Eat More, Weigh Less - have more sex!

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I thought that would get your attention! SH member Gilly sets out the simple facts about his lifechanging weight-loss - and how changing the way you eat every day can create a healthier, fitter - and sexier - you.

Somehow, in recent years, we've got our priorities all mixed up, and health and fitness have been hijacked and turned into an obsession with 'being slim' - but that's not the be-all and end-all. These days it's all lettuce, brown bread, starvation, 'no pain, no gain' - and that's all wrong.

Look at it another way

You can be really skinny - and still be unhealthy. My aim in this article is to change your goal - don't change your everyday diet to lose weight, but to get healthy. Having the correct level of body-fat and an attractive hip-to-waist ratio are plusses - perks, if you like - of having a healthy lifestyle - not the end in themselves.

I lost five stone (just under 32 kg) and with it, ten inches (25 cm) off my waist - and I did it because I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be a good father, and to be able to play with my children without wheezing.

I didn't do it to have a beach-body and pose around. And I can tell you how I did it - and there are no miracle cures, no 'get-fit-in-30- days' claims or magic diets.

A lifestyle to die for

The way we live, our stresses and pressures and how we respond to them, all conspire to turn out unfit people.We're always in a hurry, so we resort to convenience foods, and stress drives us to comfort-eating. There's too much choice on the food shelves and the manufacturers and processors make their products 'taste nice' at the expense of being good for us. If we want, we can give in to the temptations - and not to is hard. I won't lie.

It's a sad fact, but it's now acknowledged that today's bad dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle are going to affect our children so much that they may be the first generation to die before their parents.

Why don't diets work?

Lots of people don't achieve the diet goals they set for themselves because of all the stresses, temptations and pressures I mentioned before. If you understand this, you're more likely to succeed - and it starts with setting achievable goals. My weight loss took me two years - so it's not been an overnight fix by any means.

The first point for anyone wanting to get healthy is not to go about it in a mindless way. You're not going to solve your weight problems by getting the latest 'in' diet book or the newest fitness dvds. The effort has to come from you.

We're facing meltdown when it comes to our health and eating habits - and I'd say it's due to the education system letting us down. If you know about how different foods affect you, you can make informed choices.

People don't understand food and its relationship to their bodies. For instance, if I were to ask people 'what makes you feel hungry?' nearly everyone would say 'it's your stomach being empty'. But that's not the case - it's to do with the level of sugar in your blood. If you want to be healthy, you need to learn about food, and sort out your priorities. It shouldn't be about being thin!

What 'fit and healthy' really means

It's widely acknowledged that having a toned six-pack doesn't mean you're any healthier than if you don't. It simply means that you have a low body-fat ratio - the relative proportion of fat to your total body weight.

Being fit and healthy in the true sense means that you'll have more energy, a better outlook on life, and a chance of avoiding a good number of medical conditions - high blood-pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more - and this is a far greater plus than having a 28-inch waist if you're a man , or being a ladies' size 8. Having a better body is the icing on the cake. Plus... to keep you reading... you'll be more attractive, and have loads more horny sex. It has definitely worked for me!

The start of my journey

How did I lose weight? What set me off? One day I was in a bookshop, picking up the latest 'in' diet magazines and DVDs for my wife, when I saw a book which simply offered a basic plan for healthy eating and exercise - and I bought it. It explained, among other interesting details, how we digest our food and how what we eat affects our metabolic rate. I started to learn how unhealthy eating habits can lead to all those medical conditions I mentioned earlier - and what I learned changed my life.

The penny dropped. That old saying 'A moment on the lips - a lifetime on the hips', is all too true.We all know that chocolate, if not eaten in moderation, is bad for us, but binge on it all the same. I LOVE chocolate - but I know it's my arch nemesis. It calls out to me when I see it, 'Eat me! Eat me!' - and these days I resist, because I know that giving in would just be the start of the slippery slope. I, like most of us, I suspect, had a 'live-now-pay-later' attitude to diet and health - but the important word is 'had'.

At this point I want to stress that I eat anything - I have no 'forbidden' foods - because banning certain foods only makes you crave them more. One day a week I pig out - eat anything I want - but I still do it within reason. I know I'll be exercising, so I allow myself to eat some of those slightly sinful foods, if I'm in the mood. I can do this because I now have a healthy relationship with food. I don't 'diet', and don't recommend that you do - because if you 'go on a diet', at some point you'll come off it.

