Want to get the most out of your workout?

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Want to get the most out of your workout?

This is not going to be welcome advice...

A new study has found that drinking alcohol after working out reduces rates of muscle protein synthesis (e.g. building new muscle), even when alcohol was consumed alongside recommended amounts of protein. So unfortunately a few beers after your workout might impair your recovery and adaptation to training, as well as your subsequent performance.

 

So going reaching for some high quality protein and carbs (without the wine and whisky) after exercise is the best option for making the most out of your workout.

Photo by Martin Garrido and bar photo by Sayot, Flickr

Photo by Martin Garrido and bar photo by Sayot, Flickr

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The surprising thing that people will do to lose weight

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The surprising thing that people will do to lose weight

People will do a lot to lose weight – restrict their food to only cabbage, pay to stand on a vibrating surface, and even give themselves a tapeworm. But we, the research team behind the SWIFT study, wanted to know if people would be willing to stab themselves to lose weight. Yes, STAB themselves. On their fingertips. Before every meal.

 

The idea was that people eat for a variety of reasons – because they are bored, happy, lonely, or just because there is food in front of them. Learning to eat mostly when you’re hungry rather than for other reasons is a key component of weight management. However, recognising hunger can be difficult for some people – sometimes people can’t remember the last time that they felt hungry!

 

We stumbled on this idea of “hunger training” from a paper published back in 2006, and were intrigued by this idea of gauging hunger from blood glucose testing, via a fingerprick sample (e.g. stabbing their finger). In hunger training, the idea is that you measure your blood glucose before every eating occasion, and can only eat if the result is under a certain “magic” number. We were sceptical, however, whether people would indeed stab themselves before every meal and wait until their blood glucose was under their magic number to eat.

 

Our results, published last week in Nutrition & Metabolism (the PDF is prettier to read), show that people will indeed hunger train (for 2 weeks in this case), but are more compliant when their magic glucose cut-off is individualised. And overweight people in our study lost on average 1.5 kg in only 2 weeks, which is a terrific weight loss results.

 

Whether the adherence to hunger training and resulting weight loss will continue long term is unknown based on this study. However, hunger training is one arm of the ongoing SWIFT study, so we will see if hunger training does in fact help people to lose and keep it off long term.

 

Photo by Kenny Louie, Flickr

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5 Tips for Weight Loss & Maintenance During the Winter

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5 Tips for Weight Loss & Maintenance During the Winter

1.    Eat only when you’re hungry, rather than when you’re bored, tired, or thirsty. If you are bored, tired, or thirsty, an activity, a nap, or a drink will be much more satisfying than a bite of food that you don’t need.

2.    Check out the freezer – frozen fruit and veg are just as healthy (and sometimes even healthier) than fresh produce, since they are frozen as soon as they are picked, rather than lingering on the shelves for days.

soup_for_winter_weight_loss

3.    Fill up on soup – the perfect weight loss food, since you feel full with all the liquid, and soup takes time to eat, which gives your brain time to register that you're full. Most soups are a good choice, as long as they aren’t cream-based.

4.    Remember to drink, even though you might not feel thirsty. Often people think they’re hungry when they’re thirsty, so if you’re not sure, go for that cup of green tea first and then see how you feel.

5.    Spend some time outside, or at least by a window if you can’t get out. The lack of sunlight means that we produce less serotonin, which is an important hormone for preventing depression and food cravings. You can also boost serotonin with healthy carbs, like kumara, pumpkin, and whole grains.

Photo by Larryjh1234, Flickr

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3 Tips for Exercising in the Cold

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3 Tips for Exercising in the Cold

1.    Make sure you eat enough. You need more calories when your body has to work to keep warm. And even more if you’re trying to move through heavy snow, and heaps if you’re shivering.

2.    Eat carbs. Your body prefers to burn more carbs in the cold, so make this your primary source of fuel.

3.    Drink (even when you don’t feel thirsty)! You surprisingly lose more fluid than you expect, since cold air has less water than warmer air, and cold temperatures dull the desire to drink and pee.

Winter Sports Nutrition. Photo by UpHighNZ.com

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Live longer with peanut butter!

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Live longer with peanut butter!

A recent study (http://bit.ly/18hp7Gs) has confirmed that eating high amounts of nuts, including peanuts, is associated with a reduced risk of early death, particularly from heart disease. The study followed over 200,000 people and discovered that people who ate the highest amounts of nuts (over 19 grams per day, equivalent to about a tablespoon of peanut butter or half a handful of nuts) had a 21% reduced risk of mortality and a 40% reduced risk of death from heart disease compared with people who hardly any nuts.

So what does this mean for you? While cohort studies like this one can’t prove causality, the consistency of these results suggest that nuts, including peanuts, are a healthy addition to your diet and may prevent heart disease and early death. Furthermore, this study shows that peanut butter, which is a cheap and easy way to get your nut boost, is as effective in terms of health benefits as other nuts.

Photo by Derek Purdy, Flickr

 

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Winter Nutrition: 4 Tips for Staying Healthy over the Winter

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Winter Nutrition: 4 Tips for Staying Healthy over the Winter

1. Eat 2 Brazil nuts everyday.  In New Zealand, we have low selenium intake, due to low levels in our soil. Two Brazil nuts provide over 100% of your selenium requirements, which helps with immune function. However, don't be tempted to down a whole handful - Brazil nuts are such a potent source of selenium that too many can be harmful.


2. Enjoy vitamin C foods, rather than taking supplements, since there are so many other benefits of fruit and veg that science hasn't figured out yet. When scientists think that they know why a certain fruit or veg is beneficial, they often try to test it in a supplements, but most of the time the supplement doesn’t show that benefit, and sometimes even shows harm.

Foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwifruit, capsicum, and even kumara.


3. Prioritise immune-boosting superhero foods, which are those that are high in zinc and beta-carotene.

Zinc warriors include oysters, mussels, steak, chicken, whole grains, and dairy.

Beta-carotene crusaders include carrots, capsicum, pumpkin and kumara (think orange foods), broccoli and spinach.


4. Sip on a steamy cup of green tea. Green tea might help you fight off viruses and colds. Plus it’s super important to stay hydrated in the winter, so this is a good choice.

Photo by Benjamin Balázs, Flickr

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Soy – beans of health or harm?

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Soy – beans of health or harm?

Health: Soy beans prevent heart disease by lowering LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), and may protect against breast cancer. They are a good source of good source of protein, while being low in fat, with zero cholesterol.

Harm: Soy contains phytoestrogen (=plant estrogens), and rumours are constantly reappearing that eating too much soy is bad for men. However a meta-analysis (a study that combines the results of many studies) found no affect of soy on the reproductive hormone concentrations of men. There is concern that soy disrupts thyroid function – but studies show that this isn’t the case, unless you are deficient in iodine or have a thyroid condition.

In terms of the environmental impact of soy, some argue that drinking soy milk may be less harmful for the environment than drinking milk but this is outside my realm of expertise.

If you want to include soy in your diet, (like all foods) choose less processed variety, and if it’s fermented, even better. Avoid soy supplements (e.g. isoflavones). Try slowly introducing foods like edamame, tofu, soymilk, miso, and tempeh into your diet, to up to 3 servings per day.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff on Flickr

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10 Healthiest Foods for your $$

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10 Healthiest Foods for your $$

Great article by the Nutrition Diva on the 10 Most Nutritious Foods for your Money. The winners are: peanut butter, wholemeal bread, eggs, canned tuna, pasta, tomato-based pasta sauce (or make your own from canned tomatoes), beans, milk/yoghurt, and fruit and veges.

What other healthy foods do you think should be added to this list?

So far suggestions have included tinned salmon and tuna, oats, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, and offal.

photo by Polycart on flickr

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