Friday, July 31, 2009

How Much Weight Can I Lose By Not Eating For a Month?

How much weight can you lose by not eating for a month? What Gotchas should I be aware of? Would you consider giving me a couple pointers? I am very grateful for your help. yours truly, Julie

Dear Julie,
Depending on your height and weight you could lose 15-25 pounds in a month by not eating.

The "gotchas" are, you are losing muscle weight, not just fat, and that doesn't just mean your biceps, it means your organs. People have died dieting because they lost too much of their heart tissue (remember Karen Carpenter? If not, look her up)
Fast weight loss also includes water loss, which is not desirable (what you really want to lose is FAT, right?) and can lead to dehydration complications.

By not eating you are starving yourself (people die like this) and depriving your body of all the nutrients you need to live--not just vitamins that you can take in pills, but carbohydrates that give your body energy, essential fatty acids that help keep your cells healthy, and protein that keeps your tissues and immune system going.

You will be one sickly person if you try not eating for a month, with hair falling out, possible bleeding gums, rashes, diarrhea, weak bones, and assorted other symptoms from multiple deficiencies.... my pointers are to take it slow.
Eat a bit less every day and move a bit more.... what is your hurry to lose weight? You can't expect it to come off more quickly than it came on. Try to establish some healthy eating habits for life and focus on being healthy instead of skinny.
The food guide pyramid website has some great and easy tools to use as guidelines at

If you are seriously preoccupied with trying not to eat for a month, consider the fact that you might be suffering from some type of eating disorder and could use professional treatment. I urge you to seek a qualified mental health counselor in your area if this is the case.

How Long Do You Have to Exercise to Burn Off Carbs?

If you eat a meal full of carbs, how long do you have to exercise to burn it all off? Ava M.

Dear Ava,

There are a lot of variables to your question and it may be better to find out how many calories you are eating in the meal. Then we need to know how many calories you normally burn, and find out what type of exercise you are doing to burn the rest off.

For instance, if you eat 500 calories of carbs at a meal, it's likely it will burn itself off through your metabolism and normal body activities over the next several hours. An average number of daily calories burned is 2200 (nearly 100 calories per hour) but the actual number depends on your height, weight, age, and gender, and can range from about 1700 per day to over 2700 per day for large and active people.

Whether you eat too much in the form of carbs, of fats, or even protein, the extra calories will be stored as fat for your body to use later (an old protective mechanism to hold us over in case of future difficulty finding food.)

If you think you've overeaten a bit during a meal, taking a 30 minute brisk walk or bike ride can burn off 200-300 of those extra calories!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

13 Year Old Visiting A Dietitian For Weight Loss

Hi, next week I will be seeing a dietitian and I was wondering if you could answer these questions for me.
1. I 'm 5'1" tall and weigh 133# and I'm 13 yrs old, could I lose 25 pounds?
2.Could a dietitian tell me how much weight I can lose and where I can lose it?
3. Could a dietitian tell me accurately what body shape I could have if I lost that weight (hour-glass, cello)?
4. Could I tell a dietitian prescribe a pill to me that will help weight loss without telling my mom how much weight I want to lose (e.g. if I want to lose 2 pounds a week could a dietitian prescribe a pill that will do that and not tell my mom that I will lose 2 pounds a week?)
5. This is my first time going to a dietitian so could you please tell me pretty much whats going to happen (what questions will be asked) Thanks, Marie

Dear Marie,
How exciting to get to see a dietitian at the tender age of 13!

First of all, dietitians are not able to prescribe any type of pills; he or she will only be talking with you. Pills are an easy way to lose weight without changing your diet habits--and in reality there aren't any safe ones that work, especially in the long run. There are prescriptions for weight loss but they must be ordered by a doctor are are saved for extreme cases where the risks will be outweighed by the benefits... you are not at a weight where your health is suffering from it (and that is a good thing!)

A dietitian will ask you what your goals are (and you might be able to lose 25 pounds but it will be at a pace more like one pound a week, and maybe a bit less); how you normally eat (so starting to keep a food diary now will be a big help for you both); and then help you figure out a plan to eat fewer calories and burn more through being more active so you can lose the weight you want.

