Hello, It’s Meat. I Was Wondering If I Cause Cancer

ADELE EATING

You and I both know the decision to add the bacon (turkey bacon for me) in your burger was not the greatest health decision. The double cheeseburger you decided to order also left you feeling a little guilty. First Monday of the month? 2 free slices of pizza at Planet Fitness, baby.  Do these life decisions mean you need to start your end of life bucket list? Recent headlines shouting ‘RED MEAT’, ‘PROCESSED FOOD’, and ‘CANCER’ will have you thinking, yes. How about we cut the crap and share the facts instead. Using the slogan for my blog as a transition was no where near as cool as I thought that was going to be.

Sounds scary: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently classified processed meat as a ‘definite’ cause of cancer (or Group 1 carcinogen). Cigarettes and alcohol are also classified as a Group 1 carcinogen.

What it really means: These categories are a determinant of how confident the IARC is something causes cancer. Based off of the research these scientists reviewed, they have sufficient evidence to determine consumption of processed foods increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

MEAT CANCER (TRY THIS)
Image used from, http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/10/26/processed-meat-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/
Sounds scary: So, since processed meats and cigarettes are in the same classification, are they equally dangerous?

What it really means: No. Having confidence in something is not the same as risk. The best analogy and explanation of this comes by Dr. Phillips, “Think of banana skins. They definitely can cause accidents, but in practice this doesn’t happen very often. And the sort of harm you can come to from slipping on a banana skin isn’t generally as severe as, say, being in a car accident.”[1]

MEAT CANCER POST 2
Image used from, http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/10/26/processed-meat-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/
Sounds scary: People who eat 1 serving of red or processed meat per day have a 17% increased risk of colon cancer, compared to those who eat 1 serving per week, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

What it really means: Statistics can be scary. A 17% increase sounds like a lot…until you put it into perspective. Lets say we’re directly comparing the risk of cancer from eating red/processed meat once a week verses every day. This direct comparison is called relative risk, but when when looking at the absolute risk we get a better understanding of what this statement means in real life.
About 61/1000 people will develop colon cancer. If all those people underwent a low red meat consumption lifestyle, according to the WCRF, that number would decrease by 17% (so, 17% of 61 is about 10). Therefore, with the low red meat diet, 51/1000 people will develop cancer, 10 less people. Doesn’t sound as significant as the ‘sounds scary’ comment does it?[1]

Sounds scary: If I don’t go vegan, I’m going to die.

What it really means: No. As usual, the truth is found somewhere in between the extremes. There’s nothing wrong with being a vegan. As a vegan, there are still ample ways to intake all of the nutrition you need. In addition, completely eliminating red meat and processed meat in your diet almost surely will reduce your chances of developing colon cancer, but to what extent? Is it worth the major life decision to never ever enjoy a burger ever again? If yes, then awesome, go vegan! For those that enjoy the occasional burger, don’t worry you’re safe. The more reasonable, scientific, and logical message to take from all this buzz is everyone’s favorite 10 letter word, “moderation”. The occasional bacon, burger, and hot dog is probably not going to give you cancer. Downing a pork roll, bacon cheese burger with a large soda, and large fries most days of the week, is definitely going to increase your chance of an early death or disease.

Other stuff you should know: 

  • All this stuff you’re reading on the news, isn’t new. Processed meat was never deemed to be healthy. The recent news is a review of a collection of already published literature. So yeah, this isn’t some great scientific breakthrough.
  • The topic of the dangers of red meat is still more controversial than you think. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition looked at a collection of 27 studies and found the association between read meat and cancer is weak.
  • Chicken and fish are chilling in the corner like, what about us? Chicken and fish, not cooked in gallons of oil, can be quite healthy. Areas of the world where the staple in diet is seafood, see a much less rate of instance of heart disease (read about that in my omega-3-fatty acid post). So try to incorporate more lean meats and seafood into your diet, and less double cheeseburgers. No one is arguing this.
  • Although often adjusted for, in population studies, we don’t always know the disparity of characteristics in the people being looked at. Meaning, are the people getting cancer people who are also overweight, inactive, genetically predisposed, etc. Like I said, most of the time it is adjusted for, but not all the time. So great advice you’ve never heard before, but try to incorporate a healthy lifestyle of activity and exercise no matter what you eat.
  • To the extreme vegans and extreme meat eaters, let me be the moderator here. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being vegan. On paper, in my opinion, it’s probably a nutritionally healthier lifestyle, as long as you still get in your major vitamins and macronutrients most commonly found in meat (i.e. protein, iron, vitamin B12, etc.). With that said, in regards to nutrition and health (not getting into the ethics of it here), there’s nothing wrong with consuming meat either. Yes, excess red med is not good. Processed food should be minimal. But to accuse every meat eater of ignorantly welcoming cancer, makes you sound like an ass. A stupid one too.
  • Last but not least, a personal quirk of mine. For the extreme vegan lifestyle supporters (which is totally cool with me) that are also hardcore anti-vaccinators (not cool with humanity), you are NOT ALLOWED to endorse or repost any article supporting these recent findings about red meat and processed food by the WHO. Why? Because no one endorses the benefit and worldwide usage of vaccines more than the WHO. You can’t sit there and be like “oh the research on red meat is definitely accurate and flawless but the vaccine information is all conspiracies. I mean, you could do that, but that’s stupid too. Let’s stop stupid together.

References:
[1] Dunlop, Casey. “Processed Meat and Cancer – What You Need to Know.”Cancer Research UK Science Blog Processed Meat and Cancer What You Need to Know Comments. Cancer Research UK, 26 Oct. 2015. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.

5 Breakfast Items for Those Always on the Run

When you're in such a rush you grab a clock instead of food
For when you’re in such a rush you grab a clock instead of food

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that get up extra early to make sure they have time to eat a giant breakfast and those that dart out the door in the morning with nothing in our stomach. If you’re like me, you fall into the latter category. Breakfast can be important for energy or to help you get in your total protein intake for the day. For me, a cup of coffee or tea gets me going for the day. I use breakfast as a time to help me get my total protein in for the day and ensure my protein intake is spread out (24 hour protein synthesis rates are about 25% higher if you space your protein intake out throughout the day, rather than eating the majority of it in one meal).

