Monday, December 26, 2016

Dear Mark: What Does High HDL Mean? and Is Exercise Good or Useless for Weight Loss?

Inline_Dear_Mark_HDLToday’s edition of Dear Mark is a relatively brief two-parter, but it’s a good one. First, I answer a question about HDL. Is higher good? Is higher (sometimes) bad? How does a person make sense of all the seemingly conflicting information? Then I explain how two statements about exercise and weight loss can be simultaneously correct and apparently contradictory. Is weight loss effective or useless for weight loss, or what?

Let’s go:

I’m not sure I understand the HDL one. So higher HDL could lead to cardiovascular issues, but higher HDL is a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle? I think I’m missing something. Does anyone understand this to explain it?

Allow me to provide more details.

Higher HDL is complicated, and before we can interpret its health implications we must understand the many roles it plays in immune and cardiovascular health.

HDL reduces and neutralizes oxidative, inflammatory agents that damage LDL particles and lead to atherosclerotic lesions in our arteries. They can even clear oxidized LDL particles themselves, shuttling them to the liver for processing.

HDL can also attack and destroy pathogens and their toxins. In some cases, HDL particles carry antimicrobial poisons and trick pathogens into consuming them. HDL also “grabs” bacterial endotoxins and neutralizes their toxicity.

Sometimes, high HDL indicates an ongoing inflammatory assault or infection. For instance, high omega-6/omega-3 ratios have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol, but they do not suppress atherosclerosis. How can this be?

Perhaps the high omega-6/low omega-3 intake is increasing the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage. That’s what other studies show, generally—eating more dietary omega-6 (linoleic acid) makes your lipoproteins more polyunsaturated, unstable, and prone to oxidative damage. And since one of HDL’s primary jobs is to clean up oxidized LDL and the agents that oxidize it, the body might ramp up HDL production as a response to increased omega-6s.

High HDL can be “bad” if it indicates an infection or high oxidative stress. But it’s also “good” because it means a person’s body is producing more HDL to deal with the infection or inflammation.

Previous attempts to brute-force high HDL via drugs like torcetrapib have failed miserably. Actually, they succeeded in boosting HDL to incredible heights, but they failed by killing the people who experienced the HDL boosts.

HDL testing could use some updating, I think. The HDL measurement we get at the doctor generally refers to the weight of the HDL. If your HDL has picked up toxins, it will weigh more and come up higher than a person whose HDL has not—even if you have the same number of HDL particles. Far more illuminating is the HDL particle number. When HDL particle testing becomes more routine, I think we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.

Thanks for the question!

I’m taking the Primal Health Coaching Certification course and I just started Key Concept #7 this morning, titled Exercise is ineffective for weight management. Imagine my surprise when I read #10 above: Exercise is important for weight loss. Looking forward to reading more about this and getting some resolution around this topic so that I have a clear message for my clients.

Great question!

Note the slight nuance: exercise can be both ineffective for weight management and important during weight loss.

Exercise is a major factor in Primal Health Coaching after all. If it weren’t important, we wouldn’t mention it. It’s just not enough for weight loss.

What we were trying to emphasize is that clients not rely on exercise for weight loss. Doing so leads to many negative outcomes:

  1. Promotes an “earn it, burn it” mindset, where bad food choices can be “paid off” by cranking out another hour or two on the treadmill or on the bike. This only encourages people to make those bad food choices.
  2. Introduces guilt. If exercise is the major determinant of weight loss and you’re not losing weight, it necessarily follows that you’re a lazy, good-for-nothing layabout who just needs to work harder. A small subset of people respond to this kind of motivation positively. Most will retreat into junk food and withdraw completely.
  3. Leads to burn-out, especially in women. You don’t want to get into the exercise rat race, where exercise becomes a miserable job you clock into day in and day out. Exercise should be joyous, intense, and, yes, challenging. It shouldn’t be drudgery. It shouldn’t be mind-numbing. It should be acutely stressful but not chronically so.
  4. Doesn’t really work all that well. Exercise can certainly enhance weight loss alongside diet and make weight gain harder, but as a standalone intervention it falls short. There are millions of examples of people who try to exercise their way to weight loss (watch for a bunch coming this January!) and fail miserably.

That’s different from using exercise to enhance and improve weight loss, however. Alongside a good diet, exercise can:

  • Help you preferentially lose fat and retain/gain muscle. Diet helps you lose weight. Exercise affects what type of weight you lose.
  • Create a glycogen debt and increase non insulin-dependent glycogen storage, so you can eat (post-workout) carbs without altering insulin levels by much and shutting off fat loss.

Those are the two most important roles exercise plays in fat loss, but there’s also more. If you want to know how exactly exercise can enhance fat loss, check out the post I wrote earlier this year. It contains lots of information you can use to improve your client outcomes.

Thanks for your question, by the way! It’s an important distinction that has to be made.

That’s it for this week, everyone. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday. Thanks for reading!


