Category Archives for "Obesity"

Obesity

3 Barriers That Stop You From Attaining the Dream Body You’ve Always Wanted

Your goal is to get in top shape. You are serious about your workouts. You eat clean, too. However, no matter what you do or try there are 10 or 20 pounds of fat that are just standing on the way between the body you have now and the body you’ve always wanted.

In this article, (and in the video below) I will share with you the top 3 barriers that stand on your way to getting the body they’ve always wanted.

The irony is that most people would think that their diets or their training plans aren’t working. The biggest barriers that keep people from succeeding actually have nothing to do with diet and working out. And, as long as they are not addressed, no matter what you do with your nutrition and training you will most likely not succeed.

Barrier No. 1: You are not seeing yourself the way you want to be

Here is a good test for you: When you look 6 months or a year out into the future how do you see yourself there? Do you see yourself having the body you’ve always wanted, or do you imagine yourself having the same body you have today?

People fail because they don’t see themselves having the body they’ve always wanted. What that means is that on a subconscious level they don’t believe that it is possible for them.

Until you change this image in your mind, until you begin to consistently see yourself in future situations with your new body your chances for attaining that body will remain slim at best.

Barrier No. 2: Disempowering beliefs

Beliefs shape our reality. If they are empowering our reality will reflect that. If they are disempowering our reality will reflect that as well.

All kinds of negative self-talk are examples of disempowering beliefs. Here are some examples of disempowering beliefs:

I am not capable of attaining the body I’m imagining

I don’t have what it takes to achieve that

I can’t resist food

I don’t have the willpower it takes

I don’t believe I can do it

I don’t look good either way

I’m not worthy of looking good

I’m not worthy of being liked

For as long as you maintain these (or similar) disempowering beliefs you will keep sabotaging your efforts. You have to put in a very serious effort into replacing these disempowering beliefs with new and empowering beliefs.

How do you replace disempowering beliefs with empowering beliefs?

Here is the formula:

Actions create results which create our beliefs!

To put it simply you have to set small attainable goals and then you have to begin taking decisive action on these goals. This way you will begin creating results in the right direction. And, these new empowering results will begin to replace your disempowering beliefs with empowering beliefs. It sounds simple but the more disempowering beliefs you’ve nourished and let flourish over the years the more effort it will take to get rid of them.

So, start to work on knocking down this barrier immediately!

Barrier No. 3: You don’t have a big enough “WHY”

Your WHY’s keep you motivated. The bigger the WHY’s the bigger your motivation. And, trust me, there will be times when no matter how mentally strong you are you will have to have a lot of motivation and willpower to continue pressing on.

Most people who fail to get the body of their dreams don’t have big enough WHY’s – they haven’t taken the time to create a strong list of reasons why whey want these results for themselves.

If you aren’t currently clear on your WHY’s take the time to ask yourself, “Why do I want to have a fit and awesome body?” Give as many answers as you possibly can think of. Is it for your loved one, for your family, to gain more confidence, to get a modeling gig, to have more energy and feel better about yourself? All of these could be legitimate reasons for you.

Until you take the time to figure out your powerful WHY’s you will almost always find it extremely difficult to continue when those unsurmountable walls rise in front of you, and they always will – at one time or another.

Conclusion

If you continue to blame your lack of success with getting the body of your dreams to your nutrition or training, while ignoring to address the three barriers I told you about, you will most likely continue to suffer disappointments.

If you, however, take the time to work on your mental image of yourself, on your beliefs and on your WHY’s there is no doubt in my mind that you will soon find out that all the other factors are also working for you and that your body is slowly evolving into the body you’ve always wanted for yourself.

Here are your action items for the day (don’t put this off!): After you finish reading this text take the time to list all your WHY’s on a sheet of paper.

Next, create a plan, consisting of small measurable goals, which when reached will give you the results that will help you replace your old disempowering beliefs with new and empowering beliefs.

