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Fad Diets

  1. I found your webssite by looking up that silly cabbage soup diet. I'm hoping to lose 10 to 15 pounds to fit into this wedding dress. Answer
  2. I did my masters thesis on the relationship between fasting and aging. Answer
  3. Everyone who has been on a diet knows they will gain weight as soon as they go back to their old way of eating. Answer
  4. I have been looking all over the web for ideas on how to lose 20 pounds in 4 months. Answer
  5. Are fat burners a wsate of money? Answer
  6. I needed to lose weight because I was eating very badly. Answer
  7. I am wondering if you have a diet plan for a cleansing diet? Answer
  8. I started taking a nutriitonal drink mix two weeks ago called Balance 40-30-30. Answer
  9. Did not find any mention of the Calorad product by Essentially Yours Industries. Answer

  10. Wondering if there is any problems with a high fat / high protein / low carbohydrate diet like Dr. Mario Disasquale's anabolic diet? Answer
  11. I got to your website from Prime Quest which is a diet using adaptogens. It is a liquid diet combined with a low calorie meal. Answer
  12. A friend gave my husband a copy of a diet from Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital that is used in their cardiac care unit for overweight heart patients to lose weight. Answer
  13. The brain burns ketones and prefers ketones over sugar. You can make glucose from fat. I hope this is useful. Answer
  14. A physician assistant at a hospital near me is advoating a protein sparing modified fast tyoe of diet. Answer
  15. How healthy is it to fast? Answer
  16. On the Jeweish day of atonement, my friends and I endured the annual 24 hour fast with ease. I would like to find more information about week long liquid or fruit diets. Answer
  17. Can you explain ketosis to me? Answer
  18. What health benefits and risks can you associate with fasting? Answer
  19. What is the nutritional value or risk of fasting? Answer

  20. I recently read a book called Fit for Life which contained some controversial material and ideas. Answer
  21. Do you know about the cabbage soup diet? Answer
  22. I was looking for an article on carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism prevention. Do you know anything about these inhibitors? Answer
  23. My mother is 60 years old and is on a quick weight loss diet. She has heart blockage. Is that diet safe? Answer
  24. What do you think about the Herbalife Slim and Trim weight control program? Answer
  25. I feel your suggestion of consulting a dietitian for sound advice is not the only recourse. Answer
  26. I need to lose some weight. So some friends and I went on a vegetable diet. Answer
  27. What do you think about Instant Breakfast? Will it help me lose weight? Answer
  28. I've read some pretty convincing ads about starch blockers. Do they really work and can I really eat all the starch I want? Answer
  29. Does grapefruit, orange juice or apple cider burn off fat? Answer

Ironically enough, I found your website by looking up that silly Cabbage Soup Diet. After reading what many doctors and health workers had to say about it, I've found that there is no such thing as a "Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital" (the hospital that supposedly prescribes this hideous starvation-torture diet) and furthermore, there never was. There is a Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, but it does not endorse this diet at all.

I started reading through your fad diet topic and found some interesting information in there, like that your body is only capable of loosing 1/2 pound of real weight per day (not water) and what starving yourself can do. I never even heard of ketosis before I got on your web sight! I must say, you do provide a service!

Since I plan to be the meal provider of my household, I'm anxious to learn about proper nutrition. I have to start from somewhere, so could you tell me about the exchange list that you mentioned? I'm hoping to safely and effectively loose 10 to 15 pounds by October so I can fit into this wedding dress.

I understand that you have a high volume of emails, so I tried looking around for this exchange list as much as I could. However, your website is so full of information, that rather than finding that list, I found that I've got a lot to learn about feeding a family in a healthy manner.

I'm also sending you just one of the many reviews I've discovered about the Cabbage Soup Diet. The only good news, people say, is that it gets you to eat your vegetables! Thank You!

Thanks for your kind comments.

The exchange list was used in treating diabetes. Now diabetic nutrition therapy employs carbohydrate counting to control blood glucose levels.

The exchange list groups foods with similar calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate. Dietitians still use the exchange list to create individualized, healthy eating plans for people who want to lose weight.

You can get your own copy of the exchange list from the American Dietetic Association. The booklet doesn't have any standardized calorie plans (1,200, 1,500, 1,800) though and you would need to know how many calories you need to achieve your weight goal.

Have you tried the Healthy Body Calculator? Using your physical data (height, weight, age, gender, activities) and your weight goal, it will determine how many calories you should eat to achieve your weight goal.

I was browsing your interesting and useful (and generally, in my opinion, well balanced and informative) site on nutritional Q&A, but I was troubled by one item that you may have missed the target on:

In the Q&A item where the questioner asked about possible benefits of fasting, you said, basically, that there are no health benefits.

I can't resist responding. I'm sure that here are many promoters of fasting who have no evidence whatever of its value and that there may indeed be situations in which a person can harm themselves by doing so.

But, as it happens I did my masters thesis on the relationship between fasting and aging. (There had been historically claims that fasting can slow aging.) I did an extensive search of the research literature on fasting.

As you may know fasting has been rather extensively studied with human subjects under controlled conditions for periods of up to several months. During World War II the U.S. Army in particular took a strong interest in it and had volunteers doing fasts of up to, if I remember correctly, 90 days. So there's no shortage of data on it. Sadly, I can't find my old thesis, which would have all the references.

So, from memory, I'll just mention the extensive classic studies of McKay (or maybe "MacKay") in the late thirties on rats -- which were replicated many times since then. Simply put he found that both constant caloric restriction (below what were previously considered normal healthy ad lib. levels) and periods of alternate fasting and feeding cause:
  1. A significant increase in the life spans of the test populations (about 1/3rd more if I remember right)
  2. A significant reduction in a number of pathologies that they were monitoring for.

As I remember he found the optimal "life extension effect" with a schedule of periods of fasting followed by a period three times as long of not fasting.

If you want to see an overall review of much of the literature on the known effects (many of them known to be or at least suspected to be, beneficial I'd refer you to a 1989 article on "Overview of the effects of food restriction".

And, although strictly speaking they are not studies of effects of fasting and certainly aren't controlled studies, the epidemiological records in England showed that the generation of children that grew up during the World War II years with caloric intake well below what we recommend these days and consider normal had better health records than the generations that grew up just before and just after those war years of restricted intake. To give you some idea of what research is on there on this topic (and which you may not have been aware of) I did a quick search on Medline.

