Fitness Tips

Fat Cells: Why Re-Gaining Weight Can Be So Easy

Fat Shack

Good news, bad news. Fat cells can be shrunk, but they rarely disappear. Once fat cells form, they might shrink during weight loss, but they do not disappear, a fact that has derailed many weigh.

Young mice fed a high-fat diet fail to produce fat cells within a day of starting a high-fat diet. “In studying what happens before these animals become obese, we found that this fat-producing response occurs unbelievably quickly,” said Matthew Rodeheffer, assistant professor of comparative medicine.

Weight gained is caused by the creation and expansion of white fat cells, or adipose tissue. Eating healthy and exercising can shrink fat cells but not eliminate them, which is why people can gain weight back so quickly.

So the next time you have a snow day and consider going on a 36-hr pizza and ice cream binge, definitely think twice. The body creates fat cells very fast and losing (or shrinking?) them can be a much more prolonged process.

Why Athletes Reach for White Rice Over Brown Rice

White Rice Athlete

Whole grains are generally good for you and are a recommended food to improve overall health. However, athletes often follow different nutritional guidelines when considering what’s best for sports nutrition.

One of the biggest differences in the diet of elite athletes is the preference of white rice over brown rice. White rice can be a primary carbohydrate source that’s excellent for quick energy and glycogen replenishment. The goal of the athlete and lifter is supplying adequate amounts of macronutrients to fuel extreme training and replenish severely depleted glycogen stores. White rice plays a major part in this process and is considered excellent sports nutrition for these athletes.

One of the most popular meals for lifters is a large bowl of white rice combined with grilled chicken breast and endurance runners often carbo load with white rice before events. Because white rice ranks high on the glycemic index, informed athletes and lifters recognize the high glycemic value of white rice to provide quick fuel for hard workouts and facilitate muscle recovery.

According to USA Rice Information, rice contains more carbohydrates than potatoes for the same serving size. Parboiled, converted, and instant white rice is suggested for pre and post-workout meals. Consuming white rice ensures the body is properly fueled for the competitive athlete.

And for those training less than 4-days per week or suffering from a metabolic disease, brown rice is considered a better choice as brown rice is still a healthy nutrient dense food. Brown rice is absolutely recommended for the general populous and everyday fitness person who can tolerate whole grains, but for those going the extra mile sometimes white rice is the better choice.

VarCity Wellness Trends: Plant-Based Milks

Almond vs Oat Milk

With the rise in popularity of plant-based proteins, we aren’t surprised that food manufacturers are looking for new ways to get plants into our morning coffee routines. Since 2014, nondairy milk alternatives have grown an impressive 61%, and the market is expected to reach more than $35 billion by 2024.

And while the almond and coconut milks of the world are just going to continue getting more ubiquitous, there’s a whole host of other plant-based options, from beans to oats to bananas, that are ready to join the mix.

VarCity’s pro-tip: when choosing a dairy-free milk, look for an option that has a short ingredient list, is unsweetened, offers a source of protein, and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

VarCity Fitness Trends: Boxing

Boxing

Boxing used to be a grungy sport reserved for people who didn’t mind working out in a dark, damp cave. Then along came boutique boxing studios, and suddenly boxing’s sexy again. It’s now the sport of models and fitfluencers everywhere—and when it comes to a workout that incorporates cardio and toning, boxing is going to make a strong push to supplant spinning as the number #1 workout in 2019.

For starters, slamming away at a heavy bag is a full-body workout that can burn around 700 calories an hour (depending on your weight). But if that’s not enough to get your gloves on, people are also using the workout as an outlet for stress and to build self-confidence. Go ahead—let it all out!

VarCity Wellness Trends: Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll Latte

Step aside matcha, there’s a new drink in the neighborhood. Chlorophyll lattes are here and the health claims are getting out of control. From bad breath to depression to exercise recovery, if you google it, chances are chlorophyll can apparently fix it. While a few smaller studies did find that taking chlorophyll supplements did slightly increase weight loss and lower cholesterol, experts have suggested that we need a lot more research to confirm the “superfood” claims.

Today it’s not unusual to find coffeeshops blending chlorophyll-packed supplements like spirulina and chlorella into your frothy morning brew,. And hey, even if the whipped cream and syrup pumps somewhat nullify any potential health benefits from the superfood greens, at least you’re getting a good ‘gram.

