low carbs

‘Fed Up’ Asks, Are All Calories Equal?

The movie “Fed Up” is coming out in theatres — just saw Katie Couric doing publicity for it. Despite the popularity of spinning it as a case of corporate greed, I don’t see much corporate villainy here. I do see cheap foods that taste good pushed by government subsidies for Big Agriculture, plus a move to eat on the go. There are two problems with the “calories in, calories out” theory now amply disproved: first, calories of energy absorbed from food are not the same as calories of the same food burned in a bomb calorimeter. And second, the components of what you eat (notably high-glycemic-index carbs) can drastically affect your metabolism and cause you to crave even more, and to use less energy. “Eat less and exercise more” may be very difficult unless you change what you eat.

The New York Times story (also tie-in PR for the movie) goes on to say:

Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the obesity program at Boston Children’s Hospital, argues in the film that [all calories are not the same]. In recent studies, Dr. Ludwig has shown that high-carbohydrate diets appear to slow metabolic rates compared to diets higher in fat and protein, so that people expend less energy even when consuming the same number of calories. Dr. Ludwig has found that unlike calories from so-called low glycemic foods (like beans, nuts and non-starchy vegetables), those from high glycemic foods (such as sugar, bread and potatoes) spike blood sugar and stimulate hunger and cravings, which can drive people to overeat.

While people can certainly lose weight in the short term by focusing on calories, Dr. Ludwig said, studies show that the majority of people on calorie-restricted diets eventually fail. “The common explanation is that people have difficulty resisting temptation,” he said. “But another possibility is that highly processed foods undermine our metabolism and overwhelm our behavior.”

At Harvard Medical School, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology whose research was cited by experts in the film, said that the long-held idea that we get fat solely because we consume more calories than we expend is based on outdated science.

He has studied the effects that different foods have on weight gain and said that it is true that 100 calories of fat, protein and carbohydrates are the same in a thermodynamic sense, in that they release the same amount of energy when exposed to a Bunsen burner in a lab. But in a complex organism like a human being, he said, these foods influence satiety, metabolic rate, brain activity, blood sugar and the hormones that store fat in very different ways.

Studies also show that calories from different foods are not absorbed the same. When people eat high-fiber foods like nuts and some vegetables, for example, only about three-quarters of the calories they contain are absorbed. The rest are excreted from the body unused. So the calories listed on their labels are not what the body is actually getting.

“The implicit suggestion is that there are no bad calories, just bad people eating too much,” Dr. Mozaffarian said. “But the evidence is very clear that not all calories are created equal as far as weight gain and obesity. If you’re focusing on calories, you can easily be misguided.”

For more on diet and weight loss:

Getting to Less Than 10% Body Fat Like the Models – Ask Me How!
Starbucks, Jamba Juice Make You Fat
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat. Government Guidelines Did!
Fructose: The True Villain?
More on “Fed Up”, Sugar Subsidies, and Obesity
Another Study on Diet Drinks
LeBron James Cut Carbs for Lean Look
Why We’re Fat: In-Depth Studies Under Way
Almonds: Superfood, Eat Them Daily for Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Ward Off Dementia
More on Diet Drinks: Best Studies Show They Aid Weight Loss
Vani Hari: “Food Babe” and Quack
Cleanses and Detox Diets: Quackery
Sugared Soft Drinks: Health Risk? (and What About Diet Soda?)
Gluten-Free Diets: The Nocebo Effect
Acidic Soft Drinks and Sodas: Demineralization Damages Teeth
Fish and Fish Oil for Better Brain Health
Salt: New Research Says Too Little May Be Unhealthy
Bulletproof Coffee: Coffee, Oil, and Butter for Breakfast?

Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat. Government Guidelines Did!

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Not entirely, but the FDA’s “food pyramid” played a role in changing diets away from meat and animal fats and toward carbs — sugars and grains — that did result in the fat and unhealthy average citizen of today.

The Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Essay, “The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease: Are butter, cheese and steak really bad for you? The dubious science behind the anti-fat crusade,” just recaps what alert people already know: animal fat is not especially harmful in moderation, while we know substitutes (cheap carbs and starches) are:

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Our distrust of saturated fat can be traced back to the 1950s, to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Keys was formidably persuasive and, through sheer force of will, rose to the top of the nutrition world—even gracing the cover of Time magazine—for relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks.

Critics have pointed out that Dr. Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study…. But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.

In fact, even back then, other scientists were warning about the diet’s potential unintended consequences. Today, we are dealing with the reality that these have come to pass.

One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do….

Seeing the U.S. population grow sicker and fatter while adhering to official dietary guidelines has put nutrition authorities in an awkward position. Recently, the response of many researchers has been to blame “Big Food” for bombarding Americans with sugar-laden products. No doubt these are bad for us, but it is also fair to say that the food industry has simply been responding to the dietary guidelines issued by the AHA and USDA, which have encouraged high-carbohydrate diets and until quite recently said next to nothing about the need to limit sugar.

Indeed, up until 1999, the AHA was still advising Americans to reach for “soft drinks,” and in 2001, the group was still recommending snacks of “gum-drops” and “hard candies made primarily with sugar” to avoid fatty foods.

