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    Archive for the ‘muscles’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: 1 Pound of Muscle Burns 50 Calories?

    HTEUD00ZI have come across a lot of articles and books which state that a pound of muscle burns 50 calories per day just to support itself.

    That seems extremely high to me.

    — Luis (Last name withheld)
    Washington, DC

    I, too, often see that figure repeated ad-nauseum — and can’t help but shake my head.

    It is true that the more muscle mass we have, the more calories our bodies intrinsically burn (AKA, the more effective and faster our metabolism).

    However, the “50 burned calories per pound of muscle” figure is grossly inaccurate.

    A multitude of studies over the past decade — all in respectable metabolism and exercise physiology journals — have clearly demonstrated that one pound of lean muscle burns anywhere from five to eight calories per day for self-sustaining purposes.

    Mind you, this is certainly better than fat tissue, which burns a mere two calories per day.

    Weight-bearing exercises are still extremely important, though (they are beneficial in slowing down osteoporosis, strengthening the heart, and even improving the immune system).

    Keep in mind that between the ages of 50 and 80, humans can lose up to 40 percent of their muscle mass. That significant loss carries significant metabolic — and health — repercussions!


    Numbers Game: Answer

    older_man_musclesAdults lose, on average, 5 to 10 percent of their muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 50, and an additional 30 to 40 percent between the ages of 50 and 80.

    This is why, as beneficial as cardiovascular exercise is, it does not cut it.  Weight-bearing exercise is key to muscle mass maintenance, and needs to be integrated into your physical activity routine.

    This is not about “bulking up”; it’s about preserving and keeping muscle tissue active and firm.

    The increased loss of muscle mass after age 50 helps us understand why so many individuals tend to put on weight during their fifties, even if they consume a diet calorically similar to the one they ate throughout their forties.

    Remember, a loss in muscle mass also means a less efficient metabolism.  The less efficient our metabolism works, the fewer calories we burn on a daily basis — and the higher our risk of weight gain.

    Weight gain, as you know, increases the risk for a multitude of diseases and conditions (from arthritis to diabetes to heart disease).

    Once muscle mass wanes, the dominoes cascade down very quickly!

    Use it…. or lose it.


    Numbers Game: Don’t Wait to Pick Up Those Weights!

    bicepAdults lose, on average, 5 to 10 percent of their muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 50, and an additional ____ to ____ percent between the ages of 50 and 80.

    a) 20 – 30
    b) 18 – 28
    c) 30 – 40
    d) 50 – 60

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Thursday for the answer.


    You Ask, I Answer: Underweight & Want To Gain!

    dumbbellsI am currently going to school at UC Berkeley, and unlike the stereotypical issue that most students face, I have lost weight rather than gain the “freshman 15.”

    I started school at what I think was a good weight of about 150 lbs (I am 6ft tall).  Now in my third year, I am down to the low 130s (which, on a six-foot frame, nearly makes me look emaciated).

    I attribute this to stress and lots of cardio work, as I am on the cycling team and will usually ride between 200 and 300 miles per week.

    I also eat very healthily with lots of high fiber, low processed grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and white meats.

    I assume I have lost all this weight from a deficiency of calories.

    I want to try and gain some of this weight back, but in a healthy way that will promote muscle growth and not fat gain.

    What is the best way to go about doing this?  Simply increase caloric consumption?

    How much food should I look to eat each day? What is the best way?

    — Kyle (last name withheld)
    Berkeley, CA

    You are correct — your weight-loss over the past few years is a direct result of burning off more calories than you consume.

    One of the easiest things you can do is increase your daily caloric intake by 500 – 600 calories.

    Do this by consuming healthy, whole foods.  For example:

    • Add an extra piece of fruit and an extra tablespoon of nut butter to your breakfast (180 calories)
    • Add half an avocado to a side salad (120 calories)
    • Sprinkle two tablespoons of hemp seeds over a stir-fry (160 calories)
    • Have an extra cup of low-fat yogurt or low-fat milk before going to bed (122 calories)

    You don’t need to worry about seeking out protein because you will automatically get additional amounts by increasing your total caloric intake.

    Those two tablespoons of hemp seeds, for instance, add 11 grams of protein to your day.

    Another important nutrient to keep in mind — fat.  You want to get at least 20 percent of your total calories from fat.  Lower amounts negatively affect testosterone levels, which in turn take a toll on muscle building and repair.

    Also, be sure to look for calorically-dense foods (i.e.: instead of eating a cup of grapes, eat a quarter cup of raisins).  This will make it easier to eat a higher amount of calories in a shorter period of time, and gives your body less of a chance to get full too quickly.

    Ideally, you want to increase caloric consumption while also performing resistance-training exercises (AKA lifting weights).

    In that case, you want to aim for 1.4 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (to convert your weight in pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.2).

    This post offers additional advice for optimal post-strength-training nutrition.


    You Ask, I Answer: Post-Workout Nutrition

    aquatic_weight_roomI really enjoy working out at the gym, trying to build some muscle.

    Therefore, I would like to ask you a question about how a proper recovery meal should look after an intense workout.

    How much protein is enough?  There seem to be so many self-proclaimed nutrition experts on this area.

    Maybe you could clear up the confusion?

    — (Name Withheld)
    (City Unknown), Sweden

    I would be more than happy to.

    To help your body complement your strength-and-muscle-building workouts, this is what you should be consuming ideally no more than an hour after leaving the gym:

    • 300 – 400 calories
    • 25 – 30 grams of protein
    • 50 – 80 grams of carbohydrates
    • 12 to 16 ounces of water

    As you can see, low-carbohydrate meals and shakes after a workout are absolutely senseless.

