Monday, March 30, 2009

Five of ten weight loss tips

To change habits, improve diet or lose weight consider the following.
1. Fifty-four percent of American adults aim to finish everything on their plates. This behavior can lead to weight gain.
2. Most of us underestimate how much we eat.
3. People eat more food off of large plates than they do off of small ones, but feel equally full.
4. The more beautiful that a food looks and the better it smells, the more delicious you think it is the more you are willing to pay for it.
5. Even if they eat the same amount of calories, people feel less guilty about over-eating “healthy” foods (like granola) than “unhealthy” foods (like chocolate).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Raising your metabolism

The resting metabolism or the amount of calories burned by the body which keeps our heart beating and lungs breathing can be trained to burn more calories. A good way to estimate the resting metabolism is to estimate 10 calories for every pound of body weight for women and 11 for men. A 120-pound woman has a resting metabolic rate of approximately 1,200 calories per day. Liz Applegate, Ph.D., FACSM, director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis, believes this can be raised with lifestyle changes, the right nutrition and exercise modifications She believes certain key factors affect the exact metabolic rate for individuals. and these factors if stimulated increase the calories burned and therefore more weight loss. The key is to replace fat cells with muscle. Strength training creates lean muscle mass. Age, hormones influence metabolism and you can change it. The hype about supplements that claim to increase thyroid activity are unproven to help. But you can focus efforts on other factors that impact metabolic rate. Although cutting an extreme amount of calories from your daily diet seems like a way to quickly lose weight it actually slows metabolism. We tell our bodies to conserve when we detoxify or fast. Women should not eat less than 1,200 calories per day, and men should eat no less than 1,800. Slow and small deficits lead to healthy, long-term weight loss. Yet, you can manipulate your metabolism by balancing your diet. Proteins take more calories to digest. Applegate recommends eating 18 to 20 percent of the day's total calories in lean proteins. She also recommends more fiber, which keep you feeling full and may slightly block caloric absorption. No single factor will make a big change in your resting metabolic rate, but practicing several can. "Doing just one of these things might only lead to 60 or so more calories burned per day," she said. "But when you start factoring in several of these modifications, they can really add up and make a difference."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More about red meat

A new and large federal study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that eating large amounts of red and processed meats increases the risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Researchers surveyed more than 545,000 people, ages 50 to 71 years old, on their eating habits, then followed them for 10 years.

This study bolsters other evidence of increased health risks from diets high in red meat including hamburger and processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts.

Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease.

Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less. High intakes were compared to low intakes of just 5 ounces per week.

The increased risks for eating large quantities of processed meats were slightly lower overall than for red meat.
People whose diets contained more white meat like chicken and fish had lower risks of death.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Protein packaging

Animal protein and vegetable protein probably effect our health in the same way. But before each bite consider how it is packaged. A piece of salmon has 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat of which only 4 are saturated and about 1500 mg of omega 3's. A porterhouse steak has 36 grams of protein and 44 grams of fat and 16 grams are saturated. Cooked lentils have 18 grams of protein, less than one gram of fat, and alot of fiber.

How much protein do you need each day?
About 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.

White meat, and fish are healtiest animal proteins. Red meat-not so much. Eat it in moderation, as a treat. Studies show people who eat the most red meat and processed meats have the highest risk of premature death from cancer and heart disease.

Beans and legumes and even nuts add excellent proteins and are complete proteins when eaten with grains.

So when you choose your proteins consider the packaging. Is it packaged with saturated fats or fibers, omega 3's or saturated fats?
Choose well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The healthiest proteins

The healthies protein rich foods are low in fat. Vegetable sources of protein include beans, nuts, and whole grains. All are excellent choices, because they supply fibers, vitamins and minerals along with the proteins. The best low fat animal proteins finclude fish and poultry. If you like red meat, choose lean cuts, smaller portions and eat it once in a while. Build your meals around veggies rather than meats. One never goes wrong eating more vegetables and fruits. Use color and variety, dark green, yellow, orange, and red, as a quide.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How much added sugar should we eat?