Read the whole thing — some very interesting material on the health hazards of vegetable oils in high heat and the flaws of many “scientific” studies of diet, plus a special blindness toward women’s heart disease issues.

Further discussion in the comments at Althouse.

And let me plug again Gary Taubes’ Why We Gat Fat: And What to Do About It, a thorough and detailed look at the science of minimizing fat: Recommended.

For more on diet and weight loss:

Getting to Less Than 10% Body Fat Like the Models – Ask Me How!
Starbucks, Jamba Juice Make You Fat
‘Fed Up’ Asks, Are All Calories Equal?
Fructose: The True Villain?
More on “Fed Up”, Sugar Subsidies, and Obesity
Another Study on Diet Drinks
LeBron James Cut Carbs for Lean Look
Why We’re Fat: In-Depth Studies Under Way
Almonds: Superfood, Eat Them Daily for Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Ward Off Dementia
More on Diet Drinks: Best Studies Show They Aid Weight Loss
Vani Hari: “Food Babe” and Quack
Cleanses and Detox Diets: Quackery
Sugared Soft Drinks: Health Risk? (and What About Diet Soda?)
Gluten-Free Diets: The Nocebo Effect
Acidic Soft Drinks and Sodas: Demineralization Damages Teeth
Fish and Fish Oil for Better Brain Health
Salt: New Research Says Too Little May Be Unhealthy
Bulletproof Coffee: Coffee, Oil, and Butter for Breakfast?

Getting to Less Than 10% Body Fat Like the Models – Ask Me How!

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I’m going to report some old material from my private blog to tell you guys more about myself (and hopefully help advise you in areas other than relationships!)

I was your usual young, shapeless tech worker until around age 28, when I took up running — at first to and from work, then longer and longer distances. I got fitter but retained a lot of fat. I looked rather like a pencil with a thick rubber band around the middle — not so great, but I just assumed it was my genetics.

Fifteen years later, I switched to weightlifting for primary fitness, with running and aerobic work secondary. I started to gain muscle, but retained the same old fat deposits, especially around the middle.

I had what was supposed to be a nearly perfect diet pre-2000: lots of whole grains, veggies, lean meats in moderation, fiber. But still something seemed to be keeping the fat on, so I started to read up.

I developed a diet that borrows liberally from popular ones like Atkins and The Zone, but is tailored for people in middle age who work out and need to keep up muscle mass while dropping the flab.

As historical background, note that the advent of agricultural societies changed the typical diet for the worse — while they could support many more people on farmed grains, the health of those people declined when compared with the conditions under which the species evolved — hunting/gathering of lean meats, fish, berries, and nuts.

Fat deposition occurs because humans (especially the subcategories adapted to northern climates) who carried a dense store of usable fat on their bodies were more able to survive famine or long periods of intense energy use. Your body stores fat when 1) your blood sugar levels are way above needed to run your body, so conversion to fats saves this energy for later; and 2) when the body has been stressed by low blood sugar levels enough times to reset the storage mechanism to store even more fat, just in case. Fat is not only stored in the layers just beneath the skin that we all feel, but in tissues throughout the body, intramuscularly and between major organs in the belly.

How do you avoid this higher level of fat storage? Be sure the body has what it needs to operate all the time. Supply it with many small meals, each balanced, and (especially if you exercise a lot) be sure each meal has enough protein. Secondly, keep blood sugar levels as stable as possible by avoiding large servings of foods that make blood sugar levels rise too high, too fast; these are called high glycemic index foods, the glycemic index being a measure of how quickly the food makes blood sugars rise. In this you will be acting as if you were diabetic, since diabetics use this same avoidance of high glycemic index foods to manage their blood sugar levels.

In general, reduce portions or avoid entirely breads, starches, potatoes, rice, and pasta. When you do indulge, try to stick to whole grain versions. While fruits contain large amounts of sugars, some are worse than others — bananas are particularly bad, while apples and apricots, for example, are better, because they are not as quickly absorbed.

For maximal fat loss, you seek the metabolic state of ketosis. This occurs when you have reduced carbohydrate consumption below what is needed to survive, and the body utilizes alternate metabolic pathways to consume fat for energy. This state reduces fat levels rapidly, but strains liver and kidneys as the breakdown products of long-stored fat must be removed from your bloodstream. This is why liquid protein diets got a bad name; some people already in ill health were placed on these diets and suffered organ failure as a result. However, if you are in general good health and haven’t abused your liver and kidneys by drinking or indulging, ketosis is a useful tool for getting that last layer of fat off.

OK, but how does a person leading a normal life manage to eat this way?

0) It’s what you do habitually that matters most. Change those habits, and the occasional pizza or late-night chocolate dessert has little effect — you’re free to treat yourself in moderation. It’s like doing an energy audit — focus on what you eat every day and change the habits that cause the most trouble first.

1) Small meals more often. Standard breakfast/lunch/dinner should be supplemented by a mid-afternoon meal and a late-night meal (the last optional, this is really aimed at bodybuilders who need to keep as continuous a level of protein building blocks in their bloodstream as possible.)

2) Every meal should have at least 30 g quality protein (if you weigh c. 180 lbs) — one can of tuna, medium chicken breast, one cup of low fat cottage cheese, 2 scoops whey protein powdered drink, protein bar, etc. Learn to love salmon! Again, it doesn’t have to be a full 30 g for non-bodybuilders.

3) Carbs of all sorts, but especially simple sugars and starches, need to be restrained to small portions and low daily amounts. Particularly likely to trigger fat deposition and blood sugar swings are the high glycemic index carbs (see http://www.glycemicindex.com/) — bread, some fruits (bananas), potatoes, etc. Anecdotally, a rule against any carbs after dinner seems wise. Particularly avoid regular consumption of typical mass-produced processed foods that use high-fructose corn syrup as a cheap sweetener — this is a product used primarily in the US because the government subsidizes corn and the sugar lobby has successfully driven the US price of true sugar so high. There is so much additional sugar in processed foods that avoiding them is really important. This includes things you don’t think of as sweet, like spaghetti sauce, cereal, and packaged dinners.

It helps to use artificial sweeteners to avoid the glucose pulse one would otherwise suffer from after consumption of sweet drinks — this is why sucralose (Splenda) is typically used to make protein drink mixes taste good. There are other reasons to avoid fizzy soft drinks (e.g. long-term effect on tooth enamel), but if you must, a diet drink is better.

4) Fats: avoid “bad” fats, supplement with “good” fats. “Bad” includes particularly the hydrogenated varieties of oils used in processed and baked goods. “Good” includes olive, canola, flax, sunflower, borage, etc. oils. One of the concepts behind the Atkins diet is that attempts to decrease fat consumption often lead to a greater rise in carb consumption, since the body needs some fats and feels starved when it doesn’t get a good mix. Adding a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to a cup of lowfat cottage cheese, for example, makes a tastier mix that provides important EFAs (essential fatty acids.) Snacking on small amounts of almonds and walnuts, instead of bread or potato-based products, is satisfying and furthers the program. Animal fats in moderation don’t harm a healthy person, and vegetarians on average are not as healthy as those who eat my suggested diet with moderate amounts of meat.

5) Help out your digestive system by getting enough fiber — lots of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower — did you know boiled or steamed cauliflower, mashed, are almost like mashed potatoes?), plus maybe a good high-fiber cereal (I like General Mills FiberOne, which tastes good and keeps carbs to a minimum by using a no-cal sweetener.) Also give your liver and kidneys a break by drinking lots of water.

The effect of this kind of diet is to increase use of fat for energy (allowing you to break down your existing stores) and decrease its deposition (by avoiding high blood sugar pulses and keeping a constant supply of necessary fats and proteins.) It takes months to see significant results, and you may experience some loss of energy for a few weeks as the transition to use of other metabolic pathways is not necessarily smooth. Full results of the changeover are only seen after a year (or longer, if you have a lot of fat to lose). Oh, and as you age you’ll be more likely to avoid heart disease and stroke.

And all of this presumes a good exercise program, which should at least get your heartbeat up to 150% of its resting rate for a half hour a day, some of which can be accomplished by walking places. If you want to be built as well as lean, then you’ll be needing to hit the weights unless you are genetically blessed. If you do a lot of heavy weight training, be sure you’re getting at least the minimum 30 g per meal of protein, and reduce your other exercise accordingly, since your cardiovascular fitness needs will be partially met by weight training.

An extremely thorough and detailed look at the science of minimizing fat: Gary Taubes’ Why We Gat Fat: And What to Do About It. Recommended.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on diet and weight loss:

Starbucks, Jamba Juice Make You Fat
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat. Government Guidelines Did!
‘Fed Up’ Asks, Are All Calories Equal?
Fructose: The True Villain?
More on “Fed Up”, Sugar Subsidies, and Obesity
Another Study on Diet Drinks
LeBron James Cut Carbs for Lean Look
Why We’re Fat: In-Depth Studies Under Way
Almonds: Superfood, Eat Them Daily for Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Ward Off Dementia
More on Diet Drinks: Best Studies Show They Aid Weight Loss
Vani Hari: “Food Babe” and Quack
Cleanses and Detox Diets: Quackery
Sugared Soft Drinks: Health Risk? (and What About Diet Soda?)
Gluten-Free Diets: The Nocebo Effect
Acidic Soft Drinks and Sodas: Demineralization Damages Teeth
Fish and Fish Oil for Better Brain Health
Salt: New Research Says Too Little May Be Unhealthy
Bulletproof Coffee: Coffee, Oil, and Butter for Breakfast?

On useful supplements and life extension habits:

Supplements and Life Extension:

Getting to Less Than 10% Body Fat Like the Models – Ask Me How!
Low-Dose Aspirin Reduces Pancreatic Cancer
Daily Aspirin Regimen Reduces Cancer Rates
Almonds: Superfood, Eat Them Daily for Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Ward Off Dementia
Lower Back Pain: Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol) Useless
Cleanses and Detox Diets: Quackery
Gluten-Free Diets: The Nocebo Effect
Scams: Multi-Level Marketing, Herbalife
Vitamin D: Anti-Dementia?