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The Mediterranean Diet: Healthy Dietary Advice from Across the Sea

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Healthy Diet Tips

The popularity of the Mediterranean Diet began with a rather simple equation:  the people of Greece and Southern Italy tended to eat a diet rich in fat, yet had less cardiovascular disease than people in the U.S.  How could this be?  The answer seems to lie in the Mediterranean’s reliance on the monosaturated fat known as olive oil.  Olive oil forms the basis of Mediterranean cooking—it is the key ingredient in preparing everything from pasta to steak.  Olive oil is also considered an antioxidant, so it can be effective in the fight against cancer.

However, following the Mediterranean Diet can be a challenge.  While 40 percent of one’s total calories are derived from fat, dieters can only eat small portions of red meat.  Even fish and poultry are de-emphasized, as are milk and milk products.  However, unlike other diets, the Mediterranean Diet allows you to eat a fair amount of bread and potatoes, and you can eat eggs as often as every other day.  You can even drink wine in moderate amounts.

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When Fast Weight Loss Becomes Unhealthy

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Healthy Diet Tips

You’ve made the decision to lose weight as quickly as possible.  You have your diet in place and you expect to follow it religiously.  At this point, you may be wondering how much weight you can lose in a given week and whether fast weight loss can be dangerous for your body.

There are a number of things that can affect your weight loss.  For instance, family history, or genetics, can play a significant role.  Also, your weight loss may depend upon how much exercise you’re engaging in, as well as how much stress you are under.  Your metabolism, or how quickly you burn calories, can also have a major effect.

Theoretically, you could lose as much as 20 pounds a week.  However, much of that weight could be water weight.  That means that, once you go off your diet, you are likely to gain much of that weight back.  Also, unless you engage in strength training, you will be losing muscle as well as fat, since about ¼ of the body’s weight consists of muscle.   It is interesting to note that, at most, you can probably lose four pounds of fat in a given week.

Nature has a way of protecting the body against excessive weight loss.  If, for instance, your calorie count suddenly drops, your body will compensate for the fact by reducing your metabolic rate.  As a result, you’ll need fewer calories to maintain your weight.  This explains why some people lose weight up to a point and then cannot lose any additional weight, no matter how hard they try.

If you lose weight quickly, there’s a good chance that your health will be jeopardized.  For instance, fast weight loss has been linked to the appearance of gall stones.  Also, you may experience loose skin as your weight goes into free fall.  Perhaps most distressing of all, if you experience rapid weight loss, there’s a good chance that you will gain the weight back again.  This is because it is very difficult to maintain a healthy diet regimen.  You may find yourself falling back into your bad eating habits after a period of deprivation.

Fast weight loss also places you at greater risk for an eating disorder.  You may be tempted to starve yourself, leading to anorexia.  Or, because your food cravings are so great, you may want to binge and purge, leading to a case of bulimia.  This is why it is so critically important to lose weight under a physician’s care.  Otherwise, you could be doing more harm to your body than good.

Although the body has the capability of shedding a great deal of weight over a period of time, most medical experts agree that one should not expect to lose more than one or two pounds a week in order to remain healthy.  This can be disappointing to a dieter, especially one that needs to lose about 50 pounds.  However, doctors believe that the go-slow approach is best for long-term weight loss.  Otherwise, you could end up with a number of health problems you weren’t anticipating.

There are a number of approaches you can use to lose weight.  For instance, you might follow the Atkins plan, the Zone, or the diabetic diet.  You might try Sugar Busters or the Carb Addict’s prescription for losing weight.  However, it is vitally important that you accompany your diet plan with an effective exercise routine.  One of the best exercises you can do, in fact, is the easiest—walking.  It has been said that you can lose as many as two pounds a week, just by walking alone.

As has been demonstrated here, rapid weight loss should be approached with caution.  It is far better to lose a few pounds each week and maintain that weight loss over the long term.  In essence, all good things take time, and that is particularly true when it comes to weight loss.  Perhaps the best advice is to be patient.  Follow a reasonable diet, get plenty of exercise, and drink a good amount of water.   That way, you should be able to slowly lose weight—without jeopardizing your health in the process.

If You Want to Lose Weight, Stay at Home

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Healthy Diet Tips

Some interesting new research indicates that you are better off staying home than eating in a restaurant, if you are trying to lose weight.  Given the fact that as many as two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and many people spend at least part of their day in restaurants, the findings are particularly troubling.

According to Dr. Caroline Cederquist, a physician specializing in weight management, in 1978, less than 20 percent of the calories Americans consumed were eaten outside the home.  As late as 2003, the number had climbed to 50 percent.   Cederquist says that restaurant food tends to be higher in calories because it relies so much on salt, sugar, and oil.  Also, restaurant portions tend to be larger, making it difficult to make healthy choices.  It has been estimated that restaurant servings tend to be three to four times greater than typical serving sizes.  Another problem is that restaurants often serve bread or rolls with a meal, which can cause dieters to pack on the pounds.

Restaurant appetizers tend to be extremely high in calories.  For instance, a basket of fried onions can pack a whopping 2,000 calories.  Now, while you might not devour the entire basket yourself, chances are you will have a good share of it if it is passed around the table.

A number of restaurants now offer free refills of soda.   Soda glasses also tend to be large, meaning that you are receiving greater servings of this sugary beverage.  Just the soda alone can put you far over your daily recommended allowance of calories for weight loss.

Another problem is that we have been conditioned to clean our plates.  With plate sizes growing in restaurants, this becomes a critical weight issue.  You may feel morally obligated to eat everything that’s placed in front of you—even if your weight and health will suffer as a result.

Once people become accustomed to large portions when eating out, they tend to increase their portion sizes at home as well.  As a result, dieters can be sabotaged both in restaurants and at home.  If you eat out more than once a week, toning down your portion sizes can be particular difficult.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to any dieter is the restaurant buffet.  There are so many different foods being offered, it is difficult to limit yourself.  Also, since you can go back to the buffet as many times as you want, you may be tempted to overindulge.  As a result, dieticians recommend either avoiding the restaurant buffet altogether, or limiting your second portions to fruits and vegetables.

Yet another problem is the type of entrees served in restaurants.  They tend to be rich in fat and calories.  Fettucini Alfredo, prime rib, and fried chicken can all cause you to gain weight.  A number of restaurants are now designating low-fat entrees on their menus, a trend which bodes well for the future.  However, this experiment is still limited to a small portion of restaurants—it has not yet become a widespread trend.

Of course, eating out does not necessarily mean eating at restaurants.  It can also mean eating in the car, where you may be prone to non-nutritious snacking, or eating at parties held at the homes of your friends and relatives.  At parties, diet-saboteurs such as potato chips and cookies tend to be plentiful; at times, you may find such goodies hard to resist.  Eating at home shortly before a party may be the best way to avoid gaining unwanted pounds.

What can you do if you are forced to eat out several times a week?  Make sure that you stick to your diet plan.  Don’t be tempted to indulge in the wrong kinds of foods “just this once.”  Select entrees that are accompanied by vegetables, and resist the urge to order dessert.  Consider eating only half of your entrée and boxing up the rest for your next meal.  And don’t starve yourself prior to eating out.  Such a tactic will cause you to overeat once you get to the restaurant.   Following sensible eating patterns, both at restaurants and at home, will help you to achieve your ideal weight.





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