It's likely your mother will be with you, since usually 13 year-olds do not purchase and prepare all their own foods. The dietitian will help guide you and your mother on how to read food labels, decide what foods are better options to purchase than others, use lower fat cooking techniques, and choose healthy snacks. You all may talk about eating out in restaurants or making a healthy lunch to bring to school--it depends on your priorities and how much time you have in the appointment.

No one can tell where on your body your weight will come off or what your body will look like then... everyone one's body is so different.

You may find that you are happy weighing 112 pounds, since you don't know what you will look like or feel like when you get there. It's best to focus on developing healthy exercise and eating habits, and getting a balance of foods in your diet. Enjoy your newfound nutrition education, and know that you will maintain the weight you like when you get there without having to go on diets for the rest of your life ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Help! I've gained 10 Pounds and I Can't Get it Off

I have gained 10 pounds over a year-and I can't seen to lose a pound. I am working out 8 hrs a week and eating great. I am also working with a trainer 2 times a week. I am hypothyroid but my thyroid was good and I am taking synthroid. I am very frustrated. Eating great--grilled and baked. Chicken and salmon mostly..... any suggestions? Debbie V.

Dear Debbie,
I'll probably need some more information, but here are my first 3 thoughts off the top:

1. Your synthroid may need to be adjusted (even though your level is fine, if the doctor knows you are gaining weight with no reason, sometimes they'll tweak it up a bit--my doctor told me that the level being fine could just mean your body is working harder to keep it that way)

2. As much as you are working out, you've gained muscle weight and not fat weight. How long have you been working out this much? Are you still in the same clothes you were a year ago, but just paying only to the number on the scale, even though you may be perfectly happy with your body size?

3. You are eating more than you realize: The #1 best advice I have for anyone watching their weight is to keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat makes you more aware and we usually find that we've been eating things and ignoring them (grabbing a quick drive thru lunch one day, ordering pizza for the kids one day, having a piece of cake at an office party one day--things we hardly ever, ever do--but they all add up).

A weight gain of 10 pounds in a year can be a result of a mere 100 excess calories per day. So you may be eating these treats only once a week or you may have become a tiny bit less active for some reason--walking 15 minutes more a day or cutting out a small amount of food (3 hershey kisses or one extra slice of bread) can make all the difference.

Let me hear back from you with a bit more information.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's Behind the Bad Reputation of Red Meat?

There seems to be a lot of different opinions regarding how safe red meat is. I'm particularly curious to find out more about this, as I was thinking of incorporating red meat into my diet in order to bulk up [I've always had difficulty gaining mass]. Some people are now saying that the reason it has such a bad reputation is because some people were not buying lean cuts of meat and trimming excess fat from them. I would just like to get a few different opinions on this before I make a decision. -- Peter D.

Yes, red meat developed a bad reputation in the 1970's timed with the discovery that high intakes of cholesterol (later determined to actually be high intakes of saturated fat) lead to an increase in serum cholesterol level, which in turn was linked to an increase incidence of heart attacks.
Beef was bred to be very fatty during the mid 1900's, as the fat makes the meat more tender and flavorful. Now cattle are bred to be much leaner so we can enjoy beef without such a high fat intake.
The other issue is that men, who were the more common sufferers of heart attacks, commonly ate steaks that were 16 ounces or larger, ingesting an extremely high amount of fat and cholesterol at one sitting (perhaps over 100 grams of fat--more than you need in a day!). The recommended portion size for meat is just 3-4 ounces. People also ate beef frequently during the week in the 1950's through the '70's, and now recommendations are to include chicken and fish and other non-red meat dishes several times each week.

Red meat itself won't help you bulk up, by the way. You can add additional calories and protein to your diet through incorporating a variety of foods, and you will probably need to perform some regular weight training in order to see results if you are looking to increase your muscle mass.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's a Good Milk Alternative for my Toddler?

I have 13 month old son who I am currently breastfeeding. I have recently become pregnant with my second child and have found my milk supply greatly reduced. My husband's family has a history of serious dairy allergy and my youngest brother had a dairy sensitivity as a toddler. So, as I begin weaning my son, the conventional wisdom is to wean to whole milk, but with our family history, I don't think that that is a good option for us. What should I wean him to that will provide adequate nutrition for a growing toddler? Aimee L.

Hi Aimee,

Congratulations on providing your baby with mother nature's best source of nutrition for his entire first year! You must be so proud. And congratulations on his future sibling's arrival, as well ;)

At the age of thirteen months your baby has probably already included a great variety of food in his diet! Milk is what babies live off of for their sole source of nutrition for their first few months, but after they begin eating table food they can get all the nutrients they need without milk.
To assure a nutritional intake, focus on offering him good sources of calcium, such as spinach. Protein will not be a problem as long as he has a balanced diet, even if he's not a big meat eater. There is a food guide pyramid for toddlers to help guide you on food groups and serving sizes at

If he tolerates some yogurt or string cheese, fine--if not, just keep giving him a variety from the other groups and consider a soy beverage as a substitute, or an inclusive nutritional drink such as pediasure. Many other drinks and cereals are fortified now (even orange juices), so it will be easy to provide him with the calcium, vitamin D, and riboflavin that milk is known for.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How Much Weight Can I Safely Lose In Six Months?

How much weight can you lose in 6 months that s healthy? What are the best options in your opinion. A little advice would go a long way right now.I am very grateful for your help. Warmest Regards, Tim


Great question!
Depending on how much you weigh, experts recommend you aim for losing about 10% of your body weight over six months time. That way you don't resort to unhealthy dieting and miss out on valuable nutrients; you don't lose a lot of water weight that tricks you into thinking you are doing things the right way; and you make small changes and lose weight slowly. So the weight stays off and the healthy new habits stay with you. This means no more dieting in the future!

If you weigh 250 pounds you should aim for 25 pounds off in six months. This is just about one pound a month which should be quite easy to do by eating a little bit less (either smaller portions, lower calorie foods, healthier snacks, or some other ways of cutting back what you take in) and exercising a bit more (just going for a 20 minute walk, parking farther away when you drive somewhere, taking the stairs instead of the elevator). These are all habits you can start working into your daily lifestyle that won't stop after you've lost what you want to.

It's tempting to want to get off five or six pounds a week, but this can't physically be done unless someone is extremely overweight, severely limiting nutritional intake or exercising for hours a day--actions that can't very well be expected to become habits. This leaves us right back where we started as soon as we relax our rigid expectations. And most of the weight loss we see on the scale reflects water loss--not what we really wanted to lose in the first place!

I would suggest you sign up for "5 tips to set you up for successful weight loss" at my website ( to get yourself in a great and ready frame of mind. As you go along, view the blog "Balanced Diet, Balanced Life" at to fill you with ideas and motivation over the next several months.

Good Luck! And do let me know how you are doing :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is The Acai Berry Flush Good?

I have heard that doing the Acai berry flush is a good way to jump start your system. Is it safe? --Yolanda H.

Dear Yolanda,

The acai berry, which grows in South American, acquired a great reputation several years ago for being a superfruit. It is loaded with antioxidants which are known to have health benefits such as keeping cells healthy. However, above and beyond the fact that it contains these compounds, nothing else has been proven about the effects of ingesting acai berries, or their products.

The berry itself is prohibited from being imported into this country, as are many foreign fruits. So the powders and teas and extracts are what we find in over-the-counter supplements here in the states. Some of these products tout weight loss benefits, cleansing benefits, or amazing effects of keeping you youthful.

Since these powders and extracts are neither foods nor drugs they aren't overseen by the FDA, the government agency that controls drugs and additives to protect us from harm.
What I can tell you is that the FDA has approved no uses for acai berry products.

What is referred to as 'cleansing' is usually simply the use of a harsh laxative that purges your intestines of fluid and can be uncomfortable, if not dangerous; this includes the side effects of dehydration. There is no physical reason anyone needs to be 'cleansed', nor does this process contribute to helping with weight loss--other than to show a lower number on the scale for a few hours after you have excreted many ounces of water until you have replenished your system.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Can I have green tea on the Cookie Diet?

I have just started the cookie diet, but nowhere can I find I am allowed to have green tea or any tea at all. Also having a difficult time eating all the food allowed at dinner so please help to figure out how to do this I have a small lunch either chicken or tuna . There is no office in my area so I can speak to someone in person thank you for your time, Rose Marie

I am by no means an expert on the cookie diet. And if you've read any of my posts you'll know I'm no fan of it either! My understanding is that you eat this special "cookie" instead of meals and snacks until dinner. So it sounds like you shouldn't be eating food at lunch if you're following the diet... maybe then you'll be hungry at dinner time. I don't believe there is a lot of food on the plan, so you might want to weigh your portions to be certain you are only having 4-6 ounces of lean protein, or whatever the recommended amount is.

As for green tea, since it does not have calories I can't imagine why it wouldn't be allowed.
By the way, have you considered your plans for after you go off the cookie diet? What do you believe will happen then?
I implore you to consider changing your focus and energy to developing a healthy eating plan you can follow for the rest of your life and give up these fad diets!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Does the South Beach Diet Compare to Atkin's Diet?

When I tried the Atkin's Diet several years ago, I felt terrible, I almost passed out at work. I knew something was wrong with my body and I stopped. I presume that is the ketosis that your body goes through which you have spoken of regarding this diet plan. I have struggled with my weight my whole life (I’m sure you hear this often) but am curious if you would put the South Beach Diet in the same category? It was recommended by my doctor and seems to navigate the dieter to healthier carbs instead of no carbs at all. Thanks! Barbara R.

You are correct about the South Beach diet encouraging some carbs, as opposed to the Atkin's Diet which encourages a long-time severe restriction. The South Beach plan starts out with a severe carbohydrate restriction, but after a couple of weeks, those foods with lower glycemic index are added back in… Sweets continue to be on the “no-no” list, and healthy portions are encouraged. Also, this diet encourages more “healthy fats” and in general stresses healthier eating for life–instead of a “diet” to go off as soon as the weight is lost. Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Help: I Can't Lose This Baby Weight!

I had my first child 8 months ago and gained 33 pounds while pregnant. I am 5"4" and had a pre-pregnancy weight of 113 pounds. A week after I delivered, I had lost 20 pounds. Now, 8 months later, I am still at the same weight of 126 pounds! I cannot seem to lose anymore weight. My body has changed and slimmed down and I am wearing size 2's, but the number on the scale has remained the same. I am extremely frustrated. I am exclusively breastfeeding and recently added baby foods. I feel that my body is just really working against me and is comfortable at this weight, which I am totally not! I keep going back and forth about whether I should be eating more so I am not in starvation mode or eating less because calories in has to be less than calories out. I do exercise daily, also. I walk between 4 and 5 miles a day at a 15 minute mile pace and also do strength training and yoga. I am just frustrated and exhausted from thinking about it. I'd love to know what you recommend. --Stacey A.

Dear Stacey,

I can certainly appreciate your frustration. However, it sounds like you are unhappy because of the number on the scale, and not because of how you look and feel If you have "slimmed down" to a size 2, I'm not sure I can understand why the number on the scale is so important to you. It might be something for you to think about.

Consider that your body composition has changed as well, so scale may show you weigh more than you did before, even though you are the same size you were pre-pregnancy. If you're doing strength training and more walking than before, you very well may have put on muscle weight and that's just what the scale is reflecting.

I have received many letters like yours recently, and I'm sure you are well aware that breastfeeding women should not be on a low calorie diet. You didn't mention your present calorie level, but right now you are burning about 2200 calories for your height and weight PLUS 500 calories per day breastfeeding PLUS about 500 calories per day from your walking--that's over 3000 calories a day! If you are following a 2200 calorie diet then, theoretically, you can lose a pound a week. Certainly you should not be eating less than that to try to lose weight at this point.

Perhaps it is the case, as you suggested, that you are eating too little and your body is trying to compensate by going in to starvation mode. It wouldn't hurt to try increasing your calorie level if you've been eating less than 2000 per day.

I've also known many women who just can't get the weight off the first year, but find it suddenly comes off some time in the second year.

My advice to you is to concentrate on eating healthy and enjoying your baby ;)
Don't ruin this special time developing an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale. If you find this issue continues to frustrate and exhaust you I would definitely consider speaking to a professional counselor who can help you through this time and get you back to feeling great about yourself--for your baby's sake as well as your own.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How Do I Prevent the Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau?

Everyone says that to lose pounds/fat you must reduce calories. Some people also say that your body gets used to being on reduced calories and actually becomes more determined to hold on to the fat that it has. Assuming these are both true, my question is: Would it be healthy and would it boost metabolism to eat on a cycle? For example.. to eat very low calories for "x" amount of days, then eat normally for a day or two, then repeat? And if so, what length of time would be recommendable for each part of the cycle? --Alicia N.

Dear Alicia,

What a perceptive question! It's true that you must reduce your calorie intake (or increase the number of calories you burn) in order to lose weight. It is also true that if you stay on a low calorie diet for a while your body will likely experience a reduced metabolic rate in order to conserve energy because it senses you are, in a sense, starving yourself.

In fact, there was a diet around in the 1980's named "The Rotation Diet" which worked on this principle: An extremely low calorie diet (600 calories for women and 900 for men) was followed for three days, a very low calorie diet for four more (900 calories for women and 1500 for men) and a low calorie diet for the next couple of weeks (1200 calorie for women and 1800 calories for men). The diet was theorized to prevent the "plateau" effect that occurs when a low calorie diet is followed for a period of time. In actuality it probably worked because of the extremely low calorie level ingested the entire time a person was following it!

In reality, diets below 1200 calories are likely to be lacking in nutrients and difficult to adhere to for any length of time. To my knowledge, no one is able to live on a diet like this for an extended period of time.
If, instead, you follow a calorie level that is in deficit of your needs by just 200-500 calories each day, you should lose two to five pounds per month and this phenomenon of slowed metabolism--or weight loss plateau-- should not occur. (This site can help you calculate your calorie needs based on height, weight, age, gender, and activity level

Most of the people who contact me concerning a plateau have been on a calorie level that is far too low for them because they wanted to experience quick weight loss. Slow and sure is the way to go for continuing healthy weight loss that you will be able to maintain in the long run.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I want to lose fat weight, but not muscle


Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am planning on starting a fat loss exercise program for myself. I have been at all different weights throughout my life and I have learned a lot of information about exercise, nutrition, weight loss, muscle gain, etc. but I am at a point in my life where I am only concerned with losing fat. I am motivated to put the time in to exercise and my only concern is that I am eating right so that I get the most out of my time spent exercising and dieting. Right now, I weigh 220 pounds and I'm 5 foot 6 inches tall. At times in my life I have been all the way down to 140 pounds. I have muscle on me but there is a lot of fat, love handles, etc. that I need to shed. I have been on diets where I have just shrunk my body, become a smaller version of myself but still feel just as fat. I am wondering what the results would be if I simply burn off all the calories that I eat without worrying about muscle loss. Thanks, Peter S.

Dear Peter,

Of course whenever someone goes on a diet we all hope to lose our fat weight and not their muscle! Each person's body loses differently (in different places, etc) and there isn't a lot we can do about it. Some of us will always feel we have too much fat on our "love handles" and others on our abdomen. If you want to maintain a muscular physique you'll have to work on exercising to keep muscles toned during your weight loss regimen.

There's also the chance that you view yourself as 'fat' no matter how much weight you lose because we keep a certain image of ourselves in our mind, no matter what we actually do look like. It might help to check your body fat percentage (either in a gym where they'll perform this test for you, or you can buy a scale by Tanita or another brand that measures your body fat easily and reliably). Then, as you lose weight, you'll have visual evidence that you are truly losing fat as you see this number continue to go lower.

Be sure to keep up a healthy diet while you're losing weight. Include plenty of protein (At least 1/2 gram per pound of your ideal weight, up to 110 grams for now at your current weight) and avoid fatty foods like fried foods, mayonnaise, margarine and butter, creamy salad dressings, and fatty pastries, donuts, chips, and cakes.

While you are reaching your healthy weight you will be developing healthy eating habits and once you get to where you want to be you'll know your future weight won't be yo-yo-ing over the coming years!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How Much Caffeine is in my Coffee Drink?

Can you tell me what has more caffeine, Starbucks' Frappucino drink or a soda? Thanks, Danielle T.

Dear Danielle,

The content varies greatly depending on your serving size, but with this information you'll be able to figure out what you need to:

The average 12 oz can of soda has about 50 mg of caffeine. (If you have one of the 20 oz bottles, obviously this will contain more!) Colas have caffeine, but sodas like sprite, gingerale, root beer, or orange flavors do not.

A 9.5 oz Starbucks Frappucino has 115 mg caffeine.

Incidentally, the average cup (8 oz.) of coffee or 1 oz. shot of espresso has about 75 mg of caffeine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Do Sweet Potatoes Have a Lower Glycemic Index Than White Potatoes?

For years I have tried losing weight on and off by cutting carbs out of my diet, but each time this just made me feel terrible and I would gain the weight back as soon as I resumed my usual eating habits. Recently I've been trying to make lasting changes toward a healthier diet, like including more whole grains instead of white flour. It's been working to help me lose weight slowly but surely at a rate of about a pound each week. My question for you is, I've been replacing white potatoes with sweet potatoes because I think they have a lower glycemic index ... is this true?
--Tess B.

Dear Tess,

Congratulations on making changes for a more lasting healthy diet and on seeing the real results! When you set these healthy new standards that you can continue to follow you won't have to worry about going off a diet ever again.

The glycemic index of a sweet potato is, in fact, lower than that of a white potato: 55 for the former and about 75 for the latter. However, this number refers to the increase in blood glucose seen when ingesting the food by itself. Normally potatoes are consumed as part of a meal and the combination of various foods changes the overall effect on your blood glucose level.

There are advantages to consuming a diet that is composed of lower glycemic index foods in general. Many studies show that people who follow a low-glycemic index diet have a better time losing weight and body fat, and incidences of some chronic diseases are reduced as well. Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain a higher level of some nutrients than white potatoes, including more calcium, more vitamin C, and loads of beta carotene (not found in white potatoes) which turns to vitamin A in your body.

If you top baking potatoes with butter and/or sour cream when you have them, you'll also be saving these added calories if you have a sweet potato instead--unless, of course you are someone who likes brown sugar and butter on yours!

So, while avoiding white potatoes is not necessary to promote weight loss (they are still a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and complex carbohydrates) the sweet potato is a wise substitute to make on frequent occasions.

I wish you continued success with your healthy lifestyle changes and weight loss.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Do Nutrient Needs Decrease as Calorie Intake Decreases?

Thanks for your educational blog.
I am wondering about daily nutrition charts. Common sense tells me one thing but I might be wrong.
I've seen a chart for a 2000 calorie daily target that has all the amounts for the nutrition label from fats down to the vitamin %. If I want to lose weight following a 1200 calorie plan, don't the other amounts also go down? Is there a set recommendation on this or would it be for the individual?
Thanks so much....

Dear Bonnie,

The charts you see with nutrient recommendations for a person eating 2000 calories per day were developed for use on food labels. The Daily Reference Intakes (which have essentially replaced the Recommended Dietary Allowances) tell how much of each nutrient is recommended based on gender and age. Since the food labels can't speak to each person and include children, nursing moms, athletes, and mature adults all in one small chart, the Daily Values were established: These are the levels you see on the food labels and are recommended for the average person who consumes about 2000 calories per day.

Recommendations for different nutrients for the average adult woman are not differentiated based on weight or activity level. Basically they are just averages taken from studying a group of women to see how much is needed to maintain normal body functioning and healthy tissue stores. Different people may need slightly different levels regardless of their weight or activity--just based on individual body chemistry--so the recommendations take all this into account and add a margin of safety as well.

The only nutrients that change based on calorie intake are some of the B vitamins which are used to metabolize carbohydrates. The more you eat, the more of these nutrients you need to metabolize what you're eating. As a woman, you still need the same levels of vitamin C, iron, calcium, etc regardless of whether you are on a weight loss diet or not.

As you reduce your calorie intake, the percentage of calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fats remains the same; the actual number of grams will be reduced since the total figure is smaller. The same recommendations stay for grams of fiber, regardless of your calorie intake.

Probably the safest way to assure you are getting the required nutrients on such a low calorie intake is to take a basic vitamin/mineral supplement that supplies close to 100% of the daily values and an additional calcium supplement (as the amount required cannot fit into a tiny pill). Another way is to follow the food pyramid guidelines so you are getting a variety of nutritious foods.

Here is the food pyramid website:
and here is information on nutrient needs for each gender and age group from the USDA:

Friday, July 3, 2009

How Does Frying Food Increase Calories?

Does the act of frying itself increase calories, or just the amount of oil absorbed by the food? If I pan fry potato slices in 1 Tablespoon of oil which has 125 calories/tablespoon, and after frying get 1/2 of the oil back, have increased the calorie count of dish by 63 calories, 125 calories, or more?
Thanks, John N.

Dear John,

Yes, only the calories from the oil absorbed are what increases the calories in your food. That's why pan frying is preferred to deep frying--less oil equals less fat and calories that will end up on your plate! If there's oil left in the pan, that's fewer calories in your food. If you blot the food off on a paper towel, there will be more potential calories left on the paper towel and even less in your food.

Your calculations are correct: absorbing half of the tablespoon of oil will only add 63 calories to your potatoes! (By the way, oven "frying" them by lightly coating them with vegetable spray will probably add even fewer calories to them).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome


I have suspected for years that I have metabolic syndrome. My doctor is not convinced (he is old school) and thinks I need to eat less and exercise more. I don't think he believes I do eat very little and am very active. I have all the symptoms, and am currently taking medication for hypertension and eating low fat for the cholesterol. However, my large abdomen is not going down. Do you know of any other dietary things or herbs or supplements to try? I have heard exercise helps but there again some say it should be vigorous training while some say long daily walks. Any help appreciated! --Barry M.

Dear Barry,

I certainly sympathize with your situation. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by excessive belly fat, compromised glucose metabolism, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure. The treatment is, indeed, eating less and exercising more to lose weight and fat.

There are no herbs or supplements to help this, and the exercise does not have to be vigorous. Many times we believe we aren't eating much and that we are active when we are doing so only at times. We focus on the positive actions we are taking for our health, but tend to ignore the days we are less active because of weather or other obligations, and the times we go out to eat to celebrate or entertain or socialize and have a bit more than we know we should.

My suggestion is to start keeping records of your diet and activity. A food diary will show you how much you truly eat. Especially when we are "watching" our diet, we tend to 'treat' ourselves to more snacks and desserts and high calorie foods because we've been doing so well on our diet! You will notice right away that when you have to write something down you will stop to think about it and realize "Hey! What am I thinking, grabbing this donut!" and you will end up eating less and losing weight. You might even keep a record in the margin of your food diary of foods you 'almost ate' but then stopped yourself, just to see how many calories you are actually saving yourself by recording your intake.

For exercise the simplest way is to wear a pedometer--you can find very inexpensive ones in the sporting section of a Walmart or other department store. Keep track of your daily steps and try to increase by 1000 daily steps each week (which is just 1/2 mile per day) until you can get up to 10,000 steps a day (this equals 5 miles). Walking 5 miles a day can be divided up throughout the day to include taking stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little farther when you are going to a store, and taking 10 minute walks whenever you have a break. A one-mile walk will put 2000 steps on your pedometer and takes most people just about 20 minutes.
Ultimately you will burn about 100 calories for every 2000 additional steps you take, and you can end up losing a few pounds a month just by walking a bit more!
Do let me know how you're doing with this in a few weeks, I'm conifdent it will work surprisingly well for you.