Entries in Diets (16)


Weight Watchers Most Popular Weight Loss Method of 2012

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Michael Phelps' 12,000 calorie a day training diet and Beyonce's maple syrup cleanse may top Google's 2012 top 10 list of most searched diets released earlier this week, but the popular website,, found when people really want to get down to the real business of weight loss, they rely on more conventional plans to get the job done.

For the fifth year in a row, Diets in Review tracked its overall traffic to determine which weight loss plans received the most page views and provoked the most user discussion. The site followed hundreds of diet trends over the course of the year and Thursday listed the 25 most trafficked.

This year Weight Watchers dominated as the most popular diet on the Diets in Review site, generating more than five percent of the sites' two million per month page views and over 35 pages of comments from users. The 17-Day Diet and Medifast claimed the next two spots.

Brandi Koskie, director of publishing for Diets in Review, said she believes the list is indicative of which weight loss plans people are actually using since the site tracks unique visitors and number of page views rather than simple searches.

"Search behavior doesn't always mirror actual behavior. Sometimes people are just curious -- no one is really going to eat or train like Michael Phelps to lose weight but they are likely to try something sensible after they've run through all the quick fixes and fads," she said.

The only weight loss brand that makes a top 10 appearance on both lists is The P.I.N.K. Method. No. 4 on Google and No. 5 on Diets in Review, the plan is designed exclusively for women; it includes DVD workouts and a 3-phase approach to nutrition.

Koskie said a strong marketing campaign helped launch The P.I.N.K. Method into public awareness early in the year. The site saw a huge bump in traffic for the diet when the TV talk shows, Dr. Phil and The Doctors, devoted several episodes to it. Reviewers call the plan "kinda silly but sensible" and gave it a solid 80 percent approval rating. However, unlike Weight Watchers, which has been in Diet in Reviews' top two all five years, Koskie doesn't think P.I.N.K. has staying power.

"After its initial spike it fell off the radar. I don't expect it to make an appearance next year," Koskie said.

There were a couple of big surprises on the Diet in Review list. For the first time, no acai berry products cracked the top 25 in popularity. Koskie said she thought this might be because consumers are weary of hearing about the fruit's mystical fat burning powers that somehow never seem to pan out. It's also possible that another berry -- raspberry ketones making its first appearance at No. 18 -- bumped acai off the charts.

"Raspberries dominated traffic in February right after the Dr. Oz segment promoting the supplement. It was one of our biggest weeks of the year," Koskie said.

Another unexpected entry: Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, a workout DVD released more than five years ago. The workout moved up two spots from last year to No. 8 and is the only program on the list dedicated exclusively to exercise. Michaels' Detox and Cleanse kit holds the 9th spot and her online support group holds the 20th spot.

"It's amazing to see how much loyalty users have for Michaels," said Koskie. "Our people continue to rave about her."

Both the Google and Diets in Review list do have their share of drastic, out-there fads. Besides raspberry ketones, Googlers were interested in the K-E Diet (short for ketogenic enteral nutrition) which involves inserting a plastic hose through the nose, down through the esophagus and into the stomach in order to obstruct the ability to eat.

Featured at No.4 on the Diets in Review list, the hCG diet asks dieters to consume less than 500 calories per day, supplemented by daily shots of a hormone produced by pregnant women called human chorionic gonadotrophin, (hCG.)

But despite eight supplements, a baby food diet and several supermodel-sanctioned cleanses making it into this year's top 25, Koskie is heartened to see that most of the weight loss methods, especially near the top of the site's list, are relatively sane and sensible.

"I think things like Weight Watchers and Jillian Michaels are there year after year because people can stick with them and they actually get results without starving themselves or making themselves crazy," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


They Eat What? Food Secrets of Olympic Athletes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It takes more than just practice to become an Olympian; gold medal performances require some serious nutrition.  So what do these elite athletes eat to stay in peak shape?

Keri Glassman, a registered dietitian and founder of Nutritious Life Meals, appeared on ABC's Good Morning America Monday to give you a glimpse into the diets of some top athletes.  Some of their meals could surprise you.

Crazy Calorie Count

Glassman said Olympians eat a lot of food -- quantities that for ordinary people would constitute pigging out.  One secret of swimmer Michael Phelps’ astonishing performance in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was consuming as many as 12,000 calories in one day.

