Respect the Gray Squirrel and be Healthier this Winter!


If you’re looking to stay healthier THIS WINTER, and wonder why your FLU SHOT DIDN’T WORK LAST WINTER, you might not want to look any further than the Eastern Gray Squirrel  for a role model!

Busy in fall gathering and building food caches for the winter months, humans who similarly scurry now for some sunlight now can in fact build sufficient stores to outlast a long, dark Minnesota winter!

For while much has been written about the significance of Vitamin D for good health, The New York Times recently stated that humans can store up A FULL YEAR’S SUPPLY  of Vitamin D with daily doses of just 5 to 10 minutes of direct sunlight during the summer months.  Summer’s gone now, that’s true, but it isn’t too late to roll up the sleeves and pant legs on sunnier fall days to build up your Vitamin D stores … especially if you’ve shunned the sun all summer long.

Exercise is, of course helpful in fighting off infections and preventing many diseases,  but your next best bet could be as simple as getting enough Vitamin D.   Especially in northern climates where exposure to the sun, our primary source of vitamin D, is limited during the Fall and Winter, increasing attention is now being given to vitamin D requirements. And vitamin D deficiencies.

In fact, some physicians contend that a major portion of winter ailments can be attributed to Vitamin D deficiencies, including heart disease, chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, hypertension, arthritis, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, PMS, CrohnsDisease, cancer, MS and other autoimmune diseases. Wow!

A Minneapolis client of ours has seen Vitamin D deficiencies in action 1st hand. Working through lower back pain for several months, she’d gone through physical therapy, chiropractic care, and had several MRIs and X Rays performed to help diagnose the source of her ailment. Nothing worked. Eventually, her physician suggested a diet loaded with Vitamin D, and her back pain went away!

The problem is, it’s really, really hard to compensate for the lack of sun.

Your body manufactures about 20,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D with just 20 minutes of sun.  To get that much vitamin D in your diet would require something like 40 glasses of milk per day! (3300 calories, even if it’s skim milk). The good news is that Vitamin D is fat soluble, so your body is capable of storing D in your body fat. You won’t need to consume the entire amount that you would otherwise manufacture, but if you can’t get some sunshine, some dietary intake becomes critical.

In fact, to be keep your levels of Vitamin D sufficient,  an occasional trip to a tanning bed is probably the surest route!  This, of course, carries the added risk of developing skin cancer, so many of us avoid those.

As a Result, Natural Foods, become your next best source of vitamin D, and here are some high quality choices:

Salmon, canned (3 ounces) 530 IU
Salmon, cooked (3.5 ounces) 240–360 IU
Tuna, canned (3 ounces) 200 IU
Soy milk, fortified (8 ounces) 100 IU
Orange juice, fortified (8 ounces) 100 IU
Milk, low-fat, fortified (8 ounces) 98 IU
Cereal, fortified (1 cup) 40–50 IU
Eggs (1 large) 20–26 IU
Swiss cheese (1 ounce) 12 IU

The problem is, even a diet with only these foods you could still be deficient in D!   So we’re not done yet. How much, exactly, you need daily is still under debate, but a daily intake of up to 2,000 IU is currently considered a safe upper limit. The medical community agrees that up to this much won’t create other problems, even if they can’t agree on what the required minimum should be.

So, even with a naturally rich vitamin D diet, some supplementation is recommended. The best way to take vitamin D supplements is with Calcium. The two nutrients work together to build strong bones and teeth.

Furthermore, it’s been shown that taking vitamin D with Calcium can actually reduce your fatty food cravings and help you lose weight!

So, with the Sun getting further and further away for the next 3 months, be sure to Squirrel away some natural sun D when possible this fall!

And the next time you wonder if the little grey guy is actually going to make it to the curb in time, remember … some sun now could keep you healthier this winter!

Looking for even more useful nutrition tips? Ask me about our new Nutrition Together program!

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Conquering Complex Carbohydrates – Part 2 of Carbohydrates for Dummy’s


 Part 2 of a 3 part series on conquering carbohydrates, today, we focus on Complex Carbohydrates: where they’ve fit into diets and dietary conversations.

Last week, we covered Carbohydrate conversational history, and Simple Carbohydrates: Saccharides / Sugar.

Disaccharides

Chaining two saccharides together creates a slightly more complex type of carbohydrate called a DIsaccharide.   Three of the most common disaccharides are Sucrose, Maltose, and Lactose, all formed with a different combination of monosaccharides:

Disaccharide

Monosaccharide + Monosaccharide

Sucrose =

Glucose + Fructose

Maltose =

Glucose + Glucose

Lactose =

Glucose + Galactose

Sucrose naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables and is highly concentrated in cane sugar and sugar beets.    

It is also common table sugar.

NOTE: Some canned fruit and vegetable products will also ADD refined sugar (like high fructose corn syrup and common table sugar) to the processed food, to sweeten the flavor.  You need to be careful of the extra sugar and extra calories.

I also learned this week, courtesy of Breakfast Club Guest Speaker Steve Zeller of Waconia’s Parley Lake Winery that Winemakers sometimes add sucrose to highly acidic wines to improve palitability. 

Polysaccarides

Stringing 3 saccharides together creates, you guessed it, a trisaccharide, while 4 or more saccharides builds a polysaccharide.

And this is where things get really interesting … and controversial. 

Three of the most common polysaccharide carbohydrates are Starch, Glycogen, and Cellulose.

Starch is insoluble in water and must be digested by animals.  It is a glucose reserve for plants (excess plant glucose is converted to starch).  Rice, wheat, and corn are common sources of starch in the human diet.

Glycogen is a reserved form of glucose for animals (not too unlike how starch is a glucose reserve for plants).   It is manufactured by the liver and is stored in the liver and muscle tissues.  It must be converted back to glucose to be used as an energy source.

Cellulose is produced by and forms the primary structure of plants. While technically a polysaccharide carbohydrate like Starch and Glycogen, the cellulose molecular structure makes it indigestible by mammals.  It is therefore considered fiber, and not really an energy source.

Complex vs. Simple Carbs

If you’re observing the carbohydrate reduction battles, these complex carbohydrates are exactly the carbs that tend to be under the most scrutiny.

The easiest way to separate Simple Carbohydrates from Complex carbohydrates is to identify Starch.  Complex Carbohydrates will almost universally contain Starch.

Fruits and Vegetables do not; they consist primarily of water, cellulose (fiber), and fructose.

Complex carbohydrates are then primarily carbohydrates with a starch element.  These include most of the grains (wheat, oats, barley, rice, and corn), some roots (potatoes, yams, turnips), and some legumes (beans).   Most also have significant cellulose content making them high in fiber.

Low and No Carb Diets

While extremely low carb diets like Atkins eliminates nearly all carbohydrates, mono and disaccarides included, some diets, like South Beach allow for most monosaccarhide and disaccaride carbs, but banish the more complex ploysaccarides.

The big difference in these two approaches is that the carbohydrate threshold below which an Atkins style diet places your body in what’s called a state of ketosis whereby glycogen stores are depleted, requiring that energy comes entirely from the metabolism of fatty acids.

Most of the medical community considers this a highly risky and potentially life-threatening taxation on the liver.

Ketosis risks notwithstanding, another at least as significant problem with many low/no carb diets is micronutrient deprivation.  Despite the phenomenal products from many supplement providers, matching natural food vitamin and mineral content is extremely difficult.  Missing out on all of these in the absense of a saccharide smart diet is simply not a healthy, long term way to provide nutrients to your body.

Net Cabohydrates

Net Carbohydrates are an interesting new term in the diet world whereby the diet du jour architects and food manufacturers have decided that the carbohydrate content defined by the USDA isn’t meaningful for the fibrous component in a food product.

So, what they’ve done is created a new value: Net Carbs, defined as the total carbs in a product less the fibrous content.

In no small way, this is merely a ruse to position products in a more favorable light to carb conscious dieter.  

While the Net Carb idea is somewhat honorably used to identify the energy sources relevant to body fat storage (or elimination), disregarding the fibrous (often cellulose) component in this way sidesteps several other metabolic and digestive considerations.

For one, high fiber carbohydrate products digest more slowly, and in some cases much more slowly than a low fiber food.  This results in a slower, and more steadily produced stream of glucose in the blood stream … something highly significant to 25+ million Americans with diabetes.

