In Search Of The Magic Pill

As a physician and fitness professional, I regularly evaluate people who want to lose weight and have often been asked if I can prescribe a weight loss aid such as phentermine, or place them on the HCG diet. I am staunchly opposed to medications and fad diets, and will never promote or prescribe them. Though I know that upsets some people, I refuse to compromise my strong beliefs and allow a patient or client to bully me.

Despite the fact that there is increasing awareness of proper nutrition, there are still plenty of people who make a habit of consuming foods which contain large amounts of fat, hidden sugar and salt, and preservatives.  Quite often the portions consumed at one sitting are so large that the body ends up in storage mode which can lead to weight gain.  By becoming aware of the value of nutrient-dense foods and re-patterning one’s eating habits so that such foods form the foundation of a daily meal plan, long-term weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight can be accomplished. 

However, the media pushes “quick fixes” by promoting severe caloric restriction and plans which are nutritionally unbalanced, thus creating a state of malnutrition.  Fad diets such as the HCG diet are NOT HEALTHY, plain and simple. I don’t care how many of you want to argue against that, I am digging my heels in on this one. Any diet which requires an interval of time in which 500 calories are consumed daily is just plain stupid. That is, unless you want to trigger massive rebound weight gain.

It doesn’t get much better when looking at the weight loss pills which are available either.  Many of those products can have deleterious adverse effects and should be taken with caution, if at all.  The only exception I make is with thermogenics, which, if used properly, can serve as an effective aid in weight loss. And what about raspberry ketones, L-carnitine, and CLA? They are all great for AIDING in weight loss, but none of those supplements alone can melt away fat or offset a piss-poor diet.

The best “magic pill” doesn’t even exist. So I suggest you take a more realistic view of your daily habits and commit yourself to CHANGING THEM if they are unhealthy. Throw out processed foods, sugar, and avoid drinking alcohol on a daily basis. Pack your kitchen with nutrient-dense foods, drink plenty of water, don’t skip meals, and get plenty of sleep.

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“Do You Still Compete?”

First Place Masters Bikini 35+ B Class, Team Universe, July 2013

First Place Masters Bikini 35+ B Class, Team Universe, July 2013

Whenever I hear that question now, I have mixed feelings, which range from a sense of longing for the stage, to complete relief that I have not stepped onto a bodybuilding stage for close to two years now. My short answer to the question, “Do you still compete?” is “Probably not.”

Though I competed in four Pro Bikini events, I was struggling so much with metabolic damage and perimenopause that I often think it wasn’t the best idea to jump onto the Pro stage only 4 months after I won my IFBB Pro Card. That sort of strategy might work for a twenty-something competitor who is at the top of the heap, but it didn’t work for my 47-year old body which had been beaten down physically, emotionally, and mentally. I honestly needed a break, but I pushed through, and as a result had ho-hum placings.

It has taken over three years for my body to return to a level of leanness which I feel comfortable with. I know you might assume that I was in a massive spiral with my weight and body fat, but it wasn’t THAT bad, at least not compared with many other competitors who spiral. Nevertheless, I spent over two years with excess fluff that I was not accustomed to at all, and I couldn’t stand how I looked or felt.

Here’s the breakdown of my stats throughout the years:

From age 21 through 43: Between 104-109 lbs., 11-13% body fat
2010 – Age 44: 112-113 lbs., 12% body fat
2011 – Age 45: 114 lbs., 12% body fat
2012 – Age 46: 115 lbs., 12% body fat
2013 – Age 47: FIRST HALF OF YEAR: 117 lbs., 11% body fat SECOND HALF OF YEAR: 119-126 lbs., 13-18% body fat
2014 – Age 48: 121-125 lbs., 14-18% body fat
2015 – Age 49: 119-123 lbs., 12-15% body fat
2016 – (soon to be 50): 115-119 lbs., 11-13% body fat

It has been a veritable see-saw for me over the years. I also firmly believe that I would not have gone through menopause as early as I have if it had not been for all the metabolic insults I made to my poor body as a result of competing. Since 2013, I have investigated every possible cause for the water retention issues which rather suddenly hit me. This year I have FINALLY been able to rid myself of the excess fluid around my midsection, but somehow that was at the cost of the fullness in my glutes which I had worked so tirelessly to achieve during the years in which I competed.

If you ask me what my plans are for competing, don’t be surprised if I evade the question. I realize with each passing day that competing is no longer something which I rely on to define who I am. I have paid my dues and proven my worth, and though I completely understand why people have a drive to compete, I am no longer chomping at the bit to throw on a ridiculously expensive, blingy bikini and stripper heels and put myself at the mercy of a panel of judges.

