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
If you were thumbing through the Sunday paper over the weekend, you may have come across two separate full-page articles eight pages apart from each other.
The first carried the big bold headline ‘Exercise Won’t Make You Thin‘. The second had the headline ‘How I Went From Virtually Zero to $3.5 MILLION of Real Estate Wealth in Just 18 MONTHS!‘
OK seriously…how much more of this do we have to put up with?
Let me reiterate – full page articles – albeit prefaced with the tiny caption ‘Advertisement’, constructed to appear as normal news articles to lure the sleepy Sunday reader into a barrage of support for the sensational headline!
For all I would like to say about the lack of integrity in commercial advertising and journalism – I’ll keep it to this:
Clearly, for the right price, you can say whatever you want to whoever you want, shirking responsibility for the resultant trail of carnage from a skewed truth presented to make yourself a buck. 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?
Before we can make sense of how exercise can help us deal with stress better, it will be useful to understand the physiology of stress and how it affects us.
Needless to say, a great starting point is to highlight that the best way to deal with stress is to reduce your stress drivers and how you deal with them. Let us encourage you to look at those in your daily life and seek the support of qualified therapists in these area.
To support your changes, exercise is a great tool to improve your body’s capacity to absorb the effects of stress.
At a physiological level, stress is a desired response designed for a “fight or flight” situation. The physiological process that is triggered to help us deal with such an event is described below, but its important to keep in mind that it should occur over short durations, and then ‘dealt’ with (by fighting or running!).
The result is the release of adrenaline which is almost instantaneous and increases alertness and cortisol, which peaks at about 15-30 min after the start of the stress trigger. The whole point of these responses is to give us the required energy to deal with the situation at hand, by elevating blood pressure, increasing blood sugar (for energy) and decreasing most other non-essential systems. the problem in our modern western settings is that we don’t face too many ‘acute’ (short lasting) triggers (such as a threatening animal, etc), but rather longer lasting chronic stresses, such as work and financial pressures. In the ‘acute’ settings, increased physical activity was the way we dealt with the threat – i.e. by fighting or escaping – this would then help diffuse the physiological effects of stress mentioned above.
In our chronic western settings we don’t deal with stress in a physical manner. As a matter of fact we all well know that the amount of exercise we do is consistently decreasing, and even more so the busier we are. So we don’t often get to diffuse the heightened physiological responses. The result is chronically elevated levels of cortisol, which lead to Hypertension, Insulin resistance, and OBESITY.
So what is exercise good for? firstly it directly helps to reduce the physiological effects of stress, as we know that it will reduce insulin resistance, lead to hormonal responses that relax blood vessels, and use up excess blood sugar (and fat) for energy! Further more, through exercise the body becomes more physiologically efficient at dealing with the stress hormones in the first place. In addition you get all the emotional feel-good benefits of being active, a sense of achievement, and the opportunity to enjoy time doing something good for yourself!
so, don’t delay, get out there and MOVE!!!
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!!
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.
An Australian government parliamentary committee is proposing giving the morbidly obese tax-payer funded lap-band surgery.
Some of the facts are: Obesity cost us $50 billion in 08 (wow, don’t just skim over that number!).
This surgery can have drastic and rapid effects in terms of reducing weight, disease, financial and personal costs associated with obesity, both to the individual and to tax payers.
It will only be available to those qualifying under clinical guidelines.
My issue with this is this: our health system is not a health system, its an illness system! where is the prevention??!
How is this for a prevention mindset: Considering the $50billion cost, the government has provided $872million for preventative health programs. Thats 0.02%of the cost being invested!!! and thats for all health programs, that includes obesity, its not even for obesity alone.
Our (SA) federal MP Steve Georganas defended the strategy in ‘Today Tonight’ (tuesday 2nd June09) using the stats above,and said that the program would only be available to those that “have tried everything”. Lets look at that for a second… ‘TRIED’ ‘EVERYTHING‘… when questioned about what may have led individuals to end up in that condition, he mentioned a series of lifestyle behaviours, not surprisingly including poor dietary habits, low levels of physical activity, and high levels of sedentary behaviour, such as prolonged use of TV and computers (its OK, I’m going for a run as soon as I post this!).
They tried everything??? how about actually doing something?? I have yet to meet an individual who has not had very positive results with weight loss when they have actually committed to it! I hope I don’t sound patronising or inconsiderate. I understand that there’s a vast range of socio-demographic and mental health issues that play a very serious role in this debate, not to mention hormonal imbalances that can make things tougher; I spent a two year-honours degree studying them.
My point is this: where is the prevention?! where is the focus on education and facilitating healthier choices?? its in the 0.02%!! c’mon, Mr Rudd, lets get serious about a very serious issue!
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
This is a huge topic with many ramifications, so to give it the attention it requires I’m going to address it over a number of discussions over the next few weeks. This way we can start to put things in place one step at a time, and give you the time to ask any questions you need.
So here it is! I’d love to get your feedback, opinions and further questions on this!
Firstly one thing needs to be clarified. Many people do crunches to reduce the fat around their abdominal area. Fat CANNOT be spot reduced, meaning that you can’t choose where you will lose fat from, even if you focus your exercise (or scrubbing/loofaing) on that specific area. Fat loss is a chemical process that happens from the whole body.
So you will lose as much fat from your abdominal area from doing crunches as you are from squats. as a matter of fact you will lose more from the same number of squats, as you are using a larger muscle mass, and hence requiring more energy.
It’s worthwhile mentioning that adypose (fat) cells in the abdominal region are more labile. That is, they are typically the first to absorb fat and the first to lose it. But this is due to their chemical/physiological responses and not to the type of exercises we do. This is why we would tend to see guys with relatively lean legs and arms, but with a bulge around the abdominal area. And why women find it harder to lose fat from the stubborn hips and bum area. These fat cells truly are more stubborn!
So, the number one rule to achieving a flat stomach is to get rid of the covering over it! yes, its about becoming leaner. I guess most of us have heard the statement that ‘we’ve all got a six-pack, we just need to show it’. This is largely true. The shape of that six-pack (which is actually an eight-pack, as there are eight visible segments of the rectus abdominis behind its connective tissue) is largely genetically determined, but the leaner you are, the better it will look!
Next week I’m going to post a discussion on some recent and very high quality research that presents very interesting and exciting strategies to help us become leaner in a sustainable and achievable way, so make sure you stay tuned in!
So what should we take away from this weeks discussion: a) start to look at your dietary intake, because therein lies the answer to your ‘six-pack’, and b) spend the time you may have spent on crunches/sit-ups on ‘larger’ whole body exercises, or increasing your energy expenditure (out put) by doing some higher intensity cardio(vascular) exercise, such as fast walking, jogging, cycling, etc. Even a solid gardening session will do the trick! considering the rains we’ve had, and the current sun-shine, I’m sure your lawns could need a bit of attention. If not, I’m happy for you to exercise on mine!!