Friday, February 25, 2011

Is every calorie created equal?

I came across a recent study which compares the consumption of whole-food meals versus processed-food meals. Calories where the same in both cases.

The findings are very interesting: digestion of whole foods requires more calories than processed foods, which means that, when whole foods are consumed, less calories are actually absorbed by the body!

So if both meals contain say 1000 calories, the whole-food one will supply the body with 800 calories (200 will be used for digestion), while its processed-food counterpart will supply 900, because in this case digestion requires only 100 calories (numbers are random).

This is of course another proof that whole, real foods are better for you. But there is one more conclusion: the busting of the "a calorie is a calorie" myth. More about that in a future article.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lose weight with just one simple change

Sedentary life is one of the most important reasons of obesity. In the past, we have discussed about one simple addition you can make to your lifestyle, in order to cope with this problem.

If you applied it, then you will have already lost weight. If not, today I have one more suggestion for you.

Think about that: most people use their cars to go to work, and then they eat lunch in their work’s restaurant. This condemns them to at least 10 hours of inactivity per day.

So, my suggestion is the following: eat your lunch somewhere out of you workplace every day.

Even if you take your food with you from home, or if you eat at the restaurant, you can just package it and eat it out.

There is a nice little park very near to my work. So I take my food and go there. Usually, the meal consists of a protein source (meat, poultry, fish) along with carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread), plus a salad and fruit. I only eat the meat, the salad and the fruit, and toss everything else on the ground. Other organisms living there need it more than me. After I have finished, I collect my own garbage, plus other nearby litter. This is extra movement and is good for the environment too. All in all, I am back to work after 30 minutes.

If you don’t have access to a park, there is no need to worry. The point is to walk 10 minutes before lunch and 10 minutes after it.

Do it every day, and watch your body change!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Great nutrition in 9 steps

1. Three meals
Eat 3 meals per day with protein, vegetables, and some fruit.

2. Don’t eat late
You will improve your sleep and you will be starving by morning, which is the best way to ensure you will have breakfast.

3. You are what you eat
Choose whole, live, raw, local and organic over mass-produced, foreign, packaged and processed. Invest in your food. The closer the food is to being alive, the greater the nutritive value.

4. No sugar
No white carbs of any kind. Replace them with natural nutrient-dense foods, like fruit and honey.

5. Eat after training
Or even better, sip some milk during training. It takes time to absorb the nutrients. How you feel right now is related to what you ate 12-48 hours ago.

6. Hunger
When is the last time you really felt that? Most people have conditioned themselves to eat at certain times, rather than when they actually are hungry. Experiment with intermittent fasting.

7. Wait 15 minutes after your meal to have any drink
Most of the bloated feeling comes from the drinking. Avoid meals that are too spicy.

8. Know when to stop
We have associated the feeling of fullness to be meal success. It’s not.

9. Take a short walk after your meal
You will help digestion and burn some calories, too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

How to make your training more fun

I have been reading lately that our training should be fun, because that’s the only way to keep it in our schedule. Another usual advice is to combine training with recreation, for example going for a hike or playing a team sport.

I disagree.

Training should not be confused with fun. It should not be torture either, but there is a very specific reason to train, and this is to improve performance.

The general goal of our training is to build a better body. But, we must have specific goals as well, and these relate to the type of exercise we do.

If we train with weights, the goal is to regularly increase the poundage or the repetitions. If we do cardio (for example running), we must strive to improve our times or our endurance.

Even for the morning walk I have suggested in the past, we must try to increase the duration or the distance.

The advantage of all these activities is that progress can be clearly measured. And to quote Lord Kelvin, you can only improve what you can measure.

The best way to make training more rewarding is to make it more effective. Thus, separate training from fun and improve yourself!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The three best exercises to build and preserve muscle

As we have seen, the best way to preserve your hard-earned muscle while losing fat is to lift weights. But which exercises should you do?

Fortunately, this question has been answered ages ago by powerlifters: you should do squats for your legs, deadlifts for your back, and bench presses for your chest.

Doing each one of those once per week (thus training three times weekly in total), you will be able to preserve - and even build - your muscle mass, even if you do nothing else. This goes for you too, ladies.

So what are you waiting for? Start building some strength on these movements.

Below there is a video of myself displaying correct form for these bread-and-butter exercises. I am not using a belt in the video, but you should.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The truth about Diet Coke (and sweeteners in general)

In the past, we have discussed about the negative effects of sugar and insulin (summary: avoid sugar as much as you can, both for health and fat loss). That’s why we advice our readers: if they must have a soft drink, they should prefer the diet ones.

However, recently various sources have been spreading the word that even sweeteners raise insulin, so there’s no point in them.

What is the truth then?

The truth is the following: neither aspartame, nor saccharin, nor sucralose affect insulin levels significantly.

Nobody of course can claim that diet drinks are healthy. But at least, get your facts straight.