Obesity Not Your Fault?

The BBC reports on a study which concludes that obesity is not the fault of the individual but the inevitable result of:

a society in which energy-dense, cheap foods, labour-saving devices, motorised transport and sedentary work were rife.

For those who have evolved a superior ability to survive on less calories, the age of abundance is, weight-wise, more of a curse than a blessing. A classic example is the Pima Indians who report high levels of obesity on a modern diet.

Rant: If your genes make it easier for you to get fat, then your genes simply mean you have to make more effort to stay fit.  It’s not easy when we are surrounded by foods we are not well adapted but those are just the cards we’re dealt. It sucks but waiting around for the government to legislate away all the factors that make me fat is tantatmount to waiting for death.


Alzheimer’s and Living Low Carb

The Washington Post reports on the correlation between “pre-diabetes” (high blood sugar levels not yet in the diabetic range) and alzheimer’s:

People with elevated blood sugar levels may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, researchers reported yesterday at an international conference. Scientists already have linked Type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer’s, which afflicts 4.5 million Americans.

Full Article

So what can you do to protect yourself? Go low carb of course… well at least according to Dr. Larry McCleary, the author of  The Brain Trust who describes ketones as “the brain’s preferred fuel.”
Via Living La Vida Low Carb 

Myths About Nutrition

Over at Pejung’s blog there is a great list of common nutrition fallacies.

Word of Warning: Truth is a function of time – and no more so than in the world of nutrition science. Nevertheless, this is a great list which accurately reflects where truth stands today…

Myth: Heart disease in America is caused by consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products.

Truth: During the period of rapid increase in heart disease (1920-1960), American consumption of animal fats declined but consumption of hydrogenated and industrially processed vegetable fats increased dramatically.

Myth: Saturated fat clogs arteries.

Truth: The fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated.

Many More Myths

Via Redtailblogger

Quick-burning carbs may cause fatty liver

MiceCity Mouse and Country Mouse

Here’s an interesting one: two sets of mice were fed identical diets of corn starch with equal calories… but the corn starch had a high glycemic index (“GI”) for one group and a low GI for the other. The result: six months later the mice weighed the same!

BUT (the big but), their body compositions differed singificantly: the high GI group had twice the normal amount of fat in their bodies, blood and livers. The low GI diet mice had normal fat levels.

Besides being a good promo for a low GI diet, the results also show that measuring your health by the scales alone is a big mistake.

Full Article. Via Modern Forager.

You Can’t Burn it Off

Despite some recent reports that strength training can reduce body fat, there is a growing consensus that exercise has no impact on weight loss.

New York magazine reports on science’s growing realisation that there was never a scientific basis to the belief that exercise can promote weight loss.

The problem, as he and his contemporaries saw it, is that light exercise burns an insignificant number of calories, amounts that are undone by comparatively effortless changes in diet. In 1942, Louis Newburgh of the University of Michigan calculated that a 250-pound man expends only three calories climbing a flight of stairs—the equivalent of depriving himself of a quarter-teaspoon of sugar or a hundredth of an ounce of butter. “He will have to climb twenty flights of stairs to rid himself of the energy contained in one slice of bread!” Newburgh observed. So why not skip the stairs, skip the bread, and call it a day?

When we exercise our bodies compensate by making us hungrier. We eat more and weight tends to remain stable. Worse still, when we stop exercising, our appetites are slow to respond causing a tendancy to gain weight.

This does not mean there are no reasons for exercising. There are plenty: improvements in fitness, potential longevity and reduction in cardiovascular disease. But to enjoy these benefit exercise should be a life-long pursiut and should not be relied upon as the basis of a weight-loss programme.

The improvements in muscle mass and body composition caused by exercise may help you cope with dieting better, but the bottom line is that if you want to lose weight, you need to EAT LESS than you burn. Period. Furthermore, if you are genetically predisposed to a higher body mass index, you should be prepared for the reality that to maintain the “new slim you”, you may have to be constantly be in a state of slight calorie deprivation and thus hungry.

Is a Calorie a Calorie?

Over at Body Recomposition, Lyle McDonald has written a great article which explores the question “are all calories created equal?”

Simply put, the debate comes down to this: all that matters is caloric balance (calories in versus calories out) or do the source of those calories matter?

Does eating 100 calories of fat have the same impact on weight as 100 calories of protein or fat? Certainly diets with different mixes of these elements report different degrees of success – namely that the success of low carb diets tend to suggest that carbs are the heavier calories. But perhaps this is a misinterpretation of the data…

[where calories are strictly controlled]… given adequate protein, it seems to matter very little what diet is chosen. From a weight or bodyfat standpoint, high carb should be as good as low-carb.

But as Lyle goes on to explain, the sad truth is that the assumption that the calories can be controlled is virtually impossible in the real world and that is where the different foods show their true impact on our bodies…

Put a little bit differently, it might very well be possible to lose all the weight/fat you wanted on a calorie controlled junk-food diet with some high quality protein source. The problem that would probably arise is that most people wouldn’t be able to control their hunger or appetite on such a diet and they’d probably end up eating more in the long run. In eating more, they’d either lose less weight/fat or even gain it. Even if a given dietary approach appears optimal for some reason, if you can’t control your caloric intake, and end up eating more because of it, it won’t produce results. (…)

As well, the source of calories can affect other aspects of physiology beyond body composition. Health, energy levels, hunger/appetite and all the rest interact here. So while a calorie controlled diet of jelly beans, butter and protein powder might very well work to lose weight/fat, it probably wouldn’t be as healthy compared to a diet of low GI carbohydrates, healthier oils and lean protein sources.

So the bottom line is that the question is flawed. Calories are more or less calories… but different foods will have differing impacts on your tendancy to eat and lose weight – both in the short and long term.

Understand me here? Issues such as hunger control, long-term adherence, individual variance, athletic performance, and a few others all go into the determination of what food might or might not be a better choice under a given set of circumstances. So while a calorie might be more or less a calorie under somewhat artificial conditions (where calories are or can be strictly controlled), it’s a little more complex than that in the real world.


How I Defeated Type II Diabetes

I great account by a guy who came to indepentantly discover CRON “Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition” – a lifestyle and diet change which effectively cured his type II diabetes (or at least brought it under permanent control) along with a number of other benefits.