Sunday, May 17, 2009

Diet your Way – Part 2

In the previous article, I mentioned how dieting doesn’t have to be a complex process.
Its technical understand can be gruesome but the process is certainly straightforward. As if dieting wasn't simple enough, there's also flexibility built into it. It's made to order for the individual. We know that each person is different, both physically and psychologically. You can't give everyone the same exact diet and expect them to all respond in the same manner like machines. That's why I urge you to experiment with the diet. I've given you the basic principles. It's up to you to mold and shape the fine points to your own unique body, mind and goals. See how your body responds to different types of dieting techniques and pace yourself accordingly.
Any part of dieting can be modified to fit the needs of the individual as long as you stay in the fat burning mode. You may adjust the calories you're eating for the best results, but you should stick to the basics for 60 days.

Diet your Way – Part 1

Too often people think that the solution to a problem has to be complex. They measure the worth of a program by how difficult it is to follow. They believe that the worth of the diet program increases with its intensity. If they're counting every calorie like it's their last, memorizing point value charts and poring over recipe books, they figure they've really got something. They think that the only good diet is an impossible diet. Simplicity and practicality are to be avoided at all cost. They plan for failure. When it comes, they can actually be satisfied. Many people look at dieting, see it doesn't contain endless charts and a 50-page recipe section and figure it's just too easy to be on the level. Well, they're wrong. The true measure of a diet is whether it works, and the diet will work when given a chance with dedication and commitment. It’s definitely not trouble-free but you can customize it to your needs, if it brings you any results. In time, all we have done is fine tune the diet we were made to live on and bring it up to the highest nutritional and performance standards. Though the scientific principles behind its success may be a bit involved, the diet itself is quite easy to carry out. Bottom line, there's not a whole lot to it. Once you’ve figured out the lowest level of carbohydrates that works best for you, you’re well on your way.

Nutritional Supplements

The goal of any diet is to give you a sensible, lifelong program for weight maintenance and fitness. I've already told you how the diet decreases appetite, burns body fat, manipulates key hormones in the body to limit body fat levels, and provide a foundation for body toning and shaping. I've also told you about the importance of exercise in any strategy for shaping the body and maintaining a firm, fit look.

While diet and exercise are the two major components to any weight control program, there's one more piece in the puzzle that often goes overlooked or misunderstood: nutritional supplements. By nutritional supplements, I mean the necessary vitamins that are required to stay healthy. If you're going to go "all out" in your effort to reinvent your body, nutritional supplements can be beneficial. Even if your goals are more modest and you're simply looking to lose weight, keep it off and increase your chances for health and a long life, supplements can play a key role.

Caution: - Please consult your physician for your requirements on nutritional supplements.

Are You Eating Compulsively?

Many people eat as a way of dealing with anxiety. Once stress rears its ugly head, they're on their way to the refrigerator. Several studies have shown that overweight people are more responsive to emotional stimuli and that anxiety is frequently associated with increased food intake. Try to deal with stress by using relaxation, exercise or another positive approach. While food may trigger a hormonal response to make you feel better over the short term, eating to cope with anxiety can only be destructive and unhealthy over the long run.

External factors also such as people who may, either consciously or unconsciously, try to get you off your diet also add your bad eating habits. If you find yourself with a dinner date that's constantly trying to load you up with foods you don't want, you may want to make a change. The same applies to someone who may be critical of your diet or unsupportive around the dinner table. You need to stay in control of what you eat at all times. Try to be around people who support your diet program. At this stage, you need to be encouraged as much as possible.

When Do You Eat?

