Burn your body fat with “Catechin” drinks! : 「カテキン」が含む飲料で体脂肪を燃やす!

Following the introduction of Chitosan in my previous post, this time I wanna raise another popular health key term in Japan: Catechin (or pronounced as Kai-te-kin in Japanese). You can see catechin being included in so many tea drinks in the convenience stores, accompanied with a claim that they could help you burn your body fat. What is up with this health trend? And how does this catechin really work?

 

The brand you might probably see the most is called “Healthya” or pronounced as “he-ru-chia” in Japanese. (pictured above) The products that are quite popular right now among young working people (with quite high health awareness) is the green and blue drinks above. They include 540 mg of catechin in one bottle, to be consumed one bottle a day. If consumed consecutively for many months, it will help you create a body with high metabolism rate, thus, burning fat easily. check out its website for more details here: http://www.kao.co.jp/healthya/catechin/

You need to know here that drinking a bottle after an unhealthy meal doesn’t cancel that meal, make it healthier, or block the fat from entering your body. Drinking catechin should be seen as an accumulated effort in constructing a new inner body system that would be easier to burn fat. It’s actually a long-term effort. According to a research, you will start seeing result after at least 3 months of DAILY consumption. 

So what is catechin?
It is a type of natural phenol and antioxidant, a part of  the chemical family of flavonoids, a term that might be frequent with which can be found in soy products, cocoa, or red wine for example. (Wikipedia) Among its many types of catechins, only one of them is said to have this effect: Epicatechin gallate (ECg) (let’s call it “Gallete-type catechin”). How it helps reduce fat in your boday? To make it simple to understand: When fat is consumed through food, it would be absorbed in small intestine, where the digestive enzyme called Lipase breaks down the fat particles so they can be absorbed. Gallete-type catechin blocks the action of lipase, thus, lessens fat to be absorbed into the body. On the other hand, when cholesterol is consumed, it would be incorporated into small particles called micelles produced by bile that’s released from the gall bladder. These micelles would in turn be absorbed into the body in the small intestine. Gallete-type catechin would extract the cholesterol from these micelles, thus lessen the cholesterol level to be absorbed into the body.

(Find out more here: http://www.itoen.co.jp/catechin/gallate/)

I would suggest you try the blue healthya bottle above!! It includes 540 mg of catechins, which is approximately about 8 cups of green tea (because after comparing the products, this product seems to contain the highest amount of catechins). I know that it might not be possible for us to keep making green tea and drinking it the whole day. So for that, you can take this drink instead if you wanna try. It would taste quite bitter but that’s because it contains catechin. The down side of this is probable the cost: it’s sold at 194 yen per bottle. (which is, to be fair, the average price for all “healthy” tea drinks nowadays after tax increase T__T)

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10 Diet survival tips: Italian restaurant edition: 【イタリアンレストラン版】ダイエット中のフードガイド

Now, if you’re on a diet or on a clean eating lifestyle and don’t wanna risk your waistline or spending time feeling guilty after visiting an Italian restaurant, here are some good tips! I know pizza and pasta are the perfect traps that are so hard to turn down, especially when you’re among friends, but you really don’t have to limit yourself to one plate of salad. In addition to food, you should also enjoy your companions and spend quality time.

Pasta dishes in Japan are pretty huge in size. You would normally get more than 1 serving, sometimes almost 2-3 servings per dish. On average, you will be consuming more than 500 kcal. But it is not always about calories! It’s more about what the food contains, which is a crucial factor to an overall quality of your meal. So, you can still go and enjoy a get-together with your friends over Italian food and you’re your diet on track!

Here are some tips to keep in mind when attacked by the menu:

