The 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age

Have you ever asked a real estate agent what’s the most critical factor when it comes to selling a house? Their answer was probably something you’ve heard before: “Location, location, location.” Well, oddly enough, when it comes to our health and being even a little overweight, that same, worn out real estate proverb is true, as well. Study after study has shown that where our bodies store fat is nearly as important as how much extra weight we’re holding onto. People whose bodies store more fat in their mid-sections face higher risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes and even premature death than those who store extra weight in other ways.

Apples versus pears

Just knowing you should strive to be pear-shaped instead of apple-shaped doesn’t make it any easier to fight that expanding waistline. You need tools. And aging adds its own set of challenges. Some people find that the battle of the bulge gets harder as they get older. After all, our metabolisms start to slow, and arthritis or other health conditions may make it harder to stay as active as we once were.

While cutting calories and adding regular, low-impact exercise — such as swimming or biking — are two great first steps, there are other, very specific things you can do in your fight against unwanted belly fat. Here are the 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age.

  • The cortisol connection – Cortisol has been called the stress hormone. Part of our natural fight-or-flight mechanism, cortisol is released by our bodies when we’re sick, frightened or even feel a lack of control over events in our lives. High cortisol levels have been linked with an impaired immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure and even memory loss. Worse still, if you’re trying to slim your waistline, cortisol tells your body to lay down belly fat. A study published by the National Institutes of Health, “Stress-induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women,” found that, when women were subjected to stressful situations, those who felt the least control over the situation released the most cortisol and gained weight in the abdominal region in response. Relaxation techniques — such as meditation or yoga — in response to stress can lower those toxic cortisol levels and keep added weight off your waistline


  • Supplementation – Many vitamins and minerals have been found to have an impact on weight gain. This is especially significant for older people. As you age, it’s harder for your body to get all the nutrients that you need from your food. This makes supplementation even more important than ever. Vitamins and minerals that have been shown to aid in weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight include vitamin D, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.


  • Aim for whole grains – The benefits of whole grains cannot be disputed. They stabilize blood sugar levels, stave of hunger pains and lower cholesterol, all good news for anyone hoping to maintain a healthy weight. And, since weight gain of any kind often means belly fat, the more whole grains you add to your diet, the slimmer your waistline is likely to be. Oats are a great whole grain choice. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, oats are not only high in fat-fighting fiber but also a good source of magnesium, chromium and protein.


  • Drink more water – We’ve all heard the old saying, “Drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day.” It turns out, drinking enough water every day may be even more important as we age, especially if we want to lose weight. A 12-week study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, with middle-aged and older participants, showed that participants who drank 500 ml of water before each meal lost 44 percent more weight while on a low-calorie diet than those on a low-calorie diet alone.


  • Get enough sleep – You may already associate not getting enough sleep with the health of your immune system or your ability to concentrate, but a follow-up study reported by SCIENCE Natural News, shows a strong connection between sleep and weight gain. The study showed significant weight gain among study participants who reported the least amount of sleep. To stave off overall weight gain and resist belly fat, put getting a good night’s rest at the top of your “to do” list.

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Low-carb vegan diet found to reduce weight gain and heart attack risk

A low-carb, vegan diet may reduce the risk of heart disease by 10 percent over the course of a decade, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto), Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, New York Medical College and Solae LLC, and published in BMJ Open.

“We killed two birds with one stone — or, rather, with one diet,” lead author Dr. David Jenkins said. “We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both.”

Design your own diet

Although many studies have shown that certain low-carbohydrate diets can be very helpful in achieving weight loss, such diets have also been linked to unhealthy cardiovascular effects due to their emphasis on consuming animal fat and protein. In contrast, plant-based diets have been linked to lower cardiovascular risk factors.

In the new study, researchers sought to combine the benefits of a low-carb diet with those of a vegan diet — in which no animal products at all are consumed, including meat, dairy and eggs. This low-carb vegan diet is sometimes called the “Eco-Atkins” diet, especially when it involves high protein consumption.

