Healthy Byte: Get to Know Your Fats

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ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Over the last few years we’ve changed our attitude on one major food group in particular: fat. Fat is no longer the main enemy to a healthy body and mind (that’s sugar, in case you hadn’t guessed!).

But not all fat is created equal. Eating good fats is great, having a healthy balance of body fat is too (especially for women) but there’s no getting around it – some fats are still bad for us, and putting on too much of the wrong type of body fat can play havoc with our health.

We asked itsu’s collaborating nutritionist, Alix Woods, what different types of fat our body has, which are healthy and which we could stand to lose.

THE FACTS

“We have four main types fat in our bodies,” explains Alix. “Each has its own molecular structure and health implication, so knowing which is which and what they do can help us manage our health better.”

Alix compares body fat to an organ, like the heart, lungs and skin. “It stores energy and manages hormones, especially metabolism, meaning that the types of body fat you already have affect how much more you store, and where.”

Alix goes on to lay out the main types: brown, beige, white subcutaneous and white visceral fat.

“In general, darker fats are the ‘good kind’, while light, or ‘white’ fats are what accumulate in the body when your diet and lifestyle aren’t right for you, and cause longer term health issues.”

1. Brown fat

This is the ‘good’ fat which provides cellular energy. It actually feeds on droplets from the white fat, so helps keep your weight down.

Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), is responsible for our core temperature and is found in the back of the neck and chest areas.

As well as being a ‘fat burning’ fat, it may also help keep diabetes away.

The good news is that we can increase the healthy brown fat by eating healthily, taking the right supplements and making lifestyle changes. And other elements, such as being exposed to cold temperatures stimulates the transformation of white fat to brown fat.

2. Beige fat

This is a combination of white and brown fat and is found along the spine and collarbone.

With exercise, the hormone, irisin is released, which converts white fat to beige fat. Certain foods, in particular grapes, can also help with this ‘browning’ process.

3. White subcutaneous fat

This stores calories and produces adiponectin, another hormone, which helps the liver and muscles to manage insulin. (Insulin is the glucose or sugar-controlling hormone that’s super important for our energy levels.) It keeps blood sugar stable and keeps white fat stores in check.

A problem arises when there is so much of this white fat (and subsequently adiponectin secretion) that the metabolism slows down. When this happens, we start to gain excess weight – especially around the hip, thigh and tummy area – which is often the most difficult to lose.

4. Subcutaneous fat (SF)

This is just under the skin, and is the fat that’s measured to determine body fat percentage. It’s found all over the body, but particularly on the back of arms, thighs and bums.

You want to avoid excess SF around the belly to prevent long term health risks like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

This fat also produces oestrogen hormones in both sexes, and if there is excess oestrogen it becomes the dominant hormone, causing toxic weight gain that increases the risk of obesity, CVD disease, diabetes and cancer.

5. Visceral fat

This is the more ‘dangerous’ deep fat found around abdominal organs. It may feature as a ‘big belly’, or more seriously as an enlarged liver – caused by the blood draining from the visceral fat around the organs, getting dumped there.

This causes an increase in overall blood cholesterol, along with inflammatory chemicals that may lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

This is why abdominal fat – fat around your middle – is a worrying sight of excess visceral fat in your body. However, in healthy proportions, it’s an essential fat for overall health, to cushion and protect our organs and help keep our core temperature stable.

SO HOW DO WE LOSE THE BAD FAT?

“The life threatening, unhealthy ‘deep’ organ or visceral fat (such as belly fat) is lost first when you go on a diet that reduces your calories to below your daily requirement and your body starts to make energy from the fat it has stored,” Alix explains.

“SF is more challenging to lose, and in excess it may be seen as unattractive. The body keeps it in reserve in case of any emergencies, like starvation or for recovery. It’s an ancient, evolutionary tactic, but of course in our modern lives this rarely, if ever, happens.

“Good bouts of exercise and staying on a diet will eventually lead to fat loss in all areas of the body,” the nutritionist advises. “This is because the body senses the reduction in calories and moves the fat around for energy, which encourages overall weight loss.”

