Tag Archives: weight loss

Fad Diets and Holiday Weight Loss

By: Janice Rutkowski, M.D.

The holiday season is approaching, filled with parties, family and, for many of us, a few extra pounds. If you stand on the bathroom scale January 1 and see a higher number, you may resolve to take off those pounds ─ fast.

If that’s the case, be careful how you do it. There are fad diets on the market that promise quick weight loss, but many of them take an unbalanced approach to diet and nutrition. Some tell you to avoid “bad” foods, such as carbohydrates or fats, while others restrict you to just a few foods.

Any diet that restricts certain foods or strictly limits calories can lead to initial weight loss. But fad diets rarely bring long-term results because people return to their poor eating habits when the diet ends.  Also, people who use these extreme diets may not be getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Let’s examine five fad diets to avoid in 2017. Then we’ll give you tips for the right way to control your weight during the holidays.

  1. The Five-Bite Diet

The Five-Bite Diet encourages you to count bites instead of calories. You skip breakfast and then eat five bites of whatever food you want at lunch and dinner. The problem with this approach: even if you choose high-calorie foods for your five bites, you may only take in about 800 calories a day, which is less than half of the recommended daily amount. This diet won’t provide you with the key vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs, and may cause deficiencies that lead to anemia, bone loss, decreased cognitive function, and low energy.

  1. The Raw Food Diet

The Raw Food Diet teaches that cooking food destroys nutrients and natural enzymes, so you should only eat raw fruits, vegetables and grains. Since raw foods are often low in calories and fat, you’ll probably lose weight and get some nutrients on this diet. The downside is you’ll also miss some important nutrients, including protein, iron, calcium and minerals.  Also, cooking food has some benefits, such as killing bacteria and making food easier to digest. Eating only raw foods can also lead to bloating, indigestion, constipation, malnutrition and a lowered immune system.

  1. The Baby Food Diet

The Baby Food Diet is an Internet phenomenon that cuts calories and controls portions by having you replace one or two meals a day with baby food, which ranges 25-75 calories per jar, and then eat a healthy dinner. This diet has several notable drawbacks. It is very low in fiber, which can lead to digestion problems. It is low in fat and protein, which will leave you hungry in an hour or two and increase your chances of binge eating. Also, since baby food is very bland and there’s little chewing, you will probably feel unsatisfied and crave something else.

  1. The Blood Type Diet

The Blood Type Diet is based on the assumption that the foods you eat react with your blood type, so your blood type dictates what you should eat. If your blood type is A, for example, you should have a mainly vegetarian diet; type O’s should consume meats and avoid grains; type B’s can eat a variety of foods; and if you’re type AB you can eat anything on the A and B lists. But research has not supported this diet’s claims, and following it can deprive you of vital nutrients. For example, people with type A blood may not get the proteins and carbohydrates they need for good health.

  1. The Master Cleanse

Master Cleanse claims to rid the body of harmful “toxins” and promote weight loss. It is a liquid diet that lasts three to 10 days and features a special lemonade drink made of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. This concoction is a diuretic that will cause you to shed water weight. The problems with the Master Cleanse are shared by all “cleansing” regimens. First, its claim that it rids the body of toxins is questionable since your liver and kidneys do that on a continual basis. Second, once you stop the diet, the water weight will return. Third, the diet only gives you 600-1,200 calories a day, well below the recommended daily amount. And finally, because of the lack of nutrients and calories, you may experience fatigue, nausea, dizziness and dehydration.

Now that we’ve looked at wrong ways to deal with weight gain, here are 10 good tips to help you enjoy the holidays while keeping your weight under control:

  1. Be realistic. Instead of trying to lose pounds during the holidays, try to maintain your current weight.
  2. Plan time for exercise. A moderate increase in exercise can help offset holiday eating. Try walking briskly 10-15 minutes twice a day.
  3. Before a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite.
  4. At a party buffet, take small portions of a variety of foods, including vegetables and fruits.
  5. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Chew your food slowly and enjoy the flavor.
  6. Limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you drink. They can lessen your inhibitions and induce overeating.
  7. If you overeat at one meal, eat less at the next to balance out your calorie intake.
  8. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
  9. Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
  10. Prepare favorite dishes that are lower in fat and calories. Here are some tasty, healthy holiday recipes to get you started.


Janice Rutkowski, M.D.Dr. Janice Rutkowski is an MPCP partner and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She sees patients at the Arundel Mills office.

Water for Weight Loss

Forget expensive diet programs. The secret to maintaining a healthy weight may be… plain water.

A new study suggests that by increasing plain water consumption, you can control your weight. Not only that, but water can also help you reduce your intake of sugar, sodium and saturated fat.

Published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, the study examined the link between plain water consumption and weight. Plain water was defined as water from a tap, cooler, drinking fountain or bottle.

Participants were asked to recall all foods and drinks they consumed, and then researchers  calculated the amount of plain water that each participant consumed as a percentage of daily dietary water intake from both foods and drinks.

On a daily basis, the participants consumed an average of about 4.2 cups of plain water, which accounts for just over 30% of their total water consumption.

The average calorie intake for each participant was 2,157 calories, which included 125 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from desserts, pastries, snack mixes and other foods that are not essential.

The results of the study revealed that people who increased their consumption of plain water by one to three cups daily lowered total energy intake by 68-205 calories each day. They also consumed significantly less sodium, sugar and cholesterol.

Obviously, drinking water is not a silver bullet for weight loss; factors like a healthy diet and exercise are also important. But if more water can reduce your intake of calories, sodium, sugar and cholesterol, our advice to you is: drink up!



Manuel Skow, PAManuel Skow, Physician Assistant, joined MPCP in 2007 and sees patients in the Glen Burnie office. He received his Master of Science/Physician Assistant degree from St. Francis University, and completed his Physician Assistant Preceptorships in Primary Care at the United States Naval Academy Brigade Clinic and Internal Medicine/Cardiology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


Hop on a Bike to Get Fit, Lose Weight

By Jose Zarzuela, M.D.

When it comes to exercise, it’s hard to beat bicycle riding. Biking combines cardiovascular fitness with building strength and stamina – and it’s fun.  You can get a good workout while enjoying a ride in the park.  And people of all ages and fitness levels can do it.

There are many benefits to biking:

It’s one of the easiest ways to exercise. You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year. All you need is a bike and half an hour several times a week.

It tones you all over.  Biking improves general muscle function with little risk of strain or injury. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. Gripping the handlebars also helps tone your upper body.

It’s great for your heart.  You can easily boost your heart rate for a good cardiovascular workout. Pump it up by including hills in your ride. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of moderate riding three times a week can help lower your blood pressure and LDL (bad blood cholesterol), reducing your risk of heart disease.

It boosts energy. Research has shown that bike riding improves energy and decreases fatigue. How? Cycling triggers your brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to energy.

It’s kind to your joints. Riding a bike puts a lot less stress on your knees, ankles, and spine than running or other high-impact exercises. Most people can easily ride moderate distances without much strain or pain.

It promotes weight loss. Riding can burn hundreds of calories per hour, depending on your size and how fast you go. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride. This chart shows how many calories you can burn on a bike.

It helps reduce stress. Like any regular exercise, riding can reduce stress and depression and improve well-being and self-esteem.  It’s also a good way to be enjoy nature and refresh your mind and soul.

Before you hop and pedal away, keep a few things in mind:

Most people can do bike riding. However, if you’ve been inactive, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor first. Your doctor can advise you regarding your limits and capacities and what you should avoid doing.

Be safe. Biking is fun, but it’s important to get the right equipment for the activity. Always wear a helmet and consider knee pads and elbow pads in case of falls. And if you plan to ride on the streets, make sure you obey all traffic laws, use proper hand signals, and wear bright, visible clothing so cars can easily see you.

Start off easy. For beginners, begin by riding 30 minutes three times a week. Gradually increase the number and length of your rides as you gain strength and experience.

Speed up slowly. Gradual increases in speed are an important aspect of fitness cycling. Cycling can be strenuous, so the key to successful fitness riding is to be patient and not hurry in increasing your limits.

Once you’ve built up your strength and endurance, there are many enjoyable bike rides to take in the Baltimore-Washington area. They vary in length and difficulty. Here are links to some of them:




Washington, D.C.:


Jose Zarzuela, M.D.Jose Zarzuela is an MPCP partner and practices in our Pasadena office. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

A Healthier Weight: 3 Key Steps

qa-160Q & A with Dr. Falana Carter of MPCP, Arundel Mills

Q: What are the key challenges for patients who struggle with weight?

A: Given the demands of family, career, and social responsibilities, it’s no wonder many people find that their health is pushed to the end of the priority list. I tell patients who struggle with obesity that there are 3 simple steps to improve their cardiac health, lower cholesterol, and reduce BMI (Body Mass Index) through lifestyle changes:

    1. Eat 3-4 meals daily – don’t skip any meals! When you skip a meal, you slow your metabolism down – your body needs to eat every 4-6 hours.
    2. Exercise – schedule it into your daily routine.
    3. Be “selfish” for your health.

Q: How do you start the conversation with patients who need to lose weight?

A: As part of their exam, I ask, “So what are you doing for exercise?” Often patients tell me they don’t have time to exercise; this is where I encourage them to be selfish. If you set aside a regular time to exercise, and let your family and friends know, they’ll respect that schedule and not distract you from your goal.

Q: In addition to eating on a regular schedule, how big a part does nutrition play?

A: Nutrition plays a central role. I emphasize the importance of eating healthy – more protein, healthy snacks; less sugar and processed foods. I also recommend using myfitnesspal.com, a free online weight loss tool. And for patients willing to share their password, there’s even the capability for their doctor to see what they’re eating, and provide feedback and guidance in their weight loss process.

Q: How are you incorporating these principles into your practice

A: Soon, the Arundel Mills office will launch a program dedicated to improving patients’ health through lifestyle changes, so we’re excited about this opportunity to help more individuals achieve their goals.

Falana P. Carter, M.D. joined Maryland Primary Care Physicians, Arundel Mills in 2011 and is certified by the American Board of Family Physicians. She received her medical degree from University of South Florida College of Medicine in 2001 and completed her residency program in Family Medicine at Portsmouth Family Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2004.