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3 posts from July 2010

07/27/2010

15 top diet tips

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

Best Diet Tip No. 1: Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages.

People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. So you can end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really what you need.

"If you don't like plain water, try adding citrus or a splash of juice, or brew infused teas like mango or peach, which have lots of flavor but no calories," says Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Best Diet Tip No. 2: Think about what you can add to your diet, not what you should take away.

Start by focusing on getting the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

"It sounds like a lot, but it is well worth it, because at the same time you are meeting your fiber goals and feeling more satisfied from the volume of food," says chef Laura Pansiero, RD.

You're also less likely to overeat because fruits and vegetables displace fat in the diet. And that's not to mention the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. More than 200 studies have documented the disease-preventing qualities of phytochemicals found in produce, says Pansiero.

Her suggestion for getting more: Work vegetables into meals instead of just serving them as sides on a plate.

"I love to take seasonal vegetables and make stir-fries, frittatas, risotto, pilafs, soups, or layer on sandwiches," Pansiero says. "It is so easy to buy a variety of vegetables and incorporate them into dishes."

Best Diet Tip No. 3: Consider whether you're really hungry.

Whenever you feel like eating, look for physical signs of hunger, suggests Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry?

"Hunger is your body's way of telling you that you need fuel, so when a craving doesn't come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it," she says.

When you're done eating, you should feel better -- not stuffed, bloated, or tired.

"Your stomach is only the size of your fist, so it takes just a handful of food to fill it comfortably," says May.

Keeping your portions reasonable will help you get more in touch with your feelings of hunger and fullness.

Best Diet Tip No. 4: Be choosy about nighttime snacks.

Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax.

"Sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television is an example of eating amnesia, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Malena Perdomo, RD.

Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour, or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream. Once you find that you're usually satisfied with the low-cal snack, try a cup of zero-calorie tea, suggests Perdomo.

Best Diet Tip No. 5: Enjoy your favorite foods.

"I think putting your favorite foods off limits leads to weight gain because it triggers 'rebound' overeating," says Sass.

Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, be a slim shopper. Buy one fresh bakery cookie instead of a box, or a small portion of candy from the bulk bins instead of a whole bag.

"You can enjoy your favorite foods, but you must do so in moderation," says Sass.

Best Diet Tip No. 6: Enjoy your treats away from home.

When you need a treat, Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Food Network's Healthy Appetite, suggests taking a walk to your local ice cream parlor or planning a family outing.

"By making it into an adventure, you don't have to worry about the temptation of having treats in the house, and it is a fun and pleasurable way to make it work when you are trying to lose weight," says Krieger.

And for those times you just can't get out? Krieger stocks her kitchen with fresh fruit, which she thinks can be every bit as delicious as any other dessert.

Best Diet Tip No. 7: Eat several mini-meals during the day.

If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be challenging.

"Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD.

She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying as many of them as you can early in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.

Best Diet Tip No. 8: Eat protein at every meal.

Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, and thus may be the new secret weapon in weight control.

"Diets higher in protein [and] moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise, have an excellent potential to help weight loss," says University of Illinois protein researcher Donald Layman, PhD.

Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks.

Best Diet Tip No. 9: Spice it up.

Add spices or chiles to your food for a flavor boost that can help you feel satisfied.

"Food that is loaded with flavor will stimulate your taste buds and be more satisfying so you won't eat as much," says Perdomo.

When you need something sweet, suck on a red-hot fireball candy for a long-lasting burst of sweetness with just a few calories.

Best Diet Tip No. 10: Stock your kitchen with healthy convenience foods.

Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes staples on hand sets you up for success. You'll be less likely to hit the drive-through or call in a pizza order if you can make a healthy meal in 5 or 10 minutes.

Sass stocks her kitchen with:

  
·         94% fat-free microwave popcorn (20-25 calories per cup, and you can make it in two minutes or less)
  ·         Frozen vegetables
  ·         Bags of pre-washed greens
  ·         Canned diced tomatoes
  ·         Canned beans
  
·         Whole-grain wraps or pitas
  ·         Pre-cooked grilled chicken breasts
  ·         A few containers of pre-cooked brown rice

Within minutes, she can toss together a healthy medley.

Best Diet Tip No. 11: Order children’s portions at restaurants.

"When you are eating out, order a child's pizza or a small sandwich as an easy way to trim calories and get your portions under control," suggest Perdomo.

Another trick is to use smaller plates. This helps the portions look like more, and if your mind is satisfied, your stomach likely will be, too.

Best Diet Tip No. 12: Eat foods in season.

"If you don't love certain fruits or vegetables, it could be because you ate them out of season when they have little taste or flavor," says Pensiero. "When you eat seasonally, fruits and vegetables are more flavorful, at their best, and I promise you won't be disappointed."

