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Tag Archives: weight loss virginia

High Fructose Corn Syrup – Just a Sweetener?

Posted on May 25, 2021 by

High fructose corn syrup can be found in almost everything. Is it the “fruit of the devil” or is it really just a sweetener? Are there more problems with it than just being a sweetener? There’s been a lot of controversy over HFCS. When you think of sugar, you generally think of the white stuff in the bowl. Starting in the mid 1970’s, HFCS began to sneak into our food and beverages. Now it makes up >40% of all caloric sweeteners added to food and beverages. The annual intake has increased 1000% since then. American’s health has suffered. Is this just a coincidence? Is there a potential cause here too?

 

Is HFCS an innocent vegetable or is it liquid death??!!

It’s in everything: soft drinks, fruit juice, frozen yogurts, ketchup, canned fruit, cereal, etc.… It’s in so many products now that if a product doesn’t contain HFCS there will be a label on it stating there is no HFCS.

HFCS was introduced in 1957. It’s a chemical reaction that changes starch in corn to a true sweetener. The industrialization didn’t occur until the mid-1960’s. This was also the time when Castro took over Cuba. A lot of the US sugar came from sugar cane grown in Cuba. When Castro came into power, there was an embargo and we couldn’t import sugar any longer. We had to find a different sweetener and we had lots of extra corn. The farmers were really good at it. High tariff on cane and subsidies for corn farmers made HFCS extremely cheap. So it made its way into just about every food product that uses sweetener.

The problem was we didn’t know if there was a difference between one sweetener versus another. Corn is milled to produce corn starch. Corn starch is processed to yield corn syrup which is almost all glucose. Glucose by itself isn’t very sweet. A number of enzymes are sequentially added to change some of the glucose to fructose. Fructose is a much sweeter sweetener. The typical final concentration of HFCS used in most foods and beverages is about: 55% fructose, 42% glucose, and 3% other sugars.

Why should we care?

Is it really natural? In the chemical transformation could there be mercury contamination? That was a question back in the early days. The other thing that occurs when we do this enzymatic reaction is the formation of carbonyls. Carbonyls can potentially be formed in carbonated beverages. It typically comes from HFCS. The problem is carbonyls can increase cellular damage potentially leading to diabetes. Is it from the carbonyls or from the sugar itself? This also was a time when Americans were taking in a lot more sugar and carbohydrates. It was around the time people were talking about low fat diets. Which change in our diets caused the most problems? It’s hard to tell.

Regular sugar comes from processing sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide (2 sugar molecules). Sucrose is a glucose and a fructose bonded together. When sugar is digested it’s broken down into 50% glucose and 50% fructose. That doesn’t sound much different than HFCS. There is a difference. Sucrose does have more steps of digestion. HFCS are monosaccharides and don’t need to be digested. The percentages are different than sugar.

Sucrose has the same molecular formula as the glucose and fructose but there’s a lot that has to be broken. It takes more to break it down and utilize it. Is the fructose the problem and not the glucose? Glucose is what we utilize as an energy source. Any carbohydrate we take in that’s used as an energy source is eventually broken down into glucose. Could it be the fructose? Inherently it doesn’t make sense. Fructose is “fruit sugar.” Historically man ate only a small amount of fructose (<15 grams/day). We didn’t have big fruit farms or anything like that. Hunter/gatherers would stumble on a fruit tree every now and then. Nowadays we routinely get about 80-100 grams/day. What could possibly be bad about fruit sugar?

There is a difference between how fructose is digested and the way glucose is digested. Glucose is a simple sugar. It’s what we use as an energy source. It can be burned for energy is every single cell of your body. Mitochondria in the cell metabolize glucose to ATP (energy). ATP is adenosine triphosphate. This is where our energy really is. Glucose can also be stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. It can be utilized as an energy source or be stored later.

Fructose is metabolized much differently. It’s also a simple sugar. The chemical structure is similar but it can only be broken down in the liver. The rest of the cells in our body can’t actually utilize it. It’s broken down to acetyl CoA. This is the starting point of fatty acid synthesis. This can make your triglycerides, LDL, and HDL worse. This is where fatty liver comes from. This opens the flood gates of fat deposition. When you have fructose it doesn’t actually make your blood sugar go way up. Glucose makes your blood sugar go up.

Fructose can stimulate hunger and indiscriminate eating by NOT stimulating Leptin (a “fullness” hormone) and increasing Ghrelin (a hunger hormone). It won’t make your blood sugar increase, but will worsen insulin resistance, subsequently leading to increased blood sugars and fat storage. Fructose can also cause a depletion of inorganic phosphorus in the liver cells leading to fatigue (due to decreased ATP). If you decrease the phosphorus you have less energy. Fructose can do a number of things that can really work against you.

There are many potential consequences of excess fructose consumption. The biggest consequence is obesity. Fructose turns on fat accumulation everywhere. Once the fatty acids are made in the liver, they can be deposited anywhere. As I mentioned earlier, fructose can cause fatty liver. It worsens lipid profiles: worsens triglycerides, lowers HDL, and raises LDL. It increases hypertension because insulin makes you retain water. It tends to lead to diabetes mellitus. That leads to increased risk of diabetic complications (neuropathy, retinopathy, and kidney problems). It increases uric acid levels. Uric acid leads to gout. And, fructose also causes an increase in accelerated aging-formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs). That means a sugar molecule gets stuck on other things. If it gets stuck on other proteins that means they can’t function normally. It’s cellular aging.

In summary, there is probably nothing good about HFCS. It’s probably not just the HFCS that is the “fruit of the devil.” The real problem is the fructose itself. The real wolf in sheep’s clothing is likely the fructose itself. Since about 50% of all caloric sweeteners is fructose, you ought to do your best to try and avoid any of them. That doesn’t mean we go crazy on artificial sweeteners. There are potential problems with those too. But that’s another story! (Read more in Artificial Sweeteners – Pros, Cons & Weight Loss)

Easy Sheet Pan Fajitas

Posted on February 24, 2021 by

All the great taste without the mess!

Ingredients
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp Taco or Fajita seasoning
1 each, red, green & yellow peppers, sliced
1 onion, sliced thin
2 Tbls olive oil
Shredded cheese, sour cream & salsa to garnish
Low carb tortillas – optional

Directions:
1. Slice chicken breasts into thin pieces and place in bowl. Sprinkle seasoning mix over pieces and toss to coat.
2. Spread chicken over foil-lined baking pan. Top with peppers and onions and drizzle with olive oil. (Add red pepper flakes for extra heat if desired).
3. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned and chicken is cooked through. Serve with low carb tortillas, salsa, cheese & sour cream.

Nutritional Info: Serves 4
(without tortilla & toppings – adjust accordingly)
Calories: 287
Fat 15.4g
Total Carbohyrate 2.6g
Fiber .6g
Protein 33.1

Print recipe: Sheet Pan Fajitas

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Posted on September 18, 2020 by

A quick and easy soup with staples from your pantry!

Ingredients
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can Rotel tomatoes (any variety)
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cilantro
4 Tbls light sour cream
1 green onion, sliced

Directions
1. Drain and rinse beans. Add to soup pot.
2. Add tomatoes and chicken broth.
3. Stir in seasonings and heat over medium-high heat until hot.
4. Divide into bowls and top with 1 Tablespoon sour cream and sprinkle with green onions.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 152
Total Fat 4g
Total Carbohydrates 20g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Protein 9g

 

Print Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Soup

Low Carb Shrimp Sushi Bowl

Posted on September 11, 2020 by

A colorful dish that’s filled with flavors!

Ingredients
1 lb cooked shrimp, chilled
1 avocado, sliced
½ cucumber, sliced thin
1 green onion, sliced
4-6 sheets nori, sliced into ribbons
Black or toasted sesame seeds to sprinkle
1 package frozen riced cauliflower
2 Tbls rice vinegar
¼ cup mayo
2-3 tsp Sriracha sauce

Directions
1. Thaw shrimp and chill.
2. Heat riced cauliflower to package instructions. Stir in vinegar & mix well. Divide into bowls and allow to cool.
3. Mix mayo with Sriracha sauce and spoon into plastic bag. Seal & cut small tip off one side to drizzle.
4. Arrange shrimp, avocado slices, cucumber slices, green onion & nori on top of riced cauliflower.
5. Drizzle spicy mayo over entire bowl and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 358
Total Fat 18g
Total Carbohydrates 19g
Dietary Fiber 10g
Protein 31g

Print Recipe: Low Carb Shrimp Sushi Bowl

Turkey Slider Lettuce Wraps

Posted on September 04, 2020 by

These tasty little burgers make a great appetizer or small plate meal!

Ingredients
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lime zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 Tbls olive oil
1 head Bibb or Butter lettuce
Slivered carrot or herbs for garnish

Directions
1. Mix ground turkey, lemon and lime zest, garlic and onions together.
2. Shape into small 1 ½-2” patties.
3. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat. Place patties in hot oil and cook about 2 minutes or until browned. Flip over and repeat.
4. Serve on lettuce leaves.
5. I generally have small bowls of Sriracha sauce or mustard to add if desired.

Makes 16 sliders

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 60
Total Fat 4g
Total Carbohydrates 1g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Protein 8g

Print Recipe: Turkey Slider Lettuce Wraps

Easy Ranch Chicken Kabobs

Posted on August 28, 2020 by

When you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal!

Ingredients
1 lb chicken tenders (about 8)
1 envelope dry Ranch dressing mix
1 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls white wine vinegar
8 6” skewers

Directions
1. Pour dressing mix, olive oil & vinegar into a 1 quart resealable bag. Mix together well.
2. Add chicken tenders and seal bag. Shake to coat and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
3. Thread 2 tenders onto each skewer.
4. Grill over medium heat (turning once) until done.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 180
Total Fat 6.3g
Total Carbohydrates 1g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Protein 24g

Print Recipe: Easy Ranch Chicken Kabobs

Low Carb Zuppa Toscana

Posted on August 18, 2020 by

Every bit of the flavor & textures without the carbs!

Ingredients
1 lb Italian turkey sausage (I used spicy)
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, sliced
1 small green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz package frozen cauliflower florets (or 1 lb head fresh)
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups kale, torn into bite-sized bits
½ cup half & half
Salt & pepper

Directions
1. Brown ground meat and add onions, celery, garlic & peppers. Saute until veggies are softened.
2. Add cauliflower & chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
3. Add kale and cook until tender.
4. Stir in half & half.
5. Serve hot!

Makes 4-6 servings

Nutrition Facts: (for 6 servings)
Calories 205
Total Fat 5.5g
Total Carbohydrates 16g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Protein 24g

Print Recipe: Low Carb Zuppa Toscana

Grilled Pesto Shrimp Kabobs

Posted on August 14, 2020 by

Pair shrimp kabobs with a fresh garden salad and a slice of melon!

Ingredients
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 Tbls olive oil
Salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Toss basil leaves, garlic, parmesan, olive oil and seasonings together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until blended smooth.
  2. Combine raw shrimp with pesto and allow to marinate for an hour. (I don’t always have an hour and it still tastes great)
  3. Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for 20-30 minutes. Thread shrimp onto skewers and place on metal outdoor grill pan.
  4. Cook over medium-hot grill until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat immediately to avoid over-cooking. 6-8 minutes should be enough.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil & extra shredded parmesan if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories         220
Total Fat          13g
Total Carbohydrates  1g
Dietary Fiber       0g
Protein           25g

Print Recipe: Grilled Pesto Shrimp Kabobs

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Posted on March 13, 2020 by

Wholesome goodness – substantial enough on it’s own or serve it with a salad 😊

Ingredients
1 small head cauliflower, broken into flowerets
1 cup shredded carrot
1 stalk celery, diced fine
1 small onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
½ cup chicken broth
1 packet protein Cheese Dip mix
½ cup half and half
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bacon bits for garnish
Green onion for garnish

Directions

  1. Cook cauliflower, carrots, celery, onion & garlic in 1 cup of water until cauliflower is tender. Remove from heat and mash with potato masher.
  2. Prepare Cheese Dip mix according to directions for soup. Add to cauliflower mixture.
  3. Add chicken broth and half & half. Return to heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese.
  4. Serve with bacon bits and green onion garnish (if desired).

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories                                  165
Total Fat                                   9g
Total Carbohydrates               11g
Dietary Fiber                            3g
Protein                                    11g

Print Recipe: Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Look for this new product in the store!

Chicken Crust Pizza

Posted on March 09, 2020 by

Wow! The protein is in the crust so dress it any way you like it 😊

Ingredients
Crust:
8 ounces chicken breast, cooked and shredded fine
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup shredded Parmesan

Topping: (nutritional info for toppings used here)
2 Tablespoons pesto sauce
¼ cup sliced red pepper
½ cup packed baby spinach
¼ cup shredded Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baking stone on center rack.
  2. Cook chicken and shred or finely chop. You could use canned chicken breast as well.
  3. Mix chicken with egg, garlic and ½ cup parmesan cheese.
  4. Press chicken mixture onto parchment paper (on baking sheet or pizza peal), making it about 1/4 inch thick. Slide paper into oven and directly onto hot baking stone. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until crust starts to brown.
  5. Remove from oven and add toppings. Return and bake until hot and cheese is melted.

Makes 3 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories                                 253
Total Fat                                14g
Total Carbohydrates              4.5g
Dietary Fiber                            1g
Protein                                   28g

Print Recipe: Chicken Crust Pizza

Note: This recipe is easily doubled. You can add whatever toppings you like and substitute mozzarella cheese for the Parmesan as a topping. Nutrition values will vary with toppings.