Paleo Diet Side Effects

One of the more recent popular diets is the Paleo diet named for our Paleolithic caveman ancestors.  The goal is to eat like a caveman as opposed to a modern man.  The diet avoids carbohydrates, sugars, dairy, and processed foods which are abundant in our modern society.  It emphasizes eating organic meat, nuts, eggs, vegetables, and seafood which is what Paleolithic man ate.  I agree with the part of the diet which avoids sugars and processed foods as these items are not good for our health.

Avoiding carbohydrates altogether has a tendency to produce what is known as a low carbohydrate flu.  The symptoms consist of fatigue, shakiness, diarrhea, and difficulty sleeping and can last for 3-4 weeks.  These symptoms, incidentally, are also found in people afflicted with hypothyroidism.  One of the ways to minimize the carbohydrate flu symptoms is to slowly eliminate carbohydrates from the diet over the span of two weeks instead of eliminating the carbohydrates abruptly.  The thinking is that eliminating the carbohydrates should cause the body to burn fats as opposed to carbohydrates, thus resulting in weight loss.

One of the side effects of the diet is ketotic breath.  This is a result of the fat being consumed by the body.  Ketosis produces acetone in the breath which has a distinctive smell.  This may be bothersome to some people, and I have seen recommendations to chew on mint or cilantro to minimize the smell.  Obviously, this is something that will go away after the diet is discontinued.

People can expect to lose about six pounds in a two week period.

The paleo diet is high in protein, and can increase the bad LDL cholesterol and lower the good HDL cholesterol.  This alteration in cholesterol can increase the possibility of heart disease.  The increased protein can also be hard on the kidneys.  People should always consult their physician prior to starting a diet, but this is especially true for people with renal conditions who are considering this diet.

With the exception of the “bad breath” and the shift in cholesterol, the diet appears safe.  I would recommend not being on the diet long term, but a period of two or three weeks should be acceptable.  I don’t know that putting up with the side effects of the diet, however, would be worth going on the diet in the first place.  Again, I am not a big fan of diets, but the paleo diet appears to be safer than most of the other diets out there.

One common complaint of people participating in this diet is the inability to exercise due to the extreme fatigue which is initially experienced.  I am a firm believer in the benefits of exercise, and not being able to exercise while on the diet is a negative in my opinion.

I would still recommend eating wisely, and exercising regularly to achieve your weight loss and maintenance goals.  I would recommend this exercise and eating wisely regimen to anyone before I would recommend a diet.  Again, if you feel you must diet, this diet does not appear harmful in the short run.

Wishing you continued success in your weight loss and maintenance, Pablo.


Tongue Patch Diet

Just when I think I’ve heard it all, along comes something new and bizarre.  This fad is called the tongue patch diet.  The only place you can get this procedure in the United States is in Beverly Hills, California.  Dr. Chugay, the innovator of this strange weight loss procedure, is the main surgeon.

A piece of marlex (prolene), a synthetic material used in hernia repair, is sutured to the tongue with six sutures.  The marlex is left in place for one month.  The rationale for the one month period is the tongue tissue will begin to grow into the marlex pores if the mesh is allowed to stay on the tongue any longer.

During this one month period, the patient survives by drinking 800 calories a day in the form of a liquid diet which supposedly has all the minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that you need to survive.  The patient will not eat solid food since eating solid food is too painful.  Therefore, the patch works by causing pain every time that the patient attempts to eat solid food.  Typical weight loss with this diet is 15 to 30 pounds in one month.  The patch can be as small as a postage stamp or large enough to cover most of the tongue.

Dr. Nikolas Chugay charges $2000 for this ten minute procedure.  Dr. Chugay defends performing this unusual procedure, which he first started doing in 2009, although other physicians are more critical of the technique.  Dr. Chugay argues that his procedure is considerably less invasive than any weight loss surgery including the lap band.  He has not had any known complications with this procedure.

