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Wie deine Körperzusammensetzung zu einem starken Immunsystem beiträgt

By Muscle, Nutrition

Die Bedeutung eines starken Immunsystems wird in Anbetracht der derzeitigen Gesundheitssituation offensichtlicher denn je. Eine ausgewogene, vitamin- und proteinreiche Ernährung, regelmäßige Bewegung und ausreichend Erholung spielen in diesem Zusammenhang eine wesentliche Rolle.

Doch wie stelle ich nun fest, ob die zahlreichen Maßnahmen und Bemühungen, die ich unternehme, um mein Immunsystem zu stärken, auch Früchte tragen? Und in welcher Verbindung steht meine Körperzusammensetzung mit dem Immunsystem?

Auf diese Fragen werden wir im Folgenden genauer eingehen.

 

Das Immunsystem stellt das Abwehrsystem unseres Körpers dar.

Es schützt uns vor Krankheitserregern und hilft darüber hinaus bei der Regeneration von Infektionen. Da unser Körper täglich den Einflüssen von Viren und Bakterien ausgesetzt ist, ist unser Immunsystem ständig damit beschäftigt, uns vor diesen zu schützen. Ist das Immunsystem stark genug, werden die Erreger abgeschwächt und unsere Gesundheit kann gewährleistet werden.

Um sicher zu gehen, dass wir alle auf dem gleichen Stand sind, müssen wir vorab noch zwei Fragen klären:

Kann ich mein Immunsystem überhaupt gezielt beeinflussen?

Unser Immunsystem besteht aus einem angeborenen und einem erworbenen Immunsystem. Während das angeborene Immunsystem für die Bekämpfung von allgemeinen, körperfremden Erregern da ist und nicht beeinflusst werden kann, dient das erworbene Immunsystem der Abwehr von spezifischen, körperfremden Erregern und ist durch den individuellen Lebensstil beeinflussbar!

Was bedeutet „Körperzusammensetzung“? 

Aus der Anthropologie sind unterschiedliche Modelle bekannt, um den menschlichen Körper in seiner Struktur aufzuteilen. Dabei hilft das Modell der Körperkompartimente. Diese Körperkompartimente stehen für die verschiedenen Gewebe und Flüssigkeiten im menschlichen Körper. Das Ein-Kompartiment-Modell kennen wir von unserer Badezimmer-Waage, denn es betrachtet unseren Körper als Ganzes und befasst sich somit lediglich mit dem Gesamtkörpergewicht. Eine qualitative Aussage über das Immunsystem und mögliche Gesundheitsrisiken ist über das Ein-Kompartiment-Modell nicht möglich, da nicht erkannt werden kann, woraus unsere gesamte Körpermasse besteht.

In der modernen Therapie und Forschung setzt man daher auf das Vier-Kompartiment-Modell, welches unseren Körper in Wasser, Fett, Proteine und Mineralien unterteilt:

Ein genauer Einblick in diese einzelnen Kompartimente deines Körpers ermöglicht es dir, durch individuell angepasste Maßnahmen, dein Immunsystem zu stärken.

Im weiteren Verlauf erfährst du Genaueres darüber, wie deine Körperkompartimente mit dem Immunsystem in Verbindung stehen und wie du somit gezielt an der Stärkung deines Immunsystems arbeiten kannst.

Muskulatur

Unsere Skelettmuskulatur steht in direkter Verbindung mit unserem Immunsystem. In einer Studie wurde festgestellt, dass bei Personen mit einer höheren Skelettmuskelmasse auch eine höhere Anzahl an Immunzellen im Blut vorliegt*1. Umgekehrt belegen zahlreiche Studien die negativen Auswirkungen einer geringen Skelettmuskelmasse, wie ein erhöhtes Risiko für Diabetes Typ 2, Osteoporose und Herz-Kreislauf-Erkrankungen*2 – unsere Todesursache Nr.1.

Die positiven Effekte unserer Muskulatur auf das Immunsystem kommen insbesondere bei körperlicher Aktivität zum Vorschein, denn eine erhöhte Muskelaktivität führt zu einer verstärkten Ausschüttung von Myokinen. Die Myokine sind hormonähnliche, körpereigene Botenstoffe mit unterschiedlichen, positiven Einflüssen auf den gesamten Organismus. Grob zusammengefasst: Sie fungieren als Entzündungshemmer, verbessern den Stoffwechsel und tragen zum viszeralen Fettabbau bei (der Quelle für Entzündungsreaktionen und zahlreiche Folgeerkrankungen).

Das ist wirklich nur eine Zusammenfassung der zahlreichen Effekte von Myokinen. Wenn du mehr über die vielfältigen Aufgaben der einzelnen Myokine erfahren möchtest, findest du diese in der folgenden Infobox.

Myokine sind biochemisch gesehen Interleukine. Interleukine spielen eine wichtige Rolle bei der Regulation von Entzündungsprozessen im Körper. Da entdeckt wurde, dass sie teilweise nicht von den Immunzellen, sondern von den Muskelzellen hergestellt werden, wurden sie „Myokine“ (für „Muskel“ und „Bewegung“) genannt. Es sind bislang einige Interleukine bekannt, die bei körperlicher Aktivität durch die Aktivierung von Muskelzellen ausgeschüttet werden. Besonders gut erforscht sind in dieser Hinsicht die Interleukine IL-6, IL-8 und IL-15.

Neben den positiven Effekten der Myokine wurde bei regelmäßigem Training eine starke Zunahme an T-Zellen – den Immunzellen unseres erworbenen Immunsystems – festgestellt. Die Anzahl an erschöpften T-Zellen sank dagegen*3. Auch das ist wieder nur ein kleiner Ausschnitt des aktuellen Forschungsstandes, doch auch die anderen Effekte deuten darauf hin, dass ein regelmäßiges moderates Training dazu beiträgt, die Stärke unseres Immunsystems zu verbessern oder aufrechtzuerhalten.

FAZIT:

Eine höhere Muskelmasse und eine Aktivierung der Muskulatur hat also – im Gegensatz zu einer geringeren Muskelmasse – zahlreiche positive Effekte, welche zu einer Stärkung des Immunsystems beitragen! Damit einhergehend wird das Risiko für zahlreiche Folgeerkrankungen verringert.

 

Fett

Im vorherigen Abschnitt wurde es schon einmal erwähnt, das viszerale Fett.

Unser Körperfett wird nämlich in subkutanes und viszerales Fett unterteilt. Während sich das subkutane Fett unter der Haut befindet und als „Hüftgold“, „Speckröllchen“, … – wie auch immer man es nennt -, zum Vorschein kommt, ist das viszerale Fett mit bloßem Auge kaum sichtbar.

Das viszerale Fett befindet sich nämlich in der Bauchhöhle und dient dem Schutz der inneren Organe sowie als Energiereserve. Gerade in früheren Zeiten nahm es während längeren Hungerperioden eine wichtige Rolle ein. Heutzutage ist allerdings aufgrund von Nahrungsüberschuss und Bewegungsmangel eher das Gegenteil der Fall. Wir essen zu viel bzw. „das Falsche“ und lagern überschüssige Energie als viszerales Fett ein. Im Gegenzug bewegen wir uns zu wenig und unser Körper hat nicht die Möglichkeit, das viszerale Fett wieder loszuwerden. Zusätzlich spielt der Stress noch eine wesentliche Rolle dabei. Der viszerale Fettanteil wird also immer mehr, ohne dass wir es wirklich merken. Dagegen beschäftigen wir uns eher mit unseren „Speckröllchen“, also dem subkutanen Fett. Und das ist meist frustrierend, „denn man kann ja nicht gezielt Fett verlieren“.