    It is important to provide the body with enough carbohydrates to fully restore glycogen stores and encourage as much protein synthesis and muscle repair as possible.

    That is not an excuse to eat nutritionally empty foods like donuts, french fries, or candy bars.  After all, you also want to make sure to nourish your body with important minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

    Here are some post-workout meals that fit the bill:

    • Cup of plain yogurt + 1 large banana + 1.5 ounce almonds
    • Tuna sandwich: One can tuna + 2 tablespoons hummus + squirt of lemon + 2 slices 100% whole-grain bread
    • Vegan burrito: 1 small whole-wheat wrap filled with half cup brown rice, half cup black beans, 1 Tablespoon salsa, and 1 Tablespoon guacamole or 1/3 cup sliced avocado
    • 3 ounces sauteed beef/chicken/salmon/shrimp/tofu/seitan over 1 cup cooked quinoa and 1 cup cooked vegetables

    Although food should be your main goal, this is one of those instances where an appropriate protein shake is useful, mainly for convenience and transport.  Here is what I mean by appropriate:

    • Meets — and does not exceed! — calorie, carbohydrate, and protein requirements.  Outrageous amounts of protein are completely unnecessary and will not provide any additional benefits.
    • Is minimally processed.  Most ready-to-drink protein drinks and bars are nutritional horrors!  I recommend making your own at home if possible.  For example, mix no-sugar-added 100% whey protein with water (or your milk or dairy alternative of choice), a piece of fruit, and some healthy fat (almond butter, ground flaxseed).  PS: Add in some cocoa powder, cinnamon, or vanilla extract for a healthy flavor boost.

    I want to emphasize these post-workout guidelines are for people who are looking to build muscle and completing intense strength-training workouts.

    This is a completely inappropriate meal after a 25-minute brisk walk or jog.


    You Ask, I Answer: Body Mass Index

    bmi-comparisonHow accurate is the Body Mass Index?

    Mine is on the very highest edge of the “normal” spectrum, but just from looking at myself I can tell that I am not close to being overweight.

    — Corey Clark
    (Location Unknown)

    Body Mass Index (BMI) is a popularly used calculation based on height and weight that provides an estimate for an individual’s percentage of body fat.

    If interested, you can easily calculate your BMI online.

    The results are then interpreted in the following way:

    • < 18.5 = Underweight
    • 18.5 – 24.9 = Healthy weight
    • 25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight
    • 30.0 – 34.9 = Obesity (Class 1)
    • 35.0 – 39.9 = Obesity (Class 2)
    • >40.0 = Hyper Obesity

    Although BMI is usually accurate, it has its drawbacks.

    The main one?  Height and weight alone leave out important information.

    As the accompanying illustration (property of HowStuffWorks.com) shows, a muscular athlete may have the same BMI as a sedentary individual with a high amount of adipose tissue.  While both may classify as overweight according to BMI, the sedentary individual is at a much higher risk for developing certain diseases (including heart disease and cancer) than the muscular athlete.

    This is why, except in the case of high obesity, most nutrition professionals like to compound BMI calculation with waist circumference measurements.

    Scientific research has found an undeniable link between waist circumference and disease risk.

    In that case, here are the values to keep in mind:

    • In women, waist circumference of 30 inches or less is deemed healthy.  31 – 35 inches points to an increased disease risk, while measurements over 35 point to high disease risk.
    • In the case of men, waist circumference should be at 36 inches or below.  Measurements between 37 and 40 inches indicate increase disease risk.  Any values over 40 indicate high disease risk.

    For example, a muscular male athlete may have a BMI of 28 (considered ‘overweight’) but a waist circumference of 32.


    You Ask, I Answer: Soy Protein

    100-soy-proteinWhen I was at the gym today, I overheard two guys talking.

    One of them was telling the other that he drinks soy protein shakes since he is lactose-intolerant.

    The other guy told him that is the worst thing he can do, since soy’s amino acids are converted into estrogen by the body, and don’t let muscles grow.

    This didn’t sound right to me, but I figured I would ask you.

    — Tom Dalgers
    New York, NY

    You are absolutely right, Tom.  It doesn’t sound right… because it’s completely false!

    Some basic nutrition and human physiology concepts demonstrate why “guy #2” should not be so quick to dole out his brand of advice.

    Soy, just like all varities of meat, contains all nine essential amino acids.  It is considered a “complete protein,” in that sense (compared to something like whole wheat bread or peanut butter).

    Remember, though, that as long as you eat a balanced diet, it is not detrimental to consume “incomplete proteins,” since the amino acids lacking in whole grains are found in legumes (and vice versa).

    As for the amino acids in soy being converted to estrogen?  Nonsense!  The body produces estrogen from cholesterol, not from amino acids.

    Even if “guy #2” had a momentary lapse in memory and meant to say that the phytoestrogens in soy are converted to estrogen in the body, he would still be wrong.

    If you look at the research literature on soy and testosterone, you will see that the vast majority of studies find no relation between soy intake and decreased testosterone.  The small handful (out of hundreds) of studies that found compromised testosterone levels were using preposterously high amounts of soy protein in their experiments.

    While we’re at it, let me remind you that muscles grow as a result of performing weight-bearing exercises, not from consuming protein.  Although the timing of protein consumption after a workout can help maximize results, the average person (and especially man) in the United States is already consuming, on average, twice the amount of required protein.  Supplementing with additional amounts doesn’t make much sense.

    The protein shake industry has done such a great job convincing people looking to bulk up that they need more protein that the most essential aspect of gaining weight while weightlifting — eating more calories! — is forgotten about by many.


    You Ask, I Answer: Protein and Weight Training

    Using your calculation I should be getting 54 grams of protein a day, which is not a problem.

    I have started strength training, [so] should I up my protein intake?

    If so, by how much?

    — Chris (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    As you have figured out, protein requirements are extremely easy to meet.

    A three ounce portion (as large as the palm of your hand and no wider than your pinky) of salmon or chicken provides 27 grams, a sandwich consisting of two slices of whole wheat bread and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter adds up to 24 grams, a cup of milk delivers 8 grams, half a cup of lentils packs in 9 grams, and 23 almonds (one ounce) clock in at 6 grams.

    Since the 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is the minimum requirement, you you can safely double that intake – in your case, I would suggest not surpassing the 110 – 120 gram point.

    As far as strength training is concerned, I’m assuming you want to know if upping protein intake will help you gain muscle mass.

    The answer is both “yes” and “no.”

    Acquiring muscle mass is achieved by shocking muscle groups and eating additional calories.

    Some of these calories will surely come from protein, but also fats and carbohydrates.

    Many people make the mistake of concentrating solely on protein, missing out on excess calories. Without more calories, you will not put on muscle mass!

    Let’s say you currently eat 2,000 calories and 90 grams of protein a day.

    A 1,700 calorie diet with 160 grams of protein is a lot less effective at helping you gain mass than a 2,500 calorie diet with 95 grams of protein.

    The best suggestion I can give you is in regards to timing.

    Be sure to eat a snack that contains complex carbohydrates and protein no later than 45 minutes after your workout for optimal glycogen refueling. A glass of skim milk and a tablespoon of peanut butter on whole wheat toast is one good example.


    Speaking With…: Mike Levinson

    This posting is dedicated to all my male readers.

    I’m not playing favorites, but certainly paying homage to the miniscule amount of male Registered Dietitians in the United States.

    Just how miniscule? Only 2.5 percent of the approximately 60,000 RD’s in this country are men!

    Remember, whereas anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, Registered Dietitians are accredited by the American Dietetic Association.

    Aspiring RD’s like myself must complete a series of required academic courses as well as a 900-hour clinical internship, and then show they can walk the walk by passing a national exam.

    If that isn’t enough, they also must complete 75 hours of professional education every 5 years in order to retain the credential.

    So, imagine my excitement when I first heard of RD Mike Levinson’s new book, Buff Dad, three weeks ago.

    Sure, there are plenty of male physicians, anthropologists, physicists, cardiologists, and quacks (oh, I don’t know, some guy named Kevin) dipping their toes into the nutrition waters, but it is rare to see a book penned by a male Registered Dietitian.

    Buff Dad is a “4-week fitness game plan” tailored for men (fathers or not) looking to tone up and slim down.

    Part of it comes from experience.

    Despite being an amateur bodybuilder and avid athlete, Levinson — who holds a bachelors degree of science in nutrition and exercise science from the Univ of Texas and completed his Dietetic Internship at California State University of Long Beach — gained 50 pounds in two years after his wife had their first child.

    The plan outlined in Buff Dad is what Levinson used to, as he puts it, go from a “puffy dad” to a “buff daddy”!

    What sets this apart from many other “diet” books is that Levinson instills some valuable lessons on healthy lifelong habits, including portion control, not swearing off any foods entirely, implementing exercise, and enjoying a diet that includes all food groups.

    Additionally, Levinson’s recommendations can be followed for life. No special supplements, exotic ingredients, or bizarre non-sensical rules.

    Unlike many other nutrition and fitness books aimed at men, the ultimate goal here is not to bulk up and reach Vin Diesel-like proportions. The focus is on healthy eating, toning up, and looking YOUR personal best, not that of advertisers’.

    Buff Dad‘s central “theme” surrounds the male sex hormone, testosterone.

    “Testosterone is the key to gaining that lean muscle and burning stubborn body fat,” says Levinson.

    In the book, he urges readers to include certain testosterone-boosting “powerfoods” on a daily basis, including tried and true classics like beans, poultry, and eggs, as well as some surprising ones — broccoli, brussels sprouts, and garlic.

    “Testosterone is shown to help men improve muscles mass and decrease body fat. The more muscle mass you can add to your body, the higher your metabolism which means you burn more calories and fat throughout the day,” he explains.

    Levinson believes that a steady intake of these foods, in combination with a consistent workout plan (also detailed in the book), helps tone up and boost metabolism.

    “Food is the most powerful fuel and drug to help athletes and people who want to get in shape and be healthy,” Levinson says.

    Small Bites landed an interview with this buff dad (and author). Our exchange follows.

    How does this plan fit into a vegetarian lifestyle? I specifically ask since lean beef and poultry are two of the top ten testosterone “powerfoods”.

    There are many vegetable-based testosterone foods which a vegetarian can include.

    [For example], lacto-ovo vegetarians [those who consume dairy and egg products] can eat eggs and egg whites.

    The most important factor [, though,] is to follow the diet plan and make sure to eat small meals throughout the day and watch portion sizes.

    Are there any foods that decrease testosterone levels? This kind of ties in to the first question, because I’m thinking along the lines of soy and phytoestrogens. Would a diet high in soy foods (ie: having soymilk, tofu, soy crisps, and soy burgers as daily staples) be detrimental?

    A diet high in soy based products could actually increase the production of estrogen in the body. High estrogen levels could potentially increase a man’s chances of getting gynocamastia (breast tissue “man-boobs”) and also increase risk of breast cancer.

    [But] I think including some tofu, soy beans and other soy based products is fine, and encouraged, especially if someone is a vegetarian. They need that protein to build muscle mass and further to increase metabolism [in order to] burn more fat.

    The plan recommends 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises three times a week, and 30 minute of cardio another 3 days of the week. If someone were pressed for time, could they do 30 minutes of cardio the same day/session as their 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises, or is that going to have counter effects?

    Yes they can- exercise is cumulative, which means [that] as long as you do three times a week of weight training to build lean tissue and three to four days a week of cardio to burn body fat and increase stamina and cardio health, that is fine.

    I recommend doing some form of exercise at least five days a week so doing cardio and then weight training on the same day is fine but I believe another day or two of walking or biking or some form of cardio is a must.

    The book mentions low-fat diets as detrimental for men since they lower testosterone levels. However, low-fat peanut butter and fat-free yogurt are listed as suggested foods. Are these recommendations based on lower-fat varieties contributing less total calories?

    Yes- I believe in a well balanced diet and try to avoid higher fat (saturated) yogurts- these are not that good for you because of the higher saturated milk fat.

    As for peanut butter- I believe it is a wonderful food but high in calories because of the fat content so trying to get just a little less fat translates to lower calories.

    I do not believe in low fat and high carb diets and in this day- you could potentially eat a virtually fat free diet (the 1980s and 1990s) and not see results.

    From a training perspective, what are some of the most common mistakes you see men make at the gym?

    Some common mistakes men make at the gym or [when] working out at home is doing the same body part (i.e. abs or biceps or chest) everyday and not working other muscle groups.

    Also working the same muscle everyday or every other day does not allow that particular muscle to rest and recuperate.

    A total body workout with minimum amount of time is ideal and the standard now.

    What would you say to a man who comes to you, is about 50 pounds overweight, wants to get his health and fitness back, but has no idea where to start?

    Buy Buff Dad and get started on the program. It will be an easy way to get in shape without buying expensive machines or exotic foods.

    Thank you once again to Mike Levinson for his time.

    If you are interested in learning more, visit him at the Buff Dad website.


    You Ask, I Answer: Whey Protein/Protein Needs

    I was wondering about whey protein powder and your thoughts on protein needs.

    Is whey protein really more “bio-available” or better than other protein sources?

    How much protein does a person need?

    Is more protein necessary for muscle recovery or building after working out?

    Does whey protein improve our immune system?

    — Michael (last name withheld)
    (City unknown), Illinois

    The average healthy adult requires no more than 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (if you only know your weight in pounds, divide it by 2.2 to determine the kilogram equivalent).

    The 0.8 grams figure solely represents the daily requirement — you can consume up to 200% of that total and still be within a perfectly safe range.

    It’s always amusing to me to see protein heavily advertised on certain products, almost as if it were a nutrient we were all severely lacking.

    Far from it! The average adult in the United States consumes anywhere from 175 – 200 percent of their daily protein needs.

    Let’s break down this ever-persistent myth that athletes (or any regular person who lifts weights and wants to bulk up, for that matter) need to consume tons of protein.

    Remember, the average adult requires 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

    When it comes to athletes and others engaging in strenuous physical activity, protein needs ARE higher, but we are talking, at most, 1.5 or 1.6 grams per kilogram.

    In other words, their needs fall within the “permissible” 200 percent range (which, again, corresponds to average protein intakes in the United States anyway).

    A few things worth mentioning here.

    Firstly, building muscle has more to do with consuming excess calories and performing weight-bearing exercises that challenge and shock the muscles appropriately.

    Overloading on protein but consuming too few total calories and/or not performing the appropriate exercises at the appropriate intensity levels is completely futile.

    What athletes and people performing strenuous exercise should focus on is protein quality, not quantity.

    This is where biological value comes in.

    Biological value is a term referring to how closely a protein matches the amino acid composition required by the body.

    Complete proteins – all animal-derived ones as well as soy – contain all 8 essential amino acids.

    Incomplete proteins – from vegetable sources – usually lack one or two.

    This is not to say that vegetarians are not getting adequate protein.

    See, Mother Nature is one smart cookie.

    Proof? The amino acid lacking in grains is present in legumes (and vice versa). So, as long as a vegetarian has a diet containing various food groups, their amino acid needs are met.

    In fact, many athletes as well as Olympic, Ironman, and Mr. Universe bodybuilding competitors and winners have been vegetarian.

    Some names? Billie Jean King, Bruce Lee, Carl Lewis, Joe Namath, and Martina Navratilova.

    Back to biological value. If we are speaking about foods, eggs are the absolute best (yes, even better than meat, chicken, and fish).

    Whey protein, however, has an even higher score. So, technically, it is the most bio-available protein.

    Since biological value also tells us the percentage of the protein used for muscle growth and repair, it is no surprise whey protein is the chosen favorite of weight-lifters.

    Again, though, many people fail to realize that protein quality is more important than protein quantity.

    Remember, except for extreme circumstances, protein is not used for energy; carbohydrates and fat are. Too much protein simply ends up being stored as fat.

    So how about nutrition needs after a workout?

    Again, many people immediately think, “protein.” While that is certainly one part, they often forget two other just as crucial nutrients: carbohydrates and water.

    Countless studies have determined that consuming protein AND carbohydrates no more than 30 to 45 minutes after a strenuous (approximately 1 hour) workout are more efficient at muscle recovery than protein alone.

    Think roughly 30 – 50 grams of carbohydrates.

    Another tip: carbohydrates ranking higher in the glycemic index (such as watermelons, dates, potatoes, and cereals) are often preferred during this window of time, since they replenish fuel stores more quickly and aid in muscle repair.

    In regards to whey protein’s effects on the immune system, there is a good body of research showing a link between whey protein consumption and an increase in glutathione levels (a protein that plays a crucial role in human immune systems).

    It is important to note, though, that other foods (spinach, walnuts, cauliflower, avocado, and broccoli, all in their raw forms) also have the same effect.


