Ways TV is making your Fat
Your TV is making you fat. In fact, it’s killing you. And your children too.
While watching television is not inherently hazardous—unless you accidentally roll off the couch onto a hard floor—TV viewing time is associated with weight gain, an increased risk for weight-related disease and a shorter life. An Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 22 minutes. By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes. Long term, that means an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect their, ehem, season finale to come 4.8 years sooner than a person who does not watch TV.
But wait. It gets worse: The results hold true, study authors say, even for people who exercise regularly. There are a number of reasons why the boob tube is not only hindering your weight loss, it's making you and your family fat. Here are 7 of them:
It Frees Up Your Hands for Munching
Computers, TVs, smartphones, tablets, game systems: all can be blamed for keeping us sedentary and mesmerized by a screen, but only the television, researchers say, is responsible for weight gain. A study in the journal Pediatrics showed teenage boys who reported paying the most attention to what was playing on television weighed 14.2 pounds more than teens who reported paying the least attention. For girls, the difference was 13.5 pounds. On the other hand, focusing on video games or computers was not linked with a higher body weight. Why? Researchers note that unlike typing or texting, watching TV frees up our hands to grab at snacks, which are often promoted during commercials. While it may not be practical to shun screen-use entirely, just being aware that the risk of being overweight increases with television use can help shape media use. You can wean yourself–and your kids–away from the TV with more interactive devices and content.
It Makes You a Sitting Duck
Most of us–unless we’re half-arsing a cardio workout at the gym–watch TV while sitting down. Or lying down. Or otherwise engaging in “sedentary” activity that researchers say poses a significant risk for weight-related diseases like diabetes. One study in the journal JAMA, for example, followed more than 50,000 middle-age women for six years. For every two hours spent watching TV each day, women had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and a 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. A more recent analysis of similar studies found that for every two hours spent watching TV, the risk of developing diabetes, developing heart disease, and early death increased by 20, 15 and 13 percent, respectively. Scientists are still figuring out exactly why sitting is so detrimental to health, but one obvious and partial explanation is that the less we move, the less fuel we require; the surplus blood sugar floods the bloodstream and contributes to diabetes and other weight-related risks. In addition to generally cutting down on TV time, make a concerted effort to get up off the couch while you watch. For instance, challenge yourself to non-stop jumping jacks during the TV commercials (and pushups for every food-related ad!).
It Makes You Choose the Wrong Snacks
It’s a fact: The more hours we spend watching TV, the more unhealthy foods we eat. But why the correlation? According to a study in The International Journal of Communication and Health that investigated the psychological reasons for strong association, people who watch more TV have both a poorer understanding of proper nutrition and a more “fatalistic" view toward eating well. In other words, TV-fanatics are more likely to hold the belief that nutrition is too difficult to understand, compared to those who watch less. The study author suggests that because consumers are inundated food ads and conflicting messages as to what they should and shouldn’t eat, they develop these poor attitudes toward and knowledge about eating well. The good news is understanding nutrition has never been easier with the Eat This, Not That! newsletter. Sign up today and get the straight-forward, practical advice you need to keep you and your family healthy, straight in your inbox.
It's a Total Food Pusher
You weren’t even hungry. But then Paula Deen pulled something deep-fried and chocolate-dipped out of the oven and now you’re driving to the (next) nearest bakery for (another) slice of something sweet. That’s the devilish genius of food TV and commercials: they give us the munchies while suggesting foods that, more often than not, are particularly unhealthy. One study in the journal Appetite found people who watched a cooking program while snacking (on M&Ms) ate 34 percent more than a group that watched a nature program. And a study by the University of Liverpool found people who watched commercials for junk food on TV were more likely to then order high-fat and high-sugar foods from a menu–even when given the option to eat something healthier–compared to those who watched commercials for non-edible products. And, unfortunately, the food porn is hard to tune out. In fact, researchers say children and teens are exposed to at least one food ad per day, and nearly all (98 percent) of them are for products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. So turn off Food Network and be mindful of the strong subliminal messages that are sent via food commercials. If you’re truly hungry, pregame your viewing session with a protein- and fiber-rich snack—away from the television.
