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Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

What are ¨Detox Diets¨ and ¨Toxins¨ ?

I want to try to make this blog as simple as possible so that most people can understand these ¨myths¨ once and for all. Let us start by giving some definitions to these words.

Toxin-  It sounds quite scientific but nobody really knows what the hell it is. All these miracle diets will tell you that they will get rid of those nasty ¨toxins¨ but won´t give you an explanation of what they are or how they will get rid of them. If they had a name, the experts could measure these toxins to see if the miracle diets or the ¨detox diets¨ really work. In fact, in 2009 a network of scientist assembled by the UK charity SENSE about SCIENCE contacted the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to ¨detoxify¨. When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufactures could define what they meant by detoxification, or toxins (1)!!

Detox- Also sounds really fancy and scientific but if we just made clear that we can´t measure these toxins or that they even exist, then how is a detox diet going to work? I mean what are they detoxifying??? In medical terminology, real detoxification refers to treatment for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons (to name a few examples) and the treatment usually occurs in the hospital. And guess what…. doctors can measure all these things.

But the best thing of all, and something that I have been stating all through my blogs, is that our body is the best machine we have and it is ready in case we have to ¨detoxify¨ ourselves, and for this it counts on lots of helpers like:

  • LIVER-  It is incredibly efficient at getting rid of noxious substances. It contains enzymes which convert toxic substances into less harmful ones. These are then dissolved in water and removed in the urine.
  • KIDNEYS- Are fundamental in removing acids and regulating the body pH.
  • COLON- Responsible for removing unwanted solid matter from the body.
  • LUNGS-  The respiratory system is also involved in controlling blood pH. We breathe out all that carbon dioxide we produce.
  • SKIN, DIGESTIVE TRACT, LYMPHATIC SYSTEM…….

So in other words, the body is perfectly capable of ¨detoxifying¨ itself and getting rid of all those nasty ¨toxins¨ (whatever those may be). And if it wasn´t capable of doing that you would be in lots of trouble and probably needed to go to the hospital.

But anyway, some people won´t believe this and will try different diets or different methods (colonic irragation to name one) to try to get rid of those ¨toxins¨. To those people I want to say that, before going out and wasting (I´m sorry, I wanted to say spending) your money on those treatments: try this new method, it involves exercising, eating properly and sleeping well 😉

References:

1. http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/debunking-detox.htm

Does training on a empty stomach burn more fat?

Another typical question I get asked is ¨Does training early in the morning before I have had anything to eat  burn more fat?¨. And the answer to that is ¨ it is complicated¨. You see, when you wake up early in the morning there is a reduction in circulating blood sugar due to the fact that you haven´t had anything to eat during 6 to 8 hours. This causes glycogen (stored carbohydrates) levels to fall. This means technically that your body has to rely more on fat, rather than glucose, for energy. So you do burn more fat calories during that training session but, as I have stated before in different blogs, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is superior for fat loss than steady-state exercise (1-5).  But, have you ever tried doing HIIT with an empty stomach? I bet you didn´t get too far. You see, to perform high intensity exercises, your body needs  glycogen (quick energy). If you haven´t had anything to eat in 6-8 hours your glycogen levels are depleted, meaning you WON´T be able to train at a high intensity.  Also, if you decide to train on a empty stomach you increase the amount of tissue proteins (muscle) burned for energy during exercise (6-7), that is a big NO NO if your aim is to lose fat.

So to clarify things a bit:  if your workout consists of a slow to a brisk walk then yes, you will probably burn more fat calories if you are on a empty stomach but, you should look at the big picture. A slow to fast walk won´t burn too many calories and won´t cause you any post-exercise oxygen consumption (click here), meaning after the training you won´t be burning more calories. HIIT does produce post-exercise oxygen consumption(8) (up to 72 hours) and you need energy for that!! So my recommendations are:

 

Hope you like, until next time

 

 References
  1. Tremblay A, Simoneay JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8.
  2. Stephen H. Boutcher. High_ Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. J Obes. 2011; 2011: 868305.Published online Nov 24, 2010. doi:  10.1155/2011/868305
  3. Smith, A. E., et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6:5, 2009.
  4. Talanian, J. L., et al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology 102(4):1439-1447, 2007.
  5. Tjonna, A. E., et al. Superior cardiovascular effect of interval training versus moderate exercise in patients with metabolic syndrome. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39(5 suppl):S112, 2007.
  6. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the international society of sports nutrition 2013,10:5
  7. Greenhaff PL,  Karagounis LG,  Peirce N,  Simpson EJ,  Hazell M,  Layfield R,  Wackerhage H,  Smith K,  Atherton P,  Selby A,  Rennie MJ: Disassociation between the effects of amino acids and insulin on signaling, ubiquitin   ligases, and protein turnover in human muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2008,  295(3):E595-604.
  8. Treuth, M. S., et al. Effects of exercise intensity on 24-h energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 28(9):1138-1143, 1996.

 

 

onathan P Little, Adeel S Safdar, Geoffrey P Wilkin, Mark a Tarnopolsky, and Martin J Gibala. A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms. The Journal of Physiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.181743

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Carbohydrates- part 1

I´m a big fan of carbs and I usually eat quite a lot of them. From bread to pasta, to rice, I love them. Although lately they have been getting a bad rap and most people when losing weight are trying to take them out. Even though different studies have shown that the most important factor in these types of diets is the percentage of proteins you eat. In other words, 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 if you keep your protein intake high (1-3). But anyway, let´s try to explain carbs in simple way.

Carbs are your body´s preferred and most efficient energy source for intense training. Carbs can be stored in the muscle and in the liver as glycogen. Carbs can be divided into two groups more or less, SIMPLE CARBS AND COMPLEX CARBS:

  • Simple Carbs: consists of a single sugar molecule (monosaccharide) or two molecules linked together (disaccharide)
  1. Monosaccharides: Include fructose, glucose and galactose.
  2. Disaccharide:  Which is formed by a combination of two monosaccharide molecules. So for example sucrose (which is table sugar) is formed by the combination of fructose and glucose. And lactose (dairy sugar) is composed of lactose and glucose.

*Simple  Carbs are digested quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, but they also cause a rapid fall after. Meaning you eat these and after a while you are again hungry! That is why you should be careful with simple carbs, especially if they are not natural. Now this doesn´t mean you shouldn´t be eating fruits. Fruits have a lot of fiber and this cause that the rise in blood sugar to go more slowly and on top of that fruits have a lot of phytochemicals (lots of healthy things ;).

  • Complex Carbs: Also know as polysaccharides. Most complex carbs contain fibre and they provide sustained energy without the highs and lows you get after eating simple carbs. You can divide the complex carbs into two groups.
  1. Starchy Carbs : Which include potatoes, yams, oats, beans, brown rice, lentils, green peas, corn, pumpkin, whole wheat.
  2. Fibrous Carbs: Which include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, onions, peppers, mushroom, aubergine, lettuce .

We should try to eat more fibrous carbs because of the fibre. Like I said before, fibrous foods take more time to chew and swallow and they have a low calorie density!!

So to summarize, carbs are not that bad and we SHOULD be eating them. The only thing to watch out for is make sure these carbs are ¨NATURAL¨ and not processed, and when eating carbs remember the word ¨dark¨, meaning, you should be eating ¨dark¨ bread, ¨dark¨ pasta and ¨dark¨ rice. And if you want to lose weight try to switch from starchy carbs to fibrous carbs!!

Hoped you enjoyed it!!

 

References

  1.  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
  2. 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.
  3.  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.

Fats- What are they and how do we classify them?

We always talk about fats, protein and carbohydrates but a lot of people really don´t know what they are. So, if they don´t know what they are, how are they going to understand what we are talking about? So in my next blogs I will just try to give a brief description of each macronutrient and some vital information that most people should know. Today we will start with FATS.

We should all know that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, this is more than 1 gram of carbohydrates (which contains 4 calories), and 1 gram of proteins (which also contains 4 calories).

Fats can basically be divided into:

  1. Saturated fats (read more here)
  2. Unsaturated fats.

We used to think that saturated fats were really bad for us (and I did 2 blogs on it), but now we know they are not that bad and should be included in our diet once in a while. You can find saturated fats in these foods: butter, cheese, dairy fat, chocolate, egg yolk, meat fat….with the exception of the tropical oils, saturated fats are primarily animal fats. Saturated fats lack the essential fatty acids you need, so you must balance them with the unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats can be divided into:

  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats. These contain the healthy essential fatty acids.

Essential Fatty Acids- are those that your body can´t make on its own, so they must be supplied through your diet. The two primary essential fatty acids are omega 6 and omega 3. The modern Western diet today is very high in omega 6 fatty acids as compared to omega 3- with a ratio of 20-1. The optimal should be 2:1 (click here for more information).

