Have you noticed lately that looking in the mirror or at a recent photograph of yourself isn’t quite the reflection you thought you were projecting a few years ago? While you continue to be careful about what you eat, cutting carbs, minding processed foods, adding more veggies to your diet, and you try to stay on track with the same workout routine that you have had for years, somehow your body is reacting in a totally unrecognizable way. The body you have been trusting to react positively to your cautious calorie restrictions and daily beatings is now turning on you. Why is your body betraying you? The culprit is a slowing metabolism. Here are its three main instigators and how we can battle the betrayal!


INSTIGATOR #1: AGE. As we age, our ability to use up energy decreases and our metabolism slows down. Our muscle mass tends to decrease as we get older too. While we can’t change the physical reality of aging and how our cells will perform, we CAN increase our muscle mass to keep our metabolism buzzing. Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle. You will get the best results by either training the whole body in a single workout or splitting the work into upper body one day, lower body the next. Concentrate on lifts that involve lots of muscles at once, such as squats, dead lifts, presses, rows and pull ups. Don’t be discouraged by the idea of getting big bulky muscles! That only happens in the movies, or with lots of steroid use. What you will get is a lean, no flab, no jiggle form, with bonus extra strength and a metabolic boost that lasts long beyond the workout.

INSTIGATOR #2: REDUCED ACTIVITY. Very often we get “too busy” to stay on track with our workout plan, and end up missing a few sessions here and there. We then get used to a little less activity, and before you know it, your original plan to prioritize exercise is a whole different plan to prioritize everything else but exercise. One of the main reasons that people stop working out, other than incessant time constraints, is that they get bored with their routine. Change it up! Ask a personal trainer at your gym to give you a new routine to follow based on your personal objectives and your current level of fitness, take that zumba class, try pilates, spin a little, learn to use kettlebells, join a group training session a few times a week, anything to mix it up. Find a few friends that might be going through the same thing (and who isn’t?), and get them involved in training together. Training with friends is fun, effective, and will keep you motivated.

INSTIGATOR #3: STRESS. When your anxiety rises, your body releases cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal system with a proven link to weight gain. Of course we can’t just eliminate all stress from our lives, I mean, what are you going to do- get rid of your job, your kids, your house, your car, your bills, your mother in law, your future, your laundry, your calendar of conflicting appointments, and add more time to your day? No you can’t. Tempting, but no you can’t. Here is what you CAN do: Prioritize all the things you need to get done, both personal and work related. Having a plan will give you some peace, and make sure you make progress. Put this as the top of the list: Get regular exercise, and get regular sleep. Exercise and rest will put you in a much more positive frame of mind, which will make dealing with all the other stressors much easier.

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Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring is coming, which means you are probably looking at your closets, your basement, your junk drawers, even your shelves, realizing that its time to clean things up, obliterate clutter and trash to create a fresh, zen-like environment to flourish bright ideas and healthy living. So many clean up jobs to tackle, where to begin? Which will bring the most satisfaction? Which is most necessary? All these projects are worthwhile, yet somehow you have overlooked the biggest, most glaring clean up opportunity that will positively change your body, your attitude, and yes, your life. Sounds dramatic? It is.

Its your diet! Its time clean up your diet by tackling your fridge, pantry and cabinets. Evaluate their contents, get rid of the toxins and make room for the good stuff. The easy part is getting rid of the items you don’t need, will never need, and probably never did need in the first place, like most condiments and most of the boxed ‘food products’ in your pantry and freezer. If you look at this task as ‘cleaning out the kitchen’, it seems daunting, but if you think of it as a kick start to a healthy new way of living, making it easier to stay on track with healthy eating habits and giving you insight as to where your diet pitfalls were hiding, this could actually be a fun project. Well, at least a very worthwhile, informative and transformative project!

Spring cleaning your diet is kind of a misnomer, as eating clean is not a diet at all- it is a shift in perspective and lifestyle, making what you eat healthier and more delicious. The basics of clean eating rest on consuming food in its most natural state, or its closest approximation. The idea is to eat more of the healthiest options in every food group, and less of the not-so-healthy ones. This means learning how to shop for and prepare foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains and healthy proteins in a way that makes it easy to stick with a clean diet. It also means simultaneously cutting back and eventually eliminating refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.

