Archive for ‘Health’

December 28, 2008

Beating That Bulging Belly




Beating That Bulging Belly




By  Mohammed Yahia

Editor –
















Man with large belly

A large tummy, sometimes called a beer belly, is one form of obesity.

Remember the time you looked in the mirror while brushing your teeth and realized that your belly was jiggling unusually? That was probably the first time you noticed that your belly was starting to bulge a little, or a lot. That was, and usually is, also the time when you decided that you need to hit the gym again.

A large tummy, sometimes called a beer belly, is one form of obesity. It is a result of increased fat disposition in the belly area. This is more common in men than in women. Women tend to have more fat in the hip and thigh areas. However, that does not mean that women cannot get beer bellies.

Losing the fat on the tummy is not just important for you to look good, but it is also important for you to be healthy. Obesity in general makes a person more susceptible to several diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. But localized obesity, such as beer bellies, makes a person even more susceptible to certain diseases.

Fat Myths

If you want to lose that extra fat on your tummy, you need to clear up some common misconceptions. First and foremost, there is no “magical pill” or “incredible device” that will allow you to burn the fat faster. It is a long process that requires commitment in order to achieve results.

The second thing to know is that no amount of sit-ups are going to make you lose the fat. You can be doing hundreds of sit-ups every day, but the end result will be rock-hard abs muscles hidden under layers and layers of fat. That is not what we want to achieve. That is not to say that exercise is not important, but alone, it is not enough.

The only way to lose fat is to burn more energy than you are eating. That is the only time the body will tap into the energy stored in fat cells. In order to achieve this, you will need to change several bad habits and make improvements to your lifestyle. If you can keep it up, you will be surprised at the positive results that a few small changes can achieve.

To make this task easier for you, here are several tips that you can follow to achieve the desired results.

Watch What You Eat

Junk food is one of the leading causes of obesity around the world.

Evade foods rich in fats. You should also decrease your total caloric intake because, as we mentioned before, if you do not burn more than you eat, then you will never lose any fatty cells.

Try to divide your meals into five to six smaller meals instead of just three big ones. When the body does not receive food for prolonged periods, it enters into starvation mode. During this period, all body functions drastically decrease caloric burning. The regular food intake will increase metabolism since the body will never enter into starvation mode. This will help burn more fat throughout the day. Try to eat breakfast early, as soon as you wake up. This is to compensate for the long period of starvation while you are sleeping at night.

Eat larger meals in the morning and smaller meals toward bedtime. This is important because the food eaten in the morning will be used throughout the day to generate energy. However, if you eat heavy meals in the evening then most of it will be stored as fat while you are sleeping since it is not used up.

Cut down on junk food. Switch to nutritious, healthy foods. Junk food is one of the leading causes of obesity around the world. Also, try to cut down on refined sugars and processed food. You also need to develop the most important habit; stop eating when you are full. Do not overeat and stuff yourself. It is unhealthy, increases the fats in your body, and gives you stomachaches!

Watch What You Drink

It is best to evade soft drinks altogether.

Quit drinking beer. If you drink alcohol, now would be a great time to quit. There is, after all, a reason belly fat is called a “beer belly.” There is no clear understanding of how beer can increase fat around the tummy. However, most doctors agree there is a strong relationship between drinking beer and increased belly fat. This could be due to the fact that beer is very high on caloric value.

Do not drink soft drinks either. They have a caloric value of around 150 per can. Count how many you drink every week, do the math, and you will realize they add up to thousands of calories. Diet soft drinks, while low on calories, have other health problems. It is best to evade them altogether. Go for fresh juices instead. They taste great and are a much healthier option. They act as a fun and filling snack between meals.

Try to drink a lot of water throughout the day, especially when you wake up and before you sleep. Water is king. That is the golden rule. Water helps streamline the fat burning process as well as detoxify the body. If your body is low on water at anytime during the day, the body reduces energy burning. This translates into lower fat loss. If you are exercising, make sure you are well hydrated because you will lose a lot of water to sweat.

Try green tea. Green tea is also a great substitute for coffee or black tea. It is rich in substances called catechins. A study published in 2005 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that catechins may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat. Green tea also has antioxidant, antiviral, and anticancer properties.

Implement Activity Into Your Life

Try to take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator. Think of it as an exercise that needs neither special equipment nor dedicated time.

Get in the habit of a brisk walk every day, may be by parking your car a few blocks away from work in the morning. If you usually take public transportation, get off a station or two away from your target and walk the remaining distance. Besides being refreshing, it will burn some energy. Coupled with lower calories intake, this will lead the body to burn fat cells.

