Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BBQ Season = Cancer From Well Done Meats?

Heterocyclic Amines (HCA's)

Are compounds created when red meats, chicken, pork, and fish are cooked at a high temperature, well done, or cooked for a long time.

BBQ's are excellent for making HCA's.  HCA's are suggested to increase the risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer.

Increasing cooking temp from 200C to 250C increases HCA content by 300%

Is there any good news?


Microwaving meats for 2 minutes can reduce HCA content by up to 90%, especially if you dump out any water with the meats you zapped in the mirco before they hit the BBQ.

Using a rosemary and thyme marinade can decrease HCA's by 60 to 80%.

HCA's are bad, but we can control the formation of them by altering our cooking methods.  Enjoy your BBQ!

hmm.. you know I can't help but mention that while enjoying the BBQ find a way to get around the temptation to eat too much meat.  For those who love the BBQ it's a no brainer that eating more feels very satisfying, but even though you may have made the changes mentioned here to limit HCA production, overeating is another concern and is super easy to do with BBQ'd meats.

We only need one helping off about 100g (around 3 oz) of meat to get the protein and other nutrients we get from meat.  Double or triple up on your servings and you'll be overeating, which means fat gain.  Also, we can't deal with large amounts of protein very well and when too much protein is consumed at one time it stresses the kidneys.  Additionally the extra protein will either be lost in your urine or stored as body fat.

Keep the BBQ as a feature of your meal, but make sure that you're eating more veggies and grains/ starches than meat. Put together a tasty spinach salad and some quinoa with kidney beans and chickpeas to make your BBQ rewarding to both your palate and your health.

So extra helpings of BBQ meats really means extra body fat, stressed kidneys, and wasted protein.

Did I say enjoy your BBQ?  :-)

You can, just get used to eating less and watch out for those nasty HCA's..

Meat, especially if it's well done, may increase risk of bladder cancer

Heterocyclic Amines in Cooked Meats - National Cancer Institute

HAMLET Get's Killer Reviews

Human Alpha Lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumor Cells (HAMLET)

Is a compound found in breast milk that appears to have cancer killer affects. (Article in Science Daily)

"Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future."

Other research suggests that HAMLET's capacity to kill cancer cells is like a hydra with many heads interacting with several parts of a cancer cell, killing them all at the same time.  

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;606:217-40.

Apoptosis and tumor cell death in response to HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells).

Department for Experimental Medical Sciences, Section for Lungbiology, Lund, Sweden.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Strict Schedule or Go By How You Feel: Which Gives Better Results For Fitness?

Intervals on Tuesday, Chest and Back on Thursdays

Training plans are a dime a dozen.  They are a staple of any fitness magazine and found all over the internet.

Everyone claims to have the best program with best science and experience that proves their special arrangement of exercises and intensity plus recovery is going work for you better than any other plan.

Some have fancy math formulas that consider your past performance to create a personalized weekly plan for you.

Some produce better results than others, especially those that are conservative with intensity and generous with rest.

Trouble is, all of them are based on guess work; even the ones using research derived formulas.

What!? Using a scientific formula isn't guess work!  It's science!  

Sure, the formula is based on research, that's the science part.  But it's still a prediction, that's the guessing part.

Really exercise intensity for the day ought to based on your actual recovery state for the day.

The day you are the most recovered is the best day to go harder. The days you are fatigued are the best days to take a break or go easier.

You can plan in advance to a large degree, but always be prepared to change your training for the day if you are fatigued.

For instance if you train hard one day, you can predict that the next day you won't train hard so you can recover.  After a few weeks you'll recognize how long it takes you to feel strong again after a hard workout.  You can use this experience to more accurately predict how a given week of exercise will be planned in the immediate future.

But beware, our fatigue and recovery cycle is not governed by days of the week, but rather by complex physiologic processes, sleep pattern, nutrition, and other variables that are not yet well understood.

Your best bet is test your resting heart rate in the morning as well as working on increasing your sensitivity to how you feel physically. 

The days your resting heart rate is higher than normal are usually days you are fatigued.  If you are stiff and sore and feeling sluggish you are definitely fatigued- take these days off.  If a weight feels heavier than usual, your running or cycling pace feels harder than usual, or any exercise you do has you feeling sub-par, stop the workout and relax.  Do something else with your day that does not involve hard exercise.

