Thursday, June 24, 2010

8 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

By Joe Wilkes
If you spend any time perusing the fashion mags and tabloid rags in the supermarket checkout line, you'll see a wide array of articles claiming to have discovered the latest "miracle food" that will burn off the pounds while you sit on your butt and eat. Well, sadly, the news isn't quite that good. Without regular exercise, a decent night's sleep, and a thought-out meal plan, your metabolic rate is going to be dragging. However, there are some things you can eat that will move the needle favorably into the fat-burning zone. And most of these foods are delicious and nutritious anyway, so why not? Here are eight of the best ones.

1. Fish. Most of us have read about the benefits of fish oil, which is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Found in many common oily fish like mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, tuna, and salmon, it can also be taken in capsules (at least 300 milligrams/day) by those who are averse to seafood. Fish consumption has been found to boost your calorie burn by as much as 400 calories a day. Fish is also full of great, low-fat, muscle-building protein (which requires your body to burn more calories to digest).

2. Dark green leafy vegetables. These include arugula, chard, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, and spinach. They are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and lots of fiber. While the vitamins are great antioxidants and very healthy for you, the fiber is where the rubber really meets the road as far as metabolism goes. Your body expends a lot more calories digesting fiber and protein than it does simply digesting carbohydrates. This is called the thermic effect—the amount of calories required to digest the food can sometimes be almost as much as the number of calories in the food itself. Dark leafies also contain many B vitamins, which are necessary to produce the enzymes for metabolism. Most other vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories and can boost your burn, but the cream of the crop, nutritionally speaking, are the dark green leafy vegetables. So listen to Popeye, and eat your spinach!

3. Tomatoes. Tomatoes have gotten a lot of good press lately, as they contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been proven to have several anti-carcinogenic properties. And like the dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes are also a good source of fiber. But tomatoes can also work overtime to flush fat, as they also contain citric, malic, and oxalic acids, which support your body's kidney functions, which helps your body eliminate more waste and fat from your system.

4. Blueberries and other whole fruits. Whole fruits contain lots of fiber, and many contain so much, they can be said to have "negative calories," meaning your body burns more calories digesting the food than it stores. One cup of blueberries only has about 80 calories, but 4 grams of fiber. Your body will expend much of those 80 calories digesting the 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries also contain lots of antioxidants, and are believed to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. And they taste great! Try adding them to a high-fiber unsweetened cereal or oatmeal in the morning to get your metabolism up and running at the start of your day.

5. Whole grains. Well, if you've read this far, you've probably gotten that fiber is key to keeping the metabolic fires burning. Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. This is where careful label reading comes in. Lots of items purporting to contain whole grains may only contain enough to make the claim truthful, and may in fact be full of insulin-spiking carbohydrates or sugars, which will take your metabolism in the wrong direction. Check the ingredient list of your breads and cereals carefully and make sure the preponderance of the ingredients is whole grain.

6. Chilies, curries, and other spices. Ever eaten a particularly spicy meal and felt your heart race a bit faster and your forehead start to perspire? The capsaicin found in many hot peppers and other spices can fire up your metabolism while it fires up your mouth. In fact, some studies have shown a 50 percent increase in metabolism for 3 hours after eating capsaicin. So it helps to keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand at mealtimes. You can use spices to add flavor to recipes instead of salty or fatty ingredients, which will also help kick your metabolism into a higher gear.

7. Green tea. Researchers have found that green tea consumption can increase calorie burning by up to four percent. It is believed to accomplish this by increasing metabolic rates as well as fat oxidation. Studies have also shown that green tea can reduce sugar cravings and can inhibit enzymes that slow digestion, thus raising metabolic rates. Its thermogenetic properties were convincing enough that Beachbody® includes it in its ActiVit® Metabolism Formula Multivitamins. Besides the metabolic properties, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, making it one of the most healthful beverage choices around.