Exercise the Right Way

In less than 10 weeks, you are bound to see signs of your stomach fat receding.

As mentioned before, sit-ups and crouches are the biggest belly fat loss myth. To lose fat, you have to work up a sweat. Cardiovascular exercises, also called aerobic exercises, are the best way to do that. These include a vast array of workouts such as running, power walking, swimming, cycling, and rope jumping. There are also trendy new options such as aerobic dancing, which can be fun and exciting besides helping you lose weight.

Most experts recommend aerobic exercising for 20 to 50 minutes three to five times a week. Besides raising your metabolism, and thus burning more calories to release energy, cardio exercises have great health benefits such as reducing cardiovascular diseases, which is the leading cause of death around the world.

Anaerobic exercises, such as weight-lifting, can have a beneficial effect by raising your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Simply put, this refers to the amount of energy your body burns when not exercising to maintain its functions. Anaerobic exercises increase your muscle mass, which require more energy uptake. Raising your BMR means that your body will constantly be burning more calories, which will lead to reducing fat deposits all over.

Activate your core. This term refers to one of the most effective yet simple ways of having a flat tummy. All you have to do is draw your bellybutton into your spine and hold it there while breathing naturally. See how long you can hold, and try to better your time every day. The best thing about this is that you can do it while sitting at your computer, standing, or walking. Try to set alarms on your computer or phone several times throughout the day to remind you to “activate your core.”

Mental State

While this may all sound too overwhelming, it is not impossible to be able to achieve these changes in your lifestyle if you have the right mindset. By time, you will be able to naturally know what foods are not good for you. Even better, you will not be craving them anymore.

Incorporating exercise into our busy lifestyles can be tricky. But if you try to make exercise a fun family activity, or a friends get-together activity, then it will be much easier to maintain on the long run.

And the secret lies in the idea of the long run. You have to take the decision that losing belly fat is going to take time. There is no easy way or shortcut. However, the gradual change in your life will ensure that you are able to keep your new lifestyle. And this will eventually improve the quality of life for you. And in less than 10 weeks, you are bound to see signs of your stomach fat receding. And you will be wearing those clothes that you stuffed in the back of the closet in no time!


December 28, 2008

Lose Weight, the Natural Way



Lose Weight, the Natural Way



Interviewed By  Aisha El-Awady










Natural weight loss is the best, healthiest and longest lasting weight loss method around.

These days losing weight seems to be on everyone’s mind, whether you want to lose a few pounds or are clinically obese. Ads promoting fad diets or magic weight loss pills are everywhere. We are bombarded everyday with these ads on television, the internet and in our e-mail. But the real secret to weight loss is that the best weight loss program doesn’t cost a thing and you do not need to starve yourself or even feel hungry. Natural weight loss is the best, healthiest and longest lasting weight loss method around. (IOL) conducted this interview with Anisa Abeytia, an integrative health specialist and Clinical Nutritionist, to discuss the best way to lose weight and how to make a few small changes to your lifestyle that will help you shed the pounds and keep them off for good.

IOL: If you were to suggest one food/drink to cut out of our diets in order to lose weight, what would it be?

Abeytia: Soda. One can of soda contains an average of 5 tablespoons of sugar and a host of artificial additives that can stress the liver and adrenal glands. Sugar promotes weight gain because it sets up a situation where blood sugar fluctuates all day. We can see this in the extreme with diabetic people who can gain excessive amounts of weight. When blood sugar spikes and falls several times a day, the body will hold onto fat because it thinks the body is starving.

IOL: Are there any foods that can actually help weight loss?

Many people do not consume enough healthy lipids (fats).

Abeytia: I love coconut oil. It may seem like a strange thing to recommend, but I find that in my private practice that many people do not consume enough healthy lipids (fats). Currently consumption of corn and canola oil is excessive. It causes inflammation and is rancid (rotten). Hydrogenated oils are another health hazard and are really what gave saturated fats (solid at room temperature) a bad name. Hydrogenated oils do not occur in nature and there is some evidence that they alter the cell membrane by making it impermeable so waste cannot exit and nutrients cannot enter. This can lead to weight gain because it literally can get “stuck” in your body.

If you are interested in learning more about the role of fats in maintain weight balance, please visit the site for the Weston A Price Foundation or read the excellent books by Sally Fallon “Nourishing Traditions, Eat Fat Lose Fat” or Mary G. Enig “Know Your Fats , Eat Fat Lose Fat.” A great website that discusses and gives recipes for foods great for losing weight and just being healthy, go to The World’s Healthiest Foods  website. There is also a companion book.