  1. Quest Protein Bar
    Again, still not sponsored by Quest, yet I act like I am. Seriously, though, it tastes delicious, has a lot of fiber, and lot of protein. I’ve had a lot of protein bars but none that compare to the taste of Quest (chocolate chip and cookies & cream are my favorite). Attention white girls, there is now a pumpkin flavor too.
  2. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
    I think a common misconception is that protein shakes are only for after workouts, that’s wrong. Protein shakes are nothing more than a convenient way to get a bulk of protein for your total daily intake. Toss in a scoop of protein powder in the blender, cup of milk or water, some fruits, peanut butter if you’re feeling adventurous, teaspoon of Nutella if you’re feeling really wild, and blend. You’ve got yourself a filling shake, with a solid amount of protein, and some fruit intake as well. Does the type of protein matter? You’ll find some protein advertised as ‘super protein’, but go for regular whey protein isolate. Different brands will have different quality levels of the protein which may affect how it sits in your stomach; Optimum Nutrition tastes great (cookies & cream flavor) and sits well in my stomach.
  3. Greek Yogurt (FAGE or Chobani)
    Greek yogurt has become the cute new girl in class everybody wants to talk to, but is she just all talk? Nope, she’s the real deal. Delicious and lots of protein. I’m talking about the yogurt…this is a family blog, guys. Anyway, the two brands I put here are my go-to’s. Both are fat free which is important because depending on the brand, greek yogurt can sometimes be high in fat. FAGE (less commonly shelved than Chobani, I find) actually has 6 grams more protein than Chobani and tastes just as good in my opinion.
  4. Spinach Feta Wrap from Starbucks
    Look at me with a straight face and tell me you haven’t been having a pumpkin muffin everyday this fall. Well you can substitute the empty nutrition from that muffin for some fiber, lots of protein, and carbs from the whole wheat wrap to give you some energy. Even though they’re frozen, it actually tastes pretty darn good.
  5. Fiber One Cereal
    Ok, so not the most delicious option in the world, but hear me out. One serving of half a cup of the original Fiber One cereal has 14 grams of fiber. Trust me, that’s a lot of fiber (half of the total amount you need in a day). Mix it in with some milk and add some fruit or just put it in a sandwich bag and snack on it during your commute. If you can tolerate the bland taste, its benefits are worth it. The higher fiber content will keep you full and low calories will help you feel guilty free. Be careful when selecting the other types of Fiber One brand cereals; the flavored ones have less fiber. The ‘protein Fiber One’ has more protein but significantly less fiber than the original.

2 posts in a week, is FNDfitness back?? Look out for my opinion on the latest red meat, processed food, and cancer talk soon…dare I say THIS SATURDAY!?

The Fastest & Shortest Way to Lose Belly Fat: See Results in Just a Week!

This…is…FNDfitness! (corny 10/10)

I’m really sorry. I had to open this post up with an apology because the title of this post was purposely constructed to be manipulative. It’s marketing at it’s finest; placing the two words that are your biggest weakness after pumpkin spice lattes,  ‘fast’ and ‘belly fat’. Unfortunately, as promising as the title seems to be, it embeds everything that’s wrong with health and fitness today. It implies that optimizing the health of your mind and body is an overnight process. Ask any person who displays great health (the super lean and strong 30 year old at the gym who you stare at lifting in between sets) and they’ll tell you their journey to fitness was something made over the span of years. It required dedication and hard work which transpired over a period of time. A mindset which acknowledged ups and downs but ultimately had the constant of learning and improving upon mistakes and building upon successes.

Ok, so I’m not going to totally leave you hanging after my super deceiving title. On the plus side, now you know to hopefully avoid the links which promise to get you a “super six pack with this one shortcut in 72 hours” (and avoid the array of viruses you’ll have to explain to other household members). So, let’s get to it…how do we quickly and efficiently burn belly fat?

There’s no way to only lose belly fat…

“Yo, FNDfitness, you’re killing me. You’re leading me on more than my high school sweet heart who really wasn’t my sweet heart because she totally friendzone 3000’d me.” I really am sorry and for the record, totally feel for you #teamfriendzonestandtogether. So let’s quickly get this out of the way, there is no such thing at spot reduction. What’s spot reduction? Basically what the name implies, losing fat in one specific spot. When you lose fat, you lose it throughout the whole body. Now, can you target certain areas over others? Sure, just ask the guy who curls in the squat rack. If I solely dedicated my life to dumbbell curls, I would likely have less fat in my arms than the rest of my body because of that specific isolation movement. Unfortunately, this isolation doesn’t exist for your stomach. You can do 10000 sit-ups a day but unless you’re in a caloric deficit through proper dieting and/or exercise (hopefully both), you won’t lose the stomach fat. Also important to note is the genetic factor: fat distribution among a population is not equal. For some people more fat may be distributed to their stomach while for some others it may go to their legs. Naturally, if you start losing fat you will see greater reductions in some areas more than others but the constant remains that you can’t lose fat in only one specified area of the body.

Ok, here it is, the fastest way to lose fat…

Wait, sorry one more thing. Hopefully this teasing isn’t making me lose readers, I can really use all of you guys. Promise, last point, then we’ll get to the good stuff. I need to further emphasize a point I glossed over earlier. It’s a fact that people want to see results quickly, very understandable. Unfortunately, this problematic ‘quick fix’ weight loss mindset all too often leads to rebound weight gain. The person will undergo some extreme form of restrictive dieting which then leads to inevitable weight loss due to drastic reductions in calorie intake, but then what? The lack of intention to implement life style modifications for overall health leads to this on going ping-pong of weight gain, stress, extreme dieting, weight loss, back to a normal lifestyle, weight gained back on, and repeat. So before I go on to give my suggestion of quick efficient fat loss, I plead that it be used as a stepping stone to better understand and learn health and nutrition and to implement it in your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be a drastic overnight change but, rather, a mindset which has the intention to continue to improve on life style modifications. These lifestyle modifications include eating in greater moderation, tracking macros, implementing weight lifting, and cardio.  Even more important, the recognition that if you have one bad day of maybe overeating, it does not have to be a downhill avalanche from there, eat a little bit less the next day and throw in some exercise.