  1. Choose your pasta sauce. Look for any dish with tomato- or oil-base. Skip those with cream – yeah, those with white creamy looking sauce; say bye-bye to Carbonara for a while. Oh, and this includes cream tomato sauce, too. Pasta with olive oil base can be really good for you unless the chef makes it too oily. :/ Also, don’t wipe up all the sauce or else you will end up taking in unnecessary calories you don’t need.
  2. Choose your pasta. Choose the slimmest noodle possible. If there is a choice of “angel hair” then choose it over ravioli or penne. If whole wheat option is possible, choose that over the plain white pasta. Mostly in Japan, though, you’ll be presented with various kinds of spaghetti. In some places, you can also use how many grams you want. That option is usually for guys who heavily dope on carbs. Always ASK if they can make your dish with 100 grams of pasta. (I used to see such option labeled as the “lady’s set”).
  3. Choose your proteins. Look for menus that include more protein such as minced chicken, minced pork, nama ham (prosciutto), or seafood. Feel yourself up with good protein instead of simple carbs.
  4. Be careful of your salad. If you go to family restaurant, salads can be the killer. They will fill the bowl up with mayonnaise or creamy dressing. Choose salad with lots of LEAFY green and opt for olive oil and balsamic sauce or lemon. Also, always ASK for the dressing to be served SEPARATELY. This tip really means a lot and it may help you save more than 100 kcal.  Same thing with grated cheese, ask it to be provided on the side so that you can sprinkle it on your own. Give it half to one tablespoon. If you need more flavor, ask for salt and pepper, especially those that come with the miller. You will love the fresh smell and tanginess of pepper!
  5. Choose the right soup. When it comes to soup, always choose CLEAR over CREAM. It’s that easy. During your diet, you don’t need butter and cream. Rather, you will want to choose veggies soup to warm your stomach up and reduce the hunger that would make you jump into the main dish later. You’ll be surprised that at some restaurants, clear and creamy soup can be more than 100 kcal different.
  6. Skip the soft drink set. In Japan, it is very common that you’ll have a choice of paying a little bit more to have a soft drink. This gives you a choice of Coca-Cola, sprite, ginger ale, orange juice, grapefruit juice, milk tea, iced/hot coffee, etc. This is when you should be careful! If you have a choice (meaning, not included in a lunch set for example), you can just skip it and just order WATER. If the soft drink is included in your set, choose Oolong tea! It would help slow down the fat absorption process in your body. Never order juices or milky tea/coffee or any soft drink during your diet. You’ll be consuming a lot of empty calories – all of which is sugar. L For wine, have a glass if you REALLY need to. Just remember a glass is supposed to be the limit if you plan to have a hearty meal.
  7. What about pizza? Personally, I wouldn’t advise you to go near pizza just because it is harder to get around it. You will be eating carbs and cheese. And although you order something plain like tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil (which, by the way, is simply a divine combination), it would be hard to control your caloric intake. Just to be safe, order something else. If your friend insists you have a piece, go ahead but leave the edge.
  8. BREADDDDD. This might be the hardest thing to resist or monitor. You could say no to warm crispy bread especially when it comes with butter. When presented with a basket of bread, set it in front of your friends, far away from you. Take ONE SLICE of baguette (as is often served in Japan) and skip the butter. Better yet, pass BOTH bread and butter if you know you’re gonna be eating pasta afterwards.
  9. If there is a meat/fish dish, choose it over pasta/pizza! Beautiful piece of LEAN protein (such as fish, lamp, or Tenderloin steak) would leave you no guilt. Just be careful to avoid those with MASHED POTATOES.
  10. Dessert anyone? I’d suggest you pass the dessert. But if you NEED to, don’t panic, go straight to one word: “sorbet.” It has the lowest calories in the whole dessert menu, if not including fruits. Lemon sorbet or anything sour would clean your palette really well but won’t leave your stomach heavy. You won’t wanna be loading in other 300-400 kcal after a whole meal. Rather, reward yourself (if you need to) with refreshing sorbet that would score around 100 kcal per serving. Just be reminded that although low in fat, it is still high in sugar.

Hope these tips would help you to navigate through the menus and fail-proof your diet journey. Don’t let yummy Italian food ruins your diet attempt. Or on the other hand, don’t be too stressful/restrictive about dieting that you forget to enjoy amazingly tasty food. They can go together hand in hand; you just have to know what to choose!

Next time you visit a restaurant, look for tomato based pasta, ask the waiter to reduce the serving size, ask for water or oolong tea, ask for a separate bowl of salad dressing or cheese topping, choose clear soup, be careful to take just ONE slice of bread, and choose sorbet if dessert is to be had.

Good luck and enjoy good food!

Chitosan: how it really works as diet pills? : 「キトサン」って本当にやせる効果があるの?

This post is for those of you who have tried out several diet pills that are highly popular in Japan. Many foreigners visit chain drug stores and buy loads of different diet pills back home. I would say I had my own experience as well until recently I started to get curious of how these pills are different from each other and do they really work?? One day I visited a Matsumoto Kiyoshi store in Harajuku and was examining this particular diet product called “After Diet” (アフターダイエット)that claims to work when you take it AFTER meal. (Normal pills require you to take BEFORE meal). (Picture below) And the counter guy told me that “actually there is a more effective product if you’re looking for this particular ingredient.” He referred to Chitosan. What he suggested me instead is another popular product in Japan from a brand called Livita; it’s called Chitosan Aojiru (キトサン青汁), looking like green powder that you use to mix in water. (second picture below)

What I learned from talking to this guy is that the “Livita” product could guarantee more results. From the picture, you can see the circle logo with a stick-man inside. That is called “Tokuho” logo, which is given to products that are guaranteed to be effective and safe for general consumption. Anyway, that all brought my attention to what Chitosan really is and why is it used so much in different diet pills.

 So what is Chitosan?

From WedMD: Chitosan is a sugar that is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp. It is used to treat obesity, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, “tired blood” (anemia), loss of strength and appetite, and trouble sleeping (insomnia).

From Wikipedia: Chitosan is widely marketed as diet pills as a “fat binder” which is supposed to limit fat absorption in the body. In an experimental model of the digestive tract, chitosan was shown to interact with oil, which inhibited absorption and enhanced lipid excretion, but the interaction between chitosan and fat is still not well understood. It is also under research for several potential dietary applications. One of them being as a soluble dietary fiber, causing the movement in your digestive tract to slow down, hence slowing down your sense of hunger. It is relatively INSOLUBLE in water, but can be dissolved in acids, which would make it a highly-sticky dietary fiber to say in plain word. Such fibers might inhibit the uptake of fat by increasing the thickness of inner layer of the intestines (observed in animals).

Well, this is the origin of why chitosan is being advertised as capable to “slow down the absorption of fat” (脂肪の吸収を抑える). You can actually see this claim everywhere now. Go to combini and you will see so many brands of tea with the “Tokuho” logo, claiming that the tea could slow down the fat absorption and should be drunk together or after an oily meal. Another type would be the “body metabolism enhancer” (脂肪を燃やす) type, which I’m not gonna talk about today.

Basically, chitosan acts as a very cool type of fiber that interferes with the fat absorbing process after you eat. That is pretty much all there is to the claim in terms of weight loss and diet pills. Of course, it has many other useful applications in other fields.

Some considerations to think about when taking chitosan:

1. Fiber is good for you and can help with your constipation problem. But taking too much fiber can also be the CAUSE of it. Too much is never good.
2. If you have allergy to seafood like crab or shrimp, then you shouldn’t really risk.

Notes:

– You can’t really obtain chitosan even though you eat seafood. That is because chitosan is extracted from the shells and not the flesh that you eat.
– The claim that chitosan would attach itself to a fat particle, wrap itself around it, and together would be excreted from the body has not been sufficiently supported by evidence. It could do that in WATER, but not in acidic environment, which is basically that of your intestinal tract.

As is the case with other ingredients, diet pills make chitosan sound amazing and give us high expectation that it would really work. However, I think the best way is to incorporate it with a healthy lifestyle; not relying solely on the effect of pills that is going to vary depending on each person’s condition. Train yourself to choose good food is always better than indulging in oily food then taking 3-4 pills hoping that that would be all it takes to stop the fat from entering your body.

Source:
http://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/252955/2/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitosan
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-625-CHITOSAN.aspx?activeIngredientId=625&activeIngredientName=CHITOSAN

7 Best bedtime snacking: a smaller version of breakfast! 寝る前の間食 ベスト7!

7 Best bedtime snacking: a smaller version of breakfast! 

I guess this happens to all of us: the stomach protests you just right after you lie down on your bed, you can’t sleep, the only thing running around in your head is food. Your brain then starts to haunt you with “I need fooodddd. I’m hungryyyy. Feed meeee.” And sometimes you give up and just wanna grab something to make that voice go away.

Well, in that situation it is very risky to make a wrong choice that could effect how well you sleep. You might grab chocolates, biscuits, cakes, pastry, bread, anything that is easy to munch, etc. But listen here…you can prepare your late night snacking staple ahead of time and avoid any emergency food that would make you regret after eating.

