Products featuring Splenda are perceived as “natural” because even the FDA’s press release about sucralose parrots the claim that “it is made from sugar” — an assertion disputed by the Sugar Association, which is suing Splenda’s manufacturer, (McNeil Nutritionals).

The FDA has no definition for “natural,” so please bear with me for a biochemistry moment: Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) — except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms. (To get a better picture of what this looks like, see the image of a sucralose molecule.)

While some industry experts claim the molecule is similar to table salt or sugar, other independent researchers say it has more in common with pesticides. That’s because the bonds holding the carbon and chlorine atoms together are more characteristic of a chlorocarbon than a salt — and most pesticides are chlorocarbons. The premise offered next is that just because something contains chlorine doesn’t guarantee that it’s toxic. And that is also true, but you and your family may prefer not to serve as test subjects for the latest post-market artificial sweetener experiment — however “unique.”

Once it gets to the gut, sucralose goes largely unrecognized in the body as food — that’s why it has no calories. The majority of people don’t absorb a significant amount of Splenda in their small intestine — about 15% by some accounts. The irony is that your body tries to clear unrecognizable substances by digesting them, so it’s not unlikely that the healthier your gastrointestinal system is, the more you’ll absorb the chlorinated molecules of Splenda.

So, is Splenda safe? The truth is we just don’t know yet. There are no long-term studies of the side effects of Splenda in humans. The manufacturer’s own short-term studies showed that sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands and enlarged livers and kidneys in rodents. But in this case, the FDA decided that because these studies weren’t based on human test animals, they were not conclusive. Of course, there are countless examples of foods and drugs that have proved dangerous to humans that were first found to be dangerous to laboratory rats, and then again, countless others that have not. So the reality is that we are the guinea pigs for Splenda.

And now, are our children the next trial group? Thanks to an agreement between McNeil Nutritionals (makers of Splenda) and PTO Today, which provides marketing and fund-raising aid to parents’ associations, your elementary school’s next bake sale may be sponsored by Splenda — complete with baked goods made with the product.

Splenda side effects

Observational evidence shows that there are side effects of Splenda, including skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain. These show up at one end of the spectrum — in the people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the sucralose molecule. But no one can say to what degree consuming Splenda affects the rest of us.

If this sounds familiar, it should: we went down the same path with aspartame, the main ingredient in Equal and NutraSweet. Almost all of the independent research into aspartame found dangerous side effects in rodents. The FDA chose not to take these findings into account when it approved aspartame for public use. Over the course of 15 years, those same side effects increasingly appeared in humans. Not in everyone, of course — but in those who were vulnerable to the chemical structure of aspartame.

As food additives, artificial sweeteners are not subject to the same gauntlet of FDA safety trials as pharmaceuticals. Most of the testing is funded by the food industry, which has a vested interest in the outcome. This can lead to misleading claims on both sides.

But one thing is certain: some of the chemicals that comprise artificial sweeteners are known hazards — the degree to which you experience side effects just depends on your individual biochemistry. Manufacturers are banking on the fact that our bodies won’t absorb very much of these compounds at any one time. And many of us don’t. But what happens when we are ingesting a combination of artificial sweeteners like Splenda dozens of times a week through many different “low–sugar” or “sugar–free” products?

People have been using artificial sweeteners for decades. Some react poorly, some don’t — the problem is, you never know until you’re already sick. Scientists are calling Splenda a mild mutagen, based on how much is absorbed. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess what portion of the population is being exposed to the dangers of Splenda or already suffering from Splenda side effects. Until an independent, unbiased research group conducts long-term studies on humans (six months is hardly long-term!), how can we be certain? With all the new Splenda products on our shelves, it looks as if we are now in the process of another grand public experiment — without our permission. And we may not know the health implications for decades. As with all things, time will unveil truth.

So I urge you to be concerned about the potential dangers of Splenda — as with any unnatural substance you put in your body. And I am especially concerned about its use for children, which I recommend you avoid. But unlike many holistic practitioners, I do think artificial sweeteners can serve a purpose for some women. And that has to do with the old question — which is better, sugar or an artificial sweetener? Let’s start with sugar, where the problems all begin.



Fittron Featured Professional- Monica Guerra


Monica Guerra is a personal trainer, nutritionist, personal chef, fitness model, IFBB pro, and NPC fitness level competitor. Working out of Los Angeles, California, this accomplished athlete has devoted her life to helping others achieve their fitness goals. She runs her own fitness company, Peak Performance Nutrition, which offers a bevy of services from personal training to nutritional consultation. Monica is a recognized industry leader and viable celebrity in the fitness world. Her passion, dedication, and knowledge of the industry make her a fitness professional that you should be contacting to help you achieve your goals.

