Monday, March 12, 2012

Tips for boosting your metabolism

Some of us can eat whatever we want and burn off the calories with ease, thanks to a fast metabolism. But for many of us, merely looking at food seems to pile on the calories, simply because we have a slow metabolism. Annoyingly, we deprive ourselves of food and train ourselves to eat like sparrows, and yet every crumb we consume seems to instantly turn into fat.

Metabolism is an important word for any woman who wants to lose weight. But what exactly is metabolism? Metabolism is the way our bodies process the foods that we eat. Every time we eat, the food that we consume is turned into energy. Energy is used to burn fat when doing physical activity, digesting food, and also when the body is resting. By boosting our metabolism, we can actually burn fat even when we’re not physically active.

But why do some of us have a slow metabolic rate? There are various factors that can cause a slow metabolism, for example, aging (especially in women), thyroid problems, a bad diet, or a genetic predisposition.

The good news is that whatever the reason for your slow metabolism, there are ways in which you can speed up your metabolic rate. Here are some of them:

1. Exercise

Any type of exercise or physical activity will speed up your metabolism. 30 minutes a day spent walking, swimming, cycling or running, playing sport or doing formal exercise, will do wonders to boost your metabolism.
Make a habit of walking around the office rather than phoning or emailing colleagues. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park further away from the office; play with the kids or your dog. Continual small bursts of energy will ensure that your metabolism stays revved up and burning calories.

2. Eat to boost your metabolism

That may sound like a gross contradiction in terms, but it is a fact that eating five or six small meals a day can make a huge difference to boosting your metabolic rate. If you consume 2000 calories a day, for example, you can burn 200 calories just by eating.
Don’t skip breakfast. Eat often to keep your metabolic rate pumped up all day. By eating many small meals throughout the day you will actually be eating less than one or 2 huge meals.  Eat spicy foods to make you break out into a sweat and push your metabolism into top gear. If you’re a compulsive snacker, snack on lean protein such as nuts and seeds. To break down protein, your body needs to work harder which means it has to burn more calories to digest it.

3. Eat certain foods to speed up your metabolic rate

There are many types of foods that will help you speed up your metabolism. Here are some of them:
  • Grapefruit 
Grapefruit lowers insulin levels in the body and triggers the system to store fat. Because grapefruit is rich in fiber, your body needs to burn more calories to break it down.
  • Yogurt 
Natural yoghurt contains a high level of protein, which means that the body uses lots of energy to process it. The pro-biotic cultures in yoghurt also help to regulate the digestive system.
  • Green Tea 
Green tea speeds up the nervous system, causing the body to use up and burn more calories.
  • Coffee 
Caffeine is great for giving the metabolism a boost, but don’t drink more than 2-3 cups each day or you may become irritable or jittery.

There are many other foods that can help you speed up your metabolism and burn those pesky calories. Read up on them and make it a habit to include at least some of them in your daily diet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Truth about Detox Diets

We all know someone who has tried a detox diet and swears by it, or perhaps we have even tried it ourselves. Phrases like “detoxifying the body” and “purifying the system” sound logical and immensely reassuring. After all, we know that toxins are bad for us, so it follows that detoxifying the body with a cleansing diet can only be a good thing – or is it? We may reason that there can’t possibly be any harm in following a diet that encourages us to consume lots of water and natural foods such as fruit and veg. How can that be bad for you?
The truth is, as with many other fad diets that advocate eating only certain types of food, detox diets can cause damaging side effects, especially in teenagers and people with health problems.
But first things first: let’s examine what we mean by “toxins”. Toxins are chemicals or poisons that are harmful to the body. Toxins are caused by the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. In food, toxins are caused by the chemicals that are used to grow and prepare food. Harmful toxins can also come from contaminated water, and polluted air. Our bodies have a superb way of dealing with toxins by processing them through the kidneys and liver, and eradicating them through its waste system, via sweat, urine and feces.
People who advocate detox diets believe that not all toxins are effectively eliminated from the body. They believe that residue toxins continue to linger in the digestive and gastrointestinal systems, skin, hair, and lymph glands, causing health problems such as lack of energy, chronic headaches, nausea, and even weight gain. The thinking is that by abstaining from certain foods and fasting for a fixed period of time, it will purge the body of its “poisons”. In actual fact, the human body is a remarkable machine that is more than well equipped to purify itself.
“Detoxing the body” can take on many forms; from rigorous cleansing diets, to cleansing the colon.  Wild claims have been made about the benefits of detoxing the body; especially by companies selling detox supplements. Claims include preventing dreaded diseases (cancer), increasing energy levels, improving mental concentration, and even significant weight loss.
The truth is that there is no scientific proof that supports the theory that detox diets actually eliminate  toxins faster or more thoroughly than the body itself, or indeed that the “purging” of toxins can actually make you healthier or more energetic.

