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Fitness, Exercise and Weight Management

Events That Led to The Obesity Crisis

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The obesity crisis was not caused by a single factor. Unfortunately, like the perfect storm, many events come together in sequence to result in this  health emergency tidal wave;  Such is the #ObesityCrisis.

To date, the obesity crisis and our lack of understanding has destroyed the quality of life of millions of Americans.  The lack of:

  • Nutrition education – What the body needs and gets from different foods – energy, macronutrients, and micronutrients
  • Biological functions – How the body works to achieve homeostasis – energy balance.

This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to achieve a healthy weight for the long term.  Don’t take my word for it, review the scientific evidence of @KevinHall, PhD. Kevin is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK).  What is significant about Kevin is he is the Section Chief of Integrative Physiology Section, Laboratory of Biological Modeling.   @BonnieLiebman, MS is an author, and Director of Nutrition at the #CenterForScienceInThePublicInterest (CSPI).  Bonnie interviewed Kevin and published in the #NutritionActionHealthLetter (a publication of CSPI) – How Did We Get Here? July/August 2018 Volume 45 No. 6; pg. 3 – 5 print.

The Basic Science of Human Weight Management

Normally, 2 key hormones work against each other to control our weight:

  • Leptin (the starvation hormone) – Main function is long-term regulation of the body’s energy supply. Leptin signals the brain to stimulate or suppress appetite and alter the burn rate of stored energy. When we lose body, fat leptin stimulates appetite and reduces stored energy burn rate. Weight gain triggers the opposite series of events (eat less burn more).
  • Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) – signals the brain when to start and when to stop eating. It is released by the stomach, and other glands.  #LeptinVsGhrelin

The Calm Before the Storm (Before 1970):

  • Leptin and ghrelin went about their business of cooperating to control our body weight
  • Families ate at home more than at restaurants and at other eateries; additionally high food prices and family size prevented excessive eating
  • Families were more physically active (work & play – virtually no access to computers)

The Storm is Energized by Key Players (1970):

  • President Nixon became aware of complaints about the rising cost of food. Consequently, he directed the USDA to fix the problem.
  • The USDA initiated policy to subsidize farming to stimulate yield of basic foods like corn and soybeans.
  • The farmers subsequently increased the production of corn, soybean, and other crops. This caused a drop in the price of basic foods that became major ingredients in the processed food supply.
  • The manufacturers of processed foods employed food scientists, and engineers to develop ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup to enhance “Ultra-Processed” food products that were:
    • Great tasting – Food scientists are better cooks than mom and granny; they mastered the ideal combination of salt, sugar, fat, and flavor additives to increase flavor, (and unfortunately calories). This development triggered a super-normal appetite.  #BlissPoint
    • More Stable – The addition of extra salt, high-fructose corn syrup and other technologies helped foods last longer in unrefrigerated settings like store shelves and homes.
    • Cheaper – Consumers enjoyed more food at lower prices, and consequently began to eat more meals away from home.
    • More Convenient – Less cooking required. Heat and serve made busy lives more manageable.

 

  • Powerful Food Advertising That Target Children – Drove consumption of unhealthy foods high in carbs/sugar, salt, and fats resulting in consumers:
    • Eating the foods that are most profitable”. #WeightOfTheNation
    • Eating more at restaurants, and dining halls
    • Buying more heat and serve food products.
    • Snacking more on delicious high calorie food products
  • Physical activity continues to be inadequate in burn off the significant increase of calories consumed.

The Abyss of Overweight and Obesity

Overweight, and obesity  significantly increases the risk for preventable  illness, disability, and premature death:

  • 34 million people of all ages (9.4%) had diabetes in 2015
  • 1 million people (33.9%) were estimated to have prediabetes
  • 2 million suffered from cardiovascular disease – coronary heart disease, Stroke, heart attack, etc. in 2015. (CDC)
  • 40% of all cancers diagnosed are associated with overweight and obesity. (CDC)

What About Dieting, Exercising, and Wishing?

The casual observer may interpret Kevin Hall’s weight loss research as leptin and ghrelin appearing to have gone rogue. But, in actuality, these two hormones have not deviated from their mission:  To prevent our bodies from quickly losing weight. However, the super tasty and fragrant food products have given rise to our super-appetites.  To counter the weight gain brought on by our super-appetites, we continue trying a variety of weight loss programs.  Unfortunately, as we work to lose extra fat pounds, leptin and ghrelin work against our goals.  So, as our fat level drops, leptin level drops and ghrelin level rises. Also, leptin helps to decrease the rate at which we lose weight (burn fat;, pausing at the dreaded ‘plateau’Spoiler alert: Hunger is a tough sensation to ignore.

Kevin Hall’s experimentation and modeling revealed that, “when people were losing body fat weight, their appetites increased by about 45 calories per day (above baseline) for every pound of weight that they lost”. To make weight loss more difficult, leptin reduces the rate at which a person burns fat weight.

Again, Kevin cites that, “the number of calories that they were burning went down by between 10 and 15 calories per day for every pound of weight they lost”.  This means if you lost 10 pounds, the average person would burn 100 to 150 less calories per day. Keep in mind that burning 3500 calories equals 1 pound lost. It is going to take time to lose weight. Prepare your mind for this reality.

Climbing Out From the Abyss

Currently, there are no miracles for achieving persistent weight loss. Losing weight and keeping it off is difficult for most mortals.  There are many suggestions, products, and practices on the internet that promise to help us easily lose weight.  Sadly, many of these plans are not based on scientific evidence. Consequently, most are doomed to failure, and may harm the individual. Search the WEB for ‘fen-Phen’ heart valve crisis.

Some uncontrollable factors that drive weight gain and obesity.

  • Genetics
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Prescribed medications

But, for those of us who are lucky enough to carry excess fat weight that we can shed; must work at it (plan-do-measure-repeat). We must learn to eat differently for a lifetime.  We must sacrifice a little or a lot due to our eating traditions, habits, and the uncontrollable factors. Some of us must suffer to some degree, depending on our level of obesity.

Sustained self-managed weight loss requires persistent commitment that ranges from eating differently to experiencing gastric by-pass surgery and its potential complications. And, even then post-surgery patients must eat differently before and after the surgery or suffer consequences. We must understand that healthy eating requires that we provide our bodies all the macro and micronutrients it needs to function properly. #PortionControl #PrecisePortions.com

Failure to persist in losing excess weight [based on body mass index (BMI)] and keeping it off increases the risk of developing debilitating diseases like:

  • Type 2 diabetes (leading to cardiovascular disease)
  • High blood pressure (leading to stroke)
  • Types of cancers

To fight obesity, all of us who are committed to community health have a crucial role to play in empowering consumers to follow effective and sustainable weight loss strategies.  At the same time, consumers need to hold themselves responsible to attempt only evidence-based strategies to achieve self-managed weight control.

Let us all continue the conversation to help:

  • Alert public awareness to the forces driving #overeating and #obesity
  • Reduce the increasing rate of obesity in the USA, and the world
diet plates portion control

Fitness and Healthy Eating

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  • Ensure you are eating at least 3 servings from each of the five food groups – see our food chart in another article.
  • Eating food that is high in fiber i.e. grains, fruits and vegetables are good for you. Apart from giving wholesome nutrients, it ensures you are not constipated.
  • Combine your food with low-fat milk and low cholesterol cooking oil.
  • Make dramatic reductions in the quantum of salt and sugar (even sugar substitutes are dangerous because they serve to confuse the body due their ‘emptiness’.)
  • If you must, then drink in moderation
  • Eating all your healthy meals including breakfast is essential and have them on time Everytime.
  • Eating tiny meals (fruits or nuts or sandwich) every two hours and reducing the portion sizes of your lunch and dinner is ideal.
  • Eat and chew slowly concentrating on your food. Savor its flavor and taste.
  • Using portion control plates and portion control scoopers is smarter than using normal plates (except of course, when you have guests at the dining table). Use portion control plates for all your family members including your kids because portion control plates are about eating the right quantities of all foods.
  • Unless you have taken less than the recommended quantum of healthy food, don’t go for seconds.
  • Bake, broil or grill food instead of frying.
  • Obtain the bulk of your protein from vegetables rather than meats. And when it comes to meats, select fresh lean meat cuts from your local butcher.
  • Strollers and prams are okay but also let your infant roam around the house – let it use its arms and legs as much as possible
  • Make sure your kids get to play outside for no less than one hour each day. Try and join them in their games.
  • Plan weekly family outings such as rough terrain biking, swimming in the sea, badminton, baseball, tennis, and so on. Even hula hoops are good.
  • If you have a jogging track nearby take your family for a jog thrice a week.
  • Make physical activity a part of the family fun activities.
portion control dinner plate

