99% of People Thwarted By This #1 Cause of a Slow Metabolism

These days, nearly everyone is looking to improve their lifestyle. Whether your goal is to lose weight or to improve on your fitness some other way, the fact of that matter is that millions of Americans are working hard to earn a better body. Unfortunately, there is one simple thing that is impeding nearly every single fitness enthusiast’s progress. What is it? The answer may astound you. The #1 cause of a slow metabolism is dieting – especially “crash dieting.”

This type of dieting involved adopting an extreme life change in regards to caloric intake over a very short period of time. Often, people begin a lifestyle change with a large amount of enthusiasm, so it is tempting to make a dramatic shift. However, extreme dieting can have very negative consequences.

This might seem somewhat counterintuitive to most people, but the science does not lie. Both crash dieting and chronic dieting inevitably demolish your metabolic rate, a fact that has been illustrated in a number of studies published by Metabolism, a prestigious research journal.

A research team at Rockefeller University led by the widely-respected expert, Dr. Rudolph Leibel, compared the metabolisms of people who lost weight through extended periods of chronic dieting and/or “crash dieting” to those who had maintained a normal weight. They found that the metabolisms of those who lost weight were as much as 25% lower than those who had not gained or lost a meaningful amount of weight in the past. In fact, the dieter group had so severely altered their metabolisms that their metabolic weights were slower than normal-weight individuals as much as two-thirds their size.

Similarly, a study by Dr. Campbell at the University of Vienna also showed significantly decreased levels of metabolic, fat-burning hormones after “crash dieting.” the participants in this study displayed thyroid levels that had dropped by a whopping 38% after only 2 weeks of consuming an extremely low-calorie diet. A different study by Dr. Gloria Dubuc and the nutrition research team at the University of California-Davis revealed a 50% decrease in the body’s primary metabolic hormone, leptin, after only a week of a following a severely reduced-calorie diet.

Obviously, extreme dieting in any form can have serious consequences to your body composition. As such, every fitness enthusiast needs to be wary when altering their lifestyle. Irresponsible dieting may very well end up doing more damage than good in the long run.

4 Foods to Eat for a Flatter Stomach

Skinny WomanFor anyone looking to lose weight, it can be a huge challenge to find the best way to accelerate fat loss and boost your metabolism. Fortunately, there are some positive habits you can adopt to improve your body composition over time and get the healthier lifestyle you desire. One of the simplest and most powerful practices you can make your own is to increase protein intake. In recent years, the positive impact a protein-rich diet can have as become more well-known, but the science behind it remains a mystery to far too many people. Read on to learn exactly why diets high in protein can carry you to a fitter future.

Foods rich in protein can encourage a metabolic rate more than three times greater than carbs and fats. Additionally, studies regularly indicate that eating habits that emphasize a high level of protein consumption lead to greater weight loss and fat loss than diets in which calorie intake is equitable but protein intake is lower. For example, a research team out of the University Illinois compared the effects of a high-protein diet to one that simply focused on reducing calories. The researchers found that people who ate more protein enjoyed a 62% greater ratio of fat loss, even when both groups of participants ate that same raw number of calories.

With the right ratio of protein in your diet, you can effectively eat more calories and lose more fat. That sound incredible, doesn’t it? So, how is this possible? The answer lies within a relatively unknown amino acid called leucine. High-protein diets are so effective and encouraging fat loss thanks to this one tiny ingredient. Leucine is key in discouraging muscle loss both when you’re trying to lose fat and when you are naturally aging. This is critical because muscle loss contributes to decreased metabolism, is the root of the “skinny fat” debacle,” and allows for rapid rebound weight gain. These are all certainly things you do not what to impede your fitness progress.

The best sources of leucine-rich, metabolism-boosting proteins are varied – and often delicious! Lean red meat, cottage cheese, chicken breast, and Greek yogurt are all excellent sources you can depend on to get you the protein you need. Consume one of these with every meal, and you will be well on your way to a healthier tomorrow. Nurture your calorie-burning muscle with the proper amount of protein is a crucial step to a fitter body.

3 Ways to Reduce This Belly Fat Producing Hormone

Belly-Fat-PictureYou know you have hormones, that men and women have slightly different hormones, and that hormone balance is important for your emotional and physical health, but do you really know what hormones are or what they are supposed to do? In scientific terms, hormones are signaling molecules produced by glands in multicellular organisms that are transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs in order to regulate physiology and behaviour.

In laymen’s terms, hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel through your bloodstream to reach your tissues or organs and tell them what to do. They affect many different processes, including growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, and mood. Your glands (such as your pituitary, pineal, and thyroid) produce these hormones. In addition, men produce hormones in their testes and women produce them in their ovaries.

Hormones are powerful messengers, and it takes only a tiny amount of them to cause big changes in cells or even your whole body. That’s why too much or too little of a particular hormone can cause serious health problems.

One hormone you’ve probably heard of before is cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone your body releases in response to stress.

