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Weight Loss

Low-Carb Diet or Low-Fat Diet: Which Is Better?

Written on September 12, 2014 at 9:52 am , by

We all know by now that maintaining a healthy weight promotes heart health. But finding the golden path to get you there can be an everlasting challenge, which is why there’s been so much buzz around a recent study that found low-carb diets to be more effective in aiding with weight loss and cardiovascular health than low-fat diets.

But before you run to the grocery store and stock your cart with strictly carb-free foods, there are some important facts about the study to keep in mind. We spoke with cardiologist James Beckerman, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member, to get the deets.

1. While participants on the low-carb diet lost an average of 8 more pounds than those on the low-fat diet, the study only followed each participant for one year. “We don’t know beyond a year what happened to these people,” Beckerman says.

2. Close to 90 percent of the weight loss among the low-carb group occurred within the first three months of the diet. “I think at the end of the day, every diet has a honeymoon period,” he says. “It’s showing the benefits of each diet were more significant just in the first three months as compared to over the whole year.”

3. Within the first three months of the study, the low-carb group ate fewer calories than the low-fat group. However, by the end of the study, the low-carb group had upped their calorie intake by 15 percent, while the low-fat group only upped theirs by 7.5 percent. “That kind of speaks to the fact that perhaps the low-fat dieters were able to stick with their diet a little bit longer term than the low-carb people,” Beckerman points out.

While we still can’t say a golden one-size-fits-all diet exists (everything in moderation, people!), keep in mind that making small changes to the kinds of nom-noms you’re placing in your mouth can reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. Avoiding as many processed foods as possible—especially processed meats— and trans fats is key. And make sure to pack in extra fiber to keep your cholesterol low.

Photo by Sarah Kehoe

More from FITNESS:

How to Eat for a Healthy Heart

Keep On Ticking: Your Essential Guide to Heart Health

The Heart Disease Prevention Guide for Your 20s, 30s, and 40s

Take the Bus to Lose Weight

Written on September 3, 2014 at 9:55 am , by

Big city turn you into a public transit kind of gal? We know it isn’t always a great experience—strange, sweaty bodies too close to you in the summer and bone-chilling wind greeting you with each station-to-office trek in the winter.

But don’t cash your bus coins in yet. A new study found that those who commute via public transportation have less fat and an overall lower BMI than those who drive a car. Ellen Flint, Ph.D., a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the study, says it’s the walks to and from your destination that are keeping you trimmer—an entire 6 pounds, in fact, for a 5-foot-4-inch woman.

Flint studied 7,500 men and women in the UK. Those who walked, biked, or used public transportation to and from work were not only 6 pounds lighter, but an entire BMI point lower than their car-commuting counterparts. “And that was despite adjustment for a range of other factors about the lifestyles of these individuals that we thought might be responsible for their weight status and commuting choices,” she explains. “So things like diet quality; how health-conscious a person is; income and socioeconomic status; the amount of physical activity that the person does in their job and in their leisure; their health and disability status: We really adjusted for all of those factors to try and distill the relationship between the level of activity in their commute to work and their bodyweight and composition.”

Flint hopes the study sheds light on the fact that even though riding a bus to work doesn’t seem any more exerting than driving a car, the required body-movement bursts—like walking to and from the train station, standing on the bus, and climbing up and down stairs—really do make a difference.

“On a population health level, encouraging that incidental physical activity in the daily lives of the population could really add up to something which might help combat obesity levels,” she says. “It’s quite a large weight difference. It’s one that we think is clinically significant and it suggests that there is a large untapped potential for policy makers to consider the health benefits one might get if one was to really try and promote and facilitate greater use of public and active forms of transport.”

More from FITNESS:

Maria Menounos’ 5 Favorite Get-Fit Tips (Plus, Win A Signed Copy of Her New Book!)

Written on May 30, 2014 at 5:58 pm , by

“I really want to lose a few pounds.”

