Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Metabolic Adaptation: How eating too little can damage metabolism



Metabolic Adaptation describes how the body fights to maintain equilibrium and prevent starvation. It was very helpful back in our caveman days but a real problem today for people who need to lose weight.

As you lose weight your body adapts to conserve energy and be more efficient. With less body weight, resting metabolic rate decreases and you do not burn as many calories when exercising. With less food intake thermogenesis lowers. Hormones increase to stimulate appetite and stress from eating too little can cause higher levels of cortisol in the body.

As metabolic adaptation occurs weight loss reaches a plateau. At this point weight loss can continue only if you add more exercise or reduce calories even more. If calorie intake is already very low and exercise volume is very high you reach a limit where it is not safe, realistic, or advisable to continue such extremes. If you stop your routine weight gain is common. 

A good example of metabolic adaptation comes from research on The Biggest Loser. Researchers measured 14 participants metabolic rate at the start and end of the show. On average metabolic rate decreased by 610±483 calories. Following up 6 years later 13 of the 14 participants gained weight, although most kept at least 10% of their weight off. Metabolic rate remained low and did not go back to normal as their weight increased. Overall metabolic rate was 500 calories lower than what would be expected in people of similar height, weight, and age.

To minimize metabolic adaptation it is recommended to decrease calories gradually to support 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week rather than crash dieting for rapid weight loss. Eat protein rich foods at each meal and snack since protein has the highest thermic effect, provides satiety, and helps retain more lean muscle mass. In addition to cardio, make sure you strength train at least twice per week since lean muscle increases metabolism. Get enough sleep for the body to recover and work on stress management.

As weight loss starts to plateau make additional modest adjustments to continue losing. The ultimate goal is to develop healthy routines that are sustainable long term and help you feel energized and healthy. Understand that weight loss is not easy. We generally overestimate the amount of calories we burn and underestimate the amount of calories we consume. Work on  accuracy before assuming your metabolism is damaged.

Interested in Nutrition Counseling? We can calculate your calorie target and create a customized nutrition plan to help you reach your goals. Contact me to schedule your appointment.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are We Getting Healthier? Update on U.S. Obesity Rates


Back in 2000 no states had obesity rates over 25%. Today 47 states are over 25% causing a big need for concern. Fortunately, obesity rates are stabilizing in adults and kids. Progress is being made in the fight against obesity and hopes of furthering nutrition education and public health funding can continue efforts into the future.

Last year was the first time the State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report showed a decline in obesity rates. Encouraging reports for this year again show a decline in one state (Kansas), an increase in four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia), with all other states staying stable.

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control, the highest obesity rates are in the South, Midwest, and in adults without a college education and income below $15,000 per year.

The most obese states are:
1. West Virginia 37.5%
2. Mississippi 37.3%
3. Alabama and Arkansas 35.7%
4. Louisiana 35.5%

The least obese states are:
1. Colorado 22.3%
2. The District of Colombia 22.6%
3. Massachusetts 23.6%
4. Hawaii 23.8%
5. California 25%

Pennsylvania ranks 25th most obese at 30.3% and New Jersey ranks 36th most obese at 27.4%.

The fight against obesity is far from over but small changes every day can lead us to a healthier future.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Is Occasionally Drinking During Pregnancy Safe?

Experts agree binge drinking is very dangerous to a pregnancy. But are a few sips of wine or champagne at a special occasion really harmful? Many pregnant women ask this question and with limited research in the area the true answer is hard to find.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, and Centers for Disease Control have strong positions that women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or who think they might be pregnant should not drink   alcohol. Their position is that no level of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

One of the main concerns is that alcohol quickly passes through the placenta and umbilical cord to the baby and can lead to fetal alcohol   spectrum disorders that impact head size, height, weight, speech, vision, hearing, and other thinking and developmental skills.

Unfortunately the harmful impact of alcohol can be subtle and difficult to detect. It is not clear whether there is a safe threshold, or if even small amounts of alcohol can harm some infants.

One British team reviewed over 26 studies on women who had low alcohol consumption during their pregnancy (less than 1-2 glasses of light white wine or beer per week). Due to lack of data a safe level of consumption could not be identified. Researchers found evidence of an 8% greater chance of a low birth weight baby and a 10% greater chance of a      premature baby in women who drank lightly compared to those who completely avoided alcohol just before and during pregnancy. 

Despite health organizations strong advise, some controversial studies have offered different evidence. One study published in 2010 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found no increased risk of behavioral or cognitive problems by age 5 in children who’s mothers consumed 1-2 alcoholic beverages per week during pregnancy.

The bottom line, until more research is conducted we do not know the risks. Many experts encourage women not to take chances; given so many other factors one can worry about, take alcohol out of the equation.


Monday, September 11, 2017

The Most Disgusting Smelling Fruit In the World


If you travel to Southeast Asia, or to your local Asian market, you might find a very large and very smelly durian fruit. Banned from many hotels, airports, and the Singapore Mass Transit-if you’ve smelled it once you won’t forget.

The durian is regarded as the “king of fruits” due to its large size. It can weigh between 2-7 pounds and grow up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. A thorny greenish-brownish colored skin covers its yellow flesh.

The smell has been described as a combination of rotten onions, raw sewage, and turpentine which can linger for several days. Despite the dreadful smell the flesh has a pleasant sweet taste of almonds and custard. People either love it or hate it.

While not native to Thailand, the country is a major producer and hosts the World Durian Festival annually. Southern Thai people often eat the fruit young when the flesh is still crisp and mild in flavor. Northern Thia people often wait for the fruit to fully ripen and become soft and aromatic making the flesh very rich and slightly alcoholic.

Strong demand for high quality durian can drive prices high, costing about $8-15 USD per fruit. Some markets will sell the flesh only, and people in Singapore have spent as much as $50 USD for six pieces of the flesh.

The flesh can be eaten raw or cooked to flavor traditional Asian dishes, added to sweet sticky rice, made into ice cream, served in cappuccino, and turned into candy. In traditional medicine it has been used to reduce fevers and as an aphrodisiac. The skin is not edible, and while raw seeds are toxic they can be boiled or roasted making them safe for consumption.

Half a cup of durian flesh has 179 calories. The fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and B6.

Durian contains compounds that may prevent alcohol from being broken down in the body, resulting in increased blood alcohol levels, nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. It is advised not to consume durian and alcohol together.

This exotic fruit isn’t for everyone but the next time you find yourself in Southern Asia or an Asian market give it a try; if they are nearby you can’t miss the smell.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eat Pizza and Lose Weight?


A New Jersey man named Brian Northrup claims he lost 5.9 lbs and improved his athletic performance after eating a full Domino’s pizza every day for a year.

Using social media Northrup tracked his starting weight at 167.1lbs and ending weight 367 days later at 161.2lbs where he celebrated with three Domino’s pizzas filled high with feta, sausage, bacon, and pineapple.

While this was not a scientific experiment Northrup claims “I eat more in order to work out more” which helped give him energy to lift weights 3-4 time per week and do 20-30 minutes of cardio daily. Northrup claims his routine increased his strength, speed, and cardiovascular endurance while getting him in great shape.

Active men like Northrup, aged 25-29 years, can require over 2800 calories per day to sustain themselves. One medium Domino’s pizza has 1680 calories which could explain why he was able to lose weight despite eating an entire pizza daily.

Health professions question the long term safety of his daily consumption since one entire pizza has 64g total fat, 28g saturated fat, and 3600mg sodium. Strong evidence-based research shows high intake of saturated fat increases chronic disease risk and high sodium intake has been linked to hypertension risk and stomach cancer.

Food is fuel and plays an important role in energy production, especially when it comes to athletic performance. Obtaining sufficient calories, clean burning fuel, and the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein is encouraged to promote optimal athletic performance. 

Domino’s states they did not sponsor the social media stunt and hope Northrup is a member of their Loyalty Program to earn free pizzas overtime.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Marijuana and Hypertension Mortality Risk


There is more support for marijuana legalization which may significantly increase usage. While it provides benefit for some, little research on its impact to cardiovascular health has been done.

A new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found 21% of their 1,213 participants smoked only marijuana, 20% smoked marijuana and cigarettes, and 4% only smoked cigarettes. The average use of marijuana was 11.5 years.

From the data collected researchers found marijuana use to be associated with a 3.42 times higher risk of death from hypertension with an increase of 1.04 times higher risk for each year of use. It was found that cardiovascular risk was higher in marijuana smokers than cigarette   smokers which was cause for concern. One researcher stated “the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking.”

Marijuana impacts the cardiovascular system by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This can lead to an increase in oxygen demand, heart rate, and blood pressure. Cases of heart attacks after marijuana use have been reported.

Researchers discourage believing in claims that marijuana is not harmful to health. As use becomes more popular they encourage caution to assess whether health benefits outweigh the risks. More studies to identify a correlation between marijuana use and cardiovascular health are encouraged. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It’s Greek to Me


They might come in similar white tubs, but all yogurt is not created equal, and consumers are catching on. Greek yogurt sales have skyrocketed, and for good reason. The straining  process removes whey, sugar, salt, and lactose from the yogurt which makes it more thick and creamy. For about the same amount of calories, Greek yogurt has less sugar and twice as much protein as regular varieties which makes it very nutrient dense. For people who are lactose intolerant Greek varieties might be better tolerated as well.

6 ounces of Greek yogurt has 15-20 grams of protein which is similar to 2-3 ounces of meat. Protein keeps you feeling full longer which can help keep your appetite controlled. Greek   yogurt is also very appealing to vegetarians and people seeking more protein in their diets. In comparison 6 ounces of regular yogurt has around 9 grams of protein.

Going Greek reduces carbohydrates, but only if you are cautions about the added sugar. Plain Greek yogurt is best for you (try sweetening it with fresh fruit). Many sweetened Greek yogurts can be very high in added sugar with total carbohydrates of 15-30 grams. Read the food label and select plain as often as you can.

Be cautious of Greek yogurt’s fat content, which can be much higher in saturated fat than regular yogurt varieties. Evidence-based research continues to encourage low saturated fat intake to reduce heart disease and diabetes risk. Eating healthier unsaturated fats in moderation is better for you. Select nonfat or 1% dairy products and pair them with healthy fats such as chopped nuts, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.

Whether you select Greek yogurt or regular varieties, both contain probiotics which promote a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system. It is encouraged to eat probiotics   regularly, making Greek yogurt a wonderful addition to your daily routine.



Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad Recipe
Serves: 2
90 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 5-ounce can chunk light tuna in water, drained
¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 stalk celery, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Refrigerate at least one hour until chilled. Pairs well with salad, whole grain bread, or with whole grain crackers.