For this Thursday’s Science and Nutrition Nuggets we find that vigorous exercise reduces emotional eating, creatine monohydrate works for weight lifting, antioxidants aren’t always better with more, and moderate nut consumption improves many parameters indicative of good health.
Vigorous Exercise/Sports Helps Reduce Emotional Eating
In a previous blog post I wrote about how nutrition IS king but there is, indeed, a chicken and egg relationship between exercise and nutrition. Briefly just this, you can ruin 60 minutes of hard exercise in less than three minutes of unmoderated eating. Nutrition is king. But there is truth AND research (not always one and the same) that exercise may have more positive effects on weight loss through modulation of nutrition choices that follow consistent exercise than even the calories burned from exercise.
In the present study reviewed the authors looked at emotional eating and sporting activity. They looked at 1562 employees. They found the following …
“High emotional eating was related to weight gain, whereas a high level of sporting was related to weight loss.” “… a consistent moderator effect of sporting on emotional eating was found. …strenuous physical activity can indeed attenuate the positive association between emotional eating and body weight gain.”
“Conclusion: Emotions may drive people with overweight and obesity to overeat. Sports activities may attenuate but do not solve the problem. If we want to cure the disease, psychological treatment strategies have to be developed. (1)”
You gotta love researchers. “Emotions MAY drive …” – Really? May? No, how about “Emotions absolutely, unequivocally, beyond-all-shadows-0f-any-doubt DO drive people with overweight and obesity to overeat.”
What I think is cool about this research is it’s supportive of the benefits of exercise as they relate to nutritional choices. Very powerful. Just makes exercise THAT much more worth it.
Creatine Monohydrate – Yes It Works And It’s Still Being Studied
One supplement I use regularly and almost never go off is creatine monohydrate. I usually talk about my “off” periods like this. “When I go off it’s usually on accident. I run out and forget to re0rder. Otherwise? I’m on.”
Creatine monohydrate has been proven to increase lean muscle mass, strength, muscular power, and even hydration status for those who weight train.
Creatine is not very or at all effective for endurance events. It’s most likely beneficial for things like sprints, jumping events and weight lifting.
In the present study reviewed the authors looked at how creatine may or may not effect performance when the interval between sets was either held constant (about 2.5 mins between sets) or decreased (to about 1 min between sets).
Bodybuilders are well known for training with short rest periods between sets. Professional bodybuilders have the largest actual muscle size of any humans. This is not to say they are the strongest. They are not – per se. But if creatine could improve performance with short-rest between sets training then this could be a positive for anyone wanting an increase in muscle size.
The conclusion, as tempered and conservative as researchers are, was essentially that yes, creatine did improve the strength and muscular performance for those who engaged in either the constant or decreasing-interval groups.
I’ll be honest. From a pragmatic perspective? This is NOT a surprise. I would have been surprised to find the contrary to be honest. In all the years I’ve been using creatine I have found, anecdotally of course, that creatine DOES improve performance when your rest periods are short compared to not using creatine.
But again, remember, creatine’s best use is for explosive, short movements and activities lasting less than one minute before some form of rest.
Antioxidants Helpful or Hurtful For Exercise?
Antioxidants are substances that over-simply-stated help reduce free radicals (reactive oxygen species ROS). Free radicals are portrayed in some mainstream media as always harmful and something we should all but eliminate. But the reality as the authors of this present study reviewed state is this ..
“Indeed, although ROS are associated with harmful biological events, they are also essential to the development and optimal function of every cell (3).”
This reminds me of insulin and cortisol. Too much insulin and you’ll have a hell of a time losing weight. Insulin turns ON fat storage and turns OFF fat loss. But some insulin is always present and insulin is a vital hormone needed to regulate blood sugar among dozens of other biological functions. Cortisol, often called a stress hormone, is also portrayed as evil but it too is necessary for tissue repair and good health. But too much of it can indeed be harmful to health.
Something I wasn’t aware of that I learned in this research article was that there are a number of studies which show that …
“…a growing body of evidence indicates detrimental effects of antioxidant supplementation on the health and performance benefits of exercise training.”
So here we go again right? Are antioxidants helpful or harmful? Well the good news for my loyal 12+ years and counting followers is I don’t need to change my tune here. I’ve been saying since day one that we don’t ordinarily need mega-doses of vitamins and minerals (think antioxidants). But instead we need adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. I’ve written in other posts and articles about the fact that most Americans eating traditional Western-based foods don’t always get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their regular food. Some basic supplementation to close the gaps has been my suggestion. And that’s still my suggestion.
The authors take a bit more conservative approach but this is not out of the ordinary for most researchers and I believe my suggestion of a basic multi-vitamin/mineral isn’t antagonistic to their suggestion which is this ..
“The main findings of these studies are that, in certain situations, loading the cell with high doses of antioxidants leads to a blunting of the positive effects of exercise training and interferes with important ROS-mediated physiological processes, such as vasodilation and insulin signalling. More research is needed to produce evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of antioxidant supplementation during exercise training. We recommend that an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals through a varied and balanced diet remains the best approach to maintain the optimal antioxidant status in exercising individuals.”
I’ll say it this way. You need adequate antioxidants including vitamins and minerals. The overwhelming majority of us, even those engaged in mega-training regimens, don’t need mega-dosing of vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. Eat your veggies. Eat some fruit. Take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Train hard. Done.
Benefits of Nut Consumption for People With Abdominal Obesity, High Blood Sugar, High Blood Pressure
Science Daily reports that “For the first time, scientists report a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS), who are at high risk for heart disease. Serotonin is a substance that helps transmit nerve signals and decreases feelings of hunger, makes people feel happier and improves heart health. It took only one ounce of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) a day to produce the good effects.”
To check the biochemical effects of nut consumption, the researchers put 22 MetS patients on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of 20 patients who were told to avoid nuts.
The scientists analyzed the broad spectrum of compounds excreted in the patients’ urine and found evidence of several healthful changes. One surprise was evidence that nut consumption had boosted patients’ levels of serotonin metabolites in urine, since these findings suggest the role of serotonin in the beneficial effects of nuts. They point out that the study provides the first evidence in humans of the beneficial effects of nut consumption in reducing levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome.
This isn’t the first study touting many benefits of moderate nut consumption. For their health benefits I like nuts. But there’s a big caveat I have to share with you based on real-world results. Nuts are EASY to overeat. Measure out a weighed serving based on the bottle or bag your nuts say is a serving. You will probably fall over in shock. It’s tiny. An unmeasured “feels about right” serving for me can easily be 3-4 times their suggested serving. And I can eat that serving in about 2-3 minutes tops. For that I’ll get 350-600 calories depending. So while nuts can be healthy they can also be detrimental to your weight-loss journey if you don’t weigh and measure with good precision. And, of course, regardless of whether you weigh and measure if nuts are a trigger for you and you can’t walk past the pantry without grabbing a handful then it doesn’t matter whether they’re healthy or whether you weigh and measure – they just aren’t going to work for you. If so? Don’t fight it. Roll with it. Get over it. Don’t eat them.