Category Archives for Nutrition

How to Eat Well, Be Healthy, and Look Great

If you were to ask most Americans about losing weight, they’d likely talk to you about eating less. This is a fair point, as weight loss often boils down to calories in against calories out. Bring in fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose more weight.

 

But many people will likely cite the inability (or unwillingness) to eat less as a reason for not losing weight. For whatever reason, they simply can’t find the personal disciple to eat half a burger or a smaller order of fries. That second helping of pizza is so easy; just drop it on your plate and off you go. An extra spoonful of pasta is hard to pass up when there are plenty of leftovers.

 

But what if you could lose weight without significantly cutting back on the amount you eat? What if you could maintain a filling, satisfying diet without cutting back on your portions? You can, but it all comes down to what you eat as well as how you eat…

 

How to Eat Well, Be Healthy, and Look Great

 

Breaking the Less-Food Myth: Choose Quality Foods Instead of Lowering the Total Quantity

There is little doubt among the scientific community that the quality of your food is just as, if not more, important than the quantity. For example, a study from researchers with Stanford University found that people who focus on eating vegetables and whole foods, and are not necessarily concerned with portions, are more likely to lose weight. Calorie counting and portion sizing have their roles in overall fitness, but this study suggest that they should take a back seat to the simple principle of eating quality foods. Interestingly, this strategy worked for people regardless of whether they were focused on low-fat dieting or low-carb dieting.

 

Dietary guidelines may have changed since you last looked at them, especially if you were in school twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.

 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, while calories matter, it may be time to focus on quality over calorie counting. So what constitutes quality foods? The article says that high-quality foods are generally minimally-processed and usually unrefined. This includes fresh produce, such as fruits and veggies, as well as whole grain breads and cereals. Healthy fats and healthy sources of protein should also be considered when creating a diet plan.

 

Lower-quality foods, as you might have guessed, are the ones that have, in general, gone through the most processing. For example, highly-processed snack foods, high-sugar beverages, white grains, and fried foods often go through a long process, and generally don’t resemble their original state.

 

One study cited by the Harvard article included over 120,000 men and women who were studied over the span of 20 years. The researchers found that weight gain was most commonly associated with eating potato chips, sugary beverages like soda, and red meat. On the other hand, veggies, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt were associated with weight loss.

 

The Low-Carbs or Low-Fat Battle: A Draw?

One of the articles we looked at above referenced the debate between low-carb and low-fat diets, which are often viewed as the solution to weight problems. However, research is starting to demonstrate that, from a weight-loss perspective, neither one has a particular advantage over the other.

 

According to research, which once again comes from Stanford University, neither the low-carb or low-fat diet is significantly superior over the other. The study was actually an effort to see if any specific biological factors impact the effectiveness of either low-carb or low-fat diets. In other words, researchers wanted to know if certain diets are better for one type of person than another, and if so, what are the factors that impact results.

 

The collected data showed many results, but most notably, it implied little difference for weight loss between a low-carb and a low-fat diet.

 

Lose Weight and Eat Your Fill by Heading to the Produce Section

Of all the foods we’ve talked about, is there one specific type that should be the foundation of our diets? While there is certainly a lot of healthy reasons to consume meat, it’s becoming clear that limiting meat consumption may be an effective way to reduce overall weight.

 

Studies now show that vegetarian diets are more effective for helping people lose weight. The study found that vegetarian diets are better for reducing fat content in the body than simply reducing calorie intake through other measures. Using a vegetarian diet can be twice as effective at helping you lose weight than maintaining regular meat consumption. Vegetarians not only lose weight, they reduce the amount of muscle fat in the diet, meaning their metabolism gets a boost too. The study focused on the implications for people with metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes, but the findings are important for the general population as well. The implication seem to be that if you can reduce meat consumption and have a vegetarian meal on occasion (or often), you’ll be more likely to shed the pounds, all without reducing the amount you eat.

 

Is there a Right, and Wrong, Time to Eat?

So we know that eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits is better than eating lots of meats and highly-processed foods, and we’ve seen that there is little difference between a low-carb and low-fat diets (for weight loss, at least), but what about the time of day? Assuming we eat the same amount, does eating right after you wake, before you sleep, or in the middle make a difference in overall health? Is there a best time to eat? According to the research that we’ve seen, yes there is.

 

A study grouped participants into two basic groups: early and late eaters. They looked at when the people in the study chose to eat the largest meal of the day, which in this case is the midday lunch, and studied their weight-loss rates for 20 weeks. The results found that people who ate late lunches (who were also more likely to skip breakfast) lost more weight. This suggests that, in addition to other strategies, the timing of your meal could impact overall weight loss.

