- 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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March 27, 2013
Calories reconsidered: Old assumptions questioned
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
This week's topic is calories. It seems that predicting the number of calories you need to cut — or to burn — to lose weight is being questioned. Furthermore, the number of calories thought to be in foods may or may not be what's actually in the food. Let's look a bit deeper.
Calories and weight loss
The traditional calorie calculation goes like this: 1 pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories. So if you decrease your intake — or burn — 500 calories a day, you should lose 1 pound a week (500 x 7 = 3,500).
Although this equation works mathematically, researchers are noticing that it doesn't seem to work as well in the messier real world.
Nutrition experts agree that many factors — in addition to calories — affect the rate of weight loss. These include your genetics, your metabolic rate, what your body is losing (fat, muscle or water), how your body adjusts to fewer calories and more exercise, and even how much sleep you get. All these factors can alter the prediction of weight loss. And that makes it difficult to predict how fast you or anyone else will lose weight.
Calories in food
Also being questioned is the century-old Atwater method for calculating the number of calories found in foods according to their carbohydrate protein and fat contents. It's long been thought that if you know the grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat in a food you can get a fairly good estimate of the total calories in that food. So, for example, 1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories — knowing how many grams of each are in the food, you can estimate the total calories.
However, food and nutrition experts are having to rethink this assumption. It appears that the Atwater method overestimates the number of calories in a food or mixed diet by as much as 25 percent compared to more precise measurements that mimic what a person may actually digest, absorb and metabolize. If that's the case — and that hasn't been proven yet — it may mean that food labels and tables listing calorie content of foods might be off.
These questions fascinate nutrition experts, who welcome reexamination of old assumptions. But what does it mean if you're trying to educate people about losing weight? What does it mean when your attempt to lose weight isn't as easy or speedy as you'd like? Be reassured that the age-old recommendation to "eat less and exercise more" is still in effect. Steady, life-long commitment remains important.
What are your thoughts?
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