June 23, 2012

Low-Carb High-Fat

P1000650.JPGIt is an observable fact low-carb diets work better than any other diet currently studied. Unfortunately, this is not yet common knowledge as low-fat high-sugar food products are still ubiquitous. If you want to lose weight, there is nothing more effective that you can use will-power on than worrying about how many carbs you are consuming. The underlying physiologically mechanisms are up for debate, but they seem irrelevant to those trying to lose weight. This fact has been repeatedly observed over a dozen times in controlled intervention studies:

  1. Shai I, et al. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet. N Engl J Med 2008;359(3);229-41.
  2. Gardner CD, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and learn Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women. The a to z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2007;297:969-977.
  3. Brehm BJ, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88:1617-1623.
  4. Samaha FF, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity. N Engl J Med 2003;348:2074-81.
  5. Sondike SB, et al. Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents. J Pediatr. 2003 Mar;142(3):253-8.
  6. Aude YW, et al. The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat. A Randomized Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:2141-2146.
  7. Volek JS, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 1:13.
  8. Yancy WS Jr, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia. A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:769-777.
  9. Nichols-Richardsson SM, et al. Perceived Hunger Is Lower and Weight Loss Is Greater in Overweight Premenopausal Women Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High- Protein vs High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105:1433-1437.
  10. Krebs NF, et al. Efficacy and Safety of a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet for Weight Loss in Severely Obese Adolescents. J Pediatr 2010;157:252-8.
  11. Summer SS, et al. Adiponectin Changes in Relation to the Macronutrient Composition of a Weight-Loss Diet. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print]
  12. Halyburton AK, et al. Low- and high-carbohydrate weight-loss diets have similar effects on mood but not cognitive performance. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:580-7.
  13. Dyson PA, et al. A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Diabet Med. 2007 Dec;24(12):1430-5.
  14. Keogh JB, et al. Effects of weight loss from a very-low-carbohydrate diet on endothelial function and markers of cardiovascular disease risk in subjects with abdominal obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:567-76.
  15. Volek JS, et al. Carbohydrate Restriction has a More Favorable Impact on the Metabolic Syndrome than a Low Fat Diet. Lipids 2009;44:297-309.
  16. Daly ME, et al. Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in Type 2 diabetes-a randomized controlled trial. Diabet Med. 2006 Jan;23(1):15-20.
  17. Westman EC, et al. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low- glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr. Metab (Lond.)2008 Dec 19;5:36.

January 31, 2010


Looking back on the goals I made last February, I accomplished only one: 2x bodyweight deadlift. I did make progress on all of the others, but of course doing all of them was a little ambitious. Still, I'm working every day, and little by little, I'll get there. I'm very fond of Olympic Weightlifting and the gymnastics moves I'm working on, so I'm sure progress will continue. I can't make up for 28 years of not doing really any lifting or gymnastics in the space of eighteen months.

That's really how it is with everything though. Your habits and what you work at everyday are what decide where you end up. You can't accomplish it all in one day. You can't have a healthy relationship, a rewarding job, and a healthy body without working at these things every day. The same works in reverse. You can't get fat and unhappy with where you are in life without neglecting these things for months at a time.

This is something I've been thinking about since I recently finished reading "The Borderlands of Science," by Michael Shermer. It is clear that our society prefers to see genius as some kind of magical inspiration: that innovation and brilliance are things that you are gifted with, not things you have to work for. Examples Shermer shows are the myths surrounding figures like Mozart and Newton. Music was Mozart's entire life, yes, he was gifted, but he had worked his talents since an incredibly young age. Newton spent years failing to solve the problems our society boils down to some 'a-ha' moment under an apple tree. Yes, it's more dramatic and interesting without all of those years of practice and study, but the dramatic version is very misleading.

I am an extremely curious person (as is Lucy, which and whom I absolutely love), and I have spent a lot of time reading books, listening to lectures, and researching many subjects which have nothing to do with my area of study in school. There are people who do not do the research, they hear part of a story on the news, and then talk about the subject like they actually know something about it. If you attempt to augment anything they say, you either come off as a know-it-all, or the subsequent discussion is completely fruitless. No, I do not have a Master's degree in religious studies, but while you were watching "The Real World vs Road Rules" I was reading Hume and studying biblical history. You don't get to understand and preach to people about an issue you have only put five minutes of thought into.

If you don't try to learn something new or study things you are interested in. Shut the fuck up. Seriously. If you don't invest some of your time everyday in becoming more knowledgeable or even practicing abstract thought, you probably don't have anything to offer other than mis-information and confusion. This goes doubly for religious people. I can't compete with your religious thinking; I've only had ~20 years of practice, while you went pro. And you can't compete with my knowledge of the history of your religion, or my reliance on things like logic and reason. The older we get, the more our paths diverge and the less likely it is that we will be able to talk to each other productively.

You can not play World of Warcraft for hours every day and expect the other things you want in life to just fall into place for you. If video games are important to you, and that's what you see yourself doing in 20 years, by all means, level another character. It takes many, many hours of doing something before any potential can be realized. The longer you neglect something, the longer it is going to take to catch up. It's true that some people are more efficient than others, and some people are more gifted than others. However, the difference is in degrees not in kinds. Just do what's important to you every day. Do the things that are part and parcel to where you see yourself in the future, and don't expect results otherwise.

January 19, 2010

Saturated Fat

I've realized that I've been using facebook to replace my blog, and that's the reason I haven't been writing as much. The problem with facebook is you don't really get enough space to say anything, only to be misunderstood.

So, I've been meaning to write an article about what I have discovered doing food and diet research over the last year or so, both online and on myself. But until I get around to that I found some recent studies pretty interesting:

Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition
Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease

Basically, these far-reaching studies completely exonerate saturated fat and fat in general (excluding manufactured trans fat) from either cancer or heart disease. There is no reason for anyone to eat low-fat products or stay away from fat. I suppose you could make an argument that it could help you reduce your caloric intake, but I could probably make a better argument that the opposite would be achieved.

What's not surprising though, is that these huge studies are not getting the headlines they deserve. The news has been telling us about "artery clogging saturated fat" for almost three decades, with not much evidence to support these scary headlines. I'm not surprised they aren't going to stop so suddenly. I've seen Men's Health do quite a bit of publishing about how Saturated Fat is harmless, but not any major news outlets. Even worse, as I write this it seems the United Kingdom is waging its own war on Saturated fat:

Not all fats are equal - saturated fat is the real baddie
Reduce your intake of saturated fats or suffer a heart condition
Ban butter to save lives, says heart surgeon

I love the ridiculous language in these articles. Especially numbers just thrown around "we eat 20% more saturated fat than is good for us." Huh? How can you possibly know? The diet tips are horrible, and are only going to lead to people trading benign saturated fat calories for processed food calories and eating more. Just like this whole low-fat craze has done in the United States.

I say, eat the skin on the chicken. It's delicious. Eat the fat on the steak, it's the best part. The fatty food tastes better, it's more satisfying, and I believe it let's people automatically consume less calories without having to think about it.

We've been eating saturated fats for millions of years. In the last few decades so many new, processed foods have come along and sugar has been added to almost everything. Our food has changed dramatically. In what kind of insane universe did we still blame saturated fat (something that has been fairly constant) after seeing Obesity rates do this:


July 29, 2009

Europe and LA

barcelona.JPGI've been traveling for the last 3 months. I spent 7 weeks in Europe, and now I'm in LA visiting again. This time, I'm staying for a month. I'm living next to Occidental College in a house that takes me back 10 years ago to starting college at 1234 Alameda Ave with my brother. There's something about housing next to colleges that is universally familiar. Is it all of the college students? Something else, or a combination of things? I don't know.