Unlike traditional Spring Cleaning, where you make one significant wholesale change and then wait the rest of the year for filth and clutter to creep back in, this is an ongoing process. You clean up one day at a time, one shopping trip at a time, one meal at a time. The goal is not "perfection", just "better". Every day, better. Certified Nutritionists at Federal Hill Fitness can help personalize your own diet clean up, but start on your own with these tips:

Diet Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Make Room for Whole Food.

You need to eat five times per day and plan your meals, so clear out some space, as you will need to store all this good food. Consider all the fresh, whole, unprocessed foods that are seasonal and nutrient-dense when making room in your fridge, and consider fresh whole foods that do not need refrigeration when making space in the pantry. Big mistakes in food selection happen when you are starving, so don’t stock things you shouldn’t eat. Any pre-work you do to prepare meals for the following day or the following week will help you stay on track. Invest in some Tupperware and if possible, make some space for a second freezer in a closet, basement, or garage (if you are lucky enough to have one in South Baltimore!).

Diet Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Drink Mainly Water.

Flavorings such as tea or herbs like mint or a squirt of citrus add variety to your water drinking campaign. Get rid of sugary fruit juices and sodas. Consider stocking sparkling water and a variety of herbal teas.

Diet Spring Cleaning Tip #3: Read Food Labels, Avoid Processed Foods.

Don’t restock with any product with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Likewise, if you can identify the myriad forms of artificial sweeteners, synthetic trans fats, artificial flavors and colors, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives like ones found in long shelf-life foods (BHA, BHT, TBHQ), recognize they are poison and get rid of them. These toxic ingredients may make foods look appealing and last a long time, but they will bring on disease, obesity, physical disabilities, and premature death.

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Be Your Own Best Friend

Remember the time your best friend came to you crying because she was upset that she had fallen off the wagon with her healthy eating plan- the resolution that was definitely not going to fail this time? She had just stepped on the scale for the 100th time that day and confirmed for sure that she had not lost any weight since January, in fact, she had gained two pounds. Of course you remember that conversation! It was such a sad thing, this beautiful, funny, intelligent, awesome person, completely broken down and beating herself up over something completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of life.

What was your reaction? Did you call her a disgusting failure and suggest she give up, because after all, this always happens? Did you start listing all her diet transgressions up to that point and remind her of all the missed workouts she let slide by? Did you look at her and think she looked repulsive- and told her as much? Did you serve up some punishment to make her feel even worse about her situation? Did you shove a gallon of Ben & Jerrys in her face since she might as well just give up entirely?

Of course not! You know what you did: You tried desperately to cheer her up. You recounted everything she had already accomplished and told her how proud you are of her success. You probably encouraged her to forget about it and just get back on track, maybe even helped her get there by suggesting a joint trip to the gym to take a fun class together, or a walk to the harbor to buy some new lipstick. That’s what best friends do. Hell, that is was even remote acquaintances do! So, why are you treating yourself in the most horrific way, the way you would not even treat an enemy? In the fitness field here in Baltimore, I constantly hear the saddest stories about why diets and exercise plans have not worked out in the past. They come to Federal Hill Fitness to seek a magic bullet, find that element that will finally help them reach their goals. I always tell them the one secret to success: be your own best friend. Be as supportive in the mirror as you are of your good friends and you will succeed.

Life is too short to consume any part of it on counting calories, committing to endless restrictive (and ridiculous) diet schemes, worrying about what you did or didn’t eat, and exercising in a way that is “certain to drive results” but never does because you really hate it or it kindof hurts. Do the best you can with all the information you have, and celebrate the small victories. Find the class or exercise routine that makes you sweat but also makes you feel good. Keep your goals in perspective and don’t let your fear of failure stop you from continuing on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

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Fitness for the Holidays… Mission Impossible?

