Archive for March, 2011

Kate Middleton’s Mum and the ‘Fat Attack’ French Women Swear By

March 31st, 2011

The following is a guest post by Dr. Michelle Berman of Celebrity Diagnosis:

We received two books in the mail yesterday: an advance review copy of Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It and The Dukan Diet: The French Medical Solution for Permanent Weight Loss by Dr. Pierre Dukan. Our regular readers may remember our previous story about Taubes and his compelling case against the “energy balance” paradigm, which may have inadvertently contributed to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The significance of The Dukan Diet is that it’s the plan Prince William’s future mother-in-law, Carole Middleton (pictured below), is using to slim down for the Royal wedding of William and Kate. It’s also been reported that Dukan’s diet was the “magic” behind the post-pregnancy slim-downs of both Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and American singer/actress Jennifer Lopez.

There is a very superficial similarity between these books: both advocate low carbohydrate diets as the best way to lose weight and permanently maintain the loss. But there the similarity ends and these books couldn’t be more different in background and substance. As described in our earlier story, Taubes’ work is based upon years of meticulous research and represents a synthesis of evidence drawn from the fields of biochemistry, metabolism, physiology, endocrinology, epidemiology, and clinical research.

In contrast, Dukan’s dietary beliefs and recommendations are based on i) anecdotal evidence and trial-and-error observations in his clinical practice and ii) “market validation” from sales figures of his book. In 2007 The Dukan Diet was second only to Harry Potter on Amazon France and also sold well in Bulgaria and Poland. (The book is currently only available for pre-order in the U.S. and isn’t due out until May 2011. Our copy came from Amazon UK). We could not find any publications by Dukan or about his diet among the ~20 million biomedical research articles indexed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The only research studies referred to in the book are “coprological studies” comparing the calorie contents of stools from individuals who have or have not eaten oat bran.

Here is an overview of The Dukan Diet adapted from the U.K. edition:

The Attack diet: Pure Proteins (no caloric restrictions) lasting about 5 days

The Cruise diet: 100 unlimited foods (72 from animals, 28 from plants), lasting three days for each pound you want to lose

The Consolidation diet: Average length of five days per pound lost

The Stabilization diet: One pure protein day every Thursday for life; No more lifts (elevators) or escalators, and 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day.

If you’d like more information on the four phases of Dukan’s diet, there’s a review and critique on WebMD.
If you think The Dukan Diet is irrelevant to your practice, check the copy of People Magazine that’s probably sitting in your waiting room. We strongly recommend that you put a couple of copies of Why We Get Fat in your waiting room as well. The diet that Taubes recommends (the What To Do About It part of his book) is from the Duke University Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.

Nutrition and Weight Loss

PhotoCalorie now completely free!

March 25th, 2011

PhotoCalorie is now free for a limited time! No iPhone needed.

Prerequisites in order to use PhotoCalorie:

1. Ownership of a smartphone or computer.
2. Engages in daily food consumption

Sign up for free at or download the free iPhone app and start tracking your food today!

iPhone app

Southern Food Adventures

March 23rd, 2011

I just finished a one week road trip to the south, visiting Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville (AKA Nash Vegas), New Orleans, Orange Beach, Alabama, and Como, Mississippi. Apart from the confederate flags, giant trucks, and southern hospitality, one of the most striking observations was the size of the people. As it turns out, my trip went through the heart of the most obese states in the country:

This scary chart (from calorielab) is only the obese people, with a BMI of 30 or greater. When you take into account those that are overweight as well, the statistics are quite overwhelming:

70% of Mississippi Residents are overweight! Taking a glimpse at the food I ate may offer some insights into this phenomenon.

Baby back ribs with barbecue sauce, french fries, sugary baked beans, and garlic bread. It was so delicious.

Fried chicken was EVERYWHERE.

This was in a Wal-Mart in North Carolina. Never seen so much sugar in my life.

Alligator stew – very tasty

With the beer, sweat tea, soda, breaded and fried everything, barbeque sauce and sugar coated baked beans it is no surprise that these southerners may have some trouble with their weight. Food that is great for a week vacation, yet terrible when eaten for an entire lifetime.

Nutrition and Weight Loss, Restaurants

New York City Schools have revamped their food

March 9th, 2011

New York City is making incredible strides in the improvement of kids food choices and health. The progress they’ve made is a far cry from what comes to mind when you think of “school lunch.”

Supplying food to the New York City schools is no easy task. Imagine serving 1600 schools with 860,000 meals every single day!

That includes seven MILLION gallons of (low fat) milk per year.

Yet they do it brilliantly, and for about $1 per meal!

The change began when the Department of Education started planning food based lunches, as opposed to nutrient based menus. These plans are the brain child of Jorge Collazo, the executive chef hired to revamp NYC school food. They moved away from frying foods, and started baking chicken fingers. Salad bars and fruits appear in abundance. Mr. Collazo describes how the system worked before he arrived:

Its a food based menu as opposed to a nutrient based menu. Many districts do analyses on their menus with software, you know milligrams of vitamins or nutrients. Like the Sauce that’s underneath pizza would be counted as 1/8 of a vegetable. We don’t do that.

Michelle Obama would be proud. Since the NYC school system is so large, it puts tremendous pressure on food manufacturers to create healthier food, and it proves to the rest of the country that a change is possible, even on a budget of $1 per meal. Read more about this here.

Nutrition and Weight Loss, Policy