Tuesday

Does 'Low GI' Really Mean 'Healthy'...?


Ever wondered what ‘Low GI’ means..?

The way that GI (Glycaemic Index) ratings are displayed by food manufacturers, most of us would assume that ‘low GI’ basically means, ‘must be healthy’; but is that really the case…??

The Glycaemic Index (GI) scale was developed back in the early 1980’s when professor of nutrition, Dr David Jenkins was investigating how various foods affected blood sugar levels in diabetics.

As a result of his research, he developed the Glycaemic Index scale, where food was ranked on a scale from 0 to 100, indicating the effect that particular foods had on blood sugar levels. At the top of the scale, pure sugar (glucose) which affects our blood sugar levels the most, is given a GI rating of 100. All other foods are compared with this and given a GI rating that proportionately indicates its effect on our blood sugars.

In simple terms, the GI index tells us whether a food raises our blood sugar levels dramatically, moderately or just a small amount. Foods that have only a slow, small effect on blood sugar have a low GI value, while those causing a rapid and massive rise in blood sugar have a high GI value.

Let's cut to the chase:- Can you use the GI scale to help you lose weight?

Foods in the 0 to 19 range are given a ‘very low GI’ rating, those in the 20 to 54 range are classified as having a ‘low GI’ score, those in the 55 to 69 range are classed as medium or ‘moderate GI’ foods and those scoring from 70 to 100 are those foods that have the greatest effect on or blood sugar levels and are given a ‘high GI’ rating.

Foods with a low GI value, release sugar into the blood slowly, providing you with a steady supply of energy, leaving you feeling satisfied longer and therefore less likely to snack. In contrast, foods with a high GI value cause a rapid, short-lived rise in our blood sugar. This leaves us lacking in energy and feeling hungry within a short time, with the increased likelihood of us reaching for a snack. Over time, those of us who regularly eat mainly foods with a high GI value are more likely to gain weight as a result of constant overeating.

However, basing your diet and weight-loss plans around low GI foods alone, isn’t a good idea; not all foods with a low GI rating are healthy. For example, foods like whole milk, chocolate and crisps all have a low GI rating. Whereas bran-flakes, melon and boiled parsnips all have a high GI rating. Clearly, common-sense must also prevail when looking at GI ratings to influence your diet.

You can find a table outlining the GI ratings of some healthier food choices, here
 
When looking out for low GI rated foods, there are also a few of other things to consider. The way in which foods are cooked, the ripeness of certain fruits and the way in which different foods are combined, will all affect the overall GI rating of a meal.   

In summary, looking at the GI ratings of food can be a very useful guide to help with your healthy food shopping, as long as you continue to also look at other factors such as calories, saturated fat and sugar contents, etc. But for those of us who have a tendency to eat between meals more often than we know we should be doing, having a few more ‘low GI’ favourites at meal-times might just be the extra edge you need to fend off those snacky urges altogether..!

Next time; Why We Deceive Ourselves With Treats.
 

Sunday

Foods That BOOST Your Metabolism..


I get asked all the time for ideas of foods that boost our metabolism (the rate at which our body burns calories). And whilst most of us would expect coffee to be near the top of the list, there are many, more effective options.

Yes, coffee does actually boost our metabolism a little, but its effects are much less pronounced in heavier people. Research carried out on this revealed that slimmer people can expect an increase in fat-burning by as much as 30%, whilst those who were obese only saw an increase of around 10%.

Additionally, coffee’s fat-burning benefits diminish with age, so younger people experience the effects more than older people. On top of all that, whatever your age or size, in the short term, caffeine can boost the metabolic rate and increase fat burning, but after a while our bodies become tolerant to its effects and it actually stops working L

The good news is that if you want to boost your metabolism, you’ve got options. Lots of them. Options that are easy to come by, longer-term and more effective than your double espresso..!



Citrus Fruits
Foods like oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes contain vitamin C that helps metabolise fat faster, which make them a must for weight loss. We only need around 60 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C each day to meet our body’s basic needs, that’s roughly the amount of vitamin C contained in a large orange. Increasing your daily intake to an upper safe limit of around 500 mg per day can boost your fat-burning potential during exercise by almost 40%.

(NOTE: If you take medication, particularly statins, check with your doctor about possible adverse interactions with grapefruit.)

Berries
Berries are high in dietary fibre. The body can’t digest fibre, but it tries anyway and burns calories in the process. A 100g (4 oz) portion of raspberries contains a huge 7g of fibre and only 53 calories. Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are all great sources of fibre too. Another plus: Fibre causes some of the fat and calories from a meal or snack to “disappear”, by soaking them up and removing them through the digestive tract before the body can absorb them.

High-Fibre Cereals
Studies have found that women who ate high-fibre cereals at breakfast time were 30% less likely to be overweight than those who ate other breakfast foods. High-fibre cereals not only ramp up the metabolism, they also digest slowly so you feel full and energised for hours. Also, fibre helps keep insulin levels steady, which helps prevent fat storage.

Lean Proteins
Lean meats like lean beef, chicken and turkey help to speed up the metabolism and burn more fat simply because they require so much energy for complete digestion. Studies have shown that people who follow a high-protein diet burn twice as many calories after a meal as people who follow a high-carbohydrate diet. In addition, eating protein helps to preserve muscle mass during weight loss, which keeps your metabolism running at full speed.

Garlic
This unlikely energy-booster offers a host of health benefits, from boosting immunity to fighting aging and disease, and much more. Adding garlic to your diet, even in amounts you cannot detect, helps you shed weight, too. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that garlic increases the number of calories burned during daily activities whilst at the same time decreasing the body's production of fat.

Next – GI (Glycaemic Index) Made Easy…

Monday

Losing Weight, Step By Step...


We all know that walking burns calories, but just how many calories does it burn?

In general, an 11 stone person walking at average speed (from 2 to 3½ miles per hour) can count on burning about 80 calories a mile. This amount increases with your weight, your speed, and the shortness of your legs (the number of steps you need to take). For example, a 14 stone person will burn about 30 per cent more calories than an 11 stone person, and so on.

So a brisk walk, covering 3½ miles in an hour, burns about 280 calories. When repeated each day, this excellent habit burns almost 4000 calories (more than a pound of body fat) every 2 weeks.

Okay, so this rate of weight-loss might seem like a long way from the "pound-a-day" claims of some crash diets. But when you combine walking with sensible eating habits, a balanced diet with moderate portion sizes and fewer fats and sweets, all this can soon translate into a better-toned and healthier body.

But here’s the thing… walking does more than just burn calories. It also burns fat (which is more important), meaning that weight loss in this moderate range (one or two pounds of body-fat a week) is easier to maintain. In contrast, higher weight-loss rates tend to involve losses of water and lean muscle, as well as body fat.

If you are out of shape or overweight, your goal in getting started should be to walk as far as you can for as long as you can. Don't worry about speed. You'll be able to burn more calories by keeping to a moderate pace, walking for a longer time and thus covering more distance.

Walking's weight-loss potential is just as flexible as you are. So as your fitness level increases, you can raise the intensity of your program to increase the number of calories you burn. For example, walking at a brisk pace of four or five miles per hour and vigorously pumping your arms (Power walking), or hiking with a backpack are just two of the possible options for boosting the intensity of your walking routine.

In fact, power-walking can actually burn more calories than can slow jogging. At high power-walking speeds (like six or seven miles per hour), your body yearns to break into a jog. Forcing yourself to continue walking by keeping at least one foot on the ground at all times takes more energy than jogging at the same speed.

There are also substantial weight-loss payoffs for tackling hilly terrain. Even at a slow pace, going uphill dramatically raises walking's calorie costs, compared with following the same pace on level ground. Surprisingly, even going downhill burns more calories than covering level ground, because it takes extra energy for the body to resist its natural tendency to travel down the hill too fast. Walking on sand or dirt, rather than rigid asphalt or concrete, can also boost your calorie burn.

The advantages of walking don't stop there, either. The warm glow you feel after exercising is a sign that your metabolism is still revved up. This slight increase in post-exercise metabolic rate means you're burning a few extra calories even while you're resting :-)

Next Time – Discover which foods can affect your metabolic rate the most..

Sunday

How To Get Going When You're Overwhelmed With Everything..

Whether you’re about to start a new weight loss program or are some way into your journey, there are likely to be times when the whole prospect of everything that needs to be done to achieve your goal feels SO overwhelming.

And it’s no wonder really; as well as sometimes feeling like our eating habits and our weight are out of control and hating the way we look, we’ve got dietary changes to think about that will help trim calories. Then of course you also need to think about making sure that what you ARE eating is giving you adequate nutritional value. Then we’ve got to think about which activities we can engage in, and when. As our lifestyles get busier, and our time seems to get spread ever more thinly, exercise, activities and even some MEALS are difficult to fit in. And on top of all that, what about all the foods you should or shouldn’t eat to help control blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. How do you get started and what takes top priority?

Trouble is, when we become too overwhelmed and overloaded, if we really can’t see where to start, we’ll generally do nothing.

So what is the answer..?

Suppose you were tasked with picking apples. You’re stood underneath a huge apple tree and it’s your job to empty the entire tree and collect every last apple. It’s a big task; so easy to get overwhelmed. There must be hundreds of the damn things… where on Earth do you start…?

