A to Z Challenge: V is for VO2

Have you heard of VO2? This is one of those fitness terms that seems to be popping up all the time. So, I thought we should define it and I needed a “V” topic!😊

This is the volume of oxygen consumed when you exercise.

It is often expressed as VO2 max. This is a measurement of the maximum oxygen an athlete can use during intense exercise. It is basically a measurement of aerobic endurance, and the athletes’ overall cardiovascular fitness.❤️

This is not just for elite athletes. If you have had a stress test at the doctors office, you may have had this assessment.

How it is measured

The athlete, or patient, performs an exercise, usually riding a stationary bike, or running on a treadmill. The oxygen content is measured in the volume of air that is inhaled and exhaled. Remember, CO2 is exhaled and therefore contains oxygen molecules.

1449223426084-1wr8ssbdskbs1-630-80The test is 10 to 15 minutes and the athlete is required to raise the speed and intensity of the exercise until the point of muscle fatigue. The test must be performed in a lab with the measurement taken with the correct equipment, your Garmin reading is not accurate. Garmin, and other heart monitors can only track your heart rate, and then use your weight, gender, age and height to calculate your VO2, which is off by a large factor!

v02-max-maximum

The VO2 max is the point where aerobic metabolism stops and anaerobic metabolism begins, muscle fatigue follows quickly. Have you ever had a cramp when swimming or running? It hurts!😩 that is the point we are talking about.

 

Can it be altered?

While there is a strong genetic component, your VO2 max can be increased through proper training. Age, gender and altititude can also affect your VO2 consumption.

To give you an idea of what we are talking about, the averge sedentary person has a VO2 max of 35 ml/kg/min and elite endurance athletes are around 70 ml/kg/min.

Remember Lance Armstrong? At his peak, his VO2 Max was 85 ml/kg/min. He was able to manipulate his VO2 by increasing the number of red blood cells (which bind and carry oxygen). He took EPO, erythropoietin, which stimulates the formation of red blood cells. This was especially helpful when cycling in the mountains were there is less oxygen at high altitudes.

lance1

Of course, he also tested positive for other substances as well, and won the Tour de France seven times before having his titles and medals stripped. Cycling is notorious for blood doping with EPO, and most riders complain that they cannot compete with the athletes who use performance enhancing drugs.

I hope this helps you the next time you see this in your health and fitness reading, which I am sure you are doing regularly!😇

References:

https://www.verywellfit.com/what-is-vo2-max-3120097

https://runnersconnect.net/is-vo2-max-worth-spending-for/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn3Yr-LS_l0

https://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/vo2max.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lance-armstrong-case-prompts-question-why-is-there-so-much-doping-in-cycling/2013/01/18/32cd089a-5e61-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.913c54117162

 

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quizzes

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You see them all the time. “Test your knowledge of _____________”! I usually just close the box and move on. But, every once in awhile it is kind of fun to take a moment to find out what I don’t know, it usually turns out to be quite a lot!😜

I decided to take some specific quizzes, related to Health and Fitness topics, and see how I did. I shared my results, no doubt you can easily best me!

I chose four different quizzes, but of course there are many more. If you want to play along you can find the quizzes in the links. Some advice, don’t rush, I did missread at least one question (probably more).

 

First up, a fitness related test

This quiz was centered around acronyms and jargon regularly used in classes and at the gym.

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quizzes_start.asp?quizid=73

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My score: 10/15

Not my best result! There are quite a few terms for me to learn! 😐

 

Next, “Are you a distracted diner?” quiz. These are obviously questions regarding dinning habits and mindful eating.

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/assessment_questions.asp?quizid=68

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My score: I received the grade of “Balancing Act”. I guess the quiz thought I was doing an ok job!

 

A quiz on reading food and nutrition labels accurately

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quizzes_start.asp?quizid=64

lose-weight-faster-nutrition-label

My score: 6/11. Geesh, I really thought I would do better on this one! Sadly my score was still better than the average quiz taker. There is plenty of work for me to do on this topic😬

 

And finally, a quiz on health and fitness topics in general. A mix of questions, some of which we have talked about in the series.

https://www.medicinenet.com/exercise_and_fitness_quiz/quiz.htm

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My score: 14/15. I don’t remember which one I missed, I may have to go back and take it again, just because I am curious!

