Written by guest author Talar Demirdjian We all know that as Lebanese we’re blessed with a great variety of colorful and delicious food. In Lebanon, we have the best of what the Mediterranean can offer, and we take advantage of it at any chance we can get. But what if you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle or are on a calorie based diet? Well, we have combined a list of the Top 5 best Lebanese dishes with the lowest calories to help with your fitness regimen. Happy Eating! Hummus The staple piece on our tables in Lebanon, I personally cannot live without it, and it’s one of the best things you can eat while on a diet, as long as you don’t go heavy on the olive oil and tahini, this high in protein dish provides roughly 170 calories for 100 grams, and is a good to excellent source of appreciable contents such as dietary fiber, B vitamins, manganese and other nutrients. It’s great supplement to your fitness regimen to have some Hummus after a workout. Click here for the recipe. Tabbouleh Greens are an essential source of fiber, and are a necessary part of any diet, so with only 198 calories in each cup, it’s a no brainer that Tabbouleh would be on this list. Not only that, but it contains 10 super foods in its ingredients; Bulgur is high in fiber and protein, low in fat, has a low glycemic index, and contains potassium and iron, Onions contain anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties, Garlic helps manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and has shown to be a strong antibiotic, Parsley contains more vitamin C than most vegetables and approximately three times as much as oranges. It has twice as much iron as spinach, and is a good source of manganese, calcium, and potassium, Olive oil may lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and much more. This is a must eat, even if you’re not focusing on your fitness. Baked Falafel Everyone knows the small kiosks that sell deep fried falafels, as delicious as they may be, they’re not the healthiest of choices. On the other hand, baked falafel is extremely healthy for you and equally as delicious, 6 pieces of baked Falafel have 240 calories in them. Chickpeas are low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Falafel is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin B, and folate. Falafel is also high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Click here for a quinoa tabuleh recipe. Ful Medames A popular breakfast item in Lebanon, with only 126 calories per cup, it’s a good dish to add in your diet, as Fava Beans (Ful) are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, copper and manganese, and a very good source of folate. Just make sure not to add too much olive oil. Adding chili pepper flakes, however, is an advantage as Red chilies contain large amounts of vitamin C and small amounts of carotene (provitamin A), and it said to slightly boost your metabolism, if consumed on a regular basis. Lentil Soup Last but not least, with the lowest amount of calories, like other broth-based soups, the high-water content in lentil soup makes it fairly low in calories, at 56 calories per 100 grams. Its satisfying nature is mainly because of the high fiber content in lentils. Fiber contains no calories because your body can't break it down, yet it slows digestion to help your stomach stay full long after you've put down your spoon. Most of the fats present in lentil soups come from olive oil, making them healthy fats. Popular recipes for lentil soup vary, but some of the common ingredients aside from lentils include diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, carrots and celery. Click here for the recipe.
Written by guest author Talar Demirdjian It all depends what you mean by "lose weight." If you’re in a battle with your scale, cardio is the way to go. If you want to look toned in your bikini, though, it's time to get comfortable with strength training. Cardio is the simplest thing you can do when it comes to burning calories. Let’s talk science: if you burn more calories than you consume in a day, you will definitely lose weight. Step on a treadmill, run three miles, and you’ll burn around 300 calories. You don’t need any special equipment, have a deep knowledge of any complicated exercises, just a pair of sneakers and your limbs. That’s why most newbies just run for miles, or use the elliptical; it’s pretty difficult to mess up. Something you’re probably thinking about is how many calories you’re burning during the actual workout - that's got to count for something, right? Minute per minute, cardio unquestionably burns more calories than strength training, which could explain why, according to a recent Duke University study, compared to strength trainers, aerobic exercisers lose more weight in less time. If you do a longer cardio session, you could burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 500-800 calories, depending on the exact length and intensity level. That is a fairly decent number and will definitely help with your fat loss goals. Since you must burn off 3500 calories in order to lose one pound of body fat, if you do enough of these cardio sessions, and make sure you're not eating these calories back, weight loss will take place. The problem with this is, you are most likely to waste a lot of time, and also, most likely get really bored. In addition to that, cardio doesn't really do a lot for your muscles. For example, in a Penn State study, dieters lost 21 pounds whether they performed cardio or strength training. But for the cardio group, six of the pounds lost were muscle mass, while the lifters lost almost pure fat—and probably fit into their skinny jeans better because of it. So, while the weight training session may not burn as many per minute calories during the actual workout, the overall calorie burning benefits you receive from it typically outweigh that of cardio. Strength training is the number-one way to build more muscle. And for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving a single one of those muscles, say trainers. Studies have demonstrated that after a weight training workout, the metabolism can be boosted for up to 36 hours post-workout, meaning rather than burning say 60 calories an hour while sitting and watching TV, you're burning 70. While you may think, 'Big deal - 10 extra calories', when you multiply this by 36 hours, you can see what a huge difference that makes in your daily calorie spending over that day and a half. Ultimately, all of this doesn't mean that you should retire your running shoes, especially if you're a stress eater. Cardio is one of the best ways to reduce stress. The best answer? A fitness plan that includes both cardio and strength training.
