Night Munchies…

Filed under :Health promoting

The simple lifestyle phenomenon of night eating defined as ‘getting up at night to eat’ is a habit that many may possess.

In a recent study, researchers examined the association between the habit of eating at night, and the 5-6 year preceding subsequent weight changes in a middle-aged population.

This research found that women with night eating habits experienced an average 6 year weight gain of 5.2 kg (11.5 lb), whereas only 0.9 kg (2 lb) average weight gain was seen among women who did not get up at night to eat.

Night eating and weight change were not associated among men (very surprising to me).

Eating at night is generally not recommended, and I personally consider it to be a bad habit.  The night eating behavior often results in “morning anorexia” (minimal or no calorie intake at breakfast), evening hyperphagia (at least 50% of daily calorie intake after the evening meal) and insomnia.

As any bad habit, night eating is possible to change with small effort and lots of will-power.  This small lifestyle change is beneficial in the long run. Preventing wait gain (especially in women), “promoting” breakfast, as well as eliminating random night time awakening, giving you a better sleep!


The chronically dieting women…

Filed under :Exercise, Health promoting

For most healthy women, “going on a diet” for a designated time should present few, if any, nutritional or long-term health problems.  However, serious health problems may arise for active females who chronically diet or restrict energy intake while expending high amounts of energy in exercise.

If an active female constantly restricts energy intake, it is almost impossible to get adequate nutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins, and minerals).  For example, If not eating enough protein, the body will not be able to maintain and repair muscle tissue and to cover the cost of any protein used for energy during exercise.

Many active females avoid fat either for weight loss or because they think fat is bad for their health.  If fat intake is too low (<10-15% of energy intake), the intake and absorption or the fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids may also be low.

With poor energy intake, many complain of fatigue, frequent injuries, irritability, etc. In this situation, you should either increase total daily energy intake and/or decrease total energy expenditure (less exercise).

Chronic energy restriction can result in decreased bone density, impaired immune response, menstrual dysfunction, anemia, poor exercise performance, and increased recovery time from injury.

Another effect of constant dieting is that it lowers the metabolism rate (more accurately, resting metabolic rate).  This means that the total daily energy expenditure is reduced in people who chronically restrict energy intake.  This decrease is compounded when heavy physical activity is combined with low energy intakes.

It is important to keep healthy energy statues.  An adequate intake of macronutrients is important as well as micronutrients for optimal health and fitness.


Dietary supplements-Vitamins and minerals…

Filed under :Food Hypes, Health promoting

Dietary supplements – a very confusing and mysterious subject for many.  People might use supplements for a number of different reasons.  Some top reasons may be to: improve overall health, prevent/cure a disease, or because they heard about it from family/friend/media, etc. Majority of people believes that even if they are not using dietary supplements now they should start using them. The reason behind this is that people think that supplements are a part of a healthy lifestyle, or are necessary to maintain good health. However, this kind of philosophy is not very accurate.

The following are some reasons why you should be using dietary supplements: if you are trying to conceive, are pregnant, have a food restriction (e.g. vegetarian, don’t eat milk products, restricting calorie intake, etc), or are an elderly person. For healthy adults who eat a healthy diet with a variety of foods there should be no need to be consuming dietary supplements. I personally see it as a pure waste of money.

As an example, let’s look at vitamin C.  Did you know you can get your daily recommended dosage of vitamin C from eating just one orange (as well as many other fruits or veggies)?  Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin; therefore any extra that your body doesn’t need it will dispose of through urine (the same applies to the B-complex vitamins). Too much vitamin C (over 10,000mg in one serving) can actually be toxic to the body and have a free radical-like effect.

The dietary supplements are not evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – therefore, there is basically no regulation of the manufacturing and the claims that are made on the supplements.  If you decide to use a dietary supplement after all, always choose one that has been at least tested by a “Third Party Evaluation” (independent testing to evaluate quality control issues such as: labeling accuracy, purity, strength, and ability to dissolve). Here are some reliable links to “Third Party Evaluation” (much of the information found online is misleading and incorrect, however these are authoritative sources).