 

Take the tests and let me know how you kicked my butt!! 😅

 

Do you want more tests? Check out:

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quizzes.asp

 

A to Z Challenge: P is for Protein

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Let’s talk about protein today. There is this understanding that protein is the most crucial macromolecule that we can eat. It is also widely believed that we are not getting enough in our daily consumption. And, if you are active you must take in even more protein to be healthy. So, let’s find out if any, or all of that is true!

What is protein?

Protein molecules are long chains made up of smaller amino acids. The 21* amino acids that account for every protein on the planet (yes, just 21 make up all proteins, in all living creatures) and are used to make hair, bone, blood, anitbodies, hormones, collagen, muscles and enzymes, and more!aHR0cHM6Ly9pLmltZ3VyLmNvbS9SQTlEaVNjLnBuZz8x

 

Obviously this is an important class of molecules! You are capable of making 11 of the 20 amino acids whenever you need them. The other 9, known as essential amino acids, must be consumed through food.

Proteins also store energy, just as carbohydrate and fat molecules. In N is for Nutrition we talked about how the cell will break apart atoms to release the stored energy to perform cellular work. Well, the same is true for proteins. The cell can break down the large protein back into amino acids and release energy at the same time.

 

fad-diet

If you are withholding carbs and fats in your diet and exercising, the cells are able to break down muscle fibers, muscle proteins, to get the energy they require. Remember the cycle of fad diets? How you will loose water and muscle, and gain back fat! This is how that happens!

 

Even though cells can break down protein, it is much harder do so than breaking down carbohydrates and fats. Making protein the cell’s last choice for its energy needs. So, in the long run a high protein, low carb diet will not work for weight loss.

Are we getting enough Protein?

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According to the USDA the average American consumes 69 grams of protein daily. That include vegetarians! An active 130lb female needs 65 grams of protein, so most of us are set! If you workout an hour, for more than five days a week, then you should bump it up a little more.

Can you consume too much Protein?

Yes! A diet too high in protein can stress your kidneys, and even cause heart problems. But, you would have to consume hundreds of grams of protein for a prolong period of time to cause this damage.

Can Protein cause weight gain?

chocolate-peanut-butter-protein-shake-ingredients-4_smYes! People tend to talk about protein as if it is a magical answer to all things diet related. Protein can help in building muscle, which burns calories, but protein itself is not calorie free! In fact: 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories and 1 gram of fat = 9 calories.  You need to consume protein to repair muscle fibers that are damaged during exercise, but if you eat too much protein, the extra will be stored and can cause weight gain. Obviously, if you are not limiting your portions of fatty protein sources you are taking in protein and fat.

So, what should you do?

Proteins-carbs-fatsBe judicious about your protein consumption. Be sure to have some form of lean protein at the start of the day, and a little at each meal. Include a protein snack 30-45 minutes after your workout. This is the magic window when your muscles need access to lean protein sources to repair the damage done during exercise.

 

Plant based protein sources are just as good as animal based and are very weightloss friendly! 😊

Sillyfox-High-Protein-Rich-Foods

I do hope this clarifies some of your protein concerns 😃

 

References:

https://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/gain-mass/8-things-you-should-know-about-protein

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2017-10-20/5-muscle-building-nutrients-that-arent-protein

https://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein#1

https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/nutrition/protein-diet-nutrition-facts/

http://www.nutrientsreview.com/proteins/amino-acids

*Selenocysteine is a recently discovered amino acid and is the 21st as it is found in protein synthesis. Ornithine was recently discovered but is a byproduct of urea formation so is not found in proteins.

 

A to Z Challenge: N is for Nutrition

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When I thought about tackling this HUGE topic, a couple things went through my mind. What should I focus on? I don’t want to give dieting and weight loss advice, as I have already stated, I don’t believe in dieting.

I don’t want to talk specifically about nutrition for extreme body building. Those folks already spend a ton of time working out their own specialized nutrition plans for, lets face it, physiques most of us are not interested in developing.

So what does that leave? How about a quick refresher on nutrition for active people, who are working out regularly and looking to maximize those efforts. Bingo!

