Healthy Tips

Eat hot or spicy food - Capsicum the ingredient that causes the burning sensation also raises metabolism. The hotter the spice the more calories expended. Also, capsicum has been found to have an appetite suppressing effect. *

Drink cold water - Drinking cold water robs the body of heat so, metabolism rises to compensate. The body works hard to maintain a perfect homeostasis. The effects are small, you can't drink enough water safely to get a significant result this alone,  but when added to some of the other tips here you can definitely experience benefits.  *

Trade in skim for 1% - Studies show 1% milk actually helps keep weight off better than skim, and the vitamins and calcium are better absorbed. The same is true for yogurt and cottage cheese. *

Increase dairy calcium - A Danish study found dairy calcium to lower serum fat levels (blood fatty acids) by more than 20% thus lowering fat absorption. Calcium supplements did not have the same effect. *

Variety - The mesolimbic region of our brain (pleasure center) lights up when we eat a food we particularly enjoy. We are prewired to crave a variety of  foods. Eating a variety of flavors and textures together can help control binge eating. *

Brush to lose - Brush your teeth after a meal. The change in flavor can help keep you from eating more. *

Pear or Apple - A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that pear shaped(weight on hips) loss equally well on low fat and low glycemic diets, but more difficulty keeping it off. Apple shaped people fared 3 times as well on a low glycemic diet and kept all the weight off over the 18 month study. *

Most important meal - Next to breakfast your most important meal is your post workout or recovery meal. To prevent muscle loss and speed recovery you should consume a meal with a 4-1 carb to protein ratio preferably within an hour of exercise. Best of all the carbs you consume will replace muscle glycogen and not go to your waist. Remember moderation is still key. *

Change is good - If you've been doing the exact same routine for the past few weeks your results are diminishing. Caloric expenditure decreases and muscle hypertrophy slows. Challenge your mind and body with ever evolving routines. *

Lift to lose weight - Since lifting increases muscle mass metabolism also increases burning off more fat and maintaining weight loss longer. Diet alone causes muscle loss, the resulted metabolism slowdown leads to weight rebound. Gain two pounds of muscle and you burn 80 -100 calories a day more. That's 10 lbs a year.**

To stretch or not to stretch - Static stretching (holding a stretch) can cause injury or damage to muscle and connective tissue if done prior to exercise. Reserve these for post workout when they are most beneficial. *

If not, what? - Simply warm up with toes touches, half squats, or jumping jacks. Add a medicine ball or light dumbbell for upper body warm-up. Progressive martial arts type stretch kicks are also excellent before hiking, biking, lifting or running. *

Try this - Stand one foot forward about 18 - 20 inches - put weight on front leg - keeping rear leg straight, swing it up and forward waist high. Repeat 10 - 15 reps gradually increasing the height of kicks. Switch legs and repeat. *

Now  from same position swing your straight rear leg out to side then up and forward in front of your body in a crescent or half-moon shape and back. Repeat 10 -15 times then switch legs. * 

Lift or run first - Resistance training should ideally precede cardio for maximum strength training benefit and fat burning. If your goal is to build up, weight training should always precede cardio and should be separated by at least 4 hours of rest to maximize testosterone levels and blood flow (pump) to the muscle. *  

Sprint yourself thin - sprint training can burn up to 3x's the amount of fat of a conventional cardio workout. If you're healthy enough to do so, replacing long distance runs, swims, or bike rides with a sprint format can get you over plateaus making you leaner, stronger and faster. A walk run format should work well for most; alternating the sprint interval duration often. Use intervals between 15sec - 90secs. *

Peak your heart rate - elevating your heart rate into the high intensity zone (85%) for 20 minutes is far more effective at fat burning than 40 minutes at a moderate rate (70%). Recent studies show a threefold increase in fat burning due to hormonal response to the intensity and the additional recovery requirements not experienced with moderate exercise. *

Chew Gum - Chewing sugarless gum between meals can help keep you from reaching for another snack or over indulging. The change of flavor and texture can actually trick your brain into feeling satisfied. Try this at your most vulnerable times and spare the calories. *

Take a Picture - Next time you are busy or out and about and don't have time to journal your foods take out your smartphone and take a picture of what you're eating. Later when you can, review the photo or photos and enter it into your journal. Knowledge is power and knowing precisely what you ate and seeing it on paper is a powerful tool for keeping a healthy diet. No excuses. *

Organic - much has been made whether to pay extra for organic foods. My rule of thumb is if you eat the skin then go organic since that's where most pesticides will be. Even washing doesn't always get all of it off. As for meats I think at home go organic because of excessive use of antibiotics and steroids to make animals bigger. You'll undoubtedly eat conventionally grown meats when out at restaurants so going organic at home will bring better balance. This excess use of antibiotics is one reason for the growth of drug resistant bacteria. *

 

