‘Northwoods Diet’ kicks in as others go south

  • By Karren Mills / Associated Press
  • Monday, December 27, 2004 9:00pm
  • Life

MINNEAPOLIS – Florida’s got the South Beach diet. Now Minnesota’s got the “Northwoods Diet.”

That’s what University of Minnesota professor David Bernlohr came up with as the solution when he noticed his waistline expanding. After all, he’s an obesity researcher.

Minnesota Obesity Center: www1.umn.edu/mnoc

Bernlohr said he’d fallen into the traditional American habits of skipping breakfast, eating too much and eating too late at night.

So he put himself on his own diet – what he jokingly dubbed the “Northwoods Diet,” poking fun at the fad diet industry and the popular South Beach diet.

“I said if the beautiful people in south Florida can have South Beach, the hardworking people of Minnesota can have Northwoods,” the professor said.

His eating plan: Three meals a day with smaller portions and no food after 7:30 p.m. He starts with a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast such as cold cereal or oatmeal. He said the carbs stimulate production of insulin, a hormone that helps cells convert blood sugar to energy.

Lunch is a transitional meal with both carbs and protein, often pizza. Dinner is heavier on protein, including meat, vegetables and salads.

His rule against eating later in the evening adds to the time the body is naturally fasting – when he’s sleeping. As for exercise, he said, he didn’t change his normal pattern. He’s always walked a lot.

The approach “is just common sense to people who study nutrition or metabolism,” said Bernlohr, who heads the university’s department of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics and leads a research team at the Minnesota Obesity Center.

Bernlohr said he’s lost 40 pounds over the last year and he looks trim. But he declines to disclose his weight, and says he’s a little chagrined that his diet has attracted media attention.

“This is not a scientific study. It’s simply a catchy name,” he said, adding that the principles he’s following aren’t new.

It may not be new information, but people apparently aren’t paying attention to what already is known about good diet habits.

The federal government estimates about 65 percent of the adults in the United States – nearly 119 million people – are overweight or obese, which can lead to major health problems.

The key to losing weight and staying trim?

“Don’t put as much on your plate. Park as far away from the mall as you can, not as close as you can. Walk more. Exercise more,” Bernlohr said.

And don’t expect quick results.

Allen Levine, director of the obesity center and head of the university’s department of food science and nutrition, uses the analogy of the automobile to make that point. It takes minutes to fill the tank with gas, but hours to burn off the fuel.

People have to balance the calories eaten with calories burned, he said. And people have to police themselves.

“You can’t have sex at your desk and you can’t drink booze at your desk and you can’t inject drugs at your desk, but you can eat a doughnut. Nobody’s going to stop you,” he said.

Talk to us

More in Life

Rich Davis works on finishing the deck of his home in Mukilteo on June 11. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Mukilteo man’s pandemic project: A 500-square-foot deck

Rich Davis had never built anything before, but the shutdown left him with ample time to learn a new skill.

It only takes a small amount of cash to build a homemade swamp cooler to make your home comfortable this summer. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Can a do-it-yourself swamp cooler beat the August heat?

Instead of spending $400 for an air conditioner, purchase $25 of simple parts and assemble one yourself.

Oslo’s City Hall, with stirring murals and art that depict Norway’s history. (Rick Steves, Rick Steves’ Europe)
Rick Steves on Oslo, the polar opposite of ‘Big Box’ culture

The Norwegian capital city is expensive, but its charm and civility are priceless.

Also known as Rose of Sharon, hibiscus is a hardy shrub is one of the few that blooms in the late summer. (Nicole Phillips)
Hibiscus will bring a tropical look to your August garden

Also known as Rose of Sharon, the hardy shrub is one of the few that blooms in the late summer.

Dave Dodge stands on a speaker while playing his guitar during Nite Wave’s show at Tony V’s Garage on Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Curtain falls on Tony V’s in Everett — at least for now

The nightspot was hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. It might reopen when the county hits Phase 4 of the state reopening plan.

2020 Cadillac CT4 has elegant looks, animated performance

This luxury compact sedan is all new, and it offers a choice between two turbocharged engines.

Lennon Wiltbank’s art adorns an abandoned, soon-to-be-demolished home and spreads joy in her neighborhood.
For this Bothell artist, ‘happiness is flowers’

Lennon Wiltbank’s art adorns an abandoned, soon-to-be-demolished home and spreads joy in her neighborhood.

Glacier Lanes won’t be spared: Owners decide to close forever

Bowlers statewide are rallying to open venues shut by COVID rules, but this Everett business isn’t waiting.

Practice the art of doing nothing to nurture inner peace

It’s the ability to sit, listen to the sounds of nature, look at nothing in particular, and just be.

Most Read