Balance-Diet-and-Exercise-750x410

What do moderately active people need to fuel their fitness?

I don’t think there will be any “Aha” moments here! You need carbs, fats, and protein and pretty much in that order!

55%-60% of your daily calories should be carbohydrates, where the majority are from starches and only 10%-15% from refined or simple sugars.

30% of the calories should be from healthy sources of fat, and 10-15% from lean protein.

The easiest way to accomplish these targets is to eat a variety of foods each day, from low fat dairy, meat and produce. I think most people know a healthy fat from a less than stellar source: Think olive oil, versus butter. And, again, most know that protein from beans, and poultry is leaner than bacon!

Carbohydrates seem to give people the most trouble when trying to diferentiate the type of carb and the best source. Let’s talk carbs for a minute and what happens in your body.

If your cells could choose, they would use glucose as their primary energy source. Simple  sugars are glucose, or very close relatives to glucose, and can be turned into useable energy right away, and therefore gone quickly. Glucose stores are the primary fuel that  is burned in the first 20 minutes of exercise.

carbohydrate

All these simple sugars are used for fast energy

Now, all carbs and fats are fuel, but not all can be used immediately.

As you continue to use up the available glucose in your blood, your cells will have to convert more complex carbs, or starches stored in your body, into glucose and then burn it. Triglycerides are a great example and are being consumed at this point, and you will have enough energy for about a two hour work out.

triglyceride

This is just one triglyceride molecule! See all those Carbon atoms? When the cell breaks those off, energy is released and your muscles function. It takes some time to get in there and break up this guy, but you have a lot of potential energy in here!

 

Finally the cells move onto larger fat molecules, which store the most energy. Those large molecules are broken down into smaller molecules, atoms are rearranged and bam, you have made more glucose to burn and fuel your activity.6c4bbd39756be63a8e8869294fb36421

What this means is that, unless you are working out at a high intensity for more that 60 – 90 minutes you will not need to consume carbs during your work out. Many people make the mistake of overestimating the number of calories they have burned, and underestimate the number of calories they take in after their workout.

 

Do not make the mistake of cutting out all carbohydrates from your diet!

Remember the whole “fat makes you fat” trend? Everyone was cutting out all fat from their eating plans, until we learned that you need healthy fats or your metabolism will not function properly. The same goes for carbs! If you severely limit your carbohydrates and then exercise, you will throw off the timing for your energy needs.

Make sure you have the proper fuel before you begin your workout.

Pre-Workout-Nutrition-Screen-Shot-

 

And you need to eat smart after the workout, this is not a “I did X so now I can eat Y” moment! You need to be honest about how much work was done, and for how long!

Post-Workout-Infographic1

And don’t forget that water!! Hydration is crucial, even in cold weather.

 

The Bottom Line!

Healthy active people need all macrobiotics (fats, proteins and carbs) to perform their activities. If you have some weight you wish to loose, you know what you need to do!

Eat food from healthy sources, and move your body.  🏋🏻‍♀️🧘🏻‍♀️🥊🏃‍♀️🏊‍♀️🧗‍♀️🚴‍♀️

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References:

https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-six-pillars-of-successful-fitness-nutrition.html

https://www.onhealth.com/content/1/nutrition_and_fitness

http://www.gssiweb.org/en/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-59-fat-metabolism-during-exercise-new-concepts

https://ketoschool.com/the-science-behind-fat-metabolism-60f7a3f678d0

 

 

A to Z Challenge: J is for Juicing

J

Let’s talk about juicing, facts and fictions.

If you type in “juicing for health” into the old search bar, a smorgasbord of topics pop up. The majority are related to weight loss, various juice recipes and information on how to start your own juicing business. The links related to actual science behind this idea, are much farther down the list.

Which tells me a couple things. Most people searching for information about juicing are interested in using it as a weight loss tool, perhaps thinking about meal substitutions or a juice cleanse. And, that like all other herbal and homeopathic supplements, there is little to no regulation associated with these products or their health claims.

In fact, I have only included two references, the only two that were not sponsored by a biased party, that relate to the science of juicing.

