25 Evidence-Based Weight Loss Tips

The weight loss “industry” is full of myths.

Over the years, however, scientists have found a number of strategies that seem to be effective.

 

Here are 25 weight loss tips that are actually evidence-based.

  1. Drink Water, Especially Before Meals

It is often claimed that drinking water can help with weight loss, and this is true.

Drinking water can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, helping you burn off a few more calories (12).

One study showed that drinking a 500ml of water about a half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight (3).

  1. Eat Eggs For Breakfast

Eating whole eggs can have all sorts of benefits, including helping you lose weight.

Studies show that replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs can help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours, and lose more weight and more body fat (45).

If you can’t eat eggs for some reason, then that’s fine. Any source of quality protein for breakfast should do the trick.

  1. Drink Coffee (Preferably Black)

Coffee has been unfairly demonized. Quality coffee is loaded with antioxidants, and can have numerous health benefits.

Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 10-29% (678).

Just make sure NOT to add a bunch of sugar or other high-calorie ingredients to it. That will completely negate any benefit you get from the coffee.

  1. Drink Green Tea

Like coffee, green tea also has many benefits, one of them being weight loss.

Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine, but it is also loaded with powerful antioxidants called catechins, which are also believed to work synergistically with the caffeine to enhance fat burning (910).

Although the evidence is mixed, there are many studies showing that green tea (either as a beverage or a green tea extract supplement) can help you lose weight (1112).

measuring visceral fat

  1. Cook With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is very healthy. It is high in special fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than other fats.

These fats have been shown to boost metabolism by 120 calories per day, and also reduce your appetite so that you eat up to 256 fewer calories per day (1314).

Keep in mind that this is not about adding coconut oil on top of what you’re already eating, it is about replacing some of your current cooking fats with coconut oil.

  1. Take a Glucomannan Supplement

A fibre called glucomannan has been shown to cause weight loss in several studies.

This is a type of fibre that absorbs water and “sits” in your gut for a while, making you feel more full and helping you eat fewer calories (15).

Studies have shown that people who supplement with glucomannan lose a bit more weight than those who don’t (16).

  1. Cut Back on Added Sugar

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet, and most people are eating way too much of it.

Studies show that sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) consumption is strongly associated with the risk of obesity, as well as diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and others ( 171819).

If you want to lose weight, you should be cutting back on added sugars. Just make sure to read labels, because even so-called health foods can be loaded with sugar.

  1. Eat Less Refined Carbs

Refined carbohydrates are usually sugar, or grains that have been stripped of their fibrous, nutritious parts (includes white bread and pasta).

Studies show that refined carbs can spike blood sugar rapidly, leading to hunger, cravings and increased food intake a few hours later. Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity (202122).

If you’re going to eat carbs, make sure to eat them with their natural fibre.

  1. Go on a Low Carb Diet

If you want to get all the benefits of carb restriction, then consider taking this all the way and going on a low carb diet.

Numerous studies show that such a diet (or “way of eating”) can help you lose 2-3 times as much weight as a standard low-fat diet, while improving your health at the same time (232425).

  1. Use Smaller Plates

Using smaller plates has been shown to help people automatically eat fewer calories in some studies. Weird trick, but it seems to work (26).

  1. Exercise Portion Control or Count Calories

Portion control (eating less) or counting calories can be very useful, for obvious reasons (27).

There are also studies showing that keeping a food diary and writing down what you eat, or taking pictures of all your meals, can help you lose weight (2829).

Anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to be useful.

  1. Keep Healthy Food Around in Case You Get Hungry

Keeping healthy food close by can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry.

A few snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, a handful of nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and a hardboiled egg (or two).

  1. Eat Spicy Foods

Spicy foods like Cayenne pepper contain Capsaicin, a compound that can boost metabolism and reduce your appetite slightly (3031).

  1. Do Aerobic Exercise

Doing aerobic exercise (cardio) is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health.

It appears to be particularly effective to lose belly fat, the unhealthy fat that tends to build up around your organs and cause metabolic disease (3233).

  1. Lift Weights

One of the worst side effects of dieting, is that it tends to cause muscle loss and metabolic slowdown, often referred to as starvation mode (3435).

The best way to prevent this from happening is to do some sort of resistance exercise, like lifting weights. Studies show that weight lifting can help keep your metabolism high, and prevent you from losing precious muscle mass (3637).

Of course, it’s not just important to lose fat. You also want to make sure that what is beneath looks good. Doing some sort of resistance exercise is critical for that.

  1. Eat More Fibre

Fibre is often recommended for the purpose of weight loss. Although the evidence is mixed, some studies show that fibre (especially viscous fibre) can increase satiety and help you control your weight over the long term (3839).

  1. Eat More Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits have several properties that make them effective for weight loss.

They contain few calories, but a lot of fibre. They are also rich in water, which gives them a low energy density. They also take a while to chew, and are very filling.

Studies show that people who eat vegetables and fruits tend to weigh less (40). These foods are also super healthy and nutritious, so eating them is important for all sorts of reasons.

  1. Chew More Slowly

It can take a while for the brain to “register” that you’ve had enough to eat. Some studies show that chewing more slowly can help you eat fewer calories and increase the production of hormones linked to weight loss (4142).

  1. Get Good Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated, but it may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising.

Studies show that poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity, being linked to an 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults (43).

  1. Beat Your Food Addiction

A recent 2014 study of 196,211 individuals found that 19.9% of people fulfil the criteria for food addiction (44).

If you suffer from overpowering cravings and can’t seem to get your eating under control no matter how hard you try, then you may be a food addict.

In this case, get help. Trying to lose weight without dealing with this problem first is next to impossible.

  1. Eat More Protein

Protein is the single most important nutrient when it comes to losing weight.

Eating a high protein diet has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, while helping you feel so satiated that you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day (454647).

One study also showed that protein at 25% of calories reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, while cutting the desire for late night snacking in half (48).

This is the single most important tip in the article.

Simply adding protein to your diet (without restricting anything) is one of the easiest, most effective and most delicious ways to lose weight.

  1. Supplement With Whey Protein

If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, taking a supplement can help.

One study showed that replacing part of your calories with whey protein can cause weight loss of about 4kg, while increasing lean muscle mass (49).

  1. Don’t Drink Calories, Including Sugary Soda and Fruit Juices

Sugar is bad, but sugar in liquid form is even worse (50). Studies show that liquid sugar calories may be the single most fattening aspect of the modern diet.

For example, one study showed that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving (51).

Keep in mind that this applies to fruit juice as well, which contains a similar amount of sugar as a soft drink like coke (52).

Eat whole fruit, but use fruit juice with caution (or avoid it altogether).

  1. Eat Whole, Single Ingredient Foods (Real Food)

If you want to be a leaner, healthier person, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat whole, single ingredient foods.

These foods are naturally filling, and it’s very difficult to gain weight if the majority of your diet is based around them.

Keep in mind that real food doesn’t need a long list of ingredients, because real food IS the ingredient.

  1. Don’t “Diet,” Eat Healthy Instead

One of the biggest problems with “diets,” is that they almost never work in the long term.

If anything, people who “diet” tend to gain more weight over time, and studies show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain (53).

Instead of going on a diet, make it your goal to become a healthier, happier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it.

 

If you follow these tips weight loss should follow as a natural side effect.

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OatSo Magic

About the magic of oats (Avena sativa L)

Most foods that are healthy work from the inside of us after we eat them. Oats work wonders for our bodies both from the inside and the outside.

From the inside

  1. Oats are low fat somewhere between 130 and 170 calories per serving. Of course, the calories go up if you’re like me who loves them with butter, milk, and brown sugar on them, but I can’t blame the oats for my bad habits.
  2. One serving of oats gives you about 4 or 5 grams of fiber or about the same as 1 large apple. Studies have shown that the fiber, beta glutan, found in oats helps keep HDL, the good cholesterol, up and LDL, the bad cholesterol, down. Studies also show that the beta glutan in oats enhances your immune system.
  3. The protein in oat grain is nearly equal to that of meat, milk, and eggs. Just in case you’re interested, the protein in oats is called is avenalin and the oat is the only grain that contains this protein source.
  4. According to the American Diabetes Association, both steel cut oats and whole grain rolled oats have a low glycemic index (they are slow to raise blood glucose levels). Quick oats have a medium glycemic index.
  5. Oats contain no gluten. According to the Quaker oat company, there may be some cross-contamination when transporting oats or when the mill used to process them also processes wheat and other grains containing gluten. You might be interested in one study conducted on children with celiac disease (gluten is intolerable to folks with celiac disease) and the tiny amounts of gluten in rolled oats were well tolerated.
  6. Oats and other grains contain plant lignans. These are noted for their antioxidant and phytoestrogenic (estrogen derived from plants) qualities. Studies indicate they may help prevent breast, prostate and other hormone-related cancers as well as heart disease.
  7. Oats are high in antioxidants which help protect you from that fast food diet high in artificially produced trans fats. Trans fats damage our arteries, increase our LDL(the bad cholesterol), make us fat and cause heart attacks.

From the outside

  1. You can use oats on your skin as a cleansing and softening scrub. Check out the post “Homemade Sugar Scrub.”
  2. Have a rash, eczema, psoriasis or itchy skin? Numerous studies indicate oatmeal (particularly colloidal oatmeal) helps to heal and soothe the skin. We can particularly thank the polyphenol, avenanthramide for this. Avenanthramide is found “exclusively in oats” according to a 2011 article which appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.  Check out the post “Colloidal Oatmeal – A Really Really Simple Bath for Dry Itchy Skin.”
  3. Have a few wrinkles or maybe a lot of wrinkles? Use colloidal oatmeal to make your skin healthier and diminish the wrinkles. Colloidal oatmeal helps to repair damaged skin. Check out the post “Colloidal Oatmeal Cream Recipe.”
  4. Have problems with your hair and or scalp? Use colloidal oatmeal to help solve the problem. Check out the post “Homemade Conditioner – Colloidal Oatmeal.”
  5. Does your skin feel rough? Take a colloidal oatmeal bath and watch it become smooth and moisturized. Check out the post “Colloidal Oatmeal – A Really Really Simple Bath for Dry Itchy Skin.”
  6. All this plus you get a sunscreen. (Further explanation follows below.)

