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Why Are Some Vegetarians Overweight

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Much attention is focused on the health benefits of the vegetarian diet. While eliminating fatty, processed meats is a healthy lifestyle choice, it is only one factor in the shift towards an overall dietary health. Some vegetarians continue to struggle with their weight even after they have made the change to a meat-free diet.

The Importance of Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle-development and for the growth and repair of all types of tissue. Dietary protein provides the necessary hormones and enzymes for metabolism and other bodily processes. A protein-rich meal will provide more sustained energy than one made up only of carbohydrates.

Meat provides the complete proteins that are absorbed most efficiently by the body. In a meat-free diet, a combination of legumes, grains, seeds and nuts must replace these proteins. Vegetarians who eat only vegetables, fruits, or refined carbohydrates have difficulty in satisfying their appetites or maintaining energy.

Increased muscle mass also plays a role in burning fat. Muscle loss will negatively affect the body’s ability to burn calories and will add to unhealthy weight in vegetarians.

Choosing the Right Carbohydrates

Although some meats contribute to poor health, refined carbohydrates are the most common culprits in weight gain. The body metabolizes the calories from products made with white flour or sugar differently than the calories found in protein-rich meat. Replacing meat with pasta, bread, potatoes and other simple starches give quick bursts of energy followed by sudden drops in blood sugar.

The extra calories in these foods are stored by the body as fat, and the drastic fluctuations in appetite and energy levels induce overeating.

Carbohydrates are necessary to provide energy. Fiber-rich whole grains and unrefined starches provide necessary carbohydrates while slowing down their absorption. This results in more sustained energy and fewer fluctuations in blood sugar. Fiber also acts as an appetite suppressant, creating a feeling of fullness longer than refined starches. Vegetarians who choose grains and legumes that are high in fiber will also gain vital protein from these foods.

Healthy Vegetable Fats

The saturated fats found in meat and animal by-products contribute to disease and higher cholesterol levels. Replacing these fats with vegetable oils may seem like a healthier option, but not all vegetable fats are beneficial. Trans-fats, vegetable oils that have been processed to stay solid at room temperature, will raise bad cholesterol levels while decreasing good cholesterol.

Like saturated fats, trans-fats are harder to expel from the body because they do not become liquid except at high temperatures. Trans-fats are found in margarine, vegetable shortening and a number of seemingly vegetarian-friendly foods like peanut butter, commercially baked goods and foods fried in vegetable shortening.

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, found in unprocessed vegetable oils, seeds and nuts, are good for overall health. They control weight, add to emotional health, and help the body to absorb vital nutrients. These healthy fats remain fluid at room temperature and do not contribute to a raised cholesterol level.

Striking a Healthy Balance

Vegetarians who want to control their weight and stay healthy overall must choose a variety of foods. Increased vegetable and fruit consumption should be supplemented with protein-rich grains and nuts, fiber-laden carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats. These critical nutrients are most readily available in minimally processed plant-based foods.

This article was written by Jane Thomas, on behalf of Adventures Cross Country – visit their blog to learn more about teen travel adventures for your kids.

How to Get Yourself a Running Habit

Image by lululemonathletica

This is a Guest Post By Julian on behalf of JTX Fitness

The health benefits of running are well known and documented across literature and the web. Running regularly makes us slimmer, healthier and fitter and even better, it helps us to balance our stressful lives, relax our minds and makes us overall happier as well. All we need to do is to start running, right?

Well, as I am sure many will agree with me it’s just not quite that simple. Running, and especially running regularly requires a vast amount of mental strength particularly during the first few months before it becomes part of our weekly routine and we start feeling weird if we don’t go. An that is precisely the state of mind and body we are aiming for, the sensation of craving to go for a run which is followed by a sense of relaxation and relieve after the run rather than total and utter exhaustion and physical pain.

It is hard work to get to that point and once you are enjoying your running, you still need to put some effort into keeping the momentum up as it is quite easy to lose it all again after a week away on business or a family holiday spent eating well and putting your feet up. For some people, running is part of everyday life – even a way of life and they will not travel without their running gear. Running can be quite addictive to some people but most normal people find it a lot more difficult mentally to get into that routine.

Every person’s body and mind work differently so there is no hard and fast rule of how long it will take to get to that magic point. From personal experience I would say it takes between 4-6 weeks before I am where I want to be. Personally, I am not what one would describe as an enthusiastic runner.

