Category Archives: Easy Dieting Tips

Why Do We So Often Choose Junk Food Over Veggies

We have this nasty habit of implicitly making the choice. We choose unhealthy foods over fruits and veggies, even though we know they’re unhealthy. According to a new study by researchers at McGill University at the Montreal Neurological Institute, this is because our brains implicitly value and want higher calorie foods.

The researchers surveyed participants, asking them about how much money they would spend on junk foods and healthier foods. They used participants who had never dieted before. So they didn’t really necessarily know how many calories were in any given food, but they consistently were willing to pay more for the junk food.

Alan Dagher, neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital explained that when you eat, the nutrients obviously go to your brain, setting off pleasure responses. Our brains learn what nutrients are present in the foods we consume. This is necessary, because humans are omnivores – we eat all kinds of things. So our bodies have to tell us what we need so that we shape our diets.

When you make your food choices, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex looks at it and makes decisions. Dagher says, It’s the part of the brain that calculates value. In our study, that area of the brain tracked calorie density. This suggests that the caloric density of food is what determines the value. In other words, the brain thinks about calories, not vitamins or proteins.

It’s all instinctual and based in history. If you come across a plentiful food supply, you can consume that now, store the calories as fat, and then you’ll have them to burn later on. This was advantageous until maybe 30 years ago. It’s only recently that we have very cheap food year-round.

So maybe it was not that people were making healthier food choices in past generations. They just didn’t have the reliable supply of food coming in….I wouldn’t personally put that as recently as 30 years though.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Wrecking Your Diet?

I get it, sugar is bad, but are you really doing yourself any favors when you use artificial sweeteners? These zero calorie substitutes are sweeters than normal sugar, obviously they have no calories or little calories, and it seems pretty appealing. Diabetics are often told that they should use things like Stevia to avoid the problems often associated with too much sugar, especially when you have diabetes.

The truth is that even if you don’t specifically look for them, they are in everything. Drinks, snacks and desserts. Start reading food labels and you’ll be surprised how integrated into our food supply they are, according to Dr. Mike Roussell PhD, nutritionist and author who is also an adviser to Men’s Health Magazine.

Unfortunately, there are some studies indicating that artificial sweeteners may actually cause you to gain weight, and there are some potentially nasty health consequences that you may never have imagined.

Artificial sweeteners have unlocked a $1 billion market annually in the US alone. People love the idea of more sugar without the actual sugar or the calories that we blame for making us fat. On one side, yes, we crave sweets, and this fulfills our desire for sweets. During our hunter gatherer days, we needed the calories, and our bodies translated that taste to giving us the sweetness we needed.

Unfortunately, some researchers say that your body doesn’t understand the difference. When you eat artificial sweeteners, they say that you are retraining your body to think that all sweet things must have few or no calories, which ultimately leads you to eat more later on and gain weight.

Others say that it’s more insidious. According to some researchers, Sucralose, aka Splenda, may alter and inhibit metabolism and interfere with the body’s absorption of certain medications.

The average American today eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar per day according to the 2005 and 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The American Heart Association guidelines believe this is far more than you should be eating. They recommend a mere 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.

Sugar has been connected to everything from heart disease to diabetes depending on who you talk to. There are some studies that have even shown sugar to have addictive qualities. Our bodies ultimately have the same addictive type reaction to the calorie free alternatives. The difference is that replacements may not be as chemically simple for the body to process, causing complications with weight, and some would even say with serious diseases like cancer.

Roussell explains, There are so many different kinds of zero or low calorie sweeteners. They are created from a variety of things. Some are plant derived, like stevia, some are sugar alcohols, like xylitol and some are modified sugar molecules, like Splenda. They all have their own unique sweetness and taste.

There are studies indicating that artificial sweeteners could harm the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can be scary in and of itself. New studies indicate more essential roles for the beneficial bacteria in your gut every day, lifesaving differences even.

However, when it comes to weight, they suggest that Artificial sweeteners are a crutch that don’t force people to deal with deeper issues of regulating calorie intake. So in other words, it feeds our desire to not be honest with ourselves about exactly how many calories we are actually taking in at any given time.

Julieanna Hever, dietitian and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition says, Artificial sweeteners are designed specifically to be exceedingly sweet, upwards of hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than table sugar. Because of this, taste buds acclimate to a heightened threshold of sweetness, perpetuating sugar cravings, and making it exceedingly challenging to overcome sugar addiction.

So do you want to lose weight? Chances are you should skip out on more sugar and practice more self control. If you can practice more control instead of trying to substitute in ways to cheat like artificial sweeteners, then you will see true health and weight loss improvements.

