Review: The Men Who Made Us Thin – Episode One

The video series was produced by the BBC on dieting. Interesting stuff. While I enjoyed the first episode, I do have some observations: Continue reading “Review: The Men Who Made Us Thin – Episode One”

What is ‘Nutritional Ketosis’ (Without the Gobbeldygook)

I’ve used the term ‘nutritional ketosis’ in a few posts but I haven’t taken the time to explain it – as if everyone’s a nutrition nerd like I am and knows what the heck I am talking about.

I could get all ‘sciency’ on you, but I’d rather not. Most people aren’t all that interested in the sciency details – and I would just be lifting from a book that has become a bit of a bible to me in my current approach to low carb:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by
Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek

I’ve read the book twice and it is well-highlighted in my Kindle. Recommended for all you nutrition nerds, but many of you aren’t nutrition nerds and don’t want to read a book written by two doctors written for other doctors. It isn’t a breezy read.

Instead, why don’t I give you the explanation I give myself – dope that I am. For goodness’ sake – check this out for yourself if you have even the slightest curiosity. I give no promises for accuracy. You have been warned.

Continue reading “What is ‘Nutritional Ketosis’ (Without the Gobbeldygook)”

The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7

THE LONESOME BREADROLLIt is usually the ‘kiss of death’ for my diet to mention these things, but the above picture is from my lunch at Legal Seafood, which is one hell of a seafood restaurant and should be visited if you ever get the chance – there’s not a lot of them around.

This was the roll for me. The three others were being consumed by my wife and kids while this one sat forlorn.

If I had any interest in appearing to have willpower and projecting upon myself some nobility of character I would tell a story of how my steely will and the dedication to my diet and my goal allowed me to refrain from this fresh roll hot out of the oven sitting in front of me.

That wasn’t the case, however. My character nor willpower played no part in it. There was no heroic struggle involved. It didn’t even appear on my radar. No neural circuits fired with conflicting eat/don’t eat messages.

As mentioned before, it is easy to miss non-events and I was completely oblivious to this thing until my younger daughter asked me to butter her roll for her. Only then did I dimly realize that: “Hey – why aren’t I drooling over this thing sitting in front of me?”

I think it was the ketones. Continue reading “The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7”

The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook

[First, a quick disclaimer: while there’s a chance that I might end up in bankruptcy court because of my habit of obsessively buying books on health, food, and nutrition, reading a lot does not mean I truly understand what I am reading. It was once said that the inherent danger in books is it can create the appearance of knowledge in some – and people not versed in the area might not be able to tell the difference.

Because of this I want you to promise that you will keep this in mind while reading what follows. It’s not meant to be advice for anyone else but myself.

Actually, it’s a gamble. I’ve chosen to take an unorthodox approach to eating based upon what I’ve learned, but this is a personal decision – not an expert opinion.]

The problem with ‘fat’ is it is a gross simplification – and a dangerous one. It’s sort of like thinking every species of fish is the same and handling an interaction with a goldfish the same way you would with a great white shark.

One you might eat on a dare (in college and involving alcohol in the 1920s perhaps) and one might eat you – it’s a very different interaction. Continue reading “The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook”

Why I Hate Supplements

It’s Jimmy Moore’s fault.

Not that I hate Jimmy Moore, of course, he’s a nice guy who tirelessly promotes ‘low carb’ with sincerity, honesty, warmth, and graciousness.

I hate that he made me think about supplements again. That’s not his fault, of course – I take full responsibility for what I choose to do.

He contributed to the e-book Fat Fast Cookbook: 50 Easy Recipes to Jump Start Your Low Carb Weight Loss by Dana Carpender. I like the book, and in it Jimmy mentions that he takes 2 tablespoons of the Carlson’s Lemon-flavored Cod Liver Oil to keep his ketones high on the very high-fat ketogenic diet he was on at the time of the book’s publication. (I don’t know if he’s still doing this now.)