Staying on track with your work out plan is hard enough when the weather is beautiful and time is on your side. You know, in the middle of the year, when vacations come and go and you know you have half the year to accomplish any goals you may have set in January. Make it cold outside, wet, dark and dreary, throw in a ton of family commitments, a few shots of stress, several social events you need to attend, deadlines to meet before the year is done, endless gifts you need to purchase, maybe catch a cold or flu for good measure, and you have a perfect recipe for fitness disaster. Excuses come fast and furious this time of the year, as well as justification for slacking off. Temptation of all sorts is rampant- holiday parties and endless goodies in the office. Is it even possible to stick to your plan? I say it is. Not only is it possible, but you can even plan to lose some extra pounds and clean up your diet during the holiday season. Here are some tricks to stay on track:

Be Flexible. If you know you are going to have a tough time deciding between grabbing a drink with friends after work or hitting the gym, make a plan to wake up an hour earlier and get your sweat session going before work. There is never just one way to reach your fitness goals.

Mix It Up. Now is not the time to push through the same old routine. Hire a Personal Trainer to show you something new, hook up with some gym friends to work out together, join in a new class. Not only will mixing it up keep you interested, but because your muscles get used to the same repetitive motion, you will likely see some immediate results from changing it up.

Be Efficient. Planning to see family or friends after hours and you know its going to cut into your gym time? Suggest a hike or long walk, play a game of touch football or something else that is active and appropriate for the fitness level of the rest of the group. That way, you are still moving around, and hopefully even breaking a sweat. Combine the social initiative with the sweating initiative, and all of a sudden you have happy endorphins instead of a dreaded family commitment.

Create Substitutes. No gym time? No problem. Have a plan for how you will get your work out in at home, in a hotel room or even at the office. Get creative and don’t let your workout be dictated by where you are. Seek the help of a Personal Trainer to establish a bodyweight routine you can do without any equipment.

Change Perspective. Take working out off your “to do” list. Put it on your “bonus” list. Reward yourself with some time doing something good for yourself, something that makes you feel good, reduces your stress level. You deserve it! When you stop thinking about exercise as a burden and consider the endless benefits of living a healthier life, you will find the time to build it in to your schedule.

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5-Minute Fitness

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that "Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits." Since then, a frenzy of news reports have suggested that perhaps 5 minutes of exercise a day is all you need.

But is that actually true?

The New York Times story was based on a new study—published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology—that analyzed the association of running and risk of death in more than 55,000 adults over 15 years.

During that period, the scientists found that people who ran weekly had a 45 percent decreased risk for dying of heart disease—and a 30 percent decreased risk of death from any cause—than those who didn’t run.

For perspective, during that 15-year period, 3,413 participants died of all causes. Of the runners, 4.3 percent died, compared to 6.8 percent of the non-runners. And from heart disease specifically, 1.3 percent of the runners died compared to 2.6 percent of the non-runners.

Those numbers might not sound as dramatic as you might have thought, but they are statistically significant. That means the probability that they could have occurred simply by chance is tiny.

Here’s where it gets surprising: The amount a person ran didn’t seem to matter.

From the New York Times story:

"Those who hit the paths for 150 minutes or more a week, or who were particularly speedy, clipping off six-minute miles or better, lived longer than those who didn’t run. But they didn’t live significantly longer those who ran the least, including people running as little as five or 10 minutes a day at a leisurely pace of 10 minutes a mile or slower."

Hence the headline. But there’s a catch that the New York Times doesn’t tell you about. Turns out, the researchers don’t know if the people were actually running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day. What they do know is that the group who ran the least was accumulating less than 51 minutes of running time per week. It could have been 50 minutes one day a week, or a 15-minute jog on Wednesday, and a 35-minute run on the weekend. Or any combination you can conjure.

I asked Timothy Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., coauthor of the study and a professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, to better explain the findings to me.

"Realistically, most people aren’t going out for 5-minute runs," says Dr. Church. "But what these findings show is that there is a benefit to running less than 51 minutes a week, and it may not matter how you accumulate that time. That’s not necessarily what we should be striving for, though."

If you’re looking to get the most health benefits from exercise, Dr. Church suggests you follow the 2008 Federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

"These guidelines are very well written," says Dr. Church, who was a member of the expert committee that created them. "They’re based on thousands of studies, and recommend at least 150 minutes per week of low-intensity level of activity, like walking, for optimal health benefits."

But, he points out, as your intensity—or effort level—rises, the guidelines say you can exercise for less time to achieve those same benefits. "That’s why they recommend just 75 minutes per week if your activity is running, instead of walking," says Dr. Church.

What about 5 minutes a day? "We believe that any activity is better than no activity," says Dr. Church. "So if 5 minutes is your starting point, that’s great. But you want to try to increase your activity level over time."

Your activity doesn’t have to be just running. In fact, Dr. Church says he would fall into the "less than 51 minutes of running per week" category. That’s because he spends a lot more than 51 minutes a week practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu. And exercise doesn’t get any more intense than that.

Want to get started running—or make your current plan even better? Check out the Men’s Health Running Center.

Written by Adam Campbell

You can learn more about health and fitness at MensHealth.

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Rules of the Road for Healthy Living

Whether you’re heading out for a business trip or vacation with your girlfriend, your diet might take a dive. Between fast food stops, huge restaurant meals, and a general "I-can-eat-whatever" attitude, the result is often vacation pudge that lasts longer than you want. Follow these eating guidelines and you’ll have a good time on the road, minus the longstanding consequences.

1. Plan ahead.
Pack smart. That means stocking up on travel-friendly grub that’s nutrient-dense, non-perishable, and has sustaining calories, says Rikki Keen, R.D., director of sports nutrition at Florida Hospital and a consultant to NFL athletes. Fill your bags with snacks like beef jerky, dark chocolate chips, nuts, and individual peanut butter packets. Keen has her football players carry Caveman Bars because they’re made of mainly wholesome ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

2. Know where you’re going.
When you’re in a new city or on the road, avoid stopping at the first fast-food burger joint you see as soon as you’re hungry. Keen recommends using an app like AroundME while you’re on your way to the destination. It will let you locate healthier restaurant chains, like Chipotle or Sweet Tomatoes. (Here are 4 Chains That Are Fixing Fast Food.)

3. Eat every 2 to 3 hours.
It doesn’t have to be much—just a handful of nuts or dried fruit. This avoids a so-hungry-you-ate-a-gas-station-hot-dog situation, says Keen.

4. Carry your greens.
Look, you’re probably more focused on hitting that famous BBQ joint than getting your quota of seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day, says Mike Roussell, Ph.D., Men’s Health nutrition advisor. If that’s the case, Roussell suggests bringing powdered greens like Amazing Grass’ Amazing Meal along for the ride. You can buy the freeze-dried fruits and vegetables in small packets or in bulk and, mix them with smoothies or into oatmeal for breakfast.

5. Pop an important supplement.
Roussell advises taking melatonin if you’re traveling across time zones to help reset your internal clock faster, so you get better acclimated to the new location. From a weight loss standpoint, good sleep is key: A 2013 study in the journal Obesity found that one night of poor sleep drives up hunger hormones that make people purchase high-calorie foods.

6. Power up your coffee.
Get your day started off right with hunger-taming, quality protein. Baggie up some vanilla whey protein powder and toss it in your go bag, says Keen. When you stop and get coffee, add milk, stir, then mix in 1/2 to 1 scoop of the protein powder.

7. Back off booze.
Whether you’re at a business dinner with clients or a conference reception, stick with two drinks. The problem with going over is that you don’t think clearly with a buzz, so you’re more likely to stuff yourself with a tray of apps. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that guys consume an extra 433 calories from alcohol and food when they booze. Focus your efforts on networking instead of knocking back your fourth IPA.

8. Read the airline menu.
You don’t have to survive a long flight on Jack and Coke and free pretzels alone. Many airlines now offer protein boxes with hummus, olives, and whole-grain crackers, which provide a balance of protein, fat, and complex carbs, says Keen.

9. Scan the buffet.
On a cruise or in a hotel, buffets offer an unending amount of fare that’s fried, covered in sauce, or heavy in carbs. Make a beeline to protein-packed items instead. At the continental breakfast bar, your best choice is eggs. At dinner, visit the carving station with pork tenderloin and pair with vegetables or a salad. Eating high-protein meals can keep you fuller throughout the day and make you less likely to call up room service for pizza late at night, reports a 2011 study from the University of Missouri.

