Does Christmas Really Make you Fat?

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Do we gain kilos of fat after two day binges over the holiday period?

The answer is probably not! You’re likely to have an effect on your stomach microbiota, but not on fat stores.

How is this possible? Let me explain…

Studies have shown that over the holiday period the average weight gain is only 500 grams. Not a lot of weight, but it could be a problem if you continued to eat in the same way all year round.

Having said that, a small amount of binging over the Christmas period my only result in a small weight gain if your binges are only on a couple of days a few days apart. Continued over eating results in weight gain.

There are a limited amount of stored calories our bodies can handle. If we consume more than we can handle, some will be burned off as heat through thermogenesis and some will end up in the toilet.

And then there’s water. Blood volume, and total body water in general, can vary quite a bit with exercise, medications, salt intake, and carb intake. I have talked about the Carb Cycle in not one but two previous blog posts but to recap… ingesting any carbs forces the body to use some for immediate energy and the rest is sent to storage. To store the carbs you ingest in your liver or muscles (an adult weighting 70 kg can store around 100 g of glycogen in the liver and 400 g in the muscles), your body must transform them into glycogen, then attach the glycogen molecules to water molecules: 3–4 grams of water per gram of glycogen. So if you eat enough carbs to top out your glycogen stores, you’ll be carrying an extra 1.5–2 kilograms in water weight. “Incidentally, that’s why “detox diets” appear to be so effective: they make you lose a lot of (water) weight in a short amount of time. So this could also account for small amounts of weight gain, water molecules attaching to the glycogen molecule after a meal high in carbohydrates.”

According to examine.com…

 The holiday period “means eating a lot … and gaining a lot of weight; but little of that weight is fat. Most of it is water and soon-to-be-poop. Overeating for a day, even by one or two thousand extra calories, won’t cause much fat gain. (Not to mention that many overeaters won’t eat as much as usual the next day.)”

Obviously what you eat matters, but the biggest contributor to weight gain over the holiday period is alcohol consumption. When we consume alcohol the body identifies this as a toxin and acts to convert it to energy to help remove the toxin from the body. What this also does is it give preferential treatment to the alcohol as the energy source as it needs to get it out of the body as soon as possible. This preferential treatment puts the burning of fat, protein and carbohydrates as the fuel source on the back burner (so to speak) and aims to get rid of the toxic alcohol. Protein can support fat loss, notably by suppressing appetite and boosting thermogenesis. As for fat, it doesn’t have any benefits with regard to fat storage, but it still beats alcohol with regard to fat gain, not because your body will store alcohol as fat, but because your body readily burns alcohol for energy (to avoid toxicity), thus dampening the oxidation of fat and other fuel sources. Not only that, but alcohol can increase your appetite in the short term.

Examine.com again…

“Overfeeding on protein (e.g., turkey) will cause less fat storage than overfeeding on alcohol (e.g., wine) or fat (as is plentiful in delicious pumpkin pies, not in the low-fat abominations). If you’re prone to overeating on Thanksgiving, it may be wise to load up on a bunch of turkey first, to help with appetite suppression.”

In Summary…

Significant body fat is gained in weeks or months, not in hours or even in days. On the other hand, water weight can vary rapidly with salt and carbohydrate intake, exercise, and other factors. Eating a typical Christmas meal can easily increase your body fluids, tricking you into thinking you’ve gained lots of fat. Even over the holiday season, however, not everyone gains fat, and feeling like you’ve gained weight doesn’t always mean you have.

 

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Reducing Childhood Obesity

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We know the answer we just aren’t applying it!

Movement is the answer. This is a little carryover from my recent blog about movement and how that can help create a resilient, injury free all rounder who is ready of any thing that life throws at them be it in sports, fitness, work or home life for you kids.

Get kids standing to reduce Childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is and is going to continue to be a massive problem for us as a society. According to the Australian Government via the Australian Institute of Health and welfare, 1 in 4 Australian children aged between 2-17 were overweight or obese in 2014-15.

