Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is Slow Metabolism the Cause of Weight Gain?

The Gist of It
While slow metabolism exists, it’s a rare condition that has nothing to do with being overweight.
Being overweight has everything to do with diet and exercise (or rather, the wrong diet and exercise).
To really lose weight, you need to commit to a lifestyle of clean eating and regular exercising.

There is such a thing as a slow metabolism. Slow metabolism however, is rare and it’s usually not what’s behind being overweight or obese. Being overweight usually a matter of diet and exercise.

Metabolism is a chemical process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Metabolism efficiency means some people need more calories to burn fuel, while other have to work harder at it. Just like cars, no two 1.5cc car marquees are similar in fuel efficiency.

Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for functions such as breathing, circulating blood and repairing cells. The brain — the hardest working organ in your body together with the heart — which is the strongest muscle in the body, draws a massive amount of calories to enable proper function. That’s why people with jobs that require plenty of concentration and stress naturally feel the need to consistently feed their brains with stimulus to enable high continuous function. Usually, this comes in the form carbohydrates. Chocolate, coffee and snacks are the biggest culprits.

The number of calories your body uses for these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your body’s rate of energy needs are dependent of some predetermined factors.

What Affects Your Energy Needs
1. Your body size and composition
If you weigh more or have more muscle mass, you will burn more calories, even at rest. So overweight people are more likely to have a faster metabolic rate — not a slower one. One noticeable feature of overweight individuals is an elevated heart rate even at rest. Because an extensive body mass needs to be ‘fed’ with oxygen, the heart works overtime to make that happen.

2. Your sex
If you’re a man, you probably have less body fat and more muscle mass than does a woman of the same age, so you burn more calories. In order to retain body muscular composition, muscles need to be replenished with nutrients in order to retain its mass.

3. Your age
As you get older, your muscle mass decreases, which slows down the rate at which you burn calories. Face it this way. When I was in my teens and twenties, I was Superman. I could down wolf down whole pizzas easily, work all day, knock off work at 10pm, go out for drinks till 3am and start work again at 6.30am the next day and repeat that 3 days’ a week. 20 years later, I can’t do any of those. Age bites.

4. Genetics and family history

Your genetic make-up can influence your likelihood to become obese in subtle ways through taste perception and appetite control or in more direct ways such as how and where you accumulate fat. If one of your parents is severely obese, your risk increases five-fold.

Only rarely is excessive weight gain caused by a medical problem that slows metabolism, such as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

All other excuses with weight gain filters down to 2 other factors. Lifestyle choices and activity limitation, where too many calories are consumed as opposed to expansion.

Lifestyle habits grow on you with time. As we enjoy more affluent lifestyles, our tendency to reduce activity becomes more apparent due to the fact that we need to become financially busier to maintain the same or increase the lifestyle quality of the present. So, as people strive to work harder either to maintain or increase lifestyle quality, health and fitness take a back seat. Alcohol consumption, overeating, indulgence are usual sins that are associated with poor lifestyle habits.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Ways to Get Processed Food Out of Your Diet

One of the most powerful health choices you can make is to "unprocess" your diet. With all the controversy about the "perfect way" to eat, there's one guideline that everyone can agree on: minimizing or avoiding processed foods.

Processed foods not only have damaging effects on their own, but they also crowd out the healthful options on your plate. Processed foods are difficult to define, since "processing" technically just means it has been altered from its original state.

A processed food can range from whole-grain pasta to a candy bar, as neither is in its "natural state," yet one is clearly more natural than the other. For purposes of enhancing nutrition and supporting a diet that helps with weight management and disease prevention, processed foods can be defined as ones that are far removed from nature, contain chemical additives and are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor.

Here are five simple ways to unprocess your diet:

1. Pick your packaging.
Ideally, the majority of our food comes without any packaging: vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs, of course, but also items such as legumes, whole grains and nuts and seeds that either come unwrapped in the bulk section or packaged for purposes of transportation. Try to fill your shopping cart with mostly (or exclusively) these items.

2. Choose whole grains.
Whole grains have their fiber and nutrients intact. For example, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oats and bulgur are whole grains, which means they contain all three components: the bran, germ and endosperm.
Once these parts are stripped away and the original grain devolves into a broken, shredded, flaked or puffed version of itself, nutrients are lost, calories become more concentrated and the benefits decrease. Opt for whole grains when possible.

3. Cook your own food.
Full control of your meals can only be had when you make them from scratch. It's the only way to eat as wholesomely as possible and avoid consuming foods not in alignment with your dietary priorities. You don't need fancy cooking skills. Learning a few simple techniques -- like blending a homemade dressing, making a hearty soup and boiling whole grains and legumes -- is more than enough to keep you satisfied and inspired in the kitchen. Start by following recipes and noting what you prefer as well as practicing the techniques that are common in many recipes. Once you have a repertoire of delicious dishes you love, you will be fluent in cooking.

4. Read the nutrition label.
You can ignore everything on a nutrition label except for the ingredient list. The rest of it is advertising and can be utterly confusing. Go by these three simple rules when selecting foods at the grocery store:
* You should be able to recognize and easily pronounce all of the ingredients.
* There should be no more than five ingredients total.
* When in doubt, put the package down and move on.
5. Make at least half your plate/day/diet fruits and veggies.

Nobody can disagree that fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and that the vast majority of the population does not consume enough of them.
All the leading health organizations, including the USDA and World Health Organization, recommend we eat more fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of chronic disease, enhance immune function and moderate a healthy calorie intake.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How Much Should Your Workout Hurt?

Pain can indicate progress, or problems. Here's how you gauge discomfort.

Differentiating between the usual, “I just worked out really hard” pains, and the more worrisome, “I think I might’ve hurt myself” ones can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to push yourself towards progress. “There’s a pain of injury and a pain of adaptation—one is bad, and the other is good,” says Equinox Advisory Board Member Justin Mager, Ph.D., a San Francisco Bay Area-based exercise physiologist and physician. To know the difference, read on.  

The Good Kind:
Comeback aches
“You might be doing an activity perfectly, but if you haven’t something like high-intensity cardio in a while, it is normal for your body to ache a bit during and after your session,” he says. 

Immediate aftershock
When you perform an activity pain-free, and then feel really sore afterwards, that’s a good sign. “Pain after properly executed exercise means that your body is adapting to become more fit,” says Mager. Note: Taking ibuprofren or other anti-inflammatories might slow down those fitness adaptations. 

(Perfectly normal) soreness
Your soreness could last anywhere from two to four days post-workout. Rather than stopping all movement and letting the pain take over during that time, you should work through it and keep your muscles moving instead, says Mager.

The Bad Kind:
Biomechanical error
“I had really bad left knee pain, and then an Olympic weightlifting coach taught me how to do squats differently. Now my knee feels better than ever,” says Mager. “If you don’t have any pain prior to your activity, and then you experience pain while you’re performing a particular movement, you should take a step back and have a trainer evaluate your biomechanics.” 

Interconnected injuries
Any chronic, pre-existing pain in your back, hips or knees might rear its ugly head in other parts of your body, says Mager. “For example, an ankle issue will probably create knee issues. It’s important to make those connections so that you can avoid misdiagnosis and focus your treatment appropriately.” 

Localized pain
“A repetition should not feel painful,” says Mager. “Take a bench press, for example: If you’re doing it right, both arms and chest are going to burn out together. But if you have discomfort in one area, it’s muscular failure and a sign that something’s off,” says Mager. “If you’re experiencing localized pain during or after strength training, it’s a red flag.”

Acute, out-of-nowhere aches
Any sharp, stabbing, traumatic, and/or sudden pains during any kind of workout should be checked out immediately.

The overdoing-it variety
After your two-to-four day recovery period, if the pain lingers into your next attempted exercise session, you might be overtraining or not recovering adequately enough between workouts. “If you’re doing maximal work, you need maximal recovery,” says Mager.