Pills, Pumpkins and shedding the Pounds?

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fitness_model2It’s all the rage! Everyone is talking about it! Nicole Kidman and Kate Middleton are among the various celebrities who swear by it. But does it really work??? Will the simple act of taking a pill every morning help you shed those pounds? Let’s find out if it’s really the game changer that everyone is raving on about!

Pictured right is Charlotte Hawkins, a Staff Reporter from NZ Women’s Health Magazine. Charlotte reported to lose 12kg in 4 weeks on the extract.

 

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Garcinia cambogia, also known as Brindall berry, Garcinia gummi-gutta and many other names, is a native fruit to Indonesia. It looks like a small pumpkin and is usually a green-yellow, or purple colour, normally the size of an orange, to a grapefruit. Garcinia cambogia is grown for its fruit and in South India is used in similar ways as the tamarind. The fruit is also used in the preparation of curries, as its sour flavour is believed to help with digestion. Sometimes the fruit is used as a laxative for medical needs and boasts of its anti-oxidant qualities. But that’s not what has got us talking about this potential diamond in the rough. This exotic fruit has earned its well-known name through its claims of weight loss.

Believed outcomes of the extract, combined with healthy eating and exercise are:

  • Weight-loss
  • Increased protein synthesis and muscle tone
  • Decreased hunger
  • Decreased food intake

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?

In 2012 Dr Oz promoted Garcinia Cambogia in one of his television episodes. This started the snowball effect that went global fast. Garcinia Cambogia seemed like the “breakthrough in natural weight-loss” that everyone had been waiting for. But does taking this pill really work?

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This is a before and after shot of Emily White, from Auckland. Emily apparently lost 14 kg in just 5 weeks on the extract. Although I hardly believe that she also gained 4 breast cup sizes in that time as well? Personally, I am not convinced that this is the same person, are you?

The active ingredient in the fruit is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). The science behind how HCA works is through a cascade of events. HCA suppresses certain secretions from the pancreas and intestines, preventing carbohydrate metabolism. This means that because you are not metabolising sugar and other carbohydrates, you can’t store them as fat. The apparent increase in muscle helps you burn more calories in your day and your body turns to its fat stores to produce this energy. I have to say that preventing metabolic processes that are natural for our bodies worries me, a lot. Despite my worries, my research continues….

13917206948522The extract can be bought from any local pharmacy and the price usually ranges within $30-40, per 60 capsules. If it really does work, then this is a pretty cost-effective weight-loss programme, that won’t break the bank. The recommended intake to see weight-loss effects is 1200mg of HCA per day. Be aware that some pills provide a true-strength of the extract around 8100mg (60%HCA) and suggest up to 3 capsules per day.

After some research on the magic pill, many clinical trials do not support claims that Garcinia cambogia is an effective weight-loss aid.The claims of the pills are supported by a study that used rats, which were exposed to very toxic doses of the extract. These rats showed suppression of fat accumulation, although this study has been contested by many scientists for its design flaws.

One brand of the pill was removed from the market for causing chemical-driven liver damage. In fact, a study has shown that people are twice as likely to develop gastrointestinal problems from taking the extract than they are in receiving benefits from weight loss. There seems to be insufficient research in this area, especially about the side effects of the extract. I suspect that because of all the current media-hype, further research is most likely under way.

800px-Kudampuli_YellowThe only way to really know for sure if it works is to try it. So, that’s exactly what I am going to do! Over the next 6 weeks while I’m on holiday from University, I’ll be eating right, gyming it and be the guinea pig for this little experiment. I’ll let you know how much I’m taking, what I’m eating and how much I’m hitting the gym. What you really want to know is how much weight I’ll lose….keep tuned to find out!

  • Click here watch the Dr Oz episode on Garcinia cambogia

Further reading if you’re interested:

Photos of the fruit attributed via Wikimedia commons: Lasinbox and Vssun at ml.wikipedia

 

Curb Your Crave- Chocolate, Pot and “happy hormones”

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10pm. PJ’s. Slippers. Bad Hair. DON’T CARE. Jump into car. MUST HAVE CHOCOLATE!!!

Salieri___Chocolate_Balls_OTP_by_Mistress_DPersonally for me it’s all about the chocolate, wine, cheese and my personal hero….ice-cream! When you want it, you’ve got to have it! Then and there! There is no substitute. But why? What is really going on and what is it about that particular food that’s got you all up in a mess? This intense desire is known as a food craving and can happen for a number of reasons. Cravings can be anything from the obvious culprit-chocolate, known as chocoholism, to the most uncommon and weird cravings like dirt. A dirt craving has been linked to a need for calcium or pregnancy. Other research suggests that if you crave dirt you’re actually in need to detox your body. Some animal species, when poisoned by unripe or poisonous fruit, eat dirt and clay to cleanse the body. In fact in the 90’s dirt was commonly sold for human consumption to curb craves, most commonly for pregnant women.

final brownieNaughty treats like lollies, chocolate and other sweets are mainly due to these foods having high levels of sugar. This sugar is metabolised into glucose (see previous carbohydrate blog) that is used for energy in the brain. Unfortunately, sugar is also highly addictive and we can find ourselves wanting the “good stuff” at the most random times of the day. These areas of the brain that respond to the addiction can even be activated when we see the food or talk about it, as a smoker does when they see someone else smoking a cigarette.

Foods like chocolate and cheese contain the amino acid Phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is the “love chemical” which regulates your body’s release of endorphins. These endorphins  can also be stimulated to release through exercise, sleep and other pleasurable activities. Some believe that the PEA in chocolate breaks down to quickly to have an effect and that the most likely reason why people crave chocolate is because of the sugar and low levels of cannabinoids that are found in chocolate. The cannabinoids found in chocolate are related to THC, which is found in marijuana. Although there is not enough in chocolate to get you high, it is suggested that there is enough to make you relaxed in combination with all of the other chemicals found in chocolate.

imagesAnother reason for you cravings may be low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a small molecule inside your brain, called a neurotransmitter, commonly known to help you feel happy. Serotonin works by helping to connect those messages in your brain and activate those parts of the brain that are responsible for your moods. This maybe why movies on the couch and naughty treats are always a good idea to relax and get you feeling better about life.  This combination of sugar, chemicals, iron and caffeine means that this is exactly why you can’t get this miracle worker off your mind, especially when it’s “that time of the month” for the ladies.  Watch out though, as well as a sugar addiction, chocolate also contains Theobromine, an addictive substance kind of like Caffeine (see caffeine blog). Overall, the hundreds of chemicals found in chocolate combine to be a sweet little heart-shaped box of pleasure.

 

images-1Carbohydrates and other sugar cravings are most likely to hit during the afternoon when energy levels are stumped and your body needs a pick-me-up. If this happens try not to scoff the first thing in sight. Instead opt for something with complex carbohydrates, fruits or nuts and you will notice that you will curb your craving and it will last longer. If you have something with refined sugars like donuts, slices or cakes, you will feel an energy spike, sometimes too quickly and too much. You may end up feeling ill from a sugar overload, then you will crash. It’s a two-edged sword and you’ll never win.

Food cravings and what they mean

Ice Suggests that you may be low in Iron as ice helps relieve inflammation of the mouth and tongue (symptoms of low iron levels).
Chocolate A mixture of craving sugar, low levels of cannabinoids and other chemicals that help release happy chemicals in your brain.
Spicy Foods Hot foods that contain capsaicin help you sweat to cool the body.
Pickles The crunch, the salt and potentially low in sodium. If you are craving salt this may be due to dehydration. Salt is an electrolyte and can help with water retention in the body and can also be a sign of diabetes, heart disease and other blood cell illnesses.
Potato chips
Fruit Need a boost of Vitamin C and other vitamins as well as to cool the body off.
Rice and Beans You may be low in protein; these food types contain amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own.
Ice-cream Sweet and creamy.
Liquorice Contains Glasorisic acid causing salt retention, you may be low in sodium.

