Tag Archives: what is the best diet

What are Probiotics and why do you need them?

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What are Probiotics and why do you need them?

The short answer:
Your gut is filled with bacteria, good and bad. Good bacteria aids digestion, boosts immunity, and combats a number of gut-related illnesses. Emerging research shows it may also impact weight loss and influence mood. Bad bacteria hampers good bacteria and can make you sick in an assortment of ways, oftentimes involving repeated trips to the bathroom.

The two fight constantly.

Probiotics contain good bacteria. You’ll find them either in supplement form or through real foods like yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. By taking them, you’re fortifying the troops. While they’re generally an excellent idea, they’re particularly important after you’ve had an infection or you’ve taken a round of antibiotics, because these things tend to wipe out the populations in your gut.

The long answer:
The therapeutic use of probiotics is an excellent example of ancient wisdom existing long before Western science could pull its head out. There are references to curdled milk in the Bible (Genesis 18:8 and Isaiah 7:15 if you’re keeping score), but the party really got started around the start of the 20th century when Nobel Prize–winning scientist Dr. Elias Metchnikoff reported that Bulgarian shepherds tended to live almost twice as long as urban Parisians where he was living. He pinned this on the formers’ intake of fermented milk, which he felt contained “good” and “anti-putrefactive” microorganisms.

It’s unclear how Metchnikoff made the connection between these two rather disparate groups, but it gave birth to the modern investigation of probiotics, so let’s not complain. For the last hundred plus years, science continues to discover more and more good things about the bugs living in our intestines.

The 100 trillion (give or take a trillion) bacteria that live in your gut can be divided into over 500 types. Many of the important ones fall into one of two genera, Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium. Under that, there are several species, many of which have specific benefits. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus has been shown to be especially effective in combating lactose intolerance and Montezuma’s Revenge (or “traveler’s diarrhea” if you want to be boring about it). However, unless you have a specific issue that you’re trying to address, you probably don’t need to stress about all the species.

Fun fact one: the bad bacteria you’re working to keep in check include Helicobacter pylori,Escherichia coli (E. coli), and salmonella.

Fun fact two: we’re born without bacteria in our guts, but the populating begins when we pass through the birth canal. Our first gasps of air provide yet more bacteria, as does breast milk, which is especially rich in probiotics.

It’s well-established that probiotic consumption helps with almost any intestinal issue you can think of, including constipation, lactose intolerance, GI infections, gas, diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, IBS, and IBD. It’s been shown to be effective in treating vaginal and urinary tract infections and atopic eczema. There’s also research showing probiotics may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

There are a few theories as to how this all happens. One is that good bacteria simply take up the space in the gut that the bad bacteria would take over. There’s also the fact that some good bacteria stimulate the immune system by promoting the release of various white blood cells that kill pathogens. A third idea is that many bacteria use the same fuel sources. For example, Clostridium difficile, which causes diarrhea and inflames the colon, is dependent on sugar—but so are many good bacteria. It all comes down to balance. If you have plenty of good bacteria in your gut, they’re going to dominate the monosaccharide buffet.

Look beyond GI issues, and current science on gut bacteria and probiotics gets even more amazing. A Washington University study on identical twins—one overweight and one thin—showed that they had entirely different gut microbiota, suggesting certain bacteria in your system promotes weight gain. (A separate UC Berkeley study suggests the evolutionary reason for this is that people in northern climates need more body fat, so their gut bacteria actually shifts to promote weight gain.)

But if you think popping the right probiotics will soon be the key to dropping pounds, don’t get too excited. Yet another study on mice shows that “weight loss bacteria” doesn’t seem to thrive on a high in saturated fat, low-fiber diet. However, they tend to propagate when fed a diet filled with fruits and veggies.

Researchers are also looking seriously into the gut-brain axis. In other words, those little bugs in your belly might actually have a say in your decision-making process. For instance, gut bacteria produce 95% of your serotonin, a powerful “feel-good” neurotransmitter.

And a Texas Tech University study on mice found that feeding mice the bad bacteriumCampylobacter jejuni drove up their anxiety levels.

So, yes, you should consume probiotics. How many depends on your situation. Antibiotics wipe out the microbes in your gut, so a supplement is an excellent idea after a round of those. Beyond that, if you have a gut-related issue, it’s worth researching which probiotic might help and supplement thusly.

Quality probiotic supplements can be pricey though. For most people, a solid diet filled with probiotic foods should do the trick. (For the record, Shakeology contains Bacillus coagulans, an especially hearty probiotic that can survive at room temperature when many probiotics require refrigeration.)

Yogurt is also a great source. However, it’s important to read the label. The bacteria that make the flavor and texture that Western society considers yogurt can’t survive the voyage through our GI tract, so manufacturers enhance the stuff with other strains, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Kombucha, or fermented tea, is another great probiotic food that’s especially trendy right now. It may take a while to learn to appreciate its tangy taste, but it’s worth it. Another benefit of kombucha is that it’s incredibly simple to make.

Beyond that, there are tons of other foods out there that are technically probiotic, including tempeh, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, and various cheeses. Unfortunately, these foods are often heated or pasteurized in such a way that kills the bacteria, so check on the label to verify if the probiotics are still active. Another option is to seek out a boutique producer who deliberately maintains the bacteria in their foods. Or you might want to make them yourself.Sandor Ellix Katz’s The Art of Fermentation is an excellent resource for your bacterial DIY needs.

On a final note, remember that fruit and veggie thing a few paragraphs up? Well, it applies to all the benefits of probiotics. Gut bacteria thrives on certain foods called prebiotics, so it’s crucial to make them part of your diet. Foods especially high in prebiotics include asparagus, onion, leek, garlic, artichokes, oats, and bananas. Yacon root, which you’ll find in Shakeology, also contains prebiotics.

So make prebiotics and probiotics a cornerstone of your diet because if you’re good to all those little bugs in your gut, they’ll return the favor tenfold.

Ready to try adding some amazing probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, and whole-food nutrition to your diet? CLICK HERE!

How to Lose Weight, Not Muscle

 

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Losing weight and gaining muscle can often seem at odds. You’ve heard the classic advice: If you want to shed pounds, you have to eat fewer calories while burning more of them. If you want to gain muscle, you have to do just the opposite, increasing your caloric intake while working your muscles hard. So is it possible to attack the two most popular fitness goals at the same time? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Just follow these three simple rules.

 

Skip the Long Runs
If you want to lose fat, don’t go the aerobic route, say researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Louisiana. Their study comparing the weight-loss results of people who did aerobic workouts while dieting with those who only dieted found that steady state cardio (think: jogging, stationary cycling, rowing) added almost nothing to the weight loss equation. When it comes to shedding pounds, you want to be the hare, not the tortoise: A 2011 Australian study found that shorter, tougher workouts (e.g., sprints, intervals, high-intensity strength circuits) consistently resulted in significant fat loss. Added bonus: Working out at a high intensity specifically targets abdominal fat—the most insidious kind that wraps around your internal organs, increasing the size of your belly and your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

 

Don’t Starve Yourself
If you want to lose fat, you have to cut your caloric intake. But if you also want to also maintain (or even build) muscle, cutting a little works better than cutting a lot, according to Norwegian scientists. Their study found that strength-training athletes who cut calories by 30 percent saw no change in muscle mass, but those who cut calories by just 19 percent were able to increase their muscle mass while also leaning out. Shoot for losing no more than 1 percent of your bodyweight—or roughly 1 to 2 pounds—per week, suggest the researchers.

 

Prioritize Protein
You need protein to build muscle. If you want to lose fat at the same time, you may need even more: A 2016 study found that overweight men on an intense fitness routine and a calorie-restricted diet were able to gain muscle over a 4-week period—but only if their protein intake was high. Protein should make up slightly more than one-third of your total caloric intake. Don’t want to do the nutritional math? Eyeball it: Meat, fish, poultry, and other protein should take up about a third of your plate at each meal.

If you’re ready to join the 14 day FREE clean eating group, click here!

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Authors

Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP

Will alcohol keep me from reaching my fitness goals?

 

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Ask the Expert: Will Drinking Alcohol Hurt My Results?

By Steve Edwards

When it comes to getting fit and healthy, alcohol is one of the first things you’re told to eliminate from your diet. Yet studies regularly show that those who drink live longer and healthier lives than those who don’t. So, what’s the deal? Is alcohol a magic potion for a long and healthy life, or is your fitness the only thing it’s going to take the edge off?


Woman Sunning Near a pool with a Glass of Wine


The consumption of alcohol in some form or another has been around since the first caveman left some fruit in the sun too long, causing it to ferment (what a crazy night around the fire that was). Since we’ve always had it and, if history is any indication, we always will, we should have a strategy about how to use it.

What is alcohol?

Alcohol starts out healthy enough, as a plant, where it’s the byproduct of the decaying process (fermentation). Although it’s technically a depressant, its effect on the human body manifests as making you feel giddy, powerful, and awesome on the dance floor. And because it’s natural, you know, like tobacco and opium, it’s got to be good, right? Oh, wait. Maybe not.

And just like other natural things, the food industry has found unnatural ways to create alcohol that tend to be cheaper and even less healthy. But, I’m nitpicking because ultimately alcohol is alcohol. You’re going to get hammered whether you drink Night Train or single-malt Scotch—although all the chemicals in the rotgut might give you a worse hangover.

Glass of LiquidAnd for you out there who think you’re beating the system with your Diet Coke® and rum, alcohol has calories. A lot of them. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol has more calories by volume than both carbs and proteins and slightly less than fats. (Plus, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine,1 drinking diet soda with alcohol could get you drunk faster.)

More importantly, these calories have no food value. That’s right. Nada. Zilch. You’re adding calories to your diet, the only performance enhancing quality of which is to help you brag about yourself down at the pub.

The big question people usually ask me is whether or not they should drink alcohol while doing P90X®, INSANITY®, or one of our other boot camp–style programs. When you’re trying to change your body, the crux is making the nutritional switch from high-calorie/low-nutrient foods to low-calorie/high-nutrient foods. Since alcohol is a very high-calorie/no-nutrient food, you can see why it never ranks very high onMichi’s Ladder.

Keep in mind that we’re not telling you to abstain from alcohol forever. We’re advising you cut down on it—or completely cut it out—while you’re trying to transform your body.

What about all the studies showing alcohol is good for you?

The lifestyle studies that show up on the wires almost ubiquitously champion alcohol consumption because moderate drinkers always outlive everyone else. In fact, one major study showed that even excessive drinkers lived longer than teetotalers. There is no scientific surface explanation as to why this would be the case, so most experts chalk it up to lifestyle. Those who drink tend to be less stressed about life, in general, and stress is intricately linked to shorter life spans.

This is why our nutrition guides also generally give parameters for moderate drinking. If it makes you happy then, by all means, don’t quit. Just learn to be a healthy drinker.

But as I said above, when you’re doing one of our programs, the rules of nutrition shift slightly. You’re pushing your body harder, so it behooves you to keep nutrition tiptop. Furthermore, if you can’t go 90 days without a drink, you might want to consider your relationship with alcohol. It is, after all, an addictive substance.

The Dark Side of Drinking

And on that topic, alcohol has a dark side beyond calories. It can easily lead to an excessive path. If you’re a clever writer, you might make a nefarious career out of being a boozer, but it wreaks havoc on most of us.

Behavioral issues aside, let’s take a quick look at how alcohol can add up from a dietary perspective. A 12-ounce beer is about 150 or so calories. Ditto a 5-ounce glass of wine. One shot (1.5 oz) of the straight stuff has between 85 and 115 calories, depending on what proof it is.

Man Lying on the Floor next to a Glass of LiquidUnfortunately we tend to have more than that one serving. Often a lot more. Those longevity studies give the best numbers to folk who have 1–2 drinks a day, not those taking the Silver Bullet Express to every sporting event on TV.

When you pound a twelver during a weekend double-header, you’ve done serious dietary damage. Factor in that in our tendency to offset a drunken state-of-grace with greasy indulgences and it’s easy to see how Monday Night Football® at Cheers might result in unnecessary roughness. And despite the advice you’ll get on Good Morning America®, a quick jog the next day is not going to fight the beer belly you’ll get from those binges.

So the short answer here to whether it’s okay to drink when you’re working out is, “Sure. In moderation.” If you don’t already drink, I don’t think you need to start, but if you’re already a drinker, limit your intake and take the occasional time off, especially if you’re into a serious training cycle.

Do that, and I’ll raise a glass to you!

 

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Leptin, Hormones, Hypothalamus, and Resetting Your System

 

What is Leptin?

So…this might be a lot for you all to take in: Leptin, hormones, hypothalamus, immune system, thyroid, weight loss / gain, energy levels, nutrition, health, fitness. Yes, it’s all intertwined.  I believe that most people know this to be true, yet few are willing to do much about it.

I’m taking part in a 6 Day Reset – where I am addressing my health at a hormonal level.  It’s more than just being healthy on the outside (weight, muscles, endurance and such). It’s also about being healthy on the inside (energy, mental state, and brain function).

Click HERE to get more information on the 6 day reset.

leptin, hormones, energy, hypothalamus, brain function, weight loss, hormones, thyroid

What is Leptin?