    You Ask, I Answer: Basal Metabolic Rate/Daily Caloric Intake

    How can one correctly find their BMR and the calories intake needed for the day?

    I have messed up my BMR with my undereating and am in almost malnourished state.

    I want to increase my BMR and lose some fat.

    From what I understand, maintenance and weight loss is figuring out the equation between calories intake and daily activity.

    I just want to know how to estimate a calorie range I should go for and amount of exercise I need to do daily.

    I am small – medium frame woman, 130 pounds, and 5′ 4″, with almost no muscle tone.

    — Mandy (last name unknown)
    Halifax, Canada

    I’m confused.

    You claim to have messed up your basal metabolic rate due to undereating to the point where you are in a “malnourished state”, yet are looking to lose fat?

    In any case, to answer your question – yes, weight loss and maintenance comes down to figuring out the net result of calories in (food) minus calories out (metabolism).

    Our basal metabolic rate — the amount of calories we burn off simply by existing — is ultimately determined by a variety of factors, among them age, genetics, physical activity, dietary paterns, body composition, and hormonal activity.

    This last point is especially important. Thyroxin, produced by the thyroid gland, plays a crucial role in metabolism.

    In hypothyroidism, very little thyroxin in produced, and BMR is significantly lowered.

    If you are cutting calories appropriately and upping physical activity for several weeks and see absolutely no changes, pay a visit to an endocrinologist and have your thyroid gland checked.

    Thyroid issues apart, many people appear to forget that some of these factors change with time, age being the most obvious.

    This is one reason why, as people age, they find that weight “creeps up on them.”

    The 2,500 calories once needed to maintain weight can be too many — and cause weight gain — ten years later.

    This is where knowing TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) also comes in handy.

    TDEE lets you know how many calories you approximately burn each day on top of what your body uses up as a result of standard bodily processes.

    So how do you determine all these numbers?

    First, calculate your BMR.

    You can easily find that out by plugging some basic numbers into Discovery Health’s BMR Calculator.

    If you want to get slightly more technical, you can also use the Mifflin-St Jeor formula, developed in 1990, which goes something like this:

    Male BMR = 10* (weight in kg) + 6.25* (height in cm) – 5* (Age)+ 5
    Female BMR = 10* (weight in kg)+ 6.25* (height in cm) – 5* (Age) -161

    NOTE: To convert pounds to kilograms, divide by 2.2 To convert inches to centimeters, multiply times 2.54.

    Prior to this, the Harris-Benedict formula (created in 1919) was used. While useful, Mifflin-St.Jeor results in more accurate numbers.

    Ok, now: to calculate TDEE multiply your BMR by:

    • 1.2 if you perform little to no physical activity
    • 1.38 if you perform light physical activity a few times a week
    • 1.55 if you perform moderate physical activity at least 3 times a week
    • 1.725 if you perform intense physical activity on a daily basis
    • 1.9 if you perform intense physical activity several times a day or have a very physically demanding job.

    Whatever number you get is how many calories you need to maintain your desired body weight.

    If you wish to lose — or gain — weight, simply subtract – or add – fifteen percent to that figure.

    By consuming fifteen percent less calories and increasing your physical activity, you will certainly shed weight.

    The fact that you mention having “no muscle tone” is significant, since increasing lean muscle mass is a sure-fire way to speed up metabolism.

    This is why weight-bearing exercises are highly recommended — they help with bone density and metabolism.

    Alas, weight loss comes back to the tried and true advice of “eat less, move more.”


    You Ask, I Answer: Muscle vs. Fat

    Could you please clear up the “muscle weighs more than fat” myth?

    It always bugs me when I hear this because a pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh a pound.

    Muscle is simply denser than fat—correct?

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Yes, let’s put this one to rest.

    You are absolutely correct; a pound of muscle weighs just as much as a pound of fat (after all, a pound is a pound is a pound).

    What people really mean to say is precisely what you’re asking me to confirm — muscle is simply more dense than fat.

    In essence, a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat.

    Let’s use a suitcase analogy. A two pound dumbbell takes up less space than two pounds’ worth of ping-pong balls.

    The same thing occurs with fat and muscle.

    This is why the scale often does not budge when someone starts a fitness program that implements weight training.

    Fat is lost, muscle is gained, and although body composition changes (and your jeans are less snug), weight does not alter much.


    Weekend Fun

    Time for another cartoon!

    I am not a big fan of scales. Although necessary in tracking weight loss goals, they are often misinterpreted and misused.

    If your weight-loss plan includes exercise, you might lose fat and gain muscle, ultimately resulting in a higher weight than before, since muscle weighs more than fat.

    Better barometers of weight loss? The clothes you wear — especially if you are looking to shed just two or three pounds. If your 36-inch jeans are feeling looser and your weight hasn’t budged, screw the scale, I say.

    If you like keeping track of your weight, weigh yourself no more than twice a week. Be sure to weigh in at the same time of day each time, and be mindful of what your last meal was.

    Meals high in sodium will retain water and result in slightly higher numbers.


    Celebrity Diet Secrets: Marc Jacobs

    Marc Jacobs is often on the lips of the world’s leading fashionistas, thanks to his famous collections of men and women’s clothes and accesories.

    Recently, though, it’s his body that has been making headlines. If you haven’t seen for yourself, this is Marc last year, and this is him now.

    In a recent interview, the designer explained his transformation the following way:

    “I’m eating a totally organic diet, which has no flour, no sugar, no dairy, and no caffeine, and I lost weight because of that diet and because of a two and a half hour exercise regimen seven days a week.”

    Let’s decostruct and analyze.

    “I’m eating a totally organic diet…”

    As I have mentioned in the past, while organic food lacks pesticides, it has the same nutritional composition as conventional food. An organic banana does not have more vitamins or minerals than a non-organic one, and organic ice cream has the same amount of calories and added sugar as a conventional type.

