QI GONG FOR THE WHOLE SELF

image.png

QI GONG FOR THE WHOLE SELF

By Michelle Powell

When I started Whole Self Weight Loss back in 2015, I was 4 years into my own health journey.   In 2011 I was a 43 year old mother of 5 at my heaviest weight ever, 213#, and was very unwell. I was exhausted, in a state of chronic neck, back and muscular pain.  I also had a lot of mysterious symptoms which indicated possible Multiple Sclerosis. My doctor wanted to put me on Metformin for the pre-diabetes which had begun the year before.  He also wanted me to take a statin for high cholesterol, which I had always had according to blood tests beginning at age 19. The tests and treatments for MS were above my budget with no medical insurance, so I decided I couldn’t and wouldn’t get tested, instead focusing on another attempt at dietary change and weight loss.  

Over the years I had, like most people in my situation, attempted to cut calories and exercise more.  It seemed that despite all my efforts and work I couldn’t lose much fat and, though stronger from the exercise, my body wasn’t changing much on the outside and my blood sugar and cholesterol were not improving.  Finally, with the threat of medications I did not want to take due to fear of side effects, I did a lot of research on how to reverse diabetes and high cholesterol. I found that cutting sugar and carb/starch and eating only real, minimally processed, clean foods was a natural fix for both of those issues and happily began to feel so much better, even the MS symptoms were gone!  In all I lost 88# and looked and felt younger and healthier than I ever had!

In the midst of healing my body through detox and dietary changes and more enjoyable physical activities, I also decided that as a person made of body, mind and spirit, I would attend to my spiritual and mental health as well.  I began by using positive affirmations, self-love, setting attainable goals, holistic nutrition education and expansion of my spiritual life.

image (1).png

Eventually I met a woman who told me how much she was enjoying the free Qi Gong (pronounced chee gung) videos on youtube, and my curiosity was piqued.  I looked up Qi Gong videos and started with Lee Holden’s 7 Minutes of Magic, eventually trying all of his other videos and trying other teachers as well.  I loved it! I found that it was gentle, peaceful and invigorating at the same time! It made me feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. I liked that it didn’t require extremes of any kind; no floor positions or putting weight on my shoulders and arms because fibromyalgia was livable unless I over did things and caused a flair-up.    

Over a year ago, I looked up classes that I could do Qi Gong with other people, and found there weren’t many that I could figure into my schedule.  I did, however, find a Qi Gong Master in Sarasota that offered certification and filed that information away for about a year before I finally allowed myself to register for the 3 day weekend.  I was thrilled to finally meet Dr. Aihan Kuhn and was so blessed by her common sense, “go with the flow” teaching style and really enjoyed her humor and grace. The other 8 students were lovely and we immediately became a Qi family.  I received my Level 1 Qi Gong teaching certification and am grateful to be able to add it to my Whole Self Weight Loss tool box. I am excited to see how my clients, even those who are unable to do other exercise, will benefit from it.   Please speak with me to find out how you can add Qi Gong for your Whole Self health.




Things you must know if you don't have a gallbladder

Great information from LiverDoctor!

Removal of the gallbladder is one of the most common surgeries performed in the USA and Australia today.  Gallstones are incredibly common and they occur in 10 to 15 percent of the population.  The problem does tend to run in families. Women are more likely to experience gallbladder problems than men and this is partly due to the effects of the female hormone estrogen.

A gallbladder performs several important roles in your body:

  • Enables fat digestion

  • Enables absorption of fat soluble antioxidants and vitamins A, E, D and K

  • Assists the removal of cholesterol from your body

  • Assists the removal of toxins that have been broken down by the liver

Obviously you can survive without a gallbladder, but you are more prone to developing certain health problems.  In particular you are at greater risk of developing a fatty liver, experiencing indigestion and developing deficiencies of essential fatty acids and fat soluble nutrients

What happens when you don’t have a gallbladder?

Your liver continues to manufacture bile, but there is no longer a place to store it or concentrate it.  Therefore bile continually slowly trickles into the intestines.  If you eat a fatty meal, you will not be able to secrete a large enough amount of bile into your intestines, therefore the fat will be poorly digested.  This means many people experience diarrhea, bloating, nausea or indigestion.

Not digesting fat well means you will not be able to digest essential fatty acids, including omega 3 and omega 6 fats.  It also means you’ll have a hard time absorbing fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins D, E, A and K.  A lot of the antioxidants in vegetables are fat soluble: lycopene, lutein and carotenoids are all fat soluble.  If you don’t produce adequate bile, you will not be adequately absorbing these life saving compounds from foods.  If you take any of the above mentioned nutrients in supplement form, without sufficient bile you will sadly not absorb them well.

Some common symptoms of poor fat digestion are dry, brittle hair; dry skin and premature aging of the skin; weak nails and painful joints. Essential fatty acids are important for optimal brain health, therefore low mood, anxiety, depression and impaired cognitive function are all possible manifestations of poor fat digestion.

How to have a healthy liver and good digestion without a gallbladder

First of all it’s important to realise that you developed a gallbladder problem in the first place because you had an unhealthy liver and a problem with your digestive system.  If your liver is not healthy, it will make poor quality bile.  The bile will be prone to forming sludge and stones.  Just removing the gallbladder doesn’t solve that problem, and in fact sludge and stones can form within the liver, compromising its function.

Here are some vital tips to follow:

  • Keep your intake of dairy products and grains to a minimum or avoid them altogether. Dairy products (milk, cheese, ice-cream, yoghurt) worsen all cases of gallbladder disease, liver disease and they are very difficult to digest. Food intolerance is a common cause of gallbladder problems, and there is research that links gluten intolerance with gallstones. A good reason to keep your intake of grains low is to reduce the risk of developing a fatty liver. There is a great deal of helpful information in our book Save your Gallbladder, and what to do if you’ve already lost it.

  • Take a good quality liver tonic such as Livatone. The herbs St Mary’s thistle, dandelion root and globe artichoke leaves all increase bile production and bile flow. Taurine is an amino acid necessary for bile production. This should help to make you feel more comfortable after a meal, and should reduce the risk of stones forming inside your liver.

  • Take an ox bile supplement. This is the most important recommendation for people who have lost their gallbladder. A lack of bile can produce symptoms such as bloating and indigestion after meals, light colored stools, diarrhea, fatigue after meals and nutrient deficiencies. Taking a good quality ox bile supplement with each meal is wonderful for completely eliminating these symptoms in most individuals.

  • Take a Digestive Enzymes supplement. The majority of people who developed a gallbladder problem have suffered with poor digestion for many years. If your stomach and intestines are not in optimal health, they will not send signals to your gallbladder, telling it to contract properly. Irritable bowel syndrome, dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and Candida overgrowth are common in people with a gallbladder problem. If you have had your gallbladder removed, you may continue to suffer symptoms due to those conditions. These digestive problems also cause insufficient digestive enzyme production. Taking digestive enzymes in supplement form helps to restore good digestive health and reduces symptoms of indigestion.

  • Eat some good fats and avoid the bad fats. Your doctor may have recommended you follow a low fat diet after having your gallbladder removed. This is not necessary and in fact it is harmful. Your body desperately needs good fats and I recommend you include moderate quantities of extra virgin olive oil, avocados, coconut milk and oil, nuts and seeds in your diet.

  • You may need a vitamin D3 supplement. People with compromised liver or digestive function are often vitamin D deficient. Exposure of your skin to the sun’s UVB rays enables your body to manufacture vitamin D. However, this process occurs in your liver and kidneys. People with a sluggish liver often do not manufacture vitamin D adequately. Therefore it’s a good idea to get a blood test and take a supplement. 5000 IU of vitamin D3 is a safe and effective dose for most people, but it’s best to be guided by your own doctor.

