Thursday, April 14, 2011

Research Update: Sleep and snacking and disturbing news about omega 3’s

Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and fish consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011 93:143-50

This study looked at the association between omega 3 intake and risk of type 2 diabetes. Over 36,300 women from the Women’s Health Study were followed for 16 years and during this time there were 2,370 new cases of type 2 diabetes.  Women who consumed the most marine based omega 3’s (.43 grams a day) had a 44% increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to women who consumed the least (.07 grams per day).  A similar increased risk was found for women who consumed the most fish (4 servings per week) compared to women who consumed the least (1/2 serving per week).

Take Home Message:  This is a very significant finding.  People are going nuts about omega 3 supplementation.  Omega 3’s have been shown to have extremely beneficial effects on risk of heart disease, which is great, but here is evidence that going overboard has the potential to hurt you.  This is not the first study to show an adverse effect of high amounts of omega 3.  Several other well designed studies have shown higher glucose levels and decreased insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients with large doses of omega 3 fatty acids.   Get your omega 3’s through your diet, as nature intended, by eating a variety of seafood meals 2-3 times per week.  My clients and those who have read my book know that I am not a fan of supplementation in general.  Too many times concentrated nutrients in large dose supplement form create unexpected consequences in humans.  Get your nutrients through your diet and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009; 89:126-33

This is a beautifully designed little study on sleep deprivation and subsequent energy intake.  Eleven healthy subjects slept in a sleep lab for 14 days on two separate occasions.  The sleep lab is a controlled environment where physical activity, sleep and energy intake can be strictly monitored.  The subjects were given unlimited access to as much food as they wanted.  On the first 14 day visit they were restricted to 5.5 hours of sleep a night. On the second 14 day visit, they were allowed to sleep 8.5 hours per night.  Besides the amount of sleep, everything else about the two interventions was identical.  The amount of food they ate throughout the two interventions was measured and compared.  When the subjects slept only 5.5 hours a night they consumed 297 more calories per day!

Take Home Message: Get your sleep!  That rate of caloric consumption would result in a weight gain of 1 pound every 12 days.   Several studies have shown that a lack of sleep increases ghrelin levels (a hormone that influences appetite) and decreases leptin levels (a hormone that influences metabolism).  This must not be the whole story because in this study there was no difference in leptin and ghrelin levels.   More research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms at play here but the message is clear: Get your sleep.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Product Review: PT Pro Portable Fitness Bench

I’ve been working with weight loss and fitness clients for over 15 years.  One thing that I have noticed over the years is that people who work out at home do a much better job at sticking with their routine than those that go to a gym.  This is for a few reasons.  Number one is a time issue.  If you have to get in your car, drive to the gym, get changed in the locker room and then do the same thing in reverse, you may have just turned your 40 minutes workout into an hour and 20 minute ordeal.  It’s just too easy to blow off. 

Also, somewhere along the way, gyms became really expensive!  Many gyms here in the Boston area are $70, $80 or even $100 dollars a month.  This adds up.  If you are spending $80 a month for your gym, that is $960 per year or $4800 in 5 years.  If you took 50% of one years gym fees, you can set yourself up with a home gym that will last for decades!

A great start for any home gym is a set of dumbbells and an exercise bench.  Enter the PT Pro Portable Fitness Bench.  This bench is perfect for people that don’t have a lot of space and/or don’t want to look at their exercise equipment on a regular basis.

Here are some of the features and benefits of this bench
#1) It folds up for storage.  The legs of this bench fold up so you can store it in a closet.  This is a great feature if you live in an apartment and don’t want your bench taking up valuable space.

#2) For fitness professionals; it is highly portable.  The bench is lightweight and you can bring it to a client’s home if you are an in-home trainer.

#3) The bench has both incline and decline capabilities so you can add a lot more variety than you can with a simple flat bench.

#4) It is very well made.  I’ve had mine for years and it is holding up extremely well.  In fact, it looks and works as well today as the day I got it.

Cost: It is not cheap at $299 but it is a one time expense, you’ll likely never have to buy another bench.  It’s also a cost saver if it allows you to cancel your gym membership. 

For more information, here’s the manufacturer’s website:

I recommend it highly.