We’ve all been there, said that, amiright? But it’s one thing to say it, and another to actually do it. What with busy work schedules, taking care of the family and, you know, maintaining some form of social life, some days it feels like a miracle to squeeze a workout in—while remembering to eat mindfully—on top of it all. So if you feel like you’re swimming in unchartered waters with your head barely above water, don’t freak out: you’re not alone. TV host and journalist Maria Menounos lost 40 pounds over the course of a year, and she did it without cutting corners. Thankfully, she also decided to write a book about it that hits shelves on Tuesday, June 3rd. After you pre-order your copy (you can do that here), take a sneak peek at some of her tips below:

Set a Deadline. You can’t just say “I want to lose weight…someday.”It’s that kind of loose talk, without a guideline, that discourages you from getting started and undermines success. My goal was to stop overeating, make healthier choices and lose weight slowly over the course of one year. Trying to rush or do crazy crash diets does not give you sustainable results. And I never focused on losing a specific number of pounds. I just knew by the end of a  year I wanted to look and feel great, whatever my weight was. 

Keep It To Yourself. When you tell others you’re trying to lose weight, you’re just putting pressure on yourself. Weight loss is tough enough—why make it any harder?

Avoid the Scale. Though you may have a targeted number of pounds in mind, weight loss isn’t always mathematical. There’s no way to be sure you’ll lose exactly how much you want per week. Some weeks you might only lose a pound instead of two or nothing at all. You’ll just get discouraged if you weigh yourself a lot. Plus I don’t want you obsessing about scales or numbers. First and foremost, this is about gaining long-term health. After a few months, if your clothes feel a bit looser and you can’t resist, hop on the scale. But no matter what it says, stick with the program.

Eat Your Calories—Be Sure Not to Drink Them. A lot of drinks are full of sugar. Soda is the most obvious one, but sports drinks, bottled ice tea and flavored coffee drinks are usually packed with sugar, too. You can opt for artificially sweetened diet versions but they aren’t the healthiest alternatives. When I lost weight I chopped up lemons, pushed them into jugs of spring water and drank that instead of juice or anything else. I still drink lemon water and plain hot water.

If you Like Dessert, Have It. Dessert is not forbidden. I didn’t cut it out when I was losing weight and I still have it occasionally. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat the most decadent options. You’ll find that as you get used to eating better, heavy treats with lots of sugar will leave you feeling blah and you won’t crave them as much. To keep dessert in your life, try lower-fat frozen yogurts. Or serve plain Greek yogurt with a little honey or fresh fruit. When you’re out to dinner, order dessert for the table and let everyone share. You’ll be surprised how much a little bit satisfies you. 

For more where that came from, remember to pick up a copy of The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness yourself. Want one—for free? Tune in to our Twitter chat with Maria next Wednesday at 2p.m. EST and you could win one of three SIGNED copies. See you there!

More from FITNESS: 

How Maria Menounos Stays Fit with Basically No Workout Time

Extra’s Maria Menounos Talks Food and Fitness

Trade Miles for Money with Mizuno

A Healthier You: Tips to a Slimmer, Trimmer 2014

Written on January 3, 2014 at 9:43 am , by

Time to pump up your slim-down. Don’t sweat it, though. These easy peasy strategies will have you slipping into your skinny jeans ASAP. (Photo courtesy of Laura Doss)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Now that the calorie-loaded holiday spreads are off the table and we are getting back into our weekly routines, those New Year resolutions can make their official debut! Of all the goals we set that relate to health and wellness, weight loss constantly tops the list. So let’s really get it right in 2014 with some sound nutritional advice, a fresh perspective and boost of motivation. We spoke with Jacqueline Marcus, R.D., a nutrition consultant to The Dukan Diet, about her top tips to make weight loss attainable, maintainable and worth every minute of the hard work you put into it!

Think lean and clean for your fitness routine. This catchphrase guides Marcus in helping her clients work towards their goals. “As you’re thinking about an exercise plan for life, you want to feed your body with the cleanest types of foods and beverages that are low in fat and high in protein,” she says. Lean protein helps support the muscles as the body breaks down its fat cells and low-starch vegetables high in vitamins and minerals support the work of these lean proteins. Soon you’ll convert your bod into a lean, mean, fat-burning machine!

