Study Review: Yo Yo Dieting Doesn’t Lower Cancer Risk

Health, Nutrition, Study, Weight Loss No Comments »

“Yo yo dieting” is the phrase used to describe the results of typical starvation diets: whatever weight you lose, you gain it (or more!) back as soon as you start eating normally.

A study from Colorado State University looked at yo yo diets – they called it Weight Cycling – and found that dropping a lot of weight and then gaining it back is no protection against cancer risk.

Here’s the citation if you want to read the study yourself:

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Nov;4(11):1736-42. Epub 2011 Oct 7.
Weight cycling and cancer: weighing the evidence of intermittent caloric restriction and cancer risk.
Thompson HJ, McTiernan A.
Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University

The abstract concludes: “Collectively, the data argue against weight cycling and indicate that the objective of energy balance-based approaches to reduce cancer risk should be to strive to prevent adult weight gain and maintain body weight within the normal range defined by body mass index.”

I repeat, to reduce cancer risk strive to prevent weight gain!

It’s like the classic advice that the best way to lose weight is to not gain it in the first place.

So instead of crash dieting, the best way to protect your health is to focus on finding a healthy way to eat that will lower your body weight into a healthy range and allow you to keep it there, without yo-yoing up and down.


Fitness Study: Rubber Bands For Strength And Balance

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Last week I took part in a small study for an 8th grade friend of mine’s science project.

He timed how long I could:

  • Stand On One Leg
  • Stand On One Leg With My Ears Plugged
  • Stand On One Leg With My Eyes Closed

Now, I’d done a tough leg workout that morning, but my times were about 3 min, 3 min, and 1 min.  So obviously I rely on my eyes for a lot of my balance.

But, could wearing one of those fancy Power Balance bracelets (a rubber wristband with a “magic” hologram sticker) improve my scores?

According to a recent study… no.

Researchers at the University of Texas tested Power Balance bands on measures of strength, flexibility, and balance.

From the abstract: “The results indicate that the Power Balance® bands did not have an effect on strength, flexibility, or balance.”

Here’s the reference for my fellow science geeks:

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Oct 24.
Effect of the Power Balance® Band on Static Balance, Hamstring Flexibility, and Arm Strength in Adults: The Lifespan Wellness Research Center.
Verdan PR, Marzilli TS, Barna GI, Roquemore AN, Fenter BA, Blujus B, Gosselin KP.
Source:  Department of Health and Kinesiology, The University of Texas at Tyler

In Australia, the makes of Power Balance had to admit that there is absolutely no support for their claims.  The bands continue to sell well elsewhere though.

If wearing a magic rubber band makes you feel better, do it.  Just know that any improvements come from your increased confidence, not from any “harmonious frequencies.”



Study: Eat More Protein, Lose More Weight

Nutrition, Study, Weight Loss No Comments »

This is an interesting study: Increasing protein intake improves weight loss and glucose metabolism in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Researchers compared a high protein diet (more than 40% of calories) to a standard protein diet (15% of calories).

After 6 months, the high protein group lost more weight and more body fat, and lost more off of their waists.

And as a bonus, the higher protein group improved glucose metabolism, which will help with further weight loss.

The Take-Home Message is: Bump up your protein intake to lose more weight and lose more off your waist.

Here’s a link to the abstract: Increased Protein Intake For Women With PCOS

Study Corner: Endurance Vs. Intervals, Effect On Anaerobic Capacity

Exercise, Interval Training, Study 1 Comment »

According to Wikipedia:

Anaerobic exercise is exercise intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass. Muscles energy systems trained using anaerobic exercise develop differently compared to aerobic exercise, leading to greater performance in short duration, high intensity activities, which last from mere seconds up to about 2 minutes. Any activity after about two minutes will have a large aerobic metabolic component.

A study from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan compared the effects of 6 weeks of traditional aerobics training to high intensity interval training.

The aerobic group exercised at 70% of their maximal aerobic uptake for 60 minutes 5 days a week during the study. At the end of 6 weeks the endurance group did not increase their anaerobic capacity and only increased their aerobic capacity slightly (from 53 to 58 ml/kg/min).

