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Dr. Oz features Tosca Reno, who lost 70 pounds with low carb Paleo-style diet

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If you can't lose weight, feel fatigued or wonder if your diet soda is safe to drink, Dr. Mehmet Oz offered solutions to all those concerns on his August 6 talk show. He also featured Tosca Reno, who lost 70 pounds by following the Paleo principles of avoiding processed food and eating clean.

Tosca has developed four rules to follow, which she details in her "Start Here" weight loss book. She says that by implementing those principles and focusing on nutrient-dense foods rather than empty calories, she transformed every aspect of her life.

The first rule: Avoid processed foods. Eat foods in their natural state. For example, eat an apple rather than apple juice or sweetened applesauce.

The second rule: When it comes to spending your money, go organic for potatoes, strawberries, grapes and celery. You can save by buying conventionally grown vegetables with those exceptions.

The third rule: Drink water, not diet soda. Add lemon juice and a dash of sea salt to improve your hydration. Diet soda has been linked to weight gain as well as health problems.

The fourth rule: Whenever possible, avoid dining out. By eating at home, you can control your food intake more easily. If you do eat out, plan ahead and focus on unprocessed food such as broiled chicken rather than fried chicken nuggets.

On the same episode, Dr. Oz revealed the secrets to making energy-boosting smoothies. Start with a base of Greek yogurt. Add fruit, such as blueberries, and sweeten with cinnamon or honey.

For example, you could make a morning smoothie with Greek yogurt, coconut water, frozen strawberries and cinnamon. Then boost your energy in the afternoon with a smoothie made of Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, pomegranate juice and raw almonds.

In addition, Dr. Oz discussed diet soda dangers. He expressed concern about a new study showing that women who drink two diet sodas or more daily are more apt to develop heart disease. Diet soda also is linked to weight gain.

Dr. Oz suggests cutting down on your diet soda intake by mixing it with plain seltzer water. Gradually dilute your soda more and more until you have shifted to seltzer, and then to water.

But are artificial sweeteners in general safe? Panera drew praise recently for announcing it would eliminate all artificial sweeteners, reported St. Louis Public Radio on August 5.

But Susan Hansen, assistant professor in Saint Louis University’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Sarah Krieger, a registered dietician with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, defend the use of artificial sweeteners and even sugar. They feel moderation is the key.

"It is safe to consume non-nutritive and additional sugars in moderation as long as everything is part of an overall balanced diet," Krieger contended. Hansen concurred, saying that people were focused too much on fearing artificial sweeteners.

"If we’re afraid of something, we focus on it with a vengeance,"she said. "Too much could certainly cause problems. Used in moderation, no."

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