If you are one of the 30 percent people who believes that you should skip eating breakfast because you don't have time and that you can lose body weight, you are sorely mistaken. There's a reason why that old saying that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is true. The word breakfast,
when understood in literal terminology, means breaking
. Having not eaten while sleeping for at least six hours inevitably causes blood sugar levels to drop and the metabolic rate to decrease.
Here's a nice statistic according to a Harvard University study: people who eat breakfast are nearly 50 percent less
likely to be obese than those who don't eat breakfast. In other words, you're risk of becoming obese increases when not eating breakfast!
Here are other reasons why eating breakfast is so important:
- Breakfast provides the vitamins and minerals the body needs for the day.
A meal of whole-grain cereal with milk and low-fat yogurt with granola provides calcium and fiber--two nutrients deficient in many American's diets.
- Breakfast can help you to lose body weight.
After an overnight fast, your body's metabolic rate decreases and as a result, you burn calories at a slower rate. Your body, as a result, will not efficiently burn calories throughout the day. Be sure to eat complex carbs like oatmeal or whole-grain toast, foods which contain plenty of fiber and are low in sugar. Foods such as oatmeal provide a steady supply of energy and is satiating, thus minimizing the urge to snack on sugary snacks later in the day.
- Breakfast boosts your brainpower.
Eating upon waking up will fuel your brain with much-needed glucose from carbs. The brain's fuel is glucose, so limiting your intake of carbs in the morning can adversely affect your ability to mentally focus and feel sluggish.
- Breakfast can reduce your risk of incurring diseases.
Eating fibrous foods (e.g., oatmeal, whole-wheat toast) for breakfast can reduce your risk of getting heart disease and breast cancer because eating fiber can reduce your LDL (the bad cholesterol) and estrogen levels.
If you don't eat breakfast because you don't feel hungry in the morning, stop eating after 8pm. By eating less food later in the day, you will eventually feel more hungry in the mornings.
Power walking involves walking at a brisk pace (e.g., 5 miles per hour). This is a superb exercise for those who want to spare their joints (e.g., back, hips, knees, ankles) from high impact and for those who may have orthopedic issues (e.g., arthritic knees). Power walking can provide cardiovascular benefits comparable to running. It entails having one foot touching the ground at all times with the front leg being relatively straight when it contacts the ground. To get the most out of power walking, you should strive to move as quickly as possible in order to burn more calories and become more fit. Here are some tips to better your technique and to help move at a faster pace:
BOTTOM LINE: Walking is a respectable exercise and is certainly better than being sedentary.
- Keep you chin up, head level, shoulders relaxed, and back straight
- Pump your arms in front of your shoulders with bent elbows (i.e., about a 90-degree angle)
- Keep your arms tucked close to your ribs
- Swing your arms forward rather than crossing the center of your body
- Avoid having your elbows rise above your chest when swinging your arms
- Avoid having each fist rise higher than your buttocks during the backward swing
- Strike the ground with each heel with your toes up
- Avoid bouncing or swaying your upper body
- Keep your hips in line with your shoulders
- Keep your hands closed in a fist but not clenched
- Step with one leg and swing your opposing arm in sync with your stride
- Swivel your hips, allowing for natural rotation to occur
- Push off with the ball of your back foot
- Take relatively small steps to avoid overstriding
- Begin with a 20-minute walk several times per week and gradually pick up the pace each week
- Vary your routine (i.e., carry a weighted vest or backpack, perform hill walking, perform intervals, perform treadmill walking)
Contrary to a popularly-held belief, cardio generally does not
burn more calories than weight training. I say "generally" because so many confounding factors play a part (i.e., duration, intensity, interval training, etc.). Taking into account the same duration and comparable intensity levels (i.e., METS), weight training burns more
calories than cardio. The primary reason for this is twofold:
BOTTOM LINE: If you want to burn more calories in order to lean out or lose body weight, be sure to lift the weights!Note: Steady-
- Weight training promotes muscle mass preservation and growth
- Muscle is a highly metabolic tissue which stimulates caloric expenditure for up to 36 hours after the weight training session, a condition known as EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption).
state cardio generally does not
cause EPOC although interval and HIIT cardio sessions do cause EPOC.
- Drink a cup of water before each meal
- Eat half of a grapefruit before each meal
- Eat eggs for breakfast.
Each of the above ideas will help you to lose body weight because they each provide satiety. Water has zero calories and reduces your appetite. Grapefruit has plenty of fiber and water to fill you up with minimal calories. Eggs provide satiety due to their high quality protein content (i.e., eggs are a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids), thus reducing hunger pangs and keeping you feeling fuller longer.
Water, grapefruit and eggs act as natural appetite suppressants in their own way. With regard to eggs, they will help you to significantly reduce the amount of ghrelin, a hormone responsible for stimulating appetite, within your blood. It doesn't matter how the eggs are prepared prior to eating--whether scrambled, over easy, hard-boiled, etc. Eating eggs regularly may enhance satiety, leading to better compliance in helping you to eat less food during the day (e.g., less snacking) and therefore enable you to lose body weight.
Intermittent fasting (IF) involves alternating periods of fasting (e.g., 16 to 20 hours) and non-fasting (e.g., 4 to 8 hours). IF seems to be a fad lately within the fat loss and fitness industry. Since intermittent fasters eat less frequently (e.g., 2 to 3 meals daily), they must eat a lot of food per meal in order to get an adequate caloric intake (can you say gluttony?!). Eating so much food within a relatively short period of time inevitably makes the body work harder to digest the food.
