3 Foods That Aren’t as Healthy as You Think:
Companies are sneaky in the way they advertise their food products as “healthy”. They usually promote the healthy part while leaving out information about the unhealthy ingredients, which in some cases far exceed the healthy ones. The only way to tell for sure is to read the nutrition label.
For example, many “fat-free” products are loaded with added sugar. Fat provides flavor, so if it is taken out, something has to replace it to make it as palatable as possible. That is usually sugar in one form or another.

Dried Fruit:
This sounds innocent enough – fruit with the moisture taken out. How bad can it be? It can be full of sugar, both natural occurring and added. When fruit is dried, the natural sugar is concentrated so you are actually getting more sugar for the same size piece. And on top of it, some companies also add more sugar to their products, not to mention processing their dried fruit with a chemical call sulfur dioxide. If you like dried fruit, you are better off making your own with a dehydrator and only eating a few pieces at a time.

Diet Soda.
Because it has “diet” in its name, it should be good for you right? Wrong! Because most diet sodas are sweetened with an artificial sweetener, they fool your body into thinking it is real sugar and in response cause your insulin level to spike. Once it comes crashing down, you are left hungry. Studies have shown that the chemical used to give soda (diet and otherwise) its caramel color is also bad for you. Water, either plain or carbonated, is still the best drink that will not add calories to your diet or spike your insulin level, but quench your thirst.

Margarine (or any of the butter substitutes).
Several years ago when the low-fat, no-fat craze began, butter fell out of favor in lieu of one of many butter substitutes. If you knew how margarine was made, you would (and should) stick with real butter. To make margarine, vegetable oil is extracted from corn, soybeans, or safflower seeds, steamed, hydrogenated, emulsified, bleached, steamed again, and then doctored up with synthetic vitamins and colors to make it look and taste like real butter. Does that sound whole process sound healthy? If your answer was no, you are right! Real butter in moderation is the only healthy option because it is made with real milk with minimal processing.
The only way to tell if a food or drink is healthy is to read the nutrition labels. Stay away from foods with added sugar in one of its forms or another, along with high amounts of saturated or trans-fat. Also look at the number of ingredients. The more it has, the less healthy it will be. Stick with foods that are minimally processed and contain few ingredients … all which you can pronounce.

7 Foods That Can Help You Lose Weight:
It’s no secret the key to losing weight is burning more calories than what you take in. But if you are not eating the right foods, you’ll end up hungry and consume more calories than you should, thus stalling your weight loss efforts. Foods high in fiber, protein and plant-based healthy fats are the most satiating, yet help with weight loss. Here are seven foods that will help you on your weight loss journey:

Potatoes:
Under the low carb diet craze, potatoes fell out of favor, but now are starting to make a comeback. With 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and only 168 calories in a medium spud, they are a great choice. Just watch what you put on them as that can really up the calorie count.

Apples and Pears
Fresh fruit is satisfying and should be part of a healthy diet. Apples and pears, with their high anti-oxidant and appetite suppressing fiber, are great choices at around 100 calories each and 4 to 6 grams of fiber. The fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer, thus reducing the tendency to snack on higher calorie foods.

Almonds:
Always a favorite, these tasty snacks are easy to take with you. At 160 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein in 22 pieces, they will keep you going between meals.
Greek Yogurt:
Having one of the highest levels of protein, this style of yogurt has 24 grams of protein at 160 calories per serving. And it helps with digestions by feeding the good bacteria in our stomachs.
Dark Chocolate:
There is a difference in chocolate. The dark variety, containing 70% cacao or more, has about 9 grams of fiber per 1-ounce serving, whereas milk chocolate has none, but usually is high in sugar. And besides having a good dose of anti-oxidants, it also has serotonin which helps increase good mood.

Eggs:
No healthy diet would be complete without eggs. At 140 calories per two, you get 12 grams of protein and all 9 essential amino acids, the ones your body can’t produce. But needs, so you have to get them through food.

