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45 best health tips ever
We've done the legwork for you and here they are: the 45 best health tips. Give yourself a boost.
We've done the legwork for you and here they are: the 45 best health tips. Make that 46 - taking the time to read this tops the list.
1. Copy your kitty: Learn to do stretching exercises when you wake up. It boosts circulation and digestion, and eases back pain.
2. Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show that eating a proper breakfast is one of the most positive things you can do if you are trying to lose weight. Breakfast skippers tend to gain weight. A balanced breakfast includes fresh fruit or fruit juice, a high-fibre breakfast cereal, low-fat milk or yoghurt, wholewheat toast, and a boiled egg.
3. Brush up on hygiene. Many people don't know how to brush their teeth properly. Improper brushing can cause as much damage to the teeth and gums as not brushing at all. Lots of people don’t brush for long enough, don’t floss and don’t see a dentist regularly. Hold your toothbrush in the same way that would hold a pencil, and brush for at least two minutes. This includes brushing the teeth, the junction of the teeth and gums, the tongue and the roof of the mouth. And you don't need a fancy, angled toothbrush – just a sturdy, soft-bristled one that you replace each month.
4. Neurobics for your mind. Get your brain fizzing with energy. American researchers coined the term ‘neurobics’ for tasks which activate the brain's own biochemical pathways and to bring new pathways online that can help to strengthen or preserve brain circuits. Brush your teeth with your ‘other’ hand, take a new route to work or choose your clothes based on sense of touch rather than sight. People with mental agility tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and age-related mental decline.
5. Get what you give! Always giving and never taking? This is the short road to compassion fatigue. Give to yourself and receive from others, otherwise you’ll get to a point where you have nothing left to give. And hey, if you can’t receive from others, how can you expect them to receive from you?
6. Get spiritual. A study conducted by the formidably sober and scientific Harvard University found that patients who were prayed for recovered quicker than those who weren’t, even if they weren’t aware of the prayer.
7. Get smelly. Garlic, onions, spring onions and leeks all contain stuff that’s good for you. A study at the Child’s Health Institute in Cape Town found that eating raw garlic helped fight serious childhood infections. Heat destroys these properties, so eat yours raw, wash it down with fruit juice or, if you’re a sissy, have it in tablet form.
8. Knock one back. A glass of red wine a day is good for you. A number of studies have found this, but a recent one found that the polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) in green tea, red wine and olives may also help protect you against breast cancer. It’s thought that the antioxidants help protect you from environmental carcinogens such as passive tobacco smoke.
9. Bone up daily. Get your daily calcium by popping a tab, chugging milk or eating yoghurt. It’ll keep your bones strong. Remember that your bone density declines after the age of 30. You need at least 200 milligrams daily, which you should combine with magnesium, or it simply won’t be absorbed.
10. Berries for your belly. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain plant nutrients known as anthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants. Blueberries rival grapes in concentrations of resveratrol – the antioxidant compound found in red wine that has assumed near mythological proportions. Resveratrol is believed to help protect against heart disease and cancer.
11. Curry favour. Hot, spicy foods containing chillies or cayenne pepper trigger endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Endorphins have a powerful, almost narcotic, effect and make you feel good after exercising. But go easy on the lamb, pork and mutton and the high-fat, creamy dishes served in many Indian restaurants.
12. Cut out herbs before ops. Some herbal supplements – from the popular St John's Wort and ginkgo biloba to garlic, ginger, ginseng and feverfew – can cause increased bleeding during surgery, warn surgeons. It may be wise to stop taking all medication, including herbal supplements, at least two weeks before surgery, and inform your surgeon about your herbal use.
13. I say tomato. Tomato is a superstar in the fruit and veggie pantheon. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful cancer fighter. They’re also rich in vitamin C. The good news is that cooked tomatoes are also nutritious, so use them in pasta, soups and casseroles, as well as in salads. The British Thoracic Society says that tomatoes and apples can reduce your risk of asthma and chronic lung diseases. Both contain the antioxidant quercetin. To enjoy the benefits, eat five apples a week or a tomato every other day.
14. Eat your stress away. Prevent low blood sugar as it stresses you out. Eat regular and small healthy meals and keep fruit and veggies handy. Herbal teas will also soothe your frazzled nerves. Eating unrefined carbohydrates, nuts and bananas boosts the formation of serotonin, another feel-good drug. Small amounts of protein containing the amino acid tryptamine can give you a boost when stress tires you out.
15. Load up on vitamin C.We need at least 90 mg of vitamin C per day and the best way to get this is by eating at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. So hit the oranges and guavas!
16. No folly in folic acid. Folic acid should be taken regularly by all pregnant mums and people with a low immunity to disease. Folic acid prevents spina bifida in unborn babies and can play a role in cancer prevention. It is found in green leafy vegetables, liver, fruit and bran.
17. A for Away. This vitamin, and beta carotene, help to boost immunity against disease. It also assists in the healing process of diseases such as measles and is recommended by the WHO. Good natural sources of vitamin A are kidneys, liver, dairy products, green and yellow vegetables, pawpaw, mangoes, chilli pepper, red sorrel and red palm oil.
