Saturday, January 23, 2016

Diets - Advice for Sticking to Your Diet Plan

Thousands of people try to start new a new diet each month. The dieting and weight loss industry is one of the most booming sectors within the lifestyle market purely because as people, we’re fatter than we’ve ever been before.
As the general public has become more aware of the hazards obesity poses, individuals are more inclined to take action to improve their health. For most, the first step on this path is to change their diet. When beginning a diet, people have as many different ways to prepare as there are diets to try. Unfortunately, what most diets, and dieters have in common is failure.

Some people fall at the first hurdle, can’t manage to make it through day one of their new, healthier lifestyle. Others stick to it for a week or more, see minimal or contradicting results and pack it in because it’s easier to get a take away than make a meal for four after a long week at work. Still more dieters will carry on and hit a plateau along the way – a natural point where weight loss stalls, which discourages even the most dedicated dieter and leads them to gradually slip back into their old, unhealthy habits. A few lucky souls make it through the finish line and attain their goal weight, but more often than not, they gradually slip back into old habits and the weight creeps back.
Few succeed in the ultimate goal: losing weight and keeping it off. Why is that? Most diet and nutrition experts agree that the root cause of failure is a simple lack of forward thinking. What follows is a simple list of easy changes you can make in your life before, during and after a diet to help ensure you get the best result for your effort and dedication.

Before the diet:

1. Set a realistic goal by checking what the recommended weight range is for your height and body type.

2. Eliminate caffeine if possible.

3. Wean yourself off of refined sugar.

4. Get rid of all the fatty, high-calorie, processed snacks and foods; give it away or chuck it out, but whatever you do, don’t keep temptation lurking in the kitchen cabinets or the back corner of your freezer.

5. Tell your friends, family and co-workers; particularly if you’re embarking on a radically different diet, you’ll need their support
find a suitable exercise, even if it is just taking a few extra trips up and down the stairs at work each day.

6. Stock up on healthy snacks; most diet plans have ‘free’ foods you’re allowed to eat liberally – stock up on these wherever possible so that there’s always something to hand, particularly during the first few days of your new diet.

7. Speak to your doctor; often your GP can help you choose a diet that best suits your body type and weight loss needs – a GP can also recommend an appropriate exercise programme and/or refer you to a suitable facility in your local area.

During the diet:

1. Join a support community online or in your local area.

2. Take it easy; don’t dwell on little mistakes or occasionally giving in to your cravings, these things happen and you can always work a little harder at the gym or a little longer on the treadmill.

3. Set milestones along the road to your goal weight – when you reach these, reward yourself with a treat that’s not diet related (for example, have a spa day but don’t indulge in a box of chocolates that will ultimately make you feel guilty).

4. Eat a healthy breakfast.

5. Learn to understand the labels on your food so that you make the best choices when shopping or making choices at restaurants.

6. Drink lots of water and herbal tea.

7. Snack when you’re hungry, particularly on foods your diet recommends you eat liberally.

8. Exercise

After the diet:

1. Eat sensibly, any foods you have eliminated from your diet but wish to reincorporate should be added back in gradually.

2. Choose healthy snacks.

3. Continue your exercise regime.

4. If you notice the weight returning, try following a short detox programme to revitalise.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dieting and Exercise - The Role of Exercise in a Healthy Diet

The modern diet is based on convenience – much of what we consume is at least partially prepared before it gets to our dinner plate, lunch box or snack tray. The result of this is that foods we consume are higher in fats and sugars than they are naturally – and what’s more, we’re not working half as hard to get dinner on the table because most of us don’t spend our day foraging around the neighbourhood or manually plowing a field to provide food for our bodies.

These two elements of our modern lifestyle are incompatible – and most of us consume more calories than our body needs to survive every day. Some people are fortunate enough to have a faster metabolism, which can eliminate the excess energy without adding inches to their waistline. Other people have realised that they need to take regular exercise and do so in a variety of ways. There are also those who limit their caloric intake to compensate for their lack of activity. Most nutritionists will tell you, however, that it is almost impossible to control your weight through diet alone.

Which is why there are gyms and fitness clubs in nearly every leisure park up and down the country. It is also why sales of celebrity-endorsed exercise videos and DVDs fly off the shelves. It is recommended that you do at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week to keep yourself fit and healthy; most people can make the time to exercise in their normal routine if they try and stick to this.

Exercising at home can be a challenge, particularly as cardio equipment, such as stationery cycles and rowing machines, can be expensive and more often than not ends up acting as a drying station for the laundry than a workout centre for your body. There are a number of recommendations that healthcare professionals can make, depending on your body type and goals.

Some simple tips for success are listed here:

1. Set realistic goals – it takes time to reshape your body and lose weight, a sensible expectation is to lose around 1kg per week.

