Archive for January, 2012

Obesity: My idealistic solution part III


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In part II, I ended the article by looking at the evolutionary perspective how our ancestors lifestyle cycled between feast and famine. In our modern environment, due to the ease of accessibility to foods(invention of refrigerators/ freezers, supermarkets, food processing to increase food’s lifespan, fast foods, frozen dinners, vending machines, school cafeterias serving high-calorie dense mass produced food products, etc.), it eliminated the needs to hunt and gather foods in our modern world environment setting. Combine these easy accessibility to foods with the increased automation, sedentary lifestyle(watching tv, increased demands for desk jobs, modern life stressors, decreased physical activities for kids, etc.) makes things even more complicated in terms of appetite and hunger.

Appetite

Appetite is the desire to eat food, felt as hunger. Appetite exists in all higher life-forms, and serves to regulate adequate energy intake to maintain metabolic needs. It is regulated by a close interplay between the digestive tract, adipose tissue and the brain. Decreased desire to eat is termed anorexia, while polyphagia (or “hyperphagia”) is increased eating.

The regulation of appetite (the appestat) has been the subject of much research in the last decade. Breakthroughs included the discovery, in 1994, of leptin, a hormone that appeared to provide negative feedback. Later studies showed that appetite regulation is an immensely complex process involving the gastrointestinal tract, many hormones, and both the central and autonomic nervous systems.

Effector

The hypothalamus, a part of the brain, is the main regulatory organ for the human appetite. The neurons that regulate appetite appear to be mainly serotonergic, although neuropeptide Y (NPY) and Agouti-related peptide (AGRP) also play a vital role. Hypothalamocortical and hypothalamolimbic projections contribute to the awareness of hunger, and the somatic processes controlled by the hypothalamus include vagal tone (the activity of the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system), stimulation of the thyroid (thyroxine regulates the metabolic rate), the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and a large number of other mechanisms. Opioid receptor-related processes in the nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum effect the palatability of foods.

Sensor

The hypothalamus senses external stimuli mainly through a number of hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, PYY 3-36, orexin and cholecystokinin; all modify the hypothalamic response. They are produced by the digestive tract and by adipose tissue (leptin). Systemic mediators, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF╬▒), interleukins 1 and 6 and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) influence appetite negatively; this mechanism explains why ill people often eat less.

In addition, the biological clock/ circadian rhythm (which is regulated by the hypothalamus) modifies hunger like I explained here in this context. Processes from other cerebral loci, such as from the limbic system and the cerebral cortex, project on the hypothalamus and modify appetite. This explains why in clinical depression and stress, energy intake can change quite drastically.

The food industry/ fast foods industry may play a role on the expansion of our waistlines but eating fast foods does not automatically cause obesity. These food corporations are simply catering to the to the foods we like to eat because these companies did a lot of research to sell us what we want to eat to increase their profit.

In layman terms, we crave foods that are sweet, salty and high in fat. Again, from evolutionary perspective, this makes perfect sense because carbohydrates are not abundant during the hunter-gatherer era until we invented agriculture; and at the same time, eating animal fats means increased rate of survival in terms of famine(because the primary fate of dietary fat is to get deposited as fat readily), in times of famine, we can use these stored energy as fuel to survive. The problem is, in our modern world environment, we really do not experience famine anymore except in some very poor countries. I’m not saying that we need to hunt/ gather our foods again and purposely starve ourselves to effectively combat obesity but my point is to increase awareness regarding our ancestral evolutionary history because from there, we can understand much clearly if how our modern environment can make us fat. Always remember that our body favors fat gain all the time over leanness because it ensures our body’s survival in terms of food scarcity. This might be detrimental in our modern world environment because obesity has been linked to several diseases that it may cause but carrying increase body fatness when food supplies are limited increases our survival rate.

Hunger

Hunger is the most commonly used term to describe the social condition of people who frequently experience the physical sensation of desiring food. As I have explained how our appetite affects hunger sensation, to many of us living in a society when food supplies are abundant combined with the environmental factors I enumerated earlier, the word hunger seems to have a bad connotation these days. Some of us even correlate skipping a meal as starvation. In short, nobody wants to be hungry on a weight loss diet because to many people, dieting to lose means being hungry but let me tell you, being hungry doesn’t mean that you need to eat. Sometimes, this complex sensation can just be a feeling of thirst in disguise masking itself from hunger. Hunger can also be a sensation we get from being under stress just like we tend to snack on foods mindlessly when we’re under pressure in our job. Hunger can also just be an emotional hunger: when we’re feeling sad/ depressed, we tend to make ourselves get out of that feeling through eating mindlessly.

