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Ask JJ: Low-Carb Diets

Dear JJ: I lost nearly 60 pounds on a low-carb diet. I felt and looked great. My doctor raved about my improved blood work. Unfortunately, I eventually gained it back plus some, and I’ve known other low-carb dieters who met the same fate. Why do so many people struggle with low-carb diets even though we know they work?

If I put you on a desert island for a few months with just protein, dietary fat, and water, you’d be fine because your body can actually make glucose on its own. In other words, you can live fine without carbohydrates.

The thing is, who wants to live like that? Not me.

Low-carb diets have their benefits. Properly designed, they eliminate health-robbing, fat loss-stalling culprits like sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, and high-glycemic carbohydrates.

Compared with low-fat diets, studies show low-carb diets help people lose more weight and improve cardiovascular health. Another study conducted by the American Diabetes Association found a low-carb, low-saturated fat could help improve Type 2 diabetes management, especially if you sustain it beyond 24 weeks.

That’s where problems begin. While many people initially thrive on a low-carb diet, over time once the novelty wears off they backtrack into their old eating habits.

Maybe a few bites of birthday cake become two pieces or eating bacon yet again for breakfast leaves them nose-diving into a high-sugar impact muffin (aka adult cupcake). Whatever the fall-off-the-wagon reason, if low-carb diets had worked for you in the past, you’d already be at your ideal weight and peak vitality, right?

Many clients also feel lousy eating very low carb. They aren’t pleasant people to be around. They get bored with a limited food repertoire or tediously counting carbs. They satisfy their sweet tooth with low-carb junk foods loaded with soy protein isolate and other crappy ingredients.

Very low-carb diets allow a rather limited menu, and eating highly reactive foods repeatedly can create problems. Much as I love quality eggs from barnyard chickens, eating low-carb staples like omelets every morning can create food intolerances.

Dr. Alan Christianson mentions low-carb diets can create other detrimental effects including insomnia, fatigue, and depression.

When you limit or eliminate low-sugar impact vegetables, fruits, and legumes, you can miss out on valuable nutrients and antioxidants, but you also miss out on fiber and its numerous benefits including improved insulin sensitivity and yes, increased weight loss.

“The average fiber intake of adults in the United States is less than half recommended levels and is lower still among those who follow currently popular low-carbohydrate diets,” writes JL Slavin in the journal Nutrition.

Rather than going very low carb and severely restricting an entire macronutrient, I aim to empower people to make good choices, knowing where there’s wiggle room and how to step away from high-sugar impact bad choices.

In other words, stop fearing carbs. Stop demonizing an entire food group. Choose the right ones that help you feel fabulous and get fast, lasting fat loss.

Rather than reducing diets to points, carbs, calories, or whatever, let’s acknowledge food is more complex and that multiple criteria — including nutrient density, fructose, fiber, and glycemic load — determine its overall impact.

So while quinoa might be a higher-carb food restricted on very low carb diets, when you consider its overall impact, it becomes a nutrient-rich superstar.

Adding quinoa and other low-sugar impact foods adds variety and flavor to your meals while still balancing blood sugar, increasing fat loss, and boosting overall health.

I know some of my readers and colleagues are advocates, so I want to know whether you agree with my assessment about low-carb diets. If you’ve ever done a low-carb diet, did you get the results you wanted? Were you able to maintain that diet and those results? Share your thoughts below.

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Diet without a plan a recipe for failure

The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.

— Chinese proverb

We’ve now entered week three of our Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week routine. So far, so good.

A few days before I started, I got apprehensive and a bit nervous. I hadn’t even shopped for all the good food I was going to buy because it was still a few days before payday.

I fretted about recipes, creativity with food, exercise and the strength to muddle through. And I prayed.

It has gone rather smoothly overall, but it is still early in the game.

I have managed to write down what I eat every day, but I haven’t weighed or stressed over losing pounds yet. But part of the reason I haven’t weighed is because the battery in my electric scale is dead. I’m working on that.

I returned to swimming, and I still have a little stiffness afterward. But I know that will get better, too.

As for my eating, I’m working on a balanced diet. I’m reining in my carbs. It’s way too easy to grab crackers, chips or other snacks that tend to spike my blood sugar.

And all of it takes planning. What is it they say? “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” I’d say that is true, especially in starting a new eating routine.

I find that if I plan what I want to take to work the next day, then get it together and put it in a bag in the fridge, it’s easier. And I’ll have what I need to keep myself away from the snacks in the break room machine.

I have also been more diligent about checking my blood glucose levels. They’re not down as far as I’d like, but they are better. And that’s the important thing.

Week 3

In this week the Diabetes Weight Loss author, registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger, wants us to work on always eating breakfast.