We know NOW the massive problem we have with childhood obesity. They are eating the wrong foods-too many processed foods with high amounts of sugar, grains and industrial oils. They aren’t moving or exercising enough and spend too much time on technologies like ipads, phones and too much screen time. Stand up desks in schools will help kids keep in constant motion by standing, moving and changing feet position. Being a former high school teacher, I recognise that kids cannot learn in the old sit still and shut up model we have been running for decades. Times have changed, get kids standing up at their desks. Kids with ADD cannot actually learn whilst concreted to a sitting desk. They need to move to keep their brain active, they think better and behave better this way. Stand up desks allow kids to interact and develop social skills. They are actually a better way for people and kids to write, it improves neatness and handwriting skills. Studies have shown that kids sit for about 4 and half hours a day. Think about it, we sit to eat breakfast, sit in the car or bus on the way to school, sit all day in the classroom, come home, sit to eat dinner, sit to watch television, ipad or computer. We know the answer- get kids standing up and moving to help create fit, all-rounder that are resilient and less likely to get injured. Obese kids with stand up desks at school burn 25-35% more calories per day! Kids are more engaged in a standing classroom and can interact better, increasing social skills and group work. In the very least it creates a discussion around movement being the norm and according to Stand Up Kids, a great US based website highlighting the benefits of movement in the early years, it creates a “movement rich environment and as one researcher put it, physical activity is cognitive candy”. In other words it helps their brain function as well as their physical and motor skills. Other benefits to stand up desks in classrooms include:

  • Reduces disease, orthopedic dysfunction and impedes children’s ability to learn.
  • Obese kids burn up to 35% more calories per day.
  • Classroom management is easier for teachers
  • If kids are given the opportunity to move through the day they will take it.
  • When students move more, their education improves.
  • Kids are happier when they are not restricted in a chair.
  • Behaviour improves with active learning and kids have more creativity.
  • Students can shift their bodies and change position when they need to stay focused.
  • Standing prevents the body’s tissue adaptation to static positions-short hip flexors and hamstrings, rounded shoulders and back positions), it doesn’t erode the child’s physiology like sitting does.
  • Standing maintains the integrity of the complex motor skills required for optimal physical function.
  • Reducing sedentary time reduces cell aging which means kids will live longer and be healthier.

According to the Stand Up kids website moving more is the key to better cognition and learning. This next part comes straight form their website, I couldn’t say it better myself…

“Sitting still has been our dominant model for learning in schools. For decades, the educational and scientific communities seemed to believe that thinking was thinking and movement was movement, and each was as separate as could be. We were wrong.

Research definitively shows that movement and learning are connected –

In order for children to learn, they need to be able to move.

Students who are engaged in daily physical education programs consistently show not just superior motor fitness, but better academic performance and a better attitude toward school than their students who do not participate in daily P.E.

MOVEMENT IS KEY

In September 2014, the journal Paediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.”

Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those attentive or hyperactive, maximizing the utility of time spent in class. The improvements in this case came in executive control, which consists of inhibition (resisting distraction, maintaining focus), working memory, and cognitive flexibility (switching between tasks).

Another study found that a 12-week exercise program improved math and reading test scores in all kids, but especially in those with signs of ADHD.

There are many reasons kids aren’t moving enough any more:

  1. THE LOSS OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION

PE has been cut or dramatically decreased in most American schools. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Today, however, only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools, and 2 percent of high schools provide daily physical education.

In Los Angeles, physical education class sizes rose to 80 students in some cases, making effective teaching nearly impossible. Only 31 percent of California students passed a statewide physical fitness test last year, in part because of budget cuts wiped out physical education programs. In a 2011 survey released by the California State PTA, 75 percent of California PTA members said their children’s PE or sports programs were cut or reduced dramatically.

  1. KIDS DON’T WALK TO SCHOOL

Among students living within 1 mile of school, the percentage of walkers fell from 90% to 31% between 1969 and 2001.

According to the CDC, only 13% of children walk to school today compared with 66% in 1970.

  1. INCREASE IN SEDENTARY ACTIVITIES

A groundbreaking study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that children between ages 8-18 are spending, on average, 7.5 hours/day in front of a screen SITTING, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Combine that with the time sitting at school (between 4-6 hours/day), driving to school, sitting at meals, and doing homework at kids are spending 10-14 hours/day or 75% of their waking hours in sedentary positions.

In 1980, there were 81,000,000 TVs in American households. Today, there are 324,000,000 TVs. At the same time the number of TVs has tripled, the number of obese children and adolescents has also tripled.”

I for one will be championing for more physical education time in schools, get kids moving more, out in nature and getting stand up desks! Get these kids active and moving from an early age and we will reduce a myriad of health issues in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

Get off your chair. Why Movement can Create the Ultimate All Rounder.

 

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We are living in an age where the all rounder is the king. Gone are the days when you specialised in one thing-sports, jobs, and life. You need to be adaptable and ready to perform anything at any time.

Just have a look at the exercises we are now performing- Crossfit, obstacle course racing, hiking, Trail running, swimming, Olympic lifting, etc. You need to have a wide range of skills, have cardio vascular fitness, strength and power. Lean is in, huge bulky beefcakes are out! So how do we prepare the generalist for a ready state, a state of fitness readiness for what ever is thrown at you. Can you go for a 10 kilometre hike, a stand up paddle, a kayak, move furniture, chase your kids around at the park at the drop of a hat? How do we prepare people so they don’t get injured, have the foundation to learn new skills and perform all these activities that the all rounder needs. The answer is movement. We need to move more, be supple, get up out of the chair, stop sitting and start moving.

According to Dr. Kelly Starrett of mobilitywod.com, a physical therapy doctor, Crossfit box owner and one of the leaders in movement practices, we cannot sit in a chair in a mechanically good position. Our hips are neutral, our pelvic floor turns off, we lean forward, our breathing and diaphragm are compromised, head and neck move forward and spine is a in poor position. Everything shuts down! Starrett says we can sit in a good position on the floor as that is what our bodies are designed to do. We never take our hip to full range of motion any more. We sit down on the chair (hips at 90 degrees), getting up out of bed (90 degrees), sitting in the car, plane, bike (90 degrees), then we head to the gym and get on the elliptical machine or run on the treadmill. One great activity for this is the Caveman Squat (you can view the video here). This squat hold position puts our hips in full range on motion, increasing Anterior Tibialis (front muscles of the calf) flexibility and movement as well as increases the dorsiflexion of our ankles and this allows to move better. Taking our hips to end range of motion helps keep our hips stable.

Of course sometimes we have to sit- flying on a plane or driving in the car for example. But other than that we need to be in constant motion, always moving. Stand up desks at work or if possible walking treadmills. This make us move as well as helping us burn more calories and increase productivity. We can take frequent movement breaks- for every 30 minutes sitting get up and walk around for a few minutes, do a cavemen squat hold, some push ups, dips or dead hangs.

We know the answers, we just aren’t applying them!

We know the massive problem we have with childhood obesity. They are eating the wrong foods- too many processed foods with high amounts of sugars and industrial oils. They aren’t moving or exercising enough and spend too much time on technologies like ipads, phones and too much screen time. Stand up desks in schools will help kids keep in constant motion by standing, moving and changing feet position. Studies have shown that kids sit for about 4 and half hours a day. Think about it, we sit to eat breakfast, sit in the car or bus on the way to school, sit all day in the classroom, come home, sit to eat dinner, sit to watch television, ipad or computer. We know the answer- get kids standing up and moving to help create the fit, all rounders that are resilient and less likely to get injured. Kids with stand up desks at school burn 15-25% more calories per day! Kids are more engaged in a standing classroom and can interact better, increasing social skills and group work. It creates a discussion around movement being the norm and according to stand up kids, a get US based website highlighting the benefits of moving, it creates a “movement rich environment and as one researcher put it, physical activity is cognitive candy”.

Activities like Crossfit test our full physical capability running, full range of motion activities (kettlebells), mobility exercises and power and Olympic lifts. Crossfit is helping to create the all rounder who is ready for any activity walking, lifting, and helping a mate move house. Getting ready for life.

If you think about what are brains are designed or have evolved to do. It is designed to receive information then interpret that data to help us move through the environment to find food, shelter, water and to reproduce. You must be able to think to move through your environment and you must be able to move well through the environment to survive. We need a movement practice to help us be come good thinkers and problems solvers. We need to have a regime where we are constantly working on flexibility and movement exercises.

To become the ultimate all-rounder and have a ready state for anything we need to have all things in our life in order- nutrition, sleep, hydration, mechanics and MOVEMENT.

Primal and the Ketogenic Diet

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Welcome to Part 3 of my 3 part series on the ketogenic diet, you can find part 1 and part 2 here…

Why the Ketogenic Diet and Primal Go hand in Hand…

You have probably heard of Paleo more so than Primal as it has been a trending topic for several years now. You may have heard it called the Caveman diet or ancestral diet. Eating Paleo is a lot like eating Primal (I have a post on the small differences here) but simply put primal and paleo eating is about choosing real, whole foods the our hunter gather ancestors would recognise as food. We don’t even have to go back that far, stuff our grand parents would recognise as good wholesome foods, nothing processed with high amounts of sugars, refined grains and industrial vegetable oils. Things like meat from cows who eat grass on a farm, organic eggs from chicken allowed to roam, graze and forage, natural fats like butter, lard and ghee. We have become far removed from this way of eating. It is possible to ketogenic without being primal/paleo and you can follow primal/paleo without being ketogenic, but marrying keto with primal is like a “match made in Heaven” for your overall health.

