October 2015 | Dr. Stephen Gullo

Monthly Archives: October 2015

Does the Weight Watchers Diet Work?

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Does the Weight Watchers Diet Work?
The Weight Watchers diet is based on a points system. Food items are assigned a certain number of points, and dieters try to stay within their total allotted points for the day. In 2010, the points system was revamped. Now called the Points Plus program, the new system takes into account the importance of various nutrients. Previously, dieters used their allotted points however they wished. The Points Plus program still considers total calorie counts, but it also encourages the consumption of foods that are high in fiber and protein. These healthier foods have lower point values. Foods with higher point values are those that are calorie-dense and contain higher amounts of simple carbohydrates. Vegetables and fruits are “free foods,” meaning that they have no point value and can be consumed freely.

Despite the slightly gimmicky nature of the points system, the Weight Watchers diets is one of the healthiest around because it encourages an improvement of eating habits and allows dieters to learn how to make smart food choices. It also discourages food deprivation. Weight Watchers offers a network of support with face-to-face meetings or online meetings, along with hundreds of suggested recipes and other resources, like a mobile app to keep track of points. One dieter who blogged about her experience on Weight Watchers appreciated that the diet avoided food deprivation. She also noted that WW encourages food substitution as a means of cutting calories while curbing a craving.

7 Fall Soups To Help You Lose Weight

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7 Fall Soups To Help You Lose Weight
For quite a while now, diet gurus have been praising the benefits of soups for weight loss. People who drink a cup of a low-calorie, broth-based soup before dinner tend to consume far fewer calories. Plus, the bulk of soup is liquid, which fills up your stomach faster and tricks your brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have. But not all soups are created equally. The best soups for weight loss use low-sodium ingredients to prevent bloating, are broth-based (no fattening creamy ingredients), and have more vegetables than noodles or starch. Check out this list of great soups for weight loss, or revamp your own favorite soup recipes using my technique of food substitution.

1. Fall Harvest Soup
Just 103 calories per cup this low-fat soup uses fruit to add a unique, pleasing flavor.

2. Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
Just 204 calories per cup, but lower the calorie count even more by reducing the noodles by half and adding more carrots.

3. Butternut & Apple Soup
Butternut squash contains just 32 calories per half cup.

4. Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Just 95 calories per serving, along with 6 g of protein use low-sodium broth.

5. Tomato Vegetable Soup
Mix and match your favorite veggies with this soup, or follow the recipe exactly for just 80 calories per serving.

6. Chicken and Leek Soup
This recipe calls for mushrooms to boost your immunity for the winter months.

7. Acorn Squash Soup
Making soups for weight loss couldn’t get simpler just 3 main ingredients plus seasonings for a quick, low-calorie dinner.

7 Muffins Perfect for Fall — That Won’t Give You A Muffin Top

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7 Muffins Perfect for Fall — That Won’t Give You A Muffin Top
For some reason, Fall always makes me think of muffins. They’re quick, they’re easy, you can grab them on your way to the office, and they’re delicious. Grabbing a muffin for breakfast from your local bakery or Starbucks might seem relatively harmless. After all, it’s a muffin, not a chocolate bar – right? You might even feel particularly virtuous if you choose a healthy-sounding bran muffin. But spending a couple of bucks on a tasty breakfast treat might not be such a good deal. Many will add hundreds of calories to your waistline. Some commercially prepared jumbo muffins can pack over 500 calories, not to mention that they’re loaded with trans fats and sugars. But losing weight doesn’t have to mean giving up the foods that you love. Instead, bake a batch of healthier muffins on Sunday and freeze them for the following week. Here are a few tasty ideas that won’t give you muffin-top.

1. Blueberry-Maple Muffins
Made with whole wheat flour and flaxseeds.

2. Zucchini Muffins
A good way to add more veggies to your diet.

3. Savory Muffins
A low-cal choice for those who wish to avoid sweet muffins. Use soy bacon instead of Canadian and nonfat Cheddar cheese instead of regular.

