Diet Detective: News You Should Use

Charles Platkin
By  | 

No Time, No Equipment. There are No More Excuses Not to Exercise -- You Can Climb Stairs

Overview: Trying to get cardiovascular benefits quickly without too much time and with no equipment? You’re in luck. Researchers at McMaster University have found that short, intense bursts of stair climbing, which can be done almost anywhere, will have major benefits for heart health.

Journal Citation: Mary K. Allison, Jessica H. Baglole, Brian J. Martin, Martin J. Macinnis, Brendon J. Gurd, Martin J. Gibala. Brief Intense Stair Climbing Improves Cardiorespiratory Fitness. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2017; 49 (2): 298

Abstract Link:

How to Apply: At a minimum of three times per week, for 10-minutes, vigorously (all out) climb up and down a flight of stairs for 60 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 10 minutes..

Coffee and Tea Calories Matter

Overview: Can you believe that more than 160 million people in the U.S. alone drink coffee or tea on a regular basis? What about the sugar, cream, half-and-half, honey and flavored syrups? They probably don’t amount to anything calorically right?

Researcher Ruopeng An, a health professor from the University of Illinois conducted a study showing that roughly two-thirds of coffee drinkers and one-third of tea drinkers put sugar, cream, flavorings or other calorie-rich additives in their drinks.

"Those who drink their coffee black consume about 69 fewer total calories per day, on average, than those who add sweeteners, cream or other substances to their coffee,” An found. More than 60 percent of those calories come from sugar, with fat accounting for most of the rest of the extra calories consumed.

Tea drinkers tend to add fewer calorie-dense substances to their tea if they add anything at all, the analysis found. "Compared with adding nothing to one's tea, drinking tea with caloric add-ins increased daily caloric intake by more than 43 calories, on average, with nearly 85 percent of those added calories coming from sugar," An said.

Journal Citation: R. An, Y. Shi. Consumption of coffee and tea with add-ins in relation to daily energy, sugar, and fat intake in US adults, 2001–2012. Public Health, 2017; 146:

Abstract Link:

How to Apply: Taking in an average of 69 extra calories per day can add up to an additional 7 pounds per year. Try teaching yourself to drink your coffee black. Make sure you start with very high quality coffee, and lower the amount of sugar and cream over time until you’re completely black.

Working Out Needs to Make You Happy

Overview: If you enjoy doing something, there is a high likelihood that you will continue to do it. Seems obvious. However, researcher Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan's Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center reporting in the journal BMC Public Health, found that inactive women believe "valid" exercise must be intense and they want to feel relaxed during their leisure time. The women interviewed felt pressure to exercise for health or to lose weight, yet during their leisure time they wanted to be free of pressure. Success comes from achieving goals, yet these women’s expectations about how much, where and how they should be exercising meant they couldn’t achieve those goals.

"This traditional approach to exercising might actually harm exercise motivation. Our study shows that this exercise message conflicts with and undermines the very experiences and goals most women have for themselves," said Segar.

Journal Citation: Michelle Segar, Jennifer M. Taber, Heather Patrick, Chan L. Thai, April Oh. Rethinking physical activity communication: using focus groups to understand women’s goals, values, and beliefs to improve public health. BMC Public Health, 2017; 17 (1)

Abstract Link:

How to Apply:

-Even A Few Minutes Matters: If you don’t feel like exercising, tell yourself you’ll do it for just 10 or 15 minutes. Doing a little something is better than doing nothing at all. Once you get started, you may even find the energy to keep going.
-Enjoy Exercise More: Focus on the enjoyment, feelings of competence and social interaction that come from the experience. If you can’t find something that you love right away, at the very least, find something you don’t hate. It’s important to find as many redeeming qualities as possible for any of the exercises that you choose.
-Make It Social: There is a plethora of research demonstrating that working out (or dieting) with a group on a regular basis increases your likelihood of sticking with your routine. One study found that married couples who worked out together had a significantly higher attendance and lower dropout rate than married people who worked out alone. Find a regular fitness class that you know you’ll enjoy. Organize a group of friends, co-workers or neighbors to participate in some regular fitness activity. Get yourself a workout buddy. Not only will you increase your fitness level and improve your appearance, but you’ll also reduce stress and increase the effectiveness of your immune system (social groups do that) — and you will probably have a good time as well.

Free Online Calculator For Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Stroke

Overview: According to the NHI, Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raise your risk for heart disease and other health problems including diabetes and stroke. A large new study has found that an online metabolic calculator developed by a doctor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and his research partner at the University of Florida predicts patients' risk of developing heart disease and diabetes more accurately than traditional methods. Physicians traditionally have predicted risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke by looking for five factors: obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol and high fasting blood sugar. Patients with abnormalities in at least three of these are diagnosed as having metabolic syndrome and told that they are at elevated risk for future health problems. The online calculator measures the traditional risk factors and also takes into account race, gender and ethnicity to produce an easy-to-understand metabolic severity score

Journal Citation: Mark D. DeBoer, Matthew J. Gurka, Sherita Hill Golden, Solomon K. Musani, Mario Sims, Abhishek Vishnu, Yi Guo, Thomas A. Pearson. Independent Associations Between Metabolic Syndrome Severity and Future Coronary Heart Disease by Sex and Race. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2017; 69 (9): 1204

Abstract Link: target="_blank">

How to Apply: The tool is available as a free online calculator at

It’s NOT Just Sugar and Carbs - Fat can Impact Diabetes Too

Overview: Diabetes is a terrible illness that causes heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease. Many know that carbs, especially simple sugars, contribute to diabetes. However, there is now research from one study done by researchers at the German Diabetes Center and the Helmholtz Center in Munich to show that just one high fat meal impacts insulin levels. The researchers used a palm oil drink that had the same amount of saturated fat as two cheeseburgers with bacon and a large portion of French fries or two salami pizzas. According to the information released by the institutions: “The scientists showed that this single high-fat meal sufficed to reduce the insulin action, e.g. cause insulin resistance.”

Journal Citation: Elisa Álvarez Hernández, Sabine Kahl, Anett Seelig, Paul Begovatz, Martin Irmler, Yuliya Kupriyanova, Bettina Nowotny, Peter Nowotny, Christian Herder, Cristina Barosa, Filipa Carvalho, Jan Rozman, Susanne Neschen, John G. Jones, Johannes Beckers, Martin Hrab? de Angelis and Michael Roden, Acute dietary fat intake initiates alterations in energy metabolism and insulin resistance, J Clin Invest. 2017, January 23, 2017.

Abstract Link:

How to Apply: Look for lean sources of protein.

· Poultry: Choose primarily chicken and turkey, and make sure to select lean cuts. The leanest poultry choice is white meat from the breast without the skin.

o Remove the skin either before or after cooking to reduce the fat content by almost half. Leaving the skin on during cooking will keep the meat juicier. But keep in mind that if you remove the skin after cooking, the fat underneath will have melted and some will have been absorbed into the meat ¬ which is also why it is juicier.
o Trim all excess fat from poultry before cooking.
o Rather than using fat such as butter and oil to enhance poultry’s flavor, try flavored vinegars, wines, herbs, spices or citrus fruit.
o Cook poultry without added fats by baking, roasting, broiling, grilling or poaching. Stir-fry in olive or canola oil, or, better yet, use cooking spray.
o Avoid duck, which is very fatty.

· Meats (including beef, veal, pork and lamb): Look for lean meats and remove visible fat. Here are some tips from the United States Department of Agriculture:

o The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
o The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin and ham.
o Choose extra-lean ground beef. Look for at least 90 percent lean. You may even be able to find ground beef that is 93 percent or 95 percent lean.
o Choose lean roast beef, ham or low-fat luncheon meats for sandwiches instead of luncheon meats with more fat, such as regular bologna or salami.
o Avoid meat that is heavily marbled--that is, streaked with fat. Look for meat with the least amount of visible fat.

For cooking:

o Trim visible fat beforehand.
o Broil, grill, roast, poach or boil meat instead of frying.
o Drain any fat that appears during cooking.
o Skip or limit the breading ¬ it adds fat and calories, especially since it causes meat to soak up more fat during frying.

· Dairy: Dairy is a great source of protein and calcium; however, dairy is full of fat, so always choose low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt and cheese.

CHARLES PLATKIN, PhD is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of, and the Director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College. Copyright 2017 by Charles Platkin. All rights reserved. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at