Chew Your Food!

You’ve heard it before. Chew your food, don’t just swallow it whole. Chewing definitely affects digestion and absorption. But adequate chewing can also affect caloric intake, improve mood and focus, and improve gut hormones.

Digestion and absorption definitely benefit from chewing more. The more you chew food and break it down into smaller pieces the more easily it is broken down and absorbed. This also leads to feeling satiated (full) sooner and with less food. This can lead to a caloric reduction, or at the very least reduce overeating. Chewing more also allows you to taste more of your food which increases satiety and overall meal satisfaction.

A study on chewing found that an increased number of “chews per bite” resulted in an increase in beneficial gut hormones. The same study also found that the increased level of chewing reduced hunger for prolonged periods after a meal. Chewing is known to help with maintaining focus, as it’s often used in learning situations, driving long hours, to prevent sleepiness, etc. Study participants scored higher on intelligence and alertness tests with increased chewing. Stress was also reported to be lower in this study. While the mechanism is not totally understood, it is thought to be a combination of factors including “increases of cerebral blood flow and brain activity, cerebral blood flow, cardiovascular system, ascending reticular activating system, glucose delivery, and flavors.”

One simple way to chew more without even thinking about it is to eat away from screens. No tv, no phones. Eat with another person. Or looking outside or even at a piece of art you like. Having your meals away from screens will slow the pace of your meal and your chewing allowing for all of these benefits.

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Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms are very important in mammals. There are many clocks in your brain and body, but they are all controlled by the master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Circadian rhythms and clocks, the SCN, and what affects them is only recently starting to be understood. The findings so far are fascinating.

 

Light plays a big role in regulating your circadian rhythms. Humans evolved with activity governed by nature, which means our exposure to light. The brain starts to boot up with its first exposure to bright light, and begins its shutdown sequence around 12 hours later, when the human body assumes is nighttime, and dark. Many other internal clocks are tied to this system and gene expression with them.

 

The timing of meals is another big factor in circadian rhythms. Again, looking at early humans explains why. At the end of the day the body will shift hormone production in preparation for sleep. Basically, the body will switch modes, from active to rest. Digestion will slow, metabolism slows, etc. At the same time, melatonin increases, which aids in sleep quality. So following a time-restricted eating (TRE) schedule will benefit your energy levels, fat loss, lean mass, sleep quality, and more.

 

It’s not all bad. There are things you can do to stay in rhythm, so to speak. As far as light goes, try to dim all lights, screens, etc. as you near bedtime. If you can get LED lights that can be set to specific colors: harsher, cooler (i.e. bright blues) colors in the beginning of the day, and warmer, dimmer (i.e. reds/oranges) as the day becomes night. As for timing your meals, TRE is relatively easy to do. TRE is not the same as intermittent fasting. With TRE, you basically follow the natural flow of the day. After waking up, once you have your first meal, about 12 hours later, should be your last meal. This should line up so that you’re eating an hour or two after waking and before going to bed.

 

This is a very dense topic, so this post barely skimmed the surface. Here are some good places to read more:

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Agonist/Antagonist

Great way to save time in the gym and build strength.

The agonist/antagonist method is training opposing muscle groups, one after the other. A set of chin-ups and then a set of chest presses. Working opposing muscle groups will not only make both stronger, you’ll burn more fat, save time, and keep your physique balanced.

 

Get stronger

Using the agonist/antagonist method of training is simple with some rudimentary knowledge of muscles and a little practice. Studies have shown that pressing strength was improved by working or even just stretching the antagonist (in this case back) muscles. Research shows that a muscle will have a stronger contraction following contraction of the antagonist muscles. So if you build your workouts in this way, you will be able to improve your strength. To put it simply; If you do some barbell rows before you do some bench presses, your chest muscles (agonist) will be less inhibited by your back muscles (antagonist) and will be stronger.

 

Burn Fat

Metabolic rates of individuals training in an agonist/antagonist scheme burned up to 35% more calories during AND after the workout.

 

Stay Balanced

By forcing yourself to work opposing muscle groups, you will inevitably work muscle groups that you normally would not. If you want to really hit your chest from all angles, you will have to hit your back from the same angles, forcing you to target muscles outside of the standard routine.

 

Save Time

With the agonist/antagonist method of training you will be saving time in the gym. Usually you would work one muscle group, then go right into the next without rest between exercises, otherwise known as a superset. Because you’re targeting different muscle groups, you won’t fatigue as quickly. You would only take a short rest between supersets, as each muscle group is resting while you’re working the other. If this is too intense, you can do what is called alternating sets. This method has been shown to be at least, and sometimes more, beneficial. In an alternating set, you would do biceps curls, then take a short rest before moving on to a triceps exercise.

 

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