There is always the possibility of an infection due to the foreign material, but there have not been any reported cases.

The big question is what happens with the weight after the mesh is removed.  As far as I know, Dr. Chugay has not provided any long term data as to the permanence of the weight loss with this procedure.  I can only guess that the patient starts eating poorly again, and regains his or her weight and then some.  I suppose the patient could have the procedure done again.

The procedure seems to be gaining popularity.  At least one clinic in Venezuela has started offering this controversial procedure.

Of course, I would not recommend having this procedure.  It makes more sense to eat wisely and exercise than it does to suture a piece of mesh to your tongue.  Local anesthetic is used for this procedure, and there is always a danger of an adverse reaction to any medication.  Therefore, you don’t want to expose yourself needlessly to medication.

Wishing you continued success with your weight loss and maintenance.


Green Tea for Weight Loss

Green tea has been around for a long time.  This type of tea has been credited with various physical benefits.  Among these benefits, green tea has been shown to help with weight loss.  If you are thinking of losing 20 pounds by next week, the green tea is not going to work.  If, however, you are interested in losing weight steadily and for the long term, then green tea may be for you.

Green tea helps burn calories and fat.  This is why some over the counter diet pills have some green tea in them.  When you eat fat and sugars, the level of triglycerides in your body increases.  Excess triglycerides turn into fat.  By stimulating a specific enzyme in your body, the green tea will help dissolve the extra triglycerides thus avoiding conversion to fat.

In addition, green tea has plenty of antioxidants.  These antioxidants help to increase your metabolism helping with weight loss.  A person’s metabolism will increase by 4% from the green tea on the average.  This means that you will burn about 100 calories per cup of green tea.  100 calories is not a huge number, but you can see how this number adds up over time.

There are other teas which also help with weight loss and maintenance like oolong tea, but this discussion is centered around green tea.

Other benefits that green tea promotes are an increase in heart health and liver health.  There is even some speculation that the green tea will help ward off cancer, and could even stimulate healthy cells to fight the malignant cells.  I should point out that the issue of helping with cancer is speculative, and more research needs to be conducted in this area.

Green tea also helps with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

The tea helps with glucose control, and may be of some benefit to people with Type I diabetes mellitus.  Another perceived medical benefit is improvement with arthritis.

The immune system also seems to improve with green tea.

Remember that some of the above benefits of drinking green tea are theoretical and not proven at this time such as helping to prevent or fight cancer.  What is known, however, is that green tea will help to increase your metabolism, burn fat, and suppress your appetite so that weight loss and maintenance are real benefits.

Drinking green tea should become a habit as the above benefits are maximized only if you drink the tea on a regular basis.  Avoid tea which has additives like sugar.  Don’t add any other substances to  your tea unless it’s something like lemon.

Substitute the tea for the soft drink or cocktail that you normally drink.  A tip that will  help you always have ready made tea to drink is preparing the tea ahead of time, and placing the brewed tea in the refrigerator so that it is ready to drink whenever you are ready.  Drink the tea three times a day.  Drink a cup in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one before bedtime.  You can substitute a decaffeinated tea for bedtime if caffeine keeps you awake.

As always, consult your physician before you embark on new regimen of exercise or diet.  Wishing you continued success in your weight loss and maintenance.

South Beach Diet Side Effects

The South Beach Diet was developed by a cardiologist and proposes low carbohydrate and low fat consumption.  Like all diets, weight loss will occur initially.  Most people lose 8-13 pounds in the first two weeks.  Unfortunately, the weight will return if the diet is halted.  As I have said, many times, the best diet is the diet that you will be able to maintain for the long run.  The South Beach diet has many rules and is quite restrictive in its food list making long term adherence to the diet unlikely.

The diet is divided into phases.  Phase I lasts for fourteen days.  You are asked to avoid certain foods like bread, fruit, flavored yogurts and pasta in this phase.  You are also asked to avoid processed foods which is something that I agree with completely.  Vegetable consumption consisting mostly of onions, and tomatoes is recommended.  For the record, I have consistently advised increasing vegetable consumption on many occasions in order to have a healthy diet.  This is by no means a complete list of the foods for Phase I.

There is also a Phase 2 and a Phase 3 which each have their own specific food requirements as well.  According to federal government dietary guidelines, this diet is deficient in potassium in all phases which is a concern for some experts.

Dr. Agatston, the originator of the South Beach Diet, admits that people starting his diet are prone to fatigue and muscle aches (possibly due to the low potassium) initially.  He recommends drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding high glycemic carbohydrates.  The glycemic index is a measure of how fast a carbohydrate food will convert to sugar and then fat.  The higher the glycemic index number, the better the chance that the carbohydrate will convert to fat.  As a helpful hint, you can find out the glycemic index of any food on the internet.  Some foods have the glycemic index listed on the container or wrapper.

Constipation is also an extremely common side effect.  For this, Dr. Agatston recommends using Metamucil.

Some patients will experience, what has been termed, the South Beach Diet flu.  According to the South Beach Diet gurus, this “flu” is due to the body withdrawing from sugar.  The symptoms for this flu include strange behavior (feeling grouchy), fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.  For most people on this diet, the flu symptoms resolve after a few days.  For a smaller number of people, the symptoms may last for weeks.  In some rare cases, the diet has to be discontinued because of the symptoms.

Exercise is not necessary if you are on this diet.  I don’t agree with this recommendation as exercise will improve your health and improve your feeling of well being.

There do not appear to be any serious side effects from this diet.  The issue of heart health has concerned some dietary experts due to the food recommendations of the diet along with the lack of exercise.  The real question for the prospective dieter will be whether the diet can be maintained long term.

Weight loss and maintenance ultimately revolves around a change in lifestyle.  Eating wisely and exercising are the real keys to long term results.

Atkins Diet Side Effects

The Atkins diet was developed by a cardiologist, and embraces the idea of following a low carbohydrate intake.  The theory is that lowering carbohydrate intake will lower insulin levels which will cause the body to burn stored fat which, in turn, will cause weight loss.  The Atkins diet sounds like a good diet, but as I have said previously, a good diet is the diet that you are able to sustain indefinitely.  Unfortunately, for many of us, we start a diet which we follow for a short time, but are unable to sustain for any length of time.  We lose weight initially, but we gain the weight back again after we stop the diet.

I consider the Atkins diet to be a fad diet which means that it is precisely the type of diet which you will not maintain indefinitely.  Therefore, it may be better not to start the diet at all.  I understand that millions of people have initially lost weight on the Atkins diet, but besides being a fad, the diet may not be good for you medically speaking either.

Besides this diet, there are several techniques that you can use to help you eat less, and lose weight without having to engage in low carbohydrate intake.  One idea is to eat plenty of vegetables.  This is very important, and I have mentioned this in previous posts.  The vegetables will help fill you up and decrease your desire to overeat.  Drinking plenty of water is also a mainstay of successful diet modification.  Skipping meals is discouraged as this will just make you hungrier when you finally decide to eat.  Minimizing the number of foods with a high glycemic index, which will cause an insulin spike, is also beneficial.  I have covered high glycemic foods elsewhere, but some examples of these foods are bananas, and watermelon.  You can research the glycemic index of any food on the internet for further clarification on any food that you are thinking of eating.

With the Atkins diet, you are encouraged to eat protein foods like eggs and meat.  These foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.  Therefore, your LDL cholesterol is raised theoretically increasing your chances of heart disease.  Interestingly, some studies show that people on a low carbohydrate/high protein diet actually have decreased cholesterol levels initially after following the Atkins diet.  I don’t, however, know of any long term studies that have addressed this issue.

Eating large amounts of protein can worsen kidney function.  If you already have compromised kidneys, I would advise you not to follow a low carbohydrate/high protein diet.

Eating a high protein diet can cause you to urinate increased amounts of calcium.  This extra calcium in your urine can lead to urinary tract stones plus the continued calcium loss can lead to osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).

Other potential side effects include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, bad breath and skin rashes.

Avoiding carbohydrates altogether may not be the best way to go.  You can eat carbohydrates and still lose weight.  Carbohydrates are divided into two types.  One type is the simple carbohydrates which are quickly metabolized into sugar after ingestion.  You want to eat less of the simple carbohydrates if you are interested in weight loss.  The other type is complex carbohydrates.  This is the type of carbohydrate which is better to eat.  There are exceptions to the rule.

Bread, for example, has complex carbohydrates, but some breads are better for you than others.  Bread made with whole grains like oats, whole wheat, rye and barley are preferable.  Try to avoid white bread.

Fruits have simple carbohydrates, but are still good for you.  Fruit has fiber in it so the sugar breakdown is slowed.  Fruits where you can eat the skin are especially high in fiber like apples.  Again, be wary of the high glycemic foods like watermelon and bananas.

Sweeteners are a source of simple carbohydrates.  Examples of these are brown sugar, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, and molasses.  I won’t even go into the white sugar because you already know that white sugar is bad.

Vegetables like sweet potatoes,squash, pumpkin, and peas are good sources of complex carbohydrates.

Popcorn (without butter or salt), quinoa, and brown rice round out the list of foods with healthy carbohydrates.

Remember that eating a low carbohydrate meal, whether it has simple or complex carbohydrates, can be bad for you if it comes in the form of packaged, already prepared food as these foods are full of preservatives, and processed ingredients.

You don’t have to avoid carbohydrates to lose weight.  Eat the right type of carbohydrates along with your protein, and you should lose weight.  Lifestyle modification, instead of stringent diets, is the ultimate answer.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is a repetitive exercise that accelerates the heart rate, and increases the oxygen being delivered to the muscles.  This type of exercise is good for your cardiovascular system which means that the exercise strengthens the heart and lungs.  Aerobic exercise definitely helps with weight loss, but it also helps in preventing/controlling type II diabetes mellitus, decreasing cholesterol, and decreasing blood pressure.  Interestingly, aerobic exercise also helps with depression.  It is important, however, to perform the aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes in order to help with depression.  Exercising less than 30 minutes will not help with depression.  There is even the possibility that aerobic exercise helps in the prevention and/or spread of certain types of cancer.  For instance, an ongoing study at UCSF (2017) is looking to see if walking helps to slow the progression of cancer of the prostate.

Other benefits of aerobic exercise include possible prevention of Alzheimer’s, slowing the aging process, boosting the immune system, and decreasing inflammation.

Examples of aerobic exercise include running, walking, swimming, hiking, and bicycle riding to name a few.

The other form of exercise is anaerobic exercise.  This is the type of exercise where the individual gets out of breath quickly, and has fewer movements than aerobic exercise.  An example of anaerobic exercise is weight training.  Weight training is also helpful, but weight training is discussed elsewhere.

One of the attractions of aerobic exercise is you don’t need special equipment to do these exercises.  Just put on a pair of sneakers and you’re ready to go.

Sometimes, daily activities or hobbies will suffice for exercise.  Dancing, for example, will burn about 160 calories in 30 minutes in an individual weighing 130 lbs.  An individual weighing 230 lbs will burn almost 300 calories in that same 30 minutes.  Mowing the lawn or using the stairs instead of the elevator will also qualify as aerobic exercise.  Playing a sport like basketball, golf (but don’t rent a golf cart) or water polo is also aerobic exercise.  Remember that the faster the pace of the exercise, the more calories that will be burned.

Exercising three times a week for 30 minutes at a time is quite reasonable.  Be consistent with the workouts, and you will see results over time.

There are gym programs you can join if you are the type of person who does better exercising with a group in a structured environment as opposed to exercising on your own.  The gym has classes ranging from yoga to intense calisthenics.  If you are on Medicare, you may be able to get into these classes free of charge under a program known as Silver Sneakers.

One important thing to recognize is that there is no one aerobic exercise that is better than another.  My suggestion would be to rotate exercises in order to stave off boredom.  Also, by rotating exercises, you will be using different muscle groups every time you rotate.

Remember to get a clearance from your doctor before you start an exercise program.  If you have not exercised in some time, you should start your exercise program gradually and build your endurance until you are able to exercise for 30 minutes at a time.  Be mindful of aches and pains as your body may be warning you that you are overexercising or performing an exercise move that your body does not like.  Wear the right attire, and drink plenty of water especially if you are exercising in hot weather.

Choose the proper environment.  For example, running on a soft surface like dirt is easier on your joints compared to running on a hard surface like asphalt.  If you are bicycling, be aware of the traffic around you and wear protective gear.

If you are exercising, please let me know how you are doing by leaving a comment on




Benefits of Weight Training

There are two types of resistance training.  One is called isometric resistance training.  This is where you contract your muscles against a non moving object.  An example of isometric exercise is pushups.  The floor is not moving, but you are.  The other form of resistance training is called isotonic.  This type of exercise deals with contracting the muscles through a full range of motion.  Weight training is an example of isotonic training.  I will discuss isotonic training in this blog.

The ideal weight training regimen recommends training three times a week for 30 minutes.  Sometimes, people feel that training more than three times a week will give them faster results.  This is not necessarily the case as the body needs time to recuperate from the muscle breakdown.

Weight training will obviously burn calories while you are exercising, but what some people don’t know is that a regular regimen of weight training will cause your metabolism to accelerate so that your body is burning calories even when you’re not exercising.  This is because weight training will increase your muscle mass.  As your muscle mass increases, the amount of calories expended by your body will increase as muscle burns more calories than fat.  And this expenditure of calories will occur even if you’re just watching television.

Losing weight will also reduce your chances of developing type II diabetes mellitus or what some people refer to as Adult Onset Diabetes.  I would recommend that you consult your physician about getting a Hemoglobin A1C which is a measure of your glucose metabolism over the previous few weeks.  You would be surprised to see how many people are in a prediabetic state, and are completely unaware.

Weight training helps with depression.  Part of the reason why depression is improved is the release of endorphins which are naturally occurring opioid type chemicals in our bodies.  Endorphins make us feel good naturally.

For those of us with osteoporosis (thinning bones) issues, weight training definitely helps increase bone density.  This should diminish the chances of bone fractures from trauma like a fall.

Weight training will also improve your body mechanics.  Your posture will improve and you will walk straighter and your legs will be stronger.

Therefore, I recommend weight training for all of the above reasons.  As always, please consult  your physician before starting an exercise regimen.  Wishing you the best in your weight loss and weight maintenance endeavors.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.  Pablo

Tapeworm Diet

I’m going to be up front with you.  I absolutely do not recommend the tapeworm diet.

You may have seen the tapeworm diet mentioned in a Tyra Banks show years ago where the diet was discussed as a means of losing weight.  To Tyra’s credit, she was actually speaking against using this diet.  More recently, Khloe Kardashian made a statement in one of her shows that she was considering ingesting a tapeworm to lose weight.  Not cool!

The beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata, is the tapeworm that has been publicized and used for weight loss.  There are other types of tapeworms present in pork and fish, but these are not the tapeworms that are used in the quest for weight loss.

A human will acquire the infection by ingesting tapeworms eggs present in contaminated, under cooked meat.  The eggs will enter the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and hatch producing larvae which eventually mature to the adult form.  The tapeworm will attach itself to the GI tract with a scolex which is a spiky appendage on top of the tapeworm’s head.  It then begins to feed from the food that you are eating.

The tapeworm not only consumes some of the caloric intake, but also leeches vitamins and minerals from the intestinal tract.  This can result in anemia and fatigue.

Other potential side effects include nausea, weakness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity).  There is also the possibility that the tapeworm will reproduce so prolifically that an intestinal blockage may result.  And, yes, one of the byproducts is weight loss.  But is the weight loss worth ingesting the tapeworm?  Absolutely not.

The only way to get rid of the parasite once you are infected is to take Praziquantel which is an antiparasitic medication.  You then pass the dead tapeworm(s) in the feces.

The diagnosis of tapeworm is done by examining the stool or by performing an imaging study such as a CAT scan or an MRI.

Selling tapeworm eggs is against the law in the United States.  Apparently, tapeworm eggs can be bought in other countries like Mexico and Russia.  Buyer beware!

The only way to lose weight in a consistent, healthy manner is to monitor your diet and exercise.  This is not a secret, but we often pursue the easy and fast results.  There are a lot of crazy diets out there, but this is more than just crazy.  This is dangerous.

Wishing you success in your weight loss and maintenance, Pablo.

Turmeric For Weight Loss

You probably have heard quite a bit about using turmeric as a weight loss supplement lately.  It is yet another quick fix to the overweight problem.  The current literature seems to support the claims of weight loss with turmeric.  Remember, however, that there aren’t fast solutions to weight management.  Like other supplements and diets, the turmeric may work for as long as you use it, but the weight will return after you stop the turmeric if you don’t change your lifestyle.

Turmeric is a naturally occurring spice that has been used for multiple medical conditions ranging from autoimmune disease to fatigue.  There is some evidence that turmeric may help osteoarthritis and increased cholesterol.

There are, however, potential side effects to this supplement.

Turmeric acts like an estrogen so there is the possibility of encouraging uterine fibroid growth if you have fibroids.  Also, be careful if you have a gynecologic malignancy like endometrial cancer as turmeric may worsen the condition.  It’s also a good idea to avoid turmeric if you have or have had breast cancer with positive estrogen receptors.

Ironically, turmeric is recommended for stomach disorders like indigestion, but the turmeric may evoke stomach upset and nausea along with dizziness.

People with gallbladder problems like stones should avoid the turmeric as the turmeric will worsen the gallbladder symptoms.

Users of turmeric should cease taking the supplement if they are facing surgery as the turmeric will slow blood clotting.

As with all supplements, you should tell your medical provider what you are taking.

I hope that this has helped answer questions that you have on this supplement.  Wishing you continued success with your weight loss and management.  Pablo

GMOs Contributing to Obesity?

There is a huge controversy surrounding GMO foods.  There is concern among GMO critics that these foods are making us obese as the main byproducts of GMOs are fats and sugars mainly high fructose corn syrup.  GMOs are present in many take out meals and processed foods.  The big three GMO foods are corn, soybeans, and canola.  There are other foods like wheat, papaya, sugar beets, and squash to name a few which have also been genetically modified.

Researchers in Norway ran an experiment where they fed GMO foods to one group of rats while the other group ate non-GMO foods.  The rats eating the GMOs were heavier at the end of the study than their counterparts.  The Norwegians also ran a study where they gave GMO fed fish to a group of rats to see what the effects would be.  Interestingly, the results were the same even though the heavier rats did not directly eat the GMO food.  One can make the case that humans are not rats, but the study raises the question of what GMO fed organisms are doing to us when we eat them.

The Academies of Sciences, however, rendered an opinion in 2016 in San Francisco that GMO foods did not contribute to obesity, illness or decreased immunity.

We do know that GMO foods have a higher concentration of pesticides compared to non-GMO foods.

For now, the controversy involving GMOs continues.  I would recommend buying organic until the issue is put to rest.

Wishing you continued success with your weight loss and maintenance, Pablo.