Oil & Vinegar: More Nutrition Nonsense

Is there anything that apple cider vinegar and coconut oil can’t do?!

After a long break to move and take care of my newborn, I’m back with more tips and trick to help you out! And today is a fun look at what coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are doing for you. So let’s dive right into the science and science fiction.
The Claims
Here’s the deal with many of the latest fads and crazes. Marketers take some basic science (stuff done in a petri dish) and extrapolate it out to having actual effects in humans. Often times it makes sense on paper but doesn’t work out when it’s actually tested. So what are some of the highly touted test tube trappings of success for oil and vinegar? Well according to some, it’s great for helping prevent heart disease, weight loss, immunity, digestion, dental care, candida (yeast), organ health, and they even have the audacity to say it’s beneficial for those with HIV and cancer. The latter claims are absolutely disgusting to me because these “tips” can not only be harmful, but deadly.
Apple cider vinegar can apparently help you body maintain an alkaline PH level, regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, “detox” you from something, prevent candida overgrowth, ease digestive ailments, help with weight loss, prevent osteoporosis, slow the aging process… somehow, and fight free radical damage. Is there anything that apple cider vinegar and coconut oil can’t do?! Well, the fact that there are so many health claims is the first sign that something fishy is going on.
 
Going Nuts For Coconuts
Lame puns aside, there is a lot of fiction and some truth to the health benefits of coconut oil (CO). First of all, mice aren’t humans and making medical comparisons is not only futile but potentially dangerous (1). That being said, claims that rely on health benefits being seen in mice but not tested in humans (i.e. improvements in heart health) can be tossed out for now (2). Also, because we know that CO is very high in saturated fat, which we know, at least for now, is linked to heart disease (3). As far as weight loss goes, CO consumption isn’t very helpful, to begin with, and isn’t as effective as using olive oil (4). CO is also touted for its MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) which are supposed to all sorts of health benefit. However, CO only contains 4% MCT’s which means that the majority of its fat content will have a major impact on cholesterol status (5). Finally, CO may actually have negative effects on immune function and may cause abdominal distress and diarrhea is some (6).
The news isn’t all bad. CO is delicious, although it has a low smoking point which can be hazardous for us less skilled fry cooks (7). It may also help prevent cavities (8), it’s good for your hair (9), helps with skin health (10), and help prevent dermatitis (11). Finally, CO is expensive. So you may be better off sticking with olive oil if your budget is tight.
Salty About Vinegar
I think someone found an Olympic sized pool of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and decided to invent reasons for people to buy it. Because really, who drinks vinegar?! In any case, ACV is useful in some ways but disgusting for most. First of all, ACV doesn’t help with making your body more alkaline. If it did, you would die! Your body needs to stay between 7.35 and 7.45 pH for your organs to function (12). So as far as the alkaline diet goes, it’s as useful as hot garbage soup. When it comes to weight loss, ACV may actually help! But that might actually be due to nausea caused by vinegar consumption (13). ACV hasn’t been shown to be particularly useful for lowering blood lipid levels and has never been shown to reduce heart disease in humans (14). It’s not helpful when it comes to cancer (15), wound/skin care (16), it’s bad for your teeth (17), no data to support its use as an anti-inflammatory agent, and detoxes are scams so it’s not helpful in that area (18). The good news is that ACV can help with blood glucose control in diabetics (19), but does nothing for your blood sugar in those who are healthy (20).
Oil and Vinegar Have Their Place
When it comes to CO and ACV, their roll in your health is limited and possibly detrimental. A lot of marketing and great salesmanship may have you thinking otherwise, but when it comes to real benefits, the evidence has been found wanting. So when it comes to oil and vinegar, it’s healthiest when accompanying a salad.