Monica’s skill set is diverse. She works with expecting mothers, young athletes, fitness competitors, and businessman. Harboring a unique knowledge, fortified through actual experience, of the fitness competition industry, she is a PTA examiner and judge for several fitness competitions throughout the country. If you are considering entering a fitness competition you should seriously consider enlisting her services. In addition to obtaining the coveted IFBB Pro Card, Monica has judged various shows and knows what the judges are looking for on stage. Don’t despair if you’re not on the West Coast. Monica offers online consultation and is capable of training serious competitors remotely. You don’t get many chances to work with a professional like Monica. Don’t let distance get in the way of that.

Monica is also a coveted fitness model. Acting as a spokeswoman for numerous product lines, Monica brings professionalism and credibility to each of the products she works with. A striking beauty of Hispanic heritage, you should consider Monica for work if you have a product you would like to introduce to the fitness community. Monica could help you launch your product the right way. Her resume speaks for itself.

Want to learn more about Monica? Visit her Fittron.com profile and contact her for fitness help. She is ready, and more then capable, of transforming not only your body, but your life as well.


Fattening Fructose! How processed sugars can maximize your middle…

Fructose is the new trans fat.

Everyone hates fructose; it is en vogue to use the simple sugar as a scapegoat for America’s obesity problem, but is there anything to this fructose blasting trend?

This is Your Body on Carbs

Let’s start with a very simple review of how carbohydrate are used in the body. First you eat–or drink– something that is high in carbohydrates. the source could be “complex,” like oats, whole grain pasta, quinoa, beans, potatoes, or even fibrous vegetables, like broccoli. The usable carbohydrates from these sources will eventually be broken down in the digestive tract and absorbed as the simple sugar glucose.

Table sugar, other processed sugar and syrups, and some natural foods usually contain a combination of “simple” sugars. For instance, milk contains the sugar lactose, which breaks down into the simple sugars glucose and galactose. Table sugar is sucrose; this sugar breaks down into glucose and fructose (50/50). Sources like fruit and high fructose corn syrup also provide glucose and fructose, but fructose is slightly favored (about 55/45, give or take). In the media, there has been a demonizing of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), specifically.

After you eat carbohydrates and they are absorbed as simple sugars (one unit carbohydrate molecules), they are all sent to the liver first, and the liver can decide their fates. In the case of glucose, the liver can a very orderly and controlled process and can do several things based on the body’s needs. If you’ve just come back from a really long run, your liver may decide to replace depleted carbohydrate storage in the liver, glycogen. If your liver is doing a lot of processing and needs energy for itself, the glucose may be used simply to make more energy units. If you haven’t eaten for 12 hours, your liver may recognize that your blood sugar is low and then send all of the glucose in to the blood. On the other hand, if you’ve been sitting and eating all day and you have lots of energy in your body, the liver will recognize that energy surplus and change the glucose into fat for long-term storage.

Fructose is also sent straight to the liver, but it is dealt with in a more chaotic fashion once it gets there. Because it has a different structure than glucose, the easiest thing for the liver to do with fructose is simply make fat. Scientists have speculated for a long time that the liver does this, but no one really proved it, until recently.

The Latest Fructose Research

Dr. Elizabeth Parks and her colleagues recently did a study where 6 people (4 men and 2 women) all went through three different experiments. One time, the participants drank a solution containing 100% glucose (85g of total carbohydrate; 340 Calories worth) while fasted in the morning. Another time they had 50% glucose and 50% fructose (this is a lot like drinking soda or another beverage with high fructose corn syrup). Finally, they were also fed 25% glucose and 75% fructose on another occasion. Additionally, the participants were fed a standard lunch with each experiment four hours after the “breakfast” sugar drink.

The researchers actually showed at the end of the experiment that both of the higher fructose solutions resulted in significantly higher fat production in the body than the pure glucose solution did immediately after drinking the beverage. The high fructose drinks also cause a greater storage of fat from the standard lunch meal. WOW! The same calories, all carbohydrates, but the fructose made more fat in the body!

Other Recent Fructose Research

After reading a popular story on the research above and the original research paper, I decided to do a search of the recent fructose research. A recent article in the Current Opinion in Lipidology showed that high-fructose, but not high-glucose, diet increased circulating fat after eating.

