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Category Archives: Non-Surgical Weight Loss

Artificial Sweeteners – Pros, Cons and Weight Loss

Posted on June 19, 2019 by

Can they actually help with weight loss? Can they potentially hinder weight loss? So those are some real questions and we will get to them as we go.

Here’s an overview of artificial sweeteners. What role does sugar play in your diet? We will talk about nutritive vs. non-nutritive sweeteners. There is a difference there.  We’ll talk about sugar alcohols and which ones have been around for a while.  Then we’ll discuss saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, and more.  Finally, we will talk about artificial sweeteners and weight gain.

Things have changed over many, many years.  A couple hundred years ago 1800-average consumption of sugar was 25 pounds a year.  By the year 2000, average sugar consumption was 146 pounds a year!  We have an innate desire for sweet things. As we’ve talked about in the past, your body requires NO sugar/carbohydrate to survive. In order to reduce the consumption of sugar other sources of “sweetness” have been developed in hopes that it will be better to have no so much sugar. This came about because we realized that maybe all this sugar isn’t good for us.

We divide sweeteners into nutritive vs. non-nutritive.  Anything that is going to provide us with true nutrition or nourishment is considered a nutritive sweetener.  Foods from food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat, and oils) provide nourishment and calories so they are considered nutritive.  Products that are added to foods and do not provide any nourishment are considered non-nutritive. FDA places sweeteners under the “GRAS” (generally regarded as safe) list or as “food additives” or “dietary supplements.” It’s thought that they’re safe. We don’t know it absolutely. There may not be a way to study it completely. They can be listed under different things under the FDA. It will depend on what they’re made up of.  Since 1999 at least 10,000 new products containing sweeteners have been launched.  It’s probably close to 15,000 now.

Sugar alcohols are technically a nutritive sweetener because they provide calories (1.5-3 cal/gram). We see a lot of marketing out there. They can be labeled as sugar free. Sugar free doesn’t necessarily mean carbohydrate free.  And, it doesn’t necessarily mean calorie free. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol, but are carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. That can be the reason why there is some sweetness to some fruits and vegetables. Some of them contain fructose. It’s actually sweeter than other types of sweeteners. Typically sugar alcohols aren’t as sweet as table sugar. Sweetness varies from 25%-100% as table sugar (sucrose).  That means that often a lot more is added to mimic the sweetness. There are lots of examples out there like sugar free gum.  But it’s not carbohydrate free.  The following are sugar alcohols: sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol, maltitol, lactitol, and isomalt.  They provide fewer calories than sugar since they are not completely absorbed. Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram. Sugar alcohols are typically about 1 ½ -3 calories per gram.  Sugar alcohols have less sugar, but that doesn’t mean they can’t raise your blood sugar. The carbohydrate will eventually be broken down into sugar. They can cause the following side effects: gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Some people are very sensitive to sugar alcohols. Remember: they are NOT calorie free and since not as sweet, you often will eat more.

Saccharin has been around for a long period of time: sweet n’low, Sugar Twin, Necta Sweet.  It’s been around for over 100 years. It was discovered in the 1800’s by researchers working on coal tar derivatives.  It’s calorie free but it does have 200-700 times the sweetness of table sugar. Most of these artificial sweeteners we’re talking about have tremendous amounts more sweetness than table sugar. It tends to have a bitter aftertaste. Originally there was a concern of “bladder tumors in rats” (no increased risk in humans). The researchers gave rats 100X more than any of them could ever actually eat in a day. There’s no way anyone can ever eat this much sugar. When they re-did the study, they found that there were rats that were pre-disposed to getting bladder tumors anyway!  So, the tumors probably had nothing to do with the saccharin. It’s never been shown to cause tumors in humans. If you’re allergic to sulfa medications, potentially you could have an allergic reaction.  It’s very rare, but not impossible.

Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by scientists working on “ulcer drugs.” For some reason they licked their fingers and discovered how sweet it was. It’s now found in over 6000 foods.  Aspartame is Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin. They made this by connecting 2 amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine).  These 2 amino acids together have a very sweet taste. Technically it will have calories, but since it’s 200X sweeter than sugar, this amount of calories is miniscule. People with phenylketonuria (PKU) can’t break down phenylalanine. There have been reports of headaches. There are numerous websites that rail against its use. This is the most controversial sweetener. But there’s never been a study that showed that this is a problem. Because it’s just 2 amino acids, there really shouldn’t be a reason for any problems.

Sucralose is Splenda. It was discovered while trying to make a new insecticide. The name is somewhat confusing because it sounds a lot like sucrose. Sucrose is table sugar. They’re two completely different things. Splenda is about 600X the sweetness of sugar.  It can be used for cooking and baking. It’s made from sugar, but it’s nothing like sugar. They chemically altered the sugar and put a chlorine molecule on the sugar, therefore rendering it unable to be absorbed. It’s like a backward or left-handed sugar. You get the taste of sugar, but you don’t get the calories. They added a filler to Splenda called dextrose or maltodextrin to provide bulk and volume.  It’s a marketing ploy that sucralose has not calories but the fillers do have calories. A serving size has not calories which is technically right. However, a serving is less than a teaspoon. A cup actually has about 96 calories and 32 grams of carbs! A cup of sugar has about 768 calories and 192 grams of carbs. So it’s all a marketing ploy with regards to it having no calories.

