Sexercise? Why You Should Be Having More Sex.

6 12 2013

sexercise

Does sex count as exercise? You bet it does. A recent study performed at the University of Montreal at Quebec compared the effects of jogging to the effects of sex in 21 young heterosexual couples. The results? Although not as physically demanding as jogging, sexercise scored at about the same level as walking uphill- which is something that all of us should do more often. All in all, both activities fall into the low-moderate intensity cardio level. The study also found that sex burns 3-4 calories per minute (slightly higher for men), so a solid half-hour session of foreplay and intercourse can burn around 100 calories; not bad for something so damn enjoyable.

Additionally, here are some other ways in which sex is beneficial to our overall health:

  • Improves the immune system. Sex is just as beneficial to your immune system as getting enough sleep and eating right.
  • Improves bladder control in women. Orgasms cause contractions in the muscles of the pelvic floor, strengthening these important muscles. Incontinence will affect 30% of women at some point in their lives.
  • Lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. Due to the fact that sex is indeed a low-intensity exercise, it has the same heart-healthy benefits as other forms of low-intensity cardio. Studies also indicate that for men, ejaculating on a more frequent basis can help decrease the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Balances sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Low levels of sex hormones can lead to things like osteoporosis and even heart disease.

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    Sex. Sex is the answer.

  • Increases libido. Having sex will make you crave more sex- and yes, this is a case where more is better!
  • Relieves pain and stress. In women, sexual intercourse can reduce the burden from chronic pain, menstrual cramps, and yes, even headaches. Orgasms cause levels of oxytocin to rise dramatically in the body, which stimulates the release of endorphins that increase the body’s pain threshold and increase feelings of well-being.
  • Improves sleep. After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness.

So, should sex be your only form of exercise? Absolutely not, but it is certainly something that responsible adults should do on a regular basis, especially on days where overall activity levels have been low- can you think of a better way to get in 30 minutes of healthy activity? I sure hope you can’t.

For more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle, you know how to find me!

Happy Friday!

DW





Portion Size and Control

11 04 2013

My recent post on the unreliability of Nutrition Facts Labels made me realize just how important it is for people to understand the concept of portion control, and in order to enforce portion control, we must first understand the caloric content of portions. In order to determine such information, we need to know 3 things: the appropriate size of a portion, the number of calories per type of macronutrient, and the macronutrient composition of the food being measured.keep-an-eye-on-your-portion-sizes

Portion sizes

Before redesigning the wheel, let me refer you to another blog that specializes in portion sizing: Precise Portions.

You can find many visual cues online as well, much like the one on the right. Some basics include:

Meats: deck of cards

Starches, grains and fruit: size of a tennis ball

Nuts: palmful

Calories per type of macronutrient

This is the easiest part:

1 g carbohydrate = 4 kcal

1 g protein = 4 kcal

1 g fat = 9 kcal

Macronutrient composition of foods

Herein lies the tricky part. The truth of the matter is that it takes a long time to memorize the specific macronutrient breakdown or most foods. I’ve been working on this for so long that I have an excellent idea of the macronutrient breakdown of any meal put in front of me, and in turn can calculate the approximate calorie content. The key is that you have to accept that you’re always going to be ballparking. Meats are always a mix of fat and protein, and the cut of meat and cooking time/style can alter the calorie content as well. Oils, both for cooking and for use on salads and other dishes, are always tricky. If you prepared the meal, you’ll know how much oil you used, but if you receive a meal in a restaurant, oils are the main ingredient that can throw off anyone watching their diet. For this reason, it’s always wise to ask for dressing and sauces on the side, so that you can control the amount of extra fat (the most caloric macronutrient) going into your meal.

Here is an excellent list to get you started; I stole this from the American Dietetic Association. Remember, these are ballpark figures, but will help you on your way!

Vegetables contain 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate. One serving equals:

½ C Cooked vegetables (carrots,    broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, etc.)
1 C Raw vegetables or salad    greens
½ C Vegetable juice
If you’re hungry, eat more fresh or steamed vegetables. Vegetables keep you full and prevent you from eating other fattening foods.

Fat-Free and Very Low-Fat Milk contain 90 calories per serving. One serving equals:

1 C Milk, fat-free or 1% fat
¾ C Yogurt, plain non-fat or low-fat
1 C Yogurt, artificially sweetened

Very Lean Protein choices have around 100-125 calories and up to 3-4 grams of fat per serving, along with around 20-30 grams of protein. One serving equals:

3 oz Turkey breast or chicken breast, skin removed
3 oz Fish fillet (flounder, sole, scrod, cod, etc.)
3 oz Canned tuna in water
3 oz Shellfish (clams, lobster, scallop, shrimp)
1 C Cottage cheese, non-fat or low-fat
6 Egg whites
¾ C Egg substitute
3 oz Fat-free cheese
1 C Beans, cooked (black beans, kidney, chick peas or lentils): count as 1 starch/bread and 1 very lean protein

