Category Archives: Weight Loss

Stop the Weight-Loss Drug Lorcaserin: Linked to Cancer

From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

ISSUE: FDA has requested that the manufacturer of Belviq, Belviq XR (lorcaserin) voluntarily withdraw the weight-loss drug from the U.S. market because a safety clinical trial shows an increased occurrence of cancer. The drug manufacturer, Eisai Inc,. has submitted a request to voluntarily withdraw the drug. When FDA approved lorcaserin in 2012, we required the drug manufacturer to conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular problems. A range of cancer types was reported, with several different types of cancers occurring more frequently in the lorcaserin group, including pancreatic, colorectal, and lung.

BACKGROUND: In January 2020, FDA announced we were reviewing clinical trial data and alerted the public about a possible risk of cancer associated with lorcaserin based on preliminary analysis of the data.

RECOMMENDATION: PatientsPatients should stop taking lorcaserin and talk to your health professionals about alternative weight-loss medicines and weight management programs.

Source: Belviq, Belviq XR (lorcaserin) by Eisai: Drug Safety Communication – FDA Requests Withdrawal of Weight-Loss Drug | FDA

I never ran across a patient taking it, nor did I ever prescribe it. There are better ways to lose weight.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Mediterranean Diet Wins #1 Rank Once Again #MediterraneanDiet

Santorini, Greek seaside

Not surprising!

Every year, the U.S. News and World Report puts together a panel of experts to rank various diets.

From MedScape:

For the third year in a row, the Mediterranean diet has been named the best diet overall in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings.

In 2018, the Mediterranean diet shared top honors with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Both focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The ketogenic diet, one of the most popular, again fared well in the annual survey, but only in the fast weight loss category. Overall, it was not rated highly.

Angela Haupt, managing editor of health for the publication, says this year’s list has ”no surprises,” as it includes many diets that have been named outstanding before. Trendy diets typically won’t be found on its list, she says, explaining that its experts look for plans that have solid research and staying power.

Source: Mediterranean Diet Repeats as Best Overall of 2020

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Fasting: Not Ready for Prime Time?

This caveman probably went days without food, and often

Dr Axel Sigurdsson published an epic post on intermittent fasting early in 2020. I don’t doubt anything in it although I haven’t yet taken a deep dive into the subject like he has. I touched on it here, here, here, and here. I’ve done some 24-hour fasting myself (here and here).

From the good doctor:

Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may have several health benefits. Some of these benefits, in particular, the effects on obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors, have been confirmed in studies on humans.

However, the popularity of intermittent fasting within the general public is in stark contrast with the gaps in evidence on the clinical benefits of this approach.

Source: Intermittent Fasting and Health – The Scientific Evidence

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: PWDs taking drugs that can cause hypoglycemia would have to be extremely careful about fasting, working with their doctors or CDEs.

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High Protein Diet May Prevent Weight Regain

Filet mignon and sautéed asparagus

Weight loss can change your metabolism in such a way that promotes regain of lost weight. For successful weight-losers with prediabetes, a higher protein diet could help with prevention of regain. How much higher protein? 25% versus the usual 15% of calories from fat.

This is important research since most people who lose fat weight gain it back, typically 6–12 months later.

For the boring details, keep reading.

ABSTRACT

Background

Weight loss has been associated with adaptations in energy expenditure. Identifying factors that counteract these adaptations are important for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.

Objective

The aim of this study was to investigate whether increased protein/carbohydrate ratio would reduce adaptive thermogenesis (AT) and the expected positive energy balance (EB) during weight maintenance after weight loss in participants with prediabetes in the postobese state.

Methods

In 38 participants, the effects of 2 diets differing in protein/carbohydrate ratio on energy expenditure and respiratory quotient (RQ) were assessed during 48-h respiration chamber measurements ∼34 mo after weight loss. Participants consumed a high-protein (HP) diet (n = 20; 13 women/7 men; age: 64.0 ± 6.2 y; BMI: 28.9 ± 4.0 kg/m 2) with 25:45:30% or a moderate-protein (MP) diet (n = 18; 9 women/9 men; age: 65.1 ± 5.8 y; BMI: 29.0 ± 3.8 kg/m 2) with 15:55:30% of energy from protein:carbohydrate:fat. Predicted resting energy expenditure (REEp) was calculated based on fat-free mass and fat mass. AT was assessed by subtracting measured resting energy expenditure (REE) from REEp. The main outcomes included differences in components of energy expenditure, substrate oxidation, and AT between groups.

