Study: Sugar-reduction initiative could lead to reduction of heart disease in millions across the U.S.
Nada Hassanein, USA TODAYMon, August 30, 2021, 9:31 AM·3 min read
Slashing sugar from packaged food and drinks could prevent disease in millions of people and potentially cut billions from health-care costs, especially among people of color, a new study suggests.
Researchers conducted estimates by creating a model that projects future impacts from a proposed “sugar-reduction policy” by the U.S. National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative. The regulation would push food and drink companies to decrease sugar in their formulas.
Cutting sugar from a fifth of packaged food and 40% of drinks could prevent more than 2 million strokes, heart attacks and cardiac arrests, according to the study, published Friday in the American Heart Association’s journal, “Circulation.” The researchers also estimated a dramatic impact on health-care costs: The U.S. could save more than $4 billion in total health-care costs and more than $118 billion across the current adult population’s lifetime.
Even if companies didn’t fully comply, the regulation could lead to “significant health and cost savings,” the authors wrote.
Dietician Dana Hunnes, a community health sciences adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the findings shed light on the far-reaching effects food regulations can have.
“It’s important to have a monetary value on these things, in addition to a health value” for policymakers, she said. “The sheer volume of health-care costs that can be saved, and basically life productivity and life in general that can be protected, is really quite astounding.”
Lead author Dr. Siyi Shangguan, an attending doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, argued such regulations would have a greater impact on reducing adult sugar consumption more than a sugar tax, labeling added sugars or banning drinks in schools.
Due to a number of structural inequities, including lack of access to healthy food and a history of targeted marketing, sugar consumption is highest among Black Americans, poorer people and those with less education. But policies like this could help, the authors found.
Health and health-care cost improvements “were most prominent among younger adults, Black and Hispanic Americans, and Americans with lower income and less education. The policy was estimated to consistently reduce health disparities among different races/ethnicities, income and education levels,” wrote Shangguan and her colleagues, who included scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Dr. Neel Chokshi, a cardiologist and associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said such upstream efforts are important because medical professionals can only do so much by the time a patient needs their care.
“In general, diet is probably the biggest contributor to long-term cardiovascular disease, but it is the most difficult for us as physicians and clinicians to intervene upon, because it has so many variables,” Chokshi said. “By the time they’re seeing a cardiologist, usually they’ve developed some sort of cardiovascular disease or have developed a cardiovascular risk factor.”
Doing a Micro Workout Can Boost Fat Metabolism By 43%—Here’s How to Do It
Karen Asp August 16, 2021·3 min read
Turns out, there might be another solution for staying healthy when it feels like you don’t have time to exercise. The evidence for short bursts of activity has been mounting for some time. (Remember the 7-minute workout?) But now there’s research showing that even really small sessions can have bona fide benefits. They’re called exercise snacks. “And they’re somewhere between that short walk to the water cooler in pre-pandemic times and high-intensity interval training,” says Scott Lear, Ph.D., the Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. Think: challenging enough to jack up your heart rate, but only a minute or less at a time—such as 20 seconds of squat jumps, stair climbing, burpees or a fast 60-second run down your block.
These short-and-sweet exercise snacks help build cardiorespiratory fitness, a major indicator of overall health. “Increasing your cardiorespiratory fitness can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” says Martin Gibala, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario. One study Gibala was involved in, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, had inactive young adults do 20-second bike “sprint snacks” in which they pedaled as fast as they could. Participants repeated these mini workouts three times a day, each separated by one to four hours of rest. After six weeks, their cardiorespiratory fitness improved by 9%—similar to the 13% increase a second group got by doing the same sprints within longer 10-minute cycling sessions. Other research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercisefound that sedentary but healthy women improved their cardiorespiratory fitness by doing just 20 seconds of vigorous stair climbing three times a day for three weeks. “The precise reasons why exercise snacks work has yet to be determined, but they may improve the heart’s pumping capacity and ability to transport oxygen throughout the body,” says Gibala. They also appear to improve markers of insulin sensitivity and lower triglycerides.
Current exercise guidelines call for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (or a combination of the two), which is a far cry from what you’d get from an exercise snack. But doing a few micro workouts can be a good alternative for those days you can’t fit in your regular routine. “The message now is anything is better than nothing, and every little bit counts,” says Gibala.
No matter your fitness level, exercise snacks are an option for everyone. While inactive people stand to gain the most from them, Gibala says that even gym-going folks with desk jobs can reap the rewards. “Structured daily exercise doesn’t negate the harmful effects of sitting for much of the day,” he explains. “So these snacks can help break up sedentary periods.”
Preliminary research suggests that among people who typically sit for eight hours per day, those who completed five 4-second cycling sprints every hour during the workday (for a total of 160 seconds of exercise) had 31% lower triglyceride levels and 43% higher body-fat metabolism the next day. How’s that for a satisfying snack?
