Author Archive for Sarah Murphy

Good Calories Bad Calories Review – the Low Carb Diet it is

I recently had the privilege to read the best book about diet and nutrition I have come across to date, and believe me, I have read enough these books to be in a position to form an opinion on this matter. Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories, which took him 5 years to write, is a wonderful addition to the published literature on this bewildering industry. It is well researched and the information provided is supported by plenty of references and citations. Good Calories, Bad Calories almost provides you with a much-needed set of reading glasses to bring focus to all of the confusing public health debates and the jumble that is the diet industry.

In Good Calories, Bad Calories Gary tells the story of how public nutrition guidelines and the current scientific positions on diet and nutrition evolved. Of how strong and dominant personalities can influence the scientific community to accept unproven theories as facts. As this story progresses it also becomes clear how many of the diets we know today came into existence. It becomes clear for example when fat and salt were identified as major problems as well as why and when the so-called Mediterranean Diet became popular. Of course the book in essence considers the long standing debate raging between proponents of the low-fat calorie restricted diet and the carbohydrate restricted (low carb) diet.

In an attempt to provide a complete view of the debate, Gary describes the scientific evidence supporting both the restriction of fats (as well as calories) and the restriction of carbohydrates as a solution to the obesity crisis. What is also interesting is Gary’s holistic take on this matter. Not only is weight management important, but so are all of the other health related results of a particular diet. It does appear that many clinical trials and studies were very selective in interpreting the results of their studies, and that there are plenty of evidence to suggest that the introduction of refined carbs into a diet increases the incidence of many of the so-called diseases of civilization such as insulin resistance, type 2 Diabetes, cancer and so forth.
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Low Carb Diet vs Low Fat Diet – which is best to lose weight


To this day, scientists are at odds as to whether the low fat or the low carb weight loss strategy is the most effective for losing those extra pounds. On the 25th of January 2010 a study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that directly compare the low fat weight loss approach to the typical low carb diet.

One hundred and forty six obese or overweight outpatients from the Department of Veterans Affairs clinics in North Carolina were selected to participate in the study and randomly assigned to either a low carbohydrate diet group or a low fat diet group. The study was conducted over a period of almost a year (48 weeks).

The low carb diet was designed as a ketogenic diet and patients were instructed to consume less than 20g carbs daily. A ketogenic diet can be described as a high fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fat rather than glucose, which it normally manufactures from carbohydrates. The liver converts fats into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which then replaces the glucose as a source of energy. This dietary approach is very similar to the Atkins Diet, which also limits carbs to 20g per day during the Induction Phase.

The low fat diet designed for this study went all out to reduce fat and patients were prescribed Orlistat (120mg 3 times daily) together with a diet very low in fat content. Orlistat is the active ingredient found in Alli and Xenical. Xenical is most often prescribed by doctors for weight problems, while Alli is available over the counter. The low fat eating plan followed by participants was designed to result in a deficit in caloric intake to the tune of 500 to 1000 calories per day. Patients were also expected to ensure that less than 30% of the calories they consume come from fat.

The average weight loss achieved by patients following the low carb diet (without any diet pills or calorie restrictions) equaled the average weight loss for patients following the low fat regime. Keep in mind that the low fat group also had to take diet pills in addition to reducing their calorie intake. HDL and triglyceride cholesterol levels improved similarly for both diet groups. LDL cholesterol levels improved only for the low fat group, whereas the low carb diet had a greater beneficial impact on systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The low carb diet was also slightly more beneficial for glucose and insulin levels, but the differences were not large enough to be regarded as statistically relevant.

The conclusion drawn from this study by the scientists was that a low carbohydrate diet is as effective as orlistat in conjunction with a low fat diet for weight loss and improvement in blood sugar levels, but it is more effective in lowering blood pressure. It is suggested that a low carb diet may be a better weight loss strategy for obese clients with high blood pressure than the typically prescribed treatment of a low fat diet with orlistat.
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Seven strategies to keep on losing weight over the holidays


It is that time of the year again. The long awaited December festive season. Friends and families plan to spend long lazy days around tables laden with the most tempting of foods. Everyone is excited to be together. There are lots of laughs, and sometimes (especially when we spend time with family) the occasional fight. In the midst of the excitement you may even have occasion to get bored. Ever notice how the same stories often get told and retold at Christmas time? Whatever the emotion or the occasion, holiday foods will be available in abundance to treat you, amuse you and console you. It may seem downright impossible to stick to your diet during the holiday season, but take note of the seven weight loss tips below and you may even be able to lose some weight. At the very least, you can minimize the damage. Every pound you gain over the next couple of weeks have to be dealt with next year after all.