Worauf wollen wir nun hinaus?

Gerade eine zu hohe Einlagerung von viszeralem Fett bringt gesundheitliche Risiken mit sich.

Der aktuelle Forschungsstand zeigt, dass insbesondere das viszerale Fett im Gegensatz zum subkutanen Fett mehr Entzündungsbotenstoffe aussendet und damit die Funktionen des Immunsystems beeinträchtigt*4. Weitere Untersuchungen belegen, dass ein zu hoher viszeraler Fettanteil darüber hinaus ein erhöhtes Risiko für zahlreiche Folgeerkrankungen wie Diabetes Typ 2, Bluthochdruck, Herz-Kreislauf-Erkrankungen, usw. mit sich bringt*5.

Ein normaler viszeraler Fettanteil erfüllt dagegen gesundheitsförderliche Aufgaben für den Körper. Er enthält Immunzellen des angeborenen und erworbenen Immunsystems und dient als Energielieferant für unser Immunsystem. Darüber hinaus produziert es Adipokine und weitere Stoffe, welche bei der Bekämpfung von Infektionen hilfreich sind. Erst ein zu hoher viszeraler Fettanteil bringt dieses Gleichgewicht ins Schwanken und die Adipokine nehmen eine gesundheitsschädliche Funktion ein.

Auch wenn der viszerale Fettanteil über einen ungesunden Lebensstil zwar schnell zunimmt, kann dieser über einen gesunden Lebensstil (ausreichend Bewegung, gesunde Ernährung und Erholung) aber auch schnell wieder reduziert werden.

Das viszerale Fett weist nämlich eine höhere Stoffwechselaktivität auf als das subkutane Fett – insbesondere als das Fettgewebe an Hüften und Gesäß (weshalb sich der Fettabbau besonders bei Frauen dort häufig schwieriger gestaltet). Hinzu kommt, dass zunächst die Größe der Fettzellen abnimmt, während deren Anzahl dagegen stabiler ist. Da die Fettzellen des viszeralen Fettgewebes mit am größten sind, kann dieser Fettanteil schneller verringert werden. Es ist also nicht ganz richtig, wenn man sagt „man kann nicht gezielt Fett verlieren“, denn auf den viszeralen Fettanteil haben wir einen Einfluss.

FAZIT:

Ein zu hoher viszeraler Fettanteil schwächt unser Immunsystems und führt zu einem erhöhten Risiko für zahlreiche Folgeerkrankungen! Ein gesunder viszeraler Fettanteil dient dagegen als Energielieferant für unser Immunsystem und hilft bei der Bekämpfung von Infektionen.

 

Und auch der Zusammenhang dieser beiden Kompartimente konnte wissenschaftlich belegt werden. So geht ein hoher viszeraler Fettanteil in Verbindung mit einer geringen Skelettmuskelmasse ebenso mit einem erhöhten Risiko für zahlreiche Folgeerkrankungen wie Diabetes Typ 2, Fettstoffwechselstörungen, einer Fettleber und Bluthochdruck einher*6.

Körperwasser

Die Ausgeglichenheit unseres Körperwassers spielt eine wesentliche Rolle für unser Immunsystem. Das Körperwasser ist unter anderem für den Transport zahlreicher Substanzen verantwortlich. Und wie aus den vorherigen Abschnitten deutlich wurde, müssen für ein starkes Immunsystem nun mal zahlreiche Substanzen (Immunzellen, Botenstoffe, …) durch unseren Körper transportiert werden.

Auch Untersuchungen belegen, dass ein ausgeglichenes Körperwasser für die Bekämpfung von Infektionen von besonderer Bedeutung ist. Daher heißt es auch immer „ausreichend trinken!“, denn bei einem ausgeglichen Körperwasser können unsere Zellen mit wichtigen Nährstoffen versorgt und Abfallstoffe dagegen entsorgt werden. Umgekehrt wurde gezeigt, dass eine Dehydration, aber auch Wassereinlagerungen (Ödeme) sehr ernst zu nehmende Ursachen für die Entstehung und Entwicklung von Krankheiten darstellen*7.

Ist unser Körperwasser unausgeglichen, können unsere Zellen nicht optimal versorgt werden und unser Stoffwechsel wird beeinträchtigt. Daraus resultiert, dass unseren Muskelzellen die Proteine fehlen und der Muskelaufbau eingeschränkt ist. Andererseits können die Überreste verbrannter Fettzellen nicht abtransportiert werden. Werden also eine höhere Skelettmuskelmasse und ein geringeres viszerales Fett angestrebt, ist ein ausgeglichenes Körperwasser dafür von Vorteil.

Unser Körperwasserhaushalt kann über eine ausgewogene Ernährung und die Devise „ausreichend trinken!“ verbessert werden. Aber auch ein aktiver Lebensstil und die Kräftigung der Muskulatur sowie bereits bestehende Erkrankungen haben einen Einfluss auf unser Körperwasser.

FAZIT:

Die Ausgeglichenheit unseres Körperwassers spielt eine wesentliche Rolle für ein starkes Immunsystem! Ein unausgeglichenes Körperwasser, durch eine Dehydration oder Ödeme, beeinträchtigt dagegen unseren Stoffwechsel und folglich unsere Gesundheit.

 

Aus den vorherigen Abschnitten geht hervor, dass an einem starken Immunsystem also eine Vielzahl an Stoffen beteiligt ist. Hinzu kommen zahlreiche Vitamine, Mineralien und Spurenelemente, die unser Körper für ein gutes Immunsystem benötigt. Doch nicht allein das Vorhandensein dieser Nährstoffe ist für unser Immunsystem essenziell, denn sie müssen in unserem Körper auch verstoffwechselt werden – und zwar in unseren Zellen.

Damit unser Immunsystem effektiv arbeiten kann, ist ein intakter Stoffwechsel von besonderer Bedeutung. Unser Körperwasser sorgt zunächst dafür, dass alle wichtigen Stoffe zu unseren Zellen transportiert werden, wo sie dann im letzten Schritt verstoffwechselt werden. Es ist also auch eine intakte Zellmembran erforderlich, damit die zahlreichen Nährstoffe in unsere Zellen hinein- und Abfallstoffe hinausgelangen können.

An dieser Stelle fragst du dich vielleicht, wie wir über den Zustand dieses so kleinen Bestandteils unseres Körpers mehr erfahren können?

Dazu gibt es einen sehr bedeutsamen Parameter.

 

Phasenwinkel

In der Medizin und Forschung wird er bereits vielseitig eingesetzt, für die meisten ist er allerdings noch unbekannt: der Phasenwinkel.

Der Phasenwinkel kann mittels bioelektrischer Impedanzanalyse, einer Körperanalysemethode, ermittelt werden und gibt Auskunft über den Gesundheitszustand unserer Zellen. Je größer der Phasenwinkel ist, desto gesünder und intakter sind die Zellmembranen. Ein niedriger Phasenwinkel ist hingegen ein Zeichen für geschädigte Zellmembranen und geht mit zahlreichen Erkrankungen einher*8.

Durch eine ausgewogene Ernährung und einen aktiven Lebensstil kann der Phasenwinkel und somit der Gesundheitszustand unserer Zellen verbessert werden.

FAZIT:

Für ein starkes Immunsystem werden intakte Zellmembranen benötigt. Darüber gibt der Phasenwinkel Auskunft. Ein niedriger Phasenwinkel steht für ein schwaches Immunsystem und geht mit einem erhöhten Risiko für zahlreiche Erkrankungen einher. Ein hoher Phasenwinkel steht dagegen für eine gesunde Zelle und somit ein starkes Immunsystem!

So und nun noch einmal ganz zurück zum Anfang:

„Wie stelle ich nun fest, ob die zahlreichen Maßnahmen und Bemühungen, die ich unternehme, um mein Immunsystem zu stärken, auch Früchte tragen? Und in welcher Verbindung steht meine Körperzusammensetzung mit dem Immunsystem?“

Diese Fragen konnten mit diesem Beitrag hoffentlich für dich beantwortet werden. Hier noch einmal eine kurze Zusammenfassung für dich:

Unsere Muskulatur, unser viszerales Fett, unser Körperwasser und der Zustand unserer Zellen haben einen starken Einfluss auf unser Immunsystem.

 

Damit du also ganz gezielt an der Stärkung deines Immunsystems arbeiten kannst, solltest du zunächst über deine eigene Körperzusammensetzung Bescheid wissen. Mit einer professionellen Körperzusammensetzungsanalyse kannst du deine Skelettmuskelmasse, deinen viszeralen Fettanteil, dein Körperwasserverhältnis sowie den Gesundheitszustand deiner Zellen bestimmen lassen. Anhand einer Verlaufskontrolle kannst du dann natürlich auch ganz leicht feststellen, ob die Maßnahmen, die du unternimmst, auch Früchte tragen.

Hier findest du detaillierte Informationen welche der oben genannten Parameter bei einer InBody Messung erhoben werden.

 

Sie sind Betreiber einer Gesundheitseinrichtung und interessieren sich für die Thematik?

Wie Sie Ihre Patienten und Kunden zeitgemäß aufklären und welche Bedeutung haben die Gesundheitsparameter, die bei einer InBody Messung erhoben werden, haben wir für Sie aufgearbeitet und zusammengefasst.

Studienüberblick und Anwendung in Form des digitalen Applikationspapiers zum Thema „Einfluss der Körperzusammensetzung auf das Immunsystem“ kostenlos anfordern:

Applikationspapier Immunsystem

Literaturverweise

*1
Mariani, E., Ravadlia, G., Fort, P. et al. (1999). Vitamin D, thyroid hormones and muscle mass influence natural killer (NK) innate immunity in healthy nonagenarians and centenarians. Clin Exp Immunol 116, 19–27.

*2
Hara, N., Iwasa, M., Sugimoto, R. et al. (2016). Sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity are prognostic factors for overall survival in patients with cirrhosis. Internal Medicine, 55, 863-870.

Lim, S., Joung, H., Shin, C. S. et al. (2004). Body composition changes with age have gender-specific impacts on bone mineral density. Bone 35 (3), 792-798.

Sampaio, R. A. C., Sampaio, P. Y. S., Yamada, M. et al. (2014). Arterial stiffness is associated with low skeletal muscle mass in Japanese community‐dwelling older adults. Geriatrics & Gerontolgy 14 (1), 109-114.

Tajiri, Y., Kato, T., Nakayama, H. et al. (2010). Reduction of skeletal muscle, especially in lower limbs, in Japanese type 2 diabetic patients with insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders 8 (2), 137-142.

Yamada, M., Nishiguchi, S., Fukutani, N. et al. (2013). Prevalence of sarcopenia in community-dwelling Japanese older adults. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 14 (12), 911-915.

*3
Simpson, R. J., Kunz, H., Agha, N. & Graff, R. (2015). Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science 135, 355-380.

*4
de Heredia, F. P., Gómez-Martínez, S. & and Marcos, A. (2012). Chronic and degenerative diseases. Obesity, inflammation and the immunesystem. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 71, 332–338.

*5
Barroso, T. A., Marins, L. B., Alves, R. et al. (2017). Association of Central Obesity with The Incidence of Cardiovascular Diseases and Risk Factors. International Journal of Cardiovascular Sciences 30 (5), 416-424.

Gruzdeva, O., Borodkina, D., Uchasova, E., Dyleva, Y. & Barbarash, O. (2018). Localization of fat depots and cardiovascular risk. Lipids in Health and Disease 17, 218.

Janochovaa, K., Haluzika, M. & Buzgab, M. (2019). Visceral fat and insulin resistance – what we know? Biomed P ap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub. 163 (1), 19-27.

Mancuso, P. (2016). The role of adipokines in chronic inflammation. ImmunoTargets and therapy 5, 47–56.

Shafqat, M. N. & Haider, M. (2018). Subcutaneous to visceral fat ratio: a possible risk factor for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy 11, 129–130.

*6
Shida T., Akiyama, K., Oh, S. & Sawai, A. (2018). Skeletal muscle mass to visceral fat area ratio is an important determinant affecting hepatic conditions of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Gastroenterology 53, 535–547.

*7
Calder, P. C., Carr, A. C., Gombart, A. F. & Eggersdorfer, M. (2020). Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System is an Important Factor to Protect Against Viral Infections. Preprints, 2020030199. 

Köhnke, K. (2011). Der Wasserhaushalt und die ernährungsphysiologische Bedeutung von Wasser und Getränken. Ernährungsumschau 1, 88-95.

Leach, R. M., Brotherton, A., Stroud, M., Richard Thompso, R. (2013). Nutrition and fluid balance must be taken seriously. BMJ 346.

Pober, J. S., & Sessa, W. C. (2014). Inflammation and the blood microvascular system. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 7 (1).

Schrier, R. W. (2007). Decreased Effective Blood Volume in Edematous Disorders: What Does This Mean? J Am Soc Nephrol 18, 2028–2031.

*8
Buter, H., Veenstra, J. A., Koopmans, M. & Boerma, C. E. (2018). Phase angle is related to outcome after ICU admission; an observational study. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, 1-6.

Lee, Y-H. et al. (2017). Bioelectrical impedance analysis values as markers to predict severtiy in critically ill patients. Journal of Critical Care 40, 103-107.

Mullie, L. et al. (2018). Phase Angle as a Biomarker for Frailty and Postoperative Mortality: The BICS Study. Journal of the American Heart Association (7) 17.

Rimsevicius, L., Gincaite, A., Vicka, V. et al. (2016). Malnutrition Assessment in Hemodialysis Patients: Role of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Phase Angle. Journal of Renal Nutrition 26 (6), 391-395.

Sarmento-Dias, M., Santos-Araújo, C., Poínhos, R. et al. (2017). Phase angle predicts arterial stiffness and vascular calcification in peritoneal dialysis. Perit Dial Int 37, 451-457.

Shin, J., Kim, C. R., Park, K. H. et al. (2017). Predicting clinical outcomes using phase angle as assessed by bioelectrical impedance analysis in maintenance hemodialysis patients. Nutrition 41, 7-13.



What to Eat In Order to Gain Muscle

By Muscle, Nutrition

So you started working out and lowered your overall body fat.

First off, congratulations should be in order!

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight  despite life’s occasional curveballs is something that you should be proud of. The positive changes in your body composition is proof that your efforts have finally paid off!

So where do you go from here?

Your next goal may be one of the following:

I want a huge, action star physique.

I want to achieve a leaner, more athletic look.

I want to increase my functional strength and achieve new PR’s in my lifts

Whether your goal is gaining strength or sculpting your body to your desired physique, the approach boils down to same thing — gaining muscle.

Eating for Well-Defined Muscles

As previously discussed in an article published about how much muscle you can gain in a month, the three main pillars of muscle growth are: nutrition, exercise, and hormones.

In this article, we’ll put the spotlight on nutrition and address your most frequently asked questions about what to eat in order to build muscle.

Let’s get started!

People use lean body mass and muscle mass interchangeably. Are they similar or different from each other?

Yes, lean body mass and muscle mass are two different things.

Essentially, all muscle is “lean” meaning it is primarily composed of proteins, which are lean. However, things start to get more confusing when some folks use lean body mass and skeletal muscle mass interchangeably.

Lean body mass (LBM), also known as lean mass, refers to your total weight minus all the weight comprised of fat mass. This includes your organs, your skin, your bones, your body water, and your muscles.

On the other hand, skeletal muscle mass (SMM) is a part of your LBM, but it is the part that is referring to the specific muscles used that are controlled voluntarily to produce movement and maintain posture. When you’re thinking about gaining muscle, you are actually referring more specifically to your SMM. This is what we want to track and here’s why:

Apart from changes in your SMM, a gain in your LBM numbers can also be a result of water gain. Water gain can occur from bloating or eating salty foods but also from swelling from injury or disease. That’s why you cannot attribute a increase to LBM numbers completely to muscle gains.

You can learn more about the distinction between the two in Lean Body Mass and Muscle Mass: What’s the Difference?

Now that we cleared that up, let’s dig into the facts and findings about muscle gains through diet and nutrition.

Is the hype about protein justified when it comes to bigger muscle gains?

Yes, to an extent. It’s an established fact that eating high quality protein within close temporal proximity (immediately before and within 24 hours after) of resistance exercise is recommended to increase muscle gains.

The strain of repetition when you perform resistance exercise tears the muscle fibers, and the protein intake (although macronutrients like carbs and fat play a role, too) provides the resources to rebuild the newly torn muscles into something bigger and stronger.

It’s also worth noting that amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and as you most likely already know, your muscle is made up of these macronutrients. As we’ve emphasized in Why Everyone Needs Protein — Think of your muscles as the house itself while the amino acids that make up protein are the bricks.

The good news is that your body can manufacture a huge chunk of these amino acids. The not-so-good news is that some of them, also known as essential amino acids (EAA), can’t be made by the body. You have to get your EAAs from food sources.

In short, you need to follow a high protein meal plan that contains mixed amounts of these EAAs to help ensure increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS)

How do I know if I have enough protein intake to promote MPS?

As of June 2017, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4–2.0 g protein/kg body weight/day (g/kg/d) for building and maintaining muscle mass. Remember, your specific dietary needs depend on the amount of muscle mass you have as well as the type and intensity of your physical activity

With these figures in mind, let’s say you weigh 125 pounds (57 kilos), and you’re working to increase your LBM.  You would need 57 x 1.4- 2.0, or 79.8 – 114 grams of protein a day.

This may sound like a lot but it’s not. A cup (140 grams) of chicken contains 43 grams of protein.   Meanwhile, a can of tuna can contain as much as 49 grams.  Eating a cup of chicken and a can of tuna, you’d almost entirely meet your protein needs.  If you add in a glass of 2% milk (another 9-10 grams of protein), you’ve already hit your goal.

Below is a rough dietary guideline based on activity level:

  • 0.8-1.2 g/kg for regular activity
  • 1.2-1.5 g/kg for endurance athletes
  • 1.5-1.8 g/kg for strength/power athletes

If counting grams of protein for the day is not your thing, researchers have recommend an intake of about 20-40 grams of whey protein following a heavy bout of whole body resistance exercise to promote greater muscle recovery. The results stressed that the traditional 20 grams of whey supplement after working out did not promote as much MPS as the 40 grams of protein.

Can I build more muscle from eating too much protein?

Not really.

Researchers found that eating five times the recommended daily allowance of protein has no effect on body composition in resistance-trained individuals who otherwise maintain the same training regimen. That means that doubling or tripling your protein intake doesn’t translate to greater muscle gain after exercise.

It’s also worth noting that this is one of the first interventional study to demonstrate that eating a high protein meals does not result in an increase in fat mass.

Will too much protein hurt my kidneys?

While protein restriction may be appropriate for treatment of existing kidney disease,  some research has shown high protein intake in healthy individuals to not be harmful to kidney function.  Unlike extra stores of fat that the body is so keen about in holding on, the amino acids in protein are more likely to be excreted via the urine when not in use.

With that in mind, there are certainly risks associated with consuming too much protein so it’s wise to keep your intake in check.

So what our conclusion here? Eating more protein makes you feel fuller longer, can help curb overeating, and is essential for recovery and growth but don’t forget equally important nutrients like carbohydrates and fats for proteins when hitting your daily caloric goals (we’ll address this issue later).

Meat is often considered an excellent source of protein. So should I eat more meat to gain muscle? What if I’m on a plant-based diet?

Good question!

Sure, meat provides complete sources of proteins that are rich in essential amino acids so it truly is an excellent source of protein.

In a small study comparing  the effects of resistance training-induced changes in body composition and skeletal muscle among two groups — older men with an omnivorous (meat-containing) diet and those with lacto-ovo vegetarian (meat-free) diet, the researchers found that the omnivorous diet resulted to greater gains in fat-free mass and skeletal muscle mass when combined with resistance training than the vegetarian-diet group.

Another study of 74 men and women who had type 2 diabetes — one half on a vegetarian diet and the other half on a conventional diabetic diet — were assessed at three and six months to measure how much weight they had lost. The study concluded that the vegetarian diet was almost twice as effective at reducing weight compared with the conventional diet.

But here’s the caveat — The greater weight loss seen in people on the vegetarian diet was also accompanied by greater muscle loss, particularly when maintaining their normal exercise routine. This might be an unwanted outcome and a disadvantage when compared with the omnivorous diet.

Finally, another research study examining the relationship between the type of protein intake and the level of muscle mass in healthy omnivorous and vegetarian Caucasian women found:

“A vegetarian diet is associated with a lower muscle mass index than is an omnivorous diet at the same protein intake. A good indicator of muscle mass index in women seems to be animal protein intake.”

Take note, however, that these findings do not automatically mean that animal protein is necessary to develop muscle mass.

As we mentioned in this in-depth article on whether or not you need to eat meat to gain muscle, the findings indicate that vegetarians might have a harder time getting adequate protein intake. As a result, they may not be receiving the same quality of amino acid variety to support muscle maintenance/growth as meat-eaters. This issue can be addressed by adding more variety in your diet or through supplementation.

So what about my intake of carbs and fat?

If you want to build muscle, increasing your dietary protein intake makes sense. However, this doesn’t mean that you should disregard carbs and fats.

For one, carbohydrates help replace glycogen and aids in enhancing the role of insulin when it comes to transporting nutrients into the cells, including your muscles. Combining protein and carbs also has the added advantage of limiting post- exercise breakdown and promoting growth.

In a nutshell, a diet balanced in protein, carbs, fats, and fiber is the most effective way to build muscle.

How about the ketogenic diet? Can it help me gain more muscle mass?

Most likely.  The main premise of a ketogenic diet is to opt for high fat, moderate protein, and a very low carb diet.

In an 11-week study of men who performed resistance training three times a week, the researchers found that lean body mass increased significantly in subjects who consumed a very low carb, ketogenic diet (VLCKD). Significant fat loss was also observed amongst the VLCKD subjects.

Does “when I eat” if I want to build muscle?

For decades, the idea of nutrient timing (eating certain macronutrients at specific times like before, during, or after exercise) and meal scheduling has sparked a lot of interest, excitement, and confusion.

A good example of nutrient timing is the idea of the anabolic window, also known as a period of time after exercise, where our body is supposedly primed for nutrients to help recovery and growth.

However, a review of related literature revealed that while protein intake after workout helps muscle growth, it may persist long after training.

If you’re going to ask the ISSN,  meeting the total daily intake of protein, preferably with evenly spaced protein feedings (approximately every 3 h during the day), should be given more emphasis for exercising individuals.

They also state that ingesting a 20–40 g protein dose (0.25–0.40 g/kg body mass/dose) of a high-quality source every 3 to 4 hours appears to favorably affect MPS rates over other dietary patterns, which allows for improved body composition and performance outcomes.

In short, it’s more important to focus on the total amount of protein and carbohydrate you eat over the course of the day than worry about nutrient timing strategies.

The Takeaway

In summary, here’s what you need to remember when it comes to eating in order to gain muscle:

  • Muscle gains are hard to come by if you don’t complement your exercise training with the right nutrition. Besides acting as fuel for physical activity, eating right helps in muscle recovery and development of new muscle tissue.
  • Pay special attention to your protein intake in order to build muscle. Helpful figures to remember are 1.4–2.0 g protein/kg body weight/day (g/kg/d) depending on your body composition, activity type, and activity intensity.
  • There’s been a lot of talk about a specific amino acids and anabolic (muscle-building) superpowers. However, it’s still important to consume different sources of protein when you can and not just focus on a single protein source. Plus, remember that your body needs carbs and fat too.
  • Do not worry about when is the best time to eat your steak. Eating a portion of lean protein with some fiber-rich carbs and fat every meal is a good way to help your body repair and rebuild muscle after resistance exercise. As much as possible, increase make sure to complement your exercise with the appropriate nutrients to promote muscle recovery and growth.
  • If you’re on a plant-based diet, make sure you’re incorporating a wide variety of protein-rich plants to ensure that you’re getting the full range of amino acids. You may have to consider plant-based protein powder supplementation.

Remember, people have different goals when it comes to working out and gaining muscle  — from aesthetics to improved sports performance to feeling better about yourself. That means there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Whatever your goal, it all begins with one small step at a time. What changes are you going to make today?

***

Kyjean Tomboc is a nurse turned freelance healthcare copywriter and UX researcher.  After experimenting with going paleo and vegetarian, she realized that it all boils down to eating real food.

Source: https://inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/what-to-eat-in-order-to-gain-muscle/

How To Not Hate Dieting

By Diet, Health

If you’re here, you probably hate dieting. For many people, simply the word “diet” brings feelings of misery.

A “diet” for a lot of people means: “I’m going to develop the self-control of a monk, start eating low-calorie, healthy foods that I don’t like, cut out unhealthy foods that I do like, and starve myself.”

No wonder so many people fail! But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If your goal is to make long-term changes to your body composition, then yes, you need to accept the principle that unless you have some type of medical condition affecting your metabolism, you need to use more calories than you get from your food. This is called a caloric deficit. It’s real, it works, and science has backed it up forever.

"How To Not Hate Dieting": how to create a caloric deficit

But losing body fat doesn’t have to be severe dietary restrictions and starvation. If you make smart nutritional choices, adopt healthy eating habits, and incorporate enough exercise, you can still eat the foods you like, and make long-term improvements to your body composition.

Seriously. Let’s take a look.

You Really Don’t Need To Starve Yourself

extreme portion control diet

Going on a diet usually means eating less than you usually do, but losing the unwanted fat you gained over time doesn’t mean you have to stop eating, skip meals, or starve yourself.

To illustrate, let’s take a look at what happened to a group of people who actually were starved: the participants of Ancel Keys’ famous Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a brief history lesson: In the 1940s, the Allied powers were pretty sure they were going to defeat Hitler in Europe, and they needed to know how to deal with a starving European continent once the war was won. In order to do that, they needed data on what happens when people starve and are later re-fed.

36 healthy volunteers were selected to go on a yearlong starvation experiment that consisted of 3 months overfeeding, 6 months near-starvation, and 3 months refeeding/recovery.

Did they lose weight? You better believe they did: roughly 25% of their body weight, gone in 6 months.

What happened here? How did they lose so much body weight so quickly? The same way everyone loses body weight: by being in a caloric deficit. However, the deficit the experiment participants experienced was very extreme.

After adjusting their bodies to 3 months of a 3,200-calorie/day meal plan, their diets were uniformly slashed to 1,570 calories a day, a reduction of about 1,630 calories. But they weren’t allowed to just sit around; the participants were further required to walk 22 miles a week AND expend 3,009 calories a day.

"How To Not Hate Dieting": Increase in exercise and extreme decrease in calories

We’ll do the math for you: that’s a caloric deficit of nearly 1,500 calories a day, or 10,000 calories a week.

That’s about triple the caloric deficit required to lose a pound of fat per week, which is an achievable goal.  The starvation diet in the Minnesota study was anything but healthy and came with the following starvation-related side effects:

  • Increased weakness
  • Increased feelings of introversion
  • Increased irritability/impatience with others
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Obsession with food

You don’t want any of these effects, nor do you need to experience them.  A caloric deficit of approximately 500 calories/day has been shown to be effective, especially for initial fat losses.

How you achieve that caloric deficit doesn’t have to be extreme either, which brings us to the second point…

Choose a Caloric Deficit That Works For You

There are two ways to create a caloric deficit: cutting calories from food and increasing your activity level. In the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, both methods were used to create that drastic caloric deficit.  You can do the same (although there’s no reason to go to the extreme like in the experiment). Here’s how:

Calculate the number of calories your body burns at rest, also known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Online calculators exist that will estimate this for you, and some methods of body composition analysis can also estimate your BMR.

Take your BMR and multiply it by 1.2 (this being the conversion rate for a sedentary person. If you have an active job or already exercise and are maintaining your weight, you’ll multiply it by a higher factor). For example, let’s say your BMR is 1631 calories; a rough estimate of your total caloric needs would be around 2,000 calories to maintain weight.  Shave off 500 calories for the caloric deficit, and the caloric balance each day to lose a pound of body fat per week will be around 1,500 calories a day.

Now here’s the part where you get to make a decision by choosing a calorie-reducing strategy that works for you. How will you create this 500-calorie reduction?

You really do have a choice in the matter. In a study of overweight people, participants were made to create an overall 25% energy reduction. The first group achieved this reduction entirely through caloric restriction; the other achieved it with a 12.5% reduction in food intake and an increase of 12.5% in energy use due to exercise (equaling a 25% reduction in energy).

Both groups lost 10% of their body weight and 24% of their Fat Mass, with the researchers concluding that it didn’t matter whether you simply cut calories or cut calories and exercised: what mattered was the total energy deficit.

This isn’t to say that effort the exercising group made was completely useless – the researchers found aerobic benefits to their exercise – or that strength training should be avoided during fat loss since it’s been shown to preserve muscle. What it does mean is for fat loss, you have some choices on how you want to achieve it.

"How To Not Hate Dieting": Increase in exercise with a slight decrease in calories

For example, if you already feel like you are eating very little, cutting 500 calories from your meal plan might be extremely difficult for you.  You can make up the bulk of your caloric reduction by increasing the energy you expend throughout the day.

You could also go the alternate route.

"How To Not Hate Dieting": Small increase in exercise

If you think you can the bulk of your calories from your meal plan without with a small increase in the exercise you already do, that’s also an option.

The point is when it comes to weight loss, one size doesn’t fit all, and if you follow a program that isn’t designed for you and is too hard to stick with, the chances you’ll quit are high.

But before you start cutting everything out of your diet that you like to eat…

Choose Things That You Want To Eat and Eat Them

Really.

Don’t just cut everything you’ve ever enjoyed eating out of your life with a buzzsaw.  It’s not completely necessary and can actually work against you.

