If you need nutritional advice about weight loss or perhaps good health then why not ask a mechanic? Now you may think that sounds either bizarre or darn right stupid. But the fact of the matter is the majority of people will listen to nutrition advice from just about anyone who is willing to offer it; and there are plenty of people who fit that category.
If you were feeling ill, running a fever or some other ailment why do you bother going to see you doctor? After all you could look up the symptoms on Wikipedia and find most suggested cures via the internet. If you’ve got a back injury why bother going to see a physiotherapist? After all the answers are all there on the internet including the exercises you should be doing. Very often demonstrated on YouTube quite clearly so why pay a physiotherapist? The answer in both cases is that both doctors and physiotherapists have trained for years. This ensures they have all the underpinning knowledge required to make an accurate diagnosis. What is more, they have then been mentored and undergone rigorous examinations. This ensures that they are competent to deliver the required treatment. After all if they get it wrong the consequences could be quite catastrophic. Finally both belong to governing bodies that have a strict code of conduct that ensures they act within accepted scope of practice. Should they fail to meet those strict standards then they face disciplinary proceedings and perhaps ultimately can be stopped from practicing.
Well believe it or not nutrition is no different, a registered nutritionist (RNutr) or dietitian have both undergone very similar training to your GP or physio. They both have degree’s, have undergone rigorous training and both belong to governing bodies with strict codes of conduct as regards scope of practice. Dietitian is a protected title but unfortunately nutritionist is not. However if someone is calling themselves a nutritionist and they are not a registered nutritionist (RNutr) they may have completed a three day course or not even that. To check if someone is a registered nutritionist then go to the Association for Nutrition (AfN) website. Here you can check if a nutritionist is registered and is therefore properly qualified to offer nutritional advice.
You can do as much damage with poor nutrition as you can with some drugs. Why people who have read a little bit about nutrition in a book or on the internet think they are qualified to give nutritional advice is a mystery. What is an even greater mystery is why people listen to them. So next time someone is offering you nutritional advice just ask yourself exactly how is this person qualified to talk about this; then ask them the same question. Most personal trainers have completed three days of nutrition training. I know because I teach these courses. They may have read a bit more after qualifying or been to a few seminars but this does not make them nutritionists and it is outside their scope of practice to offer prescriptive nutritional advice. At best they should be offering very general advice about healthy eating and NO more. People pushing herbalife, body by Vi, Juice+ or any other money making nutrition schemes will generally be even less qualified so be careful who you take advice from. Go to your doctor if you are ill, a physiotherapist if you are physically injured and a registered nutritionist or dietitian if you want evidence based nutritional advice.
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With weight loss it’s an ever recurring theme but fat burners whether they be pills, powders, herbs or other magical elixirs do not want to go away. We’ve most recently had the Acai berry and now raspberry ketone seems to be in vogue. If the people who push these products were in the wild-west in the US a century ago they’d be selling them off the back of wagon and doing a runner.
If you consider some very basic physiology it is quite easy to see why these products would not work. First off, any product that claims to stop absorption in the stomach is making a nonsensical claim. Very few nutrients are absorbed in the stomach and fat definitely isn’t. Water and alcohol are two that can be absorbed here.
The next point to make from a physiological standpoint is that the stomach is a hostile environment. It is designed this way to stop harmful microbes etc. getting in to your body. You have hydrochloric acid being released and this is mixing with enzymes to produce active enzymes that break down proteins into their constituent parts, namely amino acids. One of the reasons that pharmaceutical companies have to spend so much money on research and development when it comes to new drugs is that they have to be able to deliver the chemical agent to its site of action. So it has to be packaged in such a way that it can get past the stomach, get into the small intestine, be absorbed and then get to the cells where it is going to do its job. Try dropping hydrochloric acid on anything organic (don’t try this at home) and the result is the organic product ends up completely mutilated. This is what will generally happen to most of these products claiming to be fat burners.
Weight loss and your physiology
If by some stroke of luck the pill, powder or potion gets past here it then has to be absorbed. The intestine has specific transporters built into the walls of the gastrointestinal system to move nutrients into the body. In order for your potion to get into the body it will have to mimic a nutrient so as to be moved into the circulatory system. Having overcome this hurdle it will be taken to the liver and that will further process it. Anything the liver doesn’t recognise as safe will be filtered and excreted. Now this is a simplified description but you can see that just because you can demonstrate something in a glass of water or a test tube does not mean that the same reaction will occur in the body.
