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Archive for May, 2014

Stress

There is a great book out there called ¨Why zebras don´t get ulcers¨ by Robert M. Sapolsky, that I highly recommend everyone to read. This book describes perfectly what stress is and how our body reacts to it. Thanks to this book and it´s well done research I have learned a little bit more about what stress is and how it can affect us.  And I will try to explain this in the following blog.

First, let´s clear up some simple terms.

  • Stressor- is anything in the outside world that knocks you out of homeostatic balance.
  • Stress response- is how your body reacts to the stressor.

So let´s give an example to clarify things: Imagine you are walking down the street and a lion (stressor) comes out of nowhere and starts chasing you, so you decide, if clever, to run.  The body has to react to mobilize energy, so it raises the heart rate, as well as blood pressure and breathing rate.  Arteries are relaxed to let the diverted blood into your muscles (you are going to have to run), veins get more rigid because this causes the blood to return with more force. The body has to halt expensive building projects (you are going to need all the energy possible), so digestion is inhibited. Growth and reproduction are also affected (who cares about the future, you got to take care of the present), and immunity is also inhibited. The body has to mobilize energy so it secretes 2 hormones (it releases more than 2 but for simplicity reasons): GLUCOCORTICOIDS AND GLUCAGON.  These hormones cause triglycerides (where fat is stored) to be broken down into free fatty acids and glycerol, it also causes glycogen to broken into glucose and protein into amino- acids. So, now you got all these simple forms of ¨energy¨ in your bloodstream, so that you can use them to outrun the lion.

Now, all this is good if the lion chases you one day, but imagine if the damn¨ lion¨ is chasing you everyday of your life. Your heart would have to work more, blood pressure would increase, veins become more rigid, vessels have to work harder so they build a thicker muscle layer, they also have a greater change of  being damaged and inflamed since blood pressure is going up.  And on top of that you got the amino acids, glucose and free fatty acids flowing through your blood, meaning that if you add all that up you got a greater probability of clogging those veins up (atherosclerosis).

Also, insulin, which promotes storage of energy and stimulates protein synthesis, goes down. Because when faced with a stress we don´t want to store energy, we want to mobilize energy. So all those who want to build muscle and are under lots of stress will have a harder time developing muscle. And let´s not forget that mobilizing all this energy is ¨expensive¨, meaning you are using energy and that could lead to ¨chronic fatigue syndrome¨.

Now all this doesn´t mean that if you have stress you are going to get sick,  in fact, some people are stress all their lifes and never get sick, but it does INCREASE your risk of getting a disease that makes you sick. So what do we do about it?  We will talk about that in my next blog, but before I go, I do want to say that if the  ¨stressor¨ is really a lion, RUN,  as fast as you can :).

Hoped you enjoyed it!

References

Sapolsky M R, Why Zebras Don´t Get Ulcers. Third Edition, St.Martins Griffin, New York 1994.

 

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How to lose FAT properly

Before I start this blog I first want to explain a couple of terms that are quite important.

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate– this is the amount of energy you burn at rest every day just to maintain normal body functions such as breathing, circulation, digestion and so on. Basal Metabolic Rate usually accounts for the largest part of your total daily calorie expenditure-about two thirds!  This is very important and something people forget!
  2. Lean Body Mass–  Is the total weight of all your body tissues excluding fat. This includes not only muscle but also bone and other fat-free tissues. Since muscle is the largest component of lean body mass, tracking your LBM can tell if you´ve lost or gained muscle. Muscle burns more than fat so if you have a higher lean body mass your basal metabolic rate is going to be higher.
  3. Activity Level– The more active you are, the more calories you burn. If you sit behind a desk all day and relax on the sofa all night, you don´t burn much.
  4. Weight–  The bigger you are, the more calories you require to sustain and move your body.
  5. Age– metabolic rate decreases with age
  6. Gender– Men burn more than women.

TOTAL DAILY ENERGY EXPENDITURE– is the total number of calories your body burns in 24 hours, including basal metabolic rate and all activities. To calculate TDDEE you have to add basal metabolic rate + activity level + weight + lean body mass+ age+ gender.

Ok, now that we have cleared up these terms let´s talk about how to lose fat properly. Most people don´t realize there is a great difference between losing fat and losing weight. They are completely different things and while losing fat is usually great, losing weight on the other hand can have horrible consequences if not done properly. I have already established in my other post that, to lose fat, you have to create a calorie deficit. So, what people usually do is they go on these horrific diets and create a caloric deficit and lose weight. But the problem is that the body doesn´t know the difference between starvation and diet, it thinks it´s the same thing. So, the body protects itself. First thing it does is it burns muscle because muscle consumes more calories and the body doesn´t want that when in a calorie deficit. In other words, you have lost weight but just ruined your BASAL METABOLIC RATE, which is how you burn most of your calories. On top of that you now weigh less, which you may think is better, but remember the more you weigh the more calories you consume. So once you get off the diet and start eating ¨normal¨ your basal metabolism rate is going to be slower than before. Other horrible things that diets do are:

  1. It can increase hunger – The body wants to protect itself so it is going to tell you the whole day that you are hungry
  2. Diets decrease your energy and work capacity – Less energy, the less you move around, the less calories you are going to burn
  3. Diets can decrease thyroid hormone – Thyroid levels help regulate your metabolic rate, so it is not good if we mess with that
  4. Diets increase cortisol – Cortisol is the stress hormone and is also a catabolic (muscle wasting), big NO NO.

That is why diets usually don´t work!! What works is a lifestyle change, meaning you eat more properly and you exercise more.

I´ll finish by giving some tips on how to lose fat:

  • Build muscle or at least don´t lose the muscle you already have
  • If you go in a calorie deficit, eat more protein and fiber
  • Eat natural whole foods
  • Move more
  • Instead of seeing how much weight you have lost, check how much fat you have lost

Seems quite simple, no?

References

Tomiyama JA, Mam T, Vinas D, Huner, M J, DeJager I, Taylor E S. Low calorie diets increase cortisol. PsychosoMed May 2010:72(4):357-64.

Mann T, Tomiyama AI, Lew AM, Westling E, Chatman, Samules B. The search for effective obesity treatment. Should medicare fund diets? American Psychologist 2007; 62:220-33.

Korkeita M, Rissaren A, Kaprio I, Sorensen TI, Koskenuvo M. Weight loss attempts and risk of mayor weight gain: a prospective study in finnish adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999; 70: 965-75

Wadden TA1, Mason G, Foster GD, Stunkard AJ, Prange AJ.Effects of a very low calorie diet on weight, thyroid hormones and mood. Int J Obes. 1990 Mar;14(3):249-58.

 

 

Carbohydrates part 2

It has been a while but I´m finally back (back again), so let us continue with the second part of carbohydrates. I will make it short since most of the important things were already said in the first part (click here). As I mentioned in my last post, carbohydrates have been getting a bad ¨rap¨, and a lot of people blame them for their weight gain. So, they are the first macronutrient ¨punished¨ when someone wants to lose weight.  But carbohydrates, if eaten properly, is an essential macronutrient, and one that should definitely not be completely taken out of your diet.

The thing is, most people completely misunderstand what carbohydrates are. When they think carbohydrates, they think sugar, pasta, or processed foods, but carbohydrates are much more than that. Carbohydrates are found in lettuce, broccoli, spinach, onions and many other healthy foods. So the important thing is that we should try to stay away from refined and highly processed carbohydrates, which can cause trigger cravings, and try to eat whole, natural carbohydrates.

Now, if you are not that active, I would recommend to try to keep your carb intake low. But if you exercise regularly and maintain a low carb diet you could actually be doing more harm than good. As it has been shown that exercising regularly and restricting your carb intake drastically can lead to (1-6):

  1. Decreased thyroid output
  2. Increased cortisol output
  3. Decreased testosterone
  4. Impaired mood and cognitive function
  5. Muscle catabolism

In other words, it leads to a SLOWER METABOLISM and this is the last thing someone wants when losing weight.

And again I will finish by saying that the most important factor when someone is on a diet is the percentage of proteins they eat. So it really doesn´t matter if you go on a low fat diet or a low carb diet, both of them will be more or less effective  as long as  you keep your protein intake high (7-9). Remember that!

Hope you enjoyed it.

References

 

  1. E Danforth, Jr, et al. Dietary-induced alterations in thyroid hormone metabolism during overnutrition. J Clin Invest. 1979 November; 64(5): 1336–1347.
  2. Spaulding SW, et al. Effect of caloric restriction and dietary composition of serum T3 and reverse T3 in man. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Jan;42(1):197-200.
  3. Serog P, et al. Effects of slimming and composition of diets on V02 and thyroid hormones in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1982;35(1):24-35.
  4. Anderson KE, et al. Diet-hormone interactions: protein/carbohydrate ratio alters reciprocally the plasma levels of testosterone and cortisol and their respective binding globulins in man. Life Sci. 1987 May 4;40(18):1761-8.
  5. Tsai L, et al. Basal concentrations of anabolic and catabolic hormones in relation to endurance exercise after short-term changes in diet. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1993;66(4):304-8.
  6. Lane AR, Duke JW, Hackney AC. Influence of dietary carbohydrate intake on the free testosterone: cortisol ratio responses to short-term intensive exercise training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Apr;108(6):1125-31.
  7. Hu T, Mills K, Demanelis K, Eloustaz M, Yancy W, Kelly N T, He J, Bazzano L.  Effects of Low carbohydrated diets versys Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 October 1; 176: S44-S54
  8. Loria-Kohen V, Gomez-Candela C, Fernández-Fernández C, Pérez-Torres A, Garcia-Puig J, Bermejo LM. Evaluation of uselfulness of a low calorie diet with or without bread in the treatment of overweight /obesity. Clin Nutr.2012 Aug;31 (4): 455-61.
  9.  Soenen S, Bonomi AG, Lemmens SG, Scholte J, Thisjssen MA, van Berkum F, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Relatively high-protein or ¨low-carb¨energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance. Physiol Behav 2012 Oct 10;107(3):374-80.

 

 

 

 

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