Ok so what is one of the most convenient, short, accessible, and efficient ways to burn fat?

Beachbody home workout videos. I’m sure there are lots of great at home workout videos out there, but the one that I have personal experience and success with is from beach body. Not just me, but I personally know lots of people who have had success with their programs. The programs are brilliantly developed so that they incorporate a total body workout. The schedule of the workouts are tremendously laid out so that you get the appropriate rest for each body part as needed. The common theme that these different programs incorporate is the concept of high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT in a nutshell is basically exerting high intensity movement(s) over a short duration followed by a short period of rest. The most basic example would be sprinting on a treadmill for a minute followed by a minute of walking. Of course, with these home workouts you aren’t on a treadmill but are completing a variety of exercises which stimulate different areas of the body for a whole body work out. Here are a bunch of reasons why these at home programs will probably be awesome for you.

  1. It’s convenient. No gym membership, no driving, they’re all at home workouts.
  2. For a lot of the workouts, there is no equipment required. For those that do require some equipment, it’s very minimal and you can order it along with the dvd’s or buy them cheap on amazon.
  3. Go at your own pace. No feeling of embarrassment that people are watching at you. An important aspect stressed in the videos is to go at your own pace but to try your hardest. Initially, you are probably not going to be able to keep up with people on the dvd, BUT THAT’S OKAY. You can go on your own pace, but it’s important that you try your best. If you half-ass it and take longer breaks than you know you need, you’re only cheating yourself.
  4. More on the HIIT. The benefits of HIIT are pretty well documented and make a lot of sense. You are not going to burn fat from a 15 minute walk on a treadmill because you’re body doesn’t need to use extra sources of energy for fuel (the extra source being fat). On the other hand, when you’re doing high intensity type training, your body has to work extra hard and needs extra fuel to keep going. First, your body will go for your glucose and glycogen stores. When those run out your body starts burning FAT for energy, how exciting! So, when you’re getting tired and need that extra push during the workout just remember, that’s the FAT you will be using as energy to keep you going. Here’s a study that compared two groups, one with conventional training and another with conventional training+HIIT. After 8 weeks, both groups lost significant weight, but the group with HIIT incorporated in it had a greater reduction in visceral fat (body fat inside abdominal fat so it’s closer to the organs aka the worst kind of fat). [1]
  5. Well laid out programs. Often times people don’t know where to begin and what to do on their fitness journey. With all of the programs a full schedule is laid out for you.
  6. They can be used as supplemental exercises. Maybe you’re someone that already goes to the gym on occasion and are wondering what benefit these programs can have for you. Well, just because these programs are laid out as a program to be completed over a certain amount of time, that doesn’t mean they have to be used that way. Maybe there’s a few days of the week you just don’t have time to go to the gym, no problem. Slip in a dvd and you have your workout for the day.
  7. Most of the workouts are short. they range anywhere from as short as 25 minutes, to usually not more than an hour.

So which do I pick? Beachbody has a lot of different programs and you’re free to do your own research on them but here are the ones I’m familiar with.

  • For those short on time/beginners
    • T25. These short 25 minute workouts are broken down by different difficulty levels and are only 25 minutes long. Can you really not spare 25 minutes a day for a workout? Don’t get fooled by the 25 minutes either if you think it’s going to be a waste of time, you’re getting a really great and efficient workout in. The sweat afterwards will speak for itself.
  • Intermediate/advanced level of fitness
    • P90X or Insanity. Caution: Insanity is pretty intense. For the complete beginners, I would probably not recommend it. For those with some experience in exercising or intermediate level of fitness I think it’s worth the challenge. The important thing to remember with any of these workouts but especially with Insanity is the you have to GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. If you set your expectations at baseline with the people in the dvd, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It’s okay to take a break while they’re still going, but as soon as you get your rest you have to jump back in.

So there you have it. You’ve been complaining about wanting to lose weight about what seems like forever now. This is probably the easiest, most convenient, and most practical way you can jump on that goal NOW. Whatever the price is for the program (usually around $100-150), once you start seeing your results, you’ll consider it your greatest investment ever. The great thing about these programs is that they put you through such an effective and efficient calorie burning exercise, you’re almost guaranteed to lose weight (assuming you don’t start eating more than you were before starting the programs). Assuming that you had little to no exercise prior to the workout dvd’s, the calories you’re going to burning from these programs are going to have some kind of positive effect on your body composition; and due to their intensity and effectiveness, you can expect to see results pretty quickly. I know I sound like an annoying uncle telling you life advice, but don’t forget the most important thing: your goal should be to implement life style changes that can improve your health for the long term. Having the intention on doing these workout dvd’s for just a few months while still eating pop-tarts as 90% of your diet is not going to do you any good.

References:

[1] Giannaki CD, Aphamis G, Sakkis P, Hadjicharalambous M. Eight weeks of a combination of high intensity interval training and conventional training reduce visceral adiposity and improve physical fitness: a group-based intervention. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;

 

 

 

Do Carbs at Night Make You Fat?

Convincing enough…

This question has surely crossed your mind at one point or another. Likely, you’ve heard at least one time that carbs at night do indeed make you fat. But does this statement have any scientific credence to it? Is it true that the reason you can’t lose weight is because you like to eat late at night? Let’s try to analyze and answer these questions with science and bad humor.

Where does this seemingly universally accepted statement come from anyway?

   I have no idea. I think most people who cling to this statement have just heard this phrase their whole life so they just stick to it. Those who defend this notion, that eating carbs at night make you fat, will usually point out that since you are about to go to sleep, your metabolism will slow down and all those carbs will be automatically converted to fat. Conversely, they’ll likely argue that if all your carbs are eaten early in the day, you will have the opportunity to magically burn those carbohydrates in your super active daytime lifestyle (that was sarcastic, most of our jobs are probably mostly sedentary, i.e. desk jobs).

So what REALLY happens to our metabolism when we sleep?

   It seems logical to think that while our body’s are still, they’re metabolically inactive. At the very least, our body’s metabolism must be significantly less than it is during the day, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Research done on resting basal metabolic rate compared to sleeping metabolic rate has shown some interesting results. Here are three findings relevant to our discussion:

  1. Averages done on the resting metabolic rate (RMR) and sleeping metabolic rate (SMR) proved to be SIMILAR and NOT SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT. [5,7]
  2. Sleeping metabolic rate was directly correlated with body mass index. Obese individuals had a SMR LOWER than their RMR. Non-obese individuals had a SMR HIGHER than their RMR. So if you’re not obese, you’re actually burning more calorie while sleeping than you are playing Playstation. [7]
  3. Exercise INCREASES sleeping metabolic rate significantly, which leads to greater fat oxidation (breaking down fat for energy). [3]

So, it doesn’t really seem like our bodies are metabolically inactive during sleep after all. In fact, we might even be burning more calories during sleep than we are at rest during the day.

What about the idea of using morning carbs for energy?

   I touched on this idea in my post on intermittent fasting, but let’s take another look. Having carbohydrates in the morning for energy is more subjective than we are lead to believe. Many people, including myself, are big supporters of the idea that being in a fasted state in the morning does not equal a decrease in performance. Speaking from personal experience, I have attended class, studied, and performed my day to day activities just fine in a fasted state (note: I would consume black coffee on those days). With that said, there are certain occasions in which I did notice a decrease in performance without my morning carbohydrates for fuel: examinations and weight lifting. I wouldn’t recommend anyone about to embark on a tough examination to go in on an empty stomach. It makes sense too, during an examination we need to think more critically than usual and need mental endurance to brace ourselves to complete the examination without collapsing. Several studies have shown the benefits of having breakfast on school performance as well (granted, they’re usually performed on children and adolescents) [2]. The ingestion of carbohydrates for athletic performance is a lot more physiologically obvious and heavily supported by evidence [8].

So do carbs at night make me fat or not?

   The reason you may be having a hard time losing weight is REALLY unlikely due to you eating carbs at night. A randomized controlled study taken place over 6 months was done to give a good answer to this question. This study put one group of police officers in an experimental group of subjects having majority of their carbohydrates (approximately 80%) at night and the control group having majority of their carbohydrates throughout the day. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, and fat each day. After 6 months, the experimental group (who consumed their carbs at night) lost significantly more weight and body fat then the control group [6]. So yeah, feel free to reference that study to the next person about to choke you out for grabbing a slice of toast at 10pm.

2-Chainz…I mean terrible music…I mean 2 random thoughts…

  • I’m not here to say that eating carbohydrates at night is an amazing idea, it’s just not a terrible one. In fact, eating RIGHT before going to sleep is probably not a great idea and will probably leave you feeling bloated in the morning. Give your food some time to digest before hitting the sack (while typing those last three words, I just realized what an awkward phrase that is to reference going to sleep. Seriously, who thought of that?).
  • Carbs at night may improve sleep. Again, not too late, but this study looked at carbohydrates consumed 4 hours before sleep and showed improvement in sleep. [1]
  • Sorry for the late post.
  • That’s 3 random thoughts, bro. You’re ability to count in sequential numerical order is as good as 2-chainz’ ability to make music.

Conclusion

   If you will notice, my conclusions are usually pretty similar. Super restrictive rules that are spread around by society and taken as facts, are usually far from factual. In an all too familiar pattern, the big picture, which is the most important aspect to weight loss, is skipped over. Are you taking in more calories than you are consuming? Are you balancing out your macronutrients in such a fashion to optimize weight loss? The best take away you could take from this article is to go back to putting the focus on the TOTAL quantity/quality of calories consumed in a day. Don’t put the blame on your lack or weight loss on having to eating dinner later than your friends are. Instead, focus on exercising more, eating less, eating higher quality/nutrient dense foods, and indulging on the occasional slice of chocolate cake to maintain your sanity.

References:

  1. Afaghi A, O’connor H, Chow CM. High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(2):426-30.
  2. Hodgkin, G. Nutrition and Academic Achievement: Are They Related? An International Journal of Faith, Thought, and Action. http://dialogue.adventist.org/articles/20_1_hodgkin_e.htm. Accessed February 16, 2015.
  3. Mischler I, Vermorel M, Montaurier C, Mounier R, Pialoux V, Pequignot JM, Cottet-Emard JM, Coudert J, Fellmann N. Prolonged daytime exercise repeated over 4 days increases sleeping heart rate and metabolic rate. Can J Appl Physiol. 2003 Aug;28(4):616-29
  4. Norton, L. “Carbs at Night: Fat Loss Killer or Invisible Boogey Man?” Available at: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/carbs-at-night-fat-loss-killer-or-imaginary-boogeyman.html. Accessed February 16, 2015.
  5. Seale JL, Conway JM. Relationship between overnight energy expenditure and BMR measured in a room-sized calorimeter. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Feb;53(2):107-11.
  6. Sofer S, Eliraz A, Kaplan S, Voet H, Fink G, Kima T, Madar Z. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Oct;19(10):2006-14.
  7. Zhang K, Sun M, Werner P, Kovera AJ, Albu J, Pi-Sunyer FX, Boozer CN. Sleeping metabolic rate in relation to body mass index and body composition. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Mar;26(3):376-83.
  8. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/w8079e/w8079e0n.htm. Accessed February 16, 2015.

Intermittent Fasting: A Helpful Way to Finally Eat Less

There’s no wrong time of the day to eat pancakes

So you’ve been reading the latest FNDfitness blog posts. Following his page on Facebook. Watching his weird faces when he’s singing on youtube. You are really starting to understand that the key to losing weight is not just eating “healthy” but eating less. You’ve been eating a more moderately sized breakfast, decent sized lunch, snacking on Doritos less, but you still can’t lose weight. Even more frustrating is that you know what the problem is, dinner. Everyday you come home at 10pm from school and mom has a giant, delicious, calorie filled meal ready for you. As we all know, mom’s cooking beats self control every time.

This was my personal example of how I was struggling to eat less. Yours may not be exactly the same predicament but, none the less, you face the same problem…you love food too much and just can’t eat less! Well, the solution to my problem was implementing intermittent fasting into my life. Let’s learn more about this nutritional strategy (not diet) and see if it can help you!


 

WHAT IT IS…
-An adjustment to the traditional pattern of eating. Most of us in the world are used to the traditional breakfast at 8am, lunch at 1pm, dinner at 6pm schedule. Intermittent fasting has you eating all of your meals in an 8 hour window and be in a fasted state for 16. For example, you will have your first meal of the day at 1pm and final meal before 9pm. Noncaloric beverages, like water, or those with negligible calories, like black coffee, are permitted throughout the whole day.
*NOTE: There are different variants of intermittent fasting (ex. 24 hour fasts every 3 days). This post is going to talk about the 8 hour feeding/16 hour fasting style.*

HOW IT HELPS…
-There are several mechanisms of which intermittent fasting has claims of aiding in fat loss. The two most common are greater insulin sensitivity and an increased releasing of fat burning hormones. Insulin sensitivity is a good thing; it means your insulin cells are working efficiently to remove glucose from the blood stream and put it to good use. The opposite of being insulin sensitive is insulin resistant (for example, people who are type 2 diabetic are insulin resistant). The increased release of fat burning hormones (which are growth hormones) assist in muscle building and fat burning…kind of self explanatory on how that would be beneficial for fat loss [4]. Besides these two factors, intermittent fasting leads you to eat LESS. Now that you know that you have a smaller window in the day to eat your calories, the idea is that you end up eating less for the whole day.

SKIP BREAKFAST? LOL OK FNDFITNESS, I’LL CHOOSE PANCAKES INSTEAD…
-Here we tackle potentially the biggest hurdle for people to try intermittent fasting, skipping breakfast. You’ve basically heard your whole life that skipping breakfast is one step away from committing a crime. Well, as we learned from my last post, breakfast does not magically “kick start” your metabolism; they proved this in a study as well [1]. What about the claims that insulin sensitivity is the highest during the morning (physiologically this is actually true, by the way)? Also, don’t I need to use all of the energy from my breakfast for fuel throughout the day? Unfortunately, for the breakfast fan club, these ideas, which sound nice on the surface, when put to the tests did not give any definite superiority to having breakfast. A study here experimented with two groups: breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers. The result was no significant difference in weight loss [2].

-I’m not saying breakfast is the enemy, I love waffles in the morning more than anyone (actually, I could probably eat waffles anytime) . You could even send me links to studies in which those that ate breakfast lost more weight than those that didn’t because of greater appetite suppression. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’m here to tell you it’s an association, not a causation. Having breakfast may help you lose weight if it makes you less hungry and eat less throughout the day. For others, like myself, they may end up eating the same amount regardless of the inclusion of a big, healthy, and filling breakfast. The point I’m trying to get across is you don’t HAVE to eat breakfast to lose weight.

WHAT IS GHRELIN?
-Ghrelin is basically the hunger hormone; it’s what gets released when you become hungry. To adapt intermittent fasting into your routine, you’re going to have to trick ghrelin. Ghrelin is a complicated and not completely well understood hormone but we know it works off of your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is basically your daily routine and your body’s adaptation to it. If you go to sleep at 10pm every single day, it’s your circadian rhythm and the corresponding physiological mechanisms that kick in and makes you tired at approximately that time. Similarly, ghrelin works with your circadian rhythm; for example, if you eat breakfast every day at 10am everyday, ghrelin is likely being secreted at that time. It’s not a coincidence you get hungry the same time every day (assuming you follow a relatively routine schedule). So how do we trick ghrelin? Well, when you start doing intermittent fasting, you will be hungry in the beginning. This is your adjustment phase, but after a while (anywhere from a few days to a week) that morning hunger should go away. No longer is ghrelin accustomed to being released in the morning since you’re not having breakfast anymore.

EXERCISING IN A FASTED STATE…
-Supporters of intermittent fasting will often point to the benefits of completing a high intensity cardio workout in a fasted state. The claim is since you’re in a fasted state your body will go straight to its fat stores as energy which will thus enhance fat loss. As incredible as this sounds, a recent study was carried out over 4 weeks with one group exercising from a fasted state and the other group after a meal. They were given matching customized meal plans to ensure both groups were in an equal caloric deficit. The results of the study showed both groups lost a significant amount of weight but there was no significant difference between the two groups [6]. The bottom line is that we really need longer studies to better analyze the long term effects of fasted cardio. The best idea would be to implement exercise into your lifestyle whether or not it’s in the fasted stage.

DOES ALL OF THIS APPLY FOR WOMEN?
-It’s a little bit more complicated. Women go through a monthly menstrual cycle which can cause hormonal imbalances which may complicate intermittent fasting for them. Unfortunately, very sparse studies have been done on human females on intermittent fasting. Those that have, have mostly been on animal subjects. To further complicate things, the results were very confusing. Results showed an increase in bad cholesterol, an increase in good cholesterol, a little bit of weight loss, a decrease in blood pressure, and more hunger [7]. Confused by these results? Yeah, me too. Long story short, we don’t have enough data from studies to make really any kind of judgement. The best way to find out if intermittent fasting is right for you, you might have to just give it a try and see how it feels for you.

WHO SHOULD NOT DO INTERMITTENT FASTING?
-Intermittent fasting is not for everyone and certain conditions dictate it necessary you speak with your physician before embarking on this lifestyle change. Those conditions include, but are not limited to, diabetes, pregnancy, and more. If you have any kind of health condition(s), it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare professional first.

IN SUMMARY & RANDOM THOUGHTS:

  • Intermittent fasting is a strategy to help you lose weight for potentially a few different reasons: greater release of growth/fat burning hormones; increased insulin sensitivity; and by minimizing your window of opportunity to eat, thus leading you to eat less.
  • You aren’t going to die from skipping breakfast. At first it may be tough, but your body will adjust. If you skip breakfast and remain productive throughout the day and have stopped yourself from eating too much, well then that’s awesome. If after a week you still feel that you need that morning bagel to get you through the day, then maybe intermittent fasting isn’t for you, and that’s okay.
  • Intermittent fasting may be a little more challenging for women due to their monthly menstrual cycle. Studies have shown very mixed results. Best idea might be to just give it a try and see how it works for you.
  • Intermittent fasting MAY work for you. Intermittent fasting MAY NOT work for you. You can get in shape by using it. You can get in shape by not using it. What’s the most important thing? Hitting those macronutrients and micronutrients, sound familiar? The foundation of your health stays the same, getting in your macronutrients in an adequate amount appropriate for your lifestyle and taking in enough micronutrients to optimize body functions and overall health.
  • I used intermittent fasting for about 6 months and lost a decent amount of fat I was struggling to lose through other ways. My problem was every day I was going to have a heavy dinner because it’s my favorite meal, my mom makes awesome food, and it was one thing I had to look forward to everyday. I would routinely eat breakfast but really didn’t enjoy it, I just ate it because I thought I had to. After starting intermittent fasting I skipped the breakfast and would have my first meal of the day at approximately 1pm. I noticed that I no longer felt hungry randomly throughout the day and felt much more controlled in my eating. I didn’t notice any lack of energy/productivity throughout the day despite sitting through hours of lectures and studying. I did notice a decreased performance in the gym, so the days I wanted to exercise I would eat breakfast before my lifts.
  • Now, I usually save intermittent fasting for a day after I consume a lot of extra calories the day prior. This gives me some extra time to digest the ridiculous amount of food I had ate the day before and helps me make sure I don’t splurge on back to back days.
  • Your 8 hour gap does not have to be from 1:00PM to 9:00PM. It can be any 8 hour window of the day.
  • I love caramel, it should be on every desert ever made.

 

NEXT WEEKS POST: DO CARBS AT NIGHT MAKE YOU FAT? 


REFERENCES:

[1] Betts JA, Richardson JD, Chowdhury EA, Holman GD, Tsintzas K, Thompson D. The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in lean adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(2):539-547.

[2] Dhurandhar EJ, Dawson J, Alcorn A, et al. The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(2):507-513.

[3] Heilbronn LK, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(1):69-73.

[4] Ho, K. Y., J. D. Veldhuis, M. L. Johnson, R. Furlanetto, W. S. Evans, K. G. Alberti, and M. O. Thorner. “Fasting Enhances Growth Hormone Secretion and Amplifies the Complex Rhythms of Growth Hormone Secretion in Man.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 81.4 (1988): 968-75. Web.

[5] Horne BD, May HT, Anderson JL, et al. Usefulness of routine periodic fasting to lower risk of coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary angiography. Am J Cardiol. 2008;102(7):814-819.

[6] Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Wilborn CD, Krieger JW, Sonmez GT. Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):54.

[7] Stote KS, Baer DJ, Spears K, et al. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):981-8.

[8] Varady KA, Hellerstein MK. Alternate-day fasting and chronic disease prevention: a review of human and animal trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(1):7-13.

 

6 Meals or 3 Meals, What’s Better?

Wow, this is one big subject to tackle. The discussion of meal frequency is an intriguing one because there’s a lot of recent research going into this subject matter. Perhaps, the best way to start out by tackling this topic is to look at one of the most common myths out there…does eating more meals equal more fat loss and/or increase my metabolism?

No, not necessarily. To understand this myth, let’s first learn the word of the day- thermogenic effect of food (TEF). Thermogenic effect of food refers to the energy used by the body when processing food intake. Here’s how the science works. *For the sake of explanation, we are going to use arbitrary numbers for the following example*

Say your diet consists of only apples; let’s say one apple has 100 calories and the thermogenic effect used by your body to process that apple burns 10 calories upon consumption.
-In scenario 1, I eat 2 apples 3 times a day (6 apples for those counting at home). Through wolfram, I discovered that 6 apples (in one day) x 10 calories (of thermogenic energy used per banana)=60 calories burned through TEF for that day.
-In scenario 2, I eat 1 apple 6 times a day. This scenario would be following the logic for more frequent/smaller portioned meals. Let’s see how much we boost our metabolism with this method. I’m no math major, but I still ate 6 apples for the day x 10 calories (of thermogenic energy used per apple)=60 calories burned through TEF for that day. Wow, no difference. Science wins.


Here’s the science which puts everything together. A few brilliant, well known and respected nutritionists got together and completed a meta-analysis and pooled the data from studies on meal frequency. They went through literally ALL english language journals and searched for studies on the topic which fit certain inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria basically helps them narrow down certain criteria for the studies to better include the studies in their analysis which hold more weight. For example, they only included studies which had a duration of at least 2 weeks. Here was their conclusion:

“Moreover, the small difference in magnitude of effect between frequencies suggests that any potential benefits, if they exist at all, have limited practical significance. Given that adherence is of primary concern with respect to nutritional prescription, the number of daily meals consumed should come down to personal choice if one’s goal is to improve body composition. There is emerging evidence that an irregular eating pattern can have negative metabolic effects, at least in the absence of formal exercise. This gives credence to the hypothesis that it may be beneficial to stay consistent with a given meal frequency throughout the week.” [1]

So what does all this mean? Well, it goes back to the original concept of IIFYM, have your meal timings accommodate into your schedule. It has not been shown that more frequent meals helps you lose any extra weight, so if you like eating only 3 meals a day, continue to do it. If you are more comfortable eating several smaller meals, that’s fine too. In either case, if you’re goal is to lose weight, you just need to eat/drink less calories. Now, we can dive deeper into this subject and talk about the lack of studies with meal frequencies and high protein intake. We could also talk about the benefit recent studies have shown of having protein throughout the day as opposed to consuming it in one or two bulk sittings. And we WILL talk about these topics…but in future posts. For now the take away should be to debunk the myth that you NEED to have smaller/frequent meals throughout the day to lose weight. What you NEED to do to lose weight is be in a caloric deficit (more calories out than in). The most efficient way to do that? Count your calories/macros to hit your target numbers so that you are at a caloric deficit and exercise more often.

