Fad Diets: Do they actually work?
With one-third of Americans obese and more than two-thirds overweight, the nation is desperate for a weight-loss miracle.
"We're so desperate to have good solutions for weight control that a lot of people with good common sense literally suspend it when it they confront weight-loss claims," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, in an ABC Healthy story.
The problem with fad diets is just that, they are a fad and not something that can last long-term. Why can't they last? Let's take a look at three common fad diets:
A popular diet in the 1970s, the HCG diet includes daily injections of "human chorionic gonadotropin" and extreme caloric restriction only providing 500 calories per day. HCG is a hormone first produced by the developing embryo and then the placenta during pregnancy to help nourish the womb. Because calories are re-routed from mother to fetus during pregnancy, HCG diet promoters say, injecting the hormone will help curb appetite and allow dieters to get through a day on the energy equivalent of a turkey sandwich. However, medical experts and registered dietitians agree that only eating 500 calories is dangerous as that amount of nutrition likely does not provide the adequate amount of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that the body needs. According to the National Institutes of Health, the lowest recommended daily calorie amount is 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls HCG supplements illegal and fraudulent and prevents direct-to-consumer sale. It is not the injection causing weight loss, it is the severe calorie restriction, which can potentially be very dangerous. Thus, this fad is a no-no!
The Atkins diet can be described as a low-carbohydrate diet limiting total carbohydrate to 20 grams or less per day and allowing ad lib intake of protein and fat. The challenge is that carbohydrate is the body's number one source of energy and without it people feel fatigued and typically have decreased mental focus. People see immediate weight loss on the Atkins diet because when not eating carbohydrate, the body breaks down stored carbohydrate (glycogen) and each gram of glycogen stores 3 grams of water. Thus the body loses a large quantity of water upon restricting carbohydrate resulting in weight loss.
To think you will never eat a slice of bread, piece of cake, chip or bite of potato again is not realistic! You should include an adequate serving of a whole grain, high fiber carbohydrate at most meals throughout the day.
There are a variety of cleanses on the nutrition fad diet market. Many people use extreme cleanses to "jump start" a diet plan. However, most cleanses provide little to no nutritional value. Cleanses are typically 3 to 10 days and all liquid. There is significant calorie deprivation which promotes weight loss initially through water weight loss. The biggest challenge with this style of fad diet is that adequate nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids are not provided and thus many people have very low energy levels. If you feel that it is essential to cleanse as a "jump start," eat only fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts so there are nutrients provided amidst calorie restriction.
The key to effective weight loss and maintenance is eating in a way that you can stick with for the rest of your life! Eating small frequent meals of whole grain carbohydrate, lean protein, healthy fat and garnished with colorful fruits and veggies will help you stay energized, satisfied and healthy Finally, don't forget to exercise! Daily exercise is important for heart health and maintaining weight loss. Remember, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.
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Myth vs. Fact
"I need to lose weight for summer, so I am going to skip meals and eat a sensible dinner."
Skipping meals is the number one way to not lose weight! When you skip meals, your metabolism actually begins to slow down and conserve energy, thus making it difficult to lose body fat. To lose body fat, the goal is to eat small, frequent meals each with a whole grain carbohydrate/fruit and a lean protein/healthy fat.
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The Executive Health Scoop
Spring into good health with personalized nutrition services through the Executive Health Program
The Executive Health Program takes a comprehensive approach to your health. We pride ourselves in giving individualized care to each patient that walks through our door. With our comprehensive physical exams and individualized nutrition services, you will leave our office with a plan on how to improve your health.
Two physicians on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth, Dr. Robert Machos, medical director, and Dr. Carla Castaneda work with the program's registered dietitian to provide you with nutritional information and education necessary to help you make lifestyle changes.
Nutrition services are available through the Executive Health Program and include a variety of services from personal meal planning to personal grocery shopping trips. Call 817-250-3933 to learn more about these services or to schedule your individual nutrition consultation today!
Visit TexasHealth.org/AskAmy to have your nutrition and exercise questions answered by a registered dietitian!
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Hate the Gym? Do it Kid Style!
Exercise does not have to be difficult! You don't have to spend hours in a gym or run a marathon in order to get movement and activity into your day! In fact, there are a variety of easy activities that can you do for a hobby, at home with your kids or at a local park/gym with your family to help you stay healthy. Take a look at kids — they don't run on the treadmill or take aerobics classes. They just move — a simple concept many forget! Let's get back to exercise the fun way: "Kid Style."