I have listed the best 7 foods that could help you survive the war with your stomach, leaving your weight intact and your sleep undisturbed.

1. 80-kcal almond milk from Glico. There are 2 flavors, plain and coffee. I personally am addicted to the coffee version. Apart from the bounty amount of vitamin E and no cholesterol, almond milk also includes more fiber content, helping you to feel full longer. By the time you might get hungry again, you probably are asleep. My best recommendation here! Check out the website: http://net.glico.jp/almond_kouka/index.html

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You can also check out another brand called Almond Breeze, although it might a bit harder to find as it is not as widely distributed as the Glico ones. Check the post about it here: https://tokyofinder.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/almond-breeze-is-here-in-japan-too-%E3%82%A2%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A2%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89%E3%83%BB%E3%83%96%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%82%BA-%E3%82%B9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%83%BB%E3%83%95%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89/

2. low-sugar plain yogurt or greek yogurt. This is the food I ate the MOST OFTEN to calm my stomach down during midnight. It never failed me. My recommendation is those PLAIN yogurt WITHOUT sugar from Danone or greek yogurt from Morinaga that I recommended before in my previous posts https://tokyofinder.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/the-only-greek-yogurt-in-japan-%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E3%81%A7%E3%81%AE%E4%B8%80%E3%81%A4%E3%81%A0%E3%81%91%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AE%E3%83%AA%E3%82%B7%E3%83%A3%E3%83%A8%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B0%E3%83%AB%E3%83%88/

Try to stick with those with lowest amount of sugar possible because that it won’t mean anything that you’re trying choose a “healthy” choice like yogurt. You’ll be consuming more than 10 grams of sugar which is nothing different from eating a candy bar! Be sure to choose those with less than 50 kcal, and less than 8 grams of sugar for plain yogurt and put your own topping such as a bit of honey, almond slices, or a sprinkle of fiber cereal. Check out the 2 alternatives below. Greek yogurt is actually the perfect snack if you’re kinda “hungry” because it contains about 8 g. of protein, about 4 g. of carbs. Please note, however, that you should SKIP the syrup or honey accompanying this particular greek yogurt recommended above. That would push the calories up from 79 to about 100. I just don’t want you to add sugar during the night without needing too.

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3. cocoa with soy milk. This is easy! Just put 1-2 tablespoon of pure unsweetened cocoa (such as that of Van Houten, the most popular one in Japan) with a tablespoon of sugar (I usually use the 0-kcal sugar) and soy milk in your fridge. You can use low-fat milk, but I recommend soy milk because it has more protein and nutritious goodies in it that would leave your stomach calm and full. Plus, it tastes better! You can also opt for just soy milk.

4. a few pieces of fruits or a banana. Opt for something high in fiber. I often snack on half an apple (one apple here is huge) and a small glass of soy milk. Better yet, choose BANANA!! Why? Many studies have shown that banana is the magic sleeping pill as it has both magnesium and potassium which are natural muscle relaxants and Melatonin which is the hormone naturally released by your body when it’s your time to sleep. Thus, banana helps relax your body and makes you feel sleepy 🙂 Just watch how much you eat because you don’t want to eat too much fruits either! If you eat those with high water content, that might cause you to run to toilet in the midst of your sleep. And one large banana is about 132 kcal so watch it! I would say if you’re not too hungry have half of it, or opt for middle-sized banana. Well, not serious about that.

5. a few pieces of nuts. ALMONDS! No need to say much. Nuts fill you up while making you feel satisfied with the crunch. Have 10-12 pieces of almonds, keeping in mind it is about 8-9 kcal per almond, so you’ll be eating about 80-90 kcal. If you don’t mind waking up and spending a bit of time crunching your nuts instead of drinking them, then almonds are the best choice. On the other hand, don’t choose peanuts or peanut-butter.

6. a bowl of hot oatmeal or non-sugary cereal. Okay, so if you’re REALLY hungry? Go for a smaller version of breakfast here already. Grab a bowl, fill in with a few tablespoons of oatmeal, a few dried fruits, or you can just choose muesli (NO GRANOLA HERE PLEASE) and fill it with hot soy milk/skim milk. If you have no oatmeal, you can try sugarless or non-sweetened cereal. I like to incorporate a sprinkle of fiber cereal (which I would introduce in the future post).

