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    Weight Loss Pills: We Delved Deep Into The Science To See If Any Actually Work

    If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve thought about weight loss pills. They’re tantalisingly simple and easy to use: just pop a powerful supp and watch as the fat melts away, right?

    If only. Weight loss pills work if the fundamental principle of weight loss is in place: a caloric deficit. “A calorie deficit is necessary to lose weight,” says Megan Lee, a registered dietician at Gabi Meltzer Dietician. “This is established when the body is using more energy than it is taking in from food. Calorie deficits occur through behavioural changes like increasing energy expenditure through movement or decreasing total calorie intake through dietary modifications. They do not occur from simply ingesting the compounds found in diet pills.” But that doesn’t stop weight loss pills from creeping up and doing the rounds on TikTok, where people swear by its efficacy. The results are more likely from a healthy diet and plenty of movement which contributes to a caloric deficit.

    Nonetheless, we decided to closely investigate the plethora of weight loss pills around to see how they actually work. We chatted with experts and scrutinised the studies to bring you fact-checked information about each supp we could find online that’s popular. Without further ado, the weight loss pills and how they work.

    CLA Safflower

    What it is

    CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid—a fat high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (a.k.a. the good kinds). Safflower is a plant that looks like a dandelion but isn’t. The oil extracted from it is produced by the seeds of the plant, which contains CLA.

    What it does

    Well… not much. According to one 2007 study, CLA supplements could increase fat oxidation (the process by which the body breaks down fats into smaller molecules so they can be used for energy). The study also found that CLA could burn energy during sleep. Sounds promising!

    Does it work?

    The bad news? The study involved less than 50 subjects, which is less than the required amount to really move the needle and conclusively say that this weight loss pill works. Added to that, safflower oil only contains a small amount of CLA—about 0.7 milligrams of CLA per gram of fat. More is probably needed to really induce the effects listed above.

    READ MORE: Can CLA Safflower Oil Supplements Really Help You Lose Weight?   

    Garcinia Cambogia

    What it is

    Ah, the fave weight loss supplement for aeons. This strange-sounding word is actually a fruit commonly grown in India and Southeast Asia. The rind contains a chemical (hydroxycitric acid or HCA) which is where the crux of weight loss claims stem from. It’s been studied for its appetite-suppressant effects, which is why so many weight loss pills contain the extract.

    What it does

    Per studies and reviews, the appetite suppressant effects are said to be what facilitates weight loss. Pretty clear, right – the less you eat, the less your caloric intake, meaning you’d be in a caloric deficit, leading to a slimmer figure.

    Does it work?

    Erm… kind of. The claims that garcinia cambogia works are down to very few robust randomised studies. Only five of these showed any amount of weight loss. In those studies, participants didn’t see the needle move much in the direction of weight loss. “While weight loss may have occurred in some of the studies, most showed no clinically significant reduction in body fat or body weight,” says Lee. “Dietary modification and physical activity remain the most suitable method to alter body composition in the general population.” Added to that, per one expert, your weight loss from taking the supplement is around half a kilo – hardly enough to write home about.

    READ MORE: Exactly What You Need To Know About Garcinia Cambogia Extract For Weight Loss


    What it is

    Made from the bark of an evergreen tree, called Pausinystalia yohimbe. The tree grows in West and Central Africa in lowland forests. From the bark comes yohimbe, and the supplement is used to treat erectile dysfunction as well as weight loss.  

    What it does

    Yohimbe is an alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist, meaning that it enhances the release of both serotonin (the happiness hormone) and norepinephrine (your fight-or-flight hormone). The alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist serves as the crux of where weight loss is thought to happen. Using the receptor, it’s thought that it could block receptors in fat cells which could theoretically result in weight loss. One study looked at 20 obese females who consumed a measly 1,000-calorie diet for three weeks while taking yohimbe. They lost more weight than those in the placebo group. It’s worth noting that the subjects took 5mg of yohimbe four times a day.

    Does it work?

    We’d need more robust studies to confirm if yohimbe works for weight loss or not. Other studies concluded that yohimbe had no significant impact on weight loss.


    What it is

    Berberine is a compound found in many plants, including barberry, goldenseal and goldthread. (Never heard of ‘em? Us neither. We move.) It’s been cultivated and used for over 3000 years in China and South Asia. The parts of the plant barberry have been used in different ways.

    What it does

    Now, the fun part. The possible health benefits come from how it affects enzymes in the bod. It’s been associated with lowering cholesterol, maintaining a healthy heart, controlling blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and helping with the symptoms of PCOS. When it comes to weight loss, it’s thought that the resulting fat loss might come from how it interacts with insulin and the hormones that keep fat cells in check. Per one study, it might increase brown adipose tissue (the good kind) and its activity, leading to potential fat loss.

    Does it work?

    According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the jury is out on this one. Some studies find that it’s effective, while others say it’s not worth your moola. Plus, existing studies featured people with comorbidities like diabetes or fatty liver disease, so any resulting weight loss might be a result of berberine on these existing conditions. What we really need is concrete and reliable studies to link berberine to weight loss.

    READ MORE: Nature’s Ozempic: What Are The Benefits Of Berberine? 

