Monday, July 25, 2011

The Trendy And Miraculous Low-Carb Diet!

Just like slim-fit jeans, animal prints or flashy nails, dieting is a trend! Every type of program has its 15 minutes of fame. And every advisor becomes a guru for a limited period of time. Atkins, Dukan, Zone diet,… are all part of the low-carbohydrates diets “à la mode”! Here’s the true story behind them!

What exactly is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb diet is a dietary program that restricts carbohydrate intake in order to induce weight loss. Foods that contain digestible carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta etc.) are limited. They are replaced with those that contain a higher percentage of protein and fat (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, fats and oils). Sugars and sweets are definitely out of the question.
The nature of the diet depends largely on the diet advisor. Some allow fruits and vegetables; others limit them until you reach a certain phase in the diet (this is the case of the Dukan Diet).

Why does it make me lose weight?

As you may have heard from your cousin, your neighbor or your friend, low carb diets are the fastest route towards weight loss. They can make you lose 30 kilos in 3 months (depending on your initial weight of course)! How?!
Normally, the energy your body needs is provided by 3 nutrients: carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. Glucose from carbohydrates is the body’s main source of energy. However, to the brain, the nervous system and red blood cells, it is the only one. It is stored as glycogen in the liver.
When glucose intake is low, your body starts using the glycogen stores. 24 hours later, when they become depleted, it turns to fat which will become the main energy provider. Since the latter cannot regenerate enough glucose to feed the brain, the organism will have to transform proteins into glucose for that purpose. Thus, you will be burning fat and using proteins as a source of energy.
Besides, you will be consuming protein-rich foods which have shown to be very filling. Add to that a limited range of choices in foods which decreases both your appetite and your energy intake!

It’s a great way to lose weight… so, why not?

There are many drawbacks to low-carb diets.

Accumulation of Ketone Bodies in the blood: The breakdown of fat produces a by-product called Ketone Bodies. Some of those by-products are used as a source of energy by certain parts of the brain; the rest stays in the blood. This will lead to a vitamin/mineral deficiency, loss of bone minerals, increased blood cholesterol, increased risk for kidney stones and impaired mood as well as bad breath, lightheadedness, headache and nausea.

Muscle loss: Your body does not store proteins even if you’re consuming a lot! So in order for them to be used as a source of energy, muscles will be broken down. Your metabolism will become slower which means you will be burning fewer calories during the day and the probability to regain the weight lost will go higher!

Nutritional deficiencies: Most of these diets do not allow consumption of fruits and vegetables. This will make it difficult for you to get adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, disease-fighting anti-oxidants as well fibers that protect from cardiovascular diseases, cancer of the digestive tract and constipation.

Fatigue: Usually, when glycogen stores are depleted, you start feeling tired. So imagine yourself having that feeling every moment of every day! Working out will become very difficult except for low intensity cardio trainings which already depend on fat as fuel.

Dehydration: Most of the initial weight loss is due to water being flushed out of your system. Therefore, when going back to a normal diet, you will witness a weight gain because of the restoration of normal water balance.

Same outcome as low calorie diets: Studies have shown that low carb diets induced a better weight loss after 6 months. However, no significant difference was noted after 12 months. In fact, it was proven that all weight loss programs led to the same weight on the long run. It seems weight loss success depends on the adherence to the diet and not the percentage of nutrients!

High risk of weight gain upon reintroduction of carbohydrates: Going back to a normal diet after reaching your ideal weight could be very critical. The introduction of carbohydrates should be done carefully and by a professional because you might gain back all the weight you lost and sometimes even more!

To be completely fair, I have to admit that a low carb diet can be considered as a diet therapy to some conditions such as epilepsy. But regarding weight loss I think that if those diets were entirely effective, the obesity problem would have been solved long ago!

The ideal diet is the one that provides all nutrients essential to your body’s well functioning. It is tailored to fit your own lifestyle and your own needs! After all, that’s what I’m here for! J


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keep it clean!

Shorts, t-shirt, flip flops and hair pulled up, it’s cleaning day!

Although all of us dread it, housework has proven to be quite effective in weight loss and body shaping. Believe it! 20 minutes of vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, cleaning the bathroom tub etc. can burn 70 to 80 calories!
So now, you can keep your house clean and your body fit at the same time!  


