Lose Weight Through Wellness

Photo via Pixabay

Here’s another informative article by Sheila Olson
just in time for the new year!  fitsheila.com

Drastic diets and torturous exercise classes don’t work for long-term weight loss, and these days, we know why. In part, this is because depriving ourselves of things we love is not healthy or sustainable. Instead, we should all try to approach weight loss through wellness-focusedactions and self-care. Here’s how to do that.

Exercise

The best kind of exercise is the one you actually do. This means that finding an exercise routine that’s both fun and convenient is crucial for long-term weight loss.

A home gym can be a great way to do this -check out this guide by HomeAdvisor to figure out the best exercise equipment for you and where to place it. If exercise is enjoyable and accessible, you have no excuse to avoid it. If you do still find yourself skipping workouts, try asking yourself these questions to find out why.

Sleep

Sleep is what allows your mind and body to relax, refresh, and prepare for a new day. What few people know is that a lack of good sleep can also lead to weight gain by messing with your hormones and stress levels.

Set up a nightly “good sleep” routine. It should be soothing and relaxing, making your body and mind feel ready for rest. You should also avoid digital screens in the hours leading up to your bedtime, as these may be negatively impacting your sleep.

Food

Weight loss happens in the kitchen, not the gym. Ourbodies aren’t that effective at burning off calories we consume, so it’s unrealistic to expect exercise to do all the work when our diet remains unchanged.

However, we also need to remember that food is wonderful and useful. It is not the enemy. We have learned to classify certain foods as “good” or “bad,” but this creates an unhealthy relationship with nutrition. This article by Well and Good has some great tips for getting rid of this mindset and finding balance in our diets.

Many of us tend to forget the importance of health, both physical and mental, when trying to lose weight. By focusing onhealthy habits rather than the numbers on a scale, we shift our attention to our internal well-being rather than external appearance. In the proces, weight loss becomes a consequence of a healthy lifestyle rather than the driving reason for having one.

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Why We Crave Bad Foods

Most of us have certain food cravings, and for some of us, those cravings can be frequent and incredibly strong. Scientists have determined that there is a biological basis for food cravings, so those cravings may be next to impossible to avoid. First of all, our prehistoric ancestors had to deal with a very limited supply of calorie dense food because they had to hunt for it. They constantly dealt with a feast or famine lifestyle, a stark contrast to modern times, in which plenty of food is readily available.

Programmed To Crave

The prehistoric human brain would respond to a sudden caloric intake by releasing serotonin and dopamine, both of which created a sense of well-being. This release of brain chemicals also occurs in modern humans. In addition, meals which are high in fat and sugar result in decreased production of stress-related hormones.

The bottom line is that our brains are programmed to crave and seek foods which are high in calories, fat, carbs and salt, just like our ancestors, who rarely had meat protein, and only after a successful hunt. It’s no surprise that fatty, caloric foods are associated with feelings of contentment, especially since we tend to have more cravings when we are anxious or under stress.

According to research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, three regions of the brain (hippocampus, caudate and insula) light up when a subject craves a certain food. In another study, by Adam Drewnowski, PhD, when pleasure-sensing opiate receptors in the brain were blocked, subjects no longer craved sugary or high fat foods.

How To Control Cravings

Though carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years, it is the combination of carbohydrates with fat and salt that appears to be the winning combination for foods which spark cravings. Prime examples are pizza, French fries, and macaroni and cheese.

Individuals who have a greater degree of willpower are usually best off with having a small serving of the food they crave, which satisfies the craving. However, some people lack the ability to control the desire to indulge in cravings, and tend to binge on decadent foods. In such cases, the best thing to do is to avoid stocking those foods entirely.

Which Protein Powder If You’re Lactose Intolerant?

If you are lactose intolerant, then you are quite accustomed to checking to see if dishes contain dairy. You might also be wary of whey and casein protein powders due to their derivation from milk. However, if you have only a mild lactose intolerance, you may not have an issue with whey and casein. Why is this?

Many individuals with a mild lactose intolerance are fine with whey protein isolate as well as with casein. Both whey and casein are separated from the lactose during processing. There are small concentrations of lactose which bypass the separation, but usually this is not enough to mount a reaction in a mildly lactose intolerant individual. Only the most sensitive individuals will have a problem with these forms of protein. Bear in mind that whey concentrate is not the same as whey isolate, and that individuals who are more lactose intolerant or who have other gut issues might not tolerate the concentrate form of whey.

