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Friday, May 24, 2013

Detox Diets - Necessary Or Not

Detox is the diet trend of the decade, and it feels like every other week we’re hit with a new variation purporting to ‘cleanse’ the body of toxins: the Lemon Detox Diet, the African Mango Diet, the Quick Trim Fast Cleanse, the Coconut Detox. And with a string of glowing celebrity endorsements along with promises of shedding kilos, clearing skin and increasing energy levels, who wouldn’t be tempted to give it a try?

But how do these detox diets work?

The basis of all detoxes is the idea that our bodies are being inundated daily with toxins from food and the environment, and must be purged by eliminating certain food groups as well as abstaining from alcohol and smoking. Supposedly, the elimination of these toxins will result in weight loss and an overall feeling of wellbeing.

Although they vary in structure, detoxes largely work on a basis of eliminating certain food groups, such as processed foods, animal products, caffeine, alcohol, salt or sugar. Meanwhile, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and herbal teas are generally allowed in abundance, though some diets call for specially made juices or drinks to be consumed in place of some or all meals. At the end of the detox period, which usually spans about a week, the dieter resumes their normal eating habits.
Now, it’s logical to imagine that adhering to a strictly limited, low-kilojoule diet will result in weight loss, particularly if the subject is overweight to begin with. It’s also logical to expect such losses to be only short-term, and that once the subject returns to their usual diet any lost weight will be quickly regained. Unless the dieter comes away from their detox with a greater appreciation for healthier foods and a commitment to improving their everyday eating habits, a week’s abstinence is unlikely to have any impact in the long run.

As for the actual theory behind the detox – it’s less than sound. In fact, the body already has a number of systems in place to remove toxins. The liver, kidneys, skin, intestines and lymphatic system all work to detox our bodies daily, and they do a great job of it. No amount of dietary ‘purging’ is going to improve these functions.

Proponents will cite a variety of side effects as evidence that the detox ‘working’: Headaches, for instance; bad breath, bodily aches, reduced bloating or glowing skin. But while such symptoms may well result from the ‘cleanse’, they’re not necessarily the positive signs dieters are looking for. Headaches may be better explained by withdrawals from caffeine, while bad breath may be a direct result of the body shifting into ‘ketosis’ – a state induced by starvation, in which the metabolism slows and fat is burned for energy. As for reduced bloating and glowing skin? Upping your intake of fibre-rich fruit and veg is sure to do that, detox or not.

Of course, it can’t be all bad; certainly reducing the amount of processed foods, increasing fruit, vegetables and exercise in your lifestyle is a positive decision. However, severely cutting down on food groups is not only pointless, it’s downright unhealthy. A great review on the validity of detox diets in Dame Magazine goes as far as to say that eating nothing but white bread and steak would be healthier than undergoing a ‘cleanse’, reasoning that the former at least contributes carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Another review, featured in Choice Magazine this year, investigated 13 diets, assigning each to a volunteer and seeking their feedback. Not one volunteer felt that they would repurchase the programs – some of which cost upwards of $80 for a week – and although some reported feeling healthier at the conclusion of their respective diets, they admitted this was likely due to the general improvement in their eating, cutting down on sugar and processed foods while increasing their fruit and veggie intake.
Choice’s piece raises another noteworthy point – just how much people are willing to spend for a miracle cure. According to the article, it’s predicted Australians will spend around $827.1 million on diet products and weight loss tips in this year alone. That’s a pretty frightening figure, particularly when you take into account the weird and wacky ingredients contained in many of these products – bitter orange, taurine, laxatives, silibin and chitosan, among others. At best, they’re entirely ineffectual. At worst? In certain cases, consuming some of these additives in excess can result in fainting, heart attack or strokes, as well as interfering with certain medications, such as the common blood thinner warfarin.

With that in mind, it’s also interesting to note that only a few of the detox products reviewed by Choice are listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Australian government body in charge of regulating medicinal products. For this reason, the majority of these are freely available to anybody – convenient, yes, but what this also means is that many who undertake detoxes are entering into unverified programs without needing to seek out professional advice.

So, to detox or not to detox?

My best advice is save your money and focus on being healthy the majority of the time, rather than taking a week to atone for a multitude of lifestyle sins!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weight Loss – How to Effectively Lose Weight

If you have undergone a weight loss plan yet failed to lose weight, there must be something wrong from the methods that you used. This is commonly happening within the circle of those who wants to lose weight. They wonder why they could not keep up and fail miserably. The number one and most important key to losing weight is the calories. 

You must be thinking “I have been doing that for weeks yet there has been no improvement!” Everyone says that but are you sure you know what you are doing? Calories are energy in a form of food. When taken excessively, you gain weight. When taken less, the body takes energy from the fat stores. But you should know the proper amount of calories needed by your body in order to function well. The amount of calories needed by your body is determined by calculating your body’s BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. 

Take for example the body needs 2000 calories per day. If you give it the exact amount, the body gets their energy to function from the calories you have taken in. When exceeded, like 3000, the 2000 is usually taken in while the extra 1000 is stored in fat, lying dormant. This is the process of gaining weight like how we see the people of the world today. When taken fewer calories like 1000, the body will need other sources to keep the body active. The other 1000 that is needed is taken from the fat that is stored inside the body. 

To calculate for your BMR:

For men – first multiply these separately: 6.8 x year of age, 12.7 x height (inches), and 6.23 x weight (pounds). Add all the results then add another 66 to it.

For women – first multiply these separately: 4.7 x year of age, 4.7 x height (inches), and 4.35 x weight (pounds). Add all the results then add another 655 to it. 

Once you have finished calculating your BMR, you will easily be able to plan out the kind of quick weight loss that you want. The quick way to plan out the necessary weight you want to lose is by multiplying your BMR by 7, which stands for the days per week. With the result of the weekly BMR, pick a specific fat in pounds that you want to lose within the week. Once decided with a number, multiply this by 3500 and then subtract this to the amount of calories you want to burn. This will surely make you lose weight if you stick to it.