The Science of Nutrition


The most important step you can take to reduce your risk of cartilage damage is body weight reduction. The stress on your joints is governed by your mass (F=ma). Carrying extra pounds increases stress on the knee, which is more vulnerable to the effects of being overweight than any other joint.

Diet, nutrition and weight loss have proven to be effective aspects of treatment for those living with arthritis and joint pain. Messier et al. reported the findings of weight loss in the osteoarthritic population. The Arthritis, Diet and Activity Promotion Trial (ADAPT) demonstrated that a 10% weight loss in the overweight arthritic population elicits positive changes by lowering joint compression during walking. The study clearly showed that weight loss is a controllable factor and should be considered a primary treatment option for the degenerative knee.

An Australian group studied the correlation between weight and arthritis in more than 39,000 people. They found that the heavier a person was, the more likely that hip or knee replacement would be required within the next 10 years. The association between weight and joint replacement was especially strong for the knees. There' continues to be emerging evidence that being overweight or obese increases the rate at which cartilage is lost from the knee; extensive cartilage loss causes osteoarthritis.

Extra weight appears to harm the knees in two ways. First, the extra biomechanical stress adds pressure to the knee. Second, excess fat in the body releases inflammatory agents such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 6, and other compounds that may contribute to cartilage breakdown and arthritis.

The latest data from the Center for disease control reveals that sixty-four percent of U.S. adults age 20 years or older are overweight or obese. Perhaps that is why over half of Americans are on a “diet” at any given time. Overweight and Obesity rates are at an all time high. Obesity related deaths are now creeping up towards the number of annual deaths due to smoking. Obesity has significant health risks such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Increased joint pain
  • High total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

If you are overweight or obese loosing just 10% of your total body weight can significantly improve your health. This nutrition section will provide you with the basic principles behind weight loss and keeping the pounds off. This section is not about any specific “diet.” Dieting refers to something that you go on and off of. This section is about making healthy lifestyle changes to better your health. For most adults making changes will result in weight loss but more importantly weight maintenance, the ultimate goal once you reach your healthy weight.

Assessing your weight

A healthy weight is a weight range that decreases your risk for heath problems like diabetes and heart disease; It is not necessarily the lowest weight you think you should be-or what you were in high school. Healthy weights are different for everyone. The methods below are used by health professionals use to determine healthy weight ranges for adults.

Quick Reference Method:

After you find your median number, calculate your healthy weight range by first subtracting 10% from the median number. Now add 10% to the median number. This will by your healthy weight range.

Example: If a mans height is 6’2” than his median number would be {(106 + (6x 14) =190} His weight range would be 190 + and – 10% which equals (171 pounds – 209 pounds)

Body Mass Index (BMI):

BMI is a method used to determine whether you are at a healthy weight, overweight or obese.

Use this quick formula to determine your BMI. You will need to know your weight in pounds and height in inches.

***To use the table, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column. Move across the row to the given weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI for that height and weight.

Assess your BMI online at:

Where you carry your body fat makes a difference to your health

How we store fat on our bodies affects our risk for weight-related health problems. People are categorized into two shapes: Apples (carrying excess abdominal fat) or Pears (carrying excess gluteofemoral).

Apple shapes tend to carry fat around their mid-section, close to the heart and other internal organs. Body fat accumulation around the stomach area is a greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and certain types of cancers. Males are more prone to be apple shaped than women. Pear Shapes carry fat around the hips and thighs. Women are more likely to be pear shaped. However, that shape can change during any stage of your life.

Smoking and drinking too many alcoholic beverages can increase fat stores around the stomach in both men and women.

To find out if you are apple or pear and how to measure your waist circumference please visit:


Calorie Intake and Energy

Calories 101:

A calorie is a simple way to measure energy. We get energy in the form of calories from the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. The energy our bodies burn during daily activity and exercises are also measured in calories. Calories (energy) comes from thee major nutrients found in every food. Each of the three major nutrients provides different numbers of calories per gram.

