Archive for March, 2012

Building staple foods can help you succeed on a long-term fat loss diet


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According to wiki, a staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on at most a small number of staples.

Staple foods vary from place to place, but are typically inexpensive or readily available foods that supply one or more of the three macronutrients needed for survival and health: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Typical examples include grains, tubers, legumes, or seeds. The staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day, or every meal. Early civilizations valued staple foods because, in addition to providing necessary nutrition, they can usually be stored for a long period of time without decay. Some foods are only staples during seasons of shortage, such as dry seasons or cold-temperate winters, against which times harvests have been stored; during seasons of plenty wider choices of foods may be available.

In the context of fat loss, the amount of total calories that we eat is not the only thing that matters but what we eat can also make a difference towards successful long-term fat loss solution. The calories in = calories out is a correct formula but the problem is that it is too simplistic that it doesn’t define it’s subcomponents thus, it does not factor the hunger and satiety factor while dieting.

Humans are creatures of habit

That’s where habits come in. Habits help us through our day. When we are doing something that is habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual. Just as an example, consider making breakfast in your own kitchen on any given weekday. Next time you do it, watch how effortlessly it happens. It’s not exactly like an out-of-body experience, but it’s close. Your movements through the kitchen are stereotyped. You grab the milk out of the fridge, turn toward the counter and give the door that little nudge you with your foot that you know it needs. If something is on your mind, you might not notice that you’re sitting at the table and munching on your second piece of toast until you’re halfway through it. Now, compare that to getting breakfast at a friend’s house. Maybe you’re dog sitting (you’re so nice!) Where’s the milk? The bread? Oh my goodness, so complicated!

–an excerpt from Psychology Today

From staple foods to habit, why am I making connections between the two? Because just like anything else that we do in our everyday lives, our daily diet is a habit. Take note that the word diet simply means a specific way of eating and does not automatically mean dieting to lose weight and such. However, many people are unaware that their diet can either make or break them in terms of health and in the context of successful permanent fat loss. You may have read or heard somewhere that successful dieting needs lifestyle changes– this is correct but the question there is what to change? The answer of course simply depends on person to person basis but to the majority of people, dietary modification(the amount and type of foods eaten are given) while increasing physical activities including exercise or both. Exercise can actually be also a habit by the way because once your body get used to it, you’re going to start doing it on a regular basis especially if you are seeing pleasing results.

Backtracking to staple foods, the truth is anything can be eaten on a diet but to the people whose are not tracking their calorie intake tend to eat haphazardly/ mindlessly if their diet consists of wider variety of foods. From a health standpoint, assuming that the bulk of a diet is coming from mostly whole foods, a wider variety of foods could mean wider variety of nutrients but most people including the ones who eats healthily opt to fall in the mindset that more is better which just make them eat more total calories.

Start building your diet around protein

Protein was derived from the Greek word proteos which means first rank of importance.” I have enumerated some good sources of protein here which can serve as the foundation of creating staple foods for protein intake. Of course, we need some fats as well so after selecting your protein sources, dietary fat follows and then ideally speaking, the remaining calorie budget can be derived from carbohydrates sources such as fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. Even incorporating cheat meal or a free meal can be established as a habit of having a small treat at the end of the week just to break the psychological restraint of food monotony. In most cases, one doesn’t really have to change their whole diet; by simply swapping lean cuts of meat instead of using the fatty cuts can automatically slash many calories away.

“So how long does it take to establish habits? While the well established rule on habits is 21-28 days, the UK Health Behaviore Research Centre recently came out with research that found it took 66 days to form a habit. I would tend to agree with the latest research — if we can do something for 66 days straight, we can do it for a year, five, or thirty. 21 or 28 days seems to be just enough time to make it questionable, or make you confident but not be able to stick to it.”

–excerpt from Psychcentral

One great mistake when people diets is that they think that fat loss diet is like an on and off switch while the secret of successful weight/ fat loss diet is compliance and consistency of dieting effort therefore, what brings you there will keep you there. My personal tip is to build your diet around the foods that you like to eat so that you will stick to your diet not because you have to but you want to.

