Meat Covered: Why vegetarian diets still can build muscle

healthy eating

From gluten free to vegan and everything in between, specialty diets aren’t anything new.

In fact, they’re more the norm.

The one element of a specialty diet that can cause some headaches is for the person who spends a significant amount of time in the gym, lifting weights and trying to build muscle with very little in the way of protein at their disposal, specifically for vegetarian diets.

When you can’t eat meat, you lose significant protein from chicken, steak and other protein sources that are a no no on your diet.

Or, do you?
The real question isn’t so much about losing protein but realizing where else you can find it to have diet that isn’t counter productive to building muscle in the midst of every bicep curl and chest press you do, without feeling as though all that hard work in the gym is for naught.

Protein can be found in one of the more unique places and doesn’t necessarily need to be rooted in meat.

Think about foods like nuts, legumes and tofu as just a few options for your protein needs. Edamame beans in particular are riddled with protein, nearly 30 grams per cup of protein. Some who like to stay away from soy can look into protein powders, which are abundant so you want to go with a higher grade and not a Wal Mart or store brand such as GNC specifically. You’ll want to research for a protein that is a middle of the road brand.

The trick to building muscle is protein to repair the damage that you’ve done to your muscles and to build them back up and then some, but also injecting foods high in amino acids. You’ll look to the meatless option of eggs and seeds of any variety (sunflower or pumpkin), both of which are rich in both protein and the amino acids that are equally effective in pumping up your muscles.

Dietary needs are nothing new to the masses, and as someone who can’t eat bread, dairy or gluten, and has trouble digesting red meat, you’ll be thankful that you don’t have to rely on chicken, steak and milk or dairy products to get all the protein you’ll need.

If you listen to the experts that tell you, from a digestive standpoint, that red meat for example isn’t made for your body, you’ll be glad you switched from meat to vegetarian and not miss a beat in the gym.

Mixed Messages: How do you lose weight when you don’t know what methods are credible?

drop weight fast

If it isn’t one DVD hitting the shelves from a prominent exercise person, it’s a new machine that promises toned abs, thighs or buns in record setting amounts of time.

From personal trainers to diets and exercise routines being done by the celebrities and stars you see in television, working out is riddled with mixed messages and more questions than answers for the general public that is desperately trying to get healthy but just doesn’t know how.

Case in point, look at television, specifically shows like “The Biggest Loser” or “Extreme Makeover,” the one that focuses on health and wellness. These shows show dramatic weight loss of epic proportions but yet fail to capture the true essence of what exercise is for the average person.

We don’t have round the clock training or live on a campus of sorts that spoon feeds us (literally) what we are supposed to do from one chin up to another. We certainly don’t have personal trainers or lifestyle coaches at our beckon call or disposal, nor can most people devote hours to exercise and diet.

The same goes for A-listers and movie stars telling us that their exercise routine for a movie role or to get rid of post baby weight is as easy as yelling “action.” It’s not. Hugh Jackman doesn’t sculpt the Wolverine body for the ages by working out before he has to be in the office at 9 a.m. or after work before the kids need fed dinner. His seven-hour per day workouts don’t mesh with life in general.

So what is someone to do to get healthy without so many issues as far as what to believe?
The simple fact remains that exercise starts with keeping it simple, and so does eating for that matter. Cutting calories means keeping a food journal, writing down what you eat and eliminating the foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar content. Those are the key ingredients that are keeping you overweight, along with artificial sweeteners that are totally counterproductive.

Think of dieting as a budget for food. Take out what is not needed and go lean with what you’re eating.

As far as exercise, you can’t start with a two-hour workout and unrealistic goals. Start walking after work or joining a gym that is close to your house (something you pass on the way home). You might want to find someone to workout with to stay accountable. But if you believe you’re going to join a gym in January and lose 50 pounds by spring, you are mistaken. Far too many people quit exercising because they believe magically they’ll drop pounds in weeks.

A sensible diet and smart, prudent exercise is going to keep you healthy and your weight in check. Everything else is gimmicks and unrealistic goals being fed to you.

Is Coffee Really Good For You?

So what’s the deal with coffee, more specifically the reputation this beverage has that seems to change at a moment’s notice? One day, coffee is king. The next, you should never, ever drink it.

For the consumer who loves coffee, the news doesn’t matter much to them. Some would be drinkers of coffee could be more than just a little interested to know exactly why they aren’t drinking it and what potentially they’re missing.

Coffee has too much caffeine, which isn’t good for you. But some studies have shown that coffee is good for the liver and digestion, and boosts cognitive thinking.

Truthfully, coffee is quite the polarizing beverage and actually holds falls more into the beneficial than bad category.

