Your body is a prepper – the notorious Yo-yo effect

We all have heard that before: Eat too much and you gain weight – eat less and you lose weight. This formula seams too simple not to be true, the only problem is – it doesn’t really work! Have you ever tried and starved away a few pounds just to find that as soon as you return to a normal diet you regain it all – and more? But – where does this world famous yo-yo effect come from? 

The reason for this lies in the fact that your body is a prepper: When you eat very little, your body will go: OMG! There is no food left! I am running short of nutrients! We are all going to starve to death! And it reacts by activating its emergency mode: Slow down metabolism and use as little of the available energy, who knows things might even get worse than this! Funnily, this reaction is triggered not by a shortage in fat and carbohydrates, but in micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. 

And being the very prudent prepper it is, your body sticks to its emergency mode even when you go back to a normal diet, just in case hard times are coming back. Therefore, it stores as much as possible of the energy it takes in as – guess what! – body fat, regaining all the weight you have been struggling so hard to get rid of (and more). 

In this way, a lack of micronutrients caused by the attempt to starve your way to the body of your dreams counteracts all your effort – and moreover, it is unhealthy, too. 

Therefore, in order to achieve sustainable and healthy weight loss, instead of starving, make sure to increase the amount of micronutrients you take in and reduce only the sources of energy like fat and carbohydrates! This will help you obtain the results you dream of and promote your general health and wellbeing! 

Health, Nutrition

The underestimated enemy

We all know, that if we want to reduce body weight, we need to reduce the amount of sugar we take in.
Funny enough, this very simple rule seems a lot harder to implement to our daily lives than one might think.

Even if you are perseverant enough to resist cakes and ice creams, chocolate and candy, you most likely fail when it comes to the most underestimated sources of sugar and calories: drinks!

These are the 5 most common party spoilers for those who try to lose weight:

Alcohol
I really don’t want to spoil the party, but – if you want to reduce weight, alcohol is an absolute no-go! Not only is alcohol itself high in calories, many drinks contain a lot of sugar as well.
If you follow weight loss channels on social media, you might come across low-calorie party drinks that appear to be okay even if you are on a regime.
Unfortunately, the contained calories represent only the tip of the iceberg. What is even worse is the fact, that alcohol affects your metabolism and reduces your body’s capacity of burning fat for several days.

Soft drinks
All the soft drinks you’d get in the supermarket are nothing but sugar, artificial colour and additives. They are the prototypical example of what dietitians would call “dead calories” – highly caloric foods (or drinks) that are rich in macronutrients (=carbohydrates) and totally void of micronutrients (like vitamins). You can probably starve for months, if you keep consuming soft drinks you are very unlikely to lose any weight, at all!

Milk Shakes
We all have grown up believing that milk is a great source of calcium and protein, and that you should be drinking at least a glass of milk a day to keep your bones strong.
Scientific studies indicate, that this might not be true: The contained calcium might not be easily available to the human body, the American Nurse Report even seems to prove that higher milk consumption over many years might increase the risk of fractures.
But this isn’t what this post is about, and when it comes to its nutritional value, milk naturally contains fat and lactose (=milk sugar).
Add some fruits and some more sugar and what you get is a high calorie sugar bomb that will definitely not help with your weight loss ambition!

Fruit juice
Unlike the first three, where most of us had already had the feeling that they were not exactly enhancing weight loss, this might come as a surprise.
Juices are undoubtedly less harmful than the previous three, because they often come with a range of vitamins and trace elements – at least if it is natural (and preferably organic) juice we are talking about.
Still they can spoil your attempt to reduce weight, because they contain a fair amount of sugar – partly natural fruit sugars, but added refined sugar as well. And, what makes things worse: They come with all the sugar, but without the fibers of the original fruits.

Smoothies
Isn’t this outrageous? Now we have been told for years that there is nothing healthier than a nice smoothie in the morning, and then there comes this blog post and tries to tell you it isn’t so! Okay, stop. Breathe! Smoothies ARE a healthy way to provide your body with the micronutrients you need. At least if you don’t buy the fake stuff you get cheap at the supermarket.
BUT! What we said about juices is partly true for smoothies, too. Especially when created with nice and sweet fruits or so called superfoods, they can contain an unexpected amount of calories.
We are not saying you shouldn’t be having them, we just mean to point out that they are more of a meal than a drink: If you bear that in mind, smoothies are a great source of power!

So what to drink then?

if you get thirsty, the best you can do is drink water. If you feel that water tastes boring, you can add some taste by adding slices of fruits (Note: you need to cut them, not squeeze them!) or some spice. This will make for a great and delicious refreshment at 0 kcal!

Health, Nutrition

Addicted to fast food?