  • Include some bitter and sour foods in your diet. They should help to improve your digestion and make it easier to tolerate good fats in your diet. Suitable bitter and sour foods include lemons, limes, radicchio lettuce, chicory, endive and dandelion leaves. These leaves are fairly easy to grow at home if you are lucky enough to have your own veggie patch.

 

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

Source: https://www.liverdoctor.com/things-you-must-know-you-dont-have-gallbladder/

How to train your brain to meet your weight loss goals in 2018

Veg.jpg

To many, January 1st is the start of a familiar cycle. The initial few weeks of the year, you’re a paragon of health. You make it to the gym four times a week and stick to your diet plan. But then, Valentine’s Day rolls around, and you give into the office candy jar—three times in one day. Then in March, the cruise you’ve had planned since last June lures you in with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Before you know it, you’re even farther off the healthy-eating wagon than you were back in December.

“Weight loss is the least likely New Year’s Resolution to be achieved,” says Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, New York Times Best-Selling author and founder of Bright Line Eating. “Research shows that fewer than one percent of people with a serious weight problem are going to get into a right-sized body in any given year.” A 2015 study published by the American Journal of Public Health illustrates this point: over a nine-year period, the probability of obese subjects attaining a normal weight was 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women. The probability shrinks even further—just 1 in 1290 for men and 1 in 677 for women—among those considered morbidly obese.

The odds for an obese person who starts doing Bright Line Eating? An astounding 1 in 5. On average across all gender and weight categories, the program is 55 times more successful than other approaches.

Why do people struggle so severely to achieve their weight loss resolutions?

Dr. Thompson, who was once obese herself, says significant weight loss is a goal that’s closely tied to identity. “Studies show that it’s a major deal to totally change your life, to go from obese or overweight to slender. The fear of failure is huge. So, a lot of people don’t even get started,” she says.

Another reason is that people have a fundamentally flawed mentality about the process. They think it’s simply about eating less and exercising more. The reality, Dr. Thompson explains, is that in order to make a lasting change you essentially have to reprogram your brain.

Several years ago, the term “decision fatigue” became a prominent feature of think pieces and tech blogs, which touted the trend of Silicon Valley CEOs wearing the same outfit every day. This phenomenon is based upon the theory that deciding what to wear in the morning eats away at a finite amount of decision power in your brain.

The same hypothesis can be applied to willpower, explains Dr. Thompson. “The seed of willpower is this little part of the brain right behind the prefrontal cortex called the anterior cingulate cortex,” she says. “It’s kind of like a battery pack that has only 15 minutes of charge at any given time.”

So, when you’ve used up your willpower on, say, a stressful work meeting before you have to figure out what you’ll eat for lunch that day, the odds you’ll opt for a burger and fries skyrocket.

The solution, says Dr. Thompson, is to make your eating choices as automatic as brushing your teeth twice a day. This automaticity is governed by the basal ganglia—an entirely different part of the brain.

“You need to get your eating into that part of the brain so you’re not making choices on the fly, which makes you vulnerable to what I call the ‘Willpower Gap,’” she says. The "Willpower Gap" refers to the difference between how people want to eat and the reality of the unhealthy choices they tend to make.

“There’s this huge difference between the kind of eating that’s in alignment with our goals and our high standards of self-care, and the way we actually do eat when life gets busy or stressful, or when we’re under pressure,” she says.

And, despite mixed opinions on whether New Year’s resolutions are effective or simply a gimmick, Dr. Thompson says there’s real data behind the clean-slate mentality—although vaguely resolving to “eat better and exercise” probably won’t get you very far. “If you take January 1st as an opportunity to entrust yourself into the care of a proven system, then absolutely, [New Year’s resolutions] can be effective,” she says.

Here are a few daily practices that can help you finally achieve your weight loss goals in 2018.

Focus on diet over exercise. If the first item on your weight-loss checklist is to renew your gym membership, you’re prioritizing the wrong piece of the puzzle.

The biggest problem with overemphasizing exercise is the “compensation effect,” says Dr. Thompson. Essentially, the “I deserve this muffin” mentality that tends to accompany a trip to the gym. Exercise also erodes willpower and can be a time-suck, which means you’re more likely to fall back on fast, unhealthy foods at mealtime.

Dr. Thompson does concede that working out is great for plenty of things: it boosts self-esteem, increases longevity, improves memory and cardiovascular stamina, etc. But, she says, research is very clear: it does little—if anything—to help you drop pounds.

Make the right thing to eat the easiest thing to eat. To make your food choices automatic, make them as easy as possible.

When it comes to weight loss, “the danger of focusing on the goal is enormous,” says Dr. Thompson, noting that an obsession with the scale is only setting yourself up for failure. “Focus on a process, rather than on a goal,” she explains. “Instead of saying, ‘I want to weigh 120 pounds by August 1st,’ you’re better off saying, ‘I want to write down my food the night before each day.’”

She suggests doing just this: writing down planned meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—the night before, and sticking to the list no matter what. By doing this, “You’re going to make the right thing to eat the easiest thing to eat at any given time,” she says. “So instead of being a free-range eater, you’re going to teach yourself to eat in a systematic way. The difference is huge.”

Practice self-care and gratitude. Dr. Thompson suggests wearing your “bunny slippers” and treating yourself to whatever self-care practices make you feel best—like taking a warm bubble bath, making a list of three things you’re grateful for every night, or meditating daily. These supplemental, feel-good exercises go hand in hand with working toward a healthy weight and staying there.

Eat three meals a day. Sticking to your “Bright Lines”—or the hard-and-fast, no-exceptions rules at the core of Bright Line Eating, which include stipulations, like no added sugars or flour—becomes exponentially more difficult when you’re eating small meals many times throughout the day.

“If you’re eating six small meals a day, you’re a sitting duck for the donuts in the break room,” says Dr. Thompson. “What you need to learn is to say, ‘No, thank you,’ to all food if it’s not mealtime.”

Research shows that most people who lose weight and keep it off follow a specific system. The Bright Line Eating Boot Camp is an eight-week online program that can help you start training your brain for healthy eating habits. People from more than 100 countries have gone through the program. The Clean Start process walks you through the beginning part of the journey step by step, from suggesting supplies to buy—like a digital food scale to make sure you eat enough (the portions are large and filling)—to Customized Care Weekly Coaching Calls, access to social support through the Bright Line Buddy System, and 24/7 interaction and engagement.

“It’s a very intensive, thorough, and amazing Boot Camp,” says Dr. Thompson. “On average, people lose 17 pounds in the eight weeks. And on average, people keep that weight off and continue to lose.”

Unlike traditional diets, which tend to make people more obsessed with food, Dr. Thompson says that data from the Bright Line Boot Camp shows participants experience the reverse: “Almost all [participants] say that their peace and serenity around food has gone up, their hunger has gone down, and they experience little to no food cravings anymore,” she says.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sponsor-story/bright-line-eating/2017/12/23/how-train-your-brain-meet-your-weight-loss-goals-2018/108870636/

Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, and author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free.

15 Foods That Naturally Clear Your Arteries

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Roughly 25% of the deaths each year in the U.S. is contributed to heart disease, with more than half of those deaths being men. What makes these statistics even worse is that heart disease is not only completely preventable, but can be reversible as well.

The American Heart Association states that over 42 million men and women live with some form of cardiovascular disease. While more men in the United States suffer from heart disease, more women die from it on a yearly basis. Some of the risk factors for heart disease and eventually a heart attack are high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol. Men and women who smoke tend to be at a higher risk as well, along with people who are morbidly obese and maintain bad eating habits.

