#411 6/7/2010 SNACKING AT WORK
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I like vending machines, because snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at the store, oftentimes I will drop it so that is achieves its maximum flavor potential.

Mitch Hedberg

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Can Zigzag Dieting Work for You?

By Steve Edwards

One of the most effective dieting techniques we've found is zigzagging. Not to be confused with yo-yo dieting, zigzag is a technique that should be used anytime you want to increase or decrease your daily caloric intake, and can be used to find out what your caloric intake should be. Instead of moving straight to a new daily caloric number, you move in smaller increments on a staggered schedule. You hear the phrase "listen to your body" all the time. Can Zigzag Dieting Work for You? actually teaches your body how to have a conversation with you.

Forks with Vegetables

Here's an example of how it works:

Say you're eating 1,500 calories a day and have been for a period of time during which you've lost weight. Now your weight loss has stagnated. This is a common scenario because the new, fitter you has a different body composition than the former you. You have more muscle and a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR). In order to continue your weight loss, you need to eat more, because 1,500 calories isn't enough—even though it once was—and now your body is reacting by slowing its metabolism and releasing cortisol in a protective response (often called starvation mode because this is how your body would respond to being starved).

It's possible this could be a lot more calories, depending on one's size. A large person who should be eating, say, 2,500 calories to maintain his or her optimal weight could lose weight by massively undereating when he or she is deconditioned. As this person's body composition changes, he or she will need more calories to continue to lose weight. So let's say this individual figures to need 2,500 calories a day.

Weight times 10, plus 10 percent to 30 percent for daily activity depending on how active you are, plus the estimated caloric burn of your exercise, or just click here to calculate your caloric needs at TeamBeachbody.com.

You don't want to jump straight to 2,500 calories. First, it would create a shock to your system, and second, it may be wrong, as those calculators only give ballpark figures. The most effective thing to do is to zigzag your caloric intake. In this instance, I would recommend eating 2,000 calories per day for 3 to 4 days a week and 1,500 calories on the other days. Then, you note how your body responds, which I would expect to be positively on the higher caloric days and by feeling famished on the low-cal days.

Man Eating Fruit SaladYou want to be energized but not hungry, so after a week or two of this, I would bump up to around 2,200 calories a day for 4 or 5 days, and 1,500 calories a day for 2 days for maybe one week. If you're still starving on the low days, try bumping them up to 2,000 calories a day and see how you respond. Use this tactic until you regulate, which means that you're energized but not hungry, and also not full. You can tell when you're eating too many calories because you'll begin to feel full, you won't digest your food between meals, and you'll feel more lethargic at the beginning of workouts.

Zigzag dieting works whether you need to reduce or increase your caloric intake, and whether you need a subtle change or a dramatic change. There is no numbers formula except to increase/decrease in small increments between 200 and 500 calories a day, and to zigzag your caloric intake 2 to 4 times per week. Then, you just listen and let your body tell you how much you should eat.

Related Articles
"A Low-Calorie Snack Survival Guide"
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Steve EdwardsQuestions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Tuesday, June 15th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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5 Ways to Beat the Worktime Snack Attack

By Omar Shamout

I recall an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm a few years back where Larry David was arguing with someone (as he's wont to do) over the proper time to eat dinner. He was adamant that dinner is traditionally eaten between the hours of 5 PM and 8 PM. Not before. Not after. Since the majority of Americans don't have the luxury of living off Seinfeld residuals, we have to go to work, and sometimes that means we can't eat at normal hours, or in any sort of regular intervals. A constantly rotating work schedule or very long shifts present a challenge to eating right, but can certainly be overcome with proper planning and a positive outlook.

Woman Holding a Spoon

Your body is a creature of habit. It gets used to routines, and the chemical processes that go on inside of it are on a set schedule. Consequently, if you do something to throw those off, like drastically altering your eating habits, it tends to react poorly. The best way to fix this is to outsmart your body, and get it on a schedule that works for the both of you.

Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. If you don't get enough sleep, you're busted no matter what. Therefore, the first order of business is to adjust your sleep schedule. Cutting out crucial hours of sleep will affect the results you see from not only your diet, but your workout as well. Not getting enough sleep is detrimental to your health and metabolism, even if you eat during "optimal" periods. Want more proof? Check out this recent newsletter article that offers a rather stark warning. (See "The Sleep Solution: 4 Ways to Get the Rest You Need to Boost Results!" in the Related Articles section below.) The point here is that if working late causes you to lose sleep, you will be doing damage to your body no matter how well you eat, and all the subsequent tips mentioned below will be for naught.
  2. Woman EatingLate-night eating. We've always heard that eating right before bed is bad because the body doesn't get a chance to burn those calories off, and instead converts the food into fat. At the same time, depriving your body of nutrients isn't healthy either, so what's the answer?

    In a recent study at Northwestern University, scientists discovered that a group of mice who were only allowed to eat a high-fat diet during an non-optimal eating period (nighttime) gained over twice as much weight as mice only allowed to eat during an optimal eating period (daytime). In other words, mice that ate before bed got fat. While researchers are as yet unable to pinpoint a single reason for this discrepancy, "the interplay between body temperature, metabolic hormones such as leptin, and the sleep-wake cycle" were determined to be the biggest contributing factors.

    So if you can avoid eating before bed, do. But if you're hard pressed, keep it small and try to space it as far away from sleep as possible.

  3. Eat moderately throughout the day. This is the best solution to avoid getting those deep hunger pangs at night when you get home, and to set your body's metabolism on an effective rhythm. This is especially true for people whose jobs force them to be immobile, and prevent them from getting enough natural exercise throughout the day to allow them to burn off a few of the calories from a heavy lunch. If you're working a double shift and find yourself awake for 20 plus hours, try taking a portion block from one of your meals and using it as a snack later on instead. If you're on your feet most of the time and have an active job, adding an extra 200 to 300 balanced calories to your diet shouldn't be a problem. Either way, try to eat every 3 hours, and avoid eating 2 to 3 hours before bed.
  4. Skipping meals is not the answer. You may be tempted to fast and skip meals altogether, reducing your daily caloric intake in the hopes that consuming fewer calories will lead to weight loss. The problem with this logic is that drastically reducing your caloric intake can also cause your body's metabolism to slow down and stop converting food into energy. In order to lose weight, your body needs fuel. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume, not simply by eating less. It may be counterintuitive, but eating less without exercising is very unhealthy, and will leave you feeling tired and listless, due to a dip in blood sugar. If you want to be super-fit and lean, you have to eat and exercise to turn your body into a fat-burning machine rather than a fat-storing machine.

    "Cyprindon" from the Beachbody® Message Boards elaborates on the potentially harmful side effects of allowing your body to become acclimated to fewer daily calories over the long term and enter what is referred to as starvation mode:

    "You are putting less calories toward body heat production and toward activity than you would at a higher calorie level. You may or may not notice that you feel colder than you did at a higher calorie intake. You may or may not notice that you simply move slower and you move less all day long through your activities. You may even be sleeping more than before. You may also be putting less calories toward egg production, immune system function, tissue repair, and other things."

  5. Woman Holding Veggies and DumbbellPlan ahead. Don't let your work schedule be an excuse for living an unhealthy lifestyle. If you know you'll be working at dinnertime, find a time to eat healthy snacks and small meals while on the job. It may be difficult at first, and you might need to try out a few schedules, but being smart and proactive will usually supply an answer. Still don't think it's possible? Take it from Beachbody Message Boards contributor "PrimaBallerina." She writes:

    "I don't get home from work until 10 or 10:30 at night. I didn't think I had the option of eating at work. I teach dance, and I have classes back to back to back. I don't even have time to go to the bathroom. I had to make time to eat. I teach ballet 95% of the time, and I teach a certain method where they do the same thing to the same music, so I take the opportunity to eat a dinner that I pack while they're doing the stuff they know well. I'm still watching and working, but I'm taking care of myself too! I agree with everybody else, pack a dinner!"

