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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.

What You Need to Know About Antioxidants

Posted on May 13, 2019 by

Let’s talk about antioxidants. You hear about them in the media. Are these miracle workers or is this just marketing?

The antioxidants kick out the free radicals. These are superheroes!  It’s the epic story of good vs evil. They are the fearless defenders of basically everything.  They can cure cancer, prevent aging, and supercharge your immune system. They basically can do it all, right?! Are these miraculous disease fighting nutrients or over-hyped marketing gimmicks?

What we’re trying to address is the oxidative challenge of life. A paradox of metabolism is that the majority of complex organisms (humans) require oxygen.  Oxygen is a highly reactive molecule that not only sustains life but also produces reactive oxygen species: hydroxyl radical (OH) and super-oxide anion (O2-). They are free radicals. These free radicals are by-products of our energy producing process (cellular respiration). Cellular respiration is how the cells produce energy and sustain life. We can’t live without this happening on a cellular level. The trick is to keep these highly reactive free radicals under control to prevent cellular damage. These free radicals can cause cellular damage. It’s thought that this cellular damage done by the oxygen-free radicals can cause a lot of health problems. We want to keep them under control. Antioxidants can potentially help us here.

Are you getting “rusty?” I wanted to find a simplified version to think about this. Oxygen and iron produce rust. You can actually do it without the oxygen.   In order for rust to form we have to have oxygen available. Are these oxygen free radicals causing some damage within our body? That’s the real question.  Just like the Tin-Man got squeaky in the Wizard of Oz, potentially we may need to be oiled up a little bit. What are the ways we can prevent this damage from occurring?

What are antioxidants? The oxidants are producing damage. Antioxidants may be able to prevent that.  They are molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. If you’re inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules, we’re preventing the rust. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons from one substance to another. They’re just moving electrons around. Part of this is that oxidation reactions are crucial for life (respiration and production of energy). If we’re not doing this, we are dead. We can’t live without it, but we want to prevent the damage. When we’re breathing in and out oxygen is travelling throughout our body. Every single cell in our body needs it because oxidation reactions are crucial for life. We want to limit the by-products that can cause damage. So, the oxidation can produce these free radicals. These oxygen free radicals can lead to chain reactions that cause cell damage and cell death. These oxygen free radicals are even more reactive than oxygen is. They can cause damage. We don’t want to cause damage to the DNA. When the cells re-produce and there’s damage to the DNA, potentially you’ve cause damage that will keep on going. Tumor cells can come from normal cells. There’s DNA damage and all of a sudden they’re growing out of control. Antioxidants can stop some of these chain reactions. It does this by removing the free radical intermediates. It’s done by giving up electrons. Then it can stop these reactions by occurring.

We can think of antioxidants in two different ways. They’re either Hydrophilic or Hydrophobic. Hydro means water.  Phyllic means loves water. Hydrophobic means fear of water. Some work well with water and others do not work well with water. There are different types of antioxidants and they’ll do different things in different parts of your cell. They specifically can do different things for different reactions. They want to neutralize these free radicals.

Where do these free radicals come from? Typically they come from different things in our life.  It could come from the following things: ultraviolet rays, atmospheric pollution, stress, and poor nutrition. All these things affect all of our cells. They can cause free radicals. If these free radicals occur they can cause cellular damage. We want to protect these cells with antioxidants.

How does an antioxidant work? For an oxygen free radical to form, the molecule has to lose an electron. Then it becomes unstable, thus becoming the “free radical.” They want to steal an electron from somewhere. They try to steal it from some nearby molecule. This causes a chain reaction. It can go all through the cell and cause cellular damage. An antioxidant is an electron donor. It can donate an electron and still remain stable. It has to be able to donate an electron to these free radicals and still remain stable. This stops the damage.  The antioxidants bind to the free radicals to form stable molecules. Stable molecules will prevent the damage. It’s a relatively simple concept. It’s not quite that simple in chemistry.

