Healthy Byte: Just Because it is in Print Doesn’t Make it Definitive Truth

NOTE Last Sentence: “The burden, unfortunately, remains on you to think.”

An important new science article has been making the rounds, with apparently every newspaper and internet news aggregator in the world repeating the message: You don’t have to lift heavy weights to get stronger.

I know you read it. Here’s the first place I saw it, and here’s the actual paper.

It’s important because it both seems to confirm what everybody wants to believe, and because it’s actually a pretty good technical study. But it is wrong, because it studies the wrong questions. Nonetheless, you now think that you don’t have to lift heavier weights to get stronger.

In short, the study compared two groups of young men who had been working out in the gym for a while — “gym bros” to us strength training professionals — and assigned them a largely machine-based exercise program, described as “full-body Resistance Training,” to be performed four days a week.

One group performed “low reps” which the study authors considered to be 8-12 reps per set with 75-90% of their 1-rep maximum weight. The other group performed “high reps,” 20-25 reps per set with 30-50% of their 1RM. Each group did three sets to muscle failure with only a one-minute rest between sets.

This was actually not “strength training” at all. It was circuit training.

The strength and conditioning professional will immediately recognize that neither of these groups is a “low-rep” group, and neither of these groups is a “heavy-weight” group.

In other words, there was no low-rep, heavy-weight test group in a study that claims to show that there is no benefit to low-rep, heavy-weight exercise.

From the text: “The loads were adjusted in between each set to ensure that the correct repetition range was maintained,” and the loads were adjusted, either down or up, so that “failure” was achieved within the prescribed rep range for each group. In other words, if you somehow happened to get tired, they lowered the weight, because they had to.

Strength was measured by testing the change in 1-rep max on the lifts. Body composition and muscle tissue changes were assessed by the best laboratory methods available to modern science. Blood was drawn and hormones were measured, and statistical analysis was correctly performed.

The study found no significant difference in either strength or muscle size, or in growth-related hormone levels at the end of 12 weeks between the two groups.

This is not particularly surprising, since:

1.) Heavy weights were not used (you simply cannot do either 12 or 25 reps with a heavy weight, especially if you have to do three sets).

2.) To the extent that the two groups did get stronger, the group doing 8-12 reps to failure got a little stronger than the high-rep group, because they lifted heavier weights for fewer reps.

3.) The 1-Rep Max was therefore not trained. Instead, high repetitions were trained. You don’t get what you don’t train for.

4.) The exercises chosen for the study are widely recognized as ineffective for increasing both strength and muscular size, especially since there is nothing in the paper that details precisely how the movements were performed.

5.) Since a muscle’s size is proportionate to its strength, if you don’t ask the muscle to lift heavier weight it won’t get bigger.

6.) Exercise-induced changes in blood levels of growth-related hormones, while possibly wonderfully lovely for your health, are already understood not to correlate strongly — if at all — with increases in strength or mass.

There are many other problems with this paper. In fact, because of the way the study protocol was designed, it would have been odd if a significant increase in either strength or muscle size between the two groups had been demonstrated.

Basically, the study compared the effects of two stupid, inefficient ways to get stronger and bigger, and then correctly determined that they are both equally stupid and inefficient.

No competitive strength athlete in the entire world will change training programs on the basis of this study — because they all know that to be stronger you have to lift heavier weights in the squat, press, and deadlift, usually for five reps or less.

Yet the mainstream media has restated this paper’s conclusions, and has made their version perhaps the most widely disseminated chunk of “exercise science” in many years: “Lighter Weights Just as Effective as Heavier Weights to Gain Muscle, Build Strength,” or some version thereof.

Because they know this is what people want to read.

For the same reason, about every six months you’ll read an article entitled “Scientists Discover Fat Pill That Replaces Exercise.”

I have detailed the problems with exercise science in other articles, and this is certainly an excellent example of those problems. My point here is that the MSM lives for things like this, so they can throw the hyperbole engines into overdrive. The paper is badly done — the standard deal for exercise and nutritional science — but it’s not this badly done. It simply doesn’t say what the New York Times and everybody else reported that it said.

Take bad journalistic habits like this and apply them to climate science, another area of recently reduced academic rigor, and you get statements from John Kerry about how climate change is as dangerous as ISIS.

