A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleep deprivation led to increased calorie consumption. What does that mean exactly? It means that as you deprive yourself of a full night’s sleep, the result can be that you will eat more the following day.
The reason is not as simple as “well, I have a little more time on my hands, maybe I’ll grab a bite.” Sleep deprivation plays with two key hormone levels: leptin and ghrelin. Grehlin is a clever little hormone that increases your hunger. Skip those extra couple hours of shut eye and your grehlin levels increase, convincing your body that you are hungrier that necessary. And leptin, a powerful little hormone that tells your body its full and shuts your mouth, drops dramatically. In other words, your appetite will increase and there won’t be the usual shut off valve.
Interestingly, among the test subjects, the activity level of the people who slept fewer hours was much higher than the activity level of those that had a full night’s sleep.
But most of the activity was going to and from the refrigerator. And they were very grouchy and humorless.
So? What to do?
The key is to remember we are talking about biochemistry here. You may think that you can get away with fewer hours and just try calorie restriction, but in the end, the hormones will get the better of you. That’s what they are there for.
So sleep up!……and rock on!!
There was an article in New York Magazine a couple of years ago title “Does Exercise Really Make Us Thinner?” The article got under my skin– enough so that a couple of years later, I still use it as an example of ineffective, linear thinking. The premise of the article was that, despite what many might think, exercise can’t help us lose weight. It quotes several studies, including ones where people training for marathons wouldn’t have changes in body composition, despite several months of training. Exercise, the article states, increases our apetites, and therefore we consume more calories and don’t lose weight.
Idiots. (article continued below)
The first problem in developing a moronic argument like this is that it is going to be read by any number of heavy, sedentary people who are looking to exercise to help them lose weight and feel healthier. They read this article and throw in the towel because exercise is no longer worth it. The second, and far more intricate problem, is that the thesis examines only half the battle of the bulge.
Yes, exercise does increase the appetite. Increased fuel burn is going to increase the demand for fuel. All that fuel is summed up in that almighty word: calorie.
No matter how you slice it, weight loss can summed up by taking in fewer calories than you’re expending. With that deficit, the body has to burn up fuel stores, and that is primarily held as fat. Flip side: if you consume more calories than you expend, you pack on that extra fuel, again, usually as fat.
Now when we exercise, we burn extra calories. Exercise is necessary in this day and age, not only to keep our hearts, lungs and minds in tip top shape, but because, aside from actively seeking time to be active, we are, for the most part, completely inactive– trapped at the desk, driving from one point to another, crashed out on a sofa at the end of a long day.
Exercise will increase the appetite. But how we serve that appetite is the key point. Where are we finding those extra calories? If you eat 100 calories of broccoli and 100 calories of a Twinkie, your body is going to burn calories to breakdown that food. But your body is going to burn more calories burning 100 calories of broccoli than it will burning 100 calories of Twinkie– or any processed food, for that matter. On top of that, any of the sugar from the Twinkie NOT used immediately by the body will be stored….as fat.
So when you stumble home from the Spin class and feel like you should give yourself a little treat– a cookie, some Ben and Jerry’s, some chocolate– because of how hard you worked, remember the greater goal. That little treat may be a bigger obstacle than you think.
Whole foods are not just the healthy choice because of all the nutritional benefits, but because, in the grander scheme of turning your body into a calorie burning SUPER MACHINE, they are adding even more fire power.
If you have any questions regarding calories and healthy eating, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Starbucks, perhaps reacting to Dunkin’ Donuts swift move on the coffee market, has created the new “trenta”. Brushing up on my grade school French, it translates as “thirty”. It is a remarkable 31-ounce iced coffee. Yummmmmm…….
But perhaps it should have been called the Vingt, French for 20. Of course, this would have been confusing for the Baristas, as Venti is a coffee size that already exists in Starbuckese. But I have some sound reasoning behind this: the calorie punch behind this new drink is 200. Add some sweetener and some milk or cream and you can be looking at 220 calories of caffeinated excitement.
Now, a “normal” cup of coffee is about 6 to 8 ounces and many studies have shown that one or two cups a day may actually have health benefits. But 31 ounces? 220 calories?
“The new “trenta” will offer four to five cups of coffee in one serving, and unfortunately the additional caffeine will not “burn off” the excess calories,” says Jessica Bartfield, MD, internal medicine and medical weight-loss specialist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. “People need to recognize that that drinks are not necessarily innocent ways to quench our thirst, boost our energy, or satisfy a sweet tooth. Drinks are rather sneaky sources (usually) of empty calories – nutritionally deplete.”
And all those extra calories? We do the quick math and that cab lead to a weight increase of 2 pounds a month or 21 pounds a year. From your morning coffee. See? Venti equals 20. Oh so clever!
As I have said over and over again, it all comes down to portion size. We live in a society that savors excessive portions. And if you get served in a big cup, subconsciously you feel the need to drink more. That’s just how our brains work. Drink out of a small cup and your expectation to satisfaction because markedly less.
Portions portions portions. With everything. If you are trying to lose weight, or maintain your current weight, understanding calorie intake in situations like this is key. That doesn’t mean you have to skip your morning coffee. But it does mean you have to understand that ice coffee is not simply a refreshing beverage– it is a source of calories and all those calories are going to end up somewhere.
I know I know I know– I’m such a bummer: you have to walk into a store or coffee shop and think. But these companies are spending a great deal of time, money and brain power getting you to not think and simply consume more and more. And the effects can be frustrating at best, and, at worst, hazardous to your health.
If you missed it, check out the 8-year old discussing portions, particularly the insight regarding pancakes.
Didja know?? Dinner plates are about a third larger than they were back in 1960, encouraging us to fill our plates with almost 30% more food, according to Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Wansink also points out that we are perfectly willing to finish off at least 92% of the food on our plates regardless of the size. That means we are consuming many more calories than our Kennedy administration counterparts.
So what do we do?
Change plates. Instead of using the huge platters that the local housewares store calls “dinner plates”, try eating off of salad plates. The plate will look full (very satisfying psychologically) and you will still probably eat 92% of the food you serve yourself.
Oh and hey!! Skip the square plates! Quick geometry: a 10-inch square plate has about about 21 square inches more surface space than a 10-inch round plate. Stick with the round!!
Finally, a great piece in the New York Times last week to only add to the confusion.
First, the linear thinking: if one pound of fat is 3500 calories, then wouldn’t it make sense to simple cut our intake by a small amount, say 100 calories, daily? That way, in a little over month, we would be down one pound, right?
Wrong. It’s an argument that I am sure many of you are tired of hearing from me. Nothing about the health and well-being of the complex systme known as your body is ever that linear. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) notes that this line of thinking fails to take into account the body’s adaptive qualities. As you take in slighty fewer calories, you will lose a few pounds but then your body will adapt to function with a lower intake. As you take in a few more, it will adapt to function with the higher intake. The extra calories go to supporting the new extra weight.
But I still want you to think about the small steps.
Combine this with an increase in physical activity and the benefits increase. Now, start working out at a very high level, the “zero to 60″ theory of January 1st, and your body is going to crave the extra calories to support the new stress and strain of all the work. Fail to give the body the right materials and you are setting yourself up for breakdown. However, cut back slightly on the calorie intake, you can then increase your activity level slightly and start to roll back the dial on the scale. Then increase the activity level, then decrease the calorie intake…… you starting to get the picture?
The key is working intelligently and strategic and listening to your body. Cutting out 100 calories a day? You should be able to do that without blinking and without that horrible feeling of deprivation. Increasing the number of steps you take daily by 2000? Again, very easy to incorporate into your agenda if you know what to do.
But strict focus on calories in/calories out? Eventually your body is going to catch on and balance itself out……and then you are going to be frustrated……
…….and, of course, that’s not even taking into account what those calories are comprised of……..
It is with a great deal of guilt that I look at everyone at the studio working fiercely with their heart monitors. Yes, it is a brilliant tool. But it breeds compulsion. How many calories burned? How many of those calories are fat? How does this workout compare to yesterday’s? Does the workout really count if I don’t have my monitor with me?
Plug in all your personal information– height, weight, age, gender– and your goal– weight loss, weight gain, or sustaining your present weight. Lose it! then provides you with a log to track how much you are eating and exercising, giving you guidelines for attaining your goal. It comes with an incredibly thorough data base of foods, so, odds are, you will be able to keep very close track of your calories.
Another reason to get rid of your Blackberry……..
Didja know that if you Google “diet” you get 22.8 million different answers? This time of year, I feel there at least that many magazines on newsstands, all with the same bold headline—if you take part in this one Hollywood-glitzy-megastar- supermodel-fantastic-and-oh-so-practical diet, you are GUARANTEED to lose the weight you want to lose in a matter of DAYS!! It’s perfect time of year for all of this press. Everyone wants to lose a few pounds, and wouldn’t it be great if it were painless and simple?
Didja know that the word “diet” has its roots in the Greek word meaning “to lead one’s life?” But somewhere along the way (and I think it was with the advent of all the glossy magazines) the word diet has taken on a new meaning: a diet is that strange way that you eat for a brief period of time so that you can lose the extra weight that you have gained because of the way you normally eat.
I hate the word “diet.” Hate it. There are other words I hate more, but not many. Some clever writers say, “’diet’ is a four letter word.” Yeah, maybe, but there are other four letter words that I will let my two daughters use before I let them use “diet.” I think that diets set people up for frustration and failure. It instills a belief that health is based on losing 12 pounds in 12 days and that is a big problem from a health point of view. The first big problem is that once those 12 pounds disappear and you go back to your old habits, it is only a matter of time that the 12 pounds will return, and, more times than not, their going to be bringing some friends. The second issue is that the word divides life into two different periods—the time that we are on a diet and the time when we are not. And all the time when we are not on our “diet”, our habits are probably not all that great.
But you know that you have been up to no good for at least the last month or two, if not the last year or two, and its time to make some changes, feel better and possibly lose some pounds. Here are the two things you are going to do to start the year off right:
• Make one healthy choice per meal. If they say, “fries or salad?”, you say “salad.” If they say, “and to drink?” you say, “water, thank you.” You know the healthier choices. Fried or steamed? Apple or donut? Right. You get the picture. Make one healthy choice per meal. Before you know it, you can start making two or three, and then, ha ha ha, you will be eating healthier.
• Cut down on your portions. We eat far too much and all those extra calories lead to extra pounds. I switched to eating off of salad plates. The dinner plates that we use these days are huge compared to several decades ago. Consequently, we are huge compared to several decades ago. Use a smaller plate. Fill the plate once. Eat. Clean the plate. Meal is over. Done.
That is not it when it comes to food. But it is a really good place to start. And save the money and skip the glossy magazines.