What are common antioxidants? There are a lot of them out there but many vitamins are antioxidants. Vitamin C is one of the best out there. Vitamin A and the carotenoids are antioxidants.  Those are found in the following: carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots (bright colored fruits and veggies).  You’ll find that many of these antioxidants occur naturally in bright colored fruits and vegetables.  Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, leafy veggies, strawberries and tomatoes. I don’t encourage people to eat a lot of fruit, especially if they’re sensitive to carbohydrates. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in nuts and seeds, green leafy veggies, vegetable oil, and liver oil. It’s in a lot of things that we typically eat. We talked about selenium with thyroid. It’s very important for thyroid function. It’s found in the following: fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, and garlic. There are a lot of vitamin-like antioxidants. You’ll sometimes see these sold as antioxidants. Coenzyme Q10 is very important. It can be helpful if you’re on a cholesterol medication (statin). If you’re on a statin you ought to be taking Coenzyme Q10 because there’s a lot of damage that occurs in the cells with statins. Coenzyme Q can offset that. It’s an important carrier in mitochondria during energy synthesis. Glutathione is often sold in health food stores because it’s a good antioxidant. The problem is that it’s digested in the intestinal track so you don’t just absorb it. You have to eat the precursors that can make the glutathione. It’s an electron donor and can be increased by supplementing with ALA, melatonin, and milk thistle. Flavonoids/Polyphenols are in a lot of whole foods. They are found in soy, red wine, purple grapes, pomegranate, cranberries, and tea. You’ll often see on the labels, “high in flavonoids.” Lycopene you’ll see on every ketchup bottle in the world. It’s in tomato and tomato products, pink grapefruit, and watermelon. Lutein is found in dark green veggies such as kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussel sprouts, and spinach. Lignan is in flaxseed, oatmeal, barley, and rye.

There are antioxidant enzymes made by the body. These enzymes can help produce the antioxidants. Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) stabilizes that superoxide anion. It can donate electrons. Catalase is another enzyme that converts H202 (hydrogen peroxide) to O2 (oxygen) and H2O.  Glutathione peroxidase also breaks down H2O2 to O2 to H2O. The simplified definition of an antioxidant is they are electron donors. They stabilize potentially damaging molecules. Are there health benefits? Yes!

Where are the best antioxidants? Not necessarily in a pill form. Just like when we talked about fiber. The best fiber comes from food. The best antioxidants come from food. It’s the bright colored veggies and fruits (be careful if you’re carb sensitive) that are very high in antioxidants.

You’ll often see what’s called anti-aging antioxidants. It’s a lot of marketing but there’s something to it.   I think a lot of the damage of aging is these oxygen free radicals. They can cause damage to the cells, specifically the DNA, and then cause aging. Can we prevent that by taking antioxidants? Most things that have antioxidants in them are very healthy. I encourage you to eat these foods but they’re not necessarily going to stop the aging process. These foods are: acai berry, pomegranate, passion fruit, blueberries, kiwi, cranberries, apricots, prunes, and more. If they’re whole foods, they will typically contain antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Just a little though…

There are a lot of common myths about antioxidants. Part of that is free radicals must be destroyed! Again, as we mentioned at the beginning, free radicals are actually normal byproducts of normal metabolism. If we stop that, we’d be dead. We can’t stop that and we don’t want to stop that. We want to do it in a controlled manner.  Another myth is that all antioxidants are created equal. All these different foods have different antioxidants in them. They have different jobs. You want to get your antioxidants from a broad variety of foods. Another myth is that all antioxidants come from fruits and veggies. That’s not true because you can find them in meat, dairy, and eggs. Typically whole foods are a good source. The next myth is antioxidant fortified foods are healthier. There’s no evidence of this. You can get the antioxidants from whole foods. Adding more antioxidants to those foods has never been shown to be healthier. The last myth was a theoretical concept a few years ago. The myth is if I exercise and take antioxidants I will become super fit. However, the way muscle function improves is to have some stress on the muscle in order for function to improve. That’s why when we exercise we get sore.  A little bit of soreness is good.  A lot of soreness is not so good. The way we improve from a fitness standpoint is that you need to have some muscle growth there. Part of the way a muscle grows is by undergoing stress. To improve muscle function it is some of the result of this oxidative stress. If we prevent the oxidative stress during exercise you could potentially doing yourself more harm than good. You need to stress the muscle. Just be careful. You don’t want to injure yourself. Some of the best fitness gains occur during the aerobic into the anaerobic energy systems. By taking antioxidants, it may be harder for that to happen.