Well, this is a bit more obvious… you’d start by collecting the low hanging fruit. The apples you can reach effortlessly. Not only are these the easiest apples to reach, but collecting them also allows you to build a bit of momentum and inspires you to then try to work out how to claim the apples which are just slightly out of reach. Collecting those ‘slightly out of reach’ apples adds to your momentum and inspires you with ideas on how to reach further up the tree, and so on.

‘Cherry pick your goals’

You can apply this apple picking principle to your weight loss progress. Instead of worrying about a huge, ‘shopping list’ of things you want or need to change, cherry pick (or apple pick) the easiest tweaks to begin with and just focus on these. When you feel confident that you have achieved this change consistently (e.g. reducing how frequently you dine out or making one of your ‘short car journeys’ on foot regularly), then cherry pick another goal or two to focus on.

Doing the easier stuff at the start, helps you to get some momentum going, however small, which in turn motivates to ‘reach’ to the slightly more challenging changes as your weight-loss progress takes you further ‘up the apple tree’.

If you don’t yet feel ready to identify behaviour change goals, then start by ‘logging’ what you are currently doing for food and exercise. After a few weeks, review your log; it will be much clearer to you to identify where you can make changes. Writing things down that relate to your goals is very powerful.

If you struggle with weight control and also have high blood pressure and/or Type 2 diabetes, then one of the first and most important changes you may make is to increase physical activity. Doing so will help you control all three health problems at the same time. If you can't do activity for more than 10 minutes at a time, then start exactly where you are and DO 10 minutes. From there, you can build on this, to doing multiple sessions of 10 minutes each throughout the day.

If you are a meal skipper, then your very first step could be to consciously start eating three regular meals a day. This is very important if you are trying to lose weight; skipping meals tends to cause us to consume more calories throughout the day.

The key here is to NOT think about the bigger picture (for now), but to focus your attention on one or two things that you ARE able to make changes to. And don’t worry about all the other things you need to change; they represent the apples at the top of the tree. By the time you get round to picking those, you’ll have learned valuable lesson along your journey, you’ll also have momentum on your side and those ‘farthest reach apples’ won’t feel anywhere near as daunting.

Next Time: Walking To Lose Weight

Thursday

How Junk Food Is Designed To Trap Us Into Addiction..


Eating healthy and losing weight seems downright impossible for many people. Despite their best intentions, they repeatedly find themselves eating large amounts of unhealthy ‘junk’ foods, despite knowing full-well that it’s having the opposite effect on their weight than they’re aiming for.

So, what ‘strange force’ causes us to behave in such a contradictory way..?

We all feel we ‘know’ the health dangers of junk food - foods that can most generally be described as those which contain ‘empty calories’ and excessive amounts of substances known to cause harm to the body. What we don’t always appreciate though, is what keeps them SO popular? What makes tens of millions of people consume processed junk foods daily, even when they’re well aware of their health and dietary pitfalls?

Well, part of the reason is by design; that is, the way such foods are designed to appeal to our senses.

Junk food makers have perfected a process known as ‘subverting sensory-specific satiety’; a key food industry concept that sabotages your brains own ‘normal’ mechanisms for feeling ‘satisfied’, by creating a tendency for big, distinct flavours to overwhelm the brain, which then responds by enhancing your desire to have more.

Sensory-specific satiety is a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Cheetos or Doritos, etc, owe a large degree of their success to complex 0formulas that pleasure our taste buds just enough to be alluring, but don't have a distinct, overriding single flavour that would normally tell the brain to stop eating.

The resulting effects of some of these types of processed foods on our brain, can practically lead to outright addiction, where people often find themselves unable to stay in control around certain foods, no matter how hard they try.

In fact, the sensation of addiction to junk food draws many comparables with the way drug addicts are addicted to drugs. It involves the same areas in the brain, the same neurotransmitters and many of the symptoms are identical.

Processed junk foods have a powerful effect on the “reward” centres in the brain, involving brain neurotransmitters like dopamine. Foods that seem to be the most problematic include typical “junk foods,” as well as foods that contain either sugar or wheat, or both.

So, although we can often feel bad about ourselves when we’ve ‘given-in’ to a junk food craving, more often than not, food addiction isn’t about a lack of willpower, it is caused by the intense dopamine signal ‘hijacking’ the biochemistry of the brain.

Symptoms to look out for..

There is no blood test available to diagnose food addiction. Just like with other addictions, it is based on behavioural symptoms. Here then, are 8 common symptoms that are typical of food addicts:
 
1. You frequently get cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a nutritious meal.
 
2. When you give in and start eating a food you were craving, you often find yourself eating much more than you intended to.
 
