Category: Weight Loss

Hoodia: So Much More Than Latin for ‘Hoodie’

The claims about hoodia are about as accurate as that headline.

Don’t get hoodiawinked. Here’s the truth about this alleged weight-loss miracle cactus (Latin for…well, cactus).

Does Hoodia Work?

In a word, no. There’s no proof that hoodia works to help you lose weight – not even a little. Myths, legends, stories and anecdotes are convincing because they resonate with emotional desires (which is why any profitable scam manages to make money). Hoodia is no exception – this new fat-reduction fad product has no scientific evidence to support the claims. Do a little digging around, and you’ll learn that the hoodia being sold is not even the real thing anyway.

Hoodia is a cactus from South Africa. There are 20 types, but gordonii is the only one that actually quells hunger. Here’s the catch: this version of hoodia is endangered and therefore protected by law. It’s not allowed to be harvested and can only be exported to botanists for study.

Now, the chow-suppressing molecule in gordonii hoodia is called P57. Right now, a company called Phytofarm owns it, and you won’t be getting your hands on it anytime soon. Unilever and Pfizer both paid big sums to Phytopharm to toy with hoodia over the last three years, to no avail. Why? Because it doesn’t work for weight loss.

Hoodia products on the market are not real hoodia (and there have been a flurry of government cease-and-desist orders in attempts to stop this scam). Even real hoodia doesn’t work when it’s powdered, processed or the P57 molecule is extracted. You have to eat actual pieces of the plant. Moreover, hoodia does not burn fat – its function is to slow the metabolism, which often has the reverse desired effect. Your body thinks it’s starving, so it hangs on to fat stores even more aggressively.

Web it out:

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[tags]Hoodia, cactus, gordonii, fat reduction, Phytofarm[/tags]

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The Tuesday 10

The Top 10 Tips for: Getting Fit Wanna get fit? If you’re just starting out, keep in mind it’s not going to happen overnight…but you can be lookin’ pretty good by next month with these tips. The reason most get-ripped regimens fail is because we simply expect way too much, way too soon. Big changes in your body require big changes in your lifestyle. Period. It took your whole life to be the way you are now, right? It’s going to take more than two days to start making changes to that. But these 10 pointers will get you started – and you’ll notice some very pleasant effects if you stick with them. You’ll be surprised that very few of them have anything to do with lifting so much as a finger. Fitness is many factors coming together – it’s a lot more than just hitting the gym (thank goodness). 1. Cut calories the lazy way. To shape up, you must reduce your fat so your muscles can start doing their thing. This is actually very, very easy to do: every time you go to put something in your mouth, don’t. No, no, just kidding! You have to eat. Here’s what to do: – in restaurants, eat half the plate and get the rest to go. Don’t eat it when you get home – let the dog or the neighbor kid with hollow legs enjoy it. – immediately run out and get yourself some 7″ plates. Those are now your dinner plates. Preso, portion sizes reduced. – Don’t eat anything crunchy, creamy, pale or fried. This pretty much takes care of all high-calorie, unhealthy foods. Examples: chips, ranch dressing, bread sticks, chicken nuggets. We know, veggies are crunchy. It’s not an absolute rule. Just a guide. – Switch all snacks to cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or broccoli florets. Depending on how much you snack, you’ll save 200 to 600 calories a day doing this. 2. Don’t drink your calories. A little coffee or tea is one thing. But soda, shakes, iced coffee drinks, juices and energy drinks are overflowing with calories, which you don’t want, right? Don’t waste precious caloric intake on liquids that don’t fill you up. 3. Absolutely no drive-through or delivery food. McDonald’s likes to run those “Mommy and me” ads that show slender young Mommy eating salad while her ringlet-bedecked tutu-wearing darling is busy dipping apples into some sweet sap. Please. This stuff is generally more marketing than meaningful, so read the ingredients and avoid anything sweet or fried. Best to stick to fresher fare. 4. Move it! You don’t have to become a gym rat. You don’t have to sign up for the local 10K. But you need to move. Simply put, any movement that is more than you currently do is going to be effective. If you don’t ever work out, walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week is going to start having an impact after just two … Continue reading “The Tuesday 10”

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I Can’t Eat Anything!

Junior Apple Mike F. writes: “Mark, what can I eat? I hear dairy is bad, fat is bad, then fat is good, but some fat is bad, carbs are bad, but fiber is good. There is nothing left. I can’t even have milk in my tea now – not that I would be caught sipping tea. But if I wanted to is the point. What’s a guy supposed to eat?” Good question, Mike. The answer: just about everything. I am pretty disciplined (according to my kids, I’m a drill sergeant). I don’t really “do” carbs, I definitely avoid any junk or processed food, and I try to eat organic. But even being so careful about what goes on my plate, I’d say honestly I get a lot more flavor and variety than some people I know who insist on a steady diet of burgers, beers and pizzas. The truth is, “fun” foods like nachos, pizza and tacos all taste the same: the texture is usually a mix of creamy or crunchy, there’s a lot of salt, some meat-type seasoning, and sugar. Eat that stuff and you’re starving the next hour. You can eat salad and be a man about it. Seriously. I’m fitter, have more muscle mass and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been at 5’10”, 165 lbs. and 8% body fat. I do it with a heavy supply of vegetables, of all things. I never worry too much about fat because I eat a lot of “good” fats, which really aren’t too hard to identify. More on that in a moment. But honestly, I never am deprived, hungry or suffer from any cravings. Actually, I refuse to eat something that isn’t delicious, period. To me, the relentlessly boring, salty, familiar flavor of most processed foods is not delicious. The fact that they’re also totally unhealthy is almost a side issue. This morning, for example, I had my cup of joe with a little organic H&H. I don’t always eat breakfast (there I go breaking all the holy grails of health). This morning I had some scrambled Omega-enhanced eggs, and sometimes I’ll have a piece of fruit or a protein smoothie. I confess I don’t eat a lot of fruit (my wife jokes that men like the idea of fruit but don’t always know what to do with it). I like to get my fiber from vegetables since they’re lower in sugar and have more nutrients than fruit. For a snack I’ll grab a piece of fruit, cherry tomatoes or some almonds. I completely avoid processed snacks like chips and candy. Fresh stuff just tastes better – but it will take your body some time to readjust its tastes if you’ve been a junk food kind of guy. For lunch (speaking of lunch…): I always eat a huge salad. I’ve done so for 20 years. But no regular salad – I add in seafood or turkey, mountains of colorful chopped up veggies, and drizzle some balsamic vinegar on … Continue reading “I Can’t Eat Anything!”

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Lose Weight, Lose Cancer?

A new study seems to confirm that losing even a few pounds can help reduce a man’s prostate cancer risk. But what’s most intriguing about the latest and greatest findings is the following:

The studies reinforce the notion that prostate cancer is not a single cancer but a family of diseases, each fueled by different chemicals…

Cancer, once thought to be a “single” disease, may in fact be more similar to a condition caused by an association of factors or culprits: stress, oxidation, cell mutation, even fungus. We certainly know now that even within types of cancers, the pathologies are incredibly complicated.

It’s an ongoing issue we’ll be getting into more deeply in the future. For now, give the article a click, and spread the word: weight loss is almost always a benefit to health.

What are your thoughts, Apples?

[tags] oncology, cancer risk, cell mutation, cancer etiology [/tags]

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Holiday Survival Guide, Part 1

Oh, the holidays. Before you say “bah, humbug!”, rest assured we’re going to help you stay healthy. Everyone knows the holidays are a spare tire waiting to happen. Alcohol, rich desserts and indulgent carbs are practically throwing themselves at you, begging to be eaten and taking it personally if you don’t. You know what we’re talking about – food is emotional, and powerfully so. It’s that bizarre twinge of guilt for attempting to say no to foods which, come holiday season, seem to take on actual feelings. It’s almost like you’re insulting the food if you don’t eat it. There’s a reason for this. Rich foods, particularly sugary desserts, have long been combined with emotional events. In the Middle Ages, these items were called subtleties, and they still exist today: in the form of Easter chicks, Easter bunnies, Valentine’s hearts, advent calendars, Christmas cookies, and so on. That’s really great, you say. But it still doesn’t help me say no to unhealthy foods or avoid gaining ten pounds before the New Year knocks at my door. Hey, we hear ya. So, here’s a quick-and-easy realistic guide to getting through the holidays, enjoying them, and maintaining your sanity. Part 1: It Ain’t Just the Sugar A lot of holiday health guides point to the obvious no-no: sugar. Of course you want to stay away from sugar, but that’s probably not realistic, no matter how disciplined you are. We suggest you instead focus on limiting portions. A lot of times, we simply expect too much from ourselves. “No sugar, period. I will be healthy and eat only bean casserole, being careful to remove the crispy fried onions.” This works fine for about five minutes, until peer pressure, Aunt Louise and mulled wine conspire to destroy your best-laid plans. Before you know it, you’ve eaten three cookies, two slices of pie and eighty-three truffles. You feel guilty, bloated and sick, you give yourself a pep talk, and at the next party…you do it all over again. Step 1: No ridiculous standards. Do not set a goal for yourself that you know you probably won’t reach (from past experience or awareness of your weak points). This just makes you feel bad, and no one is putting that pressure on you, so be nice to yourself. Who needs the added stress? Find a middle ground. If you normally end up indulging through the holidays, try giving yourself a “one freebie” rule: one treat at every party or event. Step 2: Portion control. The amount of indulgence is more important than anything else. If you love carrot cake, eat a big bite or two, and stop. It won’t taste any better if you eat the entire thing, and you’ll have accomplished two great things: some enjoyment and some discipline. One bite of sugary cake isn’t great, but it’s not going to be cause for regret. You can try out a few of your favorite treats this way without doing any serious damage to your health or … Continue reading “Holiday Survival Guide, Part 1”

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Are Germs Making You Fat?

A fascinating article in New Scientist discusses the impact that germs have on your weight.

In short, our digestive tracts are host to millions of microbes that aid in fermenting and digesting food. There are germs that help break down carbohydrates, germs that help digest fats, and so on. What’s fascinating is the new finding that obese people have more of a particular type of microbe that not only digests “better” but digests carbohydrates “better”.

However, in this situation, “better” is not better at all. In times when food was scarce (certainly not a problem now), being able to maximize every bit of nutritional value from each bite was a benefit. That’s not such a good thing now, particularly for carbohydrate digestion. What this means is that being overweight makes you more likely to become even more overweight.

This is really big news, Apples.

It’s a self-perpetuating system. The more carbohydrates are taken in – because the body is becoming better and better at digesting them – the more those carbohydrates are stored as fat. The body literally is set on a “get fat” course because the digestive tract becomes “efficient” at turning food into stored fat. All thanks to germs.

These digestive microbial bacteria are developed early in life – within the first few years. You can see how a childhood spent eating bad foods sets people up for a lifetime of obesity. And because of the self-perpetuating nature, the more fat you get, the more fat you get.

There’s good news, however. When study participants were put on a reduced-carbohydrate diet, the carbohydrate-friendly microbes began to die, coming closer to levels found in thin people. And, of course, the individuals lost weight. Eventually, the body can be retrained, and the digestive microbes we want – the ones that don’t extract quite as much from the food we eat – increase. All it takes is the first step, and the body can be retrained.

More on this in coming posts, Apples.

Aside from the carbohydrate and weight issues, there’s a further issue to consider: should we be supplementing with beneficial bacteria? And if so, which kind?

[tags] digestive tract, bacteria, gut bugs, germs, carbohydrates, metabolism [/tags]

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