10. Practice the ‘one and done’ rule.
You’re allowed to cheat on your diet while on the road, but breakfast, lunch, and dinner don’t all have to be gut-busting affairs. Pick one high-calorie item a day, like ice cream from that local creamery for dessert. Eat it, enjoy it, then move on, says Keen.

11. Drink more water.
Always carry an empty glass or stainless steel water bottle with you and drink about 8 ounces of H20 every hour to prevent dehydration. Thirst often masquerades as hunger, says Keen.

Written by Jessica Migala

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Maximize Your Muscles

For years men have chased workouts with protein shakes, hoping to take advantage of the "anabolic window"—the time when your body is primed to build muscle. Now a major new meta-analysis shatters that science. Its coauthor: Alan Aragon, M.S. "The critical factor for muscle strength and size is your total daily protein intake."

He advises men to eat 0.7 to 1 gram of complete protein—which has all nine essential amino acids and is found in meat, poultry, fish, milk, and eggs—for every pound of their target weight. "Include at least 20 grams of protein at every meal and snack," he says. "That ensures your muscles have the optimal amounts of critical amino acids, like leucine." Want more ways to increase your brawn? Keep reading for 3 simple muscles tips from Aragon.

Plan Meals for Muscle
"I aim for 180 grams of protein a day and eat four times: A big protein shake for breakfast; a smaller one before work out; and an early dinner that includes a piece of meat, chicken, or fish, plus greens and rice or potatoes. Finally, eat a late-night three-egg omelet with a side of Greek yogurt and a chunk of dark chocolate with peanut butter."

Power Up with Powder
"For my a.m. shake, I blend two scoops chocolate Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard with 2 cups black coffee, a banana, 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa, and a handful of walnuts. My pre-workout shake is two scoops chocolate MTS Machine Whey Protein with water." (Note: Aragon has no deals with these companies.)

Upgrade Your Workout
"To maximize my time in the gym, I’ve started doing ‘drop sets.’ On the final set of many lifts I go to failure; then I cut the weight by 25 percent and bang out as many reps as I can. I’ll also use the rest-pause method, where I take a set to failure, rest a few seconds, crank out a few more reps, and repeat. It really cranks up your heart rate!"

Written by Alan Aragon

You can learn more about health and fitness at MensHealth.

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Why You Are Not A Loser

Ever look in the mirror and wonder why you still don’t look as good as you probably could? You are exercising, eating the right things, not eating the wrong things, managing your portions, getting enough sleep, drinking a lot of water…. And still, no significant change. Why?

BALANCE CALORIES. You might be eating back all your burned calories. Most people grossly overestimate of how many calories are burned with their exercise session. They also grossly underestimate of how many calories they are consuming. That White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino? 625 calories. That “really tough” spin class? Maybe 400 calories…at most. Learn to accurately calculate your workouts and your meals and then you can strive for balance. Check out these free apps: MyFitnessPal, FatSecret, FitClick, Lose it! and MyNetDiary are all terrific. Tracking calories in and calories out is not enough….you have to track them accurately.

EXERCISE IS NOT ENOUGH. Exercise alone does not burn off as many calories as you might think. It can be very demanding, sometimes uncomfortable, and most of the time, downright inconvenient to get a vigorous sweat going. Unfortunately on the flip side, it is very very easy (too easy!) to eat hundreds (even thousands) of calories in just a few minutes. If you are not reducing calorie intake, exercise alone will not do the trick. We say it almost every day at the club: “You can’t out-train a bad diet”.

