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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.

Do Growth Hormones Help with Weight Loss?

Posted on May 20, 2019 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Skinny on Ketosis and Low Carb Diets

Posted on April 15, 2019 by

Low Carbohydrate diets actually have a lot of misconceptions. So we’re going to go through a bunch of them. Let’s start out with the first two I hear most commonly.

The first misconception: Ketosis is dangerous.

The second misconception: Low carb diets make you lose bone mass and are bad for your kidneys.

Ketosis just means you have ketones in your bloodstream. We have ketones in our bloodstream all the time. It’s just the level of ketones.  Ketones are really just an energy source. They come from the breakdown of fat. Isn’t that what you want in a weight loss plan? You want to have some ketones in your bloodstream so you can use them as an energy source. Ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, and that’s a completely different thing. That occurs when the ketones get about 10 times the level of what would happen in a low carbohydrate diet. Ketosis by itself is not dangerous at all. It’s just an energy source.

Initially in low carb diets we saw that there was some extra calcium in the urine. But long-term we found that we actually absorb more calcium. So for a little bit of calcium that’s lost in the urine, there’s still a positive calcium there. We don’t actually lose bone mass. We can actually improve bone mass. Kidney failure doesn’t happen. There’s a difference between kidneys that can have low carb diets and kidneys that shouldn’t have low carb diets. What I mean is, with kidneys that are normal, there’s no problem with having a low carbohydrate diet. Kidneys that are abnormal should not be on a low carbohydrate diet. Typically, on a low carbohydrate diet, you’re going to have a little more protein, and it’s the protein that’s the problem.  It’s the extra nitrogen in protein that kidneys can’t handle if you’ve got bad kidneys. If you have normal kidneys, it could actually improve kidney function.

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!

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.