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Considering a Crash Diet for Christmas?

Crash Diet - Imrana NowCrash Diet - Imrana Then

It was the summer of 2003 and I was getting married. Both my sisters, having gained weight – one after having her kids and the other wanting to drop a few of her university pounds – decided they were going to go on the South Beach Diet so they could slim down for the wedding – something they thought I’d be better off not knowing about since they knew how much I was against crash diets…

So for 3 days they tried to follow the plan – a true CRASH DIET, which required them to ONLY drink pre-packaged South Beach Diet Juices 3 times a day and promised to help them lose 10 lb. in this time. And in their own words they were “MISERABLE”.

Crash Diet - Ayesha Then

like my hijaab handiwork in photoshop? ;)

Crash Diets - Ayesha Now
They were “STARVING” and their “breathe stank” and when they were finally done they each lost a paltry… well… 0 lb.  :(

SORRY – I really wish I could have told you they lost 15 lb. and felt fabulous but in my 15+ years of experience in the field (trust me I have met a LOT of people who have been trying to lose weight for a lifetime) I have yet to come across a single successful crash diet story.

Oh the Allure of Crash Diets

But I TOTALLY understand, especially when special occasions roll around – the urgent need to get to those weight goals ASAP. Yes I know that little voice in your head says “just this one time – and once we lose the weight we are going to eat healthy – PROMISE!” The money that you spend on the pills and the shakes and the bars – well even if it’s in the 100’s it seems worth it just to see those PROMISED numbers on the scale just in time for that special event you’ve been trying all year to prepare for by losing weight.

The problem is, not only do you NOT even get to your weight goal because well you “didn’t follow the impossible crash diet EXACTLY so you didn’t get those PROMISED results” – i.e. it’s your fault and not the false advertising’s, and on top of it you have just crushed your will power and self-confidence in the process.

The sad thing is no matter how many times I say this, I always here the same thing “Isn’t there something I can do short-term to get QUICK weight loss?”

Do Crash Diets Work?

So here’s the thing – you CAN lose weight fast short-term BUT:

  1. this way of eating IS NOT sustainable – and if you do continue eating this way for any length of time you’ll run into nutritional deficiencies
  2. You will feel hungrier than normal because you WILL be cutting MORE calories than is recommended

That being said, following a crash diet type plan SHORT TERM can help you slim down in time for whatever it is you want to slim down for. So Ayesha – my dietitian sister (YES she did that South Beach Diet)/business partner and I put our heads together and decided this year to give you what you’ve been asking for!

Introducing the Super Fast Slim Down

So we designed a Low Calorie Diet (LCD) Plan keeping balanced nutrition in mind frankly because we are sick and tired of feeding good people like you to the Crash Diet SHARKS or allowing you to feed yourselves to them anyways… 

And since this plan has our philosophy of eating healthy for a lifetime riding on it – we wanted to make sure that it at least meets as many  of the nutrient requirements – like making sure you get at least 60g of protein – as possible. So we, plus Imrana – my twin (who also is a South Beach Diet alumni) – all became our own guinea pigs and tried it out on ourselves for a week to make sure it was doable and TASTEY (since as our 2 crash diet experts’ biggest criticism of these plans is they are BLAH) before we put it out there for you to try.

Our crash diet results?

  • Ayesha start weight: 142.3; end weight 140.6 TOTAL LOST = 1.7 lb. (she continued for another week and was 138 so her GRAND TOTAL LOST in 2 weeks = 4.3 lb.)
  • Imrana start weight 132.0; end weight 129.4 TOTAL LOST = 2.6 lb. *she just finished weaning her son off breast feeding (she also continued to follow it for another week and was 127 so her GRAND TOTAL LOST in 2 weeks = 5 lb.)
  • Me start weight 120.3; end weight 118.2 TOTAL LOST = 2.1 lb.

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Now considering none of us had much weight to lose I think it worked well. But the even better part is – and I’ll be honest and say we did feel a bit hungry by the end of the night but nothing a pot of green tea couldn’t cure, mind you – we were definitely not ravenous and the meals and snacks themselves were quite satisfying.

