Friday, January 22, 2010

Lucille Roberts: Good and Bad Drinks That Impact Your Weight Loss Efforts

When it comes to losing weight, you may want to consider altering more than just your eating habits – what you drink counts, too! By substituting sugary sodas and energy drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages with healthier alternatives such as water, green tea and vegetable juice, you can boost both your metabolism and success rate for shedding those unwanted extra pounds. Below is a list of five quick fixes you can make today to start you down the road towards slimness.

Poor Drink Choice #1: Soda - Due to its large quantities of calories and making up for 10 percent of the caloric intake of the average American, soda consumption is without a doubt a significant contributor to weight gain. In fact, it would take approximately 27 minutes of walking to burn off one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola-Classic. Moreover, with such a high concentration of both sugar and starch, soda may also contribute to appetite increases and overeating.

Healthy Alternative: Fruit Juice – Loaded with vitamins and nutrients, fruit juice with natural pulp and very low quantities of sugar can actually help you feel more full, often curbing your appetite so that you will not overeat at your next meal.

Poor Drink Choice #2: Coffee Drinks - While drinking a two-calorie cup of black coffee in the morning will not put a dent in your calorie-reduction efforts, a venti-sized Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks will sabotage your hard work, accounting for an entire meal's worth of calories. At a whopping 660 calories, this popular coffee drink among caffeine cravers is a definite “no-no” for anyone trying to slim down.

Healthy Alternative: Green Tea - With a plethora of positive health benefits and plenty of helpful antioxidants, consuming 3 to 5 cups of green tea on a daily basis can boost your metabolism and speed up your body’s fat-burning mechanism by up to 40%.

Poor Drink Choice #3: Smoothies – Although a smoothie made from only ice and frozen fruit serves as a healthy and refreshing snack, beware of high-calorie frozen drinks made with enormous amounts of sugar. Jamba Juice’s 30-ounce Peanut Butter Moo’d Power Smoothie, chiming in at an unheard of 1,170 calories and 169 grams of sugar, accounts for 4 days worth of the recommended allowance of sugar.

Healthy Alternative: Fruit Smoothies – Fruit smoothies made from your favorite fruit and a touch of skim milk are among the top five healthy drinks to help you lose weight. Just be sure not to consume any fruit smoothie that contains caloric giants such as added sugar, whipped cream, honey or other sweeteners and your healthy selection will surely pay off.

Poor Drink Choice #4: Energy Drinks – Accounting for $3.4 billion a year in revenue, popular energy drinks such as Red Bull contain massive amounts of sugar – there are 27 grams of sugar in one 8.3-ounce can of Red Bull. While it may “give you wings,” this energy drink will also affect your metabolism adversely, often leading to undesired and inevitable weight gain.

Healthy Alternative: Ice Cold Water – Most of your drowsiness in the morning is a result of overnight dehydration, therefore, reaching for a refreshing glass of ice cold water may provide the boost you are looking for. You will also burn an extra 200 calories a day drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water, while boosting your metabolism up to 30%.

Poor Drink Choice #5: Beer – With the average light beer accounting for just over 100 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates, its effect on weight gain may only be minimal. However, keep in mind that it would take a total of three hours and 20 minutes to walk off drinking one can of beer a night for a week.

Healthy Alternative: None - Since beer contains the macronutrient alcohol, a healthy alternative that offers the “buzz” you are looking for simply does not exist. Yet, drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages in moderation is a much healthier alternative to late-night binge drinking.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exercise Improves Memory for Older Women

BMJ Group, Tuesday 12 January 2010 00.00 GMT
Article history

Exercise might improve mental sharpness for older people starting to suffer from memory loss, researchers say. However, the benefits were seen mainly in women, and required an intensive, six-month exercise programme.
What do we know already?

Researchers have hoped for some time that exercise might have positive effects for the brain, perhaps by improving blood flow. If the benefits were proven, exercise would be used as a way for older people to prevent memory loss, or even Alzheimer's disease.

So far, research shows that older people who are more active are less likely to have memory problems, but it may just be that healthier, mentally sharper people find it easier to get out and exercise. There have also been some promising animal studies.

