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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, May 17, 2010

Diet-wars veteran offers 101 truths of weight-loss


By Jan Jarvis
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

"Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat" by Nancy Snyderman; Crown

"Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat" is dedicated to everyone who is still battling that last 5 to 50 pounds.

That's just about everybody, isn't it?

Nancy Snyderman's new book sorts through all the myths we've heard over the years and lists 101 truths that will set the record straight and help people shed those extra pounds permanently.

Snyderman, a doctor, calls herself a veteran of the diet wars, having binged, skipped meals and starved herself. She knows there's no quick fix. But her medical background combined with her personal battle and lots of research has uncovered plenty of little things that could add up to weight loss.

Knowing what really can help and what is a waste of time can go a long way toward getting your waist in summer shape pronto.

Here's the truth about dieting, according to Snyderman.

Truth: Drinking green tea will make you lose weight.

This does work, but you have to drink 4 to 6 cups of green tea per day to burn about 80 calories. That's not enough to burn even a pound to do that you'll have to burn 3,500 calories. But it can boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss.

Truth: Blotting a pizza will soak up all the fat.

Yes and no. No napkin can sop up all that fat floating on the top of your pepperoni pizza, but a quick swipe with a napkin can take 45 calories and 5 grams of fat off a medium slice. Even better, switching from a deep dish piece to a thin crust can slash 200 calories.

Truth: Popping a painkiller and lifting weights builds muscle in the quads.

In a three-month study of adults ages 60 to 78, those who lifted weights regularly and took a daily dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen got substantially greater results than those who took a placebo. The muscles of the medication users got 40 to 60 percent bigger and their strength also increased more than the nonusers. The explanation: These pills triggered changes within the muscle that enhanced the metabolic response to resistance exercise, allowing the body to add more new protein to muscle. If it works for the seniors, it could benefit other age groups as well.

Truth: Muscle does not turn to fat if you stop exercising.

Who hasn't worried that those firm, toned muscles you worked so hard to get at the gym will turn to fat over your two-week vacation? Truth is there's no danger of that. But it's not all good news. Those hard muscles could turn into soft, mushy muscles instead.

Truth: You can eat after 8 p.m. and not gain weight.

What matters is how much you eat during the day and how much physical exercise you do that determines whether you lose, gain or stay the same.

It doesn't matter if you ate that cupcake at noon or midnight. Extra calories will be stored as fat. Before indulging in a bedtime snack, think about how many calories you've consumed all day.

Truth: Fasting undermines weight loss.

Your digestive system does not need a break, as much as proponents of fasting would like to think. Your body is on the job 24 hours a day. A fast makes your body think it is starving so it conserves fat and calories. It also makes your metabolism slow and causes muscle tissue to be burned over fat.

Truth: The average American gains less than a pound during the holidays.

No, we don't pack on 5 to 10 pounds during the Christmas holidays. It's more like 0.8 pound. Still, the ounces accumulate so that by summer we can't fit into our jeans. Instead of waiting for the pounds to add up, act quickly with diet and exercise so a pound or two doesn't become 10.