Eat right and trust your body to do the rest
The basis of most detox diets is to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and drink lots of water, and this is obviously a good thing. However, the problem arises when you eat these foods to the absolute exclusion of everything else.
Your body needs nutrients from other foods such as protein (meat, eggs, peas, beans), and calcium (milk, cheese, yoghurt). It can be harmful to stop eating foods from all the major food groups, and anyone considering embarking on a rigorous detox diet should be well advised to first consult with their doctor or a registered dietician. The bottom line is to eat healthily and sensibly – and trust your body to do the rest.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

How to Workout Effectively

In order to get the most out of a workout regime, you need to make sure your workout plan raises your heart rate, builds strength and improves flexibility. This is how you should plan your workout. Most workouts are designed to achieve one of these three pillars of success. However, there are does exist a type of training that allows you to build strength and do cardio at the same time. This kind of training is known as Circuit Training.

Circuit Training
Circuit training is a workout program where you perform a series of physical exercises with very little time in between the sets. The optimum way to achieve circuit training is to set up all the weights in advance. Once you have your weights ready, begin with a bench press then move on to lat pull downs, military press, squats, leg curls, bicep and tricep extensions in that order and then take a very short rest. This set should last for ten minutes. Doing the exercises in this way gives you the cardio exercise you need as well as your strength exercises all at the same time. At the end of such a long set, your heart rate will have risen and your muscles will feel slightly sore. Rehydrate and repeat this set for two or more times depending on your level of fitness. Be careful not to injure yourself or over exert. Do not rush through the exercises in each set. The idea is to work every major muscle group and get your heart rate up really high.
However, a word of caution, circuit training is not ideal for women who have just begun to hit the gym. The intensity of the workout demands that your body be in fairly good shape to take the pressure. But once your body is in good enough shape, circuit training is one of the best ways to lose weight. It burns a lot of calories and it is recommended that you do it three times a week if your goal is fat loss.

Interval Training
One of the other ways to workout effectively is Interval Training. Interval training basically comprises of physical activity at high intensity over a period of time and immediately followed by low intensity exercise over a period of time. This cycle is repeated for optimum benefits.

  • Sprint Intervals – the high intensity part of interval training is referred to as sprint intervals. These intervals are measured by time or alternatively by distance. They may be as short as 10 seconds or as long as 15 minutes depending on the kind of exercise. A good example of a sprint interval would be running at an all out pace for 20 seconds.

  • Rest Intervals – the low intensity portion of Interval Training is referred to as rest intervals. During a rest the workout does not come to an end but rather, slows down and allows the body to recover from the sprint interval. Rest interval time is determined by your fitness level and the kind of sprint interval involved.
The idea behind interval training is to get the most out of the sprint interval. As you become fitter, you should be able to take shorter and shorter rest intervals as your sprint interval time increases. This exercise is extremely ideal for weight loss.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Real Truth about Reconstituted Fruit Juice

Precisely what is Reconstituted Fruit Juice?

Reconstituted fruit juice is made from fruit concentrate. It is different somewhat in taste to fresh juices, having a different sort of consistency and aroma. Similar to freshly extracted juices, reconstituted fruit juice is made using a juicer, which in turn has water content eliminated from it as feasible, converting it to a concentrate. Several juice making companies in the US and around the globe find the concentrated type of juice easier to transport and store. The concentrate is then hydrated when it arrives at the packaging plant and packed in bottles, cartons or cans.
It is also possible to purchase frozen sachets of reconstituted juice at your local store. You can keep the concentrate for several years in your freezer only adding water when you need to drink juice.

How Nutritious is Reconstituted Fruit Juice?

This does appear to be the million dollar question and is the subject of debate. Interestingly, reconstituted fruit juice provides near-similar nutritional value as that found in freshly squeezed juice. Even though useful enzymes and Vitamin C are destroyed during the process of eliminating water content, juice manufactures add them back at some point during manufacture. This explains why the nutritional content is more or less the same.
The juice label should tell you a few things the fruit juice concentrate. One of the things you want to look out for is the preservative, sodium benzoate. This preservative is responsible for causing sore throats and you will definitely want to keep your kids from consuming too much of a juice made from concentrate preserved with sodium benzoate.
You should also check the juice label to find out which fruits were used to make the concentrate. Some fruits are cheaper and manufacturers will naturally prefer them. However, the preferred fruits may have a lower nutritional content. For example, apples are cheaper than oranges but less nutritious.
The labels on reconstituted fruit juice may not tell the whole story about the concentrate. For example, when manufacturing juice concentrate, factory hygiene standards must be very high. Most of the US fruit juice concentrate, especially apple juice, is currently sourced from China. While one cannot say with certainty that this is a safety risk, poor Chinese safety standards in other industries such as the toy industry, pet food and personal care are a cause for concern.
If you are environmentally conscious, and you should be, then you will find that reconstituted fruit juice is not very good for the environment and has a high carbon foot print. Huge capital is needed to harvest the fruit, transport it to a pulp factory, crush it, eliminate the water content, package it and finally deliver it to the supermarket via road or air. That is one massive carbon foot print.

The Best Fruit Juice

Since it not possible to know with certainty where the concentrate originated, whether it contains harmful preservatives and also the fact that its production is not environmentally friendly, it is better to stick with the good old organic variety. Buy your fruits at the supermarket or local grocery store and squeeze them anytime you want fruit juice. This is the healthiest and safest option for you and your family.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

5 Basic Relaxation Techniques

Learning and applying relaxation techniques can be a great antidote to the stress of modern living. Some of the methods for actively practicing relaxation techniques including deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, meditation or yoga can reduce stress levels significantly and create feelings of wellness and serenity.  Practicing relaxation techniques can also help you stay calm and deal with the day to day problems of everyday life.

The aim is to learn how to develop a relaxation response, as opposed to a stress response. When experiencing a stress response, the body triggers chemicals that prepares you to “fight or flee” in the interests of self preservation. Stress responses are perfectly normal in real threatening situations, but when constantly activated due to chronic stress, they can become physically damaging, cause illness, and sap your energy.
By learning and practicing relaxation techniques, you will discover how to bring your mind and body back into equilibrium by reducing harmful stress hormones, lowering your blood pressure, slowing your heart rate, and relaxing your muscles.

Stress experts suggest setting aside 10-20 minutes daily for relaxation practice. If you are experiencing a constant stress overload in your life, between 30 minutes and an hour a day of relaxation therapy is recommended.
Here are some stress-relieving relaxation techniques that can be particularly useful, especially when dealing with stress.

1. Deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing is a potent relaxation method and is the cornerstone of most relaxation techniques. Deep breathing can be practiced in conjunction with other relaxation activities such as aromatherapy.
The essence of deep breathing relaxation is to breathe from the abdomen. Draw as much air into your lungs as possible. By drawing deep breaths from the diaphragm, as opposed to shallow breaths from the upper chest, you will inhale far more oxygen, making you feel less tense and anxious.

2. Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique in which you tense and relax different muscles in the body. Progressive muscle relaxation counteracts the muscular tension that usually accompanies stress. As your body relaxes, your mind will begin to relax.

3. Meditation
Meditation is a proven stress reliever that will help reduce anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts. Meditation helps you focus on being in the present moment, as opposed to feeling anxious about the future or the past. Meditation also strengthens the emotions associated with joy and wellbeing, weakening feelings of negativity.

4. Visualization
Visualization is a variation of traditional meditation. As a relaxation technique, visualization involves imagining a landscape in which you feel completely at peace, and able to let go of tension and anxiety. Choose a locale that you find peaceful and calming, for example, a tropical beach or a quiet clearing in a forest. Close your eyes and imagine your relaxing place. Let your problems drift away. Image the scene as vividly as possible, using all your senses – sights, sounds, smells, feelings. Visualization works best when you include as much sensory information as possible. For example, image a gentle fresh breeze on your face, the damp softness of moss underfoot, the sound of birds overhead, and branches swaying in the breeze.

5. Yoga
Yoga is a first-rate stress relieving technique. Practiced together with deep breathing, the benefits of yoga offer a natural offset to stress, strengthening the relaxation response.  Yoga techniques that emphasize slow, steady movements and mild stretching are best for relaxation. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eating Well During Winter

As we enter the winter season, some of us will inevitably end up putting on a few pounds. Like badgers, we sometimes have a tendency to eat like we are preparing for hibernation. The result is that at the end of the season we have put on weight.
You really cannot be blamed for wanting to eat more during winter. It’s actually quite normal for you to feel hungrier during the cold season as the body temperature drops and stimulates your appetite. Eating generates heat and helps the body stay warm; thirty to sixty minutes after a meal, you body generates ten percent more warmth than if your stomach were empty. The process is referred to as thermogenesis. However, this does not mean that you burn extra calories in winter; you do not need more calories in winter unless you get so cold that you actually begin to shiver.
The first step to eating well during winter is therefore to make sure that you stay warm. Staying warm ensures that you do not trigger the biological process in your body that lead to hunger. Wear warm clothing and when you go out cover your head because most body heat is lost via the head. The next thing you need to do is to watch what and how you eat. The following is a winter guide – a road map to help you stay away from overindulgence this winter.

Plan In Advance
Before winter begins, cut down on your calories significantly to give you more calories to consume during winter. This concept is known as a calorie bank but you can only use it so much.

Limit Party Food
During the holiday season, make it a point never to go to a party on an empty stomach. This will prevent you from bingeing on unhealthy party food. Have a fruit snack or non fat yoghurt before you attend any party. It is a good idea to carry some low fat food of your own to the party and share it with the other guests. That way you determine what you eat.

Be In Control of Your Environment
As women we sometimes find ourselves munching on something unconsciously. It could be a favorite cookie or some other high calorie snack. Be in control and aware of your surroundings at all times. Hide candy gifts and cookies from sight as soon as you receive them so that you are not tempted.

Eat Slowly
When eating, deliberately chew slowly and savor every taste. Dieticians say that this is a good way to reduce the feeling of hunger as you eat and that you actually end up eating less per sitting than if you inhaled your food.

Stay Away From Alcohol
Alcohol consumption during winter is bad because it stimulates your appetite. Even worse is the fact that it reduces your will power. The more you get foggy the harder it will be stay away from bingeing. Keep your consumption to the equivalent of a wine glass daily or avoid it altogether.

The winter season should not stop or slow down your workout program. Exercise will burn the extra calories you may invariably consume during winter.