Yo Yo Dieting

You would think that the problem most overweight people have with diets is lack of motivation and discipline. Apparently this isn’t always the case and it is in fact their motivation to lose weight quickly that leads to their downfall.

If you decided one day that you’ve had enough of being a sack of blubber then you’re likely to want to drop your excess weight as quickly as possible. This begins a chain of events that more often than not brings you back exactly where you started.

You begin by drastically decreasing your intake as well making huge modifications to the types of food you consume. For the first couple of days you feel fine as hunger hasn’t set in yet and you wonder what the big deal is about dieting.

Then slowly you start to feel the effects of your fasting but you take pleasure in the slight empty feeling in your stomach. This is when you step on the scales to see the results of your 3 days of dieting. Unsurprisingly you haven’t lost any weight. Although you may rationally understand that you haven’t given your system enough time to lose weight you are demoralized and your initial extreme dedication starts to fray at the edges.

Then real hunger pangs begin to set in. Making every possible excuse for yourself you wander around looking for a chance to cheat. You find it in the form of a cupcake and tell yourself that exceptions are fine. Your fat tongue tastes the chocolate and sends pleasure hormones exploding throughout your brain. The battle has now been lost. You bounce back to your old ways and probably find that you are even fatter than before.

So what went wrong? Your expectations weren’t properly managed. The most effective diets make small adjustments and show results over months rather than days. These are also much less likely to result in the yo-yo effect.

High Protein Diets

It’s no secret that when it comes to gaining muscle, protein is the most important aspect of your diet. Not only do the amino acids in protein build muscle, but recent research shows that they also make you feel more full than foods with high carbs and fat. This means that you can effectively gain muscle and lose fat at the same time by maintaining a high protein diet. There is no need to first ‘bulk up’ with high calorie carb intensive food and then slim down once the muscle is built. Contrary to popular belief you can do both at the same time.

Building muscle and losing fat forms a positive feedback after a while, as increasing amounts of muscle tissue require more energy than fat cells, so your metabolism will speed up. This means you will lose fat naturally by gaining muscle. So you should try to shift your gym routine more toward the free weight section rather than the cardio area. Cardio is still important, but you may want to focus on interval training, rather than endurance style cardio. This is because interval training boosts the lactic acid limit and increases your weight lifting performance.

The great part about a high protein diet is that it doesn’t really matter if you ‘overdose’ on protein. The body will simply expel any excess protein as urine. You should only be concerned with consuming excessive amounts of protein if you have kidney problems, as high amounts of protein can place a strain on kidney function.

For healthy and natural sources of protein look to foods such as lean meat, chicken, fish, egg whites, no fat milk and yoghurt, tofu and kidney beans. These should be consumed in small parcels equally spaced throughout the day. If you feel you haven’t had enough protein one day you can choose to drink some in the form of a protein shake.

Good Fat VS Bad Fat

A recent study conducted at Cambridge University indicates that maintaining a low fat diet is only effective at preventing heart disease if good fat is consumed. The study was conducted with over 20,000 participants over the age of 45. That means it’s time to take the good vs. bad fat talk seriously and start segregating your foods.

So which fats are good for you? Unsurprisingly it’s the ones that taste the worst, such as nuts, seeds, fish, avodacos and vegetable based oils – anything with Omega 6. These will keep your arteries from clogging up and prevent heart problems. Which fats are the bad ones? Pretty much anything you find at fast food joints, such as deep fried meat, chips, batter and mayonnaise. The worst possible type of fat is trans fat, which is effectively a double barrelled shotgun aimed straight at your heart, in that it both raises your bad cholesterol levels and lowers your good cholesterol levels. The interesting part of the study is that the people who cut out the bad fats did not protect themselves as much from heart disease as those that both cut out the bad fats and maintained the intake of good fats.

Once again it seems that the individual constituents of our meals are not as important as the combinations that we consume. Suddenly imposing a ‘no fat’ policy in your diet is not the way to go. Rather you should create a healthier balance and not be adamant about excluding everything that doesn’t have 0% fat. Remember also that it isn’t fat, but carbohydrates, that will make you gain weight.

The study is by far the most accurate so far because the participants had their blood tested before and after the change of diets. The blood works showed that the cholesterol responded to a reduction of bad fat, but responded even better to a reduction of bad fat and an increase in good fat.

Diet Goggles

diet goggles

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have come up with a new way to shed excess weight – by tricking the brain via virtual reality goggles. The so-called ‘diet goggles’ work by increasing the perceived visual size of the meal you are about to consume, thereby fooling the brain into making you feel more full than the actual meal would warrant.

diet goggles

Could a pair of these.. well, something like these, help you lose weight? How about getting off your butt and doing some exercise instead!

