Healthy eating, active living: Optimizing Nutrition Through Exercise

Walk your dog daily, even if you don’t have one

Healthy eating, active living: Optimizing Nutrition Through Exercise

The Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) hosted leading experts at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport on March 5 to present in the Optimizing Nutrition Through Exercise panel to discuss the relationship between physical activity and nutrition.

The event presented a combination of time-efficient exercise strategies with simple evidence-based dietary changes that can help busy professionals and active individuals improve their health and performance.

Assistant Professors Daniel Moore and Jenna Gillen of KPE translated their research insights into practical strategies that you can use to improve your health.

Moore said that as your day progresses, the most efficient way to stimulate your muscles is to eat moderate protein-containing meals, at around 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of your body mass. Additional levels of protein do not build muscle further.

To determine the right amount of protein to consume in a meal, Moore said that “animal-based protein might be the size of your palm,” or, for plant-based protein, he recommends “half a cup or about half your fist.” If you consume more dense protein-containing meals, the excess protein will instead be stored as an energy reserve for later.

Where Moore’s research focuses on “how physical activity improves our body’s ability to use dietary protein,” his “Move It to Use It” principle suggests that muscle diminishes with inactivity and grows with exercise.

It’s important to “engineer more physical activity and less sitting into your lifestyle to keep your muscle sensitive.” For example Moore suggests walking your dog daily — even if you don’t have one. This means you should get outside and be active.

Gillen’s research, on the other hand, is focused on carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Gillen has three take-home strategies for optimizing blood sugar with exercise. The first two revolve around eating habits; she suggests exercising “after eating carbohydrates to lower the post-meal rise in blood glucose [and] perform[ing] repeated exercise ‘snacks’ to lower blood glucose throughout the day.”

Exercise “snacking” means incorporating short yet frequent bouts of physical activity throughout your day. Studies presented by Gillen show that two-minute walks every 30 minutes is an effective way to break up prolonged periods of sitting and more effective than a 30-minute morning walk for young adults.

If you’re someone who sits a lot at work or school and can’t get up to go for frequent walks, try activity break squats — no equipment or gym membership required. Gillen and Moore are currently testing this strategy in the lab, which includes 15 repeated chair stands in the span of one minute.

The third and final strategy Gillen recommends is to “maintain an active lifestyle to help manage blood glucose on days you don’t exercise.”

These strategies are not just useful to those with diabetes. Gillen said that “seemingly healthy adults can have spikes in blood glucose following meals, too.” Besides, you can never be too healthy, can you?

Toronto Raptors and Gymnastics Canada performance nutritionist and sports dietitian Jennifer Sygo also spoke at the event. She discussed orthorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food. This unhealthy fixation on righteous eating can be destructive to health and wellbeing.

Sygo compared the nutritional habits for elite athletes versus the general population. Elite athletes make up “0.00018% of the world’s population,” according to Sygo’s presentation.

Sygo explained that nutrition can be converted to speed in two ways: aerobic metabolism, which “produces more energy, but does so more slowly,” and anaerobic, which “produces less energy, but does so quickly.”

Athletes often struggle to eat enough calories to meet high energy needs. For example, Tour de France cyclists require between 5,000–7,000 calories per stage, which is why they need low-nutrient, dense foods to ensure good energy availability and support the high demands of training. For the general population, Sygo said that a high-fibre and less-processed foods is optimal.

Asking the real questions about intermittent fasting

Is the popular diet worth the trouble?

Asking the real questions about intermittent fasting

It seems like the past year has been riddled with vastly contradictory and — let’s face it — downright bizarre diet fads. With loud voices swearing by the demonization of carbs or fingers wagging at an imbalanced body pH — thanks, Tom Brady — knowing what to eat to stay healthy or to shed extra pounds has become more confusing than ever.

Among the Instagram-famous diet fads is intermittent fasting, hailed by the likes of J. Lo and Terry Crews for its relative simplicity among the abundance of complicated diets: eat as much as you want, but quickly! According to Harvard Health Publishing, intermittent fasting works by “severely limiting calories during certain days of the week or during specified hours during the day. The theory is that this type of diet will help decrease appetite by slowing the body’s metabolism.” This can mean anything from eating only within a strict 8–10 hour window every day to following the 5:2 method, in which the dieter eats normally for five days of the week and severely restricts caloric intake for two days.

