Hydration and Cognition are Linked!

Hydration and Cognition are Linked!

We’re slowly leaving summer behind and with the cooler months we start to think less about the importance of staying hydrated. It’s just as important now as it was in July to drink water, and what it does for your body and mind is pretty amazing. 

Did you know that drinking water can actually improve your mood, memory, attention, and learning? The human brain is made primarily of water: over 75%! It makes sense that, when the body becomes dehydrated, the brain has a more difficult time doing what it needs to. 

It’s easy to lose water if you’re not consuming enough throughout your normal day. If you’re losing more water than usual because of hot weather or exercise, you’ll need to take-in even more. 

How to Stay Hydrated 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that on average, men should consume approximately 15.5 cups, or 3.7 liters, of fluid every day. For women, the recommended amount is 11.5 cups, or 2.7 liters. 

Yes, that sounds like a lot!! We’re also used to hearing that we should drink (a much more reasonable) 8 cups of water a day. However, you should take another look at that information. 

The word “consume” means you don’t necessarily need to drink the water you need. You can eat foods that contain water and still meet the recommendations. It also says “fluids,” which means you can drink a water-containing beverage like milk or juice and still get the needed H2O. 

Here are some ways to get the water you need, to keep track of your intake, and to remind you of your next water break. 

 

01.

Drink from a Marked Container 

A container that’s marked according to how much fluid it can hold is going to be your best friend. It’ll be easy to keep track of how much you’ve had to drink. For example, if you drink from a 32-ounce bottle, you can make it your goal to drink 2 or 3 of those bottles every day. This will put you at approximately 1.9- or 2.8-liters respectively. You should be able to get the rest of your water needs by eating. 

 

 02.

Eat Foods with High Water Content  

Healthline published a list of water-rich foods that can help you determine which foods to add to your day. Some great foods from this list include: 

  1. Watermelon 
  2. Cucumber 
  3. Skim Milk 
  4. Lettuce 
  5. Zucchini 
  6. Celery 
  7. Plain Yogurt 

As you can see, there’s a solid mix of sweet/salty flavors and crunchy/creamy textures. There are enough options to find at least one thing you enjoy! 

 

 03.

Use an App to Track Your Intake 

Some fitness apps have a section where you can log your water intake. Other apps exist solely for the purpose of reminding you to drink and to help you track your intake. You can simply go to your App Store from your smartphone and do a search for water tracking apps. If you just want some of our random finds, take a look at these free-to-download apps: 

Waterlogged – iOS 

Daily Water – iOS 

Water Time Pro – Android 

Drink Water – Android 

 

04.

Test Your Hydration

An easy way to tell if you’re hydrated enough is if the color of your urine is pale yellow to clear. Darker urine colors may indicate that you’re not getting enough water. There are other reasons why urine color may change so never take it strictly as a sign of dehydration!  

Another quick test is the skin elasticity test. If you pinch the skin on the top of your hand, it should quickly drop back to its original position. If it holds the pinched shape and slowly comes back down, you might be dehydrated. 

Remember that every body is different

Keep in mind that the amount of water your body requires to function healthily is going to be different from what someone else’s body requires. Even if you’re generally the same in terms of age, health, and fitness level, your body may simply need more or less. Listen to your body and focus on you! 

To read what our Registered Dietician, Debbie James, had to say about Drinking Too Much Water, read her response to our guest’s question. Or, to learn more about different types of water, read her response to this question on Distilled Water. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

How to Handle a Weight Loss Plateau

How to Handle a Weight Loss Plateau

Question:

Hi. I’m a member at LA Fitness.  I started this weight loss journey 6 months ago. I weighed 287 pounds. I’m currently 210 pounds. I have been eating under 20 grams carbs per day and 1-3 grams of sugar per day. It’s like a version of keto. But I don’t do high fat. No cheat days. I work out daily. I’ve hit a plateau with my weight. What can I do?

– Stephanie S.

Answer:

  • My question is: How has your body composition changed during your journey the last 6 months? Have you kept track of your measurements in addition to the scale? With a significant weight loss of 27% either you’ve lost some lean body mass (reduces metabolism), retained it, or have gained lean mass (hides fat loss on scale).

    Strength training is a critical component of your exercise routine. You say you work out daily. Remember that the workload must be progressive – your body is stronger now than last year, so more resistance is needed for the same effect. The idea is called the overload principle. When you continue the same routine for your workouts after your body has adapted, you fail to make further progress.

    Stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to rising cortisol levels which may impact metabolism and weight.