3. When you eat a food you were craving, you sometimes eat to the point of feeling excessively ‘stuffed’.
 
4. You often feel guilty after eating particular foods, yet find yourself eating them again soon after.
 
5. You sometimes find yourself making excuses in your head about why you should eat something that you are craving.
 
6. You have repeatedly tried to quit eating or setting ‘rules’ about certain foods, but been unsuccessful.
 
7. You often hide your consumption of unhealthy foods from others.
 
8. You feel unable to control your consumption of unhealthy foods, despite knowing that they are causing you physical harm (includes weight gain).
 
If some of these behaviours seem familiar, then there’s every chance that you, like so many others, have to some degree become ensnared in the traps carefully designed by junk food manufacturers.

So, what are the best ways to free yourself from those unhealthy, addictive patterns of junk food eating…?

Well, once you’re aware that some of our eating patterns have been cunningly ‘engineered’ in a lab somewhere and it isn’t just about a lack of will power, that certainly is the first step in empowering you to do something about it. Here then, are a few ideas to help you tip the balance of control in your favour..

Firstly, there’s a lot to be said for keeping temptation out of harms way. Generally, we’ll do our food shopping at times when we’re in more control (unless you do your grocery shopping on an empty stomach of course!). So exercise that control by NOT buying unhealthy stuff in the first place.

With many processed junk foods, it isn’t that difficult to create your own ‘healthy version’ of something similar at home. Home made popcorn, oven-baked vegetable ‘crisps’, frozen fruit lollies, sweet potato fries (oven baked), are just a few examples of non-addictive, healthier versions of junk food.

Drink lots of water. Junk food consumption is linked closely with emotional eating and keeping yourself well hydrated will help reduce or eliminate those emotional hunger-pangs.

Plan ahead and avoid getting too hungry. When we allow ourselves to get too hungry, the kinds of foods we’ll crave tend to be high calorie, fat-laden or sugary rubbish. If you realise that you’re likely to start getting hungry before your next meal, simply planning a healthy snack in advance and eating it BEFORE the onset of hunger, can keep you free of those cravings in the first place.

Research suggests that our willpower can be measured and quantified throughout the day. Studies show that willpower and self-control are strongest in the earlier part of the day and become progressively weaker toward the end of the day. With this in mind, try to fill up on healthy foods early so that it’s easier to stave off late-night cravings.

Another way to protect ourselves is to supplement wisely. There are a number of natural formulas that help reduce cravings and support healthy blood sugar levels. Look for supplements containing ginseng, medicinal mushrooms, fish oil, alginates, chromium or alpha lipoic acid; these have been shown to help balance glucose and control cravings.

The best news is that good food choices, like bad ones, are self-sustaining. Meaning that when we eat mindfully and healthily, we get better nutrition, control blood sugar spikes and reap countless other benefits. With time, healthy foods and the abundance of good feelings they can generate, create their own special rewards; vibrancy, long-term health, vitality and of course, weight control. As a result, we feel great and start to crave the nutrient-dense foods that will keep us energized throughout the day, whilst at the same time noticing a marked reduction in cravings for unhealthy, processed junk-food.

Next – What to do when you become ‘overwhelmed’ with your weight situation

Friday

How To SLEEP Yourself Slimmer.


When we’re scrambling to meet the demands of modern life, cutting back on sleep can sometimes seem like the only answer. Who can afford to spend so much time sleeping? The truth is we can’t afford not to. Even minimal sleep loss takes its toll on our mood, energy levels, ability to handle stress and, you’ve guessed it, our weight.

The power of sleep

Many of us want to sleep as little as possible … or feel like we have to. There are so many things that seem more interesting or important than getting a few more hours of sleep. But just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, so is sleep. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and of course, your weight;

In fact, no other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

Understanding sleep

Sleep isn’t merely a time when your body and brain shut off. While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing a wide variety of biological maintenance tasks that keep you running in top condition and prepare you for the day ahead.

Without enough hours of restorative sleep, our bodies can be just like a car in need of its routine service; we just won’t function at our best. We won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to our true potential. It isn’t just the number of hours in bed that is important; it’s the quality of those hours of sleep. If you’re giving yourself plenty of time for sleep, but you’re still having trouble waking up in the morning or staying alert all day, you may not be spending enough time in the different stages of sleep; especially deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

By understanding how the sleep cycles work and the factors that can lead to those cycles being disrupted, you’ll be able to start getting both the quantity and the quality of sleep you need.

The sleep-wake cycle

Your internal 24-hour sleep-wake cycle or ‘biological clock’, is regulated by processes in the brain that respond to how long you’ve been awake and the changes between light and dark. At night, your body responds to the loss of daylight by producing melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. During the day, sunlight triggers the brain to inhibit melatonin production so you feel more awake and alert.

