Although the standard advice for weight loss has always been to cut back on calories, a new study published in JAMA has shown just the opposite. Concentrating on consuming nutrient dense whole grains, vegetables and fruits without thinking about calories may be a better way. Research showed that insulin resistance, DNA makeup or genetics were not as important as quality not quantity of food consumed. It was an extremely large study of 600 people at the cost of $8 million dollars conducted by The Stanford Prevention Research Center. The study did not set restrictions on carbohydrate, fat or calorie intake. It focused on eating “real foods” and as much as they wanted so they would not feel hungry. Some of the participants did gain weight while others lost as much as 50 lbs. over the course of a year. Average weight loss was 12 lbs. Along with changing the quality of the food they were consuming, some of the subjects said that since they were no longer eating fast food they were no longer eating in cars or in front of the television. DNA samples were taken of all the members and the differences in their genetic makeup showed no difference in the results. It is not that calories do not matter in weight loss, it is that by consuming nutrient dense foods they were able to satisfy their hunger for longer periods of time and in so doing unconsciously consume less calories.
A new study, done with animals, suggests that our bones may play a big part in controlling our appetite. Scientists believe that we have an internal bathroom scale that attempts to sustain a particular weight. It is usually a particular weight that we have maintained for a long period of time. Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite. When a person increases the fat storage of their body, more of this hormone is produced. When the brain receives this message it should in turn reduce appetite. If this were true people would not hold on to added weight. “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published results of studies done with rodents. Weights were implanted in the animals and immediately the animals began to eat less to accommodate the extra weight. The experiment was again repeated in animals who had little of the hormone leptin and again the animal ate less to accommodate the weight. This led scientists to come to the conclusion it is the production of new bone that is capable of keeping the body at a particular weight. Extra weight signals osteocytes (bone cells) to increase production. This in turn sends signals that there is a need to make changes so as to return to a particular weight. However since a good deal of us spend most of the day sitting our bones are not able to feel the stress of the extra weight and therefore there is no set weight that the body wishes to return to. Solution, stand as much as possible and walk after eating. This will help send clear messages to our bones.
Planning meals can be extremely difficult, whether it is because of family activities or a busy demanding career. If your goal is to put together a healthy meal plan in the evening, having theme nights for the week may help. In other words make one night a “Breakfast for Dinner Night”. Just making an omelet with all the leftovers in the fridge and a salad is one quick way of putting together a healthy meal. Another night could be a “Meatless Monday”. Simply combining beans, frozen vegetables and a whole grain such as quinoa is enough for a light healthy meal which can also give your digestive system a rest. Another option could be a hearty soup and salad night. Having a menu schedule for the week takes the worry out of eating healthy. Planning also removes the possibility of overeating.
Healthy fat is so important for the absorption of nutrients from food. Being overly conscious of eliminating fat can result in vitamin deficiencies and retention of weight because of improper digestion. A good supply of daily fat such as those found in nuts, avocados, fish and seeds as well as from organic meats can slow digestion and put off cravings for hours. Think of every snack as a little meal in which a small amount of the above is included.
-2 ripe avocados
-1/2 cup thinly sliced jicama
-1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
-3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
-1/4 cup 2% yogurt
-1/4 cup fresh orange juice
-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/4 cup dried cherries
1.) Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove pits. Score flesh into a crosshatch pattern and scoop it into a medium bowl. Add jicama, radishes, and pumpkin seeds.
2.) In a serving bowl, whisk together yogurt, orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. Add vegetables and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and garnish with dried cherries.
*Nutrition score per serving: 334 calories, 24g fat (41g saturated), 30g carbs, 5g protein, 6g fiber, 118 mg sodium
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Fat is important for protecting our organs and lubricating our joints. Critical for nerve function, brain and eye operation. It supports hormone production as well as absorption of nutrients. It is not the elimination of fat from the diet but ingesting the right fats that is now what health professionals consider more important. But what about how fat is stored by the body. Why does the body store some as visceral and some as subcutaneous. What exactly is “brown” as opposed to “white” fat. Are we able to control how the body stores these fats or is it in our genes? It is important to understand how all these fats serve a positive purpose in the body and how maintenance and not complete elimination of any one of them should be the goal. Visceral fat is important in so far as it lies deep within the body and lines and protects our organs. By wrapping itself around our organs it protects the body in case of impact. However, when there is an excess it can result in abdominal weight that can result in a host of health problems. Subcutaneous fat is that which lies directly under the skin. It is home to blood vessels that supply the skin and nerves with oxygen. It lies loosely under the skin protecting the skin from trauma. Subcutaneous is that fat which is most easily reduced by exercising because it contains the energy storeage of the body. Which brings us to brown and white fat. Brown fat usually accumulates around the back of the neck and upper back. Its purpose is to burn calories and generate heat. It is usually derived from muscle tissue and especially high in hibernating animals and new born babies. As we age it is harder to maintain a good supply of this fat unless we maintain a healthy weight and exercise (especially outdoors) to allow the body to generate heat. It is rich with blood vessels which helps to give it the brown color. White fat is more abundant in the body. It is the largest store of potential energy in the body. White fat contains the receptors for insulin, growth and stress hormones. Of course the amount of each fat differs with all body types but it is important to realize that they all have a purpose in a healthy body.
Doing a flight of stairs may be the last thing you feel like doing after a meal but it may well be another minor act that can encourage weight loss. Climbing stairs can force the body to use more blood sugar instead of storing it. Lower blood sugar levels were found in people who were active immediately after a meal as opposed to those who started walking 45 minutes later. This according to results published in Diabetes Cure.
A new study from Tuft’s school of medicine reported that Tai Chi could have the beneficial effects similar to physical therapy especially for those suffering from osteoarthritis. Participants were over 60 years of age and many were considered obese. The positive effects of Tai Chi have to do with the slow, gentle, graceful movements combined with deep diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation. Two separate groups in a twelve week program were either to practice Tai Chi or receive physical therapy twice a week. The results were the same for both groups. Less pain was reported for up to one year. However, the Tai Chi group had significantly more improvement when it came to depression and the quality of life. This could be because Tai Chi integrates physical, psychosocial, emotional, spiritual, and behavioral elements making it a total mind-body experience. It is also less costly.
Sitting in a booth in a corner may be romantic but can also have a down side. Researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab discovered that patrons who sat on high stools or seated themselves by a window tended to make healthier food choices. They also tended to skip dessert and alcohol compared with those seated in a booth. More visibility to prying eyes and seated in an upright position seemed to make people more aware of what were better options on a menu.
(Source-Muscle and Performance Magazine)
An online survey was conducted in which 5,000 adults were asked to assess snack food packages. When the front of the package claimed it was a good source of a particularvitamin or mineral, the participants were less likely to check the nutritional information on the package. They just assumed that a package that had a health claim would in turn be a healthier option. The study was published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is important to always read the nutritional facts of any boxed or processed food.The addition of vitamins may also mean the addition of empty calories.