The Vinegar Diet

Do you want to lose weight?  What is it worth to you?  How about taking three tablespoons of vinegar before each meal?  That is the crux of the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet, known as the vinegar diet to its friends.  Here are the details.

This is yet another fad diet, if you can consider a diet that's been around for over 50 years a fad.  There aren't any research studies validating the results.  It hasn't even made it on Dr. Oz yet.  But message boards are abuzz with people who swear that they have lost 10 pounds in two weeks on the vinegar diet.  That's pretty great, isn't it?

Dr. DeForest Jarvis first proposed the vinegar diet in his book of folk medicine, "Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health" back in 1958.  The book was a huge success and has been making a come-back.  The diet has no meal plans.  You are invited to eat anything you want.  There is just one rule: drink three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before eating.   Many people have some difficulty drinking straight vinegar, so they work their way up to three tablespoons over a few days or mix the vinegar with a glass of something with a strong flavor to disguise the vinegar's taste.  There are also vinegar capsules available if you just can't handle the vinegar.

In theory, the apple cider vinegar helps your body to burn fat.  It is also said to suppress your appetite.  Clearly, drinking straight vinegar won't boost your appetite, but proponents claim nearly miraculous powers.  The vinegar will give you a pretty acidic stomach, so this may not be for you if you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn on a frequent basis.

Is the vinegar diet a good diet for you?  There's no scientific proof that it works, but it has a lot of fans.  It fits into the "cleanse" sector of dieting, with rapid weight loss and no real maintenance mode meal plan.  Apple cider vinegar is not expensive, and many people have it in the kitchen already.  That makes it an easy "try before you buy" kind of diet.  You should know within a few days if you can tolerate nine tablespoons of vinegar a day.  If so, go out and buy some really nice apple cider vinegar.  If not, no real investment has been lost.

Doctors do point out that this diet can cause short-term stomach and esophagus irritation and longer-term use can rob your body of precious calcium and potassium.  Remember your multivitamins!

Have you taken the vinegar challenge?   Click on the Comment button and tell us about it!

Juicer Recipes

Trying to get your 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables like the doctor recommends? Making juices fresh in your home and tailored to your tastes is a great way to improve your nutrition and enjoy some great flavor. Here are some favorite recipes for your juicer or blender.

Hawaiian Twist

  • 1 large apple, cored
  • ½ inch of cleaned, fresh ginger
  • 1 cup of cubed, fresh pineapple

     First juice/blend the apple and ginger, then add the pineapple to the resulting juice.

The Green Monster

  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, unpeeled

     Blend together all of the ingredients until smooth. Looks a bit sketchy, but tastes delicious.

Day-Glo Breakfast Juice

  • 2 beets
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 apple, cored and slices
  • 1/2 inch ginger

     Blend together, chill and serve. Get's your day off to a very healthy start.

Berry Berry Tasty

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries

     Mix together in juicer/blender, strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth and serve.

Tangy Apple Juice

  • 2 large apples, cored and peeled
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled

     Blend together and serve. Add a dash of pomegranate juice for color, if desired.

Do you have a favorite juicer recipe? Click on the Comment button and share it with us all!

The Grapefruit Diet

Do you want to lose weight quickly and love grapefruit?  No really, do you really, really love grapefruit?  The grapefruit diet has been around since the '30s and seems to be making a resurgence.  Yes, it is based on eating a lot of grapefruit and promises that you will lose 20 pounds in twelve days.  Here are the details of this fad diet rocketing back from the past.

The grapefruit diet, or Hollywood diet as it is sometimes called, is a crash diet that promises substantial weight loss in less than two weeks.  In addition to grapefruit, you are encouraged to drink black coffee and water frequently throughout your day.  You diet consists of grapefruit (surprise!) and mostly protein, and not much of it.  You are allowed eggs and milk, meat and fish, vegetables and vegetable juices and, of course, grapefruit.  Sliced grapefruit and/or grapefruit juice grace every meal.  You are not permitted potatoes, celery or white onions.  In total, you are permitted about 800 calories per day.

This diet does not have a lot of fans among the medical community.  Although grapefruit is very nutritious, it lacks any magical properties.  Contrary to fans of the grapefruit diet, it does not have any ability to speed up your metabolism or burn fat.  It does have the ability to negate the beneficial effects of many blood pressure medications, so particular care should be exercised if you have high blood pressure and are taking prescription drugs for treatment.

