cornTime after time, high fructose corn syrup has found its way into news headlines. With some food experts touting its dangers and food companies praising the stuff, knowing what the truth is can be hard. It’s just another food ingredient…what’s the big deal? As long as I don’t eat too much of it (i.e. too much junk food) I should be okay, right?

Wrong!

Scientists and experts in the industry have come out repeatedly to tell us that high fructose corn syrup is not only bad news, it’s also dangerous. As it turns out, us Americans are consuming huge amounts of it every year through the usual and not so usual culprits: sodas, breads, sauces, cereals, processed snacks, and a million more.  But it’s just like any other sugar!!!

Actually, it’s not…
High fructose corn syrup is made from corn. It goes through some complicated extraction process to become the “sugar” that it is. That process is what makes it so dangerous. The reality is that HFCS is neither structurally nor chemically the same as plain old cane sugar.
You see, natural sugar is half fructose, half glucose, and these two halves are bound together.

HFCS, on the other hand, is 55% one, 45% the other, and they are not bound. This play on sugar does not require digestion to get to our blood…it’s absorbed more quickly than natural sugar.

And so, what scientists have discovered is that this simple difference actually makes a world of a difference. Once HFCS is absorbed by the body, it causes the liver to produce triglycerides and spikes insulin levels.
The result? We want more! Oh…and we have higher levels than normal of bad fats…

Not worried yet?

The differences in digestion and body reactions caused by HFCS eventually lead to increased appetite and weight gain. They also pave the road for several serious health complications (Think obesity, cancer, heart disease)
More immediate than this is that HFCS contains contaminants (think mercury) Do you really want nasty chemicals in your body just because you wanted a soda? I think not!

We can go into more details, but here’s the bottom line: HFCS paves the way to obesity through its impact on appetite. A study on rats showed that those who consumed HFCS gained more weight than those who consumed natural sugars. (And their calorie consumption was the same)
It also causes liver damage, ruins your intestines, and can, at minimum, cause tooth decay. (and eventually, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc)
So really, it’s not like the food companies are telling you. All sugars are NOT created equal, and all sugars DO NOT impact your body in the same way.
The more natural something is, the less likely it will wreak havoc on your body. (in moderation of course)

And so if you’re really trying to avoid a path to self-destruction, staying away from products with high fructose corn syrup is one way to achieve just that!

When we’re on the path to weight loss, we may not have even the slightest thought that perhaps sleep is a necessary component of any successful weight loss journey.  Why would we?  Weight loss is about calorie intake versus calorie burn, right?

Yes, but…

Weight loss is a combination of factors, and as it turns out, sleep is one of the important ones.

Why?

Well…

I had a horrible day not so long ago.  It started off with just five hours of sleep, even though I was exhausted the day before.  I started my day feeling sleepy and lethargic.  How was I going to deal with a long day at work feeling that way?  For starters, I stopped at a coffee shop for a caffeine jolt and figured that a muffin would give me an additional boost to get me through the morning.

But wait! What about my commitment to eat healthy and wholesome breakfasts that would keep me full AND give me needed nutrition?  Long story short: I didn’t have the energy to think about a healthy breakfast choice…besides; the muffin was beckoning to me from the moment I walked in the door.

A couple of hours after my coffee stop, I was back in the “no energy” zone and felt like I was dragging.  Oh, and I was hungry.  It wasn’t lunchtime yet so I decided to get myself a snack…thank you vending machine! (And yes, I got myself something high in sugar and low in nutritional value)

Lunch was normal, and so was dinner.  Unfortunately, I still had some leftover dessert from the night before, and even though it wasn’t my “off” day from healthy eating, I couldn’t help but have a serving.

Suffice it to say that by the time I went to bed, I had consumed way too many calories and the guilt was glaring at me from ten miles away.

Why did I make such poor choices that day?  Why was I craving unhealthy food more than usual?  And how would this affect my weight loss?