18. Pure water. Don’t have soft drinks or energy drinks while you're exercising. Stay properlyhydrated by drinking enough water during your workout (just don't overdo things, as drinking too much water can also be dangerous). While you might need energy drinks for long-distance running, in shorter exercise sessions in the gym, your body will burn the glucose from the soft drink first, before starting to burn body fat. Same goes for eating sweets.
19. GI, Jane. Carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index, such as bread, sugar, honey and grain-based food will give instant energy and accelerate your metabolism. If you’re trying to burn fat, stick to beans, rice, pasta, lentils, peas, soya beans and oat bran, all of which have a low GI count.
20. Mindful living. You've probably heard the old adage that life's too short to stuff a mushroom. But perhaps you should consider the opposite: that life's simply too short NOT to focus on the simple tasks. By slowing down and concentrating on basic things, you'll clear your mind of everything that worries you. Really concentrate on sensations and experiences again: observe the rough texture of a strawberry's skin as you touch it, and taste the sweet-sour juice as you bite into the fruit; when your partner strokes your hand, pay careful attention to the sensation on your skin; and learn to really focus on simple tasks while doing them, whether it's flowering plants or ironing your clothes.
21. The secret of stretching. When you stretch, ease your body into position until you feel the stretch and hold it for about 25 seconds. Breathe deeply to help your body move oxygen-rich blood to those sore muscles. Don't bounce or force yourself into an uncomfortable position.
22. Do your weights workout first. Experts say weight training should be done first, because it's a higher intensity exercise compared to cardio. Your body is better able to handle weight training early in the workout because you're fresh and you have the energy you need to work it. Conversely, cardiovascular exercise should be the last thing you do at the gym, because it helps your body recover by increasing blood flow to the muscles, and flushing out lactic acid, which builds up in the muscles while you're weight training. It’s the lactic acid that makes your muscles feel stiff and sore.
23. Burn fat during intervals. To improve your fitness quickly and lose weight, harness the joys of interval training. Set the treadmill or step machine on the interval programme, where your speed and workload varies from minute to minute. Build up gradually, every minute and return to the starting speed. Repeat this routine. Not only will it be less monotonous, but you can train for a shorter time and achieve greater results.
24. Your dirtiest foot forward. If your ankles, knees, and hips ache from running on pavement, head for the dirt. Soft trails or graded roads are a lot easier on your joints than the hard stuff. Also, dirt surfaces tend to be uneven, forcing you to slow down a bit and focus on where to put your feet – great for agility and concentration.
25. Burn the boredom, blast the lard. Rev up your metabolism by alternating your speed and intensity during aerobic workouts. Not only should you alternate your routine to prevent burnout or boredom, but to give your body a jolt. If you normally walk at 6.5km/h on the treadmill or take 15 minutes to walk a km, up the pace by going at 8km/h for a minute or so during your workout. Do this every five minutes or so. Each time you work out, increase your bouts of speed in small increments.
26. Cool off without a beer. Don’t eat carbohydrates for at least an hour after exercise. This will force your body to break down body fat, rather than using the food you ingest. Stick to fruit and fluids during that hour, but avoid beer.
27. ‘Okay, now do 100 of those’. Instead of flailing away at gym, enlist the help – even temporarily – of a personal trainer. Make sure you learn to breathe properly and to do the exercises the right way. You’ll get more of a workout while spending less time at the gym.
28. Stop fuming. Don’t smoke and if you smoke already, do everything in your power to quit. Don’t buy into that my-granny-smoked-and-lived-to-be-90 crud – not even the tobacco giants believe it. Apart from the well-known risks of heart disease and cancer, orthopaedic surgeons have found that smoking accelerates bone density loss and constricts blood flow. So you could live to be a 90-year-old amputee who smells of stale tobacco smoke. Unsexy.
29. Ask about Mad Aunt Edith. Find out your family history. You need to know if there are any inherited diseases prowling your gene pool. According to the Mayo Clinic, USA, finding out what your grandparents died of can provide useful – even lifesaving – information about what’s in store for you. And be candid, not coy: 25 percent of the children of alcoholics become alcoholics themselves.
30. Do self-checks. Do regular self-examinations of your breasts. Most partners are more than happy to help, not just because breast cancer is the most common cancer among SA women. The best time to examine your breasts is in the week after your period.
31. My smear campaign. Have a pap smear once a year. Not on our list of favourite things, but it’s vital. Cervical cancer kills 200 000 women a year and it’s the most prevalent form of cancer among black women, affecting more than 30 percent. But the chances of survival are nearly 100 percent if it’s detected early. Be particularly careful if you became sexually active at an early age, have had multiple sex partners or smoke.
32. Understand hormones. Recent research suggests that short-term (less than five years) use of HRT is not associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer, but that using it for more than ten years might be. Breast cancer is detected earlier in women using HRT, as they are more alert to the disease than other women.
32. Beat the sneezes. There are more than 240 allergens, some rare and others very common. If you’re a sneezer due to pollen: close your car’s windows while driving, rather switch on the internal fan (drawing in air from the outside), and avoid being outdoors between 5am and 10 am when pollen counts are at their highest; stick to holidays in areas with low pollen counts, such as the seaside and stay away from freshly cut grass.
33. Doggone. If you’re allergic to your cat, dog, budgie or pet piglet, stop suffering the ravages of animal dander: Install an air filter in your home. Keep your pet outside as much as possible and brush him outside of the home to remove loose hair and other allergens. Better yet, ask someone else to do so.
