What does it mean for my diet when they say calorie or kcal

Question: Okay, if 1 kCal equals 1000 calories, then my 20 oz cup of herbal tea is giving me 36000 calories?!? Heck, I might never eat or drink again if that’s the case! I think somebody entered something in wrong, either that or I’m missing something. Here I am thinking that I’m staying within my guidelines and I keep coming up with all these insane calorie counts! Help?

Answer: This is a fair question and it is easy to get confused on this since most diet websites do not stick to the scientific conventions and loosely talk about calories for convenience’s sake. Most often, whenever you see references to calories (or cal) in popular magazines or non-scientific websites, you can assume that they refer to kcal or kilogram calories. Some countries use food calories, where 1 food calorie is equal to 1kcal. 1 kcal (1000 calories) can also be indicated by using Cal, with a capital C, as opposed to cal. The average woman should consume approximately 2000 Cal (kcal) and the average man approximately 2500 Cal per day, so you are quite safe in having your herbal tea containing a mere 36 Cal.

Of course we all have different energy requirements. For more information on how this is calculated and how many calories you should consume to lose weight see this note on total energy requirements and our free weight loss tools
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How can I quit smoking without gaining weight

Question: I have been a smoker for almost 15 years now and smoke a pack a day. I really want to quit smoking but I am super conscious about my weight and am so scared that I will get fat. Is there any way I can quit smoking cigarettes without gaining weight, or better still, lose weight?

Answer: This is probably the biggest fear for the majority of smokers. It is also one of those questions where the answer may not be what we would have wanted but where it is important to consider the longer term consequences rather than short term results. On average, most people gain approximately 5-8 pounds when they stop smoking in the first 6 months, which is probably less than is generally believed. It is also surprising how many ex-smokers very soon lose all the weight gained and more by enjoying an active and healthy lifestyle, unconstrained by cigarettes.

It is true that smoking cigarettes increase your metabolic rate. Your metabolism gets faster for all the wrong reasons of course, since you are in effect poisoning your body. Your body reacts to these toxins by going into a defensive state and releases more adrenaline which in turn speeds up your metabolism. It is estimated that you burn approximately 200 extra calories per day if you are a heavy smoker, so when you stop smoking you need to adjust your calorie intake to compensate for the reduction in caloric requirements. The other option of course is to increase your activity levels.

A number of factors play a role in the weight people gain when they stop smoking. Firstly, when you stop smoking your body becomes healthier and with it your digestive processes, allowing you to get more benefits from the food you are taking in. Also, many people find that it is only too easy to overeat when they stop smoking because food suddenly tastes and smells so much better. Lastly, many people need a new crutch and often replace food for cigarettes which (depending on what you are nibbling on) can account for many unnecessary calories.

To minimize weight gain when you quit the cancer sticks, make sure that you stick to natural, healthy and non-processed foods. Steer well clear of any processed foods, i.e. anything that comes in bags, cans, bottles bags or tins. If you do this and have plenty of water every day, you may even find that you eat less (and better) than you did before you stopped smoking. It is very hard to overeat on a diet of lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables.

As soon as you quit smoking, you body will start getting rid of all the toxins smoking brought with it. In doing so, you are not only reducing your risk for cancer and all sorts of heart and lung disease, but you are also giving your body the opportunity to re-balance your hormones and speed up your metabolism in the long run. Your energy levels will go up and if you switch to a healthier lifestyle you may well soon realize that you are fitter, healthier and more in shape than you ever were before you stopped smoking.

The key to success is to be patient, choose a stop smoking strategy that can help you minimize the weight you do gain, and to switch to a healthier and more active lifestyle early on. Do not start smoking again the minute you see an increase on the scales. Realize that any increases are temporary and that you are going to be much better off in the future.

As with anything in life different strategies work for different people, but one strategy to quit smoking that does not rely on replacing the cigarettes with anything else and as such reduce the chances of weight gain is Allen Carr’s Stop Smoking The Easy Way.

Can a chromium supplement help me lose weight

Question: A friend told me that she takes a chromium supplement to help her lose weight. Is this a good diet pill to take?

Answer: Your body needs very small quantities of chromium to help your body process glucose. This link prompted scientists to investigate the benefits of chromium picolinate supplements for weight loss as well as for the treatment of insulin resistance.

As can be expected, many companies jumped on the bandwagon to promote chromium picolinate supplements as an aid to weight loss with claims that it helps to stabilize your blood sugar, increase lean muscle mass and promote fat loss. Of course, keeping your blood sugar levels stable is very important in managing your weight, because that is the key to controlling your appetite.

A number of scientific studies were conducted to test these claims with very little success. Results obtained from these studies showed that chromium picolinate supplementation does not help increase lean muscle mass nor does it help people lose weight.

