Jen Widerstrom Shows Off Her 17-Day Keto Diet Transformation After 'A Very Chaotic Six Months'

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Jen Widerstrom followed an intensive ketogenic diet for the last 17 days, and she’s ready to share her ab-filled results.

The former Biggest Loser trainer strictly followed her diet for her mental health, after dealing with “a huge amount of stress” over the last six months. She announced on Jan. 18 that she was going to try out the keto diet after feeling out of shape.

“I’ve had a very chaotic six months and for the first time I visually see how that chaos is reflected in my eating habits and mental health,” Widerstrom, 35, wrote at the time. “With a huge amount of stress alongside many things to be thankful for, I have been drinking a lot, eating fast food, and to be honest been mentally checked out. To see the distention and my gut is the physical evidence that I’ve clearly been avoiding handling what I’ve been feeling.”

Seventeen days later, Widerstrom is in a better headspace after committing fully to the diet.

“My greatest takeaway: I have the power to do something about the way I feel and I also get to decide how to move through what happens to me,” she wrote on Instagram. “I do not have to be a victim but I do get to choose how I cope with my stress. It’s up to me on whether I check out or not — and through this experience I’ve chosen to participate everyday of my life going forward.”

And as far as how the diet itself went, Widerstrom said that she was impressed by how quickly she saw results, that she had no cravings and what she could and couldn’t eat was very clear. But Widerstrom says she couldn’t stick to the keto diet all the time, because starch, one of the banned foods, an essential part of her diet.

“My body NEEDS starch so I choose not to live in ketogenesis,” she said.

What Widerstrom wants her followers to really learn from her though, is that anyone can make a change to their lifestyle and take control of their health.

“YOU HAVE THE SAME POWER,” she said.

Source: Health bests

Eating Fruit Can Actually Help You Lose Weight. A Nutritionist Explains

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Here's some good news if you love berries, pears, and apples: Ditching fruit isn’t necessary to lose weight. It’s also not smart. Yes, fruit contains carbs and naturally-occurring sugar. But there are important reasons to make fruit a daily staple in your diet, even when you're working to slim down. The key is to eat it strategically. Doing so can actually help you shed pounds.

Natural substances in fruit—including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and prebiotics—are incredibly good for you, not just in terms of protecting against chronic diseases, but also for managing your weight. Even if you eat plenty of veggies, nixing fruit means missing out on the unique antioxidants they provide.

In research, fruit has actually been tied to weight loss, not weight gain. One study found that overweight and obese adults who ate more fruit experienced greater weight loss than those who didn't. Another study, which followed more than 130,000 adults over 24 years, found that consuming fruit was associated with improved weight loss over time.

This link may be because fruit can help boost satiety, satisfy a sweet craving, and decrease your desire to dig into goodies like candy or baked goods. Fruits also tend to replace higher-calorie treats, whereas veggies tend to be add-ons. In other words, you’re much more likely to choose an apple rather than a piece of broccoli in place of a cookie; and that swap can help you limit total calories and avoid added sugar, the real culprit when it comes to weight gain.

RELATED: Here’s What to Eat for Lunch If You’re Trying to Slim Down, According to a Nutritionist

As for sugar, even the strictest guidelines from groups like the American Heart Association and World Health Organization don't lump the sugar from fresh, whole fruit in with added sugar, the refined type used to sweeten foods (think almond milk, or the spoonful you add to your morning coffee).

That's because the naturally-occurring sugar in fruit is much less concentrated, and bundled with water and a number of key nutrients. For example, one whole orange provides about 17 grams of carb, about 12 of which are natural sugar. But it also supplies fluid, 12% of your daily fiber needs, and nearly 100% the recommended amount of vitamin C, along with B vitamins, potassium, and substances like hesperidin, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.

Compare that to one tablespoon of table sugar, which contains 16 grams of carbs and no nutrients. Essentially, whole, fresh fruit and added sugar don’t belong in the same category.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited amounts of fruit. Fruit does contain carbohydrates, and the job of carbs is to fuel the activity of your cells. When you eat more carbs than you can burn after a meal or snack, even from fruit, the unneeded surplus can either feed existing fat, or plump up fat cells.

For this reason your total carb intake, including fruit, should correspond to your fuel demands, which are based on your height, ideal weight, sex, age, and physical activity level. Most of my women clients can afford to eat two servings of fruit per day (more if they are taller or more active), with one serving being one cup, or one piece about the size of a baseball.

Since the carbs in fruit help fuel activity, when you eat fruit matters too. Downing a huge bowl of grapes late at night while you’re watching TV or surfing the web (when your fuel requirement is low) doesn’t make a lot of sense. Instead, build fruit into the meals and snacks you consume before your more active hours of the day. For many of my clients that may mean eating a small banana 20 or 30 minutes before a workout, or eating berries with breakfast before heading to work—and pairing an apple with almond butter in the afternoon to help power through the rest of the day.

RELATED: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

As far as the type of fruit you choose, try to get a good variety to expose your body to the broadest spectrum of nutrients and antioxidants. In my opinion no fruit is off limits if you’re thoughtful about the amount and timing. For example, while watermelon is a high glycemic-index fruit, enjoying it when it’s in season is smart, since one cup of cubes contains less than 50 calories, and it provides vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants tied to anti-inflammation, protection against heart disease, and improved exercise endurance and recovery.

Bottom line: fruit is incredibly nutritious and not inherently fattening. Its impact on your weight depends on when you consume it, and how much you eat. Banishing fruit completely can backfire for weight loss, and negatively impact your overall wellness. Instead, strike the right balance to reap all the benefits of fruit and still achieve your slim-down goals.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Health bests

Trying to Lose Weight? Your Partner May Reap the Benefits, Too

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Committing to a weight-loss program can have an unexpected benefit: Your significant other may shed some extra pounds, too, even if they aren’t trying. That’s what researchers found in a new study on the so-called weight-loss ripple effect, published today in the journal Obesity.

The study, which was sponsored by Weight Watchers, tracked the progress of 130 married or cohabitating couples for six months. In all of the couples, one partner had a desire to lose weight, and both partners agreed to weigh-ins after three and six months. Half of the partners followed Weight Watchers, while the others received a four-page handout with healthy-eating and exercise tips, and were told to try to lose weight on their own.

The researchers wanted to see if one approach would work better than the other. As it turns out, they were both effective, and everyone involved lost weight. After three months, those in the Weight Watchers group had lost more weight (about 7.4 pounds versus 4.3 pounds), but by the end of the trial, both groups had lost about 14 pounds.

But the partners who didn’t participate — most of whom were men — lost weight, too. On average, people whose partners joined Weight Watchers lost about 3.3 pounds in the first three months, and about 4.9 pounds over the full six-month study. Those whose partners were given a self-guided weight-loss approach had lost about 2.1 pounds at the three-month check-in, and 4.2 pounds at six months. Because of the study’s margin of error, the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.

Lead author Amy Gorin, PhD, a professor of psychological sciences at the University of Connecticut, said in a press release that when one person changes their behavior, it’s not unusual for the people around them to change, as well. When one partner starts counting calories, weighing themselves regularly, or making healthier food choices, for example, their partners might emulate them.

Four or five pounds may not seem like a lot. But by the end of the study, about a third of the “untreated” partners in the study had lost more than 3% of their initial body weight, which the experts say has measurable health benefits.

Partners also tended to lose weight at similar rates: If one member of a couple lost weight at a steady pace, his or her partner did too, and the same goes for people who lost weight slowly.

“This data suggests that weight loss can spread within couples, and that widely available lifestyle programs have weight loss effects beyond the treated individual,” the authors wrote in their paper. They also suggest that programs like Weight Watchers could help more people by actively involving spouses and partners in the weight loss process.

Gorin says she and her colleagues next hope to look at whether the weight-loss ripple effect could go even further, to other family members who share a household, or to close friends or coworkers.

Source: Health bests

How This Dad Lost Nearly 100 Lbs.—and Gained a Six-Pack

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Jeremiah Peterson decided to get serious about weight loss when a family hiking excursion last summer proved to be too taxing for his then 290-lb. frame.

“I remember being bent over heaving just trying to catch my breath,” the Missoula, Montana-resident tells PEOPLE. “When I looked up, I saw my wife and three kids [10, 8 and 7] easily hiking, talking and laughing with each other — without me. It was a hard-hitting moment.”

He continued: “I felt sadness and shame in that moment thinking how I had let myself get to this, but so much deeper than that. If I continued to live like this, I would not live.”

When he returned home, Peterson, 39, began researching weight loss options and found a video advertising a transformation challenge. “[It] sealed the deal for me. I signed up knowing I was going to give this challenge every single thing I had,” he says.

Prior to losing weight, “a typical day for me was to not eat all day and then get home from work, drink a few beers and eat a big dinner,” says the antique store owner. “Putting my body into starvation mode and then overeating made my body blow up like a balloon, quite literally. I had constant bloating, heartburn and awful stomach issues.”

After finding out he was gluten intolerant, Peterson switched over to a keto-based diet consisting of healthy fats, lean protein and green vegetables. The new nutrition plan and twice-daily hour-long hikes “made the weight start to pour off.”

He also started weight lifting six days a week, focusing on a different body part each day.

Peterson ended up dropping 82 lbs. during the 150-day transformation contest, called the 1st Phorm Transphormation Challenge — and he won the $50,000 grand prize.

Now 198 lbs., Peterson continues to document his journey on Instagram and inspire others.

“I have so much more energy and I feel like I am always in a great mood. I feel like I have become the dad and husband that I really wanted to be,” says Peterson.  “I feel like I have drive and ambition like I have never had before in my life — and I’m almost 40!”

Source: Health bests