You'll go back to the way you ate before and the weight will creep back on again. Instead, make permanent changes and fix it at source.

What you need to know...

There's no quick fix, as I've said - but I can give you a few tips and tricks to get healthier more quickly. It's all to do with the science behind food. The following are my top tips to increase your overall well-being and boost your energy. Once you grasp the basic principles, I think you'll find it easier to get healthy. And, if you're overweight, you should see a loss in body-fat as well.

The annoying question is, 'Why can some people eat so much and never get fat? Essentially, it's down to your basal metabolic rate - which is how many calories you burn per hour. Your body burns calories all the time, feeding your brain, muscles and organs - the calories are the fuel for your whole body. On average, women burn ten and men eleven calories per hour per pound of their body weight - and that constitutes 60 to 80 per cent of your daily calorie usage. You can increase this rate in a number of ways - one being exercise - and if you speed up the rate at which you burn calories, you'll lose weight, even when you're sitting down doing nothing!

Another question is 'Why do I feel hungry all the time?' You feel hungry when your blood-sugar (glucose) dips below a certain level - not because you've got nothing in your stomach. Sure, you can feel full when your stomach's full - and the capacity of your stomach can dictate how much you eat - but how much you have in your stomach is not why you get hungry.

The Glycaemic Index

The GI (nothing to do with American servicemen) is a scale which gives foods a value in relation to how fast they turn into sugar (glucose) in your blood. Ideally you want to eat foods that release their energy gradually, over a period of time - these foods are low-GI - and the quick energy-rush foods are high-GI. Because high-GI foods send sugar into your bloodstream in a rush, your insulin levels surge to regulate the sugar level, and the body reacts to this excess sugar by storing it as fat. All this combines to deplete blood-sugar levels - so you start to feel hungry again.

On the other hand, low GI foods release their sugars and energy over a longer period of time. There's no excess sugar to store as fat, and your body doesn't have to produce insulin to regulate the blood-sugar levels. So, it makes sense to eat low-GI foods at, say, three-hour intervals. This is the best way to keep your insulin and blood-sugar levels constant, and to prevent your body from storing them as fat. It also increases your ability to shed weight.

Golden rules - Number 1

Always eat breakfast! It's the most important meal of the day. My mum always used to say I should - but she could never explain to me quite why - so I never did. But I'll go a step further than my mother and give you a reason. According to research by the University of Massachusetts, you are 450 per cent more likely to be obese if you don't eat breakfast. Not eating breakfast simply screws your body up for the day, as soon as you wake up... and this is why.

You go to bed - and when you wake up, your body hasn't been fed for ten hours or maybe more. Even when you're asleep, you're burning calories, so if you don't feed your body shortly after you wake up, your bloodsugar level will slump and your metabolism will work less effectively. You are more likely to crave more food than you need - foods of a higher sugar-content - and this sort of quick fix isn't good for you.

In addition, your body starts to react as if there's a famine, and strips all the nourishment it can out of the first meal you have, then stores a lot of it as fat. Not a good way to start the day. It's bad not to eat breakfast. Here's some scientific support for this - researchers at Bristol University found that people who skip breakfast fumbled tasks set for them later in the day. Quite simply, they were lacking the glucose their brains needed to function properly.

I could write a whole article on why you should eat breakfast - so if you take only one thing from my eat-healthy regime, eat breakfast - but don't succumb to a naughty fat-laden fry-up.

Rule Number 2

Eat more! Incredibly, eating smaller meals and more of them makes your metabolism speed up. I eat six meals a day - so I fuel up more or less every three hours, on around 300-400 calories, made up of low GI foods.

I have breakfast, lunch, a main evening meal and three snacks in between. Believe me, eating well doesn't mean dieting and starving yourself. In fact, I eat more now, in the number of meals and in bulk, than when I was eighteen stone plus - but now I'm fitter... and slimmer.

Eating more, smaller meals also helps tshrink your stomach, and over time you'll probably eat less, even when you pig out. Eating raises your metabolic rate - and by eating low-GI foods you'll find that you don't feel hungry between meals.

