Thursday, September 16, 2010

Losing Weight - Are Diets Detrimental to Health?

Kathy Smith Laws to Living Lean
by: Dr. Mercola
December 30 2011
By Kathy Smith
I want to share with you my fitness secrets to get you in the best shape of your life, my Laws to Living Lean.
They can help prevent the days that threaten to derail our efforts and smooth over the times when life gets overly busy.
My laws will give you important tools for problem solving.
With practice these strategies will become a skill set that will help you make good, healthy decisions day in and day out.
You can use these laws for the rest of your life.
Law No. 1: Think Progress, Not Perfection
Anything worth accomplishing takes time, patience, and incremental effort, especially when the goal is a profound one.
The thought of losing weight can be overwhelming. You are not sure how long the process will take, and you worry that you will not succeed.
This is when it is important to think progress, not perfection. Always remember that all the little shifts you make will add up to large changes overall.
This process does not happen overnight. Your success will be cumulative. A few years ago I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
The thought of reaching the top was both incredibly motivating and a bit daunting. But no one climbs a mountain in one giant leap.
I kept my focus on putting one foot in front of the other. All those little steps add up! As long as you move forward—even by a few inches—you will get where you are going eventually.
Think inside out: And don't forget that as you make slight shifts in your life, a tremendous amount of invisible activity goes on inside your body. Even though you may not see results as quickly as you want on the outside of your body, you are retraining your body's metabolic pathways to more efficiently metabolize food and burn fat. You are changing your body on both a cellular and a hormonal level. Don't beat yourself up if you can't follow the program exactly on a busy day.
Focus on the positive: You are exercising most days of the week now and you are eating in a way that is good for your body. One day won't set you back in the grand scheme of things. Remind yourself that you are still moving forward.
Be honest about your efforts: If you do not see the results you want, make a bigger commitment to yourself. Take it seriously and believe in yourself. You will see a difference. Don't use "it is not working" as yet another excuse to avoid the journey.
Law No. 2: View Exercise as Nonnegotiable
We don't think about whether we will eat, drink, and sleep. WE do those things quite robotically because they keep us alive. We can all agree that regular exercise benefits our health and keeps us alive. Yet many of us don't do any exercise. I believe the body emits signals when it is not getting enough exercise, but some of us choose to ignore those signals.
When you get into the routine of exercising frequently, you will start to tune in to your body's signals when it is time to get moving and break a sweat. You can get to a place where you are so in sync with your body that those exercise signals become impossible to ignore. They can be very big motivators.
Don't give in to excuses. To keep up regular daily exercise, be prepared to battle common lifestyle issues. These are some of the excuses I hear most often and ways to move past them:
"I have no time to exercise." Well, who does? Until you make exercise a priority, you won't be able to find time. Considers this: if the president of the United States and executives of top companies can fit in exercise, so can you. (The reason they do is because the investment of time exercising yields benefits at work.
They come to the job with more energy and are capable of accomplishing more.) This excuse is particularly hard to use because my workout program can be done in just 10 minutes. I don't know anyone who can't find at least 10 extra minutes a day, if not several pockets of 10 minutes scattered throughout the day.
With my Matrix system of moves, you will get a total body workout – working all your muscles in a short period of time. And with the progression of movements through various intensities, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in just 10 minutes. However, until you understand the value that exercise can bring to your life, you will not carve out time for it.
"I only have a few minutes here and there." Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your workout program has to be completed every day in one continuous segment. All the research indicates that you get the same health benefits by doing three 10-minute bouts of exercise as you would from doing a single 30-minute workout. If you are short on time, go ahead and break up your routine in manageable, bite-size pieces.
You can even multi-task, watching the morning news as you complete a set of full-body moves that will rev you up for the day. Think of other ways to sneak in more activity during the day and combine socializing and/or work with exercise. For example, break away from your office routine and go with coworkers for a brisk walk.
"I'm too tired to exercise." Try moving your workouts to the morning, when the day's events haven't kicked in to either disrupt you or wear you down. Make sure you are getting enough sleep too. Sometimes to get motivated I will make myself a vitamin C drink, and then lie on the floor to do inversions where I get my hips above my shoulders so the blood flows to my head. Everyone may need something different to get over that initial hump. But for most everyone the first five minutes are the hardest. Once you get the circulation going and the heart beating faster, the body takes over.
It is like the law of inertia: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Take some deep breaths and think about how wonderful you will feel after working out.
"Exercise is boring." This exercise is difficult to understand because there are so many ways to mix up exercises with my Matrix system. Stop thinking of exercise as drudgery and view it as time for yourself. We all lead stressful, busy lives. Having more time for you should be a blessing.
"I didn't get the results I wanted so I gave up." When people say this I question how committed they were to a program and giving their body time to respond. From the moment you start changing how you eat and exercise, your body undergoes a multitude of invisible changes, all of which build a strong foundation for dramatic future results.
Remember, we are not aiming just for weight loss. We seek much more: robust hearts and immune systems, more lean muscle, a strong skeletal system to support other systems and organs, a lower risk for age-related diseases and a slowdown in the degenerative process that affects everything.
Law No. 3: Shop Smart at the Grocery Store
Most local markets today have a wonderful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy dairy products, lean meats and proteins, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Once you start my meal plan and introduce your body to delicious, wholesome foods, it will be easier to hit those checkout lines without picking up impulse items that are full of excess fat, sugar, and salt. Just follow these tips for navigating the store:
Stick to the perimeter: Most markets have a similar layout. Meats, produce, and dairy are found around the perimeter, with processed foods (the most concentrated area of junk "goodies" and convenience foods full of unnecessary fats, sugars, carbs, and salt) in the center. When you stay on the perimeter, you stick "close to the earth," buying foods closest to their natural state. You will, however, have to hunt down the grains aisle, which is probably somewhere in the middle.
Shop at the same store: Once you are accustomed to the store layout at one location, you can shop more efficiently. Avoid the aisles with temptations and save time.
Bring a list: Avoid buying items not on your list. Don't buy the foods that tempt you to overeat or they will be lurking around at home when your next late-night craving strikes. If you have to buy treats for others in your family, store them deep in the pantry where they are out of sight.
Don't shop when you are hungry: Do your best to go to the grocery store on a full stomach. You know what happens when you shop hungry. Everything looks good, and you arrive home with bags of extra food, much of it falling in the sugary/salty/fatty category.
Read labels: It is no surprise that one way to support healthy weight loss is to be conscious about what we buy in the grocery store by reading labels. This is true even for "healthy" products that are labeled "fat-free," "lite," and "low-fat." You may be surprised to see that they include unhealthy ingredients that can sabotage even the most conscientious eater. Ingredients are listed on labels in order from highest content to lowest. If, for example, sugar is the first ingredient listed, that product contains high amounts of sugar as compared with other ingredients.
If taking the time to read labels during a busy shopping trip seems like too much of a hassle, plan to visit the store just to read labels. Think of it as a timesaving exploration that will set you up for success on future shopping trips. Jot down a list of the brands and items you find that are both healthy and delicious. Add those items to your shopping list each week and you will be able to grab them and keep the cart rolling. Or practice label reading with items you already have at home. It won't take long before you read labels out of habit.
Embrace fresh and frozen veggies: I encourage you to select fresh produce when it is in season. Nothing beats the crunch of a fresh red bell pepper or the sweetness of fresh blueberries. However, certain fresh vegetables can be hard to find depending on the season, and some fresh vegetables are expensive. If you opt for frozen varieties, be assured that because they are frozen immediately after harvest, the nutritional values are about the same as fresh produce.
