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Eating a poor diet when pregnant or breastfeeding may cause long-lasting health damage to the child, studies suggest.
In a trial the offspring of rats fed fatty, processed food had high levels of fat in their bloodstream and around major organs even after adolescence. The animals had a raised diabetes risk – even if they ate healthily. The study, by the Royal Veterinary College and London’s Wellcome Trust, features in The Journal of Physiology.
Studies by the same team have already shown that rats whose mothers were fed junk food during pregnancy and breastfeeding were more likely to crave similar snacks themselves. However, the new twist is that even when weaned off this diet themselves, the damage may already have been done, they suggest.
Dr Stephanie Bayol, one of the researchers, said: “It seems that a mother’s diet whilst pregnant and breastfeeding is very important for the long-term health of her child.
“We always say: ‘You are what you eat’, but in fact it may also be true that you are what your mother ate.”
Of particular concern was fat gathering around the major organs, which has been implicated in the development of type II diabetes. The rats with unhealthy mothers were more likely to have this, even if they were weaned off the junk food diet. However, there were interesting differences between the sexes, with the male offspring of unhealthy mothers having higher levels of insulin and normal blood sugar, while the reverse was true of females, who also tended to be fatter.
Professor Neil Stickland, another of the researchers, said that there was no reason why the same principles should not apply to humans.
“Humans share a number of fundamental biological systems with rats, so there is good reason to assume the effects we see in rats may be repeated in humans.”
He said that studies in humans had found links between the weight of parents and the weight of their children.
Early influence: Dr Pat Goodwin, from the Wellcome Trust, said that the study supported the growing evidence that there were many different risk factors which could contribute to someone becoming overweight. She said: “Pregnancy can be a difficult time for many mothers, but it is important that they are aware that what they eat may affect their offspring.”
Diets Don’t Work provide personal trainers in all our areas of coverage (London, Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot and the Thames valley) who are qualifed in pre-natal training. It makes a huge difference in health and fitness leading up to birth and our new mums find it relatively easy to shed their baby weight afterwards.
Healthy & fit mums have healthy & fit babies!!
A good guide to see if you are a healthy shape is a waist to hip measurement ratio. Here’s how to do it: Standing relaxed and naked.Stay away from a mirror at this point, it may help with the relaxed bit. Measure your waist at its narrowest point. This is usually between your navel and chest or your Victorian waist if you like. Next, measure your hips at their widest point. Most often this is around the buttocks.
Finally, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.The figure you get from this calculation is your waist-hip ratio. For example, if your waist is 85cm (33in) and your hips are 100cm (39in), your waist-hip ratio is 0.85.If you’re a man and your ratio is more than 1.0, or a woman and your waist-hip ratio is more than 0.8, it means you’re an apple shape, heading for overweight status and at greater risk of health problems.
But remember, it’s not just about weight. A fat person can be fit and functionally strong (I know, I have a few of them in my squash league!) and have a much lower risk of heart disease than someone thin who does no exercise. Have a look at some of the succcess stories we have done personal training with, particularly in the Windsor and Maidenhead area-they did not all end up skinny but they all got fitter, changed shape and ended up feeling a lot better about themselves!
While confirming some payment details for a new personal training client of ours in west London, I was asked about our name. During her consultation, her trainer remarked that in her particular case the problem was 90% connecteced with her diet. “Hang on” thought the client, “I thought you were from Diets Don’t Work?” She then passed these thoughts on to me. So, to clarify, by “diets” we mean any fad/fashion/quirky nutrition plan that relies on you eating milkshakes for 3 months, or only meat protein and fat and so on.
Any diet or nutrition plan that puts you on less than 1200 calories per day is inherently dangerous, as is any plan that omits food groups. At Diets Don’t Work we preach the fundamentals of the wholefood diet (or nutrition plan, if you are now getting confused!!) which means that if a food has not been tampered with in any way by man then it is very good for you. We also believe in moderation in all things and advise clients to try and follow the 80/20 rule. This means be good for 80% of the time so that you can be just a little bit bad for the other 20%.
Of course it’s a bit more technical and complex than that, if you want to know ALL the secrets then you’ll just have to buy a block booking of 6 or more personal training sessions, which will include nutritional help and assesment.
It’s just a name really (Diets Don’t Work) so don’t read too much into it-we just wanted something that was not too generic (Total Fitness, Agile Fitness and so on) and that implied that we don’t just do exercise and personal training but look at overall lifestyle changes that our clients will find achievable. This gives them a much greater chance of long term success.
When you buy a block booking with Diets Don’t Work you automatically get a food diary assessment with comprehensive guidelines and tips as to the most effective way forward without starving yourself. Once you are approaching your weight problem by looking at both sides of the equation (input and output) chances are that you will be able to eat reasonably well and lose weight.
Sometimes though clients need an extra bit of help, and there ARE some food plans out there that work well.
Recommendation 1-Weight Watchers: one of our personal training clients in Iver can sometimes fall off the wagon a bit and go for the wine slightly too much. We have found that by her joining weight watchers while having 2-3 sessions a week with her personal trainer that progress is steady and consistent. Weight Watchers is good because it combines weekly accountability (you have to go to a meeting to weigh in each week), a team environment and a clever points system that soon teaches you what foods are more calorie dense than others, while promoting the principles of the whole-food diet. Once you are sticking to your points allowance you soon learn that chocolate or wine has lots of points in a small portion whereas vegetables have much less so you can have more! You also get lots of help in planning the weekly shop and in addition have access to various recipes that fit in with the plan.
All in all a good sensible way of losing weight while learning how to eat well. It is of course doubly effective when done in conjunction with some structured exercise! In fact you get extra points and can therefore eat more! As we go through the week we will go through some more food plans and give you the lowdown on how well they work in the long term.
Like Weight Watchers, Rosemary Conley targets weight loss with realistic weekly targets (remember the upper safe limit for permanent weight loss is around 2lbs per week) and also with a two sided approach, i.e you’re not just focused on eating well/less, but on eating well while exercising more. It also provides a group environment and is more exercise orientated than Weight watchers, which of course we approve of!
There are weekly half hour classes which are both a weigh in, gee up chat and also a 1/2 hour exercise class which is voluntary. Price-wise it’s good value at £10 for membership and around a fiver per class. The portion pots are also a good way of making sure you are eating not only the right things but also in the right quantities. So overall we approve.
Don’t forget though that your very best chance of success is with a tailor made set of sessions with a one-on-one personal trainer. Having a personal trainer means that you are committed to a few hours a week of properly constructive exercise designed specifically for you.
Remember we are not just based in Berkshire but also cover London and the Thames valley, from the city through Windsor, the M4 corridor, Maidenhead and Reading. Next this week some eating plans we are NOT too keen on…and why!
Focusing on avoidance of carbohydrate, the Atkins Diet is surely the best known of all the fad diets. At the height of it’s fame some 3 million Britons were estimated to have attempted to shed unwanted pounds with it. Although the thought of eating lots of bacon, eggs, cheese, cream and beef might sound appealing, there are some serious issues with the Atkins Diet.
To start with, burning fat results in the production of substances called ketones as your body enters a state called ketosis. This is a result of excess protein in the body and how your body tries to deal with it. This can result in bad breath, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea. Constipation may also occur as a consequence of avoiding typically high-fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, wholegrain breakfast cereals and jacket potatoes.
When it comes to long-term side effects, many health professionals are concerned that the Atkins diet may have serious dangers. While the high intake of fat, particularly saturates, may increase the risk of heart disease, there are also concerns that the unbalanced nature of the Atkins diet may lead to nutritional deficiencies, which cause health problems in later life. For example, poor intake of bone-building calcium (found in dairy products) may increase the risk of osteoporosis, while poor intake of antioxidant nutrients (found in fruit and vegetables) have been linked with a host of health problems ranging from heart disease and cancer to premature ageing and cataracts.
Most importantly, the fate of excess protein in the body is the most serious concern. As the body can only digest and use about 20 grammes of protein in one go (or every 2 hours or so) the excess protein has to be dealt with. This excess is turned into amino acid; the acid remnants are used as fuel and supresses fat burning. The aminos are sent off to the kidneys to be processed as waste, but the high level of aminos puts a strain on these vital organs and can ultimately cause kidney damage.
At Diets Don’t Work we believe in moderation in all things. Enough protein is important, but we have evolved to thrive on a variety of foods, and especially need good natural complex carbohydrate to perform well in physical training and exercise. Any good personal trainer should encourage you to eat a healthy and varied diet with small meals often and a good balance. Plus, this is much more sustainable and enjoyable in the real world.
Because so many foods are off limits, the diet can get very boring with the result that many people give up after a short while. It’s also almost impossible to follow the Atkin’s plan if you’re a vegetarian as nuts, seeds, beans and many vegetables are banned in the early stages. Most experts also believe the Atkins plan fails to teach people about the basic principles of a balanced, healthy diet, which science irrefutably proves can help keep us healthy and free from disease.
Although newer versions of the Atkins Diet do allow vegetables and fruit it should still be treated with caution.
So, last week we looked at the Atkins diet, today I’m going to look at Lighter Life. Classed as a VLCD (very low calorie diet) this plan takes food out of the equation altogether by providing you with a supply of shakes (in powder form), soups and bars that replace all your meals. Coming in at under 1000 calories a day there is of course weight loss, but will it stay off, is it safe and will it be fun/tolerable?
High in protein, the Lighter Life programme (like the Atkins) takes you into ketoses, where excess protein is turned into ammonia, which has to processed by the kidneys. This excess workload can again be damaging in the long term for these vital organs.
In addition, as the calorie intake is so low, the triggering of starvation response is very likely. There are so few calories going in that your body thinks there is a famine and puts all sorts of clever famine defence systems into operation. This prompts a hormonal reaction in the body and makes you super efficient at storing fat. These hormones also stay in the system for up to 3 months even after your diet had stopped so that when you return to eating as normal you will now be much more likely to store any excess calories as fat.