 

There is also a debate of when to eat your biggest meal of the day. Should it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Another study found that consuming a larger meal early is often better for your overall weight loss. This study looked at two groups who consumed a 500-calorie lunch, but one had a 700-calorie breakfast and a light supper, while the other had a light breakfast and a 700-calorie supper. Despite the fact that the nutrient content was exactly the same, the results showed that the big-breakfast group shed over twice the weight (8.7 lbs vs 3.6) and reduced their waistline by over 4 inches.

 

Eating Frequency: Is there a Right Amount of Meals?

You’ve likely heard the theory that eating five smaller meals, instead of three regular meals, is more effective for losing weight. It’s been passed around so often, that many of us simply take it for gospel. But is there any truth behind this theory?

 

According to a study from the Harvard Medical School, there is a connection between more meals and less weight. The article says that there is scientific research verifying the theory that eating four or five meals a day could bring better weight loss results. Benefits to a high-frequency meal plan include a decrease in regular hunger, which prevents overeating. It also increases your chances to eat healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads. However, if you choose low-quality foods, such as sugary snacks or fatty, salty chips, you won’t benefit from the high-frequency plan.

 

Final Thought: You Can Lose Weight, No Matter Who You Are!

Whether you come from a family of large or skinny people appears to be irrelevant, or, at least, less relevant than you might think. Unfortunately, some people blame genetics for their heavy bodies and inability to lose weight. While there are certainly genetic factors that may make it harder to lose weight, research shows that genetics plays a small, virtually insignificant role in weight loss.

 

The study that we discussed earlier, which addressed low-fat vs low-carb diets, also found that genetics plays a small role in determining weight loss. This runs contradictory  to the messaging of some business that sell genetics-related approaches to weight loss. However, it appears that many in the scientific community are disputing the thought that there should be an entirely different weight loss plan for different types of people.

 

So while you may come from a family of large individuals, you can always lose weight. You don’t need fad diets, you don’t need specialized coaching, and you don’t need to starve yourself. As science and the experiences of many will demonstrate, it’s possible to lose weight by simply adjusting your daily routine and, more significantly, eating healthy, wholesome foods.

 

With the right approach, you can create a happier, healthier, more active you!

 

Foods That Help Metabolism

Boosting your metabolism is one of the commonly-discussed ways to increase overall weight loss. By making your body burn through foods faster, you increase your chances of loosing weight and keeping it off, which is essential to overall health for many reasons.

 

Everyone has theories about metabolism, but do you understand how metabolism works and how you can use it to your advantage? One of the ways to kickstart your metabolism is to eat the right foods, and there are many foods that not only taste great, but also increase your chances of loosing weight in a safe, healthy, and sustained manner.

 

Metabolism: A Brief Explanation

 

Before getting started, it helps to briefly talk about metabolism. Essentially, metabolism means how your body digests foods and burns calories. You may hear some people claim that they can’t loose weight because their body has a “slow metabolism.” They are basically saying that their body processes foods and burns calories too slowly, and the excess energy is then stored in the form of fat, usually around the belly.

 

It is true that each individual will have a different metabolism, but there are things that everyone can do, regardless of genetics, to boost their metabolism. Theories abound, including frequent small meals, enhanced hydration, and a focus on strength training.

 

But the foods you eat can have an impact on your overall metabolism as well, meaning you can, when done right, eat a hearty amount while still burning calories. Every weight-loss plan needs to include regular exercise, but these foods can increase you metabolism and (possibly) make you slimmer.

 

Understanding “Metabolic Syndrome”

One of the conditions we’ll mention in this article is metabolic syndrome. This is not a specific disease, but a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The syndrome can include many risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity, but it’s believed to be rooted in the body’s inability to properly utilize energy, leading to excess storage. Anyone with metabolic syndrome needs to be particularly diligent with their diet and lifestyle.

 

What Foods Help with Metabolism?

 

Green Tea

Few foods have such a positive reputation as green tea, and, among other theorized benefits, it’s also believe to boost your body’s metabolism. This theory is supported by a few different studies, including a study from researchers in Iran. In an attempt to discover the possible connection between certain doses of tea and metabolic factors, researchers worked with 63 type-2 diabetics, who all started the program with no green tea for two weeks. The subjects were then assigned random placement into four groups that had different daily intakes of tea: four cups a day, three cups, two cups, and a control group with zero cups per day. The results found that drinking four cups every day led to a significant reduction in weight and blood pressure.

 

Olive Oil

Olive oil, which is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, is also believed to improve metabolism in the body. Again, we can look to evidence for the connection between eating olive oil and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a strong metabolism. A study published in Nutrition and Metabolism found that replacing other oils and fats with extra virgin olive oil could have a cardio-metabolic effect in obese adults. This study randomized 41 overweight people into two groups, those who received corn oil, soybean oil, and butter for their foods, and those who received olive oil. Three months later, researchers measured blood pressure, biochemical, and immunological factors; those in the olive-oil group had better stats for both metabolism and immunological health.

