The Best Remedy for Holiday Bloat: Natural Detox

The Thanksgiving feast, holiday parties, carry-in lunches at work and the special homemade ‘treats’ that make their way into your life at this time of year may tempt you to look for a way to undo all of the damage overeating and drinking is doing to your system.

After an extended period of eating sugary, high-fat foods loaded with empty calories, and drinking too many special holiday drinks (whether it be a couple of shots of Tequila at the after-party or a 460 calorie Eggnog Latte from Starbucks) your liver could use a break.

Detox Diet

Do You Need A 48-Hour (or 7 Day) Detox or Cleanse?

The desire to get rid of that stuffed, sluggish feeling that comes after a few days of overdoing the food and drinks sends a lot of people to the drug store for a commercial liver detox or cleansing product. But, research shows that the liver doesn’t need you to spend your cash on a product that promises to flush your system of all of the toxins you’ve consumed.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “If you are in good health and not overloading your system with toxic substances (such as alcohol), the liver will cleanse itself very well.” Dr. Weil also reminds us that liver toxicity does not cause cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, auto-immune conditions, or aging.

The best thing you can do for your overall health is to get back to a plan of eating and drinking foods and beverages that promote liver, colon, kidney and heart health. Drinking six to eight glasses of water daily, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding tobacco smoke and limiting alcohol can get your system back in top-notch condition.

The Good and The Bad

A commercial cleansing product might not be as beneficial to your healing as promoters of the products would have you believe. But, there are some foods that are particularly bad and good for the liver. If you work to avoid those on the bad list, and consume plenty of those on the good, you’ll begin to feel better quicker.

Six substances to avoid (besides the obvious tobacco and alcohol) are sugar, artificial sweeteners, fried foods, monosodium glutamate, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and fuel exhaust.

Foods that support liver health are beets, broccoli, sweet potatoes, lemons, lentils, minimal amounts of healthy fats (found in avocados, nuts, and chia seeds), apples, onions, and leafy greens. In general, whole foods that are low in calories, sugar and salt, but high in nutrients and vitamins are what you need to get and stay healthy this year.

Natural Detox

Components of a Natural Liver Detox

In particular, large amounts of leafy green vegetables, six to eight glasses of water with slices of lemon, cucumber or other fruits, green tea, and moderate amounts of daily exercise are all you need to naturally ‘detox’ your system.

A while back I posted a recipe for a delicious and super healthy kale and pomegranate salad  that provides a ton of nutrients, and fiber and would be something to add to your natural detox plan.

Your Liver On Sugar

One of the best things you can do for your liver is limit the amount of added sugar that you consume each day. Too much sugar, and more specifically fructose, turns into fat in the liver. Over time, this buildup of sugar leads to a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and damages the liver in the same way that too much alcohol does.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than nine teaspoons a day for men and six a day for women.

For more reasons why you should say no to sugar, click here.

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Senate Tells Dr. Oz to Stop Pushing Bogus Weight Loss Miracles

The Federal Trade Commission has an issue with the way Dr. Mermet Oz promotes quick fix dietary supplements on his show and they’ve told him he needs to stop.


Dr. Oz is famous for baseless claims that tell people weight loss products like green coffee bean extract and carcinia gambogia is a fast, easy way to lose weight. On his television show and web site, Dr. Oz. promises that people will see dramatic results from using these products. He promises they will melt fat and double – maybe even triple – their weight loss. To date there is no proof that these products have any impact on weight loss.

Recently Dr. Oz was brought in front of the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Committee to answer questions about his endorsement of these products.

Committee Chairwoman Senator Claire McCaskill asked Dr. Oz why he promotes these products as weight loss ‘miracles’ even though there is no evidence to support these statements. Dr. Oz, in his own defense, said that the feels it is his role to be a cheerleader for the audience when they think they don’t have hope.

Dr. Oz 2

Dr. Oz defends his promotion of weight loss miracles in front of the Senate sub-committee.

“I have things I think work for people. I want them to try them so that they feel better, so that they can do the things we talk about every day on the show [like diet and exercise],” Oz said.

“When I can’t us language that is flowery, that is exulting, I feel like I’ve been disenfranchised,” he added.

Weight Loss Gimmicks Do More Harm Than Good

But Paul Fidalgo, a spokesperson for the Center for Inquiry wasn’t buying it. He told the doctor that “too often celebrity gurus lure consumers into wasting their money and pinning their hopes on pseudoscientific concoctions that are at best useless, and at worst dangerous.”

Fidalgo is right. Dr. Oz appears to want what’s best for his audience but he’s doing them a huge disservice by gaining their trust and then convincing them to spend money on gimmicks that don’t work. He’s been running this scam for years and it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to give it up just yet.

McCaskill told Dr. Oz that they had not called him to the hearing so they could “beat up on [him]” but rather to ask him to be part of the solution. Dr. Oz responded that he has toned down his language but doesn’t plan to stop promoting the weight loss products to the public. “I do personally believe in the items that I talk about,” he said.

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True . . . .

The Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center when it comes to weight loss claims there are seven statements that tip you off that if it sounds too good to be true it is:

– Causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.
– Causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats.
– Causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product.
– Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.
– Safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.
– Causes substantial weight loss for all users.
– Causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

I would add three more to this list. Any product or program that will ‘torch calories’, ‘melt fat’, or ‘guarantee dramatic weight loss’ is a gimmick. These key words equal scam.

It’s impossible to second guess what Dr. Oz’s intentions are.  He may have his audience at heart. He may get a kick-back from the products that sell as a result of his show and web site.  He might just want to be a cheerleader for people that are struggling to lose weight.

But it’s good that the Senate committee and FTC have reined him in so that people who are wondering if they should buy a Dr. Oz’s miracle now know the answer to that question is a definite No!

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Are Processed Foods Bad For You (or is this just another diet fad)?

We’ve been through the low-fat-high-carb and the low-carb-high-protein phase.  We’ve read about Paleo, intermittent fasting and green coffee beans. Now ‘experts’ are telling us to forget everything we’ve learned so far.  What we need to do is remove the processed foods from our diet and eat ‘real’ food.

That sounds pretty simple but what exactly does that mean? And, more importantly, is this just one more fad that we’ll find doesn’t work either?

This is where it all began.

This is where it all began.    Flickr photo by (Bayswater 97)

Is Swanson To Thank (or blame)?

When the Swanson TV dinner made its debut in 1954 the convenience food blitz began.  The Swanson TV dinner was a novelty and  moms that needed a break from the kitchen were crazy about them. Mom would heat up the frozen meals (on occasion) as a treat to dad and the kids for dinner.  More than 10 million TV dinners were sold during their first year in production.

The spin-offs that came from the original Swanson turkey and dressing dinner with corn that was packaged in a tin foil tray are beyond imagination. Today supermarkets are lined with heat-and-eat dinners and other easy-to-prepare packaged foods that provide meals for millions of Americans three times a day (plus snacks) every day.

Each time you buy one of these easy to prepare food you’re getting more than you realize.  Along with your Swanson turkey and dressing and Kraft mac and cheese you’re getting preservatives to keep the food from rotting, colorants that increase eye appeal, flavor enhancers for taste, and texturants that make the foods more palatable.

Processed foods also contain varying amounts of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and vegetable oils. Processed foods are typically low in fiber and nutrients and are easy to digest so we want to eat again sooner than we would if we ate a whole food.

To top that off, researchers are now convinced that these foods that we’ve all become so accustomed to are addictive.  People that eat them develop cravings that keep them coming back for more. The more you eat the more you want and the harder it is to stop.

Processed Foods and Chronic Disease

There’s some pretty compelling evidence that shows the impact that the deluge of processed foods has had on our health since families sat down to the Swanson TV dinner 40 years ago. Over the last four decades there has been a sharp increase in the consumption of processed foods.  Processed foods now make up 70% of the Americans diet.

The rise in overweight, obesity and chronic disease runs parallel to that trend.  Diseases that were at one time associated with aging – diabetes, fatty liver, cardiovascular disease and cancer– are now being diagnosed in children as young as three and four years old.

Scientists have also linked processed foods to autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, alopecia, asthma and eczema.  And a 2012 study suggests that the epidemic of autism in U.S. children may be associated with the American diet.

Not All Processed Foods Are Bad

Most foods that you purchase have been through some processing. Whether it’s a bag of fresh-cut spinach or a container of frozen blueberries, something has had to take place to get the food from the farmer to the grocer.

Frozen and fresh packaged fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are minimally processed foods that have been prepped for packaging. There’s no reason to avoid buying and eating these foods unless you have access to fresh foods all of the time.

Foods with ingredients added for flavor, texture, and preservation are more heavily processed. These foods may not need to be completely avoided, but a quick look at the label will tell you if they contain ingredients that are risky to consume. A long label with a list of ingredients that you don’t recognize and can’t pronounce is a red flag. So are foods that have added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and trans fats.

The most heavily processed foods are the most convenient.  Ready-to-eat foods like frozen pizzas, microwave meals, and foods that can be prepared by adding boiling water all indicate that they have been through a radical procedure and are the farthest away from resembling a real food. A dependence on these foods increases your risk for obesity and chronic disease.

Take Care Of Yourself First

The idea that eating ‘real’ food is the solution for weight management and overall better health is here to stay.

The correlation between processed foods and poor health has been proven. What you can do is look at what foods you’re eating and feeding to your family and decide if that’s the healthiest choice you can make.  It’s up to each of us to stop buying the crap that the food industry is trying to sell us.  That alone will inspire them to change.

If you want to learn more about the food industry and the products that are on the shelves of groceries everywhere, check out the trailer of the documentary “Fed Up” that reveals how processed foods have led to one of the largest health epidemics in American history.

