2YourHealth Blog

How to Hack Your Brain to Love Exercise (Yes, Really!)

Posted by on 5:56 am in Calorie Burning, Exercise, Featured, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | 1 comment

How to Hack Your Brain to Love Exercise (Yes, Really!)

Exercise can feel like torture. When you work out, you get sweaty, you can’t breathe, you stink, you ache, you’re weak and shaky and exhausted…. You’re well aware that regular exercise is absolutely crucial to good health, but with that much misery involved, how can anyone expect you to keep it up—let alone to ever enjoy it? Fear not, friends! You can learn to love exercise, and it’s easier than you think: All it takes is an attitude adjustment. Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you to “Suck it up, buttercup.” Today, we’re serving up the knowledge and practical advice you need to reprogram your attitude towards exercise so that you can stop dreading and feeling guilty about your workouts and start actually looking forward to them. First things first: addressing the problem. Ever wonder why the thought of exercise always seems to fill you with dread? To find the answer, we’ll have to get neuroscientific. Why You Still Hate Exercise (Even Though You Haven’t Done It in Years) You may remember from science class that the brain is filled with special cells called neurons. Every time we have a thought, these neurons create connections with each other, which enables the brain to store memories. The more times you remember or think about something, the stronger the path between neurons becomes—sort of like how a path in the woods becomes clearer and less grassy the more times you walk over it. When you think the same kinds of thoughts over and over again, you are actually forming and reinforcing neural pathways inside your brain that cause those thought patterns to become habitual. Once you’ve already carved out a clear path for a certain thought to form in response to a given stimulus, your brain begins to follow that path by default every time it encounters that stimulus. This means that most of the time, your negative thoughts and feelings aren’t a choice so much as they are a reflex. If you’ve always thought of exercise as being difficult and unpleasant, you’ll continue to think that way until you make a conscious effort to retrain your brain. So how do you do that? Change Your Mind, Change Your Body The strategy is simple: Fake it ‘til you make it. It sounds foolish, but it really works—for all its complexity and sophistication, the human mind is surprisingly easy to “hack.” Start by paying attention to your own thoughts. What do you usually say to yourself in your own mind when you think about exercise? Is it something positive, or something negative? Chances are, it sounds something like this: “Ugh, I’ve put on a few pounds. I really should start working out to burn off all the food I’ve been pigging out on. If I don’t, I’ll never lose this weight. But I’m so tired after being at work all day, and exercising is really hard and uncomfortable. I’d rather just sit on the couch and watch TV.” That’s not your conscious mind talking—that’s your subconscious mind, the part that’s operating on auto-pilot and following the neural pathway you’ve carved out over time. When you catch yourself reflexively thinking these thoughts, take back control by telling yourself to stop. Then consciously replace your negative mode of thinking with a more positive one,...

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5 Fabulous Facts About Dietary Fiber

