Tuesday, July 16, 2013

De-Bloat Your Diet//1. Breakfast c Mitch Mandel

1. Breakfast

Best: Fresh fruit and organic yogurt.
"The fruit is full of nutrients. And probiotics in the yogurt help with digestion." (Search: What are probiotics?)

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Worst: Anything high in salt.
"Think bacon or sausage, because the salt is just going to make you balloon."

De-Bloat Your Diet//2. Lunch c Mitch Mandel

2. Lunch

Best: Fish and a veggie salad.
"Use green peppers, cucumbers, and lots of lettuce, because they have a ton of water--which fills you up." (Related video: 3 Protein-Packed Salads)

Worst: French fries. "They're saturated in oil and covered in salt. If you eat something like that, you're not going to look cute. You're going to look puffy."

De-Bloat Your Diet//3. Dinner c

3. Dinner

Best: Grilled chicken and vegetables.
"I like steamed asparagus or spinach sauteed with lemon and garlic."

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Worst: Pizza.
"It's bread and cheese. And cheese can be high in salt and fat."    

De-Bloat Your Diet//4. Dessert c Thinkstock

4. Dessert

Best: Organic berries and dark chocolate.
"They're actually good for you."   

Worst: A candy bar.
"It's pure garbage. It's artificial everything"

De-Bloat Your Diet//5. Snack at the Movies c Mitch Mandel

5. Snack at the Movies

Best: Bring your own.
"I sneak in Popchips or Green & Black's organic chocolate. I just paid $15 for the ticket, I'm not going to ruin my health too."   

Worst: Popcorn.
"It's got a gazillion milligrams of sodium and around 1,200 calories."

De-Bloat Your Diet//6. Fast Food c Subway

6. Fast Food

Best: The vegetarian sandwich from Subway.
"It's all veggies, and low in calories. I add avocado."

Worst: Fried chicken.
"Deep-fried, nonorganic chicken with those gooey sauces: pure sugar, fat, and salt--with hormones on top!"

Monday, July 15, 2013

7 Foods That Help You Sleep

7 Foods That Help You Sleep


They’re not just for pie filling: Cherries contain melatonin, a compound that plays a part in healthy sleep. “Melatonin may help regulate sleep-wake cycles,” Moore says, “especially for people experiencing a disruption to the body’s internal clock, like night-shift workers.”

Best bet: Keep cherries fresh longer by storing them in the refrigerator and washing them just before eating.

Other sources of melatonin: Oats, sweet corn, rice

Tuck in With Turkey

tuck in with turkey

This deli counter staple contains an amino acid called tryptophan. “Tryptophan helps the body produce the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin, which has been shown to aid in relaxation and sleep,” says Marisa Moore, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Best bet: It takes about an hour for tryptophan to act on your brain, so plan your night noshing accordingly.

Other sources of tryptophan: Chicken, tuna, soy foods, whole-grain bread
Try this: Get a double dose of tryptophan by combining turkey and whole-grain bread.

Soy Story

soy story

Calcium-fortified soy milk boasts two sleep-boosting nutrients: tryptophan, which increases the snooze-inducing serotonin in the brain, and calcium, which helps your body use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin, another natural sleep aid.

Best bet: Heat it up a bit—some people find a warm drink is more relaxing than something straight from the fridge.

Other sources of calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt

Tea for Tonight

tea for tonight

A warm cup of tea before bed can soothe and relax you—but only if it’s decaffeinated. Chamomile tea fits the bill. Plus, chamomile is traditionally used as a sleepy-time herb.

Best bet: Make your tea strong. Use one chamomile tea bag, but cut the water in half—drinking too much liquid before bed will have you getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

Another relaxing tea: Mint tea

Cereal Filler

cereal filler

Cereal made with whole grains such as wheat or oats help with sleep in two ways: First, whole-grain cereal contains the snooze-inducing amino acid tryptophan. Second, the fiber and complex carbohydrates in whole-grain cereal increase insulin in the blood, which may help more tryptophan get to the brain.

Best bet: Whole-grain cereal with little or no added sugar.

Other sources of whole grains: Oatmeal, whole-grain bread

Nut Case

nut case

Cashews are a rich source of magnesium. Research has found that people whose diets are low in magnesium may have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep than those who get enough magnesium. According to the National Institutes of Health, substantial numbers of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of magnesium. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you may be one of them.

Best bet: Keep sodium to a minimum by choosing unsalted cashews.

