Though your metabolism IS constantly at work, it does slow down later in the day, especially if you are just dieting and not exercising. When you exercise your heart rate and...
Nutrition & Physical Activity
Your skepticism is warranted, considering the label "all natural" does not have one, standard definition or imply “risk-free.” In order to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sweeteners marketed as “Stevia” may contain only one highly refined component of the stevia rebaudiana plant, called Rebaudioside A. Due to potential health risks, no other components of the stevia plant have been approved by the FDA as food additives or sugar substitutes. Non-food products (often labeled as dietary supplements) containing less refined stevia ingredients are available, and some are even deemed “safe for consumption.” However, the FDA recommends waiting for more conclusive research before consuming large quantities of supplements containing stevia-derived ingredients other than Rebaudioside A.
In addition to Rebaudioside A, most FDA-approved stevia sweetener products also contain fructooligosaccharide, a sugar extracted from non-stevia fruit sources. Some studies show that fructooligosaccharide may actually promote the growth of healthy bacteria, relieve constipation, regulate lipid metabolism, and promote immune system health. Additionally, these sugars may be less detrimental to oral health than table sugar, and may help to treat glucose intolerance. Rebaudioside A and fructooligosaccharide are both approved by the FDA as food additives.
Although some empirical studies show no negative side effects of consuming unrefined stevia plant products and deem them “relatively safe” and “nontoxic,” the FDA has expressed safety concerns related to these products. Such concerns include negative effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems as well as blood sugar regulation issues. Other concerns include the stevia plant’s potential ability to damage genetic material, but independent scientific studies have determined that this type of gene damage is only possible in a laboratory environment, not in the human body. Stevia proponents also cite the plant’s inability to be digested (hence, the reason why it is calorie-free) as evidence that it simply passes through the body without causing any damage.
When it comes to sweeteners and food additives, Rebaudioside A is the only FDA-approved component of the stevia plant. Considering the inconclusiveness of existing research, unrefined stevia supplements and other non-food products should be consumed cautiously. For more information about sugar and other components of a well-balanced diet, check out the Get Balanced Guide for Healthier Eating as well as Alice! Health Promotion’s Nutrition Initiatives. Good work keeping yourself informed before you ingest!
You and your friends have picked up on a popular debate. One aspect of weight management that is vital to understand is that we gain and lose weight over periods of time — weeks, months, years — not hour by hour. This happens as we take in more calories than we expend. Another important fact of metabolism is that our bodies do not stop working, even when we are sleeping! Hearts are beating, blood is circulating, lungs are functioning, brains are even working. This all takes energy — meaning we are still burning calories.
There is no magic time after which the body stores fat. For instance, if you eat the same exact meal at 6 pm or at 8 pm, is one more caloric than the other? No, each meal has the same number of calories. What really matters is the total amount of food and drink you have over the course of a week, or a month or longer, and how much energy you expend during that timeframe. Excess calories will be stored as fat over time, regardless of whether they are taken in during the day or night.
When it comes to eating late at night and the potential for weight gain, there are several considerations:
- Portion sizes — waiting to eat could lead to consuming larger portion sizes.
- Quality of food — after a long day of work or school, a few slices of pizza or a fast burger may seem easier than steamed vegetables and broiled fish.
- "Mindless snacking" — evenings spent studying, going out, or watching TV may lead to excess calories from fast, sugary, on-the-go options.
- Health concerns — consistent periods of going without food followed by a large meal can negatively impact the interaction between blood sugar and insulin and make you more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes.
So, to settle the debate, you are correct that late-night calories won't change your metabolism or magically count more than calories eaten during the day. However, limiting late-night meals and snacks may be an effective weight management strategy for some because it helps them to control their overall calorie intake. Some people find that if they set a time that they can't eat past, it helps minimize or eliminate the possibility of munching on a lot of high calorie foods. Another useful tip may to be to eat four or five smaller meals and snacks spread evenly throughout the day so you don't become overly hungry at any point. Following these tips can keep your energy levels consistent for work and play and can provide some long-term benefits to help you reduce your chances for diabetes or other health issues.
June 29, 200721199
Though your metabolism IS constantly at work, it does slow down later in the day, especially if you are just dieting and not exercising. When you exercise your heart rate and metabolism both increase. In addition it is better to eat more meals and take in the same amount of calories because in doing so you keep your metabolism working. On the other hand if you eat less or worse starve yourself for several hours your metabolism slows down and potentially puts your body into a "starvation mode" where more insulin is released causing the body to store more fat. This is the most simple answer to this question.