As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this week’s subject. If you have any questions or tips related to the post or suggestions for future topics, feel free to contact me anytime.
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Resources
1. Zaragoza, C., Gomez-Guerrero, C., Martin-Ventura, J. L., Blanco-Colio, L., Lavin, B., Mallavia, B., … & Egido, J. (2011). Animal models of cardiovascular diseases. BioMed Research International, 2011.
2. Glukhov, A. V., Flagg, T. P., Fedorov, V. V., Efimov, I. R., & Nichols, C. G. (2010). Differential K ATP channel pharmacology in intact mouse heart. Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology, 48(1), 152-160.
3. Zong, G., Li, Y., Wanders, A. J., Alssema, M., Zock, P. L., Willett, W. C., … & Sun, Q. (2016). Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies. bmj, 355, i5796.
4. Valente, F. X., Cândido, F. G., Lopes, L. L., Dias, D. M., Carvalho, S. D. L., Pereira, P. F., & Bressan, J. (2017). Effects of coconut oil consumption on energy metabolism, cardiometabolic risk markers, and appetitive responses in women with excess body fat. European Journal of Nutrition, 1-11.
5. Karupaiah, T., Tan, C. H., Chinna, K., & Sundram, K. (2011). The chain length of dietary saturated fatty acids affects human postprandial lipemia. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 30(6), 511-521.
6. Wanten, G. J., & Naber, A. H. (2004). Cellular and physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides. Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry, 4(8), 847-857.
7. Boateng, L., Ansong, R., Owusu, W., & Steiner-Asiedu, M. (2016). Coconut oil and palm oil’s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana medical journal, 50(3), 189-196.
8. Peedikayil, F. C., Remy, V., John, S., Chandru, T. P., Sreenivasan, P., & Bijapur, G. A. (2016). Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 6(5), 447.
9. Rele, A. S., & Mohile, R. B. (2003). Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Journal of cosmetic science, 54(2), 175-192.
10. Agero, A. L., & Verallo‐Rowell, V. (2004). P15 A randomized double‐blind controlled trial comparing extra‐virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Contact Dermatitis, 50(3), 183-183.
11. Verallo-Rowell, V. M., Dillague, K. M., & Syah-Tjundawan, B. S. (2008). Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis, 19(6), 308-315.
12. Bonjour, J. P. (2013). Nutritional disturbance in acid–base balance and osteoporosis: a hypothesis that disregards the essential homeostatic role of the kidney. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1168-1177.
13. Darzi, J., Frost, G. S., Montaser, R., Yap, J., & Robertson, M. D. (2014). Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake. International Journal of Obesity, 38(5), 675.
14. Panetta, C. J., Jonk, Y. C., & Shapiro, A. C. (2013). Prospective randomized clinical trial evaluating the impact of vinegar on lipids in non-diabetics. World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases, 3(02), 191.
15. Radosavljević, V., Janković, S., Marinković, J., & Dokić, M. (2003). Non-occupational risk factors for bladder cancer: a case-control study. Tumori, 90(2), 175-180.
16. Rund, C. R. (1996). Non-conventional topical therapies for wound care. Ostomy/wound management, 42(5), 18-20.
17. Willershausen, I., Weyer, V., Schulte, D., Lampe, F., Buhre, S., & Willershausen, B. (2014). In vitro study on dental erosion caused by different vinegar varieties using an electron microprobe. Clinical laboratory, 60(5), 783-790.
18. Klein, A. V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics, 28(6), 675-686.
19. Johnston, C. S., White, A. M., & Kent, S. M. (2009). Preliminary evidence that regular vinegar ingestion favorably influences hemoglobin A1c values in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 84(2), e15-e17.
20. Panetta, C. J., Jonk, Y. C., & Shapiro, A. C. (2013). Prospective randomized clinical trial evaluating the impact of vinegar on lipids in non-diabetics. World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases, 3(02), 191.

Going Keto: Is It Worth It?

A short and sweet summary of what Keto is, what actually happens, and who all should consider using it.

The Ketogenic diet has been all the rage lately with its claims of weight loss glory and sciency sounding words used to describe it. However, like all extreme diets, there are reasons both to jeer and cheer. So today, I wanted to give a short and sweet summary of what Keto is, what actually happens, and who all should consider using it.
 
What Is Keto?
In short, if you don’t eat carbs, your body will turn fat into ketone bodies that act like sugar in the tissues that need them. More specifically, the ketogenic diet involves severely restricting carbohydrate intake to about 10-20 grams per day while having a high fat intake, along with moderate protein consumption. So when people hear that the Keto diet forces your body to burn fat, they think “Eureka! It’s the holy grail of weight loss!!!!” In the short term, you will lose a lot of weight, which will get you motivated to stick with the diet. But this is water weight that will return once you eat carbs again and restore the glycogen (muscle fuel) to your muscles. However, what we do know is that ketogenic diets don’t seem to provide a metabolic advantage or result in a higher rate of fat loss when compared to isocaloric non-ketogenic diets with equal amounts of protein (1). Just because you burn fat doesn’t mean you lose fat!
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Other Claims
Those who swear by Keto also say that fat is good for you, sugar is bad,the diet can reduce inflammation, high fat diets make you burn more calories, carbohydrates are stored more easily than fat, eating fat before a meal makes you eat less, you eat less when you eat high-fat meals, and fat is more satiating than carbohydrates. Almost sounds like this diet is too good to be true! Well… it is.
No, sugar is not by itself bad for you when used in moderation. The old notion that specific foods will raise and lower your insulin (glycemic index) has been called into question, and can in large part be dismissed because we all react differently even when given the same foods (2).
Pretty much anything that you eat will cause inflammation/bloating (3).
High-fat diets won’t make you burn more calories (4).
Sugar isn’t stored more easily as fat when compared to other calorie sources (5), and the adverse effects of a high-glycemic diet are likely due to increased energy consumption rather than to increased fat storage (6).
Consuming fat before a meal won’t make you eat any less, however, consuming carbs or protein will (7).
Eating meals that are energy dense is a bad idea whether it’s fat or sugar that we are talking about (8).
Fat is the LEAST satiating (filling) macronutrient (9).
How It Can Work For You
Keto isn’t all nonsense and fairy tails. It can, and will, actually work for many people who use it. However, it works because it restricts a number of calories your taking in which can be done just as easily by reducing calories from your fat intake (10). In the long term, going the Keto route seems to work great because it in part forces you to avoid calorie dense foods (11). And while similar high-fat diet fads such as Paleo/bullet proof are bad for your blood lipid/cholesterol levels (12), Keto does not encourage consumption of large amounts of saturated fat (13). In fact, Keto seems to increase the amount of HDL (good cholesterol) and other hormones (14).

Summary
Much of the Ketogenic diet mythology revolves around false claims and over exaggeration of the truth. However, it works. As long as you can handle the restrictions, Keto works the same as every other successful diet. You burn more calories than you consume. It’s also safe and comes with other health benefits like a better blood lipid profile. So if it sounds doable for you, give it a shot and let me know how it works for you!
Resources
1. Hall, K. D., Chen, K. Y., Guo, J., Lam, Y. Y., Leibel, R. L., Mayer, L. E., … & Ravussin, E. (2016). Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 104(2), 324-333.
2. Zeevi, D., Korem, T., Zmora, N., Israeli, D., Rothschild, D., Weinberger, A., … & Suez, J. (2015). Personalized nutrition by prediction of glycemic responses. Cell, 163(5), 1079-1094.
3. Dror, E., Dalmas, E., Meier, D. T., Wueest, S., Thévenet, J., Thienel, C., … & Vallois, D. (2017). Postprandial macrophage-derived IL-1 [beta] stimulates insulin, and both synergistically promote glucose disposal and inflammation. Nature immunology.
4. Thomas, C. D., Peters, J. C., Reed, G. W., Abumrad, N. N., Sun, M. I. N. G., & Hill, J. O. (1992). Nutrient balance and energy expenditure during ad libitum feeding of high-fat and high-carbohydrate diets in humans. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 55(5), 934-942.
5. Veum, V. L., Laupsa-Borge, J., Eng, Ø., Rostrup, E., Larsen, T. H., Nordrehaug, J. E., … & Mellgren, G. (2017). Visceral adiposity and metabolic syndrome after very high–fat and low-fat isocaloric diets: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(1), 85-99.
6. Bosy-Westphal, A., Hägele, F., & Nas, A. (2016). Impact of dietary glycemic challenge on fuel partitioning. European journal of clinical nutrition.
7. Stubbs, R. J., Harbron, C. G., Murgatroyd, P. R., & Prentice, A. M. (1995). Covert manipulation of dietary fat and energy density: effect on substrate flux and food intake in men eating ad libitum. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 62(2), 316-329.
8. Rolls, B. J. (2000). The role of energy density in the overconsumption of fat. The Journal of nutrition, 130(2), 268S-271S.
9. Weight, L. (1995). A satiety index of common foods. European journal of clinical nutrition, 49(9), 675-690.
10. Sacks, F. M., Bray, G. A., Carey, V. J., Smith, S. R., Ryan, D. H., Anton, S. D., … & Leboff, M. S. (2009). Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med, 2009(360), 859-873.
11. Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(07), 1178-1187.
12. Smith, M., Trexler, E., Sommer, A., Starkoff, B., & Devor, S. (2014). Unrestricted Paleolithic diet is associated with unfavorable changes to blood lipids in healthy subjects. International Journal of Exercise Science, 7(2), 4.
13. Zong, G., Li, Y., Wanders, A. J., Alssema, M., Zock, P. L., Willett, W. C., … & Sun, Q. (2016). Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies. bmj, 355, i5796.
14. Silva, J. (2014). The effects of very high fat, very low carbohydrate diets on safety, blood lipid profile, and anabolic hormone status. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), P39.

Can You Get Too Much Protein?

Let’s break down protein problems into bite-sized chunks so that you can easily digest the info!

Today’s post will be a quick one in response to a question I received last week. The question was, “what happens when you get too much protein?” There’s not a simple answer because it’s really multiple questions all in one. For instance, is there such thing as too much protein? If so, how much is too much? What types of protein are we talking about, and how many meals? Are there negative consequences to over consumption, or positive ones? I could go on and on. However, I wanted to break down protein problems into bite-sized chunks so that you can easily digest the info!
Can’t Get Enough
For healthy people, there is no such thing as getting too much protein. You can eat and drink it to your heart’s content without having to worry about bodily injury (1). While dieting, an increased amount of protein will only help you retain muscle mass, and not be a tremendous source of fat mass gain (2). Below are some general recommendations; however, more is better.
If you are an athlete or highly active person currently attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight (0.68-1g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.
If you are an athlete or highly active person, or you are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight (0.45-0.68g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.
If you are sedentary and not looking to change body composition much, a daily target of 0.8g/kg bodyweight (0.36g/lb bodyweight) and upwards would be a good target.
Inline image 3
Metabolism
Protein does have a positive role when it comes to the rate of your metabolism. However, your metabolism is incredibly complicated. The image below shows just how different individuals will respond to protein in their diets (3). So increasing your protein will not necessarily be a cure-all.
Inline image 2
Do Sources Matter?
In short, yes the source of protein matters. You want to get a wide variety of protein to get all of the essential, and nonessential, amino acids. Which is why taking BCAA’s is useless. With rapid absorbing sources, like whey, consuming up to 40 grams at a time is useful after a workout (4). Some sources are also better for appetite/hormone control (5). Regardless of the source, it’s important just to try and eat a little bit more protein.
Inline image 4

Summary

As short as this post may be, it’s important to recognize a few things. First, no, you cannot get “too much” protein. Second, there are a lot of nuances when it comes to protein ingestion so a broad overview such as this may not give you perfect information. Consult a registered dietitian, or other healthcare professionals, for details into exactly which sources and quantities you should be getting. Finally, don’t let fear mongering or sensational headlines deter you from doing the right thing. Unlike high fat or high sugar diets, it’s really difficult to gain fat from over-consumption of protein. So go grill up some chicken and be happy!
Resources
1. Leidy, H. J., Carnell, N. S., Mattes, R. D., & Campbell, W. W. (2007). Higher protein intake preserves lean mass and satiety with weight loss in pre‐obese and obese women. Obesity, 15(2), 421-429.
2. Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Vargas, L., & Peacock, C. (2016). The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13(1), 3.
3. Bray, G. A., Smith, S. R., de Jonge, L., Xie, H., Rood, J., Martin, C. K., … & Redman, L. M. (2012). Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 307(1), 47-55.
4. Macnaughton, L. S., Wardle, S. L., Witard, O. C., McGlory, C., Hamilton, D. L., Jeromson, S., … & Tipton, K. D. (2016). The response of muscle protein synthesis following whole‐body resistance exercise is greater following 40 g than 20 g of ingested whey protein. Physiological Reports, 4(15), e12893.
5. Pal, S., & Ellis, V. (2010). The acute effects of four protein meals on insulin, glucose, appetite and energy intake in lean men. British journal of nutrition, 104(08), 1241-1248.

