Guys, especially teenagers, go crazy over muscle building and try following any advice that comes their way. An often-quoted one includes that, lifting weights breaks down a muscle which then grows stronger or bigger during the repair process. But, is this another myth or a reality?
Over-training to the point of fatigue definitely causes muscle damage, especially to the proteins that comprise muscle fiber. Two types of overload namely, metabolic and mechanical, can stimulate muscle growth. Metabolic overload is the quantity of work done by a muscle that depletes it of its energy supply. Mechanical overload primarily leads to structural damage of the actin-myosin protein filaments due to intense exercises such as weightlifting. The damage to the muscle causes the protein to synthesize new cells that are used to repair the damaged protein fiber.
Proteins-Pillars of Support During/After Exercise
Do you find it harder to zip up your jeans and feel frustrated of putting on weight? There are more dangers lurking on every corner due to increase in belly fat than preventing you from wearing tight-fitting jeans or other fashionable attire! Fat is fair-it can manifest itself in any place in your body. It can make it impossible for you to squeeze your hands through a sleeveless t-shirt, make it harder to remove your finger ring or push yourself into a pair of your pencil jeans and so on. Figure-conscious individuals are worried over every single bulge or flesh protruding out irrespective of the place where it shows up. But, for physicians and health experts, there is one specific area where fat buildup is extremely dangerous and threatening.
Most people associate an expanding waistline with aging which is truer in the case of women whose body fat shifts from hips, arms and legs to the abdomen after menopause. Generally, our body shapes reflect our genes and lifestyle. People accumulate fat in different places and this validates the existence of different body shapes such as pear, apple, hourglass and so on. The two most common ones are apple (weight gets accumulated in the midsection) and pear (bottom-heavy). Men tend to accumulate excess weight on their bellies (might be due to drinking too much beer too :D) while women gain more weight in their legs and bottoms. Post-menopausal women are fatter in the middle section not due to sheer coincidence, but due to decrease in estrogen levels that determine fat distribution in the body. This is also the time during which the risk of heart diseases becomes as profound as a man’s.
Nutritionists, dietitians and physicians worldwide link fat around the mid-section with health defects such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Weight in any part of your body is not got for health, especially abdominal weight. That’s because, the fat is not limited to the extra layer of padding right beneath your skin (subcutaneous fat) but also includes visceral fat which is located right inside your abdomen and sticking to your internal organs. From the outside, the extra layer of tyres surrounding our belly is the only one visible and the visceral fat lying deep inside is not clearly visible but impacts hard on your health. Impact of visceral fat is more pronounced because too much of this fat can produce substances that can raise blood pressure, impact good and bad cholesterol levels, boost estrogen levels and affect the body’s ability to use insulin. That’s the reason why we quote stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other health issues as the consequences of excess belly fat. Diabetes is a dangerous side effect as people lose sensitivity to insulin and the body is pressurized to pump out more. The increase in estrogen levels can elevate the risk of breast and colorectal cancers. There is even research showing that a waist measurement of 35 inches or more in women and 40 inches or more in men are risk factors for the disease. There are even other studies that show that even women with a normal BMI, but a larger waistline have an increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes.
Women are Victimized than Men
A new study has found that accumulation of central adiposity (belly fat) may be worse for women’s heart health than men’s. Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, it involved around 5,00,000 people (almost 55% of them were women) aged 40 to 69 years and living in the United Kingdom. Body measurements of these participants were taken and they were followed-up for a period of seven years. During this period, the study group tracked those individuals who suffered from heart attacks and found that, women who carried more weight around the middle were almost 10-20% at an increased risk of heart attack than women who were heavier all around. Weight around the middle was calculated using waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio and waist circumference) and total body heaviness was measured using body mass index (BMI).
The research also showed that:
Slim or fat, low or high BMI, get your waist measured to see where you stand. BMI or waist-hip ratio can be useful, but your waist measurement indicates your belly fat to the dot! Measure your waist circumference with these steps:
Step 1: Placing the measuring tape at the right location is crucial while measuring waist circumference. Place it around your bare stomach just above your hipbone, almost to the level of your naval.
Step 2: Adjust the tape such that it fits snuggly around you without hurting your skin and ensure that the tape measure is level all the way around
Step 3: Please don’t push in your stomach while taking measurements. Relax, exhale and perform the procedure. What we need is an accurate measure and not some measurement to prove anything to anybody
Step 4: Waist circumference of 35 and above for females and 40 and above for males is an indication of pure trouble. Start exercising, follow a healthy diet and stay active to get lost of your belly fat. For any help, get in touch with an RDN at www.firsteatright.com who can help you with the right kind of diet and exercise charts to lose belly fat.
Given here are few simple ways to bring down your waistline numbers and stay fit:
Maintain a healthy body weight: Every individual’s main aim must be to maintain a healthy body weight. Women are challenged after menopause as they pile upon extra kilograms despite the fact that they eat the same quantity and move around as before. That’s due to drastic hormonal changes, a decline in muscle mass (fat burns less calories than muscles) and lifestyle changes. It’s better that women close to their menopause age get their weights and waists measured and introduce small changes to daily routine that help them stave off the extra kilograms from piling up. Any RDN would recommend any individual that gradual weight loss stays for a long time than rapid weight loss that can slow down metabolism and pile up weights quickly.
Move more: Regular exercising is critical for a healthy body weight and daily physical activity is recommended to keep your waistline in check. There is no mandatory rule that asks you to hit the gym to lose weight. Squeeze in activity whenever and wherever possible. For example, it might be a walk around your office after lunch or before you get into the car at the end of the day. It is advisable to workout at least for 150 minutes every week to stay fit. Try moderate activities such as brisk walking, hiking, gardening and bicycling and vigorous physical activities such as running, jogging, swimming or fast walking. Daily activity without diet changes may not help you lose weight but it helps you maintain a healthy body weight and improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Mind your food: ‘Beer belly’ is a universal term and alcohol is most-often associated with an increased waistline. Avoid alcohol and other sweetened beverages as much as possible to prevent piling up belly fat. Eat more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Substitute saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Mainly, reduce portion sizes and cut back on calories to lose weight.
An extra layer in your belly is a wake-up call to lose weight. When you lose weight, your body too prioritizes on losing belly fat and keeps it top in the list. Even if you lose only 5-10% of your body weight, you can be happy that you have reduced the dangerous layer of belly fat by as much as 30%. A flat stomach with toned abs might not be within your reach instantly, but you can be assured of a healthier body.
Dogs and cats occupy special places in our hearts and for some of us, they are our first love! Despite such care and compassion, sadly almost 80% of dog owners are under the impression that nutrition for dogs and humans is similar and less than 10% of dog owners are aware of the correct proportion of key nutrients their dog needs. Ask a pet owner and he/she would come up with umpteen reasons for loving his/her pet and the love is unconditional, unlike humans who have clauses and terms attached! They talk about incidents during which they had taken their pet for a vaccination, given a haircut or treated it for a cut or injury. Nowadays, there are even pet spas for those luxurious few! In recent times, I heard from one of my friends that her dog is obese and needs to shed a few kilograms to avoid complications such as diabetes and obesity-related diseases. Until then, diseases, illnesses and other disorders in pets had never crossed my mind! Poor creatures, if only they could speak to convey their feelings and needs!
We follow the standard notion that dogs love bones and cats love to feed on fish and milk. If given a choice, what type of foods do these animals love to delve into? A study conducted shows surprising results and also negates the strong opinion that cats prefer and need a protein-heavy diet. Researchers involved in the study are frenzied over their discovery that could become a real challenge to the pet food industry.
Dietary proteins are involved in different physiological functions such as blood clotting, hormone production and enzymes, vision and cell repair. It also has the maximum potential to make a person feel extremely satiated after which carbs and fats follow suit. The study involved 17 healthy adult dogs and 27 cats over 28 days who were fed with four different types of food that were designed to taste good equally. This cuts out any preferences and the animals tend to feed on foods that their body commands them to! This comes of the understanding from previous studies which proved that when animals were fed foods without any palatability balance, cats love to eat high levels of protein and dogs wish to eat more of fat. Once palatability is balanced, cats and dogs choose different macronutrient-based foods than what they would choose based on taste. Know your macronutrients, get a detailed information about each of them and learn about their impact on health from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Choose Your Food
The animals were given four different food choices: high-fat, high-protein, high-carbohydrates and balanced foods. Every day, dogs were given one hour during which they were allowed to eat all they can up to a predetermined calorie value. Similar strategy was followed in the case of cats too. Only difference was that, cats were given 24-hour food access until it reaches the caloric threshold. Care was taken even to change bowl positions daily to prevent ‘bowl position bias’. Results showed that:
Today’s canine creatures also follow masters and prevail as couch potatoes. If these couch potatoes are fed with foods high on fats and carbs, obesity and other problems are sure to crop up! The sedentary master puts off these pets from activities such as walking or ball game resulting in fatter animals with poor physical activity.
