- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Nov. 18, 2010
Junk food diet for weight loss?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
It's an age old question, "What's the best way to lose weight?" A professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University is trying to answer this question. He just finished a 10-week junk food diet of chocolate-covered snacks, cream-filled cakes, sugary cereals, cookies and chips. For good measure, each day he also threw in a protein shake, a few veggies and a vitamin/mineral supplement. He's posted his results on Facebook.
I confirmed the nutrient analysis of a sample daily menu of this junk food diet from his Facebook page:
- 1,600 calories (he tries to stay under 1,800 calories a day)
- 232 grams carbohydrate (56 percent of total calories)
- 60 grams fat (33 percent of calories)
- 44 grams protein (11 percent of calories)
- 25 grams saturated fat (14 percent of calories)
- 110 mg cholesterol
- 1,290 mg sodium
Here's my professional take on this junk food diet:
- Calories. He's eating 800 to 1,000 calories a day fewer than what he needs.
- Diet type. The percentages of carbohydrate, protein and fat classify this diet as "balanced" in these three energy-providing nutrients. It's not a high-protein diet.
- Nutrient quality. It's anything but balanced. His food choices leave much to be desired. Carbs are mostly sugar. Saturated fat is double that recommended by experts. Protein is mostly from refined grain, although a glass of milk and a protein shake also provide protein. The main source of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients is a multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Preliminary medical results are rolling in and are looking good:
- A 27-pound weight loss over 10 weeks
- Body mass index now in the normal range (24.9)
- Total body fat reduced from 33.4 to 24.9 percent (between 18 and 24 percent is good for men)
- Total cholesterol reduced from 214 to 184 mg/dL (less than 200 is desirable)
- LDL "bad" cholesterol went from 153 to 123 mg/dL (less than 100 is optimal)
- HDL "good" cholesterol went from 37 to 46 mg/dL (60 or more is the target)
How can this be? He's eating junk!
Being overweight and "over-fat" are linked to high LDL and total cholesterol and to low HDL cholesterol. In contrast, a leaner body composition allows for improvement in blood fats. Similarly, other health markers such as blood sugar and blood pressure tend to improve with weight loss.
This experiment is great confirmation for the calorie equation: Eat fewer calories than you need, and you lose pounds and your health parameters improve. However, the long-term effects of this type of weight-loss diet remain unclear, as the professor candidly admits.
I agree with the professor's comment that "there seems to be a disconnect between eating healthy and being healthy." He reflects that before he started this diet he was eating healthy but he wasn't healthy — now he's eating unhealthy but has better health parameters.
I see his point, but I can't endorse eating unhealthy in order to become healthier. My bottom line: Calorie restriction is fine but cut the junk calories not the nutrient-packed ones. What are your thoughts?
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