References:
[1] Schoenfield J, Aragon A, and James K. “Nutrition Reviews.” Effects of Meal Frequency on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 14 Jan. 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.

How to Start Tracking Your Macros Today!

The lonely corner…where only the counters of macros reside
  1. Click here and plug in your information to get your results of your total daily net allowance of calories, fats, protein, and carbs. For now, just use the recommended grams per body weight that are provided.
  2. Download the “My Fitness Pal” app on your smart phone or tablet. You can even go on their website, www.myfitnesspal.com, if you wish to track your macros on a desktop/laptop. Make your free account and fill in your information. After you plug in your information, the application will automatically create its own macros for you, but we are going to use the macros we got from step 1.
  3. Go into settings and go into goals. Now, you can input the calories you recorded from step 1. Click on carbohydrates and change the percentages of each macro (carbs, protein, and fat) so that the grams match the “grams per day” you received from step 1.
  4. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Congrats, you have finished the first step in counting your macros and are one step closer to better understanding food/nutrition. My next blog post will help you in understanding your girlfriend better. Just kidding. I’m as single as that dude that comes to Starbucks and all of the workers know his name and usual drink; the same guy who then proceeds to sit in his usual corner table alone for several hours. Loser. Here are some basic FAQ’s about counting your macros to help clear up any initial confusion.

Q: Some of the food items on my fitness pal go by weight and I don’t have a food scale. Are you sending me a food scale?
A: No. Buy one. Or you can guesstimate. A slab of meat the size and thickness of your palm is approximately 6 ounces, give or take. You can also use google to search your inquiry, you’ll probably find someone else with the same question. Hopefully you have a least measuring cups at home, you’ll kind of need that. This is not an exact science but as you continue to track your macros you will get better at it, trust me.

Q: Sometimes I get multiple results for the same search item. Which is the correct one?
A: Well, one is not necessarily correct or going to exactly match what you are eating. A good rule of thumb is to do a rough average of the results you pull. Here’s an example. You’re eating homemade pizza and it’s about the size of a normal slice. You put in “pizza” and see the calories ranging from 150-300. Pick somewhere in the middle. Usually for a plain slice, I would give it about 250 calories, give or take. This problem brings us to the next question…

Q: Do I round up or down?
A: When counting calories people almost always have a tendency to underreport what they have eaten throughout the day. Therefore, I think it’s always a better idea to go with the higher number when you’re not sure where to round to.

Q: So, I went over my calories for the day? Is it all over for me?
A: No, don’t be silly. Obviously, the goal is to get as close to your target as you can, but there will be some days you go under and some days you go over. So what do you do if you go over 300 calories on bagel Tuesday at work? Try to be 300 calories under your goal the next day. You do not get fat or gain weight from one bad meal or one bad day. This is a process that happens over time. So if your goal was to lose weight and your total calories for the day was supposed to be at 2000 but you take in 2300 over the period of a week or two…then yes, you will gain weight. This strategy of allocating your calories and going over/under occasionally really holds the key to be flexible with your diet.

Q: I’ve actually seen you at Starbucks, sitting in the corner alone, for several hours at a time. Are you sure you weren’t talking about yourself?
A: Um…”I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”

5 Foods/Drinks to Add to Your Kitchen Cabinet NOW

Seriously, no one needs this much soda...
That’s a whole lot of soda…

1.) Whole Wheat Bread
The term empty calories refers to something that has lots of calories but very minimal nutritional benefit (little vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.). White bread, one of the most consumed food items in the world, is probably the king of empty calories. Here’s a super quick breakdown of how whole wheat becomes white bread. The original/unprocessed wheat flour, of which all of our bread products originate from, contains 3 layers (bran, germ, and endosperm). During the processing of the wheat flour to become white bread, two out of the three layers are removed and a lot of crap is added (bleaching agents, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, etc.). Unfortunately, those two removed layers have all of the nutritional good stuff. Many of today’s meals include some kind of bread option (for desi people it’s basically all meals) and substituting that daily naan with a whole wheat roti can really go a long way. Kontos brand whole wheat pita bread is a great tasting roti option to eat your nihari dish with and not feel so terrible afterwards. With that said, please feel free to occasionally indulge in a delicious sandwich made with white bread or giant fluffy naan; the occasional indulgence is necessary to not go crazy. Just make sure it fits your macros.
*Please don’t hate me for all the tabs you just opened up to learn about south asian/brown culture.

2.) Quinoa & Brown Rice
This bad boy right here can REALLY vamp up your meals. Yes, it fits all of the awesome categories of being organic and whole grain, but it’s also delicious. The key is to use the serving size to measure out 1 cup (or less if desired), toss it in a skillet with some eggs, veggies, protein (chicken, beef, etc.), and you have yourself a high protein, filling, and not super high calorie meal to fuel your day. It can be difficult sometimes to fill your diet with good tasting minimally processed whole foods, so any opportunity you have to fill your shelves up with something fitting this criteria is a win-win situation.

3.) Green Tea
Let’s get this out of the way first…green tea alone is NOT going to make you lose weight. With that said, it can still be a great daily addition to your daily diet to help you assist in losing weight and achieve greater overall health. The list of the benefits of green tea is a very lengthy one but practically speaking there are probably two functions of green tea that’ll make you happy. One, green tea is filled with antioxidants. To put it simply, antioxidants (good guys) reduce the activity of free radicals (bad guys) in the body. The results could range from just an overall feeling of wellness to reducing your risk for cancer [1]. Second, green tea MAY increase your metabolism which CAN MAYBE help you lose more weight. My eye cringes writing that statement because people think just because something MIGHT have a small effect on weight loss it’s their golden ticket to a 6-pack (I’m looking at you stupid weight loss supplement section). It’s better to look at the risk/reward in this kind of situation. There really isn’t much downside to drinking a daily green tea (unless you have some specific condition, like caffeine sensitivity). At the same time, green tea has been shown to have a small effect on weight loss [2]. So, with all of the benefits that green tea has to offer, a daily green tea certainly sounds like a good deal to me.

