7 Points To Know About Metabolism

We keep hearing about metabolism. But what is metabolism? What does metabolism mean for me? 

1. What is Metabolism?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, metabolism is a series of chemical and physical processes to convert food into energy, and to use that energy.

2. Is there more than one type of metabolic process?
Yes! There are three different types of metabolic processes that we use daily:
  • Food Breakdown - Every time we eat or drink something, our body has to break down that food into energy.
  • Physical Activity - Once we have energy stored up in our cells, we use that energy to perform all sorts of tasks,  from the very simple walking across the room to the training for a marathon.
  • Resting or basal metabolism - While you may not be eating, or doing any physical activity, your body is still using energy on basic activities, like breathing, your heart beating, your cells growing, your thyroid releasing the appropriate hormones to regulate your body.

3. Is metabolism different for each person?
Yes! Just as each person exhibits different physical features: brown eyes or blue, blonde hair or red, tall or short; our metabolisms are just as variable.

4. Are there biological predictors that affect metabolism?
Yes! While researchers have not been able to pinpoint exact differences in metabolism among individuals, they have seen general trends that affect metabolism: age, gender, genetic disposition, and the ratio of lean muscle to fat tissue. 

5. I’ve heard that your metabolism changes when you get older.
Researchers have observed that your metabolism does slow as you age, however they have not been able to determine why. Some believe that they human body is preparing for periods of undernutrition, and therefore conserving energy.

6. Are there external factors that can affect my metabolism?
Yes! This is where a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain a healthy metabolism through the following:
          • Moderate exercise
          • Getting enough sleep
          • Well-balanced nutritious diet

7. How does metabolism relate to weight loss?
Your body will try to defend a certain weight range that it is used to. When you begin your weight loss goals, your body is inherently going to challenge your resolve and trigger biological behaviors to stay within that weight range. 

The more you know about how YOUR body works, the better you can work with it. 

Contact the experts at Metabolic Medical Center to evaluate your metabolism and assess your weight loss goals.

Crazy for Cauliflower

Maybe you’ve joined the Paleo-diet craze. Or you’ve jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, voluntarily or involuntarily. Now you are looking for a starch or grain substitute. 

Whispers about cauliflower keep reaching your ears.
Now, potatoes, in its multiple varieties, aren’t inherently bad for you. Nor are other grains such as rice, or any flour-related products like bread and pasta. These foods all provide different amounts of calories, vitamins, minerals, and sugars, details of which can be found at the USDA Food Composition Database .  

But we have been encouraged to consume large quantities of these foods. Potatoes, in particular, seem to be a major staple side dish of nearly every eating establishment in some form or another.

Enter the amazing cruciferous vegetable: the cauliflower. 

Like potatoes, rice, and other grains, there are different varieties of cauliflower which also have differing percentages of calories, vitamins, minerals, and sugars.
However, one advantage cauliflower has over other starches and grains is a significantly lower number of calories per serving. For anyone working towards weight loss, cauliflower is a welcome substitute.

Cauliflower has made some bold inroads into the culinary work.
Steak it! Roast it! Fry it! Mash it! Rice it! Puree it! Bake it! 
Even food production companies have recognized the value of cauliflower and have begun producing cauliflower as a flour substitute to be used in making.. well, in making anything that you would use regular flour: tortillas, pizza crust, quiche crust, couscous.

Visit the MMC Girls on Facebook for some great cauliflower recipes.

Consult the experts at your local Metabolic Medical Center to discuss how to incorporate cauliflower as a starch substitute to meet your daily nutritional needs.

Glycemic Index? Glycemic Load? What's the Difference?

Have you heard of glycemic index? Or glycemic load?

Most folks who have heard these terms probably first heard them in a doctor’s office, often in discussion with diabetes. Others may have heard it from nutritionists in consultations to make healthier food choices.
Glycemia is defined as the presence of glucose (a specific kind of sugar) found in the bloodstream.

This sugar provides energy to all the cells in our body. Our bodies acquire these sugars by breaking down the carbohydrates in the foods that we eat. Our bodies work very diligently to maintain an equilibrium to keep us functioning properly and healthfully. While our bodies let us know when we need more energy, we all have different nutrition requirements and health conditions that can affect the amounts and types of carbohydrates we can consume; and therefore the amount of sugars our bodies can process.

This is where the glycemic index and the glycemic load factor in.

Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index is a system that ranks food based on how fast that human body converts it carbohydrates into glucose. Foods are ranked on a scale from 1 to 100.

Researchers in Canada, Australia, and other sites around the world, independently measured the glucose levels of many test subjects. These glucose levels were measured multiple times before, during, and after the consumption of 50 grams of a single food item, such as 50 grams of red grapes. The glycemic index number assigned to the food based on the average increase in blood glucose levels. Food is generally classified as follows:
The lower the glycemic index, the slower the food is digested, absorbed, and metabolized by the body; causing a slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels. These less drastic changes help the body sustain an internal balance. 

The Glycemic Index changes when the food is cooked or processes in some way; and is based on the natural sugars. 

But how often do we eat 50 grams of anything? Let alone by itself? 

Granted, visiting the local farmer’s market or U-pick farm may make you want to consume a whole carton of freshly picked blueberries or strawberries right there on the spot.
In truth, our meals are a smorgasbord of different food items often prepared together in a single dish, then often combined with other dishes also made of other multiple food items. 
Calculating your Glycemic Index per meal suddenly becomes much more complicated, and the numbers seem daunting. 

Glycemic Load to the rescue!

Glycemic Load
Glycemic Load takes the Glycemic Index of a food and multiplies it by the quantity (grams per serving). These numbers are much smaller because you don’t normally eat 50 grams of something in one sitting. 

Like the Glycemic Index, the Glycemic Load also has a classification system:
These numbers are a lot less intimidating. You would then add the glycemic load of everything on your plate to determine your total sugar intake per meal. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation , you should aim to keep a your daily glycemic load under 100 for optimal health.
Knowing this, as well as following general portion control guidelines, will help you make better food choices. 

Contact the experts at Metabolic Medical Center to discuss how to manage your nutrition and your daily glycemic intake.

8 Tips to Begin Exercising Safely When Overweight

So you are overweight. And you want to change it. You realize that exercise will be a contributing factor to your weight loss.

Watching the gym rats seemingly effortless, steady, intense workouts can be down right intimidating. Believe it or not, fit individuals often face many different health challenges than the overweight individuals, and a few of the same.
Your overweight body is presenting you with an assortment of biological challenges:
          • extra weight
          • limited range of motion
          • stressed joints
          • decreased metabolism

Adding to these physical challenges are the mental and emotional stresses that you place upon yourself as you start to lose weight. It becomes a game that you have to play with yourself to achieve your goals.

Here are some basics for starting exercise:

  1. Consult a physician if you have serious health conditions or are on medication. Exercise may affect the medications you are on, and vice versa.
  2. Start slow with simple everyday activities. Being able to do simple everyday activities without pain or effort will become a major milestone in your weight loss goals. These can include walking up the stairs or getting out of a chair without using something for leverage. 
  3. Pick activities that do not require any equipment and can be done anywhere.
  4. Set a daily time goal: do activities at certain times of the day, and for a certain amount of time.
  5. Set an intensity goal: at some point, an activity will become easy to accomplish. Then it is time to take it to  push yourself to the next level. 
  6. Wear appropriate clothing: loose fitting clothes for breathability, compression clothing to limit some excess body motion, and shoes designed for your foot structure, body movement and the physical activity.
  7. Record your progress. This exercise journal will help you track not only your physical progress but also your emotional reactions to the activity and/or your motivations towards the exercise. A journal will help you adjust your activities accordingly, and help you work towards your long-term goals.
  8. Pair up with someone who will keep you company, keep you motivated, and keep you honest about your weight loss goals.

Exercise is meant to be stressful to your body, but in a good way. Extra weight will exacerbate this regular physical stress; but the extra weight is also a hindrance to a life that you may want.

As your body adjusts to the new movements, you can adapt your exercise regime to include group classes (spinning, water aerobics, etc.) and weight training.

Developing a healthy lifestyle, of which exercise is an important component,  is like any other new skill. It takes time to learn. No one instantly becomes fluent in a foreign language, or starts at Level 50 in a video game. And you will continually have to make adjustments to maintain a certain skill level in any endeavor.

Contact the experts at Metabolic Medical Center to adjust your nutrition to your increased physical activities and weight loss goals.

Family Nutrition and Exercise: Helping Children’s Self Image

We have all been there. We have been on the playground as a child. We have been teased about our appearance: our size, our clothes, our hair. We have all reacted differently. Some of us have gotten into fights. Others of us have had our friends defend us. Some of us have withdrawn and avoided the playground at all costs. 
Indoor activities, especially video games and watching TV, become the norm, as does the ease of snacking…snacking on something sweet (ice cream, cookies, cake) or salty (chips, pretzels) while drinking sugary drinks (soda, energy drinks). 
These activities are all reactionary to outside interactions, which, sadly, often follow us into adulthood. Our perceptions of ourselves, even as young children, affect our physical and mental states. This can lead to major health issues as children and have lasting effects on us as adults.
A change in the home environment can help parents struggling with their own self-image and health challenges. These home changes can also affect children in a positive way.

According the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 35% of adults  and 17% of children in the United States are currently diagnosed as obese. In adults, some cultural groups have higher obesity rates than others, particularly non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Asians. Age, education, and economic status can also affect obesity in adults. Childhood obesity has been linked to the education and income of the adults in the household.

Many states and communities have developed programs targeting the home as the primary setting to promote family health. These programs target areas that lack the resources with a positive, culturally appropriate message. Fit Families focuses large Hispanic population in New Mexico through the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service and New Mexico State University. The University of Maryland Extension has a similar program through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

In the home, and particularly with young children, parents set the first and primary example of healthy lifestyle choices, which can be affected by the following:

  • accessibility to neighborhood grocery stores
  • affordability of healthier food options
  • accessibility of healthier food options in the kitchen

  • knowledge of meal preparation and cooking
  • designation of and commitment to family mealtimes (often restricted to specific locations such as a dining table)

  • encouragement of and participation in age-appropriate physical activity
  • limitation of excessive screen time (television, tablets, computers, and other devices)
  • positive reinforcement and support

While there are many external influences that can alter our perceptions of ourselves, a positive home environment that encourages a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and recreational or organized exercise can lead to a positive view of ourselves and our children.

Contact the specialists at your local Metabolic Medical Center to design your family weight management program and take control of you and your family’s self image.

Weight Loss Help: 11 Steps in Meal Preparation

Have you ever thought about the mental challenges for weight loss? Some of this is carving out dedicated time for your dietary counseling sessions. Or making sure you make it to whichever fitness class has caught your interest. Juggling your time with family, work, and social commitments can also challenge your weight loss goals.

Then comes your actual eating habits within the course of a day, a week, a month.

We have all encountered some of these scenarios:
  • You forgot to pack your lunch, and someone ordered pizza for the office.
  • You are stuck in traffic on your lunch break trying to find a decent salad
  • You are rushing to make your lunch in the morning, and the only things you have in the refrigerator are pickles and mustard.
  • You made it through your intensive exhaustive workout, and getting a sub seems so convenient.
Let’s be honest: meal prep takes a little bit of forethought. It doesn’t have to happen all the time, but when it does, it makes your day and week go smoother and helps you keep your weight loss goals in mind. These 11 tips can help you stay the weight loss course:
  1. Make a meal plan: Pick simple recipes that you are familiar with.
  2. Check your pantry for ingredients you already have.
  3. Stick to your grocery shopping list to avoid impulse buying of unhealthy foods.

  4. Have good quality containers with sizes and shapes that help you with portion control.
  5. Use a food scale to help you when you’re not necessarily counting calories.
  6. Take some time just to prepare your fruits and vegetables: peeling, chopping, slicing and dicing.
  7. Make the complicated recipes first followed by the simpler ones, including freezer-friendly meals which can also help on very hectic days.
  8. Have healthy condiments around to season your meals.
  9. Eat leftovers. Depending on what meal you’ve made, leftovers can be transformed into another dish. 
  10. Organize food in your refrigerator to make it easily accessible and in the appropriate areas for the optimum temperature.
  11. Store healthy snacks around the house, in snack sizes to help with your portion control. 

It is much more challenging to eat healthy when you do not cook your own meals. Making your own system will help you take control of your weight loss and lifestyle goals.

Consult with your local Metabolic Medical Center for more tips on meal preparation for weight loss.

Weight Loss, Diabetes, and Memory Loss

Diabetes is often known as the sugar disease. It is a metabolic disorder in which the body has challenges in breaking down food into the simple sugar glucose. Glucose is a main source of fuel for growth and energy.

The pancreas, a large organ located behind the stomach, creates the hormone insulin, which allows glucose to move from the blood stream into our cells. Diabetes, in its various forms, occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. The glucose will pass out of the body along with other waste products, unable to provide vital energy for the body.

Diabetes has been linked to memory loss, as the brain like other organs in the body consumes glucose for energy. The brain consumes about 20% of energy used by the body. When the brain does not receive enough energy, it slowly loses cognitive function. Many individuals diagnosed with diabetes may or may not have other health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, stress, stroke, an underactive thyroid, or others which may cause or exacerbate memory loss and which can be deeply affected by diabetes. These can cause long-term changes in brain function and development.

Research studies have been conducted regarding the effects of weight loss as a limiting factor in long-term damage to the brain. 

The Look AHEAD program, a multi-site study, followed thousands of participants, diagnosed with diabetes or obesity, for more than a decade. Some participants received standard diabetes education management and counseling, while others also participated in intensive counseling that included diet and exercise support. 

While the Look AHEAD study has concluded with similar cognitive results among the two groups, participants still reduced overall glucose levels that are toxic to the brain. Researchers did not use the intense lifestyle interventions to track changes in other factors (depression, medication use, sleep apnea, etc.) that could lead to better diabetes control. 

The WISE Program is currently investigating the effects of bariatric surgery on brain function with obese and diabetic patients. Again, two groups will participate in the study, one group electing to have the surgery, and the other not.

Weight loss in general has been found to help provide energy to the body, and therefore the brain. Those diagnosed with diabetes have the extra challenge of providing energy to the body and the brain which greatly affects their lifestyle choices. Acute awareness of best practices to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind will help diabetic individuals continue to live a long and memorable life.

Metabolic Medical Center can help you manage your diabetes, reduce your weight, and help reduce memory loss.

What is it about sprouts?

Sprouts have been a medicinal and nutritional mainstay in Asia for centuries. Interactions with the Asian continent introduced sprouts to many cultures, but it was the emigration of those of Asian descent across the globe that allowed the sprout revolution to really take root. Sprouts began gaining popularity in the United States in the 1970s, and hasn’t stopped.

Alfalfa Sprouts
So, what is a sprout? Sprouts are those very very young plants emerging from their seeds. There are many different sprouts available on the market; the most familiar being bean sprouts. But sprouts can also come from grains like buckwheat and rye, nuts, and beans like garbanzo beans; grass like alfalfa; greens like sunflowers; leafy vegetables like radishes; or from the mustard family, especially broccoli. 

Broccoli Sprouts
Sprouting is a good introduction into growing your own food for the uninitiated on a small scale with no soil in any climate. Sprout growth and consumption does not come without risk. The US Food and Drug Administration provides guidelines and are developing mandatory produce safety regulations for the sprout industry which are also useful for growing sprouts at home.

Onion Sprouts
Like its fully formed vegetable counterparts, sprouts provide you a healthy dose of vitamins, fiber, protein, and fats. As young versions of the vegetables, sprouts are more easily digestible as they have not yet developed the thick fibrous exteriors. The USDA Food Composition database provides detailed health information on a variety of vegetable sprouts. Sprouts have altered chemical makeup, reducing their starch contents and increasing their vitamin and mineral levels. When soaked, they also break down other anti-nutrients which allows the body to absorb more of these vital vitamins and minerals.

Mung Bean Sprouts
In addition to the general healthy benefits of sprouts, there are ongoing studies investigating the disease-preventing phytochemicals in sprouts to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and various cancers.

See the experts at Metabolic Medical Center and add sprouts to your next meal to get a super nutritional punch from small package.