Talk to the butcher: Ask the butcher which meats and fish are the best that day and choose fresh, fresh, fresh. If you find a beautiful cut of steak, you won't have to fuss much with seasoning. A shake of salt, pepper, and maybe some garlic powder and you are minutes away from dinner. The same goes for fish. If the market just received trout fillets, brush them with some olive oil, lay them on a grill pan, add sliced veggies, and you can have dinner in no time.
Law No. 4: Make Your Home a Healthy Environment
Your environment should support your healthy lifestyle. Create positive energy in your kitchen with how you stock and organize it, just as you create a certain energy in your home with your choice and placement of furniture. Do an inventory of your kitchen, then do the following:
Discard anything that contains trans fats, hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup, or added sugars.
Replace high-fructose corn syrup-base condiments, spreads, and salad dressings with natural, organic alternatives.
Discard items with artificial sweeteners.
Place any family treats, such as cookies and after-school snacks, far from view. Don't have a cookie jar out on the counter unless you fill it with something like whole fruit or whole grain pasta.
Replace sugary beverages (including fruit juices and sodas) with still or sparkling water. Have them visible and available when you open the refrigerator. Drink up all day long!
Dump chips, crackers, cookies, ice cream, candy, and packaged sweets. Avoid having crunchy, salty chips/crackers, trail mix, pretzels, kettle corn, chocolate, and packaged snacks around to tempt you.
Law No. 5: Consider Your Past Habits
You are sitting on the couch with your kids watching television when a bag of salted chips comes your way. You ask yourself, should I have one? You know that each chip is only about 10 calories, and that isn't much. This is when you need to recall previous times you were in the same situation. Did you eat just one? If you didn't—and you ate half a bag, which is 600 calories—then the best decision today is to pass the bag to someone else.
I advise anyone who is trying to lose weight (and keep it off) to identify his or her own eating patterns. Tune in to the foods and eating situations that often trigger overeating or binges. Everyone is different when it comes to trigger foods. I used to have a problem with chocolate. If it was in my kitchen it didn't last long. One bite led to two, then three and four. At one point I banished it from my house because there was no chance I could eat it in moderation.
I have learned that it is usually easier to simply say "no" to even one chip or candy. It is much harder to stop a binge when it is in progress.
Your body and your fitness level are created by old habits and old patterns. That is why keeping a journal is so helpful. It is just as important to write about your feelings as it is to record what you eat and which exercises you do.
Keeping notes helps you become more aware of your habits and patterns, and with that awareness you can learn how to shift them in a healthier direction. It is like missing the forest for the tress: In the hum of daily life, we're often unaware of how our behavior falls into patterns and how we repeat the same mistakes until we see it recorded on paper.
In reviewing my own journal, for instance, I discovered that I have a habit of eating trail mix right from the bag. That can lead me to eat multiple servings. I didn't realize until I did the math how many calories I was mindlessly consuming. Now I remind myself to measure out one portion so I don't overeat. Watch your journal to see which habits you need to break.
Law No. 6: Seek Substitutions for What You Crave
It is unrealistic to think you won't be tempted to overindulge in your favorite sugary, salty or fatty snack foods. But you can be prepared by having healthy substitutions available. Replace addictive foods with other options. Sometimes it is simply a certain texture that we seek. If you love crunchy chips with ranch dressing, try crunchy celery or sweet peppers with hummus or an all-natural, low-fat dressing. If you are in the mood for candy, try fruit with a little protein and healthy fat for satiety. A berry-based smoothie with a drop of flaxseed oil may do the trick.
Follow the 10 percent rule.
Once you reach your goal weight, don't completely deprive yourself. If you can find healthier substitutes for your cravings 90 percent of the time, feel free to indulge in your favorite foods the other 10 percent of the time. The truth is that no food is totally bad. It is all in how much you eat. I eat chocolate occasionally, but I prefer to have it when I'm away from home. I don't keep it in my kitchen because that is too much temptation.
When you reach your ideal weight, part of maintaining your new body will entail knowing when to allow yourself a small portion of a favorite food and when you should seek a substitution instead.
Law No. 7: Detach Mood from Food
Sometimes when you have had a really bad/stressful/exhausting/boring day, you arrive home and all you want to eat is a pint of ice cream and a bag of barbecue potato chips. Sound familiar? Sometimes eating is not about hunger. Mood eating is one of the most overwhelming issues for any weight-conscious person.
We often turn to comfort foods for reasons other than fuel, and distinguishing the physical need for the emotional need—especially in the heat of the moment—can be one of the hardest things to do. Boredom, loneliness, anger, sadness, anxiety, frustration, and fatigue are all controlling emotions. They key is to strike a balance between knowing what you eat and understanding how you feel.
This is when keeping a journal becomes critical. I have led many groups through weight loss programs, and I account much of their success to their dedication in keeping food-mood entries. Everyone recorded how they felt before and after they ate. Take time to write what you feel the moment you sense that you want to head to the kitchen for some out-of-control eating.
Are you tired, lonely, bored, or upset? Which emotion is taking over? Does this emotion connect with a particular food or need for a particular taste sensation? Are you truly hungry or just looking for a way to deal with the emotion?
Especially if you are an emotional eater, write about how life is affecting your eating habits and include notes on the days you veer off track and respond to being angry, lonely, bored, or tired with food.
This will help you come to a better understanding of your personal connection between mood and food. As you continue to fill your journal, you will gain self-awareness to help you make better decisions when the same mood pattern repeats. The goal is to reach a point where you no longer eat in response to negative feelings. If you find, for example, that you become cranky around 4:30 every afternoon and you munch on something that you later regret, you may want to plan a 20-minute walk at that time and have a light snack ready when you return.
Law No. 8: Think Quality of Calories, Not Number
Let's face it, counting calories or grams of this and that is impractical. It is not very useful when trying to lose weight because not all calories are created equal. A 300-calorie candy bar is not equivalent to a 300-calorie turkey wrap. Your body responds differently to these foods. The sugary candy bar is likely to feed your fat cells, whereas the high-protein wrap will feed muscle, fostering a chain of events that result in a higher metabolism, preserved lean muscle mass, and blood sugar balance.
Law No. 9: Remember the Power of Sleep
Most of us know that constant stress is not good for our health. Neither is sleep deprivation, which is linked to everything from an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity to an elevated risk for depression, heart attack, and stroke.
Make sleep a priority. A good night's sleep now appears to be every bit as important to good health and long life as a nutritious diet and regular exercise. In 2004 researchers showed a strong connection between sleep and the ability to lose weight.
The more you sleep the better your body can regulate the hormones that control hunger and appetite. Two digestive hormones—ghrelin and leptin—work together to control your feelings of hunger. Your stomach secretes ghrelin when it is empty, telling your brain that you are hungry and increasing your appetite. When you are full, leptin sends your brain the opposite message so you quit eating.
Inadequate sleep creates an imbalance of both ghrelin and leptin, thus impeding your brain's ability to get the message that you are full. So you keep eating and eating. One study at the University of Chicago showed that when people were allowed just four hours of sleep a night for two nights, they suffered a 20 percent drop in leptin and an increase in ghrelin.
They also had a 24 percent increase in hunger and a 23 percent increase in appetite. Their appetite for calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate foods like sweets, salty snacks, and starchy foods increased from 33 to 45 percent.
The lesson: Don't underestimate the power of sleep. Sleep has other benefits as well, such as supporting a healthy immune system, keeping you energetic, and helping your memory stay sharp.