The shopping guide for protein sources


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Every diet regardless of the fitness goal whether it’s weight loss, weight gain or even maintenance of current body weight or body composition should ideally meet an adequate protein needs. The amount of adequacy of course highly varies from different factors such as current body composition, amount of carbohydrates present on a diet and hunger/ satiety issues. According to Wikipedia, Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of the body, but can also serve as a fuel source through the process called gluconeogenesis. As fuel, proteins contain 4 kcal per gram. Whenever I get asked by my friends and the people around me if how to establish a fat loss diet, I always encourage them to eat adequate protein to ensure positive nitrogen balance while restricting their energy(or calorie) intake thus, protein is ranked as the most satisfying nutrient among the other nutrients(fats and carbohydrates). A diet with adequate protein will always trump any diet that has lower/ insufficient protein intake because it is highly satiating; therefore, it often makes people eat less calories automatically. Among all the nutrients, protein also has the highest TEF(Thermic Effect of Foods). So, upon advising the people around me to increase their protein intake as they lower their carbs intake, the next question I get asked is what are good protein sources that’s why I got inspired to write this blog post. By the way, I’m not saying that low-carb diets/ decreasing carbs intake is the only way nor the optimal way to lose weight/ body fat but these people whom I referring to who often asks me were the ones who belongs to the average population who does very little resistance training or those who doesn’t even participate in high intensity exercises(such as sprinting or weight training) at all. A lot of people’s mistake when they diet is that even if they’re decreasing their total calorie intake, they’re not eating sufficient protein intake which leads them hungry while dieting and they’re ending up losing plenty of lean body mass as well.

I don’t eat meat but I eat chicken and fish

Please, do not ever think this way. Chicken and fish are both considered meat which are also classified as protein. There are only 3 macronutrients: protein, fats and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are not macronutrients by themselves but are classified as carbohydrates. Most of the foods are mixtures of nutrients but it’s general classification is based on the most abundant nutrient found in a particular food. For example, peanut butter contains some tag along protein in it but not only that it’s protein was incomplete protein(lacking the 8 essential amino acids) but the majority of a peanut butter’s calories are coming from fat calories. There were also some carbohydrates which contains some tag along protein in them such as rice, bread, pasta or even some fruits and veggies but the protein found in these foods were simply tag along proteins.
Before I stray away too far from the topic, the point is that most foods are combination the 3 macronutrients but for the sake of this blog, I will enumerate some good protein sources based on their caloric price, pleasant taste and of course, last but not the least, high in quality protein.

My family and I went to Walmart today and as we browsed the grocery aisles, I took pictures of some protein sources which can be added in your dietary staple. While the truth is that there is no single high protein food that can be considered as the best, if and when the fitness goal is to slash as many calories possible while getting as many protein as you could get on a limited calorie budget, it just makes sense to concentrate on foods that are both low in calories but high in protein.

Lean protein

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Frozen shrimps

They’re also cheap and tasty hence the flavor is so neutral that it can be easily added on a salad or soups.

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Frozen fish fillets

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This actually tastes pretty good and is convenient because it only takes 5 minutes to prepare 2 fillets using a microwave oven.

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This is like the balance between not too fat and not too dry as far as ground beef leanness. I’ve tried as lean as 96/4 lean ground beef and once you cook a very lean ground beef sans the oil makes the meat so dry.

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This ham is ass cheap and the taste is actually decent.

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If you’re craving for some breakfast sausage, this can be a good alternative to the traditional pork sausage links.

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Low-calorie string cheese; it’s also the best tasting low fat string cheese in my opinion.

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You can’t go wrong with eggs. Eggs are combination of slow-digesting protein and monounsaturated fat from the yolk. You don’t need to buy the cage-free nor the organic kind. Some may say that the omega-3 eggs contains more of these fatty acids but you can easily get the omega 3 fats from eating a salmon/ tuna/ mackerel twice a week or simply just by popping a fish oil pill.

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Fat free cottage cheese. Good source of casein protein

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Fat free milk

If you prefer 1-2% variety, go ahead. I simply like drinking far free milk because I mostly blend my fat free milk along with my whey protein and using the fat free variety creates a good consistency when mixed with whey.

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EAS advantEDGE carb control

I always stash these in my car. These are good easy accessible high protein drink which also happened to be low in carbs hence low in calories plus it tastes great especially the strawberry flavor.

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Muscle Milk light

These are pretty much like the EAS but contains less protein and is more expensive than the EAS above.

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Whey protein powders

Cheap, convenient source of high quality protein. I explained the context here whether you should include or not include protein powders in your diet.

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Precooked chicken breast

Convenient and ideal for people with busy lifestyle and for those who doesn’t have time to cook people.

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Turkey breast fillets

Alternatives: skinless
chicken breast or skinless chicken thighs

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Pork chops/ Pork tenderloin

Yes, these are good sources of lean protein plus it is high in selenium.

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Eye of round steak

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Top sirloin steak

The code for lean meat is the –loin at the end(sirloin/ tenderloin)

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Ham steaks

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I don’t normally eat protein bars because I prefer to spend my carb calories from other sources but for convenience sake especially IIFYM(If it fit in your macros), these protein bars actually tastes pretty good for both it’s caloric price and retail price.

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Be careful with these protein bars though because even though these are high in protein, these also happened to be jacked with plenty of calories. Again, it’s really up to you IIFYM

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It might contain 10 grams of protein but for the caloric price of 180 calories per can, there are other better, tastier and more satiating protein/ meal replacement sources. Skip this unless IIFYM

Some of the other good sources of lean protein that I forgot to mention are fat free/ low fat Greek yogurt, CARBmaster yogurt and the pre-made lean chicken/ turkey burger patties. I don’t know if you noticed that I was biased towards the fat free/ lower fat variety? This is not because I’m fat phobic nor fat is fattening nonsense but just like what I have said above, if the goal is fat loss, the goal is to seek for foods that are high in protein yet low in calories thus personally, I prefer to save my fat or carb calories for something else rather than meeting my whole macronutrient requirements from tag along fat and carbs themselves.

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Low fat Kefir

A middle eastern yogurt drink than is a good source of protein and is friendly to people who are lactose intolerant.

The best home brewed coffee(at least in my opinion)


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There’s a lot of things to love about coffee in the context of fitness benefits. It aids lipolysis during hypocaloric diet, it may improve insulin sensitivity thus it creates ergogenic benefits during exercise. This blog is simply about the best ground coffee (at least in my opinion) that you can buy from a local supermarket. I’m not really fond of instant coffee because if you’re a coffee enthusiast like myself, you can easily spot the difference between an instant and a brewed coffee. Every coffee that I will list down below are all caffeinated coffee. To me, drinking decaffeinated coffee loses the real importance of drinking coffee in the first place unless a person is caffeine-sensitive yet wants to enjoy drinking coffee still.

Personally, I like drinking my coffee black regardless of it’s degree of roasting level. Since I prefer the taste of stronger coffee, I only buy the medium roast to espresso grade coffee. I have a high caffeine tolerance so drinking light coffee to me is like drinking a low-calorie light beer 🙂

Here are some of the best coffee that you can buy in the US:

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Starbucks Breakfast blend

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Newman’s own breakfast blend

If you like organic coffee, this is probably the best-tasting organic coffee around which is in par with Seattle’s best organic coffee

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Seattle’s best Level 3 coffee

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Starbucks Italian Roast

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Starbucks Espresso roast

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Don Francisco Espresso(Bold)

I enumerated down the coffee which I liked the most starting from the medium roast to the strongest one. The other brands that I didn’t listed down which are also worth checking out are the Dunkin Donuts and Peet’s coffee.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19924012/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/14684395/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21914162/

How to make yo-yo dieting work


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According to Wikipedia, Yo-yo dieting or Yo-yo effect, also known as weight cycling The term “yo-yo dieting” was coined by Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., at Yale University, in reference to the cyclical up-down motion of a yo-yo. In this process, the dieter is initially successful in the pursuit of weight loss but is unsuccessful in maintaining the loss long-term and begins to gain the weight back. The dieter then seeks to lose the regained weight, and the cycle begins again.

