A friend of mine is trying to lose weight by watching her calories. Personally, of all of the weight loss diets and fads out there, this makes the most sense to me. Your body requires a certain amount of calories to function. If you consume less calories than it requires, it breaks down fat and muscle to get those calories. If your calorie intake is more than your body requires, it stores the excess calories as fat. So, regardless of the diet, the only way you’re going to lose weight is to consume less calories.
The amount of calories your body burns in 1 day is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Factors that affect your BMR include height, weight, age and gender. Here is a formula that you can use to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
This BMR formula doesn’t take into account if you have a higher muscle-to-fat ratio nor your activity level. Therefore, a more accurate way to determine how many calories you use during an average day is to take the Basal Metabolic Rate that you calculated above and plug it into what’s called the Harris Benedict Equation. This equation factors in your activity level to determine a more accurate assessment of how many calories you burn during the day. Here is the equation below:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): Calories = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): Calories = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): Calories = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week): Calories = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): Calories = BMR x 1.9
These calories are basically what you need to consume on a daily basis to maintain your current weight. With this number you can then calculate the calorie intake you need to eat in order to either gain or lose weight.
Calorie Needs to Lose Weight
There are about 3500 calories in a pound of body fat. So, you need to create a 3500-calorie deficit through diet and exercise in order to lose 1 pound of body weight. This calorie deficit can be achieved by either calorie-restriction or by a combination of fewer calories in (diet) and more calories out (through exercise). The combination of diet and exercise gets you the best results for lasting weight loss. Visit my other blog post to learn about Essential Components of a Fitness Program.
If you want to lose fat, a good guideline for decreasing your caloric intake is to reduce your daily calories by at least 500, but not more than 1000 below your maintenance level (This will cause you to have either a 3500 or 7000 calorie deficit per week which is equivalent to 1-2 pounds). If you only need to lose a small amount of weight, stay closer to the 500 calories because 1000 is too much. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that calorie levels never drop below 1200 calories per day for women and 1800 calories per day for men. If you have a small to moderate amount of weight to lose, reducing your caloric intake by 15-20% below your maintenance level is a safe way to go.
Here are some simple ways to cut calories out of your diet:
- Eliminate red meat – Build your meals around fish and poultry.
- Cut out fried foods – Grill, bake, roast, broil or boil your food. No more French fries and snacks like potato chips and Doritos
- Begin your meal with a soup or salad – This will curb your hunger and will help keep your portion sizes in check.
- Stop drinking soda/cola – For every 20 ounces of soda you drink, you’re consuming more than 250 calories. You can blow your entire calorie budget for the day on soda.
- Drink water – Try to drink 8 glasses a day. Even if you don’t hit 8, try to consume more than usual.
- For other ideas visit my other blog posts – Easy Ways to Cut Calories Without Feeling Deprived & Healthy Eating Tips So You Don’t Need to Diet
If you’re overweight, losing as little as 7-10 percent of your weight can improve many of the conditions linked to being overweight such as high blood pressure and diabetes. However, slow and steady weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week is the safest way to lose weight. Too rapid weight loss can cause you to lose more muscle than fat. It also increases your chances of developing things like gallstones and nutrient deficiencies. Making permanent changes in your eating habits and physical activity is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.
Calorie Needs to Gain Weight
If you have the opposite problem and need to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn. Once you calculate the number of calories you need to maintain your weight, eating an extra 500 calories per day will gain you an extra pound a week (roughly 3500 calories). If you increase your calorie intake to gain weight then you should try to increase your level of physical exercise in order to maintain or increase your lean body mass or muscle mass. Exercise can help both your physical and mental health. Visit my other blog post to learn about the Basic Principles of a Good Fitness program.
Whether you need to lose or gain weight, controlling your calorie intake during the day controls your weight. You didn’t get over or under-weight overnight so it’s not going to get better overnight. You should only change your weight by 4-8 pounds per month. The biggest thing is to change your eating habits and add exercise (if possible) to your lifestyle.
Personally, I’m a big fan of having nuts for a snack. It provides that saltiness, but not all of the carbohydrates and saturated fat of chips or other typical snack foods. I’ve always heard that almonds were healthy for you, but I never realized how healthy until I started doing a little research. They are high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and they are considered one of my most nutritious nuts. The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, it bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut. The almond is one of the healthiest snack foods you can eat. Its health benefits are wide and varied. Below are some of the health benefits that almonds have:
- Helps heart health: A study showed those who consumed almonds five times a week had a 50% reduction in risk of heart attack. They have large amounts of vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Almonds also help reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) which causes artery-damaging inflammation.
- Reduces bad cholesterol: Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fats which help to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). A handful every day can lower your bad cholesterol level by 8 to 12 percent.
- Improves blood circulation: Almonds are high in potassium and low in sodium, both are factors that regulate blood pressure. The high level of magnesium in almonds has a very positive effect on our arteries and veins and helps to improve the overall flow of nutrients through our bodies. It also contains iron, which helps carry oxygen to all of the body’s cells and organs.
