May 19, 2010

What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Three: Coffee

Our “beverage expedition” takes you as far back as 800 A.D. and brings us up to 21st century coffee — Starbucks.

As you probably know, coffee beans come from the coffee tree, which is actually a beautiful tropical evergreen shrub. What makes coffee so interesting, other than its popularity and scrutiny, is its origin.

Coffee dates as far back as 800 A.D. in Africa and National Geographic tells the "goat coffee" story. It all started with an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi, who “noticed his herd dancing from one coffee shrub to another, grazing on the cherry-red berries containing the beans. He copped a few himself and was soon frolicking with his flock.” It turns out that a monk “witnessed Kaldi’s goatly gambol,” so the monk plucked berries for his brothers and that night they were “uncannily alert to divine inspiration.”

History tells us that coffee as we know it today kicked off in Arabia, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. By the 13th century Muslims were drinking coffee religiously. Seemingly, "the bean broth drove dervishes into orbit, kept worshippers awake, and splashed over into secular life."

For years, coffee has been under scrutiny, propelling much confusion. Is coffee good or bad for you? A featured article by WebMD says that coffee could lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and colon cancer. There's also some evidence that coffee may help manage asthma, stop a headache, boost mood, and prevent cavities. Newsmax Health adds a few more “diseases coffee can benefit,” like dementia, liver disease, heart disease, gout as well as prostate and breast cancers.

While researchers believe it's the antioxidants (polyphenols or flavonoids) and possibly the hundreds of other compounds found in coffee that are responsible for coffee's health benefits, scientists are cautionary, adding the usual "more research is needed" line. Tomas DePaulis PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world, summarizes it this way: "Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful," and "for most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good."

Good news for us coffee lovers! So, when does coffee become bad? When it is your only beverage choice of the day, you don’t drink enough water, and/or consume excessive amounts of caffeine. While coffee does contain caffeine, it is not the only place you will find it –– caffeine is in tea, soda, energy drinks (an 8 oz. Red Bull has 80 milligrams of caffeine), candy and other food items as well as medications and so-called diet pills, which contain anywhere from 200 to 414 milligrams of caffeine.

As I stated in the intro of this "beverage expedition," coffee is not the problem so much as consuming too much caffeine. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater –– in this case the coffee out with the liquid consumption. Check to see what other sources may be contributing to your overall caffeine use. And caffeine is not all bad either; it actually has positive effects on physical performance, including sports and exercise routines.

Now that I have your attention, caffeine –– a central nervous system stimulant and diuretic –– exists naturally in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of more than 60 plants, including tea leaves, kola nuts, coffee, and cocoa beans. It can also be produced synthetically and used as an additive in food products. While research on the health effects of caffeine is ongoing, we do know that excessive caffeine intake can lead to a fast heart rate, excessive urination, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, anxiety, depression, tremors, and difficulty sleeping.

Another way many of you turn your "cup of java" from good to bad is when you add sugar and cream or buy pre-made coffee drinks, which adds extra calories and fat to your diet and eventually unwanted weight to your body. The big tip here: before you take that trip to your local Starbucks or coffee shop and order everything on the beverage menu, take a look at the caloric content. That grande caffé mocha has 330 calories, 33 grams of sugar, a whopping 15 grams of fat, and 175 mg caffeine, while the same size low-fat caffé latte has 190 calories, 17 grams of sugar, 7 grams of fat, and 150 mg caffeine. On the other hand, a 16-oz plain cup of coffee has 5 calories, zero sugar, zero fat, and 330 mg of caffeine.

For those of you who are not among the 54 percent of Americans who drink coffee –– not “your cup of tea” –– our next beverage stop is TEA, one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world, offering many health and fitness benefits! Maybe we'll see some more goats –– they are so cute –– or off to another amazing part of the world grasping a tiny glimpse of another intriguing culture. China?

What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Three: Coffee
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published on Blogcritics, May 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

May 17, 2010

The Flex Belt Nutrition Center Reviews MY DIVA DIET

The Flex Belt Nutrition Center: Our resources to help you achieve your fitness and weight-loss goals. Review of MY DIVA DIET: A Woman's Last Diet Book

Review Summary
My Diva Diet is self hailed as a woman’s last diet book. The reason is that it is written and designed by a woman to address the specific needs of the seemingly lifelong weight challenge women face. The book explains that in America, at least, there is an epidemic with lack of self confidence relating to image and weight. A small percentage of women are reportedly unlocking the key inside them that allows them to break through perceived inadequacies, gaining mastery over their fears. Once this is accomplished, life health and fitness can become a priority, according to the author. Eating right, exercise and mental clarity all reportedly contribute significantly to how women can finally be free, lose weight and change their lives forever.

First of all, My Diva Diet is not billed as a diet at all, nor is it designed to be any kind of quick fix. It is written to address numerous reasons why women are overweight and to provide guided remedies that work to change expectations and behaviors. These are skills needed to successfully alter your life and future, ensuring weight loss and equipping you with confidence moving forward. The book includes an interactive workbook section, as well nutrition and meal planning tools. My Diva Diet allows you to evaluate your weight and lean body mass in order to determine percentage of body fat. After this step, the book guides you along the healthy scheduled fat loss, as the book calls it. Total weight loss can range from 10 to 50 pounds with the plan, according to the author. Monitoring calories and other meal components on a daily basis, along with regular exercise, are vital parts of the program. Finally, My Diva Diet is structured in two phases: the first phase of Diva Reduction (losing weight) and the second of Diva Maintenance.

Online reviews of My Diva Diet often mention that the website is fun and functional. Animation introduces the program and the cartoon Diva Host. A number of detail tabs explain different elements of the plan, products available and key players in the company.

At the time of this review, My Diva Diet is available in a number of online and retail stores for about $10.

Final Facts
According to many reports on My Diva Diet, the book is specific about what is necessary to change your lifestyle for good. The best remedy for losing weight and achieving long term success is said to be learning new ways to eat and exercise. As many experts state, there are just no easy fixes to lasting weight reduction. This book and program take this into account and work to provide sound and reliable solutions to weight issues.

Wow, my thanks to those at The Flex Belt!

My Diva Diet comes in two ways:
The 426-page Workbook Format
And the 236-page Compact Version

For more details check out our website @

Exercise book coming soon...

May 4, 2010

What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Two: Water

Water, the "fountain of wellness," is our first STOP on this "beverage expedition!”

Are you thirsty?
If you’re thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. Thirst cannot always be relied on as the best indicator of water requirements. While most people won’t experience severe dehydration, which requires medical attention, many of you may be running on empty. Mild dehydration signs and symptoms include excessive thirst, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, muscle weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness as well as little or no urination.

What color is your urine?
One of the ways you can tell whether or not you are dehydrated is to monitor the frequency and take a "peek" at the color of your urine. In fact, changes in urine –– its color, odor, and consistency –– can provide important clues about the health status of your body. Web MD states, "urine color normally varies from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on its concentration." Reduced urine output with a dark yellow color could mean you are dehydrated. Not the "bright neon yellow" color you'll see if you take supplements and observe your body excreting excess water-soluble vitamins (the Vitamin B family in particular).

Health and Water
Water, the "fountain of life and wellness," is our first STOP on this "beverage expedition,” –– covering nine liquid categories –– and should be your number one liquid choice each day, all day. As I mentioned in Part One, water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Water is critical to good health and according to the Mayo Clinic, "nearly all of your major systems in your body depend on water." Water...
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Moistens tissues
  • Lubricates joints
  • Protects body organs and tissues
  • Lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
  • Helps prevent constipation
  • Helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells

Water Retention and Weight Gain
Water retention, aka edema, can be the result of high salt intake, medications, hormones, serious medical conditions, and more. Most of the time, lack of water intake, electrolyte imbalances (sodium, potassium, calcium), or an increase in glycogen storage are the culprits and the reason you may feel and look bloated.