I gave up most supplements after reading about the history of contaminated food in the book Swindled. It talked about the ‘chain of trust’ from the source to the consumer and how often that chain of trust just needed to be broken by one unscrupulous supplier. In England in the 19th century, manufacturers used to boil pickles in copper pots to make them bright green – despite the fact that the copper that made the pickles green also made them poisonous – that why copper pots you buy today have the copper on the outside – it should never touch the food. They also used to sell brightly colored candies for children that got their color from red lead. Lead actually tastes sweet, and the Romans used to put it in their wine to correct the flavor. They didn’t know that lead was poisonous – but the 19th century English knew – and still put it in candy for children. This is just two examples from a book that details hundreds of similar frauds – both in England in the early 18th century and the US in the late 19th century. Continue reading “Why I Hate Supplements”

Starting Again – Again

If there is one thing I would like to banish from the diet community mindset it’s that you can’t ever, ever eat the way you used to and not gain all your weight back. As I’ve surely said before, much of nutrition science isn’t ‘science’ like physics is ‘science’ – it’s folklore.

Perhaps not exactly folklore. Yes – plenty of researchers have run many test on many rats, mice, rabbits and people and discovered interesting things about nutrition along the way. Even assuming that all of it is true, things start to get very fuzzy very quick when at the end the researchers draw their conclusions. Conclusions very frequently find very subtle tendencies that come off as much more definitive in the conclusions drawn. Sometimes the conclusions don’t match the data collected at all. Then herds of people who collect particular types of conclusions to validate their preconceived notions find the studies that best validate their points of view and collect them like trading cards, inflating the points that support their view, and poo-pooing the ones that don’t.

I have been spending a lot of time lately reading books on the history of food, diet, nutrition and digestion, and let me tell you: while the researchers might have more modern lab equipment and no long wear frock coats to work, much of what eventually comes out of all the measuring and probing looks no different from what was concluded 100 or even 200 years ago.

Atkins himself only popularized a diet that had already existed in a number of forms for years. He learned about low carb reading research by another doctor, and that doctor was, no doubt, inspired by a chain of others going back to the 1800s when a fat undertaker lost a lot of weight on a low carb diet and wrote his ‘Letter on Corpulance’.

This has all left me rather suspect of ‘nutrition science’ in general and ‘weight loss science’ in particular.

I think I have arrived at the point where each of us must not seek the perfect weight loss guru, but rather find that guru in ourselves.

The next question that surely arises is: how do I find this guru then? You find it through experimentation and patience, trying this and that until you find what works for you. Edison was said to have tried 10,000 different materials as the filament in his light bulb before finding the one that actually worked – at least for a few hours.

I am sorry to say, that you, my dear dieting friend, probably need that same sort of tenacity and ability to fail over and over without discouragement in order to attain your goal.

The good news is that this does not mean a grim life of deprivation unless you choose to hitch your wagon to those sort of gurus that propose a grim life of deprivation. Life might be a puzzle to most of us, but one thing is clear: we were meant to enjoy food. And there are ways that we can eat and be satisfied and even lose weight, but as of yet there is no single royal road to this goal.

We are biologically different enough in the ways we have adapted to eat, and contain very different chemical oceans inside of us. Low carb has been very good to me and my health so far. I am certain that my way of living might have proven fatal to others.

It’s with these thoughts that I begin yet again to rein myself in so that I can pull off some weight. At 213.6 I am at my highest. I got here because I chose to – not so much as a bizarre proof of my dieting prowess but simply because I wanted to eat pizza with the works, ice cream bars and a juicy steak and wasabi mashed potatoes at the Mother’s Day dinner yesterday. I ate without guilt, and to the point of bursting. It was fun. I love food, and the inch-thick steak went well with the dipping sauce and the potatoes. The two baskets of bread before the dinner did not stop me from polishing off my plate, though toward the end I must admit that, like a marathoner, I wondered if I was going to be able to reach the finish line.

It was close – but I did it.

To further set the stage, this year has been a doozy in terms of stress – and I am a stress eater. The stress got so bad that I even started smoking again for 3 weeks, and was quite heavily drinking Trader Joe’s cheap red wine on an almost daily basis. These got old pretty quick, however, and I stopped both – I made myself sick of both, and am now only sucking on nicotine lozenges – better than cigarettes, certainly, but another annoying habit I will have to kick in the near future. I don’t see it as something bad, however – it’s just ‘something to deal with’.