The Best Diet Is The One You Will Stick To

Popular diets make claims of amazing and miraculous weight loss results. They all claim to help you to drop the pounds, be hotter, and feel healthier and sexier. Of course, they have done study after study on what the best diet is, and there have been some diet creators who get upset every time their diet doesn’t make the top spot. What they don’t understand is that as great as a diet may be in theory, it’s not that great if dieters can’t stick to it. So yes, it is based on human error, but that’s the reality of life.

So don’t feel bad if you don’t lose weight on that hardcore low carb diet, because you just can’t discipline yourself into doing it. Don’t keep hitting your head against the wall. Try another diet. If you love carbs for example, there is a new 80% carb diet that is becoming more and more popular.

Researchers recently looked at data from nearly 50 separate studies, including 7,300 participants. They wanted to compare several diets to see about the difference between limiting fats and limiting carbs. According to the study, there was little to no difference between these two common kinds of diets. Those following either diet for 6 months lost an average of about 18 pounds. Those who got behavioral support and exercise were also more likely to be able to lose more weight. Despite the media, there is no one size fits all approach to weight loss that truly works. We have different body types, different preferences, and different struggles, and respecting the way your body works is the best way to really get results.

Study co-author Bradley Johnston, assistant professor of clinical epidemiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario says, Given that the diets are relatively equal, individuals should choose the diet that they think that they can best adhere to. For example if someone tends to be vegetarian, it might make sense for them to choose a low-fat diet.

Of course, I would still stay away from crazy strict diets that may eliminate necessary and essential nutrients. However, if you look at diets like the Ornish and Rosemary Conley diets for example, which focus on low fat, or the South Beach or Zone diets, both low carb diets, you can get a balanced approach that can tailor itself to you.

Johnston says, We didn’t look at other health outcomes, such as blood sugar and so forth. We are hoping to look at that as our next question.

Whatever your diet, balance is key. The bottom line in weight loss is that you have to eat less calories than you need in order to drive a change in your weight, so whatever diet that’s going to help a person accomplish that is the one that they might want to follow.

Focus on the longrun, not a short term fix. Choose something that you can keep up for a long time to come, possibly even the rest of your life. If you focus on say the Atkins diet and you love your carbs so much you have to go back, you may lose weight at first. The problem is you quickly end up gaining it back.

Things To Do Throughout The Day To Lose Weight

The number one excuse for not losing weight: I don’t have time. Yes, there are those who blame genetics and this and that, but most of us complain about not having enough time for it all. That’s why we go to fast food places, that’s why we don’t exercise as much. It’s a long and complicated list. I’ve seen the women who seem to just be naturally skinny with envy, and yes, there are some who really are just naturally thin. In most cases though, they are doing the work that the rest of us aren’t, and sometimes, they do it naturally.

If you want to lose weight though, one of the best things that you can do is to integrate this kind of plan into your day. Make it a natural extension.

  1. 20 Push-Ups As You Wake: You wake up, and you have your routine, right? You brush your teeth, shower, and you can integrate a quick workout into your morning. Do 20 push-ups, 20 crunches, and 20 jumping jacks. This doesn’t take too long, and it can get your calories going. If you can do a 20 minute run, all the better. It burns calories, and you jumpstart your day.
  2. Get Your Protein: Remember to get your lean protein throughout the day. If you eat right, you can eat eggs for example in the morning, chicken at other meals, etc. More protein can help you to burn more fat while also feeding and maintaining healthy muscles. Eggs provide a nutritional powerhouse, and you can also consider other sources such as salmon, which is also high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Take the Stairs: Don’t wait in line for the elevator, and definitely don’t take it if you only have to go one or two flights up. Take the stairs and burn a few calories on each bound. If your office is higher up, you get more exercise, and it can help you to schedule better. Give yourself a little bit more time for this exercise.
  4. Take Advantage Of Your Lunch Break: When you have a lunch break, don’t sit around. Take that time to go for a quick run, take advantage of the weights in your gym, and otherwise get some quick exercise that will help you to get moving and burn some extra calories.
  5. Get A Salad: I know, there are so many choices, and I’m not talking about a Cafe Rio salad. I’m talking about a green filled salad with some lean protein. Replace your usual fries, dressing drenched salad, or other food that is not necessarily as healthy. Definitely skip the pizza. You will feel better for it.
  6. Get To Bed Earlier: Early to bed, early to rise. Get to bed a little earlier and get your sleep. This will help you to unwind, allow your body to properly recoup itself, and you will find that your metabolism will be better throughout the day.

