Friday, November 16, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

10 Delicious Treats for Under 50 Calories

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 07:38 AM PST

50 calorie snacks

We all need a little treat in our lives now and again.  Sometimes when we are stressed or emotional, or perhaps going through a difficult time, a moment taken to enjoy a food that gives us pleasure can be a breath of fresh air.  It must be stressed that using foods for rewards in difficult situations should not become a habit, but the occasional indulgence, especially when you choose wisely can make all the difference to an otherwise monotonous diet.

We all know sticking to a diet can be tough, and at times demoralising, however, watching your weight does not mean you can't enjoy your food and still satisfy your need for something sweet, or perhaps curb your salty cravings.

What is a 'treat food' for you?

'Treat' foods are different for everybody.  Think about what you consider to be a treat, is it a bowl (or tub) of your favourite ice cream?  Or maybe you are more into savoury treats like chips or popcorn?  Some may see a treat as a meal from their favourite take-out or a glass of wine after a busy day at work.  In general, people see treats as foods that are eaten on occasion and not part of their every day diet.

This is fine as long as you can really keep them as occasional foods.  The danger for some is that indulging occasionally makes it harder to avoid the foods at other times.  If you have a bowl of ice cream for dessert once a week, do you then find it harder to resist on other nights?

If you find it easier to eliminate typical treats from your diet completely when trying to lose weightyou may need to redefine what constitutes a 'treat' food,  to fit into your new healthy eating plan.   Instead of seeing treats as high calorie, high fat, generally unhealthy foods (admittedly that taste good), try to think of foods that are a luxury but aren’t going to destroy all your hard work if they find their way into your daily food intake from time to time.

These foods can be indulged in and enjoyed without guilt.  Think seasonal fresh fruits, exotic spices and low fat yet creamy dairy products, all of which may in fact benefit your health.

We are fortunate to have an ever increasing range of unusual and delicious food products in our supermarkets, so make the most of this and buy good quality, fresh ingredients and discover new flavours and food experiences.  It is also important to take time to enjoy your treats, low fat, low calorie treats are generally not going to be large, so eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful.

10 Tasty Treats Under 50 Calories

1.  ½  cup  of strawberries with 2 ½  Tbsp non-fat yogurt -47 calories 

Berries are the best friend of the calorie conscience eater.  They contain the least calories of all fruits, with the additional benefit of being packed full of vitamins.  Not only are they incredibly healthy, but what could be more indulgent, romantic and delicious than a bowl of fresh strawberries.  Add yogurt to cut through the sharpness of the fruit and add a hit of calcium, essential for strong bones.

2.  Apple with yogurt and cinnamon – 45 calories

By cooking the apple, the sugars in the fruit caramelize and intensify the flavour of the fruit.  A perfect winter dessert, serve warm with cool yogurt to contrast and a dash of cinnamon to add flavour.  A study done by the US Department of Agriculture found that cinnamon may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels and lower unhealthy triglycerides (fats) in the blood. Try baking half an appe and add low fat yogurt and cinnamon for taste.

3. Raisins – 45 calories 

The perfect alternative to candy or chocolate, and an excellent treat to keep on hand at any time as they are easily slipped into a pocket or purse.  Raisins are high in antioxidants, which can protect against cancers and heart disease as well as full of fibre, aiding digestion.  Make sure you stick to a small box though, as dried fruit can provide a large amount of calories when eaten in big quantities.

4. Low fat-free Greek yogurt with jam -43 calories

Greek Yogurt is thicker, and creamier than other yogurts, so despite choosing a fat free version this is a luxurious treat, high in calcium and protein.  Sugar free jam cuts through the sharpness of the yogurt and provides a little added sweetness without the calories.

5. 1/3 cup blueberries with 1 Tbsp light sour cream – 47 calories    

Blueberries are thought to be amongst the highest sources of antioxidants in the food world.  Not only this, but they are high in vitamin C, fibre, and manganese (important for converting food into energy).  When in season, they are also incredibly sweet and tasty, while light sour cream makes a creamier, tangier alternative to yogurt.

6. 3⁄4 cup almond milk -45 calories

Almond milk is lower in calories than regular milk, but still packed full of nutrients.  The creamy texture and taste make it feel indulgent.  High in calcium and vitamin D, this treat is good for strong bones, whilst vitamins A and E act as antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage.  Unlike regular milk, almond milk contains no saturated fats and high fibre levels, meaning it is heart healthy and good for digestion.  It is also low GI therefore keeping blood sugar levels at a stable level.

