Thursday, March 25, 2010

Exercise and wt control in aging women (and men, too....)

on wednesday, march 24, an article about a research project hit the news big time. a continuing study, as a sub group of the women's health study (by Dr. I Min Lee), found that women who were middle age (avg. 54), followed for 13 yrs on their diet, exercise, and wt, were able to maintain wt if they exercised 60 minutes a day. SIXTY MINUTES A DAY!!!! that's too much, we all say, and we are correct. with distress in their voices and sadness in their eyes, women are now throwing up their hands in defeat and failure as 60 minutes is more than twice as hard to get in daily as the previously-recommended 30 minutes. what's a person supposed to do?

well, here's the skinny on this data - it's no different than it's always been. the conclusion wraps it up but more on that in a moment. the reality is, 30 mins/day of moderate exercise, even in 10 minute segments, is for better HEALTH, primarily cardiovascular health. to maintain wt requires 60 minutes; for those already obese, NINETY minutes!!!! why? because our metabolism slows with age. if you eat the same exact amounts and types of foods in ten years as you are eating today, you will gain weight...unless you're like 12 years old. so, for those over 25, to maintain wt, or to lose, you have to EAT LESS!!!!! what a surprise! or exercise more than you have time or inclination to do. this has not changed; what's changed is the way it's being reinforced in the research world and emphasized to the average reader/listener.

bottom line: eat less calories, move more to burn more calories and you can keep your wt under control. to lose it, you have to be even more diligent on both ends of the calorie spectrum.

one more point: the best way, safest way, most beneficial way to maintain metabolic rate is thru muscle building - that is, resistance training.

so, nothing really new here, huh?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hi Fructose Corn Syrup makes you fatter than sugar

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the bugaboo of nutritionally minded, and nutritionally smart, people. It's a consequence of technology trying to find a market. When it was first 'discovered' in the '60s, most soft drinks, like sodas and fruit drinks, were flavored with sugar - about 50% fructose and 50% sucrose. But with America being so inundated with corn, HFCS became a cheap source of sweetening and is now in almost every processed food product where sugar used to be. HFCS is about 55% fructose. Apparently, based on this most recent study at Princeton, HFCS is metabolized differently than sugar such that, in equal caloric amounts, when consumed by rats, it made them not only gain enormous amounts of excess weight - FAT; it also gave them the beginnings of what we now call "metabolic syndrome": obesity, hi cholesterol, poor blood sugar control. In other words, if all goes well politically as more of this evidence mounts, part of the solution to America's obesity problem, some of which has been directly linked to excessive caloric intake of HFCS foods, may be to eliminate it from the food chain. While you won't hear many exercise or health professionals declare this, let's bring back sugar.

Read the news on this research:

Monday, March 15, 2010

the carb-fat dispute continues

how to best lose weight? low fat, low carb/hi protein, or low calories? this debate has been ongoing for at least 40 years, maybe longer, but i was too young to care back then. now i do, and professionally, have been battered about by the various studies showing one or the other as best.

the real issue, i believe, is how to alter the caloric balance bw intake and output such that physiological mechanisms either remain in place or are enhanced to maintain proper metabolism. by the latter, i mean a metabolism that is appropriate for weight control, i.e. retains muscle mass, burns calories at an expected rate/unit body weight. we know that losing weight means losing muscle means lowering basal metabolic rate (BMR) such that any additional calories are more readily stored as fat. in order to keep metabolism high enough to resist this storage, we need to include exercise, preferably resistance training, to our weight management efforts. if we only diet, we lose too much muscle. if we eat hi protein/low carb diets, and eat fewer calories than we need, we not only lose weight faster but we retain more muscle mass. sounds good...but does it last? and that's the issue here.

losing weight now is the american dream but keeping it off for the better part of one's life is the medical and health care dream. low fat diets are easier to engage in but not as beneficial in the short term. low carb diets are good in the short term but this study shows they just don't persist:  as this blurb from the journal itself shows, the numbers are not profound enough to satisfy the average weight-loser's goals, but they may indeed satisfy their doctors' goals.

Results of a randomized, controlled trial found greater weight loss at six months with a low-carbohydrate diet than with a calorie restricted, low-fat diet in 132 patients with a mean weight of 288 lbs and a high risk of diabetes. However, after 12 months, there were no significant differences in weight loss. Findings at three years were similar, but the pattern of weight change from 12 to 36 months differed. While the low-carbohydrate group lost more weight at 12 months, they regained more weight during the next 24 months. In contrast, the low-fat group maintained their weight loss. The difference in weight regain may reflect initial weight loss, as greater weight loss from baseline to 12 months was associated with greater weight gain.

bottom line: eat fewer calories, of any sort, and be consistent through life. oh yes, be sure to exercise too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

more on barefoot running

the articles continue coming in about the merits or hazards of barefootness. the American Running & Fitness Association, of which i am a lifetime member and happy recipient of its newsletters, has an article in this month's Running & Fit News:  it discusses some of the books out there along with some commentary by some of its board of advisors. while it does not address some of the issues technically of importance to runners - like how to start doing so, or even why - it also does not answer the biggest question in my mind: how to run barefoot on city streets and pavements littered with shards of broken glass, nails, and other debris capable of puncturing even the best-calloused foot? granted, you can thicken the skin by constantly walking barefoot and, having done so in my past as  a martial artist, possibly endure by adaptive gait hot asphalt or small non-puncturing debris like stones and pebbles. but running on such surfaces does not offer the opportunity to avoid the many obstacles to safe barefootness. so, when all is said and done, short of running on a manicured lawn or football field or even a treadmill, barefoot running, to me, is highly dangerous and possibly not beneficial, esp for racers. the article, too, agrees. run, but make sure the shoe fits the internal - foot - mechanics and the external - road or off road - environment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the 100 calorie deficit

ok, so people know they should be losing weight; they have read and heard it ad infinitum. they feel terribly guilty about their excess weight, their diet and exercise habits, and their burden on the health care system. and they refuse to engage in the long hard arduous struggle to counter the effects of modern living, otherwise known as sedentariness and gluttony. but no formula thusfar has met the match to satisfy people's emotional need to meet some possibly unrealistic standards of leanness. and few will achieve the level of commitment necessary to get there. but here's the kicker: is it worth even trying?

this article - - discusses the 100 calorie method. this method is one i use to educate clients. it states that creating a 100 calorie deficit each day, primarily by eliminating a wasted calorie food - like sugary, fatty foods, or cutting back on alcoholic beverage - will theoretically yield a 10 lb wt loss at the end of a year. they look at me with sadness, wishing to accomplish this goal faster, sooner. when i add that a 100 calorie walk - about a mile if briskly done - adds another 10 lbs lost that next year, they warm up. now, the prospect of losing 20 lbs of real wt, not muscle or water but fat, seems more reasonable and realistic to them. still, very few will make the effort over the long haul. i've had clients stay with me for, in some cases, up to 20 years, and still they can't seem to make the commitment to lose. granted, they have for the most part maintained wt over the long haul, so that does count as a victory over wt gain. but they would still like to, and need to, lose some for health if not appearance, and still can't, with educated knowledge and fiscal security, make that level of commitment.

this article discusses the possibility that the science behind the 100 cal deficit fails to acknowledge the metabolic changes that slow wt loss down even if at this steady rate of deficiting. that is true - as you lose, you need less energy to move so to keep losing you have to reduce even more calories. that's exactly why exercise HAS to be part of the formula. as you lose, you can move easier, faster, longer, and thereby burn more calories in less time, tho with greater effort, on an absolute scale. that is, since you are lighter, you move faster, and the outsider looking in would fret at the prospect of having to move as fast as you. however, it was harder to move as fast when you were heavier, so the relative work was greater.  bottom line, in my humble opinion, is that the relative work is similar, or needs to be, in order to burn off 100 calories, so get over it. being lighter is less stressful to the musculoskeletal system (easier on the joints) and the cardiovascular system (easier on the heart), and therefore has value over and above wt loss itself. [yes, it's possible to be too light, too skinny, too unhealthy, but that's not the issue for 67% of americans.]

so, for the person willing to listen to reason when it comes to wt loss, here's the dr. irv 200 calorie solution: reduce intake by 100/day and move briskly 15 continuous minutes/day and wait - the wt, the fat will slowly but surely slide off. at the end of a year, you will lose a solid 10-20 lbs and won't have to struggle to do so. furthermore, you won't have to struggle to keep it off. finally, it may not make all your problems go away, but at least the problem of feeling guilty about failure because of the daunting efforts demanded by other methods will no longer exist. good luck.