Tag Archives: calories

Water For Wellness

The overall picture of wellness can be daunting, but don’t let that stop you.  Your wellness can be tackled one small change at a time, and a big change for your health that really takes little effort is drinking more water.

Don’t underestimate the wonders that water can do for your health.  Water cleans your dishes, car, and your clothes, and who out there doesn’t appreciate how good you feel after a shower?  When you drink water, you’re doing that for your insides.  Water is a key component in your overall health.  It aids the body by flushing out toxins, regulating body temperature, assisting in  digestion and relieving constipation, as well as aiding in weight loss.

Flushing out Toxins – Water allows the body to remove toxins through sweat and urine.  Water also allows for greater function of the kidneys and even helps to reduce the chance of kidney stones by diluting those toxins.

Regulation of Body Temperature – When you get hot, you sweat.  The sweat evaporates off your skin and leaves you with a more balanced body temperature.

Digestion – Water aids the breakdown of food and promotes regular bowel movements. Allowing our body to become dehydrated forces the body to extract water from the colon, leaving stool harder to pass.  Adequate water consumption stops this process, thus relieving constipation.

Weight Loss – Drinking water in between and before meals makes the stomach feel full, reduces the urge to snack, and limits the amount of food we eat at meal times.  Water is also has no calories in it, and replacing soda and other sugar filled drinks reduces our caloric intake.


Are you getting enough ‘sunshine’?

Believe it or not, Canadians have some of the lowest Vitamin D levels in the world with only 10% achieving the optimal level [9]. Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is primarily absorbed through the skin. However at our elevation and longitude here in Calgary, the amount of time needed to spend with our skin exposed to the sun is far greater than most other places around the globe.

Not really a vitamin
Vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin either. Vitamins are nutrients essential for sustaining life that are acquired through ingestion as they cannot be produced by the human body. As vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin then converts into a hormone (ultimately Calcitriol when combined with 7-dehydrocholesterol and processed through the liver and kidneys) for use in the body then it is not a vitamin by definition but more of a hormone precursor. Either way, the end product is a wonderful substance that is primarily responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate which leads to stronger bones and teeth. It has also been linked to an increasing list of chronic health problems such as bowel and colonic cancer, arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What are the best sources?
Despite our geographical disadvantage, exposing your skin to the sun is still the most effective means of acquiring vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D3), especially during the noon hours when the UV index is at its peak. Because this is unfortunately impractical for a number of us, we must resort to foods and supplements to complete our recommended daily allowance (RDA). Egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D2), all other common sources such as cow’s milk, infant formula and other beverages have vitamin D added (D2/D3). Even though these are reasonably good sources, it is likely that you will need to supplement with vitamin D which is easily done through pills, gels or liquids.

How much do I need?
The most accurate measure of vitamin D in your body is through blood work where the recommended volume of 25(OH)D is 100-150nmol/L [9]. This can typically be achieved by consuming between 1500-2000 IU per day (adult). Check the nutrition table on your vitamin D-fortified foods to calculate your intake or use an app such as www.dminder.info .

How Much is Too Much?
Upper limits (UL) for vitamin D vary quite a lot amongst the various institutions (between 4,000 and 10,000 IU) however the most consistent UL rest at around 1000 IU for infants, 2500 IU for children and 4000 IU for adults, including pregnant and lactating women [5].

Vitamin D and Testosterone
A widely-cited study conducted by a team from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of Graz, Austria (coincidentally the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger), identified a significant increase in the amount of total, bioactive and free testosterone in a group of male subjects dosed with 3,332 IU of vitamin D per day for 1 year versus a placebo group which experienced no change [7]. Testosterone is vital for many daily functions in males and significant in supporting resistance and athletic training as well as sexual health.

