4 Natural Ways to Lose Weight

Weight loss is an important hot topic in popular culture. In fact, obesity has become one of the leading causes of health issues in the United States with data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showing that 2 out of 3 adults are now considered to be overweight or obese. Understanding the gravity of those statistics along with exactly what it means to be overweight is an important first step in deciding to lose weight.

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BMI (body mass index) is a system used to determine whether obesity exists. To estimate BMI, both weight and height are measured in a person and then compared with obesity and overweight ranges on a curved scale. The BMI reading for most people usually correlates with the amount of fat they have in their bodies.

Tried and true methods for losing weights have ranged from exotic diets all the way to prescribed medications and food supplements. For some people though, a more holistic approach is desirable. To that end, there are a few natural ways to start losing weight that are excellent alternative options to the more clinical methods.

Drink Water
As simple as it may sound, this is a highly effective natural solution for weight loss. Water intake is important for hydration and keeping your bodily functions running smoothly. Drinking at least 8 cups of fresh water today is advice any doctor would give someone without hesitate. Water helps to flush out impurities in the body and can also be an effective means of curbing an unruly appetite (the stomach can only hold so much at a time).

Get Adequate Sleep
While the body is at rest important functions occur which are non-existent in a waking state. Well documented studies have shown how sleep deprivation can dramatically add to weight gain. Without sleep the human body develops an increased resistance to insulin that will “age” the metabolism so that it functions much slower than it normally would. Sleep deprivation of as few as four days could lower fat cell sensitivity to insulin by an alarming 30% which was the equivalent to people with diagnosed cases of diabetes or obesity.

Garcinia Cambogia
This tropical fruit is a fast rising popular weight-loss alternative. Natural properties that seem to block the body’s ability to produce fat and curb appetites are the hallmark of its appeal. The active fat-burning ingredient in garcinia cambogia is found in the rind and is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA is responsible for blocking certain enzymes used in the production of fat and is found in many diet products available over the counter.

Develop A Personal Weight Loss System
Developing a weight loss system is a lot like developing a personal achievement system. It is a roadmap to developing good habits while also granting rewards for accomplishments. Becoming overweight and obese is sometimes genetic but is often gained through poor habits. Correcting those habits and choosing to take the first steps towards weight loss is a huge personal investment.

Self-Assess – The first step is a self-assessment. This can mean a simple look in the mirror followed by an acknowledgement of the need for change or even being proactive and asking for a BMI reading from a general practitioner or personal trainer.

Set Reasonable Goals – The hardest part about choosing to change a lifestyle is trying to do too much too soon. This approach can lead to feelings of extreme frustration and futility when unreasonable goals are not met.

Develop a Routine – Habits are formed through routine, both good and bad. To break a bad habit it is first important to realize the causes for the habit and then find a way to replace it. Eliminating habits, whether good or bad is often a practice in futility.

Track Progress – Make sure to keep a tab on accomplishments and see where they stack up to the goals that were set. This keeps accountability in the process and helps to ensure success.

3 Ways to be Happier!

Low serotonin levels are quickly becoming a health epidemic on the scale of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Modern lifestyles are to blame, and the rise of each of these diseases may share a connection. Serotonin is one of the most common chemicals in the brain, and a variety of factors cause it to increase or decrease throughout the day, as well as over longer periods.

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Most people probably experience decreased serotonin levels due to stress, fatigue and poor diet, although other medical conditions can contribute to this symptom. If you have a serious underlying medical condition preventing you from producing serotonin naturally, you should see a doctor before trying any home remedies.

If, on the other hand, your serotonin is low because of high levels of cortisol in the blood, accompanied by low levels of B vitamins, there are many treatments you can try at home to restore your energy, mood, concentration and sleep patterns and become a happier, healthier person in general.

1. Plan Outdoor Activities During the Day

No matter why you want to increase your brain’s production of serotonin, being active outside during the day has a two-fold effect. It allows you to exert yourself and elevate your mood through exercise, and it provides an opportunity to come directly in contact with natural sunlight.

Sunlight is a serotonin booster, and it’s one of the most effective natural treatments for listlessness caused by imbalances in the brain and body. It’s the best natural source of vitamin E, and doctors recommend getting 10 to 15 minutes per day of direct sun exposure without sunscreen.

Of course, you must wear sunscreen if you’re going to be outside longer than 15 minutes, but a daily 15-minute dose of direct sunlight is healthy and won’t damage your skin or increase your risk of melanoma.

However, many people experience a yearly change in mood called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can’t really be treated by going outside. SAD is a mental health condition that crops up each year when the weather gets cold and the days get shorter, and if you have low serotonin levels during this time, many doctors recommend thinking about or planning activities for warm weather, such as summer vacations, fishing, camping, hiking and so on.

It’s also necessary to eat the proper foods and, if needed, take dietary supplements to keep your brain functioning properly in the winter months and throughout the rest of the year. There are many effective supplements you can add to your diet to increase serotonin naturally, and certain foods contain chemicals that gradually put your brain back into a normal, functioning state.

Dietary methods usually take between four and six weeks to begin working, but one of the fastest-working supplements is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a chemical extracted from a common Asian fruit called garcinia cambogia.

