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Flipping The Fat-Burn Switch

Flipping The Fat-Burn Switch

It is important to include a couple of cheat meals every week to help you keep from feeling deprived.

If you are having success right now, you may be tempted to skip your cheat meals entirely. You might be thinking "maybe I'll just skip the cheat meal because it's a step backwards anyway."

Cheat meals can actually help your progress, by giving you the psychological benefit of rewarding yourself as well as stimulating fat-burning hormones. If you skip out on them, you may find that sticking with your diet could become harder and harder over time.

Fighting Nighttime Cravings

Fighting Nighttime Cravings

Cravings, especially late at night, can be triggered by behaviors such as watching television, especially if you've made a habit of munching while watching TV in the past.

The first thing to do is to put your craving in perspective. If you're just craving something:

  • Eat some hot air popcorn - not the microwave variety that is usually loaded with fat (remember to read the labels!) Choose plain popcorn and pop it in a hot air popping machine.



  • Rice cakes are also a good alternative, and are relatively low in calories.



  • A small protein drink is an excellent choice as well. Mix the protein powder with water, not milk.



  • If you don't want to fuss around with making a shake, try a zero-sugar, ready-to-drink Lean Body shake.


What To Eat After You Work Out

What to Eat After You Work OutRefuel and Recover with a Post-Workout Meal or Snack-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness Expert Email Print   Everyone knows that athletes must plan and time their meals and snacks very carefully to reach their performance goals. But what about the rest of us? You try to squeeze in 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Do you have to be careful about what you eat before and after your workouts, too?

If you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough calories to support your activity level, you can probably rely on your own appetite, energy levels, and experience to tell you whether you need to eat anything before or after exercise and what it should be. The basic rule here is: Find out what works best for you, and do that.

There are some advantages to knowing how your body works and what it needs to perform at its best. The bottom line for healthy weight loss and fitness sounds simple: You have to eat fewer calories than you use up — but not fewer than your body needs to function at its best.

The size, timing, and content of your pre- and post-exercise meals and snacks can play an important role in your energy levels during your workout, how well your body recovers and rebuilds after your workout, and whether the calories you eat will be used as fuel or stored as fat. Here’s what you need to eat and drink to get the results you want!
Your Post-Exercise Fluid Needs
Most moderate exercisers will lose about one quart (4 cups) of fluid per hour of exercise, so try to drink about 16-20 ounces of water shortly after your workout to aid the recovery process. If you sweat a lot or the weather is hot and/or humid, consider weighing yourself before and after exercise, and drinking an ounce of water for every ounce of weight you've lost. Because heavy sweating also causes loss of minerals and electrolytes, consider using a sports drink with electrolytes if you need to replace more than 2-3 cups of fluid.

Your Post-Exercise Meal or Snack
As long as you’re staying within your overall range for the day, you don’t need to be obsessive about matching the following calorie and nutrient ratios perfectly. Just be careful not to fall into the very common trap of thinking that it’s OK to eat anything and everything in sight because you just worked out. Many people are very hungry after a workout, making it easy to eat more than you really need, or choose foods that won’t really help your body. Eating too much of the wrong thing can do the opposite of what you want—cause your body to store that food as fat instead of using your post-workout food to refuel and repair your muscles.
 So what does the ideal meal or snack look like? ·   Calories. Ideally, try to eat enough calories to equal 50% of the calories you burned during your workout. So if you burn about 600 calories during your workout, try to eat 300 calories afterward.

Don’t worry about undoing the calorie-burning benefits of your workout–that’s not how weight loss works. As long as you're eating within your recommended calorie range (whether for weight loss or maintenance), you'll be on your way to reaching your goals.

·   Carbohydrates. Roughly 60% of the calories you eat at this time should come from carbohydrates. Contrary to popular belief, your body needs more carbohydrates than protein after a workout, to replace the muscle fuel (glycogen) you used up and to prepare for your next exercise session. Moderate exercisers need about 30-40 grams of carbohydrates after an hour of exercise, but high-intensity exercisers need more—around 50-60 grams for each hour they exercised.