You may be asking what the big deal is with whey and casein, and whether they are better than other forms of protein. Why take a chance of mounting a reaction in the belly when there are other forms of protein?
whey scoop
Whey is a complete protein, meaning that it provides all the amino acids the body requires. It is also relatively cheap. Casein protein is also a complete protein, and is digested very slowly, making it a great option for bedtime.

While soy is also a complete protein, it undergoes considerable processing, and it contains phytoestrogens which are estrogen mimics. I am definitely not a fan of soy protein and will not advocate its use.

Rice, hemp and pea proteins are good alternatives for the vegan or vegetarian crowd, but since they are not complete proteins, they must be combined to fill out the amino acid profile. Rice protein is very easily digested, while pea protein has glutamic acid, which helps convert carbs into energy instead of being stored as fat. Hemp protein is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and has a high fiber content.

As long as you mix plant based proteins to get a complete profile, you will not be at a disadvantage if you cannot tolerate whey or casein. However, when it comes to cost, nutrition profile, and convenience, whey will always win the prize for being the king of protein powders.

On a personal note, I discovered that I had a mild intolerance to whey and a moderate intolerance to casein, and though I only have a mild case of lactose intolerance, the whey and casein proteins themselves cause my body to react. As a result, I keep whey protein intake to a minimum, consuming only a small amount (about 20 grams) a few times per week. This is a drastic drop from the 60 to 70 grams of whey protein which I was ingesting during my competing days in the off-season.

These days, I opt for soy-free plant-based proteins. Since the combination of pea and rice proteins delivers a complete amino acid profile, I tend to look for those blends. Healthy Skoop has a very tasty version which mixes beautifully:

Protein

I also use MitoXcell’s new Plant Protein formula, which also features hemp protein and the original MitoXcell formula for mitochondrial optimization. I think it’s a superior protein, but it’s a bit chalky for my tastes:

MitoXcell Plant Protein

Taking Youth For Granted – Part 2

young-woman-feels-bad-about-eating-junk-food-smaller

Though there are plenty of young people who are fitness-conscious and practice healthy eating habits, there are also many who tempt fate by eating poorly, avoiding exercise and physcial activity, and who party every weekend. When I am at fitness events, I tend to see the fit people, but as a doctor, I see the individuals who don’t know how to take care of their bodies. As an example, I remember seeing one patient who, at the age of 20, was disgusted with herself, and who begged me to give her some advice on how to get in shape quickly and easily. She was about 20 pounds overweight, and it was obvious that she didn’t exercise at all. Her skin was dull and peppered with acne, and her eyes were bloodshot.

I was in the midst of giving the patient general recommendations on eating healthy and getting regular exercise, when she interrupted me. “Ummm, excuse me doc, but I’m not gonna stop eating at Burger King! It’s my daily stop for dinner, and it’s right by my work, so I can just pick it up and eat it in the car before I get home.” I was so stunned that I had to clarify the frequency of her visits with her to make sure I heard her right. Yes, she would visit the Burger King drive-thru every single night after she finished work, and would wolf down a burger in the car because she was always famished from not eating all day. Then she would go home and eat chips while sitting in front of the television. When I told her how unhealthy her eating habits were, she stated, “I don’t see what the big deal is anyway. I mean, I hate vegetables and all that healthy crap other people eat. Besides, I’m young, so it doesn’t even matter!”

That patient wasn’t the only one I have seen who refused to eat right and exercise, but she was particularly stubborn and set in her ways. She walked into that office not wanting me to truly help her, but instead wanted me to give her a prescription for a diet pill so that she could slim down for bikini season. I shook my head and told her that I don’t believe in them, and that I would not give her a prescription, whereupon she hopped off the examination table and said, “Whatever. I thought you were supposed to help people with weight loss shit, but I guess not. See ya.”

When I see young people eating all kinds of crap on a consistent basis, it saddens me, because I know that poor eating habits will have consequences on their health. Nine times out of ten, those same people will hit the clubs on the weekends and go on drinking binges. Some of them don’t even wait until the weekend to get their party on. I can guarantee that people who adopt atrocious habits like these will show signs of age much faster, and will put themselves at a much greater risk for developing diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer. Though they may think that their youthfulness protects them, they usually will get a wicked surprise down the line when disease processes begin to rear their ugly heads.

If you want to optimize your health for the long term, make sure to consume healthy food options the majority of the time, limit alcohol consumption, don’t smoke, and get plenty of regular exercise. Those measures can serve as the best insurance policy for wellness as you get older.

Whey And Casein In Lactose Intolerant Individuals

cows
If you are lactose intolerant, then you are quite accustomed to checking to see if dishes contain dairy. You might also be wary of whey and casein protein powders due to their derivation from milk. However, if you have only a mild lactose intolerance, you may not have an issue with whey and casein. Why is this?

Many individuals with a mild lactose intolerance are fine with whey protein isolate as well as with casein. Both whey and casein are separated from the lactose during processing. There are small concentrations of lactose which bypass the separation, but usually this is not enough to mount a reaction in a mildly lactose intolerant individual. Only the most sensitive individuals will have a problem with these forms of protein. Bear in mind that whey concentrate is not the same as whey isolate, and that individuals who are more lactose intolerant or who have other gut issues might not tolerate the concentrate form of whey.

You may be asking what the big deal is with whey and casein, and whether they are better than other forms of protein. Why take a chance of mounting a reaction in the belly when there are other forms of protein?
whey scoop
Whey is a complete protein, meaning that it provides all the amino acids the body requires. It is also relatively cheap. Casein protein is also a complete protein, and is digested very slowly, making it a great option for bedtime.

While soy is also a complete protein, it undergoes considerable processing, and it contains phytoestrogens which are estrogen mimics. I am definitely not a fan of soy protein and will not advocate its use. Rice, hemp and pea proteins are good alternatives for the vegan or vegetarian crowd, but since they are not complete proteins, they must be combined to fill out the amino acid profile. Rice protein is very easily digested, while pea protein has glutamic acid, which helps convert carbs into energy instead of being stored as fat. Hemp protein is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and has a high fiber content.

As long as you mix plant based proteins to get a complete profile, you will not be at a disadvantage if you cannot tolerate whey or casein. However, when it comes to cost, nutrition profile, and convenience, whey will always win the prize for being the king of protein powders.

How Much Protein I Eat

protein sourcesLet me begin by stating that I am an unapologetic carnivore, which is unusual since I am a massive animal lover. I will eat just about any muscle meat except veal, and I consistently eat beef, chicken, and turkey. On average, I consume between 150 to 200 grams of protein each day, which is equivalent to between 30 and 40 ounces of chicken. Yes, I eat the equivalent of about 2 pounds of chicken per day, split into 6 or 7 meals evenly spaced throughout the day. In an effort to mix up protein sources for the sake of variety, I also include egg whites, whey protein, P28 High Protein Bread, salmon, tilapia, and orange roughy in my meal plan.

Why so much protein? For one thing, my body craves and responds well to a high protein intake. Secondly, I need to consume sufficient protein to offset the natural propensity for muscle loss that begins to assert itself after age 40. Lastly, my training is structured to help me build muscle, so I must eat sufficient protein in order to ensure maximal muscle growth. It is difficult for me to eat a meal which lacks a decent protein source because I know that doing such a thing is a disservice to my body.

You may be asking if you need to eat the same amount of protein as I do, or more than that if you are a man. Let me be very clear: if you are dedicated to a regular resistance training regimen, and your goal is to build muscle, then you probably should be consuming more protein than you are currently taking in. Though the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance is set at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for adults, I consider that quantity of protein an absolute joke. In fact, the U.S. RDA guidelines are so completely lacking in a true reflection of OPTIMAL values for people that I honestly believe that they shouldn’t be taken that seriously.

I would recommend an intake of about 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight in individuals who perform resistance training consistently, and over 2 grams of protein per kilogram body weight in athletes. I push the envelope and employ a ratio of around 3 grams per kilogram body weight. When I consume less protein, I look flat, my energy lags, and my skin loses its glow. As a disclaimer, I caution anyone with kidney issues or any other medical issues which would be exacerbated by a high protein intake to consult with their primary physicians before implementing an increased protein intake.