I do not own a running outfit or several pairs of running shoes. I do not wear skin-tight running shorts or even worse, those super short ones that always seem to threaten to reveal a little bit too much. I try to run regularly because exercise makes me a happier person. Every time I decide to get into running again I go through the same mental process. At first I am very motivated and do ok for a week, sometimes two. Then I will use any excuse to not go for a few days, forget about the whole thing and a month later I have to start over again.

So here is a guide of how to get yourself a running habit which is working for me, the average lazy guy:

1. Sit down, work out what you are trying to achieve and write it on a piece of paper. Writing down why you want to run will help you to remind yourself and to get motivated. Then turn that paper around and write in big letters ‘I love running’ on it before you stick it up on the wall in your room. Remember that the overall objective should be to enjoy running regularly, everything else will fall in place from there.

2. Set yourself targets. Short term and a long term targets on how often you want to run are a great start. Making sure they are achievable yet challenging in both frequency and distance. Don’t be too tough on yourself especially in the beginning as the objective is to enjoy it. Making it too difficult for yourself in the beginning increases the risk of you dropping out of your regime.

3. Keep a record of your runs. A little notebook will do but if you are a little bit more technical and enjoy your Apps and gadgets, there are some amazing and mostly free running apps out there allowing you to track your progress on the computer, manage your targets and challenge you to improve your personal best time. Apps I have used in the past and would recommend are the Nike+ app as well as the free version of Runkeeper.

4. Try to be methodical and build the running into your weekly routine. Try to fit the running into your life rather than attempting to re-arrange your life around your new favourite hobby, an approach that is not likely to stand the test of time. For example find something you do twice or three times a week and attach the running to that. Instead of putting your feet up and wasting your time ‘unwinding’ in from of the TV after work, get your running shoes on. If your live is not very structured and every week is different, choose something you still do every day like getting out of bed.

The thought of exercising early is daunting to some but there is no better way to inject some energy into your day than an early morning run. Other alternatives are during your lunch break at work (provided the office has changing facilities and a shower) or last thing in the evening. That latter version is probably the most difficult one if you have an active social or family life. As a woman you should also think about your safety – running through the city late at night, probably even along the same route on the same days every week may be a concern.

5. Do daydream! – Letting your mind run free will take the focus off the running and help you to get into an almost meditative state making the run feel a lot shorter and less exhausting. Instead of checking your watch or the miles you have done every 5 minutes try to distract your mind from the exercise. A decent running soundtrack or recorded podcasts on a subject you are really interested in work wonders. This kind of meditation and mind-relaxation works particulary well on a treadmill where every step is the same and there are no distractions around at all.

6. Reward yourself for achieving milestones and for keeping it up but choose the kind of reward wisely. Some new runnign shoes or maybe a healthy meal out, don’t be tempted to reward yourself with a week off running as that completely defies the objective. You can start doing that once your routine has stuck and you have proven to yourself that you can keep it up. The temptation of thinking ‘oh I will just take this week off and start again on Monday’ may put you back to square one faster than you think.

7. Religiously stick to it. Now this is probably the most difficult one as most people have the tendency to subconsciously avoid doing something difficult. Try to catch yourself when you are procrastinating and snap out of it as quickly as you can. There are no excuses for not running, it does not require much time or a lot of kit and there is always room for your running shoes when you go on a business trip or a long weekend away with friends. Bad weather is not an acceptable excuse and neither is a hangover.

Not everybody lives in an area where the weather or the environment allow running all year round and at any time of the day. If you find that external factors seem to be keeping you from running more often than not, it may be worth looking into getting your hands on a half-decent treadmill which will allow you to run in the comfort of your home any time you like. You can watch the TV to distract yourself and over the duration of a year it will certainly work out cheaper than a gym membership.

Good treadmills can be a bit pricey but cheap treadmills are a waste of money and you will end up not using them. There are various specialist online retailers like JTX Fitness selling home fitness equipment, if you are unsure about how frequently you will use it or just do not want to spend that kind of money it is always worth checking the classified section in your local paper or website for a treadmill bargain. There are always people who buy a treadmill in order to get running regularly, fail miserably and then sell a practically un-used treadmill for little money because it is cluttering their garage up. No, you won’t be one of them!

Does Post Workout Protein Build More Muscle?

Image by d_vdm

There are a lot of accepted facts about building muscle. In most cases these “facts” are based on little more than that they are widely repeated. The belief that you need to eat protein right after a workout is one of those “facts”.

