Is obesity a threat to national security?

CORNELL (US) — Nearly 12 percent of women and 35 percent of men of military age are ineligible for duty because they are overweight or obese.

Almost one in four applicants to the military are rejected for being overweight or obese, according to a new study, which also finds that the military spends more on obesity than what it spends on treating tobacco- and alcohol-related illness combined. – Is obesity a threat to national security?.

Kissing (or Kicking) Unwanted Pounds Goodbye

Got some extra pounds hanging around? With the right steps, you can get rid of them and get on with a thinner, fitter life.

Pounds, pounds, go away, come again another day! If only losing weight were as easy as singing this simple rhyme over and over. Though shedding unwanted pounds is a good deal harder than that, you can do it. Do the following four action items and you’ll get rid of those unwanted and unsightly pounds faster than you can say fad diet.

Don’t Binge

You’ve had a rough day and the only thing that could possibly help you feel better is a tub of ice cream. Or so you think. In actuality, gorging yourself on super double chocolate chip ice cream isn’t going to do you any good right now or in the future. If you want to get rid of weight, you’re going to have to learn self-control. When you’re by yourself and feel hungry for something unhealthy, find something else to do. Pick up a good book, call a friend, or drink a glass of water. If you’re especially intent on losing weight (which you must be if you’re reading this article), follow the next tip.

Be Exercise Minded

In the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to eat whatever you want whenever you want. Learn to identify what causes you to want to eat unhealthy foods or unhealthy amounts of food. Then, begin to modify your behavior when you come face to face with the trigger. If coming home from work is usually followed by an hour on the couch, bonbons in hand, redesign your post-work routine around exercise. When you first get home, don’t hit the couch. Hit the closet for a change of clothes, and then get to the gym or go for a walk around the neighborhood. Changing your mindset takes time and dedication, but putting exercise first on your to-do list is vital to taking off excess pounds.

Deny the Treats

Many dieters feel they’re obliged to a cake or cookie now and then to celebrate their small victories. Unfortunately, this good idea can often become a trap, as the treats become more and more common. Just remember that every time you’re offered a special treat, you have the option of accepting or denying the offer. Force yourself to say “No” 10 times more often than you say “Yes,” and the special treat will actually be a special treat instead of an everyday necessity. By doing this, you’ll also watch your weight slowly and steadily decrease.

Sweat It Off

For the best chance at losing weight, you’re going to have to sweat. While a quick set of push-ups during lunch break will help your body a little bit, you’re not going to get the results you seek without making yourself sweat. No matter if you choose to walk or run for miles on end, participate in a local spin class, join a kickboxing class, or work out with free weights or elliptical machines, you need to sweat. If your workout leaves you dry, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough to lose weight. Increase your workout intensity and prepare to become the thinner, healthier you that you’ve always wanted to be.

Something Extra Needed

If you’ve been working to stay fit and eat healthily but you just can’t seem to get rid of extra pounds, it may be time to stop going at it alone. Instead, contact your physician, dietitian, and personal trainer to find out what specific steps you can take to begin dropping unwanted extra pounds from your body.

In the event you’ve never interacted with a personal trainer, be ready for the shock of your exercising lifetime! It is your personal trainer’s job to make sure you work harder than you’ve ever worked in the gym. Follow your personal trainer’s rigorous recommendations to the letter, and you’ll be utterly exhausted. Of course, you’ll also be on your way to losing the extra pounds you’ve picked up over the years, and shedding pounds is well worth a little sweat and soreness – right?

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Obesity: Nature Vs. Nurture

Are there answers to the great obesity debate?

For a long time, there was no question regarding the cause of obesity. It was accepted that people who did not watch what they eat and never got physical exercise were putting themselves at great risk for becoming overweight or obese. And then medical science stepped in, evaluated the various cause of obesity, and found that some people may be genetically disposed to becoming overweight or obese.

