Monday, August 12, 2019

Protein and Vegetables

I'd like to share a quick, easy, and healthy recipe!
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Start with whatever vegetables you have, cut them up and put them into a casserole dish. I used broccoli, red potatoes, and onions. I find that if they're still wet from washing, it adds to the steaminess.
  3. Drizzle some oil, and swirl them around to keep from sticking to the pan. I usually use an avocado oil, or if I'm feeling festive, olive oil with rosemary.
  4. Throw the meat on top. Here I used salmon fillets as an example, but make sure you take them out of the plastic wrap first. I made the veggies to pair with other leftover meat, so didn't end up roasting the salmon. Most meats or meat alternatives would probably work in this recipe.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until you can start to smell it, check and decide how well you want it done. Depending on the size of the veggie bits, and the type of meat, this is usually between 20 and 30 minutes for me and my oven.
  6. The above example usually means 4 meals for me, so have some tupperwares on hand for leftovers and remember to reuse or recycle the aluminum foil.
What are some of your favorite easy, healthy recipes?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Local Food Regulations: Good or Bad?

Like them or hate them, soda taxes are proving effective at curbing intake of sugary drinks. After the city of Berkeley, California, implemented a penny-per-ounce soda tax in 2014, consumption of sweetened drinks, including soda and energy drinks, plummeted by 21% in lower income neighborhoods. Three years later, city-polled residents reported drinking 52% fewer of these beverages than they did before the tax passed. On the flipside, water consumption rose by an average of 29% over the 3-year period.

In another example of nutrition policy, New York City enacted a much-publicized ban on trans fats in restaurants in 2006. A separate study has now shown that the policy had definitively positive health benefits by causing trans-fatty-acid levels in the blood of New York City residents to fall by slightly more than half in the years after the ban and before a nationwide cutoff came into effect in 2018. Notably, people who ate out more often saw more impressive results, with blood lipid levels dropping by about 62%.

Do you favor government regulations that aim to improve the diets and health of Americans? Do you consider such policies signs of a nanny state and think we should focus on self-regulation of dietary habits? Are there more effective ways than levying taxes and banning certain ingredients to improve what people eat and drink?

Objectively, I feel more comfortable with policies such as the soda tax than I do an with a ban, although I agree that both are beneficial. However, the research against trans fats has been so overwhelming that trans fats have been banned in all US food products since 2018. In this case, I fully agree with it.

Friday, June 21, 2019

New BOSU Balance Trainers!

You may have noticed that we have recently received the newest generation of BOSU trainers at Fit Carmel Mountain. With this purchase, Fit Downtown hosted a BOSU continuing education class for the training staff this past weekend. The new BOSU balance trainers look a little different, but are essentially the same. The BOSU® NexGen™ Balance Trainer features a textured dome surface that significantly increases the functionality. The quadrants and channels help with hand and foot positioning as well as cueing. We learned several different exercise progressions and regressions as well as how to modify the exercise by using tempo, complexity, balance, range, and volume. The biggest surprise for me was that stepping onto the BOSU and doing lower body exercises with the round side up (as pictured below) was more challenging than with the flat side up.

Please speak with me if you'd like a refresher on BOSU exercises to incorporate into your workouts. These balance trainers have been in fitness centers for a long time and yet, I had forgotten many of the exercise possibilities.

I'd also like to remind you of the June Monthly Fitness Challenge! Complete as many Squats to a Box in 2mins as you can. This is with a barbell placed on your back weighing 50% of body weight for women and 70% of body weight for men. Prizes are a free month of membership or a free personal training session. Make sure you have me or another employee witness!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Exercise Snacks"

I've long heard that exercising before a big meal is beneficial because of the metabolic boost we get from exercise. This has now been shown to have added benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, and those with insulin resistance. While a 30-minute workout before each and every meal is daunting, "exercise snacking" takes a lot less time. An exercise snack is a short, intense bout of exercise, shortly before a meal, that can quickly add glucose-storage capacity in muscle tissue and increase insulin response.

How does it work? The "snack" primes muscle tissue to the effect of insulin. A research paper from 2014 looked into the effects of six 1-minute bouts of incline walking a half-hour before each meal. The study found that brief, intense "exercise snacks" before main meals are a time-efficient and effective approach to improving glycemic control for people with insulin resistance. Researchers also found that these short bouts were as efficient as 30 minutes of activity at a moderate intensity.

These 6 x 1 minute bouts of intense exercise can be performed in 10 minutes (including rest). The greatest benefit came from doing this before every meal. Since I don't have a treadmill at home, my "exercise snack" would be 6 x 1 minute of high knees, before dinner. What would be an appropriate exercise snack for you and how could you implement it into your day

Full Article

Nutrition Hacks

By now, we know that restrictive meal plans can be difficult to maintain long term. The key to losing weight is to reframe the diet mentality toward healthful living and better nutrition. Here are some tips:

Use the Hunger Scale for More Intuitive Eating
You may have heard about intuitive eating from one of my earlier emails. Intuitive eating means consuming when hungry, stopping when full and not restricting certain types of food. The goal is to stay in the middle of the scale, starting to eat at 3-4 and stopping at 5-6. Routinely overeating to extreme measures makes it more difficult to recognize feelings of fullness in the future.

Make Sure the Calories are "Worth It"
Do you really love dessert? Then we can work together to devise a plan to eat dessert while maintaining a healthy eating plan overall. Before eating a not-so-healthy food, ask yourself, "Is this worth it?" You may decide you don't enjoy eating the food, so the calories are not worth it. This tip is especially useful at holidays and parties.

Don't Drink Your Calories
Beverages are problematic because they do not produce the fullness feeling we get from food that requires chewing. Keep in mind that milkshakes, sodas, and Frappucinos aren't the only sugar-rich offenders. Many smoothies, juices, teas, protein drinks and kombucha beverages may seem healthy, but upon closer inspection, prove to be calorie-dense and full of added sugar.

Eat What you Love, but Add more Vegetables and Fruits
Fruits and vegetables are the real "superfoods". A way to increase your consumption is to chop after you shop. After grocery shopping, spend 15 minutes prepping your veggies and fruits, or buy pre-chopped produce. And don't forget that frozen fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen almost immediately after harvest, which locks in nutrients, keeps them from degrading, and require no prep before heating. 

Flip the Ingredients
Rethink the proportions of the foods you eat instead of giving up foods altogether:
  • Instead of eating ice cream topped with a spoonful of fruit, eat a bowl of fruit topped with a spoonful of ice cream.
  • Rather than filling a dinner plate with steak and potatoes and a side of spinach, eat a large spinach salad with sliced steak and potato chunks.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Fiber May Help Improve Depression

Lifting a your spirits might be as easy as adding more beans and other fiber-rich foods to your plate. A 2018 study found that people who reported eating the most fiber overall (including from cereal grains, vegetables, and fruits) had fewer depressive symptoms. The data came from 16,807 American adults enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The study suggests that consuming at least 21 grams of fiber daily is the magic mark for reducing depression risk, Americans typically eat only about 15-18g. This mood-boosting benefit could come from fiber-rich foods providing an arsenal of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that improve brain function. Dietary fiber can also improve microorganisms in our gut, and a growing body of research suggests that this gut biome may play a role in brain health.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Moderate-Intensity Exercise Boosts Calorie Burning for an Entire Day

Exciting news that may give you a convincing reason to do a moderate-intensity workout on days when you're tempted to skip! Previous research had only shown high intensity exercise to increase resting energy expenditure post-exercise. A 2017 study has shown that energy expenditure increased for at least 22 hours after bouts of moderate-intensity (50% peak) exercise, leading to an additional 64 (+/-119) calories burned per day. Resting energy expenditure increased 103 (+/-137) calories per day for high-intensity exercise (84% peak). This doesn't include the contribution of calories burned during the actual exercise.

The study authors had adjusted caloric intake to achieve energy balance; they believe this design difference isolated the exercise's specific effects on energy expenditure. Potential mechanisms underlying the extra calorie burning include increases in fight-or-flight system stimulation and muscle damage repair following exercise.

Full Article

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Full Fat Dairy Makes a Comeback

An ever-expanding pile of research papers is challenging the idea that we need to avoid full-fat varieties of dairy products like yogurt and milk. There may be no need to settle for fat-free versions that could be less satisfying: For instance, a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving more that 2,900 US seniors aged 65 and above found that whole-fat dairy consumption appears to do little harm when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

Scientists came to this conclusion by measuring blood levels of three fatty acids found in dairy products--including trans-palmitoleic acids related to heart disease and all-cause mortality--at the beginning of the study period in 1992 and then again at years 6 and 13. Not only were none of the fats sourced from dairy significantly associated with death, but one type (heptadecanoic fatty acid) was linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease mortality.

This drives home the point that higher-fat foods like cheese need not be banished from our diets as long as we practice some degree of portion control. There are no guidelines stating that we should have no saturated fat in our diets. We just need to cap it at a certain level (the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that saturated fats account for less that 10% of total daily calories). This research should give pause to people replacing plain, whole-fat yogurt with a flavored, fat-free type--that may be loaded with added sugars--to avoid high fat content.

As a Bulgarian, plain full-fat yogurt is a regular part of my diet. I like to mix it up with a little oatmeal and walnuts for breakfast. How do you like to consume your dairy?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Freezing, Pulsing, and Floating

While regular exercise and healthy eating are the most important things we can do to stay healthy, therapeutic treatments that can also be helpful. You have likely heard of acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy. They have received greater validation in recent years and are sometimes even covered by medical insurance. Some newer treatments have come on the horizon lately, and I've been lucky to give them a try. Here's what I thought:

Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities through exposure to extreme cold. While originally developed as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritics, it has recently gained popularity among professional athletes and celebrities. I tried cryotherapy twice with GoCryo, a mobile van which comes to Fit periodically. To prepare, I changed into a bathrobe and put on gloves and socks, all of which they provide. Then I stepped into a shower stall shaped freezer for 3 minutes while it got down to below freezing temperatures. It was very cold and while I did feel greater energy the rest of the day, I unfortunately did not notice much improvement in alleviating my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, perhaps I would see better results with more regular "freezing," as others have. GoCryo offers Fit members a 20% discount.

PEMF: Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
This process involves directing strong, pulsed energy waves toward damaged or injured areas of your body. The electromagnetic pulse stimulates cellular equilibrium/recharge, and greater circulation. Each pulse creates micro-tears at weak points at cellular levels which stimulate natural healing and strengthening. The resulting effects can include faster healing, decreased inflammation, pain relief, greater range of motion, etc. After my second 1hr treatment at Bio-tique in Poway, I noticed less pain and swelling in my joints. I now go once or twice a week and spend 30 minutes getting the "whole-body" electromagnetic treatment (as pictured below) and then another 30 minutes just focusing on the swollen joints in my hands. Bio-tique also offers infrared sauna and genetic testing. Fit members receive a 20% discount, but you can get your first treatment for free if you mention my name.

Float Therapy
Floating is an experience of total relaxation in your own personal, weightless environment where all five of your senses are free from external stimuli.
This is achieved by soaking in the purified mineral rich Epsom Salt water, breathing the highly filtered air of the ‘float’ environment, and removing all external stimuli that stress the mind. I tried this out at flot in downtown San Diego. After checking in, I showered and entered the sensory deprivation tank, where I floated for the next hour. I don't have much experience with meditation, and perhaps this is why I didn't enjoy the floating experience that much. I felt restless and ended up with stiffer joints than when I went in. However, if meditation and contemplation is your thing, you'd probably enjoy it. flot gives Fit members 25% off.

Have you tried out any of these therapeutic modalities or any others? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Portion Size Distortion

Ballooning portion sizes are considered a major player in the startling rise in obesity rates in recent decades, but current research points to evidence that we can turn this around.

A study in the April edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that exposure to smaller portions can recalibrate people's perception of how much is enough. In the first of the experiments, volunteers randomly ate either larger (440 calorie) or smaller (220 calorie) portions of the same quiche-and-salad meal. In the second experiment, a day later, volunteers could eat as much of that same food as they pleased. A week later, they were asked about their portion size preferences.

The scientists found that eating a smaller portion of food during the first experiment led to people consuming less of the food the next day. They also showed a tendency to feel satisfied with smaller portions a week later. The findings suggest that reducing portion sizes for packages and restaurant food could lead us to consider these new sizes "normal" and, in turn, help put the brakes on excess consumption.

Do you find that your portion sizes increase over the winter in response to some larger holiday dinners?