Why Diets Don’t Work For Weight Loss

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Please check out my latest article for Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide! You can access the article directly here:

http://www.sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/eating-plans/tips-for-a-healthy-diet/item/1577-why-diets-don-t-work-for-weight-loss

Of if you prefer to read it here, I have included it below.

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If you are like many people, you probably have been led to believe that the only way to effectively lose weight is to practice severe caloric restriction. However, if you are always struggling to lose those last 5, 10, or 15 pounds, and are frustrated because you tend to lose some weight, only to gain all of it back plus some extra fluff, then it is highly likely that you have damaged your metabolism via severe calorie restriction.

There is a very good reason why the weight loss and diet industry is so successful, and why certain well-known weight loss programs keep their customers coming back. Most diet plans doom their clients to failure, because they don’t provide enough caloric fuel to keep the body happy, so it becomes sluggish, and the metabolic rate drops in an effort to make the body more efficient at running on low fuel.

When you consume a very small amount of calories in an effort to create a significant caloric deficit, you can potentially wreak havoc on your metabolism by causing it to slow down. Why does this happen? When there is no food to break down, the body’s furnace slows down and becomes so sluggish that when you actually do eat something, your body is less equipped to break down the food quickly, and instead stores it as fat. Depriving yourself of food also causes sharp drops in blood sugar, robbing you of energy and increasing insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance over time can precipitate the development of diabetes.

Other consequences of skipping meals include the following:

• Malnutrition – If you do not feed your body regular, balanced meals, it is highly likely that you are depriving it of essential nutrients. Malnourished states can lead to weight gain, poor health and progression of disease over time.

• Poor concentration – This is due to the depletion of glycogen stores which occurs. The brain simply does not have enough fuel to run on, resulting in fogginess.

• Hunger pangs – When you skip meals, you may experience intense feelings of hunger along with anxiety, dizziness or nausea. In addition, such feeling may lead to overeating when you finally sit down to eat something. Loading the body with a large meal is overkill, and leads to poor digestion and absorption as well as increased storage in body fat stores.

Do yourself a favor and practice the following guidelines. If you do, you will be rewarded with a healthy weight for a lifetime.

1. Don’t skip meals.

2. Make sure to eat enough protein to sustain your energy levels and satisfy your hunger.

3. EAT BREAKFAST.

4. Commit to healthy meals.

5. When you turn to snacks, make sure healthy alternatives are available so you aren’t tempted to reach for a nutrient-poor convenience food.

When The Hunger Beast Strikes

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Every once in a while, I will experience hunger that never seems to subside, no matter how much I give into my body’s insistence on foraging for food throughout the day. Since this type of insatiable hunger is exceedingly rare for me, I generally will allow myself to indulge in greater amounts of fuel than what I would normally eat. I usually take strong hunger impulses as a sign that my body actually needs the fuel, and that I might be lacking in some nutrient. Sometimes a killer leg workout will spark this mad hunger, and other times it might be a cleaning spree which causes my appetite to ramp up.

I almost relish the times that my body craves food like this, because I am usually not too excited about food. When I was in my teens, I went through anorexia, and feared many foods. Though I became a bit of a foodie in my twenties, exploring gourmet foods whenever I could, I had to adopt an “eat-to-survive” attitude once I reached my thirties, as a result of the rigorous medical training I underwent. During medical school and internship, I lived by the credo, “Eat when you can, use the bathroom when you can, sleep when you can”.

Then in my forties, the world of competing caused me to fall in love with some of the foods which I had demonized back in my teens. Though I rarely cave into the powerful lure of chocolate, desserts, pizza, and fried foods, I definitely learned to appreciate them during my competitive years. These days, I can stock chocolate, nuts and nut butter in my house without fear that I will go hog wild constantly and consume them all in one sitting. They are even relatively safe when the hunger beast strikes.

When I experience hunger which I cannot satisfy, I do NOT turn to unhealthy foods. Instead, I keep eating clean meals like chicken and green beans. However, I will often feel just as hungry after eating a meal as I did when I reached for the meal in the first place! When that happens, I will wait about a half hour, then snack on something relatively healthy, such as a small handful of almonds, or some lowfat cottage cheese, in hopes that my hunger will abate.

However, all bets are off if the hunger beast is around on my carb spike day! There have been numerous times in which the two have coincided, and during which I have allowed myself to eat pasta, bread, a large amount of rice, or some other carbohydrate rich food. The aftermath of such a carb bump is that my weight will actually DECREASE 2 or 3 pounds the next morning. This is one of the reasons why I encourage clients to have a moderate bump in calories and carbs every now and then, to spark the metabolic furnace.

As long as the hunger beast comes around only rarely, and you are in tune with your body’s needs, you should be able to indulge it without any issues.

