You’ll Look Beautiful on the Outside

Check this article out:

Beauty Might be a Matter of Dietary Makeup

Seriously, it’s quick and entertaining.

Want to have beautiful skin this summer? Forget fake baking, try more fruits and vegetables! The caratenoids that give our produce such a beautiful color may in fact beautify your skin tone as well.

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Exercise Physiology 101

Nerd alert. This post is going to be a little scientific, so lets get physical (as in lets discuss physiology). And if it’s too much, just skip ahead to the “Take Home Messages” at the end to get a very fast run down of everything that I will now take 10 paragraphs to explain…

Nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand because activity demands carbohydrates and fat as fuel, protein to build and maintain muscle, and vitamins and minerals to support energy metabolism and tissue building. And of course you need water to help distribute fuels and hydrate.

Two terms I would like to share with you today are ATP and CP.

ATP: Stands for adenosine triphosphate. This is a form of energy that is available for immediate use in the body. All energy- yielding nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) can enter metabolic pathways to make ATP.  Small amounts of ATP are stored in tissues at all times, even during rest, and in the muscles ATP provides the chemical driving force for contraction (think about how often you are moving your muscles, like always). When an ATP molecule is split, it’s energy is released and the muscle cells channel the energy into mechanical movement or as heat.

CP: Stands for creatine phosphate. CP is made from creatine, a compound found in muscles. This compound can split anaerobically (without oxygen) to release a phosphate and replenish ATP supplies. What this means to you is, this is the short term fuel for our bodies. When we participate in high intense boughts of exercise (like a sprint 100-meter dash) our bodies can use CP to produce energy quick and without oxygen. This energy source however usually last for only a matter of seconds. It also acts as a replenishment for ATP. When your muscles are resting, ATP feeds energy back to CP by giving up one of its phosphate groups to creatine. Therefore, CP is produced during rest by reversing the process that occurs during muscular activity.

Are you sufficiently confused already?

Well think of this. ATP and CP are stored in small amounts in your body. If you tried exercising with zero fuel (aka food, energy, calories, however you want to say it) how long do you think your activity would last? Not so long. So this is why it is important to have adequate food and energy stores to perform well. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins store in our bodies to be utilized during activity.

After you consume carbohydrates, your body stores whatever is not needed right away in a storage form called glycogen. Glycogen is saved or stored in your liver. Your body can then go shopping for energy when you need it. Like when you haven’t eaten for 4 or 5 hours and your body starts needing back up energy, or to sustain ATP production during exercise.

How much carbohydrate a person eats influences how much glycogen is stored. When a person is exercising, glycogen will last depending not only on diet, but also on the intensity of the activity. For example, moderate activities like jogging when breathing is steady and easy, use glycogen stores slowly. But during intense activities, like sprints or races where it may be difficult to “catch your breath, ” glycogen is used up real quick. Usually, a person’s glycogen stores are used as fuel for the first 20 minutes of exercise. After 20 minutes of exercise a person who continues exercising moderately begins to use less and less glycogen and more an more fat for fuel. Have you heard that you don’t start burning fat until 20 minutes into a work out before? Well its absolutely true.

During the first few minutes of utilizing fat as a fuel, your body is calling on free fatty acids circulating in the blood stream. After blood levels fall, the body calls on a hormone epinephrine to signal fat cells to break down and release their stores of triglycerides. Therefore, sustained, moderate activity uses body fat stores as it’s major fuel. So get a good 45 minute to hour work out if you really want to see that fat melt off ya! But in this case, the intensity of the work out also affects the utilization of fat stores, As the intensity of activity increases, fat makes less and less of a contribution to the fuel mixture. A lot of oxygen is needed to break down fat for energy , and if a person is breathing easily during activity, the muscles are getting all the oxygen they need and are able to use more fat. So moral of story, if you want to burn fat, look for activities that require a steady but longer duration. Moderate long distance runs, swimming, and bike rides are good activities. Or any sort of aerobic class or activity that keeps the heart rate pretty moderate.

The longer you train or stick to an activity, the body gets better at permitting the body to draw more heavily on fat for fuel. Also the heart and lungs become stronger and better able to deliver oxygen to muscles at high activity intensities. This explains why sometimes it may take a few months of training and consistent exercising to get your body to start burning fat and to see results. So don’t give up!

Protein is actually not a a major fuel for physical activity. Nonetheless, physically active people need an ample amount of protein in their diets to build muscle and lean tissue. Eating carbohydrates before exercise is needed to prepare your glycogen stores for utilization, but carbohydrate intake coupled with protein after an activity is important to replenish those lost glycogen stores and promote muscles synthesis. Don’t worry, I will dedicate a whole blog to amounts and eating guidelines, but for now it is important to say that it is important to have protein to rebuild muscles.

Only ten percent of the total fuel used during exercise comes from proteins and amino acids, but during activity, muscles turnover amino acids stores much quicker, and protein must be provided at the end of the work out to make sure you have bigger muscles in the end and not wasting ones. Longer work outs, after all the glycogen and fat stores are used, then rely on protein stores. So endurance athletes require the most protein during a work out than any other athlete, even body builders who actually use less protein during an activity. Weird huh?

Quick take home messages:

  • ATP and CP are energy sources in your body. ATP is made aerobically and requires carbohydrates, fat, and protein to produce ample amounts. CP is used to replensih ATP and for short intense energy and does not require oxygen to be utilized.
  • Carbohydrates are your body’s first means to get energy. When you eat carbohydrates, excess amounts are stored as glycogen in your liver to be used for later use and during work outs.
  • Glycogen stores are usually used for the first 20 minutes of a work out, even quicker if the activity is intense.
  • Fat stores are used after 20 minutes of a work out. Longer moderate activities require the use of fat fuels. The longer you train and the greater your lung’s abilities to provide sufficient oxygen, your body will use fat as a major fuel during activity.
  • Protein is needed for recovery and muscles replenishment and building. Protein is used as fuel source only in long duration activities (sport’s games or long runs).
  • And finally,

Prudent Healthy Diet

I came across 12 tips to prudent healthy living in a nutrition book of mine. It sounds so pioneer right, prudent healthy diet? But anyway, the tips are great so I thought I would share with you today:

1. Balance the food you eat with physical activity to maintain or improve your weight. Consume only moderate food portions. Be physically active every day.

2. Eat a nutritionally adequate diet consisting of a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Let the MyPlate Food Guide guide your food choices.

3. Choose a diet moderate in total fat, but low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol.

4. Choose a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, and legumes, which are rich in complex carbohydrates, phytochemicals, and fiber.

5. Choose beverages and foods that moderate your intake of sugars.

6. Choose and prepare foods with less salt and sodium.

7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol.

8. Maintain protein intake at a moderate, yet adequate level, obtaining much of your daily protein from plant sources, complemented with smaller amount of fish, skinless poultry, and lean meat.

9. Choose a diet adequate in calcium and iron. Individuals susceptible to tooth decay should obtain adequate fluoride.

10. Practice food safety, including proper food storage, preservation, and preparation.

11. Avoid excess intake of questionable food additives and dietary supplements.

12. Enjoy your food. Eat what you like, but balance it within your overall healthful diet.

I love this stuff. It’s basically what I have been trying to express in my past 25 blog posts. So much for all that, this is everything you need to know! Especially the last tip. Best advice I could ever offer. So please print this out, hang it on your fridge, and let this be your nutritional mantra til death do us part.

And here is a picture of a kitchen that I very much do like.

Hydrate Yourself

Before we go anywhere with the sports nutrition idea, we must talk about water. Agua. 水. Eau. Wasser. νερό. Acqua. I’m getting too carried away with Google Translate.

Water constitutes about 60% of your body weight and even more for the children. Water does this for us:

  • Maintains the structure of molecules like protein and glycogen (storage form of carbohydrates)
  • Carries nutrients and waste products throughout the body
  • Participates in metabolic reactions
  • Maintains blood volume
  • Aids in body temperature regulations
  • Lubricates our joints, eyeballs, spinal cord, and amniotic sac for all you preggo’s out there
  • Maintains osmotic pressure to balance electrolytes
  • And the most interesting of all (I think at least) is waters ability to support the proper functioning of our senses. Hearing waves are transmitted by fluid in the inner ear. Fluid in the eye is involved in reflection of light. And for taste and smelling senses to function, the foods and odors need to be dissolved in water! Neat!

When we have an inadequate fluid intake our blood becomes concentrated (because the blood has lost the solvent but not the solutes, yay basic science!), our mouths become dry, and the hypothalamus (brain center that controls water balance, temperature regulation, and appetite) initiates drinking behavior. On the flip side when we have drunk  too much the stomach expands and stretch receptors send signals to the brain signal center to stop drinking. You will most likely recognize this when your stomach feels like there is a watermelon in there and you hear sloshing when you walk. Basically, our body has a good way of knowing if we need more water, or if we have had too much.

One thing to be aware of is that thirst drives a person to drink water, but usually this lags behind the body’s actual needs. At this point you may even be close to dehydration. I say this because a lot of people aren’t water lovers. It’s not easy to just grab a glass of cool refreshing agua. So just because you don’t feel thirsty, doesn’t mean you don’t need to be drinking water!