8. Ice water. Almost every nutritionist will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, but did you know that if you drink ice water versus room-temperature water, your body will burn an extra 9 calories per glass? Drinking room-temperature water can burn about 16 calories per glass—that's 25 calories per glass for ice water. So, eight glasses of cool water a day can be responsible for burning 200 calories! Plus, water is necessary for all of your bodily processes, including the ones that control your metabolism. If you're underhydrated, your body will underperform. Water also flushes out fat deposits and toxins, which can hamper your energy.

And remember, a good night's sleep and smaller, evenly spaced meals can be your best metabolic friends. And the best thing to really get your metabolism going is exercise. You can burn almost 700 calories in one 45-minute Turbo Jam® workout alone. Also, stress has been found to produce cortisol, a metabolism-inhibiting steroid, so try and relax—have a blueberry. Or a fish!

Read more great topics:
How I Stopped Faking It
Facts on Fiber
Make Your Eyes Look Wider with Makeup
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Readin', Had Me a Blast! 3 New Book Reviews

By Denis Faye

Summer is upon us. Presumably, you've got your "beachified" body all in shape, and you're ready to hit the sand, relax on your towel, and do a little summer reading. Sure, you'll be poring through the latest Janet Evanovich novel, but between potboilers, why not take the opportunity to educate yourself on nutrition a little bit? There's a huge, healthy world out there beyond Michi's Ladder. Here are three new reads that mix recipes and education to help you explore the food you eat every day.

The 10 Things You Need to Eat by Dave Lieberman and Anahad O'Connor (William Morrow, $19.99)

Spoiler alert! The ten foods are tomatoes, avocados, beets, spinach, quinoa, lentils, cabbage, "super fish," nuts, and berries.

If you're thinking I just saved you 20 bucks, you're wrong. Any dope knows those foods are good for you, but do you know why? What I like about this book is the way the authors take each food and completely explore it. You'll learn about the cultural significance of each item as well as the what, how, and why of its nutritional value. For example, we all know the value of spinach, or "the captain of leafy greens," as the Spanish call it. But did you know that a 2007 study by the National Cancer Institute on half a million people showed that spinach may prevent cancer? Or are you aware that spinach has two to three times the antioxidant value of most veggies? Take that, cauliflower!

After fully briefing you on each food, the book lists several delicious recipes interspersed with practical preparation and storage hints. And while the recipes are largely healthy, they don't skimp on taste. True, the Baked Kale and Mushroom Ragout with Parmesan Bread Crumbs includes sugar, bacon, Parmesan cheese, and a baguette among the ingredients. At first glance, that may seem a little decadent, but you're getting a whole heap o' kale for a relatively small amount of indulgence, so it's not such a bad thing.

So if you're looking for a few tasty recipes and a lot of food knowledge, this book is a great investment.

I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening! by Devin Alexander (Broadway Books, $19.99)

Less informative but equally appetizing is The Biggest Loser® chef Devin Alexander's latest book. While everything here sounds delicious, I'm not as crazy about this cookbook. It's less about being healthy and more about being quick and not fattening. But admittedly, a book like this fills an important role in many people's lives. Some of us may be Food Nazis, but most of America isn't, so they need tools to help them to get to where they want to be. To me, the Kick-Butt Kahlua Sundae may be an aberration with its fat-free ice cream, chocolate syrup, and "whipped topping," but at 155 calories, 4 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbs, and no fat, it's a huge step up from the mini-tub of Chunky Monkey® some people might normally polish off for dessert.

And, to her credit, Alexander does specify which recipes are "all-natural." The book also includes a chart explaining how to substitute organic or natural foods for some of her more decadent ingredient choices, but it's fairly useless. (Don't want to use chocolate chips? Substitute organic chocolate chips!)

So if you're scrambling to lose weight and figure out how to eat, this might be a good book for you, but if you're a seasoned P90Xer steeped in extreme fitness, I say pass it by.

