Healthy Byte: Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat

Originally Posted HERE

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It’s the staggering truth behind The Biggest Loser: On average, many of the contestants gained back most of the weight they lost on the show. Four were heavier than they were before going on TV, according to a 2016 National Institute of Health (NIH) study. It’s enough to make anyone give up those Crossfit classes in favor of a pack of cake rolls, but there’s a silver lining to that finding — it’s prompted all kinds of research and deeper analysis into major diet trends to find out what really works.

Increasingly, researchers and doctors are finding that the real key to weight loss isn’t low-carb or low-fat; it’s taking a much more personalized approach.

“Some people on a diet program lose 60 pounds and keep it off for two years, and other people follow the same program religiously, and they gain 5 pounds,” weight-loss researcher and Harvard cardiovascular disease prevention professor Frank Sacks toldTime in its June 5 cover story.

The Biggest Loser
NBC

For decades, we’ve followed a basic principle: Work out more, eat fewer calories, and the pounds will melt off. But, as Sacks’s example shows, the end result can vary widely from person to person, and — as The Biggest Loser study showed — it doesn’t mean you’ll keep the weight off, even if you maintain smaller portions later.

Ask Yourself This First.

The biggest thing, it seems, is testing out each method for a few months and noting how you feel during the diet. Is it a lifestyle that wears away at you? Are you always a little hangry? Those are warning signs.

“You need a plan that satisfies hunger,” iDiet founder and Tufts University nutrition professor Susan Roberts told Time. “Most diets fail because hunger erodes willpower.”

<p>This means you should <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/body/healthy-eating/g3123/food-cravings/" target="_blank" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link">tune into hunger/fullness cues</a> to determine whether you <i data-redactor-tag="i">reallllly</i> want that second chocolate chip cookie or not, and not just rely on what other people around you are eating or <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/body/health-fitness/news/a46001/nickelodeon-bad-kids-health-new-study/" target="_blank" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link">seductive marketing</a>. "Are you really hungry? Ask yourself whether a celery stick or apple sounds delicious — if not, you're probably not hungry," says <a href="http://plantbaseddietitian.com/" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link" target="_blank">Julieanna Hever</a>, R.D., author of <i data-redactor-tag="i"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Vegiterranean-Diet-Mediterranean-Plan/dp/0738217891?tag=bm01f-20&amp;ascsubtag=redbook.gallery.3565" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link" target="_blank">The Vegiterranean Diet</a></i>.</p>

But Really, Is Low-Carb Better For Me?

Though some research shows low-carb diets have a slight edge over low-fat diets, you see on both sides of the spectrum widely varying results. In a 609-person study that divided people into both diet plans — “low-carb” being about 30 percent carbs and 45 percent fat, and “low-fat” being one with 29 percent fat and 48 percent carbs — each lost about the same amount. Neither group stood out for having a faster metabolism or more fat loss in the end. Even hypotheses that people who have a greater resistance to insulin would perform better on a low-carb diet didn’t hold true here, the Washington Post reported.

“YOU NEED A PLAN THAT SATISFIES HUNGER. MOST DIETS FAIL BECAUSE HUNGER ERODES WILLPOWER.”

What really worked, in this study, was changing your relationship with food. This, too, echoed Roberts’ statement. Instead of focusing on the ways you’re deprived — fewer calories, less fat, fewer carbs — paying greater attention to how you feel as you eat healthy may be key.

“Maybe if you just say ‘Eat as much as you want until you’re satiated, but eat this way until you’re satiated’ … I’d really like to look into that,” said nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner.

Here’s What You Can Learn From ‘The Biggest Loser.’

Okay, here’s where the news gets suckier: Remember those Biggest Losercontestants who gained weight? As the pounds crept back on, their metabolism didn’t speed back up. It stayed low, the NIH study found, burning about 700 fewer calories per day than it did when they started their weight loss journey.

It’s an unfortunate reality — and one to be aware of, because although The Biggest Loser‘s stars lose weight dramatically fast, Time found that even people who lose just a couple pounds a week can struggle with a sluggish metabolism. But there is a way to fight back. The National Weight Control Registry’s study of 10,000 people who’ve kept pounds off found a few things in common, if not a particular diet or meal plan:

  • They eat breakfast daily.
  • They weigh themselves once a week.
  • They watch less than 10 hours of TV a week.
  • They exercise about an hour a day (with walking the most popular method).

