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Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Is food addictive part 2?

In our last post we talked about how certain foods can be addictive by producing chemical changes in our brain. We also saw that eating refined fatty meals makes us stop producing Leptin. Leptin is a hormone which signals the body to stop eating, but we also saw that the reverse can also happen. Meaning that if you stop eating the junk food and start eating healthy, the levels of those hormones return to normal, so there is hope. But what is eating healthy?

10,000 years ago, which may sound like a long time but it equals to only 1 percent of human history, most humans lived like hunter-gatherers. Back then we used to eat a lot of meat (this meat, contrary to what we eat now, contained much more protein), fish, fruits, leaves and seeds. We ate more than one hundred species of plant- most rich in vitamins, fiber and other nutrients. Fats and sugar were rare but we developed a craving for them because they contain lots of calories, which was important back then to survive. Thanks to our diet, and because we were always on the move, people were lean but whoever could store fat had an advantage. So we developed a predisposition for carrying fat on our bodies as well as wanting it in our foods. The problem is, back then it was difficult to get too much of these foods, now it´s the complete opposite. So not only do we get ¨addicted¨ to these foods when we eat them, we also have hereditary predisposition for wanting to eat them.

So I guess I´m not saying anything new about what is healthy eating. I think most people know what is healthy and what is un-healthy, the problem is people don´t do it. And now we know some reasons why that is. It´s the same thing with physical activity, most people know they have to move more but they don´t do it. They always use excuses like they don´t have enough time or that something hurts, ironically most of these problems are improved by exercise. Biologically we need exercise, but we don´t have strong instincts to engage in it. Before, physical activity used to occur automatically while trying to catch or find out food, now it´s not like that. Back then no one would just go for a run, that would be wasting precious energy and calories, you needed all the energy and calories you could have. Those extra calories could make the difference between life and death.

This blog just gets worse and worse, not only do we have a hereditary predisposition for wanting to eat foods with lots of calories, but once we eat them we get addicted to them – and to top that off I just said that we don´t have strong instincts to engage in sports!!! No wonder we are loosing against obesity and getting fatter and fatter every day. But there is hope, I have seen it, even done it!! You can fight back …… I won´t tell you what you have to do because I want to keep the secret to myself but I´ll give you a hint: It has to do with eating and moving.

In my next blog, we will continue with the third part of ¨is food addictive¨ by mentioning some interesting facts that most people don´t know. Until next time I leave you with the second part of ¨The men who made us fat¨ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owekbSp7wU0.

Is food addictive?

Today in age people are getting fatter and fatter. Obesity is now a world wide epidemic. In the USA in 1995 two-thirds of Americans were overweight and obesity was killing 300,000 people a year, sickening millions and costing $99 billion annually. 10 years later and the Americans (the studies I have are from Americans but I bet in Europe it is the same thing) were eating 50 percent more fast food meals and five more pounds of sugar a year. US obesity related health costs have risen to $117 billion!!!(1) So what´s wrong? Why do we keep eating and getting fatter? We know it´s bad for us but we still don´t do anything about it. Are we just plain stupid? Or is there something more complicated that we still don´t understand? Can food be addictive……..

 

There is growing evidence that sugary foods can trigger changes in the same brain chemicals affected by addictive drugs. Researchers at Princeton have shown that natural opioids are released when rats eat a large amount of sugar and that they are thrown into a state of anxiety when the sugar is removed. Biologist are also finding that overeating on refined fatty meals triggers similar physiological changes. Leptin is a hormone which signals the body to stop eating after a certain point when consuming natural foods (2). Well, researchers at Albert Einstein Medical College saw that when they fed rats unnaturally fatty meals, the rats would loss all of their ability to respond to leptin. They just kept eating!!! The reverse effect happened when they were taken off the high fat for a while. There was also a study at Rockefeller University that showed that a high fat diet reconfigures the body´s hormonal system to want yet more fat. Galanin, a brain peptide that increases eating and slows energy expenditure, rises in rats on a high fat diet (3). In fact, it only takes 1 high fat meal to stimulate galanin release and the craving for fat. So we are beginning to see that food can actually be addictive, but we can also stop this addiction by eating properly. But what is eating properly? Before I answer this question I want to try to clear some terms that I think are important:

  • Refined: We always hear this word but few people really know what it means. When ¨refining¨ flour, sugar or other foods, it means it is removing the hull and fiber, often even the cell wall of plant structures, leaving only simple carbohydrate or clear oil. Farming refines our food all the time. A recent study of nutrients in food found that, in the second half of the last century (1900-2000), fruits and vegetables suffered significant decreases in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B2 and vitamin C.
  • Insulin: When we eat simple carbohydrates, glucose levels soar in the bloodstream. In the short term, our bodies release INSULIN to store the glucose as fat. Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for type 2 DIABETES, in which blood sugar levels remain elevated, causing damage to our kidneys, eyes and immune system (4).
  • Trans Fats- ¨are produced by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of catalysts and hydrogen. This gives them a different shape from the original oil or the natural saturated fats found in meat. They don´t fit properly with cell membranes or with enzyme designed to digest fats. Trans fats cause a significant drop in HDL (good) cholesterol and a significant increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol, they make the veins and arteries more rigid, they cause major clogging of arteries and they contribute to the risk of death from heart disease. Because trans fats contain abundant calories without providing the beneficial fats found in natural vegetable oil, they lead to overeating with under nutrition. Trans fats now make up much of the fat in CANDY, COMMERCIAL COOKIES and cakes, and the oils in which FAST_FOOD CHAINS FRY FOOD¨  (*Taken from Waistland by Deirdre Barrett pg 34)

 

 

In my next post I will talk about what eating properly is and how we are doing right now the complete opposite. But in the meantime I would love for you guys to take a look at this link. It´s a series BBC did on obesity and it´s called THE MEN WHO MADE US FAT. It consists of 3 parts and each last 55 minutes but it´s very interesting. Here goes the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6nGlLUBkOQ.

 

References

 

Barrett D. Waistland, The (R)Evolutionary Science behind Our Weight and Fitness Crisis.Norton & Company.2007

 

Egan S. Making the Case for Eating Fruit. New York Times. July 2013.

 

Colantuoni C. Evidence that intermittent, excessive sugar intake causes endogenous opioid dependence.Obesity Research 10,6 (2002):478-88.

 

Martindale D. Burgers on the Brain:Can you really get addicted to fast food?, ¨New Scientist, February 1,2003.

 

Wang J. Overfeeding Rapidly Induces Leptin and Insulin Resistance. Diabetes 50(2001):2786-91.

Does eating late make you gain weight?

Most people out there think that eating food quite late or just before going to bed is going to make you gain weight, but that´s really not true. You gain weight because of calories not because of ¨TIME¨. The thing is, that most people have had their share of calories during the day and that extra meal you are going to eat before going to bed is going to add to the already enough calories you have consumed during the whole day. So let me put up an example to clarify things.

Imagine your body consumes or burns 2,000 calories (2.000 in Europe) a day. This means that if you  eat  more than 2,000 calories a day you will probably gain weight and if you eat less than 2,000 calories you will lose weight. So now imagine you have not been eating anything during the whole day and just before going to bed you decide to have a burger, with bacon , fries and everything you can imagine. If that meal you are going to eat has 1,500 calories, you are still going to lose weight because you still have a 500 calorie deficit when you go bed. Now this doesn´t mean I recommend that you have a heavy meal before going to bed, and i usually never recommend this to my clients. But I want people to understand that CALORIES make you gain weight not time.

Now once this is clarified I do want to state that the body has a biological clock that helps time our sleep patterns, alertness, mood, physical strength and blood pressure. Usually we experience a 24-hour pattern of light and dark, and our clock uses this signal to align biological time to the day and night. What this means is that under normal conditions our blood pressure decreases, body temperature drops and we get tired, meaning our metabolism slows down. Which is one of the reasons why I don´t recommend eating heavy before going to bed.

So in conclusion: CALORIES make you gain weight not time, but eating heavy meals at night is usually not a good idea.

I have done 3 blogs about diet, so now I will change topics and start talking about sports, in particular about cardio training. So until next time.

Metabolism – The myth behind slow and fast metabolism

You always hear people say that they are fat because they have a slow metabolism or that they are skinny because they have a fast metabolism, but research has shown that to be false, unless you have a problem with the thyroid gland or some other medical disorder, which very few people have. Most of the time the person that is overweight is so because either he is eating too much or moving too little and the person that is skinny is so because either he is eating too little or moving too much.

First let´s clear up a couple of confusing terms:

  • Metabolism – is the name for the process your body uses to convert the food you eat into energy.
  • Basal Metabolic Rate – is the energy your body burns when you are not ACTIVE. Basal Metabolic Rate is determined by how much weight and muscle your body has. Muscle burns more calories than fat, approximately in between 6-10 calories per pound (25 calories per kilo), and fat burns around 2 calories per pound. This is also very interesting because people always think (I was one of them) that muscle burns many more calories, but it actually only burns 4 to 6 calories more!! That´s nothing!
  • Basal Metabolic Rate plus the energy required for physical activity make up our TOTAL ENERGY EXPENDITURE. Your total energy needs depend on how active you are.

Often, overweight people believe they eat very little and still put on weight, hence the ‘slow metabolism’ theory, but research has shown people tend to eat more than they think. Also, a very interesting fact is that overweight people usually use more energy to keep their bodies working because they need more energy to keep the blood flowing around their body, meaning their Basal Metabolic Rate is actually higher than skinnier people.

So analyzing all this information, it´s safe to say that people that are overweight are usally so because they are eating more than they are supposed to and moving less than they should, it´s that simple.

Here is a link that BBC did on this Myth. It´s a two part presentation each lasting 9 minutes long. I highly recommend that you all take a look at it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt-qKTaEMIQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTx-D5NJ_kU

My next blog will talk about eating late. People always think that eating something heavy for dinner will make you fat. But is this is really true? We will see that next week, until then, enjoy the weekend!

Diet-Metabolism

Each week I will talk about one of three main topics that this blog is about, meaning sports, pain or diet. So I have decided that this week I will talk a little about diet since there are so many myths and questions about it.

Let´s start with some basic stuff everyone should know about:

1 gram of fat contains = 9 calories

1 gram of  protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories

1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories (empty calories)

1 pound of fat contains around 3,500 calories, for my European friends 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds, so that means that one kilo of fat is more or less 7,700 calories.

An active man burns about 2,800 calories per day naturally, followed by active women  and sedentary men at 2,200 calories and sedentary women and older adults at  1,600 calories.

Given all this information we can see that loosing ¨FAT¨ is quite hard because it contains a lot of calories. So when you hear or read about these miracle diets that say ¨lose up to 8 pounds (3,6 kilos) in one week¨ or some other promise, you have to be careful because losing weight and losing fat is not the same thing. A lot of these diets cause you to lose weight because of water loss or protein (muscle) breakdown, not just because of fat. Remember ,1 pound of fat has 3,500 calories, so if you wanted to lose 8 pounds of fat in one week that would mean that you would have to burn 28,000 calories!! That´s 4,000 calories a day!! It´s almost impossible, unless you are running a marathon every day. So remember people, there are not such things as miracle diets and if you want to lose weight the ideal would be to lose around 1-2 pounds a week.

My next post will be about the metabolic rate. You always hear people saying ¨well I´m fat because I have a slow metabolism¨ or ¨I´m skinny because I have a fast metabolism¨, but does that really exist? I will talk about it in my next post.

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