Tag Archives: diet

Weight gains and weight loss: does food give some people an "eaters high?"

Weight loss and CrossFit. Weight loss is hard for most people. Maybe harder than Crossfit.   And there many different factors involved in weight gain.  One of the things that differs in people is the ability to taste bitterness.  Food does not taste the same to everyone.  And some people seem to be more “into” food than others.  They seem to get much more pleasure out of food than others.  There’s an entire foodie culture with clubs and magazines.  Even among hard core “Paleo Diet” CrossFit ers.  Note the many Paleo websites and Paleo recipes out there. Then there are people who would be happy eating peanut butter sandwiches three meals a day.  Who just don’t get what is so great about Cheetos. These people tend to have no problem with weight loss. What’s with that?
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Pierce Colman
This infant has a non-taster father and a prop-taster mother.  Both parents follow the paleo diet.

People who perceive bitterness intensely tend to have lower BMI, lower food intake and different levels of appetite-regulators in their blood streams.  Some things taste not so good to them.  In fact, some things will taste very nasty.  Some people don’t notice a thing.  The difference between them is genetic.  You can tell if someone has the gene for tasting the bitter by use of a simple test strip.  The strip is a small piece paper coated with 6-n-propylthiouracil.  Call it PROP.  Ask a group of family and friends gathered around a Thanksgiving dinner table to taste one of these PROP strips.  Chances are some will taste nothing.  Others will taste a mildly bitter flavor.  And a few will be running to the sink spitting and then scrubbing their tongues with a scouring pad.  Who knew your auntie could behave like that in front of everyone?

People who are insensitive to PROP (can’t taste it) tend to eat more than other people.  They also tend to prefer strongly flavored, fatty foods, have a higher BMI, and are more likely to be obese.  The are also more likely to eat purely for the enjoyment of it.  That is also called hedonic eating.  As in hedonism.

Weight loss: Food makes some people “high” but not other people?

Appetite is regulated partly by endocannabinoids.  Think cannabis.  And pot.  And runner’s high.  Endocannabinoids are natural regulators of appetite.  People who are non-tasters have endocannabinoid levels that are significantly different from those of tasters. The way the body regulates food intake and maintains body weight differs between these two groups.  Even when both of them are of the same BMI (body mass index).  This may not mean that some people get a greater high from eating.  But it might.  It might also mean that in the future people may be able to control their weight by altering endocannabinoids.  Taking a bit of a jump here, but as physical activity alters endocannabinoids, and physical activity supresses appetite (up to a point), maybe here’s another reason to exercise.  Especially if you test positive for PROP tasting.  More research will tell.

Tomassini Barbarossa I, Carta G, Murru E, Melis M, Zonza A, Vacca C, Muroni P, Di Marzo V, & Banni S (2013). Taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil is associated with endocannabinoid plasma levels in normal-weight individuals. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 29 (3), 531-6 PMID: 23398921

Coconut oil and the search for the perfect diet.

Coconut oil is being promoted by some as a “perfect” food. This is common in the CrossFit and Paleo communities. Coconut oil is like animal fat in that it is high in saturated fat. Many paleo followers are told that a diet high in saturated fat is ideal for health. Coconut oil is easier for most people to tolerate than eating similar amounts of lard. What do we actually know about diets high in saturated vs. unsaturated fat?

Coconut oil, saturated fat, paleo diet expert
Buy into it or your head goes in the toilet

Diet, research and unsaturated fat.

Some studies have found that diets high in Omega-6 unsaturated fats may increase inflammation.  General inflammation is a marker for a number of chronic diseases.  Other studies have found that diets high in omega-6s may cause insulin resistance and increase risk of diabetes.  Also found is an association of omega-6s with poor blood cholesterol profiles.  Most of these studies have been done with animals.  Such as mice.Other studies have found that diets high in omega-6s reduce inflammation.  And improve cholesterol profiles.  Most of these studies were done in humans.  At present, we do not know what is best as far as omega-6s are concerned.  We are not discussing the role of Omega-3s here.  But they are important too.

Back to diet, coconut oil and saturated fat.

A new study in mice has found that a diet containing 12% saturated was worse in a number of ways.  (Compared to diets with 6% or 24% saturated fat).  A 12% saturated fat diet is typical for Americans.  A 12% saturated fat diet caused the most gain in body fat, the most insulin resistance, and the most inflammation.  Inspite of the fact that all animals got 40% of their calories from fat.  The take away here is, at least for mice, the type of fat consumed matters.  What about the low vs. high saturated fat mice?  The high saturated fat diet caused the lowest insulin resistance.  This might mean that a high saturated fat diet is better for avoiding diabetes.  But it also gave the highest total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio.  A high total cholesterol/hdl cholesterol ratio is a risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Coconut oil and diet take away.

No one has all the answers.  There’s a lot we do not know.  And until we know more it would be best to be wary of people who claim that what they know is enough.
Enos RT, Davis JM, Velázquez KT, McClellan JL, Day SD, Carnevale KA, & Murphy EA (2013). Influence of dietary saturated fat content on adiposity, macrophage behavior, inflammation, and metabolism: composition matters. Journal of lipid research, 54 (1), 152-63 PMID: 23103474

Eat your vegetables or you'll get depressed.

CrossFit Diet: High Tomato intake help keep you from getting down, blue or depressed.  Which a lot of us might be feeling now that the CrossFit Open is over.

A recent study shows a strong relationship between high tomato intake and a low rate of depression.  People who eat a lot of tomatoes are less likely to depressed than people who eat other types of vegetables.  Those who are depressed tend to eat fewer vegetables than other people.  Of course it may be that people who are depressed are feeling too blue to eat much.  Or are feeling too blue to take the trouble to make a salad.  Or it may be that nutrients in vegetables, such as anti-oxidants, help preserve a positive state of mind.  One earlier reader suggested:  “Italians eat a lot of tomatoes.  Italians are a fun-loving bunch.  Germans do not eat a lot of tomatoes.  Germans are not a fun-loving bunch.  It is being Italian that saves people from depression.”  This is pretty good logic.  However, in this study all of the research subjects were Japanese.

CrossFit Nutrition Expert with other CrossFit women
CrossFit Nutrition Expert Dabney Poorter (right) with friends

Improve your CrossFit Diet: Eat your vegetables or you’ll get depressed.

Finish your tomatoes or you’ll get depressed may be a better dinner table admonition. Low anti-oxidant intake is strongly associated with risk of depression.  Anti-oxidant intake seems to help.  What is very interesting about the new study is that tomatoes seem to be more protective than other vegetables.  Tomatoes contain several anti-oxidants.  However, they are especially high in lycopene.  Lycopene may be the strongest carotinoid anti-oxidant.  High lycopene intake also seems to reduce risk of some cancers. Throw a few tomatoes into your CrossFit diet.

Take home for CrossFit Nutrition:

Take home message for CrossFit and Nutrition
Condensed version
Read this for CrossFit and Nutrition.

Kapoor S (2012). The emerging anti-neoplastic effects of lycopene: beyond its role in prostate carcinomas. Maturitas, 73 (4) PMID: 23067956
Niu K, Guo H, Kakizaki M, Cui Y, Ohmori-Matsuda K, Guan L, Hozawa A, Kuriyama S, Tsuboya T, Ohrui T, Furukawa K, Arai H, Tsuji I, & Nagatomi R (2013). A tomato-rich diet is related to depressive symptoms among an elderly population aged 70 years and over: a population-based, cross-sectional analysis. Journal of affective disorders, 144 (1-2), 165-70 PMID: 22840609

Protein intake and recovery for Masters Athletes

How much protein do Athletes need?

Younger athletes may benefit from increased protein intake in a number of ways. Increased protein intake may result in muscle strength gains in young adults in as quickly as six weeks (Candow et al. 2006).  Protein supplements may also increase strength in elderly people (average age 83) as well (Bjorkman et al. 2012).  The Bjorkman study of 106 elderly men and women showed a 2.1% gain in body weight with a high-leucine whey protein supplement vs. a 1.9% loss in weight with a placebo.  This was over a six month period.  Leucine is important because it serves as a trigger for muscle synthesis.  Leucine is also a branched chain amino acid (bcaa).  This does not mean supplements are better than a healthy diet. We have evolved to eat food, after all. However, we also seem to have evolved to not do as well as we’d like as we get older. Masters athletes may benefit from increased protein intake.
CrossFit Games Masters Competitor Ken Cutrer of CrossFit EST,

Protein may speed recovery.

