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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 17, 2012

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week McDonald’s comes up with a game changer, Dr. Oz proves once again that he’s a scumbag, and science gives us a few more reasons to eat fish.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Exercise & Weight Loss Live – Episode 7 – Summer Tomato Live [video]

by | May 17, 2011

Big thanks to Travis Saunders and all of you who participated in this episode Exercise & Weight Loss. Everyone really enjoyed the show, and we had some great discussions. Show notes are below.

My apologies that the audio quality is still not ideal, the technical stuff gets a lot more complicated when you add another host (working on it). We also lost about 2 minutes of recording at the end (for an entirely different reason I didn’t anticipate). But all the important points were captured, and you’re welcome to ask any remaining questions you have here in the comments.

The next episode is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30pm PST, and the topic is Weight Loss Tips & Tricks. I’ve extended the free trial and today is the last day to get the first month of Tomato Slice for free.

May 9, 20111 | Think your regular workouts are enough to keep you fit? Wondering if extra time on the treadmill will counter your weekend splurges? Find out why you might be putting your eggs in the wrong basket tonight here at 6:30pm PST on Summer Tomato Live.

Join me and Travis Saunders from the PLoS Obesity Panacea blog. Travis is a Ph.D student studying the effects of sedentary behavior. We’ll be discussing The Role of Exercise In Weight Loss, along with his work and more.

Live participation is only available to subscribers of the newsletter Tomato Slice. You can sign up at any time, even during the show, and the password for participation will be emailed to you immediately.

As a special thanks to Obesity Panacea readers, I’m offering a free trial membership for anyone who signs up by Friday, May 13. You can cancel at any time.

Click here to sign up and get the password

Read this for more information on the show and newsletter

To watch live and join the discussion click the red “Join event” button, login with Twitter or your Vokle account, and enter the password when prompted.

I encourage you to call in with video questions, particularly if your question is nuanced and may involve a back and forth discussion. Please use headphones to call in however, or the feedback from the show is unbearable.

Show notes:

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For The Love Of Food

by | Apr 22, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Disheartening news this week from the Nutrition Diva about the accuracy of nutrition labels; and from the meat industry regarding their nasty anti-biotic resistant bacteria problem. Also, The New York Times has a fantastic series on exercise that is the perfect inspiration for your spring fitness plan.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Aug 13, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week I found an exceptional number of articles supporting the value of minimally processed foods (shhh, even the one that tried to argue the opposite). Also some useful tips on juicing and weight lifting (not together, of course).

I’m also happy to tell you that the print buttons are working again 🙂

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 21, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Meditating on food, the health differences between steak and bacon, and the secrets to ordering Thai are some of the highlights from around the web this week. I also figured your attention would be better spent on a cupcake canon rather than the usual BS of the week. Enjoy!

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Simple Plan To Increase Your Physical Activity

by | Dec 9, 2009
Photo by laurenatclemson

Photo by laurenatclemson

I’m thrilled to have JC, author of JCDFitness for today’s guest post. I don’t read many exercise blogs, but JC has such a refreshing approach to fitness and exercise I can’t help but love it. I asked him if he would share some of his wisdom with us here at Summer Tomato.

JC writes about fat loss, building muscle and everything else fitness related at JCDFitness.  He takes a No-BS approach to the health and fitness lifestyle and prides himself on his relaxed, comfortable approach. Check out his free ebook, A No-BS Approach to Looking Great Naked and follow him on Twitter (@JCDFitness), if you’re into that sort of thing.

Increase Your Activity, Improve Your Life

by JC

If there is anything I am truly, madly in love with, it’s food. So you might guess that I was once a chubby kid; okay, a really chubby kid.

But I am not here to tell you how or what to eat. If you’ve been hanging out on Summer Tomato for more than a few minutes, you already know how.

So, while I trust you are eating all the unprocessed foods and in-season produce available, how are you doing with the other part of the healthstyle equation? What does your daily physical activity look like?

If you live in America, chances are your life is busier than ever, even more so now that the holidays are upon us.

Here is a simple plan to increase your physical activity, which will greatly improve your quality of life.

Exercising is Fun, Taking the Stairs is NEAT

First off, we have two ways to get active and expend more energy throughout the day. The first one is deliberate exercise, which I will cover in a bit.

The second way to increase activity is through something called NEAT. This little acronym stands for Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, NEAT is everything you do outside of deliberate exercise; it’s the energy you expend at your occupation, while doing household chores, picking up the kids, bathing your boa constrictor or painting your grass during the winter season.

Unfortunately, sometimes things are not so neat for a person who works at a desk and gets a slap on the wrist every time they move an inch away from their computer screen. So, if your current occupation or daily duties do not include much movement and you want to incorporate some extra activity into your daily routine, it’s time to get creative.