So what is the real answer? Is obesity brought on by genetics or what the individual eats and how much exercise he or she gets?


Much ado has been made recently over the finding of what has been politically incorrectly named the “Fat Gene.” Supposed to indicate an individual’s likelihood to wind up obese, the fat gene is at once a major scientific breakthrough and the cause of heartbreak for everyone found to have inherited this seeming inescapable fate of obesity.

However, this new finding isn’t the only known reason for an individual becoming obese. There are a handful of other conditions that normally lead to an individual gaining weight, often to the point of obesity. One of the most common is hypothyroidism. When the thyroid gland in your neck isn’t working properly, your body doesn’t make enough of a chemical that helps control the amount of energy it uses. As a result, you don’t burn enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, making it easy to become overweight or obese.


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity comes down to a simple formula: bringing more energy into your body than you’re burning off over a long period of time. So when you eat more calories than you burn off during the course of a single day, you may not wind up gaining weight. But do this day after day, month after month, year after year, and you will be on the path to weight gain and potentially obesity. Work hard to burn more calories than you eat, and you should be able to maintain a healthy weight.

Regardless of any conditions that may make someone predisposed to weight gain, with enough work, many are able to maintain control of their weight. In fact, research has found that even individuals with the fat gene are given the upper hand against obesity if they’re willing to spend 60 minutes a day exercising, and medication for hypothyroidism helps improve the condition and make exercise more effective.

Together at Last

Though nature and nurture put an individual at risk for becoming obese, the combination is a guaranteed recipe for obesity. So if you find yourself living with a condition that puts you at risk for obesity, the fastest way to gain weight is to ignore your condition, eat whatever you want (whenever you want), and never exercise.

Other Gaining Conditions

In addition to hypothyroidism and the “fat gene,” the following conditions have also been linked to obesity:

  • Brain tumor – specifically, a brain tumor in the part of the brain responsible for controlling your appetite or how much energy your body uses.
  • Cushing’s syndrome – this is the name for a condition that causes the body to make too any chemicals that are in control of your body’s use of sugars and fats.
  • Insulinoma – occurs when a pancreatic tumor causes the pancreas to create excessive amounts of insulin, a process that results in more sugar being turned to fat.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome – caused by the growth of cysts in the ovaries, this condition results in women not ovulating on schedule. Whereas the other conditions listed are clearly linked to obesity, researchers are unsure whether this comes first or whether it is caused by obesity.
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Exercise for Big Bodies

How you can begin living a healthy life with a few simple exercises.

Whether you inherited your weight problem, suffered a life-altering injury that caused you to be immobile for a long period or time, or have just made bad dietary choices, there is no time for self-pity if you’re going to overcome a weight issue. What can you do when your weight prevents you from fitting on an exercise machine; causes knee, joint or heart problems; or makes you feel too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit? Swallow your pride and get to work. And it is very hard work.

If you think you’ve got the resolve to do what it takes to shave some pounds off, read on to find out how you can get started.

The place to start is your doctor’s office. Have your physician check on any current health conditions that are affecting you. Also, going to the doctor will allow you to get a baseline on your heart rate and overall health, which will make it easier to work with your physician to monitor your progress along the way. The key to any weight-loss routine is to find an exercise you can enjoy doing and to start out slowly. Ask your physician for recommendations of good exercises, and give them a shot. If you find them too repetitive and boring or a little more difficult than you expected, try something different. Gradually, smartly increase the time you spend at it as well as the intensity of your exercise.

For those who may be severely obese, the exercises to get you on your way would be simple leg lifts, arm raises, or bending and leaning over, which can be done while sitting. These movements provide the muscle strength necessary for future exercises and will minimize your risk of injury. As you go through each day, look for ways to add more movement and exercise. Make it a part of your daily life.

