Taking The Long View On Dieting

Cheat on your diet all week and maybe you'll put on an extra pound or two. What's the big deal? You can sweat it off in the gym. Hold on, though. University of Florida scientists think there might be a bigger issue at work here. They fed a population of lab rats a 'normal' diet and watched as iron and other redox-active metals accumulated in muscle tissue, which sparked free radical activity that reduced levels of muscle cell supporting mitochondria. Researchers theorized that loss of mitochondria leads to muscle wasting in the elderly.

For the benefit of comparison, consider the other population of lab rats that was fed a calorie-restricted diet containing only 60% of the food the fat rats were given. Over the same time period, scientists noted that the dieting rats seemed to maintain muscular iron and mitochondria levels.

The Bigger Picture: While restricting all types of calories isn't recommended, restricting empty calories offers many potential benefits. Avoid fried, 'fast' and processed foods, focusing on fresh, whole food choices. By eating clean, you'll get enough protein to not only maintain but build lean mass, provided you work out. You'll also take in the carbohydrates needed to replenish glycogen burned for fuel during exercise. All while reducing your intake of saturated and trans fats. That's the secret to long-term quality of life.
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