Avocado:
Many people shy away from avocados because they are high in fat – but it is the good kind of fat that your body needs. Half an avocado packs a healthy 7 grams of fiber, not to mention its great anti-inflammatory properties easing conditions such as arthritis and lowering the risk of heart disease.
Add these seven foods to your diet to not only lose weight, but to keep healthy. And unlike many foods on “diets”, you can stay with these foods as part of your maintenance program once at your weight goal.
Why Starving Yourself Doesn’t Work for Weight Loss:
The road to significant and prolonged weight loss is simple: create a calorie deficit by consuming far less calories than your body burns. The greater the calorie deficit, the more significant the drop in weight will be. It would therefore make sense that if you significantly or completely cut off your calorie consumption, you will be able to enjoy accelerated weight loss, right? Well, not exactly. If weight loss were that simple, then we would all be model-thin. The truth is that starving yourself does not deliver the kind of results you would expect. The real results of starving the body are as follows.

High Loss in Muscle Mass:
Regardless of your diet, your body has grown accustomed to expecting a certain amount of food daily. So, if you refrain from eating, your body perceives that as a period of famine and therefore kicks into survival mode whereby it starts making efforts to conserve fuel while still providing enough energy to keep you alive and functioning for as long as possible without food.
Weirdly enough, the very first step your body takes is to start burning muscle cells and keeping any stored fat safely tucked away to use as the very last resort. The protein released from the burnt muscle cells is then converted to energy, which the body uses to carry out life sustaining functions such as breathing, pumping of blood, cellular repair, and so on. That same energy will also be used to enable the performance of whatever physical activity you engage in while starving yourself.
Since 70% of muscle is water, you’ll also get to lose some weight as every destroyed muscle cell results in the release of water, which will be eventually excreted from the body. That is the weight loss that people on a very low calorie diet experience during the first few days of inadequate eating or starvation.

Decreased Metabolic Rate:
Another of the body’s reaction to starvation is to slow down the metabolic rate in a bid to conserve as much energy as possible. How far the metabolic rate drops will depend on several things including a person’s genetics, the duration of the starvation period, and just how severe the starvation is.
The loss of muscle in itself also causes the metabolic rate to drop. This is because muscle is a metabolically active tissue. Therefore, the less the muscle percentage in your body, the slower your metabolism will be.
For someone looking to lose weight, a slow metabolism is the very last thing you would want. A slow metabolism results in the body burning very few calories. So, even if you manage to lose weight it will be at a painfully slow rate.

Reduced Energy:
The energy we use to perform everyday activities such as walking, showering, and even something as simple as scratching your forehead comes from the energy produced after the body burns the calories ingested during eating. For someone who is fasting or starving, very few calories go into the body and even fewer are burnt. Therefore, energy levels naturally drop making it difficult to perform normal activities.

As you can see, starvation is not a good idea when you are looking to lose weight. You not only lose the wrong kind of weight and feel miserable the entire time, but you also gain back all lost weight if not more after resuming your normal eating habits. And, if the starvation period goes on for a long time, it could lead to dangerous effects. It’s therefore advisable to avoid the temptation of starving yourself and instead create a healthy calorie deficit by combining smart dieting with a rigorous workout plan. Doing so is not only safer than starving yourself, but it’s also the most effective route to permanent weight loss.
How to Deal with Food Cravings on a Healthy Diet:
From ice cream to chocolate to juicy burgers, our bodies have certain food cravings that can strike at any given time. Under normal circumstances, the best way to get rid of a craving is to simply give in. After all, the harder you resist a food craving, the more intense it becomes. If you are on a diet, however, giving in to food cravings is not a good idea as doing so can wreak havoc on whatever fitness results you’ve achieved so far. So, what’s a dieter to do when that powerful desire to indulge in a craving hits? Well, by putting the following tricks into action, you should be able to deal with food cravings without breaking your diet.

Actively Prevent Cravings:
As the old adage goes, “prevention is better than cure.” If you can prevent food cravings from even manifesting, then you’ll not have to struggle to beat them. While there is no surefire way to prevent cravings, you can minimize chances of a craving occurring by:
• Eating Regularly:
Hunger is one of the biggest causes of cravings. So, one of the best ways to prevent cravings is to avoid getting hungry. Regular small healthy meals and snacks taken every 3-4 hours should do the trick. It will keep your stomach full and prevent you from adding extra kilos as a result of over-feeding the body.
• Identifying Your Triggers:
We all have food cravings and these cravings are usually triggered by something. It could be a strong emotion such as grief or joy, certain feelings such as loneliness or boredom, a happy memory associated with food, or even a deeply ingrained habit. Knowing what your triggers are can help you keep your mind from going to that place that will cause you to start craving a certain food.
• Keeping Those Foods You Crave Out Of The House:
Resisting a craving becomes more difficult when that food you are yearning is within close reach. What’s more, the simple knowledge that the food is safely stored away in the fridge or kitchen cabinets can be enough to trigger a craving. So, make it a point to avoid keeping a stockpile of those foods you normally crave in your home. Although this sounds simple, it can be quite effective at preventing cravings.