Growth hormone is largely secreted during the night in deep sleep. In addition to helping cells repair and renew themselves, growth hormone helps control the body's ratio of fat to muscle. Sleep also plays a major role in how well we age and how healthy we "look" (think about skin repair and rejuvenation). The ever-beating heart needs sleep too. During the night the heart gets a break.
We all have a bad night's sleep from time to time. When you do, take extra care of yourself the next day. Instead of reaching for sugary or fatty snacks, focus on lean proteins like fish, turkey, or eggs that will keep you satisfied until your next meal. Then take some time that evening to slow down and relax to ensure a better night's sleep.
Law No. 10: Start Every Day with Breakfast
When you eat is as important as what you eat. This is a point I stress repeatedly, and it starts with breakfast. You should eat breakfast within one hour of rising. It can work wonders on your body's metabolism and overall ability to lose weight and keep it off.
Although you probably have heard this advice before, you may not know why it is such a great idea.
After seven to eight hours of sleep, eating breakfast is like flipping a magical switch that turns on your metabolism and sets the stage for your blood sugar, energy level, and even your mood for that day. Skipping breakfast is proven to make weight control more difficult. People who skip a morning meal eat more food at the next meal, eat high-calorie snacks to curb hunger, struggle to fight off low energy and sleepiness in the late afternoon, and have a hard time fitting important nutrients into their diet.
Here's something else to keep in mind: Your brain runs on glucose—the fuel you need to think, walk, talk, and carry on virtually all activities.
If you skip breakfast, it becomes much harder to accomplish things, including exercise. When you go a long time without fuel, your body responds naturally by entering a "safe mode" and slowing down its metabolism. When you do eventually eat, chances are you are going to overeat. The human body accumulates more fat when you eat fewer, larger meals, so you are better off eating breakfast even if you don't feel hungry.
The lesson: commit to eating a wholesome breakfast. Eating breakfast has been proved (many times) to not only stimulate metabolism and help with weight and cholesterol control, but also to improve concentration, problem-solving ability, mental performance, memory, and mood. By eating breakfast you set yourself up for maintain healthy eating habits throughout the day.
Law No. 11: Eat Every Three to Four Hours
You should eat every three to four hours. Eating smaller meals during the day with snacks will keep you satisfied, increase your metabolic rate, preserve lean muscle mass, and keep your moods consistent. If you go too long without eating, you can actually cause your body to hold on to fat (to protect itself) and consume muscle. This then translates to burning fewer calories and feeling low on energy.
The proof is in the research. Scandinavian scientists recently tested two diets with a group of athletes who were trying to lose weight. Although all of them lose the same amount of weight, those who ate more frequent meals lost almost all fat tissue. At Nagoya University in Japan, athletes who ate six meals a day preserved their muscle tissue as they lost weight, whereas the ones who at the same number of calories in just two daily meals lost muscle tissue.
Law No. 12: Think Big
We are all sidetracked once in a while. That is OK. We become frustrated by the little stuff—like five extra pounds or a pair of pants that don't fit—and forget to consider the larger picture. Stay focused and remember the vision you have for yourself. When we move from having a constant microscope on ourselves to appreciating a more macrocosmic perspective, we can usher in a passionate attitude that has the effect of weakening the fixation on food.
In the last several years I have started to take what I call gratitude walks. I step outside my home and go on a mindful walk, taking in the details of my surroundings: the curvature of the tress, the individual petals of blooming flowers, the color of the sky and the shapes of the clouds.
These are details we rarely appreciate in daily living. The walks make me aware and vigilant, and I become exceptionally thankful for my life and the world in which I live.
When you are present in the moment like this, you start to think in a whole new light and connect in ways you never imagined. You also become inspired, thinking more broadly rather than focusing on your own inner world and trivial frustrations.
Suddenly you are motivated to take on something bigger than yourself—like a charity walk or 10k. You find that participating in life fills you to the point where food truly becomes something that nourishes and sustains you. It doesn't have to be an obsession all the time.
You don't have to give up your job, join the Peace Corps, or go to any great lengths to "think big." Just take note of what goes on in your own community to be involved. I bet you will be surprised by how it can change you.
Law No. 13: You Can Tame Your Sugar Habit
Almost all of us love something sweet, whether it is a piece of chocolate or a slice of fruit pie. You don't have to nix sugar entirely, but I do recommend that you severely restrict it for a few days or, if you can, a week at the start of a lifestyle change. This will help you release your craving and recalibrate your blood sugar.
It is all about understanding how different foods affect your body so you can make informed choices about how and when to eat sweets.
Sweets don't have to be taboo if you learn to manage them so that the occasional indulgence doesn't get in the way of fitness goals. Sugar is unique in that it can fuel cravings and throw a blood sugar level so out of whack that it becomes nearly impossible to control your portions. The key is to know which foods and sugar-laden products you can handle and which ones you should eliminate from your kitchen entirely.
Start by noticing how sugar affects you. Identify which foods you absolutely cannot control. We all know people who can eat a few M&M's and walk away, while other people end up eating the whole bag. Sugar affects these people in very different ways.
If you have something sweet, do you instantly crave more? Do you feel lethargic or tired? Do you feel mentally foggy or unwell in general? If so, you probably don't process sugar very well. You need to respect your body's reaction to sugar and find a new way of enjoying sweets without making yourself sick. Reducing your sugar habit probably won't eliminate its effect on you when you have it, but it will make it easier to say "no thanks" more often.
To maintain you sugar sanity, try these tricks:
Don't eat sugar when you are hungry. A sugary snack on an empty stomach is more likely to trigger a craving, causing you to eat far more of the sweet treat than you would if you were full.
Eat a sweet after a meal. You are less likely to eat a lot of a sweet after a balanced meal. Make sure you have had a good source of protein in your meal (such as grilled salmon or halibut, lean beef, chicken, or turkey). The protein diminishes the impact of the sugar on your system.
Prep for dessert. If you sit down to a meal and you know that you will want dessert, make sure to eliminate starchy carbohydrates from that meal, including bread, pasta, and grains. Your dessert will count as a starch.
Eat sweets very slowly. Savor the taste and texture. Set down your fork or spoon between bites. When you really enjoy what you eat, you won't need a huge amount to satisfy your craving.
Be discriminating. Once you start savoring your sweets, you will notice the quality of what you are eating. Put down the inferior chocolate and tell yourself it is just not good enough for your taste buds. You don't want to waste calories on anything inferior.
Let go of the guilt. Guilt is not a good weight loss motivator—it can actually make you eat more, not less. When you think of sweets as a no-no, you feel you have to sneak them. Sneaking often leads to gobbling and making poor choices about what to have. Change your relationship to sweets so that you control them instead of letting them control you.
Be prepared. Handle your cravings by anticipating them. If you know that you react to sugar by craving more (and more), have a plan ready to help your body metabolize the sugar. Effective tools include doing something else that feels good to take your mind off the urge, such as taking a relaxing bath.
Law No. 14: You Can Eat at Restaurants
It is true that many restaurants serve portions that are enough for a small family. The same amount of pasta served to a 120-pound woman also is served to a 250-pound man. What is more, restaurant potions typically include only small amounts of protein and limited produce while the refined or starchy carbohydrates are off the charts. Follow these tips:
Watch protein portions: One serving size of protein is about the size of your palm. If the amount of protein in your entrée is too small, boost it by ordering an appetizer that has a good source of protein or by requesting extra meat, chicken, or tofu on your salad or sandwich. If there is too much protein, ask to take half your meal home. Doggie bag, please!