Drink This, Not That! by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding (Rodale, $19.99)

I have a Love This, Hate This relationship with the Eat This, Not That! series. On one hand, they offer unparalleled intel about the increasing convoluted array of "foods" Americans find at their local restaurant and grocery store chains. On the other hand, although you'll find solid nutritional advice in the fine print, the bulk of the guidance falls along the lines of, "Cutting off your whole hand is a bad idea. Why don't you try cutting off your thumb instead?" Drink This, Not That! is no exception.

For example, the 11th worst drink in America is Starbucks® Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream, checking in at 660 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 95 grams of sugar. The book compares the beverage to 8-1/2 scoops of coffee ice cream, and if you read the tiny print at the top of the page, you'll see, "If you want a caffeine buzz, stick to the regular joe, an Americano or a cappuccino."

But you're probably not going to read that 8-point type. Instead, your eyes will be drawn to the bright yellow circle in the bottom right-hand corner suggesting you swap it out for a 260-calorie Cinnamon Dolce Latte with Sugar Free Syrup. (Several pages later, and in a much less sexy font, the book does discuss the evils of artificial sweeteners, but that doesn't stop it from recommending them repeatedly.)

That said, this book lists absolutely everything you've ever wanted to know about every drink ever, including coffee, beer, wine, and spirits. It also offers several great drink recipes, including The Caffeinated Banana, which sounds great to me except for the pointless tablespoon of agave syrup, which also rears its prickly head in the Margarita recipe. News flash, boys: There's no need to add any kind of syrup to a real Margarita. It's tequila, lime juice, and triple sec or Cointreau®, end of story. I don't care if you're the editor of Men's Health, Zinczenko. I'm going to have Hemingway come back from the grave and give you a good slapping.

So I do think the book is worth investing in, but I'd disregard most of the Drink This! advice. Much like I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening!, this book may serve as a bridge to healthy eating, but I don't think it quite crosses the chasm. Liquid calories are a huge reason for America's weight problem, so stick to water, coffee, and tea—iced or hot—and you'll be fine.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Can Zigzag Dieting Work for You?

By Steve Edwards

One of the most effective dieting techniques we've found is zigzagging. Not to be confused with yo-yo dieting, zigzag is a technique that should be used anytime you want to increase or decrease your daily caloric intake, and can be used to find out what your caloric intake should be. Instead of moving straight to a new daily caloric number, you move in smaller increments on a staggered schedule. You hear the phase "listen to your body" all the time. Can Zigzag Dieting Work for You? actually teaches your body how to have a conversation with you.

Here's an example of how it works:

Say you're eating 1,500 calories a day and have been for a period of time during which you've lost weight. Now your weight loss has stagnated. This is a common scenario because the new, fitter you has a different body composition than the former you. You have more muscle and a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR). In order to continue your weight loss, you need to eat more, because 1,500 calories isn't enough—even though it once was—and now your body is reacting by slowing its metabolism and releasing cortisol in a protective response (often called starvation mode because this is how your body would respond to being starved).

It's possible this could be a lot more calories, depending on one's size. A large person who should be eating, say, 2,500 calories to maintain his or her optimal weight could lose weight by massively undereating when he or she is deconditioned. As this person's body composition changes, he or she will need more calories to continue to lose weight. So let's say this individual figures to need 2,500 calories a day.

Weight times 10, plus 10 percent to 30 percent for daily activity depending on how active you are, plus the estimated caloric burn of your exercise, or just click here to calculate your caloric needs at

You don't want to jump straight to 2,500 calories. First, it would create a shock to your system, and second, it may be wrong, as those calculators only give ballpark figures. The most effective thing to do is to zigzag your caloric intake. In this instance, I would recommend eating 2,000 calories per day for 3 to 4 days a week and 1,500 calories on the other days. Then, you note how your body responds, which I would expect to be positively on the higher caloric days and by feeling famished on the low-cal days.

