This discussion started in 1995 at The Cooper Clinic in Texas. They looked at the BMI’s of 25,389 men in their care. They saw that men who were more fit were less likely to die than those who were lessfit. It did not matter what they weighed.
Since then, investigations have continued to look at versions of this question. And a new term was coined, the “metabolically healthy obese”. This means that a person meets the criteria for obesity but has normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol values. This is true for up to 1/3 of people who are obese and could suggest fewer health concerns.
But does a metabolically healthy obese person still run the risk of developing heart disease? An answer came out of Europe in 2017. After comparing information on 17,600 people, those who were overweight and had normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol values still had a 28% higher risk of developing heart disease than lean people. However, the highest risk for heart disease existed in those with abnormal blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol at any weight.
What does this mean? It means the lowest risk of developing heart disease continues to exist in lean people with normal metabolic values. Moderate risk exists in those who are overweight but metabolically healthy. And the highest risk exists in those with abnormal metabolic values regardless if they are lean or overweight.
What can you do? Exercising for fitness is a given. And if you can strive for a healthy weight before developing metabolic abnormalities, you are tipping the scales in your favor.
DHAC can help you make those lifestyle changes. Each member of our Exercise Physiology staff holds a college degree in Exercise Science. You will find that their expertise and commitment will help you develop a safe and effective approach to weight control.
-Cathy M., Diabetes and Exercise Consultant at Dedham Health
Popeye – should he have eaten a hamburger today instead of his spinach on Tuesday?
We know the cartoon character. Popeye claimed to be strong to the finish because he ate his spinach. Now new research suggests that Wimpy may have been better off by “gladly paying you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
It is true that spinach was originally thought to be a great source of iron. And we know that when people are low in iron, they can tire quickly. But this finding was based on an 1870 reporting error. A decimal point was not used and 35 mg was published instead of 3.5 mg of iron in a serving of spinach. This error was discovered and corrected in 1937 – but this was years after Popeye first appeared in 1929 and spinach became widely associated as his source of strength.
Thanks to more reliable and modern research methods, we have a better understanding of which diet choices to make for muscle strength. In one recent study, researchers followed a group of 100 women between the ages of 60 – 90 years. Everyone in the study did resistance training twice a week. Half of them ate a diet higher in protein. The other half ate a diet higher in carbohydrates. At the end of the study, both groups did the same amount of exercise over the 4 months. However, those who ate the higher protein diet gained an extra pound of lean muscle mass. When their leg strength was measured, this extra pound of muscle allowed them to lift more weight than the group on the higher carbohydrate diet.
As with any dietary change, if you have health issues, you should discuss your options with your doctor. If your diet needs to be adjusted, ask to meet with a dietitian. They can help you identify which sources of protein are best for you and how much to eat. While red meats are high in protein, they should be limited. Instead legumes, tofu, dairy products, poultry and fish are healthier protein choices to consider.
-Cathy Mulloly, Diabetes and Exercise Consultant at Dedham Health
We are in the second month of 2018. If you made a New Year’s resolution about losing weight, either you have seen the first few pounds of success or you have given up on the effort. Either way, weight loss is often peddled as a simple process but science is revealing how complex it really is.
First of all, the basics remain the same. You will need to move more and eat less to be successful. But you may be surprised to learn that “willpower”, “calories in, calories out” or “fat-free/low fat” may not be the most important approaches to make this happen.
One strategy the body uses after weight loss is to slow down the basal metabolism or the number of calories your body burns at rest. Your body is rejecting this lower weight and is doing what it can to regain those lost pounds. By slowing down the amount of energy the body burns minute to minute, these extra unused calories are turned back into fat. This one explanation why most people regain some, if not all, of the weight they worked so hard to lose.
To prevent weight regain, scientists have observed that every day behaviors play a role. People who are keeping the off the weight eat breakfast and are exercising an hour each day. And each week they are stepping on the scale and watching fewer than 10 hours of TV. Read more about successful weight management stories from people who have done it.
And what about the diet choices for weight loss?
The main take away here is that different approaches work for different people. “Why?” is the question facing science today. Both genetic and environmental factors are yielding some answers.
One factor may be the type of bacteria present in the gut. Unhealthy bacteria may promote weight gain while the lack of healthy bacteria may hinder weight loss. A plant based diet has been shown to improve the balance of the trillions of bacteria found in the gut.
Another factor comes from researching brown and beige fat. These types of body fat BURN calories instead of storing them. When activated, they can burn a few hundred calories a day. We know that cooler temperatures make them work harder. And it is possible that certain types of food can do the same. Finding a way to keep them turned on may be an important strategy for long-term weight control.
And one other factor is how calories are processed in the cells. Mitochondria are responsible for turning food into fuel. This energy is either burned right away in the form of glucose or stored as fat to be used later as energy. Certain foods may be more likely to become fat instead of glucose. And after weight loss the body may just turn more food into stored fat. For people who have lost weight, eating 20% fewer calories than before may be necessary to keep those fat stores from coming back.
While the biology may be complex, it is clear that maintaining a healthier weight has benefits. Losing 10% of your weight will improve your blood pressure and blood sugar. This greatly decreases your risk for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Now that you are armed with a better understanding of what it takes to be successful, use this information to help you make better weight management choices for the rest of 2018.
DHAC can help you reach and maintain your weight loss goal. Each member of our Exercise Physiology staff holds a degree in Exercise Science. You will find that their expertise and commitment will help you develop a safe and effective approach to weight control.
-Cathy Mullooly, Diabetes and Exercise Consultant at Dedham Health
Sitting is just part of what we do every day. In cars. On trains. While we eat. While we watch TV. While I am typing this blog. We do it so much we lose sight of how much of our day is spent in this position.
Let’s note of what long periods of sitting can mean for your health. Behavior research looks at people’s habits to determine what contributes to staying healthy. Early reports tied poor health to the number of hours spent watching TV each week. Then researchers started collecting data on the time spent playing video games and at computer screens.
So now the focus is on the common denominator in all of these behaviors – sitting. This applies to everyone. Even if someone workouts on a regular basis, longer periods of sitting still makes this person likely to become overweight and to develop heart disease.
There are two main reasons why. And they are connected. First, the time spent at these activities mean you are not spending time being physically active. Secondly, when you are not staying physically active throughout the day, you are not as healthy as you could be. Therefore, you have a higher the risk of developing a chronic disease.
That is why the latest guidelines recommend for you to get up and sit less. Click here to learn more.
-Cathy Mullooly, Diabetes and Exercise Consultant at Dedham Health