Archive for Did You Know?, nutrition
Summer’s in full swing and, with the humidity, the temperature outside can easily feel like it’s in the triple digits. (In many places, it has been, with a dangerously high heat index and numerous cases of heat stroke.) But did you know that consuming certain foods during this heat wave can make you cool?
Cindy did! Here’s what she has to say about the foods to eat to beat the heat:
In order to digest heavy, greasy foods (e.g., burgers, fries, pizza, hot dogs…), your body must generate a lot of heat. This is why you’re likely to feel sluggish and uncomfortable after consuming these types of foods on a smokin’ hot day. A simple way to cool off is to eat leaner, easy-to-digest foods like fruit or salad. Produce is great hot-weather food because it takes very little effort for your body to digest, and less effort means less heat. And here’s an added bonus: Because fruits and vegetables are cool to begin with, they also don’t raise your body’s temperature the way hot food will. Hot, spicy food is an exception, and eating foods like chili peppers can actually keep you cool as well.
You see, the first way the body gets rid of excess heat is through perspiration. (Blood absorbs the extra heat in our systems and eliminates it through our sweat ducts). As sweat evaporates off the skin, the heat goes with it – so to cool off, you actually want to eat foods that make you sweat. You may notice that many cultures existing in hot climates often cook a lot of hot, spicy foods (e.g., curry in India, jerk chicken in Jamaica and chili in Thailand); well, this is why.
Hot peppers are all-stars when it comes to inducing perspiration, due to their high levels of capsicum – the substance that causes the body to sweat. (The hotter the pepper, the more the capsicum.) So if you haven’t done so already, you should consider acquiring a taste for jalapenos and other hot peppers to stay cooler in hot weather.
But if you can’t handle their heat, have no fear: There are alternatives you can consume to stay cool, such as diuretics. Diuretics are substances that make your body get rid of fluids through increased urination; they come mostly in liquid form (e.g., apple cider vinegar, caffeine, cranberry juice and coconut water). Beware, however, that diuretics can also cause you to be dehydrated, so you should constantly drink water as well, especially when you’re overheated.
The thickness of your blood and the speed at which it circulates are also factors that affect how hot or cold you feel. The thinner your blood, the more easily it circulates through your body and the cooler you feel. Foods that are natural blood thinners include cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon and vinegar.
Who would have thunk a few dietary interventions could make you cooler?!
A brief look at why we need fat, according to Cindy Hwang:
Your body requires high-quality fats to stay healthy. Fats provide long-lasting energy, support the production of hormones, protect our vital organs and are needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. They also help us lose weight.
Cell membranes are made from fats, and a good balance of healthy fats and oils allows your body to create strong, flexible cell membranes that can efficiently receive nutrients and discard waste. The fats found in avocado, fish, olives, nuts, seeds and coconut have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and aid in the body’s natural ability to detoxify.
Benefits of fat:
- It provides flavor and texture to help prevent food from being bland and dry
- It helps food stay in the stomach longer, giving a greater sense of satisfaction and preventing hunger and cravings
- It may help your body produce endorphins (natural substances in the brain that produce pleasurable feelings)
- It provides back-up energy if blood sugar supplies run out (after 4-6 hours without food)
- It provides insulation from the heat and cold
- It surrounds nerve fibers to help transmit impulses
- It helps transport nutrients and metabolites across cell membranes
- It is a precursor to hormones and a properly-functioning immune system
This is your body without fat:
- Dry, scaly skin
- Thin hair
- Low resistance to infection
- Poor wound healing
- Loss of menstruation
- Choose unrefined oils and look for terms like “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” on the labels
- Store healthy cooking oils in a cool, dark place and in airtight containers; this helps them from getting rancid
- Keep flax and hemp oil in the fridge, as they’re highly sensitive polyunsaturated oils that go rancid quickly
- For high-heat cooking, use grapeseed, coconut or canola oils (or butter), as they are the most stable
- For medium-heat cooking, use olive, sesame, avocado, almond, peanut, safflower or sunflower oils
- Try a oil/water combo sauté for veggies (I coined this cooking technique: “Hydra-fry”) to limit caloric intake
- Never heat or cook with flax, hemp and walnut oil; use them only to dress foods right before eating
- Discard oils that have developed a rancid smell and taste
- Avoid products with trans fats. They appear as “partially hydrogenated oil” or “vegetable shortening” in the ingredients label
In case you didn’t know, Skechers is now marketing Shape-Ups for girls…
And while there have been plenty of (legitimate) complaints that this may promote too much emphasis on aesthetics at a young age, Skechers argues that they’re really promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
Personally, I don’t see how telling girls that simply putting on a pair of sneakers will increase their fitness level promotes healthy living any more than it does when we tell this to older populations… That, plus Shape-Ups don’t actually do what they claim!
Anyway, it’s an interesting debate, and you can read more about it here.
Sounds pretty bad when you put it that way, huh?
Required licensure for personal trainers is a hot topic of debate right now. Check out this podcast interview with Dr. Carol Garber (my advisor at Columbia and the new VP of ACSM) on the current and future states of the fitness industry.
Along with showers and tax day, National Education Month comes in April. That said, today’s post is from fitness educator Angela Corcoran, founder of Corcoran Fitness and Director of the Focus Personal Training Institute. You can learn more about Angela’s own education here.
April is National Education Month. Reflecting on my own educational journey, I am often surprised that I have really always been a student, and at how important I feel education is in the fields of Exercise Science and Personal Training.
The advances in science during this decade have been unprecedented. The discovery of the FTO gene has changed the way we view obesity, and biomarkers of cancer have shown to be controllable through exercise. In fact, new evidence suggests that most diseases can be prevented or controlled through exercise. A recent article published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) entitled, The Effect of Different Volumes of Acute Resistance Exercise on Elderly Individuals with Treated Hypertension, suggests that high-volume resistance training can reduce systolic blood pressure in elderly individuals with treated hypertension. When I studied the effects of resistance training on hypertension in college, we thought the exact opposite was true. Goes to show how much this field can change.
The Cybex Arc Trainer is a relatively new piece of cardiovascular equipment and was recently studied at UNC-Charlotte.
As reported in the JSCR, Turner et al. compared the treadmill, elliptical cross-trainer and Arc trainer and found that VO2 values were similar on the Arc trainer and treadmill but not on the elliptical. Moreover, greater discomfort was experienced with the elliptical compared with the Arc at similar exercise intensities, suggesting that individuals with or at risk for lower-extremity joint pathology may benefit most from exercising on the Arc trainer. When I was in school, the Arc didn’t even exist.
In light of such vast changes, how can we ever function effectively in a science-centered practice without furthering our knowledge base? We can’t. Exercise Science and Personal Training are new fields that are constantly evolving. Like our close relative, Physical Therapy (officially in existence in the U.S. since 1914 but not a licensed profession until the late ‘70s, and even the ‘80s in some states), the field of Personal Training started as an unlicensed, unregulated field. Unlike Physical Therapy, however, Personal training continues to be unregulated and unlicensed in this country. As a result, personal trainers and their educators have a professional responsibility to consistently ensure their information is up to date and relevant to current practice.
~ Angela Corcoran, MS, RCEP, CSCS (PhD in progress!)
“If doctors can prescribe it, then it must be safe and effective.”
The weight loss diet of the day combines a 500-calorie-a-day meal plan with injections of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) – an FDA-approved hormone for infertility that’s legal for doctors to prescribe for weight loss.
According to this article, doctors all over the country (especially in New York City) are raking in the dough based on claims that this hormone tricks the body into a state of pregnancy and burns stored fat from unwanted areas so the imaginary fetus can get enough fuel. AND, hCG also apparently protects muscle and makes you not feel hungry while you starve yourself.
Sounds almost as good as that drug in Limitless – sign me up!
500 calories a day. That’s like one serving of corned beef and cabbage washed down with a Guinness.
And that’s about three servings right there. Big surprise that people lose weight!
But much like the traditional diet of my Irish relations (Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!), the hCG diet isn’t exactly healthy. Aside from the dangerously low calorie intake, there are some pretty clear reasons why you shouldn’t get hCG injections for weight loss:
1. hCG is derived from the urine of pregnant women, and that’s just gross.
2. The hormone carries risks of cardiovascular troubles like blood clots; at least one patient on the diet has already had a pulmonary embolism.
3. Injections can cost upwards of $1,000.
4. The hormone has not actually been shown to increase weight loss, cause a more attractive distribution of fat or decrease hunger and discomfort from low-calorie diets.
Some doctors say it’s plausible that hCG creates a more “toned” (cringe…) body because it can induce the production of male hormones that increase muscle mass.
Putting aside for a second all the potential problems that can arise from screwing with hormones, I say no matter how many male hormones you have circulating in your body, you ain’t gaining any muscle on 500 calories a day. Period.
Bottom line: Save your money and your health. Don’t do hCG.
We’ve all heard it. Heck, most of us have probably said it ourselves: “Increasing muscle mass speeds metabolism!”
But although increasing lean mass will raise metabolic rate to a small extent, the increase isn’t nearly as much as most people think.
A 1-lb. gain in muscle tissue only amounts to about 7 extra calories burned per day - a negligible amount in the grand scheme of things.
So does this mean strength training isn’t important for weight loss?
Muscle builds strength and the ability to work out HARDER, so you can burn more calories during and after your workout – and THIS increases your metabolism.
Now you know!
Want to know something else?
The latest talk on the town is that chia seeds are a weight loss super food…
Granted, they do contain ample protein and fiber – both of which can aid in weight loss by promoting satiety. But I wouldn’t go snacking on your chia pet just yet… According to THIS ARTICLE, the research supporting chia seeds for weight loss is lacking:
In one study in 2009, a team of researchers randomly split 76 overweight and obese men and women into two groups. One group was given 25 grams of chia seeds twice a day, and the other was given a placebo. After 12 weeks, the scientists found no significant difference between the groups in appetite or weight loss.
Bottom line: Don’t believe everything you hear. While chia seeds are a healthy source of protein, fiber and Omega-3 fats, they’re no super food for fat loss.
But they might get you a ribbon in the Westminster Dog Show…
Everyone knows Valentine’s Day is the chocolate holiday. But did you know that chocolate is a surprisingly good economy booster?
Annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages approximately 600,000 tons per year, and consumers worldwide spend more than $20 billion a year on chocolate.
I guess that explains the obesity crisis…A single chocolate chip has enough calories to fuel a 150-foot walk, and just 35 can take you a full mile. So be careful not to let your economic efforts also cause a growth in girth. ‘Tis better to give than to receive!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Well, I don’t know how Punxsutawney Phil could have possibly seen his shadow, but it sure doesn’t look like Spring is coming anytime soon. To give you an idea of what NYC has been like lately, when I arrived to open our new facility the other day, the lock to the front door was frozen solid (and so was I at 5:45 in the morning…). Fortunately, my brain was still working at that time; I splashed my hot tea on the lock and tried the key again, and it actually opened! I couldn’t believe it. Semi-private training for weight loss went on! Little did I know, I should’ve invited Phil…
But according to THIS REVIEW of almost 200 studies, that groundhog’s weight-loss goal might get him stuck in his hole instead. The majority of research suggests a weight-focused approach to weight loss is usually counterproductive and accompanied by guilt, anxiety, preoccupation with food and body shape, reduced self-esteem, weight discrimination, eating disorders and repeated cycles of weight loss and gain.
Moreover, study authors note that the literature does not support any of the following statements:
* Weight loss will prolong life;
* Anyone who is determined can lose weight and keep it off through appropriate diet and exercise;
* The pursuit of weight loss is a practical and positive goal;
* The only way for overweight and obese people to improve health is to lose weight;
* Obesity-related costs place a large burden on the economy, and this can be corrected by focused attention to obesity treatment and prevention.
Interesting stuff… The best part is that the nutritionist who headed the study is named Bacon.
And she concludes that a better alternative is a focus on changing health behaviors, which has been shown to improve blood pressure and lipid profiles, self-esteem, body image and other health markers – independent of weight change and without the negative aspects of weight-focused programs. What’s even better is that this approach often indirectly leads to more sustainable weight loss. Fingers crossed the rodent listens before next Groundhog Day!
But the research findings make perfect sense when you consider human psychology. I’ve always found that setting health and performance goals keeps people more motivated and consistent, which is really the name of the game when it comes to weight loss.
In any case, you should definitely check out the article – if you can forget about that bacon…