4.) Crystal Light (or other natural/artificially beverage sweeteners)
People drinks WAY too much soda in today’s society. It’s like the word moderation gets thrown out the window when it comes to drinking soda. If you want to take a really quick, easy, and effective step towards weight loss, cut soda from your diet. Now, it’s hard to go cold turkey so mixing these beverage sweeteners in water gives you a low calorie and good tasting beverage without the 50 grams of sugar and 200 calories. Water should always be the preferred beverage for health but, understandably, we get a sweet tooth sometimes. An occasional soda here and there doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately, the occasional soda in today’s society is usually twice a day, everyday.

5.) Protein Powder
When people think of protein powder they think of something that’s only supposed to be drank after a workout. This is not a good way to think of protein powder, rather, it’s simply a supplement to assist you in acquiring your total amount of protein in the day. If you get all your protein through lean meat, beans, nuts, yogurt, and other sources, well then that’s awesome. But if not, mixing a scoop or two of protein powder in a homemade shake can be a simple easy way to make a filling and tasty meal/snack. Just mix together a scoop of protein powder, glass of water/milk, throw in some fruits, and maybe even a teaspoon of peanut butter. Here are a few well respected brands of protein powder for men and women.

References:
Jurgens TM, Whelan AM, Killian L, Doucette S, Kirk S, Foy E. Green tea for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;12:CD008650.

Kuroda Y, Hara Y. Antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activity of tea polyphenols. Mutat Res. 1999;436(1):69-97.

5 Things You NEED to Know About IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

Our new favorite word--Moderation
Our new favorite word–Cookies…I mean Moderation

Macros, macros, macros. If you’ve read the basic introduction to the concept of “If It Fits Your Macros”, you hopefully have a general idea of what IIFYM is. Allow me now to try to convey the impact of how understanding what the meaning of IIFYM can have for your understanding of basic nutrition.

  1. IIFYM is NOT a diet, it’s science.
    IIFYM can be described as a method, technique, or just an understanding that the most important aspect in reaching your desired body composition (whether it’s weight loss, weight gain, or maintenance) is reaching your total daily macronutrient intake targets.
  2. IIFYM does NOT mean you can eat whatever you want.
    So, IIFYM gets a reputation of being a diet in which people eat whatever the hell they want as long as they “reach their total daily macronutrient intake targets”. This is stupid. No one is saying to eat enough pop-tarts and debbie cakes to hit your target marcronutrient/micronutrients. Majority of your total food intake (around 90% is a good benchmark according to fitness/nutrition guru Alan Aragon) should be coming from whole/minimally processed foods and the remaining can be from your secret stash of candy under your bed [1].
  3. Almost all diets incorporate one of the main underlying principles of IIFYM.
    That underlying principle is not some big secret, by the way, it’s the most basic understanding of weight loss: to lose weight you need to be at a caloric deficit. In layman terms, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. Think of a balance scale, on the left side we have “calories in” and on the right side “calories out”. On the left side we have all of the calories you consume through food/beverages. On the right side, “calories out”, the calories you burn throughout the day. We know calories are burnt by exercising and being active but calories are also burned at rest (we call this basal metabolic rate or BMR). When the left side of the scale, calories in, is greater than the ride side (so, more energy in verses out) we gain weight. When it’s the other way around, more energy out than in, we lose weight. All diets out there probably will help you lose weight in the short-term because they restrict a certain type of food group (like forbidding all carbohydrates) so you’re bound to significantly reduce your “calories in”. IIFYM sets those daily targets at the appropriate amount so that you are fixed to burn more calories than you are going to be taking in. Difference is, you do not have to drop-kick your roommate for bringing in bread to the house.
  4. It does require you to count calories…but not forever.
    Like we said earlier, the only way you can achieve weight loss is by using up more energy than you are taking in. So, when most people go on a diet and start eating “healthy” they usually naturally tend to eat less empty calories, more nutrient dense foods, and exercise more. When they start to lose weight it’s because of that magic “energy in verses energy out” formula. The problem with this awesome sounding plan is not that it doesn’t work, because it does, it just usually is not sustainable. Most people get tired of eating salads and vegetable juice three times a day, everyday. Worry not, in comes tracking calories. No longer is it a guessing game if I’m eating too many calories, too little, or just enough. Now you can squeeze in that Snickers bar, ice cream cone, or Snickers flavored ice cream bar into your day. The difference now is that since you have been counting your calories the whole day you’ll know if those two scoops of ice cream kept you under your total daily calories; or maybe if you only had room for more one scoop before going over your total allowed calories. After counting your calories for a while, you gain a great understanding of the macronutrient composition of a lot of foods. Do you have to do this counting for the rest of your life? Not quite. After counting your calories for a while, you gain a really good understanding of the macronutrient composition of foods. When you reach this level of mastery, you’ll be surprised how well you can almost count your macros by guesstimating for the day.
  5. Don’t forget your micronutrients.
    We keep talking about macronutrients, but what about micronutrients? Do people who follow IIFYM even care about vitamins/minerals? Why, certainly we do. As mentioned already, heavy majority of your dietary intake of the day should be from whole/minimally processed foods (aka not pop-tarts). This includes getting several servings of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other food items needed to fulfill the proper vitamin intake needed for healthy human function.

References:
[1] Schuler, Lou, and Alan Aragon. The Lean Muscle Diet: A Customized Nutrition and Workout Plan: Eat the Foods You Love to Build the Body You Want and Keep It for Life! N.p.: n.p., n.d.