Category Archives for Lose Fat

12 Strategies for a Successful Meal Prep Day

One common strategy for saving money on food that shows up in a lot of frugality books and on many frugality websites is the idea of a “meal prep day,” sometimes simply called “meal prep Sunday” because people often use a Sunday to do it.

Read the full article at: lifehacker.com

Still Counting Calories and Chasing Them With Exercise?

This is a great post about the financial and time-management advantages of a meal-prep day.  But the most significant benefit of prepping meals in advance is fitness and weight loss, because it gives you control over the factors that will help you lose weight much more efficiently than counting calories and chasing those calories with exercise:

  1. Hunger Management
  2. Macronutrient ratios that affect metabolism
  3. Mindless Eating

Still Eating Over The Sink?

If you’re like most Americans, you probably do at least some of the following:

  • Wait until you’re hungry to eat, then eat until you feel full
  • Have no idea what a macronutrient is and how they affect your hunger and metabolism
  • Eat at your desk, in your car, at the drive-through, or standing over a sink or in front of an open fridge or over a paper towel without utensils

If you could change those habits tomorrow it would have a huge impact on your ability to lose weight – so huge that you could skip counting calories and going to the gym altogether – seriously!

Palms of Protein, Fists of Veggies

The way to do this is by planning and preparing healthy meals in advance.  Every meal should include at least 2 palm-sized portions of protein and 2 fist-sized portions of veggies.  This is simple to eyeball when you’re preparing meals in bulk.  Reducing the ratio of sugar and refined carbs in your diet and replacing those calories with protein and healthy fats will control your hunger, make you less prone to mindless snacking and overeating, and actually change the way your body stores and burns fat, to your advantage.

Nobody Saves Fries For Later

One of the most neglected yet significant components of successful weight loss is our psychological response to hunger signals.  Think about it – how often do you wait until you are famished to start eating?  How often do you start shoveling food into your mouth, continuing until you can’t take another bite?  

Advance meal-prep has built-in safeguards against all of this harmful behavior.  You are forced to make decisions about portion size and content in advance, and even if a portion leaves you feeling too full to finish it, storing leftovers for another meal is a natural part of the process, unlike the double-cheeseburger and super-size fries you just have to finish (have you ever put away half your fries for later? I didn’t think so).  

Also, advance meal prep makes it easy to eat just until you are no longer hungry (instead of full), and put the rest of the food away until later.  This habit will inevitably lead to better planned portion control in the future.

Donut or Breakfast Burrito?

The author of this Lifehacker post gets a little crazy – I wouldn’t recommend trying to prepare 252 meals on your first shot.  he does, however, offer some excellent practical advice and I would add this crucial element: start small.  Try preparing your next meal in advance, then your next day’s meals, etc. until you work up to a week.  Why not start today?  I am certain that having a delicious breakfast burrito waiting for you when you wake up will work wonders in helping you resist that donut box in the break room at work tomorrow.  What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Eat Healthy and Stick to It

Healthy eating. It’s something everyone knows they should do, but few of us do as consistently as we would like. Here’s how to change that.

Read the full article at: jamesclear.com

Stop Counting Calories and Chasing Them With Exercise

You don’t have to count calories or chase them with boring repetitive exercise to lose weight.  The latest scientific findings on eating habits offer amazingly simple strategies you can implement today with very little effort.

This is a great review by James Clear on the science of healthy eating.  He summarizes data from Brian Wansink’s excellent book, Mindless Eating, and the bestseller Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss.

Eat 20% Less With No Effort

The most practical advice you can take away from these excellent science-based reviews is that you can easily set up environmental cues to reduce your caloric intake by 20% or more without ever feeling deprived.

“Can’t” vs. “Won’t”

The most interesting psychological finding is that when you tell yourself you “can’t” eat something, you crave it more.  The studies suggest swapping that limitation for a sense of control – say “I won’t eat that”.  This simple semantic shift from “can’t” to “won’t” gives you an identity-based goal, putting you in the position of choosing what you eat and establishing your self image as the type of person who chooses an apple over a donut.

Cheating

The reason cheating works so well has nothing to do with shocking your metabolism – its effects are purely psychological and they are incredibly powerful:

  • Cheating gives you permission to commit

The single biggest obstacle to eating healthy is the fear of long-term commitment: the idea that I might never order another pizza or eat another brownie sundae is absolutely terrifying.  If I start out with a commitment that allows for intermittent cheating I’ll immediately jump right over the biggest hurdle of any new habit: getting started.

  • Cheating makes you more mindful of your guilty pleasures.

When you establish a habit of eating healthy most of the time and planning the what and when and how of your cheat meal, you exponentially increase your enjoyment of it.  You not only enjoy it multiple times in your mind with anticipation, you also savor every bite and every tiny detail of the experience as you indulge.

  • Planned cheating neutralizes guilt and powerfully reinforces your sense of control.

As Clear points out, if you cheat with the intention of immediately returning to your baseline of healthy eating, you not only eliminate guilt over your indulgence but you also remind your brain that you are completely in control of your cravings and you are the one who decides when you want to enjoy that pizza or brownie sundae.  This can feel incredibly empowering.

