Category Archives: Nutrition

High Blood Sugar and Working Out

One of my pet peeves has always been people referring to “fat-burning” workouts. What workouts would burn more fat? Well this is unfortunately a very complex question because it is not only impacted by the intensity of the workout and the heart rate that you can maintain, but is also impacted by what you eat and your blood sugar.

If you eat a lot of sugar before you workout, if you are healthy your body will release insulin in order to recruit that sugar for energy. Insulin, also however, serves the purpose of shutting down fat burning in order for your body to first clear this toxic excess of sugar from your bloodstream. So if you drink a Coke with its 44 grams of sugar before you workout no matter what you do or how intense you are mostly burning sugar for that workout. The only way to burn fat in this scenario is to continue exercising until that sugar is gone and your healthy body begins to transition to fat burning.

Now a recent study reported on in the New York Times goes a bit further to say that “people with consistently high levels of blood sugar could get less benefit from exercise than those whose blood sugar levels are normal, according to a cautionary new study of nutrition, blood sugar and exercise.”

“The study, which involved rodents and people, suggests that eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods, which may set the stage for poor blood sugar control, could dent our long-term health in part by changing how well our bodies respond to a workout.”

Anyway you look at it consuming an abundance of added sugar and processed food is just plain bad for you. So, if you are trying to return to fitness and live your best life start with cutting back on processed food and added sugar.

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Coronavirus Deaths

Three Things That Could Save Your Life

In this challenging time of the coronavirus pandemic and the daily updates on positive tests and fatalities, one thing is very obvious: baby boomers who are by definition nearing 60 or older are significantly more likely to die than younger people (see chart). One of the main reasons for this seems to be the prevalence of pre-existing conditions in this older age group. “In the first big analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, deaths were at least five times more common among confirmed cases with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart or breathing problems” stated the BBC in a recent article.

So, what’s a baby boomer to do? Accept fate and try to stay as far away as possible from the virus, other people and society. Certainly if you are in a high risk group you should be doing just this. Additionally however, there are other things that we Boomers can do to reduce the impact or likelihood of these mostly chronic diseases that are aiding and abetting this deadly virus.

Chronic Diseases and Nutrition

Many people increasingly believe that chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, some heart and lung diseases, some cancers and the broader umbrella of metabolic syndrome that also includes insulin resistance and general obesity are in large part caused by our diet, lack of movement and increasingly toxic environment. Therefore if you believe this, then one way to improve your likelihood of survival in this new world of pandemics is to improve your health.

Stop Eating Crap

The two easiest ways to do this is: 1) Stop Eating Crap – remove as much processed food and added sugar from your diet as you can and replace it with healthy natural foods. Don’t try to cut calories or restrict the amount of food yet just eat less crap. Then later you can start to worry about how much you eat and other details like do I want to eat meat or not. There are many arguments over these more nuanced nutrition programs but for now just reduce the crap that you eat.

Just Move More

2) Start Moving More – no matter how much you move now just move a bit more. Go from the coach to a walk around the block. Go from sitting all day to standing some part of the day or getting up very hour to stretch and move. If you walk already, try transitioning to some easy running. Just move more.

Taming the Lizard

3) Tame the Lizard – the base of your brain or what some people call the lizard brain is focused on keeping you alive so when it perceives stress whether it be an approaching lion or approaching deadline, it kicks into gear and among other things can trigger cravings for sweets. Sweet foods are high in sugar and sugar is easily burned if you need to climb a tree to get away from the lion and easily stored if we are about to go into a famine. This increase in easy calories however is not needed to sit down and stop procrastinating on that deadline and is not need later either so it just becomes fat, increases insulin and starts a cascade of bad stuff that leads to the above chronic diseases. Our Lizard Brain also doesn’t like movement as it wants to conserve energy for when its needed to escape predators and hunt but we don’t do that much anymore but when you think about going to the gym or going for a run, it still kicks in with that little voice urging you to stay on the couch.