Oats contain the following:

  • Protein 15 – 17%
  • Starches and sugars 59 – 70% These sugars include beta glucan (beta glucan concentrations range from 2 – 6%) – The sugars and starches are the protective and water holding function of oats with beta glucan being of primary interest as its function in lowering cholesterol.
  • Fat 4 – 9%
  • Dietary fiber 5 – 13%
  • Saponins – The saponins in oats are mostly what give them their cleansing properties.
  • Polyphenols – Some of the phenols in oats protect against UVA in the range of 320 – 370nm. (The total UVA spectrum ranges from 320 to 400 nm and is associated with cell damage, skin cancers, and aging). Of particular interest are the avenanthramides for their role as anti-histamines and antioxidants.
  • Various vitamins 3 – 11%
  • Minerals in whole grain oat – Very small percentages of copper, manganese, zinc and iron. Higher percentages of Calcium (95mg/100g), magnesium (140mg/100g), sulfur, phosphorus (340mg/100g) and potassium (460mg/100g).

Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats

The steel cut oats will take longer to cook (10 minutes or more depending on how soft you like them), but they have a delicious nutty flavor and any leftovers can be fried. The rolled oats are quicker to cook, but you have to take care that you are purchasing a rolled oat that is made from whole grainoats. Some rolled oats have a portion of the bran (the outside part of the grain) removed. Also, because rolled oats have gone through the toasting process, they are slightly less nutritious than steel cut oats.  Steel cut oats also have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats because they take longer to digest. That makes steel cut oats preferred for personal care products and cooking.

How to make colloidal oatmeal

You can buy either uncut oats or steel cut oats, but steel cut oats are easier to find than uncut oats. Whatever you use, grind the oats in a coffee grinder to fine flour. To determine if the oats are fine enough, add a small amount to warm water. If fine enough, the oats will suspend in the water. If they sink to the bottom, you will need to grind them a little more and retest.

There, now you have it. The truth is that oats to eat or prepared as colloidal oatmeal for your hair and skin formulations are a wonderful gift to us from Mother Nature. They are truly magical when you consider just how many benefits they offer. Plus, they are not only delicious, they’re very affordable.

Tip: I suggest you buy organic grains they don’t cost that much more and you’re supporting the organic growers while avoiding possible pesticide and or herbicide contamination.

 

Colloidal Oatmeal Cream Recipe

Colloidal Oatmeal Cream Recipe – ingredient benefits:

Colloidal oatmeal benefits (skin):

  • Helps heal skin
  • Protects and moisturizes skin
  • Soothes and relieves minor skin irritations
  • Reduces redness and itching
  • Improves skin elasticity
Aloe vera gel benefits (skin):
  • Reduces scarring
  • Protects the skin by creating a natural barrier
  • Relieves sunburns
  • Destroys bacteria
  • Relieves inflammation and soreness
  • Helps heal burns, cuts and wounds
  • Sooths itchy skin
  • Helps sooth and heal psoriasis, eczema and acne
  • Moisturizes

Grapeseed oil benefits (skin):

  • Good for all skin types
  • Repairs skin damage from the sun
  • Helps slow the process of aging
  • Has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Helps prevent clogging pores and breakouts
  • Nourishes skin, helping keep it smooth and subtle
  • Easily absorbed into the skin
  • Helps to tighten and tone the skin
  • Helps to heal skin
  • Regenerates skin cells

Coconut oil benefits (skin):

  • Good for all skin types
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Helps heal skin
  • Protects the skin from free radical damage
  • Easily absorbed into the skin
  • Provides nutrients to the skin
  • Benefits to the skin’s connective tissue

Colloidal Oatmeal Cream Recipe:

Supplies:

4 x 112ml or 2 x224ml glass jars

Blender, food processor or stick blender

Ingredients

½ cup of aloe vera gel

½ cup colloidal oatmeal tea*

1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin

⅓ cup of coconut oil

14g of beeswax

¼ cup of almond oil

½ cup grapeseed oil

Up to 1 ½ teaspoons essential oils or natural fragrance oils (optional). I used 1 tsp Sandalwood and ½ tsp Tea Tree essential oil for extra skin conditioning.

Soap safe colorant (Optional).

 

Place aloe vera gel, colloidal oatmeal tea* and glycerin in 2+ cup bowl. Place almond oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil and beeswax in a microwave safe bowl, microwave on high for 30 second and stir. Repeat in 20 second intervals until fully melted.

Run stick blender in aloe vera, colloidal oatmeal, glycerin mixture (a food processor may be used). Slowly pour in melted oils. As the oils are blended in, the cream will turn white. As soon as you have a mayonnaise-like consistency, stop motor, add essential oils and colorant, and then pulse blend. Do not over blend.

Transfer cream to glass jars while still warm because it thickens quickly. I use 4 oz decorative jelly jars. They are perfect as gifts, or as an addition to a spa gift basket.

