Blog - Authors

Q & A – Low fat or low calorie foods?

Posted on June 29th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Have you seen the high-fructose corn syrup TV ads?

Posted on June 22nd, 2010 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

There have been two TV ads about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that have been airing on a regular basis since 2008 (click here and here to watch them). I was reminded of these ads because one of them aired during a show I was watching this past weekend. Basically the TV commercial is telling people that HFCS is natural and not unhealthy in moderation, just like regular sugar. Is this true? Hardly!

So what is HFCS? HFCS come from corn, but it is definitely not natural. There is an elaborate process to turn corn into HFCS. The basics of it is that it takes many steps, chemcial processes, in the lab to produce HFCS (for a more detailed explanation of the process see The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup, click here). The result is a sugar that is about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. This is similar to regular table sugar which is typically 50% fructose and 50% glucose. It is similar but different in a way that makes it worse.

What makes it worse is the increase in fructose. I know that fructose sound healthy, reminds us of fruit, but the fact is it is the worst type of sugar you can ingest. The reason fructose consumption has the potential to cause negative effects is because the body is not well equipped to handle large amounts of it. The following are some of the negative effects associated with high fructose consumption, whatever the source;

  • Weight gain
  • Accelerated aging
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Elevated triglycerides
  • Elevated uric acid
  • and more

This does not mean that eating some whole fruit is bad, but anything over small amounts, probably 2 to 3 pieces a day, is not good for many people. This typically translates to about 15 grams of fructose a day. For a comparison, a 12 ounce regular soda has about 40 grams of sugar typcially from HFCS. Therefore, this single soda will have about 22 grams of fructose. For those of you drinking fruit juice I am afraid you are not doing any better. One 12 ounce serving of unsweetened orange juice has about 36 grams of sugar and about 18 grams of fructose.

What about the moderation aspect? The first problem is that it is a processed simple sugar and has not redeeming nutritional quality except having calories. It has no vitamins, minerals, protein or essential fats. There is no need to ever ingest HFCS or regular sugar. Second, what is moderation? This is an ambiguous term. Again, there is no need to eat any amount of processed sugars, regular or HFCS. There is nothing good about them and they are typically added to foods and drinks that have no redeeming nutritional qualities to them.

The bottom line is that processed sugars, this includes HFCS, should be avoided at all costs. There is nothing natural or healthy about them. Can you eat a little bit everyday and be healthy, probably. But for the millions of people who are unhealthy and/or have a weight problem these substances should be avoided. Don’t be fooled by the slick marketing, which, by the way, is paid for by the Corn Refiners Association. HFCS is not natural and it can contribute to health and weight problems.

P.S. There is a very good lecture on this topic called; Sugar-The Bitter Truth by Robert H. Lustig M.D. Click here to watch it.

Priorities – What is really important to you?

Posted on June 17th, 2010 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

We all have things we will do no matter what. We consider these things to be top priorities in our life.  For example, most people will take a shower daily, eat a few times a day, and go to work for 8 or more hours, the core necessities. But what about all the other stuff that ranks very high on the priority list or takes up the bulk of our time every day? The other things that you make sure you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis no matter what. Some examples include getting your haircut, having your nails done, playing Facebook games, watching certain TV shows or sporting events, going shopping, going out to dinner and so on. For many people these things will dominate their top priorities and will use up most of their available time. As fun and enjoyable as these things are, they typically do not contribute to achieving a high level of success in life. This does not mean that these activities have to be completely avoided. My point here is that many people have a priorities list that is dysfunctional. People tend to focus on, and succumb to, immediate gratification. There is no or little focus on the long-term benefits/consequences of their actions. The result of this type of thinking and behavior is very negative as is evidenced by the average economic and health status of many people. What can be done to improve this situation?

First, there are no shortcuts to success and happiness. It takes persistent effort. In fact, it is the effort that really gives us the deep feeling of accomplishment. Without some effort, sometimes a lot of effort, attaining some goal or reward will have little meaning and the potential high from achieving it will be fleeting.