The recommendation for added sugar, not naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices is below 10% of calories. So if you eat 1600 calories a day, 160 calories from sugar equals about 40 grams a day.
We, in the United States lead the world in obesity and the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise only that sugar should be used in moderation. The Institute of Medicine, part of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recommended in September that sugar could make up to 25% of calories.
But the newest study recommends 10%. The report was commissioned by two U.N. agencies, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, and compiled by a panel of 30 international experts. The food industry was quick to respond decrying the document, insisting more exercise is the key to ending obesity.
Yet sugar, despite its sweet taste offers no nutritional value except calories and Americans get plenty of these. Cutting sugar is an easy way to cut calories. So, try counting your sugar grams to determine how much you eat. It will be, if nothing else, very informative.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The good and bad about fats

Good fats, bad fats, good cholesterol and bad cholesterol-What's the deal? Let me try to explain.

First, fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient with 9 kcal per gram vs. 4 kcal per gram for protein and carbohydrates. The recommendation for intake is 30% of calories per day. If you eat 1600 calories then that is about 53 grams of fat. Fat provides satiety to meals and also a nice flavor so to lose weight you must limit calories in total. We thought a low fat diet would decrease the risk of heart disease but we now know it is not the amount of fat but the type of fat that encourages good health. There are good fats and bad fats. Good fats are polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Omega 3's are also very necessary for good health. Bad fats include saturated fats and trans fats.
Why are they good and bad? Since fat is not water soluble, fat and cholesterol travel through the bloodstream in protein packages called lipoproteins. Cells latch onto these lipoproteins to extract the nutrients when needed. When our blood supplies are too full of these lipoproteins, mostly because we eat more than we need, they form deposits on our cell walls. This can cause a blockage which stops the blood and nutrients from reaching the heart.
There are three types of lipoproteins, LDLs, HDLs and triglycerides. The LDL is the garbage and the HDL is the garbage truck which carries the LDL out of the system. Triglycerides increase immediately when we eat and carry most of our fats.
To increase the HDL and decrease the LDL we can change our diet to include fats that raise the HDL and lower the LDL. Monounsaturated fats, olive oil, canola oil and avocados, decrease the LDL and increase the HDL. Polyunsaturated Omega 3's do the same. Trans fats and saturated fats are the problem. Trans fats are man made fats. Oils fused with hydrogen to make them solid. These increase the LDL and decreased the HDL. Saturated fats do the same but are naturally found in red meats, butter, ice cream and other full fat dairy. So read your labels and decrease the trans and sats and increase the monos and polys. Eat fish and walnut oil, nuts and flax seeds. Decrease fried foods from fast food restaurants, butter and fatty meats. To decrease triglycerides cut down on high fructose corn syrup and total calories and take fish oils. Sound easy? Sometimes not, but we keep working at it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More reasons to take fish oils

Here is another reason to take fish oils supplements. According to a recent study published online in The FASEB Journal (, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids protect the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it provokes. This study shows that omega-3 fatty acids may successfully decrease liver complications, such as hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance, in obese people. Researchers studied four groups of mice with altered genes making some obese and diabetic. One group was given an omega-3-enriched diet and the second group was put on a control diet. The third group took docosahexaenoic acid, and the fourth were given only the lipid resolvin. After five weeks, liver samples and blood serum were examined. The mice that were given the omega-3-rich diet showed less liver inflammation and improved insulin tolerance. This may be due to the formation of protectins and resolvins from omega-3 fatty acids.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Hidden and Wondrous Value of Keeping a Food Record

Keeping a Food Record

Want to lose weight? Write down what you eat.
Why does this tedious and slogging activity work?
A few simple reasons.
1. We all underestimate what we eat. It is human nature.
2. We are presented with so many food cues during each day that without control we overeat. It too is human nature.
3. We live up to our ideals. If we set a goal and track it we are many times more likely to meet the goal.
4. Food records provide accountability and allow us to assess personal issues.
5. Using food records helps us determine triggers and determine where we eat.
6. It is hard, but it also gets easier.
7. Remember, self monitoring encourages us to compare our actual behaviors to ideal behaviors and we are motivated to live up to our ideals. The act of recording cues us to manage our behavior.