34. Asthma-friendly sports. Swimming is the most asthma-friendly sport of all, but cycling, canoeing, fishing, sailing and walking are also good, according to the experts. Asthma need not hinder peak performance in sport. 11 percent of the US Olympic team were asthmatics – and between them they won 41 medals.
35. Deep heat. Sun rays can burn even through thick glass, and under water. Up to 35 percent of UVB rays and 85 percent of UVA rays penetrate thick glass, while 50 percent of UVB rays and 77 percent of UVA rays penetrate a meter of water and wet cotton clothing. Which means you’ll need sunscreen while driving your car on holiday, and water resistant block if you’re swimming.
36. Fragrant ageing. Stay away from perfumed or flavoured suntan lotions which smell of coconut oil or orange if you want your skin to stay young. These lotions contain psoralen, which speeds up the ageing process. Rather use a fake-tan lotion. Avoid sun beds, which are as bad as the sun itself.
37. Sunscreen can be a smokescreen. Sunscreen is unlikely to stop you from being sunburned, or to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. That’s because most people don’t apply it properly, and stay in the sun too long. The solution? Slather on sunscreen daily and reapply it often, especially if you’ve been in the water. How much? At least enough to fill a shot glass.
38. Laugh and cry. Having a good sob is reputed to be good for you. So is laughter, which has been shown to help heal bodies, as well as broken hearts. Studies in Japan indicate that laughter boosts the immune system and helps the body shake off allergic reactions.
39. It ain’t over till it’s over. End relationships that no longer work for you, as you could be spending time in a dead end. Rather head for more meaningful things. You could be missing opportunities while you’re stuck in a meaningless rut, trying to breathe life into something that is long gone.
40. Strong people go for help. Ask for assistance. Gnashing your teeth in the dark will not get you extra brownie points. It is a sign of strength to ask for assistance and people will respect you for it. If there is a relationship problem, the one who refuses to go for help is usually the one with whom the problem lies to begin with.
41. Save steamy scenes for the bedroom. Showering or bathing in water that’s too hot will dry out your skin and cause it to age prematurely. Warm water is much better. Apply moisturiser while your skin is still damp – it’ll be absorbed more easily. Adding a little olive oil to your bath with help keep your skin moisturised too.
42. Here’s the rub. Improve your circulation and help your lymph glands to drain by the way you towel off. Helping your lymph glands function can help prevent them becoming infected. When drying off your limbs and torso, brush towards the groin on your legs and towards the armpits on your upper body. You can do the same during gentle massage with your partner.
43. Sugar-coated. More than three million South Africans suffer from type 2 diabetes, and the incidence is increasing – with new patients getting younger. New studies show this type of diabetes is often part of a metabolic syndrome (X Syndrome), which includes high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. More than 80 percent of type 2 diabetics die of heart disease, so make sure you control your glucose levels, and watch your blood pressure and cholesterol counts.
44. Relax, it’s only sex. Stress and sex make bad bedfellows, it seems. A US survey showed that stress, kids and work are main factors to dampen libido. With the advent of technology that allows us to work from home, the lines between our jobs and our personal lives have become blurred. People work longer hours, commutes are longer and work pervades all aspects of our lives, including our sexual relationships. Put nooky and intimacy on the agenda, just like everything else.
45. Good night, sweetheart. Rest heals the body and has been shown to lessen the risk of heart trouble and psychological problems.
Do you have trouble losing weight? Or would you like to lose it faster? Here are the 17 best tips for you.
For some people losing all of their excess weight is easier said than done. But there are many common errors people make. Correcting them can restart or speed up your weight loss.
Based on a decade of experience treating obese patients, reading studies, going to obesity conferences and discussing this topic with the world’s biggest experts, here’s my best advice for maximizing your weight loss.
Start at the top of the list (most important) and go down as far as you need. Perhaps you only need the first piece of advice?
If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been an infinite number of weight loss diets based on eating less carbs. What’s new is that at least 17 modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
Obviously it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat less calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later a normal person gives up and eats, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
The main advantage of low carb diets is that they cause you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, avoiding it may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to eat a suitable number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.
Bottom line: A low carb diet reduces your hunger and makes it easier to eat less. And it might even increase your fat burning at rest. Study after study show that low carb is the smart way to lose weight and that it improves important health markers.
Don’t be hungry. The most common mistake when starting a low carb diet: Reducing carb intake while still being afraid of fat. The problem is that carbs and fat are the body’s two main energy sources. It needs at least one.
Low carb AND low fat = starvation
Avoiding both carbs and fat results in hunger, cravings and fatigue. Sooner or later people can’t stand it and give up. The solution is to eat more natural fat until you feel satisfied. For example:
Meat (including the fat)
Coconut oil, etc.
Always eat enough, so that you feel satisfied, especially in the beginning of the weight-loss process. Doing this on a low carb diet means that the fat you eat will be burned as fuel by your body, as your levels of the fat storing hormone insulin will be lowered. You’ll become a fat burning machine. You’ll lose excess weight without hunger.
Do you still fear saturated fat? Don’t. The fear of saturated fat is based on obsolete theories that have been proven incorrect by modern science. Butter is fine food. However, feel free to eat mostly unsaturated fat (e.g. olive oil, avocado, fatty fish) if you prefer. This could be called a Mediterranean low carb diet and works great too.