It’s really quite simple.  Lack of sleep = hormonal changes + increased appetite and appeal for unhealthy foods = roadblock to weight loss.

If we don’t get enough sleep, our brain functions differently around food.  It responds more to junk food.  Areas in the brain that motivate us to eat are activated, and areas responsible for judgment take the backseat.  So, if we’re tired, we’re more likely to struggle to make healthy decisions.

Not only that, but our hormone production changes.  Leptin, responsible for appetite suppression, decreases.  Ghrelin, responsible for appetite stimulation, increases.  And all because we didn’t get enough sleep…

And yes, it does affect our caloric intake and the dietary choices we make.  Studies show that sleep-deprived people choose high calorie foods more than those who have had enough sleep.

This becomes a problem when sleep deprivation is constant or frequently occurring.  We put ourselves at risk for poor choices which prevent weight loss and possibly lead to weight gain.  All this results from things that happen outside of our conscious awareness, which makes it all the more dangerous.

Of course, the occasional sleepy day won’t really be damaging.  The problem is when sleep deprivation is the norm, which is the case for many Americans today.  Constant lack of sleep can sabotage our weight loss plans and our waistlines.  This makes it that much more important for us to get the recommended average hours of sleep every night.  That doesn’t simply mean logging 6-7 hours a night.  It means getting a solid 6-7 hour night…without frequent waking.

A solid night of sleep is practically the powerful secret to regulating appetite and pushing yourself towards continued weight loss.

You may be thinking: “It’s too difficult with all that’s on my mind” or “I just can’t fall asleep easily.”

Well, you’re not alone, and that’s why experts have recommended certain things to help you make sure that you get a good night’s sleep every night, and help yourself on your weight loss journey.  These tips are referred to as “sleep hygiene”, and they allow for anyone to experience good quality sleep all night, every night.  Use them to your benefit!

  1. Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon
  2. Avoid or limit alcohol before bed
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Avoid spicy/high-fat dinners
  5. Stay away from daytime naps
  6. Have your dinner a few hours before bed, and if you snack, make sure it’s light and causes no discomfort.
  7. Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing environment for you and contains no distractions (TV, iPads, etc)
  8. Establish a regular routine; go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.  This will program your body for set sleep hours.

 

More tips are available, depending on your situation.  To get a better sense of how sleep is affecting your weight loss, talk to your weight loss coach today!

http://www.brandonweightloss.com/?p=2515Many people diet, many people lose weight, and many of them fail to keep it off. It sounds simple: go on a diet, lose weight, and keep it off.  The reality?  Most people can’t do the third part, usually because their weight loss plan is too extreme or designed to be temporary.

So how do some people do it?  What’s the secret to keeping the weight off without living a restrictive lifestyle?

We’ve got the right tips to help you keep what you’ve gained during your weight loss journey.  The most important thing to do is to think about all the health benefits you’ll get if you stick to your healthy habits once you’ve reached your target weight!

To reach your target weight and use the secrets of the successful, make sure your weight loss journey:

A)   Is gradual

B)   Is based on behavior modification

C)   Focuses on lifestyle changes for results

D)   Is individualized to your needs

So what are the secrets to keeping the weight off?

1)   Sticking to a relatively consistent routine of eating. (same times, similar meals, etc)

2)   Eating frequently (to control blood sugar and manage your appetite)

3)   Start your day with breakfast

4)   Engage in positive self-talk, especially if and when you have a slip-up post diet

5)   Weigh yourself consistently (to make sure your keeping the weight off)

6)   Exercise one hour a day (during your weight loss journey, build your way up to this gradually)

7)   Always remember that it’s all about what works for you

All-in-all, successful weight loss requires some necessary and permanent lifestyle changes that will keep you on the healthy track to the permanent, new you!  It IS doable, so long as you make a commitment to yourself right now that you will maintain the results you are working for now.