Basic rules
1. Write down EVERYTHING! Keep your form with you all day long and write down everything you eat and drink. A piece of candy, a handful of pretzels, a bottle of soda or a small donut may not seem like much, but these calories can add up!
2. Do it now. Don’t depend on your memory at the end of the day. Record your eating as you go.
3. Be specific. Make sure you include ‘extras,’ such as gravy on your meat, cheese on your sandwich or vegetables, butter, and salad dressings.
4. Measure or estimate amounts. If you have a bowl of cereal, measure out or estimate the actual amount (rather than writing ‘bowl’ of cereal)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Foods to help you sleep

The National Sleep Foundation recently released its annual poll estimating that Americans get an average of about 6.7 hours of sleep each day. The poll shows that over the last decade the number of hours Americans sleep gradually decreased and the number of people who get eight or more hours is dwindling.
How can we sleep more and better? Can food help?

A light snack before bed may improve your chances for a restful sleep. The snack should be made of mostly carbohydrate with a small amount of protein. This high-carbohydrate, low-protein combination may increase the availability of tryptophan . Tryptophan, an amino acid converted in our bodies to melatonin and serotonin, may help induce sleep. Avoid too much protein before bedtime though. Protein-rich foods contain another amino acid called tyrosine. This amino acid that stimulates brain activity.

Bedtime snacks that increase tryptophan
Dairy foods, oats, bananas, poultry and peanuts are good sources of tryptophan,
A small bowl of oatmeal or cereal with low-fat milk
Yogurt with granola sprinkled on top
Half bagel or crackers with peanut butter, 1 ounce of cheese or a slice of deli turkey on top
Sliced apple with 1 ounce of cheese

Chamomile tea with warm milk is one of my favorites bedtime treats and one I recommend to anyone needing to rest.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ask the nutritionist?

Ask the

Q: Remember the headline about obesity being contagious? What does that mean exactly?

A: Eating and activities are social. We do what our friends do and eat what our friends eat, so if we focus on doing it well-wellness and weight loss result.
The study, the first to ever look at obesity as "socially contagious,"was coauthoured byNicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and James Fowler of UC San Diego and published in the July 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study showed that obesity spreads from person to person in a social network. If one person becomes obese, those close to them have a greater chance of becoming obese as well. Surprisingly, the greatest effect was among friends.
Accordingly, if your friend becomes obese, the researchers found, your own chances of becoming obese go up 57 percent. Among mutual friends, the effect is even stronger, with chances increasing 171 percent.
But of course, this can go the other way. As you lose weight and become more active so will your friends. Fitness and wellness are socially contagious too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Solving Obesity in America

Obesity costs about $117 billion in health care and related costs to families, health care centers and the government each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over thirty years, rates of obesity have doubled in adults and tripled in children, and about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese.

And though Americans are in trouble, a large European study supports the claim that obesity is dangerous for everyone. The study, spanning decades recently published in this week's British Medical Journal, found that young men who were overweight at age 18 were as likely to die by 60 as light smokers, and obese teens, like heavy smokers, were at double the risk of dying early.

Clearly bold action to stem the obesity epidemic is necessary. In America, our overweight children may be the first generation to have shorter life spans than their parents. On January 9, 2009 the nation's most prominent health and medical leaders sent this message to then President-elect Barack Obama.

"The obesity epidemic is harming Americans' health just as global warming is harming the planet," these experts wrote in a letter to the next President. This requires a coordinated effort of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation and other government officials.

