4 Foolproof Ways To Outsmart Your Cravings

We know cravings can be influenced by physical factors like an energy deficit or hormone fluctuations, but they’re also influenced by factors like emotions, stress and how our brains process sensory cues, such as the sight and smell of food.

Here are four powerful tactics you can use to outwit cravings.

1. Build higher-protein meals.

Aim to get 30 percent or more of your calories from protein if you’re struggling with feeling hungry and are prone to junk-food cravings. To do that you’ll want to incorporate high protein foods, such as eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or a some protein powder into every meal.

2. Identify emotional triggers.

When you’re seized by a craving, it’s easy to tune out everything else, but try to sense what emotions you were feeling just before the craving hit.

What was it that triggered the urge to eat?

Stopping these cravings starts with recognising and breaking patterns you have between unpleasant feelings and food intake.

Each time you feel like eating in response to that emotional stimulus, instead try writing down your feelings, talk to a friend or allow yourself the space to just feel the emotion without giving in to the temptation. Overtime the urges will weaken until eventually the emotion no longer triggers the urge.

3. Confine sugar to an occasional treat.

Eating foods that are high in added sugars causes the brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, a reward signal that not only gives us pleasure, but also makes us crave more.

If you don’t want to cut out sugar completely, you can use this information to strategically choose when you want to enjoy your sweet treats. If you want to have some chocolate or some other treat, the best time to do it is when you’re not overly emotional and after you’ve already eaten.

With some food already in your stomach, you will have an easier time stopping after one portion and won’t encourage compulsive cravings for more and more sugar.

4. Get an extra hour or two of sleep.

Research indicates that even healthy adults who have no sleep concerns are typically still sleep-deprived just enough to render their brains hyperresponsive to food cues.

So even if you feel like you’re getting by just fine on six hours of shut-eye each night, your sleep habits might be leaving you vulnerable to the allure of food.

To bolster your self-control over snack attacks, prioritise getting seven hours of sleep as a minimum, particularly during the holidays, when surprise sweets can cross your path a dozen times a day, so that extra pillow time can help you avoid packing on the pounds.

10 Spices & Herbs That Improve Your Health & Weight Loss

Spices and herbs can make the most bland and boring foods taste great.  It’s one of the best ways to enjoy foods that may be nutritious, but not so palette friendly.

Not only does it make your food taste better, but it can also help improve your overall health and enhance weight loss.

Here are 10 spices & herbs that make your food tastier while boosting your health and increasing your fat burn:

  1. Cayenne pepper adds spice to the dish, and boosts your metabolism to increase the amount of fat your body burns and improves blood flow.  This allows essential hormones and vital nutrients to be delivered throughout the body more efficiently, so your body can function better.
  2. Black pepper is similar to cayenne pepper, it helps boost your metabolism and improve digestion for effective weight loss.  It’s also shown to have anti-cancer properties, according to a study published in the January 2013 issue of the “Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry”.
  3. Ginger helps to improve digestion and suppress your appetite.  It also heats up your body which increases metabolism to help burn more calories.  Ginger also helps to remove toxins from your body, which is beneficial for weight loss since toxins are often stored within fat cells.
  4. Ginseng can boost your energy levels and speed up your metabolism.  This is a great spice to use if you’re trying increase your energy level and is why it’s often used in energy drinks.
  5. Chamomile tea is a nice way to relax at the end of the day, especially because it helps to reduce stress levels.  Drinking this tea has been shown to help minimize emotional eating at night to prevent weight gain and help you sleep better.  It has anti-inflammatory properties to help fight inflammation which is the root cause of many serious diseases and it’s high in antioxidants to help protect your body from age-accelerating free radicals.
  6. Cumin is a often combined with other spices to enhance the flavour of spicy foods, commonly used in Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s known to help boost your immune system, lower cholesterol and has a potent anti-oxidative effects to protect your body from harmful cell damaging molecules.  It’s also thought to help increase your energy levels, so you can be more active throughout the day, allowing you to burn more calories.
  7. Turmeric helps boost liver functions and balances your hormones, which in turn prevent cravings that can be brought on by hormonal imbalance.  Turmeric is also a potent antioxidant to help maintain your youthful qualities like healthy skin, better vision and strong joints.  It enhances your immune function, liver health and digestive system.  It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels which lowers insulin and helps minimizes fat storage.
  8. Cinnamon is a sweeter spice that can be added to many dishes, and it helps with weight loss because it boosts your metabolism.  Cinnamon has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, so your body can more effectively manage blood sugar levels and avoid weight gain.
  9. Mustard is another weight loss booster, because it’s packed with B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin which increases your metabolism.  In fact, some researchers have suggested that a 25% increase in metabolic rate can be achieved from one teaspoon of mustard.  It’s also high in selenium and magnesium, providing your body with anti-inflammatory properties to fight off disease and it’s a great source of antioxidants that help fight cell damaging free radicals.
  10. Cardamom is a sweet spice often used in Indian dishes.  It promotes healthy digestion and increases your metabolism to help enhance weight loss.  It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure, treat mouth ulcers, and even help with depression.  It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties to help fight inflammation and help slow the aging process as well.