At GiGi's Trattoria, her restaurant in Rhinebeck, N.Y., she serves simple fruit desserts, like naturally sweet strawberries topped with aged balsamic vinegar, or low-fat yogurt or fresh berries in a compote.

Best Diet Tip No. 13: Swap a cup of pasta for a cup of vegetables.

Simply by eating less pasta or bread and more veggies, you could lose a dress or pants size in a year.

"You can save from 100-200 calories if you reduce the portion of starch on your plate and increase the amount of vegetables," says Sass.

Best Diet Tip No. 14: Use non-food alternatives to cope with stress.

Sooner or later, you're going to be faced with a stressful situation. Instead of turning to food for comfort, be prepared with some non-food tactics that work for you.

Sass suggests reading a few chapters in a novel, listening to music, writing in a journal, practicing meditative deep breathing, or looking at a photo album of loved ones.

Best Diet Tip No. 15: Be physically active.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, don't use exercise either to punish yourself for eating or to "earn" the right to eat more.

"When you do, it sets up a negative thought pattern, which is why so many people say they hate to exercise," says May.

Instead, focus on how great you feel, how much better you sleep and how much more energy you have when you exercise. Physical activity is good for you whether you are trying to lose weight or not, so keep it positive and build a lifelong habit.

07/19/2010

The Ideal Growth Hormone Inducing Diet

The following information has been extracted from Hormones and Diet: Part One: Growth Hormone Copyright © 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla

Hormones have a direct affect on a person's body composition (muscularity vs fatness) and what you eat has a direct bearing on your hormone levels. So what is the ideal growth hormone inducing diet?

The Hormones

Human growth hormone (HGH or GH) and testosterone are the two primary anabolic and lipolytic hormones. This means that increased levels of these hormones will increase muscular size and strength and reduce body fat.

Cortisol is the primary catabolic hormone. Increased levels decrease muscle size and strength and direct the body to store body fat. Interestingly as cortisol levels rise, levels of growth hormone and testosterone drop, and vice-a-versa.

Insulin can be anabolic in that it helps to drive amino acids (protein) into muscle cells, but it can also be lipogenic in that chronically high levels increase body fat.

Glucagon works in opposition to insulin. As glucagon rises, insulin drops, and vice-a-versa. And its actions are opposite to that of insulin. It leads to muscle breakdown but also to the loss of body fat.

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a hormone-like substance that has both anabolic and lipolytic effects.

There are many other hormones in the body. But these are the ones that are primary affected by diet.

Growth Hormone and Carbohydrates

The most important point in regards to growth hormone (GH) and diet is that high blood sugar levels cause growth hormone inhibition and "Growth hormone levels increase significantly when insulin levels (blood sugar levels) are low" (Jamieson, p. 85).

The type and amount of carbohydrates that you eat determines the degree of this effect. High glycemic foods increase blood sugar levels more than low glycemic foods. Eating a large amount of carbohydrates at once will cause a greater increase in blood sugar levels than eating a small amount of carbohydrates. Eating fat with cabs blunts the rise in blood sugar. What all of this means is that, consuming a large amount of high glycemic carbohydrates by themselves could completely halt growth hormone release. Or more generally, a high carbohydrate, low fat diet is absolutely devastating to growth hormone levels. This is one of the reasons why many people trying to lose weight on such a diet "plateau" after a period of time. Their inability to continue to lose weight is partly due to suppressed GH levels.

However, “we need insulin to promote the benefits of growth hormone. Studies show that GH fails to cause growth in animals lacking a pancreas and it also fails if carbohydrates are restricted from the diet" (Jamieson, p.56). The reason for this could be that a strict low carbohydrate diet would lead to chronically low insulin levels, and insulin, as indicated above, is needed to drive amino acids into the muscle cells.

Moreover, IGF-1 is produced in the body through the combined actions of GH and insulin. And IGF-1 "is at least as powerful an anabolic agent as either of its parents" (Faigin, p. 90). In fact, this relationship of insulin, growth hormone, and IGF-1 is one reason why those following a low carbohydrate diet also often plateau after a period of time.

So a low carbohydrate diet is not the answer either. An ideal GH enhancing diet would include some carbohydrates, but not an excessive amount. And the focus would be on low glycemic carbohydrates.

Growth Hormone and Protein

Next to be considered is the relationship of GH to protein intake. "GH is released after the consumption of protein. This might signify to the body that it is now an opportune moment to build" (Creative Newsletter).

Moreover, "Hormonally, protein intake is positively correlated with growth hormone, IGF-1, and glucagons. These hormones, collectively, exert an anabolic and biolytic effect" (Fagin, p.156).

This article is not about GH supplementation but interestingly “growth hormone supplementation increases the need for protein and people who supply the additional protein (do) better with their HGH supplementation program" (HGH Magazine, "Whey Protein").

In short, increased protein intake will increase GH levels, and increased GH levels will increase the need for protein. Moreover, frequent protein feedings will increase absorption of protein and produce frequent GH spikes.

So an ideal GH raising diet would also include frequent feedings of high quality protein.

Growth Hormone and Potassium:Sodium

"Medical science has known for some time that even modest potassium deficiency causes growth hormone and IGF-1 suppression" (HGH Magazine, "Potassium"). The reason for this is rather complicated but basically relates to cellular hydration.

Fluid is constantly moving in and out of the cell across an electrical gradient bisected by the cell membrane. The key to obtaining the positive benefits of "cell volumisation" is to maximize intracellular fluid. Drinking water will improve your overall hydration status, but it will not significantly alter the ratio of intracellular to extracellular fluid.

Water moves in and out of cells with electrolytes. The mineral sodium is the chief extracellular electrolyte, whereas the mineral potassium is the chief intracellular electrolyte. By increasing your potassium intake and reducing your sodium intake, you can shift water from the extracellular compartments of your body into the cells (HGH Magazine, "Potassium"). An increased intracellular hydration increases HGH release.

The best source by far for potassium is vegetables, and then fruit. Processed foods on the other hand are very high in sodium. So to enhance your GH levels, the answer is obvious, eat more veggies and fruits and less processed foods.

Growth Hormone Release

There are two times when the release of growth hormone is the greatest, when you are asleep and when you are exercising.

The first and “largest burst of GH is released during the early hours of sleep-hence our eating habits are crucial to maximizing this nighttime secretion.” (Jamieson, pp. 85,86). More specifically, "Growth hormone is especially dependent on sleep, because a major growth hormone surge occurs during the first episode of slow-wave sleep, approximately 30-70 minutes after falling asleep" (Faigin, p.200).

The consumption of carbohydrates at bedtime can blunt this crucial release of growth hormone. And the greater the amount of carbohydrates and the higher the glycolic rating of the carbohydrates, the greater will be the increase in blood sugar and the greater the suppression of GH. Thus, “going to bed with a belly-full of carbohydrates is hormonally unwise and may diminish, if not nullify, nocturnal growth hormone release" (Fagin, p.201).

It is for this reason that some will recommend not eating at all for at least two hours before bedtime. However, as indicated above, the consumption of protein will increase GH release. So an even better approach would be to limit carbohydrate consumption but to eat some protein at bedtime.

The second significant release of GH can occur in response to exercise. Any type of exercise will cause some increase in GH levels. But vigorous exercise will cause a greater release than exercise done at a low or moderate intensity.

Moreover, strength training will cause a greater release than aerobic exercise. For instance, riding an exercise bike at a high intensity will cause a 166% increase in GH, but weight training at a high intensity will cause a 400% increase.

Furthermore, all weight-training exercises are effective promoters of GH release, but those that involve the use of high-resistance and major muscle groups tend to be the most effective. “Applying maximum effort to fewer repetitions of squats, leg presses, deadlifts, overhead presses, bench presses, standing curls, and leg curls will optimize your results”. (Jamieson, p.92).

But how does all of this relate to diet? A common recommendation is to consume a carbohydrate-rich meal prior to a workout to provide fuel for that workout and then it is recommended to consume carbohydrates, especially high-glycemic ones, post-workout to replenish glycogen stores. However, "a carbohydrate-rich, pre-workout meal squelches exercise-induced growth hormone secretion.” "Another disadvantage of a pre-workout meal rich in carbohydrate pertains to its effect on brain chemistry…. By elevating serotonin, a neurotransmitter with sedative properties, a carbohydrate-rich meal can adversely affect motivation and energy levels. A protein based pre-workout meal has the opposite effect" (Faigin, pp. 240, 241). Protein would therefore be much better to consume pre-workout than carbohydrate.

Post-workout it is generally recommended to consume some kind of drink consisting of high glycemic carbohydrates, like dextrose or maltodextrin, but "The insulin spike produced by these high-carbo concoctions will, literally within seconds of swallowing your first gulp, kick you out of the heightened fat-burning state you worked so hard during your workout to attain,” and blunt any growth hormone release that is occurring due to the exercise. "By contrast, a medium-sized protein or protein/ fat meal will not thwart post-workout exercise fat burning (or growth hormone release). Rather, it will perpetuate the fat-burning momentum generated by your workout" (Faigin, p.243).

The Conclusion

If we put all of the above information together, the ideal growth hormone inducing diet would consist of a moderate amount of low glycemic carbohydrates (like whole grains), substantial quantities of protein, and copious amounts of vegetables (along with some fruit). It would also limit carbohydrate consumption pre- and post-workout and at bedtime.

