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New Years Resolution, Five Quick Tips to Jump Start Your Diet
If your clothes are fitting tighter and the numbers on the scale are escalating this time of year, you're not alone. Research indicates that most peoples' body weight and body fat is higher during the winter months due to increased caloric intake and decreased physical activity. All those Holiday parties and skipped workouts do take their toll. What can you do about it? What better way to usher in the New Year than to clean up your diet? Here are five healthy diet tips to jump start your diet and make 2008 your leanest year yet.

1. Control the Carbs.
A preponderance of studies have shed light on the key role of dietary carbohydrates in controlling body weight and body fat for many people. Why carbohydrates and not fat? Because emerging research has shown that carbohydrates have a dominant effect over fat. The key is insulin, a potent hormone that increases after carbohydrate meals, blocking fat breakdown and promoting fat storage. So put another way, dietary carbohydrates tell your body what to do with dietary fat and insulin is the signal. When carbohydrates are low in the diet, insulin is low and the body burns predominantly fat from both the diet and from body stores for energy. When carbohydrates are high, insulin levels are increased and the body predominately burns carbohydrates. In the last few years, more than a couple dozen studies have shown that when people are instructed to reduce carbohydrate they lose more weight and more body fat than individuals who focus on restricting dietary fat. So Tip #1 is don't overeat carbohydrates and make attempts to minimize foods that cause an insulin spike like processed cereals, pastas, breads, any type of sugar, and high carbohydrate desserts.

2. Add a Thermogenic to Your Diet Plan.
With more than two-thirds of adults classified as overweight in the U.S., it is not surprising there is a huge market for weight loss products, often referred to as thermogenics. Because a decrease in thermogenesis has been shown to contribute to obesity, these products potentially play an important role in fighting obesity and shedding body fat. The next generation thermogenics with the most promise are formula based products that contain multiple ingredients targeting various metabolic pathways involved in weight control. Combining the right ingredients results in more profound and consistent results than single compound products. Some of the best products are using high quality ingredients such as green tea or green coffee extract, caffeine, caralluma fimbriata, glucomannan, razberi-k, Mucuna pruriens, CLA, chromium, oolong tea extract, and vinpocetine. Thermogenics should not replace sound diet and exercise habits, but a good formula-based supplement can help jump start a sluggish metabolism so consider this another weapon in your attack on body fat. My personal choice '" any of the Tetrazene products from BioQuest.

3. Drink Plenty of Water.
On a weight basis, our bodies are about 65% water and our muscles are closer to 80%. Adequate water intake is an absolutely critical aspect to a healthy weight loss program. When cells are dehydrated, it can compromise biochemical reactions necessary for healthy functioning. For starters, in a recent study in our laboratory we had subjects decrease fluid intake and exercise until they lost 2.5% of their body weight. This mild level of dehydration was enough to significantly impair resistance exercise performance. There is also evidence that drinking water helps burn calories. In one study, metabolic rate increased transiently by 30% after drinking 500 mL of water in men, and the increased calories burned came from fat. The other benefit of drinking water is that it temporarily fills the stomach and this can help curb hunger so you eat less. How do you know if you are drinking enough water? The color of your urine is the best gauge. If your urine is dark, you need to drink more. If your urine is clear, you are on the right track.

4. Consider a Meal Replacement.
The use of meal replacements to assist in weight management has been examined in several studies. Meal replacements can include shakes, powders, or bars that replace a normal meal. They are easy to use, require little if any preparation, and most importantly they provide structure to the daily eating plan. It is estimated that as many as 15% of adults are using meal replacements as a strategy for losing weight. In the longest study to date '" 5 years, overweight subjects who consumed a meal replacement shake lost weight (about 10 pounds) compared to a group of control subjects who gained about 15 pounds over the same period. Other controlled studies of shorter duration have also shown that meal replacements are an effective strategy for weight loss. The value of meal replacements is that it changes behavior, and for some people the structure of having a prepared meal provides the needed motivation to reduce calories and enhance weight loss. The nutrient composition of a meal replacement is another important consideration. You should look for meal replacements with a high quality protein source such as whey protein, and it should contain a good source of other important vitamins and minerals to ensure you meet all your daily requirements. An effective meal replacement also has to taste good; otherwise you will never stick with it. A great meal replacement product that combines superior nutritional value and exceptional taste is the Supreme Protein Bar. You won't believe the taste and how easy it can be to lose weight in 2008.

5. Get a Little Protein at Each Meal.
Skipping meals is a common tool for dieters to reduce calories, but it can backfire. The problem is when you go a long time without eating, glucose levels in the blood will fall and eventually trigger a cascade of powerful chemical reactions that stimulate appetite. The strong drive to eat that ensues is so intense it will often lead to a binge. A better approach is to keep on a more routine feeding schedule that includes a little protein throughout the day. This is also the ideal approach for stimulating muscle growth. A recent study showed that protein supplementation between meals maximized muscle anabolism compared to 3 square meals alone as shown by a significantly greater nitrogen balance over a 16 hour testing period. Protein is also more thermogenic than carbohydrate and fat. Research shows that as much as 25% of the energy in protein is burned to digest and assimilate the protein. To boost your metabolism while feeding muscles what they need, consider adding a protein shake between meals to optimize nitrogen balance and muscle growth.