Top 11 Tips to Look and Feel Better This Summer, summer workout tips, diet advice, healthy living
Top 11 Tips to Look and Feel Better This Summer

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I know, I know -- who makes an article with 11 tips and not 10? Well, I had a hard enough time getting down to the top 11. I felt there was absolutely nothing else to cut.

Anyway, summer is around the corner, and chances are you aren’t looking or feeling your best. You want to get in shape, but like most you’ve put it off again and again since January. The following are some changes you can make that will not only improve your look in a hurry, but your health as well. Everything on this list is designed to optimize your metabolism and turn you into a fat burning machine.

USDA Organic1Go Organic. Try to purchase and consume only 100 percent organic foods. Organic foods have been found to have significantly higher amounts of nutrients than conventionally grown food. Organic farmers do not use chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides. Eating organic foods ensures your food has not been genetically modified or produced with some of the 15,000 chemicals available. Buyer beware: look for the USDA Organic seal (right). If this seal isn’t on the product, it’s not certified 100 percent organic.

2Do Not Consume Trans Fat. Any food containing: “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the ingredients list contain trans fat. These manmade fats are in thousands of products. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading food labels. However, do not be fooled by products that claim “zero trans fat.” Showing the power that the edible oil and processed food industries have, the FDA agreed to allow food labels to list trans fat as zero, if it contains a half a gram or less. And yes, small amounts of trans fat will yield negative consequences over time.

Decades of research show the consumption of trans fats to be detrimental to health. As early as the 1940s, researchers found a strong correlation between cancer, heart disease and the consumption of hydrogenated fats.

What are trans fats? They are poison in our food supply. “The latest government study confirms that trans fat is directly related with heart disease and increases LDL cholesterol. Because of that, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, declared there is no safe amount of trans fat in the diet.” There should be a warning on food made with this stuff like there is on nicotine products. It’s that bad for you, says Dr. Jeffery Aron, a University of California at San Francisco professor of medicine, and one of the nation’s leading experts on fatty acids and their effect on the body.

USDA Organic3Do Not Consume Fructose. This garbage is found in everything from soda to cereal. It’s literally in thousands of products. The “fat carb” has been in our food supply for more than 35 years. We’ve been led to believe that fructose from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is akin to naturally occurring sugar, the same that’s found in fruit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fructose from HFCS is not the same as the molecule from sucrose (table sugar), or fruit leveulose. Is it any wonder they have worked so hard to link HFCS to something natural and healthy like fruit?

Russ Bianchi, a pharmacologist and toxicologist, explains: “There is no safe form of fructose available from any source, unless already existing in an unprocessed apple or other piece of fruit. The science is known and epidemiologically proven.”

Between 1970 and 1990, HFCS consumption increased 1,000 percent, and today represents 40 percent of the sweeteners added to foods and beverages. It is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States. Is it any wonder why obesity is an epidemic? One of the main ingredients in our food supply not only converts to fat when we consume it, but it facilitates fat storage. And Americans as a whole are eating more and more and more.

4Avoid Soy Products. We have been led to believe that soy is a health food. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Poisonous Plant Database, which contains references to the scientific literature describing studies of the toxic properties and effects of plants and plant parts, lists 288 records under soy. The deleterious effects soy has on our bodies are caused by several different substances; we’re going to go over just a few.

One of the substances contained in soybeans is goitrogens. These are naturally occurring and interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is an ever-increasing problem for those who consume soy. The more soy you eat, the more at risk for slowing your metabolism.

Another nasty substance contained in soy that can inflict damage on your body is called phytoestrogens. Isoflavones are examples of phytoestrogens, and are in many plants, with the highest concentration being in soy beans. Phytoestrgens, although not hormones, are very similar and can bind to estrogen receptor sites and have been shown to cause negative effects. This nasty substance’s ability to decrease testosterone has been shown in several studies.

Coconuts5Consume Coconut Oil. Unless you’ve been in a vacuum, you’re aware that the U.S. has what’s called a weight problem. As a matter of fact, if you’re born in this country your chance of being overweight is almost 70 percent. One of the great benefits of coconut oil, specifically the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) it contains, is its ability to increase energy expenditure. In other words, it increases your metabolism.

Unlike long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), MCFAs are processed very easily by the body. When they are consumed, MCFAs are absorbed directly into the blood stream from the small intestine and go right to the liver. Once in the liver, they are easily burned as fuel. Because of their size and the ease with which they are processed, MCFAs are not readily stored as fat. On the contrary, because of their size, LCFAs are not as efficiently processed, and the body prefers to store them in fat cells.

