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For July 16, 2018

  • Exercise, eating, and fat loss.
    Exercise, eating, and fat loss.

    Most people who exercise and decrease caloric intake can expect to see decreases in body fat. However, health and fitness professionals are becoming aware that this isn't always the case.

    Research has shown that the body has an internal control mechanism that drives it to maintain a particular level of body fat. The term used to describe this phenomena is "set point."

    The set point mechanism acts much like a thermostat, turning energy expenditure up or down to avoid either weight gain or weight loss. So when you restrict caloric intake, the body attempts to maintain its weight and fat by lowering the metabolic rate. Conversely, the body will lose weight gained in excess of its internally regulated point by increasing metabolism. This may explain why some people have to exercise quite a bit in order not to gain weight.

    Until recently we were told that the most efficient way of manipulating the set-point was by increasing exercise, thereby programming the body to store less fat. Now we know that after a certain amount of time this is no longer true. That internal control mechanism wants to maintain the equilibrium defined by your genes. So, although you can exercise your way to a leaner body than your parents, at a certain point it becomes counter productive.

    Most people who claim to be exercising more and eating less without seeing changes in body composition feel desperate. Consequently, they exercise more and eat less. In fact, the "cure" for a damaged set point is to drop back on your exercise program and increase the nutrient density of your diet. Since this flies in the face of everything you have heard it's a difficult task that can only be managed with daily support and dealing with body image issues that normally cause problems at this stage.

    Stress is another well recognized cause for the inability to decrease body fat despite a physically active lifestyle and low calorie diet. Experts now acknowledge there is a relationship between stress and weight gain. They even suggest that it has to do with the fight or flight mechanism that encourages the body to store fat under stress. However, there is no significant research to explain this phenomena.

    If you are exercising more and eating less and still not able to lose weight, you should seek professional help with a credited dietitian and/or nutritionist.

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  • Gear Up: Finding Your Ideal Sports Bra
    Gear Up: Finding Your Ideal Sports Bra

    Comfort or Bust: Great Sports Bras

    (Prevention, September 1999) � Sports bras are looking more like regular bras, complete with hooks, cup sizes and even underwire. Sounds like a step backward, right? We thought so, too, until we tried out two of those new styles.

    Surprisingly, even reluctant testers found them comfy. The underwire didn't jab on either one, but provided good support. The padded, adjustable straps didn't dig into shoulders. Favorite feature: back hooks -- no more looking like Houdini trying to get out of a straitjacket.

    One tester found these bras so comfortable that it "felt like not having a bra on at all." Two others liked them more than their everyday bras and wore them to the office.

    These sports bras with cups -- referred to as encapsulation-type sports bras -- offer more support and better fit for larger breasted women than the more traditional Ace-bandage-type sports bras. Some styles even offer cup sizes up to DD.

    (We tested Champion Jog-bra style #161, and Speedo by Warner's style #1900, available in department stores for $30 to $40.)

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  • Can Diet Spot-Reduce Bodyfat
    Can Diet Spot-Reduce Bodyfat
    Originally featured in: Muscle & Fitness

    Written by: Jose Antonio, PhD, CSCS, Adjunct Health & Science Editor

    Should we eat more fat or not? Numerous books tout the benefits of eating more fat, particularly monounsaturated fat; others claim that fat is the archenemy of a lean physique. The answer really depends on your goals. Read on to see what I mean.

    In a study conducted at the University of Melbourne, Australia, researchers examined the effects of a fiber-rich, high-carbohydrate, low-fat (HCLF) diet and what they called a modified-fat (MF) diet high in monounsaturated fat on the distribution of bodyfat in 16 non-insulin-dependent diabetics (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM).

    The most common type of diabetes, NIDDM is characterized by impaired insulin action. That is, these diabetics usually don't have a problem with insulin production, but the insulin they do produce doesn't seem to cause the appropriate response in peripheral tissues. For instance, they have difficulty transporting glucose in the blood to skeletal muscle.

    So what problems are related to NIDDM? Because it's associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it obviously needs to be managed. You can decrease this risk in two fundamental ways - yep, diet and exercise.

