How does your diet look? What is the balance of carbohydrates and protein in your diet? What do you have for Breakfast – Mid Morning – Lunch – Mid Afternoon – Evening Meal – After evening meal? Are you following a vegetarian diet?

Excess carbohydrates in the diet is one of the major reasons for weight gain i.e. cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta for tea and other carb based snacks such as rice cakes and chocolate during the day. Excess carbs are easily stored as fat.

Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers the glucose. Insulin is, though, essentially a storage hormone, evolved over those millions of years of humans prior to the agricultural age, to store the excess calories from carbohydrates in the form of fat in case of famine.

Insulin, stimulated by the excess carbohydrates in our overabundant consumption of grains, starches and sweets, is responsible for all those bulging stomachs and fat rolls in thighs and chins.

Top Tip for a vegetarian weight loss diet – Get Protein into every meal. Protein comes in the form of meat, soy products, cheese and dairy products. However, most of these are in the form of animal proteins, which add greatly to the bad cholesterol in our bodies. Therefore we need to look for high quality proteins, in our diet, from non-animal sources.

Healthy Breakfast
What type of breakfast do you have? Is your breakfast made up entirely of carbohydrates? Really how healthy is your breakfast cereal? How much fibre does it contain? Look at alternatives to breakfast cereals and toast.

Make sure you eat breakfast.
If you don’t eat breakfast, you slow down your metabolism and send the body into “hoard mode,” thinking it’s starving because you’re going a long period of time frequently 8 to 10 hours or more, without food. Or you develop a craving later in the day. Try a protein shake packed with nutrients, hunger busting soy protein and complex carbohydrates instead of skipping breakfast.

Find alternatives to carbohydrate based snacks
The supermarkets are full of carbohydrate snacks. Snacks such as rice cakes, chocolate bars, crisps and other bars where the principal ingredient is carbohydrate. Check the special offers, how many are carb based snacks? Why? Its a high profit item with low cost raw material. Take a look at the GI index of carb based snacks such as rice cakes. Can you open a pack of biscuits and just eat one? Carbs = short term sense of fullness. Protein = long term appetite control. Consider alternative snacks

What about fruit?
Yes a healthy snack as contains fibre and nutrients but avoid snacking on fruit as an alternative to a balanced meal containing protein, especially if sensitive to carbohydrates. There are more nutrients in vegetables! Top tip – Get balance of snacks between fruit, protein and vegetables.

Body shape?
Science has discovered that not all people respond to food in the same way and an individual’s metabolic differences can make optimal nutrition difficult and elusive. Understanding how the body copes with carbohydrates could provide a solution and a new shape.

Build muscle with weight training or resistance exercise.
Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest! Maintain a healthy muscle mass by maintaining adequate protein in your diet. Regard your muscles as fat furnaces.

Understanding Hypoglycemia
The ratio of macronutrients protein, carbohydrate, and fat-in the meals you eat is the key to permanent weight loss and optimal health.

Find out how to get more protein into your healthy vegetarian diet

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You may have heard of fiber and might even have heard that’s its good for you but I’m willing to bet that you weren’t told why it’s so good for you.

Fiber is a way for you to give your diet and body a healthy boost and you might not be aware of that fact.

Here are some fiber facts to help you fuel your health:

1.) Fiber helps fight disease – A high fiber diet helps your body flush out waste, toxins and excess cholesterol which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer and other ailments.

2.) Fiber helps prevent overeating – High fiber foods usually require you to take more time chewing them before you swallow. This time is very important because it takes the brain about 20 minutes to catch on that you are full. Foods that are high in fiber are usually more filling too because of the bulk they add to your diet. This bulk fills your stomach and helps you feel satisfied for a longer period of time.

3.) Many of the good tasting fast foods and other popular food items are low in fiber, high in calories and full of preservatives or artificial flavoring.

4.) Dietary fiber is best – Whole grains and other concentrated grain products are naturally high in this vital part of your diet.

5.) Everyone older than 2 needs fiber in their diet – Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and even fortified cereals should be part of your diet regardless of your age.

6.) A high fiber diet increases your need for water – Since fiber is meant to move through your system, you will need plenty of water so it doesn’t get bogged down and clog up the intestines its helping flush.

7.) Fiber is lost through cleaning, cooking or peeling – Many foods have nutrients lost when they are cleaned, peeled or cooked but fiber is throughout the food so it will remain regardless of the preparation process.

8.) Too much fiber is bad – If your diet contains too much fiber on any given day, you may experience bloating or diarrhea and it may hinder the absorption of minerals your body needs.

9.) Getting enough fiber doesn’t have to be an unpleasant chore – You can switch out some of the high calorie low fiber foods for more whole grain cereals, breads, fresh fruits, vegetables and a variety of tasty dishes made with fiber rich foods. Fresh fruits are especially good because they add fluids you need as well as fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Starting or maintaining a fiber rich diet is a great way to help control your weight, prevent cancer, reduce your cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and increase the chance that you’ll feel better while enjoying better health.

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Your overall health is affected by both your eating habits and lifestyle. If you listen to the myths mentioned below, you may not be as healthy as you could be.

Myth 1 – Don’t Eat Before Working Out

Attempting to exercise when you haven’t eaten anything or properly hydrated is about the same as trying to run your car on low water and gas neither will function properly. You’ve probably experienced the overheating of car when it’s low on water and maybe even the sputtering and stalling of an engine without gas.

Your stomach often rumbles when it needs fuel. If you don’t feed it before working out, you risk a less than productive exercise session. A failure to properly hydrate before working out could lead to muscle cramps or worse.

Water and some fruit or another natural snack will do your body good.

Myth 2 – Energy Bars and Energy Drinks Replace Meals

These items are fine once in awhile but they don’t deliver all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, fluids and other nutrients you need for optimal health.

Myth 3 – Skipping Breakfast

Breakfast gives your body its wakeup call. Your metabolism wakes up which produces your energy and helps regulate your weight. Fail to eat this meal and you will probably notice a lack of energy most of the day, a tiredness that remains even after eating and the possibility of a hunger that can’t be satisfied.

Myth 4 – Low Carb Diets Are Good

Your body needs carbohydrates for your muscles and the storing of energy. Any diet that limits or completely excludes a group of nutrients that your body needs is going to harm your long term health.

Myth 5 – Eating Everything You Want

Your body needs certain nutrients to operate at its best even if you don’t exercise like you should. When you eat an unbalanced diet, even IF you exercise, you are failing to provide your body what it needs to maintain good health and naturally fight off illness and disease.

Myth 6 – Calorie Deprivation Is Good

Weight loss requires the reduction in the number of calories you consume each day but a reduction of more than 20% puts your body into starvation mode. In this mode, the food you eat is stored as fat rather than burned for energy AND your energy is derived by burning muscle. A gradual reduction in your food intake plus an increase in exercise is necessary for weight loss but rapid weight loss might mean you aren’t eating enough.

Myth 7 – Drinking Soda and Alcohol is Okay

Water and natural juices are the best beverages for you to drink. Sodas either offer calories with no nutritional value or artificial ingredients. There is conflicting data on the benefits of alcohol but it is widely accepted that alcohol can cause problems in many situations. Drink plenty of water at regular intervals and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. There are many situations where your body is already dehydrated by the time you are thirsty.

Making a conscious effort to eat healthy is always the first step towards feeling better and living a healthier life. A healthy diet and exercise regimen can do a lot in fighting the stress time and your lifestyle can place on your body.

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Have you tried the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet or another diet only to find that they didn’t work for weight loss for very long, if at all?

There is a very good reason these diets failed you. Diet for weight loss often means deprivation.

You will NOT stick to any regimen if you feel bored, deprived or bored.

Let’s face facts. Most people enjoy eating as much for pleasure as for the nutrition it provides. Diets, by their very design, require you to give up some of the foods you enjoy.

They key to weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume.

It is best if you eat healthy and nutritious foods but you can start by first taking an inventory of your daily caloric intake. Do this each day for 2 weeks so you have a baseline to work with.

The next step is to reduce your intake by no more than 20% OR increase your level of physical activity. This is your recipe for weight loss without feeling deprived.

You are looking for a lifestyle change. By starting out gradually reducing the number of calories you are currently consuming, you are teaching yourself you can do well on less.

As you progress, you can swap out some of the less nutritious foods for better dietary choices.

Add exercises to your routine and you may experience some fast weight loss. This is especially true when a combination of strength training AND cardiovascular workouts are added on an alternating schedule.

You don’t need the Atkins diet, South Beach Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet or any other plan that deprives you of foods you love or enjoy.

Potatoes and other complex carbohydrates are off limits with some of these meal plans. The problem with doing that is you are eliminating food sources that are nutritious, good and filling.

Fruits, vegetables, salads, nuts and some of your other options may be good and they are good for you BUT your body needs a certain amount of bulk to feel full and satisfied.

Complex carbohydrates like potatoes fit this requirement perfectly. A medium sized baked potato has fewer than 300 calories. The problem most Americans have is we tend to either fry, deep fry or add numerous toppings such as sour cream, butter, bacon bits, cheese or chili to our potato.

You can choose to deprive yourself with one of the diet plans like the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet OR you can take control of your eating and gradually modify your lifestyle to reach your weight loss goal.

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Potatoes can be one of your biggest allies in your weight loss program if you learn about them and everything they have to offer you.

This amazing vegetable is one of the most popular in America. Its popularity even surpasses lettuce and onions. Many people never get tired of eating this food because it can be fixed in so many different ways. About one third of the meals eaten by Americans include this veggie in some form.

One great thing about the spud is that it adds the bulk to your meal that lets you know you’ve eaten something and when stored and prepared properly the potato packs a very nutritional punch.

Spuds are high in fiber, carbohydrates, contain more potassium than a banana and one medium sized potato contains about 45% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C that’s recommended for good health.

A potato is naturally low in calories and contains no fat, sodium, or cholesterol. Potato skin provides a helpful dose of fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, and several B vitamins.

This vegetable is best and it retains more of its natural nutrition when stored in a cool, dark place such as a basement or cellar. Too much light in your storage area may result in green potatoes. Refrigeration or freezing should be avoided when possible because the starch is turned to sugar by the cold and that causes them to turn dark when cooked.

You can prepare potatoes by boiling them, steaming them, or even roasting them. If at all possible, you should avoid putting your spuds in the refrigerator or freezing them, as cold will turn the potato starch to sugar and cause them to turn dark when they are cooked.

Mashed, baked, fried, boiled and broiled are a few of the ways this amazing vegetable can be prepared. The calories you get from eating potatoes come more from the toppings you add than the veggie itself.

Piling on the sour cream, chives, bacon bits, chili, cheese or butter adds up a LOT of calories you don’t want or need BUT taking a cut up spud and baking it with French dressing creates a very tasty side dish that’s easy on calories and very filling.

In my opinion, every weight loss program should include potatoes as a part of the menu.

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