Results

EB (MP = 0.2 ± 0.9 MJ/d; HP = −0.5 ± 0.9 MJ/d) and RQ (MP = 0.84 ± 0.02; HP = 0.82 ± 0.02) were reduced and REE (MP: 7.3 ± 0.2 MJ/d compared with HP: 7.8 ± 0.2 MJ/d) was increased in the HP group compared with the MP group (P < 0.05). REE was not different from REEp in the HP group, whereas REE was lower than REEp in the MP group (P < 0.05). Furthermore, EB was positively related to AT (rs = 0.74; P < 0.001) and RQ (rs = 0.47; P < 0.01) in the whole group of participants.

Conclusions

In conclusion, an HP diet compared with an MP diet led to a negative EB and counteracted AT ∼34 mo after weight loss, in participants with prediabetes in the postobese state. These results indicate the relevance of compliance to an increased protein/carbohydrate ratio for long-term weight maintenance after weight loss. The trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01777893.

Source: High Compared with Moderate Protein Intake Reduces Adaptive Thermogenesis and Induces a Negative Energy Balance during Long-term Weight-Loss Maintenance in Participants with Prediabetes in the Postobese State: A PREVIEW Study | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I didn’t read the whole study. I leave that to you.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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How’s Your New Years’ Weight Loss Resolution Working Out? If Not So Great, Let Me Help

That excess weight can shorten your life

If you’re down at least 4–5 pounds (2.5 kg) since Jan. 1, that’s great. Keep it up. But most folks did well for a couple weeks and started gaining the weight back. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Weight management is not a walk in the park. You probably weren’t adequately prepared for the challenge.

Longterm success requires careful forethought. That’s why I’ve written this eight-part series.

Questions beg for answers.  For example . . .

Which of the myriad weight-loss programs will I follow?  Can I design my own program?  Should I use a diet book?  Sign up for Nutri-System, Weight Watchers, or Jenny Craig?  Should I stop wasting my time dieting and go directly to bariatric surgery?  Can I simply cut back on sodas and chips?  What should I eat?  What should I not eat?  Do I need to start exercising?  What kind?  How much?  Do I need to join a gym?  What methods are proven to increase my odds of success?  How much weight should I lose?  Should I use weight-loss pills or supplements?  Which ones?  What’s the easiest, most effective way to lose weight?  Is there a program that doesn’t require willpower?  Now, what were those “top 10 super-power foods” that melt away the fat?  Am I ready to get serious and stick with it this time?

This series will answer many of these questions and get you teed up for success.  Teed up like a golfer ready to hit his first shot on hole #1 of an 18-hole course.  Take 10 minutes to read the following articles.  The time invested will pay dividends for years.

C’mon now. Let’s be realistic.

Part 1:  Motivation

Immediate, short-term motivation to lose weight may stem from an upcoming high school reunion, swimsuit season, or a wedding. You want to look your best. Maybe you want to attract a mate or keep one interested. Perhaps a boyfriend, co-worker, or relative said something mean about your weight. These motivators may work, but only temporarily. Basing a lifestyle change on them is like building on shifting sands. You need a firmer foundation for a lasting structure. Without a lifestyle change, you are unlikely to vanquish a chronic overweight problem.  Proper long-term motivation may grow from:

  • the discovery that you feel great and have more energy when you are lighter and eating sensibly
  • the sense of accomplishment from steady progress
  • the acknowledgment that you have free will and are responsible for your weight and many aspects    of your health
  • the inspiration from seeing others take charge of their lives successfully
  • the admission that you have some guilt and shame about being fat, and that you like yourself more when you’re not fat  [I’m not laying shame or guilt on you; many of us do it to ourselves.]
  • the awareness of overweight-related adverse health effects and their improvement with even modest weight loss.

Appropriate motivation will support the commitment and willpower that will be needed soon.

PS: I’m thinking of how Dave Ramsay, when he’s counseling people who have gotten way overhead in debt, tells them they have to get mad at the debt.  Then they can attack it.  Maybe you have to get mad at your fat.  It’s your enemy, dragging you down, trying to kill you.  Now attack it!

Part 2:  The Energy Balance Equation

An old joke from my medical school days asks, “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”  Only one, but the light bulb must want to change.

How many weight-loss programs does it take before you lose that weight for good?  Only one, but…

Where does the fat go when you lose weight dieting?  Metabolic reactions convert it to energy, water, and carbon dioxide, which weigh less than fat.  Most of your energy supply is used to fuel basic life-maintaining physiologic processes at rest, referred to as resting or basal metabolism.  Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is expressed as calories per kilogram of body weight per hour.  Even at rest, a kilogram of muscle is much more metabolically active than a kilogram of fat tissue.  So muscular lean people sitting quietly in a room are burning more calories than are fat people of the same weight sitting in the same room.

The major determinants of BMR are age, sex, and the body’s relative proportions of muscle and fat.  Heredity plays a lesser role.

Energy not used for basal metabolism is either stored as fat or converted by the muscles to physical activity.  Most of us use about 70 percent of our energy supply for basal metabolism and 30 percent for physical activity.  Those who exercise regularly and vigorously may expend 40–60 percent of their calorie intake doing physical activity.  Excess energy not used in resting metabolism or physical activity is stored as fat.

If you want to lose excess weight and keep it off, you must learn the following equation:

The energy you eat,

          minus the energy you burn in metabolism and activity,

               determines your change in body fat.  [read more]

Cute mouse, but a slave to instincts.

Part 3:  Free Will

The only way to lose excess fat weight is to cut down on the calories you take in, increase your physical activity, or do both.

Oh, sure.  You could get a leg amputated, develop hyperthyroidism or out-of-control diabetes, or have liposuction or bariatric surgery.  But you get my drift.

Although the exercise portion of the energy balance equation is somewhat optional, you must reduce food intake to lose a significant amount of weight.  Once you reach your goal weight you will be able to return to nearly your current calorie consumption, and even higher consumption if you have increased your muscle mass and continue to be active.

Are you be able to reduce calorie intake and increase your physical activity temporarily? It comes down to whether we have free will.  Free will is the power, attributed especially to humans, of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as divine will.

Will is the mental faculty by which one chooses or decides upon a course of action; volition.

Willpower is the strength of will to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans.

If we don’t have free will, you’re wasting time trying to lose weight through dieting; nothing will get your weight problem under control.  Even liposuction and weight-reduction stomach surgery will fail in time if you are fated to be fat.  The existence of free will is . . . [read more]

Part 4:  Starting New Habits

You already have a number of good habits that support your health and make your life more enjoyable, productive, and efficient.  For example, you brush your teeth and bathe regularly, put away clean clothes in particular spots, pay bills on time, get up and go to work every day, wear your seat belt, put your keys or purse in one place when you get home, balance your checkbook periodically.

At one point, these habits took much more effort than they do now.  But you decided they were the right thing to do, made them a priority, practiced them at first, made a conscious effort to perform them on schedule, and repeated them over time.  All this required discipline.  That’s how good habits become part of your lifestyle, part of you.  Over time, your habits require much less effort and hardly any thought.  You just do it.

Your decision to lose fat permanently means that you must establish some new habits, such as regular exercise and reasonable food restriction.  You’ve already demonstrated that you have self-discipline.  The application of that discipline to new behaviors will support your commitment and willpower.

Exercise isn’t very important for weight loss, but critical for preventing weight regain.

Part 5:  Supportive Social System

Success at any major endeavor is easier when you have a supportive social system.  And make no mistake: losing a significant amount of weight and keeping it off long-term is a major endeavor.

As an example of a supportive social system, consider childhood education.  A network of actors play supportive roles.  Parents provide transportation, school supplies, a home study area, help with homework, etc.  Siblings leave the child alone so he can do his homework, and older ones set an example.  Neighbors may participate in carpooling.  Taxpayers provide money for public schools.  Teachers do their part.  The school board oversees the curriculum, supervises teachers, and does long-range planning.

Success is more likely when all the actors work together for their common goal: education of the child.  Similarly, your starring role in a weight-loss program may win an Academy Award if you have a strong cast of supporting actors.  Your mate, friends, co-workers, and relatives may be helpers or hindrances.  It will help if they . . . [read more]

Part 6:  Weight Goals

Despite all the chatter about how to lose weight, few talk about how much should be lost.

"This can't be right!"

Down 4 pounds in 6 months. I’ll take it!

If you are overweight, deciding how much weight you should lose is not as simple as it seems at first blush.  I rarely have to tell a patient she’s overweight. She knows it and has an intuitive sense of whether it’s mild, moderate, or severe in degree.  She’s much less clear about how much weight she should lose.  If it’s any consolation, clinicians in the field aren’t always sure either.

Five weight standards have been in common usage over the last quarter-century . . . [read more]

Part 7:  Creative Visualization

How will your life be different after you make a commitment and have the willpower to lose weight permanently?