If your body is deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral it will have a tendency to absorb it even better (from the food you eat).  If you are already getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals that your body needs (from food) it will usually decrease absorption of these substances.  Therefore, by taking extra vitamins and minerals in the form of dietary supplements there is a great chance that your body will not absorb all those exaggerated quantities. As a side note, when these supplements are made in factories the manufacturers try to compress as much as possible into one pill to make it as small as possible in order to make it easier for a consumer to swallow. This compression decreases the likelihood that the pill will dissolve in the stomach and get absorbed in the intestine. Alternatively, consuming vitamins and minerals from natural sources will result in better absorption by your body.

In conclusion, you should really focus on eating a healthy diet, including all the “food groups” and trying to get at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day (different colors will give you diverse nutrients).  You should only start supplementing your diet if your health care provider or dietitian suggested you to do so. If you still choose to use supplements, use ones that have been evaluated by a third party and never think that you can substitute a good, healthy diet with supplements. Good diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise – are still your best sources for optimal health!

This was just a very general supplement discussion, if you have a question about a specific vitamin, mineral, ergogenic aid, or supplement – please let me know and I will be happy to discuss it.


My sister’s honey diet…

Filed under :Health promoting

This post I dedicate to my sister…

Honey! An energy source, a health remedy, a long history in almost all cultures and religions around the world – all make honey a true wonder food.

Honey is made by bees from nectar and enzymes in a unique way in the hive.  The prepared honey is then used by the bees as a food source in the winter months.  Honey provides great energy for the bees due to its high caloric value.  Also the physical properties of honey help protect the bees from bacterial infections.

Honey consists of mostly water and two types of sugar; glucose and fructose.  These sugars are absorbed by the body without additional digestion requirement.  Honey also contains some minerals such as: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorus in smaller amounts, as well as trace amounts of vitamins.

Another great benefit of honey is that it is resistant to the growth of bacteria.  Honey is slightly acidic (pH of 4) and it has a high osmotic pressure, which prevents the manifestation of bacteria.  These properties make honey great for preservation for long periods of time.

Honey home remedies have been successfully implemented for many years.  Honey, being a natural substance, may be more effective with fewer side effects than commercial products (e.g. medicine, supplements).  It is very common today to use honey to treat different conditions, such as sore throat, or cough.

Recently, I noticed that all my sister seems to be eating is honey.  Even though, I recognize all the great benefits of honey, there is no reason to consume only honey in the diet.  It does contain a lot of sugar and should be consumed in moderation. A healthy diet should consist of a variety of foods throughout the day.


Recover with Chocolate Milk!

Filed under :Exercise, Food Hypes

Prolonged exercise causes muscle glycogen depletion(Glycogen = the storage form of carbohydrates in the body). Therefore it is very important to consume carbohydrates immediately after the exercise.  Consuming protein in addition to carbohydrates has been shown to positively affect glycogen storage. The protein also helps repair muscle tissue following the exercise.

Many people believe that protein is the only critical nutrient for sport and exercise, and that they need to consume huge amounts of it following an exercise session.  However, protein is not the only nutrient needed in sports.  Athletes do need more protein than lesser active people or people with sedentary lifestyles – although, the difference in recommended protein portions for each is much smaller then what most believe it to be.

The timing of protein and carbohydrate intake may be more important than the total amount of protein consumed. Consuming several small doses of protein within the 2 hours of postexercise is more beneficial for building muscle mass.

Chocolate milk has both carbohydrates and protein, and it could potentially be used as a post exercise recovery aid.  It seems to have just the right ratio of carbohydrates to protein for recovery.  The proper ratio of carbohydrates to protein is what’s going to make your recovery ideal.

Recently, there have been several research studies of consuming chocolate milk post exercise. Chocolate milk was compared to sports drinks (i.e. Gatorade, PowerAde, etc), energy drinks (i.e. Red Bull, Monster, etc), and protein shakes.  Chocolate milk was shown to serve as the quickest and best recovery drink, without spending a fortune on all of the commercially available sports/performance drink products.

I think it tastes the best too!


Salt, Sodium, and Electrolytes?

Filed under :Exercise, Food Hypes, Health promoting

This post is a follow up to my previous post about the adequate consumption of water.  It was brought up that salt is also necessary for fluid balance.  In this post I would like to clear the confusion over the salt, sodium, and electrolytes – and fluid balance.

Salt, sodium, and electrolytes – all basically mean the same thing.  Salt consists of sodium and chloride ions connected in a bond (sodium chloride), when dissolved in water they separate into sodium and chloride ions.  Electrolytes are basically ions in a liquid.  Sodium is a type of an electrolyte. Potassium, chloride, and calcium ions are other examples of electrolytes.  Salt/sodium/electrolytes are necessary to maintain a variety of critical functions in the body.  Overconsumption of salt (sodium or electrolytes) can increase the risk of health problems, such as high blood pressure.

To maintain fluid balance, the body needs more than just water.  Electrolytes such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium ions (as well as other small molecules) all play an important role in fluid balance.  We must consume electrolytes in food and beverages in order to maintain fluid balance on a daily basis.

Exercise increases the loss of water and electrolytes from the body, especially sodium (the loss of the other electrolytes is very low).  The goal of drinking fluids during exercise is to: maintain plasma and electrolyte volume, prevent abnormal elevation in heart rate and core body temperature, as well as to provide “fuel” to the working muscles.

During an endurance exercise, fluid intake should match or exceed sweat loss (especially in hot environments). During an exercise lasting longer than one hour fluids containing both carbohydrates and electrolytes should be consumed.  The carbohydrates provide energy during exercise, while the sodium replaces lost electrolytes.

After an exercise, the goal of rehydration is to replace the water and electrolytes lost that occurred during the exercise.  In general, athletes can replace water and electrolytes by consuming adequate water and food throughout the recovery period.

Sodium improves fluid retention in the body, while carbohydrates enhance intestinal uptake of sodium and water and help replace muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates in the body).

One way to increase sodium and fluid intakes is to use a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink before, during, and after exercise.  These beverages provide low amounts of sodium, increase total fluid intake, and provide additional energy in the form of carbohydrates.

I hope I was able to make the “salt/sodium/electrolyte” functionality more clear, as well as explain how it relates to fluid balance.  If you have any further comments or questions, please let me know! 🙂


Confusion Over Sugar…

Filed under :Health promoting

Carbohydrate is the major source of fuel for metabolism.  Carbohydrates are converted to glycogen in the body. Glycogen is stored in the liver, muscles, and other organs, and is used for energy by the body as necessary.

We can classify carbohydrates into two main categories: the complex carbohydrates and the simple carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates – are in foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains (breads, cereals, pasta), and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Simple carbohydrates – come from processed foods (sweetened cereals and breakfast bars) or foods high in sugar (candy, sodas, and desserts).  These foods primarily contain: glucose, sucrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup.  These foods are generally low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber (unless they are fortified).

Here is the list of the primary sugars in our diets:

Glucose – The main carbohydrate in the blood and the main carbohydrate energy source in the cell.

Fructose – The simple sugar found primarily in fruit and honey.  It is sweeter than the common table sugar (sucrose).

Galactose and Lactose – The sugars that are found in milk and milk products (many adults cannot digest lactose and are termed lactose intolerant).

Sucrose – Common table sugar. It is extracted from sugar cane and beet sugar.  Sucrose is the most common sugar in our diet.

High-fructose corn syrup – An especially sweet corn syrup in which 45-55% of the corn syrup’s carbohydrate is hydrolyzed (broken down) to the simple sugars: glucose and fructose.  Currently this is the predominant sweetener found in commercially sweetened foods because it is relatively cheap and easy to use due to its liquid form (this topic is very controversial in our society today).

Starch – Found in plants, seeds, and roots.  When digested it yields glucose and fiber.

Dietary fiber – A part of the plant that cannot be digested by human gut enzymes.  Fiber passes through the intestines and the colon.  There are many benefits for eating a high fiber diet such as: reducing the risk of heart disease, alleviating constipation, reducing onset risk for diabetes, etc.

It is always best to consume fresh foods, or foods that undergone the least processing. This way you will consume more complex carbohydrates and less simple carbohydrates (which are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes).  It is not necessary to eliminate all simple carbohydrates from the diet, moderation is always the key!


8 Cups of Water a Day? Says Who?

Filed under :Food Hypes

Everybody knows that you are supposed to drink 8 cups of water a day, but nobody seems to know where this disclaimer came from.  It turns out that there is not a specific source, or research done to prove that indeed the correct recommendation for the amount of water that you should drink in one day is 8 cups (64oz.).

The recommendation may differ based on the individual.  The body has an intricate way of regulating body water-through the stimulation of thirst and through regulation of fluid losses through the kidneys.

In hot environments the water consumption should almost double, while in strenuous work or during exercise the fluid intake should triple.  Therefore, it is incorrect to suggest for everyone to drink 8 cups of water per day.  You many need less or more, depending on the circumstances.

The best way to determine the amount of water that you need is to listen to your own body and its thirst mechanism.  You should also monitor your fluid output (e.g. volume of urine).  When exercising, you can weigh yourself before and after and the difference on the scale will be mainly the water that you lost.

You should always learn to listen to your body – it is the best determinant and not just some health claim without a source.


Can antioxidants slow the aging process?

Filed under :Health promoting

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are produced in the body.  They are important in several biological processes, but can damage cells when produced in excess.  Free radicals can increase with smoking, radiation, sun’s UV rays, and different pollutants.

The free radical theory of aging suggests that free radicals are the primary cause of aging; if this assumption is true, then reducing or controlling the formation of free radicals should reduce the progression of the aging process!

Antioxidants are nutrients that act to prevent the damage resulting from free radicals formation.  Some examples of antioxidants are; Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, Coenzyme Q10. Some other compounds that are found in food that has been attributed antioxidant and disease fighting properties are: Allylic Sulfides – found in garlic and onion; Bioflavonoids-found in tea, red wine, vegetables, and fruits; Limonoids – found in citrus fruits; and many more… Antioxidants are not produced by the body so to get the benefit of these power-packed substances you must ingest them.

Free radical damage can cause visible and invisible changes to our bodies.  The development of diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and neurological deficiencies may begin to affect you as you age.  Also, thinner skin wrinkles and brittle bones are a problem.  Eating a variety of foods rich in antioxidants can slow down these effects.  No studies have reported prolonged life as a result of antioxidant supplementation though.

Some foods high in antioxidant are; beans, berries, kiwi, cranberries, pecans, spices, tea, and wine, and many more…

In conclusion; not smoking, avoiding the damaging UV rays of the sun, while exercising and eating a healthy antioxidant rich diet will make you look and feel younger!


Nutrition for Exercise

Filed under :Exercise

What is the role of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in exercise?

How much of each should be consumed?

What about endurance vs. strength training?

Let’s start with the Carbohydrates…

Muscles require carbohydrates as a fuel source during exercise (the body converts carbohydrates into glycogen, which is the storage form of carbohydrates in the body).  Activities that are high in intensity and longer in duration use more glycogen than low intensity exercise. Higher carbohydrate diets are generally recommended for endurance athletes.  45-60% of energy in the diet should come from carbohydrates.  (Low carbohydrate diets will decrease your energy, and lower your athletic performance).

The proteins…

Proteins play many roles during and after exercise.  They are used for energy in the muscle and for building and repair of tissues following exercise.  Protein oxidation (use by the body) is increased during and following both endurance and strength training exercise, raising the protein requirements for active people.  The protein recommendations for endurance activities are 1.2-1.4 g / kg body weight, and for strength exercise is slightly higher at 1.6-1.7 g / kg body weight.

Finally, the fats…

Exercise is a strong stimulator of fat lipolysis (breakdown).  The amount of fat lipolysis that occurs during exercise depends on several factors such as; fitness level, type, intensity, and duration of the exercise.  Enhancing one’s level of fitness is the primary factor that appears to enhance fat lipolysis during exercise.  20-25% of energy from fat are generally recommended for active individuals (Healthy fats, non or very low trans or saturated fats!).  Extremely low fat diets (<15% of energy) appear to offer no health or performance benefit.