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:

I Don’t Want Any, Sweetheart – I Want it ALL! – Scenes from a Low Carb Life #1

[Note: as I revise and edit my book, there are portions that don’t quite fit anywhere. Here you go.] 

It was a beautiful fall day and the wife wanted to take the family to the park. We also had to take a ride afterward so I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from – literally. I’m doing this Induction without the benefit of a lot of portable foods like Atkins shakes and nuts so I needed to eat an ample amount of calories before I left. I grabbed some roast beef and Belgian butter and made 4 roll-ups and had those while everyone got ready. I also downed a Greek yogurt as well. This gave me a total of 770 calories as well as ample protein and plenty of fat to run on. No matter what happens, I should be fine. Continue reading “I Don’t Want Any, Sweetheart – I Want it ALL! – Scenes from a Low Carb Life #1”

Weight Loss and Happiness are Two Different Things

We only get one ride on this carousel. Pick a horse you like, go for the brass ring, and even if you don’t get it, be sure to enjoy the ride.

The above popped in my head after reading a harrowing and sad story of weight loss in Slate magazine. Titled ‘I Once was Obese’, it chronicles just how miserable the author needed to become, and has resigned herself to continue being, in order to become a size 12.

Is it worth it? I won’t judge this person, except to say that she makes a solid point against the ‘virtue’ of weight loss. ‘Virtue’ – the quality of a person – cannot be measured by a waist size. Neither can happiness, though a lot of fat people think a certain weight will make them happy.

Un, no – it doesn’t. Fat or thin, if we don’t know how to make ourselves happy, we will find things to bitch about. Continue reading “Weight Loss and Happiness are Two Different Things”

Making the World a Better Place One Bite at a Time

Please forgive the off-topic post, but I can’t help myself.

This is a blog about weight loss, but it is also about the love of food, in all it’s good and bad shades, and about enough – the notion that there is an amount for all of us that is just right – not too much, not too little – a measure that fulfills and sustains, and allows us to find peace of mind and happiness in not only the act of eating, but life itself.

I often remind myself that I have an embarrassment of riches. I write this from the comfort of my home, a refrigerator stocked with food I’d rather not eat too much of nearby, and have written about this dilemma and the remedies to this for over 5 years.

Sadly, for many people in the US in this day and age, there are people for whom my problem of eating too much is a slap in the face: they go to bed hungry, not because they are on a diet by choice, but because their circumstances have left them without food. Continue reading “Making the World a Better Place One Bite at a Time”

Atkins Induction: How Does It Feel at Day 30?

On September 2, 2012, I was 207.6. This morning, October 10, 2012, I am 193.0 – 14.6 lbs down in 39 days.

Today, if I haven’t messed up in my counting, I have been on a strict ketogenic-type low carb diet – pretty much a long-term Atkins Induction for 30 days straight and am less than 10 pounds away from my target weight of 185, which is when my wife starts to complain that I look too thin.

I am on day 30. I haven’t been in ketosis this long for a long, long, time.

I have proven conclusively something that I thought I could do but had no proof: that after another 9 years older, I could have the same kind of results I had on Atkins the first go-round.

There’s a notion in the low carb community about ‘The Golden Shot’ – that low carb only works once, and if you lose it and gained it back, you can’t repeat it.

In actuality, it seems you can do this – it just takes a little longer. But what I am finding is that I don’t care about how long it takes because  the diet is making me, in general, feel better. Continue reading “Atkins Induction: How Does It Feel at Day 30?”

Jillian Michaels Would Never Do a Low Carb Diet on ‘The Biggest Loser’

I have been doing a ketogenic Atkins-style low carb diet since September 10, and have been in induction for about 25 days straight.

How boring.

Jillian Michaels would ‘never’ get a gig doing a TV show about my diet: I don’t look uncomfortable,  I am not dying of hunger, I’m not exercising, I eat til I’m full. There’s no emotion, no drama to it – no one needs to scream into my face: “This is for your own good!”

It’s about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Despite the lack of excitement, of hunger, of straining, of drama, I have lost about 10 pounds – I am currently 193.6. The week before I had started this I was 207 and had gone down to 203, so I think it is safe to assume I lost all my water weight prior to my experiment and the 10 pounds I’ve lost since then are mostly fat.

That’s about 2-3/4 pounds per week – a little too much weight loss, really. You should only lose about 2 pounds per week. Perhaps I should eat more. Or maybe I’m getting too much exercise – I did mow the lawn today…

At this point, all of the goodies in the house that surround me hold little interest – I don’t even notice them anymore. There’s no struggle, no willpower required.

With all the extra time I have not exercising and not struggling, I like to lie in bed and read a book.

How boring.

If you are looking for an exciting diet, one where you will struggle and strain, heroically resist near constant hunger and temptation, exercise until exhausted,  challenge yourself physically and emotionally, and perhaps question whether your life is even worth living,  I recommend a low-calorie diet with plenty of exercise.

It might also prove entertaining for TV watchers and provide a steady income for Jillian Michaels – ‘America’s Toughest Trainer’.

