Saturday, August 30, 2014

the Kaiser hot dog diet

This summer I tried an experimental diet: no cookies, no cake, and hot dogs are OK as long as you ride your bicycle to get one.  It became a joke and I feel like I lost some fat but I didn't lose any weight.  I would say I tried this diet for the entire months of July and August.  I also had a misconception in my head that eating a 4-4-9 ratio of carbs-protein-fat would be the best for a steady stream of energy.  This was a mis-association on my part.  It's more likely that ratio came from the fact that carbs and protein provide about 4 Calories per gram and fat provides about 9 Calories per gram.  It's difficult to look at your food and see how many grams of protein, carbs and fat it contributes, and even more difficult to do the calculation in your head before you eat a meal to be sure you're eating balanced ratios of carbs, protein and fat.

I used to assemble some nutritional information for some of the hot dogs I ate in my hot dog experiment.  Beginning with the USDA guidelines for the percentages of our diet that should come from fat, protein, and carbs and then assuming that a person consumes 2000 Calories per day, I arrived at the number of Calories that should be consumed from fat, protein, and carbs.  Then I used the 4-4-9 information regarding the Calorie density of carbs-protein-fat to calculate the grams of each that should be consumed per day by an average adult.  Then I looked up the grams of carbs, protein, and fat in various hot dogs and calculated how much of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) each hot dog provided in each category of macronutrient (fat, protein, carbs).

After all that, I got to thinking, "hot dogs are salty."  Many people have trouble with high levels of salt.  I wondered how much salt was in each hot dog.  It turns out the Costco hot dog is the saltiest by almost double the other hot dogs.  Although young people can process 2.3 g of sodium a day, older Americans (beyond age 50) are not recommended to exceed 1.5 grams of sodium.  Therefore the Costco hot dog should be off limits for older people.  The Costco hot dog is OK if you are only eating 2 meals a day, but although inexpensive, it is not a great source of energy compared with other choices like vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

So my misconception was that I thought 4-4-9 was the balance of carbs-protein-fat that people should consume.  I didn't know if that was in terms of grams or Calories.  What I learned is that 4-4-9 is the ratio in Calories if one is to consume energy equally in grams from all three energy sources, which is not what is recommended.  What might be possibly more useful is knowning that the USDA recommends a 6-3-11 ratio of fat-protein-carbs in terms of Calories.  I used to count calories using the Weight Watchers points system.  It simplifies the point value of each food and allows a participant a specific number of points per day.  You also get a credit in the formula for increased dietary fiber in your foods.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan shown above seems better than a "crash" diet. The hot dog diet is also known as the Kaiser hot dog diet and the Navy diet or the 3-day diet. It promises you will lose 10 pounds in 3 days by eating ice cream and hot dogs (without the bun). Crash diets are NEVER recommended. DASH recommendations seem simple to follow. In a study of 810 participants, over the course of 18 months, participants lost weight and improved their blood pressure. It is never a good idea to strive for short-term weight loss. Giving yourself plenty of time to see results is a safer course of action.