Category Archives: calories

Eating Triggers Endorphin Release in the Brain

If we want to get control of our weight and our health we clearly need to engage our brain before we start eating because the food’s taste impacts our appetite and desire for more. As I wrote in the introduction to this blog nearly 10 years ago. “everything you eat and drink becomes a part of you …”

Recent results obtained by Finnish researchers from Turku PET Centre have revealed that eating leads to widespread opioid release in the brain, likely signalling feelings of satiety and pleasure.

Eating a delicious pizza led to significant increase of pleasant feelings, whereas consumption of calorie-matched nutritional drink did not. However, both types of meals induced significant release of endogenous opioids in the brain.

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Opioids are associated with pleasure and euphoria. The study revealed that a significant amount of endorphins is released in the entire brain after eating the pizza and, surprisingly, even more are released after the consumption of the tasteless nutritional drink. The magnitude of the opioid release was independent of the pleasure associated with eating. According to the researchers, it is likely that the endogenous opioid system regulates both feelings of pleasure and satiety.

– The opioid system regulates eating and appetite, and we have previously found that its dysfunctions are a hallmark of morbid obesity. The present results suggest that overeating may continuously overstimulate the opioid system, thus directly contributing to development of obesity. These findings open new opportunities for treating overeating and the development of obesity, says Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Turku PET Centre.

– It was a surprise that endorphins are released in the entire brain and that the nutritional drink had a larger impact. This creates a basis for future research and hopefully we will find ways to study and describe the development and predictors of addiction, obesity and eating disorders, says Researcher, M.D., PhD. Jetro Tuulari.

The study was conducted using positron emission tomography (PET). The participants were injected with a radioactive compound binding to their brain’s opioid receptors. Radioactivity in the brain was measured three times with the PET camera: after a palatable meal (pizza), after a non-palatable meal (liquid meal) and after an overnight fast.

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Nuts to you

 

Nuts often take a bad rap for their calories. I love snacking on them and relying on them as an alternate source of protein to red meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do work on limiting the amount of red meat I consume in any month.

Herewith an infographic to help you in your healthy snacking.

 

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HOW TO LIVE A LONGER AND HEALTHIER LIFE

There are some excellent insights here on the eating aspects of living a long and healthy life.

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Biochemist Valter Longo has devoted decades to discovering connections between nutrition and successful aging. He runs the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, where the focus is on extending healthy life spans and finding ways to prevent and treat conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease that growing older makes us more susceptible to developing. Longo is also a professor of biological science at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Armed with results from the lab — including clinical trials showing that cycles of a five-day fasting-mimicking diet can reduce risk factors for many life-threatening diseases — Longo is calling for change in the kitchen. In this Q&A, he reveals the role that food can play in keeping us youthful and tackles some common misconceptions related to how, what and when we should eat.

How important is food to our health and aging?

Other…

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How many calories do you burn in a day? – Infographic

Although this blog started out as simply a weight loss tool, it has since morphed into a guide for general healthy (and long) living. Nonetheless, knowing how to count calories and how we burn them is a super tool for living a healthy life. Hence, the following infographic.

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Trick or Treat – How Much Chocolate Do We Eat?

Since this is the biggest day for chocolate consumption in the year, I thought it might be interesting to check into it.

Do you know how much chocolate the average American eats in a year? One pound? Ten pounds?

As a matter of fact we eat an average of a pound of chocolate a month, so, by a process of rapid calculation, 12 pounds in a year.

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According to WebMD’s chocolate quiz “We each eat close to a dozen pounds of chocolate per year. And most of that is milk chocolate. More than 90 percent of Americans say they prefer milk chocolate over dark or white.

“It takes a long time to work off all that chocolate. It would take a 130-pound woman about four days and nights (95 hours) of brisk walking to burn off those calories!”

And I know you have heard that chocolate has caffeine in it, but how much? WebMD says,

“You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about 3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.

“Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”

So, enjoy the evening, but if you are going out with your little trick or treater, keep in mind how much walking is required to burn off those calories.

Tonya

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Everything you wanted to know about calorie-counting – MNT

This blog started out as a ‘weight loss blog’ in 2010. In the ensuing seven-plus years, I have come to consider that weight loss by itself is a shallow goal. It feels superficial and negative to me. Instead, I now focus on the positive goal of living a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly. My weight has fluctuated within about a five pound range for the past six years or so. I weigh myself once a week just to make sure that I haven’t gone off track as I still like to eat. I realize that with more than 60 percent of us overweight and 30 percent of us outright obese, there are lots of folks out there who need to lose weight. In that context, I have found that counting calories is an excellent tool in this endeavor.

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Here is a very useful write up from Medical News Today on the subject of calorie counting.

The number of calories burned each day is directly linked to weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance. For a person to lose weight, one must burn more calories than one takes in, creating a calorie deficit. To do this, one needs to know how many calories one burns each day.

In this article, we take a look at how someone can work out how many calories they burn in a day.

What is a calorie?
The three main food groups — proteins, carbohydrates, and fats — have different calorie contents. Most food products will display the nutritional content, including calories.

Most people think of calories as only having to do with food and weight loss. However, a calorie is a unit of heat energy. A calorie is the amount of energy that is needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1°C. Continue reading

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Empty calories: What you need to know – MNT

I think calorie-counting is a very valuable tool when you are first getting started on weight control and living a healthy life. But, there are calories and there are calories. You need to know the food value of the calories you are consuming. You don’t want to eat a lot of empty calories.

Put simply, empty calories are calories that come from foods or drinks that have little or no nutritional value.

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There are many common sources of empty calories. People may choose to limit or eliminate these foods and drinks from their diets to stay healthy and within their ideal weight range.

Helping children limit empty calories can set them up for a healthy life in the future. It can also help stabilize their energy and decrease mood swings.

Avoiding or limiting empty calories is a simple step toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

What are calories?

Calories are units of energy. Scientifically, a gram calorie (cal) is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1° C.

From a scientific perspective, what is typically called a “calorie” is actually a kilogram calorie (kCal). This is a unit of energy made up of thousands of “small calories” equal to the large calorie often used to measure the energy in food.

Calories are an essential part of the diet. The body needs to burn calories to do the simplest tasks, such as breathing or blinking. When physical exercise is thrown into the mix, even more calories are required to stay healthy and alert.

The amount of calories a person needs every day can vary widely. Most recommendations are based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day. However, this number may be higher or lower depending on the individual and their habits.

A registered dietitian can help determine a person’s ideal caloric intake based on activity level, age, sex, metabolism, and height.

What are empty calories?

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What Are Calories? How Many Do We Need? – MNT

When I started trying to eat healthy and control my weight, I found that counting calories was a very useful tool. It also happens to be quite easy to use now that I have a smart phone which is always with me. There are all kinds of apps that make calorie counting a snap to do. But, what are calories?

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This item from Medical News Today gives a useful answer.

A calorie is a unit of energy. In nutrition and everyday language, calories refer to energy consumption through eating and drinking and energy usage through physical activity. For example, an apple may have 80 calories, while a one mile walk may use up about 100 calories.

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Eating whole grains increases metabolism and calorie loss – Study

A new study suggests that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. This research is published in tandem with a study on the effect of whole grains on gut microbiota. Both studies are published  in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Epidemiology studies have suggested health benefits of whole grains and high dietary fiber intake, including for glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. There has been controversy, however, about whether whole grains and fiber are beneficial for weight regulation, partially because there hasn’t been data from controlled metabolic studies. This new study provided food to participants for eight weeks and may help explain how whole grain consumption is beneficial for weight management.

