Sleep Your Weight Off!

 

Untitled

A good night’s rest is important. We know it and we hear it all the time. Quite frankly, it is very logical – if we don’t get a good night’s rest the next day we are tired, crabby, and experience a lack of energy. For these key reasons, sleep is most definitely important. But, there is one other important fact that individuals tend to forget about when hitting the pillow later than intended – proper regulation of hormones and potential weight control. Research has been telling us over and over again that we need to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each and every night. But besides feeling rested, why is it important? Particularly, why is it important to weight control? Read on!

Two main hormones control our appetite – leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that lets our brain know we are satisfied. Once our brain gets the message, our appetite is suppressed. Leptin is produced by fat cells in our body. Ghrelin is the hormone that lets us know when we are hungry. It is secreted by the stomach. To keep the two hormones straight, think of ghrelin as the growling hungry hormone – the sound your stomach makes when you need to eat something stat!

Several research studies have been conducted on the correlation of ghrelin and leptin levels in the body and the amount of sleep an individual gets. One particular study was conducted with 1,027 participants from a Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. They concluded that participants who slept less than 8 hours a night was proportional to an increased BMI. In addition, they also found that less sleep was associated with increased ghrelin levels and decreased leptin levels. Meaning you have more of that growling hungry signaling hormone and less of the satiation (feeling of fullness and content) floating around in your body. According to the researchers, “(This) hormonal pattern is consistent with decreased energy expenditure and increased appetite and obesity.” Think about it. Have you ever gotten only 5 or 6 hours of sleep and then noticed the following day you could not get full or satisfied with anything you ate? Did you find yourself eating more than you normally would? More likely than not, it was due to the fact that your hormones, leptin and ghrelin, were out of balance causing miscommunications between your brain and your stomach.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), in 1960 over 1 million individuals were surveyed to see how much sleep they would get each night. The average was 8.0 – 8.9 hours each night. In years 2000 to 2002, the NSF found the average American slept 6.9 – 7.0 hours each night. Today, it is closer to 5.0 – 6.0 hours each night. According to a Medscape sleep research article, “Sleep loss alters the ability of leptin and ghrelin to accurately signal caloric need and could lead to excessive caloric intake when food is freely available. The findings also suggest that compliance with a weight-loss diet involving caloric restriction may be adversely affected by sleep restriction.”

In conclusion, be sure to not put sleep on the backburner if you are looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Even more important, don’t short change yourself with losing precious zzzzz’s if you have a weight loss goal. Getting appropriate (and much needed) sleep consistently on a daily basis is important mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535424/

http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-while-sleeping

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

If you have watched any television in the past six months you have most likely heard an advertisement, or two, or three, for prebiotics and/or probiotics. More often than not, these terms are used interchangeably, which is unfortunate as it confuses the consumer (you). Continue reading on to ensure you do not make the mistake so many do when it comes to misusing terminology. We are going to help ensure you know the difference and benefits of both probiotics and prebiotics.

Probiotics

The term probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning promoting, and biotic, meaning life. Probiotics are live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast. They must be kept alive because they can be easily killed via heat or stomach acid. You already may be thinking, “Isn’t bacteria back for us?” After all, as a society we do take precautionary measures to avoid bacteria such as washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, and taking antibiotics when we are sick. So why would we want to ingest bacteria? Because, our digestive system contains many types of “good” bacteria and they are important for basic human functions within our body. For example, when we take antibiotics to overcome a common cold, the medicine does not know the difference between “good” and “bad” bacteria, both of which we need a good balance in our digestive tract. Therefore, the antibiotics wipe out all bacteria. Hence why there is a current scare in our nation of “antibiotic resistance” because we are killing good bacteria in our gut. To offset this action, you can eat items with natural probiotics to increase growth of the “good” bacteria back in to our gut.

