Category Archives: weight loss

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: No-Calorie Artificial Sweetener

Image result for google image a wolf in sheep's clothing

Non-calorie, Artificial sweeteners (AS) are thought to help those who want to lose weight by cutting calories and allow those with blood sugar issues to expand on food options because there is a negligible effect on blood sugar, therefore aiding in health promotion.

However, on the same line as the calorie theory (a calorie deficit consumed equals weight loss), AS are building a track record of doing just the opposite.

Research suggests that AS have multiple negative effects on body systems that include changing taste receptors (increasing expectation for a greater sweetness  in food), altering brain signals and responses (by providing sweetness without accompanying fuel or calories) and changing good gut bacteria (effecting immune system digestive issues). None of which falls into the “this is good because it has zero calories” theory.

While it is true AS do not provide calories or carbs, once ingested the metabolic effects have a much greater consequence on weight and health than chomping down on some bacon or, for that matter, any other food with calories or carbs like olives, berries or nuts.

Burke and Small explain this in the 2015 issue of Physiological Behavior, Their paper, “Physiological mechanisms by which non-nutritive sweeteners may impact body weight and metabolism”, explains that  AS “are not physiologically inert compounds and consider the potential biological mechanisms by which NNS (AS) consumption may impact energy balance and metabolic function, including actions on oral and extra-oral sweet taste receptors, and effects on metabolic hormone secretion, cognitive processes (e.g. reward learning, memory, and taste perception), and gut microbiota”.

A powerful and very important message don’t ya think?

This may even explain how we spend $2-4 billion dollars/ year on non-calorie artificial sweeteners and yet continue to watch the diabesity ( epidemic grow. After all these years of throwing our money down the drain (paying more for calorie-free products) and acting as human guinea pigs we now find out this food ingredient causes the very same problems it is trying to correct.

In 2014, Eran Elinav et. al., from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, conducted and published consecutive trials in the scientific journal Nature,  The study found that AS changed gut bacteria causing fluctuations in sugar metabolism that mimic diabetes. Admittedly the study sample size is small but regardless of size, if you are the one person that the results apply then it is very relevant to you. Here is what they found:

  1. Mice were fed plain water, water with Sweet’ N Low, Splenda or Equal, water with sugar or glucose. The mice who drank water with artificial sweeteners “developed marked glucose intolerance” as a result of changes in the natural gut flora. The mice with glucose intolerance were then given antibiotics that killed the gut flora and the glucose intolerance went away.
  2. Researchers also took a sample of the gut bacteria in the mice that were glucose intolerant and then injected the bacteria in mice that had never consumed artificial sweetener. The injected mice then developed glucose intolerance. “DNA sequencing showed the artificial sweetener changed the variety of bacteria in the guts of the mice that consumed it.”
  3. Then the researchers compiled data on 381 non diabetic individuals and found a connection  between “the reported use of any kind of artificial sweeteners and signs of glucose intolerance. In addition, the gut bacteria of those who used artificial sweeteners were different from those who did not.”
  4. For one week, seven human volunteers (who normally did not use artificial sweeteners) “consumed the maximum amount of saccharin recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration. In four of the seven, blood-sugar levels were disrupted in the same way as in mice.” Then they used bacteria from the four volunteers who developed glucose intolerance and injected it into the gut of mice. The mice, then also developed glucose intolerance.

Seems pretty straight forward right?  Yes but there is more to take from this if you read between the lines:

  1. Gut bacteria seems to be another point of interest in understanding blood sugar disorders.
  2. This research seems to suggest that there may be a variety of ways blood sugar abnormalities occur and some may at least originally be independent of insulin abnormalities.

While this information is compelling, is it really shocking? We know there is no magic bullet for weight loss or blood sugar control. We also know of similar situations  like the creation of trans fats (to make foods healthier by removing naturally occurring fat) and how that turned out (they proved to promote heart disease and negatively effect blood sugar and health).

Eat smart. Make REAL food choices. Understand how what you eat effects you.


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Cruising Down Memory Lane With The 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise

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In honor of the 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise 2015,, hosted by my friend and colleague Jimmy Moore. I thought I would repost an interview we did awhile back and share a great conversation that discusses the health benefits of The Atkins Diet from my perspective as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and the book I co-authored, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (,, We discuss:

  • how you can identify reasons behind stubborn fat that just refuses to come off
  • why exercise may not be a good idea if you are experiencing metabolic overdrive
  • social and emotional interference with your diet
  • practical and creative solutions to help you stick with your nutrition plan
  • supplement solutions and much much more…

It is with great regret that I have only been able to attend one of the cruises but the memories are like yesterday. I met people who I will be friends with for life!

