Friday, August 10, 2012

Had To Punch Another Hole in My Belt

Inward!  That's always nice.

UPDATE: In answer to the question from a reader, here's the comment I made earlier at a PJMedia article about obesity:

Let me add my voice to the high fat, low carbohydrate chorus. I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. Yes, exercise makes a huge difference. I started walking to school in eleventh grade (about a four mile walk), and in a couple of months, I dropped twenty pounds — and even after I stopped walking to school (because I was falling asleep in third period chemistry), I kept the weight off for a couple of years.

I have been struggling for most of the last 30 years with excess weight and minor health problems related to it. Exercise? Lots of exercise. I was using a treadmill almost nightly, covering typically three miles in an hour–and it wasn’t making much difference, because I was eating a food pyramid diet.

The biggest problem is the lie about animal fats vs. carbohydrates. Last year, I changed my diet. I have not completely eliminated carbohydrate from my diet, but there is less of it than there used to be. I now eat eggs, sometimes eggs and sausage for breakfast. For lunch, I usually eat either a roast beef or turkey and cheese sandwich (heavy on the meat) and a banana or apple and a Coke. For dinner, I eat either broiled steak or chicken (typically 1/4 to 1/2 pound), vegetables, and some carbohydrate. And I usually have ice cream or pudding for dessert. My doctor also had me start taking Metformin, a medicine that helps the body do a better job of using blood sugar, instead of converting it to fat.

Since then, I have not dropped any weight–but my pants and shirts are now loose. My cholesterol numbers improved enough that my doctor first reduced my Lipitor dose, then had me stop it completely. My blood pressure, which was high enough that my doctor was considering putting me on medicine for it, is now 110/72, and my pulse is 68. I just punched a new hole in my belt–to make it smaller.

Yes, there are people with health problems that cause obesity, and there are people who have serious self-discipline problems. But our government has spent a lot of time misleading us, too.


  1. Eating what I like, except for limited carbohydrates, and getting a lot of exercise. Eggs and sausage or ham & cheese omelette for breakfast (rarely: a slice of toast). Steak and vegetables with limited carbs for dinner.

  2. Bitter and I started a decent bit a ago, on a "diet" who's only feature was to keep carbs lowish (goal around 50g a day most days). One notch on my belt started feeling loose, so I had to go to two notches. Now two is starting to feel loose sometimes.

    And I'd note I haven't done anything different other than trying to count carbs, and even that I haven't been able to get that strict with some days when there's a company event with carb heavy foods, or we've had visitors.

    So I'm becoming convinced too. The low fat, high carb diets are a total scam. This has taken virtually no self-discipline to do this, other than to suggest we cut out potatoes and pasta out of our diet except for rare occasions, and cut back extremely on bread.

  3. There is an excellent book that talks about just this. And for the life of me I don't remember the title, but it had to do with the cholesterol myth and the dangers of sugar. It literally saved my friend's husband's life. He went from an over weight man with multiple heart attacks to a fit runner with a perfectly healthy heart. He stopped eating sugar.

    It's basically sugar that kills. Not only with diabetes and obesity, but it scars the arteries thus making the fat stick to them causing heart attacks and stroke. Cholesterol (both forms) are actually in high number is an indicator of health. We NEED cholesterol and fat.

    I particularly hate low fat diets being pushed on to kids. Kids need the fat for brain development. Give them whole milk! Give them meat! Stop with the soda and processed specially for them foods.

    p.s. Just finished reading your book! LOVED it! Your bibliography is AWESOME - 40% of the book, no one can tell you you didn't research. Thank you for taking the time to write it and publish it.

  4. The carbohydrate diet thing is almost (almost, not quite) as big a scandal as the deinstitutionalizing of the mentally ill and global warming.

    In 1972, Dr Robert Atkins, a cardiologist, came up with a diet emphasizing protein, not carbohydrates. His theory was that man is a meat eater and appetite is better controlled by protein and even fat. His reputation was savaged by the diet police who created the government food "pyramid."

    In case anyone wonders, it was "replaced" when it became apparent that the whole thing was implicated in the obesity epidemic.

    "Complex carbohydrate 50–70%
    Protein 10–15% "

    Even his Wiki entry perpetuates the slander. He was not a "nutritionist."