GrapefruitsWith all the discussion on weight loss wherever we go, we may find that the easiest and most sensible take-away message from it all is this: weight loss = calories in < calories out. From that, we may select a diet that is nutritionally unsound and that always leaves us hungry. Fewer calories equals faster and better weight loss, right? Wrong!
As it turns out, certain foods can help with weight loss more than others. How? Simple!
They contain healthy fats, fiber, protein, and/or are considered to be resistant starches.
Why does that matter? Foods like that must be inedible!
Nope…

There exists a surprisingly long list of good-for-your-waistline and tasty foods that actually keep you fuller, help boost your metabolism, and up your fat burn. Add them to your diet (and remove all that is high in sugar and/or low in nutritional content) and you will find yourself on a faster weight loss journey than ever before!
Below is a list of these super foods, along with a simple explanation of why they’re amazing.

  1. Chickpeas: High in resistant starch, they pack a punch with fiber, protein and healthy fats.
  2. Green Tea: A refreshing, good-for-you drink. The antioxidants in here help increase your body’s fat and calorie burn.
  3. Avocados: Guacamole (home-made) can actually be good for you! Load up on this green wonder to quiet your hunger. Monounsaturated fats do just that for you!
  4. Potatoes: High in carbs but considered to be a resistant starch. In other words, potatoes are more filling than white bread and contain key nutrients.
  5. Salmon: This fish cannot be undersold! It’s a lean source of protein and contains monounsaturated fats, which means feeling full!
  6. Oranges: Florida’s star fruit is moderate in calories and high in fiber. It’s a great energy-boosting snack!
  7. Lentils: A wonderfully delicious combination of protein and fiber, this legume is a resistant starch that will keep you full, boost your metabolism, and burn fat!
  8. Oats: A hearty breakfast, oats are high in fiber and allow for gradual increase in blood sugar so that you don’t crash mid-morning.
  9. Grapefruit: Eat half before every meal and you’ll greatly boost your weight loss.
  10. Cinnamon: A little sprinkle in your meals can prevent sudden increases in your blood sugar levels and prevent a crash after carb-loading.

Adding these to your meals or making them your snacks will really help you with your weight loss journey. To learn about more foods that are great for weight loss, talk to your weight loss coach. And always remember that adding these foods gradually will be your best route to faster and sustained weight loss!

Ever heard of strange or interesting “facts” about weight loss that you either absolutely loved or thought were ridiculous? Here, we debunk some of those popular myths for you.

 

1) A very good way to lose weight is to load up on fruits and vegetables

The reality is, no secret tip will lead you by the hand to weight loss.  It takes a combination of things, including cutting out unhealthy foods and staying active.

 

2) You can avoid obesity by eating breakfast regularly

Truth be told, a single, relatively small factor will not prevent anyone from becoming obese.  Obesity is a result of several factors, including genetics, eating habits, and lifestyle.  Though breakfast helps to start up your metabolism, it is not a guaranteed defense against obesity.

 

3) You can lose big by making small changes in your eating habits

It’s true that most weight loss professionals advocate small habit changes such as a switch from regular Coke to Diet.  These little calorie cuts are not enough to help you lose a good chunk of weight across the span of a year, however.  Unless healthy habits are maintained throughout the year, including no food to compensate for that regular Coke, you will not see the weight fall off. The reality is, one habit change of 150 calories will not lead to anything major.  The major results come from employing several changes in your life, and, of course, from listening to your weight loss coach!

 

4) All carbs are bad!!!

Not so!  Carbs can be good or bad, depending on which ones you eat.  Processed carbs are not favored for the ultimate healthy lifestyle, nor do they help with weight loss in the way that less processed (or unprocessed) carbs do.  The closer to its natural form a carb is, the better it is for you.  It contains more nutrients and will probably keep you full for longer.  Examples? Brown rice, quinoa, beans, and fruit.

 

5) Some foods will help you burn more calories than others

Unfortunately, grapefruit does not burn more calories than it contains.  And any food that could possibly boost your metabolism does not boost it enough to make much of a difference in your daily calorie burn.  If you really want to boost your metabolism and burn more calories, weight lift!  Pack on some muscle and your body will find itself asking for more fuel.

Research is piling up, and articles & news reports on what’s actually bad for you are adding up, and are shining light on what’s actually in the foods we may be eating.

  • Trail Mix

Nuts, granola, and dried fruit sounds wonderful. It may be more sugar and/or sodium than you bargained for, though. Trail mix is usually high in calories, and because we think it’s healthy, we may actually be eating too much of it.

  • Protein Bars

Many of them are not only high in calories, but much-too-high in sugars. They probably contain a long list of strange ingredients as well. If you like to snack on them or have them as your meal once in a while, make sure you know what’s in them and how many calories you’re consuming.

  • Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

Check the label and you’ll notice that it has more sugar than regular peanut butter. But it’s lower in fat, you might say. Yes…it contains lower amounts of the good fat that peanut butter should be providing you with. Swapping it out with sugar is not the best choice, so stick with regular peanut butter.

  • Everything Packaged & Organic

The word “organic” preceding the product name does not make it a healthier, good-for-you snack worth spending more money on. Packaged snacks that are advertised as organic are merely snacks with organic ingredients. They still contain calories, sugars, and potentially no real nutritional value. Stick to the natural snacks that the world has to offer us. They’re cheaper, taste better, and give our bodies more of what we need.

 

  • Women shouldn’t lift weights because they will become bulky.

It’s simply not true! Women do not have enough of the hormone necessary to bulk up if they lift weights in the way that men do. It would take long, tireless, and repeated hours of strenuous weight lifting for a woman to become too bulky for femininity.

Lift moderate weights 2-3 times a week to help reduce body fat, strengthen bones, and provide protection against osteoporosis

  • Workout machines give correct caloric output

Quite unfortunately, the cardio machines you may step on to get a workout in do not give you an accurate reading of how many calories you burn while on there. Most machines don’t ask for enough information to correctly assess your calorie burn. Age, body fat percentage, and height all play key roles in correct caloric output. If a machine isn’t asking you for those, chances are it’s overestimating your calorie burn by 25%. The solution? Enter in a lighter weight than you actually are.

  • The number on the scale is what’s important

Yes, it’s important. It’s actually very important to see that number change when you’re on a weight loss journey. Truth be told, however, it doesn’t tell the entire story. Body fat percentage is a better measure of your overall health in terms of body composition. Having similar amounts of fat and muscle is not as “healthy” as larger amounts of muscle and a small amount of fat. Your scale may be telling you that you’ve lost 20 pounds, but most of that may be muscle. The result? You’ve increased your fat-to-muscle ratio, which does not bode well for your health in the long-term. To avoid falling into the trap of numbers, make sure you engage in resistance training regularly, eat healthy and natural foods, & check your body fat percentage periodically to make sure that you’re at a good number.

  • Do a thousand sit-ups a day and your ab fat will shrink away

Taking care of your ab flab is slightly more complicated than just doing sit-ups and crunches. It requires regular cardio and healthy eating. All those sit-ups will only do so much for you; they strengthen your muscles but do nothing for the fat. Ask your weight loss coach about cardio for abs, as well as for alternative and more effective abdomen workouts than the traditional sit-up and crunch.

  • Stretching Helps Prevent Injuries

Recently, several studies were published suggesting that the stand-still stretching we engage in before working out actually does nothing to prevent injury. In fact, stretching for too long may actually be harmful to us. The solution, according to researchers, is to take part in “dynamic stretching”, which involves stretching the muscles while moving.

At Brandon Weight Loss, we encourage the consumption of fresh, healthy, and natural foods. Not only do they help you to lead a healthy lifestyle (when chosen correctly), but they are also a guarantee that you are not consuming more unnatural food than you need. Below are a few reasons why the idea of avoiding (or at least minimizing) consumption of processed foods is picking up among health experts:

  1. The chemicals used in processed meats, fast foods, packaged meals, and carbonated beverages (among other things) have been linked to kidney problems.
  2. Eating processed foods, be it snacks, meals, fast food, or drinks, can decrease a person’s lifespan.
  3. Eating processed foods can lead to an addiction. The sugars in these foods trigger brain activity in a way that has consumers craving more. The best way to avoid this is to minimize consumption to the greatest extent possible.
  4. Added sugars in processed foods confuse the brain and prevent it from sending out signals of satiety. What happens then is over consumption of what is most likely an unhealthy food item.
  5. Low-fat foods simply strip the food of good fats and replace them with added sugars. More sugar is never a good idea for your health!

The take-away message here is for all of us to become educated consumers who are aware of what they are purchasing and feeding our bodies. When possible, we encourage you to stay away from that which is processed when its natural alternative is available or can be made. Our bodies take in and process natural foods more easily and smoothly than they do processed foods. Processed foods leave our bodies dealing with chemicals, colors, and added ingredients – all unnatural items that the human body does not need to function. The result, long-term, can be disastrous for your health.

 

Talk to your weight loss coach about how best to avoid processed foods and for tips on how to choose the best options among packaged foods that are hard to live without.

Yes, you read that right.  Research has been suggesting that there are some foods that provide your brain with necessary nutrients for healthy function.  And that’s not all.  Some of them even contain compounds/nutrients that work as protective factors against harm to the brain.  Best of all, they’re healthy and good for you and your weight loss plan.

 

1)   Fish

Full of Omega-3′s, this source of protein provides your brain with protective nutrients that aid in its development.  In addition, its protein is good brain food.

2)   Red Beans

Antioxidants are good for the health of your brain.  Blueberries contain a lot of antioxidants.  Red beans contain three times that.  And they’re high in protein, which means they’re a good way to stay full in a healthy way.

3)   Red/blue potatoes

These little spuds contain thirty percent of your daily Vitamin C need.  More importantly, they contain a phytonutrient that helps to lower blood pressure.  Lower blood pressure means a healthier brain.  How? High blood pressure contributes to the creation of legions in the brain that are linked to depression and dementia.

4)   Dark chocolate

It may be an acquired taste, but it’s one that’s worth it.  It has been proven to lower stress hormone levels.  It also increases energy and improves mood and focus.  How’s that for a healthy brain?

We all know that the principle of weight loss is to burn more calories than what you consume.   That is simple, right? Not really! Most people find it challenging to maintain a regular exercise schedule and to stay within a daily caloric budget. The trick is to keep yourself motivated and to adopt a long-term personalized weight management plan through behavior modification.

Behavior modification is never easy. However, it can be achieved more effectively through Weight Loss Coaching, which is based on personal coaching techniques that focus on lasting behavior changes. Coaching is the pillar of the holistic weight loss approach that we adopt here at Brandon Weight Loss.

It starts with making patients self-aware and convincing them that being overweight is caused by their own unhealthy eating habits and insufficient physical activity. More importantly, it puts the responsibility squarely on the individual. Once an individual accepts that responsibility, a mind-body connection is established, which makes the coaching approach holistic.

Behavior modification through coaching is designed to alter the behavior pattern to increase the chances of sustaining a long-term healthy weight through small changes. Using the stairs instead of the elevator at work is one example.

After patients become self-aware and establish the mind-body connection, coaches can help them set small goals. The reason why goals have to be small is to make them easier to achieve. When a patient sets a hard goal, chances are that he or she won’t be able to achieve it. Failing to achieve goals at an early stage of the weight loss journey can be very devastating and may discourage patients from continuing their weight loss efforts. However, setting and achieving small goals creates a positive feedback loop that encourages and motivates patients to stay the course and to reach the end goal.

Patients need to keep in mind that coaching is just a means and not a magic bullet. In the end, patients themselves need to accept the responsibility of their own behavior, become self-aware of the impact of their actions on their health and weight, and set and achieve goals.