Category Archives: Weight Loss

The Problem With Hidden Eating Disorders

When you think of an eating disorder, you think of a skinny little girl who looks like a walking skeleton. There are people who don’t fit that mold though. Maybe they’re not skinny enough to be sick. Maybe they were obese before, and now you think they’re finally getting healthy. As Brittany Miles, a woman who had struggled with a less obvious eating disorder, puts it, Just because my bone structure stopped me from being the size 00 everyone pictures, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t in an incredibly unsafe and unhealthy place.

A person’s weight or physical appearance is not the only thing that can indicate an eating disorder, but it’s often the default thing we look for. It can cause incidents like that of Frances Chen being nearly expelled for being unable to gain weight when her family is actually naturally thin. There are also some who actually gain weight with bulimia.

Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) says, Weight can be an indicator of an eating disorder, but it certainly isn’t the only one or even the best one.

Our society faces some serious misunderstandings and confusions about what we see as an eating disorder, and it’s not just our family or friends. Your doctor can, and sometimes does, miss the signs. Grefe adds, It used to be that a girl had to miss her period for a certain amount of time to be considered anorexic, but that is no longer true. The most important thing in diagnosing an eating disorder is the mental part of it. It is the obsession with food, the nagging thoughts, the consumption.

There are those hidden eating disorder stories that end happily. Someone recognizes them, they get help, and they are able to recover. Unfortunately, especially when they don’t fit our expectations of what an eating disorder is, there are many more who fly under the radar until it’s too late.

Cut Calories And Still Feel Full

One of the most common things we think when we think about dieting is that we’ll be hungry all the time, and it’s not completely false. When most people cut calories, it means eating less, and going through that process of shrinking your stomach, it can really leave you hungry.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to feel this way. There are plenty of foods and combinations that are healthy and can be filling, and moreover, they can actually taste pretty good. All of these things are things that people aren’t necessarily familiar with. The key is focusing on 3 things: water, protein, and fiber. The old adage that if you think you’re hungry, you might actually be thirsty is very true, more true than many might think.

When it comes to protein and fiber, you are also keeping yourself more regular, and you are helping yourself to maintain and build more muscles. Before you start jumping into all the foods you think are rich in water, protein, and fiber though, let’s take a closer look at the balance you may want to achieve. You don’t want to go into this willy nilly. If you are really hungry, reach for these foods to really get fewer calories for more weight loss while still filling up:

  1. Choose filling grains – This could be something like oatmeal with blueberries for example. If you want to maximize your feelings of fullness, you can look into 100% whole grains like brown rice and certain types of cereal. It will provide a filling fiber with oats, and the fiber can also help you to balance out your blood sugar levels while maintaining healthy regularity, as opposed to sugary breakfasts.
  2. Stick to Black – You can go with black rice instead of white rice or for that matter brown rice. Yes, brown rice can be healthy, and it has more fiber. However, black rice has a good dose of fiber and antioxidants, and it has fewer carbs than either white or brown rice. It doesn’t have white rice at the base of it, and it can still be filling with just 90 calories compared to 102 calories in white rice and 108 calories in brown rice. You can mix black rice into salads, burritos, and more.
  3. Energy Burning Greens – If you choose things like broccoli, you get veggies that can actually burn more calories. Broccoli is full of healthy vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, and this negative calorie effect can help you to lose weight. Of course, the calories that you see on the labels are actually the calories minus what you have to burn to digest them. So there really is no such thing as a negative calorie food, but they are still extremely low calorie. You can also lean toward asparagus, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, and other similar veggies.
  4. Get Into Watermelon – Watermelon is one of the fruits that is most full of water, and of course, it’s still full of taste. It is extremely colorful, and it provides you with a combination of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. It can really help you to satisfy your sweet tooth, and with 2 cups, you get less than 100 calories and nearly half the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
  5. Eat More Beans – Legumes and beans can really provide a great combo of filling protein without animal fats. Some have more fiber, and they can really help you to control your waistline. Some beans have healthy antioxidants to fight harmful free radicals, and it can be included in salads, soups, and the beans can even be eaten alone. Minestrone soup can be one of the healthiest forms of beans.
  6. Start With Soup – If you start with soup, it may be more water than anything else, but it can fill you up before you get started on your main meal. It’s easier for your body to digest, and ultimately, soups could even be a whole meal depending on the one. Go with a veggie based soup, a bean based soup, or something else that is healthy.
  7. Milk, Dairy, and Moo – Yes, there are some milks with chemicals and hormones. If you think it’s right, you may want to try alternatives like soy milk or almond milk. However, you may want to consider more dairy. Studies have shown that regular use of milk and dairy products can help you to stay satisfied and slim. With 3 servings a day of things like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, it can even help with workouts with more protein depending on the form.
  8. Drink Your Way to Green – If you haven’t heard of the green smoothie diet, you may not be entirely familiar with this concept. Green smoothies have been all the rage though, and you can even include green juice. Green mixes are often rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and you can mix a protein blend in if you want. With just 140 calories, you can easily replace meals with a green smoothie, especially with a planned cleanse.

Obese Women Are Different Than Men

Over and over, we’re given options to lose weight this way and that, and they spread them across the board. There are those who blame women’s habits for women having a harder time losing weight than men, but it’s more than that. For one thing, testosterone is a natural fat burner that women just don’t have as much of.

Women actually gain weight for different reasons than men, and it’s not just the basic hormones. Obese women, according to a study in the journal Cell Biology, have a specific, food related learning deficit as they call it that is not observed in obese men or people of healthy weight. This may explain why they gain so much weight.

Researchers looked at this by presenting men and women with different colored squares and then pictures of rewards (food or money). They were then asked to predict the likelihood of a reward after a certain color or pattern. It was only obese women who struggled to accurately predict when a food picture would come, but they easily predicted the money suggesting a different learning curve when it comes to food.

