Category Archives: weight loss

Can Adkins Help When Stopping Smoking?


Amie wonders whether the Adkins Diet is the way to go for those who want to avoid weight gain after stopping smoking. Just yesterday one of my patient’s admitted she would rather face lung disease than gain the 20 lbs. she fears would result if she stopped smoking.

Here is what Amie has to say:

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: I have only quit for a month and so far (with ridiculous excersize and dieting) only gained 4lbs. I’m only 5ft tall and I can’t afford to gain much more. My co-worker (age 38 smoker for 17years) quit a year ago and gained 20lbs. Last April of 09 she went on the Atkins diet and lost almost 35lbs WITHOUT EVEN EXERCISING! She looks great and has been able to keep the weight off. Has anyone else had success with Atkins? If not it’s worth a try since nothing else is working. If I gain another pound I’m going on it. Good luck!

Amie

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Can Eating Carbs Reduce Food Cravings?


In a new book, The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature’s Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain, the authors Judith J. Wurtman, PhD and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, propose that eating carbs before a meal can actually help weight loss efforts. The connection between carb consumption and appetite suppression is due to a change in brain chemistry that occurs when carbs are eaten before a meal. Their theory is supported by independent research conducted by the authors.

I am intrigued by this new concept because until now I have always considered carbs an appetite stimulant because of their action to raise insulin levels which can then cause blood sugar levels to drop a few hours later, resulting in relative hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which is a powerful trigger to more eating.

Thanks to the authors and their publisher we are able to provide an excerpt from the book The Serotonin Power Diet, and you can decide for yourself if this is an idea you would like to pursue.

Serotonin: What It is and Why It’s Important for Weight Loss
By Judith J. Wurtman, PhD and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD,
Authors of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature’s Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain

Serotonin is nature’s own appetite suppressant. This powerful brain chemical curbs cravings and shuts off appetite. It makes you feel satisfied even if your stomach is not full. The result is eating less and losing weight.

A natural mood regulator, serotonin makes you feel emotionally stable, less anxious, more tranquil and even more focused and energetic.

Serotonin can be made only after sweet or starchy carbohydrates are eaten.

More than 30 years ago, extensive studies at MIT carried out by Richard Wurtman, M.D., showed that tryptophan, the building block of serotonin, could get into the brain only after sweet or starchy carbohydrates were eaten. Although tryptophan is an amino acid and found in all protein, eating protein prevents tryptophan from passing through a barrier from the blood into the brain. The reason is simply numbers: Tryptophan competes for an entry point into the brain with some other amino acids. There are more of those other amino acids in the blood than tryptophan after protein is eaten. So in the competition to get into the brain, tryptophan is at a total disadvantage and very little gets in after a protein meal like turkey or snack like yogurt.

But carbohydrates tip the odds in tryptophan’s favor. All carbohydrates (except fruit) are digested to glucose in the intestinal tract. When glucose enters the bloodstream, insulin is released and pushes nutrients such as amino acids into the cells of the heart, liver and other organs. As it does this, tryptophan stays behind in the bloodstream. Now there is more tryptophan in the blood than the competing amino acids. As the blood passes by the barrier into the brain, tryptophan can get in. The tryptophan is immediately converted to serotonin, and the soothing and appetite controlling effects of this brain chemical are soon felt.

Our studies with volunteers found that when people consumed a pre-meal carbohydrate drink that made more serotonin, they became less hungry and were able to control their calorie intake. Volunteers whose drinks contained protein — so that serotonin was not made — did not experience any decrease in their appetite.

Most of us have experienced the carbohydrate-serotonin effect on our appetite even though we were not aware of the connection. Have you ever munched on rolls or bread while waiting for the main course to be served in a restaurant? By the time dinner is served, twenty minutes or so after you ate the roll, your appetite has been downsized. “I don’t even feel that hungry” is a common response when the plate is put down on the table.

This blunting of appetite is not because you may have eaten 120 calories of roll. It is caused by new serotonin putting a brake on your appetite.

Successful weight loss depends on the power of serotonin to control food intake.

The carbohydrate-serotonin connection has a direct impact on our emotional state, too. Drugs that increase serotonin activity have been used for several decades as a therapy for mood disorders. However, our studies showed that natural changes in serotonin could have a profound impact on daily fluctuations in mood, energy levels and attention. In one of our early studies, we found that our volunteers became slightly depressed, anxious, tired, and irritable around 3 to 5 pm every day. At the same time, they experienced, in the words of one volunteer “a jaw-aching need to eat something sweet or starchy.” Several studies later, we were able to state that late afternoon seems to be a universal carbohydrate-craving time, and people who experience this craving use carbohydrates to “self-medicate” themselves. Carbohydrate cravers who consume a sweet or starchy snack are increasing serotonin naturally.

We carried out careful clinical studies to measure the effect of carbohydrates on mood and to make sure that the effect was not just due to taste or the effect of taking a break from work. Volunteers, all carbohydrate cravers, were given a carbohydrate or protein- containing food or drink that had identical tastes. Their moods, concentration and energy were measured before and after they consumed the test beverages. The carbohydrate serotonin-producing beverage improved their moods but the protein-containing beverage had no effect on either their mood or their appetite.

Eating carbohydrates allows serotonin to restore your good mood and increase your emotional energy.

Eating low or fat-free, protein-free carbohydrates in the correct amounts and at specific times potentiates serotonin’s ability to increase satiety. You will eat less, feel more satisfied and lose weight.

Here are five tips to get serotonin working for you:

Eat the carbohydrate on an empty stomach to avoid interference from protein from a previous meal or snack. Wait about 3 hours after a meal containing protein.

The carbohydrate food such as graham crackers or pretzels should contain between 25-35 grams of carbohydrate. The carbohydrate can be sweet or starchy. High-fiber carbohydrates take a long time to digest and are not recommended for a rapid improvement in mood or decrease in pre-meal appetite. Eat them as part of the daily food plan instead for their nutritional value.

The protein content of the snack should not exceed 4 grams.

To avoid eating too many calories and slowing down digestion, avoid snacks containing more than 3 grams of fat.

Do not continue to eat after you have consumed the correct amount of food. It will take about 20-40 minutes for you to feel the effect. Eating more carbohydrates during the interval is unnecessary and may cause weight gain.

Stress may increase your need for serotonin and make it harder to control food intake. Prevent this by shifting protein intake to the early part of the day; i.e. protein for breakfast and lunch and switching to carbohydrates by late afternoon. Eating a carbohydrate dinner with very little protein increases serotonin sufficiently to prevent after dinner nibbling. And the soothing effect of the serotonin prevents stress from interfering with sleep.

Boost Serotonin to switch off your appetite and turn on a good mood.

©2009 Judith J. Wurtman, PhD and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, authors of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature’s Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain

Author Bios
Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature’s Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain, has discovered the connection between carbohydrate craving, serotonin, and emotional well-being in her MIT clinical studies. She received her PhD from George Washington University, is the founder of a Harvard University hospital weight-loss facility and counsels private weight management clients. She has written five books, including The Serotonin Solution, and more than 40 peer-reviewed articles for professional publications. She lives in Miami Beach, Florida.

Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature’s Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain, counsels private weight management clients and is a practicing physician and certified professional life coach. She received her master’s degree in Nutrition from Columbia University and her medical degree from George Washington University. She lives in Boston, MA.

For more information, please visit www.SerotoninPowerDiet.com and Amazon.com.

What is the Correct Vitamin D Dosage?


Annette posts a question to metabolism.com since she is on a high dosage of vitamin D due to intestinal surgery. Is the dosage too much for her, she wonders?

When the intestines fail to absorb fats due to surgery or due to disease, Vitamin D which is a fat soluble vitamin, can see its levels fall dramatically. Otherwise healthy people in the U.S., however, are being found to have unacceptably low Vitamin D levels. Is it due to inadequate diet or is it a result of wide spread sunlight phobia?

Here is Annette’s post followed by my response to her question. Answers to these questions are contained in this exchange.

Annette writes:

I had a Bilio Pancreatic Diversion surgery done in 1990. My Vitamin D level is low, at 15.
My Dr. has me on 50,000 iu of Vit D every other day, 4,000 iu on the other days.

May I ask you, what is your opinion on this amount of Vit. D. The 50,000 iu capsules are by prescription.

Thanks so Much,

AS
**************************************************

Metabolism.com responds:

Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem and has been largely overlooked in the general population until recently. Vitamin D is not only important for bone health but we are learning it is important for the immune system and may help protect against certain cancers. In my medical practice in Florida I am finding an alarming number of my patients with very low and borderline low levels of Vitamin D that were totally unexpected. I assume it is because everyone knows that sunlight is bad because it causes wrinkles and skin cancer. The further north you live the weaker the sunlight so the incidence of vitamin D deficiency is higher.

Until recently the recommended daily Vitamin D allowance was 400 IU but recently this was increased to 800 IU and some authorities recommend higher amounts.
10,000 IU levels daily for the average normal person is thought to be an upper limit before toxicity can be seen. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so in people who have problems absorbing fat, such in your case after intestinal bypass surgery, higher amounts are needed. Vitamin D doses of 50,000 IU at a time are not unusual but are usually given only a few times weekly or monthly, depending on needs. A handy tip is that deficient Vitamin D causes serum calcium levels to be low, so many clinicians will monitor serum calcium levels to help adjust the prescription.

Although I can’t recommend medical therapy in this forum I have some thoughts I can share. Why not get another blood vitamin D level measured to see if the amount you are getting is okay? Calcium levels go up in vitamin D excess so a serum calcium level that is elevated can be an indication of too much vitamin D.

Hope that helps. Keep us posted.

The metabolism.com website disclaimer applies to this and all my posts.

G. Pepper

Maya Sarkisyan Offers Expert Advice on Quitting Smoking and Weight Gain


Maya has been a long standing guest expert at metabolism.com. In her recent post Maya offers her expert opinion on the debate regarding weight gain (and how to lose it) when stopping smoking.

Maya writes:

I help people to quit smoking using hypnosis in combination with other healing modalities. It is always an individual approach. Not everyone gains weight after quitting, so I have noticed that people who do generally have other underlying health issues, such as underactive thyroid function. Why than smoking keeps the wight down? There are few possible explanations.
1. when you smoked you constantly had something around your mouth, so you ate less.
2.The taste buds are getting desensitized because of the nicotine.
3. according to some Chinese medical sources the nicotine is a very hot substance and upon entering your body it dries up your fluids – vital fluids as well, such as your blood. This is why cardiovascular disease is associated with smoking.

Now when people quit smoking their body has to go through some sort of rearrangement. Food starts tasting better and it is important to start adjusting your diet even prior to the quitting smoking in order to prepare yourself for the long and healthy life. Adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet helps a lot. Drinking lots of water.

Detoxification process is a good approach after quitting to help your body get rid of the gunk accumulated over the years. This way you give yourself a good chance to get back in balance. There are different detox treatments available to do at home and some of them are very mild yet effective.
And, most importantly, taking care of yourself helps to get you healthier in all aspects.

Thank you Maya for your comments. You can find more of Maya Sarkisyan’s articles at https://www.metabolism.com/author/Maya-Sarkisyan/. Maya also maintains her own website at www.transentient.com

Floating Our Way to Fatness on a “Bloat”


Imagine locking the family dog in a cage for a week with an endless supply of its favorite treats. What would you expect at the end of the week? It’s obvious, isn’t it? A fat and possibly very ill pooch.

Subject a human counterpart to similar conditions and expect the same thing to happen. Yet, unbelievably, there is a huge industry devoted to creating this kind of environment and we pay a fortune to support it. It’s called the cruise industry.

During summers thirty years ago in the New York metropolitan area, many of my parent’s friends spent their vacation time in the Catskills. The Catskills is an area of rolling hills and farms and at that time years ago also the scene of a vibrant hotel industry. Hot, tired and stressed New Yorker could eat and drink themselves silly for a week or two while feeling they were healthier for breathing the fresh, cool mountain air. Because the hotels were set in an apparent wilderness vacationers had no guilt about never moving their bodies outside the compound. Eating, “schmoozing” and taking in the nightly Borscht Belt entertainment were the only activities available.

Fast forward to the present. The Catskill hotels have been replaced by mammoth floating hotels called cruise ships. The original beauty of these ships as a method of refined transportation to Europe or the islands has been lost. In transforming from Borscht Belt hotel to gigantic cruise ship merely substitute ocean for mountains. Sequestered on board the ship with no risk of being required to move more than a few hundred steps in any direction, what else to do but consume what is constantly in your face…massive quantities of food and drink and passive entertainment.

It is my impression (supported by numerous studies) that the average weight of our population is growing steadily. Paralleling the phenomena of the growing size of the average person is the ever increasing size of the cruise ships. Last week the most obscenely massive cruise ship of them all made its debut in Florida. Oasis of the Seas is 40% bigger than the next largest cruise ship and 5 times bigger than the Titanic. Oasis of the Seas will confine together 6300 passengers and 2800 crew members. Despite its size, being alone on this ship will be like trying to find a quiet corner in Times Square on New Years Eve. Looking at the ship one wonders how something so big could float. It is oddly shaped, no sleekness to this vessel with more vertical than horizontal lines. Maybe we shouldn’t call it a boat, at all. In fact I would put it into a different category altogether…something I would call a “bloat” for being a really big, big, floating boat.

I am troubled by the existence of the ‘bloat’ because as the size of the population and cruise ships increases so has the incidence of diabetes. Since I treat diabetes as a profession, I get the feeling my job is increasingly hopeless as more and more of my patients jump on board the cruise craze. As cruising has become a generally accepted way of vacationing with a vast advertising budget glamorizing this lifestyle, my advice about diet and exercise is drowned out. Once on board, there are few people who could resist the urge to say, “I paid for this, so I might as well do what everyone else is doing”.

I expect more bloats to be commissioned in the future, each one a miracle of engineering and excess. If things continue in this direction we may wind up wiping ourselves out with metabolic diseases like diabetes, coronary disease and high blood pressure. In our wake we will leave behind colossal deserted monuments of our civilization, pyramids of the sea.

Teresa and Marion Share Experiences with Weight Gain after Stopping Smoking


Teresa has plateaued in her effort to lose weight after smoking cessation. Marion offers her support in what is often a frustrating battle to rev the metabolism back up.

Teresa’s story is as follows:

Hey everybody. I quit smoking 3 months ago [7/25/09] and have gained 10-12 lbs [depending on the time of day I weigh, water retention, etc…n} I’ve been doing the the calories in/calories out thing for a year n a half to loose weight… One of my biggest fears with quitting was the weight gain, as that was the reason I started smoking in the first place 18 years ago so i tried upping my activity more [went from walking 1 mile 2x a week @ 2 mph to walking 3 miles 4x a week @ 3.5 mph + kickboxing 2 x a week], decreasing my calories, increasing my food [others thought 1200 was too low]… everything…

My issue is that the muscle built from activity is not burning anything and the fat increased [I’m seeing rolls where I never had a problem before and getting BIGGER-gained 2 inches in my waist so far]. Can anyone tell me-really and honestly- how long it will take to level my non-existant metabolism?! I don’t want to start smoking again. But when I’ve worked so hard to loose weight , putting it back on has made me re-hate my body even more than I did before. I have to loose what I’ve gained and more by the summer [I was already the fat bridesmaid even before I quit].

In response to Teresa’s post Marion relates her similar story:

Don’t give up, I quit on June 14 and have gained 25 pounds so far, my husband quit a year ago in July and his metabolism is starting to level off. He gained over 40 lbs. It will take time, but keep it up and you and I will continue to be smoke free. I am very discouraged also but I have to realize that I am more healthy since I quit. I am having problems having energy. Before I would jump out the bed in the morning to smoke and now I only want to sleep all day. No reason to get out of the bed. I have alot of adjusting to do.