How Did We Get Here? Obesity Trends

Is obesity a national problem?

Will it become a global problem?

Here’s the Center for Disease Control (CDC) obesity trends among adults from 1986 to 2010.

The video shows shows the history of United States obesity prevalence from 1985 through 2010.

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Hefty Heart Attack Grill Spokesman: Dead at 29

Blair River

Blair River: Dies Age 29

No jokes here folks.  I don’t make a living off other people’s misery and I’m certainly not blogging about this to say “I told you so.” I don’t know if Blair River was married or not but I’m sympathetic to his family and friends.   My point is that obesity is an epidemic in the United States.  You know that right?

Unfortunately, Blair River, the spokesman for the notorious Hefty Heart Attack Grill has died at age 29 from complications from the flu.

Blair River, the 575-pound spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill, an Arizona restaurant that serves shamelessly high-calorie burgers and fries, died Tuesday at the age of 29, following a bout of the flu.

Did he die from being a customer?  Did obesity kill him?  It certainly didn’t help let’s just say that.  The official cause of death is still unknown.

It’s a rather sad story really from a place that makes a mockery of being obese.  In fact, if you are 350 lbs at the time of your weight-in at the door, you get to eat free!  Oh boy.  What a deal.  I think you’ll get a lot from the video and link to the ABC story.  It’s a bit more than a care to report as I just don’t feel making a mockery from a situation is somehow helpful.

I’m sure about 10,000 other blogs will pick up on this story with links to buy the latest weight loss books or preach how obesity kills.

If you have comments, leave them below.

Resources:

ABC News Story on Blair Rivers

Meal Frequency: Is Eating Six Times a Day Necessary?

Eating Six Times a Day

Is All That Eating Necessary ... Really?

One question that is popping up all over the bodybuilding space is the question is meal frequency.  Not just meal timing, just the basic question of how many times do I need to eat per day?

Just the other day I received this note …. (for you who can’t read, I’m not saying this, I said I received this)

No study has ever confirmed that it is more efficient to eat 6 small meals as opposed to 3 big meals (or even 2!) in terms of body composition results.

ZERO!

Are those six meals a day I’ve heard about really necessary?  People have been told for some time that in order to build muscle and gain weight, they need to be eating.   In the past, you’ve probably heard that eating more frequent meals is has a thermodynamic effect and you will burn more fat by eating more often. ( A study done in 2010 disproves this assumption)

But is this dogma true?  First, let’s examine the short list of frequent meals.  This list is by no means definitive.

Benefits of More Meals Per Day:

  • appetite control
  • frequent eating and tight control of within day energy balance help to control insulin
  • personal observation (not scientific but not irrelevant either)
  • energy balance
  • higher meal frequency is important from a cortisol control standpoint

Drawbacks to More Meals Per Day:

  • too much eating
  • burden to carry so much food around
  • preparation for the amount of food
  • not necessary to achieve the proper amount of total daily calories
  • not necessary for the current level of athletic training

” If eating 5-6 times a day helps control your appetite and easily hit your calorie goals, if it gives you more energy, keeps you satisfied all day long and you enjoy it – then that’s the way to go. If eating bodybuilder-style with 5 or 6 whole food meals a day is a burden to you with the food prep and time spent eating, or it makes it harder to stick with your plan, not easier, then you’re better off with 3 or 4 meals a day or 3 meals with snacks.”Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle

To take Tom Venuto’s statement a bit further here’s what Dr. Dan Benardot, PhD., RD, LD, FACSM, and author of Advanced Sports Nutrition says on the meal frequency subject…

“There is a limit to how much energy (i.e., calories) the body can handle properly at one time. By satisfying our total energy requirements through infrequent eating opportunities, this limit is passed and problems occur. In addition, infrequent eating does nothing to address normal blood sugar fluctuation. Blood sugar peaks about one hour after eating, and is back to pre-meal levels about two hours after that. That means that we can expect a normal range of blood sugar for about three hours. Unless something is consumed to satisfy the need for blood sugar every three hours, gluconeogenesis can result with a loss of lean mass.”

