Fiorella DiCarlo's Take Your Body to the Next Level

Body Sculpting, Weight Loss and Your Best Body EVER!

Saturday, February 14, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Not Such a Sweet Surprise

Have you all seen these commercials on TV about high fructose corn syrup and how it’s just like sugar and good in moderation? I thought I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit. With the Corn Refiner’s Association backing the commercial, we should all take a good look at what there trying to sell.

Most common types of High-Fructose Corn Syrup are: HFCS 90 (mostly for making HFCS 55), approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose; HFCS 55 (mostly used in soft drinks), approximately 55% fructose and 45% glucose; and HFCS 42 (used in most foods and baked goods), approximately 42% fructose and 58% glucose.

Many studies have shown the negative effects of HFCS, while new studies also claim there is no difference in consuming HFCS and all the other sugars. Fructose, of course, is the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit. So what do you make of all this? I'll tell you everything I know.

Consumption of HFCS has been linked to obesity when it taking in high amounts as it is in a typical American diet. Would it cause more harm than other sugars like sucrose, glucose etc? As much as the corn refiner’s association would like you to believe it does not cause more harm, studies have shown that there is more to the story.

According to the University of Florida, researchers fed rats on sucrose, fructose and glucose for six months. All three groups did not show weight gain, high blood sugar, leptin levels or cholesterol. However, the group that was fed fructose had high triglycerides in their blood.

Next, the the same rats were fed a high fat diet for two weeks and given leptin shots (which should have reduced their appetite and therefore their intake). The fructose- free rats did respond by eating less but the fructose fed rats did not. The fructose fed rats became leptin resistant, which is what happens in obesity. How does this happen? The high triglycerides in the blood prevents leptin from signaling the brain properly to reduce appetite, so you eat more. In addition fructose is metabolized by the body differently than other sugars and is stored as fat much more quickly.

To simplify high fructose consumption makes you gain more weight when you eat a high fat diet. Can you have fructose in moderate amounts and not gain weight when you eat a balanced low fat diet ? Most likely, no. The problem is that that most Americans consume excessive amounts of HFCS, it is found in almost all processed food , soda and baked products. So what about fruit? Fruit is packed with vitamins and fiber, which is essential to good health. Very rarely do you find that people eat an excess of fruit.

The best remedy is to eat foods that are low in sugar and that generally means eating less processed foods. No one wants to take sugar out of their diet completely but moderation and a clean, lean diet is essential for optimal health.

Start fresh, go through your kitchen cabinets and clear out the soda and most of the packaged foods. HFCS came into the American diet in the 1970s, which consequently is when the obesity rates began to rise. What do you think people ate before the processed foods? It’s possible to find tasty alternatives to processed foods, don’t be lazy. You can have your cake eat it too, in moderation.


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Monday, January 19, 2010

Great Skin From the Inside Out

I know we live in a quick fix culture it. But if you want something you have to work to get it. Most people will just complain about things they want to change but are too lazy to do something about it. Some things are more easily remedied than others an skin care is one of those things that can be regulated.

I believe anyone can have better skin than they have now. Not all skin is created equal but with proper nutrition and care, we could all look better in six weeks. A proper diet, rich in nutrients and hydration will not only keep your skin looking fresh but it will be able to heal and recover faster when problems flare up. I have always had problems with my skin and can vouch for a nutrition-skin connection.

Next time you go to grocery store, shop for skin care products in the produce and fruit aisle. I am not joking, look for bright colors in fruits and veggies to help repair your skin. Consume unprocessed foods with no preservatives and your skin will thank you.

Shopping list to feed your skin:

Tomatoes- Loaded with lycopene and can protect you against sunburn. Please do not skip SPF! Chop them up for salads or they are great when used as a sauce.

Nuts- High concentrations of omega –3 fatty acids can hydrate the skin to lessen the appearance of wrinkles.

Fish- In particular salmon, has been part of Dr. Perricone’s skin diet. Again omega-3 fatty acids will keep your skin firm.

Red meat, kefir and beans- they are all high in zinc, which helps build collagen. Keep the meat lean and drink kefir or yogurt as an elixir.