Protein intake after exercise may also help speed recovery.  This would be important to athletes participating in an extended period of competition. The CrossFit games, for example. Or in similar high output situations. Whey protein hydrolysate increases the rate of recovery after resistance training.  When protein is hydrolysated it has been partially broken down.  This speeds absorption.  Unhydrolysated proteins (normal proteins from food) may take longer.   This may mean recovery takes 6 hrs. rather than 24 hrs (Buckley et al. 2010).

Masters athletes may benefit from protein supplements.

Older athletes take longer to recover, and lose ground faster during periods of inactivity. Hydrolysated protein supplements and supplements with high leucine content may help Masters Athletes.

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Candow DG, Burke NC, Smith-Palmer T, & Burke DG (2006). Effect of whey and soy protein supplementation combined with resistance training in young adults. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 16 (3), 233-44 PMID: 16948480

Buckley JD, Thomson RL, Coates AM, Howe PR, DeNichilo MO, & Rowney MK (2010). Supplementation with a whey protein hydrolysate enhances recovery of muscle force-generating capacity following eccentric exercise. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia, 13 (1), 178-81 PMID: 18768358

Björkman, M., Finne-Soveri, H., & Tilvis, R. (2012). Whey protein supplementation in nursing home residents. A randomized controlled trial European Geriatric Medicine, 3 (3), 161-166 DOI: 10.1016/j.eurger.2012.03.010

An Introduction: What are Endocrine Disruptors?

The next several posts will be devoted to the subject of endocrine disruption with a focus on environmental chemicals that interfere with sex steroids, chiefly estrogens and androgens. Most people are probably familiar with estrogen and testosterone. These are steroids produced by the human body (and the bodies of other species) that play important roles in sexual development and reproduction. They also play many other related roles, influence growth and tissue maintenance, neurological function and behavior.

An endocrine disruptor is a chemical agent that interferes with very complex, inter-regulating and intertwined endocrine systems. Interference with one steroid hormone can produce chain reactions that impact other hormones that, in turn, influence other systems and other hormones. For example, Bisphenol A, an estrogen mimic will change production of Prolactin (Steinmetz et al. 1997).

A young boy ponders something.

The effects of endocrine disruptors can be strongest during critical periods such as fetal development, infancy, adolescence, conception and pregnancy. These are times of important changes that will have long-term consequences for a child (fry, larvae, pup, chick etc.) and its future children. Thousands of chemicals have been found to be endocrine disruptors. Some of them are very resistant to degradation and remain in the environment and in people’s bodies for decades or longer. Many of these are no longer in use even though we can still easily detect them. They were found to be a threat to health and were banned and/or replaced with something less dangerous. There are many other chemicals in use that have not been tested. There are others that are current foci of research and debate. These chemicals were not developed to cause harm to humans (at least not most of them), rather they were found to be harmful after they were already in use. An example that you may be aware of is the plastics additive Bisphenol A.

Bisphenol A is commonly called BPA. After years of debate and conflict among interested parties BPA has been banned from baby bottles in the US. Manufacturers are adapting and produced new products. Consumers can easily find BPA-Free materials and it seems likely that BPA will leave many markets.  While BPA may be in decline the issue of endocrine disruptors is far from resolved. The plastic products used to make some BPA-Free plastics also appear to be endocrine disruptors (Yang et al. 2011.) Some of them appear to be more disruptive than the BPA-laced plastics they are meant to replace.  It would be better to produce Endocrine-Disruptor-free products Instead of  BPA-Free products

It is very difficult to pull something out of the market once it is already there. People’s livelihoods have become dependent on continuing use, reputations are at stake, there may be millions of dollars spent on legal fees,  on efforts to fund studies that would show that the product in question was harmless after all, and then more time and more money spent arguing why banning a product would be unfeasible and not worth the cost of replacing it, developing alternative technology, or cleaning up environmental messes. Banning chemicals after they become part of the economy is hugely wasteful, makes people on both sides of the playing field upset and erodes public confidence. We may discuss this in greater detail later, but for now, just be aware that the chemical problem of endocrine disruptors is also an economic and then a political problem as well. This should be resolved eventually, but until then, we may have a very interesting, and for some a painful, ride.

Steinmetz R, Brown NG, Allen DL, Bigsby RM, & Ben-Jonathan N (1997). The environmental estrogen bisphenol A stimulates prolactin release in vitro and in vivo. Endocrinology, 138 (5), 1780-6 PMID: 9112368

Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, & Bittner GD (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119 (7), 989-96 PMID: 21367689

A Diet of Animal or Plant Proteins: Which keeps you leaner?

Intake of vegetable protein is negatively correlated with waist circumference and BMI. In contrast, intake of animal protein is positively correlated with waist circumference and BMI, at least in Belgians. There are a lot of questions to raise with this including the possibility that people who eat less animal protein consume less animal fat which can be a rich source of bioactive, lipophilic contaminants which may also be endocrine disruptors that increase adiposity or alter blood lipids. Note Ruzzin et. al.’s April 2010 paper “Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure Leads to Insulin Resistance Syndrome.” (Very nice work! Congratulations to all authors.) Also possible that people who eat a lot of vegetable protein also eat fewer calories, are less sedentary etc. There is also the argument that lean, grass-fed animals (happy cattle, miserable chickens) would eliminate this vulnerability in meat eaters. That would be an interesting study. BMI and blood lipid profiles in matched cohorts of grass-fed/organic animal protein eaters vs. regular grocery store consumers. Anyone . . . ?
Ruzzin J, Petersen R, Meugnier E, Madsen L, Lock EJ, Lillefosse H, Ma T, Pesenti S, Sonne SB, Marstrand TT, Malde MK, Du ZY, Chavey C, Fajas L, Lundebye AK, Brand CL, Vidal H, Kristiansen K, & Frøyland L (2010). Persistent organic pollutant exposure leads to insulin resistance syndrome. Environmental health perspectives, 118 (4), 465-71 PMID: 20064776Lin, Y., Bolca, S., Vandevijvere, S., De Vriese, S., Mouratidou, T., De Neve, M., Polet, A., Van Oyen, H., Van Camp, J., De Backer, G., De Henauw, S., & Huybrechts, I. (2010). Plant and animal protein intake and its association with overweight and obesity among the Belgian population British Journal of Nutrition, 1-11 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114510004642

Human Health and Environmental Factors

Mens Eye Pood Kettlebell Shirt
Mens Eye Pood Kettlebell Shirt

There are a lot of things that influence health beyond diet and exercise, and many ways in which our health may be influenced by the world we create.

  • Exposure to light:
  • Temperature control
  • Psychological stress (traffic, kids, job etc.)
  • Quality of friendships and community
  • Exposure to environmental agents
  • Drugs
  • Air Quality
  • Water Quality

and etc.  It is important to keep in mind that all of these things can impact your physical health, and that they can all influence each other.   We’ll do our best to discuss these things and try to make sense of them as new research comes to our attention.  Subscribe to hear the latest on human health research.  We’ll be looking at peer-reviewed scientific studies and writing about them.  Hopefully we’ll learn something and be able to share it.

About us:

Articles and commentary on fitness, aches, pains, research, and adventure.  The WODMasters started as a small group of masters crossfit athletes. We wanted high quality shirts that fit well and looked good. We wanted crossfit shirts that went beyond telling everyone we had great snatches, could squat, beat up other children’s parents and/or were covered with death skulls. We wanted crossfit shirts that were about us. So we made our own. That was about five years ago, in 2009. We now design and produce unique, high-quality athletic shirts. They are ideal crossfit shirts in that they are crossfit themed and made by people who do crossfit. They are also ideal apparel all those who are stiff, inflexible and off-beat. We are not affiliated with CrossFit the brand. Or with Reebok CrossFit. We are our own thing. We also write and talk about nutrition, health, fitness, aches and pains, and adventure expeditions and how to stay tough and have fun. WODMasters creates and provides original content. If you would like to use it please reference our site and provide a link.

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If you are looking for an original, off-beat, high quality athletic shirt check out our designs.  Our shirts are perfect crossfit gifts (we started out with CrossFit, but are open to all kinds of interesting pursuits).  They are also perfect gifts for the Masters Athlete, and anyone else who is stiff, inflexible and off-beat.