Coffee is known to boost brain power and help with blood flow. Like anything else, however, coffee needs to be used in moderation and not looked at just for the reasoning of giving you a much needed pick me up.

In addition to brain and blood benefits, coffee is filled with antioxidants. We’ve been told for years now the benefits of food in the way of antioxidants, and everything from blueberries to raspberries and cold or hot tea is filled with this powerful cancer fighting ingredient.

And, much to the delight of drinkers around the world, so is coffee.

You’re aforementioned liver also will make it a point to work wonderfully and thank you directly by staying overly healthy. Coffee fights off fatty liver disease, which can help fight anything from cirrhosis to cancer.

Of course, it’s hard not to revel in the real reason you all love coffee: caffeine. If you’re not interested in ingesting all that caffeine, decaf coffee still holds the same benefits as its caffeinated counterpart. Some studies have shown that just the smell of coffee can put you in a better mood, so imagine how great you’ll feel if you actually take that first sip.

You’ll most likely hear in the next week something bad about coffee; that’s the cyclical nature of this drink. But in the end, coffee’s positives outweigh the negatives, and that fact isn’t lost on the millions of coffee drinkers around the world.

They might tell you they love coffee from Starbucks because of the taste or the whipped cream or the trendy cup and holder it comes in when you stop on a daily basis. Little did you know, however, that the coffee you’re proudly toting around is helping stave off serious illness, disease and fatigue.

Who knew so much could come from something as simple as coffee?

Hungry Eyes: Certain Foods Make You Starving

big breakfast

Most of the time when you eat, you expect to feel full and satisfied.

That isn’t always the case when you’re talking about certain food or drinks, some of which tend to only make you feel hungrier, rather than do what is intended.

Take the salty snacks you love to gobble down while you’re watching sports or waiting for the main course at a party or get together. Not only are chips, pretzels and peanuts going to make you thirsty for more to drink but they’re also not quite hunger busters, either.

Also on the list of foods that aren’t going to do you any favors if you’re trying to eat less is white bread and pasta that isn’t whole wheat. Your blood sugar goes into nearly extinction mode, and despite all the talk of pasta and carbohydrates leaving you feeling full, that isn’t going to be the case with white bread and pasta.

And if you’re going to pair that white bread sandwich or pasta with a beverage, you might want to pick something in the vein of water rather than alcohol. The latter won’t make you feel full, sick perhaps, but definitely not to the point where you want to stop eating. In fact, alcohol makes you feel that much hungrier one beer or mixed drink after another.

One menu item that customers of all shapes and sizes gravitate toward is sushi, namely the rolls. From the California Roll to the Spicy Tuna flavor, sushi rolls are equal parts expensive but so delicious when paired with a side of soy sauce and ginger. But even dozens upon dozens of rolls only is going to lead you back to the take out menu after only a few hours. Sushi tends to digest rather quickly and only an hour or two after eating up to 12-15 rolls, you’ll be starving again for certain.

The soy sauce also isn’t helping matters, either as the sodium content is going to act in the same vein as the aforementioned salty snacks. If you want to try something else from the Chinese food menu, think again because MSG might be worse than the sushi rolls when it comes to making you feel hungry.

If you’re expecting that nice, full feeling after a meal, you want to steer clear of salt, sushi and any carbohydrate that looks and tastes processed or refined. In other words, stick to fruits, vegetables, greens and high protein diets, food that often is associated as “bird food” or the kind that doesn’t stick to your ribs.

That couldn’t be further from the truth and thinking that way is only going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

How to Lose 10 Pounds in 30 days With Math

You may want to lose weight fast for a once-in-a-lifetime event such as your first wedding, vacation to Hawaii, or an appearance on “America’s Got Talent.” You may believe that losing 10 pounds in 30 days is impossible, but it is very feasible. First, you must forget everything you have learned about fad diets, starvation, hormone supplements and the like. You are only going to need three tools to help you lose 10 pounds in 30 days: a standard calculator, calorie calculator and some motivation.

Step 1: Learn the Mathematical Equation

The first thing you need to do is take out your standard calculator and multiply 3,500 by 10. The number that you get is the total number of calories that you will need to eliminate to lose 10 pounds in 30 days (35,000). One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. That equation will be the foundation of any weight-loss plan you develop.

Next, you will divide 35,000 by 28, 30 or 31 days. That result will give you the number of calories that you need to eliminate on a daily basis. You can use 30 days just to grasp an understanding of the process. The daily caloric deficiency for a 30-day month is 1,167.