The ketogenic diet is an excellent way to keep you carbs down and your insulin in check. Following basic keto/primal/paleo principles fits how our bodies are designed to work. For our Primal ancestors, they ate all parts of the animals they hunted along with fish, fowl, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and one of the biggest sources of energy was from the animal fats they consumed. When food was scarce or they caught a big animal and ate a lot of animal fat, the thing that sustained their energy needs was ketones! Hunter gathers, due to their high consumption of animal meats and often long periods of fasting would have constantly been in a state of ketosis.

A state of nutritional ketosis occurs by increasing good fats, eating moderate protein and reducing carbohydrates. Backing this with a Primal philosophy for eating real, wholesome, nourishing foods will give your body overall health benefits that have been well documented on this blog as well as others including mental clarity, sharper focus and more vitality.

How is the Ketogenic Diet Going to Heal Your Body?

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Welcome to part 2 of my three part series on the most talked about new trend in nutrition and healthy eating, the Ketogenic Diet. In part one of the series we discussed what the Keto diet actually is. In part 2 we discuss why is it going to heal your body.

Here we go…

The amount of nutrients you receive from eating a low carb-high fat-moderate protein diet comprised of real, whole, unprocessed foods is possibly greater than any other lifestyle or diet plan. Making this lifestyle change will give you incredible benefits. As I described in Part 1, the reason why I switched my diet was to reduce the inflammation in my body to counter the effects of the vertigo-like dizziness that plagued me at night caused by Micro-vascular Compression Syndrome. That change had many added benefits that I wasn’t expecting.

These are a few of the other benefits I have personally experienced:

  • no more 3 oclock-itis or afternoon fatigue.
  • reduce hunger cravings and no cravings for sugar
  • reduced inflammation in joints- especially my lower back
  • fat loss
  • better sleep

The Keto diet started out as a way to prevent epileptic seizures and there are tons of scientific studies and research to say that it can help with most “catastrophic neurodegenerative conditions” including autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, narcolepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and stroke. Additionally, evidence is beginning to mount up about type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, PCOS, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn and leaky gut.

Jimmy Moore suggests that the Keto Diet is “indeed the real deal and worth giving a second look as a means for optimizing your overall health” and that is what living primally is all about.

But most importantly, the Keto diet helps you control two key aspects of life, blood glucose and inflammation. Blood glucose or blood sugar is one of the most important biomarkers there is. Type 2 diabetes develops from years upon years of uncontrolled high blood sugar levels, from, you guessed, it too much sugar and carbohydrate consumption. The reason this happens is the pancreas releases insulin to push the glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells for energy. However, over time eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates puts strain on the pancreas to keep up with the demands for insulin. This right here is the start of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, as the mechanism for dealing with insulin or dealing with excess carbs and blood glucose, is broken due to years of misuse. Wouldn’t you think that the Ketogenic Diet is perfect solution for fixing this problem? Using fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates. People with insulin resistance are at a greater risk of heart disease, fatty liver disease, infertility, hormone disruption and more!

The second marker is inflammation. Inflammation is caused by poor nutrition, stress, lack of sleep, poor lifestyle choices (smoking, drinking alcohol) and, like high blood glucose, it too slowly over time causes damage to your body. Inflammation is believed to be a greater risk for heart disease and other health issues that cholesterol and saturated fats. Some inflammation is good like helping you fight off bacteria, illnesses or toxins as well as acute inflammation like when you twist you ankle and its swells up-these are all part of the natural healing process. When left unchecked, however, inflammation can be a problem. The two biggest foods that raise inflammation in the body- carbohydrates and vegetable oils! Just about any processed food contains the big three of bad- grains, refined sugars and some type of processed industrial oil. Check out this you tube link of how so called healthy vegetable oils are made. A real foods, ketogenic diet removes these highly inflammatory and insulin spiking foods.

Lastly one of the biggest reasons for a Keto diet is weight loss as you are not locked into a carbohydrate fat storage cycle, as I have described in several blog posts, Why We Should Avoid Grains and Why Sugars are Bad, you are free to be fat adapted and use the abundance of fats stores on your body. Being fat adapted means you always have energy stores that are a cleaner burning, healthier and more efficient metabolic tool for health.

In the next blog post I will discuss why Keto and Living Primal go hand in hand…