Create a combo deal. Most people who achieve their fitness goals use a combination of methods to get there. A healthy diet tailored to your lifestyle, a customized workout plan and a behavioral component, like a food journal or online diet community, create a triple threat against fat. “The most successful people use at least three methods,” says Marcus.

Don’t forget about fiber. It’s essential for creating the feeling of fullness and maintaining healthy digestive system. Plus, Marcus says it can decrease your total daily calorie consumption by about 5 percent.  She swears by oat bran because it keeps her from ever getting that “OMG, I can’t get enough food in me” feeling. Try sprinkling 1 1/2 tablespoons of oat bran on top of  a cup of Greek yogurt with fresh berries to kick start your day.

Go easy on the sodium. While a little bit of the salty stuff is important for helping balance water in the body, we tend to overdo it and end up experiencing bloat, lethargy and sometimes blood pressure problems. Marcus suggests minimizing your intake by avoiding the saltshaker after your meal is cooked, and staying away from as many processed foods as possible. “Use real foods to keep it in check. Proteins and vegetables contain sodium, so it’s not like you’re going sodium-free,” she says.

One  step at a time. If you’re looking to inspire an entire diet and lifestyle overhaul, focus on one change at a time so the habit really sticks. “It’s better to focus on the different stages of a well-constructed diet program and do those well without doing too many other things and feeling overwhelmed,” she says. When you start seeing the results form one habit, you’ll be motivated to push yourself to that next step. Eight of our readers took this advice to heart and made major changes in their lives – you can too!

Stop counting. Some diets require people to count calories and nutrients like carbs, but Marcus sees this process as a potential distraction. Instead, focus on healthy options, eat to a feeling of satisfaction or fullness and learn how to use good-for-you foods in a way that put you in charge of your new lifestyle.

More from FITNESS:

Ditch the Fitness Excuses: How I Hope America Moves Forward in A Nation of Obesity

Written on December 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm , by

Photo courtesy of Maria Kang

Photo courtesy of Maria Kang

Written by Maria Kang

I believe our emotions are what drive our successes or failures.

Motivation is an incredibly powerful emotion. It helps you challenge yourself and push through plateaus. This kind of energy can help us interpret messages in a positive light, envision possibilities, and then seek out those opportunities.

My “What’s Your Excuse?” poster evoked motivation in some, particularly the audience reading this right now. For others, it sparked shame—and outrage. Those people labeled me a bully and a fat-shamer, and suddenly I was at the core of controversy.

But when FitnessMagazine.com asked its audience what they thought of me, a large chunk of you said I was an inspiration. When Facebook banned me from its site and FitnessMagazine.com then interviewed me, you rallied on my side. You’ve defended me because of one common truth among us: We know our health is important.

So what do we do now?

We want to stop the obesity epidemic in America. We aren’t complacent—or at least don’t want to be. Whether we’re overweight or super fit, we know none of this is really about me, the messenger. It’s about the message.

The message is about balance, and yes, pushing past self-acceptance. It says that when we deprive ourselves from living a healthy life, we limit our ability to thrive.

As I’ve said numerous times over, it’s important to love yourself. But let’s challenge ourselves and the people around us. When something or someone refers to obesity as “normal,” challenge it! I’m not saying to shame or bully anyone, but we must focus on progress. On a daily basis we engage in a comfortable schedule, with comfortable people and comfortable habits. Instead, let’s focus on how there is always room for improvement.

The first step in discouraging complacency is to create a goal and go public with it. This goal may be to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans or to eat less processed foods. You need to write it down, set a deadline, and create daily steps in your life to hold you accountable. Accountability begins when you set up mental and physical enforcers that will push you to move out of your comfort zone – because let’s be honest, we are creatures of comfort. It’s only natural to gravitate toward what is easier rather than what is harder.

So let’s fight the complacency trend by making life harder. Here’s how:

Read more

Maria Kang Plays Defense Against the Haters (Again!) Post Facebook Ban

Written on November 27, 2013 at 11:22 am , by

No excuses mommy blogger Maria Kang got the Facebook boot this past weekend for more controversial comments. Do you think she’s in the wrong? (Photo courtesy of Maria Kang)

Maria Kang is just a mom—a mom gone viral, that is, when her ab-flaunting “What’s your excuse?” captioned photo sparked controversy and media scrutiny. Things had just died down for the Californian fitness enthusiast when she hit another nerve last week with a Facebook rant about plus-size women in lingerie.

Kang issued a warning about what she had to say, then vented her disapproval for those who encourage overweight women to be proud of their bodies. The mother of three urged her nearly 230,000 followers to change the mentality that’s sweeping the nation (sourcing multiple statistics), noting that she was not knocking those who are proud and heavy…but instead simply trying to empower healthy role models in society. Three hours later, Facebook removed her post and she was temporarily blocked from the site altogether.

“I think that everyone should love and accept their bodies,” Kang told FITNESS yesterday. “I don’t think that anyone can progress when they have a foundation of shame, so I didn’t want to seem like I was bashing them. No one should be ashamed of who they are. But there is a fine line that we’re walking, and that’s what I was talking about: When you say you love and accept yourself versus love and progress yourself.”

With two-thirds of our nation obese, $3 trillion being spent on health care, and childhood obesity on the rise, Kang believes there are multiple contributing factors tipping the scales, all in which stem from family. “Economically, it’s tougher to get good food when you’re poor,” she says. “Socially, if people around you are eating like crap and it’s normal, then it’s normalized. And culturally, if people are saying you’re okay being overweight, they keep on reinforcing this outlook.” The root of the problem, in her eyes, lies in leadership. “If the parents are healthy and they are healthy role models, then they can raise healthy kids. That’s just how it goes. It’s so simple but so hard when we live in such a blameful culture.”

So is she at fault for fat-shaming? Is the criticism warranted? According to Kang, she’s simply telling the truth and would never intend on hurting anyone’s feelings. “If you have excess body fat, especially around your midsection where your organs are, that’s not healthy for you,” she said in response to the recent backlash. “I think we should never shame anybody to lose weight. We should motivate them in a positive way, but when you say love and accept yourself, you’re creating not only a normalization, but a sedentary, complacent society.”

Although some have deemed Kang a pudge-loathing personal trainer, that’s not exactly the case. “I’m average…and nowhere near a size zero,” the former NASM-certified instructor said. She doesn’t work out for a living — her day job revolves around overseeing the ownership of two residential care homes for the elderly — but she loves volunteering her time to mommy exercise groups every Tuesday night. “I think your job is to be healthy if you’re a mom,” she added, a concept that provoked her founding of Fitness Without Borders, a community education and motivation non-profit.

So, why so passionate about the obesity epidemic? Kang, a former bulimic, witnessed first-hand the debilitating repercussions of the medical condition with her own mother. “She’s 52 years-old and has so many health issues. I work with people who are overweight by choice. I think that’s the reason why people are so pissed off; I’m telling them that they have a choice when they really want to have an excuse.”

Is it a choice? We at FITNESS believe someone can be fat but fit, and you can’t tell what’s going on with a person’s body just by the way they look. Regardless, Kang certainly knows how to stir the pot, and one thing we can totally get behind is her belief that small steps in the right direction can lead to major gains, which doesn’t happen over night. According to Kang, you have to be uncomfortable with where you are to desire change. “It’s not an all or nothing thing,” she said. “You have to take it one step at a time.”

 More from FITNESS: 

Find Your Inner Strength with John Rowley’s 52 Million Pound Challenge

Written on November 19, 2013 at 10:10 am , by

Tackle the holiday season head on with Rowley! (Photo courtesy of John Rowley’s 52 Million Pound Challenge)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With so many weight loss programs on the market today, it doesn’t take much get started. Keeping up with it and achieving long-term results, on the other hand, often times feels like a losing battle. National fitness expert and bestselling author John Rowley recognizes this struggle, attributing it to a lack of mental and emotional connection with physical goals. And he’s ready to do something about it.

