Understand How To Lose Weight

The human body is incredibly complex. Every second, millions of physiological and chemical reactions take place in order to maintain good health. The body both creates things (eg. heat, muscle, proteins, RNA, hair, nails, enzymes, fat tissue, bones) and breaks things down (food, stored fat, etc.). These anabolic and catabolic processes, along with all organs and systems, need fuel to enable them to function. The fuel or energy that the body uses, comes from the food and drink that we consume in our diet. In a nutshell, food is human gasoline.

Carbohydrate is one of the three macronutrients, the other two being protein and fat. Carbohydrates provide essential energy for the brain, red blood cells and a growing fetus. Carbohydrate is also the principal fuel source for strenuous muscular activity. The carb food group includes many foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (disease-protective plant chemicals). A healthy diet must include carbohydrates.

The brain’s favorite fuel is carbohydrate. If absolutely necessary, the brain will utilize fat (in the form of ketones), but it performs less efficiently on this type of energy. Current evidence demonstrates a clear association between intellectual performance and the presence of carbs. For example, better performance was observed in all types of age and social groups after a carbohydrate meal. Although research is ongoing, it seems that for optimum intellectual activity, we need a regular intake of carbs.

In terms of chemical structure, the two main types are Simple Carbohydrate (or “simple sugars”), like Monosaccharides and Disaccharides; and Complex Carbohydrates (or “complex sugars”), like Oligosaccharides and Polysaccharides. Carbohydrate comes mainly from plant-food, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and cereal grains, although the simple sugar lactose is found in milk and milk products.

Simple carbs include: glucose, fructose and lactose. Common sources include table sugar (sucrose), boiled sweets, syrups and honey.

Complex carbs comprise starches or fiber. Good sources of starches include, bread, pasta, rice, beans and some vegetables. Good sources of dietary fiber include: vegetables, fruits, beans, along with the indigestible part of the grain, like wheat bran and oatbran.

Our food fuel comprises the protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol we eat. But the exact mixture our body uses typically varies according to circumstances (eg. our physical activity, our last meal etc.). There is an “order of priority” that dictates which fuels are burned first. Alcohol calories are burned first. This is because we cannot store alcohol energy. Next, we burn protein, then carbohydrates, then fat. In practice, however, we typically burn a “mixture” of carbs and fat, with the ratio being dependent on meals. Just after meals we burn mainly carbohydrate, while between meals we burn more fat.

Weight Loss Myths Exposed

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear there is a great deal of confusion around nutrition. In fact, many people reading this article will have only a scant idea about the different food types and what our body actually needs to keep healthy.

One of the simplest systems I’ve encountered is this. If the food tastes good, then it has to be bad for you! And then there’s its counterpart, if the food tastes bad then it must be good for you! You may identify with these views, or some closely related version! Nutrition for some has been reduced to a concept of Good and Bad with little else.

Some common weight loss myths that people believe – which aren’t true!

Myth #1

Cutting down on portion size is the best way to lose weight. Not on its own. If you attempt to lose weight by just eating less, you are likely to gain the weight back. Lasting results will come from changing the types of foods you eat, not just the amounts.

Myth #2

Just cut out fat and you’ll lose weight. This approach to weight loss, popular in the 80s, simply doesn’t work for most people. Even if a food is labeled fat-free, it can still be high in calories from sugar and hidden carbs. Effective weight loss comes from being mindful of your total calorie consumption as well as your fat intake.

Myth #3

Cutting calories causes your body to go into starvation mode and slows weight loss. This is untrue. Your body’s resting metabolic rate can vary by about 15%. Nevertheless, eating too few calories and an inadequate amount of protein can make you lose precious lean muscle mass, which will eventually slow metabolism, for the long term. Ideally, stick to the calorie and protein amounts that are right for your body with the Herbalife program.

Myth #4

High-protein diets cause ketosis, which reduces hunger. Ketosis occurs when fat, instead of carbohydrate, is used as an energy source during a high-protein diet. Ketone bodies are produced, which give your breath a bad fruity odor. Ketone bodies do not reduce appetite; but, eating sufficient protein for your body needs can help reduce hunger and support weight loss.

Myth #5

Exercise alone can help you lose weight. While exercise is an important component of a healthy weight-loss program, it is not a great way to lose weight on its own. Exercising for even an hour at a time burns only a moderate amount of calories. Combining exercise with calorie reduction and a healthy eating plan is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off.

One of the most healthful and helpful steps you can take to improve your health and that of your family is to learn about nutrition. The principles are easy to understand and armed with the correct information, it’s possible to make an improvement to your health.

What Is The Zone Diet?

The Zone Diet is one of the five most discussed diets currently being endorsed. Developed by Barry Sears, a former researcher at MIT, it is based on maintaining insulin levels by striking a balance between carbohydrates and proteins at each meal.

Sears suggests that the major cause of obesity is an imbalance of insulin in the body. He maintains that the diet currently recommended by most medical institutions is high in carbohydrates and low in fats – a combination which he contends contributes to the production of too much insulin, and results in obesity.

