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Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain ?

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain ?

Article from July 31, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

In a recent article written by Susan E. Swithers PhD, and published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Swither’s proposed that the consumption of artificial  sugar substitutes may contribute to increased weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Swithers is a researcher with the Department of Psychological Sciences and Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University. Dr. Swither’s proposes the idea that consuming no-calorie; sweet-tasting foods and drinks interfere with learned human metabolic responses that help maintain our normal weight and glucose (blood sugar) balance. This interference may have the counterintuitive effect leading to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.(1)

The consumption of artificial sweeteners in the USA has been dramatically increasing in the last 10 years.  30% of adults and 15% of children reported weekly consumption of low calorie sweeteners in a 2007-2008 survey. Consumption of artificial sweeteners also parallels with changes in the occurrence of obesity and overweight rates over the same time. The San Antonio Heart Study documented weight changes in men and women over a 7-8 year period. Participants who were normal weight or overweight at the start of the study had the greatest risk of weight gain and obesity when they consumed artificial sweeteners. Numerous other studies sighted linked the use of artificial sweeteners to type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. When taken together these studies suggest a direct link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and a greater risk of becoming overweight, obese, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. (2)

Possible reasons for this response are related to how the body physiologically responds to high-intensity sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners stimulate different brain responses when compared to naturally occurring sugars. Artificial sweeteners by themselves do not stimulate an insulin response as sugar would and unlike sugars, artificial sweeteners do not help the body’s natural insulin response to meals. Artificial sweeteners may in fact weaken the body’s learned response to subsequent ingestion of natural sugars having negative consequences.

The negative consequences of eating artificial sweeteners should not be interpreted as a reason to substitute sugar as a replacement. Current data suggests the total reduction of sugar in the diet as a safe means of maintaining overall health. Healthy substitutes for soft drinks are spring water and carbonated water flavored with lemon or lime juice. To get your caffeine dose in the morning coffee and tea (both black and green) are good replacements for soft drinks.                

 Drew Foehrkolb MS NASM-CPT/CES www.columbiapersonlatraining.com    

(1) Swithers, Susan E., (2013) Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism xx (2013) 1-11

(2) Fowler, S.P. et al, (2008) Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificial sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity 16, 1894-1900

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Internal Circadian Clock and Weight Gain

Internal Circadian Clock and Weight Gain

Article from August 28, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

In a 2013 study published in Obesity, researchers from the Division of Sleep Medicine with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA evaluated the relationship between appetite and our internal circadian sleep clock.  What the researchers found was surprising.

       Twenty healthy non-obese adults were studied throughout a 13-day period. Standard laboratory protocol procedures were followed to normalize total calories ingested and calories expended. Participants rated their appetite and food preferences throughout the study.  The study found that the desire for food was greatest at 7:50 pm and at it’s lowest at 7:50 am.  They also found an increased appetite for sweet, salty and starchy foods, fruits and meats/poultry, and food overall in the evenings. The increase in appetite in the evening was evaluated to be in the 14-25% range! Also noteworthy was a lack of desire among study participants to eat vegetables; suggesting that the circadian system regulates the desire to eat high calorie foods.

     The circadian rhythm and hunger peaks in the evening may have provided our ancestors an evolutionary advantage in times of food shortages because eating the largest meal in the evening, prior to sleep, leads to increased weigh gain.  Unfortunately, now with nearly unlimited access to high fat/calorie foods and an increased desire to eat sweet, starchy foods, especially in the evenings, unwanted weight gain occurs.

      What do we do with this information?  Know that our desire to eat high starchy, high calories foods may be a natural occurrence and that we can mitigate weight gain though several steps.

  1.     Eat your last meal of the day at least 3 hours prior to sleep. If this is not possible eat a low calorie “dinner” high in vegetables and low in fat. Reduce or eliminate snacking after dinner and before bedtime.
  2.     Train yourself to eat within 60 minutes of waking and continue to eat throughout the day in 3 hour intervals.
  3.     Determine what your total calorie requirements are and spread them out equally through the day eating every 3 hours.
  4.     Make nutrient dense food decisions.  Focus on fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein as the primary source of calories in your diet.