This sleep-wake cycle can be disrupted by factors such as nightshift work, traveling across time zones, or irregular sleeping patterns, leaving us feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times. The production of melatonin can also be thrown off when we’re deprived of sunlight during the day or exposed to too much artificial light. This disrupts the sleep-wake cycle, preventing us from getting the sleep we need.

How much sleep do I need?

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need  between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can ‘get by on’ and the amount you need to ‘function optimally’. Just because you’re able to operate on 6 or 7 hours of sleep, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed. The best way to figure out if you’re meeting your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you’re logging enough hours, you’re more likely to feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime.

If your sleep is disrupted or is poor quality and you’re wondering about the FULL EFFECTS of sleep deprivation on your body, click the following link;- HERE

If you would love to be enjoying regular nights of undisturbed, deep comfortable sleep, night after night, My tranquil sleep eBook and hypnotic sleep session is available for you to download right now. You could be sleeping like a baby tonight..!! Just visit - www.tonyschofield.co.uk/sleep

By the way, it would be great to connect on Facebook. Just ‘Like’ the following Page and I’ll keep you posted…


Next time: The Shocking Secrets Of Addictive Junk Food

Saturday

Why It's Okay To GAIN Weight...


What could be more frustrating after a week of making all the right choices, feeling in control and being completely disciplined, than to discover to your horror that you’ve actually GAINED weight..!!!

Why has it all gone wrong…???

Well let me tell you, NOTHING has gone wrong. In fact, if you’ve ever been shocked at the readout on your weekly weigh-in, the only thing you’ve done ‘wrong’ is that you haven’t EXPECTED your weight to increase on some occasions.

Weight fluctuations are inevitable and completely normal, and they happen to everybody. They can be caused by many different factors, such as consumption of a big meal, excess salt intake, water retention, constipation, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, stress, medication, etc, etc.

However, what’s important to realise is that the extra weight that you see on the scale does not come from an increase in body fat; it can be water, waste products or other substances that are temporarily present in your body.

When you’re losing weight, it would be totally unrealistic to expect your excess weight to reduce in nice, convenient, equal weekly amounts; that just isn’t going to happen.

In fact, take a look at these two weight charts; This first chart shows a weight reduction from 70.5 kg to 61.5 kg in 21 weeks. That equates to about a pound per week…
 
 

The individual in this next scale, reduces their weight from 190 lbs to 165 lbs in 13 weeks. That equates to about 2 lbs per week…
 
 

Whilst the ‘general trends’ of both these typical weight loss charts are heading the right way, they also clearly show almost as many gains in weight as reductions..!! This is completely natural and should be EXPECTED.

There are other times when your body may register an increase on the scales; such as when you’ve increased your activity levels by any significant amount and are building muscle mass. Muscle weighs slightly heavier than the fat it replaces, meaning that regular ‘muscle building’ activity is likely to result in your scales showing an increase in weight from time to time. Again, this is not a signal that your body fat has increased; in fact your body may well feel more toned and your clothes feeling as though they’re a little looser. In these circumstances you may well have ‘lost inches’ and even the odd clothing size (which is what people actually notice), although that doesn’t necessarily equate to a guaranteed reduction in overall body weight.

The important message here is ‘don’t get too hung up on individual weight readings’; they’re only a guide and don’t reflect the extent of everything that’s going on inside your body.

Okay, of course there are going to be a few times where an increase in your weight is a result of taking a couple of steps back… such as over the Christmas period or during holiday times. But even on these types of occasions, re-gaining the odd few pounds isn’t the end of the world…

Because losing weight successfully is a medium-term ‘project’ over several weeks or months, it’s completely realistic to accept that during some of those weeks, you’re going to be taken completely away from your regular routines and your focus is simply not going to be the same. As long as your steps forward are out-stepping your steps back, you’ll continue to head in the right direction, toward your goal.

So next time you step on those scales and discover you’ve taken a ‘step back’, there really is no need to beat yourself up about it; just keep at it… persistence is the key to keeping yourself moving toward your goal.

To highlight this, take a look at this cheesy, 3 minute, 70’s style plate-spinning video… you’ll lose count of the number of times this guy has to step-back.... but he gets there in the end

Plate Spinning
 
 

Next Time: How To SLEEP Yourself Slimmer…?

Just How BAD Is Sugar...?


We all know at some level that sugar is bad for us because it contains empty calories, but just how BAD is it…?

Well, whilst it’s true, sugar does contain a lot of calories with no essential nutrients, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sugar, primarily because of its high fructose content, sets up an extremely powerful biochemical drive to make you eat more, burn less fat and gain weight. Trying to exert willpower over this powerful drive can be next to impossible…

What is sugar?