7. hard boiled egg. If you’re on a diet that restricts your carb intake, I suggest you boil many eggs and keep them in your fridge ahead of time. Have one whole egg for 70 kcal without risking any sugar level fluctuation and still get all the goodies and protein. Very good snack if you can resist the sleepiness and have a will to crack the egg and all that. hahaha

Hope you now would be able to make some good choices!

Note about sugar: The reason why I emphasized about low sugar or non-sugary stuff is because the level of sugar in your blood affects your quality of sleep. If you eat high-sugary food, your body is stimulated to use up the sugar in the blood, leaving your blood sugar level low afterwards. When the sugar level is low, the body responds by releasing hormones called adrenaline and cortisol in order to raise the blood sugar to the normal level. HOWEVER, when these two “stress” hormones are released together, they have a side effect that makes your heart beat faster and your body to become alert and active. That is totally not what you want during the late night!

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-79360/Eat-way-better-sleep.html#ixzz31MJYuf3z

Lunch Pack Sandwich in cooperation with Tanita Shokudo, made healthy! ランチパックとタニタ食堂が健康的に

Lunch Pack Sandwich in cooperation with Tanita Shokudo, made healthy! ランチパックとタニタ食堂が健康的に

Spotted in combini nationwide (eg. Newsday, family mart), these 2 products are the result of cooperation between Tanita shokudo and the famous long-standing sandwich brand “Lunch Pack”. On the left is gobou salad and tofu burger (247 kcal). On the right is pumpkin salad and chicken tomato stew (231 kcal). If you notice, one piece would be the carb-dense veggie salad and another piece would be the protein.
These could be better choices among other Lunch Pack products if you want a quick lunch.

Lawson’s new “Uchi Cafe” product: Granola Acai Cheese Bar! : ローソンの新発売「グラノーラ アサイーチーズバー」

On the news just this morning is this new cheese bar by Lawson launched on April 22. Targeting mainly ladies who want to grab quick delicious breakfast with a bit of health concern in the morning, this granola acai cheese bar seems to be the easy choice (the package suggests it as suitable for morning treat). It consists of 2 layers: first is the cheese layer which incorporates acai juice (including cream cheese, acai, casis, and yogurt); the second layer is the granola topping (including wheat flakes, oatmeal, quinoa puff, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries). With the two layers in one bite, I don’t think the flavor could go wrong! One bar is 157 kcal, sold at 180 yen.

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I think Lawson is trying to raise up as many “health keywords” as possible in order to market this product. The keywords to be aware here are “acai”, “granola”, “quinoa”, “oatmeal”, and other fruits… This cheese bar also claims to have fiber and vitamin, making it a clear choice of sweets for girls who want to enjoy without so much guilt.

Personally speaking, sweet is still sweet. It is NOT equal to a bowl of oatmeal topped with yogurt and berries. It is not a bad or fake product, but is clearly riding on the health trend. Before making it a routine morning grab-and-go, make sure you read the label and check out the SUGAR content and fat content in it. Well, cream cheese plus sugar is cheese cake in a disintegrated form, isn’t it? And acai and casis are in the form of “juice”, which is another term for “sugar”, so girls…just be careful not to pair it with some high sugary drink!

Zero-sugar konnyaku and okara noodle substitute : こんにゃくとおからで作った糖質0麺です!

I’ve been wanting to write about this newly found noodle for a while. I found this product in a supermarket called Suntoku in a konnyaku array. If you’re looking for a lower-calorie substitute for normal noodle, this is definitely your answer!! I’m so excited to be sharing this with you! 

Apart from the fact that it has ZERO sugar (omg!), it is only 30 kcal, incorporates 3% of okara powder (which is made from soy beans), and has 10.6 grams of FIBER! (and well 2.2 g, of protein as a bonus) 

It doesn’t have any sauce with it so you’ll have to make your own sauce from Tsuyu or just simply dress it up with some sesame salad dressing! I have tried it and LOVE IT! The texture is very smooth, easy to go through your throat. Also easy to eat with chopsticks although I’m so bad at using them haha

Here’s how it looks like! Look for it in your nearest supermarket!

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