It is important to listen to your body and satisfy your cravings. Cravings are a great indicator for low nutrient levels and some deficiency disorders. Although, this is not permission to indulge in the “three PMitis” snack of donuts on a daily basis. If you are craving sugar a lot, maybe you need to look at detoxifying your body and starting fresh, reset your brain and work towards a healthier you!

 

Photo attributes:  Wikimedia commons (Mistress-D, chocolate-2, veganbaking.net) 

Tasting matters- it’s not the area of the tongue! MYTH BUSTED!

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What defines a good, bad, bitter or sweet? And how can this change through age and exposure?

As a society we tend to overlook the importance of the science behind how we taste food and how this can differ between individuals, or cultures. We often do not associate the anatomy and physiology of our tasting experiences, yet taste drives the very existence of our differing food cultures.

Our tongue has 3,000 – 10,000 tiny, little taste buds on the surface and other parts of the inner-mouth. These taste buds are receptors for taste and are called papillae (in various forms). There is five (known elements) of taste perception: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami (savoury taste).

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The taste buds work by our saliva mixing with the food and entering little taste pores, therefore coming into contact with these taste receptors. The receptors are on the surface of the sensory receptor cells. A common myth is that these known taste elements are defined to specific regions of the tongue, although this is not the case (Image adapted and modified from Messerwoland, creative commons). We can actually taste these elements over all parts of the tongue, in fact wherever we have taste buds located. Each taste bud contains 50-100 sensory receptor cells.

Taste buds can differentiate between the elements by interacting with different molecules or ions on the taste receptors. Each different taste element causes a different reaction in that specific taste bud. For example, a bitter taste causes an internal calcium release, which is then transferred in a sort of “message” in the nerve fibre for the brain to interpret.

 

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A drawn diagram depicting taste buds on the surface of the tongue, this shows the deep taste pores that exposes the taste buds. The second picture is a magnification of a single taste bud, revealing the sensory cells and the nerve fibre.

This sensory impression of food is also stimulated by our smells. Sensory smell plays a huge part in the way that we interpret and remember food. The way we see the food before we consume it, also creates a sense of prediction of how the food will taste. Along with this, our registration of pain, texture and temperature is also thrown into the mix. Pain is used in various cultures, as heat or spice, such as Capsaicin (see previous blog) and in some is believed to be the sixth taste element. This aspect is highly dependant on an individual’s sensitivity and pain threshold.

Often taste is for pleasure, but can sometimes act as a warning; the sweetness of food, usually indicates how energy dense the food is, whereas, bitterness can sometimes be a warning of poisonous substances. Therefore, the overall experience of food is a complicated inter-relay of messages that our brains interpret into whether we like the food, or if it’s just plain no good!

Speaking of plain, just as there are the primary colours for a colour wheel, the same idea applies to taste-known as basic tastes. Complex flavours are a medley of these basic elements in different proportions and strengths, all resulting in the individual experience, or taste.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 2.25.46 pmOn the right is a representation of a colour wheel and how the three primary colours make up all colour compositions. The same idea applies with basic tastes.

Unfortunately, some studies have shown that by the age of 20 most people have lost ½ of their taste buds already and that the decline increases with age. Some will agree that with age, foods that have an “acquired taste” also seem more appealing. This is relative to exposure of the food, not age. Simply put, the more exposure that you have to an unusual taste, the more fond of the acquired taste you may become.

So, during dinner tonight take the time to try to think about the different basic flavours that are within your meal. Appreciate the chemistry, anatomy and physiology behind all of the mechanisms that we normally scoff down in such a hurry!

Got your coffee fix?

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Coffee 4Caffeine. Why can’t you hold a conversation before having your morning ‘fix’? What is caffeine? And how good is it for you…really? For some people more importantly, will it help you lose weight?

Caffeine is naturally found in the seeds, leaves and fruits of numerous plants. It can act as a natural pesticide that can paralyse and even kill certain insects feeding on those plants.

Caffeine in regards to human consumption was believed to have first existed throughout Chinese and African legends for thousands of years. A German Chemist, by the name of Friedlieb Runge isolated caffeine, naming it “Kaffebase”, in 1819. As humans we mostly gain caffeine from the extractions of coffee plant seeds and the tea bush. Tea actually contains more caffeine than coffee beans in dry weight, although a serving of tealeaves is usually much weaker than a serving of coffee. Don’t forget your chocolate. Dark chocolate derived from cacao beans usually contains as much caffeine as coffee in dry weight.coffee 6

Caffeine is a stimulant drug that affects our body’s central nervous systems and is currently the worlds most used psychoactive drug. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord and is basically the “computer” that is responsible for all of our thoughts, feelings (both physical and mental) and essentially maintains everything we do. Caffeine works inside our bodies by getting into our brain and acting on the neurotransmitters that we use to either rely messages or inhibit messages inside our central nervous systems. The drug is legal and can be found in all corners of the world. 

10 grams of caffeine is believed to be lethal, although a typical dose is usually less than 500mg. Caffeine increases attention, decreases fatigue and temporarily restore alertness. At low doses it produces a faster, clearer flow of thought and more precise body coordination. The drug symptoms usually appear within the hour after absorption by the small intestine and on average last less than five hours.coffee 1

Some studies have suggested that caffeine has moderate health benefits including protective effects against Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and some forms of cancer, but may be linked to bladder cancer. Some evidence also suggests that caffeine helps prevent the risk of developing Diabetes. The effects of caffeine on sleep disruption are highly variable between individuals. It all depends on the particular person’s tolerance level and they may need less or more caffeine than others to feel the full effects of the drug.

If you have not built up a tolerance to caffeine it may have a diuretic effect, meaning you’ll need to pee more. You can also develop a tolerance to other symptoms of caffeine intake such as elevated heart rate and muscle twitching. For pregnant women the consensus seems to be that no more than two cups of instant coffee, or one and a half of fresh coffee should be consumed per day. Also when pregnant the effects of caffeine may last longer than usual because of an altered metabolic rate.Coffee 5

A dose of 1000-1500mg per day causes a condition known as caffeinism. Some of you may have experienced symptoms like this before, especially if you have a low tolerance to caffeine. These symptoms include; heart palpitations, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, headaches, irritability, urination or gastrointestinal issues. This happens because your central nervous system is over stimulated. Some people may also experience these symptoms when going through withdrawal of caffeine, that is if you have developed a dependency towards the drug. If you suffer from anxiety it is suggested that you should limit or completely stop caffeine ingestion and potentially some of your anxiety symptoms may cease. Some literature suggests that moderate coffee intake can help reduce symptoms of depression and suicide. I think caffeine itself cannot be attributed for eliminating such risks completely, although they may help.

If you are experiencing caffeine withdrawal you may have a rough time, all depending on how dependant you are. Withdrawal symptoms may appear within 12 to 24 hours and last up to 2-9 days. Over half of people going through caffeine withdrawal will experience headaches. In extreme cases of overdosing on caffeine people may feel over-excited, disoriented, experience hallucinations, acting delusional, loss of coordination and have lapses in judgement. These symptoms are similar to moderate intoxication of alcohol; simply putting it basically the person starts to act as if they are drunk. Extreme cases have been known to result in death.

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What you really want to know is “does coffee increase your metabolism and help you lose weight?” Am I right? Well, you will be pleased to know that studies do show that caffeine does stimulate the metabolic rate, although some literature suggests that caffeine helps greater fat processing in individuals of only a normal weight range. It was suggested that if you are obese, then caffeine does not have a relative effect on burning fats more efficiently.

Therefore, overall caffeine in moderate doses seems to have beneficial effects on your health, alertness and metabolism. Although, it is essential to know your own body and recognise your tolerance levels, as to not compromise other health aspects and experience toxicity, or withdrawal symptoms. Enjoy!

FAD DIETS: Atkins or Acting?

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Ever wondered what this Atkins Diet craze was all about? Find out what it’s all about!

The Atkins Diet, also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach is essentially a low carb diet. Robert Atkins has made this diet famous, although he was inspired from previous papers he had read in medical journals. Robert Atkins’s first book was published in 1972 and there have since been other modified editions of the diet over the last 30 years.

The basis of the diet limits carbohydrate intake forcing the body to instead use stored fats for energy. This metabolic process is called ketosis where fat cells are metabolised into ketones, which can be used as an alternative energy source (glucose) for the body.

Fats and proteins take longer to digest than carbohydrates; therefore people on the diet often experience a decrease feeling of hunger than usual. Fibre does not affect insulin levels so is therefore not restricted. Atkins argues that this diet is successful because unlike other diets you feel satisfied with the fats, proteins and fibre that you are consuming and are less likely to fail.

The four phases of the Atkins diet:2010093800atkins

1-    Induction

This is the most restrictive phase of the diet, lasting around 2 weeks. This is in place to shock the body into a state of ketosis. Most plans restrict diets to less than 20 net grams of carbs per day, and all from particular carbohydrate sources. Drinking 8 glasses of water is required to limit water loss through carbohydrate restriction. Signs of ketosis are a metallic taste in the mouth, and the sweet smell of ketones on the breath, or in your sweat.

2-    Ongoing weight loss

This phase allows small increases in carbohydrate amounts into the diet, but where weight loss will still occur. Each week the net carb intake increases by 5 grams. The goal of this phase is to determine the critical point of carb intake while still loosing weight and is recommended until the client is 4.5kg off the target weight. Each week the client is also allowed to introduce a different type of carbohydrate into their ‘permanent diet”.

3-    Pre-maintenance

From here the carb net allowance is increased by 10 grams per week to find the critical maintenance level, whereby no weight is gained. This stage is designed so that you can eventually find and maintain your goal weight, as well as prepare to lose the comfort blanket of a ketosis metabolic state.IMG_7544

4- Lifetime maintenance

The final stage is to promote an overall healthier life style and stick to your goal weight. People may occasionally drop back to a previous stage if they find they are gaining weight.

Initially all carbs were counted as the same, but recent publications now differentiate between different type of carbs; those who affect insulin levels, and those who do not. Although fructose is a simple carbohydrate it does not stimulate insulin production and is also not forbidden in the diet. The latest versions of the diet allow certain amounts of ‘net carbs’ over different periods of the diet. The allocation of carbs in the first stages of the diet are well under the US national recommended requirements but is believed to be sustainable for several months. Once the individual has lost the desired weight then the carb intake is increased to maintain the weight.

Critiques

Atkins520x210The Atkins Diet promotes itself as a potential treatment plan for type 2 diabetes, enabling weight loss and reduction in blood glucose levels, although this has not been accepted in conventional therapies for diabetes.

The Atkins Diet can be that of an expensive one. Protein is usually more expensive than refined carbohydrates and this has been argued to limit the outreach of people that can afford the diet. Therefore, this diet is common among the rich and famous.

Another heated debate regarding the Atkins Diet is that the high protein and saturated fat diet is believed to impose a higher risk of heart disease. People mistakenly think that this diet allows unlimited amount of fatty meats and cheeses. Also, side effects consisting of; diarrhoea, weakness, rashes and muscle cramps have been noted. Other research has suggested that the Atkins diet can promote osteoporosis and kidney stones. More research needs to be done to confirm or deny these claims, as well as, the effect of the Atkins Diet on cholesterol levels and association with diseases, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

After the death of Robert Atkins, followed by a reduction in public interest the Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2005 with a loss of $340 million. In 2006 the company re-emerged with a new marketing focus and plan.

Personally, I think that this diet is great to promote weight loss in overweight or obese individuals and also to promote healthier lifestyles and maintain desired weight goals. Obviously I do not think it is safe to stay in a state of ketosis for long periods of time, but I feel that if you stick to the plan then this wont be an issue. The plan eventually allows inclusion of most carbohydrates again and teaches people the hierarchy of carbohydrates- the sometimes carbs, and the every day carbs.

I find the research and ideas of the diet interesting and thought provoking. I do acknowledge that you should check with your health professional before partaking, as this diet may not be appropriate for diabetics or other certain health issues.

 

 

FAD DIETS: The Blood Type Diet- Blood or Bluff?

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ED001_IMGThe Blood Type Diet based on the book “Eat Right 4 Your Type”, and is centred on the theory of eating specifically for your individual blood type. Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo created the diet and although he claims that his theories are supported by clinical research, it seems the general view of health professionals and research scientists do not agree. Seven million copies, in over fifty languages of his first book have been printed and the Blood Type Diet has become somewhat of a craze worldwide.

Dr. D’Adamo believes that people should eat differently according to your blood type, as it is a reference point to how your body specifically digests and metabolises food. For example Dr. D’Adamo found that type O blood groups produce more stomach acid than other blood types and are consequently able to digest meat more easily. Also, type O groups produce more enzymes that help the body digest the fats in meat more efficiently. Type O groups digestive systems do not function as well when eating grains and starches and are thus geared towards a protein filled diet.

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On the other hand type A groups lack the extra secretion of these enzymes and stomach acids. The theory believes that type A was firstly originated by the development of agricultural food and domesticated dairy animals. The Blood Type Diet therefore promotes a fruit and vegetable diet, with the protein sources from beans, nuts and legumes. The theory claims that only type A blood groups should live by a vegetarian diet.

Type B is a combination of both O- and A-type. This means that type B is suggested to eat a combination of both of the diets. Type AB is closer to an A-type diet, but with slightly more enzymes promoting a diet rich in seafood for protein and healthy oils.

The diet also suggests specific vegetables that are better for your blood type over others. Small proteins, called Lectins from some fruits and vegetables have the capability of sticking to your cells in your digestive system causing damage and inflammation. D’Adamo’s book suggests that certain Lectins affect certain blood types depending on the specific fruit or vegetable. According to the theory outlined, Lectins can even cause your red blood cells to stick together, making it harder to pump the blood around your body. IMG_7554

The diet has received numerous critiques including many comments that D’Adamo’s theory is based on blood type O being the original blood type, but scientists have proven that type A was actually the first. Type A also appears in other primate animals that have never been exposed to agricultural or dairy diets. So it therefore does not make sense that this is the reason as to why humans have an A blood type.

IMG_7539Scientists also believe that there is no difference in cultures and blood type digestion. The book discusses the increased probability of O-type carriers developing ulcers because of an increased stomach acid production. The last time I checked bacteria, not the amount of stomach acid present, causes stomach ulcers. Scientists argue that this increased likelihood of stomach ulcers in O-type carriers is due a difference in antigens (parts of our immune system which fight threats in our bodies) recognising the bacteria, and has nothing to do with the amount of stomach acid.
blood typeBasically the errors in his hypothesis for the diet are endless, I could go on forever. Not to mention the dangers of suggesting a complete carbohydrate free diet, or a complete meat diet to people who are simply reading a book. I feel it is a very dangerous approach and there are so many other things to consider with in individuals than simply their blood group. This is a FAD diet that I feel wont last the test of time and can easily mislead people that are unaware of the fabrications. This blog is a simple introduction to this particular diet and there is endless information available online, if you would like to do further reading.

 

 

FAD DIETS: The Intermittent Fasting Diet- it works for me!

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Adopt-an-Intermittent-Fasting-Diet-Step-2The Intermittent Fasting Diet is based on the idea of restricting your energy intake for just a few days of the week and eating as per normal on the other days. The most common approach is the 5:2 ratio. This ratio means that for five days of the week you would consume all the pleasures that you would “normally” indulge in (but not over indulge). On two days of the week you are restricted to ¼ of your normal calorie intake. For women this is usually 500 calories (2000 kJ), and 600 calories for men (2400kJ). The Intermittent Fasting Diet is a dieting pattern, rather than a diet.

Our bodies react differently when fasting as opposed to when feasting. When feasting our body’s primary use the energy in our bloodstreams, but when you’re fasting that energy is not available. Therefore your body is more likely to use stored fat to create the energy that you need for the day. Some research has shown that when we start to fast our metabolism slightly increases, which also aids in fat burning. Also, our bodies are more sensitive to insulin after sleeping, exercising or fasting. So when you eat after a fasting period then your body is more efficient with how it stores the energy from the food. You are less likely to store this energy in fat cells and more likely to use the energy to build and repair muscle.

1002141_689805791035305_824239211_nThe great thing about this particular diet is that you are not restricted to what foods you can eat, just the energy composition of the food. With this diet you do not get bored, as it only restricts your calorie intake occasionally. Also, because it’s only two days of the week, it’s really not that hard to stick to. There is comfort in knowing that you just have to get through the day and then it’s over. I must admit at the start it is quite difficult, but after a few weeks, it’s very easy!

Another thing that I really like about this diet is that you are not depriving your body of any nutrients or a particular type of energy source, due to normal eating habits on the other remaining five days.

The diet is flexible; you can pick whatever days you like. I would suggest a rest day in between.Try to get into a routine with your days; they do not have to be consecutive. You can either eat all of your calories at once or spread it across the day. If you are feeling low in energy then you can always give it a miss that day. I always plan my two on busy work-filled days. This means that I am preoccupied and do not have time to think about food. I would not suggest picking your weekend days, as it can be difficult relaxing and not thinking about snacking. Find what works for you and what you are most likely to stick to.

Lastly, the one particular thing that impresses me the most about this diet is that you don’t have to pay for particular equipment, special food or diet plans. As long as you read the back of the nutritional information on packages, or Google the calorie content and then you are set to go! There are also lots of free apps that you can download, which can easily tell you the calorie contents that are in that food.

Fish, meat and vegetables, which are high in fibre and protein are the best foods to eat during your 500-cal days, as they make you feel more full. It is best to try stay away from refined carbohydrates on your fasting days. These refined carbohydrates are things like; pasta, rice, potatoes, cakes and biscuits, which are loaded with calories, but will leave you feeling hungry.

It is fine to exercise on a fasting day, but don’t over exert yourself and if you’re feeling uncomfortable then stop. You are still taking in calories so your body should still be fine with blood glucose levels. As long as you are not a diabetic your blood glucose levels should stay normal and you should not be feeling faint, or dizzy at all.

Basically in the morning I look at what we have in the fridge and spend 10 minutes deciding what I feel like eating, quickly adding up the calories. Here is an example of one particular 500-calorie day that I did:

MEAL FOOD CALORIES
Breakfast 2 eggs, poached 142
Snack ½ Nashi pear, cup of tea 88
Lunch 2 cups of rocket, 1 tablespoon humus, 1 can of Sweet Thai Chilli Tuna 146
Snack ½ Nashi pear, bunch of celery sticks 68
Dinner 1 courgette, 1 cup of broccoli, cooked with garlic and ginger 56
Drinks Water throughout day 0
TOTAL= 500

It is important to note that if you suffer from any health issues such as; hypertension (high blood pressure), heart problems, diabetes, pregnancy or breastfeeding, underweight, feeling unwell, or anything that requires a steady intake of food, I would recommend seeking medical advice before even considering partaking in this diet.

By sticking to this plan, and not over indulging abnormally on your ‘free’ days, you will start to drop to the weight, feeling more energetic. Studies have shown improvements in cholesterol levels, insulin sensitivity, and reduced blood pressure.apple

Although there is a lot of controversy about this diet, scientists have become very excited at the results. When you first start out you might experience side effects like hunger, or trouble sleeping on an empty stomach. If this happens it is a good idea to set aside calories for a late night snack. Also, sometimes I experience headaches; this is due to a sugar (carbohydrate) detox in your brain. Some people also experience constipation, because most of your daily water intake is received from different foods, it is therefore important to increase your water intake when fasting to compensate. The fear of hunger starts to decrease and you are no longer held hostage to the mental restrictions of hunger.

There is a huge amount of information available online about The Intermittent Fasting Diet if you are interested. The Intermittent Fasting Diet may not be useful for all, but has proven itself to everyone I know that has tried it, including myself. With a combination of the gym and The Intermittent Fasting Diet I have lost 5 kg in recent months, and although have probably been a bit slack over the last month with the Easter holidays, I am ready to jump back on and get excited about it again. With a goal weight of losing another 3 kg join me if you like!