Increase Your Protein and Fiber Intake:
Unlike foods high in sugar and refined starch which digest quickly and cause a sugar crash effect that leaves you with a food craving (especially for sweet treats), protein and fiber rich foods slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for longer. Therefore, by simply upping the protein and fiber portions in your meals, you will remain in a satiated state throughout the day and thereby decrease your chances of developing cravings.
Go for a Healthier Alternative:
One good way to satisfy a craving without going against your diet is to make a healthy re-creation of whatever you are craving. For instance, try a sweet fruit if you are craving sugary treats, satisfy a cake-crave by baking a whole wheat flour cake with no icing, go for the healthier alternative of dark chocolate when feeling an overwhelming desire to eat chocolate, and so on. A healthier alternative allows you to satisfy a craving without the high fat or calories that the actual food delivers.

Distract Yourself:
Cravings are more of a psychological than physiological thing. This is why you can feel a craving even when in the natural sense you are not hungry. Distracting yourself by focusing your mind on something else will separate your mind from the food and thereby help break a craving’s hold on you. Any form of distraction will do whether it is reading a book, going for a walk, watching a favorite TV show, or squeezing in a light workout. Focusing your mind on anything other than food will kill the desire to eat.
From weight gain to eating disorders, food cravings can lead to several negative effects. Luckily, with these tips you will be able to take control of your food cravings and thus prevent them from ruining your health.
6 Simple Lifestyle Tweaks to Help You Lose Weight:
Sometimes the simplest changes in lifestyle can make a big difference. Here are six easy lifestyle tweaks that make a big difference individually, but have synergistic effects when paired together.

Keep a food journal:
Many times being overweight is a case of not realizing how much (or what) a person eats in a day. Writing down everything puts it in perspective. According to a recent study, people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who did not – on average 13 pounds in 6 months.

Exercise during TV commercials:
Instead of sitting on your butt (and probably eating unhealthy food) do some exercising while the advertisements are running. Running up and down stairs, riding an exercise bike or treadmill, doing jumping jacks, skipping rope, etc. all burn calories. In fact, exercising during the commercials that run on a typical 2-hour night of watching TV burns an extra 270 calories per day, not to mention the calories you are avoiding by not eating during this time.

Eat healthy food:
Not only does eating junk or unhealthy food pack on the calories, but it is also high in saturated and trans fat – both which are bad for your health and lead to some serious health issues. Instead, opt for more fresh vegetables, whole grain and lean meats. Not only will it reduce the number of calories consumed, but reduce the bad fats.
As far as lunches, refrain from eating processed fast food and opt for a healthy bag lunch that you prepared at home.

Get more exercise:
This so easy to do without adding hardly any more time to your day. For example, instead of parking close to the office, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk in the rest of the way. If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two before your normal stop and walk to the office. Once inside the building, take the stairs (at least part way up) instead of the elevator. During lunch break, take a walk, returning with enough time left to eat your healthy bag lunch.
Wear a fitness tracker:
Counting the number of steps taken during the day raises your exercise awareness. When you have that information at hand, you’ll find yourself comparing how many steps you have taken to your daily goal and put in the extra effort to reach your goal. In a recent study, people who walked only 2,500 steps more per day than the control group, burnt off the equivalent of 10 pounds over a the one-year study.

Get enough sleep:
In another study, participants were asked to sleep 10 hours a night for two nights, followed by five nights of less sleep and four nights of recovery. The results? After 11 days, the study group had gained almost 3 pounds each compared to the well-rested control group.
All of these lifestyle tweaks are easy to implement. Once they are established habits, and you start to see weight loss results, you’ll wonder why you had not started doing them sooner.
Can You Really Lose Weight by a Fixed Deadline?
The desire to lose weight may be inspired by many factors. For some folks, it starts with an epiphany – for instance, not recognizing the overweight person looking back in front of a mirror or an innocent “Are you pregnant?” questions from friends who notice your bulging belly fat. For other people, the drive to change comes from a different kind of pressure: a deadline.
Stories of people losing weight in record time have become quite common. You may have seen one on a popular weight loss TV show, read it online, or even know someone that went through a drastic physical transformation. This therefore begs the question, “Can you really lose weight by a fixed deadline?”’
Whether your fast approaching day comes in the form of a wedding, summer vacation, reunion, or some other special occasion, losing weight by a given deadline is very much possible. With that said, here are a few strategies that can help you get the desired body, just in the nick of time.