Second, high fiber diets are healthy!  They reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease, have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, and help with weight control programs by providing ‘filler’ the body often identifies as food to reduce appetite. 

As a result, the Net Carbs numbers tend to do more clouding than clarifying.

In the end, your time would probably be better spent simply looking at and monitoring the sugar and fat content of a food than bothering with the net carb calculation.

In fact, as an isolated factor, you might actually choose a less healthy product on it’s net carb merits!

For instance, a serving size of McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal has 27 grams of carbohydrate.  Of that, 3 g are dietary fiber, while 2 g are Insoluble fiber.  Hence, the net grams of the product are:
27 – 3 – 2 = 22g.

On the flip side, a serving of General Mill’s Cocoa Puff’s has 23 total grams of carbohydrate.  Of that, 1 g. is dietary fiber for total net carbs of 22g as well.

Equivalent products then?  Not even close.  The oatmeal has than 1 g. of sugar while the Cocoa Puffs have a whopping 13 g of sugar!  Further, the serving of oatmeal includes 4 g of protein while the serving of cocoa puffs has just a meager 1 g of protein.

What’s more, the 5 g of dietary fiber in the oatmeal will give it a much lower glycemic index (tune in next week) than that low fiber General Mill’s product, something that will effect hormones in a far more influential way.

Though … from a net carb perspective … the products look equal.   

Unfortunately, a desperate public blindly following the net carb lemmings may make poor, and uninformed decisions.  Don’t let that be you!

Next Week: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load; Refined Grains; what to do? 

Like last week, leave me a comment and we’ll spot you a free water bottle!

Carbohydrates for Dummy’s – Part 1


A client recently asked me if I supported low carbohydrate diets.

 I responded with an absolute maybe.

It depends, I told her … are you interested in reducing all carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, refined grain products, sugars, and/or starch?”  

I got “the gaze,” scheduled her for a Nutrition Together session, and decided it was time to write it all down.

Here then, is Part One of a Three Part series on Carbohydrates …

… compete with two polls … please vote!  And, as always, if you comment on my posting, you’ll be entered into a contest to win free personal training!

We’re going to get a bit technical here in the 1st week.  You don’t really need to know the chemistry (I’ll give my layman’s recommendations in week 3), but following along will definitely improve your awareness of marketing hype and improve your diet!

Question # 1 for you:

A (very) Brief History of the Carbohydrate Conversation

If you thought that Low Carbohydrate (Carb) diets were a consequence of modern dietary remediation, you’d be right.  And you’d also be quite wrong.   

In fact, many anthropologists believe that the early hunter-gatherer humans of thousands of years ago consumed a diet largely consisting of proteins and fats with relatively low carbohydrate content.   Of course, they suffered from very low life expectancies, widespread disease, and chronic illnesses, so it’s probably best not to give too much credit to that <ahem> tribe’s eating habits.   They were also generally more active than our current society. 

More recently, physicians sporadically treated diabetic patients with medications and low carb diets as early as the 1700s … more than 3 centuries ago. 

And if that’s not all, the Glycemic index, an indication of how quickly carbohydrates metabolize, was actually introduced by Dr. David Jenkins around 1981 more than 30 years ago!

But the “low carb craze” as we now know it really started in the 1990s when Dr. Robert Atkins introduced his diet and philosophy on fat.

By that time, of course, highly refined grains had permeated much of the American diet, and, according to the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, they still do.

Considering the position we held on the Obesity Curve in the 1990s, carbohydrates became an easy target for a problem that seems to be getting <ahem> bigger. 

Dozens of Medical Research Communities have studied low carb diets over time, developing both staunch supporters of and staunch opponents to the concept.

In short, it’s a complex topic.  While much there is much consensus around protein and fat intake requirements for varying levels of human activity, the camps on carbohydrates are very much divided. 

 

Further complicating the picture is that we have a very diverse range of activities to consider.  Athletes, weekend warriors, and fitness freaks all need different nutrition than the average consumer.  And the average consumer is different in activity behaviors than highly sedentary folks in the community.
In the end, no diet is right for everyone, and, over the next few weeks, I’ll show you why!
What’s more, carbohydrates cover an extremely diverse category of foods.
 Everything from vegetables to vermicelli is under the carb cover.
Simple table sugar is a carbohydrate just as a bowl of oat meal is.  So to, are cookies, pie crusts, and brussel sprouts.
Everything from simple fruits to complex, highly refined grain food products has been thrown under the carbohydrates-are-bad bus, and that’s just wrong.