If you work on the 85th floor in the office building downtown, I don’t expect you to take the stairs all the way to the top. However, you can take a few flights before getting in the elevator and, when you come down for the day, you can do the same. Over time, you should aim to increase a flight or two every so often. Ideally you will be able to do all 85 flights within a month.

I kid.

But taking the stairs is a great way to get extra exercise if you can’t do a formal workout.

Another option is to walk instead of drive to your next destination. I know this is not possible for everyone, but once in a while if I want to increase my NEAT I will simply walk to school. I, however, only live 1.5 miles away from the farthest part of campus, so this is very easy for me.

If you take a train or bus, walk to the station if it’s not too far from your home.

When you do your grocery shopping, park in the very back of the lot; this way you’re forced into some extra activity. If it’s the only exercise you get outside of pecking the keys 8 hours per day, it’s definitely better than nothing.

For more NEAT tips check out: 6 Ways To Get More NEAT

Benefits of Strength Training (Deliberate Exercise)

The benefits of strength training could be an entire article in itself, as there are many positives I could ramble on about. For the sake of not boring you to death, I will hit the highlights.

The person who incorporates some form of resistance training a few times per week is going to be far better off than those who do not.

Now don’t get this confused with going to the gym and working out with all of the meathead bodybuilders. You can practice resistance training in the comfort of your own casa if you wish. You really don’t need a whole lot of equipment, if any at all. Heck, if you’ve never trained before, all you need to be doing is body weight exercises anyway, at least to get you started.

So give me some benefits!

  • Increased bone density
  • Increase in lean body mass
  • Improved appearance
  • Boost in confidence
  • Injury prevention due to joint stabilization through increased strength/muscle mass

Think of strength training as an insurance policy. It’s usually not much fun paying your dues and putting in the extra hard work, but you will be thankful later on in life as the rewards are great in terms of health and longevity.

As we age, our bone density diminishes; our muscles lose their tone and become weak. As a result, our chances of injury later in life increase exponentially. On another note, setting strength goals and achieving them will do wonders for our confidence and self-image.

So how might we put it all together?

Keep It Simple, Please

A strength training routine should never take up all of your time. In fact, it can (and should) be rather quick, unlike training for a marathon.

All you need is a few non-consecutive days per week to train; any more is likely unnecessary.

Keep in mind, I am writing for the general population here, so the guidelines are amendable and should be altered to suit your needs. However, here is a sample, full-body routine to get you going in the right direction.

Sample weekly exercise program

Training frequency is 2 times per week: Monday and Thursday morning before work (pick the days best for you, it’s just an example).

You will do the same routine each training day and increase weight and reps whenever possible.

The guidelines are to pick 1 exercise for chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and 1-2 exercises for legs.

If you have access to a gym, your routine would look like this:

  • Chest Movement (bench or machine press) 2 x 10-12
  • Back Movement (lat pulldown, chin up, rows) 2 x 10-12
  • Shoulder Movement (vertical barbell press, DB press, lateral raises) 2 x 10-12
  • Bicep Movement (curls with barbell, dumbbells or resistance bands) 2 x 10-12
  • Tricep Movement (extension with dumbbells, machine or bands) 2 x 10-12
  • Leg movement (squat or leg press) 2 x 10-12
  • 2nd Leg Movement (leg curl or straight leg deadlift) 2 x 10-12
  • Abdominal Movement (crunches, planks) 2 x 10-12

If you do not have access to a gym and want to work out at home doing body weight only exercises, do 4 sets of 12 of the following:

  • Push ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Chair dips
  • Squats
  • Lunges

As you progress, the exercises will become less challenging, so eventually, you may need to move onto free weight/machine exercises or make your body weight work more difficult. This can be done by adding bands for resistance or making each movement more challenging.

For instance, if you want to make body weight squats more difficult, do a 1 legged squat or use dumbbells for extra resistance. Instead of regular push ups, do handstand push ups. You must get creative if you plan on doing body weight exercises only.

Cardio, Anyone?

On top of the strength training, some low to moderate intensity cardio is perfectly fine to do as well. I encourage those with sedentary lifestyles to incorporate 2-3 days of cardio into their weekly routine. My reasoning is, the more exercise we get, the more likely we are to maintain a healthy weight.

Examples of simple cardio workouts are walking the dogs when you get home from work, riding your bike through the trails, jogging in the morning before class, etc. Of course, you can use a treadmill, but I despise them; they are boring and usually inside a smelly, uncomfortable building. I prefer to do my cardio in the fresh air whenever possible.

So there you have it: a perfectly sensible plan to get active, improve your fitness and increase your quality of life.

What does your current exercise routine consist of? Let us know in the comments!

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For The Love of Food

by | Jul 24, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week I found yet another reason to eat fish for health, as well as some great discussions on the pros and cons of food industry regulation. For those of you who still don’t have a pressure cooker, Mark Bittman says you might still be able to prepare delicious bean dishes.