The researchers randomly assigned 23 obese women and men to follow either an Eco-Atkins diet or a high-carbohydrate, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (dairy and eggs allowed) for six months. Rather than preparing the participants’ food for them, the researchers gave participants menu plans outlining food suitable for the assigned diet, as well as suggested portions. This allowed participants to plan meals according to their own tastes and made it more likely that they would follow the assigned diet.

Suggested carbohydrate sources for low-carb participants included high-fiber grains such as oats and barley, and low-starch vegetables such as eggplant and okra. Suggested protein sources included nuts, gluten, soy, vegetables and grains, and suggested fat sources included nuts, soy, vegetable oils and avocado. Suggested carbohydrate sources for high-carb participants included any whole grains, while suggested protein sources included liquid egg substitutes and skim or low-fat dairy products.

All participants were instructed to design meals so that they ate only about 60 percent of their estimated daily caloric requirements, in order to produce weight loss. Low-carb vegan participants were instructed to get 26 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates, 31 percent from protein and 43 percent from fat. High-carb vegetarian participants were instructed to get 58 percent from carbohydrates, 16 percent from protein and 25 percent from fat.

Varied health benefits

Although caloric intakes were similar between groups and fat intake was higher in the low-carb group, participants on the low-carb diet lost an average of 4 pounds more than participants in the high-carb group.

Perhaps more significantly, participants in the low-carb group experienced a 10 percent greater reduction in cholesterol than participants in the high-carb group. Over the course of a decade, this level of change could also reduce the risk of heart disease by an additional 10 percent.

“We could expect similar results in the real world because study participants selected their own diets and were able to adjust to their needs and preferences,” Dr. Jenkins said.

Another pair of recent studies, conducted by researchers from Linkoping University in Sweden and published in the journals Diabetologia and Annals of Medicine, confirmed even more health benefits to a low-carb diet. The researchers assigned type 2 diabetes patients to either a low-carb or a traditional low-fat diet for six months. They found that, while weight loss was similar between the diets, the low-carb diet led to greater reductions in blood sugar and inflammation.

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Eat fat, lose weight

The conventional wisdom recommending individuals decrease calories, increase exercise and then wait for the pounds to fall off is incorrect. A calorie is not a calorie. When one eats sugar or carbohydrates that quickly convert to sugar, fat is produced in the body. In contrast, if one eats healthy fats, the body feels more satiated and the fat eaten converts to energy. While reducing calories matters, the type of calories eaten is an important variable.

Several “diets” recommend eating healthy fats

Atkins, the South Beach Diet, the ketogenic diet, and the Paleo and Weston Price Traditional diets all share the philosophy that cutting carbs and increasing fats helps one lose weight.

Fallon and Enig in their book Eat Fat, Lose Fat discuss in detail the importance of healthy traditional fats in the diet. By eating traditional, nutrient dense fats such as virgin, organic coconut oil prior to or with meals, one feels more satiated and gains important energy stores. Fat regulates blood sugar and reduce cravings for carbohydrates, assisting in weight loss.

A “calorie is not a calorie”

Health experts in the documentary Fed Up, documenting America’s obesity and diabetes epidemic, emphasize the fact that not all calories are equal. The experts stress that “sugar” calories convert to fat, while fat and protein calories are converted to energy. Sugar calories include honey, maple syrup, sucrose, fruit juice and high fructose corn syrup.

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Man loses 154 pounds and overcomes diabetes, says eating whole foods was key to weight loss success

Six-foot one-inch tall Kerry Hoffman used to weigh 343 pounds, have diabetes and frequently indulge in processed, unhealthy foods. “I ate anything that tasted good — wings, pizza, stuffed burgers, tons of sweets and dessert,” said Hoffman, whose father passed away from liver disease. Not long after his father’s death came the birth of his daughter. These two life events served as his breaking point, urging him to become healthy.

Today, the 32-year-old man has shed 154 pounds, and he currently weighs 189 pounds. He’s no stranger to triathlons and cycling, and is used to people coming up to him asking for his weight loss and health advice.

