Is Dieting Bad For Your Health?

You may have seen in the news recently articles about yo-yo dieting linked to increased rates of heart attack and stroke, even in otherwise healthy people. This isn’t the first time medical studies have linked yo-yo dieting to negative outcomes for your health.

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What is Yo-Yo Dieting?

This is when you start a diet and lose weight but then put the weight back on presumably because you stopped the diet or it was a short term diet like a cleanse. This can happen when you do extreme diets like a 7 day cleanse, or a 30 day challenge if you’re not able to maintain the changes you made long term. Although your weight can go up and down for various reasons, it’s generally assumed that for most people it’s from changes in your diet.

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Why Is Yo-Yo Dieting Bad?

The recent news articles about yo-yo dieting are based on a recent study that came out in the medical journal Circulation.  This study looked at about 6.7 million healthy people, so that’s a large study. The study showed that weight variability (which can be caused by yo-yo dieting) can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and can also negatively affect your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. Some of this information confirms prior data from smaller studies that yo-yo dieting can be bad for you long term.

Based on study data yo-yo dieting could also lead you to be overall heavier or to lose less weight long term. One theory is that if there’s a lot of variability in your weight it could lead to a long term break down in your body weight regularity system, so that ends up making it harder for you to lose weight long term.

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What Can You Do About It?

The best thing to do is to make healthy changes slowly to how you eat. I know that’s not as exciting as doing a cleanse or challenge and it’s harder to post about on Instagram or Twitter, but it will be healthier for you long term. You could start with even eating one healthier meal one day a week and then every week increase the number of healthy meals you’re eating.

This is so you can maintain these changes long term, but also so you can troubleshoot problems along the way. For example what to do when you have unexpected meetings that throw off your eating schedule, or how to eat a healthy breakfast when you’re on vacation, and so on. If you’re doing it gradually you can figure how to overcome different obstacles in your life that are keeping you from eating healthy.

P.S. Here’s the YouTube version of this post.

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Will Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?

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Lately, it seems like a lot of celebrities are promoting various types of teas that helped them lose weight. You may be wondering about whether it’s worth trying? If it worked for a celebrity, maybe it will work for you too? There aren’t medical studies evaluating every type of tea out there, but there are a number of small studies looking at green tea and weight loss.

Green Tea and Weight Loss

Some studies show drinking green tea every day does help you lose weight. There are other studies showing that although it helps with weight loss, the weight loss is not statistically significant.

Part of the reason the results are varied from study to study is that there are a lot of different types of green tea. Different types of green tea have different amounts of caffeine and different amounts of catechins (antioxidants). One proposed method of how green tea could help you lose weight is the caffeine and catechins, and this might be why there are different results from study to study regarding weight loss.

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How Does Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?

Really there’s not a clear answer of how green tea could help you lose weight. Medical research isn’t clear partly because of the differences in green teas and different amounts of caffeine and catechins.

This paper suggests it may be secondary to your gut microbes (bacteria) and the way your gut absorbs green tea. Possibly different people are absorbing green tea in different ways, and that’s why it helps some people lose weight but doesn’t help other people lose weight.

Should You Try Green Tea?

Based on the data so far I wouldn’t recommend you start drinking green tea for the purpose of weight loss. The data is not clear that it would work for weight loss or how it would work. However if you already drink tea every day, you could try switching to green tea and test if does help you with weight loss. This would be green tea without any added milk, sugar, or sweeteners.

On a side note, green tea extract is different than green tea as a beverage. Green tea extract has also been studied for weight loss, but it also has potentially more side effects. Green tea as a beverage is the safest way to take in green tea.

P.S. Wondering what your goal heart rate should be when you work out? Check out my video here.

Does Weight Loss Coaching Work?

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There are a lot of different types of weight loss programs out there. One of them is weight loss coaching. Given that weight loss coaching is a time and money investment you might be wondering if it really works. I haven’t tried it myself, so I reviewed the medical studies available.

Do Weight Loss Coaching Programs Work?

Based on data yes weight loss coaching is an effective way to lose weight. If you’re having trouble losing weight on your own, it’s worth trying at least once. The most effective type of program lasts at least six months, and the coaching sessions are at least twice a month. More frequent coaching sessions seem to correlate with more weight loss. The studies showed that if you’re speaking with a coach once a week, you’re likely to lose more weight than someone who is speaking with a coach less frequently.

If you’ve had trouble maintaining weight loss, studies have also shown that coaching could help with that too. So if you’re one of those people who can lose weight on your own, but then you have trouble keeping it off long term, it may be worth trying weight loss coaching.

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What About the Cost?

Several health insurances have started their own weight loss programs in the last couple of years that are free for their members. However, if this isn’t an option for you, weight loss coaching can be expensive depending on the program. Think of it as an investment in your long-term health. If you’re losing weight by eating healthier and a weight loss coach helps you do this, it can help you prevent and/or reverse long-term health problems like diabetes and high cholesterol. So even though it’s expensive up front, long term it can help you save money.

How Long Should You Try a Weight Loss Coaching Program?

In the medical studies I reviewed on average people lost 10-20 pounds in the first six months. So if you’re not losing weight effectively in the first six months of a program, consider that maybe this isn’t the right program for you. Even though it may have worked for other people you know, the same program is not going to work for everyone; different people have different lifestyles, different work schedules, etc.

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What Type of Weight Loss Coaching Program Should You Try?

It’s worth thinking about how you’ve accomplished things in the past.  One approach is to think of it as how you best learned in school, in group settings versus individual settings, online versus in person, etc. That may help you figure out what type of weight loss coaching program would fit you the best.

If you try a weight loss coaching program for six months and it doesn’t work for you, move on to something else. Again because people have different lifestyles, jobs, and even different genetic backgrounds, all of this can affect what will work for you. But don’t give up, sometimes it just takes time to find what will work best for you!

How Many Meals a Day Should You Eat?

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You may have heard a lot of different advice about how many times a day to eat to help you lose weight. There’s a lot of conflicting information online, so I’m going to review the medical data that’s available. These are mostly small studies, so the data is limited.

How Many Meals a Day Should You Eat?

Medical studies are mixed on how many times a day you should eat, and that’s why the information online is so confusing. What seems to matter the most is what you actually eat during those meals and possibly what time you eat.

One Meal versus Three Meals a Day

Some studies showed that eating one meal a day versus three meals a day doesn’t make a difference in your ability to lose weight. Other studies showed that people eating one meal a day were more likely to gain weight or have difficulty losing weight. The reason for this was that in these studies the people eating only one meal a day were more likely to eat more unhealthy food, foods high in sugar, high in unhealthy saturated fat, and/or high in unhealthy carbs.

Possibly, this was because they thought it was ok for them to eat more unhealthy food because they were only eating once a day. Or maybe they were so hungry they didn’t think as much about what they were eating. That’s what happens to me when I’m really hungry.

Six Small Meals versus Three Meals a Day

There are also studies looking at people eating three regular sized meals a day versus five to six smaller meals per day. These studies also showed mixed results about which one is more beneficial for you to help you lose weight. I think this is because it’s person to person dependent how many meals a day will help you eat healthier throughout the day.

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The Time of Day You Eat

The other thing to consider is if you eat one big meal a day and it’s at the end of the day, there’s less time between when you eat and go to sleep. This means you’re less likely to burn off the food as energy. It’s more like to then be stored as fat. Eating earlier in the day gives your body more time to burn off the food you eat as energy instead of storing it as fat.

Impaired Blood Sugar Insulin Regulation

There a few studies suggesting how many meals a day you eat can impair your blood sugar (glucose) insulin regulation. The reason this is important is that impairment of your insulin regulation long-term can make it harder for you to lose weight and more likely to develop diabetes.

It’s possible that eating one big meal a day could cause a higher spike in your insulin level and over time impair your insulin regulation. It’s also possible that eating six small meals a day could impair your insulin regulation because your body is continually releasing insulin for a significant part of the day. However the data on this is very limited, so I wouldn’t recommend you change the way you eat based on this yet, but it’s information to look out for in the future.

What Should You Do?

Based on the medical studies available it seems person to person dependent how many meals a day you should eat. It depends on how many meals a day helps you maintain eating healthier throughout the day.  You can test it out for one week by keeping track of how healthy you eat on the days you skip meals versus days you don’t skip meals. It’s worth testing yourself to see what works best for your lifestyle, work schedule, etc. as it’s not a one plan fit’s all type of situation.

Want to lose weight with science backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

Will a Juice Cleanse Help You Lose Weight and Detox?

Recently a few of you have asked me about juice cleanses for weight loss and detoxification. I haven’t tried a juice cleanse myself; this is what I found in researching it.

Will a Juice Cleanse Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, short term it will help you lose weight, but juice cleanses won’t work for long-term weight loss. Juice cleanses works similarly to a calorie restriction or intermittent fasting diet, in that they’re generally lower in calories than your normal diet. Also, it requires you to cut out eating foods like pizza, cookies, and doughnuts so this will help you lose weight too. It’s not the juice that helps you lose weight; it’s everything you’re taking out of your diet.

Will a Juice Cleans Help you Detox?

No, that’s what your liver and kidneys are for. Assuming that your liver and kidneys are functioning normally, they will detoxify your body enough. If you don’t drink enough water normally, then you’ll probably drink more water as part of the juice cleanse and drinking more water helps move more toxins out through your kidneys.

Also, if you drink alcohol, you have to stop drinking alcohol for a juice cleanse, and this can help your liver function better and detoxify your body. The juice itself isn’t detoxifying your body.

Another reason a juice cleanse can help you feel better is that you’re not eating any unhealthy foods like doughnuts and cookies.  Even if you’re not doing a juice cleanse and you do these things you should feel better and have more energy.

Should You Try a Juice Cleanse?

For most people, the answer is no. The reason to consider it is if you think it will help kickstart you into eating healthier. If you think it will help you take unhealthy food out of your diet long term, it may be worth trying a juice cleanse short term like for three days. You should also always consult with your doctor first before starting a new diet.

A Few Things to Watch Out For

It’s not a good idea to do juice cleanses regularly because of the extra sugar and the fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. Long term this can potentially impair your sugar insulin regulation.

Although it may seem like it’s healthy when you drink fruit and vegetable juices, you don’t absorb vitamins and minerals the same as if you ate the same fruits and vegetables. Also, juices don’t have as much fiber as actually eating fruits and vegetables. So you don’t get all the health benefits of having fruits and vegetables.

The other thing to watch out for is feeling dizzy or lightheaded or other signs of having a low blood pressure if you’re doing a juice cleanse. This can be because juices don’t generally have as much sodium (salt) as your normal diet and in some people, this will cause you to have a lower blood pressure. This is why you’re advised to drink a lot of water with a juice cleanse, to keep your blood pressure from getting too low, but this isn’t a good solution. Eating food is a good solution.

Want to lose weight with science-backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.

Sugar Metabolism, Cocktails, and Losing Weight

The Metabolism of Sugar in Your Body

One of the many reasons sugar is important for weight loss is how it’s metabolized in your body. When you’re at rest (not exercising) your body primarily uses fatty acids for energy. These are fatty acids in your bloodstream and from fat cells.  When you eat or drink sugar, like in cupcakes or fruity cocktails, your body switches from utilizing fatty acids to breaking down sugar for energy. Then you’re not using or burning off as many fatty acids from fat cells.

One of the things sugar gets broken down into is glucose, and your body will switch to utilizing that for energy. If you have a really excessive amount of sugar what your body doesn’t end up using for energy, it will store as glycogen in your muscles but also as fatty acids in your fat tissue. So that’s part of the reason limiting the amount of sugar you eat can really help you lose weight.

Drinking Cocktails and Weight Loss

Drinking is one place where you can unintentionally get a lot of sugar. A lot of cocktails have fruit juices in them, which can add a lot of unnecessary sugar. For example, while one small orange may have 9 grams of sugar in it, one eight-ounce glass of orange juice (Minute Maid) has 24 grams of sugar in it. In addition, fruit juice generally has less fiber than actual fruit so you’ll absorb more of the sugar too.

Drinks high in sugar also increase your blood sugar level and make it more likely that you’ll eat more food later in the day or at night to keep your blood sugar elevatedThat’s why you may eat healthy during the day but then after drinking make unhealthy carb heavy late-night choices like pizza. Again this will make it harder for you to lose weight.

What Can You Do About It?

Here’s one way to switch from drinking sweet cocktails to unsweet cocktails. I did this myself, and I think making the switch is really an acquired taste. That’s why I recommend you try it over six months. However, you can try doing it faster if you’re not that attached to sweet cocktails.

Six Month Step Down From Sweet Cocktails:

Month 1-2: Switch from sweet or fruity cocktails to refreshing cocktails, for example, something like a Moscow Mule. You can ask the bartender for recommendations. Refreshing cocktails still usually have sugar in them, but less than fruity cocktails. This will help you get used to the taste of having less sweet cocktails.

Month 3-4: Switch from refreshing cocktails to mixed drinks with Sprite, like vodka and Sprite or gin and Sprite. This still has sugar in it, but it will get you out of the habit of ordering cocktails from the drink menu, which generally have more sugar in them.

Month 5-6: Switch from Sprite and vodka or gin to soda water and vodka or gin with a slice of lemon or lime. If you really have a lot of trouble with the taste, you can squeeze the lemon or lime slice for juice into your drink. This is a minimal amount of sugar until you get used to the taste and then stop doing this as well.

Don’t use tonic water as a mixer because tonic water still has a fair amount of sugar in it. Also, I recommend not using diet soda as a mixer because it still tastes sweet. Diet soda is an easy gateway drink to going back to drinking sweet cocktails.

Want to lose weight with science-backed advice? Get my free guide Lose Weight Without Cooking or Calorie Counting and start losing weight this month.