Her suggestions include foods like boiled eggs, meal replacement bars, instant oatmeal or last night’s leftovers. It does not have to be traditional breakfast food, just filling and nutritious.

If your problem is portion size, the author recommends using a smaller dish. Imagine having ice cream and two bowls, one small and one large. The chances that we’ll put just one small scoop in the big bowl are slim, so by controlling the dish, we control the portion.

Try a plate no bigger than 9 inches, 1-cup bowls for cereal, a half-cup dish for ice cream and a 1-ounce shot glass for snacks like jelly beans or MMs.

And if you are tracking your food intake, reflect on it. Do you see patterns? Do you eat unhealthful foods? Do you have too many snacks?

I also like to make notes in my food diary about my blood sugar readings or the time I ate. That way I don’t have to try and remember them later.

Week 4

The goal of this week is to expand on the planning skills we use to control what we eat.

Here, the author writes about eating water-rich foods to help fill the tummy and trim calories. They tend to be foods like vegetables, fruit and soups. The water content adds volume to foods.

For example, which is more filling — 15 grapes or 15 raisins? I think we know. And the concentrated sugar in the dried fruit doesn’t help the old blood glucose either.

Try starting a meal with a salad or broth-based soup. Double your nonstarchy vegetables at dinner. Or add extra vegetables to pasta, casseroles or other dishes.

And don’t forget to keep consulting nutrition labels. Weisenberger gives an example of fig bars and fat-free fig bars. You’d think the fat-free version would be better, but not really. There are only 10 more calories per serving in the regular version, and the same amount of fiber, protein and fat. The regular version even has one less gram of carbohydrates.

I think I know which one I’d choose. But we will never know if we don’t read the labels.

Email me at:

[email protected]

ActiveStyle on 08/31/2015

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Sensible plan will help seniors lose weight

The beauty about growing older is the wisdom gained from all our life experiences. For many, however, the downside is the addition of unwanted pounds. At this stage of the journey, it’s challenging to take them off.

A multitude of changes takes place as we age which can cause the scale to shift to the right. Our metabolism doesn’t operate at the efficient speed it did in our youth. Plus, a decrease in muscle mass means a reduction in calorie requirements. Experts at Johns Hopkins estimate we lose about half our muscle mass between ages 20 and 90, with the bulk between age 50 and 70.

Yet, there are small but powerful changes seniors can make to drop and keep the weight off.

Shift your mindset

First, you’ll need to adjust your thinking because losing and maintaining weight is not a quick fix or a short-term diet; it’s about changing your lifestyle. It took you a lifetime to get here so it will take some time to reprogram your perspective. Weight loss requires a commitment to not only replace high-calorie foods with healthier, low-calorie alternatives (think fruit, veggies, high-fiber and lean high quality protein) and reduce portion sizes, but also to become more physically active.

Make exercise

a way of life

Speaking of movement, to lose and maintain weight you must eat fewer calories than you burn — or burn off the excess you consume. The majority of people battling the bulge probably fall into the latter group, so exercise must become a regular part of your life. I recommend at least 150 minutes per week (2½ hours) of cardiovascular or aerobic activity, which is activity that increases your breathing and heart rate and uses your large muscle groups such as walking, biking, swimming, yoga and dancing. Keep in mind: A brisk 15 to 20 minute, one-mile walk will burn about 100 calories. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories.

To boost your metabolism and build muscle, add some strength/weight training into your regimen two to three times per week. New guidelines from Health and Human Services suggest strength training at least two days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). Be sure to give your muscles at least one day of rest between workouts. Always check with your doctor before starting or increasing any exercise regimen.

The tricks of the trade

An effective way to stay motivated and document your weight-loss progress is to use exercise tools, including journals, smartphone apps, regular weight checks, body fat measurements and pedometers. Fitness tools can help track your pace, steps taken, calories you’ve burned, and inches and pounds lost. Some even can map an exercise route, or indicate where you need to make adjustments in your routine or food choices. Studies show that those who kept a food journal at least six days per week lost twice as much weight than those who kept the food journal one day per week or less.

MyFitnessPal, for example, which is free and compatible with Apple and android phones, is a food diary that calculates a recommended daily calorie budget based on personal weight-loss goals. It also counts the calories you’ve eaten and burned from exercise. You can also get regular nutrition and healthy living tips.

Surround Yourself with Support

It’s imperative that you find a cheering section during weight loss. Surround yourself with like-minded friends and family who embrace exercise and healthy eating, or at least support your efforts. A strong network will help you stay the course.