Posted by on 7:35 am in Featured, Meal, Menu | 0 comments

5 Fabulous Facts About Dietary Fiber

There are few easy solutions when it comes to improving your health, but eating more fiber may be one of the easiest. Read on to learn why fiber is so fab, and how to fit more fiber into your daily diet. What is Dietary Fiber? Dietary fiber is a nutrient that comes only from plants. It’s technically a type of carbohydrate, but although we can eat it, our bodies can’t actually digest it; instead, it passes through the digestive system more or less intact. The term “dietary fiber” actually includes about 25 different types of indigestible plant components, not all of which are technically fibers. Each of these plant components affects the body in a different way; for example, a component called inulin helps increase certain kinds of good bacteria in the gut, while a component called pectin helps lower cholesterol. There are two categories of dietary fiber: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber, which doesn’t. The Benefits of Dietary Fiber 1. It facilitates weight loss. Because it isn’t digestible, fiber can’t be broken down by the body into simple sugars. This means that fiber contains fewer calories than other forms of carbohydrates. What’s more, fiber absorbs water and swells up inside the digestive tract, causing you to feel more full between mealtimes by triggering signals of satiety from the brain to the body. Eating more fiber and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is an easy way to control your appetite and boost your weight loss efforts. 2. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber reduces the body’s absorption of “bad” cholesterol, which helps lower overall cholesterol levels. Early studies show evidence that fiber may help lower blood pressure as well, though more research is still needed to determine how. 3. It regulates blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Soluble fiber slows down the rate at which sugar from carbohydrates is absorbed into the bloodstream. This helps the body keep its blood sugar levels stable by preventing blood sugar “spikes” after meals. Fiber also helps regulate the amount of fatty acids—molecules that contribute to insulin resistance—in the body, which improves insulin sensitivity in both diabetics and nondiabetics. 4. It helps you poop. Insoluble fiber helps solidify and soften stool by absorbing water and adding bulk, and it also causes food to move through the digestive system more quickly. This makes your stool easier to pass and helps you “go” on a regular basis. Fiber is the only nutrient that has this effect, so it’s a very important part of a healthy diet! 5. It prevents disease. Because of fiber’s other fabulous benefits, a high-fiber diet can significantly lower your risk of developing a number of chronic illnesses and gastrointestinal disorders, including: Coronary heart disease Stroke Hypertension Obesity Type 2 diabetes Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) Duodenal ulcers Diverticulitis Hemorrhoids Constipation Ulcerative colitis Crohn’s disease Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) How to Get The Most out of Fiber The Institute of Medicine gives these recommendations for daily fiber intake: Men: Age 18 to 50 = 38 grams Age 50+ = 30 grams Women: Age 18 to 50 = 25 grams Age 50+ = 21 grams Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are a better source of fiber than supplements like Metamucil or Benefiber...

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Gee, That’s Swell: The Solution to Swollen Feet

Posted by on 6:00 am in Featured, Low Sodium, Potassium, Processed Foods, Sodium | 0 comments

Gee, That’s Swell: The Solution to Swollen Feet

Beat the Heat and Check Your Feet It’s been said by fans of summer that “Life is better in flip-flops,” and you have to admit there’s nothing quite like the feel of warm sea water washing over your toes or a cool breeze caressing your feet on a hot day. If there’s any part of your body that deserves a vacation this summer, it’s your hardworking feet. So while you’re flip-flopping around and enjoying all the sensations that summer has to offer this year, take the opportunity to assess the health of your lower extremities. It’s always a good idea to check for typical foot issues such as blisters, corns, calluses, ingrown toenails or toenail fungus, and wounds that aren’t healing properly (the latter can indicate type 2 diabetes). Specifically, however, we want you to check for signs of swelling in your feet and ankles. If your skin appears shiny and tightly-stretched, you may be experiencing edema, the medical term for swelling. Can’t tell? Try pressing your thumb gently against your skin for 15 seconds and then letting go. If your thumb leaves an indentation, you’re probably swollen. Sodium, Salt, and Swelling There are many potential causes of foot and ankle swelling, and some are far more serious than others, so it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible after you’ve identified swelling in your own feet. That being said, the most common cause of edema is too much sodium in the bloodstream—a severe and widespread problem that’s nonetheless solvable. Sodium’s purpose in the body is to help maintain blood volume and blood pressure by regulating how much water the body takes in and holds on to. An excess of sodium causes the body to retain more water than usual, which causes tissues in the legs and feet to swell. Extra fluid in the body also causes blood volume to increase, which raises blood pressure by making the heart work harder.   The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend a daily intake of only 2,300 mg of sodium, and the American Heart Association recommends even less: 1,500 mg for optimum heart health, especially for seniors, African Americans, and anyone with a chronic illness like diabetes or high blood pressure. However, according to the CDC, the average American consumes at least 3,300 mg of sodium per day—and that’s not even counting salt added to food after it’s been prepared. Obviously sodium doesn’t just come from added salt. The AHA estimates that 75% of the sodium we consume comes from foods served in restaurants and the processed foods that make up such a big part of the typical American diet. In fact, the most common sources of sodium include breads and rolls, cheese, lunch meat, pizza, soup, snack foods, and fast food meals. As you can see, simply taking the salt shaker off the table won’t reduce your sodium intake enough to stop your feet from swelling (although it’s definitely a step in the right direction). So how can you fix your poor, puffy feet and ankles? A “Swell” Solution Cutting back on sodium doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t mean your food now has to be totally bland, but it does mean making a change in the way you approach food selection and preparation. Fortunately, your “salt...

