The Five Healthiest Food Items for Weight Loss

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I recently read an article which talks about the healthiest and unhealthiest food items when it comes to weight loss. The unhealthy list was predictable, but the healthy food items list had a couple of surprises. The article was based on a scientific study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Healthiest food items –

Yoghurt – 

Nuts – 

Fruit – 

Whole Grains – 

Vegetables – 

So Yoghurt, Nuts, Fruit, Whole Grains, and Veggies it is !

If you think about it, all of these items are a part of the traditional diet of some country or the other, and fast foods don’t contain any of them in large quantities.

Do yourself a favour –  and the next time you feel hungry, pick up any one of these items and remain healthy !

(Images via – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cacik-1.jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:W_Nuss_Gr_99.jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Culinary_fruits_front_view.jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USDA_wheat.jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_farmer%27s_market_near_the_Potala_in_Lhasa.jpg)

Midnight Snacks

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Midnight snacking is unhealthy, but we all end up doing it, and gain a lot of weight as a result.

Midnight snacks are not good for you, even if you’re eating the healthiest of food items. However, you can prevent it from causing too much harm by consuming some foods and avoiding others –

 

What foods to avoid ? Biscuits, soft drinks and ice-creams. I know this because I once gained 5 Kgs in a month just by having a few biscuits and a Coke as my midnight snack !

 

What foods to have instead ?  All foods that are low on calories, and low on processed carbs. Soup, milk, nuts, maybe an egg – all are okay.

Is there a health tip you’d like to share ? Please share your experiences in the comments below !

(Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Milk.jpg)

Yoga postures for the back

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Back pain is one of the biggest bane of modern jobs and lifestyle. But the truth is, most back issues can be avoided if you follow certain exercise regimes. Personally,  I think swimming is very good for the back, although there  are no research results to back up my claims.

However, Yoga is the one exercise form about which I’m convinced. You know why ? After practicing Yoga rigorously for a few months, my hunch backed grandmother now again has a straight back, and I too found my persistent back pains gone after one of my instructors in the gym taught us Yoga postures to stretch our backs.

Without further ado, here are the three Yoga poses you should practice twice a week to help you with your back.  Unlike a lot of other blogs, I don’t want to go into huge descriptions without photographs. Therefore, I’ll limit the description to 2-3 sentences, and let the pictures guide you.

 

Bhujangasana

Line down on your stomach with your hands in front of you. Now push your torso up using your hands, while letting the lower body remain on the floor. Now look at the ceiling. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, come down, relax for a few seconds and repeat.

Dhanurasana

Lie down on your stomach with your hands in front of you. Fold  your legs from your knees, and stretch your arms back to hold your feet with your hands. Now lift your head, torso and legs up, with the body resting only on the pelvis and stomach. Look ahead. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, come down, relax for a few seconds and repeat.

Shavasana

This is what you’re supposed to do right at the very end. Lie down on your back, with your arms resting lightly by your sides.  Close your eyes and relax for two minutes.

(Images via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shavasana.jpg,

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dhanurasana.jpg,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bhujangasana.jpg)

Swimming

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Swimming is one of the most popular and refreshing exercises. However, a lot of people complain that while swimming makes them feel fresh and healthy, they are unable to see any tangible health benefits like weight loss, muscle tone or increase in stamina. The reason is, that swimming is a unique exercise form, and needs to be done properly to extract maximum benefits. Today, let us discuss how you can benefit from swimming.

Benefits

Swimming, if done properly, is a great toning exercise, and also a great supplement to other exercise forms. If you swim four times a week, you’ll get a more toned, agile body with greater heart rate and stamina. However, if you combine it with aerobics or cardio, it will help you burn more fat, and if you combine it with heavy weight lifting, it will get you better muscle tone.

Moreover, swimming improves your looks. It makes you look fitter, gives you better skin, and helps you look young.

Style and Technique

There are a few things beginners  should take care of while swimming  to gain maximum benefit –

– Do not take more than 1 minute breaks. It is okay if you get tired and need lots of breaks,  just try not to take long breaks.

– Try to engage your lower body as much as possible. Your leg movements should be proper, and your abs and core should be engaged. Try swimming the first 10-15 minutes using just your lower body. Engage your arms after that but keep your lower body active.

– Pay attention to technique. Don’t waste your exercise time swimming the wrong way. People who splatter too much end up getting tired without burning much calories. A proper swim is smooth, silent and efficient. Watch the video below, and other videos on Youtube and get your technique right.

(Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Front_Crawl_4704.JPG)

Fibre

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There are some health conditions – which can be attributed purely to lack of fibre in your diet. Gas, bloating, constant hunger, constipation, flabby deposits of fat, oily skin – all can be avoided if you have enough fiber.

While fibre has no direct connection with weight loss, it does help keep your stomach full for long periods of time, which would help you avoid overeating. In fact, I have a personal theory – anytime you  feel like eating any kind of junk, first eat a fibrous item. This will suppress the instant craving, and limit the amount of junk you eat. Moreover, it also helps you look younger and fitter.

For those who keep getting pimples or have oily skin – have more water, and have more fibre !



Benefits of Fibre –

– It keeps you full for longer periods of time, thus helps you avoid overeating.

– Most fibrous foods are low on calories.

– Fibre helps you regulate your digestive system.

– Keeps your skin young and fresh.

Lowers the risk of heart attack and diabetes.

Foods that contain fibre –

-Veggies

-Beans

-Nuts

-Brown bread

-Fruits

Weighing Machine

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A major reason for not being able to maintain fitness is carelessness. We get busy with something, don’t think about our fitness for a week, and BOOM – before we know it we gain 3 Kgs.

There’s a simple solution to this problem – get a weighing scale !

 

Around 3 years ago, I bought a weighing scale. It was an impulse buy – I got it cheap, and I decided it won’t hurt. It ended up being a very helpful accessory to my weight loss program (I ended up losing 15 Kgs in 6 months).

 The key is to weigh yourself very frequently – more than thrice a day, and to not bother about minor weight changes (you tend to gain weight as the day progresses). You should only be bothered if you see any major weight gains. Don’t be scared of weighing yourself and again – do not stress yourself about daily ups and downs. The weighing scale is just a rough indicator of your fitness, and it’s purpose is to help you avoid sudden weight gains.

Here’s a summary of how to effectively use a weighing machine –

– Keep it at a place from where it is easily accessible. The best place generally is the Kitchen  – next to the fridge or wherever you have space. You can also keep it in your most used bathroom or in the sitting room. Don’t go for the bedroom – you want to relax and not think about the weight loss drama when you’re sleeping !

– Weigh yourself as frequently as possible. It will help you maintain a track of what is happening to your body. But don’t bother about the small changes in weight that happen whenever you eat food, drink water or take a dump.

– Encourage all your family members to weigh themselves regularly, and keep your friends and family updated about your weight. Having fitness buddies is always good.

– Don’t judge your fitness levels by how much you weigh. This is just a tool to help you avoid alarming increases in weight.

How to make a healthy burger

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Once out of curiosity, I searched Google for healthy burger recipes.  I saw tonnes of options there, but left disappointed. You know why ? They all missed the point !

What makes a burger unhealthy ? 

People have a lot of opinions on what makes a burger unhealthy – from the meat to the sauces. They’re mistaken in most cases. There are just two things that make burgers unhealthy –

1) Processed Carbs – The burger buns are huge ! You know why restaurants make them so huge ? Because flour is cheap and filling. If they thin out the bun and increase the meat and veggies, their costs will double, and the customer might not feel full !

2) Processed Oil – Burger patties in restaurants are generally fried. And fried in processed oil.

What are the alternatives ?

For the patty – The meat is not bad for your health (Go for a chickpea (chana) patty if you’re a veggie. DO NOT go for potato). Just do not use oil. Either grill it (healthier), or deep fry it in butter. Butter has this amazing quality  – combine it with a little bit of meat and it will keep you full for hours and hours.

For the bun – replace the bottom bun by a thin slice of brown bread. Do not use a top bun –  let the burger be open. However, if you really want to use a top covering, either use a thin cheese slice, or a thin slice of brown bread.

And yes – if you like veggies, use as many as possible. They’re all good for you !

Making these changes will increase the nutritional value of the burger, and actually make it a healthy meal !

Summary

There are just three things you need to follow –

Use as less bread as possible, and where needed, replace the bun by either brown bread or cheese.

DO NOT fry the patty in processed oil. Use butter or grill it.

Use as many veggies as possible.

Just to end this post, here’s a picture of what my perfect burger would look like. I’m happy that someone on the internet finally got it right !

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