Monday, August 4, 2014

Previously posted on, Dr. Abby bashes "The Bead Diet"

Have you heard of “The Bead Diet?” According to their website,, people lose 15 pounds a month, with most people losing more.

This three part program includes applying pressure to tiny beads behind the ear (acupressure), performing “Chi Gong Breathing,” and a crazy food plan.

Acupressure is designed to trick the body into feeling full, by creating balance through the hypothalamus. This part of the brain governs fullness and the amount of food eaten.

“Chi Gong Breathing” is supposed to harness the life force, “chi,” to improve health and longevity, and increase feelings of peace and harmony. They also claim that it enhances energy levels, attention, concentration, and mental alertness.

Next comes the food. There is no specific information on the site, but I’ve been told that for two days you eat milk products, and for two days fruits and veggies. The site promotes lots of artificial sweetener.

The nutritional balance of the food, along with acupressure, supposedly tricks the body to ignore the reduction of calories. This prevents starvation mode. The body uses stored fat for energy, resulting in weight loss and amazing medical results. If you exercise and feel faint, they suggest a bit of honey in water, and a sugar-free electrolyte drink if necessary.

They encourage eating between noon and 6PM because the body needs nutrition during those hours. Eating outside those hours might cause the body “to cannibalize itself using not only fat, but muscle, organ mass and negatively affect your metabolism.” YOWZA!

Finally, after losing all the weight you want, they promise maintenance within 3-5 pounds of goal, apparently your new set point.

Does this sound too good to be true? Even if everything goes according to plan, the claim of maintaining that level of success sounds preposterous. It would be more believable if they provided some decent research confirming this. After all, they have been operating for 11+ years, yet there is not a single follow-up study on their website.

The only study cited followed 16 subjects on the plan for 13 weeks. They lost an average of 46 pounds. Since when is sixteen subjects considered strong science, especially without any follow-up???

We all know that most people can lose weight on any fad diet, but few people can keep it off without developing an eating disorder; ie. preoccupation with food and weight. I believe the two part system of dieting to lose weight, and then trying to maintain the loss, is what has failed. There needs to be one way of living, which strives towards health and fitness.
Dessert for Breakfast!

Here’s a headline to celebrate: “Dessert at Breakfast May Help Dieters!” I wanted to toast to it, with cookies instead of toast!

I hungrily continued reading about this extraordinary study. Researchers divided 144 obese subjects, into a low carb breakfast group (LC), and a high carb plus protein-and-dessert breakfast group (D). Dessert eaters could choose from cookies, chocolate, cake or ice cream. Daily calories remained the same for both groups, but the LC breakfast contained 300 calories, while the D group enjoyed 600 calories for breakfast. Everyone ate the same lunch, but dinner consisted of 600 calories for the LC’s and 300 calories for the D’s.

At the end of 16 weeks, both groups lost about 32 pounds. However, after another 16 weeks, the dessert group lost an additional 13 pounds, while the others regained all but 3.5 pounds! Isn’t this the best news ever?

Here’s the science: Those on the dessert regimen maintained lower levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for hunger. As a result, they reported being more satisfied, with significantly reduced hunger and cravings than the LC breakfast group. The LC breakfast group experienced increased cravings for sweets, fats, carbohydrates/starches and fast foods!

But here’s the piece de resistance...

Both groups had similar insulin and glucose levels before the study, and both groups improved at week 16. However, by the end of follow-up, the dessert group enjoyed even better levels, while levels became much worse for the LC breakfast group!

The same thing happened with cholesterol and triglycerides. Both groups were similar, but by the end, total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) were significantly lower for the dessert-eaters, than the low carb breakfast group! In fact, the good cholesterol (HDL) was significantly higher! Yahooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

It looks like dessert-eaters were so satisfied at breakfast that they were able to continue their diet into the end zone. The joy of eating dessert at breakfast, combined with reduced ghrelin, is a winning combination that can probably be sustained forever. Would you complain if I prescribed that for you? The low carbers could not continue adhering to their regimen, and regained most of their weight.

I have often suggested that my patients eat treats for breakfast, such as a whole grain waffle, with natural ice cream, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Those who comply, never binge on ice cream later. It seems better to have preferred foods when there is more control, such as in the morning, which seems to get it out of their system.

Having treats for breakfast also eliminates the “forbidden food” syndrome, by lowering its reward value. If you know you can have cake for breakfast, there is less desire for it at other times. We call it “prescribing the symptom.”

Bottom Line: Eating a high carbohydrate, high protein breakfast including dessert, can help people to maintain a healthy weight management plan.

JAMA Reseach Breakthrough: Fat Helps Diabetes!

As previously posted on!

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that normal weight diabetics were twice as likely to die than overweight or obese diabetics! These findings involved over 2,500 diabetic patients in long term studies.
View THE NEW YORK TIMES article here!

As surprising as this sounds, the same effect has been previously documented in people with heart failure, hypertension and kidney disease.

Why is this surprising? Because we are constantly bombarded with messages proclaiming that thin is healthy and fat is disgusting. These messages come from industries making billions by training us to believe this. Scientists simply can't compete with their huge advertising and marketing budgets. Research makes headlines for a day and gets buried, while scientists quietly go about their work.

The "obesity paradox" is a term suggesting that people with certain chronic diseases tend to have lower mortality rates if they carry excess pounds. How much more evidence do we need, before we call it a blessing?

Researchers at Dallas' Cooper Institute studied 22,000 men for 8 years. They found that men who were overweight but fit were two times less likely to have died than those who were lean but unfit.

The Harvard Nurses' Health Study found that physically active people had lower death rates, regardless of weight, than thin people who exercised less than an hour per week.

Even our own government studies (NHANES) confirm that overweight people tend to outlive thin people.

How about we toss out the scale, and strive to live a healthy lifestyle? Eat more natural foods, listen to hunger and satiation, move your body and cope effectively. That's about the best we can do.