Sunday, November 13, 2022

Do I really have to lift weights if I want to lose weight?

The answer is absolutely yes and for two reasons:

1) To replace age related loss of muscle: We all start to lose muscle as we get older. It is a natural part of the aging process. Muscle is very metabolically active tissue. In other words, it burns lots of calories. A pound of muscle burns three times as many calories as a pound of fat. To keep your metabolism humming, you need to hit the weights at least a few times a week. 

2) To spare lean body mass during the weight loss process: When you lose weight without resistance training, you lose a combination of both muscle and fat. This is one of our body’s defense mechanisms to letting its fat stores get too low, too fast. If 20 or 30% of your weight loss is muscle, your metabolism drops and you’ll burn less calories each day. This makes it much more likely that you’ll regain your lost weight. When you lift weights during the weight loss process, you’ll maintain your muscle mass and metabolic rate, which makes permanent weight loss much more likely.

Mediterranean Diet And Depression

The Study

Seventy-two young males with moderate to severe depression were randomized to either a Mediterranean diet group or a control group for 12 weeks. Here are some of the findings of this interesting study:

-Subjects consuming the Mediterranean diet had a statistically significant reduction in depression scores compared to the control group.

-36% of subjects in the Mediterranean diet group reported low to minimal symptoms of depression by the end of the intervention.

-Subjects in the Mediterranean diet group had significant improvements in quality of life when compared to the control group. These included enhanced concentration, better sleep and improved energy.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 116:572-80.

Take Home Message

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with numerous health benefits for decades in the research literature. This study provides evidence that it may also improve depression.

The authors theorized that the diet’s positive impact on inflammation, oxidative stress and the microbiome could be possible reasons for the association found in this investigation.

It is a great idea to follow a Mediterranean diet. It is also pretty easy to follow:

Carbs: Focus on fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

Fats: Focus on healthy vegetable oils like olive oil and canola oil, nuts, nut butters, seeds and avocados.

Protein: Focus on lean meats like chicken and turkey, seafood, low fat dairy, beans and other legumes.

Strictly limit: Refined carbs (added sugars, bread, pasta, white rice), processed meat and red meat.


Exercise And Longevity

The Study

The association between exercise habits and longevity was examined in over 116,000 men and women from Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study. After 30 years of follow-up, subjects who met the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans had a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and a 19% lower risk of dying from any cause. Circulation 2022; 146:523-34.

Take Home Message

The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans recommends 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous activity, or 150-300 minutes per week of moderate activity.

Examples of vigorous activity are running, swimming, rollerblading, playing basketball and using an elliptical trainer.

Examples of moderate activity are walking, light bike riding, pushing a lawnmower and water aerobics.

Cardiovascular exercise benefits just about every system in our bodies and reduces risk of just about every major chronic disease. Making time to exercise each day is one of the very best decisions you can make for your physical and mental health.


Dietary Choices And Life Expectancy

Thousands of studies have been published on the risks and benefits of individual foods and health outcomes. For example, red meat has been shown to increase risk of colon cancer. Another example is that whole grains have been shown to decrease risk of coronary heart disease. This type of research is extremely useful and can help guide our dietary recommendations. Now and again, a study is published that looks at the bigger picture and gives us an idea of what happens when you get everything going in the right direction with your diet. 

The Study

This investigation was published earlier this year in PLOS Medicine (Reference #1). It is a meta-analysis of nutrition research that uses life table methodology to estimate how dietary changes impact life expectancy. 

Here are some of the more interesting results from this study:

-An optimal diet was found to be one high in whole grains, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts and low in processed meats, red meat, sugar sweetened beverages and refined grains. No big surprises here.

-Switching from a typical Western diet to an optimal diet at age 20 would result in a 10.7 year increase in life expectancy for women and a 13 year increase for men.

-Making this switch at age 40 would result in a 10 year increase in life expectancy in women and 11.7 years in men.

-Making this switch at age 60 would result in an 8 year increase in life expectancy in women and an 8.8 year increase in men.

-Making this switch at age 80 would result in a 3.4 year increase in life expectancy in both men and women.

