Scientists discover why the brain may lead to weight loss stalling


A new study conducted at the University of Cambridge has found that a group of neurons in the brain coordinates energy intake and energy output when dieting.

The findings, which revisit the energy-balance equation, have implications for predicting the outcome of different weight loss interventions in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers knew that when we eat less, the body tends to compensate and burn fewer calories. But, how energy expenditure (calories out) is adjusted when calories are restricted remained unclear.

These new findings suggest that the brain regulates this caloric thermostat. In the journal eLife, researchers explain that, in mice, the brain responds to a calorie deficit by increasing hunger and decreasing the number of calories burned.

In other words, it turns the body into saving mode, which leads to barely measurable rises in energy expenditure and no increase in loss of body fat over time.

The group of neurons responsible for this phenomenon are known as the agouti-related neuropeptide (AGRP) neurons. They are located in the hypothalamus and represent about 10,000 neuron cells that are activated by fasting and refeeding.

When activated, the AGRP neurons act to spare energy, limiting the number of calories burned and hence the weight loss. They do that by decreasing thermogenesis (fat burning) in brown adipose tissue (BAT).

In the study’s experiment, mice that were food-restricted and genetically modified to have altered function of those neurons burned fewer calories.

The other interesting finding is that the AGRP neurons can detect how much energy is available through nutrient-sensing pathways, like mTORC1, and then control how many calories are burned accordingly.

The number of calories consumed is therefore important, but so is the type of diet as researchers found that exposing mice to a high-fat diet for several days inhibited their AGRP neurons, causing them to burn calories at a faster rate.

This is in line with the metabolic advantage purportedly associated with a low-carb, high-fat diet which is that it allows fat burning leading to weight loss.

Overall, the findings suggest that during caloric restriction, calories out may initially rise but eventually fall due to the action of the AGRP neurons which limits the rate of fat loss.

Pineapple Benefits For Weight Loss


I’m not here to tell you that pineapple will magically melt fat, because it won’t. But what it will do is fuel your body with the necessary nutrients that can help you achieve your weight loss goal. Furthermore, pineapple has a unique inflammation-fighting enzyme.  And, inflammation and weight gain are closely connected.

How does pineapple burn fat?

Pineapple is juicy, sweet and delicious. It’s often misrepresented as a fruit that can burn fat, most likely because of its main enzyme, bromelain. Bromelain can help reduce inflammation in the body — but more on that later. However, even if pineapple can’t physically burn fat, it does have nutrients that can certainly help you reduce fat. So, don’t give up on pineapple just yet.

High vitamin C content turns fat to fuel


Many benefits of pineapple are due to its high concentration of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body doesn’t store it. Therefore, you need to get enough from vitamin C-rich foods like pineapples. Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining the health of the body’s connective tissue as well as acting as an antioxidant. The RDA for vitamin C is 90 milligrams a day for men and 75 milligrams a day for women. The daily value (DV) is 60 milligrams. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults. Pineapple has a whopping 79 milligrams of vitamin C per cup. That 131 percent of the daily value.

Too little vitamin C in the blood stream leads to increased body fat and waist measurements. A 2006study from Arizona State University reported that the amount of vitamin C in the blood stream is directly related to fat oxidation (the body’s ability to use fat as fuel) during both exercise and at rest.

At the beginning of the study, participants with the lowest concentrations of vitamin C in their blood had the highest body fat mass. They could not oxidize fat as well as those participants who were less obese. But, as the study progressed, those same participants who consumed a steady amount of vitamin C increased blood vitamin C concentrations by 30 percent. The participants who only consumed 67 percent of the recommended daily allowance from food saw a decline in vitamin C blood concentration. So, their ability to oxidize fat decreased.

Since pineapple is such an excellent source of vitamin C, just one cup a day could aid your body’s ability to turn your fat into fuel.

Is pineapple good to eat on a diet?

Low in calories, nutrient-rich and a good source of fiber makes this tropical treat a great addition to any diet. Pineapple consists of 86 percent water and 13 percent carbs, and no fat or protein. At only 83 calories per cup, pineapple is ideal as a low-calorie snack or dessert.

It’s also an excellent source of manganese, a mineral needed to metabolize carbohydrates and fat, which is important for energy production. Low manganese levels are linked with osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, PMS and epilepsy, according to the University of Maryland. But manganese deficiency is rare in the United States. One cup of pineapple supplies you with about 2 milligrams of manganese. Adult males need about 2.3 milligrams daily and adult females need 1.8 milligrams.

