Shari Duncan

Tag: Weight Loss

The Competition Diet… A Little Art, A Little Science = A Lot of Lean.
Shari

by on Dec.06, 2010, under Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding, Weight Loss

GETTING LEAN:

Getting really lean is an art form…and a science. It is NOT about starving yourself. In fact starving yourself would be the worst thing you could do.

The months before entering a physique competition are extremely difficult and require plenty of discipline and perseverance.  Eating the correct foods in the proper proportions and at the appropriate time is vital to getting your physique  primed for the stage.

The information presented here assumes the reader has a certain level of nutritional knowledge.

HOW MANY CALORIES EVERY DAY?

Sculpting the physique for competition takes weeks of disciplined dieting

Sculpting the physique for competition takes weeks of disciplined dieting

Calories: A VERY general rule of thumb is 16 x your bodyweight. So if your goal is to weigh 125 pounds that would be 2000 calories a day intake to maintain a bodyweight of 125. To lose weight eat clean and eat with a slight calorie deficit, about 200 to 300 calories below your maintenance level.  Over time you will figure out the correct balance and will make adjustments accordingly.

PROTEIN: Eating the correct amount of protein is PARAMOUNT to helping you build and maintain a muscular physique, since proteins are the building blocks of muscle in your body. You should eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight EVERY day. Protein should be consumed at every meal.

CARBS: Fifty to sixty percent of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates until about three months before your competition. At this point, carbohydrate intake begins to be cut  to 20 to 40 percent. Eating the right types of carbs will make all the difference in your physique. Whole-grain carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains and quinoa digest slowly in your body. As weeks progress and the number of allowable carbohydrate grams is reduced, you will be getting more of your carbohydrate calories from veggies and limiting fruits to 2-3servings daily.

FATS: Fat intake will be reduced when preparing for a physique competition.  Most people can consume up to 30 percent of calories from healthy fats until about the three-month mark, then as weeks progress, gradually reduce fat intake to 10 to 20 percent.

You need to keep an eating log and record your food intake so you can make accurate adjustments. If you are very active you may have to eat more. If you are naturally obese and hold onto body fat easily you may have to eat less. The only way to really know (how a certain level of food intake will affect you) is keep an eating log and discover what effect eating a certain amount of calories for a month has on you. Ask yourself: Did I get leaner? Did I lose muscle? Did I gain fat? Then make adjustments.

** Remember metabolisms vary significantly from person to person – I am able to keep my healthy fats at ~25% during the leaning phase.  I focus more on gradually cutting carbohydrate calories, and increasing cardio sessions as the weeks progress.  I am also not as “carb sensitive” as some.

This basic template for macronutrient ratio’s works for me:   Protein: 35-40%, Carbs 35-40%, Fats 25%. As I begin to cut carbohydrate calories, I may gradually increase protein, (to keep calories up) depending on the progress I am making.

 Programs like Fitday.com provide online support for macronutrient tracking

Programs like Fitday.com provide online support for macronutrient tracking

Basic rules to lose body fat:

Eat every 3 hours. Six small meals a day. Avoid foods that spike your insulin levels (like bread, sugar, and pasta) or foods high in fat (bacon, cakes, butters, fatty meats). Focus on high fiber foods (vegetables, whole wheat, fruits) and protein foods (whey protein, egg whites, fish, lean chicken, low fat cottage cheese, and meal replacements).  This increases your metabolic rate. Remember to consume 200-300 calories a day below maintenance level. Also eating every 3 hours tricks your body into thinking YOU ARE NOT DIETING (constant blood sugar level) so it does not store fat (go into famine mode).

As weeks progress, gradually decrease carbs without cutting calories. Eat more vegetables and more protein. Low carb intake lowers insulin levels, you store very little fat, and activate fat burning mechanisms in the body. Keep the calories up though. As you begin to decrease carbs,  you will also increase cardio.

When your metabolism slows (from dieting), eat more for 1 to 3 days. Usually one day will do it. Exercise more (increase intensity) as well. Get your metabolism moving again. Usually 300 to 400 calories above maintenance will do it. Carb cycling works well for me when dieting.  I incorporate 1 – 2 “re-feed” days per week; with the 2 higher carb days falling on the most strenuous training days (eg squat, leg days). Having these 2 days also helps to restore depleted energy stores (physically and mentally!)

