This is probably the number one exercise myth that despite it’s lack of evidence never seems to be truly debunked.
You still even see on the cardio gym equipment to this day heart rate graphs of the optimal zone to burn fat, implying that if you stick in this low zone you’ll lose more weight.
I am hoping that the evidence I am about to show you will debunk this myth once and for all. Continue reading
As a child I hated breakfast cereal.
At the end of every bowl I had to resist the urge of bringing it back up! But still I persisted cramming it down because I knew how important the first meal of the day was for me.
However, last year I came across a high protein, gluten free cereal called the World’s Best Cereal (or WBC for short) developed by Dr Damien Kristof and I thought I’d give a go. And now I even have my own recipe to share. Continue reading
Damn it’s cold outside! This was my thought as my knuckles were becoming numb on a frosty Adelaide Hills’ morning on my regular run!
We are all no doubt struggling through some of these colder months, so I thought this was the perfect time to talk about how our body’s natural warming system could possibly be a way to keep ourselves from putting on weight.
Scientists our now discovering that a type of fat storage tissue called Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) is more important than we first thought.
In fact only 50g of BAT can account for up to 20% of someone’s daily energy expenditure!
So what is this BAT and how do we get more of it?
What would be your response if you tuned into the radio – a respectable radio like ABC Radio National – and you heard a leading researcher being interviewed and he was excited about the fact that they are very close to developing a vaccine that would desensitise you to a poison??
Well, this happened to me today, and I was stumped to know what to really think, especially because:
The poison is gluten and the disease is coeliac.
In an earlier post we promised to outline the many benefits that exercise can provide you, and this is our time to deliver! now, before your eyes roll back in boredom, I have to tell you that the more that we look at this the more exciting and brilliant this concept of moving your body becomes!!
To be honest, over the last couple of months I’ve fallen in love all over again with my profession. I get the incredible opportunity to make people’s bodies healthier on a day to day basis by simply making them move at intensities and complexities greater than they are used to!
Another thing that I’d like to clarify is what exercise is NOT good for. My point here is, as is published in an earlier post, that I find it a shame that people become disillusioned with exercise because they expected their 5 visits to the gym to provide them with results that are unrealistic. check out the linked blog article http://informhealth.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/the-balance-between-diet-and-exercise-in-weight-and-fat-loss/ for more on the balance between nutrition and exercise to lose weight. as it indicates, exercise alone results in relatively small weight loss when compared to dietary changes. BUT what is exercise good for then in this case??
now, outlining the many benefits of exercise is a massive undertaking, so we’ll be taking you along on an exploration journey over the next few weeks as we let you in on some fantastic evidence.
Back to our topic for today – the effect of exercise on weight loss: as stated in the linked article, exercise can help reduce as much as half a kilo of fat per week with a gruelling schedule. Very importantly we do know that exercise provides you with the best protection against weight GAIN! therefore being one of the best prevention strategies against the obesity epidemic. There’s a range of physiological reasons that help to explain this:
Exercise, especially resistance training (lifting weights) helps maintain and/or increases your lean body mass (muscle), which means you have a bigger ‘engine’ to burn more energy on a day to day basis.
Exercise, especially at high intensities, results in your cells being more effective fat burners, so not only are you burning fat while you exercise, but also during the rest of the day – try interval based training to maximise this!
Another great mechanism is that exercise makes you more insulin sensitive, meaning that you are better able to metabolise (burn) energy and are less likely to store fat as a result.
Now how is that for a start on getting you excited about getting more active?! next week we’ll tell you about the benefits of exercise on stress management and sleep quality.
till then! in the mean time, if you have any questions on this don’t hesitate to contact our Exercise Physiologists at http://www.informhealth.com
A study recently published in this month’s (Jan 2010) International Journal of Obesity is getting some interesting media attention. Results indicate that adipose (fat) tissue in the bum and thighs have a protective effect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as this fat has anti-inflammatory properties.
This is very different to ‘visceral’ fat (that stored internally in the belly) which is pro-inflammatory in nature. the increased inflammation has been associated to decreased insulin sensitivity, which is a pre-cursor to diabetes.
So does this mean that its now OK to be carrying those extra kilos?? well, in reality, those carrying that bum and thigh fat may also be carrying extra weight around the abdominal region. the negative effect of this will cancel the positive effect of the lower fat deposition.
A tip to take from this is that we should be less concerned about what the scales are telling us, and pay more attention to our waist lines. so the tape measure would be a more useful monitoring tool! keep in mind the “how do you measure up” campaign guidelines of 94cm around the waist for men, and 80cm for women. (www.measureup.gov.au)
The good news for the belly storers is that research is pretty clear that it is this fat that will be broken up and released first with exercise. so off that cushy bum and lets do some reps of the stairs!!
An article in SA’s Wednesday Advertiser reports that despite popularity of TV show Masterchef and its influence on culinary passion, Australians’ favourite is still a meat based dinner with either salad or veges. In my opinion this is one of the healthiest choices we could be making, as it is nutritionally sound while relatively low in carbohydrates. This will lead to decreased insulin levels and hence fat storage.