So how do we tame this lizard that in name of saving us from threats is really starting to kill us? You need to break the connection between the stress and the sweets. i.e. the boss’s email creating a craving for that chocolate bar. There are several tools that you can use to do this but fundamentally it comes down to interrupting the message from one to the other within the lizard brain so the more rational part of your brain can kick in.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,” Victor Frankly in Man’s Search for Meaning. 

So how do we train ourselves to do this. There are probably many ways but here are two tools that I have found helpful: 1) 5,4,3,2,1 – Whenever you feel a craving or start walking towards the fridge, simply countdown from 5 to give yourself the space for your higher brain to kick in and take over. This is the crux of Mel Robbin’s Five Second Rule. Mel has a great book and a lot of online information that go into more detail. 2) WIRM – Witness, Interrupt, Redirect, Maintain. This is simple tool that I found at The Unbeatable Mind with Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL. When you feel a craving or notice something starting to brew inside your lizard brain, just witness it or notice it. Then use a quick mantra to interrupt it like NO or STOP or whatever and then quickly redirect this with another automated response such as instead of sugar I will just walk around the block and finally maintain it or reinforce it with another mantra like Everyday In Every Way I am Getting Better Stronger and Leaner or use Mark’s Looking Good, Feeling Good, On the Way to Hollywood. Make up your own sayings and give it a try or just use Mel’s countdown to see how it works.

BoomerangFit is a community of primarily baby boomers who believe that they can still be do whatever it is they want to do such as climb a mountain, run a marathon or just run around the back yard with their kids or grandkids. Age is just a number and aging doesn’t have to mean less mobility or fitness or saying goodbye to your goals.

If you would like to get more information about our community here at BoomerangFit, please CLICK HERE and give us your email address. We won’t sell this info to anyone and will just send you info we think will help you improve your fitness. 2020 is going to be your year.

How to Get Into the Best Shape of Your Life

2020 is it. This is the year you are going to get into the best shape of your life and we are going to do it together.

Let’s start by talking about the word shape. What shape do aspire to be? A cone, a pear, an apple or a banana? The phrase is ridiculous. None of us aspire to be a shape. I think what we really want to be is fit. But fit for what? You may want to be fit to keep up with your grandchildren or fit enough to walk your daughter down the aisle or fit enough to finally run a marathon or to win a contest. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just go from a place of current fitness to a place of improved fitness using the measurement(s) you choose.

Measurements – so what are the measurements that you should choose? Most people would say they want to lose “weight” but this can be very difficult to measure. Muscle is more dense than fat so it takes up less space. If you are gaining muscle while losing fat, your weight could remain the same or increase but you could be getting healthier by reducing fat. Many people gain muscle quickly with any weight-bearing exercise so they will seem to “gain” weight even though they are eating better and exercising. A better measurement of improvement and a better goal for you might be how your clothes fit, what is the measurement of your waist or even how do you feel? If you really want to get technical, you could measure your body fat percentage using one of many tools that have varying accuracy. Why not just start with a journal and just note how you feel, how things fit and your energy levels.

Journal – Start a journal and keep track of these measurements so you can hold yourself accountable and see your progress. This progress also will not be a straight line to so just accept that and move on.

BoomerangFitEveryone is different. The biggest thing that just about most in the fitness game seems to ignore is that everyone is different. Everyone has different genes or genetics. Everyone has different epigenetics as well this means that certain genes may be turned on or turned off based on where you live, how you live and what you eat. Everyone lives in a different part of the world and has different problems, stresses, allergies, sensitivities and habits. So to think that any fitness or nutrition guru can create a program to work for anyone other than themselves or a single person is pretty ridiculous. They simply provide a program that has worked for them or other people “like” you before. Working with a trainer or nutritionist can be very helpful but realize that its your responsibility to customize the programs for yourself. Just try different things and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Food – don’t count calories just count crap. Try to get on a #crapfreediet. This means reducing the amount of processed food that you eat every day. If it has a label on the side then it has most likely been processed to some extent. On the other hand vegetables, fruit and yes organic grass-fed beef are all on the other side of the processed spectrum. So eat more and more unprocessed and less and less processed. Simple as that. Once you have completely reduced your intake of processed food or at least to the extent possible then you might want to consider further customizations based on what works for you.