Thankfully, what you eat can have a direct impact on your heart health, as well as your arteries. You just have to make sure you are eating the right foods and taking the necessary precautions. Studies have shown that a heart healthy diet can not only prevent future heart disease, but can reverse it as well over time.

We did some research and found fifteen heart-healthy foods that can assist with improving your health and lowering your risk for heart disease in the future.

  1. If you’re looking for a pharmacy’s worth of remedies within one fruit, the orange is the perfect place to start. Thanks to its high levels of pectin, this type of soluble fiber works like a “sponge” to suck up cholesterol in foods and block its absorption. The potassium in oranges also help counterbalance sodium intake and assist with keeping your blood pressure in check. Recently, new studies have found that oranges have the ability to neutralize proteins that lead to heart scar tissue and congestive heart failure.

  2. Remember when your mom told you to eat your leafy greens? Well, she told you so for a good reason. Research has found that kale is one of the perfect foods to prevent heart disease and keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Thanks to a heaping amount of heart-boosting antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, kale is the perfect food and should be a permanent food item in your household.

  3. Garlic is an excellent food to help reduce plaque in your arteries and help reduce your blood pressure. According to research, garlic helps reduce an enzyme known as angiotensin, which constricts blood vessels. Tests have also found that people who suffer from plaque build up in their arteries saw the build up reduced by up to 50% when they took garlic extract in pill form daily.

  4. Did you know that red wine helps boost your HDL levels, which is your good cholesterol? It also reduces clotting by keeping your blood vessels flexible. Some studies have found that a glass of red wine is more effective than aspirin and can help reduce your chance of a heart attack. Bottoms up

  5. A study from Harvard University on the Kuna Indians off the coast of Panama discovered that the indigenous people had very low blood pressure and no signs of hypertension. At first, it was believed that the people had a rare genetic trait, but it was soon discovered that they drank large amounts of raw cocoa. Thanks to rich compounds known as flavanols, dark chocolate (which is known to have higher levels of cocoa) can help increase blood vessel flexibility, lower blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.!

  6. While many of you might stick your nose up at sardines, they actually can help with heart health. According to studies, the omega-3 fatty acids in sardines can help lower triglyceride levels in the body, raise good cholesterol, and reduce inflammation in the body. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a reduction in heart disease among women who consumed cold-water fish.

  7. International studies found that people who eat a diet high in legumes (specifically, lentils) have a reduced risk of heart disease. This is due to the fact that lentils help with reducing high blood pressure, which is one of the early warning signs of heart disease. Lentils are also high in protein, magnesium, and potassium, which can help reduce the risk for plaque in the blood vessels.

  8. Almonds are actually a very healthy (and tasty) way to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and prevent absorption of LDL thanks to a high amount of plant sterols. According to studies at the University of Toronto, people who eat a diet that consists of almonds can lower their risk for heart disease by up to 28%.

  9. Pomegranates have a unique blend of antioxidants that help prevent the oxidation of plaque in the walls of the arteries. In fact, a study showed that atherosclerosis patients were actually able to reduce the plaque that had begun to accumulate within their arterial walls by drinking 8 oz. of pomegranate juice daily.

  10. Blueberries are considered a “superfood” for a reason. Not only do these delicious morsels help fight aging with a rich dose of antioxidants, but they can also reduce the buildup of cholesterol within the walls of your arteries. Blueberries have also been found to eliminate free radicals that can cause cancer, as well as heart disease.

  11. Research has found that beets are an excellent source of folate and betaine, both which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and help lower levels of homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is known to increase the risk of heart disease by causing inflammation that can damage the heart muscle.

  12. Turmeric has been gaining traction in the nutrition and fitness industries due to its many health benefits, especially when it comes to heart health. An active compound known as curcumin can be found in high levels inside turmeric and can help block biochemical reactions that are involved in cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart). It can also reduce any inflammation in the blood vessels contributing to high blood pressure.

  13. Thanks to being an oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, research has discovered that salmon can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering the levels of triglycerides in the body. Salmon has also been found to prevent blood clots and expand constricted blood vessels.

  14. Chia seeds may be tiny but they certainly are mighty when it comes to nutrition and being beneficial to your heart health. Thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and omega-3s, chia seeds provide a natural method to lower your cholesterol and improve heart function. Some people like adding them to smoothies—others make a chia “pudding” to enjoy with fruit for breakfast. Regardless of how you enjoy them, the lasting benefits are where it’s at.

  15. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and that statement couldn’t be truer. Research has found that apples are filled with nutritious antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can assist with lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Better yet, there are so many varieties of apples, each with their own nutritional properties, that you won’t get bored when it comes to flavor and reaping the health rewards!

Source: http://activly.com

THE 25 BEST-EVER NUTRITION TIPS

When Americans faces a tough problem, we solve it the American way: We put our heads together and come up with a solution.

Start a new nation and establish freedom for all? We got Jefferson, Adams and Franklin in a room and they banged out the most revolutionary document ever created.

Stop the Nazis and end the war in the Pacific? We corralled the greatest scientific minds in the country and created the Manhattan Project. Game over.

So when it comes to taking aim at our obesity crisis (or just helping you fit into that dress), we here., at Eat This, Not That! figured we’d take a page out of history, and gather the most educated nutritional thinkers in the land to tell us their absolute best tips for losing weight and getting a perfectly lean, flat belly. So ask not what abs can do for you; ask what you can do for abs. The answers are right here.

Visit: http://www.eatthis.com/25-best-ever-nutrition-tips

3 Ways to Track Your Body Composition That Are Better Than BMI

Easier isn't always better. Never has this been more true than with body mass index, or BMI.

A measure that takes into account one's height and weight, body mass index has been used since the 1800s as an easy way to estimate body composition and, by extension, health. After all, coming across a scale and tape measure isn't too difficult. To calculate your BMI, that's all you need.

BMI has been strongly linked with America's most common diseases, conditions and causes of death, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even cancer. That means, as BMI goes up, so does your risk of serious disease. For instance, an adult male who stands 5 feet, 10 inches and weighs 170 pounds would have a BMI of 24.4, which is the upper end of what is considered healthy. (A BMI of 25 is considered overweight.) That same BMI number would apply to a woman who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 142 pounds.

BMIs of 40 or higher are linked with a significantly shorter lifespan, with the average person with a BMI of 55 to 59.9 living 13.7 fewer years compared to the average person with a normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, according to a 2014 review published in PLOS ONE.

"When studying large populations, we need an easy way of accessing body composition," explains Dr. Lisa Neff, an endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes and metabolism at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "That's why BMI is the marker most often used in health outcomes research. However, when we are studying BMI, what we are really hoping to get an assessment of is body fat. That's the primary detrimental aspect of body composition. When we talk about risk, it's body fat, or excess body fat, with which we are really concerned."

But unfortunately, BMI and body fat are anything but the same thing. BMI is all about quantity and body fat looks at quality. For instance, if you have a high BMI, you could either be overweight (aka overfat) or, on the flip side, you could just really be muscular and have a perfectly healthy or extremely low body fat percentage, explains San Diego bariatric surgeon Dr. Julie Ellner. And, in fact, 2016 research published in the International Journal of Obesity shows that BMI incorrectly labels more than 54 million Americans as "unhealthy." That's nearly half of all overweight men and women – and 29 and 16 percent of those classified as obese or severely obese, respectively.

