Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve seen some ideas on how to do so:
“Eat what you want and lose weight!”
“Lose thirty pounds in thirty days!”
“Finally, a diet that really works!”
“Lose one jean size every seven days!”
“Top three fat burners revealed”
“Ten minutes to a tighter tummy!”
But these claims are readily rebuked by anyone who’s tried to lose five, ten, or one hundred pounds. Losing weight ain’t that easy. It’s not in a pill, it doesn’t (usually) happen in thirty days, and judging from the myriad plans out there, there is no one diet that works for everyone.
Looking past the outrageous claims, there are a few hard truths the diet/food industry isn’t going to tell you, but might just help you take a more realistic approach to sustained weight loss.
1. You have to exercise more than you think.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week; this includes things like shoveling snow and gardening. And while this is great for improving heart health and staying active, research indicates that those looking to lose weight or maintain weight loss have to do more—about twice as much.
For instance, members of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)—a group of over 5,000 individuals who have lost an average of sixty-six pounds and kept it off for five and a half years—exercise for about an hour, every day.
A study published in the July 28, 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine supports this observational finding. The researchers enrolled 200 overweight and obese women on a diet and exercise regimen and followed them for two years. Compared with those that gained some of their weight back, the women who were able to sustain a weight loss of 10 percent of their initial weight for two years exercised consistently and regularly—about 275 minutes a week, or fifty-five minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
In other words, things like taking the stairs, walking to the store, and gardening are great ways to boost activity level, but losing serious weight means exercising regularly for an hour or so. However, this doesn’t mean you have to start running or kickboxing—the most frequently reported form of activity in the NWCR group is walking.
2. A half-hour walk doesn’t equal a brownie.
I remember going out to eat with some friends after a bike ride. Someone commented on how we deserved dessert because we had just spent the day exercising; in fact, we had taken a leisurely twenty-minute ride through the park. This probably burned the calories in a slice of our French bread, but definitely not those in the caramel fudge brownie dessert. Bummer.
And while it’s easy to underestimate how many calories something has, it’s also easy to overestimate how many calories we burn while exercising. Double bummer.
Even if you exercise a fair amount, it’s not carte blanche to eat whatever you want. (Unless you exercise a ton, have the metabolism of a sixteen-year-old boy, and really can eat whatever you want). A report investigating the commonly-held beliefs about exercising, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, concludes that although exercise does burn calories during and after exercise, for overweight persons, “excessive caloric expenditure has limited implications for substantially reducing body weight independent of nutritional modifications.” In other words, to lose weight, you have to cut calories and increase exercise.
3. You have time to exercise.
If you have time to check email, watch a sitcom or two, surf the internet, have drinks/coffee/dinner with friends, go clothes shopping, and on and on, then you have time to exercise. Yes, sometimes you have to sacrifice sleep, TV, or leisure time to fit it in. Yes, sometimes you have to prioritize your exercise time over other things. But your health and the feeling you get after having worked out is well worth it.
4. Eating more of something won’t help you lose weight.
The food industry is keen to latch onto weight loss research and spin it for their sales purposes. A prime example is the widespread claim that eating more dairy products will help you lose weight. However, a recent review of forty-nine clinical trials from 1966 to 2007 showed that “neither dairy nor calcium supplements helped people lose weight.”
This idea—that eating more of a certain type of product will help you lose weight—is constantly regurgitated on supermarket shelves (think low-fat cake, low-carb crackers, high in whole grain cookies, and trans fat-free chips), but is in direct opposition to the basic idea behind weight loss—that we have to eat less, not more.
|Well my friends are comin over today cause my Japanese foreign exchange roomate is outta town for 3 days. Its funny how he's been here for only 4 weeks but hes seen more of california then ill ever care to bother to see. But ... i think my friends are bringin drinks so hopefully itll be good times...unless i get caught with the alcohol. In that case Ill probable be kicked out of UCLA and have to go home. But being the brave and alcoholic person that i am, I am willing to take that risk|
wow, i was such a tool.
Understanding why we desire certain foods. Cravings are a fact of life. Up to 97 percent of Americans get seized by strong and specific urges to indulge. And for American women, chocolate tops the list.
The term "craving" hardly does justice to that four-alarm fire raging in your brain. Must....have....warm brownie still gooey in the middle. Must....eat.... entire container of Super Fudge Chunk. Can't...stop...scarfing down chocolate kisses.
We've all been there. Cravings are a fact of life: up to 97 percent of Americans get seized by strong and specific urges to indulge. And for women in the U.S., chocolate tops the list.
It seems like there's nothing to do but either fight off the cravings or give in to them. Mostly, we give in, figuring it's hopeless—a simple biological fact of life.