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Tips for Healthy Eating at Fast Food Eateries

As a retired guy I don’t eat a lot of fast food because I have the time to fix my own meals, so my experience since retiring is limited in this area. Being in the work force rips a lot of your dietary control away from you. You find yourself ‘on the road’ and subject to the vagaries of your present locale. Or, you have a deadline, so you can’t take the time for a proper meal. You find yourself at the mercy of local fast food eateries. But, maybe all is not lost.

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HELPGUIDE.org offers some worthwhile tips on trying to eat healthy at fast food restaurants.

“Making healthier choices at fast food restaurants is easier if you prepare ahead by checking guides that show you the nutritional content of meal choices at your favorite restaurants. Free downloadable guides help you evaluate your options. If you have a special dietary concern, such as diabetes, heart health or weight loss, the websites of national non-profits provide useful advice. You can also choose to patronize restaurants that focus on natural, high quality food.

“If you don’t prepare ahead of time, common sense guidelines help to make your meal healthier. For example, a seemingly healthy salad can be a diet minefield when smothered in high-fat dressing and fried toppings, so choose a salad with fresh veggies, grilled toppings, and a lighter dressing. Portion control is also important, as many fast food restaurants serve enough food for several meals in the guise of a single serving.”

Tips for making healthy choices at fast food restaurants:
▪ Make careful menu selections – pay attention to the descriptions on the menu. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, or sodium. Order items with more vegetables and choose leaner meats.
▪ Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32-oz Big Gulp of regular cola packs about 425 calories, which can quickly gulp up a big portion of your daily calorie intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or ordering unsweetened iced tea.
▪ “Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it yourself, controlling how much you put on your sandwich.
▪ Special order. Many menu items would be healthy if it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing “on the side” and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed.
Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for your body to register that you have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes you feel more satisfied.

Pay attention to portion size, too. So many fast food places just give you too much food. Then you are stuck with the conundrum not wanting to waste food, but not wanting to pig out, either. So, they mess with your mind as well as your body. As I said on my page How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off – “You don’t want to waste food? But you can’t continue to waist food, either. Understanding serving size and portion control will take you a long way on your weight control journey.”

Tony

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Top 11 Most Common Nutrition Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Eating healthy takes a lot of information. Here are some very useful looking tips.

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Tony

Our Better Health

Nutrition is full of misinformation.

Everyone seems to “know” what is right, most often based on zero evidence.

Here are the top 11 most common nutrition mistakes that people keep repeating.

1. Drinking Fruit Juice

Fruit juice isn’t always what it seems to be.

It is often little more than water mixed with sugar and some kind of fruit concentrate.

In many cases, there isn’t any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit.

But even IF you’re drinking real, 100% fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.

That’s because fruit juices like orange juice have just about the same amount of sugar as Coca Cola and Pepsi!

Fruit juice is like fruit, except with all the good stuff removed.

There is no fiber, no chewing resistance and nothing to stop you from downing massive amounts of sugar.

While whole fruits take a long time to eat…

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How to Enjoy Chocolate Without Gaining Weight

Besides eating chocolate, I thought you might enjoy consuming these fun facts about it. Come on, you didn’t really expect to be able to eat chocolate without consequences, did you? Did you forget TANSTAAFL*?


Think of this as a companion post to yesterday’s The Sweet Truth on Chocolate.

Industry statistics show that women purchase 75% of the chocolate candy sold each year. However, men buy 75% of it before Valentines Day. These V-Day purchases amount to around $1.0 billion nationwide.

Nonetheless, Delish.com says that in 2009, more than 58 million pounds of chocolate were purchased and (likely) consumed in the days surrounding February 14th — that’s about $345 million worth. This year it’s projected that number will reach 60 million pounds! But, Valentine’s Day week is not the biggest week of the year for chocolate sales. According to research from the Nielsen Company, Easter historically trumps Valentine’s Day with 71 million pounds of chocolate candy purchased. Halloween trumps both of those holidays; more than 90 million pounds of chocolate candy are purchased for the spooky, treat-filled holiday.
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What About Calories? – Infographic

Here’s a ton of facts on calories. You can’t live without ’em. The trick is moderation ….

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Tony

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What Does 200 Calories Look Like? – Infographic

Whether you count calories or not, I think you will find this to be useful information. The average person needs around 2000 calories a day to maintain his/her weight. Herewith, a look at 10 percent of that. I think it is fascinating how much bulk is occupied by fruits and vegetables compared with processed food items.

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Tony

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What’s in Doritos? – Infographic

We have just begun football season here, so Sundays in many homes will be characterized by folks in front of flat screens cheering on their favorite team. I plead guilty. Sunday is my favorite day of the week during football season because there are games all day, followed by Sunday Night Football.

All this has to do with the fact that while we are watching we are also munching, munching. I make popcorn in coconut oil that is as healthy as it is delicious. I hope you have a similar salubrious solution to game time munchies. I ran across this infographic on Doritos and wanted you to see it. Doritos is not the answer to your game time craving.

Check out my Page – Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for further details on healthy snacks.

Infographic-What-is-in-Doritos

Enjoy the game!

Tony

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Focus on Nutritional Value Not Calories, Experts Say

Eurekalert reported that It’s time to stop counting the calories, and instead start promoting the nutritional value of foods if we are to rapidly cut illness and death from cardiovascular disease and curb the rising tide of obesity, say experts in an editorial published in the online journal Open Heart.

Must confess I love this finding. Quit worrying about cutting down pounds and inches and instead focus on what you are putting into your body and living a healthy life. Eat less; move more; live longer.

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Drawing on published evidence, Drs. Aseem Malhotra and James DiNicolantonio and Professor Simon Capewell argue that rather like stopping smoking, simple dietary changes can rapidly improve health outcomes at the population level.

For example, boosting omega 3 fatty acid (from fatty fish), olive oil, and nut intake have all been associated with reductions in deaths from all causes and from cardiovascular disease, within months, they say.

But clinicians have failed to act for far too long, amid an excessive focus on the calorific content of food by the food and weight loss industries, despite mounting evidence that it’s the nutritional content that matters, they suggest.

Daily consumption of a sugary drink (150 calories) is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes whereas daily consumption of a handful of nuts (30 g of walnuts, 15 g of almonds and 15 g hazelnuts) or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (around 500 calories) is associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

It has been estimated that increasing nut consumption by two servings a week could stave off 90,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the US alone.

And the Action for Health in Diabetes trial shows that a low calorie diet on top of increased physical activity in patients with type 2 diabetes was not associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular death despite significant weight loss and a monitoring period of 13.5 years, they point out.

“Shifting the focus away from calories and emphasizing a dietary pattern that focuses on food quality rather than quantity will help to rapidly reduce obesity, related diseases, and cardiovascular risk,” they insist.

“Primary and secondary care clinicians have a duty to their individual patients and also to their local populations. Our collective failure to act is an option we cannot afford,” they write, citing the human and economic toll this is taking.

Obesity costs the NHS over £5 billion a year, while the costs of type 2 diabetes add up to more than £20 billion and are predicted to double over the next 20 years. Similarly, the cost of diabetes has risen 40% in the past five years in the US, adding up to $245 billion in 2012, they say.

The evidence shows that poor diet is consistently responsible for more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol put together, they say, calling for sugary drinks to be taxed; government subsidies to make fruit, vegetables, and nuts more affordable; and tighter controls on the marketing of junk food.

“Applying these population wide policies might achieve rapid reductions in disease and hospital admissions visible even within the electoral terms of most politicians,” they suggest.

“It is time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality. The evidence indeed supports the mantra that ‘food can be the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison’,” they write.

“Recommending a high fat Mediterranean type diet and lifestyle to our patients, friends and families, might be a good place to start,” they conclude.

Tony

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