27 October 2008

Why sodas are so bad for you - and oranges are your friend

oranges score 100 out of 100 for nutritional value
Have you heard about the NuVal System? It's a nutritional quality index created at the Yale University Prevention Research Centre that gives all foods and drinks a score and the higher the score, the more nutritious the food is. Simple.

Some of the foodstuffs will surprise you by not being as high up the list as you'd expect but it's a great list to have on your fridge door to make sure you're having as many of the 100/100 foods - broccoli and blueberries, and none of the 2/100 foods - like all full-fat sodas and saltine crackers which seem to come with every bowl of soup in the US! How have you done so far today - check out the list and make a promise to yourself to aim for as many 100/100 as you can each day. Its like dieting without dieting.

Broccoli 100

Blueberries 100

Okra 100

Orange 100

Green Beans 100

Pineapple 99

Radish 99

Summer squash 98

Apple 96

Green cabbage 96

Tomato 96

Clementine 94

Watermelon 94

Mango 93

Red onions 93

Non-fat milk 91

Fresh figs 91

Grapes 91

Banana 91

Avocado 89

Oatmeal 88

Atlantic salmon fillet 87

Blackberries 83

Cod fillet 82

Raw almonds 82

Iceberg lettuce 82

Raw pecans 82

Rocket 82

Brown rice 82

Snapper 82

Milk (1% fat) 81

Oysters 81

Prawn 75

Couscous 72

Clams 71

Raw pistachios 70

Unbuttered, unsalted popcorn 69

Canned tuna in oil, drained 67

Monkfish fillet 64

Vegetarian split-pea soup mix 63

Instant oatmeal 61

Canned pineapple in juice 60

White rice 57

Sodium-free sparkling water 56

Milk (2% fat) 55

Canned kidney beans 53

Milk (whole) 52

Scallops 51

Pasta 50

Canned peas 49

Prunes 45

Vanilla yoghurt 43

Orange juice 39

Skinless chicken breasts 39

Canned peaches in light Syrup 37

Lobster 36

Flank steak (beef) 34

Dried apples 34

Tomato juice 32

Condensed split-pea soup

with ham 32

Minced sirloin 30

Chicken drumstick 30

Enriched white bread 29

Whole chicken with skin 28

Leg of lamb 28

Ham (whole) 27

Raisins 26

Hamburger (75% lean) 25

Apple chips 24

Coconut 24

Green olives 24

Pork baby back ribs 24

Bagel 23

Condensed tomato soup 23

Peanut butter 23

Sherbet 23

Reduced-fat sour cream 22

Condensed cream of

broccoli soup 21

Salted, dry-roasted peanuts 21

Instant chocolate pudding 20

Fried egg 18

Swiss cheese 17

Diet fizzy drinks 15

Non-streaky bacon 13

Pretzel sticks 11

Dark chocolate 10

White bread 9

Salami 7

Hot dog 5

Cheese puffs 4

Milk chocolate 3

Apple pie 2

Crackers 2

Fizzy drinks 1

Popsicle 1

To see the whole list, please visit the site and print out the list.

Photograph by .:barbarina:. (flickr)

24 October 2008

150 Minutes a week to stay fit

squeezing 20 mins of exercise a day can keep you healthy and fit
150 minutes is the amount of time the government in the US and UK recommends you should do each week in order to maintain good health and fitness.

Do you do your 150 minutes of exercise a week? Didn't think so. Unfortunately, many of you reading this will fall short of your exercise quota for the week every week.

And yet 150 minutes only works out as just over 20 minutes of rigorous exercise a day in exchange for a healthier body. So what's stopping you? We can all try to spare 20 minutes so how can you start fitting this burst of activity into your day.

I've got some suggestions:

1. Power walking - not a slow stroll but try to go up hill and if you can handle it, walk moderately for 1 min and then really speed up for 1 minute then slow down a little for one minute then speed up for 1 minute, You should aim to do the last minute as a sprint / fast run.

2. Jumping Rope - keep one in the house and go outside after work or first thing in the morning and skip. This will get your heart pumping and help to burn calories and tone your arms and legs. And it's fun.

3. Walk up and down the stairs repeatedly - at least 10 times till you can feel yourself getting short of breath. If you did this everyday you would realise how much easier it gets by day 3. Keep it up.

4. Do some strength training. Push ups, press ups, crunches, squats, lunges and using some light weight do bicep curls and try shadow boxing whilst holding the dumbbells.

5. Attend a gym class or play a game of ball with the kids. take part in something that keeps you in perpetual motion with other people and have fun doing it.

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Photograph by mikebaird (flickr)

23 October 2008

Eating fast makes you fat

eating your food too fast can make you fat
Sometimes you read a report that falls into the category of stating the very obvious.