How To Keep Your Metabolism Soaring

We all blame metabolism for our troubles losing weight. The truth is that obese people actually have the highest metabolism (I know, ironic). But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your metabolism running if you’re not morbidly obese, to ideally keep your weight under control or even lose weight. It’s a process. You burn more calories by running than sitting, by doing jumping jacks rather than just sitting there, etc. You don’t have to run all day though. There’s no reason why your body can’t continue to burn calories throughout the day.

In short, metabolism has hormones and enzymes working to convert your food into fuel. You then have energy to do daily tasks as simple as thinking and as active as running. Your metabolism will be at its peak when you are doing something like running. While exercise is essential, here is your more complete way to keep your metabolism going for a longer stride.

According to Paul Arciero Ed.D, professor of exercise and nutrition at Skidmore College and director of the school’s Human Nutrition and Metabolism Lab, The best trick to keep your metabolism high after you work out is eating 20 to 30 grams of protein, preferably whey. Your body naturally takes more time to digest protein, and yet it gets healthy calories. You can burn 25% of the protein you bring in just by eating it. It also feeds your muscle, which helps you to maintain your metabolism in and of itself.

Of course, this is just one thing. You have to balance things out and ultimately it will be a lifestyle. However, the question is just how effective will you be? How much work will you be willing to do?

Get Off A Weight Loss Plateau

It’s always frustrating when you can’t get the scale to budget, whether that’s for 1 week or 6. This is especially problematic when you feel that you have done everything right. You’ve tried to be good about diet and exercise. You’ve tried to cover everything, but you’re not seeing the results. You’re not alone.

Bob Sullivan, co-author of The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck to Success, The first thing our research shows is that everything hits a plateau. Every good idea, diet program, marriage and professional athlete eventually stops working. This is the most confusing thing about any endeavor, and it’s particularly frustrating for people trying to lose weight. Fortunately, there are ways to turn things around.

The most obvious ways would be to significantly cut calories or exercise significantly more, but both have their limits, especially if you do both. You cannot necessarily keep either up for an extended period, and then you’ll hit a point where you hit a plateau again. The same thing applies if you’re just using your same old workout routine. That may actually be the problem. On a regular basis, you do better by mixing things up. Don’t just run. Try high-intensity interval training every once in a while. Try yoga from time to time.

When you can keep your body interested in its exercise (not predictable) with a healthy diet plan, you can set yourself up for the best success. It’s just a matter of working it out for your body.

  1. De-emphasize the scale – I know, it’s easy to get obsessed with the scale, but change that around. It’s incomplete, and there are a lot of factors to weight, including the very easily lost and gained water weight. Instead, take into account body fat, weight, and your inches. Utilize other metrics that you can measure, even including something like if you have more energy. Set different types of goals and work towards them. Something as simple as lowering your heart rate could be attainable and effective. You can then celebrate your successes.
  2. Enlist an honest friend – Get a solid support system and an honest friend that can help you to reach your goals. You could find a friend who is willing to exercise with you, someone who has similar goals, or someone who can simply hold you to your commitments. Find someone who you are willing to be completely honest with and someone who you can check in with daily, or on some kind of regular basis. They can help you to stay on track, even when you’re facing temptation that you would give into on your own.
  3. Don’t focus on old habits. Focus on starting new ones – If you’re obsessed with breaking old habits, you are always focusing on what you can’t have. On the other hand, if you focus on creating new habits, you are going to give yourself something new, something fresh even. Try swapping unhealthy foods out for healthier ones. So in short, you’re not telling yourself that you can’t have ice cream. You’re telling yourself that Greek yogurt is better. It helps you to stay in a positive mindset. You can even switch up your goals on a daily basis if you need to.
  4. Give yourself a hand – There are plenty of people who overeat because they are bored or emotional. They are hurting and in pain. So they eat when they’re not necessarily hungry. Be aware of what you do. Be aware of if you’re actually hungry or just emotional or bored. Try going out for a run or even playing a video game instead of going to food. It won’t be easy at first, but you will get used to it.
  5. Get things cleaned up – Stock your house and your pantry with whole foods. Skip out on the junk food and give yourself better options rather than surrounding yourself with temptations. It seems odd, but if you clean up your kitchen, you can put yourself in better control. Even simply cleaning and organizing your kitchen can help you to feel in control internally according to Dr Albers.
  6. Stop obsessing about your dietThe time you spend away from a problem is just as important as the time you spend trying to solve that problem. You are not going to do everything perfect every day. So don’t stress about it all the time. Do your best. If you make a mistake, let it go and start over. Don’t obsess about fixing problems. Try focusing on creating new solutions and winning. You can always start from today.