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Don’t Believe the Health Hype: Six Fallacies Debunked
By Maxine Hurt (View Profile)

By this time, you know that you should never skip breakfast, all carbs are not bad for you, fasting is a dubious get-thin-quick solution with negative short- and long-term repercussions, and cutting up your food up into tiny pieces before eating it doesn’t decrease your caloric intake, despite what Alicia Silverstone’s diet-obsessed character in Clueless says. But just when you think you’ve found a clear path in the labyrinth world of fitness, nutrition, and health, a whole new set of myths, exaggerations, and flat out lies pop up, ready to thwart your wellness goals. This means that you have to be forever vigilant, separating the bad information from the good to ensure that your health doesn’t suffer as a result. Here are a few common fallacies explored to help you stay on track.

1. I should exercise in my “fat burning zone.”
You hop on the elliptical machine at the gym and study the console’s colorful diagram. Without making a single rotation, the words “Fat Burning Zone” cause your heartbeat to accelerate. A special zone that allows me to burn more fat? Perfect! So you accelerate, check your heart rate, then decelerate and peddle cautiously to ensure you never leave the fat burning zone. According to Michael Brazeal, Director of Fitness and Exercise Physiologist at the California Health and Longevity Institute at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California, you’ve been misled. “Yes, at low levels of exercise, a greater percentage of the calories burned come from fat, whereas at higher levels of exercise intensity a greater percentage of the calories burned come from carbohydrate combustion. But the bottom line is that it’s all about calories and creating an energy imbalance—your body doesn’t care where the calories come from.”

Brazeal explains that when he measures his clients’ resting metabolic rates (the energy required to perform vital body functions such as respiration and heart rate), a higher percentage of calories burned come from fat combustion. This means that you would be in the optimal “fat burning zone” when watching TV on the couch or lying in a hammock by the beach. Obviously, that’s not going to help you with your health goals. Instead, Brazeal, whose advice is evidence-based and substantiated by scientific research, tells his clients, “Exercise vigorously. Get the most out of it.”

2. If I focus on abdominal exercises, I will lose inches off of my waistline.
Remember the video of the woman in the pink leotard trying to trim her waist by being violently jiggled by a vibrating belt machine? Guess what? It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. According to Brazeal, “There is no such thing as spot reduction unless you know a great plastic surgeon. But you can spot tone the musculature beneath the fat.” Performing leg lifts, abdominal crunches, or bicep curls will, overtime, increase the muscle’s strength and may change the physical appearance of the area. Your biceps may appear larger or smaller depending on your genetics and exercise routine, but it is the muscle mass that has changed, not the fat surrounding it.

According to Brazeal, “The best way to get rid of fat is by doing cardio exercise—long duration, vigorous cardio exercise.” So you can abercize, ab-tone, abdominalize, ab-crunch, ab-sculpt, and ab-burn for days, but as for losing inches off of your waist in the process, you better go running, jump on the elliptical machine, or take a spin class.

3. If I do too much weight training, I’m going to look like Schwarzenegger.
Many women like having a toned body, but don’t want a bulky one. As a result, we are suspicious of weight training, scared that the end result will be an overly muscled, Amazonian physique ideal for winning body building competitions. According to Brazeal, that’s a fallacy. “Due to hormonal differences, very few women are capable of achieving exaggerated muscle hypertrophy which is an increase in muscle mass caused by resistance training. Unless you are on some type of supplement, you are not going to bulk up,” says Brazeal.

Rather than worrying about bulking up, women should be more cognizant of realistic fitness challenges more likely to plague them like saddlebags, the deposits of fat that settle around the hips, butt, and thighs. According to Brazeal, one reason to go all out with weight training is because it’ll help you in the future. “Muscle is metabolically active. The more muscle you have, the more calories that you burn.” So although spot training alone won’t get rid of saddlebags, weight training in general will make your body an efficient calorie burning machine which will help you reach your long-term fitness goals. 

