Category

Health

Can You Be Too Old for Weight Training?

By Health, Muscle, Nutrition

“Sarcopenia” is the gradual loss of muscle mass that begins for most women after age 35. Contrary to popular belief, this decline in muscle mass and strength is not a result of the aging process; rather, it’s due to inactivity.

However, current dogma around resistance training among elderly women has been a barrier. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs as a result of “normal ageing.” It is not entirely due to sickness but is also a normal aspect of the ageing process. This is not to be confused with cachexia, which is the uncontrollable loss of muscle and/or body fat mass. While cachexia is most commonly associated with malnutrition caused by illnesses such as cancer, sarcopenia is defined as a progressive loss of muscle mass caused by changes in nutrition and physical activity. This is significant because sarcopenic people can keep their fat mass, resulting in a “thin fat” body composition. Sarcopenic obesity has more serious health effects, as we will discuss in another chapter.

“Few would argue that some form of resistance training should not be part of a complete exercise program; however, the bulk of literature on the cardio-protective effects of aerobic exercise has continued to make this form of exercise preeminent and the central focus of many physical activity guidelines in Canada, the United States, and many other countries.”

Studies show that resistance training is the best way to prevent and reverse the loss of muscle for older adults. For women, in particular, resistance training is an effective long-term strategy to preserve muscle and positive changes in body composition.

The science is clear: improving your muscle mass is something anyone can (and should) do.

Can women gain the same relative amount of muscle mass as men?

By Fitness, Health, Muscle

If you’re like most women, you’re curious about whether doing the same routine as the men in your CrossFit class will give you the same results. On average, baseline muscle mass in men is 36% greater than in women. In terms of muscle distribution, women tend to have less upper body muscle mass compared to men.

Men have a slight genetic advantage over women because of their higher baseline muscle mass, particularly in the upper body. However, that doesn’t mean that women will gain less muscle mass than men, despite lifting the same amount of weights.

When men and women exercise for the same amount of time, they can accomplish the same amount of gains in muscle mass. While the increase in size was similar between men and women in the study, the relative strength of women actually increased more than men because they were starting with a smaller overall body size.

In addition, it’s worth noting that muscle mass gain may be more affected by individual variations in terms of sensitivity of resistance training responses rather than gender differences.

What This Means For Women:
It’s possible to gain as much muscle mass as men, but it may take more work on your end because of your slightly lower baseline muscle mass. However, if you’re worried about getting too big, it’s also unlikely to happen due to differences in testosterone (we’ll cover that later,) and how you train.

The first step toward achieving enough amount of muscle mass is to do a body composition analysis to determine how much you have. Click here to read more about the various types of BIA devices that analyse body composition.

Outcome-Based Wellness Program: Self-Care Zone in Workplace

By Corporate Wellness, Health, Press

In Malaysia, the rising health-related issues and problems faced by the corporate workforce currently is the ever-increasing medical cost, the increase number of critical illnesses reported, and the continuation of an exceptionally unhealthy lifestyle of business professionals.

These core issues, mainly because most people do not practise healthy lifestyle and conduct regular medical checkups to understand their health condition.

Thus, lack of health awareness has became a major challenge for the corporate workforce as they struggled to lead a good corporate wellness program, and improve employees’ health consistently over time.

 

 

 

 

Outcome-based Wellness Program

Most employers start a wellness program to improve employee health, improve employee productivity, or reduce their health care costs.  The goal of every wellness program should be to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. If wellness programs are successful, they will improve employee health and reduce healthcare costs. Since every company with a wellness program is trying to produce one of these outcomes, so here comes to the next question for Human Resource Department…

Is your corporate wellness program successful? How does HR justify if the outcome is successful despite of using the participation rate? 

These aren’t just the challenges that most of the companies are facing, by just implementing a wellness program for the sake of organising.  The purpose of any wellness program should be to improve the health of employees, sustainably. That means the program should be focused on behavioral change in lifestyle, and we all know, it takes long time make this as a company’s culture.

Some corporates use incentives to motivate employees to improve their health. Any kind of incentives-based program that are being used in the nation is only to create a short-term gimmick but it might not be able to make a sustainable healthy workplace.

Hence, this is the reason why many of the HR nowadays looking for a better solution which it can be successfully integrated into an incentive strategy and still able to increase health awareness through a routine health evaluation tool.

InBody Self-Care Zone in collaboration with PMCare

PMCare and InBody sought to address these issue by finding a creative way to administer and empower the concept of self-care among the corporate workfoce. InBody Self-Care Zone is a product of an intellectual collaboration between PMCare and InBody as the primary solution to promote self-care with outcome-based program that shows evidence of employees’ health by improving body composition as the basic of overall health assessment. With this initiative, PMCare and InBody sought to support Malaysia’s transformation in cultivating a healthier lifestyle and becoming a renowned Vibrant Living Nation.

The Self-Care Zone is a special area equipped with InBody proprietary state-of-the-art health devices that enables employees to track their health parameters such as heart rate, muscle mass, fat percentage, segmental lean & fat analysis, and more in the body compositions. The devices are also integrated with the InBody Mobile App that streamlines the measurement records on the devices with an internal data system, which can be used by employees to monitor their health parameters and track any improvements from time to time. Besides, the human resource department can also use the LookinBody Web to manage data of employees’ measurement analysis in order to have a complete picture of overall health status changes in the organization.

On top of that, the Self-Care Zone is a great catalyst for the corporate workforce to encourage and empower their employees to adopt a healthier, active lifestyle – act as an self-motivational tracker. Serving as the main health empowerment area of any corporate office, it provides the right atmosphere and environment for employees to take a more active control in the management of their personal health. Setting up this InBody Self-Care zone at PMCare office enables their employees to also track their progress regularly, helping them to continue a sustainable overall health journey.