You may be aware that there is a huge difference between weight loss and fat loss, and understanding how water retention plays into the overall picture is important, especially for those of you who are monitoring how much you weigh. In a given day as well as day to day, your weight can fluctuate anywhere between two and five-plus pounds. Don't despair; it may just be water weight. Fat pounds –– losing and gaining –– take much longer than a day or two.

Low-Carb Weight Loss Deception
For those of you who have attempted a low- or no- carb diet plan, you'll initially lose weight all right, however, it wont be fat. This is due to the fact that carbs that are not used for immediate energy are stored in the body in the form of glycogen (for later energy), mainly in the muscles and to a smaller degree in the liver. So, the weight loss is basically fluid lost through reduced glycogen stores. This is very deceptive and the reason why dieters lose so much weight within the first few days of a low carb diet –– only to regain the weight after this type of diet is discontinued, the fluid is simply replaced as glycogen stores are replenished.

Seven Ways Water Can Help You Lose Weight and, More Importantly, FAT
  1. Water boosts your metabolism –– when you are dehydrated, your body does not operate at its full potential and that includes your metabolism.
  2. Water, coupled with other positive dietary habits, improves digestion even when consumed during and after a meal. Digestion –– a topic worthy of an entire article –– plays a key role in energy, immunity, and overall health. Poor digestion can trigger a variety of annoying digestive problems like heartburn, indigestion, constipation, gas and bloating. In addition, if left unchecked, poor digestion can lead to plenty of debilitating, chronic conditions –– to name a few, fatigue, insomnia, and difficulty losing weight.
  3. Many of you are retaining water due to lack of water intake. This is because of the body’s natural protective mechanism that will conserve water to keep you hydrated. By drinking enough water each day, you can avoid the bloat and improve your odds at a more consistent body weight.
  4. Mistaking thirst for hunger is a common diet pitfall; knowing this may prompt you to think twice before you choose food over H2O.
  5. Drinking water all day will keep you satisfied physically and emotionally. This means that you might eat less, and thus weigh less, more importantly; long-term fat loss could be the outcome. Throw in a proper diet and regular exercise, and “could” will transform into “most definitely.”
  6. Drinking water could mean less consumption of unhealthy liquids like soda and an array of others, which can add unwanted fat pounds to your body.
  7. Water will keep your energy and mood levels up, so that you can function at your full potential and even exercise, which as you know, is one of the "master keys" if you are seeking fat loss.
How much water should you drink each day?
For years, experts have been telling you to "drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day"; however, as noted by the Mayo Clinic, "[this] approach really isn't supported by scientific evidence," although it is a good baseline. In reality, it is not a "one size fits all" formula and there are factors to consider when it comes to your water consumption –– age, gender, lean body mass, exercise, sweating, and environment. Plus, pregnant women and nursing moms need additional fluids. If you have a particular illness, are taking medications, diet pills, are on a low-carb diet, smoking, or consuming a lot of caffeine and alcohol, more water is recommended.

What if you don't like water?
Believe or not, over the years, I have had clients and friends tell me that they don't like water. What? Well, water is not the only place to get your fluids; you can count other liquids and even a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (due to their water content). Don’t get too excited because without drinking H2O, there is no way that you will get all the requirements needed and experience the awesome benefits water has to offer, including youthful skin. This brings me to the new trend of "vitamin waters," that can be a decent liquid option, even those containing extra calories, sugar and additives. If you need the flavor, a much better approach would be to add some lemon to your water, an inexpensive way to significantly enhance your diet.

So then, drink up and pack up your H2O to go (in a "green" water bottle); this is a long "beverage expedition," taking you on the fit path toward better health and wellness. And if you need a jolt, our next STOP is coffee.

Sci/Tech Blogcritics / Fitness Flash
What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Two: Water
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: May 03, 2010 at 8:46 pm
MY DIVA DIET "Tools For Success"