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Showing posts with label Dieting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dieting. Show all posts

5 Slimming Foods for a High Protein Diet

Guest Post by Henry V.

Eating healthy foods can greatly help in losing weight painlessly. Sometimes it is just a no-brainer when it comes to picking foods that you just know are good for you. Check out the foods below and get to know the evidence.

Many people use to hold misconception with the foods and weight loss. They often starve themselves and rush to lose weight quickly. But, this is the injustice and the mistake you commit to the body.

Our body needs to be fueled up with the nutritious food items to stay healthy and fit. So, eating sufficient food and consuming certain nutrients is not only essential for the better functioning of the body but also it promotes weight loss.

In the same way, protein is one of the most beneficial nutrients in the body. It is used for repairing muscle tissue and many of the other tissues in our body that suffer wear and tear.

How can Protein help you to lose weight?

Incorporating protein-rich food items to the diet eliminates the hunger pangs and makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. When you are satiated, there are little chances that you crave for the junk foods and intake unnecessary calories.

Protein gives energy to the body, that ultimately helps in burning calories and growing muscles. This is the reason why protein supplements are consumed by the people going the gym.

Now that we have learned the benefits of protein in losing weight, let us check 5 protein-rich foods that would be helpful for being into toned shape.

Eggs

1 or 2 eggs a day would add a good amount of protein to your diet. Apart from the protein, eggs are a good source of vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin A, iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.

This is the main reason behind the title awarded to the eggs as the healthiest food.

Legumes and Beans

Consuming legumes and beans are considered to be the best substitute to that of lean chicken. This is the main reason, why these foods are considered to be the richest source of protein for the vegetarians.

A half cup of cooked beans serves 7-10 grams of protein. Therefore, beans are considered as the superfood. Apart from being high in proteins, it has several other benefits that keep brain, heart, muscles and intestines healthy.

Pan Fried Lake Trout
Fish

Be it lean chicken, salmon, turkey, cod or tuna; they are the richest source of proteins. Every 100 grams of these food items contains approx. 40-55% of the protein which is quite more. This is not it! They are a prominent source of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, and iron. Moreover, it has capability make you satisfied for protracted.

For obvious reasons you should try to avoid deep fried fish covered in batter, and also avoid fish that has a high mercury content. Lake fish (freshwater trout/salmon/catfish/crab/etc) is generally safer than oceanic fish (halibut/tuna/saltwater bass/shark/etc) when it comes to mercury content.

Low-fat Dairy (Milk, Yogurt)

Yes, your favorite food items are healthy in order to maintain a fit body.

A glass of low-fat milk a day feeds sufficient amount of protein that has fewest calories and highest amount of calcium in it. Whereas the appropriate proportion of cheese and cottage cheese would fuse additional protein to the body. (Avoid cheeses that have higher fat / higher salt content.)

Consuming 4 ounces of Greek yogurt feeds 6 grams of protein and brings in oodles of nutrients and healthy bacteria. It improves the digestion process. For added flavour / nutrition toss some berries in with the yogurt too.

Whey protein powder is technically made from milk whey, so it also falls into this category. Whey is a byproduct of making cheese. In its powder form it is usually used by bodybuilders, weightlifters and athletes - but their goals are not to lose weight, it is to bulk up in muscle. As such whey protein powder is handy if that is a person's goal, but if they want to slim down they would probably be better off avoiding the whey powder completely. Thus please use a dose of discretion.

Healthy Nuts

Almonds, cashews, and pistachios are considered to be some of the healthiest nuts as they are lowest in calories. Additionally, it contains 40% of the protein among all other nutrients. Dietary fibers, magnesium, and calcium in it, proves to be the companion nutrients that helps to maintain a flat belly.

In terms of protein content almonds, pistachios and cashews also have the highest protein content (in that order). Almonds have 21 grams of protein per 100 grams, whereas pistachios have 20, and cashews 18 grams respectively.

If you don't enjoy almonds, cashews, and pistachios, not to worry. Many other nuts are also pretty healthy to eat too, even though they will have slightly higher calories.

Conclusions

As everything in excess can be harmful, it is necessary to intake sufficient quantity of protein. If taken in the correct proportion with vegetables/fruits, then it would definitely promote the weight loss and help you in keeping your body in toned shape.

Considering above slimming foods that are high in protein won't bring any side effects. This is because they are natural sources of protein.

Ultimate tricks to getting a slim thigh - Achieving that perfect thigh gap

You must have gazed at women wearing tiny shorts, seeing their legs perfectly slender and slim and wishing that they were yours! Or you must have walked down the roads and hated the fact that your thighs rubbed against each other. Since then, you must have been trying your best to get slimmer and get rid of those huge thighs. You must have been doing your best to get those sexy legs which you always wanted. Well, accepting the leg challenge is something that most women fail to figure out. There are too many experts who are asked the question about how to get that ultimate thigh gap. Here are few must-follow steps for you to reduce thigh fat and get that much-coveted thigh gap.

Step #1: Lower your calorie intake

Getting a gap between your thighs mean losing weight and losing weight means counting your calories. You have to know the exact amount of calories which your body needs during daytime and how much exactly you should be eating in order to lose weight. After all, it is impossible to lose weight when you don’t know what exactly you’re eating. You can try an online calculator for calculating calories to determine how many calories you should be eating every day.

Step #2: Cut down on carbohydrates

One of the best ways in which you can slim major parts of your body is by cutting down the carbs which you consume. Try following a diet which cuts down most of the high carb foods like bread and replace the carbs with animal protein like meat. So, whenever you crave for bread, eat protein. As soon as you stop having carbs, your body will start using the fat to convert into energy and this way you will start burning fat.

Step #3: Lots of small meals have to be taken

If you wish to lose enough weight, you have to make your metabolism rate work for you. When you change your eating habits from 2-3 meals to several meals spread throughout the entire day, this will make your metabolism work in your favor. This way, your metabolism will continue burning calories even when you’re taking rest. In all ways, you get messed up when you eat big meals.

Step #4: Cardio, cardio and lots of cardio!

In case you wish to slim down your thighs badly, cardio is perhaps the greatest ways of doing it. High intensity cardio will burn the excess fat in your body and also tone your leg muscles. However, don’t forget to take into account your body type. If you’re a Mesomorph, you already have muscular legs and hence you don’t need to focus on growing your legs further. Go for power walks, spinning classes, jumping rope, running and aerobic exercises as they are extremely good options.

Therefore, if you’re still not intrigued enough with the steps given above, you can click to see more. Follow the right diet and carry on with the best cardio workout to get that sexy gap in between your thighs.

The Grace Diet

Your goal in the Grace Diet is to diet gracefully.

But what does that mean?

It is essentially a slow gentle diet, one that anyone can do, and does not require huge amounts of willpower or crash dieting - just a small amount of willpower can get the job done, and a large dose of graceful patience. It involves slowly cutting back and/or avoiding foods you know are bad for you and embracing foods that are healthier, but going through this whole process slowly.

The principle of the diet is similar to the tradition of giving up something for Lent (the Sunday after Ash Wednesday). Except instead of giving up 1 thing per year, you are instead giving up / avoiding one thing per month, with cumulative results over a 12 month or longer period.

To start make a list of 12 foods you consume regularly that you know are unhealthy for you.

Example of 12 Foods to Avoid
  1. Soda Pop drinks
  2. Potato Chips
  3. Beer and/or Sugary Alcohol
  4. High Calorie White Bread
  5. Sugary Cookies
  6. Desserts in General (except on special occasions)
  7. Sugary/Salty Snacks
  8. Fatty Meat
  9. Coffee with Sugar/Cream
  10. Greasy hamburgers or greasy food in general
  11. Syrup on your pancakes
  12. Milk chocolate (high in sugar) / sugary chocolate bars
Then each month cut out one of those foods and start avoiding it. Simultaneously you substitute the food you are avoiding with something healthier.