A great form of exercise for anyone is walking. The more steps you take, the better you’ll feel. Even walking from one end of the house to the other is helpful. When walking, start off slow and only go short distances. Each day try to go a little farther but do not overdo it. If needed, take frequent breaks and don’t walk so far that it will be hard to make it back to your starting point. No matter where you’re walking, be sure to wear good walking shoes and drink enough water along the way. Doing these easy steps will keep your body ready for the next walk around the block.

For those who are able to wear a bathing suit and have access to a body of water, swimming is a wonderful form of exercise if you’re obese. As the water supports your body and therefore does not put the usual strain on your bones and joints, swimming makes it possible to move your body with greater ease, which increases your strength, stamina, flexibility, and range of motion. With these improvements in tact, performing other exercises on the ground will become easier as well.

No matter how much you weigh, what you may need most is accountability and encouragement along the way. If possible, a personal trainer is a great way to stay on track and stay safe along the way. A close friend can also help keep you accountable or tag along for your regular workouts. Joining a support group may be a good option for some. With any exercise program, remember that the gym isn’t the only step to losing weight. You should also eat a healthy diet. Not only will healthy, low fat foods help you lose weight, but they will also give you the energy you need to do the exercises that do the body good.

Understanding Obesity

As the weight of the average American has been increasing during the past decades, health professionals have claimed America to be suffering an “obesity epidemic.” How do you know if you’re overweight or obese? First, you have to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

To do this, multiply your weight in pounds times 703. Next, figure out how tall you are in inches, and square this number. Finally, divide the first number by the second. The answer is your BMI.

A BMI below 18.5 means you’re underweight, between 18.5 and 24.9 is a healthy weight, 25-29.9 is overweight, and 30 and above is obese.

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Diet Tips: Diet Soda Will Make You Gain Weight!

I asked  Az Ferguson co-author of the Game On! Diet “what’s better for you a regular pepsi or diet” his response ” it depends if you want to get hit in the head with a hammer or a baseballl bat”

… ouch! Water is always the best choice but if you find yourself in a situation where it’s between diet and regular always opt for the non diet product.

Stay Awesome!

How Fit Are You?

BodyExactly how fit are you? It’s an intriguing question. Many people over and under estimate their own fitness. Often, the fitter people get, the more critical they are of their own fitness. The ways of measuring your fitness is almost as varied as the ways you can get fit. So how do we find out how fit we are?

Measuring your fitness is important for a few reasons. Knowing your current fitness level will enable you to make clear goals for your workout program. You’ll be able to measure your fitness after some time, and see how far you’ve progressed. This will help to maintain your motivation. Finally, it’s important to know your fitness level so that you can choose the most appropriate exercise and strength training for your body.

There are four primary components of fitness that you can measure. The first is aerobic fitness. This is your endurance level, and it is dependent upon your age, gender, and improves with proper training. Aerobic fitness is directly related to the proportion of your bodyweight that is free of fat. Your level of aerobic fitness implies a level of health, and thus is a very important measurement.

Aerobic movement requires the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. Oxygen is delivered to the muscles via your bloodstream. Therefore, each heartbeat you have is an indicator of the amount of blood traveling through your bloodstream. So one way to measure your aerobic fitness is to take your heart rate, or pulse. Record your resting pulse rate, and then go for a one-mile brisk walk. Take your pulse again once you’ve immediately finished the mile, and record how long it took you to walk. As you gain aerobic fitness, your heart rate should lower. So should the time it takes you to walk the mile! The average resting heart rate for an adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). Truly fit individuals can have a resting heart rate of 40bpm!

The second measurement is muscular fitness. This relates to your strength, and the endurance of that strength. Your muscular fitness can show how susceptible you are to injury. It also relates to your bone mass. A very simple way of testing your muscular fitness is with push-ups. You can time yourself, and see how many you do in that timeframe. Or, you can just complete as many push-ups as possible before fatigue sets in.