Plain, white sugar or table sugar (sucrose) is made up of the molecules glucose and fructose.

One of the most commonly used ‘natural’ sweeteners, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), which is found in many (big name) processed sweet foods, such as sweets, tinned fruit, biscuits, flavoured yoghurts, ice cream, cereals, carbonated soft drinks, etc, also contains the two molecules glucose and fructose.

Now, glucose is absolutely vital to life and is an integral part of our metabolism. Our bodies produce it and we have a constant reservoir of it in the bloodstream. Every cell in the body can use glucose for energy and if we don’t get glucose from our diet, our bodies produce what we need, from proteins and fats.

Fructose however, is very different. This molecule is not a natural part of metabolism and humans do not produce it. In fact, very few cells in the body can make use of it except liver cells.

How does sugar affect us?

When we eat a lot of sugar, most of the fructose gets processed by the liver, where it gets turned into fat and secreted into the blood. This leads to elevated cholesterol and also an increased resistance to the hormone insulin (which can lead to diabetes).

Worse still, fructose also causes our bodies to become increasingly resistant to leptin (a hormone which regulates the amount of fat stored in our body), meaning our brains don’t “see” that our fat cells are full of fat. This leads to increased food intake and decreased fat burning.

Another thing you need to know about Fructose, is that it doesn’t make you feel satisfied after meals. Nor does it lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (another important hormone that regulates our food intake), as well as not reducing blood flow in the centres of the brain that control appetite. All this combines to increase our overall food intake.

And worse still…

Further to all this, with its powerful impact on the reward system, sugar causes addiction in certain individuals. This activates compelling reward-seeking behaviour that drives over-eating. In fact, some of the irresistible effects on the reward system in the brain can lead to addictions comparable to drugs of abuse.

In summary, when you’re looking to lose weight, those little ‘sweet treats’ are not as innocent as you might have thought. The more sugar you eat and the longer all these processes are allowed to continue, the more powerful they become. Insulin and leptin resistance increase over time and the reward-seeking behaviour becomes stronger. Sugar sets up an extremely powerful biochemical drive to make you eat more, burn less fat and gain weight. Trying to exert willpower over this powerful drive can be next to impossible.

Incidentally, it’s worth pointing out that this does NOT apply to fruits (in moderation), which are real, fibrous foods and represent a relatively minor source of fructose in our diet.

Next Blog – Why it’s okay to GAIN Weight..

Sunday

The 'Little White Lies' That Can Halt Your Weight-Loss Progress


Okay, so we all fib a little from time to time, but telling your friend her new outfit looks great (when you’re really thinking it’s a disaster!!) is pretty harmless. Lying to yourself about your own eating habits on the other hand, can wreak some real mental and physical consequences..

The trouble is that most of us do this without even thinking about it.

Now, I’m a big believer that once you’re aware of an enemy, it’s half beaten; so coming clean with yourself can certainly go a long way to helping you to finally losing weight – for good. Here then are 5 of the most common ‘little white lies’ we’ll kid ourselves with…

“I only eat when I’m hungry..”

When I’ve analysed  clients’ ‘food diaries’ in the past, this often turns out NOT to be the case; snacks eaten within an hour or two of a substantial meal, simply can’t be linked to ‘hunger’.

The desire for something to eat at these times, tends to be more ‘emotionally’ driven (stress, boredom, etc), rather than of a physical (actual hunger) nature

The tough part can be actually ‘being in the moment’ enough to recognise WHY you’re craving something to eat. Achieve this and you can more rationally begin to think of other, more healthy ways of coping with what’s really going on (relationship problem, financial worries, work stress, etc)

Dehydration is often a factor in craving food within a short time of your main meal. Again, being ‘in the moment’ enough to recognise this and you can blitz those untimely snack cravings on the spot, by drinking a glass of water and waiting for about 2 minutes; more often than not, your snack craving will have dissolved away.

“I’m not really a big drinker..”

Alcohol really can have a big impact on our weight. But we’ll often kid ourselves into believing we aren’t big drinkers, either because we’ve already cut-back, are comparing our self to other people who drink a lot more or we’ll justify weekend binging because we don’t drink through the week.

But as well as the high calorie content of the alcohol itself, a couple of drinks can have a negative knock-on effect. Knocking a few back drinks on Saturday night often leads to eating more at dinner, followed by going out for Sunday lunch, skipping the gym Monday morning, and giving into the office cakes on Monday afternoon. On the flip side, cutting back on booze helps you to feel “cleaner,” more in control, and motivated to eat healthier and be more active.

You’re level of desire to lose weight will determine how many sacrifices you’re prepared to make but if this one is on your list, you’ll almost certainly notice the benefits very quickly.

