Exercise Causes Weight Gain

Health on August 24th, 2010 No Comments

This is a topic that I have seen in several new research articles.  While it is indeed true, I have seen this research used irresponsibly.  I have seen authors utilize this research to encourage people to stop exercising.  These authors are simply promoting themselves at the expense of the public.  Authors such as these simply look to tell the public what they want to hear in order to increase their popularity.

The fact is exercise can cause weight gain.  The first reason is because when you exercise you put muscle on your body.  Muscle is approximately 80% water. It is a very heavy tissue.  To give you an idea, 1 gallon of water weighs approximately 8 pounds. Having muscle on your body will definitely cause the scale to point to an increase in overall weight.  This, however, is good weight.  1 pound of muscle burns 35 calories a day, at rest.  This promotes a faster metabolism and will allow you to eat more without gaining weight. Gaining weight ,in the form of fat, is almost always bad (unless you're anorexic).

The second reason that people show an increase in weight with exercise is due to improper education.  Many people, when they start an exercise program, mistakenly think that they are burning an amazing amount of calories during the exercise session. They then think that they can eat more food without gaining weight.  This is simply untrue.  The average exerciser in the gym is probably burning no more than 500 calories per hour.  While this is a good amount of exercise, it is not sufficient to allow you to consume any food you like.  Consider that the average candy bar is probably going to give you about 400 to 500 calories. This means that just one simple candy bar during the day and you've eradicated your entire exercise caloric expenditure.  Worse yet, you may go to lunch and have a burger, fries and a soda. This will not only eliminate the caloric expenditure you amassed during exercise but will exceed it and probably cause you to gain weight.

It is of paramount importance to understand that the average female burns 1800 to 2000 calories per day. The average male burns 2200 to 2400 calories per day.  When you exercise, this will increase your daily caloric expenditure but this does not give you carte blanche to eat any food you would like. The bottom line is that when your caloric intake exceeds your caloric expenditure you will get fat.

Overall, exercise alone will never cause you to get fat.  Overeating will.  If you take a sample of people and divide them into two groups: one an exercise group and one a non-exercising group.  Give them the same amount of food to eat.  I will guarantee you that the group that is exercising will lose more weight and/or body fat than the group not exercising.


Exercise Fights Cancer

Health on August 19th, 2010 No Comments

There is an amazing amount of research that shows exercise can significantly improve your chances for not only surviving cancer but also for preventing its occurrence.  In a recent study of 933 breast cancer patients, it was found that moderately intensive exercise reduced the risk for death by 67%.  Other studies researching breast cancer, show that exercise reduces the risk for breast cancer mortality by 40 to 55%.  These numbers show that exercise is as effective as standard treatment options in fighting cancer.

In another study, conducted in Finland, researchers showed that men who exercised at least 30 minutes per day at moderate to high intensity levels were 50% less likely to die prematurely from cancer (mainly gastrointestinal and lung cancer).

Not only does exercise greatly improve your chances of surviving cancer but exercise also helps patients suffering during cancer treatments.  Research has been done that shows exercise programs started while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments can greatly help reduce fatigue and nausea.

Further research studying pain in head and neck cancer survivors has shown that exercise, specifically weight training, can be a significant help in reducing extremity pain and dysfunction.

If you, or someone you know, has cancer please pass on this information regarding exercise.  This information may help save their lives.  If you are not currently exercising, hopefully this information will help provide the motivation.


Eat Like Crazy and Lose Weight

Health on August 10th, 2010 No Comments

Do you realize that you can eat as much as you would like, of whatever type of food you choose, and still lose weight? The key is to engage in this behavior only one time per week.  Studies have shown that one "free day" per week will actually assist you in losing more weight than if you maintain a strict diet seven days a week.