VarCity Tips: Eat This, Not That -- Shaved Ice

Healthy Summer Treats

Fro-Yo still may be king of the summer, but think twice the next time you get a bowl loaded with artificial sweeteners, empty calories and chemical-based flavors. For summer of 2019, try a bowl of shaved ice. Inspired by Japanese kakigōri, Filipino halo-halo, Korean patbingsu, and Taiwanese bao-bing, the icy treats are a low-calorie refreshing alternative. The trend is expected to go mainstream with the help of do-it-yourself topping bars.

VarCity’s tip: Keep your shaved ice refreshing and manageable by adding fresh fruit instead of super-sweet syrups, juices and candies.

The Benefits of Unprocessed Foods

Processes Foods

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that people eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet. The difference in weight gain even occurred when the meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients.

This study considered foods “ultra-processed” if they had ingredients predominantly found in food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers.

Previous studies had shown diets high in processed foods correlated to health problems. But, because none of the past studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured the results, scientists could not say for sure whether the processed foods were a problem on their own, or whether people eating them had health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.

This is the first study to demonstrate causality — that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight.

An ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk. The ultra-processed and unprocessed meals had the same amounts of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

On the ultra-processed diet, people ate about 500 calories more per day than they did on the unprocessed diet. They also ate faster on the ultra-processed diet and gained weight, whereas they lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet.

Quick + Easy Summer Workouts

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Are you traveling with the family for the summer and do you need workout ideas to keep in shape efficiently and without exercise equipment handy? Try the below workout that can be done anywhere — even on the beach before the crowds arrive.

For each move do 10 reps, repeat for 3 rounds and rest 30 seconds between rounds.

Lateral Lunges

Step right leg out into a lateral lunge with the left leg straight. As you stand up, drag the left leg back to standing while using the sand as resistance. Repeat movement on the other side.

180-degree Jump Squats

Squat and touch the ground, jump 180-degrees clockwise and touch the ground again. Repeat by jumping 180-degrees counter-clockwise. Two jumps equals one rep.

Down Dog Push-Ups

Start in a down dog position. Walk your hands out to a full plank, perform a push-up and then walk your hands back to down dog.

Shuttle Sprints

Place two towels about 20 yards apart, and using them as markers, start at one and sprint to the other. That’s one! Keep your speed up, sprinting back and forth five times (10 lengths total).

Summer’s Already Here (gulp): Think 20-20-20 To See Results Fast

Summer Fitness Tips

Summer is here again and most of us definitely aren’t ready to be our best-beach selves. Need to see results fast? Try combining cardio training with some resistance training in a six-day-a-week fitness regimen. Do each component twice a week, for a total of six days, with one day off. And as with any new exercise regimen, speak to your doctor first.

Spend Two Days a Week Doing High-Intensity Exercise

Twice a week, do a high-intensity routine incorporating cardio and resistance for 20 minutes (including warm-up/cool-down).

Ideas: Warm up with walking for two to three minutes. Then do one minute of jumping jacks, then one minute of push-ups, then one minute of running or walking up a hill, then rest 30 seconds with easy walking. Repeat your high-intensity routine four times.

Then do a few minutes of stretching to cool down, for  a total of 20 minutes. Include the warm-up and cool-down, as both are important for any boot-camp/high-intensity routine.

Spend Two Days a week Doing Resistance Training

Twice a week, do resistance training for 15 to 20 minutes. You can use your own body weight for resistance training, doing squats, lunges, push-ups and triceps dips. The major bonus of resistance training is that because it builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories than fat tissue does, your body continues to burn calories even after the workout is finished.

Spend Two Days a Week Doing Interval Training

Twice a week, do interval training for 20 minutes. Doing something fast, then slow, is an effective fat burner. Instead of going for a 10- to 20-minute light jog, for example, do a burst of sprinting until you are out of breath, walk for a while, then sprint again. Do this regularly and both your speed and stamina should start to increase. If you want to target your lower body run for five minutes, then do squats; run, then do lunges; run, then do step-ups.

Best Post Workout Meals: Part 2

Workout Food

In our last post, we learned how important it is to eat post-working out. In this second installment, we learn how the right balance of foods can help you recover after exercise.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

• Decrease muscle protein breakdown

• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)

• Restore glycogen stores

• Enhance recovery

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein and even the most advanced athletes experience muscle protein breakdown.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.

Studies have shown that depending on your body type, ingesting 20–40 grams of protein maximizes the body's ability to recover after exercise.

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.

For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (e.g. running or swimming), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk.

Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected.

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.