Monday, April 27, 2009

Do Artificial Sweeteners A Healthy Substitute?

10:31 AM by Lilian · 5 comments
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I have noticed that the supply of artificial sweeteners are increasingly available in market today. Be it sold in the pharmacy, grocery stores and other health stores. Artificial sweeteners and the huge list of products sweetened with them are marketed to you relentlessly as "healthy foods" or "healthier" than sugar or corn syrup sweetened products. But are they really?

Below are some of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market today:
  • Splenda (sucralose)
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharine
  • Acesulfame Potassium (aka - acesulfame K)
These artificial sweeteners are used in abundance in almost every "diet" drink, "lite" yogurts, puddings, and ice creams, most "low-carb" products, and almost all "reduced-sugar" products. and or sugar substitute for diabetic patients. Heck, even most protein powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners too (just look on the ingredients and you'll usually see one of them).

Splenda is probably one of the worst offenders of claiming to be "healthy" as they say that it's made from real sugar. Don't be fooled! It's still an artificial substance. What they don't tell you is that Splenda is actually a chemically modified substance where chlorine is added to the chemical structure, making it more similar to a chlorinated pesticide than something we should be eating or drinking.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions that I see all of the time and it saddens me to see so many people poisoning their family with dangerous artificial sweeteners like splenda, while falsely thinking they're doing something healthy.

The truth is that artificial sweeteners are not even close to being "healthy", and as you'll discover in a minute, can easily be just as bad for you, if not worse, than sugar or corn syrup. Most people think that they are doing something good for themselves by choosing the "diet" drinks or "lite" yogurts compared to the sugar-laden versions, but the problem is that you're exposing yourself to a whole new set of problems with the artificially sweetened drinks and foods.

You're probably frustrated by all of the contradicting messages you hear each day about which foods are good for you and which are bad. I'm sure just today you probably saw some clever ad or commercial somewhere screaming health benefits for a food product that is loaded with artificial sweeteners. Don't worry. Continue reading and you will discover the truth.

The fact is, artificial sweeteners vs. sugar or corn syrup is really just a battle between two evils. Which evil is worse?

Problems with sugar or high fructose corn syrup sweetened products are : excess empty calories, blood sugar spike, and resulting insulin surge this creates in your body not only promotes fat gain, but also stimulates your appetite further, making things even worse.

On the other hand, artificial sweeteners save you calories, but there's growing evidence that they can increase your appetite for sweets and other carbohydrates causing you to eat more later in the day anyway. Therefore, you don't really save any calories at all. Also, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate high insulin levels in your body too, which again can promote fat storage.

All of the 4 artificial sweeteners listed above are nasty chemicals that the human body is simply not meant to ingest. However, most of us are ingesting a whole lot of these chemicals on a daily basis. Aside from the problems I touched on so far, other health issues that have been related to artificial sweeteners in scientific studies as well as observations are:
  • some have been linked to potential cancer risks
  • negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs
  • stimulating cravings
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • developmental problems in children and fetuses
  • headaches
  • and too many more issues to list
Now some of the above potential health problems are definitely not proven as fact in studies. However, some of them have been shown in animal studies given high doses. Also, if you do some research, you'll find hoardes of people that attribute the use of artificial sweeteners over the years with all sorts of illnesses in themselves or in family members.

Regardless of the fact that any real health problems for actual human use are not proven yet, I don't know about you, but I'd rather protect myself and my family and steer clear of these possibly dangerous artificial chemicals.

Of course, despite all of the health issues potentially associated with artificial sweeteners, the companies that sell the products will continue to claim that they are fully safe. Don't believe them! The bottom line is that the body was not designed to deal with foreign substances like artificial sweeteners. Right or not?

So what are your options for alternatives? Well, your best alternatives for sugar or corn syrup are either raw honey, organic maple syrup, or even a little-known high antioxidant syrup called sorghum syrup (common in the southern US). Even though these alternatives still have the same amount of calories as sugar or corn syrup... honey, organic maple syrup, and sorghum syrup actually provide some nutrients and antioxidants, so it's not just empty calories. Empty calories such as white refined sugar stimulate your appetite more because your body is lacking nutrients.

Now you're probably thinking that you'd like to still save on calories but avoid the nasty artificial sweeteners. Good news... You can!

You've probably heard about Stevia. It's an alternative sweetener where you can still save a little on calories and sugar but don't want to harm your health with artificial sweeteners.

Stevia is not artificial like the other chemical sweeteners I mentioned above. Stevia is a natural non-caloric herb that's been used for thousands of years in some parts of the world. It is a South American herb and when dried into a powder, has a sweetness about 200-300 times stronger than sugar.