But research from the University College of London shows that the yen for chocolate and other tasty treats may be an acquired habit. In humans, hunger and eating are strongly influenced by context. That seems to be true of cravings, too. Even though the desire feels deep-down and basic, habit and conditioning seem to have a lot to do with it. The wonderful implication: cravings for rich, fatty foods might be conquerable. You don't have to be a slave to your appetite; you'll like yourself better in the morning.
Psychologist Leigh Gibson, a professor at the university's Health Behavior Unit who studies appetite and food choice, rounded up several dozen student volunteers to find out whether people could be "trained" out of their cravings. The students in the study ate half a bar of milk chocolate twice a day for two weeks. Half ate their chocolate ration 15 minutes after finishing a meal; the other half waited at least two hours after a meal before having the sweet. The students filled out a diary rating the strength of their cravings and of the appeal of the chocolate bar by answering questions like: "If any amount of chocolate was available, how much would you want to eat right now?" Volunteers included both people who loved chocolate and those who could care less.
After two weeks, the volunteers who had been eating the chocolate on an empty stomach reported that their yen for chocolate was stronger. By contrast, the students who had been eating the chocolate on a full stomach said their cravings were much weaker. That was true for both cravers and non-cravers.
What's more, people who'd been eating the chocolate when full actually said that it now seemed a bit less pleasant to the taste. It seems that by eating the sweet when they weren't hungry, the volunteers had trained themselves to like it less.
"I do believe that one should be able to retrain one's appetite, or reduce one's craving, for particular foods by eating them only when not hungry," says Gibson. "However, this may only apply to foods that are relatively energy rich." He tried a similar experiment with dried fruit bars and got very different results, suggesting that lower-calorie foods may not have the same effects.
But Gibson points out that most commonly craved foods—ice cream, pizza, cake—are also very rich and energy-dense. "It's a lot easier to walk past the green grocers or fruit stall without being tempted to buy than to walk past the confectionery counter or cake shop, isn't it?"
The bottom line, he says, is that it's a good idea not to eat foods you are trying to avoid or eat less of when you are very hungry. "The trick is to eat frequently enough to avoid strong hunger, but without eating too many calories in total." Easier said than done, he admits—but his finding may explain why people who "graze," or eat small amounts throughout the day, may often be healthier and slimmer.
Watermelon: Best Not ChilledIce-cold watermelon on a steamy summer day really hits the spot. But you'll be best served by keeping it on your countertop until cutting time.
Whole watermelons stored at room temperature deliver more cell-protecting antioxidants (specifically lycopene and beta carotene) than refrigerated or freshly picked melons. Here's why.
A Chilling Effect
After it's picked, watermelon continues to ripen and build up antioxidants. Cold temperatures appear to cut this process short. So leave your watermelon out, as long as you haven't sliced it. After it's cut, it should be stored in the refrigerator for food-safety reasons.
For an ice-cold treat, chill the fruit right before serving.
And don't forget to wash your watermelon before cutting it to avoid this.
A Walk on the Cerebral SideHate the thought of losing your mental edge -- or worse, growing senile -- as you age? Well, here's a simple way to slash your risk of dementia by 73 percent:
Go for a power walk. People who regularly walk may be that much less likely to develop dementia compared with their couch-potato peers. Yeah, it's that simple!
More Blood, Please
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's. It's the nosedive that memory and other cognitive functions can take when ailing blood vessels restrict -- and sometimes block -- the flow of blood to the brain. But because exercise -- even mild exercise like walking -- increases cerebral blood flow, it may shrink the risk.
Other Brain Savers
People with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol up their odds of vascular dementia, so controlling those conditions is a start toward staying sharp. Here are a few other brain boosters to try:
Make a Healthy Nut Even HealthierStraight out of the can, peanuts are one amazing health food. But you may get more antioxidants if you buy them in the shell and do this: boil 'em.
In a recent study, peanuts boiled in their shells had a significantly higher concentration of disease-fighting phytochemicals -- more than their raw, roasted, or oiled counterparts.
Nutrition in a Nutshell
The hulls of peanuts are loaded with polyphenols, and the skins are packed with flavonoids. Researchers suspect that boiling peanuts in their shells releases these heart-healthy antioxidant compounds into the water, and the amped-up water is in turn absorbed by the nuts. The result? One powerfully healthy peanut.
How to Do It
This isn’t a newfangled food idea. In the South, boiled peanuts are part of the culinary heritage, though raw or not-quite-mature peanuts are traditionally used. Cover the peanuts with salted water in a large stockpot. Simmer until the peanuts inside the shell are soft -- anywhere from 1 to 3 hours