For the most part, taking probiotics is safe to take and has few side effects. You can get them naturally by eating items (in moderation of course) such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkrautprebiotics1
  • Miso soupprebiotics2
  • Soft cheese (like Gouda)
  • Keifer
  • Sourdough bread
  • Tempeh

 

Overall, it is better to consume the nutrition sources of probiotics (and prebiotics) because you get additional nutritional benefits. A plus to eating the food form of nutrients is that they are more readily available for absorption and digestion. There are supplemental versions you can take, but as always, talk with your doctor before taking any pills to ensure they are safe for you and your health conditions.

Additional research is still needed to confirm exactly what probiotics help with. As of right now, there is promising evidence that probiotics could help:

  • Prevent and/or treat:

o   Vaginal yeast infections

o   Urinary tract infections

o   Eczema in children

  • Prevent and/or reduce the severity of colds and flu
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Treat diarrhea
  • Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber. It is a natural, non-digestible item found in foods that are linked to promoting growth of “good” bacteria in your gut. Research is still in the works for prebiotics as well, but there is strong evidence that prebiotics could improve gastrointestinal (also referred to as GI) health and enhance calcium absorption.

The following are food items that contain natural sources of prebiotics (again, in moderation):

  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeksprobiotics2
  • Artichokesprobiotics1probiotics3
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Red Wine
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Legumes
  • Soybeans

As a quick recap, probiotics are “good” bacteria found in foods that contain live bacteria, similar to the bacteria found in the gut. Foods that contain prebiotics feed the “good” bacteria that are already found in your digestive system. Both prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically together to restore and improve GI health. There is a lot of exciting research being done on bacteria in the gastrointestinal system. Keep your eyes open as scientists and doctors continue to reveal the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics.

Resources:

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-10/slideshow-probiotics

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442477443

Stretching For Optimal Performance

Benefits of a Proper Warm Up

There are many benefits that come from proper warm-up and stretching. Proper warm up and stretching can improve muscle strength and power, a lowered viscous resistance in muscles, increased blood flow, increased range of motion, and enhanced metabolic reactions. However, most importantly proper pre workout activity can prevent injury and unnecessary soreness. The proper warm-up and stretching regimen is nothing but beneficial.

Recommendations for Types of Stretching

But what is the proper warm-up? Proper warm-up and exercise should consist of functional dynamic activity and should be done as a separate exercise before and after your main exercise regimen. A general warm-up period may consist of 5-10 minutes of slow activity such as jogging or skipping. Other warm-ups should consist of similar movements that you will be encompassing in your main exercise regimen for example arm circles if you will be working your shoulders that day. Now, what is a proper stretching technique? There are multiple ways to stretch, but prior to exercise we want to perform 8-12 minutes of dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching focuses on movements that can increase your range of motion. Dynamic stretching should be functional to your exercise or sport you are performing that day. For example, if you will be working your legs it would be proper to stretch your hamstrings by doing walking toe touches.

Walking Toe Touch

Stretching Techniques to Avoid

There are certain types of stretching warm-ups that you do not want to partake in prior to exercise or at all. One type of stretching that used to be abundant during exercise is ballistic stretching. Ballistic stretching uses a bouncing type movement where the end position is not held. This type of stretching is one to avoid because it can create micro tears in muscle, fascia, ligaments, and tendons. Another stretch that should be done post exercise but not pre exercise is static stretching. Static stretching is when a stretch is performed and the end position is held for an extended amount of time. Static stretching can cause your muscles to be elongated past the optimal muscle length resulting in a temporary decrease in strength and power. Static stretching should be performed within 5-10 minutes after exercise to help improve range of motion, reduce blood pooling, and muscles soreness.

Examples of Dynamic Warm-Up

Depending on your exercise for the day your warm-up and stretching regimen should vary. Here are some examples of pre exercise warm-ups and stretching:

Lower body:

High knees: 2 sets of 10 seconds segments

High Knees

 

 

 

 

Walking toe touches: 2 sets of 10 repetitions

Walking Toe Touch

 

 

 

Walking lunges: 2 sets of 10 repetitions

Walking Lunge

 

 

 

 

Upper body:

Arm circles: 20 seconds

Arm Circles

 

 

 

 

Push-ups: 10 repetitions

Push-up

 

 

 

Trunk twists: 10 repetitions each side

Trunk Twists

 

 

 

 

 

Written By: Jacob Castner

If you have any further questions feel free to respond to our blog or email us at info@anwertowellness.com

Baechle, Thomas R., and Roger W. Earle. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 3rd ed. N.p.: Human Kinetics, 2008. Print.

CORE: The Forgotten Concepts

CORE pic

The first thing that comes to mind when most individuals hear the term core are those washboard abs (short for abdominals). Lo and behold, it is not just the abs that are important to a strong and functional core – it also includes your lower back. The center of your body is your core, including abdominals and lower back, and it is responsible for supporting a majority of your body weight. Only doing crunches and sit ups will leave you with only half the results.

 

Why is including core work important in your weekly exercise routine? Because it helps improve your balance, stability, and will make most daily life activities easier if this part of your body is strengthened. Not only that, but it will also lead to reduced back pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 60-80% of adults in the USA experience low back pain and it is the second most common reason individuals seek a doctor. Save yourself a trip to the doctor and try out some of the exercises below to increase your overall core muscles.

 

For beginners, start off with 1 set of each exercise, 10 repetitions each 2-3 times a week. Intermediate and advanced exercises can do 2-4 sets of each exercise, 15-20 repetitions of each 2-3 times a week. Start each exercise in the position the exercise shows, then following the movement instructions. Make sure to give yourself 24 hours rest, just like strengthening any other muscle, to allow for proper recover. Many individuals want a flat stomach so they do ab exercises every day. Unfortunately, you are most likely doing more harm than good since the muscles do not have the amount of time needed to repair and recover.

 

pic1Movement

  • Start by lying supine with neutral spine angles and the arms to the side of the body.
  • The legs are bent into triple flexion (at the hips, knees, and ankles.)
  • Start with the feet up in the air and the thighs perpendicular to the ground.
  • Slowly lower the legs.
  • Return to the start position.

 

pic2Movement

  • With core activated and glutes squeezed, lift hips off ground to form a straight line between knees and shoulders.
  • Hold and slowly return back to floor, touching floor momentarily then repeat.
  • If your client feels their hamstring cramping, check their pelvis for correct alignment. Pelvis should be neutral – asis and psis should be even or horizontal. If there is a misalignment correct it. If you aren’t sure then gently stretch the quads and try the exercise again.

 

 

pic3

Movement

  • With the core and glutes activated, lift the chest off the floor, lift arms up and back towards the hips rotating the thumbs towards the ceiling.
  • Pause momentarily at the top of then lift then return to starting position, at all times keeping the chin tucked into the chest.
  • Upon completion of the movement, repeat.
  • Don’t over emphasize arching of the back to lift the chest off the floor. Only lift to where the client is comfortable – now lower back pain should be felt. If so check sequencing of glutes, erectors, and hamstrings.

 

pic4Movement

  • Lie supine on the ground.
  • The hands should be to the side of the body with the shoulders on the ground.
  • With the upper body still, lift both legs at the hips off the ground as shown (ensure to keep the legs straight).
  • Pay close attention to the video to observe the relative timing of this dynamic movement pattern.

 

pic5Movement

  • The head should be positioned with the chin tucked and the hands by the ear so that they DO NOT support the head (that is the roll of the neck flexors).
  • Lift the shoulder blades off the ground by contracting the rectus abdominus … once in the air, turn the shoulders to one side (as shown).
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Alternate until desired repetitions performed.

 

 

 

Resources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751

http://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/building-core-strength-reduce-back-pain

https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/low-back-pain

http://www.ptonthenet.com/exercise-library

Milk Alternatives

Nowadays your milk options do not have to come from a cow. The selections are endless. If you are lactose intolerant you can opt for soy milk. If you are soy intolerant you can drink almond milk. There is even coconut milk, pistachio milk, and rice milk varieties. When it comes to all of the options available it can be overwhelming. We are going to break down some of the most popular milk alternative options out there so you can decide for yourself which one best suits your lifestyle and health goals.

