Source: Sherman Publications

Fitness matters
Expert answers to health, wellness questions

November 28, 2012

Question: I heard that snacking during the day can cause weight gain. Is this true?

Answer: We tend to associate snacking with negative impacts on our weight and overall health as snack foods have a reputation for providing unwanted, empty calories and fat. However, recent reports suggest quite the opposite is true. People following healthier diets snack twice as much those with less healthy diets. That being said, these snacks consist of nutrient dense foods such as low-fat yogurt, fruit, and nuts, which provide a variety of nutrients and fewer calories. So - snack often and snack wisely!

Question: Are GMOs safe for consumption?

Answer: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have received a fair amount of press lately because of the alleged threat they pose to our health. Proposition 37, the California ballot measure that would have required labeling of genetically engineered foods, has been a large part of this press. Though the long term effects of consumption of genetically modified foods have not been proven, numerous animal studies have shown a link between GMO consumption and increased incidence of tumors. However, a recent report in the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012 revealed quite different results from animal data. For the first time, consumption of genetically modified tomatoes containing a peptide that mimicks HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), actually reduced plaque formation in blood vessels of animals. Due to conflicting evidence, no conclusions can be drawn at this time. Additional research is required to determine the safety of GMOs in our food supply.

Question: Should I supplement individual amino acids?

Answer: It is a common misconception that supplementing individual amino acids such as leucine or tryptophan will stimulate protein synthesis and provide additional health benefits. In fact, there is a lack of evidence to substantiate these claims. Rather, this sort of supplementation is counter-productive for several reasons.

First, individual amino acids compete for absorption carriers; thus, taking one amino acid in abundance may inhibit the absorption of others. Secondly, amino acids are actually preferentially absorbed as small peptides over individual amino acids. Individuals can adequately meet needs by consuming a variety of protein-rich foods that fit within the recommended daily allowance for protein (0.8 g/ kg body weight).

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