Don’t assume that what you read in the MSM about science is true any more than you would assume that what you see on 60 Minutes is true.

The burden, unfortunately, remains on you to think.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: “Can’t”

NOTE: It really is all a matter of perspective

Sitting motionless in my kitchen, staring blankly and hopelessly at my pantry, I felt the onset of an anxiety attack.

As a complete and total omnivore (I truly eat all the foods), it was the first time I didn’t know what I was “allowed” to eat — and I was SO hungry. My doctor had just put me on the low FODMAPs diet, which is in my opinion the most confusing, unnavigable, impossible diet on the planet with conflicting information from so many sources. The list of things you can’t eat seemed infinite . . . no peaches, no wheat, no milk, no fruit juice or avocados or honey (there are quite literally hundreds of items). I focused so much on the “no” list that I had zero idea what to eat. I sat there paralyzed (and honestly, starving, with low blood sugar that probably exacerbated this situation). Panic started to creep in.

This made me realize how much we focus on what we can’t do vs. what we can and how much that word “can’t” paralyzes us in so many ways — especially when it comes to diet and exercise.

Have you felt this way with your food? So much anxiety and unnecessary stress stems from this idea of what we can’t do, can’t have, can’t eat. I have watched friends start their new lives as vegans, feeling their frustration of what they can’t eat without focusing on all the good, delicious foods they love that they can eat. Sure, you can’t eat Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese anymore, but you totally can eat that quinoa veggie bowl you love and also that fruit smoothie and that spaghetti dish. By focusing on what we can eat, we liberate ourselves from a crippling list of can’ts.

This also applies to fitness. For years I told myself (and others), “I can’t do that, I’m not an athlete” or “I can’t do that, I’m not fit” or “I can’t run, I’m slow.” So again, I was paralyzed. It was the opposite of empowering; I did no sort of physical activity for years upon years and never attended a yoga class or went to a gym. The second I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t do and focused on what I could — in this case, it was “I can actually move my body forward for several miles at a slow pace without dying” — I opened myself up to an entire world of healthy activity.

The “I can move my body forward” became “I can run a mile” (albeit a very slow one). That became “I can run three miles,” which eventually became “I can run a half marathon.” I stopped focusing on can’ts in other areas and started small with the things I could do — one thing led to another, and now fitness plays a central role in my life.

I needed a reminder of this the other day when I started the low FODMAPs diet. And honestly, I feel like I need a reminder of this in several areas of my life! When we only see what we can’t do, we miss out on so much of what we can, and it gets in the way of our everyday life — we end up shortchanging ourselves.

Don’t get in your own way, and don’t paralyze yourself with your words. Empower yourself! What can you do? What can you eat? What can you try? Go for it!

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Get Up & Move

The perils of sitting all day aren’t good. Researchers have shown that remaining stationary for extended periods of time (like at your 9-to-5 desk job) can be detrimental to your health. While exercise is a big part of offsetting the harmful effects of sitting, it was unclear how many gym sessions were needed to help — until now.

A new study, published in The Lancet, shows the ideal formula for counteracting the negative effects of a sedentary job. Instead of a fixed number of hours spent exercising, the ratio depends on how much you sit: people who work a typical eight-hour day should spend at least one hour each day moving; if you sit six hours a day, you should spend half an hour exercising. The research also indicated that the exercise doesn’t have to be all at once — or rigorous. It can be spread throughout the day and be as simple as walking.

The team behind the study analyzed data from a pool of a million adults over the age of 45 in Western Europe, the United States, and Australia. Using previous data, the researchers examined data from 16 published studies and used it to determine how much exercise is required to compensate for sitting. Their recommended daily exercise goal is higher than previous advice but not necessarily less attainable, given it can be completed throughout the day.

Fitting in an hour of exercise a day sounds especially daunting if you have a desk job, but there are plenty of workouts you can complete before and after work. Even if it means taking a 10-minute walk during lunch, your body will thank you in the long run.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Menstrual Cycle Fueled Cravings

NOTE: It took me a very long time to figure out why once I month I became completely reckless in my eating. Ever since I noticed the pattern of euphoric binge eating in line with my cycle, I have been able to temper it because I know what it is and have found substitutes to temper the cravings. Sometimes simply being aware is enough.

Image result for food cravings before period

 

Food cravings in the week or two preceding your menstrual period are common for many women, but could be getting in the way of reaching your desired weight or eating in a healthy manner. Whether you crave chocolate, potato chips or baked goods, identifying the cause of your cravings at that time of the month can help you control them so you stick to your healthy diet throughout your menstrual cycle.

Blood Sugar Issues

A fluctuation in blood sugar levels is a common cause of cravings and compulsive overeating, according to licensed nutritionist Darlene Kvist. Willpower is not enough to control your food cravings if the cause is physiological. Eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet and eating fewer processed foods can help you stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent cravings from occurring before your next menstrual period. Trade your usual breakfast of corn flakes, milk, sugar and orange juice for a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats mixed with raspberries and plain yogurt. Base your lunch and dinner on blood-sugar-stabilizing non-starchy vegetables; protein from chicken, fish or nuts; and healthy fats from avocado or olive oil.

Magnesium Deficiency

If you often crave chocolate before your period, you may have a magnesium deficiency, although more hard evidence is still needed to support this theory. Chocolate is one of the richest food sources of magnesium, a hard-to-get mineral many American women are lacking. If chocolate is your most common craving, opt for dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa to keep your sugar intake low. Discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking a magnesium supplement for a few weeks to see if it helps you better control your cravings.

Low Serotonin

Cravings at any time of the month can result from low serotonin levels, according to Julia Ross, a pioneer in the field of nutritional psychotherapy. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter your body produces from certain amino acids to help you feel relaxed. If you are deficient in these amino acids and cannot produce enough serotonin, you may experience strong carbohydrate cravings, which may translate into eating potato chips, French fries, bread, cookies or soft drinks. Although carbohydrates can temporarily elevate your serotonin levels and help you feel better during your pre-menstrual period, eating more carbohydrates to elevate your mood creates a vicious cycle of cravings. Eat foods rich in tryptophan, found mainly in animal protein as well as soy protein, to boost your serotonin.

Healthier Alternatives

If none of these techniques works, your cravings may simply be the result of the normal hormonal fluctuations that occur during your menstrual cycle. Try to find healthier alternatives to satisfy your cravings without getting off track with your diet. For example, try a sugar-free smoothie with fresh fruit and plain yogurt, a few pieces of fruit with nuts or flavorful cheese. Healthy fats from a salad of avocado and tomato drizzled with olive oil or raw vegetables dipped in a homemade mayonnaise or guacamole can also help decrease your cravings.

Originally Posted HERE

Additional Info HERE

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Healthy Byte: Go Ahead – Bare it All!

Here’s what you should do before you wrap a towel around your body. (Photo: Getty Images)

Does this sound familiar? The second you get out of the shower you immediately wrap a towel around your body before risking catching a glimpse of exposed flesh. If so, experts say you’re missing out on an important self-esteem booster.

Checking yourself out in the buff “desensitizes you to being so negative about your body,” clinical psychologist and body image expert Amy L. Flowers, PhD, tells Yahoo Health. “It normalizes the experience.”

It makes sense to do it — the mirror is usually right there — but most of us strain to avoid looking at our naked bodies.

Psychologist and body image expert Sari Shepphird, PhD, says there are two main reasons for that:

  1. We tend to zero in on our flaws instead of our assets.
  2. We naturally compare ourselves with others.

“We’re kind of trained in our society to think about the ways we can improve upon ourselves,” she says. “But the more we focus on our flaws, the more they’re magnified — and then we’re going to want to avoid looking at our bodies in general.”

The comparison instinct is also an issue, Shepphird says, because our minds naturally tend to go to the societal standards of perfection. And if you don’t look like a swimsuit model (because few people do), you feel as if you just don’t measure up physically.

Enter the mirror trick. To do it (and do it in a positive way), Shepphird recommends looking at yourself and naming five things you’re grateful for about your body or five things you like about your body on that day. It can be as small as liking the way your toenails are painted. Then, go about your usual post-shower routine. It seems minor, but it “can be very transformational,” Shepphird says.

If you struggle to come up with positive thoughts, Flowers recommends trying to remember any compliments or positive comments you’ve received about how you look. If you still don’t like what you see, you can also remind yourself that you’ve been exercising and eating healthy lately — both of which are good for your body.

Suffer from mirror anxiety? Start slow. Shepphird recommends trying the mirror trick once a week and building up to the point where you’re comfortable looking at yourself every day. Eventually, you won’t need to list out what you like about your body — you’ll just be more positive about it naturally.

Body-Peace Resolution is Yahoo Health’s January initiative to motivate you to pursue wellness goals that are not vanity-driven, but that strive for more meaningful outcomes. We’re talking strength, mental fitness, self-acceptance — true and total body peace. Our big hope: This month of resolutions will inspire a body-peace revolution. Want to join us? Start by sharing your own body-positive moments on social media using the hashtag #bodypeaceresolution

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Three Steps to Eating Healthier for Life

A happy couple eating in Stockholm, Sweden.Maridav/Shutterstock

Every January, people making resolutions to lose weight are peppered with loads of free dieting advice. Most of it is absolutely terrible, or plain lies. Even worse, many weight loss hucksters over complicate the very simple truths we know about eating for health.

That’s why I love this chart from the Swedish National Food Agency. Its succinct (and still impressively science-based) advice is summed up in this nice graphic:

Sweden’s dietary guidelines summed up in “one minute.”

While American guideline makers are reluctant to urge the public to eat less of anything (lest they offend powerful industry lobby groups), the Swedes are clear about what people really need to cut back on: red and processed meat, salt, and sugar.

Likewise, while fad diet peddlers often suggest people eat a certain “superfood,” avoid some overly specific substance like gluten, or follow a fat-busting workout routine to stay fit, the Swedes keep it real: Just eat more plants and exercise. Instead of suggesting people do the impossible and banish fat from their diets, these Scandinavians are advised to seek out “fabulous fats” in vegetable oils and nuts. (Again, these findings jibe with what researchers have found.)

 “In truth,” the experts at the Swedish food agency write, “most people know perfectly well what they should eat. It’s no secret that vegetables are good for you and sugar isn’t.”
So here’s an idea: Save your money, and tune out the fads you’ll be inundated with this year. Ignore the unreasonable diet plans that time has shown will fail, and forget the punishing workouts. Instead, eat like a Swede.
Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Weight Loss Strategies for the Everyday Folks

Image result for regular people getting healthy

For some reason, people treat changing calendars as an event that marks the beginning of a new lifestyle, usually one that includes a focus on health. Sure enough, the two most popular resolutions are “losing weight” and “staying fit and healthy.” It’s pretty much a given that come January 1, gyms will be slammed and salad bars will be crammed.

But what about the folks who aren’t ready to dive into something extremely demanding, like CrossFit five days a week or a seriously restrictive diet plan? Are there less-challenging, yet still effective ways to lose weight? Absolutely!

 

Nix the sodas and fruit juices
Here’s something to think about: if you currently drink two servings of soda or juice a day, and you simply stopped drinking it right now, opting instead for healthier alternatives like sparkling water or just plain water, you’d easily be able to eliminate 300+ calories from your day and shed almost 1lb a week without any additional exercise.

2016-01-06-1452098034-4041274-weightmain.jpgCredit: Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Simplify your coffee
Since coffee contains caffeine, it can stimulate fat burn and weight loss. Unfortunately, coffee loses all of its weight-loss potential when you cram it with unhealthy additives like super-sweet syrups and sugars. End result: a once-healthy black coffee becomes a fattening sugarbomb. So here’s a simple solution for coffee-lovers who also want to lose weight: start taking your coffee black, and if you really can’t stand the bitterness, go for a naturally low-calorie sweetener, like stevia. Bottom line, by going au natural with your coffee, you’ll tighten up your waistline.

2016-01-06-1452098285-8879627-weight2.jpgCredit: Flickr/Jpellgen

Reduce your carbs three days per week
Not all carbs are the devil, but eating a diet high in refined carbs (think white rice, pasta, cereal, bread) can cause elevated blood sugar and insulin. End result: eating a diet high in refined carbs can make you fat and sick— and it can make it harder to lose weight.

 

Originally Posted HERE

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