattern is the high consumption of foods deriving from plant origin such as fruit and vegetables. Why is this beneficial?

Plant foods are rich in fibre, vitamins minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols, factors which can lead to a number of health benefits. Studies indicate that such elements can have a protective role from cancer and CHD (coronary heart disease). A lot of the characteristic of the plant-derived foods consumed in a Mediterranean dietary pattern such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, garlic, herbs, and red wine contain a large amount of bioactive compounds. These can collectively provide significant health benefits. For example, nuts, are rich in phenols, flavonoids, and phytosterols, fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids, carotenoids, folic acid, and fibre, all of which are important in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health benefits – cancer and other conditions

The protective benefits of the Mediterranean dietary pattern, against disease, don't stop only with cardiovascular conditions. Some of the food elements which are part of the Mediterranean dietary pattern, such as aromatic herbs and wild greens, contain antioxidants and other compounds which may have a protective role against cancer and other diseases.

In addition, according to some studies this style of eating has been associated with positive outcomes for insulin resistance (improving insulin sensitivity) and lowering the risk of developing diabetes, inflammation and other conditions.

Drinking wine is a good thing

It is not often you hear the health experts and scientist saying that having alcohol is good. Some of the protective against disease elements of the Mediterranean diet are awarded to the moderate consumption of wine.

The moderate consumption of red wine in particular (1-2 small glasses per day for men and 1 glass per day for women) is suggested to help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol contained in the wine is believed to favourably change the balance of fats in the blood which results in production of the HDL (high density lipoprotein) or what people tend to refer to as 'good cholesterol'. Another benefit of consuming alcohol but in moderate amounts is that alcohol tends to stop the blood from clotting together. Finally, wine can contain antioxidants as resveratrol, quercitin and epicatechin which can have a protective role in the blood vessels.

Some studies argue that in the case of women wine consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer. Although these links are not always clear cut, in general it advised that women don't consume wine and alcohol in large amounts.

Beneficial for mental health

Some studies have also looked into the benefits of following a Mediterranean dietary pattern in terms of mental health. Although scientific evidence are not as clear studies support there is a link between following a Mediterranean dietary style and reduced risk of developing some mental health conditions. For example some studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean dietary pattern show decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Live longer

Studies have shown that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns tend to live longer. It is not just an olive oil advert, but it is a scientific fact. I guess it kind of makes sense that if you have fewer diseases you will live longer. Yes that may be one reason why the Mediterranean dietary pattern has been connected with longevity. However, apart from keeping away from diseases which could kill you sooner, elements of the Mediterranean dietary pattern have been suggested to promote longevity.

Variability in the menu

With more than 18 countries based in the Mediterranean region there is plenty to choose from. Each country has its own recipes, customs and styles which can provide the Mediterranean menu with huge variability. Variations are also found within regions of every country so one kind of food may have hundreds of ways by which it can be cooked.

One could argue that you will never feel bored and you can always find something to like in such a huge menu.


Apart from being spoilt for choice the menu can quite palatable dishes. In the Mediterranean regions recipes use plethora of aromatic herbs and spices, wine, and other taste enhancing elements.

The use of such herbs and spices is not only good for the taste but also for health. A lot of these aromatic herbs have protective effects on health. For example rosemary and sage are antioxidants possibly due to the components (such as polyphenols or isoprenoids) they contain.

Weight loss

The Mediterranean dietary pattern has also been praised for helping in weight loss. Mediterranean style diets are believed to offer a healthy balanced option which can be low in calories.

Obviously a dietary style/pattern is what you make of it. For example, vegetables are, in general, low in calories and can contain vitamins and minerals. However, depending on how they are processed and cooked they may provide a meal with high calorific content and very little nutritional value.

The French paradox

Traditionally the French diet is rich in saturated fats, animal products such as cream, meats and they consume high amounts of wine. However, despite following such a diet they used to have low rates of cardiovascular disease and cholesterol and in majority they were very slim.

These statistics have changed in more recent times in which the French follow more westernized diets. A lot of scientists have tried to give different explanations for what they call the "French Paradox" but in general they believe that drinking wine and consuming large amounts of fruit and veg. are some of the main reasons for this phenomenon.

Similarly the Cretan diet can consist of a lot of red meat in some regions, however, the Cretan diet is considered as one of the healthiest.

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