For the last 30 years, health professionals have advised us to ban saturated fat from our diets because of its precarious relationship with cholesterol and heart disease. Even the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommends keeping saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of our daily calories. Well-meaning doctors and nutritionists have asked their patients to stop eating red meat, cut out butter, and switch from whole to skim milk.
Fats are simply long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen bound to the carbons. They contain a lot of energy because of all those hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats have hydrogen attached to every possible binding sight on their carbon chain, making them solid at room temperature due to their tightly packed straight chains. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products such as beef, pork, chicken (dark meat and skin) and butter.
Your body actually needs fat from food. It's a major source of energy. The vilification of fat began in 1977 when the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs published the first Dietary Goals for The United States. It stated that Americans could improve their health and reduce their risk of heart disease by eating less fat, especially saturated fat. This “fat hypothesis” was based on a handful of ambiguous studies and a good deal of speculation. It was just a guess constructed by a senate committee.
By 1981 the Dietary Goals began to reshape the nutritional philosophy and nutritional habits of most Americans. Health writers, dieticians, and medical professionals began preaching that reducing the fat in our diets would help us reduce our waistlines. They also said reducing saturated fat would help prevent heart disease.
Goodbye steaks, and so long butter.
But something about the vilification of fat, especially saturated fat just doesn’t make sense. For thousands of generations, our ancestors were strong, healthy and had very little heart disease. They ate lots of animals without “trimming the fat.” In fact, it’s highly likely that our “caveman” ancestors ate the fat first because it tasted best.
In 2010 the Harvard School of public health performed a meta analysis of all the studies completed on the association between saturated fats and heart disease. Their study found that when carbs were used to replace saturated fats, they increased the risk for heart disease by increasing blood triglycerides and lowering HDL cholesterol levels. The meta analysis also found that there was no overall effect of saturated fat or red meat on either heart disease or diabetes. The study did, however, find that processed meats like hot dogs and lunchmeat resulted in a 42% greater risk for heart disease and a 19% greater risk for diabetes.
The traditional view is that saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol levels, which increases our risk of heart disease. The conclusion that saturated fats increase total blood cholesterol levels is indisputable. However, total blood cholesterol levels are a crude marker for heart disease. They don’t reflect the dynamics of cholesterol entering and leaving the blood. Some cholesterol is taken out of our bodies by HDL (good) particles, while other cholesterol is deposited in our arteries by LDL (bad) particles. Those bad particles form the plaque, which clogs our arteries. Because total cholesterol represents the sum of both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, by itself it is a poor measure of heart disease risk. The ratio of total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol is a much better predictor of heart disease. Lower values for total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol reduce our risk for heart disease, while higher values increase it. The 2010 Harvard meta analysis found saturated fat actually lowered the total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio.
So the advice our government has been giving us to limit or avoid saturated fat doesn’t really pass the test of science or the instincts of our ancestors. So why do we still have increasing incidence of heart disease? The 2010 meta-analysis found that when carbs were used to replace saturated fats, carbs increased the risk of heart disease by increasing triglycerides and lowering HDL cholesterol levels.
So is it okay to eat saturated fat? Absolutely, as long as it exists in “real” unprocessed foods like meat, butter, whole milk or eggs. Be careful with processed meats, which are usually chock-full of the preservatives nitrites and nitrates that are converted to potent cancer-causing nitrosamines in our guts. Another reason to avoid processed unnatural meats is they are typically laced full of salt, high fructose corn syrup, wheat, grains, and other additives that have multiple adverse health effects.
One final consideration to always keep in mind when eating meat: How was the animal raised? Try to go for grass-fed, pastured animals raised without antibiotics or steroids. If you have to eat conventional meat, trim the fat, because that’s where the steroids are stored.
So let’s all enjoy our steak, bacon and butter!
Less (but more intense) workouts = Better Health. That was the title of the forwarded email I received a couple weeks ago from a good friend. The email had been sent to her from a public relations consultant at IU Health, in regards to a new research finding: weekend warriors who cram 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity into one or two days a week lower their risk of mortality just as much as people who go to the gym five days a week. Of course, my friend thought of Exercise Inc when she read the email.
The study was a pooled analysis of 64,000 adults. The researchers looked at data on middle-aged adults who responded to a government-sponsored household survey conducted from 1994 to 2012. The survey included questions about health history and fitness habits. The researchers then cross-referenced this information with health department death records.
They found the risk of death from all causes was about 30 percent lower for weekend warriors, compared with adults who maintained a sedentary lifestyle. They also found that those who reported exercising once or twice a week had a 40 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death and an 18 percent lower risk for cancer-related death. The mortality rates of those who exercised once or twice a week were roughly the same as those who claimed to exercise more than two days a week.