For a more indepth discussion on this check out our post on diet and fat loss at http://informhealth.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/so-what-to-eat-to-lose-weight-especially-body-fat/
While this eating tradition can be criticised for its blandness, it can be really spiced up and flavoured, with no need to increase its caloric value significantly. My encouragement would be to now follow that trend with lunch, and eventually breakfast!
I’d love to hear your suggestions for low carb and higher protein breakfast options, as this is often one of the stumbling blocks for people, especially if they don’t like eggs, or have cholesterol issues.
In our last post we left off with a recommendation to increase vegetable intake as a means of reducing total carbohydrate intake, and to also improve the ratio between 0mega-3s and omega-6s. This is very important as this ratio is totally unbalanced by our common western diets, which, among other things will also increase the level of inflammation that we are under.
Chronic inflammation can occur when your body is constantly fighting a disease or condition that is putting undue stress on a particular area. It is relatively common in people suffering from cancer, arthritis, lower back pain, asthma and depression. In extreme cases this inflammation creates a breakdown of muscle tissue with associated weight loss, which is known as cachexia.
While the exact cause of this chronic inflammation is poorly understood, what is known is that specific messenger cells called cytokines are released which act to amplify the inflammation process in the body. Under most circumstances this is a very important process because this pro-inflammatory mechanism is very important in the healing process when the body’s tissues and organs are damaged and also act to help trigger our white blood cells to action when we have a virus or infection.
However, when this process is unable to be “switched off” this amplification process builds on itself and creates a breakdown of muscle tissue and we get associated loss of strength and a decreased quality of life. In this case it is beneficial for us to break the inflammation cycle as under these chronic inflammation conditions it is very hard for us to build muscle.
We also know that the inflammatory cytokines are mediated through messengers called eicosanoids. Depending on the eicosanoids involved there may be a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory response. The pro-inflammatory eicosanoids are the by products of omega-6 fatty acids while omega-3 fatty acids create anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.
These essential fatty acids (our body cannot produce these), are gained from our diet. A general rule is that the brown things that we eat (grains, bread etc) have a high amount of omega-6 (pro-inflammation) while the green things that we eat have high amounts of omega-3 (anti-inflammation). It is not a wonder then that our western diet has moved from approximately a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3’s, to approximately a 15+:1 ratio!
How do we break this chronic inflammation cycle?
Obviously for us to break the inflammation cycle we need to alter our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in favour of the anti-inflammatory process. Research has shown that by supplementing with fish oil, which has high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA & DHA, we can decrease the amount of inflammation in the body.
However, the dosage required is quite high (approximately 1kg of oily fish per day!) for someone in a cachexic state and the only safe way to get this amount without the risk of mercury poisoning is with a practitioner grade fish oil supplement.
It should be noted that large dosages of fish oil may cause gastrointestinal problems, and there is also a risk of blood thinning at very high dosages (above 6g of fish oil per day).
Other benefits of fish oil
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to be beneficial for other health conditions including: hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke prevention, atherosclerosis, angina, cancer prevention, brain/eye development in infants, Crohn’s disease, Lupus, psoriasis, eczema, asthma, depression and mental illnesses.
For more information on fish oil or the inflammation process talk to one of our Exercise Physiologists.
Now we are getting onto the meaty (pardon the pun!) end of the discussion. What do we do from a dietary perspective to lose weight?? Research seems to be supporting dietary approaches different to the traditional ‘low-fat’ approach so widely publicised. There’s very strong support for the notion that the our ‘trusted’ food pyramid is not the most effective way towards health and leanness. The argument has more to do with insulin responses than with fat intake per se, and points us towards diets aiming for lower insulin releases, and hence lower in carbohydrates.
What the research tells us about low carbohydrate diets
Low carbohydrate (low CHO) diets in the past have been looked upon unfavorably mostly due to the bad press associated with the Atkins Diet which places no limitation on fat consumption. Another allegation made against low CHO diets is that they are not proven long term. There is strong research to indicate that low CHO diets reduce weight more so that low FAT diets over three and six month duration, and until recently only one study that tracked weight loss over 12 months. While in this study weight loss was greater (5.1kg vs 3.1 kg) in the low CHO diet, it didn’t reach statistical significance (Stern et al., 2004). There was also a large dropout rate, and because of this many argue that low CHO diets cannot be adhered to.
However, the same argument could be made for low FAT diets and this has been the mainstream dietary modification suggested by many peak health bodies.
A publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (July 2008), may force mainstream organisations to change their perceptions of low CHO diets. In this publication Shai et al (2008) followed 322 individuals for two years who were either on a low CHO diet, Mediterranean diet (higher in monounsaturated fats) or low FAT diet. It was found that both the low CHO diet and Mediterranean diet had greater weight loss over the two year period. Furthermore it was found that cholesterol profile improved more so with the low CHO diet and insulin and glucose levels were more favourable with the Mediterranean diet as compared to the low FAT diet.
It seems consistent findings such as these (albeit over shorter study durations) have lead to peak bodies such as the American Diabetic Association (ADA) changing their recommendation from 60-70% CHO to 45-60%.
So what is the explanation behind this? its all about the insulin response to carbohydrate rich foods, which make up the bulk of tradidional low-fat diets, such as the ‘food-pyramid’.
