May 27, 2009

What You Are Drinking Can Make or Break Your Diet!

MY DIVA DIET has comprised Five Factors Affecting Body Fat and Health and Factor # 1 is your liquid consumption. There are 8 main categories within this factor to be aware of if you are interested in losing weight and being healthy.

#1. 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.

* Notes
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 indicator of water requirements. If you’re thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated.
* Water Rules
  • Supply your body with enough water each day and you will reap the rewards of health, vitality, energy, great skin, appetite control, reduced fat and bloating, and much more.
  • Drink an average of eight to ten cups of water or more each day (depending on your body weight).
  • You may need more water if you are exercising, drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks, taking medications, and/or drinking alcohol.
  • You will get some water from your consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and some liquids you consume each day.
  • It’s best to drink room-temperature water—iced water can delay digestion if consumed with a meal.
* FYI’s
  • Drinking bottled water is probably better than drinking tap water, unless you do enough research to be confident that your tap water is being properly treated and is safe.
  • Another option is a tap-water filtering system, which is much less expensive than bottled water.
#2. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
If you think that just because you don’t drink coffee or you drink decaf that you aren’t consuming any caffeine, think again. Under current federal regulations a product labeled “decaffeinated” can still contain 2.5% of the original amount of caffeine, and caffeine is also found in tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, candy, medications, and diet pills.

* Notes
  • Coffee itself is not the problem so much as is consuming too much caffeine.
  • Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can cause your heart to pump faster and your breathing to quicken.
  • Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which increases the body’s need for more water.
  • Caffeine is also a drug that can be addictive, so people who consume caffeine every day will usually need to continue to consume the same amount of caffeine just to feel normal.
* Coffee and Other Caffeinated Drink Rules
  • Coffee is okay in moderation, especially without sugar and cream.
  • A little honey or agave nectar is good for sweetening coffee, as is low-fat milk because of its lactose (milk sugar) content.
  • Skip dry creamers—they contain hydrogenated oil as well as sugar and other unwholesome ingredients—try a little low-fat soy milk or rice milk instead.
  • Watch out for those fancy coffee drinks—they are full of fat and sugar.
  • Tea is a good substitute for coffee—it’s low in caffeine and has other beneficial qualities.
  • Avoid soda—not just because of the caffeine but for other reasons as well (see Soda, #4).
  • Be cautious of so-called “energy drinks”, as they usually contain high amounts of caffeine and other harmful ingredients.
  • Chocolate is okay on occasion, but choose dark chocolate instead of milk or white.
  • Be aware of caffeine in medications you are taking.
  • Stay away from diet pills!
#3. Tea

After water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, offering many health benefits if you skip the cream and sugar. The average amount of caffeine in tea is 40 milligrams per cup, compared to coffee, which contains around 100 milligrams per cup.

* Notes
  • Teas such as green, black, and red contain polyphenols, which are rich in antioxidants that help protect our bodies from free radical damage and may reduce the risk of gastric, esophageal, and skin cancers.
  • Polyphenols also help prevent blood clotting, lower cholesterol levels, and may lower the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Herbal teas are infusions made with herbs, flowers, spices, roots. and other plant parts but do not have the same health-promoting properties as green, red, and black teas.
  • Herbal teas are consumed for their physical or medicinal effects, especially for their digestive, immunity, cleansing, relaxant, and wellness properties.
* Tea Rules
  • Drink a couple of cups of tea daily to help boost your water intake and add other health benefits. With such a wide variety of flavors you’re bound to find one or more you love.
  • Don’t drink grocery store or convenience store bottled teas that aren’t 100% tea. These teas usually contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other sugar derivatives, all of which are definite no-no’s.
  • Try pre-made unsweetened Tejava tea (, found at Trader Joe’s.
  • Some coffee bistros offer a variety of tea choices—just make sure they are plain teas—no sugar, cream, artificial sweeteners, etc..
#4. Soda

Americans are drinking more soda today than ever before—soft drinks account for more than 25% of all drinks consumed.

* Notes
  • Drinking soda contributes to four major health issues: obesity, tooth decay, weakened bones, and caffeine dependence.
  • Soda and other soft drinks are not healthy for you, even when they are labeled “decaffeinated” or “diet.”
* Soda Rule
  • MY DIVA DIET recommends avoiding soda because its lack of nutritional value, adverse health effects, addictive quality, and contribution to weight gain.
* FYI’s
  • If you’ve analyzed one soda, you’ve analyzed most of them.
  • Regular sodas are made up of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid or phosphoric acid, and other natural flavors.
  • Many diet sodas contain carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid, and caffeine.
#5. Other drinks (sports drinks, powdered soft drinks, juice boxes, and other sugary drinks)
Sports drinks are made up of water, sugar, and maybe a few vitamins. Most juices and drinks labeled “juice” are mainly water, sugar, and a splash of juice.

* Notes
  • Powdered soft drinks and juice boxes are packed with either sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Most, if not all, of these drinks are primarily water and sugar (high fructose corn syrup, sucrose syrup, and glucose-fructose syrup), plus other ingredients.
  • Just like soda, the drinks in this category labeled “diet” contain artificially made sweeteners.
  • These are unnecessary calories and potentially harmful ingredients and chemicals added to your daily diet.
  • Sugar is easily converted into body fat.
  • If you are an athlete or if you exercise vigorously, then sports drinks may be of use to you if they have been properly evaluated and are being monitored.
* Other Drink Rules
  • Sports drinks, powdered soft drinks, juice boxes, and other sugary drinks are not recommended on MY DIva DIeT.
  • Sports drinks and vitamin waters may be the exception, as some contain vitamins and minerals.
  • Water remains the best fluid to put in your body.
  • If you need flavor in your water, try adding fresh fruit like lemon, strawberries, or pineapple.
#6. Juice (fruit and vegetable): fresh vs. concentrated
Drinking juice (unless it is fresh and from real fruits and vegetables in their natural form) is another way we unknowingly add excessive calories to our diet.

* Notes
Most commercial juices:
  • Contain large amounts of sugar
  • Contain very little of the fruit or vegetable they are supposedly derived from
  • Contain little, if any, nutritional value
  • Are very high in calories and low in fiber—the opposite of most fruits and vegetables in their natural complete states
Fruit and vegetable juices are not as beneficial as whole fruits and vegetables because:
  • The entire fruit or vegetable is not used. The outer layers of fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients, and these are usually not used in juicing.
  • In order to make one cup of a fruit or vegetable juice, you probably have to use at least five to ten pieces of that particular fruit or vegetable. This means five or more times the total calories.
* Juice Rules
  • The only way fruit and vegetable juices are of any benefit is if they are fresh and all parts (including the skin when possible) are used. You can ensure this by using a proper juicer (Jack LaLanne makes a very good one).
  • If you do buy juice, always read the labels and look for 100% juice, not juice from concentrate.
  • Fresh juice without preservatives usually has a short shelf life—check expiration dates.
  • Try plain cranberry juice diluted in water!
#7. Meal replacement drinks (protein shakes, smoothies, and green drinks)
In today’s society we gravitate toward anything that is quick and easy, and this also holds true for replacing healthful meals with quick drinks.

* Notes
  • The billion-dollar fitness industry makes its money off quick-fix scams and false promises. Next time you pick up a so-called “diet shake,” “protein shake,” “energy drink,” or “vegetable drink,” take a look at the ingredients.
  • Most of these drinks (if they are pre-made) contain large amounts of sugar as well as preservatives and additives.
  • The protein used is questionable, as are some of the claims being made.
* Meal Replacement Drink Rules
  • Meal replacement drinks can be an acceptable way to get nutrients on the run.
  • If they are of good quality, these types of drinks are okay to use as a meal, especially if you are pressed for time. They are much better solutions than skipping a meal or grabbing a high-fat donut or muffin.
  • Meal replacement drinks can also be used as supplements to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need each day for optimal health & fitness.
  • The best advice in this area is to know what is in a pre-made protein shake, smoothie, or green (or other vegetable) drink.
  • Best of all, you can make these drinks yourself using real foods without added ingredients.
  • When making your own protein shake, smoothie, or green drink at home, use real juice, fruits, nuts, flaxseed, bran, yogurt, etc.
  • For protein shakes, use a protein powder blend that has low amounts of sugar and no additives. There are many good ones to choose from , and they are a good way to ensure you get enough protein without sacrificing quality.
  • Many health food stores, fitness centers, and other places include these drinks on their menus—just ask questions.
  • Try your local juice bar, like Jamba Juice (
* FYI’s
Here are some different types of protein powders and basic information about each:
  • Whey protein is the most commonly used type of protein. It contains high levels of essential amino acids.
  • Casein protein powder is the richest in glutamine, an amino acid that aids in recovery.
  • Egg white protein is a lactose- and dairy-free protein.
  • Soy protein contains all the amino acids and is a good alternative for vegetarians (just don't consume too much-not good).
  • Hemp protein contains essential amino acids and is another good vegetarian alternative.
Green and other vegetable drinks are a great way to supplement our diets because it is often difficult to eat all the nutrients we need each day, especially when it comes to vegetables. Some green drinks are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some even contain amino acids, herbs, probiotics, enzymes, and fiber. You just have to make sure of the quality and watch the ingredients.
Here are some excellent products for making a quick and healthful green drink:====================
#8. Alcohol

The behavioral problems that can result from alcohol use and abuse are well documented. However, alcohol consumption also has a direct impact on your health as well as your body-fat level.

* Notes
  • Alcohol has short-term effects on health and body fat.
  • 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.
  • Alcohol has more severe long-term effects on health and body fat.
  • Excessive alcohol use can result in dependency, nutrition deficiency (mainly B-complex and iron), liver dysfunction, brain cell damage, increased cancer risk, increased heart disease risk, digestive system dysfunction, reproductive problems, and mental health effects (like depression).
* Alcohol Rules
  • If you are serious about losing fat and upgrading your health, alcohol has to be off limits during the Diva Reduction Phase of MY DIVA DIET.
  • When you are in the Diva Maintenance Phase, you can have alcohol in moderation, but you will need to monitor it so that the fat does not come back and your health won’t suffer.
MY DIVA DIET WAY: The Five Factors Fixed
Factor #1: Monitor liquid consumption.
Consume plenty of water each day and proper amounts of other liquids
Factor #2: Calculate the quantity and distribution of calories.
Eat according to your metabolism, goals, and activity level.
Factor #3: Determine the quality and purity of calories.
Eat pure and wholesome foods.
Factor #4: Eliminate restrictive and unbalanced dieting forever.
Factor #5: Introduce a balanced exercise regimen.

"What you are drinking can make or break your diet! It truly affects your body fat and health."

Liquid Intake to Lose Weight and Be Healthy
  • Water should be consumed all day every day.
  • In order to avoid adding too many extra calories to your day, keep your liquid consumption to tea and coffee (plain, which has no calories).
  • Milk (whether dairy, soy or rice) does contain calories, so keep these items to a minimum.
  • Fresh juice (fruit or vegetable) and meal replacement drinks have quite a few calories. Monitor these so your daily totals won’t go too high.
  • Lastly, if you decide to keep drinking liquids that are not conducive to getting lean and healthy—like high-fat, high-sugar coffees and teas, soda (diet or not), sugary drinks, non-fresh juice, poor-quality meal replacement drinks, and alcohol—you can expect poor results.

MY DIVA DIET: A Woman's Last Diet Book (copyright, 2007)

May 23, 2009

The "I don't have time to workout" Workout!

Americans’ attitudes toward exercise reflect other values in our culture today: we have grown lazy and passive, expecting rewards to come to us without effort and hoping that others will do for us what we can and should do for ourselves. In terms of physical activity, the result is that our health & fitness levels have fallen dramatically.

* Notes
  • The wide-ranging health benefits of regular exercise include:
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity
  • Helping keep joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible
  • Helping increase metabolism, energy, and endurance
  • Reducing some of the effects of aging
  • Contributing to mental well-being (including alleviating depression, stress, and anxiety) and ensuring better sleep.
  • A properly designed and executed exercise program can improve or protect posture, help keep bones and muscles stronger, and maintain joints, tendons, and ligaments injury-free.
  • Exercise can help improve your skin and enable your internal organs to function better.
  • Exercise helps you lose body fat by:
  • Burning calories when you are exercising and increasing your metabolism for many hours afterward
  • Increasing your lean body mass, which:
  1. Equals a higher sustained metabolic rate
  2. Leads to a firmer, more sculptured physique
  3. Exercise makes you healthier, feel better, look younger and more alive—it’s sexy!

* Exercise Rules
  • There is only one main exercise rule when your goal is to lose fat and gain health: exercise is mandatory. So find something active you enjoy doing and make it part of your life right now.
  • Exercise is crucial for fat loss and good health. It is also essential for maintaining low body fat and a fit physique. However, the frequency, duration, and intensity of your exercise will vary depending on your goals and other circumstances.
  • Don’t be extreme with your exercise program.
  • An exercise program should consist of the six components shown in the following chart. Each workout should fit your age, current fitness level, and any medical or physical limitations you may have. Your goals, lifestyle, exercise interests, and commitment level should also be taken into consideration when your exercise program is designed.

is the "fountain of youth"!

“An effective exercise program will assure that you function properly in everyday activities. You may even become a black belt at age 45, run a marathon at age 50, or join a softball team at age 60!”

One of the most common "excuses" I get as a fitness expert, and one that I have used myself, is "I don't have time to workout". That may be a legitimate excuse from time to time, but shouldn't be one that keeps you from your best! Let's make sure you take it out of your negative thinking altogether! Exercise doesn't have to be expensive, complicated, or so time consuming that you avoid it all together! In fact, you may be overwhelmed with these 6 components, but I can assure you that you CAN fit these into a 60 minute workout program that is very efficient and effective. Time to Train!

“Here is some inexpensive gear to get you started
on a home exercise program: a Swiss ball,
a foam roller, dumbbells, and exercise bands.”
Now that you have your gear and you are healthy enough for an exercise program (or you know your limitations), you can do a very efficient and effective workout in less than one hour! All you have to do is start with a 20 minute power walk. Now that you are warmed up, do a 25 minute strength training workout with your Swiss ball, dumbbells and bands. Make sure you incorporate all body parts, and include functional training, core and balance training, and corrective exercises to ensure your body stays in balance. Lastly add your 15 minutes of flexibility training covering all body parts, while paying special attention to your weak areas. Make sure you use your foam roller–this is great for spine mobilization!

You can even get on your home treadmill or lifecycle and do a circuit training type workout–saves you more time!
You can switch your power walk to a bike ride, swim, or jog!

I am sure you know how to power walk, so the only thing you may need to do is learn exercises using this gear and the proper form in executing the exercises. You may consider hiring a fitness professional and they can help personalize your workout to meet goals, and will make sure it is adequate to include your medical and fitness limitations.

"I don't think there is anything I cannot do in athletics if someone showed me how."-- Jacki Joyner-Kersee
EXCERPT from MY DIVA DIET: A Woman's Last Diet Book (copyright 2007)

May 17, 2009

Diva Pyramids for Weight Loss and Better Health!

Phase One: Diva Reduction—For Ten Weeks
(click here to enlarge Diva Reduction Pyramid)

Phase One—Diva Reduction of the MY DIVA DIET program is based on 1,200 to 1,300 calories a day for ten weeks. You may start with three to six weeks if you choose.

The targeted nutrient ratio for Phase One—Diva Reduction is:
  • 35% protein/45% carbohydrates/20% fat (those of you who want to be extra-lean Divas can reduce fat intake to 15%).
So, for a 1,300-calorie day, you would eat approximately 113 grams of protein/150 grams of carbs/28 grams of fat.

Phase One—Diva Reduction is created as “close to ideal” for dieting. If we adhered to all the dietary rules, we would be a vision of perfection with 13% body fat, lacking many of the common health issues we face today. But we are not perfect; we do not live in an ideal world. My Diva DieT takes this into account and also reminds you that some fat on our bodies is not only healthy, but attractive.

Paw Caloric intake Guide
In the Diva Reduction Phase, it’s important to calculate your daily caloric intake so you know how many calories you are consuming each day and how to gauge your daily caloric intake for fat reduction.

Here are some examples:
  • If you are consuming 2,000 calories a day, you may only need to drop to between 1,400 and 1,600 per day to reach your goal.
  • If you’ve just come off a restrictive- or starvation- diet plan (1,000 calories per day or less), you may need to slowly build up your daily calories, starting with 1,000 and slowly moving up into the 1,200 to 1,300 range.
  • If you exercise regularly or you are an athlete, you may need more than 1,300 calories; even if you are trying to lose fat.

Phase Two: Diva Maintenance—For Life
(click here to enlarge Diva Maintenance Pyramid)

The second phase of the MY DIVA DIET program is Phase Two—Diva Maintenance.

This phase is to make sure you preserves what you have accomplished in the Diva
Reduction Phase. You’ll go on doing what you know is right, but you’ll also have more leeway to deviate from the strict plan of Phase One. Maintenance is a lifestyle. We can help you with more information (and menu plans that go beyond PART FIVE) via our website at

In Phase Two—Diva Maintenance you can eat more—about 1,400 to 1,600 calories per day, depending on your activity level (for women who are very active, daily calories may increase as high as 2,000 per day).

Some of you may be more comfortable staying at 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day (as
in the Diva Reduction Phase). That’s fine, but never go lower than that. Usually what happens anyway is that one day we may consume 1,200 calories and the next 1,600, and then the following day 1,300. That is why it’s always best to work within a range of calories and not get locked into a single number.

During the Diva Maintenance Phase, assuming 1,600 calories per day, if you divide
your daily calories by four, you should consume about 400 calories per meal. The approximate targeted nutrient ratio is:
  • 20 to 35% protein/45 to 65% carbohydrates/20 to 30% fat (these may vary and fluctuate)

May 10, 2009

Why Restrictive and Unbalanced Diets Don't Work

PART FOUR of Why Do American Women Get Fat? What You Can Do About It: Seven-Part Series only on EZINE and here at MY DIVA DIET "Tools for Success"

Why Restrictive and Unbalanced Diets Don't Work - How They Contribute to Weight Gain and Poor Health

There is no quick fix for fat loss, optimal health, and longevity. But, the good news is that there is a way, and I can help you down that path. I am not interested in attacking any particular product or program by name. However, I do want to expose the truth about the $58 billion Diet Industry (and rising). Many of the programs and
products marketed today are basically gimmicks full of false promises, magic potions, and misleading propaganda. Most of these counter-productive systems result in yo-yo dieting and can be quite dangerous. My hope is that the next time another quick-fix diet system (or product) surfaces, you will know better than to believe the hype, or at least that you'll think twice before you waste your time, money, health, and sanity. In fact, no sensible diet program will ever compromise your physical or mental health for the sake of looking good!

Commonly used formulas for weight-loss diets:

Liquid Diets
  • Most are low-calorie diets
  • Less than 1000 daily calories translates to starvation
  • Do you plan on living only on liquids for the rest of your life?
Low-Calorie Diets
  • Any diet of less than 1000 daily calories will slow your metabolism and put you at a nutritional risk that could lead to health problems
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Decrease in water weight, not necessarily fat
High-protein, Low-carbohydrate, High-fat Diets
  • Too much protein can put undue stress on your kidneys and other internal organs which could lead to health problems
  • High amounts of calories from protein, if not used for their intended purpose, can convert to body fat
  • Fat burns in the flame of a carbohydrate-thus you need carbohydrates to help metabolize fat
  • Carbohydrates are needed for energy and exercise
  • Carbohydrates are necessary for brain function-without them you will inhibit your ability to concentrate, calculate, and coordinate, and your memory and moods will be affected
  • High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets can put you into a state of ketosis, which is not healthy and can lead to loss of lean body mass
  • Carbohydrates provide fiber, whereas fats and animal protein contain no fiber
  • Low-carbohydrate diets often result in water loss, not fat loss
  • High-fat intake converts easily to body fat and is unhealthy
Low-Protein, High-Carbohydrate, No-Fat Diets
  • Protein is necessary for every cell in the body so a lack of protein can cause deficiencies and health problems
  • Protein is needed for muscle growth, maintenance, and repair
  • Excess carbohydrates can convert to body fat
  • High carbohydrates can cause bloat and puffiness
  • It is impossible to avoid dietary fats-fat is found in many foods naturally
  • Some fat is necessary for health and vitality-too little fat can cause a deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids
One Meal per Day Diet
  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day is important for utilizing calories more efficiently and creating a constant energy level; both are important in the overall fat-loss and better health equation
  • Eating one meal (or two) per day does not generate a steady blood glucose level
  • Eating one meal per day promotes over-eating especially if that one meal is eaten at night-starving all day causes you to eat everything in sight
  • Eating one meal per day promotes bad food choices because excessive hunger will cause you to be less selective with your food choices
One Type of Food Diet
  • Too much of one type of food causes nutritional imbalances and deficiencies which can lead to health issues both short- and long-term
  • All-fruit diets result in water-weight loss, not fat loss
  • This type of diet can eventually lead to muscle loss, which is directly linked to your metabolism. Since more lean-body mass means a more active metabolic rate, you will lose fat more quickly by maintaining and/or increasing your LBM.
Processed, Packaged, and Man-Made Food Diet
  • Nutritional value is reduced or eliminated when foods are altered from their natural state
  • When you cut calories, you lose weight. However, if you only eat packaged, processed, and man-made foods, your weight-loss potential will be limited by food quality, and your health may be compromised
  • Our bodies cannot properly metabolize most additives and preservatives
  • Our goal is to lose fat, gain health, function and feel better, and live longer. Consuming unnatural foods is detrimental to this goal.
Diet Supplements, Diet Pills, Potions, and Products
  • In this age of quick fixes, many women try to become healthier and leaner through massive 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. 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!
One Part of the Equation Diet
  • Diet programs that tell you to JUST eat less, or eat better, or eat low glycemic foods, or eat only raw foods, or eat six meals per day, or just cut the sugar, or just exercise, etc. may be good ideas and very helpful to your goals of fat loss and better health- but they don't give you the complete dieting picture.
  • Providing only part of the diet equation is like presenting a puzzle with some of the pieces missing-will you ever complete the entire picture? NO!
This is the bottom line on restrictive and unbalanced dieting, aka quick-fix diets.

#1 - Poor Health

Since most quick-fix diets restrict calories or do not allocate the proper nutrient ratio (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), and even completely eliminate important vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they put you at a nutritional risk. This sets the stage for a number of health problems during your diet, in the immediate future, and further down the line.

