Monday, December 20, 2010

The Momentum is Building

You can't ignore it.  It is becoming too prevalent.  The evidence is so overwhelming that the mainstream media is even catching on.  The LA Times has a big following.  Who knows where this article appeared in their print version but it is sure to catch the attention of it's readers.  Especially with 70% of America being overweight.  Statements like these in a national newspaper are pretty significant:
"Dietary fat used to be public enemy No. 1," says Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. "Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar."
 But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity,heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
 "Fat is not the problem," says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases."
 Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years with the help of a 30-year-old, government-mandated message to cut fat.
And the nation's levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have risen. "The country's big low-fat message backfired," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today."
"At my obesity clinic, my default diet for treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is a low-carb diet," says Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, and co-author of the new Atkins book. "If you take carbohydrates away, all these things get better." 
As nutrition scientists try to find the ideal for the future, others look to history and evolution for answers.   Some, like Phinney, would argue that we haven't evolved to adapt to a diet of refined foods and mass agriculture — and that maybe we shouldn't try.
 WOW!  Scientists from Harvard, Tufts, and Duke universities coming out in the public media supporting the very things we have talked about on this site.  I told you at the beginning of this blog we weren't making this stuff up.  The question is how long will people get hit over the head with they proverbial hammer till the finally decide to give this stuff a real chance?  

The great thing is, the more I talk about it, the more people read about it, the more they hear about it, the more the message is actually getting through.  It is crazy when I hear friends or family tell me about how they are convincing other people to give this a try.  This viral messaging is having an effect.  If you follow this site, pass it on, you never know how it may effect someone down the line.


Friday, December 17, 2010

It Just Works Damn It!

Out of the blue yesterday, I got an unsolicited text from a friend whom I text once or twice a week.  Here is what he wrote, "Thanks for introducing this lifestyle to me....I love it!  Have never felt better!".    No, I did not introduce him to the lifestyle of swinging or Dungeons and Dragons.  The "lifestyle" he speaks of is the primal/paleo diet you may have read about on this site or elsewhere.  My friend was not particularly overweight or unhealthy when he started his experimentation.  For him to express himself this way after starting off in a pretty healthy place means as I said to him, "This shit just works".

You can definitely lose weight eating this way.  Losing weight is typically the goal of people when they make a diet change.  This is a noble pursuit and a great idea in general.  What makes this way of eating unique is that it has results that sustain and it causes tremendously positive changes in overall health.  That, in the end, should be the goal.  If you don't feel great and are on maintenance drugs, your goal should be to get off all those drugs and feel better than ever.

Here is another great example of the results of this diet from Marks Daily Apple:

With the help of a professional physical therapist trainer and nutritionist, in January 2010, I committed myself feverishly to those things which conventional wisdom dictates: daily torturous battles with my body at the gym, and a low-fat, high-fiber, high-carbohydrate diet.
After two months, I was seeing some modest results, but I could tell that my body needed something different. I had an instinct that I didn’t feel well eating all of these refined carbohydrates. I had a battle with my nutritionist/trainer who swore that my instincts were wrong and that I would be doomed to failure.  In March, I followed my gut and set out full-steam-ahead down my Primal path. 
Within a month of ceasing my refined flour and sugar consumption and adopting the Primal Blueprint, I began to see immediate and dramatic results. My lifelong symptoms of severe asthma immediately disappeared, my painful gastric reflux abated, I dropped 15 pounds that first month, and I was able to cease all prescription medication almost immediately.
Now, 11 months after beginning my weight loss journey, and 8 months after going “Primal” I see dramatic results. My weight has dropped about 105 pounds to 220, with my average monthly weight loss being between 8 and 12 pounds consistently.

New Years resolution time is coming.  Rather than just eat less like typical diets call for, why not make a real change that actually works?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Was Wrong, All Carbs Are Not Created Equal

Please do not get mad at me for this post.  I am talking about trying to gain weight.  About 4 years ago I made a permanent diet change that allowed me to lose about 35 pounds of fat and gain about 5 pounds of lean mass (presumably muscle).  I have maintained that weight loss ever since.

So I have been on a kick lately to gain weight.  You see, if I gain just a few more pounds, my Body Mass Index total will put me in the "overweight" category.  Well, don't take this as me being braggadocios but I am pretty lean.  For me to be considered overweight at 172 pounds is ridiculous but BMI is the standard the medical community and our government use to judge someones body composition.  In general it is kinda accurate but if you have just a bit of muscle mass on your body you can throw this out the window.  That is why I want to gain weight, I think it would be funny for a doctor to look at my BMI and tell me I was overweight.

Anyways, in my effort to put on a few pounds I have upped my overall food intake.  I used to only eat till I was full but I am now stuffing myself past that point.  I have consciously been eating more carbs.  By more carbs, I mean I have been eating a lot more yams, squash, and fruits.  I tried to add in some white potatoes and let's just say my wife wasn't happy with the post meal results.  I haven't added wheat back into my diet and for good reason.  I personally (and a lot of other people too) feel it doesn't belong in anyone's diet.  The more I read the more issues I find with this supposed health food.

Two posts I have read recently and my personal experience has caused me to come down off my high horse a bit about carbs in general (anyone remember this post: Carbs are Making Us Fat).  Mind you, I was never very low carb (like the Atkins Diet).  I still ate some  fruits and veggies with occasional yams and squashes.  This article talks about a study where a population in China replaced rice consumption with wheat consumption and they got fat.  Then another article cited the same study but at 5 year follow up.  The group with the high wheat consumption was still more obese than the other groups.

How does this pertain to my recent addition of carbs you may ask.  Well in a month of adding more carbs and no wheat, I haven't gained weight.  All this despite being relatively inactive.  I say this because I am now feeling that all carbs are not created equal.  Maybe it's the abundance of wheat in the the Standard American Diet that is causing obesity problems around our country.  I think back to this post talking about an overweight family who ate very little meat, very little fruit, very little veggies, and no squash or yams (at least from what I saw in the video of their typical day).  They did eat a lot of wheat products though.  If you haven't eliminated wheat from your diet, think about the last meal you ate that didn't have wheat in it.  Hard to do huh?  Just about every meal revolves around it.

If your goal is weight loss, I feel low carb will work very well for you.  If you want to maintain, do everything you can to avoid wheat.  It will be easier to keep weight off and you will feel better too.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stop Blaming Your Parents

Many believe the health traits of their parents and grand parents are their uncontrollable destiny.  If you ever hear someone say this tell them to stop blaming their genetics and starting looking in the mirror and also in the fridge.  Feeling like crap, not looking how you want, being unhealthy is something just about everyone can control.    

The operative term is Gene Expression.  Mark Sisson writes about it here.  What this means is that we do have the ability to control our genes and they will express themselves in different ways depending on outside environmental factors they are exposed to.  Things like the foods we eat, exercise, medications, and smoking are just a few factors that can have huge influences on the composition, health, and strength of one's body.  Here is a great example to illustrate the impact that outside influences have on the human form.  Believe it or not, the 2 men below are identical twins.  They were born with the exact same DNA.
Amazing huh?  My 7 year old son says "Aren't twins supposed to look alike?"  Well, if they lived exactly the same they would have a great chance of looking identical but these twins didn't live exactly the same.  They were both track athletes.  The one on the left ran long distance races and the one on the right did the shot put and discuss.  These are very different specializations.  They require very different physical conditioning thus different stresses on the body.  The photos were taken over 40 years ago so I am not sure if their diets would have been very different.  Today, the endurance runner would likely eat high carb and the strength athlete would eat high protein. 

I don't know much more than I already wrote about these twins but let's say these 2 chose their track specializations in their early teens.  That is 10 years of their lives that had a profound influence on their body composition by age 23.  In an average lifespan, 10 years is a relatively short time frame.  Unfortunately for most people, bad habits tend to persist for more than 10 years.  These bad habits cause genes to express themselves in negative ways.  Obesity, cancers, and other chronic diseases can be caused by genes gone bad. 

Except for the rare afflictions at birth, none of us are born to be unhealthy, fat, or weak.  We are born to thrive. Our bodies need the right environmental stimulation to thrive.  Good or bad, it all adds up.