Eating gluten free will cost you

More and more consumers are convinced that avoiding gluten will improve their health. And if avoiding gluten meant cutting out breads, pasta, crackers, baked goods and other traditionally wheat-based foods, there might be health and nutritional benefits.

Replacing sandwiches with salads, pasta with zoodles, pizza crust with cauliflower crusts, baked goods with fruit–all solid upgrades in terms of nutrients (not to mention calories).

But as the selection of gluten-free breads, pastas, crackers, and baked goods grows, giving up gluten may not necessarily improve your nutrition. In fact, a recent survey found that gluten-free foods tend to be significantly LESS nutritious than the foods they are designed to replace.

According to researchers who evaluated over 1000 commercially available foods, GF breads tended to be higher in both fat and sugar.  GF items were also higher in salt, and lower in both fiber and protein than their wheat-based counterparts. They also cost, on average, two and half times as much.

There is a healthier (and cheaper) way to go gluten-free. Instead of loading up your cart with highly-processed gluten-free products made with various alternative starches, seek out whole foods and minimally processed foods that are naturally gluten-free.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, are a better way to fill the gaps where wheat used to be.

Next 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade starts April 9th

The next 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program kicks of in just a few days (April 9th, to be exact).

This fun and flexible group challenge is a great way to kick-start healthy routines and to stay motivated long enough for new behaviors to become established habits.

Over 1,000 people have now done this program with me and the results have been incredible!


  • Virtually all of the participants report that the program made a positive difference in their eating habits
  • Half of them reported losing weight (even though weight loss is not a goal of this program)
  • More than half also reported having more energy/better mood
  • Participants reported everything from enjoying their food more to improved digestion to feeling less hungry to finally bringing out of control snacking under control

But perhaps the best part is the the warm, supportive (and funny!)  community…men and women from all around the world, from college age to post-retirement, sharing their questions, challenges, and triumphs. Three years later, they’re still checking in with other, exchanging tips, recipes, and encouragement.  We’ve had meet-ups in half a dozen cities around the country.

It’s Your Turn!

The next 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade group challenge launches Monday, April 9th at 8 pm ET 
(Yes, the session will be recorded if you can’t join us then.) You’ll find complete details here or, if you’re ready to take the plunge, you can


Tip: Add my email address to your contacts or safe sender list to be sure the registration info doesn’t land in your Spam/Junk folder.

Not sure if this is for you?

My post on “Is the 30-Day Challenge Right For Me?” has answers to frequently asked questions. And feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to answer any other questions you have and help you decide whether this is a good fit for you.

Where does fat go when you lose it?

Pride goeth before a fail.

When I saw this headline earlier this morning, I clicked through (Mission accomplished, headline writers) and skimmed the article, which seemed to contradict the basic facts that we all learn in nutritional biochemistry. Having not yet had my coffee (yes, I’m making lame excuses), I impulsively posted it on Facebook with a “Shame on you, CNN” comment.

Fortunately, my followers are smarter than I am…and are not afraid to tell me so. So, let me try this again, appropriately humbled.

Let’s Play Biochemistry Gotcha!

Had I been one of those-who-should-know-better surveyed by the authors, I too would have fallen into the trap and said that fat is converted into energy (with water and CO2 as byproducts). But this is not quite accurate.

As my faithful follower (and sometimes fact-checker) YM pointed out, the amount of mass coming out of this biochemical reaction is the same as the amount of mass going in. Oxidation occurs (meaning, electrons are lost) but those electrons are transfered to other atoms (via redox reactions). So all the mass is preserved. No mass is converted into energy. And yet energy is released. How is this possible?

After pondering and pondering until my ponderer was sore, I realized the error in my (our) logic. At least, I hope I did. I’m sure YM will let me know if I got it wrong. But I think it’s this:

The energy released by this biochemical reaction is ATP, a form of chemical energy used to power cellular metabolism. The word “energy” is commonly used in science to describe the potential that a physical system has to change. But that’s not what quite physicists mean when they say e=mc2 or invoke the second law of thermodynamics.

How Your Body Uses (or Loses) Fat

When you lose (or oxidize, or burn) fat, it is not literally converted into energy. It’s converted through a series of biochemical reactions into other compounds, which eventually enter the citric acid cycle and yield ATP. Water and carbon dioxide are left over.

[Trigger warning: the following image may be troubling to survivors of organic chemistry]


The resulting APT is used to power cellular metabolism (and generate heat).  You can see how people end up short-handing this into “Fat is converted into energy.” Now that I’m woke, I sure hope this question comes up if I’m ever on Jeopardy.

Having set the record straight, the authors of this article leave us with the following helpful pointer:  “Therefore, to lose 100 ounces of fat, you have to exhale 280 [extra] ounces of carbon dioxide.”

Now we know.

Is Halo Top Ice Cream Healthy?

Piper writes:

“Ordinarily, I try to eat natural, whole foods. But I have a soft spot – literally and figuratively — for ice cream. There are some new brands of ice cream, such as Halo Top, that are supposedly higher in protein and lower in fat, sugar, and calories.  The main ingredients are milk protein concentrate, erythritol, corn fiber, and other things one would not find in premium ice cream. Being able to eat an entire pint of ice cream for just a few hundred calories is tempting. But are these products too processed to be good for us?”

Premium ice creams made from milk, cream, and sugar can claim to be less highly processed and perhaps more “natural.” They are also deliciously rich–meaning, high in sugar, fat, and calories. If you’re the type that can savor the recommended (but ridiculously small) half-cup serving size, you can enjoy a decadent treat without doing too much damage.

The problem is that most of us can easily plow through an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s (did I mention the part about delicious?), at which point we’ve consumed a half day’s worth of calories and four day’s worth of added sugar.

One of the big attractions of Halo Top ice cream is that you can eat the entire pint for about the same number of calories as a tiny scoop of Ben and Jerry’s.  You also get 20 grams of high-quality protein, 12 grams of fiber, and 24 grams (one day’s worth) of added sugars.  For many people, Halo Top wouldn’t just be a healthier dessert option; it would make a more nutritious breakfast!

What is in this stuff?

Although taste is highly subjective, I actually think they taste pretty darned good. Which is surprising when you look at the ingredient list, which contains things like erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, vegetable glycerin, organic guar gum and organic stevia leaf extract (in addition to things like milk, eggs, cream, and cane sugar).

This is not a minimally-processed food, by any stretch of the imagination. But perhaps this is processing put to a good cause. Continue reading “Is Halo Top Ice Cream Healthy?” >

Can collagen supplements make your skin younger?

There’s a lot of buzz about collagen peptide supplements these days. Collagen is a structural protein present in the skin, joints, hair and nails. The gradual loss of collagen as we age can make the skin look less plump. The idea is that collagen supplements can replace some of that lost collagen and improve the look of the skin.

Assessing the effectiveness of skin care products or supplements is notoriously difficult. For one thing, it’s difficult to isolate the effects of any particular cream or pill. The condition of our skin surface can be affected by diet, hydration, sun exposure, temperature and humidity. It’s also really hard to be objective about what we’re seeing in the mirror.  So how do we know whether these supplements are actually working? Continue reading “Can collagen supplements make your skin younger?” >

What’s the best diet for your genetics?

Personalized nutrition is getting a lot of attention these days. Companies will analyze your DNA and tell you what foods and supplements you should and shouldn’t eat based on your genetic profile. But a huge new study throws cold water on the idea of matching your diet to your genetics.  Participants with a “low-carb genotype” (who would hypothetically do better on a low-carb diet) were no more successful on a low-carb diet than on a low-fat diet. The same was true for those with a “low-fat genotype.”

The study also found that, overall, low-carb diets are no better or worse than low-fat diets at producing weight loss.  Those are the two headlines from this study. ( has produced an excellent detailed analysis of the study, if you want to take a deeper dive.)

But there is so much more here that warrants mentioning. Here’s what really got my attention:

None of the study participants were asked to count or limit their calories. Instead, both groups were told to limit their intake of added sugars, refined flour and junk food, and to eat lots of vegetables and whole foods. And that was enough to produce weight loss.  In other words, when you pay attention to the quality of your food choices, the calories often take care of themselves. And when you’re eating a healthy, whole foods diet, low carb is no more effective than low fat.

When you pay attention to the quality of your food choices, the calories often take care of themselves. Click To Tweet

The other thing that’s notable about this study is that the participants received intensive coaching throughout the year. They were taught how to choose foods that kept them satisfied for fewer calories.   They were encouraged to avoid distracted eating and eat more mindfully. Making sustainable changes was a bigger priority than achieving fast weight loss.  (All of this will sound very familiar to participants of  the Weigh*less program, our 12-month coaching program for sustainable weight loss.)

Making sustainable changes matters more than achieving fast weight loss. Click To Tweet

At the end of the study, the most successful participants reported having changed their relationship to food. And that’s ultimately what’s required for permanent weight loss. Not calorie or fat or carb counting.

To learn more about the Weigh*less Program,

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