Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eat This, Not That’: 4 worst breakfast foods at the supermarket

WORST FROZEN BREAKFASTJimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls: Pancakes and Syrup and Sausage Links (1 bowl)
710 calories
34 g fat (12 g saturated)
1,000 mg sodium
35 g sugars

Calorie equivalent: 12 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugared Munchkins

Pancakes and sausage are the dastardly duo of the breakfast table. One loads you down with saturated fat, and the other is a sponge for the liquid sugar we know as syrup. Eat this thing for breakfast and you’re taking in more sugar than a Snickers bar and a paltry 12 grams of protein. Or you can switch to the bowl below. It has a third as many calories, a quarter as much saturated fat, and nearly twice as much protein. That means it will fight hunger even better than the pancakes and sausage, but it will eliminate 480 calories from your morning routine. Do that every day and you’ll lose nearly a pound a week.

Eat This Instead!Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Sausage Bowl (1 bowl)
230 calories
7 g fat (3 g saturated)
700 mg sodium
1 g sugars

WORST CEREALKashi Summer Berry Granola (1 cup with ½ cup 2% milk)
505 calories
14.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
24 g sugars
14 g fiber

Calorie equivalent: 17 Nabisco Ginger Snap Cookies
Kashi’s Summer Berry Granola has 18 grams of sugar per cup, which — unless it’s coming from fruit — is more than you should ever see on your breakfast table. The company’s GoLean, on the other hand, is one of the best cereals in the supermarket, boasting nearly twice as much fiber as sugar. Plus it has 13 grams of protein, whereas the granola blend has only 6. More fiber plus more protein equals less hunger and a smaller belly. That’s simple nutritional arithmetic.

Eat This Instead!Kashi GoLean Original (1 cup with ½ cup 2% milk)
205 calories
3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
12 g sugars
10 g fiber

WORST BAKED GOODEntenmanns’s Single Serve Iced Honey Bun (1 bun)
660 calories
38 g fat (22 g saturated)
34 g sugars

Saturated fat equivalent: 22 strips of bacon

Take a second look at that saturated fat count. 22 grams. That’s absurd. What’s equally egregious is the fact that this pastry has more sugar than two full-size Klondike Bars. You couldn’t design a worst breakfast. If you absolutely must have a sweet pastry to jumpstart your morning, then go with a plain doughnut. Not only do you save 470 calories, but you also cut your fat by more than two-thirds, your saturated fat by more than three-fourths, and your sugar by nearly 80 percent. It’s not exactly nutritious, but thanks to a modest serving size, the damage is minimal. Wash it down with a glass of milk and you’ve just earned a few grams of protein to boot.

Eat This Instead!Entenmann’s Plain Donut (1 donut)
190 Calories
11 g fat (5 g saturated)
7 g sugar

WORST TOASTER FOODThomas’ Blueberry Bagel (1 bagel with 2 oz cream cheese)
465 calories
21 g fat (11.5 g saturated)
620 mg sodium
56 g carbohydrates
13 g sugars

Calorie equivalent: 5.5 (1-cup) bowls of HoneyComb cereal

The bagel is a nutritional zero. Even if it were loaded with blueberries, it would still be a waste of calories, but as it is, blueberries are merely there to make you feel better about starting your day with a glorified pastry. Scan the ingredient list and you’ll find blueberries near the bottom, beneath 15 other ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, and modified food starch. Instead, look to Thomas’ English muffins. They’re portioned perfectly to rope healthier foods into your morning routine without strapping a bagel belt around your belly. You can stuff them with ham and eggs for a quick, protein-packed breakfast, or you can swipe on some peanut butter for a quick boost of fiber, protein, and healthy fat.

Eat This Instead!Thomas’ English Muffins, Original made with Whole Grains (1 muffin with 2 Tbsps peanut butter)
320 calories
17 g fat (3 g saturated)
355 mg sodium
32 g carbohydrates
4 g sugars

Source: Dave Zinczenko, author of "Eat This, Not That!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anti-gravity Treadmills Help after Injury

If you read running magazines you might have seen stories or advertisements for "anti-gravity treadmills". Runners shared their experiences with this machine in a recent Washington Post article:

I had been reading about “anti-gravity treadmills” in running magazines for a couple of years, wondering occasionally how such a thing could work, when I received an offer from Gainesville chiropractor Kevin Maggs to try one.

At his office, Maggs helped me slip on a specially designed pair of shorts before I stepped onto the treadmill he bought a few weeks ago from the AlterG company of Fremont, Calif. He raised a plastic bubble that enclosed the device up to my waist, and I zipped the shorts to it, creating an airtight seal.

Like any other treadmill, this one had speed and incline controls, and I started walking, just as I have during countless other warm-ups. But then I began to take weight off my feet in 1 percentage-point increments by pumping air into the clear bubble. Slowly the air pressure began to support me.

At 80 percent of my body weight, I felt as if I could fly. I told Maggs to go home; I’d be here running all day. At 20 percent of my body weight, the least the machine allows, my toes were barely touching the treadmill.

Medical benefits

“You feel invincible,” said Lachlan Leach, who was walking slowly on the treadmill when I arrived, the first steps of her rehabilitation for a stress fracture in her foot. “You feel like you can just take off running.”

She can't; that wouldn’t be good therapy. But placing a small load on the stress fracture while it heals, and staying in shape rather than eliminating all cardiovascular activity, will speed her recovery, Maggs said. Some health insurance may cover the therapy, he said.

“It’s very hard to tell a runner not to run,” said Maggs, who estimates that about 80 percent of his patients are runners and triathletes. We are an obsessive lot, prone to persisting through injuries no matter how much long-term damage we’re doing.

Joe Kehoe swears the treadmill saved his half-marathon in March. The 35-year-old Haymarket resident had been training diligently for the race when he strained a calf muscle trying to alter his gait.

“I would have had to completely stop running,” Kehoe told me. Instead, Maggs treated him, then put him on the device at a slower speed than normal and at about 60 percent of his body weight. As his injury healed, Kehoe gradually increased both. He said he ran a personal best in the 13.1-mile race.

And at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, wounded veterans, most of whom suffered limb damage from roadside bombs, are using the treadmill.

“It lets them run with confidence,” said physical therapist Bo Bergeron. “They’re not going to fall. And if they stumble, they’re not going to hit the treadmill.”

The treadmill isn’t perfect. The model for athletes sells for $75,000; the one designed for medical use costs $30,000. Therapists can’t get at a patient’s legs to help while he’s walking. It gets really warm in that bubble, the shorts and air pressure are somewhat uncomfortable and when you remove the air you feel the toll in your quads. So far, there are only a handful in this area, according to the company’s Web site.

Invention and success

The idea of supported running is nothing new. Rehab facilities feature treadmills with harnesses that hold up patients as they recover from leg injuries and strokes. Coaches and physicians have been sending injured athletes to work out in the pool for years. These are much cheaper and, in most cases, more accessible alternatives. But they also are much less precise, and water will not support as much weight.

The treadmill’s purpose isn’t only therapeutic. Athletes, especially elite runners, have figured out that they can train at faster paces while saving wear on their legs. There’s even a formula, worked out by the company: For every 10 percent decrease in body weight on the treadmill, cardiovascular fitness can be maintained by increasing speed 0.6 miles per hour.

The development of the anti-gravity treadmill is a story in itself. NASA scientist Robert Whelan spent years working on technology that would help keep weightless astronauts in space on their treadmills. For a graduate school engineering project, his son, Sean, decided to reverse the concept and build a treadmill that takes weight off runners’ legs.

He later formed a company and in 2006 demonstrated the first one for Alberto Salazar, the legendary former marathoner who coaches elite U.S. distance runners at the Nike Oregon Project, according to Kate Yanov, director of marketing for AlterG. Salazar bought five, she said.

From there, the treadmill spread to more than 80 professional and collegiate football, basketball and soccer teams, including the Washington Redskins, the New York Knicks and AC Milan, according to the company’s Web site. The U.S. military has bought them to help rehabilitate troops with leg wounds and traumatic brain injuries, Yanov said. Top women marathoners have trained on them during their pregnancies.

The company has sold more than 400 to date, Yanov said, about 65 percent to medical facilities and the rest to athletic teams or sports facilities.

Source: Washington Post, Lenny Bernstein 4/19/11

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

For an Exercise Afterburn, Intensity May Be the Key

Whether the metabolism speeds up for hours after exercise an old question, first studied a century ago, and over the years, study after study has been carried out, with decidedly mixed results. Some investigators found no post-exercise effect. Others reported effects so small they were almost unnoticeable — one found male triathletes burned just 12 to 30 extra calories after a workout. Others found as many as 700 additional calories were burned after a long and exhausting exercise session.

The latest sally comes in a recent paper in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Its lead author, Amy A. Knab of Appalachian State University, says it trumps studies that preceded it because of its careful design. And its results are good news — sort of.

Dr. Knab and her colleagues recruited 10 men, ages 22 to 33, who agreed to spend two periods of 24 hours each in a metabolic chamber, a small room that measures the calories people burn while they are inside. The men were not all athletes, but they did have to be able to ride a bike vigorously.

On the first visit to the chamber, the subjects had to stay perfectly still, sitting in a chair and moving only to eat meals, which were sent in through an air lock. In the afternoon, they were permitted a two-minute stretch every hour. Bedtime was 10:30 p.m. At 6:30 the next morning, the subjects were awakened and allowed to leave. They burned, on average, 2,400 calories on this totally sedentary day.

The second visit to the chamber came two days later. Everything was the same, with one exception. At 11 a.m., the subjects rode a stationary bicycle at a high intensity for 45 minutes.

The exercise itself burned about 420 calories, Dr. Knab and her colleagues reported. But what was most interesting was the calories burned afterward. Over the next 14 hours, the men burned an extra 190 calories, increasing the total calories burned by 37 percent.

“We were surprised,” Dr. Knab said. She thought there might be extra calories burned, but she did not expect so many, nor did she expect the effect to last so long.

She suspects one reason she saw such a pronounced effect was that the exercise was so intense. The subjects had had to cycle at 70 percent of their so-called VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen a person’s body can take in during exercise — an effort that made them breathe too heavily to carry on a conversation. And they had to keep it up for 45 minutes.

A different study, also using a metabolic chamber, tested the effects of moderate exercise and found no afterburn. Those subjects exercised at 50 percent of their VO2 max, a level that still allows conversation.

Claude Bouchard, a scientist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., along with other researchers, investigated the exercise effect with conventional methods using a mouthpiece and nose clip or a ventilated hood to determine oxygen used and carbon dioxide exhaled. From those measures, researchers can calculate calories burned.

They find, he says, that when studies are done properly (many are not), extra calories are burned in the hours after exercise — but only if subjects exercise at least as hard and long as Dr. Knab’s subjects. And if they exercise even harder, they burn even more calories afterward.A recent book that Dr. Bouchard and a colleague edited notes two studies that found this effect. The researchers found that if subjects ran at 70 percent of their VO2 max or cycled at 75 percent of it, they could burn 300 to 700 extra calories after the exercise was over, though 700 calories was unusual.

It is not clear why extra calories should be burned after a bout of intense exercise, Dr. Bouchard says. Part of the effect may be due to post-exercise energy metabolism: the body starts using more fat and less carbohydrate after a hard exercise session. Several hormones that are released during exercise remain elevated in the blood afterward, increasing metabolism. And extra calories may be burned when the body replenishes glycogen, the sugar stored in muscles. But for the most part, the effect remains a mystery.

Whatever the cause, researchers say, the extra calories burned after exercise can help people lose weight. Unfortunately, those who may have the most to lose may have the hardest time doing the sort of exercise that gives them a calorie-burning bonus.

The usual guideline for general health is 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. That’s doable for most people and should increase heart health, even if it provides no calorie bonus.

But that sort of moderate exercise, Dr. Bouchard said, “is what we recommend — that’s the target.”

Source NY Times 4/18/11

Thursday, April 7, 2011

High-intensity vs. endurance workout--which is the victor?

Endurance training and high-intensity workouts--do both offer cardiovascular benefits? A study finds that each form of exercise has health benefits, with intense workouts perhaps edging out the competition.

The study focused on a group of 47 adolescents (average age about 16) who were assigned to a moderate exercise group, a high-intensity exercise group or a control group for seven weeks. The moderate exercise group did 20 minutes of steady running three times a week, while the high-intensity group did four to six repeats of an all-out sprint with brief recovery periods three times a week.

Both groups showed evidence of cardiovascular benefits at the end of the study. The high-intensity group had substantial improvements in systolic blood pressure, aerobic fitness and body mass index. Among the moderate-intensity group's improvements were aerobic fitness, body fat percentage, body mass index and insulin concentrations. No injuries were reported.

The moderate-intensity group burned more calories than the high-intensity group: 4,410 versus 907 on average. But the study authors noted that the high-intensity group exercised for a total of only 63 minutes, 15% of the 420 minutes spent by the moderate-intensity group.

Most exercise experts recommend that workouts include both endurance and interval training, which can be done outside or in a gym.

Although this was a small study, lead author Duncan Buchan of the University of the West of Scotland was optimistic about the implications of the results: "This is the first study to demonstrate the effects of a novel interval training program on both traditional and novel (cardiovascular disease) risk factors in adolescents," he said in a news release. "Larger scale and extended interventions must be undertaken so that the long term impact and effects of intermittent training programs on unfavorable metabolic profiles may be investigated further."

The study was released Wednesday in the American Journal of Human Biology.
Source: Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times; 4/6/11

Monday, April 4, 2011

Work out success depends on timing, enjoyment and friends

Thinking about starting an exercise program to help lose weight? If you find some activity that allows you to regularly work out early in the day with the same group of people — and it's something you like — then you're well on your way.

Social context, self-control and positive reinforcement play critical roles in exercise adherence, and the data provide interesting insight that can be used to increase your likelihood of following through.

Let's start with a look at "what" you choose to do.

Running burns more calories than cycling, but you may enjoy the latter yet hate the former. Operant conditioning theory states that if a stimulus, such as exercise, elicits a positive response, such as enjoyment or contentment, then people will seek to reproduce those feelings by engaging in the behavior again. The lesson: When picking an exercise, choose maximum enjoyment over maximum results, and the positive reinforcement will help you stick with it.

Moving on to "when," things gets simpler: The later in the day you push your exercise session, the more likely you are to bail out and instead plow into a Doritos-covered couch.

Barbara Brehm is a professor of exercise and sport studies at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and in her 2004 book, "Successful Fitness Motivation Strategies," she outlined how self-control is a limited resource and that the stress we experience during the day gradually erodes our willpower to exercise. "People who exercise early in the morning have the highest adherence rates; they have not yet expended time and energy overcoming the barriers that inevitably develop during the day," she states.

"Who" and "where" are also important aspects of exercise adherence.

"Human beings are wired to be in groups," said Bert Carron, a professor of kinesiology focusing on sport psychology at the University of Western Ontario. "Exercising alone doesn't work for the majority of people."

Carron was co-author of a 2006 analysis on the effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity; it looked at 44 studies, containing 4,578 participants, that lasted anywhere from less than three months to more than a year. In the analysis, which was published in the journal Sport & Exercise Psychology Review, Carron and colleagues examined the effect on adherence of a variety of exercise scenarios.

"Those who exercised alone at home had the lowest adherence rates by far," he told me. "Comparatively, those in the 'collective' group had much higher adherence." When I asked him how much higher the adherence rates were for collective groups, he said he measured "a substantial effect. It represents a very large difference."

The study defined a collective group as "standard exercise classes in which participants engaged in physical activity in the presence of an instructor." The authors compared that kind of group with what they called a "true group" — one "in which a team-building strategy was used in an attempt to increase the sense of cohesiveness among participants." True groups had much higher adherence rates than the collective groups (which had significantly higher adherence than those who exercised alone at home).

Source: JA Fell, LA Times: 4/4/11

Friday, April 1, 2011

Obese with strong heart beats those thin and weak

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For overweight people with heart disease, improving their physical fitness could pay big dividends.

A new study has found that fitness, not body weight, is a more important predictor of whether people with clogged blood vessels in their heart will die in the relatively near term.

Being overweight, or even obese, but having a heart that could tolerate heavy exercise was markedly better than being a lean person who panted from walking up a hill.

Not surprisingly, the study also showed that obese heart patients who were least physically fit, and those with large amounts of fat concentrated around their hips and abdomen, were much more likely to die during the 14-year study period compared to their fitter, more slender peers. The combination of poor fitness and that kind of so-called "central obesity" was even more dangerous, raising the risk for death roughly sevenfold, the researchers said.

"The bottom line here is that fitness modulates the prognosis in patients with coronary artery disease according to their body weight," study leader Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a heart specialist at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., told Reuters Health. "To have a low fitness and to have central obesity seems to be a pretty bad combination."

For the new study, published in the American Heart Journal, Dr. Lopez-Jimenez and colleagues studied 855 men and women enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program. In the past, all of them had either had heart attacks, or bouts of severe chest pain related to heart problems. Some had undergone medical or surgical procedures to help unclog the blood vessels in the heart.

To assess patients' fitness, doctors had them walk on treadmills. They were each assigned a score based on the distance they could walk, and their ability to take in oxygen while exercising - both key aspects of physical fitness.

The researchers used body-mass index - a ratio of height to weight - to determine whether patients were overweight or obese.

Patients who were fit and relatively thin had the lowest odds of dying in the study period and constituted a "control" group. Fit but overweight patients were about twice as likely to die, while those who were fit but obese had three times the risk of death compared to the fit and thin control group.

Things got more complicated for the unfit. Patients with poor fitness scores who were overweight were nearly 7 times more likely to die during the study compared to the control group. But normal-weight people who were unfit were nearly 10 times more likely to die, the researchers found.

In other words, as long as a person with heart disease stays active, being obese-at least according to their body mass index-does not seem to make their prognosis worse. On the other hand, having too much abdominal fat is a problem even for people who can withstand a lot of exercise.

"You are better off if you are fit, and you are better off if you have a shorter belt," said Eric Ravussin, an obesity expert at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

Ravussin offered several explanations for why obesity did not seem to have the impact one might expect. Obese people typically go to the doctor often, and thus are more likely to be tested, and treated, for high cholesterol, a leading risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, he said. The new study did not look at how many cholesterol-lowering medications patients were taking.

Compared to thin people, the obese have more energy reserves to help them weather serious illnesses, Ravussin noted. Also, studies have shown they appear to be better able to suppress inflammation linked to heart and vessel damage - although the reasons for that aren't clear.

Whatever the case, Lopes-Jimenez said, the lesson for patients is clear: try to improve your physical fitness. "It is much easier to become fit than it is to become slim," he said. "Anybody who has gone into an exercise program would agree with that."

SOURCE: Reuters, Adam Marcus 3/31/11: American Heart Journal, March 2011.