For best results you should try to focus on foods that are high in calories, and replace that with a food that is lower in calories.

The Substitutions

For example lets say you drink a lot of Coca-Cola. One month you dump the Coca-Col and from then onward you only drink ice water (or Coke Zero, which has zero calories). Then each month you repeat the process, dumping one unhealthy food and substituting something that is healthier. This process over time slowly weans you off your addiction to sugary, salty and high calorie foods.

Examples of 12 Substitutions
  1. Ice Water instead of Soda Pop drinks
  2. Popcorn instead of Potato Chips
  3. Low Carb Beer instead of Beer and/or Sugary Alcohol
  4. Low Calorie Whole Wheat Bread instead of High Calorie White Bread
  5. Oatmeal Cookies instead of Sugary Cookies
  6. Fruits instead of Desserts in General (except on special occasions)
  7. Savoury Snacks instead of Sugary/Salty Snacks
  8. Lean Meat instead of Fatty Meat
  9. Tea or Black Coffee instead of Coffee with Sugar/Cream
  10. Healthy Non-Greasy Hamburgers/instead of Greasy hamburgers or greasy food in general
  11. Berries instead of Syrup on your pancakes
  12. Dark Chocolate instead of Milk chocolate (high in sugar) / sugary chocolate bars
 So why does the Grace Diet work?

Well for starters it is really easy to find the willpower to cut out 1 non-healthy food per month and gradually change your diet slowly over time. This makes the whole process easy. It is so easy you will probably never find a book on this diet either, because once you understand how the diet works, having a book about it is truly unnecessary.

Secondly, it is not a crash diet where you go from consuming all your usual foods to struggling to figure out what you are even allowed to eat / starving yourself and suffering from hunger pains / cravings. Instead the Grace Diet is a slow gradual process which allows you to wean yourself off the foods you need to avoid.

This whole replacement process requires you to make an effort to deliberately replace one food with another which is healthier, but fortunately this is comparatively easy because you are only replacing 1 food at a time - baby steps, one step at a time. That wee bit of willpower is all you really need to stick to.

The replacement food is important too; the diet isn't going to work if you get rid of Fatty Meat and you are not replacing it with Lean Meat, for example. If you skip finding a substitute then you could end up binging on something else that is equally bad or worse for you. You have to replace it with a healthier substitute that fulfills the craving.

Each time you switch foods you also need to avoid any temptations to binge on a food. Your goal essentially is to feel like you are eating normally. Thus binging on something you know is bad for you is definitely a no no.

Customization of the Grace Diet

For example lets say your doctor wants you to avoid salty foods. So you could customize this diet by avoiding 12 foods you know to be high in salt.

Or depending on how dire your situation is, 52 foods. Getting rid of 1 food per week, starting with the biggest sources of salt, and replacing it with a food your doctor would approve of.

Example Variations on the Grace Diet
  • The Beach Body Grace Diet - a faster version designed to get you ready for bikini season.
  • The Low Fat Grace Diet
  • The Low Sodium Grace Diet
  • The Low Sugar Grace Diet

Find a New Hobby

While doing all of this it is also recommended that you take up a new hobby. Whether it be painting, going for walks, doing nature photography, or trying a new sport. The goal of the new hobby is to take your mind off food cravings. Ideally try to find a hobby you can dive into and obsess over.

Eg. You could develop an obsession for the sport of archery.

Your choice of hobby is a matter of personal preference, and what you choose to do is less important than whether or not it does its job of causing you to forget about food cravings. Thus your new obsession should be something enjoyable. If your goal is weight loss, try to pick a hobby that involves cardio exercise.

End Goal of the Grace Diet

Keep getting rid of unhealthy foods until you reach your desired weight. So if you lose 50 lbs and go from 220 to 170, that is a good amount and you should be proud. If that is your desired weight then all you have to do afterwards is maintain your weight by continuing to eat what you now eat normally. You have achieved a balanced diet.

If you continue to lose weight later on, this might be due to you exercising more and/or a a faster metabolism.

If continued weight loss becomes a problem you can then re-add foods, similar to Reverse Dieting, until your weight stabilizes. So if you had given up bacon at an early stage of your Grace Diet, you can now re-add bacon to help stabilize your desired weight.

Please bear in mind muscle mass and bone density can also cause your weight to fluctuate. If you are weightlifting regularly then your muscle mass and bone density will go up, increasing your weight in the process. Such fluctuations are normal. Don't become discouraged if you see minor weight fluctuations up and down.

The South Beach Diet and Four Other Fad Diets

Below is a list of Fad Diets, starting with the South Beach Diet - for which I keep seeing these annoying commercials for on cable TV.

#1.  Prepackaged Meal Plans

The South Beach Diet is a popular fad diet developed by Arthur Agatston and promoted in his 2003 book. These days the South Beach Diet has also expanded to the business of selling meals, just like Jenny Craig / Nutrisystem.

Like many meal-selling diets they sell the consumer / dieter prepackaged meals typically composed of lean protein, lots of vegetables and full grains.

In theory, the diets do work on the principle that the person only consumes the prepackaged food that is sold to them from the company - and cuts the total number of calories a person is eating while still providing all the nutrition an individual needs.

And the food is shipped to you via FedEx - at which point you have to ask, how good is the food if it is sent via a courier and not stored in a freezer en route???

$460 + shipping for four weeks of food - when people could just go buy healthy food at the grocery store for less and take cooking classes on how to make healthy food.

Price Comparisons

Jenny Craig - $15 Monthly fee + $25 Enrollment fee + the cost of food. Cost of food is $420 to $644 for 4 weeks. So it can be slightly less or possibly more than the South Beach Diet.

Nutrisystem - $275 to $577 for 4 weeks, depending upon promo deals and the menu chosen.

Conclusion - All these companies really want to do is sell you food for an outrageous price. What they really should all be doing is selling their food in grocery stores like other food manufacturers, but at a more reasonable price. That way everyone has the option to buy their food items, and at a reasonable price.

#2. Calorie Watching Point System

Weight Watchers has a number of similarities to Jenny Craig, but they don't actually sell you food. Instead they rely on meetings and hanging out with other people who are also going through the Weight Watchers program, and it involves a Point System for how much food you are allowed to eat.

Each day a dieter gets X number of points and they spend those points eating whatever they want, but they only have so many points to spend. Unhealthy foods cost more points. Healthier foods cost less points. Sounds easy, right?

Weight Watchers - $35 Signup fee + weekly fees of $3.45 to $8.67 per week, depending on whether you do online or in-person meetings.

So the meetings work a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous, except it is focused on people who have problems controlling their eating habits. Using the Point System, participants limit their daily intake of calories and use the online support system / meetings to gain positive reinforcement so that gain the mental courage and determination to stick with the diet.

Conclusion - The support system is really what the person is paying for. In theory people could get a lot of the same support from Weight Loss Facebook groups, Meetup Groups for people into dieting/exercising, and similar websites / organizations that operate for free and non-profit.

#3. The Glycemic Index Diet

In the G.I. Diet foods are assigned numbers according to their glycemic index (GI). The higher the GI number, the greater the blood-sugar response. Promoters of the diet claim that low GI foods, such as lentils, can help control your appetite because they're digested and absorbed more slowly - however there is a lack of research on this topic and no real proof that their a connection between lower glycemic levels in food and appetite suppression.

Part of the theory behind this diet is that some low GI foods are nutrient rich, high in fibre and contain unrefined sugars - however that isn't true for all foods. Some low GI foods are still really unhealthy for you. For example French Fries has a lower GI than a baked potato, but that doesn't mean they are good for you.

Conclusion - In theory this diet works some of the time, but it needs to be taken with a mental grain of salt and the wisdom to say no to foods a person knows to be unhealthy, which means it really comes down to moderation and willpower to make this diet successful.

#4. The Zero Carbs or Low Carbs Diet

Various low carb and zero carb diets include notables likes The Atkins Diet, however they all follow the same principle of pointing the blame at carbohydrates - which are frankly in almost everything. If it has carbon and water in the food, then it contains carbs.

It is basically just another way of steering people away from calories, as foods that contain lots of carbs tend to be high in calories - such as bread, pasta and rice.

Similar diets like the Paleo Diet (aka, the Caveman Diet) follows the principle of only eating foods that a caveman would eat, such as vegetables, berries, fruits and meat. Nothing processed and nothing baked (so no bread).

And then there is the Raw Food Diet - which takes the Paleo Diet one step further, but also cuts only a lot of meat that would normally be cooked. So instead a person is reduced to only eating any fruit or vegetable (and possibly raw sushi) that is uncooked and heated no more than 48 degrees Celsius.

However all three of these diets say it is okay to eat avocados - a very fatty fruit - and various other foods that are not healthy either.

The principle of all three diets, Atkins, Paleo and Raw Food is to steer people away from high carb foods like bread, pasta, rice, etc. However the body still needs carbs for energy. You cannot get rid of them completely, plus carbs expand in your belly and make a person "feel full", which in turn reduces a person's appetite.

Conclusion - So eating carbs is technically okay, but it comes back to the moderation and willpower issue again. People can potentially get weight loss success with these diets, but they have to do it smart and the question then becomes, what now after they lose the weight?

#5. Reverse Dieting

Okay, so technically this is not a Fad Diet. I snuck this one in year because almost no one ever does this. Reverse Dieting is what you SHOULD be doing after you successfully lose weight.

You have lost the weight already, but how do you keep it off instead of yo-yo-ing back to your previous weight?

That is where Reverse Dieting comes in, and sadly almost nobody does this - which is why many people end up regaining weight and seeing weight fluctuations over the course of years.

Your goal during Reverse Dieting is to stabilize your eating habits and your weight so that they become a constant. This process takes months to achieve.

After completing a diet a person typically returns to older eating habits, but their stomach is still roughly the same size as it used to be. Unless they somehow lost weight slowly and gradually, their stomach is probably still the same size. They need to continue eating lesser amounts of food until their stomach shrinks down to a size that matches their new body.

One way to do this is to count calories and incrementally increase the amount of food a person eats only their body-weight stabilizes.

Example

If a person was eating 1400 calories per day and losing 1 lb of fat per week and then they reach their desired weight. Their old diet was 2500 to 2800 calories per day, which was clearly way too much. If they just went back to their old diet, they would end up regaining the weight in a hurry.

Instead, knowing how much they were consuming during the diet they should now incrementally increase their diet until their weight stabilizes, such as increases it to 1500 calories per day for 1 month and keeping a record of their weight fluctuations during that month.

At the end of the month they see that they have still lost a few pounds of fat, which means they need to incrementally increase their diet again, this time to 1600 calories per day.

The goal then is to keep doing this each month until their weight stops fluctuating and remains a constant.

Once the constant has been reached a person should keep track of their calories for 6 months or more so that their stomach and eating habits permanently adjust to their new diet. Thus their diet becomes complete.

Conclusion - A key component of Reverse Dieting is maintenance and vigilance. All other diets are basically useless unless a person also learns how to keep the weight off and maintain their ideal weight.

The No Added Sugar and No Alcohol Diet

Part of the problem is that sugar / alcohol are commonplace.
A few days ago I came across a video from Denmark about a Danish guy in his 20s who went on a No Added Sugar and No Alcohol Diet for 30 days. You can see the video at the bottom.

Please note that the diet doesn't mean cutting out sugar entirely. It just means "no added sugar".

eg. Ketchup has a lot of added sugar. Corn syrup is basically pure sugar, so anything with added sugar, glucose or fructose should be avoided. The sugars naturally found inside whole grains, fruits and veggies, perfectly normal to have.

Initially I thought it would be an interesting experiment to do - to see how much difference it would make, and compare it to my previous 30 Days as a Vegetarian. However the realities of the diet and my busy lifestyle later convinced me that now was not the time to be doing such an experiment. From Spring to Autumn I have a fairly busy schedule and am heading to work, working, coming home from work, going to social events, attending social events, coming home from social events, plus all the other menial tasks. You know, like sleeping, cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.

Cutting out alcohol completely is a doable task. And perhaps I will do that eventually - just as soon as we run out of leftover wine from my wedding in 2016. We have started giving bottles away...

But the No Added Sugar part is really tricky.
  • It means no buying anything from Tim Hortons/etc on the way to work.
  • It means no buying a burger or pizza on the way to social events.
  • It means no bread - because it is basically impossible to find sugarless bread unless you bake it yourself.
  • It means I will need to make and pack lunches all the time, because any food purchased in restaurants likely has at least some added sugar. (Even a salad will have sugar in the salad dressing.)
  • It means very careful grocery shopping.
  • It means extra time requirements for food preparation both for food at home and food packed for lunches.
And right now with a pregnant wife in the house, if I value my life and my marriage, now is not the time to be experimenting with the menu.

So instead I have adopted a different approach. I am working on my cooking skills instead, as fatherhood is in my future and I should brush up on my skills. A diet that isn't practical for me right now doesn't really make sense.

But what about other people who have more spare time to try out this diet?

The Danish guy in the video looks like he is already pretty athletic and probably already eats reasonably healthy food. He even has abs. So it seems like an unfair test in some ways.

I am very curious about how the diet would help someone who isn't in their 20s and already fit.  I want to see how this diet would work on someone who is in their 40s or 50s, and is overweight due to eating comparatively unhealthy foods.

That to me would be the true "acid test" to see how well this diet really works.

The No Added Sugar / No Alcohol Diet has been compared to various detox diets - the kind that follow the logic that if you aren't eating certain foods over a longer time period that your body will detoxify itself from various toxins in your system.

However your body already does this, primarily through your liver. What an useful organ the liver is. The problem really is when people get too many toxins in their system and their liver cannot handle it all. Hence liver cancer and similar ailments.

Still, less sugar in the body is still healthier regardless. The trick here is that our bodies can make its own sugar. We don't actually need to eat sugar to live. Our body can make sugar itself.

Can you guess which of our body parts makes sugar?

Scroll below the video to see which one it is!




The Liver!

What an amazing organ.

In addition to filtering out toxins like alcohol, the liver both stores and produces sugar. The liver acts as the body's glucose (or fuel) reservoir, and helps to keep your circulating blood sugar levels and other body fuels steady and constant. The liver both stores and manufactures glucose depending upon the body's need.

So really the above diet should be called The Healthy Liver Diet, as that is clearly what it is designed to do.

I would be curious to see what the diet would do to help people who are the early stages of liver disease. Help it, certainly. But by how much? Is it a viable treatment or just part of a range of things a person should be doing when they are in the early stages?

A low sugar diet is still a good thing obviously. As is cutting out alcohol, but sometimes people have to make personal health choices that are practical and make sense for YOU, not just because the latest fad diet says so.

Tips to Lose Weight at Work

TIPS TO LOSE WEIGHT AT WORK

By Beth Martel

Losing weight is hard work, particularly when you have a full time job you are trying to handle. If you truly want to shed those extra pounds, you are going to have to put a significant amount of time and effort into it, and in today’s crazy world of unexpected overtime and unprecedented employer demands, most people simply don’t have any time to set aside for a work out, nor do they have the energy it takes to follow a strict, healthy diet.

However, there are a lot of ways you can lose weight while you are at work without affecting your productivity in any way! Let’s start with how you can exercise a little at work to boost your fitness levels.

See 12 Things to do during your Lunch Hour
Office Exercises

Most of your work day is spent sitting at your desk, and this sedentary lifestyle is what leads to weight gain. However, there are a bunch of exercises you can do without even getting up from your workspace. Side to side stretched and torso rotations are a great example, as both can be done while seated and are great at burning off belly fat.

You can also do some seated leg raises by tucking your knees into your chest using the strength of your abs. This helps to tone your body and helps burn those pesky calories. If you want to exercise your arms you can use a stress ball throughout the day, and if you want something a little more intense you can use some light dumbbells during those inevitable five minute breaks you will often take.

See The Toronto Bicycle Trail Challenge
A Fitter Commute

There are a bunch of other things you can do outside of your desk. If you drive to work, consider getting a bicycle and using that instead. This will help you get some great exercise every morning! Even if you shift to public transport, this would often involve a lot more activity as you would have to walk to bus stops instead of just sitting in a car.

Taking the stairs is an underrated method of losing weight. Even if your office is on a high floor, you can take the stairs for a couple of floors and take the elevator the rest of the way.

See 100 Healthy Snacks
Your Work Diet

What you eat at work can also really impact your weight loss. Snacking is a great way to keep your energy levels up during the work day, but if you switch out the chips and candy for something wholesome like apple or celery with peanut butter you can end up avoiding a lot of unnecessary calories. Super foods like yogurt can help to boost your metabolism as well, and are a great source of energy so you would find your hunger satisfied.

Overall, losing weight at work can be easy as long as you are willing to make these little changes to you routine. You aren’t going to need to set any time aside at all if you just put a little effort into being active.

Author Biography

This post was written by Beth Martel. She is a mother of two, a medical professional and a humanitarian. She blogs at www.HealthyRecharge.com.

Check out a recent article by Beth Martel in which she discusses three of the best yet affordable running shoes that help you run with comfort and at your best by visiting www.healthyrecharge.com/affordable-running-shoes/.

12 Super Easy New Years Resolutions for your Health

Hey Toronto! Looking for 12 healthy New Years Resolutions which are actually easy to do that will be better for you over the long term? Here you go!

#1. Set yourself a goal of drinking 1 litre of water every day.

To accomplish this goal you will end up cutting back on sugary drinks, coffee, alcohol and other things you should probably not be drinking anyway. More water and less sugary drinks means you will be consuming less calories and lose weight over time from fat loss.

#2. Set a timer on your phone for times when you need to exercise.

Setting the timer is the easy part. Getting up and exercising every time the timer sounds is the tricky part. Try to schedule the timer to be a part of the day you set aside normally for relaxing, and then you won't have any excuses. So if you are watching TV when it goes off, use that time to watch TV and exercise simultaneously.

There are also a variety of free exercise apps you can choose from to provide you with some direction in what you are doing. When in doubt you could however just go for a walk (and take your camera or dog with you).

#3. Binge Watch TV while Exercising.

Okay so this is actually really fun. Pick a TV show that is 20 or 22 minutes long and then watch a whole bunch of episodes in one day. During the opening credits, end credits (or even commercial breaks) spend that time exercising. When the show resumes, relax and wait for the next credits to resume exercising.

So for example lets say you set yourself a goal of binge watching all 14 seasons of Dallas (the original series) and all 3 seasons of Dallas (the next generation), plus all the movies. (Personal Note - I actually did this years ago.) Then when the credits are rolling, you do exercises. My preference was weightlifting and jumping jacks, as those work well in the short time period, but you could also do yoga, squats and a variety of other exercises.

#4. Play Pokemon Go.

Remember those apps I mentioned above? Well Pokemon Go is basically one of those apps, but it is designed as a game for children. However just because it is for kids doesn't mean you cannot enjoy playing it anyway.

To play Pokemon Go all you need to do is walk. That is it. A whole lot of walking. And the way the game is designed you end up setting yourself goals like walking 2 km or 5 km or 10 km. Before you know it you are making a habit of walking 10 km or more per day. And walking is pretty easy, so you can't really complain about "Oh, this game is too hard. It is too much walking!" Nonsense. You walk as much as you feel motivated to walk, and the rewards in the game of catching Pokemon, visiting Pokestops, collecting medals, etc end up boosting your self esteem and you feel motivated to keep walking.

There are also other Augmented Reality (AR) games similar to Pokemon Go that also involve walking or even running.
  • Ingress - Walking around and looking for portals.
  • Life is Crime - Walk around and play in a virtual turf war.
  • Zombies, Run! - Run, don't walk because if you go too slow the zombies will get you.
  • Parallel Kingdom - Walk around and go on fantasy quests in this MMORPG.
  • The Walk - Walk until you beat the game (takes about 3 months of walking to beat it), while delivering virtual packages in quests with a storyline.
  • Zombies Everywhere - Instead of running away, you walk towards the zombies and shoot them virtually.
  • Geocaching - Walk around and look for Geocaches left by other people. Basically a treasure hunt.
  • Clandestine Anomaly - Walk around and defeat aliens who are invading the earth.
  • SpecTrek - Walk around and search for ghosts in this spectre hunting game.
Veggie Pita
#5. Eat More Vegetables.

This sounds like a fairly simple goal, but really you need to combine it with several things:
  • Knowing / learning how to cook or prepare vegetables.
  • Possibly taking a cooking class.
  • Remembering to buy vegetables more often at the grocery store.
However there is a very easy solution. Take the cooking class mentioned above. Or alternatively make a habit of watching cooking videos about veggies. The more you learn, the easier eating more vegetables suddenly becomes.

Thus what your New Years Resolution really should be is: Take a cooking class. Or watch more veggie cooking videos to learn simple recipes like how to make a veggie pita.

#6. Start Counting Calories.

This one is as easy as buying a notebook (or using scrap paper or a calorie counting app) to start counting how much you are consuming per day. The trick here is to start the process and then keep doing it for at least 20 days.

People who count calories during a diet are basically doubling their chances of succeeding at reaching their weight-loss goal.

Starting to do something is the first step at succeeding at something.

#7. Leave your Work AT Work. Stop bringing it home with you.

Bringing your work home with you all the time (and leaving your work phone on) only adds extra stress to your life. And stress is bad for your health, bad for your eating habits, bad for your sleep patterns, and it is largely unnecessary as work will always be there the next work day any way. So just leave it there and do it at work.

Otherwise you will just be working for free and not getting paid any extra. And ruining your health to try and get a promotion (which would only lead to more work and more stress) isn't really worth it either. You might desire that promotion, but you should be going after it at work - not while at home. At home you should be:
  • Spending time with friends and family.
  • Exercising.
  • Eating well.
  • Resting and sleeping.

#8. Take up a new Sport.

Getting involved in a new sport is relatively easy. Especially for those sports that don't require much in terms of equipment.

Maybe there is a sport you have always wanted to do (eg. archery) that you just haven't found time to do yet. Well now is your chance. Make that your New Years Resolution and go get involved in that sport (eg. if you are interest in archery, I recommend getting archery lessons).

And don't worry about your age/etc. It is never too late to learn a new sport.

#9. Look at what your friends are doing for exercise and then say to yourself "I want to do THAT!"

And then do it. Ask your friend for helping getting into that exercise activity (eg. yoga). Once you get the ball rolling, it will happen and it will be so easy having your friend to help you and guide your introduction to the new activity.

Anyone can do Yoga. It just takes patience.
#10. Look around your city for activities to do.

In the city of Toronto we have many pools, ice rinks, walking/hiking trails, cycling paths, basketball courts and many more things to choose from. Go for a walk in your neighbourhood and chances are likely there is something nearby you could get into that would make a good fun activity. Then make that your New Years Resolution, and do it. Sign up. Take part. Meet new people. Make friends. Keep doing it because you love it.

#11. Road Hockey.

This is an easy one for Canadians. Whether you practice alone with a tennis ball and hockey stick, or whether you make friends and meet other people who are also into road hockey, this is something worth doing.

And it isn't just for winter. You can literally play Road Hockey any time of the year. Nobody is stopping you from playing in the summer - possibly barefoot on the beach, or while on rollerblades. Just play.

Beach Hockey - A truly Canadian sport.
#12. Don't take life too seriously.

Back to the stress issue, remember you can always fix a mistake tomorrow. Making this your New Years Resolution means less stress for you. Life live, have fun, don't always fix your mistakes right away, learn to relax.

Looking for something harder to do for your New Years Resolutions? See my posts from previous years by clicking 12 New Years Resolutions.

Gardening - A Weight Loss Exercise Plan + Diet

Gardening can be a fascinating topic for some people - or really boring to anyone who has zero interest in plants. But if you are fascinated with the idea of growing your own food, I want to propose the following Exercise Plan / Diet.

The goal essentially is to grow your own food in your backyard. This will require lots of work (exercise), careful planning, time, cooking/baking skills, and a dose of determination.

I recommend planting the following, which I have listed in order of spectrum because I think it would be nice to have a garden that is ordered by colour:

Red Beats
Radishes
Tomatoes
Raspberries (Requires more space.)
Strawberries
Mini Red Potatoes (Smaller than regular potatoes, but tastier.)
Red Peppers
Carrots
Orange Peppers
Yellow Peppers (Because it is nice to have variety.)
Sweet Corn (Requires more space.)
Green Beans
Broccoli
Peas
Lettuce (There are many different kinds of lettuce, I recommend planting 3 different kinds so you have variety.)
Watermelons (Green on the outside, red on the inside.)
Herbs (There are likewise many different herbs, such as basil, parsley, cloves, dill, etc. They are commonly used as spices, not as a main dish.)
Cucumbers
Blueberries
Purple Cabbage
Purple Cauliflower
Eggplant
Garlic
Onions
Mushrooms

I recommend against planting anything huge like squash or pumpkins, because those plants take up a lot of space. So unless you have tonnes of space, you should focus on plants that produce more food for their smaller area. This is similar to the Sweet Corn above, which does take up more space, except that pumpkins and squash take up a LOT of space. Also don't expect to be growing any huge "prize winning pumpkins" on your first try. Most likely they will be quite small. (Also who wants to eat that much pumpkin???)

I also recommend against planting white or yellow potatoes, which contain a lot of starch and starch is fattening. I includes the Mini Red Potatoes above for variety and also because they taste better.

Baked mini red potatoes are also very tasty. Just bake on a pan, add some spices and yum!


Once you've got your garden growing your next step is to eat what you've grown. Some of that may require learning some new cooking / baking skills, but honestly the internet and youtube has lots of recipes for you to explore. Make a mistake? Oh well, you will know better next time.

The end goal is that you will be eating more healthy food that you've grown yourself - which often tastes better than anything found in a store.

All that exercise from tilling, planting, weeding, harvesting means you will have shed some pounds over the course of Spring to Autumn. Once you've harvested the food at various stages during the year you will reap the benefits of eating lots of healthy vegetables - whether they be the form of salads, stews, soups, berries with yogurt, on pizza, juicing, or whatever recipes you decide to cook up with them.

The end result is if you treat your garden as both an exercise plan and a diet plan, you are guaranteed to become a healthier weight / a healthier person in the process.

I also recommend weening yourself off sugary drinks and high sugar / high cholesterol snacks. Some foods are so addictive that people will get into a habit of eating them at a specific time every day and if they do not then they get cravings for sugary things at that time of day. (This happens to me every year when I visit my parents and my mother sends me home with bags full of cookies, squares, etc - and I end up developing a sugar craving during a particular hour of the day afterwards due to snacking on them that part of the day. Fortunately I eventually run out of them and the craving is forced to go into decline.)

There are three ways to ween yourself off addictive foods:

1. Eat less of them and stop buying them, you will eventually have to stop because you run out.

2. Go cold turkey, meaning cut yourself off from them completely. This is trickier because if they're in your cupboard / freezer you either have to ignore they are there or thrown them out. Option 1 suddenly looks more appealing, yes?

3. Eat berries. Berries have natural sugars in them, so they will fulfill your craving for sugar but you are switching your addiction from one food to a different food. Other foods that are also higher in sugar are: grapes, mangos, bananas, cherries, apples, pears, kiwis and pineapple. By replacing your addiction with something healthier this is a good way to ween yourself off sugary foods and make a gradual switch towards healthier options.


The Perfect Pregnancy Diet – Getting The Best Prenatal Nutrition

Okay, so the title here is a bit misleading.
There is no such thing as a ‘perfect pregnancy diet’. Every pregnancy is different, every mother has different nutritional needs in the first place, and every fetus will demand different things. However, there are a few rules of thumb which, if followed, can help you and your baby to get the very best start on your parenting journey!

Here’s what and what not to consume while you’re expecting.

DO EAT

Folate and Folic acid. Folate and folic acid are B vitamins which can help to prevent birth defects. Brain and spinal abnormalities in babies have been linked to maternal B vitamin deficiencies. Ideally, folic acid should be consumed if you’re trying to get pregnant, as well as during pregnancy. You’ll need about 800mcg each day during the conception period and during your pregnancy. Good sources of folate and folic acid include:
  • Cereal – some fortified cereals contain 100% of your recommended daily folate intake.
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Oranges
  • Peanuts
  • Multivitamins – But be sure that they’re made by a trusted supplier!
Calcium. Calcium is not only great for helping your baby’s bones to develop as they should. It also keeps your own circulatory, nervous, muscular and immune systems in great running order. You’ll want to get around 1000 mg of calcium a day during pregnancy, slightly more if you’re a younger mother. Good sources of calcium include:
  • Fortified cereals
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
If you’re lactose intolerant or simply don’t eat dairy products, don’t despair! You can also get plenty of calcium from the following non-dairy sources:
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Orange juice
  • Multivitamins or Calcium supplements
Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, which – as mentioned above – is great for helping your baby develop a nice, strong skeleton and good teeth. However, Vitamin D is also thought to have a role to play in our moods - people with a good amount of vitamin D tend to be happier, while people with a deficiency tend to feel depressed. Given that pregnancy can be a time of intense mood swings, anything which helps to balance your emotions has to be a bonus! Some scientists even believe that keeping your Vitamin D levels topped up can help reduce your risk of developing postpartum depression. Sources of vitamin D include:
  • Natural light – Vitamin D is most commonly absorbed through the skin in the form of sunlight. Thus you’re likely to absorb less Vitamin D in low light conditions (during the winter this sometimes leads to the "Winter Blues"), so it might be worth indulging in some of the following alternatives as well!
  • Salmon
  • Fortified juice
  • Fortified cereals
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Multivitamins
Protein. Protein is the substance by which our bodies and the bodies of our babies grow bodily tissue - not just muscle tissue. It’s particularly important during the second and third trimesters, when your baby’s body goes through a period of accelerated growth. You’ll want around 71 grams a day, from good, healthy sources (don’t max out on the protein shakes!). Here are a few ideas for getting your daily protein:
  • Peanut butter – healthy and delicious!
  • Cottage cheese
  • White meat – chicken breast is a great, healthy source of protein
  • Salmon
  • Lentils
  • Milk
  • Eggs
Iron. Iron will keep the blood which carries nutrients to your baby in great shape. It will also help your baby to develop a healthy heart, and give their circulatory system the best start it could possibly have. Low iron levels are also associated with feelings of sluggishness, low energy, irritability, and increased risk of infection. During pregnancy, your need for iron nearly doubles. Given that many of us are iron-deficient anyway without realizing it, it’s probably a good idea to pay considerable attention to the iron in your diet! Good sources of iron include:
  • Fortified cereals
  • Multivitamins
  • Kidney beans
  • Spinach
  • Lean red meat – lean beef is an excellent source of iron, but be careful not to be overenthusiastic with your red meat consumption! As we’ll explain in a moment, too much red meat during pregnancy can have unwanted side effects.
  • Dark turkey meat
DON’T EAT (OR DRINK!)