Organically Speaking …

Carbohydrates, as the name suggests, are a long chained carbon molecule (carbo -) with oxygen and hydrogen (hydrates).  The ratios of hydrogen and oxygen are about 2:1 (H2O), though the molecule itself has very little in common with water.
Proteins and Fats are also long chained carbon molecules, but with much different ratios of hydrogen and oxygen.   (See the skinny on fats and protein primer).  
The simplest of all carbohydrates is a single unit of a saccharide,  or sugar.  It is called a monosaccharide (C6H12O6).    How the molecule is structured, however, determines what type of a sugar it is, even though it has the same molecular formula (C6H12O6).

Three commonly recognized monosaccharides are Glucose, Galactose, and Fructose.   Glucose, of course, is human blood sugar, an immediately ready source of energy for cellular respiration – the product of which is ATP, our primary energy source.

 

Galactose is the sugar commonly found in dairy product (and is responsible for ‘lactose intolerance’), while Fructose is the sugar found in honey and fruits.    

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a fructose manufactured as an sweetening ingredient from corn starch,  and is a highly controversial processed food ingredient.

 

In fact, if you believe Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivor’s Dilemma, Corn and High Fructose Corn syrup play a major part in the American Obesity Epidemic.
Enough for now.  Next week – the Glycemic Index, and Simple vs. Complex Carbs. 
But before that, please tell me …

Eight Simple Summer Fitness Tips


With the temperatures hovering above 90, vacations planned, schools on holiday, and the in-laws inbound it’s easy to get distracted from your fundamental fitness regimen.

We all struggle with consistency from time to time, and summer is a classic example.

Rather than fight the friction, here are a few easy ways to adjust your life and lifestyle to go with the flow when it seems like your exercise program is falling apart.  Here are my Eight Simple Summer Fitness Tips …

1. Lift Weights two to four times per week no matter what. As described in detail in previous blog entries, and is well documented elsewhere,  increased lean body mass increases your metabolism which significantly increases your calorie burn. Load bearing exercise also helps prevent osteoporosis … a threat to both men and women.

2. Just Move More. Use the spread office suggestions from my January blog. Cut your own grass. Walk your own dog. Walk down the hallway to check with a colleague instead of phoning her. Park in remote areas of every parking lot you park in. Use the stairs. All of these simple, additional body movements add up quickly in the long run.

3. Ride your bike to work at least once weekly. Check our May blog to begin your new commuting life style. You’ll look better, feel better, be healthier, and reduce your carbon footprint all at once!

4. Eat Clean. The American Journal of Medicine reports that Americans eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily has gone from 42% in 1988 to 26% in 2006.   One thing is for sure: if you don’t buy them, you won’t eat them, so be sure to spend at least 25% of your total grocery shopping experience in the produce section!

5. Eat Smart. Smaller meals digest better than larger ones. And they help keep your stomach smaller. Don’t eat big meals before bed time. Do eat breakfast every day. Don’t get crazy on the carbohydrates, and limit or eliminate highly saturated fat content foods from your diet.  Need even more help?  Ask me about our Nutrition Together program.

6. Get enough rest each day. Proper rest assists with recovery from exercise. It also affects your job performance, and is critical to regulating insulin. Researchers have also found that proper rest can reduce your risk of developing cancer.

7. Stretch Daily. Certainly, you can do yoga to improve your flexibility, but a simple home stretching regimen is plenty sufficient for most people. More important than anything else is that you build a mere 10 to 15 minutes of stretching into your day. Here, as well, are a few ways to time-slice stretching into your day.

8. Hydrate. Develop the habit of carrying a water bottle with you where ever you go. Drinking plenty of water helps you digest food better, increases muscle and joint flexibility, and helps keep your breath fresh!

And  here’s a bonus tip …

9. Make incremental adjustments. Changing habits takes time, effort, and determination. Rather than attempting to tackle all 8 of these tips tomorrow, pick and seriously focus on just one for each of the next 8 weeks.

