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Bringing you the latest in health and fitness


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Boot-Camp Benefits


Boot-camp style training is more popular than ever with classes offered at gyms and in a wide selection of exercise DVDs for training at home. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse Exercise and Health Program, analysed the benefits of boot-camp workouts. The results showed the average exerciser burned 9.8 calories per minute – almost 400 calories during a 40 minute boot-camp video chosen for the study. For a great workout that could help break a training plateau by changing your regular routine, choose a class that combines aerobic exercise with strength movements. These classes help weight loss as well as muscle building with pushups, squat thrusts, and arm curls to provide great interval training.


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Benefits of Fasting


Many people observe fasting as a religious obligation but only few know the health benefits it has. Fasting is a good practice, if properly implemented. It promotes elimination of toxins from the body, reduces blood sugar and fat stores. It promotes healthy eating habits and boost immunity.

Fasting Promotes Weight Loss
Fasting promotes rapid weight loss. It reduces the store of fats in the body. However, fasting is not a good weight loss strategy. Reducing fat and sugar intake, and increasing fruits and rest are better measures to achieve weight reduction.

Fasting Reduces Blood Sugar
Fasting increases breakdown of glucose so that the body can get energy. It reduces production of insulin. This rests the pancreas. Glucagon is produced to facilitate the breakdown of glucose. The outcome of fasting is a reduction in blood sugar.

Fasting Promotes A Healthy Diet
It has been observed that fasting reduces cravings for processed foods. It promotes desire for natural foods, especially water and fruits. This is one way in which fasting promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Fasting Boosts Immunity
When an individual is on a balanced diet in between fasts, this can boost immunity. Elimination of toxins and reduction in fat store also helps the body. When individuals take fruits to break a fast, they increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A and E are good antioxidants readily available in fruits. They help to boost immunity.

Fasting Increases Fat Breakdown
The first response of the body to fasting is break down of glucose. When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins. This is breakdown of fat to release energy. The fats stored in the kidney and muscles are broken down to release energy.

When Not To Fast?
If you are severely underweight, diabetic, pregnant, have a serious medical condition, or recovering from surgery, then you really shouldn’t fast without first consulting your physician.


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Low-Carb Diets Take the Cake


Low-carb and low fat diets both work well for weight loss, but low-carb is better for cholesterol, especially for increasing good cholesterol, or HDH (high-density lipoprotein), at almost twice the rate of low-fat diets. Results froma two-year study show the average weight loss was the same for both diets at 15 pounds, but the HDL had a 23% increase from low-carb dieting, whereas a 12% increase occurred from low-fat dieting. The study’s authors noted that the increase of good cholesterol from the low-carb diet was similar to that obtained by takings medicine.


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Training While Glycogen Depleted Increases Fat Use


A study published in the Medicine Science of Sports and Exercise found that cyclist that trained when they had low levels of muscle glycogen increased fat use during endurance exercise. Normally, the body uses mainly carbohydrates for fuel during exercise intensities above 60% of maximum effort. However, fuel use depends on availability. The muscles will use whatever fuel is at hand. Scientists from the University of Birmingham, compared fat use during exercise in cyclists who had high or low levels of muscle glycogen. They manipulated glycogen levels by altering the training schedule. Fat use increased during periods of glycogen depletion, but power output also decreased by approximately 10%. While this was a sophisticated study, its practical application is questionable. Training while glycogen depleted is stressful and miserable, and increases the risk of injury. It is not clear whether this technique is valuable for improving exercise capacity or promoting weight loss.


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Adequate Protein Intake Preserves Muscle Mass During Weight Loss


Weight loss is extremely difficult because reduced caloric intake increases hunger sensations and slows metabolic rate. A low-calorie, mixed diet triggers protein mobilisation for fuel which results in muscle wasting. A review of the literature by Suzanne Devkota and Donald Layman, concluded that substituting protein for fat and carbohydrate in the diet reduces insulin levels, and suppresses hunger and food cravings. Protein, particularly sources high in the amino acid leucine, triggers protein synthesis and helps maintain muscle mass during periods of caloric restriction. People trying to lose weight should consume protein, particularly during breakfast and lunch. This will help curb appetite and maintain muscle mass.