Soft And Mould-Ripened Cheeses. Sorry, soft-cheese addicts. Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Danish blue, Roquefort…they’re all out while you’re pregnant. Why? Because the delicious mould in these cheeses may contain a bacteria known as ‘Listeria’ which can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. No after-dinner indulgence is worth that. Hard cheeses aren’t so dangerous, as they have less bacteria-harboring water within them. If you really do love your soft cheeses, then it should be safe to eat them if you cook them first.

Raw Eggs. Raw eggs, and foods containing raw eggs (mayonnaise for example) can pass on salmonella. This has the potential of seriously harming your baby. Avoid – it’s just not worth the risk!

Pate. Even vegetable pates can contain the aforementioned listeria bacteria. With soft cheese and pate off the list, the list of things to smear on crackers during pregnancy is disappointingly short. It’s worth forgoing your spread-based indulgences for nine months, though, for the sake of a healthy baby.

Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a valuable and healthy vitamin – but too much of it during pregnancy can cause liver toxicity and birth defects. While you do need Vitamin A in order to help your baby develop properly, going out of your way to seek it out could become problematic. Carotenoid-containing veg like carrots, kale, and so on will give you all the Vitamin A you need (and don’t worry about overdoing it with these!) Sources of Vitamin A to avoid include:
  • Liver
  • Multivitamins with a high concentration of Vitamin A
  • The prescription drug Isotretinoin, or Accutane.
  • Anything containing Retinol
Oily Fish. Some types of oily fish such as shark, marlin, tuna and swordfish contain high levels of mercury, which can cause problems with your baby’s developing nervous system.

Caffeine. You don't have to cut out caffeine altogether, but do try to limit how much of it you consume. High maternal caffeine consumption has been linked to low birth weights, and a growing body of evidence is linking serious coffee habits with miscarriage in early pregnancy. 

Alcohol. We all know by now that drinking during pregnancy can damage your baby’s developing body, and leave them with serious deformities. The liver is one of the last organs to develop, so fetuses have no real way of processing alcohol. A baby exposed to too much alcohol in the womb may grow up with learning difficulties and cognitive abnormalities. It’s best all round to have a sober nine months.

Sugary Drinks, and Why You Should Read the Calories

Ah, sugary drinks. (And that kitten on the right is just plain adorable.)

We know they are bad for us but many of us keep drinking them any way.

My personal Achilles heel? Hot chocolate, either at home or from Tim Hortons.

So lets start with that, since I too am guilty of that pleasure.

3 tablespoons of Nestle Carnation Hot Chocolate "Milk Chocolate" mix has 120 calories in it. This is the amount that is recommended on the label for making one cup of cocoa.

Tim Hortons meanwhile has a calorie counter on their website... which is annoying slow and bothersome to use, but I managed to get it to work eventually.

1 medium Hot Chocolate at Tim Hortons contains 300 calories. Wow. The extra large, which is the size I normally get is 530 calories.

Wow. 530 calories. That is almost the same amount of calories you would find in 5 cups of Rice Krispies (550 calories). Slightly more than the equivalent of 10 apples (520 calories).

So yeah, that is a lot of calories for one measly drink.

And Tim Hortons is not alone. Starbucks, Timothy's, Second Cup, McDonalds and many other sources available here in Toronto all have lots of calories in 95% of their drinks. The rare few drinks that don't have whopping huge amounts of calories are things like:

Plain Water
Tea

What about juice you say? Oh, you mean the sweet juice that has sugar added so it tastes amazing? Yup, that stuff is chock full of calories too. Even the supposedly health conscience fruit juices available have large amounts of calories.

So what can you drink instead?

#1. Drink more water. Get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you.

#2. Drink more tea. Also something that you can store and carry with you.

#3. Try vegetable juices. Healthier for you and comparably lower in calories. Takes some getting used to however. I recommend watching the documentary film "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" which is about a man from Australia who becomes a professional juicer and goes on a road trip across the USA to talk about health issues.

Below is the extended trailer. Various websites online have the full documentary available. I have not checked recently, but it may also be available on Netflix.


The Health Benefits of Boiled Water

Yesterday I wrote a post title The Health Benefits of Green Tea, during which I mentioned there are also health benefits to drinking boiled water.

So here we are, lets discuss this!

1. Kills Bacteria in the Water

Local drinking water isn't always the safest, which is why drinking tea is so popular in many ancient cultures where the drinking water was considered unsafe. By boiling the water first, it kills 99.99% of the bacteria - making the water healthier to drink. The remaining 0.01% that may survive will be killed off by stomach acid or killed by your body's immune response.

2. Purifies the Water

Many contaminates are easily removed by boiling water. The act of boiling breaks down the bonds water has with other chemicals, allowing them to separate and causing those chemicals to either evaporate or to drop to the bottom. This is why if you have water you know is contaminated then tiny particle debris will collect at the bottom after the water has been boiled. (However we should note that boiling water does not get rid of ALL contaminates, like lead. So you should still attempt to filter the water or have it tested for lead.)

3. Weight Loss

Drinking boiled water is great for maintaining a healthy metabolism, which is what you want if you’re trying to shed a few kilos. The best way to do this is to kick start your metabolism early in the morning with a glass of boiled water and lemon. As an added bonus, boiled water will help to break down the adipose tissue (aka body fat) in your body.

4. Assists with Nasal and Throat Congestion

Drinking boiled water is an excellent natural remedy for colds, coughs and a sore throat. It dissolves phlegm and also helps to remove it from your respiratory tract. As such, it can provide relief from a sore throat. It also helps in clearing nasal congestion.

5. Menstrual Cramps

Hot water can also aid in diminishing menstrual cramps. The heat of boiled water has a calming and soothing effect on the abdominal muscles, which eventually can help to cure cramps and spasms.

6. Body Detoxification

Hot water is fantastic for helping your body to detox. When you drink boiled water, your body temperature begins to rise, which results in sweat. You want this to happen because it helps to release toxins from your body and cleanse it properly. For optimal results, add a squeeze of lemon before drinking.


 7. Prevents Premature Aging

There’s a reason you should want to clear your body of toxins: they make you age faster. Also, drinking boiled water helps to repair the skin cells that increase the elasticity of your skin and are affected by harmful free radicals. Subsequently, your damaged skin becomes smoother.

8. Prevents Acne and Pimples

The benefits for your skin just keep on coming. Boiled water deep cleanses your body and eliminates the root causes of acne-related infections beneath the skin.

