Healthy Byte: Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Breast Cancer

Image result for mammogram

Originally Posted HERE

(Reuters Health) – Screening mammograms don’t benefit women aged 75 and older with chronic health problems – such as heart disease or diabetes – that are likely to end their lives before they develop cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 222,088 women who had at least one screening mammogram between 1999 and 2010 when they were between 66 and 94 years old. Researchers followed most women for nine years or more.

During the study, 7,583 women, or about 3%, were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 1,742 women, less than 1%, were diagnosed with pre-invasive malignancies known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). While 471 women died of breast cancer during the study, 42,229 died of other causes.

This means women were 90 times more likely to die of causes other than breast cancer, researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Having more chronic illnesses increases the risk of dying from non-breast cancer causes, while having no impact on the risk of breast cancer or breast cancer death,” said Dejana Braithwaite, senior author of the study and a researcher at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“This is a big deal because, while younger women might have a more justifiable reason to undergo screening mammograms to detect breast cancer because their risk of dying from other causes is relatively low, this is not the case in older women, particularly those with one or more chronic illnesses,” Braithwaite said by email.

Women ages 75 to 84 were 123 times more likely to die of causes other than breast cancer; this estimate was even higher among women age 85 and older.

The 10-year risk of dying from breast cancer was small and did not vary by age; it stayed about the same from age 66 to 94, accounting for just 0.2% -0.3% of all deaths in the study.

By contrast, the risk of dying from other causes increased with age and also climbed with each additional chronic medical problem a woman had.

The goal of screening mammography is to detect tumors before they can be felt in a physical breast exam, catching cancer sooner when it’s easier to treat. Ideally, this should mean fewer women are diagnosed when tumors are bigger, rapidly growing and harder to attack.

But some research suggests that screening too early or too often can also catch more small, slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to be fatal – without curbing the diagnosis of advanced cancer cases. Harms of too much screening can include unnecessary invasive follow-up tests and cancer treatments for tumors that never would have made women sick or led to their death.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force notes that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening women age 75 or older. Many breast cancer programs in Europe stop screening women between the ages of 69 and 74.

In the U.S., despite these recommendations, many women in their 80s and 90s still get screening mammograms, the study team notes.

One limitation of the analysis is that it only included women who continued to get screening mammograms as they aged, and it’s possible results for all women in the population, including those who stopped getting mammograms, might be different, researchers note.

“Our study included large numbers of older women unlikely to benefit from screening mammography,” Braithwaite said. “Women ages 75 and older with chronic illnesses are unlikely to benefit from continuing mammograms, however, these findings underscore the need for more individualized screening strategies, rather than making sweeping recommendations.”

Healthy Byte: The Unicorn for Women – Flat Belly

 

Image result for skinny fat pooch women

Originally Posted HERE

The idea that for a woman to be beautiful and healthy she must have a flat stomach has infiltrated mainstream society. Not only is this far from the truth – women are beautiful regardless of stomach size – but it is also a rarity to have a perfectly flat stomach.

“This belief is setting women up for failure because a woman’s stomach isn’t meant to be flat,” Ashley Wood, RN, BSN, contributor at Demystifying Your Health, told Grateful, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Over and over again, I see friends and strangers killing themselves to suck any bit of bulge from their stomach, feeling inadequate any time they see a stomach roll. For years, I felt the same way, terrified to put on a bathing suit, feeling exposed and ugly, desperate to fit the standards society had told me I needed to meet.

It feels like every day I see another article that perpetuates this narrative, promising a certain food or exercise move will finally allow me to achieve this mystical flat stomach. It suggests that any problems in life would be solved if I could simply accomplish that goal. Well, I can’t, and that’s actually OK. In fact, it’s great! Letting go of a goal you can’t achieve and allowing yourself to focus on those you can gives you back control of your life.

This may be hard to believe after what feels like a lifetime of hearing that a flat stomach is gold. So, as with any myth, the best way to tackle it is with facts. Here’s why some women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.

WOMEN HAVE EXTRA PADDING TO PROTECT VITAL ORGANS

There is a very big reason why some women cannot achieve a flat stomach, and it is called reproductive organs.

“The design of a woman’s anatomy is different than men,” Wood says. “In addition to having room for digestive organs, like your stomach, liver and intestines, it has to have space for your reproductive organs and needs extra padding to protect all of these vital organs. This process of naturally storing fat cells in the stomach area begins during adolescence and young adulthood in preparation for childbearing later in life.”

Yes, right when we enter adolescence and start being told exactly what our body should look like is when it starts to take on a mind of its own.

Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat
Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat

Men and women also lose fat in different ways.

“When men lose weight, they tend to lose their visceral fat, which is the layer of fat behind their abdominal muscles, while women typically lose subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just below the skin,” said Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health expert for Maple Holistics. “Both your visceral and subcutaneous fat contribute to your achieving a flat stomach, which is why some women find it harder to do so than others. Furthermore, factors like hormone regulation play a role in storing visceral fat, which is why many women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.”

TRUST HOW YOUR BODY IS BUILT

Just like it protects your organs, each thing your body does is for a reason. As you fight what your body does, it puts you at odds with what it needs, sometimes to the point of danger.

Ariel Johnston, a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders, cautions clients that they’ll likely see fat accumulate around their stomachs.

“When weight restoring through increased nutrition, the weight is distributed unevenly and goes to the stomach first,” she said. “This is amazing because it is the body’s way of telling us that it needs the extra fat layer there to protect itself. The mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood, but after adequate time and nourishment, the fat is redistributed throughout the body.”

Yes, your stomach will go up and down, looking different at certain times than others. “It is normal for the stomach to expand after a big meal to accommodate for the food nourishing your body. This isn’t necessarily bloating; just your body doing it’s work to break down food in the stomach,” Johnston says.

Having a flat stomach is not the key to being healthy or happy. There are some days in which I see my stomach poke out in my shirt or still cringe at first look when I’m in my undergarments, but life is simply too short to go after something unattainable while hating myself.

“I tell my clients that a slightly rounded tummy or some rolls is normal and that their worth is so much more than what they look like in a swimsuit,” Johnston says.

Instead of diets and habits that promise women something they don’t need to and can’t achieve, let’s start celebrating women for who they are.

Healthy Byte: What You May Not Know About Menopause

Image result for menopause symptoms hot flashes

Originally Posted HERE

Menopause mostly deserves its bad rap, what with frustration-inducing symptoms like hot flashes, brain fog, weight gain, and mood swings. But take this to heart: The change doesn’t have to be this big, awful thing you fear or must suffer through.

Unfortunately, 65 percent of women say they feel unprepared for what menopause may bring, reports a study in the journal MaturitasBut unlike other hormonally tumultuous times like puberty and pregnancy, you’ve actually got a lot more control over how you weather this one, says Sarah De La Torre, M.D., an ob/gyn in Seattle.

The facts and the tips that follow will help you feel ready and empowered to deal with menopause — and make these years your best yet.

1. Symptoms could last for 7+ years.

You officially reach the big M after 12 months without a period, a milestone most women hit around age 51. “But it’s not a hard stop — it’s a gradual process,” explains Felice Gersh, M.D., an ob/gyn, director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in Irvine, CA, and author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness.

2. No, hot flashes aren’t random.

Up to 80 percent of pre-menopausal women and 65 percent of post-menopausal women experience this trademark symptom. And while you may not be able to entirely avoid hot flashes, there are ways to minimize their impact.

“Triggers such as stress, hot drinks, caffeine, and sleep deprivation can definitely kick off hot flashes and make them worse and more frequent,” Dr. De La Torre says.

Spicy foods, hot rooms, and tight clothing also turn up the heat. So avoid those things, and swap them for more sleep, healthy foods, and plenty of exercise.

3. You can still have sex — and enjoy it.

“A lot of women feel like sex won’t be as good after menopause or that it will be painful,” Dr. De La Torre says. Sure, waning hormones can leave the vagina naturally drier and less elastic, but you don’t have to live with it or let it kill your sex life any more than you have to live with a headache in the age of ibuprofen.

“Vaginal estrogen inserts, lubricants, and red light therapy can all help improve the health of your vagina and maintain your sex life,” Dr. De La Torre says. Surprisingly, while 50 percent of women experience vaginal dryness and painful sex, as many as 90 percent don’t seek help, reports Harvard Women’s Health Watch. So be like the 10 percent, and talk to your doctor.