When your body produces cortisol, it functions to increase your blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrate, as well as decrease bone formation. Unfortunately, high levels of cortisol have been linked to increased levels of abdominal fat. If you are holding onto a little extra weight around your midsection, too much cortisol could be to blame.

Want to reduce cortisol and get rid of excess belly fat? Here are 3 things you can start doing today:

1. Work less. New research shows that if you work 48+ hours per week, your likelihood of consuming excess alcohol goes up dramatically. Stress and alcohol consumption both increase levels of cortisol which in turn tell your body to store more fat around your midsection. Not to mention how the extra calories you’re receiving from those drinks is also going to cost you once you hit the scale. Trimming back your working hours while choosing exercise for stress relief (instead of alcohol) will work wonders for your stress levels and your waistline.

2. Don’t consume caffeine after 6 PM. When you consume caffeine at night, it’s likely to affect the quality of your sleep. Quality, uninterrupted sleep is essential for cortisol reduction. Opt for caffeine free tea instead. You’ll wake more refreshed after a good nights sleep, and your body will have lowered your levels of cortisol over the course of the night.

3. Take time to “unplug.” A recent study out of Canada showed that those who were constantly in contact with technology (TV, smart phones, computers, etc) throughout their day showed significantly higher symptoms of stress than those who took time to “unplug” during designated times each day. As you know, stress means your body is creating more cortisol. Schedule device-free time every day to unwind and relax.

It might sound difficult to incorporate these three pieces of advice if you have a hectic work schedule that requires you to work long hours, stay up late, and sit at a computer most of the time. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t start incorporating these things in small ways. Start with a few 5-minute breaks throughout your day where you close your eyes, and step away from your computer. Remember:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu; Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

4 Foods You Can Eat Before Bed

late_night_snackMost people have heard that eating before bed isn’t a great idea if you’re looking to lose weight. This fact has broken a few hearts, especially for those of us who love a tasty late night snack. Well, here’s some good news: hope is not lost.

Not every food that you eat past 7 PM will go straight to your hips. In fact, there are certain foods when eaten late at night that can actually help you lose weight. So what are these magical tasty treats, and how exactly does all this work?

First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat. And that’s carbs. Carbohydrate consumption causes a significant rise in insulin (i.e. the storage hormone), which stops fat burning. In the late evening hours your metabolism is winding down, so an insulin spike is the last thing your body needs if you are looking to lose weight.

So what should you reach for instead? Slow-digesting, high-quality protein.

Slow-digesting proteins don’t cause an insulin spike, plus they provide your body with a steady flow of amino acids as they breakdown slowly throughout the night. Amino acids help you recover from exercise and maintain your calorie-burning lean muscle as you lose fat.

Now, ready for some prime snack options?

1. White Meat Protein (not red meat) – Chicken and turkey are great pre-bed meal choices because they digest slowly and have a very low insulin release. They also promote the release of another hormone, glucagon, that helps the body break down carbs and fat to be burned for energy. DO NOT have red meat. Red meat has a significantly higher insulin response.

2. Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese is slow digesting and stimulates glucagon release. Just make sure you’re eating plain cottage cheese. Flavored varieties come with a lot of added sugars, which aren’t what you want at any time, but especially before bed.

3. Green Vegetables – Technically not a protein, but they contain virtually no calories, are high in fiber, and very filling. You can’t go wrong with a nice plate of fresh veggies.

4. A Protein Shake – Protein in a pretty pure form. If you’re having this before bed, make sure it’s slow-digesting protein and low in carbs. Many people even make having one of these before bed a nightly ritual. Just make sure you’re not having whey protein. Research has shown that it causes more of an insulin release than even white bread! Opt instead for a a time-released blend that includes a blend of slow-digesting, high-quality proteins.

Anyone else hungry, now?

Battle Belly Fat

Josh BezoniDieting is difficult. The commitment to a new lifestyle carries a promise of future improvements, but only after committing all of yourself to the task. The stress of dieting can bring its own collection of lovely disruptions to your lifestyle by clouding your judgement, aging you prematurely, and even cause inflammation where you’re so desperately trying to shrink. Combating stress is the first step to setting yourself on a path to success, and more importantly, keep you from relapsing into old habits. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to stop stress from getting in your way.

Directly linked to cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, fat can gather around your stomach and waist as a result of being over-stressed. Beyond all the benefits of living to avoid stress, a managed system of meditative breathing exercises can even help battle your belly fat. Using a technique called “Deep Belly Breathing,” the practitioner is able to manage their body’s production of cortisol through deep breaths and relaxation. By calming bodily functions, the brain naturally produces a chemical called melatonin. Melatonin, as opposed to cortisol, is a hormone suited to regulate sleep cycles, fight aging, and reduces the production of cortisol. All that’s necessary is that you follow these simple steps:

  • Find a dark and quiet space for you to sit in. Melatonin production is motivated by being in dark places, hence it’s common release prior to sleep.
  • Start performing meditative breathing cycles with your hand on your stomach. Breath in through your nose and feel your stomach expand with the fresh air.
  • Finally, exhale through the mouth to a count of five. Use this breath to focus on voiding that space you just felt fill. Repeat this activity for 5-10 minutes each night for a week and results will make themselves apparent.

Focusing your mind on such a simple task is meant to empty your mind of all stress, and drastically reduce your cortisol levels. Not only does this exercise place your body in a healthy cycle of stress management, it helps to increase your energy levels, bolster your immune system and improve reaction time. For as little as five minutes a day, you can fight fat and stress with these simple steps. For more on the topic, follow this link!

Where do Americans Get the Most Sodium?

Companies behind highly processed packaged foods that are in the way of you and that thinner waistline you are working for may want you to think that issues with sodium come from how many times you shake that salt shaker. But, this may come to a surprise to many of you, that is far from the truth.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has published a breakdown of where Americans take in sodium from, the real source of high sodium diets is:

Josh Bezoni Fitness Sodium Breakdown

77% from processed foods

12% from naturally occurring sources

6% added at the table

5% added during cooking

Now it might start to make sense why many companies want you to think that high sodium intake stems from others and not their processed foods.

A high sodium diet can have a very negative impact on your health by increasing your blood pressure which can lead to several problems down the line. It can also ruin an otherwise good diet, which is why the consumption of processed foods should be reduced if not completely avoided.

One issue with packaged foods is that it may be harder to control the portions, further increasing the amount of sodium you consume. Take eating a bowl of cereal as an example. How many people actually stop to look at the Nutrition Facts panel and attempt to stick to the actual suggested serving size? Probably less than you think and that means that a lot of people are consuming more than they should of these packaged and processed foods that are high in sodium, calories and carbohydrates.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.

Count Macronutrients instead of Calories

If you are trying to meet your weight loss and body transformation goals by counting calories, then you know how difficult and tedious it is. In the end, it starts to feel more like a chore to have to be mindful of the calories contained in what you eat and that leads many people to give up too soon. But what if there were a better, more balanced way of taking into account what you eat? Counting macronutrients, not calories, is that way. Unlike counting calories, counting macronutrients requires no more than simple math and can help a person eat more balanced meals rather than trying to hit a daily calorie intake goal. A greasy burger can help you stay within your calorie goals for the day, but it won’t be very good for your body overall.

Counting macronutrients is simple. The 3 macronutrients a person needs to track in order to drop body flab are protein, carbs and fat. Each macronutrient has a set caloric value and they are:

Carbs = 4 calories per gram.

Proteins = 4 calories per gram. 

Proteins, Carbs and Fats are 3 essential Macronutrients.

Proteins, Carbs and Fats are 3 essential Macronutrients.

Fats =  9 calories per gram.

If you can determine the number of grams you should eat of each macronutrient, you will also be effectively controlling your daily calorie intake but in a way that will allow you to maintain a healthier diet than just counting calories alone. The great thing is that the formula needed to figure out how many grams of each macronutrient a person should consume is very simple:

First you must multiply your body weight by 10 to figure out what your daily calorie intake should be. If you weigh 180 pounds, that would be 180 x 10 which is 1,800.

After that, it is time to break down the 1,800 calories you should consume into a ratio of 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. Protein is the most metabolic nutrient, so it should be what a fat burning diet is built around. Your body will also benefit from carbs and fat, so 30% of each is a great start.

To break down how many grams of each macronutrient you need, just multiply your daily calorie intake target by the percentage of each nutrient that you should consume.

For protein, for example, that would be: 1800 x 40% which equals 720 calories. But how many grams should that be? Just divide 720 calories by 4 grams (there are 4 calories per gram of protein) which will give you 180 grams.

An individual weighing 180 pounds should consume about 180g of protein. If you follow the same math for the other macronutrients, that same individual will have to consume 135g of carbs and 60g of fat daily.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.

Fueling Fat Loss with Fruit

If there are two food groups that tend to get grouped together more commonly that they should, they might well be “fruits and veggies.” Both are absolutely much healthier food options than the vast majority of processed options. Eating enough fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease (including heart attack and stroke). Fruits and vegetables can also reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as lower blood pressure and minimize the risk of bone loss or kidney stones. They can even protect against certain kinds of cancers.

However, that large swath of health benefits do not exactly come without qualifications. First and foremost, many fruits can be loaded with naturally occurring sugars. Although this natural sweetness is far preferable to the kind of artificial additives that tend to sweeten most packaged goods, it is still important to be cognizant of how much fruit you do choose to eat. This is why we recommend consuming 1 to 2 serving of vegetables with each meal, which should equate to between five and ten servings per day, and only suggest you eat fruit “in moderation.”

This holds especially true for fruit products like juices or dried treats. Sugar, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients can totally detract from the nutritional value of any fruit. A glass of orange juice contains double the carbs, calories, and sugar (and almost none of the fiber) of a medium-sized orange. The way the fruit is processed (high-heat, pasteurization, etc.) can also totally ruin the fruit in terms of its healthiness. So, whenever possible, opting to eat the whole fruit can only do great things for your body. Mindfulness in your eating is an invaluable skill. Get into the habit of reading more about what you put into your body and making the most informed possible choices.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.