Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympian Appetite on a Couch Potato Budget?

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Have you had a chance to watch any of the Olympics? I have been able to see a little, especially the swimming. One of the most jaw-dropping facts was the nutritional intake of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. If I heard it correctly, his daily calorie intake is about 12,000. That sounds a lot like what I was consuming before starting on this move to a healthier lifestyle. And because he sets world records just by getting in the water, eating that much hasn’t slowed him down. I also saw his daily workout schedule and see why even at 12,000 calories, he is at the top of his game. He has to eat that much!

Eat, sleep, swim! Unfortunately for most of us, we have some other factors to consider – work and family – just to name a couple. I’m sure many of the other athletes have similar caloric intake exercise rations allowing (actually requiring) them to consume large amounts of food to maintain a rigorous exercise routine. For us normal people it actually works the same way. You adjust your calorie needs to the maintenance needs and exercise program you incorporate into your daily routine. If you don’t exercise, you don’t need to eat as much. And if you eat too much, you will gain weight. If you exercise a lot, you adjust your calorie needs to your body. Weight gain and weight loss for most healthy amount to calories burned and calories consumed. If you consume less than you burn, you lose weight and vice versa.

If we can get more of our children on a regular exercise routine, science tells us that they will lose weight, and obesity cases might decrease. If we can additionally help them make smart choices, then they can lose even more weight, and we can have an even greater impact on obesity. Exercise and making smart nutritional choices. Simple enough.

If you plan on consuming 12,000 calories a day, then be prepared to swim to New Orleans, often.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

One of the swimming styles that Michal Phelps excels in is the butterfly. That is an intense form of activity and burns a lot of calories. I don’t know Michael’s weight and height to be able to calculate his energy expenditure, but a 200-pound person expends about 1,000 calories in an hour in butterfly swimming. Michael likely spends at least four hours a day in the pool practicing, and each hour is about an extra 1,000 calories that he uses. Not only are his muscles using energy when he is practicing, but his body also has to work hard to keep his body temperature up during the time he is in the pool. So I am not surprised that his caloric intake is as high as reported. Yet, he is very lean.

Physical activity is one of the important aspects of our daily energy expenditure under our control. We decide how much time we spend on activity each day. The amount of time we spend on physical activity together with resting energy expenditure then determines our total energy expenditure. If we want to maintain weight, we will match that energy expenditure with our daily caloric intake. If we want to lose weight, we need to eat less than we expend. It sounds simple enough, but as soon as our bodies sense that we are getting fewer calories than we expend, havoc ensues. We get hungry. We think about food all the time. We develop cravings. We overeat once we start eating. And on top of that our metabolism slows down. The best way to combat all that is to be physically active. Physical activity can moderate our caloric intake by overriding some of the signals the body would be sending otherwise when we cut back on calories. Our bodies are made to be active, and there are immediate positive changes that take place once we start being more active.

I hope watching the Olympic athletes will make you want to be more active and inspire many of you to adopt a new habit. Choose something that you will want to do for the rest of your life. Make it part of your lifestyle. Don’t think of it as a nuisance you have to get through or as a dose of bad medicine to stay healthy. Make it fun.

Heli Roy


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dress Down Your Salads

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I made a comment the other day that I wanted to eat a light lunch and thought about a salad. Sounds light enough. Then I saw a note from one of the nutritionists who had analyzed some salads mentioned in a popular publication to discover that the featured salads were high in fat and loaded in calories. You would just as well eat a fat burger, fries and sugar drink. A salad is only “lite” if you, the salad maker, make it light. The biggest problem from my limited experience is the dressing. Ever saw the calorie and fat content of most salad dressings?

A second big problem with salads is our perception that they are good for us so we can eat more. You can destroy your daily calorie needs with a “lite” salad drenched with high-fat dressing and a portion that is too large. The next time you build your own salad, make a note of the ingredients and have someone knowledgeable determine the calorie and fat content. (I would add 25% because most of us fudge on what we eat anyway.)

Fresh and natural is always better. I see a recurring theme that we as overweight adults seem to add stuff to our natural foods in search of taste and flavor only to discover that we have added empty calories and increased fat, sugar and other not so good items. Whatever happened to a little yellow mustard and salt and pepper? Salt in moderation, of course. Now we have thousands of artery clogging condiments that we add to already tasty, natural agricultural products, and then we blame the agricultural product for being unhealthy. But when you want to indulge and make un-smart choices, any excuse will do.

Enjoy your food but do watch the stuff you douse it with. I think that I’ll pass on the salad today and get some fresh products and make smart choices in moderation.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The salads that the chancellor mentioned were not light by any definition. There were five salad recipes, and I would like to discuss them in some detail so you can see that they were not light meals.

Salad 1 had a half pound of bacon and ½ cup of ranch dressing. Together those two ingredients add about 90 grams of fat and more than 1,300 calories to the salad, to be divided among four people. The end result was 480 calories and 38 grams of fat in each serving. Salad 2 had chicken, but so much oil that each serving had 580 calories and 40 grams of fat. The third choice had tuna, which is a healthy choice, but it also had ½ cup of mayonnaise. The total calories were 380 and 27 grams of fat – the lowest in fat content of all of the salads listed. The fourth choice had ½ cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup of sour cream and three avocadoes to be split among four people. Each serving ended up having 400 calories and 35 grams of fat. The last recipe had ½ cup olive oil, certainly a healthy type of oil, and ricotta cheese, and each serving had 450 calories and 38 grams of fat.

