Posts Tagged "weight gain"

It’s about time…weight, that is

Posted by on Apr 5, 2010 in weight, weight gain | 5 comments

Findings from a new study suggest that time of day may play a critical role in how much weight you do or do not gain. In fact, you may be better off eating fat first thing upon waking as opposed to at the end of the day.

Mind you, this study was conducted in mice and not humans, so it’s way too early to know for sure. However, what they found that was when mice were fed a high-fat diet constantly throughout a waking period, they did not gain substantial amounts of weight, body fat or develop unusually high blood sugar. In fact, they appeared to adjust their metabolism accordingly. However, when mice were fed either high fat or carbohydrate rich diets at different times during the day, the paradigm shifted and their bodies were not always able to adjust metabolically. Here’s the skinny:

  • Mice who ate a calorically-rich, high-fat meal immediately following the four hours after waking were able to adjust their metabolism and the amount of energy they used up so that weight remained normal. However,
  • Mice who ate a calorically-rich, high-carbohydrate meal in the first four hours after wakening and then a high-fat meal four hours before rest had gained excessive amounts of weight and body fat, had blood sugar abnormalities associated with diabetes, and had increased levels of fats in the blood. Ironically this occurred regardless of total daily calories or total calories from fat.

The researchers say there is plenty of evidence showing that people who skip breakfast tend to have higher a body-mass index (BMI), as do people who engage in night eating. They also note that like the mice in the study, our circadian clocks do play a huge role in both our appetite and how we expend calories during the course of a day. Although individuals tend to vary how and what they eat throughout any given day, there is a tendency to eat carbohydrates early in the day and higher fat or more calorie dense meals later. So, it’s possible by reversing this pattern, we may be able to affect how we respond to carbohydrate rich meals (and associated weight gain) later in the day.

Granted, only time can tell and it’s essential to repeat this study in human. Plus there’s another fact that women in particular need to be aware of: hormones and age play a critical role in controlling metabolism, and how, when and where we gain weight.

Right now, the best strategy is to eat healthy foods, unsaturated fats and exercise. But if you are craving bacon, you may want to have it in the morning and not in a BLT or wrapped around a scallop later in the day.

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Just an hour a day keeps the weight away

Posted by on Mar 26, 2010 in physical fitness, weight, weight gain | 2 comments

Yikes! Seems like every time you turn around, there’s another study upping the ante on exercise. Last year, I wrote about 2005 USDA guidelines suggesting that adults need about 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity a day for health and weight maintenance, i.e. at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily to stave off gradual, unhealthy body weight combined 30 minutes daily can help prevent chronic diseases.  To achieve optimal physical fitness, the recommendations suggested the incorporation of cardiovascular conditioning, weight training, and resistance exercise to improve strength and endurance. Conversely, 2008 Federal Guidelines suggested that adults needed about 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise to maintain health, while the Institute of Medicine suggested 60 minutes a day to prevent weight gain. Confused yet?

Researchers followed a group of over 34,000 women (mean age ~54) for 13 years, examining their amount and type of weekly physical activity (e.g. high versus low intensity), body weight, height, menopausal status, use of hormones or not, chronic disease, alcohol use, smoking and diet. (If you’re wondering, high intensity refers to running. bicycling, aerobic exercise or dance or use of aerobic machines, while low intensity refers to yoga, stretching, tennis, squash or racquetball, and lap swimming.)

Overall, study findings showed that on n average and regardless of physical activity level, women gained almost 6 pounds over the course of the study. However, women who exercised anywhere from 2.5 hours to less than 7  hours a week gained significantly more weight then women who exercised at least 7 hours a week (or one hour a day). In fact, women who exercised less than an hour a day were significantly more likely to gain at least 5 pounds over the first three years of the study. Note that these results apply only to normal weight women (body mass index <25).

I’ve recently increased my level of physical activity to an hour a day, not because of these study results but because I’ve been unhappy about the hormonally-driven tire that’s starting to appear around my midsection. I must tell you; it’s a huge time commitment. Undoubtedly, if you are busy in your career or with your children, finding an hour a day to exercise can be difficult. What remains unclear is whether or not this hour can be divided into increments.

What do you think? Do you have the time? Are you motivated? Or does this information discourage you?

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Wednesday bubble: one drink makes you smaller…

Posted by on Mar 10, 2010 in diet, weight gain | 6 comments

Can one drink make you smaller? According to a study that appears in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine, light to moderate amounts of alcohol may help you gain less weight. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Intuition tells me that drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain because you end up taking in more calories than you burn (as well as the fact that those calories are carbohydrates). However, in over 19,000 women (aged 39 and older) with a normal body mass index (i.e. 18.5 to 25), women who reported not drinking any alcohol had the most weight gain over approximately 13 years. What’s more, women who reported drinking about 40 grams of alcohol daily were less likely to become overweight or obese. Women drinking less than 30 grams a day had a 30% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese than women who did not drink at all. In this study, the link between alcohol intake and overweight or obesity was seen for red or white wine, beer or liquor. The strongest association was seen for red wine.

In a separate analysis, the researchers also observed an association between declines in the amount of weight, increases in alcohol intake and older age. Comparatively, the magnitude of the weight gain was smaller in older versus younger women!

Importantly, the results seen in the study remained even after researchers made adjustments for lifestyle, clinical and dietary factors such as physical activity, the presence of chronic disease and consumption of other beverages (e.g. coffee, soft drinks, tea).

Granted, 40 grams is about 1.4 ounces or about half of a normal 5 ounce glass of wine. That may not meet the craving for a glass of wine. However, perhaps the larger take-away message is that a little wine can go a long way towards staving off weight gain. My RD friends might disagree but it’s an interesting ponder.

What do you think? Can one drink (or a half a drink) make you smaller?

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Battle of the middle-aged bulge: pick your poison

Posted by on Nov 27, 2009 in memory/learning, menopause, weight | 4 comments

That age old battle of the bulge just got more challenging.. Researchers are saying that middle-aged women who store fat around their mid section are twice as likely as their peers to develop dementia in old age. Yikes! More reason than ever to lose that belly fat, right?

Starting in 1960, researchers looked healthy and lifestyle risk factors in 1,462 women and then at various intervals for 32 years. They found that women who were broader around the waist than the hips by the time they reached middle-aged more than twice the odds of developing dementia if they lived beyond 70 years. However, a higher body-mass index did not infer a similar risk.

Whether it’s associated with aging, testosterone or declining physical activity, weight gain around the midsection has been linked with the metabolic syndrome, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.

So, we’re left with a choice – heart attack, stroke or losing our minds….Or, better yet, move your body. Exercise, start eating healthier and being more mindful of what’s going in and what you are putting out. Granted, we may not be able to fight the inevitable but we can at least try to stave it off or control it as much as possible. The bulge around the middle is the hardest area to attack. But it’s not impossible.

I’d love to get some fitness experts to weigh in on this. Anyone?

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Wednesday Bubble: What did I forget/hear/see/say…

Posted by on Jul 22, 2009 in exercise, memory/learning, menopause | 7 comments

If  you’re anything like me, you are starting to forget things. Things you need to do, why you walk into rooms, shopping lists, things you said, the whole nine yards. For me, it’s become the norm, not the exception and while I spend a lot of time making jokes about it, it also drives me crazy.

Yet, today’s Bubble is not one that I’m likely to forget. I’d like to think of it as one part inspiration and one part WTF? And it leaves me with a whole lot of questions to boot.

Study findings suggest that gaining weight during menopause may increase the risk for loss of gray matter. Gray matter refers to the cortex of the brain, which contains nerve cells. It is involved in muscle control, sensory perception (seeing/hearing), emotions, speech and finally, memory.

In this study, which was published in the online edition of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers evaluated brain imaging data, demographic information (height, weight) and behavioral measures (perceived psychiatric stress) obtained from 48 healthy postmenopausal women. Data were collected over a 20-year period.

The findings showed a unique association between increase in body weight during the transition from peri- to post-menopause (as measured by body mass index or BMI) and a 22% reduction in grey matter volume. These findings occurred in women who were otherwise healthy, had no history of heart disease or psychiatric illness and did not meet the threshold for obesity (>30 BMI). All women had also undergone natural menopause.

The researchers suggest that weight gain during menopause is a “highly modifiable risk factor” that may help to prevent or slow “potential alterations in brain function that are important to quality of life.”

I’ve written previous posts on cognitive issues during menopause, whether they be linked with life stressors, HRT or aging. Now it seems that researchers are telling us that weight gain may also be a risk factor.

Less clear is how much weight gain and what we should do about it. In general one solution to combating weight gain in midlife is restraint. Coupled with exercise, this may just be the magic formula. In the meantime, I think that we need a few more studies to take a closer look at brain matter changes in midlife.

What do you think?

I just forgot why I’m asking you that…!

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