Odds are, you will be more physically active than you are now.  Exercise will be a habit, four to seven days per week.  Not necessarily vigorous exercise, perhaps just walking for 30 or 45 minutes.  It won’t be a chore.  It will be pleasant, if not fun.  The exercise will make you more energetic, help you sleep better, and improve your self-esteem.

After you achieve your goal weight, you’ll be able to cut back on exercise to three or four days per week, if you want.  If you enjoy eating as much as I do, you may want to keep very active physically so that you can eat more.  I must tell you that I rarely see anyone lose a major amount of weight and keep it off without . . . [read more]

Part 8:  Choosing A Program

I listed most of your weight-loss program options in the introductory comments to this series.  Now it’s time to make a choice.  And it’s not easy sorting through all the options.

Straight away, I must tell you that women over 300 pounds (136 kg) and men over 350 pounds (159 kg) rarely have permanent success with self-help methods such as diet books, meal replacement programs, diet pills or supplements, and meal-delivery systems.  People at those high weights who have tried and failed multiple different weight-loss methods should seriously consider bariatric surgery.

I respect your intelligence and desire to do your “due diligence” and weigh all your options: diet books, diet pills and supplements, bariatric surgery, meal replacement products (e.g., SlimFast), portion-control meal providers (e.g., NutriSystem), Weight Watchers, fad diets, no-diet diets, “just cutting back,” etc.  You have to make the choice; I can’t make it for you.  Here are some well-respected sources of advice to review before you choose . . . [read more]

Last modification date:  November 1, 2017

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What’s a Reasonable Rate of Weight Loss?

paleobetic diet, low-carb, diabetic diet, paleo diet

Java had to lose weight when he developed metabolic syndrome

P.D. Mangan posted a good article on the risks of rapid weight loss. I agree with him that a max of 1–2 pounds a week is a reasonable weight-loss goal, and that a bit more than that is OK in the first week but highly inadvisable for the long run. Most folks do well if they settle into one pound a week.

From P.D.:

Slower Metabolism

A slower metabolism is another side effect of losing weight too quickly; since your body’s metabolism is essentially determining how much fuel you are needing to burn every day based on your activities and food intake, dropping calories out of your diet can considerably lower your metabolism. While this might not seem like a big deal, it is! A lower metabolism essentially causes your body to burn fewer calories each day than it typically would, and some research even shows up to a 23% decrease in calories that are burned each day. This doesn’t always go away when you stop losing weight quickly, either, your metabolism might take a while to get back on track and burning appropriately, which could affect your health and weight for a long time.

Muscle Loss

Lastly, your body could end up losing muscle as part of your quick weight loss routine. Granted, eliminating calories from your diet will have you lose weight, yes, but aside from a lot of that weight being water, some of it can also be muscle. A recent study done with people on a 500 calorie diet versus a 1250 calorie diet showed significant results; by the end of the trial, the participants on the 500 calorie diet lost six times more muscle than those on the 1250 calorie diet – an astounding loss in muscle in just a five-week span of time.

Source: Risks of Losing Weight Too Quickly – Rogue Health and Fitness

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Cutting Back on Ultra-Processed Foods Should Help With Weight Loss

“How about some ultra-processed bread?”

Over the short term, those eating ultra-processed foods at 500 calories a day more than those eating unprocessed foods.

From Kevin D. Hall and associates at Cell Metabolism:

We investigated whether ultra-processed foods affect energy intake in 20 weight-stable adults, aged (mean ± SE) 31.2 ± 1.6 years and BMI = 27 ± 1.5 kg/m2. Subjects were admitted to the NIH Clinical Center and randomized to receive either ultra-processed or unprocessed diets for 2 weeks immediately followed by the alternate diet for 2 weeks. Meals were designed to be matched for presented calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber. Subjects were instructed to consume as much or as little as desired. Energy intake was greater during the ultra-processed diet (508 ± 106 kcal/day; p = 0.0001), with increased consumption of carbohydrate (280 ± 54 kcal/day; p < 0.0001) and fat (230 ± 53 kcal/day; p = 0.0004), but not protein (−2 ± 12 kcal/day; p = 0.85). Weight changes were highly correlated with energy intake (r = 0.8, p < 0.0001), with participants gaining 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.009) during the ultra-processed diet and losing 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.007) during the unprocessed diet. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.

Source: Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake: Cell Metabolism

Steve Parker, M.D.

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