The Politics of Diet

I’ve noticed that diet has become quite political these days. Many people feel very strongly about their chosen diet, and love to share news articles and studies supporting their particular view. And boy was everybody tweeting about that low carb v. low fat diet study yesterday.

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I hadn’t had time to read the study, but I did get to read Dr. David Katz’s take on it (he’s the Director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, so I guess he’s kind of smart) and I’m glad that was the first thing I read. It highlights how important it is for us (well, our journalists should be doing this but they sadly rarely bother) to read these studies. Nutrition science is still new and there are still a lot of challenges, but we don’t need to muck it up further by conducting and publishing truly crappy studies.

Since Dr. Katz essentially wrote everything I would have – and likely better – I’m going to yield the floor to him now.  From Dr. Katz on LinkedIn: Continue reading The Politics of Diet

Missing The Forest For The Trees On High Fructose Corn Syrup

There’s been a lot of hate going around in the media for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and fructose. Some “nutritionists” may even tell you to cut back on fruit because fructose is so dangerous. But is this all true?

What We Know

hfcs obesity

We know in studies of mice, feeding them diets upwards of 40-50% of their diet from HFCS leads to development of cancer, obesity, and other side effects.  We can also see a graph (right) of  obesity rising significantly in the 30+ years after HFCS was introduced to the food supply in the 1970’s. Meanwhile other studies are finding there are no significant negative effects attributed to HFCS. Continue reading Missing The Forest For The Trees On High Fructose Corn Syrup

An Acquittal Of Sorts For Saturated Fat

4931201391_6c72177b4f_zGrowing up I learned that fat was bad. Butter, beef, nuts, avocado – all “fattening” (seriously, we never had guacamole in my house growing up for this very reason). Lean meat lean beef lean lean lean has been drilled into us for the past thirty or so years. Even the American Heart Association – trusted resource for all things heart disease – recommends limiting saturated fat to just 5% of daily intake If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, that leaves you with about 11 grams or  less than a tablespoon of coconut oil per day. (Although as a side note I somewhat question AHA’s wisdom after learning they endorsed Subway as a healthy meal option. But I digress.) Heck, I even learned it in college, and told I don’t know how many patients while I was working in the hospital to “choose lean meats and avoid foods high in saturated fat”. There has been questioning of this saturated fat-heart disease link recently, with a lot of it coming from the Paleo camp (Robb Wolf, etc). Continue reading An Acquittal Of Sorts For Saturated Fat

Is Protein As Deadly As Smoking?

Obviously not, although some news outlets thought so recently…

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 10.01.03 PMFrom TMZ: “High protein diets ‘nearly as bad as smoking'”

From LiveScience: “High protein diets raise cancer risk as much as smoking”

From the LA Times: “High protein diets: bad in middle age, good for the elderly”

Let me start out by saying that I’m not going to tell you to eat less animal protein. But I saw this headline earlier and felt like having a rant.  Continue reading Is Protein As Deadly As Smoking?

The Great Label Lie – All Natural

IMG_0757In response to our collective interest in eating healthier, food companies have started trying to make healthier products. Well, sort of. They are trying to make products that LOOK and FEEL healthier, though they may not be. Hence the emergence of things like veggie chips and other “natural products”. (As a side note, my biggest pet peeve these days is a bag of veggie chips proudly bragging “1 serving of vegetables in each portion”. Um, NO because fried potato and corn with some salt is not a serving of vegetables! But I digress).

What does the natural label mean? Continue reading The Great Label Lie – All Natural

Sleep: Influencing More Than Just How Many Cups Of Coffee You Need Tomorrow

photoAs many of you have noticed (and lamented), sleep is a big part of the Transformation Challenge. But sleep doesn’t just impact how hard it is to get out of bed or how much coffee you need to survive the day, it can also affect your food choices, sports performance, and long term health.  Continue reading Sleep: Influencing More Than Just How Many Cups Of Coffee You Need Tomorrow

Does Microwave Cooking Remove Nutrients From Your Food?

photo 1The answer to this question is yes, and no.

In one way or another, all forms of cooking remove nutrients from food. For example, boiling carrots and broccoli causes them to lose some of the cancer-fighting compounds like beta carotene (carrots) and glucosinolate (broccoli) which is washed away in the water.

Both boiling and poaching can also cause water soluble vitamins like vitamins B and C to be washed away with the water. On the other hand, protein becomes easier to digest and more available when meat is cooked, and heating makes vitamin A, iron, and calcium more available in spinach. Continue reading Does Microwave Cooking Remove Nutrients From Your Food?

Kale And The Thyroid

5905454471_7e0ce0ef97_nKale is, and has been, the new “it” vegetable for a while now. I think it was also the “it” vegetable a few decades ago, then went away and came back. Anyone who wore bell bottoms in the 90’s thinking it was so new, only to see pictures of mom rocking the same thing in the 70’s knows that sometimes happens.

But now, we have a few articles – like this one on “The Dark Side Of Kale” – discussing the potential for kale and other cruciferous vegetables – including broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts –  to cause problems with our thyroid. Here’s the gist of the article: Continue reading Kale And The Thyroid

How The Paleo Diet and Dining Out Can Be Friends

1292854_10104168503357671_368462039_oYou’re going to eat restaurant or convenience food sometime over the next six weeks. You just are. I mean, maybe you are a freak of nature who is ALWAYS prepared and never feels like socializing. Power to you. But most people are going to run into work lunches, dinner with the girls, happy hour, pure laziness, or some other similar non-ideal situations. And while it’s not always easy, there are strategies for sticking to your diet while you eat out.

1. Do some research ahead of time.

1601546_10104604919720781_2037852626_nThis will be especially helpful if you’re in a situation like a work lunch, where you don’t want to be this guy who orders your meal like Sally orders dinner in When Harry Met Sally. So look at the menu ahead of time. If you’re just grabbing Panera for lunch, it’s easy to look online for the nutrition facts and ingredients for every food. If it’s a nicer place, the menu likely won’t list all ingredients but they’ll generally indicate what’s in the sauce. If you have a few good options identified, you won’t have to study the menu intensely for the right option once you’re there. If you’re really dedicated, you can probably even call ahead and inquire about anything that concerns you. Continue reading How The Paleo Diet and Dining Out Can Be Friends

The Importance of Breakfast

Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Last week I published a post on intermittent fasting. This is another perspective (and, spoiler alert, the one I put more faith in).

ENERGY

photo 1Every body needs a certain amount of fuel to perform the most basic functions, like breathing, circulating blood and oxygen through the body, adjusting hormone levels, and growing or repairing cells. The more you ask of your body (as in, the more exercise you do), the more fuel it needs. During sleep, your body performs all of these functions as it repairs and rejuvenates your body. And depending on when you last ate and when you wake up, you can go anywhere from 8-15 hours without eating. This leads to decreased glycogen stores and make your morning workout or routine harder. Continue reading The Importance of Breakfast