Next time you prepare a dish, make sure to include one or more of these herbs and spices.  They not only make your food tastier, but it’s been shown to help improve your overall health, help slow the aging process and boost your metabolism to help you lose weight more effectively.

 

Ab Strengthening Exercises Are Better Than Situps!

Here’s why…

Most traditional ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches involve rounding and/or flexion of the spine, which is not functional, which means that it’s not the way your body was meant to naturally move.

Think about it, what movement in your daily activity requires you to round or flex your spine?

Walking, running, and even when you sit, your back is generally straight (or should be, anyway!).  And when you have to bend down to pick something up off the floor, you’d bend from your knees and flex from your hips, but your spine is supposed to stay straight.

Excessive rounding or flexing of the spine is not only non-functional, but can also cause back injuries.  Your back was simply not designed for it.  The function of your abdominal muscles or “core” is to protect your spine from excessive flexion, extension, and rotation.  Basically, the job of your core is to keep your spine as rigid as possible at all costs.

If you want to functionally strengthen your abs, it’s best to choose exercises that stimulate your abs to have to brace and protect your spine from moving.  One very effective example is the suitcase squat.  You carry a weight only in one hand (just like carrying a suitcase, hence the name) and perform a full squat.  Since you’ll be lopsided, your abdominal muscles have to work harder to keep your spine from bending over to one side.

This is a great core stimulating, functional, full-body exercise that works your entire body.  So instead of doing crunches or sit-ups next time, try the suitcase squats.  You’ll not only burn more calories with this full-body exercise, but you’ll strengthen your abs the way they were designed to function—to protect your spine.

The Magic Number of Meals a Day You Need to Lose Weight

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day? You need to eat six small meals throughout the day to stoke your metabolism ? You should fast in the morning and eat all your meals between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m?

Which option is correct?

The answer depends on you! Every body and every schedule is different.

So what can you do? Here’s how to make sense of when and how often to eat to see your best results.

The Basic Weight-Loss Formula

To lose weight you must be burning more calories than you’re taking in. Everything else is secondary to your calorie intake. You simply won’t lose weight if you’re eating a surplus of calories every day.

After calories, macronutrient breakdown  — the amount of protein, carbs and fat you eat throughout the day — is also important. As a general rule, carbs should be planned around strength workouts. Leave fats for meals further from exercise.

Choosing whole, nutrient-dense foods to make up the majority of your caloric intake is another important factor in losing weight. These will help you stay full for longer and provide your body with important vitamins and minerals.

Factor In Meal Frequency

Once you’ve prioritized total calorie intake, macronutrient breakdown and food quality, you can focus on meal frequency. While it’s not crucial to weight loss in the grand scheme of things, having a plan that keeps you satisfied all day long is one that you’re more likely to stick to.

If you:

  • Wake up ravenous
  • Have a low tolerance for hunger
  • Can’t go to bed without a late-night snack
  • Have a job that allows you to eat during the day
  • Prefer to graze or snack
  • Like knowing that your next meal isn’t too far away

Try eating four to six smaller meals throughout the day. Focus on getting protein at each meal and eating until you’re no longer hungry, but definitely not stuffed.

If you:

  • Prefer to eat a lot at a time
  • Are comfortable with both feeling full and going long periods without food
  • Don’t care too much about breakfast
  • Can’t eat during the workday

Try skipping breakfast and having one to two really big meals throughout the afternoon and evening. This is also known as intermittent fasting and may require eating slightly past full to ensure you’re reaching your body’s daily energy needs.

If you’re somewhere between the two above and:

  • Like to eat enough that you’re satisfied but not stuffed
  • Have a job that allows for a lunch break
  • Want to go several hours without thinking about food

Try sticking with the more traditional three balanced meals and maybe a snack or two during the day.

Time to Experiment

If you’re currently seeing your desired results with the number of meals you’re currently eating, there’s probably no need to make any major changes. However, if you’re not seeing results, consider trying a different eating pattern for two to four weeks to see if you feel any differently.

Use a journal or app to collect this information on a consistent basis, and then use it to make adjustments going forward.

Why Are My Joints Cracking and Popping?

Do your knees, shoulders or back start to get a little tight? Or when you move a certain way, do you hear pops and cracks from your joints?

Sometimes these sounds mean nothing, but when joint pops and crackles are accompanied by pain or swelling, it might mean something else entirely.

Why Joints Snap, Crackle and Pop

The most common joints that make sounds include the knees, ankles, knuckles, neck, hips and back and there are a few different reasons why. In order for your joints to move smoothly, your body creates a fluid that acts as a lubricant and allows your joints to move in multiple directions and rotate.

It’s called synovial fluid, and its job is to reduce friction between your cartilage and joints during any type of movement. Synovial fluid contains a mix of gases, and when a joint snaps or pops, the gases in the fluid are released and bubbles form — and that’s what causes those sounds you hear.

But that’s not all: Sometimes when a joint moves, the tendon that surrounds it may move out of place, and when that tendon shifts back into place, you’ll hear a snapping or cracking sound. If you suffer from arthritis, sounds coming from arthritic joints are often caused by the loss of cartilage, causing a roughness on the joint surface.

Can You Avoid Joint Snaps and Pops?

Depending on whether or not there’s an underlying condition, it’s best to work on improving mobility of the joints that are responsible for the snapping and popping sounds and to ensure all muscles are being used equally.

If you’ve been hearing a popping sound from your knees the muscles surrounding your knees may be tight, causing the tendons to become overstretched and pop back into place. You should incorporate exercises and stretches into your routine that will help strengthen all muscles in that area as well as other muscles that affect knee mobility and strength, including your hip flexors and IT bands.

Is It Harmful?

Yes and no. Sometimes the cracking of joints is a sign of arthritis and/or early degeneration of the joint surface.

How do you know? A clear sign that something more serious is going on within your joints is any pain, swelling, limited mobility or warmth near the area that’s cracking or popping.

Listen to Your Body

Whether you’re going for a run, lifting weights or simply walking around the office, it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you. If at any time joint noises are accompanied by pain, make an appointment with a doctor and get it checked out before it gets a chance to worsen.

3 Important Fat-Loss Questions

Fat loss is often the number one priority for many people who are trying to get in shape, but there’s a lot of confusion on exactly how to ditch that excess flab.

Here are three common fat-loss questions

1. Do I Have to Exercise to Lose Weight?

When it comes to fat loss, regardless of the type of diet you choose, calories matter – and you need to be in a calorie deficit. Burning off more calories than you take in is the cornerstone of any effective fat-loss program.

Exercise is also essential to any fat-loss program because exercise makes creating the necessary deficit easier. Theoretically, you need to create a 500 calorie per day deficit in order to lose one pound of fat per week. To accomplish this, you could cut 500 calories from your diet or you could add four exercise sessions that each burned 500 calories and then you’d just need to cut about 215 calories (the equivalent of one cup of cooked rice) per day from your diet.

As your diet progresses and you need to create a greater and greater deficit in order to keep the fat coming off, exercise becomes an even more essential tool. Exercise helps make sure that you can create the calorie deficit needed without starving yourself and forcing your body to harvest its own calorie burning resources, like muscle.

2. Does the Type of Exercise Matter?

The number of calories you burn each day consists of your base metabolic rate plus the calories you burn from daily activity and this depends on the amount of metabolically active tissue you have (the amount of stuff you have in your body that actively burns calories).

A great way to achieve this is to build (or at least protect) the muscles we have in order to maximize the number of calories we are burning each day.

A 1999 study from Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise found that when people were put on a low-calorie diet 31 percent of the weight they lost was muscle. Other participants were put on a diet combined with cardio or endurance exercise. The addition of exercise allowed this group to hold onto a little more muscle but in the end, 22 percent of their weight loss was still muscle. But the addition of weight training proved to have a profound muscle sparing effect as the final group that added weight training held onto the most muscle and only 3 percent of their weight loss was muscle.

Exercise, and specifically weight training, allows you to hold onto more muscle while dieting, thus allowing you to burn more calories.

3. What Is the Best Combination of Diet and Exercise?

We’ve established that exercise, specifically resistance training, is needed to create the easiest calorie deficits while also protecting calorie burning muscle tissue. But does weight training pair with a particular diet work better than others?

Yes.

The pairing of weight training with a low carbohydrate diet is the best way to lose the most amount of fat for your efforts. A University of Connecticut study compared low-fat diets against low carbohydrate diets when combined with weight training. After 12 weeks, the low-fat team lost an average of 7.7 pounds of body fat, but the carbohydrate team torched an average of 17 pounds.

By combining a low carbohydrate diet with 3-4 days a week of weight training, you are going to be able to elicit the greatest amount of fat loss possible while also minimizing the loss of your calorie-burning muscles.

The Benefits Of Full Body Workouts

It’s time to ditch your old-school workouts and reap the rewards of a full-body workout.  Full body workout routines will have you building muscle and burning fat in much less time.

Here’s how they work…

More than likely, you’re used to seeing people perform isolated exercises that only work one muscle at a time. Not only are these body-builder style workout routines outdated, they’re so inefficient that you’ll have to put in A LOT of hours at the gym to get great results.

Luckily there’s a much faster, more efficient way to sculpt your body, getting you lean toned all over. Full-body workouts are made up of compound exercises (a.k.a full-body exercises).  These compound movements are sometimes referred to as “multi-joint” exercises because you’re using more than one joint while performing the exercise, improving your exercise efficiency by working entire muscle groups, not just one muscle at a time.

Here are just some of the benefits of full body workout routines:

  • Maximizes Your Fat Burning Potential– With full body workouts, you won’t just burn calories during your workout session,  you’ll continue to burn calories all day long—up to 48 hours afterwards! This effect is known as “EPOC” (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) and is also called the “afterburn”.  Basically, your body goes into an energy deficit that requires more energy to be restored—and that mean more fat burning!
  • Train Less, Lose More– Working more muscles at one time means you’ll be working out at a higher intensity since more energy will be required.  So yes, you’ll be working out harder, but you’ll get out of the gym faster.  With full body workouts you’ll be working out smarter, not longer.
  • Promotes Muscular Balance & Reduces Risk of Injury– Full body exercises are functional, meaning you exercise the way your body really moves.  For example, squatting, bending over, pressing overhead are all movements we do in our everyday lives, so it makes sense to incorporate these “functional” exercises into your workouts in order to make you stronger and move better.  Working your full body this way promotes muscular symmetry, getting you strong and lean in all the right places.  Isolated exercises on the other hand can cause a muscular imbalance – and that can lead to injuries.
  • Works Your Core– Full body exercises are the real “ab” exercises.  They recruit all your stabilizer muscles to really tighten and tone your midsection including your upper and lower abdominals, and your obliques.  To top it off, full body exercises burn more fat than crunches, which means you’ll be revealing your abs sooner.
  • No Fancy Equipment Required– If you want to get lean and defined all you need are free weights.  Free weights are great because unlike machines, they don’t restrict your range of motion.  So whether you work out at a gym or at home, dumbbells or barbells (or both), and a pull up bar are all you need for a full-body fat blasting workout.
  • Great For All Ages and Fitness Levels –  Young or old, beginner or athlete, full body workouts are great for anyone who wants to improve their physique or even athletic performance.  Just be sure you learn to train with good form before increasing the amount of weights you lift.  And of course, you should always check with your doctor before starting any fitness regimen.

9 Foods To Avoid That Are High In Sugar

If you are trying to be healthy, lean and fit, you need to reduce your sugar intake. Sugar is the biggest culprit when it comes to weight gain, because of the high calorie content and the impact that sweets have on insulin (fat storing hormone) and blood sugar levels.

Sugar is also known to increase your aging process and promote inflammation in your body which has been associated with countless numbers of serious health problems including health disease, cancer and metabolic disorders.

Here is a list of so-called “healthy foods” that are laden with sugar:

  1. Low Fat Foods – The low-fat diet craze hit in the 1990s, and as a result there have been an increasing number of low-fat products. The problem is that when the fat is removed from the food, it usually doesn’t taste that great, so food manufacturers adjusted by adding more sugar. If you are buying anything with “low fat” on the label, then it’s almost guaranteed to have higher sugar content. In terms of health, it is better to choose natural ingredients with the full fat content, instead of low fat products.
  2. Breakfast Foods –Most commercial breakfast foods are filled with sugar. Even cereals that are labeled as “healthy” are usually sugar in disguise.
  3. Ketchup and Tomato Sauce – The problem is that most tomato-based foods are filled with sugar. In one tablespoon of ketchup, you are getting a full teaspoon of sugar and most people eat between three and four tablespoons at a time, which means they are getting three to four teaspoons of sugar.
  4. Salad Dressing – Many types of salad dressing contain high fructose corn syrup or some sort of sweetener. Instead of buying store-bought dressing, try making your own with avocado oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs. If you choose to buy store-bought dressing, always read the label first. Vinaigrette based dressings are usually lower in sugar than most of the other options.
  5. Meat Flavoring – We love adding flavour to our meat through condiments such as barbeque sauce and marinades, but most of these sauces have a lot of sugar added, sometimes as hidden ingredients. In fact, it is common for marinades and barbeque sauce to have high fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient!
  6. Granola Bars – Even though they might seem healthy, granola bars are usually loaded with sugar. Even protein bars with granolas, that are marketed as healthy will have added sugar in order to improve flavour. Look for common ingredients such as evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, agave, and honey, which are all sugar in disguise.
  7. Yogurt – Often considered a health food, yogurt is a big culprit for deceptive ingredients. Some types of yogurt actually have more sugar in a single serving than the amount of sugar that is in a serving of ice cream. Instead of flavoured yogurt, choose plain yogurt and mix in your own fruit instead.
  8. Coffee Drinks – Drinking sugared coffee will spike your blood sugar first thing in the morning, and set you up for a sugar crash later in the day. Order your coffee black or lattes without any sugar.
  9. Fast Food Sandwiches – When you’re in a rush, and you have to get a bite to eat, it might seem like a good idea to grab a sandwich to-go with all of the toppings, but there are many ingredients that go into fast food sandwiches that contain sugar. Often, sugar is baked into the bread, added into the meat, and the sauces are loaded with sugar.
The more processed the food is, the more likely that it will have sugar added in.  If you must have processed foods, make it a habit to read the labels on everything that you eat, so that you know each ingredient in the package.

But the best way to solve this dilemma is to eat only real whole foods.

15 Diet-Friendly Healthy Carbs

Nutritious carbohydrates contain fiber, which your digestive system works to break down before they can be absorbed. As a result, they help keep your energy, blood sugar, moods and appetite levels in check between meals.

Keep reading for a list of 15 healthy carbs that you can include in your diet.

1 Whole Grain Rice

Lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes may be as simple as swapping out white rice for brown. In a 2010 study researchers analyzed the diets, lifestyle habits and overall health of nearly 200,000 adults. Participants who ate two or more servings of brown rice per week were less likely to have diabetes risk factors compared to white rice eaters. Unlike white rice, which is stripped of valuable nutrients during processing, brown rice is a whole grain. As a rule, whole grains provide more nutrients, satiation and wellness benefits than refined grains.

2 Popcorn

Eating better doesn’t require you to permanently give up crunchy snacks, particularly if you enjoy popcorn. In a 2011 study participants who ate far-free popcorn showed significant reductions in overall dietary fat and saturated fat intake and increases in fiber intake. Popcorn provides a nutritious, whole-grain alternative to low-nutrient processed foods like crisps and pretzels. So the next time you’re itching for something crunchy, go ahead and grab some air-popped popcorn with a dash of salt.

3 Squash

Squash probably isn’t the first food that comes to mind when you think about fiber, but eating more squash provides a simple way to increase your fiber intake all year long. Fiber has a wide range of health benefits, from helping you maintain a healthy digestive system to aiding in the prevention of heart disease. Try using squash in soups, stews, casseroles and side dishes.

4 Quinoa

Quinoa is high in protein and offers higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals like iron and B vitamins and it’s a naturally gluten-free grain alternative. A 2/3-cup serving of cooked quinoa provides about 5.5 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. Plus, quinoa only requires about 20 minutes of cooking time and can be used in place of rice or couscous in most any dish.

