Carbs are an addiction.

Serotonin release in the brain controls functions such as sleep onset, pain sensitivity, blood pressure regulation, and control of mood.  Serotonin-releasing neurons are unique in that the amount of neurotransmitter they release is normally controlled by food intake: Carbohydrate consumption–acting via insulin secretion and the “plasma tryptophan ratio”–increases serotonin release dramatically (by enhancing the brain uptake of its precursor, tryptophan).  Elevated serotonin causes significant mood enhancement and a generalized sense of contentedness.  Patients learn to overeat carbohydrates (particularly snack foods and drinks, like soda, potato chips or pastries, which are rich in carbohydrates) to make themselves feel better.

Self-medication with carbohydrate rich foods as though they were drugs is a frequent cause of weight gain, and is often seen:

  • In patients who become fat when exposed to stress
  • In women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • In patients with “winter depression” (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
  • In patient’s who are experiencing chronic pain (ingestion analgesia)
  • In people who are attempting to give up smoking. (Nicotine increases brain serotonin secretion; nicotine withdrawal has the opposite effect causing cravings.)
  • As a consequence of chronic patterned carbohydrate consumption causing hardwired changes in neurons, such that there are cravings and feelings of withdrawal when carbohydrates are withheld

Carbohydrate load is so closely linked to addiction, that the Glycemic Index (GI) of specific carbohydrates correlates closely with their relative addictive strength  and activates addiction neural pathways.

The take home message, carbohydrates are an addiction.  Carbohydrate consumption promotes neurochemical changes, which reinforce additional carbohydrate consumption.  There is now evidence that carbohydrate binging is akin to heroin addiction, with the cravings for carbohydrates reduced by opiates and more interestingly, carbohydrate cravings dramatically increased during opiate withdrawal.  Unfortunately, carbohydrate addiction will definitely make you fat.

The addictive power of carbohydrates.

Your brain and obesity.

Obese people have, on average, eight percent less brain tissue than people of normal weight, according to a new study published in the journal Human Brain Mapping.  Even overweight people have four percent less brain tissue than their normal-weight peers.   Obesity is independently associated with poor educational attainment and may be responsible for the cognitive deficiency manifested in lower intelligence test scores (IQ).  Excessive body weight gain has a shrinking and aging effect on the brain with a reduction in measureable IQ, in addition to the previously recognized increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.  The terminology of obesity and ever weight is defined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the Body Mass Index (BMI).  Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30, and overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.

 

 

The new study showed that age, gender, and race don’t matter. MRI brain scans of obese people revealed that their brains are smaller (atrophy) and appeared to be 16 years older than brains of lean people. The brains of overweight people appeared to be 8 years older. The presence of brain shrinkage is associated with dementia and depletes cognitive reserves in later years, which puts you at greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain.

Atrophy or shrinkage of brain tissue associated with obesity and Alzheimer's

 

The primary areas of the brain affected include the frontal and temporal lobes, which are responsible for planning and memory.

 

The mechanisms which links obesity to gray matter atrophy (brain shrinkage) include:

  • Reduced blood flow to brain due to blood vessel shrinkage
  • Reduced perfusion due to hypertension and loss of vessel elasticity
  • Toxic xenoestrogens released from excessive adipose tissue
  • Insulin resistance with chronically elevated blood glucose, leading to glycation, inflammation, and protein degradation
  • Expansion of the penumbra zones (enlargement of the stroke zone), possibly even with micro strokes or silent strokes.

 

 

This lack of blood flow to the brain causes cell and tissue death resulting in brain shrinkage. Interestingly, the research also showed that regular, vigorous exercise has the reverse effect. Physical activity can actually conserve brain tissue, which further supports the idea that blood flow is at least partly responsible for the maintenance or shrinkage of our brains. Of course, exercise also helps greatly in preventing obesity and its related conditions and risks.

 

According to the World Health Organization, a poor dietary habit with reliance on convenience and processed foods significantly contributes to obesity.  The lack of portion size control is a particular problem in the United States, where “Super Sizing” every restaurant meal has contributed to our expanding waistlines.  Additionally, food engineering and tremendous food diversity titillates our taste buds into over consumption.

 

These new study results highlight the importance of exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods and limiting your portion sizes. Not only will these healthy habits go a long way towards maintaining your weight and reducing the risks associated with obesity, they can help you maintain a healthy brain – which will end up affecting much more than how you look.

Brain shrinkage and reduced IQ is associated with obesity. It may be reversible with appropriate diet and nutrition.

How does food become energy?

Optimizing fat burning while simultaneously building muscle should be the goal of any effective exercise program, the critical linkage between exercise and the food we eat is ATP.  This article describes the importance of understanding what ATP is, and how different foods are converted to ATP, and when different fuels (protein, carbohydrate, or fat) are used for energy.   Understanding these concepts provides the blueprint for the LiveHealthProtocol.com diet and exercise guidelines.

I frequently talk to patients about the foods they eat, and how it impacts their health.  I think its very important to understand that converting food to usable energy is far more than simply chewing big pieces of food, which are digested into small pieces, and used directly by the cells.   Your body does not directly take the food particles it consumes and transfers them to your cells for metabolism.  It converts these particles to fundamental substrates, which are then converted to ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the actual fuel for your cells.

 

(Other substrates are used for structural growth and for cofactors, as well as immune recognition purposes; but the apple you eat does not become a little apple that your cells consume, it instead converts to sugars, proteins, and fats which are metabolized to ATP, which power your cells.)

The universal currency for life is ATP, the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things.  ATP functions like a tiny battery debit card, an ATP molecule consists of adenosine and three negatively charged inorganic phosphate groups when it is fully charged and ADP (adenosine diphosphate) when it has released its energy and has only two phosphates.

 

 

Recharging ADP to ATP requires fuel substrates, which is the converted food that you eat, whether it be protein, carbohydrate, or fat.  The exact recharging is coupled to the molecular destruction of Carbon bonds, similar to gasoline combustion in your car.

The recharging of ADP to ATP is what couples the food you consume to usable energy, the discharging of ATP to ADP transfers energy to usable cellular function for either chemical or mechanical reactions.  Available ATP (and Phospho Creatine- a related Phosphate storage bank in muscle) is depleted within 15 seconds of vigorous exercise.

 

 

 

Substrate to ATP

There are three significant fuel sources or substrates of energy to reform ATP from ADP.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are metabolized to glucose, which quickly regenerates ADP to ATP through a process called glycolysis.  Consumed carbohydrates are directly available as glucose, or excessive consumed carbohydrates are stored in muscle and liver as glycogen for later reconversion to glucose. (Excessive carbohydrates in the presence of insulin are also converted to fat in fat cells.) Use of carbohydrates for energy does not require large amounts of oxygen and can occur even during anaerobic conditioning.  Production of lactate and lactic acid occur with use of carbohydrates for fuel.  Available carbohydrates provide energy to recharge ATP for the first 45-60 seconds of high intensity therapeutic exercise.

Fat

Fat is a slow energy release form, typically stored in fat cells.  Lipolysis is the term used to describe the breakdown of fat (triglycerides) into the more basic units of glycerol and free fatty acids, which then undergo beta-oxidation. Combustion of fatty acid molecules produces significantly more ATP, compared to glucose molecules. However, because fatty acids consist of more carbon atoms than glucose, they require more oxygen for their combustion.  Fatty acids are oxidized by most of the tissues in the body; except, the brain, red blood cells, and the adrenal medulla.  It is a huge storage reservoir, but is too slowly released for immediate energy utilization.  Lipolysis provides energy after the first 60 seconds of exercise, but only effectively in the presence of large amounts of oxygen.

Protein

Protein can also be used as an energy source, but it must first be broken down to amino acids before being converted to glucose.  Protein is thought to make only a small contribution (< 5%) to energy production, but up to 18% of total energy requirements during long strenuous activity, sometimes characterized as rhabdomyolysis.

Can just a few pounds make a huge difference?

The Physicians’ Health Study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, MA) reveals that as little as seven extra pounds combined with little or no exercise can significantly increase your risk of heart failure and sudden cardiac arrest.

