Marketers of fad diets try to appeal to your desire for quick-fix weight loss. Unfortunately, these diets are not the answer for long term health and many do more harm than good. Use these tips to spot and steer clear of fad diets.
It is very low calorie.
Weight loss requires that you burn more calories than you take in, but this doesn’t mean that an extremely low number of calories is a good thing. The National Institutes of Health warn that diets with 800 or fewer calories should be avoided unless you are being monitored by a doctor. An eating plan that provides 1,200 to 1,500 per day calories helps most women lose weight safely while an eating plan with 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day is ideal for men. Eating too few calories prevents you from consuming the nutrients your body needs, drains your energy, and leaves you feeling hungry.
It requires the purchase of special foods or supplements.
A fad diet that requires you to purchase special meals, bars, and powders is not a sustainable way of eating. You may find this convenient at first, but soon those same boring bars will lose their appeal and the extra costs will add up. Often these fad diets require a big initial investment, which ends up wasted when you don’t achieve the unrealistic results promised by the program. A healthy eating plan needs to be both flexible and affordable to fit your lifestyle.
It is too restrictive.
Cutting out entire food groups, eating only certain foods together, and avoiding foods at specific times of day are all indications of a fad diet. These practices restrict your ability to eat when you are truly hungry and may prevent you from satisfying cravings in a healthy way. Restrictive eating leads to deprivation. When you feel deprived, often all you can think about is the one thing you can’t have -- that food. Few people have the willpower to stick to such strict rules, making you more likely to give in and overindulge. A balanced diet that allows you some of your favorite treats on occasion is a much more effective way to gain a healthy relationship with food and lose weight for good.
It ignores the importance of exercise.
It is possible to lose weight without physical activity, but research shows that those most successful at keeping weight off are regular exercisers. A fad diet that promotes only dietary changes for weight loss is not providing you with the balanced plan you need to be successful. A healthy lifestyle is about much more than losing a few pounds. Exercise combined with healthy eating will help you lose weight while also improving your fitness and energy levels.
It emphasizes that you don’t need to change anything.
A plan that assures you that you don’t need to change your eating and activity habits to lose weight is likely a fad diet. The truth is that you do need to make positive changes to see results. If you are currently unhappy with your weight and your fitness level, you cannot continue your current eating and exercise patterns and expect to see results. Getting fit requires commitment. Anything worth having, including good health, is worth working hard for.
Finding ways to incorporate more activity into your day is important for living a healthy lifestyle. Even the calories burned through the smallest activities add up to help you lose weight. Activity also refreshes you mentally to keep you sharp and alert as you plow through your to-do list. Create a more active lifestyle with some of these ideas.
Take a break from the conference room and meet while on the move. A walking meeting burns calories and the change in environment may spark some renewed creativity. Mobile devices make it easy to verbally document any notes. Those involved can return to the desk refreshed and ready to take on a new project.
You don’t have to walk or bike to work every single day to take advantage of active commuting. Try it twice a week or just one way and arrange a ride home with a coworker. If walking or biking is out of the question, get creative with how you can make the commute more active. Can you park further away, complete errands and get to nearby meetings on foot, or take the stairs to your floor?
Research shows that sitting for long periods may be bad for your long term health, even if you workout. Get out of your chair for a stretch break at regular intervals throughout the day. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds while breathing deeply. Stretch all major muscle groups paying special attention to the areas most affected by long periods of sitting -- the shoulders, lower back and hamstrings.
Incorporate more movement into sedentary activities
Some sedentary activities present opportunities to move more. As you watch your favorite television shows, try circuit workouts. Do strength exercises when the show is on and switch to cardio activities like jumping jacks or walking stairs during commercials.
Join a team and invite your friends
The time enjoyed with your friends doesn’t have to be sedentary. Form a team and join the local softball, volleyball, or bowling league. If you aren’t into competitive sports, get the group together for a hike or hit the water for a leisurely paddle in canoes or kayaks. These activities keep you active while you spend time catching up and creating great memories.
Pudding makes an easy treat to satisfy a sweet tooth, but skip the instant mixes. By making it at home, you can reduce the added preservatives and artificial flavors. This version is perfect for fall with vitamin-A-rich pumpkin and spices. It uses skim milk and no eggs to reduce saturated fat and total calories.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and milk for about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and whisk until smooth. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and salt, and whisk until there are no lumps.
Pour the liquid into a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. Continue to whisk until the pudding begins to bubble and thicken. Once it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 15 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.
Pour the pudding into serving dishes. Place a small square of plastic wrap over the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. The pudding can be eaten warm or refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. It will thicken as it cools.
Nutrition information for 1 serving (½ cup): Calories 161; Total Fat 0.4 g; Saturated Fat 0.2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 2 mg; Sodium 170 mg; Carbohydrate 35.6 g; Fiber 0.6 g; Sugar 24.5 g; Protein 5.1 g
The fear of fruits and vegetables going to waste makes it challenging to keep the kitchen full of produce. Don’t be afraid to stock up during the next sale. There are many ways to preserve produce that will keep you eating nutritious fruits and vegetables year round.