5 Berries

Fruit not only offers nature’s finest carbohydrates, complete with a good source fiber, but also thousands of potent, health protective antioxidants and phytonutrients. Berries are particularly high in these nutrients and are considered brain food. According to a Harvard study, blueberries and strawberries help preserve brain function in women and delay memory decline by two and a half years. Enjoy berries solo or as a healthy add-in to your smoothies, whole-grain pancakes and even salads. When buying frozen berries, select varieties without added sweetener.

6 Sweet Potatoes

The compound that provides the starchy vegetable’s pigment also provides the antioxidant beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also provide rich amounts of vitamin C, which plays an important role in immune function, and valuable amounts of heart-healthy fiber. Half of a large sweet potato contains a mere 81 calories, which is way less than most sugary sweets.

7 Beans

The slow-digesting insoluble fiber abundant in beans can help lower cholesterol, keep blood sugars stable and help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. One cup of cooked white, navy or adzuki beans provides a whopping 19 grams of fiber. Lima, pinto and kidney beans each provide 16 grams of fiber per cooked cup. They’re also rich in protein and antioxidants and low in fat.

8 Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens are prime sources of beta-carotene and valuable sources of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin K and iron. One cup of cooked turnip greens, mustard greens or collard greens provides 5 grams of fiber. Cooked spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard each provide 4 grams of fiber per cup.

9 Oats

Oats have been linked with improved cholesterol levels, body weight and blood pressure. And as a fiber-rich food, oats have the added benefit of being quite filling. To make oatmeal even healthier, use low-fat milk or water instead of whole milk, and top it with fresh fruit.

10 Flaxseed

Flaxseed contains rich amounts of fiber and a gummy material called mucilage — which helps in the digestive process — and are the top plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play an important role in heart health and brain function. To reap these benefits, add ground flaxseeds to smoothies, yogurt, cereals and baked goods.

11 Mangos

With about 135 calories per fruit, mangos are high in fiber (containing nearly 4 grams of fiber per average-size fruit) and antioxidants (including vitamin C and beta-carotene). Mangos are also a cancer-fighting fruit. In a 2010 study  researchers observed the effects of mango extracts on noncancerous cells and cells associated with colon, prostate and breast cancer. They found that the extracts helped the healthy cells stay cancer free and reduced the growth of cancer cells.

12 Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta contains all nutritious parts of the original grain, making it a valuable source of B vitamins, iron, protein and fiber. One cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti provides 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. To make sure that you get truly whole wheat pasta, choose pastas labeled 100-percent whole grain, or choose pastas that list whole grains, such as whole wheat, spelt or brown rice, as the top ingredient.

13 Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce may not be what springs to mind when you think about healthy carbs, but it’s a highly nutritious source of fiber, vitamin C and lycopene. Lycopene, a potent antioxidant, is linked with a reduced risk for prostate and breast cancer. Red fruits and vegetables are also prime sources of flavonoids, which reduce inflammation.

14 Artichokes

One medium-size artichoke provides more than 10 grams of fiber, plus potassium, folate, magnesium and vitamin C. Because sweating and dehydration lower potassium levels, potassium-rich foods are particularly important in hot weather and following heavy exercise.

15 Bananas

Bananas are naturally devoid of fat and cholesterol and a valuable source of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, potassium and fiber. The electrolytes in bananas, including potassium, guard against dehydration. The 3 grams of fiber contained per serving promotes fullness, making it a useful between meal snack.

Bad Fitness Habits To Change

Check out these 14 bad habits you should avoid to get better and faster fitness results.

1: STICK WITH THE PROGRAMME

Being an exercise enthusiast is one thing, but jumping from trend to trend could mean you never stick with anything long enough to see results. If you’ve found a new activity or class you love, make a commitment to be consistent with it for at least eight weeks to give it time to take effect.

2: FAILING TO PLAN OUT YOUR WORKOUTS

Too much of one type of exercise, whether it’s weight training, yoga or boxing, can cause overuse injuries and a plateau. When this happens the body adapts to the stimulus and fails to make any further exercise gains. So instead of guessing which workout you’ll do each day, take five minutes to write out your plans for the week.

3: ZONING OUT DURING YOUR WORKOUTS

It’s one thing to stay inspired with a great workout music mix, but if you are totally distracted during your sweat sessions, you may not be making the most of your workout time. Whether you are distracted by your phone or thoughts of your to-do list, not paying attention could limit the effectiveness and actually increase your risk of injury during your workouts.

4: NOT PUSHING HARD ENOUGH (OR PUSHING TOO HARD)

When it comes to the overall intensity of your workout sessions, strive to hit a level that’s “just right” for you. Keeping your intensity too low all the time may not be enough of a stimulus to produce results, while too much intensity can lead to overtraining. The key to success is finding the right balance of both. A good rule of thumb is to work to almost your max at least two or three workouts per week.

5: HOLDING YOUR BREATH

Exercisers who lift heavy weights or are focusing intently on grasping a new movement commonly hold their breath. Breathing properly during your workouts not only helps keep your blood pressure under control, it may also make you stronger. Try exhaling during the most challenging part of your movement — when you are lifting, not lowering, the weight. Breathing properly during your workouts could mean the difference between not finishing a set and powering through that final rep.

6: SKIPPING OUT ON COOLING DOWN OR STRETCHING

If you are guilty of wrapping up your gym session and skipping out on a cool down or stretch, you could be missing out. In addition to gradually lowering your heart rate, the cool down phase of your workout is the best time to perform static stretches since the muscles are properly warmed and therefore more pliable. Stretching performed after exercise helps to improve flexibility, posture and can also help to reduce stress.

7: DOING TOO MANY ISOLATION EXERCISES

A lot of bodybuilders focus on using one part of the body at a time with muscle isolation exercises, but the body is designed to move and use multiple muscles at the same time. The body performs five basic movement patterns: the squat, lunge, pushing, pulling and rotation. Focusing your workout program around these movement patterns, versus single muscle group exercises like biceps curls can help improve overall muscular development and burn calories more efficiently, leading to quicker results.

8: STRETCHING TO WARM UP

Static stretching, holding a stretch in one position without movement, before exercise can be dangerous. Stretching muscles when they are not completely warmed up could not only lead to muscle strains and pulls, it could also limit your performance during your workout. Your best bet is an active, dynamic warm up, which is a safer, more effective way to prepare the body for activity. Movements such as doing a short series of arm circles, leg swings, squats and star jumps before a workout helps to increase body temperature, enhance joint flexibility and increase muscle elasticity.

9: EATING WHAT & WHEN?

Your overall fitness is greatly affected by both what you eat and when you eat. Did you know that consuming a healthy snack could actually help you to perform better? Studies have shown that consuming carbohydrates before doing resistance training can actually help prolong a workout and refueling post-workout helps improve muscular strength, endurance and aids in recovery too.

10: CUTTING OUT CARBS COMPLETELY

Many exercisers and dieters think that restricting carbohydrates is the best and fastest way to lose weight. The truth is, carbohydrates are needed for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, as the body uses muscle glycogen as a primary fuel source when you work out. While it may be a good idea to eliminate unhealthy sources of carbohydrates, such as refined sugars and heavily processed foods, cutting all carbs could have a noticeable, negative effect on your workouts.

11: FORGETTING TO FOCUS ON TECHNIQUE

When it comes to exercise, quality is much more important than quantity! The best way to make the most of your workouts (especially with new activities), is to schedule a session or take a class with a qualified fitness professional and take the time to learn the proper form and technique. Better to do less reps with top technique!

12: AVOIDING HEAVY WEIGHTS (FOR FEAR OF BULKING UP)

If you’ve been steering clear of lifting heavy weights for fear of bulking up, you could be falling short of your goals. This is one of the primary reasons women fail to achieve their fitness goals and their best bodies as they simply do not have high enough testosterone levels to achieve a significant amount of muscle building. Building lean muscle by lifting weight that is heavy enough to make those last few reps hard to do without losing form is essential for weight maintenance — especially as we age and lose muscle year after year. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate, which means you’ll burn more calories even at rest.

13: LIFTING WEIGHTS THAT ARE TOO HEAVY

Many men lift weights that are simply too heavy for them to handle safely. Training with a weight that is too heavy means you’ll have to use more momentum to lift it and actually decreases your muscles. That will not only dramatically decrease your results, it will also greatly increase the chance of injury. You’ll get more out of it by slightly reducing your load, focusing on your form and slowing down your movement.

14: EXERCISING DEHYDRATED

Several studies have shown that even mild dehydration, a water loss of about 2 percent, can negatively affect exercise performance, which is why it’s so crucial to make sure you are properly hydrated before and during your sweat sessions.