The premise is very simple – in order to lose weight you need to control the amount of food you consume. The problem with this is that most of us have trouble dealing with the hunger that results from a dissatisfying portion. Eliminating this hunger is the key to not reaching for seconds. Of course there have been other ways to control this urge before this high-tech solution came along, such as diet pills and stomach staples, but all of these are potentially harmful or invasive. The diet goggles offer a solution that relies entirely on visual input and in no way influences your body. (There is another way of not eating too much, once known as self-discipline, but that was lost sometime in the 21st century).

The gadget works by filming a live feed of the food you are about to consume to image altering software that increases the size of the portion and relays it to the viewing helmet for you to see.

The effectiveness of the diet goggles was tested via an experiment in which people were asked to consume food until they were full. The results showed that when the size of the meal was increased by a factor of 1.5 by the goggles, people ate on average only 90% of those without the goggles. Similarly, when the size of the meal was shrunk to 66% of its actual size, people with the goggles ate 15% more than the control group.

This experiment contradicts the popular view that hunger is dominated by the contents of the stomach and the corresponding signals sent to the brain. Rather it seems that there is a significant psychological factor affected by what we see.

Some sceptics believe that the effects of the experiment are not sustainable and that the stomach would eventually become wise to the trick and adapt to the altered visual input. Furthermore, even if the goggles allow you to eat less at one point in the day, the result may even be detrimental as you may end up feeling hungrier at a later stage, at which point your brain won’t be fooled as easily.

You can read more about the diet goggles here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/18354895

Bodybuilding Meals on a Budget

The following is a cheap, fast, tasty and easy way to prepare multiple portions for high protein, low calorie meals that are very effective as nutrition for those wanting to gain muscle and lose fat.

One easy meal for high protein is grilled chicken and vegetables. All you need for this is a grill. Start by placing frozen vegetables on tin foil. Then cook them.. duh. I guess if you can’t do the rest of this you’ve probably died of starvation by now.

Some people claim that fresh vegetables are healthier than frozen ones, but this isn’t always the case. With frozen vegetables, farmers can freeze them at their maximum ripeness. They then retain all their vitamins until you cook them. However, with fresh vegetables, they are picked early so as to look their best on the supermarket shelves at the time of delivery. This means you are not necessarily eating them at their best.

Another easy meal is to combine frozen vegetables with egg whites in a frying pan. If you like you can include one egg yolk for flavor, but try to limit the amount of yolks you eat, as they don’t contain nearly as much protein per calorie as the egg white. (Let’s face it, egg whites with frozen vegetables in a pan is stretching the “tasty” part of this diet, based on my personal experience).

You can also combine tinned tuna, sweetcorn, high protein yoghurt and paprika and spread this on rye bread. (Again, absolutely revolting unless you’re dedicated to your diet – good luck with this one).

For breakfast, try rolled oats with either low fat milk or high protein yoghurt, in combination with your selection of fruit. Surprisingly, this actually tastes quite nice.

Can Vegetarians be Bodybuilders?

Can Vegetarians be Bodybuilders

The short answer is yes. Vegetarians that eat dairy products and beans will get all the necessary protein and vitamins they require to build muscle. Contrary to the classic image of a bodybuilder’s diet, you do not need to eat copious amounts of meat to get results. In fact this could be damaging as you are also getting huge amounts of cholesterol and animal fat. Vegetarians get all the same benefits as meat eaters, but only a fraction of the calories. It should be noted that this does not apply to vegans – people who eat no animal products whatsoever, including eggs and milk. Vegans will not be able to build muscle as vegetarians or meat eaters, as their diet is lacking in the necessary protein.

Can Vegetarians be Bodybuilders

The protein quantity and quality in egg whites and low fat milk are actually higher than those in meat and chicken. So as long as you make sure to consume sufficient protein, regardless of the source, at regular intervals throughout the day you will achieve the same results whether or not you eat meat. The only non-vegetarian food that is unbeatable in terms of protein to calorie content is tuna. One tin will give you enough protein for one of your five meals a day, but only a third of the necessary calories.

How To Plan Your Meals

How To Plan Your Meals

People usually get rather disciplined when it comes to the gym. Sometime in January, we decide that it’s time to stop living like an over-fed slug and get some exercise. This then results in a new gym membership, a bunch of new clothes and equipment, and an impending sense of failure. For those that keep their new year’s resolution going past February, you’ve passed the worst bit. The first 30 days of any new habit are the most difficult to become accustomed to. After that, your body will actually become addicted to exercise, and will begin to demand a workout at regular intervals. It is at this stage that the gym stops being a chore and starts becoming something you look forward to.

The part that people usually underestimate – and consequently fail at – is their diet. This is not entirely surprising, as most of us turn to unreliable resources for information about nutrition. There are a lot of rumours, urban legends, and downright false information floating around about food – and it’s up to you to do proper research and separate the truth from the hype.