The Zone Diet is based on the concept of achieving a physiological state in which insulin and eicosanoids, two hormones, are maintained in zones that are carefully balanced. By controlling the balance of insulin and eicosanoids, you increase the loss of fat, and decrease the likelihood of heart disease and diabetes, decrease inflammation and increase blood flow, and increase your physical and mental stamina.

The Zone Diet

The diet program of The Zone is designed to balance your intake of protein and carbohydrate at 1 part protein to 4 parts carbohydrate. It advises a moderate intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fat in order to control insulin. It prescribes a maximum amount of low-fat protein at one meal at 3-4 ounces, which is nearly exactly the recommendation of the USDA and the FDA. The majority of carbohydrates on the Zone diet come from vegetables and fruits, with limited amounts of bread, rice, potatoes and grains. Most fat intake should be from monounsaturated fats like olive oil, safflower oil and other ‘heart healthy’ oils.

While this sounds a good deal like the Atkins diet (restricting carbohydrates), the differences are very clear. Atkins recommends a diet high in protein without regard to fat, with the intent of provoking ketosis, a potentially unhealthy condition. High carbohydrate diets recommend increasing carbohydrate levels and inducing the production of insulin which, maintains Sears, increases weight gain. Instead, the Zone Diet recommends achieving an optimal balance of nutrients with moderate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fat all playing a part.

The other component of the Zone diet worthy of note is the supplementation of diet with fish oil. Fish oil, particularly pharmaceutical grade fish oil, provides omega 3 fatty acids which are an important component in healthy cells. Study after study in the past five years has confirmed the importance of fish and omega 3 fatty acids in the diet.

A sample meal on The Zone’s eating plan might include:

1 3 oz portion of broiled salmon
Spinach salad with apples and walnuts dressed with walnut oil and lemon juice
1/2 cup of brown rice
1 glass fruit or vegetable juice

The eating plan recommended by The Zone diet combines small portions of low fat proteins, fats and fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. It also suggests eating some protein with each meal or snack, and at least 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.

Who should use the Zone Diet?

As always, if you’re under the care of a physician for any chronic medical condition, you should consult them before embarking on any diet plan that substantially changes your eating habits. There are significant differences between the Zone Diet and that recommended for diabetics and heart patients, for instance. Overall, the recommended portions of foods and the balance between them is consistent with a healthy diet, and is maintainable for a lifetime.

The Truth About Low Carb Diets

Low carb diets are very effective in achieving weight loss when followed.  But the key word there is that they should be followed.  However, there are controversies about their healthiness. Definitely, people get into these diets to lose weight.  But what every person getting into this is not only the aspect of losing weight but also as always, keeping the weight off.  But it goes beyond that. It also involves being and staying healthy and functional in whatever we do everyday.  A slim person is definitely not attractive if he or she is weak from lack of nutrients and energy due to these low carb diets.

The body uses up carbohydrates first as a source of energy. If there are more carbohydrates taken in, the body stores the surplus as fat.  If there are fewer carbohydrates taken it, the body is forced to use the stored fat for its energy requirement.  The principle of these low carb diets is to take in food low in carbohydrates so that the body is forced to use its stored fat.

By drastically reducing carbohydrates to a small fraction of a person’s diet, the body goes into Ketosis? The body burns its own fat to convert into energy A person in ketosis is getting energy from ketones.  Ketones are little carbon fragments that are created by the breakdown of stored fat. One feels less hungry when his or her body is in ketosis.  The end result is that he or she is likely to eat less even if  allowed to do so. In effect, the body is transformed from a carbohydrate-burning machine into a fat-burning one, thus making fat the primary energy source. This brings us to the most fundamental fact of dieting: the less fat you have, the lighter you weigh.  The end result is the desired weight loss.

There are diets like Atkins that seem to be a dream come true.  It stems from its design that a person could eat as much as he or she wants from a wide variety of food that other diets steer away from.  Steaks, meat, crab, eggs, all types of protein based food are allowed since the body will burn carbohydrates first and not protein or fats.  Basically, it follows the same low carb principle of reducing carbohydrate intake and forcing the body to use fat towards weight loss.

But experts are concerned about the long term safety of the diet.  By contemporary medical standards, the risk of heart diseases, stroke, cancer, liver and kidney problems are very extremely high.  These risks have been pointed out repeated by a number of health researches on high fat diets.

Other low carb diets are cleansing in nature such as the detox diet.  It helps in the health reassessment of one’s lifestyle, eating patterns and focus on foods.  Here, one becomes more aware of one food intake.  However, there are individuals, such as diabetics, people with low blood sugar or eating disorders have to stay clear of it.  They will find themselves more in trouble than they are already.

Low carb diets serve their purpose.  But there is no substitute for the traditional, proven healthy lifestyle of a balance diet of the basic food groups in the nutritionists’ pyramid order combined with the proper exercise. However, should a person still go through with these diets for whatever reason, he or she should be equipped with knowledge of not only the benefits but most especially the risks.  Everyone wants that slim, healthy look.  But everyone should also go for health in a sustainable manner.