More important than his participation in fitness events is the fact that his health has improved significantly. He recalls visiting his doctor and hearing him announce, “You have officially cured yourself of diabetes.” Furthermore, Hoffman was also taken off other medications for cholesterol and blood pressure.

Eating better to achieve weight loss goals

Hoffman explains that, in addition to incorporating fitness into his daily routine, he began eliminating junk food from his diet, which he still avoids today. “I eat mainly whole foods. I stay away from processed stuff as much as possible,” he said. “I never ate vegetables or salad before, and now two helpings of salad with homemade dressing is a staple every evening, as well as a fresh veggie.”

Losing weight, as most are aware, is beneficial for overall health. Not only can losing excess pounds provide relief for the body’s joints and increased energy, but studies show that weight loss achieved at any age also has long-term cardiovascular benefits, suggesting that it’s possible for people to improve health no matter their age.

Others also prove that fresh fruits and vegetables are key to weight loss

Others like Hoffman have also been successful in the weight loss department, attributing their changes to better fitness and dietary habits.

For example, Justin Willoughby lost over 550 pounds in part due to giving up high-sugar foods and processed meats and, instead, enjoying natural foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

There’s also Luis Melendez, who lost 120 pounds and no longer needs to be on certain medications, because he turned to a raw food diet.

Jennifer Lilley is yet another weight loss success story who says her ability to lose, and keep off the 70 pounds she lost, is in large part because of the fact that she includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and superfoods in her diet.


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Top 5 foods to NOT eat to avoid belly fat

No one wants to be overweight, but there’s something about belly fat that seems worse than other types. Even the names make us cringe: Muffin top. Beer belly. Spare tire. Widening at the waistline, however, is not just aesthetically unpleasant; it’s also bad for your health. Studies have shown that the larger your waist measurement, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. While eating well, taking supplements and exercising are all excellent ways to slow the expansion of your waistline, there are also some foods that you should completely avoid if losing belly fat is your goal.

Top 5 foods to NOT eat to avoid belly fat

Here’s the ultimate “perp walk” when it comes to belly-busting foods.

  1. Soda – Soda pop is pure liquid calories. A single super-sized drink, the kind you can get from a convenience store, packs as much pure sugar as an entire chocolate cake. Worse still, the sugar in most sodas is in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, an artificial form of sugar that has undergone a chemical process to enhance its level of sweetness. In a study reported by SCIENCE Natural News , rats were fed either high-fructose corn syrup or plain sucrose as part of their diet. It was found that the corn syrup-fed rats not only gained more weight but also had a significant increase in abdominal weight gain. Move over beer belly! Soda belly may be taking your place.
  2. White bread – White bread is made from highly processed white flour. Nearly all the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in whole grains have been completely removed. The result is a carbohydrate that is quickly processed by your body, causing your blood sugar and insulin to spike, and then drop. This process, if repeated often enough, can lead to obesity, pancreatic fatigue, type 2 diabetes and increased belly fat.
  3. Alcohol – Alcohol is simply highly refined sugar. And, while some studies show that moderate drinking can be good for your health, the sugar in alcohol is processed by your body in the same way that it processes all refined sugars and, in the process, increases your blood glucose levels. This, just as with refined sugars, can adversely affect your weight, your pancreas and your waistline.
  4. French fries – People think of French fries as starchy, because they’re made with potatoes, and high-calorie, because they’re fried in oil, but when it comes to avoiding belly fat, it’s not the starch or calories that are the problem. The problem is that most of the French fries served by restaurants and fast food outlets are fried in hydrogenated trans fats — chemically altered vegetable oils. Trans fats have long been known for their negative impact on our health, including an increased risk of heart disease. But a 2007 study reported by the National Institutes of Health, which measured how monkeys responded to fat in their diets, has conclusively linked trans fats and belly fat. It was found that the monkeys who consumed trans fats — as opposed to healthy, monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil — not only gained more weight than the animals eating the healthier fats but also gained that weight around their middle sections. The trans fat-fed monkeys even gained weight when they were not consuming too many overall calories! Trans fats, found in many processed foods other than French fries, should always be avoided.
  5. Hamburgers – Because it’s usually made with ground beef and processed cheese, the all-American hamburger is sky high in saturated animal fats. Saturated fats have been linked to heart disease, arthritis, many types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. A diet high in saturated fat not only contributes to weight gain but also contributes specifically to abdominal weight gain. A study published by the American Diabetes Association showed that participants who consumed extra calories in the form of saturated fats gained more weight in the abdominal area than participants who received those extra calories in the form of healthy fats. The take away? Skip the burgers at you next barbeque, and serve skinless chicken breasts or broiled fish and veggies instead.