-Following are the foods most associated with improved life expectancy:

1) Legumes

2) Whole grains

3) Nuts

4) Less red meat

5) Less processed meat

Conclusions And Recommendations

This is a very powerful study that shows just how important that dietary choices are to our health. The main mechanism driving the results of this investigation is that a healthy diet reduces risk of the major chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Another thing to note is that these results only focus on diet and likely underestimate the true effects of an overall healthy lifestyle. In other words, if you don’t smoke, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight in addition to eating well, you would likely see even further increases in life expectancy.

As far as recommendations, this study illustrates the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. It is pretty simple to follow: For proteins, focus on lean meats like chicken and turkey, seafood, low fat dairy and vegetable sources of protein such as black beans, lentils and hummus. For fats, focus on vegetable oils, nuts, nut butters and avocados. For carbs, focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Limit sugar, bread, pasta, white rice, red meat and processed meats. If you are looking for a great book on the many benefits of eating this way, pick up Dr. Willett’s Eat Drink And Be Healthy. He was the Department Chair at Harvard when I got my doctorate and his book is an unbelievable resource.


1) Fadnes LT, et al. Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study. PLOS Medicine 2022; 19:e1003889.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Do You Have Any Tips To Help Me Get My Cardio In?

Hitting your cardio minutes is hugely important when trying to achieve any health or weight loss goal. In our busy lives, this can be a real challenge. Here are a few tips to help you consistently get in those all-important cardio minutes:

1) Make it a priority. I know this sounds simple, and it is. Make it an important part of your day. I have an app on my phone that has a To Do list. I have cardio on this list every day and check it off every day when I finish it.

2) Get a piece of cardio equipment for your home. Exercising outside is awesome, I do it whenever I can. But it is going to rain sometimes, or snow, or be really hot or cold. Having a piece of equipment in your home means you really never have an excuse to miss your exercise session.

3) Combine your cardio with something else you already do. This goes hand in hand with #2 above. When life gets busy, kill 2 birds with one stone by multitasking. Hop on your exercise machine when you are watching TV, catching up on the news or making phone calls.


Mediterranean Diet And Brain Atrophy

The Study

In this 18 month randomized trial, 284 subjects were assigned to a Mediterranean diet or given generic healthy diet guidelines. Brain structure volumes were measured both before and after the intervention with an MRI.

When looking at subjects 50 and older, those in the Mediterranean diet group had an attenuated decline in hippocampal occupancy score. This is a part of the brain that deals with learning and memory. The atrophy of this brain structure is associated with age related neuro-degenerative disease.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1270-81.

Take Home Message

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with numerous health benefits for decades in the research literature. This study provides evidence that it may also slow age-related cognitive decline.

The authors theorized that the diet’s positive impact on glycemic control, weight loss and blood pressure could be possible reasons for the association found in this investigation.

It is a great idea to follow a Mediterranean diet. It is also pretty easy to follow:

Carbs:  Focus on fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

Fats: Focus on healthy vegetable oils like olive oil and canola oil, nuts, nut butters, seeds and avocados.

Protein: Focus on lean meats like chicken and turkey, seafood, low fat dairy, beans and other legumes.

Strictly limit: Refined carbs (added sugars, bread, pasta, white rice), processed meat and red meat.


Sugar Consumption And Risk Of Colon Cancer

The Study

In this interesting study, 121,111 subjects from Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study had their sugar consumption measured and were followed for over 28 years for incidence of colon cancer. Some of the most important results include:

-Sugar sweetened beverages were associated with a significantly increased risk of proximal colon cancer. Each serving per day increased risk by 18%.

-Sugar sweetened beverages were associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from proximal colon cancer. Each serving per day increase risk by 39%.

-Added sugar was also significantly associated with incidence and mortality of proximal colon cancer.

-Substituting a diet soda with a sugar sweetened soda each day actually reduced risk of proximal colon cancer incidence (by 19%) and mortality (25%).

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1481-89.

Take Home Message

You can add this to the list of 100 reasons to avoid sugar. The mechanism here is thought to be one of 2 things:

-Fructose has been shown to increase tumor metabolism and growth. When you eat a lot of sugar, which is high in fructose, you overwhelm your ability to digest it in the small intestine and it spills into the large intestine where it can come into contact with colon polyps and tumors.

-High sugar intake means high insulin levels. Insulin is also hypothesized to increase tumor growth.

It is also interesting to see that diet soda was associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer when taking the place of sugar sweetened soda. Many think that non-nutritive sweeteners are far more harmful than sugar, but the research literature keeps proving the opposite.