Manage your stress

and sleep

Stress releases cortisol (often referred to as the “stress hormone”) and in today’s world high cortisol levels due to stress are all too common. Cortisol degrades muscle tissue and encourages body fat storage, which has been linked to chronic health issues such as diabetes.

Lack of sleep can increase those cortisol levels as well. Adequate sleep also balances the hormone that controls hunger. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.

Slow and steady

wins the race

Don’t starve yourself to lose weight. You need to consume a moderate amount of calories to lose weight gradually.

It is not recommended to go below 1,200 calories daily. If you eat too few calories, you’ll lose weight rapidly but much of it will be from water and muscle loss. That hard-earned muscle mass will help you maintain a higher metabolism. Don’t aim for more than a one to two pound weight loss per week.

And stay hydrated as you work toward the finish line. The human body is composed of about 70 percent water, so it’s important to replenish what is lost during exercise to regulate metabolic function and maximize your workout. To avoid dehydration, drink water before and after you exercise.

All fluids count as hydration but caffeine and alcohol should be consumed at a minimum as they will trigger fluid loss.

While water isn’t some magic bullet that burns fat, it can help prevent overeating since many confuse thirst with hunger.

In addition, some research suggests that people who drink lots of water eat more vegetables and fruits, drink fewer sugary beverages and consume fewer total calories, all of which benefit weight management.

About Ask The Experts

Information presented here is general in nature and may not be appropriate for individuals with medical issues that warrant special diets, such as those with diabetes or kidney disease.

Ask your doctor if you need a special diet and consider consulting with a registered dietitian to learn about the best food choices for you.

If you have a health-related question you’d like to submit for consideration, please email [email protected]

Margaret Brown is a registered dietitian who works at the Sun Health Center for Health Wellbeing.

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Southern US diet worst for heart

People who like fried food, sweet tea and other foods synonymous with the Southern U.S. may be
at an increased risk of heart attack and death, according to a new study.

“If their overall pattern of eating seems to closely match those components, they may want to
move away from that,” said lead researcher James Shikany of the University of

About 735,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year, according to the American Heart
Association, and about 120,000 die as a result.

To prevent heart attacks and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and
women, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people exercise
regularly, maintain a healthy weight and diet, and not smoke.

Previous studies mostly focused on individual foods or parts of the diet that may be tied to an
increased risk of heart disease, but these days researchers are looking “at overall diet as opposed
to a specific nutrient or a specific food,” Shikany said.

For the new study, he and his colleagues used data collected from 17,418 people age 45 or older
from across the nation.

Based on interviews about food eaten in the past year, researchers were able to identify five
dietary patterns.

One pattern is heavy on convenience foods, such as pasta dishes, pizza and Mexican and Chinese

Another pattern includes many plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, fruit juice, cereal
and beans, as well as fish, poultry and yogurt.

The “sweets” pattern is heavy in added sugars, desserts, chocolate, candy and sweetened
breakfast foods.

The “Southern” pattern involves fare typical of the region, such as fried foods, eggs, organ
meats, processed meats, sugary drinks and foods with added fats.

Finally, researchers saw that some people loaded up on beer, wine, liquor, green leafy
vegetables, tomatoes and salad dressing; they called this the “alcohol and salad” pattern.

Overall, over about six years of follow-up, there were 536 heart attacks among the study group,
including some resulting in death, the researchers reported in the journal

Those whose food choices most closely fell into the Southern pattern were 37 percent more likely
to have a heart attack during the six years, compared with those whose choices least-closely
matched it.

The link remained significant even after the researchers accounted for factors often involved in
heart-attack risk such as age, race, education, blood pressure and weight.

The other four dietary patterns were not linked to an increased risk of heart attack, but
Shikany said that doesn’t mean they’re heart-healthy.

“I wouldn’t say go ahead and eat all the convenience food you want,” he said.

Katrina Changes Diet Plan According to Film Roles

MUMBAI: Actress Katrina Kaif says she keeps altering her diet and fitness plans according to the demand of the roles she essays on screen.

“My diet and fitness mantra depends on what I want to achieve, whatever role or the desired result is. So, whether you want to look little more toned or want a more athletic look, you want to look very thin for a role, or you want just look normal like a soft woman who does not want too much of definition, I change the plan accordingly,” Katrina said here.

She said she shuffles between Pilates or functional training. “I pretty much try to follow a sensible way of eating and just do the things we all get to know are good for us.”

The “Raajneeti” actress spoke at the book launch of fitness professionals Yasmin Karachiwala and Zeena Dhalla’s co-authored book, “Sculpt and Shape: The Pilates Way”, which guides readers on how to change the shape of their body by learning more about their posture and how improving it can change the way they look.

Diet Advice That Ignores Hunger

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