Milk can help you slim down

We all know milk is good for strong healthy bones – it’s a major source of bone-building calcium and also is fortified with vital vitamin D, which has been shown to protect heart health and lower our risk for several cancers. But what about when you’re trying to slim down? Now there’s a new reason to grab a glass of milk when you’re on diet, suggests a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In a two-year weight loss study, milk drinkers had an advantage over those who skipped the milk. Israeli researchers found that adults who drank the most milk (nearly two glasses per day) and had the highest vitamin D levels at six months, and were more successful when it came to weight control. They lost more weight after two years than those participants who had little or no milk or milk products – nearly 12 pounds weight loss on average.

Researchers also found that each additional six-ounce serving of milk or milk products (about ¾ of a glass of milk) was associated with 10 pounds successful weight loss above the average, at six months. Participants with the highest dairy calcium intake six months into the study (averaging about 580mg per day – the amount in nearly two glasses of milk) achieved about 12 pounds weight loss at the end of the two years, compared to about seven pounds for those with the lowest dairy calcium intake (averaging about 150mg, or about a ½ glass).

Beyond calcium, the researchers also found that vitamin D levels independently affected weight loss success and in line with previous research, milk and milk products were the top contributors to vitamin D in the diets of the study participants. Despite the potential health benefits, many Americans are still not getting the recommended 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day – the amount in four glasses of fat-free or low-fat milk. This D-ficiency may put their health at risk, for successful weight control and beyond.

Fat-free milk is packed with nine essential nutrients you need for a healthy diet, including calcium and vitamin D, and contains 80 calories per eight-ounce serving. Research suggests eating right, getting active and drinking the recommended three glasses of lowfat or fat free milk daily can help you achieve weight control.

Weight control vital for diabetics

If you are among the 57 million Americans currently living with pre-diabetes (where your blood sugar is high but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with diabetes) you could benefit from a group weight loss program like Weight Watchers, according to a new study.

Researchers found that after a six-month Weight Watchers group program, those who attended at least two thirds of the weekly sessions, not only succeeded in their efforts to slim down but also significantly reduced their fasting glucose and insulin levels – important indicators of your risk for developing diabetes.

Sixty-one men and women took in a six-month Weight Watchers study that included education on a lower calorie healthy diet, exercise, and weekly group support sessions. Those who attended the most sessions had the most success, reinforcing the importance of group support in lifestyle changes that help with weight control. In fact, those who attended at least 20 of the 24 sessions had a weight loss averaging 14 pounds and had the most dramatic change in glucose and insulin levels.

Previous studies have suggested that intensive lifestyle treatment can successfully reduce diabetes risk but the great thing about the new study data is that the Weight Watchers program costs a lot less and also has been shown to help with sustained weight control. Type 2 diabetes is closely tied to weight and it has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, in tandem with weight control problems for many of us. There are now more than 23 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes but the gold standard study on diabetes prevention, the Diabetes Prevention Program Trial (DPP), found that individual lifestyle interventions could reduce the risk of developing the disease by more than 50 percent. Weight loss is key.

According to the American Diabetes Association, structured programs emphasizing lifestyle changes including moderate weight loss (as little as seven percent of your body weight) and regular physical activity (150 minutes per week), with dietary strategies including reduced calories and reduced intake of dietary fat, can reduce the risk for developing diabetes.

Weight loss on the internet

The more people used an interactive weight management website, the more weight loss they maintained, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The study evaluated an Internet-based weight maintenance intervention involving 348 participants. Consistent website users who logged on and recorded their weight at least once a month for two-and-a-half years maintained the most weight loss, the study found.

“Consistency and accountability are essential in any weight maintenance program. The unique part of this intervention was that it was available on the Internet, whenever and wherever people wanted to use it,” said study lead author Kristine L. Funk, MS, RD, a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

The study shows that if people use quality weight management websites consistently, and if they stick with their program, they are more likely to keep their weight off, and given that maintaining weight control is often harder than initial weight loss, the fact that so many people in the study were able to maintain a good portion of their weight loss is encouraging. Those consistent users who logged in and recorded their weight at least once a month for 24 months maintained the greatest weight loss, keeping off an average of nine of the 19 pounds they’d lost during the initial weight loss phase of the trial. Those who logged on less consistently (at least once a month for 14 months) kept off an average of five pounds. Those who logged on less than that kept off an average of only three pounds of their original weight loss.

At the end of the study, 65 percent of the participants were still logging on to the website. The study authors say they are encouraged by this level of participation because they say it is rare to see that kind of commitment, even in shorter-term weight control studies that use the internet. While the study website is no longer available, there are many useful websites that people can access for weight loss guides and information. Look for websites that encourage accountability by asking you to consistently record your weight, exercise, and calories consumed, that include tailored or personalized information, and that have interactive features like forums that allow users to communicate with each other and with nutrition and exercise experts.

It pays to slim down if you’re worried about your heart

If you’re worried about reports saying that heart disease is on the rise, then being careful when it comes to your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels is smart thinking. But weight control is also important. Excess weight plays a role in almost all heart disease risk factors, boosting HDL “bad” cholesterol, raising blood pressure and increasing your risk of diabetes.

People who lose weight experience a decrease in their high blood pressure, and their levels of bad cholesterol drop. They also tend to experience an increase in “good” cholesterol (HDL), which lowers the risk for heart disease and stroke by helping clear the blood vessels of bad cholesterol. Weight loss also is considered one of the best ways to bring diabetes under control, or to avoid it altogether if you have high blood sugar levels that indicate pre-diabetes.

Weight control becomes difficult if you take in more calories than you can burn off over the course of a day. You may compound the problem by eating foods that are rich in saturated fat which contain way more calories than either protein or carbohydrates, and by eating foods that are loaded with sugar, which provides “empty” calories that provide no essential nutrients but instead cause your blood glucose levels to rise.

So, to reduce the chances that you’ll develop heart disease, you need to control your calorie intake by eating a healthy diet, and get regular exercise. Eat more fruits and vegetables and fruits, cut back on red meat, and eat more fish (particularly omega-3 rich fatty fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel). Select whole-grain breads and pastas over those made with white flour. The same goes for brown rice over white rice. Cut out sugary soft drinks and fruit juices in favor water or diet beverages.

When it comes to exercise, experts recommend that people who are out of shape start off slowly – for example, by walking for a half-hour three times a week – and then build up from there. Healthy weight loss is gradual, about one or two pounds a week, but keep in mind that one pound equals about 3,500 calories, so to lose that pound in a week, each day you have to burn 500 more calories than you take in.

Calorie control vital for weight loss

It has long been a weight loss conundrum: how do the French get away with a clean bill of heart health despite they fact they tend to eat a diet loaded with saturated fats? It’s known as the “French paradox” and the answer may be found in a staple of the French diet: red wine. More specifically, research suggests it may reside in small doses of resveratrol, a compound that occurs naturally in grapes, pomegranates, red wine and other foods. Experts have found that low doses of resveratrol mimic the effects of what is known as caloric restriction – weight loss diets with 20-30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet – that in numerous studies has been shown to not only help with weight control but also to help boost our chances of healthy aging and a longer life.

Research has shown that resveratrol in high doses extends lifespan in lab animals and a 2008 study extended those findings, showing that resveratrol in low doses and beginning in middle age can provide many of the same benefits as the kind of reduced-calorie diet that helps you slim down. The study also suggested that resveratrol might prevent age-related changes to the genes that can affect how our hearts function as we age. It goes hand in hand with other study findings that suggest the occasional glass of red wine, along with an overall healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated and trans fats, can benefit heart health.

That finding may also explain the remarkable heart health of people who live in some regions of France, where diets are soaked in saturated fats but the incidence of heart disease – a major cause of mortality in the US and UK, is low. In France, meals are traditionally complemented with a glass of red wine. The data is also important because it suggests that caloric restriction may influence the way we age. You can work out how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis by working out your base metabolic rate via an online calculator.

Beware of quick fix weight loss methods

If you’ve been taking Que She, which is marketed as a herbal weight loss supplement, beware: it contains active pharmaceutical ingredients not listed on the product label that could harm you, especially if you suffer from cardiovascular conditions. The FDA says that people who have purchased Que She should stop taking it and consult a health care professional.

Que She, advertised as “Slimming Factor Capsule” and as “an all-natural blend of Chinese herbs,” has been widely distributed on Internet sites. If you are trying to slim down it can be tempting to try supplements such as these to see if they can help you achieve weight loss in lieu of an overall healthy diet. However, an FDA analysis of Que She found that it contains fenfluramine, a stimulant drug withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1997 after studies demonstrated that it caused serious heart valve damage; propranolol, a prescription beta blocker drug that can pose a risk to people with bronchial asthma and certain heart conditions; sibutramine, a controlled substance and prescription weight loss drug that was the subject of a recent study whose preliminary findings showed an association between its use and increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have a history of heart disease; and ephedrine, which is legally marketed over-the-counter for asthma relief but can pose a risk to people with certain cardiovascular conditions. These active pharmaceutical ingredients also may interact with other medications and result in a serious adverse event.

Que She is just one of a huge range of weight loss pills and it’s likely many are available at your local drugstore. Some – including green tea extract, chromium, conjugate linoleic acid, and chitosan are considered safe. However, most haven’t been shown to be effective in proper clinical trials. For that reason it is very important to talk to your doctor if you are considering taking any supplements to help with weight loss, especially if you already take other medications that may interact with them. Keep in mind too that the best sustained weight loss is achieved with a healthy diet that helps to train you in making better food choices.

Self esteem vital for weight loss

You may enjoy all those reality TV shows that focus on ordinary people losing dramatic amounts of weight, but for sensible weight loss you need to focus on way more attainable goals than losing half your bodyweight inside 10 weeks. The intense programs featured on TV often involve heavily restrictive diets and all-day workouts that would be impossible for most of us to fit in between work and family commitments.

In fact, the most successful weight loss and weight control programs have more modest goals, and help you succeed by boosting your self-esteem and body image. They help you to become more conscious about what choices can help improve your health and the quality of your life, make you feel capable of sustaining your weight loss by giving you that shot of much-needed confidence about your ability to eat a healthy diet overall – to choose healthy ingredients and cook delicious meals that don’t pack on the pounds. They also give you the get-up-and-go you need to stick to an exercise routine that burns calories to help you slim down, and a better attitude towards the way you look.

Most experts say that a healthy, sustainable weight loss is typically one to two pounds per week and no more. It may not sound like much but every pound counts and you should celebrate these small victories with your family and friends. They can provide emotional stimulation and emotional support for your efforts, and challenge you to be your best – key to boosting that self-esteem that will encourage you to keep at it even if there are some weeks when the scales throw up bad news. When that happens don’t beat up on yourself by thinking about what you could have or should have done to avoid that slip backwards. Instead, accept it for the slip-up it is and channel your energy into modifying behavior and a positive mental outlook that will prevent you from becoming disheartened by setbacks.

Above all, keep giving yourself pep talks that boost that self-esteem. Focus on all of your positive aspects: your skills, abilities, and talents. Acknowledging your successes and attributes has a major way on how you view yourself because at the end of the day, your attractiveness is multi-factorial – so many aspects of yourself make you beautiful, not just your weight. Praise yourself for the positive steps you’re taking in addressing your weight and health issues, and reward yourself with daily, weekly and monthly incentives that recognize the effort you’re putting into your personal wellness.

Can tea and coffee help with weight control?

If you have a tea habit it might help you lose weight and slim down. Caffeine naturally speeds up the metabolism (in fact it’s a main ingredient in many weight loss pills), and this speeds up your body’s breakdown of fat so that you can then burn off the fat as energy.

Your metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food and liquids you consume into energy. It’s working away in the background even when you are at rest, since when you are sleeping your body still needs energy for ongoing functions such as breathing, circulating blood and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses for these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR), and your BMR can actually be responsible for burning as much as 70 percent of the calories you expend on a daily basis, depending on various factors.

These include genetics (some people naturally have a faster metabolism that aids with weight control), whether you are a man or a woman (men tend to have less body fat and more muscle so they burn more calories), your age (as we get older muscle mass decreases, which slows down the rate at which our bodies burn calories – a big factor affecting weight control) and body size and composition – if you are larger or have more muscle mass, you will burn more calories even when your body is at rest. This means that if you are having problems with weight control it likely isn’t to do with your metabolism, since heavier people actually have a faster metabolism. One reason why weight loss benefits from a healthy diet and not a starvation diet is that abrupt calorie restriction can actually cause your BMR to drop.

Drinking tea or coffee before a workout can be beneficial for weight loss, since the caffeine boost can increase your body’s fat-burning potential by up to 30 percent. Caffeine also is an appetite suppressant, so it might reduce the quantity of food you eat. It also is a diuretic, meaning that it promotes fluid loss, which can affect weight. However, you do need to be careful about drinking extra tea and coffee to help you slim down. Caffeine is a stimulant, and drinking too much of it can cause nervousness, insomnia (don’t drink it in the evening or you could have trouble sleeping) and other problems. Also, some caffeinated beverages, such as specialty coffees, are high in calories and fat. So instead of helping with weight loss, some might result in weight gain.

Weight control via the mail

If you can do without the hassle of counting calories with every meal you prepare and eat, you might want to consider using a diet delivery program to jump-start your weight loss program. They deliver prepackaged, portion-controlled meals to your doorstep and many celebrities use them as an easy way to stick to a healthy diet and maintain weight control. They can definitely help if you’ve been finding it difficult to get into the swing of healthy eating because they take away some of the psychological pressure by freeing you of having to make a decision over what to eat.

Achieving sensible weight control isn’t rocket science – it’s simply a matter of taking in fewer calories than your body requires. If you cut your caloric intake by 500 calories per day, you can expect to lose about one pound per week. Where it all tends to fall down is in the fact that we often don’t have a clear idea or visual for what quantity of food equates to a single serving – and once we start consuming larger portions, calorie control and weight loss go out the window, and it becomes impossible to slim down. Diet meal plan programs offer that essential portion control and can actually teach long-term portion-control strategies, as you’ll become accustomed to dining on moderately sized portions.

Once you’ve achieved weight loss it’s vital that you keep the pounds off. If you follow a delivery diet plan for a short period of time and then just go back to the way you were eating before, you’ll gain back the weight you lost. You have to re-learn how to eat once you come off a delivery diet plan because if you go from 200-calorie breakfasts back to a cream cheese bagel every morning you won’t sustain your weight loss. Research shows that successful maintenance of weight loss happens with regular physical activity and sustained efforts to regulate your dietary intake. By providing a diet packed with low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, and fiber, a reduced-calorie diet can be more satisfying and successful.

Slim down your waistline for better heart health

We all know how important it is to achieve good weight control and slim down – it can help protect against diabetes, heart disease, joint strain, and other serious conditions that impede healthy aging. Losing belly fat is particularly vital, because studies have shown that women with a waist size of 35 or more inches are about twice as likely to die of heart disease or cancer as women with a waist measuring less than 28 inches.

It’s a problem faced by many of us – a 2008 Mayo Clinic study suggested that the amount of belly fat, and the percentage of body fat in general, may represent more alarming numbers than those on the scale. The study found that more than half of American adults with a “normal body weight,” according to their body mass index (BMI), have high body fat percentages – more than 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women – and heart and metabolic disturbances.

Body fat percentage can be measured in several ways, ranging from calipers that measure subcutaneous fat in areas such as your upper arm and the waist, to more high-tech methods involving special x-rays. Carrying around that extra weight increases our blood volume, raises blood pressure, and places extra strain on the heart. In addition, it’s thought that abdominal fat leads to inflammation of the blood vessels, also contributing to higher blood pressure. Weight loss can help reverse some of these effects – for every two pounds you lose, your blood pressure drops about one millimeter in mercury (mmHg).

While weight loss from your abdominal area can make the biggest initial difference to your heart health and personal wellness, your overall body weight is still an important number, largely because it provides an easy target for you to aim at with weight control, and because overall weight loss also will trim inches from your waist. When you lose weight with diet and exercise, more loss comes from the fat around the abdominal organs than anywhere else. That’s part of why weight loss is so important if you have a high BMI. Help yourself maintain weight control by doing aerobic exercise, such as a brisk walk or bike ride, for at least 30 minutes daily, and eat a healthy diet, replacing foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats with low-fat foods such as whole grains and fresh fruit.