Friday, May 30, 2014

Protein: Eat 30 grams for breakfast, and lunch!

EAT 30 GRAMS OF PROTEIN WITH BREAKFAST, according to researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston - and as our patients know, we couldn't agree more.   Our patients hear this from us so often, they probably mumble it in their sleep!  Previous research has shown that proper amounts of protein can help raise our metabolism, calm our hunger, keep us more awake and alert, and keep our blood sugar stable throughout the day.  

The latest research published May 20 in the Journal of Nutrition  notes that most Americans eat too little  protein at breakfast and lunch, and too much at dinner.  If we increase our protein at breakfast to 30 grams,  and lunch to 30 grams, muscle protein synthesis improves by 25 %.  More muscle means better metabolism, of course.  
According to muscle metabolism expert Doug Paddon-Jones, "we're not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we're often taking in more than we can use. We run the risk of having this excess oxidized and ending up as glucose or fat."

In other words, if we eat too little protein in the morning, and throughout the day, and wait until the end of the day to gorge on it, we cannot build muscle as well - AND end up storing the excess evening calories as fat.  Less muscle + more fat = BAD.  

So be sure to start your day with adequate protein - and keep up with the proper amounts of protein throughout the day.  If you need help figuring out how to do this, call us!  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Can You Lose Weight Just By Walking? Dr. Yoni Freedhoff speaks

Can You Lose Weight Just By Walking?  
I just saw this great article by Canadian weight loss expert Dr. Yoni Freedoff:
The gist of the article:  weight loss comes through dietary change, NOT really through walking - although walking helps keep metabolism stronger, arteries, heart and mind healthier, helps ward off depression, controls blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, helps ward off chronic aches and pains, improves sleep, and more - so do it anyway!

From the article:
"To help appreciate those numbers, the meta-analysis’ authors put them into perspective and state that for every 10.5 additional miles you walk, you might expect to lose a hair over 1/10 of one pound. Putting this another way, if you walk an extra 1.5 miles each and every day, you might expect that after 10 weeks of not missing a single walk, you’ll have lost a single pound – or that at the end of the year, your 547.5 miles of hiking will have lost you 5 pounds. "

But exercise also helps preserve your muscles while you lose fat (if you don't exercise during weight loss, you will lose more muscle along with losing fat - and we want to save our muscle!) During weight loss, exercise keeps your metabolism up, and helps you stay strong (in addition to the other health benefits I listed earlier.)  

Exercise also seems to be a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to MAINTAINING weight, after weight loss - according the National Weight Control Registry, over 90% of people who lose weight AND KEEP IT OFF exercise almost every day - and their most common form of exercise is walking.

"94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking."

So, to repeat, walk for health, and walk to maintain weight loss, just don't be upset that walking all by itself, without changing your diet, does not give much weight loss. Exercise is 'necessary but not sufficient' to maintain a healthy weight!  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More on Dr. Ludwig's Research - or Why It's So Hard to Lose Weight!

Have you ever wondered why it's so hard to lose weight, and keep it off?  Well, it turns out there are very good reasons it is so hard - research shows that our body FIGHTS to gain weight back, after we lose it. (Check out this research, and I'll try to 'translate it into English below): 

Dr. David Ludwig and his colleagues wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times this past Sunday, citing their recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (I blogged about this on Monday.)  The long and short of the article is that weight loss and maintenance is not generally achieved merely by counting calories; if we are to succeed, we need to carefully design our food environment so that we are not constantly eating highly processed carbohydrates.  Processed/high glycemic index carbohydrates can trigger increased hunger, and can actually slow our metabolism down.  The typical American 'food environment' is actually the perfect storm if we want to become overweight or obese as a population - and we are.  It's not a matter of willpower, it's more a matter of biology.  

From his JAMA article:  
"studies demonstrate that changes in energy balance produce biological adaptations that antagonize ongoing weight loss or gain. For instance, in a study in which 41 lean or obese research participants were underfed or overfed to achieve 10% to 20% weight change, energy expenditure decreased or increased, respectively.3 These metabolic responses and reciprocal changes in hunger serve to defend baseline body weight."  

In other words, 'once you buy a fat cell, you own the fat cell' - and your body tries to keep the fat cell plump and filled, and if you try to shrink the fat cell, your body will release chemicals and hormones which make you feel hungry and think  about food all the time, AND your body will slow down it's Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - will actually make your metabolism slower.  That can be VERY frustrating, and sounds hopeless, but the good news is, we know how to fight back.  We can 'outsmart' our biology to some degree, if we carefully chose a balance of foods which help us feel more full on fewer calories (by raising our protein and controlling our carbohydrates, raising fiber intake, and choosing 'good fats' in moderation, and limiting 'bad fats' which worsen hunger AND inflammation.)  

If that sounds hard to do - trying to create a healthy balanced diet, with the right amount of calories as well as the right kinds of food, at the right time - well, you're right, it can be hard!  Not to toot our own horn, but this is what we help people do at our clinic, every day.  It can be overwhelming to try to set up a healthy food program all on your own, without help, and can be very hard to stay on it, or get back on track if you 'fall off the wagon', all on your own.  Our patients are often very relieved how EASY it is to get on track - or get back on track after a slip - with a little sit-down  chat, some problem-solving, some support, and an empathetic ear!  Our goal is to help patients set up their own environments so that 'the healthy choice is the easy choice' - so that in moments of weakness, or exhaustion, or stress, we are surrounded by HEALTHY choices, not junky carbs which can throw us off the wagon, and set off rebound hunger, and slow our metabolism.  Don't feel bad if you need help - research from the National Weight Control Registry shows that the majority of people who lose weight and keep weight off DO have help.