In another study overweight post-menopausal women were given diets to maintain their weights. Thereafter, the women were given diet with the same number of Calories, but with 25% of the Calories coming from high-fructose beverages. The women’s circulating fat 14 hours after eating was 141% higher afer the fructose beverages were included in the diet. And many more research papers can be found.

Sports Nutrition Application

In the first study, where the three different sugar drinks were given, the participants had they drink in a fasted state, in the morning. That means two things 1) liver glycogen was probably low because the carbohydrate reserve was used to maintain blood sugar throughout the night 2) general energy state in the body was low; yet, a high fructose drink still caused the increased fat production. This means that the carbohydrates were NOT being used to replace lost glycogen stores after a fast.

Athletes fatigue during endurance events when glycogen stores wane. If your fuel/carbohydrate sources of choice is not metabolically primed to make glycogen, it may be time to consider another source of carbohydrates for optimal performance. This is, of course, pure speculation. But you cannot go wrong by carbing up with a source that will definitely come into your liver as glucose, namely, the “complex” sources listed above. Note that gatorade has sucrose syrup (50% fructose) and glucose-fructose syrup (unknown amount of fructose) as the carb-providing ingredients. Honey is a good source of glucose. A carb drink can easily be made at home with water, honey, lemon and a little salt.

Health Implications

After perusing some of the recent research regarding fructose, I am fully convinced that processed, added fructose is detrimental to health, and I will AVOID it in the future. Remember that table sugar enters the body as 50% fructose; this is not so far off from the 55% fructose of HFCS. Most processed, added sugars are likely to be high in fructose even if the ingredients label does not have fructose listed anywhere on it.

Tricky Product Reformulation

Since HFCS has received a lot of terrible press, many manufacturers are reformulating products to omit that specific term from the packaging; however, the products are often not actually lower in fructose. A perfect example of this trick is the new balance bar reformulation.

High fructose corn syrup used to be one of the first ingredients listed on the package of the Balance Yogurt Honey Peanut bar; however, now the outside of the box boasts “No high-fructose corn syrup.” At the same time, the newly formulated bar reads 1) a protein source; 2) corn syrup; then; 3) fructose. Based on the ingredients, the amount of fructose that is delivered to your trusty little liver would still be about the same as the HFCS products or, potentially, higher. Given the opportunity to reformulate a health product, wouldn’t it be better to make it healthier? WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?

The Point

The “bad stuff” in the food supply has one major thing in common– excessive processing! Build a diet based on real food, that does not come from a shelf-stable package, and you will automatically avoid trans fats, high sodium and excessive fructose.

What about fruit?

Fruit is a natural and healthy source of food–it should not be omitted from the diet to avoid fructose! For instance, fruit has a variety of redeeming qualities, like an abundance of antioxidants and fiber, which certainly make it worth eating! Furthermore, fructose portion must be kept in perspective. A nectarine has 60 Calories and about 13g of sugar; about 7g are fructose. A regular 20oz soda has 240 Calories; 67g carbohydrates; about 37g of fructose. Essentially, you would have to eat 5 nectarines to get the same about fructose as one bottle of coke. After 5 nectarines, you’d be really full and loaded with over a gram of potassium and 12g of fiber. After drinking one bottle of coke, you’d still be up for a pizza, so choose wisely 😉

Jean Jitomir offers nutrition coaching for weight loss, muscle gain, or any of your personal goals at her office in the Alico building in downtown Waco, TX. She also offers personal training services at Ironhorse gym on the corner of Franklin and 17th, which is also very convenient to downtown.


Ephedrine- What’s the Big Deal?

In the year 2048, all Americans will be overweight or obese. This is the prediction, based on current trends, in an article by Wang et al. published in the journal Obesity. By 2030 86.3% of Americans will be overweight. The costs of “globesity” are particularly disturbing, given the current economic crisis—predicted obesity health care costs of 860.7–956.9 billion US dollars are expected by 2030, which is 16–18% of total US health-care costs.

If a weight loss method works it should not be tossed aside based on media ramblings and poor distribution and dosing methods. The combination of ephedrine and caffeine purposes of weight loss has a bad reputation. As noted by the NY Times in 1999, ephedrine has been used as an asthma medication since the 1920s, so why is the drug suddenly so controversial? Most likely, health care professionals are disturbed by the off-label use of ephedrine and ephedra, in combination with caffeine, for weight loss in combination. Is weight loss combo effective—is it safe—how does it compare to weight loss drug that are currently approved by the FDA?

Is Ephedrine Effective?

