Archived version! Visit the new (official) website -

YouTube Facebook Twitter

Nutrition - General

"If the total calories ingested as food exceed the daily energy expenditure, the excess calories are stored as fat...." Covert Baily

"Sudden death is more common in those who are naturally fat than in the lean." Hippocrates

History of Dieting

1864 First book on dieting: Letter On Corpulence recommended low carbohydrates and daily booze by William Banting, an English cabinetmaker.
1873 Term Anorexia coined
1890 Atwater discussed protein, carbohydrates and fat
1926 Term Bulemia coined
1935 Banana and milk diet, grapefruit diet
1960 Jack LaLanne had most popular daytime show
1963 Weight Watchers
1970 Amphetamines for dieting made up 80% of all prescriptions
1971 Atkins diet begins
1978 Scarsdale diet - 800 cal/day
1983 Jenny Craig
1993 Dean Ornish 1997 Fen-phen found to cause heart valve problems
1998 Atkins becomes popular again


The reason for this is that diets don't attack the fundamental problem of the fat person. You see, most people think that losing weight is the basic problem.... Diets help people lose weight but losing weight is not the basic problem. The problem is - gaining weight! Fat people gain weight easily and quickly, so they soon have more fat than they have just lost."

"We have developed such a mania for losing weight that we overlook what the lost weight may consist of. Suppose I were to call you on the telephone with the exciting news that the local supermarket was selling twelve pounds for only $1.29! Your reaction would be Twelve pounds of what? Well, that is my reaction when someone tells me of a terrific diet which guarantees that you can lose twelve pounds in no time at all - twelve pounds of what?" (38)


Most people are concerned with being overweight, but this term is obsolete. The proper term is overfat. Your body weight is made up of two major components: fat weight and lean body weight (muscle and bone). The relative amounts of each, expressed as a percentage of body fat, is what is important. People make the common error of regarding overweight and overfat as identical. Many sedentary people are excessively fat, but not overweight, while many athletes are overweight but not overfat. Take Arnold Schwarzeneggar - at 6'1", he was 235lbs. when he competed. Was he overfat? I don't think so! If you are 40 years old and weigh the same as you did in college but have not exercised since college, you may think all is well. Surprise - you may have become overfat without a change in your body weight.

Fat can be divided into two types - subcutaneous (under the skin, the stuff we wish to lose) and intramuscular (like the marbling you see in a piece of meat at the supermarket). What has happened to the aforementioned 40 year old is that he has gained fat between the muscles but not much under the skin. He has become fatter!!

Unfortunately, most people get caught in the dieting trap. Growing evidence indicates that calorie restrictive diets (less than 800-1000 calories per day) cause the body to become very efficient at preserving energy - it slows down. "There is a dramatic and sustained reduction in resting metabolic rate. This causes the dieting to become progressively less effictive." "When the rewards of one's efforts are no longer apparent the dieter usually quits and reverts to previous eating habits." When people regain weight after dieting (studies have shown that 50% will gain the lost weight back within two to three years), they tend gain fat and lose muscle. Thus, their new body mass will have a higher percentage of bodyfat.

If fat (weight) loss is your goal, reduce about 500 calories per day from your daily intake. Weight loss is a slow process; no more than 1-2 lbs should be lost per week. An approximate minimum daily intake of calories for males is 1500 calories and for females 1200 calories.


If you lose weight too quickly you will be losing not only fat, but muscle as well. This is why it is wise to get a body fat measurement when beginning a fitness/nutrition program to be used as a baseline. There are many methods of body fat measurement: hydrostatic (underwater) weighing, skinfold (caliper) measurements, bioelectrical impedance, and infrared. The most accurate method is hydrostatic weighting. The problem with this method is that few facilities have the necessary equipment. Skinfold (caliper) measurement is the most common method performed. This can be very accurate if done by an expert or grossly inaccurate if done by someone who is unskilled. If you have this done at a health club, ask to be tested by a qualified staff person. When you are retested make sure you have the same method performed by the same person under the same conditions. This will allow for a more accurate assessment of your improvement (I'm thinking POSITIVELY!).

On average, males should be no more than 18% body fat, females no more than 24% body fat. Athletic individuals will have lower percentages. An easy way to get an approximate body fat measurement is to try to float in a (non-salt water) pool. If, after exhaling, you sink, you are less than 20% body fat. If you float, you are a greater than 20% body fat.


