Monday, 28 October 2013

‘Its in my genes’

Best excuse ever for being obese – ‘I can’t help it – its how I’m made’ – well, there just might be some truth in that!

Cambridge scientists have found that there is a very specific genetic mutation in some people that can increase appetite and slow metabolic rate – bit of a double whammy there.  So far they have studied people who are obese in childhood, but the lead researcher is wondering if there is a chance of a wider application.

But I don’t think we are going to be able to blame weight gain on our genetic make up (or get the necessary genetic treatment to rectify the problem).  So, enticing as it is, we can’t slink back into the settee with an excuse – we need to carry on with our healthy food intake and be as active as we can – back down the gym – not off to the GP to check your genetic make up!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Smoothie or coffee?

Dr Michael Mosley talked about smoothies v coffee in terms of health benefits

Why do we think that drinking coffee is ‘bad’ for us in the first place – well according to Dr M its because the studies that have been done compare coffee drinkers to non coffee drinkers and apparently coffee drinkers are more likely to have other ‘bad habits’ eg smoking and drinking alcohol.  However, a different type of study which looked at the coffee drinking habits of 130,000 people over 20 years showed that drinking coffee is not such a bad thing after all – in fact it suggested that moderate coffee drinking is mildly protective of our health

Another study even showed that those who drank 2 to 4 cups of caffientated  coffee a day were half as likely to commit suicide that those who drank decaff or less than two cups a day!  This was a large longitudinal study so should have some credibility.  Coffee may be a mild antidepressant as it increases levels of neurotransmitters in the brain which are known to improve mood.  (By the way, we are talking ordinary coffee, not high calorie cappuccinos etc!)

So, why not smoothies?  Lots of fibre is lost in the peeling and smashing up, leaving you with a sugary drink. It has been found that eating fruit cuts your diabetes risk but drinking it increases the risk.  And bits get stuck in your teeth so your dentist may not be keen.

Similarly, eating fruit is better than drinking it when it comes to colo rectal cancer.

So – some coffee and some fruit – that’s got to be better than no coffee (or loads of coffee) and too many of those high sugar, low fibre smoothies!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Is butter best?

So, yet another study, yet another bit of advice – today we are told that its fine to have butter – in fact its more than fine – butter is better than margarine for us. 

Dr Malhotra writes in the BMJ that there is too much focus on the fat content of foods and too little emphasis on the amount of sugar.

Dr Malhorta tells us that a Mediterranean diet of olive oil, nuts, oily fish, plenty of fruit and veg and a moderate amount of red wine – after a heart attack is almost three times as powerful in reducing mortality as a statin. 

However, the British Heart Disease says that reducing cholesterol through drugs or other means does lower heart risk.

So, how do we decide what advice to follow?

I suggest we use the ‘moderation in all things’ approach.  A small spread of butter on a piece of wholemeal probably won’t be a calamity, a thick spread of marg and several slices of white bread won’t do much good at all!

And check those low fat yoghurts, you will often find that there are way more calories in the low fat variety (because they needed lots of added sugar to make them palatable.  One small, plain basic yoghurt may be no worse than a low fat with added sugar complete with a sugary lot of fruit to add as well.

Some of the best things we can do to keep our hearts healthy is to take regular exercise, keep our weight down and not to smoke.  And of course, to eat a healthy, balanced diet – and if that includes a little butter – that’s probably OK.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Just stand up!

On the BBC web site there’s a great article on the benefits of standing up.  We spend most of our day sitting down or in bed – and we could burn loads more calories if we spent more time standing – a whopping great 30,000 extra calories a year if we were to stand up for 3 hours five days a week.  That’s the equivalent to 8lb or to running about 10 marathons in a year!

So, if you see me in the office standing at my desk – you’ll know why.

Dr Buckley of Chester University who carried out this study acknowledges that exercise has many proven benefits – so don’t give up on the gym – just stand more in the hours that you are not working out.  Dr Buckley found that the blood glucose levels after eating dropped back to base line more quickly in those who were standing – so perhaps that old rule of ‘sit down whilst you are eating ‘ needs looking at?

So – want to burn a few extra calories – just get off your butt!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bounce Balls - Protein Snack

Pick up something good
Looking for a high protein snack ?  Grab something good – we have a box of Bounce Balls in the gym – peanut flavour – try one after your workout – only £2 each – if they are popular (they are really delicious) we will get some other flavours in too

Try one – let us know what you think

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Why bother to exercise?

Why bother to exercise?  It’s one of those strange things – you won’t know you like it till you’ve done it!  And even once you know you like it you may not always want to do it.

But we know it’s good for you, exercise can help to:

·         Manage your weight

·         Strengthen your bones

·         Enhance your muscles

·         Reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer

·         Improve your mood

OK – so you know it’s good for –but how do you persuade yourself to do it?

We suggest that you keep your goals in sight

If we are going to get the suggested 150 mins of exercise in every week  we need to keep the reasons why clearly in view.

·         Perhaps its dropping a dress size – getting ready for a special event

·         It could be the health benefits

·         Release of stress at the end (or the beginning even!) of the day

·         It might even be just because you feel smug when you have finished!

Whatever the reason – keep it in the front of your mind – you know you’ll feel better when its over!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Are you getting enough sleep?

We all know that we need sleep and we do know that lack of sleep and increased stress will interfere with our weight management.   I was reading a report on the BBC news web site which has told us even more reasons why getting a decent amount of sleep is imperative.