The interval training group also exercised 5 days a week during the 6 week trial. Their workouts consisted of 7-8 sets of 20 second sprints, followed by a 10 second recovery. After the 6 weeks, this group increased their aerobic capacity slightly MORE than the aerobics group (7ml/kg/min increase for the sprint group compared to 6ml/kg/min for the aerobics group). The interval training crew also increased their anaerobic capacity by 28%!

Let’s compare total exercise time for the two groups over the six week study:

6 weeks x 5days/week x 60 minutes = 1800 minutes

6 weeks x 5 days/week x 4 minutes = 120 minutes

So… in less than one tenth the time, the interval group beat the aerobic group in both aerobic and anaerobic improvement!

Hooray science!

If you’re interested in checking out this study, here’s the citation:

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1327-30.
Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.
Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K.

And here’s a link to the abstract: Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max

Study Time: Amenorrhea, Bone Density, And Gymnasts

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A study from Deakin University in Australia looked at a history of amenorrhea in gymnasts and later-life bone density.

Why do a study like this? Female gymnasts often become afflicted with hypostrogenism (low estrogen) from extreme training couple with the need for low body weight. This leads to issues such as late menarche (first menstrual cycle) or menstrual dysfunctions.

The Deakin University study compared gymnasts who had amenorrhea during their competitive years to gymnasts who did not.

Results? There was no difference in spinal bone density between the two groups, but the peripheral skeleton (arms, legs, pelvis) showed decreased mineral content in gymnasts who had had amenorrhea.

This is surprising because the high impact nature of gymnastic training should lead to a greater bone mineral content later in life (the study didn’t compare non-gymnast women, it is possible that even lowered bone mineral density in amenorrheic gymnasts – compared to non-amenorrheic – may still be greater than the bone density of women who were sedentary with normal menstrual cycles during the same competitive age).

So steps should be taken to prevent amenorrhea in competitive gymnasts to provide for bone health later in life.

Here is the citation for this study:

Bone. 2009 Oct;45(4):760-7. Epub 2009 Jun 30.
History of amenorrhoea compromises some of the exercise-induced benefits in cortical and trabecular bone in the peripheral and axial skeleton: a study in retired elite gymnasts.
Ducher G, Eser P, Hill B, Bass S.

For pre-pubescent gymnasts, it is certainly true that gymnastics training leads to greater bone density/greater bone cross-section (depending on the site) compared to normal school children:

Bone. 2005 Jun;36(6):1012-8.
Bone geometry and density in the skeleton of pre-pubertal gymnasts and school children.
Ward KA, Roberts SA, Adams JE, Mughal MZ.

The bone problems associated with amenorrhea come with reaching puberty then. Is a different sport the answer?


Even though runners and gymnasts have menstrual problems at about the same rate, gymnasts have a higher bone density than the runners do. So soccer, track, cross-country, etc would have a higher risk of lowered bone density in later life than a gymnastics career:

J Bone Miner Res. 1995 Jan;10(1):26-35.
Gymnasts exhibit higher bone mass than runners despite similar prevalence of amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea.
Robinson TL, Snow-Harter C, Taaffe DR, Gillis D, Shaw J, Marcus R.

Repeat: being a gymnast is fine, it is amenorrhea that causes problems.

How to prevent amenorrhea in your Carson City Gymnast? Here are a few tips:

First, you need to know the causes of amenorrhea: Nutrition-related and lifestyle-related causes of amenorrhea include too much exercise (especially endurance exercise such as running or cycling), losing excessive weight, excessive weight gain, eating disorders, poor nutrition, and too low body fat. Other causes of amenorrhea in gymnasts include stress, anxiety, hormone imbalance, the use of certain forms of contraception, and endocrine disorders.

So… stay away from all of that.

Extreme weight loss from starving/crash diets can cause amenorrhea. The solution here is to keep weight in the correct range (for a gymnast) so that crash restrictions are not necessary.

Also, supplement with iodine or make sure to eat plenty of wild-caught, small seafood and lots of seaweed. (Note: Iodized salt contains iodide, not iodine, so it is not an acceptable substitute)

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Cutting out ALL carbohydrates may help keep weight where it needs to be without starvation, but carbs are necessary for the conversion of T4 to T3 (active form of thyroid hormone) without which organs start shutting down/malfunctioning, and the reproductive system is the first thing to go. Plus, fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients essential for performance and health in other ways.

