Tag: weight loss

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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Weight Loss Plateau? Oh, No! 5 Tips to Get the Scale Moving

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When you’re watching what you eat, exercising regularly, and doing all of the things that are supposed to promote weight loss, but the scale won’t seem to move, you may have reached what fitness experts call a weight loss plateau.

This frustrating phenomenon can demotivate even the most disciplined person, because when we feel like nothing we try matters, it’s natural to stop caring about what we do. What’s the point of all the work if you have nothing to show for it, right?

But before you throw in the towel, head for the couch, and grab the Ben & Jerry’s, you might try some of the techniques recommended to move past a weight loss plateau. With a little patience and determination, there are ways to move past this annoying phase of weight loss limbo — and working out consistently is still good for your health, regardless of what the scale says.

Read about 5 ways to move past a weight loss plateau below:

 

1. Strength Training to Boost Metabolism—

Lifting weights, using weight machines, resistance bands and other forms of exercise that get you out of your comfort zone are great ways to build muscle mass, and muscle mass burns more calories.

This means that even in a state of rest, your body will be using more calories than before, and this might be just the push you need to get the scale moving again.

If you’re already incorporating strength training into your workout, consider increasing the weight and or/reps you’ve been doing. You may have fallen into a weightlifting routine rut that no longer stresses muscle fibers enough to build mass, holding you steady at your current weight.

 

2. Check Your Chewing—

If you don’t keep a food diary, this might be a good time to start. Information is the first step in solving most problems, and if you’re going to get your weight loss program back on track, you’ll need to know exactly what’s going on.

It’s very common for people to forget what they’ve eaten in a day, or to discount the little things, but the little things add up. Record every liquid, snack, dressing and bite that goes into your mouth for a week to see if you might be forgetting about some sneaky saboteur somewhere in your daily diet.

Also: If you’ve lost a decent amount of weight, your daily caloric requirements might have lessened with your body fat content, so you may need to adjust accordingly.

 

3. What You Eat Matters—

While you’re recording your diet, pay attention to the types of foods you prefer, because even though caloric intake versus what you burn in a day is the most important factor for weight loss, there are foods you can eat to speed up the process.

Refined sugars and simple carbs, for example, are highly conducive to weight gain and don’t offer the body much in the way of nutrition. But healthier choices like whole grains and vegetables will fill you up with less calories, thanks to their high fiber content.

Also consider increasing your daily protein intake, as this is needed to build the metabolism-boosting muscle mentioned above, and will keep you feeling satisfied for a longer time than carbohydrates.

 

4. Many Mini-Meals—

Because jobs and life can make it difficult to eat often, most people have the standard 3 squares a day with occasional snacks in-between. But if you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, a great way to “shock” your system back into losing weight is to switch to 6 mini-meals a day.

It requires more forethought and planning, and you’ll need to make sure your required caloric intake stays the same, but this method of eating has helped many lose weight.

Another benefit of multiple small meals throughout the day is that it curbs appetite, as the body receives small amounts of food before hunger has time to set in.

 

5. Change or Challenge Your Routine—

Sometimes we get set in our comfortable exercise regimens, as we hop on our favorite cardio machine, or do the same type of exercise for every workout. While this can be comforting psychologically, the body can also lapse into a comfort zone that slows fitness progress.

The answer to this, of course, is to mix it up. If you consistently do a certain form of cardio, for example, try a different type. If you are a leisurely trail or treadmill jogger, consider adding sprints to push the metabolism into high-gear.

Or take a completely different approach, slow down and try a more relaxing, enjoyable form of exercise, like yoga, hiking or swimming. Sometimes change of any kind can shake the body out of a plateau and back into progress.

 

Be sure to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, keep stress levels low, and be patient with yourself. Everyone experiences occasional setbacks and slowdowns with their weight loss programs, so try some of the tips above and stick with it: you’ll be back on track in no time!

 

The Good, the Bad and the Healthy: 5 Ways to Cut Calories with Creative Cooking

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In order to maintain or lose weight, we can’t eat too many calories every day. Adding exercise can help us reach fitness goals faster, but if excessive amounts of fattening foods are being consumed, we will still gain unwanted pounds.

The good news is that there are many ways to cut calories and fat from our favorite dishes without losing the flavor. By making smart food choices and using cooking techniques that promote lean, healthy meals, it’s easy to create a nutritious, low-calorie menu the whole family can enjoy.

Below are 5 easy ways anyone can reduce the fat or calorie content of favorite foods without losing the taste:

 

1. Use Reduced Fat Dairy Products—

Many low-fat products replace the missing fat with sugar, which is naturally fat-free, but quickly processed into fat by the body, nullifying the point. But dairy products like light sour cream, skim milk and reduced fat cheese are usually processed without extras.

There will be a change in richness and texture, such as the difference between skim versus whole milk, but at least you’re not drinking additives. Pay special attention to what is added to coffee as well, because rich, high-calorie creamer every morning can add up.

One exception: Many yogurt makers add artificial sweeteners to reduced fat yogurt products. These unnatural chemicals aren’t good for anyone, and most nutritionists will tell you it’s better to eat the full-fat yogurt with wholesome ingredients than to swallow dyes, additives or fake sweeteners in the name of fewer calories.

 

2. Add Vegetables Whenever Possible—

In addition to being full of vitamins, vegetables are a great way to add fiber and satiety to any meal without high calories.

If you’re making an omelet, add diced vegetables like grilled onions, tomatoes or peppers. If you’re making meatloaf, load it up with mushrooms, finely diced zucchini or beans. Turn the chicken breasts and rice you were planning into a delicious, veggie-filled stir-fry.

By replacing fattening foods with filling, low-calorie vegetables whenever you can, you will automatically lessen your daily caloric intake.

 

3. Use Lean Cooking Methods—

Obviously fried foods are not on the daily menu for anyone who’s trying to maintain a healthy weight, but there are other ways to prepare food that will make it taste great while still being healthful.

By taking the skin off lean meats and marinating them before cooking to maintain tenderness, you can drastically reduce fat content. Broiling, grilling and baking meat dishes rather than cooking with oil and rich sauces can save calories as well.

Stir-frying or sautéing in a pan or wok works great if minimal oil is used, and steaming vegetables is an extremely low-calorie way to prepare vegetables. This can be done via microwave or saucepan, but a vegetable steamer is a wonderful investment for any kitchen that takes all of the work out of this cooking technique.

 

4. The Spice of Life—

Adding extra herbs, spices and flavorful vegetables used to season meals such as pepper, paprika, dill, shallots and garlic can really boost low-calorie foods, making up for the missing fat with intense flavor.

Savory seasoning can also help convince family members who are reluctant to make the switch to healthier versions of their favorites (such as exchanging ground beef for leaner ground turkey).

Cooking with basil, garlic and oregano can give a meal a delightful Italian edge. Spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric can add an exotic Middle-Eastern flair to a meal, along with beneficial antioxidants. And don’t forget that while they aren’t officially spices, vinegar and lemon juice can really brighten up a dish.

 

5. Remove the Visible Fat—

In addition to removing skin from poultry, be sure to trim the fat off the edges of every cut of meat you prepare, and drain the grease or extra oil from anything cooked in a pan before using.

Always select the leanest cuts of meat, and choose ground meats like turkey and beef with the lowest fat ratio available.

If something is grilled or broiled, yet still greasy, use paper towels to gently blot excess oil from the surface before serving. This may seem like a small thing to do, but small things add up to big calorie savings over time.

 

In addition to helping with weight maintenance, eating less fat can add up to major health benefits like reducing risk for: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Use the low-calorie cooking tips above to help your family stay healthy and happy, while still enjoying all the foods you love to eat.

