A journal of my experiences with breast cancer to inform those who are interested and to help any one else who might have just been diagnosed.

“[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: Why I will Not Be a Trim, Healthy Momma

Following the Trim Healthy Momma diet seems to be the newest trend in dieting. So many of my friends seemed to like it, so I picked the book up at the library. After all, a diet that tells you that you can eat bacon and still lose weight sounds like a miracle, doesn't it? And, many of my friends have been amazed that they could lose weight quickly, sometimes within days. The Trim, Healthy Momma diet even claims that you will get the added benefits of lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides.
So, I opened the book and began to read. The first thing that struck me was the heavy use of Truvia. I have not tried Truvia, to tell the truth, but my body has not done well on other artificial sweeteners over the years, so it made me take a second look at it. I remember back about twenty-five years ago when I bought some Stevia leaves at a Renissance Faire and I enjoyed brewing the leaves along with my tea for sweetner, so perhaps Trucia, a zero-calorie natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant, according to Cargill's website, would be a good thing. However, upon researching it, I found out that the only reason Truvia can mention anything about Stevia is because Rebiana, one of the three ingredients of Truvia, is derived from a Stevia plant.. First of all, only half of one percent of Truvia is Rebiana, and secondly, Rebiana is not the same thing as Stevia. It is only a molecule of the stevia plant. Furthermore, Rebiana is actually 400 times sweeter than sugar, but you’ll notice that Truvia is only twice as sweet as sugar.

The primary ingredient of Truvia is actually Erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol which is made by processing genetically modified corn, so instead of Truvia being thought of as refined stevia, it should be thought of a refined sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are notoriously known for their unpleasant side effects. Our bodies do a poor job at digesting sugar alcohol, which is why they are low in calories, but because they aren’t completely digested, they hang out in our intestines where they are fermented by colonic bacteria. The by-products of fermentation include gastric distress, diarrhea, cramping, gas and bloating, which not coincidentally, are the main side effects of Truvia.
The last ingredient of Truvia is listed as "natural flavors." What does that mean? That’s a good question, and your answer is as good as mine. As you may already know, the term “natural” is not FDA-regulated, therefore there are no standards when using this word.
Truvia may be perfectly harmless for the vast majority, but there is no evidence that Truvia is either natural or safe, according to the Regulatory Affairs unit of the Public Health and Medical Fraud Research Cooperative. For me, I would rather cut out or at least reduce my refined sugar instead of just replacing it with Truvia. For some, honey, in moderation, or perhaps using the actual stevia plant leaves would be better than switching to Truvia.

Okay, so I may or may not have convinced you of taking a second thought when switching to Truvia. Let us go on to the next thing I noticed when looking over the Trim, Healthy Momma book, the low carb and high fats. This is not a new concept, as it was popularized back in the early 1970's with the Adkin's diet (Diet Revolution).  The track record of that diet is that people found out that it turned out to be less effective and less healthy than originally claimed. Often the weight returned, as did the problems with high blood pressure. The Trim, Healthy Momma states that it is different in that it allows small amounts of carbohydrates and that they include sources of healthier fats, such as fish and olive oil, as well as the saturated fats. Are those changes enough?
When carbohydrate consumption falls below 100 grams, the body responds by burning muscle tissue for the glycogen, or stored glucose, it contains. When those glycogen stores start to run out, the body resorts to burning body fat, but that is a very inefficient, complicated way to produce blood sugar. The body only tries to do this when it absolutely has to, like when its starving. Turning fat into blood sugar produces a bi-product called ketones. My oncologist specifically stated at my first meeting with him that I was not to go on a weight loss diet that encouraged the production of ketones. So, in my particular case, it is very important that I don't reduce my carbohydrates that low, but since it is a function that begins when the body is starving,  it makes sense to me that it wouldn't be good for anyone. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the human brain requires the equivalent of 130 grams of carbohydrate a day to function optimally, and that is just a minimum. I would like to assert that I think it is at least as important to look at the type of carbohydrates we are getting rather as the amount.
Many of the weight loss advantages of a low-carb diet may in fact be due to the extra protein. As I have said before, protein can really help with weight control. They curb hunger and so people consume fewer calories and lose more weight Two major studies of low-carb diets, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at obese men and women who stuck with either a low-carb, high-fat diet or a low-fat, high-carb diet. Both diets were low in calories. In one study, which lasted six months, the low-carb diet seemed to win hands down, and that part of the study is what a lot of people who are looking at the diet  are looking at. The people on it lost nearly 13 pounds; the low-fat dieters shed just 4 pounds. 
The second study reveals more information, however. This study lasted six months longer, revealed that results of this type of diet really don’t last. This study found that the low-carb dieters lost more weight in the first six months, but in the second half of the year, the weight came roaring back. By the end of a year, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups. 
In another study, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle gave volunteers a diet that got 50 percent of its calories from carbohydrates. To start, the volunteers got only 15 percent of their calories from protein and 35 percent from fat. Then they switched. Carbs stayed the same, but fat was decreased to 20 percent of calories, and protein was doubled to 30 percent. The participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted— but they ate less. Over 14 weeks, they lost an average of 11 pounds, including 8 pounds of body fat, thanks to the extra protein. 
And about the butter and bacon, saturated fats directly impair the body’s ability to react to insulin, so following a low-carb, high-saturated-fat diet may help you lose weight in the short term, but it may also speed the development of insulin resistance. Eventually, that can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease. So, it seems that you can't have your butter and bacon and have weight loss and good health at the same time.
I am not a health professional, and what I learn is just from my own research, so don't take my word for it. I am also still overweight, so I cannot say that I am in any way an expert in weight loss. I can only tell you what I have learned and what I feel. Make your own reasonable and informed decision, but don't just take the word of one source. I can only tell you what I have learned that might be a better way, which I will outline next time, and why I will not be a Trim, Healthy Momma.


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful and thought provoking review of the latest fad diet. So, I guess it's still moderation in all things, and slow and steady, pound by pound game.

    1. Yes, I am afraid that there is no way around that. I think the best route to success has nothing to do with pounds and scales either. I think it is changing how we feel or think about food. I am working on those things, but it is a long process.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to research and to write this all out in a way that is clearly understood. I will be back later to re read.

  3. This was very interesting, Phyllis. My Dad was on the Atkins diets, put there by his then new wife. We all tried to tell him how dangerous it was, but as he was able to eat all his favourite foods and lose weight he couldn't say enough good about it. Unfortunately he gained all the weight he lost and just a few short years later died of a massive heart attack. Whilst I'm not saying it was all Atkins fault I always wonder if things would have been different if he had just lost the weight sensibly. Thanks so much for doing these posts Phyllis.

  4. Thank you. I've read several blogs that just love this new book. I didn't know all of that about Truvia either. I always feel kinda sick after consuming diet sugars and have avoided using any books that use them heavily too.

  5. Producing Lots of ketones is the whole premise of the ketogenic diet for epilepsy. This is not a healthy or safe diet for anyone else, or meant to be on for a long time. You have really done your research! I have been wanting to buy this book because everyone is raving about it, but it's too pricey for me. Thanks for reviewing it. Now I know it's not worth it!

  6. I'm going to have to come back and read this again when I'm focusing better, but from what I'm getting it falls quite in line with what I figured, it's another fad diet that will come and go.

  7. Interesting! I get so frustrated with the use of those types of sweeteners. If a sweetener really must be used, it seems like there are better options!