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Weight Loss Articles — Page 10

From the category archives:

Weight Loss Articles

Here’s a very down to earth and sensible article about why diets don’t work and how to lose weight sensibly, easily and permanently.

The large majority of diets are ineffective because they cause an intense feeling of hunger that discourages and frustrates those looking to lose weight. A recent study has shown that this hunger is provoked by the destruction of certain neurons involved in controlling appetite.

Obesity and weight gain tied to excessive calorie intake is often the culprit behind many chronic illnesses that affect portions of the population, particularly type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. Even if we have a lot of hope for medicines that could cure these diseases in the future, we can’t forget that a simple reduction in body weight could have a major impact on the incidence of these diseases and save many lives.

Over the years, an incalculable number of diets have been publicized to help people looking to shed pounds.

In theory, the principle is simple: because weight gain is tied to food intake, the solution is to reduce caloric intake. In reality, the situation is not nearly so cut-and-dried: the body sees this lack of calories as a signal of difficult conditions and therefore lowers the metabolism to make up for the lack of food.neurons

These hypocaloric diets also lead to an intense sensation of hunger that can be suppressed in the short-term, but becomes intolerable over time. Consequently, the enthusiasm of people who lose a few pounds quickly vanishes when the pounds stop falling off. Not only are these people hungry, but they aren’t losing the weight they were promised. That’s why it’s pretty normal for people to give up on these diets, and the pounds come back on.

Another danger associated with these diets is that it can, over the long-term, destroy our great relationship with food: the act of eating is no longer pleasurable, and instead is just seen as a threat to our weight. It’s an activity that we can no longer take part in without feeling guilty.

A recent study showed that the hunger sensation associated with food deprivation is due to a physiological disruption of the process involved in appetite regulation (1). Researchers from New York found that a reduction in food intake caused significant damage to certain neurons located in the hypothalamus. As a response to the lack of calories, these neurons begin to digest themselves, meaning they feed off their own energy, which ultimately leads to their destruction. It’s like cellular cannibalism.

Because these  play a key role in appetite control, their destruction causes various disruptions, most notably the production of certain peptides involved in the stimulation of appetite. Being hungry while on a diet is therefore not the result of a lack of self-control, but a physiological response from the body to an abnormal situation which is interpreted as a threat to the body’s integrity.

These observations offer a scientific explanation for what people who have dieted know from experience: there is no miracle solution to lose weight, especially through diets that cause a drastic drop in calorie intake. The hunger always beats us, regardless of how committed we might be.

The only realistic way to maintain a healthy weight is to change our lifestyle habits to adopt certain simple behaviours that could have an enormous difference. Here are some suggestions:

– Eat slowly to give your body the time to control how full it feels.

– Eat low-calorie foods that take up a lot of stomach space without containing too much energy. Good examples are vegetables and greens.

– Adopt a defensive approach to the omnipresence of junk food in our environment: snacks, pop, fast-food, etc. are not daily foods, but rather, occasional treats.

– Enjoy whole grains: the quick rise of insulin caused by foods with refined flour causes the creation of fat.

– Finally, be active! Physical activity improves the general working condition of the metabolism and allows the body to better manage the calories it takes in.

(1) Kaushik et al. Autophagy in hypothalamic AgRP neurons regulates food intake and energy balance. Cell Metab. 2011 ; 14 : 173-183.


The latest in-home workouts

September 21, 2011

Here’s a good article from northjersey.com about in-home workout products. I do all my workouts at home too as I can do it when its convenient and, more importantly, in my underpants! No need to wash gym clothes every day, and nice and cool. Couldn’t do that in a gym!

PaddingAs our fall schedules get jammed and the days grow shorter, many North Jersey residents are squeezing in workouts with the multitude of fitness DVDs and exercise video games available on the market. They prefer the flexibility of popping in a DVD when they please, and the privacy of not having to sweat in front of strangers.

The latest in exercise media is not your “Sweatin to the Oldies” VHS tapes of yesteryear, however.

Marie Zagda, 30, a graphic designer from Cliffside Park, dropped 40 pounds in the past year and a half, went off all her prescription medications and improved her diet. She attributes this dramatic turnaround to a series of fitness DVDs by the Beachbody brand. Its most popular title is P90X, a workout program that consists of 12 DVDs, sold through a TV infomercial and online, which has inspired a legion of devotees who check in on message boards, form communities and chug an accompanying line of powdered drinks.

The P90X routine — jumping, yoga, martial arts and strength training — led by fitness guru Tony Horton, is not particularly groundbreaking; it requires working out six days a week, and follows the “muscle confusion” principle — the idea that varying exercises keeps your muscles constantly challenged.

Similarly powerful workouts are available in video-game form, and these are especially popular with parents.

After a summer filled with good food and family trips, Lauren Bielan is ready to buckle down and return to her fitness routine.

In her quest to get in shape, the 46-year-old Hillsdale mom won’t hire a personal trainer or drive 10 minutes to the gym every day. Instead, she will walk downstairs to her basement and turn on her sons’ Nintendo Wii. Fitness video games like “Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout,” provide as much of a burn as taking a gym class, she said. “It’s a boxing game, and I’m so sore the next day, like I worked out with a personal trainer,” Bielan said. “If I’m time crunched, I don’t have time for the 20 minutes driving back and forth to the gym.”

She also likes the chance to work out with her sons, especially her 12-year-old, who sees it as a game, not a grind. A favorite video, EA Sports Active, has players run, jump and mimic playing basketball. “It works the large muscle groups,” she said. “And the kids think it’s cool and try and beat their score.” For another title, “Just Dance,” they imitate the moves of an on-screen dancer, while bopping along to Michael Jackson hits. “You don’t realize you’re exercising,” said Bielan.

Fans of the growing genre of fitness games available for Xbox, Wii and PlayStation say there is more interactivity than in traditional exercise routines. “With a DVD there is no way to track if you’re doing it correctly,” said Kevin Korzikowski who works at the GameStop in Clifton. “With the games, if you’re doing the basics right, you get points. We get a lot of girls coming in who want to do workouts on their boyfriends’ Xbox,” he said.

Kristin Uszak, 31, of New Milford, is a long-time devotee of fitness videos. She started with classics by Cindy Crawford and Billy Blanks’ “Tae Bo.” But her recent favorite “10 Minute Solution,” comes with five different 10-minute workouts on one DVD, so she treats the routine like an iPod shuffle, creating a tailored playlist. “I can customize what I’m doing,” said Uszak.

“And I really like the girl in that one; she’s encouraging without being annoying.”

Most days of the week, Uszak works from home for an educational company, and fits in workouts in the afternoon when her family is out of the house. She has to move the coffee table aside to create her exercise floor. But she revels in the privacy. “I was always kind of self-conscious in group fitness classes, especially if I was new to the class, “said Uszak. ” At home, you can mess up as much as you want.”

Adrienne Donofrio, fitness director at the YMHA of North Jersey in Wayne, is concerned that inexperienced exercisers could get hurt with some of these products. “It’s very difficult to take a sedentary person, have them look at a video and hope that they do the exercise correctly. It’s very complex. It opens people up to injury,” she said.

Also, she urges users to check the credentials of the fitness instructor behind the video. You shouldn’t be dazzled by a celebrity trainer, if he or she doesn’t have some nationally recognized certification,” she said. Moves like lunges, squats and push-ups can be dangerous if not taught correctly, she added.

Zagda, who’s become a salaried part-time “coach” for Beachbody, enjoys the freedom of scheduling workouts on her own time. On days she’s feeling unmotivated, she logs into their site for inspiration. She’s such a fan of their products that she started a Sunday morning fitness club at the Maplewood Community Center. “Now that I’m able to take care of myself, I’m able to help others in need,” she said. “I love it; it’s definitely changed my life.”