Monday, July 18, 2011

Raise Your Glass!

          You’re sitting on the beach during the day, enjoying a bottle of Rosé with your friends. At night you hit the club and a huge bottle of vodka is served on the table. You’re having the time of your life. And suddenly, you realize your belly is growing bigger and bigger! You know the reason why, but you can’t stop it. You can’t sacrifice the good times just so you can have that perfect body.

Well, even though drinking doesn’t really fit into a healthy lifestyle, you don’t have to give it up completely. You just need to integrate it smartly into your diet.

Why alcohol isn’t exactly the best choice
With 7 calories/g, alcohol is second to fat (9 calories/g). However, it is metabolized first in the body, ahead of burning fat; this is not desirable when on a weight loss program!
Moreover, most alcoholic drinks are high in calories but low in nutrients. They don’t have any nutritional value and that’s why we call them empty calories. Unlike alcohol, food provides you with vitamins and minerals essential to your body functions and with a satiety effect that lasts long.
Besides, drinking increases your appetite and that’s why you find yourself having that full fat “breakfast” at 4 in the morning!

Ways to cut down on your alcohol intake while enjoying yourself
Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Have an alcoholic drink followed by a diet soda or even a glass of water. It lets you reduce intake, prevents you from getting drunk and keeps you well hydrated.
Always choose spirits (vodka, whiskey, gin…) over cocktails. Cocktails are very rich in calories. They usually contain juices, syrups, liqueur… which are high in sugar. Besides they taste so good that you’ll finish them faster than a glass of whiskey on the rocks!
Here are the calories of a few cocktail drinks:
Pina Colada
Long Island
Bloody Mary
Mai Tai

Vodka, whiskey, gin and rum are the best choices for a drink. They don’t contain many calories and you can’t drink them so fast. In fact, 28g (the thickness of one finger in a short glass) of each contains 78 calories only! You can always add a diet soda or a sparkling water, calorie free!
You can also have a glass of wine for 120 calories or a beer for 150!
 Add ice every now and then…  When you feel like the ice in your drink is starting to melt, add a cube. This trick will help you stick with the same drink for a longer period of time. That way you won’t have to refill it more frequently. You will be saving yourself both the calories and the money!
 Vary your outings. The best thing you can do during a weight loss program is to limit your alcohol intake to weekends and try to find other non-alcohol related activities to do during weekdays: bowling, movies, watch a concert or a play…
 Integrate alcohol into your diet. Fix the maximum number of drinks you can have weekly and divide the calories throughout the week. For example, if you allow yourself 4 glasses of vodka per week, 2 for every outing, it gives you a total of around 320 calories. Divide them by 7 days. You will only have to reduce your daily intake of around 45 calories, which is not so hard to do!
Always relate the calories you’re having from a drink to the ones you can have from food! Think of the food you can consume for that amount of calories and you will then think twice before drinking excessively! In fact, a Long Island that you can sip in a maximum of 30 minutes provides 700 calories; whereas an entire meal can provide that same amount of energy with a satiety effect that lasts longer!

          Can’t enjoy a party without alcohol? Maybe! But all things are better in moderation! And even though you will be having a limited amount of drinks, remember: safety comes first so don’t drink and drive!



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Substitute instead of eliminating!

We all know that high fat, high sugar foods are unhealthy. However, eliminating them from your diet is NOT the solution. It will only get you to crave them even more. In order to make sustainable changes, you must substitute these foods with ones that are reduced in calories and low in fat. Believe me, they are not a myth! A can of regular coke has 140 calories and it tastes as good as the diet one that has only 3!

These lighter versions can save you a lot of calories and you might like them more than the original ones!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Wake up and smell the coffee... Or not?!

          Can you start your day without your regular dose of caffeine? I doubt that, because neither can I! Will it hurt us to skip that cup of coffee? We don’t know because none of us dare to. We don’t know because if we do, whatever happens will be blamed on that cup of coffee we didn’t drink. So what is the truth about caffeine? Where can we find it, how does it affect our state of mind and what if we withdrew from it?

