Thursday, 27 September 2012

Protein: What you Need to Know
High-protein diets now dominate the weight-loss scene. Many of you may have tried one of the many popular diets such as the Zone, South Beach, Dukan and Atkins diets.

Nutritionists are constantly being asked, "Do these diets work?" and "How much protein should I be eating?" The truth is protein has many more functions than simply assisting with weight loss. We should be focusing on protein's health benefits instead of what it can do for our waistlines.

Protein is made up of many different amino acids, nine of which are "essential" amino acids, which are vital for a healthy mind and body.

Although it is common knowledge that protein is required for building muscle, did you know it is also the basis of our tendons, ligaments, collagen, hair and skin? Dietary protein sources are necessary for healthy hormone production, correct fluid balance and the transportation of vitamins, minerals and oxygen throughout the body. Protein is also essential for antibody production and a healthy immune system.

The weight loss link

Including protein in meals promotes the feeling of fullness, satisfies hunger and reduces the need for extra, unnecessary calories.

Foods that are naturally high in protein also have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they have little effect on blood-glucose and insulin levels. Stable blood glucose will help balance energy levels throughout the day and promote body fat breakdown, especially during exercise.

Managing glucose and insulin levels are vital for weight loss and long-term weight management. This is why high-protein diets often deliver results.

But protein-only diets are unbalanced and lacking in vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

How much is enough?

The recommended intake of protein is between 0.7 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight depending on activity levels and whether or not you are pregnant. I recommend including some form of protein in each meal as well as some snacks. Great sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans, and good sources include grains such as rice, quinoa and multigrain bread.

To get your recommended daily intake, have an omelette for breakfast, or add 30 grams of vanilla protein powder to a smoothie. For lunch, have chicken or chickpeas with a sweet potato and coriander salad. For dinner, try a beef stir-fry or a soybean ragu.


Vegetarians are most at risk of health complications associated with low protein intake, simply because animal products contain the highest amounts of protein.

While soybeans and quinoa are considered complete protein sources, as they contains all nine essential amino acids, other common plant sources of protein (such as chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds and rice) are incomplete proteins.

To get the most out of a vegetarian eating plan, you need to combine your plant sources. Mixing rice with legumes and seeds, for instance, will provide all the essential amino acids.

Protein sources
100g chicken or meat = 22g-25g.
Half a cup soybeans = 14g.
200g yoghurt or 40g cheese = 10g.
1 cup dairy or soy milk = 8.5g.
1 cup cooked quinoa = 8g.
A quarter cup pumpkin seeds = 8g.
Half a cup legumes = 8g.
1 cup cooked rice = 4g.

For more information, see:,17845

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Increase Nutrient Absorption with these Food Combinations

We all know that eating nutrient dense food is important for good health. Although we can control what goes into our mouths, we can’t always control what your body does with the nutrients that we take in. Some people suffer from a condition called malabsorption. Malabsorption is the inability to absorb vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and carbs from food. But you don’t have to be suffering from this clinical condition to lose some of the available nutrients in the food that you eat.

If you want to maximize nutrient absorption, there is an easy solution that costs nothing: whole food combining. By eating certain nutrient dense foods at the same time, you’ll unlock the true nutrient potential of your diet. Check out these tasty whole food combinations:

Spinach and Strawberries

Iron and vitamin C are a match made in heaven. The presence of vitamin C increases the amount of bioavailable iron, thus increasing the amount of iron that you will be able to absorb. Try eating large spinach salad with strawberries to ensure that you get all of the iron that you can out of the spinach. This is especially important for folks who don’t eat meat.

Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to decrease the risk of prostate cancer in men. Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means that it needs to be eaten with fat to be fully absorbed. A recent study showed that olive oil was better for absorbing lycopene when compared with corn oil. That work for us, since all of the best Italian cuisine contains tomatoes and premium olive oil.

Red Wine and Chocolate

Now we get to the French Paradox. It’s been discussed before – how can French folks stay so healthy despite their smoking, alcohol and fat consumption, and infrequent gym visits? The answer lies in part with polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in foods like red wine and dark chocolate.Polyphenols help prevent degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer according to recent studies. So if you are going to indulge in a weekend treat, have a glass of red wine and a dark chocolate tart.