Acesulfame K (Ace K) was approved in 1988. The K is potassium. It’s 200X sweeter than sugar. It’s often used as a “flavor enhancer.” It’s often put together with another type of sweetener because it tends to make it more palatable. It makes for a synergistic effect. That’s what is used in many of the “zero” sodas. It’s often listed in ingredients as: acesulfame K, acesulfame potassium, ace-k, Sunett, Sweet One, Swiss, Sweet. It does contain a carcinogen called methylene chloride. However, the amounts are so tiny that it’s never really a thought of it causing any problems. It’s been linked to headaches, depression, and nausea. There are minimal studies done to fully evaluate. They’re generally regarded as safe.

Neotame has been FDA approved since 2002 (brand name Newtame). It’s a newer version of Aspartame without the phenylalanine dangers to PKU patients. It’s about 10,000X sweeter than sugar. It’s often used as a “flavor enhancer.” A newer one out there similar to neotame is altitame. It’s amino acids put together: aspartic acid and alanine. It’s 2000X sweeter than sugar.  It’s not been approved in the US yet as far as I know. It very likely will get approved.

Advantame is the cousin to Aspartame. The FDA approved it in May, 2014 (6th one approved). It’s 20,000X sweeter than sugar. It dissolves in water. It doesn’t break down in heat so it can be used in cooking. It does have miniscule amounts of phenylalanine. The “safe” consumption level is >40,000 packets/day. Well good luck with eating 40,000 packets a day! Very unlikely it’s going to cause any problems.

Stevia/Rebiana is one you hear about more and more often. There are many of them out there. They’re all based on the stevia plant. It’s a plant native to South America (Stevia rebaudiana).  They’re starting to grow it more and more places. It’s now being cultivated for harvesting its sweet leaves. The natives used to just pick the leaves and chew on them.  There’s some evidence that potentially it can actually help control blood sugar. It’s 200-300X sweeter than sugar. The working molecule from the plant is called Rebaudioside A. By itself is available as a sweetener labeled as: Only Sweet, Truvia, PureVia, Reb-A, Rebiana, and SweetLeaf. Stevia can be sold as a “dietary supplement.” It’s truly not an artificial sweetener because it comes from a plant. Just because it comes from a plant doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good thing.  A lot of poisons come from plants too. It doesn’t have any obvious harmful effects. There is a question as to whether it can help with controlling blood sugar. This is probably one of the potentially safer ones out there. There just aren’t a whole lot of studies being done. It’s already approved so who’s going to go back and start doing studies?

A newer one is called Nectresse which is “from the makers of Splenda.” It’s made from Monkfruit, molasses, and erythritol. Monk fruit is about 150X sweeter than sugar. It’s said to have “zero calories” in a packet. Again, that’s somewhat of a marketing ploy. One little packet technically can be called zero calories. That’s not really true because if you’re using it in a large amount (baking) the calories would be there. It’s about 1/3 the calories of table sugar. It’s not technically calorie free because it’s mixed with molasses and monk fruit.

Are artificial sweeteners helpful or a hindrance to weight gain? Research is showing both possibilities. Can we see weight gain or weight loss? It could be both. It may depend on the individual. If you’re taking in fewer calories and using an artificial sweetener it could potentially help you with weight loss. The flip side is it can work against you because artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar is. They train us to like really sweet things. They may even increase sugar cravings. Sometimes when people are trying to stop sugar cravings they eat other things too that have more sugar and drives the calories up. So it might help with actually keeping the sugar amount lower, but it could cause you to eat more. Also when you get something sweet in your mouth, your body thinks it’s getting sugar. Your body prepares for the sugar coming into the intestinal tract by raising insulin. Potentially artificial sweeteners can raise insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that tells your body to store fat. Much higher sweetness trains you to prefer sweeter things. It depends what you’re doing with the artificial sweetener. My belief is that if you’re going to use them, use the smallest amount possible. There’s no nutritional value of any artificial sweetener. I would encourage you to experiment. Cut them out and see what happens. If you’ve hit a plateau and can’t figure out what’s going on, artificial sweeteners could be part of your solution.

Any sweeteners are not essential nutrients. They exist to nurture your sweet tooth not your body! Our innate desire for sweetness may be interfering with our ability to judge “good” from “bad.” As a general rule you don’t get something for nothing! I would recommend trying to avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners as much as possible.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us here at The Center for Weight Loss Success.  You can bring your questions when you come in. Stop by and get your free body composition analysis done. You want to preserve lean body mass and get rid of the fat. You should be receiving the weight loss tips and weekly recipes. Subscribe to my weekly webinar each Tuesday at 6pm.Remember it’s your life. Make it a healthy one. Have a good evening everyone. Take care.

Do Growth Hormones Help with Weight Loss?

Posted on May 20, 2019 by

What do you know about growth hormone?  You might hear about this in the media as anti-aging, this wonderful thing that could keep you young forever. It’s not quite like that. But there is some evidence that potentially can be helpful for certain things. We’re going to talk about those things.

If you look at the literature out there, it suggests a lot of wonderful things that growth hormone can do. There are some wide ranges of potential effects. It can: reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, enhance sexual performance, stronger bones, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, faster wound healing, higher energy levels, regrowth of vital organs, restore immune function, hair regrowth, sharper vision, elevated mood, and improved cognition. In theory, it sounds like this does all kinds of stuff. So, is this the Fountain of Youth?

Let’s talk about what this is, where it comes from, and what it can potentially do. Is there some way you can actually utilize this? Growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland in your brain. The pituitary gland is a tiny little thing separated into an anterior and posterior gland. There are two different lobes. It’s right there at the base of your brain. It’s controlled by the hypothalamus which sends signals down to the pituitary gland and what it should do. The pituitary gland secretes all kinds of different things. Many of them are hormones. We’re talking mainly about the anterior pituitary today. It helps control how your thyroid works, how your adrenal glands work, how the ovaries work (Follicle stimulating hormone), prolactin, and it secretes growth hormone.  It also secretes some other endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones. The anterior pituitary secretes many hormones very important for overall health in addition to growth hormone.

Growth hormone is a peptide that stimulates growth. That means it’s made out of amino acids. It’s a protein. It’s made by the anterior pituitary gland. There are 190 amino acids and it’s a single chain. It’s folded in a particular fashion. A hormone is just a chemical messenger. Once a hormone is secreted (by whatever gland we’re talking about), it passes through the blood stream and sends messages to tissues that have receptors to that hormone.  You have to have receptors on the tissue in order to receive the message. Different tissues may receive a slightly different message to do different things. Basically, this is what all hormones do. Growth hormone is abbreviated HGH. It stands for Human Growth Hormone. You’ll often hear about athletes abusing it to improve their athletic performance. It is a prescription drug and can be used legally for deficiency syndromes. If someone truly has a deficiency syndrome in growth hormone, then potentially they can utilize growth hormone to help fix that deficiency syndrome.

You’ll often hear about it in age management. Part of the reason is, as we get older, just like most hormones, we typically don’t get as much out of our hormones. Hormones are not secreted at the same rate and same amount. The theory is that as we get older and growth hormone decreases, we could possibly prevent some of these aging processes by supplementing growth hormone. This is a very controversial subject. Right now we can’t legally use it unless you have a proven deficiency syndrome. What is a proven deficiency syndrome? If you ask many different experts, you’ll get many different opinions. It is a very controversial medication.

How do you know if you have a deficiency syndrome? It’s not easy to measure. That’s where one of the problems comes in. Growth hormone is released in a pulsatile fashion during the early hours of the deepest sleep. The half-life of growth hormones is very short, so you’d have to catch it at the exact time to know whether you’ve got enough or not. It usually happens in your deep sleep. That’s when it’s released the most. Once it’s secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, it’s taken up by the liver.  The liver converts it into growth factors. Growth hormone by itself is really difficult to measure. You have to catch it at the right time. The half-life is so short. How do you actually measure it? You can measure it in your urine. If you were to collect a 24-hour urine specimen you can look at how much is secreted into the urine. It can give you an idea of whether a person is secreted enough growth hormone. One of the most important growth factors it’s converted into is insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). We talk about insulin all the time. Insulin is the antithesis of weight loss. We want to keep insulin levels low. This IGF-1 is something different. It just has a name that begins with insulin. It’s insulin-like because insulin is a growing hormone.  With regular insulin it means growing fat. IGF-1 can be a growing factor of growing muscle mass. IGF-1 can be measured because it’s a longer half-life. It will stick around for a longer period of time. If someone were actually had a deficiency syndrome of growth hormone, and we gave them growth hormone, we could get an idea of what the response to that hormone by measuring IGF-1.

Typically growth hormone declines with age. The biggest time to have growth hormone is when we’re growing in adolescence and early adulthood. It declines about 1-3% per year after age 30. It goes down relatively quickly. You’ll see this in Olympians. Typically for men they’re at peak performance in their mid to late 20’s. That’s true with most professional athletes. It happens a little bit sooner with women. The reality is that most of us by the end of our 20’s will start to have a growth hormone decline. We don’t have that same physical performance that we did in our mid to late 20’s. It drops off relatively quickly, but the highest amounts are in the mid to late teens. It can be up to about 3% per year. At some point it will be really low. As we get older we start getting debilitating illnesses. The question is, if we kept supplemented growth hormone higher, could it actually take care of these illnesses of aging?

What are some common signs of low GH? The problem is that most of these signs are really vague because they go along with just feeling bad. The common signs are: premature aging, flabby and obese, stretch marks, droopy eyelids and sagging cheeks, thinning skin, reduced foot arch, thinning muscles of the hands, and prolonged skin folds after pinching skin on the back of the hand. The prolonged skin folds after pinching can also be a sign of dehydration. It could also be a sign of adrenal problems too. Those are really vague things.

What are common complaints with low GH? Again, these complaints tend to be really vague. They don’t mean a whole lot by themselves. The complaints are: poor quality of life, lack of inner peace, anxious, depression, low self-esteem, lack of concentration, lack of self-control, excessive emotions, thinning and weakening of the muscles and skin, exhaustion and poor recovery, feeling of rapidly aging, low libido, and lack of sleep or excessive need for sleep.

What tests can we actually do? GH has a very short ½ life and is released in a pulsatile fashion, so measuring blood levels is impractical and may be meaningless. If someone is measuring your growth hormone and trying to send it off in a lab for bloodwork, it’s pretty much meaningless. IGF-1 can be measured but there is a wide range of “normal.” GH can be measured in 24 hour urine collection, but many labs cannot do this accurately. Almost all of the signs and symptoms of GH deficiency go along with testosterone deficiency. Testosterone deficiency is really common. Both men and women need testosterone. As we age, our testosterone levels drop. Almost every complaint I just mentioned of GH deficiency is actually more likely testosterone deficiency. This might be much more fruitful to measure than to chase GH around.

Let’s say we’re going to treat you for GH deficiency. What are the risks versus the benefits? The benefits are that the complaints we just mentioned could potentially get better. In theory, it’s really safe because we use bio-identical GH. It looks exactly like human GH. If it truly were that unsafe, we would see a lot of younger people with a lot of GH problems because they have really high levels of GH. You don’t want your GH too high either because it could cause Gigantism. Every once in a while you’ll see the 7 foot person that later was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor that secreted GH. Andre the Giant was one of the classic ones. They have a very enlarged jaw and large hands and feet.

Hormone balance is a key concept. We don’t want something out of balance, whether it’s too much or too little. GH has to be given by injection. In theory could we do something to stimulate your own GH? That’s possible in theory. If it’s given by injection, it could take months to notice a clinical improvement. And, this is incredibly expensive. Unless you truly need it and get approval from the insurance company to get treated for this, good luck with getting it paid for! It would be a few thousand dollars every single month. I don’t know many people who are going to do that or want to do that. There’s always the question of because it’s a GH could it actually stimulate tumor growth? If you had some type of tumor, could GH actually make that grow? That’s a real theoretical concern. There’s never going to be a study to look at that. If someone has a tumor we’re not going to start injecting them with GH! It’s been done in animals and was determined it can actually stimulate tumor growth.

Are there certain things that we could do ourselves that would optimize GH release? That would be the optimal thing. What can we do to improve the release of our own GH? We can’t live without it even though our levels go really low with age. Things that improve GH release: strenuous exercise (like High Intensity Interval Resistance Training), deep quality sleep, and protein. These are the best ways. There are a number of potential enhancers. They are: B-vitamins, inositol (like a B-vitamin), minerals (chromium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. Magnesium also helps with testosterone), amino acids (glutamine 2g/day, carnitine, arginine 7g/day, GABA-all can be found at health food stores), hormones (DHEA, melatonin-helps with sleep-, estradiol, testosterone, thyroid, progesterone), and herbals that can potentially help. Things to avoid: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and milk products. These are a lot of things we talk about anyway. There are other things that truly inhibit GH release. Carbs-insulin inhibits the release of GH. Stress increases cortisol levels. Cortisol inhibits GH release. If you’re doing things we encourage you to do, you’re probably doing a lot of these things already.

There are some commercial formulas out there. I see this all the time in magazine and newspapers. They say a famous person takes GH and it keeps them young. That’s their secret! What they’re talking about is something that can potentially help increase the release of GH. They tend to be very expensive. They’re usually a mix of amino acids and/or vitamins and herbs. It’s a “proprietary blend.” There are a number of them out there: SeroVital-hgh, Pro-HGH, Symbiotropin, etc.…  They’re combinations that, in theory, that will increase the release of GH. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of evidence that they actually work. There have been a couple of small studies, and they do tend to work in the people that don’t need it! They work really well in young adults, but they’re not GH deficient. Let the buyer beware!  They tend to be very expensive with limited studies that show that they help at all. But they’re not completely lying either because it can help in the people that don’t need it.

In summary, could this GH be the “fountain on youth?” Unfortunately many of these questions are unanswered.  Optimizing your own GH may be helpful in your overall health and weight loss because it does so much that we want to accomplish. For many people the easier answer may be looking at testosterone levels both male and female.  There could be something beneficial there for potential weight loss. It’s something to consider and it’s much easier to measure.

5 Tips for Long Term Weight Loss Success

Posted on April 02, 2019 by

Commit to a lifestyle change

Long-term weight loss is achieved through permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices, not through fad quick fix diets or pills. Before beginning on your weight loss journey, make a commitment to your health and stick with it!

Keep moving

Regular exercise is a critical component of permanent weight loss. We recommend a minimum of five 30-minute sessions per week. Read our exercise tips on this blog for ideas on how to stay motivated and enjoy your exercise routines.

Go slowly and keep your expectations realistic

Remember that drastic weight loss in a short amount of time is not healthy, and it is more likely the loss is coming from water and muscle, not fat. Fat loss is best achieved when weight is lost slowly. Strive for a weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week.

Tracking your foods & fitness

Tracking in an app or keeping a weight loss journal can be very helpful for long-term weight loss and keeping you focused on your goals. Each day, record what you have eaten, how much, and your mood and emotions. A journal not only keeps you accountable for your food choices, but can also help you identify any behaviors or emotions that trigger overeating. (We recommend an app like Baritastic to track daily)

Don’t go it alone

An important factor of long-term weight loss is the support and encouragement from others, whether it’s from your doctor, nutritionist, family or friends. Connecting with others helps you stay motivated, learn tips and techniques, and keep focused on your weight loss goals.

If you’re not already a part of our private Weight Loss Surgery Support Group on Facebook, request to join now!  Any patient that is 2 weeks or more post-op will be approved to participate – it’s a fantastic group of people!

Do Fat Blockers Really Work?

Posted on April 01, 2019 by


Fat blockers are out there.  You’ll see them on the internet.  You can buy them over-the-counter.  Do they work? Can they be helpful a weight loss plan? The short answer is potentially they really can be helpful.

What are fat blockers? There are two different fat blockers out there. They’re the same generic medication called orlistat. Orlistat can be found over-the-counter as Alli.  It also can be sold in prescription strength as Xenical. They’re the same thing. But what they can do is block 25%- 1/3 of the fat that you eat. By doing that, it can decrease the amount of calories that are absorbed.  You have to be very careful because if you’re not absorbing that fat, it’s going to run through you.

Potentially, fat blockers can cause significant gastrointestinal problems. You might get bloated or have cramping. Eventually, it’s coming out the other end. If you eat too much fat it might be coming out the other end sooner than you thought.  So, you’ve got to be careful.  But it can be helpful. If you’re doing the right things like a good diet and exercise, cutting back on fat can decrease some of the calories you’re eating.

Remember, it’s your life!  Make it a healthy one!

Phentermine – Could it Help You Lose Weight?

Posted on February 21, 2019 by

I’d like to talk to you about Phentermine. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant. It’s been around for a long time. Appetite suppressants are really carefully regulated by the FDA, so there are some hoops to jump through for those people utilizing them, but it’s very doable.  Potentially it can be helpful from a weight perspective, but also from a hunger/craving perspective.  It works very well for cravings.

A lot of appetite suppressants have come and gone.  There have been a number of them over the last 20 years or so. They got approved by the FDA, were around for a few years, and then gone.  One of the reasons is because the drugs were causing other problems.  There are a couple of newer ones in the last few years.  None of them really work any better than phentermine.  The new ones can be really expensive.  Phentermine has been around for about 60 years now. It can be very helpful.  And it’s very safe. We’ll talk about the risks, which are something we do have to keep an eye on. It can help with any medical weight loss plan. You have to be doing the right things. Phentermine will not make up for a bad eating and exercise plan.  It’s very closely monitored by the FDA. Part of that is because back in the 90’s they had phen-phen. It was a combination medication of phentermine and also phenfluramine. They put two medications together and it worked wonderfully. Unfortunately, the phenfluramine ended up causing heart problems. It was taken off the market.  Because phentermine was associated with it, it’s very closely regulated. Overall, it’s a very safe medication.  It has stood the test of time.  It can actually be used long-term but it needs to be monitored.  There can be some potential side effects. You do have to watch blood pressure. It’s rare but not impossible.

The clinical indications for using phentermine are a BMI over 30 or BMI over 28 with medicals problems.  It’s similar to having weight loss surgery.  Generally what they’re talking about mostly are sleep apnea and diabetes.  Chemically, phentermine looks like amphetamine. Because amphetamine can cause all kinds of problems, and can be addicting, it was thought that phentermine was in the same class as amphetamine, and therefore just as dangerous. It was more regulated by the FDA. A lot of those theoretical problems really never panned out.

I’ve been utilizing phentermine in the patient population for about 15 years now. Just like surgery, it’s a good tool. It’s just another tool in the toolbox. There’s nothing magic about it. It can be a good additive tool along with the surgery. All it really does is takes the edge off hunger.  It really takes the edge off cravings. It won’t prevent you from eating. It can also help with carbohydrate withdrawal. Most of our patients are very sensitive to carbohydrates. If they fall off the wagon and start eating too many carbs and then try to cut them back again they’ll go through withdrawal. Carbohydrates are like a drug. The phentermine can help with the carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms.  We have found that phentermine can give you 8-12 pounds of extra weight loss. It’s the same with our surgical patients. If they feel like they’ve stalled out, the phentermine can give them some more weight loss.

If you are keeping your carbohydrates down while utilizing phentermine, you can lose a tremendous amount of weight. The weight loss from phentermine will vary from person-to-person depending on age, genetics, sex, and other health problems.

There are potential side effects. You absolutely need to have an EKG done prior to starting phentermine. You want to document that your heart is fine. It’s not going to cause a heart problem. But if you’ve already got a heart problem, it can worsen the problem.  Almost everyone starting phentermine gets a dry mouth. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. It can make you feel slightly jittery. It’s kind of like having a few cups of coffee. They typically fade away in about 7-14 days. It’s a side effect. It’s not how the medication works.  I tell people that if it makes you jittery and it bothers you, then quit taking it. The medication will be out of your system within 12 hours. One of the uncommon side effects of phentermine is insomnia. If you take it too late in the day you might have a hard time going to sleep. But that typically over time goes away. Other uncommon side effects are tremors, dizziness, and high blood pressure. It’s really rare for blood pressure to go up, but that’s one of the reasons why we have to monitor it. Theoretical potential problems (which are related back to the phen-phen) are heart problems and addiction/withdrawal. You can get used to the medication, but that’s not necessarily addiction. You can build up a tolerance to the medication where it stops working as well. But you can’t go through withdrawals.  You don’t have to wean off the medication. You can just stop taking it.

There are some real reasons to avoid phentermine. If you have an allergic reaction to it, obviously you shouldn’t take it. If you have a history of heart problems (no matter what it is), I would discourage you from taking it. You shouldn’t take it if you have high blood pressure that’s poorly controlled.  You can take it if your blood pressure is well controlled. Theoretically you should avoid phentermine if you’re taking antidepressants. Because of the chemical make up of phentermine, there was a thought that there would be a cross over, and some antidepressants would make this exacerbate heart problems. It would make antidepressants not work as well or the antidepressant would make it exacerbate heart problems. But it’s absolutely fine to take it with antidepressants. There is actually some antidepressant affect with phentermine.

Legally I have to have a discussion about the” art” of taking phentermine to a patient if they’re going to be taking it. I have to talk about the potential side effects as well as the” art” of using the medication. It tends to last for 10-12 hours. So, since most people don’t wake up starving, don’t take it first thing in the morning.  There’s no sense in taking it then.  Take it mid to late morning.  Play with the timing. If you find you’re having a hard time getting to sleep, then take it earlier. If you have a lot of hunger and cravings right before bed then you need to take it later.  It’s one of those medications that work if you take it.  It doesn’t work if you don’t take it. You don’t have to build up to it or wean off of it.  Therefore you can use it intermittently. It’s fine to use it certain days of the week. We typically write it as a daily dose but there’s no reason you need to take it every day.  Take it as you need it. It can be used long term. It originally was written in the PDR to be used for only 8-10 weeks. They originally said that because the original studies were only done for 8-10 weeks.  It was then approved by the FDA but never approved for long term use.  It has been used for long term use for many years the PDR has never been changed. So most physicians only prescribe it for a few months. It’s kind of silly to think we can fix something in a couple months. I’ve had people on phentermine for 10-12 years. It just has to be monitored. We’re making sure there aren’t any blood pressure problems, ensuring it’s still helping, and make sure there are not side effects bothering you. If it’s not helping, you shouldn’t be taking it anymore. There is evidence that if a person is taking it long term that if they stop it every few months for 7-10 days, and then it tends to work better.

There are some cautions about phentermine. Sometimes it may work so well that you don’t eat. We’ve talked about intermittent fasting and how that works.  The problem with skipping meals and intermittent fasting are two different things. If you’re just skipping means, then it was unintentional. Fasting is intentional. You don’t want to be skipping meals all the time. If you’re doing intermittent fasting for a day or two, you can take phentermine. It’s another tool in the tool box. Starvation has never been a good weight loss plan. Phentermine won’t stop you from eating. If you’re eating for many reasons (not hunger), then it’s not going to help you. You need to take a good look at the behavior side of things.  Why are you actually eating? Work on solving those problems. Without a good nutritional and exercise plan, any weight loss with the phentermine will likely be temporary.

In summary, phentermine has been around for a long time. It has stood the test of time. It can be very safe. It can be very helpful, especially for cravings. But it still needs to be used with a good diet and exercise plan. It doesn’t work to fix a poor life plan. You need to have a normal EKG. We have to monitor your blood pressure as well as side effects.

Come in and get your body composition done.  Make sure your losing body fat and not lean body mass. You should be receiving the health tips and weekly recipes. Tune in each Tuesday at 6pm for the next webinar. Watch your e-mail for the invite and link! Remember it’s your life! Make it a healthy one!  Take care everyone.

What to Do After the Jump Start Diet

Posted on June 05, 2017 by

Dr. Clark's 2 Week Jump Start Plan

Dr. Clark’s 2 Week Jump Start Plan

I have something in common with Blake Shelton.  I have a really hot wife.  I finished the Jump Start Diet a couple of weeks ago.  I still use some of the shakes during the day. It’s relatively easy during the week.  It’s the week-ends that tend to be a little bit harder. But I have been able to keep the weight off pretty well. Initially when I finished I kind of went a little crazy and had little more than I should.  My weight jumped up a couple of pounds.  But checking this morning I was back down to 175.  My low is 174 so I’m pretty happy with that.

I talk about goals, especially in the beginning of the year and encourage people to write them down.  I don’t encourage people to do things that I wouldn’t do.  So I write them down every year in my notebook.  I carry the book with me all the time and it’s got in it what’s important to me.  I write down what I’m doing all throughout the week, I keep track of all the books I’m reading, and I also have my goals written in it. I’ve split them up into my personal goals, family and home goals, business goals, and others.  The Jump Start Diet was one of my goals. I’ m also trying to eliminate excess carbohydrates, excess caffeine, excess artificial sweeteners (which I’ll talk about individually).  It’s going pretty well. I feel better when I can do that. I realize I’m not going to completely give up caffeine. I like coffee every once in a while.  I’ll probably not give up artificial sweeteners completely, but there’s no nutritive value in them.  The bottom line is you need to figure out what your goals are and then write them down.  Post them somewhere very obvious to you.  It could be on your computer screen, mirror at home, or refrigerator door.  Keep track of what’s going on.  It’s not just writing down the goals. Now we have to develop a plan to get to those goals. Its’ the whole point of having a goal and working towards that goal. So you need to develop a plan and then work the plan.  What is working for you and what is not? One of the best ways to do this is write things down.  Journaling is something I encourage all the time.

LWUSA iconIf you want more information, I encourage you to join us at Losing Weight USA.  It’s a live webinar I do every Tuesday at 6:00pm. We talk about all kinds of different things. Each week is a different topic but it all has to do with weight and health.  You can go to the website www.losingweightusa.com.  If you’re already a part of our medical or surgical plans, you’re already signed up. You should tune in, but if you can’t we record them all and post them in the membership site. The last Losing Weight USA I talked about intermittent fasting and how it potentially could help with overall health. It could be part of a weight loss plan. It’s something I’ve been toying with in my mind about whether  I would try this or not.  I’m leaning towards I might try this in the near future.  I’m going to try if for a month and see how it goes. That doesn’t mean I’m fasting for a month.  I go into the details on Losing Weight USA. I’ll probably talk about that over the next few weeks.

Dr. Clark’s Jump Start Diet – The Results!

Posted on May 22, 2017 by

Dr C with tie croppedI just completed the two week Jump Start Diet!

This is the morning of day 15. I wanted to give you an update and tell you my results. I encourage you to give us a yell at the Center for Weight Loss Success and go to our e-store. I finished up this morning. I had my official weigh- in. I came over here to the office and got my body composition done. I was excited to get up and have breakfast. Over two weeks I lost 18 pounds which is more weight than I anticipated. I’m not going to try and lose more weight. I improved my body fat percentage by 3% points which I was surprised at too. So it’s been a good couple of weeks.

I feel great. I want to give you an update and an overview. I want to talk about how to get started if you’re interested in doing this because the concept is simple. But simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It is a two week Jump Start Diet using 5 shakes a day. It’s 1000 calories, 145 grams of protein, and 70 grams of carbohydrates a day. For people who are especially carb sensitive, this can potentially be a little high but we have a low-carb option.

I encourage people to take vitamins. Some vitamins that can be helpful to add: extra magnesium (muscle function and regular bowel movements), essential fatty acids (muscle and nerve function and mental clarity), and extra B-vitamins. You might want to consider a stool softener if you’re prone to constipation. It’s a great way to get your weight loss jump started. Some people think two weeks is forever but it’s a short period of time. It’s not easy but the concept is simple.

If you’re interested in getting started you really need to get your mind right. You need to decide, “I’m going to do this!” I assure you “kinda” working on a weight loss program does not work very well at all. So, get your mind right. Pick that time-frame when you’re going to do it. Figure out what’s going on. Is it something you can practically do during that two week period? If you’re going on vacation or have some big event it probably won’t work well. There will be temptations. What I found is the week-ends were harder because typically that’s the time for socializing. We’re not in our normal routine and that does make it harder. Get your mind right. Set you mind to it. Commit to what you’re doing. Just like NIKE said, “Just do it!”

After the Jump StartIf you’re interested, go to our corporate web site at www.cfwls.com. Click on the e-store. We have a book in our store called, “After the Jump Start” which helps you when you’ve completed the two weeks. I appreciate you listening. I appreciate you following along with my two week journey. My journey is still going on just like yours is. This is not something that truly ends. We just change how we work on it.

 

Dr. Clark’s Jump Start Diet – Day 14

Posted on May 21, 2017 by

I’m in the midst of day 14 of the Jump Start Diet. I’m continuing to do well.  I’ve lost 17 pounds so it continues to come off.  We’ll see how it all winds up tomorrow.

2017-03-29_17.13.23_smaller squareThis was the week-end so we got together with friends for a little get together and socialization. It was a little difficult avoiding alcohol as well as not eating when everyone else is.  But again, it’s only two weeks. You can do anything for two weeks. Yes, I got through it but it wasn’t the same. But it’s very doable.  I want to comment again about  alcohol.  I mentioned in one of the earlier videos that alcohol can be the downfall of many a weight loss plan for multiple reasons. Number one, it tends to add extra calories. If you have any drink with the standard amount of alcohol it’s going to add an extra 100 calories.  If it’s a double, you’ve just doubled those calories.  There could be something in the drink that’s going to add even more calories such as fruit juice or simple syrup.  It’s going to add extra calories and extra carbohydrates.  Also, alcohol itself is easily converted to carbohydrates.  Sometimes you see advertisements about alcohol that market it as being low-carb.  But alcohol itself is easily converted to carbohydrate.   So, even if there’s very little carbohydrate in the alcoholic drink, it can still give you blood sugar swings. Keep that in mind. If you’re doing the Jump Start Diet get rid of alcohol for a few weeks.

The next topic is food intolerance and sensitivities.  They are incredibly common.   If you get rid of all these extra things, which the Jump Start Diet does, you just have water and the shakes themselves. Usually over that two week time you’ve gotten rid of most of the things you were intolerant to.  An exception to that could be artificial sweeteners.  There are some artificial sweeteners in the Jump Start Diet.  In an elimination diet you basically get rid of everything that could potentially cause you problems.  You’re trying to figure out what it is that might be causing you problems.  What you do is slowly add things back and see how your body does with that.  It might not be GI stress, but you may find you’re more tired, not thinking as clearly, or have aches and pains.  Gluten is one of the biggest culprits. I’m going to have discussions in the future on gluten sensitivity and fastings. So this actually works great as an elimination diet.

LWUSA iconThe last thing I want to talk about is Losing Weight USA.  Every week I do a live webinar on Tuesdays at 6:00pm. You can join me.  All you have to do is go to:  www.losingweightusa.com.  It’s a live webinar and you get to interact with me and ask questions. We also record them all.  So, if you join it’s really inexpensive.  A year cost 50 dollars.  It’s 5 dollars a month.  It’s very minimal and you get 30 minutes to access me and ask questions. Also you get into the membership site. There are a lot of other bonuses on it. You’ll see what those bonuses are on the losing weight USA website.  It can be a good way to get information on weight loss.  I cover a lot of different topics including overall health. I just finished a topic on planning if you’re getting ready to begin a weight loss program.  I talked about planning, mapping out, and setting SMART goals for a weight loss program.

Dr. Clark’s Jump Start Diet – Day 12

Posted on May 19, 2017 by

Dr. Clark's 2 Week Jump Start Plan

Dr. Clark’s 2 Week Jump Start Plan

This is an update from day 12 of the Jump Start Diet.  I’m feeling great.  I’ve done really well.  The weight over the last few days fell off.  I’m down 15 pounds now.

I feel wonderful and extremely energized.  I was discussing this with my wife last night. I feel better than I have in a long time. I’ve gotten more accomplished over the last week and a half than I’ve gotten accomplished in the past month and a half.  It’s amazing.  I’m sleeping better, I wake up rested, I have more energy, and I’m thinking clearer.  I shouldn’t really be surprised at this because we see this occur when people acclimate to using ketones as their energy source.  I actually thought it would take longer than this period of time.

It typically does take longer than 12 days to acclimate to using ketones as an energy source.  What that means is I probably wasn’t doing quite as bad as I thought I was over the last couple of months.  What happens when you take the carbohydrate away is your body will use ketones. It takes your body some time to really adapt to using ketones. All those enzyme systems have to be ramped up.

In our patient population, it can often take 4-6 weeks for the energy level to come back up. Our bodies have to get used to using ketones as an energy source.  Typically energy goes up and weight will plummet for a little bit as fat is broken down to ketones. Your body can use either glucose (comes from carbs) or it can use ketones as an energy source.  Ketones come from the breakdown of fat. In a weight loss program, we want to be breaking down fat. If you take the carbs away, your body will preferentially start using the ketones as the energy source.  If you add the carbs back, your body will go back to using glucose as the primary energy source, and then you don’t lose as much weight.  Once the ketones are kicking in, your body has the enzyme systems revved back up.  Mental clarity typically improves, energy level increases, and muscle function improves.  You’ll feel so much better.

So what are you going to do when you start transitioning off the diet?  If you’re feeling good and doing well, there’s no reason to transition off it. You can continue doing this diet.  We call it a two week Jump Start Diet because if I told you to do this for two months you’d look at me like I’m crazy. Anybody can do this for two weeks but there’s no reason why you have to stop it. Once I added bouillon, I was good.  I wasn’t thinking about meat.  For my first meal I’ll probably have bacon and eggs and an omelet in the morning.  I’ll update you before and after that and how it’s going for the first few days after the diet. In the evening I’m probably going to grill something. I probably eat steak.  My good friends Tim and Kate gave me Omaha Steaks for my birthday so I think I’m going to break those out. Thank you Tim and Kate.  Plus I’ll eat a vegetable and salad.

What we’re doing when we transition off the diet is replicate what we’ve done with the diet. That means not driving your calories too high, eating a good protein source, and fill in with vegetable salad stuff.  Vegetables are very low carbohydrate foods, nutrient dense, and low calorie. So, I’ll grill meat and have a salad and vegetable.  You have to watch that you don’t drive your calories too high. At you’re at goal weight, you’re going to let the calories drift back up.  I’m going to let my calories drift up. There is going to be a calorie ceiling even if you’re keeping your carbs low. If you go too high with the calories you’ll still gain weight.

A good way to transition off this diet is to not give it up completely. You might want to transition to the Mini Jump Start which is using 3 shakes a day and then having a healthy dinner. The dinner will be a protein portion (grilled or baked) and vegetables and salad. You can actually have a significant salad portion and it’s still fairly low carbohydrate.  You have to watch closely with the meat/protein portion that you don’t drive your calories too high. When we do add the calories back in we are mainly adding them as fat. It’s still low carbohydrate but bringing calories back as fat. So it’s referred sometimes as a low-carb/high fat diet. I don’t like to call it a high fat diet because it sounds like we’re going to have the calories fairly high but we’re not. So it’s still not going to be a tremendous amount of calories from fat.

Again, if you’re at goal, you’re going to bump the calories up.  If you’re not at goal, you’ll want to keep this going. What we’re doing is replicating the diet with using some food. You have to watch the calories. Typically with eating food they will drift up because the protein shakes are fairly low calorie. We’ll go over that in more detail in the next couple of videos. I will keep you updated before Sunday morning. I’ll probably do another one of Saturday.

 

Dr. Clark’s Jump Start Diet – Day 10

Posted on May 17, 2017 by

Dr C with tie croppedI’m updating you on the two-week Jump Start Diet. I’ve been doing these video’s every other day, keeping people updated. I’ve gone public with this whole thing.  I’m doing this Jump Start Diet which anyone can do. I talked in more detail about what’s involved in the diet. I’m on day 10 of the two weeks. So, the end is in sight.

Day 10 and I’m down 11 pounds. It slowed down some which is not unexpected at all. I want to make a couple of comments about things that I’ve noticed and that have come to mind over these last couple of days.  Overall the diet is going great. I actually feel really well.  I thought I’d get tired out.  I want to talk a little bit about fatigue.

There are two kinds of fatigue. Number one is diet fatigue. That means you get tired of the diet. It can get old.  Five shakes a day is the diet. But like I mentioned last time there are different flavors. I don’t deny I get tired of drinking the shakes but I still like them. If you ate your favorite meal every day it would get old too.  We have different flavors and ways to modify this diet.

The second type of fatigue is something I alluded to a couple of times on these videos. I’ve been continuing exercise the same way I always have.  So that hasn’t changed a whole lot. I mentioned I might feel fatigued doing my exercise. I hadn’t noticed this until yesterday.  Yesterday was Monday and typically my hardest exercise day because I’m usually done in the operating room by early afternoon. I don’t actually go to the office so I can get a really good workout in. So I typically spend about  1  1/2 hours on my workouts  on Mondays. I mix cardio with weight training. I’m partial to Mondays doing the P90X workouts. P90X is a great workout plan by Beach Body. I’m partial to the chest and back workout.  It’s one of my favorites.

What I found is, typically when I do these workouts I feel energized doing them.  Yesterday towards the end of the workout I started noticing that I was struggling where I normally wouldn’t. I couldn’t get quite the reps in that I normally would. I started thinking about what was causing the fatigue.  I think I’m seeing that fatigue because I’m salt deficient. It can be because it’s a bit low calorie for me.  But I think it’s more salt deficiency.

When we go on aggressive weight loss plans we tend to waste salt, especially if it’s a low-carb plan. Carbohydrates make insulin levels go up.  Insulin makes you retain salt. So, when carb levels are low, insulin levels drop.  When insulin levels drop we no longer retain sodium.  Typically that’s why with low carb diets you lose weight those first few days fairly quickly. It’s because the insulin levels drop and you no longer retain sodium, which means you don’t retain water either. You’re wasting sodium that you normally wouldn’t waste.  Once your body wastes some sodium one of its resources to fall back on so you don’t get sodium depleted is to waste potassium and magnesium.  They won’t drop below normal lab values, but below tissue values. It’s the tissue levels that we need.  So subsequently if the sodium, potassium, and magnesium levels start dropping off we feel fatigued.  So, what do you do about that?  An easy way to do that is to get a bouillon cube and put it in a cup of water.  I had a beef bouillon yesterday.  I think the salt actually stalled my weight loss for a day. But part of it is because I probably needed the extra salt. The nice thing about the bouillon cube is it actually reduced some of my cravings for meat.  I’m a carnivore at heart.  When I think about my first meal when this diet is over, it’s going to have something to do with meat.  My energy level popped up too after drinking the bouillon. Today I felt good working out. I don’t work out as hard as Monday, but I had no problems.  I didn’t get that fatigue today so the bouillon helped.

My last comment is about will power. Will power is like a muscle. We need to practice will power, and if we practice it our will power will get stronger. I often have people tell me they have no will power at all and can’t do this. Everyone has will power but you have to practice utilizing it.