What These Studies Miss

I’m amazed that with all the excellent scientific work done on mindless eating, Brian Wansink can write an entire book and James Clear can write an exhaustive review and they can still miss the most obvious obstacles to mindful eating that we all experience every day:

  • Eating over the sink
  • Eating with the refrigerator or cupboard open
  • Eating standing up
  • Eating food on a paper towel, or from a bag

Have you convinced  your brain that calories consumed in this way don’t really count?  For most of my life I did.

I’ve found that the simplest acts of all: putting food on a plate, closing the refrigerator door, and sitting down, establishes an astonishing level of mindfulness with no thought or effort required.

 

7 ‘Get Fit’ Tips to Avoid This Year

I know that you want to get healthy this year, because it’s the most popular New Year’s resolution. Plenty of people want to help you, too, with everything from diet tips to exercise suggestions. They’ll tell you to make some lifestyle changes, to download a new app, or even to buy a wearable fitness tracker (those probably don’t work, by the way). But with lots of advice floating around, there are bound to be bad suggestions—those rooted in confirmation bias, trendiness, and pretty much anything except scientific evidence.

Read the full article at: gizmodo.com

The #1 New Year’s resolution, to get healthy nearly doubled the runner-up of getting organized, and tripled the third place resolution of living life to the fullest.

Freezing off your fat, wearing a corset, taking pills, or  is not going to get you there, but you already know that.

There are 3 simple changes you can make right now that will have a dramatic impact on your overall health for the rest of your life.

Sleep

Americans are chronically sleep deprived, and this affects the function of every body system from the brain on down.  You probably aren’t aware that drinking alcohol and staring at LED screens deprives you of the good quality deep sleep that your body needs to recharge.  So lay off the booze, read a book made of paper before bedtime, and set that bedtime an hour earlier.  The impact on your physical and mental health will be surprising and dramatic.

Eat Till You’re No Longer Hungry

When do you stop eating?  When you’re full?  Eating till you’re full is killing you.  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to fully register the fullness signals coming from your belly and bloodstream.  So you can circumvent that delay by stopping when you’ve eaten enough to take the edge off the hunger.  I used to have such a fear of hunger that I would stuff myself at every meal – thinking who knows when I’ll see food again.  But once I started the habit of just topping off, that anxiety melted away, and I started losing fat without even thinking about it.

Establish Trust In Your Future Self

If exercise were a pill it would be a wonder drug.  It makes you young, lean, smart, healthy and extends your life.  The reason it’s so hard to start and stick with an exercise program is that you’ve seen yourself fail too many times, so you’ve lost trust in your future self.  The way to re-establish this trust is to commit to a tiny micro-habit and observe yourself sticking to it.  It can be a 10-minute walk, or even a single pushup.  It’s not the behavior that matters but the trust you establish in yourself by doing it consistently.  Starting small today will form the foundation of trust which will allow you to take on bigger challenges, one step at a time.

 

 

3 Simple Steps to Lose Fat Quick (hint: it’s not paleo or cardio)

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No fancy-schmancy diet plans!  These 3 simple weight loss secrets that are rarely talked about will get you started losing fat today!

Weight loss studies almost never talk about them.   Every weight loss study focuses on selling the latest trendy diet plan – paleo, gluten-free, low carb, bulletproof etc.

You don’t need a diet book or video to figure out the glaringly obvious problem, and the solution is just as obvious.

30 % of our calories come from alcohol and added sugar – the worst possible sources for energy or nutrition.

We are chronically sleep deprived – which has been shown in study after study to cause hunger, overeating, weight gain, and fat storage.

5 of the top 6 sources of calories in the U.S. diet are:

  • cookies, cakes, and donuts
  • bread
  • soda
  • pizza
  • alcohol

The Ultimate Weight Loss Study

Here is the simplest design for a weight loss study – one group lives like typical Americans, consuming 30 percent of calories from alcohol and sugar, and being chronically sleep-deprived.  Group 2 skips happy hour and dessert, and goes to bed an hour earlier.  I am certain that group 2 would lose weight without any fancy expensive diet plan.

Will anybody ever do this study?  I doubt it.

How Sugar Makes You Fat

Sugar sneaks into everything.  Here are just a few of the dozens of super-secret stealth names for sugar

  • agave nectar
  • evaporated cane juice
  • brown rice syrup

Sneaky huh?  No matter what you call it, if it tastes sweet, it’s sugar.

Empty calories.  Except for alcohol, sugar is the worst choice you can make as a source of energy or nutrition.

Makes You Hungry.  The spike and crash of blood sugar and insulin make you hungrier sooner, so you consume more calories

Bulges your belly.  Fructose, the sweet chemical in sugar, becomes deep belly fat.

Causes heart disease.  That deep belly fat is associated with LDL and triglycerides, the bad cholesterol, and increases the risk of heart disease

Desensitizes your sweet-taste buds, so you crave more sweets, and eat even more calories.