Meanwhile, if you have a normal BMI, you could be healthy – or you could be silently suffering from normal weight obesity, often referred to as being "skinny fat." With normal weight obesity, weight and BMI check out fine, but body fat levels are just as high as they are in those typically considered obese. The same 2016 study found that more than 30 percent of people with so-called "healthy" BMIs have poor cardiometabolic health – that includes hypertension, high cholesterol, excess inflammation and/or insulin resistance. That's exactly what BMI is supposed to help identify, and why your doctor probably has a BMI chart hanging in the exam room.

While athletes, bodybuilders and anyone who regularly strength trains is at risk of being mislabeled as overweight or obese, BMI is most likely to miss normal weight obesity in women as well as older people who may be suffering from age-related muscle loss known as sarcopenia, according to Neff. In many such older individuals, weight can actually be quite stable, she notes. In many men and women, as muscle levels wane, metabolic rate dips and any potential weight loss is mediated by an increase in fat. Year after year, weight stays about the same, although body fat percentage gradually grows, increasing the risk of obesity-related illnesses.

Better Than BMI: Body Fat, Waist Circumference and Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Since BMI is really just an estimation of body fat, it makes the most sense to stop tracking your BMI and start evaluating your body fat percentage, Ellner says.

"My advice to patients is to get a good body composition scale for home use," she says. "It will calculate body fat percentage and will give credit to the patients who work out and are above-average healthy, while putting those who are at a 'good weight' but are unhealthy on notice that they need to change their program."

These scales aren't 100 percent accurate – technology still has a ways to go before consumer scales are on par with expensive dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, underwater weighing and caliper skin-fold measurements at determining exact body fat levels, but they are as precise as anyone vying for good health or healthy weight loss needs. While there is no one mutually agreed upon healthy body fat range, body fat percentages greater than roughly 21 in men and 31 in women point to obesity. Men and women need to maintain levels of body fat of at least 3 and 12 percent, respectively, for optimal physiological function.

While waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, like BMI, estimate body fat indirectly, they focus on where you store the fat that you have. That's because visceral fat, which lies in and around the vital organs, is more highly correlated with chronic disease compared to fat stored elsewhere in the body, Ellner explains. "Abdominal obesity" is strongly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of BMI, according to the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research.

Per the American Heart Association and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches in women and 40 in men is a marker of abdominal obesity. A waist-to-hip ratio (divide your waist measurement by the circumference at the largest part of your hips) of greater than 0.85 in women and 0.9 in men also denotes abdominal obesity, according to the World Health Organization.

To track your waist circumference, wrap a flexible measuring tape or string around your waist, marked by the top of your hipbones. Divide that number by the circumference of your hips at their largest point, and you'll have your waist-to-hip ratio.

By K. Aleisha Fetters, Contributor | April 21, 2017, at 4:08 p.m.

One-Third of Slim American Adults Have Pre-Diabetes

It's often assumed that in order to develop type 2 diabetes, you have to be overweight. While it's true that excess weight is clearly associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, it's the insulin resistance — not necessarily the weight gain — that drives the disease.

As such, many people with a healthy weight are not metabolically healthy, putting them at risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes — even without being overweight or obese.

One of the greatest risk factors, according to University of Florida researchers, is actually inactivity, which drives up your risk of pre-diabetes regardless of your weight.

Inactivity Is Associated With Pre-Diabetes, Even if You're a Healthy Weight

If you were looking for motivation to get moving, this study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is as good as it gets.1

In a survey of more than 1,100 healthy-weight individuals, those who were inactive (physically active for less than 30 minutes per week) were more likely to have an A1C level of 5.7 or higher, which is considered to be pre-diabetic.

Among all the inactive participants (aged 20 and over), about one-quarter were either pre-diabetic or diabetic. When only those inactive people aged 40 and over were analyzed, the percentage rose to 40 percent.

The researchers suggested that people who live a largely sedentary lifestyle yet have a healthy weight may have "normal-weight obesity or 'skinny fat,'" which they described as a "high proportion of fat to lean muscle."2

"Don't focus solely on the scale and think you're OK. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, make sure you get up and move," lead author Arch Mainous III, chair of health services research, management and policy in the University of Florida's College of Public Health and Health Professions, said in a news release.3

The researchers also noted that their findings suggest "healthy weight individuals may benefit from physical exercise,"4 which isn't exactly groundbreaking advice — but it's incredibly important nonetheless.

Weight Doesn't Always Reveal a Person's Metabolic Health

Weight isn't always an accurate tool by which to gauge metabolic health, and research by Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF), bears this out.

Lustig is perhaps best known for speaking out about the health risks of sugar, but in our 2015 interview he explained the problem with "judging a book by its cover" in terms of weight and health.

More than two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese. About 50 percent have diabetes or pre-diabetes,5 and 1 out of every 3 have high blood pressure.6 Many also have high serum triglycerides, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Insulin resistance is a component of all of these health issues.

According to Lustig, at least 50 percent of Americans have some form of insulin resistance — whether you're overweight or not — and that is what's driving our seemingly out-of-control disease statistics.

'There Are More Thin Sick People Than Fat Sick People'

As Lustig notes, if you were to do a Venn diagram of the U.S. population, one circle would be about twice as big as the other: the obese population forming a smaller circle of about 30 percent, and the non-obese population forming a larger circle of about 70 percent.

He estimates that about 80 percent of the obese population is metabolically ill with insulin resistance that manifests itself in a myriad of ways, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, cancer and dementia. About 20 percent of this population, however, is metabolically healthy.

Conversely, Lustig explains, of the 70 percent that are of normal weight, about 40 percent of them have insulin resistance upon lab testing, and they manifest aspects of metabolic syndrome as well. They too get type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.

The prevalence of metabolic disease among normal-weight people is not as great as among obese people — 40 percent versus 80 percent — but there are far more people in this group.

"When you do the math, there are more thin sick people than there are fat sick people," Lustig says. And while his research points to excessive sugar consumption as the primary driver of metabolic disease among Americans, inactivity also plays a role.

Exercise Is Important, but Not Necessarily Because It Helps You Lose Weight

The evidence is clear that regular physical activity, which includes reducing your time spent sitting and exercising, is crucial to lower your risk of diabetes (and treat it if you've already been diagnosed).

For instance, sitting for more than eight hours a day has been shown to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by 90 percent,7 while people with diabetes who engaged in a six-month moderate-intensity exercise program experienced significant health improvements, including decreased fat in the abdomen, liver and around the heart.8

Many health care professionals advise their patients to exercise in order to promote weight loss; however, its benefits extend far beyond that (which is why it's important to exercise even if you don't need to lose weight).

According to Lustig, one of exercise's primary benefits is that it promotes muscle gain and stimulates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC-1 alpha), which is the primary driver for mitochondrial biogenesis.

When you turn up PGC-1α, you make more mitochondria, increasing your sympathetic muscle tone, which in turn improves insulin sensitivity. According to Lustig:

"Exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself and we should be promoting it, but we have to explain to patients what the outcome variable they should be looking at is.

And the outcome variable is belt size [waist size], because they will reduce their visceral fat. They will lose inches, not pounds. And losing inches means improved metabolic health."

How to Determine if You're Pre-Diabetic

If you're reading this and aren't sure what your fasting insulin and glucose levels are, these are blood tests I recommend receiving annually. Your fasting insulin level reflects how healthy your blood glucose levels are over time.

A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want it below 3. A fasting glucose level below 100 mg/dl suggests you're not insulin resistant, while a level between 100 and 125 confirms you have pre-diabetes. If this, or your A1C level, confirms you either have or are at risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes, the time to take action is now. You might also find a hip-to-waist size index chart helpful.

This is far better than body mass index (BMI) for evaluating whether or not you may have a weight problem, as BMI fails to factor in both how muscular you are and your intra-abdominal fat mass (the dangerous visceral fat that accumulates around your inner organs), which is a potent indicator of insulin/leptin sensitivity and the associated health problems.

You Can Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity in Just Two Weeks

Fortunately, proper exercise and attention to diet can reverse the course of this disease, with benefits seen in as little as two weeks (and to some extent after just one exercise session).

For instance, unfit but otherwise healthy middle-aged adults were able to improve their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation after just two weeks of interval training (three sessions per week).9 A follow-up study also found that interval training positively impacted insulin sensitivity.

The study involved people with full-blown type 2 diabetes, and just one interval training session was able to improve blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours.10 You can actually reap much greater benefits by exercising in short, high-intensity bursts known as intervals than you can exercising for longer periods at a slower steady pace.

The high-intensity interval training (HIIT) approach I personally use and recommend is the Peak Fitness method, which consists of 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of recuperation, for a total of eight repetitions. I also recommend super slow weight lifting for your resistance training.

Getting Up From Your Chair Is Also Important

When you hear the term sedentary, it's important to understand that exercising for 20 or 30 minutes a day, and then sitting for much of the rest, is not enough to pull you out of this category. Long hours spent sitting are linked to chronic diseases including diabetes, and this may be, in part, because it increases aging at the cellular level.

In a study of 64- to 95-year-old women, those who sat for more than 10 hours a day and got less than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity had shorter telomeres and were, on average, eight years older, biologically speaking, than women who moved around more often.11

Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter, which is why they're used as a measure of biological aging. Short telomeres have also been linked with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

In addition, your body's ability to respond to insulin is affected by just one day of excess sitting, which leads your pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin. Research published in Diabetologia also found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.12 I recommend replacing the majority of your sedentary sitting time with active movement, keeping sitting to three hours a day or less.

What to Do if You Have Pre-Diabetes or Diabetes

The take-home message to remember is that you shouldn't assume you're metabolically healthy just because you're not overweight or obese — especially if you live a largely sedentary lifestyle. You could actually be "skinny fat," with many of the same health risks as someone who's overweight or obese and sedentary.

The good news is that there's plenty you can do to not only reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes but also improve your metabolic health at the same time.

During the three-year Diabetes Prevention Program study, for instance, lifestyle interventions were found to be more effective than the diabetes drug metformin at preventing or delaying the development of diabetes in people at high risk of the disease. A follow-up study monitored the group for 15 years — and lifestyle interventions were still more effective than metformin at preventing diabetes.13

After the initial three-year study, those who made dietary changes and exercised at moderate intensity for 15 minutes daily were 58 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to a placebo group. Those taking metformin were 31 percent less likely to develop the disease. Nutrition and lifestyle modifications should be the foundation of your diabetes prevention and treatment plan.

Remember, this is about getting metabolically healthy, not necessarily losing weight, but optimizing your weight is a pleasant "side effect" that comes from a healthy lifestyle.

One of the most important dietary recommendations is to limit net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and protein, replacing them with higher amounts of high-quality healthy fats, like seeds, nuts, raw grass-fed butter, olives, avocado, coconut oil, organic pastured eggs and animal fats (including animal-based omega-3s).

If you're insulin resistant or diabetic, I also strongly suggest you limit your total fructose intake to 15 grams per day until your insulin/leptin resistance has resolved (then it can be increased to 25 grams) and start intermittent fasting as soon as possible.

As mentioned, exercise and reduced sitting time are also crucial, along with attention to proper sleep, optimized vitamin D levels and gut health. Taken together, this plan will lower your risk of diabetes and related chronic diseases and help you to avoid becoming victim to a health condition you might not even realize you have.

5 reasons you should plan your meals in advance

With today’s busy lifestyles, eating homecooked food can be a challenge. Longer work days, long commute, managing office with household chores often takes a toll on eating healthy due to lack of time. As a result, we all end up making poor food choices due to lack of planning! Dietitian Akansha Jhalani from Bon happétee tells you why you should start planning your meals.

1. Helps you add more nutrients to your diet– Planning your meals well ahead of time helps you take control of your personal nutritional needs. You can eat a variety of nutritious foods and shop for them before in hand. There are rare chances of you reaching out to convenience foods like ready to eat foods, quick fixes like biscuits, cakes and all junk. It can be a good idea to maintain a food diary where you plan all your meals in advance.

2. Helps you make right food choices--Do you know your week ahead is going to be busy? Planning meals at the beginning of the week or a day before based on your schedule will ensure you eat a healthy meal in any case. This ensures you have well planned satiating meals when you have most hunger pangs, and eat the right food combinations to deal with the stress and exertion. And, if you get this right, your weight loss concerns are taken care.

3. Prevents bloating and acidity –Bloating and other digestion related problems are due to untimely meals which are an outcome of inadequate planning. So if you plan your meals well in advance, you will have fewer chances of suffering from bloating and acidity.

4. Prevents you from overeating – One tends to overeat only when you ignore hunger. Meal planning takes care of the timings, and there are no hunger pangs. This ultimately helps you eat just the right quantity required at one go. You end up feeling not only satiated but so much lighter and energetic by doing so. Here are 50 common mistakes Indians make while cooking healthy food. 

5. Leaves no room for cheat meals –It’s ok to cheat once in a while! But what if cheating becomes a habit? It makes you put on a lot of weight. If you are successful at planning your meals right, there are high chances of you sticking to the week-long commitment! Here’s what Bollywood actresses eat on their cheat days. 

You can use these applications to plan your meals well:
• Yummly is a mobile app and website that provides recipe recommendations personalised to the individual’s tastes. Yummly allows users to search by ingredient, diet, allergy, nutrition, price, cuisine, time, taste, meal courses and sources.
• MyFitnessPal is a free smartphone app and website that tracks diet and exercise to determine optimal caloric intake and nutrients for the users’ goals and uses gamification elements to motivate users.
• bon happetee is a chef and nutritionist rolled in one mobile app – with customized daily meal plans and real-time nutrition analysis with meal scores that can help you plan, evaluate and fix your meals with a convenience of a click.

The Best Fat-Loss Workout of All Time

Your Lean-Body Plan

What is the quickest way to shed weight, build lean muscle, and reveal a toned and sexy physique? The answer is simple: A combo of strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It's not revolutionary, but this regimen has been proven time and again to be the best training method to get a lean body in the least amount of time. You'll crush calories, build fat-burning muscle, and avoid plateaus.

I'll admit that as a woman, I was hesitant to start lifting heavy weights. In my mind, weight lifting equated to a "bulky" and "thick" body. But I quickly learned that this couldn't be farther from the truth. Muscle is metabolically active, meaning that it burns calories even at rest. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Just remember that muscle is more dense than fat so don't rely on the scale to track your progress. You will see the amazing results in the mirror and feel them every time you pull on your skinny jeans.

This workout combines strength training and HIIT to give you a rock-solid core, lean legs, and defined arms.

You'll need: A pair of dumbbells (10-20lbs), a jump rope.

How it works: Do 1 set of each exercise without resting between moves. Repeat the entire circuit 3 times. If you're short on time, you'll still get a great workout by doing 1 full circuit. For best results, do this workout 3 days per week. To make it more challenging, increase the weight for each exercise.

Single-Leg Deadlift

This exercise targets the glutes and hamstrings, giving perfect definition and lift to your booty.

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them at arm's length in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Shift your weight into one leg. Without changing the bend in your knee, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor (keep the weight as close to your body as possible). Pause, then return to standing. Your back should stay naturally arched during the entire movement. Do 8 reps each side.

Split Squat Jumps

These powerful jumps blast calories and engage every muscle in your body.

How to do it: Come into a lunge position with both knees bent. Make sure your front knee is directly above the ankle. Bring both arms back as you lower down into a lunge. Explosively, jump off the ground and switch feet in the air. Land softly in a lunge position with your other foot forward. Keep switching at a quick pace. Make sure to keep your chest lifted and swing your arms forward as you jump. Do 5 jumps per side.

Squat to Press

Squats are excellent for slim thighs, a tight butt, and sculpted hamstrings. By adding the press, the core and shoulders are engaged the entire time.

How to do it: Grab a set of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows and bring the weights to shoulder height. Lower down into a squat by shifting hips back, like you are sitting in a chair. Come back to standing and press weights directly overhead. Lower the weights back to shoulder height as you immediately lower into your next squat. Continue the movement at a quick pace for 10 reps.

Broad Jumps

Similar to other jumps, this exercise burns calories quickly, keeps your heart rate up, and engages every muscle. Broad jumps will also improve overall athletic performance.

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Quickly extend your arms behind you while bending knees even more. Explosively jump forward (as far as you can) while swinging your arms forward. Land softly (by bending your knees) in a solid, athletic position. Try not to bounce or wobble at all and use your core to stay solid. Do 8 reps.

Plank with Dumbbell Row

Nothing beats planks when it comes to strengthening your deepest abdominal muscles, which flatten out the stomach. Plus, the row builds strength and definition in upper back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

How to do it: Grab a set of dumbbells and come into plank position with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Brace your core as you lift one dumbbell off the ground in a rowing movement. Bring the weight back to the ground and switch sides. Continue alternating at a quick pace. Make sure to keep hips as still as possible and legs engaged the entire time. Do 8 reps per side.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a quick way to get the benefits of cardio without spending a lot of time on it.

How to do it: Make sure to stay light on your feet and keep your chest lifted. Use your wrists more than your arms to swing the rope. Try to keep elbows fixed in place. Jump rope for 1 minute.

Walking Lunge with Bicep Curl

his exercise builds strength in the quadriceps, core, glutes, and upper body. Doing single-leg exercises like this improves balance and stability, as well as dynamic flexibility in the knee, ankle, and hip joints.

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall, holding the weights by your sides. Take a big step out into a lunge. Bend both knees, keeping front knee directly above ankle. Drive off the ball of your big toe to come up in a standing position. Keep your foot off the ground as you curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. Keep elbows fixed in place. Continue by stepping the foot that is lifted forward into a lunge. Do 10 reps on each leg.

Sprints

Sprints are a very efficient way to improve athletic performance and keep the entire body lean and strong.

How to do it: Start in a lunge position with your back at a 45-degree angle, weight shifted forward. Drive through your big toe to take bounding steps forward. After about 10 yards, rest for 30 seconds before starting your next sprint. Quickly shift your hips forward to repeat the forward movement again. Do 5 sprints.

by Nora Tobin

 

Your 5 Worst Gluten-Free Mistakes

After experiencing some wacky symptoms, I was recently tested for celiac disease, and while the report came back negative, I’ve noticed that I do feel better when I avoid gluten. Many of my clients are in the same boat, but others seek me out after going gluten free and feeling worse, or even gaining weight, which seems to be increasingly common. The truth is, navigating the gluten-free landscape can be pretty darn tricky. Here are five common missteps I see, and how to resolve them.

Not “getting” gluten
One client recently said to me, “I’m not really sure what gluten is, but I know it’s bad, right?” I think a lot of people are a little in the dark about the issue at large, and it is complicated, but in a nutshell, here’s what you need to know: gluten is a type of protein naturally found in wheat (including spelt, kamut, farro, and bulgur) and other grains, like barley and rye. In people who have celiac disease, consuming even small amounts of gluten triggers unwelcome symptoms, including belly pain and bloating. This happens because gluten causes the immune system to damage or destroy villi, the tiny, fingerlike structures that line the small intestine like a microscopic plush carpet. Healthy villi absorb nutrients through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, so when they become damaged, chronic malnutrition occurs, which is typically accompanied by weight loss and exhaustion. Other symptoms may include bone or joint pain, depression, and skin problems. In people with this diagnosis, the only way to reverse the damage, and the accompanying symptoms, is to completely avoid gluten. People like me, who test negative for celiac disease, may be experiencing a condition called gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity, which means that while not celiac, consuming gluten causes bothersome side effects, which can include flu-like feelings, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems, mental fogginess, and fatigue. Unfortunately, there is no real test for gluten sensitivity at this time, and the symptoms may be related to other issues, including stress (who doesn’t have that?!), which makes it a not-so-black-and-white issue.

Confusing gluten free with wheat free or refined grains
As I noted above, gluten isn’t only found in wheat. I’ve heard numerous people say they eat gluten free, but all they’ve really done is replace foods like white bread with hearty whole grain versions, which may include spelt (in the wheat family), and rye (which, while not wheat, also contains gluten). If you don’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, these swaps may make you feel great, and lead to weight loss, because trading refined grains for whole grains ups your intake of fiber, boosts satiety, so you feel fuller longer, and better regulates blood sugar and insulin levels. These are all good things, but, in this case, totally unrelated to gluten.

Thinking gluten free equals weight loss
You may have seen a friend, co-worker, or celebrity suddenly slim down after proclaiming to give up gluten. And while going gluten free may absolutely lead to dropping a dress size (or more), the weight loss is generally caused by giving up foods that contain gluten, which are loaded with dense amounts of refined carbs, like bagels, pasta, crackers, pretzels, and baked goods. Axing these foods altogether, or replaced them with more veggies and healthy gluten-free whole grains, like quinoa and wild rice, automatically cuts excess carbs (which may have been feeding fat cells), ups fiber and nutrients, and results in soaring energy. However, going gluten free can also lead to weight gain.

Loading up on gluten-free junk food
Because gluten free has exploded in popularity, there are dozens of gluten-free options in markets these days, including carb-laden (but gluten free) versions of… bagels, pasta, crackers, pretzels, and baked goods! One popular brand of gluten free cookies pack 60 calories each, more than a “regular” sandwich cookie. And some gluten-free foods are made with refined gluten-free grains, which have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients, like white rice. The bottom line is, simply going gluten free doesn’t guarantee the loss of pounds and inches – quality and quantity still matter most.

Ignoring the rest of your diet
In addition to quality and quantity, balance is critical for feeling well and achieving weight loss. I’ve seen people trade white pasta for healthy whole grains like quinoa or wild rice, but still eat portions that are far too large, and therefore not see weight loss results. Others believe it’s OK to eat unlimited amounts of healthy gluten-free foods, like fruit and nuts. But sadly, any time you eat more than your body can use or burn, even from healthy foods, you create surpluses, which get shuttled straight to your body’s storage units – fat cells.

If you have celiac disease (get tested if you suspect you do, but you’re not sure), you absolutely must avoid gluten, and it’s important to note that it lurks in many products, from salad dressings and seasoning mixes, to vitamins, and even lip balm, so eliminating it completely is a big commitment. And if you think you may be gluten intolerant, try to avoid gluten, and monitor your how you feel. But in either case, the single most important thing you can do is to strive for a healthy, balanced, whole foods diet, the true keys to both optimal health and weight loss.

By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Why You Need to Eat Fat to Burn Fat

It gets a bad rap, but adding some fat to your diet may be the key to a slimmer you

Overview

For a long time, we thought avocados were good for nothing but ready-made guac and a decent California burger every now and then. But these little nutritional hand grenades were having an explosive impact on our diets for all that time. How so?

They’re infused with a key nutrient for maintaining healthy weight: fat.

Wait…fat can help us maintain our weight? Fat doesn’t make us fat? In a word: exactly.