Let’s start with the facts:

All juices are higher in sugar content than the whole fruit, or vegetable, from which it was extracted.  Juicing works by pulverizing cellular walls and allowing the water soluble contents to leave the cell. Without the protective cell membrane, ever present airborne bacteria can begin to feed on the sugars released from the produce. Store bought juices have preservatives to slow down this natural process. You should consume fresh squeezed juice immediately. Also, be sure to clean your juicer thoroughly for food safety concerns.

Orange-Juice-vs-small-orangeThe juice has almost 2 1/2 times the sugar and total carbohydrates content of the 1 whole orange, and zero fiber. It takes far less time to drink that glass of juice than it does to peal and eat the orange.

Juicing removes all fiber from the whole fruit or vegetable. In fact the best machines list, as a top selling point, the removal of all seeds, stems, peel and pulp. That insoluble fiber is critical for healthy digestion and regularity. Many juicing fad diets recommend adding Metamucil to their juice to replace the fiber lost. Again, why not just eat the whole food!!

Fiber also provides a satiation that liquid alone can’t. Meaning you will be hungry soon after drinking those calories. Juicing proponents like to point out that there are more vitamins in the glass of juice, but that nutrient equivalent is also in those three orange, and you would not be hungry after eating three oranges!

Juice “cleanses” work in the same manner as all other cleanses and are completely unnecessary. We have already talked about the fact that your liver and kidneys do a perfectly fine job of filtering toxins from your system in our fad diet discussion.

Any weight lost during a juice diet, or cleanse, will be in the form of water and muscle mass. Fat will be regained when the individual returns to a normal, healthy eating plan.

Juicers can be expensive, anywhere from $50 to $400, if you really want to grind all that fiber out of it!

Now for some fiction:

The health claims made by the numerous juicing plans and diet architects, have no science to back up their claims.

Health-Benefits-of-Juicing-Cold-Press-Juicer

Boosting immunity is only short term, long term effects of a juice only diet results in decreased immune response.

“Women’s Issues”? Which ones?

Decrease in body odor? Yikes, who had to sniff the subjects of that research project?😬 Oh, there weren’t any!

 

A top selling point for these plans is the claim that “your kids will love having their servings of fruit and veggies now!”  Seriously! Who are these kids? I don’t know any, certainly did not give birth to any!!  We all want our kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and that is the approach we should take. It is healthier, and if necessary there are multivitamins to supplement our kids’ diets until we find that magical combination of whole fruits and veggies that they will eat. I think adults who eat whole produce are better role models than a cup of green liquid😊.

 

The Bottom Line:

If you love to have juice, and have the caloric room in your normal eating plan, then go for it! Juicing your own will allow you to control the sugar content and mix your own blends. Just don’t over indulge, or use it as a meal replacement. Keep the serving size to 8oz and there is nothing wrong with it. But don’t fool yourself! You still need to incoporate whole produce, and in a variety of colors, to make sure that you are getting all the correct nutrition for the healthiest version of you😊💕

Do you juice? What is your experience with it? Love it? Let me know!

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/juicing-health-risks-and-benefits#1

A to Z Challenge: H is for Healthy Habits

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We have talked about how long it takes to form a new habit in E is for Excuses. But which healthy habits are best? 🧐

There are lists, so many lists, out there that are definetly informative. Do you remember the popular book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”? Its great, I read it twice! There is another wonderful article, 18 Effective Habits of Highly Successful People, which is also chocked full of excellent advice.  Of course, there is quite a bit of overlap, not just between these two lists, but among all the other similar lists out there.

I got to thinking, 🤔  about all the lists that I have seen over the years, that compile healthy habits. “Healthy” in this context, is not weight loss! There are many forms of health, and those might include diet advice or exercise recommendations. But a fit person still may be unhappy, or dealing with mental health issues. So, I was interested in a holistic approach, what shows up regularly on those lists?

I am not sure how successful I have been, but I did attempt to distill down as many lists as possible into the main core habits of healthy people, where the “core” is comprised of nutrition, exercise and mental health. Here is what I came up with!