Eating when hungry also implies something else: If you’re not hungry you probably don’t need to eat yet. When on a LCHF diet you can trust your feelings of hunger and satiety again. Feel free to eat the number of times per day that works best for you.
Some people eat three times a day and occasionally snack in between (note that frequent snacking could mean that you’d benefit from adding fat to your meals, to increase satiety). Some people only eat once or twice a day and never snack. Whatever works for you. Just eat when you’re hungry.
3. Eat Real Food
Another common mistake when eating a low carb diet is getting fooled by the creative marketing of special “low carb” products. Remember: An effective low carb diet for weight loss should be based on real food, like this:
Real food is what humans have been eating for thousands or (even better) millions of years, e.g. meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, butter, olive oil, nuts etc.
If you want to lose weight you’d better avoid special “low carb” products that are full of carbs. This should be obvious but creative marketers are doing all they can to fool you (and get your money). They will tell you that you can eat cookies, pasta, ice cream, bread and plenty of chocolate on a low carb diet, as long as you buy their brand. They’re full of it. Don’t be fooled.
These three companies are not unique. There are thousands of similar companies trying to trick you into buying their “low carb” junk food, full of starch, sugar alcohols, flour, sweeteners and strange additives. Two simple rules to avoid this junk:
Don’t eat “low carb” versions of high carb stuff, like cookies, bars, chocolate, bread, pasta or ice cream – unless you are SURE of the ingredients (perhaps by making it yourself).
Avoid products with the words “net carbs” on them. That’s usually just a way to fool you.
Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short).
4. Measure Your Progress Wisely
Tracking successful weight loss is sometimes trickier than you think. Focusing only on weight and standing on the scale every day might be misleading, cause unnecessary anxiety and undermine your motivation for no good reason.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
Losing fat and gaining muscles is great progress, but you may miss it if you only measure your weight. Thus it’s smart to also track the disappearance of your belly fat, by measuring your waist circumference.
Here’s how to do it:
Put the measuring tape around your middle, like in the picture above, slightly above your belly button (to be exact: at the midpoint between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone, at your side).
Exhale and relax (don’t suck in your stomach).
Make sure the measuring tape is snug, without compressing your skin.
Compare your result to these recommendations:
I recommend aiming for “excellent” but it’s not always realistic. Young people can usually achieve it, but for some middle-aged or older women it may be a major victory to get all the way to “decent”.
I suggest measuring your waist circumference and weight before starting and then perhaps once a week or once a month. Write the results down so that you can track your progress. If you want you can measure more areas: around the buttocks, the chest, the arms, legs, etc.
Note that your weight can fluctuate up and down several pounds from day to day, depending on fluid balance and stomach contents: Don’t worry about short term changes, instead follow the long-term trend.
If you can, try to check other important health markers when starting out, like these:
These markers are almost universally improved on a low carb diet, even before major weight loss. Re-checking these health markers after a few months can be great for your motivation as they’ll usually show that you’re not just losing weight, you’re gaining health too.
PS: Don’t have a measuring tape at home? Try these options:
Use any piece of string. Wrap the string around your waist and clip off the extra on day one. This string could magically appear to become longer and longer every week you wrap it around your waist.
Comparing how an old pair of jeans fit is also a decent option.
5. Be Patient
It usually takes years or decades to gain a lot of weight. Trying to lose it all as quickly as possible by starving yourself rarely works well long-term, that’s just the recipe for “yo-yo dieting”. To succeed you need something that works long term.
What to aim for
It’s common to lose 2-6 pounds (1-3 kg) within the first week on a strict low carb diet, and then on average about one pound (0.5 kg) per week as long as you have a lot of weight remaining to lose. This translates into about 50 pounds (25 kilos) per year.
Every 5 pounds of fat loss roughly equals 1 inch lost around the waist (1 kilo = 1 cm).
Young males sometimes lose weight quicker than this, perhaps twice as fast. Post-menopausal women may lose it at a slightly slower pace. People eating a very strict low carb diet may lose weight quicker, as well as those who exercise a lot (a bonus). And if you have an enormous amount of excess weight to lose you could start out much faster.
As you get closer to your ideal weight the loss slows, until you stabilize at a weight that your body feels is right. Hardly anyone gets underweight on a low carb diet – as long as they eat when hungry.
Are you coming off a period of semi-starvation (calorie counting)? Focus on your waist circumference and health markers (see advice #4) at first as it sometimes takes several weeks before weight loss is apparent.
Weight loss plateaus
Expect weight loss plateaus: Days or weeks where nothing seems to happen on the scale. Everybody gets them. Stay calm. Keep doing what you’re doing and eventually things will start happening again (if not, check the other 16 tips).
How to lose weight forever
Losing a lot of weight long-term and keeping it off forever won’t happen unless you change your habits forever. If you lose weight and then return to living exactly the way did when you gained weight, don’t be surprised when the excess weight returns. It will.
Maintaining weight loss requires long-term change and patience. If this doesn’t seem possible for you, then you’re perhaps more interested in one of these magical diet scams.
Forget quick fixes: If you lose some weight every month, eventually you’ll get rid of all your excess weight. That’s inevitable progress. That’s what you want.
