Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why Do we Eat More in Winter? Funny You Should ask...

Always wondered why we pick up more weight in winter?
here is an article on why:
Think of it as an extended holiday food coma. From late fall to spring, most people just can’t resist the lure of their favorite foods — from holiday cookies and hot chocolate to warm bowls of chili and cheesy pasta. It’s not entirely clear whether this desire to eat more during winter is an animal instinct to fuel up in order to survive cold weather, or whether it’s simply because fatty, high-calorie foods are more readily available during the most wonderful time of the year. Here, we round up a few of the top theories — and offer tips to help you keep your eating on track year-round.
Craving Carbs? It Could Be SAD
If your cold-weather cravings come in the form of pasta, cookies, pastries, and other carbs, you might actually just be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It’s normal to want to cope with long, cold nights by filling up on food — numerous studies have shown that the brain actually produces feeling of happiness when you consume high-calorie, high-fat foods.
To keep your diet in check while still warding off seasonal depression, fill up with lean protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Omega-3s have been shown to have mood-boosting power while protein will help keep you full and satisfied. If you’re going to give in to a craving (and most experts agree you occasionally should), give it a healthy makeover. If you crave a big bowl of pasta and cheese, switch out regular enriched pasta for whole grain and add lean protein to the mix, along with a few vegetables for vitamins and fiber.
If it’s dessert you want, go for a steaming mug of hot dark chocolate, which has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, raise levels of healthy cholesterol, and be a mood booster. Plus, researchers at Yale University recently found that things that are physically warm, such as a hot shower or a warm drink, can help people feel happier and less lonely.
Dark Days Mean More Food
The tendency to overeat during the winter might come down to basic biology. Ira Ockene, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School told NPR that winter eating could just be our primitive impulses urging us to stockpile for the cold months ahead. A 2005 study Ockene conducted and published in the journal Nature found that food intake patterns do vary season to season, as does body weight. Researchers found that study participants consumed an average of 86 more calories per day in the fall, as compared to the spring. In fall, participants also ate the highest total amount of fat and saturated fat. The lowest levels of physical activity were observed in the winter.
In his interview with NPR, Ockene also said that less light prompts us to seek food and eat it faster, offering another explanation for why we eat more as the days get shorter.
Winter Munchies Might Just Be Tradition
According to some scientists, winter weight gain is just a product of our environment, not biology. Between the holidays, Super Bowl Sunday, and Valentine’s Day, winter is packed with opportunities to overload on traditional, fatty foods. This coupled with a decrease in physical activity during cold winter months, and it’s only natural that most people gain a pound or two during winter and lose it come spring.
New research also sheds light on why we overeat specific foods during winter. A recent study conducted at the Canadian University of Maryland found that when love has been put into something made for our benefit, the receiver perceives the end result as being better. So if Grandma makes your favorite Christmas cookies just for you, you’ll think that the cookies actually taste better because of the emotional connection between you. And the more you remember loving the food, the more likely you are to indulge next time. The best advice? Splurge on the foods you really love, and stick to a balanced diet of whole grains, lean protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables the rest of the time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Weight Watchers Program

from :

About Weight Watchers founder, Jean Nidetch

Jean Nidetch was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1923. She says she was an overweight homemaker - her term was 'housewife' - who was very partial to cookies. Nidetch had taken part in several fad diets, one of which was under the sponsorship of the New York City Board of Health.
She managed to lose 20 pounds (9 kilos), but was concerned her 'weak resolve' would mean a return to her previous body weight. Nidetch got in touch with several friends and started a support group.
This support group evolved and soon there were weekly classes - in 1963 Nidetch founded the Weight Watchers Organization.1
In 1978, the food company H. J. Heinz bought Weight Watchers. Nidetch is still a consultant, and has set up numerous scholarship programs at the University of Nevada and the University of California (Los Angeles). 
The thrust of the Weight Watcher's program is on regular meetings, monitoring and encouragement, through self-help group type sessions. The dieter aims for a target weight or BMI (body mass index) of between 20 and 25.
If your body mass index is below 20 you are considered as too thin, if it is over 25 your are overweight, if it is between 20 and 25 you are within the ideal weight range. People can aim for a BMI outside the 20 to 25 parameters as long as they have a doctor's note saying so.

The importance of support networks

Weight Watchers Center, Newton Highlands MA
The Weight Watchers program includes regular meetings, group support and a points system.
Weight Watchers Inc. says that establishing a support network at the start of any weight-loss attempt is crucial for both short and long term success.
A dieter needs constant positive reinforcement. Attempting to lose weight can be a stressful ordeal for many dieters, and a support network can help make the process less daunting.
It could be possible that dieters' levels of cortisol, a hormone our bodies produce in times of mental stress, are higher when they do not join a support network. Research published in the journal Psychiatry2 suggests "social support reduces stress-induced cortisol release."
Weight Watchers members will have regular meetings where they will learn about nutrition and exercise, as well as having their weight loss progress monitored. 
Weight Watchers will accept any participant as long as they are at least 2.3kg (5lbs) over the minimum weight for their height.

Weight Watchers points system

The points system is considered by many as the easiest tool for a person who aims to lose weight over the long term. Dieters learn how to self monitor on a daily basis - thus making themselves accountable for each day. 
A simple way to calculate points is (Calories + (Fat x 4) - (Fiber x 10)) / 50
Portions of foods are assigned points. If a food is high in fiber and/or low in fat it is worth fewer points. The higher the fiber content, or the lower the fat content, the more of that food you can eat each day.3
Dieters can either join a Weight Watchers program online or in person.
Typical points based on body weight
  • Weight 150 lbs - points 18 to 23
  • Weight 150 to 174 lbs - points 20 to 25
  • Weight 175 to 199 lbs - points 22 to 27
  • Weight 200 to 224 lbs - points 24 to 29
  • Weight 225 to 249 lbs - points 26 to 31
  • Weight 250 to 274 lbs - points 28 to 33
  • Weight 275 to 299 lbs - points 29 to 34
  • Weight 300 to 324 lbs - points 30 to 35
  • Weight 325 to 349 lbs - points 31 to 36
  • Weight >350 lbs - points 32 to 37

Maintenance period

When members reach their target weight they enter the maintenance period. For six weeks members gradually increase their food intake until they are neither losing nor putting on weight.
During these six weeks there are regular weigh-ins. If a member manages to stay within 0.91 kilos (2lbs) of his/her target weight during the six-week period, that person is then promoted to "Lifetime Member".
Lifetime Members can attend any Weight Watchers meeting free of charge as long as they weigh in once per month, and do not veer from their target weight by more than 0.91 kilos (2lbs).
Lifetime members who do drift from their weight target range have to pay weekly for meetings, and then recover their Lifetime membership by going through the process all over again.

Benefits of Weight Watchers

Researchers from the UK, Germany and Australia reported findings in The Lancet that patients who were referred by their doctors to Weight Watchers were found to lose about twice as much weight as those on standard weight loss care over a 12-month period.4
The authors of the study concluded:
"Referral by a primary health-care professional to a commercial weight loss programme that provides regular weighing, advice about diet and physical activity, motivation, and group support can offer a clinically useful early intervention for weight management in overweight and obese people that can be delivered at large scale."
Another study, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, found that after a 6-month Weight Watchers group program, overweight or obese adults who attended at least two thirds of the weekly sessions, not only lost weight, but also significantly reduced fasting glucose and insulin levels - important indicators of diabetes risk.5

The Mediterranean Diet

Link from


What does the Mediterranean Diet include? 

  • Lots of plant foods
  • Fresh fruit as dessert
  • High consumption of beans, nuts, cereals (in the form of wheat, oats, barley, corn or brown rice) and seeds
  • Olive oil as the main source of dietary fat
  • Cheese and yogurt as the main dairy foods
  • Moderate amounts of fish and poultry
  • No more than about four eggs each week
  • Small amounts of red meat each week (compared to northern Europe) 
  • Low to moderate amounts of wine
  • 25% to 35% of calorie intake consists of fat
  • Saturated fat makes up no more than 8% of calorie intake
Olive oil
Olive oil is one of the main sources of dietary fat.
Fats - the Mediterranean diet is known to be low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat, and high in dietary fiber. 
Legumes - the Mediterranean diet includes plenty of legumes. Legumes are plants in the pea family that produce pods which slit open naturally along a seam, revealing a row of seeds.
Examples of legumes include peas, chick peas, lentils, alfafa and beans.
Scientists from the University of Toronto reported in Archives of Internal Medicine1, October 2012 issue, that eating more legumes helps improve glycemic control in people with diabetes type 2, as well as lessening the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet - worldwide recognition