Think vegetables first: Request more steamed vegetables, grilled asparagus, or a side salad. If you have a meal that includes a starch, such as bread, rice, or pasta, think about what you really want and watch serving sizes. If you decide on grilled fish and steamed veggies, and you know the bread is fabulous, eat it! But if you decide on a baked potato or rice, you already have your starch and should do without the bread this time.
Be prepared: You have to become mentally prepared for eating out whether it is at a restaurant or at your best friend's house. Eat a mini meal before you head out the door. Be sure to include a good source of lean protein and some fibrous vegetables. Try two hard-cooked eggs with a side of steamed spinach. It will fill your stomach, keep your blood sugar level happy for a while, and stave off hunger and cravings.
Don't be afraid of buffets: Just because it is a buffet doesn't mean you have to go through 10 plates. Stick to serving yourself one plate in line. If you want to enjoy numerous trips to the tables like everyone else, start with a plate of lean protein (sliced turkey, red meat, or fish), the return for a new plate heavy on fresh steamed vegetables. Leave the starchier carbohydrates, fruits, and sweets for last.
About the Author:
Kathy has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for more than thirty years with a collection of books, videos, audios and DVD's on walking, cardiovascular health, nutrition, strength training, yoga, Pilates, menopause, dance, and all-things-exercise.
As President of Kathy Smith Lifestyles, she has sold over $500 million in lifestyle products and fitness equipment. In addition to her DVD library, Kathy is an accomplished author, with bestselling titles including Feed Muscle Shrink Fat Diet and Moving Through Menopause. She has also contributed her expertise on health and wellness to countless media outlets, including the LA Times, USA Today, The Today Show, Oprah, The View, Larry King Live, and many more. Smith recently launched Ageless with Kathy Smith, a new age-fighting DVD workout line with award-winning producer Acacia. The first workout, Staying Strong, was released in May 2011, with Total Body Turnaround coming out nationwide in November 2011.
Kathy has teamed up with Pivotal 5, the industry trendsetter in hand held fitness, to successfully launch two lines of products. In 2009, Kathy Smith partnered with Rejuvenation Prevention + Rehabilitation™ to create a line of seven products targeting the "Actively Ageless". These products pioneered the category of fitness over forty targeting key areas of interest including toning and firming to balance and mobility. Each item comes complete with DVD featuring Kathy Smith's uniquely designed workouts targeting total body fitness and overall wellness.
In 2010, Smith helped develop the Kathy Smith Healthy Living brand exclusively for Ross Dress for Less® stores. This exclusive brand promotes the active living across all fitness levels with the Healthy Living System to guide customers to the correct equipment based on their fitness goals.
The Signs & Symptoms of Anemia in Teens
Iron-deficiency anemia is the number one nutritional deficiency in the United States. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to anemia due to several physical and social factors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 75 percent of teenage girls don't get enough iron in their diet, compared to only 17 percent of teenage boys. The effects of iron deficiency range from mild to severe. However, even mild anemia can leave a teenager feeling weak and tired.
Iron-deficiency anemia is a deficiency of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The most common form of anemia in teens is iron-deficiency anemia.
When a body does not get enough iron, hemoglobin production is reduced, which in turn reduces the supply of oxygen to the body, which in turn makes people pale, weak and tired.
The CDC recommends that teen boys between the ages of 14 to18 years get 8 mg of iron a day. Teen girls ages 14 to18 years should get 15 mg a day.
Another type of anemia is aplastic anemia. This a rare and very serious disorder in which the body does not produce enough blood cells. This article will focus on iron-deficiency anemia.
Iron supplies deplete slowly and anemia symptoms are not always obvious. A simple blood test to check hemoglobin levels is the best way to determine if a teen is anemic. Still, there are some physical signs parents may notice.
One of the most obvious signs of anemia is facial coloring. Anemic teens are pale and sometimes have dark circles under their eyes. Anemic teens are also weak and tired and may complain of dizziness. Increased irritability is also symptomatic of anemia. Anemia may cause a rapid heartbeat or a swollen tongue.
Physical Risk Factors
Courtesy: D. O'Malley
Physical and lifestyle factors put teens at risk of iron-deficiency anemia. The teen years are the growth spurt years. Increased iron intake is needed to feed the body's demand for increased red blood cell production.
Teen girls lose iron through menstruation. Teens with heavy periods are at greater risk for anemia.
Endurance sports and intense physical training puts teen athletes at risk. Again, red blood production can't keep up with the increased need to feed oxygen to working tissue and muscles.
Dietary Risk Factors
Fast food temptations, hectic schedules and negative body image all contribute to iron deficiency in teens.
School, sports and social schedules preclude ingestion of three well-balanced meals a day. Iron-rich foods such as meat and green leafy vegetables are overlooked as teens grab fries, chips or candy for a quick hunger fix.
Frequent dieting is an anemia risk. Obviously, teens with eating disorders are at greatest risk of anemia and other health issues.
Teens choosing a vegan, vegetarian or other meatless diet don't get the iron benefits of red meat, poultry and fish.
Courtesy: D. O'Malley
Natural iron intake through an iron-rich diet is the best way to stave off anemia. Iron-rich foods include red meats, fish, poultry, egg yolks and dried beans. Green leafy vegetables are a good source for iron. These include spinach, asparagus, broccoli, kale, collard greens and mustard greens.
Certain foods are fortified with iron. The foods most commonly fortified include bread, cereal, pasta, rice, oatmeal and grits.
Once anemic, diet alone may not be enough to bring iron levels back into the normal range. Physicians often prescribe supplements to boost iron levels. The CDC recommends anemic teens take 60 mg of elemental iron once or twice a day.
Most iron supplements can be purchased without a prescription but there are different forms of iron: ferrous and ferric. Talk with a physician to determine what form will work best for the teen in question. Also, be aware that iron supplements may have unpleasant side effects, such as constipation and stomach upset.
Teen Weight Loss Secrets
Successful teen dieters reveal their weight loss strategies
By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
With over 12.5 million of our nation’s children overweight, we need to find creative ways to encourage young people to adopt healthy habits. But it's hard enough to get adults to take responsibility for their weight and health. How do you inspire kids who are also dealing with the tumultuous nature of being a teen to succeed at weight loss?
Overweight teens bear a heavy burden. They must cope with the teasing, social isolation, verbal abuse, and emotional torture that often result from being overweight, as well as their own negative self-images.
Wes Gilbert, son of registered dietitian Anne Fletcher and one of the teens who is profiled in Fletcher’s book Weight Loss Confidential, describes his anxiety and guilt about being overweight.
"I worried about whether clothes made me look fat, what others thought of me, and especially when old friends gave me the look when they noticed how much weight I’d put on," he says. When Wes finally lost weight, he says, "a huge metaphorical burden was lifted."
"Kids who are overweight have a quality of life similar to kids with chronic diseases like cancer," says Kerri Boutelle, PhD, LP, an adolescence and obesity expert at the University of Minnesota.
At her STAR (Service for At-Risk Teens) Clinic, she finds that overweight kids tend to have, or are at risk for, depression, poor self-image, and social isolation. They are also perceived as lazy and less attractive than normal-weight teens.
Teen Weight Loss Woes
For Fletcher, her desire to help her overweight son became a passion for finding solutions to help overweight teens. She interviewed 104 kids to learn what life was like when they were overweight, and what helped them lose the weight and keep it off. The results were published in Weight Loss Confidential: How Teens Lose Weight and Keep it Off and What They Wish Parents Knew.
"Their stories broke my heart. Being overweight affected their popularity, self-esteem, ability to get dates -- everything that is important to a teenager," says Fletcher, who also wrote the Thin for Life series on weight control in adults.
One of the teenage girls in the book described boys groping her as if it were acceptable because she was overweight.
