Tag: protein

Take It Off! 5 Top Foods for Faster Weight Loss

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No matter how badly we’d love for weight loss to be simple, there’s no magic pill or special trick to make shedding the pounds an easy process. But there is plenty of research to show that the foods we choose to eat can make a difference by raising metabolism and making us feel fuller to avoid unnecessary weight gain.

Certain foods allow the body to process calories in different ways, making nutritional choices a very important part of the diet and exercise puzzle for those hoping to lose weight.

 

Below are 5 top foods recommended by nutrition and fitness experts for faster weight loss:

 

1. Dairy—

Often touted for its value as a post-workout recovery drink because of the high amino acid and protein content, whey protein shakes are a common favorite of those in need of a quick pick-me-up.

Because they’re easy to make, whey protein shakes can be a good way to curb the appetite before it reaches the dangerously hungry “eating whatever’s available” levels that can sabotage anyone’s best intentions.

Calcium has also been shown to have a metabolism-boosting thermic effect on the body, with studies proving that dieters who ingest it every day lose almost twice as much weight as those who don’t: so if you’re not a fan of milk, consider adding some yogurt to your day.

 

2. Apples—

Apples are full of fiber, which is dietary aid well known for curbing hunger by creating a feeling of fullness in the stomach without a lot of calories, as well as promoting good digestion.

Apples are also full of pectin, a substance that swells into a gel that binds with water to enhance satiation, with the added bonus of preventing the amount of fat the body can absorb.

Apples have recently been connected to the prevention of metabolic syndrome, which presents with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, waist thickening and pre-diabetes, making the timeless advice “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” more important to follow than ever.

 

3. Broccoli—

You’ve seen broccoli on every super-food list for its dense nutritional content, but broccoli is also a strong contender in the weight loss assistance arena because of the high levels of fiber it contains.

This high fiber content is also found in many other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, which are great sources of vitamin C and phytochemicals.

Broccoli is high in riboflavin, which has been shown in studies to play a role in raising metabolism to increase weight loss, as well as providing an excellent non-dairy source of calcium for those who are lactose-intolerant.

 

4. Berries—

A bright and delicious addition to any smoothie or bowl of whole grain cereal, berries are loaded with antioxidants, which are famous for their anti-aging cellular protection and metabolism-boosting effects.

Berries are also a surprisingly good source of fiber, with raspberries at the top of the fiber-full list, with blackberries at a close second place.

Low in calories, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries have ketones that can help the body burn more fat and stabilize blood sugar levels.

A recent study also showed that berries helped raise metabolism and suppress appetite in mice by decreasing glucose levels while burning fat. (Source: University of Pennsylvania Health System.)

 

5. Beans—

An April 2013 study revealed that a diet rich in beans was as effective as a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, enhancing feelings of satiety with the added bonus of better cholesterol levels. (Source: Loma Linda University.)

While not offering quite the protein punch of lean meats and dairy, beans still have enough to help boost muscle mass and metabolism.

Beans also have a high fiber content that helps assist digestion by moving food through the gastrointestinal system faster than animal-based proteins.

 

Genetics and hormones definitely play a role in the physique we’re given, but there are ways to work with what we’ve got, and smart food choices that can make it easier to get into shape. Consider adding some of the foods above to your daily regimen, and see if they can help you lose weight faster and reach the fitness goals you’re hoping to achieve.

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Make It Move: 5 Ways to Crank-Up Your Middle-Aged Metabolism

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With age comes wisdom, but some of us would gladly trade a bit of that hard-earned knowledge for the body we took entirely for granted in our 20s. Joints start to ache as we get older, muscles are pulled more easily, and perhaps the worst thing of all that happens is the slowing down of our once-speedy metabolisms.

Like a lot of things we’ve learned about in life, this simply isn’t fair, but the good news is that there are many things we can do to stay in shape as we age. We may have to work a little harder to get there than when we were younger, but it is still entirely possible to maintain a fit and healthy physique.

 

Below are 5 top tips to speed up a sluggish middle-aged metabolism:

 

1. Set a Schedule—

Some people like to eat 6 small meals a day, and some choose the traditional 3, but the most recent research has shown the amount of meals per day actually doesn’t matter as much as we once thought – calories are calories.

If maintaining even blood sugar levels is mandatory, multiple, mini-meals may be your smartest choice, but if you’re a 3-squares-a-day kind of person, that’s okay, too.

However, no matter how often you choose to eat, the most important thing is consistency: set an eating schedule and stick to it. When your body feels deprived, it goes into starvation mode, which lowers metabolism, so let it know what to expect and deliver the goods on time.

 

2. Muscle Up, Buttercup—

In addition to increasing bone mineral density, adding weightlifting to your workout routine can build muscles, which automatically increases resting metabolic rate.

Strength training exercises can also build up muscles around aching joints to take the pressure off of them, reducing strain and pain.

When starting a weightlifting regimen, remember that you don’t recover as quickly as your younger self, so start slow. If you can’t do 15-20 repetitions, lower the weight, and gradually work up to it. Pushing yourself too hard can result in an injury, which will send you frustrated and limping back to the beginning.

 

3. Make More Movement—

Your days of circling the parking lot, vying for the up-front parking are over. If you want to boost your metabolism, one of the best ways to do this is to create reasons to go the long way – like parking at the back of the lot. On purpose.

If you work in a building with an elevator, make friends with the stairs; they will thank you by burning calories and building muscles. Finding a walking buddy to get some head-clearing and fat-burning exercise on your lunch break is another great idea.