Step 2: Calculate Your Recommended Daily Caloric Intake

Calorie calculators will tell you the number of calories that you should consume to maintain your body weight. They will also tell you how many calories that you should consume to lose weight, but you will only want to use the calculator for your maintenance figure. You can find a calculator by conducting a Google search for “daily caloric intake calculator.” When you find a detailed calculator, you will enter the necessary information.

Most calorie calculators will ask for information such as age, gender, weight, height and exercise level. When you are finished entering data, you can click on “calculate” for your figure. This figure gives you a guide that you can use for analyzing and altering your current diet.

Step 3: Create Your Deficiency

Every day, you must “lose” 1,167 calories. You can achieve that by either removing/altering dietary items or implementing a vigorous exercise plan. Calorie counting is a complex science, so you might favor straight exercise. You may need to use both methods to lose an aggressive amount of weight, however. You can lose many calories by performing cardiovascular exercises. For example, 30 minutes of vigorous bicycling can help you to drop 500 calories. One full hour could almost complete your daily deficiency.

You know the basics of losing weight. You can adjust your activity level and your diet as needed.

Healthy Eating Habits: Stating the Obvious?

healthy eating

How many times do you find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry? This is a very common occurrence for most people and it’s not necessarily a problem unless you, yourself, cannot control it and become overweight. All too often we turn to food to combat stress and comfort ourselves – the trick is control those urges and maintain healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips that can help to create better habits

Some strategies that can be used to stop emotional eating when stressed could be to work out; try a new sport, do yoga or meditation or even relax by taking a hot bath. If you find yourself eating unhealthily during afternoon snack time when you get a slump of energy, try going for a walk or listen to some of your favorite music. I have even held those urges off with a short nap. If you tend to eat when you are lonely or bored, call and catch up with one of your friends, take your pet for a walk or go out in public where there are a lot of people. Many times we eat more than we are aware of, living in such a fast paced world, mindlessly eating as we watch a television show or movie. Learn to pay attention while you’re eating, and slow down and enjoy your snack or food. Savor the smell and the textures and enjoy the taste. Avoid distractions and try not to eat when you are doing a mindless task. You could try chewing your food thoroughly, emasculating each bite 30 times before swallowing. You will slow down the process and give yourself more time to enjoy. Try enjoying your food with different utensils, using something like chopsticks to eat your food or using the opposite hand will mix up your experience. Lastly, stop eating before you are full, as it takes more time than you think to signal the brain that you are full. Avoid cleaning the entire plate, your satisfaction will come slowly after you put your plate down.

Dieting doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop eating all together but what it encourages us to do is focus on eating foods that are more healthy but still help you to remain full. Low calorie food that still has substance. Healthy eating habits can be achieved by including more fiber which can make you feel full while still losing weight. High fiber foods are high in volume and take a longer time frame to digest which in turn make them a lot more filling. High-fiber options include fruits and vegetables; strawberries, apples, oranges, nectarines, plums and most kinds of berries. Also, anything with green vegetables and leafy salads. Beans are also a healthy option – high in protein and fiber. Try adding them to different entrees with options such as black beans, lentils, split peas, pinto beans and chickpeas. High fiber cereal is a great option as well, including oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat or multi-grain bread and air popped popcorn. Try eating vegetables raw or steamed and not fried or breaded, dress them with herbs and spices or a small amount of olive oil. Try adding nuts and cheeses to salads but be careful not to overdo it, use low-fat dressings. For breakfast, try less cereal and leave room for fruits like blueberries, strawberries or sliced bananas, this way its easy to eat less and feel more full.

Healthy eating is a lifestyle choice, and making small changes can make a big difference in the overall goal to your weight loss plan. Small steps are huge.

How to Maintain your Diet Plan around Christmas

diet plan around christmas

There’s no doubt that this time of the year brings with it a ton of excesses of all types. Spending, eating, drinking and if you’re lucky, laughing too, but for the casual dieter, this can also signal the point at which all of those “best laid plans” come crashing down surrounded by double helpings of meat, potatoes, and no small serving of Egg Nog and apple pie. Today, we’ll try to show you how to maintain your diet plan around Christmas.

The first thing to do is take a good look at your diet and exercise regimen. Are there areas that need to be looked at closely? For instance, you might feel that exercising 5 nights per week could be trimmed down to 3-4 nights given that you are on target pace. Particularly at Christmas time, we find ourselves really cramped for time with all that we take onto our plate so now is a good time to make changes. This type of move we also use to help soften the blow of making other adjustments to things such as dieting needs. The converse side to this is what to do if you are behind your pace. In that context, it is so important to not drop further behind so we have to consolidate by somehow returning to the original exercise plan, which we’ve deviated from in some way, most likely. Try to get back to your original starting point, just for 2-3 weeks, Trust me – you’ll need to.