One problem with using Stevia is that the pure powder is a very powerful sweetener, so you can easily use too much. However, I've found some good Stevia products that use a bulking agent added so that you can measure out the stevia powder in direct comparison to measuring sugar.

I've yet to see any negative reports or health concerns regarding stevia and only positive potential health benefits. Do yourself a favor (and your family), and if you are currently an artificial sweetener junkie, please consider switching to stevia.

You may try these products:

A Cookbook guide for your Stevia recipes:

Stevia Sweet Recipes: Sugar-Free-Naturally

Stevia: Naturally Sweet Recipes for Desserts, Drinks, and More

The Stevia Cookbook: Cooking with Nature's Calorie-Free Sweetener


Monday, April 20, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge : A Healthy Recipe

1:30 PM by Lilian · 3 comments
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge - is a healthy recipe for reduced-sugar yet nutrient dense. This is a delicious lean body desserts or snacks that always helps to satisfy your sweet tooth while at the same time getting tons of quality nutrition. For those who are doing workouts this is good and yummy.

This is a special version of Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer. If you don't like nuts or peanut butter, you can simply leave out those ingredients and make a chocolate-only version. Pay attention, because there are specific ingredients that make this a lot healthier for you than typical fudge.

However, this dessert / snack is not low-calorie per se, but it is loaded with quality healthy fats, some protein, lots of antioxidants, and is relatively low in sugar (compared with typical fudge or other desserts), while also containing a decent dose of fiber.

But overall, it's a great snack or dessert that helps curb your appetite, fuel your muscles, loads you up on protective antioxidants, and quells that sweet tooth that often makes you overeat on refined sweets.

  • 3/4 cup organic coconut milk (NOT the watered down "light" version which just replaces some of the healthy coconut fat with water...use the real full-fat version)
  • 1 bar (3-5 oz. bar works well) of quality extra dark chocolate (look for at least 70-75% cocoa content on the label to minimize sugar content)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of peanut butter or your favorite nut butter (almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia butter, etc)
  • 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds or other nuts (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp raw wheat germ
  • 2 Tbsp rice bran (usually only available at health food stores)
  • 2 Tbsp whole oats or oat bran
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A little stevia powder to sweeten
Note on coconut milk: don't be afraid of the fats in this... coconut fat is mostly medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are more readily used for energy and also contain a special fat called Lauric Acid, which is extremely healthy and supports the immune system.
Start by adding the coconut milk (cans of organic coconut milk are available at most health food stores and possibly even your grocery store) and vanilla extract to a small saucepan on very low heat. Break up the extra dark chocolate bar into chunks and add into pot. Add the nut butter and the stevia, and continuously stir until it all melts together into a smooth mixture.

Then add the raisins, almonds, wheat germ, oat bran, and rice bran and stir until fully blended. Spoon/pour the fudge mixture onto some waxed paper in a dish and place in the fridge until it cools and solidifies together. Place in a closed container or cover with foil in fridge to prevent it from drying out.

Enjoy small squares of this delicious healthy fudge for dessert and for small snacks throughout the day. This is about as good as it gets for a healthy yet delicious treat!

Even though this is a healthier dessert idea that's lower in sugar and higher in nutrition than most sweet treats, keep in mind that it is still calorie dense, so keep your portions reasonable.


Friday, April 17, 2009

41 Ways To Build Muscles Fast

5:09 PM by Lilian · 3 comments
41 Ways To Build Muscles Fast
Muscle building expert Vince DelMonte has helped over 20,000 skinny guys and consults with fitness experts all around the world on the most critical and supporting elements to build muscle mass and to experience consistent muscle growth.

Vince unmasks his own secrets that he used for building 41 pounds of steel-solid muscle in only six months – without any drugs or steroids, without bogus supplements, and while training less total hours than before.

1. Begin with 3 full body weight training workouts every 48-hours.

2. Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 15 to determine your daily caloric intake if you want to gain weight.

3. Perform only 1 exercise per body part each full-body workout but perform a different exercise for each body part every workout. By the end of the week you’ll have hit each muscle group three times from three different angles.

4. Consume carbohydrates in a 2:1 ratio to protein after your workout in liquid form.

5. Perform each set to muscular failure.

6. Use a training journal and track your progress.

7. Drink at least 4-6 liters of water each day.

8. Vary your rep and set schemes more frequently than any other training variable.

9. Focus on exploding up on the concentric portion of your movement and taking 3-4 seconds for the eccentric portion of your program.

10. Aim to build at least 5-6 pounds of lean muscle mass each month. Anything more will be fat gain.

11. Eat at least 10-15 serving of fruits and vegetables each day.

12. Focus on compound movements for 80% of your workouts.

13. Alternate between dumbbells and barbells every 2 weeks.

14. Only change an exercise when you plateau on two workouts in a row.

15. Enter a fitness model or bodybuilding show or transformation contest to keep you motivated.

16. Follow a program for at least 12-16 weeks before trying your next one.

17. Pyramiding your sets to consistently increase your strength 5% each week.

18. Consume a variety of whole eggs, chicken, lean beef, fish and whole-milk throughout the day for high quality (bioavailable) muscle building protein.

19. Use a training partner for motivation and an extra push to experience faster muscular growth.

20. Never train hungry if you want to build muscle fast.
21. Concentrate your carbohydrates when your body needs them most – breakfast, pre workout and post workout.

22. Ensure you do the squat and the deadlift each week to increase the release of growth hormone and testosterone.

23. Hire a personal trainer if you have never received professional coaching on technique and form.

24. Stretch at least half the amount of time that you lift. If you lift 3 hours a week, schedule at least 1.5 hours of yoga or static stretching.

25. Train a muscle group through it’s entire range of motion to stimulate muscle size.

26. Use a 3-day a week 20-minute interval cardio plan, post-workout, to maximize the muscle to fat ratio while bulking.

27. Train your most underdeveloped muscle group first in each workout.

28. Avoid processed food, packaged food and fast food.

29. Avoid protein bars and any muscle building supplement that has sucrulose, aspartame, or other artificial or natural sweeteners.

30. Get at least 8-hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

31. Don’t be afraid to overload your muscles with maximal resistance and miss your goal reps.

32. Consume a combination of olive oil, fish oil, coconut oil, mixed nuts and natural peanut butter each day to make sure you get ample healthy fats for testosterone and other muscle building hormone production.

33. Take a complete week off after 12-16 weeks of training.

34. Get a spotter to help you with your heaviest set.

35. Have a training program. Never go to the gym without a plan.

36. Perform 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching before each weight training workout.

37. Schedule regular ART-therapy or massage therapy to avoid injuries.

38. Cold shower after every intense weight training workout. It sucks, but it works.

39. Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.

40. The core of your workout should revolve around squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, pull ups, dips and weighted core work.

41. Train with someone bigger and stronger than you. You'll be challenged and motivated to work out harder.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Muffin Top" Workout For Busy Moms

9:06 AM by Lilian · 2 comments
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Fed up with the mommy belly muffin top?

Why not change up your workout routine!

Melt away your “Muffin” by boosting your Metabolism!

Try adding in some new, full body moves that challenge the muscles that have the biggest impact on your metabolism. This will help to give you the calorie burning kick you need to shed the belly fat and help you achieve a flat tummy for summer.
Keep in mind workouts like this alone will not burn the fat covering these muscles.

Body weight moves are an excellent way to get started and can work together with your complete fat loss workouts and supportive nutrition plan to shed the muffin top and allow you to make great progress toward flat abs so you look amazing this summer no matter what you wear.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Improve Your Child's Weekly Spelling Test Scores

Are you having problems with your child or children coping up with their nightly spelling practice? Are you a busy parent and have less time to do this for them? Well, getting a child to practice his spelling words can be a struggle. When done manually it's a slow and tedious process for him as well as for you.

However, worry not because there is always a solution to your problem. With the SpellQuizzer, spelling practice would be fun and easy! SpellQuizzer is a spelling software that you can automate the tedious process, taking up less time for you and for the student. You'll no longer have to struggle to get your child to sit still while you go over his spelling words with him. With SpellQuizzer, students can enjoy practicing their spelling words. SpellQuizzer takes the fight out of the equation.

How does the software works?

Using SpellQuizzer you can enter the child's weekly spelling list and make audio recordings of the words in the list. The software then quizzes the child, playing each word back to him one at a time, checking his spelling as he types in the words. SpellQuizzer corrects him when he types in a word incorrectly, and re-quizzes him on any words he missed once the first pass is completed. Just set up the child's list on Monday, and have him spend no more than five to ten minutes a day letting SpellQuizzer quiz him. By the end of the week he will be ready for his Friday spelling test at school. SpellQuizzer is also ideal for spelling bee preparation.