If you can get up and walk around while on the phone, even pacing while you chat is an excellent way to sneak in more movement.

 

4. Protein is Your Pal—

Studies have proven that protein not only assists in the building of muscles, it makes us feel more satisfied than carbohydrates, which can cut down on daily calories consumed.

Try to include a little protein with every meal for increased feelings of fullness and steadier glucose levels to eliminate hunger-binging.

High-protein yogurt (such as Greek) can be especially helpful for weight loss, as it also contains probiotics to bolster good intestinal flora and assist in digestion.

 

5. Slow Down to Speed Up—

The stress hormone cortisol is a common carbohydrate-craving culprit that can cause extra weight gain, especially in the belly area. Not getting enough sleep can also increase levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.

The solution to this hormonal weight gain double whammy is difficult for many: making sleep a priority, and getting a minimum of 7 hours per night. But no matter how hectic your life may be, it’s crucial to get a good night’s sleep.

Yoga and meditation are also wonderful ways to stretch, relax, soothe the soul and de-stress. And if nature eases your mind, gardening or taking a hike somewhere green can work wonders, as well.

 

If you’ve noticed you can’t eat as much as before without gaining weight, and the ways you used to stay in shape are no longer working: don’t give up. Try some of the ideas above, and move your metabolism back into a higher, fat-fighting range to keep your body burning calories like a champ and feeling great.

Healthy New Year! Top Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Holiday weight gain is a widely accepted fact of life, causing many to hopelessly give up and give in to the temptation of high-calorie treats that seem to lurk around every festive corner. But accepting rather than fighting poor habits throughout the holidays can set anyone on the path to dietary disruption and bad health.

As we get older, every ounce of weight gain matters, and can seem impossible to lose, making it especially important to keep a close eye on calories. Luckily, there are many easy ways to prevent the sabotage of all your fitness plan progress.

Below are some top tips to help anyone avoid the trap of holiday weight gain.

 

1. Retain the Routine—

Yes, you’re on vacation. No, this doesn’t have to mean you should take a break from the gym, yoga classes or whatever form of exercise you generally work into every week.

Sticking with your workout regimen can keep your metabolism moving and help you burn extra calories; something you might really appreciate later when faced with a plate of holiday cookies.

And don’t be afraid to go heavier on exercises that burn more calories during the holidays to offset the extra intake.

 

2. Step Away from the Buffet—

When hanging out at social events, it’s easy to get caught in a conversation while standing near the buffet table if you’re grazing randomly, so purposefully grab a plate, make your selections, and move away from the food area.

This will help you be aware of exactly how much you eat, while removing the temptation to have “just one more” cookie or chip with dip as you stand mindlessly chatting and nibbling.

 

3. Make Friends with the Vegetables—

At every holiday party, there is a generally a plethora of sugary baked goods and salty snacks, with a sad, neglected vegetable tray sitting alone and ignored somewhere on the table.

Find that lonely tray of vegetables and load up your plate with these fiber and nutrition-packed beauties, because they’re going to fill you up without a lot of calories while fueling your body with vitamins and minerals.

Remember to go easy on the dip, and eat all of the veggies before moving on to the more calorie-dense foods.

 

4. Protein is Your Pal—

In addition to vegetables, lean protein in its various forms is a great way to fill up and stay full without fattening carbohydrates.

Look for shrimp, chicken or any other versions of protein that aren’t covered in heavy sauce, and add these to your vegetable bounty for a healthy holiday meal.

 

5. More Sleep, Less Stress—

Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases weight gain, especially around the middle. It can be difficult when you feel like you have one million things to do, but making sleep a priority is definitely worth it.

Cortisol is also known for breaking down muscle, and muscle loss lowers metabolism, making it especially important to get the sleep you need during the food-filled holidays.

 

6. Wonderful Water—

Feelings of dehydration can mimic hunger, making it important to remain hydrated at all times to prevent pointless snacking.

Dehydration can also lower the metabolism and increase inflammation levels in the body, both of which lead to weight gain. Some experts recommend alternating a glass of water between every adult beverage to prevent the dehydrating diuretic effects of alcohol.

Drinking water before meals has also been shown to create a feeling of fullness that can help promote weight loss, so before you head out to that holiday party: drink up!

 

7. Do the Shopping Shuffle—

Buying gifts online can be more convenient, but if you want to sneak in a little extra exercise while you take care of holiday-related errands, go to the actual stores and walk around.

Worried about missing an online deal? Many stores will match online competitor prices, so be sure to take a device with you that allows Internet access, or print out the best price you can find to show store employees.

 

8. Saving Calories is Sabotage—

Don’t make the mistake of trying to starve yourself all day to “save calories” for the holiday party later. This will only drop your metabolism down into starvation mode, and set you up to overeat late in the day, which is the worst time to overindulge if you’re trying to stay trim.

Instead of starving, eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and if the party you’ll be attending isn’t a dinner party, consider eating your final meal of the day before you go to keep the snacking to a minimum.

 

Focusing on the humanity, kindness and goodwill of the season (rather than trying to figure out how much food you can stuff into your face in a few weeks) is also a helpful way to avoid holiday weight gain. The holidays may involve a lot of food, but they really aren’t ultimately about food at all, are they? If you can keep this philosophy in mind, and use the smart tips above, you can keep your diet and fitness program on track to have a healthy New Year!