“A dedicated bodybuilder should eat at least five times a day and space those meals no further than three hours apart.  I have found eating smaller, more frequent meals, or in other words “grazing” throughout the day, is the most efficient way for my body to process food.”SkipLaCour; six-time national drug-free champion bodybuilder; author of Bodybuilding Nutrition

Will Brink, author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and author of Bodybuilding Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed weights in with an excellent video on the subject.

Do You Need to Eat Six Times a Day or More?

At this point, I hope you are not confused!  What I’ve found is that first and foremost you must get your required number of calories per day to reach your goals.  After that, meal timing becomes important given your activities in the next hours.  You do not need to eat more frequent meals IF your blood sugar is in control and your appetite is fine.

Signs of Hunger:

  • hunger pangs
  • loss of focus and inability to concentrate

If you are NOT engaging in high intensity training or activities that require some type of re-fueling OR if you are taking a training break OR sedentary, then 3 meals a day would probably be just fine.

However, if you want to optimize performance, be your best at your intense workouts, perform longer duration activities, then don’t get caught in the trap of controversy that says multiple meals (maybe 5 maybe more) is not necessary.  Or that there’s no evidence via studies to show that multiple meals has an affect on body composition.

In fact it IS and there are SEVERAL studies (listed below) that prove this.

Going by personal experience, as should you in this case, if you find yourself getting light-headed and you feel like you want to grab the closest candy bar, you are probably experiencing some significant swings in insulin.  Having more frequent meals helps control this issue and it’s why I like having 5-6 meals per day.  I’m able to eat at a 15% calorie deficit when cutting without going crazy with hunger or insulin making me make horrible choices out of desperation.

However, if you eat 3 times a day maybe a snack or two and get your calories in per day, have energy for your activity and you experience NONE of the hunger swings or cravings, you simply don’t need more meals per day.

I am a fan of frequent eating but is it absolutely 100% necessary?

The answer is you should customize your meal frequency!

Meal Frequency can be affected by:

  • environmental
  • your history
  • accessibility
  • culture
  • time
  • finances
So YOUR meal frequency really needs to be customized to your situation based on the benefits and drawbacks listed above in addition to your personal situation.

In the meantime, based on the research and several experts in the field of nutrition and bodybuilding listed here on subject, I’ll continue to eat my six bodybuilding style meals per day.

I’d love to know what you think on this subject.

Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Additional Resources and Studies on Meal Frequency

  • Meal Frequency: International Society of Sports Nutrition
  • Meal Frequency and Energy Balance by Lyle McDonald
  • Researchers Look at How Frequency of Meals May Affect Health
  • Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity
  • Meal frequency and energy balance
  • Meal Frequency and Weight Loss by Dr. Christopher Mohr
  • Optimal Protein Intake And Meal Frequency To Support Maximal Protein Synthesis and Muscle Mass by Dr. Layne Norton
  • Effects of meal frequency on body composition during weight control in boxers

More Studies:

  • Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency
  • The relationship between frequency of eating and adiposity in adult men and women in the Tecumseh Community Health Study
  • Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance

Spot Reduction: The Legend; The Reality

You may have heard that Spot Reduction is a myth. That spot reduction is not possible and anybody claiming it to be such is incorrect.

This question came from an observant reader who asks…

QUESTION:

Marc,

Why is EVERYBODY saying that spot-reduction is a myth? One of the other blogs I read from another fitness expert says that spot reduction is possible!

Is Spot Reduction Possible?

Spot Reduction: Fact or Fiction?

He said “Current research is now finding that when you work a specific muscle, the intramuscular fat and the fat in that general area is where the body derives fuel for that exercise.

In other words, if you work your abdomen – you’re working those muscles in the area – the body turns to your belly fat for the most help in long-term fuel for that exercise.”

His exact words are that “if you do ab exercises (sit-ups, etc.), your body will use abdominal fat as fuel (glycogen) for that exercise, thereby burning it.”

In other words, the shedding of fat is not uniform all over your body!

To what extent is this true?

Thanks, and I look forward to your replies and analysis,

Mike

ANSWER:

Your fitness expert above is correct. Spot reduction at the very basic level has been proven to be true in a single study done in 2007. But before you run off and try the routine listed above you need to know a few more things.

