Protein for Weight Loss

June 24, 2013

eggs1In the 40 years that I have spent in the fitness world, one group of athletes above others demonstrates an incredible ability to control their weight. Whether they want to gain but more likely lose body fat. Bodybuilders are very detailed oriented as to how their bodies appear. So when it comes to weight loss can there be a lesson learned? For years the bodybuilder trainers that I have been around can often be heard telling their clients to increase their protein. Including at breakfast time.  So why aren’t we listening to the ones who have perfected their craft of changing their body fat levels? Let’s look at some research.

University of Missouri researchers have found that eating a breakfast high in protein reduces hunger throughout the day. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) they found that a protein-rich breakfast reduces the brain signals that control food motivation and reward-eating behavior. Heather Leidy, assistant professor in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology assessed physiological hunger and satiety by measuring perceived appetite sensations and hormonal markers using fMRI to identify brain activation in specific regions.

In a study presented at the 2007 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center compared weight loss in two groups of women. One group ate two eggs for breakfast and the other group had a bagel. Both breakfast meals were identical in calories and volume. “Compared to the bagel eaters, overweight women who ate two eggs for breakfast five times a week for eight weeks as part of a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, lost 65% more weight.” Reports researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD.

Another study, reported in Obesity Research, found that women who added a little lean protein to their breakfast (a slice of Canadian bacon added to an egg sandwich made with an English muffin) felt less hunger during the next four hours than those who ate a breakfast with no protein.

A report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that consuming more protein above the RDA improves adult weight loss. Two groups were followed. One used the dietary recommendations as defined by the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. The other group was given as much as 30-33grams of protein for breakfast. After using these diets for ten weeks, the group that consumed the higher protein meals lost more weight, more body fat and less lean muscle mass.

It is important to note that lean muscle mass is more metabolically active, which then helps with weight management.

Now don’t mistake these reports to say no carbs. All of these groups that were followed had carbohydrates as part of their meals as well. What they did, as noted is increase the amount of protein they consumed. So it’s not about taking carbs out of your diet completely. But what appears to be working here is changing the ratio of carbs to protein by increasing the amount of protein.

So what do you say? What are you having for breakfast? How can you increase your levels of protein?

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Colas – Are they REALLY that BAD?!?!

November 27, 2012

Coca-Cola. The All-American soft drink. Or at least when growing up it seemed like the only option. Of course there were other brands – Pepsi, but they were colas none the less.  Mom made us drink milk with our meals.  And a coke was a treat. So of course when we had our choices and later as we became more independent, milk was replaced by a cola. I worked for a company once where the gentleman in charge drank 2 six-packs of Pepsi every day. He was at least 50 pounds overweight.

So what’s the big deal?! I don’t want to drink milk or water all the time. They have no taste!

One 12 ounce soda typically has 9 teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories. Although diet sodas are low in calories data suggests that the artificial sweeteners may increase sugar cravings.

Just like with other products that we consume over time we have found out that there is a price to pay for that taste.

“There is an association between people who have high soda intake and risk of bone fracture. But that’s probably due to the fact if they have a high soda intake, they have a low milk intake,” says Robert Heaney, MD, FACP, professor of medicine at Creighton University.

Research has shown that adults and children who regularly drink beverages high in sugar tend to experience weight gain. As weight increases so does the risk of type 2 diabetes. A study in the journal Circulation found that adults who drank 1 or more regular or diet sodas had an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions which includes high blood pressure, excess weight gain, high cholesterol and insulin resistance.

Soft drink makers produce 10.4 billion gallons of soda each year. If we didn’t consume this much they wouldn’t be producing it!

One reason for our increased consumption is the container size. In the 1950’s the standard soda size was 6.5 ounces. Now we don’t think twice about picking up a 20 ounce bottle. In fact many stores will gladly sell you a 32 ounce cup full of this sweet drink. Not only are sodas contributing large amounts of calories and sugars, teenagers are now drinking twice as much soda to milk. This is a huge problem. Low calcium intake contributes to osteoporosis, which leads to fragile and broken bones. For girls 92% of their bone mass is built by age 18. If they’re not consuming enough calcium during this time there is no catching up later.

So what can you do? If you can’t stop drinking colas all at once start by slowly weaning yourself off by skipping one a day. As far as combatting the effects these drinks are having on your bones when you skip that soda have a glass of milk or calcium fortified orange juice instead. Consider this: fat-free milk has even more calcium than higher calorie whole milk, BONUS! And other than changing your diet, weight bearing and resistance exercises are highly recommended.

What is your beverage of choice? Now that you have some information, will it change what you reach for when you’re thirsty? I never condone lying, but my daughter has told her children that they’re allergic to colas. They never ask for one. How would you steer your kids away from these? And when you do will you consider that they learn from example?