Good day to see the massage therapist, limit exercise to relaxing stretching or going for a walk.

Not a good day to go to that high intensity spin class, go hard in the gym, or attend a regular sports practice.

This is hard for many people to do as a sense of reward is attached to harder exercise.  Many feel uneasy if not guilty and anxious about moving their hard workout further down the week or eliminating it for a week.

Rest assured: taking a break when fatigued allows for better performance.  When fatigued more exercise simply makes you more fatigued.  Taking a break when fatigued allows for adaptation that makes you more fit.

Doing nothing makes you more fit :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Flavonoids in orange juice suppress oxidative stress from high-fat, high-carb meal

ScienceDaily (2010-03-31) -- Eating foods containing flavonoids -- orange juice, in this case -- along with a high-fat, high-carbohydrate fast-food meal neutralizes the oxidative and inflammatory stress generated by the unhealthy food and helps prevent blood vessel damage, a new study by endocrinologists shows.
It was interesting to read that this research showed a 62% increase in oxygen free radicals after 900 calories breakfast of an egg muffin sandwich, sausage muffin sandwich, and hash browns. More and more studies are showing that there is an immediate detrimental affect of eating just one high fat high calorie meal.

Too often we have the notion that "just one time" isn't going to harm us.

When a glass of pure orange juice was consumed with the high fat high calorie meal free radicals increased by 47%, markedly lower than the 62% without the orange juice.

Woo hoo! This means we can eat high fat meals so long as we chug down some orange juice!

Not really.. You'll still increase oxygen free radicals by 47%, and including the juice your energy intake would be 1200 calories. So you're still overeating and those extra calories will be stored as fat.

The take home is high fat - high calorie meals are proinflammitory as well as being obesogenic. So don't eat like that :-)

Make the association: High fat, high calories meals have both an immediate and long term negative affect on health.

Fire Ronald McDonald: "He's the deep fried Joe Camel of the 21 century"

Deborah Lapidus from the Corporate Accountability International organization has been getting a lot of media attention by fronting the "Retire Ronald" campaign; a petition aimed at getting those who sign it to show support for banning the popular McDonald's Restaurants characters figurehead who Lapidus has said can be blamed for hooking kids on unhealthy foods.

Does the Ronald McDonald character make me want to eat McDonald’s burgers?
No, but I’m an adult and this story is all about the Ronald McDonald marketing influence on children..  When I was a child did seeing Ronald McDonald make me want to eat at McDonald’s?  I don’t recall ever having a strong connection to seeing Ronald McDonald specifically and eating at McD’s. 
I do remember a few times wanting to get the cheapo trinket like toys that were promoted, and of course to get the toy you had to buy the food, so in that case the marketing worked, but I was intrigued by the toy promotion, not Ronald McDonald.  I think I did have a Ronald McDonald doll and a.. what’s the big purple thing?.. Grimace!  I had to Google it to remember.  
I had some of the rotten Ronnie's paraphernalia but as a child I didn’t eat at McDonald's a lot and never became overweight.  In my teens though, I did like the fast food burger joints and had my fair share of McDonald's foods. Of course in my reformed and now healthy eater present state of mind there is nothing that McDonald’s sells that I would want to buy.
They do sell milk though, and salads.  So not everything there is a low nutrient density fat bomb. I just looked at the McDonald’s nutrition calculator. I didn’t know you could buy apple slices at Che Ronaldo’s, still the apples, milk, and salads are completely outranked and outnumbered by the fat bomb/ calorie bomb burgers, fries, and deserts.