All the information so far has been a build-up to a discussion of your nutrition and fitness priorities. However, the information can be applied to any behavior you would like to modify. It seems that many people, from my experience with many clients and the clinical research, put the nutrition and exercise aspects of their life, and therefore their health, low on their priority list. Or it may be high on the list but it easily gets bumped down by many other things. Why is this?

There are many reasons why a person does not make eating well and exercising regularly top priorities. A few of the reasons are legitimate, but most of them are poor reasons to justify the neglect. Regardless of the reasons, most people have the time to eat well and exercise a little. In fact, eating well will often take no more time than eating poorly. But, for arguments sake, let’s say it takes an extra 30 minutes a day to do it. Do you not have 30 more minutes in your day to be able to nourish your body properly? Again, this is about priorities. Do you need to watch 2 hours of TV a night? Do you need to surf the web for 2 hours a day? There is no doubt that you want to do these things. However, do these latter things really contribute to the “good life”?

When it comes to exercise, 30 minutes a few times a week can have significant health benefits. Exercising more can possibly be better, but for most people, who just want to be able to function well in daily life, hold-back some of the effects of aging, and be able to play with their kids or grandkids, then this amount of exercise can do the trick (more on the specific exercises in another article). Do you not have 90 minutes a week? Really, is this amount of time not available? I would guess it is, but you have probably scheduled other things to do, for right now, that you considered more important. This brings us back to priorities.

The first step to setting your priorities is to spend some time and figure out what YOU want. Think of this as your personal vision quest. Do YOU want to feel good, physically and mentally, most of the time? Do you want to feel comfortable with how you look? Do you want to be able to do some physical activities with friends and family? Do you want to increase your chances of living a long and healthy life? You need to really want these results and be able to envision the benefits you will receive from putting in a bit of time and effort. If you do not cultivate a deep, passionate, emotional feeling connected to the exercise and nutrition habits then the likelihood that you will change your priorities is unlikely, particularly for the long-term.

If you want to look and feel better then you need to prioritize your life in a way that will facilitate daily habits that will move you in that direction. There are many techniques that help can help your motivation levels and ability to stick to your plan, such as setting SMART goals, journaling, and getting a mentor or coach. For now focus on creating a compelling vision in your head and on paper. Huge time commitments are not needed, but consistent effort is. If YOU really want to change, then stop the excuses and begin prioritizing your time.

S.P.E.E.D. Q & A – How do I figure out how many calories I need to lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks?

Posted on June 10th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger


Where can I find a table that tells me (according to height and weight), how many calories I should have each day?  If I wanted to lose 10 pounds in 2 months,  how many calories will I need to cut out to attain this goal?

In the Doing SPEED chapter, we outline our preferred method to find your caloric and macronutrient (Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat) intakes. Below is a link to a calculator I created that should make it even easier. Just plug-in your height, weight and age. Choose your sex and activity level. Then choose the degree of caloric restriction you’d like to use (20-40%) and the amount of carbohydrates you’d like to consume.

Figuring out the amount of calories you need to cut to lose 10 lbs. in 2 months is in one respect more complex, but in another very simple. Let me explain.

There are equations for figuring out the human metabolism that are complex and confusing. There are educated guesses as to how large a caloric deficit a person will need to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain period. These aspects, however, seem to be highly variable between different people which makes it all a complex guessing game.

Here’s where it gets easy. Cut calories. If you want, start by cutting 20%. If after a week or two that doesn’t work. Cut 30%. And then 40%. This all hinges, of course, upon your ability to KNOW, for sure, that you’re taking in a certain amount of calories.

Journal. Journal. Journal.

Trader Joe's Cheese and Trek Mix

Posted on June 8th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

“But what do I eat?”

It’s the question I hear the most directly after telling someone to cut processed garbage out of their diet.

Here’s a simple snack that will keep you satisfied for hours.

Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Cheddar Cheese – 2 oz.

Trader Joe’s Trek Mix – 1/4 cup

Calories: 390 – CHO: 13g – PRO 19g – FAT: 29g

We have no relationship with Trader Joe’s, we just like some (definitely not all) of their products. To be honest, a portion of what you’ll find on the shelves of TJ’s I wouldn’t feed to my enemies :)