It's a Mealtime Menace
Parents who let their teens watch TV during family meals tend to serve less nutritious food and have poorer family communication, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Researchers say reinforcing healthy media habits, especially around mealtimes, can’t happen soon enough. In fact, a recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting found watching-while-snacking during pregnancy can set the stage for childhood obesity, as expectant mothers who regularly watch TV while eating are more likely to continue the habit during their baby’s feedings and miss the subtle cues that indicate their child is full. Enforce a no-electronics policy at the dinner table, and encourage conversation instead. Study authors say given the opportunity, most children will talk about themselves and their lives at mealtime, leading to better family communication.
It Distracts You While You're Snacking
It’s right up there with drunk driving: distracted dining. OK, hardly as deadly, but eating in front of the TV is dangerous to your waistline. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who eat while watching television often miss satiety signals and consume 10 percent more in one sitting than they would otherwise. Not only that, distracted diners go on to consume an average 25 percent more total calories over the course of the day than those who dine unplugged. High-action television is particularly fattening. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found people consumed 65 percent more calories from snacks while watching a high-action, high-volume Hollywood flick than viewers who munched while watching an interview. Researchers say the more distracting a TV show, the less attention people pay to eating, and the more they eat. So turn off the tube and savor a meal in silence. It’s one of the pleasures of mindful eating—a form of food meditation that’s associated with weight loss.
It Interrupts Sleep
About 71 percent of adolescents have TVs in their bedrooms, and that poses a health risk, researchers say, because basking in the nighttime glow of a TV screen can seriously disrupt sleep, throwing off hunger signals and natural biorhythms that can cause weight gain—especially among children. One study in the journal Pediatric Obesity found that kids with access to a TV in the bedroom were 1.47 times as likely to be overweight as kids with no TV. That increased to 2.57 times for kids with three electronic devices. A second study found that children who slept in bedrooms with TVs gained about one extra pound of weight each year over the course of four years than kids without TVs in their rooms. Simply moving the TV out of the bedroom is one way to limit kids’ TV time, especially around bedtime. It’ll burn some calories too!
5 Easy Ways to Start Losing Weight NOW
Start your day with oatmeal: Research shows it can help keep hunger at bay better than other cereals
Ditch the guilt: Recent research shows beating yourself up about eating something indulgent can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Instead, look at treating yourself as a celebratory—not shame-inducing—event.
Ignore the scale: Numbers go up and down and stall in a plateau all the time, which can do a number on your motivation. A better idea: Focus on healthy habits rather than weigh-ins—it's likely to result in more pounds dropped, according to a recent study.
Don't drink your calories: Around 37 percent of the average person's daily liquid calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks. Stick to water, unsweetened ice tea, or black or skim milk-infused coffee.
Avoid eating later at night: People who usually eat dinner around 10 p.m. consume 248 calories more per day than people who eat earlier, according to a recent study.
How to Train for Body Type and Shape
We all look a little different, especially in relation to the bodily characteristics we have inherited from our families. Tall people, short people, small frames, large frames, naturally thin people, people who carry a little more muscle or fat naturally, people who carry fat around the waist, and those who carry it in the butt and legs or even in the arms and upper body.
If you’re overweight or obese compared to your normal, fit weight, that’s mostly not genetics; it’s the result of lifestyle choices. Consequently, body shape and type can result from inherited characteristics or lifestyle choices like eating too much and exercising too little.
When you’re working out to get fit and lose weight, it’s worth understanding some natural body shapes, where you store most fat, and how to train in relation to these body types and shapes. These body types are not absolute, and many of us have characteristics that cross over the body type base characteristics.
- Small skeletal frame
- Often naturally lean (of fat)
- Lean muscle mass
- Fast metabolism
- May find it difficult to gain weight
- Medium to large frame
- Athletic characteristics
- Gains muscle easily
- Not as naturally lean as ectomorphs
- Frame may be large
- Stocky, solid build
- Stores fat easily
- May have slower metabolism
Apple and Pear Shapes
Apple and pear shapes often describe the shape of women, but some men also take on these basic configurations in relation to where most fat is stored.
Apple shape is round with most fat carried around the waist, while pear shape has the fat stored mostly on the buttocks and thighs. Less often, the reverse pear sees fat stored in upper body arms, shoulders and breasts.
Can You Train for Body Type?
The idea that you can maximize your training according to your body type – ecto, meso, endo – is relatively widespread in weight training communities. For example, because ectomorphs are suggested to have higher metabolisms and difficulty increasing muscle mass, they may be told to avoid cardio because of the perceived energy expenditure and the effect on muscle building. This makes little sense. As long as the 'ecto' manages energy (food) intake to match energy expenditure – from cardio or resistance training – there will be no adverse effect on muscle from light to moderate cardio training.
Similarly, endomorphs may be advised to avoid carbohydrates to minimize fat accumulation, and to do extra cardio. None of this makes much sense. Energy input and output is the fundamental law of weight gain and loss, for muscle and fat. Advice to train for body type by choosing specific training modes and foods is not strongly supported by science.
Muscle Fiber Type
One point to consider is that muscle fiber type seems to influence muscle building potential. Fast-twitch, type 2 fibers have greater muscle building potential. Some ‘visual’ ectomorphs will have type 2 fibers and only need to manage food intake and resistance training to build great muscle. The universal idea that ectomorphs are inherently 'hard gainers' is not necessarily true.
The reverse may also be true for endomorphs and possibly some mesomorphs. (That they build muscle easily.)
Summing up, no matter what your body type or shape, if you stick to recognized training programs and nutrition recommendations, you should be able to achieve your optimum body shape for over time.
1. Be Determined to be Successful
Someone once wrote: "Be Determined to Be Determined" -- which is similar in tone and even more pointed. Unless you start with this resolution, you chances of success are not good. Your ability to comply with the following resolutions will be hit and miss. Be determined.
2. Make Time for Exercise
Being in shape involves two essential elements: Lean weight and muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness. For this you need to do exercise, which differs from general physical activity in that exercise is generally an organized process and not random movement. Even so, non-exercise physical activity is also very important (see below).
3. Stick to a Diet and Nutrition Plan
How to eat well is not difficult. Eat mostly plants -- fruit and veg, whole grains, beans and seeds -- plus some low-fat protein of your choice. And don't overeat. That's it, there are no secrets, you just have to do it. Ultimately, it should not be a "plan" but a way of eating for life.
4. Get Sufficient Sleep
Insufficient sleep can knock you around. It upsets hormones and subsequently metabolism and prevents you from following the three critical resolutions above. Sleep is another fitness fundamental and you must accommodate it.
5. Move More Around the Home
General movement energy expenditure is called 'non-exercise activity thermogenesis' or NEAT. This is the activity you do when you are not formally exercising. It can make a real difference to daily energy expenditure and calorie balance. Do more NEAT like gardening, housework, walking kids to school or shops etc.
6. Fewer TV and Computer Sessions
This relates to No 5 above. You need to sit less. The health hazards or prolonged sitting are being gradually documented: heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndromes all caused by excessive sitting. It's not what the body was designed for. Excessive sitting can negate some of your better exercise efforts if you get the proportions wrong. Sit less, move more in your leisure hours, and even at work if you can manage it.
7. Eat More Fresh Food, Less Packaged Food
Bodybuilders call this "eating clean," and it means emphasizing fresh produce, low-fat meats and dairy (or vegetarian equivalents), and avoiding packaged foods high in salt, sugars and fat plus additives and preservatives. If you do this, you will also see a useful fall in your supermarket budget if you choose wisely. It also means going easy on the fast foods and take-aways.
8. Do Cardio and Weights
For top of the line fitness, combine aerobic conditioning (cardio) with some form of resistance or weight training. Doing weight training as you lose weight will go some way toward maintaining muscle while you lose fat, which is the best outcome. Cardio will burn more fat than static weight lifting, so do both for best effect.
9. Aim for Achievable Fitness Goals
Don't overshoot with your goals. A sure way to get discouraged is to aim high and perform low. You need to nominate achievable goals. Depending on your base, you may need 6 months of exercise to develop a good, testable fitness level. Don't work too hard with high-intensity or high-volume programs to begin with. The secret is to use progressive programs as you get fitter.
10. Aim for Achievable Body Weight Goals
Same as above; 1-2 pounds/week weight loss is about right. If you do weights and hold on to or increase muscle, you may find you weight loss is not as rapid as you expect and may even stall. Take more notice of waist and hip, arm and leg measurements than measurement scale weights. Then you won't be fooled by the involvement of muscle.