2. Take Garcinia Cambogia Extract

Garcinia cambogia is a widespread, sour-tasting fruit found in Asia and used in many Asian dishes to add a sour, tangy flavor to sweet or hot foods. It also goes by the name garcinia gummi-gutta, and due to its stem and ribbed outer surface, it looks like a tiny, green pumpkin. The skin of this fruit has a high content of hydroxycitric acid, which is the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia extract.

The extract is convenient because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and you can buy it online in quantities large enough to last several months. In addition to increasing serotonin levels, it has been proven to aid weight loss in adults who were on high-fiber, calorie-restricted diets.

The HCA helps weight loss by preventing the body from converting carbohydrates and sugar into fat. It also stimulates the body’s natural production of neuropeptides, reducing cravings for fatty foods and safely suppressing the appetite.

Because HCA prevents carbohydrates from being turned into fat, it causes the body to burn more of its stored fat, which is another source of increased energy levels. Between elevated serotonin levels and increased metabolic function, you should start feeling better in one to two weeks.

3. Try Other Foods and Supplements

Most other dietary methods are found in protein sources, so you may want to be careful if you’re trying to lose weight. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in most meats, and its derivative, 5-HTP, both contribute to increased serotonin levels. Vitamins B-6 and B-12, commonly found in animal protein, naturally boost serotonin levels as well.

A helpful supplement to take is St. John’s Wort, which acts as a natural selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is much safer than pharmaceutical SSRIs such as Prozac. St. John’s Wort prevents serotonin from being broken down in the brain, but you should take this supplement without food so that your body can digest it.

With these effective remedies, you can get back to enjoying regular sleep, increased mental energy and maybe even lose weight in the process.

Truth about Caffeine: 5 Reasons to Avoid

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world, but its harmful effects on the mind and body are too often ignored. Today, many people use caffeine-containing products to lose weight without realizing that they may be sabotaging their efforts. Fortunately, there are caffeine-free alternatives available that actually support a healthy metabolism. Here is a deeper look at the reasons to avoid caffeine.

 

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Addictive Potential
The use of caffeine is so common that many people wouldn’t characterize their daily enjoyment of the drug as an addiction. However, caffeine has intense effects on the nervous system that affect the entire body for many hours after a single serving. Caffeine causes a flood of adrenaline and dopamine in the brain, creating excitement and pleasure. As with any other drug, caffeine use rapidly results in tolerance as the body gets used to its presence. This is essentially the definition of physical addiction, and withdrawal effects can be brutal. Regular caffeine users can expect symptoms like headache, digestive upset and sluggishness if they go even a day without caffeine, and long-term users may suffer for a week or longer after quitting.

Stress Response
The release of adrenaline caused by caffeine use places heavy stress on the body and can have a number of damaging effects. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases significantly following caffeine use and can disrupt hormones and the ability to lose weight over time. The cortisol-raising effects of caffeine are multiplied by external sources of stress, such as vigorous exercise and lack of sleep. Heart rate and blood pressure both increase with caffeine use, raising risks of heart attack and stroke. When adrenaline is released continuously over the long term, adrenal fatigue can eventually result and wreak havoc on metabolism. The physically stressful effects of caffeine are often easy to spot in the form of tremors among heavy caffeine users.

Mineral Depletion
Caffeine use has a dose-dependent diuretic effect, which means that more caffeine causes more dehydration. One might think that drinking water would resolve this issue, but the situation is complicated by the fact that electrolytes are also lost. Magnesium, a mineral important for blood sugar regulation, sleep quality and heart rhythm, is drastically depleted by caffeine. Calcium loss is also increased by caffeine consumption, reducing muscle strength and putting consumers at risk of osteoporosis. Salt and potassium, which work together to regulate heart rate and blood pressure, are also driven out by caffeine.

Mood Instability
Like any other drug, caffeine can cause mood instability in users. Many people associate caffeine with feelings of positivity and motivation, but these effects are fleeting. As the drug wears off, users may experience feelings of anger, irritability and sadness. The mood-destabilizing effects of caffeine may be partly related to the drug’s effect on blood sugar, which caffeine can raise significantly depending on the individual. Blood sugar may drop to low levels as the drug wears off, forcing users to take more caffeine in order to maintain their mood and productivity.

Poor Sleep and Inflammation
Caffeine works by binding to receptors that are designed for adenosine, a chemical messenger in the body. Adenosine is involved in both sleep and inflammation, which explains two common negative effects of caffeine. While some users may be able to avoid sleep disruption by limiting their caffeine habit to the morning, others may sleep poorly after having just a single dose early in the day. Adenosine quells inflammation, which means that blocking it with caffeine can keep injuries active for longer. In fact, a long-term caffeine habit can end up preventing users from being able to exercise by turning otherwise minor injuries into long-term problems.

Although caffeine is less likely to cause serious harm when it’s used occasionally, regular caffeine intake can have major negative effects on the lives of users. One alternative to caffeine that has emerged recently is garcinia cambogia, which increases energy by a natural route rather than through stressful stimulation. The energizing effects of garcinia cambogia are due to its ability to support the use of calories for energy while blocking appetite and improving sleep. With wise use of supplements and avoidance of the caffeine trap, it can be far easier to attain fitness, weight loss and a higher quality of life.