Hydroxycut and Fad Diets

May 6, 2009

little_girls_smallA sad day in dieting occurred late last week with the pulling of Hydroxycut – the famed dieting pill (as seen on TV). The FDA is now warning consumers to immediately stop using Hydroxycut.  Apparently, Hydroxycut has been  associated with a number of serious liver injuries ranging from jaundice and elevated liver enzymes, an indicator of potential liver injury, to liver damage requiring liver transplant. One death due to liver failure has been reported to the FDA. Other health problems reported include seizures, cardiovascular disorders, and rhabdomyolysis, a disorder of muscle cell destruction that can lead to kidney failure.

Of course, news like this thins out the competitive field a little bit. True there are still pills out there on the market that promise that you can eat all the Twinkies, Hardee’s thick burgers and Oreo milk shakes that your heart desires without a nanosecond’s worth of exercise. For example, there’s always Alli – the non-prescription strength version of Xenical – which promotes weight loss by decreasing absorption of fat by the intestines, thereby reducing the number of calories you absorb. It also gives you diarrhea and nasty farts that leave skid marks in your underwear. And that’s on a low fat diet. Try that Hardee’s heart attack burger while on Alli and you my friend will understand the true meaning of pain while you spend the next 2 hours on the crapper.

By the way, did you know that the name of the man who popularized the toilet was Thomas Crapper? The guy who actually invented it was Sir John Harrington, hence the usage of “going to use the John”.  Ah, but I digress.

Losing weight is easy and it is hard.  To lose weight you need to eat less calories than you burn – easy in concept, hard in practice. One can also increase their activity level and decrease the amount of calories they consume and they will lose weight.But that won’t keep people from trying to find the magic lazy bullet which allows them to do nothing, eat anything and still have a beach bod. So let’s take a look at some popular, and not so popular, fad diets.

The Tapeworm Diet – Someone actually thought it would be good to eat one of these disease causing parasites. Hey, they’ll just eat all the excess food right? Wrong. Just like any pregnant woman will tell you, parasites eat what they want first and then you get the left-overs. So tapeworms get first dibs on your vitamins, nutrients and minerals. That’s why people with tapeworms usually develop ascites (big round pot-belly). I think I’ll pass thank you.

The Lemonade Diet – Popularized by Beyonce Knowles before filming Dream Girls, this disaster was originally called The Master Cleanser Diet by its creator, Stanley Burroughs in the early 40’s. Stan was a therapist once charged with second-degree murder after a patient died from one of his treatments. The diet eliminates toxins and “congestion” that have built up in the body, and because it doesn’t provide a complete source of nutrition, it is actually consider fasting more than a diet. Beyonce did lose 22lbs in 14 days on this diet, and the diet generally seems to have had good results with others who dare to try it either in Hollywood or elsewhere. Side-effects include lethargy, depression, dizziness, nausea, trouble concentrating, headaches and the one other one … oh yeah, death.  Use at your own risk.

The Paleolithic/Caveman/Stone Age Diet – The hunter-gatherer diet was introduced to modern times in the mid 70’s by a GI doc named Walter Voegtlin, with many variations since. Basically, if you can hunt it or collect it from a plant or tree, you can eat it. That means no dairy and no grains though. Hence the diet is essentially made up of  lean meat, fresh fish, vegetables, nuts, berries and fruits. No sugary calorie bombs or processed, preserved, cancer-causing excuses for food to fatten you up. Good for rapid weight loss in a healthy way but somewhat difficult in practice since you miss out on dairy and grains.

The ABS Diet – Newer kid on the block, created by David Zinczenko, the editor for Men’s Health. For many years most athletes and bodybuilders have applied the same basic fundamentals of the ABS diet to their dietary programs. These principles include eating often (5-6 times per day), a focus on building muscle, eating lean proteins, and striving to eat whole unrefined carbs.The Abs diet is made up of 12 ‘power foods’. One meal per week is designated as a ‘cheat’ meal – where you eat anything you want. The power foods are Almonds (and other nuts), Beans, Spinach (and green veggies), Dairy (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese), Instant Oatmeal (unsweetened and unflavored), Eggs, Turkey (and lean meats), Peanut Butter, Olive oil, Whole grain breads and cereals, Extra-protein whey powder and Raspberries (and other berries). It is a lifetime dieting plan with excellent results and a practical approach.