Update On The Safety And Efficacy Of Intermittent Fasting

I recently came across 3 new studies that examined the safety and efficacy of intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy. I thought a quick summary of these articles would make for a nice post since I get so many questions on fasting from my clients.

Study #1

In this first study, 81 overweight subjects were randomized to one of two groups. One group consumed a normal calorie reduced diet. The other consumed the same diet, but restricted eating to a 10 hour window. After 39 weeks, there were no differences in the amount of weight lost. In other words, intermittent fasting resulted in no more weight loss than eating your meals spaced out normally (Reference 1).

Study #2

In this cross-sectional study, 1,047 older adults had their diets assessed by means of a food frequency questionnaire. Blood was also taken and cardiovascular disease biomarkers were measured. Longer fasting time was associated with lower HDL cholesterol, higher potassium levels and lower chloride levels. Although many believe that fasting improves cardiovascular disease risk factors, these are mildly detrimental associations (Reference 2).

Study #3

In this trial, 139 obese subjects were randomized to one of two groups:

-A time restricted eating group that limited food consumption to the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

-A normal calorie restricted group.

Each group had a goal of 1200 calories per day for the women and 1500 calories for the men. After 12 months, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups (Reference 3).

Conclusions And Recommendations

The evidence is really starting to mount that intermittent fasting is not an effective or even a healthy way to lose weight. 

These studies, and other included in previous blog posts have shown that:

-Fasting is no more effective for weight loss than a more conventional, 3 meal a day approach.

-Fasting can have a negative impact on HDL and LDL cholesterol.

-Fasting can have a negative impact on blood glucose regulation.

-Fasting can have a negative impact on inflammation.

-Fasting increases hunger.

-Fasting has been shown to decrease metabolic rate, so you burn fewer calories in a day that you fast.

-Fasting has been shown to lower levels of physical activity.

-Fasting has been shown to have a negative impact on sleep.

-It is harder to adhere to a fasting protocol than a 3 meal a day plan.

-Fasting may lead to an increase in muscle loss.

If you want to see some of the research quoted above, click on this link.

From my viewpoint, enough research has accumulated to conclude that fasting is not the way to go if you want to lose weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease and/or improve your quality of life.

Three, spaced out meals a day is the best option to help you lose weight, keep your blood sugar stable for all day energy and will allow you enough eating opportunities to make sure you are getting adequate fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.


1) Thomas EA, et al. Early time restricted eating compared with daily caloric restriction: A randomized trial of adults with obesity. Obesity 2022; 30:1027-38.

2) Estrada-DeLeon DB, et al. Association of prolonged nightly fasting with cardiovascular, renal, inflammation, and nutritional status biomarkers in community dwelling older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1282-1289.

3) Liu D, et al. Calorie restriction with or without time restricted eating in weight loss. New England Journal of Medicine 2022; 386:1495-504.


Saturday, July 9, 2022

Blood Sugar Impact Of Whole Wheat vs. Refined Wheat

The Study

In a randomized crossover trial, 16 subjects consumed a breakfast cereal with either whole wheat flour or refined wheat flour. Postprandial blood sugar was measured with glucose monitors for up to 4 hours after consuming the cereal.

There was a very small difference in the glycemic response between the 2 test cereals.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2022 115:1013-26

Take Home Message

Maintaining a stable blood sugar is critical if you are trying to lose weight or reduce your risk of chronic disease. Whole grains are generally a much better choice than refined grain. For example, white rice is much harder on your blood sugar than brown rice.

However, with wheat, there does not seem to be much of a difference between refined wheat and whole wheat. They both hit your blood sugar pretty hard. I recommend to my clients to avoid all wheat and focus on other sources of whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa.



Vitamin D And Risk Of Covid-19

The Study

Vitamin D has been thought to have a role in our immune system response to viral infections. This study examined the association between vitamin D status and risk/severity of Covid 19 infection.

Over 39,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study completed periodic lifestyle surveys between May 2020 and March 2021. During this time, 1,768 reported a positive test for Covid-19. Here are some of the results of this interesting study:

-Higher predicted vitamin D levels were associated with lower risk of Covid-19 infection. Those with the highest levels had a 24% lower risk than those with the lowest levels.

-Subjects who got the most UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun had a lower risk of Covid-19 infection.

-A high intake of Vitamin D from supplements (greater than 400 IU per day) was associated with a 50% lower risk of hospitalization from Covid-19. American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition 2022; 115:1123-1133.

Take Home Message

Although I am not much of a supplement guy, you can make a strong case for vitamin D supplementation. After all, it is almost impossible to get enough from your diet. You do make a ton of it from the sun. The problem here is that most of us wear sunblock, as we should. This blocks production of vitamin D from the sun. 

It looks like higher D levels may protect against the both the severity and odds of getting Covid-19. Talk to your doctor to find out if vitamin D supplementation is a good idea for you. 


Product Review: Weider XRS 20 Workout Bench

Working out at home is a great idea. Most of us lead busy lives, and not having to drive to a gym, park the car and get changed can save us some serious time. During Covid, exercising at home is also a good idea if you are looking to limit your risk of contracting the virus. Exercising at home can also save you tons of money. You can take one year's worth of gym dues and create an excellent home gym that will last you decades.

A good weight bench is an important addition to your home gym. I recently picked up the Weider XRS 20 workout bench. This is an inexpensive, versatile bench that has added an entirely new level to my home gym experience. Following are some of the pro’s and con’s of this workout bench.


1) This bench is sturdy and can hold up to 610 lbs.

2) It was easy to put together.

3) It adjusts to both incline and decline positions.  This gives you multiple options to work your chest.

4) There is a leg attachment, so you can do leg extensions and hamstring curls. These are two great exercises for the lower body.

5) There is a preacher curl attachment, which is a great option to isolate your biceps.

6) It is relatively inexpensive at $166.97.

7) It looks sharp.

8) It is easy to adjust the incline/decline settings.  It just pops in and out of the different settings.  You don’t need to pull out a pin.


1) The only negative I can find with this bench is that it is a little high off the ground.  This can make getting your dumbbells into position for a bench press a bit more challenging. Not a major issue, but I just thought I’d mention it.

Would I Recommend the Weider XRS 20 Weight Bench?

Absolutely! I have been able to add several exercises to my repertoire since acquiring this bench. It is holding up great and I am very happy with my purchase. If you have the space, consider this bench.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with the company that makes the Weider XRS 20 Weight bench and make no money if you buy it.

Friday, May 13, 2022

What are good sources of fat to eat?

This is a question I often get from new clients. You want to focus on the mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. These are health promoting and will help stabilize your blood sugar. 

You will find these fats in:

-Vegetable oils: olive oil and canola oil are the best choices here


-Nut butters



-Butter substitutes made with healthy oils like Olivio, Smart Balance or Earth Balance


Be sure to limit any trans fat. If a product has this, it will be listed on the food label under the “Fat” category.

Also limit saturated fats such as butter, full fat dairy like cheese, cream and ice cream, processed meats like bacon and sausage and fatty cuts of red meat like steak and hamburger.



Health Benefits Of Resistance Training

The Study

In a 16 study review, the health benefits of resistance training were investigated. 

Here are the major results:

- Resistance training was associated with a 17% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

- Resistance training was associated with a 17% reduced risk of diabetes.

- Resistance training was associated with a 12% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

- Resistance training was associated with a 15% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

British Journal of Sports Medicine 2022;0:1-10.

Take Home Message

The health benefits of cardiovascular exercise are widely known. However, many people completely ignore resistance training. This is a shame because retaining muscle mass as we age is crucial to maintaining a high level of functioning. If you are trying to lose weight, it is also a critical part of any weight loss program. As this study shows, these benefits are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health effects of weight lifting.

Hit the weights at least twice per week. You don’t have to spend a ton of time and you don’t have to use super heavy weights. A typical full body workout for my clients takes 20 minutes or so. The key is consistency and variety. You need to switch up your exercises every 7 weeks or so to keep your muscles guessing. If you are intimidated, consider hiring a personal trainer for a session or two to get you started.





Cardiovascular Exercise Timing

The Study

In this interesting study, 40 overweight subjects were randomly assigned to a supervised 12 week exercise program that met either in the morning or the evening. The timing of the exercise did not change the body fat response to training. Appetite 2021 doi:10.1026/j.appet.2021.105600

Take Home Message

It does not really matter if you exercise in the morning or evening as long as you do it consistently. I have had successful clients that workout in the morning and successful clients that workout at night. Do whatever works for you.