*To make colloidal oatmeal tea; place 2 tablespoons steel-cut oatmeal in a coffee grinder. Grind oatmeal until it is the texture of very fine powder (this is colloidal oatmeal). Mix the colloidal oatmeal in 1 cup boiling water. Mix with a wire whisk until dissolved. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Pour your colloidal oatmeal/water mixture through a coffee filter into a cup. You want to end up with ½ cup colloidal oatmeal tea.

NOTE: Lasts a week or so if stored in a refrigerator.

Homemade Sugar Scrub

The purpose of a body or face scrub is to remove dead skin cells. This is called exfoliation. When dead cells are removed, your skin becomes more vibrant. 

You do have to be careful of scrubs if your skin is sensitive or thin (the plight of aging skin). The recipe that follows is a gentle scrub and should be safe for most of you, but proceed with caution if you are older or have sensitive skin.

This recipe is for a brown sugar rub. We chose this one because the grains are finer in brown sugar than white sugar. Molasses, part of what makes brown sugar brown, is good for your skin because it is replete with glycolic. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid famed for making aging skin look more youthful.

The ingredients in this recipe are designed not just for exfoliation, but also the skin’s health. Colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera gel protect, nourish and heal the skin leaving it soft and smooth.

Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipe

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons colloidal oatmeal (Colloidal oatmeal may be purchased or made at home. See below for instructions.)

2 tablespoons aloe vera gel

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (omit if you have very dry skin)

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon molasses

To make colloidal oatmeal at home:

  • Put raw uncooked oats into a grinder or blender. A coffee grinder works well for this.
  • Grind the oats until they have the consistency of flour.

To make sure that the oats have been ground to the correct fineness, add a teaspoon of the ground oats to a glass of water and mix. The oats should absorb the water quickly giving it a milky look. If the particles sink readily to bottom of the glass, grind them a bit longer and retest.

To make the homemade sugar scrub:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until it forms a paste.

How to use the homemade sugar scrub:

  • Apply to moist skin as moist skin loses dead cells faster. The best time is after a shower or bath.
  • Dampen the skin with warm water
  • Apply the scrub evenly with finger tips in a circular motion to your face and neck (this improves circulation)
  • Massage gently for 30 – 60 seconds avoiding your eyes
  • Spend a bit more time on the forehead and chin region where dead skin tend to collect more frequently.
  • Gently rinse away the scrub and follow with a light moisturizer.
  • For best results use twice a week

Colloidal Oatmeal – A Really Really Simple Bath for Dry Itchy Skin

You may have an itchy skin because you are plagued with dry skin, eczema, psoriasis or a rash caused by poison ivy or another contact allergen. It might also be caused by those pesky mosquitoes or other insect bites. Whatever the cause, try a soothing oatmeal bath to calm that angry skin.

The perfect colloidal oatmeal bath

It’s really easy to create a colloidal oatmeal bath. First, however you need to make or purchase the colloidal oatmeal. It’s easy to make, simply put some regular oats in a coffee grinder and turn them into very fine flour.

Add enough of your colloidal oats to your bath to turn the water a milky color. Be sure and use a non-stick mat in your tub as oats will make it very slippery. Soak in the bath for 10 minutes and rinse with warm, not hot, water. There will be some particles in your bath water which I don’t mind. If you choose, you can avoid that by putting the oats in a sock. Tie off the open end and allow the warm water to flow over it as you fill the tub. After the tub is filled, squeeze the sock to force the “oat milk” into your bath. You can opt to take two or three colloidal oatmeal baths a day if you have an itchy rash.

You can also add 1½ teaspoons lavender essential oil which is good to help with eczema, psoriasis and allergies. Plus, lavender essential oil adds a delightful fragrance to your bath.

Pat your skin dry with a towel when you get out of the tub. If you rub your skin, you will irritate the itchy areas and make them itch worse.

 

The Unsung Hero Of Fat Loss!

SLEEP

As you begin scrambling for the latest and most scientific information relating to stripping off those last few layers of body fat that seem to cling to you for dear life, you’re likely coming across a wide range of content concerning the best foods for belly-fat loss.

Maybe you’re also finding the best exercises to help boost the metabolism, the best workout designs that promise to add more muscle definition, and the best times to be eating if you hope to maximize the amount of fat you burn throughout the day.

There’s no question about it, what you eat and how you exercise are two significant contributors to the overall success rate you see. But after that, it’s important to not overlook some of the other contributing factors that can sway the type of progress you experience.

Make no mistake, achieving maximum fat loss and getting that “ripped” look that you see on the cover of your favourite health and fitness magazine is a 24/7 endeavour. If you aren’t on top of the game at all times, there is a large chance you’ll falter.

One specific component that very often gets overlooked is that of sleep. No one ever thinks of sleep being a factor in success since, after all, you are barely conscious while you sleep. How much damage could you really do to your progress while you are sleeping?

The answer is that it’s not what you do while you’re sleeping per se, it’s the quality and quantity of sleep you get. Let’s dig a bit further so you can see the profound connection sleep has with your weight loss.