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The #1 Diet for a Longer, Healthier Life

Posted by on 6:00 am in Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Featured, Fruits, Heart Failure, Hypertension, kidney disease, Nuts, Processed Foods, Vegetables | 0 comments

The #1 Diet for a Longer, Healthier Life

Introducing a Medical Miracle What if we told you there was a way to extend your lifespan by delaying or completely preventing the types of chronic illness that lead to an early death? Would you assume we were talking about an experimental wonder drug, or maybe some type of expensive treatment only available overseas? If so, you’d be wrong. The real answer is much simpler, safer, and more affordable than that, and you can find it at your local grocery store. We’re talking, of course, about a healthy diet. That’s right: The secret to long life isn’t found in million-dollar spa treatments or genetic modification—it’s held within the foods we eat every day. A popular holistic health guru puts it this way: “Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” And the very best way to protect your body against potentially devastating chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome is to follow a plant-based diet. What is a Plant-Based Diet? A plant-based diet is simply a diet that is composed mainly of plants rather than meat and animal-based foods. Animal-based foods include beef, pork, venison, and other red meats as well as poultry, eggs, lard, milk and dairy products, fish, and other seafood like shrimp and crab. These are the foods that you should limit, depending on which type of plant-based diet you choose to follow. So what types of plant-based diets are there? Let’s take a look: Vegans eat no meat or animal-based foods at all. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but no other meat or animal-based foods Lacto-vegetarians consume milk and other dairy products, but no other animal-based foods. Ovo-lacto vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, but no other animal-based foods. Pesco-vegetarians consume fish, but no other animal-based foods. Partial vegetarians (aka flexitarians) eat a vegetarian diet the majority of the time, but may indulge in fish or poultry a few times a week. As you can see, following a plant-based diet doesn’t have to mean giving up meat entirely. You have complete freedom to choose whichever type of plant-based diet best suits your lifestyle and personal preferences. Why You Should Follow a Plant-Based Diet Plant-based diets have gotten a bad rap in the past because previous studies tended to focus on the nutritional deficiencies they may potentially cause. Today, a significant amount of rigorous scientific research shows that plant-based diets provide more than enough nutrition if properly planned and carefully followed. As a matter of fact, recent studies show that cutting back on animal-based foods (especially red meat) in favor of a plant-based diet is one of the very best things you can do for your health. Excess protein from animal sources increases your risk of kidney damage, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease and can also cause inflammation and digestive issues. In a growing number of studies, plant-based diets have been shown to prevent, treat, and even reverse heart disease. A recent analysis of several studies involving a total of more than 76,000 participants shows that on average, vegetarians are 25% less likely to die of heart disease than those following a typical American diet heavy in meats and processed foods. Put another way, this means that people who don’t follow a plant-based diet are...

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Why “Eat Your Vegetables!” is Mom’s Best Advice