4. If I eat meals from the low calorie menu at a restaurant, I’m being responsible.
Just as decadent chocolate desserts tempt us, so do the words guiltless, low fat, low calorie, and heart healthy when they’re printed on the menus at our favorite restaurants. But relinquishing control of what you eat is always suspect no matter how convincing the marketing campaign. According to registered dietician Anne Stone of Thousand Oaks, California, “If you want to lose weight, you have to reduce the frequency that you eat out, because even though something is advertised as a guiltless menu item, studies have recently been showing that it depends on who is preparing the food that day and how carefully they are following the guidelines.”

In one investigation conducted in 2008 by Local 6 News in Orlando, Florida, the station’s reporter packed and shipped food content from eight different meals from popular restaurants to scientists at Analytical Laboratories in Boise, Idaho. The laboratory reports revealed that in all but one of the eight meals, there were more calories in the meals than advertised. Some meals were around one hundred calories over the marketed amount. In two of the meals, there were over 80 percent more calories in the supposedly low calorie fare. This is clearly a good argument for preparing your own meals at home whenever possible.

5. If I want to lose weight, I can’t go wrong by eating lots of salads.
The salad myth is wrong for two reasons: salads can be just as high in calories and fat as any other meal (especially when ordered at a restaurant) and your body can feel deprived when it doesn’t receive meals that incorporate all three major food groups. This can cause you to munch relentlessly later on. Stone, who is familiar with this mindset, tells her clients, “You’d be better be off never ordering salads unless it’s a garden salad on the side of your turkey sandwich. I’m a big believer in sandwiches; they are very filling, they look like a meal, and they taste like a meal.” Stone looks beyond the calories in/calories out weight loss equation into murkier psychological waters. “Psychologically, it’s more satisfying to eat a sandwich. Our body likes all of the three major food groups: carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables.” According to Stone, as long as you make smart choices when ordering or making a sandwich (whole grain bread and hold the mayo for example), they are the clear winners over salads.

6. At least I don’t have to worry about heart disease; that’s a man’s problem.
Not only is this assumption wrong, it’s potentially deadly. When you learn that of the approximately 870,000 people who die annually of cardiovascular disease, almost 450,000 are women, it’s clear that this is also a woman’s problem. According to Brazeal, “It’s not that a man is the poster child. The thing is that women show different symptoms and signs. They will go into their physician and complain of fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, stress, and oftentimes the physician will dismiss these symptoms as stress-related, write a prescription for Xanax or Zoloft, and send her on her way.”

Not having overt symptoms can confound the problem. According to the American Heart Association, 64 percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Similarly, women still see it as a man’s disease. Historically, most of the research on cardiovascular disease was performed predominantly on middle-aged men. Ironically, only thirty years ago, a 1960s American Heart Association conference in Oregon devoted to women and cardiovascular disease was titled, “How Can I Help My Husband Cope with Heart Disease?” Help him, but know that you need to stay informed and help yourself as well.

Although there are many misleading claims made about fitness and health, sometimes our worst saboteurs are ourselves. Yes, it’s easier to tell yourself you’re avoiding bulking up by not weight training, but in the end, the right choices will always produce the right results.

http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/22176/72281-don-t-believe-health-hype–six

“Bad” Foods Can Help You Lose

Seductive foods seem to lurk at every turn, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. But many foods that have gotten a bad rap aren’t so terrible after all. Learn which tempting treats can actually help you lose weight and keep it off.

Eggs

When it comes to healthy eating, few foods have sparked as much debate as eggs. The latest research suggests an egg a day is safe and nutritious for most adults — and if you eat that egg for breakfast, you’ll boost your odds of losing weight. The reason: Eggs are packed with protein, which takes time to digest. Eating protein in the morning keeps your stomach busy, so you eat less during the rest of the day.