Fat is not something to avoid. For starters, it’s essential for normal growth and development. Dietary fat also provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients. Even better, it helps the body burn fat, says nutritionist and owner of Nutritious Life meal system, Keri Glassman, RD, who recommends that about a third of any weight-loss plan’s calories come from dietary fat.

BUT: Not all fatty foods are created equal. While pizza, French fries and hamburgers can contribute to weight gain and deterioration of health, the dietetic community is learning that the overall nutritional content of these foods — not their saturated fat — is what’s to blame. Sure, research from 50 years ago found that saturated fatty acids, a type of fat that’s “saturated” with hydrogen and typically solid at room temperature, raised LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

But a reevaluation of that research has shown that they raise HDL (good) cholesterol just as much, if not more, protecting the body from unhealthy cholesterol levels and heart disease, says nutritionist and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association Tara Gidus, RD. “Instead of making any one thing in the diet a villain, we need to look at total caloric content as well as quality of food, what are we eating that is ‘good’ and helping our body’s immune system and cells to stay healthy.”

Most of the fat that you eat — especially if you want to lose weight — should come from unsaturated sources, both monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA), Glassman says. Why?

These good-for-you foods (like fish, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, olive oil, and of course, avocados) pack tons of nutrients. Besides removing LDL cholesterol from arteries and promoting a healthier heart, unsaturated fat can help you burn fat big time without cutting calories.

A 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that participants who consumed the most unsaturated fatty acids have lower body-mass indexes and less abdominal fat than those who consumed the least. Why?

The unsaturated folks ate higher-quality foods. Not long ago, manufacturers marketed low-fat and no-fat everything, and consumers responded by chowing down. It’s healthy, right?

Wrong. All wrong. Besides stripping our bodies of a much-needed nutrient, low- and no-fat diet movements have increased obesity rates. Why?

It turns out that fat provides a big component to the foods we love: Taste. When food manufacturers removed fat from their foods, they had to load the foods with sugar and salt, which are nutrient-free, to increase flavor.

Here are other crucial ways fat can help you slim down:

Fat Burns Fat

The body needs three macronutrients for energy: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A gram of fat packs more than twice the energy of a gram of the other two. “When you don’t have any fat in your diet its like you don’t have fuel to burn calories,” Glassman says. The body requires energy to keep its metabolism properly functioning, and a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming fatty acids can boost metabolic health.

What’s more, “old” fat stored in the body’s peripheral tissues—around the belly, thighs, or butt (also called subcutaneous fat)—can’t be burned efficiently without “new” fat to help the process, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver.

Think of mealtime like baseball spring training: young, hungry players (new fat) hit the field and show the general manger (the liver) that it’s time to send the old, worn-out players (subcutaneous fat) home. And away they go.

Fat Keeps You Full

Fat isn’t the easiest nutrient to digest, so it sticks around in the digestive system for more time than many other nutrients. MUFAs may also help stabilize blood sugar levels, according to Mayo Clinic. That means you feel full longer, and you won’t feel the stomach-growling urge to raid the refrigerator after mealtime.

In fact, diets with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of PUFA that the body can only acquire through food, create a greater sense of fullness both immediately following and two hours after dinner than do meals with low levels of the fatty acids, according to a 2008 study from University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. It’s no surprise that dieters who consume moderate levels of fat are more likely to stick with their eating plans than dieters who consume low levels of fat.

The result? More weight lost.

Fat Makes You Happy

Everyone says that dieting, not to put too fine a point on it, stinks. Eating yummy foods makes you happy, and it turns out low-fat versions just don’t do the trick for one surprising reason: We can taste the fat — not just the salt, sugar and other goodies in food.

Recent research from Purdue University shows that our taste buds can detect fat in food, which helps explain why low-fat foods don’t curb our fat cravings. According to the research, fat may be an entirely different basic taste than what we’ve long considered the four mainstays: sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

On an even happier fat note, omega-3 fatty acids can boost serotonin levels in the brain, helping to improve mood, increase motivation and keep you from devouring a large pizza like it’s your job. 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men have suffered from diagnosed binge-eating disorders, while millions more people are occasional emotional eaters, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Fat Builds Muscle

“Eating good fats along with an effective exercise program can increase muscle,” says trainer and owner of Results Fitness, Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS, who notes that increasing muscle mass is vital to increasing metabolism and burning calories both in and out of the gym. In a 2011 study published in Clinical Science, researchers examined the effects of eight weeks of PUFA supplementation in adults ages 25 to 45 and found that the fat increases protein concentration and the size of muscular cells in the body. Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and can mediate muscle mass loss due to aging.

Fat Makes Food Better for You

Many nutrients including vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning that the body can’t absorb them without fat. If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, that can lead to vitamin deficiencies and bring on dry skin, blindness, brittle bones, muscle pains, and abnormal blood clotting, according to Gidus.

These vitamins are also key to maintaining energy, focus, and muscle health, all of which contribute to a healthy weight. Vitamin E, for example is a powerful antioxidant and helps maintain your metabolism, while the body’s levels of vitamin D predicts its ability to lose fat, especially in the abdominal region, according to a clinical trial from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

So while you can pile your salad high with nutrient-rich spinach, tomatoes and carrots, you really need to thank the olive oil for sending the salad’s vitamins your way.

by K. ALEISHA FETTERS

Low Carb Stuffing

LOW CARB STUFFING

Ingredients

  • 1 loaflow-carb bread, crumbled or cut into cubes (Sami's Bakery)
  • 1 T coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-7 cups chopped celery - about 2 small bunches
  • 1 green Bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning, such as Bells
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Sea salt - start with 1/2 teaspoon, or 1 T chicken or turkey soup base (see below)
  • 1 cup low sodium organic chicken broth, plus more according to moisture needed
  • 1egg (if a loaf like stuffing is desired)

Preparation

1) 1 - 1½ lb loaf of low-carb bread if you have access to it. Different types of bread will bring different results, so you may have to adjust the amount of liquid, seasonings, etc. Allow the bread to dry out for a while, either on the counter on in a low heat oven. It doesn't have to be totally dry, just kind of stale-level dry.

2) Sauté onion, celery, and pepper in oil until soft. Add parsley and cook for a minute or so, until wilted. Add seasonings.

3) Mix together the vegetables and the bread. Add a cup of broth, stir, and taste. Adjust seasoning and moisture. If you're going to stuff poultry with it, leave it on the dry side because it will absorb a lot of juices during cooking. You can eat it just as it is, but if you bake it, the flavors will come together better. Adding egg will make it come together in more of a melded-together form. Mix well and bake at 350 F. for about half an hour, or until browned on top.

 

To keep the weight off, keep tracking your diet

NEW ORLEANS — Keeping track of the foods you eat is an important strategy for weight loss, but continuing to monitor what you eat is also important to prevent regaining that weight. Now, a new study finds that stopping food tracking is linked to regaining weight.

In order to prevent re-gaining weight, people should make an effort four months after starting a diet to refocus on food tracking, according to the study, presented here Sunday (Nov. 13) at the American Heart Association's annual meeting called the Scientific Sessions.

The researchers found that people tended to stop dietary monitoring after about four months, and that this was followed by regaining weight, said Qianheng Ma, a public health researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the study. 

The effects of food tracking, or "dietary self-monitoring," on weight loss have been well-studied, and the technique is a key component of what researchers call the "standard behavioral treatment" for people who want to lose weight and keep it off, Ma told Live Science. This type of treatment is the most effective non-medical approach to weight loss, according to the study.

In the study, the researchers looked at data from 137 people who had participated in a one-year weight loss intervention called EMPOWER. The majority of the people in the study were white women. The participants were, on average, 51 years old and had a BMI of 34.1. (People with a BMI of 30 or higher are generally considered obese.) The people in the study were asked to weigh themselves regularly with a digital scale that uploaded data in real time and to monitor their diet using a smartphone app.

Although everyone in the study initially lost weight, nearly three-quarters of the people in the study ultimately regained some of that weight. In addition, 62 percent of the participants stopped tracking what they were eating at some point during the study.

The researchers found that a greater percentage of the people who regained weight had stopped tracking what they ate, compared with those who were able to maintain their weight. 

The average time that people tracked their diet before they stopped was 126 days — in other words, they were about four months into their diet when they stopped, Ma told Live Science. It's unclear why food tracking stopped at this point, she added.

People did not begin gaining weight immediately after they stopped tracking what they ate, the researchers noted. Rather, people started to gain weight, on average, about two months after they stopped tracking their food, the study found.

Now that the researchers have identified the point at which people tend to stop tracking their food, they intend to study whether strategically reminding people to keep tracking will help them to keep the weight off, Ma said.

The new findings have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Originally published on Live Science.

The Weight Gain-Inflammation Connection

When we think about inflammation, we often think of it as helping us heal from an obvious injury (like a wound) or fighting harmful bacteria. This is good inflammation working in our favor to keep us healthy. But on the flip side, when the immune system is too active, it can make us sick.

We know that major chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, are linked to weight gain, but did you ever wonder how those diseases and inflammation are all intertwined?

Understanding inflammation, especially “bad” inflammation, will help explain this link.

Read More

Should we consider skipping breakfast?

For years we have always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It is the meal that jump starts our metabolism.

Where is all this evidence?

In a recent paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers approached the breakfast question with a healthy dose of skepticism.

They analyzed dozens of studies looking at one particularly interesting relationship: breakfast and body weight. And asked the question: Is the evidence really that strong?

A little background first.

Many nutrition experts claim that breakfast is so important because it helps with weight management. (They also think that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain and obesity.)

Interestingly, it’s this supposed causal relationship between breakfast and body weight that forms a cornerstone belief of the “most important meal of the day” movement.

Unfortunately for this movement, the link is weak. And it’s correlational, not causal.

In essence, we know there’s some relationship between breakfast and body weight. But we don’t know what the relationship is. Or whether it’s important.

With that said, back to the study.

In analyzing dozens of individual papers — called a meta-analysis — the researchers concluded that the link between breakfast and body weight is “only presumed true.”

In other words, the idea that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is more of a “shared belief” than a research proven conclusion.

Here’s how it works.

Since we’ve heard it so often — heck, some of us have even said it — the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” becomes part of our cultural lexicon.

Then, because we believe in it culturally, any information that runs counter it is assumed to be wrong. Even before we evaluate the evidence.

Interestingly, according to this published research, it’s not just regular people who commit this error. Nutrition experts and researchers do the same thing.

In fact, when they really dug into the literature, they found four extremely serious problems:

1) researchers were offering biased interpretation of their own results,
2) researchers were improperly using causal language to describe their results,
3) researchers were misleadingly citing others’ results, and
4) researchers were improperly using causal language when citing others’ work.

All this to say that researchers aren’t immune to bias.

In fact, when it comes to the relationship between breakfast and body weight, many researchers are so committed to the shared belief that eating breakfast is the right thing to do that they — often unintentionally — misrepresent their results and the work of others.

How important is breakfast really?

Of course, we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

Just because some research is biased — or incomplete — doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. So let’s start with some of the proposed benefits of eating breakfast.

In the literature, eating breakfast is consistently associated with:

· decreased overall appetite
· decreased overall food consumption
· decreased body weight
· improved academic performance
· improved blood sugar control

If we stopped there, of course we’d presume that breakfast skipping is a dumb move.

However, we can’t stop there. Because the majority of this evidence is observational. It suggests there’s a relationship — a correlation — without proving cause.

For example: It could be that people who are “healthy” for other reasons — like the fact that they work out more or benefit from a higher socioeconomic status — also eat breakfast. While those who are “unhealthy” — because they don’t exercise or live below the poverty line — skip it.

In this case, breakfast just happens to co-exist with health rather than cause it.

So here’s the bottom line: When examining research that actually controls for all the variables and looks at cause and effect, the results are pretty mixed.

In other words, breakfast looks to be beneficial for some of us. But not for others.

The strongest of this evidence suggests that breakfast is most important for malnourished or impoverished children. But, for other populations, it seems to bejust another meal. No better. No worse. Completely negotiable.

Are there benefits to skipping breakfast?

There’s also the new data showing that skipping breakfast might not be so bad after all.

Folks with Type 2 diabeties, for example, did better in this study when they skipped breakfast altogether and ate a larger lunch.

Other folks who were told to skip breakfast ended up eating less overall compared to breakfast eaters.

And skipping breakfast is also just as effective as eating breakfast for weight loss.

Of course, we can play dueling studies all day long. I can show a study suggesting one thing. You can find a study suggesting the opposite. And, in the end, when it comes to the value of breakfast, we’d be at a scientific stalemate.

Which is why I often look at what’s happening outside of the literature.

The breakfast skipping movement.

In the popular media and across the web, an interesting breakfast counter-culture is cropping up. A virtual army of people intentionally skipping breakfast are sharing a host of health benefits they’ve experienced since getting rid of their morning meal.

This movement is part of a larger one known as intermittent fasting; the most popular form involves skipping breakfast each day, extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before until lunch the next day.

There are other types of fasting that involve even longer fasts each day, extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before to dinner the next day. And other types that even suggest skipping meals for one or two entire days each week.

And the reported health effects of an intelligently designed intermittent fasting program read like a laundry list of live longer, live better benefits including:

Reduced:
blood lipids, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer

Increased:
Cell turnover and repair, fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate

Improved:
Appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity

And, yes, many experts believe that skipping breakfast is part of the magic here.

(To read more about intermittent fasting, including a review of the most popular types and a summary of my own personal experiments, click here.)

So, will skipping breakfast be better for me?

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Preliminary evidence suggests that skipping breakfast can:

· increase fat breakdown
· increase the release of growth hormone (which has anti-aging and fat loss benefits)
· improve blood glucose control
· improve cardiovascular function
· decrease food intake

However, the truth is, most of this research has been done in animals, with only a few conclusive human studies. So, while intriguing, there’s certainly no guarantee that these changes in our physiology will actually lead to long-term benefits.

In fact, many times, immediate changes are corrected for, and balanced out, later. That’s why acute changes don’t always lead to chronic ones.

Also, anecdotally, skipping breakfast seems to be a mixed bag.

Many report great results from skipping breakfast and having fewer, but larger, meals each day. Others report that it provides no benefit. Yet others report some really negative effects, such as decreased energy, lack of focus, and disrupted sleep.

Clearly eating breakfast — or skipping it — is not a panacea. Of course, no nutritional solution ever is.

What to do now.

The take-home message here is pretty simple: Breakfast is optional.

(Which means it’s not “the most important meal of the day.”)

  • If you love breakfast, are doing well with eating it, and feel like it’s helping you accomplish your health and/or fitness goals: Keep at it!
  • If you’re not a breakfast person, function really well without it, and are accomplishing your health and/or fitness goals: there’s no harm in waiting until later.

Of course, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that  matters too. But that’s another topic for another day.

By: John Berardi, Ph.D.

 

Interview with Dr. Jason Fung: Author of Unlocking the Obesity Code

Good news -- all those diets you've been on that didn't work were set up to fail. Dr. Jason Fung is the author of "The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss," and says counting calories and cutting fat aren't the keys to losing weight.