And, finally, believe that it’s possible for you. Start picturing yourself with your new attractive and fit body.

Video: Why fat people are fat – THE TRUE REASON

There is a particular reason why fat people are fat! It isn’t slow metabolism. It isn’t the lack of exercise. And, it isn’t eating too many carbs or too much fat. Although, these are all good reasons they none of them is the chief reason.

I’m so excited to talk about this issue that honestly I don’t want to give out the true reason here – you will have to watch the video above.

In the video, besides naming and explaining the true reason why fat people are fat, I also talk about my experience with this problem.

At the end give two steps that any person with chronic weight gain / fat gain problems can take to turn things around. Hint: it starts with you and your mind! And, it has a lot to do with taking responsibility and quitting being (or playing) a victim of your circumstances.

Video: How to eat what you want and never gain any fat

It’s never a great idea to eat what you want but it is possible – without gaining any weight.. or fat, just to call it what it is.

During my competitive bodybuilding years, I used to eat six times a day and I used to carefully measure everything I ate. It was cumbersome and boring.

Then one day I decided that I wanted to be able to – at least sometimes – enjoy foods that others enjoyed, too.

So, I searched the web and found something that looked promising. I tried it and it worked. It’s called Intermittent Fasting (I’ve written about it before).

In this video, I share exactly how and when I fast.

Althugh, I still eat healthy whenever I want I allow myself some indulgences. Not only is it not affecting my body fat level but I actually stay lean while maintaining the muscle mass I had before I started. My strength has gone up. And, I feel great.

I want more people to know about Intermittent Fasting. It allows freedom. It is liberating… and it’s healthy.

Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? Let me know in the comments below.

7 Unorthodox No-diet Rules for Achieving Ideal Body Weight video course

Diets don’t work! Learn how to achieve your ideal body weight – and how to make it permanent – with no dieting at all!

7 Unorthodox No-diet Rules for Achieving Ideal Body Weight

Take the “7 Unorthodox No-diet Rules for Achieving Ideal Body Weight” now!

This course is for you if you fall into any of the categories:

  • This course is for you if you describe yourself as “overweight” or “obese”, and you’ve continuously suffered failures with weight loss diets!
  • This course is for you if you are of normal weight and want to know how to maintain it for life or simply want to know how to enjoy a healthy living by making the right nutrition-related choices then!

What this course IS NOT…

  • This course is not about dieting. The rules mentioned in this course ARE NOT A DIET!
  • This course does not give an “Eat all you want and lose weight” type of advice!
  • This course is not about a nutrition trend that is hot now but will be rejected or even forgotten in the future!

What this course IS…

  • An ORIGINAL AND UNCONVENTIONAL content that is entirely based on my own study of nutrition and movement for a period nearly quarter of a century as a competitive natural body builder, personal trainer and nutrition consultant, as well as an avid health and functional fitness enthusiast.
  • An unorthodox but simple and intuitive set of rules that will serve you for a lifetime.
  • This course lays down the simple truths about why we are so screwed up health-wise and how to undo the damage by simply doing what the human body is well adapted to reacting favorably to and avoid what it is ill adapted to reacting favorably to.

Take the “7 Unorthodox No-diet Rules for Achieving Ideal Body Weight” now!

Good sources of carbohydrates list

Here is my personal list of good sources of carbohydrates. Explanations are below:

[vector_icon icon=”thumbs-o-up” size=”13px”] Bananas (but not overly-ripe)

[vector_icon icon=”thumbs-o-up” size=”13px”] White rice (but not brown rice)

[vector_icon icon=”thumbs-o-up” size=”13px”] Potatoes and sweet potatoes, yams (no skin)

[vector_icon icon=”thumbs-o-up” size=”13px”] Taro

[vector_icon icon=”thumbs-o-up” size=”13px”] Berries

First, all good sources of carbohydrates could be metabolic disease-promoting and all ‘fattening’ carbohydrates may not be fattening – depending on the composition of the diet, on the lifestyle of a person, as well as on their unique genetic makeup (genetic predisposition to store energy as fat).