The reality is that there is very little to base this belief on and the limited amount of research that has been done would seem to contradict it. That being said for most people it is still usually a good idea to eat protein after a workout, just not for the reasons that are generally believed.

Over the years it has become largely an accepted fact that consuming protein right after a workout would help with muscle growth. Unfortunately actual research to back this up is rather limited and the results of that research are open to question. Almost all of the research that has been done has focused in large part on protein synthesis immediately after the workout.

The results of this research did show that if you eat protein right after a workout protein synthesis will be increased. The problems come when the researchers tried to extend the results.

Most of the research that has been done into the effects of eating protein right after a workout on muscle growth have focused on the two hour period right after the workout. Protein synthesis during this period is increased. However there is very little actual muscle growth during this period.

When researchers extended the study period they discovered that after nine hours protein synthesis in people who had consumed protein right after their workout was no higher than it was for the people who had not eaten anything after their workout. The result is that they were really no better off than the people who had not eaten at all in more than nine hours.

It should not come as a huge surprise to learn that the value of eating protein right after a workout is rather limited. After all muscle is built during the recovery period after you have worked out, this takes several days. It is during this period that you need to be providing your body with protein. There is very little muscle growth during the first two hours after you have finished working out so there is not really a huge need to be eating protein.

All of the above being said it is still usually a good idea to eat protein after you workout. The reason has more to do with the fact that you want to be supplying your body with protein on a regular basis. This is the real key to growing muscle. Ideally you should be eating protein every three to four hours to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount. Clearly this means that you are likely going to want to eat protein in the two hours after you have worked out since you will likely be nearing four hours since you last consumed any.

The other reason that you are probably going to want to consume protein after a workout is that the research on the subject is far from definitive. While there is evidence that shows that there are in fact no benefits it can hardly be considered conclusive, it may be that eating protein actually does help. It is pretty clear however that it won’t hurt to eat protein after a workout. Therefore if you feel like it is helping you to eat protein after you have worked out then there is no reason to stop.

The only real issue that you may face if you do decide to consume protein after you a workout is that they may end up consuming more than you really need. Most people are under the impression that they need a lot more protein than they actually do to build muscle. In reality you only need to be a little bit above maintenance levels.

Again it won’t do you any harm to eat more protein than you need, it just isn’t going to help you any. There is a limit to how much protein you can process, if you consume more than this it will just pass right through you.


1. Atherton PJ, Etheridge T, Watt PW, Wilkinson D, Selby A, Rankin D,

Smith K, Rennie MJ. Muscle full effect after oral protein: time-dependent

concordance and discordance between human muscle protein synthesis

and mTORC1 signaling. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1080-8.

2. Garlick PJ, McNurlan MA, Patlak CS. Adaptation of protein metabolism

in relation to limits to high dietary protein intake. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999

Apr;53 Suppl 1:S34-43.

by Will from Sprained Ankle Institute he also writes for a blog about Ayurveda

Multiple Benefits Of Hoola Hooping

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Getting Started
I started hooping a couple of years ago. I was a pole and burlesque dancing teacher for Polestars and was super excited that they were going to be offering hula hooping too. I’d seen people hooping in the parks and on the seafront in Brighton where I lived then and thought it looked like a lot of fun. I looked online and found that there was one class in Brighton and it wasn’t Polestars.

I went along, sat outside a church with some other beginners and discovered that basically, the teacher wasn’t going to turn up. Annoyed, I took myself down to Oddballs jugging shop and just bought an adult weighted hoop in blue and orange.

After lots of broken promises to learn to hoop together from friends, I gave up and bought the Hoop Girl beginners DVD online. The wait for it to arrive seemed as long as the wait for a cereal box coupon toy when you’re 8. Eventually it turned up – a whole reel of 30 tricks or so. But here’s the problem, I couldn’t even hoop round my waist yet and I got super frustrated. I decided to time myself every day, and every day, I would eek a few more seconds out of my personal best.

By the end of the week I could do a solid five minutes of waist hooping. I had bruised hips and scuffed walls, but I was thoroughly hooked. These days when I teach a Polestars party or class, it makes me laugh when girls worry they don’t get it in the first few minutes – they’re all much better than I was on their first go!

