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Who Said It?: Reveal

jcphoto_032905Ice-cold green tea is a negative calorie drink.

That negative-calorie tidbit was spewed by “weight loss guru” Jorge Cruise (real name: George Maurer).

Despite glowing recommendations by the likes of Dr. David Katz and Dr. Oz, Mr. Cruise Maurer doesn’t have any nutrition-related credentials.  This sometimes results in him sharing incorrect and misguided advice and tips, such as the one above.

Why the glowing recommendations, then?  Simple — Cruise Maurer is part of Oprah world (the benefit of having friends of friends in cream-of-the-crop PR jobs), so it only benefits Dr. Oz and Dr. Katz to prop him up (especially since Katz and Cruise Maurer have co-authored a handful of books).  I suspect the docs’ kudos are more business strategy than true admiration (at least, I hope so).

Mr. Cruise Maurer claims that a glass of green tea with ice is so metabolism-boosting that, “by the time you are done drinking it, you have lost up to 50 calories.”

There is no mention of amounts or sizes, so I’ll assume he means an 8-ounce cup of green tea.

The truth is, our metabolism doesn’t care about the temperature of food.  Remember, our bodies are set at 98.6 degrees.  Ice-cold drinks do not stay ice-cold as they travel through the digestive system.  Cutting calories through the consumption of ice-cold drinks is not at all an efficient strategy.

Mr. Cruise Maurer’s statement that a glass of green tea with ice is equivalent to burning 50 additional calories is absolutely wrong.  As are many of the claims he makes on this page:

Mr. Cruise Maurer claims that if we get enough fiber, we should have three bowel movements a day. Absolutely untrue.  It is perfectly healthy to have less than three per day.

Mr. Cruise Maurer claims that commercial red meat is high in bad cholesterol. I assume he means bad fat. There is no such thing as “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” in food.  This is Nutrition 101 material.

Mr. Cruise Maurer claims that “All energy drinks are high in calories, which is fine if you’re super active”. I strongly disagree.  Even if you are “super active” and burn those excess calories, energy drinks are extremely high in added sugars, which no one needs.  Besides, if someone is “super active”, they need nutritionally-dense foods, not energy boosts.

Mr. Cruise Maurer recommends fresh fruit over dried fruit; claims people erroneously think dried fruit is a good alternative. There is nothing wrong with dried fruit.  Sure, excess amounts can quickly add up calorically, but there is no reason why someone should avoid eating raisins, goji berries, or dried mango.

Mr. Cruise Maurer claims growth hormones in dairy products make us “grow” and get too big. Huh?  The health concerns surrounding recombivant bovine growth hormone has to do with genetic modification and possible increases in certain cancer risks.  The notion that growth hormones make humans “grow” (what does that even mean as far as adults are concerned?) is silly.

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15 Comments

  1. Dianne said on June 11th, 2010

    I agree with most of what you say. This guy does sound like a quack but the American Heart Association uses the terms “good” and “bad” cholesterol on their own site, http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=180

    Also one definition of calorie is the energy needed to raise one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. Since out body needs to raise the temperature of the liquids we drink to 98.6, it does take a few calories to do this. Not 50 but maybe 5. Even snopes.com the popular myth-busting site agrees that celery and certain other foods are negative. http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/celery.asp

  2. Andy Bellatti said on June 11th, 2010

    Diane,

    Yes, the terms “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” exist. However, these refer to cholesterol levels in the blood, NOT to cholesterol in food. This is really an elementary principle that your basic college freshman studying nutrition knows.

    The idea of a negative-calorie food bothers me because, at most, you’re looking at 2 or 3 calories. Absolutely meaningless in the context of a day. Fifty calories is an exaggeration, and relying on “negative calorie foods” to lose weight is silly.

  3. Dianne said on June 11th, 2010

    And does the meat that people eat magically not contain the blood of the animal? (vegetarian here)

    It is not efficient on its own, but if it’s extra motivation to skip the caramel maciahato for iced green tea, then whats the harm thinking and knowing that it’s negative 5 calories.

    And there is new research into “brown” fat that does burn more calories when exposed to lower temperatures.
    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1890175,00.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_adipose_tissue

  4. Derek Helderman, RD, LMNT said on June 11th, 2010

    The sad thing is that a majority of people watching television in their homes during the day believe quacks like this guy, Dr. Oz, Tyra Banks, and Oprah and take a gluten free book written by Elizabeth Hasselbeck (which I will admit seems to be sound, reasonable and well-intentioned based on all accounts I’ve read) as the gospel. Rather than spending a little money for sound nutrition and wellness advice, people spend lots of money buying into absolute garbage either because it’s trendy and sexy, or because they’re just that ignorant.

    As for “negative calorie” foods, the concept is probably true to the extent that Andy indicates; a very, very insignificant caloric amount. The energy expended in the processing of food for storage and use (or the thermic effect of food) has, to my knowledge, never been documented in the “negative calorie food” instance. Protein, fat and carbohydrate all have different levels of thermic effect. Proteins are more difficult to digest and thus require more caloric expenditure than, say dietary fats, which themselves require differing levels of thermic effect to process depending on the type of fat (medium chain triglycerides directly enter portal circulation via the small intestine while long chain triglycerides must undergo extensive breakdown and repackaging to be digested).

    It’s obvious that basing any sort of weight loss effort solely on some sort of “negative calorie” nonsense is, well, nonsense. Don’t eat celery because it’s calorie negative. Eat celery because it, along with other fruits and vegetables, contains thousands of antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber and phytonutrients.

    Until we fix problems and debunk myths that people like Dr. Oz, Bob Green and Oprah permeate, we’ll have a large segment of society that believes in green tea calorie negativity, raw foods and detox diets.

  5. Andy Bellatti said on June 11th, 2010

    Diane, you are completely confusing cholesterol concepts. Dietary cholesterol simply “is”. There is no “good dietary cholesterol” or “bad dietary cholesterol”.

    The negative calorie tip is silly because unsweetened tea is good enough that it doesn’t need that extra add-on. Unsweetened teas are a great way to get more polyphenols and antioxidants in one’s diet. THAT is more important than burning an additional 5 calories. And, if the key is to stay away from a caramel macchiato, then any calorie-free beverage will do. We don’t need to start a whole trend of “look for negative calorie foods!”

    No one ever gained weight because they didn’t consume enough negative-calorie food.

  6. Andy Bellatti said on June 11th, 2010

    Completely agree with everything you say, Derek. I particularly like your sentence on what the main motivation behind eating celery should be.

  7. Derek Helderman, RD, LMNT said on June 11th, 2010

    Dianne,

    No. Animal meat that people eat does NOT contain the blood of the aforementioned animal. It contains protein and fat. Which are made up of different types of cells. Which contain cholesterol in their cell walls and other cellular structures (see phospholipid bilayer; Nutrition 101).

    Blood of animals is carried, like humans, in arteries and vessels. That blood is made up of lots of different things, one of which is fat. Some of those fats (lipoproteins: LDL, HDL, VLDL, chylomicrons) transport dietary lipids, or fat that we eat that get to the bloodstream via digestion/absorption. HDL is considered “good” because it removes cholesterol from tissues and delivers it to the liver, thereby reducing serum cholesterol. Conversely, LDL are considered “bad” because they transport said cholesterol to tissue, where it can accumulate and block an artery.

    If you’re basing your vegetarianism on the fact that animal protein contains the blood of that animal, I’d recommend you study up on stearic acid and have a serving of red meat one a week.

  8. Andy Bellatti said on June 11th, 2010

    Thank you for responding to Dianne, Derek.

  9. Ken Leebow said on June 11th, 2010

    There’s so much misinformation floating around that the above (negative calorie drink) is inconsequential. I also find it a little hard to believe that Dr. Katz agrees with the Ice Tea fabrication.

    In the “fight” against the obesity epidemic, I would say Dr. Katz is one of the heroes (and there are very few). I recommend to all: Listen to his presentation “Obesity be Dammed”.

    Ken Leebow
    http://www.FeedYourHeadDiet.com

  10. Andy Bellatti said on June 11th, 2010

    Well, Ken, Dr. Katz has repeatedly hailed Jorge Cruise as someone he respects and someone who truly understands and knows nutrition and weight-loss (his words, not mine). Dr. Katz has endorsed Cruise’s books and even written some with him.

    I don’t think the “negative calorie” tip is inconsequential. It’s yet another example of hype, hyperbole, and meaningless data being spread to the public.

    Truth be told, I have always found Dr. Katz’s glowing references of Jorge Cruise very odd, to say the least.

  11. Ken Leebow said on June 12th, 2010

    Sadly, in our culture, hype sells ie. Jillian Michaels. And truth-be-told, the real tragedy is that Americans are spending upwards of $60-billion a year on diet related products. And as you well know, you don’t have to spend a dime…just eat properly and exercise.

    Oh well, some things will never change.

  12. Jay said on June 14th, 2010

    Hmm.. It takes 1 “calorie” to raise a liter of water by 1 degree centigrade. Body temp is about 37 C, so if you drink a liter of “ice cold” liquid, I’d expect your body to have to expend at most 35 calories to normalize the overall temperature.

    Of course, in practice your body is contantly overheating and then cooling the excess through sweat, etc. So it’s more likely that you’d just do a bit less cooling to compensate. But the cap on “losing weight through cold beverages” has to be about 35 cals/liter.

  13. Andy Bellatti said on June 14th, 2010

    Jay,

    So if we assume that (which, as you say, isn’t 100% accurate due to our bodies’ temperature regulation), then an 8 ounce cup of an “ice cold” beverage results in, at most, a 9 calorie deficit (NOT the 50 Jorge Cruise claims).

  14. Jay said on June 14th, 2010

    Ah, but the magic metabolis-y things inside the green tea are so powerful that they make your body immediately burn an additional 41 calories per cup. When consumed ice-cold.

    Obviously.

  15. Andy Bellatti said on June 14th, 2010

    Of course, how could I forget? The magic ingredient!

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