Here are some of the PROS
- Decreases body weight--this is partly due to caloric restriction
- Increases insulin levels--this is due to lower blood sugar levels which causes the pancreas to reduce its insulin release
- Increases human growth hormone (HGH) levels--increased HGH is released from the pituitary gland to allow the body to use more fat for energy
- Decreases risk of diseases--this is partly due to hormone changes lessening the onset of diseases like cancer and heart disease
- Improves cholesterol levels--LDL and HDL levels tend to decrease and increase, respectively
- Decreases blood pressure--this is due to a decrease in resting metabolic rate
Here are some of the CONS
Bottom line: IF may work for some people who are disciplined at dieting and and are able to withstand hunger pangs. IF is NOT recommended for diabetics due to the fluctuations in blood sugar levels. IF is also NOT recommended for bodybuilders who aim to preserve muscle mass when dieting. My recommendation: "Listen" to the hormonal signals provided by your body which indicate hunger and eat. There are easier ways to lose body weight without causing dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Gradually reduce your caloric consumption while stepping up your physical activity. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will lessen disease risk, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce hypertension without resorting to a trendy diet like intermittent fasting.
- Catabolism--this occurs when muscle, which is a much more metabolically active tissue than fat, is broken down for needed energy when caloric intake has been reduced.
- Hypoglycemia--this involves low blood sugar levels which causes symptoms of hunger, headaches, weakness, and irritable feelings
- Bulging full feeling--caused by eating a relatively large amount of food within a short period of time
- Lethargy--this is caused by a lack of energy (read: calories) needed to fuel mental and physical activities
- Reduces Metabolic Rate--this is partly due to elevated cortisol, a stress hormone
CrossFit is a trend that has been marketed heavily as a means to get stronger and more powerful via plyometric movements in a high-intensity, minimal-rest bootcamp environment in order to increase cardiorespiratory fitness, stamina, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, and coordination. The workouts are short (i.e., 5 to 30 minutes) but are expected to occur 3 to 5 days per week. Crossfit incorporates kettlebells, medicine balls, ropes, bodyweight exercises (e.g., pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, squats), gymnastics, and endurance exercise. But the reality is that CrossFit is nothing more than a complex of compound pushing, pulling, running, rowing, and squatting movements that personal trainers have prescribed for many years.
What makes CrossFit more appealing to the masses is how the compound exercises (e.g., squats, pullups, pushups, sprints, rowing, push-presses, deadlifts, clean and jerks, etc.) have been structured into a bootcamp scenerio complete with minimal rest between exercises. We live in an environment in which the consumer has a very short attention span and very little free time. Hence the appeal of CrossFit--it incorporates high-intensity, quick exercises that can be performed within 30 minutes.
Whether or not you should try CrossFit is entirely your decision to make although I should caution you to the risks involved in performing advanced exercises (read: multi-joint movements)--some of which are technically complex. Unless you have experience in performing squats, deadlifts, and explosive, plyometric Olympic lifts such as cleans, jerks, snatches, etc., I strongly encourage you to learn the fundamentals of these exercises before trying CrossFit. Not only are the exercises risky but performing them in a fatigued condition increases the risk of injury. A cursory look at YouTube CrossFit video footage of participants attempting to perform these exercises is atrocious to say the least. In many cases, the weight lifting techniques are horrible, substantially increasing injury risk.
Here are the pros
- Variety of workouts to lessen the effect of boredom
- Competitive drive to achieve fitness goals
- Enjoyment which may increase adherence
- Improves overall functional movement
Here are the cons
- Lack of proper exercise guidance (i.e., correct form, range of motion, etc.) from a competent certified personal trainer
- Higher risk of injury (esp. joint) due to a lack of personalized recommendation for loading
- Presented as a "one size fits all" workout regimen without periodization or progressive overloading
- Does not track training progress (e.g., strength, power) due to non-repeating workout protocols
- Prescribes exercises which are in many cases randomized without consideration for needed muscle/joint recovery
If you're still not convinced that CrossFit is NOT for you, then by all means give it a shot. There's no harm in trying and you might actually like it but be aware that CrossFit is NOT for everyone.
It seems almost every day new research is attesting to another physiological benefit of taking fish oil (i.e., protects against heart disease, reduces joint inflammation, reduces cholesterol levels, etc.). It's the omega-3 fatty acids within fish oil that makes it so remarkable.
Recent research published in the journal Neurology has just noted that eating fatty fish, nuts, and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids regularly may slow down the aging process of the brain and possibly protect against Alzheimer's disease. Research has discovered that a regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids in one's diet may cause a corresponding decrease in the amount of a protein called beta-amyloid commonly found in the brains of people who've died from Alzheimer's disease. It may be the increased amounts of this protein that's attributed to the memory loss exhibited by those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts, salmon, sardines, tuna, and other fatty fish.
Bottom line: a diet containing healthy fats including fish oil may have an effect in decreasing the loss of memory, reducing heart disease, reducing cholesterol levels as well as lessening joint inflammation.
A recent study in the journal General Dentistry has determined that the regular consumption of energy drinks (e.g., Red Bull) and sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade) may cause irreversible erosion of the tooth enamel and underlying dentin within only five days (!), possibly leading to the formation of cavities and tooth decay. Sports drinks were found to be especially erosive to teeth. It is the citric and phosphoric acids found within these drinks that are the culprits and that promote a lower pH or higher acidity within the mouth. Young adults and kids are the primary consumers of sports and energy drinks. It is recommended that one should immediately rinse out the mouth and/or chew sugar-free gum following the consumption of these beverages so as to reduce the acidity caused by drinking these products. Also, wait at least an hour before brushing the teeth to avoid spreading the acid from the drink all over the teeth.
Unlike athletes, most people don't exercise hard or long enough to necessitate the need for drinking these beverages. The primary purpose for these beverages is to provide much-needed calories and electrolytic replacement during or immediately following intense and long-duration (i.e., more than an hour) exercise. In most cases, plain old water is all that's needed to fully hydrate following physical activity.