Fit Tips

How To Get Back On The Wagon After COVID

June 4th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

So the COVID wagon has taken us on a bumpy ride over the last few months!

Some of us have even fallen off the stay strong/clean eating wagon🤷‍♀️. But….no one says we can’t get back on. Is it going to be a smooth ride? That will be up to you.  We know we will be back in business soon, so how do you get back into shape?

You start with two 30-minute training sessions/week. Add in a healthy diet and some fun physical activity throughout the week that brings you joy.

I will assist you with:

  • Gaining lean muscle and losing fat
  • Assessing your physical condition and tracking changes
  • Setting and reaching your goals
  • Learning proper strength training techniques
  • Nutrition counseling

I’ll even sweeten the pot for a short time* and offer returning clients 2 FREE personal training sessions for each new client you refer (train for 2 months, 2x a week). It’s time to take control of your health and get back on track if you’ve slipped a bit. And if you haven’t slipped, I’m sure you are eager to resume your training regimen.

Here is an interesting article about how quickly you can regain muscle strength after an extended break.

*Now through July 4th


How Exercise Supports Your Mental Fitness

May 18th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

A healthy body is home to a healthy mind. However, there are numerous different types of sports and a wide range of exercise and training. Which type and how much exercise will keep your mind in top shape?

This is the question that has been explored by researchers at the University of Basel and their colleagues at the University of Tsukuba in Japan through large-scale analysis of the scientific literature. They have used this analysis to derive recommendations that they recently published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Coordinated sports are particularly effective

The research group evaluated 80 individual studies to identify a few key characteristics. Endurance training, strength training, or a mix of these components seem to improve cognitive performance.

Heavy lifting during strength training also strengthens bone density, which can reduce the risk of breaks and fractures as you age. If you lift heavy, you test your mental strength as well.

Lifting heavy increases production of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, the neurotransmitter related to producing new brain cells and improves cognitive function.

However, coordinated and challenging sports that require complex movement patterns and interaction with fellow players are significantly more effective. “To coordinate during a sport seems to be even more important than the total volume of sporting activity,” explains Ludyga.

A higher total extent of activity does not necessarily lead to a correspondingly higher level of effectiveness for mental fitness. Longer duration per exercise unit promises a greater improvement in cognitive performance only over a longer period of time.

All age groups benefit

Just like our physical condition, cognitive performance changes over the course of our lives. It is great for the potential for improvement during childhood (cognitive development phase) and during old age (cognitive degradation phase). However, the research group of the Department of Sport, Exercise, and Health (DSBG) at the University of Basel was unable to find an indicator of different levels of effectiveness of sporting activities within the varying age groups.

Furthermore, sporting activities from primary school age to later age do not have to be fundamentally different in order to improve cognitive performance. Different age groups can thus be combined for a common goal during sports. “This is already being implemented selectively with joint exercise programs for children and their grandparents,” says Pühse. Such programs could thus be further expanded.

Intense sports sessions for boys and men

The same volume of sports activity has a different effect on physical fitness for men and women, as we are already aware. However, the research group has now been able to verify this for mental fitness. Men accordingly benefit more from sporting activity.

Differences between the sexes are particularly evident in the intensity of movement, but not in the type of sport. A hard workout seems to be particularly worthwhile for boys and men. Paired with a gradual increase in intensity, this leads to a significantly greater improvement in cognitive performance over a longer period of time.

In contrast, the positive effect on women and girls disappears if the intensity is increased too quickly. The results of the research suggest that they should choose low to medium intensity sporting activities if they want to increase their cognitive fitness.

Science Daily


Food Logging For Real

April 15th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

When it comes to healthy eating for a fit and active lifestyle, certain facts are undeniable: Water is crucial, you can eat as many veggies as you want, and weight loss/maintenance is more a result of diet than exercise. Having said that, I recommend my clients log their food, especially when they are not seeing the results they are training for.

