Sunday, March 7, 2010

A collection of short diet articles for New Year's

These were in Becky Holm's Douglas County News

The Grapefruit Diet and Master Cleanse by Larisa Sparrowhawk

Because it's that time of year, my next few columns will discuss weight loss plans, with a few simple recipes.

The Grapefruit and Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet have been popular for several generations. The grapefruit diet requires you eat a half a grapefruit before every meal and consume no more than 800 calories a day. The Master Cleanse or Lemonaid Diet is a juice fast consisting of lemon juice mixed with water, maple syrup and cayenne, a pretty vile concoction. To make the diet even less pleasant, you are also supposed to drink salt water and or a laxative and take an enema, all of which promote dehydration, malnutrition and possibly laxative dependence. Medical professionals (usually) agree you should never take in less than the calories your body uses at rest. Since your basal metabolic rate will change with your weight and age, you may want to calculate it every few years. Try this website: Most women are between 1250 and 1450; most men, between 1750 and 1900.

That said, grapefruits and lemons are both high in vitamin c, and if you include some of the white pith, antioxidants, including bioflavonoids. Red grapefruits are slightly lower in calories than white and have impressive Vitamin A levels. Both fruits are full of water, low in calories, do not cause a marked blood sugar change and strongly flavored, so they are useful in diets.

Replace a 16 oz. cola drink (182 calories) with Pomegranate/Grapefruit "Cocktail": juice of 1/2 red grapefruit, 1/2 c. pomegranate juice, 1 c. flavored seltzer water for 107 calories. Or try juice of 1/2 red grapefruit or 1/2-1 lemon or lime, stir in 1 packet stevia and fill with seltzer water for 12-45 calories.  Or blend grapefruit or lemon juice with honey and ginger, stir in to seltzer or hot water.

Zip up a spinach salad with sectioned citrus and maybe some tiny shrimp (1/2 cup for 105 calories) or chopped roast beef or chicken breast (1/2 cup for 130 calories, both roasted at home to avoid MSG or other additives). Squeeze a lime over for dressing.

Low-Carb Diets by Larisa Sparrowhawk

Low carb diets were all the rage about 5 years ago but are no longer trendy, even though many people did lose weight. When carbohydrates are restricted, the body does not have enough glucose to use for energy and uses stored fat, instead. Several problems with very restrictive high protein, low carbohydrate diets suggest that a modified diet, while giving slower weight loss, is much healthier. First, meat has no fiber. Second, some of the meats recommended are high in carcinogens (such as bacon, ham and sausage preserved with nitrates). Third, high protein diets cause ketosis, which could be either desirable or very unhealthy, depending on your current health. Essentially, ketosis is what happens when your liver converts stored fats (triglycerites) into water- and blood-soluable fatty acids (ketones) that your body can use for energy in an absence of glucose. Excess ketone bodies are excreted while exhaling or urinating. If you are relatively healthy, your body should handle the conversion and excretion processes well.

However, people with diabetes (especially type 1 diabetes) or kidney trouble can develop ketoacidosis, which essentially means your body has become too acidic, or ketonuria, which is an abnormally high amount of ketone bodies in the urine, showing that your body does not have enough energy to sustain itself. (Interestingly, very low calorie diets can also cause the same two conditions, especially during pregnancy.) Both ketoacidosis and ketonuria can cause weakness, dehydration, miscarriage, toxemia, muscle loss (the body can create adequate glucose only from muscle tissue, but very little from fat), frequent urination, vomiting, dizziness and possibly death. However, low carbohydrate diets can also be very helpful in managing diabetes; the trick is to monitor ketone activity with test strips and to take in adequate calories.

For most of our time on earth, humans have eaten a modified low-carb diet, consisting of much meat and fish with the higher fiber, lower sugar fruits and vegetables that were available before the days of hybridization. Grains and beans were unknown until fairly recently in human development. Low carb diets that shun processed meats but include a lot of produce are generally considered safe and can be maintained long term. If you find yourself craving grains, make them whole and as unprocessed as possible.

Diet Pills by Larisa Sparrowhawk,

I can well understand why people would be tempted by diet pills. They are available online and in many retail outlets, including Wal-Mart, grocery stores and health food stores. They practically promise if you take a pill at breakfast, you will lose weight by lunch, without ever having to jog in the January rain.

Many diet pills contain caffeine, diuretics and laxatives, sometimes in combination. No one should EVER, in my opinion, take laxatives and diuretics at the same time. Not only are you risking extreme dehydration, but also malnutrition, because your body does not have the time to extract the nutrients it needs from the food you eat.

Sometimes high levels of caffeine are disguised in multiple different ingredients, not only as pure caffeine, but also as guarana, gotu kola nut, bissy nut, cassina, cacao, green tea and mate' . A few years ago, these were often combined with pseudoephedrine, ephedra or ma huang, all stimulants blamed for serious heart issues in young, previously healthy women. High levels of caffeine deplete calcium and vitamin C in the body, as well as contribute to insomnia, dehydration, heart and kidney troubles and osteoporosis. Many diets rely on grapefruits as high water, high vitamin C fillers. Unfortunately, grapefruits actually increase the effects of caffeine in the body. Tobacco, asthma medicines and many other medicines also increase the effects of caffeine. (Just like red wine is beneficial in small amounts, small amounts of caffeine, especially in tea, are considered beneficial, but larger quantities are considered dangerous.)

Country mallow and bitter orange and are stimulants that may cause irregular heart beat. Fat and carbohydrate blockers like Xenical and Alli can decrease the nutrients your body absorbs, including vitamins A, D, E and K. They also cause intestinal distress, including flatulence, bloating and diarrhea. Some diet products also include laxatives along with the blockers, which means you could have to stay home near a bathroom! Some appetite suppressants don't appear to work at all, prompting some users to take more than the recommended amount, increasing the negative side effects.

Research on chromium, conjugated linoleic acid and coenzyme Q10 suggest they help with blood sugar response, fat metabolism and energy, but have little or possibly no affect on weight loss.

If you read the fine print on most of the diet products, they recommend a reduced calorie diet combined with increased exercise. You may as well save yourself some money and discomfort, skip the pills and adopt a sensible eating and exercise plan.


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