Energy is the body's first nutritional priority. The energy content of food is measured by a unit called a kilocalorie, which most of us call a calorie. Energy in food is supplied by fat, protein, carbohydrates. Protein and carbohydrates give 4 calories of energy per gram. Fat gives 9 calories of energy per gram.

Due to this fact, it is not only the number of calories in your diet that is significant, but the composition of those calories as well. You need a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They can be taken from the 5 major food groups: (1)fruits, (2) vegetables, (3) grains and legumes, (4) dairy products, (5) meats. About 60% of the total calories you eat should be from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, 25-30% from fat. Even when you eat is important. Eat breakfast, a big lunch, and a light dinner. Consume most of your day's worth of calories before dinner.

Carbohydrates - These are the body's primary fuel source. There are two types-simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates get absorbed from the gut into the blood more slowly than simple carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates (man-made) should be removed from the diet. Carbohydrates should account for 20-50% of your diet.
Try the following suggestions:
Bread - Choose grainy varieties and sourdough
Potatoes - Switch to sweet potatoes
Cereals - Try brans or oatmeal
Rice - Switch to basmati, brown rice or couscous
Pasta - Try vegetable based or whole grain pasta. Better yet, switch to whole grains like buckwheat kernals, quinoa, kamut, millet, teff, amaranth.
Sugar - Use honey, applesauce, or dried fruit to sweeten dishes

"There is a growing body of research that shows eating certain types of carbohydrates - like those found in potatoes and highly processed foods like white bread - can make you hungrier. That's because the body processes them more quickly - causing a spike in blodd glucose, which in turn gives you a quick surge of energy. But then you crash and you're hungry again. And hunger is the primary reason diets fail." (Wall Street Journal 4/15/03 Personal Journal Page 1)

Protein - These are the building blocks of muscle, enzymes, and some hormones. They are formed by units called amino acids (AA). There are over 20 different AA's - all must be present simultaneously for optimal growth and body functioning. There are 9 essential AA's (valine, tryptophan, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, lysine, leucine, and isoleucine, histadine) - AA's that cannot be produced by the body so they have to be supplied by the diet. The remainder are nonessential AA's - AA's that can be produced by the body. Some foods are complete proteins (contain all the essentials AA's) and some are incomplete proteins (lack 1 or more of the essential AA's).

Branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine)- can help with tissue repair and muscle growth after exercise. They are oxidized during exercise.

Fish, chicken, beef, eggs and dairy products are complete proteins, whereas beans, lentils, vegetables are not. Vegetarians must combine foods properly to insure sufficient complete protein intake. The amino acids missing in one food must be found in another. Both of these foods must be eaten together in order for your body to receive a complete protein source. Good sources of protein are fish, poultry, lean red meat, and vegetables and legumes. They should account for about 15-30% of the total calories in your diet.

Fats - Almost all of what we read and hear about fats is negative and oversimplified. This has lead to many misconceptions about fat. Fat is an essential energy source for the human body. Fat is the major energy source for the heart. Without fat, the human body simply would not work. The main functions of fat are insulation, protection of organs, formation of essential fatty acids (fats that cannot be produced by the body so they have to be supplied by the diet), some hormone formation and energy storage. Fats are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. They furnish twice the number of calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates. Fats should make up between 25% and 40% of your total daily caloric intake.

There are desirable fats in fish oil, vegetable oil and olive oil. They may reduce the risk of heart disease. The desirable fats found in fish oils are present in deep, cold ocean water fish like salmon and mackerel, not tuna. The breaded, deep fat fried white fish from warm water found in popular fish sandwiches does not supply you with desirable fat!

There should be a balance of fats in one's diet, not a total omission. The key is to lower the total fat intake. Avoid excess fat in dairy products, mayonnaise, sour cream, dressings, sauces, baked and fried goods. A food may have zero cholesterol but be high in fat content (eg. peanut butter has zero cholesterol but it is 80% fat per serving). For those of you obsessive fat cutters, I'll leave you with a quote kept on the wall at a small town bakery: "More people die from worrying about calories [fat] than eating them."

