Eggcellent Food

As most of you recall, I love eggs in all their glorious culinary incarnations, from the humble fried egg, to the versatile Frittata. Besides the versatility of this humble food source, eggs have amazing health benefits, which include their ability to balance nutrient intake in the body, lower “bad” cholesterol levels, increase cognitive function, protect the heart, prevent eye disease, detoxify the body, prevent certain cancers, help you lose weight, and guarantee proper growth and development.

Eggs As Food

Eggs have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years, as they were discovered early on in our cultural development as a safe and beneficial form of food that could be acquired and cultivated along with the second form of food – chicken.

Eggs have become a staple part of diets across the world, as they are not only a food source in and of themselves, but they also function in the creation of hundreds of other meals and ingredients necessary for cooking a limitless range of food. The question is, besides its widespread availability, why have eggs become such an inherent part of global cuisine? Eggs are unique in their protein content, as they are rich with the “stuff of life”, which would have developed into a baby chick, and eventually, a chicken, which is another key food in human diets. The list of foods in which eggs can be found would be an article all by itself, but suffice to say that they constitute an essential part of the human diet for a number of reasons, and should definitely be considered when trying to eat right.

Nutritional Value Of Eggs

Eggs are so widely loved and used because they provide a powerhouse of nutrients inside their tiny package. There are enough nutrients in an egg to develop a single cell into a baby chick, and we need many of those same nutrients!

There are two essential parts of an egg; the albumen (the white part) and the yolk (the yellow part). The yolk is suspended in the albumin and contains about 80% of the calories and almost all the fats present in the egg. It contains many vitamins and minerals as well. The egg albumen mostly contains water and proteins.

Eggs are rich in protein and contain significant levels of vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K, as well as phosphorous, selenium, calcium, and zinc. Furthermore, eggs also have various key organic compounds, such as omega-3s, antioxidants, and protein.

Health Benefits Of Eggs

The most common benefits of eggs include their ability to help in growth and development, aid in weight loss, improve heart health, and many more. Let’s have a look at the benefits in detail.

Growth and Development

There is a reason why eggs are such an important food staple in our formative years; it seems like breakfast almost always contained an egg while we were young! The high concentration of protein, as well as other essential vitamins, means that our bodies can develop at a normal rate and get all of the necessary nutrients to grow properly and set young people on a trajectory for lifelong health. Protein is necessary for cell creation, which means that every part of our body, every organ, hair, blood vessel, and bone in some way relies on protein to exist. Also, protein is necessary for repair and regrowth, so it is a lifelong necessity for us that we can acquire through eggs!

Heart Health

While there has been significant criticism in recent decades about the potential dangers of eggs on heart health, due to its admittedly high content of cholesterol, many people don’t look at the type of cholesterol, nor its effect on the body. Most studies have actually shown eggs to protect against strokes and improve heart health, as the “good cholesterol” (HDL cholesterol) levels increase, which can help to eliminate “bad cholesterol” in the body. By lowering LDL cholesterol levels, eggs help to avoid atherosclerosis, blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and other serious cardiovascular conditions!

Weight Loss

Since eggs are so full of those important proteins that our body needs for development, they also tend to be a very satisfying and filling form of food. They provide energy and nutrient stability in our body and satisfies our hunger. Eggs can be a great way to get the healthy balance you need without consuming excess calories, which is a great way to lose weight or keep your weight down.

Cognitive Ability

One of the lesser known benefits of eggs is its impact on cognitive health, primarily due to the high levels of choline present. Choline is often grouped with B-vitamins, but in fact, it is a somewhat unknown nutrient that helps to create critical neural pathways in the brain. About 90% of the population is estimated to get less choline than the body requires, but whole eggs supply choline in large quantities!

Antioxidant Activity

It seems as though any food with antioxidant capacity is considered healthy, but many people forget that eggs contain various antioxidants, including vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Vitamin A works as an antioxidant in a number of areas in the body but works particularly well with lutein and zeaxanthin in the eyes to protect against macular degeneration and the development of cataracts. Antioxidants are able to seek out free radicals and neutralize those dangerous particles (formed as byproducts of cellular metabolism) before they can cause oxidative stress on body organs, resulting in chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

Rare Minerals

The mineral composition of eggs is wonderful, but it is also unique, in that it can be difficult to obtain certain minerals, like iodine, and selenium, in our diets. They are so versatile and universal that we can almost unconsciously stay balanced by eating eggs, ensuring that those rare minerals keep our antioxidant activity up (selenium), and maintain healthy hormonal functioning in our thyroid (iodine).

Importance Of Cage-Free & Free-Range Eggs

All of these important health benefits are derived, in part, from the condition in which the hen was raised. The diet that the mother hen has will obviously be reflected in the nutrient content of the egg. For that reason, it is a far better choice to consume pasture-fed eggs, as they have consistently been shown to have higher omega-3 content, vitamin E content, tend to be larger, and are more densely packed with nutrients.

While the price tag might be slightly higher for organic, free-range, or cage-free eggs if you are serious about getting the most health benefits out of eggs that you can, dig a bit deeper in your pockets for those extra coins.

Word of Warning

While eggs are obviously major sources of nutrients for the human population, there is a high level of cholesterol in them, which can be dangerous for people suffering from hypercholesterolemia and certain gene disorders should be cautious. Furthermore, some studies have shown an increase in negative effects between Type II diabetes patients and excessive egg consumption, but a further study on that point still needs to be conducted.

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10 Simple Weight Loss Tips

We are often bombarded by guru’s and advertisers trying to sell you the latest and greatest way to lose weight. We are often overwhelmed and lose heart, but the best way forward is to stick to the basics. Over the next few weeks I will be publishing tried and tested, backed by research, tips and articles on how to effectively combat the “The Battle Of The Bulge”.

In this piece I will focus on the best tips for ‘how to lose weight’, these include reducing your carbohydrate intake, consuming more fibre, walking or biking to work, taking the stairs, adding variety to your diet, going swimming, eating smaller and more frequent meals. Here’s a list of 10 things that could bring about big changes in your waistline.

  1. Reduce Carbohydrate Intake

If you are serious about your weight loss goals, cutting back on your carbohydrate intake is the key. When your body has more basic fuel than it needs (usually in the form of carbs), it will store them as fat. Only consume complex carbohydrates, but gear your diet towards protein instead.