PMCare and InBody had also run this self-care zone program for the employees in Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia  . Watch the review from  Ms Christina – Head Of Human Resource shared about her point of view in HR about their experience in this program.

 

For more corporate solutions, please feel free to contact our Corporate Wellness Specialists or email us at info@inbody.com

 

 

Why Men Are More Prone To Heart Disease?

By BIA, Blog, Health, Nutrition, Press

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading causes of death in Malaysia. Heart disease is responsible for nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths in Malaysia.  Malaysians in their 20’s and 30’s are currently suffering from heart attacks. Ischaemic heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack, was the leading cause of death among males in Malaysia in 2018, accounting for 17.8% of all deaths.

It is important for men to understand what heart disease is, the risk factors and symptoms, and how to prevent heart disease.  

What is heart disease? 

Cardiac disease encompasses a wide range of heart disorders, including coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD), arrhythmia, heart failure, and heart attacks. Coronary heart disease develops when the arteries that deliver blood to the heart and body harden and narrow due to plaque buildup.

This plaque is composed of components found in the body such as cholesterol and other fatty lipids. Atherosclerosis is the term used to describe the hardness and constriction of the arteries. When this plaque accumulates, blood flow is constricted, resulting in a reduction in the amount of oxygen delivered to the heart. This can eventually lead to a heart attack.

High blood pressure and heart disease

Having high and uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Over time, high blood pressure taxes the blood vessels and heart by making them do more work less efficiently. The friction and force that come from high blood pressure will do damage to the delicate tissues lining the arteries. Plaque forms along with these tiny tears and lesions. As more plaque builds up, the narrower the arteries become, raising blood pressure even more. It becomes a vicious cycle.   

Many people have no symptoms of high blood pressure until it is too late. It is important to regularly check your blood pressure to make sure it is within the healthy range.  

Why men are more prone to heart disease

Men have an elevated risk of heart disease. According to National Health & Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019, hypertension affects men 3 times more than women under the age of 30.

Other risk factors for heart disease include being overweight or obese, having a poor diet, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, and having diabetes.  

Symptoms of heart disease  

The symptoms of heart disease can often be “silent,” and go undiagnosed until someone experiences the signs of a heart attack or arrhythmia. Symptoms of these events may include:  

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain in the upper back or neck  
  • Heartburn or indigestion  
  • Nausea or vomiting  
  • Dizziness  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Extreme fatigue  
  • Palpitations or feelings of fluttering in the chest  
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, neck, or abdomen  

It’s important to note that not all people who have heart disease experience signs or symptoms. Half of the men who died suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms or warnings. 

How can you lower your risk for heart disease?  

  1. Check your BP: regular monitoring of your blood pressure will help you stay informed and in control of your blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure, it may be helpful for you to keep a log of your blood pressure readings and take them to review with your doctor.  
  2. Quit smoking: Smoking is known to increase blood pressure and can greatly increase your risk of heart disease.  
  3. Check cholesterol and triglyceride levels: Work with your doctor to regularly check your cholesterol and triglyceride labs to make sure you stay within a healthy range.  
  4. Eat healthy food: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been tied to a lower risk of heart disease. Limit red meat, fried foods, high sodium foods, and sugary drinks and desserts.   
  5. Stay active: Regular physical activity can help keep your blood pressure in check and keep your arteries relaxed and pliable. Find an exercise that you enjoy doing and aim to get about 30 minutes of exercise per day.  
  6. Limit alcohol: Excess alcohol intake is tied to an increased risk of heart disease. Drink in moderation which means 1-2 drinks per day. An alcoholic drink is defined as a 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz liquor or spirits.   
  7. Lower stress: Too much stress can tax the heart and blood pressure even more. Find healthy ways of relaxing like taking a walk, reading a book, listening to calming music, or spending a few moments in quiet meditation or prayer each day.  

Men need to bear in mind their risk for heart disease and the associated risk factors. It’s advisable for men to keep their regular check-ups with their doctors, and complete the recommended labs. Checking your blood pressure regularly may also be beneficial, and those who struggle with high blood pressure or have a family history of hypertension may want to consider an at-home blood pressure monitor. Let’s have a look at our clinically validated kiosk type blood pressure monitor, BPBIO 750 Blood Pressure Monitor.

Why Building Lean Mass Is Important for Everyone (even you)

By Blog, Fitness, Health, Muscle

People have all sorts of reasons for working out and developing Lean Body Mass.  Athletes are interested in muscle building to improve their performance on the field. Bodybuilders want muscle growth for that trophy-winning physique.  For us regular joes and janes who struggle to find enough time to diet and workout, it can be as simple as looking losing weight and looking lean.

Whatever the reasons, recent research has made a very strong case that building Lean Body Mass (LBM) has health benefits far beyond aesthetics and athletic performance.  Sufficient amounts of LBM are actually critical for building a healthy life over the long-term.

This doesn’t mean that you have to work out twice a day lifting heavy weights. Male or female, young or old, everyone can benefit from increased Lean Body Mass.  Here are four important health benefits that you gain from developing your Lean Body Mass.

1. Lean Body Mass Combats Obesity

According to the 2020 survey, an estimated 54.2 percent of Malaysian adults are overweight or obese, a 4 percentage point rise from the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), it’s hard to avoid advertising that guarantee weight loss in X number of weeks, or a new workout technique that promises to shred fat off of your frame, or that new diet that promises to increase your metabolism and burn body fat.

