Are you getting enough calcium in your diet? Calcium is important not only for building healthy bones, but it’s also critical for maintaining a normal heart rhythm, helping nerves function properly, and for muscle contraction. Most adults need between 1000 and 1200 milligrams of calcium per day ‘” depending upon their age.

As you might expect, the best sources of calcium are dairy products – but which ones are best? If you’re watching your calorie intake and don’t want to eat too many full fat dairy products, you need to get the most bang for your buck. What are the best dairy sources of calcium?

Dairy Sources of Calcium: Yogurt

A single cup of yogurt has as much as 400 milligrams of calcium. This may vary somewhat between brands, so spend some time reading labels and choose one that’s high in calcium and low in fat and sugar. The advantage of eating yogurt as a source of calcium is you also get the benefits of the probiotic bacteria found in the yogurt.

The “friendly bacteria” found in yogurt keeps the intestines healthy and the immune system primed to fight off infection. Always choose a yogurt that has live yogurt cultures. Not all do, so read the label carefully. What about soft serve yogurt? It’s considerably lower in calcium with only about 100 milligrams in a half cup.

Milk is high on the list of dietary calcium sources

Dairy Sources of Calcium: Milk

As you would expect, milk is high on the list of dietary calcium sources. A cup of milk has about 300 milligrams of calcium. To get enough calcium, most people need three or four glasses a day – if that’s their only calcium source.

The fat can really add up, so it’s important to choose skim milk. If you don’t like drinking straight milk, use it on hot cereal or turn it into a tasty fruit smoothie. If you add both yogurt and skim milk to a fruit smoothie, you’ll have a tasty, high calcium, breakfast drink.

Dairy Sources of Calcium: Cheese

An ounce of cheese has around 250 milligrams of calcium. Most cheese is pretty high in fat and calories, so unless you’re eating reduced fat cheese, it’s better to get most of your calcium from skim milk and yogurt. You’ll take in more calories eating cheese to meet your calcium quota than eating yogurt.

What about cottage cheese? Cottage cheese is lower in calories and fat, but a half cup only has around 70 milligrams of calcium. It has about the same amount of calcium has a half cup of broccoli.

Dairy Sources of Calcium: Ice Cream

This is certainly the way most people would like to get their calcium. A single cup of ice cream has 180 milligrams of calcium. You’d have to eat five cups of ice cream to get your daily quota of calcium – which may taste good – but the calories and fat really add up. Stick to yogurt and yogurt smoothies and leave the ice cream for a special occasion.

A single cup of ice cream has 180 milligrams of calcium

Dairy Sources of Calcium: The Bottom Line?

Dairy foods are the best sources of calcium, but non-dairy sources such as tofu, collard green, and spinach are also good alternatives. Too much dairy may not be healthy and may increase the risk of some types of cancer, so get your calcium from both dairy and non-dairy sources whenever possible.

If you’re trying to lose weight and seem to have bumped up against a plateau, there are ways to increase the calories you burn in every work out resulting in quicker weight loss. Prevention magazine’s April 2010 issue has a great article on ways to improve weight loss. A lot of it entails powering up your circuit training routine in between each individual machine or strength exercise to burn more calories and get faster weight loss results. It’s just a matter of knowing a few tips.

Talk Less, Move More

Sounds like something your 3rd grade teacher would tell you, but it’s tempting to talk to others working out when you’re doing your circuit, especially if you’re with a friend or 2. However, if you can easily hold a conversation you’re probably not working hard enough. You should need to stop and take a couple deeper breaths in the middle of each sentence, so try to use that as a guide while in talking between circuits.

Bring Your Cardio Up a Notch

Chances are, in between machines or strength exercises, you either walk or march in place. Pump up your cardio by jogging in place or by doing squats, stationary lunges, jumping jacks, or high knees for around 30 seconds. These exercises are more intense and require lots more energy for increased cardio.