A few final points you might also want to consider. Most fat burners are not made under any pharmaceutical regulation so have not been rigorously tested for either their efficacy or more importantly their safety. A number of major pharmaceutical companies have stopped research on weight loss drugs due to the cost and lack of progress. Remember, some have been trying for thirty years to develop an effective drug. Another pertinent point here is that lipids (fats) are not the bad guy that everyone seems keen to blame when it comes to the obesity epidemic. Blocking fat in some way would not necessarily resolve the obesity epidemic.
Finally and most importantly “If one of these products worked do you think the others would even exist”? What is more if one of these products worked do you not think that every GP would be prescribing them and we wouldn’t have a problem with obesity? So it is about time you stopped watching out for the medicine man/women claiming to have the elixir for life and started to address the real culprit – YOUR LIFESTYLE. It is your lifestyle that got you fat and only changing that lifestyle will get you thin again. If you would like further sound nutritional advice sign up for the FREE video series using the form below.
Nutrition and business are closely linked, it’s just that most business owners and employees do not realise this. Having attended two business networking events in the past 24 hours it has occurred to me just how little people really consider sound nutrition as a strategy for success. Your brain accounts for approximately 20% of your energy requirements. If you are failing to eat correctly this could be having a profound effect on your overall business performance.
The breakfast this morning was bacon rolls, there was no butter but the rolls were white bread. Now the bacon would have lowered the GI slightly but this was predominately high GI. So your body would experience a sharp rise in blood sugar and then a sharp drop over the next hour. So if this is the point you arrive at work and have to make a key business decision your blood sugar may well be low. Your brain is an obligate user of glucose so this means it requires glucose to function optimally and you have now got low blood sugar levels. This is grossly over-simplified but the basic premise is sound and if you are not fueled properly your brain is not functioning optimally. Not only will you not be functioning optimally but low blood sugar will make some people irritable. What is going to happen if you have to deal with an awkward or tricky customer at this point? There is a good chance this meeting will not go well and could result in the loss of a customer or negative publicity. Neither of which will contribute to future business success.
Nutrition through the day
A lot of people fail to eat the correct foods at breakfast, if they have breakfast at all. They then spend the day making poor nutritional choices and surviving on large amounts of coffee. There is a fair chance their blood sugar levels are going on a roller-coaster ride most days. You have to hope that they are making decisions when they have elevated blood sugar levels. From a health perspective this type of scenario will predispose you to diabetes and that is without even looking at your weight and other risk factors.
So the clear message for businesses, whether that be the owners or the employees is look after your nutrition. Good nutrition will contribute to good health and this in turn will contribute to optimal business performance. If you are not sure what your nutritional intake looks like why not consider getting a LEAN Report (http://leanmansystem.com/healthy-diet-the-lean-report/). This will effectively assess what your diet currently looks like and also give you some help with where you could improve things.
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Best regards – Gary.
The last post considered what is good education and information when it comes to nutrition and a scientific conference is definitely one way to pick up a lot of useful information. I have been presenting at the Nutrition and Health Live event at London Olympia over the past few days and picked up lots of useful pieces of information.
The beauty of this type of conference is that not only do you get to hear about cutting edge research you also find out what is happening in the real world. The problem with academia is that sometimes there is a disconnect between scientists and practical application.
I think for me the overwhelming theme that was running through this conference was that there are many people trying to solve the obesity epidemic and doing some great work. However, as things stand nobody has all the answers. We have bits of the puzzle but not a complete solution. Now how different is that to what you read in media and see in magazines, books and online as regards this diet is the latest and greatest and will work for everyone.
Nutrition - what do we know?
From 1996 to 2012 diabetes in the UK has gone from 1.4 million to 2.9 million and continues to increase. This is closely associated to abdominal obesity. One in four people are now obese and it is predicted that 50% of the UK population will be obese by 2050. Physical activity levels have remained static and fewer than five per cent of the population in the US and UK meet the dietary guidelines.
