Dieting Myths vs Dieting Facts: Debunking the Fairytales and Lies

Long before the inception of the internet people have always been passing along various health tips and remedies for a number of assorted health issues, allergies and ailments. This distribution of medicinal knowledge was passed from individual to individual via word of mouth and other less conventional means. Even though times have changed and communicative technology has evolved, one thing remains essentially the same: people are still sharing various health tips and remedies for a number of assorted health issues, allergies and ailments.

Now this is not to say that all of these tips are deceptions and lies; however, the majority are usually strange, bizarre and outright insane with numerous medical repercussions. There are far too many dieting facts today that have been tainted by myths and are leading people even further away from their fitness goal. So now that your interest has been piqued let’s take a look at some of the most predominant dieting myths that exist to this day.

Staying Clear of Sugar Is Enough To Help You Shed Those Extra Pounds

It sounds so simple when we choose to say it like that, doesn’t it? Certainly, it’s true that if you are making an effort to lose weight you should make an effort to avoid sugar in the form of treats, candies, snacks, sweets and chocolates.myths_diet_08 The caloric value of foods such as these are almost always extremely high and that coupled with sugar’s addictiveness means that you will eventually eat more than intended, taking in more calories than intended. Nevertheless, it is not as simple as just removing sugar from your diet. Even if you deprive your body of sugar, you can subsequently be taking in far too much junk foods, fried foods and fat filled foods rather than plain old healthy foods.

If you truly desire to maintain a healthy dieting regimen, then you should focus more on lessening your overall caloric consumption and not simply trying to get rid of all sugar (or all fat for that matter). Effectively managing your caloric consumption is one of the true methods of weight loss.

“Just Eat a Salad, You’ll Be Fine”

Sure that salad that you are eating tastes yummy; but just what is it made up it? Is it purely made up of wholesome vegetables and produce; or is it stuffed full of chunks of meat,cream dressing and pieces of cheese.

While this so-called salad can be considered healthy, it may have just as much calories as the typical meal, if not more. What does this mean? It means that this salad is not going to help you shed your weight and it’s probably not helping you maintain your figure as well.

If you are determined to continue eating salads then you should make sure that they are “real” salads that do not have any high calorie added extras. Get a real vegetable salad, add a few nuts and dress it with some natural olive oil. That is a real salad, a real way to maintain your figure and a real meal that can help with weight loss.

Restricting Carbohydrate Intake Is An Effective Way To Lose Weight

Cutting carbs actually provides some health benefits, it helps you lessen your carb intake (obviously); however, this does not mean that it will promote any sort of weight loss for your body. Some of the more popular diets that focus on cutting carbs are actually primarily intended for reducing blood sugar levels in the body (diets such as the Low Carb Diet and the Atkins Diet come to mind).

What many of these sources that are telling you about cutting carbs have probably failed to mention is the difference between simplediet_carbs_pasta_99 carbs and complex carbs. Cutting simple carbs is actually the more effective way of losing weight compared to say cutting out all carbs.

Simple carbs are, in essence, carbohydrates that consist of no supplementary nutrients or digestive enzymes with the carbs themselves. For this reason, these simple carbs will raise your blood sugar levels and do little else.

It is never recommended that you cut all carbs out of your diet (that is just insane) since this can lead to serious dieting problems and detrimental health issues. It is instead suggested that complex carbs are still made a part of your diet, this is better for your health and your weight loss goals.

Eating More Meals Throughout the Day Will Help You Lose Weight Faster

This is an odd statement that is both true and false concurrently; because of this it is often a grossly misinterpreted weight loss tip. If you eat smaller portions throughout the day then you are essentially compelling your body to burn more calories for the entire day, in turn stimulating the burning of fat.

If you however choose to consume a larger daily portion of calories than what your body can manage then you will effectively end up gaining more weight in the long run. If you choose to undergo this weight loss method then you should take extra care to eat “just” fewer calories than what your body actually needs and then follow up by burning more by exercising or simply keeping active.

If dividing these daily calories into half a dozen meals every day makes this regimen easier for you then by all means go right ahead. However, if your half a dozen meals ends up going over your caloric guidelines then you obviously won’t be losing any weight.

“Fiber, Fiber and More Fiber!”