Does keeping a food journal help you lose weight?
Yes. Tracking what you eat at each meal or snack can help you improve your health and lose weight for two major reasons.

First, you’re accountable to an observant yet nonjudgmental party (the trusty food log). Consistently logging your food helps you consider why and when you’re eating and how hungry or satisfied you feel. This record-keeping can help you have a more positive relationship with food in general. It draws your attention to food-related pitfalls that may have previously thrown you off-track and gives you the information you need to move forward from a place of honesty.

The second reason why it works is that it provides you with a wealth of information. You’ll learn more about both the foods you enjoy and the places and situations that you find yourself eating. It can help you notice any negative feelings related to food and identify why you might be eating for reasons that have nothing to do with how hungry you actually felt. Part of being specific is being emotional. You don’t want to simply write about what you ate, you want to write about how it made you feel.

The power of the food journal is that it keeps you accountable and makes you more aware. You are less likely to grab that piece of chocolate cake if you know you have to write down later and face the ultimate critic (AKA you). Plus, you become more aware of the emotions tied to your food or the habits you’ve fallen into. Perhaps you find that you crave fatty snacks around 4 p.m. When you sit down and ask yourself the simple question “why” in your journal, you realize that 4 p.m. is peak stress time at work. The following day, you come prepared with a healthy snack to munch on at 4 p.m.; maybe you even excercise before work to prevent your stress.

How do you write a food journal?

Try to stay as consistent as possible and be patient with yourself while you adjust. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. Just pick it back up the next. And keep in mind that it’s not foreverFood logs can tell you a lot whether you do it for a week or a month.

Pen and paper are a tried and trusty way to do it, but it may not be realistic for you. Try writing in a note on your phone, taking pictures, or using an app. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt — both free — are two of the most popular ones. Fitbit also has a food tracker built into its app.

To start:

You should include several pieces of information in your daily food diary. These are:

  • How much: List the amount of the food/drink item. This might be measured in volume (1/2 cup), weight (2 ounces), or the number of items (12 chips).
  • What kind: Write down the type of food/drink. Be as specific as you can. Don’t forget to write down extras, such as toppings, sauces, or condiments. For example, butter, ketchup, or sugar.
  • When: Keep track of the time of day you eat.
  • Where: Make note of where you eat. Keeping a physical or electronic record of where you eat will help you become aware of your current habits and the scenarios that impact them. If you are at home, write down the room. If you are out, write down the name of the restaurant or if you are in the car.
  • Who with: If you eat by yourself, write “alone.” If you are with friends or family members, list them.
  • Activity: List any activities you do while eating, such as working, watching TV, or playing a game.
  • Mood: You also should include how you feel when you eat. Are you happy, sad, or bored? Your mood can relate to your eating habits and help you change them.

Log foods as soon as you can. The key to nailing the whole food journaling thing is to actually record what you’re having at the exact moment you’re having it. But since that’s not always realistic, don’t fret. You can take a quick pic of your meal before you eat it and fill in the details after-the-fact, that’s okay too.

Note what you may have “missed” at any meal. Did you order a bunless burger at lunch today and ultimately down the contents of a cereal box while watching TV after dinner? Could you try adding extra protein to your lunch and see how you feel tomorrow? If you skip meals or skip satisfying components at a meal, you’re likely to overeat later on.

Use your food log as a library. It’s a go-to list of your favorite items to order, the restaurants where you picked salad when what you really wanted was a pizza, great recipes you enjoyed, and which options or modifications left you feeling satisfied, not deprived.

Be honest. If you’re using a food log but not being totally truthful in your entries, then it’s no longer working as a tool for you. The only person who has to see it is you. Start from a realistic place and make gradual changes. Habits are a result of the choices you make consistently.