The metabolism-boosting effects of MCFAs have been known for decades and are heavily documented through research.

In one study, researchers compared the thermogenic effect between MCFAs and LCFAs after single meals. The meals were 400 calories, and consisted entirely of either MCFAs or LCFAs. The thermogenic effect of MCFAs over six hours was three times greater than that of LCFAs. Researchers concluded that as long as the calorie level remained constant, substituting MCFAs for LCFAs would result in weight loss.   

The main reason for this is that polyunsaturated fats suppress thyroid function, which decreases the metabolic rate. Soy oils are the worst offenders because of the goitrogens (anti thyroid substances) they contain. This is what happens to us. Is it any wonder the obesity epidemic is so bad, when our consumption of vegetable fats has increased more than 400 percent?

Coconut oil is the most saturated of all fats. Saturated fat has three subcategories: short chain, medium chain and long chain. Coconut oil contains about 65 percent medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). The saturated medium chain lipid lauric acid, which comprises more than 50 percent of coconut oil, is the anti-bacterial, anti-viral fatty acid found in mother’s milk. The body converts lauric acid into the fatty acid derivative monolaurin, which is the substance that protects adults as well as infants from viral, bacterial or protozoal infections. This was recognized and reported as early as 1966.

Burger and fries6Absolutely No Fast Food. The foods served at these establishments are among the worst you can consume. It pains me to refer to what they sell as food because it is so far removed. The products they sell contain trans fat, soy, monosodium glutamate, fructose, polyunsaturated fat, artificial flavors, nitrates and a whole host of other things that will wreak havoc on your body and slow your metabolism.

Anyone who questions avoiding fast food needs to rent the movie “Super Size Me.” Morgan Spurlock, the movie’s creator, ate only at McDonalds for one month. His transformation in this short time is shocking. He gained 28 pounds and showed signs of depression. However, while he was eating his food, and for a short time after, the depression would subside like his body was addicted to the chemicals in the food. The worst part of the movie is that even after seven months of diet and exercise Morgan hadn’t lost all his weight. Artificial ingredients used in processed foods will not only make you fat, they’ll keep you that way.

7Avoid Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). It is an excitotoxin used as a flavor enhancer. This chemical adversely affects the brain. MSG is also a fat partitioning agent, which means it causes food to be stored more readily as fat. In fact, the chemical used to fatten animals up in obesity studies is MSG. When purchasing food, beware: MSG is also added to foods in disguised forms like natural flavor, spices, yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and more.

8Eat Multiple Times Per Day. Eat at least four meals per day. Ideally, you should eat every three to four hours, which would be six times a day. The main reason for this is to keep your insulin levels from spiking. Insulin is the fat storage hormone. The higher the insulin levels are, the more fat you store. Higher insulin levels also turn off the fat burning enzymes. Eating multiple times per day will keep cravings at a minimum because hunger is kept in check.

9Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been referred to as a miracle fat, and with good reason. The correlation between so many of today’s diseases and a deficiency, or in some cases a complete lack, of these fats in Americans’ diets is very strong. From our brain to our heart to our skin, the benefits that consuming Omega-3 fatty acids has on our bodies is indisputable.

Other positive effects of Omega-3:

  • Fights heart disease
  • Fights depression
  • Decreases risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death
  • Decreases triglyceride levels
  • Decreases the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Protects a baby’s brain
  • Prevents and treats cancer
  • Improves immunity
  • Reduces premature births
  • Reduces risk of arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Good Sources of Omega-3 include wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and trout. You can also use quality supplements like Carlson’s.

Curls10Start A Weight Training Program. This is exactly what you need to do if you’re overweight or out of shape. As a matter of fact, if you had to choose only one type of exercise because of time constraints, weight training would be it by a long shot.

Muscles burns fat as fuel and drives the metabolism. The less muscle we have, the slower our metabolism, and vice versa. As we age we naturally start to lose muscle. The older we get the more muscle we lose. The only way to preserve or build muscle, which is what you really want and need to do to stay strong and get lean, is through weight training. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn as fuel 24/7.

11Make It A Year-Long Commitment. Why stop when summer’s over? You mean to tell me you’re going to work to get in shape and be more healthy when the weather is warm and then give it up for the winter? Where’s the logic in that? Just remember it will get harder and harder to get back in shape as the years go by. It’s much easier and much healthier to maintain than to try and get it back every year.

So get off your lazy butts, eat right and weight train at least two days a week. That’s really not that big of a lifestyle change, and the benefits will be enormous.

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