Sunday, October 28, 2018

How Much Exercise Does It Take to Burn Off Halloween Candy?

In the big picture of weight loss it is not what we do on the occasional holiday that really determines our weight it is the week in week out eating and drinking habits that determine our weight.   That being said if you are not careful you can eat/drink a ton of calories in one day which then turns into weeks of too many calories during the holidays starting with Halloween.

The key is to plan and know what you are eating!   Candy can be confusing because of all the different snack sizes that are so prevalent during Halloween.      It is very easy to assume because you are eating snack size candy that it is not that bad, and this is true if you are not eating too many pieces!    Before you eat candy see how many calories you are eating – it takes less than a minute to google calorie, sugar, and fat content for just about any common Halloween Candy.

Here are some examples:

Nestle’s Crunch Bar (60 calories)               6 minutes of brisk aerobic exercise to burn off!

Kit Kat Bar (70 calories)                             8 minutes of brisk aerobic exercise to burn off!

4 Snickers Mini Bar (170 calories)             18 minutes of high intensity exercise to burn off!

Full Size Twix Bar (80 calories)                 6 minutes of continuous kettlebell swings to burn off!

4.2 Oz Candy Corn (450 calories)              4 – 5 miles of walking to burn off!

2 Peanut Butter Cups (210 Calories)          2 miles of running to burn off!

So eating a little candy is no big deal, BUT if you are not watching how many pieces/containers you eat you can quickly rack up a ton of calories that would take more than an hour of vigorous exercise to burn off!

Plan your candy intake and know what you are going to eat and enjoy it!   The other key is have candy after a meal so you are not really hungry – candy and hunger make for a really bad combination!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Your Genes are NOT your Destiny!

We all see and experience the reality of  how genes from our parents produce specific characteristics such as eye color, hair color, height, weight, etc.     Based on this experience most of us conclude that our genes determine our destiny, but is that really true?    The short answer is an emphatic NO.      While there are genetically determine characteristics that not alterable and fixed from birth, gene expression is actually quite variable and changes based on your lifestyle.

The process of gene expression is what determines which genes are actually expressed by cells in your body.     The key to gene expression is epigenetics which consists of physiological mechanisms that silence or activate genes, and encompasses process which alter gene function without changing the sequence of nucleotide base pairs of our DNA.       There are many such physiological processes which are activated by changes in our environment caused by many factors including exercise, diet, medications, sunlight, smoking, meditation, etc.  

All of your lifestyle choices play into your risk of disease through epigenetics.   Nearly all cancers, respiratory illnesses, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular disease are controlled through epigenetic changes.     Simply put – genes load the gun but the environment (your lifestyle) pulls the trigger!

Most disease-causing gene expression is activated by epigenetic factors meaning you CAN control it!   In fact, the Centers for Disease Control states that genetics account for only 10% of diseases.

Transgenerational Inheritance of Epigenetic Change

Amazingly epigenetic changes that occur in one generation can be passed down to future generations.     For example, it is known that changes in fertility initially causes by chemical exposure caused epigenetic changes can be handed down to the next generation.     This is also true of traumatic experiences.   

Characteristics of a parent’s sensory environment that occur before conception can remodel the sensory nervous system and neuroanatomy in future conceived generations.    An example of this is the fact that descendants of holocaust survivors show abnormal stress hormone levels which put them at greater risk for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Lifestyle Choices Count for you AND the next Generations

Realize that the air we breathe, the food we eat, the thoughts we allow, the toxins to which we are exposed, and the experiences we undergo may be passed on to our descendants.  Our genes are not our destiny – the choices we make are!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fiber and Brain Health

Yep – you read that right – fiber intake can help improve brain health!   New research shows that consuming optimal amounts of fiber on a regular basis reduces inflammation.   As mammals age, brain immune cells known as microglia become chronically inflamed.   These cells then respond by producing chemicals that impair cognitive and motor functions.     