    Dietary Recommendations
    In this study, the six male and 10 female subjects were prescribed two three-month diets with a one-month washout period in between. Both diets contained the same number of calories but differed in macronutrient content. The HCLF diet included 50% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 25% from protein, 24% from fat and 1% from alcohol; the MF diet included 41% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 22% from protein, 36% from fat and 1% from alcohol. About 50% of the fat supplied in the MF diet came from monounsaturated sources (such as olive oil). Both diets were low in cholesterol.

    Interestingly, both groups lost nearly identical amounts of fat, with slight but insignificant losses of lean body mass despite the marked difference in amount and type of fat consumed. This agrees with the idea that the caloric deficit, not the composition of those calories, is the important factor affecting fat or weight loss.

    Yet the picture isn't that simple. The HCLF group lost most of its fat in the lower body (legs and glutes) while the MF group lost the same relative amounts of fat from both the upper and lower body. The ratio of upper- to lower-body fat changing toward a greater distribution of fat in the upper body (including the abdomen) in the HCLF group is important because increased levels of abdominal fat seem to be more problematic with regard to cardiovascular disease and insulin regulation than hip or thigh fat.

    So does this mean you should start eating more fat?

    Well, if you're a non-insulin-dependent diabetic who doesn't exercise, perhaps you should follow the MF diet suggested in this experiment. But people who do exercise, especially bodybuilders, may not have a problem with insulin regulation. In fact, their muscles are typically quite insulin-sensitive. Following a diet that's high in fat (more than 30% of daily calories) certainly isn't needed to help regulate levels of bodyfat, since truncal obesity isn't a major problem with bodybuilders or athletes in general.

    Eating to lose weight is much different from eating to gain muscle mass. Bodybuilders should consume adequate carbs (to replenish muscle glycogen used during exercise) and protein (to provide the necessary building blocks for muscle growth), but do they need the added fat? I think not. Yes, bodybuilders attempting to gain mass need to consume calories above that needed to maintain weight.

    That is, to gain weight, you need to get those extra amino acids and glycogen from your diet. Of course, using androgenic steroids, insulinlike growth factor-1, growth hormone or other anabolic substances changes the entire equation. If you're training drug-free, however, you need to consume calories in excess of your daily expenditure to gain weight.

    Yet you could speculate on some interesting points concerning this study. Looking at weight loss in a normal, nondiabetic person, let's assume that this individual is cutting calories to lose weight (mostly fat, presumably). Let's continue to assume that a diet made up of predominantly more fat, especially monounsaturated fat, leads to a proportional loss of fat from both the upper and lower body, and that this same individual could lose proportionately more fat from the lower body as a result of a low-fat, high-fiber, high-carbohydrate diet.

    This has interesting implications for women who typically have a difficult time losing lower-body fat. Would the high-carb, low-fat diet be a better choice? What about men who may have more difficulty losing upper-body fat? Would they be better off eating a reduced-calorie diet that's relatively high in fat and lower in carbs? The idea is intriguing: Specific diet plans for regional fat loss!

    Nonetheless, keep in mind that diet should be tailored for very specific purposes and for specific populations. Don't give the bodybuilder a diet that's good for the diabetic, and don't give the endurance athlete a diet that more closely meets the needs of the strength-power athlete. Perhaps men and women will respond differently, as well. One diet, like one shoe size, doesn't fit all.

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  • Exercise Your Right to be Flexible
    Exercise Your Right to be Flexible

    Reach For Your Health!

    (PHYS, September 1999) � When it comes to fitness regimens, stretching usually comes in a distant third � behind aerobics and strength training � probably because it isn't directly associated with weight loss or dramatic changes in appearance. Yet without a good stretch, all your hard work at the gym would not be complete. Stretching before and after physical activity will not only help prevent injury, but can also improve sports performance by increasing your range of motion and improving your coordination.

    Even if you aren't going to get a full workout, spending twenty minutes a day stretching can have a wonderful effect on your general well-being. Stretching now will also help you avoid some of the unpleasant hallmarks of aging, such as decreased flexibility, poor balance and stiff joints. Regular stretching will free your body of muscular tension, improve circulation and enhance muscle tone. Best of all, stretching makes you feel good.

    Before you begin stretching, read the tips below to learn how to get the most from your exercise.

