Friday, July 29, 2011

Whey for Stealth Weight Loss

Protein is good.  I've blogged a lot about the research showing that increasing protein intake (to about 80-100 grams per day for most women), while decreasing carbohydrate intake, is associated with feeling more full, losing more weight, having more energy, amongst other things.  I'm not talking about low-carb diets or anything, just a subtle shift in what foods you eat during the day.  For example, instead of a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, a scrambled egg on toast.  Instead of pasta and sauce for dinner, fish tacos with side of spinach. 

Case in point, a new study was just published where overweight and obese people were divided into 3 groups and asked to drink two beverages a day for 5 months.  One group received beverages that were all carbohydrate.  One group received beverages that were whey protein (one of the main proteins in milk).  And the other group received beverages that were soy protein.  They weren't told to try to lose weight or change anything else in their life; just to drink these beverages on two occasions a day.

After 5 months, one group gained weight, one group lost weight, and one group stayed the same.  Care to guess what beverage did what???

Of course, the whey beverage led to weight loss!  Not a lot (only 4 lbs), but remember these folks were not trying to lose weight.  The carbohydrate beverage caused people to gain about 4 lbs and the soy beverage did not alter weight at all.  

What to make of this?  In my opinion, I think this means that whey definitely has an advantage over carbohydrates and maybe even soy in terms of making people feel more full.  There may not be big differences in fullness in the short term, but over 5 months, whey may be just filling enough to cause people to consume fewer calories and slowly lose weight without even trying.  

Here's something kind of cool to think about...most people gain, on average, 1-2 lbs per year as they age.  What if eating more whey can prevent that from happening?   Even more interesting...beverages tend to be less filling than foods in general.  What would have happened if the study participants ate the whey versus drank the whey (like in cottage cheese or a sports bar)?  Would they have lost more weight? 

And it is because of these questions that I have a job.  :)

Happy weekend everyone!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tall People Are More Likely to Get Cancer

Tall people are pretty lucky.  According to experts, they are smarter, make more money, and even live longer.  But here's something for short people to hang their hat on....they are less likely to get cancer than tall people.  

A study this past week in The Lancet Oncology reported that for every 4 inches above 5 feet, women had a 16% higher risk of developing cancer.  Men were not studied in this particular report, but other studies have shown the same thing in men.  And it's all types of cancers that are increased, not just one particular site.  

The obvious question is why are tall people more prone to developing cancer?  Unfortunately, no one really knows.  There are several theories, but nothing concrete.  One theory is that tall people just have more cells than short people.  All it takes is one cell to go awry to start cancer so if you simply have more cells, there's a greater chance that one will go sour.  

Another theory is that tall people have higher levels of hormones, specifically the hormones that stimulate growth in childhood.  These hormones (called insulin-like growth factors) have been shown to increase cancers in laboratory animals and test tubes.  But really, it could be something completely different...for example, maybe tall people consume more pesticides over a lifetime (because they presumably consume more food) or have greater exposure to electromagnetic fields...or maybe this is Mother Nature's way of tossing short people a bone?  

Short or tall, skinny or fat, man or woman, black or white or other...the best we can do against cancer is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise, use sunscreen, and avoid cigarettes.  And of course, encourage all those smart tall people to find a cure!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Italian American Inspiration

It's been a while since my last post.  And I feel bad about that.  Friends would ask why I wasn't posting anything, and I would just shrug my shoulders.  Sure, I was busy (who isn't), but that really wasn't the reason I wasn't blogging.  My blogging spark fizzled out.  Nothing was able to light the fuse.  But I finally found a Italy.

No, it wasn't the food (which I didn't think was that great), or culture, or nice looking young Italians (more on that another time).  It wasn't the constant second-hand smoke coming off every Italian's cigarette (what's up with that?)  It was a man named Paul.  

We flew thousands and thousands of miles to celebrate his 80th birthday.  Here in Illinois, we live about 2 hours from Paul.  But he wanted to celebrate his birthday in the small village where his parents were born.  And so off we went over the ocean for a birthday party.  And so did 300 other people from around the world.

I have always been a believer in you get what you give, good karma, what-comes-around-goes-around...whatever you want to call it.  I just hadn't seen it on the scale that was apparent at the party....every person in attendance was there because Paul helped them, inspired them, taught them a valuable life lesson.  

As a college professor, Paul is in a good position to do this.  He interfaces with hundreds of different people each week, so many of whom are eager to learn from him whether they are 20 or 50 years old.  What's different about Paul is that he goes above and beyond what so many professors do, so that when he has a birthday party on a different continent, people update their passports and fly 10 hours to attend.

Whether it's the Italian in him or the American in him or the Midwest in him or just him, I'm inspired.  And so because of Paul, I'm back to blogging.  And from here forward, I'm going to focus on what I know...the science of food and nutrition and how it can improve lives.  It is my hope that I can teach, inspire, or help others live healthier lives by discussing new research studies and myths about diet and health.   

And mark your calendars for December, 2051!  European location, TBD.  :)