Category Archives: The Nonsense We Hear!

Follow me at my new site . . .

Just wanted to post another invitation to follow me at my new website, lmwellness.com.  I notice that there are still a number of people who are visiting this site (kimthedietitian.com), yet I have not posted in many months.  I fear they must think I am lazy!  Not so.  I have just been posting in a different place.  Join me there!

Need Help Evaluating Weight Loss Product Claims?

It would be really, really, REALLY great if a weight loss product actually did what it promises.  There are few other products – erectile dysfunction products come to mind – that create such . . . um, high . . . expectations.

A list of guidelines for evaluating the claims for the many weight loss products on the market would be so helpful, and that is exactly what I found.  Developed by the Federal Trade Commission (Try their quick quiz), the Seven “Gut Check” Claims have been adapted for publication in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The following seven claims are worth noting and using to avoid unrealistic expectations – and wasted time and effort.  

1.Causes weight loss of 2 lb or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.

Gut check: Meaningful weight loss requires taking in fewer calories than you use. It’s that simple. But it’s also that difficult for people trying to shed pounds. That means ads promising substantial weight loss without diet or exercise are false. And ads suggesting that users can lose weight fast without changing their lifestyles—even without mentioning a specific amount of weight or length of time—are false, too. Some ads might try a subtler approach, say, by referring to change in dress size or lost inches, but the effect is the same.
2.Causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats.

Gut check: It’s impossible to eat unlimited amounts of food—any kind of food—and still lose weight. It’s a matter of science: To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. To achieve success, dieters have to put the brakes on at the dinner table. If an ad says users can eat any amount of any kind of food they want and still lose weight, the claim is false.
3.Causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product.

Gut check: Without long-term lifestyle changes—like continuing to make sensible food choices and upping the activity level—weight loss won’t last once consumers stop using the product. Even if dieters succeed in dropping pounds, maintaining weight loss requires lifelong effort.
4.Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.

Gut check: Without lifestyle changes, no over-the-counter product can block enough fat or calories to cause the loss of lots of weight. To work, even legitimate “fat blockers” must be used with a reduced-calorie diet.
5.Safely enables consumers to lose more than 3 lb per week for more than 4 weeks.

Gut check: Medical experts agree: Losing more than 3 lb a week over multiple weeks can result in gallstones and other health complications. So if an ad says dieters can safely and quickly lose a dramatic amount of weight on their own, it’s false.
6.Causes substantial weight loss for all users.

Gut check: People’s metabolisms and lifestyles are different. So is how they’ll respond to any particular weight-loss product. The upshot: No product will cause every user to drop a substantial amount of weight. Any ad that makes a universal promise of success is false.
7.Causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

Gut check: Weight loss is an internal metabolic process. Nothing you wear or apply to the skin can cause substantial weight loss. So weight-loss claims for patches, creams, lotions, wraps, body belts, earrings, and the like are false. There’s simply no way products like that can live up to what the ads say.

 

Body Weight + Water Consumed = Body Weight + Weight of the Water Consumed

It doesn’t matter how many times I say this.  It is not always obvious that the weight of what you put into your body will increase you weight by that same amount.  If you weigh yourself after drinking a 1 pound (16-ounce) bottle of water, guess what?  You will weigh 1 pound more than you did before you drank it.

One of my group members needed to prove this for herself.  At the end of our meeting, after finishing her water bottle, she stepped on the scale and . . . her weight had increased by the weight of the water she drank during our time together.  Even after hearing the logic, she still needed to see it.  When she did, she was still surprised.  We had a good laugh, and it made an impression.

This is important to remember.  It is not that I want everyone to make sure they don’t eat or drink anything for hours before they weigh in.  I just want them to UNDERSTAND what is being weighed on the scale.  Yes, it weighs your fat stores, but it also weighs your fluids, any food that has not yet finished the digestive process, clothes, glasses, watches, . . .

Body weight “wiggles”.  It drives many people crazy.  If you cannot stand the wiggle, please don’t weigh yourself too often.  Even though I have hopefully convinced you that weight does normally wiggle, many people will still be emotionally affected by the number.  It is just so darned . . . hmm . . . factual.  But what is the “fact”?  All it really means is that you weigh that number at that time, with those clothes, after a certain amount of time since you last ate or drank, etc.

There are lots of things that wiggle more than  the weight of your fat stores, and all of those things will make it more difficult to see what your fat stores are actually doing.  Over time the trend will make sense.  If you improve your habits over time, the wiggle will simply wiggle at a lower weight range.

Sorry, black and white thinkers.  I know this is a difficult concept for you!

Do we really need a gluten-free Twinkie?!

What next?!  I just read an article debating whether or not food manufacturers should develop a gluten-free Twinkie.  Does anyone else find this completely ridiculous . . . or is it just me?

The Magic Bullet is HERE!! (on second thought . . . )

I had a weak moment this morning.  I confess that for an instant I considered spending a good chunk of change (more like wad of dollars!) on a beauty “miracle”.  I got an e-mail ad from a skin care company, and they made some very enticing claims.  They promised to minimize my pores, tighten and de-wrinkle my skin, add a youthful glow . . . and on and on. Continue reading

“To Lose the Weight, Eat Food You Like”, and Other Nonsense

When you’re in a hurry, take your time.

Slow and steady wins the race.

To lose the weight, eat food you like.

Do these statements seem illogical?  If many of us are honest, the answer is “yes!”.

“Take my time when I’m in a hurry?!  Are you kidding?  I need to rush.”  Moving in overdrive may seem to make more sense when time is tight, but think about it for a moment.  I have.

I remind myself every time I am hurrying to put makeup on before rushing out the door – Kim, slow down or you will be walking around with mascara on your cheek and lipstick on your teeth (not a good look).  After a couple of re-do’s that cost me many unavailable minutes, I have learned to repeat to myself, “When you’re in a hurry, take your time.”  The end result is less like a 5-year-old playing dress up, and more like a professional heading out to work.

It is equally unnatural to tame the desire to overachieve, to “win the race” – defined (by me) as forcing quick lifestyle changes that require more deliberate “slow and steady” practice to become permanent.   The overachiever mentality runs rampant in the diet world.  There are plenty of enticements to lose it quick, and that is very tempting.

The fact is that the tortoise beat the speedy hare, and the same principle applies to changing habits.  Be patient!  It may not make immediate sense, but more realistic changes will put you ahead in the long run.

By now you have figured out that I do not really think that eating food you like is nonsense either – quite the opposite, in fact.  Food has to provide a certain amount of satisfaction to meet overall needs.  Most of us realize that physical hunger needs to be fed, but the need for pleasure from food is not as well understood by the dieting population.

The brain likes rewards – in all areas of life – and food that feels boring and bland will only be tolerable for a short time before more interesting alternatives take their place.  The more boring the food, the more taste-stimulating the “exceptions” are likely to be.  Consistency is more likely when eating is infused with a moderate amount of pleasure.

For most people, pleasure and health are not mutually exclusive.  Healthy food can certainly taste good too.  The bigger problem arises when emotional needs for reward or pleasure become tightly connected with food over time.  The habits that form as a result can be difficult to break.

But that is for a future post.  That will be a LONG one!

More Nutrition Confusion: Skip Breakfast?

If you forget to feed me breakfast, you’d better hide your sandwich.

Skip breakfast and feel more mental clarity, lose fat better, live longer?  Huh?!  Haven’t we all been told that people who eat breakfast supposedly live longer.  I also read a recent study that found men to be 20% more likely to develop diabetes if they are habitual breakfast skippers.  I also have believed – based on studies and my own experience – that skipping breakfast does NOT make my head clearer, but instead makes it hard to focus.

But here I am, looking at an article in my husband’s latest Men’s Journal making a case for regular fasting, every day or several times a week for time periods of 24 hours, plus or minus.  “Skip breakfast, feel better”, the magazine cover teases.

Proponents claim that you will burn more fat by using ketones for fuel instead of carbohydrates.  Some of them even recommend exercising in this state of temporary starvation.

I must admit that my brain started bouncing back and forth between these two very different viewpoints, until I stepped back a little to see the big picture – always a much more valuable outlook.

How the science will shake out on the topic is yet to be revealed.  There are studies and experts on both sides.  What I know is that any of the proposed methods suggested in the article would be very difficult for any of my weight loss clients, as well as for myself.

The methods used by those who were interviewed for the article are:

1.  Mark Mattson (“The Alzheimer’s Expert”):  No breakfast or lunch Monday through Friday, while working out 4 of those days.  (My note:  Most people I know binge when they go this long without food, with or without exercise.)

2. John Olson (“The NASA Guy”):   ” . . . normal diet on all days except Tuesday and Wednesday.  Then I limit myself to about 600 calories per day . . . . ”  (My note:  Talk about setting yourself up for a binge and food obsession!)

3.  Valter Longo (“The Cancer Expert”):  “I don’t eat lunch – that’s how I keep my weight in place.  My diet is mostly vegan with low protein.”  (My note:  You keep your weight in place by eating fewer calories than you burn.)

4. Brad Pilon (“Intermittent-Fasting Guru”):  “The way to make fasting work for the masses is to do 24-hour fasts.  It’s easy to remember:  ‘I stopped eating at 2pm today, and I can start again at 2pm tomorrow.’  My program is composed of two 24-hour fasts a week . . . . ”  (My note:  Really?  This is a fast for the masses?  It may be easy to remember when to eat, but how easy is it to do that twice every week?!)

5.  Mark Sisson (“The Paleo Guy”):  Most days, I simply have a compressed eating window.  I eat two meals a day, generally between 12pm and 7pm.  Since I train at 9:30 most mornings, I train in a fasted state and don’t eat for a few hours afterward.”  (My note:  This would probably be easier for me to do than the other methods mentioned, although still far from easy.  I think many people would still be prone to overeating after fasting until noon, unless they consistently wake up late.)

I think it’s great when anyone finds something that works for them and is healthy, but  I don’t think we can definitively say whether or not the intermittent fasters have discovered a healthier way to eat.  Even if we could, this would still be unrealistic and unsuccessful for most people battling extra fat.   Research suggests that overweight people may have exaggerated hunger already.  Hardly a plan for the masses!

This reminds me of the people who deliberately eat significantly fewer calories than they need everyday in order to live longer.  While studies make a case for increasing longevity by doing this, it is clear – at least to me – that this is not a way most people would choose to live.  Starvation – temporary or more permanent – leads to overeating.  This is what I observe, and this is what leads me away from recommending anything too extreme.

How many times a day should you eat?  The answer is not simple.  My personal belief is that 2 times is too few and more than 5 or 6 is not usually necessary or helpful.