The next item is the calorie intake. It is so important at this time of year to know what your calorie intake is, especially with the seasonal perks such as Christmas parties, a glass of wine after work, food at the Open House, and the festivities around New Year. I’m talking here about knowing what the calorie value of a bottle of beer is, or a shot of liquor. If you don’t know beforehand, then find out afterwards because these are all potential traps for falling completely “off the horse”. Tracking your intake on a daily basis means that you can make adjustments to your meals to cover for the excesses. Now let me be clear here, I’m not suggesting eliminating all nutritious food because you had a skinful the night before. We just have to be smart about how we enjoy the Yuletide.

Finally, it’s important to not invite opportunities for friends and family to help ruin your diet plan around Christmas. What I mean by that is where gift=giving is concerned, try to encourage people close to you to refrain from the cookie tins, the food baskets, and the frozen meats. These items become so irresistible to someone who is trying to regulate fatty, unhealthy foods. I usually let everyone know that these gifts will not be gratefully accepted. In fact, in years gone by, I have “flipped” those gifts to other people! Shameful, I know but what are we to do!

Remember that the point of all this is to allow you to have fun while not completely rolling off the rails in pursuit of your weight loss goals. This time of year is about enjoyment and having fun. We just need to make sure that we get that without adding another 15lbs to our ‘spare tire”!

Happy Holidays!

It’s not Weight Loss – It’s a Lifestyle Change

lifestyle change

Many times over the past 12 months or so on this blog, I have tried to emphasize the importance of losing weight within a structure of a balanced approach to dieting. In other words, no quick fixes but more of a cultural adjustment. I haven’t quite been able to give this approach a name – until now. It’s a Lifestyle Change.

I happened to be reading an article about the effects of dieting on patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The consensus is that dieting as of itself which may involve large amounts of weight loss within a relatively short period of time, is just not something that doctors choose to recommend to people in this medical community. Doctors prefer, and dietitians heartily agree, that a “lifestyle change” is much more beneficial and healthy. Couldn’t agree more! Having said that, and bear in mind I am definitely NOT a doctor and definitely NOT medically trained, I can only imagine that any practice that involves reducing weight, lowering blood sugar and lowering blood pressure, can only be considered a positive step for a Type 2 Diabetes patient.

Remember that a “lifestyle change” involves not only the food and nutritional aspect, but that there is an exercise component too. We’ve always talked about how a well thought out exercise program is always a help to losing weight. Many times it involves a lifestyle change because our daily routines become seriously affected. With dieting, we’re just changing what we eat but exercise involves a huge commitment that can be an inconvenience.

The core principle that I’m hammering home here is that in order to lose weight for the long-term, you cannot just rely on reducing calories and jogging twice a week until you get down to your target weight. 75% of people who do that eventually gain 90% of the weight right back. The reason? Because they chose not to make the “lifestyle change”. Their attitudes and routines all came flooding back once the weight target was reached. Those people took a large intake of breath, a huge sigh, and it was “Katie bar the Door and someone please get me the keys to the ice-cream cabinet!”. With the lifestyle change, the weight loss target really is just the “first mile-marker” if you will, because now, it’s all about keeping the weight off.

Trust me, especially for people in my age group of the over-50’s, if you reject the “lifestyle change” then good luck to you because no matter how many laps you run, or how many pounds you bench-press, or how many salads you eat for lunch instead of a cheeseburger, as soon as all of that stops, it’s over. It might as well not have happened. I know, because I’ve done it (or not done it as the case may be). I understand how hard it is to make that type of commitment, but just as we said at the start of this article, the Type 2 Diabetic patients have no choice, and for them, it works.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on certain common medical conditions and how they relate to weight loss and dieting. There’s no doubt that in cases where there are extenuating medical circumstances, medical advice should be sought out BEFORE embarking on any dieting or exercise plan.

Fasting to Lose Weight: Good or Bad?

fasting to lose weight

As we’ve discussed many times on this blog, there are many different avenues to follow to get to your goal of losing weight. Some are good – some not so good. One suggestion involves fasting to lose weight. Does it work or does it cause more issues along the way? Let’s find out.

Fasting on the face of it should be helpful to lose weight. Just by examining the math of consuming fewer calories than you expend has to reduce weight. The question is whether there are any other more dangerous issues that lie ahead as a result of starving the body of essential nutrients. Let’s be clear. Fasting is the term used for eliminating food and drink intake from a diet that is of a nutritional nature. It does not include the elimination of water, vitamins or mineral and vitamin supplements.