Written by guest author Rawiya Bikhazi Whether getting back to working out, starting a new routine, or pushing harder than usual, we have all experienced post-exercise soreness. What you experience is called DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. It shows up 6 to 8 hours after exercising and peaks in at 48-hours and can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level. This type of delayed muscle stiffness is normal, lasts for a couple of days, and in studies have shown that it is actually a sign of your improving fitness. So what Causes DOMS? Exercise is a voluntary form of stress. When you are working out you're forcing your muscle fibers to work in ways they're not used to. This stress can cause microtrauma to your connective tissues, which ultimately leads to inflammation and pain. DOMS, not to be confused with the burning sensation experienced mid-workout which is induced by lactic acid quickly dissipating out of the muscles, is an inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitize nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensations of pain. It’s also worth mentioning that while most exercise can induce some DOMS, exercise with a greater emphasis on the eccentric phase (the lengthening or stretching phase) plays the most significant role in the manifestation of DOMS. OK, so soreness is basically my muscles adapting, but is DOMS an indicator that my muscle fibers are getting stronger? Actually Yes. Developing and growing muscle is caused by the repeated breakdown and build-up of over time. DOMS is an indicator of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD), which, in turn, is associated with the strengthening of muscle tissue and hypertrophy. In other words that soreness you feel after a workout is a pretty good indicator that your muscle fibers are getting stronger and more efficient. Providing you're fueling yourself with adequate amounts of protein the next time you ask your muscles to do the same workout, they'll be better prepared for the stress. Is there a way to limit or reduce the symptoms of DOMS? There's no quick fix to make it simply go away. If you want to see steady improvements in the gym, you're going to have to resign yourself to the occasional discomfort of DOMS. Sorry. But here are some tried and tested tips to reduce the effect of DOMS: 1. Compression Tights Research found that marathoners who wore compression gear in the 24 hours after a race reported less soreness. 2. Submit To The Foam Roller It is ridiculously low-tech, but a cylinder of foam can ease tightness and tension between your muscles and fascia (the connective tissue). Using your bodyweight, you roll major muscle groups (glutes, quads, upper back, calves) over the foam, applying pressure to tight areas and trigger points to smooth out knots and increase blood flow. Foam rolling can be painful, but it shouldn’t be unbearable – if it is, get yourself to the physio. 3. Try Topical Menthols Balms like VICKS and VapoRub have a pronounced cooling sensation on the skin that reduces muscle pain. The menthol causes calcium ions to affect neurons that sense temperature, which in turn causes a cooling sensation and inhibits the brain/pain connection. 4. Pre-Condition Your Muscles Ensuring that you warm up before exercising by lightly working the same muscles that you are going to train can go a long way to reducing DOMS. Bodyweight exercises or using light weights to do the moves you’re about to perform can be good for this. 5. Blow Hot And Cold In The Bath Or Shower Blood flow transporting nutrients to the muscles and clear metabolites are an important aspect of reducing DOMS. Physiotherapists often advise switching between cold and hot while in the shower. This causes alternating vasodilatation and vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the affected area. 6. Scoff Cherries Eat a couple of handfuls of cherries after your workout to halt the onset of DOMS. Cherries are packed with anthocyanins, which help to increase the rate that oxygen travels to your ailing muscles. This will ensure less pain the day after your workout and a quicker recovery. 7. Coffee Can Do More Than Keep You Awake While the benefits of caffeine on training and endurance are well documented, caffeine’s ability to reduce DOMS is not so well known – even though it’s one of the most effective ways to do it. 8. Lube Up With Joint Lubrication Therapy Smeared on the soft tissue around aching joints, Joint Gels reduce pain and stiffness. Used morning and evening on already painful joints, or half an hour before exercise, the gel contains microscopic spheres which are absorbed through the skin to lubricate damaged joints. Research shows it’s as effective as a prescription painkiller and clears DOMS 12 hours faster. 9. Make Your Recovery Active Active recovery is a great way to help to reduce the inflammation and pain that comes with DOMS. Aim to perform some low-impact aerobic exercise both immediately after an intense workout and in the days following So should I exercise through DOMS? Try it: you’ll find you can handle more volume than you think. While the muscle will mostly recover within 48 hours, soreness can linger for longer. After 48 hours your performance should be back up to, or beyond what it was – even if it still hurts a little. Don’t believe the nonsense about ‘not training on a sore muscle’. You can handle it. So What is 'good pain’ and when is it too much? Getting DOMS does not always translate into building more muscle and could cause more harm than good. A little post-workout soreness is a good thing, but a lot of soreness isn’t necessarily better, and in some cases, it’s straight-up bad. DOMS shouldn't leave you laid up in bed for a week. It shouldn't prevent you from heading back to the gym for another workout. And it certainly shouldn't send you to the hospital for rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can occur when muscle tissue has been damaged excessively. The best way to deal with post-workout soreness is to prevent excessive soreness from taking place. This means you should ease your way into new workouts, and go light when you alter your usual routine. Progress slowly and continue increasing your effort. You’ll notice you get less sore with more effort.