In a new trial, researchers asked older adults with slight memory problems to complete a six-month, high-intensity aerobic exercise programme. People exercised for up to an hour, supervised by a trainer, four times a week. They were compared with a second group, who did a more relaxed set of stretching exercises. The average age was 70.
What does the new study say?

Women who exercised intensively improved more in tests looking at things like memory and verbal fluency, compared with women who just did stretching. The researchers don't say whether the improvements were large enough to make a difference in day-to-day life.

For men, there was no clear improvement in most of the tests, despite the fact that men's fitness levels had improved the same amount as the women.
How reliable are the findings?

The main problem with the study is that it's very small. It started with just 33 people in total, and four dropped out before the end. Studies with fewer people tend to be less reliable, especially when you're looking at treatments that only have a small effect.
Where does the study come from?

Several of the researchers were based at the University of Washington, in Seattle. The study appeared in Archives of Neurology, published by the American Medical Association.

Funding came from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and from the Alzheimer's Association.
What does this mean for me?

The exercise programme used in the trial was quite strenuous. People had been carefully selected to be able to cope, but even so, four of the 23 people doing the intensive programme dropped out because of problems like chest or joint pain. So, it might be that not all older people would be able to complete this type of exercise programme.

The people in the study were aged between 55 and 85, and all had mild problems with their memory. So, we don't know if the results apply to healthy people, or to people with serious memory problems because of Alzheimer's disease.
What should I do now?

It's still too early to say what effects exercise has on how mentally sharp you are. But we know that exercise can protect your health and help keep you fit generally, so it makes sense to stay as active as your health allows. Government guidelines recommend about 30 minutes' exercise, five days a week.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lucille Roberts - How to Make Your Commitment to Diet and Exercise Easier

Like any commitment in life, sticking to a healthy diet and exercise program can be a challenge – often draining you both emotionally and mentally in the process. If you have ever tried to develop newer, healthier eating or exercise habits, then you know just how difficult it can be to eat right, stay motivated and stick to a plan that works for you. Fortunately, with the right tips and a little bit of knowledge on the subject, you can develop a lifelong commitment to healthy eating and exercise that will help you look and feel your best while improving your overall health and wellbeing!

Keep a Journal - Start by keeping a journal with a list of all the foods you eat in a given day. Your journal can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be – some people simply jot down the foods they eat while others prefer counting calories or calculating macronutrients such as total carbohydrate, protein and fat grams consumed.

Not only is a food journal a great way to keep you on track, but it also shows you which foods are stifling your progress. If you avoid fatty foods such as French fries for a month and decide to indulge in Aussie cheese fries from Outback Steakhouse – check your weight the following day. If you gain a pound or two, you know to keep those greasy fries off your plate in the future. On the contrary, if you want to continue eating the fries, you may decide to cut 250 calories from your daily diet to make up for it. A journal is a great tool for that, too.

Feel free to include your exercise sessions in your journal, complete with the activity, duration, intensity and calories burned. Logging your exercises is a great way to track your progress, giving you a sense of purpose and direction while at the gym.

Get Involved in a Support Group
- If you are just starting out your journey towards healthy eating, you will definitely benefit from talking to, or simply being around, like-minded people. Peer support is a great motivational tool for any type of commitment, and diet and exercise are no exception. There are plenty of support groups and clubs available, both locally and over the Internet (Weight Watchers, for example), designed to keep you motivated and connected with people on the same path as you.

Set Realistic Short and Long-Term Goals
- Never underestimate the power of setting realistic goals in both your eating habits and exercise program. For example, if you would like to take up a cardiovascular activity such as running, avoid going from the couch to a 3-mile run in one week. Set small goals for yourself and you will stay motivated and excited about making progress each time you exercise.

Depending on your current fitness level, you may want to start by jogging for 90 seconds, followed by a brisk, 3-minute walk and then another 90 seconds of jogging – repeating this process for twenty to thirty minutes. The next week, you can try jogging 3-minutes intervals followed by a 3-minute walk, gradually increasing the interval times until you reach your long-term goal (jogging 3 miles, for example).

Short and long-term goals work great for your diet, too. Feel free to set daily goals, monthly goals and yearly goals to keep you motivated. An example of a daily goal would be consuming a set number of calories, where a monthly goal may be to lose ten pounds. Write your goals down and keep them in your journal so that you have objective evidence about the progress you are making.