    Shakeology® is an excellent way to give your body the nutrition it needs in a quick and easy way, and is very conducive to an on-the-go lifestyle. Other quick, portable, and healthy snacks include fresh fruit, chopped-up veggies, or raw nuts.

The bottom line is that you are the only person who can take control of your health. If you're not really committed to taking the necessary steps to losing weight and getting fit, then there are any number of excuses you could make to explain why it's just not possible for you. Don't be lured by the temptation of the drive-thru, and avoid putting yourself in situations where the temptation to eat poorly is the easiest option. As soon as you start making excuses for yourself, you've lost. In truth, successful people are always the ones who persisted despite any obstacles or challenges that stood before them. Life will always get in the way, so make being healthy a necessity, not a choice. If you can schedule a time to work out every day, then you can certainly coordinate an appropriate eating schedule as well.

Related Articles
"The Sleep Solution: 4 Ways to Get the Rest You Need to Boost Results!"
"A Little Planning Can Lead to Big Weight Loss"
"6 Ways to Avoid Nighttime Snacking"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Tuesday, June 15th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Beauty Products from Target®: Can Cheaper Products Deliver Results?

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What's the number one reason you don't spend hundreds of dollars on daily personal training sessions? Perhaps your budget? Well, just as you can find incredible workouts that get results without breaking the bank, you can also find high-quality, low-priced cosmetics if you know where to look. Check out some beauty gems that rival prestige brands but cost a fraction of the price.

To view the full article, click here.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Tomato IQ!

By Elizabeth Brion

TomatoesIt's summertime! For people like me, there's no need to look for an upside—it's all good news. But even if you hate the heat and sunshine makes you snappish, surely you're at least a little optimistic about the season's glorious tomato crop. Friends have waxed rhapsodic about the joy of heading out into the garden with a salt shaker and just chowing down; I'm a city mouse myself and never had that opportunity, but my lower-Manhattan roommates and I did once hold a BYOTAS party (Bring Your Own Tomatoes and Salt, obviously). I can't imagine why that trend never caught on. Let's find out how much you know about tomatoes.

True or False?

  1. False: The largest tomato ever grown weighed nearly 5 pounds. The Guinness Book record-holder, grown by Gordon Graham of Oklahoma in 1986, actually weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
  2. True: The tomato is a vegetable. You thought you had this one, right? In a twist on the twist to this story, the biologically-a-fruit tomato was ruled to be a vegetable by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Nix v. Hedden, 1893. I'm not 100 percent sure about this, but I believe that as a U.S. citizen I am required to abide by that ruling in all public correspondence.
  3. False: The tomato loses much of its nutritional value when cooked. While this is true for many foods, the tomato's nutritional value actually increases significantly—specifically, the level of the crucial antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is fat soluble, so cooking the tomatoes with some oil will increase the nutrient's bioavailability. Don't you love when the healthiest option is also a fun option?
  4. False: The scientific name of the tomato translates to "apple of love." Close—that's its Italian name, pomodoro. Its scientific name, lycopersicum, translates to "wolf peach." Which is such a cool name I'm not sure why we don't just call it that. Want to start?
  5. True: Tomatoes were once considered poisonous. Like the rest of the nightshade family, tomatoes had a bad reputation—some other nightshades came by that rep honestly, but the tomato just has a teensy bit of poison and clearly wants to serve humankind honorably. In 1820, a gentleman named Robert Gibbon Johnson decided he'd had enough of our nonsense and stood on the courthouse steps of Salem, NJ, eating tomato after tomato without dying until the townspeople had to admit it was safe. And he did this without even the faintest possibility of YouTube® stardom. That's dedication.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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