Research

Here's the latest on what science has to say about fitness, nutrition and overall health.

Is Eating Cholesterol Bad For You?

men-guys-food-naked-shirtless-cooking-apron-ass-gay-TMI-muscle-bulge-cleaning-hot-sexy-cuteCholesterol is one of those things that gets a pretty bad rap. And, in some regards, rightfully so. If you have high levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood (i.e., the bad cholesterol), you’re at increased risk for heart disease.

As such, it only seems logical to think that eating lots of high cholesterol foods would lead to higher levels of blood cholesterol. Conversely, it would make sense that limiting dietary cholesterol would lower blood cholesterol. But, over the years, we’ve discovered that it doesn’t always work like that – just as low fat diets didn’t make us any less fat.

Eggs are a perfect example. In a previously referenced study by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, the consumption of 2-3 eggs per day was found to have little or no impact on blood cholesterol levels in 2/3 of participants. For the other 1/3 of participants, blood cholesterol levels did rise. But the levels of so-called “good” cholesterol increased in proportion to the levels of “bad” cholesterol, so the ratio of good to bad cholesterol stayed the same.

Studies like these have prompted the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the nation’s top nutrition panel, to no longer consider cholesterol as a nutrient of concern. The decision, which took place in December, will likely impact everything from dietary guidelines to school lunches. In other words, this decision has some serious balls.

According to an article in The Washington Post:

The new view on cholesterol in food does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to celebrate with an omelet.

P.S. For a simple, easy guide to transforming the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

Want A Small Waist? Lift Weights.

47a7be52257afIn an effort to lose weight, people tend to emphasize cardiovascular exercise over strength training. You’ll see this all the time at the gym; well-intentioned individuals will spend upward of 45 minutes or an hour jogging on the treadmill.

Can you blame them? It seems logical, right? If you run longer, you burn more calories. And if you burn more calories, you increase your calorie deficit and shed excess fat.

The problem is, things are a bit more complicated than that. By skipping strength training, excessive cardio tends to shed both fat and muscle. Losing hard-earned muscle isn’t a good thing. In addition, excessive cardio can boost levels of a stress hormone called cortisol; a side effect of cortisol is increased fat in the midsection.

Today, I came across a great study by Harvard School of Public Health that examined 10,500 healthy men, aged 40 and over during a 12-year period. Rather than just measuring body weight (which can be misleading), researchers measured waistlines and compared them to participants’ activity levels and exercise type.

According to the data, healthy men who did 20 minutes of strength training per day had a smaller increase in age-related abdominal fat when compared to men who spent the same time doing cardiovascular activities (like jogging on the treadmill). For optimal results, researchers recommend a combination of strength training and cardiovascular activities.

If losing belly fat and decreasing your waist size is one of your fitness goals, take this research to heart and ditch those endless treadmill workouts. Instead, spend 15 or 20 minutes with a high intensity interval training cardio session and then head to the weight room.

Study: Comfort Foods Don’t Bring Comfort.

eat-like-pig-get-rippedIf you just experienced a messy breakup, for example, it might be tempting to seek comfort in the form of your good friends, mac and cheese. But according to a new study, comfort food doesn’t actually make a difference.

Seriously.

In a study published in Health Psychology, researchers first asked participants to indicate their favorite comfort foods. Then, during two lab sessions a week apart, the participants watched depressing movies. After one session, participants were served their comfort food. After the other session, participants were served either an equally enjoyable non-comfort food, a neutral food or no food at all. Researchers measured short-term mood changes to determine the psychological effects of food, rather than biochemical effects such as spiking blood sugar.

The outcome?

Participants who ate comfort foods did feel better. But so did the participants who ate non-comfort foods. And so did the participants who ate no food at all. All subjects got over their bad moods in an equal amount of time.

Researchers speculate that we just start to feel better naturally… and that people may be giving credit to comfort foods where no credit is due.

So the next time you’re not feeling great, know that you don’t need to sacrifice your health or fitness goals to feel better. That bowl of carrots and celery is just as effective as Häagen-Dazs.

P.S. If you need help or guidance to create a meal plan that supports your goals, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

 

Study: Listen To Music During High Intensity Interval Training.

Concept-2-Rower-Male-ImageWe know that music can be a powerful, motivating force in exercise. In fact, I previously referenced a study that found music can boost output by as much as 15%.

Unsurprisingly, most of the research around music and exercise has centered around traditional, steady-state exercise. Such as running on a treadmill at a set speed for 30 minutes. However, more and more exercisers (myself included!) have shifted to high intensity interval training due to it’s many benefits. By alternating between low intensity exercise and bouts of high intensity exercise, participants get more workout bang in a shorter amount of time.

But does music provide the same benefits for high intensity exercisers? When you’re engaged in a high intensity interval at maximum effort, does music even make a difference?

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario set out to answer those questions through a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. For the study, 20 healthy participants with no experience in high intensity interval training were recruited. After establishing a baseline, participants listed their favorite music. The participants then completed one high intensity interval workout with music, and another without. The output was then compared between the two workouts.

Regardless of music, participants felt that each workout was equally challenging. Despite that, output was significantly higher during the music workout. In other words, participants were able to work much harder – even though it didn’t feel like it.

Whether music distracts you from discomfort, motivates you to move or just makes exercise more fun, it can be an important tool to use during your workout.

P.S. To try my high intensity interval training workout, download Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Workout! You can do it right from the comfort of your home. But don’t be fooled… you’ll sweat like you’ve never sweat before!

 

Sore Muscle Treatment: More Movement.

muscle-sorenessWhen I injured my hamstring a few years back, I was prescribed a common treatment called RICE – standing for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

However, new research by the same man who coined the term RICE shows that the treatment merely delays healing by reducing inflammation. In fact, the body’s inflammation response is important to the healing process. By icing an injury, an important hormone is blocked. You’ll still heal, but it’ll just take about a half day longer.

A half day can make a huge difference for competitive athletes who need to be ready for game day. For the rest of us, a half day won’t really matter much. And though icing can delay healing, it still helps reduce discomfort. For some people, that could be a worthwhile tradeoff.

But for faster healing results, the researchers recommend movement without pressure. If you injured your legs running, for example, taking a leisurely walk could actually help; it’ll keep blood flowing to your damaged muscles and boost recovery.

Moreover, the researchers found that anti-inflammatory or pain reliever drugs also delay healing.

As it turns out, our wise bodies are better suited for healing on their own.

P.S. Interested in getting a strong, lean and defined six pack? Download Davey Wavey’s Six Pack Program to get started with five 12-minute ab workouts!