Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tell Me About the K-E Diet!

I just heard about this new K-E diet in Miami that lets you lose 10 or 20 pounds in 10 days. It's a special fat-burning formula, but where can I get it if I don't live in Miami? Or if I don't have $1500 to spend. Is there something else that I could substitute?
Rebecca J.

Hi Rebecca,

The K-E diet stands for "ketogenic enteral diet". Ketogenic means your body burns fat because you give it no source of carbohydrates. With this chemical imbalance, the body races to flush ketones out in the urine, and a significant weight loss is seen because of fluid loss. Enteral means the formula is given via your gastrointestinal tract--the way we usually feed ourselves.

This is the most horrible "diet plan" I've seen in my three decades as a registered dietitian. The "diet" formula consists of  the basic liquid protein diet that was popular in the 1970's (until several people died from electrolyte imbalance).  The way it works is, you only get 800 calories a day for the entire 10-day period. The fact is, if you only eat 800 calories a day (especially if it's just chicken and vegetables) you'll lose the same amount of weight. Take note, I am NOT recommending this chicken-and-vegetable strategy either! A lot of the weight loss is fluid (because you increase your urine output to flush out the ketones that build up as a back-up form of energy when you eat no carbohydrates). This means, once you go back to a regular diet you'll gain back several pounds of lost fluid weight. In a short time people usually gain back the rest of the fat weight they lost as well.

And there certainly are risks with inserting a naso-gastric tube. In the hospital, these naso-gastric tubes are only used for patients who are unable to eat enough; people who are in a coma, have had a stroke, or have a serious illness that keeps them from being able to get enough nutrition by chewing and swallowing their food. There can be issues from tube irritation in the esophagus, and in some cases the tube can be accidentally placed (or accidentally moved after being placed properly) and end up in the lung. When the feeding formula goes into the lung it usually results in pneumonia.

My advice? Run as far and as fast as you can from this extreme new fad diet. Naso-gastric feeding tubes have no place in the healthy functioning population outside of health-care facilities. And liquid protein diets will give no long-lasting weight loss results. This is why they go out of style as quickly as they come in.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Many Grams of Sugar Should I Eat?

Dear Laurie,
I have been reading articles on sugar and I know it should come from natural sources like fruit, veg and oats etc. but would like to know the exact percentage of sugar (of all kinds) recommended for weight loss. I will be following a 1400 calorie diet for weight loss, so how many grams a day of sugar should I eat?  Anne M.

Hi Anne,
First of all there is a difference between "sugar" and "carbohydrates", the latter of which turn to sugar after you eat them. The benefit of getting sugar from fruit instead of from candy, is that fruit also gives you valuable nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Gram for gram, you get the same calories from table sugar or an orange, as carbohydrates in potatoes or bread.

There isn't really sugar in oats or vegetables, but the starchy vegetables  (like peas and corn) and grains contain carbohydrates which break down to sugar after digestion.

The recommendations for carbohydrates are to contribute about 45-55% of your calories. This means about 700 calories of your 1400 calorie diet should be from carbs (700 calories/4 calories per gram = 175 grams per day).

Refined and added sugars are not necessary (for instance, jelly, sweetened cereals, soft drinks, pies and cakes) and will add calories to your diet without nutrition. These foods all have a place in the diet (in moderation) but are best to be avoided when you're trying to lose weight.

Check out for recommendations and tools to help you follow a balanced diet. If you choose the right number of servings from all the food groups, you won't have to bother calculating every gram you eat--which will make eating healthy a whole lot easier!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How Long Will It Take me to Lose 50 Pounds?

I'm a 32 year old female and I've been overweight for the past seven years, since I had my daughter and decided to be a stay-at-home Mom. I think I was just more active in my job, and had regular eating habits instead of snacking so much during the day. Now I realize I'm not feeling as young as I think I should and it's even getting uncomfortable to try to keep up with my daughter. I want to try to lose 50 pounds, but I don't know if I'll be able to stay on a diet if it's going to take more than 3 months. I get so discouraged easily when the weight comes off slowly. Can I lose all this weight in 3 months? I'm hoping you can give me an answer that I will like!  Gina S.

Hi Gina,
While it's possible to lose 50 pounds in three months (for 12-13 weeks time this equals about 4 pounds per week), it's not likely unless you are extremely overweight.  The general rule of thumb is to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day (or burn 500 more calories per day--which means exercising hard for nearly an hour--or some combination of both diet and exercise) to lose one pound per week.

Using this math, in order to lose 4 pounds per week, a person would have to burn 2000 more calories per day than usual, or eat 2000 calories less per day. For the average person, 2000 calories IS the total daily intake, so you can hardly cut it down to zero!

The good news is, it sounds like you may have several daily opportunities to both cut calories, and to
burn more. The best way to go about losing weight is to start keeping a food diary. There are numerous free websites that help you log your food while the calorie-tracking is done for you. A few my clients like are,, and

Substituting healthier choices for your snacks, realizing the times you snack out of boredom and not hunger, limiting portions, and eating regular meals can all help you eat a lower daily calorie level. Remember, for every 500 calories you can eliminate, you'll lose about a pound at the end of the week.

As far as exercise goes, it doesn't have to be an hour in the gym. Going for walks, playing ball in the yard, or going for a bike ride all contribute to burning more calories on a daily basis.

If you make small and reasonable changes in both diet and exercise, you can realistically lose 2 pounds a week easily. I know it sounds slow to take nearly 6 months to lose 50 pounds, but it will be a lot easier when you do it by making permanent habit changes instead of going on a diet that leaves you hungry and ready to go back "off" the diet!