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I believe in low carb - I just don't get WHY everyone in Japan is THIN!!!

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  • I believe in low carb - I just don't get WHY everyone in Japan is THIN!!!

    Just returned from 3 months in Tokyo. I can't emphasize enough that EVERYONE there is thin. People in their 20's, 40's, 70's...they are all thin. I lived as a Japanese while there...so I ate what they ate. Personally, I lost 6 lbs in the 3 months, not a small feat considering I ate everything that crossed my path, including lots of beer and loads of sweets. (I'm 54, fat since I was a kid, have lost 65 lbs over the course of 4 years...now trying Primal for the next 40 I still need to lose). I attribute my weight loss to tons of walking - but I was walking more than most Japanese, since I had a ton of visitors from the US and I wanted to show them everything, so I was basically a tour guide for half that time, which meant days upon days of walking 6 or more hours a day.

    But as to the Japanese diet, please believe me when I say that the Japanese eat mass quantities of carbs. Ramen (noodles) is a huge mainstay, and their ramen bowls are massive. I never once was able to finish an entire bowl. They eat plenty of sweets, and there's a Starbucks on every other corner in Tokyo, with the same high sugar drinks as there are here. They love sweets, and sweets are either made with rice+red beans+sugar or western style. Ice cream is ubiquitous. Snacks are made from rice - rice crackers.....or wheat - cookies. They do also eat a lot of fat - fatty meat is served everywhere and on purpose. Half the cuisine is deep fried, after breading it first in panko. They are crazy about beef now, and all the fast food chains center around beef - either burgers or beef bowls. When they're not eating noodles or rice crackers, they're eating rice. And beer??? OMG. Beer is consumed regularly by nearly every male...and most females between 20 and 40.

    So....why??? Why are they so darned thin? I mean, THIN. And I mean, EVERYONE! In 3 months, I saw exactly 2 obese Japanese....and I was in Tokyo seeing literally thousands of people a day...

    I just don't get it. I went Primal 5 days ago (after gaining all 6lbs back in 6 weeks of being back in the US) and I know I'm going to love it. I just wish someone could do an honest assessment of why they are so thin. All I ever read is bogus crap about how they eat low fat - lots of veggies and fish and I'm here to tell you that that is total and complete bs. It's hard to FIND a fresh veggie in Japan at a restaurant. You get a teeny bit of pickled veggie, and some seaweed in your soup, but that is it.

    Sorry for the length...it's just driving me nuts trying to figure it out. They do walk on average about an hour a day, but still....

  • #2
    It's not like it is impossible to be thin on a high carb diet. Some things that come to my mind are:

    - Hara Hachi Bu - you now, the "eat until 80% full"-thing: so far I've only heard that this is part of Okinawan culture but maybe people do in general show a little bit more restraint when it comes to eating? It is not only about what kind of crap you eat but also about portion sizes. And portion sizes are definitely not big there from my experience. To me it always seems as if the Japanese tend to be a little more "in control" about various aspects of life, maybe that is one of them.

    - A japanese friend of mine once told me that no, I was mistaken in thinking that asian women just automatically tend to stay thin because of their genetic makeup (that was my theory and I'm still not convinced otherwise! ). She told me that when they gain a little weight, many women just stop eating because there is even more pressure from society to be thin. IIRC, her quote was "We don't really have boobs so we need to have long, slim legs to make up for it. Asian people are all about legs". Based on the TV commercials that you usually see on Japanese TV, I definitely believe her that there is much more external pressure from the media to be thin, white and perfect in every way.

    - "They do walk on average about an hour a day": well, that's at least something and probably more than the average American walks per day but probably not the most important factor

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    • #3
      You ate japanese fast food for 3 months and lost 6 lbs. The same thing that works for them works for you too obviously.

      So I guess your real question is why the japanese diet is good as interpreted in terms of our believes here. First of all food quality is a huge cultural thing there, even fast food usually has at least some real food as ingredients. Then there is the social standard of mindful eating, you aren't supposed to walk around while eating and so on.

      The more traditional japanese cooking is quite primal, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxgX5ZtupnM

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      • #4
        It's probably down to a number of factors. Perhaps their diet contains less gluten than a Western diet? Perhaps they eat more fat and protein which contributes to reaching satiety faster. They probably eat less and do more exercise.

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        • #5
          Did you notice if they ate LESS than people here do? are they obsessed with large portion sizes and "value" meals and stuff like that?

          I remember a looong time ago MTV had that Japanese competitive eater whose name I forget right now and they were following him around in Japan. He had dominated the Coney Island Nathan's Hot Dog eating challenge but said he couldn't properly train for it in japan because they didn't HAVE hot dogs like in America. The only ones he could get his hands on were some type of chicken hot dog or something like that.

          Could it be that despite the way they eat, the food quality there is still way better than in America?

          The only logical explanation for me is that even though they eat what seems like a ton of garbage, they're still either at caloric maintenance or deficit which allows them to stay at their weight.

          Also, are the Japanese healthy, or just thin? because thin means very little in terms of health. Thin vegans are halfway to death, is what I'm saying.
          I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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          • #6
            thin does not equal healthy.
            Heather and the hounds - Make a Fast Friend, Adopt a Greyhound!

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            • #7
              - Hara Hachi Bu - you now, the "eat until 80% full"-thing: so far I've only heard that this is part of Okinawan ....

              Based on the TV commercials that you usually see on Japanese TV, I definitely believe her that there is much more external pressure from the media to be thin, white and perfect in every way.


              Only Okinawa. I'm telling you, when I ate out with Japanese, I never once was able to keep up. Not once. ALL of them could out eat me.

              But yes....there's HUGE pressure to be thin in Japan, of course. If 99% of the population is thin, you're going to want to be thin. But there are also lots of pizza, sugary drinks and other processed foods ads on TV. So there's pressure to eat, too, just like here...

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kennelmom View Post
                thin does not equal healthy.
                +1
                Get on my Level
                http://malpaz.wordpress.com/

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                • #9
                  Patrick....anyone will lose weight averaging walking 5 or 6 hours a day, I imagine. I was not a "typical" Japanese in that way, though. They walk a lot because they have to, but not nearly as much as I was walking.

                  But yes....why is there diet good in terms of paleo. Precisely.

                  Yes...they are OBSESSED with food...and food quality. In 3 months I had 2 moderately bad meals. Their eggs have rich, orange yolks. Their tomatoes taste like tomatoes. Their grapes burst in your mouth with flavor. Their pork melts in your mouth with fat. Their chicken is so clean that eat it half raw (at yakitori places) safely. Their beef is famous. Their cakes are rivaled only by the French. Every single morsel in Japan is delicious.

                  I still don't see how that keeps them thin. I asked at my favorite noodle shop if everyone could eat the whole bowl. My server smiled as if to make a little fun of me (I grew up in Japan, I speak fluent Japanese) and said even all the grandmas finish their ramen. sigh....

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kennelmom View Post
                    thin does not equal healthy.
                    Exactly. The Japanese are perpetually tired and catching colds.
                    You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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                    • #11
                      Probably less gluten - but those massive ramen bowls are stuffed to the rim with wheat-based noodles. And I doubt your typical Japanese gets through 4 days without a bowl of ramen or soba. (buckwheat noodles)

                      They don't have time for exercise. They work 10 to 12 hours a day, on average. That is COMPLETELY typical. Add an hour for commute both ways, and you're not likely to go to the gym. They are under a lot of stress (cortisol) and they aren't very good at playing (except drinking). I sound like I'm down on them...I'm not. I love everything about Japan and will be returning in spring for another 3 months. But I want to know how they eat all these carbs and all that fat and all that sugar (many dishes are drenched in a soy sauce, high sugar, mirin mixure) and drink all that beer and stay so thin.

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                      • #12
                        Have you looked at Japan's life expectancy?? They beat us all to heck. They are NOT unhealthy, I can promise you that!!!!

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                        • #13
                          Maybe they purge but are real hush hush about it?
                          I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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                          • #14
                            Yes, you are RIGHT...perpetually tired. Meaning they aren't getting enough sleep....meaning they should have trouble controlling their weight! But they don't. It is a MYSTERY!!!

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                            • #15
                              can't speak to mainland - but after living on Okinawa for 2 yrs... Lots of fresh fish, seaweed, fresh produce and long slow exercise. The Okinawans lived hard and played hard... I remember going out w/some of my Oki friends and I couldn't keep up with them - food/drink consumption, then we'd go out dancing til 4am, then hit a karoke bar, eat currie head home at 8am - then meet at the local park for roller-blading from noon - 4 and start all over again! They also spend tons of time in the sun! In Okinawa culture awamore is considered essential to health. Its amazing what fresh sushi can do for your skin, and over all feeling of well being... I had a local sushi restaruant that's was packed - but since I was considered a "Local" b/c I walked to the restaruant and spoke hirigana - I could get served on a friday night w/o the 2hr wait - I would go there 3-4x/week for dinner... amazing!

                              When you'd meet one of the elders - you knew they'd lived their lives to the full and enjoyed life. They rolled with the punches and felt blessed by their life experiences. when I went up to the farming villages - you'd see them always riding bikes, walking and carrying heavy things...
                              The most depraved type of human being is the man without a purpose. ~ Ayn Rand
                              What's your purpose? Mine is Optimal Health.

                              Converted to PB November 2010
                              SW 190lb
                              Leptin Reset Redux (1Sep 2011) SW 170lbs
                              25 Sep 2011 160lbs
                              1 Dec 2011 158lbs!
                              GW ~135lbs
                              5'3"
                              Mother of 2, and wife to a kick ass husband...trying to contain chaos and havoc on a daily basis

                              My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread40609.html

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