Beat that Weight Loss Plateau!

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Hitting a roadblock in your diet can be exasperating. You do well in the first few months–and then your progress stops. And all efforts you put into it are not translating onto the scale and you ask “I was doing so well! What happened?”

This Plateau Stage is a normal occurrence for all people following a weight loss program or certain diet plans. At this stage, the body’s weight loss progress stalls even though the person claims to be working out habitually and eating healthily. So what really happened? Let’s actually take some time to demystify this stage in the weight loss process.

lose-weight1.) Physics

Based on laws of physics, a friend that is, say 200 pounds  will require more energy for him to move compared to you at 180 pounds. This translates to your friend using up more calories when you both run at the same speed. And so given that you are getting lighter as your diet process moves along, it will actually take less calories for you to move compared to when you started your diet at a heavier weight,. You would then need to take longer or more intense runs to achieve the same calorie expended, at the beginning of your workout when you still weigh more.

bmr

2.) Basal Metabolic Rate

The same principle applies to your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. BMR the rate at which our body uses calories to fuel our involuntary actions and while at rest, such as breathing, cell division, blood circulation, muscle contraction etc. In this case, a the person with more mass to move, the more calories is needed to help support these functions. As a person trims down, calories required for these also decreases.

3.) Water Weight

When a person from a sedentary lifestyle starts to improve his diet and workout, it will seem that weight loss will be rapid in the beginning. But sadly, at this stage, what you lose is not fat yet, it’s water. Since water is easier to get rid-off, it explains why people tend to lose weight fast at the start of their programs. Excess water in our body obviously reflects on the weighing scale, and the heavier our weight (excluding those who are heavy in muscle mass), the more water we will lose.

Now that this is cleared up. Let’s learn what’s the best way to lose weight at this stage and keep improving!

plateau

1.) Keep watching your food intake

Further into your diet, it’s a tendency to be complacent about your food intake.   After losing some weight, some already disregarded the importance of keeping track of their intake on their food diary. Upon reaching the plateau, composition of meals may no longer be strictly observed and therefore limiting the changes in the body. That’s why diet coaches insist that monitoring tasks must be done and checked, constantly. Apps and services such as those of HAPIcoach.com can provide a good tool to help monitor your food intake and have a personal nutritionist take a look at your meals while your at it. 

Another is for you to have an increased amounts of protein in your meals. According to a study done by Smart Foods Centre-School of Health Sciences, and CSIRO Human Nutrition, protein consumed in proper amount can increase your metabolism by about 30%, for 12 hours. But of course, protein intake must not go over to your total energy requirement in day, and must still be within desirable range of your total macronutrient intake.

workout

2.) Reevaluate your workout.

Do you feel that your workout has become leisurely? Afternoon runs feel like  a blissful afternoon stroll in the park? Rule of thumb: if it’s too easy, you’re probably not doing enough. When you reach this stage, increase the intensity or try a new routine. Also, try to include  strengthening routines to your workout to increase your muscle mass. More muscle mass translates to increased metabolism, and faster weight loss.

sleep

3.) Rest. Sleep.

The importance of having enough rest and sleep is for you to give room to your body to do necessary muscle repairs. Workout is for stretching the muscles, protein is for filling the gaps from the stretch, and resting is for healing. Overtraining and ignoring rest days is counterproductive as it leads to muscle wasting instead. The weaker our muscles, the lesser the muscle mass. The lesser the muscle mass, the slower the metabolism. Keeping this in mind will help you get some shuteye and give your body a rest.

There you have it! To overcome the plateau stage, your body just basically needs some adjustments and your focus just needs to be realigned.  So keep at it and you’ll achieve your workout and weightloss goals. We’re excited, for you, too!

The HAPILABS Team

5 crazy ideas you should never believe about your diet

“I heard saturated fats are good for you now?”

“Sorry. I don’t eat carbs. I’m on a diet.”

“I can eat whatever I want. I go to the gym regularly.”

You probably have heard these lines before. Tempting to believe, right? Since many still tempted believe such lines and are guilty of thinking them time and again, we have decided to compile some commonly propagated myths and misconceptions about nutrition and weight-loss, and asked our diet coaches to give you the skinny on them. 