Here are a few tips for success! Eat your colorful veggies! The evidence is mixed about whether taking antioxidant supplements is beneficial. There’s never been a big study that’s shown that it’s really helpful. Eat the whole foods.  Most of what you see is marketing! The “Basics” is always important: eat right, exercise daily, take your vitamins, get plenty of rest, and handle stress. You have to do these things right. Throwing some supplements on top of that is not doing a whole lot to help. Adding antioxidants to the “Basics” potentially will be helpful. I will encourage you to go the whole food route.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a message below or email them to Success@CFWLS.com. Also if you think of some once we’re all done, give us a yell and we’ll answer them. Stop by the Center for Weight Loss Success and get your Body Composition Analysis done. You need to make sure you’re losing fat and preserving lean body mass.

Weight Regain and Getting Back on Track

Posted on April 29, 2019 by

You’ve regained some weight. It happens.  What are you going to do about it?

First, lets talk about the reasons for re-gaining weight and recognizing some of this back-sliding. Take charge of your thinking. We’ll talk a little about self-management skills and some tips to get you back on track and lead you to success.  picked up a very good book recently. It’s written by a psychologist who’s very attuned to this problem. She’s written previous books. She wrote The Beck Diet Solution. Her name is Judith Beck. I would encourage anyone who is struggling with weight to read it. It’s not a diet book but how you actually change your behavior towards eating.  She and her daughter took it one step further. They put together the next step in all this called The Diet Trap Solution. It looks at different behavior traps and mindsets that we fall into and what do you do about it. Very good book. I haven’t quite completed it yet. I might take some of those ideas and put them into a talk like this.

What are the typical reasons for regaining weight? The biggest reasons are shifting your calories to more carbohydrates and not exercising.  I hear so often that a patient is doing so well and then they drift off on the exercise. I preach on this over and over again. Keep that carbohydrate ratcheted down. Everyone has a carbohydrate tipping point. When you get above that tipping point you will struggle. For those people who have a really high tipping point, they’re probably not struggling. For those of us who have a low tipping point, we shift and we struggle. Count your carbohydrates!

There are other things that tend to affect this. Lack of sleep increases stress which leads to eating more comfort foods. Lots of things occur when we don’t get good quality sleep. Sleep is the way we recover. We get worn out during a day. We need to recover. If we don’t get good quality sleep we never actually recover. Stress hormones don’t go down.  Increased stress causes an increase in cortisol. You become leptin resistant. It’s a hormone made by your fatty tissue. It makes you feel satisfied when you eat something. Therefore, we increase comfort foods again which causes increased fat storage.  Certain medications can cause weight gain. The biggest culprits are the psych meds like anti-depressants. The only exception I’m aware of is Wellbutrin. It has a chemical appearance similar to some of the appetite suppressants. For some people, Wellbutrin helps them lose weight.  A lot of the blood pressure meds and most diabetic meds cause weight gain. Depo Provera causes weight gain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone not gain weight. I would encourage you to use a different birth control.  Medical conditions such as thyroid problems can cause weight gain. The thyroid regulates your overall metabolism.  Menopause obviously affects half the population. Aging is also a culprit. As we age, some of the hormone levels go down, specifically testosterone. Estradiol levels go down with menopause. Estradiol and testosterone both help you preserve lean body mass which keeps metabolism higher.  As estradiol levels go down during menopause, estrone levels go up and cause fat storage.  It gets easier to gain weight as you go through menopause. There are things we can do to combat that.

Many times we gain weight back because we start going back to old behaviors.  Almost all relapses occur within 90 days. It occurs fairly early. Sometimes during that 6-9 month period we really see people starting to struggle again because the old behaviors start sneaking back in. New behaviors have to become a habit. Backsliding occurs when you overeat any food after a lapse. This is often triggered by an event or situation (stressful relationship, social influences, etc.). Once we start doing this we drift back to our old behavior.  You need to use coping responses to combat the relapses. The following helps: positive self-talk, exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and discussions with supporters. You want to have these coping mechanisms in place because these backsliding situations will always develop. It can be a positive situation or negative that causes the backsliding. Sometimes this happens when we start categorizing food. I’m not a big fan of diet depravation.  The exception is that if there is truly a trigger food that sets off your eating (you can’t eat just one potato chip-you eat the whole bag) then you need to stay away from it. That’s something you have to figure out yourself.  But for most foods I don’t like to categorize them as “bad.” If we treat things as truly bad, it creates tension which leads to obsession. It’s really working on portion control. If others are telling you that you can’t have certain foods, it often leads to rebelling.

You want to take charge of your thinking. Typically errors in thinking almost always accompany ineffective coping skills. We want to change the strategy to help take control of your thinking.  Avoid the trap of perfectionism and unrealistic things. An unrealistic goal would be to be the same size you were at age 18. Use positive self-talk. Listen to yourself. What are you saying? Are you making excuses?
Are you making rationalizations? You want to challenge yourself, but you also want to be reasonable with yourself. Challenge yourself to commit to your goals. Learn to make better decisions. Don’t let your emotions cloud those decisions. We are emotional animals. We let emotions take control and that never works.

Develop self-management skills. Learn how to identify and change behavior patterns. Self-management tools include learning to: communicate effectively (be open and honest), problem solving (assess, plan, take action), self-monitor (track coping skills), mange conflict (handle relationships effectively(, cope with emotions (recognize healthy/unhealthy feelings), avoid thinking traps (challenge irrational beliefs), manage stress effectively (meditation, exercise), and mange time (“to do “ list, et priorities, follow a plan). There’s never enough time so we have to prioritize things.

Tips to help get you back on track. First, don’t beat yourself up. We all backslide. Try to figure out what event triggered a relapse and learn from it. Second, be patient. Creating new habits takes time. It’s something we have to work on over and over. Third, think outside the box. If you’re doing something that’s not working for you, it’s time to change what you’re doing. By doing the same things you’ve always done, you’ll get the same result. Those are one of the definitions of insanity-doing the same thing over and over again and think we’re going to get a different result. Take a different approach. If you’re struggling and have questions, talk to one of the counselors here at The Center for Weight Loss Success.  We have multiple programs here. I’m not a counselor. I’ll tell you what you need to do.  A big part of it is how you make that happen in your life. Sometimes sitting down with one of the counselors and figuring out what you’re struggling with and what the solutions are can be a big help. How can I change this? Change is hard!

Tips to re-start!  Try one of the “Jump Start/Quick Start” 2 week programs at CFWLS. It simplifies things using some of the shakes. It’s a simple thing to do. You have to translate that eventually into long-term. If you’re struggling and you’re going to do just one thing: count your carbs! You’re getting the most bang for your buck right there. Even when we think we’re doing well, we drift. If you’re going to do two things: count your protein! It’s easy to count. You want to make sure you haven’t drifted on that too. If you’re going to do three things: count your exercise! Write it down! If you don’t how we are going to know what was really wrong? We may think we’re doing everything right. But if you don’t write it down, we’ll never really know that. Typically writing it down will change your behavior. So simple things but not necessarily easy.

