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Study: Regular soda causes body to store more fat after high-protein meals →

It's not a high protein food, but this research is why I didn't have a Mexican Coke with my pizza last night.

Combining a sugary soda with your burger or fried chicken can really prime your body to pack on more pounds, a new study suggests.

Folks who had a sweetened drink with a high-protein meal stored more unused fat, compared to others who ate the same food with a sugar-free beverage, laboratory tests revealed.

Their bodies did not burn about a third of the additional calories provided by the sugary drink, researchers found.

The participants also burned less fat from their food, and it took less energy overall to digest the meal.

"If we are adding extra carbohydrates on top of what's already in a meal, that will definitely have an effect on the body being able to use fat as an energy source, and it will more than likely go into energy storage," said lead researcher Shanon Casperson. She's a research biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

​The study was performed by putting participants into a sealed room and precisely measuring how their bodies did (or didn't) burn the nutrients in their meals.

Each day, the participants had a sugary cherry-flavored drink with one meal and a sugar-free cherry drink with the other meal, Casperson said.

The sugar-sweetened drink decreased fat oxidation -- the process that kick-starts the breakdown of fat molecules -- by 8 percent, the researchers discovered.

Also, the sweetened drink consumed with a 15 percent protein meal decreased fat oxidation by an average 7.2 grams, while the same sugary drink with a 30 percent protein meal decreased fat oxidation by 12.6 grams.

If you ​decrease fat oxidation by that much per meal, over enough meals, you'll definitely start to pack on the pounds. This is disappointing news, because I really love to have a soda with my fried chicken, brats, burgers, and other delicious high protein meals.

This entry was tagged. Food Research Weight

Walking to Better Health

You may have heard that you should walk at least 10,000 steps per day, for your health. How good is that advice? The software developers at cardiogram have developed an app that tracks your heart rate, using your Apple Watch. They decided to combine the data from the Apple Watch's heart beat sensor with the data from the iPhone's step counter, to see how walking distance affects your resting heart rate.

I'm not sure how scientifically rigorous these results are, but they did come up with some interesting correlations.

Graph of step count versus heart rate

In cardiovascular terms, the drop in heart rate from 1000 steps/day to 2000 steps/day is significant: a full 3 bpm decrease. And as step count increases, resting heart rate steadily drops—until you reach about 5000 steps per day. After that—6000, 7000, even up to 10,000 steps—the curve flattens.

Graph of exercise intensity versus heart rate

Even if you get 10,000 steps per day, if your heart rate doesn’t go over 130 bpm, there’s not much impact on your resting heart rate. In contrast, even 4000 steps / day of high intensity exercise delivers a benefit: about a 4 bpm absolute drop in resting bpm, which doubles to 8 bpm at 10,000 steps / day.

Graph of minutes of high intensity exercise versus heart rate

Even 45 minutes per week of high intensity activity (heart rate >= 150bpm) placed participants in the lowest tier of resting heart rate.

I like this kind of analysis because it's actionable. I've been making some, small, effort to walk each day. I have a goal of 5,000 steps per day. But I've been skeptical of whether or not it actually matters, if it's just a few steps here and there. According to these numbers, it doesn't. I'm just fooling myself.

I can use these numbers to make a new goal. I want to start taking high-intensity walks 2-3 times a week. I've already been monitoring my heart rate. It stays around 90 beats per minute, most days. My initial goal is to lower that to 80 bpm. If that happens, I'll set a new goal.

Stay Cold to Lose Weight? →

My wife thinks I keep the temperature too cold as it is. I don't think she'd be a fan of this line of research.

The mild cold exposure he advocates might be as simple as forgoing a jacket when you’re waffling over whether you need one, not layering cardigans over flannels despite the insistence of the fall catalogs, or turning off the space heater under your desk. And if you don’t want to annihilate the environment by running the air conditioner to get a taste of sweet, calorie-burning, metabolism-enhancing cold in the summer, there are devices like the ice vest, which really isn’t as terrible as it sounds.

“The first time you put it on, it’s a bit shocking, to be honest,” Wayne Hayes, the vest’s inventor, warned me. “You feel like, Holy shit, this is cold.” But after wearing it a few times, he said, most people barely notice they have it on. That was my experience. (Hayes’s wife has become so used to the vest that she wears it under her clothes instead of over them.) Hayes recommends wearing the vest twice a day until the ice melts—which can take an hour or longer—though he has himself worn it as many as three or four times in a single day.

Starvation hormone markedly extends mouse life span, without need for calorie restriction →

A study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers finds that a starvation hormone markedly extends life span in mice without the need for calorie restriction.

"Restricting food intake has been shown to extend lifespan in several different kinds of animals. In our study, we found transgenic mice that produced more of the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) got the benefits of dieting without having to limit their food intake. Male mice that overproduced the hormone had about a 30 percent increase in average life span and female mice had about a 40 percent increase in average life span," said senior author Dr. Steven Kliewer, professor of molecular biology and pharmacology.

... FGF21 seems to provide its health benefits by increasing insulin sensitivity and blocking the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway. When too abundant, growth hormone can contribute to insulin resistance, cancer, and other diseases, the researchers said.

FGF21 is a hormone secreted by the liver during fasting that helps the body adapt to starvation. It is one of three growth factors that are considered atypical because they behave like hormones, which are substances created by one part of the body that have effects in other parts, the researchers said.

"Prolonged overproduction of the hormone FGF21 causes mice to live extraordinary long lives without requiring a decrease in food intake. It mimics the health benefits of dieting without having to diet," said co-author Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at UT Southwestern.

There was a slight downside though.

FGF21 overproducers tended to be smaller than wild-type mice and the female mice were infertile. While FGF21 overproducers had significantly lower bone density than wild-type mice, the FGF21-abundant mice exhibited no ill effects from the reduced bone density and remained active into old age without any broken bones, the researchers said.

Here's hoping that this offers some insights for how to manage weight in humans. I'm happy to hear about skinny mice, but I'd be happier to have hope for making it easy for me to stay (become) skinny.

This entry was tagged. Food Weight