This study didn’t classify the type of exercise, so the participants could have been doing anything—mountain biking, skiing, running, or lifting weights. The important fact about the study is that folks who exercised once or twice a week had the same reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer as people who exercised 3 to 7 times a week.
This is great news for us at Exercise Inc! Our recommended exercise schedule is a 20-minute workout once a week and 20 to 30 minutes of walking 5 days a week. We know many of our clients don’t get their 5 days of walking in, but that has not prevented them from making changes in their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
The more we learn about exercise, the more we understand that intensity is the key. And at Exercise Inc, we make sure the intensity is where it needs to be for our clients to change many of their medical biomarkers. The great thing about our program is it’s safe enough for your grandmother, but we can make it intense enough to bring anyone to their knees. (Yes, we’ve done it.)
So as the title suggested, less can be more, especially when the less is 20 minutes of high intensity strength training.
What a year 2016 turned out to be for Exercise Inc, thanks to incredible clients and friends like you! As we look back on what we've accomplished during the past 12 months, we can't help but get excited for what 2017 has in store for us. Thank you for letting us serve you!
We concluded the year with a lofty goal—to raise over $7,500 for charities in our local communities. In the past, we've raised a total of almost $25,000 for these charities. This year, we surpassed our goal and raised more money than we ever have before!
We raised $8,530 for local charities!
Thank you for helping us pay forward our mission to help people enjoy life. Because of our clients' generosity, folks in our communities will have a brighter start to the New Year!
Along with our fundraising, we offered the chance for one client at each gym to win 12 free sessions. Here are the winners of three months of personal training:
Avon - Jane Page
Brownsburg - Mike Hartley
Greenwood - Sonny Maddux
Zionsville - Mary Johnson
Thank you again for helping us make our 2016 Charity Campaign the most successful yet!
We wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy 2017.
If you’re like most people, your work Christmas party is right around the corner. And, of course, we’ve all heard the stories about the guy who drank too much, or the girl who made a fool of herself, and maybe even got fired as a result. Christmas parties create an opportunity for most folks to eat too many addictive sugary foods that can start a cascade of indulgence that continues through the New Year. Since most people gain about a pound of fat during the holidays, it’s a good idea to be proactive about what and how you will eat during Christmas parties and family gatherings. So here are a few tips to keep in mind as we get into the thick (pun intended) of the holiday season.
1. Stay Hydrated. Drinking water is the first Healthy Habit we ask our clients to adopt. At a minimum, women should drink 8 glasses (64 oz.), and men should drink 12 glasses (128 oz.) of water every day. Drinking plenty of water will keep your stomach from being empty. But more importantly it will keep your brain and your liver functioning properly. Your liver helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Water is necessary for glycogen in your liver to be hydrolyzed and released as glucose in your blood. When you are dehydrated, this process can be sabotaged, resulting in a craving for sweets. Drink plenty of water before and during any holiday party or gathering. Also, if you’re drinking alcohol, always drink water with it. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which can quickly dehydrate you, possibly resulting in a hangover.
2. Put All Your Hors d’oeuvres On a Plate. “One, two, three, oh heck, I forget how many of those bacon wrapped dates I just had. But wow, look at the cheese ball!” Before the meal starts, you could easily woof down a couple thousand calories in appetizers. When the Hors d’oeuvres come out, put them on a small plate. When you’re finished with your plate, set it down and forget about the appetizers.
3. Stay Away From the Punch Bowl. Even if the host says there’s not much alcohol in it, most punches are really sweet. The sugar makes it almost impossible to gauge how much alcohol you’ve actually consumed. In no time, you can be drunk and buzzing on sugar and alcohol, not a good combination.
4. Pick Your Poison. It’s okay to have dessert at a holiday party, but if you’re going to have desert, make good choices about everything else you eat. Just choose one indulgence, not three or four. If you’re planning on having bread pudding, don’t eat deep fried wings, bread, and mac and cheese before the dessert.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep. Rest up the night before by getting at least 7 hours of sleep. A recent study found that after a short night’s sleep, adults ate about 300 extra calories and tended to choose higher-fat, higher-calorie foods. When women lose sleep they often feel less full after eating, while men tend to have an increased appetite. I know the holiday season places a demanding schedule on most of us, but try to do everything you can to get plenty of sleep between gatherings.
6. Take Smaller Bites. Take smaller sips or bites to trick your brain into eating 30 percent fewer calories. A recent study found that when you take nibbles, chew your food longer (at least 9 seconds), and eat slower, your brain thinks you’ve eaten more. So if you’re eating Crème Brule at Ruth’s Chris (680 calories) don’t woof it down: by taking smaller bites and eating slower, you could save about 204 calories by not eating the whole desert.
Hopefully some or all of these tips will help you get through the Christmas parties and the holiday gatherings without putting on extra pounds. Who knows, you may even lose a couple of pounds following this advise.
And remember to stay away from the photocopier!
Hope Everyone Has a Great Holiday Season!