Why Cheat Meals Are Good

If you ask a competitor about favorite cheat meals, you had better expect the person’s eyes to glaze over as he or she lovingly describes his or her most beloved foods. You may wonder if cheat meals are only incorporated into the lives of fitness people, but they actually serve a purpose for anyone who is committed to healthy eating. Perhaps you have just embarked on a healthy food regimen and are struggling a bit with it. When you incorporate one or two cheat meals into your plan each week you will boost your metabolism and foster a more balanced relationship with food.

Let’s face it. We are only human, and we carry our emotional relationship with food with us throughout our lives. If we were to practice a rigid adherence to a healthy meal plan without any fun meals, we would feel guilty if we were to ever indulge in a bad food in a moment of weakness. If we know that we are allowed such a fun meal (I prefer this terminology over “cheat” meal), we can rest in the comfort that it is acceptable and that there is no reason to feel guilty about consuming it. This also works nicely if you tend to go to events on the weekends and don’t want to be the stick-in-the-mud who can’t eat anything that is being served.

When you eat a more calorie controlled meal plan during the rest of the week, a fun meal will speed up your metabolism and satisfy cravings that have been accumulating during the week. I believe it is important to eat something you truly crave instead of doing a small cheat like a dinner roll with a chicken spinach salad. Have the two slices of pizza or the burger! Just make sure to eat an acceptable amount of food and don’t gorge yourself.

I am often asked by weight management patients if a cheat day or a cheat weekend is acceptable. My response is no, for the simple reason that this creates a slippery slope which causes many individuals to lose self-control and spiral into a guilt-ridden “I messed up so why stop now?” mentality. If it is too difficult to do one fun meal per week, incorporate two fun meals spaced by at least one day so that your body can recover.

What Happens When You Skip Meals

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You might be under the impression that skipping meals benefits you since you aren’t taking in calories constantly. Well, I’ve got news for you. By skipping meals, you are putting the brakes on your metabolism. Think of it this way. When a fire is burning in a fireplace, the intensity of the fire dies down dramatically when there are only embers and no logs on the pile. Skipping meals has the same effect. What makes it even worse is that, since the metabolism is now extremely sluggish, when you finally DO eat something, your body can’t break down the food as efficiently, and more of it ends up being stored as fat.

If you skip meals, you probably suffer to some extent from malnutrition, since you aren’t consuming sufficient nutrients throughout the course of the day. Chronic malnutrition can trigger the development and progression of a multitude of diseases. The sharp drops in blood sugar which occur as a result of skipped meals cause an increase in insulin resistance, which can result in the development of diabetes.

When you consider how much of a negative health impact skipping meals has, why would you ever do it?

Which Is More Effective For Weight Loss: Diet or Exercise?

healthy diet cartoons, healthy diet cartoon, healthy diet picture, healthy diet pictures, healthy diet image, healthy diet images, healthy diet illustration, healthy diet illustrations

As a physician and fitness professional I regularly evaluate people who want to lose weight and have often been asked whether diet or exercise is more effective in helping them to reach their goals.  If I had to choose which type of weight loss strategy was more important, I would say that about 80 percent depends on diet.  In fact, research has shown that the majority of weight loss programs which focused on dietary changes produced 2-3 times greater weight loss than programs focused on exercise.  However, long term management of weight loss can be optimized by a consistent exercise program. 

The fact is that most people are prone to consuming foods which contain large amounts of fat, hidden sugar and salt, and preservatives.  Quite often the portions consumed at one sitting are so large that the body ends up in storage mode which can lead to weight gain.  By becoming aware of the value of nutrient-dense foods and re-patterning one’s eating habits so that such foods form the foundation of a daily meal plan, long-term weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight can be accomplished.  However, the media pushes “quick fixes” by promoting severe caloric restriction and plans which are nutritionally unbalanced, thus creating a state of malnutrition.  For this reason I discourage fad diets as they almost invariably cause rebound weight gain to occur.  There are also different types of pills which by various mechanisms can assist in weight loss.  However, a number of such products can have deleterious adverse effects and should be taken with caution, if at all.  I do make an exception with thermogenics, which, if used properly, can serve as an effective aid in weight loss. 

But what about exercise?  It is true that exercise can often stimulate hunger, but it also boosts metabolism, has a positive effect on brain function, and builds muscle.  There is also some evidence that intense exercise may lower levels of ghrelin (an appetite stimulant) while raising levels of peptide YY (which suppresses appetite).  In other words, if you plan to incorporate exercise into a weight loss regimen (and I highly suggest that you do), make sure to engage in workouts which are intense and challenging.  One caveat:  the aforementioned satiating effect on hunger is short-lived, so don’t be surprised when your body begins to crave food in an effort to replenish depleted energy stores.  Before you begin to think that exercise is a bad idea when trying to lose weight, consider this: apparently, frequent exercise restores sensitivity to brain neurons that control satiety, thus placing you more in tune with your hunger signals. 