Major Nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates: contain 4 calories per gram
  • Protein: contains 4 calories per gram
  • Fat: contains 9 calories per gram
  • Water, Vitamins, Minerals: do not contain calories

Non Nutrients:

Alcohol: contains 7 calories per gram

Most foods have a combination of the three major nutrients but foods are categorized by the most predominant nutrient. For example, a bagel and a piece of bread are considered carbohydrate foods even though they contain some protein and fat. A pork chop is considered a protein even though it also contains calories from fat.

Choosing nutrient dense foods:

There are a ton of light and low fat foods that contain little to no nutrient value but provide plenty of calories and sugar. We call these foods “empty calories”. Empty calorie foods do not help with satiety and their caloric value can add up quickly when consumed out of proportion.

“Empty” Calorie Foods:

  • Sugary foods such as candy (gummy worms, Twizzlers, hard candy)
  • Baked Chips
  • Fat free cookies and crackers
  • Regular Soda
  • Sugary drinks such as lemonade, sweet tea, and fruit punch

Nutrient Dense foods provide many essential nutrients while providing minimal calories. Nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy should make up the bulk of foods in your diet.

Example: 1 orange contains only 60 calories but provides three grams of dietary fiber, 100% daily value of Vitamin C, folic acid and other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Nutrient Dense Foods:

Fruits Vegetables Whole grains Reduced fat dairy products

Portion distortion:

Portion sizes have more than doubled over the past 20 years. The average bakery bagel shown below has grown from three inches in diameter to five or six inches on average.

Restaurants meals, fast food meals and convenience foods have all jumped on the bandwagon with the emphasis of more food for your money. This makes sense by all means, but next time you’re at a restaurant or eating on the go use these principles to make the most of your money and your meals:

  • When ordering at a restaurant, ask for a to go box early, that way you can split a dinner into two meals and have lunch ready for the next day.
  • Make individual serving sizes out of processed foods. Take 10 minutes to count out portions of crackers and pretzels and put them in zip lock bags. Stuff them back in the original box and have ready to grab portion sizes.
  • Think like a kid. Order from the kids menu when you’re craving fried foods. You will consume fewer calories and save money.

Eat more weigh less: Which 1600 calories would you like to consume in one day?

For more information and to take the portiodistortion quiz click here:


Principled Weight Control

While portions have increased over the years the amount of exercise Americans achieve on a daily basis has diminished significantly, causing an excess in calories consumed. Weight loss is not magic, but it is indeed math. The basic principle behind weight loss is:

Calories consumed vs. calories used

Weight Gain: Calories Consumed > Calories Used. Caloric surplus means more fat

Weight Loss: Calories Consumed < Calories Used. Caloric deficit means less fat

No Weight Change: Calories Consumed = Calories Used

Calories consumed: the foods we eat and the beverages we drink

Calories used: exercise, activity and the rate at which our body burns calories (metabolism) If we take in more calories than we burn the result will be weight gain. If we burn more calories than we take in the result will be weight loss.

Knowing how many calories you need per day: Individual calorie needs vary from person to person depending on a person’s basil metabolic rate (BMR), age, size, weight, gender and activity level. There are several different ways to determine calorie levels but the chart below is a quick reference guide for you to determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.

*Calorie levels are based on the Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) and activity levels from the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes Macronutrient Report, (2002). Sedentary: less than 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities Mod. Active: at least 30-60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities. Active: 60 or more minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.

To customize your calorie needs enter your information on this website.

These will be the calories needed for WEIGHT MAINTENANCE. Read on for weight loss and to predict your correct calorie level for weight loss

Subtracting calories for weight loss:

There are 3,500 calories in one pound of pure body fat. If you divide 3500 by 7 days of the week the result is 500 calories. If you subtract 500 calories per day from what you currently consume the end result will be weight loss of 1 pound per week.

If you wanted to loose 1.5 pound per week you would need to subtract 750 calories per day. To loose 2 pounds per week you would need to subtract 1000 calories per day.

Key point to remember: A faster rate of weight loss may lead to weight regain and the yo-yo dieting cycle. A healthy weight loss and a more stable rate is 1-2 pounds per week. The more calories you cut from your daily intake, the harder it may be to stick to your plan. If you try to cut too many calories, you may not loose weight at all. Our bodies can backfire and store calories instead of burning them if we feed our bodies too few calories (lower than 1200 calories). Our bodies revert to what we call “preservation mode”, where it stores the few calories we are eating to preserve energy for later use.

How to subtract 500 calories per day:

The calories you are cutting may come from food alone, exercise alone, or food and exercise combined.

For more information about the calorie contents of fast foods, restaurant meals and other foods you consume visit

A Non-diet approach to healthy weight loss:

Remember dieting is a term referring to temporary time period or something you go off of. Most Professionals agree that making small but significant changes to your daily intake is a healthy way to approach weight loss. Reducing your daily caloric intake by 20% can help you slowly lose weight and keep it off for good.

Step One:

If you are maintaining your current weight here is a quick way to estimate daily calorie needs

Example: Becky weighs 160 lbs. She exercises for at least 30 minutes 3x/week. She multiplies 160 x 14 for a total of 2240 calories. 2240 is roughly the number of calories she needs to maintain her current weight.

Step 2:

Multiply the number from step 1 by 0.2. This number will give you the amount of calories you need to subtract from your diet on a daily basis.

Example: Becky multiplies 2240 by 0.2 to give her 448. 448 is the number of calories she needs to subtract to from her daily intake.

The best way to reduce caloric intake is to replace high fat foods with lower fat foods or reduce the portion sizes that you eat. Remember to look at your food log to help you cut out unnecessary calories like soda and candy.

Getting in touch with your hunger:

Our bodies have the ability to tell us whether or not they’ve had enough to eat. Due to years of conditioning, increased portion sizes, and our body’s ability to store infinite amounts of fat, we often ignore the bodies cue for fullness. Getting back in touch with hunger requires the ability to distinguish between hunger and appetite.

Hunger: the body’s physical need for food. Appetite: eating foods because they taste good, not because your stomach is growling.

Suggestions to prevent overeating:

  1. eat slow: it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body has had enough to eat
  2. Don’t wait until you’re famished to eat: People who skip meals are more likely to overeat to make up for the calories that they are lacking throughout the day.
  3. Follow an eating schedule: Plan ahead to eat 3 meals per day with 2 or 3 small snacks. Have meal replacement/ healthy snacks available when you know you will not be able to eat. Remember, weight loss is about how many calories you consume, not how often you eat. Eating on a regular basis will also help keep your metabolism up and prevent you from feeling too hungry at mealtimes.
  4. Listen to hunger cues: recognize the difference between actual hunger and cravings. If you are truly hungry, you will just about anything like a healthy salad or a piece of fruit, otherwise you might not be experiencing physical hunger.
  5. Buy single servings of foods you crave: People tend to eat more of something when it is on hand. If you have a large bag of chocolates in the house you are more likely to eat more than a serving. If you had to travel to the store to get chocolate each time a craving occurred, you may indeed consume less.
  6. Know your boundaries: recognize the foods you cannot resist and keep them out of the house. If you know you can’t eat just one serving of potato chips-don’t buy them. The same goes for Fast food restaurants. If you know that you can’t go into McDonalds without ordering french fries, go to Subway, where there are no fries available therefore, avoiding all temptation.
  7. Controlling your environment: eat at table instead of in front of the TV. Mindless eating can occur when our minds are distracted by other things, like TV. shows and computer screens.

Getting in touch with your taste buds:

Changing your eating habits takes willpower and a good deal of conditioning. Many people eat the same 15-20 foods over and over. Trying new fruits and vegetables can help you meet new health goals. Fruits and vegetables naturally have no fat, trans fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol. They contain antioxidants and phytochemicals which have proven to fight off harmful chemicals in the body and even protect against certain types of cancers. The recommended servings of fruits and vegetables are 5-9 per day. Trying new produce is not only good for your health but can add variety, flavor and texture to your plate. Research states that it may take up to 15 times for your taste buds to adjust to new foods. Keep trying new fruits and vegetables, the heath benefits are well worth it.

For new ideas and healthy delicious recipes visit and