Katherine’s Diet Tip #3: Eat Salmon to Lose Weight!

Photo by California Strawberry Commission

Photo by California Strawberry Commission

Recent studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce body weight gain and chronic inflammation through the improvement of the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (the microbiota).

The authors of this new study published in the International Journal of Obesity found feeding your child salmon may prevent obesity later in life, too. But how? The authors theorize the reason is that these increased tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids [found in abundance in salmon, herring, anchovies and sardines], may prevent antibiotic-induced alteration in gut microbiota in children, and obesity later in life.

“Elevated tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce body weight gain and the severity of insulin resistance, fatty liver and dyslipidemia [high cholesterol] resulting from early life exposure to ezithromycin [an antibiotic],” said the authors.

These results makes sense to me for at least two reasons:

It’s already been established that babies who are breast fed – and breast milk is loaded with probiotics – are less likely to be overweight later in life. Also, probiotics (for instance, found in yogurt) improve the health of the microbiota. So, apparently, an improvement in the microbiota is one reason why probiotics may help manage weight in children through their lifespan. This study showed that probiotics can help undo the harm to the gastrointestinal tract caused by early antibiotic use. Learn more about probiotics and the microbiota

Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They have been hailed for decreasing heart disease risk, cancer risk, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s Disease -and now – increase of healthy gut bacteria and obesity.  Learn more about omega-3 fatty acids

So, eat your salmon – or any fatty fish – to lose weight! The American Heart Association recommends 12 ounces per week.

8 Steps to Determine: Are YOU Dangerously Overweight?

Photo: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

My clients regularly ask me: Could the height/weight charts in doctors’ offices be correct?
My answer: That depends…
(This article was also published in The Huffington Post) 

 Don’t use height/weight charts alone to determine your ideal body weight. Researchers designed the latest body mass index (BMI) charts for use in combination with additional personal information. A group of scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who specialize in how weight affects health crafted the guidelines after reviewing hundreds of studies conducted over the past several decades — only then did the experts make their recommendations to health professionals.

The guidelines help physicians, and registered dietitians like me, evaluate and make recommendations for clients. But you can also use the BMI charts, along with your doctor’s advice, to help you decide what your appropriate weight should be.

8 Steps

  1. Determine your Body Mass Index (BMI), or the relationship between weight and height that researchers have associated with body fat and health risk.  BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (kg/m2). But there is a BMI chart (below) so you don’t have to make the calculation yourself!
  2. If you are categorized as “overweight,” it is ideal for you to lose weight. That said, weight loss treatment is particularly important – and recommended – when you have two or more health risk factors, such as smoking, inactivity. I would define “inactivity” as under 10,000 pedometer steps daily (averaged over a week), or any of the following: High blood pressure, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, high triglycerides (blood fat), impaired fasting glucose, a family history of premature heart disease, or a high waist circumference – measured at the belly button – of greater than 35″ for women or 40″ for men. The presence of abdominal fat is correlated with disease risk. We used to think body fat was inert, but it isn’t, it’s toxic! Fat tissue produces hormones and pro-inflammatory chemicals, which regulate metabolism, the immune system, inflammation, the progression of artery hardening, and the development of cancers, so that when you have less body fat, you get many biological benefits.
  3. If you are categorized as “obese,” weight loss treatment is recommended,
  4. Your initial weight loss goal should be to reduce body weight by about 10% from your starting weight. This should take about six months, depending on how much you have to lose. You can lose one-half to three pounds per week safely (assuming your calorie intake is appropriate, the more cardiovascular exercise you do, the faster you can lose),
  5. If more weight loss is needed, another attempt at weight reduction can be made,
  6. After the desired weight loss is achieved, a weight maintenance program consisting of dietary therapy, physical activity, and behavior therapy should be continued indefinitely,
  7. You will need to follow lifestyle therapy for at least six months, according to the NIH guidelines, before your doctor prescribes drug therapy or surgery.  Though the safety of drug therapy has not been established and 50% of surgery patients re-gain the weight,
  8. For the very obese, with a BMI over 40, or a BMI over 35 with significant adverse health conditions, obesity surgery may be an appropriate option.

NOTE: Highly muscular people, usually professional athletes or body builders, may register as “overweight,” but that may be because of high muscle mass, instead of fat. More muscle is not generally thought of as unhealthy, so if you’re categorized as “overweight” because you have more muscle, weight loss would not be recommended in these cases.

Liquid Calories

Listen to Katherine discussing juicing on National Public Radio’s Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5 FM.

Juicing is all the rage these days, with juice cleanses, celebrity juicers, and Starbucks opening its first Juice Bar. On National Public Radio’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, I discussed juicing and juices. Find the link below…

I’ve been drinking orange juice every morning of my life. You’d think I’d be sick of it by now. But every morning, I look forward to my “sunshine in a glass,” and it never disappoints. Especially on those occasions when it’s fresh-squeezed. I could live on the stuff. Just thinking of it makes me salivate!

But I save my juice for 4 ounces in the morning because, while it packs a nutritional punch, it also puts on pounds, and fast! Here’s how…

My client, Caroline, who was successfully losing weight, was disappointed one recent week that she didn’t lose weight as usual. It didn’t make sense to either of us. Her food intake was stellar. She was even a little more physically active than usual. It wasn’t until we reviewed her food diary thoroughly that we discovered the culprit was liquid calories, and they added up in a way that surprised her. In her case – as is the case with many of us  – that extra glass of wine or mixer, juice as a snack here and there, can add up in ways we don’t expect.

Liquid calories in just about any form, whether alcohol, juices, or sodas, are stealth calories. They come in undetected under the radar screen but have an impact that can be enormous. Scientific evidence is confirming that though these liquids count as calories, our bodies don’t detect them the same way they would if we were eating solid food. When we eat calories in the form of solid food, we naturally compensate by reducing the rest of our meal’s or day’s food intake. But when people ingest liquid calories, studies show, they don’t compensate for them by eating fewer calories.

“Fluid calories do not hold strong satiety properties, don’t suppress hunger and don’t elicit compensatory dietary responses,” says Richard D. Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD, Professor of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University. “When drinking fluid calories, people often end up eating more calories overall.”

This may help explain the results of the Harvard Nurses Health Study of more than 50,000 women over eight years. The researchers found those who increased their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas or fruit punch, from one per week to one or more per day, increased their calories by 358 daily and gained significant weight. Women who reduced their intake cut their calories by 319 calories and gained less weight. Earlier studies demonstrated that consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks increased the likelihood of obesity in children, but this is the first finding from a long term observational study in adults.

The mechanisms controlling hunger and thirst are completely different, and liquids, even if they contain calories, don’t seem to satisfy hunger even if they quench your thirst. Physiologically, your thirst is quenched once your blood and cell volume is increased by water. This signals your brain that you are no longer thirsty.

Hunger is regulated in your stomach and intestines. While you’re eating, nerves in the stomach wall detect that it is stretching and send satiation signals to the brain. The intestines also release nerve regulators and hormones. At the same time, the hunger hormone, ghrelin, released by the stomach when it is empty, goes down. All of which help you feel satiated.

 There are several theories explaining why liquid calories cause lower satiety and increased overall calorie intakes, but it’s still not fully understood. First, cognitively, people have a harder time realizing that liquids count. Also, the mouth-feel of a liquid versus a solid may generate different signals, less time and involvement with food, and reduced psychological satisfaction. Finally, liquids, because they travel more quickly through the intestinal tract, alter the rate of nutrient absorption, which can affect satiety hormones and signaling. It’s likely that all of these reasons are relevant.

Emerging research is finding the hunger hormone ghrelin may play a physiological role.

 “When the number and type of calories are the same, the calories in liquid form won’t suppress ghrelin as effectively as if the same calories were in solid form,” says David E. Cummings, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington and the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System.

While Cummings hasn’t tested many types of fluids and their varying effects on ghrelin, other researchers have found drinking fluids may produce varying degrees of satiety, depending on what they contain.

It’s fairly well-established that alcoholic beverages and sugary liquids, especially sodas and fruit drinks aren’t completely registered or compensated for and simply add extra calories.

 “Some beverages cross over the line into being a food,” says Barbara J. Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University. She conducted studies which found people felt more satiated and consumed fewer calories when they had milk-based drinks at the beginning of a meal. The high protein levels in addition to cognitive beliefs about milk being a food may make it more satiating.  Also, fluids with food in them, such as soups, are very satiating.

 But most caloric fluids Americans consume are not satiating. When you consider that an appropriately sized meal is anywhere from 400 to 700 calories, and one Big Gulp is 640 calories, you understand the scope of the problem! A Starbuck’s Frappuccino can total anywhere from 300 to 600 calories. One glass of wine contains at least 100 calories. And one mixed drink can set you back 300 calories or more. Double or triple these numbers at any given party, tack on the calories in your meals, and you can understand how weight gain is the inevitable result.