Over the long term, the combination of smaller, more frequent meals, nutrient-rich foods and regular exercise can act as an insurance policy of sorts which will protect your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Monday, 01 October 2012

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-lab-supplement-school/6661-high-fructose-corn-syrup.html
Corn Syrup
Corn sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as it is more commonly called, is the most common sweetener which is used in processed foods and beverages. In fact, HFCS comprises more than 40 percent of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages and is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States. It is adored by the food industry because it is extremely sweet, incredibly cheap, easy to transport and keeps foods moist. Like its chemical cousin table sugar (sucrose), it has raised eyebrows in the research world and prompted a growing body of studies which examine the manner in which the body processes it. The general consensus is that consumption of large quantities of any type of sugar is closely linked to dental cavities, obesity, malnutrition, and increased triglycerides. One study which was published in Metabolism Journal discovered that individuals who drank a beverage sweetened with HFCS had fructose blood levels five grams higher than those consuming a beverage sweetened with table sugar. This may not seem like much, but when you consider the cumulative effects, HFCS becomes a much more insidious dietary villain.

Fructose and GlucoseLet’s examine the composition of HFCS. This substance contains from 43 to 55 percent fructose with the remainder as glucose. In contrast, sucrose is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. Both are quite similar except when it comes to chemical bonds. When HFCS is made from cornstarch, the fructose molecules are not bound to other sugar molecules, while with sucrose, every fructose molecule is bound to a glucose molecule. When sucrose is ingested, it must undergo an extra metabolic step before the body can use it. With HFCS, the body reacts to the fructose readily. The problem is that fructose has no effect on glucose levels and insulin release (in other words, it skips glycolysis) and thus will not trigger the release of leptin (the hormone which signals your body to stop eating when it is full) nor create a feeling of satiety. This can lead to a higher caloric intake with a corresponding body weight increase. Basically, HFCS tricks the body into thinking it’s hungry when it may already be full.

Foods Containing Large Levels of HFCS
· Regular soft drinks
· Salad dressings
· Breakfast cereals
· Frozen yogurts
· Canned soups
· Canned fruits (if not in their own juice)
· Jarred and canned pasta sauces
· Bread
· Fruit-flavored yogurts
· Pancake syrups fruit juice and fruit drinks
· Popsicles
· Ketchup and barbecue sauces

Make sure to check ingredient listings, especially with the foods listed above, and try to avoid HFCS whenever possible.

Royal Sport Ltd. Target Review

Target is a supplement made by Royal Sport Ltd. which is designed to control appetite and cravings, elevate mood and promote weight loss. It contains Garcinia Cambogia, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Raspberry ketones, and Griffonia. It can be stacked with other products in the Royal Sport line for enhanced results. I have only used this product alone, and personally haven’t noticed much in the way of fat loss, but my food cravings are almost completely eliminated, which I hadn’t expected at all. I honestly think that, for me, Target would work best when stacked with other products in the Royal Sport line because my body is just acting stubborn. However, many people have reported amazing results while using Target alone, proving that what works for some people might not work for others.

royaltarget
I love the fact that Target is stimulant free yet offers fat loss and metabolic benefits for people who want to push themselves over the edge and reach their fitness and wellness goals. It’s certainly worth adding Target to a weight loss or fat loss regimen!

One last thing: I ADORE Royal Sport packaging! It’s low key yet distinctive, and it features my favorite color! I love the rubberized lids too.

Taurine

Taurine

If you want to live to a ripe old age, you should make sure you have a steady supply of taurine to guarantee it. Taurine is an amino acid which is found in large concentrations in the brain, heart, retina and platelets. This amazing amino acid protects against heart failure, detoxes the liver, maintains electrolyte balance in the body, supports the immune system, and promotes insulin sensitivity. If you consume a diet which incorporates meat and fish, your taurine levels may be normal, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, chances are that you don’t have adequate levels of taurine in your body. Another factor is the fact that as we age, we become less efficient at producing taurine.

Those of you who lift weights may already be aware of the energy boosting effects of taurine supplementation, and may be already taking it in the form of a preworkout mix which typically has taurine as part of the blend. Taurine also expands muscle cells, increasing the volume and contributing to the ever so familiar “pump” that comes from an intense lifts. But the additional health benefits of taurine supplementation make it almost impossible to pass up.

Taurine supplements are inexpensive and you don’t have to take high doses. A good dosage for most people is 1.5 grams, but you can double the dosage if you wish. You may notice a metabolic boost and significant weight loss as a result of taking taurine supplements. Taurine also causes a drop in serum triglyceride levels, making it an acceptable alternative to prescription lipid-lowering agents. Any excess is excreted by the kidneys.