Other sources of magnesium: Whole grains, milk, green leafy vegetables, other nuts

Beef Up

beef up

The National Institutes of health says that 12 million Americans have restless legs syndrome (RLS), a condition that can interfere with sleep by causing an irresistible urge to move the legs. RLS can be caused by a deficiency of iron or vitamin B-12, and beef is an excellent source of both.

Best bet: Combine beef with foods such as bread that contain folic acid, which may also be in short supply among people with RLS.

Other sources of iron and B-12: Tuna, chicken

Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 Surprising Foods Nutritionists Would Never Eat - Some of Them Are "Healthy"

Salad with Dressing photo
It's no secret that nutritionists and dietitians recommend eating a balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And while many eat-right gurus shy away from foods high in sugar, calories and fat, there are a number of items sitting on the supermarket shelves today that are downright frightening. (A drink that doubles as hair dye? A scent that has been proven to cause respiratory toxicity?)

Fat-Free Salad Dressing

Don’t muck up your gorgeous colorful, healthy, salad by dressing it with a bottled fat-free salad dressing, advises Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, author of The New You and Improved Diet (http://www.nutritiouslife.com). “Although these dressings typically have less calories, they are filled with a long list of not-so-pretty ingredients.” A few of these unattractive items include sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors (such as yellow 5, yellow 6 and caramel colors, which is an ingredient found in soda). “The way I see it, salad dressing should have fat!” she adds. “The fat helps keep you satisfied—among many positive traits—and helps you absorb all of those great nutrients found in the salad itself. Think about it: Would you buy veggies that are ‘vitamin and mineral free?’ So don't eat salad dressing that is ’fat free.’”

Fat-Free or Light Yogurt

This other popular “good for you” food has also made the no-no list. “One of the most pervasive food myths is the idea that consuming dietary fat makes you fat,” explains Shira Lenchewski, RD, founder of the Work+Play Method™ (http://www.shirard.com). “But truthfully, consuming any macronutrient (meaning carbohydrate, protein or fat) in excess will result in weight gain. The fact is, fat adds flavor, and when it’s removed, sweeteners and artificial flavors are typically added in its place. And trust me: that is not a good thing!”

Bright colored yogurt

It’s not just about how much fat is in your yogurt, but which ingredients are in it, as well. “Yogurt is meant to contain simply two ingredients—milk and cultures, a white and creamy healthy treat,” says Glassman. “Bright pink and bright blue may be pretty shades to wear, but they do not belong in yogurt since these colors are created with unnatural dyes and added sugars.” If you’re looking to liven up your breakfast or snack with color and flavor, Glassman advises going the old fashioned route and tossing in fresh berries.


Speaking about sweeteners…also known as sucralose, this additive is marketed as a “natural” product because is made from sugar. However, this statement is misleading—because sucralose does not exist anywhere in nature. “In reality, it’s made from sucrose—table sugar—in a lab via a slew of harsh chemicals,” states Lenchewski. “During the process, oxygen and hydrogen are exchanged for chlorine—yes, as in pool water!” As a result, this switch actually makes Splenda 600 times sweeter than table sugar. “And because sucralose is so much sweeter than natural sugar, it can over-stimulate the sugar receptors, making you crave intensely sweet foods throughout the day. No, thank you!”

Egg Beaters

If you think you’re eating smart by buying these “healthy” eggs in a carton, think again! “An egg substitute contains over 20 ingredients, including egg whites, coloring, vegetable gums, maltodextrin, spices, and vitamins and minerals native to egg yolks,” explains Lenchewksi. While the product is marketed as “all the goodness of real eggs, only better,” in truth, whole eggs are really the gold standard when it comes to quality protein. “Sure, whole eggs have cholesterol, but we’ve learned that dietary cholesterol is different from blood cholesterol, i.e. LDL,” she says. “Egg yolks not only contain essential fatty acids and vitamin D, but they are also one of the richest dietary sources of choline, a multipurpose B vitamin involved in brain function, mood, memory and anti-inflammation. And let’s be honest, is there anything better than a gooey egg yolk on a Sunday morning?”

