Diet, Exercise, General Health, Motivation, Q&A

Q & A: Can people who exercise “get away” with poor food choices?

My short answer is Yes and No…

In a small study of  two groups of 7 participants, one group exercised for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity or higher at least 3 times a week. The other group worked out less often and less intense than the first group. 

All 14 participants were fed the same high fat 960 calorie breakfast meal. (2220 mg sodium, 48 g of fat, including 16 g saturated fat and 4.5 g trans fat..280mg. cholesterol)

After the high fat meal, they measured obstruction of blood flow in the brachial artery (-the one just above your elbow crease on your arm)..The less active group showed a greater obstruction of blood flow through the artery- it was narrowed,  while the more active exercisers had no change.

Both groups experienced an increase in triglycerides (triglycerides are an ester of glycerol and 3 fatty acid groups. High levels of triglycerides indicate an increased risk of stroke.) The more highly active group’s triglycerides rose by 47% but the less active group increased triglycerides by a whopping 184%

While exercise is protective against disease, and people who exercise may be more able to get away with poor food choices, but not on a regular basis. 

Johnson, B.D. et al. “Vascular consequences of a High-Fat Meal in physically active and Inactive adults.’  Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism, 36, no3. (2011) 368-375

Diet, General Health

Which DIET is BEST?

While I’m reasonably certain of what will work best to keep me mentally sharp, performing well in the gym and emotionally even in terms of my nutrition, I’m an agnositc when it comes to my belief about whether that method is the right one or the best one for YOU.

First, let’s be sure we are on the same page. When I say DIET, most people hear the word restriction. When I say the word diet, I just mean the habitual pattern of what you eat on a day to day basis.

I know there are people who are devoutly Vegan or Low-Carb or Paleo or eat within a specific time window or High Fat or High Carb, Gluten-Free, Keto, Kosher, Hallal, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, or any variety of nutritional lifestyle and many of them think their way is the BEST way.  However, I know from working with real clients over many years that different things work for different people. I actually think any of these could probably work depending on one’s situation.

If you like to cook, or don’t like to cook, have food allergies, have a big or small food budget, have a lot or a little nutrition knowledge, have GENES or diseases that predispose you to gain or lose weight on certain diets or require certain foods be added or omitted from your diet all coalesce into what your perfect diet is for YOU.

You may be wondering how it is that someone like myself who has studied nutrition and fitness could endorse such wildly different and sometimes conflicting diets depending on the person, and how I could even coach nutrition under such circumstances. The answer is that most nutrition programs accomplish certain cornerstone habits which are necessary in a healthy lifestyle.

In other words, when I coach clients in nutrition I don’t prescribe a diet or a particular menu though I may make some suggestions in the way that fits their lifestyle.. taking into consideration things like:

~ Cooking Experience and Knowledge

~ Stage of life (big family, small family, living alone)

~ Time

~ Budget

~ Allergies

~ Genetic variables (For clients interested in high fat or high protein diets I often suggest a DNA test to see if they are good candidates for such a diet in the long-term since some plans can require intense commitments. If a diet could feel overly restrictive given their social and entertaining calendars or those of other family members or their genetics indicate it would yield poor results at the outset they will have the information to make a more well informed decision as a result of the DNA test.)

Speaking of genetic variables, 23 and me is offering 50% off their Health and ancestry kit One of the health kits they offer can help you know if you are predisposed to be successful on a high or low fat diet for your individual metabolism and more.

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If you would like a FREE tool to help assess if your current diet is actually working for you, click HERE for a questionnaire to help you decide

Body Image, Diet, Exercise, General Health

Is Obesity a CHOICE?

Trigger Warning: 

This post involves discussions of Weight. If such topics are distressing or triggering to you please consider employing self-care tools and strategies which may include not reading this.

A February 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association reveals how the pandemic has led to unwanted weight gain.42% of US adults gained unwanted weight during the pandemic.52% of Gen Z adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 28 pounds.48% of millennials report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 41 pounds.Yet despite these statistics, for better health and a longer life span, exercise is more important than weight loss.

 An interesting new scientific review of the relationships between fitness, weight, heart health and longevity found that obese people typically lower their risks of heart disease and premature death far more by gaining fitness than by dropping weight or dieting.

The review adds to mounting evidence that most of us can be healthy at any weight, if we are also active enough.

Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University in Phoenix (My alma matter, BTW), found overweight and obese people with significant health problems, including high blood pressure, poor cholesterol profiles or insulin resistance, a marker for Type 2 diabetes, showed considerable improvements in those conditions after they started exercising, whether they dropped any weight or not. The studies show that even if no weight is lost, obese and formerly sedentary individuals can  lower their risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent or more.

And now, because the science needs to also explain that water is wet:

“Some past research shows that people who start to exercise rarely lose much, if any, weight, unless they also cut back substantially on food intake because the exercise they are doing burns too few calories and because they compensate for some caloric burn during exercise by eating more calories afterwards.”

This information begs the question: Is Obesity a Choice?

This short answer is..not usually. Sure genetics and bone structure, genes and upbringing play a part. However, some of us eat more and/or move less when stressed or anxious or depressed.. and for others its just the opposite! Some of us find sweet foods satisfying in some situations and salty in others (hint: there are actual biological reasons for craving salty in some situations and sweet in others–and its part of the glorious way or bodies are pre-programmed for survival).

Sometimes people are making choices, but they are only semi-conscious of them-for instance out of self-harm as a trauma response. Other times we don’t even know we are making choices because we are simply unaware of alternatives or we have never been educated about the way that stimuli such as emotions and specific foods trigger different responses within the body that set us up for a cascade of effects that are displayed visually or on our bloodwork results…

Information like how to combine which foods to achieve stable blood sugar and lower insulin response. A sensitive balanced insulin response can increase your sensitivity to feelings of hunger and fullness. That is necessary for true agency in one’s health outcomes (and visual outcomes). Listening to one’s body only works well when the body is working to give us those signals otherwise the whole system is rigged against us succeeding from the start (if our goal is to “listen to the body”).

There is a whole science behind options including which foods to combine or eat and when if you want to decrease cravings overall. Or which foods can make you feel fuller longer or think more clearly or have more energy.  Which type of exercises performed which way for how long will make you hungrier and which will enable you to feel more full after the workout. If you would like to know more about those things, so you are more empowered to make changes smarter not harder,  it is something I coach my 1:1 Private clients on.

Some people say, I can’t train with you Kayla, you’ve never been overweight like me. I have never been you, but there have been times I was overweight (5’5″ 172lb not pregnant, and 175 when pregnant) and I have also been mocked for appearing underweight (young teen), Fortunately I have mostly been in the normal range. I have discovered ways to hack the system both from reading and studying and talking to pros about it to be more stable over time and some of it has to do with hearing relatives who do have a good relationship with their bodies and food while growing up-which helps me reflect back to my clients when something seems off track.  I’ve survived illnesses, injuries, and other setbacks. I’ve had a few pregnancies too…and struggled sometimes there too.  Its important to select a trainer and coach (sometimes a counselor and/or RD) who does get you and who you are comfortable with and have the conversations so it can become more of a choice that your body is rigged to help you with instead of fighting with your body.