OBESITY - PART 2
as though the discussion and debate of obesity goes on and on, meanwhile,
the increasingly pervasive problem of obesity in the United States continues.
So let's explore a few of the newest diet fads, and hopefully also offer
some reasonable suggestions on how to beat obesity, and restore proper equilibrium
to the body's metabolic processes.
by Eva Urbaniak, N.D.
ATKINS DIET, THE SOUTH BEACH DIET, THE ZONE DIET - ARE YOU CONFUSED?
there has been much press about rapid weight loss with the popular low-carbohydrate
Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, and the Zone Diet. Americans spend
almost 50 billion dollars a year on weight loss products and services.
Still, over 50% of Americans are overweight, and the numbers are increasing
by 1% per year. As any veteran dieter knows, it can be difficult to lose
weight, and even more difficult keeping it off. Although eating too much
and not being active enough is the cause of most obesity, the primary
focus of losing pounds should be on achieving and maintaining health rather
than on simply improving appearance. And in a country that equates being
thin with beauty, intelligence and success, additional pressure to be
thin can take its toll psychologically.
weight loss and maintenance is about more than just diet. While there
are many gimmicks, fads, plans and programs, a common sense approach to
weight control offers the best chance at success. Weight that is lost
slowly, steadily, the "old fashioned" way with portion control,
dietary manipulation, calorie restriction, and especially, daily physical
activity, is more apt to stay off than weight lost quickly through fad
best and fastest way to lose body fat (and weight) is through steady aerobic
exercise lasting longer than 20 minutes. During the early part of exercise,
the body uses stored carbohydrate and circulating fatty acids for energy.
It is not until after about 20 minutes that it starts to burn fat for
energy. The sensible way to exercise is to start slowly and gradually,
increasing duration and intensity as tolerated. Bicycling and walking
are excellent choices. Other options include swimming, dancing, jogging
and other activities.
A LOW-CARB DIET HEALTHY? LOW-CARB PROS AND CONS
are necessary for life, the body's major energy source, providing calories,
fiber and naturally occurring sugars. Lowering carbohydrate intake also
lowers calories, so it does make sense to control the amount of carbs
a person eats. But how many carbs should a person eat per day to lose
weight and still be healthy?
A carb is a carb, but what constitutes a bad carb or a good carb? For
the purpose of our discussion let's just call them simple and complex
carbs are those found in refined white sugar, white flour, candies,
soda pop, and sugary breakfast cereals. They are absorbed quickly and
cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. These ultra-refined, processed simple
carbohydrates in the form of bleached white sugar and white flour products
ARE the "bad carbs," the ultimate culprits! Those who
eat a diet containing too many refined carbs, cannot utilize them all,
so they get stored as fat.
carbs are found in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds,
and do not cause rapid elevation of blood glucose and insulin. Technically,
fruit is a source of complex carbohydrates, however because it is sweet,
and contains fructose, or fruit sugar, although a more complex sugar than
glucose or sucrose (table sugar), it has been unjustly maligned, and many
authors are telling us not to eat fruit. Since the preferred fuel of choice
for the body's use is glucose, the liver must convert fructose to glucose,
an energy-requiring step, so fructose does not cause as rapid a rise in
blood sugar as sucrose does. And the fiber in fresh fruit slows down the
absorption of the fructose even more. Fresh fruit also contains vitamins,
enzymes, and pectin, which provide good nutrition and aid in digestion.
Fruit is part of a healthy diet.
we delve into the complexities of the new "low-carb" world,
consider that successful, permanent changes to one's diet include
eating foods that satisfy hunger for longer periods of time. Dr.