 7. 1 cup Air popped pop corn – 31 calories

For those who prefer a savoury treat, pop corn is an excellent alternative to chips or fried snacks.  Buy plain corn kernels, rather than buttered or flavoured varieties, and pop in the microwave or in a pan without added fats.  Add spices such as black or cayenne pepper for flavour, the result is surprisingly good and with none of the salt, fat and flavours found in many savoury snack foods.

 8. 6  Maraschino  cherries – 50 calories

This is a simple, quick treat for the sweet tooth.  Often featuring in high fat foods such as sundaes or cakes, the cherries alone make for an indulgent snack without guilt.  While they don't provide any real nutritional benefits, at 50 calories for six, they don't do too much damage either.

 9. 2 Small squares of dark chocolate – 50 calories

Chocolate is the ultimate of sweet treats and the good news is in very small servings it can also fit into a healthy diet.  The darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant content, so try to go as dark as possible for optimum health benefits.  Two small squares will give you 50 calories, so buy a good quality chocolate, relax and savour the flavour.

10. One container of sugar free gelatine -10 calories

Whilst this is not going to contribute much nutrition to your diet, at 10 calories, it doesn't really matter.  Serve with a couple of tablespoons of low fat yogurt to add calcium and variety.  Alternatively, make the gelatine from scratch and add chopped up berries and fruit to the unset mix for a few more vitamins.

How many carbs, proteins, and fats do I need to lose weight?

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 07:24 AM PST

food pyramid

If you have spent any decent amount of time researching weight loss diets, there is a good chance you are more confused now then when you started.  There are people who recommend high carb diets, low carb diets, no carb diets, high protein diets, low protein diets, low fat diets, no fat diets, or any other possible combination.

I will help you determine which balance you should use, but first you need to realize what it actually takes to lose a pound of fat. One pound of fat is made up of around 3500 calories, so to lose 1 pound of fat you need burn 3500 more calories then you consumed over the course of a few days or a week.

For example, take an individual who has a recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 2000 calories. If that person only consumes 1500 calories a day, over the course of a week (7 days), they will have saved 3500 calories total. That equals 1 pound of fat loss for that week. Therefore, in theory, it does not make a difference which balance of carbs, protein and fats you used that week, as long as you consume a certain amount of calories per day.

But, of course, nothing is that simple.  Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates are all used differently in our bodies and we need a proper balance between the three to function at 100%. To help you decide which balance of the three will work best for you I will go over each ones benefits and uses in the body.


The primary function of protein is to repair and build body tissues, however if you do not consume enough carbohydrates alongside with the protein, your body will be forced to break down protein to be used as energy as well.

Proteins are made up of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. Our body uses around 20 different amino acids to build its various proteins.  There are two primary forms of amino acids essential and nonessential.  Their names describe them perfectly as our body cannot produce essential amino acids; therefore it is necessary for us to consume them in food regularly.  However, our bodies can produce nonessential amino acids naturally; therefore, we do not have to worry about consuming them through food.

Exercise And Protein Intake

Whether the form of exercise is aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (weightlifting) if you regularly exercise it is recommended you consume more protein to aid in recovery and building muscle.  If you are focusing on building muscle, experts recommend no less then 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

Proteins Effect on Satiety

When trying to lose weight, satiety or “The feeling of Fullness” can be a big factor to consider when arranging your diet.  Many studies have shown protein has the greatest effect on satiety out of the 3 macronutrients.   Also considering 1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories versus 1 gram of fat which is 9 calories, you can easily see why protein is a valuable tool to use in your weight loss.

Overview of Protein

- Recommended Usage: 15- 30% of total calorie intake

- One gram of protein is equal 4 calories.

- Aids in repairing and building tissues in our body

- May also be broken down to be used as energy


“Carbs” or Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; they are primarily classified as simple or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, while complex carbohydrates consist of starches. Fiber is also a carbohydrate and studies have shown it is important we consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day for optimum performance.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy used for all bodily functions and during physical exertion. Carbohydrates are also important to help regulate digestion and aid in the utilization of the protein and fats we consume.

For long-term fat loss, studies have shown it is important carbohydrates make up the largest portion of your diet. Although low carb diets work at first by helping you drop water weight they are not superior in long-term fat loss goals in most cases. It is especially important that the largest portion of your diet be made up of carbohydrates if you are an endurance athlete or have a physical job. That way you can be sure you are provided with enough energy throughout the day, and your body is not forced to break down valuable protein for energy needs.

Carbohydrates Overview

- Recommended Usage: 50-70% of total caloric intake

- One gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories.

- Carbohydrates are your bodies’ primary source of energy.

-  They can spare proteins use for energy, therefore the protein can be used to build muscle and aid in recovery.

