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7 weight-loss tips that work

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There seems to be a new message from the weight-loss industry every day. People are confused. Should you cleanse, go gluten-free or drop all grains to get the needle on the scale to go down?

After more than 12 years in the field as a nutritionist, I’ve found there are key steps that can help you achieve your goal weight quickly and healthily. Whether it’s five or 50 pounds, here are some tips to consider.

1. Water is a game changer. If you feel you’ve tried every weight-loss program and are still not losing weight, examine your water intake. Ideally, you should be drinking two litres of water each and every day. (Herbal tea counts; coffee does not.) It’s extremely hard to lose weight efficiently if your body is dehydrated.

2. Diet drinks are not so diet. I cannot tell you how many times I meet with a client who has 10 to 15 pounds to lose and is drinking two to three diet sodas per day. Research shows artificial sweeteners can promote fat storage and increase your body mass index. While some people drink diet sodas to curb a sweet tooth, it’s not a habit that will produce positive effects. Instead of drinking diet drinks, substitute water with lemon, sparkling water and sweet herbal teas, such as berry and cinnamon tea.

3. Supper is supplementary. Most people start their day off well, only to finish it not as well. In order to “hit it out of the park” with your weight-loss results, make supper your lightest meal of the day. As the saying goes, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

Of course, there will be times where you go out for dinner or enjoy a larger meal in the evening. However, keeping your evening meal on the lighter side for five days out of the week will ensure the pounds on the scale drop. Enjoy a dinner of protein and vegetables drizzled with some healthy fat.

4. One cheat does not blow the entire deal. Many feel if they cheat on their diet, they’ve blown the entire thing and may as well throw in the towel and binge. This is the opposite of what you should do! If you do have a cheat meal or drink, simply compensate by doing an extra workout, eating light the next day, dropping your grain or increasing your water intake.

5. Food and emotions go hand in hand. How you eat is a reflection of how you feel. If you’re using food to numb an emotion, soothe or self-sabotage, it’s time to make peace with it. Keeping a food journal to track your food intake and emotions will help you to discover the “why” behind what you’re eating. Until you get your behavior under control, plan out all your meals. Similar to the way you would lay your clothes out the day before, plan the food you’ll be eating and stick to it!

6. Nutrient-dense, lighter-calorie food goes a long way. When you’re hungry or on the verge of a food binge, opt for calorie-light, nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables or pureed vegetable soups. Red pepper slices, baby carrots, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes can help fill you up.

7. Follow the five-year rule. Before you join a weight-loss program, ask yourself the very important question, “Can I see myself following a version of this program for five years?” If the answer is no, don’t do it! The one thing the body hates more than being overweight is gaining and losing weight routinely. Chronic yo-yo dieting is a one-way ticket to excess weight and a sluggish metabolism. When picking your weight-loss program, make sure it’s one that can be followed long-term. If the diet is overly restrictive and impossible to follow for a long time, chances are you’ll lose the weight, only to gain it back.

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Top 10 Foods To Gain Muscle Mass

1. Lean Beef

This should be a staple of your diet if you want to gain muscle mass. Lean beef is loaded with all sorts of things conducive to muscle growth, including iron, zinc and B-vitamins. More importantly, it provides your body with high quality protein (not all proteins are equal), and a high level of amino acid that works with insulin to promote muscle growth. For those who are trying to lose weight, this should come as great news – a 3oz serving of lean beef provides roughly the same amount of protein as 1.5 cups of beans, but at half the calories.

2. Skinless Chicken

Like beef, chicken is an excellent source of high quality protein, which is important for muscle maintenance and repair, bone health, and weight maintenance. And of course, there are so many ways you can cook and prepare chicken. Go down to the store and you can easily find chicken meat cut into single serving sizes that can be seasoned and quickly cooked.

 

3. Cottage Cheese

Not many people know this, but cottage cheese is almost entirely pure casein protein. Casein is a slow-digesting protein, which means it is perfect for muscle maintenance. This is useful especially for people who have no choice but to go long periods without eating. Cottage cheese is also an excellent source of vitamin B12, calcium, and other important nutrients.

