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Deep dive – Intermittent fasting is it fad or fiction?
Many Australians claim to watch what they eat and even try to improve their eating habits. Many swear by diets ranging from the lemon detox to the Atkins diet to help them shed their winter weight, ready for summer. Today I will have a deep dive with a new and emerging way of managing your weight called intermittent fasting to see whether its just another fad.
The science of Fasting compared to a caloric restricted diet
The Minnesota starvation experiment looked at the physiological response of a caloric deficit diet. Conducted in 1944 it was one of the pioneer studies looking to understand the effects of starvation, due to the upcoming food shortage resulting from post WWII. For 3 months participants ate a diet of 3200 calories per day and for 6 months they ate only 1500 calories per day. The food that was given were high in carbohydrates like turnip, bread and potatoes, meat and dairy products were rarely given. After the 6 months of only 1500 calories per day all of the participants had the following complaints:
- Constantly cold
- Cardiovascular endurance dropped drastically
- Core body temp dropped
- Strength dropped by an approximate 20%
- Lost all interest in activities, and had an unnatural obsession with food
- Intense hunger
Compare this to Angus Barbieri, a Scottish man who in 1964 successfully fasted for 382 days. He lived on tea, water, coffee and vitamins and lost an astonishing 125kg from an original weight of 250kg, also setting the world record for the longest fast. He did this whilst exhibiting no negative symptoms and was able to walk around and ambulate freely. A case study on him published by the Dundee University, department of medicine concluded that his fast showed no ill effects. There were no complaints of mind-numbing hunger and he kept the weight off for several years. This case study further laid down the foundation for research to come.
These two studies show drastic differences between 2 methods of caloric deficits, with vastly differing effects.
Dr Jason Fung, a world leading expert on intermittent fasting and a practicing nephrologist, states that compared to fasting restricting calories can cause more muscle loss and less weight loss.
Hunger- Need or want?
Contrary to popular belief the longer we starve ourselves the less hungry we get, but why? Hunger is regulated not by our need for calories but by a hormone called ghrelin, which regulates our hunger levels and is closely related to weight gain. A study at the medical department in Vienna saw participants fasting for 32 hours, with their ghrelin levels measured every 20 minutes. Overall ghrelin levels didn’t seem to rise throughout the fast. However, it was found that ghrelin levels were lowest just before waking up, and rose approaching lunch, dinner and breakfast time, as if the body has learnt to expect food at those particular times. Ghrelin levels however tends to spontaneously drop 2 hours following a spike. This spontaneous loss of hunger can be experienced by the vast majority. I have personally experienced this spontaneous loss of hunger many times, especially when I am at work, really focused on what I am doing, and pushing food towards the back of my mind. Pretty quickly I forget about eating and am only hungry until after work or dinner time.
This is important for those who are going to start a fast or participate in intermittent fasting. It’s a good reminder that we will have waves of hunger throughout the day but if we can persevere and fight the hunger it will subside spontaneously, and definitely won’t get worse.
Where does the body get energy from when we fast?
When we fast and restrict ourselves from eating, we start utilizing stored energy. This utilization of stored energy is called ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state whereby which our bodies uses our stored energy (fat) instead of external carbohydrates for energy. For this reason, many people use ketosis for weight loss. Not only does it have a weight loss benefit, but it also helps with mental and physical efficiency.
A simple way to enter ketosis is to either limit yourself to around 50g of carbohydrates and not consume too much protein, or just not eat.
In the metabolic state of ketosis our resting energy expenditure (REE) or colloquially known as ‘metabolism’ rises. According to Dr Jason Fung, he showed that over a course of 4 days your REE increases, with an increase of approximately 11% by day 4. Human growth hormone, a vital hormone within human’s responsible for growth actually increases significantly after the 2ndday of fasting.
A case study looking at Tim Ferris, who participated in a controlled fasting experiment under strict conditions, allowed the process of ketosis to kick in quickly. At the end of the 7 days he lost 0 muscle mass. The strict conditions included no food intake, water intake only and light exercises of brisk walking up to 4 hours a day, promoted the state of ketosis the quickest. The proposed increase in human growth hormone may be the reason why Tim Ferris did not suffer any muscle mass loss.
Now comparing fasting to a calorically deficit diet. By eating small amounts of food you are effectively eating just enough to keep the body out of ketosis, priming the body’s metabolism for burning carbohydrates. This causes you to be in a state of perpetual hunger, not allowing your metabolism to click over to utilize stored energy, but still relying on exogenous energy (food).
By continually relying on small amounts of food for energy we will continue to rely on insulin to help regulate our energy. This is a double-edged sword since insulin inhibits the body’s ability to use internal energy stores (fat), but also helps the body to move energy into our cells. In this state we have no methods to use our stored fat as energy. On top of not being able to rely on eating enough food to get energy the body will do what ever it can to maintain function by reducing metabolism and breaking down muscles for energy. This can be why in the Minnesota starvation experiment participants had lost so much muscle mass and was in a constant state of hunger.
Intermittent Fasting – Where does this all fit?
Sadly, we cannot fast indefinitely. There will be a time where our body will need to rely on food, but we can do this without breaking the benefits of fasting. This is where intermittent fasting comes into play. By restricting our calorie intake to a certain time in the day and fasting the rest we essentially allow ourselves to lower our insulin levels between meals, far enough that we allow the body to be able to burn fat.
Dr Monique Tello, a lifestyle physician from Harvard Medical School, suggests these 3 tips for beginners to start intermittent fasting:
- Consider a simple form of intermittent fasting. Limit the hours of the day when you eat to am ~ 8-hour window. You can make it earlier (7am – 3pm) or later (10am – 6pm), but not in the evening before bed.
- Avoid sugars, refined grains. Instead eat a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, whole grains and healthy fats. If you need inspiration look at the Mediterranean style diet.
- DO NOT SNACK between meals. Let your body burn fat first between meals. Be active throughout the day.
Not everyone can adhere to this type of diet, and diets are in nature itself is a short-term thing. For you to sustain a long-term benefit from this style of diet, it has to be a lifestyle change. If you think this is something you can incorporate into your lifestyle and sustain over a long period of time, great! Do it! If not, consider something else.
Dr Deborah Wexler, Director of Massachusetts General hospital for Diabetes and an associate professor at Harvard medical school, comments “there is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an 8-10-hour period of the daytime, is effective”. However, she generally recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”
Before any major dietary changes please consult your physician first. With intermittent fasting it is not recommended for people with:
- Advanced diabetes
- History of eating disorders
- Pregnant or breast feeding
We hope that this has given you a greater insight to the world of fasting. If you have any feedback, or have tried fasting for yourself and would like to share your experience, please feel free to reach out to us on our Facebook Page!
Let’s talk hydration!
We can go for three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food. So, staying continuously hydrated seems to be a no brainer. Water serves as an integral part of the body and has important roles such as:
· Carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
· Regulating blood pressure
· Aiding digestion
· Preventing constipation
· Cushioning joints
· Maintaining electrolyte balance
· Regulating temperature
A common rule that many of us try and follow to stay hydrated is to drink 8 cups of water a day. But where did this rule come from? Well the myth that we need 8 glasses a day likely originated from a study conducted by the U.S food and nutrition board in 1945, where they recommended 2.5 litres of water a day. People took on board that advice without taking into consideration that the fluid recommendation included water that was naturally contained in food. People continued to follow this adage, even though till this day there is no research to show that 8 glasses is the optimal amount.
Maybe instead of following this old and arbitrary rule, why don’t we trust in what has worked for us for thousands of years, our body’s thirst response. We should let our body guide us, drink when you are thirsty and don’t ignore what your body is asking. Yes in certain conditions we need to drink more so than usual, such as when you have a urinary tract infection or diarrhea, or in some medical conditions we need to restrict fluid intake such as people with congestive heart failure, but let your general practitioner decide on that.
Using the colour of your urine is a more robust way to look at your hydration needs. Your urine should be light yellow, if it looks like water you’re drinking more than you need, if it is dark yellow or even orange you need to drink more.
Staying hydrated whilst exercising
While the risk of dehydration is well known and documented, it is possible to become overhydrated during exercise leading to a condition known as exercised associated hyponatremia (EAH). EAH is mainly associated with sporting events lasting more than 2 hours, so sports such as hockey, basketball and soccer would not be at risk. Hyponatremia is a condition where there is low salt concentration. During prolonged exercise excessive sodium loss can occur through sweat, coupled with many athletes consuming more water than is needed causes the concentration of salt levels in our blood to drop leading to EAH.
In 2002 the dangers of overhydration became known when a 28-year-old collapsed during the race and died two days later due to EAH. In subsequent years Harvard Medical School conducted studies and found that around 13% of Boston marathon runners had hyponatremia, with the strongest predictor of hyponatremia was due to excessive fluid intake. In fact, athletes who collapse from heat illness during exercise are often quite well-hydrated.
So how do we avoid this? Well because sodium is lost in sweat, it is very important for those are preparing for a marathon to get adequate sodium before, during and after exercise, especially if they continually drink water. As a safeguard during intensive prolonged exercise drinking fluids that contain sodium can help. However drinking sports drinks can only help slightly, with EAH mainly related to the total fluid intake during exercise.
The key is to simply drink when you feel thirsty, this be during exercise or day to day life. It isn’t necessary to stay ahead of your thirst. Try and have a glass of water with each meal and use the colour of your urine to decide whether you need another glass of water.
Barre, no it’s not where you head on a Friday arvo to wind down with your work colleagues and have a sneaky few … although maybe it should be!
Barre is a fusion of Pilates, old school cardio and Ballet all mixed together into a 60min heart pumping class - guaranteed to have you laughing, sweating and wondering why you hadn’t been doing this your whole life!
It solves the age-old question of ‘Cardio vs Weights’. The result - a lean and toned physique similar to that of a ballet dancer, minus the leotard (although you can wear leg warmers if you like!)
In all seriousness, this class is great for those who are looking to improve their cardiovascular fitness but at the same time want to strengthen the small core muscles of their spine, pelvis, hips, shoulders and feet. With its roots in ballet and Pilates, Barre class focusses on teaching you how to use your connection to the floor to create strength throughout your body. While the assistance of the barre enables you to work on your balance and control – ultimately aiming to be able to perform the class without the assistance of the barre.
A word of warning, this class is not for the faint hearted. The blood pumping tunes, thigh burning squats and general ‘no rest’ choreography means you will need to bring your best cardiovascular fitness. Not to fear – if you’re still working on it, the barre is the place to challenge it!
Ready to give it a go? Book into a Barre class today!
Stationary and sedentary jobs, the majority of us have them, and unless you have been living under a rock we all know the health risks associated with them. It seems like there are more and more diseases both mental and physical that are being linked to sedentary lifestyles. Depression, Lower Back Pain, Cancer, Increased levels of Stress and Anxiety, Poor Work Performance, the list is endless.
We have seen the rise of the stand-up desk, workplace social events, health insurance for employees all with the aim of improving employee’s productivity and their mental and physical wellbeing. But when push comes to shove, the only thing that has proven to combat the negative impacts of a stationary work environment is … wait for it … activity! Who would have thought!
So, while we all know an active lifestyle is the way to go, it’s not always easy to increase your levels of activity day to day. If you’re like the majority of Australian’s, the building pressures of work, family and social life tend to get in the way of that hour walk after work, the Saturday morning bike ride or the mid-week game of golf.
So, in the interests of your health, physical and mental wellbeing here are 5 easy ways to increase your activity when you’re at the mercy of a sedentary job!
1. Be Active to and from Work
This is a simple one and it has been said time and time again, but if you want to increase your step count, think about the ways you get to and from work as opportune times for adding activity. If you catch public transport, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive park a few extra blocks away from your destination and get a brisk walk in before you reach the desk. Is your desk in a high-rise building? Choose to take the stairs instead of the lift or escalators. Once you start actively looking for ways to move more on your way to and from work it’s amazing how many creative options you can come up with!
2. Be Active in your Lunch Break
More and more workplaces are realising the importance of this little gem. Not only for the health of their employees but also for their productivity, creativity, and general workplace moral. Encourage your employer to bring in external companies who can run a Pilates class in your lunch break. Sign up for a local session at a studio near you – many will run a high intensity 45min lunch time session that will have you back in your desk before the bell rings. The great thing about Pilates? You can work hard and still be sweat-free enough to head back to the office without your colleagues needing to move up wind from you on your return!
3. Actively look for opportunities during the day to leave your desk
Offer to do the Office Coffee Run, answer the phone, do the photo-copying or any other task that allows you to get up and out of your seat. Why not even throw a few wall squats in while you’re waiting for page 59 to scan? Re-fill your water bottle more times than you would normally, this has the added benefit of getting you to drink more water and use the bathroom more often, another great excuse to get up from your desk!
4. Enrol in a class that forces you to pay up front
The trouble with good intentions is that often they remain just that. “I intended to go to class after work / get up 45min earlier / enjoy that Sunday morning session”. However, all too often the pressures of work deadlines, family and social engagements are just that little bit more pressing and before you know it, Monday has rolled around again into a new week and you’re no closer to increasing your activity than you were last week. As much as it hurts to admit it, sometimes making a financial commitment to a class in advance helps to nudge the importance of this tasks a little higher up the to do list and soon you will find yourself in a routine of heading to your exercise class 3 times per week. Added benefit – most studio’s will give you a discount for paying in advance so not only are you committing to your health and wellbeing but you’re also helping your purse strings in the process!
5. Quit your job
Ok so this may not be a reality for many of us. However, there are a few of us who really could consider this. Perhaps a career change has been on the cards for a while and this might be the opportune time to look for a position which allows a little more movement flexibility. There are more and more roles available with flexible hours, work from home options and opportunities for scheduling your own activities around your work schedule. Have a think, you might be surprised at how you can still earn your keep while making work fit around you so your health doesn’t have to suffer. After all … what is wealth, money, or the ability to enjoy your life?
At BPS Tensegrity we offer a wide range of classes to work in with your busy lifestyle. Visit our classes page today to book: https://bpstensegrity.com.au/classes
The best way to describe The Dad Bod...
"The dad bod says, 'I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.' It's not an overweight guy, but it isn't one with washboard abs, either."
It's a look that's become one of the hottest trends at the moment. It's being rocked not only the dads, but by your everyday man and even celebrities; Leonardo Di Caprio, Vince Vaughn and John Ham.
And a looks a little something like this.
Like all trends they must come to an end and we say sooner rather than later. With father's day just around the corner, it's time to get to work on eradicating the 'Dad Bod' ... and we know just how to help!
Fellas, it's important to think about your health, not just now but in the long term. To me the 'Dad Bod' is a poor excuse—to exercise less and to care less about your body. We're not saying you need to become a fitness model or bodybuilder, but you can be causing yourself serious health concerns living by this fad!
Say no to the 'Dad Bod'
Why? Lets face it, no woman wants to be with a man sprouting man boobs, a flabby gut, and a growing list of potential health problems. It's no surprise the older we get the slower our metabolism becomes. Living a life with a bad diet, drinking a lot and exercising less could face a great risk of hearth disease, diabetes and cancer. Apart from the physical damage, dad bod can trigger reduced self-esteem, thus harming work, family and social activities
What to do? Pilates ... (no it's not just for girls ... don't believe us, here is the evidence!)
Develop neglected muscle groups. Let me start by saying Pilates is not just a ladies sport, it is in fact a whole body workout, and yes, it's hard! Whether you're a power-lifter, surfer or prepping for your first marathon, a Pilates class can help fine-tune your performance. Pilates exercises are made up of subtle, concentrated movements that can help you by focusing on those muscles that don't typically get a lot of attention.
Improve flexibility. Muscle flexibility is key for a youthful body, keeping you feeling young and enabling you to perform exercise routines to the max. In general, the more muscle mass you have, the less flexible you are. But Pilates' focus on stretching, which helps prevent injuries and muscle strains, and increases range of motion.
Improve core strength. Your core is the combination of muscles that support your spine and torso, these muscles form the foundation for all movements. Every Pilates exercise focuses on using your core to power movement in your body. Pilates promotes core activation and engages all of your postural muscles leading to more stable and powerful movements. Pilates also hits your transverse abdominals, the base ab muscle under your six-pack.
Have better sex. Pilates strengthens the core and the pelvic floor, and men who practice it have greater control of this region of the body - your wife can thank us later...
Do it for the kids. After all, if you're a dad with a Dad Bod, then your family deserves your absolute best—today, tomorrow, and in 10 years. We have parents and bubs classes - Dads you are more than welcome to come check it out. What a cuter way to ditch the dad bod than doing a Pilates class with your new bub.