Connect with us


Medical News Today: Fats or carbs: What causes obesity?

Too many carbohydrates or too much fat? Opinions as to which parts of our diets are likely to cause obesity are split. A recent study takes a closer look at the effects of diet on weight and health.
unhealthful foods and measuring tape
Does a diet that is too rich in fats or too rich in carbs lead to obesity?

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study that pitted the potential benefits of the low-carb diet against those of the low-fat one.

The scientists asked which type of diet would be best for shedding excess weight.

Their conclusion? In essence, that it is hard to tell.

Both have pros and cons; some people may benefit more from laying off the fats, whereas others may see better results by sticking to a low-carb dietary plan.

Both carbs (which are a primary source of glucose, or simple sugar) and fats have been blamed for increasing a person's likelihood of facing obesity, and studies keep debating these points, so the argument is far from settled.

Recently, the view that an excessive carb intake may be the main dietary cause of obesity has had more traction, though some researchers have questioned this.

In a paper now published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers from two institutions — the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom — have once more turned the cards, suggesting that we should look once more to fatty foods.

Sugar intake had no impact on weight

In what they think is the largest study of its kind to date, lead researcher Prof. John Speakman and team worked with mice to test the effects of three macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats, and protein — on body fat accumulation.

The scientists turned to the murine model because, as they explain, asking human participants to follow one type of diet and evaluating them for very long periods of time is extremely tricky.

But looking at rodents — which have similar metabolic mechanisms — could offer crucial clues and workable evidence.

Mice belonging to five different genetically engineered strains were assigned to one of 30 various types of diet, including variations on their content of fat, carbs, and protein.

The mice were kept on their respective diets for a period of 3 months — which counts as 9 years would for humans.

Throughout this time, they were assessed for changes in body weight and body fat content, to see which of the mice would end up becoming overweight.

The scientists found that only an excessive intake of fats increased adiposity (body fat content) in mice, while carbohydrates — including up to 30 percent of calories derived from sucrose — had no impact.

Moreover, a combined fatty and sugary diet did not increase body fat more than a fatty diet did on its own.

As for protein intake, the research team says that there was no evidence that it affected the intake of other macronutrients or the amount of body fat.

And why does the intake of fat lead to obesity? The researchers believe that fats “appeal” to the brain's reward system, stimulating a craving for an excessive amount of calories, which then determines weight gain.

“A clear limitation of this study,” as Prof. Speakman explains, “is that it is based on mice rather than humans.”

“However, mice have lots of similarities to humans in their physiology and metabolism, and we are never going to do studies where the diets of humans are controlled in the same way for such long periods.”

So the evidence it provides is a good clue to what the effects of different diets are likely to be in humans.”

Prof. John Speakman


3 Snacks High In Protein That Will Help You Build Muscle

You probably know how hard can be to combine a solid meal with long work hours or school classes. Often when hunger strikes and people don’t have time to cook and eat a solid meal, they will eat junk food, just to satisfy their hunger. The snacks high in protein are more like mini meals that can “save” you whenever hunger strikes, while allowing you to still eat healthy and maintain that hard built muscle.

Most snacks that are sold today are usually high in salt or sugar and full of empty calories which results in unwanted weight gain and you being hungry in an hour again. The high protein snacks are ideal, because they will satisfy your hunger, supply your body and brain with the needed nutrients and increase your energy levels.

These snacks are easy to make and can be taken at work or school with you. They can also serve as ideas which can inspire you to create your own snacks high in protein.

1. Low fat cheese and crackers

– Low fat dairy products like milk, yogurt and low fat cheese are all high in protein. Low fat cheese can be used to top whole grain crackers. Besides protein, low fat cheese is an excellent source of calcium, while the whole grain crackers are a good source of complex carbohydrates. If you don’t like crackers you can use a few pieces of whole grain pita, tortilla, strawberries or an apple.

When it’s not refrigerated, the cheese can last up to 5 hours, which makes it perfect for carrying in the bag at school or work.

2. Tuna sandwich

One can of tuna can contain up to 25 grams of protein, which is more than enough to satisfy your hunger and provide you with the needed protein. A very good snack would be a tuna salad sandwich in a whole grain pita. You can use lettuce or tomatoes as the salad addition to the sandwich.

3. Peanut butter protein bars

These make a great snack high in protein, although you will have to prepare them yourself. The best way is to prepare them over the weekend and make enough to last for the work week ahead. What you will need:

– 1 cup of cereals (Oat cereal is what I like the best)
– 1 cup of peanut butter
– 2-3 scoops of your favorite protein
– honey (just enough honey it can all stick together)

Mix it all together, put it into a pan and shape it into long bars. Put the pan in the fridge for an hour. Cut into snack-sized bars and wrap in tin foil. These should last you a few days.

Conclusion: You don’t have to stay hungry or eat junk food and let your hard earned muscle suffer, as long as you have the time to plan your snacks high in protein ahead of time.

You might also like : 8 High Protein Snacks You Can Eat Instead Of Junk Food

Continue Reading


5 Nutritionist-Recommended Fruits and Vegetables That Will Naturally Cool You Off

The oppressively hot weather usually has us running to the nearest neighborhood pool or even just the closest air-conditioned room — not our fridge. But there are plenty of natural (and yummy) ways to chill out this summer. As we sweat the days away, juicy, water-filled fruits and vegetables can help rehydrate the body and in turn, work as internal coolants — and we’re not about to pass up treats that are both tasty and utilitarian. Jenni Bourque and Mirna Sharafeddine, registered holistic nutritionists and the founders of Naughty Nutrition, a website dedicated to science-based health solutions that are realistic as well as tasty, dished to us how they stay cool as cucumbers (and watermelons, and berries… ) during even the most sweltering summer months.

Carafes of fruit-infused water

1. Watermelon: No surprise here, but watermelon contains tons of water. In fact, it’s 90 percent water. And the other 10 percent is chock full of vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and potassium, making it not only hydrating but healthy. “We often forget how much water we lose from our bodies in the summer heat, and watermelon is one way to naturally cool and replenish without having to chug a big bottle of water,” Sharafeddine says. She recommends using the melon in chilled desserts and beverages such as popsicles and slushies for a snack beyond your typical wedge o’ watermelon.

2. Cucumber: If you’re looking for an invigorating munchie or even a cooling makeover, cucumbers are the cure. Like watermelon, cucumbers are about 90 percent water and contain electrolyte-balancing minerals such as potassium and magnesium. “Cucumber is one of those foods that not only hydrates but can also be applied as a refreshing mask to the face and body to help cool and hydrate the skin,” Bourque notes. Double the hydration by infusing your water with cucumbers, which she claims is one of the best ways to enjoy them. Or simply toss a few crisp rounds into a smoothie or salad.

3. Tropical Fruits: There’s a reason we gravitate toward guavas, papayas, and mangoes during the summer months. “These fruits are literally grown in temperatures that are extreme all year long; they were designed for heat waves,” Sharafeddine explains. “They’re totally satisfying when you’re feeling hot.” Thankfully, these fruits don’t just withstand the heat; they’re packed with vitamins and minerals and are majorly sweet. Sharafeddine says a cheaper way to enjoy these produce items is by purchasing them frozen and blending them with coconut milk for a truly tropical smoothie.

4. Lemon: Lemons are a solid solution to high temps. “The good old-fashioned lemon is one of the most underrated ways to stay cool during a heatwave,” Bourque says. “But really, the versatility of lemons is astonishing.” Lemons are refreshing, loaded with vitamin C, and considered an alkaline food, rather than acidic, once digested. Tame the fruit’s tartness in summer-friendly desserts such as cheesecakes and sorbets. Or squeeze them into your water for a makeshift, calorie-conscious lemonade.

5. Berries: All your faves — blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries — have a cooling effect on the body, and we’re *berry* excited about it. According to Sharafeddine, berries are considered cooling foods in traditional Chinese medicine and contain high amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber (which — bonus!— keeps the digestive system healthy). Berries, based on their range of flavors, can be enjoyed in a slew of recipes. “You can pretty much add berries to anything: your smoothie, yogurt, or oatmeal,” Sharafeddine says. “Make berry sorbet or popsicles, or — our favorite way — just eat them whole like candy.”