  • Regardless of the level of activity, higher body mass index equates to higher heart failure risk.
  • Even modestly overweight men had increased heart risk—a risk that increased with excess pounds.
  • Every 7 pounds of excess weight equated to a 11% increased heart risk in the 20 year study—1 kg/m2 increase in BMI, men over 5’10” tall in a multivariate analysis.
  • Overweight study participants had a 49% heart failure increase.
  • Obese study participants had a 180% heart failure increase.
  • 18% reduction in heart failure risk in active men—with one to three times per month of physical activity.
  • 36% reduction in heart failure in higher activity men—those with five to seven times per week of physical activity.

A higher BMI increased heart failure risk in both active and inactive men, the “beneficial effect of vigorous physical activity in reducing the risk of heart failure was observed in lean, overweight and also obese men.”  The American Heart Association says: Healthy adults ages 18-65 should get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days per week.

  • Couch potatoes—physically inactive people—are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
  • Two-thirds of Americans have excess body weight—and about only 30% exercise regularly.
  • 660,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
  • 80% of men and 75% of women aged 65 and older diagnosed with heart failure die within eight years.
  • Too much belly fat ups risk for other health problems: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Women with excess body fat are at higher risk of heart disease — even if they don’t have other risk factors.

Even just walking 30 minutes a day can . . .

  • Reduce coronary heart disease risk
  • Reduce the risk on non-insulin dependant [Type 2] diabetes
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and reduce your risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well-being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer

Even a minimum duration of 10 min, high intensity exercise at an anaerobic or lactate threshold production level increases circulating  Growth Hormone in adults.  Increasing Growth Hormone results in enhanced production of Thyroid Hormone and Testosterone, with improved vessel elasticity.  The risk of death was reduced by 50% with an improved exercise capacity attained of just  30 minutes per session, 5-6 days per week.   And even if  30 minutes was too much , splitting the routine into 10-15 minute segments (morning/evening) gives the same benefit.

Even reducing your weight just a few pounds or exercising even ten minutes a day can have a huge impact.  For more information regarding high intensity exercise check out the article on “Exercise as if your life depended upon it!

For information on how to lose weight, guaranteed, got to mdHCG.com.

The BMI controversy?

As your Body Mass Index [BMI] increases, so does your risk of death.  But is BMI the best tool to determine your health status?

Calculated from your weight and height, BMI provides a general gauge of body fatness.   BMI is a correlation between an individual’s height and weight, but it does not distinguish between fat weight and muscle weight.

Figure your Body Mass Index using either your bioempedence scale, your body fat calipers or the following simple formula:

BMI=Weight in pounds x 703, divided by height in inches x height in inches

 

Or

BMI=[Weight x 703]/height2

For Example:

Weight in pounds = 150

Height in inches = 64

150 x 703 =  105,450

64 x 64 = 4096

105,450/4096 = 25.74

BMI = 25.74%

Your BMI number can fall into one of four adult categories:

Below 18.5 = Underweight

18.5 – 24.9+ = Normal

25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight

30.0 and above = Obese

As your BMI increases, so does your risk of death from many possible causes, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke and various types of cancers.  Based upon a study published in the online March 2009 Lancet, a collaborative analysis of 57 studies found that BMI is a “reasonably good measure” of general adiposity – body fat.

Researchers reported the lowest mortality was in those with a BMI of 22.5 to 25 kg/m2. As BMI slightly increases, the mortality rate begins to skyrocket.  each 5 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with about 30% higher all-cause mortality (40% for vascular; 60–120% for diabetic, renal, and hepatic; 10% for neoplastic; and 20% for respiratory and for all other mortality). In other words, as BMI increased overall death rate increased.

Having an above normal range BMI can result in these health conditions:

  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Various cancers

People frequently state that muscle weighs more than fat.  Its simply not true, a pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat.  It just so happens that fat occupies nearly 18% more volume for the same pound weight, and muscle tends to adhere to tightly to skeletal structures, whereas fat drapes loosly.  Because BMI fails to distinguish between fat and muscle, because it is weight based, a better way of looking at this was needed, hence a calculation of actual percentage fat by bioimpedance scale or skin calipers or more scientifically with DEXA scan.

Danger also lurks behind that expanding waistline: highly active, toxic abdominal fat  heightens your disease risk. Check your waist girth with a tape measure, starting at the top of the hipbone. Measure at your greatest waist area, keeping the tape measure even, not pulling too tightly. A total of over 40 inches for men or over 35 inches for women means it’s high time to get serious about taking control of your health and future.  The abdominal girth or waist measurement is a quick tool in determining your cardiac risk, it looks more at the volume of fat in the abdomen rather than the weight.

The waist to hip ratio is an important tool that helps you determine your overall health risk. People with more weight around their waist are at greater risk of lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes than those with weight around their hips. It is a simple and useful measure of fat distribution.

Use a measuring tape to check the waist and hip measurements.
- Measure your hip circumference at it’s widest part.
- Measure your Waist Circumference at the belly button or just above it.

Simply take your waist measurement / your hip measurement; for example:

Waist to hip ratio:

Waist circumference / hip circumference

Waist: 32

Hip: 30

Ratio: 32/30 = 1.07

 

MALE                          FEMALE:                     Health risk based on ratio only

.95 or below               .80 or below               Low Risk

.96 – 1.0                     .81-.85                        Moderate Risk

1.0 +                           .85 +                           High Risk

Perhaps exercise tolerance and maximal exercise capacity by measuring METs  may be the best indicator of body health and longevity, a functional test  of exercise capacity rather than a weight test or a size test.

If you are truly interested in losing abdominal fat, check out our mdHCG protocol for a guaranteed solution.

Exercise as if your life depended upon it! It really does.

Exercise as if your life depends upon it, it really does.  Men who achieved >7 METs (highly to very highly fit) level demonstrated a 50%-70% lower mortality risk than “low fit” subjects.

In a study published in the Journal Circulation, researchers assessed “the association between exercise capacity and mortality” in over 14,000 men—subjects whose average age was 60, who did or didn’t have cardiovascular disease and who successfully completed a treadmill test.  Men who achieved >7 METs (highly to very highly fit) level demonstrated a 50%-70% lower mortality risk than “low fit” subjects.

The highest-intensity aspect of exercise, the hardest part. is the 15 seconds of sprinting at the end of a long run, or the most difficult 10 seconds of pumping during a peak level on an exercise bike, or the last few repetitions when exercising muscles to failure.   One “metabolic equivalent” [MET] is the amount of oxygen used by an average person at rest  and increases proportionally with the intensity of exercise.

A MET is used as a practical means of expressing the intensity and energy expenditure of physical activities in a way comparable among persons of different weight; but actual energy expenditure (e.g., in calories or joules) during a physical activity depends on the person’s body mass, therefore the energy cost of the same physical activity will be different for persons of different weight.  In other words, METs as defined by most exercise equipment cannot be used to determine metabolic rate directly.  Never the less, a physical activity with a MET value of 2, such as walking at a slow pace (e.g., 3 km/h) would require for a specific person twice the energy that person consumes at rest (e.g., sitting quietly), a MET value of 1.

In this study, fitness categories based on METs achieved are were:

  • low                              [5 METs]
  • moderate                   [5-7 METs]
  • highly                         [7.1 to 10METs]
  • very highly fit            [over 10 METs]

Subjects exercised until tired; with follow-ups done for 7.5 years on average.  Men who achieved >7 METs (highly to very highly fit)—demonstrated a 50%-70% lower mortality risk than “low fit” subjects.  The chances of staying alive increased by 12 to 13 percent with each increase of a single metabolic equivalent [MET] when exercising as hard as possible on a treadmill.  Peak MET achieved is a better predictor of how long someone will live than other factors – including health risk factors like high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

The risk of death was reduced by 50% with an improved exercise capacity attained of just  30 minutes per session, 5-6 days per week.   And even if  30 minutes was too much , splitting the routine into 10-15 minute segments (morning/evening) gives the same benefit. Additionally, even moderate intensity exercise, greater then 7 METs offers significant health benefits.