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Top herbs that lead to quick weight loss

Individuals who carry an excess amount of weight on their frames can face a number of health problems. Being overweight has been linked to an increase in blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, being overweight makes it more difficult for people to move and exercise and these effects often domino. Being sedentary can lead to a greater weight gain as well as an increase in the above health conditions.

Making lifestyle changes, such as eating more healthy foods and exercising on a regular basis, is a great way to get started losing weight. Sometimes the progress can seem a bit slower than the individual would like it to be. The following herbs help to increase the amount of weight loss so that results are seen more quickly.


The oft-maligned dandelion weed is actually a powerful aid in the weight loss arena. Each part of the lowly dandelion flower and herb can be ingested. In addition to it being prized for its cleansing properties, dandelion helps to neutralize toxins, keep blood sugar levels normal, reduce inflammation and make the body more alkaline. An individual can consume dandelion as a tea, in the form of a supplement or eat some of the leafy greens.

Milk thistle

Milk thistle could be a cousin to dandelion. It provides many of the same welcome cleansing properties as dandelion does. These include clearing the toxins out of the liver, and making good use of glucose and sugar for fuel instead of them turning into fat.


Highly prized as an aid in weight loss, there are two types of ginseng that are found in the United States: Chinese and Siberian. Both forms are available as a supplement or as a tea. They help to increase weight loss because they contain caffeine, a known stimulant. In addition, because they are a thermogenic aid, both forms of ginseng help to boost the energy of people who take them. People who take this herb on a regular basis have also noticed that their appetite has decreased and that the clarity of their thoughts has increased.


A tasty herb that can add a great dollop of flavor to many dishes, peppermint is tops for helping ramp up weight loss. It primarily does so by ridding the body of toxins and waste. Peppermint also aids in digestion and helps to reduce bloat. Another key advantage of peppermint is that it helps to reduce the appetite as well as reduce stress. For people who eat when they are stressed, this is a great herb to drink as a tea, take as a supplement or use as an essential oil.

Increasing the amount of weight loss can help an individual stay on track with their goals as well as enjoy better health. The above herbs can help them accomplish this.

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One diet does not have to fit all for weight loss

Weight Watchers, Fit Female Club, Jenny Craig…etc. whichever weight loss program you choose it seems they all add up to weight loss via their low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets. Recent research has determined that there is little difference among the weight loss programs used (which were unnamed in the study). The important thing was getting people to adhere to the diets and sticking with it; personalizing it to fit the dieter’s needs.

As is always the case with weight loss, the most important thing the study found was that the diet must be easy for the individuals to stick to and it must be sustainable for an extended period of time.

The Study

The research, which was published in JAMA, did a meta-analysis on over 50 long term trials (of at least 12 months) which encompassed over 7,300 people. The analysis found (of course) that dieters witnessed significantly more weight loss than non-dieters. After 6 months the low-carb dieters lost a median weight of 19.2 pounds, while the low-fat dieters lost 17.6 pounds, with both having similar results after 12 months (losing around 16 more pounds each).

The great part about the study is that it depicts that one size doesn’t fit everyone and that you should get on a plan that is tailored to fit your individual needs so you can more easily adhere to it. One member of the research team, Dr. Bradley C. Johnston of the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute said, “Our findings suggest that patients may choose, among those associated with the largest weight loss, the diet that gives them the least challenges with adherence.”

Dieting Evolution

This highlights that your diet doesn’t have to be incredibly restrictive as this usually leads to dropout. In fact, severely restrictive dieting can have several adverse health effects like muscle loss, nutrition deficiency, episodes of over-eating and even weight gain.

In order to teach yourself how to eat healthier it was recently determined that a good way to do this is to keep the things you love in your diet. You can do this by decreasing their portion size while increasing the portion size of healthy foods (vegetables, fruits, quality protein), enabling you to teach your brain (and you) how to eat healthier. It basically helps quench your urges/cravings for the things you love by still letting you have small portions.


It seems that as long as you eat a balanced diet, no matter if you choose a low carb or low fat diet, you can still achieve substantial results as long as you can adhere to it! As Dr. Linda Van Horn, R.D., at Northwestern University said, “Choosing the best diet suited to an individual’s food preferences may help foster adherence, but beyond weight loss, diet quality including micronutrient composition may further benefit longevity.”

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6 undeniable reasons you are overweight

The commonly held assumption that being overweight is simply a mathematical formula of calories in and calories out is an outdated way of thinking that needs to be changed. Weight gain is often a complicated dynamic between one’s culture, environment, exercise habits, eating styles, genetics, and biochemical individuality. With that said, here are 6 reasons you are overweight.

Sluggish metabolism

There may be a few reasons for a sluggish metabolism, but one of the primary culprits is an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). When hypothyroidism causes metabolism to slow, the body will store rather than burn calories, causing an accumulation of fat. The consequence of this slowing metabolism can create:

  • An accumulation of hyalouronic acid, a sugar that binds with water in the body, causing swelling and an increase in weight. This is characterized by puffy, thick skin and fluid retention.
  • A sluggish digestive system, resulting in gastrointestinal problems that could lead to a more serious condition known as leaky gut. Weight gain is a potential result of digestive disturbances.
  • A decrease in insulin production by the pancreas due to inflammation, also known as pancreatitis. When insulin imbalances occur, blood sugars are not burned off and they turn into fat.
  • A decrease in the body’s thermogenic (fat burning capacity), which can lead to increased fat storage.

Toxic load

Toxicity is one of the primary reasons for weight gain, particularly for people who can’t keep it off. When the liver becomes overburdened with toxins, it causes imbalances that can lead to weight gain, including blood sugar imbalance, essential fatty acid deficiency, and slowed metabolism. Our processed, genetically modified food supply is just one aspect of our toxic load.

An unhealthy toxic load can also cause stagnant lymph flow, which holds water and toxins so body weight accumulates. Toxic accumulation in the colon can also drain the body of energy, lower metabolism, and burden the detoxification organs, like the liver and kidneys.

Insulin imbalance

Many cases of being overweight are due to an imbalance of the hormone insulin. Insulin allows the body to use glucose (sugar) and carbohydrates. However, factors such as genetic predisposition, food allergies, eating habits, and stress can interfere with glucose and carbohydrate utilization, which can result in a condition known as glucose intolerance. Excess sugar consumption (refined carbohydrates) may also contribute to glucose intolerance and obesity.

Usually insulin will signal the body to stop eating, but if your glucose levels are chronically heightened due to inefficient insulin, you may eat more. This sets up a nasty cycle of eating more refined carbohydrates, which leads to even more hunger, which often ends to more weight gain.

Lack of exercise

The amount of exercise you incorporate on a regular basis will strongly affect your weight. We are generally much less active than previous generations and our time is more consumed by television. It is estimated that a quarter of the population is completely sedentary while up to 55% are inadequately active.

Without exercise, your metabolism slows down, your lymph becomes congested, and your lean muscle mass becomes depleted. All these factors facilitate excessive weight gain.


