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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.

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!

Optimizing Weight and Health by Controlling Your Insulin Levels

Posted on March 25, 2019 by


Today I’m going to give you a talk about some of my thoughts about weight loss and also some of my thoughts optimizing health in the long term. My concept of this has evolved over a number of years. This discussion is pertinent for anybody looking to improve their health or looking to lose weight (whether or not you’ve had weight loss surgery).  This is not just about losing weight. This can pertain to anybody. Hopefully this discussion will help many people.

We’re talking about optimizing health and optimizing weight loss. It’s a new year, so all of us have that somewhere in out “to do” list somewhere.  The essence of any weight loss plan (of health plan) will always be behavior modification.  If we don’t change our behavior then literally nothing will change in our life. We have to do the changing. It can’t be that we’re waiting for everybody else to change for us and that will change our life. That just doesn’t work very well.  We have to change behavior. Change is not going to occur unless you change your behavior! It really is up to you. No matter how you look at it, it’s still a personal responsibility. That’s true for me. It’s true for everyone.

This is an overview. I also call it an Over Simplification. Controlling weight and health, I’ve become convinced, is controlling insulin levels. If we control insulin levels, we control weight and health.  Insulin is a hormone. Its main function is to control blood sugars. When blood sugar goes up, insulin goes up to help keep our blood sugars controlled.  Insulin causes a lot of other potential problems.  It causes the following: water retention, increases B/P, increases chol/TG’s, increases inflammation, increases heart risk, and turns on fat storage (weight gain). If we can control insulin weight and we can control health.  The real question is how do we control insulin??? It’s a hormone you can’t live without. I’m digressing a bit. But if you look back 100 years ago before insulin was available as a medication Type I diabetics (they make no insulin) were pretty much given a death sentence because it was a slowly wasting disease. We want the insulin numbers as low as possible because it worsens so many other health problems. We can control blood sugar somewhat by getting rid of anything that raises blood sugar; keeping calories low, keeping carbohydrates really low and a modest amount of protein.  Subsequently we can control the blood sugars ok without any insulin. Without insulin, you can’t store fat. So, 100 years ago, people with Type I diabetes would just keep losing weight.  Zero insulin is a bad number.

Controlling weight and health is controlling insulin levels.  How do you control insulin? There are 4 ways. There are actually two more that I’m not going to get into too much. We need to control stress and get quality sleep. When we are highly stressed and suffer from poor sleep, cortisol levels go up which results in higher insulin levels. Control stress through deep breathing, exercising, warm bath, or whatever.  But there are four main ways of controlling insulin. Number one is low calories. Insulin levels will come down if you lower your calories. The issue is, if we take calories too low, over time your metabolism will slow down significantly. Cutting calories way back long term isn’t necessarily a doable thing and might not lead to as much weight loss as we would like because of slowing of metabolism. Exercise can be very helpful. The more intense the exercise, the better it works. That’s where high intensity interval training and the weight training comes in. The more active you are, the more controlled your insulin will be. Anyone that has Type II Diabetes should absolutely be exercising. Low carb has got to be the cornerstone of an eating plan to control insulin levels. It’s carbs that influence insulin the most. If you ignore eating low carb, it’s going to be next to impossible to control insulin levels. How low is low? I’ll get into that later. But it is somewhat based on the individual. The fourth way to control insulin levels is intermittent fasting. It works the very best to control insulin levels.  Intermittent fasting means not eating. Two of the reasons it works is because it’s both low calorie and low carbohydrate. There are lots of other reasons it works too.

How do you actually implement these ways to control insulin levels?  Three out of the four have to do with eating.  You can say that diet trumps everything else. We still have to really work on our diet. Words to live by:  eat a small amount of good food slowly. Make that your mantra! If you do that you’ll typically be eating healthy. When I say “good” it doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes good like a candy bar. By good, I’m talking about quality food. Tape it to your refrigerator door or make it your screen saver.