 

4. Eggs

Eggs contain high quality protein, nine essential amino acids, choline, the right kind of fat, and vitamin D. They provide the most value for your money. And eggs are not harmful for your health, as numerous studies have already shown.

 

5. Whey Protein

There is a reason why whey protein supplements are the most popular supplement in the fitness industry: they provide a fast and convenient source of protein at an affordable price. Bodybuilders normally use them when they wake up, right after their workout, and mixed with some of their meals. For the rest of us, a scoop in our shakers right after our workouts  can be very effective for muscle mass gains. It’s important that you still get high quality protein from whole foods, and use whey protein as a boost.

 

6. Tuna and Other Fish

Fish are high in protein, low in fat, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s are essential because they aid in fat loss  and ensure the proper function of your body processes , such as your metabolism.

 

7. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an great source of carbohydrates due to both its low glycemic index (GI) value  and the fact it is minimally processed. The benefits of a low-GI diet include:

 

  • Better micronutrient profile and more fiber
  • Increased satiety
  • Decreased hunger
  • Lower subsequent energy intake (second meal effect)
  • Fat loss

 

In short, low-GI foods can enhance fat loss for those looking to lose weight, and provide a constant source of carbs for muscle preservation.

8. Whole Grains

Whole grains digest more efficiently and provide more nutrients than refined grains. This promotes sustained energy levels and overall health. In particular, brown rice can help boost your growth hormone levels, which are critical for encouraging lean muscle growth, fat loss, and strength gains.

 

9. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants, which are essential for the healthy functioning of your immune system. They also provide tons of other nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Finally, your body requires the fiber these fruits and vegetables provide to aid in proper digestion and nutrient uptake.

 

10. Healthy Fats

I know the thought of consuming fat makes some of you shudder, but good fats are essential for muscle growth. In fact, they play an essential role in hormone production (testosterone and growth hormones), which helps drive muscle growth and strength gains. In addition, fats are needed for many important maintenance functions. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the good fats. You can find them in salmon, other fishes, nuts, leafy veggies, oils such as flaxseed, avocados, and seeds. They are also all rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The 6 Rules of Gaining Muscle Mass

The 6 Rules of Gaining Muscle Mass

Here’s the frustrating truth: Most guys spend their entire life going to gyms, performing endless reps and sets, and never gaining more than a few pounds of muscle. You sacrifice sweat, invest in hustle and for what? Yeah, good health — that’s great. But if you’re like me, you also want results you can see.

Eventually many guys end up wondering, “Is my body just not designed to add size?

I tried my own personal experiment to build as much mass as possible in one month. The result: I gained 20 pounds in 28 days.

I learned what it takes to add size — no drugs, no cheating, no gimmicks.

I did this to help all the average guys out there, guys just like me. The ones that are tired of being frustrated, misled and unable to make any changes that they can see. And as a former skinny guy, it was further proof that anyone — with enough patience and effort — can change their body.

If you want to add some mass to your body, or just make sure that you’re not wasting your time with your training and diet plan, here are six lessons that will help you avoid your common frustrations.

RULE #1: Eat More Calories Than You Burn

This might seem obvious, but when you’re trying to add mass, you need to eat more. If there’s a consistent theme in the struggle to gain weight, most people just don’t eat enough. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule on how much you need to eat. But most people eat for the body they currently have. When they eat “a lot,” that’s just compared to their current weight. If you want to gain more size, you have to be thinking about what it would take to fuel the body you desire.

So eating “a lot” for your size will undoubtedly leave you at your size. You need to push the limits and find ways to take in more calories. Remember, you’re trying to change the way you look and push past a weight that is easy for you body to maintain. What’s more, you’re trying to add muscle that might be stubbornly resisting all your efforts.

The best approach is finding an eating strategy that makes it easier to take in more calories. This might mean eating more meals. It might mean eating less often but taking in significantly larger meals. That’s what I did. I only ate 3 times per day, but I ate a lot at each meal.

Sometimes you might need some simple tricks to add calories. This could be adding 1-2 tablespoons of oils (like Udo’s oil) to meals, or adding a few extra tablespoons of nut butter after you’re already full. But if you’re trying to gain weight and your not seeing any changes, start eating more. It’s a simple idea, but one that can be difficult to achieve because it’s an uncomfortable process. Hang with it, and your body will eventually adjust — both with the “ease” of eating more and the changes you’ll see.

 

RULE #2: Double or Triple Your Protein Intake

If there’s a type of food you want to eat more of, your top choice should be protein. Most guys don’t eat enough protein. That’s because there’s a variety of myths out there that will have you believe that you can only digest 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving. Or that you need to eat lots of small doses of protein 5 to 6 times per day. The result is that you feel like you’re getting enough protein, but you’re actually falling short of your goals.

If you want to boost how much protein you’re eating, understand that you can take in more than 20 to 30 grams per serving. And then focus on eating two to three times more protein, in general. If you’re already taking in about a gram per pound of your body weight, you don’t need to triple that amount. But just like calories, you want to eat for the body you’re trying to build. So add more protein as part of your effort.

RULE #3: Eat Mostly Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods

One of the biggest mistakes when trying to gain weight is eating the wrong types of food. Gaining weight can be hard for some people. (And yes, people that struggle to lose weight do not want to hear about your “difficulties” stuffing your face, but both can be equally challenging.) When you hit that wall, your first instinct might be to eat the most calorically dense foods possible. Scarfing down pizza and donuts might help you gain weight — but not the type you want.

Remember the goal is mass, but more muscle and less fat is what you want. So you’ll want to eat foods that are dense in calories — think steak and potatoes — as well as foods that have nutritional value and will help with digestion, like greens and sauerkraut.

While you will have more room to take in extra calories, if those calories are all from the bad sources you will grow — in all the wrong ways.

RULE #4: Do Compound Exercises in The Gym

A quick look at my workout  should reveal something very important: the workouts were not overly complicated. I hit the exercises that worked the greatest number of muscles. Moves like squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press and rows. Add in some “isolation” exercises to train your vanity muscles, and you have the perfect plan.

Don’t over-complicate your training with endless exercise changes. The fastest way to gain size is to become better at a few exercise and lift more weight. Your body will grow. Trust me. Which brings up another important rule.

RULE #5: Lift Heavier Weights

There is a place for higher reps in any program. In fact, I incorporated some on my “conditioning” days. But training heavy plays an important role in your ability to grow. That’s because focusing on heavier weight increases your strength. And as you increase your strength, you can use more weight for more reps. And as your total work capacity increases (amount of weight you use multiplied by the number of reps you perform), you are able to add more mass.

You’ll want to be smart about your approach. The downside of heavier lifting is that it can put you at a greater likelihood of injury. So doing a proper and thorough warmup, as well as several work-up sets, will ensure that you body–and your muscles, tendons, and ligaments–are prepared to add more weight, become stronger, and stay injury free.

RULE #6: Get 7+ Hours of Sleep Every Night

Two simple reasons why you want to make sure to prioritize sleep:

  • Sleeping enough helps your body build muscle
    – Not sleeping enough makes it harder to build muscle

When you get enough sleep, your levels of growth hormone increase. This is a natural hormone that plays an important role in muscle growth and recovery. When you don’t sleep enough, another hormone–cortisol–is increased. This stress hormone makes it harder for you to gain muscle. In fact, research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who don’t sleep enough not only lose weight, they also lose muscle.

Your goal should be to prioritize your rest just as much as your meals and workouts. It’ll ensure that all your hard work won’t go to waste.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be avoiding some of the most common mistakes that make gaining size seem impossible.

Vegetarian diets almost twice as effective in reducing body weight, study finds.

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Dieters who go vegetarian not only lose weight more effectively than those on conventional low-calorie diets but also improve their metabolism by reducing muscle fat, a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has found.

Losing muscle fat improves glucose and lipid metabolism so this finding is particularly important for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, says lead author, Dr. Hana Kahleová, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC.

Seventy-four subjects with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to follow either a vegetarian diet or a conventional anti-diabetic diet. The vegetarian diet consisted of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits and nuts, with animal products limited to a maximum of one portion of low-fat yoghurt per day; the conventional diabetic diet followed the official recommendations of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). Both diets were restricted by 500 kilocalories per day compared to an isocaloric intake for each individual.

The vegetarian diet was found to be almost twice as effective in reducing body weight, resulting in an average loss of 6.2kg compared to 3.2kg for the conventional diet.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, Dr. Kahleová and colleagues then studied adipose (fat-storage) tissue in the subjects’ thighs to see how the two different diets had affected subcutaneous, subfascial and intramuscular fat (that is, fat under the skin, on the surface of muscles and inside muscles).

They found that both diets caused a similar reduction in subcutaneous fat. However, subfascial fat was only reduced in response to the vegetarian diet, and intramuscular fat was more greatly reduced by the vegetarian diet.

This is important as increased subfascial fat in patients with type 2 diabetes has been associated with insulin resistance, so reducing it could have a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism. In addition, reducing intramuscular fat could help improve muscular strength and mobility, particularly in older people with diabetes.

Dr. Kahleová said: “Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss. However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism. This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”

Why our brain cells may prevent us burning fat when we’re dieting

A study carried out in mice may help explain why dieting can be an inefficient way to lose weight: key brain cells act as a trigger to prevent us burning calories when food is scarce.

“Weight loss strategies are often inefficient because the body works like a thermostat and couples the amount of calories we burn to the amount of calories we eat,” says Dr Clémence Blouet from the Metabolic Research Laboratories at University of Cambridge. “When we eat less, our body compensates and burns fewer calories, which makes losing weight harder. We know that the brain must regulate this caloric thermostat, but how it adjusts calorie burning to the amount of food we’ve eaten has been something of a mystery.”

Now, in research published in the open access journal eLife, a team of researchers has identified a new mechanism through which the body adapts to low caloric intake and limits weight loss in mice. Mice share a number of important biological and physiological similarities with humans and so are a useful model for studying how our bodies work.

The researchers tested the role of a group of neurons in a brain region known as the hypothalamus. These ‘agouti-related neuropeptide’ (AGRP) neurons are known for their major role in the regulation of appetite: when activated, they make us eat, but when fully inhibited they can lead to almost complete anorexia.

The team used a genetic trick to switch the AGRP neurons ‘on’ and ‘off’ in mice so that they could rapidly and reversibly manipulate the neurons’ activity. They studied the mice in special chambers than can measure energy expenditure, and implanted them with probes to remotely measure their temperature, a proxy for energy expenditure, in different contexts of food availability.

The researchers demonstrated that AGRP neurons are key contributors to the caloric thermostat that regulates our weight, regulating how many calories we burn. The findings suggest that when activated, these neurons make us hungry and drive us to eat — but when there is no food available, they act to spare energy, limiting the number of calories that we burn and hence our weight loss.

As soon as food becomes available and we start eating, the action of the AGRP neurons is interrupted and our energy expenditure goes back up again to normal levels.

In addition, the researchers also describe a mechanism through which AGRP neurons regulate their activity by detecting how much energy we have on-board and then controlling how many calories we burn.

“Our findings suggest that a group of neurons in the brain coordinate appetite and energy expenditure, and can turn a switch on and off to burn or spare calories depending on what’s available in the environment,” says Dr Blouet, who led the study. “If food is available, they make us eat, and if food is scarce, they turn our body into saving mode and stop us from burning fat.”

“While this mechanism may have evolved to help us cope with famine, nowadays most people only encounter such a situation when they are deliberately dieting to lose weight. Our work helps explain why for these people, dieting has little effect on its own over a long period. Our bodies compensate for the reduction in calories.”

Dr Luke Burke, the study’s first author, adds: “This study could help in the design of new or improved therapies in future to help reduce overeating and obesity. Until then, best solution for people to lose weight — at least for those who are only moderately overweight — is a combination of exercise and a moderate reduction in caloric intake.”