body fat

  1. The right workout regimen

    A little exercise goes a long way

    Sometimes, less is more -- and that can even be true when it comes to exercise, especially if you're just getting started on a new workout regimen.

    Just like you can't expect your car to go from zero to 80 in just a few seconds (unless you have a much better car than I do), don't expect to transform yourself from a couch potato into a gym rat overnight.

    That could actually backfire on you. (Now that sounds more like a few of the cars I've owned over the years.)

    In one new study, sedentary senior women put on a six-day workout program actually did no better over four months than sedentary senior women given either a two-day or four-day workout  regimen instead.

    And by one important measure, the women who got the most exercise actually did worse.

    By most measures, however, women in all three groups had the same basic improvements in fitness. They all had better strength and more endurance, and they all saw drops in levels of body fat despite making no dietary changes.

    The only real difference was in how many calories they burned each day. You know how it is -- the more you burn, the more weight and fat you'll lose.

    In this all-important category, the biggest benefit went to women on the four-day workout plan. By the end of the study, they were burning an extra 225 calories a day, not counting the calories burned during the exercise itself.

    The women who worked out twice a week burned an extra 100 calories a day.

    But women who were on the six-day workout regimen went in the opposite direction: They actually held on to an extra 200 calories a day.

    Why? The study doesn't specifically answer that question, but I think they were just plum beat.

    The women who worked out two and four times a week told researchers they were feeling so good they made other changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away. I bet they ate healthier too.

    The women on the six-day plan, however, didn't report exhaustion -- but they showed signs of being tuckered out and pressed for time. They were actually more likely to drive instead of walking and less likely to use the stairs.

    So overall, I still think it's important to exercise or at least get some physical activity six days a week. But if you're just starting out after years of a sedentary lifestyle, don't wear yourself out by overdoing it.

    Start with a three- or four-day workout regimen and gradually work your way up instead.

    And for more on the benefits of regular exercise -- especially for men -- keep reading.

  2. Foods that will ruin your mood

    When I get a patient facing depression, one of the first things I do -- before I run a single test -- is ask what they've been eating.

    And most of the time, the answer to that question tells me everything I need to know -- because people who eat garbage usually end up with a mood down in the dumps.

    This food-mood connection has been proven time and again. And now, a new study out of Europe on nearly 9,000 people finds that a steady junk-food habit can boost your risk of depression by up to 51 percent.

    The two specific categories with the strongest links to depression were fast food like burgers and pizza and processed pastries such as donuts and croissants.

    It didn't take much, either, because the researchers say patients with even a moderate junk habit had a higher risk of depression than those who ate better foods.

    The only flaw here is that the consumption levels were tracked using a food frequency questionnaire -- a fairly weak form of research that relies on people to recall not only what they ate, but how much and how often they ate it.

    And, as you might imagine, people have a tendency to lie on those things to make it seem like they have better habits than they really do.

    Still, there's something to this -- because it's been proven by stronger studies, and it's not hard to see why. Junk food is completely lacking in the nutrients your body needs to function... especially your brain.

    What's more, empty carbs can cause your sugar levels to fluctuate wildly -- elevating your mood briefly, and then bringing it crashing back down.

    And let's not forget that many people have hidden or undiagnosed food sensitivities that cause or worsen depression and other mood disorders -- and the ingredients and chemicals used in junk food are often the culprit.

    Junk in the diet also creates body fat -- and excess body fat can cause your hormones to go haywire. And yes, hormonal imbalances are also a major cause of depression.

    I've found that any number of supposedly mental disorders can be cured, or at least dramatically improved, through better diet -- including depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

    From food to drink -- I've got something brewing next that you definitely want to see. Keep reading!

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