How Sleep Deprivation Makes You Fat

If you sleep less, you eat more, and you don’t know when to stop.  Less than 6 hours of sleep makes your hunger hormones go all cattywampus – hunger signals go up, fullness signals turn off.

A single night of 4 hours of sleep induces insulin resistance – making you store more fat.

Sleep loss is stressful.  Stress hormone (cortisol) rises, causing you to eat more and store more fat.

Extra time to nosh.  Going to bed earlier gives you less time to snack at night.

Slows your metabolism.  Loss of deep (slow wave) sleep deprives your muscles of restorative energy – so your resting metabolism drops and you burn fewer calories.

How Alcohol Makes You Fat

Makes you eat stupid.  The prefrontal cortex is the executive office of the brain – where all the important decisions are made.  Alcohol affects the prefrontal cortex, shutting down the smart decision machine.  So you make poor food choices for immediate pleasure without considering the consequences.

Increases belly fat.  Alcohol, like sugar, is broken down in the liver, resulting in the accumulation of deep belly fat.

Reduces deep sleep.  Alcohol might seem to help you get to sleep – but it actually decreases the quality of sleep.  Suppression of restorative sleep causes all the fat-inducing effects listed above.

Nutritionally empty calories.  Alcohol is the worst choice for energy or nutrition, so you have to eat more calories to get the energy and nutrients your body needs.

Did you know?

sleep loss stimulates cannabinoid receptors, making you eat like a stoner with the munchies.

Cutting added sugar out of children’s diet measurably improved their health in only 10 days

Alcohol ranks 6th on the list of top 10 calorie sources for Americans, accounting for a whopping 16% of our calories.  The reason you don’t know this is that alcoholic beverages don’t have nutritional information labels.

How Exercise May Turn White Fat Into Brown

Exercise may aid in weight control and help to fend off diabetes by improving the ability of fat cells to burn calories.

Read the full article at: www.nytimes.com

There’s new evidence that exercise can help you burn more calories while you sleep.

Eat Fat & Exercise

There’s new scientific evidence every year that weight loss is much more than the simple matter of calories consumed, and that exercise is much more than calories burned.

Fat is Good

When it comes to hunger and metabolism, there is good evidence that eating healthy fats will help you manage your hunger better, and it will also change your metabolism so you actually store fat differently – you will store less deep belly fat.

The Fat That Burns Calories

This is almost too good to be true – there is actually a type of fat – brown fat – that is metabolically active.  That is to say, it burns calories.  Babies have a lot of this type of fat – its purpose is to generate heat to help regulate body temperature.

How to Get More Brown Fat

Scientists used to think that adults had very little brown fat, but there is new evidence that there may be a way to increase your stores of brown fat and guess what? it’s that wonder drug called exercise.

That’s right, there’s a hormone called irisin produced during exercise that can convert the typical lazy form of white fat into brown fat.  Regular exercise can stimulate your muscles to produce irisin.  If you increase your stores of brown fat, you will actually burn more calories at rest – even while you sleep.

The Wonder Drug

So exercise not only makes you happier, younger, smarter, and healthier – it also helps you burn more calories while you sleep.

 

 

 

10 Commandments of Fitness

Read the full article at: www.outsideonline.com

Sleep More, Eat Fat, Push Limits

Of these 10 awesome commandments, the most important ones you can implement right now are focusing on sleep, eating fat, and ignoring your limits.

Sleep and Fat

That’s right – 2 of the simplest things you can do right away are getting more sleep and eating more fat.  Sleep plays a regulatory role in modulating your hunger, so when your hunger hormones are in good control you’re going to naturally consume fewer calories without any effort at all.

Adequate slow wave or deep sleep also controls the level of stress hormone in your body, which results in more fat burning during activity and less storage of deep belly fat.

Hunger, Not Calories, is the Key

Nutrition science is clear on the issue: fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does.  The simple reason is that sugar stimulates hunger, bingeing, and overeating, while fat suppresses hunger.  Healthy fats – the kind in almonds and avocados – not the kind in chips, cookies, and other packaged snacks, will satisfy your appetite quicker and keep you feeling full longer.  The net result is that you will consume fewer calories throughout the day.  Your hunger will not come on as strongly and when you do eat your “I’m full” signal will kick in quicker.  So between fat and sleep you can make a dramatic change in your calorie intake without counting a single calorie or weighing a morsel of food.

Pushing Limits

Pushing your limits doesn’t have to mean extra reps with more weight, or higher intensity cardio.  A better way to push the envelope is with new types of movements.

Low Variety, High Repetition

If you are working out at a gym or with a trainer, you are most likely doing a low variety repetition of routine linear, mid-range movements that were designed to bulk-up a specific bundle of muscle fibers while stabilizing the rest of your body.  You sit in a chair and work one muscle while the rest of your body literally shuts down.  The result is specifically strengthened tissues next to weak underdeveloped ones, leading to deformity and unhealthy loads, reducing overall strength, agility and mobility.

Activate Your Muscles, Don’t Shut Them Down

That conventional model of fitness training deconstructs human movement into tiny one-dimensional slices. It reduces the broad range of human movement to a narrow type of ‘exercise’ that can be mechanized and marketed.  So stop exercising like a machine and start moving like a human.

