Why Did Energy Expenditure Differ Between Diets in the Recent Study by Dr. Ludwig's Group?

As discussed in the previous post, a recent study by Dr. David Ludwig's group suggested that during weight maintenance following fat loss, eating a very low carbohydrate (VLC) diet led to a higher metabolic rate (energy expenditure) than eating a low-fat (LF) diet, with a low glycemic index (LGI) diet falling in between the two (1).  The VLC diet was 30 percent protein, while the other two were 20 percent.  It's important to note that these were three dietary patterns that differed in many ways, and contrary to claims that are being made in the popular media, the study was not designed to isolate the specific influence of protein, carbohydrate or fat on energy expenditure in this context. 

Not only did the VLC diet lead to a higher total energy expenditure than the LF and LGI diets, the most remarkable finding is that it led to a higher resting energy expenditure.  Basically, people on the VLC diet woke up in the morning burning more energy than people on the LGI diet, and people on the LGI diet woke up burning more than people on the LF diet.  The VLC dieters burned 326 more calories than the LF dieters, and 200 more than the LGI dieters.

It's always tempting to view each new study in isolation, without considering the numerous studies that came before it, but in this case it's essential to see this study through a skeptical lens that places it into the proper scientific context.  Previous studies have suggested that:
  1. The carbohydrate:fat ratio of the diet has little or no detectable impact on energy expenditure in people who are not trying to lose weight (2, 3).
  2. The carbohydrate:fat ratio of the diet has little or no detectable impact on energy expenditure in people who are being experimentally overfed, and if anything carbohydrate increases energy expenditure more than fat (4, 5).
  3. The carbohydrate:fat ratio of the diet has little or no detectable impact on energy expenditure during weight loss (6, 7, 8), and does not influence the rate of fat loss when calories are precisely controlled. 
This new study does not erase or invalidate any of these previous findings.  It fills a knowledge gap about the effect of diet composition on energy expenditure specifically in people who have lost weight and are trying to maintain the reduced weight.

With that, let's see what could have accounted for the differences observed in Dr. Ludwig's study.
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New Study: Is a Calorie a Calorie?

A new study in JAMA led by Dr. Cara B. Ebbeling and colleagues purports to challenge the idea that all calories are equally fattening (1).  Let's have a look.  When thinking about the role of calorie intake in body fatness, there are basically three camps:

1.    Calories don’t matter at all, only diet composition matters.
2.    Calories are the only thing that matters, and diet composition is irrelevant.
3.    Calories matter, but diet composition may also play a role.

The first one is an odd position that is not very well populated.  The second one has a lot of adherents in the research world, and there’s enough evidence to make a good case for it.  It’s represented by the phrase ‘a calorie is a calorie’, i.e. all calories are equally fattening.  #1 and #2 are both extreme positions, and as such they get a lot of attention.  But the third group, although less vocal, may be closest to the truth. 
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Wacky Facts Wednesday - Bone Count

An adult has fewer bones than a baby. We start off life with 350 bones, but because bones fuse together during growth, we end up with only 206 as adults.

Look Better - Feel Better - Live Better
~ Sue

What Puts Fat Into Fat Cells, and What Takes it Out?

Body fatness at its most basic level is determined by the rate of fat going into vs. out of fat cells. This in/out cycle occurs regardless of conditions outside the cell, but the balance between in and out is influenced by a variety of external factors.  One of the arguments that has been made in the popular media about obesity goes something like this:  

A number of factors can promote the release of fat from fat cells, including:
Epinephrine, norepinephrine, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), glucagon, thyroid-stimulating hormone, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, vasopressin, and growth hormone
 But only two promote fat storage:
Insulin, and acylation-stimulating protein (ASP)*
Therefore if we want to understand body fat accumulation, we should focus on the latter category, because that's what puts fat inside fat cells.  Simple, right?

Can you spot the logical error in this argument?

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Join An Online Support Group.

Tuesday’s Tip #3

It’s essential that you not feel alone, and reaching out to friends (new or old) is typically a smart move. 

I just heard about My Fitness Pal, but didn’t know about it when I began down the road to weight loss. 

You have to know that others are out there for moral support – they know things that you couldn’t possibly know, and they’ve probably been “in your shoes” at some point in the past (or present). 

Share stories, laughter, tears, successes, and failures – share them. 

There are thousands of communities out there, so keep looking until you find the one that fits you.

Look Better - Feel Better - Live Better.
~ Sue

Motivation Monday: Get Up and Move

Rise and grind my friends!

It’s MONDAY, and y’all know what that means…. It’s time for yet another instalment of ”Motivation Monday” where I share with you my thought/motto/mantra for the week.

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.--Frank Lloyd Wright
Have A Great Week Everyone, And Remember….
“Get Up and Move”

Are You Really Hungry?

Before eating, ask yourself if you’re really hungry.

If not, put down the food and find a distraction.
Tips to avoid eating in the absence of hunger:

· Drink a full glass of water
· Find an active distraction (a walk or household chore)
· Drink Bios Life Slim
· Wait 30 minutes and re-assess your hunger
· Read from your weight loss journal to remember your goals

Do you have any tips to add to our list, if so add them in the comments section at the bottom?