What could you do to make these salads healthier? Avoid using bacon. Use the bacon-flavored soy chips instead. Avoid using regular, full-fat ranch dressing. Make your own ranch dressing with nonfat ingredients or buy low-fat or nonfat ranch dressing. Reduce the use of oil in salad dressings as much as possible. Think outside the dressing bottle and use yogurt or plain balsamic vinegar with herbs as a dressing. Also, avoid using regular mayonnaise, but use low-fat varieties in its place. Go easy on products high in fat such as avocadoes.

Salads can be light and full of important phytonutrients, but we must be careful how we dress our salads to keep them low in fat and healthy.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Less Food Slows Aging

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I ran across an interesting article in a local newspaper recently – “Study: Eating Less Might Slow Aging.” Sounds like a good topic to me. Many previous research studies have shown that eating less slows aging in rats and mice. The theory that was expressed in this study is consuming fewer calories decreases the production of the thyroid hormone, triiodothyronime (T3), which then slows down metabolism and tissue aging. The hormone seems to decrease when humans regularly skip dessert and choose turkey over a fat burger. The study indicates that calorie reduction works in humans like it has been shown to work in animals. The lead author in the study, Edward Weiss, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, did offer one warning, however. He said while cutting calories, people need to maintain a healthy diet by eating nutrient-rich food. In other words, don’t starve yourself. Finally, Dr. Weiss said that the key to maintaining a healthy weight is keeping a consistent diet and exercising regularly.

Let me get this straight, eat less, but make smart choices about what you eat. Get regular exercise. Then, you will probably live longer, and the quality of your life might be better also. Sounds like a good plan to me! This one study seems to validate 10 months of blogging! But, can we put it into practice?

Lost two pounds since last Tuesday’s weigh-in. Eight more to go and now eight weeks to get there.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Eating less – a lot less – may mean living longer. Eating up to 30% less calories than normal, while consuming the adequate amount of nutrients, may lead to better health and a longer life span. Dietary caloric restriction is the best method of slowing aging and extending lifespan in laboratory animals. There have been few human trials on this topic because of the difficulty of maintaining such a low-caloric intake. It has been studied around the world in laboratory animals for more than 60 years. There are still questions that need answers such as: By what mechanism does it work? Will it work in humans?

Researchers are studying this situation, including researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. They are trying to determine what happens to our metabolism as they study extreme calorie restriction. Dr. Don Ingram, from PBRC and formerly from the National Institutes of Aging, is trying to find a way to “mimic” calorie restriction because it’s difficult for most dieters to stay on track. And when you’re trying to reduce calorie intake by a third below normal levels, it is very, very difficult to do for any length of time.

When the laboratory animals are in the “very low-energy” environment, they actually have a response at the genetic level, and they slow down development, halt reproduction, reduce their metabolic rate, and some even go into a suspended animation or hibernation-like state. This same response mechanism also turns on many biochemical defenses to enhance response to stress and ward off disease.

Whether or not the same response happens in humans has not been solved yet, but research shows that calorie restriction has many beneficial effects. Several studies in obese diabetic patients have shown that calorie restriction improves fasting glucose levels. Insulin sensitivity is increased significantly, and there is weight loss. Insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose improve with weight loss, but these improvements in glucose and insulin values were determined to be independent of the weight loss.

Calorie restriction extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in laboratory animals and primates. How it works is not known. Caloric restriction seems to reduce metabolic rate and alters the endocrine and nervous system functions. Further studies will show whether caloric restriction decreases the incidence of chronic diseases and increases life span in humans. Caloric restriction is very different from starvation. Starvation not only means extreme limitation in the intake of calories, but the intake of nutrients is inadequate as well. Mild caloric restriction with adequate nutrition can be sustained for some time and results in improvements in many metabolic variables such as weight, blood lipids, glucose and insulin levels. Further studies in humans will show us what degree of caloric restriction gets us the best results.

Heli Roy


Monday, August 11, 2008

Pick Up Your Pace

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I read over the weekend that Louisiana is now the fourth fattest state in the Union, falling behind Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The article didn’t say our drop in the obesity sweepstakes was because we have improved as a state or because the others were getting fatter. Regardless, fourth is nothing to shout about, and we have a lot more to do.

A friend sent me an article about walking pace. It seems that your walking pace has a lot to do with your aging. If I read the article right, you should walk at least 2 ½ miles per hour. As you recall, we have set forth the 4-4-4 plan, which equates to about 4 miles per hour. If you are strolling along at less than 2.5 miles per hour, you might want to slowly increase your pace because this will have some positive impact on your health. A moderate to vigorous level of exertion four times per week will help you keep fit and, with attention to your nutrition, maintain your weight at a healthy level or reduce your weight, depending on your goals.

I got off to a slow start this month but have my travels behind me and am ready to make sure that the 4-4-4 plan is followed strictly. I had a great walk yesterday even though it was hot and have plans for another one today outdoors, if the rains hold off. The nutrition plan is going great, and I actually have a real food log, which will get analyzed. I dropped two pounds last week and will get those final 8-10 pounds off by September 30.

I hope you enjoyed Whissie’s picture. He is a great pet and really loves our walks.

Bill Richardson

2/10/2009 1:16:39 AM
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