Weight training is an important component of fitness. But just like any other training regimen, rest is an essential factor to muscle health. It is important to leave a day in between exercising a specific body part or muscle in order to reap the benefits of your hard work.
Weightlifting can cause micro-tears in the muscle fiber(s).These tears can temporarily reduce muscle strength and cause some of the soreness you feel after a new exercise or tough workout. Rest time is extremely important, as it allows your muscles to build up the protein necessary to heal and become stronger. All in all, it takes about two days to heal any muscle fibers torn by weightlifting.
If you want to lift weights every day (remember to reserve at least one day a week for rest), try to focus on different muscle groups in three-day cycles, leaving two days in between the same group. For example:
- Day one: back and biceps
- Day two: chest and triceps
- Day three: legs and abs
- Day four: repeat day one
Other tips to consider for safer weightlifting are as follows:
- To help prevent injury, start with some light cardiovascular activity to warm up your muscles.
- Avoid rushing through your weightlifting workout — slow and steady is the way to go.
- Limit your weightlifting motions while making sure you are keeping correct form. If you are not certain that you are weightlifting properly, you can ask a trainer for some assistance.
- Remember to breathe! Inhale and exhale normally while you lift.
- Rest muscle groups adequately between workout sessions (as mentioned above).
Following these tips should leave you in tip top shape — and your muscles happy!
Dear Columbia Alumnus,
Several nutrients are important in supporting a healthy central nervous system (CNS). Your best bet is to get these nutrients through food, as there is no evidence that taking large doses of nutritional supplements will speed your recovery. Key nutrients include:
|Vitamin A||Helps maintain nerve cell sheaths||Fortified dairy products|
|Beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A)||Helps maintain nerve cell sheaths||Spinach, dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, deep orange fruits and veggies (apricots, cantaloupe, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin)|
|Thiamin||Supports nervous system function||Pork, ham, liver, whole grains, legumes (beans and peas), nuts|
|Niacin||Also supports a healthy nervous system||Milk, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, whole grain and enriched breads and cereals|
|Vitamin B12||Maintains the sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers and promotes their normal growth||All animal based foods; for vegans, fortified soy milk or yeast grown in a vitamin B12 rich environment are recommended|
|Copper||Helps form the protective covering of nerves||Grains, nuts, meats, seeds, some drinking water|
After surgery, eating properly can help with the recovery process. Obtaining adequate calories and protein is vital. Protein is extremely important for recuperation. Not only is it required for fighting infections, it is the backbone for repair and maintenance of many crucial tissues in the body. In addition, protein is vital for building collagen, which is necessary for scar formation.
In addition, plasma proteins, formed from dietary proteins, maintain fluid and electrolyte balance.
Other important nutrients specific to wound healing include:
|Vitamin C||Citrus fruits, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark green vegetables, cantaloupe, strawberries, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, papayas, mangoes|
|Zinc||Meat, fish, poultry, beans|
A person with post-surgery complications or depleted nutrition stores needs more calories and protein than s/he did before the procedure, regardless of his or her weight. A higher caloric intake also increases the need for B-vitamins. Supplements usually are not necessary since these nutrients are found in a wide array of foods.
As there are no supplements that are recommended for enhanced recovery, get your nutrients from a well-balanced eating plan, rich in a variety of fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins, such as lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Happy healing!
Although re-using cooking oil and/or grease is a somewhat common practice, it can pose some serious health hazards. The most common danger when recycling cooking oil is that it becomes rancid or spoiled. In addition to having strange flavors and odors, rancid oil may contain possibly carcinogenic free radicals (read Antioxidants from the Go Ask Alice! archives to find out more about free radicals). These pesky molecules are then absorbed into the fried food and ingested by an unlucky eater.
Using fresh oil every time you cook is the healthiest option. However, if that is not a viable option and it must be re-used, here are some helpful (and healthful) tips:
- Strain it through a few layers of cheesecloth to catch any food particles before storing. Be careful with hot oil, though, because you can easily get burned.
- Shake off excess batter from food before frying it.
- Use a good thermometer to fry foods at a maximum of 375°F (or 190°C).
- Turn off the heat after you are done cooking. Exposing oil to prolonged heat accelerates rancidity.
- Don't mix different types of oil.
- Store oil in a cool, dark place.
- Avoid iron or copper pots or pans for frying oil that is to be reused. These metals also accelerate rancidity.
Here’s another tip on oil safety. Frying foods at or above 375°F can lead to the accumulation of 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal (HNE) in the oil. What’s that, you ask? HNE is a toxic substance that has been associated with an increased risk of stroke, atherosclerosis, elevated levels of LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and various liver diseases. It only takes one use to create HNE in the oil, and reusing oil at too high of a heat can cause even more HNE to build-up.