Enter to Win – It’s FREE

And here’s the best part – WE ARE GIVING A FREE SUPER SLIM DOWN AWAY!! Just in time for you to feel spectacular for the holidays – all you have to do is register on the right :)

REMEMBER: this is a temporary plan so it’s NOT meant to be done long term! And I would HIGHLY advise you to move on to healthy eating following this diet so you don’t gain the weight back and continue towards achieving your longterm goals.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! 

P.S. – both Ayesha and Imrana as you can see by their weights (and in the picture) have lost the weight and kept it off for good :)

My #1 Weight Loss Tip for Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day everyone :) I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted – 2016 had me hitting the ground running and it’s been an adrenaline rush so far – I hope your year has started out on a really good note as well!

So here we are – month 2 of the new year, a time when those New Year’s resolutions are either coming along really well or you may be looking at climbing back on the wagon… Either way I hope the advice I’m sharing today will help you get/stay motivated…

Don’t worry – I’m not going to ruin your chocolate/gourmet dessert eating day – like many of my weight loss tips, this one has more to do with your head/heart than some quick fix extreme dieting solution that will get you in your pre-wedding attire for one night and one night only – something I’m not a big advocate of in general 😉

This one – quite appropriately – is about love, and it’s simply to:

Valentines Day - Remember-to-love-yourself

Too many of us are so busy loving all the important people in our lives that we forget to love us. That and our society tends to make us believe that loving oneself is a vain and narcissistic thing to do and thinking about what you want is the same as being selfish.

NOT TRUE! In fact it can be quite the opposite – simply because if you don’t make time to love yourself enough to know who you are and what you want – nobody else can either. Worst case scenario – you’ll end up trying to be someone that you don’t want to be. And I say this from experience – I’ve done a lot of self-reflecting and growing in the past 6 years, something I was forced to do because I went through a divorce. Mind you this isn’t something I usually talk about – especially on a day that celebrates couples – but I did want to share my insight today, because it’s not about relationships  as much as it is about being able to take a long hard look at yourself and accepting the person who’s peering back at you.

Part of the reason I dropped the ball in my marriage (it wasn’t all my fault of course ;)) is because I lost track of me and what I wanted from me.

So what I have learned from hindsight is that self-love is essential for success! The good part is being able to understand why I failed gives me the opportunity to pick myself up, brush myself off and try again.

To be honest I don’t think I’d be where I am today – putting my dreams in motion – had I not had the experiences I’ve had…

Positive Self-Affirmations are good for you

OK so what I’d like you to do today is to say the following to yourself:

“I accept me for me – I am not perfect, there’s good and bad things about me but I embrace the good and am willing to acknowledge and change the things I can”

It’s a self-affirmation – one you can follow with a “because I am…” (and then fill in the blank or several blanks for that matter) with a positive statement that speaks to you about who you are

I know it may feel weird, but once you acknowledge that it’s OK to be kind to yourself, you will be able to believe that you DESERVE everything you are trying to achieve… like the weight loss you committed to at the beginning of the year for example.

Now go enjoy Valentine’s Day and all the goodies it brings and then get back into gear by following your self-affirmation with  some goals and how you plan to achieve them in the upcoming days, weeks and months!

P.S. You can learn more about self-affirmations here:

Do Self-Affirmations Work?

3 Weight Loss Tips for the Holidays

weight loss tips for the holidaysEveryone who knows me well, knows that I really LOVE this time of the year because of the good cheer it brings with it – I mean it feels like from now until New Year’s most people shift into their happy-holiday-moods which tends to be contagious :)

And I totally get that there is this longing to indulge in all the seasonal treats too.. after all they’re only available around this time of year, and then there’s that nippiness in the air that seems to really stoke the appetite fire as well!

But it’s also at this time of year, when we start thinking of being with family and friends and more importantly dressing up, that the little voice in our head starts us fretting at the idea of fitting into that perfect outfit we’ve picked out for the occasion.

Now I know there’s only a few more weeks before Christmas, so I thought I’d share my most effective top 3 weight loss tips for the holidays with you, which should help you slim down just in time to avoid those dreaded spanx:

My 3 Most Effective Weight Loss Tips for the Holidays

 

1. Drink up

water that is… in the form of broth-based soups, teas, or straight up as is. You see as the weather cools down, we tend to forget to keep hydrated and often don’t feel as thirsty as we should. But the worst thing about it is, a lot of the times we end up confusing hunger for thirst which means we’re eating more even though we don’t need to! Solution: keep a measured bottle with you and make sure to get at least your 2L in every day from now until X-Mas. You’ll be happily surprised with the results, I promise.

 

2. Step away from the whipped cream

I know all those gorgeous hot drinks are calling your name at Starbucks, and I say go ahead and treat yourself… A BIT, that is. What I mean by that is, some of those concoctions have more calories than you should eat in a day! Solution: think about skipping the whipped cream and sprinkles and consider asking for just one pump of the flavour syrup when you place your next order. I’m not one to really advocate counting calories, but in this case – when we are looking at foods that aren’t all that nourishing – I’d say aim to keep your additional treats in the 200 kcal/day zone from now on, whether that’s an indulgent hot beverage, cake or other seasonal delight

 

3. Up your feel good endorphins

I know it’s the end of the year and it’s crunch time… not to mention the cold may stop you from being as active as you usually are… but this is the time when you really need to up your game in the exercise department – and the only way to do that is to COMMIT to doing at least 30 min of something (yoga, dancing, walking, treadmill-ing…) EVERY DAY! Coz you really don’t want the end-of-the-year-stress to = binging (the other way to up those feel goo hormones). And YES you really DO HAVE a 30 MIN window you can devote to yourself in a 24 hr timeframe. Solution: check out some of these super quick workouts you can do in the comfort of your office/living room or where ever you like really:

 

To give you a little background, this 10-30 min workout is by one of my favorite youtubers when it comes to exercise – Cassey Ho. What I love about her workouts are they are moderately intense and can really be done anywhere… and this SnowBunny Blast video is NO exception:

 

 

Adriene Mishler is another youtuber that I adore when it comes to workouts. What I love about yoga is it feels much less intense but it is a real workout, not just for the body but for the mind – and Yoga with Adriene certainly captures that essence. If you’re having the winter blues don’t reach for the sugar just yet, try this practice instead:

 

 

And for those of you who are looking for high intensity, this is the workout that’s calling your name, it’s 15 min so you can handle the burn:

 

When It’s Worth Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss

Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss - HelpAs a dietitian, who also happens to be a family member and a friend, I often find myself in an interesting position in my personal circles. The position in which people often want to talk to me about nutrition and get advice on losing weight, only to tell me they know all there is to know about eating healthy.

You know I get it, it seems really simple – calories in have to be less than calories out and eating healthy and adding activity are key.  And to be fair, thanks to all the great information available on the subject these days, to a certain extent we all do know a lot about nutrition. In fact I know a whole bunch of extremely nutrition savvy individuals who have learned everything about nutrition based purely on their own interests. And I also know a lot of people who have decided to lose weight and then done just that in a way that would make any dietitian proud.

However, there are times when even though you know everything there possibly is to know about something – you’d still benefit from having an expert on your team. Just like you would consider getting a photographer for your wedding or seeing the doctor when you need antibiotics, seeing a dietitian for weight loss could just be the key to success you’ve been looking for.

That’s because while it sounds easy, we all know that there is much much much more to losing weight than just what goes into your mouth and how much you’re working out (like just not having enough time or not knowing what to make at 5:00 when the kids are crying for dinner, etc.).  In my opinion, and I’m not saying this because I am one, there is nothing quite like having a personal nutrition expert – in particular, a dietitian – to guide you through your daily food challenges.

At the same time, when you’re paying out of pocket, which is usually the case, it may seem like an expensive luxury with the average cost per session for a dietitian running between AED 250-500 (roughly $70-140 USD) and the average weight loss package requiring that you have 12 consultations here in Dubai.

Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss - Keep Calm

When Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss is Worth It

So when should you consider shelling out the cash for counselling?

If you:

  • have been planning/trying to lose weight for a long period of time (you need to judge what this length of time is for you) without results.
  • have lost and gained the same weight over and over again.
  • are willing to put in the work but aren’t sure where that work needs to be put in exactly.
  • have a medical condition (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, PCOS, hypothyroidism) which makes it more challenging for you to figure out what you need to do.

There are 2 caveats though:

  1. An expert can give you the road map but you’re the one who has to do the work to get there – and it will require you to make changes; so do it when you are mentally READY to put in the time and embrace change.
  2. Not all nutrition experts are alike – and not all of us have the same experience or expertise or personalities so you need to find the right fit for you. My clients have told me I’m really nice, I’m pretty firm and everything in between. And while some of us need the nice guy others prefer having a drill sergeant. The important thing is you need to be able to connect with someone that you can develop a comfortable relationship with.

The reason I say this is because, while I’ve helped my clients lose a little over 6,000 lb. and counting so far in my career, not everyone I’ve worked with has had success – mainly due to one of these 2 reasons. That being said, I personally feel that just like I work hard for my money, my clients should see/feel that their money and time are also being well spent, which is why I offer a 30-day money back guarantee and a free initial consultation. And I am sure there are other nutrition experts who do the same too. So make sure to ask!

At the end of the day, when you add up all the money you’ve spent on supplements, diets, books, exercise equipment, etc. as well as all the times you were determined to lose weight or fit into that dream dress or pair of jeans you love without success; you may just feel that the money and time you spend with a dietitian will in fact be worth it for you.

The best part about seeing a dietitian for weight loss in my opinion is, unlike solutions like healthy meal delivery, you get to take all the valuable knowledge you learn in the process with you. After all it’s like the saying goes “give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

PS. Don’t forget to check and see if your medical insurance provider covers the services of a dietitian as this is becoming more common now.

Say NO! to Dieting this 2013

Happy 2013 everyone! Yes it is that time again – the New Year’s resolutions have been made, many of which have to do with weight loss of course, so it’s no wonder that the web is littered with advice and promotions to help you drop those additional pounds…

But now that the month has kicked off with the kids back in school and the holidays officially done with for a while, many of us are already struggling to get started OR maybe even thinking about throwing in the towel! One of the biggest problems with dieting is the simple fact that it DOES NOT WORK. For as long as Fad Diets have been around, to be honest, in the 10+ years that I have worked in this profession, I have yet to come across 1 person who went on a diet, lost a ton of weight and then managed to keep it off.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of people who have lost weight and kept it off – but these people DON’T do it by DIETING, they DO IT by making changes to their eating and activity habits which become a permanent part of their lifestyles (whether or not their success involves incorporating practices from popular diets like Atkins or South Beach or DUKKAN).

Take my sister Ayesha for example, she was always picked on for being the chubby kid in school – but that all changed when she hit High School – because the prior summer she finally decided to change her eating habits (choosing to eat healthier and watching her portions) – and blossomed into this extremely beautiful teenager. Ayesha maintained a healthy weight up until her pregnancies when she again gained a LOT of weight… and low and behold, with the weight gain came the fad diets (in fact she recently told me about all the crazy things she tried – like the Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle Diet and the South Beach Diet – behind my back because she knew I would disapprove). But a few years ago, she recommitted to eating healthy, walking and taking on yoga and again she is back to a healthy weight and is maintaining it.

So my advice to you this year is to SAY NO to DIETING! I know it’s enticing when you see weight loss supplements and diets that promise to help you drop 10 pounds in just 2 days, but I can guarantee that you will be much more successful if instead of investing in these marketing ploys, you take small steps in the right direction that you think you will be able to maintain for at least  the next year.

I want you to think long term because as much as we all want to lose 5 pounds every week; or think we will make it to the gym for 2 hours everyday – being unrealistic about our goals is a sure way to guarantee failure as well.

So instead:

1) Focus on making healthy choices over worrying about the scale – It’s actually the things you do everyday (like choosing more wholesome foods and making sure your not skipping meals) that cause the shift on the scale after all.

2)  Set realistic goals – It is important to think about the time you have and make health commitments based on these. For e.g. walking for 45 min 5 days a week beats going to the gym for an hour for 2 days and then not being able to make it the rest of the week.

3) Take baby steps – Like they say “A journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step”. But more importantly, if say you have a goal of losing 20 lb, you also need to have a plan of how you are going to get there. If you think baby steps on a week by week basis and get the tools and support you need to achieve these goals, in 5 months you’ll have reached that goal!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy Year!

 

 

 

What do Ramadan and being a Skinny Food Addict have in common?

Click here to buy an Iftar meal for someone in need

We went to an Iftar buffet the other day, the food was delicious and plentiful and as you might imagine I couldn’t resist trying a bit of everything until I was at the point where I thought for sure I’d pop! I honestly didn’t feel so good afterwards … Worse than this was the fact that when you’re fasting you end up doing a lot of eating with your eyes so I ended up having to throw away a bunch of food too, which really defeats the spirit of Ramadan :(

Someone recently told me that in Dubai alone 50,000 tonnes of food were thrown away during Ramadan last year (don’t quote me on this figure as its purely hearsay, but I will say I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit if it were accurate) – that sounds pretty awful considering one of the key points of fasting is to be able to empathize with those who are less fortunate than ourselves and are unable to have a meal most days…

Fasting is also meant to help us build self-control. After all, if we can deny ourselves the simple pleasures of life like eating and drinking for the better part of a day, having the will-power to say “1 slice of pizza please” OR “1 scoop of ice cream thanks” rather than overindulging should be a piece of cake ;). This is exactly what Ramadan and being a skinny food addict have in common because to be honest, enjoying all foods – including the ones that aren’t the healthiest for you – isn’t the problem at all. The problem really is overindulging in even the healthiest of foods! But unfortunately most of us associate food with the feel good feeling we get when we first eat, and not with the terrible side effects that come along with overeating.

So yeah I had all those horrible symptoms the other day – I really felt like I had been hit by a freight train, I mean I was totally wiped out in terms of energy. I also had that weird acidic  feeling at the back of my throat you know the one where you think any second now all that food is gonna come back up – it was horrible!
I think everyone can relate to what I’m talking about. Whether you’re eating in or eating out, especially after a long day of fasting – I think most of us have been there… In fact ironically most of us end up gaining weight during Ramadan because of this! But more importantly, eating this way really doesn’t feel good at all…
Take the other day, I could have easily avoided all of it had I been able to stick to decent portion sizes (you know just one 8″ plate full divided into quarters with half veggies, one quarter grains and the last quarter meat)… And more importantly I would have been able to really enjoy my food experience well after dinner was done.
So my advice to anyone whose eating out – Do yourself a favor and skip the buffet!
You’ll never be able to eat your money’s worth of food and feel good about it and you won’t be able to doggie bag the leftovers for later. That’s a definite lose-lose situation right there! Instead really enjoy one of the world’s best simple pleasures in life by savoring each morsel and exercising a bit of will-power so you can also enjoy the rest of your night. I know first hand that it’s not easy to do, but I find being able to mentally  connect the negative side effects with the overindulging helps deter the same behavior in the future. And trust me it does get easier each time (practice makes perfect after all).
Ramadan Mubarak to all!

I Used to Be Fat

No not me – the MTV reality series that profiles “teenagers desperate to shed their unwanted pounds before heading off to school”. If you’ve watched it, you know why it’s one of my favorite things, if you haven’t the word that describes it best is “inspirational”. Unfortunately I’m not quite sure when it airs here in Dubai (it’s set to record whenever its on) and considering there was a reference to graduating in 2010, I suspect we are a few seasons behind (not to mention the number of reruns one has to watch before you get a new episode). But even with all of this stacked up against it – this show really blows me away every time!

If you are currently trying to lose weight, or more importantly get healthy, and are looking for motivation this really should be one of your go-to’s.

So why do I love it so much ? It completely amazes me to see how much a teenager can accomplish in one summer, the last summer s/he has before starting college no less, with a little guidance and motivation from a personal trainer and tons of will power to succeed. As one teen, Gabby (pictured in the before and after), put it, “I gave up one summer to live the rest of my life”.

Now granted, for those of us who are no longer teenagers (so might not have that teenage stamina anymore) nor have the luxury of having 3 months off in the summer to go to the gym for an insane 8 hrs a day – or even for those of us that do – I know the program these teens follow is a bit EXTREME and unless you really are training with an expert as well as compensating appropriately with adequate nutrition, losing a pound a day can really be dangerous and unhealthy (so good thing these teens are supervised). To be more realistic, aiming for a pound or 2 a week with moderate lifestyle changes is much more like it. Still there are a few things that always shine through for me with every episode:

1) Being healthy is not easy- it requires dedication AND THEN SOME
2) Your success is relatively proportionate to YOUR effort
3) Making permanent changes to your everyday habits can really have a positive impact on your life in soooo many ways!

But the most important thing I take away is if these kids can make changes to improve their health than so can I!

To be honest, I feel blessed to be able to work with ordinary people who accomplish extra-ordinary things by making the decision to change their health. I am always inspired by my clients’ determination to achieve their health goals while juggling all the crazy things life passes their way. I feel ridiculously honored to be able to say that I had any part in their journey to better health through nutrition. For me going to work and meeting amazing people like you, keeps me inspired and motivated to be and stay healthy…

My point is that if you are thinking of making a change in your life, one of the most important things you can do, is to surround yourself with people and things that will motivate you and inspire you to continue on your path no matter how hard it may seem some days. The fact is CHANGE IS NOT EASY, it takes consistent dedication, time and effort – there really isn’t any such thing as instant results! Getting your head in the right place is really one of the most important parts of the process, and KEEPING IT THERE is the other. So it is important to think about how you will stay focused and motivated for the long haul – whether that’s by watching a TV show on a regular basis (The Biggest Loser is another great show BTW), or buddying up with a friend, or seeking help from a professional or even all of the above – so that before you know it you’ll be saying “I USED TO BE fat (and more importantly UNHEALTHY) too :).

Merry Holidays = Weight Gain

‘Tis the season to be merry! And like many people, it’s my favorite time of the year what with all the holiday cheer, family gatherings and warm traditions. But this time of year also means more social drinks, extravagant meals and tables full of delectable desserts, not to mention a certain level of stress!

So of course a question I get asked a lot of the time is “how to not gain weight over the holidays” which is why I thought this would be a perfect time to address this topic :). I hope you won’t be too disappointed with my answer, coz what I usually say is, “Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays – after all that’s what life is all about!” It’s ok to let loose once in a while, and gaining a few pounds is really not as big a deal as we make it out to be – in fact moving up or down 1-2 pounds on the scale is considered maintenance.

The key is to get back to eating healthy and fitting some activity in once the season’s over…

But if you want to be sensible during the holidays then by all means do :) You can follow these 3 steps to make eating over the holidays healthier:

  1. Plan ahead – If you know what, where  and when you’ll be eating, you can better prepare for it (so take some time to consider when you want to allow yourself to enjoy the moment with no strings attached and when you want to be a bit more sensible).
  2. Don’t forget to listen to your hunger cues – the point is to avoid starving yourself until the next meal is served (i.e. make sure to snack often), eat slowly and savour your meal (remember a lot of work was put into it so come up for air and enjoy the table conversation), and don’t overdue it (stop before you need to loosen that top button)
  3. Squeeze in a brisk 15-30 min walk whenever you can – there is nothing nicer than taking a quick walk to the grocery store to pick up a last minute item and it sure is de-stressing!
So now that you are a bit more prepared, it’s time for you to go and have yourself a Happy Holiday!

Avocados: Eat Fat Lose Weight

Although they are now all the rave, it wasn’t actually until 1996 when researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico (Archives of Medical Research,Winter 1996) found that the daily consumption of avocados lowered blood cholesterol levels, decreased both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and increased HDL (helpful cholesterol) levels in their subjects, that they were considered to be good for you. Grown in the southern states, and the African, Asian, South and Central American continents, avocados:

  • are loaded with vitamins, A, C, E, H (i.e. biotin or B7), K and B complex (including folic acid), plus the minerals magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, potassium and many other trace elements.
  • are full of enzymes and are 74 percent water by weight
  • provide all of the essential amino acids (those that must be provided by our diet), with 18 amino acids in all, plus seven fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6.
  • have 60% more potassium than bananas.[28]
  • have a high fiber content among fruits – including 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fiber.[29]

(If you do a quick web search you’ll get a whole load of information on how good these little gems are for you – I compiled all of this info just from wikipedia and alive.com) So you don’t need me to tell you why they would be considered a Power Food.

But the best part is – like most foods that are high in monounsaturated fats or MUFAs, avocados have also been found to help in WEIGHT LOSS! Several studies have shown that a diet rich in MUFAs help decrease your total body fat %, reduce belly fat, and help to maintain muscle mass. In fact a recent study published in the Oct 2011 issue of Nutrition and Metabolism reconfirms the positive effect MUFAs have on decreasing belly fat.

That’s not all – avocados, with their high mineral, vitamin and nutrient compounds, are also known to smooth skin, help to support healthy cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, improve brain function, fight serious malignant disease and promote good eye health. They also contain mannoheptulase, a carbohydrate that is just beginning to be researched for its potential benefits in maintaining blood sugar levels – also an important part of better weight loss.

But considering that they are so high in fat, there are conflicting views on how much we should consume. Half an avocado (which is considered a serving according to Canada’s Food Guide) contains about 150 kcals; though most of us dietitians agree that  1/4 piece of avocado is equivalent to a serving of fat and the perfect amount to add to your sandwich instead of mayo (simply use sliced avocado or mash half an avocado up with a bit of salt pepper and lemon juice and spread on toast).

Your best bet is to substitute avocados (and other MUFA containing foods) where ever you would normally use oils or creams.

What I love most about this creamy fruit is the diversity with which it can be used, because it has such a mild flavour it offers quite a bit of culinary diversity. I find that it’s a great substitute to make creamy shakes/smoothies without adding ice cream; and can be enjoyed as a dessert as well as a dip – who doesn’t love guacamole with homemade pita chips?

*Image by Master Isolated Images | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Ways to Kick-Start Your Metabolism

Do you think your metabolism is as slow as molasses, and seems to be getting slower by the minute? You may have heard that as you get older your metabolism slows down, which seems to explain why the darned numbers continue to creep up on the scale every year even when everything else in your life seems to have stayed the same. So what is metabolism anyways and why is it so determined to make us fat? And more importantly is there anything we can do to make it faster rather than slower? These are questions I hear from my clients often.

As impossible as it sounds, it actually isn’t that hard to get your metabolism to pick up the pace. In fact a lot of how your metabolism works is really based on your lifestyle habits and your overall body composition- which also explains why it tapers off for most of us as we get older!

So what is metabolism anyways? A very simple explanation of metabolism is the processes by which your body breaks down food for energy. But what most of us mean when we say we want to have a faster metabolism is that we want to increase our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the energy that our body needs to burn at rest.

I know many of you are scratching your heads thinking “ok so how the heck do I get my body to burn more calories at rest”… well this is where the body composition part comes in because as most of us have heard our muscles require more energy to “survive” at rest than do our fat cells which means the more muscle mass to fat mass that we have the faster our metabolism is going to be.

Now before the skeptics role their eyes thinking these are supposed to be EASY ways to get that metabolism rolling and going to the gym to pound iron hardly sounds easy – let me restate that what I am talking about is the RATIO of muscle to fat mass, which can even be effected by the way we eat.

So what are 3 easy ways to get your metabolism back into gear?

Tip # 1: Eat small meals more often – Human beings are considered grazing mammals – which means that if food is available we should eat small amounts of food pretty much continuously – think cow on the pasture. Now if you are one of those people who eats only dinner what you’re telling your body is “DROUGHT/FAMINE!” which automatically means that your body will do it’s best to conserve energy until the next available meal which = slower metabolism and an increased storage of energy in the form of fat which effects that muscle:fat ratio we were just talking about… Eating 3 small meals and 2 snacks on the other hand means our body can be frivilous with the calories we consume and burn more for the heck of it – YAY! This also equals less fat storage which means a better muscle:fat ratio.

Tip # 2 Drink water – plenty of it (or at least your 8 glasses a day)!  Considering our body is 90% water, staying hydrated impacts how effectively our body burns food for fuel. That’s because not only is water required for metabolism, but it also makes up a big part of the blood that circulates oxygen and nutrients to our muscles – again increasing the ability of our body to burn more calories, which equals a better muscle: fat ratio. Carrying a bottle of water with you and/or taking a water break rather than a coffee break are great ways to increase your intake.

Tip #3: Build muscle mass/decrease fat mass – The first thing that most of us think about when we think about building muscle and/or losing fat is exercise. Exercise is definitely one of the best ways to positively impact our body composition, but you don’t have to go to the gym or play sports to benefit. Simply incorporating about 30 minutes of strengthening activities like push ups, sit ups, lunges and lifting light weights twice a week can build muscle mass. An easy way to do this is to do a few push ups during commercial breaks while your watching your favorite show. You can also decrease fat mass by incorporating some aerobic activities into your day like parking a bit further so you can walk and using the stairs rather than elevators, or incorporating a 10 min brisk walk during your lunch break. It may not sound like much, but even these little changes can add up over time.

Remember changing habits takes time so start slowly and be consistent. You don’t have to be at 100% right away – just make one or two changes that you know that you can maintain, and then build on it!

* Image by Ambro | FreeDigitalPhotos.net