Big Breakfasts, Calories in Nuts, and Heart Muscle mass


Dr. Kevin Most

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Fasting or Big Breakfast

Are you confused about what to eat and what time to eat in the morning? Two hot topics now in the never ending world of diet and weight loss are the concept of intermittent fasting and diet induced thermogenesis. Now these two concepts could not be further apart and yet they both may work.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it is an eating pattern. This pattern cycles between eating and fasting, it does not discuss what foods or how much you eat it is all about timing. The most common form right now is the 16 hour intermittent fast. Let’s say you have dinner at 6 pm, the goal under this plan would be to not eat again until 10am the next day. Fasting for 16 hours. Now in all reality this was probably the norm before we had grocery stores, refrigerators and preservatives. This plan does help you lose weight as long as you do not load up on the calories during the 8 hours you are eating, essentially if you eat normally during the 8 hours you will have a decrease in calorie u=intake and your body will use reserves during the fasting period thus ending up with weight loss.

How does the body react to this? We see that insulin becomes more sensitive and insulin levels drop, this allows the body to burn fat for energy. We also so Human Growth Hormone increase which also has the benefit of fat loss as well as muscle growth. This has been shown to decrease belly fat, increase your metabolic rate which in turn will lead to weight loss.

Now let’s go to the other extreme, diet induced thermogenesis or DIT. The concept here is about the opposite of intermittent fasting. This concept is that you eat your largest meal of the day in the morning, followed by a medium lunch and then a small dinner. The concept is to give your body the energy (calories) when it needs it, thus the body burns more calories. It also has the idea that a large breakfast will slow or eliminate the snacking that many do throughout the day, where many calories are taken on without much thought.

Simply put the amount of energy we use every day is composed of 3 totals, the first is the energy we all need to sustain life at a basic level (30%), the second is the amount of energy we use with physical activity (60%) and the third is the amount of energy that is induced from our diet and the energy needed to digest the diet (10%). The concept of DIT is that we can impact the amount of energy expended by a specific diet and at a specific time of the day. Studies have shown that individuals who are lean had a higher DIT than those who were felt to be obese.

The main determinant of DIT is the content of the food, alcohol and protein lead to high DIT whereas fat and carbohydrates will have a lower DIT. A study out of Germany suggests that a big breakfast with higher calories than the dinner lead to higher DIT, it was also shown to lead to lower snacking thru the day which may be just as important. The concept of having your largest meal at breakfast or lunch is common thru out the world. There is some agreement that dinner should be your lowest calorie meal, something we rarely see here in the US.

So which plan works best for you? Or can you actually do both of them. That is one of the hot concepts now, it is to continue to intermittently fast and couple that with your largest meal of the day in the morning. The morning meal of more protein than fat or carbs appears to make the biggest impact.

Calories- are they changing the counting?

We all know that calories impact our weight, many common weight loss methods are simply counting calories, with the premise if we burn more calories than we take in we will have to lose weight. In 1973 the FDA regulated that foods must carry nutritional labels and since then we have looked at labels for calories, fat, protein amounts as we plan our intake. Over the past 47 years we have gotten better and more accurate as to the content of the food we ingest daily. Historically the caloric amounts were simply based on the type of food and the weight of the food. For example we know from testing in a lab that one gram of fat has 9 calories and one gram of protein has 4 calories, thus protein by weight will have a lower impact on your weight than fat would.

As we have progressed on this labeling over the past 47 years we have found that one gram of protein is not universal as we look at sources for protein, what I mean is that one gram of protein from salmon is not the equivalent of one gram of protein from almonds. How can that be if we have used the weight in grams times the lab based calorie number to get our answer. Well, the human body is not a bench lab, and all that is taken in is not necessarily absorbed into the body. Some forms of food are not absorbed well and in fact are important to our health in minimizing our risk of colon cancer as they are high in fiber.

Recently information has come out on almonds which has led to changing many dietary labels. Almonds are a low carbohydrate food that are high in calories but also have a decent amount of fiber and protein. But an almond is a generic term when discussing its nutritional value. Studies have shown that the nutritional value of almonds change as we process them. If we cook or grind them it breaks down the composition of the almond and thus more can be ingested and less acts as non digested fiber. Roasted almonds may have higher digestible calories than raw almonds however the salt and sugar content often will skyrocket. If the almond is not roasted, the studies have shown that they have a lower number of calories due to the amount ingested. This will impact protein bars that have almonds, allowing for a decreased calorie count and may actually increase that caloric impact of almond butter.

This allows us to be as accurate as we can and allows for individuals to make good choices when it comes dietary intake.

Heart News

As we exit the Heart Month of February results of a study completed over the past ten years may have men in their 30’s and early 40’s rethinking exercise and the importance of muscle mass.

A study was published recently that looked at the importance of muscle mass and maintaining muscle mass as we age and the protective properties of muscle mass. The study was completed mainly in Spain and Greece which is interesting as we look at the study and what they promoted and tracked. For years we have known that excess weight, smoking and diabetes will lead to much higher incidence of heart disease and stroke. What this study looked at was to take individuals who had no signs of heart disease and were over the age of 30 and the impact that maintaining muscle mass has on their risk of heart disease and stroke.

We know that as we age our muscle mass declines for most people. If you looked at all individuals you would see that their muscle mass peaks at the age of 30 and that we lose about 3 % of our muscle mass each decade from that point going forward and that rate increases as we age. We know that simple decrease in muscle mass impacts health in many ways, activity, mental health, bone health, balance and most importantly heart health.

This study started with simply signing up thousands of individuals and doing an extensive medical exam, testing and lifestyle questionnaires. They chose individuals who had no signs of heart disease at that time. Ten years after joining the study the individuals returned for a second round of testing with a focus on cardiovascular illness.

They looked again to see if these individuals who had no signs of cardiovascular disease 10 years earlier had progressed to having signs of CV disease. 27% of the individuals had, with men showing a 6x higher rate than women. They looked back at the data and it showed that those individuals that had significant muscle mass when the study started had a 81 percent lower risk of heart disease when compared to the others. The study showed that early muscle mass in your 30-40’s may have a protective measure against heart disease as we age.

Now many of you may be thinking of course this is the result as those individuals probably eat better, exercise more and may be more educated about health. The researchers tried to remove these variables as much as they could and the results still held up.

The big message is having a substantial muscle mass in your 30-40’s and attempting to maintain muscle mass as you age appears to have a substantial impact on protecting your heart.

Bob Sirott
Weekdays 5-9am BobSirott

Bob Sirott's acclaimed broadcasting career has spanned nearly five decades and has included stints at WMAQ, WBBM-FM, WLS, WGN and various television stations. (Click for more.)
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