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Moist Vs Dry Heat (Part 3 in our Use of Modalities Series)

October 9, 2012

So far we have covered the use of ice and dry heat to assist in the recovery process. When we look at heat we have to remember that there are 2 kinds. Dry heat which we covered in part 2, and moist heat which we will discuss here.

Dry heat is a very good way to get circulation into the affected area. However moist heat is much more penetrating, so it must be more effective. Or is it?

Whenever I’ve used moist heat pads (aka hydrocollators) my muscles have felt suppler than using dry heat or ice. By the way, hydrocollators found in a rehab setting are kept in water at 170 degrees and will retain this heat for 20-30 minutes. In fact at home, after very long runs I have turned to sitting in a tub of hot water to assist in my recovery.

But the debate continues. Clinical studies do not support the belief that moist heat is more effective than dry heat. Moist heat gives the perception that the tissue is being heated more deeply.

A study was held by the University of Texas to find out if moist heat was more effective increasing flexibility than static stretching. Results showed significant benefits to increase hamstring flexibility when using moist heat over static stretching.

Okay so there are great benefits to using moist heat.  But what about the debate of dry vs. moist heat? Is it a matter of perception?

No matter whether it is dry or moist, heat is going to increase circulation by acting as a vasodilator which will increase the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the area it is applied to.

In summary.  When looking for the correct modality to use for soreness, pulled muscles and other strains use ice for the first 72 hours and then heat after that. Ice will reduce inflammation and heat will increase circulation so that the proper nutrients and oxygen can get back into the area. This will allow you to continue to increase your conditioning and fitness levels according to your goals.

What about you? Have you found other sources to aid in your recovery?

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Feel the HEAT!!!

September 4, 2012

This is the 2nd part of a series about recovery modalities. This post will exam using heat in order to recover from one workout to another. While cold is beneficial during the acute phase (first 72 hours). Heat is recommended after the inflammatory response has been resolved.

The application of heat increases circulation by dilating blood vessels which then allow enzymes and nutrients to reach the affected area in order to continue the rebuilding process.

I’ll use heat first thing in the morning. Many times I wake up with a tight back. I keep a heating pad close to my bed. So when this happens I’ll slide the pad under my back, turn it on and allow the heat to do it’s work. This is done by the heat increasing circulation. The increased blood flow loosens me up.

All heating modalities whether they are from a heating pad or heat pack should not be applied directly to the skin and should only be used for 20 – 30 minutes in order to achieve the correct physiological effect.

One thing you want to keep in mind during these recovery phases. Whether you are feeling the soreness of a hard workout or you have truly strained or pulled a muscle the first modality to use is ice. This should be easy to remember. The area that is affected is inflamed. You’re only going to bring this response down by cooling the area. After the first 48-72 hours and the inflammation has come down you add heat to the area. Heat increases blood flow which in turn allows nutrients to assist in the rebuilding phase. Here’s the tricky part. This will all work as long as you don’t continue to stress the area that is recovering. If you’re going to do this then it’s back to the ice.

Listen to your body. There can be fine lines between being injured and being very sore from hard work. There is no reason why you can’t work other body parts while another is recovering. Your body changes during the recovery phase. NOT during your workout. The workout is the vehicle in which your body is forced to change to adapt to the intensity you just placed on it. And this is all done during the recovery phase.

Do you use heat for recovery? If not what do you do?

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Ice, Ice Baby!!!…….What do you do for recovery??

August 17, 2012

This will be the first in a series about recovery modalities. What assists your muscles during the recovery phase so that they can be ready for another workout in order to continue to increase your fitness levels?

My muscles are sore!!! ……Well how does that happen and what can you do about it?

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain felt in muscles several hours to days after strenuous exercise. DOMS is the result of ruptures within the muscle, as well as damage to the muscle’s connective tissue.

So what can you do about it?

ICE, ICE, ICE!!!!!!

I have made this recommendation to those suffering countless times. It shocks me when someone comes in the gym complaining of an injury. I ask them if they’ve iced and they just look at me with a distant stare.

But it really can be that simple.

The application of cold for the treatment of injury is widespread in sports medicine today.  Ice applied to the injured area will help prevent or reduce swelling. Which then will allow the tissues and muscle to repair quicker than if it is still fighting off the inflammation first. Ice packs, ice massage, gel packs can all be used to reduce inflammation. Hence reduce the soreness you are feeling and then allowing you to hit it hard in the weight room quicker than if you don’t bring the inflammation down.

Ice should be left in place for approximately 15-20 minutes. You won’t get any additional effect by applying it any longer.

In the future we will explore the use of heat and moist heat when recovering from one workout and getting ready for the next.