Coconut Water - next time you workout reach for all natural coconut water instead of Gatorade. Besides being all natural it has slightly less sugar and calories (44 per 8oz). no fat, has 6 different electrolytes, (Gatorade has 2) all that and tastes great. Good for hangovers too. *

Cravings Carbs - if you find yourself dying for pasta or bread, maybe even something sweet, rather than letting it fester into a moment of weakness go ahead and have it. The best time to allow this indiscretion is within 1 hour of exercising. During this hour window those carbs will be utilized to replace the muscle sugar you just burned through and won't show up on your waist. *

Probiotics - If you are having digestive cramps, gas or constipation try taking a quality probiotic to re-balance your healthy bacterial levels. A top doctor recommended brand that I use is "Align" it"s a tiny capsule you take once a day.  Probiotics are essential if you were on antibiotics, have IBS, or are about to travel as a preventative. *

Turmeric -  This excellent spice is rich in curcumin. It is used in Indian food to enhance flavor and for it's color. Turmeric has been found in clinical studies to help reduce symptoms of IBD and IBS. It is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and prevents beta amylase build-up in the brain (a main component of alzheimer's). Take 400-600 mg standarized to 95% curcuminoids 2-3 times daily. *

Two a Days - Split your workout into two for better fat burning. Shorter workouts allow for higher intensity and doing them at least 4 hours apart allows for a double boost to the metabolism which should stay elevated for hours after. *             

Magnesium - This mineral has been shown to decrease migraine occurrence by 50% in multiple studies using a control placebo group. The ideal dose is 400mg daily. It can take 2-3 months of daily use for full effect. Magnesium is also great for muscle spasms, cramps, constipation and heart arrhythmias. Try a chelated version like magnesium glycinate for less potential stomach upset. *

Calcium - Excess calcium supplementation has bee linked to heart disease, kidney stones and even migraine headaches. Your best bet is to get your calcium from natural sources and check with your doctor if you even need supplements. If you do be sure to up your magnesium to prevent imbalances. *

Keep a Food Journal - If you are serious about losing weight note that the number constant of all diets that work is keeping a food journal. Start by simply listing what you ate, approximate time, meal or snack, and any exercise you did that day. You don't need to breakdown calories at first, food recognition should be enough just don't. *
leave anything out.

DGL - If you suffer from heart burn and other acid reflux symptoms try a natural remedy that works by coating the esophagus minimizing the effect of stomach acids and allowing the tissues to heal. Chew 2 tables 20 minutes before eating allowing them to dissolve slowly. The chocolate flavored ones are my favorite, just keep it to 2 at a time even if you want more it's not candy. *  

The Minute Rule - No time to workout, take a minute break from work and do fast paced movement like walking up stairs, brisk walking, or push-ups and squats, etc. Do this 3 -4 times a day and in four minutes total a day you'll see more toned muscles and a faster metabolism which means a leaner fitter body.*

Exercising in Hot Weather - Now that the hot weather is here it's important to take measures when exercising outdoors. Exercising in temperatures above 85 degrees puts extra stress on your cardiovascular system. Pick cooler times of day, wear light colored clothing and hydrate adequately. It's better to keep your skin covered with light wicking type materials. If you have to exercise in the heat of day start with shorter, easier workouts and allow your body to adapt to the higher temps over the coming  weeks. *

If you start to feel queasy, get a headache or lose the ability to sweat, get indoors immediately and takes measures to get your body temperature down right away. Don't wait, drink cold water and take a cold shower or bath, add ice if necessary. *

Snacking - Try to eat something every 3 hours to keep blood sugar levels from crashing. This in turn will keep your metabolism up and help control cravings. When you reach for a snack mix 2 items of differing tastes and textures for a more satisfying experience. A pear and string cheese  for instance, or berries and almonds. Not only will you get a better mix of nutrients, but the differing textures will fool your brain into staying satisfied longer. *

Getting Enough Sleep - A 12 year study by the European Society of Cardiology following 20-65 year olds found that 7 hours of sleep significantly lowered the risks of cardiovascular disease or the odds of heart attack. Remember extra sleep also helps with weight control.  Before artificial light humans sleep for half their lives. So aim for 7 1/2 to 8 hours and live healthy. *  

Micro-burst Training - Think sprinting. Very high intensity exercise for 10 - 15 seconds followed by a short recovery and repeated for 20 minutes. You can use a bike, a treadmill or even a pool, but you can use the same concept with battle ropes, a punching bag, a jump rope or Ripstix to get the same benefit for the upper body. Remember variety is the key to fitness success. *

Realistic Short Term Goals - can help you stay motivated and on track. For instance: number of total steps or workout sessions in a week. Remember don't over estimate. Once you hit your goal, besides the feeling of accomplishment you will have, reward yourself by putting a few dollars away for a new outfit, a cool pair of shoes or even an up coming vacation. Pretty much anything on your wish list. Just never reward yourself with food. *

Raise HDL Levels - Higher HDL cholesterol means a better overall blood profile, less chance of heart disease and a longer life. Here's a few natural ways: 1) drink 1 glass of red wine or i ounce of other alcohol a few times a week. 2) Take 100-300 mg of Niacin ( the flush causing kind).3) exercise at least 3 times a week. In a month you should already see a difference. *

Avoid That Midday Crash – Try having a lunch that is high in protein and low in sugary carbs. For instance instead of having say pasta, rice, potatoes or excess bread shoot for a salad with a lean source of protein on top, or maybe Ahi tuna steak with grilled vegetables. The idea is protein will help to keep blood sugar level as well as boost dopamine levels which increase alertness.  Simple and starchy carbohydrates cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a drop and an increase in serotonin that combined makes you feel sleepy or lethargic. *

Eat Cold Pasta, Potatoes or Beans – Cooked then cooled starches form a type of fiber called resistant starch that can aid in weight loss and weight loss maintenance. The fatty acids formed during the fermentation of the starch in the colon also reduce inflammation in the intestine reducing symptoms of IBD. Cold lentil salad anyone? *

Sleep for Weight Loss – You already know that consistent resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet are keys to weight loss, but don’t sell yourself short. Just as important is adequate sleep. During sleep the body restores muscle glycogen levels, regulates insulin resistance and releases a cascade of growth hormones. Human Growth Hormone in particular helps the body heal, stimulates muscle growth and helps burn fat. Studies show that without enough sleep you may just be spinning your wheels. Boost your results, aim for 7-8 hours or actual sleep per night, more if you are an athlete or a teen. * 

Exercise for a Sharper, Faster, Wittier Brain – Next time you are having writers block, having difficulty making an important decision, or just not sure what you want, try going for a run or a bike ride. Actually any cardio would do. Cardiovascular exercise has been found to stimulate several principle areas of the brain, the frontal cortex or executive decision making area, the hippocampus where memories originate and the mood centers. Studies have shown that in as little as 20 minutes these areas light up with activity. So, next time you’re stuck with indecision get your cardio on and break free. *

The Ideal Exercise Frequency – Though doing something is clearly better than doing nothing, more is definitely better in this case. Studies have shown that 2 times a week yields some results, but to see a real effect 3 times a week is significantly better. Frequent stimulation triggers increased adaptive change which means measurable results. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week and at least 2 strength training sessions. Add to this that you should add small amounts of activity throughout the day such as walking a flight of stairs or taking a short walk for example. *

Have a Square of Dark Chocolate – A square of dark chocolate (7grams) can truly keep the doctor away. A good dark chocolate that is 80% cocoa or higher has been shown to increase blood flow, lower blood pressure and increase HDL levels (the good cholesterol). Dark chocolate also lowers inflammation, is a strong antioxidant and boosts brain cognition. Data from various studies shows a 39% decreased risk of heart attack and stroke in those that had 1 square a day. Even better have a square with a glass of red wine. Tasty right? *

Burnouts – Want a great high intensity boost to your workouts? Try burnouts. Burnouts also sometimes called drop sets are an excellent way to stimulate strength and size growth as well as pushing the lactic acid threshold (your muscles will go longer without shutting down). Start with a warm-up set of about 50-60% of your max weight. Then put on 80% and do as many reps as you can. Drop the weight about 15% and immediately start again. Drop the weight another 15% and go. The idea is to not rest between sets. After 3 hard sets you are done and can move on to the next exercise. Keep it to under 10 exercises total. *

Why this works – When lifting a heavy object the body recruits about 25 – 40% of your muscle motor units. A motor unit is comprised of a motor neuron and the muscle fibers it innervates. As you continue to lift some motor units come online as others drop off. Lactic acid build-up prevents motor units from firing and eventually the whole muscle fatigues. By dropping the weight on each subsequent set less motor units are required so you can continue pushing. This type of workout will condition the body to better deal with lactic acid build up (a waste byproduct from energy usage) by draining and buffering it better. I would use this training method about once every 2 weeks. * 

Avoid Processed Meats – Recent information confirms that processed meat is a carcinogen meaning it causes cancer. In fact processed meats have been placed in the same category as tobacco use. The equivalent of one hot dog per day (50 Grams) increases cancer risk by 18%. Clearly moderation is the key here. Processed meats have previously been linked to increased risk of heart disease.  *

Use it or lose it – Studies show how quickly we can lose our hard earned gains when we take a break from exercising. First signs of detraining come in as little as a week. Within 2 weeks cardiovascular output drops by about 10% while strength takes 4 weeks to decline noticeably. Age and illness can exacerbate the decline. Generally it takes twice as long to regain fitness levels as it took to lose it. The good news is those who have been fit can regain fitness levels easier than newbies who are trying to get fit for the first time.  Also, staying active in other ways while taking time off slows the decline. *