How to avoid HNE? When heating oil to very high temperatures, use a thermometer to ensure that you’re not heating the oil above 375°F. This is the ideal temperature for frying. Also, stick to oil low in linoleic acid, such as olive oil and canola oil. Researchers found that HNE is more likely to build up in oils with high levels of linoleic acid. Oils with the highest percentage of linoleic acid are safflower oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil, so you may want to stay away from those if you enjoy a deep fryer.
Dear Ab man,
Forget pretzel-like positions and expensive gadgets — the best exercise for strengthening your abdominal muscles (fondly known as "abs") is the basic crunch. Proper form is essential to strengthening the abs. Beginners may start with 10 - 15 repetitions. As you become stronger, you may perform more repetitions, or hold each contraction for five seconds, or longer. This can get really tough! Since your stomach muscles are comprised of different sections, you can work each separately.
For the upper portion of the abs, you can do a basic crunch:
- Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Beginners: cross arms over chest; others: rest hands behind the head (be sure NOT to pull on your neck). In either arm position, place your chin at a fist's distance from your chest.
- Raise your chest and shoulders several inches from the ground, keeping your feet and lower back flat on the floor. Exhale as you come up, inhale as you lower back down.
- Keep your movements slow and controlled, feeling the contraction in your midsection only. Fast jerky movements do not work the muscle properly.
For the obliques (the muscles on either side of the center of your belly):
- Start in the basic crunch position.
- With hands placed lightly behind your head, raise your chest and shoulders, twisting your torso so that one shoulder moves towards the opposite knee.
- Lower and repeat with the other shoulder, alternating back and forth.
For the lower abs (the section below your navel):
- Begin in the basic crunch position.
- Bring your knees up toward your chest in a 90° angle (forming an "L" shape with your body).
- Using only your abdominal muscles, not your hips or legs, move your knees slightly toward your chest as you exhale.
- Return to the starting position.
- This is a very small movement — don't bring your knees up to your face.
If you're properly working your abs, but are disappointed with the results, remember that strength training a specific muscle group doesn't reduce the amount of fat over that area. Cardiovascular exercise and proper diet can help reduce body fat. Unfortunately, it is difficult to control where fat loss (or fat storage) occurs. Some people are predisposed to carry a little extra padding in their midsection. Others, because of the way their internal organs are situated, appear to have a bit of a "tummy." Instead of focusing too hard on one area, why not engage in a variety of exercises and strive for overall fitness? You can check out the related questions for some ideas for getting fit. In addition, Columbia students can get active with CU Move.
Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) and Mexican yam have been marketed as alternatives to synthetic progesterone (not estrogen), which is a hormone taken by some women during menopause. These yams contain diosgenin, a plant substance that has a chemical structure similar to progesterone. In the laboratory, diosgenin can be converted to progesterone by using specific reagents and enzymes to carry out a series of chemical reactions. This transformation can only be performed in a lab — the same process does not occur in the human body. As a result, it's actually misleading for a manufacturer to term a wild yam supplement as "natural progesterone" because it is not progesterone, nor does it have any impact on a woman's hormone levels. Since diosgenin doesn't have hormonal activity itself, creams containing this substance are not effective.
In the United States, what is commonly referred to as a "yam" is actually a variety of sweet potato (ipomoea batatas). Yams are similar in shape to sweet potatoes, but are drier and starchier in taste, and are rougher and scalier in texture. Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, and some B vitamins. Predominantly grown in the Caribbean and Africa, yams are a good source of potassium, but contain no beta-carotene, and have lower levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, and folic acid than sweet potatoes. Eating sweet potatoes or yams will provide nutrients, but, as they contain neither progesterone nor estrogen, they won't affect a woman's hormonal balance.
Dear Nuts for nuts,
What did one squirrel say to the other squirrel? "I'm nuts about you!" One variety of nut isn't necessarily healthier or better than another. All nuts are healthy, unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to one or more kinds. While individual types vary in nutrients, most nuts contain an array of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and small amounts of folate, copper, phosphorous, and calcium. Nuts may also contribute to one's daily protein and fiber needs.