Those most at risk of being deficient
The benefits of adequate vitamin D intake and the potential risks of being deficient extend beyond bone and dental health so it is important to know if you are at risk. A receptor recently identified in most tissue and cells in the human body adds credence to the argument for Calcitriol affecting a wide range of genetic and muscular functions. Those most at risk of complications arising from inadequate consumption are infants exclusively breastfeeding (breast milk is naturally low in vitamin D), adults over 50 (the skin becomes less adept at absorbing vitamin D from the sun), those with skin darkly pigmented with melanin (the skin is less able to create vitamin D from sun exposure), and those with medical conditions that affect the cells and organs e.g. Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease.

Too manageable to overlook
Although the upper and lower limits vary, the common thread is that we are almost universally deficient in our consumption of a vital nutrient that is very easy to address. A quick search of online pharmacies yields prices as low as $5 for a 3 month supply (2000 IU/day). With this level of accessibility and a low propensity for negative side effects, supplementing your diet with adequate levels of vitamin D makes too much sense to ignore. Get your sunshine today!

Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
YMCA Eau Claire
gstarlin@calgary.ymca.ca


Are you getting enough ‘sunshine’?

Believe it or not, Canadians have some of the lowest Vitamin D levels in the world with only 10% achieving the optimal level [9]. Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is primarily absorbed through the skin. However at our elevation and longitude here in Calgary, the amount of time needed to spend with our skin exposed to the sun is far greater than most other places around the globe.

Not really a vitamin
Vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin either. Vitamins are nutrients essential for sustaining life that are acquired through ingestion as they cannot be produced by the human body. As vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin then converts into a hormone (ultimately Calcitriol when combined with 7-dehydrocholesterol and processed through the liver and kidneys) for use in the body then it is not a vitamin by definition but more of a hormone precursor. Either way, the end product is a wonderful substance that is primarily responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate which leads to stronger bones and teeth. It has also been linked to an increasing list of chronic health problems such as bowel and colonic cancer, arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What are the best sources?
Despite our geographical disadvantage, exposing your skin to the sun is still the most effective means of acquiring vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D3), especially during the noon hours when the UV index is at its peak. Because this is unfortunately impractical for a number of us, we must resort to foods and supplements to complete our recommended daily allowance (RDA). Egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D2), all other common sources such as cow’s milk, infant formula and other beverages have vitamin D added (D2/D3). Even though these are reasonably good sources, it is likely that you will need to supplement with vitamin D which is easily done through pills, gels or liquids.

How much do I need?
The most accurate measure of vitamin D in your body is through blood work where the recommended volume of 25(OH)D is 100-150nmol/L [9]. This can typically be achieved by consuming between 1500-2000 IU per day (adult). Check the nutrition table on your vitamin D-fortified foods to calculate your intake or use an app such as www.dminder.info .

How Much is Too Much?
Upper limits (UL) for vitamin D vary quite a lot amongst the various institutions (between 4,000 and 10,000 IU) however the most consistent UL rest at around 1000 IU for infants, 2500 IU for children and 4000 IU for adults, including pregnant and lactating women [5].

Vitamin D and Testosterone
A widely-cited study conducted by a team from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of Graz, Austria (coincidentally the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger), identified a significant increase in the amount of total, bioactive and free testosterone in a group of male subjects dosed with 3,332 IU of vitamin D per day for 1 year versus a placebo group which experienced no change [7]. Testosterone is vital for many daily functions in males and significant in supporting resistance and athletic training as well as sexual health.

Those most at risk of being deficient
The benefits of adequate vitamin D intake and the potential risks of being deficient extend beyond bone and dental health so it is important to know if you are at risk. A receptor recently identified in most tissue and cells in the human body adds credence to the argument for Calcitriol affecting a wide range of genetic and muscular functions. Those most at risk of complications arising from inadequate consumption are infants exclusively breastfeeding (breast milk is naturally low in vitamin D), adults over 50 (the skin becomes less adept at absorbing vitamin D from the sun), those with skin darkly pigmented with melanin (the skin is less able to create vitamin D from sun exposure), and those with medical conditions that affect the cells and organs e.g. Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease.