Once the fiber craze swept through the fitness world it was never the same again, because of this it is now safe to assume that we have heard about the various fiber related weight loss benefits that various vegetables and fruits can bestow upon us.

But what exactly does fiber do? Fiber has the ability to absorb fats, cholesterol, sugar and various toxins within our bodies and helps us “flush” out our digestive system. With all of that being said, cramming your body full of fiber isn’t really doing wonders for your health and your weight loss goals apart from inflicting moderate to severe diarrhea on yourself.

For the average person, the recommended amount of fiber that you should be taking is somewhere around 40 grams (might be more or less based on yourweight, age, etc.).

Conclusion

When it comes to weight loss we can always expect that there are bound to be a few fallacious theories out there mixed in with the real weight loss truths and facts. This is not meant to be a deterrent to anyone who is looking to shed a few pounds or trim their waistline a bit, it is simply meant to be an eye opener that will urge you to keep informed as you steer through the twists and turns of dieting myths and dieting facts.

The Top Ab Exercises for a Stronger, Flatter Stomach

“Bye-bye muffin top and hello ABS”! It’s an anthem we all wish we could chant on our way from the gym. But the reality is, bringing those six-packs to the surface is not that easy – better yet let’s disregard the term ‘six-pack’ and call them what they are – abdominal muscles.

Our abdominal muscles are primarily responsible for shaping the outer appearance of our stomach. They are made up of four distinct muscles: the transversalis muscle,rectus abdominus, and the internal and external obliques muscles. To build each muscle your exercise routine should involve intense sit-ups, crunches, muscle stabilization,and rotational exercises.

Before we proceed, bear in mind that you cannot convert fat to muscle. Thus, abdominal exercises will not help you to shed the excess fat that is hanging around your midsection.ab_workout_88

Many of us believe that we have to overexert ourselves to see results when exercising. As such, we spend hours in the gym completing 2000 crunches daily, in hope that the next time you touch your stomach it would have become less squishy.

You’ll be happy to know that all this intensive training is not necessary. In fact, overexerting yourself might lead you to giving up on your goals in the long haul. The trick to building your abdominal muscles is to limit your training to only two sessions weekly. Read on for the top abdominal exercises.

Top Abdominal Exercises

The Teaser

This is the perfect move to start with if you want to move right into your routine. It works effectively to activate all the abdominal muscles, yet it is very straightforward and does not involve several positions or intense repetition. The teaser involves core strength, coordination, balance and abdominal strength.

The Teaser will build your abs and strengthen your overall core, giving you more energy to work towards your goal. Here is how you can get this done:

To begin lie on the floor and extend your arms while simultaneously lifting your head. At the same time, your legs should be elevated into the air at about an 80° angle. Your legs and your arms should be paralleled to each other. Breathe while holding the same position for two slow counts. Inhale, press down your ribs towards your hipbones, slightly lower your legs to give your body a V shape and exhale.

Return to the starting position by simply rolling your body backwards.

Bicycles

Bicycles work on all the abdominal muscles, especially the lower ones where fat loves to hide out.

To do this lie on your back with your fingertips interlocked behind your head and elevate your legs in the air. Lift one of your legs at a 45° angle while simultaneously extending the other.Slowly kick your leg as if you are pedalling a bicycle and touch the opposite knee with your elbow while twisting back and forth.

Do this for 20 minutes while breathing properly.

Exciting Stability Ball Crunches

One of the best thing about ab workouts is that you can always modify them to your liking. Take stability ball crunches for example, you can add sets, use weights or event superset it. It is popular among both new and experienced trainees and you do not have to overdo it to see results – 60 reps, and you are sore for five days.

The stability ball is made from rubber, and is about knee high – a fun way to gain abs if you ask me. It is more effective than floor crunches in most cases because your legs end up doing most the work on the floor. However, on the ball your muscles do most of the work.

Here is a quick method you can follow:

Place the ball directly under your lower back.
Place your arms behind your head with your fingers interlocked and lean sideways.
Elevate your torso off the ball by contacting your abs, pulling your ribcage towards your hips.
Try to keep the ball as stable as possible, while lowering your back to strength the abs.

Repeat 2-4 seats for 10-12 reps.