    Eating organic in and of itself isn’t always healthy. These days, you can buy heavily processed foods (potato chips, cookies) that, despite being made with 100% organic ingredients, are basically empty calories.

    If we’re talking about weight loss exclusively, eating organically is not very relevant.

    “… which has no flour…”

    None!?!? Whenever someone swears the secret to weight loss is eliminating flour from the diet, I want to hit the roof.

    Even if someone chose to limit their intake of white flour, at least they would be consuming whole grain flours, which offer a variety of nutrients, have high fiber contents, and, in my opinions, are delicious (one of my favorite breakfast foods is a toasted whole grain English muffin topped with peanut butter).

    Yes, many foods made with flour are often highly caloric (i.e: cookies, cakes, pizza), but it is not the flour that’s the culprit. Cookies and cakes contain high amounts of butter and sugar, while the majority of calories in pizza can be attributed to cheese and toppings like sausage and pepperoni.

    It does not help that refined white flour offers almost no fiber (thereby not providing a feeling of satiety quickly), but let’s not forget that flour is one of the oldest ingredients in the world. People around the world have been eating it for thousands of years, long before type 2 diabetes became prevalent and body mass indexes soared.

    Granted, if Marc Jacobs previously ate 3 cups of pasta, 2 brownies, and 9 slices of bread a day, he was obviously getting too many calories from products made with flour, but there is absolutely no need to get rid of it in your diet.

    “… no sugar…”

    Why the absolute elimination? It is true that foods high in added sugar contribute many calories, and the average adult in the United States eats roughly three times the recommended daily amount (120 grams to the 40 stated in dietary guidelines).

    However, putting a packet of sugar in your coffee, enjoying an ice cream cone once a week, or occassionaly sharing a slice of pie with a friend after dinner is not going to make you obese.

    Labeling a single nutrient as “bad” is a common mistake many dieters make. A more realistic (and easier to maintain) goal is to lower the intake of added sugars and increase consumption of natural sources like fresh fruit.

    Again, I don’t know what Marc Jacobs’ diet used to be like. If ice cream sundaes were a daily staple, and his breakfast consisted of two donuts, there was obviously an overload of sugar and calories that needed to be modified.

    “… no dairy…”

    This is completely unrelated to Marc’s body makeover. Unless someone is lactose intolerant, there is no connection between shunning dairy and losing weight.

    Again, it’s important to think about the wide range of foods that fall into the “dairy” category. Putting eight slices of swiss cheese into a sandwich or downing half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after dinner every night is obviously a source of concentrated calories, but healthier options are not hard to find.

    For example, plain, unsweetened yogurt is a tremendously healthy food thanks to its gut-friendly (and immune-system boosting) bacteria.

    Even enjoying an iced latte with skim or low-fat milk on a hot summer day is a great beverage choice, thanks to its significant amounts of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.

    “… and no caffeine…”

    Many health food fanatics shun caffeine, and, frankly, I don’t understand why.

    Countless clinical research trials have concluded there is no link between caffeine consumption and a higher risk of any disease. Well, let me phrase that better — there is no evidence linking moderate caffeine consumption with a higher risk of any disease.

    Besides, if we’re talking about Marc Jacobs’ weight loss and improved fitness, caffeine is irrelevant.

    “… and two and a half hour exercise regimen seven days a week.”

    Bingo! Here is the most important factor behind Marc’s new look. Healthy eating helps, of course. But, someone working out two and a half hours a day, every day (which, to me, sounds excessive and bordering on overkill) is approximately burning an additional 1,200 calories a day!

    Add that to a reduced calorie diet (which doesn’t take much thought if you are removing entire food groups like Marc Jacobs) and, voila, there is your weight loss and added muscle tonification.

    So, at the end of the day, what we have is someone who is consuming less calories, eating less processed food, and performing a lot more physical activity than before. Smart? Yes! Groundbreaking? No.


    Speaking With…: Mary Dye

    With millions of young men and women starting college over the next few days, I decided to pick my friend Mary Dye’s brain for advice, suggestions, and a “Nutrition 101” crash course for the Class of 2011!

    Ms. Dye studied anthropology and art history at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL, but, upon realizing her passion for food and health, enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Public Health Nutrition Master’s program. There, she also completed coursework to become a Registered Dietitian.

    While completing her academic degree, Miss Dye was UNC Chapel Hill’s campus nutritionist.

    She then moved to New York City and was a member of Fern Gale Estrow’s Food and Nutrition Team, focusing on nutrition policy and advocacy.

    Miss Dye is currently a nutritionist at New York University’s Health Center, where she counsels a multitude of students on a variety of goals and concerns, including body image and eating disorders.

    Below, some very helpful information for anyone navigating through all-you-can eat cafeterias, regardless of your age.

    Small Bites: Many students starting college this fall are living in kitchen-less dorms. What are some good snacks you recommend they keep in their room to prevent from ordering in pizza every night at 2 AM?

    Mary Dye: The key to a great snack is to keep it around 300 cal or less and make sure it contains fiber, protein and some healthy fat. These components help you to feel satisfied, which can prevent further snacking throughout the night.

    In a kitchen-less dorm, healthy eating may be a challenge, but it’s easy to store items such fresh produce and canned fruits in light syrup (to avoid added sugars drain off the excess liquid and run fruit under water), nuts and nut butters and a variety of grains.

    I’m probably not supposed to advocate this, but I always advise students to grab at least one piece of fruit every time they leave the dining hall. These fruits can be incorporated into snacks throughout the day. Here are some healthy snack ideas:

    If you have a sweet tooth try:

    • Graham crackers with soy milk (if there is no refrigerator available, stock up on individual cartons that are shelf-stable)
    • No-sugar added applesauce mixed with peanut butter spread on whole grain crackers, such as Kashi’s TLC
    • Sweet snack bars such as Pure bar or Lara bar or granola bars such as Kashi
    • Bananas with almond butter and raisins
    • Dried fruit, sunflower seeds and nuts

    For a crunchy snack, turn to:

    • High fiber cereal (such as Cheerios, Kashi Heart to Heart or Barbara’s Bakery Organic Shredded Oats) mixed with almonds and unsweetened banana chips – you could even throw in a few chocolate chips
    • Sliced vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers or peppers dipped in salsa or hummus
    • Air popped pop-corn with chili powder or cinnamon
    • Apples or pears with sliced cheese (Cabot brand makes great 50% and 75% light cheddar varieties in small “snack packs”)
    • Melba toast or Wasa crackers with cashew butter

    For a savory snack, how about:

    • Whole wheat tortilla shell filled with canned beans and salsa
    • Mini bagel topped with canned tuna and sliced tomato or green pepper

    SB: All-you-can eat cafeterias can be found on every college camps. What eating strategies can students develop to resist from grabbing hamburgers, French fries, ice cream, and brownies every day?

    MD: First of all, eat throughout the day to avoid being overly hungry when you arrive at the dining hall. This means eating something roughly every 4 hrs beginning with breakfast. Between meals, snack on a small handful of nuts, yogurt or fresh fruit (taken from the dining hall, of course).

    Once you arrive at the dining hall, take a look at the menu before you go through the cafeteria line so you’re prepared to order a healthy meal. Many schools now post menus on their website and include nutrition information to help students make healthier choices.

    Do a quick walk-through of all the foods available and then proceed to grab your tray. Notice how many different sizes of plates, bowls and utensils are offered. Always opt for the smaller size. This will limit your portions while making you feel like you’re eating a full plate of food.

    Now, I do actually have a strategy for all you can eat dining. It goes like this: try to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables (like broccoli, tomato, asparagus, peppers, onions) and fruits. Fill one-quarter of the plate with lean protein (meat, beans, legumes, nuts, dairy) and the remaining one-quarter with grains or starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, corn).

    By doing this your meal will consist mostly of fruits & vegetables, which are low in fat and calories while high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Remember to be creative!

    Sometimes creating a healthy meal can be somewhat of a scavenger hunt, so be prepared to combine foods from different stations into a balanced meal. For example, if your school offers a grill station, have them prepare a grilled chicken breast or veggie burger, then carry that over to top your salad for some lean protein. Mix steamed vegetables from the hot bar into your pasta sauce for an added boost of fiber.

    As far as the junk food you mentioned, I prefer to refer to them as “treats,” as they can be a part of healthy diet, but should be limited. Allow yourself to enjoy the items mentioned at one to two meals per week. This way they are kept in moderation without making you feel deprived.

    SB: A lot of guys really get into working out and the gym in college. What would you say to one
    who asks you whether or not he should go to GNC and start loading up on creatine and protein shakes?

    MD: Oh, I have so many cases just like this one! Please stay out of GNC, there’s nothing nutritious about that place!

    The first thing I’d do is look at his diet and find out if he is getting enough protein, which more than likely, he is.

    When you consider that that protein needs are generally 0.8-1.0 g/kg of body weight, it’s not hard to see why most Americans consume too much protein, not too little. Once you realize that a 4 oz breast of chicken contains 35g of protein, one 8 oz glass of milk contains 9g, most people start to realize that they really can meet their protein needs by diet alone, making protein supplements unnecessary.

    Since the body cannot store excess protein, the unused portion is excreted in the urine once the excess calories have been absorbed. Digesting excess protein overworks the kidneys and when done for a long period of time, can lead to decreased kidney function.

    I find creatine in particular to be a huge waste of money. It retains water in the body, so muscles may appear larger, when in reality they’re just swollen with fluid. Creatine has not been shown to improve athletic performance and has no impact on actual muscle mass.

    Plus, it’s effects over the long term are not known and as a nutritionist, this makes me worry when so many students report using this supplement.

    Unfortunately, creatine and protein shakes are big money makers with a great marketing team. To stop people from spending their money on these products, everyone needs to understand that the only way to increase muscle mass is by consuming more total calories and spending more time weight training. It’s that simple.

    Extra protein will not lead to muscle growth. In fact, without proper exercise it will only lead to adipose tissue (fat) growth and, judging from the students I work with, that’s the last thing anyone wants.

    SB: In your experience, what are some common nutrition issues that tend to come up for college freshmen?

    MD: Freshman year is such an interesting and exciting time. For many students, going away to college is the first time in their lives that they have to make their own decisions regarding their diet. Not only are they choosing what they will eat, but when they will eat it, where it will come from and how much they will consume.

    In high school, many students live with family members who control their access to food and attend schools with set lunch times and menu offerings. They also have a set schedule between class, jobs, extra-curricular activities so high school days are often filled up.

    When students begin college, that schedule is turned upside down. There are often large breaks between classes or, sometimes, no break at all. All time management decisions are put on the student, which can result in over-eating from boredom and stress to undernourishment from not know what food choices to make and where to fit eating into the daily routine.

    Some of the most common issues I see are dehydration, stress and emotional eating, fatigue often due to lack of proper nourishment, skipping of meals, and extremely low fiber, fruit and vegetable intake and lack of physical activity.

    So many of these issues can be addressed by planning ahead. For all students, I suggest putting those back-packs to use and carrying a bottle of water (to be replenished throughout the day) and at least one snack at all times, such as a piece of fruit or a high fiber granola bar.

    Set small goals to drink the water, such as ‘by the end of my 10 AM class, I will have emptied this bottle’ and so on. To ensure that physical activity is not neglected when the demands of school go into full force, schedule workout into your week aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity four times per week.

    This can be as simple as extended walks around campus with new friends. Not only will it help to prevent the infamous freshman fifteen, it will also provide much needed opportunities to de-stress.

    For overeating due to stress and emotions, I suggest thinking of ways to deal with such feelings that do not involve eating. Perhaps writing e-mails to friends back home, practicing yoga, keeping a journal, exploring the campus or reading a new book – for pleasure, not for class!

    When eating, remember to listen to your body. Eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel full. Just because the dining hall is all you can eat, does not mean that you should eat more than you can comfortable handle.

    SB: Some students have never cooked before going to college. For those who have kitchens in their dorms, what would you suggest as quick meals or snacks they can make without having to turn on an oven or frying pan?

    MD: Use that microwave! Burritos are quite easy and cheap. I like to fill them with fresh vegetables, salsa, low-fat cheese, fat free sour cream or plain greek yogurt, beans or Morning Star farms “Grounds” (a great vegetarian soy-based beef substitute which is great in the microwave). The same ingredients can be used to make quesadillas in the microwave.

    Stock up on frozen vegetables and steam them in the microwave. Simply put them in a bowl with a small amount of water, cover with a paper towel, heat and voila! I think steamed broccoli spears are make for a very tasty snack.

    If you’re willing to boiling a pot of water, whole wheat pasta or Shirataki tofu noodles are highly nutritious.

    Serve either topped with bottled marinara sauce or make your own using canned stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried basil and oregano. Mix in some canned beans and perhaps some spinach and you’re in for treat. Serve with a salad for a great, high fiber meal.

    There are some great brown rice products that can be made in the microwave. Top them with beans or vegetarian chili, made as follows:

    1 can diced tomatoes with juice

    ½ c water

    ¼ c TVP (texturized vegetable protein)

    ½ can beans

    1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder (or more if you like it hot)

    ½ can corn.

    Microwave until heated through, about 4 minutes.

    Baked potatoes do very well in the microwave. Simply wash, poke several holes in them (this is the fun part) and cook. For small potatoes, about 4 min, for larger baking potatoes, about 7 min. Turn them mid-way through cooking. Split them open and top with chili (above), salsa, or 1 Tbsp olive oil and steamed vegetables.

    Super easy salsa: Mix 1 can of black beans, one can of corn, 1 diced green pepper, 1 diced tomato and ½ an onion, diced in a bowl. Dip in corn chips and enjoy!

    Tuna salad can be made using 1 can tuna (packed in water), ¼ c diced water chestnuts, ¼ c diced green pepper, 1 Tbsp diced onion, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp Nayonaisse (a mayo substitute available in most grocery stores). Serve on bread or crackers or roll into a leaf of romaine lettuce.

    Fruit parfait: fresh fruit slices (or you can use frozen fruits defrosted in the microwave) in plain yogurt flavored with 1 tsp all fruit preserves or honey. Mix in ¼ c of Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal and 1 tsp ground flax seed

    SB: Many college students are on limited budgets, which greatly affects their food shopping decisions. What advice can you share with someone who is strapped for cash but does not want to eat greasy Chinese takeout night after night?

    MD: Greasy take out can add up in dollars and on your waistline! I find it can be much more healthy and cost effective to prepare your own food.

    Anyone who is strapped for cash yet wants great fresh foods should shop at their local farmer’s market. Here you can find the highest quality, best tasting produce available for great prices – and your supporting local agriculture.

    One tip here is to shop at the end of the day, usually 5-6 pm, when farmers are preparing to leave. This is when you can get the absolute best deals.

    Eat fresh foods seasonally. If you want a strawberry in December, it’s going to cost you quite a bit – and it probably won’t taste that great. By waiting until strawberry season (May – August) you’ll be able to buy pints of delicious berries and a much lower cost.

    During winter months, turn to fruits like citrus and apples or rely on frozen items. If you have access to a freezer, stocking up on frozen produce can save you a bundle. These foods are picked at the peak of ripeness and immediately frozen, bringing a high quality product to your table at a low cost.

    Buy foods in their whole form. Yes, this will take some extra time and effort on your part, but the cost difference, and often the taste difference, is well worth it.

    For example, it is much cheaper to buy whole carrots and peel them yourself than to buy baby carrots. Likewise, a bag of dried beans is far more cost effective than canned and ready eat varieties. Just be sure that you can soak them overnight and boil them prior to eating.

    Buy in bulk. If you find yourself liking items such as granola bars and cereal, you can often stock up buy ordering them on-line straight from the manufacturer at about half the price.

    Get to know the neighborhood. One store may have great prices on cereal while the store across the street has low priced yogurt. And as an added bonus, you get a little physical activity by walking to both!

    Always make a list before going food shopping. Consult recipes and plan out your meals and snacks for the week so that you only have to shop once. Budget out the shopping list and estimate the total cost. Only carry a set amount of cash to the store so that you will stick to your list and not be tempted to buy other items. Just make sure you stick to that list and don’t forgo your planned items for that two for $5 ice cream special!

    If you are going to do take-out, combine restaurant meals with homemade items. For example, if you and a friend are really in the mood for Thai food, order one take-out entrée, split it and serve it with steamed vegetables or a salad. You’ll save money and calories.

    In fact, if you are really looking for a deal, many restaurants offer early-order specials, such as a list of entrees for half price when ordered before a certain time. Go ahead and order early to get the discount then store the food in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it later – along with more vegetables.

    A big thank you to Mary Dye for her time and exhaustive answers!

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