This is one of those reports. The reason I mention it to you though is because I think that despite it being very obvious, it's a small change that everyone could make that would get a good result quickly.

The slower you chew your food and eat, the more likely it is that you will stop eating when you are full and not carry one overeating.

Whereas, eating fast almost makes it too difficult for your brain to keep up and send the right message that you are full and so you carry on eating (overeating).

So if you fall into this category:

1. Regularly eat on the go - whilst walking, at your desk etc.
2. Regularly eat whilst watching TV at the same time
3. Regularly eat whilst reading at the same time

....then you need to stop and try just eating. Try these tips:

1. Chew each mouthful at least 20 time
2. Sit at a table to eat and switch the TV off - focus on your food and eat it without rushing
3. Think about how you feel - the moment you start to feel full, put down your fork and stop.

These little tips work and they will help you to lose some weight through consuming fewer calories.

Have a read of the full article here for more tips.

Photograph by elh70 (flickr)

14 October 2008

5 ways to speed up your metabolism

squeezing in exercise where you can helps to speed up metabolism
Losing weight is all about one thing - your metabolism. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn, the slower your metabolism, the less calories you burn. So the question is how do you speed it up and what tricks and fitness tips can help you reach your weight loss goal in the shortest time. Hint - skipping meals and fasting is the fastest way to slow it down.

The lean tissue in our bodies burns calories and so our end goal should always be to have more lean tissue. When you skip meals repeatedly in an attempt to lose weight or go on fasts / crash diets, the problem is that the initial weight you lose is mostly lean tissue and so you are actually slowing down your metabolism. That's why after a crash diet, the weight comes back fast and hard and it seems even tougher to lose. So what can you do to speed it up:

1. Interval training
When you are running, walking, cycling or on the stairmaster, don't just go at one speed. Start moderately and then do 60 second sprints periodically so you are working at your maximum. Even if you are walking, try and squeeze in a one minute print every 2 minutes and you'll be amazed at the difference this makes to your body.

2. Regular meal times and habits
If nothing else, please stop skipping breakfast. Its slows down your metabolism and makes your morning so much harder than it needs to be. If you can, though a modern lifestyle can make this difficult, try to eat your dinner by 7pm. It simply gives your body more time to burn the calories you've consumed all day. If you're having carbs, try to eat them earlier in the day as well - breakfast or lunch and leave the lighter choices for your evening meal.

3. Strength training
The more muscle tissue that you have, the higher your metabolism is and the less muscle that you have, the slower your calorie burn. So try to do strength training when you can - light weights, push ups, squats etc. This will mean that when you are not working out, your body is burning more calories and that's your end goal after all - to become a mean, calorie burning machine.

4. Regular movement
Stay on the move if you can. For those with a sedentary job, try to walk around at least once an hour - more if you can. Walk to the water cooler, the photocopier, walk up the stairs. The more constant motion you have, the higher your metabolism.

5. Get Spicy
Add spice to your food. Whether its a curry or hot sauce on the side or even chilli flakes added to vegetables, they all contribute to helping raise your metabolism. Add it to your routine to give your body a helping hand.

Photograph by pierre lascott (flickr)

10 October 2008

Good Fat vs. Bad Fat -Which is Which?

fried chicken full of saturated fats and oh so fattening
When it comes to eating healthily, there's a lot of misinformation and confusion out there and sometimes, it's easy for people to get an idea into their head abut how 'bad for them' and 'full of fat' something is. Take avocados. They get such a bad press because everyone thinks they're fattening. We all need fats - some of it is essential to help regulate hormonal production, improve our immune function, lower total cholesterol, lubricate the joints, and provide us with the basics for healthy hair, nails and skin. So here is a simple guide to what to look out for so you know your fats. 

And remember, as a rule of thumb, the fats that go solid and white at room temperature are bad and the fats that stay runny are good.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol. They can be found in:
canola oil
olive oil

These fats also help with weight loss, particularly with reducing body fat. 

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol levels. You can find these in:
fish oil
sunflower oils

They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some people get a little picky about Polyunsaturated Fats as they think that they can sometimes reduce the levels of good cholesterol but I don't think you will be consuming enough to reach that stage.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats raise your total blood cholesterol and can lead to heart disease. Saturated fats are mainly found in:
animal products such as meat
Interestingly, the palm tree is guilty of creating saturated fats too which is why you should limit the amount of coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil you have.

If you are on a diet and actually want to lose weight, never, ever have deep-fried food. It has absolutely no nutritional value and is the equivalent of eating rubbish. Loaded with saturated fat, it's very fattening and bad for your heart and arteries. Foods to avoid - fries, potato chips, breaded chicken dippers and onion rings.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are created in labs as a by-product of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. This is done to extend the shelf life of the food. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils." The trans fatty acids are found in:
packaged foods
fried foods from some fast food restaurants
some brands of microwave popcorn

You don't ever want to consume the stuff if you can help it as it clogs the arteries and raise cholesterol levels dangerously.

photograph by joshbousel (flickr)

6 October 2008

Losing weight with a thyroid problem

Thyroid disease is fairly widespread today with approximately 10 million sufferers in the US and 4 million in the UK. With numerous symptoms like: feelings of exhaustion, hair loss and aching limbs, the weight gain associated with an underactive thyroid is probably the most commonly known.

The thyroid plays a major role in your body. It secretes two different hormones which are responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism. It is from these hormones that your body gets the messages to burn energy and regulate your metabolism. So the thyroid, as small as it is, is responsible for how efficiently your body burns fat, for how much you weigh and for how much you sleep. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can cause the metabolism to slow down and this leads to weight gain. This is why it can be much harder for someone with a thyroid problem to lose weight even when they eat only a diet of lettuce leaves and go to the gym 3 times a week!

So what can be done to lose the weight when you suffer from a thyroid problem?

There's a new ebook out about how to lose the weight and it's written by a woman who suffers from hypothyroidism and she wrote it after gaining over 37 pounds and was unable to lose it at the gym or through diet. It details what diet and exercise routine she followed and includes lists of what to eat and what's bad for your thyroid. Full recipes, advice and details on natural supplements to take to help get rid of the other symptoms of hypothyroidism including hair thinning and hair loss, dry skin and feelings of depression.

I have an exclusive offer for readers of the Instant Feelgood blog. If you use the code feelgood, you can get a 10% discount off the price of the book if you order before November 1st 2008. How To Lose Weight When You Have A Thyroid Problem is by Amina Razaq and available at www.ThyroidWeight.com.

Photograph by img056

3 October 2008

Fitness on a tight budget

We're all trying to save money at the moment as prices rocket and we wait to hear the next doom and gloom story on the news about the economy. So I thought that for those of you who may be thinking about not renewing your gym membership to save a bit of cash, here's a free workout you can do at home on a budget. This is Credit Crunch Fitness and it's just as effective as heading to the gym but much, much cheaper. You ready?

The only kit you need:
  1. A fitness ball - most homes have one of these lying around or they are really cheap on EBay or Craig's List.
  2. Mat / or you could use an old towel
  3. Two bottles of water filled
  4. Jump rope - look in the kids room or buy one in a department store

0-5 mins - Warm up, march on the spot, shake arms and legs
5-15 mins - skipping / jump rope outdoors for 10 mins. Try to keep going and not take too many breaks.
15-25 mins - run around the block for 10 mins. Go at a steady pace so you can keep it up.
25 - 27 mins - 15 lunges, 15 crunches using water bottles
crunches using water bottle
crunches using water bottle
27-29 mins - 15 squats, 15 press ups with ball,
press up with fitness ballpress up with fitness ball
29 - 32 mins - The Plank, Side Plank - do each for 60 seconds if you can with short rest in between
the plank
the plank
side plank
32 - 35 mins -  stretch

You're done! Do this 3 times a week, it only takes half an hour and you'll feel so much better for knowing it's costing you very little.

2 October 2008

How to burn calories without really trying

watching TV helps you burn 300 calories over 4 hours
Getting to the gym 3 times a week requires you to give up a minimum of 3 hours of your time. In a whole week, that is only tiny amount but the reality is that even this can seem impossible to achieve.  Everyday life is very demanding and can get in the way. 

So if you are having one of those weeks or months where you don't seem to have enough hours in your day to spare for the gym, this is for you.  A handy list of ways to burn the calories whilst just living your life (gym free).

Active persons Guide
Brush teeth - 2 mins 16 cals
Sweep floors - 20 mins 63 cals
Moderate walk - 30 mins 150 cals
Wash the car - 30 mins 171 cals
Play with kids - 30 mins 100 cals
Clearing garden - 15 mins 126 cals
Mowing lawn - 15 mins 60 cals
Raking 20 mins - 98 cals

TOTAL 784 calories = one hard gym session

Lazy persons Guide
Washing Dishes - 2 mins 6 cals
Watching TV - 4 hrs 300 cals
Kissing - 20 mins 26 cals
Playing cards 1 hr-  131 cals

So now you know - you need to watch at least 5 episodes of Lost on TV just to burn off one egg McMuffin.
Hmmm, maybe a quick trip to the gym is worth it after all.

See article here.

Photograph by lyrrad nahc (flickr)