How To Plan Your Meals

One thing you can do for your meal plan straight away, is to stop listening to every new piece of ‘research’ that comes out about diet. If you look at a long enough period of time, these studies become conflicting and contradictory, and sometimes even show themselves to be plain wrong. This is because there is a lot of funding available for soft sciences such as nutritional studies. Rich people are highly concerned about their diets, as they don’t have much else to worry about, and so this area is being constantly flooded with money and resources.

So be selective when it comes to finding out the facts. Look only at reputable science journals, and only take account of studies that have been published. Avoid turning to fitness and vanity magazines for advice about fitness and nutrition (and anything else really). The reason to only take advice from published papers, is that sometimes ‘research’ groups will create a marketing campaign for themselves, by leaking a rumour to a newspaper. This is usually easily detectable, as they tend to promise unrealistic results. Red flags here include phrases such as ‘chocolate is good for you’, ‘you only need to exercise for 2 minutes a day’ and ‘eat whatever you want’. There are no short cuts when it comes to losing weight, and you will have to sacrifice a lot, no matter what anyone claims.

So on to your meal plan. The first thing you need to do is to think about your goals. Do you want to lose fat? Do you want to gain muscle? Do you want to lose fat and gain muscle? Your meal plans will vary considerably, depending on which of these applies to you. As you can imagine, the most difficult of these three options is the last one. If you would like to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, you will need to put maximum effort in, and be willing to spend a year sticking to your program to see results.

So once you have figured out your goal, you need to find your corresponding calorie requirements. These will depend on your age, weight and gender (mostly weight). You then need to factor in the amount of protein you require on a daily basis. If your goal is just to lose fat, this is not of paramount importance, as you will receive sufficient protein from a normal healthy diet. However, if you would like to gain muscle, you need to get sufficient protein. This last point can’t be stressed enough – if you don’t have enough protein in your diet, you will fail at bodybuilding. Not only that, but a lot of your weights workouts will be wasted and in vain, because you are not supplying your body with enough building blocks with which to build muscle.

Protein consists of chains of amino acids. It is the amino acids that your body uses to repair muscle tissue after weight lifting. What is actually happening is that you are damaging your muscle by lifting weight, in the form of an inflammation. This inflammation manifests itself in the form of micro tears in the muscle fibre. The body then uses amino acids to repair these tears, and create an extra layer of muscle tissue in order to reduce further tears. Over many months, you will notice that this process becomes visible in the form of muscle mass.

So how much protein do you need? Once again, this will depend on your age, weight and gender. However, a good approximation can be made by only taking your weight into account. If you want to build muscle, most studies agree that you require about 1g of protein per pound of body mass. That means if you weigh 180 pounds, you will need to consume 180g of protein per day, in order to supply your body with what it needs to gain lean weight.

One popular mistake is to think that your daily requirement of protein can be taken all at once, say in the form of a large steak in the evening. This is false, and if you portion your protein this way, you will fail at bodybuilding and at life (OK, I do get carried away from time to time). The reason this approach is fundamentally flawed, is that the body is not able to store protein in the way that it can store carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can be eaten in the morning, and then burned throughout the day. Protein, on the other hand, is only used by the body when it is required – i.e. for muscle repair and growth. If you give your body one huge portion of protein per day, it will use what it needs, and expel the rest as urine. This means you will be wasting a great deal of effort at the gym, as the rest of the day your body will be asking for amino acids that have already been expelled and are no longer available.

The correct way to consume protein is in small portions throughout the day. Optimally, you should divide your total daily protein requirements into 5 or 6 portions, and eat them at regular 2-3 hour intervals. This way, you are providing your system with a constant stream of amino acids, and you won’t run out or take an excess amount. If this sounds difficult and annoying, you’re right, it is. But do you want results, or do you want to keep adding holes to your belt?

The correct way to plan your meals, therefore, is to take both your calorie and protein requirements, and portion them into 5-6 small meals, to be consumed throughout the day. The reason your calories need to be portioned this way, in addition to the protein, is that you should aim to keep your energy and insulin levels as steady as possible. If these levels are steady, your body interprets this as there being plentiful food available, and thus no need to store energy in the form of fat. Alternatively, if you only eat once or twice a day (as sumo wrestlers do), your body will switch to ‘starvation mode’. In this case, it interprets your eating habits as food being scarce, and therefore starts storing fat wherever possible.

As an example of an effective meal plan, a 180 pound male who is looking to lose fat and gain muscle, should consume 2200 calories and 180g of protein per day. If he splits this up into 5 small meals throughout the day, each meal should contain 440 calories and 36g of protein. If you start reading nutritional labels, you will soon realise that this sort of calorie to protein ratio is not easily achievable. You will need to very meticulously and deliberately seek out food with the highest possible protein to calorie ratio in order to achieve correct balance. Most likely, you will need to make adjustments in foods that you are already consuming. For instance, when eating a sandwich, use only rye bread and slice it as thinly as possible. For the sandwich filling, use as much lean meat as possible, and limit high-calorie foods such as cheese.