You’ve kept a food diary. Now what?
After completing a week’s worth of food journaling, step back and look at what you’ve recorded. Search for any trends, patterns, or habits. For example, you might consider:

  • How healthy is my diet?
  • Am I eating vegetables and fruit every day? If so, how many servings?
  • Am I eating enough protein each day?
  • Am I eating foods or beverages with added sugar? If so, how frequently?
  • Do my moods affect my eating habits? Do I reach for unhealthy snacks when I’m tired or stressed?
  • How often do I eat on the run?

Are food diaries effective?
A food journal holds you accountable and creates a personal reference guide that can inform your future choices and, ultimately, your habits. However, it’s not for everyone. Keeping track of what you eat is supposed to help you stay mindful and accountable — not bad about yourself.

If a food log helps you make positive lifestyle changes, then that’s 15 minutes of your day well-spent!


Supporting You During Covid-19

March 24th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

My biggest priority is keeping clients safe and strong during this #Coronavirus stay-at-home order. The effects of this pandemic are changing the world and we can only control what we can control, so with that in mind…

I’m taking workouts virtual and bringing DBM Strength Training to you! Let’s stay strong together by joining with our friends and training as together as we can right now.

Strength training classes are scheduled every Tuesday at 6 pm and Sat at 9 & 10:30 am EST. Cost is $10 per person, payment options include PayPal, Venmo, ApplePay, or cash app. You can pm or text me for details and the Zoom link.

With the mandated at home order, watch for exercise videos and virtual classes! Three weeks is a long time to be away from the gym.

While we are at home temporarily here are a few ideas;

Look for opportunities over the course of every day to put your body under some kind of brief resistance load. Even if you only work hard for one minute (or less) at a time but are relatively faithful incorporating these “micro” opportunities into your daily routine, the cumulative effect will still be incredible.

If you don’t have exercise equipment in your house, there is still a lot you can do to stay fit, active, and sane during these trying times. Online streaming services, the internet, and mobile app stores are loaded with a variety of free and low-cost at-home workouts for all fitness levels and workout preferences, and many don’t require any equipment.

Turn up your favorite tunes and dance like nobody is watching! Whether you are solo or with your fam, this can be such fun. Challenge yourselves to keep adding one more song and keep moving longer every day.

If you have the luxury of a yard (and many do not right now), get your rake out and clean up from winter. Your spring yard will thank you and so will your body.

Hit your local trails! Many of them are pretty quiet right now so dress for the temp and go exploring. Maybe meet a friend at the trailhead and keep 6′ distance while you hike together. The app Alltrails is great for exploring.

Staying socially engaged during a stay-at-home order requires creativity! There are some good ideas being shared on social media and this article has several.

Watch your diet! Eating nutritious food is best during times of stress. Let’s support your immune system with great recipes that will also support your fitness goals.

How many ideas can you share with the DBM community? We welcome your suggestions and tips.


How Much Protein Should I Eat Daily For Weight Loss?

February 5th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

Decades of scientific research on weight loss have uncovered a few key pieces of information on what helps people successfully win the battle of the bulge.

  • First, we know that while exercise is important, a person’s healthy eating habits likely matters more for weight loss than the hours they spend in the gym.
  • Second, when it comes to dieting, there is no single best one for losing weight; many diets can work quite well as long as total calorie balance is accounted for.
  • Third, dietary protein is one of the key “levers” in a diet that increases the likelihood of someone’s ability to lose weight.

This article is going to cut through a lot of the noise surrounding protein and tell you how much protein you should be eating to lose weight and some of the things you should consider when planning your diet.

WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Protein is an important macronutrient that is involved in nearly all bodily functions and processes. It plays a key role in exercise recovery and is an essential dietary nutrient for healthy living. Protein and amino acids are primarily used to create bodily tissues, form enzymes, and cellular transporters, maintain fluid balance, and more.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN PER DAY TO LOSE WEIGHT?
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between .73 and 1 grams per pound. Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 1-1.5 grams per pound if aiming for weight loss.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PROTEIN IN WEIGHT LOSS?
Dietary protein can be an important part of a diet that is intended for weight loss. While there are many benefits to dietary protein, there are four main areas that have direct effects on weight loss:

  • Satiety
  • Lean mass
  • Thermic effect of food
  • Storage as body fat

Let us take a deeper dive into each of these topics.

PROTEIN HELPS YOU FEEL FULL LONGER
One of the biggest things that impede weight loss is hunger.

People are far less likely to stick with a nutrition or diet plan if they experience high levels of hunger.

Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients.

Several different lines of research have all pointed to the same thing: higher protein intakes tend to provide more satiety and less hunger.

For example, in one study, high protein snacks allowed people to go longer between eating and also caused them to eat less at subsequent meals.

Another study showed that including protein into a glass of water decreased hunger compared to water alone.

Depending on the source of protein, there does appear to be minor differences in the exact amount of satiety that protein provides, however these differences are minor and don’t really make a meaningful impact for most people.

Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal level of daily protein intake in one’s diet with regard to staying full. However, roughly .82-1.32 grams of protein per pound appear to provide substantial benefit on satiety.

PROTEIN PRESERVES LEAN BODY MASS
In addition, protein has another benefit on weight loss: it helps preserve lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.

One study compared the effect of low protein intake (1.0 grams per kilogram per day) to high protein intake (2.3 g/kg per day) on lean body mass over a short term caloric deficit. On average, the low protein group lost about 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds) of muscle mass while the high protein group only lost 0.3 kg (0.66 pounds) of muscle mass.

Currently, most evidence suggests that .73 grams of protein per pound are a recommended daily target for protein intake to spare lean body mass loss during periods of weight loss.

PROTEIN INCREASES THE THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD
The thermic effect of food is the “cost” of digesting your food.

Essentially, it takes some energy to break food down, digest it, and turn it into energy. Protein has the highest “cost” of all three macronutrients.

While the total effect that the thermic effect of food has on daily energy expenditure and weight loss is small, it is not meaningless and is important to note.

In one study, a high protein diet increased the thermic effect of food by roughly 6-8 kcals per hour when compared to a low protein diet, which may translate to ~50-75 calories per day.

However, not all studies show this large of an effect, and the thermic effect of protein is not likely responsible for most of its benefit, but it may be the “cherry on top” of adequate dietary protein during weight loss.

PROTEIN IS HARD TO STORE AS BODY FAT
During periods of weight loss, there are often times where more energy is consumed than expended. As such, minimizing how much of that excess energy (i.e. calories) is stored as fat is important.

The body processes the three different macronutrients (i.e. proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) in very different ways.

Leaving out a lot of jargon and mumbo jumbo, in order for protein to be stored as fat, it goes through a much different biochemical process than either carbohydrates or fats.

This process makes it much harder for protein to store as body fat.

One study found that protein is stored as body fat with roughly 66% efficiency, while carbohydrates store with 80% efficiency and fats store at 96% efficiency.

During weight loss, overeating protein results in much less stored body fat than overeating on carbohydrates or fat.

While many different diets can be successful for weight loss, the protein content of a diet is one of the important factors to consider when planning a diet. Protein has been shown to promote satiety, help maintain lean body mass, increase the thermic effect of food slightly, and can reduce how efficient the body is at storing extra calories as body fat.

Courtesy of NASM.org


There Are No Short Cuts to Your Fitness Goals!

February 5th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

In order to see any kind of progress in your health and fitness journey, you must show up for a 30-minute, high-intensity workout, twice a week and eat a clean, high protein, low carb diet! There are no short cuts, just say’n…

Let’s get real. Sure, you can cut your calories in half, or spend your mornings or evenings doing cardio to lose some pounds, but I can promise you your results will not last nor will they give you a healthy, functioning body.

When it comes to weight lifting for weight loss, it is important to keep a few key points in mind.

