Tag Archives: diet

Low-fat diets discredited

Low-fat diets are starting to be discredited all over the place. Here is a study that spent $700M over 8 years, trying to prove that low-fat diets with lots of added veggies and whole grains helped post-menopausal women avoid or recover heart disease and diabetes.


In fact it found the exact opposite.
“Women with diagnosed cardiovascular disease at the start of the trial who adopted the ‘healthy heart’ low-fat eating option had a risk of developing future cardiovascular complications that was 26% higher than that of the non-intervention group.”
“The leanest women at the start of the trial gained weight on the low-fat diet and those with the least insulin resistance at the start of the trial were at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) if assigned to the low-fat diet.”
“The low-fat diet also worsened glucose control in women with diagnosed diabetes”

More links along the same lines

The episode of Dr. Oz’s TV show where he denounces low-fat dietary advice

The acclaimed article in BMJ on saturated fat not being the problem

The report from Credit Suisse on the dangers of sugar

The recent episode of the Australian science television show on how saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease.

Plan for September: eat MORE and exercise LESS

My plan for this month is to eat MORE and exercise LESS. Yes, I know that sounds backwards, but here is my thinking.

1. I have had great results with Paleo but I have been playing fast and loose, and having stuff I shouldn’t be having a bit too often. I can have bread, but I’ve decided I don’t want to have it every day. So I’m taking this month to re-focus on core Paleo. Also, there’s some “extra” stuff I’m doing that is sort of OK but not really important to basic paleo. For example, intermittent fasting, and carb re-feeds. It doesn’t hurt, but it would benefit me more to get my basic, core paleo skills back on track. Here is my resource for that: http://everydaypaleo.com/just-paleo/ and Whole30.

2. I lowered my calorie budget a LOT and I think that it allowed me to lose some weight, but it’s brought me closer to “starvation mode” than I like. Mark’s response to someone’s letter brought this home for me. So I’m raising my budget closer to what Lose It suggests for my size. Key reading here: http://everydaypaleo.com/fat-loss-template/ and http://www.marksdailyapple.com/…/

3. I have been doing heavy lifting with a small amount of cardio. But I have been neglecting the #1 primal workout: walking. So for September I will try to get as much walking per day as possible and not go for my normal lifting/cardio schedule. Key reading material: Month 1 of http://everydaypaleo.com/fat-loss-template/ and “2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.” http://www.marksdailyapple.com/…/

4. SLEEP is crucial and I have been staying up late and rising early, too often. So I will commit to going to bed on time and trying to get 8 hrs of quality sleep during September. I know it’s important, I just need to do it. I should stop eating around 8 or 9 and get to bed between 10 and 11.

Depending on how it goes in September I will probably want to move on to Month 2 of http://everydaypaleo.com/fat-loss-template/ where I add back in some lifting and may even take up meditation for stress reduction. Hmm.

Weight loss journey: skills and practices

Here are some of the important life skills and practices that I have learned in my weight loss journey.

1. Logging and measuring everything, at least while I’m making changes.
2. Really listening to my body to know when I’m hungry or satisfied.
3. Being aware of nutrient balance (fat/carbs/protein)
4. Experimenting, pushing the limits for 4-week intervals in the early game.
5. Being honest with myself about what plans will be sustainable over the long term (rest of my life) and rejecting anything that still requires lots of motivation after the first 4 weeks.

I think I do 1 and 2 every day, many times a day, and I do 3,4,5 once a week — weekly check-ins are important to my plan.

Whole30 round 2 planned for June – I’m doing this

I have decided to do another Whole30 in June, starting today. Is anyone interested in doing it with me? Reach out to me if so.

The story so far: I’ve posted quite a bit about my Paleo journey so far. “A tale of two diets — How I renegotiated my relationship to food” ( http://blog.nekodojo.org/archives/2013/1010 ) is a great summary. Quick version: Over many years I have tried different diets and lost about 20 pounds, but nothing really worked well for the long term. Then I found Paleo and LCHF, then it just clicked. It has been 1.5 years and I’ve lost another 78 (for a total of 98 pounds).

I found Whole30 only later, but it is very closely matched to what I was already doing. The only difference is that Whole30 is more strict (i.e. no dairy) and designed to be used for only 30 days, then you’re free to choose your own path again, adding back some of the questionable foods carefully and seeing how it goes. Whole30 is designed to be a 30-day experiment, to reset your system and find a new baseline. So, I did this in March along with a few friends and had some good results.

Since then I am still doing fine, though I’m not losing as much as I want and I still think I would like to lose another 15-20 to be in a healthy range. I am pretty happy with my eating now, but there are still some minor adjustments to make. So during june, no cheat/treat days, no dairy, no dark chocolate. These are things that I definitely want in my life, but I’m taking a break from them for 30 days, so that after this time I can appreciate them properly in smaller amounts.

Also I’ve made some friends on Lose It ( http://www.loseit.com ) and we’ve had successful Whole30 challenges during Feb, Mar, Apr and May. So I’m also doing this to show support for folks who are trying this during June, or continuing what they have already started. I’m thinking of you, Marilyn, Donell, Joy, Stella, Barbara, buzybee, Jazzy, ervic, Jay, Megan, Paula, Carol, Julie, June, Krista, April, Tiffany, Anne, Kristie, Emily, Buffy, Beccah, and many others I’m probably forgetting. You’re all doing great.

So if you have been thinking about a change and you want to join the Whole30 team for June, let me know!


Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition

I love this article… it is a great summary of why everything we think we know about weight loss is wrong.  Plus, it has links to real, honest scientific research.

Some of the biggest lies:
Lie 5. Low-Fat Foods Are Good For You
Lie 9. Low Carb Diets Are Dangerous
Lie 11. High Fat Foods Will Make You Fat

I was also pleased to see that most of the “life lessons” I have learned along the way (in the last 2 years anyway) are actually listed here :)

Any thoughts about it? Anything you really disagree with?

A tale of two diets – Part one: The story about quality vs. quantity

I'm making a list of things I have discovered which are either unexpected, or actually the complete opposite of what I believed before. 

For now I'm expressing them as "old story" and "new story" and avoiding charged labels like "myth" and "fact".  The old story may work for some people… the new story works better for me.

Here's one:  The story about quality vs. quantity.
Old story: A great diet plan means eating whatever I want, in moderation.  
New story: If I find the right set of foods, I can eat whenever I am hungry, and not stress about it other times.

Most of us believe that "calories" is the most important measurement of a diet.  Eat a 2000 calorie diet and gain weight, or eat a 1200 calorie diet and lose weight.  "A calorie is a calorie" or "Calories in, calories out" are common expressions of this story. 

I have thought long and hard about why I'm uncomfortable with this story.  "Calories in, calories out" is both true and unhelpful.  It says that our natural "hunger" signals are there to betray us and they must be wrong.  Some lucky people get to eat whenever they are hungry, and others don't.  If you have eaten more than enough calories and you're still hungry, you must be a defective person or have crappy willpower.  We're told to pay no attention to the type of food we're eating, just the amount.

Where else in our life is quantity the most important thing?  When I go buy a T.V. I don't want half of the best model, and I don't want three crappy models.

Anyone want to help add to the list?  Tell me if you have had other "revelations" on your own path.

What works for me: Diet changes first, exercise later

What we are always told:
Diet and exercise are both important.  If you do only one, and not the other, you will not succeed.

What I found to be true for me:
Exercise never helped me to lose weight.  It was usually either a distraction, or messed with my diet, or even worse, gave me pain and injuries.  I've seen some news lately that suggests exercise is important for health, but not actually effective for weight loss.

So, my experience was that changing my diet (i.e. less carb more fat) allowed me to get to 70% of my goal.  Now I am able to exercise without hurting myself, so I started a modest workout plan.  It has slowed down my weight loss, but I am not too concerned.