Kool-Aid Soft Drink Mix

Sure, this classic make-it-yourself beverage contains sugar and empty calories, and while it may be a no-brainer that sipping green tea is far more beneficial, Jackie Newgent, Newgent, RDN, CDN, author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes (http://jackienewgent.com/ ), would yell “No way!” after the Kool-Aid Man would exclaim “Oh, yeah!” for a couple of other reasons. “This drink is so wrong in so many ways,” she states. “First of all, you won’t find neon blue or any other artificial Kool-Aid colors in nature anywhere, which is horrifying. But if that isn’t reason enough, let me just say this: I won’t drink anything that potentially works best as the preferred hair dye for teens!”

Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn

The label on the bag may read 94% fat-free or 100 calories, but Newgent would rather go hungry while watching a movie than touch this snack. “The typical version is a whole grain ingredient gone awry by way of trans fat, fake flavor, and more,” she says. In fact, a 2012 study published in The American Journal of Pathology states that the ingredient which gives microwaved buttered flavored popcorn its buttery flavor and scent (2,3-pentanedione, also known as PD), can cause respiratory toxicity! “Plus, that smell…come on, your nose knows it’s just not right!”

Rice Cakes

“Rice cakes remind me of the ‘low-fat diet’ days when nobody looked at sugar grams or carbohydrate quality,” states Lenchewski. While this snack contains limited calories, she believes its lack of taste will lead down a destructive path. “Traditional diet foods don’t work because they always leave you wanting more,” she explains. “And although most rice cakes aren’t more than 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates, they literally taste like air, so you can wind up eating way more than you bargained for. I’m all for truly enjoying everything I eat, while I’m eating it, and then moving on. Let’s leave rice cakes in the past, with dial-up Internet and Bennifer.”

Spray Can Cheese

Keep in mind that convenience isn’t always a good. “Just because you can fit something in a can, doesn’t mean it belongs there,” says Newgent. Ranking number one on the ick factor is knowing that a few versions of this non-refrigerated item does not even contain cheese—it is made with additives, chemicals and coloring agents that mimic the taste (and smell) of the dairy favorite. “This pseudo cheese product—along with its science experiment-sounding preservatives—is so far from the real thing, even the cows are appalled!”

Cheese Doodles

Glassman finds this faux cheese product equally as sickening. “Do we really even need to say why?” she asks. “If a food is not the color nature intended, you can pretty much bet that it is pretty awful for your body. “Yes, of course some foods like beets make great natural colors, but fluorescent orange? Now that would be one pretty plant that I would love to see! I’ll be waiting…”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

12 Superfoods for Faster Weight Loss

Eat up and slim down with these fat-fighting foods.

Our old American diet has cost us dearly: One in three of us is now overweight or obese, and a third of American children will develop diabetes in their lifetimes. But the answer isn’t eating less food—it’s eating more of the right foods: 12 of them in particular, called the New American Diet Superfoods. Read on for the list of 12, and for more secrets on how to lose weight and keep it off for good, order your copy of The New American Diet.

Nuts are New American Diet smart bombs. They’re packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, those good-for-you fats that lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and, according to new research, help you control your appetite.
Researchers from Georgia Southern University found that eating a high-protein, high-fat snack, such as almonds, increases your calorie burn for up to 3 1/2 hours. And just 1 ounce of almonds boosts vitamin E levels, increasing memory and cognitive performance, according to researchers at New York Presbyterian Hospital. In another study, people who ate pistachios for 3 months lost 10 to 12 pounds, on average. Follow these 10 strategies for successful weight loss and you're guaranteed to reach your goal.

Whole Grains
It's not a magic disappearing act, but it's close: When Harvard University researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people over 8 years, they discovered that those who ate whole grains daily weighed 2.5 pounds less than those who ate only refined-grain foods.
Another study from Penn State University found that whole-grain eaters lost 2.4 times more belly fat than those who ate refined grains. Whole grains more favorably affect blood-glucose levels, which means they don’t cause wild swings in blood sugar and ratchet up cravings after you eat them. Plus, the antioxidants in whole grains help control inflammation and insulin (a hormone that tells your body to store belly fat). Whole grains also strengthen your heart, helping you live longer. Add even more years to your life by eating these 40 age-erasing superfoods.

Avocados and Other Healthy Fats
Just because a food has plenty of fat and calories doesn’t mean it’s fattening. See, certain foods cause you to gain weight because they provoke hormonal changes that trigger cravings, or “rebound hunger.” One hunger-control hormone, leptin, becomes blunted by starchy, sweet, fatty, and refined-carbohydrate foods. That's why a bagel is fattening: It's a high-calorie load of refined carbohydrates that double-crosses your natural satisfaction response. Avocados, on the other hand, aren't fattening, because they’re loaded with healthy fat and fiber and don't cause wild swings in insulin levels. So enjoy the fat in avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Research shows that diets containing upward of 50 percent fat are just as effective for weight loss as those that are low in fat. Discover the New Laws of Leanness.

Meats (Pasture-Raised and Free-Range)
Grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork are leaner and healthier than conventional livestock—and can help trim away pounds. A 3.5-ounce serving of grass-fed beef has only 2.4 grams of fat, compared with 16.3 grams for conventionally raised beef. In fact, grass-fed beef is so much more nutritious than commodity beef that it's almost a different food.
Grass-fed beef contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat while building lean muscle. It also has more omega-3s and less omega-6s than corn-fed beef. It’s the same with chickens. According to a recent study in the journal Poultry Science, free-range chickens have significantly more omega-3s than grain-fed chickens do, and less harmful fat and fewer calories than grain-fed varieties. This is important because omega-3s improve your mood, boost your metabolism, sharpen your brain, and help you lose weight. Click here to learn the truth about packaged meat.

Environmentally Sustainable Fish
Choosing seafood these days isn't easy. Some species (swordfish, farmed salmon) contain obesity-promoting pollutants (dioxins, PCBs). Others are fattened with soy, which lowers their levels of healthy omega-3s. In fact, the American Heart Association recently urged people who are concerned about heart disease to avoid eating tilapia for just that reason. Wow. That goes against conventional wisdom, doesn’t it?
So what kind of fish should you eat, and how can the New American Diet help? Generally, small, oily ocean fish (herring, mackerel, sardines) are low in toxins and score highest in omega-3s. Wild Alaskan salmon, Pacific halibut, rainbow trout, and yellowfin tuna are generally low in toxins and high in nutrients. And then there are fish that we should avoid at all times: farmed (or “Atlantic”) salmon, farmed tilapia, Atlantic cod, Chilean sea bass, and farmed shrimp. (Follow this simple guide to prepare perfect fish every time.)

Raspberries and Other Berries
A recent study by researchers at Yale University school of medicine discovered that after eating a high-carb, high-sugar meal, free radicals (rogue molecules produced when your body breaks down food) attack the neurons that tell us when we’re full. The result: It’s hard to judge when hunger is satisfied. Escape the cycle of overindulgence by eating foods that are rich in antioxidants. And berries top the charts.
The berries that give you the most antioxidant bang per bite, in order: cranberries, black currents, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates. For a delicious way to add berries to your diet, try these smoothie recipes.

Instant Oats
Fiber is the secret to losing weight without going hungry. One U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that those who increased their daily fiber intake from 12 grams to 24 absorbed 90 fewer calories per day than those who ate the same amount of food but less fiber.
Instant oats are one of the easiest ways to get more real fiber into your diet. (Click to learn all the facts about fiber.) Plus, new research indicates that oats can also cut your risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and even reduce your risk of weight gain. Oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, so they deliver steady muscle-building energy. Choose oatmeal that contains whole oats and low sodium, like Uncle Sam Instant Oatmeal, which also has whole-grain wheat flakes and flaxseed.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Other Folate-Rich Greens
The more folate you have in your diet, the lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s and depression. And a recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose 8.5 times more weight when dieting. And cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and bok choy, are not only rich in folate, they’re also rich in potassium. Researchers at the Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University, found that foods rich in potassium help preserve lean muscle mass. Another stunner: New research shows that folate helps protect against damage from estrogenic chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA), which have been linked to obesity. Use this guide to discover which foods pack the most nutritional benefit.

Apples and Other Fruits
What makes the apple so potent? In part, it’s because most of us eat the peel: It’s a great way to add fiber and nutrients to your diet. But there’s a downside: The peel is where the fruit tends to absorb and retain most of the pesticides they are exposed to, apples and peaches being the worst offenders. That’s why, for maximum weight-loss potential, we strongly recommend you buy organic versions of apples, pears, peaches, and other eat-the-peel fruits.
You’ll experience a terrific payoff if you do: In a UCLA study, normal-weight people reported eating, on average, two servings of fruit and 12 grams of fiber a day; those who were overweight had just one serving and 9 g. Credit that extra 3 g of fiber—the amount in one single apple or orange—as the difference maker. Use these tips to pick the freshest, most nutrient-dense produce.

Navy Beans and Other Legumes
Study after study reveals that bean eaters live longer and weigh less. One study showed that people who eat 3/4 cup of beans daily weigh 6.6 pounds less than those who don't eat beans. Another study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who eat one and a half servings of beans a day (3/4 cup) have lower blood pressure and smaller waist sizes than those who skip beans in favor of other proteins. Imagine each bean you eat is a perfect little weight-loss pill. Gobble ’em up! Follow these 7 strategies to lose weight without ever feeling hungry.

Dark Chocolate
A new study from Denmark found that those who eat dark chocolate consume 15 percent fewer calories at their next meal and are less interested in fatty, salty, and sugary foods. And research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol, decrease the risk of blood clots, and increase blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with improved mood and greater concentration; it's rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and it contains theobromine, a stimulant that delivers a different kind of buzz, sans the jitters. Dark chocolate is also one of the best foods for better sex.

Ice Cream and Other Healthy Desserts
Calcium-rich desserts like ice cream bind to fatty acids in the digestive tract, blocking their absorption. In one study, participants who ate 1,735 mg of calcium from low-fat dairy products (about as much as in five 8-ounce glasses of milk) blocked the equivalent of 85 calories a day. Plus, half a cup of vanilla ice cream gives you 19 milligrams of choline, which translates to protection from cancer, heart attack, stroke, and dementia. We’re not suggesting you have a bowlful of ice cream every night. But a scoop (the size of a tennis ball) every few days isn’t the diet saboteur it’s made out to be.
For even more tips that will transform your body—and your health—check out this food prescription from The New American Diet.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gluttony, Sloth and Not Counting Calories: How to Avoid Common Weight Loss Errors

by Kathleen Donnelly for MSN Health & Fitness

High on any list of weight loss mistakes you'd expect to find one of the original seven deadly sins: gluttony. And if gluttony means regularly consuming portion sizes that might be best measured in bushels, many of us are going to have more than one problem when it comes to fitting through the Pearly Gates.

"It's not the food, it's how much you're eating," says Jane Kirby, a registered dietitian and author of the recently revised guide, "Dieting for Dummies" (John Wiley & Sons, 2003). "People on a low-carb diet might think, 'I can eat all the ham and Swiss cheese rollups dipped in mayonnaise that I want.'" She sighs. "No, you can't. It's portion, portion, portion."

We've known about at least one deadly sin of weight loss for a long, long time: Eating too much too often is not a winning strategy. It doesn't matter that ham and cheese is low in carbohydrates, or, for that matter, that bagels are fat-free. You cannot eat more calories than you expend day after day and expect to have a happy experience on the scale.

This brings us to a second big mistake many dieters make:

Trusting in a miracle diet. We all want weight loss to be quick and easy, and if it means six weeks of eating nothing but somebody's secret recipe for slimming soup, we'll do it. Unfortunately, it's not taking off the pounds that bedevils many dieters, it's keeping them off. That's why many weight loss researchers prefer the term "weight management" to "dieting." Staying fit and healthy – and at a reasonable weight – is not something you do for six weeks. It's a lifelong commitment. And no one can eat that much soup.

Not counting calories. At its most basic, losing weight is a matter of taking in fewer calories than you expend. So as tedious as it sounds, Kirby says calories do count, and counting them can help you stay on track. For example, ignoring the nibbles and sips you take each day can foil your weight loss plans. An energy bar and a sugary sports drink – even if you consume them at the gym – both count toward your daily calorie total.

Eating too little. If eating too much is bad, shouldn't sealing your lips to everything but leafy greens and an all-purpose vitamin work? Not necessarily. Eating too few calories may slow your metabolism, the process your cells use to burn food and create energy. Researchers vary on how few calories it takes before you slip into starvation mode and begin conserving calories, and the number depends on your own body and activity level. But as a general rule, Kirby says, going below about 800 calories a day may be counterproductive.

Expecting too much. How much weight do you want to lose, and how fast do you want to lose it? If the answer gets you back to your junior high weight in a week or two, it's probably not a reasonable goal. Keep in mind, says Kirby, that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight – that's 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds – can provide health benefits as well as make you feel like a winner.* Once you attain that goal, you can always set another.

Skipping exercise (also known as sloth). Let's revisit the calories in vs. calories out concept: Exercise burns calories. Therefore, add exercise to your routine and the "calories out" part of your equation jumps up. But just as important, says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, is what exercise does for your resting metabolism. It takes more energy to maintain lean tissue than it does to maintain fat. So, by building your lean tissue, exercise helps you burn calories even when you are not moving. Because of this, Bryant adds, research shows that people who are physically active are more likely to keep weight off once they lose it.