- Good source of Protein: Almonds provide one of the best plant sources of protein. They provide high quality and highly absorbable protein. A quarter-cup (containing around 30 nuts) contains around 7.6 grams of protein.
- Strengthens the bones: Almonds are a good source of calcium which prevents osteoporosis and strengthens the bones, teeth and muscles. It also provides other nutrients that help to increase the bone mineral density, which helps to strengthen the skeletal system.
- Good for brain power: The almond is a source of many nutrients which helps in development of the brain development. I’ve heard it recommended having 5 almonds in the morning everyday for maximum brainpower. They contain phenylalanine, a brain-boosting chemical, which aids in healthy development of our cognitive functions.
- Helps you lose weight: Almonds have high fiber content, protein and the good type of fat which satisfies your appetite very soon therefore you are less likely to have cravings and overeat. Studies have revealed that almond rich low calorie diet is good for obese people to assist in shedding their weight.
- Good for diabetic people: They are a low glycemic index (GI) food. When eaten with a high GI food, it helps in reducing the rise in sugar and insulin levels after meals.
- Reduces the risk of Cancer: Being high in natural fiber, it improves the movement of food through the colon, thereby preventing colon cancer. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, phytochemicals and flavonoids which suppress the growth of cancer cells. It is also rich source of boron which helps to prevent prostate cancer.
- Prevents Gallstones: People eating at least 5 almonds a day have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones, a study confirms. Almond oil also possesses laxative properties and helps to produce soft stools and avoid any constipation.
- Good for skin: An almond face pack prevents dry skin, pimples and black heads and is a good long term cure for acne. It also improves skin complexion and premature aging. It nourishes the skin making it smooth and soft.
- Energy booster: Nutrients present in almonds like Protein, Manganese, Copper & Riboflavin are all used to generate energy in our body.
So you can see, almonds are a nutritious snack that will have a positive effect on your overall health. So Go Nuts on Almonds!!!!
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular health remedies in use today. It has been used since ancient times as a remedy for many different ailments, and even Hippocrates is said to have used it as an antibiotic. In fact, apple cider vinegar is an effective natural bacteria-fighting agent that contains many minerals and trace elements that are vital for a healthy body. Natural apple cider vinegar is made by crushing freshly grown apples and allowing them to mature in wooden barrels. This boosts the natural fermentation qualities of the crushed apples. This differs from the refined and distilled vinegars found in supermarkets. When the vinegar is mature, it contains a dark, cloudy, web-like bacterial foam called mother, which becomes visible when the rich brownish liquid is held to the light. Natural vinegars that contain the mother have enzymes and minerals that other vinegars in grocery stores may not have due to over-processing, over-heating, and filtration. For this reason, it is recommended that you purchase only natural apple cider vinegar, with an ideal acidity (pH) level of 5 to 7.
Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Many people claim that apple cider vinegar promotes weight loss. Some theories suggest that it helps to speed up the metabolism, while others suggest that it burns calories. A number of nutritionists also believe that combining Vitamin B6 and Lecithin with Apple Cider Vinegar is highly effective for weight loss. A suggested remedy is to mix 2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with a glass of water and drink this before every meal or sip it slowly throughout the day. Others like to use it in salad dressings or drink a tablespoon diluted in a glass of water once or twice per day.
Apple cider vinegar is said to treat dandruff by destroying the fungus Malassezia furfur and restoring the pH balance of the scalp. Some people recommend applying a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar, applying it to the scalp, and leaving it to dry. Others suggest applying a couple of tablespoons of straight vinegar to the scalp and leaving it on for an hour or two before rinsing.
A reported treatment for warts is to soak the affected area for 20 minutes per day in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.
Due to its acidic properties, apple cider vinegar is a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis. Add ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.
Apple cider vinegar is an effective body odor remedy, since it can help adjust the skin’s pH level which helps to eliminate odor-causing bacteria. For armpit odor, wipe them once each morning with undiluted apple cider vinegar. For foot odor, fill a pan with arm water and add 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, then let your feet soak for 15 minutes once a week.
A bath of apple cider vinegar is said to reduce the effects of sunburn. The vinegar soaked on a cloth and applied to the sunburned areas may also be helpful.
Apple cider vinegar is a natural cure for acne. When diluted with water 50/50 it is often used as a toner for the face. Be very careful when applying it to your face because apple cider vinegar is dangerous to the eyes.
Apple cider vinegar contains sulfur that fights the effects of aging. Finely chop or blend an onion, and use a strainer or cheese cloth to squeeze and extract the onion juice. Take one part of apple cider vinegar and one part of onion juice and mix them together. Dab a cotton pad into the solution and apply it directly to the age spots. Leave this on the skin for a minimum of 30 minutes or as long as you are comfortable with it. Repeat this once a day for approximately 6 weeks. If the spots haven’t completely disappeared after the 6 weeks but have started to fade, keep repeating the process until they do.