Posted by on 6:01 am in Family, Featured, Holidays, Vegetables | 0 comments

Why “Eat Your Vegetables!” is Mom’s Best Advice

You probably heard it over and over as a child, and it probably made you cringe each time: “Eat your vegetables so you’ll grow up big and strong!” Moms are always giving their children advice—some good (“Treat others the way you want to be treated”), some bad (“You can be whatever you want to be, even with a liberal arts degree”), and some, well, weird (“Never wear white after Labor Day”). But the vegetables thing? Turns out she was totally right! In honor of Mother’s Day and the lovely women who raised us, we’re about to give every mother tons of validation on that particular point. You may not always have listened to your mother (“Why don’t you date someone nice for a change?”), but this is one piece of advice you’ll definitely want to take! Why You Should Always Eat Your Veggies First of all, veggies are low-fat, low-calorie, and completely cholesterol-free, so provided they’re prepared in a healthy way (i.e., not fried, battered, or drowned in dressing), you can literally eat as much of them as you want. And since vegetables are high in fiber, a nutrient that absorbs water and expands inside the digestive system, you won’t have to eat much to feel full and satisfied. Plus, a high-fiber diet helps keep your digestive system functioning optimally, which reduces constipation and helps soothe or even prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. What’s more, a diet rich in vegetables has been shown to dramatically reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease and related complications. In fact, a long-term Harvard health study recently found that individuals who ate 8 or more servings of vegetables every day were 30% less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke when compared to individuals who had 1.5 servings or less. And, despite a lack of conclusive evidence and the need for more rigorous research to be conducted, early studies suggest that eating plenty of vegetables may also reduce your risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. Finally, vegetables are chock-full of phytonutrients, special protective chemicals found only in plants that can reduce inflammation in the human body when ingested. Eating plenty of vegetables helps alleviate symptoms of inflammatory diseases like asthma, arthritis, and psoriasis. How Best to Eat Your Veggies If raw veggies gross you out, don’t panic—you can derive health benefits from vegetables in any form, whether they’re fresh, canned, frozen, dried, or juiced. Vegetables are so crucial to a healthy diet that it doesn’t really matter how you eat them, as long as you do eat them—and plenty! However, there are certain ways of preparing vegetables that will preserve more of their nutritious value. Raw veggies begin to lose nutrients as soon as they are picked, so for maximum benefits, choose locally grown veggies that are in season. Likewise, nutrients degrade when exposed to light and air, so cut your veggies into large pieces rather than chopping or dicing them, and plan to eat them as soon as they are cut. To make raw veggies more appetizing and add valuable protein, mix a packet of salad dressing seasoning with an 8-ounce carton of plain low-fat Greek yogurt and use it as a dip. If you prefer your veggies cooked, choosing methods that require the least...

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A Plate of Many Colors: Orange Foods

Posted by on 3:46 am in A Plate of Many Colors, Beta Carotene, Vegetables | 2 comments

A Plate of Many Colors: Orange Foods

In an earlier post, we introduced the PLATE OF MANY COLORS, a concept to help guide you in making smart, healthy nutrition choices. The point is to move away from BROWN—the color of fried foods and other fast-food fare—and open your eyes, your mind, and your mouth to a more colorful array of foods. Today we’re continuing our colorful series by focusing on the color ORANGE. Because we see it so rarely, the color ORANGE is almost always a surprise. It represents adventure and novelty, and seeing it inspires feelings of friendliness and enthusiasm—all excellent qualities to evoke at mealtimes! Why ORANGE is Outstanding In addition to giving your kitchen a pleasing pop of color, orange foods bring several important nutrients to the table—namely vitamins A, B6, and C. Vitamin A Vitamin A helps our bodies build bones, multiply cells, heal wounds, and fight illness. It’s also essential for maintaining good eyesight, especially at night. Research shows that a diet rich in vitamin A reduces the risk of developing eye problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and some studies suggest a diet rich in vitamin A may also help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer. Our bodies create vitamin A from carotenoids, the pigmentary plant chemicals that give orange fruits and vegetables their vibrant color. (We also derive vitamin A in the form of retinoids, but these are only available from certain animal sources, like beef liver and fish oil.) Among these pigments, the primary source of vitamin A is beta-carotene. Vitamin B6 There are 8 B-vitamins total, and together they help the body convert food into energy and keep the nervous system functioning optimally. In particular, vitamin B6—also known as pyridoxine—aids in the production of key hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for promoting healthy sleep patterns and maintaining a stable, positive mood. The body also uses B6 to produce new red blood cells and to control levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that is correlated with blood clots, heart disease, and stroke. Vitamin C Our cells are constantly undergoing damage from free radicals, natural but harmful byproducts of our bodies’ own biochemical processes. Some scientists theorize that free radicals cause the aging process, and there is growing evidence that damage done by free radicals may contribute to the development of diseases like cancer,  Alzheimer’s, and certain kinds of heart disease. This damage can be counteracted with the help of substances called antioxidants, which neutralize the destructive properties of free radicals. You can boost your body’s free radical defense system by including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants found in food, and it’s also needed to manufacture and repair all the structures that make up your body—including your skin, ligaments, bones, cartilage, and teeth. Without vitamin C, your body couldn’t heal wounds, form scar tissue, or absorb iron from your diet. (Fortunately for you, orange fruits are especially high in vitamin C!) The ORANGE Oscars Now that we’ve identified the three major nutrients orange foods have to offer, let’s take the opportunity to give our orange all-stars a standing ovation. Here’s our list of nominees, all the orange foods that are as delightful to the tongue as they are to the eyes:...