If none of these seem up your alley, here is one that I think we can all agree on every now again:

The Stress Diet:

This diet is designed to help you cope with the stress that builds up during the day. Breakfast

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast – dry
  • 8 oz skim milk


  • 4 oz lean broiled chicken breast
  • 1 cup steamed spinach
  • 1 cup herb tea
  • 1 small cookie

Afternoon Snack

  • Rest of the cookies in the package
  • 2 pints of  ice creamof your choice
  • 1 jar hot fudge sauce nuts, cherries, whipped cream


  • 2 loaves garlic bread with cheese large sausage, mushroom and cheese pizza
  • 1 Liter of your favorite soda pop or cola
  • 1 bag of nachos with tub of hot cheese and salsa sauce

Late Evening News
Entire frozen cheesecake eaten directly from freezer

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Healthy Snacking at Work

April 16, 2009
Call the Fire Dept for my mouth

Call 911! My tongue is on fire!

Scrubs aren’t just comfortable work clothes, but they help us hide that extra 10, 15, 20 lbs that we usually gain at work. Why? One of things that we have all noticed working in a chaotic and stressful Emergency Department, is how hard it can be to get enough time to eat.

As a result, we “graze” all day long and even worse on night shift as we look to calories, especially sugars, to keep us awake. Just about every ED I have worked at has the bottomless snack zone where all the wonderful, well-meaning doctors, nurses, secretaries, EMS personell, etc. bring us goodies and treats to help us get through the day. Had a tough patient? Here, these cookies will make you forget all about them. Who needs Percocet when you have such home-made delights?

When I noticed my own weight getting me to the tight stage on my large scrubs, I realized I had better do something about it before those 2X scrubs were looking inviting. Here are a few tips that I have picked up along the way that might help turn our snack zone into a healthy grazing area, and help us keep the weight off:

Dried Figs:  A delicious dehydrated fruit that’s high in fiber – you might get a little gassy, but hey, we’re all friends right?  “Figs will give you slow-burning energy to see you through a workout,” says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. They also pack a lot of potassium, to help repair muscle.

Sunflower Seeds: With their shell, they keep our tongues busy with something other than high sugar candies. Also high in protein, at 5 grams per half cup, which helps us feel more full.

Shredded, unsweetened Coconut:  Also from the experts over at Men’s Health, although high in fat, more than 50% of its saturated-fat content is lauric acid. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more. Overall, this means it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Filling and won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar (followed by the dreaded crash and craving for more sugar).

Beef Jerky: High in protein, tasty and doesn’t affect your insulin. Avoid brands high in sodium content though by going with more organic, preservative-free options. Also, try to get ones that come from grass-fed battle, as studies show that, unlike grain-fed products, grass-fed beef contains the same healthy omega-3 fats found in fish.

ApplesApples have no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and contain small amounts of potassium, which may promote heart health, help maintain healthy blood pressure and a healthy weight. If you cut them and sprinkle some cinnamon on them, they taste even better and you get the added benefits of cinnamon!

Quick bowl of Cheerios and Light Milk:  Not enough time for a meal and need a quick energy burst that will satisfy the growling in your stomach? try this easy snack that has only 150 calories (skim ilk included), no cholesterol, 3grams of protein and loads of other good things. Fiber One brand cereals are lower in calories, but if you had the dried figs, you might need to use a space suit to contain your fumes.

Almonds: A personal favorite of mine. A health gold-mine that acts as a natural appetite suppressant, reduces bad cholesterol, regulates blood glucose and even has phyochemicals, that help prevent some types of cancer. All that and they taste great, especially now in flavors like Wasabi, Jalapeno and Vanilla!

What works for you? Let me know. I’m always on the lookout for a tasty and healthy way to keep my taste-buds busy and my stomach from overpowering me. Later, we will also look at food syou should avoid at all costs while at work, or anywhere else for that matter!