Apple cider vinegar assists with natural bowel movements since it contains significant amounts of pectin, which is a water-soluble fiber that helps to improve digestion by normalizing the acid levels in the stomach. For constipation, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into an 8 oz glass of water, and drink this 3 times a day. The vinegar can also be mixed with apple or grape juice to help with the taste.
Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for diarrhea since the high pectin concentration acts as a protective coating which soothes the irritated lining of the colon. As with the constipation remedy, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a glass of water, and drink this 3 times daily while symptoms persist.
Drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day with a little honey helps to lower cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure
A teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water per day is said to lower blood pressure.
Apple cider vinegar may help to control high blood sugar levels. Take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and add a pinch of salt to it. Mix it in a glass of water, and drink it before every large meal.
What to Look for When Buying Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be found in almost any health or nutrition store. Look for it with a pH level of 5 to 7. Apple cider vinegar can also be found in a capsule form.
The past few months I’ve been having some problems with my spine and have been seeing my own chiropractor rather regularly. When I go in for my appointments, he’s been telling me about the results he’s been seeing with his Kettlebell workout. Another colleague of ours convinced him to try it, and it seems to be working well for both of them. I had never heard of Kettlebells before, but after hearing both of my colleagues rave about them I decided to do a little research. Kettlebells are cast iron weights that look like a cannonball with a single looped handle on top. They range in weight from 2 pounds to over 100 pounds. They are common strength training aids in Eastern Europe and are starting to take off among mainstream athletes.
The reason kettlebell training is starting to take off is it gets back to basic training that requires functional, whole body fitness. Kettlebell workouts are intended to increase strength, endurance, agility and balance, challenging both the muscular and cardiovascular system with total-body movements. Kettlebells require the person to focus on whole-body conditioning because lifting and controlling it forces the entire body, specifically the core, to contract as a group, building both strength and stability at the same time. The kettlebell has a reputation amongst its followers as being able to condition the whole body with a relatively simple plan.
If you want to start using kettlebells in your workout, it is highly recommended that you get personal instruction from a personal trainer or coach who has experience teaching kettlebell exercises. When used incorrectly, kettlebells can cause some nasty injuries. Proper use of this cast iron weight requires strength, coordination, and lots of practice with lighter weights before increasing the weight. Each exercise involves multiple joints and multiple muscle groups working together. It takes most people time to adjust to these new movements that are different from traditional weight-lifting movements. After the basics are mastered, increasing the weight provides a strength workout unmatched by machines or even dumbbells. The biggest mistake beginners make is lifting too heavy a kettlebell before they can control it. This can result in serious injuries to the joints, and especially the neck, back, and spine.
Americans are slowly becoming aware that the white sugar they’ve been eating is a proven human toxin. We are seeing many people in this country plagued with the health conditions of diabetes, hypoglycemia, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, increased arterial plaque, immune suppression, insulin resistance, obesity, and heart disease; much of which can be attributed to this country’s love of sugar. Many Americans, realizing that sugar had an impact on their waistlines, started looking for low calorie sugar substitutes. What they came up with was those pink, blue, and yellow packages that really aren’t any better for you. Sweet and Low is derived from coal tar; Nutra-Sweet is a proven neurotoxin; and Splenda is showing itself to be another deceitful alternative. Jim Turner, Chairman of the Board of the Health Advocacy Group – Citizens for Health describes varying degrees of gastro-intestinal problems resulting from Splenda use. “… from irritation all the way up to serious bleeding ulcers requiring surgery,” says Turner. Other health professionals report cases of cardiac problems, and various allergic reactions. In this environment, a natural sweetener is starting to gain popularity. Stevia, with its extracts having close to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, is starting to garner more attention as a sugar substitute. Stevia is in the sunflower family and is native to subtropical and tropical regions of western North and South America. Its taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar. Stevia was discovered by the 16th century Spanish Conquistadors who learned about it from the local Guarani and Mato Grosso Indians who used stevia leaves to sweeten their medicines and teas. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. Political controversies have limited stevia’s availability in many countries; for example, the United States banned it in the early 1990s unless labeled as a supplement, but in 2008 approved an extract of it as a food additive. While some countries limit or ban its use, Stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Japan, South America, and parts of Asia. Millions of Japanese have been using stevia for over 30 years with no reported or known harmful effects. In addition to its use as a sweetener, studies have shown it may possibly help the treatment of osteoporosis. In a patent application claim, it was claimed that eggshell breakage can be reduced by 75% by adding a small percentage of stevia leaf powder to chicken feed. It has also been suggested that pigs fed stevia extract had twice as much calcium content in their meat, but these claims have been unverified Medical research has also shown possible benefits of stevia in treating obesity and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that stevia improves insulin sensitivity in rats and possibly even promotes additional insulin production, helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Preliminary human studies also suggest that stevia can help reduce hypertension. So if you’re looking for something to sweeten your coffee, let me recommend stevia to you – it’s natural, it doesn’t affect your blood glucose levels, and it may even have a positive effect on your insulin levels.