Weight Loss / Diet Articles

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Where Diets Go Wrong
Submitted by Joe R. 

When we discover that we are heavier than we want to be, we have a natural inclination to eat less food. We may skip lunch or eat only a tiny amount of our dinner in the hope that if we eat less our body will burn off some of its fat. But that is not necessarily true. Eating less actually makes it more difficult to lose weight.

Keep in mind that the human body took shape millions of years ago, and at that time there were diets. The only low-calorie event in people's lives was starvation. Those who could cope with a temporary lack of food were the ones who survived. Our bodies, therefore, have developed this built-in mechanism to help us survive in the face of low food intake.

When researchers compare overweight and thin people, they find that they are roughly the same number of calories. What makes overweight people different is the amount of fat that they eat. Thin people tend to eat less fat and more complex carbohydrates.

Losing weight is not something one can do overnight. A carefully planned weight loss program requires common sense and certain guidelines. Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformantion floating around and lots of desperate people are easily duped and ripped off.

Every day one can open a magazine or newspaper and see advertisements touting some new product, pill or patch that will take excess weight off quickly. Everyone seems to be looking for that "magic" weight loss pill. Millions of Americans are trying to lose weight, spending billions of dollars every year on diet programs and products. Often they do lose some weight. But, if you check with the same people five years later, you will find that nearly all have regained whatever weight they lost.

A survey was done recently to try and determine if any commercial diet program could prove long-term success. Not a single program could do so. So rampant has the so-called diet industry become with new products and false claims that the FDA has now stepped in and started clamping down.

Being seriously overweight and particularly obesity can develop into a number of diseases and serious health problems, and it is now a known fact that when caloric intake is excessive, some of the excess frequently is saturated fat.

The myth is that people get heavy by eating too many calories. Calories are a consideration it's true, but overall they are not the cause of obesity in America today. Americans actually take in fewer calories each day than they did at the beginning of the century. If calories alone were the reason we become overweight, we should all be thin. But we are not. Collectively, we are heavier than ever. Partly, it is because we are more sedentary now. But equally, as important is the fact that the fat content of the American diet has changed dramatically.

People who diet without exercising often get fatter with time. Although your weight may initially drop while dieting, such weight loss consists mostly of water and muscle. When the weight returns, it comes back as fat. To avoid getting fatter over time, increase your metabolism by exercising regularly.

Select an exercise routine that you are comfortable with and remember that walking is one of the best and easiest exercises for strengthening your bones, controlling your weight and toning your muscles.

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Behavior Modification
Submitted by Skip

Habits, good or bad, are formed by repetition. Eating habits are no exception. If you are in the habit of snacking when you watch TV, you were reinforcing that habit until finally it became a part of you. Other habits are formed in the same way. Some of these habits are: eating while reading, eating the minute you come in the house, eating when the kids come in from school, eating when you come in from a date, or eating while cooking dinner.

We also find that certain moods and circumstances cause us to eat even if we are not hungry. For example: anger, boredom, fatigue, happiness, loneliness, the kids are finally in bed, our spouse is out for the evening or out of town, nervousness, anxiety, our spouse brings home candy or ice cream, etc... all may trigger an eating response. The list is endless. Habits are hard to break. We must not only break old habits, but we must make our goal to form new ones in the same manner through repetition. Make some daily commitments. Work to meet these commitments each day whether you feel like it or not. Your daily commitments will help you form good habits. Remember: "It is easier to act your way into a new way of feeling than it is to feel your way into a new way of acting."

Resisting temptation is difficult. However, if you succeed in resisting the first time, it becomes easier to resist the next time. Before long, you will have formed the good habit of resisting temptation every time it confronts you. If you yield to that temptation, you will find it easier to yield the next time.

Because of the human weaknesses mentioned, we must use what has become known among weight control groups as behavior modification. It simply means changing your behavior. These techniques work only if you consistently repeat them, so that they become a part of you.


1) Eat three meals a day. Have two or three planned snacks daily.