Extreme? Yes. But does it work? Possibly — if you can keep it up. JAMA Internal Medicine cited a whopping 38 per cent dropout rate among participants of an intermittent fasting study. There is also a “strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods,” according to Harvard Health Publishing, which calls into question the long-term sustainability of the diet.

Restriction as an explicit facet of any kind of diet comes with its consequences: health care professionals have noted the potentially damaging mental side-effects of a diet focused only on what you can’t do, raising concerns that intermittent fasting may be a gateway to an eating disorder. Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, told Mashable, “Not everybody who gets into this [fasting culture] is necessarily going to spiral into [an] eating disorder, but if you are at risk, this is a really triggering framing.” This could become an excuse to not eat at all, for example, in an era overwhelmingly saturated with expectations of physical perfection.

The final word is still out on whether intermittent fasting is the golden ticket to a six-pack, so as the internet continues to battle it out, maybe just skip the fried stuff and hope for the best.

“I really wish there were healthier options”: a look at UTSC’s food scene

Food options, Highland Hall café, food quality issues at UTSC

“I really wish there were healthier options”: a look  at UTSC’s  food scene

Daria Khalimdarova, a second-year international student from Russia, heats up her food in one of the microwaves at UTSC. This time, it was chicken and rice.

“I am an international student who lives alone in Canada,” said Khalimdarova. “I spend a lot of time at school… so it was challenging for me to start cooking.” However, she said that limited food options, low food quality, and the food vendors’ early closing hours drove her to cancel her meal plan at UTSC and begin cooking for herself.

Most food vendors at Market Place close at 7:00 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, most close at 4:00 pm. All food vendors at the Market Place are closed on weekends.

According to Food Partnerships’ Assistant Director Frank Peruzzi, they are in the process of developing a new five-year plan to improve the food at UTSC.

“A bubble tea concept is now open at Rex’s Den and a new café called ‘Gathering Grounds’ will soon open in Highland Hall,” Peruzzi told The Varsity. “When the new residence opens in the future, it will include a new dining hall with several new concepts and extended hours throughout the week and weekend.”

He said that when choosing new restaurant concepts, his management team discusses ideas and solicits students’ feedback via student surveys. The surveys are held every two years.

“There are a lot of international students coming from different backgrounds including myself who are struggling to adapt to local food,” said Khalimdarova. “I would love to see some changes towards making different meal options available across the UTSC campus.”

Luke Zhang, a second-year Computer Science student, also complained about the food quality at UTSC. “The healthy options are overpriced in my opinion,” said Zhang.

He cited fruit at Market Place as an example. “I really wish there were healthier options, but there aren’t so I usually settle for a burrito bowl at the local kitchen or a pizza at Pizza Pizza.”

There have also been numerous food quality incidents at UTSC. One of them took place in March, when a student found a winged insect in her food from Asian Gourmet, a restaurant in UTSC’s Student Centre.

Then in August, a “caterpillar-like bug” was found in a first year’s food during the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union’s (SCSU) frosh week.

The most recent bug incident took place on October 15, when another insect was found in Asian Gourmet food.

All restaurants in the Student Centre are separately leased with the SCSU as the landlord.

After the August incident, the SCSU said executives “would be attending Food Handling courses” in preparation for future events.

The SCSU also told The Varsity that it was “disappointed in the recent incident at Asian Gourmet and is currently investigating the matter.”

Zhang thinks that the food quality of the food chain vendors at the Student Centre are poor “compared to the same chain restaurants in other places.”

“Toronto Health Department [assesses] the food safety risk of each vendor and schedule[s] inspections accordingly,” said Peruzzi. “A fresh fruit vendor will likely be inspected fewer times than a burger shop.”

Peruzzi said that each food vendor separately selects its own supplier. He said that he is unaware about whether SCSU executives are trained in restaurant management.

The SCSU has not responded to The Varsity‘s requests for comment.

Another insect reportedly found in Asian Gourmet food at UTSC

Similar incident occurred in March

Another insect reportedly found in Asian Gourmet food at UTSC

Another bug has apparently been found in food from Asian Gourmet, a restaurant in UTSC’s Student Centre. The discovery was made on October 14 by UTSC student Edison Liu, who was having a long study session when he found what appeared to be a larva in his food.

A similar incident occurred last March, when another UTSC student found a “large winged insect” on her bok choy from Asian Gourmet.

Liu posted about the incident on the “UTSC Bird Courses” group on Facebook, where he included a photo of the insect on his food. The insect also seemed to be on a piece of bok choy.

PHOTO VIA EDISON LIU/FACEBOOK

“I asked for a refund,” Liu wrote to The Varsity. “But the lady didn’t even say sorry. She said bugs from veggies [are] not bad for me.”

Asian Gourmet confirmed the incident. “It’s very difficult to control,” said Asian Gourmet to The Varsity. “We [buy] the veggies from the supermarket. Sometimes [the insect] is hiding inside. Even if we cut it very carefully, we can’t see… we clean two times, three times, but now more carefully.”

Asian Gourmet also said that many Chinese restaurants have a similar issue with their vegetables, and that students should always be careful when eating in particular Chinese greens like bok choy.

“Tell the students we’re so sorry, we’re so sorry for what happened,” said Asian Gourmet.

All food vendors in the Student Centre operate with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) as the landlord.

The Varsity has reached out to the SCSU for comment.

U of T alum’s startup offered $150,000 Dragons’ Den deal

Leila Keshavjee’s ice pops pave path to sweet future

U of T alum’s startup offered $150,000 Dragons’ Den deal

U of T Kinesiology alum Leila Keshavjee’s startup has landed a sweet deal.

On the recently aired season 13 premiere of reality television show Dragons’ Den, Keshavjee’s healthy ice popsicle startup Happy Pops was offered a $150,000 investment and access to a business accelerator in exchange for 30 per cent equity.

“It was definitely a little more equity than I said I wanted to give up initially going in,” says Keshavjee. “[But] I went with my gut… I have this offer now and I think it’s 100 per cent the best fit.”

Happy Pops was born out of Keshavjee’s desire to create a product that was “a healthier alternative to what’s already out there but still tasted good.”

Through her Kinesiology degree, Keshavjee learned about nutrition and the many ways that sugar can be hidden on food labels. “I wanted to have a product [with ingredients] that anybody could pronounce… There was no hiding.”

While still an undergraduate student at U of T, Keshavjee enrolled in IMC200 — Innovation and Entrepreneurship and IMC390 — Internship in New Venture, where she learned about what it takes to start a business.

Later, she sought advice and support from U of T’s Impact Centre, which she credits with supporting her entrepreneurial adventure. “When you’re running a business, you’re often alone in the startup phase… The opportunities to interact with other entrepreneurs… is one of the most valuable things. You can learn so much from each other.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEILA KESHAVJEE

She started her ice pop business after graduating from U of T in 2016, when, with funding from her father, she purchased an ice pop business that had a 1,000-square-foot commercial kitchen but no retail products.

“When I started, I made all the popsicles myself for the first month. So I used to cut the fruit, blend it all, put it in the popsicle mould, seal them, wash all the dishes and all that.” Now that the business has grown, Keshavjee’s role is primarily focused on sales and marketing.

She describes running her own business and building a brand as filled with constant ups and downs. “You could be cold-calling for days. Or, someone could reach out to you and say, ‘Hey, I wanna have you in my store’… Getting people to know who you are as a brand and trust you hasn’t been easy but it’s definitely been a great learning experience.”

On the encouragement of her friends, Keshavjee auditioned for Dragons’ Den in Toronto, which was among the 38 stops the show made across the country. She waited for four hours among many other worthy businesses. She describes the audition process as intense: “You really just have to block out everybody around you and focus on your pitch.”

After being placed on the standby list, she was called and given three days’ notice to appear on Dragons’ Den. She had to prepare her presentation over that weekend, making sure it was entertaining and that the product looked perfect.

Going into the den, Keshavjee was nervous. “I was nauseous, I was sleep-deprived, I was excited… I [had] watched this show for so long.” However, she relaxed when she saw that the investors liked her product.

During her 45 minutes of filming, four of the six investors made offers for Happy Pops.

Keshavjee made her final decision in about a minute. Originally seeking $50,000 for 10 per cent equity, she is finalizing an offer from Arlene Dickinson, whom she knew that she wanted to work with going in, of $150,000 for 30 per cent equity.

To other students looking to start their own businesses, Keshavjee says, “Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to take a risk, especially while you’re young. Now is the time to try these things.”

Tom Brady’s peculiar diet

Brady claims to drink somewhere between 12 and 25 glasses of water per day

Tom Brady’s peculiar diet

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — a five-time Super Bowl Champion and three-time NFL MVP — is widely considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time. Lately, however, Brady has been endorsing some rather strange dieting habits.

Brady developed these methods with his best friend and ‘body coach’ Alex Guerrero. Guerrero, however, has been caught up in a number of controversies, including lying about being a medical doctor.

Guerrero has also been investigated by the American Federal Trade Commission twice: the first time for starring in an infomercial for a product called Supreme Greens, which claimed to be able to cure “cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease”; the second for advertising a similar product, NeuroSafe, which was advertised as being endorsed by Brady himself.

In September 2017, Brady released his book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. In this book, Brady detailed exactly what he eats every day. One main feature of his diet is an absurd amount of liquids.

In the mornings, Brady doesn’t eat a full meal. When he wakes up at 6:00 am, he drinks 20 ounces of water infused with electrolytes. He then drinks a smoothie containing blueberries, bananas, nuts, and seeds. Two hours later, he has another glass of electrolyte-infused water, and a post-workout protein shake. Brady claims to drink somewhere between 12 and 25 glasses of water per day.

He also heavily encourages snacking. He usually snacks at around 11:00 am, just before lunch. For lunch, Brady will usually have a piece of fish and a lot of vegetables. In the afternoon, he may have another protein shake or protein bar, and around 6:00 pm, Brady eats dinner, which, again, consists of mostly vegetables.

His book provides recipes for chicken and salmon burgers, green salads, and a creamy pasta sauce — which is odd, considering that he supposedly rarely eats carbs. But even Brady treats himself sometimes. He doesn’t often eat dessert, but he does give a recipe for his famous avocado ice cream.

His book also contains several strange rules for eating. Brady won’t eat carbohydrates and protein together. He recommends eating carbs or protein with vegetables instead, as he believes that this is better for digestion.

Brady’s chef Allen Campbell says that 80 per cent of his diet is vegetables and the rest of his diet is mostly duck, grass-fed organic steak, salmon, and sometimes, chicken.

Brady follows what he refers to as an alkaline diet, in order to minimize muscle inflammation. This entails limiting ‘acidifying foods,’ which mostly includes starch and dairy. Brady will not drink water 30 minutes before a meal, and will wait an hour after a meal before drinking another glass.

What is even more bizarre is the list of foods that Brady doesn’t eat. For Brady, caffeine, white sugar, salt, white flour, dairy, and all nightshade vegetables tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and mushrooms are completely off the table. He also won’t consume olive oil if it’s used in cooking but he’ll have it raw. And he won’t eat fruit, unless it’s in a smoothie.

While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with Brady’s diet, and it clearly isn’t hindering his play on the field, many of the specific effects that his diet is supposed to have are not backed by scientific evidence.

He claims that limiting acidifying foods helps control the body’s pH balance. However, what one eats actually has little effect on the body’s pH. Your lungs and kidneys control pH levels automatically.

Brady also claims that this diet can decrease inflammation in the body. While dieting actually does have an effect on the body’s inflammation levels, the extreme methods that Brady takes to avoid inflammation are unnecessary. Typically, having a balanced diet with less processed foods is a solid start.

At 41 years old, which is already ancient in football years, Brady says he wants to play at least another five years. While he is certainly capable, his diet probably won’t go very far in helping him achieve this goal.

What’s behind the increase of vegans in the NBA?

Basketball players are joining the animal-free wave

What’s behind the increase of vegans in the NBA?

One of the rising nutritional trends among athletes today is veganism. This is especially pronounced in the the world of basketball, where more and more players are turning toward vegan diets and lifestyles.

A vegan is defined as someone who doesn’t eat animals or any animal products, which includes all meat, poultry, fish, seafood and dairy products.

As athletes continue to devise strategies to increase performance, ideas around diet and nutrition have also evolved, whether that be hiring personal chefs or even nutritionists to watch what they put into their bodies. The amount that NBA players invest into themselves has dramatically increased over the past decade, with keeping track of their diets and what caused them to be injured being among the leading forces in the so-called revolution.

“I had a recurring injury in my knee,” free agent Jahlil Okafor told SB Nation. “I just kept getting hurt and my knee was always inflamed. The main cause of my knee being swollen was dairy. I cut dairy, watched a few documentaries. Then, I cut out steak, cut out chicken, then gradually started cutting out every animal-based product.”

“Now I’m just an all-out vegan,” added Okafor.

Okafor is not alone in the NBA’s latest growing trend, with Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo, and Wilson Chandler taking up the vegan way of life.

The changing nature of basketball play coincides with this trend. According to Bleacher Report, the NBA has been leaning toward playing ‘small ball,’ a style of play in which the emphasis is placed on leaner athletes who play a variety of positions to outpace and ultimately outrun their opponents. The rise of small ball has seen a decrease in the weight of players since 2013.

It’s important that NBA players on vegan diets have still been able to maintain strength training during the offseason. Performance-wise, players want to increase muscle mass to increase weight, making them more likely to overwhelm an opposing defender when posting up or finishing through a contact at the rim on a layup attempt. Putting on this muscle weight has traditionally been done through high-carbohydrate, high-protein diets.

However, if players add too much muscle, they’ll become too slow to keep up with the faster, more agile players, and they will have endurance issues throughout the game, making them less effective. This can lower minutes on the court in the short term, and, in the long term, it will affect a player’s market value. Vegan diets can allow players to put on enough muscle to stay competitive on the court without running the risk of being too heavy in an increasingly fast game.

Veganism also isn’t unique to the NBA. Despite the rigorous training and dietary requirements in the NFL, 11 members of the Tennessee Titans followed in linebacker Wesley Woodward’s footsteps and adopted a plant-based diet.

Woodward told AP Sports, “My energy level’s gone up… It’s just putting in good fuel to your body. And of course, it’s always hard to keep weight on this time of the season. But it’s worth it for me staying on top of my health.”

NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady both enjoy near vegan diets; Rodgers has cut out dairy from his diet but still indulges in red meat and fish, while Brady credits not consuming dairy or inflammatory foods like peppers, mushrooms, and eggplants to his career’s longevity as he continues to play at a high level at 41.

All things considered, it appears that the traditional idea of bulking up with lots of meat is waning in popularity, and new ideas are being tried, both for competitive purposes and for personal health. It will be up to the players to decide what is right for them.

And while professional athletes are on a different level from the average person, for those of us who are more health conscious, the same benefits on a micro level can be applied here. For example, due to the lower amount of saturated fats and cholesterol consumed in a vegan diet, cardiovascular health is improved, reducing the risk of heart disease. And eating anti-inflammatory foods like kale, spinach, tomatoes, and blueberries can increase energy levels.

In the end, though we aren’t professional athletes, let alone elite basketball players, the fact that more athletes are gravitating toward health conscious options underscores an important emphasis on health and well-being. That should push us toward the ultimate goal of a better lifestyle, on our own terms.

UTSU to pilot online grocery store project with FoodReach

Full program rollout at Student Commons expected September 2018

UTSU to pilot online grocery store project with FoodReach

 

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) will be starting an online grocery store in the next academic year. The service will allow members to order goods online and have them shipped to and stored at the union’s office at 12 Hart House Circle.

The project is in collaboration with non-profit organization FoodReach, which works with agencies that serve local communities and connects them with food wholesalers.

FoodReach provides lower prices by buying in bulk. FoodReach Project Lead Alvin Rebick said that the group acts as a large buying organization that distributes to smaller partners. “This allows agencies with smaller budgets to benefit from pricing that would otherwise only be available to large purchasing bodies.”

The organization “was established to address issues of food access and improved food quality & service to agencies and schools,” wrote Rebick.

According to UTSU Vice-President University Affairs Adrian Huntelar, the program “is being seriously considered for the transition to the Student Commons,” which is expected to be complete in September. The UTSU office is not a suitable permanent home for the program due to a lack of storage space in the office at Hart House Circle.

“We cannot responsibly provide a service that involves perishable food unless we have proper storage space, meaning fridges, freezers, and solid storage rooms,” said Huntelar. “Right now, the UTSU office is simply not equipped to handle large quantities of groceries.”

This won’t stop the union from at least piloting the project. Huntelar sees the program as playing an important role in ensuring food security for students. “The main group that this supports is those who live off-campus without access to a dining hall,” said Huntelar, “but also who are responsible for essentially making their own food.”

With the Student Commons on the horizon, the UTSU also hopes to move the Food Bank, which has been operating in the Multi-Faith Centre every Friday, to the new building to allow for operation every weekday.