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.

 

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Healthy Byte: Exercise to Get Healthy, Eating Consciously to Lose Weight

Originally Posted HERE

We’ve been conditioned to think of exercise as a key ingredient — perhaps the most important ingredient — of any weight loss effort.

You know the drill: Join the gym on January 1 if you want to reach your New Year’s weight loss goal.

But in truth, the evidence has been accumulating for years that exercise, while great for health, isn’t actually all that important for weight loss.

To learn more about why, I read through more than 60 studies (including high-quality, systematic reviews of all the best-available research) on exercise and weight loss for a recent installment of Show Me the Evidence. Here’s a quick summary of what I learned.

Exercise accounts for a small portion of daily calorie burn

One very underappreciated fact about exercise is that even when you work out, the extra calories you burn only account for a small part of your total energy expenditure.
There are three main components to energy expenditure, obesity researcher Alexxai Kravitz explained: 1) basal metabolic rate, or the energy used for basic functioning when the body is at rest; 2) the energy used to break down food; and 3) the energy used in physical activity.

Javier Zarracina / Vox

What’s important to absorb is the fact that we have very little control over our basal metabolic rate, but it’s actually our biggest energy hog. “It’s generally accepted that for most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure,” said Kravitz. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent.

That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. (Remember, physical activity includes all movement, including walking around, fidgeting, et cetera.)

The implication here is that while your food intake accounts for 100 percent of the energy that goes into your body, exercise only burns off less than 10 to 30 percent of it. That’s a pretty big discrepancy, and definitely means that erasing all your dietary transgressions at the gym is a lot harder than the peddlers of gym memberships make it seem.

It’s hard to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise

Using the National Institutes of Health’s Body Weight Planner — which gives a more realistic estimation for weight loss than the old 3,500 calorie rule — mathematician and obesity researcher Kevin Hall created this model to show why adding a regular exercise program is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss.

Javier Zarracina / Vox

If a hypothetical 200-pound man added 60 minutes of medium-intensity running four days per week while keeping his calorie intake the same, and he did this for 30 days, he’d lose five pounds. “If this person decided to increase food intake or relax more to recover from the added exercise, then even less weight would be lost,” Hall added. (More on these “compensatory mechanisms” later.)

So if one is overweight or obese, and presumably trying to lose dozens of pounds, it would take an incredible amount of time, will, and effort to make a real impact through exercise alone.

Exercise can undermine weight loss in other, subtle ways

How much we eat is connected to how much we move. When we move more, we sometimes eat more too, or eat less when we’re not exercising.

One 2009 study shows that people seemed to increase their food intake after exercise — either because they thought they burned off a lot of calories or because they were hungrier. Another review of studies from 2012 found that people generally overestimated how much energy exercise burned and ate more when they worked out.

There’s also evidence to suggest that some people simply slow down after a workout, using less energy on their non-gym activities. They might decide to lie down for a rest, fidget less because they’re tired, or take the elevator instead of the stairs.

These changes are usually called “compensatory behaviors” — and they simply refer to adjustments we may unconsciously make after working out to offset the calories burned.

We need to reframe how we think about exercise

Obesity doctor Yoni Freedhoff has called for a rebranding of how we think of exercise. Exercise has staggering benefits — it just may not help much in the quest for weight loss:

By preventing cancers, improving blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar, bolstering sleep, attention, energy and mood, and doing so much more, exercise has indisputably proven itself to be the world’s best drug – better than any pharmaceutical product any physician could ever prescribe. Sadly though, exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to short-change the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise, and simultaneously misinform them about the realities of long term weight management.

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health; it’s just not that important for weight loss. So don’t expect to lose a lot of weight by ramping up physical activity alone.

As a society, we also need to stop treating a lack of exercise and diet as equally responsible for the obesity problem in this country. Public-health obesity policies should prioritize fighting the over-consumption of low-quality food and improving the food environment.

 

Healthy Byte: The Mighty Six

Originally Posted HERE

Trimming the fat — that’s what fitness is all about. But taking the very notion of slimming things down and applying it to all aspects of your life can be equally as difficult, and equally as satisfying, as becoming more fit and muscular. Imagine if you could trim the proverbial fat from your workday, commute, or any other number of responsibilities? Chances are, you’d reclaim a good amount of time, and be a lot happier.

 For the uninitiated, playing the architect and devising a fitness routine can be difficult — so difficult that we’ve trimmed things down to six simple exercises that can get you started on the path to success.