Fruits contain 15 grams of carbohydrate and around 60 calories. One serving equals:

1 small Apple, banana, orange, nectarine
1 med. Fresh peach
1 Kiwi
½ Grapefruit
½ Mango
1 C Fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
1 C Fresh melon cubes
18th Honeydew melon
4 oz Unsweetened juice
4 tsp Jelly or jam

Lean Protein choices have around 150-175 calories and up to 8-9 grams of fat per serving, along with 20-30 grams of protein. One serving equals:

3 oz Chicken—dark meat, skin removed
3 oz Turkey—dark meat, skin removed
3 oz Salmon, swordfish, herring
3 oz Lean beef (flank steak, London broil, tenderloin, roast beef)
3 oz Veal, roast or lean chop
3 oz Lamb, roast or lean chop
3 oz Pork, tenderloin or fresh ham
3 oz Low-fat cheese (with 3 g  or less of fat per ounce)
3 oz Low-fat luncheon meats (with 3 g or less of fat per ounce)
1 C 4.5% cottage cheese
6 med. Sardines

Medium-Fat Proteins have 200-250 calories and up to 15 grams of fat per serving, along with 20-30 grams of protein. One serving equals:

3 oz Beef (any prime cut), corned beef, ground beef
3 oz Pork chop
3-4 Whole egg
3 oz Mozzarella cheese
¾ C Ricotta cheese
12 oz Tofu
Choose medium-fat proteins less frequently than lean and extra-lean proteins

Starches contain around 15 grams of carbohydrate and 80 calories per serving. One serving equals:

1 slice Bread (white, pumpernickel, whole wheat, rye)
2 slices Reduced-calorie or “lite” bread
¼ (1 oz) Bagel (varies)
½ English muffin
½ Hamburger bun
¾ C Cold cereal
13 C Rice, brown or white, cooked
13 C Barley or couscous, cooked
13 C Legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils), cooked
½ C Pasta, cooked
½ C Bulgar, cooked
½ C Corn, sweet potato, or green peas
3 oz Baked sweet or white potato
¾ oz Pretzels
3 C Popcorn, hot air popped or microwave (80% light)

Fats contain 45 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving. One serving equals:

1 tsp Oil (vegetable, corn, canola, olive, etc.)
1 tsp Butter
1 tsp Stick margarine
1 tsp Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Reduced-fat margarine or mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Salad dressing
1 Tbsp Cream cheese
2 Tbsp Lite cream cheese
1/8th Avocado
8 large Black olives
10 large Stuffed green olives
1 slice Bacon

In the end, it’s simply a matter of time to program the brain to remember all this information. As always, the key to a healthy diet and staying fit is to eat appropriate portion sizes, and meals that consist mostly of lean meats and veggies with limited carbs and fats. Keep the portions reasonable, the processed nutrient-poor foods low and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy diet!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message!

DW





Metabolism boosters: A few quick tips on how to burn more fat

14 01 2013

powerthirst-energy-drinkEverybody likes a short-cut, and most people seem to be interested in being less fat, so here are some lifestyle and diet tips on how to boost your metabolism and increase the breakdown of those stubborn fat stores.

Increase the intensity of your workouts

In my experience, this is the most effective way to help your body burn more fat. I explain this in-depth here.

Do some activity in the morning (preferably on an empty stomach)

In the absence of carbohydrates, your body will burn fat stores. Drink a coffee, and smash a work-out!

Try skipping breakfast and/or Intermittent Fasting (IF)

If you want to try a new fat-loss strategy, IF can help increase your metabolism because (among other things) it causes your body to release more adrenaline and in turn your body is forced to bun more fat in order to fulfil this extra energy requirement.

Eat smaller meals more often

This is a topic that is completely up for debate (whether there is a difference between eating 3 big meals vs 5-6 smaller meals), but I personally found that this did help me shed unwanted fat, and the principle is sound (eating on a more regular basis helps maintain an active metabolism). This strategy has not necessarily proven to be more conducive to weight-loss, but I would certainly suggest doing it.

Eat more fiber and protein

Not only does your body burn more calories digesting foods high in fiber & protein but if you increase these types of food in your diet, you’ll be substituting less-desirable foods like simple carbohydrates (sugar) that will cause you to store fat. Try to make sure that protein makes up at least 30% of your diet.

Drink cold water

Drinking water fills you up and keeps your metabolism functioning at an optimal level- some studies have shown that fat-burning metabolism can increase by up to 30% within 10 minutes of drinking 500mL of water. Adding ice to your water (or simply drinking it as cold as possible) also makes your body work harder because it has to heat up in your stomach, which increases your metabolism.

Drink coffee

I covered the benefits of caffeine in my last post. Coffee a stimulant that contains caffeine. Among other things, it can help you boost your energy expenditure and speed up metabolism by making your body release more fat burning hormones like adrenaline.