Low-carb and Diabetes

I'm not officially "diabetic" but my doctor says I am "prediabetic". So some time back I got a blood glucose meter and tested myself for a while. Since then I have also started a very low-carb diet (call it Primal/Paleo or LCHF) and have lost a lot of weight. My HbA1C tests have showed I am still on the borderline, but my doctor says it shows "excellent control" (mine is 5.1%, non-diabetic will be 4.9% or less).

So I probably still have some level of insulin resistance, and will keep checking things. But, I am happy with the weight loss (70 pounds so far in the last 18 months) and I'm feeling great.

What does ADA have to say about low-carb diets? Not much.

Re-negotiating my relationship to food

I want to re-negotiate my relationship to food.

Typical low-fat diet wisdom

  • Eat a lot of small meals during the day
  • Diet and exercise together–both are important
  • Portion control is key
  • Eat protein, starch, and veggies about equally
  • Avoid fat, no "bad" fats, small amount of "good" fats
  • Avoid sweets
  • Carbs are the body's "preferred" fuel
  • Number of calories is the most important measurement of the diet
  • If you eat fat, you can only eat half as much food as when you're eating carbs

What's wrong with this picture?

  • I want to eat when I am hungry. I don't want to feel hungry and I don't want to busy myself eating when I am not hungry.
  • I know short-term diets don't work.  I know I need to find a plan that I can live with for the rest of my life.
  • I want to find the right balance of food for me.  I haven't found it yet, but since I started actively experimenting on myself, I feel I am much closer.
  • I don't want to count calories in order to live.  If I can find the "right" foods, I would prefer to eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm not hungry.  The "right" foods are the ones that I can eat more of, if I feel the urge.
  • Keeping track of what I eat is necessary only while I'm re-learning how to eat, or when I'm actively experimenting on myself.
  • I don't know how to "listen to my body" to learn what it truly needs.  Since I've had a lifetime of learning the wrong way to eat, and have picked up habits that don't work well, the messages from my body may be drowned out by other messages, or may even be fundamentally wrong.  I would like to learn this skill, though. I want to be able to follow the signals from my own body rather than ignore them or fight them.  I need to find the right channels to tune in.
  • I love food, and I love to eat.  Because of that, I don't want to eat crappy food just to "fill up".  Maybe I'll eat until I'm full on special occasions, but only if the food is awesome and I'm enjoying every bite.  Having great food is much more important to me than having more food.
  • I want to feel satisfied after eating, and not feel hungry again for many hours.  I don't need to feel full… I just want to not think about food for a while, and not get into trouble because of it.
  • There are some special foods that I love, but I don't need to have them every day.  In most cases having them every week or even every month or two is fine — I enjoy them even more, and I am not suffering in between treat-times.  When I do have them, I want to have "enough" but I prefer not to have too much.
  • I don't think I should need to eat foods I don't care for just because they are "good for me".  I am not in danger of being malnourished.  If my body needs something, I'll probably get a craving for it, if I can learn to listen to the signals.
  • I keep hearing about how eating fat makes you fat, but history tells me that bacon and eggs are not new on the world stage.  Low-fat and highly processed foods are new, however.  I should seek out "real" food and I should be skeptical of anything my grandparents would not have recognized as food.
  • Industrial food-makers have a vested interest in selling me foods made of corn and wheat, because it is cheap for them to make.  I have a good job, so I can afford to pay the full, true cost of my food.  Cheaper food is seldom better food.  I want my choice of food to reflect my deeply-held moral beliefs as well as being good for my body.
  • I believe that I should have some exercise, but I also believe it should be in moderation too.  I believe it will be easier to eat less than to raise my exercise level to match the excess in my diet.  I am skeptical of a diet that comes with a required exercise plan–I know they show short-term results, but it is not a good fit for the rest of my life.