Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gaining weight the healthy way! Here's how!

I have had a request on advice on how to gain weight in a healthy way, and instead of a private reply, I KNOW she's not the only one with this problem, so I decided to make an entire blog topic out of it!
I have been in the position before where I've been told to gain weight. I'm naturally on the thin side, so if I become more active or get stressed and don't eat as much I lose weight fast. Many people have a hypermetabolism and have a similar issue, and for some people it seems virtually IMPOSSIBLE to gain weight, and yes, believe it or not, some people WANT to. If you are overweight, please don't get offended by this blog, my goal is to help people with all types of nutritional problems, from underweight to overweight and beyond. I love sharing my knowledge with people in all positions and encourage you to ask me for requests if you have questions about your own lifestyle, I will always do my best to answer. :)
There are ways besides stuffing your face with pizza and donuts to gain weight in a healthier way that isn't as shocking (and UNHEALTHY) on your body. Just as with weight loss, weight gain is very similar, just reversing the goals. It is never healthier to gain more than 2 pounds a week, just as in it's not healthier to lose more than 2 pounds a week. Same idea. As I've discussed before, 3500 calories= 1lb, and 7,000 calories=2 lbs. So if your goal is weight gain, you need to attempt to add on an additional 500-1000 calories on top of what you usually eat. This will help with the healthy amount of weight gain. Now, although a calorie is a calorie and whether you eat 500 extra calories of spinach or 500 extra calories of chocolate, the weight gain WILL be the same, but increasing one's weight by foods that are high in cholesterol (meat, cheese, dairy, etc.) or refined sugar (candy, baked goods, sodas) is not the way to go. Although people that have a fast metabolism can enjoy these foods a little more liberally, if the attempt is healthy weight gain, you should stick to foods that have significant amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and bulk. Good foods to achieve this would be protein shakes, such as boost, ensure, and others that have a significant amount of calories, but also provide vitamin benefits as well. Ensure has around 250 calories per can, so two a day on top of your normal diet would help you achieve a 1lb/wk weight gain or one a day and an additional 250 calories from another source. (They often use ensure as a supplement in many eating disorder clinics, and with elderly people that have a hard time with their appetite and weight gain). ALSO, protein bars (although I don't believe in them for people that are trying to get "extra protein" for working out, because they are unecessary) also usually have decent amount of calories that can assist with weight gain. Balance bars usually have around 200 calories and also contain the vitamins and minerals that are beneficial. Although protein supplement shakes can get costly, they are probably the easiest way to gain weight in a healthy way. Protein bars are usually a little cheaper (about $1 /bar). You can also include more food in general. Stick to things that are carbohydrate rich, because they usually have more calories. Bagels, rice, couscous, sandwiches, peanut butter, granola bars, NUTS (high in calories and health benefits like omega 3s), trail mix, etc. There are tons of options to incorporate more food into your diet without feeling like you are overly stuffing yourself. Staying active (walking, etc.) is OK, as long as you are making up for these calories, because if you are already thin, any activity will burn more calories that you need to store and often cause weight loss on top of the already fast metabolism. Hope this helps! <3

I also found a website that might be helpful to those of you who want to gain weight :)

Stay healthy!
Keep giving me your questions and suggestions!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Energy Drinks- what's the deal? Good, bad, side-effects?

I'm not going to lie, occasionally I'll have a red bull, but very rarely, because I personally don't care for them, nor do I feel that "burst of energy" that the commercials talk about, and I certainly don't grow wings. From Monster, Rockstar, NOS, Redbull, Sugar-free Redbull, to Full Throttle, and the hundreds more that are out there, how do you know which ones are good, which ones are bad, and which ones really serve their purpose of providing "energy"?

I'm going to talk a little bit about the facts first. Energy drinks are NOT going to kill most people, BUT they certainly aren't good for you either. I personally don't believe that any of them are good for you, but just an opinion based on the research I have done. I think if you have one maybe once a week or a few times a month, you will be fine, but I know some people that slam these things down like there's no tomorrow.

First I will talk about the negative side of these drinks. Number one: they are EXTREMELY high in sugar (minus the sugar-free ones, but we'll get to those later). We all know sugar in moderation is not a big problem, but in excess, which is what these drinks contain (EXCESS REFINED SUGAR), is not only bad for glucose levels in the blood, it contains massive amounts of calories (15 calories per teaspoon), and excessively high amounts of caffein, well over the FDA limit for soda (which is 65 mg per 12oz can). Caffein can cause a jittery feeling, insomnia, panic and anxiety attacks, stomach problems, rise in blood pressure,  and in rare cases CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIAS, which is where the heart can skip a beat and in some cases is difficult to get back on track causing death. If you are an unhealthy individual who has history of blood pressure problems, heart problems, gastric distress or diabetes, you should at no time drink these. Not to mention, there is no doubt that these drinks are bad for the teeth and aging processes of your body. How much sugar  and caffeine are exactly are in these energy drinks? (Keep in mind there are variations in flavors, so I'm giving the basics here)

Monster:   16 oz Monster, there is 54 g Sugar
                 Caffeine: 160 mg
Rockstar:  16oz Rockstar, there is 62g Sugar
                 Caffeine: 160 mg
Nos:         16 oz Nos has 54 g sugar
                 Caffeine: 260 mg
Redbull:   8.46 oz can of Redbull has 27 g Sugar
                 Caffeine: 80 mg
Full Throttle:  16 oz has 58 g sugar
                      Caffeine: 144 mg

You can see all of these well exceed the amount of caffeine considered safe by the FDA. There is no daily recommended daily intake for sugar grams themselves, but there is an allowance of carbohydrates, also known as polysaccharides, which as you know from my previous discussion are complex sugars. The carbohydrates recommended per day, for the average healthy adult (both male and female) and child, is 130g/day. Most people eat much more than than this, which is one reason the obesity rate is so high. 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4.2 grams of sugar, which is about 4 grams of carbohydrate. NO MORE than 25% of your 130 g carbohydrate should come from sugar, which is around 50g. In each of these energy drinks the range of TEASPOONS of sugar is about 7 (red bull)-15 (the others),  let's take the 15g so at 15x4 g/carb = 60, so there you have it, you've already had over the recommended grams of sugar for the day. Along with the negative side effects I listed above, you can see why energy drinks are not a great choice.

Negative effects of Alcohol and Energy Drinks:
There been a lot of controversy on alcoholic energy drinks and mixing regular energy drinks with alcohol. Why the buzz? In a very simple explanation, energy drinks are an upper, very high in caffeine, and alcohol is a downer (hello? passed out?), mixing high doses of the two can potentially put the heart into shock. Redbull and vodka for example: Redbull has 80 mg of caffeine, which will cause a rise in blood pressure and heart rate, when alcohol is added to this, it can send mixed signals to the nervous system and bring about problems with the rhythm of the heart beat, which in some people who are medically unstable, cause fatal disturbances among the heart rhythms.

Sugar-free Energy drinks:
Although they have less sugar, hence less calories, they still have the same amount of caffeine. So the guideline for the mixing with alcohol remains, and the possible negative effects on heart, blood pressure, and heart rhythm still apply. Because sugar-free energy drinks have less sugar, the effect of the "crash" is much less noticeable.

The Dreaded "Crash":
If you've noticed that quick uppity feeling after you consume and energy drink and notice that about 45 minutes to an hour later you get sluggish and tired, you're not imagining it. The amount and type of sugar (glucose and fructose) that went into your system are high in their glycemic index so they spike your blood sugar rapidly (which is why they are so dangerous for diabetics), but after that spike, your blood glucose levels drop dramatically, which cause fatigue (tiredness), difficulty in concentration, etc.

They "work" for some people, others they don't. In my opinion, when I have an energy drink, I do not care for the jittery feeling, rapid heart rate, and the crash later. I wouldn't recommend energy drinks to most people more than once every week or two, if you feel the need. The side effects are more dangerous and detrimental than I think are willing to risk. The calories, the sugar, and the outrageous amount of caffein are not healthy for your body. It's you decision, this is just my view, giving you the facts.

Have a Healthy Day! <3