Salmon, Swiss Chard, and a Glass of Milk

Studies show that 77% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Sure, you can get your vitamin D from fortified milk, but you can ensure that you are absorbing all of that that vitamin D by drinking milk with magnesium-rich foods. Salmon and swiss chard pack a serious punch of magnesium. Combine salmon, swiss chard, and milk for dinner once a week to make sure you increase your vitamin D levels.

Olive Oil and Herbs

Dried herbs like basil and oregano are high in vitamin K. Vitamin K is responsible for producing red blood cells and helping our blood clot. Plus, it keeps our bones strong. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, so it is absorbed by our bodies better if we ingest them with fat. So the next time you cook with olive oil, sprinkle in a few herbs to enhance the taste and health of your meal.

For more information, see:
The Quickest Way to Reduce Stomach Fat

When it comes to the stomach, the goal is not to actually tone belly fat; it is to tone the abdominal muscles and burn belly fat. Although specific ab exercises are part of this game plan, you also have to take your diet into consideration. Poor eating habits likely caused the fat to appear, and good eating habits can make it go away.

Cut Back on Calories

To lose fat in your stomach, you have to take the steps to lose weight in general because you can't spot-reduce fat deposits. You can make a lot of progress with this goal by not eating as many daily calories. A 500- to 1,000-calorie daily reduction can lead to about 1 to 2 lbs. of weight loss per week. Being that you want to tone your stomach quickly, opt for the higher reduction.

Energy Density of Foods

Foods have either a high or low energy density. Candy bars, doughnuts, hot wings, cheesecake and french fries are common examples of high energy density foods. These contain a lot of calories with little volume. Low energy density foods, however, are low in calories and take up a lot of volume. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating low energy density foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains to lose weight. These foods tend to take longer to chew as well, which can help prevent you from overeating. You do not have to only eat low energy density foods, but make them the foundation of your diet.

Eat Snacks

Waiting for long periods of time between meals can be dangerous when you are trying to tone your belly. If you get excessively hungry, you might reach for something unhealthy to satisfy your appetite, or you may overeat at your next meal. To prevent this from happening, eat small, healthy snacks between meals. All you need is something to take the edge off your hunger. An apple with half a handful of walnuts is a quick, easy snack example.

Sprint Training

Sprint training is a form of cardiovascular exercise that helps you burn calories. What makes sprinting a good option for a toned stomach is that your metabolism stays elevated when you are finished. This is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. As an added benefit, you have to forcefully contract your abs to generate power while you sprint so you get an ab workout as well. Start out with a light five-minute jog, then sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Either stop completely or jog lightly for 40 seconds, then repeat the whole process.

Weight Lifting

Weight lifting helps you achieve a toned stomach because of the metabolic effect it causes. When you gain muscle, your body has to burn more calories to keep it preserved. This, in turn, should lead to faster weight loss and a thinner abdominal region. Focus on doing compound exercises that work more than one muscle at a time. Bench presses, shoulder presses, back rows, dips, lunges and deadlifts are examples.

Abdominal Exercises

Abdominal exercises help tone and tighten your midsection muscles while you burn the fat that surrounds them. Perform exercises that target your lower abs, upper abs and obliques to get the best results. Lying leg lifts, hip thrusts, side bends, air bikes and sit-ups are examples.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Acne Fighting Virus Discovered

A natural skin virus could be used to fight acne, according to a new study published today.

US researchers found that the phage virus can kill Propionibacterium acnes - the bacteria that cause acne.

They discovered 11 different versions of the virus, which can be used to target the blocked pores that trigger the skin condition.

“Acne affects millions of people, yet we have few treatments that are both safe and effective," said Professor Robert Modlin from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), which conducted the study.

"Harnessing a virus that naturally preys on the bacteria that causes pimples could offer a promising new tool against the physical and emotional scars of severe acne.

Acne occurs when blocked hair follicles on the skin get filled with sebum (oil) that the body creates to try and stop the hair follicle from drying out.

The bacteria Propionibacterium acnes that is found on the skin then contaminates the blocked follicle, causing inflammation and the familiar spots associated with acne sufferers. Over time this can cause permanent damage to the skin including pits and scars.

Now scientists are looking into lab work to determine whether the phage virus can be used as therapy.

For more information, see:
The Top Five Foods for Healthy Skin

The U.S. cosmetics industry raked in more than $32 billion in 2004, with sales of skin care products bringing in the largest share -- more than $8 billion. Americans are shelling out big bucks for expensive cosmetics to treat skin problems such as acne, wrinkles and dryness, but most consumers are overlooking the cheapest, safest and most effective remedies: healing foods.

A host of healthy, natural foods offer potent healing and preventative powers to remedy a wide range of skin troubles. These foods can dramatically improve skin for a fraction of the price of costly cosmetics or dermatologist visits:

Green Tea

-- Green tea is rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect cell membranes. It has been proven to reduce the damage of sunburns and overexposure to ultraviolet light, which in turn reduces the risk of skin cancer. Green tea is also high in polyphenols -- compounds that eliminate cancer-causing free radicals.Recent research by scientists at the Medical College of Georgia shows that the polyphenol most abundant in green tea -- EGCG -- also acts as a "fountain of youth" of sorts for skin by reactivating dying skin cells. In addition to its skin-healthy properties, green tea is also high in vitamins C, D and K, as well as riboflavin, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron.


-- Salmon -- along with other fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed -- is high in healthy fatty acids that are key for achieving healthy skin. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3s help keep cell membranes healthy by keeping out harmful substances as well as allowing nutrients to enter cells and exit with waste products. Omega-3s also reduce the body's production of inflammatory agents that can damage the skin.Increasing consumption of omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as salmon will help keep the skin supple and youthful. A 1:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s is ideal, but the ratio in the typical American diet is more like 20:1, so boosting consumption of salmon and other oily fish can help bring that ratio closer to 1:1. Salmon is also rich in protein, potassium, selenium and vitamin B12.


-- Blueberries are considered by many experts to be the highest food source of antioxidants, which target free radicals that can wreak havoc on skin cells. The antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant sources of nutrition) in blueberries neutralize DNA-damaging free radicals, reducing cell damage. When skin cells are protected from damage and disintegration, the skin looks younger for longer. Blueberries are also an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin E and riboflavin.Carrots-- Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is a required nutrient for healthy skin. They also contain high levels of antioxidants, which prevent free radical damage of skin cells. Vitamin A is required for developing and maintaining skin cells, and a deficiency of the vitamin can cause dry skin. Carrots are also a superior source of fiber, biotin, vitamins K, C and B6, potassium and thiamine.Water-- Drinking plenty of water -- at least your individual minimum intake -- will help keep your skin young and healthy-looking. Water in caffeinated or sugary beverages does not count; water intake must be from pure, clean water, which rejuvenates skin cells. Water both hydrates cells and helps them move toxins out and nutrients in. Nutrition expert Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, says when the body is properly hydrated, it sweats more efficiently, which helps keep the skin clean and clear.

In addition to consuming therapeutic quantities of green tea, salmon, blueberries, carrots and water, consumers should avoid certain foods that trigger bad skin reactions. Such ingredients include sugar, white flour, saturated fats and fried foods, which are especially bad for the skin, since they can trap oil and bacteria beneath the skin, causing acne and other skin ailments.

The skin is considered the outside indicator of inside health, and putting expensive creams, lotions and treatments on the outside of the skin can't alleviate problems that stem from inner nutritional deficiencies. Consuming the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones can reveal beautiful, youthful-looking skin without the high price tag of expensive cosmetics.

For more information, see:
Foods to Help you Lose Weight

Many people would like to lose a pound or 2. Maybe 5. Maybe more. Why? That's easy: to feel better, look better, and improve their health.

However, losing weight can be surprisingly difficult. In fact, national health surveys show Americans and Brits in general are getting fatter.