Studies to examine the benefits of chromium picolinate supplements as an aid in the treatment of insulin resistance (and improvement in blood sugar levels) delivered mixed results, as small improvements in glucose resistance were reported in some trials while improved short-term insulin levels reported on others, with no change in insulin sensitivity. Opinions still vary and the FDA issued a statement in 2006 indicating that the relationship between insulin resistance and the use of Chromium Picolinate supplements is still highly uncertain.

The best way to keep your blood sugar levels stable is to eat regularly, and to follow a healthy diet that contains plenty of lean protein as well as fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. The most important aspect of a healthy diet (especially if you are concerned about your blood sugar levels) is to stay away as far as possible from refined carbs, including white bread, cake, pastries, sweets and anything else sweetened with sugar.

What is the deal with carbs and weight loss

Question: What is the big deal about carbs and weight loss? My friends keep on telling me I must lose the carbs to lose weight, but I don’t know which foods contain carbs.

Answer: In order to perform optimally your body needs a variety of nutrients provided by three main food groups, namely carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein. Carbohydrates can be obtained from many food sources and can be further broken up into three main categories: sugar, starch, and dietary fiber. Many health experts identified over-consumption of carbohydrates, and more specifically sugar, as the main culprit in the current obesity epidemic facing the developed world. But just before you swear never to touch carbs again – know that your body, and more specifically your brain, really needs carbohydrates to function optimally. You will still lose weight if you indulge in carbohydrate-rich foods in moderation, stick to natural food sources, and learn how to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Newcomers to the low carb diet are often surprised to find out that sugar is also a form of carbohydrates, and even more surprised to find out how many food sources actually contain sugar. Sugar is found in a range of natural foods, including milk (lactose) as well as fruits and vegetables (sucrose and fructose). Sugar in its processed form is used in abundance to manufacture candy, sodas and cakes. It is even used in savory treats and to cure meats. Your body does need sugar, but in small quantities. Food and drinks sweetened by refined sugar should be avoided as far as possible.

Starch is the most important form of carbohydrates and is contained in many staple foods worldwide, such as rice, wheat, corn and potatoes. Many fruit and vegetables contain starch too; for example banana, sweet potato, and yams. Other good sources of starch include legumes such as lentils, peas and beans. Of course all grains and grain products also contain starch, for example flour, bread, pasta, noodles and cereals.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods that can be soluble or insoluble. Foods rich in fiber assist you in losing weight because you feel fuller for longer, and end up eating less. Fiber-rich foods also help you manage your cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels more stable. Some of the many other benefits of fiber include improved regulation of your digestive system, reduced of cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, and even prevention of certain forms of cancer. Good sources for dietary fiber include fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes (lentils, beans and peas).

You will notice many low carb diet books or recipes refer to “net carbs” or “digestible carbs”. This simply refers to the carbohydrate content of the food that your body will actually digest. In other words, only the carbohydrates that will contribute to your daily calorie intake. The easiest way to calculate net carbs is to subtract the dietary fiber from the total carbohydrate content of the meal or snack.

Very low carb diets such as Atkins suggest you limit your carbs to 20g per day for the Induction Phase, gradually increasing your carb intake as you progress through the other three phases. Other low carb diets suggest up to 60g of carbs per day. Other more balanced diets suggest you get 40% of you daily calories from carbs, along with 30% from fat, and the last 30% from protein. Low fat diets, of course, will see you get at least 60% of your diet from carbs, with a much reduced fat and protein intake. The choice of diet is yours, and it really depends on your personal tastes and lifestyle.

To summarize. Carbs play a very important role in your diet to ensure sustained energy and health. While it is true that too much carbs can result in weight gain and inflammation, too little carbs will most certainly leave you tired, depressed and vulnerable to all sorts of diseases. Choose a healthy and nutritious weight loss plan that allows for sufficient intake of carbs from natural food sources. Avoid processed foods as far as possible since they most often contain too much sugar and too little nutrients, which is why many of these food items are often referred to as “dead carbs”.

For more information on the main nutrients read this article on the Perricone Weight loss Prescription. If you want to track your daily carb intake (in grams or ounces) along with your calorie intake, or you just want to keep an eye on the percentage of calories you get from carbs, use our free electronic food diary called myOBW. You can also use this food journal just as a data source to see how much carbs (and other nutrients) your food choices actually contain.

Can CLA help me lose weight

Question: Can CLA help me lose weight and is it a safe diet pill to use?

Answer: Yes, CLA can assist you in your weight loss journey. CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a substance naturally found mostly in meat and dairy products. CLA was first investigated in the late 1970′s for its anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties and claims with regards to these properties are reasonably well supported by scientific studies. In July 2008, the FDA issued a letter awarding CLA Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for certain food categories; including fluid milk, yoghurt, meal replacement shakes and nutritional bars. This means that the well managed addition of CLA to these products is regarded as a safe practice by the FDA.