PS: Long-term change is only hard in the beginning, especially during the first couple of weeks. It’s like quitting smoking. Once you develop new habits it becomes easier and easier every week. Eventually it comes naturally.
How to lose weight faster
Keep reading these tips!
6. Women: Avoid Eating Fruit
This is a tip that goes for men as well, of course, but eating fruit is a more common obstacle for women trying to lose weight.
This advice is controversial as fruit has an almost magical health aura today. People may believe that fruit is nutritious but unfortunately fruit contains a lot of sugar – around 10% by weight (the rest is mostly water). Just taste an orange or a grape. Sweet, right?
Five servings of fruit per day is equivalent to the amount of sugar in 16 ounces of soda (500 ml). Contrary to what many people believe the sugar is more or less identical (about 50% glucose, 50% fructose).
Sugar from fruit can shut down fat burning. This can increase your hunger and slow your weight loss. For best results avoid fruit – or enjoy it occasionally as a treat.
This applies to women too, but men drink more beer on average. Beer contains rapidly digested carbs that shut down fat burning. That’s why beer is sometimes referred to as “liquid bread”. There’s a good reason for the term “beer belly.”
Pure spirits like whiskey, cognac, vodka (avoid sweetened cocktails – try vodka, soda, lime instead)
These drinks hardly contain any sugar/carbohydrates so they’re better than beer. However, large amounts of alcohol might slow weight loss somewhat, so moderation is still a good idea.
8. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Many people replace sugar with artificial sweeteners in the belief that this will reduce their calorie intake and cause weight loss. It sounds plausible. Several studies, however, have failed to show any positive effect on weight loss by consuming artificial sweeteners instead of plain sugar.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that the sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly take place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showingincreased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Furthermore, artificial sweeteners can maintain an addiction to sweets and lead to snack cravings. And the long term effects of consuming artificial sweeteners are unknown.
If you’re having trouble losing weight I suggest that you completely avoid sweeteners. As a bonus you’ll soon start to enjoy the natural sweetness of real food, once you’re no longer adapted to the overpowering artificial sweetness of junk food and “diet” sodas.
9. Review Any Medications
Many prescription drugs can stall your weight loss. Discuss any change in treatment with your doctor. Here are the worst three:
Insulin injections, especially at higher doses,are probably the worst obstacle for weight loss. There are three ways to reduce your need for insulin: A.Eat less carbs, which makes it a easier to lose weight. The less carbs you eat the less insulin you need. Remember to lower your doses if you can. B. If this isn’t enough, treatment with Metformin tablets (at a dose of 2 grams – 3 grams/day) can decrease the need for insulin (at least for type 2 diabetics). C. If this is not enough to get off insulin (again, for type 2 diabetics) you could try newer promising drugs like Victoza or Byetta. These reduce the need for insulin and cause weight loss.
Other diabetes medications. Insulin-releasing tablets (e.g. sulphonylureas) often lead to weight gain. These include: Minodiab, Euglucon, Daonil, and Glibenclamide. Tablets like Avandia, Actos, Starlix and NovoNorm also encourage weight gain. But not Metformin. The newer drugs Victoza and Byetta (injectable) often lead to weight loss, but possible long-term side effects are still unknown. More on diabetes
Cortisone as an oral drug is another common culprit (e.g. Prednisolone). Cortisone often causes weight gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g. more than 5 mg Prednisolone per day). Unfortunately cortisone is often an essential medicine for those who are prescribed it, but the dose should be adjusted frequently so you don’t take more than you need.Asthma inhalers and other local cortisone treatments, like creams or nose sprays, hardly affect weight.
These other medications can also cause problems:
Neuroleptics/antipsychotic drugs, can often encourage weight gain. Especially newer drugs like Zyprexa (Olanzapine).
Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Tryptizol, Saroten, and Clomipramine; as well as newer drugs such as Remeron (Mirtazapine). Lithium (for manic-depressive disorder) often leads to weight gain. The most common antidepressants known as SSRI’s (for example Citalopram and Sertraline) usually don’t impact weight significantly. More on depression
Some contraceptives often contribute to slight weight gain, especially those that contain only progesterone and no estrogen, for example the mini-pill, the contraceptive injection, or a contraceptive implant. More on fertility
Blood pressure medicine, in the form of beta blockers can cause weight gain. These drugs include: Seloken, Metoprolol and Atenolol. More on high blood pressure
Epilepsy drugs may cause weight gain (e.g. Carbamazepine and Valproate).
Allergy medicines called antihistamines can cause weight gain, especially at high doses. Cortisone is even worse (see above). More on allergies
Antibiotics can possibly lead to a temporary weight gain by disturbing the gut microbiota and increasing the amount of energy we absorb from food. This is still speculative for humans but it’s another reason not to use antibiotics unless you truly need it.
10. Stress less, sleep more
Have you ever wished for more hours of sleep, and a less stressful life in general? Most people have – and that can be bad news for their weight.
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
You should also make an effort to get enough good sleep, preferably every night. Strive to wake up refreshed of your own accord, independently of the alarm clock. If you’re the kind of person who always gets brutally woken up by the alarm ringing, you might never be giving your body adequate rest.