What you need is a simple plan. Here it is, in just two parts: (1) Make a little more time to exercise; (2) Concentrate on a handful of dietary changes that, over the course of a year, can produce significant weight-loss results.

Listed below are 20 great diet changes that you'll find easy to achieve. Many of them will help you cut 100 calories or more from a single serving. So, say you eat this particular food or meal three times a week. That's 100 x 3 x 52, or 15,600 calories saved in a year. Which comes to almost 5 pounds, since you'll lose one pound for every 3,500 calories cut from your food intake.

Make another food substitution, and you're up to 10 pounds. Beyond that, the sky's the limit. Here's your meal-by-meal planner.


Don't skip breakfast. A good breakfast is the most crucial part of any healthy weight-loss effort, as it revs up your energy level and metabolism for the full day.

Homemade raisin bran
Description: Mix one cup of Total cereal, a packet of raisins, and 1 cup nonfat milk. This simple home recipe with 244 calories fortifies you with 100 percent of the Daily Value for most vitamins and minerals, boosts your protein intake by 12 grams, and gives you a sweet, natural fibre and sugar source.
You'll Save: 50 calories, 6 teaspoons of sugar, and 5 grams of fat compared with ready-to-serve raisin bran doused with a cup of 2-percent milk.

Scrambled whites with greens
Description: This low-fat, scrambled-egg alternative provides 54 grams of high-quality dietary protein in just 255 calories. First, spray your frying pan with fat-free oil. Then pour the equivalent of four servings of egg whites in a bowl and blend with 1/2 cup spinach and 1/2 cup mushrooms. Heat the pan until the oil starts to bubble, pour in the eggs, and fry until the eggs are nearly dry.
You'll Save: 40 calories, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, and 13 grams of fat compared with two normal scrambled eggs.

Balanced Diet Shake
Description: For something cool, tasty, and nutrient-filled in the morning, try a shake or smoothie. The Balanced Diet nutritional drink provides 180 calories with lots of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in a naturally flavored French vanilla or chocolate royale. Each serving includes 5 grams of dietary fibre and 10 grams of soy, or 40 percent of the daily minimum now recommended by the American Heart Association.
You'll Save: 60 calories daily and nearly 6 grams of fat compared with many other similar drinks.

Frozen fruit smoothie
Description: You can prepare your own personal antioxidant-filled fruit smoothie. Combine and blend: one cup frozen, unsweetened blueberries; 1/2 banana; 1/4 cup wheat germ; and water.

You'll Save: 200 calories for each 2- to 3-cup serving, compared with many store-bought and canned smoothie beverages.

Toasted plain Bagel with natural jam
Description: Sure, a frozen bagel can't match a fresh one, but it's easier to obtain for many people, and a little toasting brings it to near perfection. Just spread with your favorite natural jam.
You'll Save: Anywhere from 160 to 360 calories and more than 10 grams of fat compared with similar bagels and other outlets where the bagels are spread with cream cheese.


Lunch is the second-most-important meal of the day in your weight-loss plan. It boosts your energy level and regulates your metabolism to keep you on an even keel.

Subway roast beef sub sandwich
Description: Can't live without meat? You don't have to. Meat is a great source of protein, iron, and several important minerals, and the Subway lean 6-inch roast beef sub contains just 264 calories and 4.5 grams of fat in a meal perfectly balanced with lettuce, tomato, and vegetables.
You'll Save: Nearly 100 calories and 12 grams of fat compared with a tuna salad sub, and more than 20 grams of fat compared with the classic meatball sub.

Tossed salad with croutons instead of salad dressing.
Description: You know that green salads make an important contribution to your day's eating. Here's your chance to make them more interesting. Instead of drenching your salads in high-fat dressings, decorate them with croutons, beans, or fruit.
You'll Save: 100 calories and 28 grams of fat when you add 1 ounce of croutons and 1/2 cup of beans, peas, and raisins to your salad in place of 1 ounce of an oil-based dressing. You'll also increase your intake of iron, folic acid, Vitamin C, and fibre.

For more information, see:,7120,s6-242-304-312-2193-0,00.html
How to Fit Exercise into your Busy Schedule

Here's how to fit exercise into a busy schedule. If you're like me, you're busy, a little stressed out, have many things pulling at you in many directions, and on top of that you need to find time to work out. For many people, it usually doesn't happen. Exercising becomes just another problem for you (as does your expanding waistline). Read this article if you're looking for a solution to being able to get your workouts in. Top 6 Tips for Fitting Exercise into your Life

1. Exercise early in the morning

For most people who lead busy lives, trying to exercise at the health club after work is nearly impossible. Not only are you worn down from working all day, you also have things you need to do with the family, friends etc.

One good solution is to get up an hour earlier and get in your exercise in the morning. Even if it's only a walking program. As hard as it is to drag yourself out of bed, sacrificing just one hour of sleep a couple times a week will actually give you MORE energy throughout the day than that extra hour of sleep you’ll be giving up.

2. Get a Few Pieces of Equipment and Exercise at Home.

If it's possible, buy a treadmill or stationary bike. You'll avoid having to take the time to drive or walk to the health club, and you can do it on your schedule.

3. Multitask while Exercising

Use the time while you're exercising to better schedule your day. You'd be surprised at what you can do on a treadmill. It's easy to read a book or report while walking. You can even talk on the phone if you need to. You can exercise during commercials, as soon as you wake up, on your lunch break, or right before bed. Just be sure not to do anything too exhilarating at bedtime. You want to be able to fall asleep.

These are 3 times where you can sneak in 2-3 minutes of exercise. Done multiple times each day, THAT ADDS UP to a good amount of working out. A great thing about this is that you don't sweat... usually. Also, it's been PROVEN that these types of mini-workouts are much better for increasing your metabolism... as compared to the normal 30-60 minute steady-paced workouts once a day.
Don't think this is hard either. You can do jumping jacks, jump rope, jump on a mini-trampoline, or do some pushups. Whatever gets your heart rate up and puts an extra boost in your step.

4. Do hard, fast-paced exercises in 5 minutes

You can do something like fast bodyweight squats. Do as many as you can in 5 minutes. Trust me; this will get your legs burning and your heart-rate up. Running up some stairs for 5 minutes non-stop is also great. These are intense. That's why you can get away with doing just 5 minutes of them in a day. You don't need much of these exercises to get great weight loss results.

5. Exercise on the Weekends/Days Off

This is becoming a more popular concept as people try to find more time for exercise. Weekends/Days Off offer you extra time to fit an easy one hour workout into your schedule.
I also know many ‘weekend warriors’ who use their days off to fit in extra long workouts, since it’s hard for them to do this during the week.

6. Find Additional Ways to Exercise During your Work Day

It's easy to find ways to exercise at work throughout the day. For example, take the steps instead of the elevator. Walk to co-worker's desks instead of sending emails. Take a walk during your lunch hour. Ride your bike or walk to work.

These are just a few examples of how you can fit pockets of activity into your day.

For more information, see:
Is Popcorn the Latest Superfood?

New research by the The American Chemical Society suggests that popcorn may deserve a place next to kale, acai berries, and kefir as the world’s latest superfood.

While not a scientific term, superfood often used to describe dark greens, fruits, nuts and other foods that contain high nutrient or phytochemical content. Popcorn contains a high level of antioxidants called polyphenols which protect against disease by fighting free radicals, according to Dr. Joe Vinson. In fact, it’s those particularly annoying popcorn hulls that contain the highest concentration of fiber and polyphenols.

“One serving of popcorn will provide more than seventy percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way,” said Vinson, who presented his findings at the a recent national meeting of the ACS in San Diego.

But this doesn’t mean you can opt for extra butter next time you’re at the movies: in order to enjoy the true health benefits of popcorn, it should always be air popped, and never popped in oil or the microwave. You should probably skip the salt as well.

Dr. Vinson did acknowledge that while popcorn may be an interesting substitute for whole grains or your usual source of fiber, this crunchy snack will never take the place of fruits and vegetables, most of which contain other essential vitamins and nutrients that popcorn does not.

For more information, see: