Thursday, July 28, 2011

Product Review: The Ipad

It’s time for another product review and this time I’m going with the Ipad.
This won’t be a technical review that you’d find on CNET, but will be a review of how you can use the Ipad to promote a healthy lifestyle.  There are dozens of apps that will help you reach your fitness and nutrition goals.

I know the Ipad isn’t cheap, I bought mine for $500 on  I went with the lower memory, WIFI version because I didn’t think I’d need too much space and I knew I’d be using it mostly at home, where I have wireless.  Besides, the monthly fee for 3g didn’t appeal much to me at all. :)  Despite the upfront cost, I have to say it was worth every penny, I use mine every single day.

Many of my clients have Ipads as well and I’m learning that it has been a real tool for them to stay on course with their diet and exercise.  Following are some uses/apps that have proven beneficial.

Keeping Track Of Your Lifestyle
Record keeping is huge if you are trying to change your diet and exercise habits.  The research bears this out and I’ve definitely noticed this throughout my years of experience working with weight loss clients.  Here are some of the ways you can use your Ipad for record keeping.

1) Recording your weight each week
2) Recording your cardio minutes each week
3) Recording your daily food intake

You can get specialized apps for each of these or simply use a note app like Sticky Notes (which has a free version).

4) Streaks Motivational Calendar- is an App for the Ipad.  It was created by Fantzer, Inc and costs just 1.99 to download and use.  It is an extremely simple concept but it is also extremely effective.   Streaks allows you to create a calendar with a goal in mind.  Every day that you are successful in obtaining your goal, you mark it down on your calendar for that day.  Streaks will keep track of your consecutive days of success.  It also will record your longest streak so you have something to shoot for.  If you are trying to give up sugar, do your cardio everyday, stop eating after 8:00 PM or anything else, you set up a calendar and keep track.  If you mess up, start over again and try to break your longest streak.  Before you know it, you are hitting your goal for increasing lengths of time. 

Cardio Distraction
We all know that to lose weight and stay in shape, cardio has to be a just about daily occurrence.  While there are people out there, such as myself, that actually enjoy doing cardio, (my clients have called me a “freak” because of this) for most people it is something they have to do.  Using your Ipad to either distract you or to be productive during your session makes cardio a lot more pleasant for these people.

1) Ipod- Your Ipad comes with an Ipod app built in, so you can listen to your music while working out.
2) Movies-You can buy and rent movies and TV shows from Itunes and watch them on the Ipad.
3) Netflix App- For $7 a month you can sign up for Netflix and watch unlimited movies that are streamed instantly to your Ipad.  I’m currently watching a 14 hour documentary on World War 2 by Ken Burns while working out and it is awesome!
4) Kindle App- With the free kindle app, you can turn your Ipad into a Kindle and read books.
5) Skype- With the free skype app you can talk for free to anyone else in the world who has skype.  This is a great way to pass the time while getting in your cardio.
6) Safari-Use the built in web browser to check your emails, read the paper online or surf the net.

These are just some of the ways you can use the Ipad to enhance your health and fitness.  Although it is definitely a little pricey, you’ll fall in love with your Ipad immediately.  I know I have.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Research Update: Individual Foods And Weight Gain

Changes In Diet And Lifestyle And Long-Term Weight Gain In Women And Men
New England Journal Of Medicine 2011; 36:2392-404.

Objective: To examine the impact of individual foods on weight gain over 20 years.

Study Population: 120,877 U.S. men and women from 3 separate cohorts, The Nurses’ Health Study, The Health Professional Follow-up Study and The Nurses’ Health Study II.

Methods:  Subjects were followed for approximately 20 years (20 years for the Health Professional Follow-up subjects and Nurses’ Health cohort and 12 years for the Nurses’ Health II cohort).  The impact of different foods and lifestyle factors on long term body weight was computed statistically.
Results:  Subjects gained an average of 3.35 pounds every 4 years for a total of 16.8 pounds over 20 years.  Weight gain was most associated with consumption of potato chips (1.69 pounds over 4 years for each daily serving), potatoes (1.28 pounds over 4 years for each daily serving), sugar sweetened beverages (1.0 pound per daily serving), red meat (.95 pound per daily serving) and processed red meat like bacon, pepperoni, etc (.93 pound per daily serving).
Conversely, weight loss was most associated with yogurt consumption (-0.82 lbs over 4 years per daily serving), nuts (-.57 pound per daily serving), fruits (-.49 pound per daily serving), whole grains (-.37 pounds per daily serving), and vegetables (-.22 pounds per daily serving).
Results were also reported for lifestyle factors: physical activity was associated with weight loss, while alcohol consumption, watching too much TV and sleeping more than 8 hours and less than 6 hours were all associated with weight gain.
Discussion: This is a very well designed study.  If you need evidence of this, you just have to look at the journal that it appears in.  The New England Journal of Medicine is the holy grail of medical research. 
Just about all of the foods that promoted weight gain were high glycemic load, refined carbohydrates and just about all the foods that promoted weight loss were low glycemic load foods.  I have found this to be absolutely true in my weight loss practice.  High glycemic load carbs cause a reactive hypoglycemia in most people that dramatically increases hunger a few hours after consumption.  The high insulin levels these foods promote may also favor fat storage.

Another thing that jumped out at me while reading this paper is the idea that even tiny changes in our diet can have dramatic impacts on our long term weight.  If you have an additional 75 calorie snack each day, this will actually add up to a gain of almost 8 pounds per year and over 23 pounds in 3 years!  This is a big reason why I have my clients eliminate snacking and, of course, strictly limit the high glycemic load carbs.

Take Home Message: If weight loss is your goal, you need to understand the concept of glycemic load.  This study provides even more evidence of the weight gaining effects of high glycemic carbs.