Choosing a hoop

Size – For an adult, you’ll need a hoop that’s a lot bigger than you’re probably expecting. A good guide is to choose one that comes up to your hip – for most people, it will be around 38-40 inches in diameter

Thickness – the thickness of the hoop determines how hard it is to use (and how many calories you’ll burn), for beginners, we recommend a thick (circa. 25mm) hoop, and once you get the hang of it, graduate to a thinner one (around 20mm)

Weight – heavy hoops are great if you’re a beginner or are hooping for exercise; Lighter hoops are better for doing tricks (particularly if you’ll be doing them on your legs or neck!)

Where to buy a hoop?

When you were a kid, the hoops at the nearest toy shop or discount store were probably perfect; but for an adult, we recommend buying your hoop from a specialist dance or fitness store. There are many to choose from, we recommend Polestars. They sell adult hula-hoops on their website and offer free nationwide shipping on every order.

Health Benefits of Hula Hooping

I’m not much of a fit-aholic. In fact, if I am at all aware that I’m working out, I immediately want to go home and eat pizza. Give me a challenge to learn a new trick on the other hand and I’m game. Reps just don’t cut it for me, so when I see someone do something that looks a little bit like circus magic, I want in. When I started out, all I could dream of was to keep the hoop going, then I desperately wanted to learn chest hooping, then hooping on my legs.

By the time I’d conquered these I was teaching a beginners course and with all the practice I honed my tricks from gangly passes to fluid expressions of movement. It was super satisfying and my whole class was enjoying themselves. Those that were there to lose weight or keep fit, quickly forgot about it and just had a really good time. They were also thrilled at the end of the 6-week course to learn that they had lost on average an inch and a half off both hips and waist and burned 100 calories every fifteen minutes. That’s a Jaffa Cake every five minutes. Sometimes I will stop to have a Jaffa Cake every five minutes.

The Numbers

A recent study by the American Center for Exercise found that hula hooping burns around 210 calories per 30-minute session – a similar amount to a boot camp or cardio-kickboxing session. The ACE study suggests that given the variety of movements in hooping it should be considered a total-body workout that has the potential to improve your flexibility and balance while strengthening and toning the muscles of the back, abdomen, arms and legs.

Social Hooping

Not only is hula hooping a great fitness pursuit, but it really brings people together. I was temping a while back and didn’t really have time to get to know any of the other girls on my floor. I popped an email around and invited the girls to hoop at lunchtime. Within a few weeks there was a veritable army taking 10-minute de-stress hooping breaks, 1hr hooping lunch breaks (Jaffa every 5) and even going up onto the roof of the building on sunny days and hooping out there while we looked out over London.

Last winter three of us went up to the roof in several inches of snow and hooped with joy as the snowflakes fell around us! Some of the gang liked to learn the tricks, some just liked to chat and waist hoop, but everyone was having fun. During days in the park over the summer, I would constantly find that hooping was a great way of meeting new people. Some would come over and say ‘can I have a go?’ and others would just like to watch me hoop dance and ask me about it.

I once inadvertently sat near a group that had also bought hoops to the park and we trick-swapped over our picnics. A friend of mine took a theatre show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year and I promised him a 1:1 hoop lesson to give out as an auction prize. A few weeks ago the winner – a lovely bloke called Olly – came to the car park round the back of my house to learn a few tricks. The light faded and there were fireworks going on locally.

For the last 15 minutes as a little treat, I wheeled out my LED hoop and Olly smiled broadly as he showed off his new moves with light dancing around him. I even took my travel hoop to Turkey for the last two years of holidays and my holiday chums are getting into it. There we are in our bikinis, hooping by the pool, or drunk and strangely better at it… Last weekend I was hooping in my Dad’s back garden with my Dad in his mid-60s, my sister at 40 and both my nieces under 10. What a brilliant sight!

Find a Hula group

If you’re a complete beginner, there are plenty of hula hooping courses and one off lessons throughout the UK. Hula hoop classes have even become a popular hen party activity. Once you’ve got a little experience under your hoop, you can generally find regular hooping groups at a local gym or online.


So, what’s the big draw? Is it the bright colours, the fitness, the sociability? I think it’s more than that, it’s primal, we’ve all been dancing since the dawn of humanity and with a bit of plastic you can be caught up in the wheel of life, turning and throwing and spinning. In the greater part of my time I am an improvisational comedian. It means that I exist only in the moment, I listen and remember and feel what is going on around me and tune in with it. Hooping does the same thing for me and it’s lovely to be lost in concentration and flow. Pick one up, drop it, pick it up and get hooping!

