The Clear Connection Between Eating Early and Weight Loss

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Though it should come as no surprise that eating earlier in the day can help you lose weight, recent studies published in the International Journal of Obesity have found the results to be even more clear. Carried out by researchers at Spain’s University of Murcia, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tufts University in Medford, Mass., 420 overweight men and women participated in a study proving that eating earlier in the day, specifically lunch, can provide a clear benefit to losing weight.

The participants monitored during a 20 week period were restricted to 1,400 calories a day. Researchers found that on average, those who ate early in the day lost an average of 22 pounds, while the late eaters comparably lost 17 pounds.

“This was the first long-term large-scale study to really demonstrate that the timing of meals can predict weight-loss effectiveness,” said one of the study’s authors Frank Scheer, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program and associate neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But it all makes sense,” Scheer told Allison Aubrey on NPR, “and that the effects of sleep and biological clocks have long been known to affect weight regulation in animals” (1).

“When the timing of meals doesn’t match with the sleep-wave cycle, there is a disconnect between the different clocks we have in, basically, all the cells in our body,” he explained to Aubrey (1).

The surprise does not come in the conclusion of the study –  as there have been many studies prior alluding to the fact that people wanting to lose weight should avoid eating late at night – but how clear the conclusion appears to be in regards to the time people eat during the day and its correlation with losing weight. The only real difference between the participants in the study was when they ate. Amount of exercise, hunger levels, or sleeping habits had almost no impact on the individuals.

The study also found that participants who were the late eaters tended to skimp on breakfast more frequently than those who were the early eaters.

“What the study does is that it emphasizes that we should start thinking not only about what we eat but also when we eat,” Scheer noted. “It may be that we can improve, using this novel concept, existing dietary interventions in the battle against obesity.”

Prior research has shown that our metabolism is at its maximum efficiency during the day, so our body has energy to work and perform day-time activities. However, our metabolism slows down quite a bit at night, so we’re not burning as many calories as we are during the day. This usually results in weight gain.

Sources

1. Greenfield, Beth. “Eat Early, Shed Weight, Spanish Study Says.” Shine. (2013): n. page. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

Top Diets of 2013: Veganism

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One of the trending diets of 2013 is veganism. As an extension of the popular vegetarianism, veganism is a dietary practice and lifestyle that not only prohibits meats but also dairy and eggs. While most people who choose to be vegans do so to protect animals and the environment, other people become vegans to lose weight and improve overall health.

“According to research published in the British Medical Journal, obesity rates are the lowest among vegans, as are rates of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure” (1). Furthermore, the American Dietetic Association concludes that “well-planned” vegetarian and vegan diets can “be healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Such diets are appropriate even during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes” (2).

While some may be born into veganism or adopt it quickly later in life, it is a difficult lifestyle to adjust to if you’ve been eating meat your entire life. Veganism is a very restrictive diet, and it is extremely difficult to quit eating meat cold turkey. This practice requires an almost complete lifestyle change that not only affects meal planning and grocery shopping, but also limits eating options outside of the home. Since the majority of the world are meat eaters, there may not be too many menus that cater to a vegan diet.

Author and founder of Vegan Outreach, Jack Norris, R.D., says, “I tell people to avoid obviously animal-based items, but don’t quibble over every ingredient. You don’t need to quiz the wait staff about whether there’s egg in the pastas or traces of dairy in the dinner rolls” (1). Norris also suggests, “the best way to approach [veganism] isn’t by cutting things out, but by adding them. First, make sure you include ample plant foods at each meal, especially ones in high protein such as [meat substitutes], beans, falafel, and nuts” (1).

Diets like vegetarianism and veganism have some nutritional disadvantages due to the fact that most people get their daily fix of protein, iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12 from mostly animal products. To ensure adequate protein intake on a vegan diet, Norris suggests, “eating a variety of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and grains” (1). Besides vegetables and fruits, there are a numerous amount of supplements and vitamins available.

If you’re interested in veganism but are afraid it’s too restrictive, you can consider some of the alternatives such as:

Lacto vegetarian – dairy products are allowed

Ovo vegetarian – eggs are allowed

Lacto-ovo vegetarian – dairy products and eggs are allowed

Pollotarian – poultry and fowl are allowed

Pescatarian – fish and seafood are allowed

More information and recipes can be found at http://bit.ly/XtFaE0

Sources

1. Cander, Chris. “The Top Six Diets of 2013.” Men’s Fitness. 01 2013: 76-78. Print.

2. Derr, Mary. “Pros and Cons of a Vegetarian Diet.”Livestrong.com. (2011): n. page. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. http://bit.ly/VHqc0A

Comfort For Belly and Mind

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As we delve deeper into winter, and the temperature continues to drop, our primal cravings for simple comfort foods continue to rise. (Un)fortunately, it’s the new year, and our weight-loss resolutions have just come into fruition. This is one of nature’s cruelest paradoxes.

So how do we satisfy our sweet tooth and our cold, empty bellies without all dangers and consequences of the glorious sugar-coated, batter-fried, butter-drenched, cheese-filled comfort foods we’ve grown up eating? In Zinczenko and Goulding’s latest book, Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods, they turn “favorite comfort foods into mouth-watering weight-loss weapons” by offering simple tricks and techniques to making iconic American comfort dishes healthier. Below are just a few examples.