SpellQuizzer is ideal for:
  • Practicing the words in your homeschool curriculum. Just input the words used in your spelling curriculum you are using and SpellQuizzer will help reinforce your child's lessons.
  • Preparing for spelling bees. You can create practice lists from the preparation materials provided by a spelling bee your child is entering. Also, we will be adding free, downloadable spelling lists for SpellQuizzer, complete with sound recordings, specifically for the purposes of spelling bee preparation soon. Watch our Downloadable Spelling Lists page for new lists soon.
  • Practicing the problem words that your child repeatedly misspells. Everyone has their own problem words that they have difficulty getting right. With SpellQuizzer you can create one or more custom lists of the words that your child struggles with. As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect". SpellQuizzer makes practice easy.
  • Learning words that can not be sounded out phonetically. Dr. Edword William Dolch, PHD identified 315 "sight words" which can not be sounded out phonetically and therefore must be learned on sight. We have all 315 Dolch Sight Words (220 "service words" and 95 nouns) available in free download lists, organized by grade level, for SpellQuizzer at our Dolch Sight Words page. Just download the lists, import them into SpellQuizzer and you're all set. The lists come with pre-made sound recordings just for SpellQuizzer.
Click here to see a video demonstration showing how easy it is to create a spelling list and practice spelling with SpellQuizzer.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

7 Keys To Effective Parenting

11:40 AM by Lilian · 5 comments
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A pictureThe birth of a child changes lives forever. Becoming a parent brings with it several concerns and responsibilities. And, the central concern becomes effective parenting. While parenting comes naturally to most, the many concerns of the modern world and it's fast paced existence make parenting a many tiered concern.

Parenting in simple terms just means loving your child, and teaching him to be a rounded and caring individual. Children need understanding, love, as well as a certain guiding hand which will help them make appropriate choices.

The keys to effective parenting are:
  1. Understand that your child is an individual with the ability to think. Never try and mold a child into what you imagine to be the right mold for him or her. Every child has certain inborn talents and must be given the opportunity to discover their own identity and personality.
  2. Instill in the child a sense of self confidence and trust in you. They must know that at any time they can turn to you for advice and help. Help the child discover themselves, their inner talents and strengths. Keep all avenues of conversation open. Listen to what a child has to say. You will be surprised at how much children know today.
  3. Nurture your child's talents and give them the space and opportunity to fly with the wind and touch the skies. Never try and push a child into a study course or profession they are not comfortable with let the child find its own level.
  4. Reassure the child that he has your unconditional love and support. Your love is not a measure of the child's behavior, performance, or achievements.
  5. Freedom needs limits. Being understanding and lenient does not mean running wild. Children need rules to work under as well as a pre-determined schedule. This instills in them a feeling of security as well as discipline. So, a parent must wield the carrot and stick but subtly not like a military general or great dictator.
  6. The adage, spare the rod and spoil the child is valid. What a parent needs to do is use positive methods to discipline a child. Never beat or abuse a child but devise a way in which a child looses certain privileges when he or she behaves badly or oversteps limits. Decide with the child whether it should be TV privileges, or pizza treats, or movies, or visits to the mall. Many parents find grounded? works well.
  7. Create bonds that a strong and will stand the vicissitudes of time. Be warm, share interests, spend time together, establish routines and rituals, be vigilant and pick up clues when a child is upset or angry. Keep lines of communication open, a child must be able to come and share his troubles and problems with you without hesitation.
Being a parent is not about providing well, giving pocket money, or satisfying material needs. It is about creating love, understanding, and trust. Bonds that are formed in the early years of life will last a life time of good times and bad. It is important for parents to extend a warm hand of friendship.

Take a look also these books for more reference and guidance:

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
Parenting Secrets By Mother Of Five
Positive Parenting


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Five Languages Of Love

4:34 PM by Lilian · 8 comments
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Are you and your spouse speaking the same language? While love is a many splendored thing, it is sometimes a very confusing thing, too. And as people come in all varieties, shapes, and sizes, so do their choices of personal expressions of love. But more often than not, the giver and the receiver express love in two different ways. This can lead to misunderstanding, quarrels, and even divorce.

Learn to speak and understand your mate's love language, and in no time you will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return. Skillful communication is within your grasp!

Dr. Gary Chapman in his international best seller book: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate identifies five basic languages of love and then guides couples towards a better understanding of their unique languages of love:
  1. Quality Time
  2. Words of Affirmation
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch
What speaks volumes to you may be meaningless to your spouse. But here, at last, is the key to understanding each other’s unique needs. Apply the right principles, learn the right language, and soon you’ll know the profound satisfaction and joy of being able to express your love-and feeling truly loved in return.

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