A Pressure Cooker for the 21st Century

Pressure cookers are an extremely useful kitchen tool.  They greatly speed cooking and reduce energy usage by up to 70 percent.  This is because as pressure increases, so does the boiling point of water, which is the factor that limits cooking speed in water-containing foods (most foods).  If it weren't for my pressure cooker, I'd rarely eat beets or globe artichokes.  Instead of baking, boiling or steaming these for 60-90 minutes, I can have them soft as butter in 30.  But let's face it: most people are intimidated by pressure cookers.  They fear the sounds, the hot steam, and the perceived risk of explosion.  I escaped this because I grew up around them.

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New Study Demonstrates that Sugar has to be Palatable to be Fattening in Mice

Dr. Anthony Sclafani's research group just published a study definitively demonstrating that high palatability, or pleasantness of taste, is required for sugar to be fattening in mice (1).  Dr. John Glendinning was lead author. Dr. Sclafani's group has done a lot of excellent research over the years.  Among other things, he's the person who invented the most fattening rodent diet in the world-- the 'cafeteria diet'-- composed of human junk food. 

Mice and rats love sweet food and drinks, just like humans.  If you give them a choice between plain water and sugar water, they'll overconsume the sugar water and become obese.  I have argued, based on a large body of evidence, that the reward value and palatability* of these solutions are important to this process (2, 3, 4).  This is really just common sense honestly, because by definition if the solution weren't rewarding the mice wouldn't go out of their way to drink it instead of water, the same way people wouldn't go out of their way to get soda if it weren't rewarding.  But it's always best to confirm common sense with research.
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"In Case Of Emergency Melting Chocolate Mug Cake!"

Give this one a try, satisfy your cravings with CAKE!!! Yes, really, it works and you will love it.

1 Egg
1/4 Cup Skim Milk
Dash Vanilla Extract to taste
1 Heaping Scoop Appetizer Diet Rich Chocolate Shake
1 Tablespoon flour (preferably whole wheat)
1 packet Stevia (recommend SweetLeaf Sweetener 100% Stevia)
Dash Cinnamon

In a bowl whisk egg and milk to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Spray the inside of a microwave-safe mug with non-stick spray.

Pour batter into mug and microwave for approximately 45 seconds up to 2 minutes. Cook time will vary depending on your microwave power and desired consistency.


Sugar Intake and Body Fatness in Non-industrial Cultures

Around the world, non-industrial cultures following an ancestral diet and lifestyle tend to be lean. When they transition a modern diet and lifestyle, they typically put on body fat and develop the classic "diseases of civilization" such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  If we can understand the reasons why this health transition occurs, we will understand why these problems afflict us today.  Research has already identified a number of important factors, but today I'm going to discuss one in particular that has received a lot of attention lately: sugar.

There's an idea currently circulating that sugar is the main reason why healthy traditional cultures end up obese and sick.  It’s easy to find non-industrial cultures that are lean and don’t eat much sugar, and it’s easy to find industrial cultures that are obese and eat a lot of it.  But many factors are changing simultaneously there.  We could use the same examples to demonstrate that blue jeans and hair gel cause obesity.  If sugar is truly the important factor, then cultures with a high sugar intake, but an otherwise ancestral diet and lifestyle, should also be overweight and sick.  Let’s see if that's true. 

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Calories Still Matter

The Centers for Disease Control's NHANES surveys documented a massive increase in obesity in the United States between the 1960-62 and 2007-2008 survey periods (1).  In 1960, 13 percent of US adults were obese, while in 2008 that number had risen to 34 percent.  The prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 0.9 to 6.0 percent over the same time period!

Something has changed, but what?  Well, the most parsimonious explanation is that we're simply eating more.  Here is a graph I created of our calorie intake (green) overlaid on a graph of obesity prevalence (blue) between 1970 and 2008:

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The 80/20 Diet Rule

If you apply this principle to weight loss, it necessitates doing only those things which will give you the BEST results. 

So, you have to do only those 20% exercises which give you 80% of all your results. 

You have to cut down on that 20% of food that results in 80% of your fat.

Once you do that, it will become very easy to lose weight.

Let’s use the 80/20 rule and decide to eliminate that 20% food from your overall diet that will help in 80% reduction of your weight. 

OK – now let this sink-in: if you want a healthy body, you just need to concentrate on reducing or completely eliminating the following items from your diet …

The 20% of foods that are 80% responsible for your weight problems are …

• Flour 
• Sugar
• Salt
• Alcohol

That’s not complicated is it? It is also not a lot to remember. But this is powerful because if you can just work on cutting-down or eliminating these foods from your diet, you will have no problems with weight at all.

Foods that contain added sugar and refined flour, quite simply, are nutrient-poor. Foods that contain whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre (fiber). So avoid foods containing these things - especially cakes, pastries, biscuits etc – which contain both!

How to Cut-Down - Let’s Consider Sugar as an Example

If you’ve been eating sugar (in any of its forms) since childhood, it’s nearly impossible to stop eating it - tomorrow!

What you have to do is cut down your daily sugar intake by small amounts. For example, if you take a total of 5 cups of sugary drinks per day (tea, coffee, sodas etc), you could begin by moving that total down to, say 4 or even 3 cups. That way, you won’t feel the ‘pain’ of having to do without it and still be able to control yourself. After a couple of weeks, you can cut it down to just 2 cups.

Better still, try to learn to take those drinks without sugar or perhaps try replacing them (or some of them) with herbal drinks that do not contain sugar. Just cut-down; you don’t need to cut them out completely.

Really? Yes!

It’s easy. Isn’t it? 

The goal is to make small changes that will bring in huge results – that’s the 80/20 principle at work - and that’s how you have to proceed. We’re not cutting out everything. Rather, we’re cutting-out, or down, on only that small number of items that are responsible for generating a lot of fat in the body - or don’t give it a chance to burn body fat.

What I now want to share with you is how you can get even quicker results by combining exercise.
Exercise is as important for your body as is a healthy and balanced diet. I can’t emphasize it enough – exercise is a fantastic accelerator for losing weight and keeping your body healthy.
Are you ready?

Then let’s begin.

It does not matter too-much exactly what type of physical exercise you perform – playing sport, gardening, performing house-hold tasks – absolutely all forms of exercise are beneficial to a certain extent.

You should aim to exercise two or three times per week; doing sessions of 20 to 30 minutes minimum of aerobic exercise. This really is very little time to invest to reap the associated positive health benefits.

Easy Ways of Taking Aerobic Exercise 

• Walking (at a reasonable pace)
• Jogging
• Riding a Bike
• Dancing
• Swimming

The best piece of advice you can get here is this – listen carefully – find something that you really enjoy, that is also aerobic by nature. If you enjoy doing it, you will be much more likely to continue and get it into your lifestyle; and that should be your intention. Conversely, if you choose to do something you don’t enjoy, it will become a chore; and eventually, you will give it up.

Here’s to a Healthier & Slimmer You!

What my 1200 Calorie Diet looks like

Breakfast – 280

Lunch – 310

Snacks – 300

Dinner – 290

Supper (I normally just have a cup of green tea, but will have a piece of fruit if my numbers are low)

How Bad is Fructose? David Despain Interviews Dr. John Sievenpiper

In my article "Is Sugar Fattening?", I discussed a recent review paper on fructose, by Dr. John Sievenpiper and colleagues (1).  It was the most recent of several review papers to conclude that fructose is probably not inherently fattening in humans, but that it can be fattening if it's consumed to excess, due to the added calories.  Dr. Sievenpiper and colleagues have also written other papers addressing the metabolic effects of fructose, which appear to be fairly minor unless it's consumed to excess (2, 3, 4, 5).  The senior author on these studies is Dr. David Jenkins at McMaster University.  David Despain, a science and health writer who publishes a nice blog called Evolving Health, recently interviewed Dr. Sievenpiper about his work.

It's an interesting interview and very timely, due to the recent attention paid to fructose in the popular media. This has mostly been driven by a couple of high-profile individuals-- an issue they discuss in the interview.  The interview, recent papers, and sessions at scientific conferences are part of an effort by researchers to push back against some of the less well founded claims that have received widespread attention lately.

Read more »

Sneaky Causes of Overeating

The meals we know and love need an overhaul, according to the latest dietary guidelines. Fast foods, the "empty" calories in desserts, sweet drinks, and more have helped to fatten the nation -- making two-thirds of adults overweight or obese. Yet, the solution is within reach: Know the worst offenders, substitute better foods, and use a few portion-control tricks -- pictured in the slides to come.

Secrets of Healthy Eating and Portion Control

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Recently, Chris Kresser published a series on dietary salt (sodium chloride) and health (1).  One of the issues he covered is the effect of salt on blood pressure.  Most studies have shown a relatively weak relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.  My position overall is that we're currently eating a lot more salt than at almost any point in our evolutionary history as a species, so I tend to favor a moderately low salt intake.  However, there may be more important factors than salt when it comes to blood pressure, at least in the short term. 

Read more »

Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part III

In previous posts, I reviewed some of the evidence suggesting that human evolution has accelerated rapidly since the development of agriculture (and to some degree, before it).  Europeans (and other lineages with a long history of agriculture)  carry known genetic adaptations to the Neolithic diet, and there are probably many adaptations that have not yet been identified.  In my final post in this series, I'll argue that although we've adapted, the adaptation is probably not complete, and we're left in a sort of genetic limbo between the Paleolithic and Neolithic state. 

Recent Genetic Adaptations are Often Crude

It may at first seem strange, but many genes responsible for common genetic disorders show evidence of positive selection.  In other words, the genes that cause these disorders were favored by evolution at some point because they presumably provided a survival advantage.  For example, the sickle cell anemia gene protects against malaria, but if you inherit two copies of it, you end up with a serious and life-threatening disorder (1).  The cystic fibrosis gene may have been selected to protect against one or more infectious diseases, but again if you get two copies of it, quality of life and lifespan are greatly curtailed (2, 3).  Familial Mediterranean fever is a very common disorder in Mediterranean populations, involving painful inflammatory attacks of the digestive tract, and sometimes a deadly condition called amyloidosis.  It shows evidence of positive selection and probably protected against intestinal disease due to the heightened inflammatory state it confers to the digestive tract (4, 5).  Celiac disease, a severe autoimmune reaction to gluten found in some grains, may be a by-product of selection for protection against bacterial infection (6).  Phenylketonuria also shows evidence of positive selection (7), and the list goes on.  It's clear that a lot of our recent evolution was in response to new disease pressures, likely from increased population density, sendentism, and contact with domestic animals.