Although the feeling of physical hunger might be an inevitable nature of being on a calorie deficit state, there are ways to minimize hunger while on a diet. A lot of times, by simply altering the foods that we eat may automatically increase the feeling of satiety, not always but since most whole unprocessed foods contains more protein and fiber than it’s processed counterpart, it may increase the feeling of fullness.

Hormonal adaptations

You may bring an argument about the people around you whom you know who eats intuitively without calorie counting or weighing their foods and alike yet they stay lean but the thing is, if you are reading this blog, you’re likely not one of them and you will never have the same physiology like theirs BUT there are things that you can do to adapt, not mimic the reasons how these people stays lean.

-increase conscious awareness

-these people do not eat as much as you think; their hormonal environment is efficient on telling them when to eat and when not to eat(don’t argue because you are not watching how much these people really eat 24/7)

-when these people overeat, they tend to move more intuitively to burn off those excess calories(again, you can do this consciously if you know how much you were really eating that’s why I suggest calorie tracking and weighing foods.

-incorporate diet breaks on a diet. Lyle McDonald from bodyrecomposition.com knows his stuff and read and understand his articles on his website for more information regarding proper ways to setup your diet

-incorporate structured refeeds while dieting because it has both physiological and psychological effects while dieting down because since the hormone leptin is inversely related to the amount of the body fat stores availability, in my opinion, people who are carrying obesogenic genes may benefit from refeeding by upregulating crashed hormones when dieting

*Note: Experiencing weight/ fat loss plateau or weight gain rebound does not necessarily mean that you are carrying obesogenic genes nor you need to incorporate advance dieting tactics such as refeeds but I highly suggest incorporating full diet breaks to anybody who is dieting for fat loss because it breaks the psychological restraint of dieting.

No matter how important genetics are on obesity, it still won’t deny the fact that there are many things that are in our control that we can do something about such as increasing conscious awareness in our actions towards both our eating/ body movement habits because that is how we can adapt to a new lifestyle that will lead us to a successful long-term weight management. It takes time to form a subconscious habit into a conscious one but once we establish that new habit, from there, we can adapt a new lifestyle from the foods that we like to eat and it’s amount up to the physical movements that we can consciously manipulate to maintain a long-term leanness. And also, preventing ourselves from becoming obese in the first place is still the best strategy because being so can increase our biological settling point making it harder for us to diet down in the long run.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19214055/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8135507/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53561/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2703585/?tool=pubmed

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990627/

http://www.wvdhhr.org/bph/oehp/obesity/section1.htm

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Obesity: My idealistic solution Part II


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In part I, I ended my article with a briefing regarding awareness and adaptation being the critical part of obesity prevention. However, determining the solution without defining the environmental factors that triggers fat gain to some or even many of us will leave us clueless regarding the awareness part of the solution.

Obesogenic environment

Obesogenic environment simply means the world we are living at as a whole but the word itself is so general that leaves many of us especially those who lacks understanding regarding the very fundamentals of nutrition and basics of physiology. One of the reasons why a typical average citizen wouldn’t even bother informing himself about these stuff is because it takes time and work without pay but it’s benefits can only be seen in the long run because let’s face it, most people only worries about their health once it’s already late. We are molded by our modern society to focus on cure rather than prevention. The sad truth is our healthcare system focuses on curing disease(s) instead of preventing it because many surgeons and pharmaceutical companies would lose a lot of profit if all the people will become aware of the reasons and consequences why we get fat. I’m not saying that they are the only ones that should be blamed but the corruption in our healthcare system contributes to the environment factors of obesity.

Obesogenic environment

Becoming aware that genetics plays a huge role why some of us becomes obese is as important as knowing the environmental factors that triggers these certain genes to become obese in certain environment because obesity is like an accident. The risk can never be eliminated but can be prevented. If we are aware of the potential hazards, from there we can plan and make further actions to prevent accidents from happening. Obesogenic environment is not limited to the world itself wherein food abundance and advance automation are everywhere but also composes of other factors that makes it easy for many of us to become obese such as marriage, relocation abroad, obesogenic behavior, misinformation/ lack of information and understanding, obesogenic beliefs, obesogenic attitude, obesogenic lifestyle, obesogenic economic status, and many other reasons). I bet the people who are going to read this blog will not even bother understanding my message until they become obese in the first place. We only care about the things that currently applies to us without thinking about the future which in this context means that preparing ourselves to become aware of these putative factors.

