Tag Archives: fat

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Do Calories Matter? – Part 4

We’re on to PART 4! This is the longest series of blog posts I’ve ever done. Evidently, there is a lot more to talk about! These are just the highlights of a much bigger picture.


Let’s do a quick recap379302_325658287555375_1376847731_n.21

The flaws of the calorie centric view:

  • Humans are not perfect machines (cannot apply the concept of calories in/calories out). Equations are pretty much useless. Just use it as a GUIDE. Your life does not depend on it!
  • It goes against the Second Law of Thermodynamics
  • Calorie counting does not take into account the quality of foods and its metabolic effects on hunger, appetite, energy usage/storage, satiety etc
  • Many factors affect metabolism – environment, genetics etc
  • It is possible to increase fatness on a reduced calorie diet (on high GI foods) [1] SURPRISE SURPRISE!
  • Quality of diet can affect/induce anabolism (fat storage)
 Quick links to Part 1, 2 and 3!

QUALITY over QUANTITY

A calorie focussed mind would lookout for foods that are low/-er in calories. Since FAT is calorie dense, it immediately gets a bad rep. Low fat foods are usually high in refined carbs/starches. That’s because most times, when you take something out, you need to fill it with something else!
Even if they are not “empty calories” per se (containing vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants etc), these foods that are high in processed, artificial refined carbs/starches are DETRIMENTAL to health, causing harm to the body and metabolic dysfunction [2].
What to eat?
NUTRITION over CALORIES
 Tips-How-to-Pick-Good-Dog-Food-Ingredients-Dog-Food
Low refined sugar/carbs/starches
If you are going to eat carbs, go for WHOLE minimally processed ones. Starchy vege (sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro, pumpkin, squash etc) and fruits are great options. When going for rice/pasta/bread, think brown/red/wild/black. These are more nutrient dense. Refined options have been stripped of their vitamins, minerals and fibre. You’re basically just eating sugar.
Fats
The only bad fat here is highly processed trans fat. Go for fats found naturally in olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, dairy products, real butter, fat from meat and fish. These are all high in a good combination of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Protein
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt).2016-10-21-1477056674-8700239-homer
How much of each macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) to eat is different for each individual. Get a dietitian to do the work. ;D

Gut Health

This is a growing area of research. The little bacteria in your gut is SO important!
Research has now shown that WHAT you eat affects the little bacteria world in your gut. You might need to rethink your zero-calorie artificial sweeteners! They have been shown to have the potential to alter your gut microbiome [3]. ANY disruption to this balance can possibly lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease and a decreased immune system [4].stomach-bacteria
The quality of food, prebiotics (food for healthy gut bacteria), probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) and antibiotics affect the overall balance of gut bacteria.
Sources of prebiotics: Prebiotics are the fibre foods that cannot be digested. Onions, garlic, asparagus, unripe bananas, artichokes are great sources. These are “eaten” and considered food for your gut bacteria.
Sources of probiotics: Fermented foods like yoghurts, kefir, tempeh, miso, kombucha, saukraut etc. Different brands use different strains of bacteria and the amount it contains varies.
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These are beneficial but there is very little research that shows how much pre/probiotics to consume, exactly which strain (is best), the quality and how much of it actually stays in our gut after consumption [5].

Physical Activity

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
JUST GET UP AND GET MOVING!
Any form of physical activity is better than NOTHING. Pick something that you like and JUST DO IT!

Rest
Sleep has become a luxury and stress has now become commonplace in our lives.
How do these affect weight and metabolism?
Stress stimulates the body to release cortisol, which is the hormone involved in CRAVINGS. “Stress eating” is real.Processed with Snapseed.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the hunger hormone kicks in.
Together, they have an influence on food intake and fat storage.


When you focus on QUALITY and pay attention to your natural body cues, you wouldn’t need to be whipping out your calculator and counting everything.
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 Key points to remember:

-Focus on the SOURCE of calories and not calorie counts

-Eat REAL, MINIMALLY processed, WHOLE, FRESH, NUTRIENT dense foods

The GOLDEN rule is: If it is packaged, highly processed with ingredients that you can barely pronounce with loud “health claims”, don’t buy it!

-Achieving optimum hormonal balance and metabolic function is KEY

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Do Calories Matter? – Part 1

Hey Hey Hey!

How have you guys been?

Can you believe that we are halfway through the month of MAY?!


I just want to take a moment to say THANK YOU for following/reading my blog. Especially to those that have been around since I started blogging!