So here is my interview with Jimmy,!

I hope you have the opportunity to listen as this interview really hits on many aspects of weight loss and health regardless of diet preference and it may help spark a fire to that will help fix whatever obstacles are getting in the way of getting to your goal(s).


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3 Secrets to Shape Up And Strip Down For The Summer (Secret #3)

Secret #1 was all about what and how to eat. Secret # 2 supplements and Secret#3 is last but certainly not least in importance.  In fact it may be the most important and possibly the first step in taking charge of your goals and shaping up so you can strip down for the summer.

Secret #3

Rule of Thumb: Meditation and relaxation exercises.

Master your mental strength and meditate. This is not a quick fix but practicing relaxation techniques can help harness brainpower and help maintain fat storing hormones. It can be a valuable asset in weight management and overall well being.

Daily stress and lack of sleep has a domino effect on your hormones starting with adrenaline. As stress causes adrenaline to mount it creates a cascade of 3 weight loss resistant hormones:

  • Growth hormone (GH): less GH negatively shifts the fat to lean body mass ratio
  • Cortisol: more cortisol increases blood sugar (by breaking down muscle and using it to create fat) and insulin levels.
  • Leptin and Ghrelin: Leptin is a satiety signal. Stress and little sleep lowers leptin and raises ghrelin which increases appetite and facilitates belly fat storage. The University of Chicago in Illinois and Stanford University in California completed a study showing participants actually “increased their desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods by 45%”, when leptin was lower.

These stress hormones take a direct toll on the physical aspect of weight but body stress also wears you down emotionally and mentally, especially if food (the lack of or excess use) is used as an emotional weapon. Food appeases physical hunger. If you have used it in any other capacity,  you may have noticed it never works but it does start a vicious cycle of bad habits (for example, using food to “provide energy”  instead of sleeping or placate feelings of sadness or anxiety).  Eating for emotional support is a lose lose situation.

Lowering stress, increasing relaxation and maximizing sleep (Dr. Kirk Parsley , ) are powerful tools that are not always obvious when considering weight loss.

While there are no randomized control trials to support a direct relation between meditation and weight loss to date, researchers at Harvard conducted an 8 week study with participants using meditation on average 30 minutes a day, The results showed that meditation is not just an emotional tool to lower stress but it actually changes the brain.  There was a correlation between “reported reductions in stress and decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala (a region of the brain), which is known to play an important role in lessening anxiety and stress”.

If you are interested in meditation for weight loss specifically, you may want to watch this: or dig a little deeper with Kathleen Spadero’s book entitled, Weight Loss: Exploring Self-Regulation Through Mindfulness Meditation.

A little meditation can go a long way. If you are a stress eater, knowing what to eat is not good enough, think about what this means: stress control =controlled eating.  You can control the mindless urge to eat when you operate on a different level of awareness.  Teach yourself to make choices  rather than eat frivolously.

Practicing mental techniques is like building muscles. The more you use meditation the more powerful it becomes.

With a little more than  2 months until summer, try gearing up with these 3 secrets. You will shape up and be able to strip down for summer and the rest of your life in no time.

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Posted by on April 13, 2015 in meditation, weight loss


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3 Secrets to Shape Up And Strip Down For The Summer (Secret #2)


So you are eating right and exercising,, now I will reveal the second secret to shaping up so you can strip down for the summer.

Secret # 2

Rule of Thumb: Incorporate supplements that will supercharge your weight loss efforts.

Synergize! Boost nutrition and exercise by supplementing your intake with nutrients that can help kick cravings to the curb and help burn fat.  Work with an expert who can help you identify what may specifically work for you.

Consider supplements and foods that actually work to help you achieve your “shape up”.  Try adding these in place of empty or sugar laden calories.

Kick cravings to the curb

L-Glutamine can help obliterate cravings. It is an amino acid so take it on an empty stomach or before a work out. Try 2-3 grams after an exercise routine to help boost fat loss or 30 minutes before cravings take over.

Probiotics taken on an empty stomach can help harness bacteria that cause cravings, Purchase a product with a broad range of cultures and at least one billion colony forming units.

Coconut oil contains 60% of its fat as medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCT have been found to help reduce food intake, and promote calorie burning, So it actually belongs on both the kickcravings to the curb and drop fat lists.  Here’s a little info on how it works: Try 1-6 (2 Tbsp. 3x/day) Tablespoons/day based on your level of hunger.

Drop fat and Strip Down

Whey protein used as a meal or snack replacement contributed to significant weight and fat loss ( and helps maintain lean body mass,, better than soy protein or carbs (which were found to inhibit fat burning). Consume 20-60 grams of whey/day based on activity level, size, etc…,.

Capsaicin is an active component in chilli peppers. Using 2.56 mg capsaicin supplements per meal was shown to burn fat especially in the belly,,

L-carnitine is an amino acid that should be taken on an empty stomach, 1-2 g/day. It transports fat to the mitochondria so that it is burned and is involved in energy optimization, In addition to fat loss, L-carnitine seems to be helpful with post work out exercise recovery as it delivers oxygen to the muscles and aids in muscle repair including the heart muscle. L-carnitine is naturally found in meat.

If you take medications for HIV/AIDS, or heart disease (Doxorubicin) carnitine may be helpful but there are contraindications with valproic acid, accutaine and some other meds including thyroid.

If you have a medical condition, speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Seventy-six  days until summer! Get your shape up and strip down for the hot weather ahead, blast your fat! Eating right, exercise and using supplements to accelerate weight loss for the summer season will get you where you want to be. What are you waiting for? Lose it!

The third and last piece of the shape up, strip down puzzle is coming next week. Put them (the secrets) all together and what do you have? Follow me and you will see…


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3 Secrets to Shape Up And Strip Down For The Summer

weight training

weight training (Photo credit: midwestnerd)

Ready or not here it comes! Bathing suit season will be here before you know it. Whether your goal is to take off 5 pounds or 50 pounds before shedding the winter coat for a bathing suit, I have 3 secrets to share that will help get you there.

Secret #1 

Rule of Thumb: Nutrition and Exercise Together Forever

The impact of exercise on weight loss has been thought to lie in the area of weight maintenance because in order to lose weight it is difficult to burn 3500 calories, or 1 pound, in a week. Some research has shown that exercising in the morning before eating burns three times as many calories because your glycogen stores are lower after an overnight fast. Truthfully, you can have this advantage at any time of the day when you follow a low carb ketogenic diet. When doing a ketogenic diet, you burn fat and not glucose, all day long. So if this is true for you, you can burn those extra calories at any time of the day. Interestingly enough, the results from a study by Jabekk PT et al. entitled “Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat,” shows that the combination of resistance training, not cardiovascular exercise, with a high fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic or lower calorie diet helps to fuel fat loss and preserve lean body mass, This new insight can be used to provide additional and more powerful tools to help reach weight loss goals for the summer.

Attack weight loss with a double edge sword; use a healthy diet and strength training to work together to melt body fat. The rationale behind this seems to be that different metabolic catalysts, such as hormonal regulation of fat breakdown, are at work and seem to aid in weight/fat loss more so than using exercise as part of the “calorie equation”. The researchers believe, “that carbohydrate restriction in combination with resistance exercise in particular, offers an advantage over both low-fat diets with exercise and low carbohydrate diets without exercise, in improving body composition”.

There are less than 3 months until summer (82 days). So you may want to maximize your weight loss with resistance training and a ketogenic diet!  Wanna follow a ketogenic diet and have no idea what it is? I have the site for you, or check out my book, “The Stubborn fat Fix”, You do not have to belong to a gym to engage in resistance exercise. Check out these 10 training exercises to get started quickly,, and even in the comfort of your own home.

What is important to keep in mind is the fact that for those who do exercise, weight loss may be observed as inches lost (you are smaller) before weight loss shows on the scale. Focus on how cloths fit, use the scale as a secondary measure of weight loss. Also, if you lose weight in your face first, do not expect your cloths to fit differently initially. Look in the mirror to see your success. Stick with it and the changes in the size of your cloths will soon follow. Two more secrets for you, join me next week!


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Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners

 Image result for artificial sweeteners

Artificial sugar (AS) substitute was created for those who are looking to cut calories for weight loss or cut carbs/sugar to obtain blood sugar control (BSC). It seemed like a simple solution. Eat the same foods replace sugar calories in foods (soda, cookies…) with a sweetener that has no calories and weight loss or BSC should occur. Sounds good and maybe true on paper but when it comes to real life, it may not necessarily be so simple.

Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener made available for mass consumption in the early 1900’s and it is safe to say that it has not done its intended purpose as a weight loss aid. We continue to face a diabesity (obesity and diabetes) epidemic.

A  recent study, , published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that drinking diet soda may contribute to “cardiometabolic risk” factors (obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance etc..). The authors concluded that there is an association between drinking more diet soda and gaining more belly fat.

Belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and much more. But, if this is not enough to make you drop the diet soda right out of your hand then take a look at these:

·         “Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long-Term Weight Gain”

·         “Artificial Sweetener May Disrupt Body’s Ability To Count Calories”

  • “Consumption of Artificially and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Incident Type 2 Diabetes in the Etude Epidemiologique Aupres Des Femmes de la Mutuelle Generale de l’Education Nationale-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort”

These discuss the other ingredients in diet soda if you are interested:

One explanation for the association between AS and weight and health is due to its sweetness. Normally, consuming sugar would trigger a signal communicating that with sweetness comes calories and then satiety. AS are 200-8,000 times the sweetness of natural sugar  but there are no accompanying calories with the sweetness. The body is confused, it expects calories but is not getting them and therefore appetite increases as the body wants the calories it is not getting from the AS. Increases in appetite increases the likelihood of  eating more.

Another reason is that the brain’s “reward system” dictates an individual’s response (motivation, drive, incentive)  to a particular “reward” (food, sex, drugs, medication). The intensity of the AS engages the reward system at greater than 200 times that of natural sweetness creating an addictive response to these foods containing AS.

Of course, you cannot discount the “cheater” instinct. When you think you are consuming less calories by eating foods with AS, you may just choose to eat more because you think you can get away with it.

Despite these findings, “The global market for Artificial Sweeteners is projected to reach US$1.7 billion by the year 2018, primarily stimulated by widespread weight reduction efforts, development of low sugar food for diabetic and diet conscious consumers, growing preference for diet beverages, rising concerns over dental caries and the growing need to reduce risk associated with volatility in sugar prices,”

Get the message these science studies are sending. Artificial sweeteners are chemistry experiments that may have been a good initial idea but as a test with years of human guinea pigs it seems AS add risk to your weight and health.

Steer clear of AS. There are better, less addictive, healthier ways to lose weight and control blood sugar.

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Diabetes, diet, diet soda, weight loss


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The Calorie Theory: Drop It Like It’s Hot


It is freezing outside (in NY) 32 degrees F and we are surrounded by snow and ice.  Today is February 2nd. It’s the day after the Super Bowl, big deal, it’s not a major holiday, not a significant day in history but it is a mark of the 139th day until the first day of summer, June 21! Yes, that’s right about 4.5 quick months that will fly by as quick as a blink of an eye.

Don’t wait ’till it’s too late, whether your “beach body” goal is to build muscle, lose a couple of pounds or drop a few dress sizes get the ball rolling now.

There is so much information out there on how and what to eat coming from experts, well-meaning people who share what they have done to reach their own goals, companies touting the value of their “magic bullet” product and research that swings back and forth like a pendulum so we really have no clue how to interpret what is useful information or not. I must admit I try to stick with the diet I created, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” and even then, there is always a little wiggle room to meet individual goals and preferences.

I wanted to share my thoughts with you to help you make better choices as you embark on getting to your goals for the summer.

One of the best pieces of information I have read in a long time is an article written by Dr. Jade Teta about a year ago. It is powerful and underscores the importance of individuality when considering what to eat.

Dr. Teta discusses what really matters in his article “A Calorie Is Sometimes Not  A  Calorie”. You can find it here at T Nation,” What really matters and is most important to each of you who read this is that it incorporates personal factors (Hunger, Energy, Cravings, HEC) that should be considered higher priorities than a general  “scientific” formula (fewer calories consumed  =  weight loss) which may or may not work for many individuals.

I have always questioned the calorie theory. Nutrition sessions with my clients center on these same personal factors. Focus is always on getting more in tune with what I call your body’s communication signals (BCS) or ACE (appetite, cravings, energy levels) that should dictate your WOE (way of eating). Using general “blanket” calorie formulas, like  eat more calories to gain weight,  eat less to lose weight, is not a standard that people “need” to “stick” to because factors that influence individual BCS are much more important. As Dr. Teta says, “balance metabolism first”.

In a previous blog, I outline the consequences of metabolic overdrive, , if you need to repair your metabolism and have a metabolic disadvantage due to issues with blood sugar. thyroid, the gut, adrenals etc…following a formula that looks good and makes sense on paper does not work in a complex body system. You may want to check this out,

Here are my favorite key points from Jade Teta’s article:

  • The combo of sugar, fat, and salt will short-circuit your appetite centers, turning that “cheat meal” into a cheat week, or worse.
  • The standard “eat less, exercise more” approach to dieting leads to about 20-50% loss of lean tissue.
  • The quality of food you eat can directly affect the future efficiency of your metabolism.

139 days and counting, as you prepare for the summer and get your beach body on, my suggestion for the calorie theory is “Drop It Like It’s Hot”! Focus on what makes you tick; good quality food, stable and consistent energy and a naturally controlled appetite.

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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in appetite, diet, gain muscle, weight loss


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