Too manageable to overlook
Although the upper and lower limits vary, the common thread is that we are almost universally deficient in our consumption of a vital nutrient that is very easy to address. A quick search of online pharmacies yields prices as low as $5 for a 3 month supply (2000 IU/day). With this level of accessibility and a low propensity for negative side effects, supplementing your diet with adequate levels of vitamin D makes too much sense to ignore. Get your sunshine today!

Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
YMCA Eau Claire
gstarlin@calgary.ymca.ca


Portion Sizes

When we start talking about nutrition we often get into conversations about macronutrients, how much water to drink, having “clean” foods as the mainstay of your diet and so on. What we can avoid, and it’s really far too important to overlook, is portion size.

When we enjoy a particular food it is really easy to gobble up far more than we really require. For example, a portion of pasta is half a cup. Yes, that is right. HALF a cup. Your cupped fist is about one cup and that sure isn’t too much pasta, is it? A standard restaurant sized plate of pasta will check in at about four cups plus whatever is added in sauce and a side dish.

The Canada Food Guide suggests that our portion sizes be adhered to according to our gender and age. It is just a guideline but can offer some good suggestions on what your portion sizes should look like. The biggest “bang for your buck” always comes in the form of vegetables and a bit of fruit. They are packed with nutrients and have a much lower caloric cost than most other foods.

The next time you’re eating a meal have a good look at how much food is actually on your plate. Would it amount to one cup? Two? More? If it’s mostly veggies then that is fantastic! If it is mostly rice then maybe it’s time to have  good look at measuring out your servings for a few days to get a good idea of what your ideal portion size looks like.


Next Kids’ Health Crisis: Caffeine?

We try to post upbeat stories on the YMCA blog – but once in a while we come across something that veers down a less postive path that is worthy of sharing for the greater good.

In the article Generation C: Is Caffeine the Next Kids’ Health Crisis? which recently appeared on the Health.com website talking about not just how uch caffeine appears in our food/drinks, but how a shocking amount is being consumed by young people.

Stats listed include things like over the past 30-years, caffeine intake amoung young people has spiked an incredible 70% and 2/3 of the younger generations consume caffeine on a regular basis.

This article is worthy of checking out. Maybe discussing the article is a good way to have open dialogue with your kids/youth about what they are consuming and making healthy choices?


Next Kids’ Health Crisis: Caffeine?

We try to post upbeat stories on the YMCA blog – but once in a while we come across something that veers down a less postive path that is worthy of sharing for the greater good.

In the article Generation C: Is Caffeine the Next Kids’ Health Crisis? which recently appeared on the Health.com website talking about not just how uch caffeine appears in our food/drinks, but how a shocking amount is being consumed by young people.

Stats listed include things like over the past 30-years, caffeine intake amoung young people has spiked an incredible 70% and 2/3 of the younger generations consume caffeine on a regular basis.

This article is worthy of checking out. Maybe discussing the article is a good way to have open dialogue with your kids/youth about what they are consuming and making healthy choices?


Burning Calories: Short Bursts of Exercise vs. Long Workouts

Check out this article written by Alex Hutchinson and published on The Globe & Mail website entitled What Burns More Exercise: Short Bursts of Energy or Longer Workouts.

Here’s a snippet from the piece:

“If you’re trying to burn calories by running, a kilometre is a kilometre. Doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, because you have to move the same mass (you) over the same distance.

Or at least that’s been the conventional wisdom. But with all the debate these days about the relative merits of long, slow workouts versus short, sharp ones, it’s worth a closer look at that claim. It turns out that, if you’re willing to push hard enough to go anaerobic, you’ll get extra energy burn during and after the workout.”

View the full article on The Globe & Mail website.

 


True or False? Exercise Will Make you Lose Weight.

True or False – Exercise Will Make You Lose Weight–trick question.

FALSE. Exercise enhances weight loss ONLY if it creates a calorie deficit. There is a myth that people who constantly exercise become thin. This just simply isn’t true. How many people do you know who engage in activities that burn TONS of calories, like marathoners, gym rats, or weight-lifting fiends, yet still don’t have body fat percentages that they’re happy with? Probably a few, right?