Food restriction for the purpose of weight loss should be avoided. Ironically, we have become fatter as a culture, partly because of the yo-yo effects of dieting.

Whenever the body is deprived of food, whether it is because of famine or dieting, the body ensures survival by decreasing metabolic rate in order to compensate for fewer calories. Energy is stored so efficiently in adipose (fat) tissue that a person of normal weight can survive for 2 months without eating.

When the food restriction ends, the desire to binge kicks in as a result of another built in survival mechanism. This leads to an unhealthy trap that often results in a primarily overweight state.

Psychosocial factors

Many people overeat due to stress, anger, sadness, boredom, and other emotional factors unrelated to hunger or nutritional needs. Food is interwoven into our social activities, childhood memories, and the psyche. Holidays are filled with excessive food intake and bad food combinations that significantly contribute to weight gain.

It’s important to note that food affects mood by triggering the release of endorphins (natural pain killers) and serotonin (mood boosters). Unfortunately, the types of foods eaten (chocolate, carbohydrates, and sweets) not only elevate your mood but trigger cravings for more. This emotional eating can contribute to significant weight gain if you lead a stressful life or have unresolved emotional issues.

Your intestinal flora play a huge role in how your brain works, from food cravings to mood. Your gut health effects your overall ability and desire to loose weight. Check out the first two sources for more information on intestinal health.

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Green tea extract weight loss secrets explained

Every year, dozens of less-than-reputable companies seek out new ways to capitalize on Americans’ desire to lose weight, and the stakes can be huge: In the U.S. alone, consumers spend about $35 million on weight loss programs and products each year, making it a market ripe for scams.

From “miracle pills” that claim to help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days without dieting or exercise to jewelry that purports to stimulate fat loss simply by wearing it, the weight loss marketplace is full of products that make highly suspicious claims. Some of them are patently outrageous, but others have just enough “smart” marketing to make them seem plausible, making it difficult to know which products may actually be worthwhile and which are no more than placebos.

In recent years, green tea has emerged as a fat-fighting hero, helping people lose weight and keep it off. But where other products’ claims are based on conjecture or hypothesis — or just out-and-out hooey — green tea extract weight loss claims actually have science to back them up. In fact, for well over a decade, researchers have been evaluating the link between weight loss and a chemical in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, which actually does help promote weight loss. If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of supplements or read a news article about green tea, those initials are probably familiar to you. But just what is ECGC and how does it work to help promote weight loss?

ECGC explained

ECGC is a catechin, a type of antioxidant that is found predominantly in tea, but also in smaller amounts in red wine and chocolate. Most people know that antioxidants can help decrease the harmful effects of oxidative stress, a process associated with premature aging and cell breakdown. But this particular antioxidant does more.

When consumed, ECGC helps promote fat loss by increasing the rate at which the body burns fat — its fat oxidation level. Researchers aren’t completely sure how it does that, but it appears to speed up thermogenesis, a process that uses calories to generate heat.

It also helps prevent the breakdown of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which plays an important role in weight management. Norepinephrine works by signaling the brain that you’re full. When levels are low, the body feels hungry. ECGC helps keep norepinephrine from degrading too quickly, which means you’ll feel fuller longer.

ECGC helps in other ways too. For instance, in one study conducted at Penn State University, researchers found that mice who were given both ECGC and a high-fat diet gained substantially less weight than mice that were fed the same diet but were not given ECGC supplements.

ECGC also appears to prevent fat cells from taking in more fat.  That’s important, because after puberty, the number of fat cells we have stays fairly stable; of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t gain weight. But when we do, it’s because our fat cells are expanding to hold more fat. By slowing each cell’s ability to increase its fat stores, weight gain can be controlled.

If you’ve been keeping tack, that’s a four-pronged attack:

  • Increasing the rate of fat oxidation and promoting thermogenesis
  • Inhibits breakdown of norepinephrine to help control appetite
  • Spurs weight loss even without dietary changes
  • Prevents fat cells from increasing their fat capacity

What about caffeine?
Of course, because green tea contains caffeine, some have wondered if it’s actually the caffeine that’s causing at least some of these effects and not ECGC at all. Cue research! A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of ECGC and caffeine in two groups of mice, one that received green tea extract and one that received caffeine. What did they find? The mice that received the extract had significantly greater fat oxidation rates than those that received only caffeine, demonstrating that the fat-oxidative effects of green tea have nothing to do with the tea’s caffeine levels. So, if you don’t like caffeine, you can still enjoy all the benefits that green tea has to offer simply by choosing a decaffeinated supplement.

There are lots of other studies supporting the role of green tea in a weight loss management program, but the primary thing to remember is to select a supplement from a reputable company to ensure that you’re getting what you’re paying for — and to ensure that the benefits are as great as they can be.

Grapefruit juice protects against weight gain and diabetes

A new study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley suggests that grapefruit juice could replace metformin, a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes; the fruit may also be helpful in preventing weight gain as well as decreasing blood glucose levels.

Published October 8 in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, scientists studied the relationship between grapefruit consumption and weight gain in mice. The test subjects that were fed a high-fat diet gained 18 percent less weight when they drank “clarified, pulp-free” grapefruit juice compared with the control group that only consumed water, UC Berkeley News Center reports.

Even more interesting, the mice that drank grapefruit juice had “improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol compared with their water-drinking counterparts.”

Weight loss has been associated with grapefruit consumption since the 1930s and was considered a trendy Hollywood diet; however, the supporting research was “not well-controlled” and “contradictory,” scientists say.

“There are many active compounds in grapefruit juice, and we don’t always understand how all those compounds work” – Andreas Stahl

Researchers admit that the latest study was funded by the California Grapefruit Growers Cooperative but insist that the association had no influence whatsoever over the findings. Both of the study’s lead scientists say they entered into the research with skepticism.

“I was surprised by the findings,” said Andreas Stahl, associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology. “We even re-checked the calibration of our glucose sensors, and we got the same results over and over again.”

Joseph Napoli, the study’s other lead author, added that “we see all sorts of scams about nutrition. But these results, based on controlled experiments, warrant further study of the potential health-promoting properties of grapefruit juice.”

To reach their conclusion, scientists randomly divided mice into six groups, including a control group that only drank water. The grapefruit-drinking mice received a mixture diluted with water at different concentrations and sweetened slightly with saccharin to counteract grapefruit’s bitterness.

Glucose and artificial sweeteners were added to the control group’s drinking water, so its calorie and saccharin contents would be equal to those of the grapefruit juice.

It’s important to note that artificial sweeteners have been proven to make you fat and encourage your body to hold onto that fat longer than regular sugars; however, it’s unknown whether or not the study’s authors considered this fact.

The mice that consumed the high-fat diet and drank diluted grapefruit juice didn’t just lose more weight than their control counterparts; they also had a 13 to 17 percent decrease in blood glucose levels, as well as a threefold decrease in insulin levels, according to the results.

The huge decrease in insulin levels indicates a greater sensitivity to the hormone. The pancreas in people with Type 2 diabetes produces extra insulin in order to compensate for increased resistance to the hormone, explains UC Berkeley.

One group of mice was given naringin, a bioactive compound that gives grapefruit their bitter taste and has been linked to weight loss, and another group metformin, a glucose-lowering drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

The mice were then fed a diet of either 60 percent fat or 10 percent fat for 100 days while researchers measured their metabolic health.

“The grapefruit juice lowered blood glucose to the same degree as metformin,” said Napoli, professor and chair of nutritional sciences and toxicology. “That means a natural fruit drink lowered glucose levels as effectively as a prescription drug.”

Scientists suspect that, while naringin helps lower blood glucose levels, there’s some other ingredient in grapefruit that contributes to weight loss, because the high-fat diet mice that received naringin had lower glucose levels but didn’t show a difference in weight.

“Basically, we couldn’t see a smoking gun that could explain why or how grapefruit juice affects weight gain,” said Stahl.

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