"The pain and suffering of being an overweight teen was what finally led most of these teens to embrace serious weight loss," says Fletcher.
How Parents Can Help Teens With Weight Loss
Teens cannot succeed at weight loss alone. They need supportive parents who create healthy home environments -- and who serve as good role models. When parents succeed at losing weight, their children are more likely to succeed as well. But when a teen has overweight parents, it's often very difficult for that teen to lose weight.
"The hardest part about helping kids lose weight is resistant parents who don’t want to change their own behavior," says Boutelle.
Experts agree that it's a bad idea for parents to nag or say things like, 'Haven’t you had enough?'" to their overweight teens. Instead, let your children know you are there for them and willing to help -- then back off and let them decide when they're ready.
"Parents need to give their kids some space without feeling like they are giving up on them," says Gilbert. "When parents are overbearing, their suggestions backfire, and the teen misses out on the important motivation that comes from making decisions for yourself."
Experts advise talking to them about the pros and cons of being overweight. But use examples they can relate to. For example, talk about the impact their excess weight will have in gym class, not on their health.
"They could care less about health or what is going to happen in 10 years," says Boutelle. "They live in the present."
Teens should also be involved in the process, Fletcher says.
"Ask them to help decide which snacks and foods should be on the grocery list and which ones should we eliminate for the entire family, not just the overweight teen," says Fletcher.
One of the best things you can do for overweight teens is to help them feel good about themselves, experts say. And one way to do this is to help them cultivate their assets and strengths.
"If you can help your child feel good about herself, it will empower her and help her resist the torment," says Fletcher.
And a teen who feels empowered is more likely to tackle a weight issue.
Exercise for Teen Weight Loss
Model behaviors are not limited to the kitchen.
"Active parents usually breed active kids, so if you want your kids to become more physical, lead the way," says Boutelle.
She also suggests turning off the television and limiting computer time. Parents may want to reconsider allowing teens to have TVs in their bedrooms.
"Studies show that kids who spend hours in front of screens are more sedentary, and to make it worse, there is a strong tendency to be snacking mindlessly while sitting," says Boutelle.
Keeping It Off
For virtually all the teens profiled in Weight Loss Confidential, regular exercise has become a way of life.
"Exercise, a healthy diet, and changing behaviors is what is going to make a difference and help kids lose weight and keep it off," says Boutelle.
Fletcher asked teens what helped them resist falling back into bad habits.
"The overwhelming response: These kids did not want to return to the painful days when they were overweight." She adds, "The kids are also happier, more self-confident, enjoying an improved quality of life, and feeling better in general."
Fletcher’s son, Wes, agrees. "I'm simply happier in a lot of ways. I have less anxiety about my appearance, my weight is no longer ever-present in the back of my mind, I feel healthier, have more energy, and have learned to enjoy many new kinds of foods," he says.
Teen Weight Loss Wisdom
Boutelle says that successful behaviors for teenage weight loss include:
Eating more fruits and vegetables
Eating more whole grains
Eating more low-fat dairy and lean meats
Eating less fat
Drinking less soda
Exercising regularly
Getting on the scale weekly
For their part, parents can stock the house with healthy foods -- including some treats. They can also enjoy nutritious foods and engage in regular physical activity together with their teens. But while serving as good role models, parents should still allow teens to make their own choices. To succeed, teens need to take responsibility for what they eat and how often they exercise.
Parents may need some additional guidance to help overweight teens get to the stage where they are ready to lose weight. Health care professionals can provide suggestions that teens will listen to, as well as support for both parents and teens.
Does the Diet Drug Clenbuterol Really Work?
Sure, if you’re partial to hay.
by Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed., for MSN Health & Fitness
Q: I’ve heard that celebrities in Hollywood are taking a new weight-loss drug called clenbuterol that literally melts away fat. Is it safe? How can I get it?
A: Whoa! Before you start popping pills, take a moment to learn more about the substance that you might put into your body.
Clenbuterol is a drug for horses. It was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 1991, because although the drug was found to help add extra weight and muscle in show animals, cases were reported of adverse reactions in people who had consumed the clenbuterol-tainted meat. The people exhibited impaired heart and lung function.
In 1998, the FDA then approved clenbuterol's use in horses suffering with lung obstruction. The clincher? Any horse that received the drug could not later be slaughtered for food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA still monitor illegal use of the substance in animals. Product labeling for clenbuterol very clearly states: “For use in horses not intended for food.”
Still, if you surf though various body-building Web sites, you’ll find an array of editorials promoting the drug for its lean-muscle-mass benefits, along with advice on how to use it. Many of these sites imply that the drug is safe. Some claim that it is used as asthma (but not weight loss) medication in other countries, however, FDA documents don’t appear to mention this.
In fact, the FDA has banned clenbuterol for all off-label use. So, unless you’re a horse with bum lungs, this drug is illegal. The International Olympic Committee has also banned it.
But some bodybuilders who promote the drug poo poo health concerns. Apparently, if you’re seeking out perfectly sculpted muscles, almost anything goes.
Yet, in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control reported 26 cases of people who were hospitalized for cardiovascular side effects, such as a racing heart beat and palpitations, nausea and chest pain, after reportedly taking heroin. Since heroin depresses the nervous system, these reactions were atypical. Further testing showed that the patients all had clenbuterol in their urine, suggesting that the heroin may have been laced with the stuff. Clenbuterol is considered a poison by the FDA.
Although everyone wants to find an easy way to fat loss, there just isn’t one. Or, that is, there isn’t one that doesn’t come packaged with nasty, or even deadly, side effects. Even for the FDA-approved weight-loss drugs (sibutramine, an appetite suppressant; or orlistat, a fat blocker) to be prescribed, a person must be officially obese, with a body mass index over 30, or a BMI of 27 or above if they have associated risk factors such as insulin resistance or high blood pressure. The National Institutes of Health guidelines suggest that the side effects of even these approved drugs are serious enough that one should take them only after all potential risks have been considered and behavioral options (read: diet and exercise) have been exhausted.
Diet drugs are always prescribed in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise. And long term, these drugs produce only minor weight loss. They’re considered successful if 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight is kept off for a year or more.
So, avoid being seduced by quick fixes that may not work as well as one might hope—and that may be dangerous. Instead, learn how to integrate more side-effect-free nutritious foods and regular exercise for the rest of your life.
Clenbuterol Diet
Have you heard about the new Hollywood diet and bodybuilder's little helper? Clenbuterol, a medication drug in the category of anabolic steroids, is the latest dieting trend in Hollywood. It is amazing how far some of us (especially celebrities and movie stars) will go in order to lose weight and appear thinner. The individuals who are using this hazardous diet pharmaceutical drug which his only approved in the USA for animal use (horses with respiratory issues) risk serious health injury as the numerous scientific sources suggest the harmful side effects of the drug on humans. Yet, Clenbuterol has been used by athletes, sportsman, professional bodybuilders (and other fitness amateurs bodybuilding individuals), fitness enthusiasts,
The FDA is concerned ( that the illicit use of the medication might lead to significant health side effects or serous illness or even death in individuals that are consuming the drug. The FDA claims that it is possible that even a small Clenbuterol dose might cause a strong effect on the cardio vascular system and that in fact it might be more risk for people who inhale it if compared with the case when the drug is ingested in food.