There will also be some loss of lean muscle (without a personal trainer to make you do some resistance training) as your body will go into emergency mode and start to break down muscle for fuel. This catabolic reaction (the opposite of Anabolic, so breaking down as opposed to building up) means that at the end of your diet you have indeed lost weight but your metabolic rate, which is a big influence on how many calories you need a day, has now dropped lower. So, once the diet has ended, you now need less calories a day so normal eating will now actually put you in an excess position and the pounds will pile on faster than before!
Having everything you need in a shake sounds futuristic and all that, but a shake CANNOT provide all the vitamins, fibre, micro nutrients, protein and complex carbohydrate that you need to live a long and healthy life!
IN short:DANGER, BEWARE! I do personally have a personal trainer client in Maidenhead who has been on and off this plan for a while. She has a real food addiction problem, and is a sweet addict; as her personal trainer I strongly advised against it, and although she has lost weight the diet is so horrid that she inevitably falls off the wagon and ends up the same weight as before!! So not even recommended as a last resort. The overall lack of calories and proper fuel for exercise makes her grumpy and tired, and limits performance in our personal training sessions.
You may think that by simply skipping the odd meal you are doing yourself a favor, and that by reducing the amount of calories you take in you will start to lose weight and size. This may well be the case, but in the long run, and for your own mental well-being, it might not be the best policy.
Depending on the overall number of calories you are missing out on, you may trigger starvation response (see previous article) and be turning yourself into a super efficient fat storage machine. You will also possibly start to catabolise muscle (use for fuel), depressing your metabolic rate and lowering the number of calories you need per day.
Skipping meals also has an additional slowing down effect on this all important metabolic rate. Every time you eat your body needs to expend energy in order to convert the raw food stuffs you have just eaten into usable fuel in the blood known as glycogen (or blood sugar). This breaking down of raw foods causes a little boost in your metabolic rate, so each time you eat, although you are taking on calories, you are also missing these little boosts. Many personal trainers and professional body builders talk about the metabolism as being a fire – you need to keep it stoked!!
By eating balanced small meals often you get lots of little bursts in your meabolict rate, plus you ensure that you are not eating excess food in one sitting which is likely to be stored as fat. As a huge bonus you also get to enjoy the feeling of eating often (only a little mind you) and also having even blood sugar levels throughout the day. This means that you will have good energy levels and avoid sugar cravings.
So try not to skip meals, and remember that Diets Don’t Work not only provide personal trainers who are also nutritional therapists, but that once you buy a block booking of 6 personal training sessions (in all areas, London to Maidenhead) you get nutritional help and assessment included in the price. Be good!
It’s no accident that the leading country in nutritional research is also the most overweight. You guessed it, the U.S.A. This is closely linked to the high amount of processed, fatty, salty, high-energy foods that make up the diet of many Americans. Your body cannot use many elements of these processed foods and some of them are very damaging in the long term. There are also missing many vital nutrients your body needs. Processed foods are very high in calories, and also contain processed fats. These fats are very stable at the molecular level and so are very hard for the body to break down or use. The only place for them to go is into fat storage. The high calorie content of these foods also leads to the common situation of excess or surplus energy – you are eating more than you are expending. This excess energy is stored by your body as fat, just in case a famine is around the corner. Only recently in evolutionary terms did we get organised enough to have supermarkets.
You will probably have guessed by now that the best fuel for a healthy body is the opposite of these man-made foods: a variety of natural foods that have NOT been tampered with by man, and which we have evolved to eat. Eating in this way is called the wholefood diet (or nutrition plan if you like, as we know now diets don’t work!). Over the course of the next few blogs I will be looking at this and how as personal trainers we encourage this wholefood eating along with structured exercise to make clients smaller and happier (as well as healthier!). At Diets Don’t Work all block bookings of 6 or more personal training sessions include help with eating. One of our most successful clients in Ascot/Sunninhill has done incredibly well by just training hard and eating wholefoods wherever possible – you can do it too!!!
If you think that good nutrition means starving yourself then think again. The most important message is to try, wherever possible and practical, to substitute processed fatty foods for natural ones. If it grows on the ground, grows from a tree, swims in the ocean, and has not been tampered with by us, and then most likely it is a nutritious healthy food. If you are buying processed foods, and it’s very hard to avoid them altogether, try ones that have only been processed a bit: wholemeal/granary/multi-grain breads, shredded wheat, oats, wholegrain, brown rice and pasta.
If none of this sounds tantalising, don’t worry. You can train your taste buds easily to like new foods even though at first you may not be too keen. Think about this: as a child you probably found the taste of beer or wine disgusting. But a bit of peer pressure, some interesting side effects, and at the age of 20 you can’t get enough of the stuff! Just the same way if you try to maintain the principles of the whole food diet you will soon find that burgers and cream (not together) are not as tasty as you remembered. None of us are perfect, and even we personal trainers slip up from time to time, but even one small change in your diet (switching from white to whole grain bread for instance) can make you feel and look better. Lots of small changes will have even more pronounced results. If you have a personal trainer and he/she has put you on the Atkins diet then perhaps you should think twice. In the long term the only way to be in reasonably good shape is to eat well with moderation and exercise, preferably doing something you enjoy!