Happy Fit New Year!
Healthy Pumkin Smoothie!!
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 very ripe medium-sized banana
- 3/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt (I used Oikos 0% fat Greek vanilla yogurt)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup crushed ice
Makes two servings
Guidelines for Losing Weight
Since food equals calories, in order to lose weight you must either eat fewer calories, exercise more to
burn off calories with activity, or both. Food that is not used to fuel the body is stored as fat. A major component of losing weight is to make smarter food choices. Here's how:
Limit non-nutritious foods, such as:
Sugar, honey, syrups and candy
Pastries, donuts, pies, cakes and cookies
Soft drinks, sweetened juices and alcoholic beverages
Cut down on high-fat foods by:
Choosing poultry, fish or lean red meat
Choosing low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, steaming, grilling and boiling
Using low-fat or non-fat dairy products
Using vinaigrette, herbs, lemon or fat-free salad dressings
Avoiding fatty meats, such as bacon, sausage, franks, ribs and luncheon meats
Avoiding high-fat snacks like nuts, chips and chocolate
Avoiding fried foods
Using less butter, margarine, oil and mayonnaise
Avoiding high-fat gravies, cream sauces and cream-based soups
Eat a variety of foods, including:
Fruit and vegetables that are raw, steamed or baked
Whole grains, breads, cereal, rice and pasta
Dairy products, such as low-fat or non-fat milk or yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat cheese
Protein-rich foods like chicken, turkey, fish, lean meat and legumes, or beans
Change your eating habits:
Eat three balanced meals a day to help control your hunger
Watch portion sizes and eat small servings of a variety of foods
Choose low-calorie snacks
Eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied
Eat slowly and try not to perform other tasks while eating
Find other activities to distract you from food, such as walking, taking up a hobby or being involved in the community Include regular exercise in your daily routine
Find a support group, if necessary, for emotional support in your weight loss effort
Low Fat Sloppy Joes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
2 tsp canola oil 1 cup finely chopped onion 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped 1/2 small yellow bell pepper, chopped 3/4 pound lean ground turkey 1 tbsp chili powder 1 tsp oregano 1 14.5 ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce 1/4 cup ketchup 2 tbsp tomato paste 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 12 small Kaiser rolls
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the turkey mixture into the bottom half of a small roll. Add top of roll, then serve.
Makes 12 servings
Per Serving: Calories 167, Calories from Fat 41, total Fat 4.5g (sat 0.9g), Cholesterol 22mg, Sodium 438mg, Carbohydrate 22.5g, Fiber 2.1g, Protein 8.9g
Per Serving using extra-lean ground turkey: Calories 158, Calories from Fat 24, Total Fat 2.6g (sat 0.3g), Cholesterol 11mg, Sodium 427mg, Carbohydrate 22.5g, Fiber 2.1g, Protein 11g
Sports Drink Recipes
It is very important to replace lost salts and water when walking. Anytime you walk for more than an hour, think of drinking a salt-replacement sports drink in addition to water.
Sugar and salt help you absorb and retain the water to prevent dehydration, as well as replenish the salt to prevent hyponatremia (low blood sodium), both of which conditions can send you to the hospital on a long hot walk. The goal is up to 7% sugar concentration (glucose or sucrose are preferred) and salt of 1-2 grams per liter. Higher sugar content, above 8%, may actually slow water absorption.
Cost:Here is where the big savings come in, these are about 6 cents for a 20 ounce sports bottle's worth, a whopping savings over the $1 or so you will pay for a bottle of Gatorade or Powerade at the store.
Basic Sports Drink
• 1 quart (32 oz) or 1 liter water
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon table salt
• Flavoring to taste - orange juice, lemon juice, etc.
20-Oz. Sports Bottle's Worth of Sports Drink
• 3 tablespoons table sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon table salt
• Flavoring to taste - orange juice, lemon juice, unsweetened Kool-Aid or Wyler's drink mix, etc. Suggest trying 2-3 tablespoons of juice or 1/3 packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid.
• Fill halfway with water, mix well.
• Top off with water.
Your Own Powdered Sports Drink
I like to take along sports drink powder and mix it up with water from a water fountain, etc. when out on my long walks, after drinking my first sports bottle of plain water.
• 9 tablespoons table sugar
• 3/8 teaspoon table salt
• 1 packet unsweetened Kool-Aid or other drink mix.
Portion 1/3 of the mixture into each of three ziplock bags.
To reconstitute, add contents of 1 bag to a 20-oz. sports bottle. Fill halfway with water, mix, and fill with water, mix again.
How To Gain Weight?
To gain weight, you need to consume more calories every day than you burn with physical activity. You can also gain weight by increasing the size of your muscles. Start with a calorie calculator to determine the number of calories you you'll need to consume every day to gain weight. You'll probably need to increase your calorie intake, and you can do that by eating a larger volume of food or by choosing foods that are energy-dense (high in calories).
Either way, you should choose foods that are nutrient-dense instead of settling for high-calorie junk foods. Nutrient-dense foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods that are both energy- and nutrient-dense include legumes, nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados. You may also want to increase your consumption of dairy products, meats, seafood and poultry. Use seasoning blends, herbs and spices to add flavor and aroma.
The main goal is to increase your overall intake of calories every day; it doesn't really matter if you eat more meals or increase the size of the meals you eat right now. If you're not used to eating much at any one time, you may prefer to eat several small meals or snacks throughout the day. If you'd rather eat three meals each day, increase your portion sizes or add more foods to each meal.
Your meals should be balanced with the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Choose a portion of a protein source such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, legumes or tofu and serve with a side of green and colorful vegetables. Add a serving of starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet corn, rice or pasta as energy-dense carbohydrate sources. You can add a few extra calories to your vegetables and starches by topping them with butter, olive oil, sauces or cheese.
If you prefer to snack on smaller meals throughout the day, choose energy-dense foods, such as trail mix made with dried fruit, nuts and seeds. You can eat sandwiches made with peanut or other nut butters, or use meats and add calories with slices of cheese or avocado. Creamed soups are generally higher in calories than clear broths. Add more calories to creamed soups by adding a spoonful of dry milk powder.
Dietary Supplements for Gaining Weight
You might be tempted to buy dietary supplements for bodybuilding that promise weight gain and bigger muscles. Some of these products may contain hidden ingredients that can be harmful or compounds that haven't been studied for efficacy or safety. The United States Food and Drug Administration maintains a list of tainted bodybuilding products that should be avoided.
If you feel you can't gain weight by simply increasing your calorie intake, you should see your health care provider before taking any protein or weight-ok, gaining supplements.
What About Exercise?
Resistance training exercises like weight lifting may help to increase your muscle size, which will increase your body weight. Aerobic exercises, such as running and stationary bicycling, are better for fat loss and excessive aerobic training may cause you to lose more weight. Resistance training can be done at a health club, gym, or at home with the proper equipment.
Tips to Help You Gain Weight
Don't add calories to your meals by choosing unhealthy fried foods such as french fries, chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Choose foods that are prepared with cooking methods like baking, poaching, and stir-frying. Remember that it can take a while to gain the weight you need, but be patient and continue to choose foods that are good for you until you reach your goal weight. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Have an extra slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter at breakfast.
- Add extra cheese to an omelet.
- Slice an apple and serve with almond butter.
- Stir chopped nuts into plain yogurt and top with honey.
- Carry a bag of trail mix for a convenient snack.
- Serve yourself larger portions of starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet corn.
- Add calories with a nutritious beverage such as milk, 100% fruit juices, or vegetable juice.
Who Might Want to Gain Weight?
The high rate of obesity and overweight problems in our culture means there is much more emphasis on losing weight rather than gaining weight. It is easy to forget about people who are too thin. Some people are naturally thin and want to be bigger, but being underweight can result from eating disorders or appetite loss due to certain medical conditions. Aging also affects appetite, as we gradually lose some of our ability to smell and taste foods. If you've recently lost weight without trying, you should see your health care provider.
Medline Plus. "Appetite - Decreased." Accessed May 6, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003121.htm.
Woods NF, LaCroix AZ, Gray SL, Aragaki A, Cochrane BB, Brunner RL, Masaki K, Murray A, Newman AB; Women's Health Initiative. "Frailty: emergence and consequences in women aged 65 and older in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study." J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Aug;53(8):1321-30.