Spinach- Leafy greens reduce the risk of skin cancer and the high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin keeps skin plump.

Berries- Blueberries, strawberries etc are all high in Vitamin C which is acts like an antioxidant in the body to grab onto free radicals in your body. Diets high in Vitamin C are also associated with less skin dryness and wrinkling.

Green Tea- One of the most powerful antioxidants around, it fights free radical damage and inflammation associated with aging. Drink up or take a supplement.

Fiber- Keeping your pipes clean helps get rid of toxins that can accumulate in your body and show up on your skin.

Remember, to get full benefits of these foods, limit alcohol and stop smoking. Wear SPF every day, rain or shine and use bronzer instead of the sun. You will have glowing skin in no time.


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Sunday, November 23, 2008

This Holiday, Stuff the Turkey and Not Yourself!

There are so many stresses that come with the holiday seasons. You are busy at work, trying to budget gift purchases, running around shopping and cooking for your family. Once turkey day comes around you have enough problems keeping your Uncle John from having one too many, your mother from breaking into tears from something you said and your sister bringing up a fight you had with her ten years ago, the last thing you want is to count calories.

Besides getting your family muzzles, try these Holiday tips to keep one less worry away: weight gain.

1. Add about 20 more minutes to your physical activity to you day three days before and after you holiday feast.

2. Do not start your meal starving. Eat small, healthy snacks throughout the day, some fiber or protein like a piece of cheese or hardboiled egg with an apple.

3. Don’t waste your calories on mindless eating while your yimmer -yammering with your family. Chips add up before you even know what you ate. Was it worth it? Stick to the foods you love.

4. If you are invited to a party, bring a dish you know is healthy. You host will thank you for the lovely gesture.

5. Eat about 200 calories less per day three days before and after the holiday feast. Choose beverages wisely. High sugar eggnog or alcoholic drinks are a no-brainer, but are they worth it? A slice of pie could be better.

6. Go easy on the alcohol. Most people lose their inhibitions with food much more easily after knocking down a few.

7. Keep yourself hydrated with water or a low cal drink, sometimes thirst is misinterpreted as hunger.

8. Let the meal last an entire day. Eat like a European; don’t down the entire meal in 20 minutes. Eat appetizers then stop relax, then eat main course stop-relax, etc. This way you won’t eat twice. Eat your dessert toward the end of the party with coffee or tea.

9. Don’t give yourself a guilt trip if you go a little overboard- your family already gives you enough agida.

10. Quality, not quantity is the goal. You don’t want to deprive yourself of the pecan pie with homemade stuffing so eat less of the chips. Everything in moderation.

Having a little taste of everything can also be a good way to keep yourself in check. Instead of having that second helping of potatoes, cleanse your palette and have little of something else. You will feel more satisfied and you will take in fewer calories.

Have a Happy Holiday!


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

French Women are Thinner

I just came back from spending two weeks in France. The first stop was Paris then to Nice and the French Riviera. The general view of the lack of overweight women in France is true. While I was there I allowed myself to indulge in all the tasty treats that the French had to offer and I realized that I did not gain an ounce while I was there.

To be fair, my French diet was accompanied by intensive sightseeing which consisted about 2-4 hours of walking per day. Therefore that entire baguette I ate for lunch did not make a dent in my weight. I did notice some great habits that the French have that you can incorporate into your diet that will help with weight loss.

They do spend hours eating- When they sit down to a two hour lunch or dinner, they do not eat more food than normal, they just take longer to eat it. Taking it slow and allowing yourself to eat slowly, keeps you full longer.

There is no snacking between meals- Very rarely do the French eat between meals. Another beauty of the long dinner is that here is no time to snack in between. There are also several flavor components to each meal, that virtually every craving is satisfied.

They do not stack their sandwiches- We come from a super size culture, where more is is better. In France the bread is phenomenal, from the traditional baguette to crusty grainy breads or great olive fugasse. When you make a sandwich though there is a thin layer of eats or eggs or tuna, but the bread remains the main factor. The best meals we had were assembled by ingredients we found in markets and ate at home.