  1. Boost Fibre Intake

By boosting your fibre intake, you will not only help to lower your cholesterol levels and regulate diabetes, two complicating factors for obesity, but you will also feel full after your meals. Fibre can also help reduce tendencies to overeat and snack between meals.

  1. Eat Variety of Foods

You shouldn’t repeat the same food more than once each day. The more variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and lean meats you have, the more diverse your nutrient profile, and it will also keep your metabolism working properly.

  1. Meal Size & Frequency

You can eat 5-6 meals instead of 3 meals per day, and ensure that they are smaller than usual. This will keep the metabolism running at a higher level all day, but more importantly, it will keep you satiated and less likely to turn to unhealthy snack foods, which can otherwise torpedo your weight loss goals.

  1. Cooking at Home

Eating out less means having more control over the nutrients and calories that you take in, so try cooking at home with fresh ingredients and you’ll be surprised at the clear weight loss you see.

  1. Taking the Stairs

Avoid escalators and elevators whenever possible, from your office building to the subway. Taking the stairs means a small burst of cardiovascular exercise and a few extra burned calories on every flight.

  1. Weight Training

Combining weight training with an increase in lean protein, you are able to build more muscle and improve your body’s fat-burning ability. This is an excellent way to burn calories fast and replace fat with muscle.

  1. High-intensity Interval Training

Few exercises burn as many calories or have as marked an impact on weight loss; short periods of high-intensity exercise followed by brief periods of rest are an excellent strategy to shed the pounds.

  1. Swimming

Using every muscle group in the body, without the impact of running or more strenuous exercise, swimming is great for burning calories and losing weight, particularly for obese individuals.

  1. Walking & Biking

If you can walk or bike to work, or on some of your errands, you can burn more calories than usual and speed your weight loss efforts. The 1-mile rule is a popular one with weight loss experts – if you are closer than 1 mile to something, don’t drive.

10 Foods For Weight Loss

Once you have made the choice in how you will achieve your weight loss, make sure your diet includes food like salmon, eggs, potatoes, beans, nuts, avocados, lean meats, yogurt, kale and broccoli. These foods can easily be incorporated into your daily diet without much effort.
1. Avocados: These strange fruits are high in beneficial fats and can help to improve nutrient uptake from other common elements of weight loss diets.
2. Potatoes: Be sure to boil your potatoes before eating them, as this will provide high levels of resistant starch, in addition to the potassium content, which can protect heart health and help you shed the weight.
3. Beans and Nuts: High in fibre, beans and nuts prevent overeating, while also lowering cholesterol levels and optimizing digestion.
4. Chilli Pepper: Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chilli pepper, and helps to speed the metabolism and reduce the appetite by releasing the satiety hormone in the body.
5. Grapefruit: Some of the enzymes found in grapefruit can stimulate the metabolism and increase your rate of losing weight, while also preventing diabetes.
6. Yogurt: With its high levels of probiotics, yogurt is known to optimize digestion and improve the microbial balance in the gut, while also soothing inflammation and oxidative stress, which can increase fat deposition.
7. Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable offers surprisingly high levels of fibre and protein, which can make you feel full and provide your body with the energy resources it needs.
8. Lean Meats: Turkey and other forms of lean protein are excellent for people wondering how to lose weight, particularly when combined with a regular workout routine, which turns that protein into muscle tissue, rather than storing it as fat.
9. Salmon: Excellent levels of protein, healthy fats and somewhat rare essential minerals make salmon and other fatty fish the ideal addition to a weight loss program.
10. Turmeric: This legendary spice can stimulate the metabolism, which is always a good thing for people trying to lose weight. By drinking a cup of turmeric tea every day, you can help your body passively burn fat in a healthy way, while also providing the body with more usable energy by affecting the way that the body metabolizes fat.

Dylan Duthie

Background & Personal Information:

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Before and After
Name Dylan Duthie
Date or Birth 1 February 1991
Home Town Port Elizabeth
High School Westering High School
Gym At Edge Fitness
Contest Weight 88kg
Years Training 7 years
Favourite Body Part Shoulders
Favourite Exercise Shoulder Press
Training History:
How did you get started?  As a kid I was very small (59kg). When I finished school and started working, I joined the gym and took it from there. John Cena was my inspiration back then to get big.

What Workout Routine Worked Best for you? Every day focusing on 1 muscle group and steadily increase the volume and weight as I get stronger and stamina increases, I also do cardio 3 times a week to stay leaner.

What Nutrition/Eating Plan Worked Best for you? Lots of eggs, chicken and oats, occasional red meats and rice as well as Whey Protein Shakes.IMG-20180127-WA0003.jpg

What tip would you give other aspiring Bodybuilders?  Never give up. Don’t let life get you down

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What Supplements have given you the greatest gains?  Whey Protein

Why do you like, and what motivates you to stick to the bodybuilding lifestyle?  I like it because hard work and dedication will reap rewards and good results physically. It keeps me mentally strong as well, having goals and something to work towards.

What are your future plans in bodybuilding? In 2018 I am planning on competing in at least 3 Bodybuilding Competitions in the Eastern Cape and go on tho the SA Champs.

Who are your favourite Bodybuilding heroes? Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Cutler and Lee Priest  

I Bet You Would Not have Guessed:

About Me: I enjoy cars and drag racing

My ride:  BMW M3 and Opel Astra

My most painful injury: broken tibia, fibula, patella and forearm in a motorcycle/motorcar accident in 2013

Favourite Food: MC Donald’s

Favourite Movie: Saw saga

At a karaoke bar, I’ll most likely be singing: Superhero – Bain ft Chris

Catch me shopping: Wherever my girlfriend wants to shop

My TV is always on (what channel): YouTube – RX Muscle

That I’d secretly like to be: Chicken Farmer (eggs)

When I’m not training, I’m eating and chilling at home, watching YouTube

What do you look for in a woman? Good personality and good traits

Playing on my iPod is: I don’t have an iPod

YouTube
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Training Plan

Monday : Chest

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Shoulders

Thursday: Arms

Saturday: Legs

Eating Plan

Meal 1: Eggs and Oats

Meal 2: Whey Protein Shake

Meal 3: Chicken and Rice

Meal 4: Eggs and Rice

Meal 5: Whey Protein Shake

Meal 6: Whatever my girlfriend makes for supper (mince, chicken, omelette, ostrich, veg etc.)