The following chart provides nutritional information for some popular nuts. All numbers are for dry roasted, unsalted nuts. Some nuts are roasted in oil, which adds fat and calories without adding additional vitamins or minerals. In addition, some nuts are salted, which may greatly contribute to one's daily sodium intake. Based on that information alone, it seems that dry roasted, unsalted nuts are the way to get the best bang for your buck.
|Nut type||Calories(per oz.)||Fat (g)||Sat. Fat (g)||Unsat. Fat (g)||Protein (g)||Fiber (g)||
|Zinc (% DRI)||Vit. E (% DRI)||Magnesium (% DRI)|
Nuts are calorie dense foods, meaning they pack a lot of calories into a small amount of food. This can be helpful for people trying to gain weight, but also need not make them off limits to those watching their waistlines. For example, one ounce of most nuts equals about 18 to 24 nuts (a small handful for many, and a tiny handful for larger-handed folks), and contains between 165 and 200 calories. The majority of the calories in nuts is derived from their unsaturated fats — specifically, monounsaturated fat — which is more healthful than saturated fat.
Nuts offer so many valuable nutrients, and can be enjoyed in small servings as well. Why not try to:
- Mix sliced nuts into plain rice, rice pilaf, or couscous.
- Sprinkle slivered nuts onto vegetables or into salads.
- Use slivered or chopped nuts as a yogurt topping.
- Substitute diced nuts for croutons in salads.
- Add chopped nuts to vegetable dips or soups.
In conclusion, it's great that you're nuts about nuts. No ifs, ands, or nuts about it!
Dear Hungry after Diet Cokes,
People have varying reactions to diet sodas. Whether they're due to the aspartame (brand name, Nutrasweet), or something else, is a good question. Many studies have investigated the effect aspartame has on appetite because some people find it increases the desire to eat, while others notice it suppresses it. Questions remain because the results are not consistent. Even when blood sugar levels were measured after drinking an aspartame-sweetened beverage, some levels increased, others decreased, and the rest remained unchanged.
Most likely the caffeine in the soda isn't what's making you hungry. Caffeine is generally regarded as a mild appetite suppressant. Don't get any ideas here, because it is not successful in weight control. Caffeine's effect on appetite is short lived. Studies on this subject have consistently shown that caffeine is not an effective weight loss aid. In terms of caffeine content, a 12-oz. can of diet cola typically has about 35 mg of caffeine while a 12-oz. cup of brewed coffee has about 150 - 200 mg.
Chemical effects aside, here's another possibility: lots of people substitute a diet soda for a snack, or even worse, a meal. Ignoring your hunger denies your body the energy it needs. Instead of feeling satisfied from the soda, your need to eat becomes more pronounced. It may not be the aspartame, but the lack of food that's driving your appetite. Take notice of when the diet soda makes you hungry. If it has been a few hours since you've eaten, you probably need some nourishment. Instead of having that diet soda, try to eat a healthy and satisfying snack (or meal, if a longer time has passed).
If you find that the diet soda makes you hungrier when you're having it with a meal, consider whether your meal is filling. Substitute water for the diet soda and see if you feel the same way. If you're still hungry afterwards, then you need to re-work your meal. Either way, it's a good idea to cut down on the diet soda. Try water or seltzer with a spritz of juice for added flavor instead. Better yet, some milk or juice may help to fill you up and provide some valuable nutrients.
Dear Kneed to know,
Lots of studies have been done on the long-term effects of running on knee health. As a whole, runners seem to have no greater amount of joint destruction or incidence of arthritis than non-runners. In fact, people who are inactive have more mobility problems later in life than their energetic counterparts. Of course, individual variations, such as the way a person trains, one's mileage, rest, recovery, and diet, and the structure of his or her bones and joints, also can have an impact on the health status of knees and other joints.
So, how does this information relate to you? A few concerns come to mind based on the description you give of your training. First of all, it sounds as though you began using the treadmill at a rather high level of exercise. This may cause injury if your joints, muscles, and connective tissue (e.g., ligaments, tendons) are not strong enough to support all of this work. A safe, progressive training program involves increasing duration or intensity by no more than 10 percent per week. (What this means is, if you begin by running 20 minutes the first week, you would increase your time by 2 minutes the second week, and so on.) This gradation computation gives your body a chance to adapt to the growing demands of the activity.
Also, running seven days a week does not allow your muscles the rest and recovery they require for repair and strengthening. Injuries may occur more frequently in people with fatigued muscles. If you feel you must do something every day, try activities that utilize muscles not involved in running, such as upper body weight training. You may wish to use your treadmill a few times a week, and cross-train by swimming or cycling on other days, challenging and strengthening your muscles in different ways. By doing so, you can alleviate the concern of overuse. Varying exercise may also sustain your interest — many people get burned out by doing the same activity day after day after day.
Another consideration is to do some weight training for your leg muscles. It's highly recommended to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the knee. Knee stretches contains "how-to's" on leg shaping exercises and a description of each muscle or group of muscles that will benefit from such workouts. Many people neglect these exercises because they mistakenly think that their legs are "getting all the exercise they need" from their aerobic activity.