In terms of how the drug physiologically acts, it’s noted that the action Clenbuterol dose (Clenbuterol Hydrochloride - Spiropent) is best compared to the illegal drug called ephedrine as well as currently legal replacement mahuang. All these drugs function mainly by increasing the production and secretion of catabolic hormones /widely known as cathecholamines - similar to dopamine, epinephrine (aka adrenaline) and norepinephrine (aka nor-adrenaline/ which are produced and leaked from the adrenal region. Finally, in the nutshell, the hormones listed above, have a wide spectrum of functions. Primarily, they seem to change the contractile characteristics of smooth muscle tissue, but this is done very specifically. In summary, some will apparently be stimulated, while the others will be inhibited. Out of those inhibited, the smooth muscle in the bronchial tree region, which explains its soothing effect in patients with breathing and lung problems. It’s important to note that the drug increases thermogenesis. This usually includes a steep increase in blood pressure, which is in fact the stimulatory effect of the heart muscle and a resulting rise in body temperature. It’s also important to note, that Clenbuterol dosage (taken in pills of i.e. Clenbuterol mcg - 10 - 20 mcg tablets), has a strong anticatabolic effect. This means that it decreases the rate at which protein is reduced and decreased in the cells that build muscles. This in the end is causing an enlargement of muscle cells which is a frequent reason why people are using the drug.
The social pressure to be thin is rising and it appears that almost everyone in Hollywood is trying to bee thin. A number of tabloid magazines keep a weekly tally of weight loss and gain and the pressure that mounts on celebrities rises.
Enter Clenbuterol! There are stories coming out of Hollywood that some celebrities are using this medication to become thin very quickly.
The bottom line is that the social pressure is claiming its victims again and that the public needs to know more about this.
Hollywood's dirty diet secrets
By Ashley Pearson
Sunday, March 23rd 2008
Nowadays, it's hard to find much body fat in Hollywood. Today's stars are slim and toned, whittled to within an inch of their lives.
When pressed about their slimming secrets, celebrities often rave about their "good genes," their affection for junk food, or just declare that their secret to staying thin is running around after their children. But here's what you should know: A lot of them are lying.
Celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, who has trained Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez and Penelope Cruz, says: "I had one actress training with me four times a week in addition to daily exercise-bike classes."
When asked how she'd "transformed" her body, her reply was, " 'Oh, I do yoga and hike with my dog,' " he said. "It makes me laugh," said Peterson. So the next time you see a pin-thin celebrity brag about her relaxed approach to eating, remember this:
They Take Drugs
When Lindsay Lohan was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, police said they found cocaine in her pocket. Paris Hilton recently admitted to talk host Larry King that she takes Adderall for attention-deficit disorder. Both drugs are often used by women looking to lose weight. Hollywood's party girls always seem to have access to certain drugs known to help shed pounds.
At the moment, Adderall is the latest diet-drug craze in Hollywood. The number of celebrities addicted to it continues to rise. Female celebrities recently arrested - from Paris to Nicole Richie, from Lindsay to Britney Spears - all reportedly have used prescription Adderall. It keeps you awake while killing the appetite.
For the jet-setting, hard-partying girl, it has become the miracle pill - but one with potentially dangerous consequences. Even when taken as instructed, Adderall can cause psychotic episodes, depression and serious heart problems.
Eating-disorder expert Carolyn Costin, who has treated many Hollywood actresses, says she has even seen a rise in "the drugs used for attention deficit being crumpled up and snorted."
Some celebrities also take Clenbuterol, known as Clen. Commonly prescribed to treat respiratory problems in horses, in humans it can cause fat loss.
While Clenbuterol and Adderall create a slimming effect in the short term, after a while users may have sudden and uncontrollable weight gain.
After disrupting a person's natural metabolism, the drugs sometimes stop working.
Manhattan-based trainer Justin Gelband, who works with catwalk and catalogue models, says: "Diet pills and steroids are huge right now. After Kate Moss was caught supposedly doing coke, the modeling agencies started to crack down on girls using hard-core drugs like cocaine and heroin to stay slim.
"So now it's more diet pills and steroids. They are easier to hide and, if pressed, the girls can say that they have a prescription."
They Only Eat Boiled Eggs
During the filming of "Cold Mountain," there were rumors that one famous actress on set ate only boiled eggs. She would rise in the morning and eat one and then have one or two at the end of the day.
That was her entire diet. And apparently she is not alone.
Celebrity trainer David Kirsch says, "I had a client who was getting ready for the Oscars and all she ate was one meal a day - of two boiled eggs! I was able to persuade her to add some almonds and a protein shake and some vitamin supplements.
"It's a self-defeating strategy," says Kirsch. "You need to eat enough, particularly protein, to build lean and toned muscle in the first place."
They Fast
Paris Hilton caused a stir when she walked into New York restaurant Nobu recently. When a waiter asked the heiress for her order, he was quietly told: "Mineral water." In fact, over the course of her two-hour "meal," Paris took sips of water and Red Bull - she didn't eat a single bite.
And she's not alone. Superslim "Desperate Housewives" star Marcia Cross was spotted dining at a restaurant a few years back with her current husband, Tom Mahoney.
According to one eyewitness, "he ordered sea bass and prawns, but she just sipped fruit juice." Cross recently acknowledged the pressure to be thin: "Not eating is a constant struggle. It's like they pay me not to eat. It's a living hell."
Another tactic is the "master cleanse," also called the "lemonade diet": water mixed with maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.
Beyoncé admitted following this regimen for two weeks to drop 20 pounds for the film "Dreamgirls." Jared Leto used it to shed about 30 pounds he gained to play Mark Chapman in the new film "Chapter 27."
Gunnar Peterson calls this the "You're an idiot" diet.
"I had a client who did it and I thought he was ill," says Peterson.
"His skin was gray and his eyes had terrible dark circles under them. He was shuffling when he walked, and this was after only 10 days!"
Another of Hollywood's dirty little secrets is the "IV diet," in which celebrities check in to the hospital to get put on an IV so they can avoid eating altogether.
Peterson calls this strategy "beyond ridiculous. If you're doing this, you're not fat. You're crazy!"
Suzanne Peck, director of programs at Homefield Grange Retreat, a spa in the U.K. that relies on juice fasting, says, "Fasting is designed to rest the digestion, allowing clarity of thought, cleansing of toxins and healing of the body in general. It's not to fit into a size-zero dress."
They Abuse Laxative Teas
Britney Spears has never been shy about her love for junk food. She engages in all kinds of behavior to counter a taste for Taco Bell.
She smokes, drinks coffee and Red Bull, has diet pills in her bag and takes Adderall.
She also has been seen hitting all-night drugstores, shopping for laxatives.
And she is certainly not alone. Today, many actresses take laxatives in the form of "dieter's tea," which has a mild laxative effect. Some starlets drink up to 10 cups a day.
Trainer Gelband says: "The latest trend among models is mixing laxative tea with the Master Cleanse diet. All they drink is Master Cleanse and laxative tea."
They Chain-Smoke
"Grey's Anatomy" star Katherine Heigl looks to have lost 10-15 pounds in the last year. She may be following a healthy eating plan, but she appears to have a secret weapon - she smokes constantly.
A few days ago, the beautiful blond was spotted having lunch in Los Angeles. She ordered a salad and spent the meal chain-smoking.
Heigl is rarely photographed without a cigarette in her mouth, and when not smoking, she has a pack at the ready.
Marc David, a nutritional psychologist and author of "The Slow Down Diet," says: "It's a choice, really. You are choosing possible lung cancer and death over treating your body with respect, all in an effort to be slim."
They Eat Peanuts
Supermodel trainer Gelband says, "I had one girl who was living on Diet Coke and peanuts. She drank three to five Diet Cokes a day and ate a big bag of nuts. If she got hungry, she smoked. Her eyes had huge bags under them and she looked wasted. When we tried to work out, we had to stop every five minutes. It was awful."