If you find yourself eating at 7 A.M., noon and 6 P.M. whether you're hungry or not you're probably doing yourself a disservice. You should eat when you're hungry, not by the clock. This may mean adjusting your meal schedule to eating at different times or simply eating several small meals during the day at times when hunger strikes as discussed earlier. If possible, you may want to change your lunch hour at work or snack briefly during the workday so you can eat when your stomach tells you to. Another factor you should keep in mind is that as the day progresses your metabolic rate slows down. So when you wake up, do not spend a lot of time before you consume your breakfast. This will jump start your engine and your metabolic rate will be at the maximum; thus helping your remain energetic and burn more calories throughout the day. In the evening, as your body comes to a rest, keep your dinners on a low calorie diet. Your body slows down during the night and a high calorie diet will only deter your program in losing weight.

How Quickly Are You Eating?

If you're the kind of person who gobbles down their food when they eat, you should realize you're doing yourself an injustice. I stress this to everyone that is on a diet program. When you eat, concrete on the food you eat. Focus your time on chewing and savoring your food, rather than entertaining yourself, Not only are you denying yourself full enjoyment of the food you're eating, but research has shown that bolting food keeps the body from recognizing "satiety signals" that let you know you've eaten enough, are no longer hungry and should stop. It takes time for the brain to get the signal that you're full, usually 15-20 minutes. If you eat more slowly, your body will tell you when you're full and your hunger will be more accurately assessed. Start your meals with a glass of water. If necessary, put your fork down after each mouthful to allow more time for chewing.

Keeping Track

Though you will find weight loss easier on your diet, you're still going to run into periods where the weight just seems glued on. You can't seem to take it off. At this point, many people panic. The fact is, these setbacks are very natural and you can't concern yourself with them too much.
In fact, the longer you're on any diet the harder it is to lose weight. There are several explanations for this. As you lose weight, you'll need fewer calories per day to function than when you were heavier. It's easy to see that an 1800-calorie diet will result in weight loss for a 110 Kg person but the same diet won't do much when you weigh 60 Kg. As you lose weight, you'll have to adjust calories to continue losing weight at the same level. Because the diet takes a more gradual approach to weight loss, this won't be as much of a problem for many people, but, still, at some point in the process you'll get to a level where it will become harder to lose. So keep track of your progress and increase your effort as your progress becomes minimal.

How Fast Should I Lose Weight?

Most people have no idea what a reasonable weekly weight loss should be. They listen to some of the diet gurus and think they should be losing one or two pounds a day. In other cases, they've dieted before and found themselves starving their way to massive losses the first week or so before giving up and gaining it all back again when they found the diet impossible.

The fact is that almost anybody can lose 2-4 Kg the first week of a diet and many can lose half that amount in the second week. I've known people who required a very limited calorie diet losing as much as 12 Kg in the first two weeks. But this kind of diet is not for everyone.

As per your customized diet program, you should habituate to the diet, and then aim at losing around ½ to1 kg a week. Losing this amount makes for realistic goals and insures that you won't lose appreciable body tone as weight is dropped. After all, the point here is not just to lose weight but also to create an attractive and fit body.


Alcohol can induce or exaggerate essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency states, and can block the metabolism for giving us the desired effects of fat burning. Most people don’t realize that not only alcohol is high on calories, but it also slows down our metabolism. Many alcoholics crave carbohydrates when they're not drinking. Though you'd expect the serotonin production in alcohol stimulated by a high carbohydrate meal to improve their mood, it doesn't. On the contrary, I've found that it creates a substantial deterioration of their mood in the longer run. The deterioration in mood makes it more likely that these alcoholics will begin drinking again. Alcohol also stimulates sleep for a short period but eventually the effects fade away. This causes deprivation of sleep and lethargy throughout the day. Try to avoid drinking alcohol when following any diet program as it will disrupt many variables that help you lose weight. If you are socializing, you can temporarily replace alcoholic drinks for a fresh (non-canned) orange or lemon juice.

Frequent Meals

Most people on a diet end up starving themselves. They're constantly thinking about food. When's my next meal? What can I eat? What can't I eat? That doesn't happen on this diet.
Sometimes, our body requires more calories to maintain itself. Even when losing weight, you're probably not going to be starving yourself as you would be on a high carbohydrate diet. You won't have those cravings where you want to eat 10 chocolate bars.

The fact is, even if you're scarcely consuming calories and you've really got the diet dialed in for maximum weight loss, you may get some hunger but nothing like you'll get on that high carbohydrate diet.

A technique which many people apply during dieting is eating frequent shorter meals. For example if you have three portions of meals during the day, then you can cut the portion in half and consume six portions in a day. This will require some discipline and time for your body to adjust to the quantity of the smaller portion. But it will help you not only with your cravings, but also your metabolic rate will remain high.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Protecting Protein

One important by-product of the "metabolic shift" that takes place when you move from a high carbohydrate to a good lower carbohydrate diet is that fat protects protein in the body. When you're utilizing carbohydrates as your main source of energy, the body tends to save its body fat and will preferentially take muscle protein, break it down and form glucose from it to burn as energy when the immediate energy stores are exhausted. This is why on a high carbohydrate diet a significant amount of muscle catabolism can take place. This event must be avoided during any form of dieting as the loss in muscle mass will make it easier for you to gain weight in the future.

The fact is that anytime you're exercising and the body needs energy it will break down what it needs, including muscle, to supply that energy. Therefore, if your dieting and exercising in the same program, then make sure you are on a high carbohydrate diet.

Increase your Energy

Many people complain about a loss of energy when they go on a diet. They may feel tired and weak and this is understandable because, on a high carbohydrates diet, they're also losing a lot of muscle and strength. Their body may be losing fat, but it's also losing its tone and spring. As well, the higher-carbohydrates levels lead to ups and downs of insulin levels and the consequent changes in mood and energy.

If you go back and forth between diets like some people have tried to do, the constant transitioning between high fat and high carbohydrates metabolisms will also really take it out of you.

By opting for the right diet program customized for you, you can retain your energy when the body makes a metabolic shift to burning fat for energy. You will know that the diet program is working for you, when you lose weight and find yourself energetic throughout the day.


Poor lifestyle choices such as not getting enough sleep and chronic stress predispose one to insulin resistance, secondary to elevated stress hormones such as cortisol and the catecholamines.
You need to develop a good sleeping habit. While some people can get away with as little as six hours or less a day, most people need at least seven and sometimes up to ten hours a day. This can be done either straight through at night or with a 6-8 hour stretch at night and a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon. Sleep deprivation adversely affects hormone function. Sleep less for a few days and you will notice that your metabolism slows down and your craving for food goes up. Also sleeping the appropriate duration of hours allows you to burn more calories at rest.

Keep your lifestyle as disciplined as possible and you will notice that the discipline trend will follow in your dieting routine and make it easier for you to lose and maintain your weight.

Exercise and Cholesterol

I cannot stress this enough, but daily exercise is the key to a healthy body. It's been shown that exercise is one of the most effective ways to control cholesterol levels and it works even if you don't lose weight. This is the message from a study out of Duke University Medical. This is the first study to demonstrate that exercise alone, independent of weight loss or diet changes, can reduce the risk of heart disease by a considerable margin.

The bottom line is that exercise is good for you even if you don't lose weight. On the other hand, if you exercise, lose weight and body fat, the health results are even better. In all, exercise and a proper balance of fats should be a part of any good diet and approach to cardiovascular health.

The Good Fat

When looking at dietary fat, it's important to remember that fat is actually an essential part of a healthy person's diet. Some people have restricted their fat intake to a mere 5-10 percent of their diet and this can have serious effects on overall health. The fact is that reducing fat intake to 20 percent or less is foolish. Many people believe hat the lower the fat in your diet, the healthier your diet will be. They don't realize that some fat is absolutely essential to your health. Nor do they know the difference between which fats are good and which are bad for your health. Further, it's seldom understood that a low-fat diet may actually increase your chance for cardiovascular disease because the reduction in dietary fat can adversely affect blood lipids such as triglycerides and HDL, and the vital intake of essential fatty acids.

Unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are called essential fatty acids, or EFAs, because, although they are very important, the body cannot manufacture them, at least not in the form in which they occur. A balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is necessary to good health.

Overeating - Part 2

In the previous article, I discussed the explanation for the failure of high leptin levels to defend against weight gain. If you think about this failure, it makes good evolutionary sense. Your body doesn't want to be lean but it doesn't really mind getting fat. This is because, during our evolution, being fat was never a risk, while being lean was. If anything, getting fat was a benefit which is why our bodies tend to be so good at it. It's only in modern times when people can get and, more importantly, stay fat for extended periods, that being fat is a problem. Ten thousand years from now, perhaps we will evolve defenses against being fat.

Anyhow, if calories are available all the time, it would make little sense for you to get full and/or start burning them off. This is what would happen if you were extremely sensitive to leptin (and does happen in a small percentage of individuals). Thus, high levels of leptin induce resistance to itself, keeping you hungry and eating while the food is available. Leptin can induce resistance to itself in only a few days of overeating. But we're not really talking about raising leptin above normal here; we're talking about reversing or preventing the drop that occurs with dieting. In that situation, many of the above adaptations to dieting will reverse to one degree or another. What degree will depend on how lean you are, how long you diet, and how long you will overeat.

Overeating - Part 1

To a great degree, most of the adaptations that occur with dieting reverse when you overeat. Actually, that depends a lot on the situation. As I mentioned before, the body as a whole tends to defend against underfeeding better than it does against overfeeding which is why it's generally easier to gain weight than to lose it. Studies where leptin has been increased above normal (i.e. to try and cause weight loss in overweight individuals) have generally borne this out: except at massive doses, raising leptin above normal does very little.

There are a couple of theories as to why this might be the case. One theory is that normal
leptin levels send essentially a 100% signal, that is they tell the body that all systems are normal. It should seem clear that raising leptin above 100% isn't going to do much. Another possibility is related to something I alluded to above: leptin sensitivity and resistance. It's thought that people have varying degrees of leptin resistance which means, in essence, that they don't respond as well to leptin as they should. On top of this, when leptin levels go up, then it appears to stimulate resistance to itself. That is, when leptin gets and stays high, it causes you to become resistant to its effects.

Diet Tips 2

· Try to keep your night meals to a minimum. During the nights, your metabolic rate slows down as your body prepares to rest itself during sleep. Thus, you will burn fewer calories and produce more fat if you eat a rich and heavy meal at night. Avoid products with fat and even carbohydrates. Instead, prepare a night meal which consists of fruits and salads, which are easily digestible.

· Shop intelligently. When you go to the supermarket, think and analyze the food products you buy with respect to their calories. Similar products vary in their calorie count and picking the right products will save you valuable extra weight.
· Maintain a diary of what you eat and update it regularly. This will help you in your future diet plans by allowing you to set an appropriate ration for yourself.
· Control your urge by distracting yourself. When you have the urge to eat, avoid junk food by consuming a glass of water. Chewing sugar-free gum also helps in tackling food urges. But at all costs, avoid eating junk food.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Drawbacks of Dieting – Muscle Loss

Along with the good effects of dieting, a lot of bad things start to happen. Basically, when you diet, the chemicals in your body send a message to your brain saying that your body is not getting enough food. This causes changes in the various neuro-chemicals stimulating a number of negative adaptations. I want you to note that the response is not immediate; there is a lag time between the changes in all of these hormones and the body's response. But that's not all.
There are also many other adaptations which occur when you diet, so let's look at some of those. First and foremost, the drop in leptin directly affects liver, skeletal muscle and fat cell metabolism, mostly for the worse. While the drop in Insulin mentioned above causes better fat mobilization, it causes other problems. Insulin is anti-catabolic to muscle, inhibiting muscle breakdown. The increase in cortisol that occurs with dieting enhances protein breakdown as well as stimulating the conversion of protein to glucose in the liver. Additionally, a fall in energy state of the muscle impairs protein synthesis (although it increases fatty acid oxidation). The mechanism behind this is more detail than I want to get into here. But the combined effect of these processes is that protein synthesis is decreased and breakdown is accelerated, eventually resulting in muscle loss.

A Chemical Known as Leptin

Leptin is a protein, released primarily from fat cells, although other tissues such as muscle also contribute slightly. Leptin levels primarily associate with body fat percentage; the more fat you have the more leptin you tend to have. At any given body fat percentage, women typically produce 2-3 times as much leptin as men. In addition to being related to the amount of body fat you have, leptin levels are also related to how much you're eating. For example, in response to dieting, leptin levels may drop by 50% within a week (or less) although you obviously haven't lost 50% of your body fat. After that initial rapid drop, there is a slower decrease in leptin related to the loss of body fat that is occurring. In response to overeating, leptin tends to rebound equally quickly (much faster than you're gaining body fat). In contrast to what you might think, it looks like leptin production by fat cells is mainly determined by glucose availability (you'd think it was fat intake). So whenever you start pulling glucose out of the fat cell (dieting), leptin levels go down; when you drive glucose into fat cells, it goes up. Basically, leptin represents two different variables: how much body fat you're carrying and how much you're eating. That is, it acts as a signal to the rest of your body about your energy stores.

Doing Two Things at Once

One fundamental problem is that our bodies aren't typically good at doing two things at once, especially when those things are at odds with one another, or have different fundamental requirements. For example, study after study has shown that combining heavy strength training with heavy endurance training compromises the overall results. Why? Strength training sends the muscle a signal to become bigger and stronger and more efficient at using glucose for fuel; endurance training send a signal to become more energy efficient (which typically means smaller because smaller muscle fibers can get energy more readily) and utilize more fat for fuel. End result is that the body can't do both optimally and you get less than stellar results when you try to do both. How does this apply to losing fat and gaining muscle? In short, they have different (and, in fact, mutually exclusive) requirements. That is, gaining muscle and losing fat require different scenarios in terms of nutrition, hormones, etc. In fact, the specific requirements for gaining muscle are also the reason that you tend to gain fat at the same time. Similarly, the requirements for fat loss are part of the reason (along with your body's adaptations) that you will lose muscle at the same time. Thus, talk to a fitness expert and develop an exercise plan that delivers the results you seek.

Eat your Vegetables

Vegetables can be considered as chemical reagents that are essential to improve human nutrition and health with various chemicals and different bioactivities. Vegetables and fruits provide excellent sources of nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as non-nutrient chemicals such as sulfur-containing compounds. The non-nutrient chemicals may provide to the normal functioning of the human body. Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects on human health from consumption of vegetables and fruits. The antioxidant composition and capacity of vegetables and fruits relative to intake data are important to understand the health implications of various diet patterns. It has been reported that vegetables ranked in the top ten in an antioxidant format include sweet potato leaf, ginger, amaranth, spinach, eggplant, leafy cabbage, tomato and onion. Thus, regularly consume these vegetables, as they are essential for the development and maintenance of your health.

How Dieting Works

So you decide to diet, reducing carbohydrates, calories or maybe both. Your body will continuously adjust through the process of dieting as well as exercising. Through this process, your blood glucose and insulin levels are going to be reduced. This is good as it releases the "block" on fat mobilization and causes blood fatty acid levels to increase. This is also good, as it tends to promote fat burning in tissues such as the liver and the muscles. This effect is facilitated if you deplete liver and muscle glycogen, as glycogen depletion tends to increase the use of fatty acids for fuel. The increase in blood fatty acid levels also has the short-term effect of causing insulin resistance. As I mentioned, this is a good thing on a diet since it spares glucose and helps promote fat oxidation. So keep low on those carbohydrates and fat calories to get positive results on your weight loss programs.