Since the grapefruit diet has been around for decades, there have been some small medical studies to measure the effectiveness of the plan.  The Florida Department of Citrus funded a study that had participants eat half of a grapefruit or drink half a glass of grapefruit juice for three months.  At the end of the period the average weight loss was three pounds.  This must have been very disappointing for the Department of Citrus.

If you follow the rules of the grapefruit diet you will lose weight.  As a very low carb, low calorie diet, your body has no alternative to consuming the fat and water that are in your body.  Much of your weight loss will be water weight, though.  Most people who take on the grapefruit diet need to lose some weight quickly for an event and don't mind gaining the weight back a month later.  This is a near certainty for a diet of this kind.

Again, grapefruit can counteract many prescription medications.  Always consult your doctor before starting a diet, especially a drastic low carb, low calorie diet like the grapefruit diet.

The Four Hour Diet

Would you like to lose 20 pounds in 30 days?  Timothy Ferriss has published a book that promises exactly that.  In his "The 4-Hour Body" book, he details the small changes to your lifestyle that can let you lose weight, build muscle and improve your immune system.

He calls is the "Slow-Carb Diet."  There are only a few guidelines, and they aren't too draconian.

Rule 1: Eliminate the "white" carbs from your diet.  This means that you don't eat potatoes, bread, pasta, most grains or dairy.  Oddly, you are allowed cottage cheese, but that might be Timothy's favorite food.  The white carbohydrates have a lot of calories relative to their nutritional value, so cutting them out won't hurt your nutrition but can help you to burn fat.

Rule 2: Eat the same few meals over and over again.  Focus on protein and vegetables, avoiding legumes.  That's a lot of meat and eggs, spinach and broccoli.  You can eat as much as you like, and Timothy recommends eating three or four times a day.  He especially stresses the benefit of eating your first meal within 30 minutes of waking up.

Rule 3: Don't drink your calories.  That means no milk, fruit juice or caloric sodas.  To lessen the sting, you are allowed two glasses of red wine.  Drown your sorrows?

Rule 4: No fruit.  Ouch.  The simple sugars (fructose) in fruit metabolize very quickly, hurting your weight loss.  That means no fruit, period.

Rule 5: You get one day off the diet each week.  Woo hoo! A free day!  That means fruit and dairy for a day, and plenty of anything you want.

On top of the eating guidelines, Timothy has some other suggestions for weight loss.  One very interesting idea is about making your body cold to burn calories.  That is accomplished through cold showers, drinking lots of ice water and putting ice bags on your head and neck.  He specifically counsels against rigorous exercise.  He also recommends taking garlic pills and nutritional supplements, like Omega-3 and probiotics.

The 4 hour diet has received a huge amount of attention, some good and some bad.  Have you tried it?  Click on the Comment button and let us know how it went.

The Reboot Diet

The ubiquitous Dr. Oz has a plan to rejuvenate our bodies.   The good doctor has a specific diet and exercise regime that can change your life.  Here is what you need to know.

Television star and author, Dr. Oz spends a lot of time talking to people about weight problems.  With obesity rampant in America and wonder diets galore, he has identified some basic steps that can improve your health, reduce your weight, and give you guidelines for living that are practical and achievable.  Given the tiny fraction of dieters that keep their lost weight off for one year, this last point is very important.  Why work hard and deny yourself delicious food if you are going to put the weight right back on after the diet ends?

Dr. Oz calls this the Reboot Diet after the "three finger salute" that reboots personal computers.  As we know, rebooting a computer unlocks jammed programs and gives your PC a fresh start.  In the same way, the reboot diet unlocks our metabolism and gives us a fresh start on healthy living.  Instead of the 2 minutes that your PC takes to reboot, the reboot diet takes a week.  Here is the program in a nutshell:

Sunday:  Get rid of the foods in your house that make you fat.  This would include foods with processed sugars and syrups, white flour and foods high in saturated or trans fats (the evil partially hydrogenated oils).  If the food isn't around, you can't eat it, right?  This is the first important step toward eating right.

