Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fit Tip 4 The Morning - Use Mustard's FT4TM: Use Mustard! - This is another low/no calorie condiment you can use to add flavor to your chicken breast, fish, or veggies.  But BE CAREFUL!  Some have added sugar or corn syrup, so read the ingredients!  As an added plus, mustard seeds are great sources of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, magnesium, and selenium!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Check out my LIVESTRONG Articles!

Be sure to check out my articles on!   Here are the links, there are MORE TO COME!

1.  How to Make Your Upper Pectoral Muscle Bigger 

2.  What Gym Machine Should I Use for Hamstrings?

3.  Does Cooking Destroy the Phytochemicals in Broccoli & Cauliflower? 

4.  Does Interval Running Help to Lose Weight Faster?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pasta Substitute: Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is one of the BEST pasta/carb substitutes out there.  It is a great source of fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium, niacin, and manganese.  Also, it is very low in calories and carbohydrates.  One ounce of baked spaghetti squash contains 8 calories, 2 grams of carbs.  So here's a quick guide on how to prepare spaghetti squash.

1.  Preheat oven to 400 deg.
2.  Cut the squash in half length wise.

3.  Remove seeds and pulp (as you would with a pumpkin).

4.  Fill baking pan with water (about 1/2 inch high)
5.  Place spaghetti squash halves face down in baking pan
6.  Bake for 30-40 min.
7.  Turn spaghetti squash halves face up; let stand for 10 min.
At this point, you should be able to remove the inner contents with a fork.  The contents should come out in strands, similar to spaghetti.  

Use cooked spaghetti squash as you would with regular spaghetti.  Now you can have spaghetti with a healthy marinara/meat sauce.  Personally, I like to have it with eggs, ground turkey or chicken breast, and veggies.  Experiment, find what you like, and enjoy the food! 

Dr. O 
"I don't live to eat...I eat to live!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Check out my article, "How Sex Can Help or Hurt Your Training", in the July/August 2011 issue of the WBFF's Fit & Firm Magazine!

Check out my article, "Overtraining and Your Well Being", in the June 2011 issue of the Southern Indiana Fitness Source!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Better to Eat Your Carbs at Night? - Dr. O's Analysis

I.   Introduction 
II.  Experimental Design
III. Results
IV. Conclusion
V.  References
I.  Introduction

This article is a perfect example of why it is important to ALWAYS seek new knowledge.  However, it’s also an example of how some research papers do not COMPLETELY support their hypothesis and leave reasonable doubt.  People, it's not just about the title and the abstract!!  I've read multiple reviews of this paper, and everyone is claiming this is the best strategy.  HOLD ON!!  The results aren't that clear.  I'll give you a clue, the title of this journal article starts with "Greater Weight Loss...", not "Greater Fat Loss..."

In regards to healthy eating, one of the common rules of thumb is to "eat low glycemic carbs throughout the day and avoid carbs at night".  I think everyone would agree that this practice is much better than eating high glycemic, refined carbs.  It promotes the maintenance of a healthier and leaner body.  But when it comes to fat loss, can it get better?  In other words, if you are keeping carbs in your diet, is eating low glycemic carbs throughout the day the best strategy for losing fat?  The following article challenges this theory and suggests that it may not be.

A study by Sofer et al. (2011) was conducted to investigate the effects of eating carbohydrates mostly at dinner on a variety of health parameters.  The authors’ theory behind this diet is that with a single daily insulin secretion (from carb intake) at dinner, there would be a higher concentration of leptin (a.k.a. - the satiety hormone) in the body beginning 6-8 hours later (the next morning and throughout the next day), potentially reducing hunger throughout the day.  
II.  Experimental Design

78 police officers were divided into two diet groups.  Each diet was “a standard low-calorie diet (20% protein, 30–35% fat, 45–50% carbohydrates, 1,300–1,500 kcal)”.  The control diet distributed carbohydrate intake throughout the day while the experimental group had most of their carbs at dinner.  The following diet programs were followed for 6 months:
Sofer et al., 2011 - Experimental and Control Diets followed for 6 months
III.  Results

     A.  Physical Changes
 After 180 days, both diets resulted in significant reductions in weight, BMI, abdominal circumference, and body fat percentage.  The experimental diet resulted in greater reductions in all of these parameters than the control diet; however, only weight loss was significantly greater in the experimental diet group than the control group (…raises eyebrow…).

     B.  Hunger-Satiety Questionnaires 
Subjects also completed Hunger-Satiety questionnaires (HSQs), which consisted of descriptions “ranging from starving (1 point) to devastatingly full (10 points)”.  HSQs were filled out at 8a, 12p, 4p, and 8p on day 0, 7, 90, and 180.  Higher questionnaire scores correlate to greater satiety and less hunger.  By day 90, experimental group HSQ values were significantly higher than the control group at noon and afternoon.  By day 180, experimental group HSQ values were significantly higher than the control group at noon, afternoon, and at night (…slightly lowers eyebrow…just slightly).

     C.  Biochemical Factors
Changes in the following biochemical factors were also analyzed:

Insulin: Both the control and experimental diet resulted in a significant decrease in insulin levels by day 180 (compared to day 0).  However, insulin levels were significantly lower in the experimental diet group.

