Monthly Archives: November 2014

This Week in Food, Health, and Fitness

This week, read about fad diets, how supplements hurt exercise,  why running may be the fountain of youth, yogurt and diabetes, how your muscles uses protein, and more.

Why Do Fad Diets Persist?

fad_diet_shutterstock_81459505 (640x427)A main motivation for starting my website was to provide a resource for evidence-based nutrition information, and help dispel myths and fads. I am forever perplexed at the number of otherwise intelligent individuals who embark on diets that don’t have a solid evidence base. Clearly, those behind these fads are experts at convincing others to adopt their magic plan! This week David Katz wrote about a talk by senior health editor at The Atlantic (James Hamblin),  who tapped into his media savvy to explain the formula  authors use make their books so alluring, outlined below:

“1. Cite only those studies that support the position you held before you examined the evidence.

2. Invoke a scapegoat, silver bullet, or both.

3. Offer the moon and stars, by means of pixie dust.

4. Insinuate (or say) that everyone who addressed this topic before is a moron.

 5. Proclaim absolute certainty.”

If any of these sound familiar, steer clear of the advice!

Good Diet Advice . . .

In contrast to the preponderance of misinformation, the following piece by provides some good tips for those who need to lose weight. Julia Beluz  interviewed 20 experts, who provided these surprisingly simple tips to lose weight and keep it off.

And have a look at my pages:

I’m excited. . .
World Cup cross country skiing starts this weekend! 

Other links of interest this week:

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Hot Chocolate Photo by TheNickster

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Foret Montmorency Training Camp

I spent this past weekend with XC Ottawa at our traditional “on snow’ camp at Universite Laval’s Foret Montmorency, a forestry station and outdoor education center located about 1 hour north of Quebec City.  La Foret staff guarantee at least a 2km loop, thanks to snowmaking and snow preservation (they stocked 6,000 m of last year’s snow under a thick coat of sawdust).  We skied on the loop last year, and were impressed at what they could do with such limited terrain:  it had steep uphills, downhills, and technical turns. Add to that trailside accommodations with three hearty meals a day, and you have a superb setting for a training camp.

Lucky for us, it had been snowing at Foret Montmorency all week, and we had 15 km of groomed trails to ski on! Good thing, because a 2 km loop might have been pretty crowded as the facility is becoming popular with many clubs looking for early snow. XC Ottawa shared the trails with athletes from Carleton University, Queens University, Chelsea Nordiq, Bates College, Highlands Nordic, Ontario talent squad, Fondeurs Laurentides, Skibec, plus a few other clubs and skiers.

Here are a few pictures. . .

With Jacques Fecteau, the Rossignol ski guru who makes sure I have fast skis!
With Jacques Fecteau, the Rossignol ski guru who makes sure I have fast skis!
Some Ontario Team talent squad athletes getting ready for a ski.
Some Ontario Team talent squad athletes getting ready for a ski.
GirlsTeam (480x640)
I am very excited about XC Ottawa’s Women’s team this year (it looks like we all are). Thanks Katie for the picture!
Colin (Yukon Elite Squad) waxing his skis.  Colin is training with XC Ottawa this winter.  He's is great to have on the team.
Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad) waxing his skis (above), and heading off (below). Colin is training with XC Ottawa this winter. He’s is great to have on the team.

Colinsmall (570x640)

 

Katie - my awesome roommate for the weekend, fearless driver (in thick fog), and another coach of young skiers:  we exchanged lots of tips!
Katie – my awesome roommate for the weekend, fearless driver (in thick fog), and a talented coach of Chelsea Nordiq skiers: we exchanged many coaching tips!
If you want a ski partner, Liza is always game to keep on skiing!
If you want a ski partner, Liza is always game to keep on skiing!
A stop on the final weekend ski after a morning intensity session.
A stop on the final weekend ski after a morning intensity session.

 

 

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This Week in Food, Health, and Fitness

This week, read about the importance of omega-3 fats from plants (ALA), fasted cardio workouts to burn fat, cold remedies that don’t work, and more.

Importance of Omega-3 Fats from Plants

walnutinshell
Walnuts are a good source of plant-based omega 3 fats (ALA)

A growing body of research points to the critical importance of polyunsaturated fats, in particular omega-3 fats. These polyunsaturated fats are called “essential,” because our bodies cannot make them, so we must get these fats from our diet.  The omega-3 fats come mainly from fish and seafood, and some plant sources.   The focus of much of the research has been on marine sources of omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA).  The benefits on heart health are so convincing that some organizations (e.g., the American Heart Association) recommend consuming fish 2 or 3 times a week.

But new research is revealing the importance of plant sources of omega-3 fats (the main plant-based omega-3 is α-linolenic acid – ALA).  Researchers at Penn State University reviewed  the literature on omega- fats, and concluded that plant-based omega 3’s are likely just as effective in preventing cardiovascular disease as the marine sources (EPA and DHA).  The authors recommend amending dietary recommendations to increase the amount of plant-based omega-3 fats. As most of the research has been conducted using marine-based omega-3 fats, more rigorous research is needed on ALA. (Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 2014; 5 (6): 863S).

What are the best plant sources of omega-3 fats?

You’ll find omega-3 fats in flax seeds (you must grind them first), walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds. ALA is also found is varying amounts in canola oil, wheat germ, soybeans, some nuts, pumpkin seeds, and in some green vegetables (e.g., Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens; but since vegetables contain little fat they don’t contribute much ALA to the diet).

Other links of interest this week:

See More Issues of This Week in Food, Health, and Fitness

 

 

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First Tracks in the Gatineau Park

The first ski of the year is always very exciting. Typically the conditions are not optimal, but that usually doesn’t matter – skiing on any kind of snow at this time is fun.

This morning I went out with a few of my XC Ottawa teammates and we were more than pleasantly surprised – not only was there plenty of snow  – but the groomer had been by and set classic and skate tracks!

Conditions were quite good – a dry snow on a hard packed base. . . and good enough to do intervals – 3 times 3 minutes on (Zone 4-5), with 5 minutes rest.  Possibly the best first tracks conditions ever!

Here are some pictures. . .

Liza & me excited about intervals!
Liza & me. . .  getting ready for intervals!
Katie_Liza ski 2
Katie said classic tracks were pretty good
Liza pointing to the now Yeti on our suit. We LOVE Yeti!
Liza pointing to the Yeti on our new suit. We LOVE the Yeti!

Katie_Liza skiKatie and Liza toward top of “neverending” hill. We used this for intervals. Liza and I were skate skiing and conditions on this hill were pretty good.

Katie_Liza
Katie and Liza excited about snow, and skiing
We weren't the only ones enjoying the snow - here's Nakkertok's Emily Stewart Jones
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the snow – here’s Nakkertok’s Emily Stewart Jones. Classic tracks don’t look as good here, but the base is quite hard (no pavement).
selfie and groomer
Check out the groomer in the background! Cross country skiers often get excited about groomers (especially when not expected!).
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