IOL: We hear that nuts are high in calories but also high in nutrients. If a person is trying to lose weight, would you recommend that they consume nuts or cut them out of their diet due to their high calorie content?

Abeytia: Nuts are a wonderful food because they are filling and they are easy to take with you. A small amount can keep you full, so they offer more bang for their size. The problem that arises is when we over consume nuts. This is an easy thing to do when we do not have to shell them ourselves. A serving of nuts is one handful (your hand).

IOL: For weight loss plans, are there any fruits or vegetable that you would recommend one NOT to eat?

Some vegetables that can cause problems are potatoes, peas and carrots eaten in excess.

Abeytia: Most people do not eat enough fruits or vegetables, period. Some vegetables that can cause problems are potatoes, peas and carrots eaten in excess, but when they are part of a balanced and varied diet they are very nutritious. You want to purchase the most nutrient-dense foods you can buy. Organic foods usually have many more nutrients because the way the soil is maintained, but if it is coming from far away, like from Brazil to California or Florida to New York, the distance is too great and the food loses its nutrients. In that case you want to go for local, but be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables well. Keep in mind though that some pesticides do not wash off. There is a list you can find online titled “The Dirty Dozen.” You want to purchase the fruits and vegetables on this list organic whenever possible.

Eating nutrient-rich foods is also a key to maintain proper weight balance. When we eat nutrient-dead food our bodies can become malnourished, even if we look over nourished, because our bodies are not receiving what they need. As a result, our bodies think we are starving so they hold onto calories instead of burning them, then we become fat, even though we are malnourished.

IOL: What is the ideal amount of weight an overweight person should lose during a month’s period that would allow him/her to keep the weight off for an extended period of time?

Abeytia: I have worked with people who lost 25 lbs (11.3 kg) in one month and that was healthy for them because it was an issue of inflammation or food sensitivities. Also people who are involved with receiving different types of body work can also experience a large initial weigh loss in the first few months. I can recall one woman that I worked with using a body work I developed called Noor-al-Tawheed, who lost 3 lbs (1.4 kg) after two sessions (1 lb/0.45 kg a day for three days).

It is not about the amount of weight, but about making the appropriate lifestyle adjustments to allow your body to find the appropriate weight. Weight loss can be a tricky thing because so many factors come into it that it is easier and, yes, cheaper to work with a health care practitioner. Weight balance is more of a result of good health than anything else.

Now on the other hand, if someone is starving themselves by only eating grapefruits or by taking diuretics for short term weight loss, then that is dangerous. Fad diets that promise an amount of weight loss by limiting a food group can also be dangerous and not long term and typically the person gains all the weight back and more. These yo-yo diets are unhealthful. They can boast that you can lose 25 lbs in one month, but it is usually water weight that will all come back. If a person loses that much that quickly, I would suspect food allergies.

With all that said, 5-10 lbs (2.3 – 4.5 kg) is a “healthy” goal to set. You can also look at it from a prospective of inches. You might measure yourself at the chest, waist, hip, upper thigh and see how many inches you lose as well. You may find that you lose inches before pounds. I have also noticed that some women experience a shift in where their excess weight is before they see a loss of any kind.

IOL: What is the best food to start the day with for people trying to lose weight?

When your body receives what it needs, it tends to drop the pounds, sometimes effortlessly.

Abeytia: There is a great book titled “The Metabolic Typing Diet” by William L. Wolcott and Trish Fahey. Not everyone does great on a high protein diet and some people do great as vegetarians and have you ever wondered why? This book discusses why different eating styles work for different people and it has a very useful questionnaire to help determine what type you are. This is important to weight loss because if you are forcing someone to eat a salad for breakfast and they are starving in a few hours, the dietary habit is not working for that person. And it is not going to promote health.

Weight loss is a “side-effect” of good health. When your body receives what it needs, it tends to drop the pounds, sometimes effortlessly. The “perfect” meal for someone will vary, but what you do not want to eat is something sweet. Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine feel very strongly about this and it may have to do with insulin and the metabolic drag it exhibits on the body first thing in the morning. Now, the prophet (peace be upon him) did eat dates in the morning, but he combined it with water or milk, which would help counter the sweetness. Also, dates are a whole food (they are not processed or have something added or removed) and are not like doughnuts, breakfast bars or breakfast candy (most breakfast cereals).

Starting your day with a metabolically appropriate meal can be the best gift you give to you and your family. When I work with someone, I find it very useful to do a complete metabolic profile.


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