This week President Obama has organized a health summit to discuss this and the other serious issues of our time. Will we have universal coverage? In a recent poll 49% of Americans said they would pay higher taxes for universal care. (I quess it had to get this bad before people would pay up.) In this weeks health summit Obama announced two appointments. Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius has been nominated as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is a start and now we need to focus on services for all and prevention. The numerous possible approaches to reversing the obesity epidemic are well known. The executive director of CSPI, Michael F. Jacobson, explains, "What has been missing, particularly by officials in the Bush Administration, is the commitment to actually tackle the problem." Perhaps this is at hand.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A word about high-fructose corn syrup...

A sugar calorie is a calorie no matter the type and Americans consume about 300 additional calories a day from the sweet substance. Yet, are some sugar calories more harmful? There has been much controversy over the safety of high-fructose corn syrup and much of it has been supported by research. As the amount of fructose consumed in the American diet increases, some researchers see problems.
High fructose corn syrup is not radically different than regular sugar or sucrose which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. High fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. The fructose from corn is mixed with corn syrup which is essentially pure glucose. The difference though may be significant. In sucrose the two molecules are linked while in high fructose corn syrup the two molecules are severed. Debates persist as to whether this is significant.
Fructose is metabolized in the liver which is where fats are metabolized. Elizabeth Parks et al., from University of Minnesota found that as people consumed more high fructose corn syrup triglyceride levels rose significantly.
Another researcher, Dr Chi-tang Ho, a professor of Food Science at Rutgers, found very high levels of a substance called reactive carbonyls in sugary carbonated drinks. These carbonyls, which can cause tissue damage, are formed when the bonds between fructose and glucose sever.

The unresolved concerns warrant more research indeed, but in the meantime if you can't kick the soda habit try seltzer with a bit of juice, a squeeze of lemon and a lot of ice cubes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Want to fatten up? Eat sugar.

No one I know wants to fatten up and if someone needed too I would not recommend sugary foods as the solution. They provide "empty" calories. Neither ordinary sugar (sucrose) nor high-fructose corn syrup contains any nutrients other than calories. So we eat sweets and then look around for more of them or other foods to really satisfy our appetites.

Today's recommendation for sugar is about eight teaspoons of sugars a day. A 12-ounce can of regular soda or a 20-ounce bottle of VitaminWater will provide this. The food industry adds sugar to many foods preferring high-fructose corn syrup to sucrose because it is a more reliable and cheaper product than sugar. It is more stable in acids like sodas and fruit drinks and it prolongs the shelf life of processed foods. According to Michael Jacobson, director of the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public, "If the food industry got rid of all the high-fructose corn syrup and replaced it with sugar, we'd have the same problems we have now with obesity, diabetes and heart disease." He says, "It's an urban myth that high-fructose corn syrup has a special toxicity."
What we need to do is cut down on both, since the average intake is around 20 teaspoons, quite a bit over the recommendation. The extra calories lead to extra pounds and this is definitely part of our problem. And as we all know, Americans do not need to fattened up. We have done that already.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Diet Study and Keeping It OFF

So, in the end, after studying the largest group of dieters ever from Boston to Baton Rouge, the diet itself is of no consequence. Cut calories, no matter what type protein, carbs, fat or alcohol, and lose weight. I thought so. And as we continue to research nutrition and weight loss we unravel things that make good sense, things perhaps our grandmothers knew or ideas presented in grammar school. I still vividly recall the tenets of the 4 food groups and the call in the 60's and 70's for a balanced diet and variety. I feel gratified to see the headline in the NYT's, statistics and all. See Parker-Popes piece in Health.
Remember the headline about obesity being contagious? In fact we do what our friends do and eat what our friends eat ,so if we focus on doing it well-wellness and weight loss result.
Checking in with someone who supports our weight loss effort helps too.
Weight counseling wins the prize for best support for sustainable weight loss. Imagine that?