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Post Exercise Metabolic Effect

Post Exercise Metabolic Effect

Article from October 21, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

Fall is here and the holiday season is starting in earnest. One way to keep your weight in check during the upcoming holiday season is through vigorous exercise.

   A recent study performed at the University of North Carolina Human Performance Laboratory evaluated the role of exercise and the metabolic rate.

10 men were monitored using a metabolic chamber for two 24 hour periods. One day the subjects cycled for 45 minutes (70% VO2max) and the other day was a non-exercise day. The study participants were measured in the metabolic chamber in tightly controlled conditions. All energy and macronutrient intakes and energy expenditure data was collected during the 24 hour study period. Energy intake and expenditure was matched on both the rest and exercise days to ensure zero energy balance under both conditions while the daily living activities were controlled.

  The study concluded that exercise significantly raised the metabolic rate for 14 hours post exercise. On average 190 additional calories were expended after exercising and 32 calories while sleeping. Even though this study used stationary cycling as a means to achieve 70% VO2max, I believe similar results may be achieved using a treadmill or other equipment as a means to achieve this cardiovascular workload and to achieve the effect of post workout metabolic stimulation. The net effect of calories expended over a 24-hour period and weight loss is meaningful if two or three such exercise bouts are performed during your weekly training schedule and calories consumed are controlled.

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ABC’s of the FLU Vaccine

ABC’s of the FLU Vaccine

Article from October 21, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

Fall is in the air. The days are getting shorter, leaves are falling and Halloween is just around the corner-it’s time for your annual flu vaccination. Why do you need to get a flu vaccination and when should you get it?

Influenza is a serious disease that may cause you to be hospitalized and in extreme cases leads to death. Healthy individuals may get very ill from contracting the flu and may spread it to others. Between 1976 and 2007 it has been estimated that between 3000 to a high of 49,000 people died from contracting the flu. Ninety percent of flu deaths are in individuals 65 years and older.

Unlike the common cold, it is possible to vaccinate against the flu virus.  The annual flu season starts in October and continues into May. The optimum time to get the flu inoculation is in early October. The best way to reduce the chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others is to get the flu vaccine early.

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body within about two weeks after vaccination.  These antibodies may provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.  The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses which current research indicates will be the most common during this upcoming season.

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccination this season. Individuals who have has a severe allergic reaction to eggs should consult with their health care provider before getting the flu vaccine.

Center for Disease Control 2013-14 Seasonal Flu Guidelines

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10 Holiday Maintenance Fitness Tips

10 Holiday Maintenance Fitness Tips

Article from November 30, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb


  • Maintain your training plan while traveling (include trips to a nearby gym at your travel destination).
  • Eat a small nutrient dense meal prior to attending a holiday party.
  • If you drink alcohol beverages at a holiday gathering alternate a glass of water between drinks.
  • If you are unable to make it to the gym a brisk long walk is a good replacement for that days workout.
  • Schedule a holiday race (Jingle Bell 5k) to keep you focused on fitness and to establish a holiday goal.
  • Try something new- if you stale with your current workout routine sign up for yoga, spinning, water aerobics class, cross country skiing, ice skating etc.
  • Avoid calorie dense drinks served during the holidays such as eggnog, spice lattes and cream based drinks.
  • During the winter drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and maintain normal bodily functions especially during air travel.
  • Practice self-reflection – try meditation for stress relief.
  • Start your new year training plan now. Now is the time to work on muscle imbalances and restore normal range of motion with a personally designed strength training plan by Columbia Personal Training. Columbia’s premier functional trainer.
  • Life is short – smile.

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Hip Exercises for ITB Syndrome

Article from December 14, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

What Is the Best Exercise to Activate the Hip(Gluteal) Muscles while minimizing the Tensor Fascia Lata involvement for Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Many runner and cyclists who increased there training mileage have experienced lateral knee pain due to the inflammation of the Iliotibial Band commonly referred to as Iliotibal Band Syndrome (ITBS). In a study of female runners with ITBS, Ferber (2010) found significant weakness in hip abduction, external rotation, extension and increases in knee internal rotation. These same runners demonstrated overuse of the Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) . As a functional personal trainer, my goal is to strengthen the hip muscles , primarily the Gluteals while not activating an already overworked TFL. Based on this relationship between hip dysfunction and ITBS I like to incorporate hip exercise into a well balanced , functional strength training workout. Most typical hip exercise work the gluteals but also work the TFL- further exacerbating ITBS. What’s the most effective exercise to target the gluteal muscles while not targeting the TFL?

