Preparing for a Juice Fast in 5 Steps

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Juice fasting is an excellent way to lose weight and detoxify the body. The key to sticking through your fasting goals and coming out the other side refreshed and cleansed comes down not just to discipline but to preparation.

In other words, the key to a successful juice fast is planning!

In this article we will review what this means and how you should effectively plan for a successful juice fast.

Understand your Goals and Reasons for Fasting
The first thing I’d advice you to carefully look at are your reasons for doing the fast in the first place. Is your number one goal to lose weight? Is it symbolic of a personal change in your life and wanting to start fresh? Is it connected to the seasons? Is there perhaps a spiritual connotation to your fast? Alternatively, or additionally, are there any specific health goals you have in mind, such as wanting to see how a health issue reacts to a juice diet?

Clearly identify the reason or reasons for fasting. It’s okay if it’s as simple as “to feel good.” The idea here is that any actions we make will stand on stronger ground when we know why we’re doing them.

Plan Your Diet
While fasting on nothing but vegetable and fruit juices is a simple rule to follow, we benefit enormously through planning what our diet will consist of beforehand. A sample juice fast diet should incorporate your favorite juice blends while taking care to mix things up and eat a variety of foods.

To this end I’d suggest you incorporate in your diet greens, such as spinach, kale, and wheat grass, along with carrots, tomatoes, and your favorite fruits as staples to stock up on. Plan out an entire days worth of blends and then buy at least that much for many days so that you will a good stock available for your fast.

You’ll also appreciate having ginger on hand to vary the flavor of many of your blends.

Take Stock Of Your Kitchen Tools
Obviously you will need a juicer in order to complete this fast. Ideally a nice masticating juicer will work best, but even a food processor and juicer machine will do the trick. If you’ve never used a juicer before I’d advise you to purchase one and get comfortable using it before starting. However, they are a breeze to operate. You’ll quickly learn the only trick involved is to clean it as soon as you’re done using it!

Beyond this, you will need a good knife and a cutting board and that’s it!

Planning for Obstacles at Work and in your Social Life
How will you fast while at work and how will you deal with dinner invitations and being out in general? These are often the hardest parts of completing a fast. Ideally at work you could have access to a juicer to make fresh blends but of course this is not practical for many situations. In this situation you’d be best to prepare your foods before hand and bring them in tupperware cups to have on hand. The same goes for your social life – have your blends prepared. Better yet – go to a juice bar with some friends at least once during your fast!

Ready, Set, Juice!
Once you feel you’ve identified your reasons for fasting, planned your diet, made sure you have the right kitchen tools, and have planned for how to make it through any obstacles at work and in your social life, you are ready to go!

Let me suggest one last tip to make the most of your journey: keep a log or a journal of some kind and track your food and energy levels. This will make it easier after the fact to assess the diet and make the most of any future endeavors.

The Secret to Beating Sugar Cravings

Have you ever been tempted to cave-in and buy that candy bar at the grocery store checkout? Was it the same candy bar that you had easily passed by dozens of times before? If so, had it been a while since you last ate? Do not blame yourself and think that you are weak with no willpower. Your brain may be sabotaging you.

The Study

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California and Yale University has shown that when the glucose (sugar) levels in the blood drop, people are less able to control their desire for high-calorie foods.

Apparently the prefrontal cortex (front part of the brain) loves glucose. When blood glucose levels drop, the prefrontal cortex loses its ability to control an urgent need to eat. This urgent need is sent to it from the striatum. The striatum is inside the forebrain and acts as the interface between the evolved frontal lobes and the ancient areas of the brainstem.

When high-calorie foods are around and in sight, the body craves them even more. It is very difficult to fight the basic instincts of the brain. The study did suggest that the best way to fight this urge is to keep the blood’s glucose level even by eating healthy foods.

Beat Sugar Cravings

Maintaining consistent blood sugar levels is similar to following a diabetic diet. Diabetics closely monitor their intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. They also eat at regular intervals. This helps to keep the blood sugar from getting too high or too low.

  1. Eat regular meals and snacks. Three meals a day with snacks in-between will prevent blood sugar dips. Do not skip a meal because this will set your brain into action and it will have control over what you eat. Keep healthy snacks handy, like a granola bar in your desk drawer or car, to keep from getting to that starvation point.
  2. Eat complex carbohydrates. These include whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes like beans, peas, and lentils. They are absorbed slower than simple carbohydrates like white sugar, fruit juice, candy, white flour, and any processed, refined sugars. Simple carbohydrates raise the blood sugar quickly and then it drops quickly.
  3. Eat foods with high fiber. It is digested slowly and regulates the blood sugar. Choose foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
  4. Eat healthy fats and protein. These also are absorbed slowly. Good fats include oils like olive, peanut, and canola. Healthy protein can include fish as well as lean cuts of red meat, chicken, and pork.

The main key is to not let yourself get to the point where you are so hungry that your brain takes over and that candy bar at the grocery checkout is in line with the other items. Following these recommendations will not only beat sugar cravings, but will lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.

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Find other useful information and tools, such as a weight loss calculator at LowFatDietPlan.org.

5 Antioxidant Myths

Many people claim that antioxidants are the answers to all of our health problems. Mort of them are setting something. Studies show, however, that antioxidants are not miracle cures for cardiovascular disease, weight loss or cancer. Some of the claimed health benefits are valid, others are far from it.

We may know the purpose of antioxidants and what they do, but do we fully understand what they are? Manufacturers would like to keep it this way; the less you know, the more likely you are to purchase products with general “health benefits.” Here are some myths surrounding antioxidants that we can debunk:

The Body Must Destroy Free Radicals

Free radicals are simply molecules within your body that cause mutation of DNA and play a role in conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease. However, free radicals are essential to life because they are the result of oxidation, a metabolic process that takes place within your body. For example, if you are sick, free radicals are shot onto the unhealthy bacteria by immune cells and will kill the bacteria to make you well again.

However, having a significantly high number of free radicals is unhealthy because your antioxidant defenses cannot keep up and leave you more prone to diseases, aging, and cell damage. Sun overexposure, pollutants and cigarette smoke can overload your body with free radicals and lead to serious health conditions.

All Antioxidants Are the Same

An antioxidant is technically any molecule or cell within your body that protects you from oxidation. While there are roughly 8,000 varieties of nutrients, vitamins, flavonoids and polyphenols in your body, they do not act the same way. You cannot take less of one vitamin and increase your dosage of another thinking that they all work similarly.

Some antioxidants can only fight against free radicals when certain conditions are met, while other types of antioxidants can only battle specific kinds of free radicals. Yet another difference, some antioxidants are only effective in certain areas of the cell itself.

Only Fruits and Vegetables Provide Antioxidants

While some people may assume that antioxidants only come from fruits and vegetables, the truth of the matter is that antioxidants can be found in grains, beans, seeds and nuts with the exception of refined grains. The refining process eliminates any antioxidants that are originally in the grain. Meats, eggs and dairy products can also contain antioxidants, depending on the animal and the plants and food it ate.

Antioxidants Can Cure Cancer

There is no direct evidence supporting the notion that antioxidants can cure cancer; an extremely limited number of trials have advanced long enough to study the effects of antioxidants on the disease. In one study, for example, the rate of men who had cancer were not statistically different between those receiving a placebo and others taking beta-carotene.

Antioxidants Can Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Researchers concluded that methods other than taking antioxidants including vitamin E and beta-carotene are more effective at preventing heart disease and stroke. One study followed almost 40,000 healthy women, half of whom took vitamin E and the other half who took a placebo for a decade. The rate of cancer and heart disease were similar between the two groups, although there was a 24 percent decrease in how many women died from heart-related complications. However, beta-carotene showed no benefit in terms of protecting against stroke and cardiovascular disease.

LowFatDietPlan.org provides nutrition information and advice for diet plans based on scientific research and findings.

Healthy Snacking Tips

When you hear the word “snack” what do you think of?  For some, it means weight gain, unhealthy or just a something to avoid.  However, it should mean weight loss, healthy and something that everyone should fit into their diets.  With the rise of sugary and salty foods, it can be hard to choose healthy snacks.  But they can be avoided—and there are healthy ways to snack.

First of all, to avoid “over-snacking,” never go too long without eating.  This will ultimately cause you to overindulge in something you weren’t planning on eating that day—and chances are it’s not something healthy.  Your blood sugar drops when your body is starving so it begins to crave everything and anything.  Have a small snack in between meals (a good “snack time” is two hours after meals) to avoid this problem.

In order to get yourself to snack healthy, keep junk food out of eye sight.  Replace it with healthy food, such as fruit.  Put apples and bananas in a bowl on your counter or keep a carton of nuts on a shelf at work.  Making these small changes can significantly change your snacking habits.

The worst thing about snacks is that they often come in bags and boxes.  It becomes a problem because we eat while we are distracted; therefore we end up eating more than we had planned.  If you buy snacks that are packaged this way, take a serving size out, put it in a bowl or a plate and put the package away.  This will keep your serving sizes in check as well as your overall health.

Try to stay away from the “diet snacks” that are advertised so often these days.  Although they are low fat/low calorie, there is no way that they will keep you full for an adequate period of time.  You will find yourself reaching for more, possibly within minutes!  Instead, eat snacks that have the right combo of carbohydrates, protein and fat.  They will keep you satisfied and give you a boost of energy that you need to carry on your day.  Some examples of these kinds of snacks are:

  • A handful of dried fruit and nuts (i.e. raisins and almonds)
  • A fruit smoothie made with low-fat yogurt or milk
  • One tbsp peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers
  • Baby carrots dipped in hummus

It’s hard to believe, but the feeling of thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  This is a huge weight gain culprit that can easily be reversed.  Always remember to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.  Drink more when you sweat.  The more water you drink, the less you will want to snack.

Keep yourself away from snacks that contain trans fat.  Today, there are plenty of processed snacks out there.  The truth is that if it’s processed, it probably has trans fat.  Even just a little bit of trans fat can be harmful to your body, and it is recommended to not consume any at all.  The best way to avoid these snacks is by looking at food labels—if it has trans fat, don’t buy it!  Also, look in ingredient lists.  Manufacturers aren’t required to write “trans fat” on a food label if the food contains less than 5 grams of it.  Look for the words “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list to determine if there is even just a little trans fat in the food.

If you have a snack craving, but know you’re not hungry, go for a short (or long, if you feel like it!), brisk walk.  Studies show that doing so can curb cravings.  Also, don’t let your mind win.  Our minds tend to tell us that snacking will make us feel better or help us get something done, when in fact, this isn’t the case.  Listen to your body, instead of your mind no matter how good a snack sounds at a given time.

Keep in mind that healthy snacks should be staples in everyone’s diet—even if you’re trying to lose weight.    They help to keep our blood sugar in check and our stomachs from growling until meal time.  They help us meet vitamin and mineral goals and to keep us awake at work or school.  Never underestimate healthy snacks.

Brianna Elliott is a third year dietetics student and has grown a passion for nutrition through her years of studying.  In her spare time, you can find her running and spending time outdoors.  Brianna also spends her time slinging ink for ProbioticSmart.com – a leading internet supplier of Omega-Zyme – an enzyme supplement intended to be taken with snacks.

Full Workout Routines to Lose Weight

Want to know how to lose weight efficiently? Try having a full workout routine. It is one of the many ways to lose weight, but what makes it great is the efficiency it offers. A plan that works for you is better than any other pre-made plan out there so if you are interested about having your own workout routine, then do not hesitate to start one. Here are some guidelines to help you out:

Control calories through diet.

First in the list is to modify your daily calorie intake through dieting. Thinking that you only need to add exercise in a weight loss plan is wrong. One of the crucial parts of a successful weight loss process (and will always be) is your diet.

To find the amount of calories to consume, you should know how to use a calorie calculator or get the correct amount from your dietician or nutritionist. A calorie calculator is fine, as long as you input the correct data. Now that you have the calories needed for the day, you should change your diet plan to ensure that you stay within that range. To make the system work, include nutritious food types like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat. You do not want to add more fat in the diet, so control the consumption of fatty foods as well as fat producing food items like processed foods, fried foods and sweets.

The workout routine.

A full workout routine includes various forms of exercises and fitness activities. Start with a simple plan by exercising 3-4 times per week. Of course, you can change the plan any way you like, as long as it fits your needs. For starters, one can go with 3-day gym workouts with rest days in between. A workout day likely consists of warm-up exercises, cardio activities, circuit training and weight lifting exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles. It is best to target one body area at a time, but your overall workout plan should target the whole body.

Take note that workout routines usually last for 3 months or more, it can last to 6 months or even a year! The reason for this is that we are shaping the body and not merely losing weight. Weight loss comes sooner than a toned body.

Relaxation and rest

Relaxation and rest are crucial because these are the periods where the body, specifically the muscles, rejuvenates. It is also the period where muscles grow and form. Relaxation activities include body massage, hot spa, and yoga. Do them as often as you can or just give your body a good rest between intervals.

This is how you start with your full workout routine. Obviously, these tips are just the tip of the iceberg. As you go along, you will discover more methods and techniques. Bottom line is, you are on the right track and you will certainly improve over until you get the results you want.