Tag Archive for 'weight loss'

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.

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.

What is starvation mode and how does it affect weight loss

Question: I have been told that when I eat too little, my body goes into starvation mode to protect itself, and that it will slow down my weight loss. Is this true and how can I avoid starvation mode?

Answer: Many weight loss coaches use the term “starvation mode” to describe your body’s natural response to protect itself when you don’t eat enough for extended periods. When you regularly eat too little food to provide your body with the necessary nutrients, it perceives itself to be in danger from starvation. Since your body is wonderfully designed to protect you, it will slow down your metabolism to conserve energy so it can keep vital organs such as the brain and the heart going for as long as possible in the face of the perceived threat. While it will burn fat for fuel, it will also start burning lean muscle mass for fuel, which will slow down your metabolism even further. People on starvation diets invariably find that they regain all the weight they’ve lost (and then some) very quickly as soon as they start eating again.

While a starvation diet may help you lose weight quite fast in the short term, you will pay a heavy price because you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of weight problems. Your metabolism gets progressively slower with each day you remain on a starvation diet. This resultant slower metabolism needs less fuel, so you consistently have to eat less and less to lose weight! As your metabolism slows down even further and your lean muscle mass dwindles you will also find that you become more and more tired. This in turn means you will get less exercise, which leaves you with less lean muscle, and an even slower metabolism. It really is a vicious cycle. The importance of protecting your lean muscle mass to boost your metabolism can not be stressed enough.

The question arises: when does your body go into starvation mode? As with anything that involves the human body, there is no one single answer that will be true for everyone. The levels at which starvation mode kicks in vary from person to person. What we can do though, is understand how it gets triggered so we can avoid getting our bodies in that state. Your decision of how much to eat should be based on your individual Total Daily Energy Requirements, which takes into account a variety of factors including height, weight, age, gender and activity levels. If you want to lose weight safely, without setting off the alarm bells in your body; aim to eat approximately 300 – 500 calories less than your total daily requirements. This will provide your body with enough fuel to keep it going comfortably, but will still create a sufficient caloric deficit to ensure that you lose weight. To protect your metabolism even further, make sure your diet contains enough protein and that you maintain / increase your activity levels.

Note. You will find that many experts advise you not to eat less than 1 200 calories per day to prevent starvation mode. This is just a general rule of thumb to provide advice in the absence of enough information. To be safe, get your individual Total Daily Energy Requirements calculated, and follow the advice above.

What is the recipe for the Lemon Detox Diet or Master Cleanse lemonade

Question: What is the recipe for the Lemon Detox Diet Drink or Master Cleanse Lemonade?

Answer: The Lemon Detox Diet is also called the Master Cleanse Diet or Neera Super Cleanse. While on this diet you are supposed to substitute all solid food with a special diet “lemonade” for a period of 5-15 days, and it is recommended that you take a herbal laxative such as Senna Herbal tea every night. You should try to drink at least 60 ounces (+- 1.8 litres) of the diet drink every day.

Recipe for the Master Cleanse lemonade:

  • Two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (approximately half a lemon)
  • Two tablespoons of maple syrup (not maple flavored sugar) or Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup (a mixture of palm and maple syrup)
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 8 ounces of water (+-250ml), at room temperature

Mix the ingredients listed above for one serving of the diet drink.

Please note that we have decided to provide the recipe for the Master Cleanse / Lemon Detox Diet lemonade simply because we are asked this question so often. At OptimalBodyWeight.com we do not believe that this popular detox diet is a healthy way to lose weight. For more information please read this review of the lemon detox diet. While you may lose weight fast on this weight loss plan; the weight loss will not be sustainable, and you will almost certainly slow down your metabolism. For healthier alternatives read here how you can boost your metabolism and lose that weight for good.

How do I lose the weight I gained during my pregnancy

Question: I delivered a wonderful baby boy almost 6 months ago. At the time I fell pregnant I weighed in at about 155 lbs and went up to 186 at time of delivery. I am now back down to 170 lbs, but really battle to lose the weight, especially around my belly. Wat diet can you recommend for me? I don’t have too much time to exercise, but maybe you can suggest something for once a week?

Answer: At least you know you are not alone. Losing that extra weight around the abdomen is the biggest problem for most women after they’ve delivered. One thing to keep in mind though, is that it took your body nine months to gain the extra weight – don’t expect it to drop off overnight. Also, the changes to your lifestyle and sleep deprivation that accompanied your baby into your life do not make it any easier for you to lose weight. For that reason you must choose a simple and healthy diet, easy to follow, but still one that is nutritious enough so you can cope with the demands on your life.

While it is generally accepted that targeted weight loss is unlikely on most healthy diets, the results from a number of clinical trials appear to support the fact that a diet sufficiently relatively high in monounsaturated fats or “good fats” not only contributes to weight loss, but also seems to be especially good in helping to reduce external and internal fat around the torso. Monounsaturated fat also plays an important part in regulating and re-balancing your hormones. The Mediterranean Diet is the way of eating that was identified for inclusion in the trials precisely because of its high “good fats” content, largely because of the liberal use of olive oil. The Mediterranean diet should be considered as a way of eating rather than a diet, but still compares well with even Atkins as far as weight loss go. More info to be found in this Mediterranean Diet Review. The Flat Belly Diet Review contains more discussions on the benefits of monounsaturated fats for weight loss.

For exercise: Put on those walking shoes and go for long leisurely strolls with your baby. Once a week, go for a yoga lesson to get your energy and life-balance restored.

Does Alli work and what are the side effects?


Question: I find it really hard to lose weight, and think that I may lose weight faster with Alli? Does this diet pill actually work and what are the side effects?

Answer: Alli is one of very few weight loss pills that are actually FDA approved, so it can be argued that it is safer for you than the majority of untested diet pills available on the market. Alli works by preventing your body from absorbing about 25% of your total fat intake; thereby reducing your daily calorie intake. Alli is in essence then a fat blocker. Clinical trials have shown that Alli can help you lose 50% more weight than you would have if you only followed a healthy low fat diet.

Because Alli works only on the digestive tract, its side effects are limited. If you do not stick to a low fat diet, the use of Alli it can have some very embarrassing side effects that may require you to start carrying around an extra pair of undies. If you stick to a low fat calorie controlled diet though, the only “side effect” should be that you may soon need to invest in new outfits!

Just remember – while Alli can only help you lose weight a bit faster, the real work is in making sure that you follow a healthy low fat diet. While Alli can provide that extra boost; it will not help you lose weight in any sustainable way unless you change your eating habits permanently.

More information on how this diet pill works can be found in this review of Alli. You may also find it helpful to track you calorie & fat intake using this free online food diary.

What is my BMI or Body Mass Index

Question: What does BMI mean and where can I get mine calculated?

Answer: Your Body Mass Index, or BMI, is an index used by medical professionals to determine whether you are in shape or not. It really is a ratio calculated using your height and weight. While your BMI offers a good starting point to assess how close you are to your healthy weight, it must used with care. The main disadvantage of using the BMI to assess body shape or obesity is that it is not that precise. It does not take into account bone structure or your lean muscle mass versus fat ratio. To compensate for these factors, BMI numbers should be interpreted in ranges. For example: if you are athletically built or have a heavy bone structure, your BMI is likely to be on the higher side of the normal range when you are at your ideal body weight; while your small-framed friend should ideally be on the lower side of the normal range. Remember that your goal should be to be healthy, not just skinny.

Categories for BMI are as follow:

  • Below 18.5 Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9 Healthy
  • 25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
  • 30.0 – 39.9 Obese
  • Over 40 Morbidly Obese

Find out how close you are to the normal range by using this free BMI calculator. The same weight loss support website also offers you a free ideal weight calculator that takes into account your bone structure.

BMI should not be used to assess weight problems in children, as it is only applicable to adult bodies.

Is the new reformulated Hydroxycut Advanced safe

Question: I’ve noticed that Hydroxycut is back on the market reformulated as Hydroxycut Advanced. Is it now safe to use?

Answer: Hydroxycut products were voluntarily recalled by Iovate Health Sciences (the manufacturers) from the market in the beginning of May 2009, following a damning FDA report advising customers to immediately stop using the majority of Hydroxycut products. This warning was issued by the FDA following 23 reports of serious health problems directly related to the use of Hydroxycut. Reported incidents include cases where the use of this popular weight loss supplement resulted in the death of one man and necessitated a liver transplant on a woman. Several lawsuits have already been filed. For more background on the original FDA report see this article on the recall of Hydroxycut.

Barely two months after the Hydroxycut products were recalled, a reformulated version of the popular “fat burner” Hydroxycut weight loss pill is back on the market as Hydroxycut Advanced. Interestingly, it is packaged to look similar to the widely popular original Hydroxycut product. Iovate Health Sciences indicated that, after further analysis of the incidents and the ingredients in the original products, they were unable to isolate the ingredient that may have caused these serious side effects. In an attempt to make the product safer, it was reformulated and many of the ingredients changed. That Hydroxycut Advanced was put back on the market so soon after the recall (2 months) suggests that it may not be properly tested. It is therefor still unclear how safe this weight loss product is. With so many ingredient changes, it can also be argued that Hydroxycut Advanced is a totally different product with an unproven track record as far as effectiveness go. Our recommendation at this stage remains to steer clear of Hydroxycut products until more tests are done.