Cholesterol - Cholesterol is needed to form male and female sex hormones, Vitamin D, and cell membranes (especially the heart). It is important for the brain and nervous system. Your body produces cholesterol in the liver. Outside sources of cholesterol come from animal fat only, not vegetable fat.

Much has been written about "good" and "bad" cholesterol or HDL's and LDL's. HDL's and LDL's are particles which carry cholesterol (amongst other things) in the blood. HDL (high density lipoprotein) removes cholesterol from the tissues of the body and brings it to the liver. It has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. LDL (low density lipoprotein) carries cholesterol to the body tissues and, in excess, has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

The significance of HDL's and LDL's is their relationship to total cholesterol - the amount of cholesterol in the blood (expressed in milligrams percent- milligrams of cholesterol in 100 milliliters of blood). Total cholesterol should be 200 mg/dl or less. It is the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL and ratio of LDL to HDL as well as the total blood cholesterol, that helps determine one's risk of heart disease (there are other factors as well). When you have your cholesterol level checked, have your doctor explain these values and ratios and how they help determine your heart disease risk.


A recent analysis of a range of staple foods in Canada including potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, apples, onion, broccoli etc, etc, was commissioned by The Globe and Mail and CTV news. The results were predictable to some and a shock to others. Let's use potatoes as an example. This is what the analysis found:

Over the last 50 years the potato has lost:
* 100% of its Vitamin A
* 57% of its Vitamin C and iron
* 28% of its Calcium
* 50% of its riboflavin
* 18% of its thiamine

Of the seven nutrients analyzed only niacin levels had increased. The results were similar for all the 25 fruits and vegetables tested. One of the worst results was from broccoli in which ALL nutrients had declined measurably including niacin with Calcium down 63%.

Consumer demand for cheaper and 'good looking' food has over recent decades changed traditional farming methods as well as distribution. A farmer used to rotate his crops to suit his land and maximized his yields through natural methods and then supplied his fresh produce to his local market for distribution.

Regrettably that is largely the way of the past. Now, the emphasis is on production, appearance, storability and transportability. Nutritional value of fruits and vegetables is of virtually no concern. As Dr Phil Warman, an agronomist and professor of agricultural sciences at Nova Scotia Agricultural College points out, "crops are bred to produce higher yields, to be resistant to disease and to produce more visually attractive fruits or vegetables, but little or no emphasis is placed on their vitamin and mineral content." Add to this the increasing foothold of GE engineered crops where nutritional value is way down on the priority list and this problem is going to become much, much more serious. What can be done about this problem?

* Try to eat organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible.

* Avoid processed foods! If you think the loss of nutrient value in fresh fruit and vegetables is bad enough, I can assure you that it is nothing compared to the nutritional emptiness of processed foods...and to add insult to injury they are full of transfats due to the hydrogenated processing methods that are used.

* Take a QUALITY multi-NUTRIENT supplement. A multi vitamin/mineral tablet is not adequate for a number of reasons. The prime one is that most 'multi vitamin' supplements use synthetic ingredients with both questionable efficacy and bio-availability and they lack other important nutrients. Unfortunately this is an area in which many consumers are being mislead.


Super Foods to the Rescue-- Steven Pratt, MD-- 02/03/04

Beans: A great low-fat, low-calorie source of protein and an easy way to help control your weight and your blood sugar.
Blueberries: The best food on the planet to preserve a young brain as we mature.
Broccoli: The best food on the planet to prevent cancer.
Oats: A sure-fire way to lower your cholesterol.
Oranges: The most readily available source of vitamin C, which in turn lowers the rate of most causes of death in this country, for example, heart disease and cancer.
Pumpkin: Loaded with phytonutrients, which keep our skin young and help prevent damage from sunlight.
Wild salmon: A guaranteed way to lower your risk for cardiac-related death.
Soy: The only complete vegetarian source of protein.
Spinach: The best food on the planet to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, thus ensuring a lifetime of good vision.
Tea -- green or black: The easiest and cheapest no-calorie way to avoid heart disease and cancer.
Tomatoes: One of the easiest ways for men to avoid prostate cancer is the consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products.
Skinless turkey breast: The leanest meat source of protein on the planet.
Walnuts: Consuming walnuts is an easy, tasty way to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Yogurt: A tasty, easy way to boost your immune system.