Friday, March 28, 2008

Lose Belly Fat to Reduce Risk of Dementia

In an earlier article, I have explained why excess belly fat is more deadly than you think. Strategies to reduce excess body fat and fight obesity were also elaborated.

Read more here >>

According to a new research study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, having a big belly in your 40s can increase your risk of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia many years later.

The excess abdominal fat that makes people look like apple-shaped has been shown to link to higher risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Dementia is a new risk of disease added to the list.

The study involved 6583 men and women who were ages 40 to 45 when they had checkups between 1964 and 1973. The researchers checked medical records to see who had developed Alzheimer's or another form of dementia by an average of 36 years later, when the participants were ages 73 to 87. There were 1049 cases.

Here are their findings:
  • Participants with normal body weight and high belly measurement were 89% more likely to have dementia.
  • Overweight people were 82% more likely if they had a low belly measurement, but more than twice as likely if they had a high belly measurement.
  • Obese people were 81% more likely if they had a low belly measurement, but more than three times as likely if they had a high measurement.

It's not yet proven that excess abdominal fat promotes dementia. High insulin levels may help explain them, according to Dr. Jose Luchsinger of Columbia Unversity Medical Center.

The take-away message is that don't wait 'til everything is confirmed by the medical community to start taking actions.

Take charge of your health and fitness through healthy liftstyle changes, regular weight training and cardio exercises and balanced nutrition.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Hard Core training

Is doing 1000 sit-ups a day a good abdominal exercise to get your six pack abs?

You know the answer is a NO.

To see your abs, you'll need to reduce your body fat, on the average, below 10-12% for men and 16-18% for women.

So hit the weights hard, do your cardio, eat balanced foods to get supported nutrients, rest well to recover and repeat. You'll see your abs.

Same as your muscle building exercises, you need to train your abdominal and other core muscles for hypertrophy.

Your abdominal muscles consists of transverse abdominis (TA), internal oblique, external oblique, and rectus abdominis (the so-called "abs"). They are all very important to your total body and core strength, balance and stability.

Here are three modified core training exercises for your total body stability. Incorporate one or two of them in your next workout routine.

Swiss-ball Crunch
Place your feet on the floor, narrower than your hip-width. Then perform the normal Swiss-ball crunch. The narrower base of support requires more abdominal and lower back stability.

If you want to kick up another notch, put your feet on a pair of Versa Discs (air-filled flat discs). The floating and unstable Versa discs will require you to engage your core to the ultimate level.

Single-leg Romanian Deadlift
Perform the Romanian deadlift with one dumbbell on one leg. Do all the reps on one leg. Then repeat on the other leg.

This exercise improves your hip stability that will help your squats and deadlifts.

Full-body Extentsion
Attach a handle to a low pulley machine (or a pair of tubing). Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Grab the handle at arm's length with your left hand. Bend at the hips and knees and turn your body so that your left arm is ready to begin pulling at the outside of your right knee. Slowly turn and extend your body so that the cable or tube comes up and over your left shoulder.

This move hits all four core areas.

Single-arm Dumbbell Press
Perform a standing shoulder press with only one dumbbell. Do all the reps on one side. Repeat on the other side.

This is a sure move to improve strength on any pressing exericse.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Eat Fats to Lose Fat

Don't expect to eat all the junk saturated or trans fats to lose fat. Not only that, they'll swell your waisteline and clog up your arteries.

Some essential unsaturated fats are good healthy fats that help protect your heart and arteries and prevent other diseases.

So what are these "good" fats?

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
It's an omega-3 fatty acid produced in algae then goes up in food chain to fish. Omega-3s are major components of the cell membranes and are vital elements in your immune system.

Omega-3s have been shown to reduce heart disease risk, decrease "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and lower blood pressure. They fight inflammation such as from workout and prevent inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

According to Dr. Andrew Stoll, director of phychopharmacology laboratory at McLean Hospital in boston, an adult male with no major health problems should get a gram of EPA a day. Eating fish two or three times a week will help meet this requirement.

With concern about heavy metal pollution contained in fish, it's wise to try different fish in different sources. Sources of EPA include: fatty fish (sardines and salmon), grass-fed beef, specially labeled eggs (Eggland's Best and Gold Circle Farms), and supplements.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
It's another omega-3 fatty acid not produced by the human body. Researchers have found that DHA is essential for brain development. Low levels of DHA have been associated with depression and Alzhimer's disease.

According to Dr. Stoll, taking in DHA 100 to 200 mg a day should be sufficient for an adult make since it accumulates in the body over time. A fish-oil supplement that has enough EPA is likely to contain at least that much.

The sources of DHA are the same as for EPA.

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
This fatty acid is converted by human body into the omega-3s EPA and DHA. ALA has been found to lower risk of heart disease and some cancers. It may also help lower blood pressure, help relieve arthritis pain and reduce the risk of depression.

A few studies, however, have found a correlation between high ALA consumption and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, some doctors are against men taking flaxseed oil which has a high concentration of both linolenic acid and linoleic acid.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How to Control Your Cravings

You Can't Stop the Cravings!

Controlling your cravings is probably one of the most difficult ordeal when you're on a diet. It's a true test on your will power. And the chances are that you will lose the "will power" game - another reason not to go on diet.

It's All About Blood Sugar

Cravings are all about blood sugar. If you eat consistently throughout the day, your blood sugar levels are like to be consistent as well. When you starve yourself for hours, your hunger and cravings will call. And you will answer by surrendering yourself to over eating and binge eating when you get that chance.

When you suddenly eat a lot, particularly simple carb or sugar, the fast-rising blood sugar triggers your pancreas to release a flood of insulin, a hormone that not only lowers blood sugar but also signals your body to store fat. Insulin tends to spike up and then sends blood sugar crashing. This reinforces the binge, because it makes you crave sugar and starch again.

How to Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check

The most effective way to keep you blood sugar in check is to avoid foods that are made with added sugar such as soda, some fruit juices, baked goods. In addition, minimize foods that contain high amounts of starch such as pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, or any other flour-based foods. You should limit yourself to 30 to 40 grams (g) of total carbohydrates at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and 10 to 20 g at any given snack.

More Effective Strategies ...

Here are 8 strategies to help you control your cravings:

1. Eat regularly
Eat approximately every 3 hours. This allows you to eat smaller meals without becoming hungry.

2. Have protein and fat at every meal
This slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar.

3. Eat more whole grain
Shop carefully for carbs. Make sure any bread, pasta, or rice that you eat is 100 percent whole grain. Because whole grains contain fiber, their effect on your blood sugar is reduced.

4. Eat breakfast
Since you sleep for 6 to 8 hours without any food intake, your body is essentially running empty in the morning. Your body demands all sorts of vital nutrients to function normally. If you skip breakfast and by the time you get to work at 8 or 9 o'clock, you'll desperately seek sugar that is easy to find. The most convenient foods are often the same ones you should be avoiding. These convenient foods are in the vending machines or on your eye-level shelves in the supermarkets. They're usually packed with sugar (candy bars, soda), or other fast-digesting carbohydrates (cookies, chips).

5. Watch your food environment
In my earlier article on New Year's Resolutions, watching your environment is one of my TOP 10 strageties. If you want to stay healthy and fit, you really need to watch your food environment in your home, at work, and in your car. Clean out your cupboard and fridge. Restock them with healthy foods and snacks such as almonds and other nuts, cheese, fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna, chicken, and salmon. Keep healthy snacks at work and in your car. So when it's time to eat, you won't run to the vending machines for pricey sugary snacks. You won't drive through the fast-food joints when you're on the go.

6. Sense the hunger signal
Have a craving for sweets, even though you ate just an hour ago? When the hunger strikes, everything in sight is so tantalizing and irresistible. Your WILL POWER just doesn't do anyting good at all. You can replace your old habit of eating more sweets for a quick pick-me-up with a new healthy habit of doing 15 pushups, 15 squats and one-pint water.

7. Take a sensible approach
Before you put money in the vending machines or drive-thru, think about whether it's moving you one step closer to your goals or one step away from them. Think abut the consequences. Rethink about your goals and commitments. The changes are in 8 or 9 out of 10 times, you'll make a better and wiser decision.

8. Find more motivation
If your diet's only purpose is to help you finally achieve six-pack abs, it may be hard to stick with for the long haul. An easy fix is to find additional incentives to motivate yourself. Think about improving your overall health, reducing healthcare cost, better life quality.

8 1/2. Natural remedy
This tip cannot be counted as a full strategy. If you have tried all of the above strategies and still want something more or different, you can try sniffing peppermint essential oil to help you curb appetite. Click here to learn more about the science and research study.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Truth about Building Muscle: Your Best Secret Weapon Revealed

Lean muscle is the best fat burning engine. Period.

What's the best way to build lean muscle?

It's not just the exercises, light weight - high reps or heavy weight - low reps, etc. These are all good and important, but not enough.

The secret to build muscles is to do whatever you can to to increase your testosterone level. Why testosterone (T)?

Testosterone (T) helps activate Type I slow-twitch (for endurance) and Type IIb fast-twitch (for strength and power) fibers to Type IIa fibers which have the greatest potential for muscle growth from weight training.

A high-intensity weight training session boosts your T levels for about 1-2 hours after the workout and then levels off after about 48 hours. This is actually a good thing, although research does not know why this happens, because T is taken up by the muscles to increase protein synthesis.

Now you know why it's importance to recover from workout to workout. As you work out more and more and get bigger and stronger, your body's hormone receptors become more sensitive and are able to do more with the same amount of T. Consistent training also results in activating your T receptors with small bursts of testosterone, making your body more efficient at using T.

As you know, muscle is your secret weapon to fighting abdominal fat, especially the fat that accumulates around your mid section (the 'love handle"). Research shows that increased abdominal fat decreases T levels. So weight training increases testosterone's effects simply by reducing body fat. Sounds good?

But what's the best way to increase your natural testosterone level?

Lean muscle is your secret weapon to fighting abdominal fat, especially the fat that accumulates around your mid section (the 'love handle"). The reason behind this is that testosterone is the anabolic hormone responsible for muscular development.

So what's the best way to increase your natural testosterone level?
  • Lift heavy that recruit, involve and stimulate more muscle tissue.
  • Use compound movements to maximize muscle-fiber involvement such as squat and deadlift.
  • Keep rest interval short to effectively optimize hormone release.
  • Don't over-train to avoid releasing catabolic hormone (cortisol) which breaks down muscle fiber.

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