If the carbohydrate sources listed above are consumed as a part of a healthy, balanced and minimally-processed diet, and if the total (per meal and daily) calories consumed do not systemically exceed the calories needed to maintain certain weight (based on the lifestyle of a person – ex. heavy labor, sedentary, etc.) then these carbohydrate sources would be my top choices to safely incorporate into a diet. The reason is they provide easily accessible energy for the vital organs – brain, red blood cells. Keep in mind carbohydrates as a macro nutrient group are a non-essential.

(For more on what I personally think a healthy, balanced diet should be see my ‘The Homo Posterus Diet‘ article. To find out what your personal ideal body weight should be go here)

What are the main characteristics of a good carbohydrate source?

A safe/good carbohydrate source should be:

  • Low in or free of lectins (glycoproteins), phytates and other anti-nutrients
  • Easy to prepare with minimal processing time and procedures
  • As close as possible to its natural form
  • Non-man-made
  • Not derived from a grain or a seed
  • Not entirely or primarily consisting of (natural) sugars, like fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose and the like
  • Satisfying (so it doesn’t promote over-eating)

Below are explanations on why each of these carbohydrate sources is in my “recommended carbs” list.

Bananas?

Bananas

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Sure.

Bananas are about 25 percent carbohydrates and about 12 – 15 percent simple sugars, depending on how ripe they are. The greener the banana – the more resistant (indigestible, prebiotic) starch they contain, the more ripe – the more total carbohydrates and sugars they contain.

The protein and fat content in bananas are low. The sugars in bananas are fructose and glucose – about equal parts (just like in table sugar). The rest is starch.

Bananas contain the lectin BanLec (banana lectin), which has affinity to bind to certain sugars that are common to viruses, including the HIV virus. No negative effects on human health – at least none that I can find. Only the potential positive effect of BanLec’s ability to potentially protect from viral infections.

White rice is a grain, no?

White rice

Source: wikipedia.org

Yes, it is a grain.

Rice does not contain gluten. It is about 80 percent starch, low in fat and protein, low in fiber and sugar. It’s a good source of carbohydrates, if additional carbs are needed in the diet.

The way I see it white rice (but not brown rice) is one of the most benign grains, as far as lectins, phytates and other anti-nutrients and irritants go. The bulk of the anti-nutrients associated with rice are found in the hull, husk, and bran. That’s why consuming brown rice as a source of carbohydrates is not a good idea. White rice has those anti-nutrients removed.

Long-grain rice varieties are less insulinogenic (elicit lower insulin response) in comparison to short-grain varieties. This is due to the higher amylose to amylopectin ratio (the two main starch components).

In summary, if you are going to have grains white rice is your best bet.

Potatoes are nightshades. Alkaloids? Lectins?

Potatoes

Source: wikipedia.org

Regular and sweet potatoes are tubers that are high in easily accessible (when cooked) energy from carbohydrates. They contain about 16-20 percent carbohydrates in the form of starch and sugars, some protein and some fiber. Both types of potatoes are very satiating (they make you feel fuller sooner).

Yams are higher in starch and fiber, but lower in simple sugars.

The two alkaloids in potatoes (but not in sweet potatoes as they botanically belong to a different plant family) are solanine and chaconine. These alkaloids are a problem only if the potatoes look green and/or are sprouting. Non-sprouting normal-looking potatoes should be completely fine – with skin removed.

The lectin (anti-nutrient) in potatoes is called Solanum Tuberosum Agglutinin (STA). It is only about 50 percent active after cooking. STA may cause allergic reactions in 7 – 9 percent of the population – mostly in individuals who have other food-related allergies. But for the majority of the population they are a safe source of starch – when cooked and when not green and/or sprouting.

Why taro? What is taro any way?

Taro root

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

I personally have never tried taro root, but I’ve seen it recommended many times – enough to spark my interest to where I look into it more closely to determine if satisfies my requirements for a safe source of carbohydrate.

Taro (dasheen) is the root of a perennial plant (fun fact: when I was a kid back in Bulgaria we had this plant as a decorative plant at home). Taro root is high in starch – 27 percent, and relatively high in fiber – 4 percent. It is low in protein and sugar. Its carbohydrates digest slower than potatoes and thus its consumption causes a more gradual insulin release.

Taro must be thoroughly cooked as cooking removes the calcium oxalate it naturally contains (calcium oxalate promotes kidney stones formation) .

Berries? Don’t they contain sugars?

Berries

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Sure, they do. Fresh berries are about 85-90 percent water, relatively low in carbohydrates and total sugars, and relatively high in fiber (if for no other reason but for the satiety factor). Strawberries and blackberries are the lowest on carbs and highest in fiber, blueberries are higher in carbs and lower in fiber.

In general, berries (especially strawberries and blackberries) are quite low in total carbohydrates and sugar in comparison to other common fruit, like bananas, apples, etc. The carb and sugar load that you get from eating a typical serving of berries is several-fold lower than of a typical cup of other fruit. Their Glycemic Index is low and their Glycemic Load is very low.

Most importantly, they don’t fight you (except elderberries). In fact, not only don’t they fight you (they are low anti-nutrients) – but quite the opposite – they are designed to be eaten by animals (and humans). So, eat your berries. It’s not easy to over-eat on berries… if you eat them fresh, of course, and not in the form of strawberry jam or strawberry shortcake! You get the idea..

Why aren’t beans in the list?

Beans are roughly two thirds carbohydrates. It seams reasonable that they are at least considered as a good candidate to be included in my list.

There are two issues with beans – lectins and raffinose.

Lectins are the natural defense mechanism of legumes (also grains and seeds among other food sources). Beans developed these defense mechanisms in order to protect the species from extinguishing if eaten to extinction by animals (like humans for example). Same for grains and seeds, by the way.

Basically, lectins in beans are nothing to joke about. I don’t intend to cover lectins here, but the two main lectins in legumes are phytohemagglutinin and concanavalin A. Read up on them if you want to know why beans are not in my good/safe carbs list.

The beans that are highest in lectins are red kidney and white beans. If you plan on eating these beans never eat them raw/sprouted.

If you intent to eat any beans make sure they are soaked overnight – water changed often – and boiled for a long time… and be prepared to deal with the effects of raffinose..

Raffinose is a type of sugar in beans. Humans do not have the enzyme necessary to digest raffinose thus it passes through the upper portion of the digestive tract and ends up in the lower intestines where it is fermented by gas-producing bacteria. So, that’s that – you know the consequences.

What about wheat?

Like above, there are two issues with wheat – Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA – a wheat lectin) and gluten.

Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) is a lectin (a type of anti-nutrient). It causes, among other things, thinning of the intestinal mucosa and increased permeability (1, 2). Do some reading on it, but in short it’s not a fun thing to incorporate in your diet. Ironically, its concentrations are higher in whole-wheat breads and flour preparations – exactly the ones being recommended as ‘better-for-you’.

Gliadin – one of the two wheat proteins that make up gluten, the protein in wheat, is the cause of problems, related to celiac (aka coeliac) disease – an auto-immune disease found in roughly 1 percent of the population, and gluten intolerance  – in 1 out of seven individuals. Gluten is one of the largest protein molecules in existence.

The body often mistakes gluten for a foreign protein. It mounts an auto-immune attack in order to destroy it, and in the process it often wipes out a good portion of the intestinal lining (villi) around the gluten molecule. As a result the intestinal lining thins and affected individuals (which means pretty much everybody to a different degree) end up assimilating less nutrients, and in time also develop some form of a leaky gut syndrome with all the consequences it carries with it.

Simply put, regardless of whether you think you are sensitive to wheat (WGA and gluten) you are better off excluding wheat-based foods from your diet. There is plenty online on the topic of wheat and the consequences of consuming it.

A quick list of carbohydrates to stay away from

This is not an exhaustive list but at least it will give you a general idea of what you should avoid. The rest should be just good ol’ common sense.

Refrain from using: table sugar, HFCS, fruit juices, soft drinks, pastries (all ‘foods’ containing flour and sugar), dried fruit in large quantities, fresh fruit in large quantities (apple, pear, water melon, etc), canned sweetened fruit, anything with added sugar (condensed milk, puddings, other processed deserts, etc.), pretty much all grains and beans (because they fight you – lectins), generally anything that’s sugary or starchy and it is man-made.

. . .

I’m sure I’ve forgotten quite a few carb sources that should be in this ‘avoid’ list. I will be adding to the ‘bad’ list as I remember and to the ‘good’ list as I find out other suitable for inclusion in human diet carbohydrate sources. If you can think of any that I’ve omitted that need to be there, please let me know so I can research and add them.

Good calories bad calories – what scientists are saying

A few days ago under the title ‘Good calories bad calories – what we know’ I posted my notes on the main points of the ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ (GCBC) book as I saw them while I was reading it. Long before I actually read the whole book I had read a rebuttal by Stephan Guyenet, an obesity researcher. I didn’t want to re-read his scientific critique before actually finishing the entire book first (I didn’t want to be subjective while reading it). I also wanted to post my observations before I re-read Stephan’s blog post (actually two posts – here and here).

Today I re-read Stephan’s critique and wanted to write another post that I think represents the stance of the scientific community spoken by this obesity researcher (he has made a great summary of the science on obesity in the last 60 years and that’s why I feel that he is speaking on behalf of the entire community of obesity scientists).

This post, just like the last one will contain minimal comments from me. The reason for this is I don’t feel I am in a position to comment while making observations on the science. I am just a guy who has a passion for health sciences and logic and has experimented with his own body fat levels quite a bit – both as a competitive athlete and as just an individual who wants to know how the body responds to changes in lifestyle but who doesn’t have access to lab rats.

Here is what we know so far that comes directly from the obesity research community:

  • The first law of thermodynamics still applies (energy in vs. energy out). If more energy enters the body and less is expended – we become fat (but some individuals tend to store more fat, some less – all other things being relatively equal). Both, GCBC and the research community agree on this.
  • Fat tissue itself, as an organ, does not regulate the fat levels in the body. Neither does the pancreas (the insulin-secreting organ). The brain regulates it.
  • Insulin is not the hormone that orchestrates the whole process of becoming fat (and obese). Leptin is – in concert with other hormones and systems.
  • High-carbohydrate meals may be more satisfying than high-fat meals (protein being the same). High-carbohydrate meals may even cause less subsequent food intake than high-fat meal. That despite the fact that after a high-carbohydrate, low-fat meal (protein is the same) the insulin response is greater after a high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate meal.
  • For many protein foods protein elicits greater insulin response than carbohydrates. Yet a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet has a greater fat loss potential compared to other macro nutrient ratios diets. This suggests that insulin may even aid fat loss.
  • The fat tissue in obese individuals is insulin resistant. Since insulin suppresses the release of fats from the fat cells and obese individuals have fat that’s insulin resistant they release as much or even more fat from their fat cells into the blood stream (to be used as fuel by other tissues in the body). If these individuals stay obese it is because the energy coming in continues to exceed the energy released from the fat cells and used as fuel — and not because chronically elevated insulin levels ‘lock’ the fat into the fat cells and do not allow its use as fuel.
  • Hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin levels) is not a cause of obesity – it’s an effect of obesity.
  • Obese people have higher metabolic rate (burn more calories during the day) but they also consume more calories, which compensates and overcompensates for the increased levels of calories burned.
  • Both glucose and fructose cause fat gain – glucose to a slightly higher degree (not fructose as commonly thought). Fructose causes fat gain primarily in the belly region and less in other places in the body.
  • High food palatability/food reward hypothesis has gained traction as a possible explanation of why we eat calories in surplus (and thus become overweight and obese).
  • Human genetics tells us that obesity is dominated by malfunctioning of genes that regulate leptin signaling in the brain. Insulin signaling does not appear to be a cause of obesity, genetics tells us.
  • Common obesity isn’t a function of insulin only. It is a function of a complex of hormonal and anatomic systems. These include: amylin, glucagon, GLP-1, ghrelin, leptin, melanocortins, neuropeptide Y, dopamine, stomach distension, and more. The regulation of fat levels happens in the brain and it is controlled by the interaction of these (and possibly other) systems.
  • The total carbohydrate intake in 1909 was just as high as in 2000 but the obesity didn’t exist in ratios it does today (1 out of 3 in the US). This suggests that carbohydrate intake cannot be singularly blamed for the obesity epidemic.
  • Obesity researchers know that positive energy balance (more energy in, less energy out) causes obesity. However, they don’t know exactly what is causing the energy imbalance.

My comments on these notes:

  • On the second to the last bullet point above – carbohydrate levels the same in 1909 as in 2000 – I know for a fact that the simple carbohydrates (sugar, HFCS, etc.) have about doubled during this period, so simple sugars probably play a role in the obesity epidemic. How exactly? We only know that it isn’t by messing up insulin. It’s more complex than this.
  • In my previous post, containing my notes from the GCBC book I mentioned exercise and its limited role in combating obesity. The obesity research community does not mention anything about how calorie burning activities influence fat gain/fat loss. This is understandable – the research is focused on how food affects the brain and its signaling pathways. We only know that the ‘eat less, move more’ type of advice isn’t very practical due to the fact that we don’t exactly know what is causing the positive energy balance (for example you may eat less – but mainly from the wrong foods, and exercise more and still not lose fat).

Finally, there is still no clear answer as to why we become obese. To borrow the words of one commenter on Stephan’s blog: ‘we know that pizza makes us fat… we don’t know why’.

In any case, Stephan Guyenet himself has a good working hypothesis as to what is causing the energy imbalance – and from there obesity. Here is a paragraph from his blog post ‘Roadmap to obesity‘:

[blockquote quote=”…in genetically susceptible people, excessive food reward/palatability/availability and inactivity cause overconsumption and an increase in the body fat setpoint, followed by the eventual accumulation of fat metabolites and inflammation in the hypothalamus, which exacerbate the problem and make it more difficult to treat. Other factors, such as micronutrients, gut flora, fiber, fat quality, polyphenols, sleep and stress, may also play a role.” source_link=”httpss://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/roadmap-to-obesity.html”]

Pumpkin Custard Recipe – Low-carb, Egg Free

Summary:: This is a re-engineered version of a more common Pumpkin Custard Recipe. How is it re-engineered? For starters, there is no sugar added and the custard is made without the use of eggs. Truvia (erythritol + Reb-A) takes the place of sugar and gelatin replaces the eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. can pureed pumpkin
  • 14 oz.(1 1/2 cups) coconut milk
  • 1/3 c (70 g) Truvia
  • 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ground cloves)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T (1 packet) gelatin powder (1 T agar for a vegan recipe.. See notes)
  • 1/4 c hot warm water (to bloom the gelatin, but not used with agar)
  • 1-2 squares 80+ percent extra dark chocolate

Pumpkin custard recipe low-carb

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients (but the gelatin and water) in a small sauce pot. Keep wisking while heating. Right when it’s about to come to a simmer, remove it from the heat.
  2. While the pumpkin mixture is heating up in a cup or small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the warm water and stir to dissolve completely. Whisk the semi-solid gelatin mass into the pumpkin mixture.
  3. Pour in small bowls or water glasses. Refrigerate.
  4. Grate extra dark chocolate on top just before serving.

Pumpkin custard - low-carb, ready to eat

Notes:

In place of Truvia you may use any of the following:

  • 1/3 cup of erythritol + 15 drops of liquid stevia extract
  • 1/3 cup xylitol
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (with this choice the recipe won’t be low-carb and no-added-sugar)

Variations:

  • Make it VEGAN: Replace the gelatin with agar. Instead of blooming the agar like you’d do with the gelatin, mix the agar in with the pumpkin mixture and bring to a gentle boil. After that go on with the recipe just like you would if it were the gelatin recipe.
  • Make it High-Protein: Add 60 g of vanilla-flavored whey protein 80+ percent (preferably unsweetened but sweetened will do just fine).

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet tags: Low calorie, Reduced fat, Reduced carbohydrate, Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 4

Recipe by by Ivan Nikolov.

New Federal Rules On Snacks Sold in US Schools

Excerpts from this article in PreparedFoods.com with my comments and thoughts:

Snacks sold in U.S. schools from next year (July 2014) must be lower in fat, salt and sugar, according to federal rules aimed at giving students more nutritious options and fighting childhood obesity.

This has been taking too long. Measures like this should have been implemented at least 15 years ago, along with restoring and making mandatory again the physical activity in elementary and high school. As far as the second item, I’m glad that it was a mandatory part of my education in Bulgaria when I was a student.

Many U.S. children eat more than half of their daily calories at school. The regulations will cover some 50 million children attending more than 100,000 schools that are part of the federal school lunch program.

That’s good. 50 million is a good number — it represents roughly one sixth of the entire US population and possibly all kids… or at least the ones that go to school.

 The standards only apply to foods and beverages sold on school campuses during the day, and limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item – less than, for example, many regular-sized candy bars.

No big deal with the 200 calorie restriction — most regular-size snacks  that fit into a vending machine fall within a 200-300 calorie range. For example a regular Snickers bar has 250 calories (from their website). What’s even more, a kid can choose to buy two instead of one item.

Granted, 50 calories each school day over a whole school year can add up to some serious numbers – something like 8,500 calories deficit in total, which translates to almost 2.5 pounds of fat NOT gained! So, this can go either way – it may help, it may not help. It will be interesting to see.

All foods sold must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10% of the daily value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber.

I suspect that this complex requirement will be very difficult to enforce. For one, it’s too vague — it leaves room for different interpretations and from there — loop holes.

Another thing that worries me it doesn’t do much as far as making foods healthy. The problem is it’s already too complex to try to make it even more complex. It might be a good start… but on paper only.

Twelve-ounce drinks cannot exceed 60 calories, less than the calorie count of most sodas.

Simple math tells the story — 5 calories max per ounce or around 1 gram of sugar per ounce. So, a 12-oz (one can) of soda can not have more than 12-14 grams of sugar. My suspicion is this is still a lot for refined sugar added on top of a solid meal. But, it’s a step in the right direction.

A problem might arise from the fact that kids in this country are used to their drinks being sweet (I mean really sweet). So, since 12-14 grams of sugar won’t provide the desired sweetness, the rest will most likely come from artificial sweeteners. Add that to the refined sugar and the end effect isn’t going to be too healthy of a drink… again.

And the portion sizes vary between age groups. Younger students will be able to buy water, 100 percent juice, and low-fat and fat-free milk in 8oz. servings, while high school students can also purchase 20oz. calorie-free drinks.

Portion control is good, and 8 oz is about the max size that younger kids should have — of anything but water — but again who is to guarantee that kids won’t just buy two drinks?! Size limit, to be effective, should be accompanied by quantity limit – one per kid per meal.

20 oz for high school students is still a big portion for any person even if it is 100 percent juice (which is still a sugary drink — it’s what you are left with once you remove all the flesh and leave the sweat juice in the cup).

In general, these are all steps in the right direction. I am just worried that they will be difficult to enforce due to their vagueness, they are not enough to bring about a significant improvement in the health of young individuals. If proven to work at least some, then we will know in what direction to take more similar steps.

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