However, most of these shortcut approaches fail to address the basic issue regarding weight gain: it’s about calories in vs. calories out.

“Energy imbalance” in this context refers to consuming more calories than your body needs.  Do this for a long enough period of time, and you’ll gain fat. Gain enough fat over a long period of time, and you can become overweight or obese.

“Energy intake” refers to how many calories you consume through eating and drinking, in other words, your diet.  This is what many people think of when they think about calorie reduction.

However, its “energy expenditure” where you can really make a big effect on balancing your calories in and calories out, and this is why developing your Lean Body Mass is so important.

Lean Body Mass is associated with your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the amount of calories you burn at rest.  The greater amount of LBM you have, the greater your BMR will be. This means that people with greater amounts of Lean Body Mass will have a greater energy expenditure while doing nothing, helping to avoid calorie imbalances, and ultimately, obesity.

2. Lean Body Mass Helps You Battle Disease

When you become sick and your body becomes stressed, your body’s immune system gets kicked into high gear.  When that occurs, your body’s nutritional demands change. In order to support the immune system and contribute towards recovery, your body requires protein – and a lot of it.  Diet alone won’t supply the amount of protein required to defend against illness. Where will your body find protein reserves? Your Lean Muscle Mass.

For example, in burn victims, the need for increased protein can increase tremendously: around 4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about four times the normal daily intake of protein. Too much protein for a person to consume through a healthy diet.  This demand for protein exceeds the demands put on the body during fasting (times where you aren’t bringing in calories), which is when muscle breakdown occurs.  The same trend was also found in cancer survivors. In those whose overall body protein decreased due to cancer and cancer therapy, the rate of recurrence of cancer increased.

In both cases, the ability to survive these serious conditions ultimately came down to how much Lean Muscle Mass each patient had to begin with, and how much their bodies lost due to increased demand for protein.

Bottom line: your Lean Muscle Mass can act as protein reserves that your body can draw off of when the immune system is triggered.  If you have built sufficient Lean Muscle Mass through diet and workout, your body will have a much easier time fighting off infection because it will have enough protein in reserve to power the demands caused by the immune system.

If you don’t have sufficient Lean Muscle Mass, your body will have a much more difficult time defeating and recovering from illnesses because it won’t have the type of nutrients it needs to power the immune system.

3. Lean Body Mass Contributes to Strong Bones

One common concern that both men and women have as they age is the onset of osteoporosis or frailty in general.  These conditions can put people at serious risk in the later stages of life because they can lead to falls and broken bones.  Sometimes, these falls are so serious that some people never walk again.

What can preserve bone density and bone mass later in life?  Maintaining sufficient and healthy amounts of Lean Body Mass.

In the Mediterranean Intensive Oxidant Study, researchers found that lower amounts of skeletal muscle mass, a significant and major component of Lean Body Mass, was correlated with weaker and thinner bones in elderly men.  Because Lean Body Mass is made up of multiple components that cannot be readily increased, such as the weight of body water and internal organs, increasing skeletal muscle mass is the primary means of increasing Lean Body Mass. This, in turn, builds up greater bone strength and density.

In order to protect against thin and weak bones, maintaining and developing sufficient skeletal muscle mass is key.

4. Lean Body Mass Can Protect Against (and potentially reverse) Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance occurs when the body is unable to clear the blood of excess glucose due to the presence of Fatty Free Acids.  The release of Free Fatty Acids into the body is generally associated with high amounts of Fat Mass, which lessens insulin’s ability to clear glucose from the blood.  If this insulin resistance becomes significant over a duration of time, the development of Type 2 diabetes can occur.

Once again, developing sufficient amounts of Lean Body Mass can help prevent the onset of insulin resistance/Type 2 diabetes.  Because insulin resistance/Type 2 diabetes can strike anyone at any age, ensuring that your LBM levels are sufficient while keeping your Fat Mass low (i.e. a healthy body composition) is very important for everyone.

In a large-scale study of over 13,000 people over a 6-year span conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine, the researchers concluded their findings by illustrating an inverse relationship between skeletal muscle mass and insulin resistance.  Not only that, they found that for every 10% increase in skeletal muscle mass, there was an 11% decrease in insulin resistance.  For people without diabetes, the decreases were even more pronounced.

Developing your Lean Body Mass also has the added benefit of increasing your BMR, which will increase your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) all on its own, which, when combined with proper diet and nutrition, causes Fat Mass reduction.  This reduction contributes to less release of Fatty Free Acids into the body in the first place, which will, in turn, make it easier for the body to clear excess glucose and transport it into muscle cells.

Fitness for Long-Term Health

Muscle building isn’t something that only bodybuilders and athletes should worry about; for long-term health, everyone can benefit from building their LBM.

For this reason, it is important to monitor the changes in your Lean Body Mass by having your body composition measured.  Body composition analysis can divide your weight into its various components – Fat Mass, Lean Body Mass, etc. – which will give you a much clearer picture of your overall fitness and health.

Building Lean Body Mass is an investment in your future. The more LBM you build while you are still young and healthy, the more you will have in reserve when you really need. But before you start adding protein shakes and resistance workouts to your daily regimen, you need a plan. The first step to building a healthy level lean body mass is to measure how much you have with a body composition analysis.  You can learn about the different types of BIA devices that analyze body composition and the types of outputs you can expect to receive by clicking here.

How to Maintain Muscle Mass While Losing Fat During Lockdown? With General Manager of Peak Fitness Gurney Plaza – Mr. Leonardo Azevedo

By Blog, Fitness, Health, Muscle, Nutrition

You may not be able to crush your body composition’s goals during a public health crisis especially months of gym closure lately in Malaysia, but you can definitely keep from losing your hard gained muscle mass. We are so glad to have Mr. Leonardo Azevedo, General Manager of Peak Fitness Gurney Plaza who has over 22 years of experience in the Sports & Fitness industry, share us about his top 3 tips that can ensure you still maintain muscle mass while aiming for the body fat to fall off (even though your gym is still closed).

