Is it a good idea to fast in order to lose weight?

More and more nutrition experts and dieters are slowly finding out one ultimate truth, and that is that most diet programs and nutrition plans out there are really fundamentally flawed. They all assume that you need to eat specific foods in specific time intervals to lose weight, while the basic formula of weight loss really is “The less food you put in your stomach, the less will stay there”. So, the easiest and fastest way to lose weight really is to eat less, and one of the more practical ways to accomplish that is fasting. Humans have been fasting for thousands of years for various health and religious reasons, and if you are thinking about using the health benefits of fasting to help with your weight loss, the main idea to keep in mind is that you should really be using intermittent fasting to accelerate weight loss. So intermittent fasting is really best used when you reach a weight loss plateau, or want to give your regular died an extra kick. Additionally, fasting is really simple and can help you detox, give your digestive tract a much needed break and reset the metabolism that’s been getting in a rut lately.

The main idea behind intermittent fasting is to think of it as a break that you can take between regular meals. You can use intermittent fasting as a way to make your body start burning fat by building up hunger, or just as a quick and dirty detox treatment. Intermittent fasting is also a great way to compensate for overeating that usually takes place during the holidays, birthdays and other special occasions, when most of us, no matter how good our usual diet is will tend to slip up and overeat on bad and calorie rich foods.

The easiest way to accomplish an intermittent fasting cycle based diet is to not follow the usual three to five meals per day pattern that most people live buy. If you think about it, there’s really no reason to eat every few hours, and eating constantly will just make it easy to overeat. The fact is, man never evolved to eat that often, and most modern man eat so often that most of us have really forgotten how hunger feels like. So to put your metabolism back into order, and also in order to trigger fat burning processes in your body to help you with weight loss, you can try intermittent fasting. The easiest way to accomplish this is to have an early supper, and not eat again before going to bed. Upon waking up the next day, you would not consume your first meal until later than usual, often after 13h. This way, you use the time spent asleep as the central portion of your fast, and quite easily eschew eating for a minimum of fourteen to sixteen hours. This window of time has been empirically shown to provide the best effects with the least effort, and it’s pretty easy to maintain it as well.

Protein for Weight Loss

Protein does play an important role in a healthy program for weight loss.  It is considered as building blocks as it is responsible for the growth and repair of tissue (especially muscle tissue) in the body as well as functions as enzymes, as transport carriers and as some hormones.

We need to eat protein in a healthy program for weight loss as protein has the highest thermogenic effect if compared to carbohydrate and fat.  Thermogenic effect refers to the calorie-burning process of digestion. It occurs when protein molecule is simplified to amino acids, carbohydrate to simple sugar, and fat to fatty acids.

Studies revealed that it took as much as 30% of the calorie value of protein to break down to acid amino, while it took only 2% of the calorie value of fat to break down to fatty acids.  This means for every 1000 calories of protein we consume, 300 calories are used in digest process, leaving only 700 calories for body usage. Isn’t it pretty cool? We only have 700 calories counted for every 1000 calories of protein we eat.  That is why you must include protein in your program for weight loss.

Put in another word. You can say that your metabolic rate will increase by up to 5% in response to eating fats.  When you consume carbohydrates, your metabolic rate will increase by approximately 10%, and protein can increase your metabolism by up to a whopping 30%.  So, I guess you won’t feel surprised next time if you are asked to consume protein in your program for weight loss.

Do not get me wrong.  You are not supposed to discount your carbohydrates and fat consumption for optimal results in your program for weight loss.  Please refer my essential nutrients articles for suggested nutrients proportions in a healthy program for weight loss.

Protein we should consider in a program for weight loss

Let’s go further about protein if you want to include protein in your program for weight loss.  Proteins are complex organic compounds and broken down in either essential or nonessential amino acids. Our bodies need about 20 amino acids for the synthesis of its proteins. Our bodies do make some amino acids, but there are 9 amino acids we must obtain through food sources.

Proteins from animal sources, such as fish, eggs, milk, meat, and cheese are sources of complete proteins, as they provide all 9 indispensable amino acids in adequate amounts.  Proteins from plant-based sources such as grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds tend to be deficient in one or more of the indispensable amino acids and thus considered incomplete proteins.  Incomplete proteins can be combined to make a complete protein.  Rice and beans, milk and wheat cereal, and corn and beans are examples of these combinations.

It is recommended that people enrolled in a healthy program for weight loss consume about 25% to 30% protein in your daily food intake.  Please refer my essential nutrients article as you will get the answer there.

Conclusion: Include protein in your program for weight loss

Please include protein in your daily diet if you are serious in your program for weight loss.  Anyway, always remember to have a balance diet as well as right exercise in your program for weight loss.
Good luck in your program for weight loss!

Calculate Calories if You Want to Lose Weight

t is a common thing that we do not calculate calories consumed when we take food unless we are under a supervision of nutrition consultant or following strictly to a diet book.  In fact, most of the people do not even know how to calculate the calories intake.

Anyhow, when the moment you decide to lose weight, your world might change 360 degree especially in the food and nutrition aspect.  You might start to concern how to calculate calories intake so that you are not over eating.

If you totally don’t know how to calculate calories of food, please don’t give up.  You could first start with monitoring your calories intake by the below “3333” diet habit which recommends we take 3 servings of fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates in our daily meal with minimum fats. Some of my friends try it and find it helps a lot especially at the initial stage of adjusting their diet habit.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets the serving size for food categories above:

Fruits and Vegetables
A serving size equals to about one-half cup. Greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. One serving of sliced fruit is equal to one-half cup.  However, a single piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange counts as one serving.

1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, 1/4 cup cooked dry beans or 1 egg can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the protein (meat and beans) group. Adults are recommended to take 5 to 6 ounces of protein depending on their gender, age and level of physical activity.

Refer to grains here.  1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the grains group.  Adults are recommended to take 3 to 4 ounces of grains depending on their gender, age and level of physical activity.

Following “3333” diet habit, we do not calculate calories intake.  We do suggest consuming at least 3 servings of fruits and vegetables each every day, and not more than 3 servings of protein and carbohydrates each every day.  To make it easy, the serving size is roughly measured by palm and fist so that you can estimate your serving size of food even you don’t know how to calculate calories consumed.

(Note: A “cup” is referring to a  cup which is about 240ml or 8oz.  It is usually used to measure the serving size of fruits and vegetables while we use ounce to measure the serving size of carbohydrates and protein.)

Of course it is better if you calculate calories consumed daily if you have the knowledge.  Below are some of the common foods with calories stated to help you understand better about calories contained in each type of food.

Whole wheat toast: 80 calories per slice
Whole grain cereal: 100 to 120 calories per cup
Plain instant oatmeal packet: about 100 calories per packet
Brown rice: 110 calories per half cup
White rice: 80 calories per half cup
Doughnuts: about 200 calories each at Dunkin’ Donuts
Blueberry muffin: 470 calories each at Dunkin’ Donuts
Baked potatoes: 220 calories for medium-size
2 slices of a medium hand-tossed cheese pizza at Pizza Hut: 520 calories
Soup at restaurant:
Baked potato soup: 650 calories per serving
Cheddar broccoli soup: 460 calories per serving

Milk: 100 calories per cup
Poached eggs: 90 calories per egg
Egg white: 15 calories per egg white
Chicken: 48 calories per ounce
Shrimp: 26 calories per ounce
Beef: 60 calories per ounce
Fish: 30 to 45 calories per ounce

Mixed greens: 8 calories per cup
Steam carrot: 46 calories per cup
Steam broccoli 24 calories per cup
Steam spinach: 8 calories per cup
Tomato: 38 calories per cup

Fruit juices: 120 calories per cup
Medium-size orange: 65 calories each
Medium-size pear: 98 calories each
Medium-size banana: 105 calories each
Pineapple: 80 calories per cup
20 medium seedless grapes: 30 calories
Strawberries: 46 calories per cup
Raspberries: 62 calories per cup
Blueberries: 82 calories per cup

Peanut: 160 calories per ounce
2% cottage cheese: 180 calories per cup
Cheddar cheese: 110 calories per ounce

Light garlic sauce: 18 calories per tablespoon
Sugar: 46 calories per tablespoon
Peanut oil: 120 calories per tablespoon
Olive oil: 120 calories per tablespoon
Jam: 18 calories per teaspoon
Butter: 100 calories per tablespoon
Peanut butter: 95 calories per tablespoon
Satay peanut sauce: 150 calories per quarter cup
Mayonnaise: 100 calories per tablespoon
Mustard: 5 calories per tablespoon
Balsamic vinegar: 10 calories per tablespoon
Low fat dressing: 24 calories per tablespoon
Sour cream: 26 calories per tablespoon
Caesar dressing: 85 calories per tablespoon
Chili sauce: 26 calories per tablespoon
Oyster sauce: 23 calories per tablespoon

If you are not used to calculate calories intake everyday, at least use your hands to measure the portions if you serious enough to lose weight.  Of course, you need to change your lifestyle and have correct weight loss concept before any program for weight loss.