Fitness and Weight Management

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Fitness and Weight Management

What is weight management?

Weight management is all of these things:

  • Attempt to lose fat without losing muscle.
  • Attempt to gain muscle without gaining fat.
  • Attempt to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
  • Eating a nutritionally perfect diet that complements your weight management effort.
  • Practicing a lifestyle that complements your weight management effort.

The reality is that most people are not seriously overweight. Their body might have developed some unwanted, attention-grabbing bulk, and has gone soft and spongy losing a lot (if not all) of its tone and firmness. Fitness and weight management is science, art and technique all rolled into one that enables you to achieve your end goal, be it to lose fat or to maintain your current weight and hold onto every ounce of precious muscle that you currently have.

Is the “Biggest Loser” program on TV a lot of hot air then? Most of us have seen these so called ‘Biggest loser’ reality show/ weight loss contests. Obese people drop huge and we really mean huge amounts of weight – like 10 to 20 lbs in a week!! Now compare this to a real fitness and weight management program – you’d be lucky to drop a pound in the first week. Most people equate a drop in weight with success. Not many of us stop to consider the difference between fat weight or muscle weight or even weight of water loss or loss of weight due to loss of bone density that occurs due to dangerous levels of starvation or eating unbalanced diets.

The problem with weight loss contests, especially the popular diet and fitness programs on TV is that they’re obsessed with the weighing scale. You rarely see any discussion on body mass composition i.e. fat-to-muscle ratio. The ideal scenario is when the contestants drop a lot of fat without any drop in the muscle – these would be the real winners. Winners are also those who maintain their weight but have substantially reduced the fat in their body i.e. a tremendous improvement in their body composition. The obsession with the weighing machine as the ultimate judge has to stop because it is downright dangerous. Fitness and weight management therefore is all about TRANSFORMATION – it’s about either losing fat without loss of any muscle or LOSING FAT and ADDING MUSCLE. The scale has minimal role to play.

So don’t calories matter any more? Of course they do – but not in as simplistic a manner as the TV host makes it out to be. Calories do matter, but it’s much more complicated than simple addition and subtraction because there are things like hormonal fluctuations and “energy partitioning” that need to be taken into account. These differ from individual to individual and it takes in-depth professional knowledge to figure these things out which is why we say you should consult your doctor, a good nutritionist and a qualified physical fitness trainer before you embark on a body transformation plan. Remember also, there are no miracles here. Assuming you have been faithful and dedicated to the program chalked out for you, give yourself at least six months to see any changes. This is the right way to do it.

healthy eating food chart

Healthy Eating and Fitness go Hand-in-Hand

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Healthy Eating and Fitness go Hand-in-Hand

It is common knowledge that healthy eating and fitness of the body is the secret to good health and longevity. But, due to our hectic lifestyles, we often ignore this simple truth and end up feeling tired with hardly any energy to make it through the day. But if you truly wish to change this bad situation for the better, there is hope. There are a number of ways in which you can fit healthy eating in your busy schedule and undo years of self-indulgence.