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5 Surprising Strategies for Staying Motivated

Posted by on 10:03 am in Featured, Uncategorized | 0 comments

5 Surprising Strategies for Staying Motivated

From time to time, we all struggle with staying motivated. There are days we drag our feet at work; there are projects we leave unfinished around the house; there are New Year’s resolutions we make in earnest and then completely forget about by February or March. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s an aspect of human nature. But it can be overcome. We’re here to tell you that whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve—whether your goal is to lose weight, get fit, live longer, or all three. In today’s post, we’ll share tested and true strategies for setting the right kind of goals and staying the course when the going gets rough. Tip #1: Choose to focus on actions, not outcome. Setting a goal to lose 40 pounds or to lower your cholesterol by 50 points is like setting a goal to win the lottery. It may seem like there’s a big difference, but think about it: In reality, you have no more control over your body’s ability to obey your commands than you do over the likelihood of your ticket being drawn.   Really really wanting to achieve a certain outcome won’t guarantee that you do. Planning to achieve a certain outcome won’t guarantee that you do. Trying really really hard to achieve a certain outcome won’t guarantee that you do. Goals aren’t achieved through desires and intentions—it’s our actions that drive our success. In fact, the only things in this world that you have absolute control over are your own actions and reactions. So instead of defining your goals as outcomes, which are beyond your control, define them in terms of actions—for example, “drink more water,” “pack a healthy lunch before work,” and “take a walk every evening after dinner”—and then follow through. “Things do not change; we change.” — Henry David Thoreau Tip #2: Be explicit. We’re not talking X-rated here; we mean “explicit” as in “clear-cut and well-defined.” The more specific you can be when determining the actions you plan to take, the better. Also, make sure your goals are actually measurable so you can keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable. For example, don’t just aim to “drink more water”; aim to drink 8 glasses a day. Don’t just plan to “pack a healthy lunch”; plan to pack a 400-calorie lunch with two servings of vegetables, one serving of lean protein, and one serving of fruit. Don’t just decide to “take a walk” after dinner; decide to walk three miles (or 5000 steps, or twice around your neighborhood—the unit of measurement you choose isn’t important, as long as you have some way of measuring your progress). “The barrier standing between you and the life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution.” — Brian P. Moran, The 12-Week Year Strategy #3: Keep it real. Whatever you do, resist the urge to go overboard—setting unrealistic goals is surefire self-sabotage. Work in increments if you have to. If you can’t see yourself realistically walking three miles every evening right off the bat, start with one and work your way up over time. Or be creative and find a workaround, like taking shorter walks throughout the day. The trick is to set goals you believe you can achieve;...

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Easter Eggs: Excellent or Unhealthy?

Posted by on 9:26 am in Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Family, Featured, Holidays, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Easter Eggs: Excellent or Unhealthy?

Easter eggs are tons of fun to color, hide, and hunt, but did you know they also make excellent snacks? In today’s post, we’ll tell you exactly why—and offer some helpful Easter egg safety tips to protect you and your family from foodborne illnesses. The Incredible, Edible Egg When it comes to nutrition, eggs have a bad rap that dates back to 1968, when the American Health Association arbitrarily recommended that Americans eat no more than three eggs per week to prevent cardiovascular disease. Nutritional science has come a long way since then, and we now know that while eggs do in fact contain a large amount of dietary cholesterol, they aren’t the “bad eggs” we once thought them to be. Here are four reasons eggs are truly incredible: Eggs are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that help protect your eyes from developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Eggs are protein powerhouses—a single large egg contains 6-7 grams of protein and only about 80 calories. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids, nutrients the body needs but cannot produce on its own. Eggs are chock-full of important B-vitamins, which the body uses for metabolism and for red blood cell production. The Egg Rule New research has shown no definitive link between moderate egg consumption and cardiovascular disease in otherwise healthy people. If you do not have any major health issues, you can eat one egg per day, up to 7 per week, without raising your risk of cardiovascular complications. However, you can’t just eat more eggs and expect to be perfectly healthy. To truly protect your cardiovascular health and reap the nutritional benefits that eggs have to offer, you should eat them as part of an overall healthy diet. That means making smart food choices all day long—not just at breakfast! The Egg-ception At least one study has shown an increased risk of cardiovascular complications among participants with type 2 diabetes who eat eggs frequently. If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s best to limit your egg intake to 3 or fewer whole eggs per week. Note that we said whole eggs. The yolk contains all of an egg’s cholesterol as well as most of its nutrients, so you can have as many egg whites as you want. A typical egg white contains 4 grams of protein and only 18 calories. Food Safety for Easter Eggs Hard-cooked Easter eggs can make a delicious snack once they’ve all been found, but there are steps you should take to avoid getting sick with a foodborne illness like salmonella or E. coli. When grocery shopping, only buy eggs that have been stored in a refrigerated area. Check the “sell by” date on the carton, and take a peek inside to make sure all dozen eggs are clean and uncracked. For egg decoration, use only food-safe dyes like those found in the baking aisle or in most egg dye kits (Paas is one example). Refrigerate your eggs as soon as possible after buying them, and store them in the back of the fridge where it’s coolest, not in the door. To keep eggs from absorbing the taste of strong odors in your fridge (like those from onions or fish), open the carton and flip each egg over so that it’s facing large-end...

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Speed Up Your Metabolism for Weight Loss Success

Posted by on 9:41 am in Calorie Burning, Exercise, Featured, Metabolism, Weight Loss | 0 comments

Speed Up Your Metabolism for Weight Loss Success

In our last post, we explained how skipping meals is a surefire way to sabotage your own weight loss efforts. Now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about what you can (and should) do to boost your metabolism for weight loss success—but first, let’s gain some clarity. What is Metabolism, Anyway? Your body doesn’t just need energy for physical and mental activity; it also needs energy for all the “invisible” processes that sustain you, like breathing, repairing your cells, keeping your blood flowing, and producing and regulating hormones, among others. Metabolism refers to the series of processes the human body uses to convert food into life-giving energy. The digestive process plays a part in metabolism, and so do hormones like leptin, which signals to your body that you are full, and insulin, which allows sugar from the foods you eat to enter your cells so it can be used as energy. This energy is measured in units called calories. When you read the nutrition label on a package of food, the number of calories listed represents the amount of energy you can expect your body to obtain from one serving size of that food. Your body needs a certain number of calories each day to produce the energy it takes to keep itself functioning. Metabolism and Weight If we eat more than our bodies actually need, the excess calories are stored by the body in the form of fat. In the absence of food, our bodies can “burn”—that is, metabolize—this fat for energy. (You can see this principle in action by observing how certain animals “bulk up” during the fall to help their bodies survive the winter, when food is scarce.) However, if we continue to take in more food than is required for our bodies’ energy needs, over time our bodies will store more and more fat without ever having the chance to burn any of it. With so much stored energy, the  metabolism slows down because it doesn’t have to work as hard to create energy from the food we eat. This is what causes weight gain. How to Speed Up Your Metabolism The good news is that revving up a sluggish metabolism is pretty straightforward, though the strategy may surprise you. So what’s the secret? Step 1: Work out to build muscle. Aerobic exercise is also important; it keeps your heart healthy, and it causes your metabolism to burn large amounts of calories all at once. But it’s strength training—the kind of exercise that builds lean muscle—that keeps your body burning calories around the clock. It costs more energy for your body to sustain muscle mass than it does for your body to sustain fat. This means that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your metabolism will burn—even when you’re resting or sitting at the office between workouts. Exercising to build muscle is the number one thing you can do to boost your metabolism, and that’s why we’ve listed it first. Step 2: Eat a healthy, well-balanced meal that’s high in fiber and protein every 4 hours. It takes about 4 to 5 hours for your stomach to completely empty itself after a well-balanced meal, and that’s about when you should expect to start feeling hungry again. The key here is...

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Why Skipping Meals is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

Posted by on 6:00 am in Calorie Burning, Exercise, Featured, Weight Loss | 0 comments

Why Skipping Meals is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

Detour to Disaster Sometimes we get impatient on the path to weight loss and start looking for shortcuts. It’s understandable that when you have someplace you really want to be, you want to get there as fast as possible. But rather than being a weight-loss shortcut, skipping meals is more like a bad detour—the kind that sends you in the opposite direction over a much bumpier path.  Why Skipping Meals Doesn’t Work for Weight Loss Your body depends on energy to function, and it gets that energy from the calories in the food you eat. So what happens when you start skipping meals? First of all, food leaves the stomach completely in about 4 ½ hours. If you skip one meal, you’re going to be twice as hungry at the next, which means you’re likely to eat twice as much. You may think this would even itself out—after all, you’re still eating the same amount of food per day, just in fewer sittings—but when you skip a meal, your body has no way of knowing when your next meal will be, so it enters survival mode and slows down your metabolism to make your energy reserves last longer. A slower metabolism means that your body begins storing fat and calories rather than burning them, which makes it harder for you to lose weight in the long run. This stored fat is a big problem. Most of it tends to settle around the abdominal region, which is exactly where you least want it to form. Called visceral fat, it has been shown to raise cholesterol, increase the risk of heart disease, and cause insulin resistance, a major contributing factor in type 2 diabetes.  In addition to forming unwanted and unhealthy visceral fat, skipping meals can also sabotage your efforts at getting in shape. Without enough food energy to support strenuous physical activity, your body can’t perform at an optimal level and you won’t get the full benefit from your workouts. Plus, when you go for too long without getting enough calories from carbohydrates and fat, your body is forced to start burning protein for energy—which means your body has less material for building muscle mass. How Skipping Meals Can Make You a Lousy Date Skipping meals isn’t just bad for your waistline; if your goal is to be attractive, deliberately skipping meals is about the worst thing you can do. It robs your body of the vitamins and minerals that make your hair and skin look healthy and vibrant, so they appear dull and lifeless instead. And you can’t make up for these vitamin deficiencies by just taking supplements: Most vitamins are fat-soluble, which means your body can’t put them to use unless you get enough fat in your diet each day.  What’s more, the act of chewing food produces saliva, which is needed to cleanse your mouth of bacteria. Fewer meals means decreased saliva production. Decreased saliva production leads to more bacteria, which causes—you guessed it—bad breath! You could try chewing sugar-free gum all day instead, but we don’t recommend it: The artificial sweeteners used in gum are notorious for causing intestinal gas. (Which reminds us: Can we talk constipation for a minute? Your body uses an ongoing process of involuntary muscle movements called peristalsis to propel food through the digestive tract. The key...

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