#2 - Dehydration

Some quick-fix diets promote low-carbohydrate intake. However, most of the weight lost in this manner consists only of glycogen and water. Since the human body is over 60% water, this kind of diet may lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause fatigue, crankiness, stiff
joints, headaches, nausea, aches, electrolyte imbalances, and much more. Severe dehydration can cause seizures, coma, or even death. The other problem with water-weight loss is that women are deceived into believing that they're losing fat. In reality, once carbohydrate intake resumes (even the good carbs) and the water weight is restored, women mistakenly believe they've regained all the "fat" they had lost on their diet programs.

#3 - LBM Reduction

Reduction in muscle mass is a common result of any type of low-calorie, low- carbohydrate, or starvation program. In fact, as muscle mass is lost, metabolism slows. A daily intake of less than 1000 calories is considered starvation, and the human body will automatically try to salvage body fat just for survival.

#4 - Decrease in Energy

When calories are restricted, especially carbohydrates, the body's main source of energy is limited. This energy is needed for the body and the brain to function properly. Otherwise, you
'll begin to feel tired, cranky, and mentally slow. You also will not have the energy you need to be active and exercise. Calories do so much for your body-they provide energy, life, vitality, and so much more-why would you give that up?

#5 - Body Fat increases
  • Any type of restrictive or unbalanced diet is a recipe for failure. The hype behind quick-fix diets is often unsubstantiated-they are based on gimmicks and full of false promises.
  • Since most quick-fix diet programs offer ways to lose weight fast with no regard for health and safety, the results will always be questionable.
  • After trying a quick-fix diet program, any attempt to resume normal, proper eating patterns often causes us to regain more weight than we lost.
  • Regaining weight creates desperation, which often causes us to seek another quick fix. This process eventually leads to chronic yo-yo dieting, which is a vicious, unhealthy, frustrating, expensive, and dangerous cycle.
More good news: There is a rise in sound (proper) diet programs that will help you lose weight and gain health. There are now widely accepted, well-researched nutritional principles found in most well respected, leading diet programs, ones that do not offer quick-fix solutions that are found in so-called "fad diets". Just make sure you know which diets offer hope or hype! Most fitness experts, nutritionists, diet gurus, and well-informed doctors agree that we should consume clean and wholesome foods and liquids to attain (and maintain) low body fat and vibrant health. We should eliminate junk food, fast food, fried food, and highly processed food. The real debate begins over how many calories we should consume each day and the nutrient ratio. The other debate exists over whether it is better to be a vegetarian or vegan - or not! Most also agree that fat loss is where it's at, not just weight loss, that real and lasting weight-loss results don't happen over night, and getting fit is best accomplished when you include exercise. According the Web MD, "proven weight-management strategies include a balanced diet with reduced calories with a regular exercise regimen." The key to low body fat, vibrant health, and longevity is a lifestyle of the PROPER DIET and exercise!

Why Do American Women Get Fat? What You Can Do About It: Seven-Part Series will continue with PART FIVE -- "The Proper Diet- Good Foods for Low Body Fat, Vibrant Health, and a Longevity!

Why Do American Women Get Fat? What You Can Do About It: Seven-Part Series

PART ONE "Why Do American Women Get Fat? - Addressing the Root Causes of High Body Fat and Poor Health"

PART TWO "Why Do American Women Get Fat? What You Can Do About it - Six Steps!"

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

I am the creator and author of the fat-loss diet book just for women, MY DIVA DIET: A Woman's Last Diet Book . I am the the mother of two awesome daughters, an ACE Certified Fitness Trainer, and I've been in the fitness industry since 1980. I am also a retired bodybuilder and fitness competitor wining titles such as Ms. Fitness San Diego 1993, Ms. Fitness USA finalist 1990, Ms. San Luis O
bispo 1989, along with promotional appearances for Thane Fitness Co., KESQ TV-3 Midday Show, Joe Weider's Muscle and Fitness, and an American Gladiators contestant in 1990. I strive to help women (and young girls) lose weight the safe, healthy and life-long way!

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!