Rule Number 3

Learn about food! Read labels, read about food and find out what calories, fat and GI levels your food contains. Find out, too, how many calories a day you should eat for your lifestyle. Learning about food means you can make informed choices, eat more satisfying food, decrease your body fat and get healthier. You'll be trimmer, feel fitter and lay down the foundations to stay healthy and avoid illness later in life. German research has shown that eating two 100-gm (4-ounce) portions a day of food rich in beta carotene (spinach, carrots, apricots, beetroot - mainly naturally highly-coloured foods) can slash your risk of heart disease. You can cut your heart-disease markers by up to 42 per cent in just a month by following the simple eating plan I've set out.

What's more, a low-carbohydrate diet can cause bad moods. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a diet low in carbohydrates seriously lowers your body's levels of serotonin - that's the body's feel-good-boosting super-chemical [there's more about this in our Orgasmic Diet book review, page XX, Ed]. Another reason to eat a healthy level of carbs.

If you learn about food, you can eat a greater bulk for the same calories - so you don't have to starve as you get trimmer. The difference in calorie values can be vast - even in the liquids we drink. Cranberry juice with no added sugar contains six calories per 100 ml, apple juice from concentrate contains 45 calories per 100 ml - so for every two 250-ml glasses of apple juice, you could have fifteen similar glasses of cranberry. And, some reader participation - check the difference between any brand of fizzy drink and its 'diet' equivalent. Any cola and its diet equivalent show how big the difference can be. You'll be amazed.

Rule Number 4

Exercise! A safe level of exercise increases your metabolism and burns calories - and, because it boosts the feel-good endorphins in your system, it's a great way of combating depression and a major aid to achieving a healthy body. Research has shown that just thirty minutes of exercise (a day) is enough to raise quite significantly the mood of someone suffering from depression!

I'll be totally honest and own up that it's sometimes a pain in the arse to go to the gym - but I know it's worth it. I accept the discipline and don't give myself any choice.

I can assure you, taking whatever level of responsibly worked-out exercise regularly can make your body work so much better. The benefits are substantial:
- Increase your metabolic rate
- Up your seratonin and feel good
- Perform better in bed - it goes without saying!
I could go on and on - the list is massive.

A last word

Is it all worth it if you're a swinger? Definitely, yes. The answers are not quick, and you need to exercise some personal discipline, especially in the early stages, but if you adjust your overall eating habits, you can feel so much more vibrant and alive. A healthy you feels better on the inside and looks better outside - not just your waistline, but your skin, hair and general appearance. That in itself makes you more attractive

For men, certainly your new eating regime and improved fitness and associated weight loss will make you better in bed. You perform harder and longer, and the increased blood-flow may make your longer and harder too! On a serious note, it may mean you live longer and avoid ailments later in life if you leave the path you are on now. A few tweaks to what you eat now and you could be water-skiing when you're seventy-five - as well as being the oldest and perhaps the naughtiest swinger in town.

My final word is that, research shows that smoking takes, on average, a centimetre off penis length because it constricts the bloodflow. Enough said!

High & Low GI Foods

GI values - just a taster...
Foods only appear on the GI index if they contain carbohydrate - so you won't find meat, eggs, cheese, fish, etc rated (sausages appear because they contain flour!) The low-GI foods are good to include, in every meal or snack; you can eat a few of the medium-GI list - but limit the portion size if you want to lose weight. The high-GI list foods are best substituted with lower-value ones - or eat them with a low-GI one to reduce the GI value of your whole meal. The rating after each item is its GI as a value out of 100.

Roast/salted peanuts, low-fat yogurt with sweetener 14; grapefruit, pearl barley 25; dried apricots, butterbeans 3; apples, pears, canned tomato soup 38; white spaghetti 41; bran cereal, canned chick peas, peaches, porridge (made with water) 42; green grapes, orange juice 46; peas, baked beans 48; boiled carrots, milk chocolate 49; bananas, raw oat bran, sweetcorn 55.

Muesli, boiled potatoes, sultanas 56; basmati rice, honey 58; cheese and tomato pizza 60; couscous, rye bread 65; fresh pineapple 66; melon, croissant 67; crumpets, wholemeal bread 69.

Mashed potato, white bread 70; watermelon, swede, bagels 72, bran flake cereal 74; French fries 75; rice cakes 82; corn flakes 84; jacket potato 85; French bread 95; boiled parsnips 97; steamed rice 98.