2) Prolong your meals by: eating slowly putting down your eating utensil between each bite do not pick up your eating utensil until you have swallowed the bite hesitating between bites, even if you're eating finger foods

3) Choose a specific place in your home or office to eat all of your meals. This will become your "designated eating place" and should not be changed. Try not to eat at your desk at work. This would make you prone to eat all day long and not just at meal time.

4) Do not do anything except eat when you sit down for a meal. Do not read, watch TV, talk on the phone, work, etc. Make yourself aware of the food you are eating. Focus on the conversation and enjoy your meal.

5) Do not keep food in any room in your house except the kitchen. Do not keep food such as cookies out on the counters. Do not store items in "see-through" containers.

6) Do not buy junk food. Neither your mate nor your children needs it.

7) If possible, serve individual plates from the stove and do not serve family style on the table. If this is not possible, put the serving dishes on the opposite end of the table.

8) Serve yourself on a smaller plate.

9) Develop a habit of leaving at least one bite of each item on your plate. If you can master this, it becomes easier to stop eating when you feel full. You will be used to leaving food on your plate.

All of the above are eating techniques that aid in behavior modification. Other behavior modification techniques not related to eating are to substitute activity for eating, which means exactly what it says-- substitute another activity for between meal snacking. If you are in the habit of going straight to the kitchen and eating every time you walk in the house, try to change this habit by going to another room of the house when you come home. Delay going into the kitchen until the desire to eat is gone. When you are tempted to eat, try to use one of the following substitute activities:

Take a walk
Take a long bath
Call a friend
Get out of the house
Write a letter
Read a book

Or busy yourself with a hobby such as:

Floral arranging
Wood working
Genealogical research
Surf the Web
Catch up on your email!!!

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Foods That Burn Fat: The Top 10 Lists
By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

Anytime the topic of discussion in my blogs, articles or newsletters has turned to my own personal grocery shopping list, there has always been a spike in interest. It seems that many people are not only curious about what foods a natural bodybuilder eats to maintain single digit body fat, but they also want to be taken by the hand and told exactly what foods to eat themselves while on fat-burning or muscle building programs. That's why I decided to put together four separate "top 10" lists of healthy foods that burn fat and build muscle.

Exact quantities and menus are not listed, just the individual foods, and of course my food intake does vary. I aim to get as many different varieties of fruits and vegetables as possible over the course of every week and there are a lot of substitutions made, so you are not seeing the full list of everything I eat, only what foods I eat most of the time.

I also want to point out that while I don't believe that extreme low carbs are necessary or most effective when you look at the long term, research has shown that there are some definite advantages to a low to moderate carb and higher protein diet for fat loss purposes. These include reduced appetite, higher thermic effect of food and "automatic" calorie control.

Personally, I reduce my carb intake moderately and temporarily prior to bodybuilding competitions. Specifically, it's the foods that are on the starchy carbs and grains list that go down during the brief pre-competition period when I'm working on that really "ripped" look. I keep the green and fibrous veggie intake very high however, along with large amounts of lean protein, small amounts of fruit, and adequate amounts of essential fats.

This list reflects my personal preferences, so this is not a prescription to all readers to eat as I do. It's very important for compliance to choose foods you enjoy and to have the option for a wide variety of choices. In the past several years, nutrition and obesity research - in studying ALL types of diets - has continued to conclude that almost any hypocaloric diet that is not completely "moronic" can work, at least in the short term.

It's not so much about the high carb - low carb argument or any other debate as much as it is about calorie control and compliance. The trouble is, restricted diets and staying in a calorie deficit is difficult, so most people can't stick with any program and they fall off the wagon, whichever wagon that may be.

I believe that a lot of our attention needs to shift away from pointless debates (for example, low carb vs. high carb is getting really old… so like… get over it everyone, its a calorie deficit that makes you lose weight, not the amount of carbs).

Instead, our focus should shift towards these questions:

* How can we build an eating program that we can enjoy while still getting us leaner and healthier?
* How can we build an eating program that helps us control calories?
* How can we build an eating program that improves compliance?