You also said that "no cleansing of the body occurs." Although "cleansing of the body" isn't exactly a well defined agreed on and quantifiable physiological concept, there is some reason to believe that something like that can take place. It's documented that pesticide residues and other fat soluble toxins can be stored in lipid tissue and are released when fat in that tissue is drawn on those toxins are released into the serum sometimes with undesirable effects and do show up in the urine. That could arguably be called "cleansing.

My question to you, then, is this: Based on the references, would you now say it would be fair and correct to say "there is some research both in humans and animals studies suggesting some benefits to fasting, but whether it's overall effect is beneficial or detrimental in any particular individual and what the optimal fasting schedule would be, are not questions that can be fully answered yet?"

New research on people who eat fewer calories than they need on a daily basis indicate that it can extend lifespan.

This however is not the same as fasting which is not eating any food except possibly water for one to many days depending on the individual person's interpretation of fasting. This practice is not recommended. There is no cleansing effect to fasting and yes toxins and heavy metals stored in the body do increase in the blood during a fast.

Lastly, animal research is not always transferable to humans and that is why human research trials are performed to see if the effect seen in animal research holds up in humans before we make recommendations to the general public.

I have read a few or your question and answers. You asked a couple of times "What are they going to eat when they get off of the protein diet? Well, after having talked to my own doctor (who I thought was nuts for telling me to eat protein) it's not just a passing diet. It is a way of life. You adapt to it. Everyone who has ever been on a diet knows they will gain weight as soon as they go back to their old way of eating. That's why they/we were fat in the first place.

Congratulations, you got it! Now could you explain that simple principle to the thousands of people who spend $35 billion a year (2006 data) on weight loss diets and foods?

I have been looking all over the web for ideas on how to lose 20 pounds in 4 months. Ok, more would be good, but let's start off with that number. I have come across Atkins Diets, Cabbage Diets, 7-4-3-1 day diets and what the heck is this Zone thing? They all seem really unhealthy, and no one can give me specifics on what to watch for to simply eat healthier.

I'm a busy woman with 2 jobs, school and attempting to have some sort of social life. It's hard for me to find time to sleep, much less cook, and your website helped me figure out what I needed to put in my system per day to get to where I need to be. Thanks for being so succinct! After searching around, I think I'm going with your suggestions. If it works as well as I think it will, I'll let you know!

Thanks for your comments. Yes, there are a lot of really crazy get thin quick schemes out there. Why should a weight loss diet be so radically different that a weight maintenance diet? Otherwise, what have you learned to eat differently for the new thinner you?

Bottom line is the amount of food and exercise you get determines your weight. Eating a bit less food and exercising more should accomplish your goal which is reasonable. The Healthy Body Calculator report should provide you with the calories you need to lose weight if you include a weight loss goal of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Good luck and write back with your progress.

Your site is very informative and helpful. Are fat burners a waste of money? Thanks for your reply.

Yes. Save your money to buy healthy foods using the Food Guide Pyramid as a basis and start a daily exercise program. To start you off, try the Healthy Body Calculator on Ask the Dietitian to determine a goal weight as well as Your Nutrition Facts for calorie and nutrients.

First, thank you for the most helpful website I have found on the Internet.

In a nutshell I needed to lose weight because to put it bluntly I was eating very badly. Daily trips to Mickyd's. I hurt me feet in Tae Kwon Do and was letting them heal (I should have warmed up) and I started to eat at the fast food joints more them I should. I was enjoying to many candy treats and the old favorites pretzels and chips. So I went from a lean 200 to 270 pounds in about 2 years. It kind of slips up on ya!

Well I finally started to notice the weight especially when I made my way back to Tae Kwon Do. It was awful I was big, roly-poly, slow and had no endurance. I was not sleeping as well as I did before the weight and I noticed I was breathing harder.

I took action because I did not want to stroke out anytime soon since I am a scout leader. The boys would come up and say wow Mr. Smith you are fat. (Kids are brutal, but honest.)

I asked around and I heard about a doctor who just did this sort of thing supposedly he is a weight loss doctor. I took the plunge and went to the class and saw the doctor. Basically I was told I was insulin resistant. I had to cut the carbs out and I would lose weight fast.

He asked me if I would like to have drugs to help with the hunger. I said yes, but I did say I wanted something safe. I have never been into taking drugs for anything. He gave me Phentermine 30 milligrams, Phendimetrazine 35 milligrams and 3 colorful amino acids. Plus I am taking a multivitamin. I feel like a pill junkie.

I started to get a bad feeling about this guy when he started to push his products, but I was in a hurry to get back down to my weight. Well I followed the diet plan and I had pain in my stomach right before I had to go the bathroom and then it was like water and it came 3 or 4 times a day. Right at the end of the first week, I was feeling very bad I felt weak and it was hard to think like I hit the wall.

I got some carbs into my system right them and I started to recover. I got a piece of fruit and ate it and felt 100% better. I came home after my shift and found your site I was mad. I copied the information and went to one of the helpers who the doctor used to push the diet and confronted him about this. He said was I eating the 75 carbs the doctors said to eat? I told him I was never told to eat 75 carbs and was encouraged to eat very little carbs, even though 75 carbs are to little anyway.

I went to 150 carbs ( Mind you I gave up fast food, sugared sodas, chips, candy ect). I felt better my total calorie intake was 1,200 to 1,400 which concerned me as being a little low.

I went for the check up and lost 15 pounds, the doctor encouraged me to go back on the low carb diet again so I did. Well it started again with the stomach so I decided to get off this diet roller coaster and just eat well.

I have slowly gained 5 pounds, but I think that was replacing the lost fluids in the muscle. One of the things that bothered me from the start was the amount of meat and cheese and fat that he was saying to eat. I am not much of a meat eater. I like bread and grains and veggies. It was so hard for me to eat that amount of meat and not to mention the 50 dollars every 2 weeks in medicine for the amino acids and the other pills.

I am making a appointment with a dietitian and have her help me plan my meals and help me take control over my eating the safe way. I am going to get off these pills and just eat right!

Well I am sorry about the long letter, but you opened my eyes to this. One more thing just in passing, the heart is a muscle and when the body is starving for glucose it gets it from the lean muscles...Yikes almost makes me want a big tall glass of orange juice.