Rowley recently launched his 52 Million Pound Challenge to help North America shrink its obesity rate from the inside out. In partnering with HabitForge, the program helps each participant pinpoint a healthy habit they want to develop and hold them accountable for 21 days, inspiring behavior change that can last a lifetime. Rather than having to remember to log data each day, the program emails you a habit reminder with a simple “yes” or “no” response to track your results. After successfully maintaining a habit for three weeks, users can tackle a new one. The challenge website is also stocked with a variety of informative posts from health, fitness and lifestyle experts to keep users actively engaged with the goals they are working to accomplish.

To track North America’s progress toward health and fitness, Rowley integrated interactive maps of the United States and Canada with state and province-specific obesity statistics in the challenge website. Clicking on each location also shares how many residents are signed up for the challenge and the area’s rank regarding its weight loss success.

To jump start the program, Rowley is hosting a 12-week challenge beginning the day after Thanksgiving, and anyone ages 18 and up who signs up before November 29 can compete!

The game is simple: Each participant submits before and after photos (or a certified note of body fat lost from a personal trainer or doctor if you’re uncomfortable with sharing photos), along with a 350-word essay or 3-minute video sharing his or her inspiring story via the challenge’s Facebook page. At the end of 12 weeks, the Facebook community will select the top 25 men and women, then the official judging panel will narrow it down to 10 men and women before Facebook users select the two grand champions. Each winner receives a trip for two to St. Thomas, along with other goodies—talk about motivation to give the whole weight loss thing another go!

Will you be helping Rowley help North America lose 52 million pounds?

More from FITNESS:

Fit Blogger We Love: Knead to Cook

Written on September 5, 2013 at 10:43 am , by

Robin and her hubby after the speedster pounded the Maine pavement for the Beach to Beacon 10K in August.

Need to stir up your go-to healthy eats? Robin over at Knead to Cook has what you crave—muffins, cookies, pies, you name it—without the guilt. And whoa, it shows! The fit mom who sticks to an impressive six-day workout regimen (three days running, the other three hitting the gym for cardio and lifting) cut down on sugar and recently lost over 30 pounds, making major PR strides. We’ll have what she’s having! From lightened-up, homestyle Italian dishes to perfect pre- and post-workout fuel (check out her addictive No-Bake Energy Balls below), this gal cozies you up to her table like you’re a part of the family and proves that nutritious cuisine can taste good, too.

My favorite way to workout: Running, especially in the fall and winter. I’m definitely a cold-weather runner.

My biggest motivators: My two daughters. I want them to look at me as an inspiration for what is possible. They shouldn’t use age as an excuse—ever!

My favorite fit snack: Non-fat Cabot cottage cheese. It’s packed with protein and I mix it with Justin’s almond butter; it’s such a treat! I cannot get enough of it.

Motivational mantra: “No one ever drowned in his own sweat,” by Ann Landers. I actually have it written on the chalkboard wall in my kitchen and I look at it every single day.

My “I did it” moment: Even after running a marathon, my biggest “I did it” moment was recently, at the Beach to Beacon 10K, when I ran it in 49:01. That’s my fastest race time yet, thanks to my recent 31-pound weight loss.

These little protein-packed nuggets are highly sought after at Robin’s daughter’s swim meets—and for good reason. Sweet, tasty and filling!

 

No-Bake Energy Balls

  • 1 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c almond butter (or whatever nut butter you have in your pantry)
  • 1/2 c flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 c + 1 /4 tsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

 

Mix together in a bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Remove and roll into balls. (Robin uses a small scooper!) Place in an airtight container to refrigerate for 5-7 days, although they will most likely be long gone before that!

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

These States Have the Greatest Weight Loss Success – Is Yours One of Them?