Monday, May 19, 2014

All Calories are NOT Equal - Dr. David Ludwig Strikes Again!

This is not news to any of our patients - that all calories are NOT equal!  Every day we teach our patients about the importance of balancing PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, and GOOD FATS, to improve SATIETY (fullness and satisfaction), speed up metabolism (Basal Metabolic Rate/BMR), stabilize blood sugar (creating a Low Glycemic effect by proper balancing of macronutrients), lower inflammation in the bloodstream - and more!

But its nice to see that these concepts are getting a little press, through the New York Times article yesterday, featuring a favorite colleague - Dr. David Ludwig.  Read the article here:

I was happy to see the article mentioned on Good Morning America, as well.

A key concept is that losing weight, and maintaining weight loss, is not 'just about the calories' - in fact, if we ONLY cut calories, and do not change WHAT we eat - then our bodies and brains will not  be able to maintain weight loss!  If we eat excess carbs (especially processed, high glycemic carbs) , and we fail to eat enough clean, lean protein, and 'good fats', then our METABOLISM WILL SLOW, and our APPETITE WILL INCREASE.

In other words, if we don't change the QUALITY of our diets, along with the QUANTITY of calories, our body and mind will not be able to keep weight down.  Studies have shown that it's also not just a matter of improving the quality of the carbs (changing to healthier, 'low glycemic' carbs), but we will also be more successful if we have adequate protein in our diets (protein when added to a meal or snack tends to help our blood sugar stay 'smoother' after we eat - which keeps us full, and keeps metabolism faster.)

From the NYT article:  "As it turns out, many biological factors affect the storage of calories in fat cells, including genetics, levels of physical activity, sleep and stress. But one has an indisputably dominant role: the hormone insulin. We know that excess insulin treatment for diabetes causes weight gain, and...of everything we eat, highly refined and rapidly digestible carbohydrates produce the most insulin... the American diet has increased insulin levels, put fat cells into storage overdrive and elicited obesity-promoting biological responses in a large number of people. "

I'll post more later on the research - but search my blog, and you'll see we've addressed this before!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Have you heard of the DIRTY DOZEN? How about the CLEAN FIFTEEN? If you're heading to the Farmer's Market, read on...

So, who are the Dirty Dozen, and why should we be concerned about them?  And who are the Clean Fifteen, and how can they help us out in a pinch?  Hint -if you're heading to the Farmer's Market this weekend, how do you know if you REALLY need to purchase organic fruits and vegetables - and what do you do if you can't afford to buy everything organic?  Wouldn't it be nice to have a SIMPLE LIST which guides us?  Turns out there IS such a list!  You can get it here:

For years, the Environmental Working Group has been studying fruits and vegetables to see how much pesticide remains in them AFTER proper washing (and peeling, for fruits such as bananas.)  It turns out that some fruits and vegetables have  high levels of pesticide, despite our best efforts to scrub our produce!  Luckily for us, the EWG publishes a list every year, with updated research, which tells us which non-organic produce is 'dirtiest' - the Dirty Dozen - and which produce is relatively clean - the Clean Fifteen.  When you purchase produce on the Dirty Dozen list, it makes sense to purchase ORGANIC versions of those, to minimize exposure to pesticide.  When you purchase produce on the Clean Fifteen list, you don't have to be QUITE as careful - if you need to, you can buy non-organic versions of these, and still have minimal pesticide exposure.

Why is this important?  Pesticide exposure has been linked to ADHD in children:

"Children with substantially higher levels of a breakdown product of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. The university researchers conclude that parents should buy organic for their kids..."It's mainly exposure through food. Diet is the driver," says pediatrician and public health expert Phil Landrigan, MD, professor and chair of the department of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "For most people, diet is the predominant source. It's been shown that people who switch to an organic diet knock down the levels of pesticide by-products in their urine by 85 to 90 percentNumerous other researchers stress the importance of women eating organic at least six months before conception and throughout pregnancy, too.”

And pesticides have been linked to autoimmune disorders (and a new report shows autoimmune disorders have dramatically increased.) 

"Frequent or extended exposure to pesticides may increase the risk for developing autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the results of a longterm follow-up study of thousands of postmenopausal women."  

And pesticides have been linked to many other health problems:

"In a number of medical studies, pesticide exposure has been linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, autism and endometriosis…."The USDA washes and peels the produce items that it tests and they still find pesticide residues on 65 percent of the samples," Alex Formuzis, vice president of EWG, told CBS News….Here is the Environmental Working Group's list of the "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables (buy these organic):

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas
  12. Potatoes
So, when you're heading out to get your fantastic fresh fruits and vegetables this weekend, keep the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen in mind!  Better yet, print out the list, and bring it with you!  Remember, buy the Dirty Dozen in the ORGANIC version!