What are your favorite fruits and veggies for keeping cool in the summer? Let us know @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)

Continue Reading


Health benefits of coffee and a proposed warning label

Coffee is among the most popular beverages ever, enjoyed by millions of people worldwide each day. Estimates suggest that Americans consumed 3.4 billion pounds of coffee last year. When it comes to its health effects, coffee is also among the best studied beverages. How much is too much? Does coffee cause cancer? What is behind the proposed new warning label for coffee?

Fortunately, the news on coffee is mostly good. This includes a recent study that found coffee drinkers live longer, a conclusion that held up even for heavy coffee consumption (eight or more cups of coffee each day), and regardless of whether the coffee was caffeinated or not. And longevity was linked to coffee consumption regardless of what type of caffeine metabolism genes you carry. The authors concluded that the health benefits of coffee go beyond caffeine.

Prop 65 warning label

Perhaps you saw articles like this one describing an effort in California to require a notification to coffee consumers of a possible link to cancer. Here’s the reason: in 1986 California passed Proposition 65, which requires businesses to provide a warning label when exposing any consumer to any item on a long list of potentially harmful chemicals. Acrylamide is on that list, and coffee contains acrylamide, a chemical produced during the roasting process.

How worried should we be about acrylamide in coffee?

Nothing has changed in our understanding regarding the potential side effects of coffee, or its benefits. No study has convincingly linked acrylamide in coffee (or coffee in general) to one’s risk of cancer, and there is plenty of research. Many studies have explored whether there is a potential link between drinking coffee and cancer. Perhaps the most damning are ones (such as this one) suggesting hot beverages and foods may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. But that concern isn’t particular to coffee, and the specific temperature at which this risk appears has not been well defined.

The amount of acrylamide in coffee varies, and is quite small compared to amounts found to cause cancer in animals. In addition, there are other sources of acrylamide exposure no one is making a fuss over, including bread, potato chips, and breakfast cereals. It’s also found in cigarettes.

The challenge of proving a negative

The Los Angeles judge ruling on the new labeling requirement for coffee wrote that the coffee companies did not prove that acrylamide was safe. In essence, the judge was asking that the coffee makers prove a negative (the absence of risk), and that’s hard to do!

For example, if a particular food (or other exposure) is safe, studies finding no connection to harm can always be criticized — a different analysis, more time, or more study subjects could have led to different findings. Or, it might take a long and expensive study that hasn’t happened yet. For a particularly dangerous exposure (such as cigarette smoking), establishing a link is much easier. (As an aside: the difficulty proving a negative is a major reason that unfounded conspiracy theories persist.) The judge also discounted the extensive research linking coffee consumption to health benefits; exactly why he did is unclear.

While future research could find a link between coffee and cancer, there’s no particular reason to expect that to happen.

Health benefits of coffee

A partial list of potential coffee health benefits includes a lower risk of:

  • liver cancer (and perhaps colon cancer as well)
  • liver failure due to cirrhosis
  • dementia
  • type 2 diabetes (which accounts for more than 90% of all diabetes)
  • gout
  • death (as noted above, a number of studies have linked coffee consumption with living longer).

So, even if the trace amounts of acrylamide in coffee were found to increase cancer risk or cause other harms, these risks might be outweighed by the benefits of drinking coffee.

What’s next for coffee lovers?

Additional legal wrangling is expected, so it may be a while before California’s plans regarding warning labels for coffee are settled. In the meantime, you can take steps to limit your exposure to acrylamide by not smoking, eating less fried, burnt, or charred foods, and avoiding instant coffee. And perhaps we will discover ways of reducing or even eliminating acrylamide in the coffee roasting process. But it’s not clear that changing how coffee is roasted will actually improve your health. As is so often the case with potentially carcinogenic toxins, we’ll need additional research to determine whether the amount of acrylamide in coffee and other foods and drinks matters a little, a lot, or not at all.

Continue Reading


%d bloggers like this: