Category Archives: Weightloss

Vegan Power Plant-Based Diet Protein Myth Busted!

Since August 2013 I have eliminated meat and dairy from my diet and now follow a plant based diet.  I have really been enjoying it and I have found that it encourages me to be much more adventurous in the kitchen rather than just eating protein and carbs for dinner with a portion or two of veg. My decision to follow a plant based diet was made after researching some of the things that are contained in our everyday foods and how they effect our bodies. I came to the conclusion that a high percentage of the foods that I was eating were actually harmful to my body in the long run. I was also eating many of them out of habit, not because I particularly enjoyed them.

I have reposted this article by Eric Dubay from Happy Healthy Homepage as it is an interesting read and it contains all of the reasons why I have decided to follow a plant based diet. I hope that you enjoy reading the article as much as I did.

 

“The idea that humans must consume animal flesh and excretions (meat and dairy) as part of a balanced diet is a monstrous myth long symbolized and propagated by our unhealthy FDA food pyramid.

 
The entire top three levels of the regular pyramid (meat, dairy, refined fats/sugars) are not by any means necessary or conducive to good health. There is not a single vitamin, mineral, nutrient, phyto-nutrient, amino-acid, fatty-acid, protein-chain, omega, or any other such elusive vital ingredient to health, not a single thing found in meat or dairy products that cannot be found, in greater abundance and more optimally, in the plant kingdom. For instance there are more omegas in seaweed than in fish, over twice as much protein in spinach than steak, and four times more calcium in sesame seeds than in milk. An actual healthy food pyramid would look something like this picture.

Meat and dairy products are highly acidic, fattening, cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging, lymph-clotting, mucus-forming, constipating, difficult to digest, and full of worms, parasites, bacteria, metabolic waste, hormones, and chemicals. Eggs are actually unfertilized avian menstrual cycles, otherwise known as chicken periods. Milk is the puss and hormone-filled mammary excretions of a female cow and meant to nourish her young. None of these animal bits and pieces are beneficial or necessary for human consumption.

There is not a single chronic disease or deficiency exclusive to vegans. However, heart disease, cancer, tumours, cysts, MS, diabetes, and many other major health problems have all been cured by switching to a 100% vegan diet. Some of the strongest animals in nature like gorillas, elephants, moose, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes are all vegetarians. The idea that you need to eat another animal’s flesh to be strong is a ridiculous superstition. Shaolin martial monks, arguably the toughest men on the planet, are all strict vegetarians.
 
Our human anatomy is undeniably designed to subsist on plant foods and not on animal flesh; literally every aspect of our bodies proves we are herbivore/frugivores and not carnivore/omnivores
 
 
To begin with, humans and other natural vegetarians have 4x longer, convoluted intestinal tracts perfect for slow digesting fruits and starches, whereas omnivore/carnivores have 4x shorter intestines to quickly push out the acidic, putrefying animal flesh they eat.
Humans have alkaline saliva ptyalin to pre-digest grains, alkaline urine, and weak stomach acid whereas all omnivore/carnivores have acidic saliva, acidic urine, and 10-1000x stronger hydrochloric stomach acid essential for digesting meat.  
All natural flesh-eaters also secrete the enzyme “uricase” necessary to metabolize the uric acid in meat, but uricase is not produced by our human bodies.

Humans have lateral jaw movement and flat molars for grinding grains and vegetables whereas natural flesh eaters have no lateral jaw movement and scores of huge fangs for biting and ripping. Humans have short, weak fingernails whereas carnivores and omnivores have long, strong, sharp claws for cutting through skin and flesh. Humans must take in Vitamin C from our food whereas all carnivores and most omnivore’s bodies produce their own Vitamin C.  Natural omnivores and carnivores also have a microbial tolerance far higher than humans.  For example the botulinum toxin which is deadly to humans but is easily and safely digested by natural flesh-eaters.
 
Humans eating a high fat diet become obese, lazy, and diseased whereas natural flesh eaters stay trim, energetic and absolutely thrive on their high fat diet.  Human vision is easily able to differentiate various colors making it simple to discern ripe from unripe plant foods, whereas the color vision of most omnivore/carnivores is far less discerning. Humans sleep only 6-12 hours a day like most herbivore/frugivores, whereas most omnivore/carnivores sleep 18-20 hours a day. Humans sweat from pores all over our bodies whereas all carnivores and most omnivores release perspiration from their tongues. Humans have single births and two mammary glands whereas most all omnivores and carnivores birth litters of several babies have have rows upon rows of mammary glands.
Again, there is not a single chronic disease or deficiency exclusive to vegans, nor a single vitamin, mineral, nutrient, phyto-nutrient, amino-acid, fatty-acid, protein-chain, omega, or any other such elusive vital ingredient to health, not a single thing found in meat (or dairy) products that cannot be found, in greater abundance and more optimally, in the plant kingdom.  Put simply, humans are biologically built vegetarians.
In using comparative anatomy to determine what man was ‘meant’ to eat, we should look at the species most similar to man, namely the anthropoid apes – chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, and orangutans. Of all animals, man’s digestive organs and teeth most closely resemble these apes. In captivity, some of these animals will eat meat if forced to rather than starve to death. But in the wild, all eat a vegetarian diet. Another strong clue that man is naturally a vegetarian is the fact that vegetarians in general are much healthier than omnivores. The American Dietetic Association has acknowledged that vegetarians are less at risk for a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, some types of cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and adult-onset diabetes … Eating a healthy diet goes far beyond cutting back a bit on red meat. In a recent study of 6,500 Chinese, Dr. T. Collin Campbell of Cornell found that even though the Chinese overall eat only a fraction of the animal protein Americans do, those who ate the least animal protein nonetheless had lower risk of disease than the average Chinese. Dr. Campbell concludes, ‘We’re basically a vegetarian species and should be eating a wide variety of plant foods and minimizing our intake of animal foods.‘” -Glen Kime, president, Vegetarian Society of Washington, D.C.
 

All omnivores and carnivores eat their meat raw, tearing through fur/skin, and lapping up the nutrient-rich blood with their tongues. A true omnivore like a bear will take a fish out of the water and swallow it whole, uncooked, scales, bones, fins, head and everything. When a lion kills an herbivore for food, it tears right into the stomach area to eat the raw stomach, liver, intestines, and other organs that are filled with blood and nutrients. They will NOT eat cooked meat. For most humans, the smell and taste of raw bloody meat is putrid, so in order to consume it they must first clean, cook, season and marinate the flesh in various vegetarian herbs and spices to make it palatable.

The final point I would like to make on how we as humans were not meant to eat meat is this. All omnivorous and carnivorous animals eat their meat raw. When a lion kills an herbivore for food, it tears right into the stomach area to eat the organs that are filled with blood (nutrients). While eating the stomach, liver, intestine, etc., the lion laps the blood in the process of eating the dead animals flesh. Even bears that are omnivores eat salmon raw. However, eating raw or bloody meat disgusts us as humans. Therefore, we must cook it and season it to buffer the taste of flesh. If a deer is burned in a forest fire, a carnivorous animal will NOT eat its flesh. Even circus lions have to be feed raw meat so that they will not starve to death. If humans were truly meant to eat meat, then we would eat all of our meat raw and bloody. The thought of eating such meat makes one’s stomach turn. This is my point on how we as humans are conditioned to believe that animal flesh is good for us and that we were meant to consume it for survival and health purposes. If we are true carnivores or omnivores, cooking our meat and seasoning it with salt, ketchup, or tabasco sauce would disguise and we as humans would refuse to eat our meat in this form.” -Dr. Akilah El

 
 

Finally, plain moral decency and ethics should be reason enough to end this animal holocaust. Can you imagine if aliens came to Earth and treated humans the way we treat cows, pigs, and chickens? If aliens kept us locked together in tight cages, fattened us up, cut our noses and balls off, raped our women, chained down our children, then killed and ate us when we were the most tasty, would you see anything wrong with that? And for the anti-war meat-eaters out there: Need I point out the hypocrisy? If you kill innocent, defenseless animals every day just because you like the taste, then go around pretending you’re “anti-war,” you’re only fooling yourself.”

 
 “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” -Leo Tolstoy

Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal” -Ingrid Newkirk

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses” -George Bernard Shaw

A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral” -Leo Tolstoy

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages” -Thomas Edison

I’m Finally Back- Pregnancy, Labour, and Beyond

Before the birth of my beautiful son I would never have believed just how much of the day newborns take up! I imagined that I would be able to blog by the time that he was 2 weeks old but then reality hit! My son is 9 weeks old now and I am really enjoying my new role as Mum and I am glad that I now have enough of a routine to begin reintroducing the things that I enjoy into my life.

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I have always been curious about pregnancy, labour, the period after having the baby, and whether or not its possible to regain your figure. I am happy that I now have first hand experience and that it is positive also.  Below is a picture of me at 9 months pregnant.

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My labour was 29 hours, which would have brought me to tears if anyone had told me that it would be that long, but once you are in the middle of it you cannot say I don’t want to do this any more! I used deep breathing for pain management for the first 25 hours and then I opted for gas and air for the last 4 hours.  After 25 hours I was also 5cm dilated which meant that I could get into the birthing pool.

Having a water birth was a great experience and it is what I hoped to have from the day that I found out I was pregnant. There are many factors which can prevent you from having a water birth, some of which include being over weight, having high blood pressure, a history of complicated births, high temperature, or if the baby shows signs of being distressed.  I was aware of the things that could stop me from having the birth that I wanted but I just chose to focus on the positive.

I continued to exercise in the gym until 2 weeks before my sons due date.  I did Yoga and Pilates I also used the exercise bike, cross trainer and lifted light weights.  Once I stopped going to the gym at 38 weeks, I continued to go for long walks at least 3 times per week up until the day that I went in to labour, my son came 3 days after his due date.

As I was so active throughout my pregnancy and ate healthily, I was very surprised when I got on the scales, when my son was 2 weeks old, to find that I was still 2 stones over my pre pregnancy weight. I decided that I would only weigh myself once per month and by the time my son was 7 weeks I was only 9lbs above my pre pregnancy weight without the gym. 7 weeks post partum I returned to the gym 2 days per week and this is a routine that I hope to continue for a while.  As I only go twice per week I have to ensure that each workout counts.  I do cardio and weights each time, I vary the cardio between my own work out or attending a spinning class. I do not concerned about being 9lbs above my usual weight as I know that it will come off in time with exercise and my usual eating patterns.  I am still breast feeding which means that my body will naturally maintain some additional fat stores. I read an excellent article on breast feeding written by Anne Smith who is a Lactation ConsultantIt is said that the average woman “will carry around about 3 extra pounds of breast tissue while she’s lactating”.

I have often heard that between 300- 500 calories are burned each day with breastfeeding and that it is natures way of getting women back to their usual weight.  However in reality many of the women that I have spoken to have not found it helpful. My opinion is that breast feeding does burn calories and speed up weight loss but you still have to eat healthily.  You cannot over eat or take the unhealthy option because you are breast feeding.  The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. By eating healthily and getting some form of exercise no less than 3 days per week the weight will begin to come off.

Why Diets Do Not Work

Diets do not work and I believe that many more people are now beginning to believe the same.  I have seen many people lose weight but it is rare that the weight loss is maintained for years afterwards.  I come from a family where many of the women have been on diets and in turn they have seen their weight fluctuate.  This is often referred to as ‘yo-yo dieting’.

My Mum was placed on a diet from a very young age, as she was over weight, and even given slimming pills at the tender age of 15.  None of this helped her to lose weight, or gave her what I believe to be the most fundamental thing, a healthy relationship with food. 