Monday:  Put on your walking shoes.  Don't buy a gym membership or build an in-home weight machine, just walk.  My taking 10,000 steps a day you will burn calories, tone up your muscles, build cardio endurance and maybe even meet that new neighbor.  If you really need to buy something to stay motivated, get a pedometer.  Walking 10,000 steps a day is widely recognized as the best way for most office-bound adults to get fit without upsetting their schedule.

Tuesday:  Make it easy to eat right.  Plan ahead so that getting the right nutrition AND portion size is easy.  Think about protein shakes or fruit smoothies for breakfast, pre-packaged "lean" meals for lunch at work and really focus on portion control at dinner time.  You can still eat a delicious variety; just watch the ingredients and how much you put on your plate.  Need some encouragement?  Try using smaller plates.  That makes the proper portion look more reasonable and fools your mind into being satisfied sooner.

Wednesday:  Get yourself into a happy place.  Re-evaluate your surroundings.  Are there people you interact with that make you anxious, leading to stress eating?  Are you lonely, with food filling the void?  Get yourself a diet/exercise buddy to share encouragement and support and keep each other accountable.  Of course, WannaBuddy can help with finding a buddy, so there's no excuse for going it alone.

Thursday:  Learn to fool your body.  Seasonings can really make a difference with how you eat, and how much you eat.  Spicier foods and foods with exotic flavors are more interesting and cause you to eat more slowly.  Eating slower lets your body discover that it is satisfied sooner, which means that you don't overeat because you are eating too fast.  Learn to love peppers and hot sauce.  Very few calories, loads of flavor and you just can't eat them quickly!

Friday:  Schedule a physical.  OK, this should probably be on day one, but what doctor is in on Sunday?  Get a physical and talk with your doctor about your diet and exercise habits.  You will be surprised by the positive response you'll get if you bring it up.

Saturday:  Get some positive press.  You have started a journey toward a better life.  After a week you are probably beginning to see some small changes and are getting "into the groove" with your new meal plan.  Tell your inner circle about your new commitment, and ask them to keep you accountable.  This is a great step for you and you deserve some positive feedback.

Once the week is over, keep it up!  There aren't any hard-and-fast rules to the reboot diet, just a focus on building healthy diet and exercise habits.  Once this becomes second nature, you may notice that your friends start asking for advice on healthy living!

The Alkaline Diet

If you have ever suffered through a chemistry class, you probably met pH, a measure of acidity.  The Alkaline diet attempts to achieve an optimum level of acidity in your body for better health.   An imbalance between acidic and alkaline foods is blamed for symptoms such as colds and flu, headache, anxiety and lack of energy.  This diet recommends fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes in an effort to rebalance our blood chemistry and enjoy a better quality of life and possibly weight loss.

Most people are familiar with the term "acid" but less familiar with "alkaline".  Alkaline materials are essentially the opposite of acidic materials.  Mixing baking soda and vinegar is a common childhood experiment, and we've all seen the bubbles of carbon dioxide that result when the acidic vinegar meets the alkaline backing soda.  Proponents of the alkaline diet suggest that a similar reaction is taking place in our bodies.   Reaching a balance between alkaline and acidic foods is the ultimate goal of the diet.

The alkaline diet recommends that Alkaline foods should be three quarters of your diet.  This would include fresh vegetables, nuts that are typically unsalted (like almonds or sunflower) and oils, roots, legumes, and citrus and other fruits low in sugar.  The remaining quarter of your diet is from acidic foods, such as meats, dairy, most popular beverages (alcohol, sodas, coffee, tea, fruit juices) and salted nuts.  This quarter of your diet would also include most processed foods and food made with processed sugar.  The diet also recommends drinking lots of pure water.  Water, being neither acidic nor alkaline, is a great buffering agent between the two camps.

Proponents of the alkaline diet point to medical studies that showed positive results when using this diet for treating chronic acidosis, a disease where the acid/alkaline balance in the body is perpetually wrong.  This disease is correlated with calcium loss in the bones, a potentially crippling situation.  Holistic medicine practitioners also blame blood pH abnormalities for arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure.  This type of diet could address these imbalances.

Critics of the alkaline diet say that the body regulates the pH level of the blood through intricate metabolic processes that are negligibly affected by the acid/alkaline content of our food.  They also point to the rather colorful background of the alkaline diet's chief promoter, Robert Young as another reason to be skeptical.

Could this diet be right for you?  People who suffer from acid reflux or other digestive disorders characterized by excess stomach acid may find relief through modifying their meal plans to better conform to the alkaline diet.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Have your tried the alkaline diet?  Click on the Comment button and let us know how it went for you!

The 17 Day Diet

Remember the old saw about familiarity breeding contempt?  We have all developed contempt for our diets at one point or another.  There is a new diet that addresses the boredom factor by changing your eating plan every 17 days.  Here is what you need to know about the 17 Day Diet.

The 17 Day Diet is called a "carbohydrate cycling diet."  This means that you vary your carb intake as you pass through four 17-day diet cycles.  Created by Dr. Mike Moreno, a California physician, the diet is based on metabolic confusion.  This means changing the rules every time your metabolism figures out your eating pattern.  Dr. Moreno states that weight loss of 10-12 pounds is expected over the 68 days of this diet.

The first cycle of the 17 Day Diet is called "Accelerate."  During this phase, you restrict your consumption of carbs almost completely.  For these 17 days, your body is forced to burn stored fat because you don't eat enough carbohydrates to meet your energy needs.  This is also your "cleansing" period, when your body sheds accumulated toxins.  During these 17 days, rapid weight loss is expected.

The second cycle is called the "Activate" cycle.  This introduces more calories and carbs, which is said to "reset" your metabolism.  During this cycle you are encouraged to exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.  Dr. Moreno is a big fan of walking, so walking 15-20 minutes a day is his suggested regimen.  During this cycle an additional weight loss of five pounds is expected.

Cycle three is named "Achieve."  Here you get to bring back some foods that were restricted during cycles one and two.  As you might expect, your rate of weight loss slows substantially.  You should be reaching your goal weight.  Your focus during cycle three is learning new, healthy eating habits, reintroducing carbohydrates and continuing your exercise program.

The last cycle is called "Arrive."  As you might expect, this is the final, maintenance stage of the 17 Day Diet.  The elements of cycles one, two and three are mixed up during the week and you get to eat what you want on the weekends.

This diet packs a big punch up front, with most of the weight loss expected during the initial 17 days of cycle one.  This quick gratification has been shown to improve the chances of keeping the weight off over the course of the coming year.  Is this a medically proven program?  Not really, but very few diets really have science on their side.  Could this be right for you?  If you enjoy change, and following somewhat complicated eating rules is fun for you, absolutely!

Have you tried the 17 Day Diet?  How did it work?  Leave us a Comment and let us know.

Can Diet Soda Make You Fat?

It has long been accepted as fact that diet sodas, especially the legion of zero calorie sodas, do not contribute to weight gain.  Many dieters suffer through the transition from sugary sodas to diet sodas so that they can continue their consumption of the bubbly nectar without hurting their diet.  Sadly, two new research studies were presented at a recent American Diabetes Association conference that suggested that diet sodas should be left out of a proper dieter's menu plan.

The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, was the site of two different studies of the effect of diet sodas on weight.  The first study tracked the waist measurements of more than 450 senior citizens (65-74 years old) over the course of ten years.  At the end of the study they found that test subjects who drank diet soda experienced waist measurement gains that were 70% more than subjects who did not drink diet sodas.  The group who drank at least two diet sodas a day was five times more likely to have significant waist measurement growth than abstainers.  The study used waist measurements as a corollary to serious health issues, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

In a second study, also at UT in San Antonio, some mice were fed food containing aspartame, a common zero calorie sweetener.  Ninety days later these mice had substantially higher blood sugar levels compared to a control group of mice who ate unsweetened food.  This increase in blood sugar levels is a precursor to type II diabetes.

While the connection between aspartame and diabetes in mice is statistically significant, it is much more difficult to connect the consumption of diet sodas with weight gain in humans.  Critics of the study point out that dieters are more likely to consume diet sodas than people who are already thin, making the human trail somewhat self-fulfilling.  It has also been known that drinking artificial sweeteners is far less effective as satisfying hunger than sugary beverages, so diet soda drinkers may be more likely to eat other, less healthy foods rather be satisfied by their beverage.

Dr. Hazuda, professor of medicine at UT Heath Science in San Antonio said of diet sodas, "They may be free of calories, but not of consequences.  I think that prudence would dictate drinking water."

So there you have it.  Our precious diet sodas may not be the dieter's friend, but will it change your behavior?  Click on the Comment button and let us know.

Five Best Ab Exercises

It seems that modern society puts a lot of emphasis on abdomen appearance. The "six pack abs" label can make anyone a local star. Fortunes have been made from videos promising great abs in 8 minutes, then 7 minutes and so on. But how can we achieve ab greatness without an inspiring video and a gym full of equipment? Here are some exercises that you can do at home to convert that pony keg into a six pack.

The all-time greatest ab exercise: The prone bicycle. This will pummel your abs and obliques (the muscles of your waistline) without mercy. Lay flat on your back with your fingers laced behind your head. Raise one leg up toward your stomach while raising your upper body and twisting so that you can touch your knee with the opposite elbow. Straighten back out and do it again with the other leg and arm combination. Do this 15 times or until you break in half.

Exercise number 2: Make like a chair. OK, so this is called the Captain's Chair in the gyms that have all the fancy equipment, but you can do it with a sturdy kitchen chair, too. Sit toward the front of the chair with your hands beside your legs, gripping the front edge of the chair. Now lean forward slightly and raise yourself up off of the chair (lifting your legs) and hold the "seated" position for a five count. Lower yourself gently back onto the chair's seat and wait for your vision to return. True believers do 10-15 repetitions, but I don't trust anyone who says that they do.

The third ab shaping wonder: The plank. No, you don't walk it, you make it out of your body. Lay on the floor, face down as though you are about to do a push-up. Raise your body up so that you are supported by your toes and your forearms, with your body straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds and drop gratefully to the floor. Consider your commitment to great abs for 30 seconds and then repeat the plank. Try to do 5 cycles of this, go ahead and try.

Exercise the fourth: Crunching on the Pilates ball. This exercise looks pretty easy. Lay on the Pilates ball, facing up, with the ball behind the small of your back and your feet flat on the floor. Your back and thighs should be parallel with the floor. With your hands beside your head (but not hanging on, that's considered cheating) do mini-sit ups, raising your upper torso about 45 degrees. Then lower your upper body to that your torso is parallel with the floor again. Do 10-15 of these, rest and repeat. Or not, there's nobody watching.

The final abdomen wonder exercise: The vertical leg crunch. Lay on your back, with your legs together and straight up in the air. With your hands by your head (and again, the international crunch police forbid grabbing your head or neck) raise your upper body about 45 degrees and lower yourself back to the floor. Not only do you look silly, but you will put an amazing amount of strain on your abdomen muscles. Do this 10-15 times, rest and try to do two more sets. Go on, we dare you!

These five exercises will tone up your abs and make you really appreciate your life, at least those wonderful minutes between exercises.  But seriously, this can tighten and strengthen your abdomen, making you less susceptible to many injuries and looking totally amazing in a swim suit.

Are you the owner of a six pack?  Click on the Comment button and tell us how you did it.

Exercise and Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious health issue for a growing segment of our population.  The most common form, Type 2, is commonly treated by a combination of diet, exercise and medication.  The more control you can exert over your diet and exercise, the more you can reduce or eliminate the need for medication.  Here are some thoughts on the intersection of diabetes and exercise.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder related to how the body converts food into energy for our cells.  When we eat, the food is converted into glucose, a form of sugar.  This glucose travels through our blood stream to provide energy (fuel) for our cells.  Glucose bonds with insulin in order to pass through the cell membrane and become available to the cell as energy.  This well-balanced cycle of glucose from our food plus insulin from our pancreas goes on without our knowledge or attention, except for people with diabetes.  Without enough insulin in the blood stream, the glucose cannot enter the cells, and the cells essentially starve, even though they are surrounded by glucose.

There are two major types of diabetes, creatively called type 1 and type 2.  About five percent of diabetics have type 1 diabetes.  With type 1 diabetes, the part of the pancreas that secretes insulin is destroyed by the body's own immune system.  This means that a type 1 diabetic's pancreas makes no insulin.  To remain alive, a type 1 diabetic must take insulin regularly, in balance with their diet and exercise.  Since insulin is digested in the stomach, insulin must be injected to be effective.  Balancing exercise, diet and insulin for type 1 diabetics is far too complex for an article of this nature, so we will be focused entirely on type 2 diabetics.

The vast majority of diabetics have type 2 diabetes.  With type 2 diabetes the body continues to secrete insulin, but the body's ability to use the insulin has decreased.  Over the years, the amount of insulin secreted will also decrease.  This form of diabetes is often associated with age, obesity, physical inactivity and genetic predisposition. 

Type 2 diabetics can improve their insulin uptake through diet, exercise and medication.  A recent government study showed that just losing 5-7% of your body weight can delay or possibly prevent type 2 diabetes.  In addition, if you already have symptoms of diabetes, a mild exercise program can help with weight control, improve your cardiovascular system and improve your body's acceptance of insulin.

For best results, combine a good diet with daily exercise.  Almost any kind of cardio exercise will do.  Whatever you enjoy, just get your heart rate up for 30 minutes.  This helps to reduce your blood sugar levels.  High blood sugar, the result of glucose that does not have insulin bound to it, can inflict long term damage to your organs, cause numbness (called neuropathy) in your fingers and toes and reduce circulation to your extremities.  By keeping to a daily regimen of healthy eating and moderate exercise, your blood sugar can remain within safe bounds with little or no medication.  Of course, consult your doctor before changing your medication dosages!

The only area of concern for exercising with type 2 diabetes is the potential for low blood glucose, called hypoglycemia.  This can make you feel shaky or light headed, confused or irritable.  In extreme cases you can lose consciousness.  That makes it important to be aware of the symptoms and have a ready source of fast sugar (Skittles are very popular) on hand just in case.  Test your blood before strenuous exercise and stay hydrated.  Exercising with a buddy is especially good for diabetics so that the buddy can help out if a low blood sugar event makes it hard for you to help yourself.

Type 2 diabetes is a challenge for many of us, but with responsible eating and a healthy approach to activity, you can enjoy life to the fullest.

Do you have type 2 diabetes?  Click on the Comment button and tell us your exercise tips!

The Paleo Diet

A popular diet suggests that we return to the eating habits of our distant ancestors.  If a caveman could hunt it or gather it, we can eat it.  If a caveman never ate it, neither should we.  By returning to our hunter-gatherer beginnings, the theory says, we can better match the capabilities and preferences of our metabolism and achieve optimal health.  After all, who ever heard of an obese caveman?

The human body is the result of many thousands of years of evolution.  Our digestive system "grew up" on meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables and seeds.  Only in the most recent centuries have our bodies had to cope with processed foods.  This is the reasoning that led to the Paleo or Caveman diet.  Eat like a caveman and enjoy the good health of the caveman.  That means avoiding grains, legumes (like peanuts or beans), potatoes, salt, sugar, alcohol and dairy.  Followers are allowed to cook their food, so at least they are modeling the caveman after the discovery of fire.

Almost three quarters of our normal diet consists of processed foods.  This mismatch with our evolutionary digestive capacity leads to obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, say Paleo proponents.  Critics say that the diet is inadequate in certain key nutrients, like calcium, and that the caveman's life expectancy was so short that most modern health issues never had a chance to gain a toehold.  Further, critics contend that the caveman actually did collect and "process" grains for food, creating cereals and unleavened breads.  They also point out that the caveman probably got more than half of their calories from plants while the Paleo diet has protein contributing up to 70% of your daily calories.

The Paleo diet focuses on meat and seafood (ideally raised in a natural environment), along with eggs, fruits, vegetables and seeds.  A typical day's menu might be:

Breakfast:  Two eggs (any style but limit the oil), grapefruit or orange, coffee (cream optional)

Lunch: Colds cuts with slice of cheese, half cup of mixed nuts, water or lemonade

Afternoon snack:  Apple, half cup of mixed nuts

Dinner:  Chicken or tuna, baked potato, mixed vegetables, fruit salad, coffee (cream optional)

As you can see, this is not a difficult diet to shop for.  There can be a lot of variation and tailoring to your specific tastes.  Most advocates suggest taking a multivitamin, too, to supplement the nutrients that you are getting as a caveman.  Could this work for you?  How badly would you miss that toast in the morning or that mug of beer on Saturday night?  This might just be the right way for you to get in tune with your ancestors.