Image

 Let’s start off with basic cow’s milk. Talk about alternatives with just one product. There is whole milk, 2%, 1% and skim milk. Not to mention chocolate, but we are going to skip that one this time around. Cow’s milk packs a high protein punch! Be wary though of the higher amounts of fat and sugar in some of the options below.

Nutrition Facts

Per 8 oz.

Whole Milk

2% Milk

1% Milk

Skim Milk

Calories

150

130

110

90

Total Fat (g)

8

5

2.5

0

Saturated Fat (g)

5

3

1.5

0

Carbohydrates (g)

12

12

12

12

Sugar (g)

11

11

12

12

Protein (g)

8

8

8

8

Now let’s break down some of the “newer” milk alternatives. For starters, we will look at almond milk. Individuals who cannot digest lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk, may turn to almond milk as an alternative. If you aren’t lactose intolerant and are thinking about trying almond milk, but are afraid you won’t get your dose of calcium don’t fear! A cup of almond milk contains 50% more calcium than a cup of cow’s milk.

Nutrition Facts

Per 8 oz.

Almond Milk

Unsweetened Original

Almond Milk

Original

Almond Milk

Unsweetened Vanilla

Almond Milk

Vanilla

Calories

30

60

30

90

Total Fat (g)

2.5

2.5

2.5

2.5

Saturated Fat (g)

0

0

0

0

Carbohydrates (g)

<1

8

<1

16

Sugar (g)

0

7

0

16

Protein (g)

1

1

1

1

Next, we will take a peek at coconut milk. Coconuts are actually a seed, not a nut. They are one of the best sources of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), which aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body.

Nutrition Facts

Per 8 oz.

Coconut Milk

Unsweetened Original

Coconut Milk

Original

Coconut Milk

Vanilla

Calories

45

80

90

Total Fat (g)

4.5

5

5

Saturated Fat (g)

4

5

5

Carbohydrates (g)

<1

7

9

Sugar (g)

0

6

9

Protein (g)

0

0

0

Last, we will break down soy, rice, goat, and lactose free milk.

Nutrition Facts

Per 8 oz.

Soy Milk

Rice Milk

Goat Milk

Low Fat

Lactose Free

1% Milk

Calories

110

120

89

110

Total Fat

4.5

2.5

2.4

2.5

Saturated Fat

.5

0

1.5

0

Carbohydrates

9

23

9.4

13

Sugar

6

10

9.4

12

Protein

8

1

7.4

8

 Our world has become much more accommodating to individuals taste buds and preferences. As you can see there are several alternatives and I only chose the more common ones to share. There are several more options available as well. The main take away is to read, read, read those nutrition labels. Milk and its alternatives are good sources of several vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D, but some have higher added sugars than others. Whatever your health goal is, be sure you are taking in what you want.

 You can even make your own nut milk by playing around with different types of nuts. Here is a recipe from a food blogger who made homemade pistachio milk. It is on my to-do list to try as it is a simple recipe with a lot of nutritional bang! http://foodbabe.com/2012/08/06/my-new-love-homemade-pistachio-milk/

 

 Resources:

http://www.usdec.org/Products/content.cfm?ItemNumber=82658

http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/article10612.htm

www.silk.com

All images are from http://www.freedigitalphoto.net

Written By: Brittany Schneider

New Taste Bud? Umani

Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami? It may be new to you (and me), but umami, another taste experience for the human tongue, has been around since 1908. Let’s start with the basics, what are taste buds? Taste buds make up most of the little bumps on your tongue, specifically referred to as papillae. Taste buds have tiny hairs on them which send messages to your brain after eating something to let you know what taste buds it actually hit. Interestingly enough, your taste buds, all 10,000 plus of them, turns over about every two weeks. So for those of you who say you don’t like vegetables, eat them a few times so that your taste buds adapt and learn to like those nutrient dense foods.