So how much should a person be getting a day? General rule of thumb is you want to get about as many milliliters as calories you eat or expend each day in water. This usually equates to 2-3 liters a day (8-12) cups per day. But I like to tell people to just drink half your body weight in ounces every. single. day. If you are a training athlete or working out in heat, aka sweating a lot, replace the fluids lost!! The only way to do this without getting too scientific, is making sure your urine is clear.

Some other interesting things about water that may be news to you is that:

  • Michaud and others found that men who consumed the most water had a decreased risk of bladder cancer because increased water intake could flush carcinogens from the bladder and colon.
  • Some dietitians believe that increased water intake may help one reduce excess fat in the body-weight control program by increasing the sensation of fullness and suppressing hunger.
  • The more water you consume the less chance you have of developing kidney stones
  • More water = fewer asthma attacks
  • And more water (when replacing soda’s, fruit juices, and coffee) contributes to better dentition!

If you still aren’t convinced and drinking more water is still going to be a drag for you, go out and buy a fun new water bottle! I recommend this to everyone who struggles. It’s nice to have a cute bottle with you all the time and you will be more motivated to drink water when you look so stylish. If that fails, remember that you can get water from food sources as well. Usually the average person gets around 350 ml (~12 oz) of free water from food sources. Especially from melons, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. And if all else fails, go get yourself some of those Crystal Lite® or Propel® flavored water packets. Or the Now® ones if you want to be more “natural.”

CHEERS!

Werk it

That’s right put in werk, move your bum, go wizzerk,

Eat your salad, no dessert, get that man you deserve.

-Kanye West

Well, despite what judgement I may have cast here, I know a lot of people really are interested in getting into shape for summer. The weather is nice, and people are out running, biking, hiking, climbing, and all that good stuff. So I have decided to do a little segment highlighting physical activity, weight loss, and sports nutrition! Hurray! Everyone’s favorite topic! I am mostly excited to include lyrics from The Black Eyed Peas, Pink, and the Ying Yang twins that are relevant and inspirational.

Today I thought I would start out by discussing fitness and it’s health implications. As we all know a calorie is a form or expression of energy. We need to consume calories daily to maintain a balance for the calories our bodies expend each day. Our bodies expend calories in 3 areas: basal metabolism, thermic effect of food, and physical activity.

Here is a helpful pie chart to help you understand what percent of energy is used where. Basal metabolism or resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy our body needs to function. Ya know, like to allow your heart to beat, kidneys to flush, lungs to expand, liver to detox, and eyelids to blink. Typically this takes about 800-1200 calories. Thermic effect of food is the amount of calories needed to digest and break down your meals. Did you know you technically burn calories (aka use energy) to digest what you eat? Nifty! And then there is physical activity, no brainer here, you burn calories when you work out. So can you guess which area is variable? If you guessed physical activity you are correct and please message me your address to redeem your prize! This folks, is why physical activity is important when it comes to weight maintenance. If you are in the market to loose weight, or eat more delicious foods because you love it and don’t want to gain weight, then learn to expend more calories through physical activity!

Some other benefits of physical activity include:

  • More restful sleep. I think more than half of people have sleep problems, so check you PA levels! (physical activity)
  • Nutritional health. Obviously
  • Optimal bone density and body composition
  • Resistance to colds and infectious diseases
  • Strong circulation and lung function
  • Lower risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers
  • Lower incidence and severity of depression and anxiety
  • Stronger self-image
  • A longer quality life!

And if that list isn’t convincing enough, do it for the endorphins. Hormones are the real drugs, let’s get high on life! But seriously, it’s amazing how many people recognize that a good work out is the cure for unhappiness, stress, and anxiety, every single time.

Please visit my favorite website that I have linked to at least 3 times on this blog : choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity to learn more and find out different types of activities from moderate to heavy. The old MyPyramid program also gave these great tips to help you achieve fitness:

EVERY DAY – Be as active as possible

  • Use the stairs
  • Mow grass, rake leaves, garden, shovel snow
  • Walk or bike to class, work, or shops
  • Scrub floors, wash windows (yeah guys, you really should be doing this everyday..)
  • Walk your dog, cat, rabbit, or snake
  • Wash and wax your car (again, this should be a daily routine anyway)
  • Play with children

4-6 DAYS/WEEK- Engage in moderate activity

  • Aerobic actives such as: running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, dancing, power walking, jump roping, roller-blading, rowing, curling, rigorous canoeing, fencing, Insanity©
  • Sports activities such as: soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, football, racquetball, softball, etc.