Alix also notes that “a general rule with weight loss is the less weight you have around your tummy, the sooner the more stubborn subcutaneous fat stores will ‘melt’ away. So seeing a reduction in that area is the first step.”

ALPHA AND BETA

“As well as types of fat storage, the body also has two fat receptors – Alpha and Beta,” the nutritionist explains. “They work in opposition to each other as Alpha receptors decrease fat burning and blood flow while Beta receptors increase the body’s ability to burn fat and increases blood flow through fat cells. The ratio of these in your body will determine how easy or hard it is for you to lose weight – meaning it’s a totally different process for everyone.

“The more Alpha receptors, the more challenging it is to burn fat and the reverse for Beta receptors,” Alix adds.

The bad news is the amount of receptors is determined at birth and research has found that people with Alpha fat receptors find it difficult to lose weight. “The only solution to this is to maintain healthy diet and exercise regularly,” the expert notes.

HOW TO EAT TO SHIFT YOUR BAD FAT

“Regardless of the location of fat, there are a few good habits to get into to keep your Beta weight-busting receptors ‘on’ and lose the bad fat your body doesn’t need,” says Alix. These are:

1. Eating whole grains and lean proteins, especially lower Glycemic Index fruits and vegetables. I may at times avoid fruit altogether to keep all sugars as low as possible (but make sure you’re getting plenty of veggies for your vitamin and mineral needs.)

2. Removing all white refined carbohydrates and replace with complex whole ‘browner’ grains.

3. Doing a 30-45 minute work out, three time per week.

4. Eating little and often. Have smaller protein-packed snacks, totalling 5-6 little, regular meals a day.

5. Doing two sessions of resistance (weight) training on your off workout days.

6. And an extreme option, when not exercising intensely is doing a detox. On these days drink lots of water and herbal teas and feast on steamed vegetables.

Healthy Byte: Man Boobs

All Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Man boobs can creep up on anyone. Although usually a direct result of carrying excess body fat, they can also happen when your testosterone levels dip too low and your estrogen levels get too high, a medical condition called gynecomastia. That’s why even lean guys can get big breasts. In most cases, though, these two causes aren’t mutually exclusive. “Excess adipose fat produces aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to the female hormone estradiol, which can cause man boobs to form,” says Pete McCall, a personal trainer and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.

Regardless of why you have man boobs, the best way to get rid of them is through exercise and other lifestyle changes — not with Low-T drugs. “One reason we see so many ads for testosterone-replacement gels and creams is it’s much easier to use one of these products than to do the work,” says McCall. But given all of the negative health effects linked to Low T drugs — namely increased risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke — try these eight natural solutions instead.

Get moving.

If you’re not currently getting intense cardiovascular exercise at least three days a week, that’s the very first thing you must change. Once you’ve committed to regular running, cycling, or any other type of cardio, McCall says you should start losing flab all over, which will also help shrink your doughy chest.

Ramp up your workouts.

If you’re already hitting the gym yet you’re still sporting boobs, crank up the intensity of your workouts. “So many guys get too busy and only go to the gym just a few days a week, doing the same routine every time without really pushing themselves,” McCall says. “You need to go hard — to the point of fatigue, to where you’re out of breath. That will signal to your body that it needs to produce more testosterone to help repair muscles.” Generating more testosterone, in turn, will get your hormonal balance back where it should be to help zap those man boobs. McCall recommends interval training such as alternating sprinting and jogging on the treadmill or taking a challenging cycling class.

Hit the pool.

Any kind of intense cardio can help, but swimming can be particularly good for guys with man boobs because it’s more of a total-body workout than, say, using the StairMaster. “Any time you can get all of your muscle mass involved with an exercise, the total amount of energy you burn goes way up,” McCall explains. He says the breast stroke and freestyle can be especially effective.

Lift more, lift longer.

McCall says strength training also generates testosterone to help with your boob situation. If you already lift, chances are you’re not hoisting heavy enough weights or going until you can’t possibly do one more rep. “Break out of your normal routine by increasing the amount of weight you lift each time and not stopping until you’re fatigued,” McCall says. “This will cause more damage to your muscles and tell your body it needs more testosterone to help with repair.”

Get off the bench.

Rather than bench presses or other lifting exercises for which you lay or sit down, McCall recommends standing workouts with heavier weights, such as barbell squats, deadlifts, and bent-over barbell rows. When you stand, you recruit more muscles throughout your body to help hold you up, which will produce more testosterone. McCall says this is the main reason why CrossFit devotees are so ripped.

Do pushups.

McCall also suggests push-ups for whittling away man boobs because they too involve many muscles and require you to support your own body weight. He says using a TRX or other suspension device to do these will engage even more chest muscles than doing push-ups on the floor. Change up your grip pattern — a wider grip will target more of your chest fibers while a narrower grip will hit the triceps and shoulders.

Try a standing cable fly.

This exercise targets the pectoral muscles specifically. Stretch out your arms to either side, grab the stirrups or handles on a cable, bend forward slightly, and squeeze your hands together toward the middle of your chest. You can also try an alternate-arm cable fly. “Hold your right arm straight out in front of you and slowly draw your left arm out to the side and back to the middle, then switch arms,” says McCall. “Be sure to go slow with each movement because that’ll keep the muscle under tension for longer and signal more repair to that site.”

Get more sleep.

“We produce testosterone when we sleep, so if you’re consistently stressed out and getting only five hours, like many men do, your body won’t make enough testosterone,” McCall says. Make sure you’re taking time to de-stress in the evenings, minding your booze intake, and laying off the caffeine after noon so you can get ample good-quality slumber.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Body Fat Whispering to the Brain … And it’s Not Good

2015 9-11

The concept of stress eating is nothing new: When you’re frazzled, you’re more likely to reach for a pint of ice cream instead of an apple.

But scientists have discovered that there’s more at play than just nerves. New research published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that your body fat sends signals to your brain that affect the way it deals with metabolism and stress — and that may even influence how much stress eating you do.

Researchers found that a glucocorticoid receptor (which regulates genes controlling your body’s stress response, among other things) in fat tissue directs the brain to regulate its energy balance, helping to cope with stress.

So, essentially, your body fat is talking to your brain about how stressed you are. That could have a big impact on your body.

Here’s why: Those signals regulate the part of your neuroendocrine system that controls your reaction to stress, as well as many of your body’s other functions, including digestion, mood, sexuality, energy storage, and your immune system. As a result, your body fat can affect you in many important ways, including your response to stress.

Study co-author James Herman, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, tells Yahoo Health that it’s possible that excess body fat can mess with that stress signaling, causing you to eat more.

It can be a vicious cycle, too. Herman notes that weight gain can give people a negative body image, which is a psychological stressor. And when extra body fat and stress are combined, your body may feel even more stressed out — and once again return to stress eating.

Herman says that more research is needed before scientists know exactly how this signaling process works, but he points out that the new research shows that stress isn’t just in our heads: “These findings tell us that stress is a whole-body problem.”

Unfortunately, researchers aren’t sure if losing weight can break the cycle. “Fat cells expand and shrink, and stress hormones are part of the expansion process,” Herman explains. But it isn’t yet clear if your stress hormones reduce as you lose weight.

While stress eating can lead to weight gain and obesity, it has a useful role — at least, historically speaking. “From the evolutionary perspective, the stress response is designed to increase energetic resources to meet or anticipate a physiological challenge,” says Herman.

When our brains get the message that we’re stressed, it views it as an emergency and signals the body that we need more food to cope with the stress.

But since most of our modern-day stressors are more in the realm of work deadlines and less for hunting woolly mammoths, we’re often not using that extra food from stress eating. As a result, we end up gaining weight and feeling even more stressed out.

Herman acknowledges that stress eating is an issue for a lot of people, and says awareness of this fat-brain communication could help. But he says the key to beating stress eating (and subsequent weight gain) is just to reduce your overall stress levels.

Did you hear that, fat cells?

Originally Posted HERE

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