One way to combat this is to go to bed early enough for your body to wake up autonomously before the alarm clock goes off. Letting yourself get a good night’s sleep is another way of reducing stress hormone levels.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, comes hand in hand with sugar cravings. It also has an adverse effect on self-discipline and makes it painfully easy to give in to temptation (it’s no coincidence that induced sleep deprivation is a common interrogation technique). Similarly, sleep deprivation weakens your resolve to work out.
Do you have trouble sleeping even if there’s ample time for it? Here are five tips from an expert:
Stick to a certain bedtime every evening. In the long term, this will help the body prepare for sleep at that time.
No coffee after 2 pm. Just don’t – and remember that it takes time for caffeine to leave the body.
Limit your alcohol intake three hours before bedtime. While booze might make you woozy, it worsens the quality of sleep.
Limit exercise in the four hours before bedtime. Physical activity can perk you up and make it difficult to get to sleep for several hours afterwards.
Get 15 minutes of sunlight every day. This is good for your circadian rhythm (your “body clock”).
Finally, make sure that your bedroom is dark enough, and stays at a pleasant temperature. Sleep well!
Difficult, but worthwhile
Many may find the above guidelines difficult to follow, perhaps because of a lack of time (or the equivalent – small children!). But stressing less and sleeping more doesn’t just feel good. It can also play a part in helping you get thinner.
11. Eat less dairy products and nuts
Can one eat as much as one likes, and still lose weight? Yes, it tends to work just fine with a low-carbohydrate diet, as appetite regulation happens effortlessly.
However, despite the fact that a low-carbohydrate diet generally makes it easy to eat just enough, there are foods classified as low carb which become a problem in larger quantities. If you find yourself having a hard time losing weight on a low carb diet, you could try to be more careful with:
Dairy products (yoghurt, cream, cheese)
Dairy products all contain a varying amount of lactose (the milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulinresponse, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and different yoghurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
Exempt from all these dairy product warnings is butter, which is almost pure fat. Butter may be consumed liberally as desired.
Nuts, which are the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down large quantities. Cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight. For someone following a strict LCHF diet with a 20 grams of carbs per day allowance, this means that consuming 100 grams (which happens in a flash!) will have filled their daily quota. Peanutstend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them in the clear either.
So, for those of you having trouble losing weight: use nuts sparingly. When in a situation where nuts are an absolute must, know that the most harmless ones carb-wise aremacadamia nuts (usually around 5% carbs), or Brazil nuts (around 3%).
12. Supplement vitamins and minerals
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? Perhaps our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels. After all – if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
On the other hand, reliable access to vitamins and minerals could perhaps mean decreased hunger levels and decreased cravings, thereby promoting weight loss.
The above is, of course, speculation. But now there are well-performed studies which suggest it might not be far from the truth.
A lack of vitamin D is probably the most common deficiency in northern countries such as Canada, or most of the US. Three recent studies indicate that, when compared to a placebo, a vitamin D supplement can decrease your fat weight or waist measurement .
A study from 2010 involved around a hundred women with weight issues, separating them into three groups. One group received a daily multivitamin supplement, the other a daily calcium supplement, and the last group only a placebo. The study carried on for half a year.
Unsurprisingly, the results showed that nothing had happened to the weight of the women receiving calcium or the placebo. However, the group which took the multivitamin lost more weight – about 3 kg more – and improved their health markers. Among other things, their basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories when at rest) increased.
Nutrient-dense, good food is certainly the foundation of weight loss. But an adequate amount of vitamin D can be difficult to ingest via food. In the case of a lack of sun (such as during the darker months of autumn and winter), it’s wise to supplement for multiple health reasons – and perhaps even for your weight.
If you’re overweight and not entirely sure that your diet provides enough nutrients, it may be worthwhile to take a multivitamin pill. Unfortunately, they still contain only minimal doses of vitamin D, so you need both for the full effect.
13. Exercise smart
Do you wonder why this weight-loss tip doesn’t show up until number 13 on the list? It’s because few things are so overrated for weight loss as exercise is.
Have you ever watched “The Biggest Loser”? The participants take leave from their jobs (and family) for months. They are allowed only small portions of food, and work out as though it was their full-time job – 40 hours a week, sometimes more. This method is clearly unsustainable for your average person in the long run.
Just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or getting off the bus one stop earlier, isn’t going to change the numbers on your bathroom scales. It’s a myth. Sorry about that. Studies show that if you just start exercising, you’re going to need at least one hour of tough workouts every single day to noticeably lose weight.
Basically, the effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 13 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to train for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the ground level windows of your house.
Exercise cannot compensate for other issues in your life. Those must be addressed first.
The good news
If, on the other hand, you’ve already taken care of steps 1-12, you should have a rested and recharged body which is already happily burning fat. In this case, increased activity will accelerate your weight loss, and act as an nice bonus. You’ll be burning even more fat from the very first step.
For example, you could take long walks (golf), cycle, dance, or play any sport you’re happy and comfortable with.
Exercise also burns the body’s glycogen stores, which are essentially carbohydrate. This means that after a workout, you can eat a little more carbs than you otherwise can permit yourself, without negative effects on insulin or fat storage. Also, don’t forget that the non-weight-related health effects of exercise are quite impressive.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), orinterval training. Such exercise increases body levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
As a final bonus, exercise can both make you feel and look better.
What kind of activity suits you?
14. Achieve optimal ketosis
Warning: Not recommended for type 1 diabetics, see below.
We’ve now arrived at tip number 14. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 13 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.
So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low carb. This is because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. This tends to cause you to want to consume less calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.
How do you know you’re getting the maximum hormonal impact from your low-carb diet? You do that by achieving what’s known as “optimal ketosis”.
Ketosis is a state at which the body has an extremely high fat-burning rate. Even the brain runs on fat, via ketone bodies. These are energy molecules in the blood (like blood sugar) which become fuel for our brains after being converted from fat by the liver.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Today, there are reasonably-priced gadgets available for measuring ketone levels at home. One needle prick of the finger, and in just a few seconds you’ll know your blood ketone level.
Blood ketones are best measured on a fasted stomach in the morning (before breakfast, that is). Here are a few pointers on how to interpret the result:
Below 0.5 mmol/L is not considered “ketosis”. At this level, you’re far away from maximum fat-burning.
Between 0.5-1.5 mmol/L is light nutritional ketosis. You’ll be getting a good effect on your weight, but not optimal.
Around 1.5 – 3 mmol/L is what’s called optimal ketosis and is recommended for maximum weight loss.
Values of over 3 mmol/L aren’t neccessary. That is, they will achieve neither better nor worse results than being at the 1.5-3 level. Higher values can also sometimes mean that you’re not getting enough food. For type 1 diabetics, it can be caused by a severe lack of insulin, see below.
Ketones in urine
Ketone levels can also be measured in a more old-fashioned way, with urine test sticks (sold prescription-free in pharmacies or on Amazon). Ketone sticks give less reliable results for several reasons, and the above recommendations can’t be straightforwardly applied to them. They are, however, much cheaper.
My personal experience
Feel free to read my accounts of a two-month personal trial:
Although I was quite happy with my weight before these trials, they resulted in a further loss of 4.5kgs (10 pounds) and 7cm (3 inches) around my waist – without additional exercise or even the slightest resemblance of hunger.
How to achieve optimal ketosis
Many who firmly believe they are eating a strict low-carb diet are surprised when they measure their blood ketones. They may be at around only 0.2 or 0.5 – quite far off from the sweet spot! Why?
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sourced of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will converted into glucose in the body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
The secret to getting around this is usually to eat your fill with more fat. For example, if you have a bigger helping of herb butter to your steak, you might not feel like having a second steak, and instead feel satisfied after the first one.
A popular trick people use to ingest more fat is “fat coffee” (sometimes called “Magic Bullet Coffee” or MBC). It involves adding one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of coconut oil to your (morning) coffee, and requires a food blender for the right texture.
More fat in your food will fill you up more. This will ensure you eat less protein, and even less carbohydrate. Your insulin will drop and, hopefully, you’ll be able to reach optimal ketosis. And that’s when many a stubborn weight plateau is overcome.
If it doesn’t work
Being in optimal ketosis for a prolonged period of time (say, a month) will ensure that you experience the maximal hormonal effect from eating a low-carb diet. If this doesn’t result in noticeable weight loss, you can be certain that too many carbs are NOT part of your weight issue and not the obstacle to your weight loss. There are, in fact, other causes of obesity and being overweight. The next three tips in this series might help you.
Order a ketone meter online and start measuring. There are a few different models, take a look at this one and this one.
Watch my video interview with the American doctor Peter Attia, on a strictly ketogenic low-carb diet: Very Low Carb Performance
A word of warning
If you have type 1 diabetes, you should not follow the above advice on optimal ketosis – it may be risky. If you have ketones in your blood at all, you must be sure that your blood sugar levels are normal. If they are, you’re in normal ketosis – just like the ketosis of healthy people who stick to a strict low carb diet.
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
15. Get Your Hormones Checked
So you’ve followed the previous tips, implemented major lifestyle changes and established that neither medication nor vitamin deficiency is an issue. You’ve even tried being in optimal ketosis for a while (ensuring low insulin levels). And you still can’t hit the normal weight mark?
If this applies to you, it’s high time to consider the possibility that hormonal imbalances are the cause of your troubles. There are three common problem areas:
Some people, especially women, suffer decreased metabolism as a result of thyroid hormone deficiency – hypothyroidism. Common symptoms are:
In these cases, weight gain resulting from decreased metabolism usually do not exceed fifteen pounds.
Your doctor can easily arrange for you to take a blood test to measure the concentration of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If the test comes back and everything looks good, your thyroid gland is probably fine. For a more exact diagnosis, you can ask them to measure the actual levels of thyroid hormone in the blood (T3 and T4).
Two ways to avoid becoming deficient in thyroid hormone:
Make sure you consume enough iodine, which is a building block of thyroid hormone. Good sources are fish, shellfish and iodised salt (or sea salt).
Very low levels of thyroid hormone usually indicate an autoimmune reaction to the thyroid gland itself. This means you’ll have to take thyroid hormone supplements orally, usually the stable form T4 (Levaxin), which your doctor can prescribe for you. Your body will transform this into the active T3 hormone when necessary. The supplement dose should be adjusted so that you reach normal hormone levels (TSH, T3, T4) and sufficiently alleviate symptoms – though a few people feel best when keeping TSH slightly below normal.