Diet Riot: 5 Healthy Habits to Help Kick Extra Weight to the Curb

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Trying to lose weight can sometimes feel like a Sisyphean exercise in futility: We finally manage to push the scale down a few numbers, only to watch it slowly crawl back up. Occasionally we know exactly where the wrong dietary or lifestyle turn was taken, but often there seems to be no rhyme or reason.

Luckily, there are many ways to replace bad habits with healthier ones, keep track of what made the scale move up, and other things everyone can do to ensure that our best-laid exercise and diet plans yield great results.

Below are 5 tips to help keep weight loss efforts moving up the mountain of motivation without the frustration of backsliding down: 

 

1. Don’t Torture Yourself—

If you buy the junk food and salty snacks, you will eat them. You know this, and are only self-sabotaging if you buy them as an “occasional treat.”

We’ve all done this, fully aware that the many servings we’re visualizing that bag of chips providing will most likely end with an empty bag of chips eaten in one sitting, and a lot of self-loathing. Don’t do this to yourself. Why make it harder?

By keeping the empty calories out of the house and making it a major effort to acquire them, you’ll reduce your occasional treats to what they’re supposed to be, rather than an excuse to binge.

And if you’re absolutely dying for that chocolate bar, consider walking or biking to the nearest store for your craving to help burn off some of the calories before you even ingest them.

 

2. Become a Writer—

It can be painful to see it on paper, but it really helps to write down your current weight, weight loss goals and fitness plans in a journal; perhaps the one you use to document your daily caloric intake.

There’s something about writing things down that makes them feel tangible and official, creating accountability while motivating us to solve the problem.

Looking ahead to the weight and fitness finish line can also help you visualize yourself achieving goals, keeping you on-track during the process.

 

3. Do the Math—

It’s really important to figure out how many calories a person at your height and age should be eating to lose weight, because simply cutting down may not be enough.

Once you’ve figured out your daily caloric target (there are multiple websites online for this), your food journal will let you know if you need to make changes.

Many dieters become afraid to eat once they start to see results because they’re so excited about the weight loss. But eating too few calories per day slows down the metabolism, creating a demotivating plateau when the scale stops moving, so be sure to eat enough to keep your body burning fuel.

So remember that food is your friend, not the enemy. You can always fuel up on fiber-rich and naturally low-calorie foods like vegetables to make sure your metabolism keeps running at top speed.

 

4. Aim High with Exercise Goals—

No matter what your fitness level, you can find some form of exercise to start out with, such as walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike. Start slowly to work up without injury, and progress consistently.

But rather than setting a goal to exercise 4 times a week, why not aim higher and try to push yourself instead? Set that goal for 6 workouts a week, and really try to achieve it.

Not only will this make you more likely to exercise at least 4 times a week as originally planned, you might surprise yourself and do 6 workouts a week, with even faster fitness results. Bonus!

 

5. Gather your Group—

Get the people in your life that you trust to help you accomplish your fitness goals, and ask for their support, or even include them in your workout and diet regimen.

One of the main reasons professional weight loss companies succeed is because they gather like-minded people together to unite in a common goal, hold each other accountable, and motivate the group.

By creating your own group of friends to start a morning before-work boot camp, an after-work session at the gym, a running group, or any way you choose to exercise together, you will eliminate many of the days you might have decided you were too tired to work out.

Nobody wants to be the weakest link, and this healthy competition can really give your weight loss a push in the right direction. For example: Take a timer (or cell phone/app) with you and see who can do the most sit-ups before the alarm goes off. Or try to burn the most treadmill calories in the same amount of time. These kinds of friendly contests can make working out fun and more effective at the same time.

 

Be sure to get plenty of sleep and drink extra water, because both of these things can lead to a false sense of hunger, and use the 5 tips above to keep your fitness and weight loss program moving forward.

Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself if you have a setback, because one bad moment doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it simply means you’re human. Forgive yourself and keep going knowing that you can achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.