    Psyllium husk

    What it is

    The brown powder, eschewed once for its texture, is making a strong comeback with claims that it could lead to weight loss. A soluble fibre, the husk is used in laxatives and treats high blood sugar, diarrhoea and high cholesterol. It absorbs water fiercely, making you feel fuller for longer.

    What it does

    It’s superpower appears to be that it boosts satiety, making you feel fuller for longer – a powerful technique in weight loss efforts.

    Does it work?

    Proponents claim that psyllium triggers receptors in your intestines, promoting fullness so you’re less likely to eat more. Cue caloric deficit note up top. While this is indeed the chief mechanism of Ozempic, psyllium husk does not work at all in the same way as the drug. Ozempic works in the brain; psyllium husk works in the gut temporarily.

    Scientific evidence is also mixed as to whether or not taking this supplement will result in weight loss. However, upping your fibre intake is a good idea, so use the husk to fill up, but watch that you don’t overdo it. If you’re taking medication, don’t take psyllium before your meds – these could interfere with your medication’s absorption.

    READ MORE: Is Psyllium Husk A Viable Alternative To Ozempic?  

    What it is

    You’ll know this one. It’s one of the most drunk teas in the world with powerful health benefits. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, promoting heart health, boosting the liver and brain and even helping skin glow.

    What it does

    It’s a mainstay in weight loss pills. The main idea: since green tea is rich in catechins and caffeine, these compounds are attributed to its weight loss properties. That’s because caffeine and catechins are known to regulate the hormones that assist in thermogenesis (a kind of fat-burning process). In short, thermogenesis is the process during which calories in your body are used to digest food and produce heat. It’s also thought that green tea suppresses appetite, leading to weight loss.  

    Does it work?

    In one 2005 study, people who took a mix of green tea extract, caffeine and guarana before every meal burned around 179 more calories 24 hours after. However, other studies found that green tea extract had no significant effects. Plus, having too much green tea extract could damage the liver, leading to liver failure. Be very careful with your brew.

    Apple cider vinegar

    What it is

    Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, as it’s called, is a vinegar made from crushed, fermented apples, yeast and sugar. Standard fermentation stuff. It’s used in food and in almost everything else, from curing UTIs to helping heartburn to bloatedness. So it’s natural that we turned to ACV for weight loss.

    What it does

    ACV has high levels of acetic acid. This acid has been shown to improve metabolism and can prevent fat deposition in mice. From there, various studies started rolling in that found ACV can deliver modest weight loss.

    Does it work?

    We’ll let Dr Robert H. Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, say it for us. “In all, the scientific evidence that vinegar consumption (whether of the apple cider variety or not) is a reliable, long-term means of losing excess weight is not compelling.” However, ACV might prevent blood sugar spikes, making you feel better. That’s about it.

    READ MORE: What To Know Before Taking Apple Cider Vinegar Pills To Lose Weight

    What it is

    Green coffee beans are coffee beans that are not roasted. The active chemical in the raw bean, chlorogenic acid, is destroyed when one roasts the bean. It’s thought that this acid is what contributes to weight loss.

    What it does

    A natural antioxidant, it’s thought that chlorogenic acid keeps inflammation in the body at lower levels and could also lower blood pressure. The chemical may work by lowering blood sugar and blocking a fat build-up but studies are yet to validate this claim.

    Does it work?

    When it comes to weight loss, the research is murky. Some claim that when taking green coffee bean extract and a low-calorie diet, you’ll lose more weight than just being in a caloric deficit. But the amount of weight difference isn’t significant enough to support the claim. Plus, green coffee bean extract doesn’t come without its own side effects, ranging from headaches and upset stomachs to heightened anxiety. Use with caution.

    Sea moss

    What it is

    Sea moss, or Chondrus crispus, is a type of algae that grows in Atlantic oceans. It grows in different colours, from purple, white and green and each colour has its own set of benefits.

    What it does

    Sea moss has a long list of purported benefits that should be studied more thoroughly. They contain vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and are reportedly high in live bacteria that support the gut. Because it’s high in fibre, it might work for weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating and leading to that all-important caloric deficit.

    Does it work?

    The research on sea moss is fledgling at best and more needs to be studied before experts can make a definitive link between weight loss and the ocean grub.

    READ MORE: Um, People Are Using Sea Moss For Weight Loss But Does It Work?

    All in all, while weight loss pills could yield results, they’re no replacement for the tried-and-true expert-approved weight loss methods. What that looks like? Regular exercise and a healthier diet. “Taking diet pills may have a small effect on weight loss, but they do not foster positive behavioural changes that ultimately lead to sustained weight maintenance, positive self-esteem or longevity,” says Lee. “Many of the beneficial components of weight loss pills can be taken in through an adequate and varied diet. Building on beneficial habits around food intake, movement and mental well-being is more likely to create a lifestyle that enhances overall health, longevity and acceptance of one’s self.” More

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    You Won’t Believe These 6 Health Benefits Of Homemade Chocolate Cake

    When are peanut butter cookies and chocolate cake healthy? When you’re making them. Bust out a Bundt pan and cook up some perks…

    1. Less Stress

    Measuring out ingredients or kneading dough forces you to concentrate. These mindful moments calm the brain’s emotional centre – and direct blood flow to its impulse control hub. Which means you’ll feel more chilled overall.