It’s a straightforward approach that sounds a lot like how the founders of Georgetown Cupcake, Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis Berman, lost a combined 100 pounds and kept it off for years. In the end, you just have to find what works for you — what you can comfortably tolerate — and stick to it, it seems.

Healthy Byte: Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Originally Posted HERE

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Why eat anti-inflammatory foods?

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and disease — like when you have swelling and redness around a wound or twisted joint, or fever while your immune system battles an illness. In the short run, inflammation can be helpful. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of conditions, and some evidence indicates lifestyle — including what we eat — may contribute to inflammation. “The role of chronic inflammation in various diseases — obesity, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, certain cancers — is fairly well-accepted in the scientific community,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, an assistant professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Naturally, people are looking towards dietary changes to reduce inflammation and promote overall health and immunity.”

Don’t exclude whole groups of foods — or limit yourself to just a few.

Some fad diets may claim to be anti-inflammatory. But experts say eating patterns with the most science behind them, like the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (the acronym stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension), are your top choices for an anti-inflammatory diet. They include a broad range of proven-healthy foods you probably have been told to eat since you were young, which research indicates are also anti-inflammatory foods. (Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet, based on the Mediterranean diet, with a few added elements like anti-inflammatory green tea, is also OK — but expert panelists convened by U.S. News didn’t rank the diet nearly as highly as the Mediterranean or DASH diets.) Here are some anti-inflammatory foods — as well as some foods that may contribute to inflammation:

Antioxidant-infused fruits and vegetables

Foods generally considered anti-inflammatory have been proven to be healthy — for any number of reasons. Case in point: fruits and veggies. We know from reams of research that they’re good for us, even if it’s still not clear to what extent anti-inflammatory properties may deserve credit. To hedge your bets, choose colorful fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants:

— For flavonols, try broccoli, kale and berries.

— For beta carotene, consider red and orange peppers.

— Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits and winter squash.

The bottom line: It’s hard to go wrong with fruits or veggies, including tomatoes, which are sometimes cut from so-called anti-inflammatory diets despite being rich in antioxidants, and avocados, a great plant-based anti-inflammatory source of fat.

Whole grains

In addition to lots of fruits and vegetables, diets considered to be anti-inflammatory are usually rich in whole grains, such as wheat, oats and quinoa, Linsenmeyer notes. These and other whole grains like brown rice and barley are a great source of fiber, as are fruits and vegetables — especially raspberries, apples, peas and broccoli. The dietary inflammatory index, a review of research on foods that are anti-inflammatory and those that seem to promote inflammation, puts fiber squarely in the first camp.

Beans

Beans are another fiber-rich food firmly in the category of lean proteins. Dietary experts like Tamara Randall, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, say these should be considered as part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. Black, kidney, pinto and other beans are a great complement to any diet.

Omega-3-packed fatty fish like salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids not only battle inflammation, they’re also good for brain health. Foods high in omega-3 include fish, nuts (especially walnuts) and plant oils like flaxseed oil. However, the two most beneficial forms of omega-3 — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — come mainly from fish. The best sources for omega-3s are fatty seafoods, which include salmon, albacore tuna and shellfish. Experts generally recommend having fish twice per week, or around 200 to 500 milligrams of EPA or DHA total. Talk with a doctor about whether supplementation is recommended if you don’t eat fish.

Walnuts and other nuts

Another food that’s anti-inflammatory and high in a different form of omega-3 fatty acids (called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) is walnuts. In fact, just a small handful, or one ounce, of English walnuts contains more than 2 1/2 grams of ALA. While nuts in general are a healthful feature of anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet, walnuts lead the pack in omega-3 content. Researchers studying the effects of eating walnuts “have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis,” notes the Arthritis Foundation, adding that studies suggest monounsaturated fats in an almond-rich diet also lower some markers of inflammation, including CRP.