The short answer is: it’s a hormone that comes from your hypothalamus.  If you remember, the hypothalamus is something that I’ve been researching and teaching about for over two years now.  It’s what regulates your hunger, thirst, mood, relationships, and sleep.  That’s sums up who we are, doesn’t it? The hypothalamus is regulated by glucose and sends out hormones to the rest of our system.  Leptin is created there…in the hypothalamus.  Read more about my findings and beliefs concerning the hypothalamus here.

Read more about Leptin herehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptin I’ve spent most of my day researching this for you. Basically – it’s the hunger hormone. It tells us when we are full.  It regulates appetite to achieve energy homeostasis. In obesity, a decreased sensitivity to leptin occurs, resulting in an inability to detect satiety despite high energy stores.

The purpose of Day 2 of the 6 Day Reset is to fix this imbalance or decreased sensitivity.  We need to reset our brain…don’t think “I have no will-power” or “I just can’t seem to put the fork down,” think “what’s going on in my brain that is making me keep eating?”  The thing is, it’s an addiction.  It has to do with dopemine and our nutrition.

What peripheral systems (non-Hypothalamus) does Leptin effect?

Circulatory, reproduction, bone, brain (hippocampus), and the immune systems are affected by Leptin in a variety of ways. Wikipedia says, “…, chronically elevated leptin levels are associated with obesity, overeating, and inflammation-related diseases, including hypertensionmetabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.”  

Thyroid, gut, heart, brain…what else is there? This stuff is for real, and it’s important to not develop a decreased sensitivity to Leptin…and if you already have, there’s a chance to reset!

You need to RESET your relationship with FOOD

How? If you specifically fight belly fat, it very well could be something as simple as too much fructose in your diet.  Fructose? That’s the stuff in FRUIT.  That’s what makes fruit sweet.  Can you get too much? Yes and no. The interesting thing I just discovered is that about 60% of adults have difficulty processing sugar from fruits: FRUCTOSE.  And the thing is, it’s added to a lot of processed food.  First: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Yes, that’s right. That’s why people were taught to believe that HFCS was “good” for you – the sugar comes from fruit, so it can’t be all that bad, right?  Well, if you’re not burning off that extra fructose, or if you have trouble processing it on your own, it WILL turn to fat.

Here’s how to reset your sensitivity to Leptin:

  1. Stop eating fruit for three days.  No sugar, no fruits, no added fructose, no sweets.  Try to keep your fructose levels to less than 20 grams per day.  Some veggies (true veggies, not tomatoes) will still have some fructose.  That’s okay.  But stick to true veggies.  True veggies are foods without seeds (this is debatable, but just for now, humor me).
  2. Eat protein with your first meal.  Eggs, meat, tofu, etc.  Give it a go.  If you need ideas of high-protein foods, just Google it!
  3. Eat at least one pound of vegetables eat day…for three days. Again, real vegetables are key here.
  4. Increase the good fats: coconut oil, fish, avocados, olives.
  5. Eliminate alcohol for three days.

You can always look into Leptin food lists, hormones in the body, and fructose intolerance.  The findings are interesting.  You can get lost in the research, but if you believe that you have these issues…it’s worth the look.

It is important to know that everyone is different. While some will respond very well to this reset, some will need an extra boost.  Ask me for more information on Leptin, the hypothalamus, and how nutrition can reset your entire system.

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Diet Pills

 

The truth about diet pills

I’m coming from experience in wanting to shed some unwanted weight quickly.  I gained 75 pounds with my first pregnancy…and eventually lost most of it.  I got all but 5 or so off.  That being said – I had started off at 103 pounds.  At 5’2″ – that’s a good weight for me.  So…I got up to 178ish. AND… that was in 1997! So, I was in my early 20s, worked out 5 times a week, lived off of popcorn and margaritas, and just lived life.  After getting pregnant, I ate everything I could. Five or six slices of pizza was not an issue. I was pregnant, for Pete’s sake! I was eating for two! I kept peanut butter and jelly mixed together in the fridge for a quick fix.  I kept melted ice cream and peanut butter mixed together in the fridge for a midnight snack. I drank juice like it was going out of style. And – I ate a lot of everything! But – that was 17 years ago.  Fast forward to pregnancy number two: I was almost 30 now, weighed in at about 110, and was determined not to balloon up to 180. However…although I ate fairly well, got some exercise, and tried to not indulge…I STILL got up to 180! 180 on a small frame is a lot! I was in pain. My hips and legs kept me from every being comfortable.  Still, I lost most of it…getting down to about 112.  Not to shabby.  Then…I turned 35.  I started gaining without being pregnant! With two kids and a full-time job, I didn’t have time to exercise (or so I believed) and I was stress eating all of the time.  So, I got up to 140.  Otherwise healthy, the weight just wouldn’t come off. I had all of my systems tested…and they seemed to be working fine.  I was just getting fat.

Then…baby number three at 39 years old.  And yes…I got up to 180 again! Even though this time, I knew I would have trouble getting it off – I gained weight like it was nothing!  After the baby…I was determined to get back to 140 – at least. So I did. Then I got down to 130ish. But – I could not lose any more.  I looked at diet pills – but my husband wouldn’t let me try any.  I thought about sneaking them, but if something bad were to happen, no one would know. I needed to get my blood sugar, my weight, my moods, and my sleep back under control.

My husband and I decided that I wouldn’t take any fad diet pills. That I should stay away from all of the dangerous options out there:

Concerning ingredients to watch for in diet pills:

Ma huang/ephedra/ephedrine/pseudoephedrine – Ma huang, a species of ephedra, frequently contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which can affect the nervous system and result in high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, stroke or death. Ephedra has been banned in the U.S.

Bitter orange/synephrine – Bitter orange contains a chemical called synephrine, which is similar to ephedra and can cause increased heart rate, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, high blood pressure, fainting, heart attack and stroke.

Sibutramine – Sibutramine is a powerful stimulant that may significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, arrhythmias or strokes, in addition to causing a long list of side effects. It was removed from the market in 2010. Several weight-loss drugs have been found to be illegally spiked with sibutramine.

Fenproporex – Fenproporex is a stimulant not approved for use in the U.S.; it is converted to amphetamine in the body and may cause heart arrhythmias and possibly even sudden death. It may also be addictive.

Phenolphthalein – Phenolphthalein is an ingredient that was in some laxative products until 1999, when the FDA declared that it was “not generally recognized as safe and effective.” It has been found to be a hidden ingredient in several weight-loss pills.

There are lots of scary stories out there: people die!

Best diet / Quick weight loss

What is the best diet for quick weight loss? No such thing.  Think of diet NOT as a way to lose weight, but as a way of eating. Eat for nutrition…eat for energy…eat for health.  With healthy eating, hard work, exercise, and some will-power, I did it.  I might not ever get down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I’m happy where I am right now.

I work out for 30 minutes a day, I juice, I eat right, I feed my family right, and I occasionally cheat with chocolate and peanut butter…but that’s okay.

Fast weight loss diets don’t work…they won’t last…you can’t sustain the requirements.  Think of the best diets to lose weight fast as the best way to gain back fast…the best diets to set yourself up for failure.  Rethink diet! Eat real foods, exercise, and stop eating sugar.

As for diets that claim to work fast…for real. I challenge you to stop eating sugar, processed foods, and junk for two weeks.  See how much weight you can lose.  Stop eating chips, fast food, restaurant food, cheap breads, snacks, and soda…even diet soda…for two weeks.  You’ll drop pounds. I promise.

Thankfully, a well balanced diet requires none of those ^^ ingredients.  If you are looking for quick weight loss, the best diet… join us on our next Clean Eating Challenge.

You can do it, too!

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14 Day Clean Eating Challenge!

 

The Best Diet … Counting Calories

 

Counting Caloriescounting calories, best diet, plexus slim, healthy diet, weight loss, how many calories are in,

Counting calories can be very complicated. There are so many things that go into figuring out how many we are supposed to have daily, how much each activity burns, and the “good vs. bad” calorie…where do we even start?

Calorie Counting through the Ages

Although it may seem like you’ve been counting calories forever…it’s a relatively new idea.  Around the beginning of the 20th century, scientist Wilbur Atwater created a machine that burned and measured food ashes to find out how much energy was released and how much energy was in the food. This was the beginning of a calorie – and counting them.

Is there a difference between different types of calories?

Pretty much, a calorie is a calorie.  Some foods might make you feel fuller – so you will consume fewer calories, but overall – the energy needed to burn the calorie is the same.  A calorie of celery is the same as a calorie of chocolate.  Common sense tells us that there is a lot more celery in one calorie than chocolate. Carbohydrates and proteins have four calories per gram. Fats have nine calories per gram. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram.

Eating foods high in fat – or drinking alcohol will cause you to use up your calorie allotment much quicker. Say you eat eggs and bacon, with a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast…and you’re wanting to lose weight by only consuming 1200 calories per day…you’ve used up most of your calorie intake by 8:30 am.

  Where “a calorie is a calorie” doesn’t apply

Different foods product different effects on the body – some foods cause the body to release hormones that say store fat…some say release sugar…some say build muscle. Different proportions of fat, carbs, and proteins will result in different amounts of lost weight.

Why It’s Hard to Keep Count of Calories

 Most Americans claim to count calories – however most calculate incorrectly. People either have no idea how much calories they need daily or how much they are actually consuming.  We need about 2,000 calories on average to maintain life.  If you consume more calories than you burn – you are going to gain weight.

Restaurant entrees and bigger portions make it more difficult to gauge the calories in a meal. For example – most people are able to guess about how many calories are in an egg or an apple. But, lasagna, apple pie, omelets, and a cheeseburger? People greatly underestimate the calories of these dishes.

Calorie Counting Alternatives

Start counting calories burned for workouts.  We usually pay attention to our heart rate, time, or distance during exercise.  We should look at how many calories we are burning.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to get on the treadmill for 30 minutes.” We should say, “I’m going to get on the treadmill until I burn off 300 calories. (which is a soda and an extra slice of cheese on a sandwich)”

Here are some tips on what to do instead of counting calories:

  • eat smaller portions. 
  • choose foods that use more calories. (high-fiber, protein foods)
  • make sure you consume the right kind of calories. (nutrient rich foods instead of sweets and alcohol)

Don’t worry so much about counting calories. Consider making your calories count!

What can you do if you’re convinced that counting calories is the way to go? Read this!

What is the best diet…Gluten Free Diet

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What is the best diet…Gluten Free Diet

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (which is a cross between wheat and rye).

A gluten free diet is typically used by those with Celiac disease. Those affected by Celiac disease will have inflammation in the small intestines if they consume gluten – which will cause all sorts of problems.

While only about 1% of the population has true gluten allergies or Celiac disease, we spend between $4m and $10m per year on gluten-free products. It has become a new trend to eat Gluten-free as a dieting lifestyle – but basically it is the avoidance of carbs that help with weight control.

More on what gluten is…here

It is my belief that gluten is way overused in our diets. I also feel that we would all benefit from cutting way back on gluten products – and all flour products. They are mostly highly processed foods that offer little nutrition. Instead of breads and pastas, eat fruits and veggies.

With the new trend in gluten-free dieting, I wanted to address gluten free as a weight loss tool. I do feel that going carb-free (which would included eliminating gluten) is a valid diet tool, being just gluten free AS A WEIGHT LOSS AID might not be the best choice.

Eating gluten free pancakes and gluten free brownies will not help you lose weight.

Gluten Free diet

***Diet details

This post is going to discuss gluten-free as a weight / health choice…not a medical necessity. Meaning, I’m not talking about those that MUST not eat gluten because of an allergy, but those who choose not to eat gluten for health and weight loss reasons.

If you’re just starting with a gluten-free diet, it’s a good idea to consult a dietitian or physician who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Foods you can eat that are gluten-free
Many healthy and delicious foods are naturally gluten-free:

  • Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products

The key word here is fresh. Make sure that the foods you eat are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives. If you are going “gluten-free” just to stay away from carbs, you’ll have to be careful: there are a lot of grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet. And, those gluten-free products don’t have fewer calories. People think that by going gluten-free that they are going to lose weight. That might be true, but if you just substitute gluten for other flours and starches – you’re going to consume the same amount of calories and maybe more sugar.

If by gluten-free, you mean low carb…that’s different. Check out this reference to a low-carb / no carb lifestyle.

Things to avoid while Gluten-Free

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup bases
  • Vegetables in sauce

So…bottom line is that while there are a few (1%) of the population that require gluten-free, the overall health of specifically gluten-free is still out for debate. Carb free…processed food free…sugar free…those things are valid lifestyle changes that are good for your health, good for your body, good for your mind, and good for your weight…

But, gluten-free specifically just to be gluten-free? That’s a fad that will die away before too long.  You’d be better off just staying away from all refined sugar and flour all together.

And remember when the United States went “fat-free” in the late 1980s?  The food industry just started replacing animal fat with vegetable fat and sugars.  That small switch actually did way more harm than good.

 

What is the best diet…The Biggest Loser Diet

 

What is the best diet?

In my review of different diets and eating lifestyles, I’ve come across several interesting diets…some that claim far-fetched results, and some that are just common sense.  The Biggest Loser Diet is under the common sense category.

The Biggest Loser Diet

The idea behind the Biggest Loser diet is to spend six weeks of eating healthy and exercising regularly.  This is a great way to lose some weight, but also a great way to kick-start some permanent lifestyle changes.  Cutting the risk of cancer, diabetes, poor immune system, dementia, and heart disease…this is a perfect way to look at nutrition and body health.

The Basics Behind The Biggest Loser Diet

Just like with every healthy eating plan – the biggest loser diet claims that we eat too much bad food, not enough good food, and we don’t move around enough. This diet recommends to eat regular meals that emphasize filling calories from fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and whole grains; practice portion control; use a food journal; and get up off the sofa.

How does the Biggest Loser Diet work?

The actual Biggest Loser Diet starts with the purchase of a book. There are several to choose from, but they are all mostly the same. They include success stories and menu development help, and exercise suggestions.

Will you lose weight on the Biggest Loser Diet?

If you stick with the diet plan – you shouldn’t have trouble losing weight.  Just like most successful diets: this one is based on fewer calories in and more calories out.

Sample The Biggest Loser Menu

The “real” diet is for six weeks. The lifestyle changes are supposed to be forever…but there are shorter and longer versions available.  From http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/plans/the-biggest-loser-7-day-diet-plan/ - here’s a sample of one day’s menu:

Just because you’re not a contestant on the show doesn’t mean you can’t win your own weight-loss battle at home. To help you get started, we asked The Biggest Loser nutritionist Cheryl Forberg, RD, to design this seven-day meal plan, which is just like the one that helps the competitors slim down. With delicious recipes and easy tips, you’re sure to lose weight in no time.

Monday

This is no deprivation diet: You’ll eat three meals and two snacks daily, plus each dish packs a filling balance of 45 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 25 percent healthy fats. When it comes to drinks, Forberg recommends sticking to no- and low-cal picks like coffee, tea, and water. And to accelerate weight loss, The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper suggests doing 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise four times a week. So get motivated, get started, and get ready to watch your weight drop!

Breakfast
1/2 cup egg whites scrambled with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon chopped basil, 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan, and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 slice whole-grain toast
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup skim milk

Snack
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt topped with 1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Lunch
Salad made with 3/4 cup cooked bulgur, 4 ounces chopped grilled chicken breast, 1 tablespoon shredded low-fat cheddar, diced grilled veggies (2 tablespoons onion, 1/4 cup diced zucchini, 1/2 cup bell pepper), 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro, and 1 tablespoon low-fat vinaigrette

Snack
2 tablespoons hummus and 6 baby carrots

Dinner
4 ounces grilled salmon
1 cup wild rice with 1 tablespoon slivered toasted almonds
1 cup wilted baby spinach with 1 teaspoon each olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and grated Parmesan
1/2 cup diced cantaloupe topped with
1/2 cup all-fruit raspberry sorbet and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts

To me, that seems like a lot of food. I usually stick around 1000 – 1500 calories per day, but of course, I don’t get the 60 – 90 minutes of recommended exercise 4 – 6 days a week – so I will need fewer calories.  The food does look yummy!

Have you tried this diet? Any feedback?

 

What is the best diet…Raw Food Diet

 

Raw Food Diet

So, here is the fourth entry…Raw Food Diet. Don’t forget to look back at the VLCD, no-carb, and Frequent Small Meals diets to get a full review of your options.

Raw Food Diet

raw food, raw food diet, best diet, diet review

How it works: 

The Raw Food diet is pretty self-explanatory. Believers and followers eat only raw foods. To be considered raw – the foods you eat must not have been cooked, microwaved, heated about 115 degrees F, genetically engineered, treated with herbicides or pesticides, or processed in any way.  Foods naturally have vitamins and minerals that they body uses to build new cells - and the theory is that cooking and processing food kills the integrity of the food.  Many raw food dieters are vegan (which means they don’t consume ANY animal products: butter, cheese, milk, meat, gelatin, etc). However, some will consider eating raw milk, fish, and certain kinds of raw meat – although eating raw milk and meats / fish is a risk of a different matter.

Does the Raw Food Diet help to lose weight?

Typically, following the raw food diet will result in weight loss simply because fewer calories are consumed overall – no carbs, no chips, no soda, no candy, no ice cream, no cake, no cookies, no lunch meat, etc. Since everything is fresh – and needs to be planned out ahead of time, there is very little chance of random snacking from a vending machine or at a party / office food event. You’ll just have to pass on everything.

Does the Raw Food Diet help with overall health?

I think the answer to this question is obvious. Yes…eating whole foods free of additives and artificial junk is tremendously important to your overall health and wellness. This doesn’t just apply to your body (weight, health, disease fighting, etc) but also applies to your mind and mental health. Eating REAL food keeps your brain working better. Remember – what you eat is what creates cells to replace old and dead cells.  If you are replenishing cells with processed food – it’s just not going to work the same as a cell replenished with natural food.

Pros of the Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet is super trendy. It’s the cool thing to do these days: eating organic, whole foods…it’s a definite conversation starter.  People tend to use this as a way to be better than their counterparts. Especially if they can get their kids to eat raw food diets as well.

An option that some are doing is the mostly raw food diet…or the raw food diet detox / cleanse - eating raw foods for a few weeks every so often to jump-start a weight loss, detox after a while of “bad” eating, or just as a cleanse.  That might be easier for most to handle.

Cons of the Raw Food Diet

Rare food dieting is the opposite of convenient. Buying and preparing fresh food is time consuming…even if there is no actual preparation – finding, sorting, storing, washing, cutting, and storing again is work. There are few raw food restaurants available – and while most grocery stores have organic foods, the selection isn’t close to that of processed, treated, GMO foods.

For those with a family – getting the whole family on board is a trick. Even just getting a husband to eat raw is difficult, but with kids it’s virtually impossible to shield them from the outside world of “un-whole” foods.  Not to mention party planning, celebrations, holidays, etc.

Besides the planning and coordinating aspect…it’s very expensive.

 

What’s the best diet… Very low-calorie diet?

 

Weigh-in …

what is a very low-calorie diet?

 

Low-calorie dieters usually consume between 800 and 1,500 calories daily. The normal recommended calorie consumption is 2,000 (that’s an average). I generally consume around 1200 – 1500 calories per day – with light exercise – just to maintain my weight. I’m 5’2 and currently weigh 120 (that’s a size 4 / 6).

What are low-calorie diet plans?

There are two types of low-calorie diets. One is where you purchase the foods from a store or on-line – the daily package is all you are allowed to eat.  The packaged kind of very low-calorie diets are usually a powder shake that provides all of the nutrition required. Also, carbs may be also very low, or absent all together.

The other type is where you survive on eating the same types of low-calorie foods every day, all day (the grapefruit diet, the green bean diet, etc).  This is not normally the kind of dieting that is supervised by a medical professional. These are not usually nutritionally complete and should be avoided.

Very low-calorie diets are not to be confused with over-the-counter low-calorie meal replacements.Those are shakes or bars that replace one or two meals daily – resulting in a lower caloric intake than normal.

How Effective Are Very Low-Calorie Diets?

If you are considered obese – which is a BMI over 30, then a very low-calorie diet may let you lose about 3 to 5 pounds per week, for an average total weight loss of 44 pounds over 12 weeks. Calorie restricting – when done with commitment and consistency – is very effective at weight loss.

One pound is the equivalent of 3500 calories – so in order to lose 2 pounds per week – you will be cutting out 7,000 calories. Extra weight will come off at the beginning because of water weight as well.

After the weight loss goals are met – it is easy for people to go back to eating as before – which will result in pounds coming back on.

 

Very low-calorie diets may improve weight-related medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. However, for long-term health  – very low-calorie diets aren’t any more effective than more modest diets. The key to maintaining any lost weight and weight loss goals is to change your lifestyle. You will need to make a commitment to healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Are Very Low-Calorie Diets Safe?

As with any diet program – you will want to check with your doctor before beginning this type of eating plan. Low calorie diets are not for everyone.

Some doctors believe that if your BMI is greater than 30, it will be safe to use the very low-calorie diet under proper medical supervision. For those with less weight to lose (BMI of 27-30), a very low-calorie diet might be effective for helping with weight-related medical problems. But again, medical supervision is key.  Proper nutrition must be addressed. Severe medical problems can result if a dieter isn’t getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Of course if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, a child or teenager, or over 50 years-old, you should not consider this type of dieting.

What Are the Side Effects of Very Low-Calorie Diets?

The most common side effects reported by people on this diet for 4 to  16 weeks include constipation, nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea.  Usually the discomfort is not severe enough to make a person quit the program – and the issues usually resolve within a few weeks after starting the program and will most likely completely go away soon after completing the program.

Gallstones are a common serious side effect of this type of diet. It’s not known if the gallstones are a result of rapid weight loss, the diet, or the amount of lost weight in general. But, in most cases, the gallstones were very small and didn’t cause many problems and resolved after a normal diet was started again.

What Are the Other Drawbacks of Very Low-Calorie Diets?

In order to be healthy, you need a variety of foods. Getting the proper nutrition is difficult with only 800 calories per day. If you decide to go this route – be sure to monitor your nutrition intake.

Be sure to check with your doctor before starting this type of diet.

Next…we will discuss another popular weight loss program.