If in doubt, look up the exact nutritional information of everything you eat, and use kitchen scales to figure out the exact portions. Once you have lost enough fat for your goals, the above process will become more relaxed, as you can start looking for meal combinations that have a higher calorie to protein ratio. For instance, our 180 pound man will still need 180g of protein, but will be able to consume 2700 calories per day, rather than just 2200. This will introduce a lot more flexibility in his meals, and keep his body fat percentage steady.

So remember to introduce the same discipline in the kitchen as you are already showing at the gym. Finding an effective diet is every bit as important as exercise in achieving your fitness goals.

The Zone Diet

So what does the field of biotechnology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Zone Diet have in common?

Nothing, except for the fact that Barry Sears who is the founder of the Zone Diet had something to do with each of these factors. Of course, his book ‘Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road Map’, a New York best-seller that promises much more than weight loss, by saying that a person who follows this diet will find themselves “feeling alert, refreshed and full of energy”.

Being a researcher, his claim is that the diet helps the body to work in “a metabolic state in which the body works at maximum efficiency” by maintaining a diet of 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates.

If that’s not enough, you can find yourself decreasing the risk of diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes and what’s more – increase your performance levels as an athlete.

But there’s more to the Zone diet than empty promises because it is backed up with Sears’ theory and diet regimen which is all about controlling hormones such as insulin, glucagon, and eicosanoids, and that comes from eating every meal with a protein-to-carbohydrate ratio of 0.75 along with not allowing five hours or more to pass between each meal.

Fresh vegetables and fruits apart from leafy green vegetables while not forgetting eight glasses of water a day are some of the common tenets of the Zone Diet, and while you will only gain access to the recipes if you purchase Sears’ books or try a website such as FormulaZone, there is no doubt that most people who have tried this diet have given it a thumbs-up for both the science that it is based on as well as the positive results that they have seen with this diet.

The Low Fat Diet

low-fat-diet

It’s a known fact that the yolk of the chicken egg contains the most cholesterol that you will find in most foods yet until they found that this form of animal cholesterol doesn’t affect the heart in any way, doctors recommended that the egg yolk was best avoided!

It only goes to show how much we are really sure of when it comes to health in terms of a proper diet, however, there’s one thing that you can count on – it’s the omission of certain types of fat from your food that can reduce cholesterol levels, and thus prevent heart disease or even a stroke while being an aid for losing weight.

Yes, we’re talking about the harmful saturated and Trans fats as opposed to the unsaturated fats that are good for you. Once you watch out for these fats and are selective about foods that contain these nutrients, you will find yourself on a low fat diet.

Going on a diet such as this one doesn’t mean you eliminate all fats as some of them are required for the body such as the essential fatty acids including monounsaturated fats that not only lower cholesterol levels but tend to increase good cholesterol as well.

Yet another thing to take into consideration when choosing to go on a low fat diet is to avoid foods that are high in sugar while not forgetting that it also helps in losing weight only if it is undertaken step-by-step and one day at a time for a long duration rather than as a crash diet.

Not only should you eat your food slower, don’t forget to add foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, beans, low fat meats, fish and skinless poultry. Finally, in consulting a dietician, you’ll find that they will recommend eating 4-6 small meals a day.

The Negative Calorie Diet

The equation is simple: You eat foods loaded with calories, and your desire to lose weight will only remain a dream. Almost every diet that you can find out there is busy crunching numbers so that you can reduce the number of calories you can consume, thus reducing or maintaining weight in both the short and the long term.

In this regard, the negative calorie diet is different from the rest, and despite the argument by prominent experts who say that there are no “negative calorie” foods, this diet is based on the fact that for the body to assimilate the nutrients of the foods in this diet, fat has to be burnt in order to do so.

Take for example an orange which is about 50 calories. According to the theory surrounding the negative calorie diet, the body burns up more food energy in order to digest the food as opposed to the 50 calories that the orange provides. So every time you eat food that is low in calories, this negative calorie effect takes place making it very easy for you to lose weight without needing to work out regularly. Yet there’s a factor that must be taken into consideration for the success of this diet: your metabolism rate.

Critics have also pointed out that most of the foods that are considered to be negative calorie foods by this diet isn’t so and that the idea of the body burning more calories than the food consumed hasn’t been proven yet – however, there are several people who have considered this diet to work for them.

Interestingly, most of the foods on this diet are either fruits or vegetables, and since many people might not be able to live on such a stringent diet, it is a good idea to replace your snacks with the foods recommended with this diet.

Here’s an article that gives you a list of foods that burn more calories than they contain.

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