Alcohol's the Worst for Diets and More News

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In today's Media Mix, a seal meat and foie gras burger (really), plus McDonald's implements dollar menu changes

Alcohol doesn't just add on extra calories.

Check out these headlines you may have missed.

Seal Meat Burger: In an act of straight-up defiance, a Quebec restaurant has reportedly been serving a foie gras and seal meat burger, and while the seal meat is "federally inspected and legal," (i.e. not baby seal meat), people are not happy. [Grist]

McDonald's Dollar and More Menu: After some testing, Mickey D's is implementing a new dollar menu, priced at $1, $2, and $5. [LA Times]

Spicy Beers on the Rise:Just as sour beers are finally getting their due, new beers are now infused with four peppercorns or jalapeños to create a spicy beer perfect for winter. [Connect Savannah]

Alcohol Destroying Your Diet: Apparently, alcoholic drinks are the worst offenders when it comes to diet, not just because of the hidden calories in the drinks, but also because of the drunk munchies. Nobody can turn down a slice of pizza while tipsy. [Herald Sun]

Ja Rule's Cookbook: The rapper was reportedly thinking of creating a cookbook where all the dishes are "microwavable." Won't be 2 Chainz's cookbook, unfortunately. [Page Six]

What's the Least Dehydrating Alcohol?

Warm weather boozing is a must, but some drinks are more taxing than others.

When you&aposre thirsty—or after you&aposve gone for a run—you probably don&apost reach for a beer, and you certainly don&apost mix an Old Fashioned. Yet one domestic brewery hopes to alter that (if slightly) with a thirst-quenching beer that, admittedly, doesn&apost go so far as to claim to actually hydrate you, which would go against all experiential wisdom about alcohol.

But the idea of a quenching, or perhaps even hydrating potable got us wondering, what਋oozy drinks could we sip to stay hydrated—or, more realistically, help us not get too dehydrated?

Turns out, some alcohols𠅊nd more accurately, how you drink them�n be less dehydrating that other booze-filled beverages. Here&aposs the scoop from our experts.

The #1 Worst Food for Immunity, According to Doctors

We talked to a doctor of internal medicine and an endocrinologist to learn how to keep our immune systems at their best.

Immunity seems to be on everyone&aposs minds right now𠅊nd for good reason. With the coronavirus pandemic, plus cold and flu season, it&aposs important we take care of our bodies, practice proper hygiene and eat a healthy diet. We spoke with Romy Block, M.D. and Arielle Levitan, M.D., co-founders of Vous Vitamin, to learn more about boosting our immunity.

"First of all, we would say in general that people should be thoughtful about their individual needs when it comes to immunity," says Levitan. However, both doctors noted there is one thing we all should be avoiding to keep our immune systems strong: alcohol.

The pair says alcohol suppresses your immune system and can also make a virus last longer. In fact, they say having just one drink could make an illness last a few extra days. This is likely because alcohol disrupts our gastrointestinal tract, which plays a vital role in keeping our immune systems strong. Research shows alcohol can cause gut bacteria leakage, which leads to inflammation, forcing our immune system&aposs defenses down. Not to mention, booze is dehydrating and staying hydrated is important for staying healthy.

We should also avoid alcohol when we are sick, as it can have harmful interactions with multiple ingredients found in cold and flu medications. Drinking alcohol while taking certain medications could make you drowsy, lightheaded and put you at risk for dangerous driving.

While we&aposre not saying you should ditch booze for good, those with pre-existing conditions and older populations should definitely consider reducing their intake during the coronavirus pandemic (plus, we&aposre entering regular cold and flu season). Tempting as it may be to want to drink your anxiety away, Brook and Levitan both advise finding stress relief through regular exercise and a healthy diet𠅋oth of which will boost your immunity!

"A varied diet really is the best way to go, even though eating salad isn&apost always at the top of our lists this time of year," Levitan says. Block likes to make veggie-packed soups in her Instant Pot to keep her family nourished. The doctors also encourage loading up on vitamin C- and zinc-rich foods and avoiding empty calories, which can actually make your illness worse.

"There are definitely things you can do in an acute crisis, but the most important thing is to try to stay healthy year-round, not just during crunchtime" Block says.

Instead of a glass of wine or beer, try an herbal tea, glass of seltzer or mocktail.

What should you drink instead?

When it comes to alcohol, moderation is always key.