I've always maintained that if McDonald's, or any fast food place started selling healthy food I found appealing I wouldn't be opposed to eating there. Someone let me know when this happens.
We can’t fire Ronald for enticing kids to eat unhealthy foods as Ron sells apples to kids.  Well actually I’ve never seen or heard of an add where Ronald McDonald is promoting apple slices so if this has been done, it was well under the radar.
But enough of the preamble. I don’t like McDonald’s food and if I had kids there is no possibility I would ever take them there.  I know, I know.. I don’t “understand” because I don’t have kids therefore I have never dealt with the pressure to go there blah, blah.. whatever. 
Listen, the food is not that great, sure you can buy apple slices, but don’t kid yourself, the main meal is going to be, most of the time, a high calorie, high fat, high sodium, low nutrient density meal.  That’s a fact, for now anyway.
In my opinion getting rid of the Ronald McDonald character could have an affect on reducing sales at McDonald's, but wouldn't it be better to raise the standards of food sold rather than ban cartoon advertising?
I do understand the concept of using characters that are appealing to kids to promote McDonald’s foods demonstrates an obvious strategy to get kids eating their menu items, and I do agree that advertising specifically at children is manipulative, but there is a bigger picture.  The issue isn’t Ronald.  The issue is the nutritive quality of the foods at McDonald’s compared other healthier choices.
I would rather see a poster comparing a home prepared meal versus a McDonald’s meals for calories, fat, sodium, and total vitamins and minerals.
Promote that stark contrast and you will deliver a more meaningful message.
If you’re going to raise a stink about McDonald’s being implicated in contributing to the obesity of kids, then go after the McDonald’s menu items, not the clown.
Do I have an opinion one way or the other? 
Don’t focus on changing Ronald’s status, focus on making healthy choices something that is inherent in selling food.
If there is enough consumer demand for healthy foods.. if the majority of parents demand healthy foods for their kids.. I think we might see big players like McDonald’s changing their menu items.
I also think large fast food chains should self elect to change their menu items as I don't see any reasonable argument to support eating a meal that has freak-show amounts of fat, sodium, and total calories.  You just can’t make sense of it.  You can argue a person has a right to choose to overeat, or feels compelled to overeat, but you can’t argue that overeating is good, or even acceptable from a health perspective.
Going after Ronald McDonald might seem altruistic and have a David and Goliath appeal, but the battle is with the actual menu items, and the eating choices people make.  If McDonald's sold only health food, would the Corporate Accountability International Organization being going after McDonald's?
I hate to do this, but to remain objective I’m going to build a meal from the McDonald’s Nutrition Calculator and that meal is going to be relatively healthy.  Again, I don’t like McDonald’s but I would be remiss if I did’t show you this.  

For my own standards there is still too much processing and extra conditioners and preservatives that go into the bread and chicken, and the sodium is too high for one meal, but let’s face it, this is a meal you get away with saying isn’t all that bad nutritionally, it is by no means a gold standard or even close, but in all honesty you could do a lot worse.

This one is even better:

I bet most of you didn't know you could do this at rotten Ronnie's.. 370 calories 240mg sodium, 5g fat, 180% of daily Vitamin C, 45% Calcium DV.  That's.  Umm.. disappointingly not too bad.  Here I am trying to make legitimate points that make McD's look bad and I'm purposefully posting some half decent nutritious options at McDonald's.

This is why Ronald McDonald is not like Joe Camel. Joe Camel was used to promote cigarettes, which are harmful, have no safe consumption limit, and no benefit for the human body.
At McDonald’s if you choose, you can get a meal under 500 calories that is not going to contribute to childhood obesity, or anyones obesity.  Not everything McDonald’s sells is bad, which sucks when you’re trying to make an argument against them regarding fat bomb meal combo’s.
But that reality doesn’t detract from my position though..  Here is a different set of menu choices, choices that are reflected in much of McDonald's advertising, and choices that I would think most people associate with a McDonald's meal..

97% of the daily value from fat in one meal.  1340 calories.  Actually I’ll stop there.  The screen shot says it all.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Words that cause pain

An interesting study found words that specifically describe pain such as excruciating and gruelling made the part of the brain that processes these sensations become activated.

Read the article here (WebMD)

So if you're competing against someone in a race, would it be unfair to say over and over again, "I'm going to make you hurt"?  Hmm, that does't really follow the research.  Might be better off saying, "this is going to be gruelling, and I'm going to cause you excruciating pain".

Weight training injuries increase by 50% between 1990- 2007

It's an interesting contrast. Although we're getting fatter and less active overall, sports and exercise injuries are increasing dramatically. 

I've been a coach for a couple decades and have witnessed an ironic decrease in the quality of preparedness in those who exercise despite an increase in the number of coaches and trainers being available to anyone wanting their service.

What I see more of every year is hype.  Hyping getting fit as fast as possible.  Outrageous claims that super high intensity intervals are the best way to exercise, and goofy claims regarding special "core stability" and overall stability exercises as being the best exercises rather than part of an overall exercise plan.

More emphasis on going for the burn, more emphasis on going harder, and less emphasis on the importance of proper evaluation of a persons current fitness, postural problems, muscle strength imbalances, and less promotion of long term gains starting with simple base conditioning exercises.

Of course being told that you ought to start easy and build gains over months and years doesn't sound as promising as the get fit quick scam that so many perpetrate, but then that is exactly what the "promise of hope" scam is meant to do: entice you into adopting a program that pushes you hard to get gains quick.. usually because you're so busy you don't have time to exercise.

Think about it.. more emphasis on going hard, less emphasis on an a long term graduated exercise program and an increase in injury rates.  This should not come as a surprise.

Instead of seeing the latest promise of super high intensity boot camps giving you the extra benefit "you deserve", see these claims as the true red flag they are.  Promises of quick gains from pushing hard is the number one warning sign you are about to get duped, and probably injured.

As I've said before the only way to achieve high performance is to train hard, but the way to raise your fitness level to the ability to tolerate and benefit from hard training is not to start with hard training.. it's to gradually increase intensity and complexity as you adapt, and rushing this is a bad idea.

In fact the whole idea of rushing into intensive exercise only serves to promote an unhealthy and imbalanced perspective on how exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Exercise is not about pain, it's about preserving ones health, and no "pain" is not an indicator of quality exercise.. that is perhaps the most ignorant myth out there so don't fall for it.

Think about exercise as preventative medicine, a stress reducer, a bone density increaser, an energy provider, and a life extender.  Build physical performance on a healthy base.  Without a significant base, short term quick gains will be followed by injury and plateau. 

Here's an excerpt from a study done on weight training injury rates increasing:

"Patients’ mean age was 27.6 years (range, 6–100 years); 82.3% were male. The upper trunk (25.3%) and lower trunk (19.7%) were the most commonly injured body parts. The most common diagnosis was sprain/strain (46.1%). The most common mechanism of injury was weights dropping on the person (65.5%). A large number of injuries occurred with free weights (90.4%)"

Epidemiology of Weight Training-Related Injuries Presenting to United States Emergency Departments, 1990 to 2007

Massage Therapy does not remove lactate, increase blood flow, or improve recovery after exercise

Before I get started on this.. there may be some merit to post exercise trigger point therapy to reduce pain caused by trigger points, a hyper-irratible "knot" of tightened muscle..  But that isn't what this article is about..  Go here for an article on trigger point massage.

Although there is research dating back to at least 1995 that demonstrates massage therapy after exercise does not improve blood flow, aid in recovery, or remove lactate from muscles, or any other metabolite from muscles, the myth that massage therapy improves blood flow and removes muscles waste products after exercise persists.

Many massage therapists either through ignorance, or perhaps even pure snake oil tactics, still promote this idea.  Probably a good idea to stay away from the therapists who do so.. Or at least, maybe suggest they read the odd research paper on massage every now and then.

Massage therapy is an integral part of my overall healthy living plan. I do self trigger point massage on a regular basis, and see a couple good registered massage therapists who take care of the nasty trigger points that arise from regular exercise, or perhaps simply sleeping the wrong way at night.

When tested with high tech Doppler devices  blood flow was revealed to either have no change or actually be reduced by traditional massage therapy where long, deep stroking motions are used on muscles.

In one study removal of lactate was made worse by massage, not better.  When compared to active recovery of low intensity stationary bike riding, the bike riding was effective at removing muscle metabolites whereas the massage was not.

Your best bet for recovery post exercise? (Hard exercise that is.. easy exercise isn't really stressful enough to require specific recovery protocols.)

A 10 to 15 minute easy spin on a bike, followed by both protein and carb intake, and perhaps immersion into cool water.  There is some research indicating cool water immersion may reduce inflammation and improve recovery better than not including cool water immersion.

Int J Sports Med. 1995 Oct;16(7):478-83.

Effleurage massage, muscle blood flow and long-term post-exercise strength recovery.

Department of Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, Canada.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997 May;29(5):610-4.

Failure of manual massage to alter limb blood flow: measures by Doppler ultrasound.

Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Dec 9. [Epub ahead of print]

Massage Impairs Post Exercise Muscle Blood Flow and "Lactic Acid" Removal.

School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada, K7L 3N6.