Neglecting your exit strategy. No matter how you choose to lose weight – especially if you opt for a "miracle diet" – make a plan for keeping the weight off. You've come too far to go back to your old eating and exercise habits, which led to weight gain in the first place.

"One big deadly mistake is thinking that you are going on a diet, and when it's over, that's it," says Kirby. "If people can think more about doing something good for themselves, as opposed to denying themselves, I think they'll find it a more successful strategy."

Correction, September 16, 2005: This article originally stated that losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight would equate to "10 to 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds" which is inaccurate. This error has been corrected. Return to the corrected sentence.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Could Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?

People who drank two glasses prior to eating dropped more prounds, study found
By Jenifer GoodwinHealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay News) -- Close the diet books and skip the pills. The latest weight-loss trick may be as simple as gulping a couple of glasses of water before you eat.

A new study found that middle-aged and older adults who drank two cups of water before each meal consumed fewer calories and lost more weight than those who skipped drinking water.

Researchers divided two groups of overweight and obese men and women aged 55 to 75 into two groups: one group was told to follow a low-fat, low-calorie diet; the other group was told to follow the same diet and to drink two cups of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After 12 weeks, those who drank water before meals had lost 15.5 pounds, compared to 11 pounds for the non-water drinkers, a nearly 30 percent difference.

The researchers got the idea for the weight-loss program from their prior research, which found that when middle-aged and older adults drank water before meals, they ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories at the meal.

What they weren't sure about, however, was if water drinkers would compensate by eating more throughout the rest of the day, said senior study author Brenda Davy, an associate professor in the department of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech. But after 12 weeks of dieting, that didn't happen.

"Drinking more water is a pretty simple strategy that may be helpful to people trying to lose weight," Davy said. "We're not saying, 'Drink more water and the body fat will melt away'. But for people who are trying to lose weight and trying to follow a low-cal diet, it's something they can do as part of that."

The research was to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

One of the most vexing issues with dieting is how difficult it is to keep the weight off long-term, Davy said. After the 12 weeks were up, Davy and her colleagues have continued to follow the participants.

After one year, preliminary data shows that those who continued to drink water before meals not only kept those pounds off, but have even continued to lose a bit more -- about 1.5 pounds on average.

Yet pre-meal water chugging comes with one caveat: it may only work if you're middle-aged or older, Davy said.

Prior research has shown that in those aged 18 to 35, drinking water before the meal did not cause them to eat fewer calories at the meal, Davy said.

In older people, it takes longer for the stomach to empty, which may be why the water helps them feel fuller and less hungry, while in younger people, water begins leaving the stomach almost immediately, Davy said.

Barry Popkin, director of the University of North Carolina Nutrition Obesity Research Center, called the findings "promising." His research has shown people who drinks lots of water drink fewer sugary beverages, eat more fruits and vegetables and overall consume fewer calories throughout the day.

One culprit in the obesity epidemic is that Americans consume some 300 calories more a day in sugary beverages than they did 30 years ago, Popkin added. That includes soda, punch and fruit juices with added sugar, sports drinks and sweetened tea.

"If you drink some more water right before a meal and fill up a little bit right before, there is the potential you may reduce your food intake," Popkin said. "But what we're concerned with is encouraging people to drink water to replace all the caloric beverages we're drinking."

Another challenge to the water-before-meals weight-loss strategy is getting people to do it, said Carla Wolper, an assistant professor in the Eating Disorders Center at Columbia University and a research faculty member at the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City.

"The question is, do people continue to drink the water in a non-study situation?" Wolper said. "We know there are a lot of simple things people could do to lose weight. Clinical trials have shown if people write down what they eat, they lost twice as much weight. Yet it's very hard to get people to write down what they eat. Or, if people would reduce portions just a little bit, they would lose weight. But people don't do it."

The same goes for drinking more water. Even seemingly small changes require commitment. "Changing a pattern of behavior is complicated, and requires time and energy," Wolper said.

Still, it could be worth a try, she added. "Unless people overload on water, it's harmless, inexpensive. And if over the course of the entire day, it reduces the amount of food people take in, then of course it's a good idea," Wolper said.