Other athletes fuel up on some of the following foods: A pound of pasta drizzled with olive oil (about 800 calories), a dozen eggs (about 840 calories), a pint of Ben & Jerry’s cheesecake brownie ice cream (about 1,000 calories) and pizza (about 2,000 calories).

Athletes can eat like this and not gain any weight because their workouts are intense.  According to Glassman, Phelps’ workouts can burn 4,000 to 6,000 calories in a day, and those calories must be replenished in order to train the following day.

The body needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and fluid in order to be properly fueled for exercise.  Eating right allows athletes to delay fatigue, work harder -- possibly giving them the edge they need to set a personal record -- and recover faster, Glassman said.

Snacking Secrets

Some athletes eat wacky foods that they swear improve their performance.

Yohan Blake, the Jamaica sprinter and 100-meter world champion, has been making waves for stealing champion sprinter Usain Bolt’s thunder on the track during the Olympic trials.  When asked how he gets his stamina, Blake answered that he eats 16 bananas per day, Glassman said.

Jonathan Horton, the lead gymnast on the U.S. team, has a blood sugar problem.  His solution is honey.  When he starts to feel shaky at the gym, he takes swigs of honey to boost his energy, Glassman said.  According to Horton, the sugar rushes to his blood right away and he feels amazing for the next hour or so, she added.

Kerry Walsh, the two-time American Olympic medalist and beach volleyball player, eats lots of almond butter and honey sandwiches throughout the day, especially before she competes, Glassman said.

Almond butter is packed with endurance-boosting nutrients including protein, plus healthy fats.  Protein helps prevent muscle wasting during exercise and prevents you from feeling hungry during exercise.  The healthy fats in almond butter are rich in calories and provide energy for hours.

Foods for Recovery

What are the best foods to help the body recover after rigorous competition?

U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman swears by chocolate milk because of its high carbohydrate and protein content, Glassman said.

For Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, the recovery meal is grilled chicken breasts with Alfredo sauce, whole-grain spaghetti and a salad with lemon juice and olive oil.  Lochte, who recently cut out junk food, candy and soda, has undertaken a rigorous strength-training regimen that involves flipping tractor tires, dragging shipyard chains and tossing beer kegs, Glassman said.

Lochte’s recovery meal has all the important macronutrients necessary for recovery.

Other recovery foods Glassman mentioned:

  • Pickle juice.  The salty-yet-savory juice has high doses of all-important sodium, potassium and magnesium.  Sodium prevents muscle cramps.
  • Sweet tart cherries.  Pack these in your gym back.  The antioxidants in cherry juice may suppress the enzymes that cause inflammation of the body from the stress of exercise.
  • Beet juice.  The blood-red elixir of the beet is apparently the hottest thing for Olympic athletes looking for a legal performance boost, Glassman said.  Beet juice is rich in nitrates, which help muscles use oxygen more efficiently.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


For Calories, It's All About Quality over Quantity, Harvard Study Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- When is a calorie not just a calorie? When it comes to losing weight, according to a new study from Harvard University. The results found that the number of calories consumed is not necessarily as important as the quality of those calories: That is to say, the kind of calories the body gets may affect how efficiently people burn their body's energy, which can be key for losing weight and keeping it off.

"It's not that calories don't matter, but the quality of the calories going in can affect the number of calories going out," said study author Dr. David Ludwig, at Boston Children's Hospital.

The researchers studied 21 overweight and obese adults, starting each on a diet that helped them lose at least 12.5 percent of their body weight. Then, to help them maintain that weight loss, the researchers put the participants on a cycle of three diets, and they were to stick to each for four weeks.

One was a low-fat diet, similar to the one recommended by the American Heart Association, which had participants reduce their dietary fat, that emphasized eating whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Another was modeled on the Atkin's Diet, a plan in which participants ate more protein and fat but severely curbed their consumption of breads, pastas and other carbohydrates.

The final diet was a low-glycemic index plan, a model based on regulating the body's blood sugar levels used in many commercial diet plans, such as Nutrisystem and the Zone diet. The plan didn't require the participants to reduce the fat or carbohydrates in their diets but focused on the quality of the carbohydrates they ate. The plan pushed participants to replace some grain products and starches with vegetables, legumes, fruits and foods rich in healthy fats.

The results weren't good news for low-fat diet aficionados. When dieters followed that plan, their bodies burned fewer calories than when they were following the low-carb or low-glycemic index diets. And the low-fat diet changed certain metabolic factors in their bodies that typically predicted weight regain.

The low-carb diet seemed to help participants burn the most calories. But it also increased certain markers of stress and inflammation in the body, such as the stress hormone cortisol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other health problems.

In the end, the researchers found that the low-glycemic index diet struck the right balance for the participants. It helped the dieters burn more calories, though not as many as the low-carb diet, but didn't seem to increase disease-causing stress markers in the body.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The results provide physiological evidence for a growing consensus among doctors and diet specialists that low-fat diets, a longtime staple of advice for shedding pounds, aren't as beneficial as many once thought.

"There is a growing feeling that we need to go beyond low-fat diets, that was too simplistic a vision," Ludwig said. "Instead, focus on reducing highly processed carbohydrates."

Heavily processed carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and some breakfast cereals, to name a few make sugar readily accessible, rather than securing it to more healthy elements, like the fiber in an apple. Ludwig said easily absorbable sugar leads to a rapid surge and crash in blood sugar after a meal, which can wreak havoc on weight loss.

Other studies have found results in favor of weight-loss diets based on the glycemic index, including one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 that found that the diet plan was the most effective in helping people maintain their weight loss.

Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said the glycemic index has become a key part of his practice in helping obese patients lose weight.

"Many obesity specialists who treat patients all day long, as we do, favor low glycemic diets, those with less sugar and starch, because patients seem to do better," he said.

But not everyone favors the diet plan. Critics argue that the nutrition standards of the glycemic index are out of whack compared with what people know are healthier choices, giving foods like candy and soda healthier ratings than potatoes or rice. Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, director of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, said the concept is too confusing for most consumers to follow for the long-term.

The study did not follow patients for the long term, and the authors note that it's difficult to say whether the dieters would have maintained their weight loss outside of the study's highly controlled setting.

Ultimately, doctors agree that balanced diets that cut out junk are the most healthful ones. Sarah Bleach, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the best weight loss advice boils down to a simple message: eat fewer calories than you burn through exercise.

"Even if the type of calorie matters for maintaining weight loss, it still boils down to simple arithmetic -- eat less, exercise more," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hollywood's Hot Beach Bodies: Secrets to Celebs' Success

Steve Granitz/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- It’s summer, a time when some of Hollywood’s top names head to the beach to reveal their toned, fit physiques.

In its June 25 issue, People magazine is naming this summer’s hottest celebrity bodies.

“There’s no shortage of fabulous, A-list women flaunting it in a bikini -- and men, too, for that matter,” Suzanne Zuckerman, senior writer for the magazine, said Friday on ABC's Good Morning America.

As People celebrates these hot bodies of all ages, they also dug into the diet secrets to their success.

The magazine says pop star Rihanna, 24, traded in white rice for brown rice, and actress Paula Patton cut out bread.

“I mean, Hollywood stars have a great foundation when it comes to rocking a bikini, but a lot of them will honestly tell you they work really hard at it,” Zuckerman said.

Some celebrities do it the old-fashioned way: slashing the calories.  According to People, 34-year-old Maria Menounos’ typical daily menu contains just 1,000 calories, while George Clooney’s girlfriend, wrestler Stacy Keibler, 32, has about 1,200 calories a day.

And some of the hottest bodies on the beach belong to new mothers.  After giving birth to her fourth child, supermodel Nikki Taylor, 37, lost 55 pounds by eating mostly vegetables, chicken and fish.

“Losing the weight is always a challenge for any modern mom,” she said.

But it’s not all about the ladies.  Some of People’s sizzling beach-ready bodies belong to men.

According to the magazine, newlywed actor Matthew McConaughey, 42, who stars as a stripper in the film Magic Mike, prepared for his body-baring role by working out twice a day and eating only five protein-only meals a day.  His co-star, Channing Tatum, 32, achieved less than 5 percent body fat by doing three hours of cardio a day and going dairy- and gluten-free.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


For Weight Loss, When You Eat May Trump What You Eat

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LA JOLLA, Calif.) -- “Cut back on calories” seems to be the dietary mantra when it comes to reducing weight.

However, a study on mice published Thursday in the Journal of Cell Metabolism suggests that losing weight may have less to do with watching calories — and more to do with watching the clock.

“For millions of years, we humans spent our lives as diurnal species — eating most of our calories only in the daytime and fasting overnight,” said Satchin Panda, associate professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., and lead author on the study. “In the last one hundred years or so, we have started to stay up at night and consume calories at night too. During this time, we have also observed an increase in the cases of diabetes and obesity.”

This study found that mice that consumed as many calories as they wanted for eight hours and fasted for the remaining 16 hours were essentially the same as mice that ate a healthy diet when it came to gaining weight, diabetes risk and high cholesterol.

“The gist of this study is that the timing and the number of hours you fast impact your weight gain,” Panda said. “Watch the times of day you eat as opposed to what exactly you eat. You don’t have to be as strict in counting calories.”

So what does this mean for humans wanting to lose weight and reduce their risk for diabetes and high cholesterol? Dr. Darwin Deen, professor at City College of New York, said he is cautious of these findings as well as translating a study on mice to humans.

“In all of human history, there are more calories now to get fat with,” he said. “Now, when we wake up in the morning, the question isn’t, ‘Is there food to eat?’ but ‘What would you like to have for breakfast?’

“Perhaps the best conclusion from this study is eating at night is not the best idea and having a more regulated diet is something we need to aim for.”

Keith Ayoob, associate professor in the department of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has similar thoughts. “Mice are mice. Humans work differently,” said Ayoob. “A high-calorie diet in eight hours can be a slippery slope; almost like a loaded gun.”  His advice?

Ayoob suggested eating a balanced diet — three meals a day with a snack. Breakfast eaters control their weight better than those who go for longer periods without eating and in turn, gain more weight. Additionally, he said, long-term weight management needs an activity component.

“Move! We focus a lot on food and diet, but activity is deal breaker.”

Dr. George Blackburn, associate director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School, advises that developing a routine with a structured eating pattern is key. For example, it is important to eat breakfast because people are most active between breakfast and dinner, so calories are easily burned. The last meal should be eight to 10 hours after breakfast.

“This is a report that gives us one piece of knowledge that is valuable to us — have a time- restricted eating pattern that begins with breakfast,” Blackburn said.

Ultimately, Panda feels that this study shows that reducing the number of hours in which we eat and increasing the number of hours we fast can have significant effects on weight and risk for diabetes and high cholesterol.

“Over the last 50 years, we have come up with two lifestyle interventions for diabetes prevention — reduce caloric intake and increase exercise,” he said. “What we find today is that the calories in breakfast are different than the calories consumed in a midnight snack. Not all calories are created equal.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lady Gaga Criticized for ‘Pop Singers Don’t Eat’ Twitter Post

PRNewsFoto/Interscope Records(NEW YORK) -- Lady Gaga was likely joking when she tweeted on Tuesday about eating a salad while secretly craving a cheeseburger, and added the hashtag “#PopSingersDontEat.”  But now, the singer, who’s famous for preaching a message of self-acceptance, finds herself under fire for making that comment.

Many fans reacted negatively to Gaga’s hashtag.  One wrote, “Why would you even promote a message like that? Disgusting that you’d joke about such a serious illness.”  Another added, “I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but if not… Wow, that’s an awful example you’re setting.”  Yet another wrote, “what a terrible example your setting miss gaga, RT if you regret saying that!”

There was so much reaction to Gaga’s comment that the National Eating Disorder Association even took notice, posting on its Twitter account, “Huh? This is the same person who recently implored girls to stop dieting?”  Indeed, at a conference held in February at a California school, Gaga confessed to being bulimic in high school, and told the teen audience, “I’m gonna say this about girls: The dieting wars have got to stop.  Everyone just knock it off.  Because at the end of the day, it’s affecting kids your age -- and it’s making girls sick.”

While some have pointed out that Gaga has expressed the “pop singers don’t eat” idea before in a past interview, others say that Gaga’s frequent tweets about getting drunk probably set a worse example and nobody seems to be getting upset about those.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Drop Dead Healthy": Is the Perfect Healthy Lifestyle Possible?

Michael Cogliantry(NEW YORK) -- There are thousands of diet and exercise studies for how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle: Don't eat that, drink more of this, run hard for this length of time, etcetera. The tips constantly change when new studies are published.

For his most ambitious project, author A.J. Jacobs followed the latest medical advice about getting healthy -- all of it -- and found out what really works.

"I was in bad shape," Jacobs said.  "I had a huge stomach.  I looked like a snake that swallowed a goat.  It was sort of the skinny fat, and you know, my diet was terrible.  I ate sugar, salt, fat.  Those were my three food groups, so I really wanted to -- I needed to do a big revamp."

Following the success of his book, The Year of Living Biblically, in which he tried to follow every rule in the Bible for a year, Jacobs, 44, spent two years trying out every diet plan, every workout routine, every self-improvement trick and technique out there.  He documented his journey in his new book, Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Quest for Bodily Perfection, which he wrote while walking on a treadmill, by the way -- a chapter every 12 miles or so.

"More and more research shows how horrible sitting is for you," he said.  "It's really bad.  It's like a Paula Deen bacon doughnut.  It's just so ... if you are sitting for more than six hours a day, that'll increase your risk for heart disease by 60 percent."

Jacobs is now a walking encyclopedia of health insight, from applying sunscreen daily, to having certain plants nearby to filter the air -- even proper water bottle care.

So what did work?  Over the course of two years, Jacobs developed definite opinions about how to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  He said people need to exercise more, sit less, meditate, pet dogs -- because studies have found it lowers blood pressure -- and cook their own meals instead of eating prepared food.

Jacobs now has a healthier diet, mostly made up of vegetables, fish and eggs.  The dietary revelation came not with what he eats, but how he eats it.

"I chew as many times as possible, because you'll eat less and we eat way too much as a nation," Jacobs said.  "There's actually a very passionate movement on the Internet called 'Chewdaism,' and they believe you should be chewing as many as 50 times a bite."

And then there were those health regimens that Jacobs said didn't work for him, such as colonics and juice fasts.

"I was not a fan of either one, and luckily the science is not there," he said.  "There's really very little science that colonics are good for you.  You don't really need them.  The body cleans out by itself."

At the end of two years, Jacobs said he managed to lose 17 pounds.  His body fat dropped from 17 to seven percent and he said he is now bursting with energy and feels great.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dietary Fat Linked to Low Sperm Count, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Diets high in saturated fat are bad for waistlines, but they can also have a negative impact below the waist.  They may lower sperm count and sperm concentration, according to a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School collected semen samples from 99 mostly overweight or obese men and assessed their diets by asking them how often over the previous year they had certain foods and beverages.

They found that eating a lot of saturated fat was associated with a lower total sperm count and concentration.  Diets high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats -- the fats commonly found in fish and plant oils -- were associated with better-quality semen, meaning the sperm cells were of a better size and shape.  The study did not determine what particular kinds of saturated fats were linked to sperm count.

The study's lead author, Dr. Jill Attaman, now a reproductive endocrinologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, said the study could lead to a better understanding of how lifestyle factors affect male fertility.

"There are few clearly identifiable lifestyle modifications that can be made to optimize natural fertility, especially for males," Attaman told ABC News in an email.  "This is the first report of a relation between specific dietary fats and semen quality."

Experts not involved with the study have different opinions on the role diet plays in male fertility.  Some say the research opens up an important door to future studies, while others say there are factors that play a much bigger role in fertility.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can You Stay True to Your New Year's Resolution Diet?

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- It is the time of the year when many of us kid ourselves. We are talking about first of the year promises regarding dieting and weight.  

Amy Cotta, a Tennessee fitness trainer and author of the book "Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans" says that six weeks of hard work is all it really takes.

Cotta's regime involves all the familiar ones, like exercizing, eating healthy. But after six weeks of punishing self-denial, she says you can start to go easier on yourself, and modify the things that you hated.

She says if we start now we can fit into those jeans by Valentines day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Snacking Midday Can Hurt a Woman's Diet 

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Women who munch on snacks between breakfast and lunch may be doing a disservice to their weight loss efforts, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The study, set to be published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that women who opted for a mid-morning snack lost an average of 7 percent of their total body weight in a year's time, compared to non-snackers who lost lost an average of 11 percent.

Anne McTiernan, the lead researcher of the study and director of the research center's prevention center, explained the findings, saying it "may not relate necessarily to the time of day one snacks, but rather to the short interval between breakfast and lunch.  Mid-morning snacking therefore might be a reflection of recreational or mindless eating habits rather than eating to satisfy true hunger."

The 123 women who participated in the study were either overweight or obese and ranged from 50 to 75 years old.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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