An unbalanced diet or one deficient in essential nutrients will make you feel weak, lethargic and reduce your performance to below par.  Healthy eating and fitness go hand-in-hand. Nutritionists will tell you that you must eat right to look and feel healthy as well as have the energy to lead an active lifestyle. They will also tell you that a balanced diet is the key to reclaiming your health and to do this you must eat a variety of foods from the different food groups. Your daily diet should include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk and dairy products, meats, poultry and eggs.

Fitness depends on healthy eating and to get the right nutritional value from food you must follow a diet that is rich in fiber. Select foods that have high fiber content like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Your diet should also be low in fats and cholesterol, so go easy on the cheese, butter and margarine. Instead, choose low-fat dairy products and use unsaturated fats like olive and canola oil in your cooking. Meats are a great source of protein but ensure that you eat lean meats so that you don’t consume unwanted fats.

Healthy eating is what fitness is all about and your daily trips to the fast food joint would obviously have to happen no more than once a month. Food from restaurants and takeaways is high in sodium, saturated fats and low in fiber – not a healthy diet if you wish to keep fit. Healthy eating also means limiting your sodium and sugar intake as well as taking alcoholic drinks in moderation. Above all, drink plenty of water (at least 8 glasses a day) to keep your body hydrated. Water also helps to move the nutrients throughout your body and flush out the toxins.

The first step to healthy eating and fitness involves a change in food as well as eating behavior. Don’t skip meals – eat three large meals and a couple of mini meals each day. Most of us tend to skip breakfast which is the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast increases the metabolism and gives you the energy to start off your day. Also, eating a series of meals through the day ensures that your stomach is not empty, thus preventing you from overeating at meal time.

For the food to be assimilated well it is necessary to take time to enjoy your food, so eat and chew slowly. Eating food in the right quantity is an essential part of healthy eating and in turn, fitness. Watch those portions or better still, use portion control plates and scoopers to make it easier to get the right amount of essential nutrients the body needs.

Healthy eating should be balanced with exercise to achieve fitness of the body as well as the mind. Making a conscious effort to eat healthy foods and being disciplined enough to exercise at least twice or thrice a week will help with your fitness program.

diabetes portion control chart

Healthy Eating and Exercise Plan

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Healthy Eating and Exercise Plan

Getting started on healthy eating and exercise plan

Healthy eating is about creating a healthy eating plan that meets all your daily caloric needs (roughly 1,800 – 2,000 calories). Most people assume that eating healthy is all about eating adequate servings from each of the five food groups. This would be true in a general sense but there would be minor nutrition variations from individual to individual. Ditto for exercise plans – we are each unique and so much have an exercise and fitness plan that is customized for us. For these reasons, we recommend you consult three people; your doctor who will check your state of health and approve or disapprove certain types of exercise, an experienced and well known nutritionist who will take your lifestyle into account before creating a customized diet plan for you and you need to talk to a well known and qualified fitness instructor who will take your current physical fitness and lifestyle into account before creating a customized exercise plan for you. If you do not know any nutritionist or fitness instructor, talk to your doctor and ask him or her to recommend a nutritionist and fitness instructor for you. The local gym and aerobics centers too might have some qualified nutritionist and fitness instructors working there.

Why we need to exercise

Eating, working (or keeping yourself busy) and exercising are three parts of the fitness pyramid. Exercising is no longer considered optional – it is a must! Experts have lost too much time in recommending exercise for all. A car that simply sits in your garage for years on end will gather rust and be useless when you need it. So just as the car needs to be used, so too our muscles. You do not want to be caught in a life threatening situation where you need to sprint but find you can barely manage a brisk walk let alone sprint. Keep those muscles in tune honey; you might need them some day. If nothing, just keeping them in tune will keep you trim and fit.

If our daily work does not involve adequate physical activity, we need to add it into our lives. Physical activity ensures our heart, lungs, muscles and other organs work in tandem as one unit.

What is Healthy eating?

Healthy eating is a term that simply means eating the right quantities of foods from the five food groups i.e. vegetables and fruit, cereals, milk, fats, meat and poultry. Healthy eating does not refer to some exotic diet to lose weight. It simply refers to eating the right foods in the right quantities at the correct time. The only foods that are not good for you are the junk foods. Everything else is okay.

