The Wonders of Lemon Water for Fat Loss

Lemons can help aid weight loss
When life gives you lemons – make lemon water!

It appears, lemons are not just for lemonade!  Lemons have a barrage of uses and benefits from beauty regimes, cleaning products, cooking, to fighting infections.  Lemons are also a very powerful agent in fat loss.  It’s the citric acid in lemons (containing the highest amount of any other fruit) that make them such a powerhouse among fruits. One of the reasons we hold on to extra body fat is related to a poor functioning digestive system.

Poor digestion is a very common problem with most people and is often caused by an inconsistent diet, meaning, a diet lacking in certain nutrients.  Those that follow different types of diet trends can aggravate digestive problems by restricting certain essential nutrients that the body needs to burn fat.  Without the proper nutrients, digestion slows down which, in turn, slows down your metabolism and makes fat loss impossible.  When the body is not receiving proper nutrients, it triggers a craving for these nutrients making you feel hungry when in actuality, you are not.

How can lemons help this? It’s amazing what this little fruit can actually do!  Most people eat foods that create an acidic environment in the body, which leads to all sorts of digestive and health problems.  Ironically, lemons (even though they are high in citric acid) have an alkalizing or neutralizing effect in the body.  The benefits stem from this alkalizing effect.

Why You Need Lemons

  • Lemons help purify the liver by removing toxins. When there’s a build up of toxins in your body, it can result in feeling sluggish, bloated, and depressed.  Toxins in the body also hold on to fat, so in order to lose the fat, you need to flush out the toxins.  The added benefit of clearing toxic waste is a clear and glowing complexion!  Add a wedge of lemon to your glass of water.
  • A great weight loss aid! The peel of the lemon contains pectin which is a great source of fiber.  Pectin helps slow down sugar absorption in the stomach which helps keep hunger cravings at bay, for up to 4 hours!  A great way to get pectin in your diet:  grate some lemon zest on your salad or in your pasta sauce.
  • Can relieve digestive problems. According to The Lemon Juice Diet, drinking warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning will stimulate the digestive system and have revitalizing effect on the liver.  It can relieve digestive problems such as nausea, heartburn, constipation and parasites.
  • Helps heighten immunity. Lemons contain Vitamin C which helps to prevent and treat different types of infections, allergies, and symptoms of asthma.

Love your Lemons

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Balance your pH level and Lose Fat Fast!

pH is a chemistry term that describes whether something is acidic or basic (alkaline).  It’s based on a scale from 1-14.  1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic.  The middle is neutral at pH 7.  This is an important number, since your body happens to function most optimally at pH 7.  In fact, you can only survive within a very strict range of pH 7.

Thankfully, your body has many built-in mechanisms to ensure that the pH level doesn’t ever veer too much.  However, it’s always best to keep as much strain off of your body as possible to ensure that it keeps functioning optimally.

One way to do so is by eating a well-balanced diet.  Now, all foods have an acidic or basic value.  All proteins (meats, poultry, fish and dairy) and refined carbs (ESPECIALLY grains) are acidic foods, whereas all unrefined carbs, which are your fruits and vegetables are basic and most fats are neutral.

Since proteins are essential in your diet, these are acidic foods that are necessary and it’s easy to balance them out by eating enough fruits and vegetables.

Where you can get into trouble is when you consume refined carbs – especially grains like breads, pasta, rice and all packaged snacks such as chips, cookies, crackers and so on.  These foods are highly acidic not to mention packed with sugar and calories and do nothing for your weight loss endeavors.  Another food you should try to avoid is cheese.  I know it’s delicious, but it’s also highly acidic and dense in calories.

Avoiding these highly acidic foods will give your body a break from having to use its own vital organs and bone minerals to neutralize the acidic foods.  The less your body has to expend energy and nutrients on keeping your body functioning, the more energy it has to enhance metabolic processes that helps you recover faster, burn more fat and build lean muscles quicker.

So to optimize your body’s functions stick to eating natural whole foods.  Eat plenty of protein and balance it out by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  You really can’t eat enough greens…ever!  This is one case where more is better.  And don’t forget to throw in some healthy fats in the mix to balance it all out.

The great thing is the way you need to eat to maintain an optimal pH level in your body also happens to be the best way to maximize your health and weight loss as well!  Coincidence?  I think not.

Here’s a pH balance chart that will help you keep the acid foods and alkaline foods in a better perspective making it easier to make better food choices.

Acid Alkaline Chart

Weekly fitTip: Eat More to Lose Weight

In order to lose weight faster and  more efficiently, you need to eat more.  That doesn’t make any sense, right?  It sounds too good to be true and it contradicts the whole concept of dieting, however, it’s a hard and proven fact.  But wait, before you start planning a binge, here’s the catch, you need to eat more of the good stuff.  Now, there’s no need to roll your eyes, it’s actually very simple!

Think about it like this, for a fire to keep burning it needs to be stoked every so often on a regular basis. much like our metabolism, which is our internal fat burning furnace.  Stoking your metabolism requires eating a small meal or snack approximately every 3 hours (like throwing a log on the fire).  Over the course of a day this will add up to 5 or 6 small meals (for example: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack).  The size of the meals will depend on your total daily calorie allowance.

A general recommendation is that snacks should be between 100 and 200 calories each.  You’re probably wondering what types of snacks could possibly be 100 to 200 calories and still be satisfying?  It certainly rules out any sort of processed or junk food options, which are loaded with empty calories and next to zero nutrition.  Processed snacks are a waste of calories since they will not satisfy you for long. They generally cause a drop in blood sugar levels causing you to feel hungry again, which can then lead to unhealthy food cravings.  The key to avoiding this viscous cycle is to find foods that are naturally low in calories and nutrient dense (high nutritional value).

Here’s a list of 10 nutrient dense snacks that will not only keep you full longer, but will also satisfy the taste buds.  A good idea is to keep these items stocked in your fridge and pantry so you have them on hand for the next snack attack.  Many of these snacks are great for on-the-go or for at your desk at work, so keep a stash handy wherever you can.  This will take the guess work out of eating healthy and keep you on the right track.

Top 10 Nutrient Rich Snacks:

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts)
  • Dried Fruit (raisins, dates, prunes, cranberries, cherries – unsweetened)
  • Veggies (baby carrots, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, etc)
  • String Cheese
  • Fresh fruit & Berries
  • Popcorn (air popped, unsalted, no butter or margarine)
  • Cottage cheese & fresh/frozen berries and honey
  • Whole grain cracker with Hummus, Peanut butter
  • Smoothie
  • Dark Chocolate

Portion control is very important even with healthy snacks. Measure out and pack proper portions in advance so they are ready when you need them, this requires a little planning and preparation, but is well worth the effort.  By having these healthy snacks readily on hand, you can avoid any dietary pitfalls and feel good that you are stoking your body’s fat burning potential.  Combine these healthy eating habits with a structured exercise regime and watch your body transform!

Wake Up Call! Snacking can Sabotage Your Weight Loss

Yes, snacking can absolutely kill all the hard work you do at the gym.  Unless of course, you are snacking wisely.  Eating smart or eating healthy is not always easy.  We often have the best intentions to stay true to our goals, but for whatever reason, there are times when cravings override sensibility.  But why does this happen?  Why do we crave unhealthy foods?  Why do we consciously make poor food choices and then feel guilty about it?  How can we stop this cycle of sabotage?

The answer to the first three questions is lack of planning.  Without proper planning we will often make poor food choices out of convenience, when a healthier alternative is not easily available or when lack of time is a factor.  A little planning can go a long way and can keep you on track with your weight loss goals.  Plan out an entire week of meals and snacks over the weekend, and prepare a shopping list so you have everything on hand.  At first this may seem time consuming, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  This step will keep you from sabotaging all your hard work at the gym.  Having supportive meals and snacks on hand takes the guess work out of eating healthy.

Remember, guilty snacks are high in calories but offer no real nutrition, these are known as empty calories.  These snacks may taste great but will not keep you full for long, you’ll be fighting a snack attack a short while later.  Healthy snacks, on the other hand, are much lower in calories and are full of nutrition.  They taste great while keeping your blood sugar levels stable, which means you’ll be satisfied longer without having cravings.    Once you compare the nutritional information on the packages of each, you will no doubt make the smart choice.

Here are top 7 guilty food cravings and their healthier smart alternatives.  Make every calorie count, choose the smart snack and stop the viscous cycle of sabotage!

If you’re craving this – instead eat this:

Instead of cookies, go for all natural granola bars.

 

 

 

To satisfy a sweet tooth,  choose dates or dried fruit (no sugar added)

 

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Pass on the donuts and pastries,  choose fresh fruit.