Meal 7: Whey Protein Shake before bedtime

Cuppa Joe

If you love your coffee as much as I do, then you would be happy to know that coffee in moderation does have health benefits. The most impressive health benefits of coffee include its ability to improve cognitive health, aid in weight loss efforts, boost energy levels, reduce the chances of developing diabetes, maximize fitness efforts, and increase liver protection. It also helps to optimize the metabolism, prevent certain types of cancer, and protect the cardiovascular system against damage.

What Is Coffee?

Coffee is a beverage prepared from the beans of its plant. Coffea arabica is the most commonly used bean, but there are many different varieties depending on the region of the world you are drinking coffee in, or in the region, you are importing the beans from.

Known around the world for its wide variety, taste, and stimulating nature, coffee is one of the most popular beverages on the planet, with 100 million daily drinkers in the United States alone. Billions of cups are drunk every day around the world; estimates put the total at 500 billion cups every year.

Coffee represents the top agricultural export for 12 countries of the world, and despite its slightly acidic and addictive nature, it continues to be in demand from Japan to New Jersey in massive quantities. Historically, it was first recorded as a drink just over 500 years ago, beginning on the Arabian peninsula, but there is a speculation that its use as a stimulating beverage stretches back more than 1,000 years in various ancient and indigenous cultures. Now, it is drunk in nearly every country of the world, and almost daily, even 5-6 times a day. While offices have larger machines, at home people often have single serve coffee makers which work best for the small requirements.

Coffee Nutrition Facts

Coffee beans have important organic compounds and nutrients, including a range of B-family vitamins, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin, as well as potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Perhaps most importantly, they contain caffeine, which has a wide range of health benefits when consumed in moderation and at right times during the day.

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Health Benefits Of Coffee

Coffee has some surprising benefits, many of which are due to its chemical composition and nutrients. Let’s discuss the commonly known benefits in detail.

Improves Cognitive Function

It is widely known that coffee helps to sharpen your mental focus and increase attention by stimulating the brain with caffeine. While this can sometimes result in a mental crash if too much is consumed, the regular process of drinking coffee has been shown to protect the cognitive health and prevent mental degradation as we age. In fact, studies have shown that elderly people who consume it on a regular, moderate basis are 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia. Keeping those synapses firing with some caffeine isn’t a bad idea!

Weight Loss

An overlooked benefit of coffee is that it energizes people to move around, get active, and burn calories faster. The actual stimulant nature of caffeine speeds up the body’s metabolism briefly and increases calorie burning when coffee is drunk. Furthermore, it acts as an appetite suppressant, so you can calm cravings and remain firm in your dieting goals with a cup of Joe on your side!

Maximizes Fitness Goals

Many people who regularly work out or train in a gym use coffee as a final burst of energy so they can get the most of their workout. The burst of caffeine in it acts as an instant energy boost, allowing people to push themselves a bit longer and a bit harder to really begin seeing results from their exercise regimen.

Improves Heart Health

Although too much caffeine can put a strain on your cardiovascular system, research has revealed that regular coffee drinkers can reduce their risk of having a stroke. In women, coffee seems to lower the risk of heart diseases. It may increase your blood pressure temporarily, but that does not mean a stroke or heart disease is inevitable. It can often work to clear out the system and keep your heart functioning at an optimal level.

Prevents Diabetes

This is a newly discovered benefit learned about coffee, but in recent years, studies have shown that people who regularly consume the drink have a 23-50% lower chance of developing diabetes. The study covered nearly half a million people and returned some very interesting results. This could be due to the appetite suppressing effects of coffee, or the fact that it simply makes you more energized and active, helping to reduce your risk factors for diabetes. It however will have no effect if you load up on the sugar!

Increases your Metabolism

One of the essential roles of B vitamins in our body is to regulate and guide our metabolic activity. The significant levels of niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin mean that coffee helps us optimize our metabolic efficiency, maintain balanced hormone levels, and generally keep your body running smoothly.

Protects Liver

Although this is still an area that is being heavily researched on, coffee consumption has been linked to an improved liver health, particularly in the prevention of cirrhosis, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease. One study showed that regular consumption resulted in an 80% reduced chance of developing cirrhosis of the liver.

Prevents Cancer

It seems that everyone is always looking for the magical anti-cancer cure, as the disease is one of the most deadly and widespread on the planet. Coffee is not traditionally thought of as anti-carcinogenic, but it has been linked specifically to the prevention of two types of cancer – liver and colo-rectal cancer, which are the 3rd and 4th deadliest forms of cancer, respectively.

Reduces Depression 

The natural effects of coffee are to energize and activate the mind and body. This can do wonders for someone suffering from depression and has even been connected to a reduced occurrence of suicidal tendencies. However, it has been connected to anxiety and mood swings if consumed in excess, because the classic caffeine crash can be quite severe as the chemical’s effect runs out. Remember – everything in moderation!

The Myth Of The Flat Tummy

Deception

How your stomach appears when you look down, in the mirror, or from the side is based on many more factors than your body fat or body type.

Your tummy’s appearance can be affected by things like: anterior pelvic tilt, certain foods, fluid retention, and the way your body responds to exercise.

That being the case, it can be very beneficial and empowering to learn how to make the most of these factors in order to achieve your goal physique.

Spot Reduction Myth:

Unfortunately, spot reduction is not real, it is all a myth perpetuated by ‘Fitness Gurus’ and marketing companies wanting to sell the ‘Real Ab Thing”.

While the idea sounds legitimate enough, you will not get a flat stomach by performing thousands of crunches. You would definitely have worked hard and you would probably built some strength, but you won’t wake up with 6 pack abs.

Much of it comes down to nutrition. Abs are made in the kitchen.  You may never have a perfectly flat stomach, but if you avoid foods that induce bloating or fluid retention, decide to keep your calorie count at or below maintenance for your body type, and consistently stay hydrated throughout the day, you are well on your way to your goal physique.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt:

Anterior pelvic tilt is when your pelvis is tilted forward towards your toes, rather than straight up and down.

This causes both your butt and stomach to stick out, enlarging the appearance of each. This often occurs because of tightness in the hip flexors, quadriceps, and spinal erectors.

That being the case, your goal should then be to stretch your hip flexors, quadriceps, and spinal erectors.

Another factor contributing to this phenomenon is weak glutes and hamstrings. Because of this, you should also work to strengthen these muscles.

 

Anterior Pelvic Tilt Correction Routine

Perform this routine when your body is already warmed up in order to keep from getting injured.