Water and Supplements

Water is one of the most important components of a competition diet and should not be overlooked.  Aim to drink at least a gallon of water every day leading up to the competition.  Avoid alcohol consumption. Certain supplements can aide you in the preparation phase as well.  Consider taking supplements such as a multivitamin and mineral; antioxidants, including green tea; branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s); glutamine and glucosamine.

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Strengthen your Immune System the Natural Way: With Food
Shari

by on Nov.21, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

The more informed you are about what breaks down the immune system and what keeps it strong, the easier it will be to stimulate and strengthen it.

Your whole body will love you for it.

The Immune System is a barrier, your defense mechanism against infection, viruses, fungi and bacteria and all other harmful organisms that can enter our body. The breakdown of the immune system begins when toxins from the foods we eat, the environment we live in, and a poor diet causes our systems to weaken and not function properly. When the immune system starts to weaken, our bodies are subject to fatigue and illness and it is very hard to ward off infections.

There are many ways to enhance immune system dysfunction.  It will probably not surprise you to learn that eating a well balanced diet tops the list to keeping the immune system functioning properly. Specifically, a diet high in fruits and vegetables has many of the phytonutrients critical to enhance immunity as well as many of the important vitamins and minerals.

Get some color on your plate!

Incorporate colorful foods to boost your Immunity

Incorporate colorful foods to boost your Immunity

Eat variety, and make sure when you are shopping, you get all kinds of fresh and exciting foods to cook with. A steady and balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals helps to keep our immune systems working properly by providing us protection from infections and disease. Fish, poultry, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, cereals and legumes (peas, lentils, and beans) are all good sources of minerals. Foods such as cheese, eggs or liver, which supply vitamin A, and spinach, sweet potatoes or carrots, which are good sources of beta carotene, should also be eaten daily. Intact whole grains, not the flour products made from them are what really strengthen the digestive system. Fiber (as found in whole grains) helps cleanse the colon of toxins and helps prevent intestinal infections.

Additionally, generous amounts of high quality protein are important for maintaining rapid production of cells to support the immune system, preventing loss of lean muscle mass and boosting energy.

Water:

This is essential for regulating all of the body’s systems. It eases the job of the kidneys and liver to process and eliminate toxins from the blood. It helps keep mucous membranes moist enough to combat the viruses they encounter. And it is a little known tool for reducing sugar cravings. Try a big glass of water the next time you are craving sugar, then wait a few minutes and see if the need for the sugar is really still there.  Non-caffeinated hot teas with lemons (herbal, green, white, and ginger) are also great immune boosters that facilitate the reduction of inflammation and swelling within the body

The vitamins known as the antioxidants are C and E.  These particular vitamins stimulate immunity and protect the body against cancer by neutralizing the free radicals. It is no coincidence that just as the flu/cold season starts all the amazing citrus fruits come into season as they are packed with Vitamin C and will help keep your immune system in top shape.  Also Vitamin A strengthens the immune cells.  It plays an important role in supporting the cells of the skin, gastrointestinal tract and lungs – plus vitamin A promotes the formation of the protective mucous in your gastrointestinal tract.

Four Habits that weaken the immune system:

1)        Overdosing on sugar – There is strong evidence that sugar has a negative effect on the function of the immune system. Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system

2)         Excessive Alcohol – Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of

maintain a healthy weight for a healthy immune system

maintain a healthy weight for a healthy immune system

valuable immune- boosting nutrients. Second, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.  One drink (the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of hard liquor) does not appear to bother the immune system, but three or more drinks do.

3)        Food Allergens – Many people are sensitive to certain foods, which can result in symptoms including intestinal distress, fatigue, and even weight gain. Common foods that create such problems are dairy, eggs, gluten (the protein in wheat), soy, corn, and food additives.

4)        Too Much Fat –Obesity can lead to a depressed immune system. It affects the ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies and rush to the site of an infection. Consuming too much food at one setting also puts extra stress on the digestive system. Increased digestion takes a lot of the body’s metabolic energy, leaving very little energy for the immune system.

A healthy diet is the foundation of long term health maintenance and a strong immune system. An optimal diet will reduce the risk of disease and strengthen the body’s defenses and natural healing power. It will help you to reduce the other daily stresses to your system, and even positively affect your moods and sense of wellbeing.

When you begin to eliminate or reduce the most harmful foods, and at the same time, add more of the beneficial ones notice how this begins to affect your digestion, your energy level, even your moods. As you start to feel better, you will be more motivated to keep making changes. As you integrate more healthful foods into your diet, you will discover the natural tastes and sweetness in simple foods.

