Sunday 17 November 2019

Eat these to promote fat loss.

Eat Your Way Slim
We’d all love a magic pill or food that makes weight loss easy and permanent. But until either one comes around, healthy eating is still your best bet. The trick is to choose foods that do three things:

  1.  Keep you full

  2.  Won’t cause major spikes in your blood sugar (too much sugar in your blood gets stored as fat)

  3. Support a healthy metabolism -- your body’s system for turning what you eat and drink into energy 

It’s Important to Eat

If the rule of weight loss is to burn more calories than you take in, not eating should make you lose weight fast, right? Wrong. Animal studies show that with less eating, the body goes into “starvation mode,” burning fewer calories to conserve energy. Also, you’ll be short on nutrients, making you tired and sluggish. To get your pep back, you might be tempted to eat sugary or fatty foods, which will pack all those skipped calories back on.

Choose Iodine-Rich Foods

The thyroid gland plays a key role in helping your metabolism burn calories and control your appetite. To do its job, your thyroid needs healthy levels of iodine. Most people in the U.S. get all the iodine they need through a regular diet, but some foods have more iodine than others. Make sure you get at least some of these common sources:
  1.  Table salt

  2.  Egg yolks

  3. Milk and dairy products

  4.  Saltwater fish, such as cod

Show Legumes Some Love

Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, are rich in fiber. This makes your metabolism work harder to digest them and keeps you feeling full longer. Studies have shown that lentils can help you eat less and lower your body weight and waist measurements. Beans also have something called resistant starch, which is linked to higher rates of fat metabolism.

Water, Drink Up!

Water supports your metabolism in ways that might surprise you. The trick is to drink more than usual, or drink it instead of beverages with calories. Research suggests that water may:

  1. Help you take in fewer calories

  2.  Boost calorie burning if you’re obese

  3.  Help your body burn fat

Want to bump up the health benefits of water? Drink it very cold. Your digestive system burns extra calories -- about eight -- to get it to room temperature. Eight calories per glass isn’t much, but it adds up over the course of a day, and especially over a week.

Get Your Calcium

When you think of the role of calcium, strong bones probably come to mind. You can thank your metabolism for that, as it helps your body get calcium from food. Some studies suggest calcium can also help you shed pounds and fat, but it’s too early to know for sure. Still, you can’t go wrong with healthy, calcium-rich foods in your diet. These include low-fat dairy, broccoli, and canned sardines or salmon, which have soft, edible bones.

Don’t Be Ginger About Ginger

This funny-looking root packs all kinds of health benefits: It can soothe an upset tummy and ease arthritis pain and swelling. Research shows it may also have a powerful effect on body weight and blood sugar. One study found that drinking a hot ginger drink with breakfast lowered feelings of hunger and had a strong thermogenic (calorie-burning) effect. You can savor its spicy kick in tea and Asian dishes such as stir-fries and soups.

Be Less Refined About Grains

Love Chinese takeout? Do your metabolism a favor and ask for brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice is a whole grain, while white rice -- which has been stripped of the brown nutrient-rich layer -- is a refined one. Some studies show that whole grains have an effect on weight loss, but the jury’s still out on that. Whole grains, unlike refined ones, support your body in key ways:

   1. Appetite control

   2. Nutrient supply

   3.  Sustained energy

Load Up on Low-Glycemic Foods

Low-glycemic index (low-GI) foods are relatively low in carbohydrates. Your body digests them more slowly than high-carb, high-glycemic index foods. That means your blood sugar doesn’t surge when you eat them. Research suggests low-GI diets can help stop diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. Low-GI foods include green veggies, chickpeas, most fruits, beans, and bran breakfast cereals.

Steer Clear of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

The obvious reason sugar-sweetened beverages are a no-no for your waistline: They have lots of calories. Some research suggests they can also negatively impact your metabolism beyond the “calories in, calories out” rule. Juice, regular soda, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and body fat. Several studies have shown that sugar also increases cholesterol levels.

Cut Down on Alcohol

It’s easy to forget about calories in what you drink, and the ones in alcohol add up quickly. A 12-ounce beer has about 150 calories -- 100 in a light brew. There are about 100 calories in a 1½-ounce shot of rum, whiskey, or vodka, and a pina colada packs 490! Alcohol can also stimulate your appetite. The weight you gain from it tends to settle on your belly, which can cause heart disease, diabetes, and raise your breast cancer risk.