You want to be energized but not hungry, so after a week or two of this, I would bump up to around 2,200 calories a day for 4 or 5 days, and 1,500 calories a day for 2 days for maybe one week. If you're still starving on the low days, try bumping them up to 2,000 calories a day and see how you respond. Use this tactic until you regulate, which means that you're energized but not hungry, and also not full. You can tell when you're eating too many calories because you'll begin to feel full, you won't digest your food between meals, and you'll feel more lethargic at the beginning of workouts.

Zigzag dieting works whether you need to reduce or increase your caloric intake, and whether you need a subtle change or a dramatic change. .There is no numbers formula except to increase/decrease in small increments between 200 and 500 calories a day, and to zigzag your caloric intake 2 to 4 times per week. Then, you just listen and let your body tell you how much you should eat

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5 Ways to Beat the Worktime Snack Attack
New Meal Plan Tool at Team Beachbody®!
Beauty Products from Target®: Can Cheaper Products Deliver Results?
Test Your Tomato IQ!
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Tips To Help You Find Happiness.....

By Janice Taylor

If you are looking for happiness, you've come to the right place! Happiness is a state of being that only you can create. Happiness is a choice that you make. Using what I've learned as a life and wellness coach, this gallery will share with you the best tips on happiness that can help you to create happiness in your life! Get ready to smile, chant, eat dark chocolate and dream... big!

21 Simples Way To Be Happy

Be Your Own Bff

Enjoy your own company. Embrace everything about you! Without a doubt, it’s the most important step towards being a happy person.

Smile, Giggle, Snigger, or Chuckle!

Smiling releases serotonin in the brain, which instantaneously gives your mood a lift.

Warm Up Your Tootsies

Pull on your best pair of warm socks, wiggle your toes and enjoy a cozy kind of bliss.

Sing Out Loud!

Shut the doors and the windows tight, put on your favorite song, and let your voice ring!

Indulge in Dark Chocolate

Savor a small piece and watch your mood improve.

Expect a Miracle

Believe that something wonderful will happen for you today. The universe is waiting to shower happy blessings on you.

Meditate, Pray, and Chant

Research shows that people who are spiritual tend to be happier and healthier than those who are not.

Laugh at Your Shortcomings

We all make mistakes; none of us is perfect. Forgive your imperfections, accept your faults, and laugh.

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

Seven or eight hours each night should increase your energy and decrease moodiness.

Count Your Blessings Daily

Gratitude, the emotion of thankfulness, is one of the key ingredients for living a happy life. Make gratitude a habit and happiness will be yours.

Wake Up Early!

Start the day off on a happy foot, with a happy thought. The morning hours are full of spiritual energy and prana (life force).

Let the Sun Shine In

20 minutes of sunlight per day improves mood and wards of Seasonal Affection Disorder (SAD).

Create a Positive Affirmation

Think it, read it, say it, sing it! "My happiness brings me more happiness."

Say "Good Job!"

Give yourself permission to pat yourself on the back. Recognize your accomplishments and positive qualities.

Catch Happiness from Others

Remembering that happiness is contagious, surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values, goals, and dreams.

Grow a Garden

Watching plants grow and thrive under your care is thrilling!

Pencil in 'Quiet' Time

Each and every day sit awhile, without television, without magazines, without the Internet. Just be!

Look to the Future

Set goals and then make plans to succeed and take action. Pursuing something we value always makes us happy.

Accept What You Cannot Change

Don't waste your precious time, energy, or thoughts on something that is beyond your control. Let it go.

Take a Cat Nap

A 10-minute nap is all it takes to rejuvenate your spirit and get the happiness to flow.

Love Everything

Love who you are. Love what you are doing. Love the person you're with. Love your friends and your enemies, too. Love! Love! Love!

Janice Taylor is the author of the Our Lady of Weight Loss blog on Beliefnet, and the book, All is Forgiven, Move On.