How many times have we seen someone asking directions to some route to a woman or have we ourselves genuinely taken interest in requesting a lady for clarifying our navigation queries? Worst, even when a female is driving a car/two-wheeler, answers to our doubts are usually directed to the pillion rider, when the pillion rider is a male. This strongly invokes a sense of frustration and anger in us. It’s funny that men and women alike, misjudge all people to be the same and divert all their attention to the male co-passenger in directing them. But, are they misjudging people or is it true that men possess far better navigational skills than women?
Sex differences in cognitive skills start as early as the development of neuronal skills and lasts through an entire life span. Every year, pass percent of female candidates surpass male candidates in board examinations and girls top exam results too. Surprisingly, IIT-JEE results, CAT results and IPS/IAS examinations witness much better performance from boys comparatively. Likewise, common learning tasks show different performances from both, boys and girls. There is evidence backing the theory that males are better on spatial tasks and females in verbal tasks. What about navigation?
Reroute your Routing Directions
It is well-known that males perform better than females when it comes to navigation but there is no underlying connection established between navigation skills and one’s level of sex hormones in determining the reason. Actually, there are two different approaches involved in navigation-egocentric and allocentric strategy. While the former involves using landmarks and other such clues for directions, the latter includes distance, the absolute position of the landmark for finding the way out. Here again, men are better at using the allocentric strategy and women excel in the egocentric strategy for navigational purpose. Isn’t it true that we exactly remember the gym to be close to the ‘X’ accessory shop or the ‘Y’ restaurant?
Men and women are on par when they try to outwit each other within an indoor environment without absolute directions. Once the navigation involves large outdoor spaces, men significantly outperform women! Recently, there have been studies and research happening trying to relate navigational skills of people with their risk of dementia.
Game for It?
Gaming craze hasn’t faded and isn’t in any rush to diminish too in near-future. Individuals are still stuck with their smartphone games and Sony Play Stations during all their free time. Companies are spending millions of dollars in developing interesting games for the youth of today and gaming has become one of the most-powerful and ‘in-demand’ market of late. If you would like to test your direction skills, the new smartphone game called the ‘Sea Hero Quest’ is the right one to pounce upon. The game challenges any player to sail on a global adventure to uncover precious artifacts (in the form of memories) which can be collected at different locations around the world.
Men excel in navigational skills than women according to various studies and research. But men, please don’t be hasty and lift up your collar sleeves with a smug look on your face as I am not yet done fully. Actually, according to researchers at the University College London, this difference is primarily due to discrimination and unequal opportunities and has not got much to do with capability or talent. This comes as a result of a research test for dementia based on the game Sea Hero Quest that has more than 4 million players. Turn deserts into icy oceans and revive an old sailor’s old memory with a touch of a smartphone screen.
What you see in the front is the game and its magic but what happens in the back end is what helps scientists garner data for their research. As you play, the game records the player’s navigational abilities and sense of direction, both of which are one of the primary skills lost due to onset of dementia. Being tech savvy is great maybe nowadays for both the end-user and the gaming company! Almost 2.4 million people have played the game since its launch and has helped to generate more than 9,000 years of lab data in such a limited period of time. The data showed differences in navigation abilities between men and women and amongst countries too. Countries in which men and women are almost equally treated showed very small difference in the spatial navigation test. Whereas, countries that treat women as inferior to men showed great differences in navigation abilities. Even the culture of people, their living style and traditions affected direction skills greatly.
Getting lost or forgetting your way back home is one of the first symptoms of dementia and this game exactly tried to analyze the healthy age range between which people are able to use their navigation skills properly. One major belief that this study helped to falsify includes the fact that navigational ability declines only after a person crosses 60 or 65 years of age. This game helped scientists realize that a person’s ability to navigate declines as young as 19 (this was the age when researchers began sampling) and continues to decline forever. Data revealed that while players aged 19 were 74% accurate, the statistics sharply declined steadily reaching 46% for players aged 75. People in Denmark, Norway and Finland surpassed all other individuals residing in 189 countries in holding the world’s best navigational skills. It is also of importance to note that people of wealthier countries also tend to navigate the best.
The research clearly indicates how navigation skills of people vary and change across age, location and other factors. In today’s world, individuals are diagnosed with dementia every few seconds and dementia is growing to become one of the greatest medical challenges faced by the world. The researchers also plan to take it forward by involving dementia-affected people in the game and figuring out their navigational skills. Get a complete picture about dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Boys and girls, role up your sleeves and start sharpening your navigation skills!
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.