Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Diet And Arthritis

The Study
The relationship between diet and arthritis progression was examined in 2,757 subjects with existing knee arthritis. Subjects in this study tended to eat two different types of diets. The Western Dietary pattern was high in French fries, red and processed meats, sugar, refined grains and pizza. The Prudent Dietary pattern was high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish and whole grains. After 6 years of follow-up, subjects consuming the Western diet had a significant progression of their arthritis. Subjects consuming the Prudent diet had a significant decreased progression of knee arthritis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2020; 111:667-676.  

Take Home Message
This is a fascinating study. The idea that your diet can impact something like arthritis progression is powerful stuff. There are two potential mechanisms. One is that eating the unhealthy Western diet promoted weight gain, which speeds up arthritis progression. This is not the only mechanism because when body weight was controlled for, the relationships persisted. It is also possible that the Western diet promoted inflammation while the Prudent diet decreased it. There are about 1,000 reasons to eat a healthy diet. It looks like we can add improving orthopedic health to the list.

Muscle Loss And Weight Regain

The Study
In this interesting trial, 209 subjects went on an 8-week low calorie diet and lost at least 8% of their initial body weight. At the end of their weight loss, body composition was measured via DEXA scan. Over 30% of lost weight was muscle in these subjects. The amount of muscle lost was a borderline significant predictor of weight regain (p-value of .055). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2020; 111:536-44.

Take Home Message
It is very common to regain lost weight. A big reason why this happens is that we lose muscle when we lose weight without resistance training. Muscle burns 3 times as many calories as fat and muscle loss can have a negative and significant impact on metabolic rate. 

This study shows that the amount of muscle lost during the weight loss process tended to predict weight regain. The good news is that there is a highly effective way to limit the amount of muscle lost as you lose weight. You simply lift weights 2-3 times a week. Weight lifting is often overlooked by those attempting to lose weight but is essential if you want to keep the weight you lose off for good.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Are You Weighing Yourself Correctly?

If you are trying to lose weight, it is imperative that you weigh yourself consistently and with accuracy. Since I often get questions from clients about the best way to do this, I thought it would make a nice feature article for readers of my blog and newsletter.

Why is it so important to weigh yourself each week?
There are two reasons why it is critically important to weigh yourself each and every week:

-The first reason is simply to find out what is going on. Bad habits can sneak in quietly and if you think you are getting away with them, you won’t be able to stop them. A weekly weight reading keeps you aware of where things are going.

-The second reason is to help you identify patterns. When you lose weight, study what you did right. When you gain weight, study what you did wrong. Assigning a consequence to a behavior is critical to learning whether or not you should continue or avoid that behavior. Over a period of months, you will learn exactly what you must do to lose weight and exactly what causes you to gain weight. Consider your weigh in a data point to help you gauge your program and make any necessary adjustments.

How to weigh yourself accurately and consistently
1) It all starts with an accurate scale. I am a big fan of Tanita Iron man scales. These are research quality scales that also let you measure your body fat. They are a bit more expensive than your typical scale but last for years and years. You can pick these up on Amazon.com and learn more about them at Tanita.com. I have been using one of the IronMan series for years and love it.

2) Weigh yourself one time a week, first thing in the morning, in your underwear, before you eat or drink anything. If you had a cheat meal with refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta or white rice, a particularly salty meal or a few drinks containing alcohol, it is perfectly normal to retain a few pounds of water. This can impact your weigh in, so find a day to weigh yourself when you have been eating clean for at least 2 full days. Most of my clients splurge on Wednesday and Saturday nights, so a Wednesday morning or Saturday morning weigh in is perfect. Record your weight in a log to make it easy to keep track of trends.

3) Lastly, keep the right mental attitude when weighing yourself. A lot of my clients got very nervous about their weekly scale reading at first. If they did not lose weight, they would get upset and feel like they failed. It is totally normal to have weeks where you don’t drop weight and weeks where you even gain weight along the way. Don’t freak out if this happens here and there. Look at the weigh in for what it is, a weekly data point to help you gauge your progress, keep you focused and make any necessary adjustments to your program.