#1: Avoid Fad Diets like The Plague:
When working toward becoming lean by a certain date, many people are inclined to try fast weight loss methods. Burning unwanted body fat is a complex metabolic process, but generally, if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. For this reason, fad diets are the most attractive quick fixes in the pursuit of leaner physiques. But don’t be quick to try that cucumber diet that a friend claims helped to get rid of 10-pounds in a week. The truth is, if a weight loss scheme sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Trying to get into shape with fast weight loss methods takes extraordinary diet changes that may not be sustainable in the long run.
Fad diets also rob you the chance to learn healthy eating habits, so when you stop them, you end up gaining back all the lost weight and sometimes even more. In the journey to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race.

#2: Reduce Calories by Making Smart Healthy Food Choices:
Rather than looking for weight loss shortcuts, cut back on unhealthy, high calorie foods. Obvious calorie offenders include trans-fats in fried foods or snacks with refined sugar such as sweets and carbonated drinks. Instead, opt for healthier food options such as fruits, leafy greens, lean meats or protein rich plant sources as well as poultry products, low fat dairy and whole grains for complex carbs. In addition, it is advisable to practice portion control in order to bring down your calorie consumption.

#3: Lose Weight at a Healthy Rate:
So, how many calories should you cut back to induce weight loss? According to nutritionists, losing 1 or 2 pounds per week is a healthy weight loss rate that won’t shock the body into hoarding fat in an attempt to sustain itself. A pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories, so cutting 500 or 1000 calories from daily food intake will help you lose 1 or 2 pounds of weight per week. Working with this healthy rate, you can easily make realistic weight loss targets for your deadline.

#4: Exercise Regularly:
The best way to accelerate weight loss when working toward a deadline is including exercise in your fitness regimen. Physical activity increases your caloric expenditure, so when combined with a healthy low calorie diet, unwanted pounds will start to melt away fast. The trick to make weight loss exercises work for you is by committing to a regular workout routine that is maintainable even after reaching your fitness goal. Doing so will not only help you lose weight for an upcoming occasion, but also keep it off for good.
Losing weight by a given deadline is easier said than done. But if you put the tips discussed above into practice, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a physique you can be proud of as well as mastering the art of healthy living.
Are Diets with “Cheat Days” the Right Weight Loss Technique for You?
First, let’s define exactly what a “cheat day” is (and what it is not). A cheat day is a period of time when you are trying to lose or maintain weight where you stray from your normal eating routine and eat foods that you normally don’t eat while on your diet. Stray is the operative word as it means eating more calories that you would normally, but not clearing off a buffet table and feeling guilty afterward. The other operative word is control. If you are one that can’t control your eating during a cheat day, then you are better off not having one.
A cheat day (or in some cases just a meal) can be beneficial both physically and mentally. Sometimes just the anticipation of eating something different on a certain day of the week, is enough of an incentive to stay on a diet during the other six days. In most cases, damage on the scale will be minimal. Because it takes 2,000 additional calories beyond what is burned that day to gain a pound, weight gain will be minimal at best. You probably will not even notice a change as it is unlikely one would consume that many additional calories.
However, with all this in mind, there are some “strategies” cheat day “connoisseurs” use, such as:


Frequency:
Most who use a cheat day, stick with just one day per week where they moderately eat foods not otherwise on their diet. Because they are consuming more calories they normally make other concessions, as noted in timing.
Special occasions:
Typically, a cheat day tends to be on the same day each week, but if a special occasion, such as a birthday party or anniversary are coming up, you may want to time your cheat day to fall on the same time as the special occasion. This way you can have a good time without feeling guilty that you had two cheat days that week.

Timing:
Because the calorie count tends to be higher on a cheat day, many time their day with a workout that burns more calories. That workout could be more intense, last longer, work different set of muscles, etc. The point is that some of the additional cheat day calories will be burnt off, thus minimizing the damage done to a diet change.
By factoring in frequency, special occasions and timing into your cheat plan, you can still enjoy the foods you like – in moderation – without feeling guilty afterwards. Having a cheat day can make losing weight much easier as it keeps the cravings at bay, knowing you can have the food you desire once a week.

