In the new year, beware of the weight-loss snake oil salesmen

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about her struggles with weight. She knows my story very well, and I have gone out of my way to encourage her to try a path similar to mine (work with a nutritionist, give yourself lots of time, focus on eating real foods in balance, etc.). She resists this path because she is on a quest that many of us are familiar with–the search for the quick fix to weight loss. She was telling me about how much weight she had gained, and that the Green Coffee Bean extract that she bought after seeing an episode of Dr. Oz hadn’t worked.

Her story made me so sad, and then mad. People make billions of dollars a year peddling this type of modern day snake oil to desperate people who have tried everything to lose weight. And in the first weeks of the new year, the advertising accelerates trying to capitalize on the guilt we feel after holiday indulgences. I used to be one of these people, chasing every fad diet and weight loss pill that promised quick and easy weight loss. A cruel promise because it offers hope but never delivers results.

I want you to be well informed about these products and their promises. So, I invited Brenna Thompson, registered and licensed dietitian with Nutritional Weight and Wellness and nutrition blogger (Eating Simple),  to give you some researched information on the topic.

Brenna Thompson, LD, RD comments on Dr. Oz and his weight loss supplement peddling

Dr. Oz is about as bad as a politician when it comes to health and wellness. One day he tells us a healthy diet is low in fat, the next day he invites Dr. William Davis on to discuss wheat and gluten, and then the next day he has a nutritionist touting the newest weight loss miracle pill. So which is it Dr. OZ, what is the ultimate secret to weight loss?  At this point I’m not sure even he knows.

Recently he spot-lighted the magical benefits of green coffee bean extract (GCBE). Supposedly, taking this supplement will melt away the pounds without having to change one’s diet or increasing exercise. Sounds too good to be true to me. However, unlike the famous

Dr. Oz promotes Rasberry Ketones as a quick fix weight loss solution

Dr. Oz promotes Rasberry Ketones as a quick fix weight loss solution

raspberry ketone show, there are a few studies, that have shown supplementing with GCBE may actually help people lose weight. Don’t get too excited just yet. The most recent study is very small (16 test subjects), who took a placebo, 700mg, 1050mg, for 6 weeks with 2 weeks between doses. Results showed an average weight loss of 6-10 pounds during the highest dose period. Unfortunately, there is no information on how long these people kept the weight off.

During the show, Dr. Oz went on and highlighted two audience members who took GCBE for 1 week. Both lost 2-5 pounds and stated that they had fewer cravings and more energy. But can we really trust them?  They’re on Dr. Oz!  Of course they’re going to say they felt great taking the supplement. In the words of Dr. House, “Everyone lies.”  The Dr. Oz Show Medical Unit went on and conducted its own larger study using 100 overweight women and found that after taking 400mg of GCBE for two weeks the GCBE group lost 2 pounds and the placebo group lost 1 pound. Both groups were told not to change their diets. So then how did the placebo group still manage to lose one pound?  Obviously this is not a very scientific study, and its results should not be trusted.

Currently no large, long-term studies have been performed on GCBE, so we don’t know how long a person can take it and possibly lose

Dr. Oz promises that Green Coffee Bean Extract will melt off pounds

Dr. Oz promises that Green Coffee Bean Extract will melt off pounds

weight. We also don’t know if there are any negative side effects from long term use. As usual, it doesn’t address the reason a person gained excess weight in the first place–poor diet habits. Sure people might lose weight, but they are not necessarily healthier. Body weight is not the problem, it is a symptom. Inevitably, once someone stops taking the supplement they will probably gain the weight right back.

For people willing to tune out Dr. Oz, long-term sustained weight-loss can be theirs. But it takes time and effort, and there are no magic pills. This year make a commitment to yourself. This year you are going to eat real foods. You are going to eat balanced meals and snacks and not starve yourself. This year you will stop believing in magic pills and quick fixes. This year you will begin believing in your own power to make good choices and to nourish your body. 


