Losing Weight - Day 7 - 196 lbs

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About a week into the new diet and time for a report. Just to recap: Every morning I'm drinking an Isagenix IsaLean Pro meal replacement shake. That's about 280 calories and 36 g of protein, so it's a full meal replacement. I mix the powder in a blender with water and ice and drink it around 8:00 am. Then, I eat normally the rest of the day, restricting calorie intake to around 1500-1700 per day. So I eat a 500 calorie lunch, a 600 calorie dinner, and add some light snacks throughout the day. 

So far, so good. The morning ritual of waking up and drinking the shake seems to motivate me. It's making a new commitment to the diet each and every day. I also have a hard and fast rule of eating absolutely nothing else until noon. I'm only drinking water until noon, and so far I've had no problem maintaining that.

I've been surprised at how well the shake keeps me from being hungry. Waiting until noon to eat isn't a struggle at all. Previously, when I ate a 350 calorie breakfast, I often had trouble mid-morning with hunger. 

So far I'm very impressed with meal replacement shake in the morning. I've found that routines are good for dieting, and it's a routine I think I can easily maintain. There's a ritual to it which I'm beginning to like. I ordered some new shake packets, and even that I enjoyed, since it reaffirmed my commitment to the diet. 

Staying on a diet is a psychological battle as much as a physical one. Writing this blog is part of my strategy for winning that battle, so I'm going to keep you all updated with my progress. I know it's a bit off-track from the theme of this site, but it's worth it to me, and I hope you'll all find it of continued interest.

Losing Weight - Isagenix Day 1 - 200 lbs

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I've been doing different diets for years. My interest in sugar started with my experiments with the low-carb Atkins diet. Doing Atkins, you look at the amount of sugar in things, and I was amazed at what I found. That was the genesis of Sugar Stacks.

Over the past year, I've lost a lot of weight (230 lbs down to 180). I lost it by counting calories: keeping a daily chart of what I've eaten. It worked, but I've lost motivation and some of the pounds have re-accumulated. I'm at 200 now, which on my 5'7" frame isn't ideal. My ultimate goal is around 165.

A lot of people I know have been using meal-replacement shakes to lose weight, and Isagenix seems to offer one of the best options. Its IsaLean shakes are low in sugar but offer a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. I'm a huge fan of maintaining this balance to reduce hunger and increase energy. I couldn't tolerate Atkins for long term because of its severe carbohydrate restrictions; I wasn't hungry on Atkins but I felt listless. 

So I've decided to combine my calorie-restriction regimen with meal replacement. I'm starting with breakfast. I'm going to have a shake for breakfast, then eat my calorie-restricted lunch and dinner. The idea is that the shake will fill me up and simplify my morning, offering more variety for lunch and dinner.

I'm planning to keep this blog updated with my progress and thoughts. 

A Letter from the Orange Juice People

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So the good folks at the Florida Department of Citrus want their voice heard, and who are we not to oblige? Just for the record, orange juice probably is, as they say, more healthful than apple juice or grape juice.

What worries us, and the point we're trying to make, is that when people drink orange juice like it is water, they are ingesting too much sugar. Fruit juice may have its place, but many children (and many adults) drink WAY too much juice when they should be drinking water instead.

Anyway, they write:

Dear Sugar Stacks team,

On behalf of the Florida Department of Citrus, I am writing in response
to your recent "stack-up" about the sugar content of orange juice on
SugarStacks.com.  Please allow us to share further information.

Orange juice is a convenient, naturally nutritious beverage with no
added sugars or preservatives that can be a healthy part of most diets.
In fact, its naturally occurring sugars provide the body with ready
sources of energy. One 8-ounce glass of 100 percent orange juice
delivers essential vitamins and nutrients to support good health and
counts as almost 25 percent of the USDA-recommended daily fruit and
vegetable servings, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.  Research shows
orange juice is more nutrient rich than many commonly consumed 100
percent fruit juices, such as apple, grape, pineapple and prune.

But it's important to note that not all juices are created equal. To
distinguish 100% orange juice from products that contain very little
real fruit juice, compare the percent of pure juice, nutrients and

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss in more detail.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Karen Mathis

This is not a diet blog, but...

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This site isn't about dieting, It's about giving shape and form to what is hidden in the food we eat.

That said, I'm on a diet and I'm going to blog about it, for my own benefit as much as for any potential readers.

The method of my diet is simple. I count calories. Everything I eat, I write down the calorie count, keeping a running total. I limit my daily intake to 1500-1600 calories per day. No exceptions are allowed. If I cannot figure out the exact calorie count for something, I don't eat it.

Though this allows me to eat whatever I want, my general strategy is to balance protein, fat, and carbohydrates. I never eat a meal that is pure carbs or pure protein. I always make sure there is a healthy fat content to keep me satiated. So, if I eat a bowl of oatmeal, I'll have an egg along with it. I'll pick a hamburger over skinless chicken breast. I find that keeping this balance helps me from being too hungry.

Relearning the taste of food

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From the cradle we're trained to expect sugar, lots of sugar, in almost everything we eat. It's not enough that most children grow up never eating peanut butter without the accompaniment of jelly. Even the peanut butter itself gets sugar added for a double-whammy of unnecessary sugar.

People cannot even imagine what simple, unadulterated peanut butter might be like. They have never had the chance to taste its complex richness, to appreciate the true flavor of roasted peanuts. They aren't even aware that they might be missing something. Anyone who does take the time to experience it would never go back to the sugar-laden varieties; they'd miss the real taste too much.

Even a spice like cinnamon is so often coupled with sugar that people cannot imagine enjoying it by itself. But such an aromatic and versatile spice should be used, and appreciated, on its own. Take a bowl of plain oatmeal, add a healthy spoonful of cinnamon, some chopped nuts, and maybe some sliced apple. Eat that for a week. Then go back and try one of those premade oatmeal-sugar packets. You won't be able to stand the treacly sweetness. You'll miss the FLAVOR too much.

Carrot Stacks

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On our vegetables page, we point out the sugar content of carrots, along with beets and corn. We received many angry emails about this, suggesting that we're some kind of sugar fearmongers scaring people away from eating vegetable.

This got us to thinking, how can we illustrate visually the sugar content of a vegetable like carrots? Carrots do have sugar; anyone who's tried a low-carb diet realizes this. But things need to be put into perspective a bit. So we've come up with carrot stacks:


 We think the visuals clarify the situation pretty clearly.

Kraft is MAD at us

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Got a little email from Neil Leinwand, VP of Marketing of Kraft Foods. He is mad at us. Hopping steaming mad!


Seems like we were mistaken about Capri Sun on our beverages page. We wrote:
"Basically a bag of water and high fructose corn syrup."

This was incorrect. We have corrected it to say:
"Basically a bag of water and sugar."

Here is his complete email:

To whom it may concern,

Your calories and grams of sugar with respect to Capri Sun Pacific Cooler are correct.  Your reference to High Fructose Corn Syrup is not.  There is no HFCS in Capri Sun as we reformulated the brand well over a year ago, moving to sugar and with 25% fewer grams than previously existed of HFCS.  So if you are going to denigrate our brand (no reference to the short list of ingredients without any artificial colors/flavors/preservatives), I would ask that you at least get your facts straight.

What's the sugar cost of "low fat"?

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It started with Snackwells. Now grocery aisles are crowded with packages of cookies and snacks boasting "Reduced Fat" and "Only 100 Calories". We could discuss a lot of issues concerning the marketing of these products, but since we're sugar stackers, we're going to stick to what we know.

See our article on "Low Fat" Snacks

Why stack up the sugar in reduced fat foods? After all, they're not making any claims about reducing sugar. Well, we were curious. We wondered if low fat foods might contain added sugar to compensate for flavor lost with fat reduction. In the products we looked at, this wasn't the case, but we did make some interesting discoveries when comparing nutrition labels.

Most low fat products still contain quite a bit of sugar. No big surprise there. However, what did surprise us was some of the calorie counts. Products promoted as "sensible snacking" or calorie limited sometimes had calorie counts that weren't that far off from a serving of the real deal.

This may seem obvious, but many people may not think it through, equating low fat with "healthier" or "better" in general. We're just pointing out that a product with reduced fat content won't necessarily differ on all fronts. Low fat snacks usually contain about the same amount of sugar as the classic versions, as well as a comparable or sometimes greater amount of carbohydrates.

There are certainly legitimate reasons for limiting fat intake, and with snack foods, which often contain trans fats and hydrogenated oils, lower fat isn't a bad idea. On the other hand, if your primary goal is simply to reduce calories in your diet, you might want to compare labels before you toss those reduced fat cookies into your cart and see exactly what you're getting. 

Fixing what's broken

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We are only human. We make mistakes.

We appreciate your feedback because it helps us find, and fix, our mistakes. We have thick skins, too, so if you want to hurl abuse at us, along with corrections, feel free. We accept it as punishments for our transgressions against you, our readers.

The Dairy Queen Butterfinger Blizzard was completely wrong; it had the data for the 40 oz. Coca-Cola Slurpee. There were also typos/errors on the unsweetened apple sauce, the orange juice, the regular Snickers, and the McDonald's milk shake. We've tried to fix all of these errors. If you find more, please drop us a line.

The Truth about Fruit

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We've gotten the most feedback about our fruit section. Things like: Fruit doesn't contain table sugar, so it's misleading to use sugar cubes to show the sugar content. Fruit is natural and healthy, how dare you compare it with Pop Tarts!

First, please check out the article in Wikipedia on fructose, specifically, the table of sugar content of various fruits and vegetables. We are not chemists, however, so we will leave the further research up to you.

The point we were trying to make, however, is that all fruits aren't the same. Some have more sugar than others. An apple may not, in fact, be quite as good for you as a strawberry. Eating fruits, even sugary ones, may have other benefits that offset the amount of sugar they contain. That very well may be the case. But we still think it's important to be clear on just how much sugar we're talking about.

And don't get us started on faux fruits: fruit juice, smoothies, jam, sugar-fortified apple sauce, fruit rolls, etc. Just because a product has some fruit content, or looks like it has fruit inside, or is derived from a fruit, doesn't mean you should put it in your body.