Written by Katy Schutte. When she’s not hooping, Katy teaches a variety of dancing styles and improv comedy workshops in London for Polestars.

Avoid Empty Calories and Fast Food for Healthy Habits in the New Year

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Another winter season means another struggle to keep trim. It’s the never-ending question: how do I stay fit during the holidays and into the New Year?

The answer: develop healthy habits.

You can take as much advice from friends and read all the tips in magazines about how to lose weight. However, the best way to stay healthy, and not only over the holidays is to develop healthy habits.

The bad news: it’s hard. You can’t sugar coat the process of converting to a healthy lifestyle. It’s hard work to develop healthy habits. And there are no shortcuts you can take.

TED talk earlier this year.

For a healthier lifestyle, try something new for 30 days. See if it sticks. However, be vigilant: commit to making the change for one month. If you can do it, you’ve got a new healthy habit.

So what’s the payoff? In the end, the benefits you get from a healthy lifestyle are addicting. You’ll love the way you feel when you’re living healthy. You won’t want to go back to being unhealthy. You’ll be happier, healthier and it will be easy to stay that way, once you’ve developed those healthy habits.

Take the plunge into a healthy lifestyle in 2012: here’s how you can do it.

Alternatives to Empty Calories

So you’re in the habit of ordering a Starbucks White Chocolate Frappuccino with whipped cream. Instead, in 2012, try drinking tea at work for 30 days. Whether it’s hot or cold, you’re still getting the caffeine and a tasty drink. Plus, it will save your waistline and your wallet. If the habit sticks, then you’ve won. However, remember: it won’t be easy. The temptation of Starbucks will lure you in. Resist it by remembering your goal: develop good habits for a healthy lifestyle.

Alternatives to Fast Food

That fast food addiction should be the first thing to go in 2012. Though a Burger King Triple Whopper might taste great going down, your waistline is hurting from it. Kick the habit by bringing your own lunch from home for 30 days: see if your new habit sticks. If after 30 days, you’re still craving, find the best fast food nutrition  by comparing menu items side-by-side. There are healthy alternatives atfast-food restaurants,  and the key to a new lifestyle in 2012 is developing the healthyhabits. .

You can start developing healthy habits any time you want. Just commit to 30 days and see if it sticks.

Brandon Coakley is a recent graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and a business development manager at FindTheBest Health, which helps users find their best health options on everything from the Best Nursing Homes to Mammography Facilities.  

5 Vitamins That Do it All

Image  by shannonkringen

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has jumped on the multi-vitamin train, but do the all-in-one-pills really give you everything you need? What about joint pain? Back pain? Is there some vitamin or mineral that is absent from your diet that could help with that?

From my experience, multi-vitamins are a good start, but they aren’t the entirety of the vitamin world. Here are five vitamins and minerals that do more than you thought they could.

1. Vitamin C for the immune system – It’s so simple that you might just miss it. Vitamin C is a miracle vitamin. You can’t overdose on it, and it cooperates with your body to fight off infection. What about pain? If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how illness can make your body hurt everywhere. Sometimes you don’t even recognize when you have an infection. Take vitamin C and fight it off before it spreads out of control

2. Dolomite for back pain – A type of calcium, this supplement is a natural source of magnesium also. The odd and delightful thing about Dolomite is that it helps back pain. Now, I’ve slipped a disk or two in my time, and I know what it’s like to experience real back pain. I experimented with all the pain meds and anti-inflammatories, but they did virtually nothing for me. Then I started taking Dolomite. A couple pills a day, and a month later the pain was gone just gone.

3. Dolomite for nerve pain – I know I’ve already spoken to you about Dolomite for back pain, but it works miracles for nerve pain also. Have you ever irritated your sciatic nerve? You know; the big one that goes down from your back into your leg? If you have, you have experienced nerve pain. Dolomite releases that pain. It works wonderfully for pinched nerves in your neck and shoulders also.

4. Chondroitin and glucosamine for joint pain – There are many variations of joint supplements, but these two ingredients are what to look for. They cooperate with your body to permit joints to move freely, without pain. Perfect for people with arthritis; the quantities may vary depending on the manufacturer, so follow the directions on the bottle.

5. Cranberry juice for kidney, liver, and bladder pain – I know; cranberry juice is not a vitamin or supplement. However, it does work. Get the whole fruit variety, and check the back to make sure it is not predominantly grape juice. Drink a few glasses a day and your pain will diminish. Urinary tract infections are very common, and agonizing, but regular cranberry juice cleanses will help to thwart them.