Have you tried the Paleo diet?  Is it yum or ugh?  Click on the Comment button and let us know.

Chocolate Milk and Your Body

A childhood favorite, chocolate milk is rarely thought of when considering sports drinks.  Millions of dollars are spent every year advertising the need for exotically-colored beverages promising extreme hydration. Now a research study discovered that low-fat chocolate milk is superior to these sports beverages in several key areas.

Dr. John Ivey at the University of Texas at Austin studies nutrition and its impact on athletic performance.  He recently led a research study that compared the recovery benefits of drinking carbohydrate-bearing sports drinks, calorie-free sports drinks and low-fat chocolate milk.  For one experiment, he asked participants to ride a bicycle for 90 minutes at moderate exertion followed by 10 minutes of high exertion.  In this experiment, the riders who drank chocolate milk had measurably better performance than cyclists who drank carb or zero calorie sports drinks.  The chocolate milk drinkers displayed more cycling power and better riding speed.

In a second experiment, participants spent five days a week cycling strenuously for a period, followed by consuming one of the three test beverages.  After more than four weeks of this regimen, the chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in aerobic endurance, as measured by their oxygen absorption.

In these experiments the low-fat chocolate milk drinkers developed more muscle and lost more fat than the carb and calorie-free drinkers.  On average, they ended up with a three pound lean muscle improvement compared to the other two groups.

Additional research is needed to identify the actual metabolic mechanisms that make low fat chocolate milk so beneficial for athletes.  Until then, I'll just skip the Gatorade and reach for the cow juice!

Have you tried low-fat chocolate milk as your sport drink?  Click on the Comment button and let us know how it works for you.

The Cinch Diet

Fresh from co-writing the Flat Belly Diet, Cynthia Sass has released another diet program, called the Cinch diet.  This is a one month path to a better metabolism, fewer cravings and a healthier outlook on food.  The diet emphasizes smaller portions of highly nutritious food and in a move that is sure to build a following, includes a daily snack of dark chocolate!

The Cinch diet begins with a "fast forward" phase that prepares you for the month ahead and recalibrates your body's expectations about eating.  This helps you to not feel hungry between meals.  During the five days of "fast forward" you eat five foods: almonds, eggs, raspberries, spinach and yogurt.  Each of these component foods is high in nutrients yet low in calories.  During this period, you could lose as much as eight pounds but some of the weight loss is water, so it should not be considered real, long-term weight loss.

Following the fast forward phase, the Cinch diet continues with a 25 day regimen of four meals each day that are drawn from the Cinch "puzzle".  The puzzle is made of five pieces, or elements of each meal.  These elements are: fresh produce, lean protein, whole grains, oil from plants (but not animals) and spices/seasonings.  Each meal has one representative from each of the five puzzle pieces.  That means no pork, red meat, sodas (even diet) or alcohol.  Only one cup of coffee is permitted per day.  Happily, the daily chunk of dark chocolate helps sooth the pain of withdrawal.  The plan also recommends five vegetarian meals each week and avoiding processed foods and foods with artificial additives or sweeteners.

On top of the meal plan, the Cinch diet recommends daily exercise.  Sass recommends walking as a very accessible exercise and suggests walking for 30 minutes at least five times a day.  The exercise is optional during the initial fast forward phase.

The Cinch diet book offers several tips for success, such as scheduling your meals precisely.  That means breakfast within an hour of waking and then another meal every 3-5 hours.  That helps to avoid feeling hungry while it keeps your metabolism running in high gear.  Another tip is to be creative with your meal planning, selecting one component from each of the puzzle pieces but striving to maximize flavor instead of portion size.  The striking flavors will help you feel satisfied even though your overall caloric intake has dropped.  My favorite tip: don't forget the chocolate!  The dark chocolate has known health benefits and also helps to suppress  your craving for salt and sweet.  That's enough justification for me!

Could this be the right diet for you?  The Cinch diet doesn't focus on calorie or carb counting, so that's a real plus.  The structure makes meal planning easy, although somewhat limited.  The plan predicts a loss of about 10 pounds over the month, which is slightly above the government's recommendation but not too extreme.  And the chocolate requirement is heavenly.

Have you tried the Cinch diet?  Did it deliver the results?  Click on the Comment button and let us know.