Drink green tea

Green tea has compounds called phenols that have great thermogenic properties beyond those explained by its caffeine content. It is also full of a phytonutrient called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which increases the hormone responsible for making you feel satiated. Drinking green tea daily can have the long-term effects of helping prevent the storage of excess fat, improving your appetite-regulating hormones and changing how your body handles cravings and metabolizes food. Some studies have shown that green tea can help you burn up to 40% more calories per day and lead to sustainable weight-loss. Have I mentioned that green tea also has a high caffeine-content?

Add cinnamon to everything

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Spices in general are good metabolism-boosters, but cinnamon is my personal favourite- mostly because it is delicious, but also because it is powerful and can increase your metabolism twentyfold! Cinnamon also slows the passage of food through your stomach and has been shown to lower blood sugar levels by stimulating glucose metabolism.

Spice it up

Some plants contain the bioactive ingredient capsaicin, which not only makes them spicy hot, but can also double energy expenditure for up to 3 hours after a meal. Sources include chili peppers, cayenne, jalapenos, habaneros, and even Tabasco. Capsaicin may also work to decrease appetite centers in the brain by boosting the release of certain neurotransmitters (making you eat less). It also raises your body temperature, which may boost your metabolism. Even spicy mustard has been shown to make people burn additional calories.

Ginger

Has been shown to aid digestion, increase body temperature and increase metabolic rates as much as 20 percent after eating.

Turmeric

Turmeric contains the polyphenol Curcumin which has shown to increase the secretion of bile acids, which help metabolize fats; hence the link between turmeric and increased lipolysis rates  in the body (the breakdown of fats).

Garlic

Eating garlic has many health benefits, including links to the breakdown of fat and increased metabolism.  Garlic works to reduce fat cells, promote peristalsis (which can loosen fat and flush it from your body), and raise body temperature- all helping to stimulate your body’s ability to burn fat more efficiently.

MCT oil (Medium chain triglycerides)

Most fats contain long chain fatty acids, but medium chain fatty acids are more easily digested and converted into energy. MCTs bypass the lymphatic system and are transported directly to the liver for metabolism.  Due to this different pathway, MCTs release energy into the blood steam more quickly (more like a carbohydrate) and are thus less likely to be stored in fat cells. Studies also show that when a meal includes MCTs, there is a significant increase in the number of calories burned (increased thermogenic effect), and when more calories are used, fewer are stored as fat. The most commonly used MCT is unrefined coconut oil- which I recommend putting in your coffee for breakfast.

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Eat beans

Beans will keep you full, are high in resistant starch (meaning that some of the calories consumed cannot be absorbed), reduce blood sugar, and create the fatty acid butyrate, which has been shown to increase fat-burning. Studies also show that butyrate improves mitochondrial function in your cells, which can lead to a decrease in fat.

Healthy foods in general

Lots of other whole foods have been shown to boost metabolism like avocados, apples, kiwis, whole grains, etc., so stick to whole, natural foods (read: unprocessed), and you’ll be happy with the results.

Supplements

There are plenty of fat-burners and metabolism boosters out there, but are the top 3 that I’d try first: Caffeine is a no-brainer, and it is the key ingredient in almost all fat-burning supplements. Raspberry ketone regulates adiponectin (a protein used by the body to regulate metabolism) and has shown to break down fat cells more effectively (note: eating whole raspberries will not get you the necessary dose, as you’d have to consume roughly 90 pounds of the berry to reap the benefits). L-carnitine has shown links to fat-loss, but no concrete scientific evidence proves that orally-ingested L-carnitine makes a difference; it can increase the rate of transport of fats into the mitochondria, which can increase fat loss, but there are many variables at work, and more studies need to be done (personally, I’ve tried it, and I did not notice much, if any, difference).

If you have any questions about these metabolism-boosting tips and how to incorporate them into your lifestyle, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

Happy Monday!

DW





5 quick tips: weight-loss

5 01 2013

Just a quick post today, so I’ll keep it simple. Here are 5 easy tips to losing those extra pounds!

Avoid simple sugars

Sugar spikes your insulin and sends you into fat-storing mode. The only beneficial time to consume sugar is immediately following a workout, when your body can selectively shuttle the nutrients to your starving muscles. Leave the cookies on the shelf.

Drink lots of cold water

Water is the most critical component to keeping our bodies functioning at a healthy level. Cold water boosts your metabolism, as the body has to heat the liquid before using it. It’s a small but simple weight-loss strategy.

Don’t consume liquid calories

Removing juice and soda from your diet will make a huge difference. If you can remove all alcohol as well, you’ll be amazed by the results. Although there are some beverages out there with health benefits (red wine and milk to name a couple), if the goal is weight-loss, stick to water!

Eat veggies with every meal

Not only are vegetables full of important minerals and nutrients, but they are also full of fiber, leading to a sense of satiety earlier in a meal.  Although vegetables aren’t as nutritious as in the past, they should still be a staple of any diet.

Move more, eat less

Ah, the simplicity of arithmetic. If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. I know that this can be hard to wrap your head around, but think it through. More exercise + less calories = look better, feel better, be healthier. I love science.

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Good luck, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

DW