 The problem with diets is that they demonize certain food groups and make you think that you should avoid them at all costs.  I do not think that any food group should be abandoned, you should just eat it in moderation.  As a teenager I was quite over weight, at my heaviest I was over 13 stone and wore a size 18- 20 (UK Size) but my Mum taught me how to eat healthily rather than putting me on  a diet.

I believe that this is the reason why I have a good relationship with food and I have been roughly the same weight for just under 15 years.  I have been a size 10 since I left school and now at nearly 30 I am the same dress size.  I eat what I believe is a healthy diet and I have snacks, alcohol and take away in moderation.  I exercise regularly, take vitamin supplements and drink plenty of water.

“You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back,” said Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”

The diet industry continues to make billions each year as people believe that the latest fad diet will work, or that a diet that I celeb followed will also help them; and in many cases it will but only for a few months.  Developing a healthy life style which involves exercise and healthy foods is much more sustainable than any diet and in turn it will make you feel better and be more energetic. 

There is no need to feel irritable and hungry on  a diet that will probably not work for you in the long-term.  When you feel hungry that is the first step towards failure as that is when your body believes that you are starving and sends a message to your brain that you need fatty food now.  I look at this in more depth in my article 10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight.

Diets cause you to become obsessed with food, you also get into a mentality of believing that you should ‘treat’ yourself if you have had a good day which results in you eating things that you may not have if you were not on a diet.  I believe that the following are good tips to follow and I incorporate them the majority of the time: 

  • Eat what you want in moderation
  • Minimize your in-take of processed foods
  • Eat when you are hungry
  • Stop eating when you are full, do not feel obligated to clear your plate
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Take regular exercise
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make conscious food choices; by this I mean choose what you want to eat, enjoy it and move on.  Even if it is not a healthy food choice you should not feel guilty just do not have it too often.
  • Try to get enough sleep each night, lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain as people tend to grab sugary snacks for energy during the day to counteract the tiredness that they feel.

A healthy life style and making healthy food choices is a much better way to lose weight and it also gives you a much better changes to sustain the weight loss.

Is a High Salt Intake Effecting your Weight Loss?

It has been estimated that many people in the UK and USA could be carrying up to an extra 5lbs of excess weight due to the effects that a high salt intake has on the body.  Heavier people may experience more water retention especially if their intake of processed and convenience foods is high.  There have been cases where people have retained as much as 8- 10lbs in fluid. 

In the majority of cases excess weight is mostly made up of extra fat stores but it should not be overlooked that a small amount of weight gain is due to water retention as a result of too much salt being consumed.  When salt intake exceeds the amount that the body can handle it builds up in the interstitial areas and the kidneys have to work harder in order to expel the excess salt from the body.  Have you noticed that after consuming salty foods you feel thirsty?  This is because your kidneys are sending a message to your brain that more water is needed in order to flush the excess sodium that you have consumed out of the body.  This is why Pubs and Bars have salted peanuts and pretzels for free on the counter so that we eat them, become thirsty, and then buy more drinks.  If you continue to consume too much sodium eventually a build up causes the body to hold extra fluids in the blood; which can result in high blood pressure, excess water weight gain, and congestive heart failure.

The BBC reports that adults are advised to consume no more than 6g salt per day (about one teaspoon).  Current intake is about 9g per day – that is 50 per cent higher than is recommended for good health.  It is important to get into the habit of reading labels on food, especially processed foods, the BBC offers advice on How to Reduce your Sodium intake.  Research has found that some ready-made supermarket curries  contain as much as 18.45 grams of salt per portion, this is three times the recommended amount of 6 grams.  This is why it is not good to eat ready meals often, if you do have a ready meal you should not sprinkle additional salt.

This week it was also reported in the London Metro newspaper that the salt levels in Caribbean food are dangerously high.  The results of their research was quite shocking, some popular caribbean dishes had as much as 38 times the amount of salt found in a packet of walkers ready salted crisps. 

Most of the salt in Afro-Caribbean dishes is added in cooking and at the table. This is in contrast to the rest of the Western world where 80 per cent of salt intake comes from processed foods, according to Consensus Action on Salt and Health.  Black people of African descent living in Britain are three to four times more likely to have high blood pressure than the white population.  Although these figures are shocking, it is good that awareness is now being raised and in turn lives will be saved.

It is never too late to reduce your salt intake.  When an individual reduces their sodium intake it will help them to lose weight.  Initially the weight loss will be due to no longer retaining water; but it is possible to gain long-term results by switching to a healthy low-fat, high fiber diet.  By including fruit and vegetables, 100% whole grains, nuts and beans; you set yourself up for success to lose weight and keep it off.

Lose Weight Fast with Fat Burning Foods

People always want to know the secrets to losing weight fast, there are many different methods for losing weight quickly but the most important thing is keeping the weight off.  It is best to lose weight in a way that is sustainable, this will give the best chance at being successful.  If you are constantly hungry or feel deprived, this is just setting yourself up to fail and then start bingeing.

A great way to lose weight fast is to ensure that you eat fat burning foods, these are foods that speed up the metabolism and in turn help you to lose weight.  You need to incorporate fat burning foods into a healthy diet, and for optimal results you should do some exercise, even if that is brisk walking for 20- 30 minutes 3 times per week.

Below I have listed some of the top fat burning foods that you can incorporate into a healthy eating plan:

  • Milk/ low fat dairy are often mentioned as fat burning foods, I looked at the benefits of low fat dairy in depth in my post “10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight“.  Calcium acts as a metabolic trigger and it encourages weight loss.  Milk is a good source of complex carbohydrate which also boosts your metabolism by keeping your insulin levels from rising after a meal.  High insulin levels encourage the body to hold onto fat.
  • Whole Grain Cereals are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber.  They keep you full for longer as they are harder to digest and give you more chance of not picking at unhealthy foods in between meals.  Having a bowl of whole grain cereal in the morning with either semi skimmed milk or a low fat yoghurt is a great way to start the day with 2 fat burning foods.
  • Oats are a great source of fiver and as porridge is typically eaten in the morning and made with milk, it is again a great combination of 2 fat burning foods.  When the U.S. Navy studied the eating habits and metabolisms of some of its personnel, it found that eating breakfast helped raise the men’s metabolisms by up to 10 percent.
  • Chillies contain a chemical called capsaicin, which not only gives peppers their pungent flavor but speeds up the heart rate and boosts the metabolism.  Chillies are full of vitamins and they also add a lot of flavour to dinners.  It is best not to consume more than 2 per day as they can sometimes cause heartburn.
  • Green Tea People have been drinking green tea for many years. You can enjoy it hot or cold and it is a great alternative to sugary drinks.  Green tea has high amounts of catechin and polyphenols, which give your body a small boost in burning up calories. Catechins appear to prevent absorption of fat and to stabilise glucose levels in the body.
  • Chicken is surprisingly on the list as a fat burning food, which is good because it is something that many people eat numerous times a week. AOL reports that Danish Researchers found that men who substituted protein for one fifth of their daily carbs increased the number of calories they burned each day by up to five percent.  This is excellent news.
  • Pork is a great source of protein for the same reasons as chicken, it is high in protein.  With pork it is important to ensure that you get lean cuts and cut away any visible fat.  Fatty cuts of pork would defeat the purpose.

It is possible to lose weight fast without going on the latest fad diet you just need to pay attention to your food choices and ensure that you are never hungry.  Always carry fruit (fresh or dried), handfuls of nuts, a banana, or low fat yoghurt with you.  Losing weight is a life choice and with the right amount of determination and advice it can be achieved and more importantly maintained.  The BBC has an excellent artice “Need to Lose Weight?” which offers practical advice and tips around losing weight. 

 I hope that the above list of foods has let you know that you can eat more than salad and veg when on a diet.  No food group has to be completely abandoned you just need to have them in moderation, ne more active and set yourself achievable goals.

Burn Fat, Lose Weight with Jogging!

Now that the mornings are getting brighter and it is not quite so cold outside, I have decided to begin jogging before work again. It is a great way to start the day and also kick start the metabolism. Jogging provides me with a period of time to clear my thoughts and plan what I want to achieve for the day. It has been proven that jogging, along with other forms of exercise, can counteract depression and improve your mood. It increases the capacity to work and lead an active life. Jogging helps you to burn fat which in turn helps you to lose weight. It increases your metabolism which will help you to burn more calories throughout the day. The important thing is not to eat a lot more during the day because you have exercised in the morning. If you feel more peckish, which can happen, ensure that you have healthy snacks with you such as fruit, nuts and seeds, or a low fat yoghurt. You do not want to undo your hard work by eating the wrong type of food. Many people have had success with jogging and found that it helps them to lose weight and also stubborn stomach fat. This is because you are burning fat through the activity and also strengthening your core muscles which wrap around your stomach and aid pulling it in. The website http://www.ehow.com explains that strengthening your stomach and spinal muscles through jogging can be invaluable to your overall health and longevity. Jogging is a great cardiovascular work out and improves your overall strength and endurance. It can also: – Reduce blood pressure – Reduce the risk of heart disease – Strengthens bones – Reduces cancer risk – Improves sleep You do not need to run at a specific speed or try to keep up with anyone else, just jog at a speed that is comfortable for you. It is important to try and improve your distance or speed every week. I sometimes jog continuously for 20-30 minutes, or I run in intervals, for example 2 minutes jogging and 30 seconds sprinting. If sprinting is too much for you it is fine to walk briskly for 2 minutes and then jog for 1 minute and so on. Repeat this as many times as you can (usually about 4 or 5 times approximately 15- 20 mins) and aim to improve each week. I would say that it is good to have a comfortable pair of trainers. I do not have specific running shoes but I always ensure that my trainers are comfortable. Jogging can be enjoyed at any age and is great for the whole family. I recently went jogging with my 11 year old brother who was convinced that he would be able to run further than me as he is younger. Needless to say I left him huffing and puffing behind me! If you have any discomfort when jogging then you should address it, better to be safe than sorry, but it is a fun and free way to exercise and will only become more enjoyable as we move closer to spring and summer 2011.

Low Fat Dairy Helps You to Lose Fat!

One of the points that I felt needed revisiting from the programme 10 Things You Need to know About Losing Weight was the fact that “low fat dairy helps you to lose fat.”  At first glance you may think that it helps you to lose weight because it has fewer calories than full fat dairy but the reason is much more complex than this.  According to the science, when compared to low calcium in take, a high calcium intake increased the exertion of fat in the faeces.  Literally the more low fat dairy that you include in your diet the less fat that your body will absorb.  This is because getting enough calcium triggers the body to burn fat more efficiently and could even reduce the amount of fat that is produced.
It has been said that low fat dairy can also help to maintain your muscle mass.  As mentioned in my article ‘The Benefits of Weight Lifting’ you want to lose fat not muscle mass as muscle is the tissue that will help to burn calories, but muscles often get compromised through dieting. 
Even if your aim is not to lose weight but simply to maintain and be healthy it would be beneficial for you to incorporate lower fat dairy in your diet.  Calcium is important because the stronger the bones are the less likely you will be to suffer from the bone thinning disease osteoporosis.  The National Osteoporosis Society has observed that the condition affects a staggering 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50.  Such figures make you want to do what you can to avoid becoming a statistic at a later date.  It is never too late to make a change; even if it is a small one your body will thank you for it.
When choosing dairy it is best to go for the low fat version, such as skimmed or semi skimmed milk, low fat cheese.  Switching to low fat does not mean that you will be getting less calcium; in fact it has been proven that low fat milk includes slightly more calcium than full fat.
Aim for 3 servings of low fat dairy each day.  This could be a glass of milk, a low fat yoghurt and a match box sized serving of low fat cheese (approximately 28grams). 
It is never too late to make a change, even if it is a small one, your body will thank you for it.