Became popular in the 1990s - even though the American Scientist Dr. Ancel Keys (1904-2004) publicized the Mediterranean diet while he was stationed in Italy, it was not until about the 1990s that it was widely recognized and followed elsewhere by nutritionally conscious people.
An enigma - compared to other Western diets, the Mediterranean diet was seen by others as a bit of an enigma. Although fat consumption is high, the prevalence of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesitycancer and diabetes has always been significantly lower in Mediterranean countries than northern European countries and the USA. The American diet is more similar to the northern European diet - with high red meat consumption, greater consumption of butter and animal fats, and a lower intake of fruit and vegetables, compared to the eating habits of Italy, Greece, southern France, and Spain.
More popular in non-English speaking nations - the non-English speaking countries of northern Europe, such as Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Austria have adopted the Mediterranean diet to a much greater degree than English speaking nations, such as the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Dietary habits in Canada vary; with the French-speaking Quebec areas tending more towards a Mediterranean diet, compared to the rest of the country. Many experts believe that is why developed English-speaking nations have a lower life expectancy than the other developed nations.
Mediterranean countries consume higher quantities of red wine, while northern European countries and the USA consume more beer. Red wine contains flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants, according to a study in the Journal of Natural Products.2
The Mediterranean diet, compared to the Anglo-saxon diet, contains much higher quantities of unprocessed foods.

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet? 

Studies have been carried out which compare the health risks of developing certain diseases, depending on people's diets. People who adopted the Mediterranean diet have been compared with those who have an American or Northern European diet.
An article published in Food Technology3 in October 2012 explained that plant-based diets either considerably reduce or totally eliminate people's genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Mediterranean diet helps prevent a genetic risk of stroke - a variant (mutation) in the Transcription Factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) gene, which is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, is also linked to higher stroke risk, especially if a person carries two copies (homozygous carriers).
Scientists from Tufts University, USA, and the CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutriciόn, Spain, found that the Mediterranean diet may protect homozygous carriers of the mutated gene.
The researchers wrote in the journal Diabetes Care4 "Being on the Mediterranean diet reduced the number of strokes in people with two copies of the variant. The food they ate appeared to eliminate any increased stroke susceptibility, putting them on an even playing field with people with one or no copies of the variant."
An Italian study published in BMJ Open5 reported that people who stick to a Mediterranean diet tend to have better HRQL (health-related quality of life). They added that the link is stronger with mental than physical health. "Dietary total antioxidant and fibre content independently explain this relationship," they added.
The following health benefits have been observed by people who have a Mediterranean diet:
  • It's good for your heart - researchers at McMaster University found an association between good heart health and certain food groups or dietary patterns including vegetables, nuts, monounsaturated fatty acids, and overall 'healthy' dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet. The study was publshed in the Archives of Internal Medicine.6
  • It can prevent diabetes - a study published by the BMJ7 revealed that the traditional Mediterranean diet can help protect people from type 2 diabetes.
Recent developments on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet from MNT news
Good for the brain. Researchers discovered that a Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced damage of small blood vessels in the brain, their findings were published in the Archives of Neurology.8
Helps protect your bones. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM)9, found that going on a 2 year Mediterranean diet enhanced with olive oil can increase serum osteocalin concentrations, which can help protect a person's bones.
'Better than low-fat diet' for cardiovascular risk. A study published in the American Journal of Medicinesuggested that people who adopt a whole diet approach - such as a Mediterranean diet - have a lower risk of heart attack and cardiovascular-related death than those who follow a strictly low-fat diet.
Following the Mediterranean diet could slow aging process. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, copious amounts of olive oil and a glass of wine with a meal; while the Mediterranean diet sounds like a the makings of a delicious lifestyle, it has also long been regarded as one of the healthiest ways to eat. Now, researchers have suggested that the diet could also help slow the aging process.

The South Beach Diet

Article from :

The South Beach Diet was created and designed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston M.D. and dietician Marie Almon. It was initially devised to help patients lower their risk of developing heart disease, but rapidly became popular as a diet for losing weight.
According to Dr. Agatston, he devised the South Beach Diet during the 1990s because he was disillusioned with the low-fat, high-carb diet backed by the American Heart Association.
He believed and found that low-fat regimes were not effective over the long term.
This Medical News Today information article provides details about Arthur Agatston and Marie Almon, what The South Beach Diet is, and the health benefits associated with following The South Beach Diet.

About Arthur Agatston and Marie Almon

Dr. Arthur Agatston is Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He has also served on committees of the American Society of Echocardiography, the American College of Cardiology, and the Society of Atherosclerosis Imaging, where he is a member of the founding board of directors.
Marie Almon has a Master's degree in Nutrition. She has over 25 years clinical experience, as well as 11 years working as the cardiac rehabilitation dietician at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, under the direction of Dr. Agatston.
She has also been the Clinical Nutrition Manager of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, as well as the Miami heart Institute. Almon is a member of the American Dietetic Association.
The South Beach Diet claims not to be a traditional low-carb diet. The focus is more on selecting the right carbohydrates, including whole grains, specific fruits and vegetables, appropriate fats, such as canola oil and olive oil, as well as lean protein sources.1

The three phases of The South Beach Diet

Phase 1 - Kick-starting the weight loss process.2
The dieter will eat normal-sized portions of:
  • Lean meats
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish, and shellfish (vegetarians can enjoy meat substitutes and tofu) 
  • Eggs
  • Reduced-fat cheese
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Lots of vegetables
This phase also includes snacks and desserts. Phase 1 lasts two weeks. Three balanced meals a day, plus snacks are consumed. In fact, for the phase to be successful the snacks must be eaten, even if you are not hungry. The idea being that if you are more satisfied the chances of your overeating during the next meal are significantly reduced.
The following foods are not eaten during Phase 1:
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Baked goods
  • Fruit
  • Candy
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Ice cream
  • Sugar
  • Alcoholic drinks
Some people may panic and wonder how they will manage without those foods. Don't worry, some of them will be re-introduced in Phases 2 and 3.
Phase 2 - Aiming for reaching goal weight, re-introduction of right carbohydrates2
The dieter learns to reintroduce the right carbohydrates (carbs), including whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, and most fruits. Some treats are allowed. Weight loss continues until the target body weight is reached. 
Some participants may be worried that during this stage they may lose the ability to lose weight because of the re-introduction of some carbs. Dr. Agatston stresses that this diet is one you can follow for life, so it is crucial that you learn to bring the right carbs back into your lifestyle.
The carbs have to be reintroduced little by little. You should reintroduce one single carb and add it to just one daily meal for one week. Monitor your body's response to a reintroduced carb carefully for a few days. If you are doing well, then add a second carb, and do the same - monitor your body's reaction carefully. Carry on doing this until you have two to three servings of the right carbs each day.
Anybody who feels things are getting out of hand should seriously consider returning to Phase 1 for a few days, until control is regained. 
Dr. Agatston says that Phase 2 can last as long as it has to - there is no time limit. The aim is to reach your target body weight. 
Phase 3 - After reaching the goal weight - Adopting a lifestyle2
When you have reached your targeted body weight, you move into phase 3, also known as the maintenance phase. You will continue making good eating choices. During this phase you should feel that you are adopting a lifestyle, rather than diet.
The creators of The South Beach Diet say that Phase 3 is not about eating whatever you like and abandoning everything you have learnted during Phases 1 and 2. It is about continuing to make the right food choices, experimenting with new recipes and ingredients, and enjoying your new lifestyle. It is about maintaining your ideal body weight and enjoying better health.
The South Beach Diet is a long-term eating plan, a plan for life.

What are the benefits of the South Beach Diet? 

According to the creators of the South Beach Diet:
  • You are more likely to be of ideal body weight for the long term
  • Your chances of developing diabetes will be reduced
  • Your cholesterol levels are more likely to be normal
  • Your blood fat levels are more likely to be normal
  • Your are much less likely to suffer from hypertension
  • You will enjoy better health
  • You will not be hungry
  1. 1. Arthur Agatston. "The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss.". 2 ISBN-10: 0312991193 Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (April 19, 2005).
  1. 2. "What Is The South Beach Diet?" Southbeachdiet.com, Accessed November 20th 2013.

Cardio At Home - Exercises