Will Seeing Red Help You Lose Weight?

Red Plate istock

On the brink of swimsuit season, weight loss is on everyone’s mind. The latest craze in fad diets is likely to have the pounds inching back on just past spring break. However, a new study may have discovered that one simple behavior – changing the color of your dinnerware – could stop you from overeating.

With rates of obesity reaching all-time highs around the globe, scientists are eagerly seeking solutions to the excess consumption of food. One study found that the contrast of food on a colored plate changed the amount of food a diner heaped onto his or her plate. For example, when consuming spaghetti with marinara sauce, diners served themselves less when the plates were red – the same color as the sauce. The same was true with white sauce on white plates. By contrast, however, when the sauce and the plate were different colors, the diners served themselves larger helpings.

This study led researchers to question the impact of plate color on food consumption. Would diners eat less if there was less of a contrast between the plate and the food or do certain colors trigger a reduction in consumption?

A recent study published in the journal, Appetite, found that seeing the color red, as in a red plate, reduced over consumption. The study compared consumption of not only food, but also products when sampled from red plates versus other colors.

The study, conducted in Italy, observed usage patterns and enjoyment of a food or product served on different colored plates. Differences were measured based on color intensity of the plate and the contrast between plate color and food or product.

The findings unveiled surprising results: All items served on a red plate were consumed substantially less than items served on the blue or white plates. Even when the data was analyzed for preference for a certain food, those who claimed a profound enjoyment of a specific food item still consumed less from a red plate than those eating off the alternate colors and did not have a specified affinity for the food item. Use of hand cream followed a similar pattern.

While the results seem to conclude that red may top the list of this season’s “it” color for dinnerware, there are limitations to the study’s findings. During the study, participants were unaware that researchers were observing the effects of plate color on consumption or use. It remains unclear how effective the use of red plates is with the knowledge or expectation that red plates will curb the appetite.

Psychologists know that color can influence emotions and induce certain reactions and behaviors. For example, red is often associated with “stop” and “danger,” however it can also be the color of romance – red roses, red lipstick and a red dress. Context plays a substantial role in the reaction to color.

The effect of the red plate, for now, is limited to spontaneous exposure. This may be helpful to marketers, restaurants and those treating individuals suffering from eating disorders, but its usefulness as weight loss aid remains to be seen.

This post originally appeared over at Fox News, where I’m a regular contributor.

The Top 10 Ways to Restore Your Libido

1) Eat First Thing

Skipping breakfast isn’t sexy. Be sure to eat within an hour of waking, and make it protein (best consumed in a protein shake). This will help sustain your blood sugar and get your energy back, rather than try to compensate for it on the back end of your day (p.s., this never works).

2) Do Your Exercise in Bursts

If you’re chasing your libido for endless miles on a treadmill, well, you’re running to stand still in more ways than one. Cut out the long-form cardio (which can actually trigger cortisol release, lowering much-needed progesterone and testosterone which calm your nerves and stoke your desire. Focus on bursts of exercise: Doing one minute really hard, two minutes easy, and repeating five times. This is a great way to boost testosterone.

3) Come to Your Senses

No, really. Tune in to all five. Get out of the gerbil wheel of to-dos and pay attention to what’s around you, what you hear, what the air smells like, what your salad really tastes like, how your sweater feels against your skin. Sex is undeniably a physical act, so unless you can tune in to the physical, it’ll be hard to feel sexy. Think about which sensory stimuli turns you on the most–how your partner smells, looks, and let that feed your own sensual fantasies, images, ideas. And allow it to stoke your sexual flame.

4) Be Here Now

A wandering mind is not your friend when it comes to sex. At the end of your workday or after dinner, write down all the things floating around your head competing for your attention, such as things you have to do, people to call, and so on. Clear it out of your brain for now. Then when you’re with your partner in an intimate setting (regardless of whether you’re going to have sex or not), practice tuning in to your partner and being mindful of him or her.

Give that person your full attention; let yourself be absorbed by their presence. You’re building a connection with that person, which is vital to feeling sexually connected.

5.) Sleep

Nothing in the world can replace sleep, and you need it to do anything—work, drive, read, think, talk, and yes, have sex. Being tired is one of the biggest reasons couples decline to get down and dirty.  Lack of sleep is another physical stress that triggers cortisol, stress hormone release which reduces happy hormones like progesterone and testosterone—so be sure to get your 7 to 8 hours a night.
This post originally appeared over at Entheos.  Watch me share more about getting your sexy back here.

Estrogen shown to have anti-aging effects on the brain

At Tulane University, scientists have been hard at work uncovering evidence that estrogen therapy will do more than cure hot flashes. Lead research and neuroscientist, Jill Daniel, has been testing the cognitive function of rats – those with a source of estrogen and those without – to determine what impact the hormone has on cognitive thinking.

So far, the results are astounding. In a study meant to emulate the experiences of postmenopausal women, rats that received estrogen at middle age or later performed better on memory tests than rats that never received estrogen.

For their research, rats without ovaries were given estrogen pellets and observed.  Rats with estrogen remembered the location of the food for several hours, while rats without estrogen only remembered for approximately 30 minutes. Imaging of the hippocampus –the area of the brain that involves memory and spatial awareness – also showed that those on the hormone replacement therapy had a greater number of neurotransmitters and estrogen receptors.

The hippocampus is often the first place function declines in the development of age-related degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe administering estrogen to women during that critical stage, just after menopause at middle age, and then discontinuing therapy, will protect the brain well into older age.

Thus far, research has shown that taking the rats off estrogen for several months, which is equivalent to decades in a human, still preserves their cognitive ability.  The rats that once received estrogen outperform those that never received estrogen. Tulane researchers have been given a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Aging to continue these studies.

Other recent studies, such as one published in the July 2013 issue of Molecular Psychiatry, have found that estrogen may also play a role in helping women effectively manage stress – again, results uncovered in observing estrogen’s effects on the brain. This comparison was made between male and female rates, determining that in repeated episodes of stress, females respond better than males due to the protective effects of estrogen on the brain.

More and more studies are emerging to unwind the damage done by the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, which created fear of hormone therapy among patients and physicians. This summer, the American Journal of Public Health published a study finding that estrogen therapy could have actually saved the lives of more than 50,000 women. Researchers actually reviewed data from the WHI study and found that subjects taking estrogen-only therapy reduced their risk of invasive breast cancer by 20 percent, and the death rate was higher among women who took a placebo.

The benefits of estrogen outweigh the risks, and these benefits are not just about improving quality of life; your long term health benefits too. The choice for hormone therapy should be an informed decision. Consult your physician, as well as experts specializing in hormone therapy, to ensure you have all the facts and fully understand the benefits and risks of treatment.

This article originally appeared over at Fox News.  To go to the original article click here.

Testosterone Therapy Does Not Cause Heart Attacks

The media was again splattered with bad news about testosterone therapy this week. On Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, Finkle and colleagues published a study in the journalPlos One that exhibited an increased risk of heart attacks in testosterone users in the first 90 days of therapy, and the risk was higher in men who had had a history of cardiovascular disease. There are many problems with the data in this study and others like it that have lead to attention-grabbing headlines about how treatment of low testosterone levels may put men at undue risk. Similar to a November 2013 JAMAstudy of testosterone risks that I reviewed in a prior post, this current study has multiple flaws that make its conclusions essentially meaningless. Neither study assessed testosterone levels of patients before and during therapy. There are other critical blood tests that should be done that were not being done during the treatment of the VA men or in the current study, including blood counts and estrogen levels. Higher red blood cell counts and higher estrogen levels are known issues that may occur in men given testosterone therapy. Without assessment of testosterone levels, red blood cell counts and estrogen levels prior to and during therapy, it is impossible to tell if a patient is a proper candidate for therapy and if they are tolerating the therapy well.

These newer studies have prompted some to ask for warnings on testosterone therapy and to educate their patients on possible increased risks of heart disease. Doctors are the ones who need more education here. Physicians should be educated on the possible issues they may encounter with patients on testosterone therapy, including higher levels of red blood cells and elevated levels of estrogen. Physicians should monitor their patients’ blood cell counts and estrogen levels on testosterone therapy to assess for these risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If a patient has a high red blood cell count, the dose of the testosterone can be decreased or the patient can be sent for blood donation to reduce the high red blood cell count and thus any increased risks of clots or heart attacks. Additionally, high estrogen levels may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. There are medications that can be prescribed to control high estrogen levels and keep estrogen in the proper, low risk range. These precautions need to be used when prescribing testosterone therapy and studies need to be done reflecting results of testosterone use when these precautions are followed.

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.  To read the full post, click here.