Steak

For years, health experts have been admonishing us to eat less red meat. But steak is not always bad for the waistline. In fact, a lean cut of beef has barely more saturated fat than a similar size skinless chicken breast. Like eggs, steak is loaded with protein and can keep you feeling full longer. To get plenty of protein with less fat, choose T-bone, sirloin tip, or other extra-lean cuts — and limit portions to the size of your fist.

Pork

Talk about a bad reputation — the term “pork” is used to describe all kinds of excess, so it’s no wonder dieters often steer clear. Here’s a case where the meat itself is not what it used to be. Today’s cuts of pork tenderloin are 31% leaner than 20 years ago. That makes this white meat a lean source of protein with benefits similar to those of lean beef.

Pasta

Rather than avoiding pasta when you’re dieting, make the switch to whole grain. Research suggests people who eat several servings of whole-grain foods per day are more likely to slim down and maintain healthy weights. According to one study, eating whole grains rather than refined grains can also help burn belly fat.

Nuts

Nuts may be high in fat, but it’s the good kind. And they are also rich in protein and fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar. Sure, you’ll get a few extra grams of fat from munching on a handful of nuts, but it’s worth it if it helps you avoid reaching for cookies or other sweets. Even peanut butter can be a dieter’s friend. Studies show small amounts of this favorite food can control hunger without causing weight gain.

Cheese

Dieters often try to cut calories by nixing calcium-rich dairy foods, but some studies suggest this is a mistake. One theory is that the body burns more fat when it gets enough calcium, so eating cheese, yogurt, and milk may actually contribute to weight loss. Calcium supplements don’t seem to yield the same benefits, so high-calcium diets may have other factors at work as well.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/slideshow-bad-foods-that-are-good-for-weight-loss

By TIFFANY SHARPLES Tiffany Sharples Thu Feb 26, 2:15 pm ET

Low fat, low carb, high protein – there’s a diet plan of every flavor. And if you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggle with weight, you’ve probably tried them all, likely with little success. That wouldn’t surprise Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of a new study published in the Feb. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, whose findings confirm what a growing body of weight-loss evidence has already suggested: one diet is no better than the next when it comes to weight loss. It doesn’t matter where your calories come from, as long as you’re eating less. (Read about environmentally friendly food.)

“We have a really simple and practical message for people: it’s not so much the type of diet you eat,” says Sacks. “It’s how much you put in your mouth.”

In the analysis of 811 obese patients from Massachusetts and Louisiana, participants were randomly assigned to one of four heart-healthy diets: low fat or high fat, with either average or high levels of protein. All four regimens also included high amounts of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and substituted saturated fat, found in foods such as butter and meat, with unsaturated fat, found in vegetable oil and nuts. The participants were encouraged to exercise 90 minutes a week. (See the top 10 food trends of 2008.)

On average, the study participants lost about 13 lb. after six months of dieting, or about 7% of their starting weight, regardless of which diet plan they followed. At the one-year mark, the dieters had regained some of the lost weight, and after two years, average weight loss was about 9 lb. Only about 15% of participants were able to lose 10% of their body weight or more. Across the board, however, patients lowered their risk of diabetes and reduced blood levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and overall heart health.

Catherine Loria, one of the study’s co-authors and a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the study, was encouraged by the findings. “People do have to choose heart-healthy foods,” she says, but “I think the beauty of the study is that they have a lot of flexibility in terms of the dietary approach.”

But that’s where the trouble begins. It’s hard enough to figure out what to eat. Eating less of it is even harder. Researchers had hoped to get study participants to eat 750 calories less than they expended each day – an objective that proved unsustainable. Dieters adhered to the initial plan for the first several weeks, but by the six-month mark, they were consuming only 225 calories less than they expended – about a third of the goal – according to a calculation based on overall weight loss. “It’s very difficult to reduce your calories enough to really sustain a lot of weight loss,” Loria says. (See pictures of facial yoga.)

One failure of most diet plans is that people get hungry and quit, says Sacks, who acknowledges that the sudden reduction of 750 calories in his study was perhaps too steep. “I think what that teaches us is that maybe it’s better to make a more gradual change in intake,” says Sacks. “That’s what I recommend to my patients: let’s try to pick a gradual or realistic reduction in calories that’s not going to make you really hungry a lot and that you can sustain day after day.”

But eating less, however simple it may sound, is hardly a one-man job. Some nutrition experts argue that the balance of responsibility needs to fall more heavily on society at large. Martjin Katan, a professor of nutrition and health at Amsterdam’s VU University, wrote an accompanying editorial that analyzed the merits of the diet study. He suggests that focusing on individual diet plans of any kind may be misguided, and that only community-wide change will truly be able to stem the tide of obesity. He points to a small town in France that tapped all of its residents to solve the problem – building more outdoor-sports facilities and creating walking routes, hosting cooking classes and even intervening with at-risk families. After five years, obesity among children was down to 8.8%, less than half the rate of neighboring towns. That success, he writes, “suggests that we may need a new approach to preventing and to treating obesity and that it must be a total-environment approach.”

It’s a useful lesson for American adults, two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese. Long-term weight loss has proved frustratingly elusive for many obese individuals, but study after study has shown that community and peer support help people take off weight – and keep it off. In this study, the participants who took advantage of group and individual counseling offered as part of the diets had far greater success than those who chose to go it alone. Over the course of two years, participants who went to at least two-thirds of the counseling sessions dropped about 22 lb., 13 lb. more than the average of the entire study population. “Losing weight and sustaining it for two years is difficult,” Sacks says. “To help people do that, they need some level of support to keep their motivation and focus.”

But the bottom line, according to most obesity experts, is to set realistic goals. Expect what is achievable: a 250-lb. person isn’t likely to slim down to supermodel proportions in her lifetime, but she may be able to lose 10 or 20 lb. A moderate 5% or 10% reduction in body weight can significantly improve health, by lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. For many doctors who work with obese patients, the goal is not thinness but well-being – and, ultimately for the patient, self-acceptance.

As for the secret to losing weight? There is none. “It’s basic physiology,” Loria says. “Eat fewer calories than you expend.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090226/hl_time/08599188179500

I just wrote the word “diet” in the title so you’d know what I was talking about, but honestly, that should be a swear word. How about, “5 easy ways to get food to serve you and your goals?” Or what about, “The joy of food”, or “The great things food can do for your body and your goals.”

So much of what we look like is impacted by what we put in our mouths. The tricky thing is that food is connected to us as emotional beings so much more then exercise. Yes, some people blow off stress by taking a run, but most of us would just rather reach for a donut, slice of pizza or scotch and soda.

I think the food puzzle needs to be unraveled simply and slowly so that our approach is simple but realistic to our lives.

1. Drink only water, with the exception of your beloved coffee in the morning. According to studies, this would eliminate 20% of our caloric intake and help all of our body functions run more smoothly.

2. Cut down your portions
I’m not even going to say what to eat and not eat. I’m just saying if you are having that sub at lunch cut it in half. We all overeat, so just eat until you are full. I’ts difficult to do, so halve the food and get it away from you. If it’s sitting there you will want to eat it.

3. Don’t skip breakfast
You will have a 70% chance of overeating throughout your day if you skip breakfast.

4. Keep a food journal
This will help you see exactly what you are eating and when. You will even be able to see patterns of grabbing food at stressful moments, etc. Journaling just makes you aware and in charge of your food–not the other way around.

5. If you can avoid it, don’t eat after 7 p.m.
On business dinners or birthday gatherings don’t worry about it. But when you can, try to finish eating earlier in the day.

See, that’s not hard to do. Now as you progress in this area, I have some other rules to help you improve your relationship with food.

  • Don’t eat fast food (unless you have no other choice).
  • Avoid microwaving your meals. Cook it yourself.
  • Limit tons of sugar and wheat-based products (in anything).
  • No diet, or fat-free, food. They contain a lot of ingredients that no one can pronounce.
  • Fill your plate during the day with foods of all colors.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well.
  • Eat when you are hungry and not because you are sad, mad, or stressed out.
  • Limit your red meat intake.
  • Foods that have a 10-year shelf life should not be eaten. Go for the real stuff.
  • Don’t snack yourself to weight gain. Eat real meals that are satisfying, not snacky foods that will kill your waistline and make you feel blah.