As noted in a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the combination of simply ephedrine and caffeine, without any other herbal components leads of a monthly weight loss 1 kilogram over placebo, this is about 2.2 pounds. The longest running ephredra trial, conducted by Boozer et al, was 6 months long, and revealed a weight loss of about 11.6 pounds for obese people taking the treatment, which was about 6 pounds more weight loss than participants who took a placebo. This level of weight loss sits comfortably within the 10 to 15 pound weight range recommended by the American Diabetes Association to help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood fat levels.

Is Ephedrine Safe?

Ephedrine is a drug; ephedra is a bioactive herb. All drugs have side effects and ephedrine does as well. As detailed by the JAMA article, use of ephedrine and caffeine for weight loss may experience psychiatric, gastrointestinal symptoms, and heart palpitations. Interestingly, a meta-analysis of the drug sibutramine, by Arterburn and friends, reveals the same history of side effects for this weight loss tool. This is because both ephedrine and sibutramine work by activating the “fight or flight” response. Furthermore, cases of psychosis or death in ephedra users are associated with abuse and overdose of the drug or pre-existing heart and blood pressure problems in case reports. These side effects are evidence that a doctor should prescribe appropriate doses of the drug combination; research provides support that intelligent and appropriately dosed ephedrine and caffeine may be useful for weight loss. Ephedra is safest when it is dosed by a medical professional and side effects are regularly monitored, just like any other drug!

How Does Ephedrine Compare to Other Weight Loss Drugs?

Though permanent weight loss will NEVER be achieved without a healthy diet and consistent exercise, our society values the use of medicines for obesity intervention.
Sibutrimine and Orlistat are two weight loss drugs currently approved by the FDA. According to Arterburn above, on average, sibutramine resulted in weight loss of about 7 pounds in 3 month trials and 10 pounds after one year of taking the medication. A review conducted by Padwa et al showed that taking orlistat for a year resulted in about a 6 pound increase in weight loss over placebo. Based recent, large reviews of the weight loss research, the effectiveness of the ephedrine-caffeine combination is comparable to weight loss treatments currently approved by the FDA.

America, we’ve got bigger problems. In 2000, there were 435,000 tobacco-related deaths, 400,000 deaths related to poor diet and physical inactivity, and 85,000 deaths due to alcohol consumption (Mokdad et al, JAMA 2004),. The number of deaths related to ephedrine over the entire history of its use are minimal when compared to major sources of mortality, yet the “the dangers” of ephedrine are so widely proclaimed. Undoubtedly, watching six hours of TV a day and snacking on a donut present a far more urgent danger. Given the similar effectiveness and safety of the ephedrine-caffeine combination and currently approved weight loss medicines, is it appropriate for the media and some medical professionals to demonize ephedra? It would do the country a greater service if the FDA would ban tobacco and give lame supplement-blasting a rest.

In conclusion a quote by F.L. Greenway, M.D.:

“The benefits of caffeine and ephedrine in treating obesity appear to outweigh the small associated risks. Restriction of dietary herbal supplements containing caffeine and ephedrine, often with other ingredients, should be based on controlled clinical trials of these products.”

Come visit Fittron.com professional Jean Jitomir for additional health and nutrition support.


Your Healthiest Future, See It, Then Live It

We all want to live the healthiest life we can. So what are we waiting for? If you truly want to be an energetic, leaner, active individual, then start acting like one. Picture the person you want to be and start doing what that person does. That person probably gets at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re living at the gym or are training for a marathon. It may mean they take a 20 minute walk at lunch and an after dinner stroll; then add aqua fit or yoga once a week and skiing with their kids on the weekend. They are moving their bodies, growing younger and feeling great.

It only takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Stick to it. Don’t wait until you drop ten pounds and buy a new outfit to join a gym you may never go to, start moving your body today. If you see yourself with more muscle tone, and greater bone density, then pick up some light hand weights or resistance bands because that is what those people you admire have been doing.

Healthy individuals always eat breakfast. A breakfast smoothie takes only minutes to prepare and if you need to, you can take it with you. Midmorning is snack time. Try a piece of fruit and a few almonds. Most days, pack a lunch. No fast food French fries, no vending machine quickies, plan ahead. If you have access to a microwave, take leftovers from last night’s dinner. A tuna sandwich on whole grain bread, an apple and maybe some yogurt tastes great and will supply some of your much needed daily fibre. When mid afternoon comes, it’s time for another protein/carb balanced snack. Have a snack packed so you are not tempted by the “low fat” muffins.

By eating nutrient dense foods at regular intervals throughout your day, your blood sugar remains constant and your energy levels remain high enabling your body to burn calories for fuel rather than storing them as fat. For dinner divide your plate into quarters with one quarter being lean protein such as chicken, one quarter being carbohydrates or starch such as rice or pasta and the other two quarters being vegetables. Leave the salt shaker in the cupboard. No one said you could never have dessert again but how about saving it for a special occasion? People with a consistently lower body weight do not have dessert every night.

If it’s too cold for an after dinner walk hit the mall, pop in an exercise DVD, sign-up for badminton, try belly dancing, go bowling or clean out a closet. Just move.

What else does your healthy self do? Drink as many glasses of water as you can, limit caffeine and alcohol intake and if you smoke get help to quit. Try to get the best sleep you can, both in quantity and quality. The memory foam pillows have become much more affordable and are really worth trying.

Picture the person you want to be and just pretend you are them. Next year at this time your “new” habits will be old hat and you’ll be taking it to a whole other level.

Contact Fittron.com professional Rose Parr for some additional health support


Looking for a fitness model or product representative?

Do you run an up and coming health company? Are you introducing a new line of energy drinks or supplements? Are you planning on attending a trade show in the coming months and need promotional models and industry leaders to support your brand? Then you came to the right place. Fittron.com has what you’re looking for.

When introducing a new product line, presentation and industry support is essential. The health and wellness industry gets more crowded by the day, and major companies like Pepsi and Kraft are moving in to grab a piece of the rapidly growing health and wellness market. And with a population more cognizant of the benefits of a healthily alternatives, the market is sure to expand in the coming years.

The wellness market has established players and emerging ones. Some of the names you might recognize: GNC, Izze, Vitamin Water and more. Whether you’re an up and coming brand or an established one, you want to promote your product in a way that reflects your product’s values, benefits, and image. You need people who will convey your brand to an eager public. You need fitness representatives. And that’s not easy to find.

You probably know someone who has worked for a health company, or maybe you could go to one of those employment services and let them know what your looking for. These aren’t the best options. You probably won’t get to pre-screen applicants, and there might be a reason that you’re friend is no longer in fitness marketing. This is an important decision. Trade shows cost a lot of money and you don’t want to waste time or funds on people who won’t be able to make it a success. You’ve got a product to sell. You can’t afford mistakes.

At Fittron.com you can come and browse our directory of fitness professionals all over the country. You can view profiles with pictures, bios, references, certifications. You have a whole database that you can go through at your leisure. Some of the names you might recognize, including Gina Aliotti, Kristi Tauti, and Kavvy Sonhos. Many are already product reps for various companies ranging from GNC to Oxygen fitness magazine. Their resumes are a testament to their talent and you should consider enlisting them to help launch your product.

The best part is you don’t have to pay Fittron a dollar to take advantage of their directory. Nothing. No referral fees, no percentage fees. You contact a professional directly and see if you can work something out.

What do you have to lose? You need a fitness product rep. Fittron.com has a directory that you can take advantage of. With fitness professionals, fitness models, and fitness reps throughout the country, we have what you’re looking for.


Want To Get Big? Go Heavy.

Nearly every young male wants to have big muscles and six pack. Some want it for vanity purposes (summer, girls) other are focused on gaining weight for specific sports, football especially. Either way, many males devote countless hours in the gym straining their muscles to grow and expand. The problem is not everyone does it right.

Some truths are so clear that they are often overlooked. Well here’s one that fits that category: If you want to get bigger, you need to lift heavier weights for less reps. Most athletes with a limited knowledge of the body can tell you this, but you would be shocked to know how many of them actually adhere to it.

If you’re doing more then 10 reps of any exercise you are wasting your time. Your body is shrugging that movement off, and telling you “I can do that, so what?” If your chest workout consists of 3 sets of 10 on the bench press, you’re not going to be expanding your pec size anytime soon. Complacency also leads to the dreaded “plateau” stage, where your body becomes so accustomed to the repetitive movement, weight, and repetition that it does not grow. So stop wasting your time. Start going heavier.

You’ll derive more benefit from bench pressing 225 pounds twice then you will from doing 135 twelve times. Plain and simple, your body is already built to handle that 135, if you want it to grow to handle the 225, you better start working towards that.

These heavier exercises are not as easy, they hurt sometimes, and it takes effort and dedication. But that’s what you’re in the gym for right? You want to get bigger legs? Start squatting more weight. There are no short cuts here. But there is a path you need to follow. It’s time to challenge your body, grow out of your comfort zone and shock your muscles into growth with some heavy weights and low repetitions.