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Blog posts tagged with 'overweight'

Why Knowing Your BMI can be the Beginning of Better Health

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Why Knowing Your BMI can be the Beginning of Better HealthBecause every person's body shape can vary in size, proportion, and weight distribution, having a particular set of measurements to calculate your ideal weight in relationship to your height can be helpful in assessing the current state of your overall health. The body mass index measurement, or BMI, can give you a specific idea of what your target weight should be. However, figuring out your BMI is only the beginning. Integrating the proper nutrition and exercise into your lifestyle - in manageable, realistic steps can help you reach your target BMI index and achieve the greater health you desire.

Your BMI and Its Importance

Your body weight is tied to many areas of overall well-being. From blood sugar to blood pressure to overall heart health—and even the internal pressure of your organs and other systems—weight is one of the single most important aspects of assessing how healthy you are. This is why the BMI can be a great tool. This formula can help determine whether your body type and size is putting you at a higher risk for serious health problems and allows you to pinpoint specific areas you need to target to set you on the path to better health.

To determine your BMI number, start with your weight (in pounds) divided by your height (in inches) squared, and multiply by 703. Once you get your BMI number you can look at the unhealthy and healthy ranges. For adults age 20 or older, if your BMI is 30 or higher, you are considered obese. BMI measurements 25-29 and beyond are categorized as "overweight", while numbers from 18.5 to 24.9 are considered "normal" weight. Anything less than 18.5 is considered to be "underweight", which also can put you at risk.

A Realistic View of Health

While it's always sensible to maintain a healthy weight for lifestyle reasons, fad diets and unattainable body images have led many astray in the process of attempting to lose weight. Health starts from within. Not everyone can or should want to look like models in TV commercials or magazines. With that in mind, knowing your BMI number and what your ideal range should be can help you set realistic goals when it comes to weight loss.

However, in addition to knowing your BMI number, you should also know what it doesn't take into account. BMI doesn't factor in age and gender, or differences between fat and muscle mass, Athletes or those with more muscles mass may have a higher BMI, but are not necessarily unhealthy. In the same respect, age and gender can skew your BMI reading. According to the CDC, women tend to have more body fat than men, on average. Also, as you get older your body tends to store more fat.

Another important factor to consider, therefore, is waist circumference. Abdominal fat has been linked to heart concerns and higher blood pressure. For women, a high waist circumference can mean anything above 35 inches, and for men, anything above 40 inches. Because each individual is different, including genetic history, nutrition, physical activity, and body type, your area of focus might not always be the same as another.

Smaller Steps to Greater Health

When targeting your ideal BMI, experts say your initial weight loss goal should be losing 10% of your total weight. It's also important to set a realistic target date; you're not going to change your lifestyle or general health in one week or even one month. True and lasting change takes time and repetition. Introducing the appropriate amount of calories into your daily diet will take trial and error. Experts suggest it can be helpful to start by eliminating one unhealthy meal or food item from your diet a time instead of trying to totally change your diet at once.

Checking with your physician to know your limits as far as physical activity is concerned is important, as is maintaining consistency. Again, smaller steps can help ease you into the lifestyle change you desire. Trying to not be inactive can be easier than trying to immediately go from not exercising to trying to exercise five days a week. Walking three times a week or small forms of aerobic exercise a few times a week is a good starting point on the road to greater well-being.

Information Equals Better Decisions

People are motivated and driven by different things when it comes to health. For some of them it's realizing that they can't perform a physical activity as easily as they once could; others see something on TV that speaks to them in a way that hits home. No matter where your motivation comes from, it's important to get all the information you can before you set out and try and enact your healthy change.

Start by seeking the proper expert advice and using the tools that are available to you—such as BMI, blood pressure, and waist circumference measurements. There are also a number of technological applications that can help you track your weight, remind you to exercise, or figure out how to properly structure your diet. All of these can be valuable resources when it comes to making the small changes that lead to a world of difference.

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Can Exercise Influence the Balance of Good Bacteria in Your Gut?

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Can Exercise Influence the Balance of Good Bacteria in Your Gut?Today more and more of what goes on in your stomach is being put under a microscope—in some cases quite literally. Gut health has been linked to many aspects of overall health, including your immune system, weight management, nutrition, and even mood. There’s much more going on in your gut than just the breaking down of food to extract the nutrients your body needs. Understanding how you can support your digestive system and your overall well-being with good bacteria can give you an added advantage to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

 

Making Way for the Good Bacteria

For most people, the mention of bacteria conjures pictures of harmful microbes that are associated with germs and sickness. However, there are actually millions of good bacteria, or probiotics, lining your colon that help your body digest nutrients. Probiotics also help battle bad bacteria that can wreak havoc on your immune system, energy levels, and overall health in general. While your diet is a large indicator of what your gut health can look like, a new study shows that even exercise can be beneficial in tipping the scales in the favor of the healthy flora your gut needs.

An Exercise in Better Gut Health

While diets can vary from person to person, researchers wanted to explore the degree to which exercise and diet in combination might be beneficial to the good bacteria count in your gut by observing several test groups. One test group consisted of rugby players due to their adherence to a more extreme diet and intense physical training. Athletes are prone to eating a more varied diet which would help enrich gut flora. The other control groups consisted of two groups of men: One group that had a normal body mass index (BMI) and engaged in periodic light exercise, while the second group were primarily sedentary and were considered overweight or obese. As one would expect, the group of athletes—due to their high level of activity and more varied diet, which included a higher protein intake—had not only more good gut bacteria, but also a variation in particular strains which has been linked to promoting healthy weight management and reduced risk of inflammation.

Food Quality Matters

Researchers and critics were quick to point out, that while these results do show a lot of promise, the link between exercise and healthy gut bacteria cannot be definitively proven from this study. Besides engaging in more physical activity, the athletes ate better-quality foods such as more fruits and vegetables compared to the sedentary test subjects who ate more snacks and processed foods. Diet, as many know, plays a major role in the health of your gut. Processed foods contain sugar, which can stimulate the growth of bad bacteria whereas fermented foods promote good bacteria growth. Health experts also caution against consuming too much protein if you aren’t a professional athlete because the metabolisms of athletes are very different from an average person’s.

Catering to Your Gut for Better Health

The study does make it clear though that sufficient levels of gut bacteria are crucial to overall health. People with more active lifestyles usually have a more varied, nutritious diet that supports healthy levels of gut bacteria, so even if the direct relationship between exercise and gut health hasn’t been established, it’s always a good idea to be physically active. Catering to your gut health with a balance of exercise, healthy eating, and probiotic supplementation is a great way to help the good bacteria in your digestive system gain the upper hand on gut health and lead to more optimal living.

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National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month – Learning the Important Factors

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National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month – Learning the Important FactorsIt's May which means it's the start of National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Blood pressure is something you should endeavor to support every day—not just when you think something might be amiss—because your heart works hard for you daily. That's why you should work to stomp out bad habits and take on healthy tips to take care of your heart function and other connected areas of health.

Blood pressure is the force of your blood as your heart pumps it through your arteries and throughout your body. The two readings that indicate the pressure of your blood flow are systolic (the top number), which measures your blood pressure when your heart beats, and diastolic (the bottom number), which measures your blood pressure when the heart is at rest. The target range for healthy blood pressure is anything at, or lower than, 120/80.

Family History

There are many factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, that you need to be aware of when focusing on maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, and in turn, a healthy heart. Some factors that are beyond your control can include race, family history, and age. For example, studies have shown that African Americans tend to be more susceptible to blood pressure concerns when compared to other races due to genetic factors. However, even if you have a family history of blood pressure concerns, there are still a number of ways you can positively influence healthy levels.

Knowing the Basic Do's and Don'ts

Some factors that are within your control include cutting back on certain foods. For example, a number of studies have proven that cutting back on sodium can have a profound positive influence on blood pressure and can help lower the risk of cardiovascular challenges by 25%–30%. The American Heart Association (AHA) currently recommends consuming less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. This can easily be accomplished by eating less processed foods, canned foods, and lunch meats, which are the main culprits behind high dietary sodium. Additionally, alcohol consumption can affect blood pressure. But it's also something within your power to control. The AHA says to limit your drink intake to no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink per day for women (1 drink serving is defined as one 12-ounce beer or 4-ounce glass of wine). Besides watching what you eat and drink, you can cut back on stress and maintain a healthy weight. Although there is no evidence to suggest that stress directly causes high blood pressure, blood pressure levels can still spike during periods of tension. Try reducing stress by going for walk, doing an activity that relaxes you, or sharing a laugh with friends. Additionally, added body mass puts extra strain on your heart, forcing it to work harder. Even losing an excess 10 lbs can make a significant difference to your blood pressure health.

Nutritional Factors of Note

When dialing back on things such as sodium and alcohol, you should also remember to increase your intake of nutritious foods. To positively influence your blood pressure it is recommended that you eat at least 8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. In particular, foods high in potassium have been shown in studies to support healthy blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables—such as kale, collards, swiss chard, and spinach—and whole grains are also rich in B vitamins that support cardio health. Choose healthier cooking options such as baking, roasting, and steaming as opposed to frying; and cut out foods containing trans fats and saturated fat. Throughout the centuries, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have catalogued hundreds of beneficial herbs and their various uses. Several of these herbs can be used to support healthy blood pressure. Chrysanthemum, for example, helps expand blood vessels to ease circulation. Senna also contains compounds that help reduce arterial plaque buildup, while Apocynum venetum has alkaloids that help promote healthy blood flow. Since you wouldn't normally find these herbs on your supermarket shelf, nutritional supplements may be the best source. Your heart works hard for you everyday, so it makes sense to kick those bad habits and positively influence your blood pressure levels. Simple tasks, such as cutting back on sodium and alcohol; reducing stress; and increasing your intake of nutritious foods and herbal supplements; are things everyone can do — starting in National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Find your healthy motivation today!


