Chicago Weight Loss and Functional Health Blog 

Latest News From Dr. Thakkar

By Delila Causevic 25 Sep, 2017
By Delila Causevic 22 Sep, 2017
Learn about the HCG diet for weight loss
By Dr. Anand Thakkar 19 Oct, 2016

1. Nutrition-  Get grass fed meats and drink a protein shake instead of unhealthy snacks during the day.

2. Lifestyle-  Make sure to get enough sleep. The optimal number is eight hours each night! This will ensure a full recovery from the day before.

3. Workout - Combine cardio on treadmill for 20 minutes each day, with strength-training using dumb bells. If you want to combine cardio and strength training in the same exercise, do some burpies.

By Dr. Anand Thakkar 19 Oct, 2016
1)   Have a Cleaning Spree  – Serious cleaning around the house can result in some serious fat burning results. Bonus ideas are cleaning the windows or vacuuming. Put on some music, and work away!

2)  Replace Your Chair with a Stability Ball  – This one is one of my favorites as a stability ball can be a great replacement for an office or desk chair, and sitting on one while you work will engage a whole bunch of core and back muscles

3) Walk to Work  – A simple solution, but when you tight on time for a workout, a good, fast-paced walk will burn a lot of calories and give your metabolism a pretty decent boost for the day.

4)  Take the Stairs  – I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but taking the stairs rather than the elevator is a great way to enhance your metabolism and burn off a lot more fat!

5)  Cook a Big Dinner  – Believe it or not, cooking is a good exercise. It keeps you on your feet, and it keeps you moving. Cook with metabolism boosting foods like Nutiva Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil, and you’re doubling your results!

6)  Stand While You Work  – While it’s not practical for everyone, standing at your desk or while you work burns a lot more calories than sitting. If you have to sit, at least try to move around as much as you can.

7) Do Yoga Every Morning  – Starting your day with a quick yoga routine is a great way to boost your metabolism for the day. 

8)  Play a Game of Pool or Go Bowling – Next time you’re out with friends, consider playing a game of pool or going bowling. Neither may not seem like the most strenuous of exercises, but in a single game you can burn up a hundred calories or more.

9) E njoy the Sauna  – Saunas and steam rooms are a great way to burn off some extra calories and fat. By working up a serious sweat, you’ll burn up to 80 calories or so in under 30 minutes.

10)  Take a Class – Whether it’s a spin class, kickboxing class, or even a meditation class, all of them will get you out of the house away from temptations and shifting your focus on learning something good.

11)  Walk Your Dog  – Dog-walking is great exercise. Not only does it get you moving, your dog’s probably going to keep you moving at a decent, fat-burning pace! Take a frisbee or a tennis ball and play active fetch with your puppy to really get you moving and keep it fun for him as well.

12)   Wash Your Car  – This is actually one of my favorite things to do, and it’s a great little workout. Burn up to 200 calories while you clean up your ride and activate all your core muscles while doing so. For instance, when you’re getting down to clean the wheels use a squat position and really flex your abs.

13)  Take Up Gardening  – Getting outdoors is always a good starting point when it comes to staying active and fit. With all that reaching, bending, and squatting, gardening is actually a fantastic way to burn fat and once again is great for activating all your core muscles and thighs when you are getting down in the squat position.

14)  Take Up a Lunch-Time Sport  – Something as simple as pick-up basketball can burn a lot of fat in 30 minutes, offering a total body workout that will also keep you social!

15)  Go for a Swim  – Swimming can offer a pretty serious little workout. My advice? Replace your typical cardio workout with a swim at least once a week. You’ll notice some amazing results when it comes to burning fat and conditioning your muscles.

16) Get It On  – Of all the fat-burning strategies in your repertoire, why not try this? Sex can burn more than 200 calories especially when you try different positions with your partner. For added boost of hormones do this after a good workout!

17)  Stretch   – Even if all you have time for is a good serious of stretches, you’ll still burn more fat and calories than you would have without any exercise. Stretching and flexibility training are actually a great way to boost metabolism and condition your muscles. 

18)  Get Your Bike Out of Storage   – If you have a bike, start using it, or consider investing in one. Cycling is a totally effective way to burn fat, and it will improve your overall well-being and mood. Often times you’ll find you are exploring areas of your city that you would have never seen otherwise and nothing screams tight butt muscles than a good cyclist

19)  Bring a Frisbee to the Beach   – Remember, all physical activity improves your fat loss results, and playing Frisbee is no exception. It’s an easy thing to pack in your beach bag, and it’s a lot of fun!

20)  Cut the Grass   – Yard work actually offers a pretty intense workout, and you’ll burn a lot of fat in the process. If you don’t have your own yard, consider doing a favor for a friend on the weekend.

By Dr. Anand Thakkar 14 Oct, 2016

Vitamin mistake #1:   You take a dose that’s too low.   There are many ­nutrient-nutrient interactions that can reduce the absorption of individual ­nutrients by 5% to 10%.   Example:   Iron cuts the absorption of zinc—the more iron in a supplement, the less zinc you’re likely to absorb.

My advice:   Don’t take a multivitamin that supplies 100% of the “Daily Value” of nutrients, a level intended only to prevent deficiency diseases. Instead, take a multivitamin that supplies an   optimal amount of nutrients—an amount that will easily overcome every absorption issue caused by nutrient-nutrient interactions.

For simplicity, use the B-vitamins as your reference point. Look for a product that supplies about 40 milligrams (mg) each of thiamin, ­riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and 200 ­micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12. These levels are safe   and   therapeutic, improving energy and mental clarity. When a product contains the above levels of these nutrients, it usually will have optimal levels of other nutrients as well.

Vitamin mistake #2:   You take a dose that’s too high.   It can be detrimental to your health to take high doses of vitamin A and vitamin E.   Reasons:   Taking more than 3,000 international units (IU) of vitamin A (retinol) daily can increase your risk for osteoporosis, the bone-eroding disease. Vitamin E actually is a family of eight compounds called   tocopherols   and ­ tocotrienols . Alpha-tocopherol—the compound commonly found in multivitamins—can be toxic in doses higher than 100 IU daily.

My advice:   Take a multivitamin that contains no more than 3,000 IU of vitamin A total, with approximately one-half from retinol and one-half from beta-carotene (which turns into vitamin A in the body and does not cause ­osteoporosis).

Choose a multivitamin with no more than 100 IU of vitamin E. If you take the nutrient as a separate supplement for a specific condition, such as for breast tenderness, take it in the form of mixed tocopherols and ­tocotrienols.  

Vitamin mistake #3:   You try to take vitamins two or three times a day.   Taking vitamins in divided
doses—two or even three times a day—is ideal ­because the body sustains higher blood levels of the nutrients. But very few people can stick with this type of ­regimen.

My advice:   Take vitamins first thing in the morning, with breakfast. (The fat in the meal will help you absorb vitamins A, D and E, which are fat-soluble.) Yes, there’s a tiny trade-off of effectiveness for convenience, but it’s worth it.

Exception:   If you take magnesium as a separate supplement, you might want to take it at bedtime for deeper sleep. Avoid magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide, both of which are poorly absorbed. Magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate is preferred.

Vitamin mistake #4:   You take a ­second-rate formulation.   Vitamins come in a range of forms—tablets, caplets, capsules, chewables, softgels, liquids, powders—and some are better than others.

Vitamin tablets, for example, are a poor choice. They may not dissolve completely—and you can’t absorb any nutrients from a pill that doesn’t dissolve. Tablets (and some of the other forms listed above) also may contain binders, fillers and other additives. These supposedly “inert” compounds may have all kinds of unknown effects on the body.

My advice:   I recommend powders, which are highly absorbable. Just add water and stir. My favorite is the Energy Revitalization System, from Enzymatic Therapy, which I formulated. (So that I can’t be accused of profiting from my recommendation, I donate 100% of my royalties from sales to charity.) I recommend one scoop each morning combined with 5 grams of ribose (a naturally occurring sugar) to optimize energy.

Don’t like drinks? Try a combination of My Favorite Multiple Take One by Natrol plus two tablets of Jigsaw Sustained Release Magnesium plus two chewable ribose tablets (2 grams to 3 grams each).

Vitamin mistake #5:   You take calcium.   One-third of people who take supplements take calcium—and I think just about every one of those people is making a mistake. The scientific evidence shows that taking a calcium supplement provides little or no protection against bone fractures, and research now links calcium supplements to increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.

My advice:   I strongly recommend that you get your calcium from   food , eating one or two servings of dairy a day. Almonds, broccoli and green leafy vegetables such as kale also are good calcium sources. Unlike supplemental calcium, calcium from food is safe. If you decide to take a calcium supplement for stronger bones, take no more than 100 mg to 200 mg daily, and always combine it with other bone-supporting nutrients, such as vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K. Take these at night to help sleep.

The diabetes drug metformin,   which can cause a B-12 deficiency.

What to do:   Metformin is an excellent medication, but be sure to take a multivitamin containing at least 200 mcg of B-12 daily.

