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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coconut Oil can help you Lose Fat

Coconut Oil is a wonderful healthy food that has been shown to increase metabolism and assist in burning unwanted fat off your body.  It is a wonder food that has been around for centuries and a great addition to any fat burning meal plan.

Unfortunately, some people have a really hard time believing that coconut oil is not "fattening" or "dangerous". We have all been falsely led to believe that fat, especially saturated fat, is the cause of our weight gain and health problems. This is only true half true. Some fats like hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils do contribute to heart disease and weight gain but good fats like coconut oil, butter and olive oil are actually great fats for our bodies. Think about how much healthier people were in the late 1800's and very early 1900's. Heart disease was almost unheard of back then.

Let's put some of these MYTHS about coconut oil to rest right now.

Myth #1 – Coconut Oil contains a lot of fat so it must be fattening.

Truth – Not all fat makes you fat (I want to get this tattooed on my forehead). Certain fats do cause weight gain but other good fats will actually burn unwanted fat off your body and accelerate your metabolism.

Myth #2 – Coconut Oil contains almost all saturated fat so it must be bad for you.

Truth – Saturated Fat is not the cause of heart disease, weight gain and high cholesterol. Saturated Fat has been falsely accused and it is SUGAR that is Enemy Numero Uno (It is worse than the Joker in Bat Man).

(To read more details about how fats can be healthy and the history of dietary fats, read Butter: Good Fat or Bad Fat?)

Myth #3 – Coconut Oil should be avoided by those who are at risk for heart disease

Truth – The fat in coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils you can consume (yes, even for those with heart disease). It is rich in lauric acid, which is known for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and contains no trans fat. The saturated fat in coconut oil is different than many other oils in that it is of the medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) variety. The body digests MCFAs more easily and sends these fats directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. Now isn't that great? A fat that is used to make energy instead of storing it on our bodies. We can all use some of that.

I highly recommend everyone use unrefined, organic coconut oil for all of their cooking needs. 1 – 2 tsps for most cooking is more than enough. You can even use it raw if you like as I think, it tastes OH SO DELICIOUS! I usually have about 2-3 total TBSPs per day which is a perfect amount for a fat burning eating plan. While it's really good for you, there's no need to go overboard.

If you have a hard time finding coconut oil in your local supermarket, I buy mine here:
http://nutiva.net

Now go right ahead and enjoy your coconut oil and reap the fat burning effects right away.

To learn more about Coconut Oil and get started on your own fat loss goals, download your healthy meal plans right away.

 

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Coffee: Good or Bad for your Health?

Is your morning coffee an ok option on your healthy eating plan?  If coffee really bad for you or is it actually good?

I get these questions about coffee and health all the time and as a coffee drinker myself, it is smart to take a look at both the good and the bad.

Now, I'm not here to tell you that coffee is good for you. If I did, I would be telling only the good side of the story and I'm no politician. I am here to give you the good and the bad and tell you how you can incorporate your favorite coffee or tea into your healthy meal plan.

The Ugly Side of Caffeine

Most coffee and tea contains a lot of caffeine. This is usually the primary reason people make coffee their drink of choice in the morning. Caffeine is a drug like any other and comes with a long list of side effects. Have you ever tried not having your coffee in the morning? Yeah, pass the Excedrin, right? The headache that comes on when you try and kick this habit can be brutal (just like with other drugs) and creating a dependency and addiction like this is harmful to the body.

Second, coffee is extremely acidic. Our bodies function at optimum levels when they are slightly more alkaline (the opposite of acidic). It is best for us to greatly reduce any foods that will drive our body's pH to be more acidic and eat more foods that are alkaline (like fruits and veggies). An acidic body pH is like a magnet for all kinds of illnesses. Also, an alkaline body has a much stronger immune system, making illness much less likely.

Last but not least, the caffeine in coffee and tea is abuse to your adrenal glands. Your adrenals release your "fight or flight" hormones basically giving you a nice "boost" when needed. Unfortunately, people who drink coffee all day long are consistently beating on their adrenals. This is the equivalent of whipping a tired horse even when he is exhausted. Eventually he will not move at all.

The Pretty Side of Caffeine

Coffee tastes oh so yummy and makes me feel great in the morning. (What? Is that not a good enough reason to drink it?)

Many studies have shown that coffee can help in the prevention and treatment of diseases and illnesses as varied as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, liver disease, skin cancer, Parkinsons's disease and more. Although, I don't believe coffee would be the cure all to any of these diseases, many ancient cultures did rely on the coffee bean to cure a long list of ailments. Not to mention, small doses of caffeine can increase performance and mental focus.

Green tea is also a great drink to include with a long list of benefits. If nothing else, green tea is a wonderful source of antioxidants which are important in cancer prevention. Green tea has even been found to raise metabolism and aid in fat burning. Before you go take a green tea bath, its effects are really minor when compared to the effects of sound nutrition and exercise plans. Now that I've said that, don't think you can eat junk food and just wash it down with green tea!