To me, the numbers don’t matter. As long as I am able to make a small difference/influence somewhere, ALL my effort is worth it.

I will try to blog more often, so do subscribe to my blog to receive the LATEST (and the greatest. Baahahhahhaha! #jokes) stuff in your mailbox! *The subscription tab is on the top right corner*


Quick life update:

DONE with clinical placement! YASSSSS!IMG_2513

I’m currently on community placement (Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics) with my classmate, Tegan. So far, we’ve been creating content for eNews, tip sheets and updating the food database.

During our first 2 weeks, we worked on a presentation – “The Calorie Controversy” – for our supervisor to present at FILEX 2017 (An educational conference by the world’s leading health and fitness experts!).

Let’s just say we found some pretty compelling stuff. I will be sharing glimpses of what we found. 😉


It will be a series of several blog posts under the title “Do Calories Matter?”

Counting calories? Calories in = Calories out?Image result for counting calories

For this post, we will look at what a calorie is.


Before we even begin talking about whether or not calories matter, WHAT exactly is a calorie? What does the body use energy for?

Calorie and Joule

A calorie is the amount of energy that is needed to raise the temp of 1 Kg of water by 1 degree at room temp.

Joule is the SI unit of energy. It is the work that is needed to move 1 Kg of an object with a force of 1 Newton by 1 metre in the direction of the force.

Fun fact: The zettajoule (ZJ) is equal to one sextillion (1021) joules. A yottajoule (YJ) is equal to one septillion (1024) joules. Just thought that sounded pretty cool.

Ok, enough of the JOULE. I’m a calorie person. Here’s the conversion:

1 kcal = 4.182 kJ

*Both units commonly used to represent ENERGY in food*

How do we know how much energy is in food?

Image result for bomb calorimeter

By using the bomb calorimeter. Food is basically torched and the heat produced represents the energy content.

Food provides energy and nutrients. But where does it all go?

Image result for daily energy expenditure

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Our bodies need energy to do all of the above (image).

Basal metabolic rate: Energy needed to keep you alive at REST *Note that this is a huge chunk of your daily energy expenditure (60-75%!)*

Thermic effect of food: Energy needed to digest food

NEAT: Movement that is not exercise: fidgeting, cooking, going to the car etc

Activity: Physical activity: Running, swimming etc

Related image

What is it in food that provides energy?

Carbohydrate 1g = 4 kcal

Protein 1g = 4 kcal

Fat 1g = 9 kcal

Alcohol 1g = 7 kcal

Image result for healthy food photography

How much energy or how many calories do we need?

That depends. Everyone is different. You can work it out here. But there are many things that can influence this (genetics, weight, height, body composition, health, hormones etc). Even activity levels are highly variable. We cannot truly be sure how much we really need. But of course, it gives you a rough estimate.


Now we know what a calorie is and what our bodies use the energy for!

The burning question is: Do calories REALLY matter?

Stay tuned for WHY weight gain is not simply calories in > calories out or why weight loss is not just calories in < calories out!

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7 Ways to BOOST Your METABOLISM!

Following from the previous post on plateaus, we know that our unique METABOLISM plays a big role.

Does your metabolism need a BOOST?Photo 24-04-2017, 11 43 23 am

Check out what you need to do (or not do):

1. Lean Machine

A lean and mean MUSCLE machine that is. Yep, muscles NEED A LOT OF FOOD! Having more muscle mass means that your body is burning more calories… EVEN AT REST! How good is that?!IMG_3066

1 Kg of muscle burns about 10 kcal/day (1). So, if you gain 1 Kg of muscle, you burn an additional 3650 kcal/year.

2. Eat WHOLE foods

When it comes to eating, QUALITY matters! Besides eating a “well balanced” meal of protein, fat and carbs, pay attention to the QUALITY!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Highly processed/packaged foods can really wreck your metabolism! Foods that have added refined sugar can send your insulin levels through the roof. Insulin is one of the hormones that signals your body to store fat, especially around the waist.

The safest option? STICK TO WHOLE FOODS! Fresh is BEST!

3. Eat ENOUGH for YOU

Your metabolism drops when you don’t eat enough! The resting energy expenditure (REE) is what your body burns at rest.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Your body is always looking out for you. When you’re not eating enough, it senses “danger” and tries to hold on to whatever reserves it has as your body does not know when is the next time that you will eat.

Under eating leads to energy imbalances and changes to hormone levels (leptin and tyroxine) (2). Essentially, when these hormones decrease, your body stores fat and REE decreases.

4. Get MOVING

Any form of physical activity increases your daily energy expenditure. The more active you are, the more energy you burn!Photo 15-04-2017, 11 25 20 am

5. HIIT

It is good to have 1-2 days of high intensity activity – the kind that leaves you huffing and puffing! This can also increase energy expenditure even after you’re done (3).Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Ticking all the right boxes with my Garmin FR 235!

6. Sleep

We all LOVE SLEEPING BUT most of the time we fail to prioritise it. We get caught up with social media/work/life and end up skimping on sleep.

 

sleep and weight

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Your body NEEDS to rest. Your hormones go haywire when you don’t have enough sleep! In the long term, it could affect your metabolism and lead to weight gain.

 

sleep and weight gain

Source

 

Also, you’re less likely to be physically active the next day when you’re tired! This means less daily energy expenditure!

7. STRESS

We are ALL stressed out at some point in our lives. Work, school, sports, food, security, money, love, friendship… LIFE!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

When you’re stress, the body thinks you’re in “danger“. The hormone cortisol comes out to play. When you’re constantly stressed, cortisol hangs around. Overtime, it can lead to insulin resistance and fat being stored around your waist (4). Again, it will mess with your metabolism!


What can we learn from this?Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

EAT right. Sleep well. MOVE. Chill

Make these simple steps a HABIT. That way, you wouldn’t even have to THINK about it. It becomes second nature.

If you feel stuck, GET HELP! A personal trainer, a dietitian, a friend, Google etc.

GET UP and MOVE!

Time to BOOST your metabolism!

Contact me if you need any help.

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Fat Loading: Does it work?

*I apologize in advance for all the drool worthy fatty food pics*

I can’t say this enough, our bodies are AMAZING. Why? Simply because we are capable of adapting to our immediate environment in so many ways!

As you can see from my previous posts, we are highly adaptable creatures. Train hard enough and you are able to run that much faster because your body has made the necessary changes to adapt to it.

In this context, going on a high fat diet would force your body to utilise it more efficiently.FullSizeRender_1

I know what you must be thinking: YAY! Another reason to go on a high fat diet! Of course, it is NOT as simple as it looks. If it was, obesity and other metabolic diseases would not exist because we’d all be super fat burners!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis spells: H-E-A-R-T A-T-T-A-C-K !

Previously, we explored how endurance training can help us become efficient fat burners.

Let’s take a look at Fat Loading:

A few studies have found that in general, fat loading does improve performance during endurance based activities [1 , 2]. During an endurance event, intramuscular triglycerides (muscle fats) contribute a significant amount of the total fats used [3]. Consumption of a high fat diet has been shown to enhance the utilisation and storage of these muscle fats. This is the adaptation seen when undergoing endurance training.

However, note that high fat diets only seem to improve time to exhaustion in moderate intensity activities [4].  This is hardly the case in real world racing where there will be times of acceleration, uphill surges, midway and finishing sprints which are moments of high intensity bouts. Such a diet will not work for shorter higher intensity races (5K or 10K race) [5]. Also, a prolonged high fat diet seems to impair endurance performance [1].

The Protocol

Remember that you are not depending on just ONE TYPE OF FUEL at any one time during a race, it is a combination of the different types of fuel. Research has found that it was better to have the best of both worlds – a hybrid diet. A typical fat loading protocol would include a few weeks (1-1.5 weeks) of high fat diet to stimulate the fat oxidation capacity followed by a period (2-3 days) of high carbohydrate diet preceding a race to top off glycogen stores [6].

If you start off with low glycogen levels, performance will indeed be impaired!IMG_6893

Carbs and fat!

The Downside

There’s always a downside. The thing about fat loading is that while it enhances fat metabolism at moderate intensity activities, the use of glucose as a source of fuel is impaired. Studies have found that prolonged fat loading has been associated with a decrease in hexokinase activity (enzyme involved in the first step to using glucose as fuel) and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity (another enzyme involved in using pyruvate as fuel) in trained individuals [7]. This can affect the individual when the demands for muscle carbohydrates are high.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Personal Thoughts

I’ve gone through many research papers and they all seem to have very different results/conclusions due to the heterogeneity of the trials.

Every individual is different. Some people can thrive on a high fat diet whereas the same diet might leave another person sick in the stomach. It is quite hard to screen for people who can adapt well to high fat diets to improve performance.

FullSizeRenderJust when I thought I could EAT ALL I WANT!

I personally don’t think I can go on a high fat diet. I have not tried though! But I guess for anything below the marathon distance, going on a high fat diet does not give any significant benefits.

Energy gels are readily provided throughout a race to help you avoid the dreaded bonk and maintain blood glucose levels.

