What’s the optimal timing for meals and exercise?

Every week, there seems to be a new study or analysis on these questions, such as the one I reviewed in last week’s Nutrition Diva podcast, and others that I’ve tackled in countless other posts and podcasts over the years.

Having spent so much time reviewing all this evidence, I thought I’d share with you my typical eating/exercise schedule. Continue reading “What’s the optimal timing for meals and exercise?” >

Should our toddlers really be eating this much fake sugar?

Would you let your two year old drink diet soda?

Would you let your 7-year-old drink diet soda?

How about your 2 year-old?

A disturbing new study finds that 27% of elementary-school kids and 20% of our preschoolers are consuming artificial sweeteners on a daily or near daily basis.  This represents a 300% increase since 1999.

20% of preschoolers consume artificial sweeteners on a daily basis. Click To Tweet

With all the scary news about sugar these days, many parents may imagine that they’re doing their kids a favor by offering them sugar-free pudding or low-calorie fruit “juice.”  And the fact that artificially sweetened foods are “sugar-free” might make them seem safe for every day consumption. I suspect they are anything but. Continue reading “Should our toddlers really be eating this much fake sugar?” >

NYT protein piece generates more heat than light

imagesThere’s been a lot of buzz this week about a column in the New York Times on the potential consequences of eating “too much” protein.

Well columnist Roni Rabin worries that the popularity of protein powders, drinks, and bars are “making it possible to effortlessly consume protein in amounts that far exceed dietary recommendations.”

She goes on to write that “the vast majority of Americans already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein.”

But are they really? The Institutes of Medicine–a relatively conservative bunch–recommends that we get between 10 and 35% of our calories from protein. For a 150 pound adult, that translates into a range of 55 to 180 grams of protein per day. Continue reading “NYT protein piece generates more heat than light” >

This year, give thanks by reducing food waste


Those of us in the U.S. are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow and I just read a disturbing statistic: Of the 700 million pounds of turkey that will be purchased for tomorrow’s holiday feasts, about 235 million pounds will end up in the trash.

Food waste is a problem year round, of course. But on a day when we gather to give thanks for abundance, let’s honor the harvest  by pledging to reduce the amount of food that goes into the trash this weekend.

The food advocacy group Foodtank has compiled an excellent list of tips for a food waste-free Thanksgiving. Tops on my list will be making sure that leftovers are put away promptly. Anything that won’t be eaten within a few days will go into the freezer for future use.

Using smaller plates and letting guests serve themselves not only reduces the amount of food that gets scraped off plates and into the trash but it may actually help you from over-eating. (Here are some other tips on how to avoid overeating on Thanksgiving.)

What are your plans for reducing food waste this holiday season?

Calcium Supplements: Safe or Not?


The National Osteoporosis Foundation published a new report this week, insisting that calcium supplements are safe for your heart. Two weeks ago, Johns Hopkins cardiologist Erin Michos published a paper saying the opposite.

She notes that the NOF review (which was funded by a pharmaceutical company that makes calcium supplements) omitted certain studies (such as the ones she included in her own review) that might have changed the conclusion.

These are just the latest two volleys in a five-year-long tennis match between experts on whether you should or shouldn’t take calcium supplements.  And you thought politics was divisive.  Continue reading “Calcium Supplements: Safe or Not?” >

Unintended consequences of the clean eating movement

Is this chemical in your food?
Is this chemical in your food?

Eating “clean” has been a buzzword for a couple of years now, even though the term is so vague that it’s hard to know whether you’re doing it or not.

There is no concrete definition for “clean” food but for most people it suggests eating foods that are closer to their natural state and less processed. Although it’s pretty easy to identify a green bean as “clean” and a jelly bean as not, foods like cheese or bread or orange juice occupy a gray area somewhere in between.

See also: Why processed foods can be good for you

“Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce” is another common refrain, and this has led food manufacturers to “clean up” their labels by removing preservatives and other additives. But our mistrust of multi-syllabic words is having an unintended consequenceContinue reading “Unintended consequences of the clean eating movement” >

Cutting calories can mess with your sleep

Woman SleepingAs if losing weight weren’t already challenging enough, you might also find that you’re not sleeping as well. And we all know (both from research data as well as personal experience) that being under-rested can increase your appetite and reduce your will-power.  Perfect, meet storm.

A pair of randomized controlled studies suggests a possible solution: Continue reading “Cutting calories can mess with your sleep” >

Are you dehydrated? A reliable self-test

Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisWhenever I offer my 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program, a few people are always surprised that drinking more water isn’t one of the 10 essential habits that we focus on. After all, it’s been drilled into our heads that we’re all chronically dehydrated and that we must (MUST!) drink AT LEAST 8 glasses of water a day.

There are smart phone apps that do nothing but keep track of your water intake and prompt you to drink more.

I’ve been working to debunk the “dehydration myth” for years now. It’s harmless enough, I guess. But I think it sometimes distracts us from things that actually matter a lot more. So I was delighted to see (and repost!) this CDC report, which confirms that Americans are, on average, taking in more than enough water.

Averages, Schmaverages

But, as Liz recently reminded me in an email, averages don’t always tell the entire story. (See Todd Rose’s new book The End of Average.) Despite the fact that Americans in aggregate are well-hydrated, maybe you’re still nervous that you’re teetering on the brink. You’re in luck.

Researchers have determined that if you’re reasonably healthy (and you own a bathroom scale), you can accurately determine your hydration status by answering 3 simple questions, first thing every morning:

  1. uacn_a_1067872_f0003_bHave I lost more than 1% of my body weight since yesterday morning?
  2. Is my urine dark?
  3. Am I thirsty?

The researchers stress that none of these things by itself is a reliable indicator of dehydration. However, if you answer yes to any TWO of these questions, you are likely to be dehydrated. If you answer yes to all three, you are very likely to be dehydrated.