4. You can still get pregnant.

“I’ve had quite a few 44-year-olds with surprise pregnancies,” Dr. De La Torre says. “I think some women get more casual about birth control in their 40s, thinking there’s no way they could get pregnant — but you’re still fertile, just less so.”

There’s another reason to keep taking hormonal birth control: It could help smooth your path through menopause. The steady dose of hormones in pills and IUDs means your body may not fully register the decline of natural estrogen and progesterone. In other words, symptoms might not be as erratic. “A lot of women have ridiculously heavy or erratic periods in perimenopause, and progesterone-releasing IUDs, especially, help avoid that,” Dr. De La Torre says.

5. Menopause doesn’t just affect your reproductive system.

Estrogen is the “master of metabolic homeostasis [a.k.a balance] and function,” Gersh says. So when production ceases, it impacts everything from fat production and distribution, appetite hormones and thyroid function to energy levels, sleep, mood, inflammation, and so much more.

That’s partly why up to 90 percent of women gain weight after menopause and why you may feel hungrier or more fatigued, Dr. Gersh says. Estrogen also helps manage cholesterol levels and keeps artery walls and blood vessels flexible and healthy, which is one reason the risk of heart disease jumps as the hormone declines. But you’re only in real trouble if you do nothing.

“Now is the time to start taking really good care of yourself,” Dr. De La Torre says. That means eating lots of fruits and veggies, exercising, practicing good sleep hygiene (no more scrolling social media in bed!), and reducing stress. All help prevent a dangerous pile-on of risk factors, keeping you healthy.

6. Your mental health might take a hit.

“Taking care of your mental health should be a huge priority,” Dr. Gersh says. “Women already have twice the risk of depression and anxiety as men, and that can escalate during the menopause transition.” Menopause symptoms also bring about extra stress (as if your kids flying the nest and aging parents who need care weren’t stressful enough).

You already know it feels good to vent or laugh your way through the tough parts of life, but research suggests positive social support can increase longevity in post-menopausal women, too.

Healthy Byte: Toss the All or Nothing Mentality

Image result for light exercise

Originally Posted HERE

(Reuters Health) – People who get even a small amount of exercise may be less likely to die prematurely than their more sedentary counterparts, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from 10 previously published studies that used accelerometers that track movement to measure the exact amount of active and sedentary time spent by more than 36,000 older adults. After an average follow-up period of 6.7 years, a total of 2,149 people died, or about 6% of the participants.

Compared to people who got virtually no exercise, people who got the most physical activity were 73% less likely to die during the study, regardless of how intensely they worked out. With even a little exercise, people were 52% less like to die.

When researchers looked only at people who did light workouts, they again found that even a little bit of low-intensity exercise was associated with a 40% lower risk of death during the study compared with doing nothing at all. People who got the most light-intensity exercise were 62% less likely to die.

“The finding that higher levels of light-intensity physical activity reduce the risk of death is novel and suggests that all physical activity counts,” said Ulf Ekelund, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.

“This is of particular importance for elderly and those who may not be able to participate in physical activity at moderate and higher intensities,” Ekelund said by email. “The simple take-home message is to sit less, move more, and move more often.”

Physical inactivity has long been linked to an increased risk of premature death and a wide variety of chronic health problems, but much of this evidence has been based on surveys that might not provide an accurate picture of how much exercise people really get, the review team writes in The BMJ.

In the current analysis, participants were 63 years old, on average. All of them wore accelerometers for at least 10 hours a day for four or more days to track how much they moved, the intensity of their activity levels and how much time they were sedentary and not moving at all.

People who were sedentary for 10 hours a day were 48% more likely to die during the study than people who moved more. Twelve hours a day of sedentary time was associated with an almost tripled risk of death during the study.

When researchers excluded people who died within the first two years of follow-up – who might have been sicker than others, explaining their inactivity – the results didn’t change.

One limitation of the study is that it looked at men and women combined, making it impossible to determine if there are any sex-based differences in the connection between activity levels and longevity. Participants were also middle-aged and older, so it’s unclear if results would be similar for younger adults.

“By reducing sedentary time people increase activity, therefore, it is likely that both are not independent factors and that they represent two sides of the same coin,” said Jochen Klenk, author of an editorial accompanying the study and a researcher the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University in Germany.