  • First, you will not get BIG from lifting weights. You get “big” from overconsumption of energy (calories), which can be converted into fat or muscle based on the types of foods you eat and the exercise you do.
  • Second, you can lift more than you think—and you should (with the help of a personal trainer).
  • And finally, if weight training is done properly you may be sore the day or two after your workouts (especially if you are new to resistance exercise). This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and it is a normal response to weight training. Be sure to stretch, drink plenty of water and incorporate sound nutrition to help your body recover quickly between workouts.

Watching the scale too closely is another issue for clients. I’ll hear, “So the scale is up and I’m doing everything right, my clothes are even fitting better! I don’t get it?!” Then we measure and sure enough, their inches are down. Muscle is denser than fat and it also takes up less room. That’s why you can look leaner yet actually weigh more than someone without muscle definition.

Again, if your goal is to be strong, healthy and have a fully functioning body, proper diet and lifting heavy weights with the guidance of a certified personal trainer will get you there!

in part from ACEfitness


The Surprising Benefits of Weight Training

February 5th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

The most common misconception about weight training is that it adds bulky muscle mass, a fear of some women. While elite male lifters can — and want to — get very developed, for most people the result is simply well-toned muscles.

Other benefits are increased mobility, more support for your joints and the ability to stay self-sufficient in your later years.

As an added bonus, having more muscle can also help you with your weight goal. That’s because the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you burn. Add a calorie cut into the mix and you’ll lose weight.

Muscle is denser than fat and it also takes up less room. That’s why you can look leaner yet actually weigh more than someone without muscle definition.

To make the most of strength training, lift heavier weights than you think you’re able to. Yes, challenge yourself, staying within safe limits. You don’t want to try to lift a weight you can barely pick up off the weight rack, but most people underestimate the amount they can handle or fail to progress to heavier weights, according to the American Council on Exercise, and that limits the effectiveness of strength training.

Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym. All you need are 20 to 30 minutes every other day to accomplish training goals. Do one to three short sets — eight reps per set — with high weights and a mix of exercises that target all the major muscle groups.

If you’re new to strength training, get your doctor’s OK first and work with a trainer on proper form.

Our recommendation is 2 30 -minute sessions or group class + session each week, along with a clean diet, and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel, and look!

By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter, U.S. News


Meal Replacement VS Protein Shakes

January 16th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

Protein shakes and meal replacement shakes are not the same.

Protein powders work to provide you with a high-quality protein to help your body recover after working out.

  • Designed to help increase daily protein consumption
  • Low in calories
  • Not packed with carbs and fat (so they don’t contain all of the nutrients your body needs to constitute a complete meal)

Meal replacement shakes do exactly what they say: replace a meal. For instance, instead of eating breakfast, you drink a shake.

  • Designed for weight loss
  • Low in calories
  • Packed with essential nutrients that your body needs for a complete meal (vitamins and minerals, fiber, some carbs, fat, and protein, a good balance of all three macros), but they may also contain ingredients you wish to avoid like added sugars and chemicals.

Continue reading to see why I recommend protein supplementation along with a diet based on clean, organic meats, vegetables, and healthy fats. 

Meal replacements and protein shakes can both support your body composition and athletic performance goals, although they do have significant differences in nutritional profile and benefits. A higher amount of protein will help repair muscle tissue damage resulting from high intensity, strenuous workouts. Try to get your protein from eggs and lean meats (chicken, fish, lean beef, etc.).  Downing enough protein can be a tough task so supplement your eating with protein shakes to reach your protein requirement for the day.

Calories
Meal replacements are intended to be more filling and contain more calories than a protein shake. Although meal replacements are higher in calories than protein shakes, they tend to be lower in calories than actual meals, which can aid in dieting. Whey protein isolates tend to be the lowest calorie protein shakes, with 101 calories per serving, while others may contain about 120 calories. Meal replacement shakes typically contain between 250 and 400 calories.

Protein Content
Protein shakes typically provide about 25 g of protein per serving, while the range of protein in meal replacements differs widely. Meal replacements intended for general health may be lower in protein, with 10 g per shake, while those intended for muscle building and dieting may contain up to 40 g.