The third measurement is flexibility. This is your body’s ability to move joints and muscles through a full range of motion. It can also relate to your balance and coordination levels. A tight muscle can prevent normal movement. The most common way to measure your flexibility is via the dreaded sit and reach test. With this test, you’ll need a measuring tape. Place the measuring tape along the floor. With your feet at zero, and the tape stretching away from you, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Try to touch your feet or stretch as far past your feet as possible. Have a friend check how far you went on the measuring tape. If you can’t reach your toes, you’ll have a negative number. If you stretch past your feet, you’ll have a positive number. Obviously, the more flexible your legs, hips, and lower back are, the further you will be able to reach in this test. One problem, though, is that your flexibility in each joint is independent of your other joints. Therefore, you may have very flexible shoulder joints, but terribly tight hamstrings.

The fourth measurement is your body composition. This tends to relate to the amount of fat on your body, and where that fat is located. The location of fat at specific sites (in particular, the waist area) places you at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. A simple way of measuring your body composition is via your body mass index (BMI). This is your body weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of your height (in meters). For example, if your weight is 61 kilograms, and your height is 1.69 meters, then your BMI calculation would be

(1.69 x 1.69)

That’s a BMI of 21.36. There are also charts that allow you to look up your BMI based on your height and weight. The range for a normal BMI is 18.5 – 25. You will fall into the overweight range if your BMI is anywhere between 25 – 30. Obese is anything greater than 30. Underweight is anything under 18.5.

Another important body composition test is to measure your waist. Anything larger than 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women increases your health risks. This is particularly important to take notice of if your BMI is larger than 25.

So how fit are you? But more importantly, how fit do you intend to be? Set your goals, work your program, and watch as those numbers go down, down, down.

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REAL Slimming Secrets from the Supermarket Part 2


REAL Slimming Secrets from the Supermarket:
Part 2

In part 1 of this series we revealed four slimming secrets available from your supermarket -coffee, hot red pepper, cinnamon and green tea- and their calorie-burning effects. Along the way, we learned that increasing your calorie-burning rate is the first step towards achieving negative fat balance, a metabolic state of affairs in which your body is burning more fat than it’s storing, and without which, fat loss is impossible. In this report we discuss how practical it actually is to use the “Top Four” to help you get you into negative fat balance and see the fat pounds come off.

Studies have made it fairly clear that taking caffeine can increase your calorie-burning rate. But can drinking coffee have the same effect? For help in answering this question, we reached out to Dr. Abdul Dulloo (Ph.D.), a lecturer and research fellow in the Department of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He states1 “There have been a couple of studies that have compared coffee with its equivalent in caffeine on metabolic rate. No differences have been found, suggesting that the thermogenic effect of coffee (as assessed at rest) is explained essentially by its caffeine content.”

Dulloo’s own studies suggest, however, that one cup may not be enough to produce fat loss, even if repeated long term. Recall from part 1 that when he and his colleagues2 gave subjects a single 100-mg dose of caffeine (equivalent to ~1.2 cups of coffee), their calorie-burning rate rose up to 4% for 2.5 hours. Anything less than 100 mg, the scientists felt, was unlikely to produce a demonstrable thermogenic effect. *
Let’s put these numbers into perspective. For the sake of example, assume that at rest you normally burn 1500 Calories a day. This is your resting metabolic rate. Thus, a 4% increase sustained over 2.5 hours equates to burning an additional 6.25 Calories, roughly the caloric content of a tablespoon of nonfat milk. Not impressed? You’re shouldn’t be.
In the same study, Dulloo and his colleagues tried stepping things up by giving subjects 100 mg of caffeine every 2 hours for 12 hours (600 mg total). The result? Their calorie-burning rate increased 8-11% over the same time frame. Continuing with our example, this would equate to burning an extra 60-83 Calories a day, or about half a glass of Merlot. While this is considerably more impressive, remember that 600 mg of caffeine corresponds to about 7 cups of coffee.
Even if you have a coffee habit like Hugo Chavez, some scientists suggest that you might not experience the same effects as you would by taking the equivalent amount of caffeine. Nishijima et al.3 relate:

“It needs to be pointed out that the common belief that caffeine and coffee consumption might have very similar physiological effects is not the case. Graham et al. (1998) have shown that the same dose of caffeine, either ingested in a capsule as in the present study, or in coffee resulted in different plasma adrenaline concentrations, i.e. being significantly higher after taking the caffeine capsules. These findings suggest that one cannot extrapolate the effects of caffeine to coffee; there must be something in coffee that moderates the effects of caffeine.”

Whether coffee can produce the same calorie-burning effect as has been repeatedly demonstrated for caffeine or not, it’s safe to say that many of us would prefer not to consume large quantities of either. The more practical, if not effective, approach may be to consume enough pure caffeine to provide a modest calorie-burning boost in combination with other ingredients that can safely elevate it further –a “team” approach, if you will. After all, if you were to burn an extra 83 Calories a day and do nothing else, it would take nearly a month and a half to lose one pound of body fat. Double this figure, however, and it would take only 20 days.
*[NOTE: Individual responses to caffeine can vary markedly. Also, more recent studies have found that doses less than 100 mg can produce modest thermogenic effects. For instance, in a double-blind study, Belza et al.4 gave young normal-weight men 50 mg of caffeine. Over the next 4 hours they burned roughly 17 more Calories (a 6% increase) than subjects taking a placebo.]

Hot Red Pepper
One of the ingredients to consider combining with caffeine is capsaicin, the compound responsible for the painful punch of hot red peppers. While it may not be at the top of your grocery list, it’s possible to consume enough of capsaicin from your diet to raise your calorie-burning rate, says Dr. Toshio Moritani (Ph.D.)5, a professor and director of the Laboratory of Applied Physiology at Kyoto University in Japan. He suggests adding chili pepper to curried rice.
Moritani and his colleagues have reported on the calorie-burning effects of capsaicin in several studies, one of which we discussed in part 1. In it, female subjects who received a curried rice meal containing 3 mg of capsaicin experienced a 10% increase in their calorie-burning rate. While this would equate to burning an additional 129 Calories a day if the effect were sustained for 24 hours, it was only measured for 30 minutes. Moritani relates “the expected increase in energy metabolism [calorie burning] is rather minimal such that only 10 to 20 Calories might be generated. It will take a year to lose 1 kg [2.2 lb] of body fat!”

Dr. Anita Belza, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen, concurs6:

“The capsaicin concentration varies widely in the different chili fruits (0-13 mg/kg). Studies have been able to serve a palatable test meal with approximately 30 g of red pepper (3 mg capsaicin/g red pepper –Yoshiioka et al., Br J Nutr, 2001) to Western subjects 3 times a day. However, we have only worked with capsaicin in tablet form and in lower dosage but probably a more pure form. I think it will probably be quite difficult for a Western population to eat a dosage of capsaicin from food items to obtain a fat-reducing effect.”

As with caffeine, what Drs. Moritani and Belza are suggesting, in other words, is that you may need to consume larger amounts of capsaicin throughout the day before you see fat loss, amounts that may be intolerably difficult to obtain by adding hot red pepper to your meals. Like many things in life, these larger amounts bring with them a greater risk of undesirable side effects. Dr. Jose Galgani (Ph.D.), an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Chile, says7 that subjects have been known to drop out of capsaicin studies because of its pungency. In large quantities it can cause stomach discomfort.
Once again the more sensible approach may be to consume enough capsaicin to achieve a modest calorie-burning effect in combination with other natural ingredients capable of doing the same.
The good news is that although capsaicin appears to work by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, it doesn’t produce the undesirable side effects associated with sympathetic stimulants such as ephedrine. Dr. Moritani explains5:

“With the amount of capsaicin commonly taken as part of diet, no adverse effects on sympathetic overreaction nor ECG [cardiac] abnormality have been reported.  Actually menopausal women with depressed autonomic nervous system could enhance sympatho-vagal functions and might be able to prevent obesity. [Low sympathetic nervous system activity has been suggested to be a risk factor for future weight gain and obesity.] Incidentally, caffeine could increase both sympathetic and parasympathetic activities without any adverse effects on cardiac functions.”

In part 1 we referred to research showing that cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and blood glucose regulation even in lean, healthy subjects. Greater insulin sensitivity, in turn, may have metabolic effects leading to lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, for instance. While this is important, what we’re focusing on here is fat loss. That’s why it was encouraging to hear USDA scientist and well-published cinnamon researcher Dr. Richard Anderson (Ph.D.) tell us8 about the study conducted by he and his colleagues that demonstrated reductions in body fat in subjects given a cinnamon extract for 12 weeks. The subjects received 2 capsules twice each day (at breakfast and dinner) providing a total of 500 mg of extract equivalent to approximately 10 g (1.5 tablespoons) of whole cinnamon powder.

Ten grams of cinnamon is not a quantity ordinarily used in food. While Anderson tells8 us it may be possible to get enough cinnamon from the diet to lose body fat and even increase lean body mass (something he observed in his study), he warns that “when consuming high amounts of polyphenols in the diet the salivary glands produce a protein that binds and minimizes their effects.” This is important, since the polyphenols in cinnamon are thought to be responsible for its beneficial effects. In other words, ingesting it in the protected form of a capsule may be the better way to go.
Dr. Andrew Blannin (Ph.D.), a lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham, has also conducted studies on cinnamon. He also feels that it would be extremely hard to eat enough cinnamon to produce improvements in insulin sensitivity without using a supplement.9
Green Tea
In their recent review of research supporting the use of green tea in the treatment of obesity10, Drs. Kimberly Grove (Ph.D.) and Joshua Lambert (Ph.D.) in the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University remark that a typical cup of brewed green tea contains 240-320 mg of catechins, yielding 30-50% (72-160 mg) of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the catechin thought to contribute to green tea’s valuable calorie-burning effects.

In Dulloo et al.’s frequently-cited study11 performed in 1999, subjects received 2 capsules of green tea extract with each of three meals, providing a total of 270 mg of EGCG, equivalent to about 3-4 cups of brewed green tea1. Six out of ten subjects receiving the extract experienced an increase in their 24-hour calorie-burning rate ranging from 63.5-200 Calories, with the average being about 78.3 Calories. This is an impressive figure, comparable to the number of Calories someone might burn by running on a treadmill at a high speed (>9 mph) for around 4 minutes.

We don’t need a scientist to tell us that it’s possible to consume 3-4 cups of brewed green tea every day, or that doing so may eventually become tiresome. That being said, burning an extra 78.3 Calories a day is nothing to scoff at. And while canned or bottled tea drinks may sound like a more appealing alternative, these have been found to contain considerably smaller levels of EGCG than expected due to loss during manufacturing (e.g. high-temperature sterilization) and/or storage12.
Also keep in mind that black tea contains very little in the way of catechins, whereas oolong tea contains moderate amounts. Green tea has the highest level of catechins and EGCG in particular.
The “Team Approach”
The studies discussed in parts 1 and 2 of this series of reports provide powerful evidence that certain key ingredients in coffee, hot red pepper, cinnamon and green tea have valuable calorie-burning effects. In order to experience fat loss, however, you may need to consume fairly large quantities of any single ingredient. How many of us are willing to drink 3-4 cups of green tea, add hot red peppers to every meal and cough down 10 g of cinnamon powder in a single day, all followed by a chaser of 2-4 cups of coffee? In the final report in this series we’ll discuss a much more palatable and convenient solution that you won’t want to miss.
1. Dulloo (2010). Personal communication.
2. Dulloo et al. (1989). Am J Clin Nutr 49:44.
3. Nishijima et al. (2002). Eur J Appl Physiol, 87: 475.
4. Belza et al. (2009). Eur J Clin Nutr, 63: 57.
5. Moritani (2010). Personal communication.
6. Belza (2010). Personal communication.
7. Galgani (2010). Personal communication.
8. Anderson (2010). Personal communication.
9. Blannin (2010). Personal communication.
10. Grove and Lambert (2010). J Nutr 140(3): 446.
11. Dulloo et al. (1999). Am J Clin Nutr 70: 1040.
12. Chen et al. (2001).  J Agric Food Chem, 49: 477.