“I eat really healthily most of the time”

Most of the time…??? It’s what we’re eating the REST of the time that causes the problems! ‘Occasional treats’ such as weekly takeaways, pub lunches, office cakes, weekend wine downs and whatever catches our eye in the petrol station while we’re queuing to pay, all seem to elude being added to our mental calorie tally. Meaning that while some people genuinely believe they’re doing well, the reality is that on a day-to-day basis, while they don’t pig out, they’re not exactly earning any gold stars!!.

But being mindful enough to acknowledging that you could be looking at your diet through rose tinted glasses, is usually the first step to turning things around. Only once you come to terms with how you really eat, can you then go on to set yourself concrete goals that will improve your eating patterns.

“I can eat more because I work out a lot”

Many of us like to think of ourselves as “such an active person”, but in reality, it’s often wishful thinking.

Lots of my clients work full time, on top of juggling family and social responsibilities, which often leads to fitting in far fewer workouts than they’d like. When they do hit the gym, in fairness, they hit it hard, but many can only manage to get there two or three days a week, whilst continuing to eat as if they were working out every day!

Rather than following the same routine every day of the week, establish a “baseline” eating plan, for non-exercise days, then add to it on the days you work out. Mentally, it’s much easier to add to your plate, rather than take foods away.

Those sweets aren’t for me, they’re for [insert name of family member or friend]

Stocking up on packs of sweets, chocolate bars, ice creams and biscuits, then convincing ourselves they’re for someone else (Grandkids, partner, friend, etc) is a sure-fire way of self-sabotaging our weight-loss efforts. As a guess based on a lot of experience on this with clients, I would say that about 80% of snacks bought under this guise, are subsequently eaten by the purchaser.

If you think you might fall into this category and you still feel compelled to cram your cupboards full of temptations, try compiling a ‘Snack Diary’ for a couple of weeks, so you’re more aware of where they’re going. Or better still, how about coming up with snacks that you dislike, that can still be given to the person or people they were intended for..

Which ‘little white lies’ do you tell yourself..? Hit ‘Reply’ and tell me, I’d love to know..

Next Blog – We all know that sugar is bad for us, but did you realise just HOW bad..??

Saturday

Why Do We 'Give-Up' On Our Diets So Quickly?


The Top 7 Reasons We Give-Up On Our Diets
 
Even when it means SO much to lose weight, many people find themselves abandoning their attempts part way through and feeling like a failure. There are a number of reasons for this and awareness of some of these of up-front, can certainly help you in boosting your persistence and determination to stick at it...

Not Losing Weight Quickly Enough

Everyone wants ‘instant’ results. And I know that seeing quick results is key for staying motivated, feeling confident and inspired to stay on track, but it's important to put numbers into perspective.

If you aren’t seeing huge reductions on the scales each week, don't assume that your approach isn't working. Remember, shedding just a single pound of body fat is like melting a 500g tub of margarine off of your figure, which can make a huge difference in how you look, how your clothes fit and how you feel.

On the flip side, losing water weight, which is far easier and faster (and is cheating!), does nothing to change your body composition, and you can regain it all within a matter of hours.

So rather than getting hung up on numbers, focus on how you feel, whether your jeans fit looser, and how your body is changing.

Retaining An ‘Overweight’ Mind-set

When you’re really serious about losing weight.. when it’s an absolute must, you’ll know that realistically,  you’re going to need to make some sacrifices to boost your chances of continued success; and it’s also important to acknowledge up-front that breaking out of some of those old habits is not going to be easy.

Being aware of and accepting these realities in advance, will help to create a degree of expectation in you, allowing you to be more mentally prepared for those inevitable tough choices ahead.

Eating healthily and being disciplined with your exercise all week is fabulous; but if you then think, “I’ve been really good all week, so I deserve to go out and binge all weekend”, then that is an example of clinging on to an overweight mind-set.. and it’s likely to lead to you also clinging on to your excess weight.

What does losing weight really mean to you? If you could be the exact size and shape you desired and were able to wear and feel good in any clothes you chose, what would all that truly mean to you? With those thoughts in your mind, what are some of the foods or habits that you would be happy to forego, in exchange for a chance to work toward and achieve that dream?

Trying To Do It Alone

This is probably the top barrier my clients face when trying to stick with a new lifestyle approach.

It’s easy to understand why people ‘keep it to themselves’ when first setting out on a healthy eating regime; if it all goes wrong, no-one will be any the wiser. But therein lies the problem; it’s crucial to have the support and encouragement of those people around you to help you get through some of the inevitable ‘tough’ times you’re likely to encounter.