“Based in the results of the paper, is seems that any level of intensity is beneficial,” Klenk said by email.

Healthy Byte: The Importance of Rests in Strength Training

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Originally Posted HERE

What’s the most important question you ask your fellow gym rats when you show up at the gym? How much do you bench? What muscles should I focus on today?

While these topics are definitely popular, there is one question that often gets overlooked: How long should I rest?

That’s right. What if I told you that you may be missing out on strength gains because you’re working too hard in the gym? Yes, you heard me correctly. The amount of time you rest between sets has a major impact on the type of exercise you can undertake, and it should not be taken lightly.

First of all, why do we need to rest between sets? Why can’t we just train non-stop? The answer often has to do with chemical processes inside the body that cause fatigue and act as a safety measure to prevent muscles from being overworked. One general rule of thumb is that the heavier the weight you’re using, the longer your rest should generally be. For example, the recommended rest breaks when trying to improve your one-rep max Deadlift are quite a bit different than when you’re attempting to pump up your biceps.

Your rest breaks need to reflect your training goals, whether they involve endurance, strength, power or hypertrophy.

Endurance Rest Intervals

When thinking about resistance training for endurance performance, we commonly think “low weight, high reps.” Scientifically, this equates to loads of less than ~67% of your one rep max, and banging out more than 12 reps per set.

How much should you be resting when muscular endurance is your primary focus? Typical rest breaks are short, lasting between 30-60 seconds. The biggest guide is that the break is long enough for you to hit your repetition goal, but ideally no longer. Modify or adjust the training load to maintain the appropriate number of repetitions.

Why such a short rest period? This type of training relies heavily on oxidative metabolism and increases your body’s mitochondrial density (remember back to your 8th grade Biology days, the mitochondria is the “powerhouse” of the cell). More mitochondria, more aerobic metabolism, greater endurance. Boom. Science.

Hypertrophy Rest Intervals

Well, what if you want to get bigger? Not only must you make sure you are lifting heavier weights (~67-85% of your one rep max) than you would when the focus is endurance, but the volume has to be correct (between 6-12 repetitions) and the rest break also needs to be slightly altered.

Lots of research has compared human growth hormone levels accumulated with short rest intervals (60 seconds) vs. long rest intervals (180 seconds). What have they found?

Higher levels of growth hormone were found in the one-minute rest groups than the three-minute groups, leading to a higher hypertrophic effect.

So what does this mean? Instead of spending five minutes swiping through your social media, get back underneath the bar no more than a minute after your last set to maximize your body’s internal pharmaceutical cabinet.

Strength/Power Rest Intervals

Now if your goals are focused on improving strength or power output (loads typically >80% of one rep max with less than 6 repetitions), you have to make sure your mid-workout siestas are adequate.

What’s enough? Most studies indicate greater than two minutes, with some breaks lasting upwards of five minutes.

Why so long? Not only do you have to allow for the recovery of high energy substrates used in anaerobic metabolism, but the technical nature of these lifts requires adequate central nervous system recovery.

If you’re training for strength and power, 2-5 minutes between sets is usually ideal.

When it comes to resistance training, many people rarely utilize the right rest interval for their goal. They say they want to build muscle, but they’re scrolling through Instagram for six minutes between sets instead of getting back to action 30-60 seconds later. Or they say they want to get stronger, but they’re utilizing such short rest periods that they become incapable of lifting the heavy loads needed to make significant strength gains.

Of course, different guidelines apply to certain modes of exercise, such as circuit or complex training.

Additionally, the technical nature of the lift, your training status, variability of performance, fatigue levels, etc., can play a role in how much rest you may need to take during any given workout.

However, rest intervals should not be overlooked. It’s best to program them ahead of time so you stay on track during your workout, and then adjust on the fly if needed.

Healthy Byte: Sweat or Not Sweat

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Originally Posted HERE

You curled, squatted, and burpee-d your way through a full-body workout. But after an hour of nonstop fitness your sweat levels are…low. What gives? Did you totally phone it in during your exercise sesh? Because it doesn’t count unless you really break a sweat, right?

*Insert buzzer noise here* Wrong! But you’re not the only one concerned—celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson (who has trained the likes of J.LoKhloe Kardashian, and Kate Beckinsale) says he gets this question all the time.