Cut out dairy. Even organic dairy is full of hormones and chemicals that will influence the reproductive systems. Dairy is an extremely androgenic food, and the hormone imbalances it causes are one of the reasons dairy foods can cause acne. There’s no reason for dairy products to be in a gymnast’s diet. (Worried about bone health? Dark green vegetables and vitamin D are more effective for increasing bone health than dairy products. So there)

STAY AWAY FROM SOY. There is absolutely nothing good about soy. Nothing. And it messes with reproductive health in men and women.

Limit/Ease Stress. Stress halts reproduction: stress from toxic foods, stress from eating disorders, stress from social life, stress from exercise, stress from schoolwork, stress from existential despair… Emotional stress can damage the reproductive system just as much as physical stress. This is a more individual solution. Whatever it takes: more sleep, tutoring, extra family time. Reduce stress to increase your gymnast’s health.


Exercise Study: Skipping Workouts Can Mess With Your Mood

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Skipping your workouts can mess with your mood.

British researchers found that people who skip their workouts for just 2 weeks had significantly negative moods compared to people who continue with their program.

Skip workouts => Be cranky

It might be because stopping your workouts can cause inflammation and other biochemical changes that lead to mood changes.

What’s cool is you can boost your mood again by exercising.  Another study (from the University of Georgia) found that 12 total sets will increase mood-lifting chemicals in your brain.

Here’s the reference to the British study:

Stress. 2011 Jul;14(4):439-47. Epub 2011 Mar 27.
The effects of exercise withdrawal on mood and inflammatory cytokine responses in humans.
Poole L, Hamer M, Wawrzyniak AJ, Steptoe A.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

Fish Oil Research: Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Health And Disease And In Growth And Development

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Our diets today are incredibly deficient in omega-3 fatty acids compared with the diets we were evolved to eat.

Research suggests that we evolved eating a 1:1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s.  Today, even a very healthy diet will have a ratio of 20:1, with unhealthy diets up into the ranges of 100:1!

Thus, the magic of fish oil and other omega-3 supplements isn’t that they ADD something special – it’s that they bring our bodies back into balance so we can have the health, energy, vitality, and weight we were designed to have!

A review study from the Center For Genetics in Washington D.C. looked at supplementation of omega-3s and found some amazing results.  If you are at all interested in your health, you’ll want to take a look at this:

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease platelet aggregation, blood viscosity, and fibrinogen. This means there is less plaque build-up in your blood vessels, which lowers your risk for heart disease and heart attacks.

Omega-3 fatty acids lower LDL (bad) cholesterol – again supporting heart health and proper blood flow.

Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides in both normal people and people with genetic triglyceride problems. (Check out this post: Drop Triglycerides 93.5% in 21 Days!)

There is either no effect on HDL (good) cholesterol or else there is a slight increase when supplementing with omega-3s, so you don’t have to worry about the added fats from fish oil supplements having a negative effect on your HDL.

From the study: “eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the form of fish oils along with antirheumatic drugs improve joint pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; have a beneficial effect in patients with ulcerative colitis; and in combination with drugs, improve the skin lesions, lower the hyperlipidemia from etretinates, and decrease the toxicity of cyclosporin in patients with psoriasis.” Which basically says that fish oil will make almost everything better! :)

Omega-3s have also been shown to decrease the number and size of tumors (cancer fighting) as well as increasing time before tumor appearance (cancer prevention).

DHA is also essential for the normal functional development of the retina and brain, especially in premature infants.

And one final bit of advice from this study: “Because omega 3 fatty acids are essential in growth and development throughout the life cycle, they should be included in the diets of all humans.”

I personally take both fish oil and the more potent krill oil as my omega-3 fatty acid supplements. For more information on krill oil and a great video explaining EPA and DHA, check this out: Krill Oil Explained

Here is the study reference for my fellow research geeks:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 54, 438-463.
Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development
AP Simopoulos
Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, DC.

