With so many contradictory fad diets out there, it's often hard to tell the fact from fiction. Should all carbs be banned? Do mini meals really boost your metabolism? To shed some light on what actually works, we caught up with Kimberly Snyder, a celebrity nutritionist (she's worked with Drew Barrymore and Kerry Washington) and the author of The Beauty Detox Foods. Here, she breaks down which diet myths are more hype than truth.
1. MYTH: Eating after 8 P.M. causes weight gain.
When it comes to eating at night, the issue is less about a specific time, but more about when your head hits the pillow. Snyder recommends eating dinner at least three to four hours before bed. If your bedtime is close to 11 p.m. or midnight, eating at or a bit after 8 p.m. is reasonable. "My 'light to heavy' principle means eating foods that are easy to digest during the day so you don't get weighed down," says Snyder. "So at dinner, which is a social time, and when you can slow down to chew well and not have other foods coming later to digest, you can enjoy a sensible dinner."
2. MYTH: Small, frequent meals boost metabolism.
Eating small meals may temporarily boost metabolism, but Snyder argues that because you're always digesting, your digestion system will get overworked, using up a lot of energy. "Also, if new foods are constantly coming down the pipeline, you won't be able to fully digest and fully assimilate the nutrients of everything you've eaten."
3. MYTH: Carbohydrates are the enemy.
There are three types of carbs - complex, simple and fiber - and they shouldn't all get a bad rap. "It is important to eat carbohydrates in their best forms, rather than blanketing the carbohydrates category as 'bad.' Avoid gluten and refined carbs and sugars, and stick to whole food carbs like sweet potatoes and quinoa."
4. MYTH: The more calories you cut, the more weight you'll lose.
"Yes, we do want to eat fewer calories in general, but making that a top priority is not going to help shed the pounds. Plus, if you cut calories, not only will you suffer and obsess, but your body will get used to functioning on fewer calories and may still hold onto excess weight. When you give your body quality, fiber-filled and whole foods, you will see your body change in a natural way - and without starving."
Ask most women what some of their body hang-ups are and chances are you’ll get this answer: “I hate how my underarms look dark and discolored.” This is something very common with darker-skin women due to the higher melanin concentration in our skin. Mela-what? Here’s a quick biology lesson for you: Melanin refers to the natural pigments found in our skin that when triggered causes skin to become darker as a way of protection. Yay for skin protection; boo for the uneven skin it leaves behind.
When it comes to your armpits, it is melanin that causes the area to become darker either through external assault or internal aggression. What exactly are these aggressions? Here are four of the most common ones that are leaving you with undesirable underarms.
1. Hormonal changes
Periodically, your body goes through hormonal changes, like when you get pregnant. This causes your body to increase the production of melanin, leading to blotchiness, uneven skin tone, and skin darkening on the upper lip, nose and yes, your underarms as well. Sometimes the discoloration goes away. But if you’re unlucky, it may stay on even after your pregnancy.
2. Excessive rubbing
The skin on your underarms is constantly rubbing against something. When this happens, it results in hyperkeratosis, which is the thickening of the skin that’s mean to provide protective against irritation. With hyperkeratosis comes hyperpigmentation, also known as discoloration.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can prevent this due to anatomy of your underarms. But you can minimize the friction. Avoid wearing rough clothing that can aggravate your underarm skin. Also, try to wear more loose clothes that minimize this contact.
Ever feel like you have lost your marbles? Between parenting, work, and the stress of life, sometimes it feels like we cannot remember even the simplest things. So many times I have made a "to-do" list and have then promptly proceeded to misplace the list. Now I keep all my lists on my phone. Well, at least until I lose my phone. In past years, we have heard in the media that you can keep your mind sharp by reading and doing mind games such as crossword puzzles, but there is so much more we can do proactively to keep our memories strong.
Eat your fruits and veggies.
Women who eat more blueberries and strawberries show a significant delay in mental decline compared to women who do not eat berries regularly, according to a study out of Harvard University. Other studies have shown that people who consume higher amounts of vegetables (in particular, leafy greens) have less age-related decline in memory. Veggies that are high in nitrates (such as beets, celery, and cabbage) are important too, as these foods can help to increase blood flow to the brain.
Learn something new.
We often hear that people can keep their minds sharp by reading and doing crossword puzzles. Research shows that learning a new skill can improve brain function. Choose anything from photography to web design to a new language, or whatever floats your boat. You can always learn something new!
Some vegetable oils that claim to be healthy may actually increase the risk of heart disease, says a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
University of Toronto and Western University researchers say that corn and safflower oil -- both rich in omega-6 linoleic acid, but containing virtually no omega-3 a-linolenic acid -- are not associated with beneficial heart health.
Suddenly, seeds are everywhere--beverages, bars, you name it. For little guys, seeds are nutritional powerhouses. But which ones deliver the health and body benefits you crave most? Some help.
Pomegranate for Slimming
Nature's "sweet tarts"--the juicy seed is a low-cal winner. It's packed with antioxidants and fat-burning vitamin C.
Hemp for Toned Muscles
It's one of the few vegetarian sources of complete protein, meaning it contains all 20 amino acids, key to building calorie-burning muscle. Sprinkle some in a postworkout shake for a pine nut-like flavor.
Chia for Strong Bones
Eat this earthy-tasting seed for its calcium--2 tbsp offers as much as a slice of cheddar! Mix 1/2 cup with 2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp maple syrup and cinnamon to taste, and chill for a tapiocalike pudding.
Pumpkin for Energy
The light and nutty pepita houses iron, a mineral that helps maintain high energy levels. Roast 1 cup seeds with 1/2 tsp each paprika, chili powder and sea salt for an easy to-go snack.
With natural antibacterial properties, high levels of vitamin C and the natural ability to support and detoxify your liver, lemon acts a strong defense against germs. As disease thrives in an acidic environment, it's alkalizing effect also promote health.
Traditionally used to soothe aches and pains because of its natural pain relieving effects, cinnamon is also a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal. This warming spice stimulates circulation and increases the elimination of toxins. (For more on the soothing health benefits of cinnamon click here.)
Ginger’s been used for centuries to relieve a sore throat and loosen up congestion due to a cold. Best known for its ability to calm an upset stomach, ginger can also relieve aches and pains due to its anti-inflammatory properties. (Click here for a warming apple ginger soup recipe.)
Cloves are expectorants, which means they make it easier to cough up and eliminate phlegm. They’re also natural pain relievers and high in antioxidants that support the immune system.
One of the most effective anti-inflammatories around, turmeric is one of the best things you can put in your body to prevent and treat cold and flu. Naturally anti-viral and antiseptic, this traditionally used spice works wonders on our immune system, liver and overall health. (For more on the health benefits of turmeric click here.)
From drinking coffee to regular yoga sessions, find out how you can make your fat cells more efficient with expert tips
What if you had your fat cells working for you instead of against you?
Adiponectin (a hormone produced in and sent out from your fat cells) can decrease inflammation, boost your metabolism and fuel overall fat loss when high levels of it are maintained in the body.
Even though it’s made by fat cells, adiponectin actually helps us lose fat by improving how our body processes glucose and insulin from the food we eat. You can think of it as the ultimate fat-loss friend since it’s produced by fat, but can also help to burn it up! Here are a few recommendations to keep your levels up in order to keep your weight down.
1. Don’t kick the coffee habit
It’s true. Regular coffee consumption has been linked to an increase in adiponectin levels and a reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could boost weight loss and reduce inflammation levels. In fact, habitual coffee consumption was associated with high adiponectin levels in a 2011 study of Japanese males. The study found that coffee was more successful than green tea in boosting adiponectin levels.
Bottom line: Choose organic, fair trade coffee and enjoy a cup early in the day for best results.
2. Bump up fat to lose fat
I’ve mentioned this before and it’s worth reiterating: fat begets fat meaning you need to take in healthy fats to shed fat.
