Category Archives: Food & Diet

Eating low-carb meals after exercise

fruits and veg

Nutrition and fitness research is finally gaining traction. I say “finally” because the industrial food system’s assault on our diets is 30-40 years in the making. As the field of food science grows (pardon the pun) more information that is useful for our day to day becomes available. A recent example comes from a food and exercise study in the The Journal of Applied Physiology. Click here for a free PDF of the report.

The researchers had a group of men engage in exercise, manipulated their food intake post-exercise and then took various measures of metabolism. Specifically, they focused on insulin sensitivity, a measure of the body’s ability to take up sugars (carbs) and transform them into energy used by the muscles. They discovered that when the participants ate relatively-low carb meals after exercising they exhibited higher insulin sensitivity. Essentially, eating more fruits, vegetables and proteins (and less carbohydrates) after exercising helps your body becomes more efficient at using the carbs/sugars in ways that are more productive and beneficial (i.e. muscle-based energy expenditure, as opposed to the storing of sugars that eventually become fat).

This is a great example of how malleable our bodies and it’s systems are. When we pay just a little attention to our behaviors and habits, and add in small changes we can have a potentially profound effect on our health, fitness and well-being.

Take-away message: Regular exercise is important, but what you eat after exercise also matters. Veggies! Fruit!

*EDIT (May, 23 2010): I wanted to clarify that the notion of eating more fruits and vegetables after exercise is probably a better idea for folks using exercise to lose weight or just stay in shape. If you are someone exercising frequently and doing so at high intensities for long periods of time (i.e. training for a marathon) the dietary recommendations may be different. See Runners World for a good breakdown on dietary recommendations for non-elite runners/athletes.

School-based obesity intervention also increased math performance

University of Miami researchers implemented a 2-year multidimensional obesity intervention that included food service personnel, teachers, parents, community-based nutrition educators, and the children. They found that in the children who receive school-provided lunches that more students who received the intervention stayed within the healthy body mass index (p=.02) AND improved their math performance (p<.001) in comparison to student who did not receive the intervention.

Not actual lunch from the study

While the researchers could not identify exactly why the academic scores improved, their results suggest that improving nutrition may be an investment with returns in many areas. It seems that the First Lady and her efforts to reduce and prevent obesity may do more than just improve the health of our nation. It may also represent a much needed adjustment to the education system as well!

The body-mind connection will not be denied!

Saturated fats elicit immune response: Chronic inflammation

New research findings published in Cell Metabolism suggest that high saturated fatty acids found in food like sausages, bacon, salami, cakes, cookies, pastries, chocolate and cheese, can cause low level chronic inflammation. The research demonstrates that the inflammation response is due to the fact that saturated fatty acids are also found in the cell membrane of bacteria. The immune system is treating fatty foods as if it is a foreign/harmful bacteria. Essentially, overeating foods high in saturated fat is on par with having a constant low-grade bacterial infection.

Not only do saturated fats clog arteries, add to body weight in fat and increase the risk of developing diabetes, but they also elicit chronic inflammation (which exacerbates nearly all medical conditions). Unfortunately, “America Runs on Dunkin”…