You can check out her awesome site – and her $4.99 per month ‘no gimmick’ diet plan of ‘self, science, and sweat’ here.

Me? I think I’ll pass. I like my diets boring.

Can The Soap You Use Make You Fat AND Cause a Heart Attack?

Maybe – if it’s antibacterial soap.

First, let me point out that ‘antibacterial’ soap is completely unnecessary. The FDA says so:

the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

It’s a marketing ploy – a magic word on a label that is supposed to make you feel one particular soap is better than another. We’re scared of germs, and some sharp tack came up with ‘antibacterial’ soap to play to this fear.

And we fell for it.

Now it’s an antibacterial arms race of sorts. The chemical that gives soap – and a lot of other products – an antibacterial action is triclosan, which is a pesticide approved by the FDA in 1969 – betcha you won’t find that fact on the soap label.

There’s also the potential that the stuff can disrupt our endocrine systems – the system that regulates our hormones and can make us fat:

‘In animals studies triclosan lowers thyroid hormone levels

As well as a concern in the medical community that all this ‘antibacterial’ this and that is sort of a Crossfit workout for germs, making them stronger and more resistant as they evolve to resist these chemicals – causing more antibiotic-resistant germs to exist – which means that when you *do* actually get a bacterial infection that is life-threatening, it is becoming more likely that docs will have a hard time finding an antibiotic that can effectively treat it.

But let’s not quibble over these minor issues, right? We’re going for bigger fish here – new research that shows that triclosan actually weakens your muscles. If you’re not a jock and think this doesn’t concern you, remember: your heart is a muscle. While the entire article is worth a careful read, let me cherry-pick a single quote from a probably disreputable source – Smithsonian Magazine:

”The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic,” said co-author Nipavan Chiamvimonvat. “Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.” He speculates that in some cases, triclosan may be responsible for exacerbating heart problems in patients with an underlying condition.

Oopsies.

The good news is the FDA is ‘looking into the matter’ at present and might or might not do something about this ingredient appearing in adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics (toys, toothbrushes), polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene, floor wax emulsions, textiles (footwear, clothing), caulking compounds, sealants, rubber, carpeting, and a wide variety of other products. They are going to ‘begin the process of reviewing in 2013‘.

Don’t you feel better?

Finishing up my little rant here, the Smithsonian piece ends with a quote from one of the researchers. It’s a classic of scientific understatement:

”Triclosan can be useful in some instances, however it has become a ubiquitous ‘value added’ marketing factor that actually could be more harmful than helpful,” said study co-author Bruce Hammock.

Ya think?!?

 

Fat People Lose Their Thinking Skills Faster Than Thin People

Lifted from Business Insider, who lifts stuff all the time:

Fatter people are more likely to lose their memories and brain power quicker than those who are thinner, according to British research.

Those who are obese, and have other health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, lose their memory and thinking skills almost a quarter faster, found researchers at University College London.

Their study was based on almost 6,500 Whitehall civil servants, whose health was monitored between the ages of 50 and 60.
They were weighed and measured, their blood pressure and cholesterol levels were taken, and they were also asked what medication they were taking.

In addition, they were asked to perform mental tests three times during the decade, which were used to assess memory and other cognitive skills.

Of the 6,401 civil servants in the study, nine per cent (582) were obese. Of those, 350 were also classed as “metabolically abnormal” – meaning they had two additional risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, were taking medication for either condition, or were diabetic.

The researchers found the obese tended to lose their mental powers faster than their thinner colleagues, while those who also had additional conditions lost their memory and thinking skills fastest of all.

The latter group experienced a 22.5 percent faster decline on their cognitive test scores over the decade than those who were healthy.

Archana Singh-Manoux, of the Paris research institute Inserm, who contributed to the study, said their results indicated the idea that people could be obese but still healthy was flawed.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We do not yet know why obesity and metabolic abnormality are linked to poorer brain performance, but with obesity levels on the rise, it will be important to delve a little deeper into this association.

“While the study itself focuses on cognitive decline, previous research suggests that a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol in midlife can also help stave off dementia.

“With dementia figures spiralling towards a million, the findings suggest we should be conscious of our general health throughout life.”

Of course, it could have something to do with being a fat British civil servant – these’s types of observational studies are fraught with danger when you start extrapolating their conclusions to people outside the study.

Still interesting, though it doesn’t explain all the thin stupid people – fat people have *certainly* not cornered the market on stupidity, as can be evidenced by reading the news.

The Evil Plot to Persuade You that Calories Are All That Matter

If you are reading this, you’re not normal.

The fact that you would be interested in reading a post like this places you squarely out of that part of the bell curve where most people reside. To them, the title of this post might resonate as paranoid or foolish – or not resonate at all. ‘Somebody has way too much time on their hands’ they might say to themselves, as if I was questioning the length of an inch.

While I think someday I could write a book about calories – particularly ‘food calories’ as invented by Wilbur Olin Atwater – right now I wanted to put forth a relatively simple proposition: while there is much debate about whether calories matter, in the larger picture this debate is meaningless.

