Friday, September 11, 2015

I should be using fat free salad dressings, right?

Actually, no, and for two reasons:
1) When chosen wisely, fat is a very important part of your diet. Healthy vegetable fats, like olive oil and canola oil found in salad dressings, have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Fats also help to stabilize the blood sugar. A stable blood sugar will reduce hunger and make it much easier to lose/maintain your weight.

2) Low fat dressings are notoriously high in sugar.  In an effort to improve the taste of a dressing without fat, manufacturers add in sugar. If weight loss is your goal, sugar in your diet will spike your blood glucose and insulin levels, which promotes hunger and fat storage.

Here are some recommendations on salad dressing:
1) Skip the low fat dressings; you want a healthy fat as part of your meal.

2) Go for oil based dressings like Italian, olive oil and vinegar, or olive oil and lemon juice.

3) Avoid creamy dressing like Ranch, French, Thousand Island, Russian, etc.  These are high in saturated fat and have the potential to raise LDL cholesterol.

4) Avoid dressings like Honey Mustard and sweet vinaigrettes which are loaded with sugar.

5) Keep portions reasonable.  Oils are high in calories and it is easy to go overboard. I have my female clients shoot for 1 tablespoon of oil at a meal, which would be 2 tablespoons of oil and vinegar or Italian dressing. Men can do 1½ tablespoons of oil per meal.

Sugar sweetened beverage consumption and risk of heart disease

The Study
A randomized trial was recently published that tested whether drinking sugar sweetened beverages increases risk of heart disease. In this investigation, 85 subjects were given either 0%, 10%, 17% or 25% of energy requirements as sugar sweetened beverages for a period of two weeks. The researchers measured risk factors for heart disease both before and after the intervention. After the two weeks were over, the subjects consuming the sugar sweetened beverages had significant, linear, and dose response increases in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and uric acid concentrations. Subjects consuming the two higher doses of sugar also showed increases in non-HDL cholesterol, Apo lipoprotein B, and Apo lipoprotein CIII. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 101:1144-54

Take Home Message
Years ago, sugar was considered “empty calories” that didn’t do much good, but also didn’t do much harm. That idea is changing fast. This study, and others like it, are beginning to offer proof that sugar consumption in and of itself can cause disease. The take home message here is to get sugar out of your diet entirely. If you can’t or won’t do this, do your best to strictly limit consumption. Incidentally and not surprisingly, subjects consuming the two highest doses of sugar gained weight after the two week intervention.

Carbohydrate quality and long term weight gain

The Study
The glycemic load is a measure of how quickly and how severely the carbohydrate containing foods in your diet elevate your blood sugar. An interesting study was recently published that measured the impact of glycemic load on long term weight gain. Over 120,700 men and women from the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professional Follow-up Study were followed for 16-24 years. Changes in glycemic load and body weight were measured every 4 years throughout follow-up. 

There were 2 relevant findings: 1) Dietary glycemic load was independently associated with weight gain. Every four years, body weight increased .93 pounds for every 50 unit increase in glycemic load. 2) The glycemic load had a strong interaction with other foods. If a food was associated with weight gain, like red meat was in these cohorts, eating that food with high glycemic load carbs increased weight gain, while eating that food with low GL carbs decreased weight gain. The same was true for foods that were associated with reducing body weight, like plain yogurt. If high GL foods were consumed with the yogurt, the weight loss was attenuated.  If low GL foods were consumed with the yogurt, the weight loss was augmented. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 101:1216-24

Take Home Message
If weight loss is your goal, it is a good idea to pay attention to the glycemic load of your diet. Mechanisms by which a lower glycemic load diet promotes weight loss were discussed by the authors of this study. A higher resting energy expenditure, increased satiety, and reduced cravings with a low GL diet are all possibilities. If you want to lower the glycemic load of your diet, substitute fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains for bread, pasta, white rice and sugar. It is also a good idea to keep carbohydrates in the range of 45-50% of calories.

Product Review: Tanita Ironman Scale

When deciding on which products to review for this newsletter, I always ask myself two questions: 1) Will this product make it easier for my clients to succeed in attaining their health and fitness goals?  2) Am I asked about this type of product on a regular basis? An accurate, reliable scale answers both of these questions with a resounding “Yes”. Therefore, it is time to review the Tanita Ironman BC554.

Basic principles of weight loss are the same for everyone and can get you pretty far on your weight loss journey. However, to get those last few pounds off, I have found that the strategy becomes highly individualized. Some people will need to apply additional focus to their cardio to get there. Others need to look more closely at their total calories. For others, it may be lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption, snacking, or late night eating. The last few months of the weight loss journey very much boils down to trial and error. You make a change and see if you lose weight, if not, you try something else the next week.

In order to find out what will work for you, you need to weigh yourself properly and consistently. To do this, you need an accurate and reliable scale. I have been a huge fan of Tanita Ironman scales for years. I currently have the Ironman BC554.

1) Accuracy. I consider the Tanita Ironman line research quality. Knowing you have an accurate measurement is, for obvious reasons, pivotal.

2) Durability. My last model lasted me for almost 10 years.

3) Long battery life. I am amazed at how long the batteries last in these scales. You go years without having to replace them.

4) Measures body fat. If you are lifting weights while you are losing weight, a time may come where you will be building muscle and losing body fat at largely the same rate. This can become a bit frustrating as the number on the scale stops going down. At this point, your percent body fat is a better indicator of progress than your weight. Tanita Ironman scales come with a bioelectrical impedance analyzer to measure body fat. When used correctly, these scales provide an accurate measure of body composition which can become a very useful measure of progress toward your goals. 

1) A bit pricey. The BC554 currently lists on Amazon for $147.99. This is a lot for a scale. Other models in the Ironman family range from $99.99 up to $239.99, depending on features.

Would I Recommend Tanita Ironman Scales?
Without a doubt. These scales can be a bit on the pricey side, but they last forever, are highly accurate, and allow you to measure your body fat. Overall, they are a great investment in your health. 

To learn more about Tanita scales, visit If you want to buy one, you can pick it up on