4. Vegan Strawberry Muffins
Uses strawberries and rhubarb for flavor instead of tons of sugars and fats.

5. Carrot Muffins
Just 161 calories per serving uses lots of healthy food substitutions.

6. Greek Pizza Muffins
Just 39 calories in these mini muffins.

7. Cranberry Muffins
Just 125 calories per muffin; use stevia instead of sugar to lower the calorie count even further.

How To Avoid The Sugar Crash This Halloween

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How To Avoid The Sugar Crash This Halloween
Hyperactive kids + sugar overload = very tired parents. If you’re already dreading the inevitable sugary onslaught this year, check out our list of much healthier Halloween treats for kids. Halloween treats don’t need to include tons of sugar to be satisfying. Make healthy snacks for your Halloween party that fill up your kids’ tummies and they may not even notice the Snickers and M&M’s are missing. Remember, t’s not about food deprivation, it’s about food substitution. It’s also a good idea to plan plenty of Halloween party games to burn off some of the kids’ energy (and calories). Disguising fitness activities as games is a good way to trick your kids into becoming more physically active – just like disguising educational or speech therapy activities as games. Some fun fall activities for kids include a potato sack race, capture the ghost (instead of capture the flag), and dancing with Halloween-themed music.

Can You Smell Your Way To Weight Loss?

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Can You Smell Your Way To Weight Loss?
In his revolutionary book, “Thin Tastes Better,” Dr. Stephen Gullo identified aromas as one potential dieting pitfall. The Aroma Problem refers to compelling scents that trigger your appetite. When you walk into an Italian restaurant, for example, the garlic bread smells so delicious that you can’t help but eat a piece. Or two. Or three. Or the entire bread basket. An article published by The New York Times discusses the link between appetite and odor, as well as the possible use of aromatherapy for weight loss.

The New York Times article identifies the two main viewpoints regarding weight loss aromatherapy. The first is that by smelling delicious scents like vanilla or peppermint, the brain is tricked into thinking that it has already consumed the food, and hormones are released that suppress the appetite. The second viewpoint is that smelling delicious odors increases the appetite. Therefore, aromatherapy for weight loss should center on decreasing the appetite by blocking instead of enhancing the sense of smell.

While some studies have been conducted, scientific evidence to support either viewpoint is sorely lacking. So what does this mean for your diet? If your appetite is commonly triggered by smells (i.e. smelling peppermint makes you crave candy canes), you’re probably better off staying away from scent-enhancing products. Consider your own food history and food triggers when designing meal plans and evaluating the use of appetite suppressant products.

7 Ways to Add Quinoa to Your Diet

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7 Ways to Add Quinoa to Your Diet
Quinoa is a nutritious whole grain with a pleasantly nutty flavor and a pleasing, chewy texture. It contains all of the essential amino acids and unlike most grains, it’s chock-full of protein. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein and 5 g of fiber. Quinoa even contains over twice the amount of calcium found in whole wheat. If you’re trying to shift your diet toward whole foods and away from processed, prepackaged meals, consider giving quinoa a try. It accompanies most flavors well; you can make it spicy, fruity, or savory. Quinoa is a delicious addition to stews, casseroles, and even baked goods. Try some of the ideas listed below for healthy ways to add quinoa to your weight loss diet.

1. Salad
Add cooked, chilled quinoa to your favorite salad recipes for a boost of protein.

2. Noodles
Look for noodles made from quinoa from specialty health shops.

3. Baking Recipes
Use quinoa flour in your baking recipes instead of refined white flour.

4. Stuffed Squash
Try this healthy stuffed squash recipe with quinoa.

5. Cabbage Rolls
Eat these with quinoa and chicken instead of buying processed, frozen egg rolls.

6. Breading
Dip chicken in egg or nonfat milk, then coat with a raw quinoa/whole wheat flour mixture.

7. Breakfast Cereal
Try a quinoa porridge with fruit for breakfast to take a break from oatmeal now and then.

Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Weight Gain?

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Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Weight Gain?
It’s generally accepted that consuming a diet high in junk food and sugary foods like soda can lead to weight gain. But studies have also linked vitamin D deficiency to obesity. In fact, a few years ago, a researcher at the University of Minnesota tested the relationship between vitamin D and weight. She found that people with adequate levels of vitamin D lost weight more quickly than those with low levels, despite eating the same calories. Even a very small increase in vitamin D resulted in the loss of an additional half pound. Another study out of Laval University linked the consumption of vitamin D to lower incidences of excess belly fat.

More recently, a study released in June of 2012 followed 4,600 women aged 65 and older for five years. It found that those who consumed less vitamin D were more likely to gain weight. Another study released about the same time linked obese adolescents to alarmingly common incidences of low vitamin D levels. In fact, over half of these adolescents who were being evaluated for weight loss surgery also had vitamin D deficiency.

How to Winterize Your Diet

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Regardless of where you live, there should still be many healthful, delicious fruits and veggies available during the winter months. Eating locally grown food might be a bit trickier, but you might have more luck if your diet emphasizes fruits and veggies that come into season in the winter. Many veggies, like broccoli and cabbage, acquire a sweeter, less bitter taste when they are harvested in cooler temperatures. Some stores might market these gems as “frost-kissed.” In addition to your veggie-packed winter diet, remember to maintain your exercise routine during the winter months. Stuffy gyms are not an absolute necessity. Encourage your kids to go sledding or cross-country skiing with you, or try a rather odd winter sport like curling.

One cup of raw beets yields just 58 calories

Belgian Endive
An excellent source of vitamin C to fend off winter colds.

One of these has a mere 35 calories.

Eat the whole thing, including the peel.

Turns sweeter and less bitter in cooler weather.

A naturally sweet veggie with lots of vitamin C.

A leafstalk vegetable that may help improve cholesterol levels.

Can This Ancient Grain Help You Lose Weight?

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Teff is an ancient grain that has yet to gain widespread popularity in the U.S. It is believed that it was first cultivated in Ethiopia centuries ago. It is still widely grown in Ethiopia, prized for its ability to thrive in drought-stricken, water-deprived areas. Teff is a highly nutrient-dense food. The grains are quite small, and much of the grain is comprised of the bran and germ. Teff is a great source of calcium to promote strong bones and teeth; just a quarter cup contains 10% of the daily recommended value of calcium, along with an impressive 20% of the daily recommended value of iron.

Teff is a filling food, which is a good thing considering that one quarter cup of this grain, uncooked, yields 180 calories. Note that, like other grains, teff expands when cooked. The same serving size also yields 7 g of protein and 4 g of fiber. It is a very low-fat, low-sodium, cholesterol-free food. Those with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance should note that teff is gluten-free. Try making healthy teff pancakes or add it to stews instead of barley.

Does The Biggest Loser Diet Work?

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Image Source: Today / The Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser diet is based on the popular reality show of the same name. The diet is based on the principle of “4-3-2-1,” that is, four servings of fruits and veggies, three of lean protein, two of whole grains, and one small splurge. The Biggest Loser diet emphasizes quality, nutrient-dense foods on a low-cal, low-fat meal plan. The diet plan almost always meets general guidelines for specific nutrients – it’s within the acceptable ranges of proteins, carbs, and fats. However, the Biggest Loser diet meal plan is on the high end of the scale for sodium intake. Those who have high blood pressure, kidney problems, or other health conditions should consult a doctor before trying this meal plan.

The Biggest Loser diet offers 1,200-calorie per day meal plans with items like Southwestern bulgur salad for lunch and scrambled egg whites for breakfast. (1,500-calorie and 1,800-calorie plans are also available.) One reviewer notes that a diet meal delivery service based on the Biggest Loser diet is available for those who prefer not to cook. The diet also recommends strenuous cardio and other exercises to boost calorie-burning. In general, this is a well-balanced diet, but the 1,200-calorie meal plan might be a bit too low for those who exercise strenuously and for long periods of time. Before trying it, talk with your doctor about your specific calorie and nutrient needs, then adjust the diet plan as needed.