Posts Tagged ‘weight gain’

Nutritionists are Lying – A Calorie Isn’t a Calorie

I remember going to my first nutrition class at Penn State.

I was eager to jump right in since that was what I was there for, but had to wait until some of those darn pre req classes were out of the way.

I walked in day 1.  Liz Evans was our professor.  And she certainly didn’t look like the people I saw in the pages of the magazines I was getting all my information from up until this point.  Hey, you have to start somewhere.

Anyhow, after going over the syllabus, "one of the most important lessons in nutrition — in the entire course," Liz said, "is that all calories are equal.  Nutrition, health and weight loss are really simple" she continued "Calories in equal calories out, your weight is stable.  Calories out are more than calories in, you lose.  If calories in are more than calories out, you gain weight."

Like all the other students, I was writing as quickly as I could. 

And this message continued.  Through my masters and into my PhD, where my research focus was on teaching people how to lose weight permanently.

But it was then that I started to question things a bit more. 

REALLY?  Are all calories the same?

It didn’t make sense to me.  You see from a law of thermodynamics, it does make sense.  If you walk for 1 mile you burn 100 calories.  If you eat 100 calories worth of food, you’ve essentially created a "wash."  Nothing gained.  Nothing lost if we’re solely looking at this with regards to body weight.

But what if you compare extremes?

1 pound of sugar = 1,540 calories

~26 apples = 1,540 calories

Same calories.  But do you think the quality of 1 lb of sugar and 26 apples is the same?  Of course not…aside from the laundry list of nutrition problems eating a days worth of calories from just sugar would cause (nutrient deficiencies, scurvy, tooth decay, etc), how do you think the person eating the 1 pound of sugar would look, feel and perform after she did so?  Of course 26 apples isn’t the ideal "diet" either, but you get the point. 

It’s kind of like the saying, a pound of bricks is the same weight as a pound of feathers.  Sure, they weigh the same … but there are certainly different qualities between them, even though the scale may read the same. 

So as we started to look into this more on our own, with our own clients, and with our own writing & research … we changed our tune and go against the grain of mainstream nutrition to instead give this message:

QUALITY of the diet is more important than QUANTITY of the diet.

Of COURSE calories still do matter. 

But quality is crucial to permanent success.  And it made us even happier when we read a recent study by researchers at Harvard University confirming our point of how the quality of the diet — above and beyond just quantity — can help with fat loss.

The study certainly wasn’t the final word — and definitely had limitations — it wasn’t a "cause and effect" study, but rather a correlation study that asked over 120,000 healthy, well educated men and women about their dietary habits every 2 years for a total of between 12 and 20 years.

They then teased out some of the food items that were associated with weight loss or weight gain among the subjects. 

First, as a whole, they found that the average participant gained about 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) per year.  Who cares, right?  It’s JUST 1 lb.  The problem … year after year after year … that 1 lb adds up and people never lose it and long term it’s more and more dangerous.

The question, then, is what foods did they find contributed to the weight loss vs. those that contributed to weight gain?

Weight Loss:

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain foods

Weight Gain:

  • Sugar sweetened drinks
  • Processed meats
  • Potatoes

Interesting, huh?

Again, we’re certainly not saying there aren’t limitations to this study or this type of correlation study, but there were some interesting findings to consider.  The take home points from the authors were to not focus so heavily on calories and rather look at the quality — limit processed or refined carbohydrates and focus instead on veggies, fruits, and healthier food options … even if they are higher in calories (like nuts).  Basically a lot of this boils down to how these foods affect the hormones in our body – namely, insulin, a powerful storage hormone. 

Again, it’s not just how much you eat, but WHAT you eat. 

Just as an aside, we also don’t think potatoes are a "devil" food — we do think the ways people eat them (such as French fries) are.  Again, take this data with a grain of salt. 

At the end of the day, though, we want you to focus on overall diet QUALITY … our message remains the same.  Lots of veggies and fruits, nuts, healthy fats, lean protein and some whole grains.

Pretty basic.  But very effective.

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Thanksgiving Surival Guide (3 ‘Weird’ Tips)

Thanksgiving in the States is tomorrow…

A holiday that has turned into the biggest eating day of the entire year in the States.

On average, it’s suggested that American’s eat upwards of 4200 calories/day — about 3-4 times above "normal" — or what’s needed.

We’re all about enjoying yourself and the special holiday traditions.  In fact, it’s important to remind you that your daily habits are significantly more important than any single occasion.  BUT, avoiding that post Thanksgiving feeling of disgustingness (is that a word?), where you have no option other than unbuttoning your pants and collapsing on the couch, only to fall asleep and wake up bloated and uncomfortable, isn’t a bad thing.

Instead, this year, try these 3 ‘tricks’ that help you save on calories but not skimp on flavor or even miss out eating your favorites.

Consider it your Thanksgiving Survival Guide.

These Thanksgiving Survival Guide tricks are so simple they’re almost too easy.

  1. Don’t let your foods touch on your plate.  Weird, I know — but most of the time the plate is piled so high, it’s like a giant mess of foods.  This year leave "white space" between each food.  Why?  You’ll pile less foods on one another meaning you eat your favorites, just not as much of each.
  2. Skip the mindless eating.  Avoid the snack bowls, mixed nuts, and extras that are lying around the house…pre dinner, of course.  These are just extra calories that fill you up but aren’t "unique" to Thanksgiving, so you’re not mindlessly eating extra calories but aren’t even noticing (or enjoying) what you’re eating.  Enjoy the ‘unique’ foods — don’t waste calories on the basics you can get every day.
  3. Fill your plate (without letting foods touch) and walk away from the buffet table.  Then wait 20 minutes before deciding to go up again.  Again, seems obvious.  But it’s not too common — walking away from the buffet table means you’ll be less likely to keep filling up on the extras just because.   And waiting the 20 minutes will allow you to truly determine if you’re physiologically hungry (not likely) or psychologically hungry (more likely).

There you have it.  These are simple, their straightforward, but they’re all effective ‘weird’ little tricks that can make a big difference.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers. 

High Fructose Corn Syrup or Corn Sugar?

I turned on my computer and saw a headline across the screen:

"Corn syrup producers want a sweeter name: corn sugar."

Curious, I clicked … and saw that the Corn Syrup Refiners Association is considering a name change because of all the negative press they’ve received recently, with some blaming high fructose corn syrup for the obesity epidemic. 

Apparently consumption of HFCS is at a 20 year low amidst the growing health concerns and obesity epidemic.

Will a name change matter — will "corn sugar" be viewed more favorably than "high fructose corn syrup?"  And, at the end of the day, whatever they decide to call it — is high fructose corn syrup making you fat?

We’ve talked about this before, but this recent news brought it to light again … let’s take a look at the actual science.

You may have seen the commercials by the Corn Industry saying high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is no worse than other added sugars.

On the flip side, some scientists and nutrition experts have been screaming at the top of their lungs that HFCS causes weight gain and is partly responsible for the obesity epidemic.

Well another study is out that’s receiving a ton of attention.

"High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels"

Here’s a quick summary.  HFCS is an added sugar that is used by many food and beverage companies because it’s cheap and easy to use in beverages because it’s liquid.

Well, interestingly, the boom of HFCS use matches very closely to the increase in the obesity epidemic over the last few decades.

But while some research made the correlation between HFCS and obesity, most has shown mixed results.  However, all the negative press obviously has the Corn Refiners Association looking for a lifeline since intake is at a 20 year low and major soft drink and sports drink companies finding alternatives for their products.

Is the panic necessary?  The current study looked at both the short and long term effects of HFCS on weight, fat, and triglycerides in male and female rats.

The first study was 8 weeks long and the male rats were separated into 3 groups:

The first group was maintained for 12 hours/day on a diet made up of 8% HFCS and unlimited amounts of "chow."

The second was maintained for 12 hours/day on 10% sucrose (table sugar) and unlimited chow.

The third was was maintained for 24 h/day with HFCS with unlimited chow

And the fourth — chow alone.

They found that rats with 12-h access to HFCS gained significantly more body weight than the rats in the table sugar group.

What’s important, though, is that they both ate the same number of overall calories.

In the longer term part of this study, rats were fed these diets for 6 or 7 months and they found that the male and female rats with access to HFCS gained more body weight, fat and had higher levels of triglycerides than those in the other groups.

Mohr Results Bottom Line:

We’re not fans of ANY added sugars — sucrose to HFCS (even if they do change the name to corn sugar), organic turbinado to brown rice syrup. 

At the end of the day, though, is one WORSE than the others?

This one study shows it may be — but after looking at the study, I’m not too impressed with the design and methods.  We’re still not convinced that HFCS is worse than other added sugars from a weight loss standpoint.  And we’re not convinced that HFCS is the cause of the obesity epidemic — that being said, the foods that it’s most prevalent in, though, surely play a role:

    * Soft drinks
    * Fruit juices/cocktails
    * Most other sweetened foods

It’s even in "common" foods like ketchup, so read food labels carefully!

Take Home: if a food as added sugar (any type) as one of the first 3 ingredients, leave it on the shelf.

Stay tuned on the HFCS debate as more will surely be uncovered.  And whether it keeps its name of High Fructose Corn Syrup or tries to go incognito with "Corn Sugar" — at the end of the day, it’s still an added sugar.

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