What is junk food?

Junk food is any food that either contains unacceptable levels of an unhealthy nutrient or chemical. Thus the French fries or burgers or other deep fried food you eat at McDonald’s or elsewhere contain trans-fats – a particularly nasty nutrient that plays havoc within the organs of your body including your heart. Similarly pastries, candies and sodas are overloaded with empty calories i.e. calories with no nutrients – these get converted to fat and getting rid of fat is far from easy. We all love our Chinese food. Unfortunately, most of it tends to be stir fried with lots of cheap oil i.e. fats.

Summary

Avoid junk food, practice healthy eating and exercise regularly. It’s not about living long – it’s about living a life free of diseases and medical complications due to ruined internal organs clogged with fats. Exercise on the other hand, ensures you are physically fit.

healthy foods daily

Healthy Exercise and Eating

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Healthy Exercise and Eating

Exercise is considered such an important part of life that the US Department of Agriculture put it on the Food Guide Pyramid. Healthy exercise and eating complement each other and are absolutely vital to weight loss programs as well as to maintain ideal weight. Regular exercise along with healthy eating improves the quality of life as well as your physical fitness. Additionally, you have a lower risk of chronic ailments like cancer, blood pressure or heart disease if you have a fit body.

If exercising every day of the week is not something that you can manage due to your busy schedules, start small. Walking is the simplest and the easiest form of exercise. Begin by walking for 15 minutes everyday and gradually increase the walking time. Or, you can walk the last block to the office by getting off at one stop earlier, or use the stairs instead of the elevator. Even simple forms of exercise like these will get you physically active.

To be physically fit, apart from exercising regularly it is necessary to follow healthy eating plans. And this of course means you cannot gorge on the junk food available at takeaways and restaurants. Your diet must include fiber-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, fresh and dried fruits as well as nuts and seeds. Also, get your carbohydrates from whole grains. Carbohydrates are a major fuel for the body. In short, include foods like whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice and oatmeal in your daily meals. Your protein sources should be lean meats, poultry with skin removed, fish, egg white, beans and lentils.

A healthy dose of exercise along with a well balanced diet containing a variety of foods from all five food groups should serve to boost your metabolism and give you the energy and vitality you require. Once you begin feeling good about yourself, you will begin to enjoy your exercise sessions and look forward to it. One word of caution here – before embarking on any exercise routine, it is better to consult your doctor. In fact it is a good idea to consult your doctor, nutritionist and physical fitness trainer before you start exercising. They will help you come up with a suitable healthy exercise and eating plan. You will also have to invest some time in yourself and your well being.

After a healthy meal, the way your body feels will dictate your future course of action. Once you start to exercise, you will see that the food intake has a profound effect on your workouts. As you learn to eat healthy and continue with the exercise, you will experience a change in your body – you become more alert, focused and have the energy to take on the day.

However, you might need time to make these changes and sometimes it may be weeks or even months to adopt healthy habits. After all, old habits die hard and it might be a supreme effort to forgo those fries and burgers. But once you succeed in changing your attitude and your habits, your whole perspective towards life will change.

Exercise is considered such an important part of life that the US Department of Agriculture put it on the Food Guide Pyramid. Healthy exercise and eating complement each other and are absolutely vital to weight loss programs as well as to maintain ideal weight. Regular exercise along with healthy eating improves the quality of life as well as your physical fitness. Additionally, you have a lower risk of chronic ailments like cancer, blood pressure or heart disease if you have a fit body.

If exercising every day of the week is not something that you can manage due to your busy schedules, start small. Walking is the simplest and the easiest form of exercise. Begin by walking for 15 minutes everyday and gradually increase the walking time. Or, you can walk the last block to the office by getting off at one stop earlier, or use the stairs instead of the elevator. Even simple forms of exercise like these will get you physically active.