INCREASED DAYTIME CORTISOL LEVELS

One of the first major problems that are associated with a lack of sleep is an increased daytime cortisol level. As you may have already known, cortisol is a hormone that is released within the body that works to break down body tissues. In times of stress, you will find cortisol levels very high since the body is getting ready for the fight or flight response mechanism.

Dieting itself puts the body in a stressed state since it is taking in fewer calories than it would ideally like to function; therefore you’re already at risk for such problems as muscle mass loss (which occurs when high cortisol levels begin breaking down the body’s tissues).

In one study put on by the Laboratory of Physiology in Belgium, researchers noted that those who were shorting themselves of sleep noticed higher afternoon and early evening cortisol levels than those who were not.

IMPAIRED GLUCOSE CONTROL

Have you ever found that after a late night out or a night of simply tossing and turning where sleep was hard to come by, the next day you were craving carbohydrates like a pregnant woman a few days before delivery?

One study conducted in Chicago noted that on-going sleep deprivation is responsible for a number of changes in the hormonal release and metabolism of humans, especially increased hunger and appetite.

Often in very fatigued states the body senses this fatigue and perceives a low supply of energy as a result, kick-starting internal drives to eat (hunger).

In addition to this, the researchers also pointed out that sleep restriction can decrease glucose and insulin sensitivity, two of the most critical factors that are involved in the development or prevention of diabetes as well as regulating the satiety you feel after a meal is eaten.

While you may think staying up for that extra hour to catch your favourite TV isn’t really all that detrimental, if the truth is told it could be dramatically increasing the chances that you develop diabetes.

measuring visceral fat
Contact Edge Fitness Clubs to receive your Body Assessment

INCREASED VISCERAL ADIPOSE TISSUE

For most people on a fat loss diet, the visceral fat is the fat that’s most important to lose because it’s the type that will set you up for the greatest overall health threats.

While you may see subcutaneous fat gains easier (as this is the fat directly under the skin), a high level of fat surrounding the organs is really going to be problematic and could eventually be life threatening.

Researchers from the John Carroll University used a continuous dark versus continuous light exposure test to assess the impacts on a group of animals. They wanted to measure melatonin levels, the metabolic parameters, the circadian rhythm activity patterns, as well as any behaviour changes that took place when animals were either placed in a standard condition with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, 24 hours of darkness, or 24 hours of continuous light.

After the study was completed the researchers noticed that the 24 hour light animals demonstrated a significantly greater visceral adipose tissue than the other two groups who did have darkness hours as well as those who were always exposed to light noted a lower level of overall activity and started to become extremely irritable and easily excited.

The body naturally wants to maintain its normal circadian rhythm with proper light and dark periods for wakefulness and sleep, and when these are altered; negative events take place with regards to body fatness and overall health.

In another study performed in the Czech Republic and published in Physiological Research, researchers found that optimal body weight was strongly associated with test subjects who maintained seven hours of sleep each night, making that the guideline that you should try and shoot for.

While some rare individuals may find they feel fine on much lower levels of sleep (5-6 hours) and others may find they need a great deal more (9+ hours per night), for most adults living a regular lifestyle with added training, 7-8 hours of sleep is optimal.

Generally the more intense and frequent your training sessions are, the more sleep you may require in order to recover properly. In these situations if 8-9 hours is not manageable, short afternoon naps can sometimes do the trick.

SLEEP AND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE

Finally, you must not overlook the connection between the amount of sleep you get and your overall exercise performance. When you are short on sleep, it’s quite typical to find yourself struggling to maintain the usual level of exercise that you normally would tolerate quite well.

In addition to this, since sleep is the primary time the body recovers from exercise, it’s also when you will be rebuilding your torn muscle tissues. Without this recovery time, you’re going to go into your next exercise session at a disadvantage.

One of the key recommendations for combating over training syndrome, which will quickly take you away from your workouts and limit further fat loss, is getting quality sleep. Failing to do so could mean you having to take time away from your program, which will without question of a doubt, slow you down.

So make sure you’re getting your 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Not only are you going to feel better, think clearer, and be much stronger when it comes to battling those food cravings that are so common with fat loss diets, but you’ll also really be helping promote better long-term health as well.

REFERENCES
  1. Copinschi, G. (2005). Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacol. 6(6):341-7.
  2. Murphy, HM., & Wideman, CH. (2009). Constant light induced alterations in melatonin levels, food intake, feed efficiency, visceral adiposity, and circadian rhythms in rats. Oct;12(5):233-40.
  3. Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2010). Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss In Hormonal Release and Metabolism. Endocrine Development. 17:11-21.
  4. Backx, FJ. Et al. (2009). Evaluation and opportunities in overtraining approaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Dec;80(4):756-64.

 

What Is Overtraining: Learn How To Recognize & Avoid It

Overtraining is an all too popular trend with bodybuilders and other high intensity training athletes such as swimmers, and long distance runners. In the following article we will review what overtraining is, what signs present themselves, and how to spot, and avoid overtraining.

OVERTRAINING

Overtraining is all too present in today’s gyms. Those who live high stress lifestyles and overachievers always seem to find their way into the gym. You’ve seen it yourself. It is the one guy in the corner of the gym doing his high intensity, 4 hour, full body workout for the 13th time this week.