Pineapple won’t affect blood sugar

The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement for carbohydrate-containing foods and how they affect blood glucose levels. Low GI diets are linked with decreased risk of certain conditions like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and stroke. Carbohydrates with a low GI value of 55 or less are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized. In turn, they cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore, insulin levels.

The glycemic index value of pineapples ranges from 45 to 66. That places them at a low to medium range, according to the University of Sydney, which means that pineapples should not have any major effects on blood sugar levels.

It is a good source of insoluble fiber

One cup of pineapple contains two grams of fiber. Almost all — 99 percent of it — is insoluble. Insoluble fiber is the type of fiber that most people think of as “roughage.” It’s the hardy fiber found in whole grains, nuts, veggies and fruits that don’t dissolve in water. In fact, insoluble fiber isn’t broken down by the gut and absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, it adds bulk to waste in the digestive system. That helps keep you regular and prevents constipation. Your total dietary fiber intake should be around 25 to 30 grams a day from food — not supplements.

Fiber is so important for dieting because it requires more chewing and takes longer to digest. This helps your body recognize that it is full and prevents you from continuing to eat. Diets rich in fiber are linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Insoluble fibers have also been linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a German study. And another study by the American Dietetic Association found the insoluble fiber leads to lower body weight.

Can pineapple juice help you lose weight?

Pineapple juice is packed with vitamins and minerals, but it can’t magically help you lose weight. That said, it offers a significant amount of vitamin C, which aids in weight loss. It may also help reduce your risk of constipation and improve overall digestion. But the real benefit to pineapple juice is bromelain.

The bromelain connection

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapples that digest protein. Bromelain can be used to treat several conditions. But it is particularly effective in reducing inflammation. Although inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense system, too much wreaks havoc on your body. Incidentally, eating the fiber-rich core of a juicy, ripe pineapple is the best way to consume natural sources of bromelain. The riper the fruit is, the softer the core will be.

A great way to get your bromelain fix is by juicing the core of the pineapple or simply throwing it into a smoothie. Drinking fresh pineapple juice has been shown to be a powerful remedy against inflammatory diseases. A Duke University Medical study found that supplementing your diet with fresh pineapple juice actually decreases inflammation.

And inflammation is the link between obesity and metabolic syndrome, suggests a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Get your energy from pineapple

Pineapple is a good source of thiamin, which is a B vitamin that’s essential to energy production. And, anyone who’s ever been on a diet understands the importance energy plays. Let’s face it, when your energy is low, that’s when you’re most likely to grab a box of high-sugar, high-fat cookies.

Pineapple not only fills you up with few calories, but it will also provide you with a healthy source of fuel — that combats inflammation! Pineapple may not a miracle fat-burning fruit that some claim, but there are definite reasons why you should include it in your diet.

— Katherine Marko

Is the ‘8-Hour Diet’ the key to weight loss?

What time did you eat your dinner last night? Chances are it was at 7 or even 8 p.m. And what about your breakfast? If your days are long, it is likely you grabbed a coffee or a piece of toast pretty early in the day. As the scientific evidence linking intermittent fasting to hormonal control and weight loss has grown so, too, has interest in prolonged periods of time within each day that we actually do not eat. Forget calorie counting or limiting your carbs — weight control may be as simple as eating across fewer hours each day.

The 8-Hour Diet proposes that limiting your food intake to just eight hours of the day is an easy diet technique that supports weight control. This way, all calories and meals need to be consumed within just eight hours of the day — for example, brunch at 10 a..m, lunch at 1 or 2 p.m. and your final meal of the day by 6 p.m. The amount of calories or even fat consumed is not important — rather, it is argued that our long days, in which food may be consumed across as many as 16 hours each day, is one of the key reasons so many of us are struggling with our weight.


Indeed, there are some physiological aspects of this argument that make sense. Prolonged periods of feeding, in which food is not only consumed relatively frequently, every few hours and across many hours of the day means that more insulin (the hormone that controls blood glucose levels) is released in an attempt to keep blood glucose levels stable. High levels of insulin over time promote inflammation and fat storage in the body. In addition, hunger is less likely to be experienced, as we never really let ourselves get really hungry and fat is more likely to be stored in the liver.

Studies on animals support this approach when it comes to weight loss and hormonal control. In some preliminary studies, rats given free access to high-fat foods but only for relatively short periods of time weighed less, and had no issues with their cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels or inflammation in the liver. On the other hand, rats given free access to food across 24-hour periods gained weight, developed high cholesterol and high blood glucose as well as impaired motor control. Researchers concluded that constant feeding results in the body going into storage mode — gaining weight and placing stress on the liver, which in turn results in increased blood glucose levels. On the other hand, when we stop eating for a number of hours, the liver stops releasing glucose into the bloodstream and instead uses it to repair the body’s cells, which in turn reduced inflammation. In addition, cholesterol is more likely to be broken down rather than stored.


So what does this mean for us? There is more evidence building to show there is a number of health benefits associated with not eating for a number of hours, from both a hormonal and weight perspective. In real life, though, this is easier said than done with long hours and shift work resulting in meals and snacks being consumed at all times of the day and night. The environment in which we live also encourages food consumption constantly, regardless of hunger or meal time.

While the exact period of time in which metabolic benefits are experienced from not eating is unknown, it appears that leaving at least 12 hours per day without food is beneficial, and at an extreme 16 hours each day. In real life terms, this means a later start to the day food-wise, and consuming your final meal by 8 p.m. at the latest. Another option if your day starts early is to eat breakfast as normal, eat your main meal at lunchtime and then have a light snack by 6pm. This way you still have 12-14 hours without food each day but are still eating enough calories so you do not experience extreme hunger throughout the evening.

The biggest issue with diets that limit calories in some way is that extreme hunger is then experienced which makes compliance challenging. The key thing with fasting is that for it to work you need to not eat anything, whereas in real life little extras slip in which negate the benefits. As such, for the 8 Hour Diet to be effective, you will need to consume a substantial meal at some point during the day so that your hunger does not get the better of you.

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How to lose weight without trying too hard


Sometimes, you feel too lazy to work out. Or there could be too much work that is stopping you from going to the gym or following a diet. But your schedule or mood swings should not let you stop from losing weight. Incorporate these easy hacks in your daily life to do it effortlessly.

Portion control
It’s important to stick to limited portions at every meal. Measure the snacks before munching. Pour them in a bowl instead of eating out of a bag. Use smaller plates and say no to second helpings.

Proper sleep
If you haven’t been sleeping for seven to nine hours every day, you are not giving your body enough time to heal. Lack of sleep drains energy and makes you crave for comfort foods throughout the day, which can send your weight-loss goals for a toss.

Meal intervals
Your mom is right. You shouldn’t have huge gaps between meals. Starving yourself for a long period means that when you eventually eat, you end up overeating, which makes you consume more calories than required. Eat meals and snacks at regular intervals to also avoid low blood sugar levels, which can leave you exhausted.

Early dinner
Keep your dinner to about 25 per cent of your daily calorie needs. Have it at least two to three hours before going to bed. Eating too much too late causes indigestion and sleep issues, which make it difficult to stick to your weight-loss goals.

Don’t drink calories
Empty calories and loads of sugar that come with those shakes and colas are making you put on weight apart from causing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. Cut down on colas, packaged juices for breakfast, and that large glass of wine for dinner. Instead, stick to water, or water flavoured with ingredients like cucumber, lemon or mint to feel fresh and healthy.

Does Eating Oats for Breakfast Really Help You Lose Weight?


Scientifically known as “Avena Sativa”, oat is a cereal grain that has gained good reputation when it comes to healthy eating. Also known as ‘Jaie’ in Hindi, oats are widely grown and cultivated in the paddy fields of Punjab and Haryana. Rich in protein and fiber, oats are a favourite amongst fitness enthusiasts, not only because they are nutritious but also because you can cook up a variety of things with them. In the book ‘Healing foods’ by DK Publishing, the author credits oats with numerous health benefits. “Oats contain multiple nutrients and  a gummy, water-soluble fiber, beta-glucan, which helps reduce unhealthy(LDL) cholesterol. They are also known to be a natural sedative, and excellent for easing indigestion,” states the book.

Consumed widely for its good quality protein

, oats have been known to help in weight loss. But do they? Macrobiotic Nutritionist Shilpa Arora explains, “Oats are rich in fiber which helps you remain full and prevents binge-eating. Having oats for breakfast is one of the best ways to ensure you lose weight. Oats give you a fuller feeling  as the fiber takes time to digest, thus preventing you from binging on other calorie high food.”

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Oats are filled with dietary fiber which helps in weight loss

Let us help you understand how the fiber in oats can help in weight loss

. Oats contain soluble fiber which absorb the water in your stomach and becomes gel-like. It swells up and thus, takes longer to digest keeping you satisfied and reducing hunger until lunch time. Another reason why oats are great for breakfast is that they are full of protein.While proteins are essential for building your muscles, they also play a key role in keeping your blood sugar levels stable and preventing insulin spikes which may lead to fat storage.

Oats are also low on starchy carbs and are good diuretics which means they help regulate the excess water content in your body. They are packed with other nutrients like Manganese, Thiamin, Magnesium and Phosphorous and are also low in calories, thus aiding weight loss while ensuring good health.

(Also read: 9 Amazing Benefits of Eating Oats Everyday



Oats are low in calories and full of good quality protein

There are multiple variants of oats (which are just grains) and oatmeal (rolled or flaked version of oats) available in the markets, but be cautious while purchasing them. Flavoured oatmeal may contain added sugar and have more calories. In that case, it is better to pick a pack of plain oats and cook it the way you like. You can make a breakfast bowl for yourself with coconut milk and fresh fruits or you can choose to make oats idli or upma if you would like a bigger meal. According to the Book ‘Healing foods,’ the best way to have oats to reap maximum benefits is:

  • Raw and cooked? Oats are said to deliver the best results irrespective of whether consumed raw or cooked.
  • Oat milk: Oat milk naturally contains more calcium than dairy milk. It can be made easily by soaking oat groats in a glass of milk and can prove to be a healthier alternative to dairy milk.

Oats make for a balanced, low-fat and delicious breakfast. So, what are you waiting for? Dig into a bowlful of nutrition for breakfast every day.

Will a late-night snack sabotage your weight-loss regime?

The Question

I eat dinner at 7 p.m. and go to bed at 11 pm. How bad is it to snack at night if I am trying to lose weight? What’s the best food to snack on if I’m hungry after dinner?

The Answer

Eat dinner early. No snacking after dinner. If you’ve been on a weight-loss diet, this is advice you’ve probably heard.

It’s thought that eating late in the evening will slow down weight loss or, worse, pack on a few pounds. But will it?

Many experts say no. Conventional wisdom holds that calories are calories, regardless of when you eat them.

In other words, if your body needs, say, 1900 calories, eating 500 of them at 6 p.m. or 9 p.m. won’t make a difference to your weight. Weight gain is caused simply by eating more calories than your body uses.

Does the timing of calories matter?

Growing evidence, however, suggests that weight gain is not just about “calories in versus calories out.” Weight-loss studies have shown that the timing of meals does influence how much weight people lose.

One trial, published in 2016, found that among 80 overweight women, those who ate half of their daily calories at lunch lost 25-per-cent more weight than participants who consumed them at dinner.

Two other studies discovered that dieters who ate a big breakfast (700 calories) and a small dinner (200 calories) were more successful at losing weight than were those who did the opposite.

The theory that’s gaining ground is that weight control is linked to the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that regulates calorie burning, hunger hormones, digestion and metabolism of fat and glucose among many other bodily processes.

In other words, your body is programmed to burn fat at certain times of the day and store it at others.

Scientists believe that a regular eating schedule – and sleep schedule – is necessary to keep our internal clocks in sync. (We have different internal clocks in every organ in the body.)

Disturbing these clocks by eating late at night, for example, can mess up metabolic function and influence whether consumed calories are burned or tucked away as fat.

Eating more of your calories early in the day has also been tied to lower a level of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage.

To be fair, we’re not talking about eating an apple or a few nuts after a healthy dinner. There’s no research to suggest that eating a small, calorie-controlled snack at night will impede weight-loss efforts.

In fact, the right late-night snack may even benefit your metabolism.

According to a review published in the journal Nutrients in 2015, eating a protein-rich snack near bedtime can enhance muscle-protein synthesis while you sleep.

That’s a good thing since low-calorie dieting can cause you to lose some muscle along with body fat. Holding onto muscle helps maintain your resting metabolism, the rate at which your body burns calories to perform its basic functions.

Extra dietary protein also enhances the muscle-preserving effect of resistance exercise, which I recommend adding to your weight-loss program.

It’s possible, too, that knowing you have a structured after-dinner snack can prompt you to consume fewer calories at your evening meal.