“HEALTH” FOOD TRENDS ARE NOT ALWAYS HEALTHY. You limit your diet, not based on a religious belief or a health issue, but because research shows it is a healthy thing to do. You follow all the latest ‘knowledge’ on what is good for you: eat “fat-free” foods, protein bars, kale, Chia, tofu, soy milk, greek yogurt, some of which you don’t like- at all. You buy a juicer…. You buy a high tech very expensive blender… you spend all your money at Whole Foods, because IT MUST BE ORGANIC, duh. Consider that not that long ago, the trends were saying: Eat pork rinds! Eat bacon! Eat granola! While it is important, is to learn about the new trends, and recognize the value of this information, be sure to use your judgment…. and your taste buds. If what you are eating is not appealing, you just eat it because you feel you have to in order to be healthy, don’t. Why torture yourself? It won’t last, and a few months or a few years later, you will be wondering why you passed up all those amazing meals for the crazy kale trend (that you don’t eat anymore). Solution? Relax. Take new information and incorporate it into a balanced diet- don’t cut out any major food groups, just limit the portions or find great alternatives that still will give your body what it needs. Eating well has to include a feeling of satisfaction and satiation- make it delicious or die trying. Buying items that are “organic” or “gluten Free” or “fat free” is NOT synonymous with “healthy”, it is only synonymous with “good marketing”.

DOING THE WRONG EXERCISES. If you are exercising because you think its fun, or for stress relief, by all means do anything you want- zumba, pilates, yoga, speed walking, whatever makes you happy. However, if you are exercising because you want to lose weight, that is a different story. Mixing cardio with strength training is the way to go- getting a personalized recipe to follow from a trained professional is indispensible. Your body composition, health history, motivation, likes and dislikes, are bound to be different from the standard model used in blogs, magazines and videos out there. Attempt to follow a training program designed for a 22 year old with no health issues will leave you in a bad situation as a 52 year old with a reconstructed rotator cuff and hypertension. Be honest with yourself and get a program designed specifically for you. (Beware: Personal Trainers are a dime a dozen these days, with bogus certifications available online to just about anyone. If the Trainer you meet with is not affiliated with a reputable fitness facility, be weary. There is probably a reason that “trainer” is on his own).

LACK OF CONSISTENCY. For any weight loss program to work, it has to be followed all the time. Not just on the weekdays, not all the time except when you go out, and not all the time except when you are really sad or really happy. ALL THE TIME. That is why a weight loss program has to be realistic. It has to be rigorous enough to get you to your goals, but comfortable enough to become part of your lifestyle. Sticking with a program will deliver results, and your mindset has everything to do with success.

MEASURE THE RIGHT THINGS. You don’t see a lower number on the scale, which can be frustrating. But, have you taken measurements? Do your clothes feel looser or fit you better? Don’t get hung up on the scale alone as a measure of success. It is the shape of your body and the amount of lean muscle vs. body fat you have that will accurately determine your progress. Get rid of the scale, and it will be the most significant 5lbs you will ever lose.

Lastly, have you considered that you don’t really need to lose weight? If you are at a healthy body mass index, your body fat percentage is in a healthy range for your height, age and body type, you probably don’t need to lose weight. Constantly being in battle mode against your own body will bring you down, frustrate you and ultimately leave you feeling angry and defeated. Focus on activities, sports and exercise formats that you enjoy, even ramp them up a bit to get that extra sweat. Mix it up, try new things, boxing, cycling, running, keep it fun and keep it at least one notch beyond your comfort level. Be consistent. Clean up your diet as new research is made available, adopting only trends that truly make sense, that you feel you can live with long term. Don’t force yourself to eat foods that don’t taste good to you. Don’t consume fake foods or supplements. Enjoy your food, enjoy your work outs and you may or may not see weight loss, but you will definitely see an improvement in your quality of life.

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Lemon Water: Healthy Benefits From A Sour Sensation

While it’s tempting to grab your favorite iced tea, latte or sports drink when looking for something to quench your thirst, keep in mind that these beverages — and countless others — can have lots of added sugar and calories. A flavorful alternative is drinking lemon water, which has zero calories and provides several key health benefits.

Water’s Benefits

Lemon water’s primary ingredient is, of course, water. Flavoring your water with fresh lemon to make it more palatable can help its appeal, making you likely to reach for it more often. And drinking enough water is essential for optimal health. It’s your body’s main chemical component, making up roughly 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in the body depends on water to function properly. Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, delivers nutrients to cells and creates a moist environment for tissues in the ear, nose and throat. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, a condition that happens when your body doesn’t have sufficient water to carry out normal functions. Women should aim to drink about 2.2 liters of water per day — about 9 cups, and men should try to drink around 3 liters per day — about 13 cups.

Lemon’s Benefits

Adding lemon to water is an easy way to get some of this fruit’s nutritional benefits. Lemons are low in saturated fat and sodium and are also a good source of folate, potassium and vitamin C. Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin known to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy; it also may prevent cognitive decline, cancer, certain psychiatric illnesses and cardiovascular conditions. Potassium builds protein and muscle, maintains normal body growth and controls the electrical activity of the heart. And lastly, vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, notes MedlinePlus. As an antioxidant, it contains nutrients that block damage caused by free radicals, which may play a role in cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

  • Cleansing Properties

Lemon water also plays a key role in cleansing your system, according to Dr. David Jockers, owner and operator of the Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia. Water infused with lemon contains citric acid, which can clean out calcium stones and prevent calcium deposits from building up in arteries. These deposits can promote cardiovascular disease. Jockers also notes that lemon water can provide the body with hydration, antioxidants and electrolytes.

A Healthy Alternative

Lemon water can serve as a tasty alternative to other, less healthy beverages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that while calories in drinks aren’t "hidden," you may not realize just how many calories beverages can contribute to your daily intake. For example, in a 12-ounce serving, apple juice has 192 calories, orange juice has 168 calories, lemonade has 168 calories and a sports drink has 99 calories. In contrast, lemon water has zero — making it a great choice for when you want a flavorful drink but not all the added calories.

Written by Jaime Budzienski

You can read more about nutrition at

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Burning Belly Fat For The Beach

The average man’s body houses 43.2 pounds of fat. And at any one moment, that number is either increasing or decreasing—it’s never stagnant. Spend more of each day burning fat than you do storing it, and over time, you’ll bury your belly forever. Sound simple? It is. You see, there’s no single secret formula for losing fat. In fact, find 100 successful losers and they’ll give you 100 different ways to win the battle of the bulge. But we did them one better. On the following pages, you’ll find 101 tips designed to help you lose your love handles, bust your gut, and define your abs. Simply incorporate three or four into your life every day, and you’ll finish off your fat easier and faster than you ever imagined possible.

Eat more protein.
About 25%-30% of the calories in each gram of protein are burned in digestion, compared to only 6%-8% of the calories in carbs. Do the math: You save 41 calories every time you substitute 50 grams of protein for an equal amount of carbs.

Read labels.
Avoid foods with "high-fructose corn syrup" in the ingredients list. Since 1971, consumption of this sugar substitute—which is used to sweeten soda, commercial baked goods, and even condiments—has increased more than 350% in the U.S., paralleling the rise in obesity.

Get off your ass.
Do every exercise standing instead of sitting. "You’ll expend up to 30% more calories," says Joe Stankowski, C.P.T. The solution for the bench press? Dips.

Mix up your movements.
When you lift, perform supersets in which you alternate between sets of lower body exercises and upper body exercises. That way, your lower body rests while your upper body is working. "This allows you to work your muscles maximally with very little downtime between sets for a faster, more effective workout," says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S.

Exercise blind.
When you’re using the elliptical trainer, try letting go of the handles and closing your eyes. (Be careful!) Without the visual feedback, your core muscles will have to work harder to keep you balanced, burning more calories.

Embrace yardwork.
View any type of physical activity—even those you try to avoid, such as mowing the lawn—as a chance to burn fat and condition your body. (Just make sure you use a push mower.)

Snack on dill pickles.
They have one calorie per slice.

Take larger steps.
When using the stair climber, skip one out of every five steps. Then take one large step to get back to your normal walking pattern. This step recruits additional muscle, upping fat loss, says Cameron McGarr, C.S.C.S.

Rent motivation.
Once a week, watch a movie that inspires you to exercise. Examples: Rocky (for the gym), American Flyers (for cycling), Hoosiers (for team sports), and Chariots of Fire and Without Limits (both for running).

Break a record.
Challenge yourself to run farther in the same amount of time—even if it’s just one-tenth of a mile—every single workout. This ensures you’re always burning more calories from one workout to the next.

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Written by MensHealth Editors

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