A higher amount of protein will help repair muscle tissue damage resulting from high intensity, strenuous workouts. Try to get your protein from eggs and lean meats (chicken, fish, lean beef, etc.).  Downing enough protein is a tough task so supplement your eating with protein shakes to reach your protein requirement for the day.

Carbohydrate Content
Protein shakes typically have less than 5 g of carbohydrates, as they are not intended to be full meals. Meal replacement shakes tend to contain carbohydrates to make the nutritional profile more like a real meal. Meal replacements beneficial for dieting will contain dietary fiber, a nutrient that helps in digestion and makes you feel full, helping you consume fewer calories throughout the day.

Fat Content
Protein shakes are typically low in fat, with 3 g or fewer, while the fat content in meal replacements varies. Meal replacements that are lower in carbohydrates tend to be higher in fat and may be useful for low-carbohydrate diets. Higher carbohydrate shakes tend to be lower in fat. You may wish to find a meal replacement containing omega-3 fats, to aid in fat loss and muscle gain.

Vitamins and Minerals
Protein shakes tend not to contain any added vitamins and minerals other than those provided by the protein source. For example, shakes made from whey protein, a dairy product, provide calcium. Although not all meal replacements contain added vitamins and minerals, many do.

Shakes vs ‘real’ food
In marketing today, you hear people say, “just eat real food”. However, we travel more, we work differently, we have different needs and our nutrition options have changed over the years. If you are not able to eat ‘real food’ or the real food you are eating isn’t getting you the results that you want, then a shake may be an option. Remember that meal replacement shakes and protein shakes are not the same. The typical meal-replacement powder may contain up to half your day’s intake of carbs. Instead, opt for a scoop of regular protein powder after your workout.

I will always advise my clients to plan their meals, prep their meals and always choose organic, clean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. Carbs should come from sources like vegetables, some fruits, and legumes. Be in control of your diet – it is 90% of your fitness program, overall health, and body composition!


This Is What Sugar Does To Your Brain

October 21st, 2019 by Debbie Martilotta

We know that too much sugar is bad for our waistlines and our heart health, but now there’s mounting evidence that high levels of sugar consumption can also have a negative effect on brain health — from cognitive function to psychological wellbeing.

While sugar is nothing to be too concerned about in small quantities, most of us are simply eating too much of it. The sweet stuff — which also goes by names like glucose, fructose, honey, and corn syrup — is found in 74 percent of packaged foods in our supermarkets. And while the Word Health Organization recommends that only 5 percent of daily caloric intake come from sugar, the typical American diet is comprised of 13 percent calories from sugar.

It’s easy to see how we can get hooked on sugar. However, we should be aware of the risks that a high-sugar diet poses for brain function and mental well-being.

Here’s what you need to know about how overconsumption of sugar could wreak havoc on your brain.

It creates a vicious cycle of intense cravings.

When a person consumes sugar, just like any food, it activates the tongue’s taste receptors. Then, signals are sent to the brain, lighting up reward pathways and causing a surge of feel-good hormones, like dopamine, to be released. Sugar “hijacks the brain’s reward pathway,” neuroscientist Jordan Gaines Lewis explained. And while stimulating the brain’s reward system with a piece of chocolate now and then is pleasurable and probably harmless, when the reward system is activated too much and too frequently, we start to run into problems.

“Over-activating this reward system kickstarts a series of unfortunate events — loss of control, craving, and increased tolerance to sugar,” neuroscientist Nicole Avena explained in a TED-Ed video.

In fact, research has shown that the brains of obese children actually light up differently when they taste sugar, reflecting an elevated “food reward” response. This suggests that their brain circuitry may predispose these children to a lifetime of intense sugar cravings.

It impairs memory and learning skills.

2012 study on rats, conducted by researchers at UCLA, found that a diet high in fructose (that’s just another word for sugar) hinders learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain. The researchers found that rats who over-consumed fructose had damaged synaptic activity in the brain, meaning that communication among brain cells was impaired.