Nutritional Core Habits of Healthy People:

  1. They don’t diet.  Healthy eating is a way of life, and that does not mean they are especially great at living in a deprived state! I am a fan of the “80/20” rule. Eat and drink healthy for 80% of the time and 20% can be for treats or special occasions. total deprivation does not work! 😃Healthy-Eating-Habits

2. They drink plenty of water and limit their intake of pop, fruit juices, alcohol and coffee. I personally will never give up coffee ☕️ . I could loose my will to live! But I don’t add cream, milk or sugar. The overall goal here is to drink more water than all the other liquids.

3. They eat whole foods in the form of grains, produce and lean protein. Again, 80-90% of the time.

Healthy breakfast. Bowl of yogurt with granola and berries

 

4. They eat, some form, of breakfast every day. This is a tough one for some people, but this does not mean a huge, time consuming effort. A mix of protein and healthy carbohydrates will set up a strong foundation for the day.

 

 

Exercise Core Habits of Healthy People:

  1. They make fitness a priority. We all have to make choices about how to allocate our precious time throughout the day. Fit people see activity as a mental break and a form of relaxation. They either use it as a platform to clear their minds in the morning, to set a strong foundation for the day to come. Or, it is an opportunity to wind down and destress at the end of the day. Some of us do both 😉brain-exercise-review
  2. They are realistic. If you know you can’t workout 5 days a week, then do 2 or 3. Be honest,  and if you have to miss a workout for kids or the job, then miss it!  But go back to it the next week, consistency is the key.
  3. They exercise daily. And no, that does not mean a heavy sweat session seven days a week. It could be a quick walk at lunch, or around the neighborhood, or taking the stairs when possible. Incorporating small changes will naturally evolve into more intensity as your new habits take root.
  4. They incorporate strength training into their workout routine. This is critical if you are looking to loose weight. If you are jumping on the treadmill and doing the same 30 minute walk at 15 minutes a mile, then your body will adapt, you need to change it up for both your body and your mind.
  5. They choose an activity that they actually enjoy! If you hate running-don’t do it just because you think it is good for you. Engaging in an activity that you truly like will make it fun and effortless.

    icono-del-hombre-del-deporte-en-las-diversas-actividades-43038198Do you see something here that looks fun? That is what you should be doing! Not the work out Jessica Alba does to prepare for her next action role! 

  6. They don’t care what other peoples bodies look like! They do not spend time comparing themselves to other people-celebrities, friends and neighbors are not the answer.

Mental Health Core Habits of Healthy People:

  1. They have healthy emotional outlets. We all need to destress at times. Healthy people have a goto calming mechanism. It may include meditation, exercise, reading or practicing mindfulness. It is not emotional eating, negative self talk or self harm.
  2. They surround themselves with positive people. This doesn’t just happen, one has to make choices, tough ones sometimes, as to who those people will be. Removing a toxic relationship will be hard, but beneficial in the long run.
  3. They express daily gratitude and/or volunteer. There are many studies that demonstrate a strong correlation between volunteering and happiness, and general well-being.
  4. They take breaks from social media and work. This is important to allow yourself time to recharge and reconnect with yourself, as well as friends and family.
  5. They place an importance on rest, recovery and sleep. Much like the break from social media that allows for emotional repair,  this allows the body to repair at the cellular level. Overtraining taxes muscles and over scheduling stresses mental acuity.  Breaks also need to be scheduled and prioritized, just like every other important detail in our daily lives.
  6. They welcome the opportunity to learn something new, engage in novel activities. New experiences create new neural pathways which strengthen cognitive development. The “use it or loose it” concept certainly comes into play as we age. Mental stimuli are critical in the delay of cognitive deterioration and help stem Alzheimer’s, and the onset of dementia.

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This is clearly not an all-inclusive, or exhaustive list. And, I think we have all seen some variant of each of these points. There must be some truth in the sheer repetitive nature for these habits! Take a moment to self asses and see if you can’t find room in your goals to make a few small changes. 😊

 

References:

https://www.self.com/story/fitness-habits-to-finally-make

https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/tips/fitness-habits-hurting-your-workout/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/good-fitness-habits_n_3646154.html

https://www.mensfitness.com/life/13-habits-healthy-people-do-every-day

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/twelve-habits-super-healthy-people

https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/18-effective-habits-of-highly-successful-people.html

https://www.simplemost.com/daily-habits-of-healthy-people/

 

 

A to Z Challenge: G is for Genetics

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Have you ever heard someone say “its genetics, nothing you can do about it, so why try?”

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This is one of my pet peeves. I am a molecular biologist by trade, and have spent 25 years educating students about DNA. This is a powerful molecule, no arguing there. And, yes it does matter what genetic material your family has bequethed you. But, just because you have a particular gene, does not mean your fate is sealed!

Oncogenes, which are the genes that IF turned on, lead to loss of cell cycle control. This regulatory loss results in tumors, which may or MAY NOT, be malignant in nature. Do you want a tumor, no. But that tumor does not have to lead to radiation or chemotherapy.

Of course, knowing that you may have a higher chance of developing a certain disorder can be helpful information. For example, both breast and colon cancer are found in my family tree. Knowing that I posses a greater chance of developing one of these diseases has caused me to take certain precautions.

 

physical

I have my annual physical

 

I have begun regular colon screening at an earlier age than recommended to the general population.

 

 

And, I maintain an active and healthy life style so that I will be at my strongest, physically, should I need to fight off cancer.5-Reasons-to-Live-a-Healthy-Lifestyle-1

I don’t think these are new ideas here. Most people would respond the same way when it comes to facing these challenges.

But, there seems to be a different way of thinking when it comes to weight management. It’s almost as if the exact opposite logic is applied.

Why bother trying if my DNA won’t let me loose weight? Here, many Americans give up the fight and just accept that they are victims. Are they right?

Personal genetics do account for the majority of the predisposition toward obesity. Twin studies have shown that, even in an identical genetic background, one twin can have differential protein production, possibly leading to weight gain. So, is that it? Game over?

No! Proper nutrition and exercise can mitigate the effects of your personal genetics.

 

These ladies are identical twins, and appeared on Oprah in 2005.

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Mary weighed 420 pounds, 300 pounds more than her genetically identical sister. Mary was prone to emotional eating and had a sedentary lifestyle. She struggled with finding the motivation to change her eating habits, in spite of her, then 13 year old son, who begged her to get healthy. When Chris died in a car accident at the age of 19, Mary found her motivation. By 2014 she had lost 124 pounds through healthy eating and exercise. It took the death of her son for her to take ahold of her own life.

This is a tragic story. And it illustrates the power we have over our genetic makeup. If this woman can suffer this heartbreak, and still look toward a healthier future, than I can spend some time analyzing my food choices.

 

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Identical twins, Karen and Paula, were both overweight. They decided to embark on a weight loss journey together. One sister had a gastric band placed on her stomach, but the other could not afford the procedure and was left with the cheaper alternative of healthy eating and exercise. They lost 308 pounds between them.

Smart food choices and exercise was an effective method for overcoming any genetics!

 

 

 

 

 

But is that really what is driving these obesity numbers through the roof?

 

Americans eat more, period. Our portion sizes have doubled, or tripled while our genetics have ceased to evolve to deal with the massive intake of extra calories. All your cells can do is pack on the extra energy, in the form of fat reserves. Emotional eating is a real struggle, and the constant availability of food (day or night) plays a factor. It is human nature to eat what is placed in front of us.

portios

The plate on the left is an adult dinner, the middle is the kids menu item, and the right is a European portion.

Obesity rates are lower in other countries such as Asia and Europe and I have often heard, “well, it is their genetics!” No doubt there is some truth to that.

However, when business men and women from Asia and Europe, travel to the US and adopt our Western “cuisine”, their obesity rates, heart disease and cardiovascular disease statistics  reflect our own. Clearly their genetics did not cure them of our fast food, gigantic portion, supersized lifestyle!

The effects of the Western diet was reversed when these individuals returned to their home countries and resumed their normal diets. The rice and seafood of the Asian continent and the smaller portions of whole grains, and fresh produce of Europe, reversed the damage our food caused.

DNA is powerful all on its own, don’t give it any more control than it deserves. Take charge and be healthy and happy!

