Entries in Metabolism (5)


Fast Food Diet Participants Paid to Purposely Gain Weight

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are making an unusual offer: They are paying people to add fat to their own bodies by eating an extra 1,000-calorie fast food meal each day for three months.

Dr. Samuel Klein, the lead researcher in the study, wanted to do some basic research on why only some people who gain weight develop diabetes and hypertension, while others do not. It's something he said he couldn't research by feeding food pellets to lab animals.

"What you learn in rodents does not always translate to people," Klein said. "What you learn on flies and worms won't translate to people."

Fast food turns out to be a perfect food pellet replacement because it is good for measuring exactly what people are eating. The five restaurants chosen for the study were McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC.

"[Fast food restaurants] have very regulated food content," said Klein, the lead researcher of the study. "We know exactly the calories and macro-nutrient composition within fast food restaurants, so it's a very inexpensive, easy and tasteful way to give people extra calories."

There was also a cash incentive. Participants could earn up to $3,500, depending on how long it took them to reach the weight goal. They had to gain five percent to six percent of their body weight during the three-month span and then they could work to shed the pounds again. Researchers monitored their weight from week to week.

The hospital put out an ad seeking participants, and several people came forward.

Dawn Freeman, a 50-year-old nurse who had finished the program, started out weighing 170 pounds. She said she gained 16 pounds over the course of eight weeks.

She was compensated a total of $2,650 for her effort, including $50 to lose all the weight again, which she did with diet and a lot of walking exercise to help her get down to 162.8 pounds. The hospital guides participants through the weight loss.

Freeman said gaining weight fast -- with a doctor's permission -- only sounds easy and even seemed easy at the first meal, when she ate a Big Mac and large fries from McDonalds.

"It was really good and you know the next night I went to Taco Bell and it was, it was wonderful," she said. "This is after I have already eaten dinner."

But Freeman eventually found out that gaining weight in a hurry is really hard.

"This is not pleasant for them," Klein said. "It's not easy to stuff your face every day for a long period of time."

Freeman said she started to feel awful after two weeks, "I could hardly breathe anymore."

Now she is glad it's over. But another participant, Dave Giocolo, was about to find out that this experiment was not a food lovers' dream.

The 48-year-old bathroom design and supply salesman, said when he heard the medical school's ad on the radio while commuting to work, he called them right away.

The St. Louis native's starting weight was 249.9 pounds with a goal of adding about 15 pounds for the study. So Giocolo, who never went without his morning McDonald's breakfast burrito, started eating quarter pounders for the sake of science.

He made so many drive-in runs that he knew the calories by heart, but around week four, those burgers and fries started to catch up with him. Giocolo said his knees and ankles started aching.

"It's getting harder to move," he said.

Metabolism is a mysterious thing. For Giocolo, the weight went on, slowly it seems. One week he actually lost about a pound. That's when researchers told him to up the quantities. Around week 11, he said he was ready to be done with it.

Just last week, Giocolo finished the weight gain part of the study, hitting 268 pounds -- a gain of just over 18 pounds. He was compensated $3,225, and will receive more when he gets his weight back down to baseline.

Now his challenge is to lose the weight, helped maybe by the fact that he said he has lost his appetite for fast food, at least for a while.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Keep the Weight off as Your Metabolism Changes

Getty ImagesBy DIANE HENDERIKS, Health Contributor, ABC News Good Morning America

(NEW YORK) -- Do you find yourself thinking, “I used to be able to eat anything and everything and not gain a pound?”  If so, what happened?

First and foremost is that our nutrient requirements increase or remain the same as we get older while the number of calories we need goes down.  So what do we need to do?  Eat nutrient-dense foods, watch your portions and exercise more.

Also, for many people changes in “metabolism” can make them more susceptible to weight gain.  Metabolism is how your body uses energy from food to build and repair tissues and organs and how efficiently it does this is a key to weight management. A great way to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off is to increase your metabolism and a great way to do this is to add strength training exercises to your physical activity routine.  Muscle tissue is much more “metabolically active” than fat.  This means that the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn regardless of your age, physical activity level, gender, etc.  An added bonus is that muscle tissue continues to burn calories at rest.

This does not mean dreading the thought of spending endless hours at the gym.  There are simple exercises that you can do to increase muscle mass which will decrease fat mass.  If you like to walk and it is usually on the boardwalk or side streets, find a course that has some hills and you will be adding resistance to your walking routine.  If you walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical machine, crank up the resistance for a fun, cross training workout.   Get yourself some hand weights and have someone to show you how to use them.

Diane’s Top 5 “Prime Time” Health Tips

1. Combine cardiovascular and resistance activity to your daily exercise regimen.
2. Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible – whole grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
3. Reduce sodium, sugar, unhealthy fats, packaged and processed foods in your diet.
4. Drink lots of water, avoid sugared and artificially sweetened beverages and limit alcohol intake.
5. Get enough sleep for increased energy level, clearer thinking and stress reduction

We grow smarter and wiser with age so let’s use these years of intelligence building to do what is necessary to keep us healthy.  Maybe we feel a little entitled to be lazier and make unhealthier food choices because we think we’ve earned it but if you really think about it, the “prime time” of life is when you want the MOST energy to enjoy the stress-free mornings and increased free time.  We obviously cannot stop aging, but we do have control over our lifestyle choices, food choices and physical activity.  Use it, move it or lose it.

Diane Henderiks is a registered dietitian, the founder of and a Good Morning America health contributor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hormone in Women Linked to Dementia, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MEDFORD, Mass.) -- Researchers have found a possible connection between a hormone found in body fat and the risk of dementia, adding to the growing evidence on the potential link between the condition and diabetes.

A new study found that women with high levels of a hormone called adiponectin were at an increased risk of developing dementia.  Scientists say the findings reflect the complicated and still unclear relationships between metabolism, hormones, and the brain degeneration that occurs in dementia.

The researchers studied frozen blood samples from 840 of the participants from the large Framingham Heart Study, taken after the patients had been monitored for 13 years. In the 159 people who developed dementia, researchers found high levels of adiponectin.

Adiponectin helps the body use insulin to deliver fuels like glucose to different cells, such as the neurons in the brain.  Study author Dr. Ernst Schaefer, a professor of medicine and nutrition at Tufts University, said he and his colleagues were surprised to find that women with high levels of the hormone had an increased risk of dementia.

“Adiponectin is supposed to be beneficial.  It’s supposed to decrease your risk of diabetes, supposed to decrease the risk of heart disease.  But in this particular study, to our surprise, it increased the risk of dementia,” Schaefer said.

The researchers also found high levels of the hormone in the men with dementia, but Schaefer said there were not enough men in the study to establish a link as strong as the one in women.

Previous studies have connected diabetes and dementia, suggesting that the condition’s characteristic cognitive decline may be the result of malfunctions in the way the brain’s cells respond to insulin.

Other research has also suggested that obesity, which often goes hand-in-hand with type 2 diabetes, may be another risk factor for dementia.  However, most of the people in the current study were not obese and, with an average age of 88, were older than the patients studied in most dementia research.

Scientists say far more research is needed before they can truly understand the connection between metabolism and dementia or know precisely what that connection means for the prevention and treatment of dementia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Could Spicier Foods Contribute to Higher Metabolism?

Medioimages/Photodisc(UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.) -- Eating spicy foods may be tied to a speedier metabolism.  A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that the addition of spices such as rosemary, oregano, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic powder or paprika to one's meal reduced postprandial insulin by 21 percent and triglyceride levels by 31, researchers reported.

Study co-author Sheila West of Penn State University said, according to MedPage Today, "Antioxidants like spices may be important in reducing oxidative stress and  thus reducing the risk of chronic disease."

Though data is limited on the topic, researchers said there has been heightened interest in the possibilities for managing oxidative stress with dietary antioxidants.

After their research, investigators found that the significant reduction in insulin and triglycerides "were likely a result of the high concentration of phenolic antioxidants in spices."

It should be noted that the study's sample size is small, following only six men between the ages of 30 to 65.  Still, researchers conclude that adding various spices into one's diet "may help normalize postprandial disturbances in glucose and lipid homeostasis while enhancing antioxidant defense.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Men Sleep Better than Women After Drinking

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) - A new study suggests that a woman's sleep is disrupted more than a man's after drinking alcohol, reports HealthDay News.

The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that the difference may rest in differences in metabolism.

"These (gender) differences may be related to differences in alcohol metabolism since women show a more rapid decline in BrAC (breath alcohol concentration) following alcohol consumption than men," said lead author J. Todd Arnedt, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Michigan.
Researchers studied 59 women and 34 men before they went to bed -- some of whom had consumed alcohol to the point of inebriation, others who drank non-alcoholic beverages before bed. The research found that women who had drank alcohol slept less and woke up more frequently than men who had drank.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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