    With very low carbohydrate, high protein and moderate fat intake it’s just as likely that you’re under-consuming calories now as it is you are overconsuming calories. Eating too little suppresses metabolism while eating more than you need prevents fat burning. Seemingly healthy keto foods like bone broth are higher in sodium which may cause you to retain water weight. Remember to focus on real, whole foods and avoid processed food products.

    Breaking through a plateau may take a few weeks and everybody is different, so you will experience a shorter or longer duration of plateau than another person. If you still don’t see a change in body composition after a month of progressive exercise and fine-tuning your diet, consider starting over from where you are at now using the Body Weight Planner to determine calorie needs. Plan for only a 1-2 pound loss per week to avoid rapid weight loss (greater than 2 lbs./week) which contributes to muscle, water, and bone density loss.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

8 + 15 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

Cholesterol and Exercise – How to Manage Your Numbers Naturally

Cholesterol and Exercise – How to Manage Your Numbers Naturally

(Evidence Based)

Does Exercise Help Manage Cholesterol?

Typically, we might hear that changing our dietary habits is the key to reducing bad cholesterol and to increasing good cholesterol. However, studies have shown that exercise also plays an important role in cholesterol management. 

Combining proper nutrition and regular exercise is the key to healthy cholesterol numbers. 

The research appears to disagree on whether the frequency or intensity of the exercise is important to improving cholesterol. However, the consensus lies in the duration of exercise.  

From Kodama and colleagues’ review of over 25 studies, all seem to agree that regular aerobic exercise, performed for a longer amount of time per session, is what will lead to improvement in overall cholesterol levels. 

What are HDLs and LDLs? 

Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to talk about some of the key terms we’ll be using. 

LDL – Low-Density Lipoprotein is what’s commonly termed “bad cholesterol.” High levels of this stuff are what put you at risk for cardiovascular complications

HDL – High-Density Lipoprotein is what we like to call “good cholesterol.” This is what carries bad cholesterol and triglycerides to the liver in order to get rid of them. 

Triglyceride – These come from the fats you consume. Like LDL, a high amount of triglyceride is also linked to cardiovascular disease

What Can Exercise Do for Cholesterol? 

A study on activity and cholesterol found that physically active individuals had lower levels of LDL and Triglyceride, and higher levels of HDL, than individuals who lived a sedentary (non-active) lifestyle. 

The levels of activity among the participants were mixed. This means that low, moderate, and high intensity exercises all made a difference. This is great news for people who are afraid to start exercising for fear they aren’t “fit enough” to exercise. If this is you, read our post on The Common Misconception of Getting Fit Before Joining a Gym

Exercises You Can You Do to Lower LDLs and Raise HDLs 

Regardless of our suggestions, you should choose an exercise that you can comfortably do for extended periods of time. It may also be necessary to have your doctor monitor how your heart responds to any new exercise routine.  

The American Heart Association recommends about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (that’s about 30 minutes a day if you’re working out 5 days a week), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.  

You can mix and match different amounts of moderate and vigorous exercise. The idea is to aim for some amount of time in the AHA’s general ballpark and work your way to a level that feels good for you.  

Aerobics

Aerobic exercises include activities like jogging, running, swimming, bicycling, dancing, and others that elevate your heart rate. 

To effect cholesterol, one study suggests that an effective level of weekly exercise is approximately 17 to 18 miles of jogging at a moderate pace. If that’s too much, 11 miles is still effective but to a lesser degree.  

If 30 minutes a day sounds a bit vague, this jogging recommendation may give you a more focused perspective on how much exercise you should aim for.  

Low to Moderate Intensity Resistance Training 

Resistance training may involve the use of objects, like dumbbells, or your own body weight to improve your muscle strength, tone, mass, or endurance. Examples include lifting free weights, bench press, deadlift, squats, lunges, and more. 

A review conducted by Mann and colleagues investigates the effects of resistance training on cholesterol. Their findings suggested that low to moderate intensity workouts were just as effective as high-intensity workouts! More good news! 

This type of exercise can be done independently to improve cholesterol or be paired with aerobic exercise. 

Conclusions

Long story short: 

  1. Regular exercise, performed for extended periods of time, is the big game changer
  2. Cardio and resistance training are shown to improve cholesterol
  3. It’s more about quality than quantity

To learn from our Registered Dietician, Debbie James, about how to lower cholesterol with the right food choices, read the answers to her Q&As on low carb and low fat diets and cholesterol friendly foods. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

Sources

  1. “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids.” Www.heart.org, 2018, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults.

     

  2. Kodama, Satoru, et al. “Effect of Aerobic Exercise Training on Serum Levels of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol.” Archives of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, 28 May 2007, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/486847.

     

  3. Kraus, William E, et al. “Effects of the Amount and Intensity of Exercise on Plasma Lipoproteins: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, 2002, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa020194#t=article.

     

  4. Mann, Steven, et al. “Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations.” SpringerLink, Springer International Publishing, 31 Oct. 2013, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-013-0110-5.

     

  5. Skoumas, John, et al. “Physical Activity, High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Other Lipids Levels, in Men and Women from the ATTICA Study.” Lipids in Health and Disease, BioMed Central, 12 June 2003, lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-511X-2-3.
Is Fructose to be Feared?

Is Fructose to be Feared?

Question:

Someone told me that fructose wasn’t as bad as sugar because it comes from fruit. Does fructose come from fruit?

Thank you.

-Liz P.

Answer:

Sugars are generally single unit or dual unit compounds, called monosaccharides or disaccharides. Glucose (blood sugar) is a monosaccharide. Fructose (fruit sugar) is a monosaccharide. Sucrose (table sugar) is glucose plus fructose, making it a disaccharide. Lactose (milk sugar) is made of glucose and galactose, another disaccharide. All are natural sugars found in whole foods yet many are isolated as ingredients in processed food.

They all provide the same energy of 4 calories per gram and, in their isolated state, don’t offer any other nutrition. A whole fruit however, has water, fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals that a spoonful of table sugar does not. In that respect, fructose is better than sucrose. But the person that spoke to you may have been referring to the different sugars’ effects on the body.

Fructose is rarely found in isolation and according to the International Food Information Council Foundation its absorption is improved in the presence of glucose.  Harvard Health indicates that fructose isn’t used anywhere in the body other than the liver. This may be why it’s linked to chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  When high fructose intake is due to its presence as an ingredient (namely high fructose corn syrup) it is often associated with inflammation, increased calories and fat deposition, according to Medical News Today.

So isolated sugars are not as good as the original sources. The best advice is to stick to the whole foods (fruit) and limit your added sugar consumption in general.

You may be interested in our previous articles Busting Sugar Myths: Fact or Fiction, and Which Fruits are Best to Eat?

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

5 + 1 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

Member Spotlight | The Reward is Worth the Effort

Member Spotlight | The Reward is Worth the Effort

There have been days where I really didn’t want to attend a class, but I convinced myself the reward was worth the effort”

Henry B.

LAF Member

Henry has been a member at LA Fitness for the last 10 months, and if you’re not sure how to take advantage of what the gym has to offer, then his story may be just what you need to read today.

Henry’s Story

“I had a regular fitness routine that included 6am brisk walks with weights, followed by various sit-up/push-up exercises. While this regimen kept my heart in good shape, the rest of the body was ‘soft’.

I did monitor my weight but stopped getting on the scale when I saw the number 215 pounds. This was about the time I separated from my wife of 20+ years, so I used this event as the beginning of the ‘transformation’.

I changed my eating habits and met a wonderful woman who was an LA Fitness member. She convinced me to ‘try the gym for a week’ to see how I would like it.

I was very skeptical at first, I mean, I knew how to work out so what benefit would a gym bring to me? We started with a daily exercise class routine, from Body Works Plus Abs, to Power Circuit, to Cardio Jam, to Boot Camp Conditioning. After the first week, I signed up for the annual membership and have been very active since. We have now added yoga to our routine and attend a class 6 days a week. My current weight is 165 pounds, and I feel fantastic!”

Like Henry, many people who want to make changes to their health and fitness don’t know how to navigate all that the gym offers. For him, what worked was to pretty much try everything! He eventually found a routine he enjoyed and customized his workout schedule to include his favorite exercises or classes.

The other major influence was the support of his gym companion. Having someone to attend class with can be a great motivator, can help keep you accountable, and can help push you through the last 5 minutes when your body would much rather quit.

What’s Next for Henry?

“The only next step is to maintain what we have built. Perhaps a role as a motivational speaker at LA Fitness?”

Henry, you may be closer than you think! Just by sharing your story, others who aren’t sure where to begin can look to your success story.

A Piece of Advice

If Henry could offer you a piece of advice from what he learned along his journey, he wants to emphasize discipline.

“My dad was an MP at a Marine air base, so I knew the meaning of discipline from a young age. As I have gotten older, this has become necessary to maintain the routine. There have been days where I really didn’t want to attend a class, but I convinced myself the reward was worth the effort. My wonderful woman agrees!”

Closing Thoughts

The major takeaways from Henry’s story are:

  1. Try as many classes as you can to find what works best for you
  2. Having a gym buddy can be a great advantage
  3. It is important to cultivate the discipline needed to maintain your new routine

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post!

For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided.

SUBSCRIBE TO

LIVING HEALTHY

Be the first to know about exclusive

content, deals and promotions

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest