Monday, August 30, 2010

Gaining Weight the Healthy Way

I know it is hard to believe, but there are some people who are in need of gaining weight. If you’re not one of them, you may know one of them, so hopefully this post will be helpful! When one is trying to gain weight, it may seem like donuts and big burgers are the way to go; however, in order to keep your risk low for chronic disease, there is a proper way to go about gaining weight. In this post, you will find two lists. The first list contains ideas for weight gain that you should use when trying to gain a moderate amount of weight, but are watching your cholesterol/triglyceride levels. The second list contains ideas for gaining weight when your need for gaining weight outweighs concerns about heart disease, diabetes, etc; or if there is a need for fast weight gain. Some examples for the second list may include patients with Cystic Fibrosis, Failure to Thrive, pregnant women carrying multiple babies, or Cancer Cachexia.

List One

1. Add olive oil to a variety of foods. Examples: sauté vegetables, toss vegetables and add seasoning, sauté fish, drizzle over baked meats, dip whole grain bread in olive oil plus your favorite seasonings.

2. Use mayo on your sandwiches. Contrary to popular belief, this is a pretty healthy fat.

3. Have peanut butter (or other nut butter) with bread or fruit. You can also mix peanut butter into your oatmeal. Yes, natural peanut butter is the best, but full fat peanut butter is fine. Do not buy reduced fat peanut butter because, although total fat is reduced, some of it is replaced with trans fat.

4. Snack on nuts. You can have a trail mix or just nuts…whatever makes you happy!

5. Top salad with nuts and an oil based dressing.

6. Add avocado to anything that sounds good such as salads, sandwiches, crackers, etc.

7. You can consider adding a protein powder to foods or drinks, such as Procel or Propass. Check with a Registered Dietitian first to decide if this is appropriate for you.

8. A supplement drink such as Ensure, Glucerna, Boost, or Carnation Instant Breakfast. Beware of the sugar content in these drinks.

List Two

1. Everything from list one!

2. Milk shakes.

3. Find places to add cheeses, such as on top of meats, sandwiches, breads, etc.

4. Fruit smoothies with full-fat yogurt and protein powder.

5. Be sure to have a protein serving with each meal, such as eggs, chicken, beef, or fish.

Motivational Monday:

I aim to include healthy fats in my diet because it lowers my risk of Alzheimer's Disease!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Overtraining Syndrome: Knowing the Symptoms

Are you working hard, but instead of feeling that energetic spark that you’re supposed to get from exercise, you’re feeling tired and drained? Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your progress and you can’t seem to run any faster or do any better? In fact, do you feel like your athletic abilities are waning? Maybe it is time to consider the possibility that you are overtraining. This can happen to anyone when you are just working your body too hard. You may be very surprised that by taking an extra day of rest or scaling back on the intensity or duration of a few workouts each week your performance improves. Resting is an integral part of any training/exercise program that must be observed to achieve optimal performance and health benefits. Here are some signs to let you know if you are experiencing Overtraining Syndrome. This list is brought to you by ACSM’s Resource Manual For Guidelines For Exercise Testing and Prescription, 5th edition.

Functional Indicators:
1. Decline in physical performance and early onset of fatigue.
2. Decreased desire to train or decreased enjoyment from training or competition.
3. Loss of muscle strength, coordination, and maximal working capacity,
4. Increased submaximal heart rate. (This means that your heart rate is becoming higher at rest and during moderate exercise)
5. Prolonged recovery from typical training sessions or competitive events.
6. Presence of tenderness and soreness in muscles and joints.
7. Overuse injuries.

Metabolic and Psychologic Indicators:
1. Loss of appetite and body weight loss.
2. GI disturbances; occasional nausea.
3. Increased susceptibility to upper respiratory infections (altered immune function).
4. Emotional instability characterized by general fatigue, apathy, depression, and irritability.
5. Sleep disturbances.