While people interested in nutrition debate if and how calories count, regular, ordinary people who do not spend their time on such things and decide to try to lose some weight count calories.

And regardless of the outcome of this debate, one aspect of calorie counting would probably not be denied by any side in the discussion: counting calories allows food manufacturers to sell food with no nutritive value.

In marketing, the art directors decide the size of the biggest fonts. The lawyers and regulators determine the size of the smallest font.

In the image above, look at the size of the ‘100 cal’ on the box. To take up that much real estate is a clear indication that the cookies in the box are not trying to make the sale because they are tasty, because the manufacturer is known for quality, and certainly not because the cookies are nutritious.

What moves these empty calories off the shelf is the boast of only 100 calories. Yes – there’s a nutrition label – on the side – and an ingredient label – both in the smallest type allowable by law. But if you’re over 40, better have your glasses with you – especially for that ingredient label.

Now – why, exactly, am I getting my shorts in a twist here about 100 measly calories? What’s the big deal?

Exactly.

This is exactly why food manufacturers love calories – they completely divorce what is actually in the food you put into your body from a measurement that a lot of people use – for better or worse – as a benchmark for what they should put into their body.

Yeah – they give you the complete nutrition info and ingredients – but only 60 percent of people actually read the nutrition labels and fewer understand them.

Even fewer must read the ingredients.

And if you buy into the notion of using calories to watch your food intake, about the worst thing you can do to yourself (unless you’re a numbers freak and love to calculate stuff) is to cook your own food from scratch.

Let’s say you want to deep fry your own chips, for example. You buy high temperature oil and pour it into the deep fryer. Slice the potatoes, and fry them up, lay them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, then eat a dozen. How many calories was that?

Well, you can find out that a medium potato is about 160 calories, and a teaspoon of canola oil is about 120 calories. But you deep-fried them in an entire bottle – how many tablespoons are in the chips?

I suppose if you’d like to find that out you can pour the remaining oil into a measuring cup, and if you knew how much you started with, you can subtract that number of ounces from what left and find out you used 4 fluid ounces.

But then how much got soaked into the paper towel? It’s not a trivial calculation as oil is very calorically dense and even a small amount is a lot of calories. Well, you can weigh the potato beforehand, then afterward, calculate the difference in weight, then calculate the weight of the oil by converting the fluid ounces – a volumetric measurement – into weight, then determining the total…

Or just say ‘screw it – let’s just buy some chips in a 100-calorie snack bag.’

So you see, marketing designed to encourage counting calories is carefully designed to drive you toward processed food. If you eat unprocessed food, you’re more likely to eat way better in terms of quality and without a load of preservatives and pesticides – but you won’t be able to count calories all that well.

So maybe no matter who wins the debate on whether calories count is missing the point entirely? Maybe we should stop counting calories because it leads to poor food choices?

13 Simple Rules To Lose Weight and Be Happy Doing It

There’s so much advice on weight loss – where to begin?!?

May I be so bold as to say begin here?

You want some simple rules that will peel off the weight? Based on real-world experience from a not-too-bright person who doesn’t really exercise, doesn’t have all that much willpower, and loses weight? A guy who has been at it for 9 years and has kept off 65 pounds most of that time? Here you go:

  1. Write down everything you eat. Practice keeping a journal. The definition of ‘practice’ is that you will fail a lot, but you keep at it and get better  – like playing the piano. Make your journal as simple or as detailed as you like. Experiment. Journaling raises awareness
  2. Ride the motivation wave. When motivation is high – go with the flow. When it isn’t – relax. It’s like sailing: when the wind doesn’t blow, wait patiently and enjoy the view.
  3. Don’t be in a rush.
  4. If you are unhappy on your diet, mix it up. People lose weight on low carb diets AND low-calorie diets. It’s not illegal to switch back and forth. I won’t tell
  5. Practice not snacking.
  6. Don’t drink your calories if you can help it. Make this a practice as well.
  7. Practice the reducing of processed foods in your diet as much as possible. Avoid as many chemicals and additives as you can
  8. Stay away from weight-loss supplements – they’re expensive, possibly dangerous, and will NOT lead to long-term, sustainable weight loss
  9. If you have a lot of weight to lose, consider going on a diet first, take off some weight, then exercise. Anyone who tells you that you can’t lose weight without exercising is simply wrong.
  10. Unplanned cheats should NEVER upset you. In the long-term, they don’t matter. Just get back on the horse tomorrow
  11. If you lose weight then plateau, think of it as a place to rest. To throttle back, to recuperate before the next leg of your journey
  12. Don’t do anything to yourself that smacks of emotional abuse or physical abuse. Your health and well-being can’t be measured by a number on a scale.
  13. Realize that weight loss might make you happier but it won’t make you happy. If you pin all your hopes on weight loss making you happy, you’re in for a letdown when you reach your target. Happiness is being at peace with yourself now – not in some future place. It doesn’t mean you don’t strive for things, or don’t work hard, or even fail occasionally. If you count your blessings and fight the good fight every day, you’re in a good place.

That’s it. Short and sweet. Start your practice now.