So, what will you try today?

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Pan Sautéed Cabbage with Onions
Shari

by on Oct.03, 2010, under Fruits and Veggies, General Nutrition, Recipes, Weight Loss

Traditional methods of steaming or boiling make cabbage watery. To retain the maximum number of nutrients and more robust flavor, saute cabbage.

A healthy Sauté method, is very similar to steaming and enhances the flavor the of cabbage Slice cabbage into 1/4 -inch slices and let sit for 5 minutes to boost its health-promoting benefits before cooking.

  • 1 medium head of green cabbage
    Simple Ingredients.. Sauteed Cabbage compliments any meal.

    Choose Cabbage Heads with compact leaves that are heavy for their size.

    3/4 of one medium yellow onion, finely chopped (or one smaller onion)
    1 large clove of garlic, minced
    2 Tbs. olive oil
    coarse sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper
    1 ½ Tbs. balsamic vinegar (or apple cider, or pepper vinegar)

Cut the head of cabbage in half, and then slice the cabbage into strips about 1/4 to 3/8 inches wide. Finely chop onion and mince garlic.

Heat a wide-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high to high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Add onions and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until they just begin to soften and become translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute.

Add the first third of the cabbage to the pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Let the cabbage cook– without stirring– until the bottom is browned and slightly crispy without being burned. –  This is no small task to keep the heat high enough to brown the bottom but not so high as to burn it.

When the first layer is browned on the bottom, use a wide spatula to flip it, making sure to scrape up all the bits of browned, crispy goodness on the bottom of the pan. After flipping it, add the next layer of cabbage, and repeat the process.*

When all of the cabbage has been cooked through and browned well, drizzle about 1 ½ to 2 Tbs. balsamic  (or other) vinegar over the top and stir well for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and serve immediately or cover and store in a slightly warmed   oven. This can also be made ahead and reheated.

Balsamic vinegar lends a rich caramel color and a slightly tangy, lively flavor .

Sauté in olive oil as a much healthier and flavorful alternative to butter or margarine.

Simple Ingredients that provide Cancer fighting protection.
Simple Ingredients that provide Cancer fighting protection.

* After adding the second layer, it becomes too difficult to “flip” the whole thing, so simply stir it with the spatula, turning portions as they brown.

Cabbage Health Benefits

The nutritional value and health benefits of cabbage make it ideal for:

  • Maintaining optimum health
  • Weight loss

Cancer prevention tops all other areas of health research with regard to cabbage and its outstanding benefits. More than 475 studies have examined the role of this cruciferous vegetable in cancer prevention (and in some cases, cancer treatment). The uniqueness of cabbage in cancer prevention is due to the three different types of nutrient richness found in this widely enjoyed food. The three types are (1) antioxidant richness, (2) anti-inflammatory richness, and (3) richness in glucosinolates.

  • In one recent study, short-cooked and raw cabbage were the only types of cabbage to show cancer-preventive benefits-long-cooked cabbage failed to demonstrate measurable benefits.
  • New research shows that steaming/sautéing is a better cooking method than microwaving if you want to maximize the health benefits of glucosinolates found in cabbage

Cabbage is:

  • Low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, Very Low Sodium,
  • High in Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium, Manganese, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium

How to Select

Choose green cabbage heads with compact leaves that are heavy for their size.

How to Store

Refrigerate green cabbage for up to 7 days.

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Pass the Hummus. Hold the Mayo , Please.
Shari

by on Aug.13, 2010, under General Nutrition

Fries dipped in ketchup … potato salad drenched in mayonnaise … and ribs smothered with barbecue sauce … You love it;  your waistline, not so much.

Maybe it’s time to downsize.

Dressings, dips, and sauces can be a big downfall when we are trying to cut back and eat a little cleaner. Ketchup, & steak and barbeque sauces are loaded with sugar.  Mayonnaise, sour cream  and salad dressings can be high in saturated fats. It’s  time to open your mind (and taste buds!) to these heart healthy alternatives.   These dips and spreads also add inventive flavors to everyday sandwiches, wraps and burgers.

Here are a few to try:

SALSA:

- The Fresh Veggie alternative to Ketchup

- The Fresh Veggie alternative to Ketchup

Salsa has the few calories, but salsa preparations can vary widely. A good salsa made with tomatoes, and without too much added sugar, can be treated as a vegetable: it has no fat, lotsof fiber, and many other nutrients.

