Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Protein: When and How Much

Protein is always a hot topic. Carbs and fat have both been on the chopping block in our diets at different times. Protein, however, has been connected to everything from weight loss to muscle gains. Perhaps there is something to this. Researchers have been investigating protein's role in aging and satiety across the lifespan. They have found that we're eating too much protein at the wrong times and not enough at the right times. We need more high-quality protein at breakfast and less protein at dinner.

How Much Protein?
Nutritional recommendations have long recommended that 10-15% of our daily calories be from protein. However, recent research suggests that the minimum should be boosted to 25%, given the positive benefits of higher protein intake on satiety (fullness) and other physiologic functions. If you've been logging your food, you'll remember how I recommended the macronutrient percentage adjustment of 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.

Protein Intake and Timing
Most Western diets skew protein consumption toward the evening meal. Breakfast is typically carbohydrate-rich and protein-poor, while the evening meal is often much higher in protein and calories. Also of importance is that only 40% of Americans even eat breakfast. Thus, not only are many Americans consuming low-protein breakfasts, but the majority are not consuming any protein at all. There is increasing evidence of a causal link between breakfast skipping and obesity. Research shows that it is best to distribute protein intake throughout the day. This will promote muscle growth and repair, as well as satiety and reduced calorie intake throughout the day.

Boosting the Protein in 8 Basic Breakfasts
Bowl of cereal with milk: choose a high protein cereal
Egg and cheese on a roll: choose a (small) breakfast burrito with beans
Butter and jelly on toast: swap butter for peanut or almond butter
Yogurt: choose a higher protein Greek yogurt and sprinkle fruit and a high protein cereal on top
Oatmeal with water: swap water for milk and sprinkle on some chopped nuts
Smoothie with milk or yogurt: swap the milk or yogurt for kefir, a cultured probiotic
Homemade muffin: try baking a high protein muffin and spread some peanut butter on top
Banana: add a side of cottage cheese to feel full until lunchtime

Read the Full Articles:
Tapping the Power of Protein
High Protein Breakfast Ideas

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Real Reason you Should Warm Up

Too often, you may find yourself pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so you skip the warm-up figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway.
Is a warm-up really necessary? What constitutes a "good" warm-up?

Enhanced Performance
A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury. Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental.
Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.
Along with more blood flow comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.
An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.

Injury Prevention
Scientific studies on linking warming up with injury prevention are difficult to administer. Few athletes want to go through a muscle stress test to see what it takes to tear a muscle.
Old studies on animal subjects determined that injuring a muscle that has gone through a warm-up process required more force and more muscle length than a muscle with no warm-up. This study is in line with the anecdotal data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.

Mental Preparation
Part of a warm-up process includes getting your head ready for the upcoming activity. Mentally preparing for the upcoming workout, or event, is thought to improve technique, skill and coordination.
This mental warm-up also prepares you for the discomfort of a tough workout or race. If the mind is ready to endure discomfort, the body can produce a better performance. If the mind is unwilling to endure discomfort, physical performance will certainly be limited.

How Much Should I Warm Up?
There is no hard evidence as to how much warm-up is needed before a workout or a race. Most recommendations are in the 10- to 20-minute range.
A general recommendation for warming up is that it should be specific to the activity you're about to perform. This is easy for running, swimming, or biking; simply start at a lower intensity and gradually increase intensity as you progress through the warm up period.
For more complex exercise, like strength training, a dynamic warm-up of gradually increasing intensity and complexity of exercises is best. You'll be taking your muscles through the range of motion to come in the workout as well as preventing injuries by stretching muscles that are usually too tight, and activating muscles that are usually underused.

In order to perform at your best and minimise the risk of hurting yourself, take time for an adequate warm-up. Below is my Dynamic Warm-Up, which is best to do before a strength training workout.
Dynamic Warm Up
Walking down and back 10 yds
Knee pull to chest
Walking lunges with rotation, then Backwards with an Overhead reach
Side Step
Cross-over side step
Side Lunge
Single leg reach In place
Prone Hip opener/chest opener

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mental Health and Exercise

Want to alleviate stress or cope with depression? Exercise may help. Increasingly, there is evidence from researchers that certain levels of physical activity can positively affect mental health. Let's take a look at what research has discovered about the connection between exercise and mental health.

A growing body of research over the last 10 years shows that physical activity and exercise also improve psychological well-being. Published data show that people with higher levels of fitness are capable of managing stress more effectively than those who are less fit. It appears that cardiovascular exercise is the method that most benefits stress reduction. The research indicates that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, performed three times a week (sessions lasting over 20 minutes) for up to 12 weeks, has the most influence on stress management.

The antidepressant action is one of the most commonly accepted psychological benefits of exercise. Patients diagnosed with depression have credited exercise as being an important element in comprehensive treatment programs for depression. Cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective in producing antidepressive effects. It also appears that both a one-time exercise session and chronic exercise training programs have a positive effect on people with clinical depression. The effects of exercise on depression seem the same for men and women.

The results of over 30 published papers show a link between acute and chronic exercise and the reduction of anxiety. There appears to be much debate about whether low-intensity, moderate-intensity or high-intensity aerobic exercise is most beneficial. (If you’re not sure at what intensity you should exercise, consult with a personal trainer.) It appears that even short bursts of 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercise stimulate anti-anxiety effects. The research also indicates that people who train for periods of 10–15 weeks receive the greatest beneficial effects.

Get in a Better Mood
It appears that cardiovascular and resistance exercise can positively affect various mood states, including tension, fatigue, anger and vigor (a psychological variable defining vitality or energy) in normal and clinical populations. Plus, it has been shown that even a single session of 25–60 minutes of aerobic exercise (at low, moderate or high intensities) increases positive mood feelings while also decreasing negative mood feelings. Researchers need to further research resistance training to learn more about the connection between it and mood state.

Full Article and References

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

US News Ranks Top US Diets

US News evaluated 38 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals.

Best Diets Overall:
1. DASH Diet: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), was originally developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure. This diet promotes the foods we've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy), while shunning those we've grown to love, (calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat). This healthy eating pattern is key to deflating high blood pressure and may also promote weight loss. The DASH diet is also ranked #1 for Diabetes and Heart Healthy Diets.

2. Mediterranean Diet: It has generally been accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts, and other healthful foods. The diet claims to promote weight loss, then maintenance, and to promote heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control.

3. MIND Diet: The MIND diet is a new hybrid of two balanced, heart-healthy diets (DASH and Mediterranean) that may lower your risk of mental decline. The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, huts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Check out the full results

Have you tried any of these dietary approaches? What has been your experience with them? I hope your new year has had a great start. Please contact me if you'd like any more information.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Boomers are Fitter Than Ever

People are considered to be in their "prime" during their 20s, and they often accept that their physical fitness and health are meant to decline as they age. Contrary to this belief, a recent report says that many people aged 50 and older feel healthier than ever. The research found that 17% of the 1,500 respondents "over 50" believe they are more fit now than they were in their 20s. More than half believe they look younger than their age. This group also says that they eat more fruit and vegetables than they did in their earlier years. The study was conducted by Engage Mutual, a financial institution in the United Kingdom.
"This study challenges many of the preconceptions around aging and is good news when we consider that in light of increased life expectancy, many more of us will be spending a larger portion of our life 'over 50,'" says Engage Mutual's spokeswoman Louise Withy.

Do you feel you may fit into this group? As the year draws to a close, recognize your past year fitness successes! Making New Year's "resolutions" can be as simple as some small positive changes you can incorporate into your life next year. Contact me if you'd like any assistance and please pass along my information if you know someone who might.

What type of Exercise helps most with Sleep

While you may know that that physical activity improves sleep quantity and quality, new research indicates that the choice of activity plays a role. Studies have found that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep are at greater risk for poor heath and functioning and that physical activity is associated with healthy sleep. Researchers recently teased out the differences between specific types of activity and sleep quality.

The investigators used data on sleep and activity from 429,110 adults from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Surveillance System, a survey collected every year by the CDC. The respondents gave information on amount of sleep and types of physical activities they engaged in.

Data analysis showed that while walking was beneficial, activities like aerobics/calisthenics, bicycling, running, weightlifting, and yoga were even more likely to be associated with healthy sleep.
"Not only does this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are likely to have better sleep habits, but these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf."

"Sleep, fitness, and diet are the three pillars of health. When any one of them is out of balance with the other, the body is not able to do what it needs to do to maintain optimal functioning. That also means that these three pillars all support each other."

How has increasing your physical activity levels affected your sleep? Can you or your loved ones relate to the findings of this investigation?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New Nutrition Facts Label Coming Soon!

On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. FDA published the final rules in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016. Food manufacturers will be required to comply with the new food labeling by July 26, 2018.
Highlights of the Final Nutrition Facts Label

1. Features a Refreshed Design
  • The type size will be larger for Calories, Servings per container and Serving size, and the number of calories will be in bold. 
  • Manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. 
2. Reflects Updated Information about Nutrition Science
  • “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will be included on the label. Scientific data has shown an increasing link between added sugar and heart disease.
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” is being removed.
3. Updates Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes
  • By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating.
  • The servings sizes listed on most products will increase to more accurately reflect how much people are eating in one serving. This will help consumers avoid confusion when eating what they expected was one serving, but was actually 2.
Will these new labeling rules make you more or less likely to read nutrition labels? How will it influence your choices? If you'd like any further help understanding the nutrition label, please view the infographics below, consult the FDA website, and ask me for help or advice.