Tips for success! Arm yourself with knowledge. Use the info through the programs and staff at CFWLS to help you recognize backsliding and take the steps to stop it in its tracks. Go back and review the information. Acknowledge and celebrate when you take control of that first slip. Realize that we’re not going to be perfect. Keep supportive people around you. Recruit people to help you. The staff at CFWLS is always ready to help.

I mentioned we have the “Back on Track After Weight Loss Surgery.” We also have the whole digital program as well. You do it yourself. There are PDF’s you can download and print. There are a lot of things that go along with it.

If there are questions give us a yell here at CFWLS. You can email us at success@cfwls.com

The phone number is 757-873-1880. Stop by and get your body composition analysis done.  You should be receiving the recipes and weekly weight loss tips. Tune in to Losing Weight USA each Tuesday at 6:00pm for the next webinar. Remember it’s your life. Make it a healthy one!

Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau After Bariatric Surgery

Posted on April 22, 2019 by

Today we’re going to talk about those dreaded weight loss plateaus. What do we do about them?  What should you look for? We all dread them. They are going to happen. It doesn’t matter what we’re taught. You’re going to go through plateaus. What do you look for? What can you do to break through the plateaus? At some point you need to think about whether it’s your weight maintenance. That’s a slightly different topic. We’re not going there today. I’m going to just assume that you’re not where you want to be and not where you can be. So subsequently you’re at a weight loss plateau.

What is a weight loss plateau? Sometimes we look at the scale and it hasn’t budged in three days and therefore it’s a plateau. That’s not really a plateau. A weight loss plateau is when you’re doing the right things and your weight is stuck for a few weeks.  So, for two or three weeks nothing is happening. Subsequently then, yes, you can be in a weight loss plateau. Shorter than that means there can be just a lull in the action, so-to-speak. Your body adjusts. As it adjusts, it’s going to try and turn off weight loss. It doesn’t want you to lose weight. With any weight loss plan, your body is going to assume you’re in a state of deprivation. So, it doesn’t actually want you to lose weight. It wants to hang on to that energy source if you truly were in a famine.

We’re in a weight loss plateau. What is going on? What I usually do is give people questions to ask themselves about certain things. I’m going to give you this list of questions and we’re going to talk about what some of the solutions are.

Question #1—Have you actually cut your calories too low? Sometimes people do cut their calories down too low. If you cut them down too low, your body is going to go into starvation mode and you’re not going to lose weight very well. It’s hard to put an exact number on that. Potentially if you’re going lower than 1000 calories and you’re not in a medically supervised plan, that’s generally not the greatest thing. In the surgical plan right after surgery you’ll often be between 700-800 calories. Long-term that’s really not the right answer either. You want to make sure you haven’t cut calories too low.

Question #2—Are you getting enough water? This is probably one of the most common reasons I see initially in a weight loss plan and especially after surgery when things start slowing down. If you start to get a little behind in your water, the body will tend to hang on to everything-fat included. I encourage people to push the water.

Question #3-How many carbs are you really taking in? At The Center for Weight Loss Success we talk about restricting carbohydrates. Everyone is going to have a tipping point with carbohydrate. If you go above that tipping point you struggle with weight loss. Are you above your tipping point? If you don’t know what your tipping point is, it’s hard to know that answer. It is something we can figure out. It’s not necessarily easy to do.  You have to write it down! That goes along with one of our solutions-Journaling! Write these things down, especially carbohydrate. If you’re going to measure one thing, count your carbs. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that over the past couple of years.

Question #4-Are you getting enough protein? Carbohydrate influences insulin. You want to keep your insulin level as low as possible. Insulin is a hormone we can’t survive without. You’ve got to have some but you want to survive with the absolute smallest amount possible. Insulin can cause so many problems. Weight gain is just one of them. If you’re not getting in enough protein, your body will preferentially break down lean body mass, slowing your metabolism down. Protein manipulates other hormones too. Protein is more satisfying so you stay fuller for a longer period of time. It also increases growth hormone and glucagon. Glucagon is the opposite hormone of insulin. Insulin is telling your body to store fat. Glucagon is mobilizing the fat. As adults we don’t need that much growth hormone, but we make it because we can’t survive without it. If we can optimize what we do make, it’s going to help you preserve lean body mass, keeping your metabolism higher. So you want to make sure you’re getting in enough protein.

Question #5-Is your exercise too routine? Your body will get used to whatever exercise program you’re doing. When you’re body gets used to it, it doesn’t get the same out of it as it did originally. If your exercise gets too routine you don’t get as much out of it. The real trick with exercise is you want to preserve lean body mass to keep your metabolism as high as possible. Exercise alone typically doesn’t make you lose weight, but if you can preserve or build lean body mass you’re going to increase your metabolism and keep you on a weight loss track. The flip side to your exercise routine is whether you are exercising too hard? That can also slow down weight loss. Inherently that doesn’t make sense but it actually can do that because too much exercise can cause our stress hormone, cortisol, to go way up. When cortisol levels go up, it’s hard to lose weight. It makes us resistant to weight loss. This was a survival mechanism when we were stressed. Typically our biggest stress was not being able to find food. Stress typically makes us resistant to losing weight. It leads us into the next question.

Question # 6- Are you handling your stress alright? If you’re going through a stressful event, whether it be social, work, family, or medical, if you’re not handling stress well then it could turn on the plateau.

And, finally a couple things to look at as far as asking yourself about weight loss plateaus. What about caffeine and artificial sweeteners? Inherently both of those don’t make sense in a weight loss plan of turning off weight loss. But some people are sensitive to caffeine because it will increase your stress hormone because it’s a stimulant. Increasing stress hormones can make your resistant to losing weight. You want to be cutting back or getting rid of the caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate appetite which makes it harder to stick with the plan.

Artificial sweeteners can turn off weight loss for a couple of reasons. They can make us want sweet things. We get used to the sweet taste. They tend to be so much sweeter (even 1000 times) than sugar. Artificial sweeteners have no calories but it trains us to want something sweet. It makes it harder to stick to the diet plan. Also, they can often increase insulin levels. Inherently that doesn’t make sense. The sweetness you’re tasting from the artificial sweetener make the body think that you’re getting something that has a lot of calories. It’s expecting those carbohydrate calories so the body releases insulin. Hunger and cravings will increase. Insulin tells your body to store fat. Artificial sweeteners can turn your body into fat storing mode even though there are no calories in it.

What do we actually do about this? These are questions to ask yourself once you’ve hit a plateau. What are we going to do about these things? Some of these answers I hit a little bit on during the questions themselves.  What can you do?

  1. Write it down. Go back to journaling. It is a basic thing. If you don’t write it down, you’ll never really figure out where the problem area it. You have to write down everything. I’m referring to what you’re eating, drinking, and how much activity.
  2. You need to make sure you’re counting the carbohydrate, protein, and water. You want to watch all those things. If they’re all good, then we have to figure out how we work with that. Push the water. Hydration!!
  3. Go back to the beginning. Many people do the Jump Start diet. It’s using some of the protein meal replacement shakes. It gives you a good protein source, controlled carbohydrate, calories will be fairly low, and it gives you exact numbers so that you know exactly what happens when you have X amount of calories, carbs, and protein.
  4. Look at the exercise. Is it routine? Now it’s time to change gears. You really want to make sure you’re doing plenty of resistance training. You can do body weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats). You don’t necessarily need weights to do it. The best exercise for weight loss is high intensity interval training (HIIT). The best piece of exercise equipment you can have is a heart rate monitor. You’re pushing your heart rate up to near max, back and forth. Potentially you’re going into the anaerobic training where you go up to your heart rate max. You’re crossing over into anaerobic metabolism which gives you the best fitness gains. You can’t do that if you’re just starting in fitness. But if you are into fitness and you’re good at that, this is something that can really get you going and get you back on that weight loss plan.
  5. Something I mentioned is ratchetting down that carbohydrate and lifting up that protein. You can do it with food. Again, you have to count it.
  6. We can start looking at over-the-counter products. There are a lot of different things out there. Green tea is actually one of the things that can be helpful. It can boost your metabolism about 4%. In a 2000 calorie diet that’s about 80 calories. If you’re on a 1000 calorie diet, it’s about 40 calories. It’s not really that much but enough that can help to get you back on the weight loss curve. Cayenne peppers as a supplement or eating the food can boost your metabolism. There’s some evidence that probiotics can change your intestinal flora. Often it can help with weight loss.
  7. Make sure you’re doing the basics. Are you taking your vitamins? We often think of B-vitamins as our energy vitamins. You can either do B-vitamin injections to potentially jump start a weight loss plan or a high dose of B-6. I would encourage doing an activated form of B-6. It can bump up your metabolism some. We’re talking about 50 or 100mgs. If you’re buying B-6 by itself it’s usually 1 or 2 tablets.
  8. It’s kind of like an amino acid. It helps mobilize fat molecules into the mitochondria. The fat molecules are what you’re trying to get rid of. The mitochondria are your energy furnace. That’s what is actually being burned for energy and truly converted to energy. By itself it’s not energy until it’s converted to ATP. That happens in your mitochondria. Carnitine helps mobilize fatty molecules into the mitochondria. It’s like a steam engine. You’ve got to get the fuel into the furnace. Carnitine gives you a bigger shovel so it’s easier to move the fuel into the furnace. Typical you may need to take 1-2 grams of carnitine. You can find it in most health food stores.

Those are some things you can do as far as working through some weight loss plateaus. We went through a lot of information. Weight loss plateaus are very common. It happens to everybody until their finally in maintenance. So it’s literally going to happen to everybody. You want to work through it. The last thing you want to do is throw in the towel. You can go through those questions as well as the solutions that I talked about. You can also use appetite suppressants. They are carefully regulated by the FDA. But if you’re in a medical or surgical weight loss plan and are stuck or have cravings, appetite suppressants can be very helpful. They just have to be monitored very carefully. Some people are not candidates for them.  Another thing that helps with cravings is chromium. It’s a mineral just like sodium and potassium. We need minerals in tiny amounts. If we take them in higher doses it can help with cravings. You can buy it at health food stores, pharmacies, and here at CFWLS. You do need to take it three times a day. It will say take one a day on the bottle. That doesn’t work. You usually need to take it three times a day.

There are lots of little solutions. Hopefully something there will help you with your weight loss plateau. Work through it. If you have questions please let us know. We’re here to help. If you want more information go to our corporate website which is www.cfwls.com  If you want to join me each week in a webinar, we talk about all kinds of different topics about weight and overall health. You can go to losing weight USA and sign up there.  The website is: www.losingweightusa.com    Sign up and you’ll get access to me plus recipes and tips every week. Thank you all for listening. If you have questions just give us a yell here at Center for Weight Loss Success. I will talk to you on the next podcast. Remember-it’s your life. Make it a healthy one!

Low Carb Diets and the Truth About Water Weight

Posted on April 08, 2019 by

It’s often thought that low carbohydrate diets are only good for short term weight loss because they cause you to lose water.  Isn’t that bad??  Yes it is good for short term weight loss is because you lose water. The reason you lose water is because insulin levels will go down on low carbohydrate diets. Insulin is a hormone that tends to make you retain sodium. When you retain sodium, you’re going to retain water. So, when insulin levels go down on a low carb diet, you no longer will retain sodium. Subsequently you’re going to get rid a lot of that extra water that goes along with the sodium. One of the nice things about that is you can actually have a little bit of extra sodium because you won’t retain it. So, yet, you will lose weight fairly quickly on a low carb diet because you lose some water weight. But you’re also losing fat.

Remember-it’s your life. Make it a healthy one!

What If Your Doctor Doesn’t Agree with Weight Loss Surgery?

Posted on March 19, 2019 by

Has your doctor mentioned weight loss as a solution for your ailments, aches and complaints? If obesity related diseases are problematic or your body mass index exceeds a healthy range, your doctor may refer you to a weight loss specialist or nutritionist.  You, like the majority of people with weight issues have tried numerous diet plans, most resulting in failure at long-term results. You’ve possibly even considered weight loss surgery. Do you know if your doctor is on board with surgical weight loss options?  We receive patient referrals from many practices but not all doctors are in favor of the surgical option. Their bias may be based on lack of research or experience with patients who have had successful weight loss procedures. Seeking a second opinion is common-place in the medical field. Don’t be afraid to keep looking.

At CFWLS, we encourage people considering weight loss surgery to be their own best advocate for personal health. Gather the information necessary to have an educated discussion with your doctor. Watch our Weight Loss Surgery WebClass or attend one of our free Weight Loss Surgery Seminars  to get started.

The medications that are prescribed to combat high cholesterol, diabetes, hyper-tension and other conditions often simply mask the symptoms while failing to get to the heart of the problem. Losing weight and keeping it off may result in eliminating these medications from your daily routine! The benefits don’t stop there, you may notice less joint pain, more energy, better sleep and a host of other positive outcomes!

Finding an experienced, board-certified Bariatric Surgeon who can answer your questions and explain your options to you is imperative. A comprehensive post-surgical follow-up plan will provide your best possible long-term outcome. Your search may be over. Dr. Thomas W. Clark is double board certified as a surgeon and Bariatrician. He has performed over 5,000 weight loss procedures and has dedicated almost 25 years to helping people lose weight and learn how to keep it off for life. His experienced staff will guide you and help you enjoy the process along the way!

Having a supportive doctor is important, but ultimately, it’s your body and Weight Loss Surgery is a personal choice. Do your research and obtain all pertinent information. Weigh the risks versus the benefits. Make an informed decision. Schedule a call with our office manager, Cat Williamson, to discuss your next step.

Tired of Fighting Fatigue?

Posted on March 11, 2019 by

fighting fatigueTired of fighting fatigue? What do you normally reach for when you feel sluggish or lethargic?  ‘Something to eat’ is not the best answer.  Now, if you had said a tall glass of water or even a pillow, you would be on the right track!  Hydration and Rest are vital for your health and well-being.  They are two of the key ingredients to feeling and performing your best.

Staying hydrated will keep you energized and may help you shed weight–even mild dehydration can slow metabolism. Every single cell in your body needs water. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to your body cells and removes waste products. We recommend that you avoid drinking too many artificially sweetened beverages. Even though they are low in calories, they may interfere with your brain’s signals, prompting you to eat more. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding sliced citrus fruits or cucumber for some flavor.

Drinking enough fluids is one of the simplest ways to keep energized and stay focused. A study of healthy individuals found that 92% felt fatigued after limiting fluids and water-rich foods for 15 hours; they also had lapses in memory and reported difficulty concentrating. When it comes to maintaining your energy, select meals and snacks that are rich in water, such as fresh produce or protein drinks.

The average person loses about 10 cups of water through daily activities.  Your actual needs will vary based on climate, diet and activity.  Have you replenished your system today?

Sleep, or more likely the lack of it, is sometimes responsible for our lack of energy.  Your body counts on being able to restore balance to your hunger hormones and other systems as you sleep each night.  When this doesn’t happen, your ghrelin and leptin stores may not be providing the proper signals to your brain, causing you to overeat.

You have probably noticed that it’s harder to make good choices when you’re tired. You may talk yourself out of going to exercise class or taking a walk when you get home from work.  Dinner may sound like too much of a chore and you find yourself at your old drive-through favorite.

Establish a regular sleep schedule. This will strengthen your body’s circadian rhythm and help you get the rest that you need each night.

Don’t let your defenses get down.  Arm yourself with plenty of water and a good night’s sleep.  You’ll be ready to take on the day!

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