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4 Very Unusual Metabolism Boosters

REAL Slimming Secrets from the Supermarket:
“The Top 4”

This “negative” can be very positive.
Most of us don’t just want to lose “weight”. We want to lose body fat. This is what really concerns us, cosmetically speaking, at least.

Body fat, referred to by scientists as adipose tissue, is the stuff that can hide shapely, defined muscles from view, make your bikini fit awkwardly (or not at all), put rolls on your belly, and so on. To lose body fat and prevent it from finding you again, you must burn more of it than you store. When you achieve this scientists say you are in negative fat balance, and it can be a very positive thing. Indeed, if you stay in negative fat balance long enough, then you will unquestionably lose body fat.

The supermarket is a great place to go for things that can increase body fat. But it’s also home to some of nature’s most powerful tools for helping you lose it. In this exclusive report we reveal 4 natural “slimming secrets” that can immediately increase your calorie-burning rate, the first and most critical step toward achieving a negative fat balance and fitting into your swimsuit properly again.

1.   Coffee (caffeine)
While the proportions may shift from moment to moment, your body always burns a mixture of three fuels: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Thus, if you increase your overall calorie-burning rate (a.k.a. metabolic rate), it’s pretty much guaranteed that your fat-burning rate will go up, bringing you that much closer to the negative fat balance territory where real slimming occurs.

About 75% of the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee, a product that no supermarket can be considered complete without. Caffeine is recognized worldwide for its ability to enhance alertness and performance. However, it also displays fast-acting calorie-burning properties. For instance, a study involving lean and overweight (obese) subjects reported that a single 100-mg dose of caffeine (equivalent to a little over 1 cup of coffee) was enough to raise their calorie-burning rate by up to 4% for 2.5 hours.

While a 4% increase may not seem like a big deal, it can turn into one. The scientists who conducted the study explain, “…if it is assumed that there is no compensatory increase in food intake, the increase [in calorie-burning rate] after caffeine would represent an energy deficit of 75-110 kcal/day. These changes may be small but over several months could accumulate and lead to substantial changes in body weight.”

But wait. Regular coffee drinkers know all too well that you can become tolerant to its energizing effects over time. Won’t the same thing happen here? Fortunately, evidence suggests that caffeine’s calorie-burning effects persist with repeated exposure. Case in point: The subjects in the above study were all mild to moderate consumers of caffeine, consuming anywhere from 250-500 mg per day, equivalent to ~3-6 cups of coffee. Yet they all enjoyed a calorie-burning boost from the relatively small dose given to them.

2.   Hot Pepper (capsaicin)
The waiter places a delicious meal in front of you that includes a spicy curry sauce. You devour it. For the next 30 minutes your calorie-burning rate is cruises at 10% above baseline, equivalent to burning an additional 129 Calories per day, or 27% of the caloric value of the entire meal. Sounds too good to be true? This fictitious scenario became a reality at Kyoto University in Japan when scientists gave young women a 481-Calorie meal consisting of a yellow curry sauce containing 3 mg of capsaicin.

Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the sharp, and for some of us, intolerably painful, sensation produced by eating hot red peppers. It’s also to blame for the beads of sweat that appear on your forehead as you do so. Thus, it may come as no surprise to learn that deep inside the body capsaicin can increase your calorie-burning rate by stimulating a process known as thermogenesis. Thermogenesis essentially involves the release of calories in the form of heat. Once released, they can no longer be stored as body fat. In addition to increasing thermogenesis, capsaicin has been found to improve meal satiety (i.e. how full you feel after eating), thereby reducing your risk of overeating. In animal studies it has been reported to increase calorie-burning rate and reduce body fat.

Of course, the single most powerful way to increase your calorie-burning rate and get into negative fat balance is to exercise. Here, too, capsaicin may boost your slimming efforts. When scientists gave healthy subjects capsaicin an hour before performing low-intensity exercise (stationary cycling), they burned more fat. The increase was impressive enough that the scientists suggested capsaicin be used as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of elevated blood lipid levels and/or obesity.

3.   Cinnamon
Cinnamon often serves as a flavorful addition to carbohydrate-rich meals. How great is it, then, to learn that it may help “push” more of those carbohydrates into lean muscle and away from fat cells (adipose tissue)?
Most of the carbohydrate calories you eat are eventually converted into glucose (a.k.a. blood sugar). The hormone insulin helps direct glucose into your body’s cells, including muscle cells. The more sensitive your muscle cells are to insulin, the more efficiently they can scoop up glucose and store it for later use, such as providing your muscles with energy during exercise. All other things held constant, this leaves less glucose available for your fat cells, which might otherwise use it to make body fat.

Of the many plants studied to date, cinnamon has been reported to be among the most powerful in terms of its ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and keep blood glucose levels in check. When added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, it reduces the rise in blood glucose normally experienced afterwards. While the effects on insulin sensitivity may take a couple of weeks to manifest, the improvements in blood glucose control appear virtually immediately.

So cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity and improves blood glucose regulation. Great. However, does this mean it can help you lose body fat more quickly? In fact, this ancient spice might help you do more than that. Dr Richard Anderson (Ph.D.) at the US Department of Agriculture has conducted numerous studies on cinnamon.  He says that if cinnamon is consumed long-term, it can enhance lean body mass (this includes muscle) and reduce body fat, something he and his scientific colleagues demonstrated in a study performed in 2006.

4.   Green Tea
White, green and black varieties of tea all contain caffeine (anywhere from ~14-61 mg per 6-8 oz serving). But it’s green tea that seems to get the most attention from scientists when it comes to burning fat. And its fat-burning effects are due to more than its caffeine content.

In one frequently cited study, healthy young men were given a green tea extract three times per day. Their 24-hour calorie-burning rate was 3.5% higher than that of subjects taking a placebo. This was equivalent to burning an additional 200 Calories per day -more than enough to eventually produce substantial weight loss and reductions in body fat.

Not only did green tea cause the subjects to burn more calories, but a larger proportion of the calories burned were determined by the scientists to have come from fat. That is, green tea was pushing them closer towards negative fat balance territory, if not pushing them right into it. Based on the scientists’ comments (they used the term “remarkable” to describe green tea’s effects), they seemed to be quite impressed. Indeed, green tea’s thermogenic effects in this study were as powerful as much larger doses of caffeine.

Summary: The “Top 4” REAL Slimming Secrets

Nothing worthwhile comes without  hard work, and that includes building a swimsuit-ready body. That’s why it’s important to make use of whatever tools nature has available to help you safely and effectively lose body fat and avoid regaining it. There may be more “slimming secrets” out there waiting to be discovered, but the top 4 revealed here –coffee (caffeine), hot red pepper (capsaicin), cinnamon and green tea are among the most powerful studied to date. Individually, their calorie-burning effects are virtually immediate. Combined, they may greatly simplify even the most formidable of fat loss challenges.

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Ziegenfuss et al. (2006). J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 3:45. Dr. Anderson’s comments were provided during personal communications conducted in March 2010.

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