Vitamins are not panaceas. They can’t remedy everything. However, handling the underlying source of your pain is the first step to getting rid of it forever.  Try some of these supplements today, and give them a little time to work. You might be amazed by the results.

Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015@gmail.com


10 Guilty Pleasure Foods under 100 Calories

Image by jetalone This is a guest post by Toby Sanford of www.121doc.co.uk

snacksMost of us hate having to miss out on foods that we know are naughty, but when you’re trying to cut calories often it’s the only way to remain on course to meet a target. Here is a list of 10 guilty pleasure foods you can enjoy without jeopardising your health plan.

 Half a pint of lager and 7 peanuts: 99 calories

Peanuts are shown to be a great source of monounsaturated fats, the type of fat that is associated with the Mediterranean diet. What better way to wash down the heart-healthy snack than with half a pint of your favourite tipple.

2. 1 McVitie’s chocolate digestive: 83 calories

Munching a handful of chocolate digestives is one of the easiest ways of exceeding your calorie limit. Rather than cut out this treat altogether keep the biscuit count to 1 per day.

3. 10 Pringles: 100 calories  

If the nutritional values of a tube of Pringles are viewed as a pie chart, then fat and carbohydrates would collectively dominate 95% of the entire area. Stay well within the boundaries of your daily allocation by nibbling only 10 per pack.

4. 1 bag of ready salted French Fries: 97 calories

The nutritional guidelines show French Fries as one of the less dense calorie treats when compared with other branded variants of the potato chip.

5. 2  Jaffa Cakes: 90 calories  

The combination of light sponge, dark chocolate and juicy orangey bit makes the McVitie’s Jaffa Cake a calorie powerhouse, which is why adults are recommended not to exceed more than 1 per day.

6. 2 squares of cocoa dark chocolate: 88 calories  

Although Dark chocolate packs in a large number of antioxidants – nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries – it doesn’t necessarily mean the positive health values outweigh the fats and sugar count. As a compromise, eat dark chocolate in moderation.

7. Kellogg’s Chocolately Drizzle Special K Bar: 90 calories

The Special K Bar is no replacement for a chocolate brownie or cake. However, it will give your sweet tooth the sugar fix it craves at the end of a meal. At 1.5 grams of fat, you don’t need to worry about breaking your calorie budget.

8. Cheerio’s On-the-Go to Pack: 80 calories

The narrowed serving opening of the Cheerio’s pack means you can potentially snack on it all afternoon, rather than in one sitting. Even in small amounts this cereal is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients.

9. 8 large pretzel twists: 55 calories  

Choosing pretzel twists as a light breakfast or late-afternoon snack will make less of a dent to your calorie threshold than a sugar-laden muffin or giant cookie.

10. 25 Jelly Belly jelly beans: 100 calories

If you’re talking numbers, 100 calories worth of Jelly Belly Beans will give you 25g of carbohydrates, or 25g of sugar. It goes without saying that vitamins have no place here, so be sure to balance out the 25 beans with 1 multivitamin tablet.

This article is brought to you by 121doc, a licensed online clinic that offers accessible private healthcare to UK patients. For general health advice including weight loss tips, or to order prescription treatment with next-day delivery, visit www.121doc.co.uk  

5 Easy Ways To Avoid The Winter Weight Gain Blues

This is a guest post by Brandon Serna on behalf of Hydroworx

SnowShovelingNow that bikini and beach weather is sadly behind us. It’s easy to lose your motivation for fitness and gain a few unwanted pounds.

And why not? We have months and months of thick sweaters and puffy jackets ahead of us, which are perfect for hiding all of our extra bumps and lumps and rolls.

Despite how easy it is to sink into that fluffy soft couch with a bag of crisps and hibernate there until the mercury rises, trust me when I say that you will regret it.

Once the snow melts and we find ourselves gearing up for the warmer weather, there is nothing more panic inducing than realizing you’ve played the role of a sloth all winter and are now carrying around a spare tyre or two.

Whether you realise it or not, it’s far easier to gain weight than it is to lose it.

The best way to avoid that gut clenching fear of taking off the beach wrap in public is to avoid the extra weight in the first place, and it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think. Here are just a few suggestions to keep you motivated through the colder months and make you ready for the warmer weather well before it’s here.

  1. Vary your routine 

    If you normally lift weights or attend a yoga class, switch it up now and then with something new like a bike ride or a kickboxing class. Keeping your fitness routine fresh will help you stick to it on those days that you don’t feel like doing anything. And when the snow piles up outside, forget the snow blower because shoveling is an excellent exercise!

  2. Find a partner 

    There is little more motivating than knowing your workout partner is hitting the gym while you lounge around. Nothing gets me off of the couch faster than knowing my partner is losing weight and toning up while I’m shoving pastries in my mouth.

  3. Plan ahead 

    It’s really easy to ditch the jog around the neighbourhood if the weather is nasty so if you normally take part in outdoor activities, think about some alternates that you can access when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Some great indoor activities include.

  • Laps in an exercise pool
  • Jogging around an indoor track
  • Floor hockey
  • Basketball
  • Exercise pool fitness classes
  • Aquatic therapy equipment like water treadmills or kick boards
  • Dance classes
  • Speed walking around the local mall
  1. Set realistic goals 

    There’s no point setting yourself up for disappointment by setting goals that you can’t possibly reach. You’ll just end up feeling bad and that can lead to a serious lack of motivation. This disappointment can become a downward spiral very quickly so set small reachable goal’s week by week and increase their difficulty slowly. Once you start reaching them on a consistent basis, you’ll naturally want to start making them harder to attain in order to push yourself! Success breeds more success!

  2. Portion control 

    This is the simplest way to lose or maintain your weight without ever feeling like you’re missing out or starving yourself. Take your normal dinner plate and substitute it with a smaller one. Yes, it really is that simple. Those endless cooking shows on TV are constantly telling us that we eat with our eyes, and you know what? They’re right.Quite often we see a plate of food and we’re hungry so we eat it and don’t feel like we’re done or full until the plate is empty. A smaller plate means a smaller portion but will still looklike a full plate serving therefore tricking your brain while still satisfying your stomach.No matter what methods you use to keep your motivation in high gear through the winter months; swimming or basketball, speed walking or aquatic therapy, you will be very happy that you did once spring rolls around. Just think of the smug little smile you can have while everyone else is in full “crash diet mode” as soon as the very first sundress makes an appearance.


How Good Oral Hygiene Can Help You Stay Fit

This is a guest post by Richard

teethWhat can a smile do?

A radiant smile can be one of the first things to emit self-confidence. Having a lovely smile can significantly impact your self-esteem in a positive way, and, though it might sound strange, practising good oral hygiene can not only give you healthy teeth, but it can also help contribute to weight loss and overall health.

If you are concerned with your body image and your health, focusing on your oral hygiene should be a top concern, too. There are a number of ways in which dental care is connected to weight loss and management. With a more attractive smile, it can provide the self-confidence that you need in order to stay motivated to work out.

Tooth decay and weight gain

An essential part of maintaining your dental hygiene is sacrificing the sugary and starchy foods from your diet. The sugar and the starch sticks to your teeth easily, in turn causing tooth decay from plaque build-up. Items such as sodas, pasta, bread, sweets, and coffee are often high in carbohydrate and caloric content.

By removing the junk foods and starches from your diet (or minimising your consumption) you will increase the chances of preventing tooth decay and you will be saving a lot of calories. This ultimately increases your chances of maintaining your weight or achieving weight loss. Often, the foods that cause you to gain weight the quickest are also responsible for rapid tooth decay.

Health complications

By engaging in good oral hygiene, you significantly reduce the amount of bacteria living in your mouth. Excess amounts of oral bacteria have been linked to strokes, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Having any of these chronic issues can be detrimental to your ability to work out and maintain a healthy weight.

By focusing on a healthy diet, you not only improve your health issues, but you can prolong the health of your teeth and gums and lose weight. By combating oral bacteria (from brushing, flossing, getting regular check-ups, and altering your diet) you will notice the amount of energy you have is pronounced, thus compelling you to work out and keep off those excess pounds.

Poor oral hygiene

One of the first signs of poor oral hygiene is gum disease (gingivitis). This is when harmful bacteria builds up in the mouth and causes the gums to bleed. Periodontal disease can result from this, eventually causing teeth to fall out. Sadly, if enough harmful bacteria is able to finagle its way into the bloodstream, it can cause the walls of arteries to become inflamed. This can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.

People tend to develop Type 2 diabetes from poor lifestyle choices and eating habits. Type 2 diabetics are typically overweight. Some cases of this disease can be prevented in full. Dental care is linked to this disease because of poor food choices – which ultimately have led to weight gain and additional complications.