His response to clients? “Um, did I just imagine all those cardio intervals where you were huffing and puffing?”

“Give yourself credit for everything you do.”

“Sure, [sweat is] an indicator, but it’s not the only indicator,” Peterson told Women’s Health at a workout event with MitoQ. For starters, what’s the temperature in the room? Because, yeah, if you’re working out in a 85 degree studio, you’ll likely sweat more than an air-conditioned gym. Also, are you hydrating enough? Because the less water you drink, the less you’ll likely sweat. “You know how hard you’re working,” says Peterson, so don’t let that be the standard of a successful workout.

It also really depends on your goals. Were you working your entire body? How does your whole body feel after your workout? Did you focus on arms? How do your arms feel? Tired? Worked? Good.

So even if you’re not sweating buckets, you still did the work. “Ultimately, give yourself credit for everything you do,” says Peterson, “and stop beating yourself up for everything you didn’t do.”

Healthy Byte: Stave Off Colon Cancer with Exercise

 

Image result for exercise colon cancer

Originally Posted HERE

Think back to what you were doing as a teen. Were you on the pounding the trails on the cross-country team? Maybe sprinting back and forth on the soccer field?

How active you were then—and how you’ve maintained it now—is important when gauging your risk of colorectal cancer, a recent study suggests. Physical activity during adolescence can lower risk of the disease, and if you continue moderate, daily physical exercise well into adulthood, the results are particularly dramatic.

Published in the British Journal of Cancer, the research looked at data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, one of the largest investigations into major chronic disease risk. Researchers analyzed data on 28,250 women aged 25 to 42, examining the long-term effects of physical activity, nutrition, and hormones, among other health factors.

They found that those who reported at least an hour of physical activity per day from age 12 to 22 had reduced risk of adenoma—polyps considered a precursor of colorectal cancer—by 7 percent, compared to those with lower activity amounts. Physical activity that started in adulthood reduced risk by 9 percent.

But for those who started being active as teens and continued that hour-plus-daily activity streak? They had the biggest benefit of all: They reduced their adenoma risk by 24 percent.

The takeaway here is that there’s a cumulative effect of physical activity as you age, according to study co-author Leandro Rezende, D.Sc., Ph.D.(c), of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Starting physical activity at any age is advantageous for numerous reasons, including better colorectal health, he told Runner’s World, and the longer you maintain that activity, the better off you’ll be.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer by several biological mechanisms,” he said. “Weight management and control are likely the most important, because it impacts insulin resistance and inflammation that are involved in the promotion and progression of cancer.”

Although this study didn’t look at whether activity intensity or frequency made a bigger difference, Rezende said previous studies have shown that moderate-to-vigorous activity is associated with lower bowel cancer risks, as well as lower risk for breast and endometrium cancers.

Plus, recent studies suggest you don’t need to get your exercise in big exercise blocks, or even in 10-minute-plus increments, as previously believed. Even small bursts of activity can add up.

“The more activity you get, especially if you do it every day, and at higher levels, the more of an impact on cancer prevention you’re likely to see,” said Rezende.

 

Healthy Byte: 5:2; 16/8; 14/10

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BLOGGER NOTE:  Click HERE for additional details on intermittent fasting variation. Personally in my 6th year of weight-loss maintenance I have naturally adapted to eating intermittently 15/9. Fasting for 15-hours may sound like madness but considering the bulk of the time fasting is spent sleeping, it has come easily for me and worked well in my day-to-day.

Originally Posted HERE

Let’s be honest: The word “fasting” doesn’t exactly bring up delicious thoughts and positive vibes. For plenty of people, it probably conjures up images of starvation and deprivation and makes their stomach start growling.

Yet, intermittent fasting has so many folks going wild right now, raving about how the strict-and-scheduled eating plans helped them lose weight and improve their health. So there must be *some* good in the health and weight-loss fad, right?

Charlie Seltzer, MD, weight-loss physician and certified personal trainer, points out that what most people are doing nowadays isn’t “true” fasting (in other words, eating only one meal per day or nothing at all in a day’s period). Instead, they’re intermittent fasting (duh), meaning they’re taking an approach to eating that involves restricting calorie consumption to a certain window of time each day, like only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (so you fast for 16 hours, a.k.a. a 16:8 diet).

The logic behind periodic fasting as a weight-loss approach: “Since you need to have a calorie deficit to lose weight, eating within a window makes it easier to eat less and hit your designated calories,” Dr. Seltzer explains.

Intermittent fasting has some pros beyond weight loss, too, says Dr. Seltzer. It works with a lot of people’s lifestyles, allowing them to skip meals during the day when they’re busy or not super hungry and might otherwise just eat out of obligation. What’s more, following a 5:2 fasting schedule may even improve your heart health; fasting can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, according to Cleveland HeartLab.

“True fasting has a large variety of health benefits beyond those that occur with calorie restriction,” Dr. Seltzer adds. “It can cause something called cellular autophagy, where our cells eat themselves [to destroy damaged cells and make way for new, healthy ones].”

That said, intermittent fasting shouldn’t be attempted without some thought as to whether it’s really a good idea for your personality and lifestyle—and not just because it could be challenging to stick to, but because it could be downright bad for some groups of people.

Registered dietitian Barbie Boules of Barbie Boules Longevity Nutrition says the people who should not consider intermittent fasting are:
  • Folks with diabetes or other metabolic disorders
  • People taking medications that require food
  • Anyone with a history of disordered eating
  • Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive
  • Children and teenagers

But honestly, anyone who requires a consistent, healthy input of calories throughout the day to be healthy (physically *and* emotionally!) isn’t the ideal candidate to try intermittent fasting. If you’re unsure where you stand, it’s always wise to speak with a medical professional first.

Here are eight potential disadvantages, side effects, and straight-up warnings about intermittent fasting to keep in mind if you’re a healthy adult and thinking about trying it yourself.

1. You might feel way hungrier.

Surprise, surprise: Not eating for 16 hours a day could make you ravenously hungry, at least while you’re in an adjustment period.

In theory, says Dr. Seltzer, intense hunger shouldn’t happen while intermittent fasting using a plan such as the 16:8 method; if you’re fasting correctly by filling up on protein at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be hungry first thing in the morning. (Your appetite wouldn’t kick in until later on the following day.)

In other words, only eating within a short window is not a free pass to set up camp at the all-you-can-eat buffet for eight hours, which would defeat the purpose of fasting. And this can be a huge challenge for many people who are used to eating much more regularly and who may not be totally in tune with their body’s hunger cues.

2. It might make you feel sick or fatigued in the morning, especially if you work out first thing.

Committed to your 6 a.m. workout? Intermittent fasting might not be a great choice. “I think it’s a terrible idea to exercise on an empty stomach,” says Boules. “We benefit from a little glucose before and some protein after.”

And even if you’re not a morning exerciser, not eating until, say, noon when you’re used to waking up and having breakfast at 8 a.m. may leave your stomach churning. In turn, you may feel off, a little lightheaded, or nauseous as you get used to the new schedule.

3. Fasting diets are rigid and rule-based.

Both Dr. Seltzer and Boules describe intermittent fasting as very individualized, meaning it could work well for some people and turn into a total disaster for others depending on a number of lifestyle factors.

4. It doesn’t always play nice with other diets.

Boules says intermittent fasting is often combined with other restrictive diets, like keto, which can cause double-trouble if either of those approaches—or heaven forbid both—aren’t right for you.

Adopting a diet plan that means you can only eat lean protein and vegetables between the hours of 1 and 9 p.m. every day doesn’t exactly set you up for winning any popularity contests with your friends and family (not to mention the mental fatigue that comes with jumping through meal-planning hoops on the regular), Boules points out.

But hey, your diet choices are your own, and if you are up for the challenge of navigating an intense and strict food routine and your personal life, that’s entirely your decision.

5. You may deal with low blood sugar.

This is why people with diabetes should steer clear of fasting. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia is a side effect of diabetes and insulin medication, but it can happen to non-diabetics, too (if you have thyroid disease, for example).

Other symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycemia include headache, blurred vision, sweating, fatigue, and paleness, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

6. The research is minimal.

Look, we all know the internet is full of so-called health claims made by “experts” about the best diets. And while the field of research on intermittent fasting isn’t empty, Boules is hesitant to jump on the bandwagon based on what she’s seen so far.

“Despite a deluge of articles citing studies, solid evidence in support of intermittent fasting as a superior approach to eating just isn’t there yet,” she says.