‘Deep sleep sounds restful, but during it our brains are actually working hard. One of the main things the brain is doing is moving memories from short-term storage into long-term storage, allowing us more short-term memory space for the next day. If you don't get adequate deep sleep then these memories will be lost.’

Memories need to be consolidated in 24 hours of being formed or they are lost (not great if you are revising for an exam!)

Deep sleep only lasts for a few hours, the brain goes through multiple phases of another kind of activity, called REM sleep.

"This is the phase when you are usually paralysed - so you can't move," Wulff explained in the article. But the eye muscles are not paralysed, and that's why it's called rapid eye movement sleep."

During REM sleep an extraordinary thing happens. One of the stress-related chemicals in the brain, noradrenalin, is switched off. It's the only time, day or night, this happens. It allows us to remain calm while our brains reprocess all the experiences of the day, helping us come to terms with particularly emotional events.

Drinking alcohol late at night is not a good idea as it reduces your REM sleep while it's being processed in your body.

Dr Simon Archer and his team at Surrey University were particularly interested in looking at the genes that were switched on or off  by changes in the amount of sleep that people in a controlled experiment had.  "We found that overall there were around 500 genes that were affected," Archer explained. "Some which were going up, and some which were going down."

What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours' sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.

Fascinating scientific evidence that sleep really is good for you

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Free weights and women

Great article in the Guardian yesterday – ‘free weights and women’.

It talks about how free weights areas can be intimidating places where big sweaty men make lots of noise. A couple of things about that preconception and a Forefront Fitness gym.

First of all – our free weights only go up to 25kg per dumbbell – that’s about 4 stone – for everyone that uses our gyms – that’s enough.  We have had one or two very big men come and have a look round and they have said that the gym is not for them because the weights aren’t heavy enough. 

Secondly – our gyms are friendly places where you are more likely to see a big man helping a woman with the pin in the cable machine than watching him sweat and preen.  Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of very strong men in our gyms – but their lifting form is good and they don’t feel the need to grunt!

We have a zero tolerance on drugs and would never recommend drug support to bulk up.

We also have many women in our gyms who know how to lift appropriate sized weights.  They lift weights that help them to build strong muscles that burn calories way after the weight session has finished. 

So, using advice from the NHS the recommendation is to use bodyweight and resistance exercises to ‘build muscle, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes’.  In fact a study by Evans & Rosenburg in 1991 suggested a link between amount of muscle and longevity. 

So, come along to a Forefront Fitness gym a book a Forefront Fitness Personal Trainer and learn how to lift – you could be doing yourself all sorts of favours.

Friday, 4 October 2013

One Small Step

This week something special happened, one of my clients got up from the floor on her own – she didn’t need my hand to help her. (She is happy for me to tell you all this). So what, you might be saying? Well, this lady hasn’t been well and has worked hard to get her mobility back. She has worked on her core so she no longer falls over and on her legs to regain lost muscle. She has pushed herself to balance on the Swiss Ball and to use progressively heavier weights to build muscle in her upper body. And its paid off – and watching her get up without any help was amazing. Exercise is powerful, its life changing. Push yourself – you don’t know what you can achieve until you try!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Drugs vs. Exercise

Well, we always knew – but there’s nothing like an article in the British Medical Journal to prove a point – published yesterday the article states: Conclusions, although limited in quantity, existing randomised trial evidence on exercise interventions suggests that exercise and many drug interventions are often potentially similar in terms of their mortality benefits in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, treatment of heart failure, and prevention of diabetes. So – this means that although the experiment had limited numbers there is no measurable difference between using drugs or doing exercise for patients who have Coronary heart disease and want to prevent further trouble, for those rehabilitating after a stroke, for treating heart failure and for preventing diabetes. Bit of an obvious choice if you ask me – drugs almost invariably have side effects and aim to ‘treat’ a certain condition. Exercise treats the whole body, and its direct effects are multiple; lifts mood, keeps mobile, manages weight (and so reduces risk of many diseases), increases energy levels, improves self esteem and its cheap! According to ‘NHS Choices’ web site: It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have: • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer • a 30% lower risk of early death • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults) • up to a 30% lower risk of depression • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia “If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant. So all of you that exercise regularly (about 150 mins a week) – think of the good you are doing yourself. Need help and advice to get more active? - Just contact us

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sugar and obesity

Reading the Sunday Times yesterday was a bit scary – according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 23% of adults in the UK are obese, (in France its 11.2%) and this is being partially attributed to the amount of sugar that we are consuming – sometimes without even knowing that we are. The recommended maximum amount of sugar for a woman is 90g and for a man 120g – a bit of context for you – a teaspoon of sugar is 4g. So, how about that Large Costa Red Berry fruit cooler? 97.1g ! - OK – lets go for a Starbuck’s Skinny Lemon and Poppyseed muffin – 44.4g of sugar Right – a healthy choice then? A strawberry Muller Greek style Youghurt Corner – 24.2g combined with glaceau Vitamin water – another 15g – even that is nearly 4 teaspoons of sugar! I guess you wouldn’t put 4 spoons of sugar in your tea – but pop it in a ‘healthy’ drink and we will swig it down. Think of the sugar high, the insulin rush and the blood sugar dip that is sure to follow. Think weight gain and diabetes risk – we know that there is a high correlation between waist measurement and type 2 diabetes. So, what can we do? Well, avoid the obvious and check the unsuspecting – the information we need is on the tub, the packet, the wrapper – try to envisage a pile of sugar – and if you wouldn’t eat that – then leave the coffee frappucino and give your waist line a break!