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10454109

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/20/twin-oprah-where-are-they_n_4816989.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1332085/The-identical-twins-lost-22-stone–guess-gastric-band.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410367/

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/03/29/portion-sizes

https://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1641695-Restaurant-Portion-Sizes-and-All-You-Can-Eat-Buffets

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/restaurant-portion-size_n_1534458.html

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fad Diets

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Let me be clear, I am not a fan of any type of diet, even the healthy ones. I understand that it is a lot easier to have someone tell you when to eat, what to eat, count your calories, prepare the meals, provide an exercise schedule, and all you (theoretically) have to do is follow along. And, there are some really great, responsible people with wonderful, healthy programs to follow out there! That type of predetermined schedule can jump start you onto a healthy path.

But what happens when you travel? Or, get injured? Do you know how to take care of yourself when it is not spelled out in digestible, deliverable increments? Have you learned enough about how nutrition works to power your new active life? Hopefully that is the case and you remain committed to working through those tough times and plateaus, that we all have to deal with, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

All diets work on the same premise: restrict calories, they only vary based on which foods are being labelled as “forbidden” or “bad”.

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The meal plans tend to restrict one food group entirely: high protein/low fat, high protein/low carb,  No fats… You get the idea.

 

 

 

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You may have heard of many of these plans. Each states that theirs is the best way to loose weight, and as long as you follow their strict guidelines, or buy their exclusive prepared meals, you will be successful.

Short term success can happen, but the problem is that this type of restriction is impossible to maintain, forever! Eventually, you will eat from the forbidden side😳.

 

Which leaves the other type of diet. The Fad Diets. Sadly, there are far more of these floating around then the healthy alternatives 😔

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A fad diet is defined as an eating plan that is unbalanced and unhealthy, and promises fast weight loss.

 

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Fad-Diets moreThe authors of fad diets target individuals who want to drop weight without exercise. These plans may cause temporary water loss, but never result in loss of fat.

And, yes, there is a tapeworm diet😬.

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Loss of water causes dehydration and can tax the organs (liver, kidneys and heart). And the weight will return.

Fad or “yoyo” diets severely limiting specific macronutrients can cause the metabolism to destabilize  as it fights to right the balance of nutrients, causing weight gain when the person begins eating normally once again. Worse, the cells will begin to breakdown muscle fibers to acquire the nutrients they crave, leaving the individual with less muscle mass than before the diet😔. This leads to the cycle of muscle loss/fat gain. over time.

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Why do people keep falling for this scam?

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What if I told you that I had discovered a rare mineral, only found in the deepest part of the rainforest, and extracted this “unique and unlabeled” ingredient. I then put that compound into capsules and am marketing my amazing new weight loss supplements. I then get some “experts” to pen testimonials. Those experts claim that test subjects lost 20% more weight when taking my supplements, while dining on only marshmallows, for 1 month! And they never had to break a sweat!! Clearly this is the secret that Western Medicine doesn’t want you to know about!

Any rational person would see this as the scam that it is, right! Right?

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What should you avoid?

1. Diets that focus on only a few foods or food groups.  Any plan or program that excludes major food groups is too limiting in nutrients to be healthy. Examples: Cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, raw food diets,

2. Detox or cleanses. These are just plans to get you to spend money and consume less calories. They are completely unnecessary! Our livers and kidneys are perfectly capable of filtering and flushing contaminants out of our systems.

“All the flushes and cleanses are pure nonsense, unnecessary, and there is no scientific basis for these recommendations,” says Pamela Peeke, MD

3. Diets with ‘miracle’ foods or ingredients-These plans usually center around a miracle root found only in some remote region, that must be consumed 6 times a day, and only sold by one person or company. How convent for that guy! The reality is that the only supplement you may need is a multivitamin, the rest of your nutrients should be from healthy, whole food sources.  Some current examples of these fads include bitter orange, green tea, and apple cider vinegar. I know, some celebrity says this is how she fits into her runway dress, so it must be true! Ya, it’s not.

4. Fasting and very low-calorie diets.  Fasting for weight loss is counterproductive. Your metabolism will crash and begin to digest muscle for nutrients. Fasting will cause short term weight loss in the form of muscle, fat and water, but fat will be regained. Current examples are the Hollywood Diet, and Master Cleanse.

5. Diets that sound too good to be true. Low calorie diets that promise 5 to 10 pound loss per week are completly unrealistic. At best you should be loosing about 1 lb/week.