Read more »

Avengers Workout: How to Get Superhero Fit

How did the actors in "The Avengers" get their superhero 
physiques? 3 celebrity trainers dish their secrets.

The Avengers are superheroes, but the actors who play them are not. So how did they achieve their amazing onscreen physiques? Through intense workouts, not special effects.

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part II

In previous posts, I described how Otzi was (at least in large part) a genetic descendant of Middle Eastern agriculturalists, rather than being purely descended from local hunter-gatherers who adopted agriculture in situ.  I also reviewed evidence showing that modern Europeans are a genetic mixture of local European hunter-gatherers, incoming agricultural populations from the Middle East, neanderthals, and perhaps other groups.  In this post, I'll describe the evidence for rapid human evolution since the end of the Paleolithic period, and research indicating that some of these changes are adaptations to the Neolithic (agricultural/horticultural/pastoral) diet.

Humans have Evolved Significantly Since the End of the Paleolithic

Evolution by natural selection leaves a distinct signature in the genome, and geneticists can detect this signature tens of thousands of years after the fact by comparing many genomes to one another.  A landmark paper published in 2007 by Dr. John Hawks and colleagues showed that humans have been undergoing "extraordinarily rapid recent genetic evolution" over the last 40,000 years (1).  Furthermore:
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Media Appearances

Last October, I participated in a panel discussion organized by the Harvard Food Law Society in Boston.  The panel included Drs. Walter Willett, David Ludwig, Robert Lustig, and myself, with Corby Kummer as moderator.  Dr. Willett is the chair of the Harvard Department of Nutrition; Dr. Ludwig is a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard; Dr. Lustig is a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCSF; and Kummer is a food writer and senior editor for The Atlantic
Read more »

Dr. Oz. – “Drink Yourself Skinny”

They teach you how to eat less and lose weight quickly and permanently – and the right shake can boost your metabolism by 25%. 

Who doesn't need that?

The fact is, when you’re trying to lose body fat, you can’t skip breakfast – but you may be too busy to think about calories and to make healthy choices.
That’s why drinking a protein shake first thing in the morning is a simple, foolproof weight-loss method. When you drink the right protein shake, you give your body the nutrients it needs and you can also:

Boost your metabolic rate by 25%. Save calories by avoiding fatty foods -  
(if you drink a shake for breakfast, you can save an average of 400 calories per day).

Keep your blood sugar levels balanced, allowing your body to burn stored fat as fuel.

Increase your energy levels, which enable you to increase your activity and automatically burn more calories.

Why do meal replacements or protein shakes for breakfast work? 

Simply put, weight loss occurs when your metabolism gets moving and you put out more calories than you take in. 

If you were to replace your 750-calorie bagel and orange juice meal with a 155-calorie protein shake, you’d save 595 calories per day. And you’d see the results on your bathroom scale in no time.

We can’t be perfect all the time, so we need calorie safe havens that keep us anchored while we learn how to eat correctly. 

Protein shakes that contain nutrients offer those safe havens. Most people love them because they don’t have to think about food, plan meals or buy expensive products. 

You can even make them yourself. 

To start, try one of my favourite recipes: a Mocha Madness Shake that tastes amazing.

Mocha Madness Shake

300mls of cold water /skim milk (water 0 calories – skim milk 67calories)
1 scoop of Appetizer Chocolate Shake (111 calories)
1 tsp of granulated instant coffee. (4 calories)
5 ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!

Drink yourself skinny!
~ Sue

PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part I

In the previous post, I explained that Otzi descended in large part from early adopters of agriculture in the Middle East or nearby.  What I'll explain in further posts is that Otzi was not a genetic anomaly: he was part of a wave of agricultural migrants that washed over Europe thousands of years ago, spreading their genes throughout.  Not only that, Otzi represents a halfway point in the evolutionary process that transformed Paleolithic humans into modern humans.

Did Agriculture in Europe Spread by Cultural Transmission or by Population Replacement?

There's a long-standing debate in the anthropology community over how agriculture spread throughout Europe.  One camp proposes that agriculture spread by a cultural route, and that European hunter-gatherers simply settled down and began planting grains.  The other camp suggests that European hunter-gatherers were replaced (totally or partially) by waves of agriculturalist immigrants from the Middle East that were culturally and genetically better adapted to the agricultural diet and lifestyle.  These are two extreme positions, and I think almost everyone would agree at this point that the truth lies somewhere in between: modern Europeans are a mix of genetic lineages, some of which originate from the earliest Middle Eastern agriculturalists who expanded into Europe, and some of which originate from indigenous hunter-gatherer groups including a small contribution from neanderthals.  We know that modern-day Europeans are not simply Paleolithic mammoth eaters who reluctantly settled down and began farming. 

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What's In A McNugget?

McNuggets before the breading and frying.
Weight Watchers recent announcement endorsing McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets as an appropriate meal selection for individuals striving to lose weight has sent the health and fitness industry into an uproar.  Any organization that strives to create a better quality of life through weight loss for their members will ultimately be leading them down a path of health disaster if they continue to give the okay to fast foods and their health deteriorating additives.

When consumers choose to make their own chicken nuggets at home, they get fresh chicken, cut it up into chunks, bread it and either bake it or pan fry them.  When searching McDonald’s website for ingredient lists for all of their menu options, the McNugget is only 45% farm raised, hormone injected chicken.  That leaves 55% of the remaining nugget comprised of chemicals; 37 to be exact. 

One of the 37 ingredients in the McNugget is dimethylpolysiloxane.   This anti-foaming agent is used in silicon, caulk, silicone breast implants, cosmetics, and Silly Putty.  When inspecting a McNugget, this chemical is what gives the “chicken” the whipped texture.

Another dangerous chemical contained in the McNugget is tertiary butyl hydroquinone.  This chemical is petroleum based and is found in perfumes, varnish, resins, and oil field chemicals.  Recent health studies show that this chemical highly carcinogenic and is known to cause stomach tumours as well as damage DNA. 

If you still are not convinced of the dangers that McNuggets or other foods offered on McDonald’s menu can cause to health, rent the documentary Super Size Me.  This movie is a scientific experiment that depicts what can happen to the human body overtime when eating frequent fast food meals.  Before the 8 week study could conclude, the participant developed fatty liver disease, his blood pressure sky rocketed, and his doctor highly suggested stopping the experiment for fear of future ramifications, possibly irreversible, to the participant’s health. 

If Weight Watchers was truly concerned for their participants and their health, they would begin to focus on educating all participants on smart ways to lose weight that include less fast foods, more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and incorporate daily exercise. 

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue
PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

Are You Making These 12 Diet Mistakes?

Diet Mistakes Can Influence Weight
Simple diet mistakes can derail your best efforts to get back into that favourite pair of jeans.

If the scale seems stuck, or your weight drops off only to bounce back up, there's a chance you could be making one of these 12 weight loss blunders.

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

Lessons From Ötzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part III

There are two reasons why I chose this time to write about Otzi.  The first is that I've been looking for a good excuse to revisit human evolutionary history, particularly that of Europeans, and what it does and doesn't tell us about the "optimal" human diet.  The second is that Otzi's full genome was sequenced and described in a recent issue of Nature Communications (1).  A "genome" is the full complement of genes an organism carries.  So what that means is that researchers have sequenced almost all of his genes. 

Read more »

The Nose-Tube Diet

What do you think about this article? 

Should brides be so worried about slimming down for their wedding day? 

Read More On This Topic Here!

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

When You Work (and Eat) From Home: 7 Healthy Tips

As someone who works from home, I know that maintaining a healthy eating routine takes some passion and planning. Whether your job allows you to work from home – or you are a full time, hard working stay at home parent, it is easier than you think to embrace wellness in your in-home setting – simply by reducing stress and eating right.

You may feel that the lack a structured work environment makes it difficult to stay on track, your house versus a corporate office, for example. But in reality, if you learn to embrace all the wellness benefits of working from home you will find that you are able to take care of yourself and your family more than ever before. Healthy eating, stress reduction and exercise all go hand in hand. So focusing on all three of these areas will ensure that you succeed in whatever your diet goals may be – whether you want to lose weight, maintain it or build strength.

1. Get Ready for Work. If you work from home I’m sure you have had many days when you glance at the clock and it says 4pm and what do you know, you are still in your pyjamas. While I am a big fan of PJ workdays once in a while, the habit of not getting ready for the day can become a mentally fatiguing routine. There is something stable about a defined morning routine of getting ready for the day. Putting on “work clothes” whatever those may be, washing your face, and pampering yourself, showering, preparing a light breakfast and packing lunches for the day. And that leads to the next tip..

2. Pack Your Lunch. Maybe you already pack a lunch for your kids or for your spouse who goes off to work in an office structure. Or maybe you don’t pack any lunches at all. But give this tip a try and see if you like it. Instead of putting off lunch plans until “lunchtime” try packing yourself a lunch in the morning. You are more likely to be calm when you first wake – as any stresses from the day will have yet to shake you. So you are more likely going to pack yourself a lunch of healthy, nutrient dense foods like a large salad with some low fat protein and maybe a tall water bottle or glass filled with lemon wedges and mint for a beverage. My favourite lunch to pack for myself is a giant multi-veggie-ingredient salad topped with lightly sautéed tempeh or marinated tofu, maybe some quinoa, beans and/or brown rice thrown in too. Then around lunchtime I don’t have to worry about making my lunch, I just grab and go…

3. Take a Technology Free Lunch Break. This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Many of us who work from home or even out of an office sit at our desks and eat our lunch. Bad Idea. Your desk area – or in front of your computer, iPad or even smart phone should be an eat-free zone. Instead choose a sunny spot for your lunch. Take your packed lunch and unplug for at least twenty minutes to savour the flavours, textures, colours and nutrition in your meal. I usually like to eat outside on a sunny day. Or even find a sunbeam on the floor on my yoga mat. You don’t have to eat at a big kitchen table. Having a routine also means being flexible. The safety and comfort of routine can be played with to make it interesting and keep you on your toes.

If you are eating alone, lunch will be a nice quiet, tech-free time. If you are eating with your kids, this is a great way to teach them to break during the day for lunch – away from the television and their gadgets. This is a valuable lifelong habit they will appreciate. I remember my dad working from his in-home office. Every day at the same time he would break for lunch and savour his meal in peace. I now see the order and restraint in that routine.

And this goes for breakfast too! Maybe you are a more ‘large breakfast’ person. Be sure to do it tech-free. Enjoying your hearty breakfast in the line of fire of your tech gadgets and online chatter during the busy morning work-rush hours will only boost your stress and set a poor mood for the rest of your day. Find a quiet morning space to eat.

4. Hydrate. Constantly. Lucky us, work from home-ers have very close and easy access to a bathroom. Really! Many people actually halt their water drinking due to the fact that they fear being stuck in a long office meeting or conference call with the uncontrollable urge ‘to go.’ Well drinking lots of water throughout the day (and I do mean pure water – nothing sweetened or caffeinated) will hydrate your cells giving your skin a boost of moisture, helping you flush out toxins, keeping your digestive system running properly and also fighting off dehydration-induced fatigue. Grab a giant water bottle and let it follow you around all day long.

5. Take a Yoga Break. Stretching and feeling a sense of calm helps your body in many ways. It keeps your circulation up – which aids in digestion, energy and removal of toxins. Yoga and stretching also relaxes the body. And a relaxed body is much more likely to eat healthy foods throughout the day. And luckily, you can easily keep a yoga mat in your home and take a yoga break whenever you choose. Kids can join in too! There are even several yoga DVDs specifically designed for kids or parents and kids to do together. Even a ten minute break can work wonders on reducing stress.

6. Fill Up on Fibre. Fibre rocks. It not only helps to keep you fuller longer, but it aids your body in carrying out toxins and dead cells in your digestive tract. Fibre is especially important when you are dieting – not only for the caloric benefits, but because we store many toxins in our fat tissue. And when you start burning fat those stored toxins can be released into our blood stream and make us feel kind of crappy. But fibre to the rescue! As I said, it can aid in carrying some of those toxins out of our body. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are all healthy high fibre, nutrient dense foods.

7. Release Stress Before You Start Eating. Very important. In a corporate office you usually have a certain time when everyone breaks for lunch. So even if you just got off a very stressful phone call or just heard some frustrating news – you sometimes have no choice but to break for lunch. More than likely, you won’t make the best food choices when your stress hormones are raging. Luckily when you work from home you can stop and delay lunch a bit and fill in that stressed out time with (no, not food) – with some stress-releasing activity like exercise, yoga, deep breathing, a hot Epsom salt bath or even a break to turn on some music or read a book. Try to not bring a stressed out mood to your lunch break. You hunger and digestion will not be at its best. You might be left with eating one too many french fries and a stress-induced upset tummy. Stress-release and having some favourite stress-releasing activities to break with during the workday is another great lesson for kids. Especially since kids tend to get stressed out very easily by little things. Maybe they lost their favourite toy or didn’t know the right answer when called on in school. Teaching kids to release stress during their “workday” is important to helping them make smart food decisions as well.

So yes, working from home is an asset in fight to improve your diet! Embrace its strengths and learn to spot the pitfalls of working and eating from home. And know that you are not alone at that lunch table – millions of stay at home-ers are joining you at the lunch table in spirit.

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue
PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

Lessons From Ötzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part II

Otzi's Diet

Otzi's digestive tract contains the remains of three meals.  They were composed of cooked grains (wheat bread and wheat grains), meat, roots, fruit and seeds (1, 2).  The meat came from three different animals-- chamois, red deer and ibex.  The "wheat" was actually not what we would think of as modern wheat, but an ancestral variety called einkorn.

Isotope analysis indicates that Otzi's habitual diet was primarily centered around plant foods, likely heavily dependent on grains but also incorporating a variety of other plants (3).  He died in the spring with a belly full of einkorn wheat.  Since wheat is harvested in the fall, this suggests that his culture stored grain and was dependent on it for most if not all of the year.  However, he also clearly ate meat and used leather made from his prey.  Researchers are still debating the quantity of meat in his diet, but it was probably secondary to grains and other plant foods. It isn't known whether or not he consumed dairy.

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Exercise and Food Intake

The New York Times just published an article reviewing some of the recent research on exercise, food intake and food reward, titled "Does Exercise Make You Overeat?".  I was planning to write about this at some point, but I don't know when I'd be able to get around to it, and the NYT article is a fair treatment of the subject, so I'll just point you to the article.

Basically, burning calories through exercise causes some people to eat more, but not everyone does, and a few people actually eat less.  Alex Hutchinson discussed this point recently on his blog (1).  Part of it depends on how much fat you carry-- if you're already lean, the body is more likely to increase hunger because it very much dislikes going too low in body fat.  Most overweight/obese people do not totally make up for the calories they burn through exercise by eating more, so they lose fat.  There is a lot of individual variability here.  The average obese person won't lose a substantial amount of fat through exercise alone.  However, everyone knows someone who lost 50+ pounds through exercise alone, and the controlled trials support that it happens in a minority of people.  On the other side of the spectrum, I have a friend who gained fat while training for a marathon, and lost it afterward. 

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Next Primal Chef Event Sunday 5/20

Gil Butler has been working on a television show called Primal Chef, where he invites local chefs to make creative dishes from a list of Paleo ingredients, in a designated amount of time.  The format is reminiscent of Iron Chef.  The food is judged afterward by figures in the Paleo community.  Robb Wolf was a judge on the first episode.

Gil has invited me to be a judge on the next show, along with Sara Fragoso and Dr. Tim Gerstmar.  The next day, Sunday April 20th, Gil is organizing a catered Primal Chef event in Seattle, with Paleo dinner, speakers, entertainment, prizes, and a screening of part of Paleo Chef episode 1.  You can read the details and sign up here.  I won't be speaking because I don't have time to put together another talk right now, but I will be attending the event. 

My Fitness Progress So Far

Hi everyone, 
just want to share with you my fitness progress so far.

6 months ago I started doing 10min walks around my backyard (I was embarrassed at the way I looked and the way I walked – as Mel B puts it boombada, boombada). 

Today I finished a 3km walk in less than 34 minutes. I am so proud of myself :)   

How many Kms I have walked this week 

Lessons From Ötzi, the Tyrolean Ice Man. Part I

This is Otzi, or at least a reconstruction of what he might have looked like.  5,300 years ago, he laid down on a glacier near the border between modern-day Italy and Austria, under unpleasant circumstances.  He was quickly frozen into the glacier.  In 1991, his slumber was rudely interrupted by two German tourists, which eventually landed him in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy. 

Otzi is Europe's oldest natural human mummy, and as such, he's an important window into the history of the human species in Europe.  His genome has been sequenced, and it offers us clues about the genetic history of modern Europeans.

Otzi's Story

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Global Meat Production, 1961-2009

Total global meat production per person has steadily increased from 0.13 lbs per day in 1961 to 0.29 lbs per day in 2009*, a 120 percent increase over the last half century (currently in the US, average meat consumption is about half a pound per day).  Since meat consumption in the US and Europe has only increased modestly over time, this change mostly reflects greatly increased meat consumption over the last half century in developing countries** in Asia, Africa and South America.  In 1961, it's likely that most of the 0.13 pounds per day of meat was consumed in affluent countries such as the US, with not much consumed elsewhere (with some exceptions).  Historically, meat has always been expensive relative to other food sources in agricultural societies, so it's eaten by those who can afford it.
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Measuring Body Fat

The scale isn't the only way to tell if you’re overweight. Read how body fat is measured and what percentage of body fat compared to your total weight is considered too much.
Many people who are watching their weight — or trying to lose some pounds — turn to their bathroom scale. But that old familiar standby is not the only way to measure one’s size. Another possibility to consider is your body fat percentage.
Body Fat: What Are the Dangers?
When most of us hear the words “body fat” they have immediate negative connotations. However, in the right proportion, fat is actually critical to our diet and health. In the not-so-distant past, the ability to store extra body fat allowed our ancestors to survive in times of famine, when food was hard to come by. Even today it’s essential to keep the body functioning, to preserve body heat, and to protect organs from trauma.
Problems arise when our bodies store too much fat. This can lead to a variety of health issues, including high cholesterol, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Especially dangerous is fat stored at the waist, creating what is often called an “apple-shaped” body, as opposed to fat on the hips and thighs, a “pear-shaped” body.
“Normal body fat for men is around 8 to 15 percent of their total body weight and for women approximately 20 to 30 percent,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, associate professor of medicine and paediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Centre for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Centre.

Body Fat: How Can It Be Measured?
There are a variety of ways to measure the amount of body fat a person is carrying. “The most accurate way is ‘underwater weighing,’ which weighs the person on land and then underwater,” says Mary M. Flynn, PhD, RD, chief research dietician and assistant professor of medicine at the Miriam Hospital and Brown University in Providence, R.I. “But equipment for this is very expensive and not readily available.”
Another fairly accurate option is Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA). BIA consists of electrodes being placed on a person’s hand and foot while a current (which is not felt) is passed through the body. Fat has less water and is more resistant to the current, whereas muscle, which contains more water, is less resistant. The resulting numbers are entered into an equation which figures the percentage of fat and lean tissue.
The easiest method is measuring waist circumference and determining the Body Mass Index(BMI). A waist circumference over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is cause for concern.
Figuring BMI involves a little more calculation. BMI is done by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703, then dividing that number by your height in inches two times. If the end result is less than 18.5, the individual is underweight;18.5 to 24.9 is normal; 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight; and over 30 is obese.
“However, you must be aware of this disclaimer. BMI alone is not an indication of body fat, especially in athletes and bodybuilders. Growing children under 18 years old should also avoid using BMI,” says Elizabeth Downs, RD, clinical dietician at the Montefiore Medical Centre at the University Hospital for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.
One final way of determining body fat is using skin callipers to measure fat at specific places in the body. However, not only is it easy to make errors, but this method also doesn’t measure any interior fat or fat contained in thighs and women’s breasts.
Ultimately the percentage of body fat is just another number in the health equation. And if you are not happy with the result, all it takes is adding exercise and cutting calories to get it moving in the right direction.

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

How I Lost 2.3kg In 1 Week

Today I want to share with you my personal testimonial, and my journey so far.

I have been a Yo-Yo dieter for many years and never
truly stuck to a weight loss program for any length of time as they were too hard, too expensive or they made me sick until now. 

The Vitamark Appetizer Diet® Shakes and Cookies are so easy to do and I have been doing it now for eight months. In my first 30 days I lost 14 lbs and kept it off, but then I hit a plateau.

While we were on the convention cruise I had the opportunity to speak with Cynthia Breed and Liz Schreiter about why my weight had stayed the same, and they both said the same thing – that I was not eating enough and I needed to add more calories to my diet as I was starving myself.

Then we had Tom introduce the magic scales – and it scared me. True age 44, body age 73 and 52% body fat. So I knew I had to get serious not just for my sake but for my families sake.

When Vitamark introduced the new Shrink Team Challenge Brochure “You’ve Weighed In, Now What?” I started to add the VitaMarin and the C-Lipid to my daily routine. The month before this I only managed a weight loss around 1kg, so by the end of the first week of taking VitaMarin and C-Lipid,  I had lost 2.3kg.  The only thing I had done different was introduce these 2 extra products to my diet.

In 3 weeks my total weight loss has been 4.5kg (10 pounds) and still coming off.

Sue Douglas
Mt. Gambier, SA, Australia



All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.

Eocene Diet Follow-up

Now that WHS readers around the globe have adopted the Eocene Diet and are losing weight at an alarming rate, it's time to explain the post a little more.  First, credit where credit is due: Melissa McEwen made a similar argument in her 2011 AHS talk, where she rolled out the "Cambrian Explosion Diet", which beats the Eocene Diet by about 470 million years.  It was probably in the back of my head somewhere when I came up with the idea.

April Fools day is good for a laugh, but humor often has a grain of truth in it.  In this case, the post was a jumping off point for discussing human evolution and what it has to say about the "optimal" human diet, if such a thing exists.  Here's a preview: evolution is a continuous process that has shaped our ancestors' genomes for every generation since the beginning of life.  It didn't end with the Paleolithic, in fact it accelerated, and most of us today carry meaningful adaptations to the Neolithic diet and lifestyle. 

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Shortcuts To Good Health

Today, when a sedentary lifestyle is the rule, people’s health is deteriorating day by day. Eating Healthy just requires a little planning. 

Here are some shortcuts to a Healthy Body. Every day, without our knowledge, a faint little feeling in the stomach prompts us to involuntarily look at the clock.

Then the revelation hits us- it is evening and we have not had the time to eat our lunch.

In today’s times, where a sedentary lifestyle is the rule, it’s observed that the health of people is deteriorating day by day. 
They have started taking themselves and their body for granted. 
They don’t even remember when they last had a proper meal.
Eating healthy just requires a little planning. Here are some shortcuts to achieve a healthy body:

Breakfast Is A ‘MUST’
Start your morning with some breakfast, be it a piece of fruit or a whole wheat bread. Put oatmeal into a thermos of hot water, and you could even let it sit overnight. In the morning, you shall have hot cooked oatmeal ready to eat. Similarly, a hardboiled egg can be eaten. This will prevent your body from going into starvation mode. Eating breakfast everyday will also help increase your metabolic rate.

Five Meals A Day
Have at least five meals a day in which three can be the main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner, while other two meals can consist of foods which are handy and nutritious at the same time. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs, provides consistent energy, and maintains metabolism efficiency. Grab healthy foods such as fruits that are high in fibre like apple, watermelon, muskmelon, orange, sweet lime, papaya and peaches.

Ask For Healthy Food
Some people’s work demands frequenting restaurants for dinner. Always watch out for hidden fats. Creamy soups, white breads, flaky pastries and mayonnaise-based salad dressings add unnecessary fats to the food. Try consuming broths instead of creamy soups. Instead of mayonnaise dressing, use variety of condiments and flavouring agents such as lemon, vinegar, herbs, onion and garlic to improve the palatability of your salad. Remember, a gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate. Ask for grilled, baked, boiled or broiled food rather than fried foods.

Hydrate When You’re Travelling
Your work might involve a lot of travelling in which air travel is one of the most dehydrating experiences. Because of this, people often complain of sore throats and other respiratory illnesses. To avoid these, one should not drink caffeine, cola or alcohol before or after the flights as these are diuretics and can increase the water loss. Avoid salted snacks like salted peanuts or fried foods in order to minimise dehydration. Try consuming lots of fluids in the form of water, fruit juice, coconut water, lime water, etc. In any case, one should drink at least 12 to 15 gasses of water everyday. The stress associated with travel may slightly increase the protein requirement, so one should make an effort to consume a little more protein each day.

Good Quality Of Food
Always remember that the quality of food you eat determines your efficiency at work. Avoid refined foods like white rice and those used to make white bread and sugary breakfast cereals as most of their vitamins and minerals are stripped away. They turn into blood sugar (glucose) so fast just like sugar; they can cause a spike in our insulin level.  Alternate refined flour with wholegrain flour. Substitute white sugar with honey or a sugar substitute . Remember, all this will help us to remain healthy.

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

PS – you can join in anytime by leaving a comment below indicating your interest and fill out the “Notify Me of New Posts by Email” box so that you’ll be up to date with all my posts.