Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Anatomy of Fat

Great article on CNN today on fat cells and losing weight. There are many misconceptions out there, no thanks to certain misleading fitness magazines articles, but this article does a fine job on setting the record straight. See below.

Joe Dragon lost 130 pounds.  Scroll down to see what he looks like after his weight loss.

(CNN) — Multiple chins, bulging tummies and flabby arms: It’s easy to see where fat accumulates on the body.

When a person starts losing weight, where does the fat go? And what parts of the body can you expect to see results?

Headlines from fitness magazines promise exercises to blast away belly fat and activities to spot-reduce flab. The scientific evidence, unfortunately, doesn’t back those sexy headlines.

Here are three things to know about weight-loss and body fat.

You can’t change your shape, just your size.

You can’t cherry-pick where you shed fat; weight loss doesn’t work like a point-and-shoot.

MRIs, CT scans and dexa scans, which use X-ray beams to measure body composition, show no evidence for spot reduction.

“Basically, when we lose weight, we lose weight all over in exactly the proportion that’s distributed throughout our body,” said Susan Fried, director of the Boston Obesity and Nutrition Research Center at the Boston University School of Medicine.

This dexa scan of a woman who underwent bariatric surgery shows where she lost her body fat.

This dexa scan of a woman who underwent bariatric surgery shows where she lost her body fat.

A pear-shaped woman who loses weight will remain a pear, just a daintier one, say researchers who specialize in body fat. More women tend to be pear-shaped, with fat around their hips and thighs. Men tend to be apple-shaped, because they have fat that accumulates around their waist.

“People come in with unrealistic expectations from magazines and spot-reducing,” said Gary Foster, director of Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education. “That doesn’t happen. When you start to lose fat, it’s proportionate throughout your body, whether it’s your neck, waist, ankle circumference. You’ll come out smaller but have the same body shape.”

Maggie and Andy Sorrells in 2002, before the couple started a faith-based weight loss program.

Maggie and Andy Sorrells in 2002, before the couple started a faith-based weight loss program.

That was the case with Maggie Sorrells, 37, who lost nearly 300 pounds through diet and exercise in less than five years.

Her body was pear-shaped even when she weighed about 500 pounds. She reduced her portion sizes and attended weekly faith-based weight loss meetings called Weigh Down. She noticed that her face and hips were getting smaller.

“My hips were like 73 inches,” Sorrells said. They’re now down to 39 inches.

“It’s crazy to think how much they’ve come down.”

See her iReport: Andy & Maggie 550 down

She and her husband, Andy, who live in Nashville, lost more than 500 pounds combined.

Sorrells essentially retained her pear shape, although she’s 300 pounds lighter. “I’m still rounder in the bottom part of my body. I’m still pear-shaped,” she said.

Maggie Sorrells said she essentially retained her pear shape, although she is 300 pounds lighter.

Maggie Sorrells said she essentially retained her pear shape, although she is 300 pounds lighter.

For most people, the problem is their weight, not their body shape, Foster said. Whether you’re a pear or apple may be determined by genetics or hormones.

Not all body fat is created equal.

When Joe Dragon, an insurance company supervisor in Albany, New York, started losing weight from his 425-pound frame, he noticed the biggest difference in his stomach.

“I was never heavy on the bottom; it was more the gut, belly area,” the 34-year-old said. “The differences I noticed, I have a flat stomach. It used to be huge round ball.”

Joe Dragon lost 135 pounds on Weight Watchers and exercise.

Joe Dragon lost 135 pounds on Weight Watchers and exercise.

Like Dragon, men tend to be apple-shaped and carry more belly fat, known as visceral fat. This is a dangerous type of fat because it surrounds abdominal organs and is metabolically active.

Essentially, it disturbs the regular mechanisms in your body.

The fat cells release biochemicals that lead to inflammation, which could lead to heart attacks, strokes and joint and muscle pain. This accumulates in the liver, said Dr. Robin Blackstone, surgeon and medical director of Scottsdale Healthcare Bariatric Center in Arizona.

“Fat is basically a store of energy,” she said. “When you need energy, you break down the fat. That breaks down into a component called free fatty acid and goes into the liver for energy. When you have a lot of excess fat, it generates so much free fatty acid, the liver can’t handle it, so it stores it.”

That triggers a host of problems including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Belly fat is much more harmful than the so-called big butt,” Foster said.

The fat in the hips causes much alarm because that part of the body is highly visible. Called subcutaneous fat, the masses of this fat may be unsightly, but scientists believe they’re not as dangerous as internal abdominal fat.

For cosmetic or social reasons, women are more likely to seek obesity treatment than men.

“What that says is that men are likely to need obesity treatment more than women, but women, likely due to stigma socially for being overweight, are more likely to present for treatment,” Foster said.

Where does the fat go?

Fat cells expand when people consume more energy than they can burn. During weight loss, the cells shrink.

“The fat is a very specialized cell, and it takes basically the fat we eat and it stores it in form of triglycerides,” said Fried, who researches how fat is deposited. “It’s doing that for the purpose of releasing it when other parts of the body need it.”

Humans carry about 10 billion to 30 billion fat cells. People who are obese can have up to 100 billion.

“If anyone of us overeats long and hard enough, we can increase the number of fat cells in our body,” Fried said. “When we lose weight, we don’t lose the number of fat cells.”

The size of the cells shrinks, but the capacity to expand is always there.

Liposuction can remove fat cells, but this procedure is ideally for people who are not obese.