Here's one good answer: Eat a wide variety of high nutrient density, low calorie density foods that you enjoy which still fit within healthy, fat-burning, muscle-building guidelines!

Here are the lists of foods I choose to achieve these three outcomes. This eating plan is not difficult to stick with at all, by the way. I enjoy eating like this and it feels almost weird not to eat like this after doing it for so long.

Remember, habits work in both directions, and as motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said, "Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with and good habits are hard to form but easy to live with."

These are listed in the order I frequently consume them. So for example, if oatmeal is on the top of the list, it means that is the food I am most likely to eat every single day.

My 10 top natural starchy carb and whole grains

1. Oatmeal (old fashioned)
2. Yams
3. Brown rice (a favorite is basmati, a long grain aromatic rice)
4. Sweet potatoes (almost same as yams)
5. Multi grain hot cereal (mix or barley, oats, rye. titricale and a few others)
6. White potatoes
7. 100% whole wheat bread
8. 100% whole wheat pasta
9. Beans (great for healthy chili recipes)
10. Cream of rice hot cereal

My Top 10 top vegetables

1. Broccoli
2. Asparagus
3. Spinach
4. Salad greens
5. Tomatoes
6. Peppers (green, red or yellow)
7. Onions
8. Mushrooms
9. Cucumbers
10. Zucchini

My top 10 lean proteins

1. Egg whites (whole eggs in limited quantities)
2. Whey or Casein protein (protein powder supplements)
3. Chicken Breast
4. Salmon (wild Alaskan)
5. Turkey Breast
6. Top round steak (grass fed beef)
7. Flank Steak (grass fed beef)
8. Lean Ground Turkey
9. Bison/Buffalo
10. Trout

My top 10 fruits

1. Grapefruit
2. Apples
3. Blueberries
4. Canteloupe
5. Oranges
6. Bananas
7. Peaches
8. Grapes
9. Strawberries
10. Pineapple

Note: I DO include healthy fats as well, such as walnuts, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil (supplement - not to cook with), avocado and a few others.

Also, I do eat dairy products and have nothing against them, nor am I lactose intolerant. I simply don't eat as much dairy as the rest of the stuff on my lists. When I eat dairy, its usually skim milk, low or non fat cottage cheese, low or non fat yogurt and low or non fat cheese (great for omelettes).

Last but not least, I usually follow a compliance rate of about 95%, which means I take two or three meals per week of whatever I want (stuff that is NOT on these lists - like pizza, sushi, big fatty restaurant steaks, etc)

I hope you found this helpful and interesting. Keep in mind, this is MY food list, and although you probably couldn't go wrong to emulate it, you need to choose natural foods you enjoy in order to develop habits you can stick with long term. In the fruits and vegetables categories alone, there are hundreds of other choices out there, so enjoy them all!

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Wu Long Tea (oolong tea): Does it really help you lose weight?
By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

You've probably seen the advertisements:

"Drink wu long tea and lose a jeans size every 7 days!"…

"Burn 20 lbs of fat in 30 days with wu long tea!" …

Maybe you even watched Oprah a few years ago when Dr. Perricone said that switching your coffee for green tea would help you take off the pounds.

You may have also read or watched countless news stories which say how healthy it is to drink green tea.

The odds are good that if you're interested in improving your health and losing fat, you probably either drink tea, take a green tea supplement or you've at least thought about it.

But what if I told you that most of the fat reducing claims for green tea were absolute, total BS, based on misinterpretation or deliberate misreporting of the research?

Unfortunately, it's true. If you've bought green tea based on the claim that it causes large reductions in body fat, then you have been scammed.

Here are the facts:

Green tea DOES stimulate your metabolism.

However, the research is very unclear about what kind of impact this small, short term increase in metabolism will have on your bodyweight in the long term.

In the most often quoted study (Dulloo, 1999), A swiss research team found that 270 mg of green tea extract 3X a day increased metabolic rate by the equivalent of about 79 calories on average and increased the oxidation of fat as the fuel source.