6. Lack an exercise component-if you are severely limiting your caloires, and cutting out protein or carbs, you will not have the energy to move around, let alone exercise! Any healthy, responsible program will incorporate some form of modest activity. Just accept that if you want to really make a permanent change!

 

References:

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/nutrition/Pages/fad-diets.aspx

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fad+diet

https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/worst-diets-ever-diets-that-dont-work#1

https://wit.edu/wellness-disability-services/wellness/education/fad-dieting

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Lasagna, A Healthier Version of my Favorite Comfort Food!

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One of my favorite things to do on weekend mornings is to watch cooking shows, mostly on the Food Network Channel. I sleep a little longer and my hubby gets up first. He puts on a pot of coffee and I get up when I smell the brew!  I flip on the TV and do my morning stretching/yoga routine, while sipping Starbucks coffee and watching chefs whip up various dishes. I often draw inspiration for my weekly menu planning this way. Last weekend I hit on a great one!

I was watching The Kitchen and Katy Lee demonstrate her recipe for “slow cooker lasagna soup.” What drew me to this was the ease of the slow cooker-I could assemble in the morning and have it ready for the end of the day. Also, I love the idea of controlling the amount of overall carbs and calories! This method would greatly reduce the number of lasagna noodles and amount of cheese in my regular lasagna recipe. Another huge bonus is that not all of my family eats cheese. The traditional lasagna is layered with cheese and noodles making it hard for people who want to avoid the cheese to pick around it. The cheeses are added at the end with this method, and if you want to skip that step all together, you still get all the great lasagna flavor!

I set out to modify my current recipe for this technique. Super easy and tasty!

I started by browning 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. This was drained to remove any extra grease, which I did not want in the final dish.

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While the sausage cooked, I set to work on the slow cooker ingredients. 1 yellow onion, medium diced, went into the crock pot.

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From here we just start adding ingredients! Granulated garlic, 2 cloves of fresh garlic, Italian seasonings, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes in puree, tomato paste, tomato sauce and the sausage. I like to mix dried and fresh herbs, so chopped basil and oregano are included. Be careful with fresh oregano-it is much stronger than dried so a little goes a long way!

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We need quite a bit of liquid because the lasagna noodles will need to cook in the sauce, near the end of the cooking time. So, 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth was added, along with salt and pepper.

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This gets a big stir, covered and then set on low for 8 hours, or high for 6 hours. The noodles are added during the last hour to 30 minutes of cooking time. I like traditional lasagna noodles as opposed to the “no bake” variety, but I suspect that they would work too.

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The number of noodles you choose to add is really up to you. You could use other noodles as well, as long as it is a hardy version. Raviolis would be wonderful too!

I broke up 8 lasagna noodles and stirred them into the sauce mixture.

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40 minutes later, it was looking and smelling like lasagna!

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This was spooned into two soup mugs, that were oven safe, and we covered it with grated mozzarella, shaved parmesan and Italian parsley. I put them under the broiler for about 6 minutes. This is completely optional! You could save the calories and fat and dive right in!

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We were thrilled to get the lasagna flavors in a healthier version! I am not going to pretend that this is good for you, it is comfort food. However, you really can alter it for your own health goals. Give it a try and let me know what you think 🙂

 

Slow Cooker Lasagna

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

All the great lasagna flavor from your slow cooker, with less carbs, fat and calories than the traditional layered dish.

Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 to 1 1/2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage

-1 medium sized yellow onion, med chopped

-1/2 teaspoon granulated of powdered garlic

-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

-1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

-1 bay leaf

-1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

-1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in puree

-1 6 oz. can tomato paste

-1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

-4 cups low sodium chicken broth

-2 to 4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

-8 oz. fresh mozzarella, grated

-Shaved or shredded parmesan, for sprinkling

-chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish

 

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the italian sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  2. In a slow cooker, combine the sausage with the garlic, both fresh and powdered, the dried Italian seasoning, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, chicken broth, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook on high for 5 1/2 hours or on low for 7 1/2.
  3. Stir in the lasagna noodles and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to broil. Ladle the lasagna into ovenproof bowls. Top each with a few tablespoons of shredded mozzarella, a sprinkle of Parmesan and the parsley. Place on a baking sheet and heat under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly, 5 to 8 minutes. 
 

Enjoy 🙂

 

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