Co-author Ifat Levy PhD, neuroscientist at Yale University says, I must admit that we did not expect a gender difference. She explains that it might be that obese people have additional cognitive loads when it comes to food. Levy continues, Women are generally more concerned about being obese or their appearance, and therefore this load may be heavier for women.

Of course, they will need to conduct more studies to determine if the learning deficit is actually the cause or the other way around. Levy posits, It could be that obese individuals – or at least obese women – fail to flexibly adjust their valuation of food. For example, when we are hungry, food is perceived as highly rewarding. But when we are full, the food is less rewarding and can even be aversive. It is possible that some obese individuals fail to recognize the change in their internal environment, and thus keep regarding the food as highly rewarding even when it should not be.

Levy hopes for her research to help move the field of obesity research along and break into more of the actual causes to find better treatments.

Why Losing Weight Is Harder The Second Time Around

Have you ever noticed how much harder weight loss is getting? It’s not just age. You lost weight before, and then you gained it back, and now it’s just not the same, and that’s part of the problem. There are real physiological reasons why it’s harder to lose the weight the second time around. Rachel Berman, RD, director of health at About.com has gone into this.

It’s encouraging to see results fast and a restrictive diet may lead to more rapid weight loss. However, being on too much of a restrictive diet and losing weight quickly impacts your hunger hormones. In other words, you go too far in your dieting, and your hunger hormones start to strike back. Berman goes on to explain, Dramatic calorie restrictions and extreme dieting decreases your levels of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full, while increasing ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger.

Unfortunately, it keeps getting worse, not better. Even after you’re off the diet, research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that our hormone levels will continue to sabotage us long after our diet is over.

So instead of going down the road of extreme dieting and other destructive approaches, avoid cutting out entire food groups like carbs for example. Make small tweaks to your diet to be healthier, not to lose a ton of weight all at once. At the same time, you will want to keep moving. Berman says, Exercise can not only boost calories burned, but can help regulate the hunger hormone battle.

It’s all about leaving unhealthy calorie restriction behind to make healthier choices, not just lower calorie choices. You can bring in a friend to help you along the way, and frankly, you should. It’s always harder to go it alone.

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.

An Apple A Day Keeps The Fat Away

The old adage an apple a day keeps the doctor away was catchy, but it wasn’t necessarily spot on. In fact, yes, apples are great, but part of what they missed was that you could actually prevent obesity-related inflammation too.

As study author Giuliana Noratto, assistant professor of food science at Washington State University puts it, Apples in general are a package of bioactive compounds including polyphenolics and fiber, which have been shown in several studies to exert health benefits and prevent or delay the progress of diseases related to obesity.

In other words, forget the acai and mangosteen. Forget going to the Amazon rainforest to find that super compound. Apples are right in your backyard. Polyphenols are essentially an antioxidant that can help to stave off cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The fiber in your apples can also help you to stay full and stabilize your blood sugar.

Of course, there are plenty of different varieties of apples. They come in all shapes and sizes as well as flavors. Some are better for baking pies, others for eating fresh they say. There are those such as Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and we all have our preferences on taste. But what about the health benefits? On this, Granny wins.

Noratto says, We identified Granny Smith for its enhanced content of polyphenolics and fiber, and low content of available carbohydrates, which makes it a novel apple to combat obesity.

Once they determined Granny Smith apples to be the best apples, they ran tests to see if they could change the fecal bacteria in obese mice. Of course, we’re not exactly mice, but Noratto believes that obese people often suffer a bacteria imbalance in the colon, which leads to chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders.

Noratto describes this saying, It has been demonstrated that inflammation is the cause of metabolic disorders that lead to increased fat synthesis and fat storage in adipose tissue, liver, and muscle.

The studies have supported the idea that Granny Smith apples can actually change the balance of fecal bacteria in the guts of obese mice, making them look like the leaner mice.

In other words, try adding a little Granny to your day.

Are Alzheimer’s and Obesity Linked to Low Testosterone?

As men age, there are two things that are common. They vary between men of course, but testosterone levels tend to fall, and the waistline increases. It becomes harder to maintain a fit body, and some men even go through what is jokingly called manopause. For most men, testosterone levels fall by approximately 15 every year after age 30. Obesity levels have grown from about 8% in 1980 to about 25% today. This particular change in hormones can also affect the way the brain functions. Low testosterone has actually been connected to age-associated cognitive impairment.

Because of this, low testosterone levels can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For those men who suffer diabetes, they also tend to have low testosterone levels with more neuropathies.

Particularly as men age, obesity is a significant risk factor, and with our change in diet, among other factors, we see more men suffering metabolic syndrome, inflammatory proteins, and endocrine changes that lower testosterone even further.

A recent study was published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation from the University of Southern California. They looked at the relationship between aging, obesity, low testosterone, and dementia. In short, a high fat diet often aggravates or leads to obesity, and this ultimately leads to impaired brain function and lower testosterone levels, which researchers believe to be the core problem. After all, lower testosterone levels mean lower fat burning, and it just seems ironic that more fat also means less testosterone for many men.

Testosterone replacement therapy is controversial at best. It has been associated with some disease, and the idea is to help men, not hurt them, right? This said, reducing calories and exercising more to lose weight is not controversial in the same way. Testosterone supplements unfortunately have ultimately been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, death, and strokes. Unfortunately, a number of manufacturers continue to profit off many people’s ignorance about the subject.

So what should an older man do starting after 30? Testosterone supplements, we have established, are not the way. Instead, try a low calorie diet or low carb diet, exercise on a regular basis, and you will be able to lose more weight. You have to have both to really achieve results, and you may want to make sure that you also include some weight lifting in the process.