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Wednesday, April 3, 2013


J.L. Greger, a professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her novels. Today she talks about Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, her newest mystery/suspense release, and offers some nutrition and weight loss advice. Learn more about J.L. and her books at her website. -- AP

A Big Portion of Murder
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates one-third of American adults are obese; one-third are overweight.

WOW! That means there should be a big market for my new novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight.

In this mystery/suspense novel, Linda Almquist is investigating Dr. Richard Varegos, a "diet doctor," for recklessly endangering the lives of his obese research subjects. He is convinced he’s found an easy way for obese subjects to lose weight - just alter their gut flora. Sounds strange to you? Actually it is an active area of research on weight control.

In this blog, I’m going to focus on more mundane aspects of weight control – ways to eat fewer calories. I’ll try not to sound like a retired professor of nutrition that I am. Obviously, exercising more is also important, but cutting calories is enough bad news for today.

Keep track of what you eat. Every time you eat or drink (I mean every time.) for 3 days, write it down.

SURPRISE! Bet you ate and drank more than you thought. Now analyze your behavior considering the next two points.

Decrease portion size. When I was a teen (before the introduction of the quarter pounder and supersizing - Oh dear, now you can guess my age.), I might have selected a small cheeseburger (300 calories) and small fries (230 calories) for lunch. Now you might select a double quarter pounder with cheese (750 calories) and large fries (500 calories.) The difference is 720 calories (3,600 calories per week).

You could lose a pound of weight a week if you substituted a small cheeseburger and small fries for a quarter pounder with cheese and large fries for lunch every weekday. Of course, that assumes you won’t increase what you eat at other meals and snacks or decrease your activity. I know that’s easier said than done. No wonder “diet doctors” jazz up their basic advice.

Decrease fat, sugar, and alcohol intake. Let’s just look at beverages today. Those are really sneaky sources of calories. Most sweet iced teas, iced coffees, fruit juices, and regular sodas (16 oz.) contain 130-190 calories and many fruits smoothies (12 oz.) provide 200-250 calories, while the unsweetened tea, black coffee, and diet sodas contain no calories. And it’s easy to drink three (probably more) glasses in a day.

You do the math. The calories add up quickly.

Decide to follow this unpalatable advice. Some find it easier to live with their decisions to eat smaller portions if they chew gum between meals or drink at least one glass of water before each meal. Seasoning mixes can add flavor to foods that otherwise might be bland when fat is removed.

Did you learn anything new on weight control? Probably not. You already knew the basics of dieting. You, like me, just don’t follow the advice.

That’s why so many researchers study obesity. Meet several of them when you read Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. It just might make you decide dieting isn’t so hard after all. 

Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight
Someone in a southwestern medical school doesn’t like women. Two have been murdered already. Linda Almquist suspects the deaths are related to her investigation of Dr. Richard Varegos, a “diet doctor.” He is alleged to be recklessly endangering the lives of his obese research subjects. Maybe she’s wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past – something involving her boss, the Dean. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.

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Coming Flu (the prequel to Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight)
When a mysterious flu breaks out in La Bendita, an upscale gated community near the Rio Grande, the lives of its residents change radically --and instantly. The few who are fortunate enough to avoid the killer flu become virtual prisoners in their homes when a quarantine is imposed. One resident, Sara Almquist, a medical epidemiologist, is compelled by habit and training to examine the elements of the epidemic, even when it means she pries into her neighbors’ lives. Sara finds promising clues--maybe too many.

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J.L. Greger said...

Thanks Anastasia for hosting me. I'm eager for comments. How do your weight loss routines go? Do you lose 2-5 pounds, get discouraged, and quit?

Kathleen Kaska said...

I love it when I see folks at the gym reading while working out on the treadmill or stair stepper. I'm a runner and that really burns the calories, but it also makes me hungry. So, I have a frig full of fresh fruit and veggies. Your mystery sounds so believable. I'll check it out, Janice.

Cindy Sample said...

I love your plot concept. And the title is terrific. I've been a calorie counter for 5 decades but it gets more difficult every year. My trick is to stand when I type and that seems to help that dreaded writing disorder - author spread.

Off to purchase your new book.

Lani said...

Wow, Janice, your book sounds fabulous! I love mysteries that involve real science!

As for the weight issue, as a former personal trainer for 16 years, I've found that many of my clients know how to lose weight better than most of the professionals. I've found that in order to help my clients with their weight management I first need address that every body is different, and some of the formulas for BMI are just not useful, especially for my clients that have a lot of muscle mass. Second, most of my clients have been scared to death with threats of diabetes, heart disease, and never finding a spouse, because they think themselves unworthy. I need to turn around all the statistics and the threats and make eating healthy a postive experience. Don't get me wrong! I think the science of obesity is needed, but with the media cramming threats down my clients throat in such a demeaning way . . . well, from the statistics alone, we know it's not helping. Eating healthy and in smaller portions should be about taking good care of our bodies, and a favorite part of my job was teaching my clients that they were worth it, they mattered.

Sorry for so long of a reply, but your post really spoke to me! Thanks!