Source: Health Yahoo
Picture: http://www.geekarmy.com/funny-pictures/7088/Diet-Time/

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A healthy-eating plan can be illustrated in many ways, but it’s often found in the shape of a pyramid. Food pyramids outline various food groups and food choices that, if eaten in the right quantities, form the foundation of a healthy diet.

The food pyramid plan

Guidelines for choosing foods are widely represented in various food pyramids. The triangular shape of the pyramid shows you where to focus when selecting foods. Foods to eat the most of create the base of the pyramid, and foods to eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown farther up the pyramid.

A food pyramid familiar to many Americans is MyPyramid (formerly known as the Food Guide Pyramid), established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. Many other pyramids exist, however. These include the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and Vegetarian diet pyramids developed by Oldways Preservation Trust, and the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, just to name a few.

Basic principles of all food pyramids

With the variety of food pyramids available, you may wonder which one to follow. It may help to know that the basic principles of food pyramids are largely the same and generally emphasize the following:

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Reduce intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit sweets and salt.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
  • Control portion sizes and the total number of calories you consume.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.

Food pyramids place foods in categories — such as dairy products or meat and beans — to help guide your food choices. No single food provides all of the nutrients that your body needs, so eating a variety of foods within each group ensures that you get the necessary nutrients and other substances that promote good health.

Food pyramid differences

Although food pyramids reflect the same general principles of healthy eating, they demonstrate different food choices. These differences reflect dietary preferences, food availability and cultural eating patterns. For example, the Latin American Diet Pyramid might include tortillas and cornmeal within the grains food group, whereas the Asian Diet Pyramid might emphasize noodles and rice.

Other differences include:

  • Food groups. The food groups among food pyramids may vary somewhat. For example, some might group plant-based proteins — soybeans, beans and nuts — separately from animal proteins found in meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. This is because animal proteins are often higher in fat and cholesterol, and some diets limit or avoid animal proteins.
  • Serving recommendations. How food pyramids address servings also varies. The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, for example, recommends a daily number of servings from each food group. And it specifically defines serving sizes; for example, a serving of cooked brown rice is 1/3 cup and a serving of milk is 1 cup. But other plans offer more general guidelines, such as eating particular foods at every meal, or on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, the Latin American Diet Pyramid recommends that you eat whole grains, vegetables and fruits at every meal but eat red meat, sweets and eggs once a week or less.

How to use a food pyramid

To see how your diet matches up to any of these pyramids, keep a food diary for several days. Then compare how much of your diet comes from the various levels. If you’re top-heavy, work your way toward the bottom of the pyramid by making small, gradual changes, such as eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and limiting fats and sweets.

Here are a few simple practices to help get or keep you on track:

  • Choose a variety of foods from each major food group. This ensures that you get all of the calories, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need. Choosing a wide range of foods also helps make your meals and snacks more interesting.
  • Adapt the plan to your specific tastes and preferences. For example, a serving of grains doesn’t only mean a slice of wheat bread. It can be wild rice, whole-wheat pasta, grits, bulgur, cornmeal muffins or even popcorn.
  • Combine foods from each major group however you like. For example, you might make a meal of tortillas (grain group) and beans (meat and beans group). Or you could top your fish with fruit salsa or serve steamed vegetables over pasta. The possibilities are endless.
  • Select your meals and snacks wisely. Make the most of what you eat by choosing nutrient-rich foods within each group. And if you need to avoid foods from one or more food groups — for example, if you don’t consume dairy products because of lactose intolerance — choose other foods that are good sources of the nutrients found in those foods.

Remember to be open and creative, and go for good taste! Eating well and eating healthy are very compatible.



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