Why Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain:
Is there really a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain? Are we talking about getting up during the middle of the night to eat and thereby losing out on sleep? If not, so what is the connection between the two?
Actually, lack of sleep can cause many health-related issues of which weight gain is just one. And there are two main reasons for it: sleep deprivation and bad food choices because of the alteration of appetite due to a shift in hormones.

Sleep deprivation:
When sleep deprived, the body’s metabolism system doesn’t work right, so it is not burning calories as efficiently as it could. Research has shown the issue seems to come from a change in glucose tolerance or the body’s ability to turn food into glucose and get it to the cells where it can be used for energy. Being sleep deprived, glucose tolerance can diminish as much as 40%. If calories are not being processed, they are stored as fat, leading to weight gain.
Bad food choices:
The other part is the bad food choices we make when sleep deprived. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which controls our appetite and a decrease in leptin, which tells us when we are full.
Sleepily we grab a cup of coffee or two … or three, along with a donut for some quick energy. That sugar rush caused by the sugar in the donut and in your coffee, if you added some, soon wears off and before long you are back looking for more food.
The issue is you are not looking for carrots or even apple slices with peanut butter – something that would be good for you – no, you are back for another donut or something that will give you the sugar rush again, has a lot of calories, and absolutely no nutritional value. The long-term result of this eating behavior is weight gain, even to the point of obesity. Typically, those that are sleep-deprived eat about 300 calories per day more than when they are rested. In a week, that is a pound of weight gain just from not getting enough sleep.
Fifty-two weeks, fifty-two pounds!
And it wouldn’t be as bad … but still not good, if you hit the gym sometime during the day to burn off as many of those calories as you could, but being sleep deprived, you are too tired to exercise, so the weight just keep piling on.
A typical adult needs at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night to avoid sleep deprivation and the change in hormones. Between the combination of taking in more calories and the body’s ability to efficiently burn them altered (coupled with a lack of exercise due to tiredness) the end result is weight gain – and in some cases, a lot of it.

5 Habits of Fit and Healthy People:
If you look at fit and healthy people in awe and wonder how they do it, their secret comes down to two words: healthy lifestyle. They live a healthy life and everything they do centers around that concept. If you want to be more like them, here are five things you will have to start doing:

Eat breakfast:
Listen to your mother when she tells you breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because she is right. After fasting all night, get your body going by having a good healthy and nutritious breakfast. Make sure it includes lean protein, healthy fat and good complex carbohydrates. It gives your metabolism a kick in the butt that can last for hours, making sure that you are burning the maximum number of calories possible each day.

Always be on the move:
If you are sitting still, you are burning fewer calories than if you were up and moving. Fit and healthy people are always on the go. They park at the far end of the parking lot, or they get off a stop or two before the closest stop to work, and then walk in the rest of the way. They take the stairs instead of the elevator. They ride their stationary bike, elliptical trainer or treadmill at night while watching TV, instead of just sitting on the couch. In doing so, they burn many more calories than people who do not do these things.
Start your day with exercise:
Exercising first thing in the morning not only gets your body going, but also your mind. People who exercise early in the day tend to have a more positive outlook on life, which transcends to the choices they make, like choosing what they eat and how they burn calories throughout the day.

Cook and eat at home:
As strange as it may sound, fit and healthy people only eat when their body tells them it is hungry. And when they do eat, it is generally at home (for breakfast and dinner) and a light healthy lunch most likely brought from home. If they do have to eat out, they make smart choices as far as portions and type of food – fresh vegetables and lean meats.
Along with making smart eating choices, the beverage of their choice is water. They know that not only does it hydrate them better than any other drink, but water contains no calories, which in many other drinks comes from added sugar.

Don’t obsess over your body:
If you are a scale watcher, you can learn a lot from fit and healthy people. They don’t even have to look at a scale, because they know their healthy lifestyle and habits will keep them around the same weight. They typically consume and burn off around the same number of calories each day, thus keeping them at the same weight … within a few pounds. Most healthy and fit people monitor their fitness level by how tight (or loose) their clothes feel.
Doing these five things routinely will put you in the healthy and fit category. If losing weight, ensure you burn around 500 calories more per day than you eat. Once at goal, then add in 500 more calories to maintain your current weight. Once you choose the healthy lifestyle, you will never have to worry about dieting again.