In a recent study of 20 health volunteers from the University of Southern California, Selkowitz (2013), evaluated 11 typical hip exercises to determine gluteal and TFL activation. Fine-wire electrode evaluation was used for the first time to target specific muscle activation and to normalize intramuscular signals.

The exercise performed and there effectiveness for minimizing TFL activation while maximizing gluteal involvement follow listed in descending order of effectiveness:

  1. Clam
  2. Sidestep
  3. Unilateral bridge
  4. Quad hip extension, knee extending
  5. Quad hip extension, knee flexed
  6. Side lying hip abduction
  7. Step-up
  8. Bilateral bridge
  9. Squat
  10. Hip hike
  11. Lunge

The evidence supports specific strength tasks for activating the gluteals while avoiding other tasks that activate the TFL. If you are uncertain of how to properly perform any of these strength exercises you may email me at drew@columbiapersonaltraining or visit http://www.columbiapersonaltraining.com for additional information.

Train smart!

Drew Foehrkolb MS, NASM-CPT,CES

Ferber R, Noehhren B Hamill J, Davis IS, Competitive female runners with a history of iliotibial band syndrome demonstrate atypical hip and knee kinematics. Journal Ortho Sports Physical Therapy 2010;40:52-58

Selkowitz D, Beneck G, Powers C, What exercises target the gluteal muscles while minimizing activation of the Tensor Fascia Lata? Electromyographic Assessment using Fine-Wire Electrodes. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Therapy, 2013 February, Volume 43 #2 54-65.

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Post Workout Recovery Tool

Post Workout Recovery Tool

Article from January 31, 2014 by Andrew Foehrkolb

What do you do once you have completed your workout? Do you succumb to the swan song of the La-Z-Boy? Stop!… your foam roller is calling you. A recent study performed by the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, NL evaluated foam rolling (FR) as a tool to aid recovery following a workout intense enough to cause the muscle soreness we often feel the next day. Since we all have experienced exercise-induced muscle damage after an intense workout, will spending some quality time with the foam roller within 30 minutes after a hard workout help?

Twenty physically fit male subjects participated in the study. The participants were evaluated following a one repetition maximum free weight back squat protocol. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to a foam rolling group and the balance comprised the control group. The foam rolling subjects targeted five major muscle groups: anterior, lateral, posterior and medial aspect of the thigh and the gluteal muscles. The subjects performed self-myofascial release techniques on each of the five muscle groups using a 10cm PVC pipe covered in 1cm thick foam. Prior to performing the squats an extensive warm-up was performed. The squat sets consisted of 10 sets of 10 reps of back squats with 2 min of rest between each set.

Measured variables included muscle soreness as determined using a numerical rating system, range of motion measurements, evoked contractile properties were measured using electrodes attached to a stimulator, voluntary contractile properties were assessed via isometric knee extension and vertical jump testing followed the vertical jump protocol outlined in the Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness and Lifestyle Approach manual. The study group used a foam roller post squat exercises following a predetermined standardized rolling protocol. The control group did not perform the foam roller protocol.

The finding confirmed what I personally have experienced from my years of using a foam roll. The foam roller group found marked improvement in dynamic movement, percent of muscle activation, and both passive and dynamic range of motion when compared to the control group. Of significance, muscle soreness was reported substantially higher in the control group demonstrating the effectiveness of foam rolling in reducing muscle soreness. The foam rolling group displayed substantially less pain post workout when compared to the control group.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like a demonstration of effective rolling techniques and practices. The foam roll should be an integral part of your workout routine. Drew Foehrkolb MS, NASM CPT/CES columbiapersonaltraining.com

MacDonald, G., Button, D., Drinkwater, E., Behm, D., Foam Rolling as a Recovery Tool after an Intense Bout of Physical Activity, Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, June 2013, DOI:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a123db