“Most of the time when people want to cut away their body fat and cut down to a healthier and more aesthetic physique, they often think the only way is with hours and hours of tireless exercise at the gym. But, if you can’t exercise at the gym due to our current Government restrictions, then all isn’t lost.” – says Mr. Leonardo.

A balanced food & calories intake, proper muscle stimulus and quality sleep can definitely change the way you look despite the challenges we face by being forced to workout at home. Sounds like a perfect recipe for losing your gains, doesn’t it?

Here’s why you shouldn’t worry about losing your gains during the lockdown with these 3 rules to help you out.

#1: Balanced Food and Calories Intake

You don’t need to find a bunch of weird or novel exercises in order to maintain some semblance of fitness. In fact, by controlling your calories intake and balancing the amount of nutrients such as Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats in your daily diet routine, you can definitely maintain your mass while still achieving fat loss. Based on Scientific research, it’s also recommended an average daily intake of 30 (female)/35 (male) calories per Kilogram of Body Weight to maintain the weight in individuals from 20 to 30 years old who exercise moderately (home workout) 3 to 5 times per week.

In order to maintain your Muscle Mass, the most used way to divide this total amount of calories by the nutrients you should intake daily macronutrient of  40:40:20 (Protein:Carbs:Fat). As per science we know that, a gram of carbohydrate and protein contains 4 calories each, and a gram of fat, though, contains 9 calories. Therefore, Mr. Leonardo also give an example of a calculation on daily macronutrients intake with the sample reference as follow :

Female who has total Body Weight 60KG (aged between 20 to 30 years old)

* Calories per day = 60KG x 30 calories = 1800 calories day

* Daily Protein Intake (40%) = 1800 x 0.40 = 720 calories / 4 calories (1 gram of protein) = 180grams of proteins per day.

* Daily Carbohydrate Intake (40%) = 1800 x 0.40 = 720 calories / 4 calories (1 gram of carb) = 180grams of carbohydrates per day.

* Daily Fat Intake (20%) = 1800 x 0.20 = 360 calories / 9 calories (1 gram of fat) = 40 grams of fats per day.

You can figure out the proper food based on its nutrients, speak to your certified personal trainer or look for a professional nutritionist to help you on a more personalized nutrition advice.

#2: Proper Muscle Stimulus 

When it comes to Muscle Mass maintenance, engaging the proper exercise intensity is very important to achieve optimum results. Functional training is, in most cases, the way to exercise from home. I also would recommend the usage of some household items to replace gym equipment. Suspension training, and small equipment such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells are very good and easy to handle at home. Besides that, it can produce a very efficient load as muscle stimulus. Always search for assistance from Fitness Professionals in order to create the best and most efficient way to get the best results working out from home. In order to ensure that you can be consistent in your workouts, there are some Professional Online Home Trainings that you can join as well.

#3: Improve Sleep Quality

You might think this counter productive to losing weight, as sleep doesn’t burn many calories. But as you sleep you recover and two important hormones come into play: Leptin and Ghrelin. These two hormones tell your body when it feels satiety and hunger. If you sleep badly, the levels of these hormones will be unbalanced and science has found that you’re more likely to be over eating and getting overweight.  Besides, poor sleep quality and short sleep duration are associated with an increased risk for muscle mass reduction. Thus, according to research, sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is crucial, especially if you are looking to change body composition, increase muscle mass and/or if you want to improve quality of life. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release as well. Like Mr. Leonardo said, he recommends at least 8 hours of good sleep every night.

 

Conclusion

Keep life and the gym workout in perspective. Your habitual mindset should keep up a healthy lifestyle, which it shouldn’t be affected by any of these challenges. When this is over—and it will be over at some point— we don’t want you to end up feeling worse, deconditioned, and incredibly detrained. One thing we should be grateful is: Staying fit is one way we may have to protect ourselves against getting sick over the years. A healthy body usually has a healthy immune system. Although it doesn’t give you any guarantees, well it’s certainly a better option than doing nothing. So do your best to be well.

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Leonardo Azevedo

Mr. Leonardo Azevedo from Brazil with over 22 years of experience in the Sports & Fitness industry. Holding Bachelor’s Degree in Sports & Science, FIFA Certified Conditioning Coach, Specialized in Physiology of Exercise, Certification in Biomechanics of Exercise and Sports Nutrition, Extensive Experience in Fitness Business Management.Currently working as General Manager at Peak Fitness Gurney Plaza, Brazilian Eagles Football Academy Head Coach & Owner, Mitts Boxing Fitness MD, SEA Sales Representative at Rezzil Sports.

Is Your Dad Bod In-Style or Unhealthy?

By Fat mass, Health

Men have been working out to increase muscle mass for decades. Every generation comes up with new phrases that refer to this phenomenon, such as getting “ripped” or “swole” or “yoked,” as a result of men searching for the optimal physique that has been influenced by athletes, movie stars and other public figures.  In recent years, a new opposing trend has emerged in pop culture known as the Dad Bod. Instead of marveling at the muscular look, celebrities and every-men alike have embraced a rough-around-the-edges approach to the male aesthetic.