2. There will be peaks and troughs in your weight loss, and the best way to get benefits from your exercise programme is to continue doing it. Increase the amount of exercise you’re doing (be that by adding time, reps or weight to the workout) by no more than 10% per week.

3. Always remember to stretch before and after exercising. Particularly if you haven’t exercised in a long time and are just beginning a new fitness regime, stretching can be a workout on its own.

4. Drink plenty of fluids – even when you’re just following a DVD exercise routine, it is important to keep yourself hydrated to get the greatest benefit from your workout.

5. Wear sensible shoes and clothing – it is especially important to wear appropriate shoes that fit correctly and provide adequate support.

6. Rest between workouts – in order to avoid straining yourself, particularly if you are new to exercise, it is important to give your muscles time to recover after exercise.

7. Learn the right techniques – exercises work best when done correctly, so check out a book or DVD from your local library if you aren’t sure how to do a particular exercise.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the following options for adding variety to your workout with virtually no cash outlay:

1. If you need some light free weights, try using tins of beans or soup.

2. Instead of buying workout DVDs or videos, check them out from your local library or rental shop first to be sure you like the workout – that way you don’t waste money on a workout you’ll only watch once.

3. You can walk or jog to the shop instead of driving when you only need to pick up a couple of things – doing this once a week will give your ordinary workout a boost.

4. Look out for local clubs or sports teams – usually the fees are minimal, and doing something in a group will provide you with extra motivation.

5. Try a skipping rope – you can use any old rope, as long as it’s long enough.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Healthy Balanced Diets

A healthy, well-balanced diet is one of the keys to a longer, healthier life. Few would disagree with that statement; however, the number of us who can honestly say we know how to balance our diet is small. By definition, a balanced diet simply means taking in the right proportions of all the nutrients your body needs to ensure that you’ve got all you need and nothing more. Below we’ve outlined the building blocks you need to follow when aiming for a balanced diet.

First, get to know your food pyramid. This is a tool you can use to determine what percentage of your daily intake certain food types should make up. The idea behind the food pyramid is to visually represent the proportions you should eat of each food group on a daily basis

The pyramid has five food groups:
1. Carbohydrates (starches): these are foods such as bread, pasta and potatoes. As a general rule, carbohydrates should make up about a third of the calories you eat each day. There are ‘good’ carbs and ‘bad’ carbs, however, and it is important to know the difference. ‘Bad’ carbs are found in refined foods, such as white bread and sugary snacks and cereals. Instead of ‘bad’ carbs, it’s recommended that you choose ‘good’ or ‘unrefined’ carbs whenever possible – these are found in brown and wholemeal bread, pasta and rice.

2. Fruit and veg: Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals to keep you looking and feeling great. You should aim to eat five 80g portions of fruit and veg each day, and try to consume a variety of different types to maximise the benefits.

3. Protein: Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Around one fifth of your daily calories should be protein-based – this includes meat, fish, eggs and some non-animal products like beans, soya products, seeds and nuts. Try to eat meat that is low in fat (reduce the fat by trimming your meats and skinning chicken before cooking). Also, aim to have two portions of fish every week.

4. Dairy: Cheese, milk and yoghurt are all dairy foods – though butter and cream are associated with dairy, they are classed as fats. Dairy products are rich in calcium which is essential for strong bones and teeth. You should try to get 700mg of calcium daily, which is roughly what you’d get from drinking a pint of milk or eating two small pots of yogurt. Calcium can also be found in leafy greens and soya products.

5. Fats/sugars: Fat and sugar should be the smallest components of your diet. There are two types of fat, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are found in cream, margarine and fried foods – these are generally deemed ‘bad’ fats as they can contribute to heart disease. Unsaturated fats are better as these can help keep your immune system healthy – these are found in vegetable oils and oily fish.

Sugars, particularly refined sugars, are bad as they erode tooth enamel and contribute to obesity by adding lots of ‘empty’ calories to your diet. Sugary foods should be avoided, and consumed only as a special treat.

Once you know the food groups and what proportions you should eat them in, there are a few simple steps you can take to enhance the benefits of eating a balanced diet. Some of these are:

1. Increase the amount of starchy foods you eat – starch provides energy and is found in foods such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta.

2. Eat more fruit and vegetables – these contain a great deal of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. A healthy, balanced diet includes at least five servings of fruit and veg each day.

3. Reduce your salt consumption - over-consumption of salt can lead to hypertension, stroke and heart disease.

4. Reduce your fat intake – saturated fat in particular is unhealthy and can lead to heart disease.

5. Drink less alcohol – excessive drinking can increase your risk of some cancers, as well as heart and liver disease. One unit of alcohol is a 25ml measure of spirit, a small glass of wine or half a pint of lager.