Mac & Cheese

“Many restaurants use low-cost, high-calorie cheeselike substances of the Velveeta variety. Instead, swap in bechamel – an easy, creamy white sauce. Add flavor-packed sharp Cheddar, along with lower-calorie Swiss and mozzarella for more meltability. To finish, top with Parmesan and panko, and broil for a crunchy crust.”

                Ingredients

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, fusili, or cavatappi pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or other Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

How to Make

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain and reserve the pastas.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the Gruyere, Cheddar, and mozzarella, and stir until melted. Cut the heat, add the yogurt and cooked pasta, and toss.
  3. Heat the broiler. Pour the mac & cheese mixture into an 8′ square baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and Parmesan, and season with black pepper. Broil until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

This recipe contains roughly 595 calories, 28G fat, and 462 MG sodium.  The estimated average restaurant mac & cheese contains 1,380 calories, 96G fat, and 3,150 MG sodium. You’d be saving yourself 785 calories, 68 g fat, and 2,688 mg sodium!

 

Ice Cream Sundae

“Seek out quality ice cream that lists milk, not cream, as the first ingredient. We like Breyers Natural Vanilla, at under 150 calories per serving. Garnish it with high-impact fruit, chocolate, and nuts, which add flavor rather than mere sweetness. And serve it in a rocks glass, which looks great while limiting portion size.”

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 scoops good-quality vanilla ice cream, such as Breyers Natural Vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp dark chocolate syrup or fudge sauce (such as Ghirardelli) warmed in a bowl
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped

How to Make

  1. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet on medium high. Halve the bananas length-wise, being sure to leave each half in the peel. Coat the exposed banana flesh with the brown sugar, using your fingers to press the sugar in. When the skillet or grill pan is hot, place the bananas in the pan, cut side down. Cook them until the surface caramelizes to a deep brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Let the bananas cool briefly, carefully remove the peels, and place each piece in the bottom of a rocks glass or a small bowl.  (You can break the pieces in half if that works better.) Top each portion of banana with a scoop of ice cream along with equally divided portions of warmed chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts. Makes 4 servings.

This recipe contains 314 calories, 13G fat, and 37G sugars. The estimated average restaurant ice cream sundae contains 840 calories, 55G fat, and 95G sugars. You’d be saving yourself 526 calories, 42G fat, and 58G sugars!

Sources

1. Zinczenko, David, and Matt Goulding. “Eat Better.” Men’s Health. 07 Jan 2013: 132-136. Print.

2. Zinczenko, David, and Matt Goulding. Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods. Rodale Books, 2012. Print. <http://amzn.to/X4kIKk;

 

Dealing With Post-Holiday Feelings

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According to British research, January is the most depressing time of the year. Why? The weather is gloomy, your holiday high has faded, your New Year’s resolutions seem daunting, and opening your post-Christmas credit card statement can be quite frightening. As many of you have probably experienced in your life, emotions can play quite a heavy role when it comes to discipline, diet, and physical health. Therefore, it may come to no surprise that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of the month.

Below are some tips to dealing with some of the most problematic emotions you may be feeling post-holidays.

Depression – Probably the most common negative emotion people have after the holidays. Dragging yourself back to work, or a routine, after spending what seemed like only a minute of relaxation and joy. Or maybe you didn’t get a chance to really enjoy your holidays because you were too busy planning, organizing, and making sure everyone else had a wonderful holiday. Regardless of the reason why you’re depressed, life is too short to be moping around and feeling miserable.

Try eating fruits. A British and American study showed that people who ate more than two servings of fruits and vegetables daily reported higher levels of happiness than those who ate less. Moreover, the findings suggested that the more produce you eat, the more your mood can improve (Men’s Health). People who ate 7 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day were the happiest of all. Try loading your fridge with frozen berries (no added fructose). They have a long shelf-life, make great quick snacks, and retain a lot of their antioxidants, even when frozen.

Loneliness – Now that your family and friends have probably flown back home to go on with their lives, and all the wonderful parties have ended, you may be feeling quite lonely. You may be looking back at all the joyful pictures you took over the holidays and reminisce about all the great times you’ve had over the past couple of weeks, making you even more depressed that it’s over.

An effective way to stop from feeling lonely is to make new bonds with people with similar interests. Try going to one of the classes at your gym (most are usually free and are included in your membership) such as dance, yoga, aerobics, and kickboxing. You can also take a class you are passionate about at a community college such as a foreign language or a literature class. Being surrounded with like-minded people is an easy way to form friendships.

Anxiety– Are you nervous about going back to work or school? Worrying about how you are going to pay your latest credit card statements? Anxiety and stress can make us more tempted to eat food, especially junk food. This is because stress usually intensifies the taste of sweet and salty foods, making eating under stress more pleasurable. This can make counting calories and staying on a diet quite a challenge.

Try to do at least half an hour of moderate-intensity cardio three times a week.  Exercise is the best way to reduce stress and anxiety as it can provide a soothing effect similar to that of anti-anxiety meds.  Smiling can also reduce your stress and also has the added benefit of calming your heart rate. If you hate exercising and going to the gym, act like you like it. Eventually all the benefits you will reap will put a genuine smile on that face.

Sources

Kuzma, Cindy. “When Your Feelings Turn Fatal.” Men’s Health. 2012: 90-92. Print.