Gadgets to keep you fit

September 20, 2011

Here’s an interesting article about various gadgets and gizmos on the market that can help with your weight loss goals.

If you’re one of those people who can’t stand the thought of lifting weights for an hour, then pay attention. How about no weights, 10 minutes of your time and the effect of a two-hour workout? All you have to do is strap on a special vest and pants and do a few actions for 10 minutes. The technology behind Miha Bodytech is EMS, but at a whole new level. Electro-Muscular Stimulation has been in play for many years and while controversial, does seem to give results. On the MB machine it goes a lot further. The first time you don the vest and plug into the machine, even doing a simple task like lifting your hand takes incredible effort. By the time I finished my 10-minute routine, it was like I had run five miles and worked out for 45 minutes.
Caveats: Very expensive, unwieldy as you have to get in and out of that damn electro suit, EMS is very controversial right now.

Seventy per cent of your weight loss will come from diet control and 90 per cent of diets fail. If you’ve struggled with portion control, cravings and given in to your sweet tooth, then science and technology could help. The first is Sensa. Spray a little of this powder on any food you are about to eat and the powder talks to your brain. The scientific principle behind this is pretty sound.

Whenever you eat, smell and taste receptors send signals to your brain to tell your body it’s time to stop eating. Sensa does it faster. Thus no bingeing and no over-eating. The second is for all sweetaholics and chocoholics. Whenever the ‘wild need’ hits, chew a piece of gum and the need for your daily hit disappears.

The best part – the chewing gum uses an ancient Indian ayurvedic ingredient that really does work. Meshashringi is known as the destroyer of sugar and Supresalin 60 Craving Control Gum uses this to the best of its abilities. Chew it and your mouth can no longer taste anything sweet for a while. Chocolate tastes horrid and bitter, apple pie tastes like cardboard and ice cream like a gooey mess of nothingness.

Caveats: Sensa didn’t really do much for me but I may have been too aware of being in ‘test mode’. Also, carrying a sprinkler and spraying all over food in restaurants or at work can make you seem like a certified lunatic. Still, it seems to have worked for a lot of people. Supresalin works but is expensive as hell.

Game On
It started with the Nintendo Wii Fit and it’s now been taken to extraordinary levels. Microsoft Kinect and Sony Move can make your gaming area a true state of the art gym. With Kinect you don’t even need to hold anything. Lots of options there. Your Shape Fitness Evolved (celebrity trainers will analyse your actions as you exercise, and correct your form in a real-time mode), Zumba (gives you a workout with real time dance lessons like salsa, reggaeton, hip-hop), Motion Sports (you control a realistic avatar, Kinect captures video of your performance and broadcasts it with live commentary. Has soccer, football, boxing, skiing) are some of your best choices.
Caveats: None really, other than fighting your family for space and time and not knocking over furniture.

Big Brother: Strapped to you
It’s beautiful out there. All alone, in the wilderness, running like the wind. That is old hat! Today, you need to track your progress, mileage, speed, distance, calories burnt, GPS your information to all and make sure that your exploits in the gym are Tweeted and Facebooked to the world.

Devices like FitBit (small device that can track your motion and gives you amazing data about your activity level all day, plus uploads it all wirelessly to your FitBit account online), Bodymedia Armband (like FitBit but uses sensory reading from the body) or even Omron Go Smart Pedometer (works on a Tri-Axis reading, thus you can keep it in your pocket, bag or hand) can be your weapons of choice. The new age mantra of fitness is to have 10,000 steps a day as the bare minimum level of activity. These will help you track it all day.

May shock you when you come to know that you clock in only 20 per cent of your target level of activity.

Technology can make sure that you enhance, motivate and keep to your fitness goals. So go out there, shake it, lift it, twist it and run it – and make sure you have a device that tracks it all for you.


Here’s a great article from theage.com about the sensible way to get a six pack as opposed to the mental Darryn Lyons getting ab implants. I saw him in Big Brother UK and just couldn’t believe it. He looks ridiculous!

Here’s the article:

I really thought I had heard it all until Australian paparazzo Darryn Lyons appeared in Celebrity Big Brother UK sporting a surgically-enhanced six-pack.

Last time I checked there were only six ways to achieve this ‘sculpted’ look and none of them involved knives.

Darryn’s shortcut at the surgeons breaks the cardinal rules of health and fitness which demand hard work in return for muscle, and instead of appearing strong and fit, he looks a bit like a barrel-bodied turtle.

So here are my tips on how you can get a six pack for real:

1. Don’t focus on your abs; focus on full body movements
If you’re 20kgs overweight, then don’t worry about excessive sit ups and crunches.  You’re wasting your time by isolating too early. You can’t put $15,000 pimp my ride rims on a beat up,’72 Holden and think you’ve got yourself a sweet ride, right?  The body works the same way.  If you think a six-pack is merely 1,000 crunches per day away, you’re wrong.  Just get moving.  Start losing weight.  Compound exercises like squat-shoulder presses, lunge-bicep curls, push-ups, kettlebell swings and dead lifts all require abdominal and core strength.  Many weight bearing exercises call upon your abs without realising it.  So first, get fit with full body, functional movements.  Then, start thinking about sculpting your abs.

2. Get lean, not huge
Change your mindset about the need to get massive, because we all have ab muscles.  It’s just a matter of getting lean enough to show them off.  Brad Pitt is the six-pack poster boy in films such as Troy, Snatch, and Fight Club.  He has never been WWE wrestler huge. He was lean and toned and probably weighed under 80kgs at +180cms tall during Fight Club.  The ladies prefer lean and toned anyway, so don’t stress about the need to get freakin’ huge to have a good mid-section.

3. Get serious about nutrition
Put down the bacon and egg rolls, sugary drinks, beers, desserts, and fast-fried foods as they will only aid you in your journey to get a junk-pack.  Ask any bodybuilder (all-natural or not) what the worst part of getting their body ready to show is, and they will tell you about the hellish, 12 week water-with-brown-rice-and-poached-chicken-diet that they consume.  You may only be tanning and posing on the beach, but getting lean is about the right nutrition. Exercise creates muscle growth and builds abdominal muscles. This is 50 per cent of the equation.  Diet and proper nutrition is the remaining 50 per cent that creates a window to see those muscles.

4. Perform ab exercises
When your overall fitness has increased, perform ab isolation exercises of sit ups, v-ups, glute-hamstring developer sit ups, planks/crunches and side crunches, burpees, leg-raises and on and on, and on.  There are more core and ab exercises than one can google, and they pretty much all work.  Opinions in the industry vary on reps, tempo, and sessions per week, but if you isolate 3 times per week, that is a good start to strengthening and toning your abdominals.

5) Don’t do these things
Don’t order the gimmicky ab machine on Dial 1800 abs for 4 easy payments of $49.95.  In a public gym, don’t ever pull up your shirt, flex, then check your abs out in the mirror, then repeat with a side flex and suck in.  Don’t ever pull your neck forward to propel yourself during ab exercises – you will hurt yourself.  Don’t forget about back exercises, because a good body is a balanced body.

6) Remember the cardio
Develop a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) program for scientifically proven results.  You don’t walk or skip your way to a six-pack; you do it by increasing the intensity of your cardio sessions.  Intense cardio sessions will help shed the outer layer of fat, creating that window to show off your abs.

And don’t get obsessed.  A lean and toned abdominal section is healthy – an obsession with a 6-pack is not.  It takes dedication to doing what’s right all while saying ‘no’ to the naughty, fun bits in life that you might experience at the pub with mates.  Which brings up the last rule…

The last rule of getting a 6 pack is:  Don’t break any one of the rules above.  Break one, and your tummy will simply remain your sweetheart’s speed bump of love.