An over-abundance of oral bacteria can also cause poor circulation of blood – this can make working-out an arduous task, reducing the amount of endurance you have. This puts you at risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The less often you work out, the fewer calories you burn because your metabolism has been slowed.

What else can you do? 

Weight loss is never an easy goal: so much discipline and dedication has to be invested in order for you to reach any desired weight loss. Luckily, taking care of your teeth is a good first step in order to push you above and beyond your fitness goals.

Alcohol (in excess) is also a factor that can contribute to both poor dental health and weight gain. Alcohol can dry the mouth, providing the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Undeniably, alcohol is essentially empty calories. The more you consume, the more you put yourself at risk for oral bacterial growth and weight gain from empty calories.

Always remember that a healthy body starts with a healthy smile. By adopting good oral hygiene (such as brushing, flossing, using mouth rinse, getting regular dental check-ups, and avoiding sugary foods) you can lay the foundation for an active lifestyle and meet all of your fitness/weight loss goals!

Richard is a freelance writer who tries his best to live a healthy lifestyle – though he makes an error every now and then. He is currently writing on gum treatments and he would welcome your visit on Twitter; @thefreshhealth.

10 Essential Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Image by markpayton

This is a guest post by Toby Sanford of 121doc

pumpkinIf you are looking for ways in which to meet your 5-a-day quota without growing bored with the same fruit and vegetables day in day out, then add a pumpkin to your shopping basket this October.

Halloween’s favourite orange vegetable is loaded with essential health properties and simple to adapt as a meal or snack making it one of the most versatile and undervalued health foods available. Pumpkin’s work in the following ways to keep your general health intact:

1. It protects against heart disease and cancer.  

Pumpkins are very rich in carotenoids, which are types of antioxidants. It’s a known fact that infections contribute to heart disease, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Additionally, viruses are responsible for the development of some forms of cancer. Carotenoids can help strengthen the immune system, thereby lowering the potential risk of heart disease and cancer.

2. Stimulates weight loss  

The pumpkin is a low-calorie food; it provides just 26 cal per 100 g and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. This vegetable is also rich a source of dietary fibre and minerals. Because of its abundance of nutritional values, pumpkin is seen as a sensible dietary choice for controlling weight management.

3. Loaded with essential vitamins  

Pumpkins are bursting with vitamin A, providing roughly 246% of RDA. Vitamin A intake is necessary for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes; it is also crucial for promoting healthy vision. Studies have concluded that natural foods rich in vitamin A help protect against lung and oral cavity cancers.

4. Stabilizes cholesterol and blood pressure  

Pumpkins contain a powerful antioxidant called beta-carotene, which is a well known anti-inflammatory agent. This substance acts by preventing a build-up of cholesterol on the arterial walls; this in turn lowers the chance of stroke. Being loaded with potassium, pumpkin is also associated with lowering the risk of high blood pressure.

5. Slows the ageing process  

Pumpkins exploit an antioxidant called zea-xanthin, which has ultra-violet rays filtering actions in the eyes. It essentially serves to protect from a disorder called age-related macular disease (ARMD), more so in elderly people. If left untreated, macular degeneration can result in blindness.

6. Synchronizes bowel movements  

For the majority of patients who develop colon cancer, hemorrhoids, fistula and fissure, there is usually a history of bowel problems. It can often be put down to chronic habit constipation. Consuming a high fibre food, such as pumpkin helps you meet the daily requirement of 25-30 grams and live to avoid such health complications.

7. Contains anti-inflammatory properties  

Eating pumpkin is said to reduce inflammation, without producing many of the known side effects of anti-inflammatory medicines.

8. Boost’s prostate health  

Pumpkins are useful for promoting overall prostate health and alleviating the problem of difficult urination that is associated with an enlarged prostate.

9. Offers relief from depression

The pumpkin contains a substance called L-tryptophan, which has been found to be effective against widespread mental health disorders, such as depression.

10. Distracts from snacking  

And finally, a fun tip to test your creative ability; the pumpkin is best known as a canvas on which to carve out a scary face. Resist snacking between meals by getting to work on creating your own Halloween pumpkin design.

121doc is a licensed online clinic that offers accessible private healthcare to UK patients. For general health advice, including weight loss tips or to order prescription treatment with next-day delivery, visit www.121doc.co.uk