Results of more than 30 clinical trials have been published regarding weight loss and CLA – all designed to assess the impact of CLA on fat mass. The varying designs and objectives of these studies complicate the overall findings somewhat, but the general consensus appears to be that CLA can indeed assist in reducing fat mass (especially belly fat) while simultaneously increasing lean muscle mass. It must be noted that CLA can only work as a weight loss aid in addition to a healthy, balanced nutrition and exercise plan; and is not expected to be very effective on its own.

Preliminary studies indicate that there may be a basis for some of the health concerns raised with regards to excessive use of CLA, namely increased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. The actual health risks to humans is still far from established. Scientists currently appear to be in agreement that foods naturally enriched with CLA are safe, but are still hesitant to declare CLA supplements safe for use in humans.

In answer to your question on whether CLA is a safe weight loss supplement then…our take on this based on the information available to us at this time would be that CLA supplements, provided that you choose products manufactured by reputable suppliers should be safe to use as long as you don’t exceed the suggested dosage. It is unclear to us what the difference would be between taking a CLA supplement and getting your share of CLA in the form of an additive to a meal replacement shake or a nutrition bar.

What is my Optimal Body Weight


Question: I am 5’6″ and weigh 186 lbs. How much should I weigh?

Answer: Your optimal body weight or ideal weight depends to a large extent on your height and gender, but also on other factors such as your age, your frame and your muscular development. You do not provide enough information for us to calculate your ideal weight, but you can get an accurate assessment by using our free online ideal weight calculator. It takes into account many variables including your bone structure, which is something very few ideal weight calculators consider.

Your optimal body weight is that weight where you are at your healthiest, not necessarily where you are at your thinnest. It is extremely important to take your build and body type into account when you calculate your goal weight. None of us want to be overweight, but too thin can be as unattractive and being underweight also poses health risks to your body and mind. The free weight loss tools available at myOBW offers you an ideal weight calculator as well as BMI (Body Mass Index) and Waist to Hip Ratio calculators. Keep in mind that while these tools can provide you with some idea of how you compare to others; your best indicator is how you feel in your own skin.

What is the recipe for the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet drink

Question: I read your article on the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet and would really like to try it out. What I really like about this weight loss plan is that I can follow it using natural ingredients from my cupboard. I don’t have to buy expensive diet pills or weight loss supplements, nor do I have to invest time and money in a book. It is also great to know that there is scientific evidence to prove that the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet can help me lose weight! Can you please let me have some more detail on the recipe for the Apple Cider Diet drink as well as instructions on how to follow this diet?

Answer: The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet is a rather easy and cheap diet to follow, and has first been described as a safe home remedy for weight loss centuries ago. You need to take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar about 15 minutes before each meal, i.e. three times a day. Obviously, the strong vinegar taste can be very unpleasant, but it can be softened by adding the vinegar to a glass of water or apple juice and then sweetening the mix with two tablespoons of honey. Some of our clients reported that they actually like the taste of the drink! We all have very different tastes, so it would probably be best if you use the recipe described above as a starting point and then play around with the quantities of water, juice and honey until you like the taste of the drink.

The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet does not prescribe a specific menu or meal plan, but it can only help you lose weight if you follow a healthy diet while you take apple cider vinegar before your meals. Stick to natural, healthy foods and control your food portions. Many of our clients on this diet use our free online food diary to track their daily calorie intake and manage their protein, fat, and carb ratio. Most healthy diet plans suggest a caloric ratio of 20-30% protein, 30% fats, and 40-50% carbs. Make sure you obtain the majority of you fat calories from good fats like olive oil, avocado and nuts. Try to stick to fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains as the main sources for your carbs. Avoid snacking between meals and have plenty of water.

Finally, if the taste of the vinegar becomes too much to handle, you can always try apple cider vinegar diet pills.

Can I lose weight fast on the Zone Diet

Question: How fast can I expect to lose weight on the Zone Diet and is it a healthy diet to follow?

Answer: The Zone Diet is a safe and healthy diet, and it works well because it forces you to follow a balanced and nutritious diet. As is the case with most healthy diets, it will take you a bit longer to lose the weight (say at a rate of about 1-2 pounds or half a kilogram to 1 kilogram per week), but if you learn to live in the Zone permanently, you will be able to keep it off. Zone dieters are expected to eat roughly one gram of fat for every two grams of protein and every three grams of carbohydrates to comply with the magic ratio of 40:30:30 for carbs, protein and fats.

The Zone Diet has a proven track record in helping thousands of men and women lose weight permanently. Other benefits of this weight loss plan include reduced inflammation, increased energy and reduced bad cholesterol levels. The anti-inflammatory nature of the diet also means it can help prevent premature aging. By carefully maintaining the balance between fat, protein and carbohydrate intake, the Zone Diet also helps balance your hormones, speed up your metabolism and control cravings.