If we are going to change our health, we have to change the way we eat. Giving up convenience foods might not be easy but it will be worth it. To get started, head over to the 100 Days of Real Food web site and sign up for the 10 Day Challenge. If you take it 10 days at a time you’ll find it’s easier to get off the heat-and-eat-train and on the road to better health.

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The Five Diet and Exercise Myths No One Is Talking About

Whenever I click on an article that’s attempting to debunk weight loss or exercise myths I skim through it and think, “Tell me something I didn’t already know.” Many of these myths are common knowledge because they’ve been written about over and over.

For example, did you know that it’s a myth that if you’re a woman and lift weights you’ll bulk up like a man? How about that doing 100 crunches a day isn’t the secret to flat abs or that a steady state cardio workout isn’t the best way to burn the most calories?

Yes. We know.

Yet, there are plenty of untruths that circulate in the world of diet and fitness that no one seems to care much about. Many of these myths are being perpetuated – some even endorsed – by fitness and weight loss experts.

Get the body you want without giving up the foods you like is a myth.

Get the body you want without giving up the foods you like is a myth.

Here are the five myths that I wish people were talking about.

1. You Can Get The Body You Want – Usually this myth is accompanied by six or seven tips that tell you what you need to do to get your dream body. (Google it. You’ll see what I mean.) Then the secrets to getting the body you want are things like drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, and move more.  While these are good for your health, they won’t give the body you want.

LOTS of hard work in the gym and getting ridiculously strict about what you eat is what will give you that body. Now add to that the role that genetics plays in your physiological make up.  Getting the body you want might not just be unrealistic. It might be impossible. It’s unfair to tell people they can have the body they want by making a few simple changes. The picture (above) is from Pinterest.  It is on a page full of hard-core bodies with captions that say “get the body you want without giving up the foods you like”. That’s more than a myth. It’s a lie.

2. I Can Undo What I Ate With Exercise –The fitness phone apps and trackers are fueling this myth.  They let you put in and subtract calories based on what you’re eating and how much you’re burning through exercise. Unfortunately, no tracking mechanism that you wear on your belt can tell you how many calories you’ve burned during an hour of interval training, Zumba or other physical activity.

Your metabolism and the way you burn calories is as individual as your fingerprint.  Even the best tracker can only give you an estimate of how many calories you’ve burned based on your age and weight. That will get you in trouble with the scale if its guess is too high.

3.  Drinking A Lot Of Water Will Help You Lose Weight – Drinking a lot of water is good.  Water helps every organ in the body function properly. Staying hydrated keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and can prevent chronic low-level fatigue. However, to date, there is not one scientific study that shows that drinking a lot of water leads to weight loss.

If you replace the high calorie beverages you typically drink in a day (sweet tea, soda, energy drinks and fruit juices) with water, that will help you lose weight.

4. Jumpstart Your Weight Loss With A Diet Cleanse – We have Dr. Oz and Oprah to thank for perpetuating this myth. Both have promoted detoxing and cleanses as a way to kick off a weight loss program.  Most physicians and nutritionist will tell you that there is no need to spend money on detox products.

Not only do you lose a lot of precious vitamins and minerals when you undergo an extended detox, but the weight that you lose is almost all water and will come back once you start eating again. The human body is a wonderful, complex system that has its own built in detoxification system that isn’t enhanced by modern day fasting and cleansing systems.

5. The Myth that Isn’t A Myth: No Pain, No Gain – A writer for writes, “No Pain. No Gain. Whoever came up with this horrific adage deserves to be punched square in their six-pack, oiled up gut”. (The best thing about this article is the picture of the shirtless, ripped guy getting ready to do a bench press that I am absolutely certain has endured some pain in order to look that way.)  She goes on to say the idea that someone has to endure pain in order to benefit from exercise is wrong because it demotivates people.  I get that, but there is some truth to the no pain, no gain adage.

People that haven’t exercised for a long time are going to experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness [pain]) when they get started. Those of us that work out on a regular basis experience pain when we do something different, new or more difficult. Not down on our knees, excruciating, debilitating pain but there’s definitely some ouchiness that makes us aware that we’ve done something we’re not used to. It’s not a bad thing. It’s part of getting and staying in good shape like the guy in the picture is. We’re lying to people if we tell them otherwise

These are just a few of my myth pet peeves. What fitness myths bug you?

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Aloe Vera Juice: Does A Shot A Day Keep The Doctor Away?

Advertisements for aloe vera juice claim that it can do everything from cure cancer to get rid of unwanted belly fat. Here is the low down on aloe vera juice and some things you should know if you’re already, or thinking about, taking it.

Aloe Vera juice 2

Aloe Vera juice has been on the market for several years as a nutritional supplement that promoters claim will help with digestion, boost immunity, aid in weight loss and energy regulation, and increase our vitamin, mineral and amino acid supply.