  • Replace salsa for higher fat/carb salad dressings for a delicious taco salad.
  • Use as topping for baked potatoes
  • In place of mayo, ketchup on burgers and wraps.  (Turkey,chicken, beef or fish)
  • Stir into scrambled eggs or omelets.

HUMMUS:

Incorporate hummus as part of your balanced diet. Hummus is basically pureed garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. Garbanzo beans contain many nutrients and have numerous health benefits.  They are high in protein and fiber.  An ounce of hummus has 7% of your daily fiber.  This high fiber also prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, which is especially important to diabetics.

Chickpeas themselves are relatively low in fat, but the presence of olive oil boosts the fat content in hummus. Olive oil, however, is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type that is heart healthy. Thus, not only does olive oil contribute its unique flavor to hummus, it also imparts significant health benefits relative to creamy or other high-fat alternatives.

Hummus is easy to make at home as well. If you have a food processor, throw a can of garbanzo beans in it with a little lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and you are done.  You can be

Made from heart healthy chickpeas. Available in many unique flavors

Made from heart healthy chickpeas. Available in many unique flavors

creative too.  Try adding a few roasted red peppers or jalapenos for more kick or a few canned artichokes.

At least one popular commercial brand lists a serving size as 2 tbsp. or 27 grams, an amount that contains 50 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.

AVOCADOS:

If you love fatty, creamy, hearty foods and want to avoid the cholesterol and toxicity of meat and dairy, anchor your diet with avocado.  Avocados contain 60% more potassium than bananas; they are also sodium and cholesterol-free.  An avocado has a higher fat content (5 grams per serving) than other fruit, but the fat is monounsaturated fat, which is considered healthy when consumed in moderation.

  • Avocados can replace butter by using it as a spread on bread.
  • Use as healthy dip or dressing for veggies and salads.
  • Replace sliced avocados for mayo on burgers, sandwiches and wraps.

MUSTARD:

This condiment is hard to beat because it has minimal calories and fat, but the sodium can add up quickly by the teaspoon.

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (5 calories, 0.2g fat, 120 mg sodium)
  • yellow mustard (3 calories, 0.2g fat, 57 mg sodium.)

When purchasing ketchup, mayo, salad dressings and barbecue sauces; choose lower sodium / lower fat versions and downsize the amounts added to recipes.

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“Spot Training” Will not Whittle your Middle Away
Shari

by on Jul.18, 2010, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding, Weight Loss

All of those ab crunches you’ve been doing will make your abdominal muscles stronger. But they will not whittle away belly fat.

Our hormones determine where we will store fat in our bodies.  Fat is lost in a pattern dependent upon genetics, sex and age. Overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in any particular area.

We all have our trouble spots. For women this is typically in the hips and buttocks; the tummy; and/or the upper arms. Unfortunately, the first place we store fat is also the last place it leaves when we begin to diet and exercise.

But training one particular area of your body to reduce fat (also known as spot training) does not work.  So if you have a large tummy, then simply doing ab crunches and leg raises will not result in a flat stomach. Here is why. Fat loss occurs in the body as a whole. Unfortunately, the fat in a particular area isn’t governed by the muscles in that same area. So if you want to lose belly fat for example, you have to have a fat loss strategy that burns fat throughout your body.

Lose the OVERALL body fat to reduce fat in those trouble areas

Lose OVERALL body fat and you will reduce fat in those trouble areas


You must always treat your body as a whole which means changing your diet to a whole food diet (healthy eating) and exercising your whole body.

The answer is to combine weighted compound exercises that work all of the major muscle groups (like squats, rows, and presses to name a few) with high intensity cardio.

High intensity cardio releases fat burning hormones, and revs up the metabolism in a way that slow, steady state, and long duration cardio does not. Cardio raises the heart rate and determines how many calories are burned.  Strength training also helps to raise the metabolism, as well as build strong muscles. The more muscle you have, the more calories will be burned.  This is why strength and cardio exercise should be a part of your regimen to achieve the maximum fat burning results.
And if you’re serious about reducing your overall body fat percentage; you must incorporate a healthy and well balanced diet. This is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and grains.  This does NOT mean to starve yourself. If you deprive yourself of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) you will be counterproductive in your efforts to lose weight and body fat.  Essentially, you’ll end up slowing down your metabolism and stopping your fat loss before it even starts.

So, if you are ready to lose that excess fat, you can’t spot reduce it away. Spot training does not work. Instead,  focus on fat loss in the body as a whole.  The best way to lose fat from one particular area is to lose fat overall, then concentrate on toning individual parts of your body

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Balance, Shape, or Transform your Life.
Shari

by on May.18, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Supplementation, Weight Loss

Every now and again a product line crosses my path that makes me take pause. And ALOT of products cross my path.  Visalus and Body by Vi Challenge made me stop…look…. believe.

Weight loss and nutrition programs are plentiful, over rated and most often over priced.   If you need help getting all of your nutrition needs met each and every day and are serious about achieving your health or weight loss goals at a price that is truly affordable… please read on.  And after you read this brief overview, feel free to contact me with any questions  here or at www.sharipronatural.bodybyvi.com/ .

Join the 90 day challenge and change your health...maybe your life!

Join the 90 day challenge and change your health...maybe your life!

THIS STUFF IS THAT GOOD!  ViSalus Science delivers quality nutrition AND real results!

What is Body by Vi?
ViSalus Body by Vi is an innovative solution to getting into better shape, no matter if you want to slim down, tone up or build muscle. Combining unique and life transforming products along with online and offline support tools, no other program is as comprehensive, or as easy!

No one else can offer the same comprehensive program that includes a simple nutritional program with recipes, menu plans, exercise videos and programs, and online community support. If you’d rather not get weighed in public, eat expensive foods, or watch endless exercise videos that aren’t targeted to your specific needs, then this is the program for you

The Science

ViSalus Sciences is committed to offering the highest quality health and wellness products, delivered with the assurance to uphold maximum safety and quality standards. We believe that science and research are the foundation on which we can satisfy our consumers’ needs for better nutrition. Our Scientific Advisory Board is dedicated to creating innovative, science-based nutraceuticals, backed by rigorous research to ensure you get the greatest nutritional health and wellness benefits for your everyday lifestyle.

Body By Vi.   Quality Nutrition Supplements... to your door.

Body By Vi. Quality Nutrition Supplements... to your door.

ViSalus Sciences® Body by Vi™ – 90 Day Challenge

The Body by Vi™ Challenge is not another fad diet. The program is based on nutrition that helps you burn fat and keep lean muscle, boosts your metabolism and helps control hunger.  The patented ingredients and formulas help you achieve your goals, on your terms with guaranteed results. Included in our program are nutrition guides, fitness tips and plans, and downloadable tracking tools.

The ViSalus Sciences Body by Vi Challenge is geared to help you reach your goals, no matter what they are. From simply losing a few pounds, to getting fit and toned, we have the tools, the products, and the community of supportive people to celebrate your success. The Body by Vi program is easy, fun, and guarantees results.

The program is based on nutrition that helps you burn fat and keep lean muscle, boosts your metabolism and helps control hunger. The patented ingredients and formulas help you achieve your goals, on your terms with guaranteed results. Included in our program are nutrition guides, fitness tips and plans, and downloadable tracking tools.

ViSalus offers a line of innovative wellness products developed by a world class Scientific Advisory Board and backed by some of the most advanced scientific technology available.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Submit your questions or place orders directly at:

http://www.sharipronatural.bodybyvi.com/


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Hit a Plateau? Repair a Stalled Metabolism with Diet
Shari

by on Apr.25, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

Knowing your body’s daily caloric needs is an important step in adopting a realistic diet and exercise plan that will help you reach and maintain your desired healthy weight.

To determine your energy needs specific to your age, weight and activity level, click on the attached link to calculate your daily calories.  This is a basic guideline…   Remember, no two individuals’ body composition are identical and activity levels vary for each person.   But this number will provide an important starting point.

http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/caloriesneed.htm

You now have a baseline number of calories to maintain your current weight.  Next, determine how many calories you are taking in. This must be done before you modify or make adjustments towards your desired weight goal.   Keeping a food journal or logging on to a web based calorie tracker such as www.fitday.com can assist in this task.  I suggest you

You have to know where you are before you make a plan for success

STOP GUESSING! You have to know where you are before you make a plan.

track your calories for at least one week.  Write everything down, including sodas and alcohol.  Many people are surprised when they compare the numbers.  They are surprised to find they are not taking in enough nutrition for their body.  As a result, their metabolism has slowed and the weight loss has stopped.  If you find that your total caloric intake is too low for your current weight, you must gradually up your intake some before you begin to cut again.  This alone will jumpstart your metabolism.

This might sound scary, but you will have to eat more, to burn more….

And you will need to exercise (especially weight bearing  to increase lean muscle).  By restricting calories too much, the body responds by holding on… or going into “starvation mode” and will lock up from fat burning mode.  It will store as much adipose (fat) tissue as possible .

It is not just enough to eat the proper foods, but nutrient timing is key to revving a stalled metabolism. To keep “the furnace” burning, it is optimal to eat small frequent meals (every three hours).  By “fueling” up frequently with “Clean” and nutritious foods, you will prime your body to build lean muscle and in the process lose the unwanted fat. You also will not feel deprived because you will have something in your stomach all day long, which in turn will make it less likely for you to binge on unhealthy snacks.

Be sure that every meal contains quality protein, as proteins are more satiating than other foods and by increasing protein, you will decease you daily consumption of carbohydrates and fats, which are more readily converted to fat.   Research shows that escalating protein levels in your diet results in weight loss.

So what percentage of total calories should be protein?

I hesitate here, again because we are all different.  0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight is often recommended. For a 150lb person this equates to 120 grams of protein every day.  Others prefer a macronutrient breakdown based on total caloric intake instead of body weight:  -40% protein-40% carbohydrate & 20% fat or  a 40-30-30 distribution of total calories for example.  For the same 150lb person eating 1600 calories, this equates to 160 grams of protein a day.    You get the picture.  This is something you will have to experiment with to assess your response and make adjustments.

Macronutrient Tracking.

Macronutrient Tracking

Once your metabolism is moving again & if your goal is weight loss, you will need to GRADUALLY and safely create a caloric deficit. This is done by a combination of eating fewer calories and increasing activity levels.  Again, accountability comes into play.  You need to track your progress.  Stop guessing and measure everything that you want to improve.

  • Keep a nutrition AND training journal
  • Weigh and measure food and track your progress – weekly weights and body fat composition
  • Take photographs

Finally, revisit and re-establish your calorie deficit.  What worked for you before is no longer working, so it is time for a new strategy.  Calorie needs and metabolism changes with weight loss.  The trick to avoid plateaus is to adjust your food intake (calories in) and your exercise/activity (calories out)
each week to reconcile the difference between hypothetical (on paper) calorie needs and
actual (real world) calorie needs.

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from Green Tea to Ephedra… Fat Burners are NOT all Created Equally.
Shari

by on Apr.09, 2010, under Natural Bodybuilding, Supplementation, Weight Loss

Supplementation with fat burners can help you achieve your desired results- BUT only with a disciplined diet and regular exercise program.

I am often asked to recommend a fat burner by those struggling to get lean quick, and I often hesitate before doing so.  Fat burners and thermogenic supplements can assist with desired fat loss but remember, they are called SUPPLEMENTS for good reason.  There are no magic pills and there is much debate on their effectiveness.  There are many natural products

Green Tea~ a natural choice

Green Tea~ a natural choice

available such as green tea and guarana that contain fat burning and thermogenic properties, as well as chemically enhanced weight loss pills that may work more quickly but may also produce undesired side effects and/or become addictive.   Most natural fat burners can be found in health food stores.

A good fat burner contains certain herbs and chemicals that will do three things:

  • Burn stored fats resulting in increased energy
  • Stimulate the metabolism to “burn” stored fat
  • Suppress the appetite

With the correct lifestyle, fat burners can provide significant benefits. But they also can be misused. If you choose to supplement with a fat burner, avoid these common mistakes:

1)      DO NOT exceed recommended servings.  In fact, I recommend that first time users take less than the recommended daily serving initially to assess tolerance.  Most fat burners contain caffeine and/or other stimulants that may produce undesired feelings of nervousness, or jitters.

2)      Fat burning supplements are intended to be taken short term to stimulate the metabolism.  Even if the product you choose consists of all natural ingredients, you will develop a tolerance to it over time. Once your body gradually becomes accustomed to these stimulants, it will cease to respond.    Remember, that they were designed to assist you in reaching a short term goal and not to be incorporated as part of your daily diet long term.

3)      No two products are exactly the same.  No two metabolisms are the same either.  Basically, this means that what may work wonders for your best friend, may not be the best choice for you and your body. If you decide to incorporate an fat burner/thermogenic, you should approach it with an open mind and find the product that works best for you.

Fat burning supplements may very well be a worthwhile investment if you research and choose your products carefully and only use in conjunction with a healthy program of diet AND exercise to maximize the results.

The best weight loss supplement for you will be dependent on your individual goals and the path you wish to take in order to achieve those desired results.

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The SKINNY on F A T S
Shari

by on Mar.30, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Supplementation, Weight Loss

You got to EAT FAT to LOSE FAT!

Dietary fats supply the body with the most stable sources of energy fuel and since they contain more calories per gram than protein & carbs they burn more slowly making you feel fuller longer.  When you cut out fat, you replace the calories with faster burning carbohydrates which not only make you feel hungrier sooner, the “wrong” carbs  will play havoc with your glucose (blood sugar) levels.

Fat cells are necessary for hormone regulation, storing energy, and providing cushioning for our internal organs. The problem is not in the presence of fat but the amount. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults get 20%-35% of their calories from fats. At a minimum, we need at least 10% of our calories to come from fat. The key is to understand which fats are healthy and which are not so you can begin losing weight safely and successfully.

Healthy Fats in Foods:

The healthy fats are the mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated. The fats to avoid are trans fats and saturated fats as they put your body at risk for many diseases. To help you distinguish the “good” from the “bad, remember that saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

Fats to eat each and everyday...

Fats to eat each and everyday...

  • Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, peanuts, natural peanut butter, olives and olive oil (extra virgin).

  • Polyunsaturated fats are found in fish, walnuts, pecans, almonds, soybean oil, sunflower oil etc

Omega-3 Fats:  the body does not manufacture Omega 3 fats, which means we must consume them either in the foods we eat or with supplementation.  Omega 3’s burn fat by helping the body respond to a hormone called Leptin which tells the brain to suppress the appetite, increases thyroid output – which in turn increases metabolism   Food sources for Omega-3 are: Salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, flaxseed, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.

Omega 3’s are also known to boost brainpower, ward off depression and decrease inflammation.

Other Good Omega-3 sources

  • ground flaxseed
  • oils (like flaxseed oil, linseed oil, canola oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil and soybean oil)
  • green leafy vegetables (like lettuce, broccoli, kale, spinach and purslane)
  • legumes (like mungo, kidney, navy, pinto, lima beans, peas and split peas)
  • citrus fruits, melons, cherries

Omega 6 oils are common in the diet and are not usually necessary to supplement. Raw almonds or sunflower seeds are a good source and a few can be eaten daily to ensure their supply.

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – Helps to burn fat and gain lean muscle at the same time. It is also found to boost

CLA - Supplement with this fat to help burn fat

CLA - Supplement with this fat to help burn fat

immunity and halt cancer growth. CLA also promotes cardiovascular health by preventing the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries and around the heart.

CLA is found only in various meats & milk products – But remember CLA is a fat  & will not be found in skim milk or non-fat yogurts (where fat has been removed).  Consider also that the fat burning benefits of CLA  may be offset by the higher amounts of bad fats in many cuts of meat. So if you are staying away from full-fat dairy products and fatty cuts of beef, you might consider taking a CLA supplement.

Studies have shown that CLA helps people to lose weight because it’s a good fat. Consuming it accelerates the body’s metabolic rate while slowing the body’s conversion of dietary fats into body fat.   .

The recommended daily dose of CLA is 3-7 grams. If you supplement with CLA, be sure it contains 80% CLA to receive the optimum fat burning results.

_  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee strongly advises that healthy Americans limit their intake of trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories.

­­- – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – – –  – – – – – – –  – – –

Based on current data, the American Heart Association recommends that consumers follow these tips:

  • Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, high-fiber foods, and fat-free and low-fat dairy most often.
  • Keep total fat intake between 25 and 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils most often.
  • Use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often.
  • Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fat.
  • Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter, and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder stick forms. Look for ”0 g trans fat” on the Nutrition Facts label.
  • French fries, doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods that are high in trans fat. AVOID THEM!!
  • Limit the saturated fat in your diet. If you don’t eat a lot of saturated fat, you won’t be consuming a lot of trans fat.
  • Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Not only are these foods very high in fat, but also that fat is likely to be very hydrogenated, meaning a lot of trans fat.
  • Limited fried fast food. Commercial shortening and deep-frying fats will continue to be made by hydrogenation and will contain saturated fat and trans fat.

Something to take away from this blog:

When the body gets enough  –  (and healthy sources) of fat through diet, it will not feel the need to hoard fats by enlarging adipose tissue….hmm.   Food for thought.

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CHOOSING and STICKING to a Healthy Eating Plan
Shari

by on Feb.17, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

Are you controlling your diet or is your diet taking control of you?

To be successful in anything, including eating to lose weight, the process need not be too extreme or complicated. You will never stick with a diet plan that is not reasonable for you or your lifestyle. Strict diets and resolutions may seem good in theory, but they have a huge flaw built into them. More often, these fad diets will only set you up for failure. If your diet seems like some form of torture and the foods you eat give you no pleasure, you will not be successful.  Rather than trying to follow the exact rules of a particular diet, use sensible guidelines to point you in the right direction.

Add variety and Color to you menu

Add lots of variety and Color to you menu

HAVE LOTS OF FOOD CHOICES:

  • Don’t limit yourself to 5 or 6 foods.  This makes absolutely no sense.  Eat from all food groups. There are unlimited nutritious foods available to you and variety will keep you from straying.  “Grapefruit” or “cabbage soup” diets may take weight off temporarily but they will not work for the long term.
  • Shop around the edge of the grocery store. These tend to be the fresher, less processed items. You’ll have better nutritional options in those areas. Fresh produce, whole grains, dairy, meats, fish and poultry are found around the perimeter of the store. Sticking to the basics also keeps it simple.  Preparing and eating healthy need not be complicated.
  • Choose whole grains whenever possible.  Bright colors over white.  Wheat for white breads and pastas.  Brown for white rice. Sweet potatos instead of white,  etc.  Make a habit of preparing extra portions so leftovers can be placed in reusable containers for the next days meals.
  • Bake, broil, grill, sauté but do not deep fry.  It is more about HOW you prepare the food.  Use healthy oils like olive oil or non-stick sprays and experiment freely with herbs and spices for different flavors.  Stay away from butter, cream sauces, and added sugars.
  • Do not forget about the value of water.  Staying well hydrated is not only vital to good health but drinking at least 8–10 glasses of water daily will also help you feel full.  Add fresh lemon or lime.

Take Part in Regular Snacking

Eating more frequently with sensible portions will keep you from getting too hungry between meals and will keep your mind off of food.   There is a common misconception that snacking is wrong and that it is what puts most people’s weight on. However, the truth is that snacking actually benefits the body by accelerating the metabolism; it is what you are snacking on that matters!

Snacking stops the body from becoming hungry. It is unhealthy to leave the body without food for a long period of time and so snacking helps to bridge the gap before meal times. Just ensure that you are snacking on the right foods and you should be ok.

Some good snack choices include: low fat air popped popcorn, fresh fruit and veggies,  cottage cheese, greek or low sugar yogurt, cereal bars, protein bars or  nutrition shakes and smoothies, rice cakes with peanut butter, whole grain crackers with hummus, boiled eggs, turkey roll-ups,  low fat cheese, nuts or seeds.

Have a realistic approach. Healthy weight loss is about 2 lbs a week.   If you’re losing only 1 or 2 pounds a week, you shouldn’t experience tremendous hunger. Not if you plan your meals and snacks correctly.

Go ahead, dine out.

Dining out is easy when you know how and what to order

Dining out is easy when you know how and what to order

Eating out is fine if you know how to order. You do not need to socially isolate yourself or avoid going out with family or friends…

Don’t be timid to ask your server to prepare the food a certain way.  Here are a couple of things to remember:

. avoid fried entries and those made with cream sauces. Baked or grilled poultry or fish are best options.
. ask for steamed veggies or fresh fruit as sides.
. salads – ALWAYS order dressing on the side (vinagrette much better than ranch)
. if you order an appetizer,  order a broth based soup and skip the rolls!
. Drink Water with lemon or lime.

When you know you will be going out to eat, DO NOT starve yourself all day. BAD IDEA! Continue to eat your smaller size meals through the day so you will not be FAMISHED by the time you get to the restaurant. When you get too hungry, you tend to not only overeat but also make bad choices.

Participate in some form of exercise program.

Just like your meal plan, exercise should not be another form of torture.  Find an activity you enjoy or find a partner to work out with you to make it more fun.  If you are not self motivated or uncertain about what to do once you get to the gym, join in a group fitness class.  Match the activity to your interest and you will be more likely to stick with it.  Group classes also add the element of accountability.  Think of it as a weekly appointment that you cannot miss.  Open your mind up to try something new; you may surprise yourself at what you can do.

REMEMBER THIS, one of the many benefits of working out is that it builds lean muscle.  And the more muscle you build, the more you continue to burn the fat!

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