UntitledWhile eating dashi, a Japanese based soup, chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda from Tokyo detected a new taste on his tonge. Professor Ikeda was determined to figure out what the dominate taste in this soup was as it did not catch any of the original 4 taste buds. After a few classical chemical procedures, Professor Ikeda discovered another taste. It was from glutamic acid (also known as glutamate). He named it “umami” based on the Japanese adjective “umai” meaning delicious.

Umami can be described as a mild flavor. Foods such as aged cheese, seafood, tomatoes, beets, corn and soybeans all carry the signatures of umami. Here is a Five-Spice Shrimp & Vegetable Packets recipe to test those taste buds out!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, (see Shopping Tip)
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine, (see Shopping Tip) or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, (see Shopping Tip)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, (optional)
  • 1 1/4 pounds raw shrimp, (26-30 per pound; see Note), peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, (from 1 large ear; see Tip)
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

PREPARATION

  1. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine (or sherry), honey, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, five-spice powder and crushed red pepper (if using) in a large bowl. Add shrimp and mix well. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F
  3. To prepare packets, start with four 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of parchment paper or foil. Fold in half crosswise. With the parchment or foil folded, draw half a heart shape on one side as you would if you were making a Valentine. Use scissors to cut out the heart shape. Open up the heart.
  4. Combine corn with snap peas and bell pepper in a medium bowl.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer one-fourth of the shrimp to one side of each open heart fairly close to the crease and leaving at least a 1-inch border around the edges for folding. (Reserve the marinade.) Place one-fourth of the vegetable mixture (about 1 cup) on top of each portion of shrimp.
  6. Close the packet to cover the ingredients. Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds. Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed. Place the packets on a large rimmed baking sheet (packets may overlap slightly). Bake until the shrimp are just cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high and boil until reduced slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Let the packets rest unopened for 5 minutes. Serve the shrimp and vegetables drizzled with the reduced marinade.

 

Resources:

http://www.nature.com/neuro/press_release/nn0200.html

http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/9/843.full

http://kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/taste_buds.html

Recipe from: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/five_spice_shrimp_vegetable_packets.html

 

Written By: Brittany Schneider

What are “Minimalist Shoes”?

There always comes a time of year when you realize your current exercise shoes are not cutting it for your workouts. Either they are too old, not supportive, or overly supportive – not allowing you to move properly. While in your pursuit of a better shoe, you may come across a buzz word “Minimalist Shoe.”

What is a minimalist shoe you ask? It is a lightweight shoe that creates a similar feeling to being barefoot. Most of the midsole of the shoe, also known as the cushioning between the outsole and insole, are removed.  The removal of the midsole creates a lighter shoe that has less cushioning and less lateral stability. Due to the lessened amount of support given by the shoe, it will require individuals using a lightweight type of shoe to engage their physiological systems to achieve stability.

jj

The next question you may have is, “Well, should I get them?” The answer to that depends. If you were shopping for the perfect pair of pants, you would have to figure out what size you are, if you need a larger or smaller waistband, along with the length of the inseam, etc. You wouldn’t ask your best friend who is the complete opposite size of you for those measurements as they would most likely be incorrect. Just like pants, shoes are very particular to certain individuals. It is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. If you have purchased or plan to purchase a pair of minimalist shoes, be sure to transition slowly into running or weight lifting. Start off using the shoes once a week. If it feels comfortable, increase it to twice a week. Be sure to stay in-tune with your body in order to avoid any injuries. Wearing minimalist shoes require feet, ankle, and core strength, so if you lack in any or all of those areas, be sure to take even more precaution.

With any new coming – fitness and nutrition alike – do your research and talk to experts in the area. Stop in to a specialized running store to have them analyze your feet to see if it would be beneficial to train with or without a minimalist type of shoe. Even if you are not an avid runner, these types of stores can help you get into the best type of shoe for YOU!

Written By: Brittany Schneider

Resources:

http://blog.nasm.org/fitness/running-shoe-or-minimalist-shoe/

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes-gear/minimalist-shoes

http://adage.com/article/news/marketers-sprint-join-lightweight-running-craze/229592/

Image from: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/