More Bad News About Soy: Soy Lowers Sperm Concentration

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I’ve written about my personal experience with soy overdosing here: Soy, My Nipples, And Your Health.

And a friend of mine just sent me this study on soy: Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic

Researchers looked at “subfertile couples” undergoing treatment at fertility clinics and found that there is an inverse relationship between soy intake and sperm concentration.

Translation: The more soy you eat, the lower your sperm count.


Soy’s natural defense against being eaten isn’t thorns or poison, it’s much more subtle than that.  When a soy plant is eaten, it makes the animal (humans in this case) sterile to prevent any future eating.

Diabolical, isn’t it!

So the take-home message for today is: Soy really messes up your health.

If you want to find more studies on soy, google any of the abstracts on this page: Survey Says… Soy Is Bad News!

Study Corner: Metabolic Adaptations In Low Volume Sprints Vs. High Volume Endurance

Exercise, Interval Training, Study No Comments »

Ok, today’s scien-tastic study will really appeal to you if you’re pressed for time to work out.  (And who isn’t?!?)

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada compared low volume sprint (interval) training to high volume aerobic (endurance) training.

Without bogging down in too many details (I’ll link to the study at the bottom of this post), the aerobics group worked out at 65% of their maximal oxygen uptake for 40-60 minutes, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks.

The interval training group did 4-6 “all out” 30 second sprints with 4.5 minutes rest between sprints, 3 days a week, for 6 weeks.

Total training time for the aerobic group was 4.5 hours per week.  Total for the interval training group was 1.5 hours per week (with 90% of that time being rest!!).

After the six weeks both groups showed the SAME metabolic changes!

Now, I would have expected the interval training group to be burning more fat, but even though the results were the same, look at the total training time!  90 minutes a week of interval training gave the same fat loss benefits as 270 minutes of aerobics training!

That’s pretty freakin’ cool :)

So, if you want to save time in the gym, start hitting some intervals.  Here’s a step-by-step plan to get you started: Interval Training For Fat Loss

Here’s the citation for today’s study:

J Physiol. 2008 January 1; 586(Pt 1): 151–160.
Published online 2007 November 8.
Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans
Kirsten A Burgomaster,1 Krista R Howarth,1 Stuart M Phillips,1 Mark Rakobowchuk,1 Maureen J MacDonald,1 Sean L McGee,2 and Martin J Gibala1

And here’s a link to the abstract: Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans

Study: Pterostilbene Better Than Reservatol For Preventing Colon Cancer

Health, Nutrition, Study No Comments »

Pterostilbene is a chemical related to reservatol that is found in blueberries and grapes.

Reservatol is being heralded in the media as a magic health potion – that’s one of the reasons that red wine is good for you.

But is there something better than reservatol when it comes to preventing cancer?

A study from the National Kaohsiung Marine University in Taiwain says there is…

Researchers compared reservatol and pterostilbene’s effects on antioxidant signalling pathways for the purposes of cancer prevention.

Both chemicals “significantly enhanced expression of antioxidant enzymes.”

Both chemicals block cellular inflammation and and oxidative stress. (By the way, cellular inflammation and oxidation may be the cause of most modern diseases such as cancer, alzheimers, and obesity)

But pterostilbene is more effective than reservatol in reducing the formation of aberrant crypt foci, lymphoid nodules, and tumors, making it a pterostilbene your best choice for helping to prevent cancer.

Here is the study citation (for my fellow science geeks):

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 23;59(6):2725-33. Epub 2011 Feb 28.
Pterostilbene is more potent than resveratrol in preventing azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon tumorigenesis via activation of the NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-mediated antioxidant signaling pathway.
Chiou YS, Tsai ML, Nagabhushanam K, Wang YJ, Wu CH, Ho CT, Pan MH.
Department of Seafood Science, National Kaohsiung Marine University, Kaohsiung 811, Taiwan.

I make sure to eat plenty of berries over the course of a week to make sure I’m getting some pterostilbene, but I really take my health-protection and cancer-prevention plan to the next level by taking a mega supplement.  The one I take is Genesis by Prograde Nutrition.

I have this greens drink every morning at 4:30am right after I have a mug of green tea.  Click the link below for more info:

Prograde Genesis