9. Hair Health and Vitality

Drinking boiled water is also good for obtaining soft, shiny hair. It energizes the nerve endings in your hair roots and makes them active. This is beneficial for getting back the natural vitality of your hair and keeping it healthy.

10. Promotes Hair Growth

Activating the roots of your hair has another added benefit—growth! The hot water promotes the regular activity of the roots and subsequently accelerates the growth of your hair. (Not such a big deal if you are a male Scotsman and prone to lots of facial hair anyway.)

11. Prevents Dandruff

Drinking boiled water keeps your scalp hydrated and helps fight against dry scalp or dandruff.

12. Enhances Blood Circulation and Promotes A Healthy Nervous System

Another important benefit of drinking boiled water is that it enhances your blood circulation, which is important for proper muscle and nerve activity. In addition, it keeps your nervous system healthy by breaking down the fat deposits around it.

13. Digestion

Drinking boiled water is particularly beneficial for digestion. Studies have shown that drinking cold water during or after a meal can harden the oil present in the consumed foods. This can create a fat deposit on the inner wall of your intestine, which can eventually result in intestinal cancer. However, if you replace the glass of cold water with hot, you can avoid this problem. In addition, hot water is beneficial to digestion, which is what you want after a meal.

14. Bowel Movements

Speaking of digestion, drinking boiled water can help to keep you regular, as well as make your bowel movements healthy and pain free. Dehydration can result in chronic problems with constipation. As the stool gets accumulated inside your intestine, the movement of the bowel becomes slower. It is always recommended that you consume a glassful of hot or warm water every morning when your stomach is empty. It decomposes any remnant foodstuffs and makes the movement of the particles smooth and less painful through the intestine.

15. Distills Safe Drinking Water after a Nuclear Attack

Okay, I admit I am adding this one because it is amusing / fascinating, but it could potentially be useful if Donald Trump becomes president. Haha!

Ideally what you want is commercially available water purification tablets, but that won't separate everything. The most reliable way is to distill and purify the water by boiling it at 100 °C.

When you boil water at exactly 100 °C in an effort to distill it, all of the water will boil and become steam, while contaminated impurities won't boil. The steam is then collected in the still, condensed back into water either a cooling fan or cold water surrounding the tubes, and then drips back down into a container.

A simple still can be constructed using plastic bottles, a tube and a heat source. The water doesn't actually need to be boiled in this case. It just has to be placed close enough to the heat source that the heat will slowly cause steam to rise up the tube and then fall into a 2nd container that is placed further away and insulated. The water should still be boiled to get rid of bacteria before drinking it however.

In a pinch someone could even use an old fashioned whiskey still, like the one pictured below.


 16. Cleaning Medical Instruments

 As a follow up to the above survival tip, boiling medical instruments in hot water is also an effective way of cleaning them.

17. Keep your Baby Healthier in the Womb

It is strongly recommended that pregnant women regularly drink boiled water. Consuming hot water (not scalding hot, just warm) keeps both mother and child hydrated, detoxified and energized. It reduces fatigue and infections while promoting healthier bowel movements, reduces the effects of morning sickness and heartburn.

Boiling the water before hand and letting it cool is a necessity for pregnant mothers. You cannot be drinking it too hot, but the good news is that boiling it first gets rid of unwanted bacteria and also contaminates which are unsafe for your baby. (Again, we should note that boiling water does not get rid of ALL contaminates, like lead. So you should still attempt to filter the water or have it tested for lead.)

The Health Benefits of Green Tea

I have been meaning to write a post on the health benefits of green tea for some time now, and have mentioned it many times in past posts, but never a post that focuses solely on green tea. Finally, here it is:

Green tea is one of those rare herbal products growing in consumer popularity mainly because scientific research has validated its health benefits. As a supplement it is being marketed towards prevention of cancer, although green tea has also been linked in research to benefits like preventing diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and other chronic diseases, along with no notable evidence of severe adverse risks even at fairly high dosages (1600 mg of green tea catechins or about 6 - 7 cups of tea per day), the impetus for consuming green tea and its healthful components is strong.

Green Tea's Popularity

Culturally, green tea has been around for many centuries and lauded for its health benefits. Whether it truly was a benefit and how much wasn't fully revealed until recent decades, when studies into the benefits of green tea made it possible to how much it truly benefits tea drinkers.

The tea leaf industry dominates, but there has also been growth in green tea supplements (pills) for those people too lazy to remember to drink a cup or two of green tea per day.

All this talk about green tea has made me thirsty. I am going to go put a kettle on.

And while that is brewing I am going to make a list of all the tea in my cabinet...

  1. Alpine Punch Tea (rooibos, coconut, apple, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, black pepper, rose blossoms, almonds).
  2. Blueberry Tea (blueberry, ginseng, gingko).
  3. Camomile Tea.
  4. Chai Black Tea.
  5. Cinnamon Tea, two different kinds.
  6. Earl Grey, Decaffeinated Tea.
  7. English Breakfast Tea, two different kinds.
  8. Green Tea, three different kinds.
  9. Ginger Tea (ginger, stevia, black tea).
  10. Honeybush Tea (honeybush, safflowers, sunflower petals).
  11. Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea (black tea, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel).
  12. Korean Barley Tea or 보리차 (toasted barley).
  13. Korean Plum Tea or 매실차 (plum, sugar, honey).
  14. Korean Ssanghwa Tea or 쌍화차 (ssanghwa powder with crushed almonds).
  15. Mekong Cinnamon Tea.
  16. Moroccan Mint Tea.
  17. Orange Pekoe Tea.
  18. Peppermint Tea.
  19. Traditional English Tea

Now some of those teas actually belong to my girlfriend (#3, #4, #7, #9, #16, #17, #18 + #19), but to be fair the lion's share of them (11 out of 19) are mine. Thus it would be logical to assume the following:

#1. I must really like tea.
#2. I apparently really like cinnamon tea (this is true).
#3. I really like Korean teas, likely due to my time spent living in South Korea.
#4. I still have 3 different kinds of green tea, although I must admit it is not my favourite.

And those are just the teas I was able to find in the cabinets on short notice. We might have other packages of tea hiding in tins hiding behind pancake mix or bags of rice in other cabinets. I could drink tea every day for a year and probably not run out.

Anyway, lets get back to the topic of green tea.

The Contents of Green Tea

Polyphenols, the major active components of green tea, is what is responsible for some of green tea's health benefits, whether are consumed as a tea or as a pill. However that is not the only active ingredient within green tea, so consuming a pill containing polyphenol doesn't necessarily give you all of the health benefits.

Green tea also contains the following compounds:
• Polyphenols: catechins, phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonols/antioxidants (kaempferol, quercetin, myricitin, and rutin)
• Xanthines: caffeine and caffeine-related stimulants (theobromine and theophylline)
• Vitamins: vitamin C and B vitamins
• Amino acids: L-theanine
• Microelements: aluminum, fluorides, manganese
• Essential oils
+ Boiled Water*** - Boiled water oddly enough has a long list of health benefits all by itself, but that is another topic for another day.

Green tea includes caffeine and caffeine-related stimulants, specific flavonols (which act as antioxidants), and the highly researched class of green tea catechins. Primary green tea catechins consist of epicatechin (EC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG, the most potent in this group, is responsible for most of green tea’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties - which is why green tea is so handy against preventing cancer.

So basically green tea has lots of vitamins in it, plus a host of anti-cancer ingredients, making it overall very useful for preventing cancer and promoting good health in general.

Risks of Green Tea

The U.S. FDA cites 400 mg as the safe threshold for daily caffeine consumption. Above 400 mg, health risks include gastrointestinal upset, muscle tremors, and palpitations. But to drink that much caffeine from green tea, you would need to drink the equivalent of 10 cups of coffee, or approx. 12 cups of green tea per day.