The most difficult part of this diet is making sure you get the balance right between protein, carbs and fat with every meal and snack; especially if you prepare all your meals yourself and even more so if you eat out often. Fortunately, help is at hand. If you can afford it, you can pick and choose from ready prepared home delivered meals and commercially available Zone friendly snacks. Many restaurants also offer meals prepared with the magic Zone food ratio in mind. The book on the Zone Diet by Barry Spears, creator of this slimming plan, also offers various tips and tricks to make it easier for you.

In summary. The Zone Diet is designed based on the belief that obesity comes about as a result of inflammation. You are in the “Zone” when your hormones are in balance and where inflammation is reversed. To get into the Zone, you must ensure that your eat Zone friendly meals. Weight loss then, for as long as you follow the diet properly, follows automatically. For a more detailed discussion of this topic see this Review of the Zone Diet.

Are the weight loss pills offered by the Young You Corporation safe

Question: A friend suggested that I use the Slimbionic diet pills manufactured by Young You to lose weight. She said she lost 20 pounds in two months using it. Is it an effective diet pill and is it safe to use?

Answer: Based on the information available to us today, our advice would be to avoid Slimbionic until we know for sure that it is safe to use. On 17 July 2009 the Young You Corporation and the FDA issued a press release to inform consumers and health care professionals that four of the weight loss pills sold by Young You were tested and found to contain an undeclared ingredient called sibutramine. Sibutramine is a controlled substance that should not be used without medical supervision. According to the press release the weight loss products were being recalled and consumers were advised to stop using them immediately. The products involved were Slimbionic, One Weight Loss Pill, SlimDemand Capsules and Botanical Weight Loss. Sibutramine is often used in prescription weight loss pills as an appetite suppressant that works by manipulating the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain. Side effects of sibutramine (when used incorrectly) can include increased blood pressure, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), seizures, palpitations, heart attack and stroke and pulse. Customers with a history of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia or stroke are at greater risk.

We did contact the Young You Corporation for additional information and will update this answer as soon as we get a response from them. In the mean time, if you really are looking for a strong appetite suppressant, it may be better to contact your medical professional and ask him to prescribe a diet pill for you. If you are looking for a safer herbal alternative, try Hoodia Gordonii.

Is Imelda Perfect Slim a safe diet pill to use

Question: I’ve heard that Imelda Perfect Slim was taken off the market last year following a warning by the FDA. I personally lost 50 pounds effortlessly on Imelda Perfect Slim about two years ago. While I was taking Imelda Perfect Slim I actually forgot to eat, something that never happened to me before. I experienced an indifference to food that was just wonderful. It appears Imelda Perfect Slim is available on the Internet again. Does that mean it is now reformulated and safe to use?

Answer: Imelda Perfect Slim is on the FDA’s list of tainted weight loss products (available over the counter/ on the internet without prescription) tested and found to contain unacceptable quantities of controlled substances. The samples of Imelda Perfect Slim tested was found to contain Sibutramine and Phenolphthalein. The use of both of these drugs can result in rather severe side-effects – and if you take this diet pill while on other medication you may find that the interaction between the drugs aggravate and increase the already potentially serious side effects.

Sibutramine, when used for weight loss, is prescribed by doctors as an appetite suppressant. It works by manipulating the neurotransmitters in your brain. Most people tolerate the drug in the prescribed doses reasonably well, reporting side effects such as insomnia, nausea and headaches. More serious, but relatively rare side effects reported include seizures, mood changes, fever and jaundice.

Phenolphthalein was originally used in many over-the-counter laxatives, but has since been removed since it emerged that the use of this drug may cause cancer. There are also studies suggesting that Phenolptalein can cause damage or changes to your DNA, which in turn can lead to many other serious health problems.

When you consider the ingredients contained in Imelda Perfect Slim, it is likely that this diet pill will suppress your appetite and that you will lose weight because you take in fewer calories. But without medical supervision the use of Imelda Perfect Slim can be rather dangerous. It is important that you follow a healthy diet while you are taking diet pills to ensure that your body still gets the necessary nutrients, and also so you can maintain that weight loss once you stop taking the pills. If you eat too little, you risk letting your body go into starvation mode or even worse, jeopardizing your health in general.

Imelda Super Slim still appears on the current FDA tainted weight loss product list, and our investigations yielded no evidence of any reformulation of the product to exclude scheduled substances. It must be noted that many of the products on the list are still available, despite attempts by the FDA to get these products recalled. In our opinion it is best to avoid using Imelda Perfect Slim, or any products on the FDA’s tainted diet pill list until such time as it is clear that the problem ingredients were taken care of, and that the necessary quality assurance procedures have been implemented by manufacturers to ensure your safety.