As I have mentioned numerous times in my other blogposts, successful long-term weight management can be achieved through consistency. If you stick to your diet plan and regular routine such as your regular daily physical activities(NEAT) and regular exercise, it ensures that you will be in neutral energy balance. It’s an undeniable fact that many people fail to stick to their diet plan as a result of severe food restriction to the extent of unnecessary complete food elimination. Let’s face it, many people are guilty of this mentality when they diet because it is a common belief of many that there are really foods that can be fattening which is not true as I have explained here. While having staple foods in a diet may be helpful in terms of convenience, anyway people are creatures of habit so we tend to stick to something if we do it on a consistent basis. But let’s be honest here though, no one wants/ will want to stick to a diet that forbids the consumption of the foods that we love to eat. Pizza, ice cream, cakes, cookies, fast foods or what have you had always received bad reputation in the dieting world.

What if we could really lose weight while enjoying the foods that we like to eat? Sounds too good to be true isn’t it? Again, I’m not selling anything. I write and occasionally update this blog because I want to help people manage their weight/ body composition. I’m not a fat loss expert and you don’t have to be one but I know how to manipulate the things around me instead of my environment manipulating me because remember that there are many things that are in our control.

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How do this actually work? Well, I don’t know if you know that incorporating calorie deficit shouldn’t always have to be applied on a daily basis because sometimes, what matters more is the net weekly calorie deficit. Meaning to say that if you need 2,000 calories daily to maintain your weight for example, in a week timeframe, you need 14,000 calories in total. So, even if you have days wherein you ate 3,000 calories for example, you can still create the calorie deficit within the succeeding days anyway, at the end of the week, what really matters is the weekly total calorie deficit. In terms of nutrient partitioning benefits, I would preferably gear those high calorie days(if you prefer to do so) during my most active days while saving the low-calorie day(s) period when I’m the least busiest. Logically speaking, this makes a lot of sense since you’re just following the law of supply and demand when you most needed it. Does it mean that you should skip having a fast food dinner with the family if you’re not heavily active that day? Absolutely not. As I have said, it’s only ideal in the context of nutrient partitioning manipulation but what matters more in the big picture, is the weekly net deficit.

You may tell me that you have tried this before and it didn’t work. No, you did not! You may be carrying this eat now, diet later mentality but in reality, you actually eat now but you never really dieted later. On top of this, many people out there thinks that when they eat something that isn’t included in their diet automatically ruins their dieting effort which isn’t true at all. No one gets fat nor get lean overnight. I hope that you already know this by now.

Treat this concept like borrowing money. When you take a loan, you must pay your borrowed money on time otherwise, you will be buried much deeper with debt( in this context, excess surplus calories which eventually turn into fat). Eat responsibly.

Fitness: A status symbol


In some ways, being fit is more of a status symbol than it’s ever been than ever been because of how overweight some people are. If you have a flat stomach, you’re probably in control under very trying circumstances. These days, almost everyone can afford an iPhone, a big ass TV, or even finance a sports car but having a flat stomach is hard to come by. It’s a way to stand out!

I am not a psychologist nor a sociologist but I observe the world around me. This blog post may sound as vain as it is, well, the reality is, we care about what people think of us because humans are social creatures.
We buy luxury cars, expensive designer bags, fancy jewelries, etc. to appear pleasing to the eyes of the people around us. We like being complimented, we like the feeling of being special, we like the feeling of being envied by the people around us because that is how our society works.

The slender, muscular shape is the masculine ideal because it is intimately tied to western cultural notions of maleness as representing power and strength.

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If we look around us, being fit in the modern society is intimately tied to status symbol because fitness which in this context meaning having a slender/ muscular body indicates a well-off living(paid off mortgage, coming from a rich family, an elite actor/ model or in other words, it imposes rarity). Whilst, people who belong to lower socioeconomic group tends to have a diet which is rich in cheaper/ high calorie-dense foods. Of course, I’m not implying that all rich people are in good shape nor all poor people are fatter but there is definitely a correlation between the type of food accessibility between these group of people because the people who happens to belong to the higher socioeconomic group tend to be more aware of optimal nutrition and health whilst the people who belongs to the lower socioeconomic group focuses on survival(having any food to be served on their table regardless of the type) and they simply have many other things to worry about than aiming for optimal health.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907149/