Heavy sugar intake caused the rats to develop a resistance to insulin — a hormone that controls blood sugar levels and also regulates the function of brain cells. Insulin strengthens the synaptic connections between brain cells, helping them to communicate better and thereby form stronger memories. So when insulin levels in the brain are lowered as the result of excess sugar consumption, cognition can be impaired.

“Insulin is important in the body for controlling blood sugar, but it may play a different role in the brain,” Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new.”

It may cause or contribute to depression and anxiety.

If you’ve ever experienced a sugar crash, then you know that sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar levels can cause you to experience symptoms like irritability, mood swings, brain fog, and fatigue. That’s because eating a sugar-laden donut or drinking a soda causes blood sugar levels to spike upon consumption and then plummet. When your blood sugar inevitably dips back down (hence the “crash”), you may find yourself feeling anxious, moody or depressed.

Sugar-rich and carb-laden foods can also mess with the neurotransmitters that help keep our moods stable. Consuming sugar stimulates the release of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. Constantly over-activating these serotonin pathways can deplete our limited supplies of the neurotransmitter, which can contribute to symptoms of depression.

Chronically high blood sugar levels have also been linked to inflammation in the brain. And as some research has suggested, neuroinflammation may be one possible cause of depression. Teenagers may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of sugar on mood.

Research has also found that people who eat a standard American diet that’s high in processed foods — which typically contain high amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and salt — are at an increased risk for developing depression, compared to those who eat a whole foods diet that’s lower in sugar.

It’s a risk factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

A growing body of research suggests that a sugar-heavy diet could increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2013 study found that insulin resistance and blood glucose levels — which are hallmarks of diabetes — are linked with a greater risk for developing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. The research “offers more evidence that the brain is a target organ for damage by high blood sugar,” endocrinologist Dr. Medha Munshi told the New York Times.


Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier

October 15th, 2019 by Debbie Martilotta

Want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently? Strength training to the rescue! Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.

Use it or lose it

Lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age.

You’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time. Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age.

Strength training may also help you:

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
  • Enhance your quality of life Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes.
  • Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.

Consider the options

Strength training can be done at home or in the gym. Common choices include:

  • Bodyweight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try pushups, pullups, planks and leg squats.
  • Resistance tubing. Resistance tubing is an inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance tubes in nearly any sporting goods store.
  • Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools. If you don’t have weights at home, you can use soup cans.
  • Weight machines. Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines. You can invest in weight machines for use at home, too.

Getting started

If you have a chronic condition, or if you’re older than age 40 and you haven’t been active recently, check with your doctor before beginning a strength training or aerobic fitness program.

Before beginning strength training, consider warming up with brisk walking or another aerobic activity for five or 10 minutes. Cold muscles are more prone to injury than are warm muscles.

Choose a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions. When you can easily do more repetitions of a certain exercise, gradually increase the weight or resistance.

Research shows that a single set of 12 to 15 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.

To give your muscles time to recover, rest one full day between exercising each specific muscle group.

Also, be careful to listen to your body. If a strength training exercise causes pain, stop the exercise. Consider trying a lower weight or trying it again in a few days.

It’s important to use proper technique in strength training to avoid injuries. If you’re new to weight training, work with a trainer or other fitness specialist to learn the correct form and technique. Remember to breathe as you strength train.

When to expect results

You don’t need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. You can see significant improvement in your strength with just two or three 20- or 30-minute weight training sessions a week.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends incorporating strength training exercises for all major muscle groups into a fitness routine at least two times a week.

As you incorporate strength training exercises into your fitness routine, you may notice an improvement in your strength over time. As your muscle mass increases, you’ll likely be able to lift weight more easily and for longer periods of time. If you keep it up, you can continue to increase your strength, even if you’re not in shape when you begin.

By Mayo Clinic Staff