It will be pretty hard to find anyone who is genuinely convinced that fast food is good for your health. Quite to the contrary, we all know that we shouldn’t be eating it, but – hey: there’s nothing wrong with a nice burger meal every now and then, right? For after all: If it were that unhealthy, we wouldn’t be craving it, right?

Sorry to spoil the party, but – no. The bitter truth is: Fast food is addictive. As are most highly processed foods, by the way. The higher your food is in fat and sugar, the more likely it is to activate your reward system. This is why fast food makes you feel good and gives you the impression of treating yourself – while really taking in a most harmful meal that doesn’t keep you satisfied for long.

Food addiction in general has been discussed controversially, because scientists have not come to a final conclusion on whether you can or cannot be addicted to something that is vital – like food. But there is strong evidence that a frequent consumption that fatty and sugary meals can lead to addictive behavior.

What is addiction anyways?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines addiction as an inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful.

Scientifically speaking, the main characteristics of addiction are brain reward dysfunction, impaired control, preoccupation, risky use, tolerance/withdrawal, social impairment, chronicity and relapse.

There is rather strong evidence that especially the criteria of brain reward dysfunction and impaired control apply when it comes to addictive behavior in relation to food.

In the case of fast food, the signs of impaired control are:

  • You eat larger quantities of fast food than you actually wanted to – or you have it more often than intended.
  • You know you shouldn’t and keep making resolutions not to have fast food anymore – and yet you keep coming back.
  • You go the extra mile (literally) and invest a notable amount of time to get the fast food.
  • You crave fast food and feel you really need to have it.

Sounds familiar? Don’t panic, it does for most of us! The best way to get out of this is to establish a whole new lifestyle, replacing old habits with new and healthier ones. Been there, tried that and failed? Successfully changing your habits becomes a lot easier with a bit of support (as provided by a personal coach or our SMYLEAN app).

Health, Nutrition

Never underestimate the greens: 10 all-vegan sources of protein

If you have ever bothered to learn about healthy weight loss, you will surely have come across the fact that protein is a very valuable macronutrient: You need protein to build up muscles, and muscles help you burn fat because they increase your metabolic rate. In other words: If you build up muscle, your body burns more calories, even while you are sleeping.

Many people believe that proper protein supply can only be achieved by eating loads of meat, dairy and eggs. But – is that true?

Well, not quite! It is true, that the amount per 100g is highest in these kinds of foods, but – is that really what you want when it comes to weight loss?

If you’re on a regime of calorie restriction, you might want to have a look at the amount of proteins in relation to calories, not grams – and here, the picture changes drastically!

For your reference: A 100-kcal portion of sirloin steak (which is only 45g of meat, mind!) provides you with 12g of protein, whilst containing 6.3g of fat.

Compared to that, veggies do have a lot more to offer! Here’s the top ten vegetables for your protein supply at low calories!

Watercress
For an intake of 100 kcal you can have 909g of watercress, providing you with 20.9g of protein. And the fat intake? Doesn’t really count, as it sums up to less than 1g.


Alfalfa sprouts

A 100-kcal portions of this power sprout corresponds to 435g and contains 17.4g of protein, coming with only 3g of fat.

Spinach
Popeye the sailor was quite right: Spinach can be a source of muscle growth. Coming with the same caloric values as alfalfa, it gives you 12.6g of protein at only 1.3g of fat.

Asparagus
The much-loved spring vegetable is surprisingly rich in protein, too: Would you have thought you could eat half a kilo of asparagus to reach a calorie intake of 100kcal? And that this would provide you with 11g of protein? Note: 100 kcal of asparagus might contain less protein than the sirloin steak, BUT (!) you’ll feel pretty full after your meal, which most probably isn’t true for the 45g portion of meat, right?

Mustard greens
A vegetable rather uncommon in European cuisines is mustard greens. A shame, bearing in mind it is a great source of protein, too! A 370g portion (=100 kcal) contains 10g of protein and 1.5g of fat.

Broccoli
Unlike mustard greens, broccoli is vastly known and one of the most common vegetables. And for a reason: 294g contain 8.2g of protein and only 1.2g of fat.

Cauliflower
Almost the same goes for broccoli’s pale cousin: 400g give you 8g of protein and contain 1.1g of fat.

Brussels sprouts
This very traditional vegetable can also contribute to your protein supply: 232g of brussels sprouts contain 7.9g of protein and less than 1g of fat!

Collard greens
Apart from being a great source for several micronutrients, collard greens also contain a fair amount of protein: 7.8g of protein in a 312g-portion of collard greens, whilst the amount of fat is only 1.9g

Chinese cabbage
Or how about a nice salad of Chinese cabbage? A 625g bowl (still 100kcal) provides you with 7.2g of protein and only 1.9g of fat.

As you can see from this list, there are vegan options to get your daily share of protein – you just need to look a little closer 🙂

Health, Nutrition