Research published in Diabetes Care found that replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fat resulted in increases in fasting adiponectin levels (remember, more is better). Research also shows that monounsaturated fat reduces belly fat and decreases post-meal reduction in adiponection while on a higher-carb diet.
Bottom line: The great news is that these are the tastiest fats to eat! They include avocados, nuts, olive oil and olives. You also don’t have to stick to just topping your salads with olive oil – try avocado oil or macadamia nut oil (which can also be used when cooking on high heat).
3. Unleash the yoga mat
As we age, our risk for insulin resistance increases. We’re more prone to belly fat and reduced lean muscle mass, which leaves us burning fewer calories than we did in our more youthful days. The more fat tissue you have, the lower your adiponectin levels, which perpetuates the cycle of insulin resistance and belly fat.
Vitamin C isn’t just for immunity. Get five reasons why you need to load up on this supplement daily
While we usually associate vitamin C with its immune-boosting properties, the benefits of popping this vitamin daily extend well beyond cold and flu season. In fact, it probably isn’t given the credit it deserves so here are five new reasons to keep it in your daily supplement arsenal.
1. Reduce your risk of heart disease
Research from University of California, Berkeley, adds to the evidence that vitamin C supplements can lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a central biomarker of inflammation that has been shown as a powerful predictor of heart disease and diabetes. For healthy, non-smoking adults with an elevated level of CRP, a daily dose of vitamin C (we recommend 1000-3000 mg per day, or until bowel tolerance) lowered levels of the inflammation biomarker after two months.
According to the researchers, the improvement is comparable to many other studies of cholesterol lowering drugs. While further research is needed, it’s certainly another good reason to keep your vitamin C in your supplement stash.
2. Improve your stamina at the gym
Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body, making it a great idea to keep a bottle in your gym bag pre- and post-workout. One study, from the University of Wisconsin, found that 500 mg of vitamin C can offset workout fatigue.
Participants performed 60 minutes of exercise at the intensity of 50 percent of predicted maximal oxygen consumption. The vitamin C-supplemented group had significantly lower heart rates during exercise. In addition, perceived exertion and fatigue were both significantly reduced in the vitamin C group. The vitamin has also been shown to lower post-workout cortisol levels and improve recovery overall.
3. Feed your adrenals
Vitamin C is naturally highest in our adrenal glands. Research suggests stress can deplete our stores of the vitamin, meaning supplementation is a wise choice for extra protection during trying times.
Alabama researchers put laboratory rats under stress by immobilizing them for one hour a day over a three-week period. To check whether vitamin C would reduce the production of stress hormones, the rats were fed 200 mg a day. The study showed that vitamin C reduced the levels of stress hormones in their blood and also reduced other typical indicators of physical and emotional stress.
A German study subjected participants to stressors such as public speaking and math problems (certainly an acute stress for many). They found that cortisol and high blood pressure were significantly greater in those who did not receive a vitamin supplement.
4. Beat belly fat and improve insulin sensitivity
Vitamin C is one of the most widely used supplements today, but many of us don’t realize that it also plays a key role in our blood sugar levels.
A 2007 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research looked at 84 patients with type 2 diabetes who randomly received 500 or 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily for six weeks. The researchers discovered that the group supplementing with 1,000 mg experienced a significant decrease in fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol (LDL) and insulin levels. The dosage group with 500 mg did not produce any significant changes
Vitamin C and glucose have a similar chemical structure. When both are high they compete with one another to enter the cells. If there’s more glucose around, less vitamin C will be allowed into the cells creating a deficiency. Not only is it important to keep your C levels up, it’s just as crucial to keep your blood sugar levels stable with a low glycemic diet.
5. Detox your bowels
We absorb vitamin C in the upper part of the intestine. Unabsorbed vitamin C continues into the lower bowel and causes watery stools or diarrhea. By taking large doses of vitamin C we can induce loose stools or a “levage” which is ideal during a detox (although timing is essential if you decide to do this). This can be helpful for improving elimination as well as determining what your daily dose of vitamin C should be. Here are the instructions: