Archive for March, 2009

Decoding Diets

There are millions of diets in existence, with new fad approaches to weight loss popping up each month.  From theApple a Day ever popular South Beach Diet, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate approach, to the very entertaining Cayenne Pepper and Water diet, essentially a starvation diet, it’s hard to sort through the myriad of approaches to weight loss.  Additionally, there is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of any of these plans.  Why punish yourself with cayenne pepper water three times a day if it doesn’t even help you lose weight?

This month, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most reputable journals in medicine, published the study, Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates,” to help dieters decode the plethora of diets peppering society.  The study examined 811 overweight adults (people with a Body Mass Index between 25 and 40) who were assigned to 4 different diets.  The participants received regular, personalized diet training during the entire study encouraging diets with less saturated fat, at least 20 g of dietary fiber per day, and low cholesterol.  The four diets studied were classified by the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrates that each diet consisted of:

1.      Low-Fat, Average Protein: 20% Fat, 15% Protein, 65% Carbohydrates

2.      Low-Fat, High Protein: 20% Fat, 25% Protein, and 55% Carbohydrates

3.      High Fat, Average Protein: 40% Fat, 15% Protein, and 45% Carbohydrates

4.      High-Fat, High Protein: 40% Fat, 25% Protein, and 35% Carbohydrates

The target number of calories consumed per person was calculated as a 750 calorie deficit per day (meaning that if your body consumes 3000 calories per diet, which we call your Basal Metabolic Rate, your target diet would consist of 2250 calories per day).  You’re saying to yourself, “How on earth am I supposed to know what my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is?”  There are a series of formulas that calculate this value for you based on age, height, weight, and amount of exercise you complete each day.  Follow this link to a convenient BMR Calculator (Click on BMR & RMR Calculator…and don’t forget to adjust your caloric need based on your daily physical activity).

Big KidAfter 2 years of monitoring participants weight loss, the study concluded that “reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize.” Essentially, it doesn’t matter which diet you choose.  The most important factor in creating a diet is calculating the number of calories your body needs to consume, making sure that the diet you design consists of 750 calories less than your BMR per day. The study found that the majority of weight loss occurred in the first 6 months of the diet (i.e. if you haven’t lost any weight after 6 months, you aren’t on the right diet).  Additionally, all of the diets reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes (a definite bonus).

The Take Home Message: The amount of food you consume is just as important, if not more so, than the types of food your diet consists of.  Whichever diet you choose, be sure to calculate your individual caloric needs based on your age, height, weight, and physical activity and are eating the appropriate number of calories per day based on that number.

Diet Results


03 2009

The Incredible Growing Baby

A newborn baby consumes approximately 100 calories per kilogram per day…which tranlates into a 500 calorie per day diet for an 11 pound baby.  If your average adult had the same metabolic needs as a newborn, we would need to consume 7,000 calories per day (here’s looking at you, Michael Phelps) to survive!  Don’t we all wish we still had a metabolism like that…


03 2009

The Stink on Gas

by Kelly Erickson, MD

The Human Fart Machine

Whatever you choose to call it – gas, farts, and flatulence – it’s a fact of life.Our body produces gas continually regardless of where we are or the company we are in (as we all have inevitably experienced).In case you feel alone inyour flatulence-producing universe, most people produce between 1 to 4 pints of gas per day, causing an average of 14 gas-passing events daily! Read the rest of this entry →

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03 2009

Auto-Cleaning Ear Wax

by Joshua Goldman, MD, MBA

How many times did your mom tell you to clean your ears growing up?  If you’re like most of us, it was part of a daily mantra chanted by our parents.  Walk into any personal bathroom in America and there’s a 75% chance you’ll find a fancy little container of Q-Tips sitting on the counter reminding you to clean your ears.  The only problem is that your ears don’t actually need cleaning.Q-Tip Cleaning

The architect of the human body was brilliant and built an auto-cleaning function into our ears. Our bodies naturally produce ear wax (what doctors call cerumen) to trap dust particles that find their way into the ear canal.  Ear wax also collects all the dead cells from your ear canal that naturally desquamate (the doctor word for “die and slough off”) each day as well as some antibacterial properties.  Without this wax, your ears would have been completely blocked with dirt and cells by about age 3.  So how does the wax get out?  The portion of your ear canal where wax is produced (the outer 1/3 of the canal) is lined by tiny hair cells (cilia) which are constantly brushing in the outward direction.  The repetitive movement of these hair cells pushes the wax and dust particles out of your ears all by themselves…no Q-Tips needed.  When left alone, your ears are an amazing self-cleaning wonder.  So what’s the problem with using a Q-Tip to help this process along (perhaps before a hot date or your next yearly check up)?  Read the rest of this entry →


03 2009

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