Walking is a great form of exercise! Whether it is walking around your neighborhood, walking your kids or grandkids to the park or walking a track, it is all activity! For health benefits, purchase a pedometer and aim to get 10,000 steps a day. For fitness benefits, get your heart rate up while walking. Walking at a brisk pace where you are slightly winded is a great way to burn calories!
Did you love swimming as a child? Get your kids and get back in the pool! Swimming laps, participating in a water aerobics class or even running around in the pool elevates the heart rate and burns calories. If you have young kids or grandkids, let them play and you power walk back and forth down the pool and feel the healthy burn in those legs!
When is the last time you rode a bike? No, not a spin bike at the gym, an actual bike! Get some fresh air, get outside and get pedaling. One of the top outdoor kid activities is bike riding. You can pedal fast for a few minutes, then slow, then repeat for a great interval workout. Take your family riding through a park, on a trail around the lake or through your neighborhood and get the whole group active and healthy!
For many people, dancing brings back the good ole days whether it was tap class as a kid, square dancing in third grade or two-stepping and hip-hopping at the homecoming school dance, sweating was never so fun! To get some exercise, dance it out! Take a Zumba class at your local gym, go ballroom dancing with your spouse, go country dancing at the local dance hall or even salsa at a Mexican restaurant. All of these activities will get the heart rate up and the metabolism burning.
You don't have to live at the gym, but you do need to move! So pick some fun activities and get moving most days of the week. Don't make it hard. Be a kid and get moving!
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Caffeine: Coffee, Tea or None at All?
By Ashley Raisin
With the extremely busy lifestyles we all live today, it's no wonder caffeine has become a part of our daily routine. We all know the energizing effects of caffeine, and the various forms it comes in. The popularity of Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, and other favorite caffeine "fixes" have made the caffeine experience the latest craze. So, what's the truth behind it? Coffee and tea have been shown to have many health benefits, but can too much be harmful?
Coffee vs. Tea
The caffeine content in coffee and tea varies depending on brewing time and water ratio. A generic cup of black coffee contains around 85 milligrams, and a cup of tea contains around 40 milligrams. As with most items today, we have these beverages "bigger and better" thus constituting more caffeine. With coffee houses virtually on every corner, people are consuming an abundance of caffeinated products. Although this may have its downfalls, many health benefits may result from coffee and tea consumption.
Boost of energy
This is no surprise and is probably coffee and tea's most valued benefit. In some ways it's favorable over energy drinks to get you up and going in the morning, or get you over that afternoon slump.
Both coffee and tea contain antioxidants. Tea, however, has gained the most popularity from this, due to its antioxidant, polyphenol levels. Polyphenols are naturally found in plants and studies have shown it to have many disease preventative qualities. Decreased risks of some cancers, chronic diseases, and cholesterol levels have all been shown. When selecting teas for antioxidant benefits, black, green, white, and oolong teas are the ones to go for. Herbal and Roobios teas are made from infusions of flowers, roots, spices, and other plant parts that do not contain polyphenols, but do have the benefit of a relaxing aroma.
How much is too much? For most, 200 to 300 milligrams a day, which is about 2 to 4 cups of coffee, usually does not cause any harmful side effects. Although, some people are more sensitive to caffeine and even with these moderate amounts can experience adverse side effects. Caffeine speeds up metabolism and stimulates the nervous system. Excess intakes can lead to anxiousness, jitteriness, insomnia, decreased bone mass, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Caution should be taken with those who have certain health conditions, such as hypertension, and pregnant or nursing women. Caffeine can also be addicting for frequent users, and this can lead to withdrawal symptoms of headaches, and irritability.
The abundance of extras
With all the creative coffee and tea options these days, many excess calories, sugar, and fat have also been added. A cup of regular black coffee is only 7 calories. Doesn't sound like much until you add creamer, sugar, and other flavorings. A grande flavored coffee from Starbucks can add up to almost 400 calories, and blended coffee drinks are around 500 calories, not to mention fat and sugar content! So for those who are trying to cut back, or are avid flavored coffee and tea connoisseurs, need to make wise choices when ordering. Skip the whip cream, and choose low fat or skim milk, which can cut over half of the calories. Sugar-free syrup, and "skinny" lattes are also great choices, which lower fat and sugar content.
Bottom Line: Caffeine is a daily ritual for most of us, whether it's a morning cup to get your day going, or it's a couple throughout the day to keep energy levels high. Moderate amounts are not harmful, but too much can cause adverse side effects. Coffee and tea have many health benefits such as their antioxidant properties, but also have the downfall of added calories, fat, and sugar when mixed with flavorful additions, so think twice when brewing!
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Healthy Bites Recipe of the Month — Breakfast Pizza Minis
By Amber Massey, RD, LD
Pizza for breakfast? Absolutely!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the most common meal that Americans skip! Many people rely solely on carbohydrate at breakfast and snacks, which can leave them feeling famished hours later. The key is to add some protein and healthy fat to your carbohydrate. Protein and fat slow down digestion and thus keep you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time.
Let's breakdown the Breakfast Pizzas Minis ingredients: Rich in protein, iron and Vitamin B-12 is the egg! The American Heart Association says one egg a day is "a-okay" for the majority of Americans. The Vitamin C in tomato marinara sauce helps you absorb the iron in the egg more efficiently and provides a prostate cancer fighting ingredient licopene. Cheese is also a great source of protein in addition to an excellent source of calcium which helps build and maintain bone mineral density. Adding protein like pepperoni, turkey or Canadian bacon will increase the satiety of the meal and keep you feeling full longer. Put all that on a whole grain English muffin full of B-vitamins and fiber and you are starting the day off right!
Breakfast Pizzas Minis
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons prepared tomato marinara sauce
- 1 whole-wheat English muffin, split and toasted
- 2 tablespoons shredded Italian cheese blend
- 2 slices pepperoni (optional)
- Preheat oven or toaster oven broiler.
- Coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add egg and cook, stirring often, until set into soft curds, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread marinara sauce on English muffin halves. Top with the scrambled egg, cheese and pepperoni (if using).
- Broil until the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes.
Nutrition Facts per Serving
Calories: 265, Carbohydrate: 30 grams, Fiber: 5 grams, Protein: 16 grams, Fat: 10 grams, Cholesterol: 223 mg
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Dietitian's Product Pick
Belly Fat Busters
It's that time of year again! Time for shorts and bathing suits and yes, losing the belly fat you found over the winter months. Amazingly enough, diet more than exercise can help bust the belly fat! Doing abs all day is not the answer, but improving the quality of your diet is. Check out the Top 5 "belly fat busting foods" — and no, one of them is not 100 Calorie Pack Treats.
Belly Fat Buster No. 1: Healthy Fat: Almonds and Avocados
What?! Eat fat to burn fat? Yes! Almonds and avocados are a monounsaturated fat and a good source of fiber making them heart healthy. In addition, fat increases satiety so having a handful of almonds or part of an avocado will help you stay full longer. Be careful not to eat salted or honey roasted nuts as those provide my sugar and sodium and try adding ¼ avocado to your wrap, salad or egg white omelet and see for yourself!
Belly Fat Buster No. 2: Beans
Low-calorie and rich in protein and fiber is the bean family. Beans provide a rich source of plant based protein without all the fat typically found in animal proteins. Use beans in a whole wheat burrito, as a protein rich starch at dinner or mixed in a salad, and find your meal nutrient-rich and satisfying!
Belly Fat Buster No. 3: Dairy
Rich in calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium...need I go on? Choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy foods can help with fat loss. The protein content of milk helps satisfy people's appetite so add milk, yogurt, 2 percent cheese or cottage cheese to your next meal or snack and watch the pounds start to melt away!
Belly Fat Buster No. 4: Lean Meat
Protein takes the longest to digest in the body and thus gets you full faster and keeps you full longer than carbohydrates. Lean beef, chicken without the skin and turkey are great sources of protein at a meal or snack, but to increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake, try salmon or tuna. Your heart will thank you!
Belly Fat Buster No. 5: Oatmeal
Topping the whole grains chart is oatmeal. Rich in fiber, oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast as it will keep you full and provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals like B-vitamins. Be sure to choose steel cut or rolled oats without added sugar. Sweeten up your oatmeal with berries, honey or even some natural peanut butter!
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Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Executive Health Program
1325 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 50
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
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