Misinformation/ lack of information and understanding

Many people who reads fitness stuff tends to have poor reading comprehension so typically, an average person will read an article as it is without thinking outside the box which in return, they fail to acquire the message it conveys. On the other hand, many fitness experts in my observation tend to oversimplify a complex matter such as obesity. To these people, their primary solution to obesity is to eat less and move more. While the backbone of truth lies in this oversimplified advice, it’s application in reality is far more complex than that. It’s the same as finding the solution to a problem without identifying the root cause of a problem in the first place. We always focus on how to lose weight but we never paid attention to the reason(s) how/ why we get fat in the first place. We are living in a society wherein there are so many conflicting dietary advice: good foods vs. bad foods, unhealthy foods vs. healthy foods, organic vs. conventional foods and other nonsensical information. This simply misleads many people to focus on the quantity and quality of their food intake instead. Combine these misinformations with the “fastest ways/ best ways to lose fat exercise,” miracle fat loss pills in the equation, many people ends up being clueless in the air. Sure, these stuff must have worked to some at least in short-term but long-term leanness has more to do on behavioral and lifestyle alteration especially to the people carrying these obesogenic genes. I will explain that part later in this article.

Obesogenic beliefs

Let’s admit it. We love hearing the stories of those people who have successfully lost tremendous amount of weight but we always diverts our attentions against those who have successfully lost and maintained those weight that has been lost. Losing weight is only the beginning of the hardship trust me. Maintenance of those weight that has been lost has always been a challenge to many dieters who are genetically challenged. This is where conscious awareness and adaptation plays a critical part on successfully combating obesity prevention in my opinion.

Many of us knows that if we decrease our total food intake or if we increase our physical activities or both, we lose weight but, many people do not really understand how this process works. Let’s say, Mr. X decided to do a weight loss diet so he replaced his everyday fast foods diet with lower calorie food options such as salads and other home-cooked meals then he also decides to ditch all the foods that he thinks that are fattening and unhealthy. Having a false belief/ information regarding proper approach to dieting leads many people’s bodies to rebel against their goal to lose weight. Weight loss diet doesn’t mean changing your entire diet to make it successful heck you can still eat the foods that you like at smaller portions or quantities and you’d still lose weight. Eating the foods that we like while creating a calorie deficit creates a psychosomatic boost towards diet adherence which is beneficial on long-term diet adherence.

Obesogenic economic status

If you happen to belong to the average people whose income are low enough to meet the basics of standard living(foods, shelter, healthcare, etc.), your risk of becoming obese may be higher. Here’s why: look at our struggling economy right now, many Americans are unemployed, many of us are living on paycheck to paycheck, we work longer hours hence we even work weird working hours. In that sense, if you belong to these sub category, since you are spending the majority of your days being awake, you are also being exposed to food abundance around you. Now, since that you are putting a log of hours working, your time to cook or prepare your foods at home becomes less therefore, it leaves you the option of either buy a pre-cooked foods from fast foods or from the vending machines which are often than not, contains higher calorie density than home-prepared foods. Combine these factors with the lack of awareness of the average people regarding the smarter options such as the lower calorie variety, from that given standpoint, the chances of you gaining weight automatically increases. I consider myself as a perfect example to this category because I am just an average Joe working on rotational-shift basis. My only difference amongst the other people is that I am equipped with awareness that’s why I can adapt to my given environment.

Now that I have pointed some environmental factors that I specified above, I still need to point out my theoretical solution to obesity prevention. Given that you are carrying these obesogenic genes(although the only way to figure it out so far is to conduct a saliva/ blood/ DNA tests), the first move to do if you want to lose weight is to approach a simple dietary changes. Be aware however that as we lose weight, the rate of which we lose weight on the scale may slow down or stall simply because a lighter body burns fewer calories than a heavier body. When I mentioned earlier that since the genetically-challenged folks may need to do extra effort to lose/ maintain their new body weight, this may include conscious calorie tracking and weighing of their food intake to ensure that they are only eating what they need to make themselves aware of the calorie deficit or to make sure that what they are doing matches their progression by weighing scale.

That’s only the intake part of the equation. Since the hormonal environment of the genetically-challenged folks are different than the people who simply needs to eat less and more intuitively, the people who are carrying obesogenic genes may need to put extra effirt(again) to make sure that they are not moving less along with their reduced-calorie diet. This is where I think homeostasis plays a critical part:

Homeostasis is the tendency of a system, especially the physiology of higher animals to maintain it’s internal stability, owing to the coordinated response to any of it’s parts to any situation or stimulus tending to disturb it’s normal condition or function.”

From evolutionary perspective, our body favors fat gain over leanness because it ensures the survival of an organism(us humans) when the food availability is scarce. This is the reason how our ancestors survived the cycle between feast and famine before we discovered how to cultivate our own foods(agriculture, poultry, etc.) the problem is, in the modern environment, most of us don’t really experience the famine part of the equation so the food availability dominated that part.

I will end up this blog post to this part, stay tuned to part III

Obesity: My idealistic solution


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First of all, I am but by any means claiming myself as an obesity expert. For a very long time, I’ve been wanting to voice out my opinion regarding this matter because I would like to share what I think I know since there are many people who are in the fitness industry which neglect to discuss this matter not until Lou Schouler wrote this article and this blog written by Anoop Balachandran. I would like to thank these people for opening up the reality check to some people especially to those who are in the fitness industry to realize that genetics does matter in terms of fat loss/ body recomposition goals. Why am I writing this blog anyway? The topic about obesity has been a subject of my personal interest for quite a while. Even though I’m not making a single penny blogging nor researching studies after studies regarding the complexity of the human body, it doesn’t bother me because it benefits my personal fitness journey thus I get to at least somehow share what I know to people reading my blog.

Genetic-Environment interaction

If you read the links I posted above, we can clearly see that genetics plays a huge part why some people are having a hard time losing the weight or keeping off those weight that has been lost. I even wrote here that the environment can reinforce such obesogenic genes but I didn’t say that genetics is all that matters. If there’s going to be an argument between the genetics only blaming group and the it’s all behavioral/ environment blaming group, I’d choose to stand in the middle because there is clearly a strong interaction between genetics/ biology-environment synergy. When I moved here in the US, I inevitably gained weight myself due to the change of the environment. I’m not sure if whether I’m carrying the obesogenic genes or not, I mean it would be nice to know but it wouldn’t really matter much because no one can change their physiological makeup anyway(genetics) so it just makes sense that we should concentrate more on the things that are in our control.

In my opinion, becoming aware if we are carrying these obesogenic genes in our DNA would be a great reality check but in my opinion, it may create two psychological effects to people who are carrying these genetics:

1.) To reinforce people’s behavior to use their genetics as an excuse not to do something about it; or

2.) To use as a motivating factor to make consistent lifestyle changes

Life is unfair

So be it. It has never been fair but it’s really what we make most out of it and this also applies to fitness. In simple terms, the articles I linked above clearly just shows that some people especially the ones who are carrying these obesogenic genes may have a harder time losing weight or maintaining weight that has been lost BUT it doesn’t mean that they are doomed to be fat for the rest of their lives because they can have a choice and lifestyle changes that are in their control.

I have used the word control because worrying about something that we cannot do much about which in this case is genetics is simply a waste of time because we can use those times being wasted to concentrate on the things that we have the most control about: Behavior. Even the researchers themselves noted in the article above that genetics plays about 65% of the equation so that gives us the remaining 35% to do something about. If you are regularly reading my blog, I have mentioned numerous times that awareness and adaptation is the ultimate solution to prevent and minimize obesity. I have mentioned these words several to times but I guess I forgot to clarify the meaning of those words.

Awareness

People need to educate themselves regarding the fundamentals of nutrition: calories, macronutrients, it’s roles and effects on the human body then probably some advance dietary manipulation tactic(details) once they establish the big picture and of course, the output part of the equation such as increasing NEAT, incorporating regular exercise or both, and becoming aware of how their diet works synergistically with their physical activities or vice-versa. Becoming aware of these interactive mechanisms builds the knowledge and understanding which are the key ingredients to implement these strategies in their case-to-case personal scenario which I call the adaptation part. Awareness is also about transforming subconscious habits into a conscious one. For example, these people who are carrying obesogenic genes may move less in response to overfeeding to conserve energy but by simply becoming aware of these complex mechanisms, we can alter and adapt these strategies to be a lifelong habit.

Adaptation

Awareness should come first upon adapting new habits that can be implemented to manage long-term leanness successfully. Sure that there are people who are carrying obesogenic genes but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still governed by the law of energy balance. These people may simply need to eat fewer calories not relative to their body weight for them to lose weight or they simply need to consciously move more to expend more calories. Clearly, the hormonal environment of the people carrying the obesogenic genes are less efficient than those who are not that’s what it makes them prone to become obese in the obesogenic environment including obesogenic lifestyle.

This is going to be it for the first part. I’m going write more for part II so stay tuned…

Why you should lift weights for fat loss


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The common misconception

Many people’s common notion is that resistance training should be left for those who want to build bigger muscles while cardiovascular activities such as running and biking should be done and the only activities that should be done for fat loss. I used the word fat loss because many people seeking weight loss are truly seeking fat loss. There’s a big difference between the two as I have explained here. I am not by any means writing this blog to compare the efficacy of each type of exercises that I mentioned above because both can be important and has it’s own place in modifying body composition.

Reshaping your physique

Think of resistance training as a chisel; it is your chisel to sculpt your desired physique. Think of anyone who has been a cardio addict. Sure, these people must have lost 10-20 lbs. on the scale numbers but they just normally become a smaller version of their former self without really much differences in their body composition.
Now, don’t get the idea that resistance training is the secret to burn tremendous amount of calories because it isn’t . You might think that what I’m saying do not make any sense because I said that weight training should be done on fat loss while it doesn’t burn that many calories.

Muscle preservation

When we go on a fat loss diet, our ultimate goal is to decrease our body fat stores while preserving the lean body mass or build it along the process. If you have gone to some kind of dieting of some sort, you already probably knew that it’s so much easier to gain the weight/ fat back on after our diet. The primary reason why this happens is because the lighter we become, our caloric needs also become less to maintain our new body weight. I don’t know if you know that a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of body fat. Not much by definition because a pound of muscle can burn 6-7 calories per pound while a pound of fat burns about half of that(3-4 calories) but, if we look at the big picture, muscle can handle more work load by volume than an excess body fat. Although fat cells still require calories to maintain itself, fat does not aid us on performing specific tasks such as doing yard work, climbing stairs, etc.; in fact, excess body fat acts as a burden heck people with huge beer bellies can prove this.
Besides, it’s the muscle which gives us the “toned” look once we decrease our body fat stores low enough to show the muscle tone.

The price of focusing too much on scale weight numbers

Many people are obsessing about the numbers that they lose foretold by the scale numbers that’s why some diet plans do not advocate weight training program along with their weight loss diet because even though a pound of muscle is equal to a pound of fat, the scale simply do not tell the body composition changes that are happening inside our body. This applies especially to people who have no previous weight training experience whom have a lot of excess body fat to lose or aka the recomp effect. This means that they can gain muscle as they lose body fat stores. So, the scale may not change much but the mirror or how our clothes fit can tell the differences. Some people may get the idea that they can convert a pound of fat lost into a pound of muscle. This will not happen because when we are on a calorie deficit state, building muscle is not the priority because energy support for survival is more important.

Many women are guilty of fearing lifting weights because they are afraid to get big. The truth of the matter is, the reason why some women gets big and bulky when they incorporate a weight training routine is because they use weight training alone to take care of the calorie deficit so, what normally happens is, they gain muscle but they also gain more body fat instead of losing it because they fail to create a calorie deficit through their diet. Those big and bulky women whom many women perceives in their head are big and bulky are actually eating big, lifting heavy and are often using anabolic drugs. As long as the calories are restricted, you are not going to get big and bulky. Besides, although women also carries the hormone testosterone, the amount is simply not enough to get big muscles; heck, I’m a dude and has been lifting heavy weights consistently for 4 consecutive years yet I don’t get big and bulky simply because my calorie intake are also restricted and controlled. So that is how people should approach fat loss: lift heavy weights to preserve muscle mass, let the diet take care of the calorie deficit then do some cardio to compliment the calorie burn.

Incorporating heavy weight training during fat loss can also be an excuse to eat starchy carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, pasta and alike during fat loss because high intensity activities are fueled with carbohydrates. Take note however that it is an excuse to eat and not to overeat carbohydrates nor calories. Lifting weights simply make our bodies become more efficient on handling carbohydrates this way.

Failing to incorporate resistance training during fat loss can lead to muscle loss which in return making weight/ fat gain much easier. If you ever heard of the term “skinny fat,” this is what most people end up who are not doing a resistance type of training when they are attempting to lose weight. Anecdotally speaking, weight training tend to suppress my appetite afterwards.

Cheating your diet is not the same as lying to yourself


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One of the many reasons why many people fail in their diet is because they tend to underestimate their real food intake. What do I mean by this? it means that many people are both consciously and unconsciously miscalculating the true amount of the foods or calories they eat. This is pretty common among people who are both dieting for weight loss or weight gain. To those who are seeking weight loss, they tend to develop an acute amnesia on remembering all the foods they ate yet they wonder why they’re not losing any weight. Same goes with the people who are trying to put on weight; they often complain why they couldn’t gain any weight even though they are eating a lot of foods but when you look at their eating behavior pattern, in reality, they are not really eating that many calories. Since more people these days needs weight/ fat loss more than weight gain, I’m going to focus on the former.

Cheating on your diet is not the same as cheating yourself

I have this female coworker who has been asking me for weight loss advice for years that we had been working together. When there’s a person asking me for some weight loss advice, I always ask them to briefly describe their typical daily diet. I normally ask them if what are the foods they normally eat and how much. Then I also ask them about their daily physical activities in order for me to have some idea on tackling what their problem would be. Anyway, this is what the context dieting is about — to identify the problem in order to to find the most appropriate solution on a given scenario. I don’t do this for a living, heck I don’t even make a single penny doing this but I do like helping people on battling their weight management problems that’s why I created this blog in the first place. Anyway, whenever I ask people these questions, I also watch their behavior towards eating and physical movements. Although I don’t get to monitor what they exactly do on a 24-hour basis, how these people behaves when I’m with them(like at work for example), it gives me behavioral cues why they can’t lose weight.

Anyway, backpedalling to my female coworker, whenever I’m asking her if what she normally eats at home, she will specifically tell me that she only eat vegetables, fruits, bread, milk, yogurt and some meat. I also normally asks people their preferred method of cooking because most of us know that frying can easily add several calories to the food instead of baking it or by steaming it. Anyway, what she was telling me are just the foods(only the foods) that she thinks I want to hear. How did I figure this out? Because just like what I’ve said above, my keen observation to my environment(in this context, to her behavior) has lead me the conclusion that she was actually under reporting her real food intake. I often see her munching on something while at work(be it peanuts, cookies, pastries, etc.) While there are really no such foods as fattening by itself, mindless eating is one of the biggest reasons why many people gets fat at least behaviorally speaking.

As I watch her behavior towards physical movements, she mostly spend most of our shift sitting in the chair instead of keeping herself busy doing some walking for example as I have explained in this blog post. While I don’t personally believe on avoiding certain types of foods while on a weight/ fat loss diet, I explained the reason here on when and why food avoidance can be beneficial on some people’s dieting success.

Building discipline

This is crucial to any dieter’s success in my opinion. While it strongly depends on a person’s diet setup whether he/ she will include a cheat meal or a free meal(I prefer it calling a free meal because cheating is a bad thing while free meal can actually help a dieter’s adherence to the diet psychologically. I think and I believe that incorporating structured or planned free meal(s) can help the dieter build a discipline to stick to their diet. One big mistake many people do when they go to a diet, they completely eliminate instead of minimizing the foods that they crave which in return fails them to adhere to their diet in the long run. At least, by having a free meal, they could still be able to eat those forbidden foods or foods that are not included in their diet.

When to eat free a meal

Personally, I would wisely gear my cheat/ free meal during special occasions or family gathering, social events, etc. This way, it removes both the psychological and psychosocial restraint most diets give to many dieters. Anyway, an ideal diet is not about what we eat all the time but rather what we eat most of the time. That is just my suggestion so it totally depends on the person if when they want to consume their free meals. Breaking your diet once in a while won’t ruin your diet but we shouldn’t overdo it. There is a big difference between use and abuse.

Should I run to lose weight?


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Should I run to lose weight is far different from asking if should I join a Run for the cause or Should I run endlessly to lose weight. I’m being serious here. I know and I’ve seen many people who are desperate to lose weight or shed some body fat whose goals are err fat loss yet they are signing up for a marathon race for fashion statement(to look cool) or is hoping that at the end of the race, they’d be able to wear smaller jeans because these people believes that running is the best way to burn fat. Nothing else alarms me whenever I hear these phrases such as the best way to burn fat because the best way strongly depends on the individual on which method will allow them to create a consistent calorie deficit whether it is taken through diet or physical activities(including regular exercise) or both.

People tend to think incorrectly because they seems to believe what looks like what happened over what really happened. For example, when we see a lean person running on the streets, we automatically create this perception that the reason why and how this person stays lean is because of running; but we always forget to look on the big picture which tells us more about the real reason(s) why this person stays lean. This person might also be restricting his food intake or is physically active or both and is probably doing it consistently. We love to think black and white only which is a type of a logical fallacy.

Don’t get me wrong in case you’re going to assume that I am anti-running nonsense because I’m not. Just like in foods where we separate foods between good and bad, the application of running to lose fat strongly depends on the dose and context of application and scenario. Let’s dissect running(or cardio, although cardio is a general word). Running is a very good way to expend a lot of calories; but doing so can also affect many people’s mentality that when they do a lot of running, they tend to think that it now becomes a valid excuse to forget about the intake part of the energy balance. In the goal of weight/ fat loss, it really doesn’t matter what you do because it is really the calorie deficit that dictates whether there’d be a weight loss/ fat loss at the end.

Running, since it is a form of activity which has the potential to expend many calories, it also has the tendency to increase appetite which I’m return can just put us into neutral energy balance(the intake part is equal to the energy output part) that’s why it’s really critical that if your goal is fat loss, you should also pay attention to your food intake. I listed some strategies here to suppress hunger while on a calorie deficit state.

Many people seeking fat loss also tend to do too much running wherein they neglect the importance of weight training during a calorie deficit. Maintaining the intensity during a calorie deficit state can prevent lean muscle mass loss. Doing too much cardio may also hurt your recovery in the weights room especially if the type of running that you do is the HIIT(high intensity interval training type).

Personally, the way I apply running in my fat loss routine is that I normally limit running into 1-2 20-30 minute sessions a week done on a fasted state along with Yohimbine HCL supplementation. If you’re not really that lean meaning if you don’t have any visible abs yet, there’s no need to use this supplement(this is the context part) but it can be really helpful on getting rid the stubborn fat areas. Don’t worry about this yet because many people are simply fat-fat and should not worry about stubborn fats yet because most body fat can be simply get rid of using consistent calorie deficit application. I have my own personal reason why I prefer to run at low intensity on an empty stomach. In case you want to know, this is simply because during fasted state, the hormone insulin is low while catecholamines are high. This can aid fat mobilization process easily but those mobilized fatty acids must be burned in the working muscles otherwise, it will just be transported and get deposited to another fat cells through fat reesterification. And also, when we are doing a low intensity physical activity such as LISS(low intensity steady state) running, our body uses fatty acids as fuel versus carbohydrates(during high intensity activities).

Running or inclusion of some cardiovascular activities during fat loss can also help on creating metabolic flexibility because this way, we can train our body to use glucose and fatty acids more efficiently. Now, in case you’re wondering if how come you have joined run for the cause events yet your cause still hasn’t produced results, think again.

Leave the trail mix to the hikers


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What is trail mix? Trail mix is a combination of dried fruit, grains, nuts, and sometimes chocolate, developed as a snack food to be taken along on outdoor hikes.

Trail mix is considered an ideal snack food for hikes, because it is tasty, lightweight, easy to store, and nutritious, providing a quick boost from the carbohydrates in the dried fruit and/or granola, and sustained energy from the mono- and polyunsaturated fats in nuts.

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However, trail mix are so portable that it is also calorie-dense snack. Unless you have a very active lifestyle like I described here, you can probably getaway with it’s calorie content. People often get confuse healthy foods as non-fattening foods. Any excess calories that are not converted into muscle mass or burned as energy can result in fat accumulation.

I’ve seen many people who snacks mindlessly on “health foods” such as nuts, seeds, raisins, etc. Sure they are nutritious but it’s calorie content can easily fill up our daily calorie budget thus, almost everyone are not following it’s recommended serving which is one ounce. A bag of trail mix often contains more than one servings, so if one serving has 150 calories in it, then let’s say a bag has 5 servings, 150 x 5 = easy 750 calories.

I’m not saying that trail mix are automatically bad foods nor fattening foods. The majority of our daily physical activities/ jobs these days do not require that many calories. If you choose to eat a trail mix, make sure that you are following it’s recommended serving size and make sure that you are not simply mindlessly eating out of boredom.