Often though, it’s our partners, friends, family members, and co-workers that are the ones who are happy to skip the gym, offer you ‘naughty’ tempting treats or suggest social activities that revolve around unhealthy patterns, such as take-aways, unhealthy snacks or excess alcohol.

If this is the case, of course it’s important to recruit the right kind of support. Team up with another health conscious co-worker to eat lunch with, connect with like-minded friends via email, text, or online, and celebrate your own successes by giving yourself regular pats on the back or healthy rewards for getting through challenging situations.

Even something small, like a song download, new app, a 10-minute chair massage, or a single fresh flower for your desk can help you stay in an empowered frame of mind that makes it easier to cope when there is limited support from others.

Slipping Up On Difficult Days

Regardless of how great you feel after revamping your eating habits and regularly hitting the gym, there are going to be days when you'll want to give up.

The truth is that it does take more time, energy, and awareness to live more healthy. So after a stressful day, when you're already tired and you still have to cook dinner, you may feel like throwing in the towel. Plus, we're practically programmed from birth to turn to food as a way to soothe, escape, reward, and comfort ourselves - so when you're mad at your boss or partner, foregoing a healthy home-cooked meal and ordering a take-away instead, sort of go hand in hand.

When you feel that urge, connect with your ‘support’ buddy, focus on the rewards of staying on track that go far beyond weight loss, like improvements in your mood, your sleep patterns and your self-confidence, and try to remember how great you feel when you're taking care of yourself. After all this, if you still end up falling off the wagon, start fresh the next day.

Losing weight is about consistency, not perfection, so don't let a ‘one off’ bad meal choice or a ‘one off’ bad day derail you completely. Steadily eating healthily and being active, with a few slip ups here and there, will produce far better results than streaks of strict days followed by an equal or greater number of indulgent ones.

Unrealistic Expectations

Setting unrealistic short-term goals for losing weight is pretty much setting yourself up to fail.

Most dieters want to lose large amounts of weight and aren't happy unless they lose 30%-40% of their body weight. When you set the bar unrealistically high and the time-scales too short, it can feel like you failed when you don't meet your goals. And when you think of yourself as a failure, this often triggers a return to old eating habits.

You might not fit into those skinny jeans just yet, but do try to keep in mind and feel positive about what you have achieved, rather what you have not.

For example, if you wanted to lose 3 stone by the Summer and you’ve actually lost 1, that does not mean you’ve failed; it means you’ve succeeded in reducing your weight by 14 lbs of body-fat; the equivalent of 50000 calories..!!! Fifty thousand calories is a fabulous achievement and when you think about it, when you originally set that ‘3 stone’ target, you really didn’t have any way of knowing what pitfalls, hurdles and obstacles lay ahead.

The point here is to set your targets realistically and embrace what you’ve achieved.

Not Increasing Our Activity Level

Some people just don't like to exercise, or have physical limitations that prevent them from doing it. But if you’re serious about making consistent progress with your weight-loss, you need to find some form of physical activity that you can do most days of the week.

If there is one behaviour that predicts weight loss success, it is being physically active on a regular basis.

Even if you already have an active job; if you’re active at work and overweight, that means that the calories you’re burning at work are being balanced by the calories you’re eating. On this basis, in order to lose weight you would still need to increase your activity levels, decrease your calorie intake or better still, both.

Physical activity brings about many health and psychological benefits aside from weight loss and exercise does not have to happen in a gym. Try gardening, dancing, walking, bike riding, swimming, or playing tennis, whatever you enjoy. The key is to start slowly and gradually increase your intensity.

Not changing Our Environment

Willpower alone is not going to get you to your weight-loss target. To be successful losing weight, you need to create a diet-friendly environment at home, at work and socially.

If you want to succeed, you need to make changes in your environment so you are not constantly dealing with or resisting temptations. There is much to be said about keeping temptation out of harms way.

For example, if there are unhealthy snacks in the cupboard or the fridge, how likely are you to be tempted by them? But if they weren’t there, how likely is it that you would venture out, just to buy this rubbish? Chances are the probability has reduced. Taking it further, what if there we’re plenty of healthy snacks in the house, but no unhealthy ones... wouldn’t that reduce the probability of you indulging in something unhealthy even further?

Stock your kitchen with nutritious foods so you have ingredients on hand for healthy meals and snacks. Take nutritious snacks and meals with you when you're on the go, so you'll be prepared when hunger strikes. Remove the chocolates and sweets from your desk, skip ‘wine and nibbles’ after work with your friends; do whatever it takes to set yourself up for success, even if it means hanging around with different friends.

NEXT BLOG

Little White Lies..

How to spot and break free of those ‘little white lies’ that we tell ourselves, keeping us locked in an ‘over-weight mind-set’…