One of the reasons for this imbalance is our increased consumption of refined grains and decreased consumption of omega 3 rich fish. As well as the industrial production of animal feeds containing grains high in omega 6 fatty acids. Since animals are what they eat, their meat becomes high in omega 6, unlike the leaner and higher omega 3 wild game that our ancestors once ate. As we consume high-omega 6 meats and refined grains, we lose the natural balance we once thrived on and begin to suffer from inflammatory and cardiovascular disease that were once unheard of.  Many of the current diseases develop and exist as consequence of chronic inflammation, such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc. (1-4)

FATS TO AVOID: HYDROGENATED AND TRANS-FATTY ACIDS-  We could say these are the ¨processed fats¨. Hydrogenated oils contain large amounts of chemically altered fats know as trans-fatty acids and these are one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat.  You find these fats in food like: MARGARINE, CRACKERS, DOUGHNUTS, PIES, BISCUITS, FRIED FOOD.  Epidemiologic evidence has linked trans fatty acids (TFAs) in the diet to coronary heart disease in human populations. It has been estimated that dietary TFAs from partially hydrogenated oils may be responsible for between 30,000 and 100,000 premature coronary deaths per year in the United States.  (5).

So in conclusion: Saturated Fats are not that bad and once in a while you can eat them. Unsaturated fats are called the ¨healthy fats¨ and again we should be eating them in our diet. On the other hand, we should really try to stay away from the hydrogenated and trans fats!

Hoped you liked it.

 

References

 

  1. Balkwill F, Mantovani A. Inflammation and cancer back to Virchow? Lancert.2001;357:539-45.Ban WA, Man SF, Senthilselvan A, Sinn DD. Association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and systemic inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax 2004;59:574-80.
  2. Fernandez-Real JM, Ricart W. Insulin resitance and chronic cardiovascular inflammatory syndrome. Endo Rev 2003;24:278-301.
  3. Ross R. Atherosclerosis-an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med 1999;340:115-26.
  4. Seaman DR. THe diet-induced proinflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? J Manipulative Physio Ther 2002;25:168-79.
  5. Zaloga GP1, Harvey KA, Stillwell W, Siddiqui R. Trans fatty acids and coronary heart disease. Nutr Clin Pract.2006 Oct;21(5): 505-12

Bread – Does it make you fat?

I will admit it, I love bread and I cannot eat without bread. You give me a plate of pasta and there is no bread and I won´t enjoy it. You give me the best steak in the world with fries and there is no bread and I will be disappointed. I will still eat the steak  and the pasta  but it´s not going to be the same. Bread for me is sacred, it´s one of the best things there is.  And that is why I eat with a fork (spoon)  in one hand and bread in the other and I love it. So when people tell me they are going on a diet and give up on ¨bread¨, I gasp and say two things, ¨you are crazy¨ and ¨how the hell can you get the pasta on your fork without the help of a piece of bread? ¨ 😉

Bread always gets a bad rap and whenever people want to lose weight, the first thing they take out is ¨bread¨. So, I wanted to find out if bread is really that bad and if it´s really the thing that is causing you to gain weight. And luckily they recently did a study on that. The study is called ¨the evaluation of the usefulness of a low-calorie diet with or without bread in the treatment of overweight/obesity¨. So, what they basically did in this study was divide 122 women into 2 groups. One group was called the intervention group (COULD EAT BREAD, N=61) and the other group was called the control group (NO BREAD, N=61). Both groups received a low-calorie diet of 1500 kcal, with a total caloric distribution of 55% carbohydrates, 21% proteins and 24% fat. The BREAD group was given a diet that included bread while the NO BREAD group was given other sources of carbohydrate, such as pasta, rice , potatoes and legumes.  Both groups also received a Nutrition Education Programme and the same physical activity guidelines to be carried out at least three times a week, with 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity. And what they found out is that both groups of women significantly reduced their body weight, waist circumference , BMI and body fat percentage. But the intervention group (BREAD) had a better evolution of dietetic parameters and a GREATER compliance with the diet with fewer dropouts.

So what does all this mean?  Well, that a calorie is  a calorie, and if you are losing weight because you are not eating bread it is because you are consuming fewer calories, not because of the bread in itself. You could do the same thing if you just restricted another food. In fact, according to this study a low-calorie diet with bread is better than a low-calorie diet without bread.  So, in conclusion, do whatever you want but please don´t mess with ¨the bread¨.

References

Kohen-L V, Candela-G C, Fernández-F C, Torres P A, Puig-G J, Bermerjo L. Evaluation of the usefulness of a low-calorie diet with or without bread in the treatment of overweight/obesity.Clin Nutri 2012. Aug,31(4):455-61.

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