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. 


Great website for healthy-living resources

I felt the need this week to highlight Nutritional Weight and Wellness's new website. It is such an unbelievably helpful resource if you are seeking weight loss and good health. You can access articles, podcasts, and videos on a wide range of health topics with a simple search. You get all content related to that topic in one place. I have a friend struggling with Fibromyalgia, and this will be a great resource for him.

The recipes have all been re-organized and have lovely photos with them. I have a pot of the Chicken Wild Rice Soup simmering on the stove right now! It is a complete and balanced meal that will help me lose weight.

Wild rice soup

Chicken wild rice soup made from recipe on NWW site

If you haven't already, check out this fabulous resource for health. Well done!

 

 


On Dishing Up Nutrition: Hidden habits that sabotage weight loss

I was on Dishing Up Nutrition this past Saturday talking about habits that hold back weight loss. You can listen here or download the show from iTunes. We talked about a lot habits that keep us from reaching our weight loss goals, including “closet eating” episodes like wolfing down a bag of M&Ms in the Menard's parking lost. It was a great show, and I hope you enjoy it!

 


2 great bags for transporting all the food you need to be healthy

One of my biggest struggles I have with eating real food, in balance (aside from all the planning and prep), is transporting food to work, events, etc. I also bring a huge container of water to work every day, which adds to the problem. Most insulated bags do not have the space or strength to contend with the number meals and snacks that I have to carry around. Until now!

2 great bags from Whole Foods

I stumbled upon two of the most well-designed insulated bags at Whole Foods the other day (believe me, I've gone through many in my day): the insulated messenger bag and the square insulated bag.

Insulated bags from Whole Foods

Insulated bags from Whole Foods

They have nice wide straps that make carrying even the heaviest loads more comfortable. The square bag is smaller than the messenger bag, but it can carry a lot because it doesn't taper at the top like most bags. I use two ice blocks in the large bag and one in the smaller bag to keep stuff cold.

And what's best–I just saw that they have new colors. So you fashion-conscious people can get the bags in berry and blue or whatever color will match your outfit!

What's your favorite tip for transporting real food? 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!

Two hours of cooking made fun with recipe, music apps

I get many questions from people about how I maintain my 90-pound weight loss, and even better, lose weight. It's pretty simple and a bit boring–I plan, plan, plan, then cook, cook, cook. The key to my having healthy carbs, fats, and proteins at the ready is my weekly two-hour cooking session. Here's what I made today.

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, and healthy sloppy joes

Wild rice meatballs, salmon patties, healthy sloppy joes, cranberry wild rice salad, and zucchini supreme

I will use the food from these recipes to make: meals for my family, my son's lunches, my husband's snacks, and my ample snacks and meals (remember, I eat 5-6 times a day to keep my blood sugar balanced–the best way to lose weight for the long term).

How I make it fun and easy: apps, podcasts, music

Seems like a tall order–making food prep and cooking a fun activity and not a chore–since I have a long list of things I'd rather do. I use Paprika, an iPad/iPhone recipe manager app, to help me keep my recipes organized and easy to follow. I enter recipes into the app or load them from the browser, and then when I'm ready to shop I simply add the recipe to my grocery list. The app is also on my iPhone, which I use to shop and track what I buy.

I like to listen to nutrition podcasts while I cook (yes, I'm that much of a nutrition nerd). I use Downcast to download them and keep them all organized. If I'm in more of a music mood, I turn on the 70's station on Spotify.

Food planning is self care

This is what it all comes down to. When you make food that nourishes your body, you are caring for yourself and your family. I've found that unless it's fun, or at least enjoyable, I won't do it.

I hope you can use these tips and apps to inspire your self-care cooking session!

Have a favorite app that helps you plan? Share a comment now.

 


A book review for your health: Wheat Belly

For many months now I have been obsessed with how unhealthy everyone looks. It logically started when warm weather hit and I was at the pool a lot. I couldn't help but notice all of the teenage girls in bikinis, thin everywhere but a protruding stomach. And all of the men with large, very hard bellies. Or, shopping at Target and seeing so many people looking pale, tired and, well, very large. Having been overweight most of my life, I used to feel very alone. If I were obese now, I would have lots of company.
Which brings me to reknowned cardiologist Dr. William Davis's book, Wheat Belly. My interest in his book was piqued when I first heard him on Dishing Up Nutrition. When I read the book's intro, I was struck by his memory of when women and men, in the Mad Men era, were effortlessly thin. The most exercise he ever saw his size 4 mother do was vacuum the stairs. Women and men with large bellies were rare. He also remarks that today, even marathon runners and triathletes carry extra weight–America, where even the thin people are fat–and despite all of their working out can't maintain a healthy weight.
Apollo 11 Astronauts eating breakfast before launch in 1969
What's the difference between then and now? The abundance of wheat and “healthy whole grains” in our diets that's what. Look at this photo of the APOLLO 11 astronauts the morning before launch. They are eating steak and eggs (cooked in butter no doubt). The toast was likely an afterthought because they would have been so full from a protein and fat-rich breakfast. Bread was used like a condiment. Today, it is often the main course. And my guess is that these guys didn't work out nearly as strenuously as today's weekend warrior triathlete. And yet they are lean and healthy.
Dr. Davis asks, “Your dad called his rudimentary mid-twentieth-century equivalent a beer belly. But what are soccer moms, kids, and half of your friends and neighbors who don't drink beer doing with a beer belly?” He calls it a wheat belly, and it results from years of consuming foods that trigger insulin, the hormone that stores fat. He goes on to talk about how the negative effects of consuming wheat show up in every organ of the body, including the brain and skin.
I hope you check out the podcast and the book. I know so many people who are suffering needlessly because of gluten (the protein in wheat) intolerance, manifesting in joint deterioration, brain fog, obesity, and more. Remember Dr. Davis is a cardiologist, and he has observed amazing changes in people's health and improvement in heart disease at his practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I commend Dr. Davis for his book. Coming out against wheat and “healthy whole grains” (the food companies way of grasping at straws to make health claim) is sacrileage in this country. When I tell people that I don't eat wheat I get the “You're crazy” look or the “But, it's the staff of life!” comment. I have lost weight because of giving up wheat among other changes. I think when it comes to our health, we need to question what we are being told is healthy and stay open to changes that may scare us.