Book Review: Intelligent Fitness

Next up for review is Intelligent Fitness, by Simon Waterson. The author is a fitness trainer that works with actors to help them get in shape for their movie roles. This sounds like a fun job and he has worked with many A-list actors filming big budget action movies.


This book has 4 sections. The first is some general information on training. The second section presents different actor’s workouts for the specific movie they were shooting. The last two sections are on recovery and nutrition. The book is 346 pages. It is very well written and I enjoyed reading it.

5 Things I Really Liked About Intelligent Fitness

1) I like the focus on proper sleep. This is an aspect of health overlooked by many that really can impact your hunger, metabolism and body weight, not to mention your energy and mood.

2) I also like the focus on hydration. Drinking adequate water is critical for health and fitness. I recommend 8 glasses a day to my clients.

3) The exercises presented were very nicely put together with text and pictures describing how to do them.

4) I like the variety found in the workouts. It is really important to keep your muscles guessing a bit when lifting weights. I change my client’s programs every 7 weeks or so.

5) I agree with the authors idea to workout at home, if possible. Investing in a small home gym, which could be as simple as some free weights, a bench and an inexpensive piece of cardio equipment, like the Gazelle Sprintmaster, makes it so easy to workout. It is also much cheaper in the long run than paying for a gym each year.

5 Things I Didn’t Agree With In Intelligent Fitness

1) The author does not recommend weighing yourself at all. I have my clients weigh themselves each week. Weight loss is highly subjective. As time goes on, I focus my client’s program based on what is working. If they lose weight one week, we replicate that behavior. If they gain or don’t lose, we’ll make some changes. How do you know that the program is working if you don’t have a weekly weigh in?

2) The author recommends 6 meals a day. I think this is not necessary. Once the blood sugar stabilizes, 3 meals a day is all you’ll need. If you are hungry all the time, something is wrong with your diet.

3) The author mentions that when it comes to diet you should be able to eat what you want, when you want it. I don’t agree with this because it does not take into account food cravings. Refined carbs like bread, white rice and especially sugar are quite addicting. The more you have, the more you want. If you can eat them whenever you want, soon you’ll be eating them all the time and you won’t lose a pound. With refined carbs, there has to be some level of deprivation. The good news is that once the blood sugar stabilizes, the cravings largely disappear.

4) Similar to #3, the nutrition in this book was a little weak, in general. I found pretty early in my training career that any results you get in the gym are largely dependent on what you are eating. I felt that the author could have given some more specific advice on what to eat.

5) Anyone who works with me or reads my books know that I am all about research and evidence-based advice. The author makes a few claims that seem a bit off to me and presents no research to back these statements up.  For example:

-On page 265 he mentions that jumping in and out of hot and cold plunge pools is great for boosting your immune system.

-On page 296 he states; “Tumeric and ginger are great natural anti-inflammatories and help the body to be less toxic and inflamed”.

Is Intelligent Fitness Worth Reading?

Absolutely! I like a lot of what the author says regarding weight lifting and cardio in this book. His results speak for themselves. The actors he works with look amazing in the movies they shoot.

Having said that, the book’s handling of the nutrition end of things is a bit lacking. I’d focus on the exercise sections of the book and get your nutrition advice elsewhere.




Sunday, March 13, 2022

Protein Consumption And Risk of Diabetes

The Study

In this investigation, 833 subjects who had lost weight were studied for 3 years. Subjects who had increased their protein consumption during this weight maintenance period had a significant decrease in BMI and a significant decrease in HbA1c, which is a long-term measure of blood sugar. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2021; 114:1847-48

Take Home Message

Adding a little more protein to your diet is a nice way to aid in the weight loss process. It also appears to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. Just make sure you are picking your protein carefully.

Focus on healthy sources, such as lean meats (like chicken and turkey), low fat dairy, seafood, beans, nuts and lentils.

Limit unhealthy sources of protein, such as red meat, processed meat (like bacon, sausage and pepperoni) and full fat dairy.

Sleep Deprivation And Energy Intake

The Study

In this interesting study, 80 subjects who were overweight and slept an average of 6.5 hours per night were randomized into two groups. One group continued their usual sleep patterns, while the other group received sleep hygiene counseling with the goal of increasing their sleep to 8.5 hours per night.

The intervention lasted for 28 days and the subjects had their energy intake measured by doubly labeled water, which is very accurate. By the end of the follow up period, the sleep counseling group increased their sleep by 1.2 hours. They also consumed 270 fewer calories per day than subjects sleeping 6.5 hours. Jama Internal Medicine doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.8098

Take Home Message

The authors present several possible reasons why inadequate sleep increases energy consumption:

-Sleep deprivation may increase hunger.

-Sleep deprivation may alter appetite hormones.

-Sleep deprivation may cause changes in brain regions related to reward.

Whatever the reason, getting your sleep up to a minimum of 7 hours per night may really help with hunger and rate of weight loss.

Sugar Sweetened Beverages And Academic Performance

As many of you who work with me or read my books know, I read the nutrition research every month in an effort to stay on top of any important new studies. Occasionally, I come across a study that seems so important that I need to write a Feature Article on it. That happened just recently (Reference 1).

The Study

In this fascinating study, 4,245 Australian school children between the ages of 8 and 15 years had their sugar sweetened beverage consumption measured. The researchers also had access to the student’s academic standardized testing scores.

When comparing the students who consumed less than 1 glass of sugar sweetened beverage per day to those consuming 4-6 glasses:

 -Grammar scores were 6% higher

 -Reading scores were 9% higher

 -Writing scores were 6% higher

 -Math scores were 7% higher

Conclusions And Recommendations

This is a very powerful study that demonstrates some of the hidden dangers of eating high glycemic carbs, such as sugar. Most parents think of sugar as nutritionally empty calories. If their kids are at a healthy weight and are eating well for the most part, adding a whole bunch of sugar each day is not considered a big deal.

It kind of is a big deal. The health risks of sugar have been shown in the research literature over the past few decades. Sugar consumption has been associated with obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. Emerging evidence shows it can even impact how your brain works. 

So, why would consuming a lot of sugar impact your academic performance? There are several possible mechanisms:

-High sugar consumption often causes a reactive hypoglycemia which results in low blood sugar after a few hours. Low blood sugar can negatively impact energy levels, which may make it harder to pay attention in class and perform on exams.

-Swings in blood sugar can also impact mood. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it is much harder to pay attention and perform well in school.

-In this paper the authors theorize that sugar may actually have a negative impact on cognitive function. They propose that a high sugar consumption may cause cognitive dysfunction through hippocampal and frontal lobe volume loss and dysfunction.

It is a good idea to limit sugar consumption in your children for lots of reasons. We can add academic performance to the list. I also don’t think that this is limited to children. I would argue that work performance in adults is similarly affected. The recommendation is simple: Strictly limit sugar. Better yet, give it up entirely. This is certainly not easy to do at first but it will change your life and your health.


1) Burrows T et al, Association between selected dietary behaviors and academic achievement. A study of Australian school aged children. Appetite 2017; 116:372-80.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

What Are Some Tips To Get Back On Track With My Diet After The Holidays?

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day presents some real challenges for those trying to eat healthy and lose weight. The holidays are great and it is a lot of fun to eat and drink a bit more during this time. Just about everyone puts on a few pounds by New Year’s Day. The Covid-19 pandemic, with its high levels of stress and social distancing is adding to the problem these past few years.

However, for many of us, the unhealthy eating continues well into January and even February. This is mostly due to swings in blood sugar that result in increased hunger and cravings for refined carbohydrates, which were likely consumed in large amounts over the last several weeks. The more we eat bread, pasta, white rice and sugar, the more we want these foods.

A couple of extra cheat meals and a few pounds gained during the holiday season are not much of a problem. But if the disordered eating lasts for months, you will put on some serious weight. Even my most successful and dedicated clients will struggle during and after the holidays. Here are a few strategies that help them get back on track:

1) If you have eaten more refined carbohydrates during the holiday season, you will have an increase in cravings for them. You will also be more hungry in general. Step one is to mentally realize this. Tell yourself that you will be hungry for the wrong foods, but will not give into them. Getting your head right and understanding the origin of the cravings is very helpful.

2) Write down your food for 2 weeks. It adds a layer of accountability that gets you back on the right track. A great free app to help you do this is MyFitness Pal.

3) Go to the grocery store and load up on all of the right foods. Make it easy to eat healthy. Similarly, get all of the unhealthy foods out of your house. 

4) Plan your meals ahead of time. Think about what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days or even a week.

5) Try to limit eating out at restaurants for the first week or two. Restaurant meals usually have a lot more calories, fat, salt and sugar.

After a week or two of eating right, you will find that your blood sugar has stabilized and the hunger and cravings for the wrong foods will start to calm down.



Trends In Childhood Body Mass Index

The Study

Changes in body mass index for Americans between the ages of 8 to 19 were measured between 1999 and 2018. National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data was used in this study. The results were not great:

-In males, BMI increased from 25.6 to 26.3

-In females, BMI increased from 33 to 33.7.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2021; 114:1495-1504

Take Home Message

These latest numbers from NHANES show that over 20% of our children are obese. The numbers have stopped climbing and have started to level off, which is good. Now we have to start pushing them down by focusing on healthy eating habits and lots of physical activity.

Recent Trends In Junk Food Consumption

The Study

This study used the most recent NHANES data to examine recent trends in junk food consumption among 29,970 children and 44,501 adults in the US. The results were not great. In children, 1 in 5 calories were from junk food sources. Adults did a little better at 1 in 7 calories. 

The most common sources of junk food were:

-Sweet bakery products

-Savory snacks




-Energy bars

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2021 114: 1039-48.

Take Home Message

Obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer are all diseases heavily influenced by poor dietary choices. This study did not included calories from sugar sweetened beverages, which is another 7% of calories. When we add this in, close to 1 in 4 calories in children are from unhealthy sources and adults are at 1 in 5. Sadly, these choices result in a lot of unnecessary sickness and suffering. We need to do better.

Product Review: Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells

Working out at home makes a lot of sense. Most of us are busy, and not having to drive to a gym, park the car and get changed can save us some serious time. During COVID, exercising at home is also a good idea if you are looking to limit your risk of contracting the virus. Exercising at home can also save you a lot of money. You can take one year's worth of gym dues and make a really nice little home gym that will last you decades.

When deciding on the type of weights to include in your home gym, there is a lot to consider, including; the price of the system, the space you have available, and what exercises you want to be able to do. 

Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells are a great choice for any home gym. These are dumbbells that have a dial on the side that allow you to change the resistance from 5 to 50 pounds in 5 pound increments (and even 2½ lbs. increments for the first 20 lbs.). If you want them to be 20 lbs., you simply turn the dials to 20 and you’re ready to go. I’ve had a set of these for years and have been really happy with them. Following are some of the pro’s and con’s of these dumbbells.


1) Very easy to change the resistance. If you have plate loaded weights with collars, it can take you a few minutes between exercises to adjust the weights. This can disrupt your work/rest interval and add significantly to your workout time. With the Bowflex weights, the change is instantaneous.

2) Look and act like regular dumbbells. Other adjustable dumbbell systems have an unusual shape with a handle in the middle of the dumbbell. This makes it hard to do exercises like overhead back or triceps presses. The Bowflex system can be held like a regular dumbbell, so you can do anything with them.

3) A Serious space saver. This adjustable dumbbell set takes the place of an entire wall of individual dumbbells. This is important if you are in an apartment or only have a small amount of space to devote to your home gym.

4) Very well made. These dumbbells are very durable. I’ve had mine for years and they look like they just came out of the box. There are no signs of wear and tear at all.

5) Do not roll when you place them on the floor. This may be a minor issue for some, but to me, there is nothing worse than laying down your dumbbells in between sets and having to chase them around the room. The Bowflex dumbbells lay flat and don’t roll around.  

6) You can increase the weight by 2.5 lbs. increments all they way up to 22.5 lbs. with these dumbbells. Sometimes an increase from 10 lbs. to 12.5 lbs., rather than to 15 lbs. is appropriate and this is a nice option to have.


1) The only con I can come up with is the price. Right now on Amazon, they are $399 for the set that goes from 5 to 52 lbs. Now, if you bought pairs of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 lbs. dumbbells individually, you’d spend a lot more than $399. However, if you bought plate loaded dumbbells with collars, you’d spend a lot less.

Would I Recommend the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbell system?

Absolutely. They are a bit on the pricey side, but they have really changed the way I can workout at home. I can switch weights in between exercises and even in between sets, with ease. My workouts are now more fluid and overall quicker to get through. I love the space saving aspect as well. I recommend them highly. Several of my clients over the years have purchased these and they have all been just as happy with them.

If you are interested in picking these up, they are available all over, but currently has the best price and free Prime shipping.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with the company that makes the Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell system and make no money if you buy it.