David Zinczenko: “Bread Doesn’t Make You Fat”

Isn't unlimited bread at restaurants the best thing since...um...sliced bread?

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t hear from David Zinczenko, Mr. “Eat This, Not That” on those Yahoo! internet news bites. His latest advice (excerpted from “8 Scary Food Myths…Busted!“, claims that the statement “Bread Will Make You Fat” is a myth, and he goes on to mention a American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article that found that “people that ate whole grains lost more belly fat than those that were told to avoid whole grains.”

I know David’s credentials are impeccable (he has authored or co-authored a wide variety of “Eat This, Not That” books after all), but evidently Mr. Z never learned how to read a research article properly. Or perhaps he didn’t learn how to properly interpret a research article…it’s hard to tell.

I must admit that I am not sure what AJCN David was referring to, since he conveniently left out the title and date of the article, but I’m fairly confident that it was this one, which you can link to and read for yourself.  (And Dave, I know you’re reading this post, so please e-mail me to let me know if I cited the same article you were referring to. See you at the gym…)

If you read the article you will find that the subjects told to “avoid whole grains” were instead eating refined grains. So there were two groups: Whole grain eaters and refined grain eaters. Is it any wonder the whole grain eaters lost more belly fat? Of course not, they were eating more fiber, and as everybody knows (and has known since the 1960’s) if you eat more fiber you will tend to lose more weight than somebody eating less fiber (all else being equal, of course).

This study did not compare whole-grain eaters to non grain-eaters, as Mr. Z implied. So his comments about whole grains resulting in more weight loss are simply false.

The ludicrous thing is that David states in his “myth busting” article: “You should still avoid refined grains like “enriched” flour”, which is exactly what the refined grain-eating study group was NOT DOING.

Another “myth” that Mr. Z tries to bust is “Fat Will Make You Fat.” On this I agree with him, since it’s finally becoming common knowledge that fat actually helps you feel full and you tend to eat fewer calories than when eating a low-fat diet. But if you have read any of his “Eat This, Not That” books, he constantly condemns higher fat food items in favor of lower fat and higher carb selections. For evidence, one need look no further than to any of his super-ubiquitous nutrition advice “articles.” David, you can’t have it both ways…

What do you think of David Zinczenko? Is he providing a valuable service to his readers? I’d love to know your thoughts, so please send me a comment.

Robert J. Stone

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Dr. Oz Supports Weight Watchers

Who hasn’t heard of Weight Watchers?

Started by Brooklyn housewife Jean Nidetch in 1963 (is it really that old???), Weight Watchers is a group-meeting and on-line weight loss/weight management program that promotes healthy eating, frequent exercise and group support.

Typically you meet with other members once a week for a weigh-in (awkward?) and group discussion.

Individuals are allotted a certain number of “points” that they can use during the day, with points assigned to food and drink based on cabohydrate, fat, protein and fiber content.

In most cases, people that are younger and more active (or breast-feeding) are allowed more points, while older, less active people are allowed fewer points.

You may have heard that recently fruits and vegetables now are “zero-point” foods, meaning they can be eaten without accruing points, essentially making them “free foods” that can be enjoyed at any time and in any amount.

When you boil it all down, it comes down to calorie counting. It works because when you follow the “Points Plus” program, you are essentially eating a low-calorie diet. It will continue to work as long as you follow the program (just like any diet), but if you ever “go off” the program, expect those lost pounds to start settling around your mid-section, butt and thighs.

I like the fact that Weight Watchers emphasizes exercise and support, as these are very important in any weight loss/weight management program.

Weight Watchers makes money by charging a monthly membership fee, as well as selling food under the Weight Watchers label. Just like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig.

A big selling point the company spokespeople use is that you can eat any food you want, as long as you don’t go over the recommended point total.

But what happens when you max out your points by the end of lunch? I guess since fruits and vegetables are worth zero points, you could fill up on sliced apples, radishes and grapes. But how would you handle a craving for ice cream or a candy bar? Sheer will-power? We know that doesn’t work.

To me it seems being a lifetime member of Weight Watchers would be like being on parole. You’re free to do what you want, but you have to keep following dietary/exercise recommendations and meet with your parole officer (and other parolees) on a regular basis.

Do you have experience with Weight Watchers? I’d love to hear about it, please send me a comment!

Robert J. Stone

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Free Coffee at 7-ELEVEN

This just in: Free Coffee at 7-ELEVEN, from 7 to 11 am today, Thursday, September 29.

Participating 7-ELEVEN stores are giving away free medium cups of coffee to celebrate “National Coffee Day.” No word on if you can get more than one free cup…

Hey, this is a way better deal than the free kiddie-sized Slurpees that 7-ELEVEN offers on July 11 (7/11, get it???).

They actually have pretty good coffee. When I lived in San Diego I used to get a big cup of coffee at the 7-ELEVEN (in PB at Grand and Mission I think) on weekend mornings, sit on the sea wall and watch the ocean (so relaxing, even with the caffeine from a giant cup of coffee!).

One cup of antioxidants please!

It may be true that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but today from 7-11 am, there is such thing as a free medium cup of coffee! Go get yours before you run out of time…

I’m going to pick up my free coffee right now, I can already taste it!

Robert J. Stone

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Russell Crowe On Battling His Weight

Russell Crowe is rich and good-looking. He is also fighting the Battle of the Bulge.

I can relate.

Not to being rich or good-looking (sorry to say…), but I can relate to fighting to maintain a healthy weight. Many people (if not most) are in the same boat. Are you?

Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit Crowe is a great actor. Who didn’t enjoy Gladiator?

Turns out he’s also quite astute when it comes to matters of physiology.

This is a tweet he recently tweeted to a fan in reference to his attempts to keep creeping obesity at bay (yes, even studs like Russell Crowe are tweeting!):

Russell Crowe: “If i stop exercising my body tries 2 return 2 its heaviest weight,”

Not only is Russell Crowe a talented actor, he’s also a genius. Why? Because he figured out that if you lose weight by exercising, and then you stop exercising, your body will gain the weight back.

I say he’s a genius because very few of the “experts” (Jullian Michaels, Dr. Oz, et.al.) seem to understand this.

Whatever you do to lose weight, if you stop doing that, you will gain the weight back.

That’s the way it’s always been, and always will be. If that’s all you understand about weight loss, you are ahead of 95% of the pack.

Did you lose 10 pounds taking Hydroxycut? You’ll get them back when you stop popping pills.

Did you drop 20 pounds for your 20-year high school reunion by running 3 miles every morning? If you stop running, those pounds will stage a reunion of their own, right around your mid-section.

Did you lose 30 pounds on the Dukan Diet, the 17-Day Diet or the Cabbage Soup Diet?

When you stop eating according to the diet’s recommendations, you can bet your (big) bottom dollar those pounds will come back, possibly bringing a few friends to further fill you out.

Have something to add (besides pounds)? Send me a comment!

Robert J. Stone

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Quality vs. Quantity

We are often faced with deciding between quality and quantity.

Eating a home-cooked meal or going out to a $7.99 buffet at J. J. North’s.

A 6-oz. filet of grilled wild salmon or 30 Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks.

A dozen organic, pastured eggs or 5 dozen eggs from battery hens that never see the sun.

Would you rather have 2 or 3 close friends that you can count on, or 100 “FaceBook friends” that you really don’t know much better than you know your postal carrier?

The point I’m trying to make here is this: Perhaps part of the reason many of us battle with our weight is because we are choosing Quantity over Quality.

In most cases, the foods marketed based on being a “good value” (Quantity) are the foods lowest in nutrition (low Quality). Think McDonald’s any-size soft drinks for $1, the 5-lb bag of tortilla chips from Costco, or the 99¢ nachos at Taco Bell.

Sure, you’ll get plenty of calories to fill your belly, but since the nutrient density of the food is low, you won’t be satisfying the real reason your body needs food: vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Yes, carbohydrates and fat are nutrients, but you won’t convince me that carbs and fat (especially the cheap, highly refined fats most often used in processed food-like items) are things we need more of in our diet.

Perhaps the reason many people are able to lose weight and maintain it by eating a diet composed primarily of unprocessed foods like vegetables, meat, eggs, fruit and nuts is because such a diet provides ample amounts of necessary nutrients. These nutrients are what satisfy the body, causing the hunger switch to flip and we say “I’m not hungry anymore. I’ll stop eating.” That’s what Quality Food does for you.

On the other hand, a diet rich in processed carbs and cheap fats (chips, fries, bread, sodas, cakes, cookies and pies)  seem to make us hungrier than we were when we started.

Yes, it’s hard to resist the allure of cheap food. We’ve been conditioned to try to get “more for our money,” and cheap, fast food satisfies that desire. It just doesn’t satisfy our body’s need for good, clean nutrition.

In the long run, it pays to choose Quality over Quantity.

Got any thoughts about this post? I’d love to hear them!

Robert J. Stone

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Hugo Chavez Speaks Out Against Breast Implants

Recently Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez expressed his disappointment regarding the large numbers of Venezuelan women getting breast implants. I caught a bit on TV, and you can read more details here.

Evidently many women are desperately trying to scrape up enough cash (sometimes by quitting school, taking out loans, or borrowing money) to pay for the surgery, which they believe is necessary to be considered attractive. Typically surgery costs between $2000 and $5000, and about 40,000 women are getting breast implants every year in Venezuela.

Let’s face it, certain conditions warrant surgery: Malignant tumors, cleft palates, and certain injuries like ruptured tendons truly warrant the skill and expense of a well-trained surgeon. But undergoing surgery just to have bigger breasts? C’mon ladies, give yourselves more credit.

I think Chavez should be applauded for voicing his opinion on this topic, even though it has little to do with his priorities as the leader of Venezuela. Chavez has been getting backlash from women. One woman, Corina Gonzales, said “…I think he needs to get a woman or something…he’s frustrated…”

Incidently, Ms. Gonzales (her pic is on the lower right) appears to have gone overboard with her implants, and as a result, she looks a tad out of proportion.

A common justification that many women cite when questioned about their decision to get breast implants is that if they don’t, then other women that do will “pass them up” in the job market or social ladder. It’s as if they have no other choice than to “do what all the others are doing.”

What they may not realize is that when they get get breast implants, they are now becoming a part of the problem. Other women will see them and say “See, all the other women are doing it. I need to do it too to be competitive.” A vicious cycle ensues…

The human body is the most incredible example of natural beauty…it’s a shame that some people feel compelled to slice it open and insert saline-filled silicone bags just to have larger breasts.

What’s your opinion of Hugo Chavez’s recent rants against breast implants? Do you agree or disagree with him? Please let me know by sending me a comment.

Robert J. Stone

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Dr. Oz: 4 New Ways To Burn Fat Faster

This is another of Dr. Oz’s “Best of the Best” segments, where he taps the best experts for their hottest tips on living healthier, looking younger, and burning fat faster. Without further ado, here are 4 New Ways To Burn Fat Faster:

4.  From Bob Harper of “Biggest Loser” fame: Lateral Bounding 

This is bascially the same movement you would use if you were skating (ice, roller, or in-line), except you do it without skates, and instead of rolling or sliding on the surface, you “bound” from side to side. If you have not been very active for a while and/or are significantly overweight, be careful to not overdo this movement, as it’s fairly demading.

3.  From Jim Karas, “Personal Trainer to the Stars”: Choffey

Choffey is basically brewed cocoa, except the price is inexplicably inflated to $15 for 12 ounces (that’s $20 a pound!). I give Jim creativity points for this, and who doesn’t like cocoa? But seriously, what’s wrong with coffee? As far as the price goes, I pay about $6/pound for organic coffee at Costco (about 70% less expensive that Jim’s choffee), and I did a quick price check on amazon.com, and I found that plain old cocoa runs about       $7-10/pound. I’d say stick with coffee, unless you are independently wealthy and can afford a 200% price increase for your fat-burning beverage fix.

2. From Maksim Chmerkovskiy of Dancing With The Stars: Figure 8

The Figure 8 is a dance move where you sort of rotate your torso and hips in opposite directions. No doubt Maksim is a great dancer and has a great physique. But is anyone going to “Figure 8” in their living room enough to burn any fat? Anyone?

1.  From Nancy Scheussler, who lost 222 pounds: Get 25 grams of Fiber!

Anybody who loses 222 pounds through exercise and watching what they eat deserves major kudos.  No, not the sugar-bomb granola bar Kudos… Getting 25 grams of fiber per day is a great idea for everybody. But like many things in life, the Devil in in the Details. Nancy recommends a high fiber pasta from “Fiber Gourmet,” which provides 18 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein (and costs $5 per pound, compared to 69¢ per pound for regular Italian pasta from Trader Joe’s…that’s more than 7 times the cost!). Remember the Oat Bran craze, where they were putting oat bran in pretty much anything edible? (effectively making it inedible…) Nowadays you can’t even find an oat bran muffin…probably a good thing, now that I think about it.

A 2-ounce serving of Fiber Gourmet will provide 18 grams of fiber, at a cost of 62.5¢. I wrote a post on psyllium a while back (read it here), and if you’re looking for fiber you can’t do much better than psyllium.

Besides, if you are eating lots of vegetables and a moderate amount of fruit in your diet, you are almost surely already getting at least 25 grams of fiber.

What did you think of Dr. Oz’s list? Let me know by sending me a comment!

Robert J. Stone

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Dr. Oz: The Five Best Anti-Aging Secrets

As you may know, Dr. Oz just started his third season on the Dr. Oz show. Finally!

Here are his Top Five Secrets to Slow Down Aging:

5.  Use Retinol Cream on your face.

Shown to “reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles”, retinol creams are available over the counter (OTC), and Mehmet recommends getting a cream with at least 0.4% retinol.

4.  Wear High Heels

Ok, I’m hoping this one isn’t directed at men. But high heels? C’mon Doc, this Top 5 List is started to crumble. According to Dr. Oz’s “expert” (a shoe designer, how’s that for a trusted source of health infomation???), wearing high heels makes you feel confident, and therefore younger. In my experience, if a woman is not used to wearing high heels she will simply look uncoordinated and awkward. In Dr. Oz’s defense, he did warn viewers to make sure the heels were under 2-1/2 inches, and don’t wear heels longer than 3 hours.

3. Never go to bed without washing your face.

Again, this advice only seems applicable to women (that have makeup on their faces at the end of the day). Personally, I think women look best without makeup. I feel that makeup “covers up” a woman’s beauty (that’s why they call it “cover-up”). So yeah, I guess washing all that putty off is better than sleeping with it on.  But if you don’t wear makeup, I’d argue that washing your face before bed will just tend to dry your skin out.

2. Use Olive Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar on your hair.

For this tip Dr. Oz introduced a hair stylist with a really thick French accent, who recommended spritzing olive oil and apple cider vinegar on your hair. Of course, you can’t just put straight oil and vinegar on your locks! You must first buy a hair product that has these ingredients in it, which he just happens to sell.  Olive oil and apple cider vinegar is great on salad (see below), but the only likely benefit from putting it on hair is that you pad the wallet of the hair designer.

1. Use Concealer-Correcter

For this tip, Dr. Oz introduced famous makeup maven Bobbi Brown, who proceeded to tell the audience that her concealer-correcter combo was “the secret of the universe.” Pretty confident, I’d say! Evidently using this makeup duo will make you appear less tired and younger.

I’m not a shoe designer, makeup artist or hair stylist, so I can’t claim any credentials that qualify me to divulge any anti-aging secrets, but I’ll give you my Top 4 List of Anti-Aging Tips anyway:

4.  Use Coconut Oil for dry skin.

Rub a tiny amount of coconut oil on the part of your face that tend to be dry. It won’t take much, and you don’t want your face to shine like a waxed apple, do you? If your face tends to be dry, perhaps you are washing it too often. Once a day is plenty, unless you are a chimney sweep or coal miner…

3.  Don’t Wear High Heels

That’s right, I’m going in the other direction. I contend that wearing high heels will simply make you less likely to walk, and we all know that walking is good for you. Wear comfortable shoes that you will enjoy walking in.

2.  Use Olive Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar on your salad

I’ve never been a fan of those non-fat salad dressings, or bottled dressings in general. It’s very easy (and much cheaper!) to make you own dressings, and all you need is olive oil and vinegar! Just blend 2 parts olive oil with 1 part vinegar (any type), add some salt and pepper to taste, shake vigorously and you’re done!

1.  Get Some Sleep!

Yes, it sounds so simple, but if you want to look less tired and younger, getting enough sleep is sure to help. If you’re having a hard time dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, or if you battle drowsiness during the day, you probably need more sleep. Not only will you feel better and look better, it’s totally free! Sleep is so important that I put it at #1 on my list. Everything else in life is better when you get a good night’s sleep!

Do you have some anti-aging tips you’d like to share? Please send them to me, I’d love to hear from you.

Robert J. Stone

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Dr. Oz: Bee Venom Beauty Mask

Today on Dr. Oz they had a guest on the show who was a beekeeper.  I love bees, and if you enjoy fruits, nuts, and vegetables, you should love bees too because they are vital for the process of pollinating many of the plants that provide food for us.

The beekeeper showed how she gets venom from bees: She holds them with a forceps (“we treat them with respect” said the beekeeper) before forcing the bee to commit suicide by stinging a pad of fabric.

“I extract the venom and then homeopathically dilute it and mix it with honey and other ingredients to make my anti-aging face mask.”

Ok, so not only does she kill bees so that she can claim bee venom as an ingredient in her “beauty mask,”, but she then homeopathically dilutes it.  What this means is that she adds one drop of bee venom to 1000, or 10,000 or more drops of water, and then dilutes one drop of this down again, and so on. Until there is no detectable trace of bee venom in the final solution. (In case you were wondering, yes, that means there is no bee venom in the final product. That’s what makes homeopathy so effective…the absolute absence of active ingredients)

By the way, I don’t think the beekeeper uses her own product, because her skin did not look very healthy. Or perhaps she DID use her own product, and is herself proof of it’s ineffectiveness…

I have no issues with using honey as a face mask or moisturizer or even a sweetener. I think beeswax candles are the ONLY candles that make any sense. But to kill bees to create a fraudulent cosmetic solution for dry, wrinkled skin? BEEwildering…

Please Dr. Oz, pass up the pseudo-science (homeopathy, hypnosis, etc.) and concentrate on what you devoted most of your life to: helping people achieve better health through science.

Did you happen to see this segment? Care to share your thoughts? Please do so by sending me a comment!

Robert J. Stone

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Dr. Oz: Arsenic in Apple Juice

Today on Dr. Oz they revealed that several popular brands of apple juice, including Mott’s and Gerber, contained levels of Arsenic (a toxic metal linked to cancer) exceeding the limits allowed in drinking water.

Not surprisingly, most (if not all) of the offending products contained juice or juice concentrate from countries other than the United States.

Not long ago I remember buying some apple juice on sale, only to read the label after I brought it home. Country of origin: China

No thanks…

Bottom line is that the farther away your food is coming from, the greater the risk that it contains things you don’t want to put into your body. Rules and regulations tend to be followed less strictly in other countries. Remember the toy trains and McDonald’s glasses painted with leaded (Ethyl) paint? How about the pet food tainted with melamine? All brought to you courtesy of China.

For those people that don’t drink apple juice, this isn’t much of a concern. For drinkers (especially heavy drinkers) of apple juice, US-sourced products were much less of a problem than foreign juices.

Better yet, eat the apples rather than drinking juice! I frequently see organic apples on sale at Whole Paycheck Foods for 99¢/lb.

I really have to applaud Dr. Oz for tackling this issue of food purity. He even made some calls himself (if only for dramatic effect) and got stonewalled by most of the companies he called. It even made our local news!

Organic juices are much less likely to contain unwanted contaminants, so if you are financially well-off this would be a good idea. Otherwise, stick with “Made in America” and “Made with US apples” products.

By the way, remember the saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Dr. Oz focused on arsenic in apple juice. Just think about what else is in our food supply! (Or, if you want to maintain your sanity, maybe you shouldn’t…)

Have something to say about this topic? Send me a comment!

Robert J. Stone

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