There are several flavors in every dish- A great example off this is a Nicoise Salad. It is indigenous to the south of France but can be found everywhere in France. It is typically a large salad filled with vegetables, tuna in olive oil, olives and hard boiled eggs. The textures and flavors in this one meal is very satisfying and filled with fiber and protein.

Try these tips in making your next sandwich at home, they offer bursts of flavors and fewer calories:
  • Choose a great crusty graining bread and pull out inside, unless you are using sliced bread.
  • Choose your protein, salami, tuna, chicken or even a hard boiled egg. Add only one thin layer of any of the proteins.
  • Dress your sandwich with tapenade, grilled peppers or marinated eggplant.
  • Add the egg white of a hard boiled egg to any sandwich, trust me I TRIED IT.
The secret is to experiment with powerful flavors rather than quantity. It will be more pleasurable and much more satisfying. Take it slow and savor every bite. VIVA LA FRANCE!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall’s Most Fabulous Fruit: The Fig

Late summer and fall brings us one of the most ancient and gorgeous fruits: Ficus Carica, also known as the FIG. For me the fig is a symbolically poetic fruit, from its ability to perish so quickly to its succulent and colorful appearance. As a child my father and uncles would all have fig trees in their gardens and every year their bounty would be well awaited.

Just before the chill of winter would set in we would all chip in to preen and wrap these huge trees in black garbage bags and tie up with ropes. The tree is a mild climate fruit, known to the Mediterranean and now California, but to the Italian Americans in New Jersey, their climate restrictions were not going to stop them from growing their figs.

I eat them every chance I get because I know soon there their season will end, that is part of the lure they have over me. In Positano, on the Amalfi Coast I had my most pristine fig. It was large and plump and when open exploded with gorgeous shades of red and delicious edible seeds. As with all my food obsessions I seek more reasons to eat them so I do research on the nutritional benefits of figs to justify my craze. I found that they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber and have been known for centuries to relieve constipation, aid in digestion and help with anemia. Recent studies also indicate that a compound found in figs help fight cancer cell growth.

Greeks and Romans have always known of the benefits of this fruit and it was part of their diet. The fruit is full of iron, potassium, beta carotene and magnesium. It has been said that the nutrients in figs is comparable to breast milk. A phytochemical called ficin- found in figs promotes the breakdown of proteins and also aids in liver health. This special fruit has tons of nutritive qualities and are absolutely delicious

When you do get your hands on figs from Black Mission, Calimyrna (which have yellow skins) to Smyrna, you have many ways to add them to your diet.

You can bake figs in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, and then they can be used as toppings on ricotta cheese or cottage cheese.

Cut them up and with some balsamic vinegar make a crostini on whole wheat cracker.

Prosciutto wrapped figs are great snacks.

Braising with figs in various meat dishes

Add figs to baked products as a substitute for sugar

Take the opportunity to enjoy these mythic fruits before they are all gone. September is when you will find them everywhere. Store them in a cool place but eat right away and do not store them for more than two days, because they deteriorate quickly. Eat them skin and all or peel if you prefer. Dried figs are good but add more sugar to your diet. Fresh is always best. Eat up!


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Saturday, September 6, 2008

One More Reason to Stay Fit: Be Happier

A new study from Michigan State University cites that the health of people who never marry has improved, narrowing the gap with their married counterparts. (Up until now, marriage has been encouraged to promote health.) I also came across another study from the University of Cambridge in England and University of Southern California, that for the first time in 25 years men are the happier sex. I find these studies compliment each other in describing the malaise that most women of our generation are feeling.

There are several factors involved in phenomenon of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and anxiety. With so much progress made in the workplace, women know they can conquer any field and be self reliant but what hasn’t changed on average is the child rearing and home equation. Most women are still responsible for most of child raising and Household responsibilities. Not to mention the fact that they have to carry the child and give birth.(this part is always so underestimated).

So in a way we have not gained more but lost (not that I am saying that it should be the way it used to- that is definitely not the solution. In addition to this, most woman are still anxiety ridden about getting married (old school feminists are quite puzzled that this is still part of our culture.) You can blame low self esteem, socialization or media creating anxiety while marketing dating sites and trivializing marriage. They are whipped into such of frenzy of attaining this goal, that they find themselves disappointed and when they are married. Nonetheless women are not as happy as they can be and I think it is because they always put themselves second above everything else.

Good self esteem is directly related on how a woman has been taught to see themselves, their environment and upbringing play a big part, but so does the way they feel about the way they look. Staying fit is not only a visual incentive but also creates peace of mind and discipline. Creating time in your day to devote to giving care to yourself is of primary importance. Worrying about your husband’s comfort or children’s welfare over your own is not productive. You can not give what you don’t have for yourself. You are not an accessory to someone else’s life, this is your time, your place.

With a sound mind and healthy body you can say no, not compromise or lower your standards. If you believe you deserve the best, you will find the best. Stop beating all the dead horses in your lives, if it’s your crazy boss or your unworthy boyfriend. Stand firm and make a decision to be productive, don’t just wait for things to change, People will not change, especially when they don’t get what’s wrong with them. Don’t waste your time. Don’t fall for the hype. Don’t let Tv or marketing drive your motivations.

I am not telling you not to marry or downplaying family, both are very important but in no way should you give yourself up for them. Marriage is not for everyone and you definitely need to be happy alone first. Most women complain about men in their lives for various reasons, they have been socialized differently but they most certainly can evolve. Women are the primary factor of influence if there is to be equality and satisfaction between the sexes.

If woman lower their standards men will never change, if you lift your standards they will catch up. If they don’t catch up, they will not reap the benefits of a relationship. As the with the current state of affairs, if you dump your lying boyfriend, they is another desperate women waiting to swoop in, so that they (men) never have to change. Make fitness and health a big part of your life. Nourish your body and mind and you will feel your best. Schedule workouts, plan your meals and put yourself first for once.


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Sunday, August 10, 2008

SUPER SKINNY ME: Hazards of Very Low Calorie Diets

I just stumbled across this documentary show by BBC called Super skinny me which is part of an ongoing documentary series on various topics. Two average-size journalists (size 8) who are fairly well adjusted and successful are challenged to fit into size 0 jeans. They are put through various diets from liquid fasts, to high protein to low caloric diets. In addition, they also engaged in vigorous exercise schedules for a total of five weeks. Weight loss was a success but some very interesting psychological effects can really teach us about how a diet mentality can be really harmful.

YOUR MIND ADAPTS, as the caloric intakes were reduced, the girls quickly got used to it. Their feelings of hunger actually became a normal “feeling” in their lives. One of the girls actually described this feeling as kind of energizing. So the constant feeling of hunger gave the illusion of energy, although they had none to expend. At the same time, their BMR (basal metabolic rate) was lowering because their bodies were trying to slow down their metabolism to hold on to their fat. This begins the first part of a bad relationship to food.

THEN COMES GUILT, even though both women realized that the low calorie diets were absurd and not possible to live on long term, they gradually yet quickly began to change their view of quantity. Once they got used to really small portions or liquid meals, and it was time to return to normal eating, they were. First they felt guilty, and greedy about the normal portions, and felt the need to exercise very profusely afterward. In addition, they became used to such empty stomachs, that any ingestion of food felt colossal. They began to have feelings of purging the “fullness” they felt which they described as uncomfortable to painful.

THEN COMES ANXIETY, and a compulsion with their food. Their relationship with food has begun to change, and food is viewed as the enemy and an obstacle to their goal, which over time becomes weighing less and less. Food becomes something to control and becomes an overwhelming anxiety in their daily lives. Despite the effects of malnutrition and fatigue, they are urged on by the need to weigh even less.

The extreme of these symptoms can lead to anorexia but lesser versions of these feelings toward food can result from just a short term bout with a very low calorie diet. Remember, these ladies were dieting for only five weeks, but it was plenty of time to produce these psychological effects. The readjustment period can be difficult; it takes a loss of control over the food, and a revelation that it can be harmful to your health. The toughest part is gaining some of the weight back and not feeling compelled to resort back to the diet. The best advice is to avoid these diets altogether, because they offer no long term results and are extremely hazardous to your body and mental health.


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