Let me share a story. Back in the 1960’s, a 27yr old man in Dundee, Scotland who weighed 465lbs showed up at the local emergency room asking for help to lose weight. He wanted no food at all, but just enough expert monitoring to keep him healthy. The doctors agreed and after 3 days he had lost 5lbs. He left the hospital and continued the routine over the next 382 DAYS! The man got down to 180lbs wet through and never regained the weight back. He did take water, and vitamin supplements but his body survived with no lasting after-effects. The point is that fasting seems to be a definite tactic for losing weight. It does work under the correct and safest conditions.

However, there are a few considerations here that need examination. Is it really the food reduction that is the driving force or are there other factors at work here? Let’s look at a few of them:

1. Fasting decreases insulin levels which in turn increases the body’s ability to burn fat

2. The body hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline increase in the body during a fast which causes it to expend more energy at rest. Hence a reduction in muscle fat.

3. Growth hormone secretion is reduced during fasting. They are also fat-burning hormones too which suggests that this will have a negative effect on the weight loss process in this case.

4. Fat oxidation increases while “lean mass” remains constant. What we want to do here is burn fat, and not muscle, and certainly not reduce bone mass. That would be unhealthy.

5. Fasting seems to show clearly measurable results in terms of fat loss which would tend to increase a dieter’s resolve to lose weight as the weight loss is visible and relatively fast.

6. It seems that the most difficult and irritating side-effect are the hunger pangs and the sense of feeling tired and hungry which are natural reactions that the body uses to tell the brain it needs to eat. These effects tend to wane over time depending on how long the fasting period is.

The consensus appears that fasting to lose weight is a big help in a dieters weight loss travels. However, personally, I’m not a fan. I believe that it causes too many instances of vitamin deprivation, protein loss, and general feelings of ill-health. If a person insists on applying the fasting to lose weight principle, I would sternly recommend that a doctor or dietitian be consulted and regular check-ups conducted to keep track of body processes.

If you decide to try it out, let us know how it works!

6 Useful Tips to Better Your Diet

Sometimes when it comes to weight loss, it is the little tweaks that we make to our work-out regimen or diet schedule that really help us make solid progress towards our goal. To help us out, here are 6 useful tips to better your diet and hopefully boost your weight loss results.

1. Liquid volume is better than food volume
Provided that we’re talking about either water or sugar-free drinks, liquids can help to take away those hunger pangs that be so debilitating late in the day. Be careful to not saturate yourself as that can create problems in itself but a healthy 8-10 glasses of water per day will go a long way to filling in for food cravings.

2. Low Fat Greek Yogurt
I try not to make my writing an ad for anyone’s products but this has almost become the wonder food over the past few years. Low in sodium, cholesterol, carbohydrates and only about 80 calories, its high-protein base of about 10-12g per serving make it almost the perfect diet staple. It’s not going to provide a ton of energy but as a late night snack – perfection!

3. Add to your diet – don’t take away
Many times we’re always trying to find ways to structure our diets where we eat less. This is all well and good because obviously less food means less calories, but as a result we lean eventually towards eating “unhealthily”, and that’s bad. Try to look for foods that you can add to your diet without compromising your weight loss plan and you will feel so much better, both physically and mentally.

4. Each time you’re hungry, make that decision
There are times, I know because it’s happened to me several times, when we get that hunger sensation while watching TV late at night, and so just like a robot, we get up to go get something to eat. These are the killer times when your body is starting to slow its metabolism down ready for rest, and we’re going to jam a packet of chocolate cookies down. All that food intake goes almost 100% towards fat. Try to decide if you are REALLY hungry or not. If so, then eat sparingly. If not, then you just saved yourself a ton of calories.

5. Take that pasta or potato off the plate and substitute with vegetables
My son’s girlfriend makes a fantastic salmon dish and because she is an avid fitness enthusiast, she doesn’t allow us to eat starchy foods. Consequently, the salmon comes with a nice, big helping of asparagus, and that’s it. Guess what. I don’t miss the starch one bit! Similarly, she’s substituted one of our meals with a salad each week. I can’t tell you how much better I’ve felt as a result. Bless her!

6. To treat yourself, leave the house rather than bringing the food in
There are times when we just can’t hold off the cravings anymore. I get it. However, to bring that huge jug of ice cream into the house and having it tantalizingly available in the freezer isn’t good. Go out for ice-cream. Take the family. It becomes less harmful in the long term. Similarly with pizza. Don’t order it. Go out for it.

There are a few more tips that I thought of but i think the six here will be plenty to be going along with. It’s hard to stay regimental with any weight loss plan no matter how regimental you are about it. These tips should help you navigate a little easier through those choppy waters

1 2 3 4 5