Got a tip or some feedback for us!?  

Leave a comment and be automatically entered for a free week of personal training! 

Ready to Sweat!? Small Group Training is coming to Fitness Together Minneapolis!


Same great managed training & nutrition programming in groups of 2 to 4.

Bring your A game though, because it gets a little competitive!

Current clients will be offered a taste early this fall!

Get Fit Discount with MN State Shutdown


Get_Fit_MN with our Government Shutdown Discount!

We’re now 10+ days of the Minnesota State Government shutdown and I am outraged that my elected representatives have been unable to get one of their primary roles completed in enough time to avoid completely shutting down the government.   Wow.  And WTF!

You, however, can Get Fit and cash in big with our Day X Government Shutdown Discount Program … running up through and until day 20.

Get X% off of any training package on Government Shutdown Day X.  The only caveat is that it’s over when it’s over, and it’s for new clients only.   So, you can hold the dice and hope for day 19 or 20,  but when your favorite 134 elected officials finally figure it out, and there will be no discounts!

But, here is your chance to get fit while your state congress gets fat!

Maybe they shouldn’t have been debating how we’re going to spend money we don’t have on a football team that doesn’t have an operating league.

Or maybe they shouldn’t have been discussing marriage or gay marriage or same sex marriage constitutional amendments.

Hey, I’m just sayin’….

Maybe, just maybe they should have been tackling the budget!!

Although, as we all know, it isn’t completely shut down, or I wouldn’t be able to send in my payroll taxes, or property taxes, or income taxes (which, in recent years, has been small enough that even the legislators could count it).

GetFitnessTogether.com

Men’s Summer Fashion Tips from a Pro


Last we talked about Women’s summer fashion.    As promised then, this week I caught up with Image Consultant Linda Froiland to chat about men’s summer fashion this week.

Randy: What do guys need to keep in mind when shopping?

Linda:  “Shirts are the work horse of your wardrobe so make sure you buy quality or you will be replacing it sooner than later. Fit is important,  of course, but when purchasing a dress shirt for a man, the first thing to remember is purchase the best you can afford.  You want the cuffs to come to just above the top of your thumb.  All the buttons need to line up and not gap.  The collar at the neck needs to be comfortable without gaping.  Look at the quality of the stitching.  Is it even and straight?  Here is another trick of the trade:  if you have long arms showing more of the cuff below your jacket sleeve it helps create the illusion of shorter arms. If you have short arms, show very little of the cuff; it helps create an illusion of a longer arm.”

Randy: OK, and white was a favorite for the women last week, what about for men?

Linda: “Well, there’s tons of information out there about the classic white shirt , so I am going to keep it very simple:  there is nothing better than a crisp white shirt in the summer.  Make sure the shirt’s fit is impeccable, that the shoulders are where your shoudlers are, that buttons don’t gap, that stitching it straight and evenly spaced.”

Randy: And how do you keep it crisp and white?

Linda: :If you get a stain on a white shirt, there are several things you can do to help remove them. Make a paste of your detergent and add a bit of bleach or 1/4 cup baking soda to the paste.  If the stain is grass, red wine or something a little more difficult to remove, consider buying a Carbona’s spot removers bottle – each bottle has a specific stain labeled on it.  I’ve had pretty good luck with them.”

If your shirt has gotten dingy use Rit Dye, Whitener and Brightener or White Wash to restore your shirt to it’s original white.

Randy:  I know it’s summer, but please tell me about slacks.

Linda: Once it mattered whether your pants had pleats or not, and whether you had cuffs on the bottom of your pants. Fashion I am sure had something to do with it. Now however, you’re on your own in discovering what it is that you want to do about either one.   But here’s a little advise to help you with that decision. Pleats are usually used when there is a tummy. It helps to fit the pants and for movement in them while wearing them. Flat front is definitely the more preferred look.   I suggest you take a second person with you such as a trusted friend or an image consultant. With cuffs they definitely add interest to the pants, but they also create a shorter leg. Again see what looks best on you.”

If you’d like to get more information from or about Linda, check out her website@ http://www.lindasfroiland.com/

If you have a comment on this posting, good or bad, please leave it here and you’ll be automatically entered for our weekly drawing for …

A Free Personal Training Session!