  • Increased health span: A study following Harvard grads for 30 years showed those moderately active were at substantially decreased risk of death.
  • Decreased health risks: Strengthening the heart muscle for good circulation, decreased blood pressure and reduced stroke risk.
  • Reduced stress and significantly improved mood: With a moderate intensity workout of 20 minutes or more.
  • Increased muscle endurance: Making daily activities easier.
  • Improved sleep quality: Researchers at Stanford, Emory and the University of Oklahoma reported older people doing brisk walking and/or low-impact aerobics four times a week went to sleep faster and slept an hour longer than before (Harvard Health Letter, March 1997).

Many of these benefits accrue due to the improved endocrine profile; with resultant elevated Thyroid Hormone, Testosterone, and Growth Hormone.  Insulin sensitivity also seems to be enhanced with improved glucose control, resulting in less fat deposition, increased fat mobilization as usable energy, and reduced total Insulin levels and elevated Glucagon levels.

The key element in obtaining health benefits is the high intensity nature of the exercise, and the relatively short duration of the exercise.  MET capacity is even more important than the traditionally measured BMI or waist hip ratio.

If you are truly interested in losing abdominal fat, check out our mdHCG protocol for a guaranteed solution.

What’s so wrong with a fat belly?

There are three types of fat commonly seen observed in the abdomen

  1. Subcutaneous Fat, which is fat immediately below the skin but outside the abdominal cavity.
  2. Retroperitoneal or Structural Fat separating organ and providing cushioning during movement.
  3. Visceral abdominal fat (found inside the abdominal cavity). Most of that fat is found on the greater omentum—a large apron-like sheet that drapes over all the organs. Some people are prone to storing their body fat in their abdomen as part of this greater omentum. As a result, large, globule clumps of fat attach to the omentum, where they release toxic materials into the venous drainage and onto the bloodstream, ultimately causing adverse effects. This kind of fat releases adipokines, harmful chemicals that can cause Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and increased risk of cancer.

Reports have demonstrated that being overweight or obese (particular with a centralized distribution of adiposity) puts you in a higher-risk category for chronic conditions, from insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, gallstones, gout, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and a liver disease called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

It is interesting to note that the middle-age bulge increase your chances of having

Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia in your senior years by nearly three times, even though it’s not your brain that stores the fat.  This may be related to:

  1. Toxic metabolites produced by the visceral abdominal fat, such as xenoestrogens which suppress testosterone formation, leading to poor blood vessel elasticity and high blood pressure
  2. Storage of fat soluble toxins, such as food borne pesticides and herbicides, acquired from the environment which then slowly leach out.
  3. Toxic belly fat is thought to promote amyloid accumulation by increasing chronic inflammation. Amyloid is an abnormal protein, which deposits in the body’s tissues or in more organ-specific areas, such as in the pancreas (type 2 diabetes) or central nervous system (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington disease).

Visceral abdominal fat (belly fat) is the last reservoir people get rid of when they’re losing body fat—and it’s the first place they store it when they gain back body fat.

To date, there are no ways to specifically target that fat, but there are things you can do to work your way down to healthier body fat levels (16% for men, under 22% for women).

A low-glycemic nutrition eating plan with specific nutritional supplementation can help you optimize your health potential and reduce belly fat. Consistent high intensity interval exercise can increase metabolic rates, lower heart disease risk and improve body composition, muscle endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, core strength/stability and posture.  These effects are not purely related to the energy burned due to exercise, but also due to the significant endocrine [hormonal changes] induced by resistance exercise leading to increased Growth Hormone, Thyroid Hormone, and Testosterone production.

More specifically, resistance training helps you lose abdominal fat and overall body fat while lowering cholesterol: Weight training is the best way to burn fat; it’s more effective for losing weight than aerobic activity because it burns calories while you’re exercising and later at rest due to the hormonal changes and muscular regeneration.

If you are truly interested in losing abdominal fat, check out our mdHCG protocol for a guaranteed solution.