Insulin is responsible for lowering blood sugar levels when they rise as a result of consuming sugar. now, all carbohydrates that we eat, be they in the form of ‘complex’/low glycemic options or simple/sugary/HI GI options, are broken down to glucose to be absorbed by the intestines and enter the blood stream. Insulin regulates the increased blood sugar levels in two ways.
- The most commonly known is by ‘driving’ glucose into muscles to be absorbed for energy production.
- Insulin also acts on fat cells to decrease their release of fat into the blood stream, and encourages them to uptake/store more fat. The aim of this is to prioritise glucose metabolism (burning)
It is this second mechanism that is of greatest interest to us. If and when you eat carbohydrate dense foods, especially grains-based foods (breads, pasta, rice, etc), your body will enter into a fat storing mode, as it needs to maintain blood sugar/glucose levels constant.
So what is the take home message? aim to balance the amount of carbs and proteins that you eat during th day.
- decrease the amount of grains that you consume
- increase the amount of vegetables you eat. while most of the energy in vegetables comes from carbs, they contain very small amounts of it.
- Vegetables will also provide you with an adequate amount of vitamins and fibre
- an increased amount of protein intake will decrease the likelyhood of losing muscle mass as a result of decreasing your energy intake – resistance training (weights will also play a huge role in this).
- Eating more ‘green’ and less ‘brown’ will change your ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in your diet, but more about this next week!
hope this helps. again, if you would like more information, detail, or clarification, please do not heistate to ASK!
In our last post we made some sense of the main driver of a flat abdomen: leanness. But how do we achieve that elusive goal? Well, the story is a little bit more interesting than we tend to hear. So lets start by covering some basics.
I guess we have all heard about the need to achieve a balance between energy ‘in’ (our diet) and energy ‘out’ (what we burn/use on a day to day basis). Well, research is suggesting that this may not be as basic as we first thought. The evidence is pointing to these two factors playing different roles in the weight loss equation. Our nutrition is being suggested as a much more important driver of weight loss, while exercise seems to serve as a protector against weight gain (among many other health benefits of course!).
You may have experienced this in the past: you realise that you have put some weight on and decide that its time to do something about it. So you start exercising. Weeks later you are still frustrated by the very minimal changes on the scales… have you been there?
Well, the (somewhat) good news here, is that you are not really to blame for those small changes. Research is now consistently reporting that the weight changes that result from exercise alone are quite small. A large review of studies on the topic showed that in the short term (16 weeks in this case) exercise alone reduced fat by 0.25kg per week. Now, this is nothing to be scoffed at: this indicates that over the 16 weeks people can lose 4kg of fat, which is great. And it is a sustainable amount of weight loss.
Also, the quantity of fat loss is dependent on the amount and intensity of exercise performed. So how much exercise do you need to perform for that quarter of a kilo? About 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week (5-6 days).
And what is achievable at greater loads of exercise? Well, if you exercise 6 days a week at a moderate to high intensity – meaning you are burning about 550cals or 2300kj per session – you can expect to lose 0.4-0.5 kg/week of fat. Great results but tough schedule!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a great believer and promoter of regular exercise. As a matter of fact my business revolves around it, and the benefits of it are incredible in their scope and depth. And we will publish posts in the future on the many (and often unknown) benefits of exercise. However it is more important for me that you receive the right advice and are equipped to make the right decisions for the specific goals that you may have.
So which way does the balance tip? A summary of the research indicates that exercise will account for approximately 20-40% of fat loss, while (you guessed it!) your diet will account for anywhere between 60-80%. Definitely worth while spending some time exploring this side of the equation! And the good news is that it will take a lot less effort and time to achieve significant results.
This benefit will be even more important for you if for whatever reason, your capacity to exercise is limited. For example due to injury, serious health conditions, or an extremely tough work schedule.
So what can you expect from dietary changes? Well, our clients are losing an average of 1kg per week form dietary changes alone. How? Well, this will take another post to explain it in good detail so that the mechanisms can be well understood, but so that you can get started between now and then, here are some foundational recommendations we make:
- Eat natural foods – every meal should look like you just picked it from a plant, or like you were hunting that morning!
- Eat lots of colour – what is the average colour in your diet? If its brown, then please do make sure you stay tuned to our next blog, as you will be surprised as to what may be going on in your body!
- Eat regularly – 5-6 smaller meals a day are ideal to maintain blood sugar levels well regulated
- Decrease the amount of grain based carbohydrates in your diet – this will obviously depend on what you are currently eating. But by an large, we tend to over-consume grains, a dietary habit that may be at the root cause of many of our western diseases.
I’ll go into a lot more detail about these recommendations in our next blog. But what I’d love you to do is to start thinking about the above information, and start to make small gradual changes based on it. Look at the dietary recommendations above, mix them with some regular exercise (yes, this is still important!), and stay tuned to our next post.
Please tell us if any of this doesn’t make sense, or if you have any further questions. Our aim is to inform you so you can lead a more energetic life. We want to help shape your life performance -forever!
If you have specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Exercise Physiologists at www.informhealth.com