“The fat cells are actually being removed,” said Tony Youn, a plastic surgeon who performs liposuctions. “It doesn’t mean that fat cells that remain can’t get bigger.”

Despite the extraction of fat cells, the ones remaining can always get bigger or smaller depending on a person’s diet and fitness.

Celebrity Transformations, Jonah Hill & Seth Rogen Edition

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill was motivated to get healthy for a new role in a film, 21 Jump Street. He started working with a nutritionist and a personal trainer and has lost about 40 pounds. His new looks is a vast improvement and he is looking great! Hopefully this transformation will give him a new outlook and will want to keep up this new healthier lifestyle even after filming.

Seth Rogen

Seth also lost weight for an upcoming film.  Once he changed his eating habits Seth claimed that losing the weight wasn’t difficult, the pounds just seemed to wash away. But Seth says he does love his junk food and hasn’t learned to enjoy healthy food. Hopefully he will experience and learn to appreciate some delicious healthy meals soon and keep the weight off! Eating healthy can be just as enjoyable…especially when you know the benefits you will reap.

Salt controversy: New study links high sodium to earlier mortality

(Health.com) — People who eat more sodium and less potassium may die sooner of heart or other problems than people who consume the opposite, a large, 15-year-study has found.

The study of more than 12,000 Americans provides more ammunition to health advocates who say that slashing salt intake will save lives. But not everyone is convinced, as some research is contradictory.

In the new study, men consumed an average of 4,323 milligrams of sodium a day, while women took in 2,918 milligrams.

The American Heart Association recommends people limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day or less.

The group with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio had a mortality risk about 50% higher during the study than the group with the lowest, according to the report by Elena V. Kuklina, M.D., and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The research was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is naturally low in sodium and high in potassium. Good potassium sources include bananas, baked potatoes, and raisins. In contrast, a diet of processed foods tends to be the opposite — it contains more sodium and less potassium, says Kuklina, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC.

“We probably should take into account the whole diet and take a more comprehensive look,” she says. “Looking at a single micronutrient, we might just miss the whole picture.”

Because most of the sodium people in the developed world consume comes from processed food, there has been a movement to get the food industry to reduce the amount of salt it adds to products.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the Food and Drug Administration regulate sodium in food. And the National Salt Reduction Initiative is a partnership of organizations — including major food companies — that aims to cut sodium in processed foods by 25% by 2014.

“We now have 28 companies who have committed to reducing the salt levels in at least one of their categories of products,” says Thomas A. Farley, M.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and coauthor of an editorial accompanying Kuklina’s study.

It’s the easiest way to reduce sodium intake, says Graham MacGregor, chairman of World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, in London.

The UK started doing just that in 2006, requiring companies to cut salt content by 25 to 30%. By 2008, according to MacGregor, sodium intake had fallen by 10%.

“It’s a very large study…and it clearly shows what we’d expect it to show, that eating too much sodium is harmful and eating too little potassium is harmful,” he says.

WASH is a global group established in 2005 with the aim of improving people’s health by reducing salt intake.

But the case isn’t quite closed, some say. For example, a report this May in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that while healthy men and women who ate more sodium than average weren’t at higher risk of dying of heart disease or stroke, cardiovascular mortality was 56% higher for people who ate the least sodium. The eight-year study included 3,681 European men and women age 60 or younger who did not have hypertension.

“It’s confusing,” says Michael Alderman, M.D., a professor of medicine and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, and editor of the American Journal of Hypertension.

While some people with hypertension do need to reduce their sodium intake, Alderman says, reducing the sodium intake of the entire population could be harmful.

And an analysis of the evidence published in the Cochrane Review in July suggested that there isn’t strong evidence that people who cut back on salt will reap heart-health benefits. But it did say that a population-wide reduction might help.

“These findings should not be misinterpreted as showing that salt reduction will not save lives. There was insufficient evidence to make this judgment,” the author wrote. “Giving advice to reduce salt is a weak method of reducing salt intake in the population. Reducing hidden salt in processed foods, including bread, would likely have a bigger impact on blood pressure levels and on cardiovascular disease.”

Farley says concerns about the risks of salt reduction are unfounded.

“There are populations around the world who take in much, much less sodium than we do and they maintain lower blood pressure throughout their lives, so I’m not concerned about that,” he says. “The easiest way for people to think about it is they should be taking in less sodium and more potassium.”

As far as the JAMA study is concerned, Farley says, “I would consider that an outlier.”

When Yoga Meets the Water

Meet the new fitness craze that is sweeping the nation, SUP yoga.  If you are bored with your normal yoga routine, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend giving this a try.  Combining SUP and yoga brings you a whole new and challenging experience.  SUP yoga originated in Florida but it has spread quickly to locations where any body of water is present, be it the ocean, river, lake, bay, etc.

Top Five Reasons to Try SUP Yoga:

  1. Using the paddleboard as a yoga mat enhances your yoga routine as it requires extra balance and core strenth to stabalize the board. 
  2. Not only is SUP Yoga a great workout, it also extremely meditative. Being so connected with nature it is easier to relax and practice deeper meditation.
  3. Great for all levels and all ages and easy to learn. As challanging as it looks after a few sessions you will be surpised with how comfortable and stable you feel essentially walking on water.
  4. Get your Vitamin D, aka the Sunshine Vitamin. Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine your body takes what it needs, and de-metabolizes any extra. Just make sure you are also wearing sunscreen!
  5. It’s an enjoyable experience! The best types of workouts are the ones you actually enjoy and look forward to.

 

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