 

 

 

Instead of potato chips, Soy Chips are the way to go.  One serving of these is only 90 calories with 6 gms of protein, and 0 saturated fat or cholesterol!

 

 

 

Water or Crystal Light is always a better option than pop.  The zero calorie pops are full of artificial sweeteners and chemicals.   Sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime is just as refreshing and hydrating.

 

In recent research, it’s been proven that coffee contains antioxidants and other agents that help reduce the risk of various diseases.  Does that mean coffee is good for you?  Not necessarily, it also contains caffeine which is know to raise blood pressure and elevate levels of epinephrine (also called adrenaline).  Green tea is high in antioxidants, especially a particular one called EGCG (epigallocatechil gallate), which inhibits cancer cell growth.  The healing and preventative benefits of green tea cleanses the body of disease causing toxins.  People generally feel energized and refreshed.

 

Frappuccino or Fruit Frapps pack a lot of calories, especially if topped with whipped cream.  Choose a real fruit smoothie or
fruit bottom yogurt which are packed with nutrition.

 

 

Periodize Your Weight Loss for Maximum Results

Starting a new exercise program can be an exciting prospect.  It’s a step towards taking  responsibility for your health and well-being.  You’re all revved up with the expectations of this new dream body that you’re going to achieve.  However, after a few weeks into this program, do you find that your initial enthusiasm fizzles a bit?  Do you find the predictability of doing the same routine and the same 10-12 reps for weeks or months on end boring?

Well not only are you bored, but, by this point your body is experiencing adaptation to the exercises and is no longer feeling challenged.  In other words, you’ve reached a plateau and you’re no longer receiving any benefits from your current exercise regime, continuing with this program would be like spinning your wheels, a waste of effort.  This is a very common draw back of a traditional non-periodized program.

Most pre-designed generic programs you find online or in magazines lack any variability, they are simply cookie-cutter programs, a one-size-fits-all solution.  The only way to have success using a generic program is to customize it and periodize it to fit your particular goals.  This is where the help of a certified fitness professional familiar with periodized program design comes in handy.

Periodization 101

To understand how periodized programs differ from other programs, you will need to have some basic knowledge of the structure and how it works.  Periodization refers to the breaking up of a long-term plan into smaller cycles or periods of time in order to manipulate volume and intensity.

The entire long-term plan is called the macrocycle (usually 6-12 months), which is then broken down into a series of smaller mesocycles (1-4 months).  The mesocycles are further sub-divided into microcycles (1-4 weeks).  It is at the microcycle level that all the exercise programming occurs and program variables (reps, sets, intensity, volume) are altered.  Each cycle has its own particular goals (conditioning, strength, hypertrophy, rest ) and the program variables are manipulated to accomplish those goals.

How is Periodization Different?

For the purpose of this article, we’ll look at 3 characteristics that set apart the periodized program from its traditional counterparts:  (1) regular program changes, (2) a systematic variation of program factors, (3) and the use of active rest periods where training workload is reduced.  All three characteristics are a form of variation, which are uncommon in non-periodized programs.  By changing up your routine in cycles, you’re facilitating continual adaptation and preventing plateaus, which leads to optimal health and fitness results in far less time.

Why is Periodization Better?

Periodization is not a new technique by any means.  It was developed in Eastern Europe in the 1950’s to train their Olympic athletes who, as a result, out performed their competition.  Since periodization is not a new technique, there is ample research to prove its effectiveness.  Today, periodization is used all over the world, however, it still seems to be a technique reserved for elite athletes and bodybuilders.  Much of the information available on periodization seems to be in reference to athletic competition and bodybuilding.

The question then remains, if this techique is good enough for elite athletes, then why is not used for everyone?  Why should a program with the potential to deliver such superior results be kept exclusive?

One reason could be that, although periodization programs are not particularly complicated to design, they are technical and time consuming and, perhaps, that’s one of the reasons why they are used for athletes.

The general population, however, could greatly benefit from the principles of periodization, when applied in a more simplified form.  This is exactly what seems to be the trend lately.  Certain principles of periodization (such as variation in training, active rest periods, continual adaptation) are finding their way into general fitness programs to offer people a chance to optimize their fitness results.  The periodization program design has proven to elicit superior results in body mass increases, body fat reduction, and strength gains as compared to traditional non-periodized programs.  Variation in an exercise program is the key to successful weight loss. The periodization method adds variation in a cyclical manner, making these programs interesting more enjoyable, whereby, the individual is more likely to follow through to a successful outcome.

