Can breakfast pastries be healthy?

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes....

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Mission: Possible

  • Arnold Takes His Own Challenge

  • The Case For Breakfast Pastries

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Mission: Possible

Sometimes, taking on a big task can feel almost impossible. But what if you could trick your mind into making it feel more manageable — even if the obstacle in front of you remained the same?

Researchers found that challenging tasks feel more doable when you have the support of your friends.

The study was both simple and powerful. Participants had to climb a steep hill and rate the perceived difficulty of the task. When they did it alone, they perceived it to be more difficult. When they did it with a friend, they perceived it as not as steep. Then, the researchers followed up and had people imagine a steep climb and then picture trying to summit the mountain when accompanied by a friend compared to climbing with someone they didn’t know or disliked. Like the original experiment, even imagining the task with a friend made them perceive the hill less difficult.

We tend to think that the challenges we face are shaped by the physical characteristics and the work involved. In reality, our perception is heavily influenced by our social environment. If you surround yourself with people you enjoy, believe in you, and are positive, then daunting challenges feel more possible, increasing your likelihood of success.

It’s a big reason why we’re building the positive corner of the internet with these daily emails and our Pump app. You might think you can go fast alone, but you can go farther together.

Arnold Takes His Own Challenge

From Arnold: I challenged all of you last week to reconnect with an old friend. I want you to know that I practice what I preach.

I saw a headline about a week ago about a 94-year-old guy who is still training in the gym every day. I clicked it because I figured it’s the type of story I would share with all of you. You have to realize that in the old days, doctors said weight training would lead to early death, so I love every time we share studies about how weight training helps you live longer or better. But here was a real example.

I watched the news clip, heard the name “Vic Downs”, and thought, “This couldn’t be.” I competed with Vic almost 60 years ago! At my first Mr. Universe in 1966, Chet Yorton placed first, I got second, and Vic got third. He didn’t just have the best abs; he was a sweet man because he was patient with me even though my English was miserable. We trained together, but like a lot of people, we eventually lost touch. I don’t think I’d talked to Vic in 50 years. Then last week, after I told you all about the power of connection, I saw this news story. You know what I had to do.

It’s not easy to get in touch with someone as important as Vic, so Daniel reached out to the reporter who did the story, and I asked them to set up a Zoom for us. I told Vic I wanted to record it so that all of you could be inspired by him like I am. You can watch our conversation here.

Whether this inspires you to reach out to someone in your past or keep training so you can be like Vic, I hope it inspires you.

The Case For Breakfast Pastries

Could a donut be part of a healthy diet?

Researchers found that when dieters enjoyed a breakfast with a daily dessert, they lost approximately 35 more pounds than those who didn’t eat dessert.

It’s the type of study that makes you question science, but the details make it very clear what happened and why the dessert-based diet worked.

The scientists compared a diet built around a high-protein, high-carb breakfast (that included desserts such as chocolate, cookies, cake, ice cream, chocolate mousse, or donuts) and a low-calorie, low-carb breakfast. Both groups were supposed to eat a total of 1,600 calories per day (for men) or 1,400 calories (for women). The dessert group had a big breakfast, moderate size lunch, and small dinner, whereas the low-carb group had a small breakfast, moderate lunch, and big dinner.

The study was split into two 16-week periods. During the first 16 weeks, the dieters were monitored, had support from a dietician, and had to weigh in every four weeks. During that time, weight loss was almost identical. The low-carb group lost a little more weight (about 3 pounds), but both groups succeeded in a big way (33 pounds for low-carb diets and 30 pounds for high-carb/desserts).

During the next 16 weeks, the dieters were left to incorporate what they learned, had no weigh-ins, were self-supervised in terms of caloric restriction, and were told to eat based on their hunger or cravings.

During that second 16-week period, the low-carb group gained back an average of 25 pounds, whereas the high-carb/dessert group lost another 15 pounds.

The researchers felt the dessert helped reduce cravings and build more sustainable habits. From week 8 on, the dessert group was much better with compliance and had higher ratings for satisfaction and lower ratings for cravings and hunger.

The most common strategy when trying to lose weight is to cut out almost everything you love. And studies suggest this only increase the desire for carbs and treats. Paradoxically, when you allow yourself these foods, you crave them less because you know they’re not off-limits. And, as you lose weight, you might find that the treats you once ate no longer serve you.

If you’re trying to drop pounds, remember you don’t need to restrict yourself completely. In fact, in the long term, it could work against you. Instead, build in foods you love as part of the plan, and you might be surprised how much you achieve without sacrificing everything you love.