May 2, 2009

Lose Fat, Gain Health - Enlist Your Diet Allies and Wage War Against Your Diet Enemies

We are truly in a battle for our health and fitness. The latest statistics are staggering starting with the fact that the value of the U.S. diet market in 2008 was estimated at $58.6 billion. According to JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Issue: August 27, 2008, "unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are second only to tobacco as underlying causes of death." John LaRosa of Marketdata, one of the leading researchers of the diet industry, recently informed me that "the number of U.S. dieters is estimated at 72 million, with sixty-six percent of the American population being overweight or obese. And it has been noted that childhood obesity in the U.S. is growing at an alarming rate, with one out of three kids now considered overweight or obese.

Unfortunately the diet industry produces too many "fad diet" (get fit fast) programs and products (including books, creams, gadgets, drugs, supplements, drinks, foods, etc) that are misleading and can actually cause harm. But as consumers we need to take some responsibility becaus
e it is our lack of knowledge and discipline that has fueled our appetite for "fad diets". These quick-fix diet plans only make the problem worse and cause more confusion on an already complex topic-"fat loss". With all of the confusion surrounding "how to lose fat" the effective, safe and lasting way it is critical for us to know our diet allies and enemies so that we can be victorious.

This is Part Three (Ezine Aricles) of the
Seven-Part Series of Why Do American Women Get Fat? What You can Do About It. If you missed it, I will give you a recap of the diet allies and diet enemies-plus it doesn't hurt to read things twice.

Diet Allies

- Water

Water is essential for life-it makes up about two-thirds of a person's body weight and is the second most important nutrient next to oxygen. We can live without food for weeks but only a few days without water. Drinking plenty of water stands alone as the best thing you can do for your body-for health, low body fat, great skin, longevity and much more.

- Proper Diet (nutrition)

Nutrition is defined as the relationship between food and the health of the human body. When you achieve proper nutrition, all the essential nutrients are supplied and utilized in a balance that maintains optimal health and well-being. Good nutrition is essential for normal organ development and function, normal reproduction, growth and maintenance, optimum activity level and working efficiency, resistance to infection and disease, and the ability to repair bodily damage or injury.

- Calories (food)
Human beings (and animals) need energy to survive and they require energy from food. Our food has three main components: protein, carbohydrates and fats. These are digested in the intestine, then broken down into their basic units: proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates into sugars and fats into fatty acids. The body uses these basic units to build substances it needs for growth, maintenance and activity.

- Supplements

Vitamins and minerals help us to grow, produce energy, fight disease, repair injured tissue and maintain normal health. Many of these important nutrients are available in quality, wholesome foods. But supplements can be helpful and sometimes necessary, especially if you are reducing calories to lose weight, trying to offset the affects of aging, trying to reverse any physical damage you may have acquired through unhealthy habits or injury, have any nutrition
al deficiencies, specific health and fitness goals, or a medical condition or health concern that warrants taking them.

- Exercise
A major ally in the battle for a lean, fit, healthy and more functional body is exercise-it truly is the fountain of youth. Exercise makes you healthier, feel better and look younger! The wide-ranging health benefits of regular exercise include reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity. Exercise helps to keep joints, tendons and ligaments flexible, protect posture, and keep bones and muscles stronger. Exercise contributes to mental well-b
eing (including alleviating depression, stress and anxiety) and to ensuring better sleep. Exercise also helps increase metabolism, energy and endurance, and it stimulates fat loss while you develop a firmer, more defined and youthful body.

- Sleep (rest) & Sun

The health benefits of sleep include reducing inflammation, de
pression and stress and increasing alertness, memory, immune function and more. Sleep also helps repair muscles after exercising and damage caused by stress. Moderate amount of sun exposure can actually be beneficial by helping your body produce Vitamin D. This is not a license to "bake and burn" in the sun-just a fact to relieve your fear about sun exposure and get you outdoors to exercise and enjoy what nature offers (use sunscreen).

Diet Enemies
In summary, our "diet enemies" come from lack of exercise and sleep, overeating, under eating and consuming the wrong kind of calories. Diet enemies include poor liquid choices, junk food, saturated fat, sugar, high-sodium intake, excessive non-organic dairy products, trans fats and hydrogenated oils, preservatives, additives and chemicals, man-made food products, white flour; consumption of poor quality protein, carbohydrates and fats; excessive use of unhealthy sauces, dressings and seasonings; restrictive, unbalanced and unsafe diet programs.