Some web sites maintain that it is a miracle potion that halts the growth of cancer tumors, lowers cholesterol, eases inflammation and arthritis pain, cures ulcers, IBS and Crohn’s disease.

While aloe vera juice may not be the Holy Grail of supplements for ending every chronic disease, it may play a role in several areas that you could benefit from.

Health Benefits

1.  Control Blood Sugar – Two human trial studies have shown that consuming aloe vera juice has a positive impact on lowering blood sugar in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes.  Although the studies were small, one involved 36 people and the other 67, both showed promising results.  Of the 36 individuals that participated in the study, those that took aloe along with the oral diabetes drug glibenclamide, showed definite improvements in blood sugar levels compared to those taking glibenclamide and a placebo.

The second study had 67 participants with diabetes and high cholesterol and compared the impact that oral aloe vera gel versus a placebo had on those conditions.  All 67 patients were also taking the diabetes medications glyburide and metformin.  After the two month trial, aloe was associated with lowering fasting blood glucose and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

2.  Ulcerative Colitis – In a controlled study of 44 participants with ulcerative colitis, those that took a dose of aloe vera gel daily appeared to have improved symptoms compared to people that were given a placebo.

3.  Boosts Immune System – Proving that taking a supplement boosts your immune system is very hard to do.  Some people claim that taking aloe vera keeps them from getting sick, but there really is no way to know that if they weren’t taking it they would have come down with an illness. Aloe vera does contain vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars and amino acids. It has vitamins A, C, and E which are antioxidants.  It also contains B12, folic acid and choline and provides calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, sodium and zinc plus 20 human required amino acids and seven of the eight essential amino acids.  Whether or not these compounds reduce inflammation and boost the immune system is inconclusive, however some small initial studies appear to have positive results.

Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera juice is derived from the succulent aloe vera plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of conditions, mainly those of the skin. The clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner party of the aloe leaf has healing properties that is typically used to treat burns, wounds and skin. Aloe vera has been used in herbal medicine practices since the beginning of the first century AD.

In 2009 clinical studies determined that there is some preliminary evidence to suggest that ingesting aloe vera might be effective in reducing blood glucose, and lowering blood lipids along with a whole host of other health benefits including alleviating symptoms of depression and improving learning and memory. But, larger studies will have to be done before there is sufficient evidence to prove these claims.

Safety Concerns 

All supplements can become toxic if they are taken in large doses.  A little bit of aloe vera juice goes a long way and can be toxic and have adverse side effects if taken in large quantities. It may also interact with other medications that you’re taking, so if you’re taking prescription medicines, please ask your doctor before taking aloe vera.

A little aloe vera juice may go a long way.  So maybe a little is all you need.

Have you tried aloe vera juice as a supplement?

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Why You Should Forget Dieting and Learn To Fall In Love With Exercise

A few weeks ago stories were circulating around the web because of the statement trainer Bob Harper of NBC’s Biggest Loser made.  Bob said that when you’re trying to lose weight “diet trumps exercise”.

In a Fox News article, Harper said, “It’s all about your diet.  I used to think a long time ago that you can beat everything you eat out of you and it’s just absolutely not the case.” Harper says what he hears from people is that they just want to get skinny.

He’s right.  That is what people want.  And, in their attempt to achieve that they are willing to try crazy diets (can you say baby food?), pills, shakes, and even surgery.  All of these are very effective weight-loss methods as long as you stay on them.  Once you ‘go off’ of the diet and resume your normal lifestyle, the pounds begin to creep back on.

Bracelet collage

Statistics show that almost 95% of people that lose weight will regain it, although, clearly that number is debatable since it’s impossible to accurately track. Think of the people that you know that have lost weight. Have they gained it back?

I organize the Weight Watchers at Work program where I’m employed and I don’t know anyone who has been through the program one time.  Most people are ‘back on’ Weight Watchers. Most of the people that I know that have lost weight have 1.) gained some or all of it back or 2.) a daily struggle to stay at their desired weight. And that daily struggle can take the fun out of just about everything!

Have you noticed that when people gain the weight back they blame themselves?  They lost 40 pounds on an amazing diet of two shakes and a freeze-dried heat and eat meal a day that totaled about 800 calories.  Now that the diet has ended – or they’ve run out of money to pay for the food – the pounds are coming back on.  How could anyone be surprised by that?

In my world I listen to many people that are consumed with the number on the scale.  If you jump on in the morning and are down a pound it’s going to be a good day.  Being up a pound is a real buzz kill and sucks the fun out of everything.

Back to Bob

I would agree with Bob Harper when he says diet trumps exercise for weight loss.  As long as we’re talking short term weight loss.  If you want to get 10 pounds off before your high school reunion that takes place in two weeks, or you need to drop some weight to win the iPad in the office weight loss challenge, cutting way back on calories is key.

But, if your goal is to keep the weight off, you might as well accept that you can’t spend the rest of your life counting calories, beating yourself up over splurges, or trying out the latest fad diets or supplements. That’s too exhausting.

Your time would be better spent finding an exercise program that you can fall in love with.  Whether it’s a walking program or Shaun T’s Insanity, find something physical that you like to do and do it on a regular basis.  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Take the time to perfect a sport that you like to play.
  2. Find a sprint triathlon in your area and start training for it.
  3. Forget the mantra that you’re not a runner and learn how to run efficiently and without injury.
  4. Be an overachiever and take the 10,000 steps a day program up a notch to 15,000 or 20,000.
  5. Try CrossFit.  Too hard?  Try Zumba instead.
  6. Start each day with a 15 minute workout from the Be Fit channel on YouTube and end the day with two or three yoga poses.
  7. Launch a 30 day ab or squat challenge at your workplace.
  8. Go to your local library and check out workout DVDs that you can do at home.
  9. Do lunges, push-ups and planks every day.
  10. Jump rope.
  11. Do all of the above.

We all know that there is nothing that matches the mental and physical health benefits that regular exercise provides.  Exercise has a positive impact on every system of the human body.  It is the secret to avoiding type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many forms of cancer.

  • Strict, low-calorie diets weaken your bones. Exercise strengthens them.
  • When you lose weight from dieting you lose precious lean muscle mass. Exercise increases muscle mass as well as your metabolic rate.
  • Being on a diet is a bummer and can leave you feeling like a failure.  Exercise produces endorphins that reduce stress and the risk of depression.
  • Crazy diets like the plastic tongue patch or tube feeding make you think that if you have to eat like that forever, you don’t want to live.  Exercise reduces your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death.

The Fox News article that quoted Bob Harper went on to say that when you go on a diet your chances of keeping the weight off improve with exercise.  Plus, I would be negligent if I didn’t point out that’s it’s a fallacy to think that as long as you exercise you should be able to eat everything you want and not gain a pound.  Not true!  Two hours of spin class won’t burn off a BigMac and fries.

If you’re thinking about which weight-loss strategy to deploy next, the first step should be to find some physical activity programs that you can fall in love with. Get as busy as you can doing those.  Then, in a few weeks, see if you are still preoccupied with the scale.  If you are, send me an e-mail.

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The McDiet Weight Loss Program: Not a Good Plan.

The Chief Executive Officer of McDonalds has been on a public relations campaign about his recent weight loss.  CEO Don Thompson attributes his 20 pound loss to getting up and going to the gym everyday and eating from the McDonalds menu at least once a day.

The McDiet:  Not a good plan.

The McDiet: Not a good plan.    (Flickr photo by Simon Miller)

No one would expect Mr. Thompson to say that to lose weight he had to give up eating at McD’s. Besides, we all know that if you burn more calories than you consume you can lose weight no matter what the content of the calories are. With the regular visits to the gym, Thompson was able to create a calorie deficit despite eating Big Macs and other fast food favorites.

The McDonald’s CEO told the Associated Press that some days he has a Southwest Salad, other days a Big Mac.  “Some days I have fries.  I can’t give up the fries.  I’ll go the extra mile on the treadmill.  It’s calories in, calories out.  You have to watch what you’re putting in.”  Thompson said.

But that’s not true.  There’s more to it than calories in/calories out. When you decide you want to lose weight without giving up burgers and fries you can drop pounds.  But, at some point the question has to be more about what you’re doing to decrease your risk of chronic disease and less about the number on scale.

If you’re on a weight-loss program that includes regular trips to the fast-food counter there’s an obvious disconnect about how the foods you eat impact your overall health.

Diet and Chronic Disease

Poor diet is a major contributor to chronic disease including coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke.  An analysis of more than 50 thousand Singaporeans of Chinese descent, showed that those who ate fast food twice a week or more increased the risk of diabetes by 27 percent and had a 56 percent risk of death from coronary heart disease.

The trans-fats, high fructose corn sugar, large amounts of sodium, and super-sized portions that are typical of fast food meals are all contributing factors.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that more than 30% of adults in the U.S. are obese and that the prevalence of overweight and obesity combined is approximately 70%.  The Centers for Disease Control report that less than 25% of Americans consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

What’s In That Meal?

Developing a hyper awareness of what ingredients are in the foods you’re eating is the best way to eliminate highly processed foods that lead to disease. When a food contains numerous ingredients with names that you can’t pronounce, that’s a bad sign.

Here’s a run- down of the ingredients found in the bun and sauce of a McDonald’s Big Mac:

  • The Bun:  Enriched wheat flour, water, sugar and/or glucose-fructose, yeast, vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola), salt, sesame seeds, calcium sulphate, calcium propionate, monoglycerides, enzymes, azodicarbonamide,and may contain any or all of the following in varying proportions: diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides, BHT, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, wheat starch, calcium peroxide, wheat gluten, sorbitol, dextrin,malted barley flour, ascorbic acid, citric acid, calcium stearate, calcium iodate, silicon dioxide. Contains wheat, barley, sesame seeds.
  •  The Sauce:  Soybean oil, relish (pickles, sugar, glucose-fructose, vinegar, glucose, salt, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate , spice extractives), prepared mustard [water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, sugar, colour (caramel, turmeric), spices], water, frozen egg yolk, vinegar, onion powder, salt, mustard flour, xanthan gum,potassium sorbate , spices, garlic powder, hydrolyzed plant protein (corn, soy, wheat gluten), colour (paprika,caramel), calcium disodium EDTA. Contains wheat, egg, soy, mustard.

The Big Mac comes in at a total of 540 calories of which 260 (about half) are from fat, 1040 mg of sodium, and 9 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of sugar.

And now the fries:

  • McDonald’s French Fries – Potatoes, Canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, safflower oil, natural flavor, dextrose (a type of sugar),  sodium acid pyrophosphate (for color),citric acid, dimethylpolysiloxane, vegetable oil for frying, TBHQ.

While you may be able to continue to indulge in a Big Mac and fries and still lose weight  because of  more frequent trips to the gym, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  You’re getting too much fat, sugar sodium, and preservatives, along with a bunch of other stuff – like dimethylpolysiloxane – which is an anti-foaming agent that is typically used in caulking and sealants – that your body has no clue what to do with.

Like most fast-food chains, McDonalds at least appears to be offering more healthy choice menu options.  At the recent Clinton Global Initiative McDonald’s CEO said that they are making some changes in the way McD’s promotes the Happy Meals. They are only going to promote water, milk, or juice as the beverage.

That’s a start.  But giving a child milk to wash down their Chicken McNugget Happy Meal is like an adult ordering a diet soda to go with their Big Mac and fries. It might make you feel better, but the meal is a weak choice nutrition wise.

Getting in the habit of shopping for groceries on a weekly basis so that you have whole foods on hand to make quick nutritious breakfasts, healthy brown bag lunches and wholesome dinners, is where the focus should be.  This will keep you out of the fast-food drive through.  And that’s the best thing you can do for your health.

You might also like:  Top Ten Web Sites For Healthy Recipes and Too Busy To Cook?  Here’s Why You Should Make Time.

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You Could Benefit from Intermittent Fasting: The Eight Hour Diet

I’m not a fan of diets.  Diets usually call for counting calories, carbs, and fat and are based on deprivation.  Most diets offer the promise of ‘X’ number of pounds lost each week if you stick with a stringent plan.  Once you go off the diet the weight comes back and many people put back on more weight than they lost.  Diets offer a short -term solution to a long -term problem.

Except for the Eight Hour DietOn the eight hour diet you pick at least three days a week where you limit your food intake to eight hours. If you start eating at 8 a.m. you’re done at 4 p.m.  Start at noon and you’re done at 8 p.m.

The Eight Hour Diet is the creation of David Zinczenko, Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health magazine and Editorial Director of Women’s Health magazine.  Zinczenko, who is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on health and fitness, has based his diet plan on the concept of intermittent fasting.

8 hour diet

Intermittent Fasting           

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting.  Some studies have indicated that fasting increases longevity and reduces the risk of chronic disease.

Studies on animals have shown a number of health benefits derived from fasting that include reduced serum glucose and insulin levels, enhanced cardiovascular and brain functions, and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

In a nutshell, what intermittent fasting does is gives all of the organs that are involved in the digestion process – and that is most, if not all, of them – a rest.  Once your body has digested all of the food you’ve eaten, your large and small intestine, pancreas, and liver get to take a break until you eat again.

In the case of the Eight Hour Diet your body’s digestive system gets a 16 hour break at least three times a week. How could 16 hours of rest three times a week for the most crucial organs in our body be a bad thing?

What’s Right About The Eight Hour Diet

First of all, let me put in a disclaimer in about my so-called review of the Eight Hour Diet.  I have not tried the diet.  A co-worker bought the book, brought it to me, said she was going to try it and asked me what I thought.

After reviewing the book I found there were a number of positives about the program.  Here they are:

1. You don’t have to count calories, carbs, fat, or protein. You are allowed to eat whatever you want  for eight hours(which is then followed by 16 hours of fasting) and you don’t have to track it.  Of course, the book warns that the principle of garbage-in-garbage-out always applies.  If you go on an eight-hour free-for-all and consume the most calorie dense foods possible you probably won’t be as successful with the diet.  But, if you eat as you normally would for eight hours, followed by a 16 hours fast, you should lose between one and two pounds a week.

2.  You choose.  Pick the three ‘fast’ days every week that best align with your schedule.  If you find it is easier to limit your food consumption to eight hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, do that.  If you have more control during the week and don’t want to think about the diet on the weekend, fast on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  It’s up to you to find which days are best for your schedule each week. If you want to see results faster, do the eight-hour diet for four or more days each week.

3.  The diet encourages you to eat healthy foods.  That may sound like a no-brainer, however many of the popular diets (Ideal Protein, Body by Vi, Shakeology) are based on two pre-packaged shake mixes followed by a highly processed heat-and-eat meal a day, which isn’t exactly health food.  This plan recommends you eat these superfoods everyday:  eggs and lean meats, walnuts and other nuts, yogurt and other dairy, blue and purple berries, fruits, green vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals. These are the foods we all should be eating everyday anyway, so no big deal. Right?

4.  There are no restricted foods. Is it sounding too good be to true?  Possibly, but with the Eight Hour Diet, not only do you not have to track calories, carbs and fats, you don’t have to take your favorite foods off the menu.  On this diet you continue to eat the foods you like. The only restriction is how many hours you have to consume them.

5.  The concept of intermittent fasting has been proven to be effective. Although there are more studies to be done, the research does show that intermittent fasting can help people lose weight without cannibalizing lean muscle tissue. Because you are not depriving yourself of calories, your body won’t have to use muscle tissue for fuel. The end result is a metabolic rate that is higher and burns calories more efficiently over a 24-hour period.

6.  It’s a lifelong strategy – Let’s say you go decide to try the eight hour diet.  You lose 20 pounds over a 12-week period.  Then, you start to skip the fasting days and the pounds start to creep back up.  The only thing you need to do is re-incorporate the fasting days back into your life. Get back to eating the superfoods and do the 8-on-16-off three days a week and you’ll get the waistline back under control.

Tell Me I’m Wrong

I’m finding it hard to believe that I’m a fan of this ‘diet’. But is it really a diet?  To me it seems like an eating plan that encourages people to eat highly nutritious low-calorie foods, as well as some of their favorites. Just not 24/7.  In a round-about way this diet helps you control how much food you consume because you only have eight hours to consume it.

Then there is that sweet spot where you let your system rest.  And it deserves a rest.  Your pancreas needs a break from pushing out insulin. Your intestines could use some down-time from churning through all the junk you shove through it everyday.  And your liver?  If you knew what your liver had to go through to process the stuff you eat and drink everyday you would realize that it needs a break too.

Over To You

Have you tried the Eight Hour Diet?  I would love to know what your experience with it was?  Please leave a comment in the box below.

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Four Supplements That Will Boost Your Energy

I was recently asked which supplements will boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.  I feel like I’m wading into murky water on this one.  Supplementation is a tricky subject because there are so many products on the market that claim to ‘torch calories’, ‘melt fat’ and ‘rev up your metabolism’ it’s incredibly hard to separate fact from fiction.

Most of these claims are exaggerated or downright false. If there was a miracle pill that could give us energy, increase our metabolism, and keep us at our ideal weight, most of us would be taking it.

Still, there are some supplements that may help you with energy metabolism, increased exercise endurance and a boost to your immune system which are all important when you’re trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle.  These supplements won’t actually torch calories, but they may very well enhance your mood or give you the energy to do that extra 15 minutes on the treadmill which is what most of us are looking for.

Vitamin C

Four Supplements That Can Give You The Boost You Need

Vitamin B 12 – Vitamin B 12 and the other B vitamins are some of the most controversial in the discussion on whether or not supplementation will provide energy and boost metabolism.  B vitamins have been promoted for years as energy boosters that will increase energy and reduce fatigue.  I remember as a child when my mother would get tired she would go to the doctor to get her B12 shot.  They did indeed seem to help her because she had a B12 deficit.

The problem is there is no clear scientific evidence to support the claims that suggest that B12 can help anyone feel more energetic except those that are B12 deficient.

The primary function of vitamin B12 is to support nerve and energy functions.  It is a critical vitamin that helps to form myelin, a fatty cover that insulates your nerves, and helps produce energy from fat and proteins.  It also aids in the production of hemoglobin which is a component of the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body.  Vitamin B12 regulates the growth, maintenance and reproduction of each and every cell.

[Read more…]

Are Dr. Oz’s Weight Loss Tricks For You?

Is anyone else getting tired of Dr. Oz?  His unsolicited ads are now appearing in my Facebook feed daily and there’s always an ad for a weight loss supplement that he’s promoting in the side bar. What exactly is Dr. Oz peddling?

For a physician he seems to push quick fixes that consist of taking a non-FDA approved supplement that has been through little, if any, legitimate testing.  Most – if not all – of them turn out to be pricey gimmicks that people pay money for without any return on their investment.

Then there is this odd disclaimer on his web site that follows all of the articles promoting the miracle cures that says:  “The Dr. Oz Show will not and does not promote any particular brand. If you see any ads or receive any e-mails that claim Dr. Oz is promoting or recommending a specific brand, ignore it and let The Dr. Oz Show know about it.”

The red one is magic.

The red one is the magic weight loss pill.

So just what is he up to?

From raspberry ketone, to green coffee beans, capsicum, and calcium pyruvate, Dr. Oz promotes one unsubstantiated rapid weight loss fix after another. Here’s the low-down on some of the products found on Dr. Oz’s web site:

Raspberry Ketone – Dr. Oz says that it “can help in your weight-loss efforts, especially when paired with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet of healthy and whole foods.”  Really?  If you’re eating a well-balanced diet of healthy and whole foods and exercising, why do you need the raspberry ketone?

According to both the Mayo Clinic and Web MD, insufficient research has been done on humans to conclude that Raspberry Ketone assists in any way with weight loss.

Capsicum – Dr. Oz says that Capsicum stimulates metabolism by activating a chain of events in the body that helps to melt fat and break it down in the body. The article on his web site about Capsicum also says, “After taking the extract, focus on exercises that build lean muscle, which further burns fat, even while resting.”

Is there a pattern emerging here?  With the raspberry ketone if you eat right and exercise you’ll lose weight.  With the Capsicum if you focus on exercises that builds lean muscle mass you will be more efficient at burning fat.  That’s what strength training does!  It increases muscle mass and as a result your body burns more calories throughout the day.

Again, as with Raspberry Ketone, there has not been sufficient research done on Capsicum to support the claims that it is effective as a weight loss aid.

Calcium Pyruvate – Here’s Dr. Oz’s spin on Calcium Pyruvate: “Pyruvate seems to work by increasing your body’s use of fat as an energy source. Normally, your body first breaks down sugar, then protein, and fat is saved until the end. Pyruvate appears to divert fat to be broken down sooner. The result is that the resting metabolic rate is raised, meaning you could feasibly be melting fat while watching TV if you have ingested the right amount of pyruvate.”

Feasibly, I’ve always wanted to melt fat while I’m having a glass of wine watching re-runs of Two and A Half Men so go ahead and sign me up for this one.

Dr. Bill Sukala, Phd Exercise and Sports Science, wrote an excellent and very thorough article, Pyruvate Suppmenets: A Comprehensive Review Of Marketing Claims, on the research that has been done on Calcium Pyruvate.  Sukala says  “the most popular [pyruvate] weight loss claims are supported by limited evidence, and there are many more with no basis in fact whatsoever. Some are downright false and others are deceptive half-truths.”  You can read the full article here.

Saffron Extract – – Dr. Oz gets zuber-excited about saffron extract which he refers to as a ‘miracle appetite suppressant’.  Watch this video of him telling his audience about all of the science behind it.  At around  2.39 minutes into the video he says not once, but twice, that the people in the study were allowed to eat whatever they want and they still lost weight.  He is able to convince the audience that saffron extract is the miracle that everyone has been waiting for.

Green Coffee Beans – From Dr. Oz:  “Various studies have suggested that chlorogenic acid [found in coffee beans] slows absorption of fat from food intake and also activates metabolism of extra fat. Unfortunately, traditional brewed coffee doesn’t serve as a good source of chlorogenic acid. While roasting green coffee beans removes its naturally bitter taste, it also removes a significant portion of chlorogenic acid. Hence, green coffee beans remain one of the best natural sources for chlorogenic acid.

Research on green coffee beans and weight loss is relatively new.  The one study that has been done is considered to be preliminary and results were inconclusive.  Even the study Dr. Oz did himself is questionable.  He divided 100 women into two groups.  One group took the green coffee beans, the other took a placebo.  The women that took the coffee beans lost an average of two pounds.  The placebo group lost one pound.  This study raises so many questions I couldn’t possibly address them all in this article except to ask, why did the women on the placebo lose one pound?

Fact Or Fiction?

How does someone that wants to lose weight sort through all of these products that Dr. Oz is so enthusiastic about?

On his web site Dr. Oz refers to them as diet ‘tricks’ which is the first clue that what you’re going to hear or read about has sketchy – if any – research backing it up.

He also consistently uses phrases like:

  • melts fat
  • activates metabolism
  • increases body’s use of fat
  • burns fat while resting
  • lose weight without diet or exercise
  • miracle

If there were miracle products that would help people lose and keep weight off we would all know about, and have access to, them.  The truth is there is only one way to lose weight.  You have to burn more calories than you consume by eating less and moving more.  The best way to do this is to limit portions, select low-calorie/nutrient-dense foods, get 30 minutes of physical activity every day, and sleep seven to eight hours a night.

We all wish there were an easier way but until a real miracle comes along this is what we have to work with.  That’s why it is so irritating to see this constant dribble from Dr. Oz about one fat melting trick after another.

It’s also disheartening that all of the ‘diet trick’ posts have dozens of comments from people that say they are going to go out and buy the products that Dr. Oz is promoting (but not endorsing) and that haven’t been proven to work.

I’m thinking maybe a Green Coffee Bean Ketone Capsicum Saffron stacker would be a trick. Or, at the very least, tricky.

What’s your take on Dr. Oz’s diet tricks?  Be Social! Share!