The term Dad Bod has been used to classify men who are slightly overweight and don’t possess a sculpted frame. The positive attention this new trend has received could be seen as an effort to promote a positive self-image in men who otherwise may have had some insecurities about the way they look. Society embracing an archetype that is more attainable by a higher percentage of the male population is an uplifting occurrence and allows men to realize that you don’t have to have the perfect body to be considered healthy and attractive. The human body does need a certain level of fat to survive, as fat serves as an insulator for your core body temperature and aids with hormone production. However, with obesity rates higher than ever, it’s important to emphasize weight management and metabolic health, so recognizing body types that are close to the optimal body fat range is a good start to improving general health.

The focus on Dad Bods have provided a positive shift in visual standards and self-image, which is very beneficial for the male population, but they can also promote dangerous habits as well. Here is how you can tell if your Dad Bod is a good look or evidence of an unhealthy lifestyle:

Avoid These Behaviors

Dad Bods are thought by many to be caused by typical “dad” activities: eating a lot, drinking a lot, and exercising very little. You have probably seen on multiple occasions the “TV Dad”, sitting in his arm chair with a big plate of food and a beer, glued to his big screen. Making these activities an everyday routine can be a recipe for disaster on your health. While having the chiseled muscle tone of a bodybuilder seems like a far cry for TV Dad and other regular joes, moderation is almost always the way to go, and achieving your Dad Bod look shouldn’t exclude you from living a healthy lifestyle.

Overeating 

Overeating is a common problem in the present day, as taking in more calories than you need leads to the body storing the excess as fat. Too much body fat leads to a myriad of health issues, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Overeating over extended periods of time can also lead to the development of visceral fat, which is a dense collection of fat tissue that sits in the trunk and surrounds the organs. Visceral fat is harder to get rid of, and often forms as a result of weight gain during adulthood. Its presence in the abdominal region causes the risk of hypertension to increase significantly, especially in younger men. It’s never too early to take control of your diet, as the habits you pick up during your college years can have long-term consequences and build an unhealthy base for your Dad Bod. Limit your caloric intake, and add more variety to your diet to avoid developing visceral fat around your waist.

Lack of Exercise

One way to offset the extra calories and combat the metabolic conditions that can be caused by a poor diet is regular exercise. However, even if you don’t think you carry a bunch of extra weight, a regular exercise regimen is important to ensure that you aren’t skinny fat. You don’t need to possess the muscle tone of a bodybuilder, but skeletal muscle tissue plays a large role in breaking down carbohydrates and promoting other regular body functions. The only way to develop muscle tissue is through exercise, so it can’t be ruled out even if you believe you have reached an acceptable weight.

An easy way to determine if you have solid metabolic health, no matter what body type you have, is to examine your lean muscle mass compared to your body fat. Those with Dad Bods should consider adding an exercise program to their daily routine, especially resistance training, as the benefits are too vital to pass up.

Excess Alcohol Consumption

Plenty of men have enjoyed an ice-cold beer, or two, or three… you get the point. The “beer belly,’ which is often considered the flag for dad bods, is also a common sign of years of excessive alcohol consumption. Alcoholic beverages aren’t inherently unhealthy, as moderate alcohol consumption (1 drink per day for women and 2 for men) can actually have positive health effects. The line between alcohol benefiting your health and hurting your health is an extremely fine one, as that second or third drink pushes you into excess alcohol consumption, which brings similar health problems as overeating or a lack of exercise.

The “beer belly” also refers to the collection of visceral fat, which emphasizes the need for moderation, as the collection of fat around the organs is difficult to get rid of, and carries an elevated risk of metabolic syndrome. While a perfectly trim waist does not need to be the goal for every man, avoiding adding mass through too many drinks is crucial to preventing metabolic syndrome and creating a healthy body.

Find a Happy Medium

The magic of the Dad Bod is that imperfections are appreciated instead of judged. Perfection is a goal that can’t be reached, but a healthier lifestyle is easily attainable. In order to have a Dad Bod that is also healthy, you must find a happy medium between positive body image and healthy body composition.

Applying the Dad Bod mindset to your daily choices is a great way to improve your health. Instead of tackling an intense diet, emphasize making a few healthy choices. Pick a smaller portion at your next meal or add some color to your plate with different produce options. With the obesity epidemic affecting populations all over the world, simple methods to improve nutrition can make all of the difference.

The formation of the Dad Bod trend has addressed a troubling side effect of social media, in which individuals work to develop the appearance of a successful life, instead of actually doing the work to create that success. Embracing your Dad Bod means separating the stigma of working out, which is now viewed as obsessive and self-involved. Exercise should be viewed as a therapeutic activity which is used to improve emotional and physical health. Working out doesn’t have to completely transform your appearance. It can just transform your quality of life.

Maintain Your Healthy Dad Bod

You have a Dad Bod, which wasn’t a big deal 10 years ago, but now is the desired look. That’s a great position to be in, but don’t let the trend negatively affect your health. Remember that having a Dad Bod doesn’t preclude you from making healthy choices. Moderation in eating and drinking is key, and exercise is a valuable addition to your daily life. Instead of seeking perfection in your appearance and lifestyle, just appreciate how you look and strive to improve your unhealthy practices little by little.

The Dad Bod trend is an encouraging development in the world of self-image. If used correctly, a positive shift in social norms and overall health can occur. The “perfect physique” should be whatever Bod you have now, but your health and body composition can still be a work in progress. Strive for regular improvement, not perfection. That’s what the Dad Bod is all about.

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Evan Hadrick is a former collegiate track athlete who graduated from the University of Miami and currently works as a track & Field/Cross Country coach and athletic administrator in Dallas, TX. You can read more of his work at StateoftheU.com, where he is an assistant editor contributing sports commentary about University of Miami athletics.

How Body Fat Sabotages Your Immune System

By Fat mass, Health

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that no one likes being sick.