Top 10 ‘Skinny’ Foods for Healthy Weight Loss

Losing weight is about eating clean and eating smart, it is about being aware and accountable for everything we put in our bodies.  Those who are looking for a quick fix will be disappointed.  There is no “secret” to losing weight, nor is there a magic diet…sorry!  It all boils down to what we put in our mouths.  The age old saying, “you are what you eat”, is exactly right, 75% (if not more) of the weight loss battle is related to food.  By initiating small changes to your regular diet, eliminating certain foods and incorporating healthy alternatives, you will notice the weight dropping off in a short time.  The other 25% of the equation is exercise.  In order to achieve optimum results, a healthy diet and regular exercise go hand-in-hand.

Here are Top 10 Super Foods that will keep your metabolism revved so you will burn more fat.  Try to incorporate as many of these as you can into your diet immediately:

Oatmeal - the breakfast of Champions!1.    Oatmeal – is a great way to start the day.  Oats, in any variety (quick, rolled, old-fashioned, steel cut, but not instant), are high in fiber providing your body with a steady source of fuel while keeping your blood sugar level stable.  It keeps you full longer so you won’t crave that mid-morning sugar fix.

2.    Egg Whites – When compared to the whole egg, the whites are     definitely the healthier choice.  One egg white contain 17 calories, 0.1g fat, 0g saturated fats, 0mg cholesterol, and 5g protein.  The egg yolk, on the other hand, contains a whopping 55 calories, 4.5g fat, 1.6g saturated fats, 210mg cholesterol, and 2.7g protein.  The numbers speak for themselves.

3.    Grapefruit – They are delicious, juicy, fragrant and a powerful weight loss agent.  The grapefruit diet has been around for years and has avid supporters, but now, there is actual research that proves grapefruits promote healthy weight loss.  Red grapefruits, in particular, have an insulin reducing property which aids in weight loss and improved health.

4.     Nuts – Nuts are calorie rich and high in fat, so how are they a ‘skinny’ food?  Nuts are mostly unsaturated fat, which is good fat; they lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and have shown to aid in healthy weight loss when consumed in moderation.  The high fat content can prevent cravings, which lead to unhealthy food choices.  Nuts are packed with powerful nutrients and make a great on-the-go snack, but portion control is the key.

5.    Fresh Produce – Fresh fruits and vegetables make up the largest portion of your diet.  Most vegetables, particularly the green leafy variety, are naturally low in carbs, high in antioxidants, and very low in calories.  It is recommended to include produce in all varieties and colors into your diet.  Increasing your daily consumption of produce will decrease your overall caloric intake, leading to healthy weight loss.

6.    Yogurt – Research has found that eating low-fat yogurt daily significantly increases fat burning potential.  This particular study found those who ate low-fat yogurt daily lost on average 22% more weight, 61% more body fat, and 81% more belly fat!  Beware of the sweet fruity yogurts, they are usually higher in calories and sugar, and avoid those sweetened with artificial sweeteners.  Low-fat Greek yogurt is an excellent choice and can be sweetened with honey or agave.

7.    Brown Rice – Brown rice is a nutrient rich whole grain.  Among the many other health benefits of brown rice, the high fiber content is what makes it such an excellent food for weight loss.  High fiber provides bulk that keeps you full a lot longer, preventing sugar cravings that lead to poor food choices.

8.    100% Whole Grains – For the same reasons as brown rice, whole grain pastas, breads, cereals are the recommended choice for healthy weight loss.  Sprouted grain breads are my recent discovery; they are a complete protein that is digested by the body more efficiently.  The low gluten content of sprouted grain breads makes them an excellent food for a flat belly.

9.    Beans and Lentils – Beans and lentils (also called legumes) are a power food.  They are high in protein, high in soluble fiber, and have a low glycemic index which makes them the perfect food for weight loss.

10. Green Tea – Certain compounds in green tea have shown to aid in weight loss.  High concentrations of catechin polyphenols along with other chemicals in green tea increase the body’s fat oxidization and thermogenesis.  In other words, green tea helps rev up your metabolism and increase your fat burning potential.  Green tea has many more health benefits and is recommended as part of a healthy diet.

SOURCES: Zemel, M. International Journal of Obesity, April 2005; vol 29: pp 391-397. News release, General Mills.