Let’s talk about the “concept” of eating.  This is your overall thought process of eating.  “How little can I eat and be satisfied”, NOT “How much can I cram in there…”  The difference between those two statements is generally a good 20-25%. That’s the mindset. Then we need to look at the “pattern” of eating.  The pattern of eating is the simplest thing to change.  When we’re eating has nothing to do with what we’re eating. I like for people to have a good pattern of eating. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a regular pattern. It can actually be an irregular pattern. If you think about it, throughout history it typically has been an irregular pattern. For some individuals, it works really well eating every few hours. I assure you that’s not my patient population.  Forty to fifty years ago that was the norm. The pattern of eating was typically 3 meals a day. That was it. There weren’t a whole lot of snacks because you didn’t want to “ruin your appetite.” Obesity and these health issues weren’t nearly as prevalent. That also meant there were 12 hours after that 6:00 supper. Fasting was typically part of a normal eating pattern 50 years ago. Thousands of years ago fasting was a huge part of it because food wasn’t available. You were lucky if you got one or two meals a day!  It’s figuring out a pattern that’s good for you. Again, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a regular pattern. It might work well for you, but other people not so much. For the surgical patients we often tell them they should eat breakfast each day. There is some rationale to that. But for long term most people get beyond the surgery and feel good and it’s not necessary. But you need to get your protein and hydration in. It’s really hard to do right after surgery. It’s not hard to do long term. Eating when you’re not hungry is probably not such a great idea. Skipping meals is ok unless you just had surgery. Some people need a snack. Others don’t need a snack.

Remember that what we’re trying to do is control insulin levels. It doesn’t matter what you eat. Anything you eat will make insulin levels go up. You need to have time for insulin levels to go back down. If you’re eating every couple of hours, insulin levels never go back down. There is good evidence that the same size meal taken late in the evening versus earlier in the day will stimulate a much more dramatic insulin response.  A much more dramatic insulin response is going to turn on fat storage that much more. Literally the same calories eaten at a different time can affect us significantly. With the Mediterranean diet they have the big meal mid-day and typically light eating in the evening. In the US we have that backwards typically. We’re often having our latest meal later into the evening. If it’s really getting later into the evening you’re getting a much bigger insulin response which turns on fat storage and turns on all the other problems. The pattern of eating is something we have to figure out. It’s simple to change. You’re either eating or you’re not eating. When you make the decision to eat, there are so many other decisions that have to be made; what are you going to eat? How much? What’s the makeup of all this stuff?  The pattern of eating is the simplest to change. But simple doesn’t mean easy.

What should a meal be? A meal size should be a small plate size. It’s true whether you’ve had surgery or not. A small amount of good food slowly. The best food has no labels (non-processed food). That means we prepared it ourselves.  It’s the processing that causes a lot of these problems. Try to avoid processed foods. Purchase it yourself. Prepare it yourself. Get it from the edges of the supermarket.

So what am I going to eat? This is where we have lots of decision making and lots of shades of grey. The basics of any eating plan is looking at three things:  how many calories, how much protein, and how much carbohydrate you’ll be sensitive to. I didn’t say a whole lot about fat. Fat will influence your calories. Fat also has minimal influence on insulin. I don’t recommend “high protein” diet. High protein actually stimulates insulin levels significantly.  The trick is figuring out the numbers. There’s always a calorie ceiling. If we go above a certain number of calories (for every person it’s different-no matter what you’re eating) you’re not going to lose weight. There’s always a calorie ceiling.  No matter what we eat it will influence insulin levels.  But carbohydrate raises it the most. Just because you stay below that calorie ceiling doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight. It just means you’re not gaining weight. That’s all.

We can’t survive without protein. Your body is utilizing it second to second, day to day for everything that’s happening.  It’s used for heart beating, digestion, breathing, growing hair, etc.… If we don’t take in enough protein each day, your body is going to steal what it needs from your lean body mass. If you’re breaking down lean body mass, you’re slowing your metabolism down.  Lean body mass is what drives our overall metabolism. The more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolism.  How many calories does a pound of muscle burn? It depends on how well trained it is. In an elite athlete, a pound of muscle is burning calories like crazy. World class athletes can eat 7-8000 calories a day.  Couch potato muscle doesn’t burn much! Muscle burns more calories than fat. The better trained the muscle mass, the higher your metabolism.

Everyone has a carbohydrate “tipping point.” That means that at a certain level of carbohydrates your insulin levels will jump up. When insulin levels go up, you retain water and store fat like crazy. It turns on fat storage. When you turn on fat storage you’re not going to lose weight. You can figure out what your tipping point is, but it’s not easy to do. The healthier the carbohydrate and less processed, your tipping point will be higher.  If you’re exercising your tipping point will be higher. If you’re not very carbohydrate sensitive you’re tipping point will be higher. There are people who aren’t carb sensitive who eat a lot of carbs and don’t gain weight.  They just have a more efficient physiology. If it only takes a tiny amount of insulin to make your blood sugar decent then you’re not going to turn on fat storage.

Here are some things to “chew” on. “Kinda” working on weight loss does not work. You need to be all in. If you’re only going to do one thing—count your carbohydrate intake. It gives you the most bang for your buck. There’s no such thing as carbohydrate deficiency. Since carbohydrate is not an essential nutrient and they do significantly influence insulin, try to get the carbs as low as possible. 2/3 of the population is carb sensitive.  Close to 95% of my patient population is carb sensitive. Many of those people are also insulin resistant. It’s like a stepping stone; Carbohydrate sensitivity to insulin resistance, to diabetes type II. This means when you eat just a little bit of carbohydrate you tend to get very large blood sugar swings. What should happen is the blood sugar goes up a little bit after eating carbs. The insulin levels only go up a little bit. If your carbohydrate sensitive, what tends to happen is a delay with the insulin.

It’s supposed to kick in but it doesn’t. Subsequently, you get a huge blood sugar swing. Then the blood sugar plummets. The insulin is chasing the blood sugar around all day. The blood sugar swings tend to cause symptoms: headaches, irritability, not thinking clearly, and weight gain. Weight gain comes from the blood sugar swing up which causes a big release of insulin. Insulin turns on the fat storage. The treatment is to not get the upswing. If you don’t get the rise up, you don’t get the fall. People who are fasting keep their blood sugars rock even. It’s only when you start eating that things get out of whack.

Many doctors, clinicians, and dieticians don’t understand this probably because they haven’t thought about it. The concept is very straight forward.  A blood glucose of 100 is the highest end of normal. Ideal range is 65-85. If your blood sugar is 100, what does that actually mean as far as how much sugar is in your blood? It’s only a tiny amount. We each have about 5 liters of blood in us. So if we say your blood sugar is 100, how much sugar is in your entire blood stream? The answer is 5 grams. That’s a miniscule amount. It’s the amount in a sugar cube. If you’re sensitive to carbohydrate, it only takes a tiny amount to get a blood sugar swing. 5 grams is ½ an Oreo, 1 Triscuit, 1/5 of a banana, ¼ apple, or ¼ slice of bread. If you have just one of those food items, you’re potentially doubling your blood sugar. A tiny thing can have major implications with your health. If your blood sugar is 80, that’s only 4 grams. If you eat ½ an Oreo, you’ve more than doubled your blood sugar. If you’re sensitive to carbohydrates (2/3 of the population is), it only takes tiny amounts to throw this out of whack. This turns on all those health problems.

The “core” of the eating plan is what you need to concentrate on.  The best food has not labels. We fix it ourselves. We get it from the perimeter of the grocery store. Eat just 3 things.  Number 1 is hydration. Water is the best thing to drink. Get rid of almost everything else. Number 2 is good protein sources. We would die without protein. The best sources are meat, seafood, cheese, and eggs. They are protein with no carbohydrates. This is considered adequate, not high protein. High protein will make insulin levels go up high. The whole concept is preserving lean body mass that keeps your metabolism decent. Number 3 is the vegetable/ salad stuff. It’s unprocessed food. No one ever gained 100 pounds eating too much broccoli. They’re low calorie, nutrient dense, and fairly low in carbohydrate. If it falls outside the “core”, don’t eat it! Easier said than done. The concept is simple but not easy to do.

The other end of the spectrum is the processed carbohydrates. This is the low carb diet simplified (LCDS). There are 3 things: the starches, the crumbly carbs and fruit. Fruit can be the downfall of many weight loss plans. It’s not because it’s not healthy, but it has a lot of sugar. It can turn off weight loss because it can affect insulin. Remember that eating healthy doesn’t correlate with weight loss. They’re two different things. The starches are potato, rice, pasta, bread, and corn. You really want to avoid the processed foods. The crumbly carbs (what I call the 6 “C”s). They are chips, cookies, crackers, cereal, cake, and candy. Get rid of them. Simple to understand, but not easy to do.

I’m going to give you the Basic Health Strategies that I encourage everybody to do. I try to do these things myself but I’m not perfect at it. I’m not willing to tell you to do something that I’m not willing to do.  The first is monitoring.  The scale is the best monitor we have. Weight yourself routinely. I encourage people to weigh themselves daily. I know everyone else out there from your dietician to your other physicians say not to weigh yourself every day because weight fluctuates up and down and you don’t want to be disappointed. The best time to weigh yourself is early in the morning. Get in the routine of weighing yourself every day. The reason is not to just look at the number, but you need to reflect on the past 24 hours. What happened or what did you do differently the past 24 hours that affected your weight? It’s relatively easy to look back on 24 hours. It might be as simple as you ate more salt the day before or you didn’t have a bowl movement. Very likely it could be too many carbohydrates which caused too much of an insulin response. The insulin caused you to retain water. It’s more difficult to reflect on a week or two.

The second basic health strategy is eating. Think “how little can I eat to stay satisfied”, not how much can I cram in there! Everyone has a carbohydrate tipping point where they struggle. The core of your eating plan is hydration (water or something that’s natural with no artificial sweeteners or flavors), protein, and veggies. Significant evidence has shown that diet sodas (even without carbs) will make you gain weight because there’s a significant insulin response. It’s not that it affects your calories or blood sugar necessarily, but what does it do to insulin? The insulin effect is the key.

Exercise absolutely helps with controlling insulin levels. The more intense, the better off you are. The biggest misconception is thinking that you need to exercise longer. But you need to increase intensity, not duration. You can get a tremendous workout in 20 minutes. There are a lot of examples out there. Nobody has to go to the fitness center for 1 ½ hours. This can be done at home in your own time.

Sleep is important because of cortisol levels. If you have poor quality of sleep, you’re typically going to struggle. Control stress. When it is out of control we struggle with our weight and health.

Intermittent fasting (IF) can be a tremendous addition to any health plan. Fasting is not starvation. They’re two different things. Starvation is something forced on us that we don’t choose to do and we don’t know where our next meal is coming from. Fasting is something we choose to do. We know when our next meal is coming, we just choose not to have it. Your body’s response is completely different. The hormonal changes that happen with IF actually work to improve health and decrease weight. Growth hormone goes up. The reality is we all fast when we go to sleep at night for about 8-10 hours. The world record for fasting is 382 days. The point is that it can be done safely and for an extended period of time. The question for each individual is how long to do it and how often. I can help you figure that out.

The final health strategy is personal responsibility. No one can do it for you. You have to decide you’re going to do this and then actually do it. It’s nice to talk about it and have support but you have to do it.

A few resources before I wind this down.  The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living is a good book about how carbohydrate works.  It’s written by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek. Stephen is a physician and PhD. Jeff is a researcher and he’s at the University of Ohio. They’re very smart guys who live this stuff. Dr. Phinney has studied this for 30 or 40 years now! They have a second book called The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. This book looks at how you can actually improve athletic performance with low carb. 15 years ago we talked about carb loading. But you don’t need to. You can improve athletic performance with low carbs. A very good book by Dr. Jason Fung is The Complete Guide to Fasting.  You can get them on Amazon.

If you think of questions, just pick up the phone and call the office (757-873-1880). Don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail. Our address is:  www.cfwls.com  If you’re contemplating surgery know that more occurs than just having a smaller stomach. There are hormonal changes. The ghrelin levels go down which helps with controlling insulin levels.

Our nutrition store is open to the public. Come by and see us. Thank you for listening. Hopefully this was helpful. I apologize for dragging on a lot longer than I thought I would. This is important stuff. This is an overview of weight and health. Controlling weight and health long-term is controlling insulin levels.  Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear from you. Take care. Have a good day.

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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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.

My Advice to You About Weight Loss Surgery – Don’t Wait!

Posted on September 04, 2017 by

Allen Fabijan 2Meet Allen Fabijan – you may already know him as ‘Some Guy Named Allen’ from US106.1. What you may not know, is Allen chose weight loss surgery as a tool to help him improve his health and quality of life.

Allen has recently completed Weight Management University for Weight Loss Surgery™ here at Dr. Clark’s Center for Weight Loss Success.  He has lost over 130 pounds since he began his journey to lose weight and improve his health. Join him as he shares his struggles and successes along the way!

“If I could give one piece of advice to someone who is considering weight loss surgery it would be WHY WAIT? What are you waiting for? Are you waiting on the next holiday? Are you waiting on the next phase or chapter of your life?  What are you waiting for?  Number 1, you might not get a chance to wait.  You know it if you’re dealing with what I’m dealing with. Every time your heart flutters or something is uncomfortable the thought goes through your head “Is this it?”  “Am I going to end up in a hospital?” There’s no need to wait. I went in the first week of June and a year later I’m down 120 pounds.  I wish I had done this a lot sooner.”

“There’s no reason to wait. Go do it. Go see Dr. Clark. You’ll get all the support, all the help that you need. Any tool is at your disposal.  There’s no excuse.  There’s no need to wait anymore.  Go get healthy.  Go feel better.  Go get thin! Go see Dr. Clark!”

To learn how weight loss surgery could change your life, watch our free webclass at: https://cfwls.com/weight-loss-surgery/free-online-weight-loss-surgery-seminar/

The Problems I Faced – Big and Small – Weight Loss Surgery Helped Them All

Posted on July 31, 2017 by

Allen Fabijan 4Meet Allen Fabijan – you may already know him as ‘Some Guy Named Allen’ from US106.1. What you may not know, is Allen chose weight loss surgery as a tool to help him improve his health and quality of life.

Allen has recently completed Weight Management University for Weight Loss Surgery™ here at Dr. Clark’s Center for Weight Loss Success.  He has lost over 130 pounds since he began his journey to lose weight and improve his health. Join him as he shares his struggles and successes along the way!

“I’m radio personality.  I’m out and about all the time. I have to be confidant. I have to exude confidence. I think that the hard part for me was that I was faking it all the time. I was worried about my weight so I would make a joke to deflect.”

“Unfortunately, I’m thin now so I lost all of my fat guy jokes. But I’ll come up with new ones! The confidence that I needed with my job, career, family, and friends was really being impacted by my weight. I was internalizing that and it leads to all kinds of problems. Insecurity is a miserable thing.  I don’t think anyone who is out there dealing with weight issues isn’t insecure on some level somewhere, some time. I don’t think people realize that how the guilt and burden of weight you carry isn’t just on your body. It’s hundreds of pounds on your soul. I don’t know how else to really say that. It’s not just the physical weight that you carry. It’s the weight of shame, guilt, insecurity, that drives from being overweight.”

To learn how weight loss surgery could change your life, watch our free webclass at: https://cfwls.com/weight-loss-surgery/free-online-weight-loss-surgery-seminar/

I Finally Said ‘Enough is Enough’! Weight Loss Surgery is My Solution

Posted on July 24, 2017 by

Allen Fabijan 3Meet Allen Fabijan – you may already know him as ‘Some Guy Named Allen’ from US106.1. What you may not know, is Allen chose weight loss surgery as a tool to help him improve his health and quality of life.

Allen has recently completed Weight Management University for Weight Loss Surgery™ here at Dr. Clark’s Center for Weight Loss Success.  He has lost over 130 pounds since he began his journey to lose weight and improve his health. Join him as he shares his struggles and successes along the way!

“I honestly can say it wasn’t one thing that pushed me over.  It was the culmination of everything.  But there is one thing. I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought “what am I waiting for?!” Am I waiting for the heart attack?  Am I waiting for the diabetes? Am I waiting for my kids to have another intervention with me about putting the hamburger down Dad and taking a walk? What am I waiting for?  It made no sense. I saw a pattern of ‘I’ll do THIS after I do THIS’ or ‘when I hit THIS age’, etc…. I recently turned 40 and what was I waiting for?”

“Now that I’m 40 I’m at one of the lowest weights I’ve ever been in my life and what did I wait for? Now the biggest question is why did I wait so long to take this step?”

To learn how weight loss surgery could change your life, watch our free webclass at: https://cfwls.com/weight-loss-surgery/free-online-weight-loss-surgery-seminar/

When It Comes to Weight Loss Surgery – You Want Dr. Clark and the Center for Weight Loss Success

Posted on July 17, 2017 by

Dr. Thomas W. Clark and Allen FabijanMeet Allen Fabijan – you may already know him as ‘Some Guy Named Allen’ from US106.1. What you may not know, is Allen chose weight loss surgery as a tool to help him improve his health and quality of life.

Allen has recently completed Weight Management University for Weight Loss Surgery™ here at Dr. Clark’s Center for Weight Loss Success.  He has lost over 130 pounds since he began his journey to lose weight and improve his health. Join him as he shares his struggles and successes along the way!

“I found Dr. Clark through a recommendation.  My boss at the radio station said he had a friend who lost a lot of weight, looks great, and he seems healthy.  ‘You need to go figure out what he did.  Go talk to him’.  The company said they would support me in any way they could. They probably wanted me to keep making them money, keep me around, alive a little bit longer.  I’m glad they sat me down and talked with me.’

“I had been to other doctors in the area that offer the same types of services.  The thing with Dr. Clark was the consultation was completely different.  It was really about who I was and what I needed and I didn’t feel like I was just another person being shoveled through a surgery line. The other major thing with Dr. Clark’s program was the ability to catch a webinar or to pull up a video or to get information on my schedule and my time. This was huge for me because I might have a question at 2:00 a.m. after returning from some event that I need answered. The information is there any time I need it.  I can access it.  That really helped push me over the edge”.

“I live in Virginia Beach and Dr. Clark is in Newport News but it’s never been a problem.  It’s been easy because if I need anything there’s some virtual, digital, or e-mails system or program that I can access from anywhere I am at any time.  I was in Nashville and trying to figure out something to eat. I went to the CFWLS website and something popped up so I had to go try it. So it’s great.  That’s what pushed me over to the edge to go with CFWLS.”

To learn how weight loss surgery could change your life, watch our free webclass at: https://cfwls.com/weight-loss-surgery/free-online-weight-loss-surgery-seminar/