    TRY RECIPE: This Beetroot Chocolate Cake Is So Moist It Doesn’t Even Need Icing

    2. Boosted Immunity

    Eeek, you’ve burnt the base! When it happens, focus on the upside: now you, too, can join the #PinterestFail sisterhood! Regularly flipping judge-y thoughts to more positive ones can lower stress hormone levels, which improves cell health and your body’s overall ability to fight off illness.

    3. Enhanced Cognition

    Any way you bake it, mixing up Grandma’s muesli rusks provides great brain benefits. Stringently following a recipe strengthens your procedural memory (a form of long-term recall that allows you to do something you haven’t done in years – you know, the “it’s like riding a bike” cliché). But going rogue – and say, holding the raisins and adding dried cranberries – flexes your smarts and gives your strategic reasoning skills a workout.

    READ MORE: 15 Wellness Journals To Kickstart Your Year

    4. A Healthier Heart

    Moving from counter to fridge and back does not = cardio for the day! But it does engage your muscles, which improves the way your body metabolises sugars and fats. Keep at it for two hours and you’ll net better blood-sugar levels – and, over time, significantly lower “bad” cholesterol. This, in turn, strengthens your ticker.

    5. A Longer Life

    Friends don’t let friends bake alone – at least not if they want to spend their golden years together. Batter-ing up with a loved one can build strong bonds that tack years onto your life. Sharing the fruit(cake)s of your labour is even better: generous acts lower inflammation levels, curbing your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes.

    READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Type 1 Diabetes

    6. A Slimmer Bod

    Isn’t it ironic? Indulging in homemade treats once a week buoys self-control, maintains a healthy-eating motivation (finally, a break from kale!) and prevents the “oh, what the hell” effect that leads to inhaling the whole tray. The key is planning the indulgence. Have one or two brownies warm out of the oven, then feed the rest to friends.

    Sources: Dr Nicole M. Avena, author of Why Diets Fail; Dr Elisha Goldstein, author of Uncovering Happiness; Dr Timothy De Waal Malefyt, Fordham University; Dr Emma Seppälä, Stanford University School Of Medicine. More

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    Here’s How To Make Weight Loss Goals That Will Actually Stick in 2024

    Quick question: how are your New Year’s resolutions coming on? If your answer is a shifty, awkward silence, chances are the goals you set weren’t designed to set you up for success in the first place. Goal-setting can be a powerful tool, but it’s also a specific science. Get it wrong and that dress you’re aiming to fit into is going to stay at the back of your cupboard. But get it right and prepare to tap into a force of motivation that will help you achieve anything you set your mind to. The best part? It’s not hard.

    Achieving Your Weight Loss Goals: Know Your Motivation

    On the surface, this sounds pretty straightforward, but it’s super important to narrow down what actually motivates you. Understanding the benefits of your goals will help you achieve them, says Raeesa Seedat, dietician and spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa. The key to finding those benefits is asking yourself “Why?”. So, if you want to lose weight, ask yourself why. Is it because you want to know what it’s like to walk up a flight of stairs and not be out of breath? Do you want to lower your blood pressure? Or are you just keen to see yourself with a six-pack of abs?

    Whatever your reason, make sure it’s something that has meaning to you; somehow it should better your life and there should be real value in achieving it. If you’re not excited about – and even slightly scared of – your goal, there’s a good chance you won’t stick to it. Once you’ve found your “why”, write it down and look at it whenever you feel like slacking off.

    READ MORE: How To Burn Calories Without Actually Exercising

    Get Smart

    Ever heard the saying, “Work smarter, not harder”? Surprise, surprise, it’s also the ultimate motto on the road map to being your own #goals. SMART is an acronym of the attributes that your winning goal should have. By ticking each one off, you’ll create a clear target to work towards – and achieve. Time to smarten up…

    Be Specific

    When it comes to planning, you can’t be unsure or vague. “A practical way to do this is to change desire into a clear goal,” says Dr Craig Nossel, co-founder of Evia Health. The first crucial step in setting goals is knowing exactly what you want to achieve. Saying, “I want to lose weight” is not good enough. “Your goal needs to be well defined. Instead, identify a specific amount of weight you want to lose, like, “I want to lose five kilos” or “I want to lose 10 percent body fat,” he says.

    READ MORE: Volume Eating: The Pros, Cons And Nuances Of The Weight Loss Approach

    Measure Up

    “There are a number of mistakes people make when goal-setting – mainly setting goals that are vague, unmeasurable or impractical,” says Nossel. It’s important that your goals are able to be measured, so choose your number, whether it’s a weight on the scale, a mark on a measuring tape or a distance you want to run. It could even be a move you want to master, like a pull-up. As long as you can measure your success.

    Make it Attainable

    Making sure your goals are attainable is as important as knowing exactly what you want to achieve. “If your goals are too difficult to attain, then not fully achieving them is most likely going to demotivate you,” says psychologist Jogini Packery. Never run further than a Parkrun? The Soweto Marathon probably shouldn’t be your first race. You have to hit that sweet spot of doable, but challenging. The Soweto 10-kay will still be twice as far as you’ve ever run (challenging), but with training, it’s totally possible. Remember that goals are there to challenge you to be better than you already are, so don’t be afraid to aim for something high, but break that lofty long-term goal up into smaller short-term goals – like running 10 kays, then 21, then 42. Or losing 1.2 percent body fat per month until, four months later, you’ve almost hit your goal of losing five percent! Setting smaller, achievable targets is a great way to keep you motivated because you see results almost constantly.

    READ MORE: How One Woman Lost Half Her Bodyweight – And Kept It Off

    Keep it Realistic

    It’s one thing to dream big, but you also need to be sensible. A 2016 study by Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy found that unrealistic and poorly planned goals are the number one reason people become demotivated. “If, for example, you haven’t trained in months and suddenly go back to training at high intensity five days a week, the exhaustion and DOMS alone will be demotivating,” says personal trainer Aneeka Buys. You may find you skip a day because you’re tired and sore. That day becomes two and next thing you know, you’re back at square one. Instead, start with HIIT two days a week and plan to build up steadily from there.

    Time Yourself

    If your goal doesn’t have a cut-off date, you’re less likely to stick to it. A timeline keeps your eye on the prize. “You have to set a date by which you want to achieve your goal,” says Buys. Not having a time frame makes your goal seem less urgent – and then it becomes something you can put off. Hold yourself accountable by making a commitment, like signing up for a race. If you feel accountable, you’re less likely to become demotivated, says Buys.

    READ MORE: How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

    And Action!

    By now your weight-loss goal should look something like this: I will lose five percent of my body fat by 1 April. What you want to achieve is clear: you’ve set a time frame, it’s measurable, totally achievable and realistic. Now it’s time to map out your plan of action. How are you going to make this a reality? That’s where mini targets come in – things that may be different to your main goal, but will help you achieve it. For example, you may aim to get in four 30-minute workouts per week or meal prep every evening so you avoid the office canteen.

    A week’s worth of exercise and healthy eating? That’s an achievement within itself. But it’s also going to get you closer to that five percent fat loss. “It may seem trivial, but each step counts,” says dietician Raeesa Seedat. By taking the mini steps, you’re making progress that will ultimately lead to your end goal. In her study, Cuddy found that focusing on little bits of improvement was the secret to successful goal planning. By switching your focus to the little achievements you make daily, you’ll keep yourself motivated and before you know it, you’ll be your very own #goals. More

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    4 Easy Exercises You Can’t Ignore If You’re Walking For Weight Loss

    There’s more to good walking form than standing up straight. Proper foot alignment and a powerful push-off keep you walking longer and stronger. First, use this simple test to find out how fit you are, then make good technique second nature with these exercises from Dr Suki Munseli, developer of Dynamic Walking.

    1. Shirt pull

    Why it’s crucial: Lengthens spine to prevent slumping.

    Cross your arms at the wrists in front of your waist and raise your arms, as if you’re pulling a shirt up and over your head. Grow taller as you reach up. Lower your arms, letting your shoulders drop into place. Repeat frequently during a walk to avoid back tightness.

    READ MORE: 18 New Running Shoes To Help You Run Faster And Farther In 2024

    2. Pendulum swing

    Why it’s crucial: Keeps hips lifted for a smooth stride.

    Holding onto something for support, like the back of a chair, balance on your right leg and swing your left leg forward and backward eight to 10 times without touching your foot to the ground. Repeat, this time swinging your right leg.

    3. Heel-toe roll

    Why it’s crucial: Realigns feet and knees.

    Stand with your feet parallel, one shoe-width apart. With your knees slightly bent, roll from heel to toe eight to 10 times, rocking back and forth down the centre of your feet.

    READ MORE: Walking For Weight Loss: Does It Work? Plus, 9 Tips To Get You There

    4. Kick sand

    Why it’s crucial: Increases push-off power.

    Standing tall, scrape the ground with one foot as if to kick sand behind you, like a dog digging a hole. Use your whole leg, from the hip to the butt. Don’t lean forward too much. Repeat six times on each side.

    Here are five ways to burn more fat during your walking workouts. Plus, we’ve got the beginner guide: how to lose weight with running!

    Originally published in Prevention’s Walking For Weight Loss. More

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    How To Burn Calories Without Actually Exercising

    Can one exercise without actually working out? The answer is ‘Yes’! Real talk: According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation Of South Africa, one should get in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week. This brings an array of benefits.

    Firstly, engaging in regular movement enhances physical fitness and boosts overall health.

    It elevates cardiovascular endurance, strengthening the heart muscle and improving blood circulation throughout the body.

    Additionally, working out helps control weight by burning calories and building lean muscles.

    Moreover, it plays a vital role in preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension by regulating blood sugar levels and lowering blood pressure.

    Furthermore, exercise acts as a natural mood booster due to its ability to release endorphins – the feel-good hormones – which reduce stress levels and alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression.

    Saying all of that, in terms of working out, the struggle is a very real thing during the holidays. Sun’s out, and all you want to do is have fun in the outdoors. Motivation to get your booty to the gym is very low. But we have a solution! You can get your minutes in and still have summer fun.

    Here are a few simple tricks you can use to turn your days into simple workouts, without actually exercising.

