Okay, maybe it has everything to do with diet, but perhaps not quite so directly. People always want to know that quick fix to losing weight and especially belly fat. I can tell you, a quick fix doesn't exist that will keep weight off. Sometimes people will ask me, "what's the number one thing you would have me do to lose weight?". When I respond, "sleep more", I often think people want to slug me or at the least they think I'm crazy. Admittedly, I am no sleep expert. However, I do know how poor sleep slows down weight loss.
The average American adult does not sleep enough. Most studies show that an individual needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night, which by and large, we are not getting. In 2013 the average American adult got 6.8 hours of sleep per night, in 1942 7.9 hours per night. So what?! You may be thinking. What could that have to do with weight loss, metabolism, or weight maintenance? SOOOO MUCH!
If you have sleep problems, you really have 24 hour problems. Your cognitive ability from storing and accessing memories is compromised. Your ability to be creative is impacted. It can affect your physical safety, social interactions, mental health, and for the purposes of this post: YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH. People with sleep difficulties are more likely to be obese, they have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and higher levels of inflammation.
I know you are saying, come on, why is this the 1st thing you will recommend? Let's talk hormones. You have a hormone called 'Leptin', this is secreted to say "I'm full, I'm satisfied, You don't need any more food". It's your satiety hormone. And in sleep deprivation, you have LESS OF IT. That means your body has a decreased ability to know when you have eaten enough. You also have a hormone called 'Ghrelin'. I like to remember it as 'yellin ghrelin'. It's your hunger or "hanger'' hormone. It is secreted when your body is telling you, I need MORE food. This hormone is increased with sleep debt. That means you have more of it telling you eat, EAT, EAT! You also have an increase in the hormone cortisol. This is a stress hormone, and your body secretes more of it when you are stressed, or when you are sleep deprived. It tells your body to STORE BELLY FAT!
So poor sleep = hormones telling you YOU HAVEN"T EATEN ENOUGH, YOU NEED TO EAT MORE, AND STORE BELLY FAT. No wonder this is the first thing I will recommend to someone.
Simply by adding 30-40 minutes of sleep per night will affect a cascade of hormones that help you decide when and how much to eat. Aside from hormones, motivation to exercise is shown to decrease with lack of sleep, and poorer performance with less sleep. One study showed sleep deprived people eat an average of 263 calories (for men) and 329 calories (for women) more per day than their less sleep deprived selves. At the end of a week that could be the difference of an additional pound gained.
That 30-40 minutes of extra sleep may pay more dividends in terms of weight goals than 30-40 minutes at the gym. What! Yes, you read that right, if I had to choose between gym time or sleep, Sleep would win every time. You will be rewarded with better hormone balances, better food choices, and being more effective with tasks at hand.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep hygiene.
1)limit light at night, set your phone to limit blue light or take it out of the room altogether
2) take time to wind down, do relaxing activities before bed, and limit conversations about stressful things in your life, avoid task oriented activities
3) set up an ideal bedroom (cool, dark, quiet, clean, no clock, good mattress, no pets)
4) When you wake up, try to get in full spectrum light for 30 minutes first thing in the morning like 1-2 hours of waking up (get outside in the sun)
Sleep and stress management is a HUGE part of weight management. If you have any more questions about sleep or weight loss, please consider my weight loss coaching program. We will train your metabolism to chug along at the fastest pace possible.
Food allergies, sensitivities and intolerance's are a hot topic these days. It seems that every day someone new is telling you about another food item they can not eat.
I will tell you I have some food intolerance's, for instance: I don't tolerate food served cold that should be piping hot, I don't tolerate mustard, and I don't tolerate pickles, never liked them much. In fact as a child, I remember telling people I was allergic to mustard because I just didn't like the taste. This is funny to me now. Anyways, this is not the point of my blog article today.
As with all generations, we want our children to have a better "go" at things than we ourselves had. And I would like to say, I hope we ALL feel that way with regard to allergies. A new study put out by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from 1997-2011, children with food allergies increased about 50% in the US. So rates are on the rise. Many people believe as the rates go up so should our avoidance of certain common allergens, but this is not the case.
A recent study was the first of it's kind where a randomized trial evaluated if early peanut exposure would prevent food allergies from developing in infants that were at higher risk of developing peanut allergies by age 5. Amazingly, the study showed that infants exposed to peanuts in the first 11 months of life were at a significantly decreased risk of developing peanut allergies.
Of course, if you suspect that your child is at high risk of developing a peanut allergy, you should discus the introduction of this food into your infants diet with your physician before doing so.