Organic Food: My Current Stance

Part of my job is to stay up to date with the latest trends in the health and fitness world and vet the information for quality. From shake weights, ketogenic diets, and fasted cardio to magic weight loss wraps, diet pills, and green coffee beans, I need to know what it is and why it does or does not work. My stance always comes from that of a skeptic, especially if the claims made about a particular trend are extraordinary. And because science is always pushing forward, my opinions can change over time. The topic of organic food vs. conventional food has been a real SOB to tackle. However, today I wanted to go over where I currently stand. So, is organic food really worth all the extra $$$, or are you buying a Ferrari when a Honda Civic is really all you need?
 
What Makes It Organic?
Let’s first take a quick look at what goes into making a particular food organic. Being certified organic is really a matter of farmers adhering to USDA guidelines. There’s way too much info for me to go over in this post, but check out this link for the specifics. For something to be deemed organic, it needs to be in the condition of being ordered as a living being, or of any chemical that contains the element carbon, regardless of its source. So that means there are chemicals that are allowed in organic farming other than cow poop, such as copper sulfate, boric acid, elemental sulfur, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ammonium carbonate, and magnesium sulfate. But don’t be worried about all those chemicals. For you to feel any negative side effects of eating conventional herbicide, you would need to eat tons of it per day. I’m sure it’s the same for the organic stuff too. 
chem.png
Organic Food Health Implications
So I’m going to dive right into the heart of the matter and start off by talking about what’s good for your health. And I’m sad to say that there really is no evidence to say that eating organic has any positive, or negative, health outcomes (1). However, there are a bunch of indicators that suggest there may be benefits. For instance, organic food has been shown to have:
 – More Antioxidants (between 18% and 69%)
 – Less cadmium (on average, about 48 % lower)
 – Four-times less likely to contain detectable pesticide residues 
 – Slightly more omega-3 fatty acids (good for the heart)
 – Slightly less saturated fatty acids (good for the heart)
 However, conventional foods have been shown to have;
 – higher concentrations of iodine and selenium (iodine deficiency can lead to impaired fetal brain development)
 – higher concentrations of protein, nitrogen, nitrate, nitrite, respectively (these can have both positive and negative health impacts)
 
At the end of the day, organic foods are not really any more nutritious on a meaningful level but do have some small advantages (2). For instance, it may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (3). Although pesticide residues for both conventional and organic crops are negligible compared to the safe minimum daily dosage, these are a small but meaningful difference for some individuals.
 
The Cost Of Organic
While everyone knows that the price of organic is greater than conventional foods (by about 47% in fact), what are the other costs of eating organic? Well, the thought of paying more to help out your local farmer is certainly noble, and I highly recommend buying from a farm that you trust and want to support. However, simply buying organic from the supermarket does not help out the little guy despite all the advertising. Organic farming is also bad for the environment
environmental impact
 
Growing organic means you get 35% less food per acre when compared to conventional methods (4). It also means greater ammonia emissions (eye & lung irritant), nitrogen leaching (gets into our water), and nitrous oxide emissions (greenhouse gas) (5). Organic farming can be better for soil health, however. 
 
Final Thoughts
At this point, it may seem like I have been bashing organic foods, but I want to be clear that I am laying out the facts and not making this about one ideology vs. another. The reality is that everyone should be eating more fruits and vegetables regardless of where they come from. No one should feel ashamed because they can’t afford to eat organic foods. Making the choice to eat organic should be about preferences. Although “organic” doesn’t mean it’s any healthier or tastes better if you prefer it over food stuff then go for it (6,7). Don’t let the PR firms fool you; you won’t have any worse health outcomes by eating non-organic foods. Just choose whole food sources from the produce section, and if you want to ensure the highest quality, grow it yourself and/or get to know your local farmers. 
References
1. Barański, M., Rempelos, L., Iversen, P. O., & Leifert, C. (2017). Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out!. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1), 1287333.
2. Dangour, A. D., Dodhia, S. K., Hayter, A., Allen, E., Lock, K., & Uauy, R. (2009). Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 90(3), 680-685.
3. Smith-Spangler, C., Brandeau, M. L., Hunter, G. E., Bavinger, J. C., Pearson, M., Eschbach, P. J., … & Olkin, I. (2012). Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Annals of internal medicine, 157(5), 348-366.
4. Seufert, V., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J. A. (2012). Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature, 485(7397), 229-232.
5. Tuomisto, H. L., Hodge, I. D., Riordan, P., & Macdonald, D. W. (2012). Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts?–A meta-analysis of European research. Journal of environmental management, 112, 309-320.
6. Fillion, L., & Arazi, S. (2002). Does organic food taste better? A claim substantiation approach. Nutrition & Food Science, 32(4), 153-157.
7. Johansson, L., Haglund, Å., Berglund, L., Lea, P., & Risvik, E. (1999). Preference for tomatoes, affected by sensory attributes and information about growth conditions. Food quality and preference, 10(4), 289-298.

Double The Metabolism Mayhem!

Today’s post is a follow up to last weeks discussion where I went over the basics of metabolism science.

Today’s post is a follow up to last weeks discussion where I went over the basics of metabolism science. As we know, our metabolism is complex and there isn’t much we can do to greatly change it. However, today I wanted to talk about how gaining and losing fat can change the way your brain regulates your body weight. This is a complex area because our body composition can be influenced by a myriad of factors including sex hormone levels, macronutrient intake (especially protein), exercise style / frequency / intensity, age, medication use, genetic predisposition, and more. No ones body defies the laws of physics. So if the calories in calories out equation isn’t working for you, it’s because the equation is more complicated than it sounds.
Calories In
This part is easy. You eat food, so you gain calories from that food… right? Well not exactly. For starters we aren’t very accurate at guessing how many calories are in foods. In fact, food labels can be off by up to 20-25%! Secondly, the amount of energy we absorb, store, and/or use isn’t even close to being uniform! For instance, processed foods (cooked, chopped, soaked, blended, etc.) are broken down plant and animal cells, which means we absorb more energy from them. Have a gut feeling that there’s something more to it? Well you’re right! The bacteria in your gut can also influence the amount of energy we take in from foods. In the end, don’t count on counting calories to correctly calculate the quantity of calories converted to energy. Say that three times fast and receive a free high five!
Calories Out
I would first like to make a correction to last weeks post where I stated “with digestion we use a maximum of 43% of energy from the foods we eat.” Although it is true that the thermic effect of eating consists of burning 0–3% from fat, 5–10% from carbs, and 20–30% from protein, these numbers actually only represent roughly 5-10% energy out. The point here remains that meat sweats are real. Protein requires a lot of energy to digest!
As a refresher, our resting metabolic rate (RMR) accounts for about 60% of our calories out per day. But guess what… that figure can be off by about 15%! That means while I’m a 200-pound guy with an RMR of 1905 calories, another guy just like me might burn 286 more (or fewer) calories each day with no more (or less) effort. Tack on variable from the last two sources of energy out (physical activity and NEAT), and now have a 50% disparity between what can be calculated to calories in and out vs. reality. Ultimately the Energy Balance Equation will look like this.
Damage Done
Because our bodies enjoy consistency (homeostasis), it will respond negatively when you restrict your calorie intake. So what happens when you go on a restrictive diet? The thermic effect of eating goes down because you’re eating less. Resting metabolic rate goes down because you weigh less. Calories burned through physical activity go down since you weigh less. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis goes down as you eat less. Calories not absorbed goes down and you absorb more of what you eat. Hunger signals increase, causing us to crave (and maybe eat) more. A rise in cortisol from the stress of dieting can cause our bodies to hold onto more water. Bad things also happen when you over exercise as well. For instance, over exercising can cause an increased appetite and more calories eaten, absorbing more of what we eat, decreased RMR, and decreased NEAT. YIKES! The good new is that losing weight won’t “damage” your metabolism. Your body simply makes adaptations in response to fat loss (to prevent that fat loss, in fact).
The Bottom Line
 – How your metabolism reacts to changes in energy balance will be unique to you.
 – Food labels are way off, so 1,600 calories eaten daily could really be 1,200… or 2,000.
 – By eating a diet rich in whole, minimally processed foods, the number of calories you absorb can be significantly decreased and require more calories to digest.
 – Eating lots of highly processed foods will increase the calories absorbed, burn fewer calories in the digestive process, be less filling, more energy dense, and more likely to cause overeating.
 – Energy out for those who have lost significant weight will always be lower than for people who were always lean, so keep in mind that exercise provides tremendous health benefits and should be done for more than just weight loss purposes.
 – Losing weight, and keeping it off, is accompanied by adaptive metabolic, neuroendocrine, autonomic, and other changes.
 – Even if your body might defend against weight loss, you can still lose weight, gain muscle, and dramatically change your body.
 – TAKE ACTION by eating plenty of protein, eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, quality carbs, and healthy fats, adjust portions as you plateau, or to prevent plateaus, create an environment that encourages good food choices, do a mixture ofresistanceHIITcardiovascular, and recovery activities, find ways to increase NEAT, create a nightly sleep routine and manage your stress, and eat slowly to enjoy your meals and decrease the total amount of calories consumed.

Metabolism Mayhem!

Almost everyone has heard that our metabolism does… something.

Almost everyone has heard that our metabolism does… something. If you have a high metabolism, you can eat a lot and stay lean. Or maybe, you put on weight just looking at a piece of cake because you have a slow metabolism. But what the heck is the metabolism anyways?!?!?! Well that’s what I’ll be answering today, and I will go over some common misconceptions that I hear all too frequently.
Calories enter your body one way (om nom nom!), but there’s many ways for them to leave it. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 60–70% of daily calories burned and included doing things like breathing, thinking, filtering waste. You know… bodily functions required for living. However, your BMR can be subject to many things including your size, composition (body fat%), age, genetics, hormones, and health status. This means even the most accurate way of calculating your metabolic rate (Mifflin-St Jeor equation), can still be about 10% off! Other ways we burn calories include food thermogenesis (digestion) which accounts for 10% of daily calories burned, and physical activity which accounts for 20% of daily calories burned.
Magic Bullets
For health “Guru’s” each area of metabolism is a way to sell a particular magic bullet for fitness or weight loss. But magic bullets don’t exist, so here are a few common myths that have cropped up over the years.
More Meals = More Metabolic Burn – The thought behind this is that if we burn calories by eating, then eating more frequently will burn more calories. While this, in part, is true, it is also very far off point. This is because to help with digestion we use a maximum of 43% of energy from the foods we eat (0–3% from fat, 5–10% from carbs, and 20–30% from protein). In short, eating more frequently means we are doing nothing more that increasing the total amount of calories we eat throughout the day. So if your goal is weight loss, this myth is busted.
I Moved More = I Eat More –  This may be the worst myth because it creates a bad habit! While movement is about 20% of our metabolic demand, only a small portion of that (7-9% daily) comes from the gym! This means if you reward yourself for going to the gym you are doing nothing more than consuming more calories than burned. Most of the calories burned from moving are from doing NEAT things like walking, doing chores, and even fidgeting.
More Muscles = More Food – Another common myth is that as you grow more muscles you burn significantly more calories. Again, a partial truth that has been blown out of proportion by the likes of Dr. Oz, fitness magazines, and other nonsense peddlers. They have claimed that 1 pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories a day. In reality, a pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day at rest and a pound of fat burns about 2 calories a day. So getting shredded doesn’t mean you have the luxury of eating everything in sight!
Fat Burning Exercise = Weight Loss – As we exercise our body metabolizes fuels like carbohydrates and fats. Someone had the great idea to start burning fat instead of carbs to lose weight! But that’s not how it works. Our fuel source for exercise doesn’t matter at all if you are eating more calories than you are using on a daily basis. So don’t pay any attention to the “fat burn” settings on the cardio machines or fat burning supplements. Just make sure you are working hard to burn as many calories as you can while exercising!
Taking Metabolic Actions
Before you get too down on yourself and think there is nothing that you can do to help stay metabolically fired up, there are a few simple ways to “boost” metabolism. The first thing you can do is simply move more. Take the stairs, park far away, exercise regularly, even standing more will boost your metabolism throughout the day. My second tip is to eat more protein. This simple action will increase thermogenesis as well as muscle mass which are two small things that when put together will have enhanced results. But more importantly, increasing total amounts of protein will make you feel fuller more quickly/longer which will decrease your total caloric intake! Finally, having the perspective of “you lose weight in the kitchen, you gain health in the gym” will help you avoid scams and place focus on the things that are most important.

Health And Happiness

With most of us becoming fitness slackers during the long Christmas and New Years vacation time, I thought I would summarize some of the best tips on how to not gain weight.

With most of us becoming fitness slackers during the long Christmas and New Years vacation time, I thought I would summarize some of the best tips on how to not gain weight. I use the term not gain for a reason. During this time of year you should be able to enjoy the foods you want to eat, drink the alcohol you want to drink, and cherish the precious time with your family without feeling any guilt. So today I am going to go over the best fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle choices to make to get you through the season sane and slim!
Fitness
If your goal is to get buff during the holiday season… well then the best of luck to ya! I personally aim to maintain my fitness level. Health and fitness should rightfully take a back seat to the enjoyment of friends and family during this time of year. However, this does not mean you should stop exercising completely. In fact, it’s the best thing you can do to not gain weight! So here’s what you should do.
 1. Make physical activity a part of your holiday routine. Don’t be a lemming. Just because everyone else wants to be lazy doesn’t mean that you should be lazy too.
 2. Eat the friggin delicious holiday food. Just be mindful to not eat everything just because it’s in front of you.
 3. Plan around the obstacles. Not having equipment and traveling shouldn’t be your downfall. Follow the links here and here for exercise programs you can do anywhere.
Nutrition
Absolutely nothing can replace the joy of eating grandmas famous Christmas cookies (at least for me this is true). So any advice you get telling you not to, will simply rob you of joy in my opinion. This is because, medical conditions aside, carbs aren’t inherently bad for you and they certainly wont make you fat. They can do harm when over consumed, just like proteins and fats will, but they won’t mess with your insulin causing fat gain (again medical conditions aside). Just don’t go nuts on the macadamia cookies and you will be okay. This goes for the prepackaged stuff as well. Because “eating clean” really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so don’t fear the not so home made apple pie. And when it comes to alcohol, the message is the same. Moderation is crucial, and there’s no need to worry about gaining weight or losing those guns you worked so hard to polish.
Lifestyle Choices
There are plenty of bloggers claiming to know the secret to the perfect lifestyle. But in reality, you are the only one who knows what’s best for you. Making good responsible choices is a complex process. In my opinion there are many things to consider outside of your immediate actions on you overall health. Think about what brings you joy over the holidays. Think about the choices you make, and how you make them. Savor the moments by take the time to “check in”, pay attention, and be present. Reach out by connecting with friends, family, and whoever else you consider your “tribe.” Consider how you might be able to share good health and well-being with others during this important time of the year. Here are an additional seven things to consider when trying to stay on track over the holidays.
 1. When you’re feeling stressed (which has been known to happen when around a lot of family), take a big belly breath or eight.
 2. Eat slowly, with moderate pauses between bites. The saying “savor the flavor” reigns true for this one.
 3. Be mindful of hunger. Don’t just eat because it’s time to eat or there’s something in front of you. Listen to your body and it will tell you when to eat and when enough is enough.
 4. Make mindful choices. Similar to being mindful of hunger, your body will tell you what to eat. Pick out only the thing you want, and when they are on your dish you can choose to eat what tastes good and leave the rest on the plate, or try something else.
 5. Distinguish between desire and craving.
 6. Practice generosity. Cook, eat, and share food with other to truly get the most out of this holiday season.
 7. Express your gratitude. According to research, this simple action increases our inclination to be caring, compassionate, honest and respectful.
 
I truly hope everyone has a wonderful time with their friends and family over the holiday season.