 

Foods That Add To The Bulge:

Ever finished a meal and feel pregnant afterwards? (Ignore this question if you are, indeed, pregnant.) This happens because of the way your body reacts to certain foods. Certain foods can cause bloating and water retention, which makes your stomach appear larger than it actually is.

In order to remedy this, avoid the following groups of food when you’re heading out for a day at the beach or planning on being in a situation where you want to look your best.

  • Gluten: This includes wheat, rye, barley, and anything else that contains these grains. Some examples are: flour, pasta, bread, tortillas, beer, cereal, cookies, muffins, etc. Foods containing gluten can cause bloating in individuals who are either allergic or sensitive to it.
  • Dairy: Many individuals are lactose-intolerant without fully realizing it. The lactose in milk can cause your stomach to bloat, making it appear larger than it is.
  • Soda: The gases from the carbonation in these drinks can build up in your stomach, leading to bloating.
  • Sugar-free foods: These foods often contain sugar alcohols, which can lead to bloating.
  • High-sodium foods: Sodium enables your body to hold onto water. This fluid retention can make your muscles look less defined and cause your stomach to appear bigger than it really is.

Exercise Bulge:

Having your stomach bigger from exercise seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? Most people exercise to be free of a bloated-looking stomach. However, exercise can sometimes be the culprit of a bulging tummy.

When you first begin exercising, this is somewhat inevitable. Exercise breaks down muscle fibers through hypertrophy and then builds them back up to be stronger, and often, bigger.

Get a personal trainer to help you with your form in the beginning, as more often than not, your core control during training is incorrect and this may cause your tummy to bulge.  You can also benefit from keeping your calories at or below maintenance level, and beyond the initial burst of growth; your abs will not swell up any larger.

If you are still eating more calories than you burn once you begin exercising, you may have trouble losing fat. Generally, fat can sit on top of the abdominal muscles. Pair this with the fact that the size of your abs is increasing and you are likely going to have a larger-looking stomach than you initially expected.

The remedy for this is simple. Consider dropping your calories slightly below maintenance level, eat the right foods and that fat will begin to disappear.

13 Easy Ways to Lose Water Weight (Fast and Safely)

The human body contains around 60% water, which plays a key role in all aspects of life (1).

However, excess water retention (edema) is a common side effect of chronic inflammation (2).

Also known as fluid retention, edema can be caused by food intolerances, poor diet, toxin exposure and diseases like kidney failure.

Women may also experience water retention during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.

For most people, excess water weight is not a serious health issue. However, it can still negatively impact your appearance and quality of life.

Here are 13 ways to reduce water weight fast and safely.

  1. Exercise on a Regular Basis

Exercise may be one of the best ways to reduce water weight in the short-term. Any form of it increases sweat, which means you will lose water.

The average fluid loss during 1 hour of exercise is anywhere between 16–64 oz (0.5–2 liters) per hour, depending on factors such as heat and clothing (345).

During exercise, your body also shifts a lot of water into your muscles.

This can help reduce water outside of the cell and decrease the “soft” look people report from excessive water retention (6).

However, you still need to drink plenty of water during your training session.

Another good option to increase sweat and water loss is the sauna, which you could add in after your gym session.

MAIN POINT: Regular exercise can help you maintain a natural balance of body fluids and sweat out excess stored water.

 

  1. Sleep More

Research on sleep highlights that it’s just as important as diet and exercise (789).

Sleep may also affect the sympathetic renal nerves in the kidneys, which regulate sodium and water balance (10).

One study found that when you sleep, your body acts like a plumbing system and flushes “toxins” out of the brain (11).

Adequate sleep may also help your body control hydration levels and minimize water retention.

Aim to get a healthy amount of sleep per night, which for most individuals will be around 7–9 hours.

MAIN POINT: A good night’s sleep may help your body manage its fluid and sodium balance and lead to reduced water weight in the long-term.

  1. Stress Less

Long-term stress can increase the hormone cortisol, which directly influences fluid retention and water weight (12).

This may occur because stress and cortisol increase a hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as the antidiuretic hormone or ADH (13).

ADH works by sending signals to the kidneys, telling them how much water to pump back into the body (12).

If you control your stress levels, you will maintain a normal level of ADH and cortisol, which is important for fluid balance and long-term health and disease risk (513).

MAIN POINT: Stress increases cortisol and antidiuretic hormone, which directly affect your body’s water balance.

 

  1. Take Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals with an electric charge, such as magnesium and potassium. They play important roles in your body, including regulating water balance (14).

When electrolyte levels become too low or too high, they can cause shifts in fluid balance. This may lead to increased water weight (14).

You should tailor your electrolyte intake to your water intake. If you drink large amounts of water, you may need more electrolytes (15).

If you exercise daily or live in a humid or hot environment, you may need additional electrolytes to replace those lost with sweat (16).

In contrast, large amounts of electrolytes from supplements or salty foods, coupled with a low water intake, can have the opposite effect and increase water weight.

MAIN POINT: Electrolytes control water balance and cell hydration. Electrolyte supplements can be beneficial if you drink a lot of water, exercise a lot, live in a hot climate or do not eat salty foods.

 

  1. Manage Salt Intake

Sodium, which you obtain daily from salt, is one of the most common electrolytes in the human body.

It plays a major role in hydration levels. If levels are too low or too high, it will lead to imbalances within the body and therefore fluid retention.

A high salt intake, usually due to a diet with lots of processed foods, may increase water retention. This is particularly true if coupled with low water intake and no exercise (17181920).

However, this does seem to depend on the individual’s current daily sodium intake and blood levels.

One study tested this and found that you may only store excess water if you drastically increase or change your habitual daily intake (21).

MAIN POINT: Salt or sodium plays a key role in fluid balance. Try to avoid extreme changes, such as excessive salt intake or the elimination of salt.

 

  1. Take a Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium is another key electrolyte and mineral. It has recently become a very popular supplement for health and sports performance.

Research regarding magnesium has been extensive and shows that it has over 600 roles within the human body (22).

A lot of the evidence is in females, showing that magnesium can reduce water weight and premenstrual symptoms (PMS) (2324).

These changes may occur because magnesium plays an integrative role with other electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.

Together, they help control your body’s water balance.

MAIN POINT: Magnesium intake should be optimized, as it plays a key role in hydration levels and body water content.

 

  1. Take a Dandelion Supplement

The dandelion herb, Taraxacum officinale, is used in alternative medicine to treat water retention (25).

In recent years, it has also become popular among bodybuilders and athletes who need to drop water for aesthetic purposes or to meet a weight category.

Dandelion supplements may help you lose water weight by signaling the kidneys to expel more urine and additional salt or sodium.

In human studies, dandelion intake increases the frequency of urination over a 5-hour period (26).

However, even though it’s already in popular use, more research is definitely required on dandelion supplements.

MAIN POINT: Dandelion is a popular herb often used by bodybuilders and athletes who need to lose water weight.

 

  1. Drink More Water

Interestingly, being well-hydrated can actually reduce water retention (27).

Your body is always trying to achieve a healthy balance, so if you are constantly dehydrated your body tends to retain more water in an attempt to prevent water levels from becoming too low.

Achieving an optimal daily water intake can also be important for liver and kidney health, which may reduce water retention in the long-term (2829).

The benefits of drinking more water don’t stop there. Other research shows that it’s also important for health, fat loss, brain function and more (3031323334).

As always, achieving a balance is optimal. If you drink excessive amounts of fluid you may actually increase your water weight.

Simply drink when you’re thirsty and stop when you feel well-hydrated. You should also drink slightly more in hot environments or when exercising.

You can also monitor your urine color to assess hydration. It should be light yellow or fairly clear, which is a good indicator that you are well-hydrated.

MAIN POINT: Dehydration or over-hydration can lead to water retention. Make sure to drink balanced amounts of water each day.

 

  1. Focus on These Foods

There are several foods that you may wish to include in your diet to combat water retention.

Potassium-rich foods are often recommended, as potassium can help balance sodium levels and increase urine production, helping you drop excess water (35).

Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, bananas, avocados, tomatoes and yogurt or other dairy products are all healthy and potassium-rich.

Magnesium supplements or magnesium-rich foods are also recommended. These include dark chocolate, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

The following foods and herbs are often recommended to drop water weight in alternative medicine, with some clinical evidence supporting their use:

  • Corn silk (36).
  • Horsetail (37).
  • Parsley (38).
  • Hibiscus (39).
  • Garlic(4041).
  • Fennel (42).
  • Nettle (43).

Along with trying these foods, you may also wish to limit or temporarily remove foods that cause bloating or any intolerance’s.

These include highly processed foods, foods with lots of fiber and sometimes beans and dairy.

MAIN POINT: Certain foods and herbs can act as diuretics and reduce water retention. Combine them with easily digestible foods that don’t cause bloating or intolerance.

 

  1. Cut Carbs

Cutting carbs is a common strategy to quickly drop excess water. Carbs are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, but glycogen also pulls water inside along with it.

For every gram of glycogen you store, 3–4 grams (0.11–0.14 oz) of water may be stored with it. This explains why people experience immediate weight loss when switching to a low-carb diet, which reduces glycogen stores.

Carbs also lead to a rise in the hormone insulin, which can cause an increase in sodium retention and re-absorption of water in the kidneys (4445).

Low-carb diets lead to a drop in insulin levels, which then leads to a loss of sodium and water from the kidneys.

In contrast, if you are on a low-carb diet or dieting in general, then a high-carb meal may pull excess body fluid into your muscles and increase water weight.

It may also provide a visual difference, increasing water in the muscles but helping you drop excess water under the skin (46).

Try altering your carb intake and see what works best for you.

MAIN POINT: A low-carb diet can cause a rapid decrease in water weight because of reduced glycogen stores and lower insulin levels.

 

  1. Take Caffeine Supplements or Drink Tea and Coffee

Tea and coffee are well-known diuretics that are primarily effective due to their high caffeine content.

Caffeine has been shown to increase short-term urine output and decrease water weight slightly (4748).

In one study, a glass of water with or without caffeine was provided to participants in doses of 4.5 mg/kg of body weight.

When combining caffeine with water, participants’ urine volume significantly increased (49).

That being said, even though caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, it does not lead to dehydration in habitual consumers.

MAIN POINT: Moderate amounts of caffeine from coffee, tea or caffeine supplements may help you drop excess water.

  1. Change Your Habits

One of the best changes you can make is to reduce your intake of processed foods and excessive salt consumption.

Also, avoid sitting all day or for long periods, which can reduce your blood circulation. Physical activity can improve circulation and help you sweat out excess water (50).

Certain medications may also cause water retention, so check with your doctor or medical practitioner if you take medication daily and hold onto too much water (50).

Paying attention to the foods you eat, and making sure they’re not causing you digestive issues or inflammation, is also advised (50).

Finally, over or under consumption of water, alcohol, minerals, caffeine and salt can all cause water retention. Find a healthy, normal balance.

MAIN POINT: Check your diet for excessive processed foods, salt, caffeine and alcohol consumption.

 

  1. Consider Prescription Water Pills

Prescription diuretics and water pills are sometimes prescribed to treat excess water retention (51).

They work by activating your kidneys to flush out excess water and salt through urine.

These diuretic pills are often prescribed to those with heart or lung issues and to help with blood pressure, prevent fluid buildup and reduce swelling.

It’s important to note the difference between prescription diuretics and over-the-counter or online water pills.

Prescription pills have been clinically tested for long-term safety, whereas over-the-counter pills may lack clinical research and have not always been tested for safety.

Either type may help combat medically diagnosed edema or excess water weight.

Speak to your doctor before trying these.

MAIN POINT: When looking into diuretic medication or pills, consult with a medical practitioner and take prescribed drugs under supervision.

 

In Summary

If the problem persists, seems severe or increases suddenly, then it is always best to seek medical attention.

In some cases, excess water retention can be caused by a serious medical condition.

At the end of the day, the best way to combat excess water weight is to identify and treat the cause.

This may be excess salt intake, lack of electrolytes, inactivity, excess stress or the regular consumption of processed and inflammatory foods.

Some of these are also among the main things associated with poor health and disease, which may be even bigger reasons to avoid them.

 

The Scale Of Things

How much do you weigh, and why?

For too many people, scale weight means so much more. Our emotions get involved. Certain numbers make us happy, others make us feel awful.

The scale is so misunderstood that the device itself becomes another source for our emotional and psychological struggles with our transformation goals. The numbers the scale reports turn into another reason why we have a hard time sticking to a plan. Why? Because we trust in the scale so much that it blinds us from success and can lead us down a trail of endless frustration.

It shouldn’t be this way—and not just because it’s unhealthy and counterproductive. Obsessing over weight is foolish because we are being fooled by the number itself.When people attempt to change their physique and don’t see kilograms dropping on the scale each week, they tend to get discouraged, even if they get positive feedback from friends, colleagues, or see progress during workouts, a drop in clothing size or a leaner image in the mirror.

This discouragement is based on the flaw of thinking that they must be losing weight in order to change their body composition.

Most people starting out on a body transformation are often not aware of, or  forget about the fact that muscle, fat, bone, and water all play an important part in that number they see on the scale each week.

The weight you see on the scale is so much more than just fat.

What Is Body Composition?

Based on your fitness level, your weight comes from:

  • Muscle: 30-55% of body weight
  • Fat: 10-30% of body weight
  • Water (not in muscle or fat): 10-25%
  • Bone: 15% of body weight
  • Organs, other tissues: 10-15%

 

The more you know about different variables (for example, how much water you’re retaining, and how big your muscles are), the more accurately you can determine the amount of excess fat you have hanging around.

Having your body fat % assessed is a more reliable way of determining your progress – especially since you can do it without a scale

 

Muscle weighs more than fat.

Although the above statement is not an accurate way of putting it, muscle is denser than fat in volume.

A lean person with more muscle might weight more than somebody who’s not so lean, because muscle is denser than fat (like iron is denser than water).

Your muscle accounts for about 30-55% of your body weight and a kilogram of muscle will be about 4 times smaller than a kilogram of fat.

Make sure never to confuse “weight loss” with “fat loss” if you’re building muscle at the same time. This is “re-composition,” and requires slightly more complicated measurements to accurately assess your fitness (like body fat %).

Water Weight

“Water weight” is a buzz phrase thrown around any time body weight is mentioned. Your body is made of about 50-65% water, so water certainly does account for a large portion of your weight. Certain food allergens can cause water retention that would affect your weigh and the way you look and feel.

You can drop a few kilograms quickly by losing water weight. In order to make a lasting impact on the water weight your body is retaining unnecessarily, reduce the amount of salt in your diet and increase your water intake so that your body is more likely to release its excess fluid.

 Also Read: Foods That Cause Inflammation & 13 Ways To Lose Water Weight

 How fat affects Your Overall Weight

The amount of body fat on an individual can vary drastically from person to person. One individual may have a body fat percentage of 8%, while another may find themselves over 50%.

Body fat has less density than muscle and bone. It also burns fewer calories at rest than muscle does. A kilograms of muscle burns around 12 calories per day, whereas a kilo grams of fat only burns about 4 calories per day.

Muscle burns fat while you’re doing nothing, think about that!

If you want to lose weight quickly, by all means focus on a fat burning program.

If you want to set your body up to have a higher resting metabolism and burn passively on a regular basis, condition your body for strength training, and exercise regularly.

There are many ways to build muscle without weights, but at some point, if you really want to focus on building muscle, you will need to add extra resistance or get creative.

One of the best ways to get in shape is to join a gym and hire a personal trainer; they have the knowledge and experience to help you attain your fitness and body transformation goals.

Does Bone Play A Role In Body Weight?

Your bones account for about 15% of your total body weight. If you carry a lot of weight on your frame, odds are that your bones are bigger and stronger than someone with less weight and a smaller frame.

Strong bones are a good thing. They help prevent osteoporosis and enable you to move through your daily activities without difficulties. They are also great tools to help pack on muscle and keep off excess fat!

Also Read: Other Factors That Influence Scale Weight

The Fallacy of Measuring Body Weight Only

As you can see, body weight is affected by many factors. If you eat too much salt one day, your body weight the next day could be off; if you gain muscle and lose fat over the course of a month, you may see your body weight rise, even though you look better in the mirror.

Tracking body weight is a useful measure only if someone knows how their weight is being affected.

For example, measure your body fat percentage and weight each week over the course of a month. You might notice that, although your body fat percentage has stayed the same, your weight has gone up. If you aren’t bloated with water weight, this is a good general indicator that you are building muscle.

If you aren’t able to consistently monitor things like your body fat percentage, it may be helpful to pay attention to specifically measurable aspects of your workouts. Record the amount of time it takes you to run a certain distance or do a certain amount of repetitions of an exercise. The next time you do that workout, attempt to beat your previous bests. If you can do this, you have concrete evidence of fitness progress regardless of the number on the scale.

Focus on consistently making progress, whether it’s with your body fat percentage, workout time, or quantity of reps of an exercise. As long as you maintain a regular practice and have accurate tracking, you’ll have clarity about how much you’ve achieved, and exactly what you’ll need to do to reach your goals.

6 Foods That Cause Inflammation

Inflammation can be good or bad, depending on the situation. On one hand, it’s your body’s natural way of protecting itself when you are injured or sick. It can help your body defend itself from foreign invaders, and can stimulate healing.

On the other hand, chronic, sustained inflammation in the body can be harmful. It is linked to an increased risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and many others (123).

Interestingly, the foods you eat can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.

Here are 6 foods that can cause inflammation.

1. Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are the two main types of added sugar in the diet.

Sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while high-fructose corn syrup is about 55% fructose and 45% glucose.

One of the reasons that added sugars are harmful is increased inflammation that can lead to disease (45678).

In one study, when mice were fed high-sucrose diets, they developed breast cancer that spread to their lungs, in part due to the inflammatory response to sugar (6).

In another, the anti-inflammatory action of omega-3 fatty acids was impaired in mice that were fed a high-sugar diet (7).

And in a randomized clinical trial where people were assigned to drink regular soda, diet soda, milk or water, only those in the regular soda group had increased levels of uric acid, which drives inflammation and insulin resistance (8).

Sugars can also cause harm because they supply excess amounts of fructose. While the small amounts of fructose in fruits and vegetables are fine, getting large amounts from added sugars is a bad idea.

Eating a lot of fructose has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer and chronic kidney disease (9101112131415).

Researchers have also found that fructose causes inflammation within the endothelial cells that line your blood vessels (16).

High fructose intake has also been shown to increase several inflammatory markers in mice and humans (101718131920).

MAIN POINT: Consuming a diet high in sugar and high-fructose corn syrup drives inflammation that can lead to disease. It may also counteract the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Artificial Trans Fats

Just about everyone agrees that artificial trans-fats are the unhealthiest fats you can eat.

They’re created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, which are liquid, in order to give them the stability of a more solid fat.

Trans-fats are often listed as “partially hydrogenated” oils on the ingredients lists on food labels.

Most margarine contains trans-fats, and they are often added to processed foods in order to extend shelf life.

Unlike the naturally occurring trans fats found in dairy and meat, artificial trans fats have been shown to cause inflammation and increase disease risk (212223242526272829).

In addition to lowering beneficial HDL cholesterol, trans-fats have been shown to impair the function of the endothelial cells lining the arteries (26).

Ingestion of artificial trans-fats has been linked with high levels of inflammatory markers such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor (TNF), and C-reactive protein (CRP).

In fact, CRP levels were 78% higher in women who reported the highest trans-fat intake in the Nurses’ Health Study (26).

In a randomized controlled trial of overweight older women, hydrogenated soybean oil increased inflammation significantly more than palm and sunflower oil (27).

Studies on healthy men and men with elevated cholesterol have shown similar increases in inflammatory markers in response to trans-fats (2829).

MAIN POINT: Consuming artificial trans-fats may increase inflammation and raise the risk of several diseases, including heart disease.

3. Vegetable and Seed Oils

Despite what we’ve heard for years, consuming vegetable oils isn’t healthy.

Unlike virgin olive oil and coconut oil, vegetable and seed oils are often extracted from foods using solvents like hexane, a component of gasoline.

The vegetable oils made this way include corn, safflower, sunflower, canola (also known as rapeseed), peanut, sesame and soybean oils.

During the 20th century, the consumption of vegetable oils increased by 130% in the US.

Due to the structure of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in these oils, they are very prone to damage by oxidation.

In addition to being highly processed, these oils promote inflammation as a result of their very high omega-6 fatty acid content (30313233).

Although some dietary omega-6 fats are necessary, the typical Western diet provides may more than people need.

In fact, we should be eating more omega-3-rich foods, such as fatty fish, in order to improve our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3s.

In one study, rats who consumed an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 20:1 responded with much higher levels of inflammatory markers than those who consumed a ratio of 1:1 or 5:1 (33).

MAIN POINT: Because of their high omega-6 fatty acid content, vegetable and seed oils may promote inflammation when consumed in high amounts.

4. Refined Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap.

However, the truth is that not all carbs are problematic.

Our ancestors consumed high-fibre, unprocessed carbohydrates for millions of years in the form of grasses, roots and fruits (34).

However, eating refined carbohydrates can drive inflammation, which in turn may lead to disease (3435363738).

Refined carbohydrates have had most of their fibre removed. Fibre promotes fullness, improves blood sugar control and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Researchers report that the refined carbohydrates in our modern diet may encourage the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria that can increase risk of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease (3436).

Refined carbohydrates have a higher glycaemic index (GI) than unprocessed carbohydrates. High-GI foods raise blood sugar more rapidly than low-GI foods do.

In one study, older adults who reported consuming the highest amount of high-GI foods were 2.9 times more likely to die of an inflammatory disease like COPD (37).

In a controlled study, young, healthy men that were fed 50 grams of refined carbohydrate in the form of white bread responded with higher blood sugar levels and an increase in the inflammatory marker Nf-kB (38).

MAIN POINT: High-fibre, unprocessed carbohydrates are healthy, but refined carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels and promote inflammatory changes that may lead to disease.

5. Excessive Alcohol

Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to provide some health benefits.

However, higher amounts can lead to severe problems.

In one study, the inflammatory marker CRP increased in people who consumed alcohol. The more alcohol they consumed, the more their CRP increased (39).

People who drink heavily often develop problems with bacteria moving out of the colon and into the body. This condition, often called “leaky gut,” can drive widespread inflammation that leads to organ damage (4041).

To avoid alcohol-related health problems, intake should be limited to two standard drinks a day for men and one standard drink a day for women.

Here is an image showing what is considered a “standard drink” for several types of alcoholic beverages:

Alcohol

Photo Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

MAIN POINT: Heavy alcohol consumption can increase inflammation and potentially lead to a “leaky gut” that drives inflammation throughout the body.

6. Processed Meat

Consuming processed meat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stomach cancer and colon cancer (424344).

Common types of processed meat include sausage, bacon, ham, smoked meat and beef jerky.

Processed meat contains more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than most other meats.

AGEs are formed by cooking meats and some other foods at high temperatures. They are known to cause inflammatory changes that can lead to disease (4546).

Of all the diseases linked to processed meat consumption, colon cancer’s association is the strongest.

Although many factors contribute to colon cancer development, one mechanism is believed to be an inflammatory response to processed meat by colon cells (47).

MAIN POINT: Processed meat is high in inflammatory compounds like advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and its strong association with colon cancer may be due in part to an inflammatory response.

 In Summary

Inflammation can occur in response to many triggers.

Some of these you can’t do much about, such as pollution, injury or sickness.

However, you have much more control over the foods and beverages you choose to eat and drink.

To stay as healthy as possible, keep inflammation down by minimizing your consumption of foods that trigger it.

 

Also Read: Ways to Drop Water Fast & Safely

Other Factors That Influence Scale Weight

Understanding that the weight you get from a scale is influenced by various factors can help you better comprehend why the scale can be your biggest foe in the “Battle Of The Bulge”.

 

Scale weight changes constantly throughout the day. Any figure that the scale reports to you is merely a snapshot, a moment in time. The number doesn’t take a whole lot of time to change, and it doesn’t need a reason to shift. Dietician Alexandra Caspero showed you can gain almost two pounds in an hour without any apparent cause at all.

Scale weight is subject to the whims of water. Your intake of H20, or output of sweat, can cause your total body weight to shift up or down by nearly half a percentage point within any given day, according to John Castellani, a researcher at the U.S. Army’s Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Your water/salt balance can cause seasonal shifts in your weight, too. When the mercury climbs in the spring and summer, your body uses a hormone called aldosterone to retain more fluid. So what looks like summertime backslide in progress might just be your body’s natural reaction to the warmer weather.

Lastly, if you’re not taking in enough fluids, then your body will hold on to more of them for you. “Mild dehydration may cause fluid retention, which can increase scale weight, “ explains Dr. Melina Jampolis.

 

Scale weight makes your stress an even bigger deal. Numerous studies show a relationship between elevated stress levels and higher weights. This 5-year long study of more than 5,000 people in Australia found that those who felt the most stress also gained the most weight during that time span.

Stress is also one of the main triggers of binge eating. Combine that with negative reinforcement from the scale and you have a damned unfortunate vicious cycle: Stress makes you eat. Eating increases your weight. Your weight makes you stress.

Making matters even worse, stress increases cortisol production, which has been linked to higher levels of abdominal fat in both women and men.

 

Scale weight measures gut content. Motility—the polite way of saying “how frequently you poop”—matters when you measure your scale weight. This rate varies from person to person. Your regularity can change based on what, and how often, you eat. (People with an extremely slow rate are said to have gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying.) How much you chew your food, whether or not you drink water with meals, and how much you are up and about walking can also influence it.

 

Scale weight is as subject to change as your flight schedule. Air travel can impact your weight by disrupting not only your circadian rhythm but also the rhythm of the bacteria in your gut microbiome.

A study published in Cell found when mice were subjected to jet-lag-like conditions, the bacteria in their digestive systems changed and the animals gained weight. The researchers found that similar changes took place in the microbiomes of two people who traveled by air from the U.S. to Israel.

In non-scientific terms, you might notice bloating when you travel, which regulates within 24 hours. Are you actually gaining weight while you’re in the air? Of course, not. But the scale might have you believe otherwise.

 

Scale weight rewards cheaters. You could hack your way down to a target number through crash dieting and stimulants. But you definitely won’t be healthier for having done it.

“You can technically lose weight by cutting your calories by half and eating minimally nutritious, highly processed junk food. But that misses the point,” says Las Vegas-based dietitian Andy Bellatti. “Sure, the number on the scale will be lower, but you probably won’t feel good and you won’t have much energy to engage in physical activity.”

 

Scale weight does not show the bigger picture. Your weight can fluctuate significantly due to a single meal, making you stress unnecessarily.

Say you’re on a weight loss plan and making progress. So you treat yourself to a heartier meal while you’re out with some friends. That’s a totally normal and healthy thing to do—reward should be part of a weight loss plan. But the next time you step onto the scale, the number you see could try to convince you otherwise.

“The scale plays a huge role in what we call ‘what the hell?’ weeks,” explains Born Fitness Head Coach B.J. Ward.  “People will retain water after an ‘off-plan’ meal, which tips the scale higher. Then they’ll have an emotional reaction.”

People wind up thinking that they aren’t making progress when really they’re just a little bloated. A similar effect can happen among people doing any type of carb cycling, Ward explains. You are going to weigh more after a high-carb day than a low-carb day. In either case, Ward says individual measurements aren’t what matters. The overall trend line is.

“Daily weigh-ins tends to produce mental static,” Bellati says. “Most people don’t know that a high sodium meal the night before can result in retention of 3 or 4 pounds (up to 2kg) of water the next morning, which most people mistake for true weight gain. They then enter an unhelpful and unnecessary spiral of frustration, guilt and self-blame.”

 

Scale weight is blind to what really matters. The final—and biggest—nail in the “should I sweat over what the scale says?” coffin is this: The scale can’t tell you what you’re really made of.

Plenty of people can step on a scale and hit a low number but be far from healthy. There’s even a term for it: “skinny fat.” On the flip side, the scale—and its derivative BMI—is prejudiced against people who carry more muscle. Which is why BMI will tell you that every player on the Denver Broncos is overweight or obese, even though our own eyes can tell us that Von Miller is friggin’ jacked.

Muscle and bone are denser than fat. Stronger people may weigh the exact same—or more than—fatter, weaker people. The stronger people aren’t worse off because they’re heavier. In fact, strength is connected to longevity. The raw number on the doesn’t tell you the body fat percentage of the person standing on top of it.

Two people might both weigh 180 pounds. One is 10% body fat. The other is 20%. The first will be lean and muscular. The second will be soft and more prone to a variety of health problems (because of the higher body fat percentage). But the scale doesn’t know or tell you the difference.

All of these reasons are why no good dietician or coach would ever suggest that you focus on scale weight alone. “I think of health as a 20-piece puzzle,” Bellatti says. “Scale weight is just one piece.”

Jessica Robertson, RD at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, agrees. “Weight is one tool, but never something that I focus on or set specific goals around.”

Winning the Battle of the Scale

When you want to make a positive transformation with your body, start by letting go of the temptation to allow a single number to determine your success or failure. Then get a clear picture of your starting point.

The four-part assessment above will tell you a lot about your body. But you’ll also want to examine your habits: how well you are eating, sleeping and hydrating, and how much activity you get in a typical week.

For example, one of our new coaching clients will keep a food journal for a few days when they are first starting out. The journal itself is simple—you just write down everything you eat in a day—but admittedly time-intensive. Which is why we don’t require or even recommend that people continue to do it over the long-term (although some find that they like journaling, and do keep doing it).

The goal with these few days of journaling is just to learn what you are really taking in during a typical day. Sometimes you’ll be able to spot hidden sources of calories in unexpected places.

“I recall a situation where it turned out that a client was adding about 600 calories to a salad via a ‘healthy’ vinaigrette dressing,” Bellatti says. “Once we addressed that, the number on the scale started to move.”

You’ll want to learn about your sleep habits, too, because numerous studies have shown that people who get fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night are more likely to be obese.

When we cut our sleep duration short, our bodies produce more ghrelin—a.k.a. the “hunger hormone.” This happens after just one night of sleep deprivation. Making matters worse, when we’re tired, we’re more likely to crave high-calorie foods. So the more we can do to improve our sleep duration and quality, the better we’ll be able to reach our weight loss goals.

Just like it has with sleep, science shows that your hydration level strongly influences your overall body weight—and not just water weight. An examination of nearly 10,000 Americans spanning three years found a clear association between inadequate hydration and obesity. So yes, the old “8 glasses a day” rule isn’t a bad goal. But if you’re the type who doesn’t love the non-taste of H20, take heart: you can also increase your hydration levels by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

We’ve talked a lot about your body and what influences it. But there’s one other critical aspect of sustainable weight loss we haven’t discussed: Your mind. Mindset is a key determinant of weight loss success. Bellatti says that one way to get your mind right is to start appreciating your body, no matter what state it’s in currently.

“When you appreciate something, you want to take care of it,” Bellatti says. “Something as simple as changing the thought process from ‘I hate my body’ to ‘I want my body to operate at its best’ provides an important shift.”