Saturday, May 30, 2009
Eat, Weigh, Love
Eating more to lose weight sounds as preposterous as it does tantalizing. But research now shows that consuming certain foods even some seemingly nondietetic ones—can help you shed pounds.
By Jenny Bailly
Minimalism has inspired such architects, painters, and writers as Mies van der Rohe, Ellsworth Kelly, and Ernest Hemingway. In the art of weight loss, however, minimalism isn?t such a brilliant approach. Conversely, in fact, nutritionists now believe that adding more of certain foods to your diet may help you weigh less. And we're not just talking about puffed wheat and dry salad. Of course, calories are still a key part of the picture. But reducing your diet to steamed broccoli and grilled fish can set you up for failure (if it doesn't bore you to death first). Women who give up specific foods or food groups often only fuel their cravings and end up overeating, as researchers from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Ontario, demonstrated in a 2006 study. Shedding pounds, and keeping them off, is a much more realistic proposition when your focus shifts from what you don't eat to what you do—leaving the minimalism to the numbers on the scale.
Robert Atkins pushed protein with such fervor that he started to sound like a fanatic, but research has found that eating a reasonable amount of protein instead of carbohydrates can indeed encourage weight loss. Women who ate 120 grams of protein a day and exercised regularly lost an average of 21.5 pounds over four months—6.5 more pounds than did exercising women who consumed an equivalent number of calories on a high-carbohydrate diet. The protein group also lost more weight in the abdominal area (while retaining all muscle mass) than the carbohydrate group did, according to the study in The Journal of Nutrition.
"Your body has to work harder to digest proteins than it does with carbohydrates and fats, so protein actually burns more calories," says Joy Bauer, registered dietitian and coauthor of Joy Bauer's Food Cures (Rodale Books). "And because it takes a while to digest, it also makes you feel full longer." In other words, you'll be less likely to find yourself elbow-deep in the office candy jar after a chicken salad lunch than following a slice of cheese pizza. Eating protein may also signal your stomach to produce less ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, researchers reported in April in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Consuming at least 50 percent of your body weight in grams of protein is a good daily goal—if you weigh 140 pounds, for example, shoot for 70 grams, Bauer suggests. That amount could be derived from six ounces of roast chicken plus one cup of low-fat cottage cheese; or one cup of kidney beans, four ounces of lean hamburger, and two cups of low-fat yogurt. Just make sure to spread the wealth. "Most of us eat about 60 percent of our daily protein after 6 P.M.," says Donald K. Layman, professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "But you should also have it early in the day so you're less likely to snack later." He recommends as many as 30 grams of protein at breakfast (during which the average American woman gets fewer than ten grams). An egg (six grams), a cup of low-fat yogurt (12 grams), and half a whole-grain English muffin with two tablespoons of peanut butter (12 grams) will get you there. In addition to chicken, fish, beef, and pork, make sure some of your regular protein sources are vegetable-based, such as beans, and calcium-rich, such as yogurt.
This particular type of protein may have special merit. Like a standing 6 A.M. date with your trainer, beginning the day with eggs can jump-start weight loss (without the painful predawn alarm). Volunteers who substantially cut calories from their diets while eating egg breakfasts lost an average of six pounds in eight weeks, versus three and a half pounds for a similarly dieting group who ate equivalent-calorie bagel breakfasts instead. The egg meal consisted of two eggs and two pieces of white toast with reduced-calorie fruit spread; the other breakfast was one bagel, one tablespoon of cream cheese, and less than one serving of fat-free yogurt. The egg eaters also reduced their waist measurements 83 percent more than the bagel group, according to the study at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University System. The investigators don't yet understand exactly why that is, but they have also found that people who eat eggs instead of a bagel in the morning go on to consume fewer calories over the next 24 hours.
Less fat on your plate doesn't necessarily translate to less on your body. Fat-slashing in recent decades hasn't done much to trim figures: Even though the fat content of the average American's diet has dropped over the years, the population has continued to get fatter, as Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, points out in Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less (Hyperion). In fact, fat has never actually been shown to cause more weight gain than protein or carbohydrates as long as overall calorie intake isn't excessive.
Like protein, fat increases satiety, that pleasantly full feeling that signals us to put the fork down. "It causes the release of certain hormones in the gut, such as cholesystokinin, that tell your brain you've eaten enough," says Christine L. Pelkman, assistant professor of nutrition at the State University of New York at Buffalo, who conducted a study in which subjects who consumed 33 percent of their calories from fat (many of them from nuts) lost the same amount of weight as those whose diets were only 18 percent fat. By slowing the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood, fat also stabilizes blood sugar and, along with it, mood swings that can contribute to cravings and overeating.
Bauer recommends getting 25 to 35 percent of your calories from fat (for an 1,800-calorie diet, 50 to 70 grams a day). The majority of that fat should be unsaturated—olives and olive oil, nuts, legumes, and fatty fish like salmon—and could include a tablespoon of olive oil (14 grams), a quarter cup of almonds (18 grams), or half an avocado (15 grams). Keep saturated fats, found in red meat, butter, and whole-fat dairy products, to a minimum—no more than 14 grams a day in a 1,800-calorie diet; one tablespoon of butter (seven grams) and three ounces of lean beef (five grams) is plenty.
Like many so-called "diet" drinks, water has zero calories—this one, however, also helps burn them. When you don't drink enough water, your metabolism slows down, says E. Wayne Askew, director of the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah. Eight to 12 eight-ounce glasses a day is optimal, but most Americans drink closer to five or six. Also, "you can confuse thirst with hunger," says Sharon R. Akabas, associate director of the Institute for Human Nutrition at Columbia University. "You'll often eat less if you have a glass or two of water before a meal."
Don't count on chicken soup to do much for your soul—but it might help improve your body. Much research has shown that a bowl of soup before a meal can keep your appetite in check. Rolls served study participants vegetable soup containing chicken broth, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots; women who began their lunch with a one-and-a-half-cup portion of it, for about 129 calories, reduced the calorie intake of their entire meal by 20 percent.
Diets like Atkins and South Beach dismiss fruit as a "food to avoid," but most experts beg to differ. Fruit consists mostly of water and fiber, so it fills you up without adding a lot of calories. In a six-year study at Laval Hospital Research Centre at Laval University in Quebec, people who increased their fruit intake—whole fruit only, not juice—put on less weight than those who ate little or no fruit. Scientists didn't find the same clear link between vegetables and weight loss, perhaps because they're more easily paired with butter or creamy sauces.
Grapefruit in particular has long been surrounded by weight-loss mystique, and now there's proof to back up the claims. Volunteers consumed either half a grapefruit or eight ounces of grapefruit juice three times a day, before every meal. After three months, the grapefruit eaters lost an average of 3.6 pounds and the juice drinkers an average of 3.3 pounds, whereas subjects who drank a placebo juice lost about half a pound. The researchers speculate that the effect may be attributable to certain chemical properties of grapefruit. If eating all that grapefruit doesn't seem practical, try simply toting an apple to work as a pre-lunch snack. People who ate about one and a half medium peeled, sliced apples (about 125 calories? worth) 15 minutes before being served a tortellini entrée consumed an average of 187 fewer calories from the meal than those who had applesauce, juice, or nothing.
"I'll just have the salad" is a popular script for dieters. "I'll start with the salad" might be a healthier (not to mention less sanctimonious) order. After eating three cups of a 100-calorie salad (romaine and iceberg lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, two tablespoons of low-fat cheese, and three tablespoons of fat-free dressing), women ate an average of 12 percent fewer calories at a pasta lunch, during a study at Pennsylvania State University. There is the potential for too much of a good thing, though. A salad of 400 calories, topped with full-fat dressing, led people to consume 17 percent more calories. "You have to stay under 150 calories in that first course to see the benefits," says Barbara J. Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (HarperCollins).
Even if Stephen Colbert is the only witness, several spoonfuls of Chunky Monkey can still undermine a day's worth of wise food choices. Instead of padlocking the kitchen after dinner, pour yourself a bowl of cereal. Night snackers in a study at Wayne State University in Detroit were asked to eat one cup of unsweetened cold cereal with two-thirds of a cup of low-fat milk at least 90 minutes after dinner. (The cereals had 100 to 135 calories, two to six grams of protein, and 23 to 32 grams of carbohydrates.) After a month, they had shed an average of two pounds—versus less than half a pound for others who continued with their regular snacking habits—and they consumed 100 fewer nighttime calories and 400 fewer calories per day. A bowl of cereal in the morning can be helpful, too. A study recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who ate a high-fiber cereal for breakfast had suppressed appetites, as well as improved glycemic response after consuming pizza 75 minutes later. High in fiber and low in sugar, Fiber One, Total, Wheaties, and Kashi Go Lean top nutritionists' lists of the best cereals to choose at any hour.
One of the easiest ways to lose a little weight is often overlooked. "We should be eating 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day, but most of us get about half that," says Miriam E. Nelson, director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University. People who were encouraged to increase fiber intake but were not told to cut calories achieved an average four pounds of weight loss over four months, according to analysis in Nutrition Review of more than 100 studies. "Adding fiber may lead to decreased food intake spontaneously, or to excretion of calories from the digestive system, or both," says study author Edward Saltzman, chief of clinical nutrition at Tufts Medical Center. Whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, those nutritionist-approved cereals, brown rice, and unpeeled fruit are all good fiber sources.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
by Allure Magazine, on Mon May 18, 2009 9:43am PDT
One thousand crunches a day? Don’t waste your time. Instead, the best way to get a flatter stomach involves a few clever changes to your diet and workout…and about 970 fewer sit-ups.
By Jenny Bailly
The quest for flat abs knows no shame (or too much indolence). For proof, behold the Abs in a Box kit. It contains semipermanent body stain, eight shadow and highlighting powders, and a booklet explaining how to use the above to create a six-pack—all for $69. Which would be a bargain if those abs were real. But attaining flat abs isn’t a matter of painting by numbers—or even of executing a mind-numbing series of crunches. Consider this: Stomach flab is easier to lose than the padding on your butt and thighs; commit to shedding a few pounds, and the ones around your waist disappear first. Once they’re gone, a judicious mix of ab moves can carve out smooth, visible muscles over time—and not just for the genetically preprogrammed. Here, five ways to create your own (genuine) ab masterpiece.
Problem: You have too much fat all over.
You could have Jessica Alba’s muscle structure and nothing to show for it if you’re carrying around extra pounds. “No one’s ever going to see those strong muscles as long as a layer of fat sits on top of them,” says personal trainer Gunnar Peterson, who works with Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen. Interval training is the most effective way to exercise. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that women who put in 20 minutes on a stationary bike three times a week—but alternated 8-second bursts of speedy pedaling with 12-second rest periods— trimmed more from their midsections over 15 weeks than those who cycled at a slower, but steady, pace for 40 minutes. Researchers believe that interval training triggers the body to release adrenaline, a hormone that tells the body to burn stored fat—which is often found in the stomach area.
5 weight-loss tips you've never heard before
Problem: You’re eating the wrong food
Without the right diet, even the most rigorous cardio regimen is useless. “That means cutting calories,” says Susan B. Roberts, a professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston and author of The Instinct Diet (Workman Publishing Company). And there are tricks that help, too. Drinking coffee—when part of a weight-loss diet—may also trim the stomach slightly, and the caffeine may speed up the metabolism. Roberts suggests one to three cups of coffee a day.
Dairy’s role in weight loss is controversial (some studies have shown a strong connection; others haven’t). On the pro side: In a University of Tennessee study, overweight adults on a low-calorie diet who had 1,100 milligrams of calcium daily lost 81 percent more stomach fat than those who got only 400 to 500 milligrams of calcium per day. Getting three daily servings of dairy is a reasonable goal, says Michael B. Zemel, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee.