Given those statistics can anyone still believe that any of these solutions that you see highly touted in the media are working? That means that the likes of Herbalife, ViSalus, juiceplus and all these fat burning products do not work, despite their outrageous claims. If they worked do you not think that governments would be demanding that GP’s prescribe them as the cost of obesity to the NHS and health services worldwide is crippling.
There is hope though; just a five per cent reduction in weight will reduce your risk of becoming diabetic by 60%. So you don’t need massive weight losses to reap substantial benefits. The 5:2 diet does hold some promise of being an effective way to deal with diabetes. However there was a clear statement that we need more data on the long-term effectiveness and health benefits of this regime. Alternate day fasting as a nutrition regime has only been compared to normal dieting in one study and it was no better. Also the way the 5:2 diet is presented in books and other media does not reflect the current scientific data.
So we have a major epidemic in our midst and we don’t have all the answers as to how to resolve the problem. The media and commercial organisations are very often mis-representing the science and very often cannot support the claims they make.
For now, we do know that following a Mediterranean style diet is beneficial. Increasing activity levels will reduce your risk for CHD and hypertension. If you are overweight or obese reducing your weight by 5% will reduce your chances of becoming diabetic by 60%.
If these all sound like worthwhile changes then take a look at the LEAN Man System and see how you can achieve these benefits. If you want more evidence based nutrition facts then sign up below to receive seven free educational videos.
What is diindolylmethane? As it turns out this is an antioxidant that is mainly found in cruciferous vegetables, a good source would be broccoli. This question came from a previous student of mine and I must admit when he first asked I thought it may be some new-fangled chemical the body building fraternity had invented. The biochemical names can be quite complex sometimes and it’s difficult to know exactly what you are looking at. A good example would be tocopherol, this is also an antioxidant but you most probably know it better as vitamin E.
Just to complete the diindolylmethane story this is being investigated in a number of areas. One of the main strands of research for diindolylmethane is cancer prevention and treatment. This is not surprising given the links between free radical damage in the body and cancer. An important role for antioxidants is to mop up free radicals as they appear in the body. Our current understanding of diindolylmethane comes from laboratory research and work with rats so we are long way from fully understanding its value at present. This study provides a useful summary:
Li Y, et al (2013) Antioxidant function of isoflavone and 3,3'-diindolylmethane: are they important for cancer prevention and therapy? Antioxid Redox Signal. 19(2):139-50.
For now you can get good levels in your diet by eating plenty of green leafy vegetables.
What is an Antioxidant?
The best analogy I can give you for an anti-oxidant is to think of pacman (those of you old enough to remember this). Now antioxidants are available throughout the body and when they see free-radicals they quickly mop them up (as in pacman sweeping round swallowing pellets). Your body naturally produces antioxidants and needs input from your diet to make them. You find antioxidants in lots of fruits and vegetables and generally the colour is a good clue as to their antioxidant content. Primary colours indicate good antioxidant content. So red, green, yellow peppers for example. The antioxidant vitamins are A, C and E. and then certain minerals have an antioxidant role such as selenium and zinc.
Free radicals are produced in response to any oxidative process (chemical reaction involving oxygen) so when you exercise you produce these. Car exhaust fumes and general pollution can be a source of free radicals. When you char food you produce free- radicals so you can see they are all around us. This is why the body has evolved its own defence mechanisms. The production of antioxidants in the body is vitally important to protect us from these damaging molecules (free radicals). This is another reason why you should be getting good levels of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet.
If you find nutrition facts like this fascinating and perhaps you are wondering what you own dietary intake looks like as regards antioxidant intake you should take a look at LEAN Report and find out what your current vitamin and mineral status is.
If you were to ask the general public where we get vitamins in our diet from there is a good chance some would tell you “you buy them from the chemist”. So there appears to be a perception that they are some type of supplement. This is likely to be for two reasons, the first being the marketing power of the supplement industry. If you keep telling people they need these magic pills to keep them healthy or improve their vitality then eventually the message sticks. The second reason is undoubtedly a poor understanding of what vitamins are, their role in the body and how we source them from our diet.To briefly address the second point (and I do mean briefly). Vitamins are molecules made up of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Unlike minerals which are elemental they can be broken down into their component parts. It is for this reason that you have to be careful with some vitamins in terms of how you handle them, store them and cook with them. They generally are required in the body in milligram (thousandths of a gram) or microgram (millionths of a gram) amounts. Some of these you require every day and these are generally the water soluble group; these consist of Vitamin C and the B vitamin group. The other group are the fat soluble group and they consist of vitamins A, D, E, K. These can be stored in the body and so they are not necessarily required every day. The flip side of this is that you have to be careful with their intake as if you take too high a dosage they can be toxic and cause a number of health problems.
The role of vitamins is primarily synergistic in that they aid lots of metabolic processes. A lack of vitamins can cause some quite serious illnesses. We are also discovering some other important roles for vitamins in the body. That said it is generally quite rare to see vitamin deficiencies in the general population. That is not to say that it doesn’t occur and we have recently had reported cases of rickets in some children. Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D which is required to aid the uptake of calcium into bones. But if you are meeting your energy requirements with a wide variety of foods, especially fruit and vegetables then it is unlikely that you need any type of supplement. A number of studies have studied vitamin status in Western populations and if anything has found people generally have excess vitamins in the diet. Because of this the UK most probably has some of the most expensive urine in Europe. An excess intake of water soluble vitamins will be excreted by the body. One of the most popular vitamins for supplementation is vitamin C and yet the evidence for extra intake over and above recognised requirements is at best weak. Therefore we see high levels of vitamin C appearing in people’s urine. Even amongst athletes who train hard and put their bodies under extreme stress it is doubtful they need to supplement. As training means they have a large energy requirement if this is being met with a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables they will easily meet the vitamin requirement.
So the next time you are in a supermarket and walk past the supplement aisle carry on walking to the fruit and vegetable area and stock up there. Interestingly frozen vegetables often have equally as a good a vitamin content as fresh vegetables. So stop peeing your hard earned cash down the toilet.
A new study published in the journal ‘Cell’ (1) has discovered that a mutation in the gene KSR2 may be linked to increased weight gain and subsequent obesity. KSR2 is regulator of food intake, basal metabolic rate (BMR), glucose oxidation and fatty acid oxidation. The thing that is perhaps most interesting about this variant is that it does seem to slow BMR. Energy expenditure in humans is generally made up by about 70% BMR, 20% physical activity and 10% thermogenesis so BMR is a significant component.
Although this is a really interesting discovery I am sure the media will now jump all over this stating that scientists have found that obese people have a slow metabolism. However, be cautious because this is not what the researchers are claiming and they urge caution with these findings. The highlight that impaired sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation is also a possible explanation for the low BMR. They recognise that further studies will be required that can measure sympathetic innervation and activation of adipose tissue (fat cells). These will have to pay particular attention to brown adipose tissue as the role of these cells is very relevant to energy expenditure and thermogenesis. A promising area of research for these findings is that modulation of KSR2 mediated effects may prove to be a useful therapeutic strategy for both obesity and type 2 diabetes. Having said that this understanding is still really in its infancy.
This was quite a large study with 1,770 individuals of mixed European decent with severe, early-onset obesity. A large UK population-based study was used to obtain controls with 1,536 individuals being selected. Even with these numbers it is worth highlighting that fewer than 1 in 100 people are affected and these are often severely obese by early childhood. What is more some of this 1% of the population were normal weight so other factors are also implicated. Given that understanding this would discount a large proportion of the population who have become obese later in life.
So the excuse “I have got a slow metabolism” may be true in a very small percentage of the population but for most people it is more a case of having genetics that predispose them to obesity and living in a toxic food environment.
1. Pearce et al., KSR2 Mutations Are Associated with Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Impaired Cellular Fuel Oxidation, Cell (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2013.09.058
Take a close look at your diet, do you get at least two portions of oily fish per week? If the answer to this question is NO then you might want to read on:
The many benefits of fish oil have received a lot of publicity and these are supported by good scientific evidence. A new study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and metabolism looked at possible protective effects on insulin sensitivity. The meta-analysis found that taking a fish oil capsule significantly increased levels of the hormone adiponectin. This study is one of the first to establish the link between fish oil consumption and increases in adiponectin in the circulation of humans. Up to this point the results have been inconsistent but this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised control trials evaluated adiponectin as an outcome linked to fish oil supplementation.
The study found that fish oil supplementation raised levels by 0.37 mcg/ml and the median dose of fish oil was 1.3g/day. This level of increase would translate to about a 3% lower incidence of diabetes. Wu the lead author of this study said in a statement “that these results support potential benefits of fish oil consumption on glucose control and fat cell metabolism”. These results warrant further investigations into potential benefits of fish oils on other metabolic conditions such as free fatty acids, inflammation.
Food manufacturers will no doubt jump on this as an opportunity to boost sales of products fortified with omega-3. The key thing to remember here is that the long chain polyunsaturated omeg-3 fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) studied are from marine based sources i.e. fish oils. The fortified foods containing omega-3 are often from plant based sources and these do not have the same level of scientific support as regards possible health benefits. For years our grandparents would feed their children a spoonful of cod liver oil. They perhaps didn’t fully understand the health implications back then, they just knew it was beneficial. This study shows they were on the right track. If you’re not getting your two portions of oily fish per week then you might want to consider taking a basic cod liver oil tablet each day; Good for the heart and your circulation.
Generally when people say to me “I can’t help being overweight it’s in my genes” I suggest they buy bigger Jeans. However sarcastic remarks to one side there is undoubtedly some degree of genetic susceptibility associated with being overweight and/or obese. You’ll note that I say ‘susceptibility’ and not ‘inevitability’. Quite often people who are overweight feel that they have no control over the situation. Although that is an inbuilt response it is far from the truth and with correct education, support and motivation the situation can be reversed.
Research has uncovered a number of genetic markers that indicate an individual may have greater susceptibility to certain diseases and I count obesity as a disease due to its prevalence in Western society and the impact that it has on individuals overall health. A paper recently published in the Proceeding of the Nutrition Society (2013) considered how far we have come in terms of personalised nutrition and whether we are in a position to design diets that match an individual’s genetic makeup. De Roos (2013) considered the efficacy by which dietary interventions might influence multi-factorial diseases. It is noted that many studies in nutrigenetics have tried to explain the variable responses that individuals produce when given different dietary intakes by examining single or a few genotypes. If this were possible we could then prescribe a diet for an individual based on these genetic markers. Unfortunately it has proved to be a very challenging task as it is not straightforward to define an individual’s responsiveness to what can be a complex diet and then be able to base this on known common genetic variations.
Currently we lack an understanding of the important signatures and health biomarkers that would indicate an optimal response to dietary input. De Roos (2013) conclude that “advances in nutrigenomics will undoubtedly further the understanding of the complex interplay between genotype, phenotype and environment”. If this can be achieved then the personalised diet based upon your genetic makeup becomes a real possibility. As this research has highlighted though, we are a long way from this ideal situation. Until we understand this in greater depth then books or diets claiming to be based on genetics, blood types etc. are not based on any substantiated science. You can certainly look at your parents and/or siblings and if they are overweight then this just tells you that you may be more susceptible to putting on weight. Equally though it could just be that your parents were brought up in an obeseogenic environment. As humans we have prehistoric genes in a very obeseogenic environment. We are designed for fight and flight and yet we are not very active. We are designed for famine or feast and yet we rarely have famine in the Western world. Given this genetic make-up we are predisposed to being overweight unless we make a conscious effort to change something. So we need to get more active on a more regular basis, this will control for out genetic predisposition for flight or flight. We need to eat healthily and this means both in terms of the overall dietary composition but also our portion sizes; this will control for feast or famine. So next time someone tells you “oh it’s in my genes” there may be some truth in that, but from what we currently understand about genetics it’s also within your power to control for this. Future discoveries in nutrigenomics may just allow us better more finite control.
De Roos, B. (2013) Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Personalised nutrition: ready for practice. 72; 48-52.
This article consider why you should avoid extreme weightloss and aim to achieve weight loss that you can sustain (weight maintenance) for the rest of your life.
“Permanent weight loss is achievable for life and you are not destined to continually yo-yo diet if you are overweight”.
This statement is true if you are prepared to make lifestyle changes. Weightloss is generally achieved with most diets, the amount of weight that you lose is dependant on which particular diet you have adopted, and some diets will achieve extreme weight loss. By extreme I mean it includes an extremely low calorie intake or it drastically restricts one of the macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate). You may also notice that I am discussing weight loss and this is actually a bit misleading. Surely if we want a long-term solution we should be discussing fat loss. So from here on in we will consider fat loss.
My website http://leanmansystem.comis all about healthy lifestyle and good nutrition and most importantly how to achieve long-term weight loss. So this is the place to visit for weight loss help.
My name is Dr. Gary Mendoza and my doctoral research at the University of Wales investigated a multi-dimensional model for the treatment of obesity. The primary fact that you have to accept once you are overweight is the following:
“It is your lifestyle that got you fat, and only a change in your lifestyle is going to get you thin again”.
I don’t think that is possible for everybody to be ‘thin’ as undoubtedly genes play a role here. That said any fat loss that you can successfully keep off will have enormous health benefits. In fact extreme weight loss may even be detrimental to your health. The next thing to accept with fat loss is that it is a slow and steady process. If you are losing more than about 1kg per week there is a fair chance that you are not just losing fat. The weight loss could be water, and in the worst case scenario, muscle. If you want to just reduce the body fat then slow and steady is the way to go. Sound nutritional choices and getting the energy balance correct (more of this in a bit) will ensure that the fat should slowly reduce. Any diet offering ‘extreme weight loss’ is more than likely a quick fix and you will not be losing fat alone. What is worse, the evidence suggests that you are unlikely to keep the weight off.
If you can get your head around the concept that slow and steady is the way to go then long-term weight loss (fat reduction) and ultimately weight maintenance is achievable. My research has demonstrated that lifestyle change is what is required, as I have already stated “it is your lifestyle that got you fat”. Weight loss through lifestyle change is healthier and in the long run easier to sustain. I previously eluded to the term ‘energy balance’, so what do I mean by this? All weight loss or fat reduction revolves around energy balance. In simple terms this means calories in versus calories out, or energy in vs. energy out.
My research found that by getting people to slowly increase their activity levels (energy out) and at the same time decrease their energy intake, slow and steady weight loss can be achieved.
Within the context of this article it is not feasible to discuss individual nutritional changes and activity changes. That is because there are so many you can make and most importantly, they are individual choice. When I work with clients trying to achieve weight loss the nutrition plan has to be personalised. This is not a diet but working with what the client currently eats and making dietary adjustments. This type of nutritional adjustment has proved to be successful with individuals in my research achieving an 85% success rate.
The other part of the weight loss equation is increasing activity. By activity I mean everyday tasks and not necessarily formal exercise. If a client wants to go to the gym that is great but you don’t need to if it is not your thing, there are other ways of increasing activity.
The final part of the weight loss puzzle is psychology “are you ready to change”. You may think this is obvious but my research clearly demonstrated that some people looking for weight loss help were not actually ready to change. What is more if they weren’t ready to change then eventually they didn’t lose weight. Using psychometric testing I found you could predict who would be most successful in the programme. Try the FREE psychometric test on www.theleansystem.co.uk and see whether you are ready to change.
So to recap the key to permanent weight loss or fat reduction is make sure you are psychologically ready in the first place. Once you are ready you then need to start making small changes to your everyday nutrition; the goal being to achieve a more healthy diet. By diet I don’t mean ‘good’ and ‘bad ‘foods either. We are all on a diet it is what we eat, look up the dictionary definition. I am a firm believer that sound nutrition means all things in moderation.
Finally to super charge the fat loss and achieve long-term weight loss we need to get more active, more everyday activities and formal exercise if you want. Not only does this burn calories but it also has major health benefits. I regularly conduct one-to-one consultations either face-to-face or via my website. The main goal of these consultations is to discuss how to achieve sound nutrition within your current eating habits and how to increase your levels of activity. The 12 week course is all about education and giving you the skills to achieve a lifestyle change that you can sustain. You may never be super slim but your diet will be better and you will be healthier and carry less fat. Put that all together and it equates to a longer and happier life and surely that is what we are all striving for? If you would like some weight loss help then consider enrolling on the LEAN programme. Visit my website at www.theleansystem.co.uk.