What studies is Boules referring to? Well, most of the more compelling ones were actually performed on rodents. Human studies have not shown the same scope of evidence.

There also remains debate about whether the actual fasting is responsible for the health benefits, or if it’s simply the reduction in calories.

This isn’t to say that better, more conclusive research won’t ever become available, but as Boules said, we’ve got a ways to go before we understand everything about intermittent fasting.

7. It doesn’t help you create mindful eating habits.

While Boules admits that intermittent fasting can be a great strategy for curbing mindless late-night snacking, it can totally work against mindful eating, too. Rather than thinking about whether or not you’re truly hungry, you’re simply eating by the clock.

“I encourage my clients to [evaluate their hunger] on a daily basis and act accordingly,” she says. “Every day is different for sleep, exercise, stress, hormones, and schedule, which all affects appetite. It’s one of many reasons I don’t believe it’s healthy to apply ‘rules’ to your food philosophy.”

8. You can take it too far.

Even in dieting, moderation is key; no diet is sustainable if you’re unable to adapt it to your lifestyle as needed. For example, Dr. Seltzer reiterates that many athletes need a morning meal and see better results when they eat before training. Sticking to a strict intermittent fasting schedule in that example precludes that.

Ultimately, if you’re just not sure how to feel about intermittent fasting, don’t hesitate to hash it out with a pro, like an RD or doc you trust.

At the end of the day, if you’re a healthy adult, intermittent fasting probably won’t do damage (even if it turns out to not be a good fit for you personally). Dr. Seltzer and Boules both acknowledge the control it teaches, though they remain on the fence about whether the potential side effects outweigh the benefits.

“Please understand this will not work for everyone and is not required for good health,” Boules says. “While I’m watching the research and will own it if I’m proven wrong, I think it’s yet another example of a fad approach to wellness.”

Healthy Byte: Post Workout Refueling

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Originally Posted HERE

High intensity interval training – otherwise known as HIIT – is a firm favourite among gym-goers. It’s efficient, it forces you to work hard, and it targets the whole body in each calorie-blasting session.

To get the most out of your HIIT classes, you want to make sure you’re doing it right – and that includes your food intake before and after the session, too. But it can be hard to know what’s best; is it better to eat immediately before a high intensity workout? Or should you do it on an empty stomach in a bid to burn more fat?

Cosmopolitan asked Alexandra Cook – aka The Sports Dietitian, who’s working in partnership with nutritional supplement brand Lift – what her advice is when it comes to fuelling and re-fuelling for a HIIT workout.

“If you want to have a good session, being well fuelled is important,” Alexandra says. “Ensure you eat regular meals balanced with carbs and protein throughout the day, and well-timed snacks before and after training.”

The Sports Dietitian’s rule of thumb is to eat “a balanced meal 3 hours before exercise, and then a high energy snack an hour before to make sure you are powered and good to go.” If you’re not the meal-prepping type, a high energy snack in your gym bag will suffice.

For professional athletes who are training intensively, and often more than once a day, it’s important that they eat within 30 minutes of finishing training. For us mere mortals, the dietitian reassures us that the rules are more lax.

“Ensure you have a carbohydrate and protein based snack or balanced meal within 1-2 hours of finishing training, and then continue to ensure you have adequate carbs and protein throughout the rest of your day to meet individual training needs,” suggests the dietitian.

Alexandra’s recommendation for a quick, on-the-go refuel is a smoothie “mixing 1 banana, 30g of oats, 1 tbsp nut butter and 350-500mls of milk.”

Eating swiftly after your HIIT session is advisable because “the muscles are thought to be primed to accept nutrients immediately after exercise,” explains the expert. “This
will make sure you have a good balance of carbs and protein to start the recovery process.”

And what better way to help repair the damage of 50+ burpees than with a tasty snack?

Healthy Byte: The Side Effects of Exercise

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Originally Posted HERE

If ever there was a time to up your fitness game, the arrival of the new year and the new decade is it. But after the allure of the new gym membership wears off, our sedentary habits, more often than not, consume our promise of daily workouts. It doesn’t have to be this way, says health psychologist and author, Kelly McGonigal, PhD.

In her new book, The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage, the Stanford University lecturer offer new motivation to get moving that has less to do with how we look, or feeling duty-bound to exercise, and everything to do with how movement makes us feel. She shares with readers the often profound, yet lesser-known benefits of exercise that make it a worthy, life-long activity whether you’re young, old, fit or disabled.

Among its many life-altering rewards: the generation of hope, happiness, a sense of purpose, greater life satisfaction and rewarding connections with others.

“These benefits are seen throughout the lifespan,” she writes. “They apply to every socioeconomic strata and appear to be culturally universal.”

And they aren’t activity-specific and they don’t require you to be a super-athlete. Whether you run, swim, dance, bike, weight-lift, do yoga or team sports — it doesn’t matter, McGonigal says — moderate physical activity does far more than make us physically stronger and healthier.

Here are five of the ways movement can help you enjoy life.

1) Activate pleasure

During exercise, McGonigal explains, our brains release neurotransmitters — in particular dopamine and endocannabinoids — that can generate a natural high similar to that of cannabis, or marijuana.

“Many of the effects of cannabis are consistent with descriptions of exercise-induced highs, including the sudden disappearance of worries or stress, a reduction in pain, the slowing of time and a heightening of the senses,” she writes.

And while exercise activates the same channels of the brain’s reward system that addictive drugs do, she explains that it does so “in a way that has the complete opposite effect on your capacity to enjoy life.”

Exactly how it all works, isn’t fully understood.

“But the basic idea is that your brain will have a more robust response to everyday pleasures,” she says, “whether it’s your child smiling at you, or the taste of food or your enjoyment of looking at something beautiful — and that’s the exact opposite effect of addiction.”

2) Become a “more social version of yourself”

In a chapter on the collective joy of exercise, McGonigal explains how endorphins — another type of neurotransmitters released during sustained physical activity — help bond us to others. It’s a connection, she writes, that “can be experienced anytime and anywhere people gather to move in unison,” be it during the flow of yoga class, during the synchronicity of team rowing, while running with friends or while practicing tai chi with others.

Of course, humans can build bonds through sedentary activities as well, McGonigal says.

“But there’s something about getting your heart rate up a little bit and using your muscles that creates that brain state that makes you more willing to trust others — that enhances the pleasure you get from interacting with others that often makes you this more social version of yourself,” she says.

3) Heal depression

In a section on “green exercise,” McGonigal discusses the positive shifts in mood and outlook reported by those who exercise in nature.

“It actually alters what’s happening in your brain in a way that looks really similar to meditation,” she says. “People report feeling connected to all of life… and they feel more hopeful about life itself.”

Indeed, an Austrian study McGonigal cites found that among people who had previously attempted suicide, the addition of mountain hiking to their standard medical treatment reduced suicidal thinking and hopelessness. Similarly, a South Korean study showed that when forest walks were added to the treatment of middle-aged adults with depression, they moved into remission at a rate three times faster than those who did indoor therapy only.

4) Reveal hidden strength

Even for those who don’t struggle with mental or physical illness, adopting a regular exercise routine can provide powerful transformation. McGonigal shares stories of several women who overcame limiting beliefs through exercise to reveal a new, more powerful self.

“If there is a voice in your head saying, ‘You’re too old, too awkward, too big, too broken, too weak,’ physical sensations from movement can provide a compelling counterargument,” McGonigal writes. “Even deeply held belief about ourselves can be challenged by direct, physical experiences, as new sensations overtake old memories and stories.”

5) A boost for the brain

McGonigal offers insights drawn from research into ultra-endurance athletes and how they survive mentally and physically grueling events designed to last six or more hours.

When researchers at the Berlin-based Center for Space Medicine and Extreme Environments measured the blood of ultra-endurance athletes, they found high levels a family of proteins called myokines, known to help the body burn fat as fuel, to act as natural antidepressants and to provide a possible shield against cognitive decline.

But as she reports, you don’t need to be a super-athlete to experience the benefits of myokines. McGonigal cites a 2018 study that identified 35 of these proteins released by the quadriceps muscles during just one hour of bike riding.

Emerging research, she says, suggests that when exercised, your muscles become “basically a pharmacy for your physical and mental health.”

“If you are willing to move,” she writes, “your muscles will give you hope. Your brain will orchestrate pleasure. And your entire physiology will adjust to help you find the energy, purpose and courage you need to keep going.”