You know him, he was there when you left yesterday, the guy that is always there but never changes. If you don’t know who it is… It may be you! Here are some ways to identify overtraining in yourself:

  • A plateau in performance.
  • A drop in performance.
  • Elevated Resting HR (an easy way to measure this is to take your resting HR when you first awaken and compare it from week to week).
  • Elevated Training HR (if you know at level 6 on the treadmill you normally have a heart rate of 120 bpm, and lately has been measuring 150 bpm, something may be wrong).
  • Feeling of “heaviness.”
  • Ongoing muscle soreness (chronic).
  • A desire to skip workouts (your body is telling you something and you should listen).
  • Lack of enthusiasm when it comes to both the gym and everyday activities.
  • Decreased concentration.
  • Tiredness.
  • Sleep disorder (both too much and not enough).
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Weight loss (when not trying).

Thankfully, if you find you are suffering from one or many of these symptoms, overtraining is relatively easy to cure. Take at least a week off. When I say take a week off however, this doesn’t mean go on a week long sugar binge, or beer drinking streak.

Drinking alcohol and lack of quality sleep will shoot your cortisol levels through the roof and may even advance your overtraining symptoms. What I mean is take a week away from the gym and let your body recover. Eat adequate amounts of food, being sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables, fiber, quality protein, and whole grain sources of carbohydrates.

If you are an athlete, should you stop taking any of the supplements you’ve been taking? Well, if it is creatine, protein, amino acids, HMB, Glutamine, or other supplements aiding in your recovery, no.

I would continue taking these to help your muscles recover and get you ready for your comeback week. However if its caffeine, Ma Huang, or any other stimulants I would take a break. These supplements can affect your sleep no matter what time they are taken, and sleep has to be a number one priority for you during your recovery phase.

REDUCING THE CHANCES OF OVERTRAINING

There are two factors important in preventing overtraining:

  1. EXERCISE FACTORS
  • Allow for adequate recovery time in between exercise sessions.
  • Ensure variety in your exercises, and training techniques.
  1. OUTSIDE FACTORS
  • Maintain physical health by engaging in regular exercise.
  • Maintain emotional health.
  • Maintain spiritual health.
  • Maintain mental health.
  • Maintain interpersonal health.

Think of each of these factors as pieces making a complete “health wheel”. If one of these factors is missing, or not complete, your wheel will not roll smoothly, or not at all, veering you off the course to success and resulting in overtraining.

Knowing how to spot the signs of overtraining is essential. It is even more important to know how to cure and prevent it.

Thankfully this is one of the only negative results of entering into an exercise program. Keep a close eye on the signals your body sends out, and do something about it. As always feel free to contact me through email with any questions. GSNBody

How to get a summer six-pack

Summer Packs

Trapped under the fatty layer of your belly are three major abdominal muscle groups, eager to get taut and toned. With the right exercises and diet, anyone – young or old – can get a washboard stomach, says biokineticist Pea Blaauw of Cape Town.

 

If you do our series of exercises every day you’ll see, and feel, a difference within a month. Keep up the hard work for 12 weeks, combine it with a healthy diet and your friends will be impressed with the result.

For a fabulous, flat tummy in 30 days Do two sets of 15 repetitions of four of these abdominal muscle exercises daily. Vary your choice of exercises so you do at least one set of each every week.

The secret is to do each exercise in a controlled manner and to concentrate on using your stomach muscles to move your upper body.

Remember Exercise goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. You can tone your arms, flatten your stomach and tighten your buttocks but if your muscles are covered in a layer of fat, you’ll still look flabby and shapeless.

  1. Abdominal curls

curl - Copy

Curl your upper body up until your shoulder blades are off the ground. It’s a small movement. Keep your feet flat on the floor and try not to lift your head with your hands.

You can start doing the exercise on the floor and after a week or two move on to a big gym ball with your body horizontal and your feet flat on the floor.

  1. Abdominal Crunches

crunch - Copy

Use your abdominal muscles to lift your upper body and shoulders closer to your legs. Don’t arch your back as you lift your upper body.

You can start by doing the exercise on the floor and after a week or two move on to a big gym ball with your body horizontal and your feet flat on the floor.

  1. Boxing exercise

box

Hold your arms like a boxer and punch the air as you bring your upper body into the crunch. You can punch to the front, to the side or straight up into the air with each crunch.

  1. Oblique crunches

oblique

Contract your abdominals and move your elbow towards your opposite knee. Hold for five seconds and lower slowly to the starting position. Keep your lower back pressed against the floor.

Reverse crunch

reverse

Lie on the floor and pull your knees to your chest. Hold on to something fixed. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your buttocks and lower back off the floor.

  1. Fingers to toes

finger

Keep your arms straight while you lift your fingers towards your toes. Move your upper body towards your knees and keep your stomach muscles contracted. Keep your chin off your chest.

  1. Russian twist

twist

Hold a small gym ball with both hands. Rest your shoulders and neck on a big ball, with your feet flat and your body horizontal. Turn your arms slowly to the left, back to the middle and then to the right.

