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By Dr Harry

As anyone who has been to college knows, starting a new year and staying a healthy weight can be challenging. Either you are busy burning the candle at both ends and don't get enough sleep, or you are finding it difficult to fit a workout into your schedule. All college students are at risk of piling on the pounds. 

I have the pleasure in sharing with you this cool infographic from our friends at bestcolleges.org 
Enjoy!


The Best Regimen for College Fitness

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by Heather

If a drink is marketed as a fruit juice you might be forgiven for thinking it is healthy. McDonald's has a fruit drink which is classified as "one of your five-a-day" in reference to the public health message to get at least five portions of fruit and veg per day. Healthy, right?

So you might be confused when told that such drinks are not healthy at all and contain vast amounts of added sugar - far more than you would add to a cup of tea! In fact the small serving contains 25g sugar per 100mL drink.

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, is tackling this problem head-on by launching the newest phase in their anti-obesity drive "Pouring on the Pounds."

One of the latest videos makes us think about healthy sounding "fruit" drinks, which are in fact packed with sugar.

I would recommend fruit to be consumed in it's natural state - i.e. instead of orange juice, eat an orange, it's far healthier!
I really like how these videos show clearly the sugar content - something which is usually hidden and not thought about.
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by Heather

If you're trying for a baby then you may have to wait longer if you are obese researchers say. (1) This is mainly a hormonal effect and can be helped by weight loss. 

For women, for every unit increase in BMI the chance of conceiving naturally decreases by about 5%; so for example, if your BMI is 31 you have 5% less chance of natural conception than if your BMI is 30. In one study looking at young women aged 18 years old with a BMI of 32, the risk of infertility was almost trebled compared to their peers with a normal BMI. (2) 

The medical condition PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is associated with similar hormonal profiles to obesity. This condition is characterised by irregular menstrual cycles and below normal fertility levels. Not all PCOS sufferers are obese. However in those who are the hormonal irregularities are magnified.

In men, a similar disruption of the normal hormonal profile also occurs. This effects sperm quality and reduces fertlity directly and with reduced testosterone affecting fertility indirectly through decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. The only proven treatment to increase the likelihood of pregnancy is weight loss. (3)

Once you fall pregnant, the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy (less than 12 weeks) is increased if you are overwight or obese. This is true whether you fall pregnant naturally or following assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF. (4) The reasons for this are currently being intensely researched and the verdict is still out. In some countries, your access to publicly funded IVF treatment if you are an obese woman may be restricted because of treatment failure rates. However although the UK guidelines suggest a BMI of less than 29 is preferred, practice varies locally. (5)

What can be done? As has been mentioned already, weight loss is the only known treatment to work; there are no medications or interventions which have any proven effect. Even modest weight loss - in the region of 5 - 10% can help your fertility. In one study, 4 out of 5 obese women with infertility and hormonal irregularities regained normal menstrual cycles with 1 in 3 of them becoming pregnant. (6)


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Whatever your lifestyle, continue to track your weight using the Fat Creep™ app on iPhone, iPad or Android  to ensure your weight stays within a desirable range.  

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References
1. Wise LA et al An internet-based prospective study of body size and time-to-pregnancy. Hum Reprod 2010;25:253-64.      
2. Rich-Edwards JW et al Adolescent body mass index and infertility caused by ovulatory disorder. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1994;171:171-7
3. Hammoud AO et al Obesity and male infertility: a practical approach. Semin Reprod Med. 2012  Dec; 30(6): 486-95
4. Wang JX et al Obesity increases the risk of spontaneous abortion during infertility treatment. Obes Res 2002;10:551-4.
5. National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Fertility guideline: Assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems. http://www.nice.org.uk/CG011
6. Hollmann M, et al Effects of weight loss on the hormonal profile in obese, infertile women. Hum Reprod 1996;11:1884-91

 
 
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by Heather

This is a common question I get asked a lot. It is very disheartening when you stick to an exercise schedule and after a week you don't see any weight loss. Even after a month, the weight loss is minimal. Why might this be?

