Analysis on this topic is largely based on research which is observational in nature rather than cause-and-effect. Nevertheless, there does seem to be an observational relationship between metabolic rate, circadian rhythm and meal intake times. When you eat affects your appetite hormone levels (e.g., insulin) which may cause disturbances in your circadian rhythm and lead to metabolic syndrome (i.e., obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). Eating your biggest meal before 3pm tends to cause greater bodyweight loss than eating later.
A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity provides support that eating more food earlier in the day is more effective for losing bodyweight. This study compared two groups of participants: those that ate most of their food before 3pm and those who ate most of their food after 3pm. In both groups, caloric intake, macronutrient composition, activity level, sleep quantity, and appetite hormone levels were similar. The group that ate their biggest meal before 3pm lost more bodyweight at a faster rate than those who ate their biggest meal after 3pm. Other studies support this finding when it was discovered that those people who tend to skip breakfast are more likely to become overweight or obese than those who regularly eat breakfast. The reason for this may be because those people who skip breakfast tend to eat more food later in the day when their metabolic rate is usually reduced, thus perpetuating bodyweight increase.
BOTTOM LINE: Eating most of your food before mid-afternoon when your metabolic rate is elevated may be an effective and healthy habit for you to lose bodyweight. Certainly, avoid eating large late-night meals when your activity level is low--this is a recipe for weight gain!
The benefits of eating nuts far outweigh the risks. Nuts are high in fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds which promote good health. Nuts improve cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and help keep arteries flexible which minimizes elevated systolic blood pressure. Eating nuts regularly can also reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. The risks of eating nuts is excessive consumption of calories since nuts are relatively high in calories. This should NOT be of concern since the cardiovascular benefits of nuts (i.e., reduced risk of heart disease) far outweigh the risk of weight gain. In fact, eating nuts may actually reduce your bodyweight due to their relatively high protein and fiber content which makes you feel fuller longer so that you're less likely to eat as much food later. So go ahead, eat nuts but do so in moderation--think one handful per day.
Fruits and vegetables should be eaten regularly throughout the day (read: each and every meal). Why is it so important to eat fruits and vegetables? Here are the most notable benefits:
- Vitamins and minerals--prevents malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies
- Phytonutrients--reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancers
- Antioxidants--reduces free-radical damage
- Alkalinity--balances out acidic foods (e.g., grains, proteins)
- Fiber--improves blood sugar level, reduces appetite and increases digestive health
Inadequate nutrition is continuing to affect the health of most Americans, contributing to chronic health diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, vascular disease, kidney disease, joint pain, arthritis, and cancer. Such a shame since all of these diseases can be alleviated by eating a more healthy diet along with exercise. Here are the most prevalent problems associated with the American diet that need to be corrected:
- Excess sugar intake (i.e., typical American consumes 34 tsp of sugar daily--the USDA recommends no more than 10 tsp daily)
- Eating ONLY two to three meals daily
- Inadequate healthy fat intake (i.e., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats including olive and fish oil)
- Inadequate fruit and vegetable intake
- Eating too many calories later in the day (i.e., the biggest meal of the day should be breakfast, not dinner)
- Inadequate water intake (i.e., the recommendation is to drink at least 2 oz of fluid per pound bodyweight daily)
- Skipping breakfast
Type-2 diabetes is primarily a lifestyle-related disease and can be prevented by:
- maintaining a healthy bodyfat percentage (i.e., under 15% for men and under 22% for women)
- eating every three to four hours
- avoiding or lessening your intake of alcohol (i.e., less than five drinks per week)
- eating five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- eating at least 25g of fiber daily
- eating lean protein at most meals
- avoiding trans fats (i.e., hydrogenated fat) consumption
- exercising at least three to five hours per week (combine weight training with cardio)
- lessening refined sugar consumption except immediately after exercise
- eating foods with omega-3 fats (e.g., fish oil)
Exercise is the key
to reducing your risk of developing type-2 diabetes because it improves blood sugar and insulin sensitivity along with bodyfat reduction.
The typical American tends to eat a diet characterized by excessive saturated and trans fats due to an overconsumption of fast foods and red meat. Foods high in saturated fat
include beef, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, butter, cheese, and milk. Foods high in trans fat
include crisco oil, margarine, butter, shortening, crackers, candies, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, fried foods, baked goods, nondairy creamers, and meats. This is a recipe for a health disaster! The health consequences of eating this way day after day after day will become apparent soon enough when you go get a medical checkup. Here are just some of the health scares:
- Increased total cholesterol level
- Increased LDL (the "bad" cholesterol)
- Decreased HDL (the "good" cholesterol)
- Increased triglyceride level
- Increased inflammation (the source of a host of diseases)
- Increased blood viscosity (increases the risk of blood clots and stroke)
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of stroke
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Increased risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Increased risk of type-2 diabetes
- Increased risk of Multiple Sclerosis
- Increased risk of prostate cancer
- Increased risk of lymphoma
There is a growing body of research that supports the correlation between our food habits and chronic diseases such as obesity, Type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Hypertension, elevated LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), elevated triglycerides, unmanaged stress, heredity, and sedentary behavior are conditions associated with what is collectively known as metabolic syndrome
. All of these aforementioned conditions with the exception of heredity are due to lifestyle behavior. A healthy diet and exercise will resolve all of these conditions through time. There is a real concern among health professionals about the progression and serious complications of type-2 diabetes (i.e., kidney disease, heart disease, etc.) among children in this country. The most contributing factor for the type-2 diabetes trend in children is due to being overweight. The eating habits of those predisposed to type-2 diabetes should be of primary concert in addition to physical activity level.
A plant-based diet will certainly lessen the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, some cancers, obesity, and diabetes. If you do decide to eat a plant-based diet, make sure to take a vitamin B12 supplement as this vitamin can only be found in animal foods. Calcium from green leafy vegetables, tofu, legumes, and nuts is important. Omega-3 fats from flax, hemp, walnuts, and canola is recommended. Vitamin D must be acquired from sunlight (vitamin D3) as well as in supplemental form (vitamin D2). Iodine is also a consideration and can be found in green leafy vegetables as well as iodized salt.
Humans love sugar and salt and may consume foods containing these substances to the point when narcotic (read: drug-like) effects occur within the body. Yes, sugar and salt may behave like addictive drugs within the body. Blood levels of these substances may develop to a certain point of adaptation when the body needs more and more in order to feel comfortable. Classic food addictions are sodas, ice cream and chips. It's no wonder these substances are ubiquitous in our foods today. We love foods which are sweet and salty because of the taste (pleasurable) as well as the cost (cheap). The problem is that eating foods high in sugar can cause insulin resistance which may develop into chronic diseases (e.g., Type-2 diabetes and obesity). Sugar in excessive amounts in one's diet can become toxic to the body and cause metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease. A diet high in salt may cause water retention which may develop over time into health problems (e.g., hypertension, heart failure and stroke).
The majority of sugar and salt consumed in this country comes from processed and fast foods. Adding sugar and salt to foods is standard practice for food manufacturers because they're inexpensive, mask bad flavors, and act as a preservative (in the case of salt).
How can you limit your consumption of sugar and salt? The key is reading and understanding food labels. Learn to decipher sugar by its many names (i.e., corn sweetener, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, and molasses). Learn to decipher salt by its many names (i.e., baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate, sodium benzoate, sodium saccharin, and sodium nitrate).
Here are some tips to reduce your sugar intake
- Drink water instead of sodas and sports drinks
- Drink 100 percent fruit juice instead of fruit juice concentrates
- Avoid frosted (code for sugary) cereals
- Limit the use of syrups, jams, jellies and preserves
- Avoid baked goods (e.g., cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, etc.)
- Eat canned fruit packed in water or juice instead of syrup
Here are some tips to reduce your salt intake
- Eat fresh instead of canned vegetables
- Eat fresh poultry, fish and lean meats instead of canned or processed meats
- Add herbs or spices to foods instead of salt
- Cook rice, pasta and hot cereals without adding salt
- Limit frozen dinners, pizzas, canned soups/broths, and salad dressings
- Choose low-sodium canned foods (e.g., tuna, soups, etc.)
: Obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes need not be an inevitability in the United States and can be eradicated by lessening saturated fat and refined sugar intake while increasing fiber (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and unsaturated fat intake.
Eating egg whites and throwing out the egg yolks is a big mistake! To wit: egg yolks contain vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B5, B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, and vitamin D in addition to minerals such as selenium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Egg yolks are an excellent source of protein (8g each), omega-3 fats and antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and carotenoids.
Cholesterol should not be thought of as a health concern when eating whole eggs. Why? Because food cholesterol is NOT the same as blood cholesterol. That is, getting more cholesterol from food does NOT necessarily cause higher cholesterol levels within your body. It is a myth perpetuated by the media that cholesterol is the enemy. For one thing, increased blood cholesterol is associated with higher testosterone levels within the blood--that's a good thing! In addition, the media has continued to propagate the myth for several decades that high-saturated fatty diets and cholesterol are the root cause of heart disease and obesity. The irony is that since the eighties, the rate of obesity and Type-2 diabetes in this country has actually increased from eating low-fat, low-cholesterol foods. The real culprit is excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates (sugars)--not fats.
BOTTOM LINE: Egg yolks are a healthy source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Egg yolks are also a valuable source of protein to maintain strong bones and muscle tissue. The only caveat is to eat the yolks in moderation--two to three daily is okay. Athletes and bodybuilders alike are ahead of the general public on this issue--eating whole eggs is the way to go to stay strong and healthy!
What I've found with the majority of my clients is that they're not getting enough sleep. It becomes very apparent when, for instance, a client feels sluggish and yawns during the exercise session (!). Not giving your body and mind the needed recovery time via sleep is a recipe for disaster in terms of losing body weight. In fact, I would go so far to say that the time working out in the gym is virtually wasted if there is a lack of sleep. In essence, sleep is what the body and mind need to recover from the day's events and to feel refreshed and more energized upon waking up.
Getting adequate sleep (e.g., 7 to 8 hours) is just as important as nutrition and exercise in staying healthy and fit. There is a growing body of research that indicates that lack of sleep is a contributing factor for the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country. Hormones such as leptin, ghrelin and cortisol are affected by sleep quality and quantity. Not surprisingly, all of these hormones are also involved in governing appetite. Thus, there is a correlation between lack of sleep and increased appetite. In other words, inadequate sleep makes you feel more hungry, especially for high-fat, high-calorie foods during the evening.
What can you do to increase the amount of sleep you're getting? Start by watching less television at night and restrict the amount of time spent on the computer.
Need more reasons to get more sleep at night? Here's eight benefits of getting more shut-eye:
- Better health (i.e., lessens the risk of heart disease, hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity)
- Better sex life (i.e., increases energy and testosterone levels)
- Less pain (i.e., may increase pain threshold)
- Lower risk of injury (i.e., lessens the risk of auto accidents)
- Better mood (i.e., less likely to be cranky or uptight)
- Clearer thinking (i.e., improves cognition, attention and decision-making skills)
- Better memory (i.e., increases the brain's ability to store memories)
- Stronger immunity (i.e., lack of sleep may make you more susceptible to getting sick)
When you lose bodyfat a whole multitude of positive healthy outcomes takes place including:
BOTTOM LINE: Exercise and a healthy diet can resolve many chronic conditions plaguing humans today. Instead of reaching for quick-fix medications which may have side-effects, reach for a dumbbell and eat your broccoli.
- Reduction in migraine headaches
- Decreased cholesterol levels
- Decreased bodily inflammations
- Decreased risk in fatty liver disease
- Lessening of metabolic syndrome
- Decreased risk of type-2 diabetes
- Decreased risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Reduction in depression
- Lessening of obstructive sleep apnea
- Reduction in asthma
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Decreased risk of hypertension
- Decreased risk of GERD (Gastrointestinal Esophageal Reflux Disease)
- Reduction in urinary incontinence
- Decreased degenerative joint disease (e.g., arthritis)
- Reduction in gout risk
- Decreased mortality
- Increased quality of life