The key, then, is to eat a small snack, not a meal’s worth of calories.

Depending on what time you ate your evening meal, though, you may not need an after-dinner snack.

Know your trigger: Hunger, habit, or something else?

Before you head to the fridge, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Has it been a few hours since you ate dinner? Is your stomach grumbling?

Or, do you want something to eat because you’re bored or anxious? Or are you stressed out and need to eat to unwind?

Are you simply craving ice cream because you know it’s in the freezer? The thought of hard-to-resist treats can bring on a snack craving.

Perhaps your desire to snack at night is driven by a well-ingrained habit of munching while watching television or surfing the Web.

Consider your sleep habits, too. Are you staying up too late and skimping on sleep? Not getting enough sleep (seven to nine hours a night) can drive hunger and cravings by raising ghrelin.

If you do feel hungry after dinner, consider what you ate at that meal, and earlier in the day, too.

Do your meals include protein (e.g., poultry, fish, lean meat, eggs, dairy, tofu, legumes) and fibre-rich foods (e.g., whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables), both which can help prevent hunger pangs before bed?

If your meals are satisfying, you may still get hungry later in the evening, especially if you eat dinner early. If so, plan for a snack. Doing so doesn’t need to derail your weight-loss efforts.


What to snack on

Limit your nighttime snack to 100 to 150 calories, enough to take the edge off hunger. To stay within your daily calorie target, you may need to move some calories from earlier in the day.

Choose protein-rich snacks that help you feel satiated and supply your muscles with amino acids.

Smart choices include plain Greek yogurt with a handful of berries, an ounce of hard cheese and 15 grapes, a hard-boiled egg and raw vegetables, a half-cup of cottage cheese mixed with a quarter-cup of pineapple, or an 85-gram tin of flavoured tuna on two whole-grain crackers.

Or, try 100 calories worth of nuts: 20 almonds, 11 walnut halves, 10 pecan halves or 35 pistachios. (Pistachios in the shell take longer to eat, too.)

Avoid snacks made from refined starches and added sugars such as crackers, pretzels, cookies and cereal bars. These foods spike your blood sugar and insulin and, quite frankly, don’t fill you up.

Don’t snack out of the package. Measure your snack and put it on a plate or in a bowl. Doing so will prevent you from mindless eating and overeating.

To stay on track, don’t keep tempting treats in the house. Sooner or later, those bite-size brownies or salt-and-vinegar chips will call out your name, likely when you’re tired or stressed, and your defences are down.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto.


Ditch these running excuses to jump-start your weight loss

By  Published March 24, 2017

Exercise is a key ingredient in weight loss and maintenance. Running especially comes with a host of health benefits: It can give you more energy, boost your metabolism, improve your mood, and help release stress, Erica Stepteau, a health coach at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, told Fox News.


But strenuous exercise like running can seem daunting, and we often like to tell ourselves certain very convincing reasons why we should skip the cardio for the day. Fox News asked Stepteau about some of these common excuses about running, and how to get over them:

1. Running is too hard.
Running can be difficult, given that it uses every muscle group in your body, Stepteau said. However, there are ways to start gradually: Try one of the online couch to 5k programs, she suggested.

2. Running is lonely.
Another common excuse Stepteau hears is running is too lonely or boring. But try to reconfigure your thinking around running: Look at it as your therapy and alone time, Stepteau said.

3. The weather is bad.
If it’s rainy or slushy, your desire to run may take a nosedive. But even if you aren’t usually a fan of treadmills, you can still use them to recreate an outdoor running experience, Stepteau said. Try changing the incline on the treadmill, and listening to noises — like chirping birds — to remind you of outside.

4. I don’t have a runner’s body.
Some people believe that if they don’t have the idealized athletic, slim, and fit runner’s body, they shouldn’t get started. But be gracious with yourself, said Stepteau, noting that “aesthetics come into play later on but shouldn’t stop you from getting started.”

5. My knees will start hurting.
Running is definitely high impact on the knees, but you can go to a running specialty store to get fitted for proper shoes, which should help minimize the impact, Stepteau said.


6. I should have started when I was younger.
While many people wish they had gotten started on their running goals earlier, there are still huge benefits of getting started mid-age, Stepteau said. She noted that you can still reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes just by moving an hour a day.

7. I’ve been inactive for too long.
Even if you feel like you’re out of practice, increase your activities gradually, Stepteau said. Soon, you’ll start building your endurance