Fasting Glucose: The experimental diet also resulted in significantly lower fasting glucose levels at day 180 when compared to day 0 (20% decrease).  The control diet decreased fasting glucose levels, but the change was not statistically significant (8.3% decrease).

Cholesterol:  Both diets resulted in similar decreases in LDL-cholesterol concentration at day 180 (experimental = 9.7%; control = 7.6%).  However, the experimental diet resulted in a significantly greater increase in HDL-cholesterol concentration at day 180 (experimental = 40.8%; control = 26%).

Leptin: Leptin concentrations decreased significantly in both groups by day 90 and 180.  However, there was no significant difference in this decrease between control and experimental diets.

Adiponectin (regulates lipid and glucose metabolism; more is better): The experimental diet resulted in a significant increase in avg. 12-h adiponectin concentrations at day 180 as compared to day 0 (43.5%).  The control diet increase was insignificant (13.9%).
IV. Conclusion 

This article suggests that eating most of your carbs at night is more beneficial for decreasing hunger and improving certain biochemical factors.  However, it is still unclear whether the experimental diet results in greater reductions of physical factors such as BMI, abdominal circumference, and body fat percentage (due to the lack of statistically significant differences in data).  The experimental diet only resulted in significantly more weight loss, which may include both muscle and fat.  Also, there was no difference in changes in leptin concentrations between the experimental and control diets, which disproves the authors’ leptin hypothesis.  This issue may have been cleared up if the authors had a better diet protocol.

Subjects maintained “a standard low-calorie diet (20% protein, 30–35% fat, 45–50% carbohydrates, 1,300–1,500 kcal)”.  However, one of the most common recommendations for maintaining muscle and losing fat is to increase protein intake.  Many personal trainers and nutritionists recommend a low-calorie diet consisting of 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fat.  Furthermore, people that follow a Paleo, low-carb, or ketogenic diet may eat even more protein and less carbs.  Therefore, a diet with 45-50% of calories from carbohydrates may be an issue, no matter what time of the day you eat them.  If I were to conduct a follow up study, I would lower this carb intake.  Nonetheless, this article does raise some interesting questions about the status quo.
V. References

1.    Sofer, S., et al., Greater Weight Loss and Hormonal Changes After 6 Months Diet With Carbohydrates Eaten Mostly at Dinner. Obesity, 2011. 48: p. 1-9.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Healthy Eating on a Budget

1.  Simplify your menu
2.  Get a Sam’s Club or CostCo membership
3.  Buy in Bulk
4.  Find every local grocery store and sign up for their bonus card 
5.  Buy spices...and LOTS OF 'EM!
Yes, I know…it’s not cheap to eat healthy!  As a graduate student, I only had so much money left after paying bills to spend on food.  So I’d like to share some of the tools I used to keep my refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets full of healthy foods, vitamins, and supplements.

1.  Simplify your menu
When you’re on a budget, you don’t have the luxury of diversifying your menu…sorry!  If you want to eat healthy, it’s just a necessary evil.  Some of the cheaper foods include (listed from cheapest to not as cheap): 
Protein: pre-frozen chicken breasts, pre-frozen tilapia, fresh bone-in chicken breasts, eggs
Carbohydrates: Quaker Quick oats (unflavored)
Vegetables: Frozen veggies, fresh veggies

Now, if at all possible, I would avoid frozen protein and vegetable sources, due to the lack of nutrients compared to fresh meats and vegetables.  But hey, it’s better than nothing.  But if you want your foods fresh, the following strategies will definitely help!

2.  Get a Sam’s Club or CostCo membership
Don’t be deterred by the membership fee!  These wonderful establishments will save you money in the long run.  In many cases, their prices will be cheaper than local grocery stores.  So you are able to “splurge” on fresh vegetables, meats and fruits.  This also leads to my next tip…

3.  Buy in bulk 
At Sam’s Club or CostCo, you usually don’t have a choice because most of their products are sold in bulk.  Take advantage of this!  As a grad student, I’d get the same thing from Sam’s Club: chicken breasts, Quick oats, eggs, and broccoli…in HUGE quantities!  This also applies to buying protein powder (if this applies to you).  I used to order 10 pound bags of protein powder.  It’s a large upfront cost, but it is much cheaper than buying little shakes and 1 pound tubs of protein powder.  Buying in bulk will also save gas money by decreasing the amount of trips to the grocery store.

4.  Find every local grocery store and sign up for their bonus card  
Why? Because at least every week, you should be able to find ONE store having a sale on something you need.  Fruits? Chicken breasts? Eggs? Veggies?  You’ll find it.  How?  Because all of their sale advertisements will be mailed to you!  Don’t throw them out!  For example, whenever I needed chicken breasts, I could always catch a $0.99/pound sale.  And I’d literally buy ALL of the chicken breasts.  I’m not joking!  I wouldn’t have to buy chicken for another month.

5.  Buy spices…and LOTS OF EM! 
This is the cheapest way to keep your taste buds (somewhat) alive.  Since your menu is so simple, you need to try every possible variation for flavoring your food.  If you saw my cabinet, you might think I’m Emeril.  Nope…I just had to find a million ways to flavor my chicken breasts.  Also try different marinades (not high in sodium and without high fructose corn syrup or excess sugar).

Implementing these tools kept me fit while in graduate school, so give them a try!