"Alcohol, in general, is not a nutritious food, adds extra calories, and can lead to unhealthy habits after drinking (disrupted sleep, dehydration, lack of motivation the next day, cravings for junk food, etc.)," says Burak. This is why it's helpful to stick to one or two cans of beer at a time.

If you're reaching for the beer, Burak suggests something that falls below 100 calories.

"Go for one of the lighter varieties like Bud Select 55, Michelob Ultra, Heineken Light, and Corona Light," she suggests.

When you're out and about this summer, you can still enjoy a crisp beer in the sun while maintaining your weight-loss goals. The key is sticking to a light beer with less sugar and drinking just one or two at a time. Now, time to get sipping!



Like many frozen margaritas and Piña Coladas, Mudslides are loaded with added sugar. "The Ultimate Mudslide from TGI Friday's contains vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, cream, and ice cream and packs a whopping 740 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 86 grams of sugar," Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, previously told Eat This, Not That. "That's almost four days' worth of sugar in one drink if you are following [the] American Heart Association guidelines."

25 Worst Diets That You'll Want to Avoid in 2020, According to Nutritionists

Losing weight takes a lot of hard work, but it doesn't require extreme dieting, eliminating entire food groups, or depriving yourself of calories and nutrients. Fad diets, often promoted by celebrities and influencers, are among the worst offenders&mdashnot only are they potentially dangerous to your health, but they're also ineffective in the long-term (keto, we're looking at you!).

What is a fad diet, exactly? You know you have a fad diet on your hands when the buzzy plan is unrealistic and limits you to eating certain types of foods. Some fad diets may encourage you to skip eating altogether and stick to drinking juices and teas instead (not safe, by the way). To help you avoid completely sabotaging your weight loss goals and choose the right diet for you, we consulted dietitians to share the top fad diets you need to ditch this year.

Additional reporting by Nicol Natale

The HCG Diet requires you to consume just 500 calories per day while supplementing with human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a pregnancy hormone that is falsely associated with weight loss. "This is an incredibly restrictive, very low calorie diet that will promote rapid weight loss, but at the expense of losing both muscle mass and body fat, which could slow metabolism and make future weight management a challenge," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. Not only can the diet trigger disordered eating, but taking OTC HCG products is also considered illegal and dangerous by the FDA. "Since sustaining a diet of 500 calories per day is not possible long term, the likelihood of maintaining weight lost on this diet is slim," Palinski-Wade says.

Yes, this is a real thing. The Werewolf Diet diet limits how you eat based on the cycles of the moon, such as a fasting with juice for 24 hours during a full moon and not eating past 6 p.m. during other moon phases. "This diet is not backed by research, so it sets unnecessary restrictions that make it a challenge to sustain long term," Palinski-Wade says. "Instead of eating based on the cycles of the moon, focus on eating balanced meals with plenty of fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats for a balanced approach that will promote a healthy weight, and one you can stick with."

Created by Californian internist Alwin Lewis, MD, the Five-Bite Diet requires you to skip breakfast and then only eat five bites of your meal at lunch and dinner. "The very small portions of this diet will promote weight loss, but the incredible restriction of eating only 10 bites of food per day is not a healthy way to lose weight," Palinski-Wade says. "You will most likely not be able to take in the nutrients your body needs each day in just 10 bites of food, and the hunger and lack of satisfaction provided by this diet ensures it will be unable to be sustained." The restrictive meal plan will lead to lack of energy and muscle loss, she says.

With celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry as fans, this low-carb diet has become quite popular. &ldquoYou may start losing weight in the beginning, but the diet is extremely restrictive, so many of the junk foods you may have been over-consuming aren't in your diet any longer but the diet itself is unsustainable,&rdquo says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, an award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author. In addition, you might become constipated, due to lack of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

&ldquoMany celebs swear by cutting out every last smidge of sugar. They ban even a gram of the sweet stuff in order to achieve their beach bodies. Sherri Shepherd favors this approach,&rdquo says Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian with The Mesothelioma Center. This means cutting out fruit and veggies, like berries and sweet potatoes. The worst part: &ldquoYou'll miss the vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytonutrients,&rdquo she says.

A naturopathic physician wrote Eat Right 4 Your Type, which is the foundation of the blood type diet. The premise is to follow a diet and lifestyle that best suits your blood type to improve your health and lose weight.