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Seniors And Their Workouts

May 24, 2012

Due to my education and work experience I train seniors. For my purpose I define those 65 or over as a senior. In fact at any given time in the past 12 years I have had 5 or more people over 80 on my client list. It’s a very different time of life.  This period can be filled with excitement, retrospect and angst. One thing is for sure these people look at their health and fitness in a very different light than they did even 5 years before. There is true purpose behind their training.

So what is different about their workouts? What is different about their attitudes, now compared to when they were younger?  Can they really improve even if they have never been involved with organized workouts before? What is the best activity for maximum results?

Generally workouts are different for seniors compared to those 10 and 20 years their junior. Whereas at one point a person might have been concerned about her agility and reflexes while getting around a tennis court that same person later in life is more concerned about navigating a busy day at the mall, being active with their grandchildren and at the most base level being able to perform activities of daily living.

Attitudes and sense of purpose are just as directed whether the person is in their 20’s or their 70’s, 80’s and beyond. In fact I have found that the seniors I work with are more consistent than their younger counterparts and they see their purpose to be more imperative.

Guidelines established for older adults by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services require 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise and two or more days of weight training. Exercise physiologist Barbara Bushman of Missouri State University says fitness routines must include resistance training for muscle and bone health. Weak muscles and bones can lead to falls and broken bones, and time doing rehabilitation in nursing homes. Greg Warshaw, chair of the division of geriatrics at the University of Cincinnati says “Most people don’t understand the effect of deconditioning. We get more illnesses as we get older. If you’re in good shape and you get bad illnesses, you’re likely to recover faster. That’s another reason why exercise is so important to people as they age.” (USA Today May 10, 2011)

So what if someone has lived their lives so far not exercising? Do they have a long way to catch up so they can compete in a push-up contest or start running sprints? Well not at all. In fact it turns out that the largest increment of mortality benefit is seen when comparing sedentary adults with those in the next highest physical activity level. In other words avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle by engaging in at least some daily physical activity is recommended for reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases and postponing premature mortality at any age.

The National Institutes of Health states that the four main types of exercise that seniors need are

  • Endurance activities – walking, swimming, or riding a bike.
  • Strengthening exercises which build muscle tissue and reduce age-related muscle loss
  • Stretching to help keep the body limber and flexible
  • Balance exercises to reduce the chances of falls

Although no amount of physical activity can stop the biological aging process, there is evidence that regular exercise can minimize the physiological effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle and increase active life expectancy by limiting the development and progression of chronic disease and disabling conditions.

The seniors that I work with bring a very different energy to the gym compared to their younger counterparts. They are very happy to be participating in life. They’re not concerned anymore with lifting the heaviest weights or running marathons. A lot of them see their contemporaries struggling and they’re concerned with maintaining what they have. And they want to live in this part of their lives as fully as they possibly can.

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Eat My?!?!?!

April 9, 2012

Errr, I mean Eat Your Veggies!!

Your mother always said to eat your vegetables. What does this mean exactly? Can I just get a wedge of iceberg lettuce, throw some tomatoes in and smother it with creamy Italian dressing? That’s vegetables, right? Not exactly. In fact what I want to address here is dark green leafy vegetables specifically.

Greens are the number one food you can eat regularly to help improve health” says Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, a culinary educator in Northern California and author of The Veggie Queen. That’s because they’re loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Yet Americans are still not eating the recommended daily requirements of vegetables.

The latest dietary guidelines call for us to get 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (2 ½ to 6 ½ cups per day) depending on your calorie intake. For example a person who needs 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight should be eating  9 servings or 4 ½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables). And by the way in this case more equals better.

There is strong research that supports the premise that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The largest and longest study to date was done by the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals. This included 110,000 men and women whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years. The findings were that the higher the average daily intake the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. And although all fruits and vegetables contribute, green leafy vegetables make very important contributions.

In another large report by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research findings suggested that leafy greens and fruits “probably” protect against several types of cancers, including, mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus and stomach cancer.

Why aren’t you eating some veggies RIGHT NOW!!!!

Nussinow ranked the top 10 most widely-eaten greens from most nutritious to least. Here’s her top 10:

  1. Kale
  2. Collards
  3. Turnip Greens
  4. Swiss Chard
  5. Spinach
  6. Mustard Greens
  7. Broccoli
  8. Red and Green Leaf Romaine Lettuce
  9. Cabbage
  10. Iceberg Lettuce

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Supplement Confusion

October 31, 2011

I grew up in a household (in the 70’s) with a mother who believed in taking vitamins. Known today as supplements. At that point my mother recommended multi-vitamins. Just to ensure that we were getting the proper nutrition. After a while our “vitamin” taking grew into vitamin C, vitamin E and Iron. Afterall who knew what we were really getting from our food.

Since those days supplement usage has grown exponentially. We, as a society, now take many different “vitamins”. From yes, Multis, C’s, E and now add on to that list, fish oil, selenium, calcium and the list goes on and on. You can find a pill or liquid on the market to satisfy your needs whether it is to fight off the possibilities of a cold, aid in bone health or even help you grow muscle. Oooops let’s not forget hair too.

Before we go to far know this. 17 years ago legislation was passed that allows supplement manufacturers to make claims without any federal regulation. In other words, if they want to, they can lie.

Recent studies have surfaced that dispute the use of these health aids. In fact it seems for every study that you find that professes a pill’s positive effects. There’s sure to be another in the month’s to follow that debunk it.

For example let’s look at what has happened to vitamin E lately. (Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that destroy free radicals, which are compounds in the body that damage DNA and even cause cell death. Free radicals are believed to contribute to the development of heart disease and cancer.)

You can find vitamin E in many food sources, which include:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Yams

But as usual we are told that vitamin E is going to help us maintain our health so we include it in our supplements.

Population studies (large groups of people over time) suggest that eating foods high in vitamin E may help prevent cancer. But several large clinical studies found that women who take vitamin E supplements do NOT have a lower risk of breast cancer. And another study found that men who took 400 IU of vitamin E every other day for 8 years did NOT have a lower risk of overall cancer than those who took a placebo.

Many population studies have found that people who have higher levels of vitamin E have a lower risk of heart disease. Now the counter. The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) trial, found that taking 400 IU of vitamin E did NOT lower the number of heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from heart disease from men and women who were at high risk for it.

In 2004 researchers at Johns Hopkins reported that a high-dose of vitamin E (in excess of 400 IU) is associated with a higher overall risk of dying. 19 studies took place between 1993 and 2004 and involved more than 136,000 patients in North America, Europe and China. All of the studies included a control group taking a placebo. When the data was re-evaluated, high dose vitamin E (400 IU per day or more) showed an increase of death.

While doing the research on this I checked out my own cupboard and looked at the multivitamin that was in there and found that the dosage was 200 IU per day. I have to wonder that along with the foods I’m eating if I’m actually getting 400 IU or more a day.

Or maybe, just maybe I should just rely on eating well balanced meals and put the supplements away.

I don’t have an end answer here. My suggestion though especially since there are NO regulations on supplements is, buyer beware! You have to be comfortable with your decisions but please do your own research on what you are putting in your body. Several years ago I was training a teenage male and during the session he proudly announced to me that, that morning he had taken a bunch of vitamins. I asked him why. He just shrugged his shoulders.

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Book Recommendation – Born to Run

September 19, 2011

It’s been a busy summer and I haven’t been able to post here. But with the summer came a great read. Especially if you’re a runner. If you haven’t already, and you are a runner read Born to Run. Not since George Sheehan’s Running and Being has a book motivated me so much to run.

Born to Run is being credited for starting the “barefoot running” movement. But Born to Run is more than a story of foot anatomy and why we have more injuries the more we cushion our feet. Author Christopher McDougall takes us on a journey into the Copper Canyons of Mexico and a search for the elusive Caballo Blanco and the Tarahumara Indians. This where he finds extraordinary runners. Not only do these natives of Mexico run distances of 100 miles or more but they do this barefoot or with barely anything on their feet.

McDougall takes the reader through the compelling research that discusses how the more cushioned a running shoe is the more we can be susceptible to injury. Listen to the evidence and decide for yourself.

The story continues and culminates as the author joins with Caballo and other world class ultra-trail runners as they race against the Tarahumara in their Copper Canyon (the greatest race the world has never seen). If you love running order your copy today!

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Got Your Back????

May 31, 2011

How’s your neck feel? How about the top of your shoulders? Do you have a tightness between your shoulder blades?

Well it turns out your not alone.

In the last couple of years I’ve had several of the executives I train complain of these symptoms. Even to the point of seeking out medical advice.

I only bring up that they’re executives because this is one of a few things that these people have in common. They sit at a desk in front of a computer. Other common traits are that they are in high stress occupations. And another is that they workout every chance that they can (very frequently). You would think that the latter would be their saving grace.

When it comes to weight training balance is what you want to strive for. You see the one body part you don’t want to forget about is your BACK. The reason that a lot of people who do resistance training suffer with upper back problems is that they forget to include back exercises. The tone and muscle that is made, especially with chest moves pulls your shoulders in and forward. Combine this with sitting at a desk and not taking the time to consider correct posture and you’ve got the formula for a tight neck and shoulders…..OF COURSE!!!

But take time to strengthen your back and you can counteract this.

In a previous post I listed chest and back as the 2 upper body parts to always train. But you must include your back both upper and lower. Lowers should be trained with your ab moves to make it a complete core workout. And upper back is just as important due to its connection with your posture.

Back exercises include dumbbell rows, lat pulldowns and pullovers and the list goes on and on. There are plenty of movements to perform so that you can counter the effect your other upper body training is doing to your posture.

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