2-3 DAYS/WEEK- Engage in strength and flexibility activities

  • Sit-ups, push-ups, curl-ups, pull-ups
  • Weight lifting
  • Stretching and yoga
  • Leisure activities such as golfing, bowling, table tennis, horseback riding, dancing in your bedroom, and leisure canoeing

DO SELDOM- Limit sedentary activities

  • Watch TV or movies
  • Leisure computer time
  • (Reading was not on this list, so I guess do that as often as you want…)

Good luck getting started on your fitness ventures! Consider making a SMART goal for yourself and check back often for more sports nutrition tips!

I’m so glad I am an army wife, cuz this is exactly what I look look like…

The Fat Truth

Despite popular belief, losing weight is not a matter of cutting out all the fattening foods in your diet. It’s a simple calories in and calories out balance. If you eat more calories than you burn then you will likely gain weight. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will sometimes loose weight (I say sometimes because it doesn’t always work like that, and that’s a story for another day). But eating fat in your diet does not mean fat on your belly.

Fat has more than double the calorie amount per gram than carbohydrates and protein. 1 gram of fat totals 9 calories where 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein equals 4 calories. And because of this fact, a lot of people choose to cut out fattening foods when dieting because it tends to be an easier way to reduce unwanted calories. Which is true, and great work figuring that out, but why do we even need fat then if it tends to be the first thing to go?

Well it shouldn’t be. The truth is, we need fat. Fats (or lipids as we tend to call them once they are inside and apart of our body) do the following wonderful things:

  • Insulate and protect our organs
  • Provide structure to all our cells (aka a cell wall is made of lipids. I know everyone took 9th grade biology here, do you remember the cell mosaic and these little guys? Yep, phospholipids are fats! So unless you want all your cellular contents spilling out all over the place, you need to eat some fat!)
  • 60% of your brain is made up of fat. Good luck being a smarty pants with only 40% of your brain…
  • Fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, E, K, and D require fat to be absorbed in our bodies.

Even those who have diabetes or insulin resistance who try to combat their condition by switching to low fat or fat-free diets have found adverse effects. Low fat just simply isn’t always the way to go.

So now that you are all convinced that fat is good for you, let’s talk about which food sources really are the best for you. Unsaturated fats are fats that have a double bond break in their carbon chain structure. Notice the double lines between the 6 and 7th C? These fats help to lower risk of heart disease by reducing LDL (the bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (the good cholesterol). Foods would include olives and olive oil, canola oil, avacado, and nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios.

We usually hear mostly about omega-3 oils. (Hint the picture above is an omega-3 fatty acid because the double bond occurs at the third carbon from the “omega” end which is the CH3 end, if anyone cares about organic chemistry…) Omega-3’s are essential, meaning our bodies cannot produce it on it’s own, we must consume it. Omega-3’s can protect your heart from disease, modulate inflammation, support brain function, focus, and memory, alleviate depression, and increase sleep even. Not to brag or anything, but I participated in a omega-3 study evaluating the effect of supplements in reducing pain and promoting happy thoughts. Unfortunately I can’t stick to pill regimens very well and dropped out after 27 days. But I was pain free for 27 days!

Anyways, from unsaturated oils we get ALA, EPA, and DHA. Please don’t ask me to spell out or ever say aloud the full names of these acronyms, thank you. You may have seen DHA on baby formula and supplements. That’s because it is the byproduct from omega-3’s that promotes brain and nervous system development. We get EPA and DHA from fish and other omega-3 products. ALA is a byproduct of omega-6 oils. You can find that in flaxseed oil or meal, pumpkin seeds, tofu, and walnuts.

So if you are confused by all these terms and chemistry jabber, just remember to use olive oil or canola oil for cooking or salad dressings, sprinkle pumpkin seeds or flaxmeal over your oatmeal, smoothies, or soups, have an avocado on your salads and sandwiches, and snack on nuts!

No that we have talked about the good fats, I will hurry up and finish with the not-so-good fats. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol, but saturated fats are found in animal products naturally like meats, milk, and cheese. Even the lean varieties have a bit of saturated fat. But we would never want to recommend cutting out animal products, because we should all know that’s how we get the best protein sources, so eat lean cuts and feel fine about having a little bit of saturated fat in the diet. In fact the recommendation is to have about 10% of your fat from saturated sources.

Trans-fats on the other hand is a synthetic fat made from hydrogenation to make foods more shelf stable. You will find these fats in your bakery items, bagged cookies, fast food, some margarine (please read the label) , and hostess pies. These are totally unnecessary in our diets and in fact, harmful. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. So the recommendation here is, try your hardest to never eat these fats. If you are insistent in cutting our fat from your diet, here is where you do that.

Goodby forever McDonald’s Apple Pie!