          Caffeine is a substance found in coffee, tea, cocoa and other seeds. It is known for its anti-fatigue property. In fact, it is similar in structure to adenosine, a chemical found in the brain, responsible for slowing its activity. The competition between caffeine and adenosine makes the latter less available. Thus, it can heighten concentration and improve attention.
Within 30 to 60 minutes of consumption, caffeine reaches peak concentrations in the bloodstream and its effect lasts 4 to 6 hours; which explains why we start getting sleepy early in the afternoon!
          Presence of caffeine in the blood puts the body on “alert mode”. Therefore, it releases adrenaline, a “fight or flight” hormone, which has numeral effects: the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, muscles tighten up ready for action, the liver secretes glucose into the blood stream in order to provide fuel for the body and blood vessels constrict. In consequence, our muscles tense up and we feel excited!
It is important to know that every person reacts differently to caffeine and that the amount consumed is very significant.
Linking caffeine with headaches is very common although there isn’t one opinion on whether it causes or relieves the pain. Well, the truth is: it depends on the amount! Headaches are the pain caused by swelling of the brain’s blood vessels. By constricting them, caffeine may have a double effect. Drinking too much can trigger headaches on one hand. And on the other, small amounts may relieve the pain once it starts.

          For the accustomed, skipping morning coffee may provoke headache and fatigue, aggravate mental performances (inability to concentrate) and affect the mood (irritability). Analgesics such as aspirin can improve and eliminate the pain symptoms as can drinking a small amount of caffeine. In fact, this is only possible when the intake of caffeine is no more than 200 mg, whereas, when it exceeds 500 mg, the effects are reversed: it can lower the intellectual capacities.

          For all of you out there wondering about caffeine, it is fair to say that, like any other substance, it has good effects in moderate doses. Skipping the habitual intake may be uncomforting and in contrast, no benefit can come out of excess. So instead of whining about headaches and low moods just go ahead, have that cup of coffee and have along with it a very nice day!!



Saturday, July 9, 2011

40 calorie mini cupcakes!

- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Salt 
- 1 cup of fructose
- 2.5 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup of cocoa (the cocoa I use is very bitter so if yours is sweeter you might have to put 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of cocoa)
- 2.5 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 6 tsp milk
- 2 cups of hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Beat the eggs with the vanilla and salt in order to neutralize the egg flavor. 
Add the fructose and mix them. 
Then add the rest of the ingredients all together and beat!

Fill liners to 2/3 full of batter. Bake for around 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan then remove! 

This recipe should make you around 85 mini cupcakes!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

TRUTH OR MYTH - Sugar causes Diabetes

It is true that diabetics should consume sugar in moderation but that doesn't mean that the latter is the cause of the disease. In fact, Type 1 Diabetes is caused by genetics and triggered by unknown factors. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by genetic and lifestyle factors. However, you should note that excess sugar and/or fat leads to obesity which is considered as a risk factor for type 2 Diabetes. So, if you have a family history of the disease, it is recommended you follow a healthy eating plan and exercise regularly! 

Verdict: MYTH!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shake it!

You don’t enjoy exercising but you definitely LOVE dancing? 
Good news for you! 

Dancing is a fantastic form of exercise. Not only does it raise the heart rate through movement, dancing also tones and tightens the major muscle groups of the body. Depending on the type and intensity of dance, this can vary, but 20 minutes generally burns 90-100 calories! Go for moderate to high intensity dances such as hip hop, belly dancing, jazz, zumba etc… rather than slow intensity dances such as ballet! 

So clear the furniture, pump up the volume, never mind the neighbors: just shake it!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Delicious 300 Calorie Club Sandwich!

2 pain de mie breads (whole grain)
1 slice of turkey
2 slices of light mozzarella cheese
1 tsp light mayo and mustard
Side salad with one tablespoon of light sauce

Bon Appetit!



Friday, July 1, 2011

Best Things Come in Small Packages!

When you’re shopping at the supermarket, you often go for the big sized packages. That’s a very good economical strategy. However, when it comes to unhealthy snacks that you just can’t deprive yourself of, it would be smarter to go for the smaller package.

In fact, when we crave a certain food, we just need a small quantity to satisfy our craving. But we always go the extra mile! Therefore this small trick can help you limit the unnecessary additional calories. So the next time you just can’t help but opening that bag of chips, you will be consuming 150 calories instead of 500!

After all you don’t want to gain in calories what you’ve saved in money!