Thoughts on how to navigate Turkey Day (or Carb Fest 2012)

As we head into the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I am thinking about and planning for how I am going to enjoy the holiday without gorging on carbs. I just don't want to lose any more ground, as I try to maintain my weight loss (it has been a struggle the last few months). I have done well the last few major holidays, but Thanksgiving has always been a challenge for me. I just love the food combinations present: sweet jellied cranberries with savory turkey; stuffing and mashed potatoes; and you all know my weakness for pie! I also got a question from a woman in my Nutrition for Weight Loss class about how to gracefully pass on the high-carb and gluten-ey items (she is gluten and dairy free, as am I).
Turkey

I double up on turkey and pass on the rolls.

So there are many pitfalls for us who are trying to eat real foods in balance, while watching the carbohydrates, to lose weight. Here are some things I do to handle the food choices gracefully:
  • Unless you have interfering aunts, or an overly-watchful mother, no one really notices what you're putting on your plate. Don't put anything on your plate to satisfy someone else (easier said than done, I know). For the interfering relatives, you can but out the old fashioned, “I'm watching my figure!” Works every time.
  • I typically double up on turkey, take a small amount of mashed potatoes, and load up on green veggies. I do have cranberries with my turkey. If I stick to this, I don't have the normal bloated, tired feeling after the meal.
  • Dessert is a mine field. I love pie, and there are usually five different kinds to choose from. I leave it to the day to decide if I will have a small piece. I gauge how I am feeling and whether or not I will feel too deprived if I pass on it. Usually, if I can get a nice cup of coffee with real whipping cream I am fine. Otherwise, I go for it. I just insist on a pie made with butter and not hydrogenated oils.

Have a favorite tip for eating during the holidays? Leave a comment.

 

 

 


Blue Cross ads aimed at obesity: mean or necessary?

I am a little late to the party commenting on these Blue Cross Minnesota ads that address the obesity epidemic. First, a couple of statistics:

  • By 2019 obesity will become the leading cause of death.
  • By 2030 50% of Minnesotans will be obese.

In the face of these terrifying numbers, you can see how it seems like a good idea to highlight food choices and how these choices look to our kids. These ads have been roundly criticized for being too shaming and down right mean. See for yourself.


I think the ads would be appropriate if we had a consistent and coherent message about what people need to do to lose weight; if the people in the commercials knew better, they could do better. But we don’t have these consistent messages. We live in the land of “calories in, calories out,” “Move more!” and other overly simplistic maxims about how to lose weight. We also live in a land where heavily-subsidized foods (corn, soy) are promoted as healthy,  but they are making us fat.

It’s all about cravings

Anyone who reads this blog, and who is trying lose weight differently (something other than a one-size-fits-all diet), knows that losing weight takes more than this overly simplistic advice leads us to believe.  If we truly want to help people, like the ones in these ads, make better choices, we need to shake off the overly simplistic advice and get real about what it takes to lose weight for the LONG TERM. Until we address the issue of people’s biochemical cravings for the bad stuff, people cannot lose weight. If we are relying on people’s will power to lose weight, which much of the advice does, they will fail over and over like I did for 30 years. No number of ads will change that.

What are your thoughts on the ads? Leave a  comment.


Reader Q and A: Post cruise weight loss slump

I have wonderful readers. This week, I wanted to feature a question I got from Jane, and my response. I thought many of you could relate to her question and my response.

Feet on a scale

Question from Jane

Back in April I attended your “Get Inspired” session at Nutrional Weight and Wellness in St. Paul; I was so inspired by your story.  I follow your blog and have been following the NWW plan since December 2011.  In the last couple of months I’ve been having a much harder time staying on plan and staying focused.  I was doing really well until July when my husband and I went on a cruise since then I’ve had a terrible time getting back on track and I’ve put on weight and feel so yucky!
I’ve been meaning to email you for months to ask how you do it?  How do you stay on plan and focused?  And when you were losing your weight did you have to be perfect all the time, or could you have the occasional slip but get back on plan and continue to lose weight?  At times I still worry that I’m eating too much fat, but then remember what I’ve learned and resolve not to cut back, but when I don’t lose I worry that that may be the culprit!  Before our trip I noticed that my body felt so good and looked good, but hadn’t really lost weight or inches.
Since we’ve come home and I’m not following like I was I’ve gained both inches and weight!  I’m so frustrated and thought maybe you’d have some quick advice for me.
Thank you so much for any help you could offer.

My answer

I am so glad you wrote. It’s such a struggle sometimes, isn’t it? Believe me, over the last four years I’ve gone through it all. And I am still going through it. I am working on losing the 10 pounds I gained in 10 days in Paris! My body is getting more and more fussy when I go off plan.
I absolutely was not perfect when I was losing the 90 pounds. I think I was on plan about 90% of the time. It was when I tried to be perfect that I slipped up most often. When I gave myself permission to be flexible and try my best, I did much better than aiming and missing for perfection. I found that over time, I was able to minimize the damage from those slip ups, and they didn’t matter as much.
It sounds like you are where I was at the end of my first year. The year that I didn’t lose one pound. I also wasn’t following the plan but for 40% of the time. I was still sliding into fast food drive ups and getting M&Ms at the checkout of Menard’s. I needed that year to get used to this way of eating. I know some people change overnight. I took a year to get ready for the change–I see this now in hindsight.
My body also needed that year to heal my metabolism. After all, I had been on a one woman mission to destroy it for the previous 25 years, with diets and bad food.
The fat (butter, coconut oil, olive oil) is key to getting your cravings under control. If you don’t have the fat, you are going to crave the bad stuff (donuts, bread, grains, etc.–the stuff that makes you fat).
Lately, my cravings have been SO calm. I really do have a “take it or leave it” attitude toward carbs and sweets. Why? I think it is my pre-meal cocktail (3 times a day that is):

I also am getting all my meals and snacks in so I am not hungry. I have been doing this ever since I got back from Paris–when I went on a bread and beer binge–and my cravings have never been quieter. Now that my cravings are quiet, I can focus on getting good food, and I am SLOWLY losing those 10 pounds. I asked my nutritionist  about this and she told be that glutamine works so well for cravings because it is the only amino acid that the brain can use to make glucose. So, with your brain getting the glucose it needs from the amino acid, you don’t crave bread. It also heals your gut, which is key to metabolism and weight loss.

I hope this helps you re-ignite your efforts. I was totally hopeless after trying to do this for a year in 2008. In 2009, I really decided to eat this way most of the time. I started doing yoga and walking more, and things started happening. And they can happen for you too!
I will answer your questions, too. Just leave a comment!

3 recipes to rev up your metabolism

Sweet potatoes roasted with coconut oil and sea salt

For the past two months, I have been training to be a nutrition educator. I am learning so much about nutrition and how to help people make changes in their eating. Part of my training is to observe other teachers. One of my teacher trainers, Angela, is simply masterful at connecting with her students and meeting them where they are. One of the things she reminded me of this week is that “people just want to know what to do and what to eat.”

So, I am going to get very practical this week and give you three of my favorite recipes–recipes that will rev up your metabolism and help you lose weight. You can combine these into a meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This meal is a perfect balance of protein, healthy carbs, and fat–what you need for a healthy metabolism.

  • Crispy sweet potatoes (this is one Angela gives out to her classes): Slice a bunch of sweet potatoes and put on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (makes clean up easy). Coat them with coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. I eat a half a cup of these with this meal.
  • Salmon cakes: These are awesome. A great way to get some omega 3s while getting protein.
  • Spinach with red pepper flakes: This one is easy. Cook up a couple large handfuls of fresh spinach in butter or coconut oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes. Done!

I use a half a tablespoon of organic ketchup with the “fries” to get the full experience of an old unhealthy favorite.

How do you plate up a healthy meal? Leave a comment.


Reader Q and A: Why is NOTHING happening with my weight

I have wonderful readers. This week, I wanted to feature a question I got from Linda, and my not so polished response. I thought many of you could relate to her question and my response.

Feet on a scale

 

Question from Linda

I finally had a phone consultation [with a nutritionist at Nutritional Weight and Wellness] 3 weeks ago. So, I’ve been ‘working the program’ and so far, I do not see any results. I had actually been following along since February and saw no big weight drop, so that’s why I decided to finally go for it and have a consult.

I haven’t eaten bread or flour since the middle of February and I truly expected to see something happening. My weight keeps going up and down the same 5 to 7 pounds it’s been bouncing for the last two years! We eliminated dairy, too. BUT this is where I need to ask a question. Do you totally eliminate dairy or do you use any yogurt or cottage cheese? I stopped eating any sliced or shredded cheese, but I sorely miss my Greek yogurt. I tried making my smoothies without it, but I miss it and I loved that it is so packed with protein.

I can’t tolerate milk – but not yogurt or cheese, so we thought eliminating it would be a good idea to test out a dairy intolerance. I see no change. I talk with Cassie again next week, but I am really stumped as to why I am not losing weight. Funny thing is, my clothes fit better or are loose. It’s crazy!

I’m kind of disappointed because I feel that I have really worked hard and have eliminated a lot from my diet. Anyway, next week I will definitely be working this out with my nutritionist. The ONLY thing I can think of is that I use cream in my coffee and now I’m even cutting back on that. Do you drink any coffee or tea with cream?

Call me frustrated.

My answer

You are not alone. I went ONE FULL YEAR before anything happened eating this way. One full year. I am not saying that this will happen to you, but it really does take time for your metabolism to heal (at first when Kara told me this “healing” stuff, I thought it was BS; but it is true). In fact, Dr. Schwarzbein says, “You have to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy.” It is really true. Our bodies are conservative systems, and they need time to “get on track.”

So, it is no surprise to me that you are getting these results (no weight loss, but clothes that fit better). I have been through this very cycle about 5 times. I have just come through a really sticky one that went on and on for a year! Same 10 pounds just not budging. Now, things are happening. This is why quick-fix diets are so enticing and addictive. They really get you hooked on the process of quick weight loss in those first few weeks, but then fail in the long term. This one takes time to get going, no way around that, but really works in the long term.

As for the dairy, I moved away from everything, including yogurt. I would ask your nutritionist about the greek yogurt. I know the goat milk stuff doesn’t contain the hormone that can cause weight gain. So, maybe that kind would work for you. I still eat goat cheese even though I am dairy free.

Now cream is considered a fat, not dairy. So, I still have whipped cream and full fat cream in my coffee. So, don’t worry about that.

One thing to do, is verify with your nutritionist that she is giving you the Nutrition 4 Weight loss eating plan. It is slightly less fat than their regular plan. The idea being that a bit less fat frees up the liver to metabolize more of your body fat (I think this is how it works).

Also, I am gluten-free. If you haven’t gotten rid of the grains, this could be just the trick. Did you hear the Dishing Up Nutrition podcast from this past week with the doctor who wrote “Wheat Belly”? It was really interesting. He talks about the amazing weight loss from people who have given up wheat and other troublesome grains.

 


Low carb recipe site review

I have been speaking to groups of people about my story. They are taking the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series at Nutritional Weight and Wellness (weightandwellness.com). I always try to give them some practical information about how to eat and keep the food interesting. Anyone who has tried to change their nutrition knows how difficult this can be in our food culture (the pan of brownies at your work snack table may look more interesting than that hard boiled egg and celery!). I know. I feel like I am talking to myself about this all day long, because the society I live in does not value healthful eating.

So on that note, I have a great recipe site to share with you. Theroadfromfattofit.blogspot.com offers many great low carb recipes, and better yet, she takes your old high carb favorites and offers low carb versions (pizza with a meat crust!). She also takes great photos of ingredients and each step of the process. I so appreciate the work involved in this illustration. I have tried many of the recipes, and they have been delicious. The blog offers a crock pot recipes as well.

Check it out. Tell me about a favorite recipe site you have used!

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Chicken and bacon crock pot stew