To be physically fit, apart from exercising regularly it is necessary to follow healthy eating plans. And this of course means you cannot gorge on the junk food available at takeaways and restaurants. Your diet must include fiber-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, fresh and dried fruits as well as nuts and seeds. Also, get your carbohydrates from whole grains. Carbohydrates are a major fuel for the body. In short, include foods like whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice and oatmeal in your daily meals. Your protein sources should be lean meats, poultry with skin removed, fish, egg white, beans and lentils.

A healthy dose of exercise along with a well balanced diet containing a variety of foods from all five food groups should serve to boost your metabolism and give you the energy and vitality you require. Once you begin feeling good about yourself, you will begin to enjoy your exercise sessions and look forward to it. One word of caution here – before embarking on any exercise routine, it is better to consult your doctor. In fact it is a good idea to consult your doctor, nutritionist and physical fitness trainer before you start exercising. They will help you come up with a suitable healthy exercise and eating plan. You will also have to invest some time in yourself and your well being.

After a healthy meal, the way your body feels will dictate your future course of action. Once you start to exercise, you will see that the food intake has a profound effect on your workouts. As you learn to eat healthy and continue with the exercise, you will experience a change in your body – you become more alert, focused and have the energy to take on the day.

However, you might need time to make these changes and sometimes it may be weeks or even months to adopt healthy habits. After all, old habits die hard and it might be a supreme effort to forgo those fries and burgers. But once you succeed in changing your attitude and your habits, your whole perspective towards life will change.

portion plates and bowls

Adolescent Weight Management and Fitness

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Adolescent Weight Management and Fitness

Are your kids growing up well? Are they healthy and strong or are they just growing vertically (and often horizontally too)? What are your son’s or daughter’s diet requirements? Are they receiving adequate amount of calories or are you worried they might be gorging on the wrong type of calories i.e. empty calories from sodas or overdoses of calories from junk foods?

As a parent you will probably agree that your child’s diet is quite unpredictable. Without proper supervision our kids will probably avoid entire food groups and only consume what they love i.e. carbohydrates and fats. It is a proven fact that weight and nutrition deficiencies, lack of energy, lack of concentration etc. can all be traced to faulty or imbalanced diet. The solution to the problem is pretty simple – we need to take an active interest in our child’s diet as well as physical activity. Doing so will not only make adolescent weight management and fitness much easier to handle it will also bring about a sense of wellbeing amongst your kids.

Most of us are painfully aware that obesity is of epidemic proportions in this country. This epidemic has resulted in increased incidences of obesity-related disease. An obese child therefore becomes much more susceptible to diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Because obesity is 70 percent genetic and 30 percent dependent upon psychosocial and environmental factors, obese parents often tend to accept their children’s obesity rather than seek to correct it.

Adopting the correct Weight-Loss Strategy

Most of the experts including nutritionists and fitness experts recommend that our obese children be put on a diet and are encouraged to exercise and modify the eating habits. Some may even recommend the occasional use of special medication. Unfortunately, all this often proves to be ineffective for most people suffering from obesity. The popular “mantra” is “eat less, eat right and exercise, exercise, exercise”.

Unfortunately this would be like telling a depressed person to think “happy” thoughts or a diabetic to control diabetics by eating less sugar. Initially all diets do seem to work – not because it is the right strategy but simply due to the fact that on one hand, calorie intake is reduced and on the other hand, more calories are burned through exercise.

All diets are ineffective in the long run. This is because of physiological reasons unique to humans. Here’s what happens; as soon as your child begins to eat less, the decreased calorie intake forces the metabolism to slow down. This is essentially an automatic compensatory response mechanism. Instead, encourage your child to eat the daily requirement of calories from all the food groups. NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. The only foods that need to be removed from the menu are junk and other unhealthy foods.

Along with a correction in the type of food consumed, encourage your child to exercise or a have a high level of physical activity in their daily routine. The results will not be seen overnight but nevertheless, positive results will appear within a month or two. Once your child loses the extra flab, his (or her) self esteem and sense of empowerment will be heightened.