Fiber intake inhibits the production of these harmful chemicals.    This is thought to occur because when fiber gets into your intestines bacteria metabolize it and produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) and in particular one called Butyrate which reduces inflammation of the microglia cells in the brain.

The key to reaping the benefits of optimal fiber intake is eating the right sources of fiber because not all fiber is created equal.   Great sources of fiber include organic whole husk psyllium, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds as well as broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and onions.   Other good sources including pears, prunes, dried figs and dates, almonds, and apples with the skin intake. 

Certain high fiber foods can cause some issues in certain people including beans and lentils that have high levels of lectins which are part of certain plants self-defense mechanisms.   It is also important to eat organic versions of fiber because many vegetables are sprayed with Round-up which is a known cancer-causing agent.   Round-up aka Glyphosate is heavily sprayed on all non-organic grains which means that unless you choose organic forms you are likely doing your brain as much harm as good because of the chemical load you are exposing it to when consuming non-organic grain products!

How much fiber should you be eating?

The RDA for fiber is 25 grams for woman and 38 grams per day for men with the vast majority of Americans eating less than half this amount!     When upping fiber intake do it gradually and remember to take in plenty of water with the fiber to prevent issues.   For most of us this level of intake will take a conscious effort to eat more high fiber foods and an organic psyllium supplement in your shake can be a great way to up your fiber intake.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Is Creatine Safe for your Kidneys?

If you are a regular gym-goer, chances are you have heard of creatine.    Creatine is one of a few supplements that have proven to improve your ability to lift weights and build and maintain muscle.  However, it does boost levels of creatinine which must be excreted by your kidneys.

To answer the question of whether or not creatine supplementation can damage kidneys let’s take a look at what creatine does in the body.    Your muscles, brain, heart, and many other tissues use creatine to regenerate Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is THE energy currency for ALL cells.   

Cells are constantly generating ATP because it cannot be stored, and there are several different cellular pathways used to insure there is a constant supply of ATP to keep the cell alive.   When you are doing any kind of resistance training and training to momentary muscular failure the muscle cells have to generate a lot of energy very quickly and they use creatine heavily to continue to generate ATP to do the work.

Having adequate creatine is crucial for resistance training and creatine supplementation has conclusively been shown to be HIGHLY effective for resistance training, increasing strength, and building muscle.

A by-product of creatine in the cell’s energy cycle is creatinine which must be excreted by the kidneys.  Creatinine levels are the most commonly used indicator of kidney function:  in general, if your levels are high – there is an issue with your kidney function.

Muscles contain more than 90% of your creatine stores, so the more muscle you have, and the more you use that muscle, the more creatinine you produce.   And so it should not be too surprising that supplemental creatine increases your blood levels of creatinine beyond the normal range.

But does that fact that supplemental creatine increases creatinine mean it is causing damage to your kidneys?   The short answer is that in anyone with healthy kidneys the answer is a definitive NO!   Creatine supplementation has been studied both short and long and term and there is no evidence it will cause any harm in anyone with healthy kidneys, and evidence shows there is no adverse effects on kidneys.

Healthy people can get all the performance enhancing benefits of creatine with just 3 – 5 grams per day and there may be some benefit to taking up to 10 grams for short intervals.   However, this higher dose may cause false positive in creatinine blood tests.

For people with kidney issues it is best to avoid creatine supplements altogether to be on the safe side. 
Creatine and Vegetarians

Supplementing with creatine can be highly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans because the only way you obtain it through your diet is eating meat.   When a group of vegetarians supplemented with creatine for 8 weeks, they had a big increase in bench press strength and whole-body muscle mass!

Creatine and Improved Brain Function

Yes – you read that right!   Creatine supplementation can improve brain function.   

A 6-week placebo-controlled, cross-over trial concluded thatCreatine supplementation had a significant positive effect (p < 0.0001) on both working memory (backward digit span) and intelligence (Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices), both tasks that require speed of processing. These findings underline a dynamic and significant role of brain energy capacity in influencing brain performance.