Some people feel better supplementing the already active T3 (sometimes prepared from pig thyroid glands), as it can give a stronger effect than the T4 hormone, but its effect is often harder to control. Swedish healthcare rarely prescribes or offers such T3 treatment, as it often lacks advantages and may pose a risk when doses are high for an extended period of time.
“Hypothyroidism Type 2″
Some alternative health coaches will diagnose you with the condition “hypothyroidism type 2″ if you’re experiencing symptoms of fatigue etc., despite normal blood levels of thyroid hormones, and will recommend supplementation anyway. Be skeptical of this. You’ll likely end up trying to mask other health issues (i.e. the real causes of your symptoms) by slathering your system with overdoses of thyroid hormone.
Of course, some people will certainly feel more lively and alert (at least in the short term) running on an overdose of thyroid hormone. On the other hand, many people feel more lively and energetic when using amphetamine, too. That doesn’t mean their fatigue was caused by a lack of amphetamine!
Sex hormones also affect your weight:
Women: Women can suffer from the endocrine disorder PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome – which elevates testosterone and insulin levels. This can mean weight gain and menstrual disorders (very common), infertility, acne and male pattern hair growth (such as facial hair). A low-carbohydrate diet is a good treatment for this. More on PCOS.
During menopause, a woman’s level of the female sex hormone estrogen drops. This often causes some weight gain, especially around the gut (so-called central obesity). Any excess weight gained after menopause will tend to be less femininely proportioned, less curvy.
Men: From middle age and onwards, men experience gradually declining levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. This leads to slight weight gain, also typically around the gut, and decreased muscle mass.
Of course, you can also affect testosterone levels by getting your doctor to prescribe a testosterone supplement (a blood test will confirm any deficiency). Women can use estrogen supplementation for climacteric problems.
It’s important you take into account, however, that supplementation of testosterone or estrogen for years on end, in doses that are abnormally large for your age, will increase the risk of prostate cancer (in men) and breast cancer (in women).
It may be wise to accept that you don’t (and shouldn’t!) have the body of a 20-year-old when you’re several times that age. A better option might be to try and focus on a healthy lifestyle instead, and to be as happy and grateful as you can for the body you have.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (seetip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your utmost to do something about this.
In rare and extreme cases, you could be dealing with a specific kind of tumour that drives cortisol production. The condition is called Cushing’s syndrome. If you suspect you’re suffering from this, consult your doctor and they will run the appropriate tests
HEALTY TIPS TO LOOSE WEIGHT
If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, don’t start off by trying to overhaul all your eating and exercise habits. You’re better off finding several simple things you can do on a daily basis—along with following the cardinal rules of eating more vegetables and less fat and getting more physical activity. Together, they should send the scale numbers in the right direction: down.
1. Indulge in fat releasing foods. They should help keep you from feeling deprived and binging on higher-calorie foods. For instance:
Honey. Just 64 fat releasing calories in one tablespoon. Drizzle on fresh fruit.
Eggs. Just 70 calories in one hard-boiled egg, loaded with fat releasing protein. Sprinkle with chives for an even more elegant treat.
Part-skim ricotta cheese. Just 39 calories in one ounce of this food, packed with fat releasing calcium. Dollop over a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert.
Dark chocolate. About 168 calories in a one-ounce square, but it’s packed with fat releasing fiber.
2. Treat high-calorie foods as jewels in the crown. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of salad.
3. After breakfast, make water your primary drink. At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year — or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.
4. Carry a palm-size notebook everywhere you go for one week. Write down every single morsel that enters your lips—even water. Studies have found that people who maintain food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t.
5. Buy a pedometer, clip it to your belt, and aim for an extra 1,000 steps a day. On average, sedentary people take only 2,000 to 3,000 steps a day. Adding 2,000 steps will help you maintain your current weight and stop gaining weight; adding more than that will help you lose weight.
6. Add 10 percent to the amount of daily calories you think you’re eating, then adjust your eating habits accordingly. If you think you’re consuming 1,700 calories a day and don’t understand why you’re not losing weight, add another 170 calories to your guesstimate. Chances are, the new number is more accurate.
7. Eat five or six small meals or snacks a day instead of three large meals. A 1999 South African study found that when men ate parts of their morning meal at intervals over five hours, they consumed almost 30 percent fewer calories at lunch than when they ate a single breakfast. Other studies show that even if you eat the same number of calories distributed this way, your body releases less insulin, which keeps blood sugar steady and helps control hunger.
8. Walk for 45 minutes a day. The reason we’re suggesting 45 minutes instead of the typical 30 is that a Duke University study found that while 30 minutes of daily walking is enough to prevent weight gain in most relatively sedentary people, exercise beyond 30 minutes results in weight and fat loss. Burning an additional 300 calories a day with three miles of brisk walking (45 minutes should do it) could help you lose 30 pounds in a year without even changing how much you’re eating.
9. Find an online weight-loss buddy. A University of Vermont study found that online weight-loss buddies help you keep the weight off. The researchers followed volunteers for 18 months. Those assigned to an Internet-based weight maintenance program sustained their weight loss better than those who met face-to-face in a support group.
10. Bring the color blue into your life more often. There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: Believe it or not, the color blue functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth. Conversely, avoid red, yellow, and orange in your dining areas. Studies find they encourage eating