They Guzzle Caffeine
Paparazzi shots regularly show Hollywood's skinniest actresses, like Renee Zellweger and Mary-Kate Olsen, sporting giant sunglasses and clinging to gigantic cups of coffee.
It's a trend in Hollywood, where many believe coffee not only speeds up metabolism but also keeps them from eating.
"One client I had would eat almost nothing all day. She just drank coffee constantly," says trainer-to-the-stars Peterson. "She'd have some lettuce in the afternoon and drink coffee instead of having dinner. Working out was a waste of time because of the state she was in."
Marc David says "coffee and caffeine can actually make you fat. If you're drinking too much, the caffeine mimics the stress response in our bodies and your cortisol and insulin levels rise. These elevated levels of stress hormone signal the body to store fat."
They Wear a Patch
Peterson says, "I had one guy using a Nicorette patch, not to quit smoking, but to stop food cravings! This is a ridiculous approach and definitely won't work."
They Live at the Gym
Who can forget those photographs of a skeletal Teri Hatcher jogging through Hollywood with weights in both hands and bones protruding through her skin? Actress Kate Hudson, in a quest to shed the 70 pounds she gained while pregnant with son Ryder, admitted to working out up to three hours daily for three months.
To prepare for her role as the sexy Daisy Duke, Jessica Simpson worked out two hours a day, six days a week.
Justin Gelband says, "You can get addicted. Unless you're a professional athlete, you don't need to do more than 11/2 hours a day to get a great result."
Amber Kenain, general manager at Crunch gym in Hollywood, a celebrity favorite, told Glamour magazine: "There's one singer-actress who works out at my gym for about five hours a day, even on weekends. She spent her birthday here."
Peterson notes that "to be fair, a lot of the top women are doing the right things: eating healthy and exercising, but not obsessively. It's the upand-comers who I see going to crazy extremes."
He adds: "Forget trying to look like a celebrity - look at you. The reality is, the girl that's 10 pounds over-weight but loves her body is winning against the girl who is underweight but hates herself.
"There's no straight guy in the world who knows the difference between a size 14 and a size 4."
Ashley Pearson/ © Daily Mail
Beauty and the Beastly Regimen
It's not only the struggle to stay thin that has celebrities going to extreme lengths to look good. They have some freaky formulas for smooth skin and luscious locks as well.
Vanessa Williams confessed last week to at least attempting to use her own bodily fluid as a zit zapper.
"The weirdest thing I ever heard was to take your morning urine and to put it on your acne," she told Radar magazine. "And I did it - I tried to do it, and I was like, 'I'm not doing this!' "
And that's not even the most repulsive regimen. Here are some other bizarre celebrity beauty secrets.
Fishy Fix
Taking care of twins is tiresome. Jennifer Lopez is reportedly reviving her beauty with fish eggs.
A spokeswoman for Elizabeth Grant's Caviar Rejuvenating Eye Pads ($55) told Life & Style magazine that the company sent some to J.Lo after the babies were born, and that she loved them so much that she asked for more.
Foreskin Face cream
Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters are reversing the effects of aging with the help of baby boys - and their foreskin. Reports say the talk-show hosts are fans of a face cream made with the expendable epidermis, made by a company called SkinMedica. Their TNS Recovery Complex costs $141.55 a bottle. Chump change for Oprah.
After-birth Antidote
The uterine lining that's normally discarded postdelivery is in demand by Eva Longoria Parker.
In Touch magazine reports that the "Desperate Housewives" actress uses EMK Placental Face Cream ($85). The cream claims to improve skin texture and reduce fine lines, sun damage and other signs of aging.
Hemorrhoid Cream Cure
Sandra Bullock confessed to using hemorrhoid ointment during the filming of "Miss Congeniality" to the smooth out the lines around her eyes. Using butt cream on your face doesn't seem like the most congenial cure. - Gina Salamone
Diet Overkill: 25 Of the Most Ridiculous (and Ineffective) Popular Diets
Published on Tuesday February 26th , 2008
Some people will do anything to lose weight, even if it means defying common sense, nutrition, or even their doctor. But just because your best friend's cousin lost 20 pounds by drinking hot-peppered lemonade doesn't mean you should do the same. These 25 diets are not only ridiculous, they're ineffective and even dangerous.
Atkins: Although wildly popular, and quite effective for some people, the Atkins diet is just not sustainable for most dieters. This diet cuts out healthy foods like fruit, and adopts a limited list of foods that are often high in fat and otherwise unhealthy. Above all, this diet's extreme restriction makes it incredibly difficult for most people to stick with it.
The Subway diet: Substituting large, unhealthy meals with a wholesome sandwich is certainly an effective way to lose weight. However, the execution of the Subway diet is what makes this one a failure. This may come as a surprise to some, but not every sandwich at Subway is a dietary winner. You can't eat 14 meatball subs a week and expect to see pounds come off. For this diet to succeed, you'd have to eat very specific items from Subway's menu and keep up a strict regimen of exercise. This diet is useless because it's just as easy to make your own sandwich and take a walk.
Cabbage soup diet: Also known as the "Russian peasant diet," the "Sacred Heart diet," and "TJ miracle soup diet," this diet consists of eating a low-calorie cabbage soup for 7 days. It's generally claimed to cause weight loss of 10 pounds within a week, although most experts believe that sort of weight loss is not possible. Most of the weight lost on this diet is water, so it's not permanent. It's also problematic because of a high sodium content, extremely low protein, feelings of weakeness, and increased flatulence.
The tapeworm diet: Almost too disgusting to detail, this diet involves swallowing cysts that you've dissected out of beef carcass. The plan is to allow the tapeworm to live in you for up to 10 weeks, and then take prescribed medication to kill it. It should go without saying that this is perhaps one of the most dangerous diets you can adopt. It not only requires you to ingest a parasite, it encourages unhealthy eating habits, which are almost guaranteed to make you gain every pound back once the worm is gone.
The cereal diet: Like the Subway diet, the cereal diet is silly because it requires you to buy a specific food substitute, and eat it on a regular basis. This diet isn't effective because of the high quality nutrition cereal offers-cereal is generally full of sugar-but rather because you're required to measure the amount of food you're eating. No matter what your diet, monitoring and carefully measuring food to restrict calories will make you lose weight. You don't need a special cereal to do so.
The low fat diet: Nearly everyone has purchased a low or no fat product because we believe that somehow it's healthier and will help keep the pounds off. But the dirty trick about the low fat diet is that these products aren't healthier at all-often, you trade fat for more sugar, sodium, or calories. Sometimes, serving sizes are skewed to make an otherwise unhealthy food look better than before.
Hallelujah diet: Reverend George M. Malkmus was diagnosed with colon cancer, and instead of getting treatment, he changed his diet to "the original diet God gave mankind." Although the diet consists mainly of good staples like fruits and vegetables, you can't just eat produce you'd pick up at the store. No, this diet requires that you mail-order direct from the Reverend's farm because the general American food supply is devoid of nutrients. Ironically, this diet has been found to cause nutrient deficiencies, and due to its high-fiber and beta carotine content, is less than ideal for cancer patients.
South Beach Diet: Although it's created and promoted by a cardiologist, the South Beach diet is less than ideal. This diet takes you through phases of high restriction and lower restriction, constantly keeping your body on a roller coaster of losing and maintaining weight. Once you begin to regain pounds, you go back to the more restricted phase. Yo-yo diets such as this one are not only ineffective, they're dangerous to your heart and overall health.
Slim Fast: Again, another product-based diet that offers little more than ineffective substitution. In the short term, you will probably see weight loss, but Slim Fast's shakes and bars are not mentally or physically satisfying enough for the diet to be sustained, especially when you consider that there are healthier, cheaper, and tastier alternatives out there.
The chocolate diet: As studies have come out promoting chocolate as a supplement to a healthy diet, the chocolate diet has come out as well. This diet focuses on decreased calorie consumption with liquid chocolate diet shakes. It acts as a vitamin replacement, and although effective in the short term, has not been found to stimulate metabolism or burn fat, as the diet claims. Rather, any weight lost is a direct effect of decreased caloric intake.
The Fiengold diet: Dr. Benjamin Feingold created a diet free of chemicals believed to cause ADD and ADHD. This included not only food, but also certain drugs and hygiene items. Although this diet is not physically harmful, and can be helpful in some instances, it's generally not wise to adopt this regimen. Critics warn against teaching children that food can dictate performance and behavior, and depriving them of appropriate professional help from health care providers.
The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About: This diet gives the tapeworm a run for its money. Why? The weight loss "cure" consists of nothing more than ingesting the urine of pregnant women. Whether this is effective or not really doesn't matter-there is absolutely, positively, a better way to lose weight than injecting yourself with pee.
The blood type diet: This confusing diet requires that you eat according to your blood type. For example, if you're a blood Type A, that means vegetables are your ideal food. The main reason why this diet works at all is because-you guessed it-you're limiting what you eat. Of course, this can be achieved through portion control, and you can eat what you feel like whether you're a "hunter," "nomad," "cultivator," or any combination thereof.
The Hollywood diet: It should be obvious that drinking nothing but juice is bound to leave you hungry and unsatisfied, but many continue to attempt to use this quick-fix detox program as a way to permanently lose weight. Unfortunately, that's just not going to happen. This juice has a high sugar content, and nearly all of the weight you'll lose is water, which will come right back.
The Grapefruit diet: This horrible diet is simply unsustainable, offering little nutrition calories, or taste. Even worse, excessive consumption of this acidic citrus fruit could lead to a stomach ulcer. Additionally, grapefruit juice is dangerous when mixed with some medications.
Russian Air Force diet: With this diet, you can put a number of herbs, sauces, and spices on your food, but you'll have a hard time finding a place for all of those extras to land, considering breakfast is coffee, lunch is two eggs and a tomato, and dinner is salad and tiny portion of meat. This simple caloric restriction is just not sustainable, leaving dieters hovering near starvation, and it has a high sodium content.
The master cleanse: Also known as the lemon water detox diet, this concoction can't even really be called a diet because you're not eating anything. With the master cleanse, you'll subsist on lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Incredibly temporary, any weight loss resulting from this detox will come back almost immediately.
The macrobiotic diet: This diet consists primarily of grains, vegetables, and beans, specifically avoiding processed and refined foods. It also requires thorough chewing before swallowing to avoid overeating. Although this is overall good diet advice, the problem with the macrobiotic diet is that it's often presented as a "cure" for cancer, while many long-term macrobiotics have developed and died from cancer.
The Kimkins diet: This Atkins with a twist requires that dieters follow a strict caloric restriction, which as you must know by now, is nothing special. Additionally, this diet is wrapped up in scandal, as the creator claimed to have lost 198 pounds in 6 months, but later gained it all back, and tried to hide this fact from other dieters.
The magnetic diet: This diet follows the concept that all foods have magnetism that attracts either health or disease. It requires that you drink only water and eat specific foods with "invigorating magnetism," and follow an eating schedule that creates a caloric deficit. Despite all of the quackery surrounding the diet, it's actually a very simple method of eating nutritious foods like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, combined with portion control and exercise.
The hot dog diet: Also known as the three-day diet, this diet is ridiculous because it doesn't recommend that you eat healthy food-in fact, you'll eat ice cream as well. Instead, you'll eat carefully counted portions of food, resulting in the oh-so-familiar calorie restriction that so many ridiculous diets feature.
The apple cider vinegar diet: The apple cider vinegar diet succeeds only in making dieters not want to eat at all, mostly because you're just not likely to be hungry after downing straight vinegar. You drink a few teaspoons of vinegar, which is supposed to supress your appetite. The secret is not that apple cider vinegar is particularly helpful for weight loss, but because reducing portions and exercising are.
Dr. Siegal’s cookie diet: The cookie diet from a doctor is a lot less appealing than it sounds. Like Subway, Slim Fast, and other weight loss fads, this diet requires that you eat specific foods that must be purchased separate from a regular diet. These cookies are high protein, but there's really nothing special about the diet except that it's extremely low in calories. What's more, you're likely to get very tired of eating cookies day in and day out.
Wu-Yi Tea diet: Although it's presented as a natural cure endorsed by Oprah and Rachel Ray, that couldn't be farther from the truth about Wu-Yi tea. There's absolutely nothing special about this particular tea. It's just oolong tea, and it offers no more benefits than the tea you can pick up at your grocery or health store.
The Martha's Vineyard diet: Just like the Hollywood diet, this detox requires that you drink nothing but juice for a specific period of time. Again, this will only help you lose weight in the short term, and you'll gain every pound back once you realize there's more to life than drinking vegetable juice all day.
Walk Off Weight
Can you really lose weight just by walking?
by Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed., for MSN Health & Fitness
Q. I need to lose about 30 pounds and walking is the only activity that I can stick with. How many calories can I burn and can I really lose weight just by walking?
A. Walking is an easy way to burn extra calories to lose weight and decrease body fat. How many calories you burn depends on how hard and fast you walk, as well as how much you weigh. It is impossible to say exactly how many calories you’ll burn in 30-minute walk without your being measured in an exercise physiology lab. But you can get a good estimate by looking at Web sites that calculate energy expenditure based on weight.
For example, MSN Health & Fitness has a Web calculator that tells you roughly how many calories you’ll burn during different activities. During a 30-minute walk, say, a 140-pound person burns around 127 calories walking at a pace of 4 miles per hour (or a 15-minute mile) and about 191 hiking on trails. A 200-pound person will burn around 182 calories walking for 30 minutes at 4 miles per hour, and about 273 hiking for the same period.
Research shows that a person needs to burn around 2,000 to 3,000 calories from physical activity every week to control body weight. That works out to be about 60 to 90 minutes per day. Shorter amounts, such as 30 minutes of walking, will improve your health, but are unlikely to lead to significant decreases in body fat or weight loss in a relatively short period of time.
If 60 to 90 minutes a day sounds like a lot of exercise, it is. But you can spread it out: little 15-minute bouts of walking throughout your day count, too. If you are regularly active and take the stairs instead of the escalator or pick a farther spot in the parking lot, for example, you can easily accumulate an hour of more of low- to moderate-intensity activity. Of course, if most of your activity involves sitting on a couch or in front of your computer, unless you are making a concerted effort to get up and move every hour, it may be hard to fit in a full 90 minutes per day.
Theoretically, 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of fat. So if you walk around 60 minutes per day, you can lose 30 pounds in about seven months. You can speed up the weight loss by making small calorie reductions in your diet (for example, saying “no” to regular desserts or using skim instead of whole milk).
If you are not yet fit enough to do a lot of exercise, take it one step at a time. Start with 10-minute sessions and add a few minutes per week.
Most important, wrap your mind around the idea that you need to be active for the rest of your life. Walking may melt off the weight you want to lose now, but if you stop moving once that extra heft’s gone, it’ll soon be back. Plus remember that every time you make your body move, you’re burning more fat and fine-tuning from the inside.