Use Your Whole Body

You don’t have to accept the limitations other people place on your movement.  You were given a whole body so why not use it every day?  THE game-changer is new, holistic movement patterns that constantly challenge your body and mind with ever-changing alignments, loads, variations, and adaptations.  This type of challenge is, after all, how our bodies evolved into the incredibly finely-tuned wonders of movement that they are.

Don’t Be One Of Those People

Most people shy away from curvilinear, multi-dimensional, movement challenges in the liminal zone at the edge of their capabilities. Don’t be one of those people!  The reason is usually fear, of failure or injury.

Micro-Variation and Adaptation

If you learn how to properly and safely push into that zone every day, the constant adaptation and micro-variation required will keep your mind and body in a continuous state of being challenged. This will not only motivate you but it will also keep you young. Imagine the confidence of being able to do a little bit more every tomorrow than you could do yesterday. When you reach that point, chronological age becomes inconsequential.

 

 

 

 

Does Working Out In the Cold Burn More Calories?

Here’s your cheat sheet for stoking the furnace during winter workouts

Read the full article at: www.outsideonline.com

There’s even more scientific evidence accumulating that working out in the cold can help you burn more calories:

Brown Fat

Brown fat is a type of fat that helps us regulate body temperature, so it would make sense that its formation might be stimulated by cold temperatures.

Transforming Fat Cells

Just this year, a study published in Nature showed that regular exercise can produce a hormone that converts fat cells from the lazy kind to the kind that burns calories.

The formation of this metabolically active, so-called “brown fat”, is also stimulated by cold temperatures.

Coolout

In fact, The Joslin Diabetes Center has a special workout called the “Joslin Coolout” that uses cool temperatures to specifically activate brown fat.

This is the same reasoning that leads Tim Ferriss and other elite athletes to swear by ice baths.

Shivering

The effect of shivering on calorie burn is well known.  Shivering generates a lot of heat so its a major calorie-burner.  Most of these calories come from the depletion of muscle glycogen.  but since shivering is a sign of hypothermia, its not a good way to burn calories.

There is, however, another effect called “non-shivering thermogenesis” which may help you burn more calories in the cold.

No Sweat

I have noticed a psychological effect as well, when it takes some extra effort at the beginning just to get my muscles and joints warmed up.  Once I do get warmed up, I find myself motivated to work harder just to break a sweat, because doing so in the cold requires more effort and somehow feels a lot more rewarding.

 

 

The Wrong Eating Habits Can Hurt Your Brain, Not Just Your Waistline

A diet high in saturated fats and sugars can affect the parts of the brain that are important to memory. Diet-linked brain changes can also make people more likely to crave unhealthful food.

Read the full article at: www.npr.org

You Can’t Tell When You’re Full

Stop counting calories – here’s further scientific evidence that the effects of a bad diet extend far beyond the number of calories consumed – it actually impairs your memory and makes it difficult to determine when you are full.

Sugar Makes You Store More Fat, And Crave More Sugar

There is already conclusive evidence that a diet high in sugar and refined carbs has an effect on metabolism and hunger.  The result is you crave more sweet food, tend to overeat, and your body stores more fat (particularly deep belly fat) rather than burning it.

This metabolic effect stems from the fact that fructose (the chemical that makes sugar sweet) is metabolized in the liver and converted to deep belly fat.

A Bad Diet Also Changes Your Brain

Now there is new evidence that your diet can also change parts of your brain, making you crave more unhealthy food.

A study from The University of Cambridge revealed cognitive impairment in humans that had been demonstrated previously in rodents an American University study.  The brains of rats who were fed a bad diet underwent changes that impaired their ability to tell when they were full.

A 2015 study in the Journal of Pediatrics found obese children performed more poorly on memory tasks that test that same brain region  compared with kids who weren’t overweight.

The average

So Stop Counting Calories and Chasing Them With Exercise

The average American diet gets 30% of its calories from added sugar and alcohol.  It’s the composition of this diet that leads you into a vicious cycle of hunger and fat storage.

Now scientists are also discovering that a bad diet has longer term effects on your brain that worsen these cravings not just in the short term, but changes your brain for a long-term effect, and turns off your “i’m full” signals.

3 Steps to Change Right Now

  1. Replace your morning donut or sugary boxed cereal with whole grain oats & berries.
  2. Eat a palm-sized portion of protein and a fist-sized portion of veggies with every meal.
  3. Store healthy snacks like almonds and berries in clear baggies or bowls at eye-level.  Move cookies and chips to opaque containers in the way-back.

 

A Brief History of Humankind’s Desperate Attempts to Stay Fit

Having trouble sticking to your exercise routine? Don’t feel bad. Just look at our long drawn-out relationship with exercise gear—from discus to Thighmaster to jBells.

Read the full article at: www.wsj.com

As the author states, “Machines are nothing, motivation is everything”.  But willpower is not a superpower.  Willpower is for people who haven’t made up their minds.  If you’ve already committed to getting fit. then it’s just a matter of sticking to the choices you’ve already made in advance.

