Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Do You Have Any Tips To Help Me Get My Cardio In?

Hitting your cardio minutes is hugely important when trying to achieve any health or weight loss goal. In our busy lives, this can be a real challenge. Here are a few tips to help you consistently get in those all-important cardio minutes:

1) Make it a priority. I know this sounds simple, and it is. Make it an important part of your day. I have an app on my phone that has a To Do list. I have cardio on this list every day and check it off every day when I finish it.

2) Get a piece of cardio equipment for your home. Exercising outside is awesome, I do it whenever I can. But it is going to rain sometimes, or snow, or be really hot or cold. Having a piece of equipment in your home means you really never have an excuse to miss your exercise session.

3) Combine your cardio with something else you already do. This goes hand in hand with #2 above. When life gets busy, kill 2 birds with one stone by multitasking. Hop on your exercise machine when you are watching TV, catching up on the news or making phone calls.


Mediterranean Diet And Brain Atrophy

The Study

In this 18 month randomized trial, 284 subjects were assigned to a Mediterranean diet or given generic healthy diet guidelines. Brain structure volumes were measured both before and after the intervention with an MRI.

When looking at subjects 50 and older, those in the Mediterranean diet group had an attenuated decline in hippocampal occupancy score. This is a part of the brain that deals with learning and memory. The atrophy of this brain structure is associated with age related neuro-degenerative disease.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1270-81.

Take Home Message

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with numerous health benefits for decades in the research literature. This study provides evidence that it may also slow age-related cognitive decline.

The authors theorized that the diet’s positive impact on glycemic control, weight loss and blood pressure could be possible reasons for the association found in this investigation.

It is a great idea to follow a Mediterranean diet. It is also pretty easy to follow:

Carbs:  Focus on fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

Fats: Focus on healthy vegetable oils like olive oil and canola oil, nuts, nut butters, seeds and avocados.

Protein: Focus on lean meats like chicken and turkey, seafood, low fat dairy, beans and other legumes.

Strictly limit: Refined carbs (added sugars, bread, pasta, white rice), processed meat and red meat.


Sugar Consumption And Risk Of Colon Cancer

The Study

In this interesting study, 121,111 subjects from Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study had their sugar consumption measured and were followed for over 28 years for incidence of colon cancer. Some of the most important results include:

-Sugar sweetened beverages were associated with a significantly increased risk of proximal colon cancer. Each serving per day increased risk by 18%.

-Sugar sweetened beverages were associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from proximal colon cancer. Each serving per day increase risk by 39%.

-Added sugar was also significantly associated with incidence and mortality of proximal colon cancer.

-Substituting a diet soda with a sugar sweetened soda each day actually reduced risk of proximal colon cancer incidence (by 19%) and mortality (25%).

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1481-89.

Take Home Message

You can add this to the list of 100 reasons to avoid sugar. The mechanism here is thought to be one of 2 things:

-Fructose has been shown to increase tumor metabolism and growth. When you eat a lot of sugar, which is high in fructose, you overwhelm your ability to digest it in the small intestine and it spills into the large intestine where it can come into contact with colon polyps and tumors.

-High sugar intake means high insulin levels. Insulin is also hypothesized to increase tumor growth.

It is also interesting to see that diet soda was associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer when taking the place of sugar sweetened soda. Many think that non-nutritive sweeteners are far more harmful than sugar, but the research literature keeps proving the opposite.

Update On The Safety And Efficacy Of Intermittent Fasting

I recently came across 3 new studies that examined the safety and efficacy of intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy. I thought a quick summary of these articles would make for a nice post since I get so many questions on fasting from my clients.

Study #1

In this first study, 81 overweight subjects were randomized to one of two groups. One group consumed a normal calorie reduced diet. The other consumed the same diet, but restricted eating to a 10 hour window. After 39 weeks, there were no differences in the amount of weight lost. In other words, intermittent fasting resulted in no more weight loss than eating your meals spaced out normally (Reference 1).

Study #2

In this cross-sectional study, 1,047 older adults had their diets assessed by means of a food frequency questionnaire. Blood was also taken and cardiovascular disease biomarkers were measured. Longer fasting time was associated with lower HDL cholesterol, higher potassium levels and lower chloride levels. Although many believe that fasting improves cardiovascular disease risk factors, these are mildly detrimental associations (Reference 2).

Study #3

In this trial, 139 obese subjects were randomized to one of two groups:

-A time restricted eating group that limited food consumption to the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

-A normal calorie restricted group.

Each group had a goal of 1200 calories per day for the women and 1500 calories for the men. After 12 months, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups (Reference 3).

Conclusions And Recommendations

The evidence is really starting to mount that intermittent fasting is not an effective or even a healthy way to lose weight. 

These studies, and other included in previous blog posts have shown that:

-Fasting is no more effective for weight loss than a more conventional, 3 meal a day approach.

-Fasting can have a negative impact on HDL and LDL cholesterol.

-Fasting can have a negative impact on blood glucose regulation.

-Fasting can have a negative impact on inflammation.

-Fasting increases hunger.

-Fasting has been shown to decrease metabolic rate, so you burn fewer calories in a day that you fast.

-Fasting has been shown to lower levels of physical activity.

-Fasting has been shown to have a negative impact on sleep.

-It is harder to adhere to a fasting protocol than a 3 meal a day plan.

-Fasting may lead to an increase in muscle loss.

If you want to see some of the research quoted above, click on this link.

From my viewpoint, enough research has accumulated to conclude that fasting is not the way to go if you want to lose weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease and/or improve your quality of life.

Three, spaced out meals a day is the best option to help you lose weight, keep your blood sugar stable for all day energy and will allow you enough eating opportunities to make sure you are getting adequate fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.


1) Thomas EA, et al. Early time restricted eating compared with daily caloric restriction: A randomized trial of adults with obesity. Obesity 2022; 30:1027-38.

2) Estrada-DeLeon DB, et al. Association of prolonged nightly fasting with cardiovascular, renal, inflammation, and nutritional status biomarkers in community dwelling older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1282-1289.

3) Liu D, et al. Calorie restriction with or without time restricted eating in weight loss. New England Journal of Medicine 2022; 386:1495-504.