Organic vs Non-Organic – At the end of the day if you can consume food that hasn’t been processed and that hasn’t been sprayed with or fed with chemicals and pesticides, you are better off. But if you are living on McDonalds and/or have no affordable access to organic food than just start eating less McDonalds and more vegetables. If they aren’t organic just wash them a lot. But at least its a start.

Vegan vs Keto – For most people, it just doesn’t matter. Focus on dramatically reducing the processed food in your diet and you will get healthier and probably lose a lot of fat. However, if you have already reduced the processed food then look at refining things further in whatever way works for you. But first focus on reducing the processed food. Then try out eating like a vegan or a vegetarian, paleo or Keto. They can all work for the right person and they will all not work for everyone. When you do this, however, be careful not to increase the processed food. Potato Chips in a bag could still be considered vegan or vegetarian. So again get rid of the processed food first.

Cooking – take a cooking class or marry a chef like I did. It is a lot easier to eat healthy and remove processed food if you know how to cook at least a few key meals.

Exercise – much like nutrition what you do for exercise depends a lot on your goals, what your current capabilities are such as mobility and flexibility and what resources that you have. Like removing processed food, almost anyone will benefit from moving more. This could include a daily walk, a standing desk, a run at lunch time or joining a CrossFit gym. It doesn’t matter, just move more than you are moving now and start where you are without try to cheat the system and jump ahead. This will just lead to injury or burnout.

Community – In most cases, getting other people to walk with you, workout with you, train for a marathon with you will help you stay committed and hold you accountable. There are lots of way to do this. CrossFit and OrangeTheory for example have built great communities just be sure to join a community that will work with you to increase your mobility and fitness while also teaching you the correct way to do whatever it is your doing, or you will get injured and will need to stop exercising for some period of time. There are also virtual communities to help you stay motivated, hold you accountable and bring you great new information like Peloton. This community we are building here at BoomerangFit is another example.

BoomerangFit is a community of primarily baby boomers who believe that they can still be do whatever it is they want to do such as climb a mountain, run a marathon or just run around the back yard with their kids or grandkids. Age is just a number and aging doesn’t have to mean less mobility or fitness or saying goodbye to your goals.

If you would like to get more information about our community here at BoomerangFit, please CLICK HERE and give us your email address. We won’t sell this info to anyone and will just send you info we think will help you improve your fitness. 2020 is going to be your year.

Can You Recover from This Bar?

While wasting a perfectly good Sunday browsing through Amazon, I was served up an advertisement for a tasty and potentially healthy sounding Gatorade Whey Protein Recover Bar – Chocolate Chip flavor. Since I had just gotten back this past Friday from attempting to climb Mt Rainier, I was desperately in need of some recovery. Also, as regular readers here will know, recovery is one of the most important aspects of an older athletes regimen.

Before I pushed the magic Amazon “Buy with One Click”, however, I thought I would do a little due diligence.

As you can see from the photo, one of these “Recover” Bars has 41 grams of carbohydrates and 29 grams of sugar. It also has 360 calories. Is the bar itself what we need to “recover” from after the Insulin spike?  This really seems like a lot of sugar for a single bar whether I am recovering from something or not. However, to avoid the politics of low carb diets vs vegetarians and Paleo vs vegans and also considering that I am not a doctor or nutritionist, I went to the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance.

Lo and behold, apparently the WHO in March of 2014 dropped its sugar intake recommendation from 10% of your daily calorie intake to 5%. Or, for an adult of a normal body mass index (BMI) that works out to about 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar.

So, assuming that my trusty elementary school math hasn’t deserted me, the 29 grams of sugar in the Gatorade Recover Bar is about 4 grams of sugar more than an adult with normal BMI should be consuming in an entire day. Huh? Perhaps this isn’t such a good choice after all. 