    1. Take A Hike To Burn Calories

    Climbing a mountain beats another lap of your local park. But varying the elevation will benefit more than your boredom. While walking uphill replicates moves like lunges, the descent is an effective muscle builder, too – because it’s an eccentric (muscle-lengthening) exercise, the result is muscles braking as they resist the pull of gravity. It’s the same action as lowering a weight to the ground against resistance. What’s more, research from the Vorarlberg Institute in Austria found that the descent was almost twice as effective as the ascent at removing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance in hikers. At the risk of sounding like your mum, please do wear proper footwear.

    2. Lighten Up To See More Gains

    Whether your baggage allowance is set by FlySafair or the space in the boot of your car, we suspect your 12kg kettlebell isn’t making the cut. But you don’t need to lift heavy to get results. A Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise study found that exhausting your muscles with a 300-rep set triggers your muscles’ stress response – in a good way. Granted, that’s a lot of reps, but you could balance a book in the other hand, too. So, if you have a bit of weight in your backpack while hiking or walking around – it’s a good thing.

    3. Build Strength On The Beach

    If you’re heading to a stretch of sand in the next few months, swap pounding the pavements for a softer terrain. Sand absorbs more energy than firm surfaces, recruiting more muscles in your legs, as well as engaging more of your core. It could even reduce your risk of injury, with a 2017 study published in the European Journal Of Sport Science finding that women who ran on soft sand experienced less muscle damage and inflammation than those who ran on grass 

    4. Stretching Is Exercise

    Whiling away an afternoon on the picnic blanket? Put that time to good use by giving your muscles a stretch. The Journal Of Applied Physiology reports that stretching a muscle has a similar effect to weight training: both cause micro tears that stimulate your cells to boost growth. Target your quads, calves and hams (no, not the sandwiches).

    READ MORE: What Is Cozy Cardio On TikTok? Trainers Weigh In On The Comfy Workout Trend

    5. Take The Top Down

    Make your holiday hire car a convertible. Studies by Concordia University in Canada found that an hour behind the wheel of a sports car caused a measurable rise in growth hormone, hitting the accelerator on your muscle-building progress, not to mention your tan. Just check your weather app first if you’re staycationing.

    READ MORE: Tone Up The Fun Way With This Strength And Cardio Dance Workout

    6. Strokes Of Genius

    Admittedly, the pool is more about posing than performance at this time of year. But for those brief few laps, swap freestyle for butterfly. It relies heavily on the upper body, fatiguing you faster. Plus, it looks pretty pro. Arms day, done. Leg day? Use the lilo to do some kicks.

    7. Join The Exercise Band

    Gyms might be open, but you can still make gains from your lounge (or garden). Research in the Journal Of Strength & Conditioning rated the chest press against the resistance band push-up and found both to be equally effective. Bands also come in handy for the three-legged race, if you’re inclined to turn your workout into a sports day.

    8. Use The Park As Your Playground

    Don’t fancy sweating it out indoors when themercury is rising quicker than the numbers ona December wedding guestlist? Worry not. Thispark-friendly circuit, designed by PT SamanthaMcGowan (@samsays_pt), is calibrated to deliveras big a lift as anything the gym floor has tooffer. Do 12 to 15 reps of each move, completingas many rounds as possible in 10 mins.

    Triceps Dip

    This one’s a toughie, so start with your knees bent. Place your hands on a bench and lift yourself up, then dip your hips, keeping your elbows tucked. Fancy a challenge? Straighten your legs.

    Decline Push-up

    Master the incline version first, with your hands on a bench and feet on the floor as you push up. Switch to the opposite way when you’re feeling strong.

    Shoulder press

    Shoulder presses require balance, as well as strength, so the seated version makes a slightly easier option. Take one dumbbell (or two) and slowly lift it overhead with your palm facing inwards. Try it standing once that’s nailed.

    9. Take A Break

    After all of some movement, finally, don’t be afraid to do, well, nothing at all. In a University of Tokyo study, those who took three-week breaks within a six-month plan saw similar improvements in muscle mass to those who trained continuously. In that case, we’ll see you next month. More

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    Volume Eating: The Pros, Cons And Nuances Of The Weight Loss Approach

    True or false: Losing weight is all about eating less and burning more calories. The answer? False in some cases. One diet plan, for example, has gained popularity for supposedly allowing you to eat more food while still maintaining a calorie deficit: volume eating.

    High Volume, Low Energy

    Volume eating is a method or approach that promotes eating high-volume, yet low-energy foods, in an attempt to create a calorie deficit without feeling hungry, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, a registered dietitian, CEO of Virtual Nutrition Experts and the author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan. “By eating lower calorie, more voluminous foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, you have the sensation of fullness yet you’re able to keep calories at a minimum,” she explains.

    That said, volume eating may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders or those with food allergies or intolerances, says Jihad Kudsi, MD, an obesity medicine specialist, bariatric surgeon and the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Duly Health and Care. “In these cases, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to assess whether volume eating aligns with your specific health needs and to explore alternative dietary approaches if necessary.”

    Meet the experts: Jihad Kudsi, MD, is an obesity medicine specialist, bariatric surgeon and the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Duly Health and Care. Dina Peralta-Reich, MD, is an obesity medicine specialist and founder of New York Weight Wellness Medicine. Lisa Moskovitz, RD, is a registered dietitian, CEO of Virtual Nutrition Experts and the author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan. Amanda Sauceda, RD, is a registered dietitian and founder of The Mindful Gut.

    Intrigued about whether volume eating can help you lose weight in a healthy way? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about the weight loss method including the pros and cons and how to maximise its effects.

    What is volume eating?

    As the name implies, volume eating is a dietary approach focused on consuming larger quantities of foods that are low in calorie density but high in volume, such as vegetables and fruits, reiterates Dr Kudsi. “It’s a strategy that allows individuals to feel full and satisfied while managing their calorie intake,” he explains.

    How it works

    You prioritise foods with high water and fibre content, such as fruit and veggies, since they take up more space in the stomach, promoting fullness and reducing your overall calorie consumption, explains Dr Kudsi.

    For example, instead of eating a tablespoon of peanut butter, which is about 94 calories, you would opt for a tablespoon of applesauce at about 15 calories, says Amanda Sauceda, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of The Mindful Gut. It’s the same portion size but a sizable difference in caloric value, she explains.

    Does volume eating work for weight loss?

    Maybe. Volume eating can be effective for weight loss since it provides the fullness factor without tons of calories, says Moskovitz.

    “Most voluminous foods promoted through this approach are higher in fiber which can slow digestion, helping you feel fuller for a longer period of time and research shows that volume eating can be effective, especially for those who depend on larger amounts of foods to feel content,” she explains.

    However, it’s also crucial to consider the long-term perspective. Statistics show that within two years, most dieters experience weight regain, says Dr. Kudsi. “While calorie-restricting diets are often successful at initiating weight loss, they frequently fall short in supporting sustained weight management.”

    Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which may include aspects like volume eating or a plant-based whole-food diet, can be pivotal, but it’s also vital to recognise that obesity is a multifaceted condition influenced by genetics and hormones and may require guidance from a doctor, Dr Kudsi adds.

    Pros Of Volume Eating

    You may consume more nutrients.

    Because volume eating requires you to load up on the fruits and vegetables you will have a higher intake of essential vitamins, minerals, gut-friendly fibre and disease-fighting antioxidants, says Moskovitz. To maximise your nutrient intake, Sauceda suggests eating a variety of colors which should equate to a variety of nutrients.

    You’ll likely feel fuller for longer.

    In addition to taking longer to digest, therefore helping with the fullness factor, most fibre-packed fruits and vegetables have high water content which provides even more volume without the calories, in turn keeping you satisfied, Dr. Kudsi explains.

    However, it’s also important to incorporate protein and healthy fats into your diet to help you stay full for the long run, says Dina Peralta-Reich, MD, an obesity medicine specialist and founder of New York Weight Wellness Medicine.

    You may lose some weight.

    To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn and volume eating can help achieve this by allowing you to eat larger portions of food while simultaneously lowering your overall caloric intake, says Dr Peralta-Reich.

    Cons Of Volume Eating

    You may sacrifice quality for quantity.

    A common mistake of volume eating is sacrificing quality for quantity, says Dr Kudsi. “While volume eating can help control calorie intake, it’s essential to choose nutrient-dense options and not rely solely on low-calorie, processed foods,” he explains.

    Remember those popular 100-calorie prepackaged snacks from back in the day? They may technically be lower in cals than a handful of raw nuts (which are loaded with healthy fats and anti-inflammatory properties), but they’re also much less nutritious, notes Sauceda.

    You could experience digestive issues.

    Large amounts of fibrous foods like fruits and veggies can be hard for the body to break down and digest which may cause gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, says Moskovitz.

    To help prevent discomfort, it’s best to introduce high-fibre foods slowly and not all at once, so your body has time to acclimate and adjust, adds Sauceda.

    You may actually end up overeating.

    Eating more low-calorie food is the goal of volume eating, but it can also make eating larger amounts of food a “hardwired habit,” says Moskovitz.

    When there are no low-calorie voluminous foods accessible, overeating other calorie-dense foods may feel like an impulse, so it’s important to always stay mindful of quantity, quality and portion control, she explains.

    You may miss out on key macronutrients.

    High-volume eating generally increases the amount of vitamins and minerals you’re consuming, but it’s also possible to be deficient in protein and fat if not done correctly, says Dr. Peralta-Reich.

    Therefore, you need to be aware of your food choices and be sure to include portions of lean protein like fish, chicken, eggs and turkey, and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, farro and whole grain bread, she explains.

    You may end up over restricting.

    If you find yourself hyper-focused on portion size and calories, volume eating can be problematic and could lead to unhealthy forms of restrictive eating, says Sauceda. In the same vein, if you have a history of eating disorders, volume eating should be avoided or discussed with a doctor or registered dietitian, she adds.

    Tips For Trying Volume Eating

    Eating large volumes of food can be a healthy habit as long as you’re mindful of providing your body with the essential nutrients it needs throughout the day, says Dr. Peralta-Reich. This means including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil) to ensure you’re eating a balanced diet that provides your body with optimal nourishment, she explains.

    Another pro tip? Try pairing fruits and vegetables with heart-healthy, energy-dense foods like extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados, chia seeds, fatty fish, whole grains and cheese, says Moskovitz. These high-fat foods may have more calories, but they’re also important for the absorption of vitamins and they make food more palatable and enjoyable, she adds.

    Additionally, don’t get too caught up in calorie counting, says Sauceda. “Calorie counting is a different strategy and just because a food is higher in calories doesn’t mean you should eliminate it,” she explains. Volume eating is only healthy and helpful if you prioritise variety and get all the necessary daily nutrients, Moskovitz stresses. “When it comes to healthy eating, variety beats volume and quality overrides quantity.”

    Lastly, it’s always best to talk to a doctor or registered dietitian before embarking on a diet, especially if you’re hoping for long-term, sustainable results, says Moskovitz. From there, they can help you build healthy eating habits and create a personalised plan based on your goals.

    The concept of volume eating can be beneficial, but anything in extreme has its pitfalls, says Moskovitz. Your best bet? “Embrace a long-term lifestyle change by focusing on whole, unprocessed foods to not only enhance satiety and nutrient intake, but also to support sustained health and well-being,” adds Dr. Kudsi.

    This article written by Andi Breitowich was originally published on Women’s Health. More

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    How One Woman Lost Half Her Bodyweight – And Kept It Off

    Inspiring stories reach us all the time – stories about grit and perseverance. And this story of how one woman lost half her bodyweight is for sure one of them. Here’s how school teacher Tanya Laubscher lost a whopping 105 kilograms – and kept it off.

    The Gain

    At 157 kg, Tanya Laubscher felt completely out of place in her own body. She’d avoid planes, social gatherings and strategically plotted her movements to avoid looking in mirrors as much as possible. “I think for someone at that size, [there are] struggles and things that they don’t realise. It’s tough to go for a hike with your friends when you’re that big or go on picnics,” says the 34-year-old. 

    Added to that, her health was in jeopardy: she was struggling with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), type 2 diabetes as well as depression. So she saw a doctor who recommended bariatric surgery as the best way to help her lose weight and reclaim her health.

    READ MORE: How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

    How she lost half her bodyweight

    In March of 2020, Tanya’s journey began with bariatric surgery. Thereafter, she needed to completely overhaul her lifestyle to see results and slim down. To start, she worked with a dietician and opted to cut out refined foods, choosing to down protein shakes in the morning and snack on fruit and healthy foods throughout the day. Since her stomach had shrunk due to the surgery, Tanya prioritised protein and vegetables to give her body the nutrients it needed.

    She followed the advice of her psychologist to deal with emotional eating and identified her triggers, then found ways to avoid or work through them. She also needed to stay active to burn fat stores. To do that, she committed to walking at least 10,000 steps daily and cycled 10 kilometres twice a day on her stationary bike. It was no easy feat, but she kept at it. “[It] was quite difficult in the beginning but as you consistently do it, it does become part of your routine. And as you lose the weight, that also becomes a lot easier to do,” explains Tanya.

    READ MORE: How One Personal Trainer Lost 30kg – And Kept It Off

    The gains

    Over a year and a half, Tanya saw the fruits of her efforts and lost 30 kilograms, then 50, then 75. With each milestone, she made a point to celebrate in different ways. For a big reward, she flew to Cape Town to conquer Table Mountain; her very first plane trip. “That was a big one. I’d never flown before because I was too scared of fitting into the seats,” explains Tanya. Other rewards included getting a new piercing or a new tattoo. 

    Now at 105 kilograms lighter and countless hours spent exercising, Tanya is the happiest she’s been. Not only has she lost over half her bodyweight, but she’s happier, too. She no longer avoids mirrors and can hike to her heart’s content. “I walk and can go everywhere and I move freely,” she says. “And I have this joy! Spending some quality time outside, dancing and not hiding away from the world any more – those are the things that make life worthwhile.”

    READ MORE: Walking For Weight Loss: Does It Work? Plus, 9 Tips To Get You There

    Tanya’s weight loss tips

    Try A Specific Diet

    Tanya found that sticking to a specific way of eating helped her shed kilos. “If those are things that are possible for you, I would suggest applying that to your life.”

    Make Yourself Accountable 

    “Tell people what you’re busy with, why you’re doing it and ensure that your goals are set out for you. Most importantly, stick to them.”

    Set Rewards

    “I made sure to reward myself at the end of every milestone that I hit. It was a big thing for me.” More

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    How To *Actually* Lose Belly Fat With Diet And Exercise

    How to lose belly fat remains one of the top searches on our site. Everyone seems to want to get rid of their pooches, for myriad reasons. And while that may not be you, the science warns that the more fat in the belly, the more health risks become apparent. You should never feel the need to lose weight unless you actually want to. But stomach fat in particular can be harmful.

    “Stomach fat is not a good idea,” says Dr Tracy Nelwamondo, a weight loss GP. “We advise to keep abdominal circumference less than 88cm. This is not only for cosmetic reasons, but we find this puts you less at risk of disease.”

    Meet The Experts: Dr Tracy Nelwamondo is a weight loss GP and Roystinn Davids is a personal trainer.

    What are the health risks of belly fat?

    Fat cells in your stomach are made of two main kinds. The one you can see when you squeeze your tummy is known as subcutaneous fat and sits on the outer edge of your organs. The more worrying fat is the kind that lies deep within the abdomen, known as visceral fat. They’re biologically active cells that are linked to a host of chemicals in your body, further linking to a wide variety of diseases.

    Subcutaneous fat is linked to a higher proportion of beneficial molecules, while visceral fat is less so. It’s made up of proteins called cytokines, which when triggered, set off low-level inflammation in the bod. The risk? Heart disease and other chronic conditions, like dementia, asthma and even breast cancer.

    Per Harvard University, a waist circumference of 88cm or higher is considered a sign of excess visceral fat – but it may not apply to you if your overall body size is large. A better indication is an expanding waistline.

    READ MORE: Here’s Why It’s Important To Lose That Belly Fat

    So it’s clear that this kind of fat in your bod is dangerous, losing your gut can be more easier spoken about than done. But we’ve rounded up the expert advice, coupled with research, to determine the exact steps to take to minimise belly fat and keep your body healthy. The good news, per research, visceral fat responds better to diet and exercise than the fat you collect on your butt and hips.

    Exercise for belly fat

    Studies show that in order to nix belly fat, you need to be training for at least 30 minutes on most days. That includes long walks or casual spins on the stationary bike. Added to that, Dr Nelwamondo recommends at least two days of resistance training. That’s because resistance training builds muscle, which in turn works to burn fat – and it’s metabolically more active than fat tissue is.

    READ MORE: The 3 Most Important Changes To Make If You’re Trying To Lose Belly Fat

    Ab workouts won’t melt belly fat

    Keep in mind that it’s simply not possible to train only your midsection if you’re looking to lose stomach fat. Spot-training doesn’t work, and in fact, fat is breathed out from the body when you’re working out and your heart rate is high. So look to workouts where your entire body is working hard and your heart rate is higher. “There is no magic, overnight solution for losing belly fat,” says Roystinn Davids, personal trainer. “The best way to shed excess weight is by making permanent lifestyle changes. This often involves a combination of diet, exercise, stress management and other strategies.”

    Examples of fat-burning exercises include:





    Group fitness classes

    Your belly fat nixing move

    Davids recommends 20 minutes of cardio, followed by strength training. He recommends the following strength training moves to help shift the needle:


    inverted rows



    power cleans

    “Do eight reps of each, for four sets. Rest for one minute in between sets,” says Davids. When training, don’t discount the power of planking. “A plank is Ideal for losing belly fat because it engages multiple muscles at the same time, increasing metabolic rate and benefiting core strength,” he says.  

    READ MORE: Try This 7-Minute Fat-Blasting Workout

    Eating for less belly fat

    “Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats,” says Davids. “Choosing healthy options like these can make it easier to ensure you get the proper amount of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.”

    Eliminate processed food

    While that’s easy enough to do, indulging in processed foods like chips and sodas should be avoided when trying to eliminate stubborn belly fat. “Generally, better eating always consists of incorporating fibre and protein and reducing ultra-processed foods, keeping them as an indulgence in moderation instead of making them a daily habit,” warns Dr Nelwamondo. Also, look at your hydration levels and make sure you’re not dousing your system with sweetened drinks, which spike your glycaemic load and allow fat deposits to collect.

    Get specific with your intake

    Per the American Diabetes Association, there are also specific tweaks you could make to ensure you’re eating just enough to lower your risk of holding onto belly fat. That includes:

    Keeping the total fat to only 20 to 30 percent of your overall calorie intake (calorie tracking apps like My Fitness Pal help with this)

    Keeping saturated fat to less than seven percent of your overall calorie intake (watch the fries!)

    Limiting harmful trans fats, found in doughnuts and other fried foods.

    This means that if your daily caloric intake is at 2000, 700 calories should come from fat (about 77g) and only 140 from saturated fat (around 15g). Added to this, make sure to prioritise protein in your diet. Per observational studies, people who eat more protein have less abdominal fat than those with a low-protein diet.

    READ MORE: 5 Ways To Burn More Fat During Your Walking Workouts

    Lifestyle tips for excess belly fat

    Quit smoking

    Seriously! Even vaping moves the needle towards a larger waistline. Per studies, heavy smoking increases insulin resistance and is associated with increased fat deposits in the midsection. In another study published by PLOS One, authors note that among smokers, there appears to be “more metabolically adverse fat distributions”. Translation: the heavier the smoker you are, the more harmful your fat can be.

    Sleep well

    Never getting to sleep at a reasonable time? If you always find yourself in sleep debt, this could be one thing that is contributing towards your expanding waistline. Per one study, a lack of sleep majorly boosts the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the hormone leptin, which suppresses your appetite. The result? You’re constantly hungry, leading to overeating.

    Another 2022 study found that among people who slept only four hours a night had a nine percent increase in subcutaneous fat and an 11 percent increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to people who got nine hours of shut-eye.

    READ MORE: Is Your Sleep Schedule Making You Fat?

    Boost your mood

    Per studies, people with larger bellies have an increased risk for both anxiety and depression. Plus, another study found that the older you get and the more body fat you accumulate, the less mental flexibility you’ll have. That mental flexibility refers to reasoning, thinking laterally and problem-solving.

    It goes the other way, too: long-term stress is linked to increased abdominal fat. There are tons of ways to find your way to a calmer – and hopefully slimmer – bod. Try meditation, journalling, exercise (it really does wonders) and delegating more tasks.

    The good news? It turns out that people who meditate are less likely to be obese and have less belly fat, per one study. That might be because getting zen lowers cortisol levels and regulates emotions, leading to less emotional eating. More