Europe was educational, I had a great time, but of course it reinforced a lot of stereotypes. Italians are insane drivers and don't know how to make a queue. Germans are clean and a little reserved. Spaniards are friendly and stay up really late. Beyond that, I saw that there are a lot of different ways to do things and still get similar results: more than one way to skin a cat. Things I think we should adopt from Europe: Deposits on shopping carts; no compulsory tipping; greater importance on higher education; greater food quality and diversity; and better public transportation. Things Europe needs: public toilets (do you want your cities smelling like piss?), free water, and free internet. We both have problems with our governments, but they probably have more.

The shopping carts deposit thing is just an annoyance of mine. Why can't you assholes take 20 seconds and put your shopping carts away so that they don't turn the parking lot into an obstacle course? I know you're driving far far away and no one will know that you are the asshole that left it there, but it's kind of like litter. If you don't throw trash on the ground in my neighborhood I won't throw trash on the ground in your neighborhood and then we won't have to pick up after each other. Regardless, the whole deposit thing solves the problem of your laziness very economically. Albeit with the minor annoyance of needing change to do your shopping.

Tipping. Compulsory tipping is just dumb. I don't know how this cultural phenomenon caught on in America. I'm going to a restaurant. I'm buying food. Why do I have to decide how good of a job your waiter or waitress is doing? You're the one that hired them. Find a good one or two. Pay them a good wage. Roll it into the cost of your food, and now I don't have to be bothered with the bullshit of tipping at the end of every meal. Plus, waiters, valets, pizza delivery boys, people who get tipped generally make more money than they are really worth. What they are worth is on a different scale/market than everyone else because they aren't being paid in the same manner as everyone else. If they only made around 8 bucks an hour, maybe more kids would want to go to college instead of parking cars for a living, making more than they could being a school teacher or police officer. In a society where valets make more than public servants, you get smart valets and dumb police officers. Nice work.

Anyway, I'm enjoying LA. I missed the west and the snobs, my snob especially. If all goes as planned I'll be back out west after graduation.

April 25, 2009

Total Perspective Vortex

I'm going to Europe in less than 3 weeks. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm going to see my sister in Rome, my brother in Frankfurt, and attend a wedding in Spain. Before that, I'm going to take a trip to Los Angeles. I haven't been to LA since my sister lived there, which must be around 8 years. I didn't think I would ever say this, but I'm really excited to spend a weekend in LA.

A few months ago I had this panic attack. I guess that's what it was. I was driving back from Georgia, hadn't slept all night, and decided to pull over and take a nap in some hotel parking lot in northern Florida. I slept about two hours, comfortably, but when I woke up I was disoriented. I knew where I was, and I started driving, but felt so out of place in the world. I felt the meaninglessness of my existence, the imminence of death, and an overwhelming feeling of dread. I knew the state of mind couldn't last forever, so I kept driving towards my destination, just telling myself it would pass.

It probably only lasted twenty minutes. I got to thinking afterwards: the way I was seeing the world during those twenty minutes was probably more accurate than the twenty nine years before. That is, my perspective of my own place in the relatively limitless expanses of time and spice was more accurate. I am not the center of the universe, and thinking that I am is probably only my monkey brain coping with this fact in the most evolutionarily advantageous way, by completely ignoring it. For twenty minutes, these coping mechanisms broke down, and I saw how completely impossible it would be for humans to walk around all day, every day seeing their own lives in full perspective. 

We spend so much time trying to escape the reality of our mortality. We read books. We watch movies. We daydream. We get lost in pleasure. We work our days away. We drink our weekends away. We go to church and try to convince ourselves we aren't going to die one day, at least not permanently. Even though we see the permanence of death every day. I'm glad my monkey brain doesn't let me see my world in full perspective. It can keep fooling me. I will keep in mind that I'm being fooled, remembering that I'm human, and I'm going to die one day.