Sources
Brand-Miller, Jennie, et. al. The New Glucose Revolutionhttp://www.qksrv.net/image-1355383-42121. Marlowe & Company: New York, 2003.

Creatine Newsletter. Issue 20. "Growth Hormone De-Mystified" - http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net/creatine_newsletter_20.html.

Dean, Ward M.D. "Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging Chapter 3; Part 1 Energy Homeostat Dysfunction" - http://www.vrp.com/art/253.asp.

Di Pasquale, Mauro. The Anabolic Solution for Powerlifters. N/A. 2002. For details on this book and nutrition program, see the Metabolic Diet Web site: www.metabolicdiet.com.

Faigin, Rob. Natural Hormonal Enhancement. Extique Publishing: Cedar Mountain, NC. 2000. For details on this book and nutrition program see the Extique Web site - www.extique.com.

HGH Magazine. www.hghmagazine.com. "Fiber helps manage HGH, Insulin, and Cholesterol." "Potassium and HGH - What your doctor does NOT tell you." "Whey Protein Supercharges HGH Supplements."

Jamieson, James and Dr. L.E. Dorman. Growth Hormone: Reversing Human Aging Naturally. Published by J. Jamieson: St. Louis, MO, 1997.

Schuler, Lou. The Testosterone Advantage Planhttp://www.qksrv.net/image-1355383-42121. Rodale: USA, 2002.

Thorton, Jim. "Maximum Testosterone." Men's Health. April, 2005, pp. 146-155,182.

Disclaimers:  The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet, exercise, or health improvement program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.

07/13/2010

What not to wear

By Chris Rovny

 

The gym is probably one of the best places to witness fashion disasters. It's funny to see the different combinations people make with their clothing and workout accessories. These diverse styles range from the super trendy people wearing brand names like Versace and DKNY, to the less trendy people who wear tiger motif 49ers pants. Here are some basic fashion faux pas that can be seen in gyms everywhere.


Shoes


It is hard to tell someone how to dress, but a lot of men need pointers on what not to wear when training at the gym. First, we will discuss mistakes men do regarding their shoe selection. A definite no-no is wearing any type of non-athletic boots to workout. Almost every gym has a few men training either with construction boots or in some cases, with cowboy boots. Let's face it, wearing the right shoes isn't only important to be fashionable, but first and foremost, it is a pre-requisite to having a good and safe workout. A simple tip is to choose running shoes with the least possible colors so that they can match all your training clothes.

Another type of shoe one should steer clear of is the good old Velcro strapped shoe . They were really the big thing ten years ago, but lately, these shoes have been found in discount retailers that target less fashion conscious people. Then again, many top designers are including Velcro in their latest sneaker designs. The difference between designer shoes and the normal Velcro shoe isn't only the price; the designer sneakers will have a Je ne sais quoi that make them more suitable and glamorous. Another little tip is to try to keep your sneakers free of the gray film that accumulates over the years. This will keep the dirty glances away from your shoes.


Pants


Next up in the gym's fashion no-nos are the v-shaped bodybuilding pants. We all know that bodybuilders have their own little subculture with distinctive clothing, accessories and even their own vocabulary. Unless you weigh 300 pounds of pure muscle and eat a surplus of protein, you're probably not part of that subculture and should therefore not wear those funny looking pants.

It is one thing when pants have a baggy look on top and a narrow cut near the boot, but on top of that, they are available in different colors and designs. The unstylish cut and the unpleasant colors give way to a totally unattractive piece of clothing. The recommended bottom attire would be track pants. They are the most versatile clothing apparel to wear at the gym because they are comfortable, and if the color is uniform, they will match with any top and any pair of running shoes.


Shirts


The next big fashion mistake men make when suiting up for the gym is to pull out a white t-shirt with sweat stains in the armpits. The sweater might be totally clean, but time allows most deodorants to leave yellowish stains under the arms. It is a simple question of perception; people might see a yellow stain and assume that the person isn't clean. As a general rule, no one wants to be perceived as an unclean person. The easiest solution to this problem is to save up a mere 20 dollars and buy yourself a new white t-shirt; the investment is worth not going through the embarassment.

Another fashion gaffe is to wear spaghetti-strap tank tops. Even if someone has a shredded and defined body, there is no reason why any man should be wearing a top designed like
lingerie for the beach. If you really need to see your muscles, have the decency to wait until you are home behind closed doors. Wearing a less revealing tank top instead will still allow you to see just enough skin and muscle to properly execute your training movements.

These little fashion tips may seem obvious, but unfortunately, we see many of these fashion no-no's every time we step into a fitness facility. Suit up your simple training gear and start pumping away. Remember to keep your cell phone in your locker because your going to the gym to train, not to chit-chat .