Reverse Crunch

A reverse crunch is the complete opposite of a sit-up. One of the main differences between the two is that it does not put as much pressure on the ribcage as sit-ups. Reverse crunches help you to strengthen your external obliques and this is the main reason why most people feel sore on their first attempt. It makes it easier for you to strengthen your abs and address posterior pelvic tilt.

First, lie on the floor and extend your arms and legs to your torso, keeping your palms on the floor. Keep your arm in this position for the remainder of the exercise.

Elevate your legs and bend your knees about 90°. Your feet should be parallel to the floor and your head diagonal to the ceiling.
Inhale and pull your legs up to your torso. Tip your feet towards the ceiling and role your pelvis backwards to elevate your hips off the floor.

Contract your abs as you lift your legs and return to the starting position then exhale.

Repeat for 10-15 reps.

Planking on a Ball

This does not involve any movement but it is just as effective as the routines discussed above. Planking on a ball will allowabs_workout_09 you to build muscular endurance and strengthen you lower back, making it easier for you to perform moves that are more challenging.

The first step is to support your body weight with your forearm and chest on the stability ball with your toes anchored to the floor.
Straighten your back and contract your muscles with your eyes looking forward.

Maintain the position for as long as possible; at least one minute.

Put The Icing on The Cake With A Nutritious Diet

Now that you know what exercises can help you to bring your abs to the surface it time to work on your diet. Eating right is the most important thing you can go to build your abdominal muscles. You can do a thousand crunches a day but if you consume unhealthy fatty foods you won’t see the results you are hoping for. Changing your diet can be hard and requires that you be fully committed to accomplishing your goal, so approach it moderately, taking one-step at a time.

“We are what we eat,’ and if this is true your diet may be the most effective tool you can use to build abs. Overindulging in foods that are rich in calories will result in excess fat covering your abs, making it even more difficult for you to bring them to the surface. Therefore, diet is as equally important as exercising.

Good Luck!

Why It’s Important to Keep Track of Your Fitness Progress

It would be safe to say that the vast majority of people around the planet have a problem with their fitness level. Regardless of your ultimate goal, which can be weight loss, muscle mass gain, or keeping your current fitness level intact, all that exercising, proper nutrition and dieting is very had to pull off in the long run. Why is that the case? Well, the problem is within ourselves. We start off great, and then we progressively put in less and less effort. Maybe you do one rep less than you did last time, or shorten your workout by 15 minutes, or even drop it altogether for whatever reason.

Why It’s Not Working For You

According to the study that was conducted a few years back, feedback and monitoring of the results can be extremely beneficial to one’s progress. During the study, an experiment was conducted, where one group of therapy patients were provided with feedback, while the other was not given any feedback. Those who were given feedback every step of the way were less likely to resort to therapy again over the course of 6 months, while those without feedback checked back in more frequently.

Now, this may seem irrelevant, since we are talking about fitness here, but what would happen if you were to apply the same principle of feedback and monitoring to your fitness progress? In theory, it would have a positive effect on your fitness goals, and you would be less likely to return to your old habits.

For instance, let’s imagine you have just started a 60-day fitness challenge with the goal of getting in shape again. You get off to a great start. On your very first day, you are highly motivated, you lift weights, run, and you push yourself hard. This pattern likely to repeat for the next few days, maybe even an entire week. You don’t adhere to any particular workout program. You simply run, lift weights, and take everything as it comes.

One week later, it is most likely that you have given up on that program completely. This is because you can’t evaluate your progress, and as a consequence, you stop pushing yourself like you used to. Knowing where you started, what you have done, and where you are now is the key, otherwise you are just wasting your time.

So what can you do? A good idea would be to keep a record or a journal of your fitness program. fitness_journal_09If you are monitoring your progress closely and regularly, you would be more likely to reach a goal you have set for yourself. Once you have your progress in writing, you will be able to see how much you have done, and how much more you still have to do.

Stuff That Should Be in Your Fitness Journal

Here is a shortlist of parameters that should find their way into your fitness journal.

Food Intake

According to American Journal of Preventative Medicine, those who keep track of what and how much they eat are able to lose twice as much weight when compared to those which didn’t monitor their food intake through a journal. You should write down the number of calories you intake each day, as well as a list of food items you have consumed. Even better, you can do all of this on your computer, tablet or smartphone, thank to software like FitDay or MyFitnessPal.

Muscle Growth

You can easily keep track of your muscle growth, as well. Write down the weight you started with. As your build more muscle, you will be capable of handling bigger weights and a larger number of repetitions. You should also write down the weight and the number of reps in your fitness journal, as well, and then compare those results with the results you had when you first started.

Cardio Progress

If you run on a regular basis, you will develop better stamina that will allow you to do more cardio exercises.exercise_cardio_09 Keep in mind to write both the distance you ran, and the time you it took you to run it. Compare the two, and see how much you’ve progressed.

Fat Loss

Keep track of how much fat you have lost by measuring your weight once a week. It would be best to avoid measuring yourself every day, as it may turn out to be counterproductive. Once a week should be more than enough. Also, take a body composition test in regular intervals. It will tell you how much weight you have lost, more specifically, how much muscle you have gained, and how much fat you have lost.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

The number on the scale might not be best indicator that your fitness program is progressing the way you want it to. You may notice that, as you start to lift weights, your body weight will actually increase, which might seem discouraging. But, that is a good thing, because muscles in your body are now storing more water and energy, and you weigh more because of the increased lean body weight. That is why should rely on body composition test instead of looking at the number on the scale.

The body composition test is designed to measure the amount of fat on your body, which means you will know how much of your weight is down to fat, and how much of it is down to lean body weight. As your lean body weight increases and your muscles grow, they will require more calories, and you will lose fat much faster. Therefore, your goal should not be a smaller number on the scale, but to decrease the fat percentage. But, most importantly, always keep track of your progress and watch those excess pounds melt away forever!

From Fat to Muscle: Tips for a Better You

There have been numerous myths floating around in the fitness industry today. One in particular is the idea that it is possible to convert fat to muscle. I’m sure you’ve seen them – those misleading fitness magazines bearing a model with the perfect body claiming they have the secret to convert ‘unwanted fat’ to ‘desirable muscle’.

There is no doubt many of us would want this to be true but the reality is that it is biologically impossible to convert fat to muscles. They advertise these alluring messages for the same reasons tabloids publicize fake stories on your favorite celebs – it sells extra copies.

Many who’ve fallen victim to these myths have ended up inflicting more damage to their bodies. Before you fall for any of these myths, analyze the facts so that you can make informed decisions as to how to go about achieving your fitness goals. Building muscle and inducing fat loss are two separate results; one does not lead to the other.

Like Mars and Venus

The most important distinction is that fat and muscle are not interchangeable. Fat is from triglycerides, while muscle is from fat_to_muscle_99amino acids. No diet or exercise can literally convert one into the other. Another point of differentiation is the behavior of fat tissue as opposed to muscle tissue. Fat tissue is an excess energy store that just sits around until you use it. Muscle tissue, on the other hand, is active – burning calories around the clock whether you are awake or asleep.

You can take comfort in the knowledge that with a little stick-to-it philosophy, proper diet and exercise you will be able to lose the unwanted fat tissue and develop the muscle mass you have longed for. Stick-to-it comes from realizing that the transformation will not take place overnight. It also calls for you to be committed to keeping track of your diet, activity level and overall progress whether by a journal or some other tracking method.

Get Down to Business

In terms of your diet, you will need to ensure that you include plenty of protein – after all it is the stuff muscle is made from. Also to be included are complex carbohydrates which provide a long lasting store of energy, and are fiber rich. Healthy fats (yes there is such a thing!) should also be an integral part of your diet. The fact is that your body does need a certain amount of fat to function properly. Just ensure that your intake is from the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat categories, while you avoid saturated and trans fats.

Lastly, try to reduce your sugar intake. Some sources suggest that sugars should not make up more than 3% of your energy intake – that’s a lot less than a soda a day. Just to be clear here, naturally occurring sugars are an important part of a healthy diet. Get these from fruits and vegetables, or other sources such as low-fat dairy and whole grains. It’s the added sugars that you are to be wary of. These include table sugar added to products such as breads and high-fructose corn syrup among others.

When it comes to exercise, you will need to incorporate both cardiovascular and resistance training into your routine. Here’s why: your body needs the right stimuli to burn fat and to build muscle. To cut the fat you will have to engage in aerobic exercise.exercise_aerobic_99 The cardiovascular workout forces your body to dip into the fat stores to give you the energy necessary to complete the exercise.Your muscles, on the other hand, need weight-bearing exercises in order to develop, and resistance training provides this.