The Skinny on Fat

Your body needs some fat to work well. But fat is high in calories, and it doesn’t keep you feeling full. This can lead you to eat more later, taking in even more calories. And indulging in fatty foods for even a short time can worsen your metabolism. One study found that just 5 days of eating a high-fat diet can hurt your muscles’ ability to process glucose. This can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems.


Sunday 10 November 2019

Added sugar: Where is it hiding?

      Added sugar is everywhere in the food supply. Britain take in an average of more than 17 teaspoons of sugar (about 290 calories) a day from added sugars, often in sweetened beverages, far more than the daily recommended amount
    Sugar is added to countless food products, including breads, condiments, dairy-based foods, nut butters, salad dressings, and sauces. The sugar is added not just to impart sweetness. It's also used to extend shelf life and adjust attributes like the texture, body, colour, and browning capability of food
        To start reducing added sugar in your diet, first it helps to know where it comes from. Here are the basics.
Where's the sugar?
     Unless you consume only whole, unprocessed foods, you are bound to have added sugars in your daily diet. Sugar-sweetened beverages lead the pack, but many other foods also contain added sugar—sometimes a substantial amount in a typical portion.
Sugar-sweetened beverages.
      Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute about half of the total added sugar in the supply. The source of the sweetness in most products is high-fructose corn syrup. These sugary drinks include any of the following:
             regular soda
             juice drinks, like fruit punch and juice "cocktails" (but not whole fruit and vegetable juices)
             energy drinks
             sports drinks
             sweet tea
             sweetened coffee drinks
             sweetened water
             any other beverages with sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup added to enhance sweetness.
        It's important not to confuse sugar-sweetened juice drinks with whole fruit juices. Processed beverages like fruit punch or cranberry juice cocktail contain a fair amount of added sugar—in the case of cranberry juice cocktail, the sugar is added to counter the naturally sour taste of cranberries. This is an example of a fruit drink that is also a sugar-sweetened beverage, and therefore a source of added sugar. Whole (100% fruit) juices contain only the sugars in the juice extracted from the fruit or vegetable. However, it's a good idea to limit even whole juices in your diet.
         Sugar-sweetened drinks can pump a large amount of added sugar into your body, and quickly. These beverages are not as filling as sweet whole foods like fruit, so it's easier to consume a lot of them. On average,Britains get more than 200 calories a day from sugary drinks, about four times what we consumed in 1965.

Sweets and desserts.
Brownies, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, pastries, pies, puddings, and sweet rolls are just some of the processed foods widely understood to contain substantial amounts of added sugar.
Honey and syrups.
Sugars naturally present in honey and syrups, including maple syrup, are also considered added sugars. Although honey and syrup are sold as freestanding products, you don't eat them by themselves. They are squirted into hot drinks, drizzled on pancakes and waffles, or added during baking or making sweets.
Condiments are defined as spices, sauces, or other preparations that you add to food to enhance its flavor. Tomato ketchup, relish, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, and salsa are condiments, and they can contain considerable amounts of sugar per serving.
Prepared foods.
    A vast variety of prepared foods contain additional sweeteners. Breakfast cereals contain added sugar, but so do ready-to-eat meals, breads, soups, tomato sauces, snacks, and cured meats.
     Among the many processed and prepared foods with added sugar are sugar-sweetened yogurts. Plain unsweetened yogurt contains naturally occurring milk sugars, but added sugar can double or triple the total amount of sugar.
Are natural sugar alternatives healthier
      Many people are seeking out what they perceive to be healthier alternatives to refined (granulated) white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. They may have heard that plant-based natural or organic sweeteners such as agave syrup (sometimes called nectar) or coconut sugar are less likely to trigger spikes in blood sugar. Less-processed "raw" sugars, maple syrup, or honey also may be perceived as better options simply because they are more "natural" than highly refined table sugar.
      Popular sugar alternatives do come from things in nature, such as tree sap or beehives. But the sugar in them is the same as what you'll find in a bag of "unnatural," refined white or confectioner's sugar. The same goes for sugars labeled "organic" or "raw." Though less-processed sugars may contain trace elements and minerals that refined white sugar lacks, they still end up as glucose (blood sugar) after the body breaks them down.
      In the case of agave syrup, there is a difference in the way the body processes it compared with table sugar. Agave syrup is mostly fructose, which does not directly raise blood sugar (glucose) levels. Instead, the fructose goes to the liver to be converted to glucose  
   On the other hand, consuming excess amounts of fructose can cause the liver to start making fat in the form of triglycerides. Chronically high triglycerides raise the risk for diabetes and heart disease.
In the end, the key message is "the dose makes the poison." Whatever type of sugar you use to sweeten your tea or oatmeal, or to cook with, the important thing is to limit the total amount of added sugar in your diet.


Sunday 10 March 2019

Do you have mental toughness ?

Being mentally tough: it’s within all of us!

Mental toughness is something most athletes want to have in abundance. Andy Lane argues that all people can show mental toughness if the situation is life threatening, or the goal is sufficiently important it activates a psychological state characterised by positive beliefs on coping with the pain from intense exercise. This article provides guidance on how athletes and everyday people can access their mental toughness.

At a glance
     Mental toughness is a highly popular concept mainly because its name is so appealing. Almost all aspiring athletes will want to be seen by others and see themselves as mentally tough.
     Athletes from a wide range of sports can display mental toughness, but this article focuses on coping with sensations of fatigue that stem from intense training. This type of training is common for most sport and physical activity.
     Mental toughness is widely debated in the academic literature, and although there is a great deal of debate on its nature, a common element is that it describes the capability to relentlessly pursue personal goals and be able to cope with adversity including sensations of fatigue and pain.
     When the goal is important enough, and where the athlete is highly motivated to pursue that goal, then an athlete will accept experiencing intense pain. A function of intense pain is to question whether the goal is worth pursuing. I propose that it’s not a lack of mental toughness that limits performance, but that the goal is not worth the suffering it brings.

What is mental toughness?

Interest in mental toughness by the academic, coaching and lay community is hardly surprising. Mental toughness is a set of interrelated concepts that describe athletes that are highly competitive, committed, self- motivated, cope effectively, and maintain concentration in pressurized situations, persist when the going gets tough, and retain high levels of self-belief even after setbacks(1).
Research in mental toughness began gathering momentum following Graham Jones(2)  article “What is this thing called mental toughness? An investigation of elite sport performers”. Subsequent research has clarified and expanded knowledge in this area and further studies have demonstrated that interventions such as imagery, goal-setting and self-talk can help athletes build mental toughness(3). As a crude summary of developments in this area, researchers have made theoretical leaps and bounds to define and clarify the concepts, and, importantly, kept an ongoing focus on how to transfer theory to practice. Research into mental toughness is flourishing and this can only be helpful as the concepts it covers have a huge interests to athletes and coaches.
However, the popularity of the topic and focus on elite athletes has led to questions on the extent to which non-elite athletes are mentally tough(3, 4). In this article, I argue that the ability to display mental toughness is within all people and, conscious of that fact, they should learn when they can activate it.

What evidence is there that we are all mentally tough?

People who might seem normal or average frequently display mental toughness in potentially life-threatening situations. Possibly the most powerful literature on the area of pain management is the study of pregnant women going through childbirth(5). An industry has developed to help women manage pain during childbirth; however, it is worth noting that most pain-management interventions are relatively modern (within the last 100 years). Qualitative accounts of women going through childbirth without pain management provide detailed descriptions of mental toughness characterized by dealing with thoughts of death and coping with intense pain(6).
Evolutionary psychologists have argued that humans have evolved to cope with pain and this coping response is hard wired and that we only access this response when situation demands call for it(6). In situations such as childbirth or other potentially life-threatening situations such as military endeavours(7), intense emotions are activated. Emotions have been found to mask sensations of pain(6). If an individual is aware that

this is the process, and effective coping systems are with them, albeit dormant most of the time, then they have the potential to show an abundant amount of mental toughness. If an athlete perceives that sensations of pain are something that has to be endured in order to achieve goals, then they have opened the door to activating their inner mental toughness.

Activating beliefs of mental toughness: “if he/she can do it, so can I”

People have a great deal more resources than they believe they possess and it is the ability to access these resources that is important. However, prior to being able to access them, the first step is to recognise that they exist; that is, say to yourself you can cope with a lot more than you think. One way of changing your view of how much you can cope with is to watch seemingly normal people do extra ordinary challenges. One example is Prof Greg Whyte’s work on Comic Relief challenges, which include some extra-ordinary performance such as swimming the English Channel (David Walliams), running repeated marathons (Eddie Izzard), and swimming in very cold water (Davina McCall). It’s worth remembering the qualities needed to be a comedian/actor bear little resemblance with those needed to be an athlete. Research shows that people learn by watching others and if someone of a similar age, gender, and experience of the task at hand succeeds, then this can develop the thought that if he/she can do it, so can I(8).

