Categorized as: Fat Loss Facts

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR GUT!

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  • There is a constant battle going on in your gut between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria
  • The ‘good guys’ are known as probiotics and they feed on prebiotics
  • The better your gut flora, the better your immune system, nutrient absorption, waste excretion, body fat percentage, mental health, bone density, digestive health, blood sugar, lactose tolerance, cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Healthy gut flora lowers your risk of many diseases, including colon cancer & osteoporosis, plus it changes the metabolism of dietary carcinogens
  • Your gut microbial community regulates expression of genes that affect fat deposition and fatty acid oxidation. Poor gut bacteria exacerbates inflammatory & auto-immune conditions
  • Negative influences on gut flora include diet, stress, age, antibiotics
  • For 50+ years we have known that the administration of antibacterial agents promotes the growth of farm animals to accelerate weight gain.
  • These changes in the composition of microbiota lead to an increased capacity to extract calories from otherwise indigestible constituents of food consumed
  • Prebiotics are plant foods that pass through the gut undigested until they reach the colon
  • They ferment in the colon & become an important fuel source for good bacteria
  • Some foods containing prebiotics: garlic, asparagus, onions, leeks, artichokes, banana, cabbage, snow peas, beetroot, peas, nectarines, grapefruit, cashews, oats, pistachios
  • Food intolerances: eg: lactase enzyme is a by-product of prebiotic fermentation!
  • We each have around 1.3kgs of bacteria in our gut
  • Fibre – nurtures good microbes/gut bacteria
  • Mental illness/depression/anxiety are linked to gut health
  • Your gut is the biggest sensory organ, sending information to the brain
PREBIOTIC PROBIOTIC
Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fibre Probiotics are live bacteria in dairy and supplement form. There are hundreds of species of probiotics
Prebiotic supplements are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time Probiotic bacteria must be kept alive. They may be destroyed by heat, stomach acid or poor storage
Prebiotics provide a wide range of health benefits Probiotics provide a wide range of health benefits
Prebiotics nourish the ‘good’ bacteria that we already have in our gut Probiotic supplements must contain more than 5 strains of bacteria to be effective. They must compete with over 1000 species already in our gut
Prebiotics may be helpful in many chronic digestive disorders amongst other health benefits Certain probiotic species have shown to be helpful in several digestive disorders amongst other health benefits

The (not so obvious) benefits of exercise…

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In my experience, one of the most common reasons we’re motivated to exercise is aesthetics. Yep – shed a few kilos of fat, tone-up those flabby areas, fit into our ‘skinny jeans’ or look good on that beach holiday. While it can be a positive thing to have a goal, the downside of this kind of superficial/external motivation is that it’s more of a whim than a long term need. At the end of the day, is it really enough to make you change your entire lifestyle to achieve?

Whilst caught up in the frenzy of numbers on the bathroom scales and the profile of our belly in the mirror, sometimes we miss the other far more important benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular, consistent exercise. I’ve known many individuals throw their arms up in the air in despair, claiming not to be getting any benefit at all from exercising, simply because the scales are not moving as quickly as they’d like. At times like these, it’s important to be aware of the many benefits of exercise and view the aesthetic results for what they are … a pleasant bonus!

The evidence is overwhelming: A body needs physical activity to stay lean and healthy

Fat burning: the effects of exercise are not as simplistic as ‘calories in vs calories burned’. You cannot out-run or out-train a poor or excessive diet. However, there are many physiological benefits activated by regular exercise, all of which assist your body in burning fat more effectively…

Increases insulin sensitivity: Muscles are the engines in your body that burn calories and make you move. And just like any engine that burns fuel to make it go (such as a car burning petrol), muscles need fuel too. That fuel is fat and carbohydrate (glucose). During exercise, the demand for fuel increases and the body responds accordingly. Glucose stored in the muscle is burned very quickly.  At about the same time, glucose stored in the liver is released into the bloodstream (like fast fuel injection). Fat is released from special cells called adipocytes (fat storage cells). This fat along with glucose makes its way through the bloodstream to the muscles to be used for fuel. Once the fuel reaches the muscle, it must enter through special pathways so that the muscles can use it for energy.

On the wall of every muscle cell are special receptors, like doors, that allow glucose to pass from the bloodstream to the muscle. These doors do not open unless they are ‘unlocked’ by insulin. The good news is that exercise has an insulin-like effect, making insulin work better in your body. During exercise, the doors swing open easily, allowing more glucose to enter the muscle to be burned up for energy.

Sometimes blood glucose continues to drop after exercise. That is because the glucose in the muscle that was used at the beginning of exercise needs to be replaced. The muscles, all revved up from exercise, continue to take glucose from the bloodstream to replace what was lost.

Increased Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

Our BMR is the calories we burn at rest. If you lay still for 24 hours, you burn a certain number of calories a day to keep your heart beating and sustain life. This BMR is generally around 75% of the total calories we use in a day, so it’s pretty significant. It is determined largely by our lean body weight (muscle tissue). The more muscle (density, tone, strength), the higher your BMR. Conversely, should you feel your exercise regime is ‘not working’ and become inconsistent, you risk a rapid loss in lean muscle tissue and a consequent decrease in BMR. Whilst you may remain the same ‘weight’, or even lose weight, you’re actually getting fatter as your body composition changes in the wrong direction (Less muscle, more fat).

The EPOC effect: Following high intensity interval training the body enters a state known as ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’, or EPOC. After you finish your workout, your body will be working overtime for up to 24 hours in order to restore your body back to its resting state. This means you will be burning energy/kilojoules at a much higher rate, even whilst sedentary.

Protection against disease: regular exercise can reduce our risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, certain cancers (colon, breast), type-2 diabetes and depression.

Joint health and inflammation

Joints require motion to stay healthy. Inactivity causes joints to stiffen and the adjoining tissue to weaken. Building strength and ‘tone’ in muscles surrounding our joints allows that ‘tension’ in our muscles to pull pressure away from the joints, resulting in less compression and friction. Conversely, allowing muscles to deteriorate can lead to permanent joint damage over time.

Bone health and balance

Weight-bearing exercise is very beneficial for bones in people of all ages. This approach applies tension to muscle and bone, and the body responds to this stress by increasing bone density, in young adults by as much as 2 – 8% a year. Careful weight training can also be very beneficial for elderly people, particularly women. In addition to improving bone density, weight-bearing exercise reduces the risk of fractures by improving muscle strength and balance, thus helping to prevent falls.

Back pain

People who do not exercise regularly face an increased risk for low back pain, especially during times when they suddenly have to perform stressful, unfamiliar activities. These activities may include lifting children, gardening, digging, or moving heavy items.

Lack of exercise leads to the following conditions that may threaten the back:

  • Hamstring inflexibility may alter the pivot point in general movement, causing you to compensate by bending from your lower back rather than your hips. This repetitive strain can lead to pressure on discs and consequent injury.
  • Tightness through the hip flexor muscles (from sitting for prolonged periods) can also contribute to lower back pain and eventual disc damage.
  • General muscle inflexibility can restrict the back’s ability to move, rotate, and bend, forcing unnecessary pressure on surrounding joints.
  • Weak core muscles can increase the strain on the back and can cause an abnormal tilt of the pelvis (hip bones).
  • Weak back muscles may increase the load on the spine and the risk of disk compression.
  • Carrying excessive body fat puts more weight on the spine and increases pressure on the vertebrae and discs.

Effect of Exercise on Cancer

A number of studies have indicated that regular exercise may reduce the risk of breast, colon, and possibly prostate cancers.

Studies confirm that exercise significantly reduces the risk of colon cancer (by up to 50%). Exercise also decreases the risk of breast cancer in pre and post-menopausal women by up to 30%.

Low intensity exercise has a protective effect against colon cancer, according to studies, including the Nurses Health Study and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II. People with colon cancer who exercise may reduce their risk of a recurrence.

Exercise also has a beneficial effect on people receiving treatment for cancer. Aerobic and resistance training can reduce fatigue in patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer. Fatigue is a common side effect of such treatments.

Effects on the Gastrointestinal Tract

Moderate regular exercise may reduce the risk for some intestinal disorders. These disorders include ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and diverticulosis. Older people who exercise moderately may have a lower risk for severe gastrointestinal bleeding.

Effects on Neurological Diseases and Mental Decline

Studies have shown that regular exercise helps reduce one’s risk for memory loss. Epidemiologic studies have found an association between increased exercise and slower rate of functional decline in older adults.

People with existing neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, should be encouraged to exercise. Specialized exercise programs that improve mobility are particularly valuable for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Patients with neurological disorders who exercise experience less stiffness, as well as reduction in, and even reversal of, muscle wasting. In addition, the psychological benefits of exercise are extremely important in managing these disorders.

Effects on Emotional Disorders

Some research has suggested that exercise may have antidepressant effects. Although there is little evidence that exercise can correct major depression, a number of studies have suggested benefits in mild to moderate depression in adults. Research findings include:

  • Just 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week was as effective as medication in relieving symptoms, and reducing relapse, in many patients with mild-to-moderate depression.
  • Teenagers who are active in sports have a greater sense of well-being than their sedentary peers. The more vigorously they exercise, the better their emotional health.
  • Physical inactivity is strongly linked to depression in children 8 – 12 years of age.
  • Exercise decreases some of the most troublesome emotional symptoms of menopause. Women who exercise during menopause showed less anxiety, stress, and depression than inactive women with menopause did.

Exercise’s Effects on Diabetes:

Moderate aerobic exercise can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Exercise has positive benefits for those who have diabetes. It can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and strengthen the heart. Strength training, which increases muscle and reduces fat, may be particularly helpful for people with diabetes.

In conclusion…the next time you become frustrated with your lack of ‘results’ on the scales, remember all of the above health benefits of exercise and remember to take a long term, holistic approach. Exercise (and diet!) is not something we do for a short stint to reshape our backside, it needs to become part of our general body maintenance. You don’t necessarily ‘see’ a result from brushing your teeth everyday, but you continue to do it as you know it is a significant part of care and maintenance. Regular exercise is no different.

 

THE EVIDENCE IS BUILDING … ARE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS MAKING US FAT?

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After a recent trip to Los Angeles – the mecca of Diet Sodas – I have never observed so many overweight and obese people consuming bottomless buckets of Diet Coke. In every cafe, the selection of sweetener sachets presents a virtual rainbow of choice. The demand is higher than I’ve ever seen and I believe the consequences are becoming increasingly obvious.

Over the years, a large majority of people I’ve met who are constantly battling with their weight are ‘addicted’ to diet soft drinks and other forms of artificial sweetener and ‘diet’ foods. This association has been building in my mind over recent years, but it appears now the evidence is beginning to materialise.

We now know that gut flora plays a significant role in our overall health as well as weight control. Individuals with poor gut flora actually absorb more calories from food than those with a good balance of healthy flora.

Recently, Israeli researchers have demonstrated, in animals and humans, that the effect of artificial sweeteners on changing the gut bacteria has a profound role in changing metabolism, especially the metabolism of sugar. These researchers have been able to induce diabetes in lab animals, simply by feeding them artificially sweetened foods. They then were able to characterise the changes in the gut bacteria. Even more profound was their research that demonstrated that by taking fecal specimens from the animal that had been exposed to artificial sweeteners like aspartame, and transplanting these fecal specimens into laboratory animals that did not have gut bacteria, the risk for diabetes was also increased.

Over coming years we’re likely to see more and more advertising for artificially sweetened beverages as the news related to the dangers of sugar sweetened beverages gets more traction. This should in no way be interpreted as giving the green light for artificially sweetened beverages as we now see science demonstrating that risk of some of our most devastating medical conditions is actually increased with their consumption.

 

To green juice or not to green juice?

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While juicing has been around for eons, the latest craze has now gravitated towards the even ‘healthier’ pressed, whole juice. The concept makes some sense – stop extracting the pure sugar from your favourite plant foods (forsaking fibre and flooding your system with sugar) and opt for a pureed version of the whole food … complete with all the ‘goodies’.
Pressed (whole) juice is now the beverage of the moment. Celebrities drink it. So do fitness fanatics, yoga disciples and vegans. They’re guzzling raw vegetable drinks to “cleanse” their bodies, consume more veggies and shed unwanted kilos. On the surface, it seems that firing up your Nutribullet is the easiest way to consume copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit. It makes for a fast breakfast, lunch on-the-run or snack, and it’s healthy. Right?

Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the facts…

Problem #1

One of the major issues with any form of juicing (whole or otherwise), is that you are condensing the volume of fibrous plant foods, allowing consumption in quantities beyond your natural capacity. If you piled the hefty contents of your Nutribullet onto a plate prior to blending, it’s unlikely you’d manage to consume it all in its whole state before your stomach sent a signal to your brain that you’ve had your fill. With the absence of chewing your food and the consequent gradual release of saliva and associated enzymes, much of the digestive process, which nature has perfected, is lost.

Digestion of carbohydrates (including all veggies & fruit) begins in your mouth when mixed with saliva. If you do not chew your food, saliva doesn’t have an opportunity to do its job. Saliva contains special enzymes and antibacterial properties. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which breaks down starch into simpler, digestible sugars such as maltose and dextrin.  About 30 percent of starch digestion takes place in your mouth and these enzymes also play a role in protecting teeth from decay. Saliva also contains a potent form of the enzyme lipase which is essential for fat digestion.

Problem #2
The high vitamin K content in a spinach/kale smoothie, for example, can be life-threatening if you take blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. Such anticoagulants often are prescribed after a stroke, deep vein thrombosis or other circulatory conditions. Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard and parsley contain enough vitamin K per cup to lower the drugs’ anti-clotting activity.

If you’re one of the many millions of people taking cholesterol-lowering statins, stay away from grapefruit. The citrus fruit blocks an intestinal enzyme that controls absorption of some statin drugs. You’ll also face a higher risk of muscle and joint pain, muscle breakdown, liver damage and kidney failure if you drink grapefruit juice, or eat the fruit, while taking statins. Grapefruit also can interfere with drugs for high blood pressure, anxiety, allergies and other ailments.
If you have kidney problems, beware of fruit and vegetable juices with high amounts of potassium, such as bananas and kale. Four cups of chopped kale can be lethal if your kidneys are weak due to high blood pressure, severe infection, an enlarged prostate, certain drugs or pregnancy complications.

Green juice & thyroid function:
Kale, bok choy, cauliflower, collards and spinach are rich in the substance thiocyanate, which in very high concentrations, can interfere with adequate iodine nutrition. The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone, and thus exposure to very high amounts of thiocyanate can potentially result in hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and compensatory growth of the thyroid (goiter). Your thyroid function is responsible for your metabolism, so a reduced production can result in numerous health issues, including excess fat gain. The risks may be exacerbated in individuals who are already iodine deficient, and these may include those with restricted diets, such as vegetarians and vegans.

Australia is known to have very low levels of iodine in our soil, hence the reason much of our salt is now ‘iodised’ and ‘iodised salt’ is now compulsory in commercial bread production.  Adequate iodine nutrition is particularly important in women of child-bearing age and their children, given the importance of iodine and normal thyroid function on the developing brain in young infants.

Eating whole greens in their usual amounts will not be a significant contributor toward thyroid disorders.
Problem #3

Juice cleanses don’t work!
We clean out our houses, our lint filters and cars. So why not our insides? That’s the reasoning behind juice cleanses, which are intended to rid your body of ‘toxins’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – FORGET IT! The practice is a waste of your time and money, not to mention potentially detrimental to your health. Your body is not like the filter in your clothes dryer. It doesn’t need ‘cleansing.’ Our bodies have their own elaborate, complex and very efficient detoxification system, known as the liver, intestines and kidneys.  It’s physiologically incorrect to think the body can’t detox on its own … or that an elaborate regime of starvation plus juice will do the job for you!

In the process of ‘detoxing’, you’re actually starving your body of essential nutrients, potentially causing loss of bone, tooth decay from the sugary juices and loss of valuable lean muscle tissue, not to mention the additional stress of being hungry and the headaches (often touted as the effect of rampant toxins!) caused by the blood sugar rollercoaster. Which, by the way, stimulates further fat storage!

Problem #4
Juices can be calorie bombs!
If you’re downing up to 2 litres of juice a day to lose weight – which many fasts recommend – stop! Juicing for days to lose weight can be potentially harmful. That’s because you’re losing out on important nutrients.  And don’t expect to get slimmer. In fact, you might gain weight, because you’re consuming more calories than you realise – mostly from naturally occurring sugar in the fruits and vegetables. Some juices and smoothies are more caloric than a meal. Consume too many, and you can end up with a few thousand calories of juice a day and still be unsatisfied.
Problem #5

You’re depriving yourself of protein.
Juice (pressed or otherwise) is not a meal replacement. A 70kg person needs a minimum of 70 grams of protein daily to repair cells and create new ones. Protein also preserves and builds lean body mass, stabilises blood sugar and create satiety, which supports health and even burns calories. Fruits and vegetables [alone] are not a great source.

Diet soft drinks – Friend or Foe?

soft drink photoDiet soft drinks began way back in 1952, when a New York-based company launched a sugar-free ginger ale called No-Cal. This was created with Diabetics in mind, not dieters. Over the next few decades, several other companies began to compete in this arena and, in 1963, the Coca-Cola Company joined in with the launch of the cyclamate and saccharin sweetened ‘Tab’. In 1982 our very own Elle Macpherson strutted her stuff on the very famous TV commercial. This was closely followed by the release of Diet Pepsi in the 1960’s. Over the years there have been numerous reformulations of these diet drinks due to the banning of certain sweetening agents and their links to ill health and disease (in the case of cyclamates, the FDA banned them on evidence they caused cancer in lab rats). These days most are still sweetened with aspartame (Nutrasweet) or a combination of several different artificial sweeteners.

It’s interesting … while there have been rumblings about the potential health risks of diet soft drinks for many years now (regular drinkers have a 43% increased risk of stroke and heart attack and other vascular problems), it’s not until you hear that your risk of gaining weight is increased by 54.5% with just 1-2 cans a day that the majority of the soda drinking population prick their ears up! Let’s explore this further…

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Forget Weight – What’s your body composition?

Why is it useful to measure your body composition?

Body composition describes the different components that make up our total body weight. It’s the ratio between our stored body fat and lean body weight (muscle, bone, organs … everything other than fat). Our Lean Body Weight (LBW) is metabolically active and fat (adipose) tissue is not. Our body composition determines our health, tone, shape, performance, strength, metabolic rate and overall appearance.

Bathroom scales provide a measure of total weight, but don’t determine what that weight is composed of. Based only on scale weight, a 90 kilo athlete with less than 10% body fat may be considered obese by a typical weight chart. This also includes Body Mass Index (BMI) measures for the same reason. While BMI combined with waist circumference gives some indication of our physical condition, it is not as accurate as body composition.

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If you want to lose a kilo a day…read on!

It’s the nature of our fast-paced lifestyle. We all want to lose weight and we’d like it to happen yesterday. This burning desire is what keeps weight loss books, products and pills thriving.

Now I know you were all excited when you read the headline on this blog. You, like millions of others, are still looking for the magic carpet ride to a better body.

The good news is that you will get amazing results in a timely manner if you follow my program. The bad news is that while it’s possible to lose ‘weight’ quickly, it is not possible to lose ‘body fat’ quickly. Burning body fat requires a physiological process, which means you have to be in debt 7,700 calories to shed one kilogram of stored body fat. To put this into perspective, you burn around 300 calories in an hour of walking.

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Metabolic Suicide – The Recovery Mission

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Reality television shows are earning top ratings by flaunting the dramatic weight loss of individuals desperate enough to endure punishing diet and exercise regimes.

Next time you hear someone moaning about a super restrictive diet, understand that it isn’t just a hissy fit. It’s real. The emotional and physical torment of deprivation challenges the very core of human nature and its inherent survival instincts.

Each time you jump from low carbs to low fat to low calories to high protein you are harming yourself. No-one wants to be fat and it’s great to become pro-active about getting in shape but we have to wise up about how it’s done. It won’t happen with fads, starvation or anything that even resembles torture but by re-booting your metabolism, it will happen and the best news is that it can stay that way. Diets which restrict calories too far may cause a reduction in weight but it almost always causes a reduction in metabolism. Once you begin on this downhill spiral, you are entering a destructive cycle where it is virtually impossible to lose fat without starving and over-exercising.

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Muscle: Your Most Valuable Asset

Are you one of the thousands of Australians enthusiastically pounding the pavement to work off some of that extra winter-flab? Before you take another step, you need to know

Why we need muscles for fat loss

There has been an urban legend floating around for decades now that we must start a fat-loss regime with plenty of aerobic exercise to strip off the excess lard before tackling the weight-training for tone and shape. After all, muscle builds ‘bulk’ and your goal is to reduce your size, right?  But like many urban legends, this too is utter twaddle!

While aerobic exercise burns calories during execution, our participation is commonly restricted by both time and energy. Even if you were able to walk or run daily for an hour, what about the other twenty-three hours in your day? This is where strength training comes in.

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Understanding Dieting Methods and Fat Loss

[extract: ‘Fat or Fiction’]

Use your intellect and you won’t need willpower!

How to detect a ‘rip off’ weight loss plan

If a weight loss program prescribes a reduction in calories below your BMR as well as:314

  • no exercise or physical effort
  • unrealistic promises of fast weight loss or
  • sales of the latest cream, pill or potion,

you can be confident that it is a scam! Such ‘magical’ programs will not only disappoint you through lack of promised results, but they may also harm your health, not to mention burning a hole in your pocket.

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