If you have some favorite high-carb foods that are lacking in the whole grains and fiber that are often recommended as part of a healthy diet, this is a good time to have them! Your body can digest refined carbohydrates faster during your "refueling window," but if you’re a whole foods foodie, don’t force yourself to eat processed foods.
·  Protein. While carbs are essential, it’s also important to include some high-quality protein in your post-workout meal or snack. This protein will stop your body from breaking down muscle tissue for energy and initiate the process of rebuilding and repairing your muscles. About 25% of the calories you eat after a workout should come from protein—that's about 10-15 grams for most people.
·  Fat. Fat doesn't play a big role in post-workout recovery, and eating too much fat after a workout won't help your weight control or fitness endeavors. Only 15% (or less) of your post-workout calories should come from fat—that's less than 10 grams. ·  
The ideal time to eat after a workout is within 30 minutes to two hours, when your body is ready and waiting to top off its fuel tanks to prepare for your next workout.

But if your appetite or schedule doesn’t allow you to eat a meal right after your exercise session, don’t panic. Your body can still replace your muscle fuel over the next 24 hours, as long as you’re eating enough food to support your activity level. If you can, have a smaller snack that contains carbs and protein as soon after exercise as possible. Liquids like smoothies, shakes, or chocolate milk, and/or energy bars can be especially effective snacks after a workout.
Here are some sample food combinations for your post exercise meal: ·   Bread, a bagel, or an English muffin with cheese or peanut butter·   Dried fruit and nuts·   Cottage cheese with fruit·   Fruit juice with cheese·   Yogurt with fruit·   Veggie omelet with toast or roll·   Chocolate milk·   Cereal with milk·   Eggs and toast·   Turkey, ham, chicken, or roast beef sandwich·   Vegetable stir-fry with chicken, shrimp, edamame or tofu·   Crackers with low fat cheese·   Rice or popcorn cakes with nut butter·   Smoothie (with milk, yogurt, or added protein powder)·   A protein or energy bar·   A protein or energy shake·   Pancakes and eggs·   Any regular meal that contains lean protein, starch, and vegetablesAs a moderate exerciser, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to timing your meals and choosing your foods. The most important thing is getting to know your body and how it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best. Eating the right things at the right times after you work out is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.  



Stretching muscles is beneficial for improving function and range of motion. However, stretching a cold muscle can lead to injury.

Stretching Tips:

  • It is better to warm up your entire body with 5-10 minutes of light cardio prior to training.



  • Perform a warm-up set for the target muscle group you are training that day. You should only stretch once the muscle is fully warmed up.



  • A muscle should be stretched only at the beginning of the workout and at the end.



  • Stretch the muscle until the tension feels slightly uncomfortable, then relax it.



  • Repeat this several times, but never bounce. Stretching should be smooth and deliberate.



  • Practicing your stretching on a daily basis is the best way to get better at it, so make sure that you're taking the time to do so.


Caffeine is addictive.

Caffeine is a considered a safe ingredient. It is a stimulant that excites the nerves cells of the brain. While some stimulants, such as nicotine, are considered addictive, you aren’t likely to become addicted to caffeine if you consume it in moderation. However, habitual consumption can lead to adverse reactions in some people if they don’t get that morning cup of coffee. Those symptoms can include headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and muscle pain.

Moderate” caffeine consumption is defined as about how much per day for most adults?

Between 200 mg and 300 mg of caffeine, the amount in two to three cups of coffee, is considered a moderate amount and is generally considered safe for most adults.

Moderate caffeine consumption may reduce your risk of which of the following?

Some studies have shown that moderate consumption of caffeine may reduce your risk of diabetes, gallstones, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease. Despite these studies, though, doctors aren’t recommending caffeine consumption as a means to reduce your risks of disease.

Women who get a lot of caffeine should reduce their consumption when pregnant.

There is conflicting research on caffeine and pregnancy, but experts say pregnant women would be wise to moderate their intake. Some studies have linked a high intake of caffeine to increased risk for miscarriage and decreased fetal growth, but a cause-and-effect relationship has not been established. The American Dietetic Association recommends getting less than 300 mg per day, the equivalent of up to three cups of coffee, depending on the brew.