Suggested Workout Schedule

So what might a workout routine look like for you if you are trying to do the fat to muscle ‘conversion’? You will need a blend of weight training, high-intensity and low-intensity exercise to reap the best results. The high-intensity variety will have a higher fat burning rate; but since you are able to do more of the low-intensity exercise, it will have the superior overall ability to produce weight loss. Let’s take a 5-day exercise routine into consideration.

Give yourself two days to devote to lifting heavy weights at low repetitions. Don’t overdo it – four to six sets maximum. This will help you to build dense, lean muscle. Assign one of these two days to focus on the muscles in the upper body and the other day to zero in on the lower body muscle groups.

Two of the remaining three days should be for intense, circuit training for the entire body. Unlike the previous two days, you will be using lighter weights and doing more repetitions. Incorporate activities that see you switching the focus from one muscle group to the next, with little or no rest between sets.

As you go through this routine you will be stimulating your body to release a growth hormone that helps to build muscle from protein and convert fat into energy.

The fifth day is for endurance training; but you should try to make it long and easy. This definitely means low-intensity.‘Long’ here suggests roughly an hour, whereas ‘easy’ may find you cycling, swimming, walking or doing a stretching routine.

My last piece of advice to help you go from flabby to trim is to be wary of your bathroom scale. fat_muscle_weigh_99Better yet, ditch it for the time being. Constantly weighing yourself may lead you to thinking that you are not making any progress. Why? As you lose the fat and replace it with muscle, you may not actually lose weight. In fact your weight may actually increase.

The best indicators of your progress are:

What you see in the mirror;
Feedback from individuals around you.
Your increased energy levels;
How your clothes feel on you.

By following the guidelines above, after a few months you will be pleased with the results – shedding 10-15 lbs. of fat you will not miss. In addition, if you play your cards right you can maintain your new figure and bid a permanent goodbye to unnerving belly fat. Ta-da! Take all the time you need to work towards your goals individually – to lose fat and build muscles. Remember, if you chase two rabbits at once both will escape.

Carbohydrates: How to Get them and Their Uses.

The energy you need for living, and especially for exercising, can be broken down into three simple categories. These are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. These are all important and we should have foods that contain each of the three. However, how much of each you need to consume, as well as the ratios can be controversial.

Carbohydrates AKA Carbs

Carbs are the best energy source for any athlete, whether they’re amateur or professional. Carbs give you that energy that allows your muscles to contract. The carbs, once consumed, break down into smaller forms, which are galactose, glucose, and fructose. bread_carbs_44They become absorbed and are used as energy, and those that are not used get absorbed into the liver and the muscles and become glycogen. Once you have more glycogen than you can store, it turns into fat.

You use glycogen as energy for exercise. Due to it being accessed easily, it’s great for short and intense bursts of exercise such as sprinting and lifting weights. It even gives you energy for the first few minutes of a sport. When you exercise for a long and slow period of time, fat can help you with energy, but you’ll still need glycogen to break the fat down into something that your muscles can consume and use.

If you eat enough carbs, it will stop protein from being used as an energy source. On the other hand, if you’re lacking in carbs, the protein is broken down, turning it into glucose.

So why is that bad? Protein builds hair, skin, tissues, bone, and most importantly, muscles. If you use proteins for energy, it can stop your ability to maintain and build muscles. What’s even worse is that it can put stress on your kidneys, since it has to work to get rid of protein byproducts.

Storing Carbohydrates

Just one gram of carbs can give you four calories to use as energy. Many athletes talk about something known as carb loading and carb depletion. This is referring to how much carb energy a person stores in their muscles. For many, this is about 2000 carb calories, but a person may be able to change this number by depleting and loading on carbs. When you deplete from diet, exercise or both, your carb stores are all used up.

If you don’t restore them right away, you can no longer use fuel for exercising immediately. Many athletes call this “hitting the wall,” or simply “bonking.” If you eat large amounts of carbs, however, you can increase how much stores you have. This is known as carbo-loading, and it’s the strategy that many athletes use. For every person, their carb storage can vary in its capacity.

However, Dan Benardot, the writer behind Advanced Sports Nutrition, says that humans store about 350 grams of carbs in muscle glycogen, 90 grams inside the liver, and a bit inside the glucose in your blood. This means that larger muscles can create more glycogen stores, but also may require you to have more carbs because of it.

According to some research, the highest glycogen stores is about 15 grams per kilogram of your body weight, a kilogram being about 2.2. lbs. Let’s say you weigh 175 lbs. this means that you can store up to 1200 glycogen grams, or about 4800 calories. In other words, you could get quite a workout out of that!

How Exactly Do Carbs Fuel Your Exercise?

Glycogen is a quick source of energy, and we’ve already went over that. Its length depends on the duration and intensity of your workout, which could mean that it will last anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half. If you don’t want to run out of energy, use your glycogen stores, and restore them during or after exercise in preparation for your next workout.

What are the Types of Carbs?

Carbs come in two forms: simple and complex. Simple consists of sugars that come from sports drinks and fruit and can be absorbed and used as energy quickly. On the other hand, complex carbs have a slow digestion and absorption rate. They can take a good while to break down, so you get energy at a slower rate. Some sources of complex carbs are pasta, breads and rice.

Fiber and starch can be complex as well, but fiber is indigestible, and thus can’t be used for energy. Starch, meanwhile, is one of the most important sources of energy because it’s stored as glycogen and then broken down. Starchy foods include whole grains, pasta, breads and cereals.

Types of Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates are also divided into simple and complex forms. Simple sugars (carbs) are absorbed and converted to energy very quickly and provide a rapid source of energy. Fruit and sports drinks are a good source of simple carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates take a bit longer to be digested and absorbed into the body. They also takecarbs_pasta_33 longer to breakdown and therefore provide energy at a slower rate than simple sugars. Examples of complex carbohydrates are breads, rice and pasta. Starch and fiber are also considered complex carbohydrates but fiber cannot be digested or used for energy.

Starch is probably the most important energy source in an athlete’s diet because it is broken down and stored as glycogen. Foods high in starch include whole grain breads, cereals, pasta and grains.

Hope this has helped you understand carbs better and how they can help you with a healthy lifestyle.

Real Netflix Alternatives – If You Know Where to Look

In the past few years, Netflix has taken the world of internet by storm. Adding to its already huge popularity is the fact it offers its own original programming, most notably “Arrested Development” and “House of Cards”, which yourself truly follow religiously. Apart from producing smashing hits, and great shows, Netflix has also changed the way we view our favorite shows, or perhaps, it has adapted to the way we view TV.

What am I talking about? Well, I like binge-watching, and since I’m not the only one, Netflix decided to indulge us and began making entire seasons of their original shows available at all once. This way, anyone can watch as little or as much as they can, depending on their viewing habits and preferences.

But, as is the case with most good things, you have to pay up. Or do you? I mean, there is no way of getting Netflix for free, but what are some of its free or less expensive alternatives and are they any good? I’ve done some research, and this is what I came up with.

YouTube

OK, that one is a bit obvious, but I’m not talking about short films, music videos or any kind of video clip that is under 10 minutes. YouTube also lets you watch full-length movies and TV shows, via dedicated channels, for free. Not only is the content full-length, but it’s also displayed in HD, for your viewing pleasure.

Amazon Prime

Although it can’t match the volume and quality of content Netflix provides you with, Amazon Prime is slowly, but surely, creeping up behind it. But, even though it’s not on the same level as Netflix, and it’s not free, it makes sense if you look at it as part of the package, which includes Amazon free shipping, and a bunch of free e-books rentals as a bonus. You get good value for money, so it’s definitely worth considering.

Hulu Plus

The fact that they are quite similar makes Hulu Plus, Netflix’s natural rival, but I wouldn’t be in too much of a rush to qualify it as such. Yes, there are some similarities, like the fact that you have to pay for both of them. And that’s pretty much it. One area where Netflix has the upper hand is that it doesn’t make you watch ads, unlike Hulu Plus. Also, while Netflix content library consists of movies and older TV shows, as well as their original programming, Hulu Plus focuses solely on TV shows, offering a good mix of tried and true older TV shows and brand new ones, as well.

Apart from these, there are other alternatives to Netflix, like iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Crackle, CinemaNow, Epix, and many others, but I consider these three to be the only true alternatives, based on the quality and volume of content, as well as price. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.