I find this information very encouraging, that the introduction of a food in early life can train the immune system that this food is "okay" and not harmful for the body.
But we seem to be expert at underestimating.....
These truths have led to increasingly large waist lines. What am I talking about? Calories. We are really, really bad at guessing the calories in meals served to us at restaurants.
In a study conducted in 2006, on average, 90 percent of people underestimated the caloric content of restaurant foods by more than 600 calories. MORE THAN 600 CALORIES. If you ate an additional 600 calories per day, it would take you less than a week to gain a pound. You could potentially gain over 60 pounds in a years time!
The study went a little like this:
Surveyor: How many calories do you think are in the hamburger and french fries you just ordered?
Diner: Oh, about 890 calories.
Surveyor: WRONG! Upwards of 1500 calories. (Closer to what most people need in an entire day)
Before 2010 more than half (56 percent) of the nation's large chain restaurants did not provide adequate nutritional information, some not any information. Those that did, often did not have this information available on site. The information could be obtained by writing to corporate contacts, visiting confusing websites, or brochures mailed upon request. With the scarcity of this information and lack of proximity, even if requested, to an individual at the point of sale, it made little change to their purchasing decision and thus their caloric intake for a meal.
When nutritional information is easily available to consumers, they appear to be influenced by it in making dietary choices. In one study, about half (48 percent) of people reported that the nutritional information on food labels has caused them to change their minds in buying a food product.
A new meta-analysis (which is just a fancy way of saying - a review of A LOT of studies) shows that certain genetic predispositions for obesity does not preclude lifestyle changes from having successful outcomes in weight loss efforts. The analysis looked at diet, exercise and drug based interventions. Look at this quote:
"We found that the FTO genotype had no detectable effect on weight loss in overweight and obese adults in response to intervention. Importantly, our findings show that the genetic predisposition to obesity associated with the FTO minor allele can be at least partly counteracted through dietary, exercise, or drug based weight loss interventions and that those carrying the minor allele respond equally well to such interventions," Mathers and colleagues said.
This is great news! Even if your genetics have assisted in packing on a few extra pounds, it doesn't mean you are doomed to stay at your current weight. Diet and lifestyle intervention can help you shed unwanted pounds.
An emerging area of science continues to be the gut frontier. Each of us has living within us more living bacterial organisms than we have our own cells making up our bodies. This ecosystem is largely symbiotic with us, meaning it provides benefits to us humans (as the host) and we provide benefits to these bacteria in the way of a habitat and a constant source of food.
Questions scientists of late are trying to answer include many of the following:
A recent study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown that the connection between gut bacteria (microbiota) populations and the distribution of fat tissue among children teenage populations. This is the first study that I know of to clearly see this.
"Our findings show children and teenagers with obesity have a different composition of gut flora than lean youth," said the study's senior author, Nicola Santoro, MD, PhD, Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale University in New Haven, CT. "This suggests that targeted modifications to the specific species composing the human microbiota could be developed and could help to prevent or treat early-onset obesity in the future."
The study examined gut microbiota and weight in 84 children and teenagers who were between 7 and 20 years old. The participants included 27 youth who were obese, 35 who were severely obese, seven who were overweight and 15 who were normal weight. Researchers analyzed the participants' gut microbiota. The participants underwent an MRI to measure body fat partitioning, provided blood samples and kept a three-day food diary.
The findings showed an increase in short chain fatty acids circulating in the blood. Short chain fatty acids are something that bacteria can convert undigested food into, then your colon cells absorb them and your blood sends it to other areas in the body, most importantly here, the liver. In the liver these short chain fatty acids can accumulate and be converted to adipose tissue.
There are many questions a study like this brings up, however as a Dietitian, I find this research exciting and compelling that in the years to come we may have additional helps to combat obesity.
Study Information: Endocrine Society. "Gut bacteria differ between obese, lean youth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160920130825.htm>.
This weekend I hosted guests inside my home from Bordeaux, France and Sao Paulo, Brazil. As always I love taking advantage of the time with international guests to learn about their culture, lifestyles and ESPECIALLY the foods they like to eat. I had breakfast each morning with these guests and what I saw them eat might surprise you, it sure surprised me! In this post, I’ll just discuss my French visitors.
After spending time in Nutrition classes we would always talk about the French paradox which is a catchphrase that was first used in the 80s and 90s describing the diet of the French people and how it is soooo (so, so very) rich in saturated fats and yet France has a very LOW incident of heart disease. Many have tried to characterize, reason, explain away the low incidence of heart disease with other cultural factors. My favorite explanations include that their lifestyles include much more time spent walking. They walk after meals, and our view of Parisians is that they walk everywhere all the time. I would argue this is becoming less true as we become more of a digital world (and not all French people live in Paris). My other favorite explanation is the rich amount of red wine they consume (I’ll take any additional reasons to consume some more red wine). This says nothing of genetics, and the countless other explanations.
Some figures that I find astonishing is that French people eat 4 times as much butter as Americans, 60% more cheese and nearly 3 times the pork. Are you ready to move to France? Adopt this diet and have less of a chance to develop heart disease? It must be something in the water right?!
Perhaps some day I will dissect my thoughts publicly for you regarding the French paradox, but I am going to get back to the point of this post, which is to share my surprise at what MY French visitors were choosing to eat this weekend.
I expected them to choose my freshly brewed, piping hot, very organic coffee. No, they brewed some earl grey tea. I expected them to have some cheese I offered and whole wheat bread, no again. They both ate about 6 of these cookies.
I then offered them some fresh nectarines, which they both graciously accepted. This was very odd to me. Of course I had no piping hot and buttery croissants to offer, or fresh baguettes. Maybe this isn’t fair, maybe it is just vacation, I thought. So I asked, what do you normally eat for breakfast? “Sweet biscuits” came the reply. Who am I to judge, they both were a very healthy weight and appeared to be quite healthy. However, if I were to consume the breakfast I watched them eat, the cookies, the tea, the fresh fruit, with no protein I would crash and burn HARD. It wouldn't take much time either.
A French couple that visited a few weeks ago shared with my husband and I that they eat out almost every meal, and make a weekly point to go to McDonalds on Sundays for dinner when they head to the cinema. Again, this surprised me. They also made a point to visit in and out burger twice while they were visiting.
I believe there is room for foods in moderation that make you happy even if they aren’t the best choice for you to incorporate EVERY DAY. But, please don’t take this post as giving license to eat 6 cookies for breakfast every day.
Both sets of French visitors stated that they eat fruit and vegetables in moderation, a lot of cheese, some bread, and a lot of fish and meat. They all enjoy good wine, how could you not when living in Bordeaux? They all kind of laughed at their diet choices after they found out I was a Dietitian. And this post will not give you much confidence in supporting my next claim, which is: I really don't sit judging what other people eat. And you definitely don't need to feel like you have to confess what you ate for breakfast or dessert last night when you see me next. However, I did find it interesting how all these food choices were very different than what I had thought and what I had been taught regarding French lifestyle.
As always if you are in need of help with your eating habits or that of your families, please contact me, I would love to help. For now, Bon Appetit.
I'm sure you've seen sprouted products on the shelves of the health food store, they are even entering main stream markets like Trader Joes, Costco and other major grocers. Even wondered what's the big deal? Are they worth the hype?
In short, they are a big deal and worth the hype. What is a sprouted grain you may ask? A sprouted grain lives somewhere in between being a grain seed and a developing new plant. I say it 'lives' somewhere, because it is LIVING. In order for seeds to grow, it must be activated by certain conditions, like warm air and moist environment. Once these conditions are met the seeds grow, when they are changed the sprouting stops.
Why does it matter that these grains have been sprouted? Like, how does it actually help you? Enzymes are released in the process of sprouting, these enzymes assist in breaking down proteins and carbohydrates. Due to the presence of these extra enzymes, these grains are easier to digest. They are also lower on the glycemic index than their non-sprouted counterparts. Key nutrients like B vitamins, folate, fiber and essential amino acids are present to a higher degree in sprouted grains.
What if you are allergic to gluten? There are gluten free sprouted grains like sprouted quinoa.
Sprouted grains have a hearty, nutty flavor. They can be cooked and eaten as a side dish in place of rice or potatoes, or ground into flours for breads and muffins. I also love using sprouted grain bread, which I can buy ready made and all I need to do is toast it!
feeding beyond 6 months even up and to 12 months to 24 months is more beneficial for infants. This was shocking to our class as we kept reading 6 months, 6 months, 6 months. She further said that the recommendations remained at 6 months because these groups knew that if they set the bar as high as 12 months of exclusive breastfeeding, instead of women trying for that length of time, they wouldn't even start. GASP! But, as we learn, study after study, breast IS best, AND if at all possible mothers should try and breastfeed their children over formula. I am always interested when I hear information on breastfeeding rates, and I am super encouraged to read that breastfeeding rates continue to be on the rise in the US. Check out the CDC's recent report and report card showing these new numbers.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
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