1. Your exercise is not intense enough
Did you know that the UK government recommends adults to do at least 3 sessions of 45 minutes of exercise per week? That's moderate to vigorous intensity. And that's not even to lose weight, but just to improve other areas of health (like your heart and bones). So if you stop after 10 or 20 minutes exercise you may not be burning enough calories. If you are not doing an intense enough activity (moderate to vigorous intensity) you may not be burning enough calories. 

The number of calories burnt during exercise depends on the time spent on it and the intensity of it. If you spend your time doing vigorous intensity exercise you may be able to exercise for less time. But if you are doing light intensity exercise you will have to exercise for a lot longer!

2. You reward yourself with food because you are doing a lot of exercise
I know exercise is hard work, especially if you are not used to it. It is natural for you to want to be rewarded. But inappropriate food choices can make all your exercise efforts null and void! If you burn 300 calories by jogging for 30 minutes, you can completely cancel that out by eating a slice of cheesecake when you get home. If your food reward is more than 300 calories you've incurred calorie debt, and this tends to grow as time goes on until you get on top of this habit.

The rate at which you can consume calories is a lot faster than the rate at which you are able to burn calories. So remember, 5 minutes of eating is a much faster way of adding calories than 5 minutes of exercise is at burning calories. There is not a straight 1 to 1 relationship between rates of energy intake and energy expenditure. 

3. You reduce your physical activity throughout the rest of the day
If you exercise regularly but then spend the rest of your time recovering this could contribute to a lack of weight loss. Your gains in calorie burning during exercise may be significantly dampened if your normal levels of activity are then reduced from what they were before the exercise regimen started.

My recommendations would be to try and exercise everyday, as getting into and maintaining a habit is much easier if it is something that happens at a set time every day (like brushing your teeth). This also means that you will be more likely to hit the exercise target and burn more calories than you otherwise would with less exercise.

Also, cut out high calorie food which may be difficult (like chocolate and biscuits). The best way is don't buy them, then you won't have them in the house tempting you.  

Finally I would recommend snacking on fruit and vegetables. You may not be able to burn calories at the same rate as you can ingest them, but if the foods are low calorie to begin with, snacking on a large quantity will not add up to much by the time you are done. 

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by Heather

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Teenage girls and young women are most at risk. The result can be anaemia which leads to tiredness, lack of concentration, breathlessness, dizziness and fainting if severe. 

How can it be prevented?

A good diet, with adequate iron is the best way to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. 

Foods rich in iron

Excellent sources of Iron
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Liver
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Fortified cereal
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Meat
Good sources of iron
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Curly leaf kale
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Kidney beans
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Nuts
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The iron found in meat is more easily absorbed by the body than the iron found in other foods. 

However, one way to improve iron absorption is to avoid tea and coffee - because these inhibit iron uptake.

Another boost which helps iron absorption is orange juice. 

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by Heather

Is it just me or can men get away with eating what they want and never have to think about jumping on a scale? I have noticed with my male friends and husband, that they never count calories, eat all the food they want but also never seem to put on weight. Why is this?

Well, firstly, I am probably mistaken. Most of my guy friends are often in the gym or doing sports, it's just taken for granted that men are more active and so I haven't really taken time to notice this before. 

Secondly, I am told that men do struggle with weight issues too, but the weight gain is less noticed simply because men do not weigh themselves obsessively! One moment they are holding their weight steady and then after a long gap between weigh-ins the kebabs, curries and pints come back to haunt them and they've gained several stones! (A true case of fat creep, if ever I saw one).

In several scientific studies (1,2) the energy expenditure of men at baseline is higher than in women. Although this effect is small it still can be used as a reason why the observation that men find it easier to lose weight than women is true.

Also, bear in mind that men are just bigger than women, as a general rule, so seeing a big guy may not make as big an impact as a similar sized woman. This is definitely not fair, but I am sure we are subconsciously primed to take less notice of a bigger man than a bigger woman. 

When it comes to weight loss though men may just be lucky, because they naturally have a higher lean body mass - or more muscle - than women. This is genetically determined and also has a lot to do with hormone make-up. Men have more testosterone and less oestrogen than women which is one reason they have more muscle and less fat. 

Hormones act on the brain also, and there is evidence that men are less at the mercy of their hormones than are women when it comes to resisting food, or making food choices. This may explain why men can control their weight better - if they are less fixated on eating during a conscious effort to lose weight, then the calorie intake will be more controlled and weight loss may be faster and easier.

Importantly, research (3) indicates that after training hard - in the research paper it was for 5 months in preparation for a marathon - men maintain a higher energy expenditure compared to women. The researchers conclude it has as much to do with hormonal factors as well as behavioural factors; men can make long term changes to diet patterns after the endurance training has ended which women don't maintain, as well as their increased muscle mass being more metabolically active after the endurance training was over.

How can females make an impact on this? I would recommend that doing regular resistance exercises such as lifting weights can help. In fact, government advice (4) is to do at least 2 sessions a week of such muscle-strengthening activities (for example lifting weights, or doing press-ups or yoga) no matter who you are or what your level of fitness. 

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Whatever your lifestyle, continue to track your weight using the Fat Creep™ app on iPhone, iPad or Android  to ensure your weight stays within a desirable range.  

Click for your free ebook: The Quick Guide to Sexy.

References
1. Morio B et al. Gender differences in energy expended during activities and in daily energy expenditure
of elderly people. Am J Physiol 1997; 273: E321–E327.
2. Carpenter WH, et al. Total daily energy expenditure in free-living older African–Americans and Caucasians. Am J Physiol 1998; 274: E96–E101
3. Meijer GA et al. The effect of a 5-month endurance-training programme on physical activity: evidence for a sex-difference in the metabolic response to exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1991; 62: 11–17.
4. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html


 
 
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by Heather

I am a big fan of green tea not only because it tastes good, but also
because of the supposed health benefits.

Some research has also shown that green tea extracts can help weight
loss. However, most of the research that has been done is limited at
best, and inconclusive at worst.

Weight loss effects are thought to be due to green tea increasing metabolic rate. If the basal metabolic rate increases, the amount of energy burned also increases. Therefore, all things being equal,
taking caffeine should help you to achieve a negative energy balance, and hence lose weight.

The evidence suggests that green tea can - in the short term - reduce body weight.

One large review looked at 14 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which aimed to answer the question whether green tea preparations were effective and safe for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight and obese adults.

Weight loss varied between half a pound and seven and a half pounds across the studies. Changes in waist circumference were even more modest - average change was minus 0.2cm! Waist to hip ratio did not alter significantly. The study did not look at other markers of improved health.

It is possible that the green tea made some overall beneficial change to health independent of these changes. But further research would be needed to look into this.

Two of the studies looked at how effective green tea was at maintaining weight loss. Over 180 participants were included. Weight loss ranges were between 1 and 3 pounds.  A range of waist
circumference changes were recorded as a gain of 0.3cm to a loss of 1.7 cm.

What this research showed was that the weight loss was small, and I am sure you would not be impressed even if you lost the maximum observed in this research. 

What is in the green tea than helps weight loss? Caffeine and another naturally occuring substance in the green tea called catechins.

What are catechins? Catechins are substances found in certain fruits, vegetables and wines as well as tea, some cocoa and chocolate. The chemical family which they belong to is called flavanols.

VerdictGreen tea and weight loss - more myth than weight loss panacea. However, I will still be drinking it (WITHOUT sugar or milk, mind you!)

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by Heather

If I knew hummus was so easy to make, I would never have bought it from the supermarket. My husband just made tortilla wraps from lunch. When saw what was on the table I was VERY skeptical. I decided not to criticise the food right away but I was seriously thinking, "Gosh, why is he starving me!"

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Serves: 2 to 4. 

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

THE ROASTED VEGETABLES

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 medium-sized carrots

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius
  2. Cut the peppers in half, peel the carrots and chop lengthways into fours 
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Drizzle olive oil on top and throw a sprig of fresh thyme
  5. Place in the oven for 10 minutes then switch on the grill for 5 to 10 minutes.

THE HUMMUS

Ingredients
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1–2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (pureed sesame seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • The juice of ½ a lemon
  • A large pinch of salt
  • A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • A sprinkle of ground cumin
  • 8 small tortilla

Method
  1. Place everything except the tortillas, extra virgin olive oil and the cumin into a food processor
  2. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Serve in a bowl.
  4. Optional: drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil onto the hummus.
  5. Optional: sprinkle cumin on top.
  6. Add roasted vegetables and wrap!

We were hungry so we had four wraps each. We also added celery sticks. I had just returned from a 5 km jog so I need the four wraps! 
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Swimming in saturated fats!
by Heather 

Saturated means the fat has a full set of hydrogen bonds.

Some fat is needed in a healthy diet but it turns out your body can manufacture all the saturated fat it needs.

What’s wrong with saturated fats then?

Consuming too much saturated fat increases cholesterol and low density lipoproteins, LDLs. LDLs are composed primarily of cholesterol and have very little protein.

What is the recommended daily intake of saturated fats?

  • For an average man: no more than 30g
  • For an average woman: no more than 20g

What foods are high in saturated fats?

  • Fatty cuts of meat including sausages and bacon
  • Milk, cream and cheese, especially hard cheese
  • Biscuits, cakes, pastries
  • Butter, lard and margarine
  • Fats that are solid at room temperature, e.g. coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter

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No one needs 3 eggs for breakfast
You should eat as few of the above foods as you possibly can. Of course some of the above are a lot more benign than others, some milk with your cereal will do you a lot less harm than a regular fatty sausage and bacon breakfast.

Some would add egg yolks to the above list but eggs have so much goodness in them, not least because they’re great for hair, that I don’t want to add them to the above.

All foods contain a mixture of fats. For instance, beef is high in saturated fats but it actually contains more monounsaturated fats (the good type) than saturated fats.

Read these tips on how to eat less fat.

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Whatever your lifestyle, continue to track your weight using the Fat Creep™ app on iPhone, iPad or Android  to ensure your weight stays within a desirable range.  

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by Heather 

There are some medical conditions that make it difficult to lose weight, I actually have one of them. The most common medical conditions that could hold back or stall weight loss are:

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS – hormonal imbalance can prevent weight loss from occurring even if you eat very well and exercise regularly.
  • Diabetes – fear of suffering a sharp fall in blood sugar levels stops many diabetes sufferers from working out? 
  • Heart conditions – fear of suffering heart failure stops many with a heart condition from exercising.

The solution?

PCOS

Even if you can’t see the results of your hard work on your scale, you will be fitter and definitely healthier if you exercise regularly. Importantly, at times your body will respond and your weight will fall. You might even notice an improvement in the regularity of your menstrual cycle.

Diabetes

The fear of fluctuations in blood sugar is very real. Before you start on an exercise programme speak to your doctor about what safety measures you can take. One obvious thing you can do is to take a friend along on any long jogs or cycles.

Heart conditions

Just like with the diabetes, speak to your doctor. Having a heart condition doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, quite the contrary, your heart needs some exercise to keep it strong and healthy.

Importantly, some people use their medical condition as an excuse not to bother, I certainly know I’ve done this at times, don’t do that. Take whatever precautions are necessary and get out there. 

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Whatever your lifestyle, continue to track your weight using the Fat Creep™ app on iPhone, iPad or Android  to ensure your weight stays within a desirable range.  

Click for your free ebook: The Quick Guide to Sexy.