How can this be true?  The reason that free day can help you to lose weight is that it helps keep your metabolism running fast.  When you diet, you are eating fewer calories than your body requires.  Let's say that you're an average person.  As an average person you will burn 2000 calories per day.  If you're trying to lose weight, you should restrict your caloric intake to approximately 1200 calories per day.  This way, every day, you burn 800 calories more than you consume.  Your body, however, sees this as a potential problem.  Your body looks to the future and sees that if you continue to run at an 800 calorie per day deficit, eventually you will run out of fuel and die.  The survival instinct for your body is incredibly high and the body will take whatever steps necessary to avoid death.  After a few weeks on a 1200 calorie per day diet, your body will try to slow the metabolism down from the original 2000 calories per day down closer to the 1200 calories (this will result in a dieting plateau).

Obviously, if you are eating 1200 calories per day and your are only burning 1200 calories per day, you are not going to be very successful with your weight loss.  Having a free day, one time per week, gives your body a tremendous boost of calories.  This boost lets the body know that it's not starving after all and that it is not necessary to adjust the metabolism downward.

Another advantage to free day is that when your body receives a large amount of food, over a short course of time, it will not be able to process all the calories. Much of the food will simply pass through the digestive system.

From a psychological perspective, free day is critical.  If you know that one time per week, you can eat whatever food you would like, you are far more likely to be successful on your diet.  If, however, you tell yourself that you can not have any of your favorite foods while dieting, it is human nature that you will fixate on what you cannot have (until you get it) and this will result in dieting failure.

One time per week, do not feel guilty. Eat whatever you would like.  Just make sure that on the other six days of the week you are strictly adhering to your dieting plan.


How to Eat Less and Still Be Satisfied

Health on August 3rd, 2010 No Comments

You want to lose weight.  You're trying to eat less but you simply can't seem to push away from the table soon enough. Or perhaps your problem is that you simply can't say no to that afternoon treat.  Whatever your weakness, this next piece of advice should help you to have an easier time in pursuing your weight loss goals.

The secret is to keep your blood nutrient/sugar levels more even.  Your drive to consume food is initiated in your brain, not your stomach.  When the brain perceives that blood sugar is low, it will trigger a hunger response.  As your body is highly intuitive, it will usually trigger a drive to consume food that will raise the blood sugar as quickly as possible.  What kind of foods do you suppose will do this the quickest?  The answer, of course, are foods high in simple sugar.  Foods like sodas, candy, cookies, etc. As these are also foods that are high in calories, your odds of gaining weight with frequent indulgence in these foods will likely result in weight gain.

So how can I keep my blood sugar more level?  The answer is to eat frequent, small meals.  This will provide your body with a steady stream of nutrients that will help keep your blood levels more stable and prevent your body from triggering a hunger response. By eatting six meals per day, you will find your ability to eat fewer calories, and not be ravenous, will be significantly improved.

Another strategy that will help you to consume fewer calories is to eat slower.  Once again, it is not your stomach that registers satiety.  It is your blood levels.  Your brain will continue to tell you that you're still hungry and that you need to eat more food until your digestive tract has processed enough nutrients into the bloodstream.  Once the nutrients enter the bloodstream, the brain will register that food has entered the system and that the drive to consume food can be lessened. If you consume food too quickly, you will consistently over eat.   You will keep piling calories into your stomach until the brain shuts off the hunger drive. The faster you eat, the more calories you will consume.

Here are some tips to help you consume fewer calories and eat slower: take small bites, chew your food well, rest between bites, and never go for seconds until at least 10 to 15 minutes has elapsed.  You will be amazed at how much less you can eat and still feel satisfied if you follow these simple tips.


Lose Weight Without Dieting

Health on July 27th, 2010 No Comments

I know that this eye-catching headline has been overused but many people are actually capable of achieving weight loss without "dieting". How is that possible?  The answer is simple.  Stop eating fast food, processed food and restaurant food.  You do not need to skip meals. You simply need to avoid restaurant prepared and processed meals/food. Once a week is okay for a splurge but as a daily habit these foods are a recipe for disaster for your waistline.

If you've not yet seen the nutritional information at your typical fast food restaurant, you're in for a shocker.  Did you realize that a simple bean burrito at Del Taco or Taco Bell has about 400 calories?  If you're like most people, however, the small bean burrito is not what you order.  Instead, most go for the macho or other such burrito selection.  Did you know that these have as much as 1100 calories?

Most people know that burgers are high in calories.  And indeed they are.  Your smaller burgers will typically run 600 calories a sandwich.  Your larger six dollar and sirloin burger varieties will jump you up to a whopping 1100 calories.  Add in a large fry at 600 plus calories and a 20 ounce sodas at 250 calories and in one meal you've eaten the daily caloric requirement of most people (any calories above approximately 2000 per day will be deposited as fat for the average person).

That's okay I usually just get the salad.  Once again you will be stunned to learn that you're doing equally poorly in the calorie category.  For example, the Jack-in-the-Box chicken club sandwich, without dressing, is 517 calories.  If you were to use all the dressing, you would easily be up to over 800 calories.

As most people eat out far more than one time per week it's easy to see why the general population is gaining weight.  Your simple avoidance of dine out food, processed foods and sodas will more often than not result in a tremendous improvement on the scale.


Portion Control is Key

Health on July 20th, 2010 No Comments

It is not what you are putting in your body that is making you fat. It is, instead, how much you are putting in your body that is causing your weight to increase. I frequently tell patients that they can gain weight on an all vegetable diet and that they can lose weight on an all candy diet.  A calorie is a calorie.  In regard to weight loss, the body does not care about the source of the calories.  A calorie, by definition, is the amount of energy contained in a food. If you consume more energy than you are expending, your body will then take the excess energy and store it (as fat) for the future. The only difference between a dieting strategy of eating all vegetables or all candy is simply a matter of malnutrition (not to mention that you probably will not feel very good eating only candy).

Your body has a certain amount of calories that it burns every day  for basic needs.  For women, this is approximately 1800 calories per day.  For men, this figure is about 2200 calories per day.  If you consume fewer calories than these in any given day, your body will have to break down stored energy (fat) for fuel.  When trying to lose weight, you should not feel as though you cannot consume your favorite foods.  You simply need to make sure that you consume your desired foods in moderate quantities keeping in mind their caloric value. I can guarantee you that if you eat no more than 1200 calories per day, you will loose weight.


Why Eats Six Meals Per Day

Health on July 5th, 2010 No Comments

Eat six meals per day.  This is something that most people have probably heard at some point in their lives.  Most people, however, have little idea was to why they're supposed to eat six meals per day. Many are also concerned that the strategy will lead to increased weight gain.  (If done without a plan, this will certainly be the case.)

Before explaining the reason a person needs to eat six times per day I will tell you about a study done regarding this strategy.  The study took a large group of people and divided them into two equal halves.  The two equal halves were then put on an exercise program and given the same foods, in the same amounts, to eat.  The only difference between the two groups was the one group had to eat their food in two meals while the other group divided their food into six portions.  At the end of the program, the group that ate six times per day ended up gaining twice as much muscle and losing twice as much fat as the group that only ate two times per day.  This shows that you can improve your diet and efficiency by 100% by simply eating more frequently.

The reason that eating six times a day will help you to lose weight is that it helps keep your blood sugar more level.  When you only eat one or two times per day, you have a big spike upward in your blood sugar. Then, after your meal digests, there is a large drop-off in blood sugar levels.  During these drop-off periods, where your blood sugar is low, your body perceives itself to be starving.  (Your body does not realize that in our society most of us have access to food 24 hours a day.)  Your body instead, thinks it may be in for a long period without food.  The body transitions into starvation mode.  In starvation mode, the body hoards fat.  The reason for the conservation of fat and is that fat is the body's long-term energy source.  If there's going to be a long period without food the body wants to make sure there is as much energy in the reserve tank as possible.  If the body is conserving fat for fuel it must then burn something else for energy.  That energy comes from muscle.  The body will break down muscle to supply energy to meet its current demands.  The burning of muscle for fuel is especially bad for those wanting to lose weight.  One pound of muscle burns 35 calories per day, at rest.  If you lose too much muscle, your metabolism will be slowed down making it even easier to gain weight and harder to lose fat.

Keep in mind that when eating six times per day one still has to be conscientious about portion control.  The average male burns 2000 to 2200 calories per day. The average female burns 1800 to 2000 calories per day.  If, during your six meals, you exceed these caloric values, you will indeed gain weight.  If you consume less than these amounts and you employ eating six meals per day, you will be far more successful in your dieting outcomes.


Hard To Start

Health on July 2nd, 2010 No Comments

Change is always difficult.  Starting a new diet is no different. The most important thing to remember is that you do not want to simply make a short-term change.  You want to adopt new eating strategies that you can continue to maintain the rest of your life.  Change is hard so do it right the first time and then never again.

If you need to lose weight, obviously, your current eating habits are poor.  If you simply adopt a new diet to achieve a short-term weight loss goal you will be disappointed.  You may indeed lose weight with the new diet. Following the conclusion of your diet, however, you will simply revert back to the same eatting strategies you had prior to the diet. This will result in you gaining back all your weight ,and possibly even more, than you had prior to the diet.

What you need to do is make small modifications to your diet that will be sustainable for a lifetime.  Simple strategies to employ that can have tremendous impact are as follows: eating six times per day, controlling portion size, avoiding sodas, avoiding eating out more than one time per week, avoiding processed foods as much as possible, and eating more fruits and vegetables.

You need to stop the dieting rollercoaster and adopt long term, permanent eatting patterns.  In the next several blogs, I will expound further on the above simple stratagies. I will explain how to easily incorporate these into your liestyle. I will also explain why they are important and effective.


Dementia and Large Bellies

Health on June 23rd, 2010 No Comments

Recent research shows a potential link between large bellies/abdominal fat and Alzheimer's disease.  The study shows that large abdominal girth in your 40s increases your risk for developing dementia in later life.  Overall, bodyweight apparently isn't as important as shear abdominal size. 

What exactly qualifies as a large abdomen?  In this study, the researchers measured between the upper abdomen in the back of the body.  Anything over 10 inches was considered high.  The study showed that participants with normal body weights and large bellies were 89% more likely to be afflicted with dementia in later life.  Overweight participants were more than twice as likely and obese clients were three times as likely to acquire dementia.

Researchers are unsure as to why this occurs.  It does, however, provide one more incentive to get rid of that belly.


Good Things Happen Slowly

Health on June 17th, 2010 No Comments

Your body is highly efficient.  Often times, this leads to frustration as the body does not seem to respond to exercise and dieting as quickly as we would like it. In a perfect world, when dieting and exercising, you would see immediate results.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  It usually takes the body six weeks to make any substantial changes.  The reason for this is that change requires a significant amount of energy from your body.  Being efficient, the body does not want to spend energy making changes unless it is confident that the changes are necessary.

For example, when you begin a weight lifting program you will not change the muscle (size) to any significant degree for about six weeks.  You will, however, see an increase in strength as the body will learn to perform the exercise tasks more efficiently.  Nerves will fire in a more coordinated fashion, your form will improve, and you will learn which muscles to best utilize for a particular activity.  But it is not for six weeks of continued activity before the muscle will be remodeled.  One pound of muscle burns 35 calories per day at rest.  The body is not about to put energy into creating new muscle that is going to burn extra calories unless it is certain that it is necessary.  After six weeks of continued demand, the body will consider that you're serious and make the necessary modifications to increase the strength and size of the muscle.

In regard to dieting, if you have a slow metabolism and you begin to engage in behavior that will increase your metabolism (such as exercising and eating more frequent, smaller meals) it will again take approximately 6 weeks to see any significant change.  In the past, your body may have considered itself to be in  starvation mode (this can occur from dieting; eating fewer than 1200 calories per day or from limiting yourself to eating only one to two meals per day). If the body thinks that food is in short supply, it is not about to speed up metabolic processes that will require more energy.  Again, it is only after about six weeks of engaging in proper activity (exercising and eating six small meals per day) that you'll begin to see a change in your metabolism. 

This is why you must be persistent with diets and exercise program that do not seem to produce immediate results. Sometimes there is need for additional modifications but often times it is simple patience that must be employed in order for results to follow.