Sunday, March 13, 2016

If I Am Not Hungry, Is It OK To Skip Breakfast?

It has been a really big surprise to me as a nutritionist to learn just how many people don’t eat breakfast in the morning.  I, for one, am starving when I wake up and have been ever since I have been a little kid. I don’t know how anyone can wait until lunch for their first calories of the day. Either way, I am often asked if it is OK to skip breakfast, particularly by those looking to lose weight.

Will skipping breakfast impact one’s ability to lose weight?
The research goes back and forth on this one and I don’t think we really do know for sure. I have seen evidence of a decreased weight loss in breakfast skippers and I have seen evidence that there is no difference in weight loss when comparing breakfast eaters to those who skip breakfast.

I can tell you this anecdotally, in the last 15 years, every one of my clients who hits their goal weight eats breakfast. Here is my theory as to why it is important:

Since humans evolved in times of famine and food scarcity, I feel that over the years our bodies developed defense mechanisms to protect us from these events.

When food starts to get in short supply, I believe that our body tries to prevent fat stores from dropping too low. This is accomplished 2 ways. #1) Our metabolism slows down so it takes fewer calories to get through a day. #2) In an effort to preserve fat stores, we start to burn muscle for energy. There is evidence of this in the research literature. When people lose weight by really restricting their calories, you start to see a lower metabolic rate and a significant loss of lean body mass.

Say you eat dinner at 6:30 PM, go to bed, skip breakfast and eat at noon the next day. You have gone 17½ hours without eating food, almost a full day. I believe that this does bad things to your metabolism and makes it harder to lose weight. It is also my opinion that when the body notices a steady and consistent supply of calories every few hours, it is more likely to release its fat stores, and that is why I don’t like my clients to skip breakfast. Again this is my theory, I don’t think there has been enough research on these defense mechanisms to prove or disprove them.

Some other reasons to eat breakfast:
1) It will help keep your blood sugar stable, which has a very nice impact on your energy, mood and ability to focus.

2) When you skip breakfast, you tend to make up the calories by snacking. In general, snack foods aren’t as healthy as planned meals.

3) I don’t think it is possible to get all of the good nutrition your body needs in a day in just two meals. Eating three meals makes it much easier to hit goals for fruits, vegetables, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, anti-oxidants, etc.

So in conclusion, everyone should eat a healthy breakfast. This is especially important if you are trying to drop a few pounds.


Prebiotic Consumption And Risk Of Weight Gain

The Study
Prebiotics are fermentable carbohydrates that our body can’t digest. They have the ability to alter the composition of our gut microbiota and are thought to confer a number of health benefits. However, most studies on prebiotics have been on animals and research in humans is sparse.

In this investigation, 8,569 normal weight subjects from the Spanish Sun Project cohort had their diet measured by a food frequency questionnaire and self reported their weight every two years. The subjects were split up into 4 groups according to their consumption of prebiotics. After 9 years of follow-up, the group consuming the most prebiotics had a 13% lower risk of becoming overweight when compared to those consuming the least. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 102:1554-62.

Take Home Message
The connection between our gut bacteria and our weight is fascinating and is still in the process of being elucidated. There really does seem to be a connection. Prebiotics are used as an energy substrate by healthy bacteria in the gut that convert them into short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids are thought to influence levels of certain hormones, like peptide YY and glucagons-like peptide 1, that may influence satiety and decrease food consumption. 

In this cohort, most of the prebiotics that were consumed came from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. If you need yet another reason to eat these healthy foods with regularity, here you have it.

Diet Soda Vs. Water For Weight Loss

The Study
Sixty-two obese and overweight women initiated the same weight loss plan, which included a low calorie diet and 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  Half of the women were told to drink at least one diet beverage after lunch and the other half were told to eliminate diet beverages and drink only water. Body weight and several metabolic indicators were measured both before and after the 24 week intervention. Both groups lost a significant amount of weight. The diet soda drinkers lost an average of 16.7 lbs., while the water drinkers lost 19.4 lbs. Furthermore, the women drinking the water had a statistically significant improvement in insulin sensitivity when compared to the diet soda drinkers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 102:1305-12.

Take Home Message
This was a very well designed trial that taught us a few things: 1) Water is, far and away, the beverage of choice for weight loss. 2) Drinking diet soda regularly does not prevent weight loss, if the diet and exercise program is strong. A couple of studies I have read in the past few years hypothesized that consistent diet soda consumption interfered with the ability to lose weight. This study shows evidence that this is not true. However, the water drinkers lost more weight over the 24 weeks and had an improvement in insulin sensitivity, which translates to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

If weight loss is your goal, make water your primary beverage. If you love diet soda, have a couple a week as a treat.  If you are drinking a lot of regular soda now, switching to diet can be a nice and easy option to start the scale moving in the right direction as you transition yourself to water as your go to beverage.


Product Review: Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells

Working out at home makes a lot of sense. Most of us are busy, and not having to drive to a gym, park the car and get changed can save us some serious time. Exercising at home can also can save you a lot of money. You can take one year’s worth of gym dues and make a really nice little home gym that will last you a decade or longer. When deciding on the type of weights to include in your home gym, there is a lot to think about, including; the price of the system, the space you have available, and what exercises you want to be able to do. 

Bowflex SelecTtech Dumbbells are a great choice for any home gym. These are dumbbells that have a dial on the side that allow you to change the resistance from 5 to 50 pounds in 5 pound increments (and even 2½ lbs. increments for the first 20 lbs.). If you want them to be 20 lbs, you simply turn the dials to 20 and you’re ready to go. I’ve had a set of these for years and have been really happy with them. Following are some of the pro’s and con’s of these dumbbells.

1) Very easy to change the resistance. If you have plate loaded weights with collars, it can take you a few minutes between exercises to adjust the weights. This can disrupt your work/rest interval and add significantly to your workout time. With the Bowflex weights, the change is instantaneous.

2) Look and act like regular dumbbells. Other adjustable dumbbell systems have an unusual shape with a handle in the middle of the dumbbell. This makes it hard to do exercises like overhead back or triceps presses. The Bowflex system can be held like a regular dumbbell, so you can do anything with them.

3) A Serious space saver. This adjustable dumbbell set takes the place of an entire wall of individual dumbbells. This is important if you are in an apartment or only have a small amount of space to devote to your home gym.

4) Very well made. These dumbbells are very durable. I’ve had mine for years and they look like they just came out of the box. There are no signs of wear and tear at all.

5) Do not roll when you place them on the floor. This may be a minor issue for some, but there is nothing worse to me than laying down your dumbbells in between sets and having to chase them around the room. The Bowflex dumbbells lay flat and don’t roll around.  

6) You can increase the weight by 2.5 lbs. increments all they way up to 22.5 lbs. with these dumbbells. Sometimes an increase from 10 lbs. to 12.5 lbs., rather than to 15 lbs. is appropriate and this is a nice option to have.

1) The only con I can come up with is the price. Right now on Amazon, they are $290.67 for the set that goes from 5 to 52 lbs. Now, if you bought pairs of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 lb dumbbells individually, you’d spend a lot more than $290. However, if you bought plate loaded dumbbells with collars, you’d spend a lot less.

Would I Recommend the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbell system?
Absolutely. They are a bit on the pricey side, but they have really changed the way I can workout at home. I can switch weights in between exercises and even in between sets, with ease. My workouts are now more fluid and overall quicker to get through. I love the space saving aspect as well. I recommend them highly. Several of my clients over the years have purchased these and they have all been just as happy with them.

If you are interested in picking these up, they are available all over, but currently has the best price and free Prime shipping.