"Diet Villain" Video

Now let's take a deeper look at our diet enemies (which I call "diet villains"). Most can be found within The Five Factors Affecting Body Fat and He

Factor #1: Liquid Consumption

#1 Dehydration: Not consuming enough water each day.

Water is critical to good health. Water is necessary for nearly every bodily function, including circulation, digestion, absorption, excretion, and nutrient distribution to all cells. Adequate amounts of water are vital to lung function; mitigate high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, diabetes, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, hiatal hernias, headaches, angina, allergies, and constipation; prevent kidney stones; and slow aging.

Lack of water can affect our weight-loss efforts. Most of us retain water because we do not drink enough water. We mistake thirst for hunger, so we eat instead of drinking water. Dehydration not only has health consequences but also affects our mood and can make us lethargic, making it impossible to exercise and eat correctly. Thirst cannot always be relied on as the best indic
ator of water requirements. If you're thirsty, you're probably already dehydrated.

#2 Poor Liquid Choices: There is a major increase in the consumption of bad fluid choices like soda and other sugary drinks (including juice and poor quality meal replacement drinks). These drinks contain a high amount of sugar and are empty calories with no nutritional value-with the exception of meal replacement drinks.

#3 Excessive Caffeine intake:
Coffee has its benefits and tea (plain) is actually good for you. You may want to ask yourself, "what am I adding to your coffee and tea?" Sugar, cream, cocoa, artificial ingredients and whip cream-all adding more calories which can end up making that coffee drink 1/3 of your total daily calories. Just because you don't drink coffee doesn't mean you don't consume caffeine-caffeine can be found in teas, sodas, sports drinks, chocolate, medications, diet pills and more! Since caffeine acts like a stimulant, diuretic, and can be addictive, excessive consumption may be causing harm to your body.

#4 Alcohol:
Drinking too much alcohol and alcoholic mixed drinks has an impact on health bud did you know it can actually make you fat and bloated? Alcohol is easily converted to fat, has empty calories, can cause dehydration, and creates electrolyte imbalances. While your liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, it is unable to metabolize fat. Hangovers are an awful feeling and one of the reasons is that "you are dehydrated"! And when you begin to re-hydrate, you will actually gain water weight and become bloated. This is the body's natural protective mechanism and it will take a few days to resolve and get your body back to normal.

Factor #2: Quantity and Distribution of Calories

#5. Overeating:

Lets face facts, calories are our friend but not if we consume more than our body needs for health and energy-even good calories can make us fat! Daily caloric intake is calculated accord
ing to BMR, lean body mass, age, activity level, gender, and weight-management goals. Also you may need a higher caloric intake (over 2000 per day) than the average female if you are pregnant, an athlete, or have a particular medical condition that requires higher calories.

#6 Undereating:

Anything under 1,000 calories per day is considered starvation and will cause the body to go into survival mode-hold on to body fat not release it. Undereating will not only hinder the body's ability to get fit, but it will also jeopardize health.

#7 Unbalanced Nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats):

Any time you restrict or are missi
ng nutrients from one of the three main categories- protein, carbohydrates, and fat-you put your health & fitness at risk. That's why these nutrients are referred to as "essential." To lose fat (not necessarily weight) and gain muscle, you need to proper nutrition ratio. An excess of ANY nutrient (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) will make you fat.

#8 Not Eating Frequent Small Meals (throughout the day and timing them appropriately):

When we are trying to become or stay healthy & fit, we want our calories to be used rather than stored as fat. More calories are stored as fat when we eat too much at one sitting. When we eat small, healthy, and fit meals every three or four hours, we can keep our blood glucose level stable, thus avoiding highs and lows in blood sugar. A stable blood glucose level will also help us bur
n fat more efficiently throughout the day- it keeps your energy and metabolism revved up! Eating healthy meals early in the day enables the body and brain to function properly, and will guarantee that calories are used for their intended purpose, health and energy!

#9 Lack of Portion Control:

This is another enormous problem in the American diet. If you are eating until you feel overly full, you are adding to your weight problems. You can only assimilate so many nutrients at one time and the rest are stored as fat.

Factor #3: Quality and Purity of Calories

Calories are our friend, however, the wrong kind of calories will do harm (make women fat and sick-the opposite of fit and healthy)! Calories that are not wholesome and do not promote mental, spiritual, and physical well-being include: Calories that are fat, unhealthy, dirty, impure, old (dead) and non-kosher!

#10 Junk Fo
Junk food makes up about 50% or more of today's American diet, and many people lack an understanding of how its prevalence affects body fat and health issues. It is w
hat the name implies-JUNK-and it underlies many of our worst food choices, wreaks havoc on our health, and is a major factor in our obesity epidemic.

#11 Saturated Fat and Cholesterol:

When we consume too much saturated fat and cholesterol we are asking for trouble-both in weight gain and health. Saturated fats are found in sources like meat and meat products, dairy, and coconut oil and other tropical oils. These fats should be kept to a minimum-they are known to increase health risks by causing a rise in blood cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease. Cholesterol is found in certain animal foods (meat, poultry, shellfish, egg yolks, and dairy products) and in some man-made food products. The body makes its own cholesterol, so we really do not need to consume much in
our daily diet.

#12 Sugar, Sugar Derivatives, and Sugar Substitutes:

Dietary sugar is primarily comprised of refined sugar cane or sugar beet. Table sugar (granulated white sugar) is pure sucrose and is stripped of all vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, and trace elements during the refinement process. Beyond the sugar we add to our coffee or tea, we consume sugar in a myriad of packaged foods where its content is disguised by other names, like "high fructose corn syrup", which can cause weight gain and
health problems.

The long-term harmful effects of some artificial s
weeteners are documented. However, as new ones come on the market, their effects will remain unknown until the harm is already done. According to some researchers, nutritionists, and diabetes experts, artificial sweeteners may have carcinogenic properties and be linked to increased risk of tumors, seizure disorders, chronic headaches, and hyperactivity in children.

#13 Excessive Sodium (salt and sodium derivatives) Intake:

Sodium is a mineral that helps our nerves and muscles function properly, aids in the absorption of major nutrients, and helps maintain an adequate water and mineral balance. However, the typical American diet includes three to five times more sodium than we need. Excessive sodium can cause fluid retention in blood vessels, making our hearts work harder and resulting in high blood pressure. Excessive sodium can make us
look and feel bloated by causing us to retain water subcutaneously (i.e., under our skin) rather than in our muscles.

#14 Over Consumption of Dairy and Dairy Products:

We tend to drink too much dairy (milk) and eat too many foods and products that contain dairy (especially non-organic), and there are drawbacks to this habit. The lactose that is found in milk (and all dairy products) is a form of naturally occurring sugar, but many dairy products contain added sugar (for example, some yogurts = 36 grams of carbohydrates, and 31 of th
em are from sugar). Dairy and dairy products do have some protein, but they are high in fat unless you get low-or non-fat types (the two exceptions are cottage cheese and some yogurts). Unless you use organic dairy and dairy products, you risk the possibility of consuming a product from a cow that was injected with hormones and antibiotics. Also, consider the cow's feed (which affects its milk) as well as its health, treatment, and living conditions. The big push for milk is because of the calcium it contains, but you can select other healthy foods that are good sources of calcium.

#15 Tans Fats (hydrogenated oils):

Trans-fatty acids are found in small amounts
in various animal products, such as beef, pork, lamb, and the butterfat in butter and milk. Hydrogenated fats are chemically altered fats. Trans-fatty acids are also formed during hydrogenation. Both trans fats and hydrogenated fats raise total blood cholesterol; raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated fats) are found in fast food, fried foods, processed foods, and many man-made food products like junk food. The long-term health effects of trans-fatty acids are just now being realized, and they do contribute to an increase in body fat and water retention.

#16 White Flour (and other baking ingredients like starch, baking powder, and dextrin):

White flour encompasses a big part of the American diet. It is included not only in baked goods like bread, pancakes, waffles, cereal, cookies, donuts, pies, puddings, and cakes but also in many others like gravy, dips, and condiments. A diet of refined foods can leave many women malnourished, constipated, and vulnerable to chronic illnesses. Also many of these food prod
ucts are very high in calories, fat, sugar, preservatives and unneeded ingredients. We eat a great deal of white flour-and then wonder why we are sick and fat!

#17 Lack of fiber:

Proper intake of fiber is a major area of neglect in the American diet. We simply don't eat enough fiber, which is very im
portant in preventing and relieving constipation, lowering risk of diabetes and heart disease, fighting colon and intestinal problems, and helping eliminate toxins from our bodies. Eating foods high in fiber helps lower body fat as well as keeping us healthy. Fiber helps you feel full so you won't overeat. Most fibrous foods are low-glycemic, which keeps our blood glucose level steady, enabling our body to burn calories more efficiently-not store them as fat. We can also combine a high-fiber food with a food that is higher on the glycemic index, which will help alleviate a spike in our blood glucose level.

#18 Sauces, Salad Dressing, Dips and Condiments:

Many Americans don't appreciate real food (e.g. food in its natural fo
rm) and we have to put sauces and condiments on everything. While some sauces, salad dressings, dips, and condiments are okay to use, most are full of fat, flour, sugar, sodium, gluten, preservatives, and other harmful ingredients.

#19 Improper Food Prep:

The problem is that our recipes contain unneeded ingredients like sugar, salt, fat, and flour and are seasoned with products that are high in sugar, salt, fat, and flour. This means we diminish our wholesome meal and make it unhealthy and fattening. Meals do not have to be boring to taste delicious! There are so many fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices that add great flavor-and nutrients-to your favorite dishes and give you a whole new approach to cooking. Using fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices also means you can use less oil and other fattening and unhealthy products to prepare your meals.

#20 Unclean and Impure calories:

Instead of eating clean and pure calories we gravitate towards foods that are NOT natural, fresh, organic, and kosher (meats), which are full of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
We also consume way too many packaged, processed and man-made food products, which are full of preservatives, additives, artificial ingredients and unnecessary and harmful ingredients.

#21 Excessive use and Misuse of Supplements:

In this age of quick fixes, many women try to become healthier through mass
ive intake of supplements and so-called "fat burners" (via drinks, bars, and pills), but there is no magic pill, drink, or bar that will ensure good health, weight loss, or a long life. Keep in mind; the consumption of supplements in excess can cause health issues.

Factor #4: Restrictive and Unbalanced Dieting

We are bombarded with so many quick-fix solutions to our obesity epidemic, but do we really know the cost? We spend $58 billion a year on weight-loss products-but do we grasp their harmful effects on our bodies, minds, and moods?

#22 Quick-Fix Diet Programs:
Many of the diet programs marketed today are basically gimmicks full of false promises, magic potions, and misleading propaganda. Most of these counter-productive systems result in poor health, dehydration, loss of LBM (lean body mass), decrease in energ
y, an increase in body fat, and chronic yo-yo dieting that can be quite dangerous. Losing weight and gaining health requires a lifestyle change of the proper diet and exercise regimen.

#23 Diet Pills, Potion and Products:

The use of diet pills may help you lose weight initially, but once you get off them the weight will return and you will end up heavier than before. Also, diet pills have short-term side effects and may lead to medical problems. As far as magic potions and products like creams and gadgets-they don't work!

Factor #5: Exercise

#24 Lack of Exercise / Inactivity:

Lack of exercise is a major factor in women's health problems and is a main reason why women "get fat" in the first place. We are a "remote-control" country where most American's lack physical activity and are frequently either distracted or too lazy to exercise.

#25 Exercise Obsession (at any cost):

Since we are society of extremes, we seem to think "more is better" even when it comes to exercise. You might want to think again! You can actually over train
, which can lower your immune system, lead to chronic soreness, exhaustion, lethargy, and dehydration. It will decrease your performance and delay your recovery from exercise. Overtraining can also have an impact psychologically, by reducing your ability to concentrate; affecting your energy level and motivation; making you irritable; causing anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia! And any use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, "body-altering" drugs, whether synthetic or natural, are dangerous and not worth it!

#26 Lack of Sleep:

Sleep deprivation can cause blurry vision, depression, dizziness, irritability, heart disease, hypertension, and much more. Lack of sleep also can actually cause you to gain weight because it not only affects your energy level but being sleep deprived can have a negative impact on hormones and metabolism.

#27 Stress:

Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise b
lood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Since stress can cause a myriad of health issues, it hinders your desire to eat right and exercise. Stress can also lead to weight gain by altering metabolism, cravings, and blood sugar. It can cause emotional eating, poor food choices and laziness!

With only six diet allies against 27 "diet villains", it may seem like we are outnumbered! But don't underestimate the power each of us have "within"! When we combine our own "will power" with these six diet allies: water, proper diet (nutrition), calories (food), supplements (in moderation), exercise, sleep (rest) and sun, we CAN win the battle for our health and fitness-attain a lean, fit, healthy, and more functional body-for life

To learn more about 18 of these diet villains--check out
and you can also find period "diet villain" ALERTS in my blog Notes from Super Diva!


Shauna Weiss said...

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Julong said...

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Cascia said...

That was a very interesting and informative article! There is so much information on diet and nutrition out there. Sometimes it gets overwhelming. Your article explained everything in great detail! Keep up the great work!