After reading the comments on the news story above, it appears the only study I found was the same one referred to in the story.

One study does not make something a fact. 2007 isn’t exactly current either. 4 years after the single study, no other studies have been done to further the findings. My guess?

Not because it wasn’t proven to be true in theory but for the actual real-world usage of such a scenario.

Another expert and author in the field, Lyle McDonald at Bodyrecomposition.com, took this same study in 2007 and wrote about it in detail in 2009. ( McDonald is the author of The Ketogenic Diet, The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, The Guide to Flexible Dieting and several other nutritional books.)

Lyle said, “Yes, there appears to be an effect whereby working a given muscle impacts on local fat cell metabolism but the effect is completely and utterly irrelevant in quantatitive terms. The amount of fat mobilized due to increased hormones or blood flow is simply insignificant to anything in the real world.”

The amount of fat mobilized due to increased hormones or blood flow is simply insignificant to anything in the real world.

Additionally, the news story mentions picking different abdominal exercises and recommends “perform and reach muscular failure.”

Another ab expert, David Grisaffi, C.H.E.K., CFT, PN, and author of the book Firm and Flatten Your Abs… said in regards to training your abdomainals and core to failure…

“One of the biggest problems with training the core and abs to failure is that the more fatigued you become, the more your form begins to break down. When your form breaks down, that is when injuries are most likely to occur. This is true for any exercise, but it may be truer for abs and core than any other type of exercise due to the susceptibility of the lower back.

Research by Dr. Laurence Morehouse of University of California at Los Angles found that when doing abdominal exercises, especially sit-ups, you over-work your hip flexor muscles – the psoas and the iliacus. When the exercises are performed quickly (form breaks) or all the way to failure (form breaks), the hip flexor’s pull on the lower back is increased.

When performing your core exercises, always be conscious about form, especially as you begin to get tired toward the end of a set. You should terminate your set at or before the point where you notice that your form breaks in the slightest, and that is usually a couple of repetitions before reaching muscular failure.”

So let me summarize and review ….

Spot reduction based upon a single 2007, peer reviewed, published article appears to be valid. However, based upon the results of the study in question, the benefits are not significant to real-world usage.

Furthermore, based upon David Grisaffi’s recommendation of abdominal training, do not train your abdominals or core to muscular failure. Stop short and keep your form intact.

I stronly enourage you to read the references listed and come to your own conclusions.

Sincerely,

Marc David
author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Research References:

Do This – Burn Fat. How to Spot Reduce Belly Fat (Is It Possible?). From http://dothisburnfat.com/blog/spot-reducing-belly-fat/

Stallknecht B et. al. Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans? Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb;292(2):E394-9. From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16985258

Obesity Statistics: Unpleasant for the United States

Photo Credit: Kyle May

Photo Credit: Kyle May

This can’t be?  A report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). called “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America” released obesity statistics for 2008.

What You Need to Know:

  • Adult obesity rates increased in 23 states and did not decrease in a single state in 2008
  • The percentage of obese or overweight children is at or above 30% in 30 states

Two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20%. In 1980, the national average for adult obesity was 15%. Sixteen states experienced an increase for the second year in a row, and 11 states experienced an increase for the third straight year.

As far as I’m concerned, as fitness professionals we are FAILING.  It’s not for the lack of trying or effort.  But the cause isn’t just adults.  There’s a very good interview with Jack LaLanne called Blazing Trails.

Let me leave you with what Jack said…

On one hand, I’m very encouraged by the number of people exercising today. There are more people exercising than I’ve ever seen before. On the other hand, there are more fat people today than ever before in our nation’s history. Our message isn’t reaching as many people as it needs to. We should be talking to kids in kindergarten and first grade. We should be teaching them about physical activity and nutrition. It’s just as important for developing their brains as is reading, writing and arithmetic. ~ Jack LaLanne

What Can You Do About It?

If you’ve got children, talk to them.  Learn how to read a nutrition label.  It’s great adults want to become healthy but if childhood obesity is already at 30%, those statistics will only rise.

View The Full Report with Obesity Statistics per State

How would you solve this problem?

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com