The post Dear Mark: What Does High HDL Mean? and Is Exercise Good or Useless for Weight Loss? appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Host A Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve

Ever try getting a babysitter on New Year’s Eve? I would rather save the dough and spend the special night in with my kiddos. To keep my kid’s happy, I’ll invite friends and family and their youngsters to join in on the celebration. As a host, this means planning a menu that’s kid and adult friendly — plus some entertainment for the kids so the grownups can relax. Check out these family-friendly dishes that will make everyone happy!

Family-Friendly Bites

Shrimp-Pineapple Skewers

Prosciutto-Wrapped Crudité

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

Crisp Crab Cakes

Mini Meatballs


Family-Friendly Desserts

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Kid-Friendly Mocktails

Eggnog Slimmed

Cranberry Spritzer

Spiced Virgin Apple Martinis

Mixed Citrus Spritzer

Sparkling Shirley


Don’t Forget….Kid-Friendly Activities

One of the most important rules when hosting a New Year’s Eve bash with the kids in tow is to have activities planned. If you have elementary school kids or younger, set up pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags on the floor for them to fall asleep on (so the adults can enjoy the rest of the party). Here are five activities I’ve done with fabulous results:

  • Have a karaoke contest (adults can get involved too).
  • Set up art projects (I love foam sticker projects this time of year).
  • Have a dance party. Set up a playlist of kid-friendly tunes and if you like to watch the ball drop, have the kids dance to the performers.
  • Pull out the dress-up chest and don’t forget the high heels and sparkly purses —you’ll get the cutest photos of your little ones.
  • Have a glow stick party to ring in the New Year by inserting glow sticks into balloons and inflating them.
  • Schedule an early countdown to midnight for little guests (they won’t know the difference, promise!).

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

from Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy...

The Final Days of 24 Days of Togetherness + Our Christmas!!!

Hi, friends! I hope you had a very merry Christmas! Ours was absolutely awesome. Now, I realize why parents love Christmas so much. Qman didn’t totally understand Santa, but he was sooooo excited about the “prizes” he received. Seriously, what a fun couple of days. I kind of wish Christmas was twice a year! 🙂

Ok, so let’s recap our final days of 24 Days of Togetherness. I seriously can’t believe it’s over. What a whirlwind month! In case you missed Days 1-18, you can read the recaps here!

DAY 19: Visit Santa Claus

We went to The Christmas Place in Abington to visit Santa Claus, and Qman wasn’t sure what to make of him. He sat on his lap and basically looked him up and down for a good 10 seconds… like, who is this strange man you want me to meet? Haha! Quinn eventually asked him for “cars” for Christmas and then received a small candy cane once it was all over, so I’d say this year’s Santa visit was a success!

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DAY 20: Drink eggnog

DAY 21: Give Quinn a $5 Christmas present

Chewbacca Flashlight for the win!

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DAY 22: Give Murphy a present

We got him some Peanut Butter Coated Sweet ‘Tater Fries, which, of course, he lovvvveeedddd!

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DAY 23: Wrap presents and drink adult beverages

DAY 24: Get holiday drinks from Starbucks

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Rewind to Christmas Eve morning… 

CrossFit was on the agenda for the morning of Christmas Eve. Our gym programmed the traditional “12 Days of Christmas” workout, which we couldn’t miss. It’s truly one of our favorites.

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The workout was a blast. Over 40 people, dressed in red and green, turned out for it. The gym was packed… total organized chaos! 🙂

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I rocked my new tank, sports bra, and leggings from HYLETE, who makes the best (i.e. high-quality, functional, cute) workout gear for really affordable prices. My leggings (nimbus caprite) can be worn as capris or full-length tights. How cool is that?! Love them. And I’m obsessed with the sports bra. So much, in fact, I ordered another one and got $20 off. It’s supportive with great coverage, but doesn’t have super wide straps. FYI: You can save 40% off your purchase from HYLETE with code CNC (even if you buy just one item). It expires 12/31/2016, so be sure to hop on it!

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After CrossFit, we headed straight to Starbucks for our holiday beverages (Day 24) and then home to shower and prep for visitors. In the early afternoon, we had my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece over for snacks, beverages, and presents.

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Later on, my father-in-law and his girlfriend came over for Christmas Eve dinner.

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And, of course, presents!

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Check out Qman’s new motorcycle from Papi!!

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After we put him to bed, Mal and I stayed up to make him the front loader that we bought him. Quinn asked Santa for “cars” for Christmas and that’s what he got! 🙂

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Someone was too excited to sleep on Christmas morning, but it didn’t matter how early it was… experiencing Quinn’s excitement was the greatest thing ever. No coffee needed!

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After we opened presents, we enjoyed a small breakfast: Scrambled eggs with almond croissants from Trader Joe’s.

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Then, we headed to my sister’s house for brunch, more presents, and more Christmas celebrations, including a cousins donut-eating contest!

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What a wonderful Christmas.

Question of the Day

How was your Christmas? What was the best part?

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