Thanks for telling me your story. Unfortunately I have heard it many times before with slightly different details, but similar story about a silver bullet diet / supplement that guarantees good health or painless weight loss. I am very glad you found a dietitian to provide you with a weight loss diet that incorporates your health goals. Stick with her / him through your weight loss program and remember to exercise.

Haven't a clue what a beuritic(?) doctor is or did you mean bariatric??? Bariatric doctors work with obese patients. Phentermine can only be prescribed by a medical doctor and short term (few weeks) for persons with a BMI greater than 30 who has other risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol / triglycerides. One side effect of phentermine is primary pulmonary hypertension. Phentermine is not recommended to be used in combination with any other drugs according to the manufacturer. Don't know what Dhendimotrazine is. Please check the spelling. Amino acid supplements don't do anything food sources of protein can't and can add stress to your kidneys or brain.

Sounds like something you were taking or eating caused diarrhea. Not a good way to lose weight as it depletes your body of fluids and potassium.

Who told you to eat 75 grams of carbs? The doctor you saw? Minimum need for carbs is 100 grams to prevent ketosis (read my hypoglycemia topic). You are correct in that when you stop a dehydrating diet and start eating normally, you will rehydrate yourself and gain weight back. But then you hadn't lost bodyfat; you had only lost water weight.

Eating a lot of meat and cheese can mean you are eating a lot of fat depending on the meats and cheese you choose to eat. A high protein diet is nauseating (see fad diet topic on high protein diets and ketosis).

For $100 a month, you could have joined a really nice health club and gotten some really good exercise and weight lifting.

Some questions to ask yourself next time a diet or supplement sounds too good to be true.

  1. What are the credentials of the person offering advice, are these credentials in the same area this person is practicing and are these credentials from an accredited college or university? A Registered Dietitian (RD) has the education, experience and passed a national registration test to practice nutrition as well as continuing education requirements to maintain registration.

  2. Is this person selling supplements or pills that must be used or in combination with their diet? Unless the supplement is backed by nutrition research substantiating the need for a specific nutrient, most people don't need a daily vitamin or mineral supplement unless their food intake is restricted to less than 1600 calories per day.

  3. Does this person push pills because our soils are depleted of nutrients or processing removes most nutrients? Food is the best source of nutrients needed by the human body while only about 15% of most vitamin or mineral supplements are absorbed. Food labels show the nutrient content (protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals) for thousands of foods both raw and processed that are sold in grocery stores and some restaurants.

  4. Are whole groups of foods like starches omitted or magic foods that must be eaten daily? Healthy diets, including weight loss diets, contain foods from all food groups. Omitting whole groups of foods decreases your intake of vitamins and minerals supplied by omitted foods.

  5. Does this person have special tests they can perform on you to determine your nutritional status? Tests to determine nutritional status are best performed by a Registered Dietitian or medical doctor. These tests can include a physical exam, blood and urine tests that are analyzed in medical laboratories. Hair, eye and muscle strength tests are bogus and cannot determine nutritional status.

  6. Does this person use testimonials (It worked for me so you should try it) rather than nutrition research to substantiate their diet or supplement claims? Nutrition practice is based on research that has passed the rigors of multiple studies and peer review.

  7. Do they promise quick, dramatic results rather than long term success? Most nutritional remedies take time to take effect, especially weight loss.

  8. Do they claim they use "natural" products rather than synthetic ones? Ask yourself what is natural about a pill unless you have seen a pill tree, bush or plant.

  9. Do these people downplay or not explain negative aspects of their diet or supplements? There are positive and negative aspects to every food and supplement. Make sure you know what you are taking and how it can harm you by using a supplement or omitting a food before you pay money.

  10. Are these people telling you to take megadoses (many times the RDA for a nutrient) of their supplements because the RDA's are set too low or do they recommend you take supplements for which there is no RDA? The RDA's are based on human clinical studies of the need for each nutrient. If a RDA doesn't exist for a nutrient there has not yet been a substantiated need by the human body as determined by nutrition research. Food supplements are not regulated by the FDA and can make any health claim that prescribed drugs and labeled foods cannot.

Lastly, remember that we are PRACTICING nutrition, as we don't have it perfect yet. But we learn new information as new nutrition research is published and we pass this information along to consumers to improve their health and quality of life.

Thanks for your kind comments.

I was wondering if you have diet plans for a cleansing diet. I am looking for one that lasts no more than a week or a few days. I am aware of the health risks concerning a long term diet plan, but am looking for a short term plan. Thanks for your help.

By a cleansing diet, do you mean a fast? I would not recommend fasting and it does not cleanse your body. In fact, toxins in your body increase in your blood during a fast because your body becomes dehydrated. Your body stores toxins in your liver and things like PCBs in body fat. Besides, fasting will greatly reduce the amount of stool you produce and that doesn't sound like what you want to achieve.

I am a 34 year-old female who started taking a nutritional drink mix two weeks ago called Balance 40-30-30. A week later, I noticed that the tips of my fingers are wrinkling as if I had been in water for a long time. It varies from finger to finger and hasn't gone away. I thought it was dryness, but nothing seems to help it. I stopped the drink for two days with no difference.

Could I be getting too much of a vitamin, or do you think this could be vitamin related? Any suggestions? Thanks!

Copy the nutritional info (calories, protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, etc) on the label to me and then I may be able to comment. Also include the list of ingredients if available.

Don't know why the tips of your fingers would start wrinkling. Would recommend discontinuing product.

I looked through your Q&As and did not find any mention of the Calorad product by Essentially Yours Industries. I have a brochure which states that it has "purified water, collagen hydrolysate, aloe vera, glycerin, potassium sorbate, methyl paraben as a preservative, natural flavor." It states "1 tablespoonful of Calorad at bedtime following a three hour interval since last snack / meal / drink (other than water) will help build lean muscle tissue and assist the body in burning fats and sugars more efficiently." I would like your opinion on this product and if it has any value. Thank you and keep up the good work.

There is no published medical research to support any claims for weight loss with the use of Calorad which is manufactured in Canada. I could not find a list of ingredients on the Colorad manufacturer's website. Your ingredient list includes collagen (source not identified) which is found in connective tissue (often from beef). You can eat collagen, but since it is a protein, your body will break it down into amino acids in order to absorb protein. These amino acids will be used to build lean tissue, but not necessarily collagen in your body. It has a similar effect to eating gelatin since gelatin is hydrolyzed collagen.

There is no ingredient in the list you provided that will cause weight loss or burn body fat. You would be better off spending your money on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats and healthy oils. Weight loss is achieved by eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your weight and / or exercising to build muscles.

Aloe vera contains a strong laxative. According to the FDA, it was removed from the US market as a laxative. The diarrhea caused by using aloe vera internally may decrease the absorption of drugs and lower blood glucose in persons with diabetes who already use glucose lowering medication.

Wondering if there is any problems (kidney, liver, heart, prostate) with a high fat / high protein / low carbohydrate diet like Dr. Mario Dipasquale's anabolic diet. The diet's main energy source is fat and protein. It restricts carbohydrates to less than 30 grams per day during the week and then on the weekend (no longer than 48 hours) you do a carbohydrate loading phase when you concentrate on low glycemic carbohydrates. The diet is a lot of fun and it has helped me gain eight pounds of muscle. Just concerned about what it is doing to the interior of my body. Satisfied, but concerned.

I am glad you are interested in you body and long term health. However, the way you are feeding it does not support your body's optimal functioning nor increasing muscle.

Current recommendations by the American Dietetic Association, the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Medical Association encourage people to eat a diet centered around the Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Pyramid is printed on many food labels, especially cold cereal boxes.

Carbohydrates should make up approximately 55% of your total calories, fat 30% and protein 15%. Excess fat and protein can be very harmful to the "interior of your body". Eating fat while limiting carbohydrate will increase blood fats which can build up to harmful levels. A high fat diet has also been closely linked in many studies to a high incidence of heart disease and many cancers, such as prostrate and colon. A high protein diet can cause the body to lose calcium, which can lead to development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can result in broken bones. After a few days on a low carbohydrate diet of less than 130 grams per day, a person develops ketosis. Read below for more information on ketosis. Then on weekends, when you re-feed carbohydrates, your body is busy replenishing depleted carbohydrate stores (glycogen in liver and muscle).

How do you know the weight you gained was all muscle? One method to assess your muscle mass is a body fat analysis. Did you have your body fat tested before and after you tried this diet?

Muscles increase in size when you make a muscle do more work than it is used to doing like in weight training. Eating more protein does not cause a person to gain muscle. Your body can easily convert protein to glucose if your body needs it due to an inadequate intake of carbohydrates.

I hope this information has been helpful for you to assess your diet. See your local Registered Dietitian for more suggestions on a healthier diet for the interior of your body.

I found your web page useful, I got there from a web site about Prime Quest, which is a diet using adaptogens. It seems expensive to me and I was wondering if you have read any information on it. There are so many claims as to increased energy and losing body fat only, yet it is a liquid diet combined with a low calorie meal. I would appreciate any feedback other than what I've seen from the company.

Never heard of adaptogens though your suspicions are probably right on target. Liquid diets have been around since at least the 1950's and don't produce lasting weight loss according to research. Read my Fad Diet, Food Fallacies and Overweight topics for more information.

Successful weight loss means you keep it off, some researchers say for at least one year after you have reached your goal weight. I wonder why not keep the weight off for the rest of your life? Research has proven successful weight loss is accomplished through a slow weight loss using a moderate calorie reduction, exercise 30 minutes 5 times per week and writing down everything you eat.

A friend gave my husband a copy of a diet from Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital (location??) that is supposedly used in their cardiac care unit for overweight heart patients to lose weight prior to having surgery. It's a 7-day fat-burning diet consisting of vegetable soup, fruit, vegetables, skimmed milk, lean beef or skinless chicken breast and brown rice--all of the above eaten on specific days of the seven, the soup being eaten everyday. In addition, lots of water, black coffee or tea, unsweetened fruit juice and skimmed milk are recommended daily. Have you ever heard of this?

Supposedly, you achieve a weight loss of 10-17 lb. In seven days will occur. If you have heard of it, could you give me more specifics if there are any? Thanks.

There is not such thing as a "fat burning diet". You "burn" fat by either eating less food than your body needs or doing aerobic exercise. What you have seems to be a variation of the cabbage soup diet. I seriously doubt that a hospital would recommend a 7-day diet for overweight heart patients, especially in a cardiac care unit. I also doubt that lots of black coffee with caffeine would be recommended since caffeine is a cardiac stimulant.

The maximum amount of weight (fat or muscle) a person can lose in a day is 1/2 pound. Any additional weight lost is water. Since the body is about 60% water and 1 gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, a person can see weight losses greater than 1/2 pound on a scale simply by losing body water. However, when your body replaces the water lost, weight gain will re-occur. So you are right back to where you started at an unhealthy weight.

Research has proven that quick weight loss is quickly regained. Studies have shown that gradual weight loss, a lower calorie / fat diet, exercise and analyzing everything you eat is more likely to result in permanent weight loss. Weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is slow enough. A goal of losing 10% of your current weight has been shown to improve your health risk and may be a more reasonable, attainable goal. So figure 10% of your weight as a weight loss goal, then divide by 1 or 2 to determine how many weeks it will take you assuming you follow this advice.

I would suggest you start with the Healthy Body Calculator to assess your current physical data and view Your Nutrition Facts for a calorie and fat gram recommendation for gradual weight loss. If you need help with meal planning for weight loss, I would suggest you see a Registered Dietitian.

I read some of your nutrition advice on fad diets. I would like to point out that it has been known for decades that the brain burns ketones (Nelson et al, JBC (140):p.361, 1941; Owen et al. J Clinical Invest.46:1589-95, 1967; Hawkins and Krebs (there's a famous name) Biochemistry J. 122:13-18, 1971. in fact the brain prefers ketones over sugar. If my memory serves me this was found out by a group studying fasting conscientious objectors from WW II. In a long term fast, such as Gandhi would endure, the blood glucose levels fall below that which would sustain consciousness if induced to fall by insulin, for example. Clearly the brain is burning something else. Also you can not make an appreciable amount of glucose from fat, only from the glycerol as fat breaks down into two carbon units, but you are correct that amino acids will do the trick. In addition, there is research indicating that in hypoxic situations the brain is protected if it is metabolizing ketones relative to sugar. I also recommend you glance at the article in Scientific American on the effects of caloric restriction and aging, Jan, 1996. I hope this is useful, I apologize for the tone but I am in a rush.

Thanks for your input. Will check out the articles you list. Yes, the brain does burn ketones though mental processing seems to become a bit sluggish on this fuel as it prefers glucose. The current accepted practice in medical nutrition therapy is to not recommend ketogenic or fasting diets. There are other factors at work with ketogenic diets i.e. the loss of lean tissue mass, which decreases metabolic rate, but because catabolism of lean tissue yields glucose, the blood sugar is maintained in a safe range. The researcher who had c o fasting during W.W.II was Ancel Keyes did his work under the bleachers at the U of MN and is now living in Italy.

There's a physician assistant at a hospital near me that is advocating a "protein sparing modified fast" type of diet that includes lots of lean meats and is not more than 800 calories/day. I have always read this to be a very unhealthy way to eat, but he insists it works and says he has many satisfied patients who have been able to follow the diet where others have failed and he says they have been able to keep the weight off that is lost. He also says the diet has helped his diabetics control their blood sugars much better. Does the American Dietetic Association have a position on this type of diet? Seems doctors and dietitians don't always agree on diet matters and if I could give this physician assistant some supporting evidence contrary to what he's teaching, maybe he'll reconsider giving this seemingly unhealthy diet to people. Thanks!

Sounds like you are better informed than the physician assistant. You are correct that he is teaching an unhealthy diet to people, including diabetics who may be more harmed by the ketogenic diet you describe. It reminds me of the outdated high protein, low carbohydrate diets.

I would suggest you call or write the hospital administrator that the physician assistant is practicing dietetics. Some states requires licensure only for those persons with the education and experience to provide nutrition information.

I was wondering how healthy it is to fast. I recently read an article in a magazine and have become interested in trying it. Would it be safe for a female teenager to try it?

For how long?

What kind of fast would be most beneficial? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

An adolescent female is still growing and needs calories, protein, iron and calcium to achieve her genetically determined height, is menstruating (needs additional iron) and is at a very vulnerable time in laying down bone tissue to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Fasting at this time could jeopardize a girl's lifelong health.

Since the human body burns calories and needs protein, vitamins and minerals 24 hours a day, I would not say that fasting is healthy for anyone. Fasting does not provide the raw material - food - that the body needs for fuel. Fasting tricks the body into thinking that a famine has occurred and your metabolism slows down. You burn fewer calories so that you can survive longer on your stored fat and lean muscle tissue (organs and muscles).

Some religious beliefs include a day of fast or even several days, which should not be harmful, if the person drinks enough water to prevent dehydration. However, fasting has no scientific basis in improving health.

Unfortunately, magazines, newspapers and television do not usually have people with degrees in nutrition or dietitians making nutritional recommendations. When reading articles on nutrition, first look at the person's credentials. A Registered Dietitian is a reliable source on nutrition.

On the Jewish day of atonement and my friends and I endured the annual 24 hour fast with ease. One of the topics of our conversation was fasting for health and cleansing purposes. I would like to find more information about week long liquid diets and/or fruit diets that would be safe to practice while maintaining a somewhat regular work schedule. Any ideas where I can get more on this?

Please read 3rd question below about fasting.

In regards to week long liquid diets, there is no advantage and may be disadvantages depending on what you drink. If you were to choose something like Instant Breakfast or a complete nutritional supplement like Ensure, Sustacal or Meritene and you drank enough to get 100% of the RDA, then the only nutritional concern would be meeting fiber needs. But why?

Fruit contains mostly Vitamin C, A, potassium and fiber. Fruit is deficient in protein and many nutrients and would not be recommended as a sole food source.

Even if you used a juicer with fresh fruits and vegetables, your diet would still be lacking in grains and legumes if you were interested in a vegetarian diet.

Frankly, I do not know of a good reference on just liquid diets other than a basic nutrition text written by someone with degrees in nutrition science.

Can you explain ketosis to me?

In diets that contain fewer than 900 calories, all food eaten including protein and fat is broken down into glucose to provide fuel for the body. Protein and fat are very expensive fuels for your body. You can only convert 70 percent of the protein and 30 percent of the fat you eat to glucose. The nitrogen from the protein is excreted in the urine. This leaves no protein for repair or maintenance of muscles and organs. Also, in diets containing fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrates, ketosis occurs and your body starts breaking down muscle and lean tissue to provide glucose for brain and nerve fuel. Your body's first need is for fuel. Your body's use of dietary fuels cannot be changed drastically by altering your diet.

Your body can and does take stored fat (as triglycerides) and incompletely breaks it down into ketones, which can be used as a fuel source for muscles and organs. To completely breakdown body fat, you need glucose and oxygen. If glucose is not available for fuel by your limiting dietary carbohydrates, your body learns to run on ketones, but your brain doesn't. Your brain gets sluggish because it only runs on glucose. Your body starts breaking down muscle and organ tissue to provide the needed glucose for brain tissue. Protein contains glucose in its structure and it can be scavenged for use by the brain and nerves. Quick weight loss diets claim they spare muscle protein, but they don't. A diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates does not spare muscle protein from being broken down, unless you eat enough carbohydrate. As you continue on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, the amount of ketones increases and ketosis occurs. Ketones are very irritating to your kidneys and the kidneys try to get rid of the ketones through the urine.

Recently, I have been curious about the practice of fasting. Not for religious or cultural reasons, just curiosity. Some of my friends who have done this have described various sensations of euphoria or "inner calm" associated with fasting.

What health benefits and risks can you associate with fasting? I imagine that dehydration is the biggest concern for example. What other risks or special considerations one should take when fasting?

Fasting has no health benefit and the risks are dependent upon how long the fast lasts, whether the person drinks water while fasting, age, health status, environmental temperature, physical exercise, etc. Dehydration will occur in a few days and thirst may not be a good indicator. The very minimum amount of water needed per day is 1 quart, but an individual's need may be higher than this. I would suggest leaving fasting a curiosity.

The euphoria or inner calm, I cannot explain. However, after 1 day when the body has depleted glycogen (stored glucose in lean tissue and muscles), the body starts breaking down protein structures to provide glucose the brain and nervous system need for fuel. At the same time, the body also breaks down body fat, but not completely to produce ketones. These build up in the blood and are excreted by the kidneys. Other body systems can run on ketones, but generally a person feels lethargic and mentally dull due to the lack of glucose in the blood. Meanwhile, the body is deprived of the basic building blocks (protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals) for maintaining essential body functions.

There is no cleansing of the body that occurs, only depletion.

What is the nutritional value or risk associated with fasting?

Is it OK to go without solid food for a day? I do this about once a week. I do take a lot of water and some fruit juice.

There is no nutritional value to fasting and the risk is dependent on many factors not the least are age, health status, outside temperature, physical exercise and length of the fast. If you are a healthy adult without diabetes, there is probably little associated risk to fast for one day as long as you include water to prevent dehydration.

Fruit juice contains fructose (fruit sugar) which can be used as caloric fuel for the body during a fast. Eight ounces of fruit juice only contains 30 grams of carbohydrate and about 120 calories. You would have to drink 12 1/2 eight ounce glasses of juice to spare blood glucose or glycogen (stored glucose) from being used as fuel.

During a fast, your body still burns calories, usually as blood glucose or glycogen stored in muscles. Once that 1500-calorie supply is exhausted, the body has to burn protein stores. Unfortunately, body fat is not easily moved out of storage and burned as a calorie source during a fast.

Various fad diets have advocated periodic fasting to supposedly shock the metabolism or rid the body of waste products. Neither has been substantiated by research.

I recently read a book called Fit For Life (Diamond) which contained some controversial material and ideas. I have a couple of questions concerning some of Diamond's proposals.

1) Diamond says there are three natural cycles in the body. From 4 a.m. to noon the body is eliminating waste and one is not to eat anything but fresh fruit in small doses. From noon to 8 p.m. it is time to eat balanced and properly combined meals. After 8 p.m. (until 4 a.m.) the body is assimilating food nutrients. No eating is recommended. Is any of what he says supported by any other research? This would seem to contradict the idea that a "balanced" breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In fact Diamond directly states that breakfast, other than a banana or orange, is not only unnecessary, it is harmful to the bodily cycles.

2) Diamond also puts forth the idea that one cannot mix certain "concentrated foods" (foods other than most vegetables and fresh fruits) in the same 3 hour period. For example one can not eat a steak with a potato since a cooked potato is a concentrated starch and the steak is a concentrated protein. He states that the body cannot secrete the acids and alkalis required to break both down without spoiling one or the other and causing both to ferment and putrefy in the digestive tract. Is this true or does our body manage to digest both effectively and nutritionally?

3) He hates milk. He says that adult humans have no ability to break milk down effectively and that it does little in the body but gum up the works. Is this supported by any independent research?

Please let me know if Diamond has been debunked and if you would, supply me with references to other opinions. Thank you for your time and trouble.

Well, your instincts are correct. I don't know of any research to support 1, 2 or3 above. At this time I do not have any references that "debunk" Diamond's opinions.

I find it quite interesting when these theories on food or digestion are passed around. Remember this body was designed millions of years ago and we have the same genetic material. Basically, cave persons ate when they found food and didn't eat when food wasn't available. Any available food source was eaten when cave people found food. The cave people who didn't eat, died and did not pass on their genes. Don't you find it amazing that the human race has survived so long eating a mixed food diet from available foods?

The human body runs 24 hours a day and does not cycle elimination, consumption and absorption. All happen simultaneously and even continuously. Food starts at the mouth, is digested in the stomach and small intestines, absorbed in the small intestine and eliminated via the large intestine. Fermentation produces gas, which if produced is passed out of the body. No food putrefies the body. Breakfast is the best meal of the day. It breaks the fast your body has been in since the last meal the previous day.

Milk is a wonderful food source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin D and riboflavin. The human body needs a food source of these nutrients as bone calcium turns over in the body and needs to be complete replaced. Some persons do develop intolerance to milk, which is caused by a decreased production of lactase the enzyme that reduces milk sugar (lactose).

I would suggest that if you are looking for a reputable nutrition reference, look for one written by a Registered Dietitian who has both the education and experience to espouse sound nutrition information.

What do you know about the Cabbage Soup Diet? Do you have a copy? I would like to try it for 7 days.

No I don't, but I did see it in one of the news groups on the Net. Sounds like the latest fad diet though. Kind of reminds me of the Beverly Hills fruit diet - the silver bullet food that melts off weight. What are you going to eat when you go off the cabbage soup?

Any diet that has fewer calories than what you are eating now will cause weight loss. The problem most persons have is maintaining the weight loss. The one good thing a moderate weight loss plan can do is providing you with a new eating plan that can be followed for a lifetime. There is no silver bullet food yet for weight loss. It takes diet and exercise.

I was looking for an article on carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism prevention. I could not find it anywhere. Do you know anything about these inhibitors? How healthy or safe are they?

I am not aware of any pills currently available that really do block metabolism of carbohydrate, protein or fat. There have been various over the counter blockers available. One was a starch blocker that was made from raw dried beans, some of which contain substances, which cause other disturbances (gas), in the gastrointestinal tract.

The safety or effectiveness of energy nutrient blocker would vary with the active chemical doing the blocking. At the present, I do not know of any that are healthy or safe.

My mother is 60 years old and is on a quick weight loss diet. She has a heart blockage and is being treated for it. Is that diet safe? She said it would be safe because it was written by a doctor.

Most quick weight loss diets allow all the lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and cheese you want, but no breads or starches, fruits, starchy vegetables or milk. It is a high protein, very low carbohydrate diet that results in ketosis and dehydration. This diet would not be recommended for a 60-year-old woman with a heart blockage. In fact, I would not recommend any quick weight loss diet for anyone.

Successful weight loss means losing weight and keeping it off. A weight reduction diet that is slow and incorporates changes in eating habits has been proven to be the most successful.

The arguments of people that favor quick weight loss diets (Scarsdale, Stillman, Atkins, Ski Team, Air Force, Drinking Man's, Calories Don't Count, Mayo or grapefruit diets) is that if you eat enough protein, you will spare your own body protein from being broken down and instead will break down your body's stored fat. This is incorrect and not how your body uses protein or fat.

Your body prefers to run on your blood glucose for fuel. Every time you eat carbohydrates (starches, fruit, milk and vegetables), that break down into glucose, you refuel your body's glucose. When carbohydrates are not eaten, your body has to turn to another source of fuel, either stored protein in muscles and organs or body fat. However, your brain and nerve cells can only run on glucose.

In diets that contain fewer than 900 calories, all food eaten including protein and fat is broken down into glucose to provide fuel for the body. Protein and fat are very expensive fuels for your body. You can only convert 70 percent of the protein and 30 percent of the fat you eat to glucose. The nitrogen from the protein is excreted in the urine. This leaves no protein for repair or maintenance of muscles and organs. Also, in diets containing fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrates, ketosis occurs and your body starts breaking down muscle and lean tissue to provide glucose for brain and nerve fuel. Your body's first need is for fuel. Your body's use of dietary fuels cannot be changed drastically by altering your diet.

Your body can and does take stored fat (as triglycerides) and incompletely breaks it down into ketones, which can be used as a fuel source for muscles and organs. To completely breakdown body fat, you need glucose and oxygen. If glucose is not available for fuel by your limiting dietary carbohydrates, your body learns to run on ketones, but your brain doesn't. Your brain gets sluggish because it only runs on glucose. Your body starts breaking down muscle and organ tissue to provide the needed brain glucose. Protein contains glucose in its structure and it can be scavenged for use by the brain and nerves. Quick weight loss diets claim they spare muscle protein, but they don't. A diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates does not spare muscle protein from being broken down, unless you eat enough carbohydrate. As you continue on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, the amount of ketones increases and ketosis occurs. Ketones are very irritating to your kidneys and the kidneys try to get rid of the ketones through the urine.

Your body draws water from your tissues to have water to float these ketones out. This results in dehydration and the resulting weight loss you experience is actually from water. Most of these diets caution followers to drink eight glasses of water a day to prevent serious dehydration. A simple test for dehydration is, take a pinch of skin on the back of your hand and pull it up. Let the fold of skin go and it should snap back. If it doesn't, you may be dehydrated. Other tests for dehydration are to look at the color of your urine, it should be almost clear and without smell (except the first urine in the morning). Also, the mucous membranes inside your mouth should be moist, not dry and cracked. If ever, there is any question about dehydration, go see your doctor.

Your mother is increasing the levels of triglycerides and probably cholesterol in her blood because these fats provide fuel when glucose is in limited supply. Also, your liver releases increased amounts of cholesterol during periods of stress and a quick weight loss diet is definitely stressing your body.

Show your mother this column and encourage her to see a Dietitian for an appropriate diet. She should also consult her doctor regarding the appropriateness of a weight reduction diet considering her current health. One last thought, a person called doctor might have their Ph.D. and not a MD. Check a person's credentials before trusting them with your nutritional health.

What do you think about the Herbalife Slim and Trim weight control program? It claims to do a lot of things and I don't believe most of what they say. But how is someone who isn't a nutritionist to know? I've sent you a copy to see what you think.

I've read the brochure and sheet about Herbalife products. They contain numerous erroneous statements about nutrition and how your body uses nutrients. In this space I will only address some of the fallacies.

Statements such as Formula No 1: Protein food "is scientifically formulated to satisfy your hunger and help reduce nervousness and irritability, which often comes when restricting food intake. It burns fat and builds muscle." The role of protein is to build and repair lean muscle tissue. The building occurs during periods of growth, weight lifting or isometric exercises to build muscle size. Protein does not burn fat.

In healthy adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein (50 grams for adult females, 63 grams for adult males) is necessary to repair tissue and muscle. Protein takes about four hours to digest and absorb and will satisfy hunger by providing calories, but it does not reduce nervous irritability. In fact, a diet high in protein is nauseating. That is why your appetite becomes less while on a high protein diet. The idea that protein burns fat is simply not true. In starvation diets of less than 600 calories, your body will start breaking down muscle along with mobilizing some stored fat. Your body will use protein to repair only if there are sufficient calories available for fuel. Also, any excess consumed protein will be stored as fat. Your body stores very little protein other than that found in muscle and organs.

The next claim is the Formula No 2 Herbs "curb the appetite and cleanse the body of toxins. It is the buildup of toxins that invites disease." I have never read any scientific research to prove that herbs do anything to your appetite. Herbs do enhance the flavor of food. Your liver cleanses your body of toxins, (alcohol is a toxin). To suggest that herbs will rid your body of toxins that invite disease is totally unfounded. It further suggests that this herb formula will prevent disease. Research has substantiated that a good diet, adequate sleep, no smoking and no alcohol are more healthful.

Another erroneous statement is that Formula No 4 Oil "contains essential fatty acids that our bodies need in order to assimilate protein. They keep the skin tight while losing weight and maintains your energy level throughout the day." Corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower and cottonseed oils and margarine all contain the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. You only need about five grams (1 tsp.) of oil or margarine per day to prevent fatty acid deficiency, which is evidenced by red, dry, flaky skin. In amounts above that level, your body uses fat to supply energy and carry fat-soluble vitamins in food. Excess consumed fat is stored in body fat. Fat is not needed to assimilate protein. Enough calories from either fat or carbohydrate over basal energy needs are necessary for your body to spare protein to build and repair muscle and organ tissue. In regard to keeping your skin tight, collagen helps to keep the appearance of skin smooth. Collagen is higher in the skin of children and decreases with age. Anything you eat or rub into the skin will not necessarily make it tighter. As you age, your skin loses some elastic ability as evidenced by wrinkles in our senior population. Fat is digested and absorbed in about six hours which adds to your feeling full longer and helps maintain energy by providing additional calories to the body.

Another concern I have regarding Herbalife Slim and Trim is its price. These liquid diets cost money and depending on the number of glasses per day you drink, the cost goes up. Most companies figure the price based on a per week or per month. You can compare that cost to how much you spend per week or per month on groceries.

Also, a concern I have is that the diet claims it "will help you lose 10 to 29 pounds a month", which is too much, too fast. A practical weight loss diet based on the Exchange List is geared to four to eight pounds a month. It is a diet you can live with for the rest of your life. The biggest concern I have about the Herbalife weight control program is that it doesn't tell you what to eat after you've lost weight to keep it off. You can eat a diet based on the Exchange List for the rest of your life.

If you would like to read more about separating nutrition fact from fallacy, send for the "Food Facts Talk Back" from the American Dietetic Association, 216 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 700, Chicago, Illinois 60606.

Your comments on weight loss give much advice. I feel your suggestion however, of consulting a dietitian for sound advice, is not the only recourse. There are many articles from nutritionists to rely on.

The Herbal Life Plan is one such alternative and people may tend to shy away from even looking at any of the other preparations on the market in fear of being fooled by them. While it is good to be wary, perhaps someone so very much in need of a safe product such as the one we distribute would never even open his or her mind to the possibility of help that is inexpensive and beneficial. Perhaps, you could look this over and throw out some sounder advice.

I have reviewed the information about the Aloe Vera line including Forever Lite nutritional diet and Fast Break bars. I still maintain that a successful weight reduction diet must include slow weight loss, changes in fat eating behaviors and recommendations for weight maintenance so that the weight lost is not regained.

I do not believe that a person must buy a powder diet or supplement to achieve weight loss or good health. My concerns regarding nutritional diet powders, breakfast bars and nutritional supplements are based on research and my clinical experience with patients.

Most do not perform as advertised and create an aura of success based on one food. No one magic food will cause weight loss. Also, the powders or bars will often contain more calories and fewer nutrients than eating a balanced diet of regular food.

Persons without a working knowledge of basic nutrition provide these diets to the public. The public lacks guidance in the use of these products and misuse is frequent. Registered Dietitians are the appropriate resource persons to see, as they have the college education background in nutrition.

Most physicians will admit their knowledge of nutrition is limited. People with a Ph.D. are called doctor and may have no nutrition education. Ask about the educational background of the person who is giving you nutritional advice. Other people without appropriate nutrition education have started calling themselves nutritionists, which is misleading. Actually, a nutritionist is a person with a master's degree in nutrition.

Nutritional adequacy based on a percent of the RDA does not insure an appropriate diet. Your body's first need is for energy to function. Your body will first fulfill its need for calories and it is capable of burning protein for calories. Semi-starvation diets (Aloe Vera is one of them) of fewer than 800 calories will not spare protein that is needed for growth and repair of tissues.

Cost is another factor. The amount of money spent by the public on diet products amounts to over 6 billion a year. I am concerned about how much of the food dollar is spent on weight loss diets and nutritional supplements. When I go the grocery store, I find that a bag of groceries runs between $10 and $15. Take a look at the amount of money you spend on these nutritional supplements each month. Your food dollars would be more economically spent on nutritious food itself.

The public is faced with many products claiming good health and weight control. So far, the majority of these "health products" do not meet the nutrition gained in eating a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid - Meat, Milk, Bread, Fruits, Vegetables and Fat.

I needed to lose some weight. So some friends and I went on a vegetable diet. I got such terrible cramps that I had to stop after one week. Why did I get such bad cramps?

If your diet previous to the vegetable diet was low in fiber, your cramps may have been due to the sudden increase of fiber from the vegetable diet. Also, vegetables that are members of the cabbage family (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower) increase intestinal gas. Did you eat any of those during the one week diet?

Your intestinal tract is one long muscle that rhythmically moves food along for further digestion or absorption. Fiber increases this movement and the lack of fiber slows that movement.

So if the fiber of your diet was suddenly increased, you may have felt some cramping. Instead, I would recommend a gradual increase of fiber over two or three weeks so that your intestines can adapt slowly. It sounds like you are off the diet now, but if the cramping continues, see your doctor.

The part of your question I am concerned with is, why did you choose a vegetable diet to lose weight? What were you planning to eat after you lost weight to maintain your lower weight?

If you indeed need to lose weight follow a balanced diet from each of the Food Guide Pyramid Groups and a lower calorie intake (no lower than 1,200 calories, however). Vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, but by themselves do not cause weight loss.

What do you think about Instant Breakfast? Will it help me lose weight? PS I don't like breakfast.

No, just drinking Instant Breakfast will not assure you of losing weight. Your weight loss depends on a day's total food intake and total energy expenditure.

Instant Breakfast is a powder whose main ingredients are: nonfat dry milk; sugar; sweet dairy whey; corn syrup solids; calcium caseinate; lactose. Many of these ingredients are taken from milk (nonfat dry milk, sweet dairy whey, calcium caseinate and lactose). So by adding Instant Breakfast powder to milk, you are doubling the protein and tripling the carbohydrate content. It is essentially fortified double strength milk. Remember, half the protein comes from the milk you add to the powder.

Go to your local grocery store. Compare the price of one serving of cereal with milk to one package of Instant Breakfast. Decide for yourself if cost is a factor. Both Instant Breakfast and cereal with milk have similar nutrient analyses and are breakfast food items. Also, both are usually eaten with milk added.

You also have mentioned that you don't like breakfast. If your choice is Instant Breakfast or nothing, drink the Instant Breakfast. At least, it gets your body some nutrients right away in the morning. If you were concerned about your weight, I would suggest you add skim milk as it is lower in fat (1 1/2 tsp.) and lower in calorie (60) than whole milk.

If you feel you need to lose weight, forget the liquid meal drinks. Try decreasing your calorie intake to no lower than 1200 calories per day.

I've read some pretty convincing ads about starch blockers. Do they really work and can I really eat all the starch I want?

No. I had thought we had heard the last of the starch blocker issue when the FDA banned them. Starch blockers do not prevent you from absorbing starch and do not live up to their advertising claims.

Starch blockers were derived from raw kidney beans. An alpha amylase inhibitor was the substance derived from the beans. Amylase is the enzyme produced by your body that breaks down starch into glucose (blood sugar). The amylase inhibitor was supposed to prevent starch from being broken down and absorbed. The starch then supposedly passed through you undigested and magically, no calories from the starch.

Some short-term studies have shown that starch blockers did not perform as advertised. Studies by Dr. George Bo-Linn at Baylor University Medical Center showed that no more starch was excreted with starch blockers than with placebos (sugar pills). Two explanations were suggested: the pancreas may produce much more amylase than is needed in the first place; the starch blocker may have a protein carbohydrate (glycoprotein) form that the body can digest before it can begin blocking.

The FDA acted to remove starch blockers from the market because their safety and effectiveness have not been proven. One noticeable negative effects to starch blockers has been excessive gas (from the kidney beans) and stomach distention.

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine put it well. "There is still no calorie free lunch." Today, the best method for permanent weight loss is to focus on permanently changing eating habits.

Does grapefruit, orange juice or apple cider burn off fat?

No, Grapefruit, orange juice and apple cider do not burn off fat whether they are eaten alone, in between meals or with a meal.

Citrus juices are slightly acidic in nature, but are much less acidic than the hydrochloric acid secreted by your stomach (pH of 1.2). Acid foods do not burn off fat nor alter the fact that all excess food eaten is stored as body fat. Some of these fat-burning diets don't even recommend a lower calorie intake. Instead, the fat burning diets are usually built around one magic food. Avoid following any diet that recommends one magic food that must be eaten with each meal or daily.

A more sensible approach to "burning off fat" is a combination of decreasing your total food intake and an exercise program tailored to your current health state.

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