You Snooze, You Win: How a Lack of Sleep Can Hold Back Your Weight Loss

In grade school, we were told that “You snooze, you lose.” Now as adults, we know sleep is important, but when life gets hectic it’s often the first thing we cut out. That’s truly our loss. In fact, crappy z’s could be a big reason you aren’t losing weight. Here’s why.

Source: You Snooze, You Win: How a Lack of Sleep Can Hold Back Your Weight Loss

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that despite an awful lot of money thrown at this by pharmas (it’s potentially the holy grail of a weight loss pill) while we have some interesting correlates on leptin and ghrelin and sleep and appetite, we haven’t really begun figuring out their mechanisms yet.

In fact, one of the more interesting bits of research that came out after that Chicago study was that that a population with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has levels of leptin far above what their BMI should indicate, yet they are entirely resistant to its effects on appetite.

It’s also why any study involving leptin or ghrelin should be screening participants for potential sleep disorders, as the latter can wildly skew data. Unfortunately, almost nobody does that.

You Can Measure Your Body Fat, but No Method Is Truly Accurate

If you say you want to lose weight, you’ll probably measure progress by stepping on a scale. But in truth, what you’re trying to lose is fat, and the number on the scale may not reflect that. There are many ways to measure your body fat percentage, but they all come with different levels of (in)accuracy.

Source: You Can Measure Your Body Fat, but No Method Is Truly Accurate

Stay away from impedance measurement – the reliability is simply too low to be valuable at any level (but specifically for the more inexpensive models found in gyms). There’s a reason we still teach skinfold measurement in university classes: while it’s not perfect, it’s accurate enough for non-elite athletes and the average person.

Ever Wondered What Two Weeks of Being Lazy Does to Your Body?

It’s the season of poolside piña coladas, lazy days, and vacations from the gym — which, as any swimsuit-wearing gal or chest-baring guy can attest, adds up to less-than-desirable results. How fast, exactly, will your muscle tone and strength deteriorate? That’s what researchers from the University of Copenhagen set out to determine in a new study, published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Source: What Two Weeks of Being Lazy Does to Your Body

It’s personally interesting, given that I broke a rib in March.   It was a week before I felt I’d dare try cycling.  It would be weeks before I’d try swimming, which in retrospect I still should not have done.  Back to my cycling – I went from leading the group to barely hanging on.  The best I could do was 2/3rds of the ride, and I’d get dropped on the hill climb because I no longer had the sustained power necessary to at least stay in the pack or be close enough to sprint up to the group after the hill.  I have to be more economic about my riding… for now, but I can dig in if necessary.

I’m roughly a little better than where I was last year, starting from zero in March.  So I’m waiting for cyclocross season in September to do what it did last year – race to a higher degree of fitness.  It was a shame to loose that fitness as triathlon season started, but I’ve got time.  I did better than I expected leading into 2015, so I fulfilled my promise about investing in a real road bike for next season.

Body Fat Can Signal the Brain, Affecting Stress Response

The brain’s effect on other parts of the body has been well established. Now, a group that includes two University of Florida Health researchers has found that it’s a two-way street: Body fat can send a signal that affects the way the brain deals with stress and metabolism.

…“The big question is the nature of that signal to the brain. We need to learn how to go in and break that cycle of stress, eating and weight gain,” Herman said.

Source: Researchers: Body fat can send signals to brain, affecting stress response

Fat releases estrogen as well.  Estrogen causes increased body fat which increases estrogen which increases body fat.  They actually found treating middle-aged men with testosterone therapy helped them to reduce their belly fat inches.  Keep in mind, the belly fat was lost from caloric restriction. The body was just not in “STORE FAT” estrogen mode so the fat came off easier and was not automatically restored upon eating.

Original research: Adipocyte glucocorticoid receptors mediate fat-to-brain signaling

How to Properly Carb Load Before a Race (If You Even Need To)

Ahh, the pre-race pasta dinner. It’s not just an opportunity to bond with fellow athletes, it’s also the last remaining excuse to think of spaghetti as health food. Carb loading isn’t necessary for everyone, but if you’re one of the people who will benefit, it’s time to learn the right way to do it.

Source: How to Properly Carb Load Before a Race (If You Even Need To)

Since Allen Lim’s food science wizardry, even the Euro cycling pros are eating more rice than pasta these days.  Don’t think I’m saying this being anti-gluten crazy, organic, artisanally harvested rice by cage free workers (humor, come on), but that exercise diets have changed a WHOLE LOT in the past seven years.

It’s very interesting to hear the 1.5 hr recommendation – that means a good portion of people doing sprint triathlons do not need to carb load.  But everyone is different – I recently rode 140 KM with someone who had to consume gels/etc every hour or so, and they still had trouble after the 100 KM mark.  They have less body fat than I do, but I also wonder what their carb intake is like.  As always, see what works for you because we’re not all the same.

Typical American Diet Can Damage Immune System

…Many reports have observed that heavier patients appear more likely to come down with infections during a hospital stay, acquire weaker protection from vaccinations and, as with River, suffer more complications from the flu.

Weight alone may not be the entire explanation. A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.

Source: Typical American diet can damage immune system

I think it was QI (highly recommended) where I heard about the study into hereditary genetics, how what grandparents ate was believed to affect grandchildren.

We Still Don’t Know What Jumpstarts Puberty

Maybe you grew so fast it left stretch marks on your legs. Or your voice started cracking every time you got on the phone. Or you hated needing to wear a bra. Growing up means going through puberty. It’s an integral part of becoming an adult. But we still don’t know how our bodies start the process.

Source: We Still Don’t Know What Jumpstarts Puberty

A lot of people point to hormones in meat, dairy & eggs for precocious puberty – especially in girls – I don’t think that’s been proven at all.  But I have seen studies suggesting that girls without a father/father figure tend to undergo puberty earlier than those who do.

New Study Says There’s No Such Thing As Healthy Obesity

There’s a persistent and controversial question dividing researchers: Can you be very overweight and also very healthy? The research suggesting people can be healthy at any size was intriguing. But the tide (and the research that supports it) is turning, with many researchers saying it’s simply not possible to be fit and obese.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that looked at 14,828 metabolically healthy Korean adults with no known heart disease found obese people had a higher prevalence of early plaque buildup in the arteries compared to normal weight people. The researchers defined obesity in the study as a BMI over 25; in the U.S. obesity is defined as a BMI over 35. The researchers conclude that even though these people may not have heart-related disease yet, their weight is still taking its toll on their health.

Source: New Study Says There’s No Such Thing As Healthy Obesity

I think the issue comes to what the definition of “obese” is.  Being “fat” amounts to anything other than an extremely low body fat percentage.  The news of “healthy fat” might have enabled some to overestimate their relative health, fooling themselves into thinking they don’t need to make more effort.  Those people are out there, but I truly believe they are a corner case – an extreme end of the spectrum, an outlier.

The best thing you can do right now is to treat people who are obese with kindness, and do healthy actions yourself for personal preventable measures and to increase a more healthy public perception towards nutrition and fitness.  Fat shaming does not work.

Why a Piece of String Could Be Better than BMI

For years, body mass index (BMI) has been a controversial method of determining whether a person has an unhealthy amount of body fat. And now, new research has found that it’s even less accurate than measuring with a piece of string.

Yup, string.

Source: Why a Piece of String Could Be Better than BMI

According to the BMI, Dwayne the Rock Johnson is morbidly obese.

How to Free Yourself from Food Cravings with Intermittent Fasting

Fasting for weight loss might sound as silly as drinking water for thirst, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Let’s look at a special kind of fasting, called intermittent fasting (or IF), that can be a powerful tool on your fitness journey.

Source: How to Free Yourself from Food Cravings with Intermittent Fasting

I would say IF has become a buzzword, and the hype around it has been inflated over the mild benefits. Much like any other fad diet, if you can be hungry for a while but not eat, you lose weight! It works for some people who just go hungry, but likely will result in poor long term weight loss like most fad diets.