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Category Archives: weight loss

The Calorie Theory: Drop It Like It’s Hot

summer

Photo:writers.uclaextension.edu

It is freezing outside (in NY) 32 degrees F and we are surrounded by snow and ice.  Today is February 2nd. It’s the day after the Super Bowl, big deal, it’s not a major holiday, not a significant day in history but it is a mark of the 139th day until the first day of summer, June 21! Yes, that’s right about 4.5 quick months that will fly by as quick as a blink of an eye.

Don’t wait ’till it’s too late, whether your “beach body” goal is to build muscle, lose a couple of pounds or drop a few dress sizes get the ball rolling now.

There is so much information out there on how and what to eat coming from experts, well-meaning people who share what they have done to reach their own goals, companies touting the value of their “magic bullet” product and research that swings back and forth like a pendulum so we really have no clue how to interpret what is useful information or not. I must admit I try to stick with the diet I created, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” and even then, there is always a little wiggle room to meet individual goals and preferences.

I wanted to share my thoughts with you to help you make better choices as you embark on getting to your goals for the summer.

One of the best pieces of information I have read in a long time is an article written by Dr. Jade Teta about a year ago. It is powerful and underscores the importance of individuality when considering what to eat.

Dr. Teta discusses what really matters in his article “A Calorie Is Sometimes Not  A  Calorie”. You can find it here at T Nation, http://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/a-calorie-is-sometimes-not-a-calorie.” What really matters and is most important to each of you who read this is that it incorporates personal factors (Hunger, Energy, Cravings, HEC) that should be considered higher priorities than a general  “scientific” formula (fewer calories consumed  =  weight loss) which may or may not work for many individuals.

I have always questioned the calorie theory. Nutrition sessions with my clients center on these same personal factors. Focus is always on getting more in tune with what I call your body’s communication signals (BCS) or ACE (appetite, cravings, energy levels) that should dictate your WOE (way of eating). Using general “blanket” calorie formulas, like  eat more calories to gain weight,  eat less to lose weight, is not a standard that people “need” to “stick” to because factors that influence individual BCS are much more important. As Dr. Teta says, “balance metabolism first”.

In a previous blog, I outline the consequences of metabolic overdrive, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/what-is-metabolic-overdrive/ , if you need to repair your metabolism and have a metabolic disadvantage due to issues with blood sugar. thyroid, the gut, adrenals etc…following a formula that looks good and makes sense on paper does not work in a complex body system. You may want to check this out, http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/06/the-calorie-theory-prove-it-or-lose-it/.

Here are my favorite key points from Jade Teta’s article:

  • The combo of sugar, fat, and salt will short-circuit your appetite centers, turning that “cheat meal” into a cheat week, or worse.
  • The standard “eat less, exercise more” approach to dieting leads to about 20-50% loss of lean tissue.
  • The quality of food you eat can directly affect the future efficiency of your metabolism.

139 days and counting, as you prepare for the summer and get your beach body on, my suggestion for the calorie theory is “Drop It Like It’s Hot”! Focus on what makes you tick; good quality food, stable and consistent energy and a naturally controlled appetite.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in appetite, diet, gain muscle, weight loss

 

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Fat Loss Is Just A Breath Away

 

It is easier to grasp the concept of gaining fat than understand the rationale behind fat loss. Explaining it sounds easy right. If you eat more food than your body needs, it gets bigger, you gain weight. This formula can work for building muscle too.

A popular analogy that many of you may have heard goes something like this, “you might as well glue that hot fudge sundae directly on to your hips”. We know that is not exactly how it works but “you get the picture”. The more you eat, the more you weigh.

Based on genetics, we may be able to predict where some of that extra fat might plant itself, the gut, the arms or legs. But once you are carrying extra weight and you lose it, what happens to it? Where does it go?

Some people think it leaves the body with the rest of the body’s waste and is flushed away. Others may tell you that fat is burned and leaves your body via sweat. Many experts will say that fat burned is fat converted to energy and  then “lost” as heat. While there is some truth to all this, these explanations do not fully answer the question, Where does the fat go when it is burned?

In order to answer this, you should know that fat is made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. When the bonds that bind these elements are broken fat is burned, http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/lowcarbliving/a/Is-Your-Low-Carb-Diet-Giving-You-Bad-Breath.htm.

80% of fat is lost via carbon dioxide (CO2=carbon and oxygen) through breathing.

20% of the fat is lost as water (H20=hydrogen and oxygen) in urine or through sweat.

Thank you Dr. Eric Westman for confirming this scientific fact. He compares fat burning to a burning candle. As the flame heats the candle, it becomes smaller similar to how body fat is burned. Body fat is mostly lost to the air we breathe and slowly we become smaller.

This chemical reaction may also explain why one may get funky breath when fat is burned as the primary source of energy for those following a very low carbohydrare ketogenic diet.

As fat is burned at a much higher more dense rate when in ketosis as compared with fat loss on a low fat diet, the oxidation of fat and ketones released via the breath (a sign of fat burning) will be more prominent. If you need to battle the bad breath beast, you may want to try these suggestions, http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/lowcarbliving/a/Is-Your-Low-Carb-Diet-Giving-You-Bad-Breath.htm. Just be assured that keto-breath may resolve itself after a couple of weeks.

So consider yourself in the know now. You now know what actually happens to fat when it is burned. Losing your fat is but a breath away.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in weight loss

 

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The Brains Role in “Frying” Fat : Brown Fat Burns Calories and Benefits Health

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While most people  are trying to lose fat, they may not realize the brain may be an important focus. The scientific journal “Cell” just published an animal study that describes the brain’s role in regulating the conversion (browning/”fat frying”) of inactive white storing fat (WAT) to metabolically active brown fat (BAT).

This research adds to others like my blog on the brain and gut connection, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/listen-to-your-gut/)  associating the brain’s role with physical health.

It seems that neurons (in the hypothalamus) work to burn calories and then actually changing inactive WAT fat to more active BAT burning fat. The whole process includes neurons, hormones and enzymes.

There are 3 types of body fat that are distinguished by color.  White fat (WAT) is stored and not active, it comprises 90% of the body’s fat. Brown fat (BAT, but should be termed BRAT LOL) actually works to burn calories, maintain blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723123944.htm. BAT can burn as much as 5 times more fat than beige fat. Beige fat is a mixture of WAT and BAT.

2 neurons found in the brain work synergistically with enzymes, leptin and insulin:

Agouti-related protein expressing (AgRP) neurons encourage white fat storage otherwise known as “hunger” neurons that lend itself to storing white fat.

Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) are satiety signaling neurons that stimulate white fat “frying” or changing it to beige fat help to protect against fat storage and promote obesity. POMC neurons were found to be involved with insulin and leptin (produced by WAT) resistance that contribute to obesity blood sugar control and satiety.

Researchers from Monash University in Australia completed a study, http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/41912/title/Brain-s-Role-in-Browning-White-Fat/, where enzymes (phosphatases also found in POMC neurons) were removed from the signaling reactions of insulin and leptin.

When the communication signals for insulin and leptin increased so did beige fat, BAT became more active while WAT decreased signifying the relationship between the brain and body weight and metabolism.

There have also been findings on fat color and environmental influences. Exercise can “fry” white fat so that it acts like BAT via a hormone called irisin and increases UCP1 making brown fat more active.

Cold temperatures have been found to increase beige fat activity. In a Japanese study male volunteers burned almost 300 more calories while sitting in a room at 63 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. PET-CT scan showed an increase in beige fat activity.

There is even talk over brown seaweed, licorice root and hot peppers having similar capabilities.

The bad news for those who are overweight, they may not be able to convert white fat to brown fat as easily as their thin peers.

As science tries to get a better grip on understanding the brains role in activating calorie burning brown fat and putting the pieces of the puzzle together in order to understand BAT’s role in health, there is one thing for sure the darker the body fat the better.

On a side note, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. on this day. Thank you, sir.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in FAT, insulin, weight loss

 

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20 Shades of Green

Photo: http://dawnypoo.blogspot.com/2012/10/tuesday-trend-autumnal-vegetable.html#.VLOCwyvF88w

Whether you are trying to spice things up in the bedroom, “50 shades of grey style”,  or on your plate…variety is key. “Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables(PFV):A Nutrient Density Approach” published by the CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/13_0390.htm, classifies and attempts to define PFV’s based on 17 nutrients associated with health (potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins  A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K).

Fifty percent of  the 41 foods that attain “powerhouse” status were green. Even iceberg lettuce made the cut. They are listed here in order of highest nutrient density score based on CDC criteria:

1.    Watercress
2.    Chinese cabbage
3.    Chard
4.    Beet green
5.    Spinach
6.    Chicory
7.    Leaf lettuce
8.    Parsley
9.    Romaine lettuce
10. Collard green
11. Turnip green
12. Mustard green
13. Endive
14. Chive
15. Kale
16. Dandelion green
17. Arugula
18. Broccoli
19. Brussels sprout
20. Kohlrabi
21. Cabbage
22. Iceberg lettuce 

No need to eat the same boring green on a daily basis. Don’t get stuck in a salad rut.  Each shade of green vegetable has different, tastes, textures and nutrients that will add a little eroticism to a monotonous meal plan.

Feed your body 20 shades of green, taste the difference, nourish your body. Get the boring salad out of your meals; bring in satisfaction from taste and necessary nutrients from eating green goodness. Here’s a kick-start list to the top 5 “Powerhouse” greens to get you going.

1. Watercress

In the 19th century watercress was known as “poor man’s bread” because it was free and  ” bunches were often rolled into a cone and eaten as an on-the-go breakfast sandwich, “http://foodfacts.mercola.com/watercress.html#_edn2. Now  there’s a new breakfast idea!

Eating watercress supplies Vitamins A, C and K and beta-carotene. Phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is another nutrient found in watercress linked to significant anticancer properties. PEITC may starve tumor growth by “turning off “a signal in the body effecting blood and oxygen supply.

Results from a randomized, crossover trial where 1½ cups of fresh watercress was consumed daily for eight weeks showed a 10% reduction in triglyceride levels, a significant blood increase in the antioxidants lutein and beta carotene resulting in a lowered incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Shades of Green Recipe Pick:

Watercress-Buttermilk Soup

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/watercress-buttermilk-soup

Ingredients

1 medium leek

2 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, minced

6 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth

1 (5-oz.) package fresh baby spinach

2 (4-oz.) packages watercress (about 16 loosely packed cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Pinch of ground red pepper

2 cups whole buttermilk

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Garnishes: buttermilk, watercress sprigs, chopped fresh chives

Preparation

  1. Remove and discard root end and dark green top of leek. Cut in half lengthwise, and rinse under cold running water to remove grit and sand. Thinly slice leek.
  2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add leek, and sauté 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
  3. Add broth; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and add spinach and next 4 ingredients, stirring until spinach is wilted.
  4. Puree soup with a blender until smooth; pour into a large bowl. Whisk in buttermilk and lemon juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 2. Chinese “Nappa” cabbage or bok choy

Loaded with minerals like calcium (containing almost as much as in a glass of milk), iron and potassium, Chinese cabbage contains manganese an important co-factor helping to boost antioxidant activity (specifically for superoxide dismutase [SOD]) and other cancer fighting enzymes (myrosinase)  and nutrients like indoles. When it comes to cabbage steaming is the best cooking method because microwaving can damage the enzymes and reduce the health benefits. Half of this green’s carbs come from fiber and we know why fiber is important.

Shades of Green Recipe picks:

” 8 Things to do with Napa cabbage” http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/809695/8-things-to-do-with-napa-cabbage

“Slow Cooker Low Carb Cabbage Roll Stew” http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Slow-Cooker-Low-Carb-Cabbage-Roll-Stew-747406?columns=4&position=3%2F64

3. Chard

If they eat it in the Mediterranean, its’ got to be good!  Well it is a powerhouse when it comes to good health. It’s packed with vitamins/minerals. But, more importantly, phytonutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin)  in this green protect your eyes. Anthocyanins and pigments called betalain work to support liver detox via glutathione, prevent inflammation and help slow the aging process, https://experiencelife.com/article/glutathione-the-great-protector/.  Studies show people with higher anthocyanin levels had better blood sugar control and less insulin resistance.

Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Eggs Nested in Sautéed Chard and Mushrooms” http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Eggs-Nested-in-Sauteed-Chard-and-Mushrooms-950089

4. Beet greens

Beet greens are the greens found atop of beets. They can be traced back to ancient Asia and North Africa as far back as 2000 B.C. They are similar in nutritional value to chard but the unique health contribution from beet greens are the B-complex vitamins contributing to metabolism and betaine helping to reduce plaque build-up in arteries and lower homocysteine levels. This shade of green also contains more iron than spinach!  Iron helps transport oxygen in the blood and involved with energy levels.

Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Wilted Beet Greens with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts” http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/2013/02/wilted-beet-greens-w-goat-cheese-pine-nuts.html

5. Spinach

Spinach may have originated in Persia and then made its way to China, Nepal, Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe. The U.S. is now one of the largest producers of spinach worldwide.

It seems spinach has long been touted for a heaping of health benefits with the comprehensive list of nutrients this green contains. Magnesium may play a part in its ability to help lower blood pressure but there are nutrients like thylakoids that may act as an appetite suppressant that can help with weight loss.

A recent study found women who drank a mixture containing thylakoids before breakfast lost 5.5 pounds more than the placebo group over the course of three months.

Other nutrients in spinach called “glycoglycerolipids” are fat-related molecules in membranes can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and carotenoids called epoxyxanthophylls (neoxanthin and violaxanthin) in spinach that specifically help protect against prostate cancer.

Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Easy Spinach Casserole” http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/vegetabledishes/r/spinachcaserole.htm

On  a personal note, one of my favorite shades of green is Kale. I love kale chips, so I am sharing this “extra” shade of green recipe with you, http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/12/6-tips-for-flawless-kale-chips-all-dressed-kale-chips-recipe/.

So you see not all shades of green are created equal. Certainly you can minimize the fizzle and quick start the sizzle by adding 20 shades of green to your diet.

 

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Te Amo Semper

 

Te amo sempre (I always love you) and will never forget Pure Power Bootcamp (PPBC). This week I am re-posting a blog as tribute for helping me get back on the road to “me”. I challenge anyone who reads this to discover the things in life that instill joy and make you feel good. Whatever they are, whatever it is,  just do it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What you do and love can change your life forever. My choice reinforced brotherhood along with:

STRENGTH

COURAGE

DESIRE

PERSEVERANCE

INTENSITY

RESPECT

POWER

DUTY

LOYALTY

DIGNITY

 

For me the discovery was easy. I re-discovered, me. It felt and continues to feel good. I cherish the memories and refuse to believe that we will not all be together again soon! Pure Power lives on in my heart and soul, http://wp.me/pudS3-Jz. What is today and what will be tomorrow for PPBC we do not know but I have faith     !

Te amo sempre Pure Power Boot Camp.

Has anyone been as fortunate as I have been and would you like to share what “IT” was (or is) that has helped make you feel good or inspired you in any way? I’d love to hear about the “IT”.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in exercise, health, weight loss

 

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New Year’s Resolution: Make the Goal Lose The Weight

 

If you are thinking about New Years’ and making a resolution or you have been trying to get back on the bandwagon after falling off a few times. Realize that “defeat is a path leading to success” and it is a sign “that something is wrong” with what you are doing. Evaluate what has not worked in the past and try something new this year.

Instead of a once a year pledge or a half *ssed effort to stick to a diet, make a vow and make it a priority every day. Create a goal. Make your goal more than just a mind game. Use tools to give your goal a daily (or more) presence. Checks and balances can give life to your plan.

Set an alarm if you need a reminder, hold specific times of the day in your calendar to eat and at the end of each month to  re-visit your  goal and to determine if the goal is realistic. This makes the vow a more active part of your everyday routine. Then it becomes more than just a thought.

95% of dieters fail. So stay away from dieting and approach your goal with winning strategies. Do you want to lose weight or just be healthier this year? What is your goal? How will you accomplish it? The vow you make to yourself must be front and center on a daily basis.

For example:

Your goal might be: I will lose 2 pounds/week.

How are you going to achieve this goal? Specific behavior strategies that you choose to assist you with daily challenges.

The Strategies:

  1. Switch my low nutrient snacks for real foods that nourish (100 calorie snack pack out, celery with peanut butter in).
  2. I will track my foods for accountability (use an app to track daily food).
  3. I will not deprive myself of food when I’m hungry.

Allow yourself three and a half weeks to determine if the set goal is realistic or you need to change it so that it is attainable.

Renew your vow if you are successful, it’s working for you. Add a second goal with 3 new strategies for detailed actions in February. Do this each month.

If you have not achieved your goal in 3 weeks, re-do your vow so that it is more attainable.

The Resolution “re-do”

Example: I will lose one-two pounds each week

Strategies:

  1. If I eat a 100 calorie snack pack at work, this will be my only desert of the day.
  2. I will track my foods for accountability (use an app to track daily food).
  3. I will identify real hunger vs. eating when bored.

At the end of each month, set a time when you check-in, evaluate your progress, or lack of progress. Learn to accommodate your lifestyle, your food preferences and any other hiccup that might interfere with your goal in order to identify what works for you. When you individualize your own plan, you will beat the odds and find a lifetime of success.

Just because your initial attempt, or attempts, at weight loss or better health does not work, it does not mean throw in the towel. Like Bruce Lee said, “let defeat be your path to success”. There is more than one way to reach a goal. It may take a little time to find what works for you. But, you can pave your way to success by figuring out what works for you.

 

 

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Don’t Get “Scrooged”, Get Happy For The Holidays!

File:Xmastreenewyork06.jpg

Christmas at Rockefeller Center, located in New York City, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The holiday season is upon us, Christmas and New Years are here! Family gatherings and social events create more responsibilities and pressures. Holiday cheer this time of year? Absolutely!

But, the holidays also create stress and unrealistic expectations that can put a damper on things. There are many people who enjoy the season but there is a reality  of the extra task of buying gifts, hosting the traditional celebration, stressing about finances, job security, and other pressures from various sources.

Holiday occasions should be like a breath of fresh air. Do not let outside worries or circumstances interfere with one day or a few hours of joy. It is meant for you to stop and allow yourself to feel love, happiness, hope and goodness, no matter what.

If things are starting to get out of control, think about the big picture. Holidays are not forever. “What are your expectations during the holiday season?” “What are your expectations for family, friends or your job?” “Can you use this time to relax and enjoy the ones you love most?” These are loaded questions. Take time to really think about the answers and bring yourself to a good place.

Why are these questions important? Because expectations can mess with your mood and your happiness. Do not let negativity cloud your judgment. Keep your thoughts clear.  Focus on yourself: your health, your weight goals and most importantly your happiness.

If you think the holiday will be picture perfect, you know just like on T.V. , the food, the people, the gifts….think again. Don’t get blindsided by circumstance. There is often a person or event that will bring you down before you have a chance to take your next breath. Your expectations can be a huge factor for your sanity, wellness and even your weight.

An “expectation” is a belief about what might happen in the future. Keep in mind that while it is impossible to predict what will happen in the future, you can use past holidays  to gauge what is likely to happen based on previous years.  If there are things that have happened in the past, certain people or situations that have “scrooged”you out of everything including a happy holiday, just DO NOT let it get to you this year.

Know it is likely going to happen again and plan how you are going to avoid any aggravation that comes your way. Set realistic expectations knowing that the only person that can control your moods or happiness is you. Keep stress at bay. Think positive thoughts. It is about your health, happiness and the time you spend with those who you enjoy being with, not the gifts, the job or any distraction in your life.

Make this holiday season one of the best ever!

Be well, keep things in perspective, think positive thoughts, keep your spirits high, your outlook on life good and help to keep your healthy lifestyle (eating and exercising) consistent during the holidays.

If you need a little push let a song infiltrate your soul. These songs, Bob Marley, “Don´t Worry Be Happy”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poCo_7ZjYA8,  or “Don’t Worry About A Thing, ‘Cause Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mACqcZZwG0k,  work for me. Find a tune that will help straighten you out, let it get stuck in your head and sing it like you mean it for as long as you need it!

No matter what’s going on, music can make you feel good inside so sing and spread the holiday spirit and most of all enjoy life!

Anyone have a song or a plan to avoid being “scrooged”? I would be “happy” to share.

Happy and healthy holidays to all!

 

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