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am currently accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any healthy eating, living and exercise tips.

For The Love of Food

Did you write any fabulous food or health articles this week? Share your links in the comments!!

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Antioxidant Supplements May Block Some Benefits of Exercise

by | May 13, 2009
Romanesco Broccoli In A Beaker

Romanesco Broccoli in a Beaker

One of the most consistent themes of nutrition science is that vitamin supplements (pills, powders, liquids, etc.) are almost never able to mimic the beneficial effects of foods that contain the same vitamins. Now new evidence suggests that high doses of these antioxidant supplements–but not whole foods containing them–may actually block the beneficial effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity and metabolism.

Exercise has countless benefits for people of all levels of fitness. One of the most important of these is its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and increase metabolism. For this reason, exercise is considered among the most effective ways to protect against type 2 diabetes.

One of the byproducts of exercise, however, is the production of free radicals that results from the breakdown of oxygen in the muscles. These reactive oxygen molecules can damage cells and DNA, and are implicated in many chronic diseases. Since antioxidants can easily neutralize these reactive oxygen molecules, it has been assumed that antioxidants such as vitamins C and E could only benefit the body.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that rather than help protect against oxidative damage from exercise, high doses of antioxidant supplements may actually hinder the body’s natural protection against oxidative damage and block exercise-induced metabolic benefits.

In the study, human subjects were given either placebo or 500 mg vitamin C twice per day and 400 IU vitamin E. They were then trained in both cardio and strength training workouts at the gym for 5 consecutive weekdays, 4 weeks in a row. This trial was performed on both previously trained and untrained individuals.

Metabolic rates were tested by blood sample both before the trial and after 1 and 4 weeks of training. Muscle biopsies were taken both before and after the trial for all participants. Several measures of metabolism and insulin sensitivity were measured including plasma glucose concentrations, plasma insulin concentrations, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max), as well as several molecular markers in muscle that are linked to insulin sensitivity and are known to promote the body’s natural defense against oxidative damage.

The researchers found that exercise improved measures of insulin sensitivity in all individuals except those given antioxidant supplements. Also, molecules that protect against oxidative damage are upregulated in response to training, but not when antioxidants are administered.

Previous studies suggest that the body’s natural defenses against oxidative damage require activation by a small amount of reactive oxygen chemicals in the body. These same chemicals have been shown to mediate insulin sensitivity in muscles, and in this study both were shown to be blocked by high antioxidant administration.

The researchers suggest that small doses of reactive oxygen molecules such as the amounts produced by exercise are necessary to induce the body’s natural defense against oxidative damage, and that this process is essential for mediating exercise-induced insulin sensitivity. If this is true it could mean that some (but not all) of the metabolic benefits of exercise could be limited by taking high doses of vitamin supplements. This may be particularly important to individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, foods that contain high levels of these antioxidants have previously been shown to be protective against type 2 diabetes. Although the reason for this is still unknown, the authors suggest the benefit is unlikely due to the antioxidant content of the foods and may depend on other factors.

Even if we do not understand the reason vegetables and fruits are the best source of nutrition, we can still enjoy all their benefits. If you choose to continue taking vitamin supplements, it is advisable to stick to a basic multivitamin that does not contain megadoses of one particular nutrient.

Do you take vitamin supplements? Why? How much do you take?
http://forms.aweber.com/form/30/split_210533730.htm

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Body Fat Test: One Year Later (part 2)

by | Feb 4, 2009

Last week I had my body fat measured by the gold standard of body composition testing: the hydrostatic body fat test.

I did this test exactly one year ago so I thought it would be informative to see the results a year later (I just checked my email and realized I received my results on January 29, two years in a row). I expected the test to be particularly illuminating this year because of the notable weight loss I have experienced in the past 12 months.

(note: This is part 2 of a 2 part post. Part 1 focuses on the testing experience and what to expect if you go in for a hydrostatic body fat measurement. Part 2 examines my personal body composition changes over the past year. For reference, the picture above shows the volume of 1 lb of fat next to a shallow, superficial coffee mug from Southern California).

I want to begin by saying that last year my body fat percentage was very low for a female, even lower than some athletic males. I am small, eat healthy and am very active so everyone expected I would test at the low end, but my body fat was even lower than any of us imagined.

At the time I did not have a body fat goal, but was very curious about my body composition given my lifestyle.

This year (again) my health goal was not directly related to body fat percentage (I will admit that I would have been disappointed had it gone up), but I have many habits–both new and ongoing–that have the potential to significantly impact my weight, appearance and body composition.

So what did I change and how did it affect me?

Let’s start with my favorite subject: food.

It has been over three years now since I have abandoned dieting and focused on healthy eating. This transition was difficult for me, because I had been on a diet for virtually my entire life (since age 11).

The most notable dietary changes I made were:

  1. Greatly increasing the diversity and quantity of vegetables I eat daily.
  2. Eliminating all nutrition bars, shakes and processed foods.
  3. Greatly increasing plant oils and reducing animal fat.
  4. Increasing plant protein and reducing animal protein.
  5. Increasing whole grains.

Eating more (any) whole grains was by the far the most difficult hurdle for me to overcome. Back in 2003, I would have rather starved than eat any “carbs.”

I have lost weight every year since I changed my diet. This year I dropped (significantly) below my goal weight. And remember, this is after I stopped dieting.

But just because I no longer live on a diet does not mean that I stopped thinking and learning about food. I am constantly reading primary scientific literature and improving my knowledge of nutrition science, and it is impossible for this not to impact the way I choose to eat.

As part of my continuing education, I have further modified my diet over the past 12 months. I have completely stopped buying processed “whole grain” products like Oroweat breads and phony whole grain cereals.

From what I have learned, something is not really “whole grain” unless it actually looks like a grain, no matter what the FDA says. That is to say, the benefits scientists have discovered from whole grain foods are much more substantial if the grains are still intact rather than processed and reconstituted.

Consequently, this year I have a more diverse diet of whole grains, but still occasionally consume processed starches if I find the situation warrants an exception.

Also this year I have made a concerted effort to eat more beans and other legumes for protein. Subsequently I eat fewer animal products and do not consume dairy as part of my daily routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheese and creamy sauces. I eat them, but try to limit them to special occasions (like Valentine’s Day).

I have also increased my farmers market shopping from about 50% of my vegetable and fruit purchases to over 90% (I used to regularly supplement my purchases with veggies from Whole Foods and my local market) . This shift was motivated primarily by taste, health and science (local organic foods are more flavorful, more nutritious and have fewer harmful chemicals), but was also influenced by economics and politics.

Another change for me this year was my workout routine.

I used to run marathons and always believed with absolute certainty that cardiovascular workouts were the only way to lose weight. Strength training (weight lifting) was for building up muscle, I thought. I am naturally a muscular, athletic girl and always believed I had plenty of muscle and could live without any extra.

Prior to 2008 I did minimal upper body weight training at the gym, mainly assisted pull ups and dips. But I spent hours on treadmills and elliptical machines.

This year I have been too busy to spend 7+ hours a week doing cardio. I have consequently reduced my cardio workouts to 30 min per day, 5 days a week (or less). I partially make up the difference by walking to my shuttle stop for work (about a mile each way), rather than taking public transportation.

In addition to less intense cardio activity, last summer I began a serious upper body weight lifting regimen. I spend significant time in the weight room using free weight for shoulders, arms, back and abs. I am much stronger in almost every way (except cardio endurance) than I was a year ago.

Interestingly, despite the weight loss and increased strength training, my body fat percentage is exactly the same compared to a year ago (actually 0.1% less, statistically insignificant). That means while I lost some fat, I lost a similar proportion of muscle.**

It is impossible to say why the number is exactly the same, but it is an interesting thing to think about. As I mentioned earlier my upper body is noticeably stronger than it was last year, so it can only be assumed that I increased lean body mass on my upper body. However, my arms are still really small, so this probably represents a tiny percentage of my total weight.

Conversely, my legs (and, um, rear) are substantially smaller (about a size and a half at my favorite denim retailer), so based on my results I would assume that I have lost muscle in my legs because of the drop in strength-building (resistance) cardio work. The added walking does contribute to my cardiovascular fitness, but probably does not add new muscle.

Therefore my hypothesis is that my muscle mass was somewhat redistributed and my total body fat was reduced. Because I only shrunk in mass (not height) the result is a much leaner appearance overall, even though my fat percentage did not change. Although I was happy with my physique last year, deep down I would have admitted that this muscular redistribution was a goal of mine, so I am very happy with the results.

The moral of the story

If you think you need to diet, stop dieting. If you want to lose weight without gaining too much muscle, do less intense cardio workouts and increase strength training.

Five years ago I would have called you crazy if you told me these things, but seeing is believing.

My goal now is to maintain my weight and body fat, and keep focusing on my healthy diet to fight the diseases of affluence (aka diet): heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and dementia. I hope you join me.

What do you think about my fat and weight loss story?

Click here to read Body Fat Test: One Year Later (part 1)

———-

**I debated for hours whether or not to post my weight and body fat percentage on the internet. I decided not to for the same reason I didn’t post it last year. However, I realize that some of you are info junkies (like me) that would really love a solid number to wrap your brains around. As a compromise, I will send an email with both my weight and body fat as recorded by Fitness Wave (2008 and 2009) to anyone who makes a Paypal donation of $5 or greater to Summer Tomato. The information will be sent to the email address used for the donation unless an alternate address is given. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please email questions@summertomato.com.

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