Tuesday, September 27, 2016

5 Reasons Calorie Counting Won't Help You Lose Weight or Get Healthy

calorie counting
Calorie counting suggests an appealing simplicity: everything comes with a number... eat less, burn more... lose weight, get healthy.
 Which is why, despite the fact that research has increasingly shown the strategy doesn't work and that “calories in, calories out” is outdated, the mentality is still everywhere.
Packaged foods continue to boast that they’re the “low-cal” option. Gyms advertise workout classes that promise you’ll burn 600 calories in an hour. (Meanwhile, you’re starving, exhausted, and metabolically screwed.)
To be clear, the number of calories you take in and burn off are definitely important, but research and experts say that eating the right foods and developing a sustainable, regular exercise regimen will negate the need to count (or even think about) them. Not convinced?

Here are five reasons calorie counting alone won’t help you lose weight or get healthy—and what to do instead.

calorie counting

1. Calorie measurements are far from exact

“Everything is an estimate for so many reasons, both in terms of intake and burning,” says Laura Miranda, DPT, an exercise physiologist, fitness nutrition coach, and the creator of the Strong Healthy Woman boot camp. So while you’re trying to carefully align 500-calorie meals with the 500-calorie-burning spin class you’re going to do later, your body may be actually taking in a wildly different number of calories.
A century ago in a lab, someone decided how many calories are in a tomato, and that’s the number you’re now using to determine how many are in a very different tomato today.  Not to mention the fact that how your body processes food (based on things like your gut health, for example) can also affect how many calories you’re taking in, Dr. Miranda explains.

2. Your body’s calorie burn is totally unique

Your boot camp instructor just told everyone who showed up they were about to burn 800 calories? Fat chance. Even if you complete the exact same exercises as the person next to you, you’ll each burn a different number of calories based on a long list of factors including age, height, weight, history of disease, muscle mass, fitness level, your hormones, your level of stress, and even past dieting. If you have a history of yo-yo dieting with lots of up and downs, your resting metabolic rate will be drastically influenced.

3. Fitness trackers are not always accurate

Because of the reasons above, you can basically ignore those calorie burn numbers that your gym treadmill spits out after a three-mile jog. Fitness trackers that measure your heart rate do a better job, but can still be inaccurate. One recent study, for example, showed that devices like the Fitbit and Jawbone underestimated calorie burn up to 34 percent in some cases, and overestimated it up to 40 percent in others.

4. Your body can count its own calories, if you provide the right fuel

The Calorie Myth author Jonathan Bailor argues that everyone’s body has a “set point,” a natural healthy weight it will hover around if you just deliver the right fuel, so that your hormones are regulated. “The body is designed to balance itself out,” Bailor says. “It’s not that calories don’t count, it’s that your brain is counting them for you if you’re eating quality calories.” Which brings us to…

5. Eating quality foods is a better strategy

Research backs up Bailor’s theory. One Harvard School of Public Health study of more than 120,000 people followed for up to 20  years found the quality of foods eaten was much more important than calorie intake in determining weight change.
“Weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and both processed and unprocessed red meats. The researchers concluded that consumption of processed foods higher in starches, refined grains, fats, and sugars can increase weight gain. Foods shown to be associated with weight loss were vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt.”
If you eat these kinds of whole foods that come from nature, Bailor argues, you’ll naturally eat the right amount of calories. Just think about it: when was the last time you felt like binge-eating kale salad?
~Thanks to Lisa Elaine Held

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to Get Rid of Love Handles in 3 Easy Steps

If there's one term sure to make a woman grumpy, it's "love handles." No matter how many hours you spend at the gym, those suckers never seem to go anywhere. But before you resign yourself to a loveless, lifelong relationship with them, there is hope for saying goodbye once and for all to those not-so-loving areas of fat.
Love Handle

What Are Love Handles, Exactly?

Your body has two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous. Visceral fat is the deeper layer that surrounds your internal organs and is more dangerous for you in terms of developing chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diameter and heart disease. Subcutaneous fat is the outer layer you can grab on to — like love handles — and see in the mirror.
There are some areas of subcutaneous fat you probably don't think twice about — like on your feet — but when it builds up in certain areas, you (and your favorite pair of skinny jeans) definitely notice. And while your love handles don't necessarily pose as big of a risk to your health as they do to your figure, making them smaller or disappear entirely will do both your body and your confidence some good.
So what are you waiting for? Drop what you're doing and find out how to really get rid of love handles.

1. Change Your Diet

You can hit the gym all you want, but if you're not fueling your body correctly, you can't out-exercise a poor diet.
Take note that we said "fueling" your body, not "denying" your body — simply cutting calories without considering nutrition won't necessarily shrink your love handles. Regardless of your calorie count, if you're still eating foods that trigger inflammation, your belly fat isn't going anywhere.
The good news? Removing inflammatory foods from your diet is surprisingly easy. Start with delicious and simple food swaps like these:
  • Swap white rice and bread for brown rice and whole grain bread
  • Swap foods high in trans and saturated fats for foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as avocados and walnuts
  • Swap butter for olive oil (but don't go overboard)
  • Swap red meat for salmon 
  • Swap high-carb, low-nutrient snacks like chips for high-protein snacks like almonds

2. Control Your Stress Levels

Yes, it's true — stress can actually affect your waistline. Awesome, right? Sigh.
When we're stressed, our cortisol (aka the fight-or-flight hormone) levels rise, which in turn causes insulin levels to spike, which ultimately results in more belly fat. Here are some effective ways to lower your stress levels so that doesn't happen:
  • Breathe deeply
  • Practice yoga
  • Get enough sleep each night
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Go on a relaxing walk
  • Stay away from technology and read a book instead
  • Take a candlelit bath
  • Use essential oils
  • Play some relaxing music
Don't underestimate the power of stress and its effect on your physical health. When you take the steps to reset and relax, it doesn't only help your day-to-day mental health, but your long-term body goals, too.

3. Make Exercise a Priority, But Don't Overdo It

You don't need to run a marathon or do HIIT every day to see a change in your body. The key to physical activity is deceptively easy: Just keep things consistent. Instead of stressing yourself out by overdoing your workouts, choose something you love and do it often. It's as simple as that.
You only need about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week to stay healthy and happy, and there's an endless amount of ways you can reach that goal. Go on a quick run after work, take a Zumba class, or go on a walk. Just make sure you're getting your heart pumping and you'll be well on your way to a slimmer, less grab-able figure.
~Thanks to Tehrene Firman

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