What if there was something you could do to improve your health and reduce your sick days?

As it turns out, having a healthy body composition contributes to a stronger immune system, helping you to resist minor infections and reduce your risk of getting serious diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.

What’s a healthy body composition? Put simply, there are two main areas of focus: sufficiently developed muscle mass and a body fat percentage in a healthy range  (10-20% for men; 18-28% for women).

Unfortunately, over ⅔ of Americans are classified as overweight, with a shocking 1/3 of Americans classified as obese . Americans are on average heavier than any other time in history. There has been a similar increase in heart disease and diabetes diagnoses. That is why the CDC says obesity is an epidemic in this country.

How does this tie back into the immune system and your health? It all has to do with the nature of body fat.

What Happens When Your Immune System Activates

When your body gets sick – due to a bacterial infection, a virus, etc. – the body’s defense system gets triggered, causing inflammation.  This is thanks to your “innate” immune response: your body’s all-purpose defense mechanism that serves as the first wave of defense against foreign invaders.

The infected area becomes red and swollen due to increased blood flow, which can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Think of what happens to your nose when you get a cold. That’s inflammation.

This reaction is caused by white blood cells called macrophages and the proteins they emit called cytokines (this word will be important in a minute). These cytokines encourage inflammation.

You may have not thought of it this way before, but inflammation that’s triggered by your immune system is typically a good thing. That means your body is releasing the appropriate hormones and proteins, activating your white blood cells to start the recovery process, and working to defeat the infection.  If there wasn’t any inflammation, your body would be in serious trouble.

So if inflammation is what naturally occurs when your body’s immune system is triggered, how does inflammation relate to body fat, body composition, and obesity?

When Inflammation Becomes Permanent

When white blood cells cause inflammation, it’s a sign that your body’s immune system is properly functioning. Inflammation begins, white blood cells attack the foreign invader, the invader is neutralized, and the inflammation subsides.

This is how your body’s defense system naturally works. However, white blood cells aren’t the only type of cell that have the ability to emit cytokines.  A second type of cell that can emit cytokines and cause inflammation are adipocytes or fat cells.

Most people know that your body stores excess calories as fat so that you can use it later for energy if food becomes scarce.  

Just recently, scientists have learned that fat is an active endocrine organ, one that can secrete a whole host of proteins and chemicals, including inflammatory cytokines.

What happens when your body keeps adding on more and more adipose tissue?  Cytokines are released by your fat cells, triggering inflammation. In fact, obesity is characterized by researchers as “ a state of low-grade, chronic inflammation.

This means that increased fat cells puts your body in a constant state of stress/immune response. Your body is always in a state of inflammation; your immune system is permanently “switched on.”

Think of your body’s immune system like your body’s crack team of defenders, highly trained and designed to repel any and all foreign invaders.  In this scenario, your adipose cells are like enemy agents planted in your home territory. Their mission is to spread fear of an attack at all times, and they trick your defenders to be on high alert at all times.

As you might have guessed, perpetual, never-ending inflammation isn’t good for the body.

Sabotaged Immune System

Obesity causes a state of chronic inflammation, and this causes your immune system to become compromised.  Chronic inflammation is a serious issue and can lead to the development of minor and serious illness and conditions.  Here are a couple examples:

  • Influenza (the flu)

You may remember several years ago that there was a particularly deadly strain of the flu virus called H1N1.  As hospitals started to fill up with the sick, doctors in Spain noticed something: overweight and obese patients were beginning to show up in disproportionate numbers in intensive care units, and they were staying for longer than people who were not obese or overweight. Increased inflammation due to increased pro-inflammatory cytokines appeared to be a leading factor contributing to their increased flu risk.

Stories like these led  researchers in Canada to analyze the flu records for the previous 12 years, stretching from 2008 back to 1996. They found that people who were obese were more likely to come into the hospital for respiratory diseases than those who were not obese. They concluded that obese people were an “at risk” population during flu seasons due to their compromised immune response.

  • Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading killer of adults in the United States.  Although there are many factors that can contribute to heart disease, recent research has pointed to inflammation caused by obesity as one of the most significant factors contributing to its development.

The main culprits are, again, the cytokines produced by excess fat in the body.  These cytokines cause inflammation of the walls of your arteries, causing damage to the arteries and increasing pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. When you have high blood pressure, it means that your heart isn’t pumping blood effectively, and it starts to enlarge. An enlarged heart is a significant risk factor that can lead to heart failure if steps aren’t taken to remedy it.

  • Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition characterized by insulin resistance – the inability of your body to remove excess sugar from your blood. Just like heart disease, there are many related factors that lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes, and obesity has long been associated with the development of diabetes.

However, with the discovery that fat is an active tissue that can secrete cytokines and wreak havoc on the immune system, researchers have been able to show a link between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Increased inflammation was shown to disturb a whole host of processes and the endocrine system. When obesity and the subsequent inflammation is left unchecked for a long time, it increases the risk of developing insulin resistance, and eventually diabetes.

Who’s At Risk?

A compromised immune system and inflammation aren’t issues that only concern overweight people.

Many people know that being overweight and obese is unhealthy and can lead to serious diseases over time.  Admittedly, poor diet and low levels of activity contributing to heart disease and diabetes over time in obese people isn’t exactly news.

Unless you start to take into account what the word “obese” actually means.

Classically, obesity has been defined by having a high Body Mass Index (BMI), a way of expressing the relationship of your weight vs. your height.  If your BMI exceeds 25, you’re labeled “overweight,” and once your BMI increases beyond 30, you progress into different levels of obesity.

Doctors have used BMI for obesity assessment for years, but unfortunately, BMI has led to confusion by inappropriately labeling people as obese or overweight when they are not, or healthy when they should be aware of their obesity risks.

Obesity doesn’t always simply mean “fat.” What obesity does mean is the excess accumulation of body fat, but what’s excess for you might not be for someone else. It is possible to have a “normal” BMI but a lot of excess fat; this is called being “skinny fat.”  Crucially, skinny fat people share many of the same metabolic risks as people who have high BMIs, including the risk of inflammation and a faulty immune system.

This is why you should look at having too much body fat not only as a problem for people who are visibly overweight, but also for people who don’t have enough muscle relative to how much body fat they have.

One way to determine whether you’re at risk is to have your body composition analyzed.  This assessment method will reveal your body fat percentage, a number that you can use to understand if the amount of fat you have is healthy or excessive for someone of your size.

How To Get Your Immune System Back In Line

Fortunately, because researchers have been able to identify body fat (and particularly, internal visceral fat)  as a major cause of inflammation and a compromised immune system, they’ve also been able to measure improvements when body fat is reduced. The goal to getting your immune system to function properly again is to stop it from being perpetually triggered.

In a study that followed obese patients who lost weight with caloric restriction and bariatric surgery, the researchers observed a significant reduction in immune system activation, which means less inflammation.  This reduction in immune activation occurred before and after surgery, which indicates that surgery isn’t always necessary: just the reduction of fat mass – and specifically, visceral fat.

Improving your body composition through a mix of strategies that promote fat loss and muscle gain can allow you to reduce your fat mass in a healthy manner that doesn’t require drastic measures like bariatric surgery.  Although this process can and will take time, the effects of having an improved and healthy body composition are immense, not the least of which is reducing overall body inflammation and having your immune system function properly again.

Healthy Immune System, Healthy Life

We’ve gone over a lot of very technical stuff here, so let’s go over the main points for you to take away.

  • Excess Body fat sabotages your immune system by leaving it permanently triggered
  • Inflammation caused by body fat makes you sicker and more vulnerable to disease
  • You can reduce and reverse these changes by reducing your body fat
  • Anyone can be at risk, depending on their body fat percentage, not their weight

No one likes being sick, and no one likes having to manage diseases like diabetes that stick around for a lifetime. To help you avoid these problems, one of the best ways to determine if your body fat is excessive and/or causing inflammation is to have your body fat percentage determined.

Once you have your body fat percentage, you can compare it against the normal ranges for men and women.  For men, you’ll want to be no higher than about 20% body fat; for women, try to stay under about 28%. These ranges may vary slightly depending on whichever source you consult, but these are good guidelines and agree with the ranges set by the American College of Sports Medicine and American Council on Exercise.

If you reduce your fat mass to a healthy range, you will subsequently reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Having a killer “beach bod” may not motivate you, but what about a healthy body and fewer sick days?

Everyone should see the value in that.

 

Your Metabolism and Your Body Composition

By Fitness, Health

You probably don’t think about your body composition when you’re thinking about your metabolism. But you should.

You probably think about it in terms of speed: “My metabolism is fast” or “my metabolism is slowing down.”  If that sounds like you, you’re not alone: simply googling the word “metabolism” yields 4 articles in the top 10 all based around boosting/increasing your metabolism for weight loss.

People are naturally afraid of their metabolism slowing and the weight gain they know comes with it. To some extent, those worries are well-founded.

Metabolism is linked with weight gain and loss because of its a biological process involved with energy and calories.  

The Mayo Clinic defines metabolism as:

…the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.

Notice how it doesn’t mention anything about the speed you process your food. That would be digestion.

In medical terminology, metabolism is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the minimum number of calories your body needs to perform basic bodily functions. BMR is usually expressed in terms of calories.  Your Basal Metabolic Rate also has another interesting quality: the more Lean Body Mass (which includes muscle, water, and minerals) you have, the greater your BMR will be.

When we talk about metabolism, we should always start the conversation with how many calories your body needs. But because your BMR and Lean Body Mass are linked, that means any conversation about metabolism becomes a conversation about your body composition.

Your Body Composition Is Linked To Your Metabolism

Why is it that some people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and never experience any weight gain, while other people – even skinny people – feel like whenever they have one bite of dessert it instantly goes to their waistline?

The reason is that metabolism can vary in size.

Take a look at these two body composition profiles, and see if you can spot the difference.

Beyond the obvious differences in weight, the Person A has a much smaller Basal Metabolic Rate than the second.  This means Person B needs more calories than Person A in order to provide their body with the necessary energy to function without losing weight.  Because the BMR is bigger, the metabolism is “bigger.”

Greater than height and gender, the most important factor playing into BMR is the amount Lean Body Mass each person has.  That’s because, as research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states, the more Lean Body Mass you have, the greater your Basal Metabolic Rate will be. That is why strength training for muscle gain, which in turn will increase your lean body mass, is recommended as a way to increase your metabolism.

This is why people who are big or above average in weight can eat more than people who are smaller.  Their body literally requires them to eat more to maintain their weight, and specifically – their Lean Body Mass.

OK, you say, but these two people are very different in body weight – of course, the second person will have a bigger metabolism.  Take a look at the two people below, who we’ll call “Jane” and “Sarah”, two individuals who are similar body in age, height, weight, and gender.

Despite being similar in age, height, weight, and gender, these two people have very different body composition profiles.  As a result, they have different Basal Metabolic Rates. Although Jane has a body weight within the normal range (identified by being near the 100% mark), her body composition is defined by having more fat mass and less lean body mass and skeletal muscle than Sarah.

The person below has a lower body fat percentage and more Lean Body Mass – which is why when looking at this person, you’d describe them as “lean.”  Again, because this person has more than 10 pounds more Lean Body Mass, her Basal Metabolic Rate comes out over a hundred calories greater than the person above.

Metabolism and Weight Gain Over Time

Image Source: Flickr

Let’s take a deeper look at what you might call a “slow” metabolism. Far from being an issue of fastness or slowness, weight gain is almost always the result of a caloric imbalance that goes unchecked over a long period of time.

But first, something needs to be clarified – your Basal Metabolic Rate is not the only factor that plays into your overall caloric needs, and it’s not the total amount of calories you need in a day.  There are two other major influencers, which are:

  • Your energy level – how active you are
  • The thermic effect of food – the energy your body uses to digest your food

These taken together with your Basal Metabolic Rate provide your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This is the number of calories your body burns in a day.

BMR is a necessary piece of information to estimate TDEE. Although they’re not exact, equations exist for estimating your TDEE based on your activity level and BMR. These are based on multiplying your BMR with an “activity factor” – a number between 1 and 2 – that increases the more active you are (and decreases when you are less active, regardless of your appetite).

To take a closer look into metabolism and weight gain, let’s take the two people whose body compositions we’ve looked at above, Jane and Sarah, and see what could happen in a real world example and accounting for diet and exercise.

For this exercise, we first need to estimate TDEE for Jane and Sarah, using their BMRs as a guide.  Based on Jane and Sarah’s compositions, it would be fair to assume that Jane does less exercise/is less active than Sarah, so we’ll assign an activity level of “Sedentary” for Jane and assign “Lightly Active” for Sarah.

Using these numbers and multiplying it by the appropriate activity factor, we can estimate Jane’s TDEE to be 1573 calories and Sarah’s to be 1953 calories, a difference of 380 calories.

Notice how although the difference in BMR was a little over 100 calories when activity levels are factored in, the difference in actual caloric needs becomes magnified.

Now that we have an estimate of the calories Jane and Sarah will need/burn in a day, let’s give them calories to take in. Let’s put them both on a diet of 1,800 calories a day – the estimated caloric intake suggested by the USDA for sedentary women between the ages of 26-30.

Assuming that Jane and Sarah both follow the 1,800 calorie diet perfectly without any extra, high caloric snacks or treats, Jane would end each day with a calorie surplus of 227 calories/day. Sarah would end each day in a slight calorie deficit of 153 calories a day.

When you are in a caloric surplus – taking in more calories than you use – and live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, you will experience weight gain, specifically, fat. An extra 227 calories a day might not seem like a lot at first – that’s about a single soda -, but over time, a surplus of 227 calories a day becomes 1589 extra calories a week and a surplus of 7037 extra calorie a month: roughly 2 pounds of fat gain per month.

calorie surplus

Bottom line: despite being the same height, same gender, similar weight, and similar ages, because of the difference between Jane and Sarah’s body compositions, Jane will experience weight gain over time while Sarah might experience some weight loss (because of her calorie deficit), even though their diets are the same.  That’s because the differences in their caloric needs, although seemingly small at first, increase to significant differences when allowed to persist over time.

It’s not about their age or anything else; it’s about their body compositions determining their metabolism/caloric needs.

Making Your Metabolism Work For You

Because your metabolism isn’t something that slows down or speeds up depending on things like age, this actually gives you some control over it.  With the correct exercise and dietary plan, you can make your metabolism work for you

  • Improve and increase your metabolism

It all goes back to improving and maintaining a healthy body composition.

Because your body needs more energy to support itself when it has more Lean Body Mass, working to increase your Lean Body Mass can actually increase your Basal Metabolic Rate, which can have a huge impact on your TDEE once you factor in your activity level.

  • Avoid a decrease in your metabolism

For many people, simply maintaining their metabolism or avoiding a “slowdown” (which as we’ve seen, is a myth right up there with muscle turning into fat) is an important goal.

How can you avoid a decrease of your metabolism?

In short: by maintaining the Lean Body Mass that you already have.  That means maintaining your Skeletal Muscle Mass.

Your Skeletal Muscle Mass isn’t the same as your Lean Body Mass, but it is the overall biggest contributor to it. It’s the muscle that you can actually grow and develop through exercise, and increases/decreases in SMM have a strong influence on increases/decreases in Lean Body Mass.

Skeletal Muscle Mass is best developed through strength training and resistance exercise along with a proper diet.  A regular exercise plan that includes strength training and resistance exercise will help you maintain your Skeletal Muscle Mass.

This can be especially important as you age.  As people become older and busier, activity levels tend to drop and a proper diet can become harder to maintain as responsibilities increase.  Poor diet and nutrition can lead to loss of Lean Body Mass over time, which leads to a decrease in overall metabolism – not a slowdown.

  • Balance your diet and with your metabolism

The example of Jane is a good example of a well-intentioned dietary plan that doesn’t match the metabolism of the person practicing it.

Even though Jane has been led to believe that 1,800 calories is right for her based on age and gender, her metabolism doesn’t require that caloric intake, and she will end up gaining weight despite her efforts to eat a healthy diet. In the end, she will probably end up blaming her “slowing metabolism.”

It’s examples like Jane’s that show how important understanding the link between metabolism and body composition is.

How much Lean Body Mass do you have?  What might your Basal Metabolic Rate be?  These questions should be answered first before starting any weight loss or diet program, as well as conversations about metabolism.

The first step is always to get the information you need to get the answers to these questions by getting your body composition accurately tested.  Your metabolism and your body composition are strongly linked, so in order to truly understand your metabolism and weight, you must get your body composition tested.

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