The Harvard School of Public Health has announced the results of a painstaking 20-year study: fat does not make you fat, or sick, or anything else we’ve been taught about fat. In fact, a high-fat, high-protein diet does not contribute to heart disease. This is a mammoth issue in health right now, but the debate has been building behind the scenes of the drug, medical and food industries since the 1940s. I’ll be addressing it frequently.
For now, bear in mind, I have to stress that I am talking good fats (fish, avocados, nuts and the like). This is not a license to gorge on bacon (though I don’t think saturated fat is the health monster it’s been made out to be).
For those who have a hankering for some clickativity, the article as printed in Time this week.
Ladies, I’m concerned about the skinny-fat among us. You know what I’m talking about. Skinny-fat women might look nice in a v-neck, but they’d sooner crawl into a hole than expose an upper arm or leg.
This is what happens when you become “skinny fat” instead of genuinely lean and fit (where the muscle and fat are fairly evenly distributed and you have a lot less cellulite). While you can’t fight your body’s natural shape, you can certainly maximize what you’ve got. What I’m talking about is the difference between curvy and super-fit Gabby Reece or Evangeline Lilly and certain starving-yet-sagging starlets (I won’t name names, mainly because there are too many these days and who can be bothered to keep track).
Skinny-fatness strikes women a lot more than men. I think this is mainly because men aren’t afraid of lifting weights to lose weight (and, to be fair, men naturally do have so much more muscle and far less fat). We women, on the other hand, evidently prefer inventing bizarre and complicated diet regimens revolving around arcane preparation rituals, subsistence on one food group or arbitrary calorie limits (whoever said women were bad at math has never met a woman 2 weeks before her high school reunion or 2 days before a date).
Simply dieting will eliminate weight, but it won’t tone anything. And because of our unique feminine physiology, the fat cells in our lower body are world-class clingers.
But before you get too depressed about the latest Kate Moss advertisement, consider this: I’m bringing this up because skinny-fatness is about a lot more than physical appearance. In fact, your dress size has nothing on the bigger issue – health. The good news: simply being skinny is not akin to being healthy. In fact, the skinnier you get, the more you’re at risk for things like osteoporosis! (There I go beating that llama again.)
The less muscle you have, the less work your bones have to do, and they begin to shed that incredibly valuable osseous material: your bones, which are, in fact, living tissues directly related to your blood, immune system, strength, longevity – even your mood. You know how coral reefs are actually living organisms that provide all sorts of vital and irreplaceable functions to the fish and plants and water surrounding them? Your bones are your body’s coral reef. You have to feed them, and weight-bearing activity = food for bones. In this country of aerobic fanatics and serial dieters, is it any wonder American women have such high rates of osteoporosis and a perpetual state of skinny-fatness? I watched my own mother live on Tab and jazzercise during the early 80s, and now, faced with bone trouble, she’ll be the first to tell you: lift something! Who wants to look like Nicole Ritchie, now seriously? I’d rather look like Evangeline!
There’s only ONE solution to the problems we women face: osteoporosis, beach season, and the belly that won’t budge. The solution is weight-bearing activity. Aerobics will get your heart pumping and burn some calories, but it won’t maximize your shape. Dieting will help you shed excess weight, which is great for increasing your energy and reducing chances of myriad health conditions and diseases. But neither will make you look toned and sleek, and neither will do much to put a dent in your osteoporosis risk.
Are you lifting some weights yet? Get to it!
Technorati Tags: Gabrielle Reece, Evangeline Lilly, skinny actresses, bones, osteoporosis, cellulite, women’s health, skinny fat, ideal women’s body, weight training, weight lifting, weight training myths, fitness
I can’t tell you how furious I am about what I feel is the meat industry’s blatant disregard for human health. While I’m no vegetarian, I saw this study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and let’s just say, I’m not buying the “Happy Cows” line.
The researchers looked at 90,000 women. That’s a huge study. They compared US and UK women, and here’s what they found:
Eating more than 1.5 servings of meat daily doubles a young woman’s risk of breast cancer. What concerns me is the type of cancer which had double the risk: hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. To me, that says something pretty sobering about the meat industry’s production habits.
Both the study, and the BBC News article that covered it, are cautious to merely “suggest” a link between eating red meat and increasing – doubling – the risk of breast cancer. It doesn’t take much to read between the lines here.
The reason I think this study is really important to highlight is not because I hope to bandy a statistic like “double the risk!” about. (Remember the Statistics Game: always consider context and relative risk or results.) It’s important because the women who ate high amounts of red meat had double the risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. That is a big issue, namely, because the American meat industry uses growth hormone like it’s manna from Heaven. Growth hormone helps the animals get bigger, faster, which translates more profit – but I’m pretty skeptical about how this practice could possibly be in the interest of public health. I just wonder how these people sleep at night knowing their profits come at the expense of other human beings.
Personally, I believe it’s clear that human physiology supports being omnivorous. No culture anywhere at any time has done without some sort of animal flesh, whether it’s fish, beef or reindeer. So I’m not “anti-meat”. However, I am strongly opposed to the way meat is produced in this country: quickly, unethically, with little regard for the animals or the people eating the animals. That’s why I only buy meat that is free-range, local, organic and definitely hormone-free.
The researchers were careful not to draw any ultimate conclusions. I think we can probably begin to draw our own, with some additional critical considerations:
1) Processed meats generally contain a chemical known as heterocyclic acid, which has been shown to cause cancer;
2) Red meat, of course, contains iron, which can sometimes encourage the growth of some types of tumors (though this isn’t a significant concern, likely);
3) The standard line: “The biggest risk factors for breast cancer remain gender and increasing age.” This from specialist Maria Leadbeater, quoted in the BBC article. Fair enough.
Tracking your macronutrient intake is a surefire way to lose weight. Unfortunately, the process of tabulating fat/protein/carb grams for everything you consume has, in the past, been so time-consuming and frustrating hardly anyone has the patience or time to be so diligent.
Lucky for us, the folks at The Daily Plate agree – which is why they have created a free website that simplifies this process! Register yourself at the Plate and search for the foods you eat on a day-to-day basis. Worried your eats won’t be on there? No need! The Daily Plate has over 100,000 food items from which to choose, and are adding more every day. Whether you’re eating generic foods like apples, or brand-specific items like Bird’s Eye Frozen Peas, you can be certain you’ll find it in their food database.
Once you have selected what you’ve eaten, The Daily Plate automatically does the math for you and lets you view the total amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates and calories you have munched so far.
The uses of The Daily Plate don’t stop there, though. In addition to keeping an online food journal, there are other features: a calorie counter, a fitness log, and a way to keep track of your water intake. You can even input your weight goals, as well as receive advice and guidelines on how to see those goals through. Start watching what you eat with this free online tool, and start seeing results. It’s comprehensive, fast, and you don’t have to have an I.T. department to figure out how to use it. Try it out for yourself today!
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