Another huge misperception that people have is how quickly they can destroy a calorie deficit within only a few minutes of eating a few “harmless” snacks. Many people don’t realize the that in about 30 minutes of moderate to somewhat strenuous exercise, you burn about 300 calories, but that in 3 minutes of little “rewards” for either the great sweat session you just put in or for something completely unrelated like drinks with friends or indulging a sweets craving…those can easily add up to 300+ calories and now you’ve just undone that hard-earned deficit in a matter of minutes. For example, something as seemingly harmless as a Grande White Chocolate Mocha with nonfat milk and no whipped cream…doesn’t sounds that bad, right?

344 calories. There goes your workout right there

If your goal is to burn as many calories as possible, add weight lifting to your program to increase your afterburn. You will burn fat for longer post workout than cardio alone.


True or False?

Women who strength train will get big, bulky muscles.

False. Women lack the hormones needed to make their muscles big like that of men. Even the biggest of female bodybuilders are smaller than male bodybuilders. Women who have overly large muscles often get them because they lift very heavy weights, exercise for several hours a day, and consume many thousands of calories. Sometimes they are also blessed with muscle fibers that get bigger from strength training. Strength training is something all women should do to improve the quality and quantity of their lives!

An added bonus of weight training is the “after burn” also know how many calories burned post workout.  If you work hard on your cardio, for example run on a treadmill for one hour, your metabolism returns back to “normal” an hour later.  Weight training can take a solid 8 hours for your body to recover and return to normal resulting in a higher metabolism during the day.


How Often Do You Exercise?

Written by Social Media Youth Volunteer, Sheriza Jiwani

Exercise is one of the things that can be procrastinated or pushed aside in day to day life.

The minimum recommended time for youth to exercise is 60mins per day, but how many people actually do? In a sample survey conducted, only 13% of the population surveyed exercised for the recommended amount of time. This is a growing concern for everyone’s health. First off, fitness is beneficial for your health; it prevents obesity, helps your sleep better at night and strengthens your heart as well as other muscles in your body, and prevents illnesses. Along with this, fitness can help boost your mood, give you more energy, build self-confidence and self-esteem. This happens because you release endorphin, a chemical that naturally relieves pain and lift mood. All together, these things can make a huge difference in your life.

There are many things you can do to exercise. For example, you can do things from playing an organized sport to weight training to an adventurous hike. All these things can get your heart going and build muscle. It is essential to push yourself so you can feel a burn, but not to the extent where your feel like you are going to faint you have worked so hard. Take it a little bit slower. Do what is comfortable for you but also allows you to feel a burn and to push yourself. When you build resistance to that (it becomes super easy), then go a little bit further.  

There is another extreme of exercise that is pretty important to know about. It’s the compulsive exerciser. The pressure to succeed or look like (as an example) an angel from Victoria Secret causing you to exercise more frequently than normal, can be a sign that you are a compulsive exerciser. Another sign is if you put fitness ahead of your commitments, your relationships, and your homework. It is important to exercise, but there has to be a balance between your life and fitness.

http://kidshealth.org has said that if you answer yes to any of the following questions, it can be a sign of compulsive exercise:

  1. Do you force yourself to exercise, even if you don’t feel well?
  2. Do you prefer to exercise rather than being with friends?
  3. Do you become very upset if you miss a workout?
  4. Do you base the amount you exercise on how much you eat?
  5. Do you have trouble sitting still because you think you’re not burning calories?
  6. Do you worry that you’ll gain weight if you skip exercising for a day?

If you feel that some of these may be true for you, seek help from a guidance councellor, coach, parent, teacher or another adult you trust.

Exercise can have a positive impact on your life, that is, if it is a healthy amount for you. It should be something fun that you want to do. Be sure to do what is healthy for your body and always consult a physician before you proceed in any hardcore exercise.


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