Sunday, May 1, 2016

Should We Focus on Weight Training, not Weight loss?

A new study suggests that having more muscle and less fat reduces the risk of early death in people with heart disease. In this current study, Dr. Preethi Srikanthan of the University of California, Los Angeles and colleagues analyzed data gathered from more than 6,400 Americans with heart disease. Investigators found that people with higher amounts of muscle and lower levels of body fat were less likely to die of heart problems or any other causes than the three other groups, based on body composition. The groups were: low muscle/high fat, low muscle/low fat or high muscle/high fat. The people with more muscle were more likely to have a high BMI, which describes the “obesity paradox”, where people with a higher BMI have lower death rates. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, resistance training (also known as strength training) can be done at home by filling used milk jugs with sand. Or, the traditional route can be taken by using free weights, dumbbells, weight machines and medicine balls. The concentration of building muscle instead of losing weight can be a beneficial factor in ultimate health.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Grilling and BBQ

It’s that time of the year again! The sun is coming out, everyone’s moods are getting a bit brighter and the urge for grilling and barbequing begin! Nothing feels better than being able to grill and eat outside, taking in the fresh air and beauty of the season. We must remember there are strict precautions to grilling, though. If you don’t follow the correct protocols, someone can potentially get sick.

Follow these tips to obtain the ultimate BBQs all summer:

  • ·      Invest in at least two sets of tools: tongs or spatulas, in order to prevent mixing utensils used for raw meats with cooked meats. Also, you want to use a food thermometer in order to ensure the meat is safe and ready to eat.

  • ·      Decide whether you want to use a propane tank grill or a charcoal grill. It is mainly based on your preference. A charcoal grill may add flavor to barbequed food. The gas grills cook at lower temperatures than charcoal grills and it is found easier to control temperature.

  • ·      Next, decide what to grill! Grilling is great because it doesn’t add fat while cooking. Choose lean cuts of beef (tenderloin, flank steak, ground round), pork, chicken or fish. Remove any visible fat you see. Or, you can skip the animal protein all together and grill tofu, veggie burgers or veggies alone for an extra flavor boost- such as onions, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers asparagus and corn on the cob.

  • ·      Decide whether to use direct or indirect heat. Direct heat is when raw food is placed directly over the heat source to cook. It should be used for most BBQ staples- steaks, burgers, kabobs, chicken, sausages and veggies. Indirect heat is when food is placed away from the heat source and the grill cover is closed to allow the heat to cook the item evenly. Indirect heat works best for foods that require extra cooking time (for example, a thick steak).

  • ·      You may also choose to marinate your foods! It is an awesome way to add flavor to your foods without drying them out. The building blocks of marinades include herbs, spices and acid.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Icing on the Cake

Does a product’s packaging influence you?  As it turns out, images shown on food products just might make more of an impact than you know.  A recent series of studies discovered that people eat a larger portion of cake when a frosted cake is shown on the cake mix box.  In one of the studies, the image of a cake covered in frosting encouraged participants to consume 135% more calories than the serving size.  A subsequent study included a cake mix box with the phrase, “frosting not included on the nutritional labeling.”  These participants chose a more appropriate and less caloric serving size. 
Regardless of the type of food product, many consumers automatically assume that the picture on the box reflects the recommended serving.  In fact, the food packaging likely influences consumers’ portion sizes more so than the printed serving size.  Researchers collectively believe that when a generous portion is displayed on a product’s packaging, it causes consumers to overestimate on serving size.  To avoid misleading consumers, the researchers urge manufacturers to include a phrase reminding their customers that any additional items shown are not included in the recommended serving size.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Eating With Your Ears?

Many are aware of the sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami flavor sensations that occur in the mouth, but new research from Brigham Young (BYU) and Colorado State University (CSU) has shed light onto the forgotten flavor sensation: sound. If you think the sound of food isn’t important, then think again: 27 % of food and nutrition experts’ surveys reported the sound food makes as being “essential,” or “important.” I can’t imagine what Pop Rocks would taste like without the sound they make. Or perhaps celery would taste even worse without the crunch! The crunch factor, as I like to think of it, makes a difference in the amount of food eaten. Studies by BYU and CSU found that participants with headphones emitting loud music ate a greater amount of food: 4 pretzels as opposed to 2.75 pretzels in the “quiet” group. This suggests that the sound food makes as we eat it makes a difference in the amount we eat. This goes along with other research that suggests that watching television during a mealtime will increase consumption. Maybe the muffling effect of the TV is what cues someone to eat more.

            What may be beneficial for someone to do at mealtime is to listen to the sound that food makes, and, more importantly, take your time eating. Doing so will give you the title of a “Mindful Eater,” but may also cue you to eat less.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fad vs. Facts

            When looking to lose weight, many people are appointed to search the Internet for the ‘easiest’ or ‘best’ way to do so.  As we have all been told, not everything on the Internet is true.  This is especially true in the nutrition realm as little to no research is behind many tactics that claim to lead to dramatic weight loss.  Because of this, many people become disheartened when their consumption of ‘superfoods’ or scarce diet plans don’t work as promised.  Being able to tell the difference between the truth and hoaxes is one of the best ways to achieve your goals in a timely manner and with the best results. 

            For instance, some people claim that eating certain foods, such as green tea and spicy foods, boost your metabolism and will help contribute to weight loss.  Although your metabolism is increased from the consumption of such foods, it is only temporary and will not lead to any dramatic results, as the heightened rate is not enough to combat overeating.  The truth is that no item claimed to be a ‘superfood’ can truly lead to weight loss by itself.  These foods may be able to contribute to a healthier weight, but only when combined with an overall balanced diet.

            Another commonly believed falsehood is that eating foods later in the evening contributes to weight gain.  This is also untrue as it is not the timing, but the amount of calories consumed that matters.  Those with diabetes or hypoglycemia often find it helpful to spread caloric intake through the day, but that tactic is solely based on blood sugar levels rather than the number of calories consumed.  It is important to note that this information does not give anyone the right to binge, as those calories add up quickly and can cause an increase in weight. 

            Lastly, skipping meals or switching to very low calorie diets should never be encouraged.  Our bodies are designed to survive famine and harsh times, and will strive to maintain their current state with less energy.  This tactic is both unhealthy and inefficient.
            The human body is more complex than any ‘simple fix’ found on the Internet or celebrity claim could embody.  Although slow and sometimes exhausting, the best way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle is with a balanced diet and regular exercise.