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With a Good Diet in Mind, Are You Using Calorie Counts on Menus?

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With a Good Diet in Mind, Are You Using Calorie Counts on Menus?Maybe you've seen those little number charts next to your favorite fast foods, maybe you haven’t, or maybe you've seen them, but you didn't use them to guide your decision for a less calorific meal. Most major fast food chains have them: calorie labels displayed next to meals and drinks to tell you how many calories you are getting per serving so that you can make better decisions for your diet, specifically when it comes to healthy weight management. As of 2010 it was made a law that all fast food chains or restaurants with 20 or more locations must post calorie labels on their menus. But according to a recent study, some people still don’t notice them, and many more people tend to ignore them.

The Philadelphia Experiment

In a survey conducted by Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of population health and health policy at the NYU School of Medicine, 2000 fast-food customers in Philadelphia ages 18–64 were polled on whether they noticed and then used the calorie labels on display in restaurants.

Elbel and his team collected receipts from customers frequenting two major fast food chains and asked them a series of questions, including if they noticed the calorie labels and if the labels affected their decision making when it came to meals. Simultaneously, phone surveys were also carried out throughout Philadelphia asking residents the same questions.

Missing the Markers

The results of the study show that many people are still not aware of the calorie labels in restaurants and how they can use these charts to positively influence their daily diet. Of the 2000 people polled  40% said they noticed the calorie labels while only 10% claimed that they used the labels to purchase meals with fewer calories. While the displaying of calorie labels did appear to have some impact on people’s food choices, researchers suggest that other strategies are needed to help guide people towards making wiser, healthier food choices. “Providing calorie information is not enough,” said Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University. “If we want people to use the information, we need to raise awareness about its availability and most importantly, educate about its use.”

Awareness and Choices

To effectively influence further change it is important to recognize and use the healthy tools that are available to you. Monitoring how much you eat can start with understanding your limit for daily caloric intake, obtaining the required nutrients you need from food and supplements, and getting enough daily physical activity. The average diet should consist of around 2000 calories a day (this can be higher or lower depending on gender, age, and dietary goals). How you get these calories is another matter. Calorie labels can be one of many helpful tools that are at your disposal to influence healthier eating habits, so the next time you’re dining out pay closer attention to what you’re eating because the information is there for your benefit. 

References:
https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20131115/many-people-ignore-miss-calorie-counts-on-fast-food-menus-survey?ecd=wnl_day_111913&ctr=wnl-day-111913_hdln_5&mb=
https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/average-calorie-intake-human-per-day-versus-recommendation-1867.html

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Fall Fitness Tips for Healthy Living

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Fall Fitness Tips for Healthy LivingFall is a time of year with cooler weather, a little less light, and for most, a change of colors in the scenery. When taking stock of daily fitness, many of us tend to procrastinate during the fall and winter months. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. The fall months can be an extraordinary time for setting the tone of your holiday and wintertime fitness activities. Here are some health tips to assist you in keeping in shape as the seasons turn.

Use the Weather to Your Advantage

Fall can be one of the best times of year to be outside. The temperature usually doesn’t get too cold during the afternoon and evening, so you can still plan some outdoor activities that have exercise built into them. Walking outdoors—either solo, or with a pet—can be a great form of aerobic exercise. You could also get a walking group together with friends and take a nice, leisurely stroll around the neighborhood or path of your choice.

Use Your TV Time Wisely

Fall is also the time of year when new TV shows premiere. Many people plan their weeknights around their favorite programs, but this doesn’t mean you need to drop your healthy habits. Use the hour or two in front of the TV to your benefit by practicing some stationary physical activities. Crunches, push-ups, jumping jacks, jogging in place, and even stretching exercises can be performed while you’re watching TV, helping you to make maximum use of your “couch” time. It can also provide the 30 minutes of daily exercise recommended by the American Heart Association.

Set Realistic Goals

Everyone is motivated in a different way and it’s important to maintain that motivation to help you keep up a consistent exercise routine. Whether you’re focusing on weight management, heart health, toning, or doing more serious training preparation, be sure to find your motivation and set realistic, attainable goals that galvanize your efforts.

Integrate Exercise into Your Daily Routine

Time can often be the biggest challenge when it comes to exercising consistently. But the idea of exercise can be applied to many things throughout your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator if you only need to go up a few stories, or walk instead of driving if your destination is somewhere close. Even chores such as raking leaves in the yard can be a great way to exercise when you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a particular activity.

Don’t Wait Till New Year’s to Make Healthy Lifestyle Resolutions

Fall doesn’t have to be the time of year where you start giving up the healthy habits or exercises you participated in all summer. There are plenty of creative ways to stay fit even during the change in weather. Or if you’re thinking about starting a new fitness routine, why wait until the New Year when you can start doing something now? Adapt with the changing of seasons and maintain your healthy habits all year long for a higher-quality lifestyle and better overall health.


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