    Stretching Do's and Don'ts:

    • Stretch as often as you can � three to five times a week is recommended.
    • Remember to stretch after you work out. Many people think stretching is only necessary before exercise, but stretching afterwards is essential to avoid cramping, tightness and reduced range of motion.
    • Warm up for three to five minutes prior to stretching. A warm-up is any continuous movement that increases your body's core temperature, such as going up and down the stairs a few times or riding a stationary bike.
    • Breathe slowly and deeply throughout each stretch. Calm breathing will help relax you and your muscles and facilitate safe, effective stretching.
    • Focus on the muscles being stretched and hold each stretch for at least ten to thirty seconds, or five to six full breaths. Repeat each stretch three to five times.
    • Don't bounce. Bouncing can force the joints past their natural range of motion, causing sprains of the ligaments or tendons. Instead, focus on stretching to a point where you feel a mild tension. If the tension goes away after ten to thirty seconds of holding the stretch, adjust your body ever so slightly until you feel a mild tension again, and hold for ten to thirty seconds.
    • Most importantly, stretching should feel good. Never go beyond the point of feeling a mild tension in your muscles. If the tension is uncomfortable, you are overstretching and should ease up slightly.
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  • Green tea extract may promote weight loss
    Green tea extract may promote weight loss
    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Already lauded as a powerful antioxidant, green tea extract may also help dieters shed fat, say researchers reporting in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    The extract may also be a safe improvement on traditional diet drugs because its benefits are "not accompanied by an increase in heart rate," write Dr. Abdul Dulloo, of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and colleagues.

    As part of their study, the investigators measured the 24-hour energy expenditure of 10 healthy men receiving three doses of caffeine (50 mg), green tea extract (containing 50 mg caffeine and 90 mg epigallocatechin), or a 'dummy' placebo per day.

    The study authors report that, compared with placebo, treatment with green tea was associated with a "significant increase" (+4%) in daily energy expenditure. This effect was not linked to the relatively small amounts of caffeine found in tea, since subjects receiving amounts of caffeine similar to those found in green tea displayed no change in daily energy output.

    Dulloo's team points out that "there are only two ways to treat obesity: reduce energy intake (i.e., dieting), or increase energy expenditure." According to their analysis, green tea extract seems to perform the latter function, although the mechanisms behind its action remain unclear.

    The investigators note, however, that green tea extract contains a high amount of catechin polyphenols. These compounds may work with other chemicals to increase levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis, where the body burns fuel such as fat to create heat.

    "Stimulation of thermogenesis and fat oxidation by the green tea extract" did not raise subjects' heart rates, the researchers note. This may render green tea superior to stimulant diet drugs, which can have adverse cardiac effects, especially in "obese individuals with hypertension and other cardiovascular complications."

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  • Making healthy lifestyle changes.
    Making healthy lifestyle changes.

    If you've resolved to leave bad habits behind, you know how difficult it can be to maintain that resolve, but there are some ways you can successfully negotiate the path to new behaviors.

    Set goals and objectives. They add aim to energy, focus effort and structure time. Surveys show that people who plan ahead are much more successful over the long term than those who plunge in without knowing where they're going or how they'll get there. Remember: Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable and realistic.

    Put your goals in writing. Written goals are a tangible sign of a promise that you intend to keep. They will also help you track you progress, make your accomplishments more obvious, and help you identify problem areas that need more attention.

    Identify supporters and saboteurs. The support of others will make it easier for you to pass through the sometimes difficult transition from old to new behaviors. Identify the people who will nurture you and help you maintain your well-being, as well as those who don't see your point of view.

    Plan for the unexpected. Lack of time is the most frequently mentioned reason for discontinuing a fitness program. Life is filled with surprises, so include strategies that assure you will make time for keeping your commitment.

    Reward your success. Set up a reward system so you can receive a treat for changed behaviors. Some examples include extra time for yourself with a favorite book, a manicure or pedicure, a trip with a special friend or a lecture or play that stimulates your mind. Avoid rewards related to food and drink that may be sabotaging in the long run.

    Negotiating the path to new behaviors can be fulfilling and rewarding if you can hang in there for the weeks to months necessary to make new behaviors lifestyle habits.

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