What to avoid? White, starchy carbohydrates top the list. People who chose white bread over whole grains gained about half an inch around the middle every year, according to a study from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
Eating more of these foods will help you shed pounds.
Problem: You’re doing the wrong moves
“Crunches only work the superficial muscles at the front of your torso,” says Shawn McCormack, director of and head instructor at the Body, a Manhattan fitness studio. “They don’t do anything for the muscles that run around the entire core of your body like a corset, or the oblique muscles along your sides.” These are the muscles that act like your body’s own Spanx, drawing your midsection up and in. One of the best ways to strengthen them is by holding a simple plank position. For an extra challenge, lift your hips up an inch or two and then move them back.
Pilates moves are powerful ab sculptors, says Michele Olson, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. In a study pitting mat-based Pilates moves against crunches, the Pilates exercises were all more effective on the abs than crunches were. Crunches can still be one part of your routine, but doing them ad nauseam is an exercise in futility. Two to five sets of 15 to 20 reps are plenty.
Problem: You only use your abdominal muscles rarely
Whether you’re on the treadmill or doing push-ups, your navel should feel like it’s being pulled toward your spine as your ribs drop slightly toward your pelvis. “Breathing deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, is the best way to keep your core muscles contracted and engaged in any workout,” says Laurie Cole, an instructor at SoulCycle, a cycling studio in New York City. And it should extend beyond the gym. “My abs are always activated,” says personal trainer Kacy Duke. This not only strengthens the torso over time but also improves posture, which instantly minimizes bulges.
Problem: Your genes aren’t solely to blame.
Fat distribution is at least 30 percent—maybe as much as 60 percent—determined by genetics. But biology isn’t necessarily destiny. Though scientists have identified specific genes that affect the propensity to store fat around the middle or in the hips and thighs, any gene pool can be overcome. “You’ll probably have to do more work to maintain a flat stomach, but biology doesn’t rule how you exercise or what you eat,” says Olson.
7 Fitness Tips from Celebrity Trainer Seven
November 06, 2008
t never fails: Every winter, I OD on Halloween candy and ditch the gym for holiday parties. It's not healthy and it's not pretty.
This time, I'm determined to look great at the gazillion holiday cocktail shindigs. To help me get on the right track, I asked Seven, a Miami based Bally Total Fitness and celebrity trainer for her tips:
Q. What's a typical session for your female clients?
A. We start with 30 minutes of intense cardio as a warm up, and then move to weight lifting. For women, doing cardio first is a must--it gives you lean, defined muscles. I finish each workout with ten minutes of yoga.
Q. Do you change it up before a client's red carpet event?
A. I add ten minutes to her cardio and more workout days to the week leading up to an event. We also focus on muscle groups depending on the style of her dress. If she's wearing strapless, we work on defining her shoulders, and if she's wearing backless, we do extra back exercises.
Q. What activities do you recommend on the "off" days?
A. Do what you love: Yoga, kickboxing, jogging, or even just a walk in the park with your dog. Anything that keeps your muscles moving.
Q. What's your best move for abs?
A. Lie on your back, raise your arms and your legs up to the ceiling (so you look like a 'U' shape from the side. Keep your chin up to the ceiling at all times. Exhale and reach your fingers up to your toes, counting from 25 to 1, inhale on your way down. In the same position, reach toward your left toe and then alternate to your right, counting from 25 to one in each direction. Do three to four sets of each every day.
Q. Best butt move?
A. An old school squat gives the fastest results. Stand at the bottom of your staircase with your feet hip-width apart. "Fake sit"—just a booty tap—on the second-to-last step, then stand up. Do 20 reps and at least four sets.
Q. Your best tip ever?
A. Get a calendar and mark huge red X's on workout days. This makes reality set in faster than you think, because you have the bad days staring you in the face. Reality can be the best motivator.
Q. How do you motivate your lazy clients?
A. I tell them to suck it up! I remind them of their goals and why they're here to see me. They're always grateful at the end of a workout.
Thanks, Seven! I might have to come down to Miami soon so you can kick my butt into shape this winter.
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