  1. Desserts are evil

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We have grown accustomed to always blaming carbohydrates and primarily, desserts to our weight-gain or slow weight-loss progress. What you should be doing is to check the quality and quantity of the dessert. Is it too sugary? Is it fatty? Is it too big for a portion? If you say yes to all, one good solution is simply to cut down the amount by a big portion. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day (or about 100 calories), so keep this in mind and adjust your sweets accordingly. But if you still feel guilty but wanting to have something sweet,  try snacking on fruits. Fruits are the best replacements to our refined sugary desserts. These foods boast high amounts of dietary fiber, water, vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and are refreshing. So generally, desserts need not be antagonized. 

  1.   If you are working out, you can feast, anytime.

Athlete wearing chocolate chip cookies gold medals standing in front of blue sky background

A straightforward answer is NO. Sadly, the amount of calories that you burn in your workout pales in comparison to the amount of calories that you are getting in your food. For example, you can get 100 calories from half cup of plain rice. And if you want to burn that amount, you need to run half a mile in the treadmill. Sounds unfair? It is a common misconception to solely rely on your daily activities, regardless of intensity, when it comes to weight loss. According to nutrition coaches, 75% of your weight-loss goals will be coming from your food habits. So if you want to lose weight and eat healthier, better ask your handy HAPIcoach on your smartphone to help you improve your eating habits. 

  1.             Nope. No Fast food!

bbq buffalo chicken wings with beer

Though the majority of fast food chains offer a fat laden, cholesterol filled menu items, it’s also fair to say that there are other establishments that offer healthy and well balanced meals. Some offer salads and light sandwiches with lean meats, for example. And in some instances, prepared in healthy manner. The key is to always evaluate the menu items. Does your order go with lean, unprocessed meats? How oily is it? Is there a salad in the menu? If so, is the dressing fatty? How about fruits? You can also do special requests as add extra lettuce and tomato and remove mayo from your McDonald’s burger and other items (most other fast foods can do this, too). Go for black coffee instead of adding sugar and creamer. And surprisingly, there are fast foods that offer healthy choices. You just need to be more discerning with the selection.  

  1.                   Snacking is bad for your diet

weigh scale and dessert

Snacking can be the reason why you don’t lose weight and gain more instead. Depending on both quality and quantity of the food, snacking can be a great approach  in your pursuit of a healthier weight. We are all aware that our bodies need fuel to supply energy to the everyday activities, and a snack, if it comes in a healthy portion, is a  good addition to your eating habit. Since you don’t deprive your body of food, snacking helps signal your body to keep burning energy instead of storing it thus, avoiding storage of fat, keeping your metabolism at constant speed. Also, this is a good approach to avoid hunger pangs, lest you overcompensate on your next meal.

  1. Water can make you gain weight

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Yes, but just for a few hours. But you will eventually expend the extra water that you don’t need. And for the record, water doesn’t have any calories, so no negative lasting impact on our weight can be expected. In fact, having sufficient amount of water is also an important key to weight-loss. Our body can recognize if we are not having enough water. When we don’t drink enough water, our bodies conserve what we have, in order to supply necessary fluids to keep our bodily processes going. Our body’s reaction to the lack of water supply is to retain water in our bodies, anticipating a shortage in supply. And this water retention reflects on our weight. Therefore, it is imperative that we drink water in sufficient amount.

 

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At this age of overwhelming information, everyone should learn to sort out facts from myths. Nonetheless, when it comes to your diet it is much better to ask your diet coach to get informed answers about your diet and food choices.

 By Registered Nutritionist HAPI Romer 

HAPILABS Team

 

HAPIfork at NYC’s Story Pop-Up Shop

From January 18-February 28 2016, the quirky Story editorial-gallery-store will feature a “Feel Good Story” theme “to explore the things we can do every day to “Feel Good,” from prevention (Good Plan), and nutrition (Good Eats), to mindfulness (Good Vibes).”

story

HAPIfork is among the many unique nutrition products on display and for sale at the pop-up shop.

hapifork-story

Visit the site and immerse yourself in this one-of-a-kind experience.

event

photos courtesy of Story

Story: Wellness, January 19–February 28, 144 10th Avenue, New York, NY, 10011 , thisisstory.com

Failed another weight-loss plan? New study reveals the problem is actually NOT you.

 

How much of your diet is blamed on your non-compliance?  Don’t beat yourself up if you think you’ve been focused enough on your diet but still can’t lose those pounds.

 A new study reveals that how food is metabolized actually varies from person to person, and in some cases, it can be the total opposite of each other. And if this is the case, any standardized diet approach based on the idea that we all absorb nutrition in the same way, would actually just be playing hit or miss. You’d definitely be much better off going after personalized nutrition that is made for you, based on your own individual profile, your diet and habits.

Blood sugar is one of the main things that are monitored especially when dealing with diet related diseases like obesity, and cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Too much disturbance in blood sugar levels, for instance, makes the body insensitive to insulin, a hormone which facilitates proper absorption of sugar in the blood so we can utilize energy from the food we eat. This leads to magical weight gain even if we’re not actually eating too fatty or too much. To help address such problems, nutritionists have come up with diet recommendations based on food’s Glycemic Index (GI), which ranks how much food affects sugars in our blood stream.

glycemicindex

A food’s GI has always been viewed as a standard for each food item. Based on this index, with the consideration of a some factors like a person’s age and Body Mass Index, nutritionists see if a food item should be enjoyed or avoided. However, based on a new comprehensive study it is reveals that a food’s Glycemic index is actually not a set value, but varies per individual.

 This study led by Dr. Eran Segal and Dr. Eran Elinav biologists at  Weizmann Institute in Israel, involved monitoring blood sugars of 800 participants over a week. Such studies are not usually done in such large scale. Data was collected through various meals like health questionnaires, including a mobile-app reporting of lifestyle and food intake with a total of 46,898 meals measured.  In this study it was found that people show big differences in their responses to food, and in some cases have complete opposite responses.  A particular case is of a person discovering she has been consuming food perceived as good for her, but was actually affecting her blood sugars negatively, which she wouldn’t have known outside the study.

woman speaking to nutritionistSo in reality, your current diet based on the standard GI is possibly not helping you that much. What this study essentially revealed is that you should be seeking guidance from a nutritionist that will  look at you as an individual and will not base advice on a standard one-size-fits-all index when trying to come up with a diet regimen. A personalized nutrition plan definitely would be the best way to go.

Reference:

Cell Press. “‘Healthy’ foods differ by individual.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119133230.htm>.

Parents, Be Mindful Even On Halloween

halloweencandyTempting as it may be to let loose a bit and let your kids go with all the rainbow colors of candy, parents must remember that too much sugar has actual consequences to a child’s health.

It is not just the sugar rush that we’re talking about. Sugar has a much more negative effect on the body that is important for us to know.

teeth

Dental decay is an obvious one. Sugar is known to speed up breakdown of teeth as it fuels the bad bacteria in the month. Though kids naturally lose their baby teeth, it is important to take care of them as you would permanent ones as the bacteria on the surface of baby teeth can attack the healthy ones still under the gum surface, which can adversely affect their growth by the time they’re ready to come out.

Study also finds sugar lowers the immune system to up to five hours after consumption.[1]

Ever notice that close to midnight or when you’ve been up all night, eating sweets has the effect of making your throat scratchy and making you feel like you’re coming down with something? That’s because sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bad bacteria in our bodies.

badsugarSugar as fructose  and glucose that are in abundance in Halloween candy also has the effect of make one feel famished. Muching on sweets makes your brain resist leptin, which is the protein that help signal the body that it is full. Anytime sweets are introduced in the diet, it makes it easier to eat too much. Partnered with the fact that sugar is highly addictive[2], it can lead to complications and diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Though Halloween is just one night a year, letting kids loose on sugar, and having candy in the cookie jar for weeks after, can introduce kids to sugar eating habits and that would be extremely harmful for them in the long run.

Here are a few tips to make this Halloween a little less about the sugar and a bit more about the fun:

Consider giving out inedible treats like Halloween accessories as glow sticks, colorful bracelets, and bubble bottles that they can have fun with while out in the streets at night. Just remember not to give out things that little kids can choke on.

bracelets

Have the tradition of a contest of who can bring home the most candy. That way, kids will have the motivation not to eat any of the candy until they get home, so that you may a handle on what and how much sweets your kids actually consume.

trick or treatThough a bit more out of the way, if you are visiting houses of people you actually know, like friends or relatives, have a deal with them to give out healthier treats to your kids, or prepare something you yourself approve of, and hand them out to house owners before you set out for the night with your kids. It’ll just be between adults.

Remember that sweets during Halloween can just be a portion of the fun. Make other fun highlights such as creating costumes, decorating, and storytelling with your kids, that will focus more on the activities rather than the sweets.

Mother and Daughter Painting a Pumpkin

References:

[1] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, and U. D. Register. – Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. – The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. 1973., Copyright © 1973,http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract\

[2]The Skinny on Obesity – UCTV Prime http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=23717

 

Your HAPIcoach is now accessible wherever you go!

Here’s a fantastic new update to HAPIcoach. No need to download an app, as 1:1 nutrition coaching can now be accessed through Web browsers on any smartphone, desktop or tablet.

Now that HAPIcoach has been optimized to work on all these devices, uploading meal photos and getting advice from HAPIcoach’s team of experts will be so much more convenient. All the features you love with the HAPIcoach app are available, from meal logging, meal commenting, and personal messaging with your coach.

What does this mean for you? Well, you don’t have to worry if you forget your smartphone. HAPIcoach is now with you anywhere you go. Access is no longer limited to just iOS and Android (You can now use it with your Windows phone, Blackberry and others.)  As long as you have access to a browser and an internet connection, you can access your HAPIcoach account, log your meal and get your nutritionist’s advice. No meal will go unlogged. And the more consistently you update your meal diary, the better you get into the food tracking habit and personal diet improvements so you can finally keep those stubborn pounds off for good.

Try it now on HAPIcoach.com

dts

Can’t lose weight? Studies show food tracking may just be the answer.

Keep-Food-Journal

If you’re new to food tracking or perhaps have heard the concept but not sure if it actually  works for weight loss, consider the body of research that attest to its success. A review of 22 studies by the American Dietetic Association revealed significant positive relationship between self-monitoring and successfully losing weight. Here are some more reasons tracking what you eat bodes well for shedding the pounds and keeping them off.

Keeps ‘healthy eating’ top of mind.

Very often we eat mindlessly, without thinking about what we put into our mouths. Who actually counts calories when we stop for that glazed donut? The act of documenting our meals keeps us aware that we are actually making important dietary choices, even when just merely grabbing an afternoon or midnight snack.

It sets you up for success

Food tracking works better if you actually make changes in your diet.  It makes it easier for you to create those changes, too. Sure, you know now to reach for whole grain cereal instead of your usual storebrand favorite. But on top of that, when you actually see what goes into your daily meals, there is a bigger impact, as you’ll know where to make helpful improvements.

Helps you understand how you eat

Monitoring not just the food you eat but also things like your mood while eating can even teach you about your attitude towards food. Do you eat only when you’re actually hungry, or do you just have frequent cravings? Or does that weekly intense performance meeting at work get you  running for the snack bar quicker than any hunger pang? Then you’d know: if you can’t get away with stress eating, you can just prepare a more substantial snack for that day.

Technology makes it easy

The  American Dietetic Association study also concludes that technology advancements like apps for food logging helps people better in adhering to this practice, simply by making the process easier. Applications, such as HAPIcoach that lets you upload photos of your meals, makes the job much detailed, quicker and easier. And on top of that, it also makes information available for actual nutritionist, so you know what you’re actually doing when grabbing a bite.

So before you press the dismiss button on yet another diet reminder, you may want to try this simple and straightforward approach. 🙂

The HAPILABS Team

Low Fat Diet Leads to More Fat loss Than Low Carb Ones, Recent Study Finds

low carb vs low fatA recent study published in Cell Metabolic Journal,  led by Kevin D. Hall at the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease, suggests that a fat restricted diet leads to more weight loss than a calorie restricted diet.

The study involved observing 19 adults with obesity voluntarily confined in a metabolic ward for a period of two weeks,  with one group consuming a carbohydrate restricted diet and the other consuming fat restricted diet, both with daily exercise. The study finds that though both low fat and low carbohydrates lead to fat loss, fat loss is significantly higher in those who consumed low fat diets.

The study demonstrated in the short term that in the calorie restriction of fat vs. carbohydrates, low fat diets leads to more fat loss. This study showed opposite the conclusion of former studies and claims of the metabolic advantage of carbohydrate restriction. (Ludwig and Friedman, 2014).

Though long term and real-life application of the premise of this study would have to consider more complex factors such as behavioral, and the actual attainability of high fat restriction in daily real-life settings, it provides one important takeaway. As Prof Nick Finer, Honorary Professor in the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science mentioned to Science Media Center, one important thing about this study is that it disproves that a low-carb diet is absolutely required if one wants to lose fat, and that only a low-carb diet can lead  to fat loss.

But in the end, this study does not change what all long term dieters are probably already too familiar with, that weight loss success relies less on what the meals of a diet plan or a regimen is composed of, and more on if one can actually stick to to the plan in the long term.

What do you think this study would mean for your weight loss? In essence, if you can maintain a low-fat diet and successfully keep it a habit, that would be the best approach if you’d want to put the elements of this study to actual practice.

The HAPI Team

References:

Hall, Kevin D. “Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity.”Cell Metabolism 12 Aug 2015. <http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(15)00350-2>


Jebb, Susan. “Expert Reaction to Study compairing low-fat and low-carb diets and body fat loss” 13 Aug 2015. <http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/>

To Determine Sound Weight Loss Advice, Use MoBaVa

Online in der Küche

The pool of information on the internet can be overwhelming. Nutrition and weight-loss tips and tricks are being showered to us from different sources and websites. Even our friends share links on social media, persuading others to follow some  fly-by-night blogs and articles written by people who claim themselves nutrition coaches, while boasting vast knowledge in wellness. But many of the diet regimens that are being recommending are turning out to be so restrictive, unsustainable and can potentially put our health in serious jeopardy. And so, how will we discern the good information that are being paraded in front of us?

decide

First, don’t just read the title of the link, read the whole article. Sometimes, titles can be so misleading that people tend to share these links without realizing that they have been a victim of click-bait.

Next, upon reading, check if  article is promoting “MoBaVa”. MoBaVa stands for Moderation, Balance and Variety. Full-fledged nutrition coaches know the importance of these three elements for weight loss and healthy eating.

Let’s discuss the three:

Moderation– Countering the typical misconception of “dieting” that can be an excruciating array of restrictions, moderation only suggests that you have your meals in controlled portions, well distributed throughout the day. Smart eating coaches know that eating in moderation (meaning not too much, yet not too little) is the key for you to avoid unnecessary extra calories, while keeping your metabolism going.

Which one?

Balance– We all know that our bodies need different kinds of nutrients that are necessary to sustain our daily activities and involuntary processes. Having enough of each necessary nutrient can make us perform optimally. However, the keyword here is “balance”. Our meals should have a good balance of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and of course, water.  Nonetheless, some people who claim to be nutrition coaches eliminate important macronutrients totally from the menu, carbohydrates being the best example. Carbohydrates are vital in providing energy. The glucose that it produces is also the food of our brain. Some advocate using protein as a source of energy, which is not a good idea since protein’s primary purpose is to build and repair muscles and other tissues. Also, too much protein without having enough water can also put burden in our kidneys, thus, can promote some form of kidney diseases in the long run.

healthy balanced lifestyle

Variety– There is no such thing as superfood, in which all the nutrients that you need are present in one particular food item alone. We need variety for us to meet all the nutrients our bodies need. One food item has its unique edge, which may not present in another. Weight loss and healthy eating requires variety in food selections. It’s quite hard to imagine always having the same type of food everyday. But just the same, some people binge certain food items, like banana, for instance, saying that it’s much superior to weight loss compared to other fruits. While others indulge on celery because they have read somewhere that it has “negative” calories. These food items are not bad. But it’s also not good to abuse them just for the sake of an abrupt weight-loss. Having too much of a food item can make you get tired of the food eventually while not reaping the benefits of having a variety. In a nutshell, your meal should be in melody. Not monotonous.

If you have sufficiently seen that an article promotes these three, then this is the time you should feel comfortable following the article or sharing it with your friends. If you are still not confident with the content, ask your diet coach for further information and experts’ insights. They will be more than glad to help.

The HAPI Team