Suzanne Holt, professor of biochemistry at the University of Australia
has been doing research on CCK (cholecystokinin), a hormone that sends
the signal to the brain for us to stop eating-the "I'm full"
hormone. Interestingly enough, what she discovered is that another food
item that has been maligned by the low carb proponents, the humble (and
yummy) potato, came up as the number one food in releasing CCK in the
body, and also bears a satiety value higher than all other foods, at a
order of percentage, a list of other high satiety foods is as follows:
- Fish 225%
- Oatmeal 209%
- Oranges 202%
- Apples 197%
- Brown Pasta 188%
- Beef 176%
- Baked Beans 168%
- Grapes 162%
- Whole Grain Bread 157%
The above foods are often included
in healthful weight loss diets, but now that we know how they satisfy
our hunger for longer periods of time, it makes even more sense to include
them. But with the exception of the fish and beef, a low-carb dieter would
avoid them. So it appears that the challenge is to either eat sensibly,
a variety of foods that satisfy our hunger, or jump on the fad wagon and
CAN A LOW-CARB DIET DO FOR YOU?
current research has shown that test subjects that ate carbohydrate-restricted
diets not only lost weight, but dramatically lowered all markers for inflammation,
high triglycerides, cholesterol, and diabetes, (in fact, the Zone Diet
was developed to help patients with severe inflammation), the conclusion
drawn in one study was that that more long-term studies are needed. In
another study of very overweight adults, many of whom were diabetic, the
low-carb group lost more weight than the low-fat group. But eliminating
carbohydrates entirely from the diet is not healthy long-term, because
lack of fiber can increase the risk for cancer and other serious diseases.
In fact, Dr. Barry Sears, author of the book, Enter the Zone, and innovator
of the Zone Diet, the late Dr. Atkins and Dr. Arthur Agatston, author
of the South Beach Diet, all concurred that certain carbohydrates must
be re-introduced after initial weight loss occurs. But with all these
plans, a specially structured diet and menu plan, portion control, and
calorie restriction are built in.
OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT POPULAR DIETS
Atkins Diet eliminates many carbohydrates like fruits and starchy vegetables,
and consists of foods such as meat, eggs and cheese, broccoli and salads,
but this eating plan can be difficult to stick to for a long period of
time, and even Dr. Atkins himself, recommended bringing certain fruits
and other carbohydrate containing foods back into the diet once target
weight has been achieved. Dr. Atkins stated that sugar was lethal, so
sweets and desserts are forbidden. He also acknowledged the fact that
no two people (or glucose tolerances) are alike, so one person may be
able to eat bananas and lose weight, and another may not. For weight loss
on the Atkins Diet, it is recommended to limit carbohydrate intake to
20 grams of carbohydrates per day, and once significant weight loss is
achieved, extra carbs can be added one at a time, until weight loss ceases.
To continue weight loss, carbs need to be decreased again.
Zone Diet breaks a meal down into percentages: 40% carbs, 30% protein,
and 30% fat. These percentages are broken down into "blocks"
and "mini-blocks." A block is made up of three mini-blocks from
each macronutrient category of carbs, protein and fat. Up to 11 blocks
per day are allowed. Although there is more variety and less deprivation
with this diet, the calculations can get complicated. An easier way to
incorporate the Zone, especially because an eating plan has to be one
that a person can stick to for life, is to divide you plate into thirds;
one third should be protein and the other two thirds, low-density carbohydrates,
or vegetables, or a salad and a vegetable. Another helpful hint from Dr.
Sears is to never eat a protein portion larger than the palm of your hand.
the Atkins and Zone Diets, an entire new line of food products has been
developed; so diet-conscious consumers are buying bars, mixes, and prepared
foods at an unprecedented rate.
South Beach Diet is neither low-carb, nor low-fat, but relies more on
healthy protein and the healthier carbs. The South Beach Diet author,
Dr. Arthur Agatston takes a frank and serious look at the connection between
diet, nutrition and obesity, and addresses the problem of sugar and carbohydrate
addiction. A cardiology specialist, he admits that he was overweight,
out of shape, and needed to find a plan that would help him get back into
shape. He couldn't find such a plan, and was disillusioned with the American
Heart Association's low-fat diet, so he invented his own, which became
the South Beach Diet. Regarding carbohydrates, he states, "The faster
the sugars and starches you eat are processed and absorbed into your bloodstream,
the fatter you get." This is why for the first two weeks of his diet
plan, no sugar or white flour, breads, pasta, or certain sweet fruits
like bananas are allowed.
evening news continues to faithfully report on obesity and even share
some reliable information concerning the problem.
Recently, soda pop was the subject of discussion. The high fructose corn
syrup with which it is sweetened was implicated in obesity. Have you ever
read the nutrition facts on a can or bottle of pop? One can contains 48
grams of carbohydrate, all from sugar. The equivalent of 12 teaspoons
of sugar go into one can of pop.
interesting news item was about the "Supersize Me" man, Morgan
Spurlock. This man ate at a fast food restaurant for one month, asked
for the "supersized" entrées, and proceeded to gain a
whopping 26 pounds, almost a pound a day! His blood chemistry also significantly
changed for the worse, to the point that his doctor advised him to stop
the experiment because he was becoming ill. He has produced a documentary
about his experience, which should make good viewing. It should be obvious
to anyone that a supersized portion of anything except water is not conducive
to weight loss. Imagine how many carbs are in a supersized soda pop-double
or triple the amount in a can!
TAKES OVER THE FOOD INDUSTRY AND FOOD MANUFACTURERS -- "NET CARBS"--
HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO
last year's NNFA (National Natural Foods Association) convention, I explored
all the aisles of food displays, and was amazed how this "low-carb"
fad had really overtaken the food industry. To me, "natural foods"
mean just that, foods that are as close as possible to the way they come
from Nature. But most of the foods displayed, with the exception of some
green drinks, yogurts and other milk products, were all highly processed
and sweetened with all sorts of newly invented sugar substitutes.
I found a cookie that said it had only 2 net grams of carbohydrate in
it, but the label said 28 grams. 26 grams of carbohydrate was from "sugar
alcohol," which could be subtracted from the total. This is, however,
an estimate that the manufacturer gives for how many carbs your body can
be expected to absorb. Dieters are also told that they can deduct any
dietary fiber from the total carb count, because fiber slows the absorption
of sugars. It makes one wonder though, if a person with impaired sugar
metabolism would process such foods the same way as a non-impaired person.
And in fact, what good is "low-carb" if it is still a highly
processed food item, not very "natural," not very healthful,
and not low-calorie, or low-fat in spite of the "low-carbs."
It is one thing to eat a healthful diet lower in carbohydrates, and entirely
another to be duped by processed food manufacturers into purchasing "low-carb"
food items that are simply processed foods with a "low-carb"
label on them.
Since the FDA has no approved definition of "low-carb," food
manufacturers can decide how much and what kind of carbs or carb replacements
they want to put into a product.
SUBSTITUTES, SUGAR ALCOHOLS, and SPLENDA
(Nutrasweet or Equal) and Acesulfame potassium are two non-caloric sweeteners
that have been around for years and used extensively in diet foods, but
the safety of both is still being questioned, and more complaints have
been filed with the FDA regarding aspartame than any other substance.
Polyols and Splenda. What food manufacturers are now telling us is that
it "tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar" but it's
not really sugar. Hmm. Sucralose or Splenda, or chemically altered table
sugar with three of its hydroxyl groups replaced with three chlorine atoms,
rendering it a chloro-carbon, is considered safe, but both pre- and post-approval
research showed that it causes shrinkage of the thymus gland, enlargement
of the cecum, and renal mineralization.
(sugar alcohols), technical name, polyhydric alcohols; lactitol, maltitol,
mannitol, erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, or sweeteners that are poorly
absorbed by the body, are now being used extensively to sweeten "low-carb"
foods, snacks, candies, etc. Although these snack foods are called "low-carb,"
read the labels. They can still be quite high in fat and calories, and
remember, a calorie is still a calorie.
is made from high maltose corn syrup, sorbitol from glucose, and mannitol
from fructose. Because their chemical structure has been altered, resembling
alcohol, they are called sugar alcohols. But they are neither sugar nor
many of these non- and low-calorie sweeteners have been available for
years and are considered generally safe, stable, and non-cariogenic (not
promoting tooth decay), there are potentially severe side effects associated
with the ingestion of the polyol sugar substitutes. Because the body cannot
absorb them completely, severe abdominal gas, bloating and diarrhea
may result. Foods sweetened with polyols should be eaten with caution,
and not in excess. If any adverse effects are experienced, ingestion should
BETTER NATURAL SWEETENER
much safer and healthful alternative sweetener is stevia, an herbal extract
made from the Stevia rebaundiana plant. It is hundreds of times sweeter
than sugar so much less can be used. It also lowers blood sugar, blood
pressure, and is non-caloric. It comes in many forms for many uses, powder,
liquid, or dissolving tablets for use in hot drinks.
PROGRAMS YIELD BETTER SUCCESS
obesity is being studied now more than ever before, we are learning more
about it every day. Weight loss is often individualized. There are many
ways to lose weight and excess body fat. What works for one person, may
not work for another. It is not enough to eat healthful foods and exercise
for a few weeks or months. One must change the behaviors that caused overweight
or obesity in the first place.
changes involve looking at eating habits and daily routine. Even though
regularly scheduled aerobic exercise is best for losing fat and weight,
with 30 minutes 3 times a week a good starting minimum, working up to
4 to 5 times a week, any extra physical activity helps burn calories.
realistic goals is also important. Physical activity can be fun and entertaining.
Reaching goal weight may take some time. Working out a strategy to gradually
change the habits and attitudes that might have sabotaged previous efforts
is also important. But most of all, being healthy and fit, in body
and mind is ultimately more important than numbers on a scale.
USEFUL FOR WEIGHT LOSS-GREEN TEA AND GYMNEMA
are many good reasons to supplement a weight loss program with herbs.
Herbs contain nutrients, minerals, and can act as catalysts for powerful
reactions in the body. Using the appropriate herbs for their specific
actions can spell success for those wanting to shed pounds.
herbs that can be of great benefit in the "battle of the bulge"
are Green tea and Gymnema.
tea (Camellia sinensis) is a sensible adjunct to a weight loss
program because it suppresses the appetite, increases metabolic rate and
fat utilization. Green tea contains about half the caffeine as a cup of
black tea. The polyphenols in green tea such as epigallocatechin (EGC)
and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) are potent anti-oxidants associated
not only with weight loss, but diabetes prevention, anti-aging, and lowering
cholesterol levels and risk of cancer.
are so many different brands of green tea on the market that it is hard
to know if one is getting the maximum active constituents per cup or per
capsule. Standardization and full disclosure of the polyphenol content
can help one decide on a supplement. It makes sense to supplement with
Green tea for weight loss.
(Gymnema sylvestre) is an Ayurvedic, saponin-containing herb which
has some quite remarkable attributes that can be helpful in weight loss.
It reduces glucose absorption, craving for sweets, and balances blood
glucose, therefore making it an ideal supplement for the pre-diabetic,
diabetic or obese individual.
if a person has a "sweet tooth," Gymnema can have a strong impact
on the taste of sweet foods, a kinder type of aversion therapy. Although
the herb works very well taken in capsule form, the contents of a capsule
can also be emptied into a small amount of water and swished and swallowed,
or placed directly onto the tongue, and this will alter the taste buds
to sweet tasting foods for approximately 3 hours. Sweet foods will either
taste somewhat salty or tasteless, thereby deterring the dieter even more
from wanting sweets. Let Gymnema help with a weight loss plan by keeping
blood sugar levels healthy and reducing cravings for sweets.