Motivational Monday:
I exercise because it gives me more energy to get through the day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sneak More Vegetables Into Your Day

1. Pile your sandwich high with lettuce tomato and other favorites.
2. Top a boring salad with strawberries and walnuts.
3. Finely chop spinach and add it to casseroles such as lasagna.
4. Toss peas, asparagus, carrots, or other vegetables into your pasta dish.
5. Snack on carrots or green peppers dipped in hummus.
6. Top your pizza with your favorite vegetables (go light on the cheese!).
7. Grill vegetable kabobs.
8. Add salsa to your omelet.
9. Try eating your vegetables at the beginning of your meal so that you're not too full after the main course.
10. Decide when and how you will get your 3-5 vegetable servings in the morning, then stick with your plan all day!

Motivational Monday:

I eat at least 3 servings of vegetables daily because they are full of phytochemicals which help to lower my risk for cancer...I'll never get that from a vitamin supplement!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Is Exercise the New Anti-Aging Medicine?

A recent study showed that exercise just might be your ticket to anti-aging! While this news is exciting, remember these results need to be replicated several times before we can really call exercise an “anti-aging fix”.

Two groups of runners were studied, one group being an average age of 20.4 years and the other being 51.1 years. The older group had about 35 years of training history and averaged about 50 miles of running each week. The younger group averaged about 45 miles of running weekly. Two more groups containing inactive, age-matched individuals were also examined.

Because much is already known about changes in cells as we age researchers were able to identify ant-aging markers. More specifically, we know that telomere length is shortened, as we grow older. However, this study found that the active middle-aged group had only a slight, and insignificant, shortening of telomeres when compared to the younger groups. Of course, both active and inactive subjects in the younger groups had no significant difference in their telomere lengths, as they have not aged. The inactive, middle-aged group had significant shortening of their telomeres, signifying aging.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, we don’t really know yet. I am a very active person, but I do not average 45 or 50 miles of running each week! While running is my main mode of exercise, I enjoy biking and other types of exercise. Is the anti-aging effect the same with all activities? What is the minimum weekly exercise needed to achieve this effect? What is the minimum intensity? These are all questions that stem from this research, and I am sure that researchers will be jumping on these questions quickly! Let’s also keep in mind that this research did not include a large number of subjects. I can’t wait to see where this study leads us!

Motivational Monday:

Whether or not exercise will keep me from aging, I do it because I want to be stronger and more energetic as I age.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

Most people have probably heard the old rule that you should drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Just as many other old rules, this one did not arise from scientific evidence. If you already knew that the 64-ounce rule was more of a rough guideline than a fact, you’re probably wondering how much water you really need.

If you check with different people and associations such as the Mayo Clinic, Institute of Medicine, and the American Dietetic Association, you’ll probably get some slightly different advice each time. The reason for these mixed messages is that there really is no perfect formula proven to decide exactly how much fluid a human needs each day. Most of these “mixed” messages all have the same meaning when you get down to it.

In general, if you follow the 64-ounce guideline, that is probably okay given that you are a healthy adult who does not engage in daily rigorous activities. However, you can basically trust your own instincts when it comes to fluid intake. Drink when you are thirsty. When you feel satisfied, you don’t need to keep drinking just to reach a daily ounce requirement. Another checkpoint is to check your urine aiming for a light yellow to clear color. Darker colors often signify dehydration. Remember that any fluid contributes to your body’s fluid requirements. Yes, this includes coffee and soda. Water is always the best, but it all counts. You also receive about 20% of your daily fluid from foods, on average.

Most people are certainly not in danger of this occurring; however, I want to warn everyone that it is indeed possible to die from too much water. This happens when you ingest much more water than electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride) and your fluid to electrolyte ratio becomes imbalanced. This is extremely serious and mostly affects athletes who over hydrate without replacing electrolytes.

Here are some conditions that may increase your fluid needs:

Exercise/physical activity
Spending time outdoors in the heat
Increased fiber intake

Here are some conditions that may decrease your fluid needs:

Congestive heart failure
Kidney (renal) failure

For more personalized information about exactly how much water you should be ingesting, it is best to speak with your health care provider or a registered dietitian.

Motivational Monday:

I avoid sugary drinks! The fact that one sugary drink daily could lead to about a 15 pound weight gain in a year, if I don't burn all of those calories off, is so not worth it!