Mothers can transmit caffeine to their babies in breast milk.

Babies can indeed get a dose of caffeine from their mothers' milk. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "A morning cup of coffee is not likely to harm your baby, but too much caffeine can cause problems, such as poor sleeping, nervousness, irritability, and poor feeding."

The caffeine content in a cup of coffee can vary even if you get it at the same place every day.

The caffeine content in coffee can vary depending on brewing method, the type of bean used, and the amount prepared. For example, different extents of grinding the beans can yield different amounts of caffeine. Researchers in Florida ordered the same beverage from the same coffee shop for six consecutive days and found that the caffeine content ranged from 259 mg to 564 mg.

How long do the effects of caffeine last?

Caffeine's effects last long after you finish that cup of java. It takes 5 to 6 hours for your body to eliminate just half the caffeine in a cup of coffee, which is why having a cup in the afternoon can affect your sleep. In people who are more sensitive to caffeine, the effects may last even longer.

Caffeine is often added to headache medications because …

Caffeine helps the body absorb headache drugs more quickly, bringing faster relief. Adding caffeine requires less medication for the same effect, reducing the risk for potential side effects and possible drug addiction.

Some skin care products contain caffeine.

Antiaging products containing caffeine have been shown to help make skin smoother and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Women are more sensitive to caffeine than men.

A recent study found that men have a greater response to caffeine than women; however, another study suggested that this might not always be a good thing. Researchers found that caffeine tended to harm the performance of men in collaborative, stressful situations (such as an office environment), but it improved the performance of women.

As you age, your sensitivity to caffeine declines.

Older adults can be more sensitive to caffeine because it takes their bodies longer to process it.

Caffeine can aggravate symptoms of anxiety.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anyone suffering from anxiety disorders should avoid caffeine because it can aggravate symptoms, which include exaggerated worry and tension.

Caffeine can help you sober up when you're intoxicated.

Contrary to popular belief, caffeine will not help anyone who is intoxicated become sober.

Because of their diuretic effect (which causes an increase in urine), caffeinated beverages are usually dehydrating.

Caffeinated beverages do not generally contribute to dehydration. In the short term, caffeine may have a mild diuretic effect in people who do not normally consume caffeine, but this is not the case for those who habitually drink caffeinated beverages. All beverages, including those that contain caffeine, help maintain hydration.

An overdose of caffeine can kill you.

Deaths from caffeine overdose are rare, but they can be caused by convulsions or an irregular heartbeat. The amount of caffeine considered to be an overdose varies by a person’s size, age and gender, but in general, doses of greater than 10 grams can be fatal in adults. A typical cup of coffee has about 115 mg of caffeine, so you’d need to drink more than 85 cups to consume 10 grams.

The FDA limits the caffeine content in “energy drinks” to 71 mg per 12 oz serving.

The FDA limits the caffeine content in soft drinks to 71 mg per 12 oz serving, but there is no limit on the amount of caffeine “energy drinks” can contain. Several energy drinks have more than 100 mg of caffeine per serving, and some have more than 200 mg.

The consumption of caffeine above certain amounts is banned by:

Because high doses of caffeine can enhance physical performance -- studies have shown it can increase muscle endurance during brief, intense exercise -- NCAA athletes are not allowed to consume high doses of caffeine. The NCAA allows up to 15 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of urine, high enough to allow for normal consumption of caffeinated beverages, but low enough to bar the use of high-dose caffeine supplements.


Your body needs cholesterol.

Cholesterol is waxy, fat-like material that your body needs to make hormones, vitamin D, and acids for digesting food. But your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. You don't need to add to it in your diet.

 Eating oatmeal can lower your bad cholesterol.

Soluble fibers can lower blood cholesterol levels. Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber. So are beans and many fruits and vegetables. In studies, LDL cholesterol dropped 5% in people who added five to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day to their diet. A bowl of oatmeal and a banana is about 10 grams.

Which is highest in cholesterol?

  • Correct Answer: Two large scrambled eggs

Eggs have a lot of cholesterol. In fact, you could eat more than 50 slices of a typical chocolate cream pie (about 6 mg per slice) and still not get as much cholesterol as you'd get from just two eggs (about 212 mg each). Egg whites or yolk-free egg substitutes are a good alternative.

If you have high cholesterol, you should avoid all fats.

You need some fat in your diet. Fats supply energy and essential fatty acids, and they help absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. The trick is to eat the best kind of fats. When you can, replace animal fats with plant fats, which can actually help lower cholesterol. Eat as little trans fat as possible, and cut saturated fat to less than 10% of your calories.

Which can help lower your "bad" cholesterol?

Exercise or other regular physical activity can help lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise your "good" HDL cholesterol. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. But any regular physical activity lowers your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

What is a good total cholesterol level?

  • Correct Answer: Below 200 mg/dL

Shoot for a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dl. A level of 200 to 239 mg/dL is considered "borderline high" and 240 mg/dL or more is high.

 For LDL (bad cholesterol), anything under 100 mg/dL is best. Levels of HDL (good cholesterol) that are lower than 40 mg/dL put men at high risk for heart disease. HDL levels less than 50 mg/dL increase the risk for heart disease in women.

How do the drugs known as statins improve your cholesterol?

Statins are the best-known type of cholesterol-lowering medication. They can drop LDL cholesterol by 20% to 55%. Statins help the liver produce less cholesterol and boost its ability to remove LDL cholesterol already in the blood. They also help raise "good" HDL cholesterol.

Most people with high cholesterol need medication.

Most people don't need drugs to lower their cholesterol. Diet, exercising, and losing weight can help do it. The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) program can guide you on the changes you should make, depending on your risk for heart disease. The main goals are to eat less saturated fat, cholesterol, and get more physically active.

the 10 worst cardio crimes

The 10 Worst Cardio Crimes

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Like many women, I love me some cardio. I like to get sweaty when I work out and feel like I really accomplished something, and almost nothing makes me feel that way like a tough Spinning class or long run can.

But as a trainer (and self-proclaimed cardio lover), I've seen my share of mistakes in and out of the gym.

Cardio does a body good, but if you're guilty of these common cardio crimes, you could be putting your body at risk and undermining your efforts.

Think you're a cardio saint, innocent of any and all offenses? Read on to see if you're guilty as charged!

10 Most Common Cardio Crimes
Leaning on the Machine
While gripping the handles or console of a cardio machine can aid in balance, leaning too much of your weight into the handles of the machine will decrease your workout intensity and burn far fewer calories. I see this all the time in Spinning class (people leaning weight into their arms while standing instead of keeping their weight in their legs), and see it at the gym with people leaning onto the treadmill handles or console. If you're moving so fast or feel so tired that you cannot keep the pace without taking weight off of your legs by placing it into your arms, you are far better off decreasing your speed or workout intensity than by keeping the speed and leaning. Try to use the handles only temporarily, such as when you first hop on the treadmill and find your footing, or if you have to pause the machine.

Skimping on Resistance
As a Spinning instructor, I see this a lot when I monitor the students in my class. Many people fear the resistance on stationary bikes because they fear it will make them "bulk up." (This is so not true.) Similarly, I see a lot of people using treadmills and elliptical machines with little to no incline. When it comes to getting a better, more challenging workout (that also burns more calories) resistance—or incline—is essential. This is especially true on the treadmill, which propels you forward automatically and makes both walking and running easier. By bumping up the incline, you'll counteract that propelling motion of the belt and get a better workout.

Stretching before Your Workout
I highly discourage people from stretching before a workout. (Read my stretch-after-your-workout manifesto for more details.) Stretching is NOT the same thing as a warm up, although many people confuse the two. And stopping to stretch after you warm up completely negates the fact that you just warmed up. By the time you're done stretching, you're right back where you started! Your muscles are warm and your joints most lubricated at the end of your cardio session. There's no need to stretch twice, so you might as well save your stretching time for the end when you'll get the most benefit.

Carrying Weights While You Walk
Although the American Council on Exercise recently published a story saying that walking with weights in your hands isn't as risky as we all once thought, I wouldn’t rush to add them to your walks. It's generally safe if you're holding weights less than 3 pounds, but at that weight, there might not be a huge challenge or benefit for you. Hold much more and your injury risk skyrockets. Experts do agree that ankle weights are a no-no.  When it comes to cardio, I'd much rather see a person work on increasing speed, incline or resistance to increase the cardio challenge of a workout than simply add weights to a workout.

Only Doing Cardio
Cardio exercise has tons of amazing benefits for your health and weight loss. So if you're doing any cardio at all, kudos to you! But if cardio is the only form of exercise in which you partake, you are really missing out. You may even be at risk for what many people fear: becoming "skinny fat." Many people think of cardio as the key to fat-burning, and it is important. But strength training is, too. More muscle helps boost your metabolism so you burn more calories all day—and during every cardio session. Further, on a weight-loss program, you will lose muscle mass as you lose weight (not a good thing), but regular strength training will help you minimize that muscle loss. In my expert opinion, regular strength training is just as important in a fitness and weight-loss program as cardio. Pick up the weights and watch the scale go down.

Not Drinking Water
When you're doing cardio right, you're going to sweat. And when you sweat, you need to replace those fluids. Waiting until the end of your workout to drink up can be a risky practice. You're much better off keeping a water bottle with you during your workout and sipping every few minutes. Definitely don't wait until you're already thirsty to start drinking. Learn more about how much water you need to drink during workouts.

Doing the Same Cardio Workout
Most of us have a go-to workout that we love to do as often as possible. Whether it's walking, Zumba, running or the elliptical, we tend to have a mainstay cardio workout. It is important to enjoy your workouts (you're more likely to stick with them that way), but you'll get far better results by mixing up your routine as often as possible. At the very least, add 1-2 days of cross-training to your existing cardio program (if you tend to do the same thing all the time).  Mixing it up prevents overtraining and its related injuries and keeps your body guessing so that you don’t plateau.

Zoning Out
I know it's the only way a lot of us can get through the monotony of the gym, but zoning out (think reading, watching or listening to media) during cardio can really hurt your results. When we're not focusing on the task at hand, two things happen; first, we start to slack off because bouncing around too much makes it harder to read or we're simply forgetting what we're really at the gym to do (work hard). Second, because we're not paying attention, our form tends to go by the wayside. Your posture slouches, your arms and legs aren't moving through the idea range of motion, and you're not striking with your feet or engaging your core properly. It's fine to entertain yourself with TV, an audio book, or music during cardio. Just make sure to check back in every couple minutes to pay attention to your intensity and your form.

Lifting Weights Really Fast
We're all strapped for time and many of us are lucky if we get to the gym a few times a week. We all want to make the most of our workout time. However, lifting weights really quickly (as in lifting the actual weight up and down at rapid speed) in order to try to ink out a little extra "cardio" benefit is a super bad idea. Slow, controlled form is essential for weight training. Speeding up your exercises is majorly risky. If you really want to try to turn your strength training routine into something more aerobic, don't go faster. Instead, use full-body (compound) moves that work your upper and lower body simultaneously and/or get rid of the resting periods between sets in favor of circuit training. Both are safe ways to train that can amp up the cardio component of your toning program. Never sacrifice form or safety for speed.

Confusing "Activity" with Cardio
This is probably the most common mistake I see. We know how important it is to be active, and so we try to count every activity we do as "exercise" or cardio. That can be a big mistake for several reasons. While any activity is better than no activity, only those activities that meet the requirements for cardio activity really give us the health and fitness benefits we exercise in order to reap. Plus, tracking calories burned from every little thing you do is only misleading. You're only really burning "extra" calories when you're working pretty darn hard—not when you're simply walking leisurely through the mall or doing some light cleaning. Learn more about the differences between activity and exercise.

5 Benefits of Interval Training

5 Benefits of Interval TrainingLooking to eliminate boredom, burn more calories, and add some intensity to your workout? Interval training may be the way to go. Here's why.By Beth W. OrensteinMedically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH» You need to shake up your fitness program and lose weight, but you don’t really have any more time to devote to it. The perfect answer could be high-intensity interval training or HIIT for short. Interval training is not just for elite athletes anymore — everyone is doing it. High-intensity interval training requires interspersing bursts of intense activity into your regular fitness program. “It’s a form of fitness training that alternates high-intensity work efforts with low- to moderate-intensity ‘recovery’ efforts,” explains Leigh Crews, a personal trainer in Rome, Ga., and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise. Don’t confuse interval training with circuit training. Circuit training is moving from station to station to complete a set of exercises. Circuit training can be all aerobic exercise, all strength training, or alternating between cardio efforts and strength training. “Many people mistakenly call this interval training when, in fact, it is a circuit,” Crews says. When you’re circuit training, you don’t rest between the exercises that you do in sequence. When you’re interval training, you want to take short rests between intense repetitions of a single exercise. How Interval Training Helps Adding interval training to your fitness program has both mental and physical benefits: ·         You lose weight faster. The more vigorous your exercise, the more calories you will burn, so even short bursts will help you lose weight.·         It eliminates boredom. By varying the intensity of your exercises, it changes things up. Not only will your fitness program go by faster, but you won’t experience the drudgery that can come from doing the same routine every day.·         No extras needed. You already have the equipment you need for your interval training because you’re already doing the basic workout. Interval training requires no special skills — the only thing needed is more effort on your part.·         You increase your fitness levels. You will improve your ability to exercise and increase your stamina over time.·         You reduce the time spent on exercise. You spend less time exercising, but you burn the same or more calories as with your normal routine. Getting Started With Interval Training Anyone can add interval training to a fitness routine. For beginners who walk outdoors for exercise, you’ll need to find objects at regularly spaced distances when walking or running, such as telephone poles, and use them to judge your intervals. “You might start out brisk walking from one to pole to the next, then walking at an easier pace for three poles,” Crews says. As your fitness level increases, increase the speed of your walk or run for an additional pole or two. Hills are another way to add interval training to your running or jogging workout. You exercise more intensely as you climb the hill and have a relatively easy effort as you come down. You may need to change your course to tackle more hills. A more structured option is to go by the clock. Walk or run at an intense pace for one minute. Then walk or jog for one minute at a relaxed pace. If you’re really serious about it, Crews says, use a timer and a heart-rate monitor to time and pace your intervals. You can take the same approach when you’re biking or swimming. When interval training, it’s important to create an obvious distinction between your work efforts and your recovery efforts. Make sure you work in the “somewhat hard” to “hard” categories for the work, Crews says, and the “low” to “moderate” categories for the recovery. Plan your interval training for one to three times a week. You shouldn’t do it every day, Crews says. If you want to apply interval training to make your strength training workouts more intense, simply shorten the rest time in between sets. Not only will your workout time will be reduced, but you also will keep your heart rate up. A higher heart rate can help you burn more fat during your workout. Why Interval Training Is Not for Everyone Interval training is very demanding. Your body needs to be able to handle the stress and to recover from the damage you will incur. If you have any heart problems or circulation issues, interval training is not for you. Others who should avoid HIIT include people with diabetes, people who are obese, and those who very out of shape. A qualified personal trainer can help you design the correct interval training program for your fitness level and your personal goals. Remember to always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.  

best and worst appetizers

Best and Worst Appetizers WORST: Onion BlossomIt may be your waistline that blossoms if you're a fan of fried onions. "It's good to start off with a vegetable," says Joan Salge Blake, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "But once you fry it, you're frying in calories." The onion blossom at one popular restaurant has 1,552 calories, 83 g of fat, and 5,508 mg of sodium - more than double the daily sodium limit for healthy adults.BEST: Vegetable KabobsGrilled vegetable kabobs offer a nutritious, low-calorie alternative to fried onions. If this isn't on the menu, ask for a side of grilled vegetables as your appetizer. Veggie kabobs are also easy to make – try skewering onions, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and zucchini. Brush with a lower-fat garlic and herb marinade. Two large kabobs will have about 80 calories.WORST: Spinach Artichoke DipDon't let the word "spinach" fool you. Traditional spinach artichoke dip is not a healthy starter. A typical order contains about 1,500 calories, 100 g of fat, and 2,500 mg of sodium. The trouble is the cream base, which is loaded with saturated fat. If you make this dip at home, try using a base of nonfat Greek yogurt instead.BEST: Spinach SaladThe best appetizers are low in calories, but satisfying enough to curb how much you eat during the rest of your meal. Salads made with spinach or other leafy greens do this very well. Studies suggest you'll eat about 10% less during a meal if you start off with salad. A cup of fresh spinach with a tablespoon of vinaigrette has just 150 calories.WORST: Cheese FriesThe worst appetizers can "take over the meal," Blake warns. "Some of them have more calories than the main entrée." One offender is cheese fries – French fries with melted cheese on top. Variations may include bacon bits or ranch dressing. A full order packs up to 2,100 calories, 150 g of fat, and a whole day's worth of sodium (2,300 mg).BEST: Crab CakesBlake recommends using appetizers to work in healthy foods you might be eating too little of. Seared crab cakes offer an appealing way to get more seafood into your diet. Served with chili sauce, a typical crab cake has about 300 calories, 16 g of fat, and 800 mg sodium.WORST: Cheeseburger SlidersDon't be fooled by their size – "sliders" pack a lot of calories into a tiny sandwich. A typical restaurant order includes three mini-burgers with cheese and sauce, totaling 1,270 calories, 81 g of fat, and 2,270 mg of sodium.BEST: Beef SkewersWhen you're craving a meaty appetizer, opt for beef skewers. In Asian restaurants, this may be listed as beef satay – skewers of beef with peanut sauce. At home, you can grill skewers of lean beef with onions, garlic, hoisin, soy, and barbecue sauce. A quarter-pound serving has about 130 calories, 5 g of fat, and 803 mg sodium.WORST: Loaded Potato SkinsPotato skins filled with melted cheese, meats, and sour cream are as fattening as they are tempting. "You're taking a potato and adding saturated fats," Blake cautions. At 150 calories a pop, the trick to enjoying these is to have just one. Devour a whole plateful and you'll take in about 1,000 calories, 100 g of fat, and 1,900 mg of sodium.BEST: Stuffed MushroomsStuffing mushrooms instead of potato skins helps keep the portion size down. Mushroom caps filled with cheese and breadcrumbs have less than 50 calories each. That means you can eat half a dozen and still keep your appetizer under 300 calories, along with 19 grams of fat, and 720 mg of sodium.WORST: Fried CalamariLike many forms of seafood, squid can be nutritious. But when you bread it and fry it in oil, you're drenching it with calories and fat. A typical restaurant portion contains about 900 calories, 54 g of fat, and 2,300 mg of sodium – not including any sauce.  BEST: Shrimp CocktailShrimp cocktail is very low in saturated fat and calories. It's also a refreshing source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote healthy circulation. To keep the calorie count low, stick to tomato-based sauce. A serving of shrimp with cocktail sauce has about 120 calories.WORST: New England Clam ChowderClam chowder sounds like it should be healthy, especially as a way to take in some extra seafood. Unfortunately, the New England variety is made with a fattening cream base. A 12-ounce bowl contains about 450 calories, 34 g of fat, and 1,190 mg of sodium.BEST: Vegetable SoupLike salad, having a bowl of soup can curb how much you eat during the rest of the meal. The key is choosing a low-calorie option, such as a tomato-based vegetable soup. A 12-ounce bowl has about 160 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 1,240 mg sodium. Stay away from cream-based vegetable soups, which are higher in calories and saturated fats. When buying canned soup, look for those marked "low in sodium."WORST: Chicken WingsA typical appetizer portion of buffalo chicken wings has more than 700 calories and 40 g of fat. Ranch sauce adds another 200 calories and 20 g of fat. That's 900 calories and 60 g of fat – not to mention more than 2,000 mg of sodium – before you even get to your main meal.BEST: Lettuce WrapsIf you're craving spicy chicken, skip the wings and try lettuce wraps. You can make these at home by wrapping diced spicy chicken and vegetables in a lettuce leaf. Each wrap has 160 calories and 7 g of fat. If you order this appetizer at a restaurant, be sure to share. A plate of four wraps has a total of 640 calories, 28 g of fat, and 650 mg sodium.WORST: Mozzarella SticksThere's something about a stick of warm, gooey cheese that is irresistible – until you take a look at the nutritional facts. A typical order has 940 calories, 46 g of fat, and 2,830 mg of sodium. That puts mozzarella sticks pretty much on par with chicken wings.BEST: EdamameGo out on a limb and try something entirely different. These green pods, known as edamame, are a popular appetizer in Asian restaurants. It's fun to open the pods and pop the young soybeans into your mouth. One serving has 122 calories, and 5 g of fat.WORST: Chili Cheese NachosThey may be a festive way to start an evening out, but nachos and cheese dip are among the least healthy appetizer choices. Eat an entire order yourself, and you'll take in 1,680 calories, 108 g of fat, and 4,280 mg of sodium – nearly twice the recommended daily limit for sodium.BEST: Sliced Peppers with SalsaFor a homemade alternative to chips and dip, try sliced peppers with salsa. Cut up red and green bell peppers and use them as tortilla chips for dipping in salsa. This is a fun way to sneak more vegetables into your diet. You can dip a whole pepper's worth of "chips" and stay under 50 calories. 


 "I Just Want to Get Big...FAST!"
 By Lester Maurice
 Author of The Matrix Mass System
 This is the battle cry heard around gyms and on the internet all the
 time. Some people just starting out are skinny or feel undersized
 for their height. Others are tired of training for definition or
 doing aerobics and want to add mass and power that they haven't
 necessarily experienced before.
 There is always a fascination to see just how big you can get for
 your size. There's really nothing wrong with this goal as long as
 you do it intelligently. You have to cycle this type of intense
 lifting with periods of lighter training and you have to develop
 the whole body so as not to throw yourself way out of proportion
 by having only a huge chest or gigantic thighs with nothing else
 that matches.
 Everyone has been told that the basic compounds lifts are the best
 and I have to re-tell you that same song. Grimek, Reeves, Scott and
 Arnold first put on their massive thickness by focusing on the
 powerlifting exercises exclusively for some time. Its not a
 coincidence that Mr. Heavy Duty Mentzer also had this phase in his
 The flat bench, parallel squat and deadlift will be the main focus
 of this cycle. If you can't do these, then you can replace them
 with some alternate movements using machines or dumbbells but you
 will be losing some of the intended growth hormone effect.
 This is a five-week routine that can be performed once every
 nine-weeks. In other words, after you've completed it, do your basic
 bodybuilding routine for four weeks before cycling on again. Use the
 routine two days each week (eg. Tuesday and Friday or Monday and
 Thursday). You will never use the program more than two days
 throughout the five week cycle. Trust us, it won't be necessary.
 Good luck!
  Week One
 Bench Press: 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions
 Parallel Squat: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
 Deadlift: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
 Week Two
 Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions
 Parallel Squat: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
 Deadlift: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
 Week Three
 Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions
 Parallel Squat: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
 Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
 Week Four
 Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions
 Parallel Squat: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
 Deadlift: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
 Week Five
 Bench Press: 5 sets of 6-8 repetitions
 Parallel Squat: 5 sets of 8-10 reps
 Deadlift: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
 About the Author
 Lester Maurice is the head of Matrix Systems a consulting group of
 personal trainers specializing in bodybuilding and fitness
 development located throughout Southern California.
 His new book "The Matrix Mass System" contains proven scientific
 methods to help you reach your full genetic potential in muscular
 For full details go to

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