You Can Actually Put On Muscle Way Faster Than You Think
Julia Sullivan, CPTAugust 16, 2021·6 min read
If you’re looking to see how much muscle you can gain in a month, you’d be wise to focus on strength training first and foremost. When it comes to exercise modalities that produce quick results, it doesn’t get much more instantly gratifying than lifting heavy. On top of walking out of the gym with amajor mood boost, there’s a fairly solid chance whatever muscle you just trained will look stronger and larger as you leave, too.
And no—that enlargement isn’t just a product of improved confidence; it’s a physiological phenomenon called transient hypertrophy. Of course, those aren’t actually gains per say. Rather, the “pump” you see is just a temporaryflush of fluids to whatever muscle was being worked.
But how long does it really take to start building lasting muscle from a weight training program? And more importantly, how do you get there? All the info you need is ahead.
How Muscle Growth Works
First, it helps to know how muscles, and their growth process, work, according to Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Muscle mass is increased through training and nutritional programming which, over a given period of time, can increase the size of the muscle fibers,” she explains.
Start a strength training routine with this dumbbell workout:
Quick science lesson: Myofibrils are bundles of proteins within muscle fibers that help your muscles to contract and relax. “[They] become thicker and stronger with increased strength training,” Crockford explains. Meanwhile, she notes, the sarcoplasm (which is the fluid around those muscle fibers) boosts the size of the muscle itself.
Basically, this means that when you do a single biceps curl, for example, the muscle sustains damage, or breaks down. The body then delegates microscopic repairmen (a.k.a. the myofibrils and sarcoplasm) to fill in those damages. When this process is repeated, the muscle growsbigger and stronger over time. (You also might have also heard this referred to as hypertrophy.)
Why Some People Build Muscle Faster Than Others
Despite the fact that our muscles break down, repair, and grow with the same biochemical reactions, according to Crockford, that process is streamlined for certain people. “Those exercisers who are genetically male may experience faster, seemingly easier increases in muscle growth when compared to females,” she says. “This is mainly due to [genetically male] people having more of the hormone testosterone, which is primarily responsible for assisting in muscle growth.”
There are a few caveats to the gender divide, though. Crockford says that all people, regardless of their gender, have varying levels of testosterone. (So it’s entirely possible for one woman to be carrying more testosterone than another, so she packs on muscle more quickly.)
Moreover, most studies analyzing testosterone levels in comparison to muscle growth and size pretty much only feature male participants, says Crockford. “More scientific research is needed to understand potential hormonal differences in women and men [as it relates to strength training].”
However, Crockford says that human growth hormone, as well as insulin, also play a role in a person’s ability to build muscle. Again, though, the extent to how much of each hormone a person has is largely genetic.
Another major factor in the muscle-building puzzle? Age. “Sarcopenia, or a loss of muscle mass, has been shown to increase with age,” Crockford says, noting that this phenomenon is two-fold: While muscle loss, like bone loss, is a natural part of aging, it’s often accelerated with an inactive lifestyle.
In other words, regular resistance training can help offset that muscle loss. Studies have shown that this deterioration can begin to occur in a person’s early forties, although it becomes more prevalent as the decades go on, with a 50 percent reduction in muscle mass common among folks in their eighties.
How Much Muscle You Can Gain In A Short Period
Back to the question at hand! If you’re brand-new to resistance training, expect to see tangible shifts in your muscle mass after three to six months of regular training (with proper nutrition!), says Crockford. “Although strength and body weight changes may be measurable within a few days or weeks after beginning a hypertrophy program, these changes are often due to neural adaptations and fluid fluctuations.”
That being said, Crockford says that seeing real, long-term muscle growth is possible after a month of training in some people (keyword: some). “With high genetic potential, it may be possible for someone to gain up to two pounds of muscle mass in a month,” she says. “But that rate is pretty unpredictable per person.”
The Four Driving Factors Behind Muscle Growth
1. Resistance Training Regularly
The most important action you can take in building muscle mass, according to Crockford, is regular resistance training (heavy resistance training, to be exact). “Exercise programming for hypertrophy requires heavy weights, or 65 to 85 percent of your one-rep-max (1RM),” she says.
Pro tip: If you’re not sure what your 1RM is for a particular exercise, Crockford says that choosing a weight that allows for six to 12 reps and roughly three to six sets is ideal (your final rep should feel pretty challenging).
And while sticking to the hypertrophy-focused regimen above for roughly three to six months (focusing on a twice- or three-times-per-week schedule) will contribute to muscle growth just about anywhere, focusing on large muscle groups, like your chest, back, and legs, to really build muscle, per Crockford. “And try to increase the time-under-tension for each exercise.” (Essentially, this just means slowing down each rep into stretched-out counts of two or three.)
2. Eating Enough Calories
While Crockford says that calorie abundance in general reigns supreme when it comes to muscle gain, studies have shown that ample protein specifically can contribute to muscle growth. In one study published in Nutrients, scientists noted the optimal amount for gains was 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day.
3. Prioritizing Sleep
“Rest, particularly sleep, is where muscle recovery takes place,” Crockford says, adding that those hormones responsible for muscle growth and recovery (namely, testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin) are streamlined to repair microtears in muscle fibers during periods of rest. And if the muscles can’t repair quickly, they won’t grow as fast. “Everyone needs a different amount of sleep to function, however, try to aim for six to nine hours each night,” Crockford recommends.
4. Staying Hydrated
Here’s another reason to drink up: “A properly hydrated body functions better in all areas, and that includes facilitating the healing of muscle fibers after resistance training sessions,” Crockford explains. While she says that, again, your level of hydration is highly dependent on your activity level and body size, as long as your urine is a light yellow, that probably means you’re on track.
Arnold Shared Some Great Advice to Help Anyone Get Started Weightlifting
Jesse HicksSun, August 29, 2021, 9:44 AM
It goes without saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a pretty good source for weightlifting advice. The 73-year-old former Mr. universe and seven-time Mr. Olympia has always generously shared his workouts and fitness recommendations. So it’s no surprise that when a fan asked for some tips on getting into weightlifting, the Terminator was glad to help.
The question appeared in his newsletter: “Do you have any advice for a girl getting into weightlifting?” Schwarzenegger started his answer by declaring, “I would have the same advice for you as I do for any boy!” From there, he laid out some initial considerations. What kind of weightlifting are you interested in, and what are your goals? Someone who wants to tone up and feel better has a much different path from someone who wants to start Olympic or powerlifting.
Schwarzenegger encouraged his reader not to let anyone doubt her because of her gender. “If anyone gives you crap about it, let your lifting do the talking,” he writes. For anyone interested in Olympic lifting, he recommends reading about Kate Nye, who switched from gymnastics to weightlifting, and five years later delivered the US’ best result in two decades, winning silver in Tokyo. “She overcame some tremendous mental health struggles,” he wrote, “and I hope she inspires you, because she definitely inspires me.”
For people looking to feel and look better, Schwarzenegger’s advice is simple: Start with lower weights, focus on your technique, and master the basics—the squat, deadlift, and press. From a strong foundation, you can start to build. “Stay consistent and stay confident and no one can beat you!”
New Study Says That Your Metabolism Doesn’t Really Slow Down until This Age
Stephanie Gravalese; Reviewed by Jessica Ball, M.S., RDAugust 17, 2021·2 min read
We’ve been told over the years that the body’s metabolism (or the rate at which we convert food and drink into energy) is at its peak during our adolescent years. After that, our metabolism reportedly experiences a steep decline through middle age and onward, which makes us process calories at a slower rate and causes that seemingly inevitable midlife weight gain. But a recent study has found that this might not be the case.
Recent findings published in the journal Science show that the peak in our metabolism is actually much earlier, and that the sharp decline does not occur until your 60s.
While metabolism is discussed in reference to the consumption and processing of calories, it impacts much more than your ability to gain or lose weight. Every action in the body (even thinking) requires energy, aka calories, to keep us moving.
“There are lots of physiological changes that come with growing up and getting older,” study co-author Herman Pontzer, Ph.D., associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, told Duke Today. “Think puberty, menopause, other phases of life. What’s weird is that the timing of our ‘metabolic life stages’ doesn’t seem to match those typical milestones.”
The research team evaluated calories burned by over 6,600 people in 29 countries, with participants ranging in age from 8 days old to 95 years of age, to determine how much energy was expended each day.
The study suggests that infants (not teenagers) have the highest metabolic rate in relation to their size. Granted, this is partially due to how small infants are and how quickly they grow compared to their body size. This period of increased metabolism is in line with a critical period in early development. At this peak, a 1-year-old child can burn through calories 50% faster than a middle-aged adult. After this peak in energy consumption, the study shows that between the ages of 5 and 20, our our metabolism slows down at a rate of about 3% each year. From our 20s, this metabolic rate remains steady (and does not decline) until our 60s. The study also found that factors like pregnancy and menopause did not contribute to decline in metabolism.
If you’re between the ages of 20 and 60 and feel like your metabolism has slowed down despite this compelling research, fear not. There are a few things you can do to perk up your metabolism at any age, such as eating a healthy diet full of protein and whole foods, incorporating regular strength training, drinking green tea, eating certain spicy foods and cutting off your technology use before bed.