 

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What is a coffee and tea drinker to do?

1. Limit your coffee and tea intake to 2 – 8 oz cups per day. No, not 2 of each, 2 total. Any more than that is considered as a heavy addict. (I know. I've been there).

2. If you are currently dependent on a lot of caffeine each day, replace 1 or 2 cups of coffee with green tea instead. Green tea has much less caffeine than coffee and will help combat the ugly detox symptoms.

3. Do not jack up your coffee with sugar, milk, syrup and whip cream (So I guess that means no Starbucks, huh?). Use stevia or xylitol to sweeten and avoid all the empty, harmful calories. A teaspoon of half and half won't hurt either. Please oh please, do not use any of those flavored creamers. They are closer to someone's chemistry experiment than they are to real food.

4. Make sure to make your food choices healthy. Avoiding other acidic foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods will lighten the acid load on the body.

5. Make sure the coffee you drink is organic. Conventional coffee is filled with pesticides and chemicals and should be avoided at all costs.

There is no need to give up your morning coffee but it is important to drink the right types of coffee, without the added unhealthy extras and, as with most things, in moderation.

Get started on your own weight loss goals right away with these Healthy Weight Loss Meal Plans.

Keep up to date with the Best Diet Information on Isabel's Blog.

 

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Diet Plans to Lose Weight Need Not Be Complicated

With all of the conflicting information about nutrition, it's no wonder people give up on their diet plans to lose weight after only a few days. Dropping weight can feel like an uphill climb, but it doesn't have to be this way. Don't let others make the process more complicated than it actually is.

Don't get me wrong, losing flab certainly has it challenges (trust me, I've been there). I'm simply saying if you're armed with the right information, slimming down is not as hard as it seems. If you boot all the processed foods out of your diet and replace them with nutrient-dense, natural foods, you'll lose weight and feel healthier before you know it.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Adding a variety of fresh fruits and veggies to your daily diet can help you get the vitamins and minerals you need to support important functions of the body. For instance, calcium helps support bone health. Vitamin C helps the immune system thrive. B vitamins work to ease stress, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. And vitamin A supports healthy vision and skin.

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Carbs are important because they provide fuel for the body. Fiber regulates the bowels and expands in your stomach to help you stay full longer. The longer you stay full, the less you eat, and the more likely you are to drop body fat.

I have always been a supporter of free roaming chicken, grass fed meets, and whole organic eggs. It just makes sense.

Poultry and Beans

When you make beans and poultry a part of your regular diet, you are giving your body the protein it needs to maintain good health. Protein is referred to as the building block of the body for a reason. This nutrient is found almost everywhere in the body. Without it, you'll face problems like fatigue, skin ulcers, sleeping difficulties, weakness and organ damage.

Skimping on the protein can also cause crankiness, depression, anxiety and other mental issues. Also, when you add this compound to your diet, you are less likely to overeat because it makes meals more satiating and helps control your appetite.

Lean Meats, Fish and Raw Nuts

Adding lean meats to your diet will ensure you get the iron you need to build hemoglobin and transport oxygen to the cells in your body. When you don't get enough iron in your diet, your chances of suffering with iron deficient anemia increases. Symptoms of anemia can include fatigue, problems regulating the body temperature, headaches, dizziness and weakness.

The importance of fat in the diet is underrated. When you avoid eating healthy fats, you do your body a huge disservice. Healthy fats build the brain, provide the body with energy, help produce hormones, and provide cushion for your internal organs.

Fats also enable the body use vitamins more efficiently. Make fish and raw nuts staples in your diet so you can get some of the fats you need for good health.

If you rid your diet of processed junk and replace them with the foods listed above, you can shed unwanted pounds without frustration. The weight isn't going to come off overnight, but it will eventually come off. Oh, and remember. No diet plan is complete or 100 percent successful without exercise.

If you don't have a plan, trying to lose weight can be frustrating. Let The Diet Solution Program provide you with effective diet plans to lose weight.

 

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Does FAT make you FAT?

YES and NO. The right answer to this question is dependent on what type of fat we're talking about. Certain fats are actually essential for so many important bodily functions, but the wrong kind of fat can lead us down an unhealthy path to weight gain and a long list of diseases.

Fat to Avoid

Hydrogenated Oils

You have probably already heard in the media or just about anywhere that hydrogenated oils are detrimental to your health so to avoid them at all costs. But what exactly are they?

Hydrogenation is a chemical process used to make fat more shelf stable. This hydrogenation method completely alters the liquid oil's molecular structure so that it no longer resembles a natural fat. Because your body does not recognize the transformed molecule as a natural fat, it cannot process it and treats it as a toxin. This "toxin" has been linked to cancer, birth defects, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and obesity.

We must read labels! Hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil can be found in most packaged foods (margarine, crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies, cereal bars, sugar cereals, microwave popcorn, and low-fat and fat-free snacks). There are even many packaged foods advertised as "health foods" that include this toxic ingredient.

 

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Fats You Must Eat

Your body cannot survive without fat – specifically essential fatty acids. Your brain, hormones, immune system, and digestion are all dependent on this healthy fat (which is why people who go on very extreme low fat diets often suffer many health problems).

Omega 3 Fats

Omega 3 Fats are essential to human health but cannot be produced by the body which is why it is essential that we get these great fats from food. Foods high in Omega 3 fats are leafy green vegetables, flax seeds, salmon, sardines, raw walnuts, organic eggs and grass fed beef.

Extensive research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help prevent risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. These essential fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be particularly important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include extreme tiredness (fatigue), poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

Cooking Oil

The only oil that is suitable for high heat cooking (and one of the healthiest oils you can consume) is raw, organic, unrefined coconut oil. Coconut oil has been proven to be one of the healthiest oils available for the human body and increases the body's metabolic rate (helping in weight loss)

Oils best Raw

Olive oil and flax seed oil are two wonderful oils to use for salad dressing or on cooked or raw veggies. These oils have a lower melting point and are more stable (and healthier) when kept raw.

All you need to know about fat and fat consumption:

1. Avoid all products containing hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil

2. Consume foods high in Omega 3′s such as salmon, flax seeds, walnuts and organic eggs

3. Cook with Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil

4. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flaxseed oil raw for salads and veggies.  Also include avocados as a healthy source of fat into your meal plans.

Remember all fats are not created equal and proper use of the good fats can be a great way to keep you and your family at optimum health!

For more information about Omega 3s, click here.

 

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Eat More and Do Less Cardio to Lose that Unwanted Weight

Is the above statement too good to be true? That's what Rory DeLuca thought. The 42 year old New Jersey resident, husband and busy father of 3 couldn't believe what I was telling him when he came to see me in January 2006. Like most people, after the holidays, Rory was frustrated with his increased weight and was even more frustrated that his previous "weight loss" efforts were not providing any results. He told me he was trying to eat less and run 4 miles every day, but every time he tried to stick to that routine, his back would hurt because of the running and he would end up starving at the end of the day. You can imagine his surprise when I told him that he would have to eat a lot more and do less cardio to achieve the results he was looking for.Now, 3 months later, Rory has lost a total of 30 pounds and 9 inches off his body. His back no longer hurts and he is not starving. He eats tons of food all day and exercises less than an hour 5 days a week. So what is the secret to his success? Three very important weight loss principles that we can all incorporate.

1. Rory started strength training 3x's a week. The key here is Rory was doing the right kind of strength training for his weight loss goal. He was not going from one machine to the next, doing 3 sets of 10 reps on each one. His strength training routine incorporated exercises that used his whole body so his heart rate was up the whole time. Try doing 3 exercises, back to back, using only free weights, stability balls and your own body weight, and you'll see how quickly your heart rate goes up. No sitting on a bench and chitchatting in this workout. We keep the intensity high the whole time and the workout is complete in 45 minutes.

Incorporating strength training and reducing the amount of aerobic cardiovascular training was integral to his success. The ONLY tissue in the body that burns fat is Muscle. So the more muscle you have in your body, the more fat you're burning at any given time during the day. The amount of muscle you have in your body also greatly affects your metabolism. So someone with more muscle mass will have a higher metabolism (This is why most men can eat a lot more than women). For example, one pound of muscle in your body requires approximately 50 calories per day. So if I had two people, both weighing 150lbs, but one was comprised of 100lbs of muscle while the other was comprised of 120lbs of muscle, the one with the more muscle mass is burning more calories all day long. That means that this person can eat more during the day and still maintain their weight and will also have an easier time losing weight. Aerobic training does burn calories while you're doing it, but it does not do anything to increase the amount of muscle in your body, thus it does not help you to continue to burn calories when you're done

2. Rory only did aerobic cardiovascular exercise using interval training. This concept could encompass a whole article unto itself, but basically, your body becomes accustomed to anything that you expose it to for long periods of time. Aerobic cardiovascular exercise makes your body more efficient at burning fat. But that's exactly what you don't want (If your car was more efficient at burning gas, you'd use less of it). Same with your body. If your body becomes efficient at burning fat, you burn less of it for the same amount of work. So instead of burning 200 calories for your 2 mile run, you may burn 150 calories for the same distance in 2 months. So you'll have to increase the distance and continue to do this, just to burn the same 200 calories. This can eventually turn into running for an hour just to burn the same number of calories! I don't know about you, but this is exactly what I don't want to do.

Interval training refers to a series of intense activity separated with short rest periods. You want to make sure that you are constantly changing the intensity of your cardio workout during the whole workout, alternating from high intensity to low intensity. So a typical workout on an elliptical machine would be 5 min warmup, 1 minute at a high intensity (level 9or 10), then 2 minutes at a lower intensity (level 3 or 4). You would repeat this 3 minute round 3 or 4 times, gradually increasing the intensities once you feel like it's getting easy. Cool down for 5 minutes, and that is a total of 19-22 minutes of cardio, not 1 hour! Keep your body guessing the whole time and it will not become accustomed to the same cardio workout.

 

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3. Rory ate a lot of food all day long. Rory couldn't believe his meal plan when I laid it out for him. He was going to be eating more than he was currently eating and couldn't believe this was actually going to help him lose weight. The biggest difference would be what foods he would be choosing. Every meal was comprised of a healthy protein, carbohydrate and good fat. Lots of eggs (whole organic eggs, not whites), poultry, meat, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, olive oil, and raw nuts and nut butters. In order for his body to burn fat, it had to believe it wasn't starving and the only way to do that was to feed it well.

So what can you do to achieve the same great results?

  1. Incorporate both a good strength training routine and interval cardio routine to your workout regimen. Don't just do one all the time. Your body needs muscle to keep your metabolism high, and it also needs cardio to keep your heart strong, so find a good balance between the two.
  2. Incorporate a strength training routine that focuses on whole body movements. No sitting on machines, please. Unless you are rehabilitating an injury, you want to keep your body moving the whole time. What do you think burns more calories, a squat with a shoulder press combination or sitting on a leg press? Just try to squat and raise your arms overhead a few times and you'll see how quickly your heart rate goes up. Keep your body moving through the whole workout and you'll be sweating just as much as during your cardio.
  3. Eat consistently throughout the day. We've all heard it before: Eat five meals a day to lose weight. Well, guess what? It works, as long as those meals incorporate healthy food. Eat a protein with each meal. That is the biggest mistake I see. People are not feeding their muscles with enough protein. Remember, you want to keep your metabolism cranking all day and the best way to do that is to feed your body and to keep your muscle mass high.

Hopefully, this will help you to reduce those countless hours on the treadmill and stop starving yourself to lose a few pounds. I don't know about you but if eating all day and doing less cardio is going to keep me at a healthy weight and in shape, I say AMEN to that!

Stop your weight loss struggles once and for all with these Fat Burning Meal Plans.

 

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Eating Healthy While Traveling

It's difficult enough these days to maintain a healthy eating plan, let alone keep a healthy diet while traveling.

I am no stranger to maintaining a healthy eating plan while being on the road.  I do a good amount of traveling myself, and my clients and readers are asking me all the time:

"Isabel, I am always on the go. How can I stick to my healthy eating plan and still live my life?"

If your days really have you running around from work, to parties, to picking up kids all over the neighborhood, here are a few strategies that really do work:

1. Make your trunk your refrigerator.

Ok, not literally, but I have known many people (including myself) to keep a small cooler in their trunk at all times. They fill it with healthy goodies at the beginning of the day (raw nuts, fresh fruits and veggies, even hard boiled eggs) along with some ice packs and extra tupperware (just in case) and they're off for the day. At the end of the day, they empty whatever is left and the ice packs go back in the freezer for the next day. This is also a great way to keep your water bottles nice and cold and not warm from the car heat.

2. Make your supermarket your Fast Food stop.

Instead of a quick trip through the drive thru, run into the local supermarket and pick up an assortment of dried or fresh fruits, healthy trail mixes, fresh veggies and natural peanut or almond butter. Most supermarkets now have wonderful salad bars and prepared foods like grilled chicken and salmon (better than any fast food joint) and healthy sandwich options (be careful with certain condiments like mayo that may be added). Eliminate the fast food joints from your choices of "quick stops" and look for the hot spots in town that offer healthier options.

3. Be the bearer of good food.

When going to a barbecue or social event, always offer to bring something (now I sound like the etiquette police). I always bring something and that something is always healthy. I know, if nothing else, at least I've got that to eat (although all of my friends and family know why I do this.  Even if you contribute the healthy and lean beef burgers or turkey burgers, this may deter you from the not-so healthy hot dogs and sausages. Or how about a colorful salad or fruit salad?

4. Find the healthy places all over the world.

Before I go on any trip, I go online and find the closest Whole Foods or Health Food Store. If there are none close by, I find a major supermarket. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy myself on vacation (like the Key Lime Pie I enjoyed down South) or when visiting family and friends, but I make sure that all healthy principles do NOT go out the window. I keep it healthy and have a great time! (not one or the other)

There are always great ways to maintain your healthy weight loss plans even if your life has you traveling and on the road quite a bit.

If you're traveling quite a bit, it's also important to find easy and simple strategies to maintain your current exercise routine. Here is one of my favorite exercise programs that teaches you how to get the best results in the least amount of time:

Rob Poulos' Fat Burning Furnace

 

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Fast and Easy Fat Loss, How he lost 5 lbs in 5 days.

Fat loss doesn't have to be as hard as you think.  Just ask my most recent house guest, who easily lost 5 lbs in 5 days after staying with me for just a few days.  Did I torture him with boring food in an effort to lose weight?  No not at all.  I can promise you one thing, I definitely did not starve the guy. We ate some super delicious meals and I made sure to cook him up some of my all time favorites:

Grass Fed Bacon and Scrambled Eggs on Spelt tortillas

Taco seasoned Buffalo ground beef on lettuce and tomato with shredded, raw cheddar cheese

Isabel's Special Baked Chicken, garlic broccoli and brown rice flavored with butter.

Even he was shocked when he thought about how hearty and tasty all of our meals were and how he was still able to drop a few pounds during his short stay. Something that doesn't normally happen on vacation, right?

It really goes to show that the right foods will prove results every single time!

Even if you feel like you are having a hard time sticking to your meal plans 100%, just make sure that you stick to your recommended foods. That, in itself, is a huge step in the right direction and, like my good friend here, has proved to be just the jumpstart many people have needed.

What are the right foods?

Always think NATURAL. If it was provided by Mother Nature herself, chances are its a great addition to your meal plan: natural meats and poultry, wild fish, raw nuts, fruits and veggies are just a few examples of the incredible fat burning foods Mother Nature has provided. Make these foods the greater percentage of your meal plans and you will be well on your way to losing those unwanted pounds (without having to come sleep over my house 

Get started on your own healthy fat loss meal plans right away with this free Fat Loss Report.

 

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Fast and Easy Weight Loss tips you can start Right Now

I must get this call and this statement from busy moms, executives, students, all the time "I just don't have time to eat right and exercise!" No one seems to be able to find the time to lose weight. With all of the responsibilities and events packed into our busy days how are we to keep ourselves healthy and maintain an optimal weight?

When people think weight loss, they think diet and exercise, both of which already sound time consuming. Well after 10 years of seeing clients I will tell you with 100% certainty that if a client follows their nutrition plan without exercise they always lose weight but if they don't follow their nutrition plan but are consistent with their workouts, there is no weight loss. Anyone who has ever attempted to lose weight without changing to healthier eating alternatives knows this is true. Trust me, I'll be the first one to tell you all the reasons why exercise is so important but following a healthy eating regimen must be priority number 1!

So if nothing else, the following easy adjustments in your nutrition plan will help to take off, at the very least, an initial 5-10 lbs to get you well on your way to your health and weight loss goals:

1. Only drink water as your beverage (with the occasional unsweetened tea or black coffee).

Eliminating all sugar drinks, "diet" drinks and sodas will automatically cause a dramatic weight loss. Studies have shown, when all else is kept constant, people lose up to 10lbs just by giving up diet coke. But it has no calories you say? Equal (Aspartame) and all other artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet and Low are toxins to your body and cause weight gain, even more so than sugar!

Squeeze fresh lemon in your water or make flavored herbal teas and cool them to make ice tea to make water drinking much easier. Always consume ½ of your body weight in ounces of water per day to experience adequate hydration and weight loss (ex. If you weigh 150lbs, you must drink 75 ounces of water each day).

2. Eliminate the 4 white devils

White Flour, Refined Salt, White Sugar, and Dairy. If you just stay away from these 4 things, you will automatically see a drastic drop in weight and will instantly feel more energetic throughout the day. Most people are well aware of the harmful effects of flour, refined salt and sugar but dairy? Doesn't it do a body good? Definitely not! Dairy is one of the number 1 reasons people have such a hard time losing weight. It causes inflammation in the body, digestive problems, clogged arteries, and weight gain. Get your calcium from leafy greens and avoid dairy at all costs. When moms bring in their children to see me with weight and health problems one of the first things I do is take them off dairy. The results are miraculous! Chronically sick kids are now automatically better. And those who have had such a hard time losing weight experience automatic weight loss without dairy.

3. Know exactly where to find the healthy food!

It is honestly just as easy to run in to the local supermarket and get a bag of carrots and some almonds as it is to run into a Quickie-Mart and buy some harmful processed food. You can go absolutely anywhere now and find healthy meal options but you must know what you are looking for. Stay away from most packaged foods as the label indicates more of a science experiment than anything that would be close to food. No one needs all of those toxins in their body. Labels should have 2 – 3 items, at most. And the best foods don't have labels.

Don't let time be your excuse. If you stop to eat 2-3 times per day and snack in between it is just as easy to find something healthy as it is to find something harmful. Don't let your body come to a shrieking halt before you decide to do anything about your weight and your health. You know what will be a huge impediment on your time? If you or a family member becomes ill due to poor nutrition and lifestyle habits. So tackle the problem now before it really does begin to affect your time and your life! You can replace cars, homes and all material items, but you only get one body! Take good care of it.

Be well on your way to achieving your own Fat Loss and Health Goals with these Simple and Easy Fat Burning Meal Plans.

 

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Healthy Eating On A Budget

Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating does not have to inflict damage to your wallet.   In challenging economic times, many people tend to go for the "cheapest" food options and sometimes these options are far from healthy.

Just recently my husband and I put ourselves on a serious "budget" and of course this meant a "food budget" as well.

Below are the simple steps we took to continue to live our healthy lifestyle while saving a few dollars in the process.

1.    We drastically cut out eating out.  It's shocking to discover how much you are really spending by buying a quick pizza and ordering quick take out every once in a while.  What we often don't realize is that every once in a while is much more often than we think.   We are now cooking at home a lot more and discovering quick, easy and delicious recipes that cost very little when made at home.  Now we are no chefs by any means but it's amazing what you can put together in 20 minutes or less by just getting a bit creative and seeking out new recipes.

2.    My husband is now packing his lunch.  Truth be told, I pack it for him.  I often take leftovers from the night before and put them together in a salad or a sandwich.  He was spending an average of $7-$10 each day on lunch and taking his lunch instead will save us over $280 a month.

3.    Bargain shop.  I have become a master of seeking out the sale.  I know which grocery stores will put their fruits and vegetables on sale and where I can get the best bargains.  If the weather permits, I always go to the local farmers markets to get fresh fruit and veggies.  Not only will you save a ton of money at a farmers market, the produce is fresh and delicious.

4.    We have learned to love and embrace leftovers.  It is amazing what you can do with leftovers once you get a bit creative.  Don't let food go to waste.  Use leftovers from the night before for lunch or re-heat for dinner.

5.    Cut out the expensive junk food.  It's shocking how expensive cereal, crackers and packaged snacks are.  You can get 10x's more for your money and value by buying plain oatmeal, making your own bread, and snacking on fresh fruit.

Healthy eating does not have to break the bank.  Find good deals, learn to embrace cooking and discover the power of the leftover and you will be well on your way to a healthy, cost effective eating plan.

Get started on your own Fat Loss and Healthy eating plan right away with these Simple and Healthy Meal Plans.

 

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Healthy Restaurant Eating

Healthy restaurant eating is possible and can be much easier than you think.  If your schedule has your traveling a lot or opting for take out often, use the ideas below to stick to your healthy meal plans while still enjoying your meal out.

Here is my plan of attack whenver I am on vacation, traveling for business or just in a situation that has me ordering out more than I am able to cook.

I do what I call "damage control": Do the best I can, with what I've got and have an awesome time on my trip!

Prepare my "emergency kit". I will pack and take with me: walnuts, almonds, almond butter, organic turkey and beef jerky, apples and pears. None of these need refrigeration so they will keep well wherever you are. If I'm in a situation where there is no protein handy (like when it's time for a snack), I've got my nuts and jerky to tie me over. If you don't have something handy, you just may find yourself grabbing pretzels and potato chips (or whatever other horrid food people eat while away).

Breakfast

There is always a protein on the menu, no matter what. Omelets, or smoked salmon are my favorite choices but I've even gone to places that now carry turkey bacon and turkey sausage on the menu. Stay away from the heavy and deadly pancakes and waffles. This is a blood sugar disaster waiting to happen. Eating a sugar loaded breakfast like this will only set you up for hunger and cravings the rest of the day. And, just may ruin an otherwise great day.

Lunch and Dinner

I have said this before. Most of us know what is healthy on the menu but we still continue to order the crappy stuff. Yes, I do believe in a treat and a cheat meal once or twice a week, but definitely not every night of your vacation. Some people eat and choose items off the menu like they are being sent to starvation camp when they get home. This is not an "all or nothing" deal. You've committed to eating healthy for a lifetime. Don't worry. The food will always be there whether you eat it all at once or space it out over a lifetime.

Ok, back to my point. First, items on the menu that you know are drenched in heavy sauces are an instant No-No. Fettuccine Alfredo? Come on now. Are you serious? Can you get the steak, veggies and salad instead and be just as happy? Or, the Chicken Cacciatore with a side of broccoli rabe? (Yes, we're at an Italian restaurant). Often times, our taste buds are really just as happy with a healthier choice. No, this is not deprivation. This is choosing to feel good, be healthy and eat good food at the same time. Comprende?

 

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Desserts

I love desserts too and I will definitely get myself a yummy piece of apple pie or chocolaty treat while I am away. But if the piece of dessert is bigger than the size of my head, I will not eat the whole thing. There is no need. My taste buds are just as happy with a few bites (and my body is happier too). Remember, we're not going to starvation camp after this. Trust me, there is enough apple pie, chocolate or (insert your favorite dessert here) to have a small amount at a time for the rest of your life.

The Trolls

The who? Yes, you know who the trolls are. Those people who tell you to "just eat what you want", or "don't torture yourself". These people always seem to come out of hiding when dining with you at a restaurant. (They are also present at parties and family functions. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid). Don't let anybody else tell you that taking care of yourself and feeling great is a bad thing. I don't mean to talk bad about your family and friends, but chances are they are not too thrilled with their current weight and health and really just upset that you actually started to eat healthy and take control of your life.

Remember, there is no need to avoid restaurants and vacations (but please do avoid fast food joints). You just need to focus on the healthier options and have a great time!

Here's one of my favorite desserts, Chocolate Pudding, completely Diet Solution approved, that you can easily make at home:

 

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Healthy Tips for your Children

Childhood obesity has now become a worldwide problem.  More and more children these days are suffering the same symptoms and diseases that were once only seen in adults; heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, to name just a few.

The good news and the bad news is that our children mimic everything we do. Your habits will sometimes become their habits (scary huh?).

I'll never forget when my old neighbors said to me, "Isabel, our 10 year old woke up this morning and ate leftover chicken and veggies for breakfast, instead of the bagels we bought. I wonder where she got that idea?" I loved it!

When parents bring in their children into my office wondering why their child's weight has now become a health hazard, I always have to ask, "How is the whole family taking care of themselves or better yet, how are you taking care of yourself?"

I know this is a tough question to answer but these little people are looking to us for their answers and many times our actions speak louder than words. We are their role models.

So as a mommy, daddy, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa or just neighborhood friend, what can you do today to be a healthy influence to a child?

1. Develop one new health habit each week that involves your child. Want to go for a walk with Mommy to make our legs and our heart strong? Want to pack carrots in your lunch bag and see how many veggies we can both eat? Want to pick a healthy recipe and cook together? The options are endless. Make sure your child feels like he or she is an important part of your healthy life.

2. Let's try and stay away from words like "weight loss" or "weight gain" and definitely avoid the word "fat". Make it about "HEALTH". We are going to take a family walk so we can all be healthy together. These foods make my heart and my muscles strong. Want to see Mommy or Daddy do pushups? Cool, right? Let your child know that being healthy is fun.

3. Be the healthy change you wish to see in your child. Show your child that genetics, time, and nothing else can get in the way of you getting healthy. Work on your biggest health obstacle and chances are you will see the same change in your child.

Commit today to good health not only for yourself but for those wonderful little people in your life that look up to you and emulate you.

Take the first step towards health and weight loss with these healthy nutrition meal plans in The Diet Solution Program.

Take advantage of this free nutrition report and get started on your health goals right now.

 

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How Artificial Sweeteners Are Making You Fat

In my practice as a nutritionist and personal trainer, new clients are always coming to me telling me they are doing everything they are "supposed" to be doing, but still, do not lose weight. Of course, this is frustrating. Losing weight is hard enough, and to change your eating habits and still see no results, that's even more frustrating.

Why do these people not lose weight? If I had to pick the most common reason why most people's efforts have proved no results, I would say it is the deception of artificial sweeteners and processed diet foods. Yes, you heard right. It is the diet coke, diet snacks, processed foods and artificial sweetener in your coffee that is keeping you fat.

How is this so?

Artificial sweeteners overwhelm your liver

Your liver is your largest internal organ, and it's responsible for an astonishing variety of life-sustaining and health-promoting tasks, including those that make healthy weight loss and weight management possible. Integral to countless metabolic processes, the liver supports the digestive system, controls blood sugar and regulates fat storage. One of your liver's most important functions, and the most crucial to your weight loss, is chemically breaking down everything that enters your body, from healthy vegetables, to not so healthy fast food, from healthy water to not so healthy soda.

It's your liver's job to distinguish between the nutrients you need to absorb and the dangerous or unnecessary substances that must be filtered out of your bloodstream. But when the liver is clogged and overwhelmed with toxins, like artificial sweeteners, it can't do a very effective job of processing nutrients and fats. If it can not process the nutrients and fats that your body needs, this will cause you to gain weight or will prevent you from losing weight.

Your liver also produces bile, a crucial substance for detoxifying our bodies. It is the job of bile to help our bodies break down the fats we need and to assimilate fat-soluble vitamins. But when our bile becomes overly congested with the toxins it's trying to filter out, it simply can't function properly. It becomes thick, viscous and highly inefficient in breaking down fats. The result: You are more likely to gain weight and to have a greater difficulty losing it. So the more toxic your body becomes, the more difficulty you'll have losing weight and keeping it off because your liver just can not work properly to break down fat.

 

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Are artificial sweeteners considered a toxin?

What qualifies something as a "toxin"? A toxin is anything that your body does not recognize as a natural food source. The reason why artificial sweeteners have "zero" calories is because your body does not recognize them as a food source. For example, the chemical process to make Splenda (sucralose) alters the chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is somehow converted to a completely different molecule than sugar. This type of "fake" sugar molecule does not occur in nature and therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly metabolize it. This is how the makers of Splenda claim that it has zero calories, because in theory it should not be digested or metabolized by the body (Although it has been shown that some people's body do absorb up to 15% of the artificial sweeteners they ingest). So the more artificial sweeteners that you consume in one day, the more you are overwhelming your liver with toxins and the less able it is to do its job of processing fat. And what happens if the liver can't do its job? You can't lose weight or worse yet, you gain weight.

What if you don't use artificial sweeteners? Don't be fooled. Almost every diet product on the market has some kind of artificial sweetener added to it. Even some children's snacks are now being made with sucralose (Splenda) and most flavored waters contain sucralose or aspartame.

Now add up how many things you eat in one day that contain some form of artificial sweetener. The list may be very long. How overwhelmed do you think your liver is? Does it have the ability to work properly? Even if you keep your calories at bay and only drink Diet Coke with your meals, will you truly get down to the weight that you want, and stay there? It has been in my experience that the answer is "no" and until you are ready to commit yourself to a healthy way of eating, weight loss will always be a constant struggle.

What else do sweeteners do?

Sweeteners increase appetite

Artificial sweeteners tell your taste buds that, "sweet stuff has arrived," which to the brain means, "nutrition has arrived." When artificial sweetened drink or food reaches the small intestine, the receptors find no nutrition. A message is then sent back to the brain saying, "We've been tricked-there's no nutrition here." The appestat (the part of your brain that triggers satiety) sends the message to "keep eating because we need nutrition to help process all this fake food and run your body." So even after you eat a good portioned healthy meal (along with your diet coke) you still feel like your starving all day, or you become very hungry soon after. Your healthy eating efforts may be sabotaged if you continue to feel hungry all day. No one likes to feel hungry so you continue to eat more food until you feel satisfied, which in your effort to lose weight, may just be too much.

Sweeteners Increase our Sweet Tooth

Saccharin (Sweet n Low) is 300 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame (Equal) is 200 times sweeter than sugar and sucralose (splenda) is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Such sweeteners can only increase our sweet tooth and increase our taste of sweet things. If you can never get rid of your sugar cravings, any healthy eating plan will be difficult because you will constantly be craving "sweet". Artificial sweeteners have also shown to promote the same blood sugar fluctuations as regular sugar, which, again will bring on "sugar lows" which will increase appetite and cravings. This is not to say, that something sweet now and again is not ok, but it is those people who can not control their sugar cravings that are being sabotaged by these artificial sweeteners.

What are some alternatives to sweeteners?

Giving up sugar and artificial sweeteners may be difficult, especially if you are accustomed to everything having such a sweet taste. A wonderful alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners is an herb called Stevia. Stevia is an extraordinarily sweet herb, 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is almost calorie-free, so it is perfect for people who are watching their weight. Unlike sugar, it does not trigger a rise in blood sugar so you will not get a sudden burst of energy followed by fatigue and a need for another "fix". It increases energy and aids digestion by stimulating the pancreas. Stevia also presents great advantages over saccharine and other artificial sweeteners in that it is not toxic. Stevia is a plant that is found in nature and is not man-made in a laboratory. Stevia can be found at almost all health food stores such as Whole Foods, and is listed under the "supplement" section. Stevia can be used exactly like sugar and artificial sweeteners to sweeten drinks and it can even be used in baking.

If weight loss or staying away from sweets has always been a problem for you, take notice of how much artificial sweetener you have been ingesting. That just may be the culprit. Make a resolution this year to give up the "fake" stuff and stick to natural alternatives like Stevia. You will not only be helping your weight loss efforts but you will also be benefiting your health.

If you or someone you know is addicted to sweet drinks such as sodas or beverages sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners, try this "Tea Juice" and you will see that weaning yourself off sugar or sweeteners will be much easier.

Tea Juice

  • 5-6 bags of any caffeine free herbal tea of your choice (green tea, peach tea, berry tea, orange zinger, lemon, etc.)
  • 3 quarts water
  • Stevia powder or liquid to taste

Boil tea bags in a large pot. Add 1-2 full teaspoons of stevia while still hot. (You may add more or less, based on your desired sweetness) Let tea cool and then transfer to the refrigerator in Ice Tea pitchers or individual size water bottles.

This drink is a great replacement to Diet Coke or Diet Snapple.

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