1. Squats

man performing bodyweight squats on a track

Squats will always be a workout staple. | iStock.com

 We discuss squats a lot — and for a good reason. Squats are basically the founding lift or exercise that everything else builds on top of. Squats not only help you build a powerful lower body, but also work your abs, back, and really to some extent, your entire body. You’ll become stronger, faster, improve your range of motion, and your balance as well. There are many, many reasons why squats are integral to a balanced workout, so be sure to get them in.

This is why they tell you not to skip leg day.

2. Pull-ups

man doing pull-ups

Chin-ups and pull-ups are the ultimate display of strength. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Think of pull-ups as the squat of the upper-body. It’s an exercise that incorporates nearly every muscle in your personal northern hemisphere, and forces everything to work in conjunction: your back, chest, abs, and arms. Hell, you’ll even get a little cardio going. Of course, there’s a steep curve for pull-ups, as a lot of people can’t even do one. But that shouldn’t deter you — do what you can, focusing on form. Before you know it, you’ll be busting several out over a few sets.

3. Power cleans

bodybuilder power cleans

This lift works your entire body. | Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The clean is an excellent lift, with the only potential downside being they require access to barbells and gym space. Even so, this is one of those lifts that, similar to squats, will get your whole body into action. Not only will you be using your lower body to get a powerful lift off, but you’ll need your back and core, and finally your arms to handle the weight once you get it above your waist. You’ll develop explosiveness and definitely build a lot of muscle by incorporating cleans into your workout. There are substitutes, like rows, but if you can, get your hands on a barbell and some plates for the full experience.

4. Planks

man doing planks while a woman times him

Planks will give you the abs of your dreams. | iStock.com

Here’s an exercise that can be done in a barren fitness center, devoid of any equipment, or even in a hotel room or airport. Planking is so much more than just a passing internet video fad — it’s one of the better exercises that can be adopted into your regimen. Planks will give your core and upper legs a real workout and even help sculpt your abs. And there are a ton of variations you can throw into the mix as well to ensure you don’t get bored.

5. Lunges

man doing a dumbbell lunge

Lunges are great for your booty. | iStock.com

As if we haven’t given your lower body enough of a run-through, we’re going to add lunges to the list. Lunges, like planks, can be done in a much more convenient setting, and only require a set of barbells — or anything weighty that can be carried, really. Lunges will train your glutes and quads, helping you build explosive muscle that will also help with cleans, squats, and deadlifts. Use them in addition to your other lifts, or if you can’t do anything else, use the simplicity of lunges to your advantage.

6. Burpees

man in the bottom phase of a push-up in an empty room

Burpees are tough, but they’re seriously effective. | iStock.com

Yes, the exercise you probably hate the most is, indeed, one of the most effective. Burpees are the whole package — they raise your heart rate with the jumping movement and offer strength gains with the squat, plank, and push-up positions. If you’re unfamiliar with how a burpee works, you begin by jumping up and then immediately lowering to the ground to perform a push-up. Once the push-up is complete, hop your feet back in, and jump skyward once more. This is just one rep — do as many as you can in a minute to complete a set, or try out one of these difficult variations.

 

Healthy Byte: Body Size Perception

Originally Posted HERE

Full Research Article HERE

A new study from Macquarie University has found that people’s perception of their own and other people’s body weight can change in as little as two minutes.

“After two minutes of being exposed to images of thinner versions of themselves or others, we saw that the neural mechanisms controlling participants’ perceptions actually adapted to see thin images as normal,” lead author Associate Professor Kevin Brooks explained.

“Original sized body images now looked fatter to them.”

The opposite was also true: exposure to fatter body types made participants see original body sizes as skinny.

The researchers also found that while there were different brain mechanisms controlling a person’s perception of their own  and the body size of other people, the two mechanisms can also affect each other.

“This means that being exposed to images of skinny people doesn’t just make you feel bad about your own body size, which has been known for a while, it actually affects the perceptual mechanisms in your brain and makes you think you are bigger or smaller than you really are,” said Dr Ian Stephen, another author of the study.

“Duration and frequency of exposure definitely play a role, but the fact that the brain adapts after such a short exposure time suggests we are incredibly susceptible to being manipulated by images of different sized bodies.”

The researchers say that the results add another piece of the puzzle to our current understanding of  involving body image disturbance, such as anorexia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia, and could potentially be used in the development of treatments for such conditions.

“There is only one way for information to be received by our brains: through the perceptual and neural mechanisms fed by our senses. By unpacking the details of the  involved in body size perception we are hoping to discover more about how the brain deals with this information as a whole, so that we can understand how conditions involving  image disturbance arise,” Associate Professor Brooks concluded.

HEALTHY BYTE: Eat Instinctively

 NOTE: I am sorting through a year’s worth of links that I thought would be interesting reads for Healthy Byte. Although some of this information maybe old, there’s still tremendous value in the content. So I am meticulously picking & choosing articles that provides the most timeless information. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Originally Posted HERE 

By: Jan Bowen

It’s not exactly a secret that there’s more to being happy with your body weight than eating a specific number of calories. Food is intricately connected to our emotions and to our sense of identity.

Our meals should nourish not only our physical body, but also sustain us emotionally and spiritually, helping us live the fullest life possible. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Sure. But by the time we’ve reached our early teens, we’ve often forgotten how to determine what real hunger is.

In fact, most of us, fortunate enough to never experience true physical hunger, have only experienced emotional hunger.

We’ve complicated our food, turning it into a source of conflict rather than contentment, or even — joy.

There IS a way to get back to enjoying meals as an easy, guilt-free experience again. To do so, you must ‘trust your gut’ by eating instinctively (not impulsively). This is the secret to never worrying about your weight again.

Your gut already has all the answers you need. In fact, scientists tell us there is a secondary brain in our belly, containing over one hundred million neurons of intelligence! So use that gut wisdom to help you eat well! Those gut hunches you experience aren’t just your imagination. They’re literally your body’s attempt to advise you. So, listen to it!

1. Pay attention to how you feel about food.

Focus first on ways you’re emotional eating. Diet books often focus on this as the key to permanent weight loss, and it’s definitely a large percentage of the equation. Burying our feelings via overeating or eating unhealthy foods only adds pounds and guilt.

Trusting your gut at this level means paying attention to what you’re feeling in the momentbefore you reach for the food you want to overeat. If you pause and listen, your stomach will tell you what you’re feeling.

If hearing that wisdom feels too difficult — your emotions (and all of that ice cream you spoon down) are drowning out your gut talk. Try this: After you eat something you regret, consider what you ate. Doreen Virtue, in her book Constant Craving:  What Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Overcome Them tells us that often, the type of food we eat is a clue to the emotions we’re trying to stuff.

Sometimes ice cream helps us self-medicate feelings of depression. Crunchy, salty chips tend to soothe us when we’re feeling anxious and stressed. And that slice of pie might be a substitute for the bit of encouragement you really wanted.

Notice the feelings you felt when you craved a specific food, the correlation might surprise you. Until you address the underlying issue that’s bothering you, the unhealthy eating habit won’t stop.

2. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry for something else.

If you’re handling your emotions in a healthy way and your appetite still isn’t satisfied, figure out what you’re really hungry for in life that goes beyond emotions. In what areas of your life do you lack fulfillment? Sometimes, overeating is connected to an urge to fill a void of happiness or deep-seated purpose.

Your enteric nervous system clues you in to your emotions, which is possibly why it is often considered the home seat of wisdom. You “know it at a gut level” if you pay attention. Once you identify what’s missing, don’t try to fill that emptiness with food. It won’t work.

You’ll never find peace until you forgo emotional eating and start living the life you’re meant to live.

3. Let your intuition guide what you eat.

Your body has infinite intelligence. In fact, there is individual knowledge contained within each cell of your body. It will tell you what it needs — if you listen to it. When you explore intuitive eating, your body will tell you when it’s hungry and when it’s full. Your gut will tell you what type of food your body requires and how much it needs to adequately feel nourished.

Pay attention to your body’s requests as you decide which of the many food choices are best for you. We are each biochemically unique, with distinctly individual needs. Allow your highly-tuned body-mind unit to tell you when it needs re-calibration. If you start craving nutritious foods, it’s a signal from your body that it needs the specific nutrients from that food.

 Craving beets? Maybe your blood pressure needs normalizing, or your liver needs extra support. Eggplant sounds irresistible? Maybe your brain power needs a few extra antioxidants.

Does the idea of trusting your gut to tell you what to eat sound crazy? It’s not. Try eating instinctively for six months to a year and you’ll notice your body — and health — responding in the most positive way.

Eating instinctively is an approach to food, not a diet.

When you tune into what your body is saying and give it what it needs, you will never worry about your weight again.

Healthy Byte: Three Steps to Eating Healthier for Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HB Sig