 

Milk

Dairy isn’t usually considered a weight-loss food, but a study from the University of Tennessee claims that three to four servings of dairy foods, including milk, could “significantly increase weight loss.” This was a 24-week study that had adults on a reduced-calorie diet eating three or four servings of dairy every day. The group lost an average of 24 pounds, which was “significantly more” than another group in the study that cut calories but ate less dairy foods. The dairy foods in this study included milk, as well as yogurt and cheese.

 

Garlic

Garlic is a powerhouse of nutrition, with properties linked to enhanced immunity and fighting the aging process. Another attributed quality is garlic’s ability to enhance your metabolism. Garlic has a powerful taste, but adding even small amounts can increase the number of calories you burn during regular activity while decreasing your body’s tendency to produce and store fat. Adding garlic to some of your recipes, such as pasta or salads, could be the key to increasing your metabolism.

 

Dark Chocolate

Stress has been linked to a slower metabolism; in other words, the more you stress, the slower your metabolism works and the more fat you store. However, a study from German and Swiss researchers has found that dark chocolate, by reducing stress, can actually enhance metabolism. The study found that eating only 40 grams of dark chocolate (less than 1.5 ounces) over a two-week period is enough to create noticeable changes in a person’s metabolism.

 

Whole-Grain Products

Medical News Today has a report stating that whole grains, as opposed to refined flours, will deliver a superior diet. Not only does whole-grain food reduce the amount of calories consumed, it also speeds up metabolism. Whole-grain foods can include a wide variety of products, including certain types of rice, oats, barley, and wheat. As opposed to refined grains, whole grains have not been processed to remove bran and germ, which increases shelf-life but also reduces nutritional value.

 

Salmon

You will find lots of healthy seafood options, but when it comes to boosting your metabolism, salmon may be the best. Many cases of under-active thyroid, which is linked to low metabolism, are due to an inflammation in the gland. Salmon, fortunately, can have anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its high density of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is often believed to be better for weight loss than other seafoods, including cod.

 

Apples

Apple can reduce or prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition that includes a group of risk factors that combine to significantly harm your overall metabolism. A report from News Medical claims that people who eat apples, as well as apple-based foods like apple juice and apple sauce, have a 21% reduction in the chances of being diagnosed with the issue.

 

Vinegar

From cleaning the home to helping you lose weight, it seems like vinegar is one of the most effective household products in your cupboard. Vinegar is believed to have the ability to activate genes that release proteins, which in turn help breakdown fat in the body. A Japanese study found that overweight people who consumed vinegar had better body weight, BMI, and waist circumference, among other factors. Daily intake of vinegar could also be useful for reducing the chances of metabolic syndrome.

 

Beef

Iron is an important mineral for our metabolic systems, helping to catch oxygen for our muscles and binding oxygen for delivery to various organs. When you are looking for iron-rich foods, few are as good as beef. Although too much beef can have health consequences, eating a regular, moderate portion could be beneficial to your metabolism.

 

Spinach

Spinach is another food that is rich in iron, and it also has plenty of other healthy benefits. Adding spinach to your salad is a great way to boost your nutritional intake while also eating low-calorie meals.

 

Beans

Beans can have lots pf protein to help you maintain a healthy diet, and they can also be beneficial to overall weight-loss. This is supported by many studies, including research published in Nutrition & Metabolism, which found that eating beans could increase fat burning and prevent fat accumulation in the longterm by affecting how a body processes fats.

 

Coffee

Need a pick-me-up? Millions of Americans turn to coffee as their choice for a morning beverage or as a boost to get through the afternoon lull. However, you may want to consider coffer as a metabolism-booster as well. Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that drinking coffee may promote thermogenesis, which is the production of heat in the body. Thermogenesis takes energy, so drinking coffee could kickstart your body’s engine.

 

Food Preparation: Is there a Strategy to Increase Metabolism?

 

So we know what foods are good for boosting our metabolism, but is there a strategy for how we eat? Does the frequency or routine of our diet have any impact?

 

Can Meal Plans Impact Metabolism?

According to popular myth, eating multiple small meals, as opposed to three full meals, is a better daily plan because it keeps your metabolism running all through the day. However, research is indicating that meal frequency may not make a significant difference in overall weight-loss or the effectiveness of a diet plan. A study from the Netherlands and Germany found that, despite the hypothesis of researchers, frequency of meals did not lead to noticeable changes in body weight.

 

A Little Protein with Every Meal

A strategy for kickstarting your metabolism, or at least keeping it running, is to have a bit of protein with every meal. Protein helps build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. This is a result of the fact that simply maintaining muscles takes more energy than maintaining stores of fat. Simply having a portion of healthy meat, beans, or nuts with every meal could help keep your body strong and slim.

 

If you are going to harness your metabolism to decrease weight, remember to eat right, strategize, and maintain consistent exercise. Eating healthy foods that boost your metabolism will have you feeling better and give you more energy through the day!