That Crazy hCG Diet is Finally Proven Ineffective and Dangerous

Dinner on the hCG Diet, by Sifu Renka

The very low calorie diet recommended in conjunction with the pregnancy hormone hCG for supposed appetite suppression and weight loss is unproven and potentially dangerous as outlined by the Hormone Foundation–a public education affiliate of the Endocrine Society–in their new “Myth vs. Fact: The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) Diet” fact sheet.

Included in the risks of taking injected hCG are long-term breast cancer risk for premenopausal women, blood clots in both men and women, ovarian cysts in women, reduced sperm count and infertility in men, and breast enlargement and tenderness in both men and women. In addition, very low calorie diets put individuals at risk for nutrient deficiencies that can’t be met by multivitamins, and cause gallstones and irregular heartbeat. Read the article about the fact sheet here.

Looks like we’re back to chowing delicious veggies, downing health-promoting water, and dancing Latin-style. Hurray!

Protein, not Sugar, to Cure Afternoon Slump

Photo by: NutsInBulk

When you start dragging your heals around 3:00 in the afternoon and then literally drag your heals to the vending machine for a sugary energy boost, turns out the sweet Charleston Chew (do they make those anymore?) or the bag of jelly beans are some of the worst things you could get. The best? Planter’s Mixed Nuts, a protein-rich granola bar, or another similarly high-protein snack.

Researchers dedicated to understanding the afternoon slump and then beating it with food (slump quashers), just published their recent findings in the journal Neuron. Apparently the orexin cells in your brain–which stimulate wakefulness and tell your body to use up energy–are not only blocked by glucose (carbs/sugar), but the amino acids in protein actually block the blocking ability of the glucose. Block blockers! So, once your lunch has digested and a whole army of glucose is floating around your bloodstream, you’ll start to get sleeeeepy. But no you wont! Eat some protein sans sugar (unsweetened nuts, edamame beans, etc.) and quash that snoozy feeling. As an added bonus, grabbing protein rather than pretzels, fruit, or candy this time of day actually helps with weight control too. Read more about those details and your new friends the orexin cells here.

For avid Bitchin’ Dietitian followers, you may remember my VERY FIRST BLOG POST addressed this important topic, and it looks like I pretty much nailed it.

SALT: Helpful in Lowering Cholesterol & Triglycerides?

Photo by: Nana Odile

Don’t you just LOVE salt? Just a small amount accentuates flavors in foods and makes them SO MUCH MORE enjoyable. If you agree, you’ll be happy to hear that only 50% of people with high blood pressure are sensitive to salt and that reducing it’s consumption helps lower their blood pressure (not new info).

But today, it gets better! The American Journal of Hypertension published a monster meta-analysis (an analysis of many many studies on a certain topic) showing not only that reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure only negligibly (that’s fancy for ‘barely worth it’), but also lowering salt intake greatly INCREASES blood cholesterol levels (by 2.5%) and triglycerides (by 7%).

So, while OD’ing on processed garbage loaded with salt and deficient in true nutrition is still a not-so-good idea, there’s a chance that reintroducing the sea salt shaker to your greens and beans, and dipping your avocado rolls in soy sauce may actually help your blood lipids–even folks who have high blood pressure. Raise that shaker and lemme hear a “La Hiem!”