&ldquoAll four suggested ways of eating are based on real, whole foods, which can prove beneficial for anyone who eats a diet high in processed foods and sugar,&rdquo says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD, but it causes unnecessary focus. &ldquoWhile there is some evidence that shows that certain blood types are at a higher risk for certain diseases, there aren't studies showing that they have anything to do with diet,&rdquo she says.

The majority of weight loss from juicing is due to dehydration and cleaning out your colon, so it&rsquos not sustainable, much less safe. "Dehydration can lead to fainting, weakness and headaches. It can also lead to an increase in hunger. When you flush your colon, you disrupt the bacterial colonization that actually helps you. As a result, your gut microbiome becomes out of balance, leading to digestive abnormalities,&rdquo says Michael Jay Nusbaum, MD.

Megan Fox was all about taking apple cider vinegar shots, but Amidor doesn&rsquot think it&rsquos worth it. The weight loss effects of a poor appetite after ingestion are probably due to nausea and stomachaches from the acidity of the vinegar. &ldquoIf you do want to include apple cider vinegar in your diet, make it a delicious part of your meal and include it in dressings, marinades, and sauces,&rdquo she says.

A teatox is a diet plan that incorporates "skinny teas" that have special additives like senna, which is an herb that's found in over-the-counter laxatives.

&ldquoThe National Institutes of Health says senna is likely safe when taken in the short term, but unsafe when taken long term. Using a laxative-type supplement to lose weight can be dangerous because it can cause diarrhea and dehydration,&rdquo says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, author of The No-Brainer Nutrition Guide For Every Runner.

Popularized by Tom Brady, Kelly Ripa and other celebs, this fad diet has no scientific basis under the premise of eating foods that will keep pH levels in the blood balanced. &ldquoProblem is, the body has its own internal mechanisms to keep your blood pH levels within a very narrow window and that is not impacted by what you eat or drink, unless you have an underlying medical condition that impacts pH,&rdquo Julie Upton, RD, co-founder of Appetite for Health, explains.

&ldquoWhile I think parts of Whole30 are great, like avoiding refined and highly processed foods, it prohibits all sugar (real or artificial), grains, dairy, beans and peanuts. It's nearly impossible to follow, and I never recommend diets that eliminate whole food groups, especially when it's more than one,&rdquo says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. Whole30 sets people up to fail, making them feel that healthy eating is too difficult, she says.

Kelly Clarkson helped bring the lectin-free diet&mdashaka The Plant Paradox&mdashto the spotlight after she lost 37 pounds from following the plan. But this diet isn&rsquot grounded in science, despite being written by a cardiologist, Upton says.

&ldquoThe premise is that people need to shun lectins, a type of protein found in wheat, beans, potatoes, and nuts. The creator suggests that removing foods with lectins can improve your health and promote weight loss,&rdquo she says. But lectins in food are perfectly good for you, so don&rsquot follow this regimen unless you can&rsquot digest them.

Busy Phillips, Lea Michele, and other celebs swear by the green juice for reducing inflammation and aiding muscle recovery post-workout, but drinking celery juice alone won't help you lose weight.

&ldquoThere is no benefit to juicing celery and drinking it at any specific time of the day. Celery is a lovely, nutritious vegetable, but juicing it does not compound any of its benefits,&rdquo says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition. &ldquoThe expense, the overload of antioxidants, and the lack of fiber, fat, and satiety from drinking liquids all make the celery juicing trend an ineffective diet,&rdquo she explains.

Fans of activated charcoal include Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow, but incorporating it into your everyday diet is not something you want to get into, says Moreno. &ldquoThis still baffles me. Activated charcoal is something I used to see when I worked in a hospital as an emergency detoxification treatment for severe alcohol or drug overdoses. Yes, it does bind to toxins in your body&mdashbut healthy people need to know that food is not a toxin,&rdquo she says.

The Grapefruit Diet is a high-protein eating plan that involves eating grapefruit with every meal. It's a 12-day plan that restricts your calories to about 1,000 per day and claims to promote a 10-pound weight loss, but the claims aren't backed by science, Michalczyk says.

&ldquoIt's not great for weight loss because it's not sustainable. It might lead to weight loss in the short term because you're taking in fewer calories, but it's very likely you will gain that weight right back when it's done,&rdquo she says. Instead, simply enjoy grapefruit with breakfast as a treat.

The Cabbage Soup Diet emphasizes eating large amounts of it as every meal. You are allowed to eat one to two other low-calorie foods daily in addition to the soup, which is supposed to accelerate weight loss in seven days. "But it&rsquos very restrictive and can't be sustained in the long-term,&rdquo Michalczyk says. &ldquoGoing from this very low-calorie diet back to regular eating will likely cause you to regain any weight,&rdquo she explains. A better way to enjoy cabbage is to add it to your diet for its vitamin C content and digestive benefits.

The Master Cleanse encourages significant weight loss and promotes the clearing out of &ldquotoxins&rdquo by following a liquid-only diet for 10 days. You can drink only a lemonade-like beverage, a salt-water drink, or an herbal laxative tea&mdashand you don't eat any solid foods.

&ldquoNot only will you be absolutely starving on this plan, but you will also suffer from cravings, irritability, fatigue and more. Plus, there is no evidence to suggests that any of these ingredients clear out &lsquotoxins&rsquo from your body,&rdquo Rizzo says. You&rsquore also likely to gain back most of the weight once you start eating again.

The baby food diet calls for eating 10 to 15 jars of baby food for breakfast and lunch. &ldquoWhile I wouldn&rsquot call this dangerous, it&rsquos definitely severe calorie restriction. Each jar of baby food has about 30 to 70 calories, with little protein or healthy fats,&rdquo Rizzo says. Someone following this type of diet will definitely get really bored with their food choices and will miss out of macronutrients, like protein and fat, she says.

The Dukan Diet was created by Pierre Dukan, a French medical doctor, in 2000. The Dukan Diet is designed to help your body achieve its "true weight," which is defined as a realistic weight you can attain and maintain for the rest of your life.

"While I'm all for reaching a healthy lifestyle that's maintainable in the long run, where this diet falls short on is that it neglects the set point theory of weight,&rdquo says Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN. It can be dangerous for someone with a history of disordered eating, she says.

Celebs like Melissa Joan Heart have been fans of this diet plan that involves eating a variety of pre-packaged meals. While Nutrisystem provides a quick fix for those who want to lose weight but don't want to cook or go grocery shopping, not all of these packaged foods provide a nutritionally balanced meal.

&ldquoConsuming a diet of calorie-controlled processed shakes, bars and meals will build up toxins within the body, and those preservatives are chemicals that can actually backfire and slow your metabolism down,&rdquo says Keith Kantor, PhD, a leading nutritionist and CEO of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating and Drinking (NAMED) program.

The pioneer of low-carb diets, Atkins promotes weight loss by restricting carbohydrates and sugar and loading up on protein.

&ldquoI've been a registered dietitian for 23 years, and I've yet to meet someone who lost weight on Atkins and permanently kept it off. Carb-phobia is rampant in America, but low-carb diets, like Atkins, are high in unhealthy processed meats and miss nutrient-dense foods like fruit, whole grains and beans,&rdquo says Harris-Pincus. The Atkins diet also lacks adequate fiber, which can have negative consequences on gut health and mood, she adds.

&ldquoMeal replacement shakes can lead to some initial weight loss due to their lower-calorie content, but they lack the nutrition of real food and are highly processed,&rdquo Harris-Pincus says. This usually leads to weight gain shortly after someone stops drinking the shakes. If shakes are your thing, Harris-Pincus recommends making your own smoothie with fruit and greens, plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, and a source of healthy fat like chia seeds, avocado or nut butter.

Jessica Biel, among others, are big fans of the paleo diet. But it prohibits numerous food groups including dairy, legumes, grains, potatoes, and refined sugar. "Many people have been successful following this plan, however, cutting out numerous food groups also eliminates many important nutrients,&rdquo Amidor says.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z tried going on the 22-Day Revolution by Marco Borges to improve their food choices, and while you'll eat plenty of vegetables, it&rsquos pretty restrictive. &ldquoIf you eliminate processed foods from your diet and eat only wholesome ones, you will lose weight. Although there is no calorie counting in this diet, the portions are pretty small and calories are low, especially for active people, says Amidor.

&ldquoThe theory behind this diet is that raw food is packed with natural enzymes and if they are cooked above 116°F, the heat will destroy most of the vitamins and phytonutrients,&rdquo Amidor says. Although weight loss is possible due to the elimination of processed food and a lower-calorie intake, cooked food has nutritional and safety benefits. For example, mushrooms and asparagus have more nutritional value when cooked. Baking and roasting vegetables enhances their natural flavors so you don't have to add too many other ingredients that can increase the number of calories consumed.

The Worst People For Your Diet

One of the most difficult barriers dieters face are folks who try to sabotage their weight loss efforts. These are the folks who will shove an over-sized piece of cake in your face at a party or insist on having fried food at every meal. Every dieter faces them your best defense is to be prepared.

Those sweet little ones can be a dieter's worst nightmare! Yelling for candy at the check-out aisle or insisting on eating chicken nuggets at every meal. Oftentimes you end up giving into their whining for processed foods and end up becoming the garbage disposal for their leftovers.

Your best defense: Both adults (dieting or not) and kids should be eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy foods. There are many deliciously healthy recipes that everyone can enjoy get the kids in the kitchen to help choose and prepare healthy recipes and the whole family will benefit.

There's always one office pal who brings in the basket of baked goodies, insisting on watching you eat it. Then there are office-mates who go in groups to pick up the latest fancy coffee drinks, some with no less than 350 calories a pop. And if you try and explain that you’re watching your weight—that's the center of conversation for the next 2 weeks.

Your best defense: Stick to your guns (and your plan)-- overcoming office buddies is all about mind over matter.

Some friends let jealously get in the way. Although they've been supportive when you were having a bad day, they can't stand the fact that you're losing weight and becoming healthier. They insist on lunching at the fattiest restaurants in town and guilt you into splitting a huge appetizer or dessert.

Your best defense: Get them to join in on your weight loss efforts or consider dropping them along with the weight to become emotionally and physically healthier.

You love your spouse, but they can just be mindless when it comes to your weight loss efforts. Instead of the gallon of nonfat milk and whole grain cereal on your shopping list, they come home with bags filled with whole fat milk, sugary cereals and everything else you're trying to keep out of sight.

Your best defense: Team up with your spouse and get healthier together.

I love my grandma, but she's always telling me to eat more and to put on more lipstick (not necessarily in that order), shoving chocolate kisses in my mouth every 10 minutes. And if your grandma's cooking anything like mine, you just can’t resist her high-fat signature dish.

Your best defense: Keep your relationship with grandma to phone calls and video chats while trying to lose weight. And when you do share a meal together, split a serving of grandma's best dish with a relative.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

Urban Legend?

Red Bull and other energy drinks don't claim to override alcohol's effects.

But energy drinks are often served with alcohol in night clubs, says Souza-Formigoni, who works in the psychobiology department of Brazil's Federal University of Sao Paolo.

"In Brazil, as in other countries, young people believe that Red Bull and other energy drinks [help them] avoid the sleepiness caused by alcoholic beverages and increase their capacity to dance all night," Souza-Formigoni says.


Her study included 26 healthy young men who were about 23 years old. In a lab, the men drank Red Bull, vodka, or Red Bull mixed with vodka. Each man drank one drink per session, waiting at least a week between sessions. The drinks looked and tasted the same, so no one could tell which was which.

The tests were done at midday in a lab. Before each test, the researchers fed each man a Big Mac, fries, and a soft drink. Afterward, the men got a snack of fruit juice, bread, cookies, and coffee before being taken home by taxi.

Best Diet for Healthy Eating

Along with the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) tied for first place on U.S. News&apos list of best diets for healthy eating. The DASH plan emphasizes produce, lean meats, low-sodium options, and foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. And it works: Scientists backed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute conducted studies to compare the DASH diet with a typical American diet. The results showed that the DASH diet lowered blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (that&aposs the "bad" cholesterol) in participants&apos blood.

‘Marked Difference’

“The findings conformed to our hypothesis but in fact it was surprising what a marked difference there was between the two drinks,” Rayner said, in the teleconference.

The small study only included men, so it’s not clear if the results apply to women. If the men had eaten before drinking, the results likely would have been smaller, Rayner notes.

“In many countries in recent years, there has been a great rise in sales of premixed alcoholic beverages,” Rayner says.

“These are usually sweetened flavored beverages, which are marketed particularly to young people. Women are particular targets in the marketing, and they’re precisely the group of people that are likely to be concerned about the number of calories they’re consuming,” he says.


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