Written on August 21, 2013 at 10:15 am , by

Is your state moving enough? (Photo by Jeff Olson)

Written by Kristen Haney, editorial intern

Pat yourselves on the back, people of Boulder, CO, and get to stepping, residents of McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX. A recent study by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index, found that the Texan region was the most obese metro area in America and Boulder was the least. That’s all there is to it, right?

No so fast (or slow). The experts over at Jawbone knew that couldn’t be whole story, so they compiled data collected by Jawbone’s BodyMedia monitors, pulling actual stats from the thousands of users who track their weight-loss efforts with the popular armbands. This revealed a deeper insight into the nitty gritty details of dropping pounds, from each state’s activity level to its successful weight loss percentages, and the results were surprisingly different. So if you’re not living in either of the areas mentioned above, don’t sweat (or maybe do). Check out the states they see rockin’ it out:

Highest percentage of weight loss:

  1. Maine (11.2%)
  2. Nebraska (11%)
  3. Arkansas (10.8%)

Median calories burned by physical activity:

  1. Utah (659.9)
  2. Montana (644.3)
  3. Oregon (635.8)

Highest percentage of obesity:

  1. Indiana (59%)
  2. West Virginia (58.7%)
  3. Arkansas (58.6%)

More from FITNESS:

The Fittest Cities on Facebook, Did Your City Make the Cut?

Best Road Trip Ever: Active Vacations Across the Country

The State That Sleeps the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

Flat-Belly Salads

Written on May 1, 2013 at 11:30 am , by

watermelon salad to lose weight

Reach your weight loss goals with a tasty watermelon salad. Photo by Laura Georgy, RD.

By Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD

Happy May! Beach season is right around the corner, so now’s the time to get bikini ready with some delicious and nutritious salad recipes. That’s right—you can eat your way to flatter abs!

With the help of Dole salads and in honor of National Salad Month, I am going to give you yummy, healthy and simple salad recipes every week this month for a total of 31 recipes—enough for a different salad every day. You’ll give your taste buds a treat (no boring salads here!), get more veggies and reach your better-body goals.

Each of the salads below has ingredients proven to help you slim down and fight belly fat. Dig in and you’ll be rocking a two-piece on the beach in no time!

Blue Watermelon Feta Salad
Flat-Belly Ingredient Spotlight: Watermelon
Watermelon has high water content and research shows foods with high water content may help you naturally eat hundreds less calories per meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 bag (5oz) Dole arugula
  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix lime juice, onion and feta until combined.
  2. Toss with arugula.
  3. Top with watermelon and blueberries.
  4. Culinary Notes: Mixing the lime juice with the onions mellows the onions’ flavor. For a quick dressing anytime, mix your favorite citrus juice with your favorite shredded/crumbled cheese.

Serves 2. Serving size: 3 cups. 130 calories and 5g fat per serving.

Here are  four more Flat-Belly Salad recipes. Check back next week for a new round of salads!

Mango Salad with Ginger Raisin Vinaigrette
Flat-Belly Ingredient Spotlight: Red Wine Vinegar
Vinegar at meals may help increase feelings of fullness, decrease calorie intake by about 70 calories per meal, improve blood sugars after meals and lead to less body fat over time.

Fresh Fruit Salad with Baby Spinach and Yogurt Poppy Seed Dressing
Flat-Belly Ingredient Spotlight: Pineapple
Pineapple contains bromelain, which improves digestion and decreases post-meal bloating.

Granada Seafood Salad
Flat-Belly Ingredient Spotlight: Sardines
Sardines contain omega-3 fat which may control appetite, increase calorie burning and decrease the amount of fat your body stores.

Spinach Salad w/ Thousand Island Yogurt Dressing
Flat-Belly Ingredient Spotlight: Mushrooms
Mushrooms are the only plant-based source of vitamin D, which research suggests may aid in the loss of belly fat.

About the Author: Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified specialist in sports nutrition based in Chicago. She is the author of The Flexitarian Diet. Dawn is working with Dole throughout the month of May to inspire more salad eating.