If you do the math, it appears that 79 kcal a day would add up to an extra pound of fat lost every 44 days. Not much, but you'll take it, right? Hypothetically, that would add up to an extra 8 pounds lost per year.

What advertisements quoting this study don't tell you is that this and other similar studies did not even measure long term change in body fat percentage or bodyweight. They only measured a 24- hour increase in energy expenditure.

One study which is used as marketing ammunition to claim that wu long tea burns 2.5 times more fat than green tea was based only on a 120-minute increase in energy expenditure! (reminds me of that Mark Twain quote: "There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.")
Numerous follow up studies have confirmed the short term increase in metabolism, but the studies are mixed on whether green tea improves weight reduction or maintenance in the long term.

The research IS compelling, but not conclusive.

As for ad claims that say you'll lose a lot of weight just from drinking green tea… absolute BS! Hopefully the Federal Trade Commission will catch up with these scammers sooner rather than later, as the marketing messages on the Internet are getting louder and bolder every day.
As for health benefits - green tea is certainly a champ. It's high in antioxidants and there are more than 2,000 research citations about potential health benefits of green tea (not to mention a 5,000 year history of use in China and the far east).

Even if you're a skeptic, green tea is hard not to like and it's hard to dispute that it's a good idea to add green tea to your nutrition program as one part of a well-balanced fitness lifestyle.

But when it comes to claims for large and rapid losses in bodyweight and bodyfat, (especially the wu long tea ads that are currently all over the internet), buyer beware.

The science we do have says that the thermogenic effect of green tea - while very real - is also very small.

Train hard and expect success always,

Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Fat Loss Coach

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Emotional Eating: When Diets Don’t Work
By Healthhabits

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food in response to feelings instead of hunger.

Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.
And believe it or not, 100% of experts believe that obesity is caused by overeating.

And with researchers forecasting that by 2030, 86.3% of American adults will be overweight or obese, maybe, just maybe we should take a closer look at Emotional Eating and it’s cousin Binge Eating.

A Closer Look

Over the centuries, human beings have evolved to thrive on certain types of food. Sure, we can survive on lesser quality food, but our health will suffer for it.

The Good Stuff:

Vegetables, Fruit, unprocessed Animal Protein, and smaller quantities of Seeds, Nuts, Grains and Dairy.

Keep in mind that there is a wide variety of human dietary practices based upon geography and food availability. But this list encompasses pretty much all of the good stuff.

The Bad Stuff:

Processed foods - The more processed they are, the worse they are for our health. e.g. Trans Fats, High Fructose Corn Syrup and just about any kid’s meal at a fast-food restaurant.

So, how come “when you’re happy, your food of choice could be steak or pizza, when you’re sad it could be ice cream or cookies and when you’re bored it could be potato chips.

Food does more than fill our stomachs. It also satisfies feelings, and when you quench those feelings with comfort food when your stomach isn’t growling, that’s emotional eating.

And emotional eating seldom involves the good stuff. Our bad moods drive use towards the processed foods that satisfy our taste buds, defective insulin receptors and most importantly our serotonin receptors.

Ahhh serotonin. Wonderful stuff. Powerful stuff.

So what’s the big deal?

What’s wrong with treating myself after a hard day?

Well, this tendency to use certain foods as though they were drugs is a frequent cause of weight gain, and can also be seen in patients who become fat when exposed to stress

So, How Can I Tell The Difference Between Real Hunger And Emotional Hunger?

There are several differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger:

  1. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually.

  1. When you are eating to fill a void that isn’t related to an empty stomach, you crave a specific food, usually something creamy or sweet or salty or crunchy or all of the above. And only that particular food will meet your need. Actual hunger usually doesn’t involve such specific cravings.

  1. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave; physical hunger can wait.

  1. Even when you are full, if you’re eating to satisfy an emotional need, you’re more likely to keep eating. When you’re eating because you’re hungry, you’re more likely to stop when you’re full.

  1. Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt; eating when you are physically hungry does not.

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