Tea leaves also tend to accumulate aluminum from soil, and chronic high aluminum exposure (more than 20 mg per day for a 150 lb. person) has been found to cause Alzheimer’s disease. However that is basically impossible to consume, as that would require drinking approx. 800 to 1200 cups of green tea per day. It should also be noted that many foods contain aluminum and that small doses of aluminum (approx. 0.1 mg per day) do have health benefits (increases immune response), whereas high doses (20 mg or more) of aluminum have health risks.

So basically the health risks of green tea are practically non existent, and could only result if someone was consuming ridiculous amounts every day beyond the normal amount.

Celebrity Health Diets: When to listen to celebrity advice

Do celebrities know what they are talking about when they recommend a health product or lifestyle?

Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to the Kardashians are trying to get you to buy into their particular brand of health product.

This in and of itself could be a good thing, in fact some of these products could be really helpful in getting you into shape.

But it may also be a bad thing because a recommendation from a celebrity may not be the most informed source of information about your health (better sources include your doctor or a scientist).

So let's look at some celebrity health products and lifestyles and follow some simple rules that will help us make the best decision.

If the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says it is not good, that might be a sign.

A health supplement and sexual enhancing drug has been endorsed by the football personalities Jimmy Johnson.

In a commercial, he says that the product works for him and with 1 billion pills sold it must work for the other men who purchased them (which is faulty logic because all we really know is that they purchased it not that it works for them; in fact for all we know a good proportion of the men that purchased the pills could be suffering from adverse health effects because of the pill [though this has not been proven]).

Despite the praise showered on the drug by Jimmy Johnson, the FDA has denounced the drug and issued a voluntary recall for it in 2011.

The spokesman at the FDA said that they have received reports of spiked products, poor regulation of what is put in the pill (including counterfeit and undeclared ingredients) and that it included ingredients that have been banned in the United States (including 1 that is known to cause heart disease.

If the celebrity is a little shady.

I am talking about those celebrities (and I use that word very loosely) that you are not so sure should be celebrities.  These include the reality stars or the 15 minutes of fame on Youtube variety.  These people essentially hit the lottery and have done nothing to deserve your attention.

A lot of the time these people want to extend their paydays and by extension their celebrity so they may endorse things that in the long run (or short run for that matter) are not the best choices for your health.  Snooki and The Situation from MTV's reality hit Jersey Shore are just some celebrities that have endorsed products that are meant to make you healthier but really there are  questions marks about the products efficacy.

Snooki endorsed a cookie diet, but even she has conceded that working out everyday is the best way to lose weight.

The Situation has endorsed a protein infused vodka drink that falls short in terms of it's weight losing abilities.

If it just sounds crazy.

Some diets are just a little too crazy for normal people.  If your job is to look good all day and you have the means to ensure you can maintain your lifestyle then have at it, but if you have a full time job, kids, friends and family or a restricted budget then this diet may not be for you.

Posh Spice otherwise known as Victoria Beckham swore by her 5 Hands diet in which she only ate 5 handfuls of food (which was only berries, nuts and grains) a day.  That sounds great for her, but if you need a lot of energy and you want to make it through the day this may not be the best thing for you.

Gwyneth Paltrow used to live by her organic and macrobiotic diet where she would only eat whole unprocessed foods.  This seemingly does not sound too extreme but when you think about it it has 2 major problems.

The first is money.  How in the world could a normal person with a family possibly maintain that kind of diet financially.  Organic foods way are more expensive that regular foods and could break the bank of us non-celebrities.

The second problem is nutrition. You will have to ban meat and dairy products from your diet. These foods provide important vitamins and nutrients that you will have to supplement in someway to ensure you stay healthy and without the proper guidance you could be putting your health in serious danger.  Ms. Paltrow herself has since relaxed her diet restrictions so even she has admitted that her diet may not be the best way to live your life.

Listen to yourself

The best way to tell if a celebrity diet or lifestyle is a good idea for you is to check with yourself.  Pay attention to what your body is saying to you.  If you feel pain, stop that particular exercise.  If you feel hungry or lightheaded, eat.  If you feel full, stop eating.  If you feel that a particular pill you are taking is making you ill, consult your physician.  Everyone is different and we all have different circumstances we are living in so make sure that whatever you are doing is right for you and makes you feel better.

30 Days as a Vegetarian - Day 30

Hello Toronto!

Today is my last day of 30 Days as a Vegetarian.

I admit it has been a fun experiment, but my conclusion is that I am not cut out to be a vegetarian. (I will be having bacon and eggs for breakfast tomorrow morning.)

I have lost some weight around my middle - although I do wonder if I could have lost more if it had not been that huge blip that was Valentines.

My weight as of this morning (my final weigh in was after breakfast) is 191.5 lbs. When I started this experiment I was 197.6, so I have lost slightly more than 6 lbs, which suggests I lost roughly 0.2 lbs day. Mathematically that is 700 calories per day that I was either taking in less food / burning calories through exercise. When you consider the average person should be eating 1800 to 2000 calories per day, 700 calories per day is a huge reduction.

Again, I probably would have lost more if it had not been that huge blip following Valentines. I would probably be around 189 or 190 if it had not been for that over-consumption of food on Valentines.

I am going to continue to eat healthy after this experiment, but meat will be back on the menu as an option. I hope that what I take from this experiment is that I will continue to eat healthier - more veggies and so forth - and I will have a greater appreciation of being an omnivore.

There will definitely be a lasting effect on my diet in the future. There will be lots more strawberry shakes (see photos below of the 3 step process it takes to make a strawberry shake) and I think I will go back to The Duke of Richmond sometime for that black bean veggie burger that was soooo good. I will also be making more veggie soups and stews in the future as I think I am addicted to those now. But it will be nice to have the option to throw in some leftover meat with the soup for added flavour.




Later tonight I am going to be having a veggie burger, veggie pizza and beer during a social event. But so far today I have had cereal and a salad. I will likely have some carrot sticks before I leave for the event in the evening.

This has been fun. I may or may not do something similar again in the future. Possibly 30 Days as a Pescetarian would be fun as I have determined being a vegetarian is not for me.

30 Days as a Vegetarian - Day 28

Only today, tomorrow and Friday left to go for my 30 Days as a Vegetarian.

The end is in sight! I can almost taste the bacon!

I am going to be so happy when this is over.

I do have some conclusions on what has happened thus far.

#1. It is not so much what I am eating - vegetarian food can be equally fattening if it is deep fried, high in carbs, high in sugar, etc. The biggest difference clearly is HOW MUCH I am eating - as clearly demonstrated with what happened on Valentines when I clearly overate and ate too much greasy food.

#2. I also saw larger differences on the days after large amounts of exercise. Clearly exercising does pay off in the waistline department, but the trick for people is to make exercising sustainable. If they lose interest they will stop doing it.

Note - See Day 14 of 30 Days as a Vegetarian to see my exercise routine.

#3. I think for me having exercises to do every day (including shoveling snow) helped with the weight loss more than the process of eating vegetarian. Exercising was by far the biggest factor for me.

#4. Binging on Valentines = Bad.

#5. Eating healthy and lots of exercise on the days following Valentines = Good. See why below...

Yesterday I had leftover veggie soup, potatoes, a veggie burger and caesar salad at Johnny Rockets (as usual for Tuesdays).

This morning before breakfast I weighed in at 192.3 lbs and my waist is 40.5 inches. So evidently the weight gain from overeating on Valentines turned out to be temporary and I have even lost 0.1 lbs in the last 6 days.
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