Think of your daily caloric intake as a budget, and your caloric deficit is the “money” put away for a vacation.  If you stay within your budget, after a period of saving, you get to go on a trip.

So long as you stay within your budget, it doesn’t always matter how you spend the rest of your money. So it is with calories. You don’t have to cut out everything you like to keep your diet, and here are a couple of truths that can keep you motivated.

  • Fat isn’t your enemy

For decades, it’s been common knowledge that a high-fat diet leads to obesity.  Fat used to be at the top of the food pyramid, something that you ate only sparingly.  Well, it turns out that those high-carb/low-fat diet rules may have been sabotaging your efforts for years.

While this doesn’t mean you can overeat fatty foods, this does mean it’s OK to incorporate healthy fats in your diet and still reach your goals. Bring on the avocados and olive oil! (just be careful about the high-calorie foods – you still need a caloric deficit).

  • High-protein diets can make you feel fuller/help you eat less

Often dismissed as a concern of bulky bodybuilders and powerlifters, eating foods high in protein can actually go a long way in helping you lose fat properly.  That’s because foods rich in protein have been shown to have a positive effect on feeling full.

If you include healthier, protein-rich foods in your diet, you might have an easier time sticking to your diet while you enjoy meat, fish, eggs, and other protein-dense foods.

You Don’t Have To Hate Dieting

You will hate dieting if you go about it the wrong way.  What’s the wrong way? Going too extreme on any part of it.

You do not need to starve yourself and then slave away at the gym.  Even though reaching rapid weight loss goals might sound appealing, if you actually go through with it for an extended period of time like the participants in the Minnesota experiment, you can wind up feeling depressed, tired, and unmotivated.  Remember those participants committed to their diet full-time because it was their way of contributing to the war effort.

You can find a nutrition plan/exercise balance that works for you and your lifestyle.  For some people, dieting alone may be effective, but these people more than likely have increased metabolisms because they have a lot of muscle. Trying to lose fat by purely cutting calories can be very difficult if you have a smaller metabolism. Instead, strike a balance between diet and exercise.

You do not need to go on an extreme diet where you skip meals or cut out an entire macronutrient group out of your diet (some people demonize fat; others, carbs. You need both these nutrients).  While low-carb diets have been shown to be an effective plan for weight loss, this doesn’t mean you have to go on an Atkins-style diet and cut out your morning whole-grain bagel. It’s not a sustainable long term nutrition plan and will likely make you feel miserable in the long run without these vital nutrients.

It may take a little bit of planning to find a diet that works for you, but if you’re looking to make positive changes in your body composition and lose fat, bear these things in mind, stick to them, and you will start seeing results!

 

Source: https://inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/97278337-how-to-not-hate-dieting/

The Top 3 Reasons Diets Fail (and how to stay on course)

By Diet

If you recently decided to focus on losing excess weight, you probably noticed a small burst of motivation after choosing what your diet and training plans would look like. That sense of finally moving in the right direction…it can be pretty exciting.

And it should be! Make no mistake: making healthy choices about the quality and quantity of the food that you eat is a huge part of becoming a healthier version of yourself.

But the reality is the actual long-term success rate of diets is dismal. Sometimes people dive into their diets only to give up on them within weeks. What’s worse, studies have shown that only 1 in 5 people are successful at keeping the weight off in the long run. That means 80% of people fail to achieve their health goals. Is it simply a case of a lack of discipline? No!

A lot of people are making mistakes, and without proper guidance and education, chances are you too may end your fitness journey frustrated.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the most common reasons that diets fail and explores strategies to help you push through those barriers and get closer to becoming a happier, healthier you.

1. Poorly Defined Goals

Having a dietary plan in place is a great place to start–as long as you have realistic expectations and clear goals. Now, before we dive into this, let’s get one thing out of the way: ideally, health and wellness is a journey, not a destination. The pursuit of a healthier mind and body is something that never truly ends and should simply become a way of life.

But…embracing that way of life isn’t easy. And expecting someone who’s never had to worry about nutrition or training regimen to become a health nut overnight is unrealistic. That very mentality is the foundation for why so many diets fail (but more on that later).

The average first-time dieter is going to be looking at an uphill battle. Yes, they’ll have to combat all of their old habits and temptations. And sure, making a health-oriented lifestyle second nature is a tall order. But if we really want to know what really ruins people’s efforts, we need to take a look at the glaring flaw in most nutrition plans: the lack of clearly defined goals.

It may sound obvious, but many people begin fitness journeys with only the vaguest of goals, which sets them up for potential failure, especially in the long-term.

  • Clearly Define Success

If you ask the first-time dieter, they might say that they want to lose 20-30 pounds or ‘look good in a swimsuit’ in 30 days. Setting these types of goals are a common mistake. Most people typically don’t have reasonable expectations on how long it will take to make substantial changes. By setting unrealistic, vague goals you are setting yourself up to fail. If you want to ensure your success, you need to understand not only where you stand right now in terms of body composition, but where you want your body composition to be in the future.

To put things simply: how can you expect to hit a target when you don’t know exactly what you’re aiming for?

That’s where an understanding of your body composition comes in handy.

Once you understand how much Lean Body Mass and Fat Mass you have, you’ll be in a better position to tackle the next important question: which do you want to address first?

Your body will have an unique response to different programs. Whether you decide to focus on fat loss first or developing Lean Body Mass, the key is that you create a goal-oriented plan that can keep you on track.

Additionally, dieting is more than just figuring out what you should be eating. The ideal diet has to be paired with a series of realistic, achievable goals that you can measure.  What gets measured gets managed, and vague goals are the bane of any successful training plan. The more well-defined your goal is, the easier this journey will be for you.

Instead of saying you want to ‘get stronger’, focus on gaining 5 pounds of muscle. Instead of wanting to ‘look good in a bikini’, focus on losing 10 pounds of fat. Not only does this help as a way to keep you motivated and consistent throughout the process, this subtle change in mentality can actually have a massive impact on the overall effectiveness of your training.

You’ll be able to avoid increasing your Fat Mass while adding those extra 5 pounds to your Lean Body Mass. On the flip side, you can avoid losing muscle (which can have some pretty disastrous consequences , even more so as you age). The real power of keeping track of your progress is that you’ll constantly be aware of what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can improve.

  • Track Key Milestones

So now that you’re tracking your body composition, you’ve clearly defined a goal and you’ve chosen an approach. These are all powerful concepts, but the glue that will hold them together is the use of milestones en route to that goal.

Milestones matter because they help you celebrate small successes on your fitness journey. They’re the answer to the question of ‘how do I keep myself on track for the next 3 months?’ Losing 10 pounds of Fat Mass is going to take quite a bit of work and time, so it helps to track smaller accomplishments along the way.

When you create a list of milestones, you’ll have built a roadmap for your fitness journey. Once you understand what your goal looks like, each milestone can be used to keep you charging in the right direction. Beyond that, they give you the opportunity to make health and wellness second nature over time.

What do realistic milestones look like, from a body compositional standpoint? These will vary for everyone, but generally speaking, someone who creates a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day (a 3,500 calorie weekly deficit) stands to lose 1 pound of body fat per week, or 4 pounds a month if the diet is “perfect” all month.

It gets tricker to set muscle milestones, because there are so many factors that contribute to effective muscle gain. However, assuming you’re new to muscle-building, one realistic estimate is that you can add about two pounds of muscle per month, with this number decreasing over time as you continue to lift.

If you really want to make being healthy a habit, create a series of milestones and you’ll have more than the undeniable proof that what you’re doing just isn’t working–you’ll be on your way to making health a priority in your life.

2. The Expectation of Perfection

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big when it comes to diet and exercise. We should all strive to want to be the strongest, healthiest versions of ourselves. However, envisioning something for your future and expecting it virtually overnight is not a recipe for success.

Many times people aspire to some idealized expectation of perfection, and so they set unrealistic goals, like dropping 30 pounds in 2 months. This is a mistake.

By nature, diets tend to be restrictive. In fact, most diets are designed with the intent of planning out each of your meals for you. The idea is that by erasing the need to think about what your next meal will look like, you’re more likely to make the right choice and stick to your diet.

Of course, that works perfectly well on paper. But in the real world, it’s hard to be perfectly consistent. The reality is mistakes will be made, and that’s OK. Your birthday/anniversary is coming up. Grandma will be offended if you don’t eat her famous chocolate cake. Or you are stuck at a event that lacks healthy food choices. These are just a few situations that diets aren’t really designed to account for.

Here’s what’ll usually happen. More often than not, you’ll have a person who wants to stick to their diet but can’t for some unavoidable reason. The issue here is that they then tend to fall into the trap of saying “well, I already messed up lunch. I’ll just make today a cheat day and start again tomorrow.”

Unfortunately, a cheat day can quickly turn into a cheat week and slowly but surely, people are completely off track. Think of this as the ‘New Year’s Resolution Effect’. Trying to take on too much, too soon is tough enough, but expecting everything to go perfectly according to plan can be a recipe for disaster.

This expectation of perfection is more than just unrealistic. It has the potential to undermine the average person’s health journey and, worse, make them think that they’re incapable of dieting properly.

So, how do you avoid this dieting trap? Simple: stop expecting perfection.

To clarify, if you want to have a successful diet, stick to the script as best you can. But the occasional cheat day won’t undo weeks or months of training and dieting. You need to be willing to forgive yourself for any mistakes that you make along the way.

Just remember that moderation is key here. A cheat day once a month is one thing, but a cheat weekend can get out of control quickly. Once that cheat day is over, you need to be ready to tackle tomorrow with the same intensity as before.

3. An Imbalanced Approach

This is arguably the easiest mistake to make when it comes to your health and wellness journey. And the worst part? This issue might seem minor, but it can have a massive impact on your results. So, what is this mysterious issue we keep alluding to? Imbalance.

One of the most common issues that you’ll notice with a person just getting started on their fitness journey (and even seasoned veterans) is a lack of balance between diet and exercise when it comes to their approach.

Some people are guilty of making their diet a priority and neglecting their physical training. Others are guilty of putting all the focus on their physical training without paying too much attention to the quality of their diet. No matter which side of the imbalance an individual is on, that person’s results and progress will suffer.

Without proper training, expecting your body to increase lean body mass and decrease fat mass by itself is wishful thinking, at best. Study after study has shown that the most effective way to help your body build lean mass and lose fat mass is through a regularly implemented strength training regimen AND an optimized diet.

For those of you who think they can just start some type of exercise plan and see results, think again. If you want to hit those milestones that you’ve planned out and actually improve your body composition, you’ll need to have a diet that allows you to improve it. Specifically, you need to be following a diet that falls in line with your current body composition and body composition goals. How can you do that?

We’ve covered the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) hacking approach in-depth before, but here’s the abridged version: By determining your BMR using your Lean Body Mass, you’ll be able to calculate how calories your body needs on a daily basis to keep you alive. This is critical.

Once you have that information, you can start thinking about your caloric needs in terms of planning a diet by converting your BMR into your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Your TDEE is a general estimate of how many calories you body uses during the day, and you can use it to plan out your diet.

Are you trying to optimize your diet for weight loss? Then you’ll need a caloric deficit. Trying to gain Lean Body Mass? You’ll need to go beyond your typical caloric needs. Knowing your body composition and having a clearly defined goal means that you can use tools like BMR diet-hacking to get results sooner and more consistently than ever before.

Staying Consistent

Keep in mind that building new habits and improving your health is not going to be simple. Even if you’re able to take these lessons to heart and overcome these three common obstacles, you’ll still face unexpected difficulties. Dieting, training and the overall journey towards becoming a healthier you will almost certainly be a challenging experience. But if you’re ever in a tough spot, keep in mind the overall theme of these solutions.

The tangible solutions of creating milestones, discarding the expectation of perfection, and having a balanced approach to your diet and training all have one thing in common: They’re built on the understanding that, at the end of the day, you’re a human being

People make mistakes and poor choices. And change is anything but easy. Accepting how hard this journey is going to be is the first step to actually completing it. The second step? Realizing that you CAN do this if you set yourself up for success and arm yourself with the knowledge to reach your goals.

***

Brian Leguizamon is a content marketing specialist. Brian has worked with Shopify, Gigster and a bunch of startups you’ve never heard of. When he’s not working, you’ll find him at his local gym, waiting for the squat rack to open up

Source: https://inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/the-top-3-reasons-diets-fail-and-how-to-stay-on-course/

What Happens to Your Body During Cyclic Overeating

By Diet

Just one piece, you think.

It’s been a long day, and you’re craving chocolate. And you know there’s a bag of dark chocolate waiting in the pantry for you. So you decide to eat just one to take the edge off of your hectic day.

But 15 minutes later, you’re sitting in front of the TV with an empty bag and a full stomach. You needed something salty to balance out the sweet, so you popped open a bag of chips to eat, too.

Sound familiar?

Most people binge occasionally, and it’s nothing to really be ashamed of – food tastes good, and self-discipline isn’t always easy to maintain. While not everyone who binges occasionally has full-fledged binge eating disorder, many people do show signs of food addiction.

Food addiction is characterized by symptoms including loss of control over the consumption of food, continued intake/binging despite negative consequences, and the inability to cut down despite a desire to restrain/refrain. It is a relatively new and somewhat controversial topic because there isn’t conclusive scientific evidence that clearly identifies the addictive properties of foods. The main problem is that food supports life and everyone eats, which prompts many professionals to discount the concept.

Rather than assuming that all foods are addictive, some scientists propose that certain foods are more addictive than others, especially foods rich in fat and/or sugar. These calorie-dense and delicious foods typically are the ones that become self-labeled “bad” foods. This often leads to causing a restriction/avoidance response that may be followed by a binge cycle, which then results in cyclic overeating– which can be classified clinically as an eating disorder.

It is often considered that for both mental and hormonal health, overeating may have its benefits; however, if it becomes a cyclic issue, food addiction can damage your metabolism and cause negative changes to your body composition.

Your body composition is the balance of fat and fat-free mass (like muscle and bone)- you need to keep these two variables balanced in order to reduce your risk of various health conditions. This is why important to understand how cyclic overeating can affect your body composition- it can negatively impact both weight and health goals.

Why are people addicted to food?

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to stop eating your favorite snacks, you’re far from alone.

Susceptibility to food addiction is somewhat genetic, but many modern foods are also engineered specifically to make you want more. These “hyperpalatable” foods are concocted by flavor chemists in a way so that they surpass the reward properties of traditional foods. In other words, eating a potato chip will release more reward centers in the brain than eating a baked potato.

Salty, fatty and sugary foods tend to be the most addictive types of foods. In fact, though the scientific evidence isn’t quite conclusive in humans, sugar is thought to be as addictive as many drugs. And it doesn’t help that food addiction involves the same areas and many of the same chemicals in the brain as drug addiction does.

But it’s not just that modern foods are engineered to taste good: To binge is to be human. We are hardwired to love the taste of fat, salt, and sugar because those nutrients were calorie-dense and provided energy storage that aided in survival before we had food as we know it today.

High-calorie, fatty foods gave our ancestors the energy reserves needed to survive famines. Salt increases water retention, which helped them stave off dehydration. And our preference for sugar helped lead us to nutritious fruits and berries.

Humans’ natural preferences for these flavors and textures were once essential for survival.  But in a world where palatable foods are readily available and often inexpensive, those preferences can become unbeatable cravings. Often, we eat food just because it’s there and it tastes oh so good.

Unfortunately, humans haven’t quite figured out how to deal with the excesses of modern living. And this is why we can’t count on our instincts alone to maintain a healthy body weight—it requires constant and conscious effort.

A healthy, balanced body composition requires a balance in the intake of both micro and macronutrients. When we overeat, we expose ourselves to the risk of various diseases due to excess body fat and changes in our hormones.

What happens to the body when you overeat?

Every meal you eat – regardless of macronutrient composition – triggers dopamine release. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical associated with feelings of happiness and reward. However, meals higher in fat and sugar tend to trigger larger releases of the hormone.

When you overeat, especially those kinds of foods, you probably tend to feel fantastic… at first. When the rush of a binge wears off, most people experience an overwhelming and uncomfortable fullness, accompanied by a side of guilt or shame.

In addition to those unfavorable emotional effects, some pretty unfavorable things are going on inside your body, too.

First, binge eating is usually characterized by fast and uncontrolled eating, which can be detrimental to your metabolism and your heart health. This uncontrolled food intake is associated with obesity and future susceptibility to metabolic syndrome, a condition that often leads to cardiovascular disease.

Second, with binge eating, your pancreas goes into overdrive, releasing larger-than-normal amounts of insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance which, in the long-term, can be harmful to your metabolism. When you suffer from insulin resistance, your cells don’t absorb nutrients as they should and you end up prone to a host of conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more.

After a binge, your system is overloaded with a rush of calories, sugar, and fat. In addition to causing hormone and energy levels to fluctuate, this significant excess of calories promotes fat storage, inflammation, and digestive discomfort (think bloating and constipation).

These nearly instant consequences aren’t exactly favorable, but the outlook gets even worse if overeating is consistent. Cyclic binging results in hard-to-reverse changes to metabolism. Hunger and fullness cues are thrown off, making one think they’re hungry when you’re not and causing you to overeat further.

Dopamine becomes down-regulated, meaning you need more food to feel the same amount of pleasure as, say, a few months ago. Changes in leptin levels promote further fat storage. Your gastric capacity can increase, which means you may need more food to feel full.

Additionally, you can disrupt your circadian rhythm and induce depression: two factors that make it a lot easier to want to stay in bed all day, avoid exercise, and eat even more junk food.

You can probably gather how all of these consequences combined can drastically alter your body composition for the worse. If prolonged, cyclic overeating can cause negative changes to body composition such as increased fat mass- this leads to an increased risk for the development of long-term health and disease risks.

Why do people binge eat?

It’s no surprise that a common and powerful trigger of binge eating is restrictive dieting.

This type of selective diet is a feasible weight-loss method in the short-term because such a controlled program of calorie intake makes it easier to prevent overeating. The problem is that extreme restriction is not sustainable. If you’re like most people, you can only say “no” to your favorite foods for so long.

Though common, restrictive dieting isn’t the only reason people binge. Many people use food as an emotional crutch, overeating when they have high-stress levels, are bored, sad, or excessively tired. Our brains and bodies are already conditioned to crave addictive foods. When we want to get our minds off of something, cravings can become overpowering.

You might think that being addicted to food isn’t the worst thing: At least you aren’t addicted to drugs, right? While that’s a valid justification, food addiction is still an addiction and ridding yourself of addictive behavior toward any substance – even food – will improve your quality of life all around. Overcoming food addiction comes with physical health benefits in addition to an improved mental health state, namely reduced risk to diseases and improved body composition.

Recognizing that you have addictive behaviors and thoughts about food is the first step in the right direction. Wanting to change your diet for the better is a good thing for both mind and body.

How to avoid binges and overcome food addiction

Fortunately, there’s a better way to eat healthy than confining yourself to a short list of “good” foods.  Instead, you can occasionally eat all the foods you like- as long as you are balancing your diet and regulating portions. This is a great way to control bingeing: If you never feel deprived of foods you like, even sugary treats, you’re less likely to develop an uncontrollable desire to obtain those rewards to the brain that these foods can provide.

If that method doesn’t work for you, you can actually train your taste buds to like whole, natural foods as much as they like processed ones. It’s a sad truth that most of us are desensitized to the sweetness of fruit due to excessive amounts of dietary sugar, but it can be undone.

Another tactic is “crowding out” – instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on eating enough healthy foods that you don’t even have space for binge-worthy ones. Remember that it’s often the volume our stomachs want, not the calories. If you fill up on meals chock-full of nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, you’ll be way less likely to binge later on.

Some scientists suggest quitting junk food cold-turkey, but for many people, that method just increases the risk of the restrict-binge cycle.

You should take the time to identify trigger foods: those “can’t-have-just-one” foods. For many people, trigger foods come bagged or boxed and are easily over-eaten because they pack a lot of calories into just a few handfuls. Any product that causes you to feel a loss of control while eating – no matter how slight the feeling is – is a trigger food.

Food journaling can help you identify triggers. Try keeping a meal (and snack) log for a few days and write down how you feel after eating each meal or snack. It can be as simple as one word. For example, writing “sluggish” a few minutes after eating a chocolate bar as your afternoon snack. See that enough times, maybe you’ll realize the reward that you get when eating the chocolate isn’t worth the feeling you get afterward.

Meal prepping also helps exponentially because it results in less decision-making for you. Plus, you probably won’t want to waste the food you spent time, money and effort to prepare.

Different methods work for different people, so spend some time experimenting to find the best tactics for you.

Remember, binge eating is something that is controlled by your brain. Creating healthy eating habits and replacing some of these “rewarding” behaviors can help you overcome the binge eating process.

Addictive food doesn’t have to rule you (or your body composition)

Understanding the changes that happen to your body when you overeat is helpful for making healthier decisions. Food addiction and compulsive overeating lead to a whole host of problems, both mental and physical, that can permanently alter your health habits.

Weight gain, changes to your metabolism, hormonal fluctuations, and changes in the size of your organs are all effects of cyclic overeating that can lead to an unfavorable body composition and long-term health risk.

It’s easy to point fingers at big-name manufacturers, but before people realized what processed foods were doing to our health, it was all well-intentioned business – make better food, make more sales. Now that we know the consequences, however, many brands are changing their practices and procedures to put out healthier products.

Being aware of these healthier food products and paying attention to what you eat can help you overcome addictive behaviors toward food. Identifying trigger foods and emotional factors – such as stressful day at work or a fight with your significant other – can also help you overcome the urge to binge.

Remember that what works for one won’t always work for another. Some people find success in restricting and even eliminating trigger foods from their homes completely, while others can learn to enjoy them as an occasional treat by finding activities they enjoy to take the place of binging. For example, next time you feel the urge to finish a sleeve of Oreos, go outside and take a walk. On your walk, think about all the possible reasons why you might want those cookies.

In time, you’ll come to some realizations and conclusions about your food behavioral choices.

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Amanda Capritto is a certified personal trainer and health coach who writes about nutrition, fitness and healthcare. A journalism alumna of Louisiana State University, Amanda spends her free time adventuring outdoors, hitting the gym, and encouraging people to live balanced, healthy lifestyles.