Dry and Dehydrate
Drying and dehydrating removes the moisture from produce to prevent the food from spoiling. It provides a healthy way to turn fruits and vegetables into shelf-stable treats without added sugar and sodium. Electric food dehydrators dry foods quickly with circulating air at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Fruits and vegetables can also be dried in the oven on it’s lowest temperature setting.
It may take some trial and error to successfully dry produce in the oven. Keep the oven door open, rotate pans occasionally, and watch the food closely to prevent scorching.
Fruits like apples, apricots, berries, and pears, and vegetables such as carrots, beets, greens, pumpkins, and tomatoes are all good options for drying and dehydrating.
Fruits and vegetables can be blended into purees and dried on sheet pans to make leathers that can can be sliced and rolled for an easy snack.
Small whole fruits or fruits cut into thin slices dry more evenly. Toss the fruit in lemon juice to help prevent color changes during drying.
Vegetables dry well when cut into thin slices or small strips. Blanching (cooking vegetables in boiling water for two to five minutes and then submerging them in an ice bath until cool) before dehydrating will help soften vegetables to promote faster drying.
Foods must be completely dry to prevent spoilage during storage. Properly dried fruits and vegetables can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for 6 months to 1 year.
Freezing is a healthy and convenient way to preserve your produce, but there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you end up with a healthy and appealing product when it is defrosted.
Fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that change the flavor, color and nutrients of produce. These enzymes can remain active even while the food is frozen. Blanching before freezing preserves quality by stalling the action of these enzymes while also killing any bacteria on the surface.
Remove all of the air from freezer bags to prevent oxidation and the development of off flavors.
Freeze produce soon after purchase. The more quickly a food freezes, the better the quality once it defrosts. Don’t overload your freezer with room temperature foods as this can increase the time it takes to freeze the food.
Frozen foods should be stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Most frozen fruits and vegetables can be stored for 8 to 12 months.
While most fruits and vegetables freeze well, the National Center for Home Food Preservation advises against freezing cabbage, celery, cucumbers, lettuces, parsley, and radishes. Their high water content leaves them mushy and unappetizing when defrosted.
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria and enzymes that aid digestion. Cabbages and cucumbers are the most commonly fermented vegetables. According to Tufts University, fermenting cabbage to create sauerkraut and kimchi increases the cancer-fighting glucosinolates. The downside of fermentation is that the process requires large amounts of salt. Be sure to limit your overall sodium intake on the days you enjoy fermented foods.
Store-bought fermented foods often undergo high-heat cooking and pasteurization, which kills the beneficial bacteria. By making your own fermented vegetables, you can preserve these healthy components.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation cautions to use tested and approved recipes when fermenting foods. Do not attempt to alter ingredients such as salt or vinegar. The correct balance of ingredients in necessary to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
If you aren't reaching your strength training goals, it’s time to put down the light dumbbells and pick up a heavier set. When you begin exercising, light weights may produce results, but within a year you will transition from a novice to a more advanced exerciser. Lifting heavier weights pays off by changing your body composition and improving your health and fitness.
Defining heavy weights
According to the American Council on Exercise, heavy weight lifting requires using a weight that can be lifted three to 10 times with correct form. More specifically, lifting heavy weights is based on your one repetition max (1RM). This is the maximum amount of weight you can safely lift for one repetition of an exercise.
Beginners and heavy weights
Research shows that if you are new to exercise, you can improve strength with weights as low as 45-50% of your one repetition max. Studies suggest that beginners should start with weights that range from 50-60% of your one repetition max to ensure that you learn proper form before moving on to exercises with heavier weights.
Progress and plateaus
The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) position on resistance training is that more weight may be necessary to progress and continue to see results. Greater strength gains have been found when using a load that allows for 3-5 repetitions when compared to lighter weights that allow for higher repetitions. The ACSM recommends that once you can lift 1-2 repetitions beyond your goal during 2 consecutive workouts, it is time to increase the weight by 2-10%. Doing so will help to prevent strength training plateaus.
Tips for incorporating heavier weights
The method for determining a one repetition max differs depending on the exercise and the muscle group. While it is a simple test, seek the assistance of a qualified fitness trainer to help you establish this baseline. Then seek his or her assistance in developing an effective program. Studies show that when self-selecting the intensity for resistance training it is often too low, often only 38-58% of the one repetition max.
To improve muscular strength, the ACSM recommends that beginner to intermediate exercisers select weights that are 60-70% of your one repetition max. Start with 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Advanced exercisers should aim for loads 80-100% of the one repetition max with 2-6 sets of 1-8 repetitions. The heavier you lift, the longer your rest period should be. Beginner and intermediate programs with lighter loads should include a 1-2 minute rest between exercises using the same muscle groups, while programs with heavier loads should increase the rest period to 2-3 minutes.