Fats (Also Termed Lipids)

Fats are the most calorie packed sources of food in your diet and the reason why a McDonalds Big Mac or Large Fry can have more calories then three healthy meals.  One gram of fat is equal to 9 calories, which is more then twice the amount of calories in a protein or carbohydrate.   If you are trying to lose weight, fats should make up the smallest portion of your diet however do not remove them completely. If used in moderation fats can even be beneficial to your weight loss goals.

Small amounts of fat can be spread throughout the day as fat consumption stimulates the release of a hormone that signals fullness, used appropriately this can be a great tool to keep you from overeating.

However, large amounts of fats in your diet can lead to overeating through lack of actual food volume and can slow your metabolism.

Fat Overview

- Recommended Usage: 10-30% of total caloric intake

- One gram of Fat is equal to 9 calories

- Fats are useful in appetite control if used in moderation but add unnecessary calories up fast.


With that slightly in depth look at what Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates really are, you should understand why having a balanced dietis not just important for weight loss but also  for your general health.  Nutrition is a vast subject, and we barely scratched the surface today, but it should be enough to help you decide the right balance in your diet.

Does exercising on an empty stomach burn more fat?

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 03:20 AM PST

best time to workout for weight loss

If you have spent a decent amount of time talking to different people about the best way to lose weight, you may have heard the advice…

“Do your cardio in the morning, before you eat”

The effects of exercising in the morning

The basic idea behind this well known theory, is that when you haven’t eaten all night and are in “fasting mode”, all the calories you burn in a workout  will directly come from your body fat stores, because you cannot use previously eaten food as energy. Physiologically this is a great approach for extra fat loss; however, there is one more question I think you need to ask.

“Besides body fat, what is another source our bodies can burn for energy?”

The answer is MUSCLE, and this is never a good thing trust me, no matter how bad you want weight loss, you do not want muscle loss. Too intense of cardio in the morning can burn away hard-earned muscle, but that does not mean this method is useless. There  is a relatively simple way to get around the issue, just to be safe eat a small amount of protein or  5g of BCAAs and 5g Glutamine in a shake  prior to exercise.

True, a lot of the protein you eat prior is going to be burned off as energy for the workout; however, the positive effect of it preserving muscle tissue is well worth it in my opinion.  Keep in mind however, during this workout you will have no recently eaten carbohydrates and fats to use as energy, so you may find it harder to keep the intensity as high as a mid-day workout.

Why your body burns more fat in the morning?

Nevertheless, I think a common misconception needs to be cleared up before we discuss this method of cardio further.

Many people believe the reason you burn the fat directly from fat stores upon waking is that your body is in a glycogen-depleted state. However, this is not the case, you see when you go to sleep, after around 30 minutes, you enter the deep sleep phase, during this phase, 95%+ of the calories you burn are from free fatty acids because it is such a low intensity period.

Therefore, since the primary source of energy your body uses during sleep is fatty acids, experts agree when you are awake you will not have to mobilize fatty acids to be used for energy; therefore they are far more likely to be used as energy first.

In the end you need to understand when dealing with our bodies, things are never simple and no one can tell you one way is 100% better then the other. There are far too many factors involved to justify saying, “Morning cardio is FAR superior then mid day cardio”. However I do think it is useful and do recommend it be used, but rather as a way to split your cardio in half.

Split your cardio throughout the day for optimum results

For example if you normally do 40 minutes of cardio daily, I recommend upon waking you eat a small amount of protein, then do  20 minutes of cardio. Continue as normal and do the last 20 minutes mid day, research has shown for years that splitting your cardio up into multiple sessions is very effective in squeezing out more fat loss due to EPOC.

EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption means our workouts have an “after burn effect”, meaning immediately after a workout we are still burning more calories then if we never worked out. This elevated state of calorie burning begins to diminish soon after a workout however, although some experts claim EPOC does not have as big effect on fat loss as some people say; studies have shown it does help.  Furthermore, everyone I have recommended it to has seen improved results over one cardio session a day. It may not be a huge difference, but every inch counts.

That is what long-term weight loss is about, like almost anything in life, getting healthy is a game of inches. Saving an extra 100 calories a day may not seem like a lot but that is 36,000 calories a year, which is roughly 10 pounds of fat saved!

Therefore, I urge you to take any advantage you can get in your day-to-day training, before those extra inches you did not go end up being a few extra inches around your waist.

Nevertheless, most of all I wish you good luck in your health goals, becoming healthier is the greatest step you can take towards true happiness.  Money can buy many things, but it cannot buy good health once you lost it, fitness is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth.

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