Exercise Less, Lose More

Jogging

Still trying to shed those stubborn holiday pounds? You don’t have to starve yourself or run two hours a day to do so.

A recent Danish study published in The American Journal of Physiology showed that less exercise leads to more weight loss. Those who exercised 30 minutes daily for 3 months shed more weight than those who worked out 60 minutes daily. How can this be? Those who exercised less actually increased their activity level all day long, thereby burning more calories.

Take that, Christmas cookies.

Photo credit: FCC, Eleanza

The Truth About Fasting for Weight Loss

Tortoise

When it comes to losing weight quickly, it seems fasting is di rigeur. I really wish it wasn’t.

Do periodic fasts help you lose weight?

Fasting is when you go without food, and there’s no fewer calories than zero. Fasting definitely will cause you lose weight. But there’s a hidden cost. Every time you fast, your body goes into prehistoric starvation mode telling every cell, Slow down, there’s no food. By slowing your metabolism you set yourself up to gain back the weight plus some the next time you eat.

Slow and steady wins the weight loss race.

Photo credit: FCC wwarby

No Weight Loss Willpower? Start Setting Small Goals

Hopscotch

Dipped your hand in the candy bowl? Ordered a double scoop instead of a single? Think it’s because you’ve go no will power? Think again.

Big goals — say, losing 50 pounds — are much more easily accomplished by breaking them down into many smaller goals. Setting and achieving daily and weekly goals builds your self confidence and helps you stay focused. Done in small steps, big goals don’t seem so intimidating, and willpower (or lack thereof) doesn’t seem so daunting.

So, for example, instead of starting your diet by swearing off all carbs and exercising an hour a day, you might start by eliminating simple carbs (white carbs, candy, cake) and doing 10-20 minutes of exercise a day. After a couple of weeks, once you’ve achieved those goals, you might set two more small goals such as switching from diet soda to water and increasing your exercise to 20-30 minutes a day. Once those goals are achieved, you’ll feel successful and more motivated to keep going.

So, it’s set small goal. Accomplish goal. Feel good. Repeat.

Willpower’s got nothing on you.

Photo credit: FCC, Jan Tik

The Link Between Obesity and Acne

Many of you are trying to lose weight in 2012 (W00t!) Did you know that you might be helping your acne as well? Obesity can lead to excess hormones such as androgens and insulin-like growth factors which trigger acne. Losing weight can help reduce your hormone levels and improve your acne. Have you lost weight and seen your acne improve?

Fat is Determined in Childhood and Can Replace Itself

Despite countless thousands of websites, books, articles, diets, exercises, and research, about weight loss, surprisingly little is known about the tiny cells that cause all the trouble — fat cells. Recent research has shown that the number of fat cells you have is set in childhood and remains constant in adulthood, even after extreme measures like bariatric (stomach stapling) surgery.

Fat or adipose tissue is made up of adipocytes (fat cells). These cells function to store energy. When you eat more calories than you burn, the extra calories you eat are stored in adipose tissue. This trait of storing up energy was once beneficial: it kept our ancestors alive.

Before modern times, and even now in some parts of the globe, having enough food to survive is not a given. Humans, like all mammals, store calories so that when we are unable to find sufficient food for days or weeks, we are still able to survive by burning the energy stored in our fat.

Here in the US, many of us get far more daily calories than we need. Day after day these calories are systematically stored until years go by and obesity develops.

Many people think that the number of fat cells increase as we get fatter. This is not true. Excess fat is not from an increased number of adipocytes, but rather from an increasingly large volume of the cells you already have. Weight loss reduces fat cell volume but not the number of cells.

Researchers recently discovered that fat cells replace themselves to keep their numbers constant. They found that when fat cells die, new ones grow to take their place. About 8% of all fat cells are replaced every year and each adipocyte lives for about 8 years on average before it is replaced.

This is important because weight loss techniques like liposuction, which actually remove fat cells, may not have long term benefits. Even when fat is removed, this research shows that new fat cells will grow to re-establish the set number of cells that you developed from childhood.

This post is written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD

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