Fishcakes with barley salad and lemon drizzle

Mackerel and sardines are very good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. They play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Oats are a good source of soluble fibre- also known as oat beta-glucan. Research suggests that the soluble fibre in oats may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels, specifically LDL cholesterol.

 

Servings 4

Ingredients

Fishcakes:

  • 1 can (400 g) of mackerel (middle cut)
  • ¼ cup oat bran
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 1 free-range egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 10g chopped fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2Tbs avocado oil

Barley Salad

  • 1 cup cooked pearl barley, cold
  • 40g watercress
  • ½ medium cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 50g almonds, raw and chopped
  • 50g mixed bean sprouts
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 50g sliced red onion
  • 50g basil
  • 10g fennel
  • 100g feta
  • salt and pepper

Lemon Drizzle

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • 4Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp chopped chives
  • salt and pepper

Method

Fishcakes

  • Drain the mackerel of any liquid, and put it into a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a fork, shred the fish up until it’s fine and there are no large chunks.
  • Add the oat bran, carrot, egg, lemon zest, and chopped herbs, and mix well.
  • Leave the mixture to stand for about 30 minutes in the fridge, so the oat bran soaks up excess liquid in the mixture.
  • Separate the mixture into 8 equal sized balls, and shape them into patties.
  • Season the fishcakes with salt and pepper.
  • Put a large non-stick frying pan onto a medium heat and drizzle the oil into the pan.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the fishcakes and fry on the first side for around 2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them over and repeat on the other side.

Barley Salad

  • Wash the cucumber, tomatoes and herbs.
  • Using a peeler, shave the cucumber into ribbons.
  • Cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and pip and cut the avocado into chunks.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the barley, cucumber ribbons, almonds, bean sprouts, tomatoes, onion, tear the fennel and basil up and add to the salad.
  • Assemble the salad on a platter. Spread the barley salad mixture on the bottom of the platter.
  • Add the chunks of avocado, and crumble the feta over the top of the salad. Sprinkle the watercress on top of the salad.

Lemon Drizzle

  • Whisk together the lemon juice, zest and mustard.
  • Drizzle the olive oil into the lemon mixture whilst whisking.

Mix in the chopped chives, and season with salt & pepper.

A Healthier Life

Mental health

Healthy living involves more than physical health, it also includes emotional or mental health. The following are some ways people can support their mental health and well-being.

Tips:

  • Get enough sleep daily; the CDC recommends the following by age group (naps inclusive); 12-18 hours from birth to 2 months, 14-15 hours from 3-11 months of age, 12-18 hours for 1-3 years of age, 11-13 hours for 3-5 years of age, 10-11 hours for 5-10 years of age, eight and a half to nine and a half hours for 10-17 years of age and those 18 and above need seven to nine hours of sleep. Elderly people need about seven to nine hours but do not sleep as deeply and may awaken at night or wake early, so naps (like kids need) allow them to accumulate the total of seven to nine hours of sleep.
  • Take a walk and reflect on what you see and hear at least several times per week.
  • Try something new and often (eat a new food, try a different route to work, go to a new museum display).
  • Do some mind exercises (read, do a puzzle occasionally during the week).
  • Try to focus on a process intensely and complete a segment of it over one to several hours, then take a break and do something relaxing (walk, exercise, short nap).
  • Plan to spend some time talking with other people about different subjects.
  • Try to make some leisure time to do some things that interest you every week (hobby, sport).
  • Learn ways to say “no” when something occurs that you do not want to do or be involved with.
  • Have fun (go on a trip with someone you love, go shopping, go fishing; do not let vacation time slip away).
  • Let yourself be pleased with your achievements, both big and small (develop contentment).
  • Have a network of friends; those with strong social support systems lead healthier lives.
  • Seek help and advice early if you feel depressed, have suicidal thoughts, or consider harming yourself or others.
  • People taking medicine for mental-health problems should not stop taking these medications, no matter how “well” they feel, until they have discussed their situation with their prescribing doctor(s).

 

Avoid tobacco use

 

Tobacco use is the most important preventable illness and cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Tobacco use was estimated to be the cause of 443,000 deaths in 2010 in the U.S.

 

Tip:

  • Stop smoking tobacco; start to stop today (it takes about 15 years of non-smoking behaviour to achieve a “normal” risk level for heart disease for those that smoke).
  • Stop using chewing tobacco to avoid oral cancers.

 

Adverse consequences of tobacco use:

  • Tobacco use causes or contributes to a large number of cancers in the U.S. In men, 90% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to smoking; 80% in women. Tobacco use causes cancers of the lung, mouth, lip, tongue, esophagus,kidney, and bladder. It also further increases the risk of bladder cancer in subjects occupationally exposed to certain organic chemicals found in the textile, leather, rubber, dye, paint, and other organic chemical industries, and further increases the risk of lung cancer among subjects exposed to asbestos.
  • Tobacco use causes atherosclerotic arterial disease (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and lack of blood flow to the lower extremities. Tobacco use causes an estimated 20%-30% of coronary heart disease in the U.S. It also further increases the risk of heart attacks among subjects with elevated cholesterol, uncontrolled hypertension, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Tobacco use causes an estimated 20% of chronic lung diseases in the U.S., such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and causes pneumonia in those with chronic lung disease. The CDC, in 2011, estimated that 90% of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) were due to smoking.
  • Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to deliver babies with low birth weight.
  • Second-hand smoke can cause middle-ear infections (otitis media), coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, and pneumonia in babies, and aggravate asthma in children. Second-hand smoke (sometimes referred to as passive smoking) can also cause lung cancer.

Comments and recommendations (tips):

  • Quitting smoking is difficult to accomplish; tobacco contains nicotine, which is addictive. Some smokers can quit “cold turkey,” but for most, quitting smoking requires a serious life-long commitment and an average of six quitting attempts before success.
  • Quitting smoking efforts may include behavior modification, counseling, use of nicotine chewing gum (Nicorette Gum), nicotine skin patches (Transderm Nicotine), or oral medications such as bupropion (Zyban).

 

Avoid excessive alcohol consumption

Adverse consequences of excessive alcohol consumption:

 

  • Chronic, excess alcohol consumption is the major cause of liver cirrhosis in the U.S.
  • Liver cirrhosis can cause internal haemorrhage, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, easy bleeding and bruising, muscle wasting, mental confusion, infections, and in advanced cases, coma, and kidney failure.
  • Liver cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer.
  • Alcohol accounts for 40%-50% of deaths from automobile accidents in the U.S.
  • Alcohol use is a significant cause of injury and death from home accidents, drowning, and burns.

Comments and recommendations (tips):

There are many treatments for alcoholism. But the crucial first step to recovery is for the individual to admit there is a problem and make a commitment to address the alcoholism issue. The 12-step-style self-help programs, pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, can be one effective treatment. Psychologists and related professionals have developed programs to help individual’s better handle emotional stresses and avoid behaviours that can lead to excess drinking. Support and understanding from family members are often critical for sustained recovery. Medication can be useful for the prevention of relapses and for withdrawal symptoms following acute or prolonged intoxication.

 

Avoid high-risk sexual behaviours

High-risk sexual behaviour can lead to the acquisition of sexually transmitted illnesses such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, or HIV infection. High-risk sexual behaviour is also known to spread human papillomavirus infection, which can lead to cervical cancer in women and other ano-genital cancers in both men and women.

High-risk sexual behaviours include the following:

  • Multiple sex partners
  • Sex partners with a history of the following:
    • Intravenous drug use
    • Venereal disease (sexually transmitted diseases or STDs)

Adverse consequences of high-risk sexual behaviour:

  • Transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes)
  • Transmission of hepatitis B (50% of hepatitis B infections are due to sexual transmission) and, in rare instances, hepatitis C
  • Transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause genital warts and ano-genital carcinomas, most commonly cancer of the uterine cervix
  • Unplanned pregnancy

 

Recommendations (tips):

  • Avoid unprotected sex (sex without barriers such as a condom) outside an established, committed, monogamous relationship.
  • If you plan to have sex and are unsure of your partner’s health status, use a condom.

Avoid other high-risk behaviors

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while sleep-deprived
  • Reckless driving and speeding, “road rage”
  • Driving while using cell phones, texting, or performing other tasks
  • Motorcycle (and bicycle) riding without helmets
  • Possession of firearms and guns without proper training and storage
  • Smoking in bed

Adverse consequences of high-risk behaviours:

  • Motor vehicle accidents account for 40%-50% of accidental deaths.
  • Motorcycle accidents are a major cause of serious head injuries.
  • Firearms and guns account for a significant proportion of deaths among adolescents due to male suicide and homicide.
  • Smoking in bed can lead to burn injury and death.

 

Recommendations (tips):

  • When driving, use seat restraints on all passengers, both front and rear seats.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Do not drive if sleep deprived.
  • Avoid unnecessary distractions and focus on the road and traffic while driving (avoid texting, talking on cell phones, eating, applying makeup, or other distractions).
  • Use helmets while riding bicycles and motorcycles. Helmet use reduces deaths from motorcycle accidents by 30% and serious head injuries by 75%.
  • Obtain proper training in the use and storage of guns and ammunition.
  • Use smoke detectors; avoid smoking in bed.

 

Adverse consequences of excess sun exposure:

  • Melanoma and other skin cancers

Recommendation (tips):

  • Avoid sunburns and sun exposure by using adequate skin protection; use brimmed hats, protective clothing, and sunscreen.
  • Sunscreens have undergone changes, and the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published new requirements that sunscreens needed to meet starting in 2012. Currently, the FDA suggests an effective sunscreen is rated as SPF 30 or higher and has both UVA and UVB protection (protection against ultraviolet waves of types A and B). In most instances, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours and each time after a person has gone swimming.

 

Additional tips for healthy living

Although there are many other risky behaviours that may impede an otherwise healthy lifestyle (for example, working with toxic or radioactive materials, drug addiction, travel to areas with unusual endemic diseases), these are too numerous to cover in this general article. However, the reader is advised to visit such topic sites on MedicineNet.com, eMedicineHealth.com or WebMD.com because most of the specific articles will provide tips to avoid health-related problems.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery

REFERENCES: