Friday, September 12, 2014

Are Fruit Smoothies A Good Choice For Breakfast?

Life is pretty busy for most of us. We are all looking for quick and easy meals that will save us time. This seems to be especially true for breakfast. At first glance, a fruit smoothie seems like an awesome choice. It has fruit, yogurt or milk, maybe some flax seed, and some ice. These are all healthy ingredients.

However, fruit smoothies are definitely not a good choice for breakfast, especially if you are trying to lose weight. It all has to do with blending the fruit.

Whole fruits are one of the healthiest things that you can eat. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other biologically active phytochemicals. They are easy on the blood sugar because each sugar molecule is surrounded by a helix of fiber. This takes time for your digestive system to break down and results in an easy, gradual rise in blood sugar and a small release of insulin. 

When you blend fruit, you upset this healthy, natural package. Blending fruit separates the fiber from the sugar. This results in a higher spike in blood sugar and insulin, which has the potential to increase fat storage, decrease fat burning at the muscular level, and increase hunger a few hours later, which leads to snacking.

If weight loss is your goal, eat your fruit in its whole, natural form and never blend it.

Does Vitamin D Supplementation Enhance Weight Loss?

The Study
218 overweight women were randomly assigned to 2,000 IU of vitamin D or placebo for 12 months. Both groups received the same weight loss advice, which included comprehensive dietary change and 225 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. After 12 months, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups. The vitamin D group lost 8.2% of their baseline body weight, while the placebo group lost 8.4% of their baseline weight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014; 99:1015-25.

Take Home Message
In some cross-sectional studies, vitamin D levels have been inversely associated with obesity. However, it appears that vitamin D supplementation does not increase weight loss. This was a very well designed study with good adherence and a long duration. Once again, another promising weight loss supplement fails to live up to the rigors of a randomized trial. I guess there is just no substitute for proper diet and exercise if weight loss is your goal.


Does Protein Really Help You Eat Less?

The Study
In a randomized trial with a crossover design, 30 men and 28 women consumed three different diets for 12 days on separate occasions: 5% of energy from protein, 15% of energy from protein, and 30% of energy from protein. The diets and exercise habits were identical in all three conditions with the exception of the amount of protein consumed.  All meals were consumed at the University that was conducting the study and food consumption was ad lib, subjects could eat as much as they wanted at a meal. When consuming the 5% energy diet, subjects averaged 2,264 calories per day.  When consuming the 15% protein diet, subjects consumed 2,221 calories per day.  When consuming the 30% protein diet, subjects consumed 2,085 calories per day. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014; 99:1397-406.

Take Home Message
This study provides further evidence that higher protein consumption reduces energy intake.  Researchers are not quite sure why protein increases satiety, but it sure seems to in trials.  The difference in calories consumed between the high and low protein diets was 180 calories per day.  This has the potential to have a profound impact on body weight over time.  I have my clients shoot for about 20% of calories as protein, which is a safe level and can really have a positive impact on hunger and subsequent energy intake.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Product Review: Nike Fuelband

If your goal is weight loss, the ability to measure your total physical activity is a powerful tool.

As a trainer, my client’s exercise activities are easy to track. I will issue a cardio goal, like 250 minutes of elliptical training per week, my client will keep a record of minutes completed, and we both know exactly what is going on.

What I have learned in the last few years, with the help of the technology that is described below, is that the amount of non-exercise physical activity varies wildly from person to person.

I have clients in the medical field that walk so much during their work day that they hit 9,000 steps from work alone. I have other clients who have more sedentary office based jobs that barely hit 2,000 steps during a workday. The Nike Fuelband is a simple tool that measures your entire physical activity, both your exercise activity and your activities of daily living.

The Nike Fuelband is a tiny device that you wear around your wrist like a watch. It contains a sports tested accelerometer that measures all varieties of physical activity. It gives you a number of useful measures: including the number of steps you walk per day, the number of calories you have burned from physical activity, and most importantly, your Nike Fuel for that day. 

Nike Fuel is a universal metric of physical activity. You set a goal for Nike Fuel points in a day, mine is 3000. Your Fuelband converts all of your physical activity into Nike Fuel points, including walking, running, weight lifting, basketball, and all other sports and activities. The band has a series of LED lights that turn from red to yellow and then to green as you progress toward your Nike Fuel goal for the day. When you hit your goal, the band lets you know.

1) This device measures all of your physical activity, not just your steps.

2) You wear the Fuelband like a watch. This is a huge upgrade over most pedometers that you have to clip onto your belt. I can’t tell you how many of my clients have lost their pedometer because it has fallen off of their waist at some point in the day. In most cases, it is never found.

3) The Fuelband plugs directly into your computer’s USB port to recharge and upload data.

4) You have free access to the Nike Fuel website, which keeps track of your activity and allows you to set goals. The website is awesome.

5) Very good battery life. In my experience, it lasts 5 or more days without a charge and once plugged in, recharges very quickly. 

6) It can store multiple day’s worth of data and then uploads automatically while charging. Therefore, you don’t have to connect it to your computer every day. Just charge it every week or so and your data will be uploaded.

7) It also tells the time.

8) It comes with a one year warranty. If it breaks, Nike is very good about sending you a new one within the warranty period. 

Would I Recommend the Nike Fuelband?
Absolutely! Many of my clients have picked one up and they all love it as much as I do. It will teach you a ton about your activity level. You will start to understand your patterns. You’ll be able to see which days of the week you consistently hit your goals, and which days you don’t. When you come up with a plan to improve on the days that you miss, you can easily measure your progress.

It is very motivating as well. Recently I set a goal of 100 days of 3000 fuel points, which I’m proud to say that I hit! More than once, I was doing a few minutes of jumping jacks before I went to bed to make sure I hit my goal for the day. My wife thought I was nuts, but once I set that goal; I wouldn’t go to bed until I hit it.

For my weight loss clients, I have them set a goal of 3,000 fuel points and a minimum of 7,500 steps per day.

The Nike Fuelband retails for $99 and you can pick it up on the website.

Click here for more information or to pick one up.