In his blog post about mental toughness, Tim Ferriss quotes former Navy Seal Trainer Jocko Willink:

“If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: Be tougher. Don’t meditate on it.”

He says it’s ok to start small.  If skipping that second martini and dessert is the plan then don’t think about it, just do it.  Even going to bed an hour earlier may take a significant amount of discipline.  So just make the plan & stick to it.

But why is it that so many people abandon their New Year’s resolution to get fit even before Valentine’s Day?

The answer is the monotony, the drudgery , the soul-crushing boredom and lame-ass results.  Gyms and fitness machines have constrained our movements into mechanized, repetitive, linear, core-stabilized, mid-range peripheral isolation moves that quickly cause you to lose motivation and just don’t give you the results you want to see in the mirror.

The author states what most of us are feeling:

“I’m looking for motivation that can beat the instant gratification of a peanut-butter cup. I want something that provides results before I throw in the towel.”

So the simple solution is to push slightly beyond your own limitations every day and the results you will experience will serve as a positive feedback motivation loop that will keep you motivated.  Get off the treadmill and instead of exercising like a machine start moving like  the human body was designed to move.

Repetitive, linear, core-stabilized, mid-range isolation moves will never give you results you want to see in the mirror.  The reason is clear: standard exercise deconstructs natural human movement into “linear, closed chains” resulting in athletes with specifically strengthened tissues sitting next to underdeveloped tissues.  According to Laird Hamilton, “When you sit down on an exercise machine, with your back against a chair, you tend to shut down the rest of your body.”

There are no ‘leg days’, ‘back days’, ‘arm days’, or recovery days, there are only whole-body days. You’ve got a whole body, right? so why not use it? Instead of mechanistically bulking up the same tiny bundle of mid-range isolated muscle fibers every day, why not stimulate the maximum number of fibers over the entire range of temporal-spatial dimensions available to you?  Why not let everything get more defined, stronger and more agile in balance with everything else?

Reject the limits that other people and the ‘exercise’ establishment have placed on you.  Stop exercising and start learning how to move.

 

The 4 Elements of Physical Energy and How to Master Them

“Manage your energy, not your time” says the famous quote from Tony Schwartz. Here’s how to do that, beginning with physical energy.

Read the full article at: blog.bufferapp.com

One Simple Yet Powerful Change

The most simple and powerful change you can make with respect to fitness has nothing to do with food or exercise.

Go to sleep an hour earlier.

Seriously, that’s it.  Here’s Why:

 

  1. Sleep is calorie-free energy,
  2. Adequate sleep regulates hunger
  3. Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism and increases stress hormones, causing you to store more fat

 

A number of studies have demonstrated that sleep regulates leptin, ghrelin, and endocannabinoids, all of which modulate hunger signals.  There is also solid evidence that adequate deep sleep improves athletic performance.  Check out this infographic for a summary of these findings.

Hunger Management

The other powerful change you can make in managing your physical energy has to do with blood glucose levels.  Many articles and books make this sound much more complicated than it needs to be so here’s a simple, practical approach.

Carb Confusion

Carbohydrates are of 3 basic types:

  1. Sweets (anything that tastes sweet)
  2. Starches and refined carbs (bread, pasta, boxed cereal)
  3. Whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice)

 

The first 2 cause your blood glucose and insulin levels to spike, which depletes your energy and makes you hungry sooner.  This cycle leads to overeating every day.  Whole grains, on the other hand, tend to keep your glucose and insulin levels more stable, which controls your hunger better.

 

Food labels can be confusing, so here is a simple test to determine if a food is whole grain – if the carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio is less than 10-to-1.  Don’t worry about the serving size, just divide the grams of carbs in a serving by the grams of fiber – if it’s less than 10, you’re good.

Mouth Feel and Belly Feel

I’ve become so used to the hearty texture of whole grains that refined grains have begun to feel insubstantial.  Try this experiment.  Prepare, side-by-side, a bowl of packaged instant oatmeal and a bowl of steel-cut oats.  Notice as you prepare them how the refined oats are light powdery flakes and the whole grain consists of firm gritty nuggets.

Now taste a spoonful of each.  Pay particular attention to how they each feel in your mouth and in your belly.  If you’re like me, the refined packaged oats will feel like mush in your mouth and pretty insubstantial in your belly.  The Whole grain oats have a gritty nugget-y mouth feel and they give you that feeling of fullness in your belly much sooner than the refined oatmeal.

That firm, gritty texture might feel different at first, but you will soon notice that it keeps your hunger in check all day.  And it’s the best way to start managing your hunger, and begin losing fat for good.

 

The Case Against Sugar Review – an Unsweetened Attack on Diet Myths

Gary Taubes’s latest assault on the ruinous effect of sugar on our lives and the promotion of fat-free diets is detailed and compelling

Read the full article at: www.theguardian.com

Sugar is Not Just Empty Calories

Even more important are its effects on hunger and metabolism.  Sugar causes your insulin levels to spike, which results in a   later sugar “crash” in which the hunger causes you to overeat.   This cycle continues as you satisfy that hunger with more sugar, causing another insulin spike.  Over time, these insulin spikes desensitize your body to insulin, which is a major cause of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Change The Way Your Body Stores Fat

The other important effect of sugar is on your metabolism and fat storage.  It’s not just that the calories in sugar are stored as fat, but rather that a diet high in sugar changes the way your body stores fat overall.  The net effect is that a greater proportion of ALL the calories you eat are stored as fat.

Heart Health

There is also an effect on the type and location of fat that is detrimental to your heart health.  Fructose, which is the chemical that makes sugar taste sweet, is metabolized in the liver, and this process results in the accumulation of visceral, or deep belly fat.  This type of fat is not only unsightly but it also raises your level of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

So Gary Taubes continues to fight the good fight, against the food industry who wants you to believe that all calories are equal.  They’re not.  Sugar is what’s making you fat.

 

One Simple Yet Powerful Change

Try this simple experiment on yourself for one week: replace your sweet cereal with whole grains like steel-cut oats with berries and coconut milk.  For a week make fruit the sweetest thing you eat all day.  You will notice 2 things right away.  Your cravings for sweets will disappear and body fat will start melting away effortlessly.

 

14 Modern Fitness Myths Busted

Fact-checking trusted training maxims.

Read the full article at: www.outsideonline.com

If you only correct 2 misconceptions about your fitness this year, these 2 will give you the biggest impact by far:

 

  • Fat doesn’t make you fat
  • Visualize your workouts

 

It’s the sugar in your diet that’s making you fat.  Did you know that the average American could reduce calorie intake by 30 percent merely by eliminating the nutritionally empty calories of added sugar and alcohol.

These calories are not only nutritionally empty, they also don’t satisfy, so they make you hungry sooner and lead to binge eating.  Even worse, they’re metabolized in the liver and converted to deep belly fat.  Guess what does suppress hunger?  You got it – it’s fat.  Not the kind in chips and bagged snacks that makes you eat more, but the healthy kind, in almonds, avocados, olives, and coconut.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything sweet, just try limiting your sweets to fruits, and add some nuts and coconut to the mix.  If you’re used to donuts and candy bars there will be an adjustment period but your sweet taste receptors will adapt and you will soon gain the same satisfaction from fruits.  Berries are the best because they have the lowest concentration of fructose and the highest levels of protein, fiber, and phytonutrients.

So try it for a week – make fruit the sweetest thing you eat all day.  A clever psychological hack to increase your chances of success is to position a clear bowl of fresh fruit at eye level in your fridge so it’s the first thing you see when you open the door.

The other busted fitness myth that you can put to work for you today is that visualization improves performance for all levels of athletes.  If there is something you want to achieve, like a handstand, take a minute to visualize yourself floating up into a perfect handstand every day.  As you pursue your goal the visualization technique will help you simply because you are seeing the result as possible.  The biggest obstacle to achieving any fitness goals is just getting started, and visualization is a way of tricking your subconscious into thinking you’re already on the way before you even start.  Your subconscious wants to believe what you tell it, so tell it you’re an athlete and guess what?  You are.

 

7 Simple Rules for Getting Lean in 2017

Seven easy rules for keeping your fitness New Year’s resolution in 2017.

Read the full article at: www.esquire.com

If I were to choose one of these rules for the new year it would be #5 – earning your carbs – but I would add that the preparation and timing of those carbs is absolutely critical to reaching your goal – torching body fat and building lean muscle.

The first thing I do every morning is eat a bowl of steel cut oats made with coconut milk and topped with toasted coconut and frozen berries.  This is delicious and along with a strong cup of coffee gives me incentive to jump out of bed every morning.  It also gives me an energy burst that fuels one of my high-intensity interval workout of jump yoga which I’ve pre-programmed using an app called Seconds.

The difference between a breakfast like this and cereal in a box is huge, and it takes only about a minute more of prep-time.  Making this a habit, even for 17 days, will make a noticeable difference in your energy level and appetite all day.  In his awesome post about how to become a morning person, John Zeratsky’s 3 crucial elements are light, coffee, and something to do.  So make that something to do the preparation of a delicious cup of coffee and your whole grain breakfast with berries and coconut.

What’s the difference between cereal in a box and a whole grain breakfast of steel cut oats with berries and coconut?

  • Whole grains still have the germ, the endosperm and the bran which is stripped out of most refined grains – this is where all the phytonutrients and fiber are.  Fiber slows digestion so you fill up faster and stay satisfied longer.
  • The fact that fiber fills you up and that berries have the lowest fructose content and highest protein and fiber content of any fruit, means that you start re-sensitizing your tastebuds to sugar, which is something you lose without realizing it when you eat sugary cereals.
  • Sugar in boxed cereals makes you hungry sooner and it is converted to deep belly fat in the liver.  When you eat whole grains you stay satisfied longer.

So you reduce hunger and sugar cravings for the rest of the day while giving yourself a sustained feeling of satiety that will manage hunger and prevent overeating and impulse eating.

Sleep and alcohol are probably a close tie for second place for the biggest impact you can make right away.  If you’re not getting enough sleep, following a pre-bedtime ritual of disconnecting from electronic devices (listen to an audiobook or read a paper book), dimming the lights. making your bedroom cool and dark, even turning down the bed will help promote the production of melatonin – a sleep hormone.  Many studies focus on the restorative deep slow wave sleep as recovery for the body and REM sleep for the brain.  But adequate sleep also regulates ghrelin, leptin, and endocannabinoids, all of which modulate appetite and lead to overeating in the sleep deprived.

There are also studies linking improved quality of sleep to enhanced athletic performance.

Finally, just stop drinking alcohol.  Here are 5 great reasons why:

  • It increases deep belly fat
  • it has no nutritional value
  • it makes you eat stupid
  • it slows fat metabolism
  • it inhibits deep sleep

So you really only need 3 simple tweaks to start getting lean in 2017:

  • Get to sleep earlier
  • Start the morning with whole grains & berries
  • Cut down on alcohol or, even better, eliminate it completely.

 

3 Ridiculously Easy Tricks To Lose Weight On Autopilot in 2017

Forget Counting Calories.  Give Up Deprivation Diets.  Sell Your Scale on eBay.

Listen up - you can apply new scientific findings to start losing weight in 2017 without even thinking about it.

The average American has gained 30 pounds over the past 20 years.  That might sound like a lot but when you do the math, it actually comes down to less than 10 calories a day, which is like 2 peanut M&Ms.

Seriously, 2 Peanut M&Ms!

What that means is that simply maintaining your weight - that is not gaining weight - should be ridiculously easy.  But what about weighing less at the end of 2017 than you do now?

​According to Brian Wansink Ph.D., Author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, In one year's time you will gain or lose approximately one pound for every 10 calories you add or eliminate every day.

Simple Math

The math is pretty simple: cut out one can of Coke (140 calories) per day, lose 14 pounds.  Forego a candy bar (270 calories) a day, lose 27 pounds.  Give up a 420-calorie donut a day, lose 42 pounds.  All by January 1st, 2018

  • 1 can of Coke per day - lose 14 pounds
  • 1 candy bar per day - lose 27 pounds
  • 1 donut per day - lose 42 pounds

​There's an Easier Way

Now I know what you're thinking: you don't want to give up that donut, that Snicker's bar, or that can of Coke.  Well there is a much easier way to cut out that same number of calories and not feel the least bit deprived.

​Do This On New Year's Day

This is powerful stuff: scientific studies show that a few simple tricks and tiny tweaks to re-engineer your environment will actually have a significant impact on what you eat AND how much you eat.  You can implement all of these changes in 5 minutes or less.  The result will actually be weight loss on autopilot for the whole year.

​Step 1 - What You See is What You Eat 

​Are you ready for this?  You are 3 times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the 5th thing you see.  So your first trick to start losing weight is just moving a few things around.

Why is it that everybody hides their fruits and vegetables in those little drawers at the bottom of the fridge where they get wet and rotten?  That little quirk is causing you to gain weight because fresh produce is the last thing you'll see when you open the refrigerator.

Store fruit in clear bowls and at eye level

Store fruit in clear bowls and at eye level

Even worse, you have to work harder to get to those fruits & veggies because you have to open those little drawers and for some reason they're the kind of drawers that always seem to jam and never open smoothly.

So here's the fix: move all of your fresh produce to eye level.  In fact, reserve the eye-level shelf and the container in the door for fruits and veggies only.  Get some ​zip-bags, stackable tupperware containers and an attractive bowl to display all the delicious fruit you buy rather than hiding it away to rot in drawers that you can't see and are hard to open.

Now apply the same logic to your cupboard - healthy snacks and foods like nuts and tuna right up front at eye level.  Cookies, cakes, and candy go high, low, and way back - easy, right?​

​Step 2 - Bag It Up

​Here's another weird scientific finding: how much you eat is determined by the size of the container you're eating from.  This was confirmed with more than 47 products by Dr. Wansink's lab.  These studies included people eating twice as many M&Ms from a 1 pound bag versus a half-pound bag.  In fact, we use more of all kinds of products when they come in bigger packages, including dog food and shampoo.

You eat twice as many M&Ms from a big bag versus a small one

You eat twice as many M&Ms from a big bag versus a small one

Th​e reason is that we look for external cues to tell us how much to eat instead of simply relying on  our own feelings of hunger and fullness.  The studies show that there is a 20% "error-bar" extending in both directions, which means that you will eat an average of 20% more or less depending on the size of the container.

Remembering our math we learned in the introduction above, for a single 250 calorie snack a day, that 20% margin can add up to 25 pounds over the course of a year.  Would you rather weigh 25 pounds more or less a year from now?

The action step here is simple​: put your snacks in smaller packages.  Get some small zip-close baggies.  Buy the ones with the actual slider-zipper, not the zip-strip, because the sliders are much easier to open and close and they will keep your food fresher.

if this seems like a lot of work, just get started with the worst offenders - chips, cookies and candy.  Take them out of their original packages and divide them up into 5 to 7 smaller baggies.  Remember the idea here isn't to measure precisely but rather to simply start eating snacks out of smaller containers.  You will magically eat 20% less on average every time you pick up a bag of snacks.  And those bags will be harder to pick up since they'll be low down, high up, or way back.

​Step 3 - Clarity vs. Opacity

Cover plates and bowls of cakes and cookies with aluminum foil

Cover plates and bowls of cakes and cookies with aluminum foil

This final step takes step 1 above to the next level.  Start making use of the different opacity of containers and kitchen wraps as an external cue of what to eat.

You can see through plastic wrap, so use it to cover bowls of healthy leftovers, tuna, salads, fruits and vegetables.   Cover plates of cake and other leftover desserts or sweets with aluminum foil.

​In fact, store healthy protein like leftover salmon or tuna and fresh produce in glass bowls or clear containers so you always see them first.

​Remember those baggies of cookies, chips, and candy you portioned out earlier?  Wrap them in aluminum foil too, or put them into an opaque container in the back of your cupboard, making them harder to see and to reach.

​When you're done you should open your refrigerator to see a nice clear glass bowl full of healthy fruit, surrounded by  clear tupperware containers of vegetables and healthy leftovers.  The desserts will be exiled to low shelves and the way back.

​What Are You Waiting For?

Imagine losing 25 pound by New Year's Day 2018 without dieting, counting calories, or even thinking about what you eat.  Take these 3 ridiculously easy steps right now, before New Year's Day, and put the latest science of eating to work for you to lose weight on autopilot through all of 2017.

Life-Changing Scientific Fitness Findings of 2016

Two numbers are particularly emblematic of what science had to tell us abut fitness this year: 42 percent and $2,500.

Read the full article at: www.nytimes.com

Dude, these are nothing short of life-changing scientific fitness findings that were only discovered THIS YEAR!  So, seriously, listen up.

This first one is my favorite – you can actually feed your brain with exercise.  We’re not talking metaphorically here.  The study showed that exercise was like pizza for the brain – you heard me right, pizza!

Students were allowed to eat as much of their favorite pizza as they wanted after intense mental activity and when they exercised first they actually ate less.

The mechanism has to do with blood glucose and lactate levels but the bottom line is that there is actually a difference between brain hunger and muscle hunger and you can suppress brain hunger by working out.

The other astonishing findings were that exercise produces hormones that can change fat cells from the lazy kind (white fat) to the kind that burns calories (brown fat).  Exercise also produces proteins that cause brain cells to produce new neurons.  And not just any neurons, but neurons with a kind of “superpower” – the ability to multitask.  These neurons are able to enhance completely unrelated cognitive skills.

Finally, studies this year showed that your risk of premature death is increased by 42 percent if you are out of shape, which is almost as bad as smoking.  Any exercise, even walking, will also save you an average of $2,500 annually on medical costs.

If there were a pill that made you lean, smart, extended your life, and saved you money, would you take it?  There is, it’s called exercise.  So what are you waiting for?

The Case for Cheating on Your Diet

Some athletes swear by a once-a-week indulgence. Are they right?

Read the full article at: www.outsideonline.com

Mathematical arguments just don’t cut it – it’s not about calories in minus calories out.

The real advantage of cheating on your diet is much more psychological than physiological.  This makes sense because hunger is more of a mood than a physiological process subject to chemical and mathematical analysis.

There are 3 huge benefits of giving yourself a cheat day, cheat meal or even just a cheat dessert:

  • You enjoy it more
  • You miss it less
  • You Learn hunger management

Every time you turn down junk food snacks and drive-thru meals in favor of healthier options, remind yourself of your cheat day and how you can plan and choose your favorite indulgences for that day.  Those mediocre alternatives which are only tempting because they happen to be convenient or quick, will start seeming less gratifying when you compare them to the future pleasure of planning to eat as much as you want of your favorite foods.

You will notice motivational rewards to sticking to your diet that perhaps you weren’t expecting, like a feeling of control, mastery of your appetite and purpose in reaching your goals.  As you feel yourself getting lighter, more agile, and more mobile, that powerful motivational feedback will reinforce your willpower, allowing you to stick to your diet and miss those indulgent foods less.  You will start realizing identity-based goals, like being the kind of person who when tempted by a donut, eats an apple, or one who exercises every morning on first awakening.  Once you start feeling these motivational forces kick in, they will be a powerful substitute for the short-term reward of junk food.

When you condense your indulgences to a single day or meal, you will quickly get a powerful lesson in hunger management.  Your first impulse might be to stuff your face, but after a while you will get much more selective not only about the foods you indulge in on your cheat day but also the manner in which you consume them.  You will find it far more enjoyable to eat until your are no longer hungry rather than eating until you are full.  This lesson in hunger management will then benefit you on your non-cheat days as well.

Building a cheat day or meal into your diet is the best way to learn that successful dieting is not about starvation or calorie counting but rather hunger management.  Planning your indulgences will make you much more mindful of your cravings and how to manage them.  The new habits you establish on your diet will be much more likely to stick with you for the long term.

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