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However, if you are planning to explore ultraendurance events, it may be worth your time to give this protocol a go. *At your own risk!* Experiment with 7 days of high fat diet followed by 2 days of carbo loading before an endurance event, who knows, it just might help!

*Don’t try this before your race though, practice first!*

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At the end of the day, TRAINING is inevitable! It guarantees improved performance and turning you into an efficient FAT BURNER!

Proper training coupled with a wholesome well-balanced diet DURING training is much more important when it comes to improving your performance.

I am curious to know what you think! :)

Keep Running!

 

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Fat and Running

Hello!

Hope you guys have been keeping well. I have not been blogging consistently. WHOOPS! I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed (in a good way!)! Please bear with me on this one. Life is getting a little bit more exciting and I hope to be able to share the good news with you guys soon!


If you’ve been following my posts lately, you will notice that I’ve been talking about FUEL and RUNNING.

Just a quick recap:

We talked about carbohydrates, how to maximise our stores (glycogen stores) before a run and how to reduce dependence on these stores during a run!

An important point to note is that carbohydrate stores, both in our liver and muscles, ARE LIMITED.


Thankfully, our bodies have another source of energy – FAT!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis just spells F-A-T

Fat is basically UNLIMITED. You can’t run out of fat. If you do, you’ll die.

From the above statement, you can see why tapping into your fat stores would be an advantage. If you can train your body to increase its reliance on fat stores, you will be a fairly good endurance runner!

Fat is stored in adipose tissue (fat cells) and muscle.

FAT CELLS

Pinch the side on your tummy and you’d probably be pinching some FAT. Fat cells are found all over the body: abdominal area, buttocks, hips and under the skin. The more we eat, the more fat we store and it becomes our energy reserve.

However, storage fat is not essential for health and too much of it increases the risk of certain diseases.

MUSCLE FATS

Fat stored in muscle is known as intramuscular triglycerides. Found throughout skeletal muscles, they are available for immediate use during exercise [1].

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The story is not as straight forward for fat cells (compared to muscle fats). Storage fat needs to be broken down into fatty acids and transported to the muscles to be used for energy.

Free fatty acids (from fat cells) and muscle fat provide energy to fuel your running.

Which fuel you burn (Carbohydrates or Fats) during running depends on the intensity and duration of it (more on that later). However, how much fat you burn depends largely on your genes as well as training and nutrition.

Although genes wear the biggest hat, you can always train your body to burn more fat at higher running intensities.

Fatigue sets in when your body is low on fuel. As mentioned, fat is virtually limitless which makes it a very attractive source of fuel.


So, the question is: How to become a fat burner?

Becoming a FAT BURNER

The answer lies in endurance training. As you know, when you’re running a marathon, you’re running at a submaximal pace. At this intensity, your body uses more fat. Many months of training and running miles logged would mean that you will burn more fats as compared to carbohydrates at the same intensity. When the weight is off muscle glycogen and blood glucose, you delay fatigue. This ultimately translates to better running performance.

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As mentioned, for fat to be used as fuel, it must first be broken down into fatty acids, mobilised and transported to the muscles to be burned. Endurance training enhances the capacity of muscles to use fat. It stimulates the production of enzymes that would enhance all the steps required to use fat as fuel [2].

In the presence of oxygen, mitochondria are the factory that produces ATP (body’s energy currency). Endurance training increases the number of mitochondria in a cell which means that you can produce more energy from fat (fats are being ‘burned’ in the mitochondria) [2].

Running puts a certain amount of stress on the body. When you start running, the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) comes into play. The main energy fuel that is used to meet the sudden demand of energy is carbohydrates. Thankfully, humans are highly adaptable and we are able to learn and change to better handle that stress in the future. Training reduces this sympathetic response and puts a greater reliance on fat as fuel [3].

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Throwback to when I first started running.

Remember how hard it was when you first started running – your breathing was all over the place, your heart felt like it was going to explode and your limbs had a mind of its own – but you continued anyway? And then a few weeks later you realised that running is the easiest thing in the world. That is because your body adapted to the “stress”.

At the same running speed, a trained individual is a fat burner that relies less on carbohydrates to fuel their running at the same intensity as an untrained individual. IMG_0897

These training adaptations don’t take place overnight. There are no short cuts. You can see how training, hard work and effort are keys to unlocking the lock to becoming a great runner.

But if you happen to have a problem with committing to training, maybe there’s a way out. Ever heard of fat-loading diets? We’ll explore that next!

Till then, keep running! :)