Diet, nutrition, health, longevity and exercise have all gotten too wrapped up in morality. Both Hitler and Gandhi were vegetarians – I think that makes the point sufficiently.

And what about ‘health’? Should we reach the end of our lives ‘preserved’ or ‘spent’? And does what we eat really matter too much in all of this? Genetics play a big role in this. Years of ‘good eating’ might still land you in an early grave, and it is well-known that many centenarians have been found to have a fondness for cigars, booze and rich foods.

Your name is in that book and there’s a date next to it. You might be able to move it around a bit, but I don’t think that you can move it much. And even if you could – is a long grim life of deprivation worth the trade-off?

As Mae West said: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

One thing I am pretty sure of is that eating ‘virtuous foods’ – ones that proclaim their healthiness on their boxes or packages – is about the surest way to RUIN your health.

So today, with no guilt and no regret, I will again begin my diet. I’m going to start with an old favorite: roast beef and butter. Mostly fat and a little protein. I’ll also bring yogurt to work.

If I know me, I’ll probably fail – but then I’ll begin again. And again, if need be. It’s not the diet that works, it’s the constancy of diet. That ability to begin over and over and not let failures discourage you that seem to lie at the core of whatever success I have had. First and foremost, it’s about learning to lose weight without making yourself miserable.

So I start again. Let’s see what happens.

A Short Breezy History of Diet Gurus Part 1

The history of dieting is a fascinating subject, filled with some decidedly interesting characters. Some of these people devoted their lives to nutrition, and some accidentally stumbled onto it as part of their other lives. While you might not have heard of some of these people, many were the Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil of their times. I’ve done a lot of reading on the history of diets and dieting and below is an incomplete list of some of the ones that stuck in my head.

It is interesting to note their ages and compare to the diets they promoted, though you can’t read too much into this: longevity is based on a number of factors, some of which have nothing to do with lifestyle. Still fun, however.

Warning to lazy researchers: do not use this post as a reference! This is just a fun post dashed off from my own amusement and any ‘facts’ presented here might be wrong – I’m not doing any excruciating fact checking. Do real research.

To make absolutely sure no one confuses this with real research done by a real historian, I have added the subheading ‘Cheap Shots’ to each listing so that I could list unsubstantiated personal attacks by others as well as my own snarky remarks. Continue reading “A Short Breezy History of Diet Gurus Part 1”

Want to Stop Eating Food? Here’s Someone Working on That

soylent

I was very interested to read about Soylent – an experiment by an individual in replacing eating with a simple drink consisting of all the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients sourced as individual chemicals.

This is all the fellow lived on for a month and he’s taking this ‘on the road’ so to speak as he is offering this concoction with other people to learn more about it through other people’s experience with it.

I applaud his N=1 research in this, as he is trying to solve what is to him, dual issues: optimal feeding as well as getting back all that time and money spent prepping food. He takes the approach that eating is somewhat outdated and might be done only for ‘sport’ in that it remains an option for social events rather than something he must do every day – sort of like people use to hunt and fish to sustain themselves but now mostly do it for the pleasure of the act itself. Continue reading “Want to Stop Eating Food? Here’s Someone Working on That”

Research from 1934 Shows a Diet that Induces Ketosis Kills Harmful Bacteria

popscijun1934cover

In doing research for my book, I came across this article from the June, 1934 issue of Popular Science:

If you eat a diet consisting of 140 grams of fat, twenty-five of protein and fifteen of carbohydrate, you can increase the germ-killing ability of your body, researchers at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., have just discovered. Dr. A. E. Osterberg, of the clinic, reported at a meeting of the American Chemical Society that such a diet has been found to increase the production of ketones, or bacteria-destroying acids which are normally manufactured from the fat of the body in the process of digestion.

popsciketonearticleInteresting that the article calls such a diet ‘balanced’ – perhaps science was smarter then about nutrition than we are now? This is a ketogenic low carb diet the researcher was discussing.

It is also interesting that I have never heard the notion that ketones might act as an internal natural bacterial-fighting mechanism. If that is indeed true, it is another benefit of a low carb diet I was unaware of.

You can check out the article yourself at this link: