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Mid-week famine, weekend feast: How I follow the 2:5 diet

For years, my relationship with my weight was like a Mexican stand-off. I didn’t want to exercise (exercise being, until very recently, unseemly and uncool) but I didn’t want to put on weight. I didn’t eat much, followed a loose no-carb, no-sweeties regime, and that seemed to do it. 

I hovered around 9st throughout my 20s, dropping to 8st 7lbs for my wedding day when I was 29 by eating absolutely nothing at all for a fortnight except slivers of steak, oranges and celeriac remoulade. 

Then I had two children: Kitty when I was 30 and Sam when I was 33. I’m now 36. I had been warned that once you pass 35 keeping the weight off gets harder – yet I was still surprised when 35 came and went and, indeed, the old weight-loss tricks didn’t work any more.

It wasn’t enough just to more-or-less cut out carbohydrates but still eat meat, cheese and brown rice. But I had been coasting along like this for so long I didn’t know how to change. 

The 5:2 diet came along, with its infamous two fasting days. People all around me, mainly men, shed extra weight by eating barely anything two days a week.

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Healthy Diet Can Help Women Maintain Mobility

A large research study discovered that for women, maintaining a healthy diet helps to reduce future risk of functional limitations.

Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), examined the association between the Alternative Healthy Eating Index and reports of impairment in physical function or mobility among 54,762 women involved in the Nurses’ Health Study.

The Alternative Healthy Eating Index provides a measure of diet quality. Physical function and mobility refer to the ability to walk, dress, and perform activities of daily living essential for independent living.

Study findings are published online in the Journal of Nutrition and will follow in hard copy.

“Little research has been done on how diet impacts physical function later in life. We study the connection between diet and many other aspects of health, but we don’t know much about diet and mobility,” said Francine Grodstein, Sc.D., senior author of the study.

“We wanted to look at diet patterns and try to learn how our overall diet impacts our physical function as we get older. ”

For the study, physical function was measured by a commonly used standard instrument every four years from 1992 to 2008. Diet was measured by food frequency questionnaires, which were administered approximately every four years beginning in 1980.

The data indicate that women who maintained a healthier diet were less likely to develop physical impairments compared to women whose diets were not as healthy.

They also found a higher intake of vegetables and fruits, a lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, trans-fats, and sodium, and a moderate alcohol intake, were each significantly associated with reduced rates of physical impairment.

Among individual foods, the strongest relations were found for increased intakes of oranges, orange juice, apples and pears, romaine or leaf lettuce, and walnuts.

Researchers note, however, that specific foods generally had weaker associations than the overall score. This indicates that overall diet quality is more important than individual foods.

“We think a lot about chronic diseases, cancer, heart disease, and tend not to think of physical function. Physical function is crucial as you age; it includes being able to get yourself dressed, walk around the block, and could impact your ability to live independently,” said Kaitlin Hagan, Sc.D., M.P.H., first author and a postdoctoral fellow at BWH.

Future research is needed to better understand dietary and lifestyle factors that influence physical function.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital/EurekAlert

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Does Breakfast Really Help You Lose Weight?

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We’ve all heard it before – typically as part of a monologue designed to convert breakfast haters into devout bacon-and-egg lovers.

But the reality is that breakfast has long been a point of contention among weight-loss warriors, doctors, nutritionists and researchers alike. Some say breakfast “jump-starts” your metabolism. Others say they just aren’t hungry in the morning. And an increasingly large cohort of intermittent fasters maintains that skipping meals (like breakfast) can result in weight loss, not gain.

[See: 8 Morning and Nighttime Rituals Health Pros Swear By.]

Breakfast: the Good, the Bad and the Controversial

As much as we’d love a definitive study that said, “Yes, breakfast helps everyone lose weight” or “No, breakfast is an act in weight-loss futility,” the fact of the matter is that we just don’t have that study yet. Maybe someday we will – but it likely won’t be soon.

It’s important to remember that, like nutrition research in general, our scientific exploration of the breakfast-weight connection is still young. And, unfortunately, nutrition research is far from perfect. Apart from the fact that food manufacturers fork over the funding for much of the nutrition research out there, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to carry out a perfect study to determine breakfast’s exact role in our weights, explains registered dietitian Wesley Delbridge, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. After all, how many people do you know who would want to spend weeks, months or even years on end in a lab having not only every meal, but everything they do, controlled? That’s what it would take for researchers to tease out breakfast’s exact role in weight loss.

But conflicting findings aside, the University of Missouri study raises an important part of the breakfast-weight connection: It’s not just breakfast that plays a role in weight gain or loss, it’s exactly what you eat. For instance, eating protein (no matter the time of day) is consistently linked to increases in levels of satiety hormones including peptide YY and GLP-1 as well as lower levels of hunger hormones including ghrelin, Delbridge says. (It’s also important to note that spreading your protein intake throughout the day, rather than consuming the bulk of it in the afternoon and evening, dramatically increases rates of muscle protein synthesis, even if you eat the same number of calories each day, according to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That translates to a higher resting metabolic rate and lower body-fat percentage.)

[See: High-Protein Breakfast Ideas.]

“If my patients are generally not breakfast eaters, I usually ask them to monitor their intake later on in the day to notice whether or not they are ‘back ending’ their calories. If calories are being consumed closer to the end of the day, I would actually recommend adding something small, such as a Greek yogurt or hardboiled egg, at breakfast time in order to decrease the likelihood of overeating later,” explains Leah Kaufman, a registered dietitian with NYU Langone Medical Center’s Weight Management Program.

On the flip side, skipping protein in favor of refined carbohydrates like those found in cereals (even healthy-looking ones), muffins and syrup-drizzled waffles are quickly digested to promote fat storage as well as increased hunger at subsequent meals. “They do nothing more than add overall calories throughout the day, which can lead to unwanted weight gain rather than weight loss,” she says, noting that it would be better for them to skip the morning meal entirely than to eat unhealthy breakfasts just for the sake of eating them.

“Is breakfast the silver bullet that will cause you to lose weight? No, but eating a balanced breakfast that contains protein, fat and fiber-rich carbohydrates can affect your caloric balance to promote weight loss,” says registered dietitian and master of public health Kathleen M. Zelman, director of nutrition for WebMD. She notes that 78 percent of members of the National Weight Control Registry – which tracks more than 10,000 individuals who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off – eat breakfast every day.

So is breakfast necessary to lose weight? No. But, for most people, it certainly seems to help. And as long as your breakfasts are healthy, it definitely won’t hurt.

[See: The 10 Best Diets for Fast Weight Loss.]

Not Into Breakfast? Ease Into It

Breakfast skippers are famous for saying, “I’m just not hungry in the mornings” or “Eating as soon as I wake up makes me feel bad.” In their defense, it’s true: If you regularly don’t eat before noon, eating a big breakfast will be a shock to your system, and you’ll likely feel sick, Delbridge says.

These expert-approved guidelines will help you serve up your best breakfast ever and hopefully, over time, not only will you become a breakfast lover, you’ll feel your mid-day hunger and cravings subside, your energy levels improve and your weight-loss results improve.

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diet and nutrition, food and drink, weight loss, protein

Cameron Diaz Reveals Diet and Food Inspiration

Cameron Diaz Reveals Diet and Food Inspiration

Credit: Thunder Kick Photos/Splash News

Cameron Diaz not only eats a healthy diet, but she spends a lot of time cooking in the kitchen, especially for those close to her. And the 41-year-old actress gets her food inspiration from several other foodies, including TV host and celebrity cook Rachael Ray, actress and fellow healthy foodie Gwyneth Paltrow, food blogger and chef Donna Hay, and even Diaz’s mom.

Diaz’s active and healthy lifestyle is well documented. In 2013, she released a number-one New York Times bestseller called The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body.

In April this year, Diaz released The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time. This second book explores what people can do to feel young in today’s society.

What are some of the things Cameron Diaz loves to cook? According to an interview with Goop, she enjoys grilling protein options such as fish, lamb chops, or steak. Diaz also loves making simple salads, including cabbage or with fresh citrus fruits such as lemon or lime. Quinoa pasta is another favorite of hers, made with olive oil, garlic, and veggies.

Quinoa in particular is versatile and a very good source of protein. It’s a gluten-free grain, and an option that can be prepared in a manner similar to rice or porridge. Quinoa flour is also a great option for baked goods, and it’s an excellent source of several nutrients, including manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, and zinc, plus amino acids such as tryptophan.

A healthy diet is very important, and Cameron Diaz uses her food inspirations to educate others about cooking and leading a healthy lifestyle. So why not take a page from either of Cameron Diaz’s books? After all, cooking with nutrient-dense foods helps lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.


Source for Today’s Article:

Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 672–675.

Why Treating Yourself Is the #1 Secret to a Healthy Diet

We like kale, quinoa, and salmon just as much as the next healthy eater. But a diet of vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins on endless repeat is not the best strategy for a slim, healthy body. Indulging smartly is what really works to help you lose weight and keep it off, experts say. The reason: Enjoying regular treats helps you stay motivated and prevents you from bingeing, explains Lauren Slayton, R.D.N., the owner of Foodtrainers in New York City. It also makes you happy.

“Pleasurable experiences, like partaking of food you love,release feel-good chemicals in the brain,” says nutritionist Jessica Cording, R.D.N. The mood boost you get makes it easier to maintain your healthy habits overall.

So yes, you need dessert

Trying to abstain from indulgent foods, or feeling guilty about eat­ing them, will only work against you. Our bodies are biologically programmed to crave sweets and fat, according to research. Treats are also an ingrained part of our culture—dessert after dinner, Friday night pizza with friends, cake to celebrate special occasions—so it’s no wonder we feel compelled to have them.

“When it comes to weight loss,feeding your soul is just as impor­tant as feeding your body,” Cording says. “Enjoying indulgent foods helps you do that.”

Treating yourself to special dishes also adds diversity to your diet, and that in turn helps you stay slim. In a study at Cornell University, people who had adventurous palates and ate a wide variety of foods had a lower BMI than those who stuck with the same foods. The experience of trying new things is so pleasurable, you don’t feel the need to overeat, the researchers say.

Embracing a food’s decadence can even help you feel full faster. Case in point: People felt more satiated after drinking a smoothie labeled “indulgent” than after drinking an unlabeled one, despite the fact that it was the exact same drink, according to a study published in the journal Flavour. Our brains learn to associate an indulgence with a specific hunger-reducing effect on the body, says study author Peter Hovard of the University of Sussex in the U.K. So when you eat something decadent and your brain recognizes it as high in calories, it helps your body to respond by curbing your appetite, he explains. (Try one of these delicious homemade doughnuts.)

But how often should you treat yourself?

The short answer: daily. Give yourself a little something you crave, and factor it in to your calorie count. To enjoy bigger indulgences once or twice a week, just cut back a bit elsewhere. For instance, if you’re going to a restaurant where you love the brownie sundae, order a light entrée, such as broiled fish or chicken, and choose a nonstarchy vegetable like broccoli as a side instead of potatoes.

Savor the treat slowly to heighten the experience. In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, people who took a photo of an indulgent dish before eating it found it more delicious, because the momentary delay allowed all of their senses to kick in before they ate the food. Whether you Instagram your dessert or simply put your fork down between bites, relishing the sight, smell, and flavor of your dish will help you get the most satisfaction from it.

(Surprisingly) healthy treats

FACT: Eating fat will make you slim. The newest research shows that eating fat turns off the hunger switch in your brain and naturally restricts your appetite, while at the same time raising your metabolism, says Mark Hyman, M.D., the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and the author of Eat Fat, Get Thin. That means these four high-fat foods aren’t just OK for occasional indulgences—they’re actually good for you. (Here’s why low-fat foods don’t satisfy.)

Full-fat yogurt: Studies show that people who opt for full-fat yogurt are slimmer than those who go fat-free. The fat also helps your body absorb the vitamin D in dairy.

Butter: Butter from grass-fed cows is high in disease-preventing antioxidants as well as conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that boosts your metabolism and your immune system, Dr. Hyman says.

Red meat: It’s loaded with vitamins A, D, and K2. Just be sure to choose grass-fed: A new review in the British Journal of Nutrition finds that it has 50 percent more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than factory-farmed beef.

Cheese: Eating it can stimulate the bacteria in your gut to produce butyrate, a compound that boosts metabolism, research found.

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