  1. Keep your blood sugar levels stable by eating regular healthy meals and snacks that contain plenty of protein and fiber. Remember that simple carbs like sugar and baked goods cause huge fluctuations in your blood sugar which in turn makes it difficult for you to resist temptation. Eat something healthy at least every 4 hours. Examples of good snacks are assorted fresh vegetables with humus dips, almonds and peanuts roasted in the shell. Cheese and wholemeal crackers can also make wonderful snacks, but stick to small portions.
  2. Keep a water bottle with you all the time. You will be surprised how many unnecessary calories water can save you from. Tell yourself you can have any treat you want provided you have half a glass to a glass of water first. Then enjoy the treat. Not only will you automatically eat less, but your energy levels will be up and you will be much more in control of your appetite.
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Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: it actually works

Are you ready for a surprise? You will be forgiven if you have heard of the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet before and immediately dismissed it as just another fad diet; maybe something like the Cabbage Soup Diet, or the Lemon Detox Diet. It turns out there is more to the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet than meets the eye. A recent scientific study on weight loss confirmed the claim that a couple of tablespoons of vinegar (or vinegar diet pills) before meals can actually help melt those spare pounds away!

Two tablespoons of vinegar before each meal help your body maintain the necessary balance in your blood sugar levels to keep those dreaded food cravings at bay. The ingestion of carbohydrate rich foods cause a spike in your blood sugar levels immediately following the meal, which explains why our bodies love carbs so much. The sugar rush makes us feel so good. The initial spike in your blood sugar levels is then followed by a severe drop in blood sugar levels an hour or two later because your body overcompensated for the increased blood sugar levels by releasing too much insulin. Low blood sugar levels in turn result in feelings of hunger and food cravings. Your body is programmed to try and re-balance your blood sugar levels and before you know it, you are hungry again and caught in a vicious cycle of overeating.

Apple cider vinegar taken before a meal will reduce the sugar load into your bloodstream immediately following that meal. The energy contained in the food will be released slower and more gradually. You will feel fuller for longer and eat less because you are more in control of you appetite. For a more in depth discussion see this weight loss research article on the relationship between apple cider vinegar and slimming. It is fair to say that you will most probably see the same results with most types of vinegar, so if you don’t like apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar can be a great alternative. If you don’t like vinegar in its liquid form at all, help is available in the form of diet supplements.
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Macrobiotic Diet Review – healthy weight loss plan but not easy

The Macrobiotic Diet is much more than just a weight loss plan. It is a way of life where followers are guided to adopt a new way of life that integrates physical and spiritual health. The name of the Macrobiotic Diet is derived from the Greek word “macro” meaning large or long, and “bios” meaning life. So – a diet designed for a long life. The term “macrobiotics” was first used by Hippocratus, the father of Western Medicine, to describe people who were healthy and long-lived.

George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher, developed the original Macrobiotic Diet and philosophy. He took his teachings over to the United States in the 1950s. Michio Kushi, one of Ohsawa’s pupils later refined and popularized this diet. The Kushi Institute was opened in Boston in 1978. Kushi and his wife, Aveline Kushi, published a number of books on the Macrobiotic Diet.

Followers of the Macrobiotic Diet believe there is a strong relationship between food and the mind, body and spirit – and that our lives really are affected in many ways by what we eat, when we eat, and how we eat. The nutritional approach this diet is based on is in essence a low fat, high fiber diet; emphasizing locally grown whole grains and vegetables with plenty of beans and soy products. The basic vegetarian diet is supplemented by small amounts of fish, nuts and fruit. Macrobiotics discourages the use of processed or refined foods and clearly identifies refined sugar as one of the major culprits in the modern diet.

The Macrobiotic Diet goes as far as to prescribe different foods for different seasons, and for different times of the day. Food must be chosen to ensure a balance between yin and yang as per the eastern philosophy. Yin foods are described as cooling and include most fruit and vegetables. Yang foods are regarded as warming foods and include most animal products, fish, coffee, chocolate, ham and wine. Sweeter food generally holds more yin energy, while salty food contains the yang. Extremes to both sides (yin and yang) are to be avoided and foods must be selected from the middle range. Even though it is a largely vegetarian lifestyle, Macrobiotics also allows for fish and some animal products, and is therefor described as a “flexitarian” lifestyle.
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Diet Review: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle and boost you metabolism

The more you research the weight loss field the clearer it becomes that as much as we would have wished it, there just are no quick fixes or wonder drugs available. We have all been there. Every instinct is yelling out that the latest “fast and easy” or “just take a diet pill” weight loss craze is just too good to be true, but you still decide to give it a go. Not all your fault though; advertisers for these miracle cures know just which emotional buttons to push.

After many disappointments it finally dawns on you: not only are you not achieving your weight loss goals, but your weight problems are actually getting worse even though you are almost permanently on a diet. The reason for this in all probability is that all these fad diets you’ve subjected your body to actually resulted in a loss of lean muscle mass and a slower metabolism. This is the time then for you to smarten up and find a sustainable weight loss plan that will boost your metabolism and help you not only reach that goal weight, but also maintain it.


Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle 10

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End of Overeating: Food Rehab for obesity


Ever wondered why it is that when you open a pack of chocolate chip cookies you can’t stop until it is all gone? And then, while you are still eating; why are you already thinking about what else you have in your pantry? Dr David Kessler was watching an Oprah show on weight loss where one of the guests complained that she simply could not stop eating, and didn’t know why that was the case. Since Kessler didn’t know how to answer this question himself, he decided to launch a thorough investigation into why it is so hard to control compulsive overeating.

Dr David Kessler is a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He is widely acknowledged for his role in the fight against tobacco companies, as well as for his efforts to bring about better food labeling. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite was finally published earlier this year following a seven-year investigation, which involved numerous scientists, physicians, and food industry insiders. What surprised Kessler was that where he was expecting a journey into nutrition and endocrinology, he ended up inside the human brain and the food industry.

In “The End of Overeating” Kessler explains how the US obesity problem came about, and what can be done to get it under control. This easy to read book carefully explains in lay terms the science behind the current obesity epidemic. Kessler believes that modern foods (rich in fat, salt and sugar) are simply too palatable. These foods overstimulate the brain’s reward centers, all the while conditioning us to want more and more. The bottom-line? We simply eat too much and compulsive overeating becomes the norm. Many people literally get addicted to certain types of foods very much the same way as they get addicted to tobacco or drugs.
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Lose weight by fixing your life with Tony Robbins

There is a reason we have the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees”. In reading the biographies of great men and women in history, we invariably find that almost all of them had one thing in common: they were able to take a step back, see the big picture, see the real problem and come up with a real solution. When we consider our approach to losing weight, it very quickly becomes clear that many of us are so obsessed with our weight that we are too involved to correctly identify the problem, the solution, and the actions required. Making matters worse, many of the professionals that are supposed to help us lose weight are also so focused on the task of helping us into skinny jeans that many of them also fall into the same trap of tunnel vision.

Let’s review our standard approach for getting back into shape: we jump straight in, get the shock of our lives to find out how much we weigh at that stage, calculate our goal weight, choose an action plan (a diet or weigh loss program), and force ourselves to stick to the chosen diet with all our might. In our desperation we very often choose the wrong diet, because all of that excess weight has to come off quickly right? Since we can’t lose weight really fast following a healthy diet, we very often opt for the latest fad diet. Just look around you and you’ll notice many of them, for example the Lemon Detox Diet or the Cabbage Soup Diet. Many desperate dieters also resort to taking potentially dangerous weight loss pills such as Hydroxycut or Imelda Perfect Slim. While there may be short term losses on the scales, fad diets do more damage than good in the longer run, and before we know it, we are even bigger than when we started. At the end of each yo-yo down and up cycle we feel worse about ourselves and become even more obsessed with our weight problems. And so the viscous cycle continues.


One Decision Can Change Your Life Forever

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Eat this not that and make a difference to your bottom line


Sometimes we need to take a step back and just be sensible and pragmatic about how we approach our weight loss efforts. Time and again we notice how small changes in our lifestyles can account for big and sustainable changes on the scales. We all know we need to follow a balanced diet, preferably cooked at home using only natural products. Great in theory…but in practice life happens.

In the real world many of us are running around like crazy all day, and very often simply do not have the time or the energy to prepare home-cooked meals. It is also just then when everything goes pear shaped. We choose from limited options, but make the right choices. Or so we think… The truth is that unless you’ve made it yourself, you simply do not know what ingredients have been used in restaurant food, take out foods, or even supermarket products. No wonder so many people, claiming to eat well, just keep on gaining weight.

It is for this reason I absolutely love the series of books “Eat This Not That” written by David Zinchenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine, and Matt Goulding, the food and nutrition editor of Men’s Health. These books contain a wealth of information that comes in extremely handy when faced with everyday choices. They cover just about any situation, from food choices at restaurants and fast food outlets to supermarket foods. They are also specifically tailored to different audiences, including families and kids, so you can choose that which is most applicable to your lifestyle.
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Stop drinking sugar-sweetened drinks and start losing weight

We will probably never know exactly what caused the current obesity epidemic in the developed world. It is in all probability the result of many different converging events and influences, rather than the result of a single issue. Some of the theories put forward in recent years to explain the sudden increase in obesity related problems since the 1970’s include the popularization of the low fat diet, the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of westerners, and also the fact that the consumption of calories in liquid form increased in parallel with the obesity epidemic.

A research study prompted by the latter theory, namely the increase in the intake of calories in liquid form, was recently published by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The objective of this study was to determine exactly how changes in the consumption of liquid calories affect weight change among adults. The results of the study were conclusive. What you drink may be even more important than what you eat if you want to lose weight!

Obviously the researchers had to be very careful to reduce the effects of so many other variables on the weight of an adult to isolate the impact of the beverages. The study was conducted over a period of 18 months, and 810 adults participated. Measurements of dietary intake, weight and height were made at baseline, 6 months, and at 18 months. The measurement of the dietary intake of participants throughout the course of the trial was done by conducting unannounced 24 hour dietary recalls via the telephone.
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