Oils

Featured in the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a source of healthy fat that’s also anti-inflammatory, Randall notes. Alternatively, a person wishing to eat an anti-inflammatory diet may sparingly use safflower or sunflower oil as well, she suggests. Use oils in moderation, like a tablespoon for cooking or as dressing for a salad. Flaxseed oil, which contains 7 grams of ALA per tablespoon, is another great anti-inflammatory option.

Herbs and spices

In addition to keeping dishes flavorful, herbs and spices are also considered part of a dynamic anti-inflammatory diet. Linsenmeyer especially recommends turmeric and ginger, which many studies find to be anti-inflammatory. Other herbs and spices recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties include cinnamon, cumin, chili peppers, garlic, clove, rosemary, sage and oregano, she says.

Limit sugar.

A diet that’s high in sugar is more inflammatory, says Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University and a U.S. News contributor. Still, Salge Blake, like many dietary experts, cautions against trying to cut things entirely out of the diet. Besides being difficult to sustain and usually unnecessary, extreme dietary changes or restrictions can lead to disordered eating. That said, limiting cakes, cookies and soda — what have become everyday indulgences for many — is key to strike a balance. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to about 12 teaspoons (for a 2,000 calorie diet) per day. By comparison, the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, and many have much more than that.

Limit refined carbohydrates.

Go easy on refined carbs such as white bread and crackers, which may also contribute to inflammation. In addition, sweets like doughnuts and pastries — with refined carbs and lots of refined sugar — are a double whammy if you’re trying to avoid inflammatory foods. If you’re a pasta fan, consider a whole-grain pasta over white, refined pasta. Generally speaking, whole foods are best — and highly processed, carb-heavy foods should be limited.

Avoid processed meat and red meat high in saturated fat.

An added benefit of consuming healthy fats is that you’re crowding out — or limiting — unhealthy ones in your diet that may be inflammatory, such as fatty red meats and processed meat like hot dogs and bacon. “So you’re eating a fish — a source that is very low in saturated fat and may be displacing in your diet a protein source that’s very high in saturated fat,” Salge Blake says. If you’re craving meat, look for lean proteins like poultry or leaner cuts of grass-fed beef, which may also be a good source of omega-3s.

Avoid trans fats.

Due to public health concerns, factory-made trans fats — aka partially hydrogenated oil — are mostly gone from foods today. Still, because of the risk they pose — like raising “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and the role they play in inflammation — it’s still worth double-checking food labels to make sure they don’t sneak into your diet. Trans fats are sometimes still included in processed baked goods and fried foods — essentially fare you’ll want to avoid or limit.

Alcohol in moderation and everything in context

Having a glass of wine with dinner isn’t discouraged with diets like the Mediterranean. But drinking in excess can increase inflammation, Salge Blake says. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines suggest having no more than one drink per day for women and two daily for men.) Ultimately, if you’re trying to reduce inflammation and improve your health through diet and lifestyle, the point is to consider everything you eat and drink. Look at the big picture of your lifestyle. “You can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to have salmon two meals a week, and then I’m going to smoke and take in excess alcohol, be overweight and (not) eat any fruits and vegetables,” Salge Blake stresses. “That’s not going to work.”

What to eat on an anti-inflammatory diet

— Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

— Whole grains.

— Beans.

— Salmon and other fatty fish.

— Walnuts.

— Olive oil and flaxseed oil.

— Herbs and spices, including turmeric and ginger.

Healthy Byte: Protein, the Fountain of Youth

Originally Posted HERE

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(Reuters Health) – Older adults who cut back on the amount of vegetable protein in their diets may be more likely to experience age-related health problems than their peers who increase the amount of plant protein they eat, a Spanish study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 1,951 people aged 60 and older who completed dietary surveys and questionnaires to detect four types of unhealthy aging: functional impairments; reduced vitality; mental health issues; and chronic medical problems or use of health services. Participants provided this information in three waves: from 2008-2010, in 2012 and again in 2017.

Overall, study participants got an average 12% of their calories from animal protein, including meat and dairy, and about 6% from vegetable protein, including sources such as legumes, nuts, grains, root vegetables and green plants.

Compared to people who decreased vegetable protein intake by more than 2% between the first wave and 2012, those who increased their consumption of vegetable protein by more than 2% developed fewer deficits associated with unhealthy aging during the study.

“There is growing evidence supporting a beneficial effect of higher intakes of total protein on muscle mass and strength, physical functioning, hip fracture and frailty,” said Esther Lopez-Garcia, senior author of the study and a researcher at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

The study offers fresh evidence that the type of protein matters, too.

“If you eat more plant-based sources of proteins, you are also getting a lot of micronutrients and healthy fats, and fiber that help improve your health,” Lopez-Garcia said by email. “On the other hand, if you consume animal sources of proteins full of saturated and trans fats, and other substances added during the processing (mostly salt and nitrites), you are getting all the detrimental effects of these substances.”

At the start of the study, people got about 5.2% of their calories from meat, 3.3% from dairy, 3% from refined grains and 2.8% from fish. Participants got less than 1% of their calories from legumes, eggs, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, tubers or nuts.

Changes in animal protein consumption during the study didn’t appear to influence the potential for people to show more signs of unhealthy aging by the end of the study, researchers report in the American Journal of Medicine.

But adding more vegetable protein was linked to fewer deficits by the end of the study.

“Since substitution of plant protein for animal protein has been associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, it is relevant to understand which source of protein may be more beneficial for a healthy aging,” Lopez-Garcia said.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how eating more plant proteins may stall unhealthy aging. It also wasn’t able to determine which types of vegetable proteins might be best from an aging perspective.

One limitation of the study is that many participants dropped out before the end. It’s also possible that results from this study of older adults might not apply to younger people.

“While high protein intake might not be preferable for middle-aged adults, it has been shown that high level of protein intake is protective among those aged 66 years and older,” said Yian Gu, a neurology researcher at Columbia University in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It is important to interpret scientific findings on protein intake based on age groups, ” Gu said by email. “The current study results are consistent with findings in the elderlies, with further information from innovative analyses of animal and plant based proteins separately.”

The sources of protein also matter, Lopez-Garcia said.

Good sources of plant-based protein include lentils, beans, peas, soybeans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like teff, wheat, quinoa, rice, oats, and buckwheat, Lopez Garcia advised.

Healthy options for animal protein can include poultry, seafood, eggs, as well as dairy in moderation, Lopez-Garcia advised. Protein sources to reduce or limit include red and processed meat.

Healthy Byte:

Originally Posted HERE

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(Reuters Health) – People who start fasting every other day may lose more weight than they would if they stuck to their usual eating habits, a small study suggests.

The 60 healthy people in the four-week study were not overweight. Researchers randomly assigned them to either stick to their usual eating habits or switch to alternate day fasting, with 12 hours of unrestricted food followed by 36 hours of no food.

With alternate-day fasting, people reduced weekly calories by 37% on average and shed an average of 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds). That compares with an average calorie reduction of 8.2% and an average weight loss of 0.2 kilograms (0.44 pounds) without this diet.

“We do not recommend this as a general nutrition scheme for everybody, because this is a harsh intervention of which we do not know the long-term effects,” said Frank Madeo, senior author of the study and a researcher at the University of Graz in Austria.

“We feel that it is a good regime for some months for obese people to cut weight,” Madeo said by email.

To ensure that people assigned to alternate day fasting didn’t eat on fasting days, researchers asked them to wear continuous glucose monitors. Spikes in blood glucose levels might mean people had a snack. Researchers also asked participants to fill in food diaries documenting their fasting days.

After 4 weeks of alternate day fasting, people had more lean muscle and less body fat, lower cholesterol levels and improved heart health – all things that can happen with a wide variety of exercise and nutrition programs.

To get a sense of the safety of alternate day fasting, researchers looked at a separate group of 30 people who had been eating this way for at least 6 months, comparing them to healthy people who had not been fasting.

They didn’t find any meaningful negative side effects.

One limitation of the study is that researchers didn’t test the diet in people who needed to lose weight. They also didn’t have any long-term safety data, and many health problems associated with extreme dieting like malnutrition and brittle bones can take much longer than 6 months to develop.

“The ‘starvation mode’ the body goes into during alternate day fasting may have some benefits,” said Susan Roberts, a senior scientist at the USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts University who wasn’t involved in the study.

For example, fasting can improve the body’s ability to use the hormone insulin to transform sugars into energy, a process that can help reduce blood sugar and prevent diabetes, Roberts said by email.

But there isn’t enough safety information about alternate day fasting to recommend it as a regular way of eating to maintain a healthy weight or for weight loss, Roberts said.

“My preferred option to be honest is not to recommend alternate day fasting per se but to use occasional daily fasting as a toolbox option that some people may find helpful,” Roberts said. “A small percentage of people wanting to lose weight may find it helpful, but we don’t yet know the long-term safety to recommend it with comfort.”

Healthy Byte: Nutrition Choices & Alzheimer

Originally Posted HERE

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Max Lugavere was in denial when he saw his mother, Kathy, who was just 56-years-old, slowly slipping away.

It was 2009 that he first noticed she was moving slower, becoming stiff and would lose her thought in the middle of a conversation.

“She was the kind of person anybody would describe as a sharp-witted, high performer,” Max tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, “and it suddenly seemed like she had the brain of an 80-year-old.”

He and two younger brothers brushed it off because “she was so young” and didn’t think anything could be seriously wrong until they took a family trip to Miami.

“She couldn’t tell us what year it was, and she started to cry. It was like a record screeching to a halt, and I knew something was seriously wrong,” says Max, now 37, who immediately became her biggest advocate and went to dozens of doctors appointments with her.

Kathy was given the news in 2011 that they had dreaded from the beginning: she was diagnosed with the rare Lewy Body Dementia.

“I was watching the person who I loved more than anything in the world start to decline,” says Max, a Los Angeles-based science and health journalist. “I just became insanely motivated­ — just fixated on trying to figure out why.”

After her death in December 2018, his “entire world turned upside down,” but he continued to try to understand why and how why Kathy got dementia so young.

Max Lugavere with his mother Kathy | Courtesy Max Lugavere

Max Lugavere with his mother Kathy | Courtesy Max Lugavere

Discovering that Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, often begins decades before the first symptoms show, he learned there are ways to help prevent it from ever happening.

“We can eat in a way that supplies our brain with the raw materials it requires to create healthy new brain cells, which we now know the adult brain can do up until death,” says Max, who published in March 2018 his bestselling book Genius Foods (written with Paul Grewal, M.D.). “I discovered that diet is incredibly important and so is your lifestyle.”

Foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein and dark leafy greens are crucial and others agree with his findings.

“He is intelligently helping us understand that there are things you can do with diet and lifestyle that slow cognitive decline,” says Dr. Ellen Vora, a holistic psychiatrist. “These diet changes certainly help with dementia, but they’re also going to help with many other things like heart disease, cancer prevention and mental health.”

He’s since launched a podcast called The Genius Life and is working on a second book with the same title coming out in 2020.

“Losing my mom was the biggest tragedy of my life,” says Lugavere, “but I’ve been compelled since day one to turn it into something that makes it a little less painful. I want to help as many people as I possibly can.”

Healthy Byte: Twelve Tips to Stop Over Eating

Originally Posted HERE

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We all have a different threshold for how much is too much, and the definition of overeating can vary depending on the situation. For instance, what you eat for dinner one day may be a normal amount for you, but it can seem like overkill if you also had a very large lunch or did a lot of snacking between meals. In general, “overeating can be defined as consuming more food than the body can handle comfortably in one sitting, or consuming more calories than the body needs to function optimally on a daily basis,” says Eudene Harry, M.D., physician and author of three books including Be Iconic. “This can leave us feeling bloated with a multitude of digestive symptoms and lead to weight gain.”

“I call overeating being “regretfull” — a combo of regret and full,” says Susan Albers, Psy.D., psychologist, best-selling author of eight books, including the forthcoming Hanger Management. “We tend to feel a lot of regret when we eat past the point of being satisfied.” There are number of physical and emotional factors that can lead us to that point. Being tired, stressed, hangry, unfocused and even eating certain foods can cause us to overeat. The trick is to resolve those issues and adopt strategies to avoid overeating on the regular. Thankfully, with the help of Dr. Harry, Albers, and Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., registered dietitian nutritionist and creator of the 2B Mindset, we’ve got plenty of tricks up our sleeve for you to use.

Tips on to stop overeating:

  • Clean out your cupboards. First things first: We all have those foods that we can get enough of, whether that’s chips, pasta, candy, or ice cream. “Don’t keep food around your house or office that leads to overeating,” says Muhlstein. “Out of sight, out of mind, is one of the easiest ways to control this issue.
  • Get more shuteye. Sleep improves nearly every system in our body, and when we don’t get enough, our body doesn’t function efficiently. “Studies consistently show that when a person sleeps less than the recommended 7 to 8 hours per night, she may be more likely to feel hungrier the next day and crave and consume higher calorie and carbohydrate-rich foods,” says Mulstein.
  • Stay ahead of hanger. You never want to let yourself get so hungry that you reach for whatever’s nearby. “Keep high-protein snacks handy,” says Albers. “Cheese sticks, turkey cold cuts rolled up, hummus, roasted chickpeas, nuts, energy balls and protein smoothies are some of my go-tos.” Along those same lines, Muhlstein also recommends Greek yogurts and snackable veggies like baby carrots and cut up cucumbers.
  • Check in with yourself. “When you feel yourself start to get hungry, ask yourself how hungry are you, really?” advises Albers. “Whether you’re a little bit hungry, moderately hungry, or very hungry, this is going to let you pick the right eating intervention — just a bite, a snack, or a meal.”
  • Drink water. “We commonly confuse hunger for thirst,” says Muhlstein. “To put it in perspective, we can’t live three days without water, but we can live three weeks without food.” She advises always drinking 16 ounces of water before you take your first bite of food. “It will drastically improve your ability to control your hunger,” she says. Carry a water bottle with you to make sure you’re hydrated even when you’re on-the-go.
  • Eat mindfully. “Turn off the television, put down your phone and really focus on your food,” says Dr. Harry. “Eating mindfully allows you to appreciate all the complexities and nuances of the food in front of you.” Not only will you be more aware of how much you’re consuming, she says, you’ll often notice a flavor explosion in the first few bites of your meal that gradually decreases and becomes less satisfying.
  • Include protein and fiber in your meal. These two nutrients may help you feel fuller faster, according to research. They also enable your body to better regulate swings in your glucose levels that may come with eating carbohydrates. Dr. Harry suggests working with your physician or nutritionist to assess the right amount of protein for your needs.
  • Use a smaller plate. Some studies have found we eat more when our plates are larger, while others suggest this isn’t always the case — but it can’t hurt to test it out for yourself. “Having a smaller plate that is filled to the rim can be a visual feast for the eyes,” says Dr. Harry.
  • Make your first bite a veggie. “If you’re at a party and choose the sliced veggies and dip before the cheese and crackers, you may be more likely to make smarter choices throughout the night,” says Muhlstein. It’s definitely worth a try!
  • Eat slowly. “When we slow down and chew food thoroughly, it starts the digestive process that leads to nutrients being released in the stomach,” says Dr. Harry. “This tells the stomach to make and release hormones that let the brain know it’s full so it can turn off your hunger signal. Some research estimates that this process can take 20 minutes.” For these reasons, Albers recommends cutting your bites into smaller pieces, adding an extra three chews to each bite and consciously eating at a slower pace than the people you’re with.
  • Smile between bites. No, seriously. “This brief pause gives you just a moment to ask yourself if you really want the next bite or if you should stop right there,” says Albers. “Also, a smile triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, which helps reduce emotional eating.”
  • Plan an intermission. Take a break halfway through your meal to gauge your hunger level. “Even a small pause gives your food time to digest and register in your brain that you have eaten,” Albers points out. Everything you can do to help your brain accurately judge how much you’ve consumed can help you avoid overeating.

Remember, beating yourself up after we have an episode of overeating is not helpful. “Drop the inner critic and get curious about your overeating,” suggests Albers. “Ask yourself a series of questions like what lead to the overeating right now? What would I do differently next time? What are some steps that would have prevented the overeating?” This turns the situation into a teachable moment that you can use to avoid overeating in the future.

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: The Hype of Fads

With the rise of standing desks, office workers hope to brush off the health risks linked to prolonged sitting, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and early death. But they might do well to walk calories off instead, a new study suggests.

In one of the few studies to carefully count the calories people burn while sitting at a desk, standing, or taking a leisurely stroll, researchers found little difference between being plopped down or upright. Standing for an hour might burn off an extra nine calories or so, about the amount in a single gummy bear. Slow walking, on the other hand, incinerated 2.4 to 2.7-fold more calories than standing or sitting, respectively. If office workers fit in an hour of strolling throughout each day—tallying trips to the bathroom, walks to the printer, or strides on a treadmill desk—they could easily burn through an extra 130 calories. That’s a little more than what previous research suggests could help people keep pounds off, the authors report in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

“If you’re looking for weight control or just solely at the energy expenditure, standing isn’t that much more beneficial than sitting,” Seth Creasy, an exercise physiologist at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study, told Ars. Of course, calorie burning isn’t the only reason people might choose a standing desk. Being upright could be beneficial for productivity or posture, Creasy said. However, more research is needed to know if those benefits are real because the studies that have been done so far have come up with mixed or inconclusive results.

For energy use, though, the literature is getting pretty clear. In past studies looking into the differences between standing and sitting, researchers found small changes in calorie burningsimilar to those Creasy and his colleagues found. With their new study, they tried to nail those calories down for good and look at more than one single activity at a time. No one gets to the office and sits, stands, or walks for eight hours straight, Creasy explained. People switch positions, take breaks, and move around, he said.

To see if there were any effects of those shifts, Creasy and colleagues set up an experiment with activity combinations. With a total of 74 healthy volunteers, the researchers randomly assigned 18 to sit at a desk with a computer for 15 minutes then stand without fidgeting for 15 minutes. Another 18 participants sat and watched television for 15 minutes and then walked. Twenty started with slow walking—at a self-selected speed of around two and half miles per hour—and then sat and watched TV. And the last 18 stood and then sat at a desk with a computer.

During each 30-minute activity combination, the researchers had the participants fitted with face masks, which basically measured their exhaust. This allowed the researchers to precisely calculate how many calories they were burning.

The researchers were curious if the order of activities changed how much energy participants used overall. For instance, perhaps starting with a walk would rev up calorie burning in subsequent sitting. But it turns out the order doesn’t matter. There was a tiny uptick, but nothing statistically or clinically significant, Creasy said. In the other combinations, the order didn’t matter either.

In general, 15 minutes of walking burned an average of 55.9 calories, sitting with a computer burned 19.63 calories, sitting and watching TV burned 18.66 calories, and standing burned 21.92 calories. There was no statistical significance between the sitting activities and standing, the researchers noted. And even if it does result in a few extra calories burned, it’s unclear if that could result in any measurable health benefit.

Raised questions

Like all studies, this one has some limitations. The study participants were healthy and mostly lean, unlike the general population and perhaps the people most interested in using a standing desk to help lose weight. But Creasy said he expects the general findings to hold up in people who are obese. The study also had people stand or sit as still as they could, so it might not capture any significant variations resulting from fidgeting or shifting around in either scenario.

The study also doesn’t address a fundamental question in the sit vs. stand debate: are the negative health effects linked to prolonged sitting caused by the sitting itself or a lack of activity? Like prolonged sitting, a lack of exercise is also linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. And earlier research has found that those who do sit for long periods but are also activedon’t face the same health risks. But other research has suggested that sitting alone can be bad, causing discomfort and poor circulation. Still, standing for long periods of time may also cause problems such as enlarged veins.

On this bigger question, “the jury is still out,” Creasy said. Researchers are looking into whether exercise can override our sedentary lifestyles, plus whether standing desks benefit productivity, comfort, and other health issues.

A few small studies have come out showing that standing desks can boost productivity, but a few others have shown that they don’t. Others are inconclusive. For instance, in a recent study on the productivity of call center workers who were assigned either standing or sitting desks, researchers found that the standers were as much as 53 percent more productive than sitters. But the study lacked baseline data of how productive each group was to start with, so the results are not conclusive. An interesting find, however, was that in surveys, the standing workers did report less back pain and discomfort than their seated counterparts.

As researchers work out which desk setup might be best, Creasy points out that moving is always a good idea. He suggests getting creative with figuring out ways to add intermittent bouts of walking into your daily routine, such as moving the printer farther down the hall or having walking meetings. He points out that benefits can be seen with just casual, slow walking. This isn’t exercise, he emphasizes.