The Fabulous Truth About Fat

Remember when fat-free=healthy?  Unless you were living under a rock throughout the 90’s you probably recall the popularity of fat-free Snackwell’s cookies, fat-free Entenmann’s cakes, and fat free Kraft cheese singles.  Once under the assumption that fat would make us fat most Americans shunned it in the name of health and fitness.  Nowadays we realize that fat is an important component of a healthy diet and not only fine in moderation but necessary for overall wellness, as long as we are consuming the unsaturated kind.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do the body a world of good, some of which starts before we even leave the womb!  Healthy fats are vital for brain and retinal development particularly in the third trimester.  Throughout the rest of life they help us absorb essential vitamins that promote nervous system health and reduce our risk of heart disease.  The easiest way to consume healthy fat is by eating fatty fish but for those of you who are not fish-fans fear not.  The following are some unlikely foods that will help you reach your daily allowance:

-Chia Seeds: Chia seeds contain nearly 5,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per ounce, making them one of the most concentrated sources.  Though more research needs to be done on their benefits it is becoming clear that they are a worthy addition to a healthy diet.  You can read more about Chia here.

-Spinach: Thanks to Popeye, we’ve all know since the age of four that spinach is a healthy food.  What you might not know is that it is a good source of omega-3.  Spinach, along with its close cousins kale and collard greens, contain about 100 milligrams in each half cup serving.

-Tofu: With its health halo this hippie food and vegetarian staple is another food most of us would label as healthy but did you know it was a source of omega-3.?   Research has shown that soy isoflavones and proteins lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, making it beneficial for reducing heart disease risk.

And should you be looking to replace your Snackwell’s or Entemann’s dessert:

Make some healthy oatmeal cookies!  Oatmeal has been shown helpful in lowering LDL levels.

Indulge in some dark chocolate!  Dark chocolate has been shown to boost HDL levels.

Or combine oatmeal and dark chocolate with this recipe for maximum benefit.

And if you get nostalgic for the 90’s do your body a favor and bust a move to this song rather than reverting back to your fat-free ways.


Motivation in Movie Form

Do you ever want to hang out on the couch watching movies but feel like you should be doing something more productive with your life?  Why not relax and learn something at the same time by watching a documentary?  Ever since Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 hit Super Size Me there has been a rise in health-related documentaries, specifically those having to do with the food industry.

A few top recommendations to get you motivated :

Food Inc.:  Food Inc. explores the food we eat and the journey it takes from farm to  supermarket.  It also touches on the locavore movement which hits close to home if you live in Charlottesville!

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead: This documentary is the story of one man’s journey from being an accurate representation of the title to a much healthier and happier individual.  It’s like the opposite of Super Size Me, instead of filling up on burgers and fries he fills up on fresh vegetable and fruit juice.  *Warning, this movie may entice you to invest in a juicer*

Forks Over Knives: If Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead makes you want to buy a juicer, this may make you consider being a vegan (or at least consider adding more vegetables to your diet).  The film was created by two doctors, one a nutritional scientist and the other a top surgeon, who explore the theory of food as medicine.

So, find a comfortable spot on the couch (or if you really want to be productive a foam roller) and enjoy a movie this weekend!

Young, Slim, and Diabetic

Trying to stay slim by restricting calories alone ?  This may keep you from packing on the pounds in the short-term but new research shows that what you eat and how much you exercise and the main factors in type 2 diabetes prevention.  In a recent study type 2 diabetes, a disease previously associated with the overweight or obese, can creep up even when the scale doesn’t.  Although it tends to be more prevalent in the overweight population, about 15 percent of people with type 2 diabetes fall into the healthy weight category.  With 65 million people age 20 and older developing pre-diabetes age is no longer a deciding factor either.  Young adults at a healthy weight can still be at risk.   This phenomenon known as TOFI (thin outside, fat inside) occurs when fat that would normally appear under your skin builds up around abdominal organs instead.   This fat causes inflammatory substances to affect your organs, namely the liver and pancreas.  Insulin sensitivity decreases and risk for type 2 increases.

Because exercise causes muscles to use glucose at 20 times the normal rate it makes sense that most of those at risk have tried to maintain their weight through diet alone.  For people with an “all calories are created equal” mentality, it may seem acceptable to eliminate exercise as part of the equation and concentrate mainly on calorie restriction.  While this might work to keep weight stable, it may lead to other problems later on.  Since exercise is the only way to shed visceral fat (the kind that builds up around the organs) it remains essential for diabetes prevention.  A well-balanced diet low in sugar is also key to preventing type 2 from occurring.

So if you thought last years twinkie diet  was too good to be true you are now vindicated.  In the case of preventing type 2 diabetes it’s truly what’s inside that counts.

Get Apple Jacked

Move over colossal mega protein super builder bar there is a new snack in town…apples just might be the food of choice for those looking to prevent atrophy and promote hypertrophy.

A substance called ursolic acid that is found in apple peels was recently tested on mice and the results were promising.  Healthy mice actually experienced muscle growth when given the substance.  A reduction in muscle weakening was found when the acid was given to fasting mice.  You can read more about the study here.   Though I am a personal trainer and have tried more than a few shakes, powders, and pills I always end up going back to basics: whole foods.  Though proper nutrition is important there is no need to nix the farmers market and obtain all your meals in bar form.  Instead of trying to remember which amino acids to take with which fat-burning pill remember this simple equation: good energy in = good energy out.  If you fuel your body with good nutritious food you will feel better and increase your energy.  Increased energy leads to more activity which in turn leads to more productive workouts.  Whether you want to get leaner or add mass, nutrition is an important part of the equation.  When  it comes to muscle building,  the orchard might just be the new GNC.