    He was vilified by many zealots and, when he died of a slip and fall at age 73, there was great glee over a report that he was obese at autopsy. He wasn't.

    It is now pretty clear that he was right and the obesity epidemic is almost certainly due to the emphasis on carbohydrates. This will be a huge scandal, mitigated only by frantic efforts to mislead the public, as Penn State has done with Michael Mann. The difference is that nobody dies of fake global warming.

  5. Coke, Mr Cramer? No fish?

  6. Coke is one of my little weaknesses. The alternative would be drinking coffee to keep me going, and that's too hard on my stomach.

    No fish. I had a traumatic experience with a fish when I was about five, and anything that I can recognize as a sea creature I can't get near without becoming severely nauseated. Although fish that are not identifiably so, such as Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, fish sticks, and fish & chips--no problem. It's purely psychological.

  7. I question whether it's all carbs, or simple carbs (i.e., sugars) that lead to obesity. The French have been eating bread for centuries, yet there was never an obesity epidemic in France until the past two decades or so, when sugar consumption started to rise dramatically. Ditto for many other cultures where starch-heavy foods (rice, for example) are staples: little obesity until the modern era when sugar started entering the nation's diet in large quantities.

    Not that cutting carbs is a bad idea in general: it's a very effective way to cut calories without cutting nutrients. But sugar, from what I can tell, is MUCH worse than starch, and should be cut first.

  8. rmunn: Ummm, I guess you don't know that starch is a long chain or branched polymer of glucose, a simple sugar? And our saliva is rich in the enzyme that returns it to individual glucose molecules?

    Read further down from the above link for the starch iodine test, which was the basis of a common "kitchen" or classroom biochemistry demonstration in my days.

    Which is not to say there isn't something to how fast sugar "hits your system" (the glycemic index) and that that's not potentially significant for non-diabetics, but I seriously wonder if easily available starch foods make much difference compared to "sugar" (many forms of which require their own enzyme to be broken down from a double sugar like sucrose (table sugar) or lactose (milk sugar) into two simple sugar that can cross your smale intestine).

  9. Starches are indeed polymerized sugars, but there can indeed be real differences in how rapidly the body breaks these down. No diabetic eats french fries to solve a temporary low blood sugar emergency. My own impression is that the same number of calories as sugar satisfy the appetite far more rapidly than the equivalent starch calories.

  10. The other thing that really helps is to eat carbs at night & give your body lots of time to digest it. Remember mixing carbs & proteins takes longer to digest & your body digests/processes it only as carbs. Bonus is learning what constitutes proteins as far as the body is concerned. My favorite is eating rice with beans the body sees it as a protein & digests accordingly. Each by itself is treated as carb only.

    Don't let the simple carb argument fool you. The body really seems carbs as carbs. Fruit is no different than bread or soda, except the added vitamins/ nutrients.

    Find a nutritionist w/ a bio-chem background & they can from blood work tell you how your body processes & digests food. Once you're armed with that info, eating becomes a lot easier & healthier.

  11. I did know that starch is basically a long chain of sugars, which amylase in the saliva will break down into its component simple sugars. My comment was more along the lines of history than science: many countries have had a starch-heavy diet for centuries without much obesity, and have only started suffering obesity epidemic when the consumption of simple sugars skyrocketed.

    In the case I'm most familiar with, France (where I spent most of the 80's and half of the 90's), when I went back to France this past summer I saw lots more obese people than I ever did in the 1980's. The French have been eating starch as a staple for centuries, but sugar only became a heavy component of the French diet in more recent years -- and it's in those same years that the average French person's weight increased dramatically. Correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation... but it usually suggests that there's something there to investigate.

    Does anyone know if Taubes, or others writing about the high-fat, low-carb diet, have written anything about why starch-heavy countries didn't produce much obesity until sugar came along?

  12. I suspect the cost of food plays a part, too. Britain has just recently developed a serious obesity problem where it did not have one before. I wonder if globalization, by improving efficiency of food distribution, made food cheap enough for people with self-discipline problems to afford to overeat. Discouragement of smoking probably plays a part--traditionally why Europeans were thin and Americans were not.

    Another issue is government subsidies. I saw a depressing documentary on one of the cable channels several years ago about obesity, and they interviewed a number of Britons who were so obese that they could, in some cases, not leave their flats. But that's okay, the NHS provided a social worker to bring them food.

  13. It's amazing how many products have high fructose corn syrup in them! Good luck finding something in a can (unless it is diet soda) or box or bag that isn't loaded with it. And not just obvious products like "sweets" but foods that one wouldn't expect to be sweetened. After that sodium is over added to too many processed products.

    I like to observe people's carts at the grocery store to see what they have in them. Of course this is far from a scientific study, but it always seems the most obese people have mostly junk food and processed foods and rarely do they have much if anything from the produce section, that is they have no fresh fruits and vegetables. And if they have meat it is more likely to be red meat only. The larger the person the more ice cream, donuts, chips, cookies, soda, etc they have--the cart is overflowing with that!

    I also find it interesting that in the store I do much of my shopping there are often people from 3rd world countries (there is a sponsored refugee community locally) and they typically are thinner and their carts have very little, if any, processed foods and have mostly fresh produce, beans, rice and meat. I bet though that their children won't be able to maintain that diet but will succumb to the modern American diet and they will have more health problems as a result when they abandon their parent's diet. Since this is a store that is often full of food stamp shoppers I wish the state would require that anyone receiving food stamps have to attend a food preparation and shopping class taught by the refugees that prepare their own meals to the Americans that only seem to know how to open a box or use a microwave. I bet their health would improve and since using less processed foods can be a better "bang for the buck" more people could be fed on assistance that way, that is if there wasn't all of the boxed junk food being purchased!

    How many foods sold have the vitamins processed out so that they have to be re-added!

    Everything I have read and heard states that our modern diet started in the immediate post WW2 years as industrial farming was ramped up and high volumes of subsidies (especially for corn). In our post 1940's era of fast food and supermarkets junk food became a staple. Anyone that was eating before that time for them sodas, chips, candy, ice cream, donuts, etc was something that was only eaten on special occasions whereas now too many people consume mass quantities throughout the day of that stuff. Of course it doesn't help that empty calorie foods tend to stimulate hunger rather than satiate it. That also means more food sold so could there be a conspiracy.....

    Finally there is the "evil" of modern food chemistry where the food scientists can create stuff full of artificial substances that are incredibly tasty making the junk food even harder to resist.

    Personally I'm not for the nanny state, but clearly too many people are ignorant about what they are eating or that certain kinds of foods should only be eaten in small quantities, if at all and should not be the primary staple of ones diet.

    Perhaps when oil goes high again (which seems inevitable) and with the drought causing a spike in corn and meat prices maybe that will result in a better outcome in eating patterns.

  14. " wonder if globalization, by improving efficiency of food distribution, made food cheap enough for people with self-discipline problems to afford to overeat. Discouragement of smoking probably plays a part--traditionally why Europeans were thin and Americans were not."

    I've noticed the absence of obesity in Paris although there is more in the south. Exercise has a lot to do with obesity, or lack of it. The Framingham study early on included a group of Irish twins who were separated because one had emigrated to Boston and the other stayed in Ireland. The Irish twins had a much higher calorie and carb intake than the Boston twins, but had far less cardiac disease and the conclusion was that exercise made the difference. The Irish twin walked something like seven miles a day. I don't recall that obesity per se was discussed.

  15. My sister did Atkins, some years ago, and I was anything but supportive.

    Back a few months ago, someone suggested I read Gary Taubes, and I did so, and that convinced me to start restricting carbs.

    Since Jun 11th, I've lost 30 pounds. And my blood pressure is down, and my lipids significantly improved.

    Plus I feel better. The little aches and pains I've suffered are gone. I have a lot more energy, much more endurance.

    I'm not sold on the idea that low-carb is perfect for everybody. But I'm convinced that it's the right choice for people with insulin problems. (And that I, and quite a large proportion of the population, have insulin problems.)

  16. Anonymous 8-12-12, 11:49.
    And another thing is the almost perverse fact that more obese people have more and bigger fat cells, so they have a higher caloric "demand", so to speak. All those cells are screaming for food. As people lose weight they tend to also be less hungry so long as the calorie intake can match the expenditure.