Faster Lifting

If you’re on a Curve’s hydraulic machine, you might find that by speeding up your reps, you’ll increase more resistance and a recruit more muscle fiber for quicker toning. For each 30 second circuit, count the reps, then at your next workout try to beat that number.

Cross Training

Research has shown that by adding new types of exercises, you can rev up your metabolism which results in plateau busting. On non- Curve days, try using a fitness DVD, riding a bike, or you might consider adding fast interval walking.

New types of exercises

Tracking Progress

If you want instant feedback, try a heart rate monitor or maybe a CurvesSmart. The CurvesSmart is a computerized program that many club locations have. This program adjusts your machine’s resistance based on your individual heart rate, endurance level, and your personal range of motion.

Changing my own personal work out program has indeed helped me gain a bit of ground on calorie burning as well as work other areas of my body that weren’t previously getting worked as intensely. I think you’ll find these suggestions do the trick in stepping up your work-out game to give you a better edge on weight loss.

Here are fat-burning stool routines, HIIT style (high intensity interval training). Warning: These HIIT stool routines are not for the poorly conditioned or for people with “bad” knees. If you want to melt puddles of fat and at the same time, enjoy strenuos exercise, you’ll love these high intensity interval training stool workouts.

I’m a certified personal trainer, and I have only my fittest clients doing these HIIT stool workouts. The height of the apparatus can vary, and you can also use a standard weightlifting bench. However, I prefer stools because this is what stools are for, versus trying to get an available bench when someone wants to use it for weightlifting. Stools are also more stable.

In general there are three standard heights of plyometric (jumping) apparatus. The following HIIT routines are to be done on the lowest stool, which is between one and one and a half feet high.

Hold a 45 pound plate or dumbbell in each hand. The metal plates are a hassle to hold onto sustained, due to their design, but the rubber-covered plates have “openings” where you can more easily grip.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) on Stool

Step up and down on the apparatus 10 times, as fast as possible, with the right leg while holding the weights. As fast as possible. After 10 times, switch legs with no rest in between the switch, and repeat – as fast as possible. Plus, each time you step up, straighten leg all the way; don’t just get the foot up there and then quickly come down; actually extend the knee so that you have a straight leg, foot fully on the stool, before coming down.

Do this as quickly as possible for high intensity interval training, 20 step-ups total, holding 45 pound weights, and you will be heaving at the end.

Next HIIT stool routine: Do the same thing as previously described except alternate legs. Step as quickly as possible. Try not to hesitate, especially when both feet are on the floor. Move rapidly!

Next HIIT stool routine: Holding 35 pound plates or dumbbells, do the “lunge step.” This is the technique used in step aerobics classes. Ask a step aerobics instructor to demonstrate if the following description is not clear:

A lunge step begins with both feet on the stool. Keeping left foot atop apparatus, lower right foot to floor and just tap ball of foot to floor while keeping left foot on stool. Immediately after right foot touches floor, bring right foot back onto stool and immediately bring left ball of foot down to tap floor, then quickly bring it back atop apparatus.

Do this rapidly enough so that there is no pausing in between touch-downs. If the lunge step is done fast enough, it lookes like scissors or switch jumping when the legs are alternated. Do this while holding the 35 pounders. Warning: Done rapidly requires athletic ability; many people will be prone to stumbling. Make sure feet always land squarely on stool rather than on its edge.

A lunge step begins with both feet on the stool

Do 10-14 lunge steps each leg, and at the end you should be out of breath.

Final HIIT stool workout is without weights. Straddle the apparatus, then with both feet at same time, jump up on it (from straddle position), but then immediately return to start position (straddling stool). Do this as fast as possible: From straddle position, jump atop, jump off, jump atop, jump off, back and forth very rapidely for 30 seconds.

So here are three HIIT routines with a stool, but do any combination or order of them for a total of eight cycles, with a few minutes of passive rest in between, and your body will burn fat like crazy.