Furthermore, if you look at the label even more closely you will see that the 41 grams of total carbohydrates are supposedly about 14% of your daily values.  And below it says that Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet and that your daily values may be different depending on your calorie needs. Interesting, so the 14% is for some fictitious person and not for you so beware of what the percentages are for you. But also realize that at 2000 calories in order for 41 grams of carbohydrates to be only 14% of your Daily Values, you need to be getting more than 60% of your calories from carbohydrates or about 293 grams and 1172 calories per day. This seems a bit high to start for your daily intake of carbohydrates.  Also if I am only eating 2000 calories per day, I just used up 20% of my whole day with the 360 calories in this one bar.

What’s the lesson? Buyer beware. Just because it says something like “organic” or “healthy” or “natural” or “recover” on the label doesn’t mean it is good for you so make sure to read the fine print. Better yet try to eat as little processed food as possible or just try to avoid eating something with an ingredient label at all. For the record, a banana has about 100 calories and only 14 grams of sugar so maybe try that next time you are looking to recover.

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Is our health the nation’s biggest problem?

Almost half of Americans in a new Associated Press-NORC poll say health care is their top concern going into 2018. Health care outpaced other issues, like taxes, immigration and climate change, by more than 15 percentage points, according to an article in AXIOS.

Why it matters: Congress and President Trump rushed to pass an overhaul of the tax system after failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Although Republicans may not spend more political capital on health care next year, the issue won’t go away as the public continues to grapple with high health care costs.

In other words, while the government and its opponents are going back and forth on taxes, the economy, the environment, and other important issues, preventable diseases driven mostly by our poor nutrition and lack of exercise are killing us.

According to the Global Wellness Institute and its new Wellness Moonshot focused on creating a world free of preventable disease: 

  • 69% of all deaths globally each year are a result of preventable diseases. Centers for Disease Control, 2017
  • More than 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years is now overweight. World Health Organization, 2014
  • The global cost of largely preventable chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health) could reach $47 trillion by 2030. World Economic Forum, 2017.

One single potentially preventable disease, Alzheimer’s could bankrupt our healthcare system. Payments for care of Alzheimers in 2012 were estimated to be $226 billion (with a B) —and more than 15 million Americans provided unpaid care for persons with Alzheimer’s. Without a cure, these figures will nearly triple by the year 2050 (CureAlzheimer’s Fund).

The question then is if our government is not focused on it, how can we make an impact. The answer is simply that we each need to take responsibility for our own health and wellness by improving our diet and adding exercise wherever we can.

Are you a Carboholic?

Sugar is addictive, perhaps more addictive than cocaine. And, the actions it produces in our bodies such as releasing insulin are wreaking havoc on our systems, driving the obesity epidemic and the plague that is known as metabolic syndrome: a pernicious cocktail of high blood pressure and high blood sugar that can lead to stroke, heart disease, diabetes and dementia.

According to an article in the NY Times: “Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world.”

The article continues: “Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed. The sweet craving that once offered a survival advantage now works against us.”

In another article in the NY Times by renowned science writer Gary Taubes, it states “Since insulin levels after meals are determined largely by the carbohydrates we eat — particularly easily digestible grains and starches, known as high glycemic index carbohydrates, as well as sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — diets based on this approach specifically target these carbohydrates. If we don’t want to stay fat or get fatter, we don’t eat them.”

“This effect of insulin on fat and carbohydrate metabolism offers an explanation for why these same carbohydrates, as Dr. Ludwig says, are typically the foods we crave most; why a little “slip,” as addiction specialists would call it, could so easily lead to a binge.”

So what do we carboholics do? The easiest thing to say is to just stop eating sugar. But unfortunately this is as difficult or more as quitting smoking or worse. You can’t just stop eating sugar. You need to start doing other healthier things in return like eating more healthy natural foods: fats and proteins to reduce the cravings and put you back in charge of your life.

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