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Food, Inc. A documentary on food production – A must see

Posted on December 29th, 2009 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

I rented Food Inc. this weekend. It’s a recent (2008) documentary on how most of the food in the U.S. is produced. I was aware of most of the information covered, but still found it educational. It definitely got me thinking again about the many problems with how food is typically produced and that it is clearly not the best method available. I would recommend everyone watch this video. I rented it @ Blockbuster. Let me know what you think of it after you watch it.

Moderate Protein Intake for Weight Loss

Posted on December 23rd, 2009 by Matt Schoeneberger

Research Review:

Layman DK, Evans EM, Erickson D, et al. A Moderate-Protein Diet Produces Sustained Weight Loss and Long-Term Changes in Body Composition and Blood Lipids in Obese Adults. J Nutr. 2009;139(3):514-521

HCG Challenge – Show us the quality evidence!

Posted on December 21st, 2009 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

This is where the discussion on the validity and usefulness of the hormone HCG for weight loss will take place (the YouTube post area limitations make it very hard to make clear and thorough points). Our position is there is no quality evidence that the use of HCG increases fat loss, or helps maintain muscle tissue, or has any other physical or psychological benefits besides a placebo affect. This position is based on the number of studies that have been done on HCG. Although a number of studies may not be perfect, the weight of the evidence that is currently available supports our position on HCG. Therefore, we do not feel it is a useful tool for weight loss. A more complete discussion is in our HCG Report.

Our challenge, to anyone, is the following: “Show us the quality evidence that HCG works and how it works and we will change our position on the use of HCG for weight loss” For any practitioner that recommends this hormone, you should have this type of information at the tip of your fingers.

Protein Intake for Muscle Maintenance for Weight Loss

Posted on December 16th, 2009 by Matt Schoeneberger

“Increased Protein Intake Reduces Lean Body Mass Loss during Weight Loss in Athletes”

This is a short-term study on the effects of increased protein intake when dieting on lean athletes. First, let me say that, as always, this is only one study. Recommendations and practice should be based off a body of evidence.

Here’s what you need to know:

Two groups dieted with calories at 60% of weight maintenance for two weeks. One group ate 35% (about 2.3 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight) of their calories from protein, while the other group at 15% (about 1 g of protein per kg of bodyweight) of their calories from protein. We’ll call them the PRO group and Control group, respectively. Here are the body mass stats (simplified):

PRO – Total Mass Lost – 1.5kg, Lean Mass Lost – .3kg, Fat Mass Lost – 1.2kg

Control – Total Mass Lost – 3kg, Lean Mass Lost – .1.6kg, Fat Mass Lost – 1.4kg

So, as you can see the PRO group lost roughly the same amount of fat mass but much less lean mass. That’s a good thing, especially in this population. Think about a wrestler who needs to make weight but obviously needs muscle to perform. This type of research has been performed in obese/overweight populations with similar results.

Notice that the PRO group’s intake is about 2.3 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. In S.P.E.E.D., we recommend 1.5 kg in S.P.E.E.D. and other researchers advise that up to 2.5g PRO/kg is acceptable without any risk. (Layman)


I could go deeper into this study, and I will if you all want me to. If so, leave a comment and I’ll post an update later. Remember, each study needs to be read with a large amount of skepticism and scrutiny. We’ve used over 250 references in S.P.E.E.D., many of them are studies like this one. Now think about all the studies we read that didn’t get used in the book. We’ve done our homework to make it easier on you. I would honestly like to charge hundreds of dollars for our book because I know that’s what it’s worth. But, the market says $19.95 so that’s what it’ll cost you.

Remember, let me know if you’d like more info about this study!

Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased Protein Intake Reduces Lean Body Mass Loss during Weight Loss in Athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Post Acceptance, 13 November 2009.

Layman DK. Dietary Guidelines should reflect new understandings about adult protein needs. Nutr Met.2009;6:12.

Quick Weight Loss Workout

Posted on December 14th, 2009 by Matt Schoeneberger

Push-ups, Pull-ups, Squats, and Leg-lift Hold.

Fast Food Restaurants: Unjustly singled out as the primary cause of the weight crisis in the U.S.

Posted on December 11th, 2009 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

It is a common belief that the increase in the availability and frequency of eating at fast food restaurants is a major cause of the current bodyweight and health crisis that is occurring in the U.S. For instance, Schlosser states “…it seems that wherever America’s fast food chains go, waistlines start expanding” (p.242) and a recent article by Craig Morgan in a local paper, which spurred me to write this article, stated “Fast foods’ [from fast food restaurants] ill effects on kids are well documented and real” (p.30). I will concede that fast food restaurants do have a number of items that can have a negative affect on health if eaten often. But, they do have a number of items that can fit into a fairly healthy diet and can actually be included in a weight loss diet. For a good rebuttal to Morgan Sperlock’s Super Size Me you should watch the documentary Fat Head by Tom Naughton.  There is much more that could be said on these topics but that is outside the premise of this article. The premise of this article is that Fast Food Restaurants, such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, and others should not be singled out as the major players in the weight and health crises.

It is really the whole processed food industry that needs to be discussed if any “blame” is to be given out. You can get plenty of high sugar, processed “crap” in the grocery store, convenience store, movie theaters, and most any place that food is sold! Not to mention that it is likely that a person will eat MORE food when eating at family type restaurants than at a fast food restaurant. (Brownell, p.37)  Even then there is still the case to be made for personal responsibility. Nobody is making you drink a 32 oz soda (has about 100 grams of sugar) or eat 4 donuts with a coffee that is loaded with sugar and so on. When it comes to kids, parents have a lot of control of what the kids will eat. The problem is that many parents eat poorly; therefore, they are setting a poor example and passing on these habits to their kids. How does a 5 year old purchase a sugar filled soda, or a tub of ice cream, or a jumbo bag of chips or a super size fry? There is no doubt that a lot of marketing and advertising practices are specifically aimed at modify eating behavior. It is clear that a majority of these ads are for products that are not very good for us, particularly in volume. Anyway, there are many reasons, (biological, psychological and social aspects as well as conflicting recommendations from experts and so forth), why people eat what they do and why they eat the amount they do.

Back to the discussion of whether Fast Food restaurants, specifically, are causing the weight problems. The evidence for this view is rather weak. Dr. Glassner, in The Gospel of Food, does a good job of discussing the validity of this issue as well as other hot topics related to food and health (Glassner, 2007). With respect to bodyweight, he states “only a small number of studies have attempted to test the fast-food hypothesis directly, and they have come up with mixed results” (Glassner, p.183). He discusses the details of a number of these papers. I too read these papers and found that the view that eating at fast food restaurants causes weight problems in a lot of people is not very convincing. For example, a 2001 paper in the International Journal of Obesity stated “Overweight status was not significantly associated with FFFRU [frequency of fast food restaurant use] among males and female. Interestingly, BMI was significantly lower among males who reported using fast food restaurants three or more times per week, compared to those reporting less frequent fast food restaurant use” (French et al, p.1828). Another paper on the subject states “…cross-sectional studies did not find any association between fast food restaurant use and bodyweight or body mass (BMI, in kg/m2) in children” (St-Onge et al, p.1069). This final quote, from the St.Onge et al paper, should be considered when trying to  pin the blame on fast food restaurants:

Although longitudinal data are not available concerning increased fast food consumption and body weight changes, one can propose that increases in body weight and increases in fast food and snack consumption are concurrent events that potentially are causally related. However, any reference to causal relations should be made with extreme caution, given that no data are currently available to show such a relation (St-Onge et al, p.1069, emphasis added).

However, the situation is certainly not a bed of roses. For instance, one of the papers previously mentioned stated “fast food restaurant use was associated with greater intakes of soft drinks and lower intakes of fruit, vegetables, grains, and milk” (St-Onge et al, p.1069). Another paper had a similar conclusion “FFFRU is of concern because of its association with lower calcium intake and higher soft drink [non-diet] consumption” (French et al, p.1831). It is more likely that the increase in soft drink consumption, which is available everywhere, is playing a more significant role in the weight and health problems than does the eating at fast food restaurants (St-Onge et al; Bray et al; DiMeglio et al). So it is clear that eating at these types of establishments can negatively affect the quality of the diet. This would certainly not be beneficial for overall well-being. Again, poor eating habits occurs everywhere and poor quality foods, such as soda and deep-fried anything, are available everywhere.

It does seem clear that singling out fast food restaurants as a major cause of our current weight and health problems is not well supported and is a very big oversimplification of the problem. There are some good and bad aspects to this particular vehicle of food delivery. There are ways to dine at these facilities so that is fairly healthy. In fact, as Tom Naugton displayed in his documentary, you can actually lose weight while eating at these types of establishments daily. I will end with a fitting quote from Dr. Glassner “I come neither to praise fast food nor to bury it, only to question its easy portrayal as the root of all evil” (p.146). To make a truly educated decision, I would encourage everyone to start out by reading The Gospel of Food, Fast Food Nation, The Omnivores Dilemma, and watch Tom Naugton’s funny and informative documentary Fat Head.


Bray, G. et al (2004). Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr, 79: 537-543.

Brownell, K. & Horgen, KB. (2004). Food Fight: The inside story of the food industry, America’s obesity crisis, and what we can do about it. Chicago. Contemporary Books.

DiMeglio, DP. et al (2000). Liquid versus solid carbohydrates: effect on food intake and bodyweight. Inter J Obesity, 24: 794-800

French, SA. et al (2001). Fast food restaurant use among adolescents: associations with nutrient intake, food choices and behavioral and psychosocial variables. Inter J Obesity, 25: 1823-1833.

Glassner, B. (2007). The gospel of food. New York. Harper Collins.

Morgan, C. (2009, Dec, 2). Unhealthful fast food won’t be an option for my kids. Gilbert News.

Naughton, T. (2009) Fat Head. Morningstar Entertainiment.

Schlosser, E. (2002). Fast food nation: The dark side of the All-American meal. New York. Perennial.

St-Onge, MP. et al. (2003). Changes in childhood food consumption patterns: a cause for concern in light of increasing body weights. Am J Clin Nutr; 78: 1068-1073.

Kudos to WebMD on the Acai Berry

Posted on December 7th, 2009 by Matt Schoeneberger

I stumbled upon an article on WebMD this morning that discusses whether or not the acai berry is the weight loss miracle some promoters are claiming it to be. I was happy to find a well-written, to-the-point summary of why it’s irrational to think that acai berry or any other super-food is the key to weight loss.

A few weeks ago, Brad Pilon from Eat Stop Eat pointed out in his newsletter that a well-promoted (read:they’ve got ads everywhere!) acai berry weight loss product had “borrowed” before and after pictures from Brad’s website. To make things worse, they were pictures of Brad himself.

We recommend very few supplements in S.P.E.E.D. In fact, we don’t really recommend them, we just tell you which supplements have some good scientific evidence backing them up. If you want to use them, great. If not, okay too.

There’s something in the word supplements that should clue us in to how they should be used. They are a supplement to an already effective weight loss plan or program. It’s our constant thirst for the magic bullet that allows these types of sham products to exist and we need to change our attitude toward weight loss. Losing weight takes hard work, dedication, and a good plan. Now get to it.