Proton pump inhibitors   such as Nexium ( esomeprazole ), which block the production of stomach acid and are prescribed for heartburn, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems. Long-term use can cause deficiencies of magnesium and B-12.

What to do:   Take a multivitamin with 200 mcg of B-12 and additional magnesium (200 mg daily)—and talk to your doctor about getting off the drug. (A gradual decrease in dosage is safest.) Proton pump inhibitors are toxic when used long term and addictive, causing rebound acid hyper-secretion when stopped. The solution? Improve digestion using plant-based digestive enzymes, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), marshmallow root and other stomach-healing supplements. Follow directions on the labels.

By Dr. Anand Thakkar 11 Oct, 2016

For the human body to complete all the tasks it has in a normal day, it must be given a wide and complex variety of vital nutrients. Becoming deficient in any one of these essential vitamins or minerals causes breakdown of the metabolic pathway that produces optimum efficiency and performance goes down quick. Obviously, this is NOT what you want!

Making sure you take a high-potency multivitamin/multi-mineral formula may help ensure the presence of those essential nutrients necessary for thousands of metabolic reactions.

Bodybuilders, athletes, and people that lead active lifestyles need even more nutrients than the average non-active person. So if you think that just grabbing the first one you see on the shelf is going to work for you, think again. Multivitamins are excellent for everyone and especially for busy people. Later this week we will discuss further as to why some multivitamins are better than others and why some are absorbed by your body easier than others.

By Dr. Anand Thakkar 03 Oct, 2016
1) Artificial Food Dyes: 

Where it's found: Cereals, baked goods, candy, sports drinks, soda, macaroni and cheese, and more

Why it's bad: Dyes might make your food look pretty, but they're made from chemicals derived from  petroleum , and in case you didn't know, that's also used to make gasoline, diesel, and tar. If it fuels your car, it shouldn't fuel you.

2) Farmed Salmon: 

Why it's bad: If you're doubling up your salmon intake because of all the amazing health benefits of those omega-3 fatty acids, you need to consider if you're buying wild caught or farm-raised. Farmed salmon are raised on an unnatural diet of grains, antibiotics, and other drugs, leaving the fish with gray flesh, which is then pinkened with  synthetic astaxanthin  made from petrochemicals.

3) Brominated Vegetable Oil: 

Where it's found: Sports drinks and citrus flavored soda

Why it's bad: The main ingredient is a  poisonous chemical  that is toxic and corrosive to the body, having been linked to organ system damage, birth defects, schizophrenia, and more (if those weren't terrifying enough).

4) Olestra

Where it's found: Fat-free potato chips and French fries

Why it's bad: Lower calorie counts aren't always worth it when the product is made with cooking oil substitute  Olestra , which inhibits your bodys ability to absorb vitamins.

5) Azodicarbonamide

Where it's found: Frozen dinners, boxed pasta, packaged baked goods, various breads

Why it's bad: This chemical, which helps bleach flour quickly, is also used in foamed plastics, and has been linked to  asthma .

6) Synthetic Hormones (rBGH and rBST) 

Where it's found: Milk and dairy products

Why it's bad: You've probably heard about the dangers of synthetic hormones by now, so it's borderline insane that they're still legal in the United States. Cows treated with them can become infertile and develop inflamed udders, so if we think humans are immune to the effects, we're wrong. The hormones have been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancer , so it's definitely not something to mess around with.

7) BHA & BHT

Where it's found: Cereal, gum, butter, meat, mixed nuts

Why it's bad: They help keep food from becoming rancid, which is good in theory, but these chemicals have been proven to cause cancer in  rats , and the risk of causing cancer in humans is not one worth taking.

8) Arsenic

Where it's found: Poultry

Why it's bad: Arsenic  in chicken feed promotes growth and boosts pigmentation, which in turn makes the chicken flesh look much more pink (and probably appear healthier), but it's anything but. Arsenic is classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, so eat at your own risk.

9) Potassium Bromate

Where it's found: Wraps, rolls, flatbread, bagel chips, breadcrumbs

Why it's bad: Made with the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil, brominated flour helps with  decreasing baking time and cost , but is the convenience worth the risk of kidney damage, cancer, and nervous system damage?


By Dr. Anand Thakkar 03 Oct, 2016

"Protein is a macronutrient necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. There is considerable debate over the amount of protein a person needs to consume per day, the current recommended daily intake (RDI) for protein is 46 grams for women aged 19-70, and 56 grams for men aged 19-70. Any excess protein is turned into energy by the body, and it is controversial whether this excess protein causes a strain on the liver.

A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the human body in general.

High protein foods include meat, fish, cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  Below is a list of foods with the highest protein to calorie ratio, for more information, see the sections on protein dense foods, other protein rich foods, low calorie high protein snacks, and protein isolates .

1: Fish (Cod, Tuna, Salmon)  Other fish high in protein per fillet(3oz or 85g):  Tuna (22g), Salmon (22g), Halibut (22g), Snapper (22g), Perch(21g), Flounder and Sole (21g), Cod (20g), Tilapia (17g).

2: Cheese (Non-fat Mozzarella)  Other cheese high in protein per ounce(28g):  Low-fat Cottage Cheese (5g), Low-fat Swiss Cheese (8g), Low-fat Cheddar (6g), Parmesan (10g), Romano (9g).  *Low or Non Fat Mozzarella and Cottage Cheese provide the most protein per calorie, full fat cheeses typically only provide 1g protein per 20 calories, and are less optimal sources of protein.

3: Lean Turkey and Chicken (Turkey Breast)  More Chicken and Turkey:  Chicken Leg - Drumsticks (60g) provides 16g protein. Chicken Thigh (37g) provides 9g protein. 3oz serving of Chicken Breast (85grams) provides 14g protein.

4: Lean Beef and Veal (Low Fat) T-Bone Steak 3oz (28g) provides 19g of protein, 1 Piece of Beef Jerky (20g) provides 7g of protein.

5: Pork Loin (Chops) Sirloin Roast 3oz (28g) provides 23g of protein, Ham 3oz (28g) provides 18g of protein, 1 slice of bacon (8g) provides 3g of protein. 

6: Tofu  cup (252g) of firm tofu provides 20g protein. 1 cup of soft tofu (248g) provides 16g protein. 1 cup of tempeh (166g) provides 31g protein.

7: Beans (Mature Soy Beans)  Other beans high in protein per cup cooked:  Kidney Beans (17g), White Beans (17g), Lima Beans (15g), Fava Beans (14g), Black Beans (15g), Mung Beans (14g)

8: Yogurt, Milk, and Soymilk 1 cup skim milk (245g) provides 8g protein, 1 cup soymilk (243g) provides 8g protein.

9: Eggs (Especially Egg Whites) 1 Egg White (33g) provides 4g protein, 1g protein to 4.4 calories. 1 cup of scrambled eggs (220g) provides 22g protein. 

10: Nuts and Seeds (Pumpkin, Squash, and Watermelon Seeds)  Other nuts and seeds high in protein (grams protein per ounce (28g)): Peanuts (7g), Almonds (6g), Pistachios (6g), Sunflower Seeds (6g), Flaxseed (5g), Mixed Nuts (4g)"


By Dr. Anand Thakkar 03 Oct, 2016

"Protein is essential to good health. The very origin of the word — from the Greek  protos , meaning “first” — reflects protein’s top-shelf status in human nutrition. You need it to put meat on your bones and to make hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes, and more. It’s common for athletes and bodybuilders to wolf down extra protein to bulk up. But the message the rest of us often get is that we’re eating too much protein.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.

To determine your RDA for protein, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, or  use this online protein calculator . For a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary (doesn’t exercise), that translates into 53 grams of protein a day.

But use of the RDA to set daily protein targets has actually caused a lot of confusion. “There’s a misunderstanding not only among the public, but also somewhat in our profession about the RDA,” says Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “People in general think we all eat too much protein.”

Rodriguez was among more than 40 nutrition scientists who gathered in Washington, D.C., for a “Protein Summit” to discuss research on protein and human health. The summit was organized and sponsored by beef, egg, and other animal-based food industry groups, but it also generated a set of scientific reports that were independently published a  special supplement to the June issue of the  American   Journal of Clinical Nutrition  (AJCN).

Protein: Is more better?

For a relatively active adult, eating enough protein to meet the RDA would supply as little as 10% of his or her total daily calories. In comparison, the average American consumes around 16% of his or her daily calories in the form of protein, from both plant and animal sources.

The Protein Summit reports in  AJCN  argue that 16% is anything but excessive. In fact, the reports suggest that Americans may eat too little protein, not too much. The potential benefits of higher protein intake, these researchers argue, include preserving muscle strength despite aging and maintaining a lean, fat-burning physique. Some studies described in the summit reports suggest that protein is more effective if you space it out over the day’s meals and snacks, rather than loading up at dinner like many Americans do.

Based on the totality of the research presented at the summit, Rodriguez estimates that taking in up to twice the RDA of protein “is a safe and good range to aim for.” This equates roughly to 15% to 25% of total daily calories, although it could be above or below this range depending on your age, sex, and activity level. That range fits nicely into the recommendation from the  current Dietary Guidelines for Americans  that we get 10% to 35% of daily calories from protein.

What should you do?

Research on the optimal amount of protein to eat for good health is ongoing, and is far from settled. The value of high-protein diets for weight loss or cardiovascular health, for example, remains controversial.

Before you start packing in more protein, there are a few important things to consider. For one, don’t read “get more protein” as “eat more meat.” Beef, poultry, and pork (as well as milk, cheese, and eggs) can certainly provide high-quality protein, but so can many plant foods — including whole grains, beans and other legumes, nuts, and vegetables. The table below provides some good sources of protein.

It’s also important to consider the protein “package” — the fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that invariably come along with protein. Aim for protein sources low in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates and rich in many nutrients.

One more thing: if you increase protein, dietary arithmetic demands that you eat less of other things to keep your daily calorie intake steady. The switches you make can affect your nutrition, for better or for worse. For example, eating more protein instead of low-quality refined carbohydrates, like white bread and sweets, is a healthy choice — though how healthy the choice is also depends on the total protein package.

“If you are not eating much fish and you want to increase that — yes, that might improve the overall nutrient profile that would subsequently improve your health,” says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “But I think the data are pretty strong against significantly increasing red meat, and certainly processed meat, to get protein.”

If weight  loss  is your main concern, trying a higher-protein diet is reasonable, but don’t expect it to be a panacea. “Patients come to me all the time asking if more protein will help them in weight loss,” McManus says. “I tell them the verdict is still out. Some studies support it, some studies don’t.”"


Good sources of protein

Food Protein (grams)
3 ounces tuna, salmon, haddock, or trout 21
3 ounces cooked turkey or chicken 19
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt 17
½ cup cottage cheese 14
½ cup cooked beans 8
1 cup of milk 8
1 cup cooked pasta 8
¼ cup or 1 ounce of nuts (all types) 7
1 egg

Source:   USDA National Nutrient Database , 2015

By Dr. Anand Thakkar 17 Sep, 2016

 "We know almonds taste great and they’re chock-full of protein and healthy fats. But can nuts actually help with weight loss?

The most common claim about almonds as a weight-loss tool is that they’re satiating, meaning they can prevent overeating. This study found that among dieters, those who supplemented their diets with  almonds lost more weight  than those who supplemented their diets with complex carbs.

And this study found that subjects who snacked on almonds every day  didn’t gain any weight , even though they consumed hundreds of extra calories daily from the almonds. The scientists behind the study believe that’s because the almonds kept them from feeling hungry between meals.

Another possible reason almonds may be good for weight loss? Research has revealed that  not all of almonds’ calories are absorbed  by the body. Scientists believe that almonds may actually contain about 20-30 percent fewer calories than nutritional labels indicate because the rigidity of their cell makeup doesn’t allow for absorption.

Almonds are full of protein and research has shown that the nutrient is helpful for weight loss. One study found that a high-protein diet can  boost metabolism , and another study found that protein has  appetite-suppressing effects .

I definitely find almonds satisfying, and I’m a total believer in the power of protein.

 I’m not surprised that studies show eating almonds helps prevent overeating at meals and keeps calories in check. They’re a great, filling, healthy snack.

With that in mind, though, it’s important to remember that calories count. Since almonds are high in fat, they contain a lot of calories:. An ounce of almonds (about 23 nuts) has around 160 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein.

Those little almonds definitely add up! If you’re eating handfuls mindlessly throughout the day, you could be consuming more calories than you want. Don’t outweigh the benefits of almonds by eating too many of them.

The best way to use almonds as part of a weight-loss plan is to incorporate them into your meals and snacks in moderation. Carry a 100-calorie pack of almonds in your bag and whenever a snack attack hits, eat them instead of grabbing something from the vending machine. You’ll be amazed at how full almonds make you feel. Just remember to replace other snack foods with almonds. Don’t eat them in addition to everything else you’d eat in a day.

Enjoy these almond tips:

  • Snack on whole almonds. Several brands, like Blue Diamond, make 100-calorie packs of almonds and they even come in fun flavors. Rather DIY? You can have about 14 almonds for 100 calories.
  • Use sliced almonds on everything from  salads  to yogurt parfaits. They’re a great way to add flavor and crunch without adding a lot of calories. Just watch those portions. Each tablespoon has about 35 calories.


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