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For September 19, 2018

  • Can Diet Spot-Reduce Bodyfat?
    Can Diet Spot-Reduce Bodyfat?

    Find out how to choose your diet according to your goals.

    Originally featured in: Muscle & Fitness

    Written by: Jose Antonio, PhD, CSCS, Adjunct Health & Science Editor

    Should we eat more fat or not? Numerous books tout the benefits of eating more fat, particularly monounsaturated fat; others claim that fat is the archenemy of a lean physique. The answer really depends on your goals. Read on to see what I mean.

    In a study conducted at the University of Melbourne, Australia, researchers examined the effects of a fiber-rich, high-carbohydrate, low-fat (HCLF) diet and what they called a modified-fat (MF) diet high in monounsaturated fat on the distribution of bodyfat in 16 non-insulin-dependent diabetics (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM).

    The most common type of diabetes, NIDDM is characterized by impaired insulin action. That is, these diabetics usually don't have a problem with insulin production, but the insulin they do produce doesn't seem to cause the appropriate response in peripheral tissues. For instance, they have difficulty transporting glucose in the blood to skeletal muscle.

    So what problems are related to NIDDM? Because it's associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it obviously needs to be managed. You can decrease this risk in two fundamental ways - yep, diet and exercise.

    Dietary Recommendations
    In this study, the six male and 10 female subjects were prescribed two three-month diets with a one-month washout period in between. Both diets contained the same number of calories but differed in macronutrient content. The HCLF diet included 50% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 25% from protein, 24% from fat and 1% from alcohol; the MF diet included 41% of daily calories from carbohydrate, 22% from protein, 36% from fat and 1% from alcohol. About 50% of the fat supplied in the MF diet came from monounsaturated sources (such as olive oil). Both diets were low in cholesterol.

    Interestingly, both groups lost nearly identical amounts of fat, with slight but insignificant losses of lean body mass despite the marked difference in amount and type of fat consumed. This agrees with the idea that the caloric deficit, not the composition of those calories, is the important factor affecting fat or weight loss.

    Yet the picture isn't that simple. The HCLF group lost most of its fat in the lower body (legs and glutes) while the MF group lost the same relative amounts of fat from both the upper and lower body. The ratio of upper- to lower-body fat changing toward a greater distribution of fat in the upper body (including the abdomen) in the HCLF group is important because increased levels of abdominal fat seem to be more problematic with regard to cardiovascular disease and insulin regulation than hip or thigh fat.

    So does this mean you should start eating more fat?

    Well, if you're a non-insulin-dependent diabetic who doesn't exercise, perhaps you should follow the MF diet suggested in this experiment. But people who do exercise, especially bodybuilders, may not have a problem with insulin regulation. In fact, their muscles are typically quite insulin-sensitive. Following a diet that's high in fat (more than 30% of daily calories) certainly isn't needed to help regulate levels of bodyfat, since truncal obesity isn't a major problem with bodybuilders or athletes in general.

    Eating to lose weight is much different from eating to gain muscle mass. Bodybuilders should consume adequate carbs (to replenish muscle glycogen used during exercise) and protein (to provide the necessary building blocks for muscle growth), but do they need the added fat? I think not. Yes, bodybuilders attempting to gain mass need to consume calories above that needed to maintain weight.

    That is, to gain weight, you need to get those extra amino acids and glycogen from your diet. Of course, using androgenic steroids, insulinlike growth factor-1, growth hormone or other anabolic substances changes the entire equation. If you're training drug-free, however, you need to consume calories in excess of your daily expenditure to gain weight.

    Yet you could speculate on some interesting points concerning this study. Looking at weight loss in a normal, nondiabetic person, let's assume that this individual is cutting calories to lose weight (mostly fat, presumably). Let's continue to assume that a diet made up of predominantly more fat, especially monounsaturated fat, leads to a proportional loss of fat from both the upper and lower body, and that this same individual could lose proportionately more fat from the lower body as a result of a low-fat, high-fiber, high-carbohydrate diet.

    This has interesting implications for women who typically have a difficult time losing lower-body fat. Would the high-carb, low-fat diet be a better choice? What about men who may have more difficulty losing upper-body fat? Would they be better off eating a reduced-calorie diet that's relatively high in fat and lower in carbs? The idea is intriguing: Specific diet plans for regional fat loss!

    Nonetheless, keep in mind that diet should be tailored for very specific purposes and for specific populations. Don't give the bodybuilder a diet that's good for the diabetic, and don't give the endurance athlete a diet that more closely meets the needs of the strength-power athlete. Perhaps men and women will respond differently, as well. One diet, like one shoe size, doesn't fit all.
  • The Fats of Life -- Fat Can Be Your Friend
    The Fats of Life -- Fat Can Be Your Friend


    Back in the days when we were weight-obsessed teenagers, there was only one kind of fat � bad. Whether it was sitting on our plates or settling on our thighs, we knew we hated everything about it (except the taste).

    Like so many things in life, however, fat has become far more complicated. We cannot live without fat: We need it for energy, insulation and regulating our metabolisms. For every good fat, it seems there is a bad fat � and it's getting harder to know the difference. The old standbys � saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated � have been joined by such trendy fats as conjugated linoleic and stearic acids. Cholesterol, too, is ambiguous. Plus, there are dangerous man-made trans fats, which are turning into the stealth bombs of the kitchen.

    Not only are there more fats to assess, but experts also differ on how much of each type you should eat. The American Heart Association recommends that a diet include no more than 30 percent total fat: up to 10 percent saturated fats, up to 15 percent monounsaturated and up to 10 percent polyunsaturated.

    Proponents of a Mediterranean-style diet, however, point out that southern Europeans, whose diets include a huge proportion of monounsaturated fat � sometimes up to 40 percent of daily calories � traditionally have relatively low rates of heart disease, perhaps in part due to their low intake of saturated fat.

    Scientists such as the Harvard School of Public Health's Walter Willett, M.D., conclude that it's probably the type of fat you eat, not the amount, that determines your heart health. This year the International Conference on Mediterranean Diets, a gathering of nutrition researchers, issued a recommendation that Americans stop counting fat grams and concentrate on reducing daily calorie intake.

    Adapted from SELF, August 1998

  • Beta-carotene may lower prostate cancer risk
    Beta-carotene may lower prostate cancer risk

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Beta-carotene, a plant product converted by the body to vitamin A, may lower the risk of prostate cancer in men whose natural blood levels of beta-carotene are low.

    Beta-carotene is a natural antioxidant -- a chemical that fosters the breakdown of harmful products in the body called free radicals. It is found in high amounts in sweet potatoes, spinach, and carrots.

    In the largest study of its kind, Dr. Nancy Cook and associates, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, reviewed data on 3,643 male physicians, of whom 631 had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and 808 had been diagnosed with other cancers.

    They found that men with the lowest blood levels of beta-carotene were 45% more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with the highest baseline beta-carotene levels.

    When men with the lowest beta-carotene levels took 50 milligrams of beta-carotene every other day, their risk of prostate cancer was reduced by 32%, according to the report in the November 1st issue of Cancer.

    Beta-carotene supplementation had no significant effect on the risk of other cancers, regardless of initial beta-carotene blood level, the investigators note.

    Cook and colleagues add that in previous studies the link between beta-carotene and prostate cancer was inconclusive. Further research is necessary, they conclude, "to allow more definitive results to emerge."

    Source: Cancer 1999;86:1783-1792.

  • The Cold, Hard Truth About Cellulite
    The Cold, Hard Truth About Cellulite

    (From Prevention Magazine, August 1999) - Are there any proven methods for getting rid of cellulite? Many people lose weight but the dimples won't go away. Do cellulite creams really work?

    In reality, money spent on cellulite creams would be better spent on a set of dumbbells or a health club membership.

    The active ingredient in cellulite creams is usually an asthma drug called aminophylline or theophylline. The theory is that these chemicals break fat molecules down into fatty acids, which are then excreted through the bloodstream. But, according to dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, MD of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, "What works in a lab dish hasn't been proven to work on women's legs (or anywhere else on her body)."

    Also, human skin is effectively designed to keep things out; it would be very difficult to get the active ingredients in these thigh creams to reach the fat cells just by rubbing them in.

    Exercise and a healthy, low-fat diet are the best ways of combating cellulite. Losing weight can help too, but only if you're doing it healthfully -- no crash dieting. That may actually make cellulite look worse, because crash dieting can cause you to lose muscle tone. If you aren't exercising, start now, and make sure you include strength training exercise like weight lifting to shape and tone your muscles. That will help those trouble spots start looking better.

  • Pre-Workout Snacks: What's the Best?
    Pre-Workout Snacks: What's the Best?

    (Prevention Magazine) Many exercisers wonder if they can get a pre-workout energy boost from food. But what can you eat that won't slow you down? And how much is too much? We asked the experts to compare two favorites -- energy bars and bagels. Here's what they found:

    Bagels: Cheap, easy to find, satisfyingly crunchy (if you toast them).

    Energy bars: Shiny wrappers, cool names, make you feel really athletic.

    Which should you choose as your workout partner?

    Performance: In a small study, David Pearson, PhD, of the Ball State University Human Performance Lab in Muncie, IN, failed to find a performance difference between cyclists who ate a bagel and those who ate a sports bar for breakfast before a workout on an exercise bike. "There was no recognizable benefit from the energy bar versus a common complex carbohydrate (i.e. bagel)," he says (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, November 1996).

    To explore this issue further, we collected some information and did a little testing on a typical bagel and two popular sports bars:

    Frozen Bagel PowerBar Clif Bar
    Size and Type 3.5 in. (plain, poppy or onion) 2.25 oz (banana) 2.4 oz (apple-cherry)
    Price: $0.33 $1.69 $1.29
    Calories 195 230 250
    Fat 1 g 2 g 2 g
    Calcium 5% Daily Value (DV) 30% DV 4% DV
    Iron 14% DV 35% DV 10% DV
    Vitamin C 0% DV 100% DV 0% DV
    Bagel Energy Bars
    Size: Fits in purse or gym bag Fits in pocket, purse, gym bag
    Sit-test: Uncomfortable to sit on, gets crushed, leaves crumbs on pants Barely noticeable when sat on. Virtually invulnerable to crushing

    Conclusion: If you like the taste, convenience and the extra nutrients of the bars, fine -- just keep an eye on their fat (some have more than 2 g.) and calorie content. But if you want an inexpensive source of carbohydrate energy for your next workout, the lowly bagel is up to the challenge.

  • Natural Relief for Migraines
    Natural Relief for Migraines

    (Prevention, August 1999) - Get a whiff of this finding by Alan Hirsch, MD, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, IL. In his study of 50 migraine patients he found that the scent of green apples made headache pain fade.

    Migraine pain was found to improve more during an attack when the subjects sniffed tubes containing a green apple smell than when sniffing unscented tubes (data presented at the 1997 annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Headache).

    "It could be a distraction effect, so that the subjects were thinking about the smell instead of their pain. Or it could be that the smell actually reduces muscle contractions in the head and neck, reducing the pain," explains Dr. Hirsch.

    Why green apples? Previously, Dr. Hirsch found that the smell reduced anxiety. "Since people with migraines say their headaches worsen when they're anxious, we thought the odor might be helpful." Other pleasant smells might bring relief equally well, and the effect may work on other forms of pain also, he says.


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