Abs of Steal – Want great abs, then do it the right way. You want to start by skipping the crunches and sit-ups they’re bad for your neck and back and not as effective as you might think. The continued flexion on the vertebrae during the bending motion causes uneven compression on the disks that leads to desiccation and cracking of the disk over time and eventually bulging. What you want to do are plank exercises that keep your body straight while under tension (weight on elbows and toes, body off the ground and straight). *

Another option from this position would be to bring one knee out and up toward the shoulder then back to starting position. Alternate sides as you go.  There are many varieties of planks that can be used, start with the basic ones above gradually adding to the duration of the exercise. The tendency is to stick your butt up in the air as the exercise gets difficult usually due to back muscle fatigue. Try to keep it level and just start with a shorter duration until you get stronger. Proper form is the key to the effectiveness of this and all exercise. * 

Reach for the Avocado – Next time you’re looking for a healthy and satisfying snack try reaching for an avocado. Avocado’s high fat content (heart healthy fat) gives it a creamy texture sure to please. The fat and fiber content in an avocado make for a particularly hunger satisfying treat that is high in potassium and has over 20 nutrients. So, next time you want and need a little something to hold you over for a couple of hours try spreading 1/3 of an avocado onto a whole grain cracker or slice of whole grain bread.  You’ll get a nice mix of healthy fat and fiber that will satisfy you longer than a piece of fruit alone. *

Weigh In – Many people think daily weigh-ins are obsessive or detrimental to weight loss. A 2015 study conducted at Cornell University found the opposite to be true. Those who weighed in daily lost more weight and kept it off, maintaining that loss even after 2 years. Make sure to step on the scale at the same time every day. If you have a fluctuation of say a few pounds in a day don’t freak out, its likely due to water retention; possible reason, a salty meal the night before or excess alcohol consumption. You’re looking for a pattern here, if the weight goes up for a few days then it’s time for a diet change. Finding the right diet for you is about lifestyle and not fads. *   

Go Greek – Want to fortify your protein intake while keeping it lean? Yogurt is a great option and better yet make it Greek style yogurt. Greek yogurt tends to be somewhat thicker and creamier than other styles.  I personally prefer the texture and find it more satisfying. Greek yogurt has over twice as much protein as conventional yogurts averaging around 12 grams per serving. Like most yogurts it is also a great source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and packed full of gut healthy probiotics. A couple of spoonfuls before a run or a weight workout and I’m ready to go. *     

Mindful Meditation – More and more we live in a world filled with the stresses of always being plugged in. Stress can lead to inflammation in the body, elevated blood pressure and abnormal cortisol levels. An eastern practice of meditation is exhibiting great benefit at lowering these stress levels all the way down to the cellular level. There are various ways to practice Mindful meditation, here is a simple one.  Take a strawberry focus on the shape of it, any indentations in it; the feel of it between your fingers. Move it closer, smell it, breathing in its aroma contemplating its flavor. Lick it paying attention to its feel and its taste. Slowly begin to eat it as you focus deeply on the flavor and how it feels in your mouth.  In all this should take about 5 minutes. Another benefit is lower calorie consumption. *

Skip the Aspirin – For years doctors and supply manufacturers have been touting a daily low dose aspirin as a weapon against heart attack. The thought was that since aspirin is an anti-inflammatory and blood thinner it might be effective at preventing heart attacks and strokes in otherwise healthy individuals. That has changed. The FDA’s new guidelines suggest the use of aspirin when acute symptoms such as severe chest pain occurs or for those who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke. For all others the increased risk of bleeding in the stomach or brain (though small) along with lack of evidence that it can prevent a first heart attack or stroke should preclude them of regular use. * 

Melatonin For Your Gut – We all know that melatonin is a sleep aid and that we produce it in our brains, but did you know that we make up 100 times more melatonin in our digestive track. Studies show that those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome can significantly benefit from taking supplemental melatonin daily. In addition to decreasing inflammation and bloating it also improves motility and lessens sensitivity to pain. Melatonin has also been shown to improve the symptoms of GERD lowering the use of anti-acid pills. Studies used 3-6mg taken at night for 8 weeks. *

Eat Peanut Butter and Lose Weight – In 2 recent studies from Harvard and Penn State researchers found that diets high in monounsaturated fats like peanut butter helped people lose weight. By replacing some of the carbohydrate in the diet with these healthy fats dieters lost more weight, were more satisfied and were able to stay on the diet much longer. During the diet the subjects ate 35% of their calories from fat, 50% from carbohydrates and 15% from protein. Nuts in general have a great satiety effect and make a great snack particularly when replacing a carbohydrate. Next time you need a snack consider half an apple in wedges spread with peanut butter. *