My clients who have become aware of liquid calories have achieved impressive results. Take Bob Levey, former Washington Post columnist. Bob wrote about the importance of cutting out his daily lemonade in his successful weight loss effort. My other client, Julie, easily switched her daily Frappuccino to a skim coffee latte and saved 250 calories. My friend, Linda, slowly phased out her daily soda by adding more and more ice to it each week until she was only drinking water. She lost 30 pounds over a year.

 Most people find reducing liquid calories is an easy change. Since liquid calories don’t contribute to feelings of satiety, cutting them doesn’t lead to feelings of deprivation or hunger. And there are so many great substitutes. The one liquid that’s important to keep drinking is water. In the winter time, I love sipping water as herbal teas through the day. In the summer, it’s selzer with a twist of lemon or lime, and the occasional diet soda.

Of course, if we are mindful of our calorie intake, a moderate daily dose of wine or other caloric beverage can easily be integrated into our routines. The key is mindfulness and moderation.

Listen to Katherine discussing juicing on National Public Radio’s Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5 FM.

ABC Primetime News Special: Celebrity Weight Loss

Katherine explains on ABC’s Primetime News Special, “Celebrity Weight Loss: What Really Happens” Why… For Your 2011 New Year’s Resolution, do yourself a HUGE favor… Just Say NO…. NO MORE DIETS!

Don’t be a sucker for the endless, unrealistic promises of these SMUT purveyors! Yes, you heard the usually mild-mannered Katherine Tallmadge correctly….

I hate fanatical diet programs! They take the joy out of eating.  Heck, they take the joy out of living! And the research is pretty clear by now that too-tough diets simply don’t work for most people.  Even if you lose weight initially, you’re going to get bored or frustrated with all the restrictions and gain your weight back. Or maybe the diet is just too darn unhealthy to stay on.

So if you ever see a diet which emphasizes eating a very low carbohydrate diet or even an extremely low fat diet, or if it recommends packaged foods, liquid supplements or diet pills, I recommend you run – quickly! – in the other direction. Because it’s not something which can – or should – be maintained.

  • A good diet is one you can follow for life. One which you enjoy.  It’s a strategy which makes you feel energetic and comfortable.
  • It’s a way of living which science has shown will enhance your health, the quality of your life, and possibly even extend your life.
  • A good diet is one which works with your lifestyle, whether you’re a full-time mom, a high powered professional – or a combination thereof!
  • Studies verify weight loss maintainers follow diets with flexibility and choice, ones which can fit into their lives.

I’m passionate about helping people solve their weight problems which saps them of health, energy and happiness.  Let alone all of the horrible and preventable life-threatening and chronic diseases which inevitably occur, like heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Though the problem of overweight and obesity is a large one and seems to be growing (two thirds of all adults and one out of three children), it’s a manageable and solvable problem.  One of the reasons people struggle so much with their weight is they make the mistake of believing they need to do something radical to lose weight – like restricting your eating to cabbage soup for every meal, fasting, cutting out all carbohydrates, cutting out all fats, constantly figuring out percentages of this or that nutrient, going on a liquid diet, or taking unsafe diet pills and supplements.

The studies which analyze successful weight loss maintainers versus weight relapsers confirm the radical diets actually backfire. So don’t get seduced by their empty promises. Stop being a sucker! If the diet is too strict, punishing or depriving, it can’t last, and the weight is gained back.  If those diets produce anything, it’s eating disorders, feelings of deprivation and depression, and demoralizing yo-yo’ing weight.

Instead, make your 2011 Resolution to start…

  • A way of eating you’ll love, and will always satisfy your hunger and cravings,
  • A joyful lifestyle you’ll want to keep forever.

Look for a way of eating and living which will give you…

  • A greater sense of well-being, less anxiety and depression,
  • Increased metabolism, so your body burns fat more quickly and efficiently,
  • A heart working more efficiently, decreasing your risk of a heart attack,
  • Lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower blood glucose levels,
  • A boosted immune system that cuts your risk of cancer, colds, flu and disease, Stronger bones and stronger muscles,
  • Improved techniques for coping with daily stresses and strains of your busy life.

As a weight loss counselor, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that weight loss doesn’t have to be – and can’t be – a depressing, depriving, angst-ridden chore.  I’ve witnessed the joy, surprise and relief of clients as they learned that losing weight the “Diet Simple” way is an easy and positive experience.

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