I got my copy of todays RunnerConnect newsletter discussing the possible merits of a high fat diet for distance athletes. Read it here if you’re interested. I admit that I really like Jeff Gaudette’s site and the information that he puts out there. One of the things I really like is his ability to draw good conclusions from the data; which, more often than not, is “we need more data”. In this particular instance, there is some data that seems to support the notion of increasing the fat content for some very long distance athletes. But this is not transferrable to all athletes and, in fact, is probably relevant to very few. Since so many people don’t bother to read beyond the headline, I worry that putting information like that out there will induce some to endorse a high fat diet because they are “athletes”, which is exactly the wrong conclusion. But given the amazing amount of conflicting information available and the overall lack of understanding about nutrition, it’s easy to see why everyone is so messed up about choosing what to eat.
Now, of course, it’s almost New Year’s. It’s the craziest time of the year for the diet industry as millions of American’s come to grips with the fact, at least for a week or so, that it’s another year and they’re still fat. So we’ll be bombarded with Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, SlimFast, and all of the other quackery. Millions or even billions of dollars will be spent in a pathetic effort to reduce, while still guzzling gallons of sugary sweet drinks and eating fast food. It’s sad and painful to watch and it’s repeated year after year.
I know that I’m a small voice in a vast wilderness of misinformation and unrealistic promises, but people it isn’t that hard. You just need a grocery store that sells produce. Really. Well, that and you have to quit eating fast food. But really, didn’t anyone see “Super Size Me“? I admit I’m appalled to find that Apple iTunes lists that under “Comedy”. Tragic comedy, perhaps.
To paraphrase James Carville’s famous campaign slogan for Bill Clinton, America has gotten fat because of the food we eat. It’s not complicated at all. I can already hear the myriad hands waving in the air for attention to tell me that it’s our inactivity. OK, it’s that too, but it’s much more about the diet than the general inactivity of Americans. If you’d like to read why, I refer you to John Walker’s excellent book “The Hacker’s Diet: How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition“. Mr. Walker has always made his work available for free; find it here. For those that are not familiar with Mr. Walker and his work, he is a computer software engineer who created the software packages AutoDesk and AutoCAD. He is not a nutritionist or a physician, but rather an engineer who took an engineering approach to weight control. It is not a touchy feely book and definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great read, particularly for men who want to lose weight and (generally) don’t have as much emotional investment in the process.
In the part of the book where he discusses the futility of simply increasing exercise levels to help lose weight he concludes:
“But don’t delude yourself into thinking that exercise can do the whole job. For many of us, exercising just causes us to eat that little bit more that cancels out its benefits. The calories burned by exercising, even counting the secondary effects on metabolism, can be erased by even the slightest increases in food intake.”
While I’m giving you the conclusion, follow the link above (or on the Links page) to read his incredibly rational and mathematical reasoning on why you have to change your diet to accomplish long lasting weight control.
When you’re convinced, come back here and I’ll tell you why you should go plant based!
To make it short and sweet, only Colorado, California, Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have obesity rates less than 25% in adults.
Having listened to patients complain about their weight for 20 years, I know that it’s inevitable that someone is going to argue that they (or we) are fat because of our genes. That’s a load of crap. The CDC reports that the average weight for adults in the US increased at least 24 pounds between the early 1960’s and 2002. And it’s gone up since. So, with a few exceptions, your parents and grandparents were not as fat as you.
I actually thought this would be self-evident, but wouldn’t you know the moment I put this up one of my friends asked if I chose an apple favicon because I favor Apple computers. Um, no. I’m pretty sure that would have brought down the Apple legal team down on me like the fist of god and squelched this little enterprise before it even got started.
Pretty much everyone has heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. There’s a nice little history synopsis of that on Wikipedia. Better yet, read the September 2013 Washington Post article that is the main source for the Wiki entry. The simple conclusion is that apples are good for you. Duh. Hey, guess what? Apples are also plants! You can scour the web all you want, but you’re not going to find “a filet a day keeps the cardiologist away” or “two glasses of milk a day keeps the doctor away”. Why do you think that is?
Also interesting, at least to me, is that neither the article nor the Wiki comments on the social ramifications of the phrase, which seems to clearly indicate that seeing the doctor is an outcome to be avoided. Since the current phrase was apparently coined around 1922, I’d say there’s been a major cultural shift in the last 100 years. I’m sure we’ll hear more on this later…