Well, the summer is over and I’m sure that many of you had great plans to lose a few pounds but were unsuccessful. Don’t feel bad because most diets are difficult to start and maintain. I have a novel idea that I’m sure that the readers of this blog would be happy to follow. How about eating some candy bars to lose weight? This may seem like a ridiculous notion but after I have finished explaining, you may not think so.
There is a very successful weight loss product on the market called Slim-Fast®. It is advertised that by having a Slim-Fast drink for breakfast and lunch and then having a “sensible” dinner you can lose weight…possibly a substantial amount. Have any of you ever looked at the ingredients in a can of Slim-Fast? A can of Slim-Fast contains 40 to 46 grams of carbohydrates of which 35 to 38 grams are sugar. More than half of the total calories in this product are from sugar. If you look at the two top ingredients in Slim-Fast, you’ll notice they are water and sugar. Compare this to a Hershey’s chocolate almond bar. One 1.45 oz. bar gives you 18 grams of sugar. In addition, you get from a Hershey’s bar (that you do not get from Slim-Fast), the antioxidants of chocolate which some studies have shown to be as powerful as red wine. So it would seem that by having a Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds in the morning for breakfast and one for lunch and then having a “sensible” dinner, you might also be able to lose a substantial amount of weight. Please, however, before you run out and buy a box of chocolate candy bars, I mention this tongue-in-cheek… I am not at all serious about this.
I use this comparison to illustrate the huge amount of sugar in Slim-Fast and many other popular diet drinks. You will notice on the Slim-Fast television commercials and website that the alleged weight loss success testimonials are “results not typical”. What is the typical result? Do not buy a product based on individual weight loss testimonials. There is no guarantee these people lost the weight solely because of the product they are promoting. They could have increased their exercise, reduced their calorie intake from diet, etc. Rely only on products that contain nutrients proven in controlled clinical studies to assist with weight loss and sugar is not one of them.
One of the reasons a company may use sugar as the main ingredient in their products is price. Sugar is very cheap versus a high quality whey or soy protein. Sugar can cost just pennies per pound versus dollars per pound for the protein. Additionally, sugar obviously has an appealing taste. Unfortunately, it can also have very bad affects on your health. In a study published in the 2002 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, people who started a diet with higher simple carbohydrates (including sugar) had a 16% reduction in their HDL (good) cholesterol. This could adversely affect your cholesterol ratio by ½ a point and substantially increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Bart Hoebel, a researcher at Princeton University specializing in the neuroscience of addiction stated: “Numerous studies have shown that the activity of the nucleus accumbens, an area in the forefront of the brain, is key to the “high” sought by abusers of cocaine, amphetamines, nicotine and other addictive substances.” In their investigation, researchers fed rats a sugary solution for 12-hour periods over a number of weeks, then either abruptly cut off the rodents’ supply of the sweet treat or gave them a drug that blocked the brain’s opioid receptors. The result? Compared with rats fed regular chow, sugar-fed rats developed “mild” symptoms indicative of withdrawal, such as teeth-chattering, an increased frequency of high-pitched crying and anxiety. And when researchers allowed these rats renewed access to sugar, they “binged”–consuming up to 30% of their daily sugar intake within the first hour of re-introduction. Subsequent laboratory investigation on the brains of sugar-fed rats showed an accelerated growth of dopamine receptors in the nucleus accumbens, indicative of a growing dependence on sugar. The behavior of the rats in the study is similar to patterns seen in drug abuse and withdrawal. Binging, especially, “is very important,” Hoebel noted. “If you take in a lot of food at once you’re going to get a lot of dopamine and opioids all at once–that’s a little like getting a small shot of amphetamine and morphine.”
The other amazing thing about giving high amounts of sugar to overweight people is the fact that many of these same people will progress to “sugar diabetes” and their risk of premature heart attack, stroke and death increase by several hundred percent.
If you are looking for proven ways to lose weight, I would suggest a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. This includes more fish (not fried), beans, legumes, broccoli, greens, etc. and less bagels, bread, pasta, sugar, candy, desserts, etc. Several studies have now proven the safety and efficacy of this approach. Further, many nutrients such as fiber (including glucomannan), Super Citrimax®, Chromemate®, 5-HTP, citrus aurantium, Tonalin (CLA)® and green tea have been proven in controlled studies to provide benefits. With any good weight loss program it is important to follow a routine. Most people gained their weight over several years. Do not expect to take it off in days or weeks. Plan on losing 2 to 6 pounds per month. Weight loss should not be considered painful or unpleasant. By changing your eating habits, exercising and consuming higher protein, lower carbohydrate diets and nutritional products as suggested there is no reason why you cannot lose weight safely.
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