Dieticians often will suggest a non-caloric drink such as club soda with lemon, diet soda or tea to help resist the urge to snack after dinner, Wolper said.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more on eating a healthy diet.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Best Foods for Focus

Odd as it sounds, the workplace can be entirely counterproductive to getting work done. Consider: As soon as you sit down in the morning, your phone lights up, your e-mail account nags, and the morning headlines cry for your attention. Even when you actually start working, your mind might be in 10 other places, causing to you slog through the day with minimal progress. Face it—our daily lives are chock-full of distractions, much more so than they ever used to be.
But there’s still hope for productivity: You can counteract that wandering mind by monitoring how you fuel it. In fact, studies show that you can be up to 200 percent more productive if you make the right eating choices. Here are seven super foods to help you battle the brain drain.

To Calm Your Nerves
Low-Fat Yogurt or Mixed Nuts
Scientists in Slovakia gave people 3 grams each of two amino acids—lysine and arginine—or a placebo, and asked them to deliver a speech. Blood measurements of stress hormones revealed that the amino acid-fortified guys were half as anxious during and after the speech as those who took the placebo. Yogurt is one of the best food sources of lysine; nuts pack loads of arginine.
Bonus tip: Eating healthily doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, if you are consistently eating well, you may be less apt to splurge on food cravings. Just make sure to avoid these 30 “Healthy” Foods That Aren’t.

For Long-Term Memory
Antioxidants in blueberries help protect the brain from free-radical damage, which could decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and improve cognitive processing. Wild blueberries, if you can find them—check the freezer section—have even more brain-boosting antioxidants than the cultivated variety.
Bonus tip: Blueberries might seem like a splurge, but buy them frozen and you’ll still reap the benefits. They make a healthy and tasty mid-afternoon snack or even appetizer. Sign up for a free e-mail newsletter.

For Short-Term Memory
Fresh-brewed joe is the ultimate brain fuel. Caffeine has been shown to retard the aging process and enhance short-term memory performance. In one study, British researchers found that people consuming the caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee experienced improved attention and problem-solving skills. Need more convincing? Besides boosting alertness for up to 90 minutes, that morning cup is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in the American diet and can help decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 60 percent.
Bonus tip: By coffee, we mean the black stuff—before the addition of syrups, sprinkles and whipped cream, which do a body no good. Check out our list of other nutritionally lethal concoctions—the Worst Beverages in the Supermarket.

For Sharper Senses
1 Tablespoon of Ground Flaxseed Daily
Flax is the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA)—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle flaxseed on salads or mix it into a smoothie or shake.
Bonus tip: Flax will help you craft a powerfully healthy salad, but some restaurants haven’t quite mastered the formula yet. Instead of loading their salad plates with healthy options, they’re overloading the dishes with toppings and sauces that weigh the greenery down. For some jaw-dropping examples, see the 15 Most Atrocious Salads in America.

For an Energy Boost
A Handful of Trail Mix
Raisins provide potassium, which your body uses to convert sugar into energy. Nuts stock your body with magnesium, which is important in metabolism, nerve function, and muscle function. When magnesium levels are low, your body produces more lactic acid—the same fatigue-inducing substance that you feel at the end of a long workout. Ever notice how hard it is to concentrate when you’re feeling sluggish?
Bonus tip: It’s easier than you think to fuel your body properly. With discipline, it can even become second nature. Download Eat This, Not That! to your iPhone!

For Focus
Peppermint Tea

Researchers found that it took a mere whiff of peppermint to increase subjects’ concentration and performance on tedious tasks, and a professor in West Virginia claimed that he used the magical herb to improve athletes’ performance.
Bonus tip: Think that all tea is created equal? Think again. In today’s sugar-laden environment, it’s easy to consume an overwhelming percentage of your daily calories in liquid form—some researchers estimate that we consume about a quarter of our day’s calories through beverages. Swapping sugar-saturated drinks for smarter choices is an easy way to take pounds off—click here to see the shocking list of the 30 Worst Drinks in America.

For Extra Brainpower
Salmon or Mackerel
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are one of the primary building blocks of brain tissue, so they’re essential to boosting brainpower. Salmon is also rich in niacin, which wards off Alzheimer’s disease and slows the rate of cognitive decline.
Bonus tip: Want an easy way to hit your 1-2 servings of fish a week? Throw some on a sandwich. Just make sure you pay attention to the nutritional content—it’s easy to get caught up in fixin’s and not realize that you’re piling on the calories. Need proof? Check out our list of the 30 Worst Sandwiches in America.

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