Is the goal worth it?

A key aspect that can help decide if someone activates her/his mental toughness is whether the goal is sufficiently important. When we ask athletes whether the goal is important, they tend to report positively. On a 1-10 scale (1 is not important and 10 is highly important), few athletes report a goal is lower than 5, and the variation in terms of importance often starts at 8(9). Therefore, using a rating scale does not reliably provide useful information.
The task below can help you identify which goal is the most important. Rather than rate the importance, it helps the individual work out which goal is more important, and whether trying to achieve one goal might influence attempts to attain another.
Task: Rate and rank your goals
What is your goal?
Reflection on the challenge the goal presents
1. To run a sub 3-hour marathon
“This has been a goal for a while and whilst I have come close (within seconds), I have not achieved it”
2. To run 5km in sub-17 mins
“I have come close to this, but not achieved it. I find the marathon training leaves me a bit tired at times”
Reflection and evaluation
The aim is to compare and contrast the two goals and examine if they could conflict. Having time to go for 2 goals can be an issue and so prioritising one over the other in terms of when they will be attempted can help.
In this case, the athlete needs to focus on one of these goals almost exclusively of the other. Placing the emphasis onto speed required for the 5km and intense pain from lactic acid associated with speed work is a different type of coping than that needed for a marathon. Running pace in the marathon would feel slow in comparison to running 5km, but mental toughness is likely to stem from being able to manage the supposedly slower pace over the final stages.
The suggestion is that the athlete decides which goal to focus on and commits to achieving that. The two goals are arguably in conflict both physiologically and psychologically.
Your go
What is your goal?
Reflection on the challenge the goal presents
Reflection and evaluation

Using psychological skills to build mental toughness

Having identified the goal and worked out that you are committed to achieving that goal; the next step is to develop resources ready to meet the challenges that you could face; that is, getting the qualities that might be described as mental toughness ready for when they are needed. Research has found that use of psychological skills such as imagery and self-talk associate with mental toughness (2,3,10). Both imagery and self-talk are strategies where an individual changes her/his internal dialogue to be able to do a task successfully. Imagery can help achieve this via use of images and self-talk via language.

Text Box: Example of developing mental toughness in a soccer player…
A young professional soccer player has to participate in a multistage shuttle run test (bleep test) as part of his club’s conditioning and assessment programme. The bleep test is progressive and maximal and therefore he will run until exhaustion. The player believes that being one of the fittest players will help him gain an established place in the team. He also believes that the coach likes players to show mental toughness. Therefore, on the day of the test, getting a high score on the bleep test is an important goal, and the player needs to accept that he must produce a maximal performance and this will require coping with intense fatigue.
To develop strategies to show mental toughness, the player should examine their inner dialogue and thoughts when doing similar tasks. Even if the player has not done the test before, there will be a time when he actively made a decision to stop exercising or slowed down; that is, he weighed up current feelings of fatigue against what was causing them, and made the decision to slow down. It is these thoughts and perceptions of fatigue that need to be addressed via self-talk training and imagery; thoughts that say slowdown will not be accepted if thoughts to achieve a certain goal are more powerful. And the decision to slow down is based on perceptions of fatigue, and the individual needs to increase the point where these thoughts occur.


In conclusion, mental toughness is something humans have in abundance and can access this when priorities demand. Where these goals are voluntary where the decision to abandon the goal is an option rather than involuntary, such as life-threatening situations or childbirth, then reflecting on whether the pursuit of the goal is worth the pain that will be experienced can help clarify whether managing the pain will be worth it. Where goals are appraised as highly important, then psychological skills such as self-talk and imagery can help an individual re-programme how they will respond when unwanted thoughts occur during performance.




1. J of Sp Psych in Action, Vol 2(1), Apr,. pp. 21-32. 2011 2. J of Applied Sp Psych, 14(3), 205-218, 2002.

3. J of Sps Sci, 26(1), 83-95, 2008.

4. Personality and Individual Differences 60, 30-35. 2014

5. Ame J of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 186 , Issue 5